Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Going Forward

Annie the goat was being mean, mean, mean to the Captain, so she and her cohorts were removed to a different pen. The next day, I found her in the chicken pen, stealing their food. I hobbled out as quickly as I was able and grabbed her up. She had effectively climbed up her cattle panel shelter and used it as a springboard to launch herself into the next corral, where she was free to go where she pleased. Randyman and I moved the fence to prevent any further escape. Two days later, I found her and her friends this time, BACK in the chicken pen once again. I grabbed her up and noticed the gate to their pen was wide open. I shoved them in and made sure it was latched properly. The following morning..they were out once again. Annie had figured out how to open the latch by herself. The gate is now CHAINED securely. If that doesn’t work, my only other option is an armed security guard.

She managed to completely redesign the shelter. 

This is why we cannot have nice things...

It’s been an interminably long month. Storm fronts have brought longer lasting pain and agony and so far there is no relief in sight. I had begged Miss EmmaLouMoo to wait until after we went to town for my infusions to have her calf. She did. She waited until about 20 min after we left. Not only did she not get my drift, she apparently also did not get the memo that I wanted a heifer. Ed-a-bull. He’s wild as a March hair but has Emma’s sweet face, big eyes and long thick lashes, whereas, his sister has a rather ugly mug. Who said life was fair?

Prior to this my sweet niece and her son came visiting. Bruno pretty much threw me under the bus and was making over Ky every chance he got, and The Captain did the same. We had fun rendering tallow, eating, playing board games, playing with sheeple, shooting, and watching Ky practice with his crossbow. It was a great weekend.

Em went into ketosis shortly after calving. That is a metabolic disorder in which the output of the cow is greater than the intake and puts them in starvation mode. It is what her mother died from and I have been desperately trying to save her. I loaded her up and ran her into town to the vet where she got a bottle of dextrose IV and brought her home with a gallon of propylene glycol, to administer should she relapse. She did magnificently well for a week, scarfing down her grain and eating her hay like a champ, then relapsed. Nothing seemed to work. I was drenching her with the PG, getting myself slung around the milk room doing it, but managed to get it down her. The vet told me to only give it twice a day for two days and no more. She’s been battling us for a week, but we may be on the winning side now. She’s been out in deep pasture with Ed, and coming in at night to eat hay and grain. 

I went out to check on her tonite for the first time in a few days (TheMan has had to take care of everyone for me lately as I have been unable to do so myself). Her bag was fairly tight so I went ahead and milked out the 2 rear quarters. That was 3 gallons. She seemed happy and went back out to nibble on dinner then go eat grass.

I've been having to use a cane everywhere I go, so I can get back to the house again as pain and weakness have been a constant companion since our last trip to town. It's been determined that the infusion has not been working. (duh). Mister was kind enough to pick up my cane that I dropped and hand it back to me. It's Cider's job to do that, but he ran off to shop for cow pies. It's nice to know someone else has my back.

By day I have rendered 100 lb of tallow for making Whipped Body Butter to sell in the online store , as it is my biggest selling item. I am finding this the best time of year for me to use it as my hands get dry and chapped from pulling weeds and gardening. There are an impressive lineup of handmade soaps to sell now, and anyone wishing to buy several bars of mix and match for discount need to e-mail me with your choices as the website hasn't given me an option for that.

I am still working on getting in fencing for the chickens and radio fencing to contain the dogs by day so they can protect the sheep. All in all, it's a pretty big order just trying to get a few things done.

There have been some major challenges this year, with much sadness. More death in the family, which seems to be becoming a regular occurrence, with almost no time to allow my heart to heal. I've also lost some animal friends. As I lean more heavily on my faith and carry on I am  making some  decisions about the future. Some of these include downsizing and making it easier to get through my days, and easier for TheMan to get through his when I am too incapacitated to do my part, which has been more often than not, lately. These changes include selling the goats, this year's lamb crop and Miss EmmaLouMoo. I am hoping and praying that SushiMoo will be the cow I really need, as she will be my last. Mister is now out with the ranch cavvy and I am praying he does all right, as he fares poorly in a herd situation and at his advanced age it could have serious consequences.

The grass is greening up, a few flowers are making their appearance. Lilacs, tulips, pansies are doing their best to cheer me and remind me of the promise of Easter. As our Lord defeated death and the empty tomb gives promise of new life, so does spring come to lift my spirits. Death and loss and sickness and grief are parts of life on earth and none of us can avoid them, but so is new birth, life, beauty and awe. To paraphrase the apostle Paul, I must remind myself to "Think on these things…"

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Onward to April

It snowed again last nite. The apricot and peach trees had blossoms on them but may not have fruit again this year because of the cold snaps. 

My sweet tooth flared up. I pulled out the sourdough starter and started feeding up a ‘Herman” starter. My regular starter (Sam) gets just flour and water, but when I want to make cinnamon rolls or biscuits, I take a portion and feed it equal amounts of flour, sugar and milk for 2 or 3 days. Everything here gets a name, btw. Even our truck. It makes me feel like I am surrounded by friends and family.

It was a happy, happy starter and when I made the rolls, they rose in just a few hours and I had to bake them that afternoon. Usually it is 8 hours for the first rise and over night for the second. Not so with this happy mixture!!! The difference seemed to come from measuring my flour and water in the first starter. Instead of just scooping equal volume of each, I weighed them. 5 oz of flour was a heaping full measuring cup while the 5 oz of water was barely more than half. It became absolutely giddy.

I also made 4 loaves of bread. It is so much easier now that I have the Bosch mixer and can make twice as much at one time as I did before, plus it is a lot faster.

I didn’t take a picture of the rolls, but I split the batch with the new neighbor. They have a cute little girl that giggles and waves at me. Makes me miss my grandkids even more, if that could be possible...but they will have fun together when the kids come to visit.

As there is a half beef coming and we lost one of our freezers and it is NOT in the budget to replace it, I'm canning more meat. A few batches of jerky is on the shelves and I canned up a lot of meatballs to use on sandwich rolls, in spaghetti or just to eat out of the jar. I use this recipe,  mix it up in the stand mixer, use a cookie scoop to put them on baking sheets but I only bake them about 15 min. then put them in sterilized canning jars, cover with hot spaghetti sauce and into the pressure canner for 75 min pts and 90 min qts. Keeps several quick meals on the shelf, and makes room in the freezer for other things.

I am thinking I will can the recipe for swedish meatballs as well, just to change things up and have more choices.

The volatile changes in weather have taken their toll on me and I have spent too many days unable to do much. The house became a dungeon and a filthy one at that. With company coming I was struggling to get things back in order when a neighbor, from the ranch down the road, showed up with her daughter to clean it! I was flabbergasted as they tore through the house cleaning, walls, ceiling fans, pictures, dusting, vacuuming, mopping...and all just to be a blessing. The next day the mom came back and washed windows. Ranch folk are the best and as far as all concerned, they are also part of our ranch family which we are so lucky to be a part of. As we were conversing, she told me that wolves are already in the neighborhood. I am desperately hoping to keep Bruno and Potamus safe without having to dispose of our flock. We’ll be using radio fencing around the big pasture and hoping that keeps them contained by day. However, the problem is, even if it keeps my dogs in, it won’t keep anything else we also have to pray that the activity around the ranch headquarters here will keep wolves away during the day time, and I will have to lock the dogs and sheep up securely by night. Hopefully, we will know in a few weeks if the fence works or not. Otherwise, all the sheep will have to go, as I will not risk the lives of my big dogs, who would sacrifice themselves to protect them.

I had a couple of good days and really, really wanted to ride so I grabbed Mister, who turned up sore footed. Nephew who now works at the ranch down the road is going to try and fit him in for a trim, when he gets a chance. Next day I got up and limped out to the corral early before they turned all the horses back out and I was hoping I could catch Wimpy. He’s a wily old thing who loves to make me run around after him, between every other horse in the cavvy, to avoid being caught. This time though, I walked right up to him and he never moved. That seemed odd. I was feeling the effects of another barometer change already but hoped I could manage at least a short ride. As I brought him into the corral behind our house, I noticed he was keeping right up with me, which was also uncharacteristic of him, as he normally prefers to lug back at the end of the rope being slow and lazy for the most part. 

He had lost a great deal of weight since I’d seen him only 3 months earlier. He also had bite and kick marks on him, which was unusual as he always got along with everyone.

 Bringing him in with Mister, who, being a herd-bound turd was always excited to see Wimp, was another puzzling occurrence because Mister bowed up his neck and came at him like he was a total stranger. I began to wonder if it was really my horse. I looked at his distinctive snip (white marking on the muzzle) checked the two white saddle scars on his withers and the old barbed wire cuts on his hind leg. They were all the right ones, but I knew there was a horse that looked similar to him which is one of the boss’ horses. I became more and more fuzzy and confused and started second guessing myself. I actually posted before and after pictures of him asking people if it looked like the same horse to them. The loss of weight changed his angles dramatically and even Randyman said he didn’t think it was really Wimpy at all. Not that he would know, since he never rides and had hardly ever laid eyes on him. Since the horse had a bad looking coat, I wormed him and turned him loose again.

The ranch kids were home from college and THEY would know. Sure enough, it was Wimpy after all. (Which I would have known for certain, had I not be 'fuzzy headed' as now he looks exactly like himself only with a bad coat and much thinner.) 

One of the boys kindly re-captured him for me as I was no longer able to get up early enough or walk far enough to get him. I figured I had better find out why he lost so much weight and if it was his teeth, I needed to attend to it. When I was finally able to go out to see him, he kept his distance. I set out a flake of hay and a little SR feed for him and backed away. It took him awhile to come close enough to eat it as he could see me through the crack in the gate. It relieved me to see him acting like his usual anti-social, ornery old self. He’s not in BAD shape or poor by any means, but has lost enough weight in a short time for it to be disturbing. If he was fit and had lost the weight from working it would be a good thing, but that isn't what has occurred. I wonder now, if it is just the drought and the manner in which the cavvy is being fed. He’s getting older and he has always eaten REALLY slow. He might just not be getting his share. I found no sharp points on his molars and when I give him supplement, nothing falls out of his mouth. I’m pretty confident he will be just fine and I will be riding the next good day I have.

I spent a day making more Whipped Tallow and another trying out some new wax tart fragrances. The house smells amazing. My niece will be here in a couple of days and is bringing up an order from the candle supply store, so I’ll have plenty to do to keep me out of trouble.

First thing on the list, however, is fencing. The dogs are my top priority, and part of that will be buying a stronger fence charger, then after that is all handled, a rototiller for the garden and getting Randyman to actually help me put up the fencing he promised oh so long ago, as the meatie chickens will be here in May.

EmmaLouMoo is due anytime and I am still hoping Sushimoo is pregnant, but still don't know for sure. I should have had the vet palpate her, but I was just not well while he was on the ranch. If she is, she won't calve until August and if she isn'tthere won't be a bull around for awhile anyway.

Well, it's time to go do what I do. Have a great day/week/month and if you are looking for soap, candles or body butter, check out Ranch Rustics !