Saturday, April 18, 2015

Morning ramblings

Finally it's the time of year when I can stroll around the yard at sunup with coffee in hand and enjoy the morning:  Birds singing, beautiful sunrise, the garden coming alive, apple blossoms turning into baby apples, calves kicking up their heels.  The garden is perfect, because in late April, whose garden isn't perfect?  Weeds haven't had a chance to take over, and if a few of them creep in at this point, a tiller run between the rows takes care of them nicely.  Even with arthritic knees, the tiller is no problem for me to operate.  It doesn't have to be pushed, only guided gently, so I can almost use it as support while I'm letting it do its thing.

Note:  Possible frost warning Tuesday, according to a local weather-guesser.  Picture me outside one evening next week throwing blankets, rugs, and buckets over my tomatoes, sweet corn, and green beans.

We had the strangest thing happen yesterday on the way home from a swap-meet with the baby we care for.  Cora is a healthy, happy child and loves to go places where she can interact with people, so we had no qualms about taking her along.  She had a slight case of the sniffles, but was her usual happy self.  At the swap meet I bought some bedding plants, including some marigolds and salvia in bloom.  The trunk was full because we bought a sand-box, and the back seat was full, what with Cora's car seat and stroller.  I put the bedding plants at my feet.  It was a lovely warm day, so when we got in the car to go home, Cliff turned on the air conditioner.  Cora went to sleep in her car seat.

A few miles down the road, Cora woke up coughing, unable to draw a good breath.  It was exactly like an asthma attack, but she has never had signs of asthma.  She got choked and even vomited a little.  No sign of a fever, but she was really looking panicky.  So were Cliff and I!

Once we got home and got her out of the car seat and in the house, she began to settle down, letting us rock her and cuddle her.  Within 45 minutes, she was her happy little self with no problem other than the sniffles she began the day with.  

We have decided that she must have an allergy to marigolds or salvia blooms:  The A/C was on, the flowers were on the floor with pollen being re-circulated throughout the closed-up car by the air conditioner... that is the only explanation we can come up with.  Never again will we transport flowers in a closed car if that little girl is with us.  

And now, on to bovine matters.

For quite a while, because of Gracie-the-cow's battered udder, I hand-milked her twice daily and bucket-fed her milk to the the two baby calves she had been nursing.  You may recall from previous posts, Henry-the-calf has an under-bite, so his teeth had cut Gracie's udder as he nursed.  Before all this happened,  I turned Grace in with the calves twice a day and they would take all her milk.  Then her udder was cut and she started kicking at them.  

After being hand-milked for two or three weeks, Gracie has decided she prefers the kind, gentle hands of a human to the butting and sucking of calves that aren't related to her.  Even though I am weaning Henry, the original culprit, she will not willingly allow calves to nurse her now.  I replaced Henry with a Holstein from Heins Dairy because Grace gives too much milk for one calf, and I wanted calves to save me from milking the cow, and now she isn't on board with my plans.    However!  If I put her head in the stanchion and put the anti-kicking device on her, the calves can still do my milking for me.  So while I'm stuck at home to milk twice a day (my fault for buying baby calves that grow up to be milk cows, just because I like Jerseys), at least I can be an observer rather than a milker.  

To compound the matter, Penny-the-Jersey-cow is now a heavy springer... that's what real farmers call a cow that's going to have a calf very soon.  Since I overpriced her on Craigslist, nobody bought her, and I will soon have another dairy cow to milk, one that, from the looks of her udder, is going to give a LOT of milk.  As soon as she calves (in a couple of weeks), I intend to buy another Holstein baby to put with her calf.  I'm sure under those circumstances she will accept the foster calf as her own (or I will force her to) and I will be, once again, the observer rather than the milker.  Cliff consoles me with this statement:  "Well, at least her calf will be worth at least $500 when it hits the ground."  

All this because to me, Jerseys are like potato chips:  You can't stop at just one.  


Monday, April 13, 2015

Living with insomnia (and morning thoughts)

Once upon a time, it bothered me to wake up in the night and be unable to go back to sleep.  The minutes seemed like hours.  There always seemed to be something to be worrying about as I lay there awake and bored, and that seemed to compound the problem.    

I still lie awake for major portions of every night, but worries don't bother me any more.  Oh, last summer when the grandson was trying to get the old house remodeled, I'd wake up and get to worrying about one thing or another; but now I'm back to normal.  There are things I could let bother me in the lives of those around me, but I've learned to leave everybody else's problems alone and let them deal with them; my worrying won't change things anyhow.  These days if I find myself obsessing about something that's none of my business, I have learned to turn my mind in another direction.  In my old age, my mind performs perfect, legal u-turns.

Funny thing is, time doesn't even seem to drag when I'm awake in the night, the way it used to.  I've laid awake for a couple hours at a time, glanced at the clock occasionally, and not let the time bother me.  

Another funny thing:  No matter how little I sleep, by the time I've been up and around for a couple of hours, I don't feel any worse for the lack of sleep.  

So I lay awake from 1:30 until 4 o'clock this morning, and it honestly didn't seem like more than half an hour.  I fooled with the IPad for a while, but mostly I just lay there thinking how pleasant it is to lie in bed and listen to the rain coming down steadily.  I often take a deep breath and think what a gift it is to be able to breath deeply:  I have in-laws with asthma who can't get a truly deep breath, no matter how they try.

I often thank God that my knees don't hurt when I'm lying in bed, because I've heard lots of people say that's when their knees bother them a lot.  I do know the feeling, because before I had the meniscus repairs several years ago, I couldn't straighten out my knees when I was lying down.  It was awful!  

Friday night and Saturday nights I slept for over eight hours, only getting up once each night for the bathroom.  I wish I knew what caused the deep sleep, because I haven't slept so well in years!  Last night, I was back to normal, which is OK.  If that's the worst problem I ever have, I'm in good shape.


We are without Cora, as she is still with her grandma in Iowa.  I'm not sure when she'll be back, but Cliff and I will surely be ready for her.  She will have learned all kinds of new tricks and will be saying new words.  It's so cute to hear her saying things in her own toddler way:  "Go-yee" for girl and "mo-yee" for more.  I have ordered her a new "Little People" toy to be delivered to the nearest Walmart, and we will be anxious to see how she likes that when she returns; it will fit right in with the "little people" farm she already has here.  

That child has certainly given us something to look forward to.  



The grandson found out where the cows have been getting out at the back of the place and took a picture.  A tree has fallen on the fence.  This happens fairly often, as one would expect when the fence runs right through the woods.  


He also found this little gray morel while he was in the woods.  It's early yet; nobody has found huge quantities of them.