Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Campers

Christmas is past, our company has begun the long trip home. We are having popcorn for dinner, as we overdosed on good food. I think this is a fabulous idea for two reasons…#1 no dishes #2 Randyman is the popcorn chef in the house.

It was slightly above freezing today and the snow was starting to melt off, when the wind picked up and it started blowing a wet snow from the south, right into the animal shelters. I ‘suited up’ and went out to fix Miss Dolly Moo and Emma Lou their grain and take it to them. They were hiding inside their little tent shelter and stared at me through the crack in the fence, refusing to come out, even for their favorite treats. Dolly, being the appreciative little cow she is, reached out to me, touched her precious little cold nose to mine, then blew an enormous burp in my face. Not everyone gets to enjoy something like that.

I came back to the house and made soap, biding the time, until they were willing to eat. A really nice milk and honey soap, “Honeymoo’ is the order of the day, as it has become my most popular and I am almost out of ‘Dolly-milk’ to make it with. The goats will freshen in a few more weeks and I will start using goat's milk to make soap with. I will just have to find a new name, as it won't really be ‘moo’ soap then. Any recommendations would be appreciated. 'Honey-baa' just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

Eventually, hunger drove Dolly and Emma out of their tent-shelter and Cider and I went out, to give them their grain. I gave the bottle calves their dinner, and fed the chickens, sheep and goats and filled their icy troughs with fresh water. Meantime, Cider pulled rank and stole a big leg bone from the Maremmas. He likes the puppies much more, now that they have grown up enough to go on patrol, because they bring back nifty treasure in the form of leg bones and other unidentifiable parts. Bruno comes in our house on occasion and heads straight to Cider’s toy box. What once was full of stuffed animals, balls and chewy toys, now houses only a lonely rubber bone and a Kong ball. Its former residents are now outside, buried under a foot and a half of snow. But Cider doesn’t mind, because he can just steal bones from the boys. His teeth have never looked so good.

Temperatures are forecasted to be in the single digits and will dip below zero with the wind chill. This means a bale of new straw needs to go into my cows’ shelter, so they will be up off of the frozen ground and stay warm. It’s hard keeping weight on a Jersey cow. The 8000 plus beef cows and calves on the ranch do just fine out on the range, but my little boney framed girls just aren’t that thrifty. They are also lousy housekeepers, so I am forced to take the pitchfork and clean in the dark, as Randyman has already brought the straw bale and it sits in front of the shelter in the snow. I duck and sneak in, raking up old wet straw and cow flop, when in came Dolly and Emma. The tent shelter is small, it can barely accommodate the two cows and is DEFINITELY too small for the three of us.

Emma is a joyful cow. Just waking up in the morning excites her and the idea of a whole bale of new straw, apparently sent her into paroxysms of glee. She began bucking and kicking inside the tent, whilst Dolly and I pinned ourselves up against the sides, trying to dodge her flying feet. I decided their standards for clean were lower than mine and made a hasty exit. It was challenging running in and out with handfuls of straw to spread, working around Emma, but I eventually got it done. Tomorrow I have to take the old wet hay from the feed bunk where they eat, and spread it down the path they walk on, back and forth from the ‘tent’, to prevent them from slipping on the ice and injuring themselves.

I am sure they appreciate it and love me. I mean, why else would a cow belch in your face?

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