We brought the cows home last weekend. We had warm weather and everything went good.
Now that Ghost is home where I can get to her and we have a fence I can bring her through so we can work ALONE. I am making the best of it and trying to get to her every day.
We are going back over the things she learned before we quit being able to work because of too much help. We are reinforcing treat manners, greatly strained by all the extra help. We are learning how to do new things like work on a lead rope and give to pressure.
She is exuberant in her responses and perhaps a bit over eager to work. I’m hoping that settle down as she gets used to working together again.
I’m learning a lot too. Like that cows are more sensitive to a curry comb than I would have guessed. Or maybe it’s nerves because she isn’t used to being brushed.
Cattle are different than horses. Together hopefully we can learn to navigate the learning in a way that works for both of us.
It was one of those fall days. The air was crisp and clear. Chilly but not cold with the sun shining in that brilliant golden way it does no other time of year.
We left early for gymnastics, leaving my husband in the field with his combine. My daughter asked for doughnuts, who am I to tell her no. We ordered ahead and stopped on the way to pick them up. Then ate them on the way too the state park. We had good reason for leaving early!
The children wanted to stop at the usual playground, or the unusual one. I had a goal in mind though. There was a picnic shelter, we had stopped near it to pick wild raspberries this summer. From the road you could see the trail wending up the hill. It didn’t look exciting from the road but we had never hiked there. Might as well give it a try.
Starting up the wide mowed trail the first thing we came to was a jack-o-lantern. Its face charred and black. Finding that out in a national forest surrounded by bone dry tender was horrifying. The ease with which a fire could have started was terrifying. Probably college kids out messing around? We walked on.
The kids fought the whole way up the hill. It was cold. They were tired. Why couldn’t we go back.
I was determined though and with a firm grasp of each child’s hand I drug them up the hill.
At the top the trail narrowed, then narrowed further as we walked. Then began to snake about through rocks forgotten as the rest of the hill wore away. Ungainly chunks of stone left bare and exposed. By now the children were happy. Nothing pleases them more than cliffs falling away on both sides that they can try to throw themselves down. Up and around and down we twisted, finally coming back to the car. Laughing and happy by then to have been forced on the walk.
It was too late to have time for lunch before gymnastics though.
Oh well a lunch of the remaining doughnuts it was!
Back home again they wanted to settle in in front of computers. Until I lured them back out with promises of combines and grain trailers.
A grain trailer full of corn is akin to a huge wonderful sandbox that could kill you. Shoes discarded at the bottom you have to scale the steep walls of the trailer, scramble over the top to find the safety within. Protected by those same fortress like walls play inside can be as wild and carefree as can be. Until the trailer gets full. Then the sides can be reached again. Bouncing must be constrained.
They frolicked until the trailer had to be hauled to the elevator and dumped. Then we took a break all squeezed into the combine together. With the children getting bigger we don’t fit as well as we used to. It was warm and sheltered from the biting wind that wanted to be included in the play in the trailer.
The children finally began to wilt from their long day. After a couple of rounds we headed back to the house. Who doesn’t deserve some computer time after a day that long? Tomorrow it may snow. Today we enjoyed fall.
The kids asked me today if I could take pictures of them at gymnastics to share. Of course I would love to!
They are so good at it. They can stretch and climb and do all sorts of amazing things. Mostly they like to play around with their friends but that looks like lots of fun too.
Both of them can easily climb the rope to ring the bell at the ceiling and can hang upside down from the rings.
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 😉
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.
We went for a trail ride this morning. A family ride. Not of the usual sort. I got to walk for one thing. 8 rode his fourwheeler and The Goblin Child rode her horse.
It was a great time.
As 8 took off leading us with the fourwheeler, Daisy mounted behind him, Lady wanted to go with. As though the fourwheeler was a horse and she wanted o stay with the herd. She started off at a very fast walk. I was stretching my legs out as far as they could go to keep up with her. Then she broke into a trot. Sitting up there bareback a trot was more than The Goblin Child wanted to do. Very sick with a cold it was way more than I wanted to do jogging along side!
We went back to a walk.
With fourwheeler in the lead we walked to the end of our road, down by the corrals to check on our goat. She appeared to be fine. We turned and walked back. Towards the house but only inn a round about sort of way. We circled the stack yard and the quanset. We stopped to graze or to climb on the swather/jungle gym. Then on again.
I was exhausted. It was time to head home for real.
The Goblin Child is figuring how to get off on her own bareback. Swinging her leg over so she can slide off is scary but she did it all by herself for the first time today. Then all by herself she lead Lady out and turned her loose, taking the halter off and petting Lady good bye. Soon she’ll be doing this without me leading them.
I admit it. I’m more interested in the horse than she is.
The Goblin Child is loving Lady. There’s no denying that.
She is happy to lead her out to graze. She straps on her treats bag and is even willing to hand feed. Something she has refused to do with any other horse. I am NOT allowed to feed or work with Lady. I got in big trouble for using her to demonstrate teaching a horse to step onto a pedestal. Only she is allowed to do any training. She is also happy to sit on her while she grazes, to lay down on Lady’s rump, to lay down across her neck.
Then, when done, she demands the reward she’s due. She has earned her computer time or a bit of candy.
I’m willing to give it. Time spent with horses should be encouraged by what ever means necessary. A halfhearted interest can grow with time.
I want her to be horse crazy though! I want her to demand time with her horse, not computer time because she played with her horse for awhile.
I guess beggars can’t be choosers. Horse time is horse time. She does love Lady. If it’s not as much or the way I would like, in a perfect world, it’s better than nothing. Not everyone can be as horse crazy as me. Even my mom says I wasn’t completely horse crazy at that age.
So I will keep rewarding horse time and building the responsibilities she is accepting unknowingly, thinking it is just more of the horse fun. She caught Lady and put her halter on, all by herself. The last time she rode she undid the saddle, all by herself. She rode around, in a small inclosed area, and wasn’t even concerned when Lady trotted off with her to the gate, all by herself. She happily leads Lady to the gate and puts her away even taking the halter off, all by herself. Come to think of it maybe this horse thing is working just the way I want it to after all 🤔💜
I took care of a few chores before following the kids in the house. After a long day in school they always want their computers and food. Food is allowed. Computers not for awhile.
The Goblin Child was in her room with the door shut. Do not come in! She yelled from behind closed door.
I didn’t go in.
A short while later she walked out the door changed from her school clothes into jeans and boots and her new shirt with the picture of Rusty playing fetch.
I want to get Lady, she declared. So we did.
There are no words dearer to a mothers heart. I was even willing to brave the suffocating heat of the miserable August afternoon if she was wanting to play with her horse instead of begging for a computer.
I caught Lady, because braving the herd is not something a small child should do, and delivered her lead to waiting hands. She was brought to the shade of the tree in the yard to graze and the hose demanded.
We were surprised to find Lady not a fan of fly spray, that always comes as a shock. Not sure how she would feel about water if she didn’t like to be sprayed we proceeded cautiously. Apparently water falls inn a different category and she accepted the hose with a sigh of disgust.
Of course 8 couldn’t have that. No one is allowed to play quietly without him. He ran and grabbed her from behind. Cried when she sprayed him with the hose and the game was on. Lady would get a splash of water, 8 would poke The Goblin Child, The Goblin Child would swing thee hose around soaking anything in her path, me, and spray her brother who would shriek and run away.
As long as she had that lush green grass Lady could care less.
I put an end to the game when they couldn’t control themselves enough to stay at what I felt was a comfortable distance from Lady’s hind end. The limits of a good horse should not be tested too well or foolishly.
8 went off to play in the hose alone and insist we needed to finish draining the pool. Together we hefted it up and dumped the water out. Once again, lady never batted an eye.
My daughter was done though. Her brother had somehow ruined her fun. I wasn’t going to argue. If horse time wasn’t fun anymore forcing it wouldn’t change things. It was still before the magic computer time but since she had asked to go outside and do other things I thought computer time seemed like a fitting reward. Lady got turned back out and the children went in.
Maybe we’ll get to do this again tomorrow.
For the Goblin Child’s birthday this year she got a lovely little bay Arab mare. Tiny and delicate like she is, they are working towards becoming the perfect pair.
Lady got a couple of days off with the start of school. Over the weekend we have been making up for that. Friday we saddled up and took long walks around the yard and down the drive letting both children get used to her. On a lead line.
They will be staying on a lead for awhile, until everyone is perfectly comfortable and used to each other.
Today we did it again. At the end of the lead. I told The Goblin Child that she was in charge of steering. I was only here as a safety so she didn’t get run off with. They had to fight the pull of alfalfa on one side and corn on the other. It was tough going.
We made it to the mail box and back though. On the way back Lady walked happily right down the middle of the road, not going after food and not caring at all about the sharp rocks. She’s got some nice feet.
In the yard we came across 8 who had just finished working on a pivot with his father. He jumped out from behind the trees, running and playing. Lady didn’t bat an eye. He led us to the crab apple tree where tiny tart apples were ripening. Red and tempting and just out of reach. We marched right into the front yard and used Lady as a ladder to pick apples from.
They were too tart for children and even Lady delicately turned her nose up at them 😆
8 wanted to pick apples too so we switched places, and helmets, then The Goblin Child helped heft hi into the saddle. He took his turn picking apples then enjoyed a short ride back to the house.
I was busy moving electric fence to enlarge the bottle calves pasture. it requires lots of trips back and forth and is very involved and more complicated than a simple electric fence should be.
Having children helping or even playing around the house and yard doesn’t help matters.
On one trip through the yard to check on them as I went I spotted them running back and forth to the horses gate. They enthusiastically told me they were getting corn for the horses! I stepped in the house for a drink and when I came back out they were working hard, together, to haul a bucket of water to the gate. Lady was standing there chewing happily on the grain offerings they had hauled earlier. They weren’t fighting. They weren’t trying to get out of work. Instead they each strained at their sides of the five gallon buckets handle, working together to get the job done.
I was so proud of them. So I tried to help.
Let me grab Lady and bring her out! You don’t need to haul the bucket any farther and you’ll be able to play with her easier, I said as I walked towards the gate, halter inn hand.
NO! The screamed! NO Lady screamed, turning and taking off the other direction. I had ruined everything and they let me know it in no uncertain terms.
I apologized profusely.
They climbed the gate calling desperately for Lady to come back.
The whole herd came thundering up and they were quick to get back to the safe side of the fence. Luckily Lady came through and went through a gate that no one else did. I was able to redeem myself from me earlier blunder by shutting the get and getting them Lady all by herself again.
They hauled her hay and more water. My son and I had a chance to discuss how horses can only eat so much corn. They can’t have as much as they want or however much we feel like hauling for them. My daughter grabbed her halter and was trying to figure out how to get it on Lady. That sent Lady off again. Luckily the gate was shut. We had her trapped.
I was able to convince her that she should let us up to her. As she’s making friends with the other horses she’s less interested in us and not enthused about being caught. We’ll get that changed just like all the other horses, she’ll come running when she hears us before too long.
Giving the rope to my daughter she lead lady out of the corrals and into the yard. There they tapped and grazed and finally decided that sitting on Lady while she grazed might be fun.
It’s hard to get used to the feel of new horses. It’s also hard to get used to the feeling of new people. Lady walked quick circles around me as soon as I sat my daughter up there. My daughter clung to my hand and the mane. Once they both got settled and held still we were able to graze until everyone relaxed.
What better reinforcement, for both of them, than still quiet time spent grazing in the yard. Moving will come soon enough, there’s no rush.