Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving, Photo lessons, Black Friday, Old Dog and Spectacular Sunsets.

 I'm cramming a lot in this post, we are in the post Thanksgiving feast coma, Bruce is watching IA beat the tar out of Nebraska so he is very happy. My day started early on Thursday when I was up at 5 AM to bake the croissants that had been raising all night on the counter. I also made a pretzel salad to take to Janet's and a lime salad for our evening meal when we were hosting Brad and Jennifer.

Since we had to leave the Lundquist's fairly early to prepare for our evening guests, I wanted to get to their house in good time as they will be heading out for Texas on Sunday. The house smelled heavenly, made my mouth water as I anticipated the feast we would partake of later.

All three of Janet and Foof's kids were there, Christine, Brian, Jessie, Nikki and Levi from down the block and across the alley. Brian, Ty, and Jacob from out in the country and Anne, Pete, Alex,  Sophie and Ben from Rochester, MN.

Anne said Sophie is her little helper, no matter if she is cooking or cleaning and she dove right in when it came time to peel potatoes with her daddy, Pete.
Is she a little Pete or not???
I wanted to practice my camera lessons and when I downloaded all my pictures, I found out I REALLY need to practice!! So many were just a tad blurry, I couldn't use them.
Janet and Brian...
College girl, Ty...
Janet, Sophie and Ty whipping up the gravy thickener.....

And the FEAST!!

There wasn't a lot leftover after 17 people filled their bellies, a walk was suggested but all the adults ended up sprawled in couches, chairs and the floor, sleeping off the tryptophan.
Bruce and I had to make our farewells so we could go home and cook another meal, YIKES!! The menu consisted of beef tenderloin, twice baked potatoes, banana pepper poppers, spaghetti squash, corn, lime salad and more croissants. I also cooked two racks of ribs earlier in the day to finish off on the grill because Brad is a rib aficionado as I am.
Blame the tryptophan or my age, I completely blew off the ribs, they were in the garage, our outdoor cooler and forgot to take the lime salad out of the fridge. As if we needed more food.
Brad and Jennifer came, toting 3 wine bottles, we proceeded to eat, again, drink and catch up on their busy lives. All too soon it was time to leave because Jennifer had to get up early to carry mail.
Bruce and I had an early date also, after all it was Black Friday, and from 6-8 AM you get a card for 20% off Bomgaars!! "What you need, when you need it!!"
We pulled in right at 6 and people were already leaving with their treasures.
An hour later......

....and three carts full to overflowing....

....we were ready to head home.

I'll put our aureomycin, dog and cat food, sunflower seeds, furnace filters, light bulbs, new dog bed in a bag, insulated coveralls, coffee pot and gloves up against your flat screen TV and tablets any day. We were exhausted and still had to unload and find a place for all this stuff when we got home. 
Sadie got an early Christmas present, a soft, heated bed pad.
It's good to be Queen.
After a dinner of leftovers, well, what do you know, ribs and lime salad, we have vegetated all afternoon.
All in all, I would say it was a very successful Thanksgiving and every evening Mother Nature is treating us to a spectacular sunset.
The word on the street is, she is also treating us to spectacular sunrises but I don't do them very often, I'll have to take their word for it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

They MUST be fed, even when it's cold and you want to hole up in the house.

Bruce went to an IA football game on Sat, leaving at 3:30 AM so I was in charge of cattle chores. It was COLD!! My everyday chores at home are pretty easy so I'm spoiled, it takes a lot to keep our cattle fed and comfortable and Bruce does it every day, no matter the weather. So Sunday morning I tagged along after him with the camera, on Manual again!! (I'm getting more comfortable with it.)

The temp hit a big, fat 0 on this morning, prompting my farmer to go into full winter dress mode. First stop is the bulk bin with ground corn mixed with dried distillers grain, a by-product of our ethanol plant. It's very high quality and makes the ground corn quite palatable, it smells good enough to eat.

The fat cattle get a loader bucket full and Bruce fills buckets for the cows, 5 in all.

This is the corn supplement flowing into the silage pile and then gets mixed and mixed....

....mix, mix, mix.....

There is an element of finesse using the 'joystick' of this tractor, Bruce has his hand on it, forward, back, right, left, depending on what he wants the scoop to do.

It is especially tricky when driving since the joystick and the throttle, the one with the little orange button, are only about 8 inches apart.
The guy who sold us this tractor told us about someone driving down the road, dropping his cellphone and, while trying to pick it up, hit the joystick, dropping the bale spear into the road, flipping the tractor. He walked away, the tractor was not so lucky.
I'm VERY, VERY careful while driving this tractor!
After mixing the silage with the corn, Bruce takes it to the fat cattle and dumps a measured amount all along the bunk. That, too, is an art I have not mastered very well. Some get a little, others have a smorgasbord but I figure it will all even out in the end.
They line up waiting for their breakfast, since the silage is fermenting under the tarp, it comes out warm, like a bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter day. YUMMY!!

Going back for the rest of the silage, we pick up the 5 buckets of corn supplement for our hungry, pregnant cows.
A late arriving cow...
"HEY! Why did you ring the dinner bell???"

Back to the fat cattle with their final load of silage, taken from the tractor cab and catching myself in the mirror.
After everyone is chowing down on breakfast, it's time for some forage. Today it's a bale of corn stalks.
First, the last of the previous bale has to be removed, using the loader Bruce lifts the bale feeder off and to the side.

Then push the dregs into the fat cattle yard for bedding.

The cows are done with their grain and heading out to the pasture.
"Hello, Fancy, our future cow!"

The fat cattle gather on the shucks, vying for the best spot to lay in.

Bruce easily switches the loader from the bucket to the bale spear, all from the warmth of his tractor cab.

Morris finally gets out of bed for a ride in the tractor.

Cutting off the plastic wrap around the big bale before dumping it into the bale feeder.

Back to the yard to switch the loader back to the bucket for morning and leave Morris off after fixing his breakfast.

Home in time to get ready for church, greeted by his loyal and enthusiastic dog, Mollie.

"You know you chose ME, Mollie, when you were a tiny 5# puppy, where did I go wrong??"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

You just never know what you might find on a gravel road

Bruce and I frequently walk from our house to the home farm, it's only about 1/4 mile. I tend to walk more in the winter as I don't get a lot of other exercise and with all the baking I'm doing, it's necessary to do what I can so I can still fit in my jeans. Mollie is a great companion, always ready for an outing.

"Are we going somewhere?? Huh?? HUH?? Can I come?? Huh? HUH?? I'm running as fast as I can!"


We find a variety of items along or in the road, mostly beer cans. It's interesting to see the brew of choice, for awhile it was Busch Light. This day there was a variety, hey, this represents 15 cents!
There are fast food containers and water bottles, honestly, why can't they cart their own garbage back home with them???
Mollie, Sadie and I were on the way home from the farm one day when Mollie found a bottle and started carrying it. I picked up a McDonald's sack, then noticed Sadie looking longingly at Mollie. So I found a plastic cup and gave it to her and then she was happy, doing her part to clean up the road ditch. I wondered if I could get one of those state signs that say, "Litter Removal by Mollie, Sadie and Julie."
But today I think I found the most unusual item, a 'used' EPT pregnancy test, laying in the middle of the gravel road!
This was not just thrown out because the wrapper was by the side of the road!

You mean someone peed on this pregnancy stick in the middle of a gravel road?????
Did I say it was COLD today??
If you look closely, you can see a 'minus' sign which means no pregnancy. That is very good, it's best that this person does not procreate.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Working Cattle on a lovely fall day

Working Cattle, those two words are enough to make entire families leave home. It involves running all the cattle through a chute where they get shots, implants and poured for parasites. It's a good time to look for any problems because it's a lot easier to treat them when they are confined. Otherwise they get a little cranky.

 The cows aren't that crazy about it either, this blurry photo is one mama hauling butt back to the pasture.

I must preface this with an excuse for my photos, I'm taking an online camera course. It's high time I learned to take my camera off auto and I had progressed to manual mode. All these photos are taken on manual and until I download my camera on the computer and can see something bigger than a 2 x 3 inch screen, I don't realize how they are coming out. My apologies in advance.
Working around cattle is messy, their whole world is a toilet. Add the stress of working the cattle and manure is flying everywhere. That's why everyone has coveralls over their clothes, except me because I was the official photographer and lunch provider. But while trying to get a photo of the fleeing cows, I inadvertently stepped in a fresh cow pie with my tennis shoes on, note to self, "Next time wear the boots!!"
We had a good crew, Mark, our vet....
The last time you saw him was when he was escorting his lovely daughter, Britt, down the aisle at her Hilltop wedding. Mark had two great helpers, so he stood back and mostly managed the operation.
Brian was running the headgate, that takes a quick reflex as a lot of cattle try to shoot the gap between going in one end of the chute and seeing daylight at the other.
"Here, calfy, calfy, calfy, come to Papa!"

Brian is ambidextrous, wielding a filled syringe in one hand and an implanter in the other.
Kyle was new to us, he has joined the vet crew and was holding down the other side of the chute, He was in charge of watching ear tags, pouring the cattle and learning the fine art of tattooing the future cows.
"Hello #20, our future cow."
Bruce's buddies', Roger.....
.....and Freddy Boy are the wranglers. Their jobs are to sort out 4 or 5 critters and send them up the alleyway to the chute.

A slightly blurry photo of my honey, the hard working farmer/cattleman trying to make sure things were running smoothly.

He gets plenty of exercise climbing over fences....
...retrieving stubborn calves who refuse to go up the alley.

The red panel is to protect him from little sharp fast flying hooves, farmers don't wear cups. He is now wearing gloves, after a calf showed it's displeasure by pooping a load of loose wet manure all over the top of the panel that he was holding with bare hands.
Mark is safely on the other side of the fence, encouraging the calf on to the head gate.

Back after another calf, only 6 more to go, Bruce!
After chasing calves, prodding cows, stepping in poo piles, vaccinating, pouring, tagging an endless line of bovines, the reward. Fresh baked caramel rolls and the soda of their choice served in style amid the chaos cluttering up the garage that I cleaned and organized a mere year ago.
There was nary a roll in sight when they left, every cook likes to see their efforts appreciated. We will repeat this in about 6 months with a new crop of calves, Lord willing we will all be here.