Tuesday, March 22, 2011

MorNinGs WitH thE GirlS

I spend my mornings with the girls.  It is what I like to do.  Who doesn't enjoy being out and about in the early morning, wee dark hours mucking around.  It is who I am. 
It all starts when Mike flops into bed around 3 in the morning and says, "tag, your it!"  He then gives me a run down of how his night with the girls went.  It goes something like this, "There is a cow in the shed that her water's hanging out, one that just calved so make sure her calf is up, and 708 is acting like she might do something so keep an eye out for her, and watch out for the skunk."  After he groggily gives this slurred evaluation, he literally is out within seconds, and I am it. 
I head out the door, dressed in the proper attire for a morning with the girls.  It consists of a blue overall suit that is made for a male at least 6 feet tall, so of course it sags on me in all the right places.  A pair of muck boots that I am sure will be seen in the next couture fashion walk, a pair of bright blue gloves (at least they used to be that color, now they have "stuff" on them that has changed their appearance), and some kind of stocking hat that I have stole out of one of my boys box.  I feel good about myself looking so fine.
I then head over to the place where all the action takes place, The Calving Lot.  I grab my big mag lite flashlight and go to work.  First I get up on the fence and do a sweep of the light to see if anything stands out as being "nervous".  If nothing seems to be acting as if they are going to pass something out there back end and would like some privacy doing so, I insist on going in for a closer look.  This entails me shining the above said light at each cows dairy-air.  I look for things like springing, bloody show, tail twitching,  and then sometimes take a quick glance to see if their bags are tight.  Oh, and if I do have one that is about to spring into action, I get all kinds of excited.  I am a bit on the touched side, but I love it.
As the sun begins to come up, I get the job of kicking them out into the day lot, where they will be fed and can spread out a bit.  So, this means getting a bunch of extremely pregnant cows up from their warm resting spot and kicking them through the gate.  They let me know what they think of me as the all get up (very slowly) and turn the posteriors to me and unload what they have been holding in all night.  The smell of ammonia is permeating and the sound of that many cows peeing reminds me of a large waterfall.  But they don't stop there, but I will.  Let's just say that as I follow them out through the gate, I have to avoid warm, steaming mine fields. 
Why do I love it?  It is glamorous!  Well, alright, maybe not but there is nothing like seeing that new life hit the ground, the natural process (of a good cow) turning and immediately claiming her calf as she begins to lick it off.  Then just a short while later, to see that calf get up on all wobbly fours, and start rooting around it's mamma to find a food source.  It is creation at its best.  I even feel good about myself when I can save one from complications, like the sack over their nose and not breathing.  It is a miracle to get to see new life and I don't think I could ever tire of it. 
There are a few aspects I might not like, for example when I watch the cows chewing on their own after birth, but I guess they need floss too.  Or when a mean cow doesn't want you anywhere close and you feel them breathing down your backside as you try to drag their chilled down, dying calf into safety and warmth.  But, you take the bad with the good and you make the best of it.
That is why I love to spend my mornings with the girls.
The girls!

Friday, March 11, 2011

YoU WanT SomE TOO!

We have this problem in our house that has to do with the corrosion of snow pants.  Our kids wear them out by sliding on their backsides on any hill they see fit to give them a thrill.  So, Mike has remedied this problem with an inexpensive  (free) solution.  It also gives added entertainment for the onlooker.
Mike diapered them in none other than empty (of course) mineral bags.  They add surface speed, protect their snow pants from tearing, and make them walk funny.  Yep, we love ingenuity.  See, you want some too!  They are not one size fits all, depending on your size you might need to go for 50 lb dog food bags.

Friday, March 4, 2011

He InsPirEs mE

Almost 16 years ago, when I was an innocent 16 year old, I had a crush on this cute cowboy.  He was an "older" man, and by that I mean he was no longer in High School.  But he was so rugged and a gentleman all in the same.  It amazed me at the time that he would show any interest in me, a young, loud, somewhat obnoxious teenage girl.  But he did.  And now for the last 16 years, half of my life, I have loved him.  But what is more incredible, he has loved me back.

Happy Birthday to my ruggedly handsome husband!  Now, in his honor, I will share another ranch life story, starring him...

Calving season has begun, which is a time of year I love, if only it were in April and not February.  It is against nature to calve this early in the year, why do you think elk and deer do it in June.  They know what they are doing, yet man has changed nature and made it so we have to calve in the dead of winter.  See, I have issues.  Well, on a cold night (and by cold I mean below zero, because anymore, anything above zero is considered almost tropical) we had a cow decide to try and calve prematurely.  I decided it was prematurely, because she was not in our drop herd right next to the calving shed.  No, of course she was in the Ramada a 1/2 a mile away.  So, when Mike found her in a not so pleasant manner (warning: graphic... the calf's head was out and nothing else and it was dead) he knew she needed help.

Well, who better to employ than his trusty right hand girl, me.  "I am just going to rope her and trail her back to the calving shed so we can pull this calf, " he said confidently.  Well, that sounds easy enough, and for the most part it was.  Well, up until we got her in the shed.  You see, we have this chute and head catch, that in theory, is supposed to "catch" the cow and hold her in one place.  We also have this cow who has been in labor, and has had a calf part way hanging out of her for awhile.  As a mother of 4, I have sympathy pains watching such horrors.  She was mad, she was honky, she was wanting to eat one of us for lunch.  Well, by all means lets lock our selves in a confined space with her I thought to myself.

Mike, seeing my reluctance, fear, I don't know what I portrayed, but it was something, kindly told me to get up on the fence by the head catch and work the bar that should gently "catch" the cow.  After I swiftly climbed to my safe position, I watched as my husband influenced her to head my direction, into the jaws of life, or the place where we would trap and torment, I mean help her.  Well, as she worked her way up to the desired destination, Mike told me to close it.  So, with great force I pushed down on the bar and much to my dismay, nothing happened.  Mike looked at me as if I was somewhat incompetent,  and then quickly observed that we had a bar blocking our progress, and even admitted it was not my fault.  So, she escaped and we started over.

The second time around, it took a little more influencing to get her back into the scary contraption, but she stuck her head through the catch and with all my might I pulled that bar.  And with all her might she pushed against the entrapment and the bar came flying up at me, risking life and limb, as I fell off the fence.  But never fear, my handsome prince was there to catch me.  Let's just say after a few rantings, we decided that there was something not so right with the head catch, and we had to do this a different way.

Lucky for us, she still had a neck rope on and was dragging it around.  And by lucky for us I mean me, cause Mike grabbed that rope and wrapped it around a post and said, here hold this.  Yes, he did, he put me on the end of a rope with a 1200 lb. cow who had been laboring for hours.  On very unstable, shaking legs I did as I was instructed and held that rope.  You can imagine my dismay as I watched my husband, father of my 4 children, climb into the area with her.  I held his life in my hands, a little dramatic yes I am, but that is what I felt like.  "Just keep pulling that rope and I will get her to trip herself up," he instructed with no edge or reluctance in his voice.  And I did just that, in just a few minutes time, he had her lying on her side and was asking me to let go of the rope.  I carefully unwrapped my end from the pole and watched as he drug it towards him.  Wouldn't you know it, it worked.  He was able to get the calf pullers and help get this poor "aunry" cow out of her misery.  And I lived to tell about it.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

GirLs TriP

KwinLee and I snuck away for a long weekend and headed to Utah.  We met up with Tracy and her 2 girls in Lima, and traveled the rest of the way down with them.  On Friday we were lucky enough to go wedding dress shopping for Cimber.  My mom, Tracy, Ash, Cimber, Cenz, Cali, Tristin (the lone male), me, KwinLee, and Fayth were all there.  It was fun to have so many, and yes, she said yes to a dress.
Saturday we were able to get Char and girls and head to the mall.  More shopping, it truly was girl time.  Then, that afternoon we partied at Grandma's 80th birthday party.  She looked amazing and not at all her age.  They were taking pictures, so this is one KwinLee and I had together.

We then headed off with Steph and all the girls 12 and under to a movie.  Sunday, found us packed up and headed home.  Kwin and I stayed in Helena and had some time with Sharon and Buzz, before we drove to the winter wonderland on Monday.  It was a great trip and a much needed girl time.

About Me

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Ranch born and raised, we love the lifestyle that ranching offers. We also enjoy the oppurtunity of passing on the tradition to our four children.