Saturday, February 28, 2015

new calves

Yesterday we made a trip to Holden and brought home two calves:  Hope, a mostly (or I think all) Jersey heifer; and Henry, a Jersey/Holstein calf.  After the huge Holsteins we bought over four months ago, these guys seem really small.  I didn't know how Grace would take to two new calves, but I needn't have worried.  Last night and this morning I put her in the barn and let her eat with her head in the stanchion while the calves nursed, so if she took offense at the little strangers getting so familiar with her and tried to hurt them, I would be able to intervene.  Tonight I actually turned her in the little lot behind the barn where she always nursed the other calves.  She kicked at each calf once or twice, but not too hard at all.  In fact, they didn't even stop sucking when she kicked at them.

Grace gives quite a bit of milk for two little squirts like these, but so far they don't have any digestive problems.

There's one of her gentle kicks.  Didn't even faze Henry.

As you can see, we're getting a little snow.  I wish, if we're going to get snow every weekend, we would at least get five or six inches just once.

Yes, I believe Grace will get acquainted and bond with new babies just fine.  
Of course, the big kids aren't real happy about getting weaned.


I'm watching a free movie on my OLD TV!

The oldest grandson read my blog entry yesterday, started putting two and two together, and figured out how to get everything working on our television:  Roku, Antenna, Directv, the works.  Even as I do this entry, I'm watching the movie "Labor Day"; I read the book and liked it, so this is my opportunity to see what they did with it in a movie..  I have Amazon Prime, which gives me a lot of things to watch.  I couldn't watch Amazon without the Roku my Russian friend gave me some time back, so I'm grateful to him.  Thanks, Meesha!

The grandson used to work installing Directv, which gives him a pretty good working knowledge of how, where, and what to hook up on the back of a television.  At first everything on the Roku was coming in as black and white, but he went to his garage and found a different cable, and that fixed that problem.   It works great!  There was a problem also with the program having to stop and load in the middle of everything, but I think he adjusted something with the high definition.  That seems to have fixed it, since my movie is playing uninterrupted right now.

I am working with three remotes now, but I'm fine with that.  There's the original TV remote that I hadn't used in years, the Roku remote, and the Directv remote.

I'm a happy camper.  Wouldn't it be funny if this led to our getting rid of Directv eventually?

We brought home two baby calves yesterday, but that will be another entry.

Friday, February 27, 2015


There isn't a thing wrong with our old TV.  It's a plasma set, which means it does use quite a bit of electricity; but the picture is fine, and it's just the right size (46 inch).  My only complaint is that I can't hook up a Roku or antenna to it because there's no place to plug them into the television.  The only place I could hook up either one of those is used by the Directv box.  I'd really love to be able to use both an antenna AND the Roku alongside our Directv.  

The main reason I want the antenna is that our public TV station, KCPT, has three antenna channels.  One seems to be nothing but cooking (19.3), but the other extra (19.2) has the same sort of educational programming that the original broadcasts offer, except there are shows you can't see on the original channel.

I know all this because some time back I invested in a small TV for the bedroom, just so I could experiment with Roku and an antenna.  Even though we are thirty miles from Kansas City as the crow flies, a tiny, cheap set of rabbit-ears brings in all the local stations amazingly well.  

I'm thinking a person might do something with an A/B switch.  But what I REALLY would need is an A/B/C switch, and even then, it might not be so desirable if it forced me to get out of my chair and fish around behind the television for a switch... using a flashlight, of course, because it's dark back there, and the television weighs a ton.  The advantage is that I would see all those cobwebs that collect back there and deal with them as a good wife ought. 

You can see the problem with fiddling around the back of the television.  Also, we already have enough things plugged in over there to give an electrician nightmares.  

It isn't that we can't afford another television, but no more TV than the two of us watch, I am not about to invest in a new "smart" TV.  Every time I'm tempted, I lecture myself with the reminder that we really do not watch that many hours of television.  

If you've followed my electronics adventures in the past, you probably think I will end up doing the stupid thing and purchasing a really expensive new TV, but you'd be wrong about that.  This time the balance is too much in favor of waiting until the current one stops working... in other words, doing the sensible thing.  Let's see, it must be about twelve years old.  Surely it won't last forever.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Things I keep

I sometimes look around the house at all the unnecessary things I hang onto, things I have taken with me every time we moved to a different house, and I wonder what it is that makes them worth keeping.  I'm not one to dust any more than I have to, so you would think I'd try to get rid of "dust-catchers".  Case in point:
Cliff's mom worked at the place that made these types of decorative things to hang on a wall.  I believe the name of the company was Sexton; when Cliff wakes up I'll check with him and change the information if it's incorrect.  

You can still buy this stuff, and for a very low price; go to Ebay, type "sexton decor" into the search, and be prepared to spend some time, if you intend to look at all the results.  The company must have been turning them out by the thousands, as plentiful as they are.  And yet, I hang onto it and actually prize the thing.  I stored it away in the junk room of our old house for years, simply because I was tired of looking at it.  Finally I decided that, because of the story behind it, I should display it in a prominent place.

Before she was ever my mother-in-law, Melva worked in the factory where they made these things.  The way she related it to me, this particular item had a slight flaw, and employees could buy flawed merchandise for a low price.  You can take that for what it's worth, since Cliff's mom sometimes had a tendency to "dress up" the truth.  I don't say that to put her down; it was a fascinating part of her unique personality that still makes us smile when we relate certain stories from the past. 

So she bought it for Cliff's birthday.  This all happened before I ever met Cliff, by the way.  

When Cliff and I got married, he was living at home.  I had been living alone in an apartment for three years, so I had the basic furniture we needed to start housekeeping, while Cliff had little more than his paycheck to bring to the table.  (Insert snickering here as I think of the comments Cliff will make when he reads this.)

Cliff's parents never had a lot of money or valuable belongings, but his dad always had the idea that if he owned a widget (I remember having a teacher in high school who was always using the word "widget"), it was the best danged widget ever created.  The man lived in fear of thieves breaking in and stealing something of his;  It was really hilarious if you only knew how little he had!  

We had been married for a couple of years with one baby and another on the way when Cliff's mom handed over the horses-running plaque.  "Elwood didn't want to give this to you at first because he didn't think you-uns would stay married," she told me.  

Yes, friends and neighbors, my father-in-law was afraid Cliff and I would divorce, and I would end up with this priceless treasure.  

Two of Cliff's siblings had very brief marriages before he and I met, and I guess I can't blame his parents for thinking our marriage wouldn't last any longer than the others had.

So I prize that horses-on-the-wall plaque, not because of the value of the thing, but because of the story behind it.  I'm so glad I never gave my in-laws any cause to worry about the final destination of that work of art.

Monday, February 23, 2015

It was a good day for selling things

Maybe the stars were aligned just right yesterday.  I sold my hens, and probably could have sold them all if I'd wanted to.  Here's what happened:  One man contacted me Saturday asking if I would sell him just the two Buff Orpingtons, at $15 each.  Since it seemed to be taking awhile to sell my extra hens, I agreed.  It's better to sell two than none, right?  And then, not two hours later, I got an email from somebody at Polo saying, "Do you still have the hens?  I am down to two hens that are too old to lay, and four more is exactly what I'm looking for."  

Well, of course, I already had two spoken for, and I hated to make somebody come from Polo for just two hens when she wanted four.  So I told her she could have the two Rhode Island Reds plus one of the cross-breds (Barred Rock/Orpington) that I had intended to keep.  Both people showed up yesterday and paid $15 each for the hens, so now I have some money for chicken feed.  Although with only four hens and a rooster, I won't be buying nearly as much feed!  The two pullets, of course, are laying, and Chickie started laying again last week, so I'm sure Mama Hen will be laying within a week.  Four hens should average giving me three eggs a day, and that's more than enough for me and Cliff.  I kept the rooster around to fertilize the eggs, so if Mama Hen decides to set again, we can raise more babies.  I really enjoyed her little family last summer.

But chickens aren't all we sold.  Cliff's sister and her husband have decided they like St. Louis and are definitely not moving back to their farm at Odessa; so they decided to sell the Mahindra tractor that we've been "babysitting" for six years.  Cliff had me help him put an ad in for the tractor Saturday evening, and within twenty-four hours it was sold and heading to south Missouri.  AND... while we were placing ads, Cliff had me put one in for the livestock trailer we bought last year.  It's a huge thing, far too big for our needs and hard to navigate with.  After dark someone came and paid cash for it, so that's gone.  We do need a livestock trailer, but not such a big one.  Meanwhile, we will borrow Cliff's brother's trailer like we've done so often.  

I've mentioned to Cliff that I've been having to milk more often because Gracie turned out to be one of those cows whose milk tastes a little "off" in winter.  He had never heard of such a thing, since I am the one who handles the milk; once the milk starts tasting off, I just milk more often and give the older stuff to the chickens.  If I keep it really fresh, it tastes fine.  I decided to Google up an answer to his questions about why this would happen, and once again the Internet came through: 

Oxidized flavor is also a reaction of milkfat. Milk with a cardboardy or metallic taste is more common in milk during the winter and early spring. The off- flavor can be detected in raw milk, but sometimes not until two days after collection. It can also be a problem in any pasteurized milk or dairy product that has not been flavored. Causes are different than for the light induced flavor of milk purchased at stores, although the taste is similar.
Increased susceptibility of milk to the chemical development of oxidation is due primarily to less antioxidant in the milk. The main cause is the decreased amount of vitamin E, an antioxidant, in stored forages, which reduces the amount found in milk.  Once milkfat has begun to oxidize, the intensity will continue to increase overtime. The taste may not be apparent in the milk, but may be detected in high fat products such as butter or vanilla ice cream.  
Thoughout all thse years I've milked cows and consumed raw milk, I had noticed some cows' milk tasted "off" in winter but never knew the reason!  It is, indeed, more noticeable in certain cows.  Apparently if I pasteurized the milk, that would fix the problem, but do you know how much a home pasteurizer costs?  Besides, it would just be something else to wash and clean up every time I used it.  
When we lived at our first twenty-acre place, wild garlic grew all over the pasture.  Old Suzy loved the stuff, and her milk was almost undrinkable after she'd been partaking of it.  If you took the lid off a gallon of milk, it smelled like garlic-breath.  I finally found out that if I put her up in the barn lot for a few hours before milking, that fixed the problem.
And that's your update from rural Lafayette County today.  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The perils of the Internet

This morning I was messaging with the grandson's fiance, who has been, and still is, sick with what is probably the flu.  She had said something in a message about how she would like to lie in bed all day but the grandson would want her to get up and do something.  "Tell him his grandma said you are sick and need to rest," I ordered.

She answered that she would, and that Arick wouldn't argue with that.  But before she could answer, I somehow found myself in an old message with a local friend.  Thinking I had told HER to tell somebody what grandma said, I apologized and told her that message was for Heather... and then I realized that the message did not shown up there, but in the message with Heather.   So how did I end up in the middle of an old message with this friend?  I have no clue.  I do know that when something like that happens, I always feel like an idiot.  We chatted for awhile and I tried to back out gracefully.

In the first place, I have too many Facebook friends... local people that I don't know at all, or perhaps only know by their faces; this makes it easier to end up with these "duh" moments.  For the most part, they were the ones who sent the friend request, not the other way around.  If I know who the person is sending the request, and we have mutual friends, I accept, but it always puzzles me why someone who runs in entirely different circles and who is obviously out of my league would even care what I post on Facebook.  Funny thing is, if one of these people unfriends me, it's usually someone who sent me the friend request in the first place, and often I don't notice they are gone for months, if at all.  Because how do you miss someone you don't know?  Occasionally I go through my list and un-friend people with whom I have no interaction.  One of those re-friended me the other day.  Honestly, except for the guy's last name and that he's a local, I don't have a clue who it is.  As far as I know, I've never met him.  But I once again accepted his request even though he never has a thing to say to me.  

Truthfully, most of my faraway Internet friends are the ones I really "know", thanks to blogs and the old chat room.  Some I've met face to face, some I haven't, but I still know a lot about them because of things we've shared online.

I was reminded of the early days in the Christian chat room when I was new to the Internet.  Someone emailed me (remember when we used email?) a funny joke, which I don't recall now.  While it had had a slight innuendo in the text, it was barely even risque; I forwarded it to all my Christian chat friends, including WESTBILT, a Baptist preacher.  Unfortunately I didn't read to the end, because after the hilarious joke I had laughed at was another joke that WAS dirty.  Believe me, it didn't take long for people to tell me about it, but not WESTBILT.  Redfaced, I sent him an apology and explained that I had not read the email to the end.  He kindly let me know, in his unique way, that it was no big deal, and I felt much better.

If you've been on the Internet long, I'm sure something like this has happened to you.  I think these days maybe it's the text-messaging that embarrasses most folks.  Thank goodness I don't text.

No chickens have left the property

Yeah, the guy who said he would be here was a no-show, and didn't call to let me know he wasn't coming.  This doesn't even frustrate me any more; it happens more often than not, when I post something on Craigslist, so I've come to expect it.  Meanwhile, I intended to hold the four hens in a cage all day for the guy because they are so hard to catch in daylight, but two of them escaped and were running around free by afternoon.  Which was no big deal.  It wasn't hard to get them in the pen.

So, a man called last night and only wanted the two Buff Orpingtons.  Once again this morning I crept into the dark hen house and captured chickens, putting them in the stronger side of the cage.  I think there is a better chance of this fellow showing up, since he actually took down directions to the place and said, "I'll be there after church."

Meanwhile, someone from Polo emailed me and wants all four.  She even left her phone number.  I explained that a man was supposed to be coming to take two of them, but if she wanted more than two, I would part with one of the mixed-breed hens that I love so much.  If she comes, the worst thing about it is that we will end up chasing hens around the hen-house in daylight, which I hate to do.  I think if she is interested, I will tell her she has to help catch the hens.  

A lot of times you can tell a caller really has no intentions of showing up:  They will ask their questions and then say, "OK, I have to discuss it with my husband/wife.  I may get back with you."  

No, they won't.  That person is just a lookie-loo, curious to know details so they will have some comparison as they sell their own similar items or search for bargains.  Sometimes I am the lookie-loo, so I don't mind this.  At least they didn't lie to me and say they were coming when they had no intentions of showing up.  

Yesterday a dairy giving its location as Harrisonville advertised bottle calves $50 cheaper than any of the others on Craigslist.  I was excited and called.  The call went to voice mail and I left my information, but within half an hour the ad had been pulled and I got no call-backs.  Obviously their cheaper prices helped them sell out quickly!  So I still wait for the Holden people to call me, and hope they don't run out of calves before they get to my name on their list.   

Friday, February 20, 2015

"Isn't having a cow a lot of work for a hobby?"

That's the question a reader asked yesterday:  The answer, in a word, is no.  This whole business of cow-keeping involves very little day-to-day work for me, personally.  Keep in mind that Cliff does a lot of the hard stuff, like taking the big bales of hay to the cows with the tractor, building temporary fences here and there, fighting a frozen hose to get water to the calves, and much more; most of the actual labor is his.  He would not be bothering with cows at all if it weren't for me.  It's amazing the things a good man will do for his wife.  Now, I could be like a lot of women and say "we" love having the cows and calves, but I don't kid myself:  Cliff likes to see me enjoy the cows.  That is the only reason he is involved.

Here's what I do twice a day:  I bundle up (if it's cold), go to the barn (right in my front yard a few steps away), feed the cats, put a little sweet feed in the calf lot for Gracie-the-cow, let her in a side door and take her through the barn to the back door, which I open to give her access to the calves.  She goes to the feed bunk and eats while the calves nurse.  I go in the house, set the timer for eight minutes and read or surf the Internet.  When the timer sounds, I go out, separate the cow from the calves, and turn her back out.  Chores are done.  I do milk the cow once every four or five days.  This takes me about five minutes because Gracie is an "easy milker", which is to say she has big enough teats for a hand to grab easily and the milk absolutely pours out of them.  She has also gotten to the point where she stands very nicely for me while I milk; I still put the anti-kick device on her, though.  Safety first.  I'm not a spring chicken, I don't move as fast as I used to, and my bones might break more easily than they did when I was young.  

Now, the big question that I hear all the time is this:  "Why do you do it?"  

From 1967 through the early nineties, I milked cows twice a day.  For a lot of that time, I raised bottle calves on the milk they gave me.  We didn't go on vacation, and I didn't mind.  We never could afford many vacations anyhow.  We couldn't spend the night away from home, but we both preferred being at home.  You have to milk cows every twelve hours if they are going to keep producing milk, and people who can milk a cow for you (or will) are scarce as hen's teeth.  

I loved the routine, and I loved the cows as much as many of you love your dogs and cats.  However, when I began working away from home, I decided it was time to give up the cows.  We did take some vacations at this time, and I will admit it was nice to get away once in awhile.  I didn't even miss the cows.  

Then I took early retirement because my knees absolutely couldn't take the constant walking at Kohl's DC.  I began to dream of pretty little Jersey cows.  Thanks to Craigslist I found Bonnie, a registered Jersey cow that was the stuff dreams are made of.  I didn't want to be tied down to twice-a-day milking, so at first I simply took all the milk, once a day, that her bull calf was unable to take.  Once he got big enough to consume all her milk, I was free of the milking chore and only put him in a stall overnight if I wanted to steal some milk.  In the short run, this was a great plan, although since Bonnie was a very heavy milker, it eventually took its toll on her beautiful udder.  That is the reason I have been hesitant to simply turn Gracie loose in the pasture with the three babies she's been feeding.  

My Uncle Carl quit farming and moved to town because that's what Aunt Bernice wanted.  He slept at the house in town, but still spent most of his days at the farm.  When a person has done something he loved doing for so many years, it's just hard to give it up; it's a way of life.  Grandma Stevens milked a cow most of her life, even though she was a widow for many of those years and Uncle Leo, right up the road, would have gladly given her all the milk and cream she needed.  It was one of the things I loved when I spent time at her farm, going to the barn and watching her milk "Old Patsy".   Perhaps that's when the seed was planted in my mind that made me love cows.  Grandma wasn't in the best of health, but she refused to give up milking, and finally Uncle Leo just loaded up the cow and took her away. 

I'm not a real farmer, but for some reason being able to get my own milk from my own cow fulfills me.  I like the teamwork, the way the cow and I work together.  I make no money at it, even though I end up with calves to sell, because the untimely death of one cow pretty much takes care of any profit we may have accidentally made.

I just love cows.  That's all.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Perhaps I've sold some hens

I sold several older hens before my young ones started laying.  I like having a few eggs to give away, but not as many as I was getting at the time.  I kept two of the old hens:  My pet, Chickie, and Mama Hen, the mother of the seven pullets I kept.  Neither of them will lay until sometime next month, but I wanted a dependable "settin' hen" around, and I like Chickie; she's just a pet with a unique personality.  I will probably keep those two until they die a natural death... or until I do.

The youngsters began to lay eggs around the first of November, all seven pullets.  And now, every day, I get six or seven eggs.  Perhaps once a week I only bring in five, but most of the time it's six or seven nice, medium-sized brown eggs.  If you do the math, you will see that's WAY too many eggs every week.

So I advertised them on Craigslist using this picture, but saying I want to keep the three bronze-colored ones and just sell the two Buff Orpingtons and the two Rhode Island Reds.  The only reason I want to keep the bronze hens is that I think they are pretty.  They are half Barred Rock and half Buff Orpington.  I will still have too many eggs once Chickie and Mama Hen start laying, but at least it won't be as many.  

I've had these on Craigslist for quite a while with no luck, but yesterday evening a man called saying he wanted them and said he could come today.  This being Craigslist, he might show and he might not.  It's amazing how many people make an appointment and don't show up.  However, I wanted to be prepared.  

Last time I sold some hens, the lady who bought them came in daylight, and Cliff and I had a merry old time catching those chickens.  He hates having anything to do with chickens, but after watching me chasing them around the hen house futilely, he decided to help.  The lady buying them didn't offer to lend a hand.  Poor Cliff seems to be allergic to chickens, and these hens were flying and flailing around stirring up all kinds of nastiness, dust, and feathers.  My husband was NOT a happy camper.  

So this morning while the calves were nursing on the cow, I took my flashlight to the chicken house to get some hens in a cage.  Chickens are totally blind in the dark, and I had a cage waiting outside the coop.  Trouble is, I, too, am blind in the dark.  So I took the flashlight with me, shone it on the roosting hens, located one of the hens I wanted to sell, turned the light off, and HOPED I was grabbing the one I had spotted.  I repeated this four times, and I do believe I got the right ones.  There was some cackling, but not a lot of struggling and NO chicken dust was raised in the house.  No husband was involved in this activity, either.  

Now to cross my fingers and hope the guy shows up.  If he does, I'll be $60 richer.  If he asks if I'll take less, I will probably cut $10 off the price for him.

I'm still on a search for bottle calves, but I'm not taking just anything.  My people at Holden have some Jersey/Holstein bull calves, but it sounds like the ones they have are more Jersey than Holstein, so they probably aren't very big.  I talked to a lady whose address showed as Buckner and who advertised Jersey/Angus cross calves.  Buckner is nearby, and I thought I could go look them over.  Nope.  Her son is raising them over 100 miles south of here.  He would deliver at no cost, but when I asked if they had any black calves, she said no.  Somebody is lying here, because anything you breed to Angus will have a black calf.  

Here's what you get when you do a Craigslist search for bottle calves.  As you can see, there is no shortage.  That top ad is the dairy where I bought Moose and Whitey for $325 each.  I really don't want to pay $425 for one calf that will only bring a dollar a pound when we sell him as a yearling.  It was all I could do to make myself pay $325 for the two I have!  Beef cattle bring a small fortune, but dairy steers sell mostly for cutter/canner prices.  

So, I wait and try to decide.  I'm tempted to buy a bottle dairy heifer for $325 just because I enjoy raising dairy heifers, but there's no money-making potential there.  It would just be a "fun" thing.  

Maybe the people at Holden will eventually have what I want.  I may just end up keeping these big four-month-old babies on Gracie until it's time to dry her up.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The calves

The three calves are growing at such a rate I can hardly believe it.  I took a couple of shots in the dark this morning.  By the way, there is no wind blowing and it's rather nice out there for February.  Temperatures in the 20's.  

Notice that Gypsy is showing her Angus side.

Yes, she is "beefing up".  This is a wonderful thing, since there is a lot more demand for beef cattle than for dairy.  The white on her belly and face come from her Holstein genes (Grace is part Holstein), but I do think her body will turn out to be very much like her Red Angus daddy.  She will, however, give more milk than a full-blooded Angus, which means she will raise some nice calves for somebody.  

Penny, my other pregnant heifer, is bred to a Black Angus.  It would be nice if she had a heifer too.  Of course, if we were to sell it, steers bring more money per pound.  So as long as we have a healthy calf and no problems arise, we win either way.

Grace isn't giving as much milk as she was at first.  She doesn't get a lot of grain, only a bite to keep her coming up to feed the calves, and a nice big serving (two big coffee-cans full) when I milk her every five days, because I don't want her stomping around and being restless when I'm practically underneath her.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

More ramblings

We received two or three inches of snow overnight, which drifted on the porches, thanks to the north wind that finally stopped sometime in the wee hours of the morning.  I'm not afraid of cold temperatures except when a north wind is blowing.  Not that there's anything I can do about the weather, but when I see the temperature in single digits, bundle up, step outside, and find there is no wind, I do thank God for that, even though none of my chores these days keeps me outside more than ten minutes or so.  

Cliff and I are spending most of our time reading on the Kindles.  Cliff is reading "Fall of Giants" by Ken Follett, and I"m still reading "The Stand".  I will say that it's getting more interesting now.  It's given me food for thought:  What would really happen if the "super-flu" wiped out 95% of the world's population?  A lot of the scenario dreamed up by Stephen King seems like something that could happen, if you took all the witchie, hob-goblin, horror stuff out.  I wonder if anyone has every written a book along those lines, without the imaginary stuff.  Anyhow, I'm 72% of the way through; it will be a long time before I read another King book; I'm ready for some lighter reading. Margeret asked in a recent comment if I ever read any Robert B. Parker books:  I tried one, and didn't get through it because there was too much "he said" and "she said".  His use of language seemed awkward to me, although it could be because I was listening to it in audiobook form in the car with Cliff.  He didn't care for it either.  Maybe if I had actually been reading, it would have gone better.  

As far as Ken Follett, I will leave him to Cliff.  I tried my best to read "Pillars of the Earth" a few years back; Cliff and his sister loved the book, really got into it.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.

Moving on:  We've lived on this property since 1975, but had never had our well water tested, except that it was checked for hardness six years ago when we had a water softener put in.  The grandson called Culligan for a water softener when he finished the main portion of the remodel, and they did a test that showed not a trace of any contaminant in our water.  There is, however, a huge amount of calcium in the water, so much so that they told Arick city laws would not have allowed them to install a softener (I don't know why).  The only element making the water hard is calcium, nothing else.  So we should have strong bones from drinking all that calcium water for forty years.  We never had a softener until the past six years.  Never had air conditioning, either, until then.  

I'm still hoping that midget bull really did breed Grace.  Margaret asked if the fact that the cow didn't come in heat this time meant she could be pregnant:  Yes, Margaret, Usually if a cow has been coming in heat regularly, once every three weeks, and then stops coming in heat, she is bred... just like a woman is usually pregnant if she stops having periods.  If we don't see any activity out of her the weekend after next, we will consider her bred.  I do have another heifer who will be calving in May.  That's the extent of my calf-bearing herd right now.

The cold I had last week was totally gone by Sunday.  Now I'm stuck with 58 decongestant tablets I will probably never use.  

And that's all I have for today.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Random thoughts

The baby shared her recent cold with me.  There's no sore throat, no chest congestion.  Just a lot of snot being produced.  I NEVER take decongestants, but because I'm supposed to sing Sunday, I decided to get some sort of thing that would dry up the snot long enough for me to get through my song.  I hate decongestants because of the way they affect my body.  My eyes dry out and burn, for one thing.  I'd rather blow my nose.  But, this one time, I decided it wouldn't kill me to buy some. 

I must have spent ten minutes trying to find a decongestant that didn't have acetaminophen included as the main ingredient.  Good grief, people, if I had a headache or fever, I'd take a Tylenol.  No wonder people overdose on acetaminophen so often; it's added to cough syrup, cold pills... EVERYTHING associated with colds.  I finally found a store brand allergy relief tablet with an antihistamine as the only active ingredient.  One pill supposedly lasts 24 hours.  I took one just to see if it had the desired effect, and I think it will do the job.   There are 60 of the tiny pills in the bottle, so I now have a lifetime supply of antihistamine.  Several lifetime supplies at the rate I take them.

I recently bought the cheapest Kindle made, even though I have the free Kindle app on my IPad; if you want a Kindle, they are $59 right now .  Cliff received the basic Kindle from the grandson's fiance before Christmas, and I was so impressed with how long it holds a charge that I simply had to have one.  I have a very old basic Kindle, but that one won't let Cliff and me share a library, and I wanted him to be able to access my books.  I wish I knew someone who could use the old one, because it works great.  It isn't a touch screen, but in some ways I like the old style.  If you swipe the new Kindle screen, or touch it too hard, it throws you several pages ahead!  Now that I've figured out the problem, though, I use a very light touch and all is well.   I also have an old-style Nook that I would gladly give someone. 

I recently read "Maude" on the Kindle.  At the time it was 99 cents, and it looked interesting.  I had barely started it when I realized I was going to love it, and recommended it on Facebook.  The friends who read it also loved it.  I talked Cliff into reading it, and he, too, enjoyed the book... if you can enjoy a story based on the life of real woman who just couldn't catch a break.  Cliff's only complaint was that the book was depressing. 

I enjoy books by John Sandford and Michael Connelly, suspense and thriller-type books.  I'm tired of James Patterson's Alex Cross stories.  Honestly, all the thriller and suspense books I read are very forgettable.  I enjoy them as I read them, then forget the whole story line when I'm done.  

It seems as though my favorites are always biographies, or fictionalized stories based on someone's life.  Laura Hillenbrand has hit two home runs for me:  "Seabiscuit" and "Unbroken".  Seabiscuit caused me to buy a horse several years ago.  I remember reading the book aloud to Cliff on a road trip, and while reading the part describing a horse race I got so excited I was reading louder and faster as the race drew to a close.  We both laughed about how caught up I had gotten in the race.  Forget the movie, though.  

If I were going to recommend only one book, it would be Unbroken.  Read it, if you read anything at all.  Don't wait for the movie, if there happens to be one in the future.  Read the book.  

Right now I'm reading a Stephen King book, "The Stand", that I'm not enjoying all that much, just because it was recommended.  I think we need to sometimes read something totally different than what we normally do.  So, just for me, read Unbroken.  It'll do you good.

In the real world, I'm still waiting for my calf suppliers to call with a couple of new babies for me.  

I guess that's all for my morning rambles.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

It's a God thing

That's what I tell people who look askance at me when I tell them Cliff and I are babysitting these days.  And then I fill in the blanks.  

It all began when Adam, the guy who has kept his horses on our property for several years, found out he was going to be a father.  The pregnancy was a bit of a surprise to both future parents, and it turned out not to be such an easy pregnancy.  There were problems that made us all wonder if the baby would make it through to full-term.

When I first learned there was going to be a baby, I was overtaken with the desire to have an infant around.  It had been years!  We have a great-granddaughter, but we really don't have much of a relationship with her.  We see her once or twice a month when she visits my daughter and her family.  I suddenly longed to hold and rock a tiny infant again, and I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps this couple would allow us to babysit their child.

But what would Cliff think?  We would be tied down.  Being in charge of someone's baby is a big responsibility... was I ready for that, and was Cliff?  So I broached the subject with him, expecting to hear him say, "Hell no!"  

And that would be that.  

But somehow the same bug that had bitten me seemed to have gotten to him, because he thought it was a wonderful idea.  Believe me, three years earlier we wouldn't have been of the same mind.  

I hadn't mentioned this to Adam and Amber yet, and I was somewhat nervous about bringing it up, afraid my offer to babysit would be rejected.  Turns out it was like an answer to their prayers, and they were thrilled with the prospect of having babysitters a couple of miles down the road, someone they knew and trusted.

Cliff and I had many discussions while we were waiting for "our" baby:  We would be tied down, but we hardly go anywhere these days anyhow.  My garden might suffer (it did), but as I told Cliff, I don't have to have a garden.  I'd rather have a baby around.  Then there are the cows, but I could always sell the cows and get others in a couple of years (that wasn't necessary).  So, we were prepared to make whatever sacrifices necessary for that baby.  It was an opportunity we didn't even realize we had longed for until it presented itself.  

Then she was born, and when she was four or five days old, her parents invited us to come and meet her.  

She was so tiny I refused to pick her up from her bed... I asked her mother to pick her up and hand her to me.  My babies and grandbabies were all big as newborns, and this tiny thing seemed fragile in my arms.  

She was about six weeks old when we started babysitting, the most beautiful child I thought I had ever seen.

She kept me plenty busy, but Cliff and I both fell in love with her.  Any time she was awake, she was moving, kicking and batting the air with her hands.  She smiled easily and often.  

As she grew older, she turned all lovey and huggie, and is still that way at eighteen months of age.  She voluntarily hugs each of us every single morning and throughout the day, laying her head on our shoulders and patting us.  That freely-given affection is therapeutic to a couple of old folks like us.  Even when she throws a typical toddler tantrum, if you pick her up in the middle of it she will start hugging and patting as she cries.  

She's gone to visit her grandparents in Iowa for a few days, and while Cliff, especially, bemoans the fact that she won't be with us during that time, I remind him that it's a good thing for all concerned:  Cora gets to form a real relationship with her distant relatives, which is great for all concerned; and Cliff and I don't get into the habit of taking her for granted.  In this case, absence does make the heart grow fonder.  

Everything about this story, I say, is a God thing, simply from the way the pieces of the puzzle came together to make a perfect situation for us all.  I don't know how long we will be babysitting this little girl, but I do know that when it comes to an end, whether it's when her parents find the place in the country they long for, or perhaps when she starts school, that, too, will be a "God thing", and it will be the perfect ending for all of us.  Any relationship that began so magically is bound to end exactly the way it's supposed to.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Cattle breeding 101

A year ago, my usual calf suppliers had dairy-fresh Jersy/Holstein calves for sale, as they always do in February and March.  I called and ordered two bull calves, and told them I would like one bull calf that looked mostly Jersey and was really small.

You see, I like small Jersey cows.  There was a time when all Jerseys were small-framed; then in the sixties, breeders started selecting for size and little by little the average size of the breed got larger.  Oh, there were still tiny ones around, but on average, Jerseys were larger than in the old days.  My plan was to leave the smaller of the two calves un-castrated, keep him around long enough to breed my two cows, and then butcher him before he became dangerous.  Jersey bulls have the reputation of being very ornery and, yes, downright dangerous, especially after the age of two.  

When the grandson went out with Cliff to castrate Jethro, the larger of the two calves I bought, he couldn't believe I was keeping the tiny one for a bull.  I explained to him that I like small Jersey cows; Cliff gave him a look that said, "Don't ask... when she gets one of these ideas, it's useless to talk to her."  

Jethro grew very nicely for a mostly Jersey steer.  We had to sell him earlier than expected because he began nursing Grace, the pregnant heifer, but cattle prices being what they are, we were happy with the price he brought.

Meanwhile Homer, the little bull, barely grew at all.  Oh, he matured.  He just didn't seem to grow much.  As the time drew near for Grace to have her calf, I wondered more and more if Homer could do the job required of him in the three months' time before Grace needed his services.  I began to question why I even wanted to own a bull when all we have to do is load up a cow or heifer, haul her a few miles, give a man $50, and let the nice Red Angus bull do his job.   No risk of being killed by a raging Jersey bull and no worries.

Now, there is such a thing as a miniature Jersey.  This bull we kept would qualify, believe me.  Trouble is, nobody who knows cattle wants one, only certain "hobbyists" who like cute little cows.  I don't like them that small!

About a month after having her lovely, half-Red-Angus calf, Grace came into heat.  Homer had no problem knowing what he should do, and he never let Grace out of his sight for a full forty-eight hours.  He tried, oh how he tried.  He was equipped for the job and had everything needed, except for height.  He was barely taller than the Holstein calves I had just purchased.

Every three weeks Grace would come into heat, and every time Homer dutifully followed her around, trying his best to scale the heights of Mount Gracie.  I told Cliff, "We just need to butcher him and haul the cow to the Red Angus bull."  

"Maybe he'll catch her on a hillside," Cliff said.  Yeah.  Right.  We had even put a halter on her one time and tried to make things happen (picture that, if you will).  Thank goodness no neighbors were watching.  

This past weekend was the time for Gracie to cycle again... I had it written on the calendar.  

We didn't see any of the usual activity, and in fact, Homer showed no interest in her at all.  He didn't even act as though she existed.

Could it be?

That's the bull in the middle, between Gracie and Penny.  All three animals are pretty much at an equal distance away from the camera.

Friday, February 06, 2015

This is how we roll in Lafayette County, Missouri

Except sometimes we don't bother to take it out back, and we just leave it on the front porch.

Chuck Brodsky

Ashes from the wood stove filling up the bucket
Spilling out the top, so where am I gonna chuck it?
Take it out the back door to where I never mow
Find a little spot that no one'll ever go to

Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good

That old tv - it quit on me brother
Ten years ago - I got me another
First one's sitting out by the porch swing
With the fridge and the stove and a bunch of other things

Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good

That rusty old car - it's got no motor
If it had any gas I'd try to explode her
Hubcaps, hoods, and old transmissions
Take 'em to the river - gonna make for good fishing

Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good

The food in the fridge - it's all turned green
And the chicken bones that have been picked clean
Some on the counter - some on the floor
Let's take 'em out the back door

Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good

I own the mornings

There was a time when I slept through the nights, I'm sure of it, but it hasn't happened for a long time.  I was always an early riser, but during the night my sleep used to be uninterrupted.  At some point when I was in my forties, I started waking up often during the night, for no apparent reason.  As I talked to other women, middle-aged and beyond, I found that many of them had the same problem.  Part of the problem, in my case, seemed to be my aging bladder, but I think there were other causes I've never figured out.  

I have no problem initially going to sleep, but I wake up about every two hours during the night.  Once awake, I get up and go to the bathroom.  Most of the time I go back to sleep after a while, except for that 2 A.M. call.  After that one, I often lie awake until 4, when I finally get out of bed.  I refuse to get up any earlier than that.  

Getting up at four is the bright side of the picture, because I love early mornings.  Everything is quiet:  I can surf the Internet or read or play Suduku on the IPad.  Oh, and the taste of that first cup of coffee in the morning!  It's the best part of my day.  I grind my coffee beans and inhale that wonderful fragrance as I put it in the brewer basket, and my taste buds get all excited waiting three whole minutes for the Bunn coffeemaker to do its job.  

After being up and awake for an hour or so, I go outside to tend to the cow and calves; I put my coat, hat, and boots on over my pajamas and robe.  Once done with that, I'm back inside again for my last cup of coffee.  On babysitting days I get dressed and comb my hair before the little charmer gets here.  Often, on days she won't be here, I leave my pajamas and housecoat on until after Cliff gets up and eats breakfast.  He gets up anywhere between 6:30 and 7:30, and I see to our breakfast.  

In spring and summer I often take my coffee cup outside in the early hours around sunrise and stroll around, seeing what surprises nature has in store for me.  Even in winter, forced outside by the bobby calves I choose to raise, I like going outside and seeing what kind of day is in store.  Windy?  Cloudy?  Bitter cold?  I'm ready for anything after being outside for a little while.  Give me your best shot, Mother Nature!

As for my interrupted sleep each night, I've come to terms with that.  I must be getting all the sleep I need, because it's been this way for years and I seem to be dealing with it.  At least I own the mornings!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Hampell's store

I have fond memories of the time when my parents were the switchboard operators in Guss, Iowa, an unincorporated community.  The mailing address there was actually Villisca.  Just down the road was Hampell's store:  They sold gasoline, chicken feed, and groceries.  My parents had good credit there, and would sometimes send me down the road for flour or sugar or some other necessary item, telling me to have Edgar put it on the charge account.  There was a time I had the desire for something or other that Hampell's sold and Mother said we couldn't afford it.  I suggested we just charge it, and I got a lengthy explanation to make me understand that when a person charges something, they eventually have to pay for it.  I imagine I was five or six years old at the time.

If Mother had hens that weren't laying any eggs, she would catch them, bind their lower legs together with twine, hand them to me by their feet, and send me to Hampell's, who would buy them and truck them on down the road.  Any money Hampell paid for them went on our charge... it was usually only pocket change.  Those hens would squawk pitifully all the way as I carried them upside-down to their final destiny.  

Hampell's was really the center of the community, a wonderful gathering place.  There were huge stacks of livestock feed just inside the door, and I recall scaling to the top of the pile and playing "Old Maid" with some little boy I knew from school.  Mother and Daddy were always good for an ice-cream-cone if I asked nicely.  On the Fourth of July, everyone in the surrounding area would bring whatever fireworks they'd bought and we could all enjoy them together.  It usually made for a nice show.  Great memories!  

When you walked inside the store, you smelled Edgar Hampell's cigar smoke.  He had a cigar in his mouth most of the time, although it wasn't usually lit.  He lived right next door to the store, and his wife kept the house looking like a showplace.  She had Good Housekeeping magazines neatly stacked underneath an end table, and I'm sure that's where she got her decorating ideas; she had a lovely yard and garden, too, with sweet peas growing on the fence on either side of the gate.  I recall eating an evening meal with them once; it's the first time I ever heard of "Harvard beets", which I've loved ever since.  Back when Canasta was the popular card game, neighbors would take turns gathering at one anothers' homes for card parties; Hampells' were one of the participants in these parties, and they often hosted the events.

In the background of this picture of me is a building that was directly behind Hampell's store, and that was where he met me to take charge of the hens I'd carried down the road.  You can tell how close the store was to our house.  

Here's what the place looked like in 1996;  there was still a hint of its former glory.  Edgar's house is in the picture too, but all hints of its former glory were gone.  

And when we passed through in 2011, the store was barely recognizable.

Although Edgar's old house was not only still standing at this time, but occupied as well, it had deteriorated even further.  It was extremely hot weather at the time, and the occupants were sitting outside trying to keep cool.  One of them, a man, approached us, and I told him we were just going down memory lane and that I had lived in Guss as a child.  

I'm not sure, but I think I heard banjo music in the background, and we left pretty quickly.


Twice a day, I turn Grace in with the three calves and they take care of milking her.  She likes them all and enjoys feeding them.  She also loves the fact that I give her a small bite of sweet feed for cooperating.  By "small bite", I mean about 1/4 of a large coffee can, just a taste, to motivate her to come when I call.  

Before I turn her in with the calves, I make sure to close the door to the stall where the calves spend the night; I haven't been letting them in there lately, but I take pity on them when be single-digit temperatures are expected (as there were last night), and I close the gate that leads to a temporary pen we've made in our yard where the calves' water and hay bale is.  (You know you're a redneck when you keep cows in your yard.)  If Grace sees the stall door open, she goes in there and starts nibbling on the square bales of clover hay (they aren't really square, they're oblong... but that's what people call them).  

at least I remembered to close the gate to the yard-pen
If I leave the gate to the temporary pen open, she will go through and start eating the calves' hay, even though there is an identical bale outside in the pasture to which she has access all the time.  It isn't a big deal really, I just have to get my livestock prod and go chase her out of forbidden territory, of course with three calves in hot pursuit.  I smack her soundly with the livestock prod, yell "hut, hut" to her, and she slowly goes back where she belongs.  By the way, if "livestock prod" sounds like an instrument of terror...

there it is, a white, fiberglass stick with a black handle, not the electric kind of prod that shocks.  You can smack Grace with it as hard as you like and she won't move a bit faster, because it doesn't hurt.  It is VERY handy, though, for holding in front of the calves when they try to follow Grace into the barn after their meal.  I can just tap them on their little heads and they step back.  Once they get used to the prod, I can drive them anywhere by simply tapping them on one side or another.  

So this morning, I forgot to slide the door to the stall closed.  And Grace, once she stepped out of the barn, noticed this out of the corner of her eye and, rather than walk straight ahead to the "small bite" of sweet feed awaiting her, she made a sharp left turn into the stall... where, in addition to clover hay, there was a large coffee-can-full of feed that I had just poured into a calf feeder.  I grabbed the prod and beat away.  She didn't even feel it.  So here's what this morning's milking looked like:

By the way, I think my chores are about to get a little more labor-intensive:  These calves will soon be four months old.  I would love to wean them and put new calves on the cow, so I've put in a word with my usual suppliers for two Jersey/Holstein bull calves; it's the same folks I bought Grace from as a baby.  

This gets a little complicated because poor Cliff will have to figure out someplace for another makeshift pen.  Also, I will probably have to milk twice a day for awhile, because Gracie gives WAY too much milk for two Jersey-cross calves, and until they get used to a large amount of milk, they are likely to get scours (diarrhea); so I will have to take some of the surplus.  I really should get three calves, although there would still be too much milk for them at first.  I'd rather have more big Holsteins like Whitey and Moose, but the dairy now has them priced at $425 each, and I can buy two or three of the Jersey-cross calves for that price.  I just want something to sell later on, to bring in a little extra money.

Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Throwing good money after bad

That's an old idiom to which I never gave a lot of thought until recently.  If you look it up online, most definitions refer to the stock market, but I finally found the definition for which I was looking at Cambridge Dictionaries Online:  "to waste money by spending more money on something you have already spent money on that is no good."

However, I wouldn't say my tiny aluminum pressure cooker is "no good".  I won't be tossing it out.  It will be handy for potatoes, or smaller amounts of things.

I recently did a blog entry about the pressure cooker I bought, the cheapest aluminum model made.  I wanted to see if I would really use it before investing in a larger stainless steel model.  It only cost $25, but for double that money I could have purchased the one I really wanted.  First of all, I didn't stop to think how small a four-quart cooker would be.  Second, although I am not as scared of aluminum as many people, I refuse to cook anything in an aluminum pan that is even slightly acidic.

However, I did use that small pressure cooker enough to realize that I would definitely use it, and I have used it a LOT.  Did you know that you can cook a pot of pinto beans, after soaking, in about ten minutes?  The actual cooking only takes four minutes once the jiggler starts jiggling, but you have to get the pressure up before you start timing.  Potatoes are done in a couple of minutes.  An old tough chicken takes about twice as long as the recommended time, I learned, but you CAN get it tender.   

Today I'll be pressure-cooking some pork bones I dug out of the freezer.  

I saw a rice pudding recipe in the book that came with the cooker, and wanted to try it.  However, it requires a metal bowl that you can put inside the pressure cooker, and I don't have such a thing.  If any of my readers know where I can buy a single metal bowl that will fit inside a six-quart pan; it would be nice if the bowl had fairly straight sides, but I'll take what I can get.  Because yes, friends and neighbors, I threw some good money at a new stainless steel pressure cooker.  It will arrive today. 

 After typing the preceding paragraph I found other pressure cooker recipes that do not require the pan inside the cooker, but the Presto website says use one; I did find out, though, that it doesn't have to be metal:  Q. What types of cookware can be used in a pressure cooker?
A. Glass, metal and earthenware molds and other small, heat proof items such glass custard cups can be used in the pressure cooker. These types of containers are especially helpful in preparing beautiful desserts and side dishes. Use individual or small molds, glass custard cups, 4-6 ounce metal or tin gelatin molds or earthenware souffle dishes. Fill molds 2/3 full to allow for expansion of food, and fit them loosely into the pressure cooker on the cooking rack.

I know a lot of people are scared to death to use a pressure cooker, but if you follow instructions there is nothing dangerous about them.  You do have to stay in the house when using it, because when it first gets up to pressure, you wil need to adjust the heat beneath the pot a few times until the regulator is jiggling just right.  There are certain things you should not cook in a pressure cooker, but if you read the book that comes with it, you will find out what those few things are.

The little girl I babysit thinks the pressure cooker is a percussion instrument and dances when the regulator starts jiggling.  

 And on another note, just to let my readers know, the steer that was so very sick last week has fully recovered.  Thank goodness for modern antibiotics and veterinarians who know what to prescribe.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Never assume

Eighteen months or so ago, we moved back to the old house for awhile.  It wasn't a happy time for us, but I was babysitting with a child who brightened up our days.  She also kept me pretty busy when she was here.  Here at the mobile home, the cows are in plain sight most of the time, and it's easy to keep an eye on them, but once we moved to the house, the only way to see the animals was to go for a stroll outside.  They were never visible from the house.  Since I was babysitting an infant, it wasn't easy to go for a stroll.  Cliff has never been the one to keep the livestock in mind, although if I need him to check on them, he's glad to do it.  

I just assumed the cows would all be fine.  After all, what could go wrong?  As it turns out, plenty.

As lovely a six-month-old heifer calf as I've ever had got on frost-bitten alfalfa and bloated.  Bonnie-the-Jersey-cow had a heifer calf that was dead when I found it.  Neither of these things would have happened if we had still been living in the trailer house, but there you go.  Because Bonnie's udder was worse for the wear and I would have had to milk twice a day with her calf dead, we had her butchered.  

Last summer it happened again; my "assuming" got the best of me.  We had moved back to the mobile home, but I decided we needed to go on a road trip around the time a heifer was due to calve.  She was bred too young by the neighbor's bull (not his fault, the heifer was the one that got out and went to him).  I assumed things would probably be fine.  I wasn't quite sure of her due date.  Anyhow, of all times, that's when I wanted a road trip.  Stupid stupid stupid.  

She calved while we were gone.  The calf was so huge, the grandson had to pull it with a tractor after trying every way he could to pull that calf, which was dead by the time it was extracted.  

So.  Early this week when I went out to put the three calves with the cow for their milk, I heard one of them cough a couple of times.  No big deal, cows often cough.  Healthy calves this size don't get sick, at least none of mine ever did.  

But every twelve hours when the calves were turned in with the cow, I would hear the coughing, so I watched to see which calf it was:  It was Whitey, the one the grandson bought from us.

Their hay bale is directly outside the guest bedroom window, and they hang around that area a lot.  So I began looking out the window frequently during the day.  I noticed Whitey was laying down most of the time.  The next day I never once saw him eating hay or chewing his cud, although he still came to the cow for his milk.    

Thursday morning he was coughing frequently.  Obviously he wasn't getting better on his own, and I knew we were due for some single-digit temperatures this weekend.  There was no denying that he had pneumonia.  I called the vet, told him I had a 400-pound steer with pneumonia, and asked him to prepare a syringe with whatever medicine he thought would help.  I told him Cliff would be there to pick it up.  I didn't even check with Cliff before I made the call.  Honestly, I have no idea whether the calf weighs 400 pounds, but it was as good a guess as I could come up with.  Cliff brought two syringes home and administered the shots for me.  The vet bill was $45, but it beats having a calf die that I have so much time, energy, and money invested in.  The stuff prescribed for him were potions I never heard of:  Flunixiject Banamine 50mg and Draxxin 100mg.

The cold weather is arriving now, but Whitey has his appetite back.  Yesterday it almost seemed as though he was coughing more that ever, but maybe cows are like us:  When I've had a bad cold and the stuff in my lungs starts to break up because I'm better, it seems as though that's when I cough the most.  

So here's hoping Whitey continues to heal during the cold weather.  I hadn't been letting them in the barn recently, but after he got sick, I opened the stall so they have some shelter and get out of the wind.

That's Whitey today, looking straight at the camera.  I think he'll make it.