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Farm Fresh Blog
Sunday, 01 March 2015

There are consequences when you violate the Prime Directive.

Star Trek fans will understand the Prime Directive to mean that when you visit an alien world, you make no changes to that culture. To those of us who grew up with Star Trek, the Prime Directive has come to mean any guiding principle that is set in stone. To everyone on a farm, the Prime Directive is:

"If you find a gate closed, leave it closed. If you find a gate open, leave it open."

People with livestock know that open gates mean animals get free access to water or hay or pasture. Closed gates mean you don't want livestock in or out of a certain area. It's a simple concept. So easy even a caveman can do it.

But not me.

Apparently I broke the Prime Directive yesterday. And there were consequences.

It started with a phone call while I was at work.

"When I was in the barn unloading feed, did you come through the side gate but leave through the back gate?"

"Uuuuuuuuuhhhhhh"  (This is where your mind scrambles along at warp speed, dominoes crashing along a path. You KNOW you went through the side gate but you don't know if you closed it behind you, and your mind is busy trying to triangulate the possible consequences.)

So you buy time. "Uuuhhhmmmmmmm."

Then you remember you're an adult and thus might as well get it over with. "Ahhhh. . . yeah. Did I not close the side gate?"

"You left the gate wide open!"

He discovered this little error when he sat down to eat, glanced through the picture window and saw a big gaping hole where a gate should to be. Then he noted the little red dog on a down outside the sheep pen. Apparently Trace had taken it upon himself to go through the back pasture, gather all the sheep and goats, and pen them in their front paddock. (probably at warp speed)

Once penned, he held them there. For two hours. Because that's what Border Collies do. They bring order to the universe.

Sheep and goats scattered across the pasture = disorder

"Does everyone have ears?" I asked.

It was an important question since Trace has been banned from working my sheep because he took a cheap shot one day and took off half of Roanie's ear. I almost shot him there in the pasture. Instead, I banned him from working my sheep. He can only work cattle because he doesn't have the balls to bully animals that fight back.

"Yeah, everyone looks just fine. He just penned them."

Alrightie then. No harm. No foul. Next time I'll pay better attention when I'm juggling a puppy and talking to neighbors while going through gates.

But there were consequences besides a happy afternoon for Trace. I looked out this morning to find that none of the animals were where they were supposed to be.

"Oh, oh, it's party time."

Horses were in the arena where calves belonged, and calves were in the side pasture where horses belonged. And it rained, so everything was a slippy slidy mess. Arghhhhhh . . .

I walked out to the back pasture and found the problem. The fence gap was down. Apparently something had hit it with enough force to joggle the pole out of place and drop that section of fence. In short - party time in the pasture.

My guess is that a group of sheep trying to outrun a red rocket hit that fence like a sonic boom and brought it down. Oh dear. Well at least everyone is okay. I'm just left with the resulting disorder that happens when you violate the Prime Directive.

And that's why we have rules.

So let me leave with a nod to Star Trek giant, Leonard Nimoy, who passed away this week. His last Twitter post was particularly beautiful.

"A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved except in memory."

Live long and prosper.

Well done, Mr. Nimoy. Well done.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:06 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, 28 February 2015

The beauty of aging is that with gray hair comes wisdom.

"Pick your battles."

That is the probably the wisest advice you can take for anyone raising kids, stallions, rams, bucks, bulls, or husbands. Assess their behavior, decide where it lies on your scale of 'will not tolerate' and act accordingly. Be consistent, be fair, don't lose your temper, and above all, recognize when a little behavior can grow to something more serious in the future.

Jethro is my first bottle-raised buck. In the past all my bucks and rams have been pasture raised, thus they have had a tiny mistrust of humans. Because I know how big he will become, I've been careful not to make Jethro a pet. I handle him, but I don't pal around with him and love on him like I do the girls. He has wether friends and cows for companionship. The problem with that is that no one really checks him when his play gets too rough. The wethers are too little, and the cows . . . I mean, what's too rough for a cow?

Yesterday I stole a moment to play in the pasture with my camera. It was a cold and windy day, and Jethro was in rare form. He wanted to play - with me. I don't care how tiny and cute they are, don't let rams or bucks or bulls, or stallions play rough with you. Testosterone is not your friend. That silly play can escalate into something really dangerous, not necessarily today, but in the future. A healthy respect for humans is important for your safety and theirs. Many deadly farm animals started out as pets that were allowed to play rough with humans.

I like Jethro. I'd like to keep him for quite a while. Thus, it's important that Jethro understand humans are not toys. Let me state the obvious: You cannot hit or kick a farm animal hard enough to gain its respect for very long. Unless the correction is very well timed and shocking enough to get their attention, you merely gain their interest as a worthy opponent.

I do not spar with farm animals.

That is not to say that I intended to put up with any crap from a juvenile Jethro. So deflecting Jethro's attempts to play, I made my way out of the pasture, and returned with my bodyguard, who had been watching this from her kennel.  She needed no instruction. She simply slithered into place by my side.

 This is the face of The Law. She has an innate ability to read livestock and understand when a challenge has been issued. She knew Jethro was being disrespectful and she was ready to address the issue. This is Clint Eastwood, tossing his pancho over his gunbelt to free up his pistol.

Jethro saw the dog and was initially put off, but then any common sense he had fluttered off in the cold wind, and he trotted toward me again, shaking his ears. The dog stalked forward about four feet. I'll give her credit. She gave him the chance.

He stared at her. She stared at him. The soundtrack to a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western began.

And a gust of breeze took any brains Jethro had left, so he dismissed the dog, and bounced at me again. And Lily darted out like a cobra and bit him right in the nose.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T  (Cue Aretha Franklin)

"Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me . . ."

It was a perfectly timed correction. Jethro hightailed it away to reconsider. He stood at a distance and thought about it. The buck shook his ears and postured a bit. The dog just stood there, waiting for him to make her day.

"I think I'll go play with the cows."

And the clouds parted. Jethro had a moment of clarity and decided that he didn't want to wrestle with me anymore. He'd rather play with the cows. He shook his head at us and trotted away to join the cattle. I was then able to go about playing with my camera in peace.

Is Jethro dangerous? No. Absolutely not. He is a big, goofy boy, not even a year old, just trying to figure out who he is  in the world. He likes humans and we like him. But if I allow him to jump on us, and butt us, and disrespect us, he will become dangerous. So for our safety and his, it's just best to have my canine bodyguard at hand.

 "R-E-S-P-E-C-T"

"Sock it to me. Sock it to me. Sock it to me . . ."

Listen to Aretha Franklin: https://www.youtube.com/embed/6FOUqQt3Kg0

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:32 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 26 February 2015

When did I go from this:

 21 years old

to this?

 51 years old

A dear friend of mine once said this about aging, "It was like I woke up one day and someone had put a 'fat suit' on me while I slept."

It didn't happen like that with me though, it was a gradual thing, starting in my forties, just about the time I quit running and gunning on patrol and went to a more sedate job as a crime scene investigator. I also went from being an unhappy person to a very happy person. Unfortunately, the happier I got, and the more comfortable I became with who I was, the wider I got. And now for health reasons, I'm not at all happy with the weight itself, but I wouldn't trade the happiness and the wisdom I gained along the years that came with the weight.

When I was skinny, back when I thought I was fat, I was unsure of myself, afraid of confrontation, desperate to prove I was of worth to those in the world around me. Now, now don't piss this fat woman off. Instead of turning away from confrontation, I'm happy to take the fight to them if necessary. Crazy has a name, and that name is a confident woman with nothing to prove.

I stumbled over that concept yesterday after the The Perfect Storm. Other Half is in Arizona this week. I'm juggling a full-time job, eight dogs, and a farm. Not long ago my big truck broke down and I had to pay big bucks to get it on the road again. Then it broke down again, leaving me stranded not once, but twice. The second time the fault was with something the mechanic's shop failed to do properly so they fixed it with no charge. They apologized and sent the truck home and promised I would be happy. I had to sell my beloved old Toyota 4Runner with 300,600 miles on it to pay the mechanic bill for the big truck. That did not make me happy, but at least I had the big truck working. So yesterday I loaded three dogs in that truck and bounced down the road to the grocery store, but halfway there a "check gauge" light came on.

Do what?!

I considered turning around and going back home. Then the puppy peed in the back seat. I sat at red light, mad, trying not to cry in frustration. I phoned Other Half. He was still in class and didn't answer. Screw it. I drove to the grocery store.

Thirty minutes later I climbed back in the truck and guess what? The 'check gauge' light was on again. And the puppy peed in the back seat again. WTF! Thankfully I had a thick comforter to catch the urine, but it did not improve my mood. I was angry at the whole situation, angry enough to drive that truck right back to the shop, peeing puppy and all.

Now a mechanic's shop is like a police shooting range, a fortress of testosterone  which intimidates women. I don't understand mechanical things. If the problem is not a flat tire or a dead battery, I can't fathom it. But guess what, folks. I'm not going to let that stop me from dealing with mechanics. I could have waited. I could have driven the truck home and let my husband deal with it when he got back into town. After all, isn't that what husbands are for?

Normally, being busy, I might have avoided the issue but on this day, I refused to be intimidated by something I didn't understand. I don't understand trucks. So what? The mechanic doesn't understand the stages of decomposition of the human body. He has never reached into a bathtub of decomp goo to pick up a loaded gun filled with maggots. I have. Score one for me. So I wasn't going to let my ignorance of a subject intimidate me and keep me from stalking into that mechanic's shop and saying,

"Remember me?"

Now here's the funny thing. My husband has no social skills, even on a good day. He has no filter on his mouth. If he thinks it, he says it, and he doesn't care who he offends. The last time my truck was in that shop, my husband made it clear to the mechanic that they needed to make me happy because "I" was the crazy one. If they thought he was bad, they really didn't want to meet me.

So as the mechanic was mulling over in his head who I was, I simply said my husband's name. Everything suddenly clicked into place. I saw in his eyes the moment he realized the crazier woman married to the crazy man was standing in front of him. He was most gracious and happy to help me deal with my currrent problem which turned out to be simple and completely unrelated to the earlier issue.

Guess what, folks. Confident women are called crazy bitches by men, but the reality is that we aren't crazy, we just really don't care anymore. I don't know anything about diesel engines, but I refuse to let that intimidate me so much that I won't stand up for myself. And it felt good. I did not walk into that shop, hesitant and meek. I paid good money to fix that damned truck and I wanted it fixed properly. I wasn't rude, I was simply honest, and I wasn't concerned with what he thought of me. My self-esteem is not wrapped up in what some strange man thinks.

He was very nice, solved the issue, and I was back on the road in minutes, with a renewed self-confidence. I could have waited, but if I had waited for my husband to fix the problem, I would have been angry about it all week, and I would have cheated myself out of the opportunity to add another layer to my self-confidence.

I refuse to see myself as a helpless, aging, overweight woman who waits for someone to solve my dilemmas, for each problem I tackle myself gives me more strength to attack the next one. 
 
By now I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt, and have the scars. I have gone places, and seen and done things that most grown men won't do, thus, I have no intention of allowing a few pounds to bring down my self-esteem. I look around at other women who starve themselves, purge themselves, and sweat themselves, caught in a desperate battle against aging.  They are confident that skinny equals beautiful. Skinny equals young. Skinny equals happy. Skinny equals love. Skinny equals acceptence.

Guess what? If those are the reasons you're trying to get skinny, you will be sadly mistaken. Skinny doesn't equal anything but skinny. Skinny won't bring you any of those things. Neither will money. Neither will the right make-up. Neither will the right man. If you are not happy with who you are as a person, getting skinny will only make you a smaller, unhappy person.

Happiness comes from confidence, and true beauty comes from happiness.

Ladies, if like me, you're carrying more pounds than you want, start eating better and exercise for your health only, not for some insane quest to be skinny. I'd love to be in the same shape I was in when I left the police academy, but unless I have drill instructors standing over me forcing me to run and do push-ups, it's not probable. It is more likely that I will learn to eat less convenience foods, and take more time to walk and jog with the dogs.

The important thing is that we not let our outward appearance define who we are as a person. Be confident in who you are, that is where real beauty lies.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:26 am   |  Permalink   |  10 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 24 February 2015


I stared in shocked amazement at the carnage before me, but like so many deaths I've stood over, I couldn't cry because I was in a police uniform and there is no crying in police work. I just stood there in the street, holding back a silent tear.

My office is in the city, a building surrounded by concrete. And along the building, in this paved barren landscape, stood four trees - until yesterday. I was told that it took only twenty minutes. In twenty minutes a truck rolled up, sawed down four trees, loaded them into a shredder, and then workers blew the debris away and continued down the street. It took them longer to block off the street than it took them to kill four trees.

Why?

I held back a tear as I stared at the pitiful empty stumps sticking out of the pavement.

"They're gonna widen the sidewalks and put in planters."

Really? Really! They are gonna put in giant concrete planters like we have on the other side of the building? Planters that are filled with weeds and the occasional cigarette butt? Those planters? They cut down four trees for THAT!!?

"No, they cut down 72 trees for that..."

Someone decided to go the entire length of downtown and cut ALL the trees so they could widen the already very wide sidewalk and create a nicer stroll for pedestrians.

I listened to this explanation and tried not to let the tear roll down my cheek. I've stood over dead humans with less emotion than I felt for those trees. When is enough enough? When does man in his infinite arrogance quit killing things to satisfy his fickle fancy for the moment?

Those big dreams for sidewalks and planter look fine on a storyboard, but the reality is that someone has to care for those planters. Someone has to put plants in there. And that someone always chooses annuals that must be watered often and replaced regularly. These plants float in a sea of concrete like a shipwrecked lifeboat floats in the ocean.

Seventy-two trees . . .

Seventy-two trees were probably chopped up yesterday to form the mulch for the spring potted plants the city will pay to have planted, and cared for, and ripped out and then replaced later with the next Home Depot season special.

I need to retire. I need to be in a place where the trees are older than me, where they and the rocks around them, look down on the struggles of man as he tries to eek a living from the land, with the land. I need to be there to protect the trees. There is a reason why I must own my land - because the land needs an advocate, a voice, someone who will stand up and defend it. The land needs people who will stand up and shout "NO! You will not cut down those trees to make room for whatever stupid idea of you've come up with today!"

It is easy for people to say that land should belong to the government so that it belongs "to the people," but I will take a firm stand and tell you that the moment you give control of land to the government, some pencil pusher sitting on an IKEA chair in a sea of concrete will look up from a painted storyboard drawing and give the order to cut down your trees to make room for people who will bring more money to the government. And the people who love those trees will stare at the pitiful stumps in the concrete and shake their heads.

The people will leave their offices to head to the bus stops, and they will stand around the stumps of these trees and ask why. They will look around and ask the police.

"What happened to the trees?"

And the police will be just as upset as everyone else. Some people will go to the city to demand answers, and they will be reminded that the trees belong to the government and the government can cut them down for "the good of the people," because tourists like wide sidewalks, and tourist bring money. And you can always buy more trees.
 

  To read the story of my own personal battle for the trees:

Read -

Ferngully

Saving Ferngully

Anne Frank Meets Dirty Harry

What We Have Here . . .

Chess Games

Battle Drums

The Good Fight

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:20 am   |  Permalink   |  8 Comments  |  Email

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