Thursday, April 26, 2012


Two of my 2010 bottle calves were bred early last year, so I could use them as foster cows for the leppie calves that come in. “Rio”, who was delivered by cesarian from a dead cow, was found walking around with a half born dead calf. No telling how long it had been, it got hung up on the pelvis and she was unable to deliver it. Luckily, the vet was here that day and removed the calf and doctored Rio. She looks a little rough, but hopefully, in a few months, she can be bred again. 
The other cow, Cholula, was the first leppie we found out on the desert during 2010 Cow Camp. Both these calves were raised alongside EmmaLou, often nursing her mother, DollyMoo.
I got them both halter broke and fairly gentle so we could use them for nursecows.
Cholula delivered a dead heifer calf day before yesterday. I was devastated.

Rio is still looking a little poorly, after her birthing trauma. I spoke to the boss about her condition and he asked me to worm her. This is simple enough, I just had to draw 50cc of Pour-On into a dosing syringe and squirt it down her back. This SHOULD have been an uncomplicated procedure, don’t you think? But then, put ME into the equation and it might just turn out a bit differently.
I grabbed the syringeful of wormer, talked to the Maremma’s and jumped on the 4 wheeler because Rio and Emma were at the very BOTTOM of the pasture.
We zipped on down there and by the time I made it, they were just on the other side of the biggest irrigation ditch in that particular pasture. With the syringe securely clenched between my teeth, I zoomed down the bank, across the ditch and...
The snow is melting on the Steens now, sending down massive amounts of cold water from the melting snow. It’s threatening to come over the roads and it's filling up all the creeks and irrigation ditches here. Randyman had just cleaned out all the ditches so I figured it was plenty safe to  drive over...except the water brought down LOTS of silt. I was speeding across and just as I was sure I made it up the other bank, the quad stopped instantly. I groaned, and managed to get myself off without getting wet and muddy. 
We went ahead and took care of Rio, then she and Emma and the dogs headed over with me to extricate the quad.
Emma offered to drive if I would push...but she couldn’t get the hang of starting it.

The pups checked things out under the ‘hood’ and couldn’t find anything wrong.

Em and Rio tried pushing with Bruno giving instruction, to no avail. The back tires were just sucked into the mud. It wasn’t going anywhere.

Fully as discouraged as I was, they left...and left me on the other bank with Cletus.

 walk up THERE.

I followed the ditch down a ways to where it was narrow enough for me to jump across with my little short legs. 

The  Maremmas were kind enough to escort me, although I could hear them snorting and ridiculing me in  doggie language.

It isn't THAT far, but it IS uphill, over SEVERAL ditches and not much fun,when you have RA. I made it to the Octopus tree for a rest.
The trip from there to the corral is a lot more doable.
I checked on a new orphaned calf that I put in with Cholula, or “Lu” to nurse. 

She doesn’t like him much. She thinks he is a little parasite.

He looks to me, more like a caboose, as he chases her around latched onto the refreshment bar. When she is really tired of him, she picks him up on the end of her muzzle and tosses him. She doesn’t run him down to hurt him or anything, so I am not afraid to leave him there. He just has to eventually wear her down until she relents.

Meantime, I supplement him with milk from Emma just to make sure he doesn’t dehydrate. I need him to stay a little hungry and keep workin’ on Lu so she will let down and increase her milk supply.

At the moment, he’s resting up for his next assault.

Meantime, back on the ranch, the water keeps running down from the mountain and the water levels in the ditches keep rising. 

Randyman comes home for lunch and I inform him that "Yeller" is stuck in the ditch. He is worried it will wind up underwater if we leave it long, so we head down that way (on foot again) to get him out. It takes two of us awhile to get it unstuck and out of there, but then, we find ourselves still on the other bank, unable to get it back. I ask how we will get it home and he said "We will just go around."

So, I climb on behind him and we bump and bounce down the fence line to the gate. We follow the lane the horses take up to the ranch and proceed over the first big, wide, water crossing.


We sink all FOUR wheels in the silt.

Randyman always wears heavy duty lace up boots. I usually wear tennis shoe style flip-flops. Therefore, I got to be the one to step off and push. The water was up to my knees. I have no idea why I bothered to roll my pants up. He decides it will be best to back up instead of proceed forward. We are low on fuel and it stalls several times before going into reverse.  Did I mention WHERE  this water run off comes from??? Snow. It's from the snow on the mountain. It's cold. Very, very cold.

We finally get it started, I have ahold of the rack on the front and am pushing hard while Randyman guns it. The quad FINALLY gains traction and shoots out of the water, jerking me out of the mud and taking me with it. Letting go would never occur to me during an incident like this one.  I manage to avoid landing flat on my face in the mud, but Randyman laughs anyway.

I climb back on, and we head through the horse pasture, mind you, the pastures here are hundreds of acres, this is no small jaunt. We go putt-putting along, bouncing and jouncing through dips, bumps, bogs and brush. I hear giggling and squeaking, and am somewhat annoyed to realize its ME, making the noise. We go about a mile across the pasture to a spot where we can finally cross the water, then head a mile BACK to pick up the road on the other side of the crossing we couldn't cross before we tried to cross and I became cross.

Randyman dropped me off to make lunch while he filled up the tank. I thought about how much fun that was and pondered where else I might be able to get "Yeller" stuck.

Can't blame a girl for trying, can ya?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Weak Week

Without any warning, and certainly without permission, my back went into terrible spasms so I couldn’t get up for 3 days. It really put a cramp in my style, so to speak.
While I was hurting, I had to cancel a doctor’s appt. (which was, ironically, for pain relief) and a shopping trip I was actually looking FORWARD to, because I was going to buy plants for the garden and some fabric to make a new sink curtain and other things on the treadle.
 In order for us to take a day away from the ranch, I have to arrange for someone to let the sheep and goats out, along with the Maremmas, and milk my cow for me.
Our new friend and neighbor, “D” was really generous to milk for me while I was incapacitated. She only made one tiny mistake, which was to try and tempt EmmaLou to come in from the big pasture with a bucket of treats. She was instantly mobbed by 13 greedy sheep and goats as well as 3 cows. I guess she tossed the bait and got Emma through the gate successfully. No harm, no foul. 
The last day, I was doing better, but still couldn’t lift the heavy milking bucket so I went with her to get Em. Emma was WAY down at the far end of the very large pasture. I asked “D” if she had ever driven a 4 wheeler. She said “no”, so I gave her a quick lesson and I jumped on the front. After she cleared a few big bumps and dips, I decided to walk before I became airborne.
Em was having nothing to do with us, so we gave up and decided to drive back up the hill. This time I sat on the seat behind “D”. I discovered she doesn’t feel the need to gear down or ease off the gas when going through big, deep ditches. After getting air a couple of times,I again decided to walk. I felt it was probably best to quit with only a couple of chipped teeth and crushed vertebrae.
I should have taken it into consideration, that this outwardly appearing mild mannered woman is pretty much game for anything, and used to work on Helivac’s for a living. She reminded me of Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, only she didn’t have on the long yellow coat and cap.
I had gone down earlier to check on the ‘nurse cows’ which were my 2010 bottle babies. Cholula, the last one to come in, had lost a calf just hours before I found her. It was pretty sad and discouraging. I felt that maybe if I had been able to get down there, I might have saved it.
This morning came with warm and welcome sunshine. My little seedlings were happy to be out in the greenhouse and I was glad to be outside. Yesterday’s sorrow of losing the calf was finally fading away and I looked forward to working in the garden. I raked rocks out of the area which is going to be my herb garden and used my new tiller to dig and fluff up the soil. I watered all the containers and the new rose, lilacs, trees and other stuff I planted and transplanted. So far, everything is doing good. The spinach is starting to come up, and the strawberries are leafing out quickly. Raspberries are growing like crazy and I see buds on the blackberry canes as well. It’s gonna be so great.
I filled up the big backpack sprayer with weedkiller and sprayed all the weeds along the rockwall, then went in the house to make 2 more loaves of Honey Wheat Bread and throw in a load of laundry. I tried to start the shredder/mulcher to chop up the huge piles of limbs and twigs from the windstorms we had a month or so ago. It wouldn’t start. I saw Randyman in the sheep pasture on one of the big tractors, cleaning out the ditches. I have a lot to catch up on, after missing 3 days.
One of the kids came by with a leppie calf, right around lunch time. We stuffed him in the shed, and I decided it was perfect timing to graft him onto Cholula, the cow who lost her calf a couple of days ago.
Randyman helped me bring her up and once we got her into the stanchion, the little feller went straight to town, emptying all 4 spigots. Lu wasn’t too happy about it.
It will take a few days for him to wear her down, but I think he is up to the task. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Word to the Wise

I spend a good deal of time perusing the internet. There is a wealth of information out there to be had, as well as communities of people with common interests. There is just about every kind of community, or “board” you can imagine. Faith, Fashion, Food, Health, Animals, Lifestyles, Sports, Humor, Education etc. There are folks who flock to these forums to share both their needs and their experience. Being 5 hours from town isn’t a hardship to me, because by nature, I have always been pretty much a loner. My life experience has found an awful lot of people who just aren’t very nice and my own company, or the company of my animals is a lot more edifying. My circle of friends is rather small, both in person and on the internet. Those whom I do consider friends I think very highly of, regardless of their age, gender, or location. I have met some great folks that use their access to the internet well and wisely, being positive, supporting others and providing good fellowship, advice and enjoyable interactions.
Then there are the self proclaimed experts, who are certain that no one else is capable of accumulating the amount of knowledge, experience or good sense they themselves own, and consider every other person, forum or idea on the web to be a threat. Then there is the odd one who, for reasons I cannot fathom, choose to use their words to wound, accuse and/or condemn. One would think that, because the relationship is long distance, superficial and only through the computer, that a verbal attack or flaming by someone shouldn’t affect us, or that we can just click them off. That’s all true, but I find it’s not all that simple.
James spoke about the power of the tongue, how it can tear down and destroy, or build up. Bruises heal and are no longer seen, but words sink deep into the heart or psyche and they scar much more easily. I would like to say, we should always be careful how we speak, that we don’t use our words as weapons to injure another. But on the internet, I think we need to be doubly cautious. Without the facial and audible cues of how something is being delivered, our words can often be misunderstood. In addition to this, unlike the spoken word, what is written is right there in black and white, powerful and public. It can be devastating to the recipient. 

We don’t know why any given person is on our forum, or chat room, or wherever it is you might congregate, perhaps they are alone and desperately need to reach out to someone. Maybe they are ill and could use some comfort. Perhaps it is someone who needs to be needed and a rebuff can send them into a tail spin and you wouldn’t even know it. We can be floating along in our own lives, poisoning others, merely by being careless.

 I implore you, to choose your words wisely. Better yet, read James 3. I couldn’t agree with anything more, or say it any better.

You have my word on it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Biding Time

We had a spell of unseasonably warm weather. It really went to my head. I was out in the yard, burning tumbleweeds, clearing out leaves, setting up the compost area and cultivating in the new garden. Randyman put a fence up around it with used post and rail fencing and some chicken wire will go along the bottom to contain the little scavengers once its time to let them in to de-bug or to polish off the harvest in the fall.
The tomato seedlings were ecstatic to spend a couple of days in the portable greenhouse, as they get very little light here in the house. Spinach,  head lettuce and radish seeds went into the ground, along with another 50 strawberry plants. I raked some of the cultivated soil into rows which are ready to plant the peas in. The critters loved the sunshine, in fact, getting too hot for a spell as the hair sheep haven’t yet lost their winter wool. They all wandered back up to the corral for a drink and a nap. 

Two heads are better than one.

More must be better. I think the goats finally got bred. Peebody should be proud.

Stinky is getting brave. If they knew he was behind them, they would clobber him.

The Polar bears have begun to shed some of the heavy undercoat they grow every year. They have been doing a great job of staying with the critters in the pasture. They previously would patrol then take up squatting in front of the house like the busybodies they are, wanting to see what is going on at the ranch. Hundreds of trips back to the pasture, resorting to tying one of them up at a time has convinced them that their duty lies elsewhere. Cletus usually sleeps with the stock at night while Bruno patrols. It won’t be long and I will feel ok leaving the gates open at night so the sheep and goats can start grazing in the early mornings, which is their favorite time for breakfast, instead of later on, when I can finally drag my carcass out of bed.
Yesterday reality hit. I woke up to beautiful sunshine and continued following my little cultivator through the garden, throwing up dust and dirt, until around 9:00 the clouds set in, the temperature dropped and it started snowing hard on the mountain. It eventually reached here, slushy cold wetness falling from the sky, raining on my parade.
I think the spring wheat is just now beginning to come up in the “chicken corral”. The yellow headed blackbirds have been swooping down in great numbers to steal my seed. I yelled and threw things at them. Bruno took it to heart and has been exhausting himself chasing them off. I found a dead one laying in the corral. He must have caught it ‘red handed’. Funny he will chase the blackbirds and pigeons off, but has no problem with the wild geese. Whatever it takes, to protect the flock.
After 6 weeks of no internet, another 2 weeks or so of sitting on a little ladder to access the modem which is up by the ceiling,  the new router finally came. What a relief! I can now resume my mindless web surfing.
Since its not very much fun to be outside today, I am dutifully staying inside and tending to my various indoor duties, such as laundry and cooking. I have ground several cups of hard red wheat, to make a bucket of boule bread for pizza dough, feed the sourdough, plus I soak some wheat flour for making more sandwich bread, I think I will put a little yogurt in it this time, in lieu of buttermilk and a poolish for sourdough WW waffles in the morning.
 After cleaning up the mess and all the yeasty stuff, I skimmed some more heavy cream off the gallons of milk in the fridge and made some cream cheese and mozzarella. We just might have some blintzes for breakfast one morning this week if I feel good enough. I always think of my sons when I make those and that always makes me happy. Though seldom seen, they are much loved and I am so grateful for the years I DID have with them, and glad I wasn’t gone all the time working, although horseshows did take me from home more often than I would have liked. Those growing up days are gone when they are gone and can never be redeemed.
I had a gallon and a half of heavy cream in the fridge still, so I made almost 5 lb of unsalted butter that I will use later for ghee. I didn’t want to wash it as well as I would need to for cooking or table butter, so ghee it shall be. No problem you can never have enough of it, and it doesn’t go bad.

There is some left over roasted chicken in the fridge from the Claypot chicken we had the other night so I think I will just make a chicken alfredo with salad tonight and call it good.
I have had to go out to the back pasture three times in the very cold wind today. Of course, it probably feels a lot colder because I am wearing shorts as the only pair of jeans I own is in the washer right now. Thank goodness for internet, 3 more pair have been ordered and are on the way. Stinky was happy I showed up with his bottle. He’s gotten good about going back to his friends afterwards instead of dogging my heels all over the darn place. I had a chunk of roast that was getting too old for sandwiches so I took it out to the Polarbears who were very grateful. There is just something about seeing them out there keeping guard over everything that makes me feel so warm and secure.
Gotta check the soap inventory and make a list of what I want to find at the material store to make stuff with the treadle. The two sundresses I made for Miss Abby I think came out real cute. I need to start working on quilting real soon. I think some placemats and a table runner might be a good first project, so that’s the direction I am leaning.

Sooner or later, spring will be here for real.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Unrequited Love vs Puppy Love

Mr Cletapotamus, aka Cletus, is a very loving fellow. It is just his nature to get up and go touch noses and kiss every single critter on the ranch. This includes the cows, which usually clobber him for it, the sheep, who also clobber him for it, the calves, the lambs, who love it, the chickens, the goats and myself.
He has such a big heart that he sometimes hands out these special 'Cletakisses' to critters that don’t even belong to us!
Today, he done kissed a porcupine.

Porky must not have loved him back any more than the cows do.

I wonder if it will teach him to restrain his amorous self.

In case you have never been blessed with a porcupine faced pup, and need directions, here is what I had to do.
Get some small scissors and cut the quills down. They are hollow shafts and opening them makes it a bit easier to pull them out.
Get some pocket pliers.
Grab a quill tightly and YANK HARD.
They are amazingly long and painful looking.
The dog’s face WILL swell up from the inflammation.
I gave Potamus a chunk of frozen meat hoping it might help to minimize the inflammation. 
If not, at least it made it easier for him to bear.

It's hard being a lover not a fighter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Doo Dah Day

EmmaLou is looking more and more in a motherly way. She would be due about the middle of July if my dates are correct. I wasn’t actually present for the honeymoon, I have to go by the evidence that was put before me, such as that ‘happy glow’ on her face after Mr Miyagi started courting her, along with her disinterest following the apparent honeymoon.
 I’ve been looking forward to this baby, as it is by an AkaUshi bull and I am hoping for a heifer, as I lost Emma’s mama last summer. It just feels safer having 2 milk cows. Strange to have my emotional well being linked to a milk cow, but that is the way of things. The animals are always there for me, at any time of day or night. They are neither shy to lavish their affection on me, nor critical of my shortcomings. They entertain me with their antics each day, and provide us with superior nutritional sustenance. If anything happened to EmmaLouMoo, I am not sure I could bear it. An AkaUshi heifer, with any luck, might be a great milk cow for the future, as I hope her Jersey half would produce a lot of cream, and her AkaUshi half will throw nice calves for the freezer. That is MY plan, anyway, for when MissEmmaLouMoo is retired...which is some time off, as she is only 3 this year.
 The meatie chicks will be taking over her tent in May (weather permitting) and they can free range with the eggers during the day, with one of the Maremmas to watch over them, while the other stays with the sheep. 
I have a psycho hen that injured herself. She had a very hard time getting around for several days. It seemed her hip or some part of her leg was dislocated. She had a hump in her back and was generally just not doing well. I decided to give her a few days to see if she got better or worse. She didn’t seem to be making any progress, as she was only able to put weight on one leg, while the other dragged uselessly. The roosters wouldn’t leave her alone, which of course, did her no good service. I left Cletus to babysit chickens while Bruno stayed with the sheep. When I went out to feed, I saw Cletus laying with the injured bird. He stood up when I approached and she bolted off, squawking, in her odd side rolling manner. I hollered at Cletus not to be bothering her, assuming of course, that she had been coerced into laying with him. I am afraid he was fascinated by her odd movements and couldn’t resist the urge to capture her. I envision him disassembling her, the way a small boy does his favorite toy, just to see how it works. Cletus just loves chickens. Sometimes a bit too much.
 A few minutes later, I was throwing hay to the steers, and saw Cletus chasing her again over by the fence. He captured her and was carrying her in his mouth towards the chicken pen door. 
I angrily yelled at him to drop her. He did and began slinking away, knowing he was in trouble. I grabbed the now traumatized hen and demanded Cletus lay down. He obliged and I set her atop him, as I had done with the chickens last year when I was having trouble with him molesting them before he began protecting them instead. I continued to berate him verbally as I set the hen all over his body, not allowing him to get up. I then carried her into the pen and turned her loose. I checked her carefully. There were no feathers missing, but she was pretty upset.
The next day when I went out to gather eggs, she walked past me, perfectly normal. It’s either one strange coincidence, or Cletus is a natural chiropractor. Now I wonder what his REAL intentions were, as he has been very protective with the chickens ever since last spring and grieved when we processed the meaties. Knowing these dogs, he was probably doing something right and I accused him of wrongdoing. At any rate, he’s not bothering her now and she’s good as new. These dogs are extremely sensitive and they tend to wilt under verbal correction. Laying Cletus down like that, in HIS mind, was pretty extreme, but he deals with it. You can never be unfair with these dogs as they have incredibly long memories. 
Ewe #3 had twins. My nephew saw them out in the field right after they were born. I went out and joined Bruno and Cletus to bring them up into the lambing jug. Mama followed me as I walked, stooped over with a lamb in each hand so she could smell them and follow me. She is normally a really hard ewe to get near, so letting her lamb outside was the easiest way to handle things.
I got the lambs in on the straw, and she followed me in, along with the dogs. They sat outside the pen watching, as I dipped the lambs’ navel cords in iodine to help prevent navel ill, where bacteria can travel up the cord and cause a systemic infection which is crippling and usually fatal. I gave them each a little selenium and vitamin e, helped her dry them off, milked a little colostrum out of each teat to make sure they weren’t plugged and made sure they both  nursed. 
They are much smaller than Stewie, of course, as they are twins, but also he was an especially big lamb when he was born. The first lamb is marked really funny, with almost her whole front end being black and the rest of her white with a black spot on her hip and one on her belly. It looks like she is wearing a baseball jersey. The other lamb is pure white. It shouldn’t be difficult to tell who is who.
The fact that this ewe had twin ewe lambs instead of ram lambs, has changed all my future plans. My plans WERE to keep Rosemary and send Stewie to freezer camp and buy 2 more ewes. Stewie is looking like he is going to make a better ram than Ray and isn’t related to the other 3 ewe lambs born this year. It looks like Stewie will be staying on as the new ram and the three ewe lambs will be staying as well, and all 5 of the adult sheep will go to the sale. That doesn’t do a whole lot for our freezer, but whatever Tooney the wooly ewe has will have to take care of that. I am hoping she has twins as well, as Randy and I alone can use 2 lambs per year. I was hoping to gift some this year but that’s not looking very likely.
It snowed last nite, but is raining today, so Cletus is taking shelter in with the new baby goat, whom I have dubbed “Stinky”. He’s cute right now, but I know that in the future, the name will suit. I just hope I can keep HIM out of the garden too. With my faulty memory of where I am going, and what I am doing, more than once I have arrived at the back door to find that Stinky has followed me through the gates without my noticing. He has made it all the way in the house more than once, as well.
I take Stinky’s bottle out to the shed to feed him. He sucks it down greedily as Bruno checks around in the straw for anything interesting. Finding nothing that requires his attention, he heads back out. Stinky finishes up and begins jumping up in my lap. He’s wanting to play so badly and I am sorry I don’t have another kid for him to keep him company. He jumps on and off the stanchion I am sitting on, sometimes landing on his feet, other times landing on his head. He jumps into my lap and snuggles his head against my shoulder and I groan, knowing that I don’t want him to be that friendly. 
After a few days I finally manage to get the sheep to allow him to go out in the pasture with them, without trying to kill him. He loves it, cavorting with the new twin lambs, as they jump over the low limbs on the Octopus tree, chase each other through the grown-ups and play leapfrog, jumping over one another, while twisting and kicking up their heels. It’s impossible to stop watching them when they play this way and just as impossible not to laugh at loud at them. It’s too bad that most of the world has no idea what they are missing.

Try as I might to give him the cold shoulder, Stinky thinks he MUST take a nap in my lap after eating. He jumps up and lays his little head on my shoulder, forcing me to pet him. Then he lays down against me, snuggling into my neck and happily rests. My arms are beginning to ache and I can’t believe I am afraid to get up because I will disturb a baby goat. I would get up with a human child and lay it in a crib, but somehow, I am compelled to sit here with Stinky. I gave him his last bottle out in the pasture. The pups began playing next to me as I squatted down, and succeeded in knocking me over. I was now stuck on my belly like a beached whale, holding the bottle for Stinky to finish. Afterwards, finding no lap to sit on, he climbed up on my BACK and went to sleep!!!

Mature buck goats are truly the most disgusting, ill mannered, gross and horrible smelling animals in creation. Why any self respecting doe goat would want to keep company with them is just beyond me. The smell from when a buck rubs against you is so bad you can’t wash it off...I think burning your clothes is probably your only bet. I have visions of running around the ranch wearing a barrel and suspenders after sweet and sociable Stinky has caused me to burn my entire wardrobe, which consists of 2 pair of jeans and various sweatshirts and summer tops. This is not the way I want to end up. I set him down and work my way out the door, leaving him behind. I plug my ears against his pitiful cries as I head back to the house.
I'm so cold hearted.