Monday, October 31, 2011

Second Time Around

We FINALLY got it all together and made our trip to California, to meet our newest VIP, Kinley Grace P.
Day 1. We get up early, load my favorite pillows into the truck and whatever hasn’t been loaded the night before and we begin the 14 hour drive to spend a week with  Cody, Krystal, Abby and our newest VIP, Kinley Grace. We arrive a little after dark and the long, grueling, butt-punishing drive is worth it, as Abby runs out the door and into our arms. 
Even though we only get to see Abby a few days a year, her folks help build that relationship by talking about us and reminding Abby of the things we have done together. Not everyone has kids this great, but we do.
Abby’s mom has hot beef sandwiches ready and we wolf them down, grateful for the flavor and the sustenance. We unpack the ludicrous amount of things I brought down..roasting pans, crepe pans, cookware, spices, frozen meat, veggies, etc. Cody asks if I brought toilet paper. A family joke, as my mom used to bring her own when she came to visit our house. You would think corn cobs weren’t luxurious enough or something. I show Krystal how to mix up Boule bread as I just know they are gonna like it. I brought a 10# foodsafe bucket down for them to keep so they can make it when we are gone. We leave the bucket of dough on the counter to rise and I put it in the fridge at midnight-ish when I wake up.  Perfect.
I scarcely remember day 2 as we were recovering. Driving this distance and being away from my critters takes a lot out of me. I am pretty sure we spent it getting re acquainted with Abby and getting to know Kinley. Cody makes a huge breakfast and we indulge ourselves shamefully. That night we have dinner with Krystal’s Mom and sister, who has a baby boy only 2 weeks older than Kinley. They’ll be thick as thieves growing up, I am sure. We pass out gifts of soap and swap stories at dinner and look forward to when they can all come up to the ranch to visit. Cody tells us how one of his hunters wanted to celebrate his success with a cigar. Not wanting to offend him, Cody took a couple puffs then threw it in the fire. That night, upon coming home, he went in to kiss Abby good night and she told him “Daddy, you smell like a LAWNMOWER!”
Out of the the mouths of babes.
Day 3
 We get up at the crack of dawn, pack everything into 2 vehicles and proceed to embark on the 4 hour drive down California’s Hwy 10 to Palm Desert to visit Great Grampa Bob and Granma Betty.
We head to Grampa’s favorite hamburger joint to overindulge in burgers and fries. Granma Betty drives us and Randy and I sit in the backseat of their car. Randy is practically vibrating, as he is a big man who is EXTREMELY claustrophobic. He white knuckles it the 5 minutes or so it takes to arrive at our destination. He exits the car so quickly it nearly causes a vacuum that sucks me out the door. I am proud of him, as he didn’t throw himself out on the highway like I thought he would.
Abby decides she wants to visit the restroom and as I am the only one who can also get out of the booth, I am the designated escort. We enter the bathroom, she goes through her ritual and while sitting on the her porcelain throne, she informs me “See? It just isn’t gonna come out.”
I ask why, as I have no other comment to offer to this revelation. She replies “Because, it doesn’t WANT to.”
She promptly dismounts, readjusts her outfit and covers her ears which is my cue to flush, in spite of our failure to produce. I follow her back out to join the rest of our family, marveling at how a 3 year old can make the most common and mundane of daily tasks hilariously funny.
We head back to Grampa’s house and Great Granma Betty brings a stuffed toy penguin to Abby then sits and holds Kinley on her lap. She says “I will trade you that penguin for your baby sister, would you like to trade?”
Abby bites her lower lip and says “No.” But she continues to free the penguin from his box.
“How about if I just keep her for a week and you can have the penguin?”
Abby contemplates this new offer and says “No, that would not be good.”
“How long can I keep her for then?” inquires Betty.
After biting her bottom lip in deep thought, Abby says “You can keep her a couple of days and we will come back and pick her up.”
“Okay, we will keep her two days and you can have the penguin”
“I’ll go ask my mom.”
Abby runs to the back room where Krystal is organizing the truckload of baby stuff that is necessary to bring an infant on a one day excursion, as anyone who has ever had a baby, knows. She comes back shortly and announces
“Mom says you can have her!” 
Six hours later, our visit comes to an end. Granma Betty is still holding Kinley as Abby passes out goodbye hugs and kisses. Betty tells her “Don’t forget to kiss Kinley goodbye”.
Abby puckers up her lips, then suddenly, realizing the penguin is already safely tucked away in the vehicle, says “No!!” and reaches out to spirit Kinley to safer quarters.
I think she has definitely made the adjustment from only-child to big sister.

Day 5

The most significant thing I can remember about day 5 is that I finally finished crocheting Kinley's blanket while holding her on my lap. RA flares prevented me from getting it done before she was born, but I found actually HOLDING a baby is surefire incentive to get a blanket completed! It fit perfectly. :)
It turned out to be a good thing, as a small teddybear I had made for Abby three years earlier, had lost its leg and I was able to replace it with the yarn I brought down for Kinley's blanket. You see? God always has a plan. Just like letting Cletus get cheatgrass in his ear the Monday before.  I would have been making the 14 hour drive to California alone, without cell phone service on a seldom travelled road. As it was, I wound up being admitted to the hospital that afternoon with a horrendously painful kidney stone. Somehow being half way to California under the aforementioned conditions would not have seemed pleasant.

 Pumpkin patches are exhausting.

Day 6
A chubby finger is gouged into my eyeball and drags the lid up until light assaults my exposed eyeball. Giggles rise on the air like bubbles as soft, blonde, curly hair tickles my nose and Abby brings me into full consciousness, saying 
“Wake up GRAMMY!”, laughing breathlessly.
I drag her body onto the bed, vying for a little more sleep when an insistent squeaking starts from below. The dog whose face is wrapped around an ill used squeaky toy begins beating out a rhythm on the floor with his tail. Wyatt is awake and he wants to play too. Wyatt is the largest black labrador I have ever laid eyes on.  He is big and black and shiny. His tail is thick, his leg bones are thick, he is enormous, but there is not an ounce of fat on him. At Cody’s request he has dragged the carcasses of wild boars weighing a couple hundred pounds down the road for him. He is parked at the side of the bed, squeaking the pitiful remains of a stuffed dog toy, while his body undulates like a fish in anticipation of my grabbing it from him. He doesn’t want me to throw it, he just wants to drag my body through the house with it. I comply and he pulls me off of the bed, leaving Abby and Randyman behind. It’s time to get up. This is our second to last morning to wake up here this trip. Tomorrow we will visit the last of the family on our itinerary and head home. It’s bittersweet as I hate to leave and there are so many people we did not get to see, but I am having critter withdrawals. If I don’t see Emma and the Maremmas soon, I will be traumatized beyond redemption. Cider is anxious to get home as sleeping in the backseat of the truck is not nearly as appealing as his papasan chair at home.
We drive an hour or so to a mall to an Apple store as some issues have arisen with Krystal’s B-day present. As we left the Apple store, she asked if I wanted to follow her around the baby clothes store, or stay and look at Koi fish with Abby. As my hips were hurting pretty badly, I chose the fish. 
It had not occurred to me, that Abby would run laps around the fishpond, just out of my reach. There was a walk way that bisected the pond, so she could actually figure 8 and lap me. She was very good about not jumping in, or standing on the ledge, but she did feel it was important to let her ‘baby’ have a good close look at the fish. With impeccable timing, I clotheslined her the next time she went into passing gear and jerked her up off of her feet. I carried her, under protest, to the store her mom and baby sister were shopping in. We decided to go into stealth mode. 
We ducked and ran quickly from one clothing rack to the next, hiding behind displays and streaking to the next display with amazing speed and dexterity. We put the pink Panther to shame with our evasive skills. Kystal, Abby’s mom, was ALL the way in the back of the store. We made it to the racks just in front of her...or behind her, as she was facing the opposite way, when Abby noted a table with Legos. Another little kid was there building a city, so Abby planted herself next to her and began some construction of her own. I stepped back into the shadows to watch.
Her mother finally turned around, oblivious to our presence and slowly began working her way to the front. She glanced at the Lego table and the most remarkable thing happened. I could read her mind. It wasn’t just me, I am sure her thoughts became audible as the lady next to me had the same look on her face, that I know I had. Krystal glanced at the back of Abby’s head and thought “Aww...that little girl has blonde curly hair just like Abby’s!”
She looked away just for a moment, before her head jerked back again, this time looking a bit disturbed...and she thought “That little girl is wearing the same DRESS as Abby...”
As her thought process was still attempting to make the leap to “That IS Abby! Where is Grammy?”
I said “It looks remarkably like your daughter, doesn’t it?”
The lady next to me was trying to stifle her laughter as Krystal gave free rein to her own.
She used her GPS to find our way to a BabiesRUs to pick something up and on the way back we stopped at the bottom of the hill, where we were to turn right...and waited...and waited...until she jolted upright and cried out an expletive, confessing she was waiting for the light to turn green.
 We were at a stop sign.
 Abby asked from the back seat “What did mommy say?” 
To which I replied “She said SHIFT! And the funny thing is, you have an automatic transmission.” 
It was good enough for Abby, so it is good enough for me. Meantime, Krystal is still laughing and trying to figure out how she could be so confused. I know. I am contagious.
When we got home, I set about to fix dinner so Krystal can feed the baby and deal with Apple reps on the phone. Abby was running around being Abby. She ran up to me in the kitchen, pulling her dress up around her ears and said “Look Grammy!!”
Next she jerked her panties down, grabbed her ankles with her caboose in the air and said “See??I wiped off the poop!”
Without waiting for a response, she yanked her pants back up, dropped her dress and was gone with the next whirlwind. I stood blinking at empty space, wondering just when and where I lost my own exuberance over the ability to perform the most basic daily living skills. I think next trip I make to the commode, I too, will try to giggle and glory in my independence, finding joy in the minutiae of life. I think that is the secret to a truly successful second childhood.
I probably should spend sometime pondering how to make it up to Abby when she is old enough to read and stops speaking to me because I shared this story with you. OH well. She is too cute not to share.
Wednesday afternoon we spend with Randyman’s mom, youngest daughter and her 3 little ones. Her oldest is 3, and she has new twins. That makes for a pretty hectic day. The oldest has a little electric car. She sent him out with his daddy to babysit so she could tend to her chores while watching the twins. Shortly after the phone rang. The neighbor called to let her know her son was at the park talking to a policeman. Apparently Dad forgot he was babysitting, so the little feller drove his electric car down to the park. Kids. You gotta love ‘em!

The twins, and their big brother giving me 'the eye'.

That evening, we finally make it to our last stop just before dark. No one told our last 3 VIP’s of this trip that we were coming, so they were very surprised. We no sooner got out of the pick up than 2 little girls in renaissance dresses and one little boy small enough that a bandana served as a super hero’s cape launched themselves into my arms. Bad back or not, it is the most pleasant sensation I can think of. We had dinner, swapped stories, did lots of giggling, watched a small sibling war over a pair of boots and finally passed out. 

We headed home in the wee hours of the morning after kissing them all goodbye in their beds. It’s hard to leave them, but its good to come home. I can’t wait until they all come back to play with us, as they share my love of cows, goats, sheep chickens and dogs. Its nice to have someone that thinks like you. I even love the grown-ups a lot and someday will be as mature as them. But for now, I will just work on my second time around as it’s always the best.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Two Days in the Fall

After a somewhat challenging week, I found myself in a fit of good health and was able to resume least for a couple of days. The horses were wrangled up into the corral and Wimpy didn’t even bother to run from me. He is so convinced he is retired that he saw no reason to exert any effort, so I haltered him and lugged him over to the milk room where my saddle is. He was fairly astonished. I got him ready then stuffed him in the barn to wait on everyone else. We loaded up in the trailer and drove a few miles down to the corrals where we gathered up about 400 head of dry cows. We were moving them to another pasture a few more miles up the road. 
We split up and I rode up the fence line to kick up some cows we could easily see and start them toward the road, as well as find whoever might be hiding. There were 14 sneaky cows in the willows that traveled all the way to the top of the pasture where the sage is heavy and there is a dry creek that runs pretty deep. We trailed them thru there, and they jumped down into a new holding pond which is dry, but has a cement spillway and I wasn’t about to ride down it with a shod horse. I turned Wimpy and we trotted thru shoulder high sagebrush and greasewood. It caught me up and tore my pants, so I am now down to one good pair. With nothing but straight 7 foot banks, we wound our way around until we found a passable entrance to the creek bed and after running across the rocks a bit, we popped up on the other side to see my errant cows just ahead of me.

We pushed them up on the road and over the next couple of hours had few mishaps except for when they went thru a hole in the fence and had to be turned back. As usual, with our heavy traffic, there was one vehicle that passed during the hours we were moving the cows. We got them all across the big field they were going to stay in and drove them all the way to the water tank back by the mountain.

 It was hot and we were a little weary, so we pulled our saddles and gave ourselves and the horses a bit of a rest. Wimpy was grateful. We’d begun at around 8 in the morning and we got back at 3. It felt good to be bone tired.

The next morning, the ranch kids were home, so 6 of us went out to move some more cows. The new cowboss has a just turned 7 year old girl with a great little horse, so she came along too. 
We rode out and crossed a few creeks and boggy spots before splitting up and cleaning out the field.
The ‘fields’ or pastures here are enormous. It takes a good long while to ride from one corner to another, and you cannot see the fences from the middle as they are so far away. The grass has turned and there are just hints of green at the bottom of the wheat and golden colored stalks that rise up from the boggy ground. There are rust colored specimens that resemble a marshweed that stand like sentinels in contrast to the tawny grasses around them. Riding along, we pass sun bleached bones in the deep grass and see an occasional coyote skulking away. The sounds of the cattle lowing relaxes me and I realize that I can still hear crickets, or locusts around me, along with an occasional bird call. We pass through a gate and after riding a ways, I remain to turn the cattle thru the next fence while the cowboy I was with long trotted out of sight to help bring the herd from the far corner.

I piddle around with Wimpy while we wait, flexing his head, backing up some, trotting in some circles and winding them down to pivots. He perks up out of his apathy and it helps relieve my boredom while I wait alone. About 5-600 head of cows show up and drift through the desired gate. A few errant cows try to head down the swath of golden grass towards the open gate behind me so we sidle over to block their advance. They are still a good way off, but they see us and choose to turn and follow their compatriots to the next field. The boys have been trailing a weak calf along, but he finally fails and sinks down into the mud. They pull him out and we wait while someone rides to the truck and trailer to get a syringe and antibiotics for him. It won’t likely help as he is probably too sick to recover, but we want to try.

We leave him until someone can go back with a 4-wheeler to get him and bring him in. We trailer on out in the direction of the desert to push yesterdays cows back to water.
We drop 3 people and their horses at the first corner of the field then drive a little past midway. We unload and I ride down the center with our littlest rider while her dad heads to the far corner to kick the cows up from there.

A couple of cows wander off a bit and lag behind, she so kicks her horse up and gallops up to push them back.

After we get all the cows to water, everyone takes a breather. The boys think up some mischief, such as tying a piece of ribbon to a cows’ tail. They take off swinging their ropes, but this time it was cows-1, cowboys-0.

We get back home 6 hours after we started and once again I am happily tired. I realize I must be contagious, as Cletus is too tired to sit up and clean plates. He does it laying down. We’ll all sleep well tonite.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


With plans to go and meet my new VIP, I have had major delays. First, EmmaLou started bloating, which required immediate attention, as a cow can die rapidly from this condition. A week later, she was lined out and doing well. I began to pack the truck.
Enter Cletus. He starts shaking his head madly and crying. It looks as though there is a foxtail down in his ear. Last year this happened and ruptured his ear drum. I make an appointment with the vet, but they can’t see him until Monday, so I have to delay my trip yet again.
Deciding that both dogs need their rabies booster and Samby the Lamby is due at freezer camp, we decide to do it all at once, justifying the use of the big stock trailer and saving us the embarrassment of using it to just haul Cletus in.
The dogs rode in the back half with Samby as there were ginormous tractor tires in the front that had to be dropped off in town. Cletus was pretty stressed out, as it was a trip to the vet which had started all his claustrophobia and traveling problems. Bruno was very non-chalant, though not happy about leaving the majority of their charges behind.
We dropped Samby off and everything went smoothly. The butcher suggested selling my soap in their shop and even had a little area to display them. I told him I would think about it, but I would like to work out a trade for their lard and tallow. 
Our next stop was the veterinary clinic. There was a new receptionist who apparently wasn’t familiar with these types of dogs. I tried to explain that they are claustrophic and extremely large. She was less than cooperative or understanding. She suggested we bring Bruno in first. We explained that IF we were going to attempt bringing the dogs inside, they would do best together and she objected vehemently. I shrugged and went after Bruno.
He did fine until he saw the front door. At that point I had to insist. I got him through the door, albeit under protest, but all was ok while we were on the doormat inside. Once we stepped off the mat onto the slippery tile, it was a whole different ball game. Bruno hit the ground like a soldier under fire. He became flatter than a rug and heavier than a tank. His breathing was rapid and shallow and I had to physically pull and drag his inert body towards the scale. Unsuccessful, the vet came and gave him his shot at the front door while he played dead and invisible. He looked VERY much like a rug. I pulled him outside with great effort where he finally got to his feet and towed me back to the trailer. I looked at Cletus, who is much larger, with his wild eyes, slavering madly with nerves. He had gotten so stressed that he required the services of a bush or reststop, which of course, was not available to him, so he had left his little gift on the wheel well of the trailer. Charming.
I proceeded to put a leash on him and with my pulling and Randyman pushing, Cletus yelped and growled and grumbled his way ALMOST into the big building where the cows and horses are treated. It would have been far easier to get a recalcitrant cow or horse in there. 
I put the proffered muzzle over his face and we held him tightly while he shook, trembled, vibrated with anxiety and the vet shook visibly as she noted his size and the level of his discomfort. He never made any move to be aggressive, he only tried evasive tactics. Unfortunately, the vet said the ear was so swollen inside, she could not help, so I have to put medication inside 2x a day for the next week and try again.
Cletus was a lot more cooperative getting in the horse trailer than he had been that morning.
I had been in a good deal of pain since early that morning. It seemed to grow in intensity through out the day and I was sure I needed to get home and find a position that would be more comfortable, or at the very least, find a way to extract the broadsword that I was certain someone had impaled me on when I wasn't looking.
Randyman had several errands to run, gathering vehicle parts for the ranch.  As the hours dragged by slowly, things became a bit more intense.
Finally, I decided the wisest course of action was not to rush home, but have Randyman drop me off at the nearest hospital, where they immediately admitted me. I became more anxious to go and see Kinley and Abby and worried about what was wrong and how far this would set us back.
Several hours afterwards, the tests came back, a rupturing appendix was ruled out, along with gall bladder problems. It was discovered that I was about to give birth to a kidney stone.
My lovely daughter in law called the hospital and we had a discussion about things as well as the fact that passing a stone is often compared to labor. However, I mentioned, at least she got a baby for her efforts. 
She then informed me that after her day, she would be happy to trade me for a kidney stone, as they are not likely to keep you awake after all is said and done.
Point taken!
Hopefully, we can make the exchange next week.

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.