Monday, March 31, 2014

Another of my top favorite country songs

One of my top ten favorite country songs

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Got meds

Yesterday, in addition to the coughing I've had for two weeks, I developed an intensely sore throat.  This morning I decided enough was enough, and Cliff took me to the intensive care place.  I was diagnosed with upper respiratory infection and a Z-pak was prescribed.

I don't think I mentioned my black eye on here, although I shared a picture of it on Facebook.  I've since deleted it, just because I didn't want that particular picture of myself to be around forever.  The nurse asked me this morning how I got my black eye, and when I gave her a condensed version, she said, "You're going to have to come up with a better story than that!"  

In this entry, I'm going to try to explain to my readers how I got my shiner.  


Here you see the feeders that I put sweet feed in for my two bottle calves.  They are out in the open, so if it rains, the feed is ruined.  The calves won't touch it.  The other day we got 4/10 of an inch of rain, so some feed was ruined.  Fortunately, Cliff has made me a tool to scrape these little boxes out as clean as a whistle.  


I didn't get the whole thing in the picture, but it's sort of a paint-scraper-type thingie.  Plastic handle, thin metal, pretty light-weight.  It hangs on the fence so it's handy when I need it.  

I reached up, opened the snap, and lifted the tool up and over the fence because it was hanging on the other side.  It was a day of fifty-mile-per-hour winds, and I didn't grab onto the tool as I lifted it over.  As soon as it was free of the fence and on my side, the wind blew the sharp little corner really hard into my right cheek bone, just under my eye.  It honestly didn't hurt that much, but as soon as it hit, I was pretty sure I'd have a black eye from it.  


Here's what it looks like at present.  No, it doesn't hurt.  At all.  

I don't usually babysit on weekends, but the Little Princess' parents wanted to ride horses and said they would gladly pay me for the day.  Cliff was hand-picking corn at his brother's place for some hogs we intend to raise at some point this spring, but that's another entry.  I had intended to help, but I can use the money for babysitting and I have a blast with the baby.  After it had warmed up somewhat in the afternoon, she and I went out to visit the cows.  


First we looked at the babies.  


Then I introduced her to the bigger cows.  This is Gracie.  


Here you see Gracie and Penny checking her out.  I wish I had taken a video; the heifers would sneak ever so slowly and cautiously closer, then jump back and run circles around the wagon, kicking up their heels.  I'm hoping to take her out there again when Cliff is home to do the honors of taking a video.  I hope they'll do the same performance, but you know, animals are like children sometimes: The very thing you WANT them to repeat, they often refuse.  We shall see.  

And here is a "selfie" of me and my little pal:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hard winters and babysitting equal less blogging

That, and dissatisfaction with a few minor circumstances that will, with passage of time, change for the better.  Honestly, this super-cold, extra-long winter has affected the attitudes of most everybody I know.  Not to mention how propane prices doubling and tripling have wreaked havoc with budgets of we rural-dwelling folks.  

Then there's the incidence of various colds and plagues:  I've heard it said by people in day care than you get more communicable diseases when you're around children a lot.  That seems to be true.  I usually have one or two minor colds each winter.  This year I had one minor cold and one case of cold/bronchitis that refuses to leave and has had me coughing for two weeks.  Cliff said yesterday, "You know if it was ME coughing that hard, for that long, you would be forcing me to go to the doctor."  

And then there was the intestinal virus the baby passed on to all her favorite people.  At least we haven't had any flu.  (Some people think the stomach virus is a form of influenza.  It isn't.  So don't expect the flu shot to prevent the tummy thing.)


The cows are doing well.  Penny, the nearest in the picture, is big enough to breed any time now.  Sometime within the next month, we hope to get that done.  We are still assuming Crystal, the whiteface, got bred when she visited the neighbor's Angus bull.  And of course, Gracie, in the middle, is due to calve October 19.  It will be great to have some good, raw milk again.  

I heard that cattle are bringing all-time high prices at our nearest livestock auction barn, so I checked online.



The item here that staggers my imagination is "2yr old hfr pairs - $3,550".  That is the price for a first-calf heifer with her calf beside her.  Now, the price of dairy-type animals hasn't really risen at all, to speak of.  So the only animal I have that might bring some ridiculous money is Crystal, the half-breed Hereford (whiteface).  But it would be hard for me to part with her, since she's all I have left of Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow.  


These boys will never be worth much, except in somebody's freezer where the ground beef from their flesh will taste as good as any other, and better than most.  But remember, Homer, the little guy, gets to have an active sex life before he dies.  Some people think the meat won't be good if it's from a bull, but that's wrong.  I guess they get that idea because in the case of hogs, boar meat does have a strong taste.    


Any time I venture out on a photoshoot, Iris, Mama Kitty, or both are somewhere nearby.  This day, it was Mama Kitty.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Just this picture


Stories about a baby

I want to point out a couple of things about the following video of the Little Princess.  First of all, you will hear her saying "Huh?" a lot.  Her mother thinks this counts as her first real word, because Cliff is practically deaf and says "huh?" or "what?" frequently.  Could be.  However she learned to say it, she has found that people respond to it.
I might say to her, "What are you doing?"
She says, "Huh?"
And I repeat, "What are you doing?"  It's a word that works for her.  You could actually say this is her first way of having a conversation, because no matter to whom she says it, they will say something back, if only an answering "Huh?"

So there's that.  The other thing to watch for is at the end of the video.  We have decided to teach her what "no" means, starting with only one thing:  The Direct TV equipment beneath the television.  What I've been doing is simply picking her up when she is near it and begins to reach up for it, saying "no", and putting her down in the middle of the floor.  She cries, I hug her, all is well.  Twice yesterday when she was reaching for it and I said no, she turned and looked at me and then turned her back on it and crawled away, so she is learning.  I didn't have to move her and she didn't cry.

I thought a video of her learning what "no" means would be a nice memory to have.  You will first see her stop to play with the electric heater we sometimes use for supplemental heat.  That thing is wonderful to have around a baby, because no external part of it ever gets hot, so there's no danger of anyone getting burned.  From the heater, she moves on toward the Direct TV boxes and reaches up toward the receiver.  I say no, she stops and looks over her shoulder at me.  I praise her for being so smart... and you know what ALWAYS happens when you brag about a child, right?  

She turns around and hits the receiver.  Notice a light comes on the receiver when she touches it.

After Baby went home, we decided to watch a little TV and had no signal; I ended up having to call our son so he could talk me through the process I needed in order to fix whatever that child did with ONE SIMPLE TOUCH.  And she did it all so innocently.  

 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring will not be denied

I ventured outside yesterday.  It was pretty cold, but after awhile I realized that if I'm waiting for warm weather, I may be house-bound for quite a while yet.  I planted a row of snap peas and sprayed the fruit trees.  

Obviously, the old peach tree is waking up.  

Large portions of the old peach tree have died and been trimmed off.  Cliff and I find it amazing that although this main limb seems to be dead, there are two small branches coming out of it with lots of buds on them.  Sometimes there is more life in a living being than one might suspect.  

The buds on the old-fashioned lilac are swelling.  

Later on, I got down on the ground and used Gracie as a pillow.  She insisted on licking me with her rougher-than-sandpaper tongue.  

This afternoon I took another stroll in the pasture.  The horses are grazing frequently.  The cows try, but they don't have the kind of teeth that can nip the grass off right at the ground.  In fact, cows have no front teeth on top at all, so they need the grass to be a couple inches tall to really get a big bite.  

It feels even colder today, I think, than yesterday.  However, the sun is shining, and that's always a big plus.  

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The boys have been moved

The Jersey calf boys, that is.  Here's where they had been living:
These quarters were serving them well, but we wanted them to get used to a bigger space.  

I keep them separated overnight, and for an hour or so after the morning feeding, in hopes they don't get to sucking one another's ears, naval, or whatever else occurs to them.  

Jethro on the left, Homer on the right.  These boys are the same age, but there is a huge size difference.  I chose little bitty Homer to be our bull and Cliff castrated Jethro.  Why did I want a small bull?  Because I love small Jersey cows and I'm hoping his babies are small-framed.  The boys are eating lots of sweet feed in addition to their two bottles a day of milk replacer.  They have about a sack and a half of milk replacer left to finish before I wean them from the bottle.  That will probably be mid-April.    

There is something going on behind the scenes here at Woodhaven Acres that I won't talk about until it actually comes to pass, although it appears to be a sure thing.  It's a good thing for all involved, or at least I hope it is.    

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

I should have known

We (OK, I) made plans to go to the Kansas City St. Patrick's Day parade.  The daughter's two girls accompanied us, as well as one granddaughter's boy friend.  I mentioned that morning on Facebook that perhaps going to the St. Patrick's Day parade wasn't the best idea while the moon was full, but we (I) charged ahead.  

We parked the car, walked about 10 blocks, and found a decent spot.  I got my Ipad out to take a picture to send to Facebook to let all my friends know we were in the midst of the excitement.  

I dropped the Ipad.  

Yeah.  I did.  Now, looking online, everybody said it costs so much to have an Ipad fixed that you would be better off buying a new one.  It does cost plenty ($219), but to replace my Ipad Mini, the cost would be $429.  

Apple will send me the packaging and labels I need to send it to them.  It's all set up, and within ten days I should be in business.  I hope I'll be more cautious next time I go to a parade.    

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Luther

This is Luther.  Pardon his sloven appearance, but he's had a hard, neglected life.  

My ex-daughter-in-law bought Luther for her baby boy, Arick, for his first Christmas.  Or perhaps it was his third Christmas.  Somewhere around 1986, '87, or '88.  Cabbage patch kids were still pretty hot items at the time.

Arick never so much as looked at the doll, as far as I can remember.  I tried to get him interested, but when it came to Luther, he may as well have been blind.  Like many of his Christmas gifts back then, the doll ended up in my junk room.  

As with all Cabbage Patch babies, Luther came with a name and a birth certificate.  It was quite a coincidence, his name, because our son, Arick's dad, has the middle name "Luther".  That's because we named him after both his grandfathers:  James Luther.  The Cabbage Patch Kid's birth certificate is long gone.  

At some point in time, Arick, his sister Amber, and their mom came to spend some time with us.  Maybe during Dessert Storm, I don't know.  Amber played with Luther some, although she was more into Barbies.  Mostly what she did was remove all Luther's clothes every chance she got.  I'd put them back on, she'd take them off.  At some point, his pants disappeared forever, although the shirt you see in the above picture is the one that came with him.  

The overalls he's wearing are far too big for him.  They were Arick's when he was perhaps four months old.  I bought them at Walmart on clearance (why do I remember trivia like that?).  Arick came home from the hospital with the bib Luther is wearing, so it is as old as Arick, however old that is.  Twenty-seven?  I don't know.  
    
The Little Princess has decided maybe she likes Luther.  She was carrying on a conversation with him today.  Her conversations consist of "Huh?  Huh?  Huh?"  She was also poking at his eyes and checking out his hands.  Maybe poor Luther will have someone to love him yet.  At least until Cora reaches that age when, like most little girls, she decides to strip him of his clothes every chance she gets and then moves on to Barbies.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Horse poop at the St. Patrick's Day parade

Cliff and I, along with three teenagers, arrived about a half-hour before the parade started, found a choice spot, and settled in.  In front of us were some horses ridden by members of the Jackson County Sheriff's office (I guess).  They were milling around in that area, every once in awhile pooping, as horse have a tendency to do.    





In front of me sat an older couple (my age, probably).  Every time a horse crapped, the old fellow groaned.  He and his wife had strong east coast accents; I heard them later telling someone they were originally from New Jersey.  

The more horse poop dotted the pavement, the angrier he got.  He turned around and told me, "They should be scooping that sh*t up!  My grandchildren are going to be marching there in their new shoes."  

He got up and stomped off to see why nobody was cleaning up the horses' mess, and came back even angrier:  "Nobody is going to clean that up!  They are supposed to be responsible for their own horses, and I asked them if they were going to clean it up.  They aren't!" 

From then on, he told his sad tale to every stranger walking by who would stop and listen, never failing to mention his grandchildren's new shoes.  "I'd volunteer to pick it up myself," he said, "if I had a bucket and a shovel."  

Since Cliff can't hear, I had to whisper to him what was being said.  "By rights, they should clean it up," he said.  

Hmph.  I'm sorry, I was less than sympathetic.  I walk barefoot in horse manure without thinking twice about it.  It does clean off.  Big deal.  I guess that's the difference between city attitudes and country attitudes.  

And then a gelding took a leak, and I thought the guy was going to either cry or have a heart attack.  He acted as though it were the worst possible thing that could ever happen in a lifetime.  I sat there wondering what he proposed to do about the situation, because a shovel and bucket certainly wouldn't help in the case of urine running to the curb.  


As it happened, most of the parade took place on the far side of the street where the least manure was.  Notice the horse pile in the lower right-hand corner of this picture.  However, when some of the marchers did spread out, what a surprise!  The young folks saw the horse poop and avoided it!  Little geniuses, for sure.  In the whole course of the parade, I only saw one cute little fellow step in the stuff.  The old complainer in front of me had another conniption fit at the unspeakable thing that had just happened in front of him.

Other groups of horses passed by.  All of those had their own cleanup person, or people, following them and picking up poop.  The old man turned around and demanded that we applaud those picker-uppers for their cleanup efforts.  

Sometimes I just have to thank God I was raised in rural areas.  How did these people ever manage to change a diaper?    

I wish I had counted the times he told the story about his poor little grandchildren having to march in horse manure:  I'm sure it was at least two dozen times.  My granddaughter, Natalie, will back me up on this.  I'll bet he's still complaining.  

Somebody needs to say to him, "Hey, sh*t happens."

But he gave me something to blog about.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

All's well that ends well

Friday was a fantastic day for us:  Several relatives came by, some for the whole day and some for just a little while.  I did, indeed, serve cheeseburgers as planned, with a side of potato salad.  We were were out of most anything I could have made dessert with, but we always have ice cream in the freezer.  So there WAS dessert.  The reason we were having a gathering on a Friday was that Don's wife was putting a headliner in Cliff's brother's (Phil's) Mercury.  Any excuse for a reunion, right?  

Cliff's sister gave him a haircut to start the day.  

Mary spread the headliner on a table in the warm end of the shop, so it would be pliable.

Grandson Arick showed up.  And then, a couple of unexpected guests came calling:  

Our little princess and her mommy!  Amber came for the purpose of delivering diapers and a car seat for our use, but she hung around for quite a while, so everybody got to see why we are putty in that baby's hands.  Their visit was the icing on the cake.  

Cliff latched onto the baby immediately.  

Phil arrived to help Mary with the headliner on his car.  He was having a hard time breathing, so we were all after him to sit down and take it easy.  Poor guy has COPD, even though he never smoked in his life.  He has several health issues that keep us worrying about him.  

Doesn't look like fun, does it?  Mary worked on this all day.  Phil has to come over and do some more stuff to it before I can take a picture and show the finished product.  

Don's son, Bryan, rode over on his motorcycle.  

Don's oldest son, Scott, brought his recently acquired tractor.  His dad and Cliff helped him put a new hood on it.  

That's Cliff's white hair you see up above the hood.  

The son-in-law came by after he got off work, and he and Arick got together to talk guns.  He's showing off a tiny pistol, his latest purchase.

So yes, it was a fun, full day.  I think people were here at 8 A.M., and Scott was the last to leave about twelve hours later.  We had a great visit with him when all the others were gone.  Don came back Saturday, since the ladies were shopping, but he and Cliff mostly just chewed the fat.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just color me CONFUSED

Maybe all men that do this sort of thing.  Or maybe all in-laws.  

Cliff has been planning for quite some time on his brother coming this Friday to work on something-or-other in the shop.  His brother's oldest boy, Scott, is coming, too.  I'm fixing cheeseburgers.  Simple, easy, and we have lots of ground beef.  And who doesn't like cheeseburgers.  I hate messing with big dinners these days.  It'll just be me and four guys, right (Don, Scott, Cliff, and Phil)?  Maybe five if the grandson shows up.  

Donald and his wife spend the nights at Cliff's sister's these days when they're in the area, so I assume he will be coming out from there tomorrow morning; his wife and their sister are probably going shopping, since that's what they usually do.  

But this morning Cliff said something about Donald coming Saturday.  
"What?  All this time you have been saying Friday!  Scotty is coming Friday, he told me on Facebook." 

"Oh really?  I talked to Rena (his sister) yesterday and she asked if she could bring something Saturday."  

Oh great.  Now somebody expects me to cook a banquet on Saturday... or is it Friday?  

Cliff called Donald and asked when he was coming to our house.  "Friday," Don told him.  

Whew.  

Cliff then called his brother Phil, who is going to have Don's wife put a head-liner in his classic car while they are here.  

"When is Don planning to put the headliner in your car?"  

"Friday or Saturday," Phil said.  

So Cliff has talked to three siblings about the timing, and I know less than I knew before.    

All I have to say is, if somebody intends to show up Saturday without letting me know, they had better bring pizza.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Did you wonder what happened to me this time?

Well, the Little Princess' daddy went back to work, so I've been having a blast playing with her.  She is SO much fun now.  She's developing a sense of humor, mocking noises we make, and entertaining herself with simple toys.  She's beginning to crawl.  Up to now, I've kept her in the living room to play with her toys on the floor.  Before long, though, there won't be any keeping her there.  

When we moved from "the lodge" back to the ranch house (Pioneer Woman's fans will get it), I decided to keep Iris out of the bedroom and living room, which are the carpeted areas in this old house.  That gave her the run of the kitchen and hallway:  the hallway is where people enter through the back door when they come to see us.  There's a front door facing the road, but nobody ever uses it.  

Even though some hair gets tracked into those rooms from the kitchen, it has been amazing to see how much less hair we were living with.  Hair still piled up in the corners of the kitchen, but at least if we were watching TV and grabbed a throw to warm us up when we were cold, it didn't get covered in dog hair as we dragged it across the carpet.  It was easy to keep most of the hair off the carpet so Cora could play on it; all I had to do was run the vacuum over it for a minute or so in the morning.  

Now Cora is crawling, becoming more proficient at it every day.  We won't be able to keep her out of the kitchen long, and I wouldn't want to anyhow.  I want her to be in there with me when I'm cooking.  So I decided to confine Iris to the hallway, and I've moved her bed there.  Just like the living room, there will be some hair tracked into the kitchen from the hallway, but it should be much less.  A little hair won't hurt a kid, but you don't want her covered in it.  Yuck.  

Iris is sulking and not eating much, but I think she'll get over it.  If I knew someone who wanted a bunch of dog hair in their house, I'd re-home her.  But the only person who has expressed interest in having her intended to build a pen outside and keep her in it.  If she doesn't like being limited to the hallway here, I know she would be miserable locked in a pen all the time.  

We are thinking of spending the summer at "the lodge", and that presents a problem with keeping the living room hair-free:  The only room in the lodge that is not carpeted is the kitchen.  And the back porch.  As long as we're only there in warm weather, I think Iris could live on the back porch.  I would let her in during storms so she could sleep in Cliff's bathtub.  

We'll see how that works out.  

How do you like my saying "the lodge" instead of "the trailer house"?  I think it lends a bit of class to the dwelling.  Heretofore, the lodge it shall be.      

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Yes, we DO enjoy a visit to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

On our visit to the art museum over a year ago, we chose to go with a guide.  I'm really glad of that, because we learned a great deal about modern art and became more open-minded about most of it.  
Cliff spent a lot of time dozing on the couch Tuesday and Wednesday.  That isn't typical behavior for him, even in winter, so I asked him if he felt all right.  To which he replied, "Dang it, can't I even take a nap in my own house?"  
Or something to that effect.  I reminded him that he has had a habit in the past of hiding his illnesses until they become so extreme that they become life or death, so I never know how he feels.  He assured me he felt fine.  I informed him that in that case, the next day we were going someplace, anyplace, to get out of the house.  In my own mind, I thought maybe we'd go to the World War I museum again.  
Thursday morning I checked that website and found out admission is $14 apiece every day except Wednesday, when it's $7.  No way am I going to visit on any day but Wednesday!  So I told Cliff we were going to Nelson-Atkins instead, which is free except for the $8 it costs to park.  
After we walked in, a gentleman asked if we needed help finding anything and asked what sort of art we liked, naming off various kinds:  When he said European, I told him that was what we would look at, and he pointed us in the right direction.  
We did our guided tour last year through the modern stuff, but I really enjoy the paintings from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century most.  I like realistic pictures.  While Cliff hadn't been so enthusiastic about looking at art, it didn't take him long to get into the spirit of things.  Keep in mind that he is always curious about how things are made, or how things are done.  So he had plenty to keep his mind busy.  By the way, it didn't even occur to me to take my better-quality camera, so the pictures I took were with the Ipad, and not such good quality.  


    While I have very little interest in any kind of dishes, no matter how old, Cliff spent a lot of time checking that sort of thing out.  


This piece, carved out of one piece of ivory, fascinated both of us, but especially Cliff, who can't imagine how anybody did this delicate kind of work without breaking something.  It's "Fall of the Rebel Angels", done in the early 1700's.  It measures 10 3/4 inches tall by 6 inches.  At the top, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are present, the Holy Ghost represented by a dove atop the cross.  


I sure wish I'd had my good camera!  This was one of my favorite paintings.  If I could have a reproduction of something to hang on my wall, I might choose this one.  We both noticed that if we got too close to the picture, it wasn't as clear as it was from five feet back.  


There was just something about this picture that beckoned to me.  This young thing was the mistress of some rich guy, and he had several portraits done of her by different artists.  Until I read that bit of information, I was thinking she was a ten-year-old girl!  


This was not a huge painting.  I spent a lot of time looking at the various people, seeing what they were doing.  It was sort of like "where's Waldo":  There are kids playing and a lady crying and a guy up on the roof looking down... when you see the real thing, it's amazing what all is going on.  It's from 1730.  


This is one of the most prized works at Nelson-Atkins.  Believe it or not, it's St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness (done in 1604).  This isn't how I picture John.  I would have guessed it to be David.  John wore camel's hair clothes and ate locusts and stuff.  


Look at me, standing next to a painting worth who-knows-how-much!


This is NOT one of my favorites, but since I'm reading "The Monuments Men", it was of interest to me that this is one of their rescues.



We both enjoyed our time (even if Cliff won't admit it).  It amazes me that I can stand and view paintings created so many centuries ago, close enough to touch them.  Not that I would touch them, because the place is heavily patrolled by people whose job it is to safeguard these treasures.  

Thursday, March 06, 2014

When the media gets involved

I tried to embed the video in this article, but it didn't work for some reason.  Click HERE to read a story about a calf that was freezing.  The farmers took her in the house to save her, something I've done myself a time or two with winter-born calves.  These folks live just a few miles away from us; we know them, they're great folks.  I can't help wondering if they wish they had never been on the news.  If it were me, I would be regretting the whole episode.  

The initial news bit was a nice, human-interest story, nothing wrong with it.  Then the calf stopped eating.  The news people called to see how she was doing.  The calf was taken to a vet for some intensive care.  By the way, these folks have registered Shorthorn cattle, so I imagine the calf is worth spending extra money on.   

But let's say the time comes to cut their losses. What if they decided Ruby is going to die anyway, so they choose to put her out of her misery. How do you explain that to big-city reporters in a way that won't make you come out looking like a murderer?  Everybody in Kansas City now has a personal interest in the calf.

How often are the reporters going to check in on this little critter, anyhow?  If the calf was out in the zero weather for any length of time, wet as babies are when they are first born, her ears and tail were frozen and will eventually drop off.  How horrified will those reporters be when they come to take pictures of Ruby and find she has no ears or tail?  Will they expect the farmer to take her to a plastic surgeon? 


cow who lost her ears due to frostbite
 I risk enough people's displeasure just having a blog.  After Penny, my youngest heifer, had one ear damaged by dehorning paste we used on her, I didn't mention it here, and when I took pictures of her, I usually made sure that ear wasn't showing.  True confessions here.  I just didn't want to be accused of animal cruelty.  Country people don't think that way, they know the facts of life.  But some city folks expect cattle and hogs to be treated like they treat their dogs and cats.  Folks, that isn't even possible.  

So you won't be seeing me on the news any time soon... at least, I hope not!  

Sometimes it takes a while to read a book

I'm reading "The Monuments Men" in the form of a real book, since it wasn't available at the library as an e-book.  It's taking me forever.  Thank goodness the chapters are short, because sometimes I just tell myself that if I read one or two chapters, then I can take a break.  

Why bother, you ask, if the book is that hard to read?  

Because the underlying story is fascinating!  During World War II, the Germans, at Hitler's command, seized all the world's most famous art pieces... literally trainloads of paintings and other art... and hauled them off.  Paintings like the Mona Lisa, roughly taken and tossed in box cars.  
The book is so hard for me to read because there are so many leading characters.  Thank goodness there are a couple of pages in the front of the book with pictures, telling a little about each person, so when I get confused as to who I'm reading about I can flip back to that.  I'm telling you, I have never worked so hard at reading a book, unless you want to count the times I've read Numbers and Deuteronomy as I read through the Bible. 

Another thing that has made it slow going for me is that when a cathedral or work of art is mentioned, I have to put the book down and look it up on the Internet.  These Internet searches of mine began with the bombing of the Monte Casino Abby, and have interrupted my reading at various intervals since.  The book is due back at the library in five days; I hope I can finish it by then.  

Early in the book, I read about the Bayeux Tapestry:  That thing has stolen my heart.  I will never see it in person (unless it's transported to this area for a viewing, which I don't think will happen), but I have looked at every picture of it I can find.  It wouldn't surprise me if I started dreaming about it.  

I can't believe the clarity of the pictures on this centuries-old work of art!  It tells a story, which you can follow with a little on-line help HERE.  

The thing is 21 inches tall and 231 feet long, and I would love to just start at one end and follow it to the other.  

Anyhow.  This is my downfall, one of the reasons it's taking me forever to read "The Monuments Men"; and the Bayeux Tapestry is only one of several historic things I've looked up.  At least I'm learning stuff, right?
      

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Mysteries, bad fences, and mis-managed cattle

Except for the two bottle babies, this is my herd:  Crystal (Bonnie's daughter), Penny (the one my blog friends helped name), and Gracie, who was bred to a Red Angus bull January 10, which means she will have a calf around October 19.  
Penny is in heat today.  She comes in heat regularly every nineteen days.  No, she and Gracie aren't lesbians:  This is how cows in heat, and the cows around them, behave.  Such behavior is quite useful, since it's my only way of knowing when a cow is ready to meet a bull.  Penny is only a year old, so she needs to wait three more months before she gets impregnated.  


Crystal is sticking her tongue out at me because she is a bit of a mystery, and she won't talk about it:  In October, she came up missing.  I figured she had made her way through our decrepit old fence on the east side of our property and ended up on pasture leased by a local farmer for his cattle.  She was missing for two or three days.  I couldn't locate her, but was pretty sure she was with Steve's cattle, because that's where my missing cows always end up.  I called to tell him I had a whiteface heifer gone, and that we'd be over there searching.  He's always very obliging about these situations, and we eventually get our animals home.  
"There's a bull running with my cows, just so you know" he said.  
"What breed?"  
"Angus," he answered.  
"Well, it could be worse," I told him.  
I said this because in the old days, Angus bulls were known to sire calves that were smaller that some breeds, so they were safer to breed to heifers.  That isn't so universally true these days, but I could hope.  Because, you see, Crystal was only 11 months old at the time, which is really too young for breeding.  
The next day we got home from church to find Crystal at home in the lot.  The grandson and a friend had gone on a search, found her with Steve's cows, and gotten her back home.  A couple weeks later the grandson and Cliff did a lot of fence-mending (not that there is any ordinary fence that would stand up to the attraction between a bull and a lascivious cow).   

I have never been able to catch Crystal in heat since that time.  So in all likelihood, she will be having a calf during the last half of July... let's hope she survives calving.  I sometimes just thank God I only play at farming instead of trying to make a living at it.