2 May 2022

Popcorn

We got a new cow!

I’m just slightly excited about it. If you can’t tell. I’ve been wanting a milk cow forever. Either or both to milk and to help feed the bottle calves. Who wouldn’t want a milk cow? Even the kids keep wanting to milk her for us. Not to drink, but to make caramel from. That’s good stuff, I can’t say I blame them.

We might do it. It will need to be a weekend morning.

She’s a busy girl. She isn’t feeding five calves, but she is supplementing their feed a bit. And they love her for it. They still get their normal feeding of dry milk replacer. Then they get set loose with her to finish filling their bellies.

She is busy getting her belly filled too. She’s on the skinny side. We are shoveling as much food at her as she can take. All the corn she’ll eat. Which isn’t a whole lot actually. She’s been on sweetfeed and let me know that she would like her grain with some molasses please. So I grabbed the bottle from the kitchen and poured molasses over her corn until I can get sweetfeed for her. Gotta keep the girl happy. We’ll get weight back on her. Even with those pesky calves.

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27 April 2022

Feeding Calves

Directions for Ava for feeding the calves while we go to the esports state finals.

We will be leaving about noon on Thursday and will be back as early on Friday as possible. It will still probably be late. If it gets too late, could you feed them one more time?

I will have everything ready to go. All you’ll need to do is add water. There will be 2 buckets with milk in them. One bucket for each feeding. All they need is water. 5 bottles of water, per bucket, one bucket for each feeding. Hot water, as hot as it runs. There is a wooden spoon and a whisk on the counter to mix them with.

Then dump them in the big grey feeder.

There is a trough out there with corn. If it doesn’t have corn in it there’s a lick tub with corn in it in the barn. Go in the door by the chute. It doesn’t matter how much they get. I’m just trying to convince them to eat.

We are feeding a calf of Ray’s. It is in the pen in front of the barn with it’s mom. It gets a bottle in the bottle holder. You can hold the bottle if you want but it’s easier to feed that calf then the other calves. He will usually finish his bottle while you mess with the others. The feeder is hanging on the gate. It has a wire on it that helps hold it onto the fence, loop it under and then around the feeder.

His mom takes it pretty well. Might watch out for her just because different people. He will usually come running over. Wont drink if you try to force him. You can leave the bottle if he wont drink.

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24 April 2022

April Blizzard

We got a bit of snow yesterday.

It started Friday. Not the snow but the weather.

There was fog, haze and moisture in the air first thing, even dew. We haven’t seen that for ages. It was so sticky hot and humid that stepping outside was miserable.

Then the wind came up. It howl and ripped through the yard, even harder than it has been. Which says a lot because it’s been blowing. That night one strong gust ripped down tree branches and scattered kids toys out through the yard. Then the lightning started. The fear of fire makes any sleeping hard. Especially when you know they are burning out of control not too far away.

Finally managing to get to sleep we woke to snow!

A wonderful thing to see. The forecast predicted an inch. Maybe two. We had that already. The radar showed the storm circling. It was melting as fast as it came down and water was running every where. It was a wonderful thing to see. And the snow was still coming down.

We checked cows, luckily no calves. Some were huddled in good sheltered places. Some stood in the worst possible. Ghost’s brand new calf was laid against a fence, as dry as he could get, out of the never ceasing wind. The bottle calves were hesitant to cone out of their shed. They had never seen the white stuff before. They ate quickly, hungerly than ran back to safety.

The children forced outside to play and use up energy climbed snowbanks that drifted well over the fences.

This morning the snow had stopped. Sunshine and blue sky teased us that it might be warm, but the wind is still howling. After feeding and making sure everything was safe and healthy we went out for a drive. We had heard stories of stranded travelers and people staying with the neighbors until they could get their cars out of the ditch. We wanted to see for our selves.

The highway was nearly deserted. Still closed we heard as we parked in the middle of the road to talk. People had taken it upon themselves to move the barricades so they could get through but the roads were supposed to be closed. A semi blocked half of the road, not tipped on its side only by the grace of God. Most of the wheels were off the ground. A pickup buried way off the road. The car of a pair of college professors who couldn’t get home on the usual road so instead of staying where they were decided to try taking the long way. Instead they ended up in a ditch, walking through the storm to the nearest house. Luckily for them they were taken in, given a warm place to stay, then pulled out this morning. Maybe they should teach classes in not doing stupid things at the college?

In town buildings were opened to take in more stranded travelers. I don’t remember ever hearing about that? Maybe I just didn’t know in the past? Maybe more people were caught unaware with the forecast for an inch of snow and nearly ninety degree weather the day before.

We are not complain about the snow. It was wonderful! The most moisture we’ve seen for the last year. That’s all together, not at once. With this snow we might just have a little bit of grass. If nothing else the dust might not be blowing as bad for a few days. Hopefully this will be the start and rain will come again.

15 April 2022

Doing It Myself, Or Not

Yes, it would be easier to do it myself Heaven knows it would be faster. The waiting is hard. Watching as expensive milk replacer gets sloshed around and spilled or nearly spilled has me gasping and holding my breath. I can’t stand to watch. Teeth clinched my husband and I both stand back and watch. Or better yet don’t watch, as the children prepare the milk to feed their bottle calves.

After helping and instructing on how and how much milk to mix, the preparation and most of the feeding is their responsibility. We watch them go slowly and struggle. If we didn’t it would never be replaced by smoothness and skill. Strength will be built in the difficulties, not in taking care of it for them.

We don’t over face them and are always there to help if really needed. They don’t usually want help. Pride in the ability to do the job and do it well is already setting in. That doesn’t mean they don’t need harried to get to get to work. They’re still children. Nothing wrong with that. They’ll grow up soon enough. I’ll enjoy their childishness while they’re children.

They aren’t strong enough to do everything themselves. They’re building strength though! It wont be long and those hard jobs will be easy for them.

Bottle calves are a perfect opportunity for training children!

10 April 2022

Bottle Calves

We went through a period of very quickly collecting bottle calves. I was worried about being able to get any. Then one showed up. By the next day, before I had the opportunity to spend much time worrying about him being alone, we ended up with a second. One more by the next weekend and two more before that week was over. Now we are at capacity and no more have turned up.

The kids are doing an amazing job at taking care of the feeding and go out regularly to play with them. 8 got to name the first three calves. All bull calves and soon to be steers. We have Sug, Elon, and Radio Active. The Goblin Child has claimed Sug as her own.

The Goblin Child named the last two, heifers. We have Iris, supposedly a Greek god of flowers and rainbows? And Athena. That god we know.

13 December 2021

Sorting Bulls

I got hurt sorting bulls.

It sounds so cool and leaves so many opportunities for the imagination to form terrible and fascinating pictures of what could have happened. Ferocious fighting bulls, horses tripping, danger, excitement, the romance of the west. That make me look like a cool cowgirl, out there doing tough cowgirl things.

I fell off my 4wheeler.

That one doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. It brings to mind working cattle ‘farmer style’ in the mud and muck. The pretty clothes out of the picture with muck boots, probably overalls, replacing silk scarves and big hats.

As usual with life, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

The kids and I did great. The bulls needed sorted out of the cows. Why? Because it had been decreed that it was time I guess, after they had been running with the cows most of the year, it was suddenly time to pull them. My husband had left the house well before we left to go to church. He was off to go feed and fix a waterer that had been blowing fusses and freezing solid. When we got home he was still working on the waterer. That was when I learned that the bulls needed sorted. After a quick lunch he went back to fighting damage from mice in an antique.

I decided that we could help him out a little. The kids could manage a gate. I could probably get the bulls out by myself with my trusty green mount.

The kids did great. Bulls can be dangerous. Not because they mean to be. Usually they’re just so big they run things over by accident. We are no more to them than a fly we swat halfheartedly. I told them what to do, to get well away from the gate if a bull was coming. That playing around it would probably be enough to keep anything else from getting near. It worked wonderfully. Four bulls quietly and easily brought from the herd and out the gate. I was starting to worry about one of them deciding to come back in and the kids not noticing it coming from behind. They were in the long lane that runs between the feed bunks. The bulls were mostly standing happily eating the calves ration. But no, I couldn’t just leave them be.

I called the kids to come with me. We shut the gate on the main bunch so nothing else could join us. Then started the simple task of pushing them up the lane. Of course the boss bull was in front. He was eating happily and didn’t want to move. The other bulls coward and shied, then the fighting started. In the tight confines of the alley. Realizing the hopeless idiocy of y plan I ordered the kids off the 4wheeler. Get on the bunks, or into the empty pen next to us for that matter. They wouldn’t know trouble was coming or move fast enough to get out of the way if the bulls ran over the 4wheeler in their fighting. The bulls wouldn’t notice at all.

With them out of harms way I tried a bit longer to move the bulls. Daisy quit the chase early, looking reproachfully at me for my silly ideas. My throat got sore from yelling. Two of the bulls went by and off the other direction. Guess that wasn’t going to work. The kids were playing in the snow of their newfound playground. Daisy had gone to the house. It was me and my trusty green mount.

We went back to look through the herd again, not having any idea how many bulls we were supposed to be getting. One more was standing out in the open looking at us. Pushing him towards the gate I was able to yell for a child to leave their play and go get the gate for me. Five bulls sorted out of the cows. Five my tired, cow hating husband wouldn’t have to mess with.

Going back into the herd to check for more bulls I saw an old cow. Lame and bony, she would do better out of the main herd and in a pen being fed with the couple of other special needs cows. I sorted her out and started easing her towards the gate. There was a bull standing in the way. I yelled for a child. My son came but stopped at the fence across from the bull. We had no way to go.

Then, next to me my husband appeared! Finished with the tank he was coming to finish the sorting. I yelled to him to go get the gate. He went without enthusiasm. The cow and I waited. In the waiting she decided she would really rather go back to the bunch. 4wheelers don’t maneuver as well as a horse. Instead of pivoting and easily stepping over to block her I would have to make big circles, back up, and generally be unhandy. So much easier to just hop off my mount and stop her on foot. I jumped off and leaped forward to hold her. My feet went right out from underneath me in the slick wet snow.

My brain took a snap shot of the moment we crashed, my brain and I that is. It happened in slow motion that moment, hanging there part way down forever as my mind recorded the wreck and the impossibility of changing anything. My foot went out to the side, I couldn’t bring it back into line where it should be, something in the back of my calf snapped. Then my butt landed solidly in the snow and there I lay. The cow stood over me looking confused and somewhat horrified. Maybe embarrassed for me. Silly human. Gasping for breath I tried to decide how badly my leg was hurt.

Then in the distance I heard something. The sweet dulcet tones of my husband yelling for me to bring the cow up, the gates were ready. Cussing on the inside I pondered the plausibility of that occurring, then pushed to my foot.Β  Only one. Although the other did still seem to be attached I felt no desire to stand on it. Luckily my green mount is easier to get on and stay on than my preferred four legged variety. We did bring the cow up and through the gate. Then we did manage to get the two young bulls sorted out of the calves. Luckily there were only five bulls. We had managed to finish that job, just the kids and I, without needing any help from the men. All cool and cowboy like. Only to be brought down by an old lame cow in the end.

By the time the job was completely finished, all the bulls big and small out and run up the lane to there new home by someone more capable than me, capabull? 🀣 I was done. Children called out of the snow where they had spent the remainder of the time playing happily were put to use opening and closing gates to get us home. Then to the couch and some ice. Today I am able to discern that I’m not badly hurt, just wimpy and apparently getting old. At this advanced age I really should be careful about ice and falls.

 

 

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8 September 2021

A Terrible, Awful, Kind Of Good Day

Have you ever had a terrible, awful, no good, really bad day?

I do believe that title is taken, but it was how my morning felt.

My wonderful husband got up and got breakfast for everyone, like he always does. I took a long, joyous sip of my coffee. Only to discover something in my mouth. Looking around for somewhere to spit it out, I finally decided on the table. It made a large mess, but I was relieved to find it was a moth that had decided to make my coffee its final resting place and not a fly. My toast was soggy, my coffee no longer appealing. I comforted myself with the reminder that I’d be going through town later and could get a yummy fancy coffee there.

I set about getting my chores done so I could get going and get that coffee. One thing after another caught me though. I ended up helping clean out a bulk truck and finishing laundry. I switched vehicles a couple of times ending up in the pickup and trailer with a four wheeler loaded instead of my pickup, the original reason for going to town. I need gas. Oh well. By now I was committed to town for reasons other than the original.

By the time I got to town it was nearly eleven. I walked up to the door of the coffee shop, only to come nose to nose with a closed sign. The lady was inside, but no, she was not willing to get me coffee. I consoled my self with tea from the grocery store. And a bit of chocolate. It was nearly lunch time by the time I got to the pasture to do the cow checking I had set out to do to start with.

With my chocolate for lunch and bottle of tea to take the place of the water jug I had left the house without πŸ™ I got to the pasture. The cows were mostly in the new pasture I had gone to the trouble of bringing the fourwheeler to move them to. What a wonderful day. A couple of heifers and a bull were still in the old pasture, Daisy and I got them moved.

Most of them.

The bull said no. I had been told to leave the gates open between new and old pasture. The bull could stay where he was. We left him behind.

After moving the heifers and getting back to the pickup I got to thinking about that bull. He would do nothing but cause trouble. That’s what bulls do. They jump over fences, tear up fences. wander the country looking for more fences to destroy.

What if I brought him home?

I have a friend who is my hero. She regularly loads the yearlings she watches in the trailer and brings them home to doctor. All by herself. No chasing, no roping, no dragging. Just a girl out there do the job in the best way possible. I want to be like her.

Would I be able to walk a bull into the trailer though?

She brings along panels and spends time out working with her yearlings.

I had myself, a fourwheeler, the trailer, a barbwire fence, and my trusty Daisy.

It seemed unlikely. What was the worst that could happen? No one was there to see me fail. I do all the fence fixing anyway. I would have a little more to do if he went through the fence.

I pulled the trailer alongside a corner brace, unloaded my mount and we gave it a try.

It didn’t look promising to start with. The bull walked into the windmill pond and said no.

My mount couldn’t swim. Daisy ran up to him barking. He said no. She looked back at me and shrugged her shoulders, I swear she did, and said sorry.

I sat a moment thinking how sad it was to have failed so quickly. Then I grabbed a piece of wood that was laying nearby and threw it at the bull. It actually hit him! He was so offended. He looked around at me, feelings hurt, then walked slowly out of the water.

Wow, weird, but not going to question what works.

Daisy hopped on behind me, Speeding around the water hole we rushed to keep him out of it. Wet muddy Daisy laid against me soaking us both The bull walked quietly towards the trailer.

With only the trailer door for wing fence, there wasn’t much to hold him. I pulled along side, he stopped and started to back up. I jumped off and got behind him.

He stood perfectly still, looking around, judging his options. Then he walked right into the trailer! It worked! I was, almost, as cool as my friend. Only because the bull was calm and easy going. Just exactly the way bulls should be.

My terrible, awful, no good day was looking a little brighter.

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22 June 2021

Windmill Repairs

The kids and I spent last summer checking on the heifers. Towards fall we took over the cow herd too. This year we are starting out with the whole bunch.

While fixing fences this spring we found one tank badly in need of banking, piling dirt in around it so the cows, and calves, can reach over the side to get a drink. It was dug and washed down so deep next to the tank that only the cows could reach and only if they stretched clear up and over. That left one little tank for the cattle to drink out of. If it got filled by the big tank once the big tank got full. Which it couldn’t because the side of the tank was getting smashed lower than the over flow by cows standing on tip toes to reach over the side.

I bugged my husband until we all went over and got it fixed!

Today was the first day we were able to get back over and check on the repairs. The tanks looked good.

We went past the heifers. Their tank didn’t look good. It looked empty.

One heifer was in the tank. The rest were standing around looking thirsty. There was water still in the water hole next to it. It wasn’t an extreme emergency. Something needed done though. Soon. I was trying to decide if we could move the herd of yearlings, cow people will understand the issues involved with trying to move yearlings, using only one pickup across a wide open hay field. Or if we should go home and get the pickup and trailer and two 4wheelers.

As always happens when I need him, whether I know it or not, my husband called. He told me to check a few things before jumping straight to moving heifers. I know nothing about working on windmills. He said to look down the pipe and see of we could see the rod down there that the chain was supposed to be hooked to. I couldn’t.

As we were talking about how it wasn’t going to work our son was fiddling around. He held up the pipe that we were looking down. He had unscrewed it! Now we could see, and reach, another six inches down. With the top of the pipe off we could see the rod! Brilliant child.

Hanging up we went to work trying to follow directions and improvise to get them to work. Releasing the break on the windmill we let the wind lower the chain as far down as possible. It wasn’t near close enough to connect the chain coming down from the windmill to the rod it had to pump to bring up water.

All we had on hand were my fencing pliers, one vice grip, a flash light we found in the glove box, and a piece of chain left hanging on the windmill.

Using that we were able to remove the piece that needed to screw onto the rod. We got that, and the spare piece of chain attached to it. screwed onto the rod! The horror that would occur if we dropped anything down the pipe was fresh on my mind and I repeated it continuously to the children. My daughter clung to the chain and the lower half of the concoction as if her life depended on it.
No matter how hard we pulled we couldn’t get the rod up any higher. No matter how much we let the windmill go hoping it would somehow lower itself enough to reach, it couldn’t. When we connected rod and chain, using our spare chain, we could get the rod high enough but couldn’t hold it there to disconnect and reconnect chains.

I was about to give up.

Just when I needed him, my husband called back to see how things were going. Should he leave work and drive over?

From the first time I met him there hasn’t been a time that I really needed him that God hasn’t sent my husband to me. I try not to let myself get too comfortable in the knowledge that he will be there, but he always is.

We told him our problem. He gave us a solution. Take the vice grips off the chain where we were using them to hold the two chunks together. Find some wire, we were fencing after all, we had wire! Use that to hold the chains together. Let the windmill pull the rod up. Quickly snap the vice grips onto the rod to hold it up where it needed to be, disconnect and reconnect the chains where they needed to be.

Duh. So simple but so far out of my ignorant brain.

We went to work at it. Both children had been right there with me this whole time, working as hard as they could. Accomplishing every bit as much as I was. What good kids and what a great learning opportunity.

With a good bit of trial and error, but no fingers pinched or eyes poked out by wires flying through the air, we eventually got it. We only had to take out bolt back out once to put the pipe back over the chain so we could screw it back on once we had the chain connected. Sometimes the wind died down. As soon as we needed to rod drawn up a gust would come by and turn the windmill. God was with us in so many ways.

Wires removed, nuts tightened on the bolt. break released on the windmill the wind came up steady. Pumping water into the empty tank. It was flowing again. The windmill working beautifully. We had succeeded. To kids, a pair of fencing pliers, one vice grip, and me in my complete ignorance of windmill. And my husband over the phone of course.

 

19 June 2021

Loading Cows

We got a call late last night. The neighbor would be driving his heard of cows over in the morning to load them using our corrals and haul them to pasture. No idea when.

So we went out by the light of the moon, a very bright half moon, and closed gates on the horses so everything was ready and they were out of the way. You never know sometimes, people will show up at the crack of dawn.

My hard working husband has been up at dawn all weekend, his usual one chance to sleep in a little, and out raking hay. He did the same this morning. I get to sleep in. Until about six thirty at least which is when the kids are up running around. The guys didn’t show up until late, eightish maybe? They came and unloaded 4wheelers here to ride back and get the herd. I went out to make sure my horse stuff was out of the way so they could get to the chutes with pickups and trailers. My husband came in from the field to make sure they had everything they needed. I hopped on with him and we ran to make sure gates were closed around the corn fields and to hold the driveway when they went by. There was barely time to get around that as the herd came trotting over the hills down the road. From our drive we watched them veer sharply off into the crp to the north then back again. Past us the trotted, off and running.

We rushed back to drop my husband off to get back to raking and I went around through the pasture to offer any more help they might need. The cows went right where they were supposed to and were captured in the high guard rail fences of the corrals.

One child was in the tractor helping bale. I ran inside to check on the other than out to offer any help I could.

They were busy sorting calves off. I was going pretty well. Of course that couldn’t last. The cows started balking. The tall skinny guy, I didn’t know them, they were people the neighbor had gotten to come help him, the tall skinny guy was trying to get only cows. The other guy was trying to help. The main sort didn’t go bad beyond some cussing and a few bruises.

Then there was the second sort. A handful of bull calves that hadn’t been castrated. Those were harder to carefully pull out of the other calves. More cussing and a few yelps, I was happy to be standing quietly at the gate away from the commotion. The neighbor was in there sorting now. That made it go a little smoother. His cows know him and are used to him. They don’t take strangers well. Finally the bull were pulled out. There was one brockle faced, spotted with white, heifer in with them. At first they were going to get her. Then the neighbor said to leave her. There was something about her he didn’t like, she wouldn’t make a good cow. She might as well go to the sale barn. The destination of the bulls apparently.

No sooner had he said that then she made a swoop past me. I leapt onto the gate. She ran past me and dove out the gate. The tall skinny guy was standing in the middle of the lane. Minding his own business. The heifer was running hard down the center of the lane. Heading elsewhere. Unfortunately they were both in the same place at the same time. She jumped into the air. He may have froze, he may have tried to move but didn’t have time, he may have thought she wouldn’t take him.

She crashed into him, took him down. Landed on top of him. Thrashed around awhile. They both were on the ground rolling about. She got up first, stomped on him some more then was off. He laid there awhile, getting his breath and his bearings I would guess. We could easily see why she wouldn’t make a cow. She dove for all of us a few more times before that bunch was put safely off in their own pen.

Where I had to sneak in and try to get a close up picture of her whorl! I did, with the handy zoom on myΒ  phone. She tried to eat me a few times. Fortunately didn’t succeed.

There were three stock trailers to fill and just splitting cows from calves didn’t fit what room there was to fill. There was a little more sorting to do. Pulling a few big calves off to fit in the trailer with the cows. One of them was not happy. Another heifer who took after us a few times. The other guy, not tall and skinny, hung out up on the fence with me. He had a few bruises of his own already and enough sense not to want a repeat of what tall skinny guy got.

The bull, the big one, not the calves, got pulled off too. He was staying behind after it took a lady with her good roping horse and herd of dogs to get him loaded and brought home last fall. Some may remember the days long adventure that was bringing this neighbors cows home last fall. The bull was not happy to be separated from his herd. As we loaded the others he tried to jump the tall guard rail fences, hung up at the girth and slid defeatedly back to the side he was supposed to be on.

With the cattle loaded and gone we moved the bull, bull calves, and killer heifer to a pen where they would have food and water until the neighbor came for them. Back inside the house I sat down to get some work done.

Soon my cow hating husband came in the door. Would I mind coming out? The bull had jumped out of the pen and needed to be put back.

Yay.

When we got out there he wasn’t hanging out around the corrals and cows like I had rather expected. Instead he was on the far side of a corn field. Great. I said I’d go back for a horse so we didn’t smash so much corn driving over it with 4wheelers. Working on saddling a horse I got a call. He had left the corn field and was headed east. Towards home.

I rushed out on the 4wheeler to find them and him in the section line. A ‘road’ between fields, no maintenance, no gravel, just grass. As I got into the section line, no where near him, he jumped into a different neighbors field. Freshly planted. We sat and pondered life for awhile. The mistakes we had made that lead us to this unfortunate position. Selling out and moving to town, going home and getting a rifle.

In the end we followed him into the field. He obviously knew where home was and wanted to go there. We could escort him. I drove alongside him my dusty dirty husband behind. The bull hadn’t been mean through any of this. He just didn’t care if you were there and walked right through you. With our son sitting in front of me I kept picturing how easily the big bull could turn and topple us, 4hwheeler and all. We switched places with my husband. Slightly easier to get out of the way without a small child to get to safety too.

Squinting against the dust we stirred up in the bone dry field the boy was a trooper. Proud of himself for being out there doing a mans job and doing a good job at it. He was happy to claim the well deserved title of a ‘real cowboy’.

We got across the field and the bull happily hopped the fence into the next neighbors field. This one was in grass at least and not as filthy. On the other side was the road and his home where he spent the winter and wanted back to.

So he jumped the other fence into still another neighbors wheat field.

The wheat looks great this year. They got the weeds under control and it seems to have gotten enough moisture to grow tall enough to almost hide a full grown bull. Who left a path of destruction in his wake. We didn’t follow. He was going fine on his own.

Fence after fence, field after field, he wandered towards his home. We sat to the side and tried to guide him as best we could. He went home in a round about way. Finally he ended up in his corrals. They are much less sturdy than the guard rail and railroad tie pen he left. Hopefully it is where he wanted to be, even without his cow herd there, and he will stay. If not. We’re all in trouble. Maybe he’ll go find a herd of cows somewhere and stay with them.