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Monday, December 26, 2011

This Morning's Adventure

The past week or so there has been a heifer up the road who was nearing her calving time. Yesterday she'd been off by herself, but nothing happened all day. Then this morning when I went to feed them I went in to check on her.

She was lying down, with the hooves and the nose of a calf sticking out of her rear. I took one look at the calf and thought; "It's all over for that one." Its tongue was hanging out of its mouth and it just didn't look good. I whacked on the cow but she didn't move; just laid there with her chin in the mud.

I was going to head back to get hubby, but then I saw something.

The calf's chin twitched. I thought I was seeing things. I chucked it a bit and sure enough, it moved again.

I whacked on the cow again, but still she would not move. I thought maybe I could herd her to the corral, but no dice.

So I ran back to the 4-wheeler, got hubby's nice new rope, put it around one of the calf's ankles, dug in my heels and started hauling away.

Nothing happened.

I took a fresh grip and leaned back into it.

The calf moved a fraction of a millimeter.

The cow looked around.

I kept pulling for all I was worth, and hollered at the cow. The calf moved a tiny bit more.

The cow decided things weren't so bleak and started to shove too!


The cow gave a big groan, and shoved even more.

We had more movement. I hollered at the cow again.

She shoved some more and...

Finally the whole head of the calf popped out!

We paused a moment and then pulled and shoved respectively until the chest came out.

By this time we had an audience of about 10 other heifers in a half-circle behind us.

I hauled again and out slipped a nice heifer calf, steaming in the 30 some degree morning air. I heard the calf take a wheezing breath, so I whacked on her a bit, and turned her upright. It was just a second or two before she had her head up and was looking around.

I looked behind me and the rest of the heifers were there, along with the belligerent bull. So I made sure the cow knew the calf was there and skedaddled. I was worried about the cow not being able to get up, but she did later.


Hubby went up there after awhile to bring them in and the cow had just taken off and left the calf, so hubby brought it in and cleaned it up and now I am thawing colostrum for it. Other than that she's doing OK.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Confessions of a Christmas Tree Grinch

My husband has all but accused me of being the above when it comes to Christmas trees. Here, in my own words, is my story:

One of my favorite Christmas pastimes as a kid was going to get the tree. Depending on weather conditions and time we would either get one from the National Forest Service land a mile or two from our place, or we’d pack up and go for a long drive into the mountains.

We lived in the Pacific Northwest, on the rugged North Coast of Humboldt County. Dad would pack up the old Ford truck, a couple of us kids would pile in and off we would go, further inland, higher up into the wild. Up, up we would go until we’d break through the coastal fog layer into the sun, the fog a roiling gray sea below. And still up we would go. Eventually we’d get to Willow Creek, a town whose fame has something to do with the Bigfoot legend. I remember every year we’d see the town’s life-sized wooden statue of the furry creature, and we’d speculate on the possibility of seeing him for real that particular year. In Willow Creek there’d be a quick stop at the Forest Service office to purchase a permit to cut trees and wood, then on we would go, switching back and forth across the mountains, watching the ravines yawn deeper below us as we went.

We would drive off onto logging roads until we found a likely-looking spot. Out we would clamber and begin looking for trees. Often times others had been there before and we would find various trees already cut and abandoned. Sometimes we’d take a couple of those along with our own special tree. We’d “plant” those extras out in the front yard and decorate them as well.

I remember as a child the magic of being up in the mountains, above the world it seemed. Sometimes it was super cold, with a dusting of snow. We would walk around and Dad would show us the scratches of a bear on a tree, the hollow in the weeds where a deer had slept, often still warm from its body. The silence there was awe-inspiring, broken only by a coyote’s yip or a distant chainsaw’s rip. We would eat a bit of lunch and then head back down home.

Now that my father has been gone for many years, those memories seem so fragile and remind me how fleeting life is, and of the elusive magic of childhood.

In my early 20s I left Humboldt and forged a life in a city far north; Portland, Oregon. In the city there were no magical drives to the mountains to get a tree; one just paid an unromantic price at the nearest store and voila; a Christmas tree, either real or fake. No mythical monsters or elusive wildlife; how plebian. In the 12 years I lived there, not once did I have a Christmas tree of my own. I enjoyed them vicariously through family and friends and that was good. But somehow in that time the magic of Christmas trees wore off. My mom, I believe, sent me a few ornaments, and I would put them up, but not on a tree.

Now I have been married for 7 years, and though I am back in the country, I am in hardwood country, not coniferous country. There’s a large difference; no tall mountains…etc. I can’t recall whether my husband and I had a tree my first Christmas here or not. I was so stressed trying to deal with the newness of life in Missouri and the pain of being so far from family that I don’t really think I cared one way or the other. The other years, saving the one when I was seven months pregnant and hubby actually DID go along to cut down a Charlie Brown tree for us, I have had to venture out myself and hack down an invasive cedar with the very dull blade hubby directed me to use.

Two years ago I went and got a tree with the 4-wheeler. Year before that I just hacked the top out of a tree from across the road. Then; last year I had the idea that I would begin giving my 3 year old daughter Christmas memories.

I loaded the ’99 Ford up, bundled Ellen in a warm coat, heaved her protesting little highness into the truck and went all of ¾ mile up the road to the dry cow pen. We bumped across the pasture along the fencerow until a fine specimen of a cedar struck my eye.

Ellen refused to get out of the truck. So during the half hour while I attempted to avoid a cow pie or two, hacked ineffectively with my dull saw, crawled back and forth under a barbed-wire fence, and fought to the blood with the thorn bush that was also claiming the cedar, Ellen hollered out the truck window at the top of her lungs; “I AM COLD! I WANT TO GO BACK TO THE HOUSE! MOM, LET’S GO HOME! I AM COLD!”

When we got back, finally, hubby was there to help with the tree. He used the saw to try to level the end off. After two scrapes across it he says; “I can’t cut anything with this dull thing, let me go get a better saw!” I got a bit grinchy at this point.. This is the saw he’d sent me out to get a tree with for the past 5 years! Hrmph! I let him know.

This year things were different. Ellen was excited to go get a tree, she got out of the truck and gave lots of helpful advice whilst I was avoiding cow pies and crawling back and forth under the barbed-wire fence...etc. I had a sharp saw, too. (Thank you, hubby.) So the invasive cedar fell much faster. Ellen helped put the decorations on; the ones we both love: the half-peeled banana, the PB&J sandwich, the candy canes, the ice-cream sundae, the kitty angels, the snowmen bells. And even the ancient ones my mom had; the little stuffed cloth elves that came on dish detergent bottles back in the 50s or 60s. Ellen was enchanted with all of them. I love to watch her joy.

However….in my book; once Christmas dinner is over, Christmas is over. The magic is gone and the mess is left. So for the past 6 years, while hubby is out doing chores and milking cows, I take down the tree. He has accused me of shoving the dinner guests out the door with the tree, but I am not THAT grinchy. I wait ‘til they are in their own driveway at least. Ha ha.

This year I even took a nap before I started dismantling the tree, so it was about 5 PM when the invasive cedar hit the yard. I am improving. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Here's hoping...

For those of you who aren't connected on Facebook. Here is the picture I WAS going to use as one of those photo Christmas cards to send out.

Just imagine it with the caption underneath; "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

Off and on all summer Ellen would drag this snowman kit out and try it on for size. She'd ask; "When is it going to snow?" "Argh," I'd say. "Don't rush things."

We did get a dusting of snow last week, but it was too dry and powdery to make any kind of snowman, even a teeny one.