- November 2019 (2)
- August 2019 (1)
- July 2019 (3)
- May 2019 (3)
- March 2019 (2)
- February 2019 (2)
- January 2019 (4)
- December 2018 (2)
- November 2018 (2)
- October 2018 (2)
- August 2018 (1)
- July 2018 (3)
- June 2018 (2)
- May 2018 (3)
- April 2018 (8)
- March 2018 (6)
- February 2018 (10)
- January 2018 (8)
- December 2017 (1)
- November 2017 (4)
- October 2017 (1)
- September 2017 (3)
- August 2017 (1)
- June 2017 (1)
- May 2017 (2)
- April 2017 (3)
- March 2017 (2)
- February 2017 (1)
- January 2017 (3)
- December 2016 (1)
- November 2016 (4)
- October 2016 (3)
- September 2016 (6)
- August 2016 (4)
- July 2016 (7)
- June 2016 (5)
- May 2016 (6)
- April 2016 (7)
- March 2016 (6)
- February 2016 (11)
- January 2016 (11)
- December 2015 (14)
- November 2015 (7)
- October 2015 (3)
- September 2015 (6)
- August 2015 (10)
- July 2015 (5)
- June 2015 (9)
- May 2015 (8)
- April 2015 (9)
- March 2015 (9)
- February 2015 (9)
- January 2015 (14)
- December 2014 (11)
- November 2014 (8)
- October 2014 (6)
- September 2014 (6)
- August 2014 (8)
- July 2014 (4)
- June 2014 (9)
- May 2014 (5)
- April 2014 (4)
- March 2014 (2)
- February 2014 (7)
- January 2014 (7)
- December 2013 (15)
- November 2013 (10)
- October 2013 (5)
- September 2013 (9)
- August 2013 (6)
- July 2013 (8)
- June 2013 (12)
- May 2013 (16)
- April 2013 (13)
- March 2013 (13)
- February 2013 (10)
- January 2013 (11)
- December 2012 (7)
- November 2012 (8)
- October 2012 (7)
- September 2012 (9)
- August 2012 (6)
- July 2012 (2)
- June 2012 (11)
- May 2012 (10)
- April 2012 (5)
- March 2012 (12)
- February 2012 (8)
- January 2012 (11)
- December 2011 (13)
- November 2011 (11)
- October 2011 (13)
- September 2011 (12)
- August 2011 (12)
- July 2011 (11)
- June 2011 (11)
- May 2011 (18)
- April 2011 (21)
- March 2011 (24)
- February 2011 (17)
- January 2011 (23)
- December 2010 (26)
- November 2010 (29)
- October 2010 (27)
- September 2010 (29)
- August 2010 (24)
- July 2010 (19)
- June 2010 (15)
- May 2010 (18)
- April 2010 (16)
- March 2010 (22)
- February 2010 (24)
- January 2010 (25)
- December 2009 (18)
- November 2009 (1)
Farm Fresh Blog
Wednesday, June 20 2012
(Also titled: How Nadine Never Left)
Despite the fact that my common sense tells me Rat snakes are good things to have in the barn for rodent control, I'm sorry, Nadine just gives me the creeps. I'm okay with her/him at a distance, when I expect her, but surprises are bad for my heart. Therefore, every since the day Other Half assisted Nadine in her/his exit from the feed bin and she/he slitered under the hay pallets, I have just always ASSUMED that Nadine is still in the barn.
Other Half did not live under such assumptions. Out of sight. Out of mind. Not a wise way to live in my book, but he does spend less time springing away from bungee cords on the ground.
Farm chores are never-ending. Scout chose to double-barrel kick through the boards in his stall, trapping his back legs at the hock.
While kicking his way free, he did significant damage to the barn. Miraculously except for the loss of hide, his back legs are somewhat intact. The same could not be said for that wall of the barn. And since fixing rotting boards in jungle-like heat and humidity has always been on my Bucket List, I was practicaly gushing with excitement to begin.
Wake up looking forward to a wonderful, fun-filled day of fixing goat escape routes and broken barns. Joy, joy, thrill, thrill.
Watch Other Half begin tearing down rotting and/or broken boards. Nothing interesting here. Wander off to fix goat escape routes on my own. He hollers. Much like a child screaming, "MOM!" when you're out of sight, Other Half has a tendency to want his slaves close by so he can order his minion to do simple/unpleasant tasks. After a lifetime of this, Son has adapted to it, I don't do so well and tend to wander off when not given a task.
"I NEED you here with me!" (Translated: "Hand me tools. I need a gopher.")
"I need to fix Oscar's hole!" (Translated: "What you are doing is boring and my time could better be spent hauling cattle panels and wire in the never-ending task of foiling goat escapes.")
"Well I need you here."
"OKAY!" (Screamed in the tone of Alvin the Chipmunk)
Since handing someone tools is B-O-R-I-N-G, I begin to fiddle inside the barn, addressing clean-up tasks that have been bugging me, but still staying close enough to be a slave/minion.
Begin by picking up feed sacks that Other Half carelessly discards on floor. Pet Peeve - I put them in garbage or use them as trash bags in the house. What? Doesn't everyone replace their Hefty Bags with Oat Bags? Take the opportunity to smugly lecture Other Half on his messy habits. He refrains from throwing a hammer at me. It does cross his mind though.
Cautiously pick up 6 sacks. Fold and stuff them inside each other. Hay is gone now. All that remains is wooden pallets on the floor. Two Used-To-Be-Good-Before-He-Left-Them-On-The-Barn-Floor-With-Bugs-Rodents-And-Snakes horse blankets are sitting on top of a pallet. Use a hay rake to cautiously, carefully remove blankets. Squirm and EEEk as palmetto bugs (Fancy word for Giant Freakin' Cockroaches!) scramble over and through blankets. Other Half observes this and smirks,
"What are you afraid of? They're just bugs! Call Lily in here and let her take care of them."
Border Collie Lily has been employed in the house as a contract killer for bugs, but I because I didn't want her involved in this particular (read: nasty, probably dangerous) activity, I had left her in the house. Other Half continues to taunt me as I cringe while watching bugs crawl in and out of blanket. I am annoyed. The minion is not happy. She is hot, sweaty, and immensely dislikes cockroaches. Move second blanket. Recoil violently across barn.
Other Half laughs. "Nadine?"
"YES! And she's GROWN!"
This is only funny to Other Half because he is on the other side of the barn. Had he pulled up a blanket to find a 5+ foot snake underneath, he would have been richocheting off the walls too. Although my initial reaction was less than admirable, I recovered, curious to check out the New & Now Scarier Nadine.
Apparently a steady diet of mice is good for a snake. I don't doubt this is the same snake. She is in the exact same spot Other Half released her. And after all, why leave? Nadine had a good thing going.
And here's the part where the crew mutiny began:
"Finish taking your pictures, and move her out of here."
"I'M not moving that snake!"
"Well, she's right where I need to be to repair that wall."
"That's YOUR problem!"
He stands there, from the safety of the snake-free side of the barn, and stares at me. This is a mutiny. The line was drawn in the sand. (Read: hay dirt) Nadine is now pissed/frightened and is rattling her tail. This is smacking against the blue tarp giving a fairly nice rattlesnake impersonation. It does nothing for my confidence. I am NOT moving that snake. Other Half comes over to inspect Nadine. Yes, she is MUCH larger. No KIDDING!
He picks up shovel she is hiding behind. Nadine is not happy. She is trying to find an exit. He tentatively pokes her with shovel. Nadine decides to slowly exit Stage Left. She slithers through the pallet toward the feed bin. As she moves we get a better idea of exactly how long Nadine is now. Yes, that is a standard size wooden pallet.
Impressive. At this rate, the next time I stumble upon Nadine, she will be so large that I will surely faint dead in my tracks.
I can see it now: Other Half will walk into the barn to find me passed out beside the feed bin, a bucket of oats spilled all over the floor. He will ask, "Nadine?"
And Border Collie will nod.
We left Nadine safely (for Nadine) under the feed bin. I made mental note to remember to ALWAYS wear boots when shoveling out oats. Although Nadine has proven multiple times she is a peace-loving snake, bare ankles around a large (insert: ANY size) snake gives me the willies.
Can I have an "Amen" here?
Wednesday, June 13 2012
Sunday, while Other Half and I were waiting for Peter to fix the air conditioner in my car, we watched his neighbor wash his giant Hummer. It gleamed black and shiny in the sunlight. Frankly the truck looked clean to me before he washed it, but then, that's just me.
As I watched the man waste an extraordinary amount of water while washing a clean truck, I wondered how many livestock troughs could be filled with that water. Other Half was thinking along other lines when he sighed and said,
"Is this what people in subdivisions do with their time?"
We often reflect upon such things when our chaotic lives are pulling us from both ends. Which brings us to Oscar's Big Adventure yesterday:
I have said before, and I'll say again, the most innocent of goats is a demonic force of its own. Goats make you appreciate sheep. (Read: Goats v Sheep )
Oscar has figured a way out of the sheep/goat pen. I didn't worry too much about this at first simply because I seriously doubted he would leave the rest of the flock. After all, why leave the security of other goats and sheep to strike out on uncharted territory like Lewis & Clark?
Apparently only a goat can answer such a question.
Normally I turn the goats, sheep, and horses into the yard to mow for several hours before I go to work. They expect this. Things tend to turn ugly when it doesn't happen. Now here is the paradox: I KNOW this rule! Why then, do I feel that when I'm rushed and don't HAVE TIME to turn the stock into the yard, I will have the time to deal with whatever drama they smite me with because I DIDN'T turn them into the yard? I'm just sayin'. . . I need to put more thought into that.
Suffice it to say that we got busy yesterday morning and informed the stock they would have to WAIT until later to get out of their goat pen. Enter Oscar. To be more accurate: Exit Oscar.
After 3 hours of running around town doing errands, we return home. I have 40 minutes to get in the shower and get ready to leave for work. We divide chores. I tend dogs while Other Half heads to the barn. A few minutes later, he informs me that Oscar is gone.
"Something got him" he said gravely.
I refused to believe this. There was no body. No body. No crime. (This little rule has failed me regarding the disappearence of chickens and geese though.) I stubbornly began searching the pasture. I saw buzzards, but they were high and I doubted they were after Oscar. I went to the ranch next door and asked Kindly Rancher's Wife if she had seen my baby goat.
"No, but if you see a loose cow in MY yard, it's a bottle-baby calf."
Got it. She agreed to poke around her place in search of Oscar while I hiked to the Well-manicured-Better Homes & Garden house next door. Logic would say that a missing goat would be found there.
I fully expected to find Oscar in their yard eating expensive roses. He was not. So I trespassed and entered their pasture which is adjacent to ours. An aging Arabian nickered at me, but no goat. While tromping through their pasture, with the hot sun beating down on me, I thought about how many times I was late to work because of some livestock drama. I brushed a bead of sweat out of my eyes and focused on a mirage in the distance. Were those goats?
Veering toward the mirage, slowly the fuzzy image of several goats materialized on the farm NEXT door to the Better Homes & Garden House. The closer I got the more one of those goats looked like Oscar! I didn't ponder too long on how a 6 month old goat got 1/4 mile away from home. Once I arrived at my destination, Oscar waved at me.
Somehow he had managed to find himself with a bachelor group of billy goats. Alrightie then! I phoned Other Half to inform him that I had located the missing member of the Lewis & Clark expedition and then proceeded to attempt to locate a farmer. No luck. No one home but goats. It appeared that this nice farmer had seen a bumbling baby goat and plopped him over the fence with his goats before something ate him. How nice.
Other Half soon joined me and we roped Oscar who had somehow managed to lose his coonskin cap somewhere along the 1/4 mile journey from our house to the frat house. Then I sat him in my lap as we tooled down the highway on the mule. The people across the street from the goat frat house watched us steal Oscar but didn't comment on it. I made mental note that these must be misplaced city folk. Steal livestock on OUR end of the road, and Kindly Rancher WILL stop you and not be kind.
Since we didn't have time to find and fix the escape route, we tossed Oscar in a dog run. He immediately began to smash himself against the bars in an earnest attempt to break his own neck. This is something else goats and sheep do to give your hairdresser more experience in coloring gray hair.
It was apparent that Oscar needed a babysitter . . . .
The babysitter was less than enthusiastic about her arrangements, but it settled the goat down enough that I got to escape myself and race to work, grateful for the peace and quiet of just one drama at a time. I can only run one death at a time at work. If another one drops, it's someone else's problem, quite unlike the farm, where ALL dramas are my problem.
On my way to work, I put a note on the farmer's door and thanked him for taking care of my baby goat. I left my name and number. (This is very important to the story!)
Other Half made a prison for Oscar in the goat pen and I found him sleeping when I returned from work. All seemed well. Until 8 AM this morning:
My phone rings. Strange number. Pick it up to find Irate Woman accusing me of stealing her goat. Do what? As I listen to her I am thankful that I had publicly posted pics of Oscar on blog and Facebook prior to my alleged goat theft. Am also thankful that Other Half is good friends with most of the deputies in this area. They know he is a lot of things, but not a Goat Thief. He might participate in the HANGING of a goat thief, but he is not a goat thief. With this in mind, I am able to cheerfully explain to her that yes, indeed, I DID take a baby goat from her boyfriend's pasture, but it was my baby goat.
She is angry, but listens politely to my story of Oscar's big adventure. I describe him in detail, his breed, where we got him, and why we got him. Her terse, clipped tone, calms down. As a goat owner herself, she can most certainly see the logic in this story.
Every story has two sides; she then shares her side of the story:
She has about 40 goats on a farm about 20 miles away. Something was killing goats and her Big White Dogs had not yet been able to address the problem, so she moved some of her stock to her boyfriend's farm for safe keeping. He was not really on intimate terms with his new charges and so didn't know exactly WHAT he had in his back yard. He comes home to find my note on his door. Since he has not put a baby goat in the back yard, and he can't remember how MANY young goats were there to begin with, he contacts Girlfriend and tells her that someone (who left a name and number) must have taken a goat from his yard. You see where this is going?
The good thing is that I was awake enough to realize her mistake in believing I was a goat thief and she had goats long enough to realize that the fabled "Oscar" probably did exist. It also didn't hurt to let her know that Oscar lived at the house with the POLICE truck parked in the front yard. That's when she had an "ah ha!" and remembered that she had once captured and returned our loose paint horse.
Thankfully this adventure didn't escalate to a Hatfields & McCoys situation. We exchanged phone numbers in the event of future escapes and all was well.
When I turned the little beast out in the yard today, I thought again about what people in subdivisions do with their time. Something tells me they probably don't wake up to phone calls from people accusing them of stealing goats. It's just a thought . . .
And one more question: if THEY didn't put Oscar in their goat pen, who did?
Tuesday, June 12 2012
Other Half and I both share the same character flaw: procrastination. Part of it is that we are spinning so many plates at once that we have to prioritize certain things. People who live like this have a higher tolerance for dog hair on the floor and tall grass in the yard. They also have the ability to sleep with dogs. This is due to the aforementioned tolerance for dog hair.
Now this said, our tendencies toward prioritizing and procrastination almost always have a way of biting us in the butt. The problem being - we prioritize the wrong things when we procrastinate. For example: the air conditioning in my Toyota 4Runner.
My little putt-putt car is a 2000 Toyota 4Runner that has over 263,000+ miles on it. The only thing I do to that truck is put gas in it. My idea of maintenance is - putting gas in it. When forced by the state, I will put new tires on it, and I give it an oil change then. I do not possess automotive care skills. Other Half possesses these skills, but there is that whole procrastination thing. I have a tendency to treat my cars like I treat my riding lawnmowers -
"if it's moving forward and grass is coming out the side, it's fine. Keep goin'."
Last year there was a major hitch in the giddy-up with my little 4Runner - loud screeching under the hood. Hmmm.... sounded like a belt. (Like I would even know!) Neighbor across street heard the screech and became concerned enough (code: tired of listening to it.) to advice me to try rubbing soap on the belt. I did. Nothing. Nada.
One of the guys at my office sprayed some fancy spray on it. Nothing. Nada.
Now although my automotive skills are non-existent, I am fairly observant and I noted that while the engine was screaming, the air conditioner would quit working. As soon as the screaming stopped, the AC would resume. I noted this. I did nothing about this. But I DID note it.
One day the check engine light came on, as those suckers tend to do and I stopped by one of those auto parts stores.
I assure you that I did this only because I cannot get the car inspected with a check engine light on. Because, as was pointed out early, "if it's moving forward, and grass is still coming out the side, it's fine. Keep goin."
The woman who was diagnosing the check engine light told me that light was caused by my oxygen sensor. While she was there, she listened to the screeching and proclaimed that my air conditioning compressor was going out. That sounded expensive.
Part Two of procrastination is COST. I'm poor. All my money goes to the feed store, so anything that looks like it will cost money (except for the health of my animals!) is definitely a lower priority. And besides, after screeching for a few minutes, it would quit and the air conditioner would come back on. Remember our mantra: "If it's moving forward . . . "
This was all well and good until last August. With a final objective scream, the air conditioner died - in August - in Texas. I had *@!* - - myself. (cannot be completed in a family-friendly program.)
So, I drove without air conditioning. Too many other things were going on. I was selling a farm. I was moving. I was buying a farm. And I was poor. So every day, I drove that sucker to work, arriving at the office, sweaty and smelling like a homeless person. This went on until cold weather arrived. (Cold is such a relative term in Texas. For those of you in Canada, substitute the word "balmy.")
I was definitely going to fix the air conditioner during the winter. But the money I had saved up went other places. (As money tends to do. It's slippery stuff!) So Summer arrived and the air conditioner still hadn't been fixed. The tires had been replaced. The oil and air filter had been changed! But I was facing another Summer of sweating because air compressors cost money. I hadn't even bothered to check how much. After all, the very word "compre$$or has dollar signs in it, so why bother?
That was until something happened.
Last week Other Half drove the jeep to get it inspected. We have a jeep too. It doesn't have air conditioning either. The AC isn't broke though. It's just that it's an off-road jeep and those don't have AC. Needless to say, OH called me at work to complain that he was hot and sweaty and wanted sympathy. At this point I said,
"See what you're feeling now? That hot, sweaty, nasty feeling?"
He allowed as how it was a nasty feeling.
"Well that's how I ARRIVE at work every day, so I don't want to HEAR ABOUT IT!!!"
Put that way, he had a better understanding of how I felt without air conditioning. So he called a friend of his who is a whiz bang auto mechanic. His friend recommended a friend of his who used to work for Toyota for years. The man was now living his dream as a cop and doing auto repair on the side. (He probably could make better money staying in auto repair work.) Anyway, I called Peter.
I met Peter outside a restaurant while on my hot, sweaty ride to work last Friday. He came outside, wearing a policeman's uniform and slurping on a cold drink. He popped my hood, peeked inside, and said,
"Your air conditioner doesn't work because your belt is gone."
He took a slurp. "Your belt. See? There's supposed to be a belt there."
Alrighty then. This should have been a clue to Peter what he was dealing with.
So he picked up a belt on Saturday and I met him at his house Sunday morning. Peter looked at my little 4Runner the way I would look at an abused puppy. After a while, he stopped asking, "When was the last time you had XYZ done?"
I think he got tired of seeing me cock my head like the RCA puppy staring at the phonograph.
At one point, he reached into my engine with some long tool and popped out something.
"Look at this!" he exclaimed as he shook it in excitement.
"What is it?" I was only mildly curious.
"It's a SPARK PLUG!!!" He was aghast. "I've never, in all my years as a mechanic, EVER seen a sparkplug so worn, in a car that STILL RUNS!"
He was so horrified at my spark plug that he informed me he was keeping it to show other mechanics and as an advertisement for Toyota. Alrightie then.
So three hours later, Peter had fixed my AC, tuned up my engine, fixed my accelerator, and fixed my back brakes. Then he charged me $120. He had the same look in his eye as an animal rescue person. I think he was afraid to send me back home with the car. As I tooled out the driveway, he decided that our next project would be to replace the shocks, because,
"When was the last time you had the shocks replaced?"
"What? Those springy things?"
He bit his tongue.
I agreed to bring the car back to him when I had saved up enough money for shocks. And as I tooled down the road, chilling out with my frigid air conditioner, I was thankful for people like Peter - honest mechanics who believe there is more to an engine than "If it's moving forward, and grass is still coming out the side, it's fine."
I wonder what Peter would think of my lawnmower.
Saturday, June 09 2012
Oscar is a baby Boer/Spanish goat. I like him because he's also a natural muley - no horns. I hope he's fertile and throws that gene.
I'm not a big fan of buck goats, but I am a fan of milk goats. No buck = no baby. No baby = no milk. No milk= no goat milk soap. You see where I'm going here.
My girls are Nubians, and although I prefer to breed to a Nubian buck, this is Boer goat country. Because I cannot keep the babies, they must be sold and around here, if it looks anything like a Boer goat, it sells for more money.
I like the Boer/Spanish cross because the Boer gives me a meat goat and the Spanish gives me hardiness. I started with this cross and found it to be quite trouble-free.
Last March I borrowed a buck from a friend of mine. Unfortunately, Bronco Billy had a bad habit of not staying home. Since I didn't want him teaching my other goats and my sheep how to escape, I sent him back home after only two weeks. I don't know if my girls were bred and settled or not.
I could just do a simple blood test, but we have already established the fact that I am lazy, thus, I chose to just wait and see. If they're pregnant, they'll have babies in a few months, if not . . .
By the time they come into heat again, Oscar should be settled and old enough to take care of business.
Other Half acquired Oscar yesterday when he and Lily went to help a friend gather goats and send them to market.
His friend gave him pick of baby bucks and OH came home with Oscar. The poor little guy was not well received by our girls. They can be quite snotty. Oscar wants to be with the goats, but the sheep treat him better. I don't feel too sorry for him because the rest of the baby goats ended up at the butcher. Oscar got a name and a home. And Other Half's lemon tree . . .
Oscar should be less worried about the dairy goats and more worried about Other Half finding him with this tree!
Wednesday, June 06 2012
I am a lazy cook. I live by the motto -
"If it takes longer to make it than it does to eat it, it isn't worth it."
That said, I've just discovered a new way to cook! Solar!
I know! In a typical Texas summer, it gets hot enough to turn your seatbelt buckle into a branding iron. I started tossing around the idea of solar cooking for the ranch in North Texas. Because we haven't built a house yet, we're still living out of a travel trailer. Let me say it again,
It gets HOT in Texas!
If you're living in a travel trailer, you don't want to do ANYTHING to heat that sucker up. You can cook outside over a campfire. That's easy to do. There's lots of mesquite wood just layin' around! BUT . . . hot summers often come with a drought up there. Drought means no camp fires because we don't want to start forest fires.
So I started looking at the Global Sun Oven and was impressed enough to try one. All the research is good. They even use it on Mount Everest. Great for camping and home use. This is a real winner in Third World countries where finding cooking fuel is a problem.
Check it out: http://youtu.be/VvATI3yuVak
Dear Friend and her husband have one and swear by it. So I took a chance and ordered one. Got that puppy set up this morning and tried something simple. Rice.
I set it up on top of the pickup truck because a certain large gray member of the family "might" just play with the solar oven if he can reach it.
Yes, he would!
The oven is light - only 21 pounds. It's easy to set up. Just unfold the panels, open the plexi-glass lid, put your food inside, close and lock the lid, and wait for the sun to cook your vittles!
This was sinfully easy! Just put your stuff in there and leave it alone. Not only does it not heat up the kitchen, but you don't have to worry about anything burning! This is MY kind of cooking. It's like a crock pot but you never have to worry about burning the house down. Uses no electricity. It reaches temps of 350-450 degrees. Not bad. You can also bake with it.
Woo hoo! Well on my way to Green Cooking!
Note: The hardest part about cooking in the solar oven is climbing in the back of the pickup truck! People who don't have horses, sheep, and goats in the yard won't have that problem.
Tuesday, June 05 2012
I just finished Jill Conner Browne's latest Sweet Potato Queen book, "Fat Is The New 30 - The Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Coping With (the crappy parts of) Life" and as always, JCB does not disappoint. Get it. Read it. You'll love her.
Her parting words were so profound that I wanted to share them with you:
"What if, when you woke up in the morning,
ALL you had LEFT was what you had
thanked God for the night before?"
Wow. Something to ponder.
Tuesday, June 05 2012
I am sorry to report that due to the warm, sunny, humid weather we've been experiencing lately, our current lawn crew simply couldn't keep up with the grass in the yard.
Hey! Don't laugh! They are cheap and energy efficient. Unfortunately since we cut back in numbers, and the weather is favorable for grass growth, yesterday I found myself in the most annoying situation of having to mow the yard with a PUSH MOWER!
How the hell did THAT happen?
Now mowing with a push mower is an activity guaranteed to push one to obscenities, (especially if one's ownself is given to frequent trips down that path anyway!)
It starts with well, starting the damned thing. That requires a fair amount of pulling. This wasn't easy when I was 12 years old. My shoulders are now 48 years old. But while my shoulders may have deteriorated, my command of the Sailor's English Language has improved. Just ask the dogs watchin' me pull that danged cord yesterday.
Suffice it say, after much pulling and cussing, the engine poofed to life and off we went - me and the lawnmower. It is a self-propelled beast. At least it is until I wear the little knobby thingees off the front wheels because I never let go of the stupid handle. I often fail to notice this until the front wheels have dug little ruts in the earth.
So I cruise along, me and the mower, plowing through high grass that chokes out most mowers. (Mine would be one of those mowers too. . .) Thus, in order to make any progress, I must lift the mower, set it down, let it chew, lift the mower, move forward, let it chew, repeat. This is an agonizingly slow process, and is hard on the back and shoulders. This is also a recipe for the invention of new vocabulary words.
And that's when one starts to think about new mowers. Yes!
Yes, we did!
The start-up cost is pretty hefty, but the maintenance is low. AND it's energy efficient. Not only does it use no gasoline, it uses no power from me whatsoever.
Well, except opening the gate . . .
for the three-horse power lawnmower!
Very little is required from the user except for some monitoring to make sure they leave the water well and the trucks alone. One can simply sit in a lawnchair with a glass of lemonade and mow the yard.
It's hard work, but somebody has to do it.
Sunday, June 03 2012
My Other Half works night shift most of the time, except one weekend a month when he works day shift, or unless someone is gone, then he works dayshift, or unless there is a big something-or-other going on, then he works dayshift. He is supposed to get two days off, unless someone is gone, or there is a big something-or-other, then he gets one or no days off. Having worked this shift for almost 33 years, he prefers the night, and like most vampires, doesn't really get going until the sun goes down.
I am a day shift creature. I'm up with the animals and turn into a pumpkin shortly after midnight. While Other Half can function for long periods of time with little or no sleep, I'm a bitchy bear if I don't get my required 8 hours.
He will work for days on just 3 hours of sleep and then collapse to sleep 24 hours at a time. That can NOT be good for the metabolism or anything else.
Which brings us to last night. After he came home from the cattle sale yesterday, he crawled in bed and slept, and slept, and slept. He did not rise until 8 PM. When I came home from work and went to bed, he was just getting geared up. Other Half was bouncing around like a cocaine-addict. (Imagine Robert Downey Jr. in Sherlock Holmes.) Fortunately he has two willing partners in his midnight madness - Trace & Dillon.
During the night I was vaguely aware of bumping from the living room, but ignored it. With Lily and Ranger sprawled out across the bed, not much concerned me. (Monsters can't come past Ranger.)
When Other Half finally came to bed at 5 AM, I rolled over, opened one eye, and asked, "WHAT have you been DOING all night?"
To which he happily replied, "We've been having a SLUMBER PARTY!"
Oh dear. Let me describe for you the canine frat house that greeted me when I finally got up this morning:
I opened the bedroom door to find a trail of dog toys from the hallway to the living room. The dogs' wicker toy basket was pulled away from the wall, and EVERY toy they own was spread out on the floor - kongs, balls, knotted gym socks, nylabone thingees, sticks, frisbees, and what was left of their Angry Bird toy. The entire house reeked of popcorn - because what else do you serve at a slumber party?
I can assure you that they spent all night watching something like this:
Hatfields & McCoys
Trace and Dillon are still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning, but other Half is in a popcorn-induced coma.
His patrol dog is snuggled in beside him and his Border collie lies beside the bed. They spent the night outside and so are more than ready to sleep all day under the fan.
The good thing about having 8 dogs is that no matter what you want to do, when you want to do it, you will find a canine partner more than willing to accompany you.
Saturday, June 02 2012
Saturday officially starts at midnight on Friday. Go to bed shortly after midnight. Sometime around 1 AM, Other Half phones to say he has completed doing charges at the jail and is now doing report. Reminds me that we are sorting calves and taking them to the sale barn as soon as he gets home. Joy, joy, thrill, thrill.
Am awakened at 6 AM by Other Half who bounces into the bedroom like a squirrel on crack and kisses Dillon (but not me!) How does the DOG rate a morning kiss and I just receive a "Get up! It's time to work cows!"
"Mom, don't hate me because I'm beautiful."
I inform Dillon that he is a Bird Dog, not a Cow Dog and thus will not be attending today's adventure. His feelings are hurt. The D-Man is a sensitive soul.
Pull on jeans and boots. Shuffle into kitchen. The sun is barely up and it's foggy. While Other Half goes to barn to feed livestock, I rake and sweep shavings out of cattle trailer which also doubles as a dog kennel. Don't laugh! It makes the perfect kennel - covered & confined. What more do you need?
Put dogs in kennels. Let Lily come along but assure her that she isn't needed since we are working cow/calf pairs in tight quarters. Dangerous for little Ninja Dogs. Tell her to sit in the truck. She is disappointed but does as she's told.
"B-b-but what if you need me?"
Assure Ranger that if a cow dog is needed, he will be the Head-Man-In-Charge. Since he is fast, tough, and already believes the world is trying to kill him, an enraged momma cow is less likely to stomp him in the ground.
"Piss on Bad Cows!"
Cows and calves have been locked all night in roping arena. They are hungry (they are always hungry) and happy to see us.
Note steer with horns on the right.
That's Willie. Remember Willie? Scrawny roping steer that has managed to avoid a trip to the sale barn for the last year and a half. Despite the fact that we've taken at least 3 other groups of cows, Willie has managed to slide/slither/squeak through attempts to get him in the sale barn group.
Truth be told, Other Half wasn't even trying. He is fond of Willie and hates to see him go. I'm not a big fan of horns. I am even less a fan of horns that eat and do no work. Son and I outvoted Other Half, and Willie was slated for this journey to the sale barn.
With very little trouble, (Okay, there was 'some' trouble and we almost called in a dog)
. . . we got the calves (and Willie) sorted and loaded onto the trailer by 8 AM. I lobbied hard to sell Paisley too, but Other Half pointed out that she had managed to raise (i.e. not kill by neglect. Read: When It Rains, It Pours) her calf and should thus be given another chance. By 8:25 AM we were off to the sale barn.
Willie in the chute at the sale barn.
Dear Friend Helen who takes care of the stock when we go to the ranch in North Texas was sorry to see us sell the calves and Willie. She had gotten attached to them. She texted me to tell me that she thought she was now Buddhist and wanted to make pets of my cows. I reminded her that she eats Taco Bell and Whataburger. Other Half told her that she would see Willie again in her next taco. She was not amused. He is mean like that sometimes.
I reminded her, and myself, that as long as we eat beef and wear leather, we must raise cattle. These cows have been humanely raised and enjoyed a happy life.
With the cattle dropped off, we headed back home. Other Half went to bed, and I got ready to go to my 'other job,' the one with a paycheck from a government agency and not a sale barn.
And that's the anatomy of a Saturday!
Friday, June 01 2012
Guess what I found this weekend on the way to the ranch?
Fields and fields of sunflowers!
If I had been driving,
I would have run off the road when I saw them! Look at this! Like the drums of Jumanji, they called me!
Apparently Texas farmers have decided that sunflowers are a nice cash crop and are now taking advantage of it. They are hardy, drought-tolerant, and weeds and bugs are not much of a problem. Deer like the little plants but not the big ones. Hogs ignore them altogether.
Judging by the number of fields, they are profitable too. After seeing all this, even Other Half was beginning to toy with the idea of growing them. That's not really an option, since I don't see him plowing up all the cow pastures to raise flowers, but it's a nice thought, and perhaps we could devote a small pasture to it, just for grins . . . and photographs!