Shades of Ireland

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Happy Day!

This is my very happy but slightly stunned face---- after watching our calves sell at the stockyard.....

Let's just say that I love my job more than ever!

Sale Day

Started the day pretty early this morning. My-Knight-In-Shining-Armor (aka Neil) is off at a meeting in Nebraska. While he is off slaying dragons to pay for the castle and support my queenly hobbies, it fell to me and Seth to load up the calves and get them to the sale barn. All told, we had 5 steers, 2 heifers and a cull cow to take in. We had sorted off the keepers from the sale calves on Sunday while Neil was here. It took 2 trailer trips to get them to town! This is the most we have ever taken in and I feel like it is a red letter day.

 Seth had to be ready to work for the neighbor putting out hay for his cattle by 8:00am. I was waiting at the stockyard with the first load by 7:15am while he stayed home and got breakfast.  It took the cowboys a few minutes to get around and get me unloaded but I was back with the second load by 8:15am. Not bad since the neighbor showed up a bit early for Seth. Charlie helped load the second bunch and rode along with me. Deer season opens tomorrow and that was the main topic of conversation.

I have to commend Seth. He took it upon himself to remodel our working pens....... it is a real stretch to call what we had a working pen. He scrounged around and recycled old panels, steele pipes and gates to make a really impressive working set up----- all for free! That's a good thing for us these days. It made catching the calves and loading them on the trailer a breeze.

I got the trailer unhitched, the cows called up to the hay lot and I have made a pass at our normal morning chores. Dogs are fed, horses have water, Adam handled the chickens, Ellie May has hay and water. Holly and the keeper heifers have a hay bale to clean up before I move them to a new lot tomorrow. Goats are browsing. A friend showed up with a goat to breed to my buck.

Adam and Charlie went off to scout for deer and hang up a last minute deer stand. I have a few minutes alone to take a deep breath before I get ready to head back to the sale barn. I want to see the calves sell and pick up the check afterwards....... I am afraid to hope! Cattle prices are really good these days and I am optimistic for a good paycheck. Not to mention that the cafe` sells a really good salmon dinner........

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Canine Companions

Every where I go on this farm, I travel in a pack. At least 5 dogs go with me. Sometimes six depending on if the Corgi, Yolo, feels like leaving his spot in the garage by the dog feeder.....

This is the newset addition. Seth's German Shepherd--- beautiful Elsa. She is growing into a monster huge dog but she is so willing to please and such a sweet nature--- except to the cats. She likes to carry them around.....

Then there is the trio of Austrailian Shepherds:

Fast as lightening and silent as a shadow--- Tula

Big, beautiful and not-too-bright, Hugh

Old, fat, and wonderfully sweet, Lizzy.

They are all folowed by Prissy, the dainty dew drop house dog. They all race across the pond dam ahead of me to the barn, wait impatiently in a mass of wriggling dog flesh for me to open the gate, race to the barn and again wait for me to to open the doors. Then they race off in search of rabbits-- except for Elsa. She may dash out a little way but she always come right back to me. She feels her mission in life is to stay and protect me---while carrying a cat by the head......

Friday, November 25, 2011

Black Friday shopping

There is no way that I am going into town before daylight or in the middle of the night to shop....... those days are long gone. We did decide about 9:30 am that we needed dog food and we would venture in to see if there was anything left. It was amazing. The parking lot at Walmart was nearly empty. Plenty of shopping carts and since I had not seen the sale ads, I have no idea what I missed. I was delighted to find a mp3 player for $20. I have a lovely hot pink Sony mp3 player loaded with my favorite songs...... somewhere! The boys rob my headphones to play their games on the computer and without the long cord and headphones attached, the little thing has slipped off in to some hidden place and I can't find it. I treated myself to this one and Salena loaded it with music for me. There are definitely things on here that are not my selection......

But best of all----- I bought a new camera! I have been trying to figure out how to use it.

Obviously, I am going to need a little practice........

As you are all probably aware by now, I absolutely love my Jersey milk cow, Holly. In my eyes, she is beautiful and so elegant. She is due to calve in about 3 weeks. I have her up in the special maternity pen. She gets full access to hay--- no rationing for my girl!

Here is what she looks like these days:

Remember what she looked like last December? She was an Ethiopian milk cow when we brought her home.

Just in case you are not impressed by her lush and very fertile figure, here is another view:

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Blessed Thanksgiving!

Salena is home and has taken over the kitchen so I have a little time to write and catch up this morning.
Our big meal will be in the late afternoon so that our day is not so rushed. Salena treated us to gluten free pancakes, scrambled eggs and vanilla coffee for breakfast. I just love getting up to a fire already going in the fireplace and hot coffee waiting in the pot.

The craft fair in Elk Falls went wonderfully. The bathrooms worked with no failed flushes or overflows. The heaters worked and the electrical system did not overload. We had lots and lots of visitors who spent their money and blessed us all. The only snag came last night when I got a call claiming that they were missing a table and two chairs from the gym. I am pretty sure that they aren't missing at all....... Even if they are, they are really just not in their normal place. I refuse to be irritated or upset about a ratty old table and two folding chairs.

I love doing the craft fair even with the little problems and petty stuff that goes along with dealing with crowds of people. I have been going to this one for about seven years and running the whole shebang for four or five years. "My vendors" are old friend now...... some of them are getting very old. My heart is very heavy because I know that some of them are not going to make it to many more craft fairs. Cancer, pacemakers, knee and shoulder replacements were the topics of conversation alot this year. One vendor lost her husband to a stroke since last year, another has survived cancer and the treatment FIVE times. Another couple are new grandparents...... this is almost like a family reunion for us...... in fact there are three sets of sisters who set up booths, some together and some seperate. I used to say that some day I was going to live in Elk Falls. I am not so sure about that anymore but I do have a great fondness for that beautiful part of Kansas.

On the home front, things are still moving along in their normal rythmn. Moving my young pullets to the garden has proved to be a very bad move. Between the Seth's German Shepherd puppy, Elsa, and the hawks and owls, I only have 6 left. I have decided to just make our life easier and the chore list shorter by moving the survivors back over to the barn and into the henhouse. That is not a sanctuary either. All summer I have been leaving the hen house door open into their covered, closed run. Apparently, there is a hole somewhere. Both roosters and one hen went missing....... no feathers, no remains. That usually means a 'possum or raccoon. Closing the hen house door at night has stopped the disappearing chickens but I haven't found the hole yet.

I am watching my old friend/enemy Brindle. She is due to calve any second...... literally. I watched her ease across the pasture in to a secluded wooded area about an hour ago. All the other cows were up at the feeding area chowing down on the hay. She is so high strung that I really have to be careful not to check on her too much. I am looking for the binoculars before I head back over. This is her second and last calf on our farm. She does a good job but she is such a rebel that she is a bad influence on the other cows and calves. Since I am the head wrangle around here, I cannot have one renegade cow messing up my system. She is old and wise and reluctant to come into the catch pens and convinces the calves to stay out, too. That's a really a good survival technique on her part but terrible for my marketing scheme.

Looks like we will be shopping for a new bull after the first of the year. I am pretty sure that our guy is very low on the fertility scale. Our calving season is really strung out and we have seen many re-breeds. Earlier, we could have blamed it on the heat and drought but at this point, I am afraid there are no good excuses for him, now. We have kept several of his heifer calves so it will be a good thing to get him off of this farm anyway. We have not had really good luck in keeping our bulls penned up in the past......

On a holiday note, I have been contemplating my blessings. There are a vast number of wonderful things that God has given me. The love and devotion of my husband, a houseful of happy, healthy children. I have more tears from laughter than tears of sadness in my everyday life. Work that challenges me mentally and physically and fills me with deep contentment. The steadfast promise in these bewildering times that there is nothing new under the sun.

Andrew Peterson is one of my favorite recording artists. His song, "Faith to be Strong", pierces my heart every time.  I won't put the whole thing up but here is the chorus:

Give us faith to be strong
Give us strength to be faithful
'Cause life is not long but it's hard
Give us grace to go on
Make us willing and able
Lord, give us faith to be strong

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

PS: Just checked and Brindle has a calf. I THINK that it a heifer..... can't get close enough to really check with out a trip to the ER.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Craft Fair coming up this weekend

Sorry gang for not posting for a few days. I'm busy getting ready for the Elk Falls Outhouse Tour and Craft Fair. I organize and run the craft fair plus it is our big sales event of the year. I know---- we are very small potatoes if an Outhouse Tour and Craft Fair in a place that is normally a ghost town the rest of the year is our "big event".
I have goat milk soaps in several scents and goat milk lotion for sale. Only have oatmeal and honey bars left to wrap and all the labelling left to do.

Probably won't be back to the blog until next week!
See ya!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Little Scare

We were doing our usualy busy stuff yesterday. Adam has a new adventure going. He has taken up trapping. We aren't real fond of the leg snares so he uses a live trap. Just in case you don't know about them, a live trap is basically a square wire cage with a special door. There is a gizmo attached to it so that when a critter walks fully into the cage, it triggers the gizmo and closes and locks the door. Voila`--- caught varmint! Frankly, we don't have much worry of him really catching anything.

This past weekend at the trappers meeting, they showed us how to set it and camoflouge it. Against advice, (of course) Adam decided to bait his with liver rather than just squirt some kind of scent lure in there. He has been cleaning out my freezer by using liver as bait. We don't eat liver, so I don't mind. Besides, some people have to learn the hard way.

Something has been springing the trap and getting the liver. That means that whatever it is, is big enough that it can reach the bait and still have it's back end out of the trap so the door can't close. I suspect it is our Welsh Corgi, Yolo. Adam did find bobcat tracks in the mud nearby.He checks this trap( and rebaits it) at least 3-4 times a day. The dogs are all looking rather slick and well fed.......

 Yesterday afternoon at about 3:00pm, he did his last check. At about 7:30 pm we finished up supper and started kitchen duty. Adam casually asks, " Anybody seen Prissy?" Prissy is our Rat Terrier. She is Salena's baby and we jokingly call her our baby sister.  Out of all of our dogs, she is the only one allowed in the house. She was not in her usual snoozing places, my bed or the laundry. Sometimes she hangs out in my closet but no sign of her. We checked the trucks because she has been known to stow away in there. I called my friend who visited in the late afternoon to make sure that she hadn't hitched a ride home with him. Seth went over to the barn to make sure that we hadn't locked her in the kitchen by mistake. No Prissy. It was cold so if she was outside, she would be at the door shivering to be let in. No Prissy, anywhere.

I started quizzing the boys about her last known sighting. Adam had seen her when he last checked his trap....... Oh my! Neil and Adam suited up and took the flashlight and headed off into the deep woods. There was our girl, waiting patiently in the trap for us to come and get her. Neil joked and said that he wasn't sure if she was trapped or the bait....... After her release, she dashed straight to the house.  She had liver breath........

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Firewood chat

The biggest chore that I have planned for today is restocking the firewood. Seth has cut, split and stacked a bunch of wood...... maybe 6 ricks..... out behind the garden shed along the pasture fence. Still have 3-4 ricks of the seasoned oak left from last year. We are burning that first. Normally, we keep a big pile in the garage and a smaller bunch in the garden shed along with kindling. This is to make sure that we don't end up in a snow/rain storm and have only wet wood to burn. I try to keep the wood ring on the porch full and several logs ready to burn on the hearth.

After 5 inches or so of rain, I am happy to say that my firewood is pretty darn wet. We have nearly used all of the garage stash, somehow we haven't gotten any in the garden shed yet and the wood ring on the porch is soaked. It was 31 degrees this morning and the fire sure felt good after I got it going.

Since the sun is out and there is a good breeze, I am going to wait until later in the afternoon before I begin cracking the whip over my galley slaves...... I mean--- my boys. The wood will dry out in the sheds but I am thinking that it will do it faster outside.

I am all about saving money these days. Pinching the pennies pretty tightly and really working on the budget. So far, we have only had the furnace kick on twice. That was the weekend that Salena came home with  her friends. I just didn't want to embarass her too much by giving her guests frost bite!

Since Seth is my main wood chopper, he is rather frugal with his fires. When Adam complains about being cold, Seth bellows at him, " PUT ON MORE CLOTHES!"

I've been cooking up a storm for the last fews days..... I have been feeling strangely,too. I was at a meeting this past Sunday for trappers. They invited the 4-H kids for some demonastrations. A couple of those guys have tick borne illness' and arthritis from tick diseases. They were chatting about their ailments and I began to realize that I may not yet be over my bout from a year ago. Started back on the antibiotics and I am feeling much better. It is such a gradual decline that I just didn't realize that I was getting sick again. I am begining to think that is part of the reason that I have had the "Blahs" recently.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Wonderful Water!!

It started raining yesterday and interupted the wheat planting. It hasn't stopped and as of this morning, we had 4 1/4 inches in the rain guage. Still coming down! The boys had to go out and pull the canoes up higher on the bank because the big pond is FULL!! The water is flowing out of the pond dam break and I was afraid that the new current would pull the canoes off into no man's land in the gorge south of us.
Looks like I should have gotten myself busy and fixed that dam while it was dry....... I am not the least bit upset that it rained before I could scrounge up the cash to do the job. This is Kansas---it will be dry again!

Meanwhile the rain barrels are overflowing, the ditches are running and there is mud and puddles everywhere. I wish that I had a few ducks and geese!!

I cannot wait to go over to the barn and see if there is water inthe horse pond.

We are heading over in just a few minutes toload up the steer for the sale barn. Wish us luck!! Salena needs a good payday!!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Settling in

Rain and lots of it has arrived for the next couple of days. Thank GOODNESS! It maybe grey and dreary but I am happy for it. Our farmer/neighbor did not get the wheat drilled in our farm ground but he was sure trying to get it ready for planting this morning. He spread lime and came back and tried to cultivate it a bit smoother for the grain drill. Just as he got finished with cultivating the last row, it began to seriously rain. Neil says that as long as he gets it in by Thanksgiving, we should be ok.

Seth got soaked setting up more of our portable corral panels to make a bigger hay feeding area for the cow and horses. We are getting the hang of this limit/timed feeding schedule and so are the critters. The cows are usually hanging out nearby when I go over in the morning. When one of us goes back in about 3 hours to put them out, most of them have eaten their fill and already wandered out to find a drink of water or lay down to chew their cud. Horses are standing right there waiting for the swap and their chance to eat for a few hours. I have started counting the weeks --- one down and 21 more to go. We have calculated that we can feed about 4 bales a week. We used 3 last week so we might be a bit ahead in case of very cold weather. I have decided to call my hay guy and see if I can buy another load or two just to give me some breathing room and piece of mind.
Tomorrow is sale day and Salena's big steer is heading to town. "Chunky" needs to bring quite a chunk of change to make a tuition payment. Prices have been extremely good so we are very hopeful. We have decided to hang on the heifers for just as long as we can. They will have had their shots and pre-conditioning time so if it becomes obvious that we really need to sell them (because of low hay, low water, or cash flow crisis), they will be ready to load up. If we can avoid those issues, they will go into the breeding herd next year. It is good to have a plan.  

Adam is in the kitchen whipping up a spice cake for us. I am calling that Home Ec for school purposes.....
We will probably spend the day tidying the kitchen so that we can mess it back up baking stuff. Thinking about putting a bunch of white beans on to soak for crockpot beans and ham for tomorrow.
Need some idea for supper tonight....... deer burger enchiladas????

Supposed to rain for the next couple of days....... This could be a time for cook ahead and freeze meals!

Sunday, November 6, 2011


Something else to add to the adventure of living in Kansas! Yesterday morning, there was a 4.7 earthquake down around Oklahoma City. I didn't feel it and found out about it on facebook. Last night, there was another one that was around 5.6. I felt that one!!!

We had spent most of the day  helping our 4-H club to set up at the school for the annual awards banquet. By the time that was all over, it was after 9:00pm and I was tired. I did the bare minimum and went to bed to read for a bit. I was almost zonked out when I felt a distinct deep "shift". I thought that there had just been a sudden hard gust of wind that really shook the house but...... something just didn't feel "right" about that.

I promptly went to sleep. Got up early this morning and, of course, went to facebook and saw the news.
Someone had a link to all the known fault lines in Ks and Ok. Guess what??? We now live between TWO fault lines. They are not very far apart and I bet that I can tell you pretty close to where they actually are by looking at the landscape. Now I know why we have such interesting land formations around here.

I am waiting to hear from Salena to know how strongly she felt it down around Stillwater.

Update from Sis : She was at the footbal game in the stadium only about 35 miles from the epicenter. They were all so busy celebrating OSU's win over K-State that she didn't feel a thing........
The news reported that the players were below in the dressing rooms and felt it but thought it was the fans up in the stadium creating the uproar.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Farm Roulette

You never can tell how things are going to work out around here.....

This morning, I called up the cows to come in to the lot for their 3 hours of hay buffet. Zipped around and checked on the hens, gathered eggs that Adam forgot to get last night ( very COLD eggs) and gave the bucks a round of alfalfa hay. Then back to the house to try and roust Adam out of bed for the second time. Decided to check on the critters in the garden and noticed that the calves in the front lot were bucking and kicking up a storm. I just thought that they were frolicking in the cool morning. Then the dogs started barking at something. There were 4 good sized meat goat bucks standing in the driveway looking intently at my fruit trees ---- and they were NOT mine. I set the dogs on them and they dashed off down the road and out of sight.
I called my north neighbor to see if he knew who was missing goats. He didn't have a clue. Chatted with my south neighbor and he tells me that there is a herd of goats that have spent the whole summer down in the deep hollow south of us. That is pretty wild and wooly country and people have lost cows down in there for weeks at a time. I don't see how they have survived the coyotes but..... I have neighbors that I didn't know about! They are wild as deer. My dogs regularly bark and race around the edge of our woods. I thought they were hazing deer but apparently they have been keeping goats at bay. During the storm last night, the dogs moved to the garage and these 4 must have ventured out early this morning into new territory. 

The north neighbor farms our crop land for us and he called me back to see if I had found their owner. After I explained the free range goat herd, he asked me about planting wheat on our ground. Now that we have gotten rain, it might just work to get a wheat harvest and then take a risk and plant late soybeans. I told him to go for it! I will probably never make it to Vegas so I'll do my gambling at home! It can't do any worse than this year's corn crop.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baby, It's cold outside----- and WET!!

Almost midnight and the wind is just howling. Seth went out and moved Neil's truck before he went to bed. The huge hackberry tree that shades the front of the house is hollow in the center. After all this drought, I was afraid it would be brittle and not able to handle the first big winds of the season. So far, it is holding.

When I last checked the rain guage at about 8pm, we had about a half inch. I am grateful for every drop and it has rained off and on since then.

Late yesterday afternoon, I went with my neighbor to drop off some goats at the sale barn. It is a little over an hour round trip and it was a good visit. We were both hoping for rain today and she is just as concerned about pond levels as I am. She was looking at it from a view point that I had not considered. We are heading into winter with no water supply for the cattle if it gets really cold and freezes. Usually, we hack a big enough hole in the ice on the pond or creek to get them a drink. Her comment was, "How are we going to chop mud?"
I had not even thought about watering in a dry WINTER....... how do you haul water when it is below freezing??  I better be thinking about this issue and designing a way to get the herd close enough to the barn to have a stock tank with a de-icer on it. The cost of watering and heating it enough to keep it thawed for nearly 40 head of cattle and horses is going to call for some strict budgeting...... Then I have the goat herd- another 20 or so head of thirsty beasts.

Unless..... we get enough rain........ Think I will pop over and take another look at that radar before I go back to bed!

Anything WET would be appreciated!

by MD.
I do not know how to center that graphic but you get the idea!
We are in the grey area. Right now the wind is not blowing at all. I guess that you could call it the calm before the storm. Expecting 30-45 mph with gusts up to 50. The boys and I have done chores and now we are getting dry firewood in and battening down anything that might be loose enough to leave us!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Reflections on "The Egg and I"

Just to make sure that everybody knows---- "The Egg and I" is an old movie based on the book by Betty MacDonald. She is one of my all time favorite authors. Betty MacDonald had such a witty writing style and a flair for sarcasm and understated drama that I fell in love her stuff many years ago. I first read her book, "Onions in the Stew" about her life on Vashon Island before it was "modern". Kind of a homesteading on an island story. I still have my very well worn copy and have probably read it at least 6 times.

Anyway, back to the "Egg" story. On our paycheck run into town last night, Charlie bought a DVD that he thought that we would all enjoy. It was the complete works of Ma and Pa Kettle...... they first made their debut in this book/movie. It was loosely based on real life with Betty's first husband on their rugged chicken farm before WWII. The people that Ma and Pa Kettle were based on were so embarrassed by the book and movies that they sued and got some kind of huge settlement. Charlie was tickled to find it and reminded me that when Seth was little, Charlie called him "Pa Kettle" because Seth was soooooo lazy! I had forgotten about that and it is a relief to me that Seth outgrew that stage.

Adam and I have had it on during our lunch break..... it is hilarious and yet---- I can see so much of human nature and it reminds me of just how green I was as a young woman. This movie strays quite a bit from the book version but there is just enough "right" that it pretty good.

 I got such a chuckle out of seeing all the Kettle kids running wild on the farm, digging big holes, hanging from trees, and generally tearing stuff up...... looked rather familiar! I got another chuckle and a trip down memory lane watching Ma Kettle shoo the chickens off of the couch....... I did something rather similar once upon a time when the back door got left open.  I remember  working in the front yard and looking up to see 2 goats standing on my couch watching me out my big picture window......

So...... I guess these days I have more in common with Ma Kettle than I like to admit!