Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The first calf of 2014 - FINALLY!

It's been like watching water boil but the first baby of 2014 arrived mid-afternoon, March 24. I had Clyde at the vet getting a shot while Bruce was watching the drama in the barn. But there wasn't a lot of drama, 3 pushes, two small and one big one, and wet, slippery calf was unceremoniously dumped into a pile of corn stalks. He still was wearing the thin, transparent jammies he hung out in, in his mother's belly and was bellowing his head off, he was hungry and wanted to be fed NOW!

It wasn't long before the other girls were lined up at the nursery gate to "Oooo" and "Ahhhhhh" at the new baby. They would so like a baby of their own and by the looks of those bellies, it shouldn't be long.

This is what is on the other side of the gate.

"Hey cute thing!"

Today was moving day from the barn to the lean-to but first Bruce had to wake the sleeping baby.

He didn't want to move, quite the difference from last night. Bruce put his Mama out to drink and the baby wanted to follow. When Bruce thwarted his plan, he charged Bruce!

This little guy has an attitude!

But today you would never know as Bruce continues to encourage him to to leave the barn.....

.....the baby stops so Bruce rubs his flanks as they get closer to the door......

.....where his mother is watching suspiciously.

"What are you doing with him?"

We are both thinking in another year or so, she isn't going to stand for this kind of man-handling of her baby.

Around the corner and through the gate into the lean-to yard that they will have to themselves, until another heifer becomes a mother.

It's a windy, sunny but cold day in Iowa as the pair head for the shelter of the lean-to......

.....little #10 checks out the bedding......

.....and scales a pile of corn stalk bedding, following his mother into the safety of the lean-to.

Every healthy calf makes all the sleepless nights worthwhile, back at home ..........Mollie wants to be assured that Bruce still loves her best.

And Murphy is contemplating an attack on Smitty.

But Smitty has really sharp claws and Murphy re-thinks the attack.

Because there are easier targets, like Mollie.

Murphy is a pretty smart puppy.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

I'm surrounded by sickies!!

I have a sick hubby, cat and puppy, well, Murphy isn’t exactly sick as in SICK, she has a urinary problem that prevents her from running loose in the house. I was able to get a respectable sample and took to the vet yesterday morning but nothing showed. Mark sent home 10 days of amoxicillin to see if she has something brewing, she is in high spirits because she gets her pill in a hot dog and Murphy found she really loves hot dogs and thinks she should be getting a pill every time I go outside.

Since I can't trust Murphy not to squat in the house, especially with this problem, she has to either be in her crate or in my lap on the couch. That triggers the little green monster in Zoe and she also wants to be in my lap.

"Anyone want to play ball with me?"

 Bruce came down with a bad case of the crud, coughing, hacking, a full chest and head. I’ve been dosing him with Alka Seltzer plus and feeding him lots of oranges, last night was the best night sleep he'd had, he woke up at 8:15 this morning. Bruce did find out there is a difference between daytime and nightime Alka Seltzer Plus, the hard way. Yesterday morning he was really dragging, then I found the nightime ASP packet on the table. 

This picture was BC, Before Crud, when we brought home the new Honda, do you think we like the color red?

 Clyde is sneezing his head off and every time he sneezed, he knocks himself off balance. He follows me all over the house, waiting for me to sit down so he can have a cuddle, I've gotten good at dodging  flying sneeze particles. Of course it’s the weekend, we can't get into the vet until Monday morning.

Clyde and Bruce are arguing who gave who the crud.

I wonder if I can get the vet to see Bruce also, give him a shot along with Clyde? 

At least Bruce doesn't want to be cuddled in my lap also, it's getting a little crowded here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Day 2 for the woodworking challenged.

It was another lovely day, and it should, today was the first day of spring!! WOO HOO!! We've waited for Mother Nature to show her feminine side and today was a good taste of it. I was charged, had my water and Top Bar bee hive plans clutched in my fist.

Bruce gave me a lesson in planing lumber because I needed some wide boards not to be so thick. He asked me the obvious, "Why don't you use a thinner board?" "I would," I replied, for the third time, evidently he missed my answer the previous two times, "but there are no wide, thin boards!"

So I planed and planed, trimmed, marked, re-measured and cut carefully and would have given anything to get a visit from Bob Villa. Heck, I'd even settle for Tim the Tool Man Taylor. When I quit for the day, I had 6 sides, our sister in law, Sue, wants a hive also, 6 ends, 5 were 11 1/2 inches wide but I had a rogue that was 12 1/4 so I sent him back to the table saw for shortening, I'm not sure what happened there, and 6 follower boards, 2 to a hive. They are the guide for the bees to 'follow' while making their combs.

A growing pile of sawdust under the table saw.....

....and a respectable pile of wood shavings from the planer.

I had about equal that amount stuck to my cotton gloves, note to self, wear leather gloves tomorrow, and in the pockets of my sweatshirt. My glasses had a coating of dust and I was prone to sneezing fits. I also had a horse chow sack of wood scraps to help build a fire in the kitchen stove. I was craving a cold, adult beverage and my back was giving me the business, planing is hard work.

Besides, Murphy was waiting for me to come home and play ball....

.....and when you have this cute puppy, you don't disappoint her.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"I really don't like going to the vet....."

Today was Murphy's first visit to the veterinarian here for her booster shot. She started out sitting like a prim little girl in the back seat of the old car but soon wormed her way over the back and into my lap where she rode the rest of the way, looking out the window at the scenery.

There were lots of strange smells in this room to investigate, then Dr. Melissa came in .....

"Well, hello Murphy!"

("I'm not so sure about the headlock!")

"You are just the cutest little girl ever!"

("I do believe Dr. Melissa knows puppy-speak!")

("I think right now I'm the happiest puppy alive!")

("I'll give you an hour to stop the belly rub!")

("Dr. Melissa, I will love you forever!" Maybe going to the vet isn't so bad after all.")

I had to get something out of the car so Dr. Melissa took Murphy's leash and followed me into the waiting room. There was a young man sitting with a huge Visla dog, Murphy took one look at him and "woofed" in her best puppy voice. The big dog took that challenge and "WOOFED" right back - Murphy was gone! She disappeared back into the exam room, I found her in Dr. Melissa's arms, comforting and assuring Murphy she wouldn't allow that big dog to eat her.

 Murphy isn't quite as tough as she thinks she is but she didn't wet the floor. 

Mollie would have flooded the place.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Building a Top Bar Bee Hive by the woodworking challenged - Day 1.

Last summer my bees disappeared, I had the traditional Langstroth hive body that you see around the country. My 'Honey Man' thinks my hive was over crowed and they swarmed, the bees gather up the queen and fly the coop, so to speak, for more roomy digs such as some hollow tree. One day I had lots of bees, a couple of days later only a few robber bees were poking around the homestead. I was heartbroken. I loved my bees, I loved their honey, I REALLY loved their honey.

Since my 'Honey Man' owns the honey extracting equipment and one day will pass it on to one of his kids, I decided now was the time to try a Top Bar Beehive. It is a more natural way for the bees to produce honey and the only extracting equipment you need is a couple of 5 gallon buckets and some cheese cloth. A Top Bar will not produce as much honey as a Langstroth but I think I can make do without 7 1/2 gallons a year.

My sister, Rosanne, has been wanting to try a Top Bar also so we both have been reading and watching U-Tube video's on building our own Top Bar, looks like a piece of cake. I found a source for package bees near me so ordered 2 packages, one for me and one for Rosanne, we were committed! Or we should be committed!! Weather permitting, the bees will arrive in April so we have to get serious about building hives.

There is no lack of information on building Top Bar Bee Hives on the internet, it's just sorting out the one that seems to be the most do-able for someone who is woodworking challenged, namely me. Most of them say, "This is a project that can easily be done in a weekend."

Since it is mid-March and April is creeping closer, today was the day to begin my construction, this is what I have for plans.

It's just part one but I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew or saw more than I could screw together. When Bruce cleared a small grove in the late 90's, his father, Leo couldn't bear to see all those trees go to waste. He hired a guy with a portable sawmill to come and make lots of lumber, LOTS and LOTS!

This is just one stack I had to choose from, there are two more like this in other buildings. But of course the boards I needed were on the bottom, it never fails. 

After much huffing and puffing, I extracted 3 boards from the bottom of the pile that I felt I could make work.

The boards are what you call, rough cut, different widths in one board with bark, not all trimmed up nicely like the lumber you buy, another problem for the woodworker challenged.  I needed 4 boards 11 1/2 x 42 inches and the hardest was finding them wide enough.

The next step was squaring the boards, I needed to run them through the table saw to cut off the rough edges but they are too long to handle. But if I first cut them to 42", how did I know I was getting a square cut? After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I cut the boards to 46", then trimmed each side to make them 11 1/2" and then back to the radial arm saw to trim each end to nice a square 42" length.

After spending an afternoon in Leo's shop, I was the proud owner of 4 side boards for two, yet to be constructed, Top Bar Bee hives, a weekend, REALLY?? Anyone remember the book, "Thin Thighs in 30 Days?" I bought into that fantasy also.

So I went home and got my Murphy fix, she brought her rabbit out from the kennel and pummeled him into submission before turning to her rawhide chew bone.

Life is good when you are the baby.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Life with Murphy, Day 14

Life before Murphy, boring, mundane, quiet, organized (somewhat), lackluster, unexciting, dull, dreary, humdrum, uninteresting and did I say, boring?

Life with Murphy, Day 14, lively, hectic, dramatic, intriguing, wild, rip-roaring, unorganized, hair-raising (the cats, they blow up like a balloon at the sight of her), interesting, unorganized (more than usual), sleep deprived but worth every minute of it!

With the spring like weather Murphy is spending most of the day outside so I needed to 'puppy proof' the driveway....

The Fed Ex truck drove in real slow this morning, YES!

It was time to introduce Murphy to the Gator, I bunge corded a bushel basket to the front seat, put a pillow inside and plopped Murphy in with Mollie riding shotgun in the back. This is how she learned to ride and she was quite jealous that Murphy got the front seat. We drove to the farm and back, by the time we got home, she'd had enough, so had I. It was a zoo trying to drive and wrestle the little beast in the basket. I can see we need to make lots of short trips.

Both dogs still enjoy playing in the barn, it looks like Mollie is about to rip Murphy's innards out, but she's only bluffing.

I think.

I'd like to know what is going through Bruiser's mind.

"Now's your chance, Mollie, there isn't a jury in the country who would convict you."
Big dogs should eat standing up so I made a raised feeder for Mollie out of an end table. I simply took off the top, cut a piece of plywood and cut out a hole for the metal feed pan, EUREKA!! And to think that people actually pay for these things.

But what to do for Murphy? If I make one to fit her now, it won't do any good when she's grown. Looking in my garden shed I found this little kid's potty chair complete with pan. A quick wash job and everything is as good as new.

Actually it's fitting, considering her penchant for poo snacks.

Approved by puppies everywhere.

One of Mollie's favorite toys is a tennis ball with a cord through it in a loop. She can entertain herself by running with the ball, tossing it in the air and racing around the yard like a crazy dog. Mollie is not good about putting her toys away so she has a habit of losing them for weeks or months, if they're covered with snow, on end.

Yesterday Mollie found her ball and was running around with the loop hanging down, Murphy spied it and couldn't resist grabbing the loop. Her top teeth were caught and she was being hauled across the yard at Mollie speed, I expected to see her little feet leave the ground at any minute! I ran them down and extricated  Murphy from the cord, she didn't seem any worse for wear. I cut the cord and tied it around the ball so it's much shorter and she can't get caught.

I envisioned Mollie using Murphy as a shot put!

They engaged in a tug-o'-war and Murphy gives it her all.... 

.....until a noise from another part of the yard caught her attention.

"Who? What?"

She comes in after a hard day at play and crashes among her toys, just in case anyone is thinking of absconding with them.

Bruce has been gone for 2 days and Murphy misses him.....

 .......once again he has stolen the heart of my dog, I can't stand it!! AAUUGGHHH!!!

The traitor.

"He's not getting out of here without me knowing it!"

Monday, March 10, 2014

Murphy helping around the house.

One thing I didn't count on was how helpful Murphy would be around the house, having a puppy isn't all work. They adapt to chores very well. Why just today I was sweeping the floor and Murphy came in to save me from the vicious broom. It was obvious to her that it was up to no good.

Murphy keeps my dorky 'Elmer Fudd'  hat warm for me....

.....and helps me find my shoes on Sunday morning.

Murphy found the glove I dropped outside.....

.....and pre-washes the dishes in the dishwasher.

If it weren't for her, I would have missed this gorgeous sunrise this morning....

.....even if I can't seem to get the horizon straight using a tripod, 

perhaps I should use the level included....

or have my coffee before I take the picture.

But if you cock your head a bit to the right, it looks pretty good.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cows in the snow, portraits from the farm.

It's that time of year again, calving season, when sleep is a precious commodity, interspersed by nocturnal trips to the farm to check on the prospective mothers. It's especially critical when we have heifers, first time mothers and this year we have 6. They look suspiciously at us as we traipse through their yard and try to be nonchalant about peeking under their bellies to see the developing udders and then strolling behind to check out the nether regions for suspicious activity. 

Last weekend I had my camera with me when I looked in on the girls, I call this one 'Cow in the Snow.'

This one is titled, 'Fancy in the Snow.'

"Fancy, you are such a pretty girl, I hope you have a little girl just like you."

This one is 'Cows in the Snow.'

I titled this one, 'Fat Cow in the Snow.'
"I beg your pardon!!"

Cows get a little sensitive about their weight gain when they're pregnant. 

Back at home we have Clyde's evil sister, Bonnie, or 'Crabby Cat Tip-toeing Through the Snow.'

'Baby Murphy buzzing Zoe in the Snow.'

This one would be 'Chickens in the Snow', but everyone knows that chickens don't go out in the snow.

This one is 'Playing with Photoshop when you have the Cutest Puppy in the World in the Snow.'

Something tells me I need to change up the titles a little.