Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Life in the country

George and Gracie received their last bottles of milk replacer yesterday.  When I stepped outside for a walk, this is the look I got, along with some pitiful mooing.  They are eating plenty of calf starter and alfalfa hay.  They'll be fine.  

I still turn them out together to play sometimes.  Gracie is getting more black on her face all the time.  

George isn't falling down, he's practicing his quick turns.  

Over the last two days, Red-the-Bull spent a lot of time trying to climb Mount Everest.  I would be very surprised if he succeeded, but it's early anyway.  Grow, Red, grow!  

We were going down our first steep hill during this morning's walk and I said, "Stop, Cliff, I want to take a picture of our shadows."  If you look closely you will see our other two shadows, Mama Kitty nearby and Iris, far ahead.  Iris isn't such a good shadow, since she usually runs off by herself, but Mama Kitty often goes all the way with us.  

I've been letting both Jody and Bonnie in the stanchion once a day for a bite of feed.  Bonnie needs to get used to it again, and I just feel sorry for Jody because of her limp.  When they saw us going back toward the house, they followed; I rewarded them with some sweet feed.  

I have a bloggie friend in Washington whose husband has lung cancer.  The outlook, of course, is not good.  She's a school teacher and is dealing with one difficult situation after another.  She mentioned to me the other day how hard it is to have to switch from planning a wonderful retirement with her husband to the idea of losing her husband and possibly never retiring.  There's another blogger I follow who recently retired from teaching.  Her husband is in the hospital with congestive heart failure.  This got me thinking about how my life would change without Cliff, and if my life changed, of course so would my blog.  
I would sell this place as quickly as possible and move to senior citizen housing in a nearby town, since I don't drive and wouldn't be able to afford the upkeep of this place on my own.  Nor could I do the work required here.  There would be no more pictures of cows and horses.  Pictures taken of my daily walk would show sidewalks, streets, houses, and businesses.  I'm not sure I would have enough going on to even maintain a blog.  I'm not trying to make this a downer, but I have to tell you I sure appreciate Cliff when I think along these lines; if you enjoy my pictures of country life, you had better appreciate him, too.  
He's working on a chicken tractor for me as I type this.  Sounds like another blog entry, right?      

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

We seldom lock our doors

But perhaps from now on I will, just so I will remember how the locks work.  No, I did not have anybody scare me last night, but here's how it went down:  
Since I had told the Internets that I was home alone for the night, I decided it would be wise to lock the doors before I went to bed, and I did.  I used the dead-bolt locks and the doorknob push-button locks.  You might think this makes it sound as though I was frightened, but I wasn't.  I just figured, better safe than sorry.  Of course, we're talking about a mobile home, so anybody who really wanted in badly enough could find a way; all they'd need is a can opener.  But I digress.  
It was still dark this morning when I went out to feed my baby calves their bottles.  Their last bottles, by the way.  They are officially weaned.  Because the calves are pretty much in the front yard, I don't worry about what I'm wearing when I go out to chore.  Today I had my red Mickey Mouse pajamas with a pink housecoat over that.  I put on the long, worn-out red coat I wear around here and a sock hat, and headed out the door with the two bottles.  
Oops, the door was locked.  I put down the bottles and unlocked the dead bolt lock, then reached down and turned the knob and the door opened.  I fed the cats and calves as usual, admired the moon and thanked God for the loveliness of His creation, and came back to the house.  The doorknob wouldn't budge.  It was locked.  
That's when I remembered that when the button lock on the doorknob is pushed, you can open the door from the inside, but it's still locked on the outside.  I was locked out.
What to do.  
I've heard people talk about getting doors unlocked with a butter knife or credit card, so I went to our garage to see if I could find anything like that.  I did find a little blister-pack of nails that had an edge similar to a credit card and tried it.  I couldn't even find a place where it would slip in between the door and the door casing!  Iris, who was outside with me, was really wanting to to get into the warmth of the house, and she had no clue why I wasn't letting her in.  
Of course I am doing some praying while all this is going on, and also talking to myself.
"It wouldn't kill me to spend the day outside," I told myself.  "Cliff will be home sometime this afternoon; I have warm clothes on, and it wouldn't hurt me to get hungry for once in my life."  

Then I realized that Cliff would be trying to call me to let me know he was on his way; if he tried a few times and didn't get me, he would be frantic, because he is a worry-wort when it comes to me.  What to do.  
OK, I could walk across the road to a neighbor's house, ask to borrow their phone, and call Cliff so he wouldn't worry.  I do have his number memorized.  I'd feel pretty silly showing up at Judy and Keith's door in my pajamas, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  
Then out of nowhere I remembered something:  We have a key hidden for times like these!  After fifteen minutes or so of despair, there was hope.  I took a short walk and got the key.  I don't think we've ever used it before, and it didn't unlock the door at first.  I wiggled it and jiggled it, and after what seemed like an eternity, I must have done something right.  The door opened.  
I think I might go back to bed and get some sleep.  All this excitement has worn me out.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Home alone

This is more than likely the most boring entry you will read anywhere this month.  If you have any self-respect, you will surf on by and not waste these precious minutes of your life.  
Cliff is in Kansas, not so far from Pioneer Woman.  He'll be home tomorrow.  This feels so strange.  He's been retired since a year ago July, and he's always here on our property somewhere.  Most of the time if he goes anywhere, I'm with him.  Even Iris wonders what's going on.    
Normal women would clean house with their husband gone, right?  
Nobody said I was normal.  
Usually if Cliff is gone for the day I use that opportunity to make oyster soup.  He not only hates it, but also doesn't like the smell.  However, I didn't have a can of oysters in the cupboard.  I had part of a package of ground beef thawed, so I made myself a huge, greasy cheeseburger.  It wasn't oyster soup, but it was good.  
I messed around with my guitar.   I sang some songs I wrote years ago and found out I still remember the tunes to most of them, after all.  The tunes were only in my head and I thought some of them were lost forever.  A couple of them would be better off lost forever, actually.    
I studied the Ipad Mini situation for awhile:  The IPad I have now is 16 GB, and there wasn't much room left on it, so I was going to get a 32 GB Mini.  Someone a few days ago called to my attention that music takes a lot of space, and that got me thinking:  I hardly ever listen to music on the IPad, and every song I've ever downloaded is on there.  
My brain is tired from studying all this, but I searched the Internet and found out how to get all that music off my IPad; you can't do it directly on the Ipad, you have to change things on the computer and then hook the IPad up to it.  Now I have lots of space left, and I will get a 16 GB IPad Mini, which saves Cliff a hundred bucks.  I did leave a few of my favorite songs, just in case I want to listen to Iris Dement or John Prine or Leadbelly sometime when I'm on the road.  Before I got rid of so many songs, I only had 3 GB left; now I have over 10.  
Since I was playing with ITunes anyhow, I did something I've needed to do for a long time:  I deleted a lot of songs that I had downloaded more than once.  Nosing around ITunes, I found songs on my computer that I never heard of.  I have no idea how they got on there.  Those are now history.    
Things may be getting interesting in the pasture soon.  I notice Red, the Bull, is staying very close to Babe today.  He is so much smaller than her, it is going to be like conquering Mount Everest if he does the deed.  If he doesn't manage it this time, maybe he will grow enough in the next couple of months.    

Sunday, October 28, 2012


When Cliff and I got married, he loved hunting.  He had a Belgian-made Browning shotgun he was quite proud of.  After we bought our twenty acres south of Oak Grove, his interests changed, and he cared more about tractors and farm-type stuff.  Also, we really didn't have the funds it took to keep him in ammo.  Shotgun shells are expensive, so Cliff sold his Browning.  He always told me he didn't regret selling it, but today I have reason to think he has been lying to me all these years.  
The oldest grandson, who haunts gun shows constantly, had been asking Cliff a lot of questions about his Browning over the past few months:  What kind was it, what color was the wood... that sort of thing.  
Today he came in our house holding a gun almost identical to the one Cliff sold all those years ago.  Check out the looks on their faces.
I'm not sure who is the happiest.  Cliff's look shows total unbelief.  Arick's smile says, "I made my grandpa happy!!!"
We don't do gifts around here.  So this one was a huge surprise.  

I remember this design on Cliff's old Browning.  This particular gun was made in 1952.  Of course they had to try the shotgun out, even though the sun was almost ready to set.  

Even Heather tried her hand at it.  I did not, thankyouverymuch.  

What a great thing for Arick to do for his grandpa.  He has been looking around for months to find one as close to Cliff's original Browning as possible, and he did great.  We have no idea how much he paid for this gift, but we know it wasn't cheap.  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

In which I wax poetic

I was so worn out by the time I did all that garden work, I decided to sit down and rest and write a silly poem.  By the way, I liked the flavor of the parsnips, but they were stringy.  According to the Internet, that is caused by less than ideal growing conditions.  We did have a drought this year, so maybe that's part of the problem.  


My garden's often weedy and tormented much by pests.
My green beans and tomatoes will not ever be the best.
Blight and weeds and squash bugs get the upper hand on me,
And yet you'd be amazed at all the food it gives me, free.

I really don't like housework... all that chasing after dust.
I do not clean my fridge until it gets so bad I must.
I vacuum up the dog hair and I'll mop the kitchen floor:
I do the things I have to, but not one iota more.

Oftentimes I like to sing and play my Dove guitar,
And I enjoy doing that, but I'm no singing star.
My voice is nothing special. The guitar, I don't play well.
It gets me by. You see, I've not endeavored to excel.

Even as a kid in school, first quarter I'd do fine
But once the new wore off of it, I'd slowly fall behind.
Studying seemed senseless. I had better things to do...
Like walking in the rain or climbing hills to see the view.

As I look back upon my life, that's how it's always been,
No matter what the contest, I just never strove to win.
And this trait is inherent to my whole identity,
So I have quite a good time being mediocre me.

Weary and worn out

Mama Kitty decided to join us on our walk this morning, as she often does.  It was right around freezing when we left the house, perfect weather for a walk.  Our autumn leaves were breathtaking this year, but they sure didn't stay around long.  Before our walk, a friend came and relieved me of the sweet potatoes, so I did not have to toss them.  
My project today is to remove the tomato cages, dead plants, and the green tomatoes all over the ground.  I was making good headway when I got distracted by the parsnips.  This year is the first time I ever planted parsnips; according to information on the Internet, they are better left in the ground until a hard freeze, or even better, until the next spring.  
That doesn't work for me.  I like for Cliff to plow my garden, and he doesn't want to have to dodge around plants here and there.  So I decided to see how big the parsnips were, and maybe cook some today to see whether I even like them.  

 You can't tell it by this picture, but those two bigger ones are about eighteen inches long.  

I spent about twenty minutes trying to dig this one up without success, so I went and got Cliff.  He spent another ten minutes or so, and finally got it out of the ground.  I think it's those side roots that made it hang on like that.  I had no idea how to cook them, so I looked at a few ideas and decided to try THIS ONE.  I almost decided to toss them out, because slicing them was like trying to slice the inside of a tree!  However, they did cook tender in the microwave.  I'm going back to my garden cleanup for now, and will fry them as instructed when it's dinnertime.      

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sweet Potato Blues

Remember that wheelbarrow full of sweet potatoes I got from my garden?

 I have managed to freeze about two/thirds of them.  I started out with the huge ones, so the ones that are left are normal-to-small sized.
I had intended to try storing some of them in sand, but I can tell these sweet potatoes are not going to keep very long.  I've already found a couple that have started to rot.  Perhaps they didn't get cured properly.  So today I froze six more pints of mashed sweet potatoes, and will probably do that many tomorrow.  I made a crustless sweet potato pie, too.  I love crust, but let's face it, that Crisco puts a lot of extra calories in there.  

To make a crustless sweet potato pie, just use your favorite pumpkin-pie-filling recipe, substituting tw cups of sweet potatoes, and add 1/2 cup of Bisquick to the ingredients.  Spray Pam on a pie plate, pour the filling directly in it, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes to an hour.  No, there wasn't a mouse at the pie.  I had a taste to make sure it was good.  If you served this and didn't tell people the difference, they would think they were eating pumpkin pie. 

    I have between thirty and forty pints frozen.  I figure if I still have a lot left when spring comes, I won't plant sweet potatoes next year.  

So, after I freeze some tomorrow, I will be throwing the rest away.  That is, unless some local person would like the remainder.  Anybody is welcome to them.  Just remember, they aren't going to keep long.  


Remember the above picture that I recently shared, showing all the cattle I own? 

The Crazy Photographer is at it again:
"We're not sure whether it was the meerkats or the vulture that was the final straw... but Cliff shut down the WIFI until the intervention."

With Cliff's help and guidance, I am restraining myself from buying any more calves, even though the people from whom I bought George and Gracie will have a few more for sale in the next few days.  I was really chomping at the bit to buy another one, but Cliff reminded me that we have all the cattle we can take care of now.  He didn't have to have an intervention.  I saw the light.  Besides, another bottle calf would keep me tied down for at least another month; George and Gracie are almost ready to wean.  They are eating all the sweet feed and hay I put in front of them.  

Cliff's appointment with the cardiologist was yesterday.  We were escorted to an exam room (yes, I always go in with him).  The nurse came in and asked him some questions, as usual, and told us the doctor would be with us shortly.  We had started reading our books when the nurse stuck her head in and said Dr. Nager had been called over to the hospital because someone had a heart attack, but some other doctor would fill in for him.  
The doctor was a lady.  She scolded us for waiting two years to come in; I explained that I had to go behind Cliff's back to make this appointment.  Then she told us something that I do NOT recall Dr. Nager mentioning two years ago:  Cliff has a problem called mitral valve regurgitation.  It's no big deal so far, but it bears watching.  
So I guess I will fight with Cliff once a year from now on to get him to the cardiologist.   
Maybe HE needs an intervention, just to get him to go to the doctor.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Clarification, especially for Angela

As I said in another entry, Cliff gave me the go-ahead to get an Ipad Mini.  By the comment she left, Angela seems to have been wondering if our "fun" envelope (Dave Ramsey envelope system) had that much money in it.  
Honey, if I took all the money distributed throughout all the envelopes at the beginning of our fiscal month, it would barely pay for that thing!   
I sometimes do a little juggling with the money in the envelopes, moving extra funds from "clothing" and putting them in the miscellaneous slot.  You aren't supposed to do that, but hey... I never said I was perfect. 
We have an emergency fund that we absolutely won't touch for non-essentials.  So the money isn't coming from that.  Of course we aren't doing credit any more, except for gasoline, which is paid in full every month.  So I'm not getting it on payments.  I have a household account that sometimes has a little extra in it, but never that much.  
Cliff actually offered a portion of his tractor fund to me.  It's one pile of money I never touch, and he normally doesn't offer.  I didn't ask, but I accepted when he offered.  
(Don't tell Damn Dave Ramsey, because I doubt he would approve.)

It's that time of year

Three weeks ago, Cliff had a cold.  He felt lousy, but after three or four days he began to get better.  Then he took a turn for the worse, and started snotting and sneezing worse than ever.  Sunday he was coughing, wheezing, and sneezing.  As we walked into church, he told me, "If I have a coughing fit, I am walking out and going home; I'll come back and pick you up."  
Well, he made it through, and I suggested he go to the Minute Clinic.  I was fairly sure he had sinusitis, and I've never known him to get rid of that without an antibiotic.  
Cliff hates going to the doctor, but he was feeling lousy enough that he agreed.  We took our reading devices, because there is usually quite a wait at the Minute Clinic.  However, when we got there and signed up, the computer told us he was next.  There wasn't another person waiting to see the nurse.  
After examining him, the nurse agreed with my assessment of Sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic and some over-the-counter meds.  
When Cliff walked out of the examination room, there were half-a-dozen people waiting in line.  For once, our timing had been very good.  
Next day Cliff still felt lousy and said, between coughs, "The medicine isn't doing a damn thing." 
I reminded him that it takes a couple of days before antibiotics start having an effect.  
Sure enough, he felt considerably better yesterday; and now today he just woke up, and can breathe through his nose again.  I haven't heard the hacking cough this morning, either.    

Cliff's cardiologist explaining to Cliff why he had to have CABG, 2006
Tomorrow Cliff has an appointment with the cardiologist.  He is supposed to see him once a year, but there is no way I can get my husband in there that often.  It's been over two years; without even asking, I made an appointment, then informed him about it.  
"I'm not going!" he said, reminding me of a two-year-old little boy.  
"Yes, you are.  When Dr. Deblase was your family doctor, he kept a good eye on you.  But he's dead now, I don't trust his young replacements: I think you need to visit the cardiologist at least every other year."  
He pouted, but he's going.  The appointment is tomorrow.  Last time we were there, we had a very long wait, which is Cliff's excuse for not wanting to go.  This time we'll take the Nook and the Ipad and we'll both have something to read while we wait.  

Speaking of the Ipad, after studying the situation, I saw that even though I can order the Ipad Mini in a couple of days, the cellular model would not arrive until at least mid-November.  I see no advantage in putting in my order that far ahead.  I will wait until I can actually have it shipped to me immediately.  A lot could happen in three or four weeks that might change my mind.  

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Ipad story

I promise you there is no danger of my getting another Apple computer; they are just too expensive compared to a PC.  Oh, but Apple stole my heart with the Ipad.  
I bought the original Ipad, the first model.  Within two weeks a new model came out, as if to taunt me.  It was 4G (faster) and it had a camera.  I told myself that's how the cookie crumbles and gradually let the Ipad take over my life.  I don't know how long I've had it, maybe two years?  But I am still discovering new things I can do with it.  
When my Ipad is with me, I have my library books plus tons of books I've gotten free here and there in Cyberspace; I have my Bible.  I have my music with me at all times.  I can play around on Facebook and all the far corners of the Internet.  
It's a beautiful thing.  Eventually I stopped worrying about Ipad2 and enjoyed what was in my hand.  
Each new version of the Ipad is thinner and lighter, but I was doing OK.  
And then they introduced the next generation Ipad.  Oh, so light and thin.  So fast.  It too has a camera, and some sort of high-resolution capability.  
So the other day, someone was in my home playing around on this latest model and introduced me to Siri.  
Oh my goodness, it was love at first sight... or sound.  You talk to your Ipad, ask it questions, and it talks back to you, giving you an appropriate answer.  
I held my heavy-as-lead old outdated Ipad up to my face and asked it question after question.  It refused to answer, dumb as a doorknob.  
Poor Cliff has listened to my not-so-subtle hints for at least six months, and once he even said, "If you want it, get it."  
But I wasn't so sure he meant it and I laboriously picked up my heavy old dinosaur of an Ipad and read a book to get my mind off things.

Today I learned on the Internet that there is going to be an Ipad Mini.  It has Siri.  It has a camera.  It is fast as greased lightening.  It's as light as a mosquito, and it will fit in my purse.  
I ran to the living room to tell Cliff all about it, hardly taking a breath.  
"It's cheaper than the other newest Ipad, and has all the same stuff except for the high resolution thingie!"  
Cliff told me my brown eyes were dancing and to slow down.  And then said, "We don't have that much time to get the things we want.  Go ahead and order it."  
Really?  This time he sounded like he meant it.
I can't order one for three more days, but that's a good thing.  Gives me time to think about how much I really want this toy.  
Who are we kidding?  I want.        

Monday, October 22, 2012


I think all my grandchildren know how much I hate hearing someone say, "I'm bored."  I found something on Facebook that expresses my feelings exactly.  

Of course, I have the advantage of having cattle as friends.  Try being bored when there are cows who love you.  Or dogs or cats or horses.  I'm here to tell you that without animals in our lives, nothing would make much sense.   

Silly cows

There is a reason why I usually carry a camera along when Cliff and I take our daily walk.  Somebody needs to record the antics of my crazy cows.  

For some reason, Babe and Red decided to go wading.  They can't be hot.  Cliff and I think maybe they were trying to escape from flies.  Flies and mosquitoes have made a slight comeback; I guess they realize winter is coming.  

We saw Bonnie doing something very common for cows:  Rubbing her head on the ground.  This is how a cow scratches her head (and neck).  

Here's a picture I took behind the house earlier this morning.  It's worth living in a trailer house just to be able to look out the window and see the cows. 

Hymns from my childhood: "I Know Whom I Have Believed"

I just happened to come across the Bible verse this morning on which this song is based, II Timothy 1:12.  It brought to my mind a song I loved as a child, another hymn nobody ever sings any more.  I looked at three or four renditions on YouTube, including one by the Sons of the Pioneers that I was going to use.  Then I found this one.  We didn't clap our hands to the music in church when I was growing up, but this particular clip made me smile, and it's the one I decided I liked best.  It's sung by a church in Northern Ireland.  


  1. I know not why God’s wondrous grace
    To me He hath made known,
    Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
    Redeemed me for His own.
    • Refrain:
      But “I know Whom I have believed,
      And am persuaded that He is able
      To keep that which I’ve committed
      Unto Him against that day.”
  2. I know not how this saving faith
    To me He did impart,
    Nor how believing in His Word
    Wrought peace within my heart.
  3. I know not how the Spirit moves,
    Convincing men of sin,
    Revealing Jesus through the Word,
    Creating faith in Him.
  4. I know not what of good or ill
    May be reserved for me,
    Of weary ways or golden days,
    Before His face I see.
  5. I know not when my Lord may come,
    At night or noonday fair,
    Nor if I walk the vale with Him,
    Or meet Him in the air.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Mystery is Solved!

In regard to my previous entry, Da Rev asked me if I was wearing a shirt with a logo, because he said the letters seemed backward.  
Indeed, my shirt said "Colorado".  Never underestimate the intelligence of a man who works around convicts for a living.  
Thank you Da Rev!  It was driving me crazy, especially when neither Cliff nor I could see it on the actual window.

Jody, limping; and mysterious handwriting on a window

My daughter asked just how bad Jody's limp really is; I told her it's better some days, worse others, but she is never going to get better.  We simply keep hoping against hope that she can get around until mid-February, when her calf is due.  I took a short video to let everybody see the extent of her problem.  It's poor quality, since I took it from inside the house at a distance, but I think you will be able to see the problem.  She can't run to save her life.  I know this because when the horses act out a little and try to make the cows get out of their space, the others trot or run, while Jody simply limps away.  If you enlarge it to full-screen it may be more easily seen.

Hmmm.  I see letters on this video, as though someone wrote something on my window.  I can't make out the word, though.  Hmmm.
Update:  Friend David Remley says the word looks like "closed".  I am so relieved one of my grandchildren or Cliff's sister or brother-in-law did not put an obscenity on my window!  (Not that any of them would... I hope not anyway.)  Funny thing, I went in there to try and see the word and you can't see anything on the window at all.  But I did the video when the sun was coming up in the east, and this is an east-facing window.  Maybe that's why it showed up.   
Wait just a minute, there's a letter "A" there.  There is no "A" in closed!  The mystery deepens.

In which Cliff participates in a tractor pull

First of all let me tell you that I find tractor pulls the most boring activity every invented by man.  A tractor pull usually starts before noon and doesn't end until around midnight.  It wouldn't be so bad except that you will see a lot of the same tractors pulling over and over in different weight classes:  They add weights to the tractor and try again until you get sick of seeing that same guy all the time.  They start with small tractors and work up to big ones.  
This tractor pull was only about ten miles from home, close enough that Cliff could drive the Oliver there (we have no trailer big enough to haul it, nor any truck large enough to pull that much weight).  He kept saying that if his class pulled before dark, he would pull, but he was NOT going to drive a tractor home in the dark.  
I knew his class would pull after dark.  They NEVER get to the big tractors until after dark.  
My daughter, Cliff's sister, and I got cold and came on home at dusk, knowing there was no hope of seeing Cliff pull; we figured he'd be right behind us.
However, the oldest grandson, his girl friend, Heather, and Titan, who had been there since 11 A.M., were not leaving.  Arick wanted to see his grandpa pull that tractor.  He told Cliff he would follow him home in the Jeep.  
I think they said Cliff made it about halfway down the track; if he had taken the weights off the tractor, he would have been in a lighter class and probably done better, but taking off the weights would have scratched up the wheels and marred the beauty of Cliff's prize.

  Heather got this picture of Cliff during his pull.  

I took the Ipad to the tractor pull and alternately played on Facebook and read my current book, "Unnatural Exposure" by Patricia Cornwell, who was featured on CBS Sunday morning last week.  

One little tractor puller managed to get my attention:  
The little guy driving the tractor couldn't have been more than ten years old.  His father walked along beside the tractor, coaching him.

They were dressed alike, right down to the gloves.  The gloves looked large for the little guy.  
It was one of those sights that tugs at your heartstrings.  

On another note:  You know winter isn't far off when you see cows gathered around a hay bale, eating.  Actually, they still have plenty of grass in the pasture, but Cliff wanted to get them used to going through the gate in the electric fence.  We have to keep the cows' hay in a spot where the horses can't get to it and founder.  


Friday, October 19, 2012

Seeing things in a different light

Today I happened to find all my cattle in the small lot at once, giving me a chance to take a picture of them.

Closest to the camera are Gracie and George.  Just beyond Gracie (on the left) is Jody.  Just beyond George is Bonnie, and beyond her is the new bull, Red.  In the background you see Babe, with her daughter. Annie. nursing.  
Jody, of course, will probably leave us, unless a miracle occurs.  Those of you who believe in miracles, this is your chance to put in a good word for her.  It is looking ever more promising, though, that she will be able to stick around until she presents us with a calf.  We hope it will be a girl, since it's daddy is a Jersey, and I really love Jerseys.  
So I have two mature cows, Babe and Bonnie.  Babe gave us a girl, and we are really hoping Bonnie gives us a heifer too; it will be a whiteface calf, like Babe and Annie.  Bonnie has presented us with three bull calves so far, and I think it's time for a heifer.  
My herd consists of one baby steer; two baby heifers; one bull; one pregnant heifer; and two mature cows.  
And I went cow-shopping?  What was I thinking?  I have PLENTY of cows!  Besides, we just have a little over 40 acres, and only about half of them usable.  

Hymns from my childhood: "His Way With Thee"

Most mornings during my quiet time, it seems as though some old hymn from my childhood will come to mind,  one of those songs nobody sings any more.  I decided this morning to start making a note of these songs that rise like ghosts from the past and research them.
This morning the song was "His Way With Thee".

Would you live for Jesus, and be always pure and good?
  1. Would you walk with Him within the narrow road?
    Would you have Him bear your burden, carry all your load?
    Let Him have His way with thee.
    • Refrain:
      His pow’r can make you what you ought to be;
      His blood can cleanse your heart and make you free;
      His love can fill your soul, and you will see
      ’Twas best for Him to have His way with thee.
  2. Would you have Him make you free, and follow at His call?
    Would you know the peace that comes by giving all?
    Would you have Him save you, so that you need never fall?
    Let Him have His way with thee.
  3. Would you in His kingdom find a place of constant rest?
    Would you prove Him true in providential test?
    Would you in His service labor always at your best?
    Let Him have His way with thee.

The song was written by Cyrus Sylvestor Nusbaum, a Methodist minister; and here is his story of how he came to write the song:

I had spent my first year in pastoral work. Having been appointed to serve as a pastor in one of the poorest circuits in our district, I had struggled hard during the year to take care of the seven preaching places and congregations. It had been a most difficult task, strenuous and discouraging, and the income pitifully small.
At the end of the conference year, my wife and I gathered our few necessary belongings, and, with the assistance of one of our members, we arrived at the railroad station in order to take the train to the place where the conference was to meet that year.

Naturally, we had prayed and hoped that, at the conference, I might be appointed to a better charge, but when the Bishop read the appointments the last night of the conference, I was named as pastor of the same old circuit. It was with heavy hearts that we repaired to our lodging place that night. Mrs. Nusbaum sensibly retired early, but I remained in the little parlor with no one to disturb me.

I was very unhappy and a spirit of rebellion seemed to possess me. About midnight, I finally knelt in prayer beside my chair. After some struggle, a deep peace came stealing into my heart. I told the Lord that I would be willing to let Him have His way with me regardless of the cost. With that feeling, of surrender to the will of God, came the inspiration for the new song, now so well-known throughout Christendom.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cow-shopping, half-heartedly

Now that we have a bull and a barnful of hay, we have room for another cow.  Silly as it sounds, I would like another Jersey.  I don't need the milk, obviously, but I really like the beef from a ten-month-old calf that has been on a milk and grass diet all it's life.  No, we don't need the beef, but I know people who do.  
OK, I admit it, I just want another pretty Jersey and this is a good excuse to get one.  And I'm sure the bull would be happy with another member in his harem.
So this week Cliff has kindly taken me to look at some Craigslist cows.  
Tuesday we went to a farm near Excelsior Springs and saw a pretty little registered cow named Gertrude.  
They wanted $1,200 for her.  If you go to the ad, they tell a long story about why she wasn't bred sooner.  She doesn't give a huge amount of milk, but she is young and will give more next time.  I paid more that that for Bonnie, but I was really desperate for a Jersey cow then, and she was within a couple months of calving.  This cow won't calve until March.  
One thing that surprises me about these folks:  They have a sign at their driveway that says "Raw Milk for sale".  They also advertise raw milk on Craigslist.  I would be very surprised if someone doesn't shut them down, since the government is cracking down on sales of raw milk.    
Today we went about sixty miles north, on the other side of Carrolton, through a tiny town named Miami.    
I told Cliff that when I talked to the guy on the phone, he sounded like a trader; he just had that line of B.S. that you expect from a trader.  I was right, but I could never have imagined anybody being a livestock trader in such a big way.  
He had cows running all over that place.  He has no regular job, but goes to sales all over the state and buys the leftovers that nobody wants.  If they're skinny he tries to fatten them up a little.  From the looks of his vehicles and the work he is doing on the place, he makes a very good living.  He also had goats, sheep, chickens, and other assorted livestock.  His cell phone was ringing constantly... people calling about his various ads on Craigslist.  
The cows were mediocre, his prices were high, and he knew very little about the cows, since they hadn't been there long.  No thanks.    
There is one good-looking heifer in Kansas City, Kansas, that I wouldn't mind seeing, but I'm getting pretty tired of making Cliff run all over the country on wild-goose chases.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Red Angus cattle

One reader commented that she had never heard of the Red Angus breed.  Actually, the only way Red Angus cattle differ from Black Angus is their color.  From the link I just gave, I am copying this information: 
 The Origin of "Angus"
Like most modern American beef breeds, the Red Angus breed had its beginning in Europe. In the eighth-century, according to some authorities, hardy Norsemen raiding the coasts of England and Scotland brought with them a small, dun-colored hornless cattle which interbred with black native Celtic cattle of inland Scotland, which had upright horns. A naturally polled black breed was produced, which roughly corresponded to the black Aberdeen Angus of today, although it was a considerably smaller-bodied animal. The polled characteristic was very slow to spread inland, and for almost a thousand years was confined principally to the coastal areas of England and Scotland.
Eric L.C. Pentecost, the noted English breeder of Red Angus cattle, offers a specific and logical explanation for the introduction of the red coloration into the Aberdeen Angus breed. In the eighteenth century, the black Scottish cattle were too light to provide sufficiently large draught oxen, so larger English longhorns, predominantly red in color, were brought in and crossed with the black native polled breed. The resultant offspring were all black polled animals, since black is a dominant color, and red a recessive one. However, all carried the red gene. Subsequent interbreeding produced an average of one red calf in four, in accordance with Mendel’s law of heredity.
Angus -Red or Black
Early in the development of the Aberdeen Angus, Hugh Watson of Keillor, Scotland arbitrarily decided that black was the proper color for the breed, and thereby started a fashion. He might well have chosen red instead. Leon J. Cole and Sara V. H. Jones of the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station published a pamphlet in 1920 on "The Occurrence of Red Calves in Black Breeds of Cattle" which contained this pertinent paragraph:
"One more point should be emphasized, namely that the red individuals appearing in such stock (Aberdeen Angus)...are just as truly 'purebred' as their black relatives, and there is no reason why, in all respects save color, they should not be fully as valuable. The fact that they are discarded while the blacks are retained is simply due to the turn of fortune that black rather than red became established fashion for the Aberdeen Angus breed. Had red been the chosen color, there would never have been any trouble with the appearance of blacks as off-color individuals, since red-to-red breeds true."
The preceding paragraph, written more than three decades prior to the establishment of the Red Angus Association of America, shows a true appreciation of the basic strengths of the reds. This is emphasized by the current revival and popularity of the red strain of Aberdeen Angus throughout the world.

Rebirth of "Red" Angus
Various cattlemen throughout the United States understood the outstanding values of the reds. In 1945, the first of these cattlemen started selecting and breeding reds cropped from the best black Aberdeen Angus herds in America. By 1954, a sufficient number of herds had been established to form a breeder’s organization known as the "Red Angus Association of America."
With a temporary headquarters in Sheridan, Wyoming, seven innovative cattle breeders created the Red Angus Association as the first performance breed registry in the United States. In August of 1954, the Association’s first president, Waldo Forbes, Sr., summed-up this vision of the founding members:

"The policy of the (Red Angus) Association is to discourage the more artificial practices in purebred cattle production... and to place its faith instead in objective tests, consisting for the most part of comparisons within herds of factors of known economic importance and known heritability... By making this an integral part of the registration system, Red Angus breeders feel that even faster progress can be made toward the ultimate goal of more efficient beef production."
From the beginning, performance data was required for registration for all cattle. The ultimate goal was to initiate a system to objectively evaluate and select cattle based on traits of economic importance.

Because I have Jerseys, I prefer Angus bulls to breed my cows, given the choice.  Angus calves tend to have a lower birth weight, so tiny Jersey cows are not so likely to have problems calving.  

A friend is learning to Photoshop

In a recent entry, Contented Cows, I shared two pictures of me with Jody.  One showed her ears, one did not.  Look what my friend Nancy did:

If I look at the picture REAL closely, the picture makes Jody look like she has a bovine congenital condition called "wry face".  But I am still very impressed.   
Now that I looked at the original picture, she already looked wry-faced, so it isn't Nance's fault.  And no, my cow is not wry-faced.

Great minds think alike

Pioneer Woman recently had a post title that seemed very familiar to me.  
You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.  
The subject of the post rang familiar, too.  This morning I did a search on my blog, and guess what?  I had an entry a year-and-a-half ago by the same title... You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.  My entry wasn't nearly as verbose as Ree's, though.  
Now, if I were one of those P.W. haters, I would say she stole it from me, right?  
I'm not, and she didn't.  Anybody that's around horses quite a bit will see them doing this, and at least half of them will immediately think of that old saying.  

Oh look, there in the background is a steer that is in our freezer.  This year's calf was sold.  

By the way, while Ree might have put a lot more words in her entry, I'm the one who actually included a video so you can see the horses in action.  In case you didn't click on the link above, I'll give it to you one more time, HERE.

Contented cows

Mr. Red came up by himself, bawling, shortly after our walk yesterday.  He didn't spend long here, but turned and went back the way he came to rejoin our little herd.  Later on from my window I saw all the cows out on the point.  

After dinner I decided to go check on them, because with a new animal on the place, you just can't take for granted that they'll be all right.  At first I panicked, because Babe and the bull were missing.  Babe's calf, Annie, was chewing her cud contentedly between Jody and Bonnie.  Finally, I noticed movement way off behind them, back where my cabin used to be.  

  Red and Babe were off by themselves.  Do you think he realizes she is going to be his first chance at romance?  Everybody seemed content.

 I wanted a good picture of me relaxing against Jody, but holding the camera at arm's length and guessing at what the picture will look like leaves something to be desired.  You can either see this shot with Jody's nose...

Or this one, with her ears.  Oh well.  

Annie isn't so scared of me any more.  Looks like we're going to have a lovely autumn, doesn't it?  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A reprieve, and other bovine things

After I did the entry yesterday saying Jody was scheduled for the butcher, Cliff and I went on our walk.  When we came upon the cows, Jody was getting around pretty darned good.  Oh yes, she limped, but it wasn't so bad.  Cliff said, "If it were MY cow, I'd try letting her wait and have her calf.  She's walking around grazing with the others all the time.  But it's up to you."  
So when we got back to the house, I told Cliff to call the butcher shop and cancel.  If Jody should take a turn for the worse in the next couple of months and we decide to butcher her, Cliff will have to do it himself, here at home, because the local butcher shops will not be taking anything but deer for awhile once the season starts.  We're rolling the dice.  Don't you wish we could make up our minds?  One thing we're sure of, Jody won't be a keeper.  We're just trying to hold out for a heifer calf, and of course there's a fifty percent chance it won't be a heifer.  Shortly after she calves, we will take her to the butcher.  There will be more meat then anyway, because she is still growing.    
We bought a yearling Red Angus bull yesterday.  We put the horses out of the big lot and shut the cows in for the night, so the bull could get used to his new herd.  We've learned the hard way not to turn a new animal loose in the pasture.  They go running the fence looking for their old home, and usually escape.  
This morning I opened the gate.  Of course the horses had to play their usual game of chasing the new guy awhile, but they didn't go to extremes with it.  So the new bull is out in the wide-open spaces, and we're hoping for the best.  He'll have to learn about the electric fence; I hope that goes well.  We checked on him during our walk, and things were fine.  

Meet Red.  He isn't registered, but he is purebred (we think) Red Angus.    

Babe will be the first order of business on his new job, probably within the next month sometime.  As you can see, he is smaller than she, so it may be a challenge.  Bulls are very persistant (like horny males of all species), so we're hoping the hills around here work to his (and our) advantage.  Bonnie will be no problem for him, I'm sure, because Jerseys are small.  As a yearling, Red has a lot of growing to do and will be as big as Babe next year.  He'll get bored for awhile with only two cows, but we are going to look at a group of Jersey cows Thursday.  We may come home with one.  And next year, if he works out and stays here, he will also have Babe's calf and (if it's a heifer) Bonnie's calf to romance.    

I'm showing you this picture so you can see how very pregnant Bonnie is looking.  It's about five weeks until she calves.  

Monday, October 15, 2012

Kids are like that

We bought a bull today.  More about that at another time, though. 
Cliff's brother, the one with the birthday, had a friend with a yearling bull to sell.  This morning we went to look at a Jersey cow that has been on Craigslist forever (didn't buy her), then on to Cliff's brother's house.  He suggested we leave our car at his house and all of us get in his pickup (with livestock trailer attached) to go look at the bull.  That way if we bought the bull, we could bring him right on home.  
Cliff's brother had a granddaughter, Myley, with him.  He intended to leave her at home with her grandma, but she wanted to go with her "Pawpaw".  
She sat in the back seat with me, and didn't shut up from the time we left until the time we returned.  
Am I complaining?  Nope.  That kid kept me in stitches.  
I explained to her that although her Pawpaw's birthday party was on Saturday, his REAL birthday was today.  "Did you even tell him happy birthday today?"  I asked her.  
"No," she answered.  "I'm just a little girl and I'm not supposed to remember people's birthdays."  
The kid isn't even five years old yet.  
We had the bull loaded and were heading toward my house when Mylie showed me how dirty the bottom of her foot was.  
"Your feet stink," I said.  
"No, I farted," was her reply.  "When I drink too much water I have gas."  
I was hauling a Route 44 Diet Cherry Limeade around with me (because we happened to drive by a Sonic at happy hour) and passed it to Myley every once in awhile.  At one point I lifted the lid to see if I could see the cherry that's always in the bottom of the drink, and told her what I was looking for.  
She asked if she could have the cherry.  
You can check with Cliff, but I will tell you that NOBODY gets the cherry out of my happy-hour Diet Cherry Limeade.  
I told Myley there was still too much drink in the cup to get the cherry, and I didn't want to put my hands down in there fishing around for it.
"I can get it," she said.  

I pointed out that her hands were probably dirty and I didn't want them in my drink.  Then I made a mental note to let her have the cherry when we got home.  
When we got to my house, she and I came inside to use the facilities and I poured out the rest of my drink.  There were three lime slices in the cup, but NO cherry!  Myley and I discussed what a lousy Sonic it must be, when they don't give you your cherry.  
I also learned how to play dead today, and Myley taught me some songs I have never heard.  One of them said repeatedly, "shake that thing".  
I'm pretty sure she sang me a rap song, too.   
So I asked her, "Do you know the song about the lady who swallowed a fly?"  
No, she did not, and she asked me to sing it.  
I sang the whole thing while she gave me her whole-hearted attention, with me tickling her every time I mentioned the spider that wiggled and wiggled and tickled inside her.  
When I finished, she said matter-of-factly, "No, I don't know it."  
Kids are so funny sometimes.  Oh, here's a picture of Myley I stole off Facebook.