Saturday, October 31, 2015

Three's Company, Four's a Crowd??

I've been watching the drama in the chicken coop with the little Serama hen who was raised with her four foster sisters, the Wyandottes. 

She tagged around with her bigger sisters all summer, seeming to be unaware that she was different.

Anyone remember the movie, The Jerk? It was kind of like that.

One night I went to shut the coop up and couldn't find her, fearing the worst I looked around and found her sitting on the highest perch with Larry the 3rd and his two little hens. She was sitting a respectful distance from her cousins, just trying to fit in.

She grew up.....

....and Larry the 3rd seemed to take notice, one night she had the coveted spot to his right.

That did not set well and the next night she was booted back to her original spot.

I wasn't privy to what went on lately but she has been exiled, forced to the other side of the rafter.

"And you STAY over there, you Shamed Hussy!"

These hens don't put up with someone coming in and trying to steal their man.
What it really reminds me of is being back in school and the cliques. If you weren't one of the popular girls, you were nobody.

Maybe she will attach herself to the new family of chicks when they get older, there is strength in numbers.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Fencing......and fencing........and more fencing.....

It's that time of year, the crops are out and it's time to do some temporary fencing at the pond so the cows can clean it up.

This is my big strong hubby hammering an electric fence post in the hard, rock strewn ground, who has a sore wrist and it started causing him such pain that I took over the job.

But did he take a picture of me??? NOOOOOOOOO!

(But I'm past that now.)

Here are our faithful dogs, Mollie and Murphy, running and chasing anything that moves in their new, classy, camo vests. The vests drastically cut down on the number of stickers they bring home.

And, have you ever seen a tongue like Murphy's?

This is my big, strong hubby wiring the electric fence onto an insulator nailed to a light pole.

This is my big, strong hubby rolling up some rogue barbed wire that we found laying on the ground next to where we were stringing the electric fence.

He was the one with the leather gloves or I would have been right in there helping.


This is my big strong hubby driving the little Deutz tractor with the fence roller upper, I think it's really called a wire winder, fastened to the back while I followed along on foot, hooking the fence into the insulators on the posts.

The wire winder was one of the dowry presents my big, strong, hubby received when we married and it's the only one left on the farm. Another was my pickup, we sold it and built a grain bin. The other was my Farmall tractor and loader which we traded in on yet another tractor that is also long gone from the farm.

I think he came out smelling like a rose, right?

Anyway, back to the fencing, we were all done fastening the wire when Bruce got a call from his buddy, Freddy Boy, that he needed some help so I was to finish hooking the details and let the cattle in. The details amounted to tying the wires from the fences we just put up to the existing electric fence that runs around the pasture. But first you better unplug the electric fencer, otherwise it is a very shocking experience!

I did that, tied the wires on, plugged the electric fencer back in, used a big screw driver with a wooden handle and checked for spark and viola! It was a success!! 

Time to get the cattle. They had been watching me drive back and forth along the pasture fence so they knew something was up.

When they saw me open the pasture gate, I didn't even have to call, the ladies came on the run. They love going to a new field.

Our faithful and gutless dogs watched in horror at the thundering herd headed our way and planned their escape.

"UH, do you see what I see? We better beat it to the gator."

With me in the drivers seat and the two chicken dogs in the back, looking anxiously over their shoulders at the herd of cows, we drove down the lane to the gate at the road that was still open.

The cows didn't stop till they reached the corn field, then set to work finding that elusive ear of corn that escaped the combine.

Our job was done.......until the next morning when Bruce drove over to check the fence and found it down in a couple of places where the deer probably ran through. I took some plastic grocery bags over, at least they are good for something, cut each one in half and tied them along the fence in places where I thought would make it more visible.

My job was done.......until the next morning when it was my turn to check the fence because Bruce was gone and I found it down in several places, DARN DEER!!!! After replacing insulators that were long gone, re-stretching the fence and checking for spark, I was done.

The next day was Bruce's turn to check the fence and all was well, for one thing, our corn is out, the neighbor east of the pond has his corn out so we thought the deer had left for greener pastures like they do every fall when there is no more corn left around us.

The day after that, yesterday morning, again all was well at the pond but we did notice that the neighbor to the north was doing his corn and he must have flushed out an entire herd of deer. Bruce and I were sitting in the living room last night when the phone rang, it was our neighbor, Bill, who just drove past the pond with a tractor and two wagons and there was a white faced cow in the road.


Bruce drove the 4-wheeler and I took the car after grabbing my big, honking light and drove over. While Bruce chased her with the 4-wheeler, I opened the gate and kept the other cows at bay who wanted to go join her out in freedom. Finally we got her back in the field and then went to see the damage, most of the electric fence was on the ground, it looked like a herd of elephants went through it. So with the head light from the 4-wheeler and my big, honking light, we fixed fence at 9 PM and went home, hoping for the best.

Bruce went over bright and early and found our steer, that escaped into the pasture this summer and a cow across the fence into the forbidden area. When he went to get them in, the steer walked up to the fence and calmly pushed through it.

ALL RIGHT!! It just takes one rebellious bovine to ruin it for everyone!! He rounded up the herd and drove them out of the pond, slamming the gate behind them.

"Don't let the gate hit you in the a, err, butt, on the way out!!"

 Now all that is left is to roll up the wire and pull the fence posts, storing both until next year and the memories of this years debacle fades.

Oh the joys of having cattle.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Ole and Lena

No, this isn't a corny joke about the Norwegian couple with their side kick, Sven. After the untimely death of Morris, we needed a couple of farm cats to keep the place from being overrun with vermin. I was at the vets office and asked if they had any cats up for adoption, I wanted a pair of young, neutered cats, hopefully a male and female about the same age.

Brooke piped up and said she had a male cat, Ole, about 1 1/2 years old, looking for a home. He was living in her dad's shop because their other farm cats beat him up. They also had a pretty little grey striped female with a white bib and 4 white socks. I told Steve to spay her and I'd pick both cats up in a week, after we were back from WI.

I got both cats and put them in Leo's shop to get acquainted with each other and me, Lena is the little social butterfly, Ole went into hiding. After a week of no Ole, I put the game camera out there to make sure he didn't escape through the 2 X 3" hole I did find. I was very relieved to see him come out at night to eat and the next day I found where he was hiding and hauled his sorry butt out.

 He was a big teddy bear, we sat in the chair and he loved all over me. I put Ole down and he promptly went into hiding again. He would not come out. Everyday I'd drag him out of whatever hiding place he chose, we'd have a lovefest, then Ole would go back into hiding.

Darn cat!

After two weeks, I decided enough was enough and opened the big door to the shop and let the cats out. Well, I let Lena out, the little social butterfly immediately took over the farm, nothing fazes her and she set up housekeeping in Bruce's old shop. She has quite a vocabulary so it's easy to find her, just stop and listen.

Ole, as was expected, disappeared, I did see him once up in the old forge shop but he was freaked out and ran from me. After that, neither of us saw hide nor hair of him but I couldn't believe he was gone.

Harvest started, either Bruce or I made sure Lena was fed everyday and occasionally I would check some of the buildings for any sign of Ole but came up empty. Then, just last week, we drove in the driveway and a yellow cat looked up from the food bowl, took one look at us and bolted into the brush on the back side of the garage.

It took me a few moments to realize we had just had an Ole sighting!!! I brought out the trusty game camera and set it up by the food bowl and left it overnight.

The next morning when I downloaded the SD card, bingo! Ole, caught on tape!

Lena spends a lot of time at the food bowl, she is licking her lips after snacking on a particularly tasty morsel.

Upon further inspection, I found we had other visitors to the food bowl, this was a partial shop of a disappointed raccoon who found the bowl empty.

Ole again, visiting under the cover or darkness.

Lena checking to see if the food fairy visited and filled the bowl.

Lena keeps a sharp eye out for any intruders who might be after her food.

Like this possum out for an early morning stroll.

Lena patiently waiting for Bruce to come and replenish the cat chow.

I was surprised at how fast the cat food disappeared and now I know, Ole is alive and well and either he will tame down and come to accept us or he will remain aloof and grudgingly come to the food bowl.

Either way, he has the run of the place and hopefully is busy hunting in his free time and that is what we wanted.

Long live Ole and Lena, the king and queen of the farm.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Finishing up....

We've been in a big push to finish the corn and Grassy and I were both called into service when Bruce moved to the Ehlers farm on Friday. We had to haul wagons about 3 miles home so it was going to take both of us to keep him going.

This is Bruce's dream, Grassy was unloading the wetter corn into the drying bin (above) and I'm unloading the dry corn into another bin. He is the happiest when he is juggling at least three things at once, that used to drive his father crazy.

On Thursday we saw smoke billowing to the south of us and knew it was not good, this combine started on fire and it spread to the field of unharvested corn.....

....that makes our old combine, put out of commission by a fire in the motor, look pretty good. We think the insurance company is leaning toward putting a new motor in rather than total it out.

When we pulled it away from the bean head, bean stalks were stuck, making it look like the emoticon with 'Blah' coming out. It looks lonely out in the middle of the field, waiting for the final verdict. I can tell it doesn't want to end up at the combine graveyard.

"I can be useful again, I promise!"

We three worked all day and into the night, then Bruce and I were up at 4:30 AM on Saturday to finish unloading wagons before heading off to the annual Viking weekend in MN. Dennis and Debbie from WI met us at Bruce's sister, Carol's and hubby, Tom's house. Of course the first thing we did was go out to eat at our favorite sports bar and restaurant. Niece, Katelyn, who is going to school in MN met us, we ate, drank and were very merry.

 Then we all went back to the house where most of us fell into a stupor brought on by too much food. We went to bed early, the BIG GAME was Sunday and Viking Fans were off to the stadium,  convinced that this was the year for a VICTORY!!!

Tom and I, along with his faithful dog, as long as she is on a leash, Tinker, went for a walk, it was a beautiful day.

The fall colors are spectacular and were duly admired.

Back at the house, Tom and I caught up to the game and indeed, they were VICTORIOUS!!! Smiles all around from the returning faithful fans. They sang the Viking song with gusto, then came in the house and fell ravenously on the food that Carol had prepared and I warmed up.

Carol shows off her new Viking tattoo, she gets one every year but this one was much larger.

We hated to eat and leave but the farm called, there was still corn to be combined, arriving home about 9:30 PM after being stuck in a traffic jam on 169. How do people drive in that traffic every day?

Monday morning came too early but this was to be the day we would finish!! YEAH!! I shouldn't even complain, by the time I called Bruce to see where he was, he'd been to Ehlers, combined a load of corn and was back at the farm.

 I took my coffee to go and went to unload  while Bruce finished his chores, the cows were gathered by the gate, waiting for some silage. 

 By that time, Grassy had arrived and we all took tractors and wagons to Ehlers, where Brandon, our crop insurance guy, brought us all a tasty lunch to the field.

What a deal!! But did he think that we will expect that every year now??

Grassy was gone unloading and I was riding in the combine with Bruce, every time he unloaded from the combine into a wagon, he exclaimed over the corn. But it is beautiful, isn't it?

We did finish, filled all the bins with one big wagon left over that Bruce put in our shed, waiting to be hauled to the ethanol plant later. Grassy went home, Bruce took the baler to the corn field and I went home to the gazebo with my book, after all, Zoe had not had her gazebo time while we were in MN and she expects it every day.

And I can't disappoint my Zoe.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

One of the top ten reasons NOT to visit the emergency room....

cold sores!

There I was, one week ago, sure that the news was dire, but I should start at the beginning.

Nearly two weeks ago Bruce and I were riding to MN with Janet and Gerald to a funeral visitation when I felt, what I thought was a pimple, beginning on the side of my nose.

WHAT THE HEY???? At what age is there a moratorium on pimples?? It's just darned embarrassing, especially there, for all the world to see. To make matters worse, another erupted under my nose, great! As the week wore on, the 'pimple' on the side of my nose turned into a sore so I found some antibiotic cream in the medicine cabinet and started doctoring it to no avail. Every morning I got up and looked in the mirror, only to see it looking worse and worse and it was very painful. Friday morning was the final straw, my nose was red and swollen, I looked like Rudolph's little sister and made an appointment with my ARNP, Judy. She took one look at it and shook her head, she said the nose is a really bad place and she wanted me to see a dermatologist, that is when I let the panic that had been building all week, take root.

I knew it, it was skin cancer. Family was home for the Big G's 75th birthday party on Saturday and were going out to eat at Germantown, one of my favorite places but I was in no mood to be around people. And I couldn't get in to the dermatologist for 10 days, more time to fret and worry.

Saturday morning I got up, looked in the mirror at my red, swollen nose and saw a new place under my lip and really freaked. I called Bruce, he came home, took one look at me and said, "You need to go to the Emergency Room."  I did not argue. I dressed and drove down, promising to call him as soon as I heard anything.

Dr. Harrison was my former GP, she sold her practice and went to work in the Emergency Room and she was on call. After lots of paper work and questions and waiting, Dr. Harrison walked in my room, looked at me and said, "Fever Blisters!"


After I picked myself up off the floor, I realized that they acted exactly like cold sores, the breaking out, the pain, the oozing but never on the side of my nose, what's up with that? Plus Bruce and I had both had a bad case of what I fondly referred to as the crud. Mine hung on and on, I was run down and that is when the virus attacks. 

Dr. Harrison gave me some high powered pills to stop the current eruptions, I had to let the others run the course and one week later my nose no longer looks like I've been on a month long bender but I'm left with a big, ugly scab that makes people politely avert their eyes.One thing I have noticed is no one comments on it, unlike if I had my arm or leg bandaged and gimped around, everyone would ask what I did. A huge sore on my nose, the lip is zipped! It's kind of funny, For me it was a huge relief, cold sores, who'd a thunk??? 

We went off to Foof's birthday party with a light heart, I chattered away in the car and finally asked Bruce, "Can you tell I'm relieved??" Yes, he could tell.

FEVER BLISTERS????? It's darned embarrassing!!

Monday, October 12, 2015

"They know my voice"....

I've always loved this bible verse: John 10:27,

'My sheep cows hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me."

It fits perfectly as I watch Bruce stand on the hill of the pasture and call his herd of cows, "C'm Boss, C'm Boss."

They hear his voice and they come.....but it helps that there is a combined field behind him and they know it's time to escape the pasture and go on a treasure hunt to find the elusive corn that fell in the dirt.

Bruce always bales a lot of cornstalks to use for feed and bedding in the winter and he decided, belatedly, to bale the field that the cows were now in. Cows like nothing better than a cornstalk bale to rub and bunt around but Bruce didn't think they would pay attention to him. 

He was wrong, the cattle were drawn to the big round bales popping out of the back of the baler and immediately surrounded the bales. Bruce had to leave his baling and drive them away before they could destroy any. Zoe and I were snoozing in the gazebo, isn't that what you are supposed to do on a warm Sunday afternoon, when the phone rang. 

"Will you come help me pick up bales while we still have some to pick up?"

The cows had pretty much tired of the novelty but Louie, the head bull, was going from bale to bale, rubbing and butting. He managed to tear off some of the net wrap before we rescued them and hauled them to the field by the bins where they are stored for the winter.

Next spring when the last ones are removed, the dogs will be called into rat duty, they move in and build condos for the winter.

I was laying in the grass trying to get shots of the Little Red Hen family and it's not easy with a look like this!

"What do you want NOW???"

I bribed her with some left over popcorn so that got me back in her good graces.

The chicks are starting to grow into their feathers, the chick on the right definitely is going to be a frizzle like her mother.

I haven't decided the parentage of the two yellow ones but they are now getting brown feathers.

We have some hawks migrating through so the little red hen keeps her eye on the sky.

And then Mollie and Murphy discovered me laying in the grass and I was mobbed, photo shoot over.

Hawks got nothing on two exuberant collies.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A week in review

A lot has happened since the phone call from Bruce one week ago about the combine fire, we've spent a lot of money, traveled a lot of miles, and sweated bullets trying to retrofit our aging cornhead to fit the beautiful new combine.

Kind of looks like poor relation mounted on it but it works well.

But first news from the coop, the Serama romantic triangle turned into the band of four when the little hen from last year joined Larry the third and his two women on their high perch. Larry took to her.

"Hey, Sweet Thing!"

But the girls did not put up with that and the next night, she was kicked back to the outside.

"Beat it, hussy!"

Monday morning, with Grassy's help, Bruce and I started the weaning process by inserting the plastic, Quiet Wean, tags into the calves noses.

"This really sucks!"

They do not appreciate the hard yellow plastic tags that prevent them from nursing, cutting the bond between their mothers.

They huff and puff and toss their head, but the tags stay put.

I bought hunting vests for the dogs to try and control the amount of number of stick tights and burdock that ends up lodged in their coats. Mollie was not sure she liked it but Murphy took to her's right away, raising her paws when I bring them out, ready to get dressed. I was just sorry they didn't have pink camo for my girls, but I did get them from a Hunting Dog website, I guess hunters don't go for such foolishness.

We finally got the new combine home from Tom's Repair late Tuesday afternoon, with only 2 1/2 rounds of beans at the Ehlers farm, Bruce was anxious to finish. But it was a learning experience as this combine has so many more bells and whistles. I was in the companion seat trying to make sense of the huge book with Bruce asking me what 'this' and 'that', pointing to monitors on the control panel.

I didn't end up being a lot of help but I was there for moral support as he figured out all the icons and finished the field.

Bruce had to retrofit the combine to the corn head, it was another trip to ICON at Paullina and shelled out more $$$$$ for a magic box of everything he needed. If it was only that easy. Nothing fit, Bruce cut and drilled, welded and screwed, bolting things on and taking things off to refit. I again wasn't much help, I could hold stuff but I was mainly there for moral support.

I don't know how he figured it all out but late in the evening, just as it was getting dark, the worst was over. Bruce quit for the night and finished the odds and ends on Thursday morning and soon it was ready for the maiden voyage!!

Excitement abounds!!

It works!!!

Great joy spread throughout the Kingdom!!

What a beautiful machine!

My farmer loves his new machine.

It gobbles up the corn....

....but where deer trampled wide swathes, it still plugged up.

Darn deer!

It's fun to sit in the seat and see the corn pour into the bin through the back window.

Bruce's good buddy, Grassy, showed up to help, he kept me from having to run to try and keep up. He also had an update on all the rumors flying around, one that made us laugh was that the "Deal fell through, Bruce didn't get the combine!" We have no idea where that would have come from but that is small town living, everyone knows your business. That can also be a blessing so we don't take offense.

Our neighboring farmers moved into their corn field and when I looked at our field with the three of us, a combine, two tractors and five wagons, I thought we were just like the Pruntys.

Except that they had two combines, two semis and two big grain carts, other than that we were exactly alike.

We filled the drying bin in one short day, actually we overfilled the bin and had to take some out, I guess I better keep a closer eye on it from now on, Bruce had to pull a wagon load back out but no one was hurt. It was time to head home for a shower and a bite to eat before bed.

I shut up the chicken house, my war on rats has either eradicated the scurvy vermin or greatly diminished them but I don't take any chances with the baby chicks. One little girl was peeking out from under her mother who was giving me the stink eye. 

I have started letting them free range in the afternoons when I decided I could trust Murphy. Last year she killed some of my chicks so I was very hesitant this year. She seems to have grown up a lot and pays absolutely no attention to them. Last year she got her butt paddled if I caught her in the coop but she has proved her worth with the rat infestation and has killed some in there. I've watched Murphy go in, check for rats, and come right back out.

It's a beautiful Friday afternoon, the sun is out, the sky is blue with puffy clouds, it's a great day to be a farmer. I had some errands to run so Grassy was called into service again. Don't tell Bruce but I'm getting a little spoiled. So I better get my work clothes out and head to the field, over and out!