Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Dogs, calves, and coats

Next Tuesday our yearling Holstein steers will be butchered, one for the oldest grandson and his wife (they've paid for theirs, including all expenses), and one for us.  We intended to get a couple of new ones a month or so ago from the dairy at Higginsville, but the guy had some big orders for his bull calves and put us on hold.  Yesterday I got a call from the guy saying they had five bull calves available, and to come and pick out the ones we wanted.  Cliff already had a pen ready for them, and a calf hutch loaded on the trailer in which to haul them home.  So away we went.  I doubt if we'll need meat a year from now when they go to the butcher, but we have family members who will gladly buy ground beef from us, a pound or two at a time; I hated to raise one calf alone because cattle are herd animals, and aren't as happy alone.

As we were getting ready to leave the house, I asked Cliff what he thought about taking Gabe.  He suggested I take a leash for when we got there to our destination.  Gabe gladly jumped in the car and seemed to enjoy the ride.  The wind was awful yesterday, by the way, to the extent that Cliff had trouble keeping the car where it belonged.  When we got to the dairy, I chose my two calves, we paid for them, loaded them, and headed home.

On the way back, Gabe was on my lap doing well until we were almost home and he began retching.  Oh boy!  Knowing what was coming, I held him with his head in the middle of my lap and watched him puke up his noon meal, making a sizable pile.  At least my new winter coat is quite voluminous.  I folded some of it over the pile of puke, and when we got home, I took off the coat, shaking the puke off on the ground.  When the calves were unloaded the coat was tossed in the washing machine.  I had planned on being able to take Gabe on short trips with us eventually; let's home he outgrows the carsickness.  

This morning the freshly washed coat got so much milk replacer dripped down it from my teaching the calves to suck a bottle, I had to wash it again.  More about the coat later.

Gabe at work keeping the calf pen clean
One of the calves needed a pill, as his bowels were watery; I withheld his milk replacer and gave him electrolytes instead.  This morning he was much improved and got his milk.  Gabe with out with me at 4:30 AM to feed them and discovered how tasty newborn calf poop is.  He'd had so much of it by noon that he didn't even touch his dog food.  No matter what fancy kind of dog you might have, if he's turned loose in the country he will eat any sort of poop he runs across and roll in whatever dead animal he finds, and he'll live to tell about it.  As much as I wish Gabe wouldn't behave like this, I'm not going to keep him trapped inside all the time.  If I'm outside, he can go with me unleashed.  Today every time he's gone out, he has headed straight for the pen where the new calves are.   A while ago he was on my lap... he smelled like carrion.  Ugh.  He's going to be getting a bath pretty soon, and then he'll be on a leash for the rest of the day.  Tomorrow, he'll no doubt stink again.

Now, about the coat.  Back when we walked in cold weather, I bought a marked-down coat online from Target for under $30.  It was called a "puffer coat" and was one of the warmest coats I ever owned.  It replaced Carhartt coveralls as my cold-weather protection when doing chores or going for walks.  It finally wore out last winter and was thrown away.  Since we're not taking walks any more, and don't have a lot of chores, there was no need to replace it.  

However, after Gabe came to live here, I was spending quite a bit of time taking him out.  Then we started talking about getting a couple more bottle calves.  Feeding calves can be pretty cold business in January.  I searched online and finally found just the coat.  It's hideous, but it's even warmer than my old one was.  It reaches to my ankles.  I absolutely love it.  Since I never claimed to be fashionable, you get to see how I look in my big, roomy, warm-as-toast coat.  It won't be leaving the property for the most part, because it's my at-home chore coat.  And hey, the Muck boots match it.  

Apparently Cliff's going to leave his retirement banner (on the wall above me) hanging in the shop forever.  

The dog needs a bath, so I'm off.


Monday, December 11, 2017

Cats can change your world

 While I was in Napoleon getting a haircut Thursday, the hairdresser told me a sweet little story I'm going to share.  I'm paraphrasing, and may get some small detail wrong, but you will get the idea.  All wives and daughters will relate to this story.  

The lady's seven-year-old daughter spotted a stray kitten behind a dumpster at a gas station and fell in love with it.  The mother reluctantly said they could keep it, but not until the vet looked at it.  Well, the vet told them the cat was full of internal parasites; my hairdresser said, "I was not taking that cat home without knowing it was free of problems," so she boarded the cat with the vet for a week while he treated it.  When mother and daughter went home they broke the news to the husband, who has never liked cats.  He was adamant:  No cats in the house, period!  It was NOT coming into his home.  This went on for a few days while the cat was with the vet.  

"You mean he turned his sweet little girl down when she pleaded with him?"  I asked.  Yep.  He did.  

Finally, while the deadline approached for going after the cat, the girl went to her father and said, "You won't even give me a chance to show you I will take care of it!  If you give me a chance, I'll prove to you I can!"  By the way, this was during Girl Scout Week, and the child then told her dad, "It's the Girl Scout thing to do!"  There were more words from both of them, and they slammed outside through separate doors.  

Mom, listening from the other room and staying out of things, then heard a knock on the front door.  Her father-in-law, who had obviously heard some of the not-so-quiet confrontation, asked where his son was; she pointed toward a door, and out he went.  

Perhaps he put in a good word for his granddaughter, because when all was said and done, the cat was allowed to come home.  "And is she taking care of her cat like she promised?" I asked.  "Oh yes," she answered.  "She even cleans the litter-box every day without being reminded."

"How does your husband feel about the cat?"

"He's fine with it now.  And you know, I never had any idea how easy cats are to take care of!"

And they all lived happily ever after.

I hope you, my reader, have a happy ending to your day.