8 June 2024

Putting The Toy To Work

My husband bought me a Cadillac for Christmas. It’s a lot of fun to say, especially if I leave out about it being twenty years old and high mileage. But, does that really make a difference? He thought I needed a tow vehicle so I could get a trailer. I kept thinking it would be fun to tie a bow on it and do one of those obnoxious Christmas gift pictures. But I can’t even force myself to be that obnoxious jokingly.

I bought myself a trailer to pull with it. A pretty little matching horse trailer, modified so it can serve as a stock trailer too.

Our theme song is Chris LeDoux, Caddilac Cowboy, “horse trailer on a Cadilac, talking to the cowboy in the Coup Deville” 🎶

I’m very fond of my tow set up. It’s very pretty and frivolous. I feel a little embarrassed driving the obviously made for horses and play get up out here in ranch country with the big stock trailers and work pick ups.

Today my toys did some actual work. I was so proud of them. We hauled the last of the pairs to pasture. Calves in my trailer. It’s too dainty to load down with cows, but calves it can handle. Cows in the big stock trailer. I felt pretty dang ranchy 🤣

Then came home and carefully hosed it out so it could be pretty again and not covered in calf poop.

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7 June 2024

Happy Father’s Day

In June we take the time to celebrate a group who is often over looked, under appreciated, even persecuted in this day and age. Their contribution to society goes beyond anything that can have a value placed on it. And yet they are considered unnecessary and even mocked.

June is all about fathers!

Our children will be gone over Father’s Day, off visiting their grand parents, so we will be celebrating this weekend. Their father is hard working and devoted. He may not always be cheerful but he does always put his family first. He teaches his children to farm, garden, fix all the things, and how to treat their spouses with nothing but love and kindness for someday when they are grown. He gets little enough thanks, and not near as much from us as he deserves. No gifts, but we made him his yearly batch of cherry mash. The same treat the children have been helping me make him for Father’s day since long before they were old enough to be stirring a boiling pot of marshmallow goo.

My father deserves recognition and appreciation too. Growing up we would go all week without seeing him as he worked two jobs to keep us housed and fed. He’d leave before we got up in the morning and not get home from work until well after we were in bed for the entire length of my childhood. But, he would still drop everything and drive clear home from wherever he was working, to hook up the trailer and come rescue us when we rode the horses too far afield and wanted a ride back home. He still made time to spend with us on weekends and vacations and taught me how to work on cars and basic, very very basic, carpentry skills. He took the time to make sure I knew I could do anything if I tried hard enough and that there were no ‘girl’ jobs, I had better just get out there and get it done.

My brother carries on the tradition doing everything he can for and with his children who mean more to him than anything. There is no funner dad out there. I appreciate that he takes the time to spread that to my children too.

My grandpa, gone but in no way forgotten, who made sure his daughter could have a horse and passed down his love of a beautiful fiery horse.

All these great men and wonderful fathers out there. They all deserve far more appreciation than they get. Hard working and gone so much of the time. We sure do enjoy them when they can be around.

Happy Father’s Day.

1 June 2024

Feral

The children have gone completely feral again.

Last fall when school started we made them move back into the house again. As soon as school got out, they got out the tent and moved in. One night we made them sleep inside because the wind was blowing so bad, making life miserable. Then the next morning we woke to rain early in the morning. We went back to sleep happy and dry. They were a bit damp. The tent isn’t particularly water proof. A cheapy from walmart, you get what you pay for. But they were happy. Blankets and sleeping bags went on the clothes line to dry.

Last night we woke very early in the morning to thunder. I threw shoes on to go out and make them come inside. The lightening was flashing through the clouds continuously, so bright it was blinding. They weren’t sure why we wanted them to come in, but sleepily stumbled to their beds.

This morning blankets went back to the clothesline.

I keep thinking I should encourage them to explore further afield. Go camp in a pasture. Or out in the stack yard. Really live on the wild side.

But, we do, very rarely get mountain lions through the area. Even a rare as they are, it’s more than I’m comfortable with. Then there are the cows in the pasture. That would be bad 🤣  Even the resident coyotes make me a little nervous. I guess they can stay in the yard for now.

It’s fun having nomad, explorer children who no longer live in the house.

 

19 April 2024

Blossom

Blossom came to us immediately after she was born.  Her mother was one of those very painfully old cows some people like to keep around and let die on the place. She managed to push her calf out, then was done.

The calf wasn’t moving. We grabbed towels and went to rubbing her down. She laid in the grass in the sun in front of the barn on a warm spring day as she slowly woke up and eventually started to move. We gave her a bottle. Then tried to give her a mom. When no one would accept her and she wouldn’t accept them we took her and kept her for us. She grew up alongside Ghost. Our two bottle calves, cows now, life long companions.

As a cow she is great, when she calves. Raises a calf as big as she is. But she hasn’t bred back well. I really thought she was open this year. She showed no signs of calving. Until two days ago. She was running with the late and open cows out on corn stalks when I spotted signs of immanent calving. In no rush because she had just started showing signs I took Rusty out yesterday and we brought her in. She got to go in the calving lot with the other cows who are getting close. Up where she could be watched and would be close to help if needed.

This morning, the very next day, she was ready to calve. Good thing I didn’t wait any longer to bring her in. But, she’s an old pro. This shouldn’t be a problem.

All day I watched her. She paced then stood off by herself. Then this afternoon she laid down and got to it. But nothing happened. I had been watching and worrying because something just felt off. Before the water bag even showed I was checking her every half hour. Waiting for a sign of actual lack of progress so I’d have reason to bring her in. Then finally the water bag. She had half an hour. I carefully checked the time, then came inside, paced a little myself, washed dishes, got super ready and decided at twenty minutes that I was going back out.

There was no change. She was coming in.

My long suffering husband had come along, poor guy. He helped as we pushed her to the barn. Got her ran in while I got the chute ready. Held her tail as I reached in past my armpit.

The hooves were pointing the right way, pointy side up. Pointy side down means the calf is backwards. It appeared to be the right way, but I couldn’t feel the head. Thinking it must be turned back I groped about. Then I realized that instead of knees I was feeling hocks. It WAS backwards. And upside down. Yay. Thinking back to all the reading I’ve done about this scenario I seemed to recall reading that they couldn’t be pulled this way. Everything was bent the wrong direction.

A glove was pulled as I made a frantic call to the vet. It was after hours, of course, but she was in the office! She assured me that it could be done. Try to find the tail head. Use that to try to rotate the calf. If you can’t rotate the calf it can still work. Go ahead and try. She would be at the clinic for awhile if we couldn’t get it.

With that reassurance I dove back in.

We had brought Blossom in before she spent too much time pushing. The calf was still well down inside. Searching for the tailhead I kept reaching. Up to the shoulder. Ear pressed against her tail. Still no sign of the calf’s tail. I was going to need a shower immediately. Giving up on rotating I went for the calf chains instead. The feet were small, the chains went on fairly easy. And we pulled. The calf was tiny. Good old Blossom is a big cow. We pulled crosswise trying to straighten out the calf as we pulled.

And it came. It came out with amazing ease, rotating on the way.

Soon a perfect little heifer splashed to the ground.

Dragging her out of the chute, into the barn, we propped her on her belly in recovery position. She sputtered and coughed and breathed. With a sigh of relief we let Blossom out to great her new baby. Her first heifer.

Her first heifer who is alive and healthy because we didn’t wait any longer to see if Blossom would be able to calve on her own. A mature cow shouldn’t need any more than half an hour to calve once the water bag is out. An hour if you are sure you are seeing progress. After half an hour there were no feet visible. There was no reason to wait any longer.

This is also the reason we bring cows into the corrals to calve. If Blossom had still been out on cornstalks I wouldn’t have known she was having problems and if I had caught them it would have been a long walk for her and that calf to a place where we would be able to help them. It isn’t that we want to make the cows stay in small corrals. It’s that we want the cows safe and close so we can help when needed.

Blossom and her pretty little heifer are both alive and well, and spending the night in the barn. Now I need a name for a Blossom baby. Spring, for spring Blossoms? May? It’s spingy and will fit easily on an eartag.

 

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22 March 2024

A Record Sort of a Day

I started out the day by breaking a nail. It split clear down past the quick. Not usually a big deal. I came in when I had time, trimmed the nail down, put a bandaid over it so the part of the nail I couldn’t trim wouldn’t catch.

Then we had to pull a calf.

The calf was huge, The heifer was a big framed girl, plenty big enough to have no trouble with any but the biggest calf. This was the biggest. I needed more than the one hand I had gloved to get the straps on. The thick front legs were squeezed so tightly together it was all I could do with both hands to get the strap over the second ankle. Pushing the strap up the leg the nail caught on something. The straps finally caught. We pulled. She strained. She went down. We let her out of the chute, then followed her continuing to pull. The sun shone down on us as big white flakes of snow drifted down around us. Outside with room to move around we were able to free the calf.

A giant head, thick shoulders, and wide legs gave the calf a strange look even before he stood up.But he was alive and working on getting up.

Then after lunch another heifer was starting to calve. And another. At the same time, claiming the calf born earlier in the day without any help. They needed brought in and separated, Then we watched and waited. The progress was quick at first. Water bags out then feet showing. Then nothing. Balancing that need to get in there quick enough to help and keep the calf alive and waiting long enough to give the heifer a chance to stretch and have a chance to have it herself is tough. The first one I think we waited too long. On the second one, who had started working on calving a little later, the timing was about right.

The first one was laying in the corral and didn’t want to get up. Weak with trying combined with a wonderfully quiet temperament. She laid quietly while we hooked up the straps, catching the broken nail with every try, and pulled the calf right there in the open. It made life much easier. Then she jumped right up and went to licking her giant calf. Maybe it was more quiet than weak. This calf looked just like the other. Thick neck and shoulders, huge head.

We left the calf in recovery position with his mama licking on him and went to pull the other heifer that was waiting.

She needed run into the chute. The pull wasn’t awful. The nail was busy doing it’s usual, worse now after being bent around so much. The calf was the same. Big head, thick through the neck and shoulders.

That was four calves on heifers in one day. One of them without assistance. Three pulled. With the one other heifer calf born this year that’s five heifers calved this year, four of them needing pulled. Not even slightly decent odds. Hopefully the rest of the heifers are easier. I don’t know what went wrong with these calves. Last winter was a hard year on bulls. There was only one of the older bulls left over, the rest were young and untried. At least there was no way this is from my Hereford bull. He wasn’t with the heifers.

It was the worst possible day to break a nail.

But it was the best possible day to have my husband by my side. Those really good men out there need to be fully appreciated. He never once lost his patience, he never yelled or got short with me. He might have cussed the cows a little, but that’s understandable. He strongly dislikes cows but was willing to help with them anyway because they are important to me. He is strong and skilled and willing and gives me more grace than I know I return to him. Together we kept three very difficult calves alive and never did stop liking each other even.

12 January 2024

Breaking Ice

The weather went from pleasant, in the thirties and sunny, to miserably stinking cold.

School was canceled. Everything was canceled. The light dusting of snow never did stop. We eventually ended up with a few inches of dry dusty powder. None of that means the kids get to stay inside.

Nothing spoils an other wise pleasant day like coming in exhausted to bored energetic children. So they get to go out and play when we do. Besides, it makes chores so much more fun.

They chose to stay behind and play outside yesterday while we went to break ice in the evening. It seems like they should be old enough to stay home alone for short periods like that. Apparently not, especially with the terrible influence of the movies they’ve been watching. Trying to be like their favorite characters, one of the children, who wishes to remain anonymous, stuck her tongue to a metal bar. She managed to get free on her own without too much damage, but the evidence was there. A sore slightly bloody tongue and an odd frozen white spot still there on the bar the next morning.

No more Christmas Story for them.

We got to see the spot her tongue left when we went out this morning to break ice.

On our way out we stopped and gave the horses some extra cookies. They deserve a little extra to keep them warm in this cold weather. The heated waterers were keeping up just fine. Then we fought our way across the corrals to the unheated tanks.

Half way across the children collapsed to the ground. They couldn’t go any farther. The trek through the snow was more than they could handle. They took turns pulling each other up then collapsing on top of each other.

After that bit of rest rolling around in the snow they were rested enough to carry on.

Once we reached the cows I left the children to break ice while I gave my pet cows some cake. Soon the children let our cries of distress. The fork part had fallen off the pitchfork. It sank away to the bottom of the icy cold water tank. The three of us stared forlornly into the depths. We could see the tines down there, just sticking out of the muck.

With the handle and the ice breaking bar we fished around, stirring up the muck. I took off my sunglasses and handed them to my son to hold. Peering into the depths I could see a little better. Fishing around I hit it a few times. I also dipped my gloves in the water. Shaking out the icy water I went back to fishing.

Pretty soon a bare hand reached into the water in front of me. My son had decided to get the ice out by hand since our pitchfork was dismantled. I yelled at him about playing in water while it’s below zero. He put his gloves back on. Then continued to pick up ice chunks with gloves on.

Luckily the fork caught on the handle and I was able to slide it up the side of the tank. It was just about to break the waters surface when something else splashed into the water.

My sunglasses, forgotten by my son as he amused himself clearing ice, had fallen in. In that split second I pondered all my choices in life. What choices had I made that brought me to this terrible cross roads? We needed to fork to keep the ice from freezing a foot thick in this weather. I needed to glasses to survive the bright sunlight reflecting off the blinding snow. I might be able to stumble back to the house with my eyes closed. Why weren’t the glasses floating. Shouldn’t they float? They didn’t They sank clear to the bottom as I hung tightly to the fork.

Maybe we could fish them back up the same way?

My hands got soaked reaching in for the fork, but I wasn’t going in up to my armpit digging for my glasses. So I fished some more with the fork handle. And actually found them! They came up in a clump of moss and muck. I plucked them out, wiped off the ear pieces and tried to wipe the lenses. I didn’t have enough dry places to get them clean so I peered through icy frosted lenses. It blocked the sun even better.

At the next tank we held the fork by hand and scooped ice out. My sons gloves froze quickly to the metal guardrail fence as he climbed over. We all gazed on very impressed until he yanked them free, leaving chunks of glove behind. At least it wasn’t anyone’s tongue.

My husband came and rescued us in a heated vehicle making the trip home much more pleasant. Once inside we pealed off layers and laid gloves out in front of the fire to thaw. They need to be ready to break ice again in just a few hours.