Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Adventures of a Mountain Milk Maid

The girls enjoying a bit of yummy in the snow!
The crazy trio!

The blasted snow started this morning. By the time I got to get the kiddo up for school my mood was most assuredly on the sour end of the spectrum. I love Colorado and I love the mountains but truly hate the snow. I know how to ski but don't care for it only because of the weather. When I was young, my father and some of his siblings would round up tubes and pickup trucks and thirty or so of my cousins. We would go tubing any Saturday there was snow on the upward slope of Marshall Pass. The best tubing and sledding hill known to mankind is on the side of that pass. I guess the snow and cold didn't bother me as much then. I wasn't tubing today either.

Ivory and Charming--Charming is always in the mood for love! Rain or shine.

My morning started by putting out half of the dogs after I had yanked the kid out of bed. Generally half is five, today it was six. Bear Dog who lives in the kennel across the yard was allowed to sleep in a crate in the house last night. He's a hundred and eleven years old, or something close to that. Generally he's very well behaved. This morning he rushed out to do his business and followed me around for a bit while I chatting with Dillweed Hound. As I was letting dogs back in the house, he was standing at the back of the line and I assumed he'd come back in with the rest. I was wrong. He stuck his nose in the door and turned and ran toward the kennel. I'm doing this at 6am. It's dark, it's snowing and I'm in a bathrobe and house shoes. I slip back inside and get my rubber muck boots on and head out after Bear Dog. By the time I catch up to him he's begging to be let in the kennel. Instead of trying to convince him that it's warmer in the house, I open the door and let him in. I have to trudge back to the house in the snow and cold, my boots are now filling up with snow and my robe has come untied more than once.

My buddy Noah.

The Bean and I had a meeting with her teacher about her performance this morning, which put her attitude into overdrive on the slow ride to school. After the meeting she complained because she didn't have any time to play ping pong. UGH! Upon my return to the cabin I was met with wonderful smell of wet dog as I entered. My Great Dane Isadora hates snow days. She loves the snow and wants to romp around in it until she is soaking wet and then wants to come inside and sprawl out on the human's couch. She doesn't much care for the dog couch. Today she was let in, let out, let in, let out, let in again. I pleaded with her to just go lay down and take a nap, I needed to get a few things done. She sulked away but I found her here on the human couch when passed through to put wood on the fire. Rotten dog!

Shelly took a couple of years off my life this morning too. She has been placing her work boots outside the front door each evening as they generally have some sort of poo all over them. Last night she pulled them inside so that she wouldn't be slopping around in wet boots. This morning she was reading herself for work and I was on the phone. All of a sudden she screamed bloody murder! "What is that?" she yelled at me, holding her boot toward my nose. I waved her off and after ending my conversation I inspected her boot. At some point a beautiful mama spider had laid a tidy clutch of eggs on the side of her shit kicker! I immediately looked for my camera but it was outside in the car. I grabbed my cell phone and shot this pic instead. I flicked it into a jar to get a closer look all the while Shelly is exhibiting seizure like behavior. She wouldn't put her boot on until I had put my hand down inside both of them. A spider probably would have been safer for me than having to put my hands INSIDE of her boot.

After I shuttled her off to chores. I set about to checking email and catching up on Facebook. After chitchatting with a few friends I decided the time was nigh to milk the bovine. I let the dogs out again, put my sweatshirt on and donned my rubber muck boots. Generally I just wear my chore boots and I probably should have today too. Rubber boots keep water out but aren't too warm. I got all my milking cheeze ready and took off to get the cow. Brownie Cow, ever faithful was waiting at the gate with icicles on her ears. I clicked her lead on and away we went. She went to the barn without problems. I cleaned up her udder, and went to work at milking. She danced around a bit but settled in nicely. I milked past my half gallon mark and decided that I'd just keep going until I hit a gallon before I strained and put it in the Ball Jars. As I neared my gallon mark I chatted with Brownie. As I walked out into the aisle way of the barn, I spooked a flock of birds that had taken refuge from the storm. As they were rushing out to the arena, one of the feathered freaks dropped a poo in my bucket of fresh milk! I cursed at the bird and poured my milk out. I washed the pail, and returned to the cow. As I'm nearing the gallon milk for the second time, Chloe Goat barged in the back door of the stall and spooked the cow. Brownie Cow first brought her foot up and over the pail and then down into it. The milk splashed out and onto her leg. Then for good measure she kicked the pail forward up under her front legs. I cursed again. I retrieved the pail and threw it into the aisle way. I yanked on Chloe's collar and rushed her out of the stall. I dipped and put "Udder Butter" on Brownie's teats and untied her. As Brownie Cow was backing out of the stall, Chloe Goat was worming her way back in. When I got the cow safely out, I flopped the lead over her neck and retrieved the caprine. As the goat and I exit the barn, I LOCK the stall. I turn to find Brownie and Chloe running for the open gate at the end of the run. Chloe exits the run and heads back to her pasture pals. Brownie on the other hand, she starts bucking and kicking and mooing in the storm. She heads toward the other cows. She turns back and gives me a look of, "This so fun." I run her down in my, 'two size too big' muck boots. When I finally get a hold of her my socks have scooted off my feet and are swimming in the toes of the boots. As we head off to her pasture, Brownie looks at me and then gives me the tongue! A big, ole, rough cow kiss up the side of my face, knocking my hat into the snow.

I eventually get back to the house, peel my boots off and put my socks back on. I put another log on the fire, think about what to prepare for dinner and throw a cookie to Fonzie Goat who has come to the door to beg. I let the dogs out, let the dogs in. Now I've only to complete the Bean's costume for the parade at school tomorrow! Good thing I don't put off things to the last minute!

Fonzie taking refuge in the dog house!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Look at the Pumpkins on that One!

Mr. Ruvo doing the dirty work for Richie

Mrs. Mac helping Aspen

Vince hauling out his squash

Jolene chomping.

Shelly and I accompanied Bean and her classmates to the pumpkin patch at Colon Orchards in Canon City CO last week. We learned about irrigating the apple orchard, corn field and pumpkin patch. We got a little taste of the importance of water to farmers in Colorado. The kids toured the apple orchard and learned that the apple trees are 30 and 35 years old. At least I learned these things. Shelly managed to cheat on the corn maze and we were in and out quickly. There was no spooking kids or arguing about her sense of direction.

Shelly, Bean and I will get to hit another pumpkin patch on Friday. I'd like to tell you that the kid is excited and the reason we have to go to another one but the truth is Shelly is just a kid at heart. At least most times, sometimes her cranky side surfaces too, or the part where she can't get through the day without chatting with everyone she sees, or the over reacting part, or...

Nice Pumpkins!

We also had some visitors to the ranch on Sunday morning. Pam and Judy jaunted on over for some cow milking experience. Really, who doesn't want to milk a brown cow once in their life?

Pam did a great job and was amazed by the amount of heat Brownie's udder and teats gave off. Brownie Cow has got some "hot boobs!" Her technique differed from mine a great deal but seemed to work splendidly. After milking out about a half gallon, Shelly diverted her attention from the cow and yammered on about the new alpacas and llamas. Good thing Shelly butted in, anymore milking and Pam might have ruined her knitting hands! Who knew?

After the cow was put away some friends dropped by for some hunting tips and Shelly's attention was diverted this time. Pam and Judy walked about the ranch with me, checking out chickens, turkeys, donkeys, and of course puppies. Regrettably I still have the puppies here. I wasn't able to pawn any off on the ladies.

Judy got stuck holding my camera most of the morning, so I have few pictures. She did have a chance to milk Brownie as well. When I showed her the Thanksgiving turkeys, I asked if she'd like to pick hers out but I think she declined. Darn turkeys are loud!

I think they had a good time but I doubt I'll see them back for the next Pluckin' Party! It was an enjoyable morning for me.

The afternoon proved to be much more difficult for me. We held a memorial service for my friend Mike Jamison at our Four Mile Fire Station. Mike was a volunteer firefighter and would occasionally drive my ambulance. Outside of Four Mile, Mike would milk my cow once a week. He said he did it to give me a break, but I know he did it for the milk. Mike would also help out at my Pluckin' Parties as the official neck slicer. He was always grinning, even covered in blood and a few stray feathers. His wife Meridel honored me with the task of officiating his memorial service. I blubbered through the entire thing. I miss Mike a lot and I hope where ever he is, he's enjoying some raw milk with a thick cap of cream.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Altered Perception

Today Shelly and I went tripping down the road to a friends' house for a little Oktoberfest celebration. We had a grand time. When were invited I fired up my computer and went searching for a snappy outfit to wear. I'm all about the snappy outfits. I found a couple of t-shirts that I thought would fit the bill. I purchased shirts for both us in the same size. I figured that Shelly would be thrilled with a new shirt no matter what it looked like. Turns out that wasn't the case. The following is a picture of the shirt from an ad. I'm rather hairy but thankfully don't have arms like that. Shelly declined to wear the shirt so I had to stuff myself into it. I did get some looks and double takes as well as comments. It would have been so much more fun if Shelly had the ovaries to take on the challenge.

Shelly was introduced to Bocce ball and turned out to be pretty good for a beginner. She did manage to tame her competitive side and remained in the game until the end. Had she not kept her competitive nature in check we might have had to leave via ambulance because her cranium had come in contact with the balls, repeatedly. Thankfully the combination of great food, beer, sunshine and friends kept her safe. As we were leaving the topic of pesky skunks came up, and then Shelly's opinion of how I portray her in the blog followed. Shelly doesn't read the blog(s) or any comments I make about her on Facebook. She only hears comments from others. I personally have not heard any negative comments only those poking fun at her. She seems to think I make her out to be the butt of joke. I have no idea how she would get that idea. I think I'm pretty true to the events that I retell. Still Shelly seems to think otherwise.

So all jokes and sarcasm aside, let me tell you about my Shelly. Shelly and I met six years ago in Colorado Springs. I told her I was looking for a beneficial friendship as I was in total "me" mode, a workaholic, and no interested in "dating." She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Okay."

It took her more than a month to sign the "contract." I appreciate that fact now. It only took her about a month more to screw up the nice little bundled, no stings agreement too. On November 5th, 2005, Shelly attended the EMS Conference in Keystone CO. She went out of a Saturday night, drank a few too many beers, came back to her hotel room and drunk dialed me. I spent two hours in the Safeway parking lot in Pueblo West CO, listening to her tell me how she was not cut out for a "beneficial friendship". Truth be told neither was I. So we now mark our anniversary date as the 5th of November, even though neither of us was in the same place that first year.

Shelly is completely outside the lines of my type of woman. She doesn't wear dresses or makeup, she can't cook unless it's ready to eat after 3 minutes in the microwave, she's an animal hoarder, and her idea of a happening Saturday night is watching the movie Bad Boys for the millionth time. (Hate that movie)

She loves Christmas and patiently endures my tirades about the over-commercialized, pseudo, religious holiday. Compared to my, she has a relatively small family. She's only a few cousins and hasn't seen them in years. I have many, many cousins. My father's side of the family is rather large and although I don't like to label them (because the only label that fits is AWESOME) they are somewhat conservative. I can't think of another gay person in my entire extended family. Shelly walked right into the gaggle of Norwegians that make up the Dagues with her head up, like she had always been a part of the clan. She's had to endure too many many funerals for my family including that of my father.

She has also meshed with my chosen family quite well. She's attended Sunday morning breakfasts at Mama Nell's house, made Christmas cookies, and eats Richie Family tacos with gusto.

She took me to Florida and Disney World and even though she went out of her way to avoid every roadside attraction that I had my heart set on, she did spend way too much money at Sea World on food for the sting rays. She took me fishing in the dark and didn't grumble much when I had to make a stop for ribs in Williamsburg, KS on the way home. Since we've too many ranch chores to tend to now she's had to resort to making everyday an adventure instead of taking vacations.

She enables my obsession with Halloween and helps add special touches to the kiddo's costumes. Without Shelly's help the Cavity Sam from the Operation Game would have been a total flop. She consumes her body weight in chocolate each year too.

She heats up my water bottle just right when I'm dealing with the ENDO Goddess and brings me tea. She not only allows me to dabble in offbeat projects but most times helps with them. She works extremely hard to provide our family with many wonderful things, mostly animals but many wonderful animals. She doesn't get too upset when I outplay her on the links. She tells everyone I'm smart and doesn't mind that I'm carrying around a bit too much happy fat. She's beautiful and only smiles when I make fun of her age or her gray hair. She samples my crazy recipes even though I may slip some onions or garlic in them.

So even though, when I met her six years ago I placed her outside the box of "my type" it turns out that she fits perfectly.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Long Time No Blog!

I really should pay more attention to real life and not fret so when I don't get the blog updated. I really don't worry much, it's the random person I see that comments about my lack of new posts. Since I haven't a clue as to who most of these people are, I think it best to update once in awhile lest they start showing up at the ranch wanting to know what's new. Much better to allow them to stalk me via blogspot. I flatter myself, I don't have stalkers.'s what's been happening.---

We harvested the last batch of summer broilers in early September. We processed 94 birds and chatted a lot. I always look forward to chicken pluckin' day. I get the same feeling when it comes to butchering chickens as I did when I received an invite some a classmate's birthday party in elementary school. Ridiculous I know. It's really a good day for me. I don't find it gross, I look forward to seeing my friend Gerri and Neighbor Brenda. I look forward to bickering with Shelly about where equipment should be placed and her lack of organization. Even though I have no desire to have a roast chicken the day of processing, I let chicken recipes pinball around my brain the whole time. I do realize that the chickens don't get the same thrill. I try to make their short life up to that point enjoyable and happy. I truly can not understand why people wrinkle their nose at me when I invite them over on chicken pluckin' day.

This last plucking party consisted of Gerri throwing a handful of intestinal tract at me for taking pictures of her, Bad Penny Puppy waiting patiently by the gut bucket for a misplacement of a head or something else yummy, and Brenda's scrumptious cinnamon rolls with a big ole glass of raw milk when it was all over.

This September also marked the fourth anniversary of both my grandmother's and my father's death. Gramma Dague left us on the 3rd of September in 2007 and my Pop just a few weeks later on September 19th. I miss them both more than I can every measure. It's odd what reminds me of them both.

During our annual garage sale at the fire station I glanced at an orange coffee cup and suddenly my grandmother was in my head. I remembered her shuffling about the kitchen early in the morning, writing letters to her family in South Dakota. I wonder if she were still around if she'd continue to write on stationary or be an email-aholic like I am. I think of her every time I see a heel of white bread. She use to put the heels in with the chocolate chip and raisin cookies that filled the large Tupperware containers at the bottom of the pantry cabinet. I remember being special to Gramma even though I was one of many, many grandchildren. I think everyone of my cousins feels exactly the same way.

And Pop...I miss him everyday. I think he would be really into my chicken pluckin' parties. I know he'd making a few trips to the ranch to milk the cows. I would get to hear all those, "When I was your age..." stories about his own childhood and milking chores. Whenever I'm feeling down or having a bad day something will happen to remind me that he's always around. Lately it's been through songs. I have been hearing a lot of Mac Davis singing, "Oh Lord it's Hard to be Humble" and Johnny Russell's, "Rednecks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer." Right now his cousins, his brother Lonnie and others are preparing for the annual pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota. I know that Pop can't wait to see them all. His ashes are circling in the wind out there.

We've had other momentous occasions on the ranch too. Both my Jersey cows ended up NOT pregnant, despite claims to the contrary by the vet. Oh well, I've borrowed a mini-Jersey bull to rectify the situation. Napoleon is visiting and wooing both Jersey Girl and Jenny. He's very sweet through the fence and I've overheard both girls commenting about his handsome face complete with nose ring. Nappy is so hip!

Brownie Cow finally calved in September too. Unfortunately we lost her heifer calf at 13 days old to a intestinal bacterial infection. Such is life on the ranch. Even though losing the calf is sad event, I'm still thankful that Brownie Cow has a full udder and is more than willing to stand while I milk her.

The Kiddo is busy as ever. She's accumulating rebuttals in an effort to evade any and all chores. Need a reason for anything? She's many to spare. Shelly and I attended the latest field trip with her awesome little school to a local wolf rescue. I learned a lot, not sure the kid did.
Jolene's teacher Mrs. S.

She seems so absent minded of late. I often kid around about the flux of hormones in our household. It really is no laughing matter. Shelly is swirling around the drain of her 'normal' hormonal cycling readying herself to enter the wonderment of menopause. Then of course there is Jolene. She's machete chopping herself to the doorway of puberty with gusto. I'm stuck in the middle, being the sane one with monthly gut aches from endometriosis. I wouldn't advise dropping by for a visit without staking out the hormone levels first.

I'll leave you with the following picture. It adequately represents what September was like for me....a BLUR. It's really a bad picture of Jolene playing with the two Great Danes, one Coonhound and the Virus Dog! Here's to an outstanding October.