Monday, December 21, 2015

Better late than never!!

Heath entertains himself watching tv

A rare and vicious saber toothed sheppie

A computer failure put me into forced silence for awhile. Add to that the fact that the dogs busted the antennae that allowed us somewhat of a phone service and it’s been pretty quiet here lately!

After months and months of unsuccessful breeding, the rabbits have finally kindled, so, after starting with the original 4, we now have 40. Funny how that works! I have learned quite a lot since having them.


First of all, there is no foundation to the saying: “breeding like rabbits” because they are not that easy to breed after all. It did take 5 months, and the purchase of 3 more rabbits and one of the original does still has not gotten pregnant.
#2 It is a good idea to buy and wear kevlar sleeves as handling rabbits will slice you up and leaving you looking like you’d wrestled with Edward Scissorhands.
#3 Boy rabbits can spray urine quite a long way in any direction they desire.
#4 You have to clip their toenails and sometimes even their teeth.
#5 They poop. A LOT!  3 oz of rabbit feed turns into about 4 pounds of poop and a half gallon or so of pee.
#6 Rabbit poop is AWESOME for the garden. Really, really awesome.
#7 Newborn rabbits look like used chewing gum.
#8 Two week old rabbits are really, really cute
#9 At 3 days of age, baby rabbits do a great imitation of popping corn.

It is going to be a fun journey, albeit an expensive one. TheMan encouraged me to purchase good quality triple stack cages, as I cannot make or repair homemade ones and he hasn’t the time. I don’t regret it, as they will last forever, fit nicely in the milk barn in the winter and can be rolled outside in the summertime. But it was a pretty big expense. I hope we don’t need anymore than we have already.

Mister, my geriatric Paint Horse, somehow managed to get his legs caught in a fence or gate. Swollen, sore and infected, I had to dig through stuff I haven’t  used in over a decade since I quit my training business due to illness. On with the standing bandages, and putting him on antibiotics. Good to know I still got it.

Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is only days away. We didn’t get to see our family, but that is normal since we moved here to Oregon. It’s just too much distance for any of us to manage more than one trip a year.

I have been remiss in making soaps and lotions due to my declining health. I am hoping to have a good spurt in the future so I can get everything made and my inventory filled up again. Meanwhile, I have spent most of my time in the house, alone. Well…not alone. Heath has kept me company every waking minute of my day and even at night. He has managed to surprise me often and makes me laugh daily with his antics. I’ve never known such a high energy puppy to be so easy to live with. If I am feeling poorly, he is content to play “click” and he is a very fast learner. He already knows more than any dog I have ever owned and he’s extremely eager to learn more. He is sort of my “recreation director”. He lets me know when he wants outside, back inside, when it is time to play click, or time to play with toys. A couple of times a day he jumps up on my lap for hugs and kisses and unlike any dog I have ever known, loves to roll over on his back against my chest and just be held, like a child. I cannot begin to tell you how much positive impact that has on my outlook. He is incredibly bright and a ton of fun.

The radio fence has broken somewhere and the Maremmas finally realized they were no longer being contained as there is no beep, vibration or shock when they approach the fence, so rather than allow them free access to the ranch again, they have spent more time with me, while the sheep hang out in the small corral with Mister. These two big polar bears are just as affectionate as ever, happy to just lay on the couch next to one of us, where we can rest a hand on them. It is almost hard to believe such sweet and laid back dogs could so quickly become lethal in the face of a threat. I can’t imagine ever living without them, though they are very different than Heath and our relationship is different as well. Everyone is satisfied…well that is, to a point. There was only room for Heath and one big Maremma on the couch, so TheMan bought us a beautiful leather sectional and behold! We all fit! I am now on the hunt for a good throw on cover in black to keep on it, so they don’t damage it and also, so all I have to do is lift it off in order to offer a clean place for company to sit. All in all, it was a great investment. I have been totally enjoying it.

With my back and hands affected so badly these days, housekeeping is a challenge. We already live in a house with large gaps in the doorways and windows and overtime the wind blows, it brings in dust and leaves. Add to that 4 dogs, a husband who works on greasy tractors and trucks most of the time and having a plethora of critters, it just gets plumb out of control. Well, the boss’ family and a couple of the ‘neighbors’ took that into account. Mind you, I no longer work and am no longer able to help out or do anything nice for anyone on the ranch. We came home from a 2 day trip to Boise and as soon as I stepped through the front door, after our late night arrival, I knew something was up. The house smelled different, (it actually smelled good!!) and I noticed there were new door mats both inside and outside. In our absence, they’d had the floors scrubbed and waxed and the carpets cleaned. I was speechless. The next day, one of the neighbors showed up and told me she was instructed to clean the whole house and that I was not to argue, or help out. It has been overwhelming to be the recipient of so much love and consideration, but the ranch family is amazing. This weekend, TheMan went to California without me, because it is his Mom’s birthday. I would have gone, but my pain levels have been pretty bad lately and I didn’t think a 13 hr trip in the pickup both ways was going to be a good idea, so I opted to stay home. I heard a banging outside in the early evening, and assumed the kids were doing something at the cabin across the way. I mean, who and why would anyone be pounding on our house? Then I heard giggling and more pounding. I finally stepped outside to see that the boss’ wife and daughter had hung real pine and cedar garland and strung lights across the entire front of our house, along with a fabulous smelling wreath on the door. This evening, one of the girls drove down and took me up to the house for coffee. It was nice having a different view than the one from my living room and the stormy sky outside contrasting with the pristine white snow on the ground and blanketing the trees and equipment was breathtaking. We spent a couple of hours drinking coffee and sharing good company and they drove me back home. I walked into the house to find…a fully decorated Christmas tree!!

I had stopped decorating a couple of years ago because it is just the two of us and it is too difficult and painful to my back,  hands and shoulders.  But this year we have a beautifully decorated house and yard, thanks to the ranch family. They have done so many things for so many people throughout the years to SHOW the love of Christ in action.

I have no idea how to show my appreciation for all they have done for us, but am basking in the results of our beautiful clean house and Christmas spirit.

May you all have a similar experience and feel loved throughout the coming year.


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Maremma LGD's and Other Sundry Things...

It's been busy around here, more or less. Heath is growing up fast and showing what he is made of. 
I've always made him stay in the yard when I went out to feed, because he is too little and I don't want the sheep to hurt him and blow his confidence, or see him kicked by a cow or horse. Plus he loves to pop his front feet at the laying hens and make them run off squawking.
One afternoon, the Maremmas were in having a day off. I didn't see Heath sneak past me. They did though. He made a bee-line for those sheep and they made a bee-line to intercept him. Mr Potamus put himself between the sheppie and the sheeple while Bruno distracted him, offering himself as a sacrifice, being chewed on and abused, for the sake of his honor.
Potamus stood between the sheppie and the sheeple

blocking Heath's access to the sheep, which he has now forgotten

...because he is busy gnawing on Bruno...

...but they haven't forgotten him...

and Bruno brings him back to me...

Once again, the Maremmas demonstrated their unique style of protection and independent thinking. Instead of attacking the pup, which they knew was mine, they blocked and redirected his attention, thereby protecting my sheep, and my pup, while still accomplishing their objective. These same dogs that were so careful to cause  no harm don't hesitate to take on a cougar if it tries to breech their perimeter.

When they aren't actively preventing calamities, they engage in a lot of playful wrestling...

Notice there are never any teeth showing. They have always been careful not to injure one another, but the play is still rough and very fierce...

My son and his wife and six children came for a visit. It was GREAT to see them all and I especially enjoyed the weekend. They stayed busy doing target practice, riding around to see the ranch, feeding calves, putting shelters back together, moving meatie chickens, bathing Scottie, doctoring and marking sheep, and taking down the greenhouse, along with other things. 

Heath loved having the kids here and was especially taken with one little girl. It made his day when she would wake up in the morning and come to see him.

They actually wore him out. First time we've ever seen it....

All in all, it was a very good month.

I ruptured my bicep, so it will be a bit more difficult to do things for awhile, again, but Heath has been pitching in and helping to put the 54 meatie chickens away in the shed at night. One was injured when she was moved from the brooder to the shed, as the other chicks all piled up on her and she has difficulty walking or balancing now. He has been very disturbed by this, and yesterday, to my surprise, he went out and got her, and brought her to me in the house. She was none the worse for wear for his having picked her up and carried her all the way in here and is currently residing in a small rabbit cage in the house where he can feel satisfied she is doing ok, although she is not likely to survive as she gets bigger and gains more weight.

He's been doing a bang-up job taking care of the little flock in the back yard. However, I had to draw the line this morning, when he decided to separate the small "bonus chick" that was sent with them, who is a barred black and white and does not match the others. He then attempted to carry Magoo, the blind duck into the house. I've been trying to explain to him this is not an avian hospital and we do not segregate our chickens...never a dull moment here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

It's A Girl!

SushiMoo had her calf. It was another heifer and she is HUGE! That's good though, since Sushi had no problems delivering her and she'll be for sale. I just call her "Big'Un".

TheMan has been leaving the house at 3:30 am every morning lately to rake hay, so I have to go out and feed by myself. After situating the rabbits, feeding the bottle calves, letting the sheep out, saying good morning to Bruno, I went thru the gate to feed Sushi and my old Paint horse who is in the next corral over. I noticed Mr Potamus was laying in Sushi's corral but didn't think much of it. I fed her and wondered where she'd hid her calf...after all, the corral is 90% dirt now, so I figured she must be hiding behind the weeds towards the far end. I walked down there, but no calf. I looked around thinking maybe she'd gotten through the fence into the next pasture, but realized she wasn't bawling and neither was Sushi. At any rate, I knew Mr Potamus would protect her, wherever she had gotten to. Still, it bothered me that I could not find her. As I walked up to say good morning to Mr Potamus who was still in the same place (this should have been a red flag, as he ALWAYS gets up and comes to greet me, with his whole body slowly wagging) I noticed an old tire I had put over a large hold he had dug a year or so before...we call it his "man cave". Through the tire, I saw a small face with large, frightened eyes. Somehow, Big'Un had slipped backwards through the tire and was stuck underground in Potamus' mancave. He lay by her just keeping her company. I moved the tire and after some effort, managed to extract her from her dilemma. She was a bit stressed, but none the worse for wear.

57 meatie chicks arrived today and I am still waiting on the rabbits to kindle. I'm not even sure they are bred, since it has been so hot this summer and I am no good at palpating, since this is all new to me. I am hoping and praying I don't flare on processing day as these chicks are going to be a large investment. However, as they are not nearly as reactive as laying hens, they may serve to teach the Heathen not to chase chickens. He's very good about the ducks, but they aren't as erratic.

We dispatched "Old Ugly" who was one of our 'alarm clocks' and the hens are much happier. He had really torn them up, ripping most of the feathers off of their necks and backs. At first I thought maybe it was mites or parasites, until I realized the roosters weren't missing any feathers at all. Already in 2 days I can tell a difference in the health of my hens.  Having more than one rooster is never a good idea. In fact, the only reason I still have one, is because I'll be incubating the eggs next year. We'll be whittling the numbers down to 6 chickens this winter. DummyDuck is sitting on another huge clutch of rotten eggs. I have yet to work up the courage to remove them after the last debacle. Meantime, the other mama duck is taking care of 7 babies that survived from 2 different clutches. The drake had been killing them so I evicted him. Last I saw him, a chicken was chasing him across the pasture so either he has found new digs, or fed himself to the ranch dogs. No way to know for sure.

The sheep are fat and lambs needed weaning a long time ago, but so far, we haven't got it done. We'll be picking up a new ram next month, so that will be nice.

The Happy Heathen has been a source of daily entertainment. He's so smart and so crafty that he has both myself and the man in stitches most of the time. Lately, he's been stealing my shoes. I got up the other morning to just one shoe and told him he had to go find my other one. He just sat and looked at me defiantly. I argued with him, but of course, he never changed his mind that I could see. I stepped out to get the milk replacer for the calves and saw my shoe around the far corner of the house. Resigned to having to walk across the wet lawn to get it, I went in and finished making bottles. I opened the door to find my shoe on the doorstep. I thanked him profusely for bringing it back. Yesterday morning, again, I had only one shoe. I went through the same routine with him, but instead of sitting and staring at me, he would wag his tail and jump on the bed. I was irritated as I could not find it anywhere. I figured I would have to go feed barefooted, which is no fun here with the sharp rocks and stickers. TheMan rolled in just before I left. I told him about my shoe and he said 
"I thought I saw it on the bed this morning"

Sure enough, it was stuffed underneath the quilt. Very funny, Heath.
I was late getting up this morning so my little K9 alarm clock bounced up on my chest, pinning me and giving nose and eyeball kisses until I relented and got out of bed. If I am not up by 8 am, he will torment me until I am. I honestly am more attached to him than any dog I've ever owned and that is not said lightly as I have had some amazing dogs that meant the world to me...but Heath has made me his whole world. He doesn't beg for me to throw something or even to pet him, he climbs up on my lap several times a day just to 'be'. I don't know if he is fulfilling a need he has or not, but it sure does a lot for me. He learns at a phenomenal rate and has an almost sinful amount of personality. I rarely shed a tear anymore for Cider as Heath has come so far in healing my heart.

Heath meets SushiMoo

Heath meets the sheeple

A conversation with Thyme

That doesn't take anything away from the Maremmas. They are just as amazing and wonderful as ever. Just the other night, I was trying to get Sushi in, while her calf was only 12 hours old. She refused and so I decided to wrangle the calf in so she would follow. I kept a close eye on Sushi as often newly fresh cows can become aggressive if you get between them and their I never saw the big black baldy cow coming at me, until I heard Potamus bark. He raced in between us and took the hit. She knocked him off of his feet and began crushing him with her head. I let go of the calf and began screaming at the cow, looking for something to hit her with and I tripped and fell next to Potamus. Bruno charged in and held her back until we both could get to our feet and out of the pasture. I was afraid Potamus might have some broken ribs or internal injuries, but he seems to be fine other than bruising. We did manage to get Sushi and the calf confined and that is where they will stay until I take her calf off of her to bottle feed next week.

Best of all, my oldest son and his family are coming for a visit. I can't wait to see them! The grandkids and foster kids will all be here and I hope I can make it a special time for them. I am pretty sure that homemade ice cream and flaming bananas is gonna be on the menu.

Looking forward to the cooler days of Autumn and hoping the fires are all out soon. Most of the PNW is on fire and the smoke in the valley has been pretty bad at time, although we are fortunate none of the fires are too close to us. Most of the ranch crew is gone though, with all the heavy equipment helping to fight fires from California to Washington. Praying for the safety of all concerned and for better days to come.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Still Kickin'!

It was brought to my attention by a dear reader, that I have not been keeping up with my blog. I know there are some concerns as I have the propensity to keep earning myself trips to the ER or surgery.
The most recent I think I forgot to tell you about…

I have been desperately trying to take back my independence and pull my share of the load around here. One of the ducks (the stupid one) had a nest under the back porch and let a whole passle of eggs go bad. I figgered I could grab them up and take them to the dump. I got an armload of them but my bucket was on the porch out of my reach. I looked at the steps which were about 10 feet further down and thought, (in my little pea brain) I bet it would be good therapy for me to just step up on the porch without using the steps…it would surely strengthen my legs so I can get myself back up in the saddle again soon! (yes..this really was my thinking) With my hands full of rotten eggs, I put my stronger leg up on the porch and with a mighty heave, attempted to lift the rest of me up beside it…

I ALMOST made it. I was just a wee, tiny bit away from my leg straightening which would have resulted in  my standing on both feet, when it suddenly gave out, pitching me forward. I landed on my right shoulder first, followed immediately by my face…on top of the now broken, rotten eggs.
The pain was excruciating, so I figgered I must have busted my shoulder, as it didn't hurt near that bad the last time I dislocated it. I laid there for a minute, trying to catch my breath,  then realized I was helpless. I could not get up, nor roll over. I had no idea where TheMan was or when he was coming home. Heath was licking my ear (rotten egg didn't bother him). I began to scream for help, along with my screaming from pain. I just could not help myself. I screamed and begged for TheMan to come find me and help me. Over and over. 

Meanwhile, up at the boss's house, about a city block away, the boss and the ranch vet were outside having a gab session. He went in the house and asked his wife "hey, what kind of critter have they got down there that makes a sound like a woman screaming?" To which she replied "KIM!!" (my real name) Mortifying when I first heard the story, but kind of funny now. He called TheMan who came to find out what in the tarnation was wrong. He saw me on my face, crying and breathing heavily, and with a concerned look stepped over and reached out for me…then suddenly he began to gag and turned around and ran the other way. After several attempts to get near me, as he was dry heaving, he finally manned up and helped me into the house, insisting that it didn't matter HOW BAD I was hurt, I had to get rid of my clothes and take a shower before he would get in the truck with me to take me to the hospital. He helped me through the process and as I got out, the ranch vet was there. He checked the shoulder and said it was for sure dislocated and possibly broken. He wouldn't want to set it without x rays. So, 5 hours later, after our 55 mile drive down the gravel road and the 200 some odd miles to town after that, we made it to the hospital. It wasn't broke, just badly dislocated and they put it back in place and sent me home. Glad that is behind me. I wasn't the only one to suffer, as the boss' wife had the ranch kids give Heath a bath as he wasn't smelling like roses either. He was pretty unhappy about that.
 But other than that little episode, I've done good and all is well.

There were a few really hot days this summer. July 4th especially so, as two tires at the shop exploded. A really neat gal from Idaho on one of the FB forums came with her 11 year old son to help me out a bit and see the ranch. I am hoping more people will follow suit.

We've made several trips to town lately. Once was to take the Maremmas to Burns to see a groomer, as they didn’t shed well this year and my condition limits me as to how much I can do to groom them out. I can’t get on the floor (yet, anyway) and my right hand isn’t worth much these days. It was quite an experience. 

For those who don’t know, a Maremma is an Italian breed of Livestock Guardian Dog. They are one of several giant breeds of dogs developed over thousands of generations to bond with their livestock, live with the herds 24/7 and protect them from all threats. Unlike other breeds or genres of dogs, they live only for this. Where other breeds will bark and retreat, LGD's will not back down. Even with human predators, someone might feasibly distract a normal guard (not the same as a guardian) dog by throwing it some meat or a treat, but that will only serve to enrage a Livestock Guardian. The only thing that will appease them is for the intruder to LEAVE and they will make sure that happens by whatever means is necessary, beginning with verbal warnings, and escalating up to killing if necessary. Yet, these same dogs are so gentle, that they instinctively nurture the young of almost any species. They are known to be exceptionally good with children. Orphaned lambs at our place are usually seen snuggled up with the dogs, they know which calves are 'ours' and which belong to the ranch, even though they run together. Although they are not bonded to our free range poultry, they still vigorously protect them from both ground and aerial predators.  These are seriously powerful dogs who are very serious about their jobs.

So, we loaded up my big, powerful 100+ pound guardian dogs into the big stock trailer trailer (as there is no way to get them into the truck). We drove the 2 hours into Burns and be-bopped around looking for the groomer's. We had never heard of the street before and with Burns being a 1-horse town, (if that) it shouldn’t have been too difficult to find it. We eventually located it after finding a street by that name which kinda dog legged and no house numbers anywhere. We pulled over and called the number I had written down, to get directions. Turns out we had parked right in front of the place. Don't that just beat all?

Heath went in a crate in the trailer, and Scottie went in loose, so they would stay cool while we worked with the polar bears. I took Bruno, as he is a bit easier to move forward and is bolder than Mr Potamus, who has a phobia of pavement and buildings. (The vet has to come out to the horse trailer to work on him) We threw several towels down on the concrete pad in front of the groomer’s shop door and kept moving them in front of the last one to walk Bruno into the parlor. I then was able to get him to follow me into a big kennel (with towels on the floor, of course)

Mr Potamus wasn’t quite so willing. It took me AND TheMan to drag him (literally) to the edge of the concrete pad, after which TheMan had to pull his front end and I had to lift and carry his backend with a towel under his belly and we finally, after much coaxing, grunting and pushing, got him inside the  building. He went in the kennel with Bru. 
Next we managed to get Bru on the grooming table, and the two of us held him while she rolled it to the bath tub. She (the groomer) managed to give him a shove and pushed him into the tub and had him hooked up before you could say Jack Spratt. He got his bath, with LOTS of soap (it was his first ever and he is 5 yr old, but normally, these dogs have self cleaning coats). He was clearly not thrilled with it, but being as they are both socialized to me, he pretty much behaved. We managed to get him back up on the table after his rinse and rolled him forward again by the powerful blow dryer. Potamus, who had been shaking and trembling with nerves, looked on, enjoying the fan that was blowing on him from the next kennel over. She turned the dryer on Bru and as long as I stood by his head and talked to him, he was ok with it, although she had me dry the front of him. She thanked me for staying, admitting that usually she prefers people leave and allow her to do her job without interference, but she said “I can see these dogs are very bonded to you and I would not have been able to do this on my own”. Mr Potamus, who was SUPPOSED to be observing, so as to make his turn easier, was snoring in the corner.

It took hours to get Bruno dry, but he was beautifully white and fluffy. Unfortunately the mats in his tail were SOOO bad, we couldn’t get them out. As I didn’t think I’d be able to work on them at home much, she cut the mats out of his tail. It’s kind of funky lookin; but it will grow back, no doubt.

Mr Potamus' turn was next. I put his leash and collar on and led him to the table. TheMan had left some time ago to pick up parts for the ranch. We tried to lift him but he somehow managed to make his 120 lb turn to 400 lb of dead weight. We pushed, pulled, begged, coaxed and decided, Mr Potamus was not going to get a bath and blow dry. The lady sat on the concrete floor with him, combing and carefully working out his mats.

We arrived home with a happy little sheppie, because he got to get back in the cab of the truck with us, a filthy Scottie dog, who we had intended to have replace Potamus in the event Potamus refused to cooperate, but TheMan was not there and Scottie was with him. So, the score was 1 clean, fluffy dog with a pitiful looking tail, one very dirty, very matted Scottie, one frightfully cute sheppie, and one rather dingy, but well combed out Mr Potamus. 

I proceeded to go online that night and ordered a standing plastic tub and a heavy duty blow dryer. I decided it was worth it, as it costs as much to groom 2 dogs as it did to buy the equipment to do all 4, and we wouldn’t have to leave home and spend a whole day off work to do it.

Scottie got his bath 2 weeks later when the stuff came. The little Heathen is going to get one...eventually, and hopefully, so will Mr Potamus. First I have to bait him into the tub. Heath rolled in poop, so he got a bath and blow dry yesterday, amid much verbal protesting meant to make me feel bad, but only served to make me laugh. He has a lot to say for a little pup. He did get revenge, however, by sleeping on the bed that night and throwing up. I do think it was intentional, he probably pushed a paw down his throat.

It was a worthy investment. My robo-vacuum, “Jeeves the Houseboy”,  is much happier now that he doesn’t choke on gobs of hair every time he goes to work. I’m happier because the stickers don’t stick to the Maremmas so much anymore, giving me a lot of relief from anxiety over them getting a damaging foxtail under their skin. Scottie, well, he’s not so happy. Heath doesn’t care and TheMan never gets too excited about anything.

This past week has been a lucky one. We found both radio receivers that Bruno had lost, as well as his collar with the new GPS that I had not charged. It is like winning the lottery!

With all the egg laying going on around here, there are 7 surviving baby ducks. (We found the drake was killing them) The ducks reside in the backyard, where Heath is king, and makes sure they are in their shed at night. (I was told that English Shepherds were control freaks, and I can now testify to that). 

We also have rabbits now. We will be breeding them both for ourselves and for the dogs. I have not been comfortable with the numerous recalls on commercial dog food and it’s so pricey with 4 dogs, we decided that with all the extra chickens, ducks, rabbits, some beef, some lamb and whatever the hunters leave from the deer, we can put the dogs on a healthier, raw diet. It will simplify things as far as not having to run to town account of the dogs needing food...although simplifying life doesn’t always really make it simpler...but everyone keeps telling me how easy it is to raise rabbits, so I am going to take them at their word. I’ve never been a rabbit fan, so it’s new territory for me. I do kind of enjoy reaching in and petting their soft fur, and they are getting a little friendlier towards me. 

"Copper" Our New Zealand Red Buck

The dogs are quite taken with them…Heath mostly likes the poop. Bruno and Potamus take turns making sure Heath doesn't annoy them too much. They've been spending the days with me, to keep the cats away from the house. (I am deathly allergic to cats and one ranch cat has decided that out of 250,000 acres of ranch she could live on, she needs to break into my house at every opportunity, along with her kittens and kill me)

"Cora" New Zealand/Flemish Doe (I think)

"Callie" California Doe

SushiMoo will be calving anytime and I am getting really excited about it. I just hope my body will hold up to the demands being made on it. I plan to have Mr Potamus help me out. I've ordered a backpack for him to carry the 4 calf bottles for the leppie calves and am measuring him to have a harness made to train him to pull a little wagon with the heavy milker and the rest of the calf bottles for me. 

It will be a busy month, with 54 meatie chicks coming, the possibility of 24 rabbit kits shortly thereafter and a new calf-which will mean twice a day milking for me. I am looking forward to it and with Heath's help, I hope to be strong enough to manage all that needs to be done.

And just to make my day, Heath brought me this…I wonder if I have a vase to fit…?

Hope you all have a fabulous month…I know I plan to!

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Growing Stronger

Heath is growing and I am slowly getting stronger. There are always a few setbacks but I think I am making good progress. I've gotten a bit of yardwork done, with much more to do, but having done a shout out to some folks nearby, I'm bartering assistance for teaching how to make soap, do canning, work with sourdough, breadmaking, and various other skills I have picked up along the way. We had a delightful two days this past week with a lady and her son who helped clean off the back porch and the brooder in the milkroom. We made cheese (which I made a mistake with, by forgetting to turn off the heat at a couple of points along the way) candles and body butter. We also got up early to go watch them branding some calves down below our pasture, and take some pictures.

A neighbor pulls calf behind him, waiting for a heeler

One of the ranch cowboys is set up for the heel shot

2 pair of buckaroos keep the ropes tight while the branding crew does the ground work

Big smiles are always a treasure from this girl, as she recoils her rope and gets ready to bring another one in

Neighbor and her nice horse digging in and starting towards the branding crew

Getting the job done

 It's always a good time, watching the cowboys and horses working together and making sure to cause the calves the least possible amount of stress. In spite of what the process entails, the calves resent being held down more than being worked on, and once they are finished, they jump up and go eat. Cattle are amazingly tough animals with a fairly low functioning central nervous system which allows them to feel very little pain. They are well suited for the rugged life provided on the range.

Meanwhile, Heath has gotten bigger. He's managed to get himself up on the papasan chair, has learned to pick up his toys and put them away (although apparently bones and chewy hooves don't belong there) and has had a great time using his almost boundless energy chasing bugs and things. He brought me a mouse he had dispatched (Good Boy Heath!!) has killed several bugs that were stalking me, and unfortunately responded to my ebullient praise by bringing me a potato bug! Ick!

He caught me watching him one morning...and totally made my day by happily running into my arms with all the love a puppy can fit!

It's been a great month so far. God bless you all, and have a wonderful Independence weekend!