Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Therapy. Ugh.

I knew therapy wasn't going to be a walk in the park; I had been warned.  I also know that if you don't do the therapy, the artificial knee will never do the job it's supposed to do.  So, five times a day, I deliberately hurt myself.  At first I timed the hydrocodone in such a way that it helped me through, although I will tell you that therapy was far from pain-free even with such help.  Now I've really let up on the pain meds; most of the time I only take one every six hours.  However, when I get a call from the therapist notifying me he (or she) is coming, I take an extra one.  Those therapists are heartless!  

This is my first exercise, in which I tighten up the thigh and try to put the back of my knee against the bed as firmly as possible.  I do it 20 times, holding for a count of five.  It is a lot more painful than it looks; I've made a lot of progress, though.

This is a leg raise I do with the new knee.  I do this twenty times.  For some reason, the first time always feels like I can't possibly do it, but then the other 19 come fairly easily.

    This one isn't so bad until the therapist comes; when he's here, he pushes down on the ankle while I'm trying to lift it, to give more resistance.  

This is my most dreaded exercise:  I slide my heel up as far as I possibly can, fifteen times.  Then I take a few deep breaths and do it another fifteen times; then I do it yet a third set of fifteen.  When the therapist is here, he measures to see if I'm bending the knee further than last session.  

  This one, my last exercise, is a piece of cake, and I'm getting my foot higher each day.  Again, when the therapist is here, he pushes down on the leg as I lift it, making it much more difficult.  

Since I have to go through this routine five times daily, I usually get started early, sometimes by five A.M.  I'm a morning person.  I always hope to have done all five sessions by 2 P.M., and what a relief it is to have that chore done for the day.

Cliff and I figure this artificial knee must really be strong, to be able to take all this punishment!  

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The state of the garden

This is the new garden, which exists mainly because my tomato plants needed fresh soil to keep the blight in check.  The posts you see are there to hold up cages for the tomatoes.  There are only two rows of tomatoes, and the farthest row doesn't have posts and cages yet.  In the foreground, although they don't show up, I have some cantaloupes and sugar baby watermelons just coming up.   Cliff graciously agreed to till this garden for me today, since grass was taking over.

Here's my first tomato, a little larger than a golf ball.  

My stubborn pea vines haven't been very cooperative at hanging on to the wire I placed there for support.  Behind the peas you can see potato vines; today I dug up four potato plants just so we could have some little new potatoes browned in butter to go along with the catfish we had for lunch.  

We'll be eating cabbage before long; you can see the little holes eaten by cabbage moths, and you can also see the powdery Sevin dust I applied to get rid of them.  

The red cabbage is a little behind the other kind, but it's looking good.  

Beets are looking good; I planted a type that is cylindrical, rather than round.  I'm ready for some borscht.  It's been too long!

The largest carrots are about as big around as my pinkie finger, so it won't be long before we're using them.  

Here's the strawberry patch, where I've been spending time every day.  Cliff's sister also has access to the berries.  We're having strawberries on our cereal every morning, and strawberry shortcake for dessert daily.  I've also put several bags in the freezer.  

I'll be glad when I have more energy, and am able to maneuver around the garden without my knee swelling and aching.  

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Checking in

Cliff mentioned that I haven't updated my blog lately (he checks my blog daily, right after he's perused Craigslist).  The truth is, I really don't have much to report.  I'm doing fine as far as I can tell; I'm doing my therapy exercises five times a day, and I'm picking strawberries.  That report pretty much goes for every day lately.  
Yesterday I made my first visit to Walmart since my surgery.  Instead of taking the walker in with me, I simply used a shopping cart for support.  I've pretty much dispensed with the walker here at home, even when I'm going out to feed the calf or pick strawberries.  Nobody gave me permission to do this, but I feel pretty secure walking unaided as long as I take it slow and easy.   
For about fifteen minutes of every hour, I keep ice on my knee; that really feels good, and I look forward to it.  I'm taking two hydrocodone tablets three times a day at six-hour intervals, starting whenever I get up.  I'm only taking regular Tylenol at night.  That way I have the good stuff going when I do therapy throughout the day.  I'll see the orthopedist Wednesday, and I think she'll take the staples out then.  
So, you can see why I don't have a lot of stuff for my blog:  You could probably read this every day for the next week and it would apply to what I'm doing that day.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Look who showed up at my door

Wet, bedraggled, and ashamed of herself, after being gone for four hours.

Alrighty then

Indeed, my therapist wanted me to take two pain pills, every four hours.  I've never taken that much hydrocodone in my life, but he said it rather sternly.  Cliff was here and heard him, so I even have a witness.  
My doctor, however, doesn't want me to do that.  She wants me to take the pills "as needed".  Whenever I feel I need them, in other words.  Well, I like that plan better anyhow!  
When the therapist came today, I didn't tell him about my conversation with the doctor.  What he doesn't know won't hurt him.  
Oh, here's a most wonderful thing:  I've been doing three sets of all my exercises; today I found out there's only one of them that I have to repeat three times, on the five sessions per day I do my therapy.  I'm ecstatic!  Therapy just became easy.  
The guy said I'm ahead of 90% of people who are doing this therapy after knee surgery, but that doesn't surprise me.  One must remember that lots of people having knee surgery are considerably older than I am.  
We had tornado warnings today in our little town and all surrounding areas.  I take warnings more seriously than I used to, in light of the events at Joplin.  So we had just started eating our dinner... mashed potatoes, gravy, roast, and green beans... when the sky got dark and the town sirens started sounding.  
"Cliff," I said, "I want to go somewhere safe."  
We live in a trailer house, remember.  
Cliff started cramming roast in his mouth faster than the speed of light, murmured a curse word or two, and we headed for the car.  We only went next door to the basement of our old house, but it was pouring down rain, so we got soaked anyhow... car or no car.  
Iris has disappeared.  I failed to get her inside before all the noise of the storm, and she probably ran fifty miles away trying to escape.  I love her, but I've lost enough dogs in the last few years that I'm starting to get numb to loss.  I hope she comes back.  If she doesn't, though, I'll get a dog, maybe a puppy, that doesn't shed.  I know, that seems cold-hearted, but it's my state of mind these days. 
I've done everything I know to keep the silly dog safe; my conscience is clear.  I'm used to losing a dog about every eighteen months or so.  Bring on the loss.

Getting back to normal

I was dreading my first PT workout this morning, so imagine my surprise when it wasn't nearly as painful as it was yesterday!  Oh, it still isn't easy, but if the pain is this much less each day, I won't be dreading it so much.  The therapist will be here today to make sure I'm doing the right things in the right way.  
The orthopedist gave me a prescription for hydrocodone when I left the hospital, fifty pills in the bottle, to be refilled once.  Since the therapist ordered me to take the maximum dose (two tablets every four hours), those things are going fast.  My first bottle will be gone this morning, and the second will last five days at most.  Gary wanted me to be sure I have more available so I don't run out while I'm doing therapy; I hope there's no problem with getting more refills!  
I'm back to washing the dishes around here, and cooking regular meals.  I'm also going out and bottle-feeding Jody twice a day.  The walker doesn't roll in the grass, so I have to "step" it along in front of me.  It's slow going, but I get where I'm going. I'm able to refill most of my hummingbird feeders now, and put out jelly for the orioles.  
I'm beginning to get a little peeved at a couple of greedy woodpeckers.  No matter what kind of food I put out, whether it's nectar or seeds or jelly, they are helping themselves.  They'll actually sit there and eat all the jelly at one sitting.  The bigger woodpecker even goes out of his way to chase my beautiful orioles away!  It may be time to buy a BB gun.  Not that I could hit the broad side of a barn, but maybe Cliff could.  
Sparrows finally gave up building nests in the bluebird house after me destroying several of their eggs and nests, and bluebirds are happily raising families in there now.  

Monday, May 23, 2011

Met my new Physical therapist

The hospital therapist sent me home with certain exercises to do.  The instructions said to do ten to twenty reps of each exercise, two or three times a day.  Therapy is a killer; my daughter remarked that she noticed me walking briskly into the bedroom at exercise time, and then limping out slowly when I was done.  Yes, therapy hurts.  But it has to be done if I want good results from my surgery.  
My regular therapist was on vacation last week, and the temporary guy, Dave, was here twice.  The first time he came, I was bleeding profusely and he decided to let me off the hook.  The second time, he went through the moves on the exercise sheets with me, and said I was doing fine.  
So, today I met this new sadist therapist, Gary.  
The exercises I've been doing fifteen times, twice daily?  I now have to do three sets of twenty, four to six times a day.  ARGH!  
I know he intends for it to be painful, because he wants me taking the maximum amount of pain pills I've been given as often as permitted, and he wants me to call the doctor's office and get a prescription for even more Hydrocodone than the prescription calls for ("I don't want you running out on the weekend.").  
On the positive side, he seems like a nice guy.  And I will admit he managed to get some moves out of me that I hadn't been able to do on my own.    
Wish me luck.

Nice weekend

My daughter and granddaughter spent a lot of time here both Saturday and Sunday, helping out around the house in any way they could and letting Cliff have a full day of outdoor time with no worries about whether I needed something.  He didn't even have to wash a dish for those two days!  
Grandson Arick traded his gas-guzzling pickup truck for a 2001 Mustang that he's really proud of. 

I actually picked a mess of strawberries Saturday and transplanted a few flower seedlings yesterday.  
I woke up in the night to discover another spontaneous bleed at the hole where my drain tube had been removed; knowing the nurse was coming this morning, I didn't worry about it.  She said I must just be an easy bleeder, because the coumadin count in my blood is actually low, not high.  In fact, she said the doctor would probably double it.  She'll let me know after she's talked with the doctor.  Unless I call for something, I won't be seeing the nurse again until next week.  I'm due to go to the doctor next Tuesday to get the staples removed (I think).  
Yesterday afternoon Rachel and I kept the TV on, since there were tornado warnings for our area.  Later on we heard about the Joplin mess; that one really hit home because Rachel's husband has relatives in that area; I hear some of them lost their homes.  Kevin's son, Jon, lives in Joplin; he is OK.  
That's it for today's report.  I may try to pick a few more strawberries, since rain is forecast to show up around noon today.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

pictures from after surgery

I really looked forward to mealtime.  

In a big way!

Like my bed-head?  This shows me reunited with my Ipad.  

My first walk the day after surgery.

The home health nurse measured my incision and said it's longer than most she's seen. 

 Cliff's nephew fed Jody for four days; now Cliff has inherited the job.  

He's doing other jobs he isn't used to, as well.  He says at least his fingernails are clean.  

Doing fine

The bleeding problem seems to be a thing of the past. The home Heath nurse checked out my wounds and put new dressings on, and there has been no further trouble. My pain and swelling finally got up to the levels everyone told me about, so when I do my therapy you are liable to overhear me saying, "Oh, MAMMA!".
Yep, a girl could easily toss her cookies doing those exercises. Those of you who have been through this know what I'm talking about.
And that's the report for today.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Under control

Cliff got up and took care of the birds outside the window; then we discussed what should be our next move as far as my knee is concerned.  The nurse who came yesterday was only here to get me started; the nurse assigned to me, Tammy, wasn't supposed to come until Monday.  However, I called her a while ago and told her about yesterdays developments, and she said she'd come shortly after noon and assess the situation.  I'm sure she'll have a cool head and a clear mind, and steer me in the right direction; the therapy guy is coming later too, but he's the one who went all crazy worrying me yesterday.  I don't need that.  

To update, or not?

I don't know why I've turned out to be the poster child of the physical therapists since my knee surgery.  Perhaps it's something about the anatomy I was born with.  Maybe that's why, as the therapist in my home told me yesterday, "You don't need therapy; you're doing better than most people do after six weeks of therapy."  
Good news, right?  But isn't there always that little fly in the ointment that makes you take the good news with an expectation of another shoe dropping?  
So, Wednesday my doctor and her aid removed the drain tube from my knee so I could take my miraculous, rock-star body home; they put a nice, thick pad of gauze over the drain-hole and securely taped it on, telling me I would be released as soon as I had one final session with the therapy guy.  While I was waiting for therapy, I exchanged my hospital gown for sweats; sitting in the wheel chair on my way to rehab, I realized there was a huge wet spot on the left leg of my sweats.  I was bleeding.  
So, the therapist had me do a few exercises and I returned to my room, where I informed the nurses of my leak. They put an extra-thick dressing on the wound, taped it up, and bade me goodbye.  I came home and celebrated my one-in-a-thousand status, enjoying my coffee and worrying about whether Cliff was taking proper care of the spoiled birds outside my window.  
Yesterday afternoon, the home health nurse came and filled out all the forms necessary.  Then she decided to dress my wounds.  She took the long bandage off the actual stitches and said they looked fine; then she took the dressing off the drain-hole, seemed to think everything was dandy, and put a new, thinner bit of gauze atop it, and left.  
She hadn't been gone ten minutes when I felt a wet spot on my left leg and realized that, once again, blood was oozing out of the wound she had just covered.  Great.  
I left that dressing on, but slapped another over the top of it to soak up the blood.  By this point Cliff had gone to work, but my granddaughter was here to watch over me; so I was not unattended.  
The home health physical therapist showed up and asked me to bend my leg back under me as far as possible, and blood more or less shot out from under the gauze.  He got a look of panic on his face and stopped the therapy.  He called the orthopedist's office and left a message; he told me he didn't want to scare me, but that I needed to go to the hospital if the bleeding didn't stop because the new dressing he had put on was being rapidly soaked full of blood.  
Because I could tell he was scared, I got scared.  I called Cliff at work and he came home.  He looked at the bandage, said there was nothing seeping out and that I'd be fine, and we started trying to decided what move to make next.  
As a little aside here, I will tell you that when my daughter and my sister-in-law called to see how I was doing, I had some fun with them.
"So, how are you doing now?"  
In an extremely weak voice, I'd answer, "Oh, I'm just sitting here making out my will while I bleed to death."  
So, the plan of action for today:  First I'll call home health and see if they can check my blood to see if I have too much blood-thinner in my system; I'm still taking Coumadin to prevent clots.  I wasn't due for a blood check until Monday, but I don't want to end up in an emergency room over the weekend.  I'll also call the orthopedist and see what she has to say about this turn of events.  If I feel I need to, I'll call my family doctor. I do NOT want to end up with problems on the weekend, forced into an emergency room where we'd have a $500 deductible to pay unless I'm admitted.  And I don't want to be admitted anyhow!  
I am not showing any of the signs of an overdose of Warfarin:  My gums don't bleed when I brush my teeth, there's no bruising, there's no sign of blood in bowels or urine. 
I really wanted to wait until everything was absolutely normal to discuss this on my blog, but since it's taking so long, I decided to tell my readers "the rest of the story" and you can all wait with me to find out what is going on.  
Oh, and my knee is swollen, so the pain level is pretty high; but that just gives me a perfect excuse to take those good drugs they prescribed and party like the rock star I am.  
I'll be back when I know more.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Over the past two days, I heard statements like these from the staff at NKC Hospital:  "You're a rock star!" "You're one in a thousand."  "Nobody has this range of motion on the day after surgery."  "You seem to be an over-achiever."
(That last one cracked me up, by the way.)  
Well, when a person hears things like that over and over, she can get to thinking she's pretty special.  Especially if she isn't having the level of pain everybody expected her to have.  
This morning, I have only one thing to say.  
Oh, I'm doing fine, but I think if that guy in therapy got hold of me now, he wouldn't be calling me an over-achiever; he'd probably be thinking of me more as a sniveling wimp.  I imagine I'd be doing more than my share of groaning and moaning as I attempted to do what he demanded.  
I just wanted to set the record straight; This rock star found her feet of clay.  
I'll keep my readers updated on this journey I'm taking.  

I did have a good nights sleep last night, though.  That was wonderful. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Home sweet home

The staff at North Kansas City Hospital were all wonderful and caring.  The food was great as hospital food goes.  But you know how it is in a hospital:  There is NO privacy.  Somebody has to help you bathe and get to the bathroom, because you could fall and hurt yourself and they would be responsible.  But it does feel so good to be able to go to the bathroom alone!  I feel like half the population of North Kansas City has been mooned by me in the last couple of days, thanks to those open-down-the-back hospital gowns.
I'm doing fine so far.  Of course, as with any surgery, I must be on guard against infection and blood clotting.  This is why I am not shouting from the housetops about what a wonderful recovery I've had, because things could still go wrong.  Not that I expect that, mind you.  I'm on Warfarin to prevent clotting.  
I became somewhat anemic while in the hospital, so it turned out to be a good thing that I had some of my own blood harvested at the blood bank; I received both pints last night as I slept.  I don't have a lot of pain; I'm using a walker and getting around well.  The only time my pain level gets high is when I'm doing the rehab exercises; believe me, they hurt.  But as a hospital worker lectured me, "This is your only chance to get the rehab right; if you don't do it now, you can't go back and fix the problems caused by neglecting it."  
A home health worker will come to the house for a couple of weeks and do some therapy with me, and also keep track of my blood count and vitals.  Cliff stayed home this evening; he'll go to work tomorrow evening, but Granddaughter Natalie is going to come out on the school bus and babysit me and spend the night. 
And that's about all I have to report tonight.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

From the hospital

It's rather tedious typing on the IPad, so this will be short. But I have to brag about something. I had a grueling session with the therapist an hour ago, and he told me I was one in a thousand. Nobody, he said, is ever able to bend their leg as far back under them as I did, not the first day after surgery. Cliff watched the whole session, so I even have a witness. Except for being a little anemic,things are going well. I may get to use some of that blood I donated for myself.

Thanks to everybody who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers. You helped make me that one-in-a-thousand!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Surgery, Part II

I went to the hospital after work, to see how Mom was doing.  Aunt Rena was there already. Mom's in great spirits and said she can barely tell she had surgery, other than a bit of pain.  She mentioned that she hadn't hit her "happy button" for a long time.  That made me laugh.  "Happy Button."  LOL

She got out of surgery at 10, and was in her room by 11:30.  She was starving by the time I got there at 5:30, so I expect that she'll eat quite well tonight.  When I left, the nurse was in there to take vitals and let her hang her feet over the side of the bed.  I think she'll be putting weight on it tomorrow.  Amazing.

Also, tomorrow she'll have her iPad.  Dad's going to take it to her when he visits before work.  She'll be doing her own posts from here on out.  I just know how many folks watch this blog to see how she's doing, and I wanted to update everyone.

If you want to ask something, or want to know where she is, or whatever, you can email me.  I don't get notifications for her blog.  My email is fierro6 at embarqmail dot com.  Sorry for the annoying format.  I hate spam.

To summarize, Mom's doing great tonight, and seemed pretty happy while I was there.  This is good news, for sure.


The Surgery

Hey guys!  Mom got out of surgery around 10 this morning, and it seems that everything went fine.  I'll be going by after work to see her.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Not much to say

I haven't been able to think of anything blog-worthy for a couple of days, if you wonder where I've been.  I may continue my silence for a few days more, but you can bet I'll be back with plenty of stories to tell when the time comes.  The weather is unseasonably cool (make that COLD), and when I'm outside, I've been wearing my winter coat.  It reminds me of 1967, the year my son was born (on May 10).  It stayed cold for so long after he was born, I began to think I was never going to be able to take him outside without bundling him up in blankets!  
Missouri weather:  You never know what to expect.  

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Storms do come

Power lines to the west are down, I've read.  Last night it rained sideways, and I couldn't get the south-facing windows closed fast enough.  I have things on my mind and decided to go to bed and ponder these things, since my concentration wasn't so good for anything else.
Remember, I live in a mobile home; I'm not terrified by storms, but I do give them a little more thought than I used to; in the old house, I'd say to myself, "This house has stood for a hundred years."  Then I'd feel better,
While lying in bed listening to the rain beat against my home, a song came to mind, one that I originally heard sung by a Gospel group, the New Horizons, at church.  It spoke to me at that time (1993) because Cliff didn't have a job and my son was fighting in Desert Storm.
This version is VERY country, and VERY Christian.  You have been warned.  I'd hate to lure anyone into something they don't want to hear or see.

Ride out Your Storm

You've been in this storm....It seems like forever..
And your night of Confusion..Has been OH so long...
Your Ship has lost anchor...And the storms got your drifting..
Just Hold on to Jesus..And Ride out your storm..

(CHORUS) Ride out your storm...GOd's right there with you..
Oh you may not feel him...But you're not alone...
You're hurting now...But your morning is coming..
Just hold on to Jesus...And ride out your storm....

Remember his promises..He said I'll never forsake
Though the waters are troubled...They'll do you no harm..
Don't give up the battle ...For your answer is coming...
Just hold on to Jesus ..And Ride out your storm... 

I hate to post lyrics without adding the name of the person who wrote it, but I couldn't find that information.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Detours and gravel roads

For some reason, the state of Missouri has decided to replace bridges on every state road that exists; I don't know if it has to do with stimulus funds from the past or what, but we can't go anywhere using the normal route.  If we want to pick up prescriptions or see our doctor in Oak Grove, there's a detour that makes the trip take about twice as long as usual.  How about heading east to Lexington?  Oh no, the scenic route has been closed for months; and when they get that fixed, they'll close 24 and reroute traffic through the middle of our little town, population 780.  Of course, they're going to do this when the Wellington Fair is taking place.  Nice way to totally ruin a fair that's been having problems staying afloat as it is.  
Need to go west, to Independence or Buckner?  That's usually a straight shot, taking 224 to 24 highway, but not now:  We have to cut through the country on the gravel roads I used to frequent with my horse, Blue:  dusty, narrow, hilly roads.
But that isn't all bad, because it jogs some happy memories.
I point out spots that Blue and I enjoyed, telling Cliff about the horses we saw around the countryside.  I show him the groves that were thick enough for me to hide in when I needed to take potty breaks, Blue patiently nibbling at leaves or weeds.  I show him the road where, if I let go of the reins and gave Blue his "druthers", he'd turn and take the quickest route home.
The whole countryside is more meaningful to me because of my adventures with Blue.  Now remember, I don't drive, never have.  So it isn't like I had the opportunity to explore back roads in a car, like most folks would; but I spent hours on those roads at the speed of a Foxtrotter's gait, noticing things you'd never have time to see, speeding by in a car.  
I've heard so many people who have horses say they need somebody to ride with or they don't enjoy riding.  Not me! I loved the solitude of riding alone, just me and my horse; I actually preferred it that way.  Of course, as Cliff always says, if I threw a party and invited all my friends, I could hold that party in a phone booth.  I'm a loner, and always will be.  
Cliff listens to me drone on about my backroad adventures with Blue and says, "I'm glad you had your horse; I sure did worry about you, out here all alone."
He needn't have worried.  Blue knew he was babysitting an old lady who never learned to ride properly.
So, while the detours because of all this bridge-building (no wonder Modot is going broke) are a nuisance, I've enjoyed the memories I made with my perfect horse, Blue.

On another note, yesterday Cliff and I put up some new electric fence in order to allow the horses to have a little fresh grazing.  I was on the tractor, unrolling the wire, and Cliff thought the world needed a picture of me driving.  So here you have it, me driving the John Deere.  Notice how I manage to go right between those trees without hitting them?  Impressive, right?  

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I still have it!

I spoke rashly the other day when I made the statement, "Of all the things I've lost, I miss my enthusiasm the most."  
How easily some things are overlooked!  

2nd iris of the year, a red one.
Every morning when I go out at the crack of dawn to check on the blooming and growing things, I find my enthusiasm.  How exciting it is to see a huge bloom on an iris that has never bloomed here before!  Or to walk beside the garden and realize the potatoes need to be hilled and know we'll be having peas and new potatoes in no time.  
The hummingbirds are back full force now, fighting amongst one another like so many wayward siblings.  I can't look at them without smiling.  
A loudmouth male oriole has been hitting the hummingbird buffet several times a day, and yesterday I noticed he had a girl friend who was enjoying the grape jelly I put out for them.  One thing about that male oriole:  He can't seem to keep his mouth shut when he's enjoying his grub, and I can hear him squawking no matter what room I'm in, with the windows open.  Folks, this is exciting stuff!  The trouble is, orioles are very skittish, so I can't make any sudden moves or noise inside the house or they fly away.  You should see me, turning off lights and sneaking like an idiot to the window to watch them.  
And then there's Jody, my calf.  She's eating grain and chewing her cud and grazing, apparently past the danger of scours now.  I won't worry about her while I'm in the hospital next week; I think she's outgrown the need for an hourly poop inspector.  All I have to do is have someone feed her while I'm gone.  
Yesterday I noticed that the same people from whom I purchased Jody have eight more heifers for sale; their Craigslist ad gave me information about my calf that I didn't have before:  
Jersey/holstein cross heifer bottle calves. Last 8 heifer calves of the season available Monday afternoon. Straight from a grass based dairy where the cows are producing 10,000 lbs milk with 5% fat test on just 1 lb of grain per day. If you are looking for a nice heifer to raise as a family cow, now is the time to buy!
*Most of the bull calves are spoken for, but if you want one to raise along with a heifer we can sell you one for $120.
Heifers are $275 and bulls are $120 each. Cash only, Please. 
Now I know more about Jody's past, and my enthusiasm once again rises to the surface.  
I read the ad to Cliff, and he sounded enthusiastic too.  "But I hate to get another one without you being here to take care of it and watch it next week," he said.  
I told him I don't want another calf right now.  For one thing, we'd have to make another pen; if you put two bottle calves in a pen together they suck on any bodily part of one another they can get to, usually the naval area or the little immature udders (which can ruin a milk cow's udder in the future).  But here's the thing:  one calf is a pet.  I can spoil her and halter-train her and thoroughly enjoy her.  More than one calf starts turning into a job.  
Jody is already part of the herd; ever since I got her, Bonnie and Clyde make it their business to come right up close to her pen to lay down and chew their cuds; cows are not loners, and they have already accepted Jody as one of them.  
So yes, I do have enthusiasm.  I just take it for granted and forget I have it sometimes.  I may be soured on the human race, but God's handiwork never leaves me bored.

Monday, May 09, 2011


... and the living is clammy.  We slept with the windows open and the ceiling fan on in the bedroom, and it was still uncomfortably warm for sleeping.  There are predictions for highs in the 90's this week.  Good ole Missouri.   

my first iris of the year
We went for another motorcycle ride yesterday.  Today is the monthly sale at Cook Tractor in Clinton; they're open for a few hours on Sunday to accommodate people bringing items in for sale, so Cliff figured we'd ride down there and he could look over all the junk used tractors and old machinery at his leisure.  I took my Nook along, found a suitable John Deere with a comfy seat and a canopy for shade, and read my current book, "The Foremost Good Fortune", another excellent true story; you can see a trailer of the author talking about her book HERE.  
Before going to Cooks, we wanted to find a Subway so we could split a foot-long sub for dinner.  After driving around for twenty minutes searching in vain, we stopped at a Casey's convenience store where the clerk gave Cliff easy directions to Subway.  We asked the folks there for the location of the nearest city park, and that's where we ate, enjoying the diet Cokes I had taken along, packed in ice.  Then we were off to look at the tractors.  
When we arrived at Cooks, Cliff found out his cell phone was gone.  Normally he wears overalls and the phone is tucked safely into the bibs; yesterday, though, he wore jeans, and had the phone clipped to his waist.  Somewhere in our travels it had fallen off.  Cliff was absolutely frantic.  I explained to him that we were due for an upgrade anyhow.  He was afraid he'd have to get a new number if he didn't have his sim card (I'm sure T-mobile could have given him his same number).  I suggested we try calling his cell from mine; maybe somebody had found it and they'd answer.  Nobody did.  Of course, we had no way of knowing when or where the phone had been lost; it might be laying along the highway someplace.  
So, Cliff went looking at tractors and I read my book.  When we were getting ready to head home, he asked for my phone so he could try calling his cell one more time.  When I got it out of my purse, I saw I had a message from the oldest grandson:  "Grandma, I called Grandpa and didn't get an answer; then I got a return call from his phone and I answered, 'Hello, Grandpa,' and a lady's voice said, 'This isn't your grandpa, this is Casey's South in Clinton.'"
The day was saved, and Cliff was happily reunited with his cell phone.  What a close call that was!  
My new calf, Jody, is eating a lot of grain now and seems to know her name.  I'm not sure, maybe she just knows my voice, but when I step onto the front porch and call, "Jody," she gets up and comes running to my end of the pen.  She also knows me from other people; my granddaughter got in the pen with her and she was scared of her!  I guess that surprises me because cows aren't all that bright, and I figured she'd think any two-legged creature might be a source of milk for her.  

Tyler, the young man next door with cancer, has not received the best of news; cancer is in lymph glands, and he's scheduled to receive such a strong dose of chemo that his hair will fall out, they told him, the same day.  It really bothers him that he's going to lose his hair; he'd like to just hide out until it grows back.  With any form of cancer, there's always that slim chance, that small percentage of people who become survivors.  I try to keep that fact in mind and not be pessimistic.  Those who pray, please remember to do so for Cliff's "little buddy" who helped him haul hay when the hay bales were heavier than he was.  

I believe that's Tyler on the right; back then I had difficulty telling the twins apart, but Tyler was always the heavier of the two.  Judging by the rounder face, I'd say that's him.  Their cousin, Ryan, is next to Cliff.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Oh what a beautiful morning

Honestly, it was all I could to to keep from bursting out in song as I walked around the yard this morning.  The sun is shining and it's a perfect day.  I took a brief video of Jody playing after she got her belly full; One of the best things about having a baby animal of any kind around is watching them having fun.

I consider Jody part of my mother's day package of gifts from Cliff, by the way.  I'm still enjoying the Crimson King maple tree he got me last year... a gift that keeps on giving. 

See, there in the distance?  It's a good-sized tree, considering we only got it a year ago.  

The trunk lists to the right a little, but that doesn't bother me.  

We had a nice motorcycle ride to Sedalia yesterday and our catfishing neighbor brought us a gallon freezer bag of catfish.  So all in all, it's a great day to be alive.

I've found out robins are the culprits who have destroyed my little tomato plants by eating the leaves off them.  Here's something funny:  I have a woodpecker with a sweet tooth; he's indulging in the nectar in the hummingbird feeder!  

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A question from a reader

Here's Nita's question: "I know you probably have explained this before but was wondering exactly how your reader works. I remember you saying you had bought some time for it and used it when your home pc was down. How does that work? Buying time? Using while on the bike trips etc?"
Nita, I have a Nook reader, which does nothing but allow me to read books I either buy or check out from the library.  That's all it is:  a reader.  
What you're talking about is my Apple Ipad.  Now, there's a Nook app for it, so I really would not have needed to buy my Nook; but to tell you the truth, I like reading books on the actual Nook much better than using the app on the Ipad.  I enjoy sitting outside to read when the weather is good; I also like to read stories to Cliff as we travel in the car.  The backlit screen of the Ipad (just like a computer) doesn't work very well with outdoor lighting.  

The Ipad is a computer, although its functions are limited; it's a bigger version of the Iphone, without the phone, if you've ever seen one of those.  It's probably the most expensive toy I've ever bought; but hey, I never ask for fancy clothes or shoes or jewelry.  Just an occasional cow or calf or computer.  
If we're on the road, I can subscribe to either unlimited Internet use for a month, or for a cheaper price, I can buy a limited amount of Internet time.  I can do this directly from my Ipad.  (Click HERE for a better description of what I'm talking about.)  If we happened to be traveling and stopped at a motel with free wi-fi, there would be no need to pay for time, because I'd use wi-fi for my Ipad, just as I do here at home.   
Just to satisfy my curiosity, I did buy the cheaper plan for $14.95 for one month; I wanted to make sure there was no way I'd be stuck with a monthly payment, and I wanted to see if the limited plan would be sufficient for me.  I had fun taking my Ipad along in the car and surfing as we traveled.  One warning:  You have to tell them you're done before your thirty days are up, or they'll automatically give you another months worth of Internet and charge your credit card.  I made a note on my calendar and unsubscribed with only twelve hours left.  I unsubscribed directly from the Ipad.  
The new Ipad 2 is 4G, but mine is 3G.  It's slow... almost as slow as our old dial-up connections.  But it does get you on the Internet very nicely.  
I hope this answers your questions.  

Friday, May 06, 2011

Oh, about my tomatoes

I think there might be one tomato plant left of those I started in the house.  It isn't cutworms getting them, after all; I only wish I knew what it was.  Something is eating all the leaves off the tiny plants... every leaf!... and leaving only the stem standing.  The expensive plants I bought, so far, are faring OK.  Perhaps God is telling me I don't need to can tomatoes this year, since I'm having surgery.  Whatever.  Aldi's canned tomatoes are still forty-nine cents a can, so I'll just buy those; the way prices are skyrocketing everywhere, I'd better hurry up and get them.  
Jody is doing fine; hopefully she has adjusted to the change, from real milk at her previous home to milk replacer here.  Everything looks as it should this morning, and she ate grain and then frolicked and bucked and played for about five minutes.  
In my early days of calf raising I used raw eggs and Pepto-Bismal and Kaopectate and all sorts of other home remedies and human medicines, when scours hit.  When I began raising twenty-five to fifty calves per year, though, I started using more modern remedies.  I get really good anti-scours pills from the vet, and I buy electrolyte solutions to mix with water and give them in place of milk when they're sick; if I'd stayed with the home remedies, half my calves would have died.  As it worked out, the only calves I ever lost through the years were the ones that were already sick when I got them (from a sale barn).  Sale barn calves are a risky business.  Jody came to me straight from a dairy farm.  

You can't go home again... much

Yesterday I had Cliff go past some areas of Blue springs that I mentioned in my last blog entry.  All this may be boring to most of my readers, but it helps me remember how and where things used to be.  

As I mentioned, Adams Dairy has been out of business for a long time, but the name can be found all over Blue Springs.  The building you see was the milk processing plant:  same building, but much remodeled, and it's occupied by a title company now.  Milk from various dairies was processed there up until the seventies, I believe.    

Although the Adams Dairy farm, across the road from this, was standing back in the sixties, there were no cows there in my memory; that part of the Adams operation had ceased at some time in the fifties.  However, Mr. Adams pastured some Hackney show ponies there.  Cliff and I saw him several times at the Missouri State Fair, riding in the little cart behind his ponies.  He must have been at least ninety years old the last time we saw him.  

 If you drive past the place where the Adams Dairy home was located, you'll see the back of this Walmart.  Yes, it was raining.  

This is where my dad went to work when my parents moved to Blue Springs.  The building has been added onto, and much remodeled.  Oh, and the Alton name hasn't been on the sign for many, many years.  

We drove by what used to be the Gilkey place, the property my parents rented and where they milked cows and raised gardens.  It's still vacant, although a lot of dirt has been moved around on it.  Across the road where my parents first moved when they relocated to Blue Springs, you can see the back of a shopping center which includes the Target store where my oldest granddaughter works.   
We went home by way of Bates City, since there are bridges being replaced on our normal route.  We hadn't had any Bates City Barbecue for a long time, so we went in and got ourselves a sandwich.  It isn't the best barbecue you'll ever eat, but it's good enough.  

Whenever we're in Bates City, Cliff drives very slowly past this house.  See that 1650 Oliver tractor?  Cliff bought it from a friend of his brother's, played with it awhile, and then sold it on Craigslist.  He always laughs when he looks at the tractor because that old man lives in town; the tractor appears never to have been moved.  The guy used to farm, and he told Cliff he just missed having a tractor around.  So there it sits, a big (rather expensive) yard ornament.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Jody's name

A reader commented that she loved my calf's name, Jody.  Therein lies a story.
In 1962, the corrugated box plant (Alton) where my dad was employed moved from North Kansas City, Missouri, to Blue Springs.  At that time, Blue Springs was a small town east of Kansas City, not the metropolis it's become today.
My parents bought a house just outside the city limits of the little town, about a half-mile up the road from Adams' Dairy.  There was a rental property across the road that belonged to a retired doctor in Kansas City, a Dr. Gilkey, who had bought it as an investment.  The old two-story house there was occupied by various renters for a long time; the surrounding pasture that went with the property sat vacant most of the time, except for a brief period when a man rented it for his horses.  
Finally both the house and pasture became available to rent, and my parents sold their house and moved across the road to the Gilkey place.  They were renters once again, but they had a wonderful back-to-the-land period in their lives.  Daddy put out huge gardens, with my mother canning, drying, and freezing everything she could possibly raise.  A local butcher, Richard Dent, told them they could have his three-quartered Holstein cow to milk if they would supply his family of six with milk.  
I think the half-angus calf this Holstein gave birth to was Jody, one of the cows we eventually bought from my parents.  
One of my mom's Avon customers had a couple of bred dairy heifers they had raised from babies, and my parents bought them:  Their names were Beauty and Suzy; Beauty was Guernsey, and Suzy was some sort of mix of Guernsey, Jersey, and/or Brown Swiss.  
Those two cows also gave birth, and there must have been some others around, too.
Because I remember why my mother named that group of calves as she did.  
Her favorite TV show that year was "A Family Affair", starring Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot.  So she named the calves that year after the characters:  Uncle Bill, Mr. French, Buffy, and Jody.  
On the show, Jody was a little boy, but my mom paid no attention to that, and named the Holstein cow's little black heifer Jody.   
The first milk cow we bought from my parents was Suzy; the second was Jody.  
I named my new calf Jody just for these memories, because she bears no resemblance to the first Jody at all.  

That old Gilkey place still sits empty, growing weeds.  It has to be worth a fortune, and I can't help wondering who owns it and why they've never sold it during a real estate boom and made millions.   Hmmm, we're going to Blue Springs today.  Maybe I'll take a picture or two.  
Oh, and Adams' Dairy is no more, but all over Blue Springs you will find roads and housing additions and shopping plazas with "Adams Dairy" incorporated into their names.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Breakfast with Jody

Last night when I went out to feed Jody her bottle, I saw she had diarrhea (scours).  I came back to the house, dumped the milk replacer down the sink, and filled the bottle with electrolyte solution... that's like Pedialite for calves.  She showed no other signs of being sick, and took the bottle eagerly.  I also gave her a scours pill.  Calves can go down fast when they have diarrhea; these precautions were probably unnecessary, but I like to be on the safe side.

This morning I watched Jody for quite awhile for any signs of sickness, and then gave her milk replacer in her bottle.  Often, right after calves get their bellies full is when their bowels move, so I hung around for a poop check.  Nothing happened, which is a good thing.  Then Jody headed toward her feeder and started eating sweet feed.  Another good sign.
I have an ongoing battle with sparrows.  They descend on the calf's feeder and eat like crazy, pooping and contaminating as they eat.  So for now, I've been covering the feed unless the calf is actually in eating mode, or unless I'm nearby.  Have I mentioned that I hate sparrows?
The more grain a calf eats, the less likely she is to get scours.

Jody is doing very well with eating grain, for her age... under two weeks old.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

The elephant next door

You know how folks refer to "the elephant in the room," right?  It's that topic, problem, or person about which everyone is aware, but that nobody wants to admit to or discuss.  We all have at least one, don't we?  
I'm pretty liberal with pictures taken on our property.  This is a wonderful place to be, especially since we moved back here into the trailer house.  Especially this time of year.  
However, I do a lot of picture-editing.  There's a house next door, built only three or four years ago, that I crop out of many pictures.  I removed it from the right-hand side of my new header picture, as a matter of fact.   
Why?  Well, the siding is blowing off the backside of it, for one thing.  Oh, and the yard is bare dirt.  No grass has ever grown there; if weeds get too tall, it is bladed it back to bare dirt.  Areas just across the fence from us are covered by very tall weeds.  
We bade goodbye to one such elephant when we got rid of the old rental trailer.  There is no remedy for this one.  Thank goodness for the ability to crop pictures. 
If you ever wondered why zoning laws are enacted, you can stop wondering:  Now you know.  

Speaking of elephants, Clyde is steadily growing.  Sometimes I'm asked, "Isn't he old enough to wean?" 
Of course he is, but if I weaned him I'd either have to milk twice a day (you've GOT to be kidding) or dry up the cow and buy my milk (I really like our raw milk, even though we don't use much).  Clyde takes care of the milk until I need some; then I remove him from his mommy overnight and milk Bonnie in the morning.  I milk once or twice a week.    
I've been asked, "Won't his mother wean him?"  
I have never yet seen a cow that would wean her calf by her own choice, but maybe it has happened somewhere, sometime.  Sir Loin, Bonnie's last calf, nursed until we hauled him away at the age of one year.  
Clyde will nurse until the end of June; then we'll take him straight to the butcher shop and Bonnie can rest for a few weeks until she has her next calf, around mid-August.  During that time, we'll buy our milk.  By the way, I love to milk cows!  I just don't want to have to do it every day.  

Until that time, Clyde remains his mommy's baby.  

Ideally, I'd love to wean Clyde now and put the new calf (Jody) on Bonnie; however, that would require a separate pen with a source of water for Clyde, and that's just too much trouble.  So I'm feeding Jody store-bought milk replacer.  

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Tasting the world

We all know how babies are about putting things in their mouths.  Jody (yes, I changed the spelling) is no different.  After all, how is a baby going to know what tastes good if she doesn't try new things?  

This baby has tried hay, chewing two strands of it thoroughly.  Unlike older cows, she has to chew; she isn't a ruminant until she is able to chew her cud.  Once she can do that (probably within a couple of weeks), she'll swallow her food without chewing and regurgitate it later for more thorough processing.

  Grass is pretty tasty.  

Gates, not so much, but she gave it several tries.  

Same thing goes for fences.  

I'm sure she'd taste Iris too, if she could get to her.  

Cliff and I built a nice little pen for Jody, and hauled up my last remaining usable calf hutch for shelter.  She's located where I can see her from the kitchen window and also from the window next to my recliner.  

She seems to like her new home just fine.  It's interesting the way baby calves will seek out a hidey-hole; you don't have to force them into a shelter.  They find it on their own.  They feel safe when hidden away from general viewing.  
We constructed the pen out of old hog-panels, giving her plenty of room to run and play.  When she's weaned and big enough to run with the other cows, we'll take the pen down.  

We think Jody must be 3/4 Jersey and 1/4 Holstein; all the 1/2 Holsteins we've ever seen were black-and-white spotted, with perhaps a tinge of brown in the black areas.  She is larger than most purebred Jersey heifers, bigger-boned and coarser; but she has all the coloring of a Jersey.