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Horseless Summer

Country kids grow up a little different than kids in town. I am forever grateful for our large backyard.

Right now that life isn’t so much about horses. They send their time standing out in their pasture, eating and fighting flies. We are busy hauling hay, working summer fallow, canning beans, freezing anything that looses it’s crisp when canned, working in the garden, and generally keeping busy.

As important as I think it is for the kids to work with us and learn the value of labor, we also do our bast to get out and enjoy the summer.

Hot days are much better spent in the shade or water than horseback though so we go to the lake or explore water holes out in the pasture. Soon enough they will be back in school and I will get to work horses again. Maybe even clean house! ūü§£ Until then they will be happy with a bareback ride in from grazing the yard and petting noses over the fence. I will be happy that they are enjoying the horses, enjoyment doesn’t have to mean riding.

Adventuring

We’ve been going over at least once a week and checking on the heifers. In a pasture near them there is a water hole. It’s fed by a spring that at some time someone cleaned out and dug a big hole around. It is quite the bubbling spring for this area. On past it the creek runs water. Before it, nothing.

We’ve gone before and thrown our fishing lines in. Not really in hopes of catching anything. We can see lot of fish but they are tiny. Instead just for something to do while we hang out together.

We went again today. Both kids had a pole and were left alone to figure them out. Or not. There was some success. Then they, one of them, got bored and started to wander. Across the creek¬† and up the ‘cliff’ on the other side. Eventually we followed. Up the cliff and across to the old windmill.

The windmill isn’t used any more. The tank under it is empty and collecting junk. All around it was more junk. Great junk. Foundations and remains of old buildings. We wandered thinking of what once was. We discussed how people would have chosen this spot to settle. No, not the trees near by but something to do with them. Yes, probably because of the spring. An easy close place to get water in this dry empty land.

On down the fence away from  the old building site then back down to the water, A different water hole. More big cotton woods offering shade and music. In  this hole we could see bigger fish. Still not big enough to eat but who wants to actually catch them anyway. Our poles were back at the first water hole though. Out on a fallen tree 8 decided to dip his feet in and Daisy decided to follow. We found a baby turtle shell, minus the baby turtle. Now we all had treasures to carry along.

The fastest way back was to follow the water along the base of thee banks. Or not. It quickly became too steep and there were nettles. We ended up climbing the cliff, with me carrying the pipe, turtle shell and a weird round thing I wanted. It was alot to carry up a cliff. Some how we made it then back down our original path and back across the water.

We were too tired to go back with fishing rods as originally planned and went on to check cows instead. We’ll come back next time. I hope.

Vacation

We been running and working so hard all summer there hasn’t been time to breath, much less get out and do anything fun.

Other than work.  Work is fun.

I still can’t believe it isn;t early spring. Summer should be just coming not almost over. When I realized that school was going to be starting shortly, maybe, I¬† decided we had to get out and do something.

Wheat harvest was just finished, short and sweet this year. Just a few days long and not much wheat in what was harvested. The next day was supposed to be unseasonably cool. I had  been waiting for a day like that. It was time to take the kids to Toadstool!

My hard working husband even took the day off work and came with us.

We went to the Cook Shack first. It was on the way. The kids haven’t been¬† here before. They were fascinated. Everything had to be explored. They ran through the town like real old west hooligans terrorizing the locals. The slated their thirst at the bar with a root beer.

I had one goal while we were there and had to get pictures of the infamous horse skull with the halter grown in. It makes the rounds on social media regularly and I wanted to show it in it’s natural habitat.

Then we went to Toadstool. It was packed. We got the last parking spot and grabbed a picnic table. I had packed lunch and we were getting hungry. The children drank their root beer and could barely contain themselves long enough to eat.

Once freed 8 took off down the trail. Or somewhere near the trail. Or not. He climbed every peak and tried to kill himself. It was the best playground he had ever seen. We gasped, held our breath, squeezed out eyes shut. Somehow he never did fall down a cliff or off a mountain. The Goblin Child followed behind at a much more sedate post but still did her fair share of climbing.

After making a lap around the short trail, with children walking quietly beside us by the end, we got back inn the car and headed into the depths of Sioux county. I wanted to go past Montrose and see the battle sight and church. There was a pickup backed up to the door of the church and the sound of hammering coming from inside. The kids and I went to look around the cemetery then wandered back towards the church. I had thought there was a plaque somewhere telling about the history of the area but didn’t see it anywhere. Maybe the people working would know.

Inside a young man and his grandfather maybe? Were hard at work. They were restoring the church to its original state and doing a wonderful job. They had no idea about a battle ever being fought there though or any historic plaque. I think it was out in the pasture, way off the road. We weren’t going to try to drive out there in the car. We would have to read about it at home.¬† The battle¬† and the town

From there it was back south towards the hills again. There was a small park I remembered stopping by years ago, before the fire that had cleared most of the trees out of that area. I could only hope the park hadn’t burnt too. It was marked on the map we had so maybe it was there. The children were restless and my farmer husband is not the fan¬† of the badlands that the rest of us are. I hoped I didn’t disappoint everyone.

After winding through the creek bottom and worrying that we had missed it somehow we came to the place, marked by a big entryway sign. Coffee park. We pulled in and it was just as wonderful as I remembered. There was an old set of playground equipment. The dangerous kind the kids love with a huge set of teeter totters that nearly gave me a heart attack, even after their escapades at Toadstool. A babbling creek that ran clear over rocks. Carefully mown and maintained out there inn the middle of nowhere. We ran and played and wadded and sat on the bridge and read, relaxing in the cool shade.

From there it was up Pants Butte road, the closest we come to mountain climbing out here. I loved it. The kids were not impressed.

Fort Robinson was on the way home so we stopped at the Ice House Ponds, not a place we had ever been before. It was beautiful but everyone was tired and getting grouchy. After a bit of playing and fish watching we headed for home. It had been a great day and a fun mini family vacation. We’re going to have to try to make it up that way every summer.

Rain

We spent the day getting the combine ready to go. The wheat was dry and the next day supposed to be hot. Miserably hot.

It was time for wheat harvest to begin.

Getting the combine cleaned up and ready to go is a family affair. Like all things in farming are. The kids love to get out there and help, they think the combine is one big jungle gym. We love to encourage them to get out and work, to learn to love farming, and tractors, and being with us.

Finished with the combine we worked in the garden, weeding and admiring the fast growing pumpkin vines. Watching them reach towards each other we talked about how they can grow up to six inches in a day. We took pictures so we could look again the next day and see how much they grew.

Towards evening clouds began to grow.

It’s been so dry. Rain would be good.

Rain is just as scary as it is hoped for on dry years. During drought we are just as likely to get hail, or dry lightening strikes, as we are rain.

The thunder rumbles grew closer and the cloud was growing right on top of us. When the rain drops began to fall they were big and heavy, scattered across the sidewalk. Then it started. Our son said it was raining ice. Technically he was right. I love the names kids give things. He was frightened and worried by the ice rain. Honestly everyone was.

My husband stood in the open door and watched. I couldn’t and stayed in the kitchen, hiding, as I cooked supper.

Lacking the wind to drive it the hail fell straight down, scattered and small. It didn’t stop though, going on and on. Then the skies opened and dumped hail in a frozen downpour. I buried my head in my cooking. My husband cursed it from the doorway.

Once it finally stopped and the lightening moved far enough away we went out to survey the damage.

Tree litter covered the sidewalk. Hail stones still covered the ground. Glancing towards the garden told me I didn’t want to inspect that any closer right now. On the fourwheeler, as a family, like farming always is, we drove to look at the corn fields. See how bad it was.

It could have been worse. It could always be worse. We’ve all seen the corn completely destroyed, beat back down to bare ground. The trees stripped completely bare and killed in one summer storm. It was bad enough though.

With lips drawn tight my husband stared silently across the tattered fields.

In the distance lightening still flashed in the dark clouds as the sun broke through the clouds. A rainbow lit the darkness.

It’s been a rough year. We will be alright. As always, as a family.

Walking

I’ve been enjoying walks along the creek in the pasture.

Not sure anyone else is, but I sure enjoy it.

We’ve been going over and checking on¬† our heifers. They are in a pasture over there with the other heifers, and Poppy, and I want Ghost to remember that she is tame. No¬† problems there. I was nearly smashed today because ALL of the heifers, and Poppy, think they are pets.

The creek¬† bottom is full of poison ivy and the creek is mostly dry. It’s still fun, in our boots and jeans.

There is a really good spring in  the bottom. The moss bright green where the water comes up. The deerflies were plentiful too. The Goblin Child was very confused at first. She said she thought a butterfly just bit her! Why would a butterfly bite her? We stared for a long time at the fish, small minnows and bigger somethings swimming about. The water rippled violently with the shear number of minnows flocking away from our presence.

As we climbed through the sprawling branches of a big willow the children following behind called for me to come back! They thought they had found a lizard!

Going back I found a big? Not caterpillar. Not grub. Something though. With its long body looking somewhat like a lizard sticking out of the cow poop. I had walked right over it but they noticed. We stopped and looked. Poking it gently in curiosity. Then continued on our way.

 

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Knight In Shining Armor

We had a storm blow through last night.

On the radar it looked like we might get rain, it showed clouds coming.

As the line of clouds got closer we started getting high wind warnings. Then the power went out.

As the clouds came over head my husband called us out to see the dust cloud. It was clearly separate from the storm clouds. A brown fog billowing beneath the grey. We stood watching it in horrified fascination. Until it hit.

We saw the wind hit the trees in front of us and we were pelted by gravel as we dashed for the house. Safely inside we watched the dust cloud envelop the yard. We could barely see across the driveway. Staring out in horror we were transfixed. Until my husband said the gecko was blowing away!It was a gift a few years ago. A well loved pool toy that they had gotten out to play with in our little pool. In getting everything else put away I had forgotten about the pool.

As I ran to look I saw the little green inner-tube fly past. It was gone no hope of saving and cheap to replace. I couldn’t see the Gecko though. My husband nearly knocked me over running to the door. Of course I followed.

Outside the drive was being scoured by wind. Dirt filled the air. The gecko was flying north, carried by the wind. As I dashed across the road after him I saw it hang up for a moment on his parents house. We might actually be able to catch it! Then it was gone again. Through the yard, over the electric fence, and off, into the hay field. Out there there was no wind break. The gecko was gone.

Still he ran after it though!

It hesitated in the lee of the trees, enough of a windbreak that he had time to catch up and grab the treasured toy.

Now all we had to do was fight our way back into the wind, carrying a kite, and keep from being blown away. In the house we scratched at scalps covered in grit, and used the precious remaining water, because there was no electricity, to wash the dirt from our faces and teeth.

There never was any rain with the storm. Only dirt and wind. After the wind died down a bit there was some lightening, no fires that I heard of though. 8 was traumatized by the whole thing. Terrified of the wind.  My husband was awesome though. He had saved our toy instead of staying inside out of the wind and filth. Now that was chivalrous.

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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

Random Stuff

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Still Schooling

It’s been busy around here. Although we are just starting this having school at home thing it is going pretty well. That might change after a few weeks ūüėČ

We’ve fallen into a bit of a routine, wake up and eat with my husband before he heads off to work. School is being taught at home and someone needs to make that possible and be there to support the teachers just like when they were teaching from the school.

Then we go feed cows. With school going this wasn’t mandatory, now it is. After feeding we check the pasture for new calves. Back home we do our school work. Short bursts and lots of reward for their work. My daughter is blogging as part of her schooling. She needed work on her writing, how better to learn than to talk about her experiences of the day. My son, in preschool, is doing his sisters math homework. Why not take something he likes and is good at and concentrate on it? We can tailor their learning to their individual wants and needs far better than a school that has to keep the whole class together in their learning.

Then free time on the computer or outside.

The rest of the day is spent playing, working, learning. Who says any one of those is separate from the other?

I firmly believe in the importance of play as learning, now we get to do it. Checking cows we learn about science, how a body works, what is inside of us, or cattle, how calves are born, what happens when things die. We use math, counting new calves, remembering what number we were on  clear until we find another calf.

They’ve been helping get the garden ready to plant, digging the remaining, still very edible, carrots from last year, helping clean out the greenhouse, and they will soon help plant the seeds of cold weather plants.

We’ve had in depth computer science classes, something we are lucky to be in the unique position to be able to offer much better than schools are. They, and the cousins, have helped build a computer and make repairs.

They’ve gotten better about playing together, learning about team work, as long as they think they are causing trouble. Hauling old posts out of one pile and stacking them in¬† the middle of the garden. They learn so much in that little act of defiance ūüėÜ

 

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.