Thursday, November 29, 2012

Turkeys, turkeys everywhere

I am in the process of boiling my third turkey skeleton in three weeks.  It is being boiled for ninety minutes, with onions, garlic, and celery added.  When it's done and has cooled off enough for me to handle, I will spend a half-hour more picking the tidbits of meat off the bones and discarding the bones and skin.  I always get at least two cups of meat off the bones that most people would throw away.  
Once I strain the broth and have collected the meat, I put the meat in the broth and either make soup right then, or freeze it for later.  Today's batch will go in the freezer; once you have this part done, it's an easy matter to make turkey soup on some future day when you want a quick meal:  Just set it on a burner to thaw and heat up, chop a few veggies, toss in some seasonings and cook for thirty minutes, and viola! it's done.  
This particular turkey carcass was given to me by my ex-daughter-in-law.  A couple of weeks ago, a local friend I used to work with drove over with what was left of a turkey she cooked.  Yes, friends and neighbors, I have been known to take donations.  
I made soup from our Thanksgiving turkey on Tuesday, the day I was so worn out from trudging over hill and dale checking on the cow and her calf.  It was the easiest thing I could think of, since the broth was all prepared in the freezer.  I made such a big batch, I sent half of it to my daughter's family; Cliff and I ate it for two days straight.  
I have shared my Better Homes and Gardens recipe before, but here it is again.  The three vegetables I use are carrots, onion, and celery, because they are ones I always have on hand.  I add the meat to the broth at the same time I put in the veggies, although the recipe says to add it last.  After all, it boiled for an hour and a half earlier, so what is another half-hour going to hurt?


  • 1
    meaty turkey frame
  • 8
    cups water
  • 1
    large onion, quartered
  • 1/2
    teaspoon garlic salt
  • Chopped cooked turkey, optional
  • 1
    16 ounce can tomatoes, cut up
  • 1
    tablespoon instant chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 1/2
    teaspoons dried oregano, basil, marjoram, or thyme, crushed
  • 1/4
    teaspoon pepper
  • 3
    cups (any combination) sliced celery, carrots, parsnips, or mushrooms; chopped onion or rutabagas; or broccoli or cauliflower flowerets
  • 1 1/2
    cups medium noodles
    1.Break turkey frame or cut in half with kitchen shears. Place in a large Dutch oven or kettle. Add water, onion, and garlic salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
    2.Remove turkey frame. When cool enough to handle, cut meat off bones; coarsely chop. If desired, add more cooked turkey meat (enough to equal about 2 cups total). Set meat aside. Discard bones.
    3.Strain broth; discard solids. Return broth to Dutch oven. Stir in undrained tomatoes, bouillon granules, herb, and pepper. Stir in vegetables. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover; simmer for 15 minutes.
    4.Stir in noodles. Cover and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes more or until noodles are done and vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in cooked turkey; heat through. Serve immediately. Makes 6 main-dish servings.
    Make-Ahead Tip::
    5.For individual servings, prepare soup and freeze in 1-1/2-cup freezer containers, leaving a half-inch head space. Seal, label, and freeze up to 1 month. To serve, transfer 1 portion of frozen mixture to a small saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
    nutrition facts (Turkey Frame Soup)
    • Servings Per Recipe 6,
    • cal. (kcal) 260,
    • Fat, total (g) 6,
    • chol. (mg) 75,
    • sat. fat (g) 2,
    • carb. (g) 31,
    • fiber (g) 3,
    • pro. (g) 20,
    • vit. A (RE) 93,
    • vit. C (mg) 17,
    • sodium (mg) 848,
    • calcium (mg) 81,
    • iron (mg) 4,
    • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baby pictures

About twenty-seven hours old

I decided to let George and Gracie get a feel for meeting other cattle face to face.  Obviously they are curious about the new baby.  

This afternoon I noticed Crystal was under the tongue of a farm implement.  

There wasn't room for her to stand up, so what on earth was she going to do if she tried?  

Isn't she pretty?


I lifted her front half over the bar, then her back half.  Did I get any appreciation?  Of course not.  She went running away to her mom as fast as she could.

Adventures with cows

Cliff had been telling me for a few days that I should put pregnant Bonnie in the big lot, here by the house, to have her calf.  I wish I had listened, but it gets so complicated.  
Adam, the guy who keeps his horses here, needs to be able to get the horses in the lot to feed them and work with them.  However, you can't have the horses in a limited space with a cow with a new calf because horses are ornery.  They have fun chasing the cows away from their personal space.  It really doesn't hurt anything as long as we are talking about older, experienced cows.  But a cow having a calf doesn't need that sort of aggravation.  So a choice must be made:  Keep Adam's horses out of the lot where he can't catch them, or let the cow have her calf wherever she wants.  
Bonnie chose to have her calf practically against the fence on our east property line, on a hill.  There was no sharp drop-off there, but as with ninety percent of our property, there was a steep incline... on three sides of the cow.  It was obvious the calf would end up going down a hill; when I went back there with towels to dry her off, I dragged her a few feet by her hind legs to a spot where I hoped she would roll down into a nice, sheltered valley when she started trying to get up.  
When Cliff got out of bed, I told him I was going to check on the calf again.  I took my cell phone, just in case.  
I'm pretty sure my regular readers would be disappointed if I ever had a calf that did not end up in a canyon, right?  
Yes, the calf ended up in a canyon... on the neighbor's property.  Somehow she rolled down a hill and under a barbed wire fence, and there she lay, shivering and wet in seventeen-degree weather, as her mother mooed plaintively from the top of the hill on the other side of the fence.  I called Cliff, who came with halter and rope in hand, and the two of us got the calf back on our property.  We left her with her mother in a low spot where they stayed until sometime after noon.  At three P.M. when I went to check on them, they were gone without a trace.  I found them running for the back of the property and somehow managed to get them turned around and headed for the barn.  Let me tell you, that twelve-hour-old calf must be half racehorse.  Maybe she figures with all she has been through, it's best to run from humans who drag you here and there through brush and dirt against your will.  
Another thing:  I am always leery of bulls.  Even though Red, our bull, is a youngster and has given me no cause to be scared of him, I have always given him a wide berth.  Yesterday morning at 4:30 A.M. I took sort of a shortcut back to the house, through some brush.  It was dark, but there was a full moon.  I didn't turn on the flashlight.  As I broke out of the brush, I almost stepped on the bull, who was laying down chewing his cud until I appeared beside him, at which time he jumped up as fast as a jackrabbit.  I don't know which if us was more scared.  
Later on in the day I went to check on cow and calf and found the bull nosing around, sniffing to see if perhaps the cow was coming in heat yet and examining the baby (no doubt thanking his lucky stars for another heifer).  
I was so tired and grouchy from all the trips back and forth, uphill and down, that I didn't stop to think about my fear of the bull.  I picked up a dead tree-branch, flung it at him, and yelled, "Get outta here!"  
He left.  Two different times yesterday evening I passed by him yelling the same words, and he scooted away hastily.  I guess I have earned his respect.  Don't worry, I won't be taking any foolish chances.  But it's nice to have his respect.  
Be sure and stay tuned, because in two or three days we will be turning Bonnie out with her calf, and there will be numerous chances for Crystal to end up in a canyon again.  I only hope she lands on our property next time.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


One of the problems I had yesterday as I was cow-watching was Jody, the bred heifer I raised on the bottle.  To say she is spoiled would be an understatement.  So each time I followed Bonnie to a new location and made myself comfortable, Jody would get in my face, trying to lick me, my hat, my coat... just to show her affection, I suppose.  Look closely at that tongue and you will see why I didn't want it on my face.  It's rough!  

This is Crystal trying to stand for the first time.  That rough tongue can come in handy when a mother cow uses it on a calf.  Very stimulating, to say the least.  

 Here she is finally standing.  I wanted to make sure she got some of Mama's milk in her belly early on, so I came to the house and got the calf bottle and a travel coffee mug and filled them both with hot water so they would be warm when the milk went into them.  I emptied the hot water out of the mug and milked about two cups of colostrum (the first milk) into it, then dumped the hot water out of the calf bottle and put the colostrum in it.  Crystal eagerly sucked it down in about thirty seconds.  This gave her renewed energy and she went all around Bonnie for awhile looking for a teat.  
Bonnie has gotten rid of the afterbirth but is still laying down straining often.  If that doesn't stop by tomorrow morning, we will have to call the vet and see what's wrong.  She'll probably be fine.

 Crystal went walking for awhile.  As you can see, Red the Bull made a nuisance of himself by being in a place where he had no business being.  I finally threw a tree branch at him and he left.    Notice the long legs on that calf!  I blame her daddy for that, because look at her two-month-old half-sister, Annie.

Actually, those long legs are a good thing.  These heifers will be nice tall cows.  

It's a girl (finally)

Yesterday I spent a lot of time walking out in the pasture, checking on Bonnie.  She seemed to be staying in hiding.  She was holding her tail up most of the time, and those two sunken-in places by her tail-head were evident.  Her udder was so full and tight she could hardly walk.  We knew she was going to calve before too long.  

She changed locations from time to time.  

When she moved, I followed.  

As the sun set, Bonnie was showing more signs that there would be a calf soon.  I went to the house, got a flashlight, and went back to wait.  But it was cold, and I finally gave up watching.  I hated to do that, because we were in for our coldest night yet, and a calf's ears and tail can freeze if they don't get dried off pretty quickly.  

I woke up this morning at 3:30 and couldn't go back to sleep, so at 4 A.M. I bundled up and went to see the calf.  I knew it would be there, and I figured Mama would have it all licked dry.  
Obviously, she had just had it before I arrived.  I am so glad I went on to bed at 10 P.M. last night, because it would have been useless to have stayed out in the cold.  Of course, since the calf was just-born and soaking wet, that meant a long walk back to the house for towels so I could help get it dried off.  It was 17 degrees.  

Now that I have so many cows that I really didn't care whether Bonnie had a girl or not, she gave me a girl.  This would be a good one to keep, though, with the beef characteristics of a Hereford combined with extra milk that the Jersey genes would give her.  She won't give as much milk as her mama, but she would give enough extra to raise a fine, big calf; being half Hereford, it would be a beefy calf if she were bred to a beef breed.  I wonder if I could find someone who would want such a cow?    
Oh, her name?  I believe she will be Crystal, as in ice crystals, although that isn't set in stone yet.  

I told Cliff last night that I wouldn't be taking a walk today.  My knees, both the real one and the artificial one, ache from all the walking yesterday and this morning.  I'm pretty sure my orthopedist wouldn't approve of all my shenanigans around here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The last of the Thanksgiving leftovers

Yesterday I declared that most of the leftovers had reached their expiration date and got rid of them.  The one thing I kept was the mashed potatoes, because I knew they would be just fine for one more day.
I used them to make potato patties.  I can't even tell you how good they were.  Not healthy, mind you.  But good.  VERY good.  If you've never made potato patties using leftover mashed potatoes, you are missing out on one of life's greatest pleasures.

I had three cups of mashed potatoes from Thanksgiving dinner.  
I added two beaten eggs, one-half cup of self-rising flour (you could use 1/2 cup regular flour mixed with 1/2 teaspoon baking powder), pepper, and 1/3 cup of finely diced onions.  I shaped this into patties and fried in 1/2 inch of oil.  


I've had my nose in a book for the last couple of days.  Hence, the lack of blog postings.  
A while back Cliff and I were watching an episode of Modern Marvels entitled "The Butcher".  This was especially interesting to us because Cliff worked at the (long-since gone) Country Butcher Shop for twenty years.  The show started out with the history of butchering; during this part, a book was mentioned:  The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair, published in 1905.  
I knew that such an old book would be available free as a download; I found it online with no problem and began reading it.  I was on the third chapter when I googled a question about the book and found out there was another version, the original, the book as it existed before it was edited for publishing.  Some of the more stomach-turning details were taken out of it for the public.  Since I wanted all the dirty details, I paid ninety-nine cents and purchased that one.   
The book is melodramatic, I'll give you that.  But I haven't been able to put it down.  I am about three-fourths of the way through it and it is still holding my interest.  It is NOT for the squeamish.  I was reading it yesterday while eating my turkey salad sandwich and had to put down my Ipad for awhile.  And I have a strong stomach!  
Here's an excerpt from the forward of the book:  "The novel's graphic description of unsanitary conditions in the Chicago meatpacking industry and the brutal treatment of immigrant laborers came as a revelation to most Americans.  The resulting outcry soon became so great that President Teddy Roosevelt and Congress were forced to pass the first Pure Food and Drug laws in this country.  Some years later, Sinclair wrote about the amazing popularity of his book, saying, 'I aimed at the public's heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.'"
So, that's why I haven't done a blog entry since Friday.  

Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow wasn't with the herd this morning.  I found her in a secluded spot behind the pond.  I'm hoping this means she will have a calf before the day is over, but with Bonnie you never know until there is a calf actually making its appearance.  If this happens today, there will of course be a blog entry with pictures.  The calf will be a whiteface like her last two.  All three of her previous calves have been boys.  We'll see if she finally has a girl this time.  I haven't hovered over her as much as in the past, since she is no longer the only cow on the place and I have other cows and calves to distract me.  I imagine this is a relief to her, not having me stalking her constantly.       

Friday, November 23, 2012

Too much food

A lot of food is going to end up in the garbage today.  I wish I knew somebody with a pig, because a pig could eat for two days on the leftovers around here.  Chickens will eat any kind of human food too, but I only have three chickens, so they won't make much of a dent in the excess food around here.  
When I am cooking a meal for family, one of my fears is that we will run out of noodles or mashed potatoes before everybody has had all they want.  Yesterday I made about twice as much of everything as we really needed:  Rolls, mashed potatoes, noodles.  The rolls and noodles can be frozen for another day; not the potatoes.  I could make a lot of potato patties, but let's face it, that isn't the type of food Cliff and I need after pigging out all day yesterday.  
Thank goodness the turkey frame soup I will be making is nutritious, low-calorie, and low-fat.  
If I can remember at Thanksgiving next year, I think I will just make one dessert.  I really don't care what dessert it is, but this surplus is just ridiculous, and all it does is tempt Cliff to eat ten times as much as he should.   

I saw pictures on Facebook yesterday of my youngest granddaughter, Lyndsay, keeping company with some real live turkeys.  Later I went to Cliff Morrow's blog and read a turkey story from his childhood.  I have a few turkey stories of my own, having owned a few in my time.  One thing you need to know about turkeys:  If you start out with half-a-dozen baby turkeys, you will be lucky to end up with one adult.  Turkeys are not the brightest creatures God every placed on this earth.  When we lived on our first little play-farm around 1970, I had a male turkey that insisted on sexually assulting a male duck regularly.  True story.  
When my oldest two grandchildren were four and six years old and lived in Texas, they spent a couple of weeks with us.  I had two or three half-grown turkeys that had survived long enough to be fully feathered-out.  I let them roam freely during the day and shut them in at night.  Four-year-old Amber came inside from playing outside and said, "Grandma, one of your turkeys is swimming in the cow's water."  
What?  Turkeys can't swim!  I rushed out to the cattle's water tank to find a turkey drowning.  From the turkey's view on the ground, he assumed the tank was something with a solid top that he could roost on, flew up there, and found himself in a watery grave.  

The sole survivor of that particular group of turkeys became my mom's pet back when she was living in a mobile home on our place.  She would sit in a lawn chair outside and the turkey would hang out with her, chirping happily.  Unfortunately, that fellow met a terrible death in an accident involving tall weeds and Cliff sickle-mowing a pasture.  I haven't had a turkey on the place since, except for the wild ones that live in the woods.  
Tammy, the young lady in the picture above, is my cousin's daughter.  The picture was taken in 1991.  I was still milking cows then, and the cart in the background on the right has my bucket milkers loaded on it.  
That's Brandy, our mostly-Chow dog, on the left.  She lived to be quite old.  In the barn is the Allis Chalmers D-17 series IV tractor that was the workhorse around here for many years.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Facebook Thanksgiving

Samples of things posted on Facebook.  I enjoy all the greetings and funnies people post.

My personal favorite

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Ipad Mini

I received an email from a longtime reader wanting to know more about the Ipad Mini and what can be done with it.  
Well, since it is a tablet computer, it does pretty much everything any computer can do, within reason.  You can surf the Net and send and receive email.  That said, I would not want to give up my desktop.  Typing on any tablet can be slow and cumbersome. It's pretty much hunt-and-peck.  For some reason teenagers can send messages on phones and tablets at the speed of light, but not me.  
I have some music on my Ipad; I used to have my whole Itunes library on it, but they were taking up most of the 16 GB of space on the thing, and I realized I hardly ever listen to music on it.  Now I just have a select few songs.  If you plan to carry a lot of songs on your Ipad, you had better get a 32 GB.  Otherwise, 16 will probably be enough.  
If you get the wi-fi only version, no cellular, you'll save a hundred bucks.  I bought one with cellular because I enjoy having the Internet when I'm not at home.  Unlike a cell phone, you can buy a data plan for thirty days and then cancel if you don't think you'll be needing it for awhile.  You can read about the cellular model HERE.  
I can take pictures and videos with the Ipad.  I can talk to Siri.  Just today Siri told me where the nearest Applebees was, so I was able to use the $20 gift card I earned by taking surveys online.
I have books by the hundreds on my Ipad:  There are apps for Kindle, Nook, and Overdrive.  With Overdrive, I can visit my local library and check out e-books for two weeks at a time.  I used to be a big fan of the Nook e-reader mainly because I could get library books with it, whereas Kindle didn't allow me to do that.  All that has changed; Kindle also allows you to check out library books now.  In fact, I prefer Kindle now for the simple reason that every day there are dozens of free Kindle books listed at  Not all of them are great books, but you can check the customer reviews at and get an idea what's worth reading.   Freebies for Nook are few and far between.  The apps for Nook and Kindle are free, so you have the best of both worlds.  Honestly, I only use those for free books now; Overdrive is my favorite app for library books.        
You need to do some research, because other tablets may be just as good as the Ipad for all I know, and all of them are cheaper.  Some are MUCH cheaper.  I have no experience with them.  Thanks to the influence of a photographer in Kansas City, I was bitten by the Apple/Mac bug, and I can't seem to get over the disease; I only hope it isn't terminal.  Be very cautious or the same bug will bite you.  There's no rhyme or reason for it, it just happens, and the next thing you know you will be in the position of saying to your husband as he struggles with his Dell laptop, "I don't know how to help you; mine's a Mac, Baby!"  
There is a comparison of various tablets HERE.   
I hope this at least gives you some idea of what you can do with an Ipad or other tablet computer.  And thanks, Jan, for your email.   

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I received my new Ipad Mini yesterday; it took three days for it to get here from China.  Amazing!  The oldest grandson bought my old Ipad for $100, which is the amount Apple would have paid me for it.  I am enjoying my new toy immensely.  It does things my first generation model didn't do, so I am still learning.  I was a little worried at first because it doesn't "zoom in" the way my old one did, and since this one is smaller, I really need to be able to make some things bigger.  With the help of Google, I found out how to zoom the Mini, which took care of the only complaint I had.  
We are "on watch" here in the boonies:  Bonnie could calve any time, an event which is always eagerly anticipated.  She has only had boy babies in the past.  Will number four be her first heifer?  Also, we are watching Babe to see if she comes in heat, because if she doesn't, it means Shorty Red-the-bull got the job done three weeks ago.  So far, it's looking like the young bull somehow managed to climb Mount Everest, because both Babe and Red are only interested in eating hay.  If nothing happens in the next couple of days, we will assume she is bred and write her down on the calendar to have a calf August 8.   
This has been a year of amazing "miracles".  No, not genuine miracles I suppose, since no laws of nature were set aside.  Let's just say incredibly fortunate surprises, things I wouldn't even pray for because they seemed impossible, and I figured God's gonna do what God's gonna do anyway.  Wait, let's call these things unexpected blessings.
 There's grandson Arick's Great Dane, Titan... his dog, but we love him as though he were ours.  Last spring he developed a pronounced limp and the vet confirmed, with X-rays  what we feared:  Dysplasia.  This is a condition that supposedly never gets better on its own, and we all decided to enjoy him as long as he was able to have fun and then bid him goodbye.  Some of my readers told me they had dogs in the past that "got over it", but I was skeptical.  Today that Titan bounces and runs and makes a general nuisance of himself with his unbridled energy.  He has no limp at all.  
Speaking of limps, I was so sure my heifer, Jody, was going to get progressively worse and finally became unable to walk that I made an appointment for her to be butchered.  Cliff said give her a chance.  Today she has no limp.  
And then there is the accidental alfalfa.  We asked for clover seed at the MFA.  Cliff planted it as though it were clover seed.  When it came up, it was alfalfa; they had given us the wrong, much more expensive, seed, and it wasn't what we wanted.  As the drought this year progressed, clover in our pastures stopped growing and actually dried up.  The accidental alfalfa, because its roots go many feet down into the soil, kept growing and provided pasture for the cows all summer and hay for this winter.  We couldn't have planned it better if we had tried.    
Three things for which I am thankful during this Thanksgiving week.  Oh wait, the Ipad Mini... make that four things.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Of clothespins and Christmas cheer

I hang most of my laundered clothes outside on the clothesline these days.  I've seen a definite decrease in the amount of my electric bill, so even though it isn't my favorite task, I keep on doing it.  
On extremely windy days, I lose several clothespins and end up with some articles of clothing on the ground; this has sparked a few discussions between Cliff and me about how clothespins, like so many other things, were made better in the old days.  Cliff remembers having contests with his siblings to see which of them could stand having a clothespin clamped on a finger the longest.  Back then, a clothespin could pinch hard enough to hurt.  
This morning at the clothesline, I reached down into the basket and came up with an old clothespin.  I don't know why I still have one around, but there it was.  I took a picture of the old one beside a new one, just to show you how different they are: 
And that's why my clothes end up on the grass on a windy day.  

Now, on to Christmas cheer.  I admit to being somewhat of a Scrooge during the Christmas season.  We've never been loaded with extra funds.  As a newlywed, I stood back and looked at what was going on with my immediate side of the family, and here's what I saw:  Everybody had to get gifts for everybody else, nieces, nephews, brother, sister, mother and father.  I know there are very thoughtful people who can come up with economical gifts for anybody, but I'm not one.  When children are very small, they are easily satisfied; as they grow older, expectations are higher and it costs more to get them anything they really want.  For a few years Cliff and I bought gifts for all these people using a credit card, because we didn't have any extra money.  Finally we all agreed to just buy for our parents and the children in the family, which helped immensely.  Once my parents were gone and all the children were grown, gift-giving stopped on my side of the family.  
In Cliff's family, nobody bought gifts for anyone.  So we usually just bought something for his parents and let it go at that, which was really no problem as long as you got his mom "pretty towels or pretty dishes".  
I have a real problem with asking grandkids for a list of things they want, then choosing something off said list.  Where's the surprise in that?  
I have a problem giving them money, because I know from my own childhood that eventually you get to the point of expecting money.   
Cliff and I don't exchange gifts at Christmas.  No matter what time of year it is, if one of us says, "I sure would like to have (a tractor, a tool, a calf, some chickens), the other says, "Go get it!" 
These days we expect no gifts, nor do we give gifts.  I have told you people before that I'm peculiar.  Don't get me wrong, we have some charities we sometimes donate to, and we are always glad to help supply the local food pantry.  But we climbed off the gift-giving marathon years ago.  
Yesterday, out of the blue, someone I really don't know that well brought me a Christmas-y bag containing several delightful little gifts.  Nothing pricey, just some very thoughtful (and tasty) items.  I was totally blown away, because there was no reason for this person to give me anything.  She isn't obligated to me in any way.  For some reason, she just wanted to give me something. 
I was five years old again!  I remembered what Christmas felt like back when I still believed in Santa Claus, when Christmas was magical.  
So now, gentle readers, go give a gift to that person who least expects it.  You won't be sorry.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Little sucker

One problem I have often had with bottle calves is that they have a tendency to suck on one another's body parts.  Often they will suck their mates in the udder area, even though there is no udder there yet.  I've read that this can cause harm to the future udder, although I don't know how true it is.  I have always attempted to keep calves that suck on one another separated, hoping they will get over it eventually.
Calves that are raised at their mommy's side never show this kind of behavior for the simple reason that there are four lovely teats hanging down conveniently, twenty-four hours a day; when they feel the urge to suck on something, there they are.  The patient mother cow will gladly stand as long as it takes for her baby to get tired, even if the teats have been sucked dry for the time being.

One of my two-month-old calves is a little sucker; his pacifier of choice is Grace's ear.  I have been keeping them apart most of the time because of this; when I do finally turn them loose together, the first thing George goes for is that ear.  He has a fetish of sorts, and he will not be denied.  There are devices I could put on his nose that would keep him from nursing on an udder, but nothing that would prevent his sucking on an ear.

I'm tired of fighting it, and I really want these calves to spend more time together in the larger pen.  The only real harm that could come from his behavior is that if he did it when the temperature is zero, Gracie's soaking-wet ear could freeze.  I've decided to turn them out together during the day and see if he eventually gets tired of this practice.
When I uploaded this video to Youtube, I noticed a related video that you might find interesting:  Click HERE.

Friday, November 16, 2012

cows and stuff

First of all, let me share with you Photographer Remley's latest:  

He captioned it thusly: "Donna, Missouri Department of Conservation on line 1"

Two-month-old Gracie is growing well.  Almost every day I put a halter on her and work on getting her to lead.  She's a little uncooperative, but she'll eventually get the idea.  I lead her up and down the driveway and tie her up and brush her.  I really enjoy my babies.  George doesn't get all this attention, since he won't be here long.  He gets plenty to eat, but very little handling.  This way, I don't form such an attachment to him.    
I can tell that Gracie's whole face will be black when she's grown.  

When I led her through the barn, I let her try out the stanchion.  I threw in a handful of sweet feed, and that's all it took.  I like to get dairy heifers used to being handled early on so that milking them won't be a problem when they're grown.  

I still keep looking at Craigslist and get tempted by the baby heifers for sale:
For only $175, this beauty could be mine.  Same folks I bought the last two from.  No, it isn't going to happen.  I already have too many; by next spring I will have to make a decision about who stays and who goes.    
A trader was here the other day and asked how much I would take for George.  I told him how much I gave for him and he couldn't believe I would pay that much for a bottle calf.  I told him, "You must go to sale barns, right?" 
Yes, he answered.  
"I can't go to sale barns, so I pay what I have to."
"Well then, how much would you take for the heifer?"  
"She isn't for sale."  
Sheesh.  As if he would be willing to pay a decent price anyway.

I don't care much for smart-aleck, know-it-all traders.  

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Update on Jody

Two months ago the bred heifer, Jody, came up limping horribly.  We had a hunch she had "done the splits" on muddy ground, and didn't expect her to improve.  Some days she seemed to be walking better, others, not so well.  Three weeks ago, I scheduled her to be butchered at the local butcher shop, because if she got so bad she couldn't walk, the butcher shop wouldn't take her.  I figured it was time to cut our losses.  
On the day before her expected demise, Cliff and I noticed she was getting around better, and he said, "If that were MY cow, I would wait and see if she makes it until she has her calf."
I cancelled the appointment.  
So we've watched her limp along behind the rest of the cows.  A couple of weeks ago I posted a video of her limping past my window.  
I'm not usually a negative person, but the truth is, I didn't think I could stand to see my hopes dashed, so I assumed the worst.  That way I am prepared to be hurt.  I really love that heifer.  

I've had her since she was three days old, raised her on the bottle, and halter-broke her at a young age.  She is my pet.  
For the past week, her limp has been nearly gone.  You can see her right hind foot turns out a little more than it should, but she's walking almost normally.  It's three months until her calf is due, and now I am beginning to hope that perhaps she will not only deliver her calf, but maybe even live to raise it.  I've been taking her for walks, letting her eat the tender grass in the yard.  Today I nabbed Cliff for a photo shoot.  

   Yes, she really is that docile.

She's cuddly, too.  

At one point she got tired of posing and started rubbing her head against me.  

Sure would be nice to see her have a Jersey heifer calf on Valentine's Day.  
In case you are wondering why Cliff cut my feet off in all these pictures, he didn't.  I cropped my feet out of them, and sometimes that meant cropping Jody's feet out also.  

Just look at my high-water britches!  Actually, the sweats aren't that short, but I didn't think about pulling them down over my socks.  I never think about how I look!  

Anyway, here's hoping.  She has shown improvement before and then gotten worse.  I will admit that I'm glad Cliff talked me into letting her live.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Meat for the freezer

It was a busy morning around here.  As soon as we were back from our walk, we got ready to process the deer Heather shot for us.  Last week I bought a $100 meat grinder from Walmart, and today we put it to the test.  We were over halfway done with the job when Cliff said, "You know what?  You haven't taken any pictures."  
I held up my gloved hands and said, "Taking pictures would be a little messy after handling ground deer meat; but I could take my gloves off and get a couple of pictures."  
My camera was still in my coat pocket from this morning's walk.    

 Cliff did most of the work.  I manned the grinder and plastic-wrapped the meat; he butcher-paper wrapped it.  He also did most of the cleanup. 

   Heather shot a very young doe for us; as he dressed it, Cliff kept remarking on how tender the meat was.  

We ground all of it except for the backstrap, which we had for dinner at noon.  I looked up how to cook it on the Internet and did it just according to instructions.  It was tasty and tender with not a hint of "gamey" taste.  It yielded twenty-three one-pound-plus packages of meat.  I would not have wanted more than that.  Conditions were perfect:  temperatures dipped below freezing overnight, so the deer cooled off nicely hanging in front of Cliff's shop until this morning.  Two days earlier the flies would have been a problem and the meat would have to have been iced down to get it cooled.  
It was a fun little project, and thanks to Heather, our beef supply will hold out longer.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Deer season indeed!

This morning I awoke to the gentle pitter-patter of rain.  Around six A.M. the grandson and Heather arrived to deer hunt.  It wasn't raining too hard, they said, and they were going ahead with their plans.  They left their Great Dane, Titan, with me.  Less than an hour later the rain was really coming down hard.  It wasn't long before the hunters, soaked to the skin and freezing, were at the door.  They changed clothes, and Heather threw their soggy hunter-wear in the dryer.  
They looked so pitiful, I decided they needed a nice, hot breakfast.  Bacon and pancakes sounded like just the thing, and of course when I suggested that, Cliff jumped right on the bandwagon.  
Later on Cliff went to the shop, leaving me with the would-be hunters:

What a close-knit family they are!  Maybe I overfed them.  
I assumed my chances of having a doe for our freezer were pretty much gone, at least until next weekend.  However, around 2:30 the rain diminished to a sprinkle and they trekked to the woods again.  They had only been gone a short time when I got a call on the cell phone from Arick:  "Heather got a doe!"  
On Facebook, I saw this picture already posted:
Now that's a happy hunter!  
Cliff and I will get it worked up and in the freezer tomorrow.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Hungry calves, thirsty cats

George and Gracie are about eight weeks old, growing well and eating like crazy.  In another month or so, they will be turned out with the herd.  We use electric fence to keep the cows off the newly-planted clover and to keep the horses off any area where the legumes (clover and alfalfa) are so rich that they might founder if allowed to graze as much as they want.  The calves need to be trained to electric fence; they have to learn that it hurts.  
Cliff put up a small stretch of electric fence in the little lot a few days ago, since I turn the calves out in the little lot almost daily in order to let them exercise.  Both of them got a shock the first day and quickly learned it isn't a good idea to touch their noses to electric fence.  
Yesterday we took their lesson a step further:  There is no good grazing in the small lot, just weeds mostly, but the calves want something green so badly that they pick at it anyway.  Cliff decided to electric-fence an area of our yard so they could have fun eating grass, and also find out what it's actually like to be contained by an electric fence.  

They were out there for three hours and never stopped grazing.  Actually, the alfalfa hay I feed them is better for them than grass, but it sure was fun watching their enjoyment of the grass.  They both got shocked a few times and now have a good understanding of how electric fencing works, and how that little wire hurts when you touch it, no matter where you encounter it.  
The calves no longer get their bottles.  I've been feeding them a very expensive grain mixture, calf starter, all along.  Now I am giving them calf starter in the evening and sweet feed, a much cheaper grain mix, in the morning.  There is one bag of starter left; when it's gone, they will get sweet feed once a day and, as usual, all the alfalfa hay they can eat.  

Yesterday morning when I did chores I noticed the cats were out of water in the barn.  I intended to take care of that situation, but somehow it slipped my mind.  I was sitting at my computer and looked out the window to see this:  

He drank for the longest time!  Shortly after this, I noticed more activity at the birdbath.

 Suzy, too, spent plenty of time drinking.

"What do you expect?  You didn't give us any water!"

Thursday, November 08, 2012

The water tower mystery: It's all in the perspective

I took this picture this morning from my yard.  Just to the right of center, you can see our little town's two water towers, the old one, still in use, and the new one.  These towers affect me not at all.  We have a well, and besides, those towers are only for the town folks.  This is looking toward the east.  Looks like the one on the left (new) is shorter.  

 As we returned from a short trip this morning, I had Cliff pull over so I could take a picture looking north.  Yes, the one on the left, the new one, is a tiny bit shorter.  


 Quite a bit shorter, looking west at the towers.

 From my daughter's house, the new one seems a LOT shorter.

 As we leave town, I look back eastward and the new tower (on the left now) has begun to grow and is actually taller!  

I'm so confused.