Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I woke up still a little sleepy. You know how your eyes can be kind of blurry and you don’t really pay much attention to detail? It was that kind of morning.
I went out to let in EmmaLou so I could give her breakfast and noticed the hawk was still hanging around, so I needed to put more chicken feed in the coop as letting them free range didn’t seem like a good idea with him around. I remembered I had a bucket of scraps for them, so, with the ‘polar bears’ following me, I opened the back door to the house and walked around the kitchen table to get the bucket. 
Randy started pointing and stammering..I could see out of the corner of my eye he was pointing at Bruno and making wild gestures. I couldn’t understand what his problem was, then I turned around and noticed both Bruno AND Cletus were standing on the other side of me. I turned back again, to find the object of his agitation was a sheep, standing in my kitchen. 

I have NO idea where she came from, but apparently, she just fell in line and followed us right in the house. She started heading through the bedroom door, but as she was solo and I wasn't likely to fall back asleep counting to one, I saw no reason she needed to go there. She began to moving faster when Randy headed towards her, as if she was about to bolt and lead us on a merry chase through the house, so I nonchalantly said “Come on guys!” and walked out the door. Once again, she followed the dogs and we went back to her pasture. I guess she felt it was time for a field trip to someplace new.
Living way out here has a lot of perks. The boss has lots of really nice friends who often shower them with gifts and we become the beneficiaries of some of them. One guy brings lots and lots of fresh blueberries from his farm and we always get some too.  A really nice guy who owns a big nursery came bearing more long stemmed roses than I have ever seen in one place. One of the boys brought about 30 of them to me to put in a vase. I also got two nice big Chrysanthemums to plant in my garden.  There were large burlap bags of fresh corn and lugs of peaches, and onions and potatoes. We were discussing how I had to sell “Tooney” because I can’t get her sheared and boss wife’s father, who is also the farmer who brought all the food said “I brought the trailer. We’ll just haul her  back and have my neighbor do it.”
I’m excited about that, because I like Tooney and this way she can stay at least another year and we can see what kind of lamb she has with the new little DorperX ram.
Unfortunately, there will be no baby goats this year, as the nice lady who loaned us her buck and her ram lost them both to pneumonia this summer.
I was sick to hear about it, as they were both really nice animals.
Cletus went out to the pasture with the sheep and decided to spend the night there. I went ahead and let him, as it seemed like a good idea. Come morning, he was the only one there. The new sheep are little and climbed through the fence. Things aren’t working out quite like I had hoped.
I am planning a trip to see my wonderful family, whom I miss greatly. This must be why Emma keeps bloating. I went out to feed her last night, only to find her resembling something from a Shrek cartoon. All she needed was for someone to tie a string to her. I got her in the old headgate and proceeded to try and pass a stomach tube down her to let the gas out. A milking headgate gives a cow a great deal more liberty than the headgate on a squeeze chute. This enabled her to fling me around and around, in spite of my current lack of petiteness. I was 100% UNsuccessful, so I put a leadrope on her and began dragging her around the ranch hoping to deflate her that way. After awhile I ran across my  nephew who is one of the cowboys here and just a super, really nice, anyone-who-doesn’t-love-him-is-crazy, kind of guy and he came to help me hold her head while I passed the tube again. Even though he is every bit as large as Randyman, and maybe just a hair taller, she gave him a hard time. I finally managed to get the tube in and there was some foul air escaping but not enough. After doing what we could in that direction, I managed to get a little bit of bloat medicine down her throat with a dosing syringe and she began to look a wee bit better. Sadly, she got no dinner because of the situation and I had been hoping to keep or even try to put some weight on her. I separated the babies and kicked her out with the bull.

This morning she looked good, except for the fact that it had gone from too-hot-to-wear-a-sweatshirt, to cold and rainy and like her mother used to do, she was shivering madly. I tossed them both some hay and went back to the house for coffee.
Fifteen minutes later, I went out to give  Emma her grain and she was bloated again.
Realizing it had to be the new hay, which is about all we have to feed her, I began to panic. The fence is down in the milk pasture and we can’t keep the cows in it. There is no telling when anyone will be able to repair it, so hay is all we have. Problems keep compounding and I couldn’t help myself but to let the tears come as they may. Shades of Dolly again.
I got some more bloat medicine mixed up and Randyman held her while I got it down her throat. She was much better about it today than last nite, perhaps she knew she would get the tube again if she wasn’t. I also gave her a bolus of probiotics for cattle and stuffed a magnet down her throat, because she needs one. Sadly, a magnet won’t do much good for most of the things you find on the ground around here, but it won’t hurt her and might save her life if she gets hardware disease. She must have thought it was a pretty powerful one, because after I opened the headgate to let her loose, she stood there with her neck against the pipe as though stuck to it. Everyone needs a cow with a warped sense of humor.
Randyman managed to find one of the big haybales from last year and brought it over for me to feed her. As usual, he is my hero. He is all the stuff that fairytales and romance novels are made of, only he is real, and he’s all mine.
He dragged a large flake of hay out for Emma to dine on. There is a very small shelter in the corral she and the calves are in so she can get out of the rain if she feels she needs to. The pups went with me to see if she was ready to go back out with her AkaUshi boyfriend, “Harry Chin”. He doesn’t really have a hairy chin, but I liked the name anyway. I think it sounds very oriental. Now that he’s muddy, I can just call him “Dirty Harry”. 
She wasn’t ready. She and the calves had made a nice little bed in the leftover hay and were napping in the little bit of sun that broke through the clouds. Cletus, who is about as abnormal as I am about animals, must have known she wasn’t feeling good. He waltzed over and did his nose touch to her. She butted him as hard as she could, while still laying down. He came back and kissed her on the nose and she butted him again. Instead of avoiding her, he snuggled up next to her and kept her company. He reminds me of Randy. He loves her enough to overlook her bad attitude and crotchety manners, her growling and grumbling and chooses to keep her company in her misery.
She finally perked up and joined the others. I had to leave all the gates open so she could find her way back to the shelter if necessary. This means Harry is loose in there and I must deal with him when I go to feed her. So far he has been pretty much a gentleman, but I am not crazy about bulls. She seems to like them though.
Cletapotamus  came back to the house with me. He has an ear bothering him but I am not sure why. He shakes his head a little and moans when I rub it. I am hoping it feels better soon as I can’t find anything, so if its in there, its WAY in there.
He came in the house and gave me a hug too, before stepping back outside. He has the most expressive eyes I have ever seen. Bruno can beg pretty good and makes his desires known by using his feet or standing on something. Cletus just uses his eyes. They are impossible to ignore. Where Bruno stands up and puts his feet on the windows of the backdoor, Cletus is tall enough to just stand outside and look in with the most pitiful and soulful eyes imaginable. He usually gets his way too.

The lambs and goats are sticking close to the house, the chickens are locked up, so I let the ‘boys’ in for company. They don’t talk much, but they are very good listeners and it is comforting to have their big hairy selves laying around, watching me do stuff. I have plans to pack some extra weight on my nephew before winter so I am making a Shepherds Pie to have for dinner tonight. The ranch just got 3 beefs back from butchering and there are 2 huge freezers full of hamburger so I’m looking for ways to use it up, that I find palatable. Ground beef is not my favorite thing, although it has its place.
So far, Em hasn’t bloated this afternoon on the old bale of hay. I hope that is over now and I hope against hope that someone will fix that dang pasture soon so she can get back to grazing like she needs to and I can make my 13 hour drive to go see my kids, or at least the ones I will be able to see. Meantime, I am grateful for my hero who has pledged to stay home and take care of the critters in my absence.  It’s not much fun to go visiting, when your heart is squeezed by stress over what might be happening at home. I'm gonna miss him, but I know he will keep the home fires burning.


  1. Another eloquently written blog. I'm glad you found out what was ailing Em and remedied the situation. Everyday on a ranch is a "new" day. Thanks for sharing yours with us.

  2. Yes, no matter how much you want and need to go away every once in a while, it's so hard to leave the worry behind. I'm glad you have someone who can carry the load for you - it's important to be with your family. I don't envy you your 13 hour drive, though.

  3. I'm not looking forward to the drive either, but anything beats flying, and for us, it would take the same amount of time, since its 5 hours the wrong way to the nearest airport!

  4. Wow, I really enjoyed this post! I hope Emma is fine from now on. I love to hear of your daily adventures. I have to put up child gates to keep the chickens out of the house when the weather is good and we keep the doors open. I've even had an inside rooster (we raised him from a newly hatched chick), but I've never had a sheep come inside. You write so sweetly about your husband. Terrific!