December is here. That means it’s time to start some of our favorite traditions.
Not the usual kind. We’ve done that but aren’t very good at it.
We have one new one this year. A Christmas tree. All computery like. It has 25 lights on it. My husband sat down with the kids in the end of November and explained to them how he was programing it. Did i stick? Do they suddenly know how to program in java?
Do I even know that that’s what he was doing it in?
But they were very interested and actually paid attention for once, so there’s that. The lights are coming on one at a time, a new one each day of the month. He showed them the numbers for different colors of light and all the things I have no clue about.
The other one, that we do every year with a LOT of enthusiasm, is Mary and Joseph. They travel around our house having all sorts of adventures. Until, eventually, they reach a stable where baby Jesus is born.
I have fun moving them around and trying to come up with fun things for the pair to do. They ride on horse drawn wagons, in tractors, even trains. We’ve added on considerably to the original stable kit they all came in. Now there are cows, fences, chickens, horses. All the good farm toy set accoutrements.
It will be fun to see what the lovely family gets up to on their trip this year. I love when the kids help with the daily moving and how enthusiastically they search for the new locations.
We had to go back to eastern Nebraska last weekend. As I was driving on the way home my husband went off about something in the field over there. Did I see it!!
It’s hard to pick something out in a field while speeding down the highway.
Luckily there were no other cars. I managed to spot it.
We discussed if we really could have seen what we thought we thought we saw out there. Just to be sure I flipped around and we went back to look.
Pulling off onto the shoulder we stopped to get a really good look. And some pictures.
It was an elk! A big bull elk. The antlers were clearly visible from the middle of the field where he lay comfortably among a herd of cattle.
We have plenty of elk back here. But to see an elk in the overpopulated civilized eastern half of the state? Ok, maybe more central than eastern. Was he a pet? It seems unlikely but who knows. Was he just wandering through or is there good habitat among the fields and pastures?
No matter what he was fun, and impressive, to see.
I had been wanting another dog for awhile.
Not to get rid of our perfect Daisy. But a younger one to go along and work cows, do things. Daisy had reached a point where she really just wanted to lay in the sun and nap. A good way for and older dog to spend her time. But not much help getting work done.
We talked about it and decided to wait. We didn’t want Daisy to think we were replacing her. I firmly believe that God has given me every dog I’ve had because they were what I needed when I needed them. Daisy for sure. So we decided to wait. If God gave us a dog then we would happily take it. If not, the we weren’t meant to have another dog.
Apparently we weren’t meant to have two dogs.
Then Daisy was gone. She left a big hole. I wanted to fill it. But the perfect dog had to show up. God hadn’t plopped anything in my lap yet.
Until a friend texted to say how sorry she was about Daisy. I thanked her and mentioned that we were looking for a dog. Well, she said. Her husband had picked up some dogs just the other day. They had been abandoned. Hauled out of town and dumped when there were some marital issues. It’s a small town. People knew who the dogs were, even if they did get hauled a few miles out of town.
Starved to skin and bones and left to die the dogs were terrified. They clung to each other in their strange new surroundings. The sheriffs deputies who were caring for them were so good to them, but it was still a scary new place.
One was recognized and the breeder called immediately. She was horrified and had someone who would be there the next day to get her dog!
That left two. Mastiffs, or mastiff crosses, big and bony, they were not pretty dogs and growled and barked at anyone who got close. They were a bit intimidating. When we went to look at them I initially said no. There was no way we were bringing one of these huge terrified dogs around our children. Even if they weren’t mean scared is the most dangerous thing in any animal. Those huge mouths would cause major damage if they snapped in fear, even if no harm was intended.
But they were so pitiful. The deputies were in with them, loving on them, getting their faces right down at nose level. And nobody was getting bit.
I went in with them. My son came with. The dogs coward and shied away. Then the female started following my daughter around the fence. She had stayed firmly outside the pen. She wanted to be by the child. After a bit of that she came over to me. Some sniffing and patience and she was happy to be petted and loved on. Soon the male, the more scared of the two came over too. Once over the initial fear they didn’t show a drop of aggression.
With some doubt and hesitation I said we’d take the female. We had wanted another girl and she was the smaller less afraid of the two.
We had to get a place prepared for her. I’d come back Monday. That way the male wouldn’t be alone either. If no one else took him there was a rescue coming to get the dogs then. Or any of them that were left.
Over the weekend the lady who had originally owned the two mastiff crosses found the facebook post. She was also horrified to see how her dogs ended up. She had just let these people have them last June. It turns out they were brother and sister, lab mastiff crosses born last June. Just a year and a half old. Puppies almost. Exactly the age I had wanted in a dog. They were much loved pets, good with children and house trained. Perfect.
I went early Monday and brought her home. She jumped right in the car and sat very nicely for the ride home.
At home we spent as much time as we could outside walking around together, getting to know her new home. In sixty mile an hour winds. When I couldn’t take it anymore we went inside. Outside we had a kennel set up for her. So we had somewhere safe to put her when she had to be left. She walked through the gate. That made leaving her a little more difficult. She could not be left in the house. I couldn’t just leave her loose. It finally occurred to me that the trailer would work. I moved the freshly bedded dog house in there and we have a dog proof kennel. Even for her. She likes to sit on the roof of the dog house and look out the sides.
I’ve been taking her with me, checking cows and running to town. No more barking and cowering. She’s been very polite and friendly.
She is getting used to cows, chickens, and horses. Not so much our cat, that’s the biggest problem so far. Her favorite thing is to lay around inside. She stretches out and takes up the whole living room. As I sit on the couch working at the computer she lays at my feet, snoring and farting. So happy. And so incredibly stinky!
But what to call her? Such a delicate flower of womanhood needed a fitting name. We’re thinking Pansy. For so many reasons. This huge, uncouth, stinky girl is no pansy for sure! That seems like the best reason of all. We’ll see if it sticks or if we keep calling her doggo.
We had a date. Just my husband and I. Off to check cows.
I would check cows. He came along to see how his wheat fields were looking.
As we came over the hill to the first windmill I was telling him how I had set the break on the windmill so it wasn’t pumping all the time. Just the solar pump with a float so it would shut off when not needed was going. No point in pumping water that wasn’t needed when the cows weren’t drinking out of it anymore.
And there they were. A large bunch of cows laying alongside the tank. Just to prove me wrong. We adjusted the float, checked things out, and continued on to the tank they were supposed to be drinking out of.
There we found the rest of the herd gathered around a slightly muddy tank. Not a drop of water.
The windmill was just repaired barely a week ago. And here it was broken in a new way.
We scrounged through the pickup for my usual windmill repair tools. Fence stretchers, fence pliers, and a regular pair of pliers. It took a bit to convince my husband that fence stretchers will work to pull the rod up out of the windmill enough to reattach it. He’s used to working with real and proper tools.
I found the chain that had been attached, before they ‘fixed’ it and thought we could use that to hook things back together. He doubted my ingenuity and went looking for better. For lack of a large washer he found the piece that used to hold the spare tire on my pickup, up underneath the box. It had broken off one day this summer. At another windmill luckily. I went to check it and there was a tire laying there that I swore I hadn’t even seen there before. Turns out it was from my pickup and had fallen off at just the right place. Now it would work to hold the windmill together.
Holding my set of pliers as he turned the bold with the fence pliers I held to close to the joint. They slipped off and I pinched my finger. Cussing the newly forming blood blister I went back to holding. Then realized I was holding in the same place again. That was stupid of me I thought. As the pliers slipped again and I pinched the other finger. Not as bad this time. That was brilliant.
As we worked Ghost and another cow who had eaten from my hand for the first time last time I was there were begging frantically for food from outside the windmill frame. When I had a moment I gave them some of the cake I had brought along. The new cow hasn’t learned manners yet. She chomped down enthusiastically on yet another finger. The bruising began immediately under the nail.
My hands hurt!
When I turned around my husband was gone. Weird. I thought he had been standing right behind me. He must have gone to the pickup. I gathered a few things and carried them back with me. He wasn’t there. Where could he have gotten off to?
Finally I looked up.
He had climbed the windmill! No breezes were coming along to turn it for us so we could check our repairs so he was tuning it manually. Needs must, make do or do without, and all that. There’s always a way to get the job done when you don’t want to make the rather impressive drive in there to the middle of nowhere again.
It looked good. Guess I’ll find out for sure tomorrow when I make the drive again.
It was perfectly still.
With the fourwheeler shut off the silence echoed in my ears. It was overwhelming, nearly deafening. The absolute lack of sound came as a shock. We get so used to noise in our modern lives. The hum of electronics, radios droning on, people, vehicles. I stood for a moment and listened. I remember thinking how there wasn’t even wind through the few scraggly trees.
It’s my favorite old house. The one I would choose to live in if I could pick any of the houses on the place.The practicalities of modern living make that impossible of course. As much as the completely fallen down state of the house. There’s no road in, no electricity, no hope of internet. Just a house sat out in the middle of a pasture. The roof is gone. So is the floor. Walking upstairs would be suicide, even though the stairs are technically there.
Not too long ago the carcass of a yearling bull had hung from the floor joists. He had found his way in through a missing wall or maybe the door. A part of the house has a cellar. The floor wasn’t enough to hold his weight. With front and hind legs on opposite sides of the joist I will hope that his back was broke when the legs went through. If not, he hung there until he died, fragments of skin held the skeleton there as a grim reminder not to take chances with a falling down house.
Now his bones shine white under the house.
Shaking off the eerie stillness I went back to work. My job was to keep any more cattle from sharing the young bulls fate. We wanted to make use of the grass growing around the house, but keep cattle out of the house. One wall is gone and one door easily accessible. I had to fence them out. Walking about the house, hammering and stretching wire, I looked down and saw a penny! Picking it up I recognized a design no longer used. Peering through the pattena I thought I saw 1929. Excited by my find, but busy at work, I slipped it into my pocket, it could be cleaned up and inspected closer when I was done.
As I nailed wire to the house bits of plaster and dirt rained down on my head. It made me keep a wary eye out above. As the walls begin to bulge out at odd angles it’s easy to imagine the whole thing coming down on my head. More and more pieces of trim and eaves are being scattered across the ground with every wind storm. This beautiful old house only has a short time left. There’s not enough left there to save.
Once home I was telling my husband about fencing out the house. About the silence there. How everywhere else I traveled through the day, fixing fence and moving cattle there had been the noise of wind, cattle lowing, distant traffic. But not there. There had been silence.
Which reminded me of my penny!
Excitedly I dug into my pocket to show him. Searching the depths I found only lint. Then the other pockets just to be sure. Nothing.
They kept it, he said.