Thursday, April 30, 2015

A conundrum....

Long before Spring actually arrived, the little red frizzle hen was broody. She sits in the nest box on an absconded egg for 23.99 hours a day, the other .1 hour is spend dashing outside to eat, deposit a big, smelly pooh, getting a quick drink then back on the nest in case some other hen might get the same idea.

Then I come along and rudely yank the egg right out from under her, and she would patrol the nest boxes for another egg that needed to be kept warm.

Last year she successfully raised three foster chicks for my sister and was very happy.

Every year I get 3 or 4 new pullets to replace the hens I inevitably lose through the year and to keep eggs flowing into the winter months. I wanted more Blue Wyandott's to replace my beautiful Blue who died unexpectedly this winter.

I was going to be in Sioux City on April 12 so thought I would go to my niece, Carri's, Bomgaars because they always have a great selection of chicks but first I had to see if I could move the little red hen and not have her lose her broodyness. I put the red cat carrier in the blue jay cage, bedded it, put food and water, it was ready. The little red hen screeched and squawked as I removed her from the current egg she was keeping warm and plunked her down inside the carrier. Before I was out of the gate, she was down the ramp and heading for the door. I fought her off and got out of the gate alone. All day she paced the fence, voicing her displeasure at the turn of events, she was one unhappy little hen. I decided to give her an egg to see if that would calm her down because it was only going to be a few days before she would have her own family. I thought I gave her a big egg because I knew it wouldn't be fertile, the little roosters and the big hens plumbing don't match up.

I fought her off again as I went in the gate, she was bound and determined to go back to the chicken coop, there were eggs that needed sitting on! I put the egg in her nest, then caught the little red hen, she screeched and squawked and carried on as though I was taking her to her death. I gently placed her in the carrier where she could see the egg and she calmed down immediately. She fluffed out her ruffled skirts and slowly lowered herself over the egg, tucking straw and moving it around until she was satisfied.


Sunday morning she was still firmly planted over her 'baby' so I went off to SC, sure that I would bring home a family for her. I was so disappointed to find Bomgaars had very few cute chicks and no Wyandott's and wouldn't be getting any for a couple of weeks. The next week I called around to all the Bomgaars within decent driving distance but heard the same story. I finally called our local Bomgaars and found they were to get both Silver and Gold Wyandott's the week of April 20 so I put in a hold on 4, 2 each. No one were getting any of the blue variety. Such is life.

The little red hen was sitting on an 'infertile' egg anyway so it didn't matter if we had to wait, and wait we did, the chicks didn't come in till April 24, to cold and rainy weather. They went into the chick crib in the basement by the corn stove to stay warm.

(It was a zoo trying to get this photo by myself, they do not sit still! One immediately tried to 'dust' herself on the towel.)

Back to my story, two weeks had gone by since I gave the 'infertile' egg to the little red hen, the day was sunny and warm and it was time to introduce her to her new family. She will certainly be surprised then that one egg produces quadruplets!

With much cursing and scolding, on her part, I removed the egg from under her to discover it was a Serama egg, YIKES! It could very well be fertile so I took a bright flashlight to a dark corner of the basement and verified that there was a chick growing inside that egg, it should hatch in another week.

It wasn't really a conundrum, there was no way I could discard that egg, that would be like an abortion and I couldn't do that to the little red hen after her diligence of the last few weeks. So the chicks stayed in the basement by the corn stove and I check on the egg every other day. Today she was cursing and scolding me when I removed the egg and looked for signs of pipping. Then I held it to my ear and the chick was talking back!!

It should hatch this weekend so stay tuned for updates on the little red hen, her chick and four foster chicks. Will it be tough blending the family? Will she be partial to her own chick over the foster chicks or will she think it's a miracle, 5 chicks out of one egg??

To be continued.....

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A gang of calves

Every evening when we feed the cows, their calves go crazy and tear around the yards.

Their mothers are bellied up to the bunk and there is all this free space to run.

It's a proven fact that if you put your tail in the air, you run faster.

There is a lot of testosterone flying around as each competes with the other.

"Zoom, zoom!"

Suddenly a gang of five, the others are off camera left, zeroed in on an innocent bystander who dared to cross their turf. One brave soul confronted the trespasser.

Yup, it was Morris.

Who was not going to take this intervention lightly!

"Scram Punk!"

After some negotiations, the pair decided to call a truce, even though Morris still wasn't too happy.

Meanwhile, back in the barn is our escape artist I call 'Houdini.'

He slipped through this small opening in the fence, that is no long there and was hanging out with the hay bales while his mother was going nuts in the yard.

She told on him and also showed me exactly where he got out. When I drove in the yard she came running over to the fence toward me, bellowing her head off, then ran to this gap in the fence and stuck her nose in it. After that she turned and ran back through the yard, around the corner and into the barn, bellowing. I found her with her head over the gate, looking at her wayward child, Busted!

She did not need to speak the English language for me to understand, she showed me everything I needed to know, and some say cows are dumb.

The kids also need to realize that their mothers, too, have eyes in the back of their heads, rather in the sides of their heads. 

Whatever it is, they always know what the little rascals are up to.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Something I have to get off my chest.

One night Suzanne Somers was on the O'Reilly factor and doing what so many people do who think they know it all. She was telling Bill what we should and shouldn't eat. The first thing was wheat, because it contains gluten. I know that anyone who has celiac disease or a gluten intolerance needs to stay away from it, but for the normal person, avoiding gluten has little health benefits. I have no problem with anyone getting on their soap box and saying, "This is what worked for me." But to follow blindly an actress from Hollywood, who has no credentials behind her name to show that she has studied nutrition, not so much. If you do your research, you will find facts from people who actually so know what they are talking about.

"For most other people, a gluten-free diet won't provide a benefit, said Katherine Tallmadge, a dietitian and the author of "Diet Simple." What's more, people who unnecessarily shun gluten may do so at the expense of their health, Tallmadge said.
That's because whole grains, which contain gluten, are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, Tallmadge said. Gluten-free products are often made with refined grains, and are low in nutrients.
If you embrace such a diet, you'll end up "eating a lot of foods that are stripped of nutrients," Tallmadge said. Studies show gluten-free diets can be deficient in fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc, she said."

But what really got my knickers in a twist was when Ms. Somers told Bill he should only eat grass fed beef. "Cattle can't digest corn so they get sick and have to be fed antibiotics!" BULL!!! I'd like to know where she gets her information, obviously she has not talked to anyone who raises beef cattle. I don't know of any cattleman and woman who, while feeding morning rations says this, "Ground corn - check, silage - check, antibiotics - check, mix well and feed cattle."

Do these fat cattle look sick to you?

We did just have to treat a steer for pneumonia, what anyone would do for a family member who was ill, called the vet, well, I realize you would call a doctor, he came out, took the steer's temperature, listened to his lungs and gave him an IV dose of antibiotics and the steer is recovering nicely. There is a withdrawal period when we have to wait so long before sending him to market. We adhere to these rules because we want our food to be safe to consume, after all, we eat too. Sometimes in the fall, after we wean the calves, they will get sick and coughing from the stress and Bruce will feed some Aureomycin but he does so responsibly and only if they need it.

This idea that we use antibiotics casually is a crock, Ms. Somers! (Like she is reading this!) 

This is another blogger who is a self proclaimed 'food expert', The Food Babe. But The Science Babe,, herself a B.S. in chemistry, and an MSc in forensic science is hot on the Food Babe, debunking her 'facts.' One of the FB's criteria for acceptable food is if a third grader can pronounce the ingredients. As SB says, "Do you really want to base your food intake on an 8 year old?" I highly recommend SB for the facts with an apology for her language, I think she could get her point across without so much profanity.

As long as I'm on a beef, so to speak, I want to address the so called 'Humane Society of the United States' here after refered to as HSUS. I say so called because in no sense of the word are they your local Humane Society, who takes in displaced, abandoned and abused animals. They are simply a money machine, playing on your heart strings through their TV commercials. If you are sending them 'only $19 a month to help these animals' let me be the one to tell you that less than 1% of that money is going to help any animal. The rest of the 99% of that $19 a month is spent on CEO Wayne Pacelle's, and the rest of the employee's lavish salaries and inflated retirement accounts. It also pays for a bank of lawyers to handle all the lawsuits they are constantly filing. Donor dollars are paying for a lawsuit to Ringling Brothers circus they just lost along with racketeering charges to the tune of $16.75 MILLION that is not covered by insurance after Mr. Pacelle stated it would be! Donor dollars are used against us, livestock producers who take care of our animals the best way we can while we are entrusted with their care. I could go on and on but all you have to do is go to for your information. Please don't confuse HSUS with your local humane society, the one in Sioux City does a fantastic job with the animals that come into their shelter, they have one of the highest adoption rates around.

I don't care if you are a vegetarian, gluten free, refuse to eat anything white, think organic is the only way to go or that GMO's are bad for you, I do care if you don't find the facts first. And watch for those food labels that suck you in, such as on a can of Cling Peaches in the store the label said, "GMO FREE!!" Well, DUH! There are no GMO peaches!! Same for gluten, things that have never had gluten, the food manufactures are jumping on the band wagon and declaring their food is gluten free!

Now that I have all that off my chest, I will return to my regular blogging, more calves, baby geese....always something going on at the farm.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Calves, calves and more calves!!

I Love, Love, LOVE calving season, even when it results in a lot more laundry, every new baby on the ground is a treasure. Most mornings my wake up call is from Bruce to come help move a calf that was born in the wee hours. Since we always seem to have a new mother and baby in the maternity pen, it mean we have to first shuffle them around to make room.

This little sweetheart had a real bear for a mother, they spent a few days in the north stall of the barn because the weather was cold and rainy. Now wouldn't you think that old Crabby Butt would have enjoyed having such amenities? Fresh bedding, room service delivering food and water so all she had to do was tend to her baby?


Just a peak over the gate brought her snorting and shaking her head, threatening to do bodily harm if we step inside. I held Morris up to see the baby and she really didn't like that. We needed to move them out of the barn to make room for others but he had to be tagged first. The dogs were there with me and Bruce thought we should use one of them for a diversion, Mollie was the one who came in the barn. Guess she was it! She was busy snuffling for rats when Bruce opened the gate, Old Crabby Butt took one look at her and charged. Mollie was oblivious, still looking for rats, I yelled, she looked up and saw 1800# of mad cow bearing down on her, turned left but that faced into the cattle yard with lots of other protective cows watching, did a quick about face, fell down, but jumped back on her feet and shot out of the barn to the west and got in the gator. She was ready to go home.

While all that was going on, Bruce quickly shut himself in with the baby, leaving me out in the barn, holding the tagger. When Old Crabby Butt realized Mollie got away, she ran back to where she had left her baby and found she was shut out. That did not improve her temper one bit and she looked around for someone to take it out on. That was me, YIKES!! Bruce couldn't tag the calf until I gave him the tagger, I couldn't get to the pen because of Old Crabby Butt. I was dancing around, trying to get Bruce the tagger, while staying out of the cow's way and finally just threw it over the fence at him.

Little #78 was then turned out with his mother, who promptly took him outside to meet the other calves, actually she was just wanting to fill her belly with the silage she knew would be waiting. The poor baby was completely discombobulated and befuddled, there were so many cows out there, how would he EVER find his mother again?? He ran all around, zeroing in on me several times, "Are you my mother??" bawling constantly. So Old Crabby Butt was right behind him and not at all happy to see me out there. Finally the pair made their way into the lean-to and the baby could settle down while we went to empty the maternity pen by the road. 

You think this little guy has an attitude?? Every time I turned around, he was in my face.

Down by the road is #17 with her baby....

....who we loaded into the tractor crate and moved to the barn and put in the lean-to yard with Old Crabby Butt and her baby, then shut the gate to give the two pairs more time alone before being turned out with the rest of the herd.

Because, back by the road, #79 had a brand new baby in the east yard.....

.....we loaded her up in the tractor crate and moved them both into the maternity pen, a new ear tag later....

...and Bruce gently pushes her out the gate into the private quarters.

Every day we get a calf or two, this morning #5, a second year heifer had a bouncing baby boy. The mother was extremely nervous, running about and mooing, while the baby was very calm. Bruce was on the tractor and I was the calf catcher, I'm not that comfortable when a cow is acting like that but I stood my ground and guided the calf into the crate, hoping I didn't get run over. After they were both in a newly cleaned maternity pen, Bruce told me he was proud of me for my 'extreme bravery' while handling the calf.

I expect a gold star for my sweatshirt.

Just as I finish this, Zoe comes in and hacks up a hairball beside my chair, geezz Louise!!

Now I want two gold stars.

Friday, April 17, 2015


We had a lot of spring like weather in March so Bruce did what farmers do, got his machinery out....

.....greased it up....

.....drove out of the driveway.....

....and to the field, by the pond...

....where he drove back and forth and back and forth, churning up the ground, getting ready for planting.

But there was one problem, Bruce was in such a yank, that he did not take his customary nap after dinner. Soon his eyes were getting heavy as he drove back and forth and back and forth so he called me and asked if I would bring him a soda to wake him up. 

The dogs and I arrived with a Coke Cola, granola bar and apple and I think it was mighty good.

Murphy thought so too, even if it was only in her mind.

Since chocolate isn't good for puppies, Bruce offered her his apple core, which she took graciously.

Mollie was hurt, she's always been the favorite.
"Yeah, what am I, chopped liver?"

With some caffeine and sugar coursing though his veins, Bruce hopped back in his trusty McCormick and headed through the field.

Everything was going well until a wheel fell off because of a bad bearing and a wrecked hub. That meant a trip to town for parts and a stop at the DQ for a treat.

Back at home, Bruce put the finishing touches on the repairs and returned to the field.

We heard later that word got around that Bruce was in the field, nothing makes farmers more nervous than to hear the neighbor is out there first. 

Fast forward to April 17, and I need to put this blog to bed, I just couldn't find an ending. It's another beautiful day, the fields are all worked and now my farmer is chomping at the bit to go plant. He's had the planter out, putting the finishing touches on his new markers but so far all the seed is still in the sack. We had some errands in Marcus so went over for lunch and there is a farmer, in the field, with his planter!!! YIKES!! 

The weather is supposed to cool down next week so Bruce had himself convinced that he should wait - and then you see a farmer in the field with his planter!!

On the way home, the same farmer is still sitting in the field with his planter, so that begs the question, is he just jerking other farmer's chains? Is he really planting or just stirring the pot?

My farmer came home and napping right now, stay tuned to see if he gives in to temptation and plants some corn or if he can stay the course and wait till the weather settles again.

Stay strong, Bruce, don't give in to temptation!!!

After all, if all the farmers went out and jumped in the creek, would you?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cattle Drive

This morning was the day to move the two cow/calf pairs  out of the maternity pen and up in the yard with the rest of the new mothers. First job is to drive the ladies in waiting out into the dirt yard, and did they line up and go single file through the gate?

N-O-O-O-O, they have crowd through like they are fighting for front seats at a concert. Luckily we had our herding cat, Morris to help keep the peace.

With the rest of the herd out on the dirt, it was time to roust the mothers and babies out of their private quarters. #27 ran out the gate as soon as I had it open, forgetting she was leaving someone behind. Luckily #28 was watching out for both babies.

#27 soon returned and fussed through the fence...

"I'm so sorry, I didn't realize you were still sleeping!!"

The rest of the way up the alley, she kept stopping to reassure herself that baby was right behind.

"Yeah, yeah, Ma, I'm right here, quit fussing!"

It was quite the rodeo, baby calves don't drive well and Bruce was busy running back and forth heading them off, I'm so sorry I don't have pictures but I was a little busy. I'm thinking I need a GoPro camera now!

We finally had everyone corralled and the baby got a much deserved drink, after that long walk.

The rest of the calves were taking their morning naps.

This cow is babysitting 4 calves while their mothers are out shopping and having latte's at the local coffee shop.

This is a future heifer who stands at the gate and demands to be let in with the other cows. She is so ready to be a mother but she has to wait until next year.

This cow was wondering why I was pointing that funny black thing at the cows, I explained that I was recording things for posterity but she didn't seem to care.

This is what came to mind while we were (trying) to drive the calves.

While back at home, our herding dog, Murphy and her good buddy Bruiser, were lounging by the pond.

A fat lot of help you are.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Sunday morning inspiration

Sometimes blogging is hard, I might have the inspiration but the words don't come, I've been struggling with a blog all week, it just doesn't come out right. But this morning inspiration slapped me in the face, or rather my pant leg.

Last evening our sweet panda face cow, #28 had her baby, it was a beautiful day to be born and after the baby dried off somewhat, we moved her into the maternity pen that was freshly bedded and waiting for occupants. This is why she is called a panda face and her baby from last year is standing behind her.

We are pretty sure our Big Bull was the daddy, what do you think?

This is yesterday's baby.....

....our best guess is Louie is the daddy, ya think??

Bruce said there was more low pressure coming in and he was expecting some of the mothers to produce so I wasn't surprised when the phone rang (sorta) early this morning while I was still sawing logs.

"Julie, will you come help me move a calf?"

This sweet little baby was in the alley with her mother and, to our surprise..... was this one, two calves, a bonus!! Just to be clear, they aren't twins, they each had a mother.

It was to get better yet as Bruce, from his perch on the tractor, saw yet another baby in the north yard next to the fat cattle. It was a Trifecta!!

Guess who her daddy is?

But all is not rosy, one exploded on my leg and the first stop at home was to change jeans.

The dogs wanted to help me clean them up, YUCK!! Honestly, how can people kiss their dogs on the mouth, I know where mine have been.

Moving calves can be the sh___yest job you'll ever love.

Our poor washing machine.