Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pairing Up

Last Summer, when Larry Jr.'s little bride successfully hatched the six eggs she had secreted away in a cat carrier, I wondered how many would be roosters.

It's hard to have more than one rooster because they end up fighting, I already had three so was pushing the envelope. One is crippled so he isn't a threat to the others, Larry Jr. became the boss of Chet even though Chet is 3 times bigger than him, for now everything is fairly peaceful. But I knew that Larry Jr. wouldn't like any competition.

In previous hatches, it seems like the roosters always outnumbered the hens but I was lucky this time, I could see the two future roosters with the sprouting combs and wattles.

Roosters -2 - Hens -4

I knew my neighbors would take one rooster and when the time came to rehome him, I gave them two little hens to keep him pacified because he was going into a coop with 4 big hens.

So all fall I watched the Larry Jr's remaining son shepherd his mother and two sisters around the yard, keeping to themselves. Larry Jr was too busy running after the big hens,

Now I see that they are paring off in the chicken coop, Larry Jr is back with his little bride.

While Larry the third is choosing to perch up high with his two sisters every evening.

Yes, I know it seems kinky but in the animal world they don't care about such things, I just look the other way.

For now all is quiet in the coop but when Spring comes and a young rooster's thoughts turn to fancy, war may break out. If that happens, Larry the third and his two sisters will go live at my sister's coop.

Why can't we just all get along??"

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The little Deutz tractor goes to the hospital

Bruce loves his Deutz tractors, he has two, they both run a long time on a little fuel but when things go wrong, it can be tricky getting them back into running condition. The little Deutz has had an oil leak for some time that he has tried to fix but failed. It's not easy to find someone to work on them but Bruce found an implement dealer south of Fort Dodge who knows these tractors inside and out. We have had a break in the weather and he decided on Thursday to take it down, we picked up a 5th wheel trailer in Cherokee, then picked up his good buddy, Grassy, to ride shotgun on the way home.

The dogs and I took the Gator over to the farm to see how the loading went and found the guys striding purposefully to the shed to get the tractor. They didn't have time for cameras or dogs, they were on a mission.

But first you must get the balky tractor to start, a little diesel juice in the jug Grassy was carrying....

.....and a shot of ether in the air cleaner......

.....she started and off they go!

Up into the yard and onto the trailer....

....creeping forward until the tires are touching the front of the trailer.

"Keep her in the middle, Frenchy!"
Now the job of tying the tractor down so it stays put, it would be REALLY bad to have it fall off on the way down.

Heavy chains and come-a-long fastens the back.

Bruce had to search Leo's shop for another come-a-long and was successful.


Crank it hard!

A big hammer comes in handy to make a hook 'come to it's milk.' (I've really never understood that saying but I hear it a lot.)

The last step is the 'farmers friend', baling wire, to tie the handle to the chain to prevent it from coming loose.

Remember, it would be REALLY bad to have the tractor fall off.

And a little mugging for the camera!

The tractor is loaded, the guys are loaded.....

......they pull out of the driveway.....

....and head down the road.

The dogs and I follow them home.....

....where I change clothes and meet my good friend, Carla, at the Gasthaus for lunch.

When the cat is away, the mice will play!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Our crazy animals

Monday night, my gang of two, Becky and Kim, met at Remsen for Mexican Monday, I was craving Navarette's combination nachoes. Becky, who is newly retired, brought gifts for both of us, is that a new tradition?? Mine was a big rooster, when I got home I sat it down by the TV. Zoe, who was in a chair, got off to investigate and she wasn't sure she liked the look of him!

After creeping across the floor, I couldn't get to the camera in time, she stopped and looked him over real good.

Zoe sat on her haunches and sniffed the roosters face.

"I guess he can stay."

Clyde's introduction as a little less dramatic....

....a good sniffing and he was satisfied.

Since the demise of Bunny, they have focused on Mr. Bee, since Mollie had him, Murphy got her baby blanket out of the dog house.

A tussle ensued, Murphy tried to use the blanket as a distraction to wrest Mr. Bee from Mollie.  

She was not successful, Murphy had to be happy with her baby blanket.

Blue and Lucky watched the drama from their perch on the fence....

I wish they would concentrate on laying some eggs, it's getting pretty sparse in the refrigerator!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wheeling and Dealing

Bruce limped through the last of bean harvest with a damaged, beyond help, bean head on the combine. He started looking for another one, he had his heart set on a #920 but the ones he found online were a bit pricey. There is an implement dealer near Fort Dodge that had one advertised so Bruce called him and found they were having a big implement auction December 3 and there were a lot of bean heads on it.

Bruce and his good buddy, Grassy, stopped at the lot on the way home from the IA/NE game to see what they had. It was a little difficult to see everything because it was dark by then and all he had was a small flashlight but they decided it was worth going to sale that started at 8:30 AM.

Bruce and I went to Tom's Repair to buy a trailer to haul the head back on, he wanted to be prepared. The morning of the sale, he left at 5 A.M., I was so happy Grassy went along so I didn't have to, I knew it would be a long day but didn't realize just how long. I tried to call him about 5:30 P.M. but the phone went right to voice mail so I figured he had the phone shut off.

The night wore on, I called again about 8:30 and heard, "Yeah?" Oh, not good! Yes, he did get a head but it wasn't the one he wanted and it was a very slow, 40 MPH drive home. Now I'm really glad I didn't go. Bruce rolled in about 10, very, very tired but with a story to tell.

He bid on a #216 but it went for more money than he was willing to part with so ended up a #220, a nice enough head but not exactly what he wanted.

Bruce had never used a head carrier before so when he and Grassy were trying to figure out how to strap it down, you don't want to be going down the road and have it bounce off. A guy came over to help them out and here he lives just about 12 miles from us, Bruce and Grassy both knew him. He was at the sale and bought a head and he had a #920 for sale! Bruce asked him how much he wanted for it and the price was right, he told him he would be very interested.

The next morning Bruce had me take pictures of the head and put it on Craigslist.

We know someone is reading Craigslist, the next morning Bruce got a call from Foof, his brother in law down in Texas, "Hey, Bruce, someone at Meriden has a 220 bean head for sale!" So far he is the only one to call.

Bruce called the guy with the 920, went over and bought it, Grassy told him on the way home, "Frenchy, you are the luckiest person I know!" Here this head was so close but if they hadn't gone to that sale, they would never have known about it.

He also learned never to sit on the ground and try to make a phone call with two big dogs around.

"When you are here, you belong to us!"

So if you are in the market for a bean head, give us a call, we'll make a deal.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Four down, eight to go, yes, I counted my chickens before they hatched.

Today was day 4 for my chemo and I saw Dr. Rao. It was only the second time I'd seen her and the first since I had started the treatments. She was very surprised at the reaction I had from the first dose, she said she had 85 year old people taking the same thing I was and they never reacted that bad. Dr. Rao did think a lot of it was the fault of the Neulasta shot, I only took it once and opted for the 7 days of GCFS at Cherokee instead, I've not had any bad reactions with it.

She said they would continue with the 1/2 doses since I got along well, so instead of 6 treatments with the full, 2 day dosages, she wanted me to have 12 treatments. My heart sank and I told her what Dr. Wender had said. Dr. Rao said I could do that but in her opinion that was not the way to go, that was just keeping the lymphoma at bay, not working the best to cure it. She said I could go on the maintenance pills, they are expensive and some insurance companies balk, and they can have some bad side effects but there is a very good chance in two years I would be back starting from scratch and I don't want that.

That is the problem about being shuffled from doctor to doctor but if I had to choose who I trust the most, it's Dr. Rao. I've heard from a lot of people how much she is admired and respected and I guess I still hold the mouth sore comment against Dr. Wender. When Dr. Rao saw how disappointed I was to be facing treatments all winter, she again told me that this is a very curable form of cancer and she thinks this is the best way to go. She did tell me if I wanted a scan after 6 treatments, they would set one up but she would still want me to do the remaining 6 so I really can't see doing it. That's another trip to Sioux City, more expense, more time, I'd rather wait till the end.

Back in the waiting room, Bruce held my hand and said he knew how disappointed I was but he also felt this was the way to go. He said he wanted me around for a long time and we need to do whatever we have to, to achieve that, more tears flowed but these were tears of gratitude for such a loving husband, how was I so lucky?

It was a full house down there, I've never seen so many people in the big room. I was so close to getting a private bed, my favorite since I'm quite anti-social, I've never become one of 'them', but it was waiting to be cleaned and they wanted to get me started. I got to go to the little 3 chair room but soon the other two chairs filled and with all the trays and IV poles, Bruce hardly had room to sit. He had an errand to run so I encouraged him to leave after they got the IV going, as soon as I get the Benedryl, I'm gone and didn't wake up for a couple of hours when Bruce returned. 

The treatment went well, the nurse was able to bump the Rituxin up to a higher rate than I'd ever tolerated, I did wake up with a headache and tight chest but it wasn't bad. I requested a Dr. Pepper because sometimes a jolt of caffeine will knock out a headache, well that and an Aleve did the trick. Since it was pumped at a higher rate, we didn't have such a long day as we had thought and was home by 5:30. 

I've said before that even though I was dragged kicking and screaming into this, I've been humbled at the kind, compassionate care I have received, along with such kindness to Bruce and Janet as far as meals, drinks, anything for their comfort. This was Bruce and my first solo trip without Janet as she and Foof are on their way to Texas for the winter. Today we had the wonderful Mary Ann who guided me through the first treatment with another nurse in training. After the evaluation was complete, she said they had a couple of gifts, one was a homemade Christmas/get well card made by some kids in the school system for every patient, it was so touching and that made the tears flow. The other was a gift card to Fareway from funds that are raised every year from a 5K walk/run that is then used to help patients with any needs they have. So if I have to spend the next 7 months or so running to Storm Lake and Cherokee for appointments, we're lucky to have them. And if you can hug all your nurses at the end of the day, we are double lucky to have them.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Casper the friendly goose, post Thanksgiving ruminations

Bruce and I had Thanksgiving dinner at Janet's yesterday, it was a feast as usual, I contributed a strawberry pretzel salad, if you ever make something they all like and do a good job, it's then tradition and we dare not show up without it. I also made Danish rolls from my new favorite recipe and they disappeared in record time, the family declared them just as good as Bruce and Janet's Mom used to make and that is high praise indeed. I always feel as though I got off easy when I see the table laden with dish after dish of wonderful food. This is the last chance to see Janet and Foof because they leave for a winter in Texas on Saturday, we hate to see them go but they love it down there.

Bruce left early this morning for the IA-NE game at Iowa City with Grassy and his two kids, I slept in till 5:30 and then beat it to Bomgaars for their early bird specials. Bruce gave me his list and I had a long one of my own, the usual fun things, pet food, sunflower seeds, a new everyday winter jacket because my favorite one shelled the zipper out, mouse bait, heated pet bowl, heated pet mat for Clyde's evil sister, Bonnie, who hates everyone and sleeps by herself and I felt bad for her these cold nights, batteries, a new head lamp, you know, the exciting things that people brave Black Friday for.

On the way home I was hearing about fights breaking out at stores when people were fighting over Barbie, of all things, and I thought about my experience in Bomgaars. We are so stinking polite!

"Oh, excuse me, I will move my cart out of the way so you can get by."

"No dear, I'll just step into this aisle."

Everyone should shop at Bomgaars.

Since Bruce won't be home till quite late, I had the day to myself, I dug out some picture Cd's that I had never labeled and came across these old pictures of Casper the friendly goose. Bruce and I came home from the city one day and stopped at the farm to do some chores and there was a goose running around, head in the air, honking up a storm. He was so glad to see us and followed us everywhere, I couldn't leave him there alone as it was obvious he was very distressed. Bruce grabbed him by the neck and I picked him up, he wrapped his head around my neck and quieted, we rode home in the back of the pickup.

We had no idea where Casper came from, it was obvious he was not a stray goose because Casper sat on the front step waiting for us to come outside, then accompanied us wherever we went. When we drove in the driveway, both Sadie and Casper came running to greet us and Casper ran along side the car, trying to see in the window. When Bruce was splitting wood, he sat on a bucket and Casper plopped down beside him, pressed against his leg and kept him company. Several times Bruce had to divert a log from dropping on his head.

It took about three weeks for Foof to come clean, he was the one who brought Casper to the farm. His son was given the goose as a baby and was told it was a wild goose, so Brian figured when Casper grew up, he would fly away, only Casper wasn't wild.

I loved Casper, I'd never had a goose before and he was so goofy, he ran around with his beak in the air and would stumble over things that he didn't see. What I didn't love was the piles of goose poop, everywhere, especially in front of the door where Casper sat. We agreed to doggie sit for a nephew who was going to be gone for the weekend and there was no one to take care of Gunner. He was a young black lab with a voracious appetite and was limited to three small portions of dog food a day that he inhaled and looked for more.

Gunner was kenneled in the house except when I was home and then he was free to explore outside. I called him in for the night, he came in and jumped on the couch, suddenly I noticed he didn't look so good, before I could get him off, he threw up all over the couch. I pulled him outside and cleaned up the mess, it stunk to high heaven! I called Gunner back in, he just made it past the door into the kitchen before he barfed all over the rug and floor. This time I went out with him, I wanted to see what he was getting into. It was goose poop! He was reloading every time I put him outside, Gunner was running around slurping up goose poop like a vacuum cleaner! Needless to say, Gunner was only allowed outside under strict supervision for the rest of the weekend. I was not sorry to see him go home.

Geese are messy drinkers, they take a mouthful of food and then swish it around in the water so Casper made a mess out of chicken waterer when he would get in the coop. I didn't have my backyard pond, thank heavens, so I kept this rubber tub filled with water for him. He's standing on one leg, sleeping with his head tucked back in his feathers. At least he wasn't sleeping in front of the door and pooping all over.

Geese can get mean and Casper was getting a little ornery, especially to Sadie. He would grab her by the side, flail her with his wings, then do a victory dance with his wings high in the air. I couldn't stand to see sweet, gentle Sadie abused by a goose so talked to a neighbor who had a bunch of geese like Casper and she said she would take him. 

Casper must have known something was up because he was on his best behavior for awhile, then one day we were outside, I opened up the chicken coop and suddenly Casper pinned Sadie up against the wall and flogged her. Before he could do his victory dance, I grabbed him by the neck, wrapped my arms tightly around his wings, carried him to the old car and got in. I was driving down the road, holding tightly to Casper, when he got one wing free and was fighting me for control of the steering wheel, all the time dropping copious amounts of aromatic goose poop in my lap. We made it to the neighbors in one piece, I hauled Casper to the fence surrounding all the goats, sheep and geese. They all came running to see what was up, I tossed Casper over the fence, he immediately grabbed a goat by the side, flogged it with his wings, then did his victory dance, holding his wings and head high.

I quickly got in the car and tore off for home before the neighbors saw what a rogue I let loose on them. It was different around home, I no longer had to watch where I walked or head off visitors from the front step. Sadie no longer had to live in fear of getting blindsided. The chicken water was no longer disgusting. I did miss getting greeted by a dog and a goose when I came home but it all evened out in the end. 

I did hear about Casper now and then, the second year he was at his new home, he took a baby gosling under his wing, so to speak, so I guess he had some redeeming value.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

It's Winter, no, it's Spring, wait, it's Winter again

We were lulled by an idyllic fall with sunny days and temperatures in the 60's and 70's, it seemed as though it would never end. But then all came crashing down when an Arctic Blast roared in, barely giving us time to batten down the hatches and lay in the wood and corn.

How cold was it?

So cold that Murphy found a frozen mouse-sickle and proudly carried it around, taunting the cats with it.

It was so cold Mollie took refuge in the dog house with her heat mat and poked her head out to see if someone driving in warranted a greeting. I'm happy to say the dog house is serving it's purpose, both dogs and a cat or two sleep in it every night.

It was so cold that Larry Jr. took refuge under Blue's fluffy feathers to keep warm.

It was so cold that five chickens are nestled in this nest box.

And then there's Murphy,

"Cold, what cold?"
Just when we were resigned to the thought that winter was truly here to stay, we woke up to Spring this weekend! 

All the ice on the pond melted.

Bruce cut logs for the fire.

The bees ventured out of the hive and did a little house keeping. I made 6 fondant boards and opened both hives to feed them and found to my disgust, that mice had moved into the roofs. I evicted them, and got out the contact paper again to deter the little buggers.

Blue and Lucky were delighted to once again get out in the yard and scratch around without the pesky snow sticking to their feet.

But it wasn't to last, we woke up this morning to a winter wonderland again, not enough to have to shovel, thank you very much.

The dogs love the snow and chasing the purple ball.

Murphy doesn't understand the concept of playing ball, every time Mollie reached it, Murphy blindsided her.

Finally Mollie couldn't take it and gave Murphy what for.

"You little PUNK! I've had it with you!"

It's Thankgiving Eve and we have much to be thankful for, with the explosive riots erupting around our country, I'm so thankful for our little peaceful, white corner on earth.

And I'm very thankful for all of you, my dear family and friends.