Monday, December 27, 2010


A new baby was found this morning. While Shelly and Jolene moved all the momma's to the nursery in the barn this little guy got a few warm moments in the house.

We've got around 50 ewes expected to lamb sometime in the next 30 days. UGH! They typically lamb in the early mornings. I'm not a morning person. I am lazy and LOVE sleeping until 730. I love having the kid home on holiday break even more. Since Jolene usually gets up and lets out dogs I can stretch my lazy morning time and make it last until 8ish. Then the girls usually chore at Phoenix Ranch so I can mill about the house in my robe, have several cups of hot chocolate, chit chat with my goats, discuss the meaning of life with Pepsi Cat and get some important Facebook time in. Well, all this is not to be for now. Now I must walk down to the barn check for new lambs, dip umbilical cords, de-worm ewes, make sure teats are working correctly and eye woolly sheep ends for signs of impending babies. I'm not that excited about it.

The cats were overjoyed with the new lamb in the house. Ichabod Cat it seems had never seen anything like it before and spent several minutes smelling, licking and generally checking out the ovine. Pepsi Cat ignored it, only after it had made it's return to the barn did he take the opportunity to have a little roll in the "new lamb smell" left on the blanket. Peep Kitty followed Pepsi Cat's lead and rolled, rolled, spazzed out and dug under the blanket. After she was done she ran over and to me, peeped in my face as to say thanks! All it seems is back to normal in the house, the barn on the other hand will soon be a buzz. UGH!

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Generally when I milk the bovine I play music. I think both Jersey Cow and I like it. Jersey really seems to like the Meredith Brooks song, "B****". Maybe she relates. I forgot my music today. I spent most of the morning yelling at Taco Dog and Dillweed Hound to stay with the group. It's no mystery why I forget things. In the middle of squeezing my first set of teats I burst out in song. I started singing, "On Top of Old Smokey" (All Covered in Cheese...I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed...It rolled off the table and on to the floor...and then my poor meatball rolled on out the door...It rolled in the garden and under a bush...and then my poor meatball was nothing but mush.) My singing didn't send Jersey into a tizz but my crying and sobbing after I had finished my solo did. She pulled her head out of the catch and turned around and looked at me.
I was just hit by the overwhelming feeling of sadness. I miss my Pop! I don't think it's the holidays although after visiting with Aunt Shiela, Aunt Gayle and Uncle Darold this last Saturday, Jolene commented all the way through dinner and all the way home on how much she missed him too. Jolene still can't wrap her head around how large Pop's immediate family is. When we left Aunt Shiela's she asked how we were related to her. I said, "Aunt Shiela, Aunt Gayle and Uncle Darold are Poppy's sisters and brother. "Oh!" she said. She then asked how many turkeys my grandma had to make at Christmas time. And then.....I was asked, "How come Poppy's family didn't have one of those shows on TV like everyone else with a big family does?"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Whew...Too Pooped to Gobble.

We processed the Christmas turkeys yesterday. We only had 14 but it took us three hours! We had a bit of a Murphy's day. The weather started out cold but with no wind so Shelly convinced us to set up outside as it was actually colder in the barn than out. So we did. First the plucker wouldn't work, electrical problem! Then we put out the flame on the scalder and Shelly left the lighter in her friend's Jeep. Then the wind came up and it got colder...BRRR! We finally got the last one bagged and went to the house to make dinner which was anything but Turkey.

Here's to Organic, Homegrown, Turkey!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


This morning was very chilly, very frosty. We let animals out and let them back in. The Nigerian goats didn't even want to come out of the condo for food. Eventually most of the tribe came rambling down the ramp to a waiting pile of hay. Miss Jasmine, stood at the top of the ramp and looked wider than ever. She turned and went back inside and many of her tribe members went with her. As Shelly and I were standing, watching out the window a loud scream like bleat came over the baby monitor. I wagered with Shelly that she was in labor. Shelly looked out the window again and saw the other goats staring at the back of the condo. Another screaming bleat come over the monitor. Shelly headed out and soon whistled at me to hurry up as she saw feet. A couple of hours later we have two itty bitty bucklings. Momma and babies are doing well.

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Additions.

Jasmine has yet to bless us with bouncy babies. It's getting difficult but after much discussion with the little princess, it was decided that we human would just have to wait until she was ready. UGH...I hate waiting.

In an effort to distract myself from Jasmine's baby bump, I went to Divide and came home with a couple new Turkeys. I brought them home and tucked them in with the commercial whites (butcher turkeys) and watched them gobble around and establish their "pecking order." I've named them George and Hazel. George is a Bronze Breasted and Hazel a Blue Slate. They have grown up together and seem committed, as committed as a turkey can be, I suppose. My hopes are high that we will have little poults running amok this summer. If not there is always Hoover Hatchery's commercial whites.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Developments

Shelly decided it was my turn to let dogs out this morning. Part of the job is tramping through the goat pen and opening the door of their condo. When the door comes open, they bound down the ramp in search of FOOD. Their whole life really is food. Each day, Aurora and Flower stop at the top of the ramp, give me kisses complain about the boys and then gallop down to the hay pile. This morning it was the same. As I was kissing Aurora I notice Jasmine's hind end.
There are some new developments in the udder area. I've been watching Cindy (Cinderella) for impending signs of babydom, I hadn't really been paying attention to anyone else. It is possible for several of the other girls to be pregnant.Prince Charming escaped his enclosure several times and each time he got right to business. He's so frustrated now. The girls are not in sight anymore, as he is living around the barn with Clyde. There are a few girls across the aisle but he can't see them and they among the taller variety. Everyone can smell him though.

I haven't bred many of the girls this year. I allowed Charming to date Wynonna a couple of times, in hopes of getting a mini-Nubian. Chloe and Bonnie (new Nubians) are most likely pregnant too. It's gonna be a light year for goats. That's okay, because it will not be a light year for lambs and my Jersey cows are pregnant too. I've only got so many heat lamps.

As I was giving some motherly advice to Jasmine, Fonzi came over to tell me how much he LOVES bananas and animal crackers and if possible when I went to town today could I get more of each. How can you refuse a face like that? Nothing bit off The Fonz's ears, he's inherited his Grandma Lido's auditory devices. She's a La Mancha. And then...Brother John walked by. Good thing he doesn't have an udder. He's just fat. Looks like he swallowed a basketball. He and the Fonz are good buddies until cookies or treats show up, then it's every wether for himself.
As I was leaving the goat yard, Big Dog Bertha stuck her nose over the fence and sweetly asked if she could play with JUST ONE GOAT.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tanning a Hide. What was I thinking?

For several steers now, Shelly and I have chatted about keeping the hides and tanning them here at the ranch. After many late nights of internet surfing I decided that my brain was adequately prepared for the task. We started with a black hide from one of our butcher steers. The packing house placed salt on the green side after it was harvested from the carcass of the animal.

When I got it home I opened it up and laid it in the shower stall of the barn. It was sprinkled with more salt and left alone for two days. I nailed 4x4s in a square shape, this is used as a rack to stretch the hide. The salt was rinsed off and the hide placed in the middle of the rack. I made holes in the edge of the hide to string twine through. I should have used rope instead of twine. The twine held fine, but had I been using my gray matter I would have realized that something that was a bit stronger would have come in handy later when 'working' the hide. Instead I will have to take it off the rack to work it.

After stringing it on the rack, we placed it against the wall of the shower stall and began the tedious work of scraping off any left over membrane.

Jolene helped a lot in the scraping process. I would have never thought of spending my Friday afternoon scraping meat off of a hide when I was her age. I am thankful that she is eager to do so many things. I'm pretty sure that some of these 'homesteading' skills won't help in attracting a prom date. I don't worry too much anyway, she has the Aunts that will fill and help with that.

After the scraping process was completed we washed the hair side with good ole 'Mane and Tail' shampoo and left it over night.

We then worked a mixture of hot water and eggs into the hide. I thought about getting some pig brains to do a brain tan but Jolene crinkled her nose at me. We decided to use what we had on the ranch and the hens have been more than accommodating with the eggs lately. As soon as I'm done with milking today we will work in another dozen or so eggs.

So far it seems to be going well. We've a couple more steps to complete, which includes the time consuming and physical abilities of working the hide. Some of my friends have told me that I am nuts, of course I knew this already. If all goes well the next one will be a buffalo. Wish me luck!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Barefoot and Pregnant?

I know I promised a blog with pictures of Taco Dog's adventures in the goat pen. Alas I've been swamped with other things, primarily being a parent and making the "best decision" even though it makes me cry. Jolene had to skip her last volleyball game and instead come home and study, but that's another blog. Anyway...This last Saturday, Rod came by and felt up the girls. I'm very excited.

To begin, Jolene and I had to rearrange panels and do all the regular ranch chores. The fun came later. As I was pulling T posts and scooting Jenny Cow (technically still a heifer but you get the point) out of my way, Jolene was filling water troughs and feeding the critters in the barn. I yelled at her to get me a bag of range cake/cow cookies. She had been driving the ATV from pasture to pasture with the hose and back to the barn for about an hour. Instead of dumping the fifty pound bag of range cake on the ATV and bringing it to me, she decided to throw it over her shoulder and haul it 'old school' as she says, over to the cow pasture. It didn't go as I would have planned but I'm sure dropping it in the driveway and putting a hole in the paper bag was in Jolene's plan.
She did it on purpose, I'm sure. She wanted to make sure that I left my duties to assist her with the bag. After rescuing the range cake from certain scattering, I released Jolene to return to her piddling. I got my catch pen and squeeze chute placed just as I wanted and went to seek out Jolene. She was kissing Taco Goat, (clearly not Taco Dog, a whole other species) and feeding peppermints to the donkeys, Tansy and Ellie. I told her I was ready and she said that she had completed her chores as well. We jaunted down to the chicken coops and collected eggs. As we were returning to the barn, Rod pulled up with his magic tank of frozen straws.He glanced at the girls and opened his magic tank. We pushed, pulled, and finally bribed Jersey Cow into the chute. Bing, Bang, Boom it was done. Jersey squeezed her wide girth out the front of the chute and we yanked Jenny Cow in. Jenny was nervous, asked all kinds of questions, requested a reprieve (which I denied), and asked about government provided parenting classes. I told her not to worry and relax. Soon enough Jenny's date was complete too.

We gave both girls a few cookies and chit chatted with Rod for a few minutes. Rod sealed up his magic tank and he was off again. Jolene and I rushed to the house to get a shower before heading to the Creek. Jersey was left standing it the pasture with a look of dissatisfaction. How now brown cow, don't you worry with any luck next August you will have a new bouncy bundle of joy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Oh Saturday, the time we have!

So the weekend started out like any other. We failed to set the alarm for Saturday morning. Since there was no possibility of a blaring annoyance in the morning, the Universe must have posted a memo to the dogs, stating that it was okay to sleep in. We woke up at 727am. We were scheduled to leave for Ordway at 730am. The Bean had a volleyball game. I wanted a shower but Shelly felt the need to consume all of the hot water in 7.2 minutes. We managed to get out of the house at 8am, and actually arrived on time.

Bean and I had originally planned to check out a firearm exhibit at a museum in Canon City. Since Shelly is not he museum type we opted for a pumpkin patch and corn maze. Shelly acted more like the 11 year old than Bean did. Fun was had by all, pumpkins picked out and maze conquered, we headed out of town after our usual cherry dipped ice cream cone from Dairy Queen.

On the way back to the ranch we stopped to watch a herd of cattle being pushed back to their pasture behind the fence. They had been free range grazing for most of the summer along the county road. Along the side of a hill were two little boys with their terrier watching what I only assume were their parents on horseback pushing the cattle. The whole scene made me nostalgic. I'm not sure of what or why, but I just had the feeling.

When we arrived back at the ranch, after a change of clothes and a bathroom break we all headed down to the barn. Jersey and Jenny were scheduled for a 5cc shot of Lutalyse. Both girls will be having a happy, happy moment with a straw of swimmers from a beautiful bull named Jamal on the 23rd of this month. I'm very excited. Since our squeeze chute is at Phoenix Ranch, we just walk the girls up between two panels. Since there isn't a 'back' to the two panels someone has to stand at the hind end and keep the bovine from backing out. I'm not sure why I generally get that job, but I do. It's not discussed, it just happens. Shelly stands outside the panels with the syringe I get behind the behind of the cow. We start with Jenny, the heifer, she walks up between the panels without too much trouble. I pull the panels in and squeeze her a bit, she resists a bit and tries to back out. I push her forward again and grab the bars on the panels to hold her in place. Shelly jabs her with her finger a couple of times in the rump and then sticks her with the needle. As I watcher her inject the hormone, I feel a warmth oozing down my abdomen. Then I smell the warmth. My oh so cute, little heifer let loose and pooed all over my University of Kansas sweat shirt. As soon as the injection is completed I open the panel and let Jenny out. I look down at my sweatshirt and see the splotch of stinky feces oozing down my body. My clothes are stuck to my body. In an attempt to rectify the sticky situation I put my hand in the pocket of jacket only to discover that the poo has filled it and is now covering my fingers and under my nails. The smell is overwhelming. I don't do well with poo, of any sort. Shelly and Bean are laughing uncontrollably. Shelly helps me shuck the jacket and we push Jersey up between the panels. Jersey is usually predictable, as she was today. She separated her back legs, lifts her tail and lets it go. I wait until she's finished and push her up in the panels. Shelly gives her the injection and we let her out. Both girls laugh at me again. I grab my sweatshirt and head to the barn. I strip down in the wash rack. I hose off my boots and put them back on. I'm now standing in the wash stall with my bra and undies, sporting my classy cowboy boots. Bean helps me rinse out my sweatshirt. She sticks the hose in the pocket and makes noises as the poo flows out of the other side. We finish with my clothes and flop them on the side of bed of the truck. I climb in, still wearing very little and we head to the house. Bean drives to the end of our drive and instructs me that I will have to walk to the cabin as she and Shelly are going to feed the chickens. That's the last time I let the 11 year old drive. She was mistaken thinking I was going to walk up the drive in my undies.

After completing evening chores, letting dogs in, letting dogs out and letting dogs in again, and feeding the outside cats we settle in to a relaxing evening. Shelly and Bean decide that a little play on the Wii is in order and retire to my bedroom with my computer as I have clinical notes to catch up on. After about an hour of which I completed zero notes and winning 3 dollars of "real money" playing online poker I venture back out into the living room to check the progress of the video gaming. I see the tail of what I think is a cat outside eating the cat food. I approach the patio door to see which cat it is and find an itty bitty skunk chomping on the cat's food. I inform the girls and everyone gets up to see the unusual site on the porch. We watch for minute and then the skunk starts to wander off. Everyone resumes their places on the couch and I see another skunk, only bigger than the first. The larger one finishes off the cat food, sniffs around the wood box and then ventures off the porch into the darkness.
I guess in the end it was a pretty normal Saturday.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Long, when it should have been very short.

Last evening the pager toned information about a possible structure fire in our district. Since Shelly was busy working in Cripple Creek for the emergency service there, I was left to cover our district. Since the Bean was home and was planning an eventful, slumber party like evening, I had planned to just call our ambulance out of service. Instead Bean got very excited and asked if we could go. I explained that we might be sitting the ambulance for a long time with nothing to do. She claimed that she understood. So instead of eating junk food while snuggled with critters on the couch and watching some movie that we know every line to, we rushed to the rig and headed out.
Turns out it wasn't a structure fire but a small wildland fire. After two hours of playing "911 Paramedic" (and killing every patient) on the computer, discovering that the port-a-potties at the Four Mile Church are locked, asking what every button in the ambulance is for, and begging to test my blood glucose level the kiddo had finally had it and pleaded to go home. Since the scene of the fire was only about two miles from the ranch and the awesome Four Mile Crew was pretty much done, I gave into the 5th grader's whining and we came home.

After letting dogs out, letting dogs in, picking out a movie, and arguing about teeth brushing we settled in. We opted for a movie that was playing on television. After one of the commercial breaks Bean said, "Mom, I don't understand that." I asked what she was talking about and she referred to the "What Happens in Vegas" ad that had just aired.She asked if Vegas was like Cripple Creek. I explained that both places allowed gambling but Las Vegas is much bigger than Cripple Creek. I tried to explain the slogan from the commercial but failed miserably. Instead of saying, "Oh okay I get it now." She said, "So, if everything stays in Vegas, if you win money you have to leave it there?" What? She went on, "Why would anyone even want to go? Dad goes to Vegas a lot, he won't leave money anywhere." Hmmmm, just where did I go wrong? I tried again, this time explaining decisions made after drinking copious amounts of alcohol and secret bonds of friendships made during spontaneous and sometimes questionable situations. She asked if I had ever been in any of those situations. I told her that I hadn't been to Vegas in a long time but that I had did have some of those "secret bonds." She wanted to know all the details.
So for example, what is discussed over a cherry dip cone and a half stick of gum is sacred. I still eat cherry dip cones outside the presence of a certain friend but it's just not the same. It made an appearance (with planning and effort) the day I married the boy, it was present during deep conversations and afternoons filled with laughter. It can mean lots of things but most importantly it means, "I'm here for you no matter what happens."
And a half stick of gum...well I still trying to figure that one out. Who really only chews a half a stick of gum?
Then I explained that sometimes certain situations can cement friendships. Like when you miss the left turn at Chicago and end up eating cheese curds in a Culvers Restaurant in Wisconsin and then turning around to take pictures of round barns, or going out of the way to buy a quart of cream from a raw dairy.
Then I used the raggedy old John Deere shirt as another example. I told her that I still have it because it reminds me of an evening that I spent with the Aunts and only they know how I ended up with it.
I tried to use several other examples. In the end I talked a lot but didn't really say anything that Bean found of value. She finally rolled her eyes and said, "Okay Mom, I get it. You could have just said whatever stupid thing you do in Vegas, your mom won't find out about." My daughter is not going to Vegas until I'm in a home with senility.

Sometimes I can really over explain things.