Sunday, September 30, 2012

This afternoon in pictures

Calf in the canyon AGAIN!

Yesterday morning I woke up around six A.M. hearing a cow bawling in the distance.  Since we are the only people within five miles who have cows, I knew it had to be Babe.  I had no doubt whatsoever that she had lost her calf in the canyon again.
I woke Cliff up and told him the situation.  I intended to wait until daylight, but he wanted to take the flashlight and tend to things immediately.  I do nothing without my morning coffee; if the house was on fire at 4 A.M., I'd go next door and ask somebody to make me some coffee.  So he did wait until we had both had our first cup of the day.
The calf was in the same spot, only with her head facing outward this time.  We are definitely going to put some kind of fence or barricade there, because if we don't we will eventually lose a grown cow in there, and they aren't as flexible as babies.  
Here's the problem:  Cows tend to follow the path of least resistance as they wander from point A to point B, and they eventually wear a trail that is very discernable... a cowpath.  It is very noticeable in a pasture with a large herd, but even my little motley crew has a few well-traveled trails that show up.

This cowpath used to be at least two yards away from the drop-off of the canyon.  Unfortunately, erosion has taken its toll over the years.

Yes, right up to the cowpath.  This is where Annie fell in.  Twice.  If she can stay out of harms way until after church, we are going to do something about this.

And now, a new video of Babe and Annie, with a special appearance by Tude, the horse.

Museum Day

The Smithsonian designated yesterday as "Museum Day":  You could print a free pass for two people to any of several museums in your vicinity.  One pass per email account.  I printed mine for the Bingham/Wagoner estate weeks ago.  Friday I realized I have two email accounts, and printed a pass for the Vaile Mansion, which is also in the city of Independence, Missouri.   
The Bingham/Wagoner tour, however, took a couple of hours, and Cliff was planning on going to a tractor pull yesterday afternoon.  So we agreed that we will do the Vaile Mansion another time, and actually pay admission.  We can probably scrape up ten bucks.  
  None of the chandeliers in any rooms are the same.  They are all set up to use either gas or electricity.

All the fireplaces are different, too.  They were made to burn coal, not wood.  

There are three floors to the mansion, and we had a different guide on each floor.  The older fellow who showed us through the first floor did an excellent job, speaking plainly, and loudly enough that my hearing-impaired husband could hear every word.  The young lady who was in charge on the second floor, however, did not speak up, and had a habit of saying "ummmmm" after every second or third word.  I wish we could have kept the first-floor guide throughout the tour.  

We had a sandwich at Hiboy for our lunch.  I had an Internet coupon for a free sandwich.  Cliff always makes me hand them the coupon; he is embarrassed to use them.  

Then we stopped at the McDonald's on 24 highway on the way home, just because they always make such HUGE ice cream cones.  

Cliff headed off to the tractor pull as soon as we got home, and didn't get home until well after midnight.  He and his brother must have had a good time!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I feel like a bad (calf) mommie

I have two bottle calves.  I call them my babies because they ARE (yes, even George, who is destined for our freezer).  If I don't feed them their bottles twice daily, they starve.  They depend on me. 
I used to raise a lot of calves, but at that time I milked four or five cows and had lots of real milk.  I never weaned my babies earlier than two months of age, and usually not even that early.  These days I am buying 25-pound bags of milk replacer at $40 per bag.  That only lasts two calves nine days.  Wow.  
Even back when I was raising so many bottle calves, the guideline for weaning was this:  When the calf is consuming 1 1/2 pounds of calf starter (a mixed grain ration for baby calves), you can wean them, no matter what their age.  A few days ago I read an article online saying that with milk replacer cost being so high, it's OK to wean a calf as young as one month old, as long as he is consuming sufficient grain.  
George is an eating machine.  But he's a BABY!  He's so LITTLE!  
However, I decided to take the advice of experts.  This morning George had a bottle.  "I am going to skip his bottle tonight," I told Cliff, "and see how it goes.  
It was so difficult for me;  if you've had children, you remember how it feels when you take that bottle away from them.
First I made sure George had plenty of calf starter in his little bunk, and I even mixed about a half-cup of dry milk replacer in with it.  I checked to see that he had water in his bucket.    
I didn't want George to see Gracie having a bottle while he was being deprived, so I fed Gracie in a different spot so that her hutch blocked George's view.  Yeah, I know.  They're animals.  Would he really know what was going on?  Probably not, but I'm human, and I don't want to watch Cliff eating an ice-cream-cone right in front of me if I can't have one.
I came to the house and looked out the window several times.  George was eating his grain.  I kept thinking I would hear his pitiful little "mooo" (which sounds a lot like "Mommy), but he only mooed once, briefly.  As I type this, he is eating grain again.  
So if most of his feed is gone in the morning, he will be officially weaned.   
There would have been pictures with this entry, but Cliff and his brother went to a tractor pull and Cliff took my camera.  He is SO getting his own camera if this happens very often!  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Not exactly what I had in mind

When I went to check on the cows this morning, Annie was having her breakfast.  I thought, "I'll bet city folks would enjoy a video of Annie nursing," and I began recording.  Thirty-nine seconds into the video, Babe began urinating.  At about the same time, a train approached the back of our property, and you'll hear that.  If you listen VERY closely, you will hear the plop plop plop of Jody, behind me, making a new cow-patty.
I could have edited the urinating-marathon out.  Feel free to only watch the first forty seconds if you like.  But I was fascinated at how long this cow went on relieving herself!  Can you imagine the size of her bladder?  As a matter of fact, I asked former butcher Cliff, "How big is a cow's bladder?"
"I don't know how big it would be if it was full," he told me, "but just looking at it, I'd say it would hold a gallon, and I'm sure it is bigger when it's full."

There was recently a strange problem on Youtube with my videos:  If you watched one, another started, and then another, ad nauseam.  If you were really bored and kept watching, you would end up seeing all one hundred videos I've made.  I found out how to fix that today, so it shouldn't happy any more.  There's a feature called "autoplay" I had accidentally selected at some point, and I turned that off.  (OK, I just found out I did NOT fix the problem!  Back to the drawing board.)
In the video, you will also see Mama Kitty, who followed me all the way back in the pasture.  She used to follow her little girl, Mariah, to the school bus every day; now she follows me on my walks.  

And the winner is...

Average Jane, who lives nearby in Kansas City!  I'll get these in the mail as soon as I can come up with some bubble wrap.  Arrowheads are somewhat fragile, in spite of the fact that they are made from rock.  I didn't even make Cliff get out of bed to draw the name; I took the names to his bedside.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Arrowhead drawing tomorrow

I'll bet you thought I had forgotten all about the arrowhead giveaway.  OK, so I sorta did forget it there for awhile.  But as soon as Cliff is up and around tomorrow, I'll have him draw a name.  This is your last chance to let me know if you want to be on the list of names drawn.  In other news...

Babe and Annie have finally joined the herd.  Aren't my four ladies pretty?  Jody, on the left, did not get rid of her limp, but she gets around and eats just fine.  It's when she has been lying down and first gets up that the limp is really pronounced.  After she walks around awhile, you hardly notice it.  As long as she is doing this well, we intend to keep her at least until she has a calf.  She's bred to a Jersey bull, so if the calf is a heifer it will probably look very "Jersey".  Maybe this is a year for heifers.  

We received about 1/10 inch of rain this morning.  Not much, it's true, but at least it gave a little drink to the clover and grass seedlings Cliff planted a while back.  There are more chances of rain in the forecast.  

Somebody is looking at the monstrosity as I type this.  Maybe the bank finally decided to come down on the price.  I sure wish somebody would buy that mess and tear it down.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Calf in the canyon!!!

We've been on the road a lot today.  Cliff told me to call Rasa Orchard and see if they had Fuji apples, and finally they did!  Bushels, half-bushels, and pecks.  We went and picked up two bushels.  Not for cooking, but for eating.  They keep well, and should last us until Thanksgiving or later.  
Since we were sort of on the way to Higginsville, and they have the cleanest, best, most awesome Pizza Hut in the world, we went there and had dinner.  
Later on we helped somebody move a few things to a new residence.  When we got home it was 5:30.  I fed my bobby calves their bottles.  When I came in, I said to Cliff, "I've been checking on Babe and Annie twice a day, morning and evening.  I think you should take the evening watch."  
"I'm the chauffeur around here.  I've done enough for one day."  
"I guess I won't check tonight then," says I.  
"OK, but if the calf dies it's on your conscience."   
The cow and calf seemed fine this morning, and I was going to skip the evening checkup.  But somehow I just couldn't.  I started toward the back of the place and heard a cow bawling.  
Cows don't bawl like that for no reason, and I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was.  You see, about a third of our property consists of canyons.  There is a reason why the name of the road I live on is "Old Canyon Road".  Last year a calf fell into a canyon, and the year before, too.  I kept walking until I located Babe, then returned to the house to get Cliff.  
"I didn't look down to see the calf," I said.  "I was afraid to, for fear she might be dead or have a broken limb."  
We took a brand new calf halter I recently bought for Gracie, and a short rope, just in case that might aid in getting the calf out of the ditch.  
Turns out the calf wasn't very far down, thank the Good Lord.

She had landed on a shelf of dirt above the deepest part of the canyon, and was more-or-less stuck where she landed.  This was a good thing.  

Babe bawled nonstop, so much that we couldn't even carry on a conversation.  "My baby," I think she was saying.  "I want my BABY!"  

Cliff put the halter on Annie and handed me the rope.  He pushed, and I pulled.  

Babe supervised the procedure, not too happily, I might add.

The reunion was sweet.  This is how all cow/calf reunions end.

Back at the house, I said, "I guess it's a good thing I did my evening cow-watch, huh?"  
"Yeah," my husband answered.  "Or you'd have had a dead calf in the morning."
"Oh, I don't think she would have died overnight."  
"She could have.  Coyotes could have gotten her."  

Where's my cape?  I think I am Wonder Woman.


First of all, a couple of pictures:  

George and Gracie had a head-butting contest this morning.  

Gracie spent some time getting acquainted with a horse.  

I've been keeping an eye on Babe and her calf because Babe acts so strangely.  We've had beef cows before, and of course they aren't tame like the cows I milk, but I've never seen one keep its calf hidden three days after it's born.  I have been wondering whether Babe has enough milk for the calf, since I haven't seen it kicking up its heels and playing.  Maybe the reason Babe doesn't go anywhere is because the calf has no energy?  Or maybe I'm just a worry-wort, but I learned a long time ago not to take anything for granted.  So I check on them, morning and evening.  Yesterday and today both, I noticed the calf kept on nursing long after there would have been any milk left in Babe's udder, butting it and switching teats as though it wanted more.  But then, my bottle calves are always hungry and wanting more, too; if you gave them as much as they want, they'd develop scours from too much milk.  In fact, a hungry calf is a healthy calf.  
Finally this morning Cliff and I saw the Annie following her mother at an energetic pace, having no problems keeping up.  I felt better about the whole situation, but I will still keep my eyes open.  
As far as Babe hiding out all the time, she might just be avoiding the horses, who have a tendency to chase any new cow or calf on the place.  Normally by the time a calf is three days old, it's mom will have rejoined the herd.  
There's nothing earth-shaking going on around here.  I have not forgotten the arrowhead giveaway, I just keep procrastinating.    

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I do as I please, free as a breeze, just bummin' around.

My cousin Betty recently told me, "When we were kids, I thought you had a perfect life.  You could run around in the woods any time you wanted to, you could play as much as you liked."  
I don't remember her exact words, but that's the general idea.  The reason she felt this way was that on their farm, a short distance from my Grandma's house, kids had chores.  If green beans needed picking, some of Uncle Leo's four kids picked them.  Aunt Mary saw to it that the kids did the dishes.  Of course, that's how things should be.  
I was spoiled, and Betty is right.  I did whatever I wanted to do.  My mom finally had a baby, it was me, and nobody was going to make me march to their tune.  
Guess what?
That is still how I live my life.  I'm not saying it's right, but I don't know any other way to do things at this stage of the game.  My parents spoiled me, my husband has spoiled me, and God Himself has treated me like I'm His only child.  
So while many of you are cleaning house or holding down a job or sewing or ironing or doing yard work, I am doing whatever is fun.  I really don't care about your big house; I'm happy for you, but I don't need it.  I guess I'm a hippy at heart:  If it feels good, do it.  

I take a lot of pictures while I'm enjoying my animals:

Annie having breakfast
Two calves cavorting
George playing peekaboo from under Gracie's belly

Jake the orange cat, meeting George
Thank goodness most of the world's population is not like me.  Nothing would ever get done and we'd all starve to death.  But I like to think perhaps the world needs a few free spirits like me, just so I can show you things you otherwise would never see.  Besides, I make the rest of you look GOOD by comparison.     
I don't decorate.  I don't clean house like I should.  I will not iron.  And don't you DARE tell me what to do!  
That's how I roll. 

*My husband approves this message.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

What is a tractor cruise?

That's the question my longtime Internet friend Lori asked this morning, so I am doing this entry especially for her.
We belong to the Mid-Mo Tractor Club.  The purpose of this club seems to be to find people who will actually appreciate your old tractors, and all the work you've put in on them.  Everybody in the club loves everybody else's tractors.  Because, you know, tractors are the best invention mankind ever thought of.
Most of the club members are "mature".  Like me and Cliff.  As people age, they seem to need bathroom facilities more often.  That's why, when we go on a tractor cruise, one of the tractors pulls a couple of porta-potties.

So, here's what happened:  People who enjoy parading their tractors around and tying up the roadways met at Beckner's Orchard.

A wife can ride with her husband if the tractor is equipped with a seat for her.  It is considered unsafe to just hang on, sit on a fender, and ride along (like I do on the way to our meeting-place).  So those poor ladies whose husbands don't want to make an effort to fix some legal way to transport their wives get to ride in the trolley, which you see pictured above.  You'd never know it, but the trolley used to be a livestock trailer.

Here's how it looked from my point of view inside the trolley.  Yep.  I get to ride on the trolley.

We were to depart at 12:30 on the nose.  Twenty tractors had shown up by time to leave, and we paraded around the orchard while we were waiting on our police escorts to arrive.  Yes, we are that important.  We get a police escort.

The guy behind the trolley.

We made a stop at St. Paul's in Napoleon.  

I have lived in this area since 1975, but I did not know about the overlook where you can look down on the Missouri River and points beyond.  If you drive out this way, you should make a stop there.  

This is the home of a Facebook friend, a retired teacher who taught in our local school.  I took this picture so I could let him know we cruised by his house.  The joke is on me.  If I had been poised and ready, once we got up to his front yard I could have gotten a picture of him and a grandson sitting in the front yard waving at us.  Story of my life.  I always miss the best shots.  

Back at Beckner's, we picnicked... and had a weinie roast until we ran out of weinies.  Beckners only have peaches now, but I used to work for them when they had lots of apple trees.  Alas, the apple trees are all gone, even the ones I helped them plant.  

The cruse, round trip, was about twenty-five miles.  Tractors don't go very fast, so the whole thing took about four hours.  I took my Ipad so I would have something to read, but I happened to be sitting near a lady who knew a lot of people that I know, even one I haven't seen since the year 2000 (whose husband was one of the first Kansas City Chiefs).  She also knows a lot of my neighbors.  So we chatted on and off through most of the cruise.  

It was a good day.  Oh yes....

  We came home to this.  Babe finally had her calf, a lovely heifer.  Pay no attention to Bonnie.  She is SUCH a mother hen, she thinks she has to help out with every baby she sees.  We brought her up to the lot for the night, just so nobody gets confused about whose baby it is.  If everything goes well, this calf won't be any extra work for us.  Beef cows raise their calves with no help from humans, so there is no need for us to intervene.  
Babe's original name was Annie, so we are naming the baby Annie.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cliff, the cat whisperer. Me, the calf whisperer.

While the cats have recovered physically from their snip-and-clips, Suzie, the calico, became a hermit.  She rarely left the barn, even to do her business.  Cats pooping in the barn is unacceptable, but of course I can't get rid of the cat, because I spent $80 on her.  Every time either Cliff or I went into the barn, there was Suzie, meowing piteously.  
Cliff thought of a way to cure the traumatized feline:  He opened up the doors on either end of that portion of the barn and locked them open.  
"When she doesn't have a dark place to hide, I think she'll come on out with the other two," he said.  
Sounded pretty lame to me.  What does Cliff know about cats, anyway?  He doesn't even LIKE them.  
But you know what?  It worked!  Now she's lazing around under the burning bush with her mother and brother.  All.  Day.  Long.  Do you think these loafers will ever catch another mouse?  

On another note, I am really enjoying my two new calves, although they are so healthy it's almost boring.  Seriously, when I get a baby calf I expect them at least to have a mild case of scours (diarrhea) so I can use my skills to make it well.  

Every morning after I've had a cup or two of coffee, I measure powdered stuff out of this $40 bag and mix it up for two calves, one bottle at a time.  I'm pretty sure I'll be buying at least two more bags of this stuff before the calves can consume enough calf starter to keep them growing.  Looks like one bag won't last over two weeks, for the two of them.    

It takes a pretty good "whisking" to get it mixed smoothly.  
When the calves are done with their bottles and I take them away, they frantically search for something else to suck on.  That's the reason they have separate pens.  If they were together at this "after-bottle" time, they would suck on one another's ears, navals, and other body parts.  It's better not to encourage this sort of behavior, since you want them to get over the nursing urge at as young an age as possible.  Of course they won't get over it until well after they are weaned.  
Today after George and Gracie got over their sucking frenzy, I turned them out together so they could have a good run.  I hope you enjoy watching them play.

About Babe, the cow we've been waiting on to have her calf.  Cliff's brother, from whom we bought Babe, wonders if perhaps she did not settle the first time the bull was with her, which would make her due date three weeks later.  I've had a cow or two go ten days past their due dates, but Babe is now eleven days past and still showing no signs of an impending birth except for her udder filling out a little.  We DO know she is pregnant, so all we can do is wait for nature to take its course.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I received this in email from Cliff's St. Louis sister.  This is one smart dog.

Calves, learning to eat

Blogger is being difficult to get along with.  I wanted to post three separate videos of the calves, but I can't do it.  So I'll do it another way.
I do not feed the calves actual milk.  Years ago when I raised close to fifty calves each year, I milked three or four cows.  So my calves got warm, fresh milk in their bottles.  These babies are being fed MFA milk replacer.  It's $40 for a twenty-five pound bag, and I doubt if the bag will last these guys two weeks.  Therefore, I am diligently trying to get them eating calf starter as soon as possible.  They're pretty precocious.  Here's a video clip, taken right after Gracie finished her bottle.

A friend tells me that if you watch this video it goes on and plays my old videos forever.  I have made 100, so that would really keep you busy (or bored, more likely) for a long, long time.  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dear friend Sue (my friend in Virginia)

Yes, you.  The Sue who used to go by the screen name JoyJoy on AOL.  Ten years ago I was visiting you in Virginia when some nutcase shot people in the same mall where we had been.  I don't intend to blog about you, but I would really like to hear from you if you are still following this drivel.  I want to know how you're doing, how your kids and grandkids are.  Please contact me.  It will remain private.  After all, I wrote a song about you.  Surely that counts for something.  My current email address is on the sidebar, upper left.  

Or must I resort to the old-fashioned method of writing a letter?  Probably so.

The big shopping day

Ah yes, this is the day Cliff's Social Security shows up in the bank, so we will go for our big monthly shopping spree.  Most of the $280 I allow for groceries each month will be gone today.  
Yesterday morning I took the pictures you see in the previous entry and stuck the camera in the pocket of my housecoat.  We headed out for our walk, my camera still in my pocket (yes, I do walk in my housecoat; it's another advantage of living in the sticks).  
When we got back to the house, I tossed a load of clothes into the washing machine and, seeing there was room for something else, I removed my robe and put it in with the rest of the stuff.  You've already seen the problem, haven't you?  
About forty-five minutes later I thought of a picture I wanted to take, and when I couldn't find my camera, I realized what I'd done.  
I can't live without my camera!  
Since today is our big shopping day, I ordered the same model camera to be delivered at Walmart.  I can pick it up today.  
I posted on Facebook that I had laundered my camera (some wise-guy said, "No more dirty pictures, eh?") and my ex-daughter-in-law messaged me that she has a Nikon Coolpix she bought thinking she would use it, but she doesn't.  I can have it.  
So we'll be going past Kathy's house today, and I'll tell the folks at Walmart that I don't need that camera after all.  I'll be getting used to another kind of camera, but since it'll save me $100, I'm willing to try.   

I took this picture of Bonnie the other day as I was lounging in the pasture, leaning against Jody as she lay down.  My daughter works at a photo-lab where several people who know photography were impressed with the shot.  So Rachel removed the flies from the cow's face and someone else boosted the color.  If you want a hilarious desktop picture for your computer, this one will fill the bill.  Click on the picture to make it larger, right-click to download it, and try it for yourself.  You won't be sorry, and you will be looking at Bonnie every time you fire up your computer.  I laugh when I see it.    

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Getting acquainted

 Bonnie, meet George.

 Jody, meet George.

 Babe, meet George... and then PLEASE go have your own calf.

Yes Babe, another one:  her name is Gracie.  Since you refuse to have your calf in a timely manner, we took matters into our own hands.  

Since I recently mentioned here that we do NOT need another calf, I'm sure some folks wonder why we went and bought, not one, but two.  
Well, first of all, they are cheaper than they were two years ago.  This drought has cause a hay shortage, and people are selling cows, not buying.  That has driven prices down.  I love baby animals, and I love cows.  And we have enough hay for this winter.  
What will we do with them if we don't have enough pasture next year?  
No matter what happens, George will either be sold or eaten.  We'll turn him into a steer today.  
And Gracie?  I certainly don't intend to start a dairy, and I only milk Bonnie twice a week, so why would I buy more milk cows?  
Sometimes bad, unexpected things happen to cows.  Hardware disease, lameness caused by injury, mastitis, milk fever.  I am always more comfortable when I have a replacement in the wings.  
I'm hoping we've seen the end of the drought.  There is still the chance of Jodie having a Jersey heifer calf, so that would be another one "waiting in the wings".  
If it gets to the point that I have to sell a cow, that's what I'll do.
What it boils down to is this:  I love Jersey cows, and I will do what I can to see that I have one around for as much of my life as possible.
By the way, this morning I noticed Jodie still has a little problem with the limp but it is much better.  As long as she doesn't get any worse, she ought to be fine to carry her calf until February when it's due.  Hopefully she will get over her problem completely.  We'll take things as they come.  

A giveaway, of sorts

When I blog about finding arrowheads, I get a few comments from people saying they have never found an arrowhead.  I never had either, until we moved here.  I have some good specimens I take out and admire from time to time. 

These are my most recent finds, laying here on my computer desk; this morning I asked myself, "Just how many arrowheads do I need, anyway?"  
I wonder if any of my readers would like to own some arrowheads and pieces of flint from a hill above the Missouri River in Missouri?  If you are interested, let me know, either in a comment or in an email.  My email address is toward the top of my sidebar.  Or, if you follow me on Facebook, let me know in a comment there.  I'll write down everybody's name who is interested.  
These arrowheads (and random pieces of flint) could be 2,000 years old (the Hopewell Indians), or only a few hundred.  
Read about arrowheads HERE.  
What you see in the picture will go to one person.  If more than one leaves a comment, we will draw names in a week or so.  Maybe some artistic type individual would frame the pieces; I've seen that done.   
If there is no interest in these, that's fine.  I'll stick them in the bag with my others.  

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meet George and Gracie



Finally, the computer stayed connected long enough for me to put the pictures on here.  And now, back to window-shopping for computers on