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Hauling Hay

As my husband walked out the door to go spend the day planting wheat he just happened to mention in passing that if we wanted to we could come by later and check the cows over that way. We could even bring lunch! If we wanted to. Hint, hint ūüėČ

I had planned to go check on Ghost and Blossom and Joker, plus all the others since I was there anyway, at some point this week. Might as well take him lunch while we were at it.

Shortly before lunch time he called again. Was there any chance we could bring the semi with the hay trailer when we came? Since we were coming anyway. There was a pickup there that we could use to go check the cows. Sure, what the heck. We were going anyway. Might as well get a load of hay out of the way.

We got to the hot dust field and enjoyed out picnic of sandwiches and melons fresh from the garden on the side of the seed truck.¬† The children wallowing in the dust as they enjoyed what little shade it offered. Then we got to loading the bales. It’s so dry this year. They had cut a field of alfalfa despite it¬† not being worth the effort. There were a few bales from there and some straw bales from the year before. As m father in law loaded it he was complaining about the bad shape the bales were in. Straw is slippery and doesn’t like too be confined to net wrap. I needed to keep an eye out for any bales falling off, he warned.

Leaving the field I sideswiped a corner post knocking the bales askew but luckily sparing the post. They didn’t fall off though and everything was set right with a bit of rearranging. Hopefully the trip home went better.

After loading we left the semi set and went to look at cows. My son was excited to show his sister how he could work the float to fill our water jug from the stock tank. The jug was empty so we were all looking forward to that. After a cold refreshing drink we walked down the draw.

The storm that destroyed Iowa in July came through here first. We didn’t get hit near as bad but the seventy mile per hour winds knocked down many of the huge old cottonwood trees. Now they lay in the dry creek bed, perfect for climbing. The children who love to climb their tree at home scampered over the arching tree trunks making me gasp and shut my eyes sometimes. They were not afraid though and nobody did fall to their deaths, or broken arms even.

Wore out from climbing we hiked back to the pickup, cast our eyes over the cow herd on the way. All the ones we usually notice stood out, Poppy, Ghost, Joker. The herd markers were there. In with a few more cow calf pairs counting the heifers isn’t as easy anymore. As long as the colorful ones were there we could assume everyone else was too.

Back at the field we waved goodbye to my husband leaving him any left overs from lunch to get him through until whenever he finished planting that night and headed home.

On the narrow dirt road we came upon a tractor speeding along, just barely slower than us. I hated to try to pass him. With the hay on the trailer takes up almost the whole road and I wasn’t going very fast. He pulled off to the side though and slowed. I had no choice. We hugged the grassy shoulder as tight as we could and I didn’t think we clipped him. We did leave him with lots of dust as we continued down the road.

Nearly home, far past the last intersection, I slowed even more to watch for the cows that have been coming and going freely from their poorly fenced pasture onto the road. When, inn the road ahead, there was something. Not a cow. Bigger even.

A round bale!

I had been warned to be careful of loosing my load and here instead was someone else’s bale. Lost dead center in the middle of the road!

In a car or pickup we could have easily squeezed around the edge. There were a couple of feet of road and a decent shoulder on one side. In a pickup and trailer I could have backed to the intersection only a quarter mile or so behind me. In a semi with a hay trailer I thought hard about the fence post I nearly took out earlier. Would the bale already there knock my bales off as I brushed past it? Would the trailer slip off the side of the road into the ditch if I got too far off the road?

If I tried to back with no way of seeing past the trailer how badly stuck could I get it in a ditch with a small misjudgement? Was there any possibility of the children being of assistance and not getting run over if I asked them to go back and guide me?

None of the options looked good. So laughing about the ridiculousness of the situation we found ourselves inn I called my husband. That’s what I do when life has handed me impossible options, call my husband and he will fix it. Somehow. He always does.

As I explained our predicament he laughed with me. He would get a hold of the neighbor. The one whose cows were walking through his mostly down fence to graze the road. whose hay field the bale was in front of. We could sit there parked in the middle of the road and wait.

But. No! As I looked back at the semi and trailer blocking what part of the road the bale didn’t, here came the tractor we had reluctantly passed! He had caught up with us. Now he was passing us, squeezing carefully between the bales and the ditch. He fit! Driving past me standing in the road, talking on the phone, past the children hanging out the windows watching the show. With never a wave or a smile he drove up to the bale. Was it his? Was this where he was driving to?
Wrong color tractor for the neighbor of the cows my husband assured me. This one was blue. Whether it was his or not he picked up the bale. I got in the semi, released the brake, and we followed him. He went slow, looking at the cow whose calf, still in the pasture she wasn’t in, got lined up to nurse through the fence. He looked around then found a driveway to the hay field. He slowly pulled inn and we passed him once again, grateful that he was there to clear our path.

Finally, home at last.

Positive Punishment? Negative Reinforcement? A Little Of Everything?

Sometimes the lines between the quadrants aren’t as clear as we would like.

My daughter hadn’t been sleeping. I need sleep, I found this to be very strong Positive Punishment. Walking through the days in a tired foggy haze made me grouchy and miserable to live with. That was not strong enough positive punishment to keep her from coming into our room every night just wanting someone to come back¬† to her room with her to stand there until she fell asleep, over and over again.

We tried all sorts of different techniques to get her to stop. After the first few times which were nightmare induced, it wasn’t because of fear so much as habit. She would be up and headed to our room before she was even fully awake. We tried patience, I admit I yelled a few times, my husband made her a noise machine that played audio books for her all night long. Please just lay there and listen to your book instead of coming to get us every time you wake up, we begged her.

None of it worked.

We were exhausted and our tempers were getting short.

This is where the lines start to blur.

I have been making the children come with me to feed in the mornings since they have been out of school. It’s good for them and they enjoy it once they get out there, even if they beg not to have to go every single day. It’s a fight to get them out the door.

It’s good for them, everyone needs to learn about work and responsibility. To them it is positive punishment though.

I told her that if she could make it through the night without waking us up she wouldn’t have to come with to feed.

It worked. She said the next day that she had been out of bed and almost to our door before she remembered feeding.

So she went back to bed.

What  category does this fall under?

Not positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement would be offering her a reward for doing the thing we wanted. We are, but only in the form of relief from  punishment. The one receiving the punishment, or reward, is the one who gets to decide what is punishment or reward, not the one giving it.

Had she not slept I would have been applying positive punishment by making her continue to go feed with me.

Positive punishment isn’t always a bad thing. We think of it as punishing, cruel and hurtful. By the scientific definition it is anything that stops a behavior. In real life the punishment I offered is something that is far better for her than not to be punished. So often we, our horses, everything, look at things that are good for them as a bad¬† thing. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, sometimes it’s hard to do. That doesn’t mean it’s not the best thing to do.

We would  like the lines between the quadrants to be well defined and clear. Punishment bad. Reward good.  Really though life is a constant weighing and re-balancing of the scales.

She is still sleeping through the night. She is still not going with to feed. Responsibility and the importance of work in life will have to be taught at some point, right now getting to sleep through the night weighs far more heavily on my scale.

The Way That Calves Get Born

We were checking cows and we came across a cow that had a water bag out. Then we went and looked around. Then we came back, we saw the outline of a calf head and front legs. They were in the water bag.

We went and played around a bit more. Then we came back and it still wasn’t out!

We went and played around a bit more. When we came back it was hanging out.

We drove over and looked up close. The calf was stuck. Then mama went and tried to pull it out. Then it came out.

The end.

Hung At The Hips

Science class today.
Proper calf presentation at birth. How lungs are cleared out when they hang like this. And most importantly…
Will he ever actually come out?

 

Category: Cows, Family  One Comment

Facts About Cows

There was a dead calf so we decided to cut it open so that is why we are doing facts about cows.¬† We took the dead calf to the pasture and then we started cutting it open, but the knife wasn’t really sharp enough.¬† But we got it cut open.¬† We saw and talked about the intestines, then mama tore them out.¬† Then we talked about the liver.¬† The liver filters the blood and makes it clean for the rest of the body.¬† We wanted to see the heart, but we couldn’t get to it because the skin was too difficult to cut with the knife we had.¬† Since we couldn’t see the heart we cut the neck and found the esophagus and saw the rings of muscle in it.

We cut open the stomach. Last night mama and Lala fed the calf some colostrum. All the colostrum spilled out.

I felt disgusted, and like I would throw up. Mama was fascinated.

It was cold but mama said it was beautiful out. 8 thought it was all too gross and rode home with Lala

I want to learn more about the insides of calves and cows.

By The Goblin Child

 

My Side Of The Story

We were looking through the calves. My daughter was on the fourwheeler behind me. My father in law was putting out bales of hay for the calves.

As we drove across the pen I said look a chipmunk! It was hopping across the pen, big and grey with it’s long scaly tail stuck straight in the air.

That wasn’t a chipmunk! It was a rat!

Daisy was on the fourwheeler behind us. She’s a good rat dog. I started calling to her, trying¬† to get her to notice the rodent.

It was getting away though. I floored the fourwheeler and we aimed at the rat. It disapeared beneath us.

Slamming on the breaks I turned to look behind.¬† It was still running. Leaping off the fourwheeler I ran for it still calling Daisy.¬† She wasn’t caught up yet, I was there, I did it. My dad always told a story about him stomping a rat that ran under him while he stood talking along Lower Wacker in¬† downtown¬† Chicago. I had to¬† do it, the rat was under my feet already. I forced myself to stomp. The rat squirmed, wrapping¬† up around my boot. I could feel it. Screaming in¬† fear and horror at what I was doing I kept stomping, to keep it from¬† crawling up my leg as much as anything.

Daisy finally got there. I stepped back  and let her finish up.

The Goblin Child was cackling historically on the fourwheeler then hopped off to come see it for herself. Upon inspecting the now very dead rat she shrugged and we walked back  to the fourwheeler and home.

Daisy was  left with her prize. She carried it off the other direction.

Spring Snow

Pausing on the wind swept crest of the hill I turned and peered back the way I had come. From this high vantage point it was possible to see the whole pasture without having to drive it. Today I was happy to be on my gas powered mount instead of a horse. We could go as fast as possible, as fast as I could stand.

The snow was light but wind driven. What a day to skip my cap. Without the protective brim each snowflake stung as it burrowed into my eyes. I drove with head down, stocking cap pulled low, trying to protect my eyes.

It made it hard to look around, the sole purpose of this trip. So I sneak quick glances up around.

The cows aren’t officially calving yet. Not due for a few more days. There always has to be a few early ones though.With the cold weather coming in I want to be sure we don’t miss an early arrival.

No cows are off alone in a far corner. Nothing to worry about yet. I hurry home, with the wind now. The snow hitting my eyes still burns but is easier to avoid. My hands ache with cold. The warm weather for the last few days has made me forget that winter is not over. I should have worn warmer gloves.

Back at the buildings I stop to visit the horses. It is still snowing but above the sky is turning blue. Blue above, grey and snowing below. A horse snorts in my ear, shedding hair sticks to everything. Spring is coming. Eventually.

Category: Cows  One Comment

First Steps

This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal. It shouldn’t be. But for this calf, it is huge! This calf should be dead.

He was really sick when the guys found him. They doctored him and left him to his mom. The next day they checked on him and he was now blind. They hadn’t noticed anything like that the day before. We took him a bottle of milk and again left him for his mom. I called the vet, never heard back. I had to go in for milk replacer anyway so I drove to a different vet. She said Vitamin A deficiency with out hardly having to think about it from my description. She sent me home with a syringe.

We went out and found the calf in the pasture. His mom was there and she was not happy to have us touching the calf. We managed to hold her off long enough to give him the shot, slowly, in the muscle. That was a long shot. Then we decided to bring them both into the corral so he would be more protected from coyotes and she wouldn’t be able to leave him as far.

I snuck him a bottle of milk the next morning while she ate breakfast, making a mad dash for the fence when she noticed me there and came running. Then he spent the rest of the day laid out flat like he was dead.

I got the father in law that evening to come hold the cow off, or at least be there to call an ambulance if his mom should eat me, so I could give him an evening bottle. He said I could bring the calf up to the barn. I rode out in the bucket of the payloader with both kids in the cab with him. He lowered me down to ground level with her pawing and bellering not too far off.

I grabbed a leg and hauled as hard as I could. He was a BIG calf. The bucket started to g up with his head still hanging out. I gave a last tug and got him the rest of the way in. I hunched next to him for the ride back. He peed and pooped trying to fill the bucket and cover us both. I scooted as far away as I could while still keeping a hand on him. Not like he had moved all day but better safe than sorry.

At the barn I hauled him in the door and left him there, just inside. He was heavy! There was some straw there for bedding. He happily downed his bottle of milk. I spent the next few days rolling him from side to side, hauling in more and more bedding. He had a very healthy appetite even if nothing else about him was. He made huge messes. He stank and was usually covered in calf poop everywhere I had to grab hold of to turn him. Calf poop has a special kind of stink.

A couple of days ago I decided he was going to have to do something besides lay there and I hauled his huge hinney to his feet. He wobbled and swayed, shook all over and fell down. The next time I was out we did it again. The next feeding I propped him against the wall over my knee and he ate standing up! I moved him out the door to soak up some sunshine. Then it was back in again that night.

Then, this morning, he walked!! Just a little bit but so much better than me clinging to him to keep him upright. When I checked on him mid day he was not where I had left him. Tonight when I went to feed he didn’t want to eat. I pulled him to his feet and he took off! Well, for him this is taking off. He was so excited to be moving. He walked all around the pen checking out what there was to see.

See may not be the right word. Still not sure that he can. His eyes are no longer milky white but he holds his head like he can’t see. Only time will tell if he will really get better. He’s a bottle calf now, a sickly one at that, he hangs in precarious balance. He’s come so far though with such cheer and try. I will do everything in my power to make sure he sticks around!

 

Category: Cows  One Comment

Good Intentions

I keep meaning to go back and fill in all the gaps I’ve left over the last month or so. Somehow it never seems to happen. Maybe because it still hasn’t slowed down much.

There’s the usual calving, school, kids stuff. On top of that I am currently feeding four bottle calves! They are a lot of work and make me glad not to have any more children. I took over one calf who’s mom abandoned her at birth, then she couldn’t figure out how to nurse. I bought two others too. Now there’s a calf who went blind shortly after birth. My cow loving ūüėČ husband found him and doctored him then the next day found him again and he was blind. They hadn’t noticed anything the day before.

The next day he was down and couldn’t get up. I went to the vet and she said it sounded like he had a Vitamin A deficiency. She sent a shot home with me and said it should help and he might even get his sight back. We went to give him the shot and his mom tried to eat us. He ended up coming to live in the barn. He still can’t see or stand up but his head is up looking around and he loves to eat. We’ll see if he ever stands up but as long as he is happy I guess we’ll keep going as we are.

I’ve also been writing course material and training horses for our next horse training endeavor. The same group of friends, Jain and Ineke, and I are doing another one. The first one was so fun and went so well that we want to do many more! This one is an update of an ongoing class. The Horse Tricks Academy, where I started out learning how to train tricks is receiving an overhaul. Jain did all the original work. Ineke and I are adding new tricks and keeping the facebook group going. Looking forward to this getting started in the beginning of May!

Then maybe things will slow down a little? Or not! So many more things planned, plus the garden. farming, working cattle kids home for the summer. Aghhh!

You can click on the link below the video to see the registration page

Horse Tricks Academy

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Electrical Issues

Snow has been forecast for this weekend ever since, last weekend. As the week went on the amounts crept upwards. By Thursday they were predicting nine to fourteen inches.
So Monday two of the heated automatic waterers were froze over. The fuse was blown and the new one immediately joined its predecessor. My husband came home from work early and he and his father check wiring, multi-meters and other things I shy away from. The short was somewhere underground between the barn and the tanks. Everyone hung their heads and cried a little on the inside.
There were no shut off valves. Not below ground at least. No way to keep the water pipes from freezing in one old tank that was perfectly good and one they had just spent days getting installed. The heat had to be fixed before the storm coming in with the weekend.
The power company came out and located lines. They found the short, or maybe just where there was a splice, simply wrapped in electric tape and  buried underground. With a payloader, skid steer and shovels they dug it up. The bucket snagged the wire, pulling it loose but fortunately just scraped the waterline, not breaking it causing any further messes.Sure enough the wires were black and insulation melted. My computer guy/farmer/electrician husband tested the wires before patching and reburying. He tends to be cautious and a perfectionist.
There was another short. Somewhere else in between, underground. The the snow melted and it all drained into the hole. Now there were not only wires to fix but they were under a foot of water. Pumps are good to have. It was still muddy.
They called up Scott. It’s good to know people with trenchers. Abandoning the old line They trenched in two new wires to reach the waterers separately to avoid anymore under ground splices than absolutely necessary. With shiny new wire, wire that’s actually rated to be run underground, above ground junction boxes, a new trench dug, and wire ran, to the tank that has had an extension cord run to it for years. All that dug through knee deep mud. Knee deep on 8 that is.
It was all buried in and working good long before the cold and snow hit. With time left over for taking the duals off the tractor and putting the big snow blower on.
Category: 8, Cows, Farming  One Comment