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Farm Fresh Blog
Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Spring brings flowers and baby goats!
I never get tired of watching these little dudes!
They are sooo cute!
But occasionally they do something to remind me that even at this age, they are goats!
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
In Search Of . . .
I knew it was coming. I knew it the moment I saw his eyes light up. Other Half sat across the table and listened to another agent describe the gi-normous rattlesnake he'd seen in a federal preserve as he flew over it in a helicopter. I saw that gleam and I knew. I knew that sometime in the near future we would find ourselves in that preserve.
Flash forward to Sunday morning. We had plenty of chores we could have been doing, but after a hard week of work that actually earns a paycheck, we were ready for a break. I suggested going to the Sporting Goods store for some new running shoes. (That's normally as far down the Getting Healthy path I tend to travel.) Other Half suggested that we take the Border collies (Thing 1 & Thing 2) out in the jeep. He and the dogs could wait outside while I bought shoes. Sounded good. Like tripping over a barbed wire fence, I fell right into it.
"Ok! Let's take the Border collies out in the jeep!"
But once we got rolling, the plan changed. In his defense, I changed it first. While slow-rolling down the road, I changed the game plan because I really loathe the idea of going into the city on my day off.
"Hey, instead of going into the city, let's just drive around out here for a while," I said.
Oh that sounded good to him! (I bet it did.)
As soon as he suggested heading to the preserve, I remembered the gi-normous rattlesnake. He didn't even mention the snake. Okie Dokie, Smokie. The Border Collies were NOT getting out of the jeep. I was NOT getting out of the jeep either. But that lasted until I saw the wildflowers.
I had to get out and photograph this.
This made me get back in the jeep.
We saw lots of alligators . . . lots and lots and lots of alligators. (The Border Collies were NOT getting out of the jeep!)
Cowdog had a blast. He loves riding in the jeep.
Because he is a Border Collie, he has to have a least one bizarre quirky behavior. Cowdog snaps at passing cars as he goes down the road. Lily finds this habit most annoying. So while he bounced and snapped his way down the highway, Lily glared at him, angry that she was strapped into the back seat with an idiot.
After a while she just gave up and went to sleep.
Despite lots of looking, we never saw a gi-normous rattlesnake. Trust me, I did LOTS and LOTS of looking for snakes. Finding snakes was VERY important to me! I think Other Half was a little disappointed that he didn't find a giant rattlesnake. I was okay with it though.
And that's why I didn't get field fencing put up in the big pasture this weekend!
Monday, 26 April 2010
This is why a certain Miniature Horse is worth his weight in gold:
and this too:
I wanted to take this child home with me!
I wonder if her mother would notice if I just loaded her in the horse trailer and took her home with the pony. Hmmmm. . . probably so. What a pity. This one even comes with cute overalls too!
All this pony riding was because it was The Supervisor's first birthday!!!
Look at those cakes!!!! Farm animals!!! (a cow, a pig, a sheep, a chick, and a bunny!) The Supervisor has a real cake baker for a grandma! What a lucky kid!
But unfortunately The Supervisor was so excited about the Birthday Happenings that she refused to take her nap. Thus . . .
While in the past, this child has had to be forcibly extracted from the back of this pony, today she was having none of it! (I will blackmail her with this photo later!)
Now let's take another look at those cakes!
Saturday, 24 April 2010
This is why I was late for work yesterday:
I was headed for work on time. (I really was!) I stepped out the back gate and found this little guy. Brand spankin' new baby goat. Screech! Took one look at him and knew I was gonna be late for work . . . again.
We checked him out. He seemed healthy. Found the afterbirth. It looked okay . . . but it wouldn't go in the bag. That afterbirth had a life of its own. It oozed across the shovel and like an octopus, wriggling away and escaping before I could stuff it in the bag. Why me? No one else is late for work because they can't get their afterbirth in the trash bag! I'm cursed!
This post is courtesy of my work buddy, Fergus Fernandez, who, upon hearing my excuse, said "You have GOT to put THAT on the blog." Here it is, Fergus!
Monday, 19 April 2010
I am a child of the Starbucks generation. I am that woman standing in front of the microwave, wishing it would "hurry up!" But over the years, I've come to realize that faster and cheaper isn't always better. It's easy to be seduced by Fast & Cheap. Millions of dollars are spent trying to convince me that I simply MUST HAVE the latest and greatest widget that will undoubtedly make my life easier. I've spent years working to pay for widgets that I had to have because they would make my world a happier place, and ya know what? They didn't. And what did I do with the time the widget supposedly saved me? I worked, so I could buy more widgets!
Farms and ranches change that kind of thinking. They force you to slow down. Nature works in its own time. No matter how long I watch a pregnant goat, she won't have that baby until she's damned good and ready. And no manner of widgets will make it rain, or stop it from raining. It is what it is. There's a lot of wisdom to be gained on a farm.
"Excuse me???" (My mind struggled with this idea.)
"I live in a subdivision. My wife and kids aren't home during the day, so I wouldn't really have anything to do."
I was still in a hazy fog somewhere. The very concept boggled my mind. I tried to hire him to work on my fences but alas, he had no repressed rancher-type tendencies lurking under the surface, desperate to be released by the feel of unrolling heavy bundles of wire. More's the pity.
But my point is . . . when did Americans run out of things to do? Is technology so much better that we can now just "Live to Work?" And can we trust it? That job that pays for all your widgets can disappear tomorrow. Then where will you be? Call me crazy, but the older I get, the less trusting I become. One good hurricane can show you just exactly how puny your techonology is. Want to know who does just fine in the wake of a hurricane? A redneck!
After the last big hurricane, Son made the comment that "Everyone makes fun of the Redneck until you need him."
He said this as he was driving around in his 4wheeler with his chain-saw, helping out his neighbors. Our community did just fine. We were a community of farmers, ranchers, and rednecks.
While many people in the Big City stood by and waited for the government to help them, the rednecks cleaned their own roads. They took down their own trees and made it easier for the power crews to come into their community. They fed each other. They took care of each other. Now you can argue that they still used gasoline, and they did all this so electricity could be restored, but the point is, they had the SKILLS to survive. It wasn't always comfortable, but it sure beat the heck out of waiting for the government to do it for us.
When Other Half and I went to a historical reenactment last weekend, it got me to thinking about technology. We watched a blacksmith at work. He had dozens of school children fascinated, (and Other Half). While he puttered, he talked about how valuable the village blacksmith used to be. The blacksmith made the tools for every other craftsman in town. As I watched the old man work, I realized he was one of a dying breed, a true craftsman.
If you look up the word "technology" in a thesaurus, along with the words, "science," "mechanics," and "automation," you will also see words like, "craft" and "skill." When did we lose the craft and skill in our world? When did blacksmiths become an endangered species?
At the same reenactment, we found a Dutch Oven Society that showed us how to cook darned near everything you'd ever want in cast iron. No electricity. I was captivated. These people made better food than I could make in an oven. (That isn't saying much. I have the attention span of a butterfly when I cook!) I understand cooking over coals is much more demanding than flipping on the gas and burning your food, but I'm tired of being a slave to technology and am more than willing to learn.
Some friends of ours down the street have draft horses. It never fails to make my heart smile when I see that big team of percherons walking down the highway. I know another old man who drives his mule team to the feed store. It's certainly not faster than using a pick-up, but it always starts on a cold morning.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Vacations for us are often "working vacations." We tend to end up looking at cattle, sheep, or goats, or . . . we look at horses and dogs that we can use to work cattle, sheep or goats.
This vacation was no exception. We took some time off to go look at sheep, but still ended up at several cattle auctions. (Go figure! Other Half can NOT pass up a cattle auction.)
We came away from our vacation with several points of wisdom:
* Cattle prices vary greatly across the state. (and bulls are bringing more than steers per pound now so we can save ourselves the headache of castration this spring)
* A vacation is not a good time to cut out caffeine. There is nowhere for your spouse to hide.
* If you are using a TomTom navigational system, there is a big difference between Abilene State Park and Alilene State Park. Hmpphf! Whodathunkit?
* The goat and sheep capital of Texas is Goldthwaite. No, I still don't know how to pronounce it, but the people are nice.
* The people of Goldthwaite do not get angry when you cause a traffic jam by stopping in the road to help a goat get her head out of the fence. (and it's a nice way to meet the local ranchers)
* Hunting up old friends that you haven't seen in years is a good thing. It's like finding a sparkly treasure in your dresser drawer that you forgot you had.
* Even if you already have two dogs stuffed into the cab of an F350 pickup truck, you can still manage to fit in a third if he has a hard-luck story and sad brown eyes.
* If you have been waiting for weeks for a goat to give birth, she will most certainly do so when you leave on vacation.
* Other Half can move pretty fast when he sneaks into the woods to pee and finds a snake at his feet. This is especially true after you have been to Sweetwater, home of the Rattlesnake Round-Up!(The mental image of that man coming out of the forest with his pants un-done still has me in stitches!)
* There are no schedules when Other Half finds a cattle auction, a giant tack store, or a state park that just happens to be hosting a historical reenactment complete with period costumes, soldiers, blacksmithing, dutch oven cooking, and God help us, CANNONS!
Quote for the trip:
"There isn't a cannon in the back pasture."
Saturday, 17 April 2010
We got in last night about 2 AM (that's a whole 'nuther story!) and spent the day catching up on farm chores, but unfortunately I still have a mountain of e-mail to wade through. Another baby goat was born while we were gone. (will post cute pics later!) Since so many of you wrote about Cowdog the Border Collie, I figured you'd want an update.
He is one happy pooch!
We took him with us to feed cows today. (fear not, the dogs are only allowed to ride in the back when we are driving in the pasture!)
He was a good boy, so we let him out of the truck to get an idea of how he'd be with the stock. He has some promise.
He was quiet but firm with the calves . . . .
but didn't take crap off the really aggressive cows . . .
Most importantly, he listened and paid attention to what we were trying to do, and that is really all we can ask of him.
Thing 1 and Thing 2
Wednesday, 14 April 2010
Do you recall what happened when Other Half put Border Collie on his cattle? (She did a splendid job!) I, however, freaked when I saw how close to death she came each time a cow's foot lashed out at her head. So I told him, (and now those words are coming back to haunt me!) "If you want to work cows with a Border Collie, you're gonna have to get yer own damned Border Collie!"
Friends & Neighbors, he did.
Meet Cowdog. (Yes, that's really his name before he landed in our stock trailer.)
We are on vacation - Looking at sheep. Looking at goats. Going to cattle sales. (What? You expected Disney World???)
Border Collie and Blue Heeler are riding shotgun with us. While in the Ranger Station at the Abilene State Park, Other Half saw a poster. Someone found a Border Collie. Uh oh!
He came back to the truck bubbling with enthusiasm. I was not amused. He called the number anyway. He was certain this dog needed to be with Border Collie people if the owner couldn't be found. I was REALLY not amused. He plowed onward.
It appears that Cowdog is a criminal. He sneaks off to work livestock on surrounding ranches and although he is lovable, he is wearing out his welcome with local ranchers. The woman who originally owned the dog wouldn't take him back. The rancher who paid his vet bills when he tangled with a donkey couldn't keep him. He was desperate to find a stock dog home for this sweet dog.
(Don't mess with donkeys!)
"He'll soon get hit by a car," said the rancher.
The town Fire Chief said, "He's gonna die of lead poisoning."
Other Half looked at me . . .
The rancher looked at me . . .
Cowdog looked at me . . .
So now Other Half has his own Border Collie.
Sunday, 11 April 2010
Today I have some questions for you!
I'm slowly being dragged into the high-tech world and am learning to use Facebook. I've set up a Facebook account for Farm Fresh Forensics, but I still have to learn how to put a button on the website so readers can find it and link to Facebook. Do you guys use Facebook?
And Twitter? How many of y'all actually use Twitter? It seems that the whole world is tweeting and I'm clueless about it.
I'm on Day 6 with NO FRAPPUCCINO!!! Can you believe it? After over 13 years of drinking little bottles of Starbuck's Mocha Frappuccino like a crack addict, I'm finally kicking the habit! Other Half and Son added it up. Last year alone, I spent over $1600 on my frappuccino habit! Eegaads! It had to stop. Do you know how many cattle panels I could have purchased for $1600!!! Do you know how many sheep I could have purchased for $1600!!! At 180 calories each, with 2-3 per day, do you know how many calories that is???? Heck! I can lose weight without doing a thing but quitting frapps!!!!
(I am happy to report that my friends and family are no longer hiding under the bed because of caffeine withdrawal problems. Although I did note that Other Half worked several 12 hours shifts this week. . .)
New Addition Arrived Yesterday!
The new Angus bull arrived yesterday. He is just a baby, but what a Chunky Monkey! He's a short little dude too, but when bred to the maiden heifers, we should have no calving problems. Little calves that gain weight fast works for me! When this dude ambles across the pasture, he has so much muscle I start to drool. All that muscle on grass - YES!
Other Half started calling him "Bully" but I think we should call him something like Angus McBull. Other Half doesn't get creative in the name department.
"It's a bull. Call him Bully." "It's yellow. Call her Yellow Cow." "The horse is big, brown, and fat, call him "Bear."
On the other hand, perhaps I get a tad too creative in the naming department. I name everything. I even name the goldfish in the stock tank. Larry, Darryl, & Darryl. (Those of you over the age of 40 might get this. For the rest of you, google The Bob Newhart Show. On second thought, nevermind, it's not important. It's just another example of the direction my twisted mind goes sometimes.)
Saturday, 10 April 2010
Spring is finally here.
The wildflowers are blooming.
The sheep are blowing coat.
Bits and pieces of wool are everywhere.
This leads us to our Useless Factoid for the day . . . .
When dogs eat wool . . .
. . . they poop out felt.
(I know. You could have gone a whole lifetime without knowing that particular bit of information.)
Thursday, 08 April 2010
It's tax season and we're skating in under the wire again. Tax time wouldn't be complete without boxes of crumpled receipts. Eegaaads! It never fails to boggle my mind when we add up exactly how much we spend on feed, fencing, and vet bills!
"Can we deduct this?"
"Where's the receipt for that?"
"Can we claim Border Collie as a dependent?"
This spawned an entire debate. It appears that according to the tax man, Border Collie is a "SUPPLY." Excuse me? How can she be a "SUPPLY?" Border Collie is, at the very LEAST, skilled labor and could be considered a "CUSTOM HIRE," but how can such a talented Top Hand ever be considered a "SUPPLY?"
I was embarrassed for her. This was clearly discrimination.
"I am NOT a "SUPPLY!"
Wednesday, 07 April 2010
Other Half said, "Let me know when it's safe to come home."
Fergus, my buddy at work, said, "Again?"
But I am determined! This will be the time - the time I quit!
I greeted the morning with no caffeine. The sun isn't as bright without caffeine, but I trudged onward. Turned the ewes out in the front yard. (cuz I don't want to mow or fight the poison ivy!) That required walking them out the barn, through the driveway paddock, and into the fenced front yard paddock. It was windy. They felt good. Lush Spring grass was EVERYWHERE! They were very ill-mannered sheep. Border Collie earned her Scooby snacks today. I threatened to sell them on Craigslist but they laughed at me and galloped off. Border Collie brought them back. (HAH!)
Locked sheep in the front yard. Fed the horses. Took dogs for a walk. Briar, the Livestock Guardian Dog puppy, spotted a group of white cranes in the pasture - trespassing. She took off. They flew off. I was slightly amused until she blasted through the barbed wire fence to continue the chase. Technically, they were still in her air space, and thus, still trespassing. She chased them all the way across the back pasture. I began to see the writing on the wall. She was determined to catch the Big White Chickens, but was now so far away, that in the blowing wind, I'm not sure she could even hear me calling her. A couple more fences and she could end up on the highway. That's when a tawny streak left my side to race across the pasture.
Kona, The Enforcer, runs a tight ship. He quickly assessed the situation and decided that his particular brand of justice was called for. He covered a tremendous amount of ground in a very short time and intercepted the giant puppy as she was hitting her second barbed wire fence. It wasn't pretty.
Briar was freight-trained. She got up and spit the dirt out of her mouth. The Enforcer started to trot back home. He looked back to make sure she was coming. She was. Slowly, but she was coming.
Disaster avoided, but I needed a drink. I needed some caffeine. Unfortunately the day was still young.
Gertie, the black banty hen who, along with Remus, the banty rooster, were survivors of the Great Boogey Beast War (that we lost) a few months ago. Gertie and Remus were turned loose to survive on the farm and hope for the best. It came to my attention that Gertie was missing. Since I hadn't found a body, I figured she must be sitting on eggs somewhere. I hunted for that nest. No luck. Yesterday my mother reported that Gertie had popped her head out to eat and drink and then flew back to the barn. So I searched the barn again. No luck.
While I was feeding the goats, Blue Heeler came trotting out of the garage shed with Gertie in his mouth. I screamed at him. He dropped her. Too late. She was already in death twitches. I was pissed. Much to The Enforcer's delight, I cussed out Blue Heeler. That's when Bloodhound walked past with an egg. Then Black Wolf walked past with another egg. Then Briar walked past with an egg too. Damn!
I went to find the nest that I couldn't find before, and sure enough, there were eleven tiny eggs. Damn! Damn! Damn! The Enforcer came up with Gertie's body in his mouth to remind me that I hadn't finished cussing out Blue Heeler and could resume that at any time as far as he was concerned.
Just then, I heard Fate laughing at me. As I threw the dead chicken out, visions of little glass bottles of mocha frappuccino danced in my head. Determined to kick the caffeine habit, I pushed the vision aside and stomped back to the house. Blue Heeler wisely stayed out of my way. Bloodhound continued to eat eggs. (She is definitely staying outside tonight!)
Border Collie studied me carefully. Something was obviously wrong, but she couldn't put her paw on it. Heaven help us if she ever figures out. She will have a cold Starbuck's Mocha Frappuccino by my bedside every morning. Border Collies are just that way. They like Order in their world. And if it takes a Starbuck's Mocha Frappuccino to bring Order to her little world, well then so be it.
Tuesday, 06 April 2010
What's in a name?
Being a ranch dog involves a lot of work and a lot of waiting in the truck, but there are perks to being a ranch dog.
Border Collie and Blue Heeler are best friends,
buddies . . .
who share . . .
most of the time.
"HEY! Wait one damned minute, MISTER!!!"
There's a reason they call them "bitches."
Monday, 05 April 2010
This is how it started -
- two cow men hanging over the fence, cussing and discussing feral hogs that tear up the pastures.
These hogs grow enormous, have large litters, and can do a number on a hay field. So Other Half and Rancher-Next-Door hashed out a plan. A hog trap was set. Bright and early on Easter morning the phone rang. Two wild (and very angry) piglets had been captured. Suddenly our Easter plans changed. Since Rancher-Next-Door had Easter plans that didn't involve butchering hogs, we got both hogs. We called Dear-Friend-With-Vet-Husband and said, "HEY! We know you probably had plans for Easter, but wouldn't like to butcher hogs instead?!!" Fortunately they both were delighted with the prospect of filling the freezer with the ultimate free-range grass-fed pork, so a Pig Party was planned.
Other Half went to the trap to shoot and gut the pigs. I opted out of this step since I had to feed livestock and frankly, I didn't want to watch him shoot the pigs. Because I have the remarkable ability to make a pet out of anything with fur or feathers, Other Half was happy to leave me home and go shoot them himself.
By the time the rest of us convened under the Hanging Oak, Other Half already had a piglet the size of a German Shepherd hanging from the tree. Border Collie saw the pig and stroked. This was her first hog butchering and after the initial shock of seeing a dead pig swinging from a tree, she involved herself in every step possible. It is a wonder that she didn't get her nose cut off. (Note: A ranch dog WILL attack a dead pig.)
It didn't take Border Collie long to get into the swing of things though! In no time, she had figured out what to do with feral hogs who tear up hay fields.
"Stay out of the pasture PIG!"
(Note the pork hanging from her teeth.)
Friday, 02 April 2010
I stand before you and admit it. I have a drinking problem.
If I were able to knock the Starbuck's Mocha Frappuccino out of my life, I'd lose 10 lbs right off the bat. Of course, considering the fact that it has enough caffeine in it to ride your bicycle to Dallas, giving up frapps would undoubtedly cause me to become a Bitchy Bear and I'd probably knock a lot of other things in my life too.
I've tried to quit. I've tried coffee. I've tried coffee beans. Nothing has worked. Fate seems to have a way of knowing when I'm planning to cut back on the frapps. There is a basic law of Physics that says "For Every Action, There Is An Equal And Opposite Reaction." That law applies EVERY time I try to give up frapps.
Since I haven't been to the grocery store in some time, I've been forced to buy my precious Nectar of the Gods from the local gas station where they cost an arm and a leg. Would someone PLEASE shut those damned sheep up!!!!! (Pardon me, we are weaning sheep and a week of screaming is wearing me down!) Anyway, back to the story . . . Last night I bought two frapps on my way home so that I'd have them when I woke up. (Yes, as I have already admitted, I have a drinking problem.)
As I crawled in bed, I told myself that today would be a good day for cutting back on the frapps. I heard Fate laugh at me as I fell asleep. True to form, this is how my day unfolded:
Am jolted awake by smell of cat piss. Yes! I said it! Not cat urine! Cat PISS! Anyone who has been awakened by that smell in their bedroom will tell you, it's CAT PISS! (Would someone PLEASE SHUT UP THOSE DAMNED SHEEP!!!!) Leap out of bed to investigate odor. Two cats point at a third who is slinking out of the bedroom. Ice, The Black Wolf, is beside herself. Egads!!! A cat has pissed in her dog bed! (That's a hanging offense in this house!) I look at it and several thoughts race through my mind:
* Other Half is going to have a fit when he sees this.
Put the dogs outside. Ice continues to bitch about the fact that a cat has pissed in her dog bed. Note that one of the cats has thrown up in the hallway. Give silent thanks that I didn't step in it. Give serious consideration to throwing ALL cats outside. Remember that I have done that before and they learned to use the doggy door. Decide that no important issues should be tackled until I have a frapp. Note that sheep are quiet. 'Bout damned time! Weaning must be going well. Get frapp and head outside.
No baby goats were born last night. Dolly is about to pop and Eva doesn't look too far behind her. Dolly is waiting for a cold, icy night after I have come home from working a double murder in the rain before she has her babies. Since Spring has sprung, she will have to satisfy herself with waiting until I come home from an all night stinker to have birthing complications while the vet is out of town. Coming home on time to two or three healthy kids is probably not in the cards for me. I accept this, and that is why I have a drinking problem.
Feed goats and head to main barn. Happen to notice that a ewe is with the weaned lambs. How did THAT happen? Remember that two days ago I placed young Boer Buck Amos with the weaned rams. Decide that somehow AMOS is to blame. After all, Amos is a goat, and somehow, some way, most headaches on the farm can be traced back to goats.
Get inside barn and note that ALL the sheep are now back together. They are happy. Amos is a goat among sheep, a Stranger In a Foreign Land. He advises me that he wishes to be returned to the goat herd now. I inform him that he is now part of the Bachelor Scene and will remain with the young rams. Amos informs me that if he is not returned to the goat herd then he will teach the rams how to escape their prison and continue to cause further mayhem. I inform Amos that Boer Bucks are easy to find and he will end up in a tortilla if he does not behave. He informs me that he has been wrongly accused and that in actuality, Hulk the Ram opened the gate and let the ewes back in with the lambs. Uh huh.
Manage to sort ewes and lambs again. The screaming commences as soon as they finish breakfast. Loud screaming. Very loud screaming. Threaten to sell every one of them on Craigslist. Walk in house and get another frappuccino.
And that, Friends and Neighbors, is why I have a drinking problem.