Thursday, December 19, 2013

Hard of Hearing

Yes, I'm a writer. Yes, I wrote 50,278 words during National Novel Writing Month (November). Yes, I have posted my NaNoWriMo Winner Badge! Yes, I plan to tell you more about my experience with NaNo on my Piece o' Cake blog ... soon, but not today.

No, I have not forgotten about my blogs. No, I have not posted to them since October. No, I am not going to give you a wonderful list of excuses.

I started this blog on July 6, 2006, with a story about Weldon's mom. Seven-and-a-half years later, she still impresses and amazes me and makes me laugh.
This is Edith a year ago. I didn't have my camera today, but she still looks the same.
Last night Pat informed us that she would have some other obligations to attend to in the morning, so she wouldn't be able to help with chores. The phone rang this morning just before seven o'clock. It was Mom Edith. "Take your cell phone when you go out to chores and call me when you're ready to feed the calves. I'll come down to help."

Eighty-seven years old and always willing to help in any way she can. Impressive! Well, I certainly wasn't going to turn down her kind offer, so I slipped my phone into my coat pocket. After feeding and watering all the kitty cats and doing a few other little tasks, I called Edith. She came down, we chatted a bit while we waited for Weldon to finish what he was doing, and then we all trudged to the calf shed.
Yeah, and these are last year's calves, too. I didn't have my camera, remember?
With each of us holding two bottles, the six young 'uns were fed in no time. Weldon attempted to feed the youngest calf, born just the night before, but she wasn't very interested. Back to the milk barn we went.

Weldon started getting the milking system ready, I started washing bottles and buckets, and Edith filled two small buckets with water to carry back to the older calves. As she headed to the door, Weldon said, "Leave those, Mother. I'm going back to the calves in just a minute and I will carry them out."

Edith continued to the door and, as she walked out with a bucket in each hand, said, "I don't listen very well."

Hahaha. She cracks me up.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Strange, but True

Do you see what has happened here? I retired from cows, and now I'm not musing (nor complaining) so much about life on the farm.

However, today I have a strange story to tell you and then a few lovely photos ... to take your mind off the story.

This morning, after Pat and I fed the kitties and calves, Weldon announced that a bull calf had been born. He picked it up with the Bobcat and moved it into a pen with Maegan, the most-recently born little female. Weldon and Pat continued with morning chores and I went back to the house to get ready for church.

When we got home from church, Weldon headed out to feed the new baby calf and get the small silo ready for the last of the corn that is still standing in the fields. He had been out for about half an hour when I heard the door open. "Cindy?" he called. "Come here, please."

This is his story: "I went out to feed the calf. He took the bottle greedily, chugging down the milk. He had finished about half the bottle, made a couple raucous bleats ... b-aa-aa-aa, b-aa-aa-aa ... fell over, gasped, and died."

WHAT??? He told me the same story again, adding, "In 61 years on the farm, I've never seen such a thing. I'm going to bury him now."

Weldon's only guess was that the calf's esophagus was deformed, perhaps going to its lungs instead of its stomach. Ah, life on the farm. What can I say?

There is also beauty here. Good thing, or I'd be a crazy lady, right? No comments from the peanut gallery! Enjoy.
P.S. In November I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I will not be attempting a novel, but I will be writing the book that I began so eagerly almost two years ago. 50,000 words in 30 days. Yes! I will do it! Pray for me :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Kits and Mrs. Mewer

If you follow this blog, you've met Mrs. Mewer before.
On July 4th or 5th, we knew she had had her babies, but we didn't know where or how many. Pat just happened to see Mrs. Mewer sometime later in the hay shed behind the barn stall area. She was also pretty certain there were SIX babies in there.

I had started making regular trips to the hay shed, sitting quietly on a pallet or softly speaking in kitty-talk. Sometimes Mrs. Mewer was there, sometimes not; but I never saw the kittens ... until five days ago. Mrs. Mewer had them out in the open and, when she heard me coming, she came towards me, but the kittens scampered for safety amongst the hay bales. However, before they got that far, my camera was able to verify that there were, indeed, six of them.

 * * * * 
This afternoon, as I finished "washing" the car, I heard Pat down at the barn calling for me. It took a little while, but I finally figured out she was telling me that Mrs. Mewer was moving her babies.

I dashed into the house, grabbed my camera, and ran down to the barn. Pat told me that these two had followed Mrs. Mewer from the hay bales to the back door of the old milk barn. They seemed uncertain as to what to do or where to go, so Pat had picked them up and put them in a cardboard box.
In the meantime, Mrs. Mewer went back to the hay bales, this time asking just one to follow her back to the barn. Unfortunately, when he got there, something spooked him and he scurried under the freezer.
Pat and I waited patiently, and, sure enough, Mrs. Mewer headed for the hay shed. This time it was two babies who followed her.
It was amazing to watch and wonder how she communicated with her babies, sometimes having two follow her, sometimes just one.

Mom had one more baby to bring to their new home. I think she was wanting to move more quickly this time, knowing that rain was on the way. No time for monkey business.
The one kitten was still under the freezer, so when Weldon went down to do chores, he moved the freezer and I was able to use a broom to get him moving in the right direction. Weldon then scooped him up and I put him in the box with the others.

Not that they wanted to stay put. Most of them insisted on climbing out and Mrs. Mewer just ignored them. I think she was plumb worn out from nursing six little ones for over a month.
* * * *
Weldon just came in from chores and said that Pat put out some soft food for the kittens and they chowed down. Yup, they were hungry! These cats are so smart. Mrs. Mewer knew she didn't have enough milk for them anymore, and she also knew where she could get some food for them.

Simply amazing!

Monday, July 29, 2013

~*~ Farm Work ~*~

Work on a dairy farm includes much more than milking cows and planting corn. For quite some time, there has been an area just outside the calf shed that always stays wet. Two weeks ago, Weldon decided it was time to dig through the mud to see if a broken water pipe was the culprit.

It was mighty hot that week, so the first step was to erect some sort of shade. He laid two irrigation pipes from the top of the calf shed to the top of the big yellow dump truck. Those pipes could then hold up pieces of tin roofing. Ingenious!
It took a lot of digging, but he found the broken pipe and then had to figure out how best to repair it.
In the middle of his planning, the clouds started rolling in for their typical afternoon rain. Weldon quickly got the pieces of tin down so that the wind wouldn't blow them to who-knows-where and damage who-knows-what in the process.
In the next day or two, he did a good job of replacing the broken pipe and covering up the hole.

Since I am retired from the cows, my farm work now consists mostly of cats. They keep me (and Pat) plenty busy. A few of them have had a problem with their ears getting all dry and crusty. A neighbor told me about a product that he says cures any and all cat or dog problems. Hmmm. Worth a try.

I went to the LTD store and the gentleman showed me the product. He agreed that it was like a magic potion, and when he was growing up his mother put it on all of his "owies." He also warned me: Be careful with this stuff. It doesn't wash off, it wears off.

The first time I used it, I thought I was being very careful. I held the cat by the scruff of its neck and then dabbed the stuff on the offending areas. What I realized, too late, was that the cat would immediately shake his head and the lovely blue stuff would fly everywhere. And I was right there in the middle of that "everywhere." But I had to finish what I had started. By the time I was done, my fingers were blue, and my ankles and shoes and pants were speckled blue, as well.

After a few weeks, I told myself that the cats' ears and miscellaneous lesions were looking better. Hence, it was time to give them a second dose. This time I was prepared. I wore gloves and long pants.
The first cat was very accommodating and, as I gently dabbed his ears, I reminded myself: remember the head shake. Well, I remembered ... but I wasn't fast enough. I could feel it splatting my face and neck. But, the show must go on.
 My ankles didn't get splattered this time. Next time, perhaps I'll wear long sleeves.
When I got to the house, I went to wash up (and take pictures). I thought, "Why don't I try my new facial towelettes?" So, I did. And they took all the blue stains away. It took some scrubbing, but I think I got them all. I'm definitely saying yes to cucumbers.
Then it was time to make some baked oatmeal, get breakfast on the table, wash dishes, go to Edith's to snap green beans, come home to freeze green beans, go to Aldi's and Sam's Club, put groceries away, get supper on the table, wash dishes, go feed kitties, wash a few kitty eyes, try to see Mrs. Mewer's SIX babies (no luck), and come home to write a blog.

I love my life :)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Morning Drama

This is LaPli ...  

Here is the box (in Weldon's shop) where she had her babies ...
These are her FIVE babies ...

The little ones are just over a week old and two have already died. In my humble opinion, five babies are simply too many for a first-time mama.

Yesterday, Pat discovered that LaPli had moved her babies. She watched as LaPli went to the box in the shop and then came back out with a questioning look on her face, as if to say, "Now, what did I do with those babies?" Pat kept asking her, "Where are your babies?" LaPli looked right and left, scratched her head, and finally jumped up into the lumber pile in front of the calf shed.

I went to the hay barn this morning to bring some yogurt to the younger kittens, and Pat filled me in on LaPli's relocation. We moseyed over to the lumber pile to see how the little family was faring. We found Mama and one baby! Every now and then, we thought we could hear some crying, but, look as we might, from every possible angle, we couldn't find the other two.

(I did not have my camera during the actual events of this morning; the photos below were taken after I had sufficiently composed myself and realized I wanted to share this story on Farm Muse. That explains why you won't see any kitties in the photos below.)

This is the lumber pile ...

There is just enough room between and around each length of lumber for a little one to fall to a board below or, perhaps, all the way to the ground. The larger opening, about a third of the way down from the top of the stack, is where we found LaPli and the one kitten.

Two pieces of tin were leaned against the lumber, as well as the six "tractor weights" which can be seen in the foreground. We moved all of that so we could get close enough to feel around inside the stack of lumber. Sure enough, Pat found the second baby lodged uncomfortably behind Mama. Pat got the babies out and then gently "encouraged" LaPli to come out, too. She then put them in a cage in the hay barn.

But, wait! There's definitely another little squall coming from somewhere. Pat went to get a flashlight and then shined it between the lengths of lumber. Sure enough, there it was! If you look at the photo above and count down from that wider, middle opening, the baby was stuck between the 3rd and 4th board and the corresponding board that lies next to it on the inside, if that makes any sense. I stuck my arm down as far as my elbow would let me reach and could feel the kitten tightly wedged between the lengths of lumber.

I hunted for something to slide between the boards to hopefully push the baby loose, but everything I found was too wide or too sharp or "poke-y." I ran to the house, found a booklet that was a quarter-of-an-inch wide and wrapped it in a thin towel. I hurried back and pushed it in there and jabbed around. Well, that baby certainly had a strong cry, but I could not budge her.

My arm went back in through that wider opening. I grabbed its tail and pulled. Nope. That will never do. It was lying on its side, so I could feel its head, its right front and back leg, and its tail. I tried pushing and pulling. Nope.

I was getting desperate. Suddenly, I had its entire back end in my hand - both rear legs and its tail. I wiggled and jiggled, got a firmer grip, and pushed and pulled. Nothing. Finally, I thought, "Well, if I leave her here, she's dead; if I maim her trying to get her out, she's dead." With that, and a constant stream of prayer, I gently resolved to pull until she was free. And ... she was free! She let out a healthy cry and wriggled ferociously, and I snuggled her to my nose and sobbed.

Pat and I delivered the newly rescued baby to LaPli and her/his siblings. As of this writing, the little family is doing well, in their cage ....

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Follow Your Heart

A few weeks before my 62nd birthday, Weldon and I were in the milk barn (shocking, I know!) and we started tossing around words like sabbatical, R & R, leave of absence. Weldon said, "Vacation!" and I countered with "Retirement!" I then went on to say that perhaps I would retire on my birthday. Weldon grunted.

We tiptoed around the subject in the following days, neither of us saying anything very definite, neither of us being bold in our "yea" or "nay" thoughts. I don't know about Weldon, but I was certainly giving it some serious consideration. I went so far as to reassure him that I would only be retiring from COWS - not from cooking, cleaning, laundry, kitties, my part-time job, or any of the other things that life throws my way. Weldon humphed.

Sunday, May 12 (my birthday), I was finishing my morning Bible reading when Weldon called, "I'm heading out to chores." I responded with my usual, "I'll be there shortly." And, I was! We hadn't been milking very long when he said, "What are you doing down here? I thought you were going to retire." I explained that I didn't see how I could retire right now, knowing that the busiest time of the year was almost upon us.

Ten days later, after finishing morning chores, I announced that I just couldn't "do this" anymore. Weldon said he knew it was coming because I was humming, "Take This Job and Shove It." Not true, but he has gotten many a laugh with that line.

I have helped with the milking a few times since my retirement took effect, and when it's time for planting and harvesting, I'll try to be a good and cheerful farm assist once again.

Despite what Weldon says, I have not become a lady of leisure!
I thought I'd be feeling really guilty, but sometimes you just have to go with your heart (or your gut?) knowing it's the right decision. I am at peace. I am retired from cows! 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

And Then There Were Three

Ginger is my wild cat. Her mother kept her hidden for such a long time after she was born that she never learned to love and trust me. I've fed her twice a day for almost two years now, but have only touched her three or four times. When I see her walking through the back yard, I always open the kitchen window and talk to her. "Hi, Ginger. I see you. You be safe out there." She stops and looks up at me, but continues on her stealthy way.

When I went out to feed the cats last night, I saw Ginger sitting on the side lawn and decided to take her bowl to the little shed where she often stays. I was almost there when I noticed a little yellow kitten sitting not far from her. I thought it was one of Swirly's four little ones, but they had never come onto the yard before. I called out, "Baby! What are you doing over here?" And the kitty took off like a flash and ducked into the shed.

Oh my! Ginger has a baby, and I hadn't even realized she was pregnant. I returned to the house and a little later looked out a side window. Sure enough, that little kitty was sitting just outside the shed. I grabbed my camera and sneaked out onto the porch and got a picture. Do you see him/her on the right side of that pile of bricks?
I had to hurry on down to the milk barn to tell Pat and Weldon. They were as surprised as I was. Big smiles all around :)

This morning, before heading to the barn, Weldon was at his computer and I happened to look out the window. There sat Ginger in front of the shed. I could see the baby, but there was another kitty climbing in the camellia bush! Unbelievable! We looked and laughed and I thought, "Well, if things continue in this fashion, there will be three babies by this evening."

Weldon went on to the barn, I got the cat food ready, fed the cats at the tractor shed, and then brought some to the little shed. I talked a bit, wanting the babies to get used to my voice, but only Ginger came out to eat. I went back to the house and decided to grab my camera and see if I could get a little closer than the night before. I stopped midway to the shed and got a pic of Ginger watching her two little ones eat.

I was looking at the LCD screen of my camera as Ginger stepped down to join her babies at the feed bowl. But, wait! Some other movement caught my attention. I looked over the camera, and what to my wondering eyes should appear? but ... another kitten!
Unbelievable! He/she appears to be the smallest, and she didn't try to get at the food. She went straight for mom and enjoyed some warm milk.
I couldn't stop smiling. After saying a few quiet words to the little family, I hurried on to the barn to tell Pat and Weldon the exciting news. Unbelievable!

It was raining tonight when I took out the cat food, but I saw Ginger and talked just a bit. No, I don't expect to see any more kittens in that little shed. Three is quite enough! 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Spring Babies

You'd think I'd write more about cows, right? Wrong! Let's talk about sweet, frisky, adorable KITTENS!!!

Last month, I (kind of) introduced you to Mama Swirly's babies. On March 30, after morning chores, I stopped by the mowing machine and called for baby kitties. Surprisingly, three poked their heads out, and I actually got to hold one. That evening, before chores, Swirly had all four of them out, exploring the ups and downs of the mower and the surrounding leaves and weeds. Oh, they make me laugh!

On Easter Day, I gave them names. The male is Paas (as in the Easter egg dye, pronounced Paws), the "pink" one is Babette, and the two orange tabbies are Elsie and Lisa (Leesa or Liza ... whatever comes out of my mouth first). You can watch some of their silly antics on this video I made.
Here is granddaughter Haylee holding Elsie or Lisa - we couldn't yet tell them apart. It's still not easy, but Elsie is the larger of the two. Maybe there will be more distinguishing marks as they get older.
Today, these kitties are wide open. They still "live" near the mower, but they cross the barn yard to climb into the hay barn and they'll play with anyone and anything that moves. The only way I could get all four of them in one picture was to give them some food. So I'm not a photographer ... but I have fun giving it my best shot.

In mid-March, Daisy May had 3 babies in the back of the hay barn. Just six or eight inches from a straight drop to the concrete floor below, we knew we would have to move them before they started walking about. It took a few tries, but Pat and I finally got the babies settled in a location that suited both Daisy May and us.

Weldon named them Larry, Moe, and Curly. Yes, three males! Here they are, just over one month old. Moe is eating beside mom, Larry (the smallest) is just behind mom's tail, and Curly (the long hair) is back there playing with a piece of tin roofing. Not much of a picture, but they didn't have any intention of standing around looking pretty.

Marmalade had babies shortly after Daisy May had hers, perhaps under the hay barn, we thought. Just a few days ago, I was standing on the ground, talking to Pat in the hay barn, when I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye. And what to my wondering eyes should appear? KITTIES!! Under the hay barn.

It's no easy feat to concentrate on little ones when there are lots of other cats looking for your attention. Did you hear my "ouch"es on the video? Older cats were vying for my attention, trying to climb up my legs. In this instance, I was crouched down on the ground, looking under the hay barn, and the cats started crawling all over me.

Baby Lucky climbed right up the wall. Do you see him there, under the floor? I named him Lucky because he's lucky to have three sisters - who don't have names yet. Gustave and Rosemary wanted to see him, and Seth stood on my back to get a better view.

In the picture below, it seems Gustave and Rosemary wanted my undivided attention, so they both came in for head butts :)
Marmalade with her babies
the babies
That about wraps up the kitty-kat news from the farm. We do know that Slappy had babies on the 16th of April, but we don't know where they are. Rita had babies in the hay barn, probably on the 17th, but they're in a corner behind/under piles of "stuff", so we won't see them until they're able to waddle out on their own little legs. Gretchen is ready to "pop" any day now.

Need a kitty to love and to hold? They'll wiggle into your heart in no time flat. Let me know.

While I was feeding the cats and kittens before chores tonight, Weldon got hold of Marmalade's babies and put them up on the hay barn floor. They walked around and sniffed & sniffed and even whined a bit. Weldon said, "I think they're hungry." So, I grabbed each of them, put their noses in the food, and, let me tell you, they went at it! I guess Marmalade doesn't have enough milk for the four of them. Poor dears. Glad we found out now, before they started to lose weight. Ahhhh, life is never boring on the dairy farm.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Found: Babies!

Early last year, Mama Swirly had four kittens; in July, she had five kittens. Last month, Swirly was ready to have her next batch of babies. Seeing her coming or going, we had to laugh. I was placing bets that she'd have six babies this time.

For her two previous deliveries, Mama Swirly had her kittens in the junk pile across the road from our house. This time she decided to have them under this old mowing machine across from the hay barn. Don't ask me why.

A week ago, I stuck my camera under there and Swirly just about attacked me. Fortunately, she put on her brakes when she realized it was me. I snapped pics all around, but the result was only leaves and more leaves.

One other cat had kittens under that mower a few years back. They survived, so I decided not to worry too much about Swirly and her babies. Weldon assured me they would stay dry, even though we'd had some pretty good rains.

Yesterday I decided to stick my camera under there again to see what could be found. Click. Click. Click. This angle. That angle. Click. Click. Click. I looked at the viewer on the back and didn't hold out much hope. Leaves! So many leaves!!

When I got home, I downloaded the pics. Delete, delete, and, wait! Could it be? Zoom in. Yes! There's a kitty! Can you see it?

Delete, delete, delete, and, what's that? Zoom in. There! Three kitties! No! FOUR. There's the backside of one between the two in front.

So, we know there are at least four babies under there. The final count will have to wait till Mom drags them out by the scruff of their necks or they wobble out on their own little legs. Time to think of some new names!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sweet Family!

Weldon's sister Beth bought some "homemade" sausage the other day and wanted to know if she should get some for us. Weldon said he would have to taste it first, but he's pretty stuck on Jimmy Dean.

This morning as we were finishing chores, Pat's phone rang. It was her mom wanting to know if we had decided about the sausage. Weldon again stated that he wouldn't buy any without tasting it first. Pat then relayed the message that Mom was frying some up for us to sample. Weldon asked, "Well, is she going to serve some hash browns with that?" Pat laughed and said, "No, but I could scramble some eggs for you."

"No, no. I'm just joking!"

We started the cleanup and Pat headed home to see if the sausage was ready. It seemed to me that she was gone pretty long, so I said to Weldon, "I bet she went home and told Mom that you wanted hash browns and now she's busy frying up some potatoes! And there'll be scrambled eggs to boot."

Weldon laughed. "You think so? Maybe there'll be some fruit on the side, too."

I added, "And maybe some sugar cake! You watch: Pat will come down with a tray full of goodies, complete with a vase holding a rose. That's just the way your family is. I know them pretty well by now." Weldon laughed.

A minute later, Pat came back to the barn. "Well, Mommy's fixing breakfast for you if you want to come up. We'll have the sausage and eggs, Mommy is making pancakes, and I have some hash brown "muffins" in the freezer that I can warm up in a few minutes. Do you want to come up?"

Silly question.

Seriously, this is one sweet family.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Our Little Farm Girl

Not all of our grandchildren are crazy about the farm. For some of them it's too noisy or smelly or dirty, and for some of them it's kind of scary because it's different from what they're used to. The hay barn feels pretty safe, though, because there are kitties! And kitties are cute and fuzzy and fun!!

Aniston & Ayden
(Note: The pictures above are a few years old, and I don't even have a photo of little Ryland at the barn yet. Her day will come!)

Marshall, being "all boy" and almost 14 years old, loves his time at the farm. Machines and animals are right up his alley.

Aniston is our surprising little farm girl (4-1/2 years old). Yes, she's a girly girl, wearing cutesy clothes and hair ribbons, and wanting to pet the little kitties. But the bigger animals don't scare her, and neither do the machines. She'll ride with Grandpa on the noisy tractor and go with him to the poopy pond to see the "dirty, stinky scum." Last night she decided she wanted to help milk the cows!

First order of business: Aniston saw Weldon wearing his apron and wanted to know where hers was. I told her that I don't wear an apron and she didn't need one because it's Grandpa who washes the cows and he's the one who gets wet. But, that will never do. Grandpa got the extra apron and fixed it up "just so" for Aniston.
When Weldon got the cow ready, he had her try milking the old-fashioned way: by hand.
 Then she graduated to the milking machine.
And, finally, Aniston wanted to milk a cow with me! So, of course, we did!

I'm thinking Aniston should grow up real fast and take over the farm. She could do it!!