Thursday, October 30, 2014

The one who works hardest gets the bigger workload.

Grace has been giving SO much milk, I figured she may as well raise three calves instead of two.  We went back to the dairy from which we purchased Whitey and got an even bigger calf... not older, just bigger.  His name will be Newbie.  Tonight I showed him where to find supper on a cow, since he had never had any experience doing that.  It took awhile, but he figured it out and is now a very aggressive eater.  

Grace put up with all these little suckers.  

Later I went out to see what was going on in the stall the calves use for a home, and saw this:
Newbie and Gypsy are bedded down for the evening, but there is always that one kid who won't go to bed.  That would be Whitey.  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Cliff has taught her the key to happiness

Wait, why the sad face?  Is she crying?

She's running toward something...

Happens every time.  

No sad face now!

But that was yesterday.  This is today.

She was born to ride on a tractor.  The key to happiness, obviously, is a tractor ride every day.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

So, how are the calves doing, you ask?

Grace still knows the little heifer is really her calf, but she accepts "Whitey" just fine.  I was going to name him "Newby", but Cliff and I knew we would always end up calling him "Whitey", just like we did George.  

Grace gives around four gallons of milk a day, which means each calf gets two gallons daily... one gallon in the morning, one at night.  This is twice as much milk as a calf needs, not to mention that Grace, although part Holstein, gives milk as rich with cream as a pure-bred Jersey's.  So, by last weekend, I had two calves with diarrhea (in calves it's called "scours").  The treatment for that is pretty much the same as human babies get:  Stop giving them milk and, instead, give them electrolytes.  Human babies get Pedialite, calves get something similar.  You mix a packet of powder in a half-gallon of water and give it to them twice a day.  I also have some pills I get from the vet that work wonders.  

Actually, I never took Gypsy totally off her mom's milk, and I didn't give her electrolytes; only the pills.  I milked Gracie until I figured there was only a half-gallon or less and let her baby have that.  Whitie was a different story.  He didn't even want to get up when it was time to eat.  I mixed up the electrolyte solution and put it in a calf bottle, but he had no desire to suck on the bottle.  

So I brought out the big guns and tube-fed the electrolyte stuff for two feedings, as well as giving him his pill.  Saturday morning we left to visit Gusewelle.  When we got home, Whitey was bawling almost with every breath, wanting to eat.  A bawling calf is a healthy calf, an old neighbor of mine once said, and that's the truth.  Sick calves don't bawl.

Many people are scared to death to tube-feed a calf, but it's the easiest thing in the world.  You just make sure none of the liquid starts flowing through the tube until you have it clear down to the stomach, so nothing ends up in the lungs.  Years ago a neighbor had a month-old calf whose mother died, so he sold it to me.  It refused a bottle, so I wrestled him and held him in a corner to tube-feed him.  He never accepted a bottle, but he did figure out he was getting fed with the tube and cooperated nicely after a while.  I weaned him when he was three months old.

As of today, everybody is fine.  I am still taking some milk from the cow before I put her with the calves, trying to ease them up to the point where they can take all that milk without getting a belly-ache.    

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Meeting the Gusewelle family

Several weeks ago, we were watching a KCPT (public television) fundraiser featuring Charles Gusewelle, whose columns I have followed since the '70's.  I've always loved his style of writing.  He has the ability to paint pictures with his words that allow others to see things as he sees them and feel what he feels at any given time.  KCPT was showing a special in which Charles talked about his cabin in the Ozarks, one of many places he has written about over the years.  When they took a break to ask for donations, one proposition they offered was this:  For a donation of $160 per couple, you could go to his cabin and see it through your own eyes.  Cliff also admires Gusewelle and appreciates how much I like the guy, so he agreed to do this thing.  

We left yesterday morning in one of the most dense fogs I have ever seen, and it hung around for most of our trip, which wasn't the best thing for Cliff's spirits.  I had looked on Mapquest at home and, to my surprise, found out Appleton City is due south of where we live, and that by taking some county roads along the way, we could drive straight down there. 
 Unfortunately, our GPS refused to acknowledge that route.  "No problem," I said to Cliff.  "I'll just get Mapquest on my Ipad and it will tell us which roads to take."  

That's when I found we had no cellular service; the Ipad was useless.  Finally, rather than risk getting totally lost, we allowed the GPS to take us twenty miles out of our way in order to get to our destination.  Cliff's spirits sunk even further.  

We arrived at the city park a few minutes ahead of schedule in spite of the delays.  We were given a name tag, a wrist band, and some nice gifts:

A picture of Gusewelle, an autographed book, and a DVD of the show we had seen on KCPT.

And we got free donuts!  Krispy Kreme has nothing on LaMar's.  We never buy donuts because we can't stop eating them, so this was a special treat.  We did stop at one, but Cliff admitted he really wanted to eat more.  I reminded him that we were going to be fed lunch later on, and we needed to be hungry to enjoy that.  

At ten o'clock we boarded one of two school buses and were off to see the cabin.  There were actually seventeen no-shows for our group; I imagine the fog discouraged most of them.  Most Gusewelle fans are senior citizens like Cliff and I, and as people age, they are more intimidated by fog, slick roads, and anything else that might threaten life and limb.  

I took a picture of one of our group leaders taking a picture of us.  It's been a long time since I've been on a school bus.  

Charles and Katie greeted us as we got off the bus.  

Inside the cabin was one of the daughters.  There were many people at both the cabin and the lake who were there to answer questions or give instructions, and I found out they were all neighbors or personal friends of the family.  One man had an ATV and was offering rides to those who seemed to be having trouble walking.  "Are you a neighbor?"  I asked him. 
 "No, actually, I live in Greenwood, but Charles lets me hunt here.  I used to work on his car."  

Everyone had good words for the family.

Every inch of every wall of the cabin displays trophies collected by Charles and friends from all parts of the United States.  In the lower left-hand corner is a picture of Rufus, a bird dog that all readers of Gusewelle's columns learned to love.  We all grieved at his death.  That picture, Charles informed us, was the dog's "last point".

The pond below the cabin.

The tree house.   One year, Charles said, vultures took over the tree house.  This was something new to me:  if Charles wrote about it, I must have missed those columns.  I'm supposed to be getting the Star because I subscribed to the Odessan, but the local newspaper carrier is terrible.  When I tried to call the Star, the line was constantly busy and I gave up.  I'm forced to read the column online, and sometimes miss one.

Gusewelle chatted individually with everyone who approached him.  I reminded him of the time he made the news because the Star banned smoking inside the premises, so he had his desk and chair moved outside.  He said the boss told him to get his stuff back in the building or he would be fired, but he didn't do that immediately, and he kept his job anyway.  He does not, by the way, remember the poems I used to write and send him.  I quoted a little bit of one of them to him.  The man has written thousands of columns and traveled all over the world, so it's OK if he doesn't remember a few poems some stranger wrote him.  

After our visit at the cabin, we boarded the bus and went to see Lake Katie, named for his wife.  A couple of people brought their fishing rods along, and one man caught a couple of bass while we were there.  

The other daughter was at Lake Katie.  The daughters have lived far away for a long time, this one in New York.  Recently they've both moved back to this area, which makes me wonder if there is something up with their dad that nobody is telling. 

It was a perfect day for this event, and in spite of morning fog and a GPS that wouldn't cooperate, we had a lovely time.  The meal they served back at the Appleton City park was delicious.  

Of course I got my picture taken with my hero.  This opened up the floodgates, and then several others followed suit.  

It was one of those perfect days I will never forget.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Our new calf

We were supposed to be at Heins Dairy at 9 A.M., so I left Cora in her pajamas and we took her along.  She took a little nap on the way.  

You can read an article about Heins Dairy HERE.

Chris Heinz was out in a pasture checking on some cows, but he showed up in about ten minutes and took us out to the area where the calves are raised in hutches. 

This is not the only row of hutches.

Chris told Cliff to pick a calf, and Cliff chose the biggest bull calf he could see.

Wow, he's strong.  I asked him what they do with their bull calves if there aren't enough people coming to them.  He said they don't have any problem getting rid of them right at the farm.  One of their steady customers is an eleven-year-old boy who owns a nurse cow.  He buys three calves at a time, lets them nurse for three months, weans them, and returns for another three calves. 

Once we got home, we were anxious to see if Grace would allow a strange calf to nurse her.

Looks easy, right?  Grace was pretty good, but she gently butted at the newbie a couple of times, and even kicked at him... not too hard.  

Then I went out later and turned her in with them again.  Newbie (maybe I'll just name him that) started nursing without Gypsy, and it didn't go so well.  He got a couple of fairly hard kicks.

We may never get Grace to fully accept him.  If we don't, I will keep the calves in the lot, put Gracie in the stanchion twice a day, put the anti-kick device on her, and make sure Newby nurses from the protected side:  that will work. I really hope she will accept him, though, because then it's care-free.  We won't be tied down at home all the time and the excess milk is automatically taken care of.  As far as being tied down, though, I really have no plans for any overnight road trips in the near future, so that isn't a big concern.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Just a quick share

Many of my readers have seen me blogging about the next-door twins since back around 2001.  Their dad and his sister, Ronda, grew up next door to us years ago.  Their whole family has always been musically inclined, and I used to sing with Ronda and her brother Donnie, just for fun.  One time I even bought an old beat-up piano so they could come over here and sing with me.  Donnie, the twins' dad, played piano.  

Ronda recently made a recording of a song she wrote, and I want to share it with you.  Just click HERE.  Where you see the word "songs" at the middle-top of the page, below that is an arrow.  Click on that and you should hear the song.  

I am not easily impressed, but that song impresses me.

Let me introduce you to Gypsy

I took this picture when she was less than 24 hours old.  Her father is a registered red Angus, but mostly what she got from him is her color.  Her body type looks very dairy to me.  Grace, her mother, is part Jersey and part Holstein.  This little girl seems to have the body of a Holstein.  She's tall and angular.  

Grace had no problem calving, although it was raining that day, so the poor calf was coated with mud shortly after her birth.

And then it was time to milk.  It's never fun to milk a cow for the first time; she doesn't understand what you are doing.  Even though I have handled Grace's udder from the time I brought her home as a three-day-old, it's totally different when somebody actually grabs onto a teat and start squeezing.  The first time was difficult.  The second milking was better, and the last two times I've milked her, she has stood nicely without stepping around at all.  I will always put the anti-kick thing on her, no matter how well she behaves.  I'm too old to run any risk of getting kicked.  

This cow is going to be a fairly heavy milker for a family cow, so we are going to a local dairy tomorrow to pick up a bull calf.  We could have gotten one $75 cheaper by driving down near Branson, but by the time you figure in the cost of gas as well as a boring drive along a route we just traveled a couple of weeks ago, it just wasn't worth it.  

I don't know if Grace will take the Holstein calf willingly at this point.  If we had gotten a calf the first day she calved, she might have accepted it.  We'll just have to see how it goes.  The worst-case scenario is that I keep the two calves away from her overnight, let her in the following morning, put her in the stanchion and put the anti-kick device on her, and let the calves have at it, one on each side, at the same time.  I think if I did that for a few days, she would end up accepting the Holstein as her own.  A couple of months ago we actually had to sell a six-month-old steer because he was nursing her (not getting any milk, but bottle calves often become problem suckers... sort of like some babies are with pacifiers).  We even put a thing in his nose that would prick her when he tried to nurse, but he found out that if he was gentle about it, he could still nurse, and she allowed it.  However, she didn't have a calf at the time, so her behavior might be different now that she's a mother.  

So, FINALLY, we have a cow who apparently will be easy to milk:  She is standing still for me; she "lets down" her milk quickly, and the milk comes out fast; her teats are bigger than most dairy cows these days, so I can actually milk with my whole hand instead of finger-and-thumb.  I haven't saved any milk for the house yet, so I don't know what sort of cream content the milk has, or if the cream will be yellow like that of Jersey or light-colored like that of a Holstein.  I'll probably save some tonight, and we'll find out in the morning.  

I realize this information falls under the "I-couldn't-care-less" category for most of my readers, but I'll try to make up for this by getting some cute videos and pictures of calves playing before long.  Gypsy has a quite unique personality.  While I milked this morning, she was dancing all around me trying to get me to play with her.  Funny stuff.  She is sure to have a ball with her new "adopted" brother.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time to bite the bullet... again

Cliff and I have let ourselves get careless about watching what, and how much, we eat.  Same old story.  It's just easier and more fun to eat every kind of food that presents itself.  I don't know how long it had been since Cliff stepped on a scale; I stepped on one several weeks ago and was 150 at the time, which is five pounds over my ideal.  My clothes still fit, although I will admit my size 10 jeans are at the bottom of the drawer because I've been afraid they wouldn't fit if I put them on.  Yeah, I keep blinders on a LOT.  Ignore a problem and maybe it will go away.  I have noticed that Cliff's tummy looks a little paunchier lately, so last night I told him, "We have GOT to get on the scale in the morning."  

In my case, the news wasn't so bad.  I'm still 150, just like I was weeks ago, just five pounds more that I want to weigh.  Cliff, however, has gained ten to fifteen, depending on which of our guidelines we go by.  

Ever since our successful weight loss two years ago, our intention has been to weigh every day, first thing in the morning.  But once we felt ourselves slipping from the straight-and-narrow, without saying anything to one another, we both stopped weighing.  Who wants to face the cold, hard facts of life?  

We had a wonderful weekend:  Saturday we spent five hours in the parking lot of an Orscheln Farm and Home store.  I know that doesn't sound like fun to you, but we were visiting with some of our tractor club people while folks admired our tractors and then went in the store and voted for their favorite.  It takes me a long time to get to know people, but once I found out we all love Moe Bandy and Gene Watson, we bonded pretty well.  We all got a free meal from a barbecue wagon, the weather was perfect, and to top it off, Cliff won "Best of Show" with his little 550 Oliver.

     We found it funny that Cliff was showing an Oliver tractor and was wearing a John Deere sweatshirt.  

Yesterday was a nice family day.  After church I fixed sausage and pancakes for various people.  Later on Cliff's St. Louis sister and her husband came by, and the daughter and her husband joined us.   

Yeah, it's been a good weekend, except for the part where we had to admit we needed to get on the scales.  

It's a rainy day, so the baby's dad isn't working.  However, he gave his word that he would bring her over to spend some time with us.  After all, we haven't seen her for two weeks and three days!

Friday, October 10, 2014

One thing about our second visit to the old penitentiary tour at Jefferson City

We first took the tour of the old prison in Jefferson City in 2011.  

This was our guide, and he was great.  So we decided to return for the three-hour tour a couple of weeks ago.

Same guy.  We still love his enthusiasm, but the stories he told were better the first time.  And why does he look so much older?  It's only been three years.  

I'm not trying to be cruel.  Maybe he's been sick.  Maybe he's fallen on hard times, or perhaps he just aged faster than most.  I think he is a Vietnam vet, and who knows how that affects a person's aging process.  

The old hope chest is new again

In 2010, I did a blog entry about the walnut hope chest my grandfather, who died before I was born, made for my mom when she was young.  My mom passed it on to me.  It wasn't in great shape at the time, but while in my possession, it went from bad to worse: First of all, I used it to store all my 33 1/3 record albums.  These albums were too tall to let me close the lid, so I left it open.  Eventually the lid warped.  At some point I thought I would strip it of the old, dark varnish.  The stripper stuff I used hardly penetrated the thick coat of varnish and I gave up.  I would have thrown it away, but I was sort of sentimental about my grandfather making it, so we stuck it in the barn.  When we first moved to the trailer house, it ended up in the garage.  

When I did that blog entry about the chest, I received an email from my cousin, Pauline, our family historian.  She said that if nobody else wanted it, she would take it.  This made me immensely happy, because it would remain in the family where it belonged.  

Not so long ago, we went to Iowa to the 50th anniversary celebration of my cousin and her husband.  

The chest has found a new lease on life there!

I took some things off it so I could take a picture.  

I thought this was a nice touch.  It's on the underneath side of the lid.  

Pauline and Marvin have LOTS of kids, so I imagine somebody will be glad to keep it in the family.  

File this entry under the heading "Things that make me happy".

Monday, October 06, 2014

Our chicken-butchering skills are improving

The first time we did some chicken-butchering, it didn't go so well.  Cliff was terrible sick after several days in the hospital, and even had two tubes coming out of his chest.  You can read about that episode HERE. Then, a couple of months ago, I sent Cliff out to kill the old rooster.  I was babysitting, so he had to do it alone.  It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, and I'm not sure he has forgiven me yet.  You can read about that HERE.

Those cute little baby chicks that Mama Hen hatched out have gotten big, and they are eating me out of house and home.  Seven of the thirteen are roosters, and will soon need to be butchered.  The baby isn't here this week, so I told Cliff last night that I felt we should tackle one chicken, and if that went OK, we could get the rest of them into the freezer later in the week.  He muttered something about me saying "we", since he did most of the work the last time.  I promised him that I would do the killing and plucking, and would stand by to help him if he needed it.  I had no problem killing those chickens last year by simply holding them by both feet, stepping on their heads on the ground, and pulling.  However, I had actual shoes on at the time.  Today I had my slip-on Muck boots, and it didn't go so smoothly.  Let's just say it wasn't a perfect kill, but I got the job done.  Lesson learned.  Next time I will wear real shoes.    

I had overheated the water for scalding, so we had to add cool water to it little by little before dunking the headless chicken into it.  I used a meat thermometer to check the temperature, and once we got it below 160, I started swishing the chicken around in the water.  The two of us shared the job of plucking, each grabbing a leg and pulling feathers. All the feathers came out easily.
Then Cliff started the butchering process.  We have learned a few things since last time, one of the most important being this:  Starve the chicken for twelve hours, and it's much easier to remove the guts.  
  This was taken before the gutting process.  

This is stuff we didn't use, except for that gizzard.  Cliff asked me if I wanted it and I said, "Yeah, I guess.  But you'll have to open it up."  

I thought he knew it would be full of sand.  He didn't, and complained that he probably dulled his knife on the sand.  Another lesson learned.

  Here he's cutting up the chicken, almost done.  

So I'm going to fry this rooster for dinner today, but the other six will probably be put in the freezer whole, which will make the whole process of butchering them much faster.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Branson road trip

To keep the costs down, we only spent one night in Branson.  We stayed at the Baldknobbers motel (built in the 70's, no microwave or refrigerator, but it was clean and didn't stink) because for $100, we could spend one night at the motel and also go to a Baldknobbers show.  I didn't take any pictures at the show, because really, who cares?  Thiry years ago, the main shows in Branson were the Baldknobbers and the Presleys.  The Presleys still put on a pretty good show last time we saw them.  The Baldknobbers have gone mostly to comedy, with not many of the old 60's and 70's country songs in the show when they do get musical.  Since most of their audience is sixty-plus, they need to fix that.  We want to hear the songs of our youth! 

We had some time to kill after we checked into the motel... hours to spend before 8 o'clock when the Baldknobbers show opened.  I noticed there was a Celebrity Car Museum down the road, and after Cliff's two-hour nap, we went there.  I think admission fee was pretty high, but hey, it's Branson.  So we gave them $30 and went on in.  It was interesting, I'll give you that, but I still think the admission shouldn't have been more than ten bucks apiece.  

   We both agreed this would be a car to take home with us.  If only we could afford the asking price.  

Seriously, who wouldn't want to own this car?  

Remember Herbie?  I think this is from the second movie.  A lot of the cars in the museum were from movies, and I'm not a big movie buff.  So they didn't really mean a lot to me.  I did know Herbie, though.

Yep, Elvis owned this.  There was also a bumper car from the amusement park he used to rent out at night so he and his friends and family could enjoy themselves in private.  He had ridden that bumper car for hours.

I'm not a fan of Breaking Bad.  The show made me feel depressed and hopeless.  But for those who like it, here is the real deal from the show.

When Paul Harvey met his wife, she was driving a Nash Coupe.

He had the car restored for her, years later.


That's a movie I'm familiar with.

And finally, the car George Jones owned during his wild, weird, no-show days.

The museum was interesting to me, but it wasn't photographer-friendly.  The cars were so close together it was hard to get good pictures of them, and there were flashing lights with some of the displays that drove us crazy and reflected off the camera lens.  I took all these shots with the Ipad, which was a mistake because the quality is never as good as it is with either of my cameras.  But there you have it.