Friday, May 30, 2014

The Pit-chicken from hell.

The little red hen has been going about her business, raising her family of 3, in the east apartment with attached outdoor patio off the chicken coop. She taught her babies that when people appear, they usually are bearing treats and to scurry to the fence and look really cute.

Yesterday the little red hen was pacing the fence and muttering to herself, it was clear she was ready to introduce her family to the outside world so I opened the gate. She didn't hesitate but hopped the board at the bottom of the pen, calling her chicks to "Come Quickly!" Like the good little soldiers they are, they each hopped over the board and set to work pecking at anything green and scratching furiously at the earth.''

I waited nearby because the other chickens were around and I didn't know what they might do with the munchkins busily working over anything in their path. A few hens wanted a closer look but were not threatening.

The babies were reveling in their new found freedom, no fences in sight.

Then they discovered the hallowed dusting ground and set to work scratching, rolling and throwing dirt around.

All was going well until some words were exchanged between the little red hen and the grey hen, who, by the way, has never raised a child of her own. She shouldn't have been so critical!

I was hoping the little red hen would kick her butt but she was hopelessly outmatched and, with the dogs very interested in the fight, I scooped up the grey hen and gave the little red hen the chance to retreat. She huffily gathered her babies around her and marched them back to their pen.

I'm sure she used that a lesson, "Children, sometimes you just need to ignore rude chickens, especially when they are bigger than you are."

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Our miracle baby!

Two years ago we got a big surprise when our heifer, #41 had her calf, a Hereford! Her daddy is half Angus and half Hereford but all the cows are Angus so we never expected this.

New born baby, still wet and sticky.
Who couldn't love a face like this? I immediately christened her 'Fancy' and made it known that I would settle for nothing less than a future cow. Luckily Bruce agreed.

This is Fancy last fall with her grown up #9 ear tag, pregnant and in with the rest of the cows, she is just as gentle as she looks.

Fancy at the maternity gate, "Oohing and Aahing" over the first new baby of the year.

All our heifers were supposed to calve in March but Louie didn't get the job done on time. That is why he had to suffer the indignities at the vet office one Saturday morning that was chronicled in an earlier blog post.
One by one the heifers all had their babies except the one who apparently did not get bred and only Fancy was left. She finally started making a bag but nothing made us think a birth was imminent.
Yesterday after dinner, Bruce and I went to Cherokee to get fishing licenses and advance tickets to the rodeo. He asked if I needed to go anywhere else, I could have gone to the store but didn't feel like it, we still have milk and that's the most important. I brought the loader home with me that morning while he was golfing to do some cleanup. Bruce said he wanted it sometime that afternoon because he needed to clean the yard where the remaining pregnant cows and 3 bulls were. I told him to go ahead and take the loader home, I'd use it later, so he left with it. I no more stepped into the house and the phone rang, it was Bruce.

"Come NOW! Fancy's in labor and in trouble!"

Have you heard of the personality test, Retriever, Lion and something else? Our niece, Christine was telling us about it, she said she is the Retriever because when someone says, "GO!", she goes, she does not stop and ask why or ponder the situation. 

I must also be a retriever because I'm not even sure I shut the phone off and was out the door without even a "Goodday Mate." My Fancy was in trouble!

She was laying in a pile of corn stalks, panting rapidly, it was hot out and obviously she had been trying for some time. We got her in the barn and brought out the calving jack. Bruce was trying to get the OB chains on the feet and he could tell it was a huge calf. He found one foot and then the nose with the tongue hanging out appeared. He groaned, "I think it's dead." There is nothing more demoralizing than pulling a dead calf, we have done it once this year. He finally found the other foot but there wasn't much room and Fancy had gone down which made it harder. He finally got the chains to stay on both feet, I positioned the jack and he started cranking, the calf slowly emerged and I saw the tongue straighten, I hoped it wasn't just a reflex. Bruce was working the jack as fast as he could, I helped, it seemed like we weren't getting anywhere when suddenly the hips appeared and she was out.

I cleared her nose of the sack and some fluid ran out, Bruce said to tickle it with a straw, he was busy removing the chains. Fancy was still down and had no intention of getting up. The calf sneezed and took a breath, then another, she rolled her eyes and sucked her swollen tongue into her mouth.


We carried her out of the way into a pile of shucks and went back to Fancy. He opened the headgate but she still had no desire to get up. I rubbed her head, she smelled my arm, which was covered in her baby's fluid and licked me, that was a good sign. I took all the ob stuff out to clean it up and when I got back, Bruce had Fancy up and she was smelling the calf and "M,M,M,M-ing," just what we want to hear.

That calf was amazing, for that tough a birth, she was so alert and within 5 minutes she was struggling to sit up on her chest. Fancy was intent on cleaning her up and making her respectable for all the visitors she was sure would be coming later.

With gifts.

We looked in both of them several times that afternoon and by evening the baby was up and nursing and took a big dump, a great sign that things were moving. This morning baby #9 has her own ear tag, is clean and shiny was a newly minted coin.

And very sweet!

This is the calf puller, the first time a vet came to our house for a difficult birth and unloaded this out of his truck, I went to the house. I didn't want to be anywhere near when he used it, it looked like an instrument of torture. I have come to accept it and I even used it myself once when Bruce wasn't home and everything has it's place.

The 'U' shaped iron goes behind the cow's back end for something to pull against, the blue end is the jack, it is usually about 18 inches or so from the 'U' iron, the OB chains are laying there and hook to that piece sticking out on the left side. When everything is in place, you jack slowly but firmly with the blue lever. This calf was so big, Bruce was at the end of the jack when she finally came out, the end of the line!


It saved this beautiful calf, she is a girl so I'm already thinking she should be a future cow, and our lovely Fancy, neither seem any worse for wear after all that drama.

But we were haunted with the 'what if's'?

What if we'd decided to dink around in town?

What if I'd insisted on keeping the tractor here when we got home?

What if Bruce was not so focused on cleaning their yard?

I truly believe these were no accidents, that God had a hand in guiding us yesterday. We were where we were supposed to be.

Thank you, God.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Musings

Yesterday we celebrated Memorial Day, when I was working, I always looked forward to it as a day off and the beginning of the horse show season. As I get older I think more about the sacrifices of those who have gone before us and the sacrifices of those in harms way today.

 I don't remember much about the time my two older brothers, David and Dennis were in the service. I do know Dennis made life long friends from people he met while stationed in Germany and has traveled there and hosted them here since then. He is the one who taught me about traveling on the 'mooch plan,' line up family and friends along the route to stay with. One Christmas we drove across the United States to visit David and his family at Virginia Beach, VA where I dipped my toe in the Atlantic Ocean. Tom, who is closer in age to me, was in the service during the Vietnam era and spent some time in Okinawa, but those in charge discovered his flat feet and discharged him. Wouldn't you think they would have found that before investing so much time in him?

Bruce's father, Leo, was in WW2, and stationed overseas when his first child, Janet, was born. The Red Cross didn't get word to him for 3 days and he never forgave them for that.

Leo's cousin, Bob, was also in WW2 and was a prisoner of war, that experience really changed him.

My own sweet hubby, Bruce, was in the reserves and always feels as though he isn't a true veteran. He was a cook and had to get up at 3:30 AM every day and didn't finish till about 9 PM, he made the boys homemade 2 crust apple pie and taught me how to make gravy. His cousin, Dennis, spent his reserve time as a projectionist. I think he should stand up proudly!

My brother in law, Max, was in the navy, his son, Marc, was in the navy and Marc's son, Jesse has done more than one tour overseas with the current wars.

Brother in laws on the French side, John and Tom served their country also.

Our friend and a former co-worker, Howie, went to Vietnam and didn't talk about his experiences for a long time. We had a work party at his house and he showed us movies he had taken and what it was like. He was an enterprising farm boy who did latrine duty for a price from those more squeamish, Howie said poop is poop, not exactly his words but this is a family forum, whether it comes from a cow or a person!

Bruce's golfing partner, Leo's son, Tom, has done 3 tours to Afghanistan and come home safely to his wife and two daughters.

We can't forget the women who have made the service their career and gone wherever they were sent, like my friend, Elizabeth, who has retired as a Colonel, back to the farm in Iowa.

We all know people who are or have served in the past and it seems as though everyone respects the price they are paying to keep us safe, I know I do. I was cleaning out a pile of papers I had saved and found an old column of Joan Burney's from Hartington, NE., one of my favorite people who used to write a weekly column in the Sioux City Journal.

Grandpa was being buried with military rites on a hill at the cemetery. Grandma was seated in a chair on a slight incline, when the 21 gun salute was fired, she jumped, her chair fell over backwards and Grandma rolled out and down the hill. Her little grandson yelled, "OMG! They shot Grandma!"

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A lazy Sunday afternoon in the gazebo.

We had a busy few days with company, Jean and John from WI., golfing, well they golfed, I'd rather do anything else, lots of food and catching up on family news. Saturday we all went to a graduation party for Jacob, Bruce's nephew Brian's son, and saw more family while we bid farewell to the Salzwedel's as they had business to attend to back home. This morning we got up early, well for me, and went to church in Paullina to hear about the mission trip to Haiti that Bruce's niece, Christine, husband Brian and their three children took last month. Never have I sat for 1 1/2 hours in church without fidgeting! It was a wonderful presentation and I'm in awe of all of them. They talk about going back and I have no doubt they will.

Back at home, we ate and Bruce went to the farm to get ready to work cattle on Tuesday. I decided to take a break and went to the gazebo with the paper. It was lovely.

The newly constructed gazebo.
There would have been the sound of a gentle waterfall, if not for the pond being down for repairs, I haven't yet determined how extensive the repairs might be.

My cute little niece, Kaiza back in 2008 trying in vain to net a fish out of the pond.

The orioles were making frequent visits to the lunch wagon, this is a bowl of grape jelly. She looks like she has only one leg in this picture.

That's because this is how she stands, one foot clutching the chain, she must feel more secure that way.

The frogs were sunning themselves on rocks, baby frog.....

....Big Daddy Frog. They have become used to me and only dive into the water if I'm too close or startle them. For weeks last year I only knew I had frogs because I'd hear a "splash" when I was anywhere near the pond.

There was a light breeze that kissed the 'Josie' lilac and sent the intoxicating scent into the gazebo.

The late Outlaw Josie Wales, my problem child in who's honor I planted the lilac. I miss her.

It would have been a perfect afternoon......

...if not for that blankety, blank, blackbird!

He cleans out the nest and swoops over the pond, artfully decorating this and other rocks with baby bird poop!! Much like a refrigerator door full of a child's drawings - but they are messy and stink - at least I assume so.

I wish he would diaper those kids!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Birds, Bees and Boat

I know that Baltimore Orioles love orange halves and grape jelly but I have never put any out. I was hanging out clothes today and watched a pair courting in the trees, she was playing the part of the innocent housewife and he was the traveling salesman who showed up while her husband was away.

What a naughty pair.

I had a feeder so I cut an orange and put it out and it wasn't long before they found it. I had no grape jelly but it's on my grocery list for tomorrow. I got my camera, remote shutter switch and the tripod and set it up, taking some practice photos. Then I hid behind the dog house and waited.

After taking about ten thousand photos and finding them all blurry, I realized that I had to manually focus the camera and went back to my hiding place. The orioles were very accommodating, even though I kept interrupting their afternoon snack, they forgave me and returned as soon as I was in my hiding spot.

The traveling salesman was always the first to show up, he's gorgeous.

But the innocent housewife was the dominant one and told the salesman to "Beat it, Buster!" when she wanted to eat.

And he did. 

I had a hard time getting anything done because I was fascinated with watching them. 

My really exciting news about the bees is, they have larvae!! That means the queens are in residence and doing what queens do best, procreate. Of course the model hive has the beautiful comb filled with tiny baby bees while the lazy hive has some of the most awful looking comb that is filled with tiny baby bees.

Hey, I'm happy with that.

Today was the day Bruce looks forward to all winter, getting the boat out of Leo's shop and prepping it for the summer fishing season.

This picture was taken last Sept on one of the last trips to MN for the season. Today the boat was lovingly washed and the motor checked out, brought over here and stashed in the shed. Ready for the magic date, June 7, when he meets the Salzwedel boys at the cabin for the first of many trips to MN.

But there is still work to do on the farm, the hay has to be baled and the cattle worked so they can go to the pasture so the innocent housewife staying home to do chores doesn't have to work so hard.

And watches for the traveling salesman.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Murphy grows up, sigh.....

I can't believe this was our Murphy just 3 1/2 months ago.

This was Murphy when she came to live with us just 2 1/2 months ago.

She showed Mollie right away that life would never be the same again.

Murphy was curious.....

....about everything.

Cats were to be feared and respected.

Naps were important.

She always loves to meet new people, even those who give shots, as long as they give belly rubs.

Bunny was Murphy's best friend, she slept with her every night in the crate and kept the Boogey Man away. The first thing Murphy did every night when she came in was to get Bunny out of the crate and bring her into the living room. Sometimes she had to shake the tar out of him.

And suddenly one day I woke up and found a nearly grown dog where my darling puppy slept in her kennel. 


Is this how you mothers feel about your children?

Bruce kept dropping hints that it was time for her to live outside, I just wasn't ready. I needed to psych myself up for it but one warm night, I left her out with strict instructions to Mollie to look out for her.

I was up a few times in the night, tiptoeing downstairs and peeking out the kitchen window. Sometimes I saw her on the rug in front of the door and sometimes I didn't see her and assumed she was in the dog house.

All was well in the morning, Murphy didn't seem scarred with her night out, in fact she seemed to relish her new found freedom and never tried to even come in the house.

I was worried about her fear of thunderstorms, she was frightened as a puppy when she was out early one morning and a big thunderboomer hit. We were in an unsettled weather event with some thunderstorms and I was able to be outside and distract Murphy with her ball. I watched her one evening through the kitchen window and she was fine so I decided it was time.

I took down her crate and gave her Bunny.

"Bunny! Where have you been??"
Mollie wanted Bunny also....

....I'm not sure what is in Bunny's future....

...but for now Bunny is still in one piece although one ear is ripped.

Just well loved by both dogs and well traveled around the yard.

Friday, May 16, 2014

And you thought YOUR visit to the dentist was traumatic!

A trip to the dentist, that strikes fear in the hearts of people everywhere.

But just suppose your kindly dentist brings a medieval torture halter with grooves for the teeth that then they can lock open?

(I bet there are dentists who would like this for some patients, especially little kids who  bite their fingers.)

And then suppose your dentist snaps open a black case  and retrieves a 20V Dewalt cordless drill, complete with a long shaft outfitted with a spinning grinder.

I don't know about you but I would be running for the hills.

My favorite horse vet, Dr. Melissa, made her annual visit this week to the farm to vaccinate all the animals and see to Lacey and Spiders teeth. As they age, they develop teeth problems and, as gruesome as it sounds, this is the best way to deal with them. No teeth, no horse.

Melissa's arm disappears into Lacey's mouth to access the teeth, determine what is sharp and needs filed down.

Lacey can't bite. And she is sedated, there is no way we could over power a 1000# horse.

Lacey seems sleepy but it's deceiving.

Once Melissa fires up her drill, Lacey came to life and started backing away, dragging me with her and Melissa following.

Backing, backing, Melissa filing those sharp back teeth.

Backing, backing, I'm holding up her head with my shoulder, I can hear and feel the vibration inside Lacey's jaw, EYE, YI, YI! It gives me the creeps! Melissa is in the 'crouch position' trying to get at those teeth. The dogs want to know what is going on.

Lacey finally hit the barn door, no place to go, her head is getting heavy on my shoulder, Melissa is in 'deep crouch', getting the last of the sharp edges off and the dogs are bored with it all and holding a wrestling match.

It's all over, Lacey is sleeping off the anesthetic, she will appreciate this when she has her breakfast tomorrow.

"Appreciate it my hind end!"