Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I Almost Did It Again!

So, I almost did it again.  I almost slacked off another month without posting.  Ya know, life on the ole ranch is just so boring.  I'm such a liar.

I scheduled this season's first Chicken Pluckin' Party for the 11th.  I conned Friend Avril into taking part and begged and pleaded with Friend Gerri to show up.  Gerri has full knowledge of the days events and the worst part is she knows exactly how Shelly and I bicker when it comes to harvesting the birds.  She still shows up.  What an extraordinary person she is.  The only thing I have to report about the pluckin' is that it was a complete nightmare.  We initially set up at the old barn near the coops.  The day before it was sunny and warm with just the right amount of breeze.  The morning of the harvest it was gray, overcast and wet.  So we frantically moved to the big barn where we would be inside out of the weather.  The Boss Lady was working dogs out front and asked that we block the blood from her one and only attendee to herding that day.  The only other person that was working dogs that day showed up with 5 ducks for us to process.  I don't do ducks.  I don't do ducks because I LOVE ducks.  I was called Duck in my youth, starting in grade school and it ended up sticking through much of college.  I'm not sure why it started.  It's not a stretch to go from Dawn to Dawnold and then add the duck to it.  I also swam a lot, so maybe it was a combination of things.  At any rate, I've always loved ducks.  I'm not a fan of birds.  The flapping feathers really freak me out.  I like to watch ducks fly only because I think they look really uncomfortable in the air and then of course smooth and awesome on the water.  My first tattoo is of a duck.  The tattoo itself sucks, it's blurry (I got in the water just hours after getting it) but I know what it is and refuse to have it fixed or tattooed over. 

I've field dressed a duck but never processed one like we would process our chickens.  The ducks were the least of our problems though.  I had arranged to have a family from Colorado Springs bring their 16 Cornish Rock birds down for us to process.  The family showed up with nice big wonderful birds, right on time.  We zipped through the 16 with no problem.  The family paid us $5 per head for our trouble and zipped back to the city.  About 2.7 minutes after they left the plucker decided it was time for a break.  We had belt problems, finger problems, just a lot of problems.  I only manged to get 30 of my birds done that day before we called it quits.  We decided to replace the belt and a few other things and try it again in a few days.  We still had five ducks running around that hated each other.  Shelly stalled the ducks in two groups in hopes of suppressing the violence.  As I was leaving the barn the nice lady that brought the ducks instructed me to order her 10 or 15 more!  I miss out on so much communication sometimes.  Apparently the Boss Lady told her that I'd be happy to get more ducks for her.  The dogs use the ducks to practice herding and now since she was going to eat these five she would need more, naturally.  I just nodded and smiled.

 Avril sucked it up and came over again on the 15th when we tried to again to finish the pluckin'.  We did about 30 more chickens and quit again.  This time I need to replace the fingers and get a smaller belt.  I really don't know what went wrong as I tend to stay away from the scalding water and the plucker and concentrate on getting the innards-->Out!  The remaining birds from the first batch are living with the birds from the second batch.  If they don't keel over from being too big for their hearts and lungs and are still able to stand when we harvest the second go round, they will meet their maker then.  Nightmare I tell you!

Other happenings around the ranch included the birth of Chloe's babies.  Chloe came to us from a friend in Guffey who couldn't keep her contained.  She jumps fences. She doesn't go under them or break them, she just jumps right over.  For the most part she's a really good goat.  Most days when we'd do chores she'd jump the fence and tag along.  She'd follow the truck around the ranch getting a mouthful of whatever we might have.  If she didn't like who she was pastured with she'd just jump out and find another pasture.  She's been in with the sheep, the donkeys, the llamas and cows too.  About 2 months ago I stuck her in the barn with the goats that are in milk.  The Boss Lady was out working dogs and Chloe was in the way so I stuck her in a stall.  When I went to let her out later in the afternoon I noticed that her udder had gotten larger so I made the assumption that she was pregnant.  She continued to jumps fences but not at the same frequency.  One day she jumped into the run with the milking does and stayed.  Her udder continued to get larger.  One morning I checked on her on my way to work and she was displaying the stereo typical signs of a goat in labor.  I called Shelly once I arrived at work.  Whenever a goat kids and Shelly is home alone, it's almost certain that those babies will end up in the house being bottle fed.  Shelly decided she was a little freaked out and called Friend Avril (who we seem to be sticking into every situation we can find), and she came and birthed those babies while Shelly did chores at the other ranch. 
 I've no idea who the daddy is but I'm leaning toward Ole as the little boy has wattles.  Avril did a fine job.  She and Geri have been such a bright light in our life lately.  We've been invited to dinner on multiple occasions and they aren't shy about sharing hugs.  Good things! 
Avril said she invites us to dinner so that she can watch Shelly wolf down a burger.  It is rather amusing.  I guess I'm over the thrill of it. 
The kiddo's school also held their Spring Program this last month.  Instead of having a little sing and dance the middle school displayed their talents via a "Who Done It" much like the game of Clue.  A scenario was presented and participants could get clues from the students.  In addition to giving clues the murder of the town's mayor, Monster the Cat the students also shared information about organs and organ systems.  This year in school they studied biology.  Jolene and her friend Molly displayed a calf heart.  Jolene picked the name Sara Bellum for her character's name which I thought was very clever.  In addition to the program the 8th grade students also presented their projects.  Each year the 8th graders must complete a project that they spend the entire school year working on.  It had many components including a student initiated project, a visual art, community service, a life skill and the student's biography.  Jolene was selected as a team member for her friend Kayla.   I thoroughly enjoyed all of the 8th graders presentations.  Jolene wanted to wear her usual attire of a shorts and a hoodie sweatshirt but I played the Mom Card and vetoed her wardrobe choice.  She was still able to go in style, according to her, with a TIE!  What am I doing?

Shelly also had a birthday this month.  We didn't do anything spectacular for it.  We did spend time with Avril and Geri drinking beer on their back porch and then jetted to dinner at the Bull Moose Restaurant and Bar in Guffey.  Shelly wolfed down a burger much to Avril's delight.  Shelly's not much of a drinker.  Obviously more than I am, a six pack of near beer will last me a good year.  I usually cook with it before I drink it.  At any rate, between happy hour on the back porch and dinner Shelly had consumed 7 beers.  Way over her normal rate of alcohol intake.  She was giggly and a little too touchy-feelly on the way home. Once we got home she promptly washed her face, brushed her teeth and passed out in bed.  Several hours later she was thanking the Goddess for indoor plumbing.  She was up several times through the night and even called Boss Lady the next morning and begged off dog chores.  Staying close to the toilet was all she did the next day.  I didn't mind.  She works hard and deserves a day off once in awhile.  I just wish it could have been a different kind of day off.  Not one where I had to do her chores but one where we could have wasted time together.  It all came back to haunt her though.  The next day I had to artificially inseminate a handful of cows including Brownie Cow.  Our Vet, Dr. Hill got a cushy job far away.  Before she left she had lined up Neighbor Brenda's cows, my cow and three others for AI-ing.  Since we'd all prepped our bovines and didn't want to waste the work already done I was elected to impregnate the beasts.  What luck I have!  So I spent the next two days with my left hand in a shoulder length glove and Shelly had to play assistant and keep the prepared straws of semen warm in her armpit.  It is really unfortunate that I did not get any pictures.  Twice Shelly was able to squirt semen extender in my face.

So that about warps up this month.  The chickens and I are really looking forward to the summer season.  I'm not sure why, things never seem to slow down. 

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