Shades of Ireland

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Jersey Update of 2011

It has been 17 days since I brought the rescue Jersey girls home. One has gone to her new home with my dear friend and is doing well.  I managed to hobble over to the barn late this afternoon to take one last picture of her for this year. I am very pleased with how this has turned out.

Still long and lean but at least she has a little flesh over those ribs and hip bones. I think that she is growing in height, too. I keep forgetting to bring over a pair of scissors to remove the orange tape. Since doe season starts tomorrow, it might not be a bad idea to leave it on a bit longer..... she is rather deer-like.

Sis tells me that the pups are begining to get their eyes open..... just little cracks but they are growing by leaps and bounds. Lizzy leaves them long enough to make the farm rounds with us.

We made the decision to day to remove the calf from poor Holly. Her udder is still slightly engorged but the worst part is the scar tissue from her previous lactations. Her udder and teats just can't take the daily wear and tear of having a calf nurse vigorously. When I brought her home last year, her teats were a cut up, bloody mess. It healed well enough for us to carefully milk her but this calf is tearing it all up again. Since we have already given him a bottle or two of colostrum, he had no trouble taking a bottle of milk this evening. We have penned him so that Holly still has access to him so they are not bawling for each other. He just can't suck. My beloved Holly is still my favorite milker but she has issues...... I am very glad that it has worked out to get Noel. I am hoping she has just as much improvement over the next 17 days.....

Happy New Year!

Out With the Old.....

I am a bit unnerved at just how fast this year has flown by. Heck-- I am amazed at how fast my whole life has seemed to rush by!

If you will remember, I had a list of chores and projects that I had hoped to get checked off the list before ringing in the New Year. I am afraid that most of them will still be on the list tomorrow. This back injury has proved to be way more than I realized. Yesterday was pretty much wasted. I ended up going on to see my Chiropractor late yesterday afternoon. She worked me over and put me on some machine that basically runs an electrical current through my muscles....... It was WONDERFUL..... LOL!! I am getting around better but still not up to my usual chores.

Salena and I did get the kitchen cabinets reorganized and cleaned out. We found some things that really did not need to bring in the New Year with us. This afternoon, I am going to test out the two breadmakers that I found in the cabinets. Yes-- two of them. I still have two food processors, a meat grinder, three large pressure canners, two small pressure canners, and a grain mill that need to find a convientent home in this kitchen. Then there are Salena's cake decorating stuff wandering around the cabinets, too.

 I have managed to slowly get the canning jars shuffled out of the cabinets and down into the new cabinet.

Speaking of the new cabinets, I don't think that I ever put up a picture of the finished jobs.

                                                          This is half of the jar cabinet.

This is the whole cabinet with the bar stools. I just love how it turned out---- despite all the cussing I did building it......

The work center turned out even better.

I do not know how we ever got along with out the extra refridgerator. It is small but works out great for some of my bulk items.

While I was typing this, I could hear gunfire out back. The extended doe season opens tomorrow and Salena and Adam intend to deer hunt. They are sighting their rifles across the pond into the bank of the dam.

Hope your New Year celebrations are wonderful and safe!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kink in the Works

It is terrible to be getting old. I am not really sure just what I did wrong yesterday but I am paying for it today. I woke up and could barely get out of bed. <sigh> I have a terrible kink in my lower back.

Seth milked Holly for me. I managed to get my shoes on to go over and supervise morning chores but I am not sure what we are going to do about evening chores. Seth leaves for work before milking time. I will just have to take it slow and easy. Holly will like that--- it means more feed for her!

I have been working on getting a calendar printed off for 2012 and put in a notebook. Recipes and menu planning, looking at some household organizing stuff (SNORT!!) You know--- all things that you do when you are looking at the New Year and making all kinds of starry eyed plans for being "organized" for this year. Usually, I start out really good for the first couple of months but peter out by the time we start on the garden.

Salena drove me over to the feed store and we stocked up for the next pay period. Hoping to get it unloaded before Seth leaves. I can remember when buying 5 bags of feed was a big deal. Today, I bought a small load of only 15 bags.......

It has dawned on me today that kidding season is rapidly coming up. Only about 45 days until the first kids-- maybe sooner if Ellie Mae is ahead of the other does. I am going to have to go back and scan the calendar to see if I remembered to write down when I put the buck in with her....... record keeping is not my strong point.

Still have not gotten my eReader figured out but Neil has been doing a little research. Maybe tonight he can show me how to get a book on there!!

I have been taking it easy all day but I do not have the luxury of doing this again tomorrow......

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Chickens in the Pot.

I decided today that I HAD to get something really productive done. I have been hanging out at the house and enjoying the slowness of the after holiday. Salena and I have managed to get some house cleaning accomplished  and I have worked on finances and budget planning but really have been pretty lazy.

Adam got up on the roof and took down the Christmas lights. Tree is back in the box and the Christmas dishes are washed and packed. Just have some candles and Knick Knacks to round up in the house. The mailbox is still decorated.

I decided that this was the day to start on butchering those extra Speckled Sussex roosters. It took us about an hour to get six of them cleaned and stewing in the big pot on the stove. It was a messy job since I just skinned them out. I hadn't done that in a long time and it took me a chicken or two to remember the system.
Usually, we heat up the hot water vat and use the plucker. These roosters are definitely NOT the Cornish crosses that we are used to and are pretty skinny for meat birds. They have to go and there really isn't a market for cull roosters so...... we will just have to keep working at it until we get them all stewed. Seth counted and says that there are 14 left. If I split it up, we can get it done in the next two afternoons. I could just have at it and do it all in one day but it is a bad enough job with out turning it into torture. Better to split it up.

It was very tempting to take pictures but people are easily grossed out these days and I really didn't want to offend anybody.  I think that it is interesting that butchering chickens may be offensive but all those morgue scenes on crime shows is not.......

After these guys are done, we will debone them and freeze the meat for quick meals. I may even can some of the next batch in jars in the pressure canner. We will just have to see how organized I get or pressed for time.

I have several jobs that I don't want following me into the New Year. These roosters are just one of those. Salena is slowly digging out the garage. I want to get the barn kitchen raked out and cleaned back up as well as the main rooms of the big barn. I'm not sure that I am going to get it all done but we will at least be making a dent in it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Milking Problems

I made it!! This is my 100th post on this blog. In the past, I have not done a very good job of blogging and my goal for this year to was to reach the 100 mark. I know that there is not a lot of excitement, drama or even interesting things on here. Most people probably think that there are waaaaaay too many pictures of goats, dogs and cows on this blog. This is most of my life these days and I am very content.

My poor Holly still has a congested udder. This is her picture AFTER milking. Her udder is not hot, hard or infected. It is just firm and full but not full of milk. It has gotten better each day but it is frustrating for both of us at milking time. She is sore from the edema and I am tired of hauling all the hot water and rags out there to use as warm compresses. I use a peppermint udder cream to rub and stimulate circulation. My chore clothes smell like Christmas. All that work and we get about a pint of milk.

Her calf is with her all the time and helps by nursing out of 3 quarters. He is growing and looking really good so I know that she has enough milk for him and she IS getting better. I keep telling myself that.  Notice how Noel is now her new BFF. The other heifer went to her new home yesterday.

This is something that sometimes affects heavy milkers and Holly is by modern standards a VERY old cow. There are all kinds of theories about what causes a congested udder but I am inclined to think that it is nutritional. Holly is just too fat. That is my fault but I just can't help it---- I don't ever want to see her skinny again.

Even when she was so emaciated last year, she still had a congested udder and it took a week or so for it to pass and her milk to "come in". This just may be how she rolls. I do not know how long she had been fresh when I bought her but it was very recent because she still had a vaginal discharge. Now that she is .....pleasantly plump..... and been fresh just a over a week, I am thinking that she is on the mend. Her udder is smaller and softer and the calf is very active and growing. Really--- it is......

Salena is still helping Lizzy with her pups. Most of the day, she has half of them in a cozy bed in front of the fireplace. They stay away from Lizzy for about 2 hours and we bottle feed them. Then we swap and bring in the other half. Prissy is resigned to having them in the house. Today, they get their tails nipped off...... Lord help us!

My big job of the day is to try to figure out how to use my Christmas present. My family gave me an eBook Reader. I am clueless about downloading on to it but I have managed to get the radio on it to work! LOL! I love to read and have read every book in this house several times. I can't wait to get this thing working!

Thank you for reading!

Tana Mc

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

I managed to get up early this morning and get a few last minute gifts wrapped and put under the tree. The dang dogs began barking at coyotes ( real or imagined) at around 4:00 am.

Salena rules the kitchen when she is home and has the late meal all planned. I opened the fridge to find two homemade pies sittng there taunting me..... The ham and turkey won't be put in the oven until later in the day. Our plan this year is to have a big holiday breakfast as soon as Charlie comes in from work. That should be sometime around 6:30. We will have another sit down meal around 2-3 when he gets back up to get ready for work again.
While Salena is still in bed, I have managed to get the breakfast casserole in the oven and sausages wrapped in biscuits made and waitng next in line. Coffee is done and the eggs and bacon are standing by.

Our little church had its service last night. It was lovely to go and sing with a crowd.

Adam has gotten up and restarted the fire and has already asked if he could start sorting the gifts into individual piles. This is the child that I have to shake several times each morning to get him up before 8:00am!

Wishing you the very best of Christmas' !

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Puppy Love

Just in case you are dying for a puppy/Lizzy update---- here it is. Salena's Christmas break from college is turning into one big babysitting job.

After Lizzy had her big brood of puppies, we knew something was wrong. Besides being obviously tired, she showed signs of being in shock -- not the emotional I-Can't-Believe-I-Had-This-Many-Pups kind of shock. This was more like hypovolemic (lost too much blood) shock. We kept her warm, fed, and as comfortable as we could. I called and chatted with my vet and she agreed that time and supportive care was about all we could realistically do for her. Over the next two days, we had a couple of surprises. Lizzy had TWO more stillborn pups. She perked right up after that. We just cannot believe that this poor, old dog was carrying a litter of THIRTEEN. They are all good sized pups and there is really not a runt.

She is doing great but we are helping her out. During the day, Lizzy stays in the garage under a heat lamp on her cushy dog pillow with about half of her pups. The other half are in Prissy's little bed in front of the fire place. We feed these inside pups at least once with a bottle and switch them out every two hours.

At night, we move Lizzy inside to the laundry room. We keep the pups in seperate batches until bedtime. Lizzy keeps all of her pups ALL night long and seems delighted to see us when we come to let her out and take half of her brood. She is an excellent mother with lots of milk. Lizzy has always been the absolute sweetest of dogs. Since she might have an infection from the retained pups, we are giving her a mild antibiotic. Salena tries to hide it in her food. Even if Lizzy finds it, Salena just has to show it to her and speak kindly. Sweet Lizzy will pick it up and swallow it.

One member of our household is not happy with all these dogs in the house.

The first night, Salena stayed up all night bottle feeding every two hours while Lizzy was at her sickest. Prissy was so jealous and upset at Salena that she would not have anything to do with her. Prissy is devoted to Salena and suffers greatly when she goes off to school. She will grieve for her for a day or two. When Salena comes home, Prissy is beside herself with joy and Salena can't make a move with out her. These puppies are just too much!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Snowy After Soltice.

We have had snow today. It started at around noon but has not stuck or accumulated. At times it was coming down very hard and almost completely horizontal--- blizzard style. Great big feathery flakes that were heavy and wet dropped on our coats.

Sis and I were in town getting a much needed haircut--or more like a good trim. It is still long but doesn't look so shaggy now. I have not yet decided exactly what is going on with all this hair. Normally, I keep it whacked off pretty short but for the last year or so, I have just let it grow. I have never been very hairstyle conscience but since I had a house full of children, I didn't want the bother of an elaborate hair do. I just kept it short and neat. I must be having a midlife crisis of sorts.

After we got home, I had to take my nice, neat, new hair cut out into the blustery,weather and work on building a wind break for the dairy cows. We fixed up a place for them to have a nice big, dry shelter but I still felt the sharp wind was too much on my skinny girls. Salena and I cleaned out the next big section under the pole barn next to the chicken pen for them. The north side was still open so I put up old pieces of plywood to block the wind and strung up a couple of old tarps to complete the project. Charlie and I dragged a hay rack in and the girls followed us for the alfalfa. 

The temperature was still above freezing but my ears and nose were pretty cold. My sinus infection is better but the cold lets me know that I am not well, yet. Here in Kansas, it is not the cold that gets to you, it is the sharp, sharp wind.

Sweet Lizzy has not felt well today. This afternoon, we discovered the reason. She passed a very large stillborn puppy. Twelve puppies in all...... she is eating and moving around. Salena has made a pass through the pack and given them all a little formula from a bottle. I am pretty sure that we are going to have to seperate the mob and let Lizzy have them in shifts so that it doesn't just wear her out.  We are still discussing the best way to do that...... calls for a little research.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Update After the Puppy Explosion

I have had a headache for the last two days. After taking and posting the pictures of the pups, I ended up having to go in to see our doctor. Seems that I have developed a really bad sinus infection. After some pain relief and my first antibiotic, I began to think that I was actually going to live through this holiday season. I have slept all afternoon and decided to get out a bit and take a few pictures of the Jerseys.

I think that they are getting better by the day.

This one is full and content to lounge around on her bale of hay, so I just let her. This is the one with the udder injury. Getting up and down rubs against the sore and is painful. I am just happy that she is calm enough to let me get close to pet her with out leaping up in hysterics. She will be moving to her new home early next week.

Not quite so boney and she has a bit of a rounded tummy! Even the rough hair is begining to slick off. She is alert and comes directly to us looking for feed. I had a hard time keeping her far enough away to get a full body picture. Every morning, she tries her best to be the first one into the milking stantion and I think that we will try to get the orange tape snipped off of her hind legs in the near future. Those came with her from the dairy and are the markers to remind them that she has had antibiotics and her milk has to be dumped. In this case, her milk was tainted for 10 days. They had given her that shot almost a week before I got her and I am only milking her every other day. Not quite dried off but not keeping her from growing and putting on weight.We will not be drinking her milk probably until next year unless she improves as well as Holly did.

The trip out to get these shots was not a good idea. The cold air has made my head pound again. Salena has a huge pot of potato soup cooking. Not only am I enjoying having her cook while she is home but I am going to have to impose on her and ask her to milk Holly for me tonight.

Before I came back in, I couldn't resist just one more shot of the pups. You probably need to brace yourselves because I have a feeling there are going to be lots more of these kinds of pictures......

Holiday Babies

After it was all said and done, our poor Lizzy has ELEVEN beautiful pups.

Quite a pile. isn't it?

And finally, a shot of Holly's boy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wet Weather

It rained all day yesterday and my rain barrels are full and over flowing. I am so grateful for my insulated Muck boots. I bought them a couple of years ago but misplaced them in the big move. During all that snow and bitter cold last winter, I used my hot pink rubber boots and even with wool socks, my feet were cold. We were rummaging through some stored boxes in the gargage looking for Christmas stuff and I found my Muck boots. Just in time!

After the drought this summer, I do not mind this dreary wet weather or slogging around in the mud. I am a bit concerned about how we are going to put out the big bales of hay today with out getting stuck or making a hug muddy mess. I guess that the mess doesn't really matter because the cows HAVE to be fed.
Since we sold the bull, a cull cow and all those steer calves, the hay consumption has really dropped.

Western Kansas is getting snow and lots of it. Salina, Ks is about 2 1/2 hours NW of us and they are expecting somewhere in the neighborhood of 18 inches. We are only forecast for rain but I am still going to get everything at the house and barn prepared for a big snow---- just in case. The weather man has been known to be wrong---- very wrong!

Late last year, I bought a small generator to use at the barn to run the milking machine in case we lost power. Better make sure we have fuel and oil for it. I think that I had better fire up the kerosene heater just to give it a test run before it is needed. The boys stacked the garage with firewood for the house. Better put some extra in the garden shed. I am pretty sure we have enough groceries for a couple of months but since Salena is home, might be a good time to do a seasonal pantry check.

I am pretty sure that I have gotten all of my Christmas shopping done. I bought things and forgot what I had stored....... I have been pulling things out of the closet and surprising myself!

Seth went over and milked the young Jerseys for me last night. He said that all that he had to do was open the barn door and they both went in and right into the milk stantions. What an improvement! I am waiting a few days to post more pictures to see if I can compare the early pictures and see a marked difference. I know that they feel better because of their attitudes and how much friendlier they are.

These short, dark days are really difficult for me. I have a hard time just making myself get up and do what needs to be done when it is cold and dark. I am looking forward to Christmas but also the Winter Soltice. Winter may begin in earnest but the day will begin to get just a bit longer, too.

Salena just burst in to let me know that our old dog, Lizzy, is having puppies at the back door.....
You never know just what a day will bring........

Monday, December 19, 2011

New Calf!

Holly watch is over! She had a nice bull calf yeasterday morning. She is having some udder difficulties but I am sure that we are going to get it worked out. Scar tissue from her injuries last year have made her very tender..... The poor thing has even been forced to kick at me --- really more trying to brush me off. Lots of warm compresses, bag balm and persistance get the job done. I'll probably have to try to milk her several times a day to get her milked out properly until she is not so delicate.

The calf is tall and Holly and her udder are short. It made for a hard start. We bottle fed him her colostrum until he figured it out. This morning, it looks like the one unscarred teat is his. Since he is a bull, we will let her keep him and she is totally besotted with him.
I'll try to get a picture up later.

It is rainy today with western Kansas expecting a blizzard. I am very happy to just have rain and mud.

There is a slight green tinge across our farm ground indicating that the wheat has sprouted.

My rescue heifers are improving slightly everyday. I try to convince myself that they don't look as bad as they really do...... but other problems have surfaced. Both have uterine infections that indicate a bad birthing. Antibiotics have helped them to turn the corner and they are both eager to see people at the barn and come to the fence expecting treats. It only takes a little persuasion for them to stand and let me pet them while they are eating. #64 will still stand at the feed pan and allow me to hand milk her. #63 is almost eager to go into the barn and milk stantion.  I am hopng that she and Holly will bond and be best buddies. They will go into the milk cow lot as soon as I get the junk cleaned out of their shelter. I am not in a rush because the sick girls still aren't well enough to leave their quaranteen pen.

Everybody is in the holiday spirit. Salena made it home yesterday afternoon. The kids are going into town  in shifts to finish up their Christmas shopping. There is alot of whispering and plotting going on.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Day Three

No pictures because the camera batteries are dead. That is a shame because we had quite an eventful morning trying to get them milked. They are sort of feeling better. I say sort of because they have better attitudes but #64's udder injury is obviously bothering her. Also, it has been about 72 hours since we poured on the dewormer. That means that it is starting to work. Killing off large numbers of internal parasites is bound to make a bovine feel a bit queasy......

On the up side--- sort of---- we had a terrible time getting them in the barn. In fact, #64 just flat refused and collapsed on the ground and threw a fit. The other one thought that it looked like that trick was working so she sulled up and laid down, too. Number 63, will be staying at our farm so she MUST go in the barn for the milking machine. We just can't have her flinging a fit and laying down when she doesn't want to do something, so we worked on her first. Being of a flightier disposition, she just could not lay there while we pushed, pulled and swatted to get her up. She gave in, got up and went in the barn.

While she was in the milking stantion enjoying her special mix of feed, the other one laid on the ground playing dead. While she was down, I made the most of it and doctored her sore teat. Sadly, I decided that it is a total lost cause and will never recover. Best that I can do is keep it from getting infected while it heals over. She will only have three working quarters. I just left her laying there and by the time I had finished up with the one inside, she had decided to get up.

I had to make a decision about how to deal with her. She obviously feels bad. Her udder is sore and it appears to me that the deworming has been harder on her. I grabbed a bucket of feed and set it in front of her. She began to eat and I knelt down and started milking. The farm that she is going to live on does not have a milking machine.They still milk by hand. I decided that it wasn't as important for her to go in the barn. She stood there unrestrained and let me milk her, with out so much as shuffling her feet. I will choose my battles with this girl......

I am trying not to imagine too much but I think that they are already looking a bit better. A little more filled out and little more bright eyed. They both had a snotty noses this morning but are breathing deep and clear.

So was I, after trying to drag them around by their halter ropes......

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Just a quick update

On the fly today! Payday shuffle.

I have already made a dash to the feed store and stocked up for the next couple of weeks.

My friend came over to see "her" Jersey and is as hopeful as I am.

Seth and I just sort of herded the new girls into the milk barn. They actually went thru that narrow door on their own and only needed a little persuasion to get into the milking stantions. It had been over 24 hours since I milked them last and this time I decided touse the machine. The sound of the pump was familiar to them and they both stood like seasoned milkers. Number 64 ( I am leaning towards Nichole for her name) is just more nervous and it took her a bit to relax and let her milk down. I did not strip them out and got just over a gallon from the two of them. The cats could not believe their good fortune. Both girls seem to be perking up a bit and looking a little fuller and not to gaunt. I think that I am going to keep up this once a day relief milking schedule and see how things turn out.

Holly is STILL very pregnant. So much for my guess of her calving early. Her due date is the 17th and it looks like she is going to keep that calf until then.

Now to get my grocery list together and head into town. We are getting ready for a small Christmas party for Neil's work crew. I guess that means I need to clean house a bit, too......

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jersey Project: Day 2

I really did not know what to expect to find at the barn this morning. These girls had skipped two milkings and really SHOULD have had full udders. Since they are so thin, I didn't think that they would have much milk and I was right. Just looking over the fence at them, I could see very small udders.I began trying to talk myself out of milking them at all. Just dry them off, let them get well, put on some weight and grow. At the same time, I knew that dairy research shows that if you do this on a first or early lactation, the cow will have a tendency to dry off early and not produce to her potential for the rest of her life.

I called my friend, Pam, who is going to take one of these girls for her home milker. She is of the same opinion that I am...... I DON"T KNOW WHAT TO DO!!! I call my hubby and he says they are too young and thin-----dry them off and just give them TLC. Seth walks over and says, " They don't have any milk. We still need to get them in and put them in the stantions." So that is the plan.

First, these girls are in a pen not connected to the barn or our homemade milking stantions. They are not halter broke. They are gentle but not tame enough to pet or handle. In their minds, people are things to move AWAY from, not come to or follow.

Second, we find a couple of rope halters. Then we push a path through our stored junk from the door to the milking stantions. We rigg it up as best we can not to kill us or the cows getting in.

Then we block the girls into the stall and wade in there to get halters on them. They are quite sure that we plan to murder them by strangling them with these ropes....... Seth gets them wedged in a corner and I manage to get the halters over their heads and snugged up. They are caught!! Now what?????

The goats are watching all this with great interest and if we open that door to get the cows in, the entire herd will rush in and then it will be pandemonium in the barn. Seth stays with the cows and I bait the goats into another holding pen with a feed bribe.

All clear and ready to launch toward the barn door----- not the big garage doors--- a PEOPLE sized door. Up a couple of steps..... Open a fence panel and off we go...... or not. They refused to budge. Basically we, pushed, pulled, dragged and drove these two across the goat lot and up into the barn. Like some kind of reality TV junky, I brought my camera and got a few pictures for your enjoyment.

This girl, Number 63 ( I haven't decided just who is Nichole and who is Noelle, yet), is the calmest but I can already tell that she is not the brightest bulb in the box......

"  Meanwhile, Seth was ahead of me with Number 64. She is a bit flightier and put up more of a struggle. This is one of the many reasons that I love having teenage boys around.......

We got them in and they discovered that this was not the slaughter house but there was actual FEED  in those troughs.

Giddy with the success we had already had-- or oxygen depletion had affected my brain--- I decided to give hand milking a try. Just to see what we had under there.

Given my cow milking phobia, you all would be very proud of me for easing my way in there. As you can see, it didn't take long for the cats to figure out what was going on. This is Number 63 who has a damaged udder. In the crowded conditions of her former home, one of the other cows stepped on one of her teats and basically ruined it. Sore is an understatement. I can still see the big cut and that "quarter" is hard and probably ruined and dead . She will freely let me milk out the two right quarters but the thrid quarter next to the injury is also sore. Bless her sweet heart, she doesn't like it but allowed me to milk down that sore quarter, too.

 After about 5 squirts, the rest of the barn cats mobbed us, too. She didn't seem to mind them.

Number 64 was not as calm but she also allowed me to milk all four quarters. I just gave them relief. As soon as I was finished, they stopped eating and acted as if they really HAD to leave the barn. That was their routine at the dairy and it will take them a while to adjust to a slower pace.

I know that they look bad but..... they are alert, eating, and not on death's door. We managed to get them back out the door and into the catch pen. Seth de-wormed them before we got them off of the trailer. We are putting in a big round bale of grass hay this morning. They will have full access to water and minerals. Their grain rations will be slowly increased. I am limit feeding them alfalfa.

They SHOULD have kicked our heads off this morning. As they get healthier, I am sure that they will get spunkier.

Pam is as big of a sucker for an underdog ( or cow..) as I am. She has already put in for #63 with her udder problems. Pam hand milks and a 2 or 3 teated Jersey will work out just fine at her farm.

What touches me the most is that even though they are frightened, stressed and even in some pain, they are still incredibly sweet and gentle natured.

I just can't wait until they are cleaned up, fattened up and happy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas Tradition

As I have mentioned--- countless times-- last Christmas, I was nursing my beloved Holly back to health.
Apparently, I am starting a tradition. Word has gotten out that I am not too bright and a glutton for punishment.

Meet Nichole and Noelle

 Last year, I got one Jersey milk cow. This year, I got TWO! The chances of getting FOUR next year are looking pretty good.......

These girls are from a large commercial dairy. They just could not compete in a confinement setting so they are thin and frail. On top of that, they were bred too early. They are the bovine version of skinny, teenage unwed mothers. Tomorrow, I will make the decision about whether or not to milk them. 

They seem pretty gentle but they certainly aren't pets. They are used to being herded into a commercial dairy parlor. I am not at all sure how we are going to get them into our home made set up. If this turns out to be the last post on my blog, you will know that it did not turn out well......

To Market, To Market.....maybe

This morning was the last chance for our bull. Neil and I had about half way decided to haul him to the sale barn 3 weeks ago when there were 4 cows in heat within a week. Pretty sure sign that somebody is infertile. Since the cows all come from varied backgrounds and have not had trouble breeding in the past, we were very suspicious of our bull. He is a registered Red Poll and we have several calves born from him already on farm but.... they are all strung out in age. That is a pretty good indicator that he has always had a little trouble getting the job done. 

Yesterday, 2 of the 4 cows were back in heat right on schedule. This morning a 3rd one is in heat. Seth and I hitched up the trailer and loaded up the bull. Today, conviently, happens to be sale day at the stockyards.
I did not even feel vaguely guilty when he and a pair of cows happily trotted in to the catch pen with hardly any persuasion from me or Seth. Every time we catch the cows up, we feed them so they were expecting a treat and dashed across the goat lot and into the working pens almost on their own. Seth and I looked at each other and commented that this was almost too easy.....

We left the cow in heat caught up in the pens and I will AI ( artificially inseminate) her later in the day. I have some semen from a nice Angus bull in the tank that we will try out on her. Our bull loaded up on the trailer with only a few taps from Seth. Then we hit the road...... and discovered a new clicking, rattling, strange noise coming from under the back of the truck....... the fully loaded truck straining to pull this bull 13 miles to the sale barn.

I should just go ahead and confess that I hate pulling a trailer and have an unreasonable fear of something going terribly wrong while pulling a trailer. I've been doing it for nearly 30 years and I still HATE it. It doesn't get any better...... something is always happening to the truck and trailer----- real or imagined. The lights don't work ( usually because the goats have chewed on something), the tires go flat, it takes me 40 tries to get backed up and hitched. My deepest, darkest fear is that the dang thing will come unhitched while pulling a load down the highway......or the floor will collapse with my animals in there. The problem is that I have seen both of these things happen along with a bunch of other horrible trailer accidents.

So long before we actually get ready to haul things in the trailer, my tension level is high. By the time I get things loaded and heading out the farm gate, my nerves are on edge. When we reach the highway, I am pretty close to a basket case and gripping the steering wheel with white knuckle intensity....... waiting for something to "sound funny".
Usually it is all for nothing and the trip is uneventful...... The kids think that I am crazy and Salena usually rolls her eyes at me and tell me that I worry too much. Of course, I do ---- I am a mother!!!

At first, Seth tried to ignore the noise and not add to my anxiety.

Guess what?????!!!!  Today, there was just no getting around it--we had a funny noise. A real, non-imagined odd clicking coming from the back of the truck. I stopped about 3 miles down the road and had Seth take a look. Nothing visible, nothing burning or smoking just a strange persisitent clicking noise while accelerating. Ten miles to the sale barn and the trip back home...... dare we try it???? Of course, we did!

The entire way I was considering how we were going to handle breaking down on the side of the road with a large bull in the back....... how wide is the shoulder? Wonder how fast I can push it to get up and over this hill so if it quits, we can coast over the top and not be stranded with the truck on a backward incline--- in case the transmission can't hold it in park on the side of the road with the weight of the bull in the trailer pulling it backwards.....If it drags backwards it will probably jack knife and block traffic. Since it will be at the bottom of the hill, oncoming traffic won't see it until it is too late!!!

Do you see how my mind builds these disaster scenarios??? In my imagination, I have already had a massive car pile up like they have on the freeways of Los Angeles and we haven't driven 5 miles from the farm on a two lane county road......  Seth is sitting in the passenger side of the truck with no idea that any of this is going on. It's all imaginary. I probably need medication.

We made it there, unloaded and clicked our way back home.
I called Neil and described the sound and he thinks that it might be the universal joint. I was almost home by this time and figured I could probably make it.
Now that we are home, safe, sound and unhitched, I am wondering about going back to watch the sale later today. I think that I deserve lunch at the Stockyard Cafe` after my strenuous morning, don't you?

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Things I do For My Kids

This past weekend was the last few days of open deer season. During this time, it was legal to shoot bucks. The first week or so of January will be an extended firearms season but the catch is that it is only legal to shoot does. Kansas is known for it's big bucks and people come from all over to hunt trophy bucks.
When we lived at the old farm, our back yard was about 12000 acres of public hunting land. Sometimes, it was too public! Often there were so mant hunters that it wasn't safe for the locals to hunt there. We were fortunate enough to have a friend who offered to let us hunt in on his property. There was a "draw" or what I would call a "hollow" with a creek running through it and it is a wonderful place for deer. We have been hunting there for about 6 years now. The owner has been very generous and will not allow us to pay him. Many other hunters have tried to talk him into letting them in there but he has always reserved that spot for our family.

Here is a picture of the bottom. It doesn't do the actual place justice. This is in the "flat" at the bottom. The north and south sides rise steeply so that this is down in a valley.

Every year, my kids have taken deer here and we always have wonderful stories of our adventures hunting in this wonderful spot. Unfortunately, since we have moved, it takes about 45 minutes to drive over there. That means we have to get up somewhere around 4:30 am and be on the road before 5:30 am. It is a long lonely, dark drive over there. There is one gas station in between that is not open for business but the gas pumps are available. I am also getting old....
It used to be quite a hike to get in and out of this draw. I can remember having to excersize, diet and "get in shape" for deer hunting because it would just wear me out getting in and out of there with all the cold weather hunting gear on. I can remember reaching the top and breathing hard and sweating like a race horse. If we got a deer and had to drag it out, it took a couple of hours to get him to the truck. One year, Salena decided to take the truck down to get her deer. She nearly gave Charlie a heart attack getting in and out. The truck was never the same afterward.... Luckily for us, about 3 years ago he leased the mineral rights to a gas company. They planned to put a well in down on the flat in an open pasture. They promptly put in a wonderful gravel road and then ran out of money and never sunk the well. We have a gravel road to drive in and park on and it is almost too easy now! 

Charlie got that nice buck the first night they went over. After that, Charlie had to work so I became Salena's hunting buddy. I bought tags and a liscense and even took my rifle with me but we all knew that Salena was really the one hunting. I have been hunting with my kids or someone elses for over 10 years now. SOme times we are successful and sometimes we eat "tag soup". This year, Salena and I got tag soup---no deer. We saw quite a few and have some wonderful stories. More than that, we jsut got to spend time together. I don't care or believe that nonsense about "quality time over quantity time". Raising kids and building strong relationships with them or anybody else requires TIME and lots of it.

This weekend was COLD. After two mornings of very early rising and late ( for me) evenings, I am exhausted. Sis and I didn't plan on hunting last night. I was very relieved. About 2 hours before dark, my Adam looked at me and asked if we could go hunting. We had put up a couple of stands near the house for him to "practice" hunting in. I just wanted to crash in the recliner. Chores still needed to be done, the kitchen was a wreck and we are planning a Christmas party for the folks that Neil works with. It is for next weekend but it will take me every minute to get the house and yard presentable. I just didn't want to hunt any more! I could think of a dozen excuses to just not go.

But he is my baby. He deserves his time in the woods with me just as much as the others. Seth doesn't like to hunt. He and I get our time in together working on this farm. He headed over to handle the chores on his own and I dragged on my hunting gear--- one more time. We didn't see any deer but we got our own story to share. Elsa, the German Shepherd, tracked us to the deer stand and sat under it waiting for us to come down. She ruined the deer hunting for us. Even so, it was amazing to watch her put her nose to the ground and follow our scent trail through the woods.

As I hunted this year, I thought about all the stories of our times together. Some adventure or interesting situation always happened. I have decided that I am going to begin putting them together. Not to publish but to keep as part of our family history. It is, frankly, too hard and expensive for us to travel back and forth to our favorite hunting spot and I am pretty sure that we will not be going there very often--- if ever again-- to hunt.
Our neighbor has offered to let us hunt of a place just across the road from us for the extended doe season. We are planning to begin developing our own place to attract wildlife. An end and a new begining.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Working kitchen......

I spent a couple of hours this afternoon working on the wretched deer. He is almost finished and I'll probably finish him up this evening...... probably. Seth was out in the garage bringing me parts and pieces. I was working on my folding table cleaning and cutting it up into small chunks. Adam took the chunks and ran them through the grinder to make hamburger.

He's pretty handy and wrapping and labeling, too.

As I was working my way through this mundane work, I began to think about all the things--- common and uncommon--- that have gone on my kitchen.  

Holly Watch

I am very excited and poor Holly is pretty miserable. We expect her to have her calf with in the next 10 days. I actually think it will be sooner. Yesterday, Seth pulled her out of the heifer pasture and into the goat lot. This gives her easy access to the barn and a large bale of hay with out so much competition from the other 10 heifers. It also makes it easier for me to keep an eye of her. Seth called me at one point and told me that she had lots of "goopy stuff" and he was thinking that she was in labor. False alarm but it got us all in gear for getting ready and set back up to milk. Frankly, the milk parlor and kitchen are a mess! Another thing to add to my weekend list.
Last night at evening chores, I let her in a stall and began feeding her a little dairy ration and a small swatch of alfalfa hay. She seemed to appreciate the bucket of warm water,too. She stood and ate while I went out and handled the other chores and walked out to check cows. It took longer than I thought it would because I had to walk waaaaaaay around Brindle and her calf. She is more protective of this one than her last and began pawing the ground and blowing at me at quite a distance. I appreciate her position but she is too big of a risk to keep around.
While Brindle doesn't want me with in a country mile of her, Holly wants me to stand and rub her back and hips indefinitely. When I came to the house last night, she tried herbest to talk me into lettingher come through the gate with me.....

Neil has already checked her for me before he left for work and tells me that she is just fine. So, I am going to sit here and enjoy another cup of coffee, surf the net a bit, and think about my huge pile of dirty laundry....  

I got about half of that deer processed yesterday afternoon and plan to finish him up today before Salena gets home from school. Tomorrow is Neil's birthday so she is planning a cake for him. Hopefully, she and I canget a little deer hunting squeezed in this weekend, too.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

When I Grow Up........

I am 48 years old and proud to admit it. I am not ashamed of my grey hair and my facial wrinkles because most of them have come from laughing--- alot. My children tell me that when we are out somewhere and they lose track of me, they just stand and wait a few minutes....... They know that it won't be long before they will hear my loud, distinctive laugh and find me. I am glad that they will remember this about me as well as my bad temper and strict parenting when I am dead and gone! LOL!! 

I am reaching a point where I have to make some decisions about just what it is I want to be when I grow up--- if I ever do REALLY grow up...... I have been invited by some friends to enter a business venture. Yesterday, we had a meeting with a consulting group. I thought the meeting would only last a couple of hours and then I would be back on farm to get my laundry list of chores done. It didn't work out that way. I was gone until about 4:00pm and I had the most wonderful time! The ladies were brilliant, beautiful and articulate. I felt perfectly dowdy but I enjoyed their coversation and company immensely. They had a so much business and practical insight and I thoroughly excersized many of my dormant brain cells just keeping up with them!

Here is my quandry: Do I really want to do this? I can't go into specifics but it would be a career for me--off the farm.  I love this life that I am so fortunate to have. I still have one child left at home that needs schooling on a regular basis. We have a dream that we are building on this farm--- not just Neil and I but our children as well. If I do this, it will slow the dream down but provide a much needed income to get things paid for and moving along at a more comfortable pace. I budget to the bone to make this all happen and it wears me out mentally and emotionally. On the other hand, there are many, many things more important that money. I have invested myself in this family and raising my children and I do not regret one nanosecond of it----- unless they have clogged the garbage disposal with a dishcloth and set the back yard on fire like happened one day last week......  This is an opportunity to branch out into something that I have always wanted to do----in a really big way. 

I am 48 years old. My father died at 48. I have my health/weight issues but I think I am going to hang around a good while longer. Losing my dad changed my whole way of living...... I look at success and failure differently than most people and I tend to go with my heart on decisions more than cold hard facts. Often it costs me dearly but I have a peace about those losses.

So, I believe that I will just wait and pray diligently for this to unfold itself. In our family we have faced many interesting decisions and we have a prayer that we generally stick to in these kinds of situations: "Lord, what ever you want us to do, it does not have to be easy but it does need to be obvious---- because we are not too bright."

Now, I have to get busy on the chore list left over from yesterday. Hay lot for the horses and that dang deer is still hanging in the garage.......

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Winter Has Arrived

My neighbor tells me that was 18 degrees at her house this morning and I believe her. At least it is dry and the wind is pretty still. I have already ventured out this morning--- to the garage--- to get firewood. On these kinds of days, I am glad that I still have slaves..... I mean.... sons to go out and start chores.

Our chore load is really not so bad so far. In the mornings, we let the hens out of their house and feed them. I have begun to move their water inside the barn kitchen at night so that it is not frozen in the mornings. The half grown chicks are next. I plan to butcher those roosters in about 10 days or so.... depending on their size, the temperature and my attitude.

The cows have to be let in to the hay lot. We might have to push the horses out of the lot first, depending on how the evening chores went the night before. Sometimes, it is just not in me to push them out if it is cold, dark and windy. I am not being as strict with my hay rationing since we haven't fed as much in these early days as we planned. That gives us a little extra plus my hay guy brought me six more bales. He also told me that since we are some of his best customers, we should not worry about running out of hay---- he will make sure that he has enough in reserve to include us...... isn't it wonderful to have such good friends???!!!

Goats and heifers are on full hay so feeding them is not really an issue. Still have to check them over and make sure they have access to water. Filling up the horse trough is becoming an issue. I just hate handling water hoses during freexing weather. It is such a pain to roll and unroll them and haul them inside. Usually someone gets lazy or forgets and they wind up outside frozen solid. So, we are moving the horses to another small pasture that has a pond...... in fact it is the one in the picture at the top of this page. I'd rather chop ice than lug around water hoses.

Poor Ellie may is still at the house-- alone. We are going to rearrange her quarters today. She will be moving to the garden until she kids sometime in Jan/Feb. We need the panels from her big pen to use to build a hay lot for the horses.

It is deer season and we have been hunting. Not every day but enough. Charlie got a very nice 8 point buck that we will be processing this afternoon. I will be very happy to have him in the freezer instead of hanging in the garage.

Salena and I have sat together hunting and seen some deer and had a good time. She willbe back this weekend and we will try again. Adam and I went out yesterday afternoon. This is his first year hunting. It took us longer to get dressed and walk to the deer stand than he stayed out hunting. It got really cold and patience is not his strong point!

On the first evening of deer season, he and I sat up in a stand out in the pasture. The cows came over to checkout the truck that was parked nearby. Our old friend/enemy, Brindle, discovered us up in that tree. She was very upset that we were so near her calf and walked around the tree pawing the ground and blowing at us...... we ended up having to stay up there until the herd finally wandered off and she gave up trying to get us. Needless to say, we didn't see any deer and we made a mad dash for the truck when we slipped down!
I refuse to be treed by my own cow! As soon as this calf is big enough to be weaned, she has to go! By the way, while we were up in that tree, we discovered that her calf is actually a bull. That was the first time we were close enough to see!! LOL!!

Ok gang--- I am not sure what the deal is but this thing will not let me reply to any comments. I appreciate them but ...... for some reason this site does not recognize me outside of a post!!??