Thursday, June 30, 2011

Missing dog

Cliff's sister, who lives next door in our old house, has a little mini-dachshund named Angel that is her life. The sun rises and sets in that little dog, as far as she is concerned; I fully understand that.  Angel is a loving little creature who never met a human she didn't like.  
Rena has spoiled Angel a little, but don't we all do that with our dogs?  So sometimes, Angel has selective hearing.  Every once in awhile Rena will lose track of her, and wander all over the place shouting, "Angel, COME!" "Angel, COME!"
Angel, knowing full well how much she is loved, acts a little bit like a spoiled child; being a hound, she goes off sniffing the trail of some nocturnal creature, ignoring her master.  
But she's never far away.  
Rena's son has lived with her for the past year or so, and for the past three weeks, his three kids have been visiting.  So while Rena goes to work, they are in charge of Angel.  
Today I looked out my window a couple of times and saw Mike's kids strolling around my yard.  
Mighty peculiar.  
A couple hours later I went to the mailbox and all three of his kids were outside calling for Angel.  
"Is Angel gone?" I asked.  
Indeed she was, and had not been seen for quite a while.  The kids had been all the way to the end of our dead-end road calling for her and hadn't seen hide nor hair of her.  
"That's strange," I said.  "She does disappear sometimes, but she's never very far away." 
I knew there was no way that little dog would disappear for two hours.  No way.  Of course, she's a cute little thing, so if someone found her at their door, he might let her in.  But honestly, she never even went as far as a neighbor's house.  Usually if she's missing, she can be found in the barn lot eating cow poop.  
Oh yes, you can take the dog out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the dog.  
I joined the search, because I was actually starting to worry a bit.  I knew if Rena got home from work and found her dog missing, she would be a basket case.  That dog, as I said, is her life.  
I turned and headed toward home.  When I turned, I was staring right at Cliff's shop; a little light turned on in my brain.  
"Is it possible she got shut in Cliff's shop?  Because that's happened with Iris a few times."
"I'll get the key," Mike said.  
As soon as the door to the shop opened, Angel came running out.  I'm sure she was thinking, "What kind of idiots lock me in the shop and then walk around calling for me?"
So all is well at the Wood commune, and we can sleep soundly tonight.

Cliff's last day at work

This afternoon when Cliff clocks in at work, it will be his last day:  He took one of his vacation days for tomorrow, and one for next Tuesday.  This allows him to collect holiday pay for July 4.  
His co-workers had a little barbecue and party in his honor last night.  

How about that cake?  

We only decided a few months ago that he should retire, and now the big day is here.  I have said it before and I'll say it again:  If anybody deserves to retire, it's Cliff.  He was fourteen when he got his first job throwing newspapers out of a station wagon.  When I met him in 1965, he was working at a metal plating shop in Kansas City.  In 1968 he started working part-time for the Country Butcher Shop, and that soon became his full-time job.  He loved being a butcher, although that occupation is the chief cause of the arthritis that now plagues him.  
Work at the butcher shop began dwindling; fewer people were raising their own meat, and Cliff saw the writing on the wall.  I think he went from there to R.B. Rice for three years, until they closed it down.  Then he drove all the way to Marshall, Missouri, to work at a hog butchering facility.  It's the only job he's ever had that he absolutely hated, and he quit just one week shy of a year there.  Then he worked at concrete construction for a couple of guys who were the sons of the owner of the butcher shop where he used to work.  The concrete construction job was hard work, and dangerous, but Cliff loved being outside where he could enjoy the seasons.  
Eventually the brothers disbanded their company, but one of them stayed in the business and Cliff worked for him for awhile, until the time came when there wasn't enough to keep him working steadily.    
I don't remember the exact order in which all these jobs came into Cliff's life, but I do recall each and every one.  He found some sort of pleasure in every job he's ever had except for the one at Marshall.
At some point, jobs dried up everywhere and Cliff drew unemployment.  During this time, I was milking cows and raising baby calves with their milk.  Cliff started helping a local dairy farmer who paid him for his work with Holstein and Brown Swiss bull calves, which I raised.  When the calves were six months old or so, we'd take them to the sale barn.  This really helped out as a supplement to Cliff's unemployment checks.  Cliff, meantime, who had always wanted to be a farmer, got to do some real farming for once in his life.  
A neighbor next door worked at Continental Disc in Liberty; He tried to get Cliff a job there, but the place required a high school diploma:  Cliff had quit school in his junior year.

So in 1993, he went to GED school in the evenings; one Saturday afternoon while he was in the middle of making a pen for my brood sow (yes, I had hogs), his diploma arrived in the mail.  
Our neighbor who worked at Continental Disc had a friend, Velma, who was instrumental in getting Cliff hired.  We owe her a lifelong debt of gratitude for helping someone she didn't even know at the time.  So Cliff was working at his dream job, getting frequent raises, enjoying the first health insurance coverage we'd had in years, and actually getting paid vacations.  We were living high on the hog.
Cliff has always called that place his "retirement villa" because the work is not physically demanding; he figured he could hold down a job there until he died.  
And then this year I convinced him that he needs to experience retirement.  
So here we go, on a new adventure.  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Lack of communication?

After my total knee replacement, I had two weeks of in-home therapy; then I was sent to a therapy center, where I was truly challenged for awhile.  On my second visit there, I asked my therapist, Micah, if I should continue doing the exercises I had been doing at home.  
"Only if they challenge you," he replied.  
Well, compared to what he was making me do, those old exercises were pretty darned easy, so I took that as permission to stop them.  
I had my last session with Micah on Monday.  He had me choose a "graduation gift"; I selected a T-shirt with plenty of advertisement for them, and was on my way.  At no time did he instruct me in exercises to continue at home.  
I saw Dr. Strong today.  My X-rays looked great, she said.  She noticed that my knee was swollen and I told her it had been that way for three days, probably because I'd been going on forty-minute walks with Cliff.  She suggested taking Ibuprofin and said maybe I should skip the walk for a couple of days, and then start out with a twenty-minute walk and work up slowly.  
I could see she was about done with me, so I asked her two questions.  
First, is it OK if I kneel on the new knee?  Most people say you are not supposed to get down on your knees after this surgery.  
Surprise, surprise.  She said as long as I let myself down easily and didn't fall down on the kneecap, it was fine.  Hard surfaces might not be so great without a cushion, but outside, for instance on grass or soil, would be fine.  If you fall down hard on the kneecap, it could break, she told me.  
Question number two:  Are there any exercises I should continue to do at home?  
"Didn't the therapist show you what you are supposed to do at home?"  
She actually seemed a little angry, so rather than say, "No," I said, "Oh, well I can do all that stuff they had me doing there".  
I liked my therapist and didn't want to get him in trouble.  
"OK, then continue with those," she said.  
So here's where people fall through the cracks.  If I had not asked, nobody had told me to continue doing exercises and I would have assumed I was through.  Dr. Strong figured the therapist had taken care of the situation, and I guess Micah thought the doctor would instruct me.  
So I got home and found a website with several post-TKR exercises, some of which are supposed to be continued for six months.  
And they wonder why people don't follow through on these things!  
I have to thank a Blogger and Facebook friend for mentioning to me yesterday that I would still have to do therapy at home; thanks, Deb!  If not for you, I wouldn't have quizzed the doctor about it and would have paid the price on down the road.  

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cutting costs

We've been with T-Mobile ever since Cliff got his first cell phone.  In order to cut costs, we recently stopped service on our land line because we were using our cell phones all the time anyhow.  
With Cliff's retirement approaching, I've been looking at more ways to make all our bills cheaper.  We had two of Cliff's sisters on our T-Mobile account, so we had them get their own account a while back.  That trimmed twenty bucks off the total, but our bill was still $84 monthly.  That's too much.  
I called customer service and asked if there was any way we could trim the bill further.  The lady told me we could cut our minutes down to 750 instead of 1,000 and that would save us $10.  OK, that would make it $74; still not acceptable, in my opinion.  
However, if I do away with my phone so that Cliff is the only one with a cell phone, we could get it down to $39 monthly with 500 minutes, or $49 if we keep 750 minutes.  
I don't talk on the phone that much anyhow, and with Cliff retired, I don't see a problem with using his cell if I need to talk to someone.  
I think that's probably the best solution.

We went to see Clyde today

Look at that layer of hard fat on Clyde!  Cliff and I have finally figured out how to get good beef:  Butcher a calf by the time he's a year old (Clyde was ten months) and leave him sucking Mom's milk until we take him to the butcher shop.  He never had anything but milk and grass except for a rare bite of sweet feed, and a few protein bars in the winter.  
Tomorrow they'll turn him into burger, roasts, and steaks, and by next Monday we'll bring him home.  We found a cheap used deep freeze, so we won't be having to give any of that good meat away just to make room.  I have, however, offered some of last year's ground beef to the grandson for a very reasonable price.  

After checking out our beef, we went down to the Sni, where the water is touching the new bridge.  The Sni Mini Mart folks are preparing for the worst in case the floodwaters threaten them. 

Then we went to the Corp of Engineers park and watched the rising water of the Missouri River rush past.

Monday, June 27, 2011

I'd rather stand in the rain with you than to be in the barn alone.

These animals have been standing in close proximity for at least two hours, since before daybreak.  The thunder and lightning and rain have been intense.  Each animal has a sheltered place where she could go, but then they wouldn't be together.  
Bonnie and Jody aren't related.  It's just that, in times of stress, the herd instinct kicks in (this is our entire herd).  An electric fence separates them, but that doesn't stop them from being a herd.  They turn away from the prevailing winds and simply ride out the storm together.  

I can almost hear them singing "Stand By Me".  

Sunday, June 26, 2011

This shows how much I know about engines

In the post about the engine that originally powered the electricity for the city of Odessa, I called it a steam engine.  
If I'd stopped to think about it, I know better.  Steam engines are quiet.  
Oh well, hats off to Cliff, who got out of bed and read my blog and patiently said, "Hon, that's not a steam engine."  
Thus saving half my readers from being misinformed, and the other half from laughing themselves silly at my stupidity.
If I'd been closer to him when he found the error, he'd have patiently patted me on my silly little head.

THIS is a steam engine.

Jody's New Digs

We've moved Jody from the front yard to the back, giving her a huge amount of grazing area.  Cliff went to a lot of trouble to fix the area up "just right", and Jody seems to love it.  She only stops eating long enough to lie down and chew her cud.  Because this is such a large area, it won't end up stinking like a feedlot, which is what happened with her original pen.  

This is my view from the window next to my computer.  I love it!  If I say something to her, she'll perk her ears up listening.

I stood in the back yard to take this picture of Jody's house, at the far end of her new pen.  I told you it was a big pen!  

 There she is having breakfast; the electric wire that defines the limits of her new pen is not far beyond the feed bunk.  

Cliff put two strands of electric wire up, just in case Jody tried running through it before she discovered it could shock her.  Fortunately, she had some exposure to a small length of electric fence in her last abode behind the barn, and she had learned her lesson well; she stopped about 18 inches away from this electric fence and never went nearer.   

The one thing lacking in this new pen was shade, so Cliff fashioned a nice big shaded area from things he had on hand.  This seems to be where Jody is going to hang out, even when the sun isn't shining.  

Can you see Bonnie in the distance?  She'll be grazing in this vicinity often, because cows are herd animals, and this is all the "herd" we have, now that poor Clyde has been butchered.  

Tractor show at Adrian Missouri

We watched a huge diesel engine at work that once supplied the city of Odessa, Missouri, with electricity.  (Ignore the title on the video, which says "steam engine".)

Hopefully, if you click on this picture you'll be able to read the story of the steam engine.  

My knee and my overall physical strength were much better than a week ago when we went to a different tractor show.  I was able to cover the whole area with Cliff; of course, I had my cane-chair, so I was able to sit while he circled the tractors. 

 This is a nicely restored Minneapolis-Moline tractor.  

That's the same model as this tractor, the one Cliff bought from my parents after we bought our twenty acres.  The picture was taken in 1967; that's Cliff and my son.  

Reading his shirt, I'd say this boy is a confirmed Farmall fan.  He was waiting patiently for the Parade of Power to begin.  

And there he goes in the parade, proudly displaying his fine old Farmall tractor.  Cliff and I laughed at how all the boys kept their eyes straight ahead, never looking to the left or right.  

Some boys like green tractors better.  This little guy needed some help from Dad.  

It's surprising how many people have gone to the trouble and expense of building, from scratch, a scale model steam engine that works just like the full-size ones.  Can you imagine how much trouble that would be, and how much time it would take?  

I have more pictures, but I'll save them for another entry.  

Friday, June 24, 2011

Various things

This is why I love the window hummingbird feeders:  I stand inside as still as possible, like a statue, and within minutes I get a nice shot of a hungry hummer.  It would help if I'd wash that window!  

There was thunder to the south of us earlier, enough to make Iris head for the safety of the bathtub, and enough to create a lovely sunrise.  
Someone expressed surprise, after reading the previous entry and watching the video, that Iris reacted to dogs on TV even when they weren't making any doggie-noises.  I'll tell you a better one than that:  Iris has been known to react to a still picture of a cat or dog on TV that has no movement whatever!  In the evening she curls up across the room and watches the TV for any excuse to attack; believe me, she seldom misses an opportunity.   
I am finally back to my normal energy level this week.  Before surgery I gave blood for myself, in case it was needed after the knee replacement.  The doctor had me start taking iron tablets then, because she said I would need them after giving blood two weeks in a row.  In fact, she told me to take two a day, which I did.  After surgery, they kept finding out I was still anemic, so they gave me my two pints of blood and kept me on iron.  Before checking out, I was still slightly anemic, so I kept taking iron pills until the ones I had at home were gone.  Then I stopped.  
I've felt fine since surgery, but my energy level (which is never anything to brag about) was low.  Last Monday I picked up some iron pills at the drug store, thinking perhaps I shouldn't have stopped taking them when I did.  Well, either those pills really work fast or the timing happened to be such that on Tuesday I felt like my old self, and I've continued to feel fine ever since.  I've never had a problem with anemia before, so this is new territory for me.  
I had one little glitch before I went to the hospital:  Five days before surgery my doctor's office called, informing me that the pre-surgery tests had revealed a urinary tract infection.  Antibiotics were called in and I immediately started taking them, because the operation would be postponed if I had an infection of any kind.  
Several times in the past I've been plagued by bladder infections, but I always had definite symptoms.  This time I had no idea there was a problem until I got the phone call.  Of course, this caused me some concern, because here I was prepping for surgery, but I didn't know if the infection would be gone by the big day.  Thank goodness it was, although we didn't find this out until I had checked into the hospital that morning for surgery. Then things proceeded as expected.    
Things seem to be going well for me.  I'm able to meet the demands of my therapist.  I've walked our full course with Cliff twice this week.  I've done a lot of garden work, pulling up the peas and getting rid of weeds, little by little.  I have very little pain in my knee, although I can tell it is somewhat swollen after a forty-minute walk; but I think that's normal.  
We'll see what the doctor says next Wednesday.  

Meanwhile, poor Cliff is worrying himself silly about retirement.  Yesterday he said, "You know, if I changed my mind, they wouldn't have a problem with that; I could keep right on working."  
He's always worked, he's always been the provider, and he just can't imagine not going to work.  He's driving me nuts!  If anyone ever needed to retire, it's Cliff.  It's been over five years since his open heart surgery, and who knows what tomorrow will bring?  I don't want him to end up dying at work because he was afraid to retire and enjoy himself.  
Oh well, if we can get through one more week, we'll have it made.    

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Someday I'll have a normal dog

When Sadie was around, I often blogged about her manic ways.  Then I brought Iris home and found out there are many degrees of "crazy" when it comes to dogs.  The way she attacks animals, police, and people fighting on television, for instance, seems totally demented.  We grew used to having dog-snot on our TV screen.  Because it is possible to mess up a plasma TV screen, we finally figured out that the best way to keep her nose off the television was to tell her, when she charged at the TV, to get her ball.  She then watches the action, all the while growling and biting on her ball.   
She loves balls and frisbees, but left to her own devices she will do her best to destroy them.  I finally found a set of balls at PetSmart that are indestructible; as for the Frisbee, that's a game we just don't play any more.  Iris is only happy if she can destroy the flying object once she catches it.  
And then there's the way she chases shadows or flashlight beams.  She obsesses!     
Years ago, I read in a book that one of the best ways to bond with your dog is to put its bed beside your own so it's sleeping next to you.  I've always done this, and previous dogs have loved the situation; but I've given up with Iris.  Oh, I put forth a lot of effort, even resorting to snapping a leash on her collar, forcing her to sleep on the nice, comfy dog bed in the bedroom.  That was the only way she'd spend the night there.  
Now, if I wanted a heavily-shedding dog in my bed, I'm sure she would gladly have slept with me that way.  When we first got her, she wouldn't stay OFF our bed.  Unfortunately, neither Cliff nor I have a desire to have a dog sharing our bed.  So that's out.  
At one time I had three beds for Iris:  Her favorite, in a tight little corner of my computer room; one in the living room beneath the window, which she used at first but gradually moved away from; and the one I forced her to use in the bedroom.  
I finally decided that if she didn't want to sleep near me, I wasn't going to force her.  Maybe my snoring bothered her, you never know.  Once I stopped forcing the issue she immediately started spending nights in her favorite bed in the computer room, far away from our bedroom.  I put her two unused beds away.  
The closest Iris ever gets to sleeping with me is on stormy nights.  At those times, she sleeps in the bathtub of the bathroom off our bedroom.   
Crazy dog.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Post #3 for today

Perhaps this means I'm getting back to my normal self.  Not that I've ever been all that normal.  
A week ago I was considering letting Jody, the (former) bottle calf, nurse my Jersey cow, Bonnie, for two weeks.  What a ridiculous idea that was.  
The cow would have had to be dried up after two weeks to prepare for her baby due in August, so it would have only been for that two-week period.  Most likely that would have been just enough time for Jody to get used to nursing a cow instead of a bottle, and possibly would have made her more difficult to wean.  So I fed her the last of the milk replacer and then started giving her all the calf feed she could eat, which by the way is quite a bit for a little heifer.  
We've had some frequent rains, and the pen Cliff and I had constructed for her in our front yard was beginning to get pretty muddy and stinky.  So we took that pen down and moved her to the small lot behind the barn, where she has more room; she can go inside the barn for shelter there.  
Now we're eyeing an area behind our house that has some excellent grazing for a growing calf.  We're considering putting up an electric fence (she needs to be trained to an electric fence anyhow), moving her little hutch out there for shelter, and letting her graze to her heart's content.  

Cliff is a nervous wreck as retirement draws near:  He will work tomorrow and Thursday, take a vacation day Friday, work Monday through Thursday of next week and take a vacation day that Friday.  And that will be the end of his job career and the beginning of a new adventure.  
A week from tomorrow (Wednesday) I will see the orthopedist and hopefully be done with going to therapy three days a week.    

The orioles never left

A few weeks ago I did an entry entitled "Where have all the orioles gone".  I think I have solved the mystery.  
Last year when they disappeared, I stopped putting out grape jelly, figuring they had found greener pastures.  This year, after consulting Google, I learned that they aren't seen as frequently while they are nesting and raising their families.  So, just in case they were somewhere nearby, I kept putting jelly out for them.  
Once in awhile, early in the morning, I'd see one of the lovely birds out there partaking of the sweetness.  If rain came and washed all the jelly away, I'd replenish it; I realized there was still at least one male oriole and one female, because once or twice a day, they'd show up... first one, then the other.  
Now I'm seeing more of them; I'm assuming the babies are now coming for jelly, since some of the male birds aren't quite as brightly colored as others.  
So, the orioles didn't desert me at all.  They were simply busy raising a family.

Various things

First of all, I went walking with Cliff this morning and made it ALL.  THE.  WAY.!!!!  I even went down and back up the steepest hill.  This is taken before I had done any hills, and I was walking at a pretty good pace.  

Cliff wanted me to turn around and smile, so there you have it.  

This was taken near the end of our walk as I was getting ready to head to the house, and I can assure you I was walking a whole lot slower than when I started.  I don't wear shoes when we walk in the pasture unless it's below freezing outside, by the way.  

When we moved behind the barn three years ago, I planted a trumpet vine.  This year it has finally bloomed; I hope the hummingbirds enjoy it.  I know my cows enjoy eating the vine; Cliff had to put an electric fence up to keep them from destroying it.  

Have I mentioned I love coneflowers?  

This is what hail does to a cucumber vine.  It'll be all right eventually.  

Remember a while back when I told you about Tyler, the twenty-year-old kid next door with cancer?  He just had his first all-day chemo treatment yesterday, and came to report to us today.  He seems not to be too much worse for the wear so far.  I believe he said he has to have an all-day treatment once every month, but he has other chemo sessions in between that won't take so long.  Since the doctors haven't seen cancer quite like this before, they're throwing a little bit of everything at it.  I stole the above picture of him off Facebook; I figured if he's using it as a profile shot, he probably approves this pose. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Stormy nights

Indeed, it seems as though we receive a new storm every night.  Last night's offering also brought  ten minutes of small hail beating on the roof.  I don't think any damage was done to the garden, but it appears most of the petals were knocked off my Asiatic lilies.  The corn is lying down, but it'll stand back up again.   
It was around midnight when the storm hit, causing me to get out of bed to see what the racket was.  Cliff was still up at the time.  I turned on the porch light to see how big the hail was and was met by Hawkeye, my daughter's dog, standing on his hind legs and begging to be let inside; Granddaughter Natalie led him through the house to the back porch, safe from the icy assault he had been suffering.      
My daughter and her husband went to Texas for a vacation; granddaughter Monica is working at a camp, and her sister Natalie, has been staying with us since Tuesday.  

Yesterday Natalie accompanied us to a tractor show at Lathrop, Missouri.  She got points for not once griping about the heat or saying she was bored, and even more bonus points for not rolling her eyes while Cliff looked the tractors over.  I must confess my knee wasn't quite up to the walking required for a tractor show, and I sat a lot.  I guess I was rushing things.  Tomorrow it will be five weeks since surgery.       
I'd love to share the picture I took of Cliff after we got home from the show, sitting in his chair sound asleep with the laptop beneath his fingertips.  However, he was kind enough to allow me to share the picture on Facebook; I don't think I'll push my luck by putting it on my blog.  
After his little nap, Cliff and Natalie went for a motorcycle ride.  
It was a good day, all in all.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In the garden

Because of the timing of my surgery four weeks ago, weeds got ahead of me in some areas of the garden.  

For instance, look at the grass and weeds between these two rows of peas.  It hasn't been a total loss; we had a big mess of creamed peas and new potatoes once, and I've frozen a couple of packages of peas.  

Also here, between the two rows of corn.  You can't tell by the picture, but I did hoe the area on the right of these rows this morning.  I hope to get the rest of the grass hoed before rain moves in; it's predicted to hit around noon, and we may get an inch or two.  If it rains and I don't get these rows hoed, those grassy weeds will double in size overnight.  

I had been home from the hospital about two days when we received the dozen sweet potato plants I had ordered in April, so Cliff got stuck with the job of setting them out.  They seem to be doing well, but we won't know how they fare until this fall when frost threatens.  

Little by little, I'm getting the straw mulch on the tomatoes.  

The Asiatic lilies are showing off; the hibiscus and day lilies will soon have their time to bloom.  

Coneflowers will do their thing all summer.  They are such a simple, undemanding posie.  
We're getting plenty of cabbage from the garden, and it won't be long until there are enough zucchini to do something with.  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What a very peculiar Internet day

At some point after noon today, my Mac Mini decided not to connect to the Internet.  I went to the living room and got on Cliff's laptop; it connected to the Internet just fine, thank you very much.  So did my Ipad.  
I kept checking my own computer; no luck.  
A couple of hours later, I tried logging on to Cliff's computer again.  OK, now it wasn't connecting either.  
I turned off the power to our DSL modem because sometimes that helps.  Turned it back on, turned on my computer.  Nothing, on any computing device.  
So, I have about three days left on the ATT time I bought for the Ipad.  When all else fails, I have that.  
But not this time, because ATT wouldn't connect me either.  
Is there some giant piece of aluminum foil over my house that won't allow the Internet to reach me?  
A half-hour ago, I finally reached the Internet and farmed my Farmville farm.  Almost as soon as I got that done, the connection failed and I was, once again, without Internet.  Oh, but this time my Ipad connected by way of ATT.  
And now?  Everything is working.  I don't know why, and I'm not going to waste time wondering.  All I can say is this:  If you don't hear from me for a day or two, blame it on my Internet connection.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New adventure

From the time we brought Jody home six weeks ago, I've had the intentions of halter-breaking her.  Bonnie isn't broke to lead with a halter and rope, and it hasn't been a big deal; but sometimes it's really nice if you can lead your cow where you'd like her to be... for instance, to a different pen.  Or maybe you'd like to let her graze the grass in the unfenced yard.  Or, if she fails to breed, it might be handy to be able to lead her up the road a mile to the local butcher shop.  
We looked for a calf halter for a long time, and finally found one at Orcheln's.  I knew it was far too big for my little heifer, but Cliff put added holes in it so it would fasten up tighter.  
Jody is afraid of strangers, and I was afraid to compromise my new knee by trying to hogtie a calf and get a halter on her, so we hadn't begun to halter-break her yet. 
Today we took Bonnie's son, Clyde, to the butcher shop.  Now, dairy cows should be allowed from six weeks to two months dry, to rest up for the next baby.  If we dried her up today, it would be two months.  
I will run out of milk replacer tomorrow, and I was going to wean Jody, since she's eating so much grain; she would be fine with that, once she forgot what the bottle was for.  
But yet, just think how much good it would do her to have some good, rich Jersey milk twice a day for two weeks.  She would probably gain weight like crazy!  And let's not even talk about how happy she would be to be sucking on real teats instead of a rubber nipple!  
So this evening, with nobody around to help me, I decided to put the too-large halter on Jody and see if I could get her to the little lot behind the barn.

Here's how it went, but believe it or not, I got her there!

I already had Bonnie in the barn eating, so I led dragged Jody into the barn and introduced her to a teat.  
That part was easy; she grabbed right on.  I think I heard her humming, "Oh, my Mama, to me you are so wonderful..."  

Bonnie kicked at her a couple of times in protest, then went back to eating.  I guess she knew that wee little thing at her side wasn't 782-pound Clyde.  (Yes, that's how much he weighed when we checked him in at the butcher shop today.)    
I went to the other side, got my bucket, and started milking "my" two teats.  
And folks, that's as eventful as it got.  
When Bonnie seemed to have no more milk, I dragged Jody out of the barn into the lot.  I drove Bonnie to the other door that lets out into the big pasture and shut the door behind her.  Then I went out and dragged Jody back to her pen.  
If the two of them bond, I may let Jody run at Bonnie's side for two weeks.  I will have to watch closely for scours (diarrhea) because Jody isn't used to that much milk, especially rich Jersey milk.  However, she's old enough that the danger isn't all that great, even if she does have a problem at first.  Besides, I do have some pills in my possession for that problem.    
Hey, this may be the best way to halter-break a baby calf:  Let them know there is MILK at the end of the journey!

Happy anniversary

Today Cliff and I have been married forty-five years.  Wow.  Somebody in this world has been able to put up with me that long?  Unbelievable!  We were both twenty-one when we married (OK, Cliff was two days away from being twenty-one), and were such kids at the time.  Our paths led us to a life beyond the sidewalks, out in the boonies; and our love of all things rural has had a lot to do with the marriage lasting, because it's the one thing we've had in common when all else failed.  
Happy anniversary, Cliff!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Therapy pictures

First of all, I'll show you a picture I took here at home today of my scar, which is fast disappearing.  Today it's been four weeks since surgery.

The new knee is bigger than my other one, and as I understand it, always will be.  The therapist is very proud of how loose my kneecap is for some reason.  Cliff couldn't believe he could move the thing around like he did.  Whatever.  At least it didn't hurt.

As soon as I arrive at the Serc Therapy location, I warm up for five minutes on the exercise bike.  This is probably the easiest thing I do while I'm there.  I walk in without a limp, but I'm usually limping as I exit.  

Today I had to stretch this big elastic band as far as possible in all directions, not only with my surgical leg, but also the other one.  This wasn't too bad either, although it worked me pretty hard.  
My therapist's main goals are to get my knee to bend as far as possible, and to get my leg to straighten out as straight as possible.  I have the bending part pretty well handled, and Micah, my therapist, barely tortured me at all today on that score; instead, he let me torture myself.

  There's a stretchy piece of inner tube (OK, a piece of rubber) attached to my ankle, and my job is to pull the ankle as close to my buttocks as possible.  Micah threatens me to pull as far as possible, or he'll have to hurt me more.  Seriously, doesn't it seem like this would break a new artificial knee?    

After doing a few choice exercises, I lie with my ankle propped up on a towel and a weight above my knee, forcing my leg to straighten out.  Last week this hurt immensely; today, not as much.  

This HURTS!  I dare any post-knee-replacement patient to keep from groaning while the therapist leans all his weight on her knee, forcing the leg flat on the table.  I told Cliff the pain is comparable to childbirth in its intensity.  Thank goodness it doesn't last as long as giving birth.  

This is the guy whose appointment is just before mine.  I've known him longer than I've known Cliff, from the church my parents and I attended in the 60's; and Cliff worked with his wife, Joan, for many years at the Country Butcher Shop.  He told Cliff, "These guys will make tears come to your eyes."  
Amen, brother John.  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

This song is really running through my head these days

In an Appalachian, Greyhound station
She sits there waiting, in a family way
"Goodbye brother, Tell Mom I love her
Tell all the others, I'll write someday"

From an teenage lover, to an unwed mother
Kept undercover, like some bad dream
While unwed fathers, they can't be bothered
They run like water, through a mountain stream

In a cold and gray town, a nurse say's "Lay down"
'This ain't no playground, and this ain't home'
Someone's children, out having children
In a gray stone building, all alone

On somewhere else bound, Smokey Mountain Greyhound
She bows her head down, hummin' lullabies
'Your daddy never, meant to hurt you ever'
'He just don't live here, but you've got his eyes'

Repeat Chorus:

Well, they run like water,
Through a mountain stream

Meanwhile, as I sing that song in my mind, Cliff lets this episode of Cheers play in HIS mind.  About six minutes into this video comes one of Cliff's favorite quotes.  
"I knocked up Annie good."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

This and that

We have put Clyde on the schedule for butchering at the shop up the road.  Tuesday is the day we'll bid him goodbye.  I know city folks can't understand how on earth I can name an animal, watch it grow, and then eat it.  Well, the first time is somewhat difficult, until you realize those white packages of meat in the freezer look nothing like the furry animal you raised.  At this point in my life, I enjoy knowing my beef comes from an animal that had a name and a good, happy life, and was never mistreated.  
It's a little more complicated these days, since Cliff sold the pickup.  Although the butcher shop is right up the road, we'll drive about twenty miles one way to borrow a friend's pickup and livestock trailer so we can haul Clyde exactly one mile from home.  
There's the matter of freezer space:  I spotted an older chest-type deep freeze on Craigslist that's not so far from home; maybe we'll pick that one up.  We wouldn't be using it year-around, just when we first butcher.  

Yesterday was my day to go to therapy.  I swear, that man manages to hurt me more each time I see him.  It hurts so much that I absolutely cannot keep from groaning.  I told him, "Next time I'll have my camera with me so Cliff can take pictures for my blog while you're hurting me," and he said, "That's fine; I'll even smile while I'm hurting you."  
Funny man.   
Oh, I get to stop taking coumadin Monday, the four-week anniversary of my surgery.  That's a good thing; I hate taking that stuff, although I haven't had any problems with it.  
We got an inch of rain last night, so today would be a good time to mulch my tomato plants while there's moisture in the soil.  Oh, and after several days of unrelenting heat, the high temperature today is only supposed to reach the mid-seventies.  What a treat!  I was sitting here by an open window until it got too cold to suit me, and I closed it.  
Oh, good news:  the temporary loss of appetite caused by my surgery and recuperation has gotten me below 160 pounds!  Let's hope I can maintain my weight there, or even lose more; it will be much better for both my real knee and my new artificial one.  I expect to start going on our daily walk again within the coming week, although I may forgo the steepest hills at first.  I've been putting in ten minutes on the exercise bike every other day, keeping it at level five.     
Direct TV is giving us a free weekend of HBO, and we enjoyed it yesterday evening:  one we watched was a Paul Newman movie from the '90's, and the other was "Bill Cosby:  Himself", which I've seen many times.  However, it had been years since I watched it, and I laughed out loud throughout the thing.  I love Bill Cosby!  It was rather sad to hear him talk about his only son, knowing that the boy would eventually be shot and killed.  

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

State of the household entry

Before the home therapist stopped coming, he asked me, "Do you plan to have your other knee done?"  
"Not unless it gets worse than it is right now," I answered.  
"Well, if you ever do, don't expect it to go this smoothly."  
It seems I've done everything ahead of schedule, starting with my getting out of the hospital after only two nights.  
At this point twenty-three days after surgery, I don't have much pain.  I haven't taken a hydrocodone for two days, and don't plan to take another until a couple hours before I go to therapy on Friday.  Then I'll take two, because those therapists are brutal.  
Now that I'm much more active, muscles all over my body are starting to wake up and squawk; they all thought I retired them three weeks ago.  For that muscle pain, I take ordinary, over-the-counter, generic Tylenol.    
Up until yesterday I couldn't become enthusiastic about fixing meals.  I searched for any and every excuse to either eat out or have sandwiches, and I wasn't all that excited about eating, either.  Oh, I cooked, but it was a half-hearted effort.  Poor Cliff didn't complain.  I developed a craving for peanut-butter-on-whole-wheat-bread sandwiches over the past couple of weeks, and that was a frequent supper for me.  
Yesterday afternoon something stirred in me that headed me back to a more normal state of mind.  I went out and pounded four steel fence-posts in the ground for some tomato cages; I walked back on the point to see if the river bottom was flooded (it isn't... crops are growing there).  I made some Jello for Cliff (I'm not a fan of Jello), and put some pinto beans to soak overnight.  Today we had corn bread and beans for dinner.  
Yes, folks, I do believe I'm back... it's really me!  I still tire easily; there's still swelling in my knee.  But my walking speed has picked up until it's almost normal.  I even slept pretty well last night.  

Cliff, meanwhile, is anxiously awaiting retirement.  After this week, he has four weeks left to work.  We've had temperatures in the mid-nineties, and his place of employment isn't air-conditioned.  Not only that, there are ovens going that super-heat the building even more.  When Cliff had open-heart surgery, the doctors told him he wasn't to expose himself to temperatures over eighty-five degrees, but he really had no choice if he was going to work.  It will be so great for him not to have to go into that fierce heat again during the summer.  
I've been checking and double-checking our budget; we finally got the official word that Cliff will receive his first Social Security check in July, and I will get an increase in mine at that time.  Several people have told Cliff that the hardest part of living on Social Security is getting used to one payday a month.  Since I'm already using the envelope system for groceries, clothing, pet expenses and prescriptions, I don't see that anything will change that much.  When the envelope is empty, I don't buy any more until the next month.  Of course, the doctor-and-prescription envelope might have to have some help in emergencies, but we have a fund for that.  
Before my surgery, I debated whether I should ride the motorcycle again; my doctor, of course, is against it.  I've almost decided now that I probably will ride again.  When old folks buy a motorcycle, they're taking a risk every time they get on the thing, so what's one more risk?  A busted knee replacement would probably be the least of my worries.  That's where I stand on the situation today; who knows how I'll feel tomorrow.  

Things I can't blog about

I've struggled lately trying to find things to blog about; oh, there's my surgery and recuperation, but that gets boring real fast.  There's this early heat wave (not so unusual for Missouri), but everybody talks about the weather.  
As I told Cliff, I think my problem is that most of the goings-on occupying my mind right now are things I can't blog about because they concern my neighborhood; and I do make an attempt to keep negative things about my neighborhood to myself, as much as I'd love to vent sometimes.  Oh, you'd be fascinated to know the happenings around here, but I just can't share.  
So today I'll try and get my mind off those things and onto the simple pleasures of life.  I'll try really hard.

Monday, June 06, 2011

The reunion: a cow tale

Way back in April Cliff put up electric fence to keep the horses off the lush grass; he put a gate in that cows could go through, but horses could not.  Bonnie's momma didn't raise a fool, and all I had to do was lure her through the gate with a can of feed one time; from then on, she entered and exited through that gate.  
Her son Clyde, however, never figured it out.  So while his mom goes to graze the tall stuff that would founder horses, Clyde nips short grass with the horses.  
Cliff got the hay baled today, and started putting it in the barn; he'll finish that task tomorrow before he goes to work.  At some point this afternoon, I asked him, "Have you seen either of the cows?"  
"No," he answered, "but Bonnie's in one of her two cool, shady places out back, I'll guarantee you."  
"What about Clyde?  Have you seen or heard him today?"  
When Clyde starts wanting a sip of milk, he usually bellows at Mom.  She's never in a hurry, but she loves her big old baby and eventually comes up to comfort him with some nice, warm milk.  
Somewhere around four this evening, I heard Clyde bawling and breathed a sigh of relief.  The cows are alive and well.  
A couple hours later, as I was sitting in the cool of the air conditioner, I heard Bonnie bawling over and over.  This could only mean that she didn't know where her calf was.  
In case your wondering:  yes indeed... I know my cows' voices.  They sound nothing alike when they moo.  
I'm still moving around pretty slowly with my gimpy knee, but I figured I'd go call for Clyde and reunite the pair.  Then I got a thought.  
I haven't milked Bonnie since my surgery, which was three weeks ago today.  If she hadn't seen her calf since morning, perhaps there would be enough milk for me to steal some before their reunion!  I hurried into the house, set up the jar and strainer, and headed out with the milk bucket.  Sure enough, I could tell by looking at Bonnie's udder that she had plenty.  Finally, some decent milk that doesn't taste all watered down!  Maybe I'll even use some cream on our strawberries tomorrow.  
I came in with a gallon of milk in my bucket, strained it and put it away, and then went over the hill calling Clyde, who came running and bucking and bawling as fast as he could.  Bonnie was bawling back at him, but by this time she had developed laryngitis from all the vocalizing; so he couldn't hear her from a distance.  Oh, and I did leave two teats untouched for Clyde.  Not that he needs milk at this stage of his life.  

They finally got together.  Clyde only has a couple of weeks to enjoy this pleasure; then we'll either butcher him or take him to the sale barn.  If we butcher him, we're going to have to get another small freezer.  

Where have all the orioles gone?

I only spotted my first Baltimore Oriole two years ago, drinking from a hummingbird feeder.  I didn't even know what it was, but if you google "orange-and-black bird", you come up with oriole.  
Last year I read and talked to everyone I knew that had orioles in their yards and began doing whatever I could to entice them.  Grape jelly seems to work best, and they also like oranges.  This year I found out they like grapefruit just as well.  
So, both last year and this year, I was rewarded for my efforts.  Orioles, both male and female, ate the grape jelly almost as fast as I could put it out.  
After about a month of such activity, the orioles disappeared.  Both years.  
A neighbor across the highway who has only recently discovered orioles called over the weekend to ask if I was still seeing orioles.  His have disappeared too.  
I've done one Internet search after another and haven't really found any information telling me where the orioles have gone.  
UPDATE!!!!  It's 8 A.M., and I just saw TWO male orioles at the feeder.  Perhaps there is yet hope.

Today it's been three weeks since my surgery.  When I went to the therapy clinic last week, the guy told me I could stop doing the exercises my home therapists had me doing, unless they still challenge me.  Well, a couple of them do; and besides, I don't want to risk losing what I have gained so far.  So I'm still doing those twice a day, plus the ones the new therapist wants me to do.  These exercises seem to be waking up muscles in the rest of my body as well as knees and legs.  I'm learning to climb steps like an adult rather than take one step at a time with both feet the way a two-year-old does.  Hard work, folks!  
I'm still working on getting my surgical leg to straighten out all the way.  Oh, it looks straight enough to me, but stretched out in bed, it starts hurting after about five minutes.  So I force myself to keep a foot suspended on a tall stool when I'm watching TV, which really puts the stretch on me.  It's hard to keep it stretched like that for over five minutes because it hurts.  

This is my favorite pain-reliever.  Cliff keeps that little cooler stocked with ice.  I plug it in to an electrical outlet and cold water is pumped to the pad that is wrapped around my knee.  I use this for fifteen minutes at a time after doing therapy exercises, or after being on my feet quite a bit.  It is very soothing, and not addictive.  It's supposed to help with swelling, too.  I don't know how long the swelling is supposed to last, but I'm getting impatient.  I'd be a lot more flexible without my knee being so swollen.  I tried googling information about this, but one has to be careful:  You're liable to find things in a google search that you'd rather not know, if you know what I mean!  


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Things seen at my house today

I was sitting in my easy chair with my Nook, reading, when I heard Iris barking outside very close by.  I stepped out onto the porch and saw her digging up a storm just below me.  

It was a big old turtle!  

Cliff and I thought it was a snapping turtle; it certainly acted mean and surly enough to be one.  But Cliff's nephew said it's a water turtle, not a snapping turtle.  Hmmm, there's no water next to our house, but Mike said it's time for them to be laying their eggs.  I hope this doesn't mean we're going to have a bunch of nasty turtles hatching out under the porch later on.  Cliff got rid of the pest.  

The first of my asiatic lilies is blooming.  I have no idea what other colors to expect, but I look forward to finding out.  

Cliff is raking hay as I make this entry.  He and the oldest grandson restored and painted this old Farmall tractor several years ago.  Cliff likes to make sure every tractor gets used for something once in awhile.  We used to take the Farmall H to nearby tractor shows.