Laughter by the bookful! Comedy embedded in literary fiction. Cynthia's unique blend will have you reading her work over and over again.
Author: cynthia queen
Living on a small farm just three miles short of the West Virginia border I am kept extremely busy with writing, working part time, remodeling our rental mobile homes and running the farm. I lived most of my life on the New York border in the Tyoga County backwoods. Our family has known nothing but hardship and scraping by. I bought this farm with the intent of bringing my family to a better place. In 2015 my daughter joined the farming fun. In 2016 Mom and my two brothers made it to the farm. I am hoping my writing will begin to supplement the income and make homesteading a reality for all of us. Now, to get my other daughter to come home and we'll have the whole family here.
Febuary 14, 2018 We are deep into winter when a hay crisis arises.
The neighbor down in the valley behind us told us to wait and see how the winter went as he would have rounds left. Through our other neighbor, we found out he had thirty and we relayed we needed them. A couple of weeks later, while trying to figure out how we were going to get them with dry rotted tires on the trailer, we found out he sold them all.
The lesson of this is, “Neighbors do not care if your animals starve to death. Apparently you are in competion with them for raising cows, too. If they need the money, right now, they will not come to tell you, but, sell the feed you are counting on right from under you. Money is the key concern to most people, not the rightfulness of their actions. Good christian neighbors are in short supply these days; no matter how nice they treat you.
At this time the farm has four round bales and the decision has to be made which animals starve? Will it be the two pregnant horses or the six non-pregnant? Will it be the twelve cows or the eight goats?
It might be all of them. The hay was so hard to get because of the rains this year, it is in short supply. The neighbor knew this, but, the word of someone is not worth toilet paper these days.
The lesson to take from this is, “Get the hay on your property and leave it nowhere else. If they do not want to sell it, to make sure they have enough, and want to make you wait for their convience, get your hay somewhere else and get it on your farm. They can easily sell what you did not buy to someone else. As a side thought: If the hay is not on your property and you do not have it in writing you are storing it on their farm, or there is a miscount, or someone comes on their farm and steals it; you are the one out. It is your animals which will starve.
Better, yet, find fields no one is working and offer to keep them clear for the haybales. This way you will depend upon noone for hay; and, if your neighbor whom lives down in the valley falls short of hay (or his tractor is stuck in the road with all four wheels off) you can drive by and wave- thinking of how your animals looked guant for ten weeks in the worst part of the winter because all you could do was grain them.
The decision at this moment is to sell off the cows and four of the horses in two weeks. This means even Angel, my milk cow, I wrote about as a calf. Better she not see starvation, if we can not find hay. If we find any at all it is going to be a miracle.
When I sat down to write this I recieved a call for sixty bales. After going to church I came back, fed cows and hitched up the trailer only to find I have two flat tires. Slowly taking the trailer to the garage for air I had little hope I was making the trip with a double flat. Called and reschuded for the next day. Meanwhile in reaching out to friends one stumbled across a farmer five miles away with extra rounds. I had made several calls and internet searches leading nowhere and just up the road was a miracle with just enough rounds to get us by.
The push to get all the cows out is now down to getting what we need out and the desired sale of two horses instead of all of them. The goats would have been the last to go as they are the weedeaters of the farm and I love goat cheese.
With a sigh of relief I end the day. Tomorrow the work begins: How to move thousand pound bales five miles. This summer I am buying my rounds from this guy and the neighbor can kiss his tractor muffler while it is hot.
I went to the Waynesburg stocksale thinking I had no chance of getting a calf. They were holding the calves until 2pm and I had to leave for work; no later than this. When I arrived the horses were going through. Walking the aisle behind the wooden seats I bumped into a neighbor. To our surprise the calves ran through early and I purchased two at half the price I would have paid last week. I guess it is why it is called a stock sale; the prices are never the same. Anyways, one was a black angus and the other a black angus herford. Off to work I went, almost regretting the purchase because now I had two bottle babies to feed.
After work, I went to the house to slide a couple of dog boxes on to the bed of the truck and tell the hubby we were the proud parents of two calves. He was so happy. Only the day before he had put his back out and the doc said no wood chopping. He-he, Doc said nothing about calf wrangling.
At the sale I was blocked in for half an hour by a big truck. Inside the building I fnally found the guy and he moved. It was a treat dragging the calves into the bed of the truck. I put them in the same box to keep each other company.
Once home, I parked the truck near the new barn and readied the pen. The hubby stared, puzzled, at an empty dog box. He quizzed, ” You lost a calf? There’s nothing in the box.” He was pointing right at the box with two faces staring at him. Okay. Must have been the beer. Pointing I said, “Well, I got a good price on that one. It came with two heads.”
Grumbling something about me being smart the hubby yanked the black angus out- Cocoa. Her little feet did burn outs on the truck bed. She was fiesty so I helped. Mentioning the tailgate was down we handled the squirming critter. Hubby assured me the other one would stay. Slamming the pen door on the unhappy Cocoa we heard the clatter of little hooves on the truck bed. I almost made it to the truck when Porter House hit the ground running. The three day old calf crashed into the goat gate,
then took a left and a right into the alpacca pen. I think the calf thought she was staring at E.T. because she took off like her tail was lit on fire. Right through the goat pen, scattering the goats.
Up the hill goes the hubby. I ran for the Kawasaki side-by-side. By the time I was to the new gates the little steak on four legs was past me and up to the neighbor’s fence line. The calf turned left; straight up the hill doing moch 90. The hubby jumped in the Kawasaki. By the time we reached the top of the hill the minature hamburger pattie pushed through the old fence in the corner. We pursued on foot, ripping ourselves on barb-wire. Up higher, into the neighbor’s hillside we went.
The calf followed the fenceline. Over the top of the mountain and behind the new neighbor’s we finally cornered her in a briar patch. Brandishing bleeding thorn holes across my arms and legs I found myself hanging onto a fresh leg of potential veal, only I was stuck in the thorns.
The hubby leaped. One badly sprained thumb later and our fastfood was contained. Bawling in protest the hubby cussed my new purchase. I am not sure which was more winded, as the pair lay sprawled, panting. My asthma had me bent over wishing for air. After a moment I trudged back up the hill to the kawasaki. On the way down the hydralic brake line let loose and the trip took a sudden “yeehaa” to the bottom. Somehow I made it to the house with next to no brakes. Driving the truck to the neighbors I made a hasty explanation as to why I needed permission to cross their land.
Being quite neighborly the lady offered to drive me in her side-by-side with two excited children in tow. Up the hill we went with dog box bouncing in the dumpbed. Through the barbwire we drug the box to where the Hubby lay grumbling. Porter house was now hog tied with barn twine.
Pushing and heaving; the hogtied calf was boxed. It was then we saw a huge abscess draining on her backside. For a moment we all felt sorry for the poor little thing, then I felt mad. Someone had duped me into buying a sick animal of which they did not want the expense of caring for. Everyone helped drag and pull the box through the weeds and to the mule. The neighbor was kind enough to bring myself and the calf to the house after I explained my fun ride down the hill in my own side-by-side.
The hubby brought the truck. As he steppped out I realized he was in his house slippers. Such a city slicker. Bet that is the last time he brings slippers to a calf fight.
August 20 2015, fell on a Thursday, of course. I say this because it is the day I like to go to the stockyard sale and enjoy the aroma of homecooked food in the cafeteria. Oh, yes, real mashed potatoes, thick lemon merringue pie, meat loaf without the preservatives and real genuine hand grated coleslaw. Oh, yes. Well, it is not every Thursday I get to go to the auction and check out the calves, horses, goats, sheep and hogs for the fun of it.
The morning auction usually begins with the eggs and vegetables being sold. It is the stuff people do not want anymore; like harness, saddles and tools, that peaks my interest. It gets more fun when the rabbits or guinea pigs or sometimes an emu appears. Now there was some fun. A big angry bird chasing those guys around the ring until they hid behind the boards. I wondered if there would be one there today. Next would be the calves, the goats then the horses.
The auction was not to be my day, today. Our second shipment of four-hundred pound calves was arriving at one. It meant squeezing all the morning chores in. When the calves arrived, what I wanted least was in the mix of black angus. A pair of long horns and a black calf with four white socks; which was more than likely longhorn. There was a brown swiss calf the guy said was tame. Hmmm. We would see. It was walking around kind of weak. I started right off feeding the whole herd medicated crumbles in the grain for the shipping fever.
We were in the process of finishing the head gate and chute. The other eight we had purchased from the same source were all coughing. My three bottle calves were coughing and I had pulled them out just that morning. They were yet in my horse trailer. I did not want them sicker. Again, the cart arrived before the horse. In this case the cows before the corral.
When the rest of the herd joined there companions one animal stood out as a trouble maker. A pretty speckled long horn with an all black front and a big splash of white shaped almost like a heart on his head. My daughter wanted to name him Sweetheart. I said that calf was going to be sweet trouble.
I drive school bus. It pays for the feed. When I arrived home in the afternoon, my head was aching so I swallowed some sinus pain medicine. Ten minute break and out to check the new herd.
I decided to try and put some drench in the swiss calf, if he was as tame as the guy said. As we opened the gate to check the cows the same neighbor who had endured my first calf escape- we call the Porter House incident- pulled up in her side-by-side.
The neighbor inquired, “Do you have a holstein-cross bull?” I had to pause. There were alot of calves not visible. Great. This could be a thousand dollar disaster. Confound fencing and all the stuff that keeps me from getting it fixed.
So here we go. Up to the neighbors with a bucket of grain to play with a four-hundred pound animal that does not know me from Eve. Too bad the mare I just bought was in such bad need of shoes. I refused to ride her. I would shoot the damn calf first before ruining a good horse.
Bucket in hand and neighbors stationed to corner this contrary pain in the leather pants, the chase was on. Of course the bull calf bolts. Fortunately my daughter was over the bank and sent it around to the road. By the time I ran to the truck and backed down the drive I lost what direction the pair went. The neighbor pointed toward the farm. Head throbbing, I see my daughter and the calf beyond her in the middle of the road. Grabbing my daughter we follow the calf to the gate. Hoping it will go towards its friends it starts mooing, and walks right past the gate. Great.
Route 218 is a thousand yards ahead and traveled by semi trucks. Not good. Sending my daughter up the neighbor’s bank to cut the calf off, she comes down to close and away we go. Thank God a car came up the road and spooked the big calf along the trailers. My daughter has not quite got the idea of cattle driving. She plunged in like this thing is one of our tame calves. Straight over the bank it goes and down into the tree clogged creek. Great. Well, she did it, and it is her chase up the creek. The calf jumped logs and boulders with her yelling all the way. She is cussing and swearing like a one-eyed pirate as she rolls herself over trees and crawls under logs. Crashing and smashing its way through fallen debris in the steep-sided ravene the bull calf finds a hole in the fence and gets in.
Meanwhile, I ran for all I am worth up the road to see the neighbor’s clan coming down on two side-by-sides to watch the fun. They stood guard at the weak fenceline as I dashed up the dirt road to get ahead of the bull and shut the other gates so he can not get in with the horses. Now he is trapped. My daughter is coming up the ravine and through the hole, but has quited so as not to spook the bull again.
There is a corner pen, about fifty feet square. My daughter opens the gate and somehow we push the bull calf in. Pork Chop’s adventure was over. The next thing was to take a head count. Everyone else was present. Swew. Yah, Pork Chop. I could not think of a lower insult than to name a bull after a piece of pig meat.
Pork Chop went to the auction house on Thursday. I had coconut cream pie and meatloaf.
As usual, life distracts me from my horses. Yesterday, I distracted myself by going to the local auction in Waynesburg. Sometimes, I can pick up a nice horse to train. Today, I met my niece. Already she had bought a pot of flowers. I picked up a bucket of eight-penny nails and two four-foot gates. You would not believe how pricey a gate can be brand new. I always like to buy used when I can. Take my little Honda Civic two-door. I bought it from a friend who had it all but its first three years. Sixteen years old and running strong.
We watched the horses go through and a beautiful gold leopard appaloosa made me sit on my hands. Good thing it was not a mare as my Tennessee Walker stud would have had one more added to the field. It is so hard not to collect horses as they are like beautiful potato chips. I’m always sad when someone buys one, but, the fun is to go pick out another training prospect. The calves came up and a nice black Hereford stepped out. I had a set price in mind and went up to it. Calves always went higher then my price so imagine my surprise when I found myself a proud owner of a bull calf; only, guess what I drove to the auction. Now, my red-headed niece is laughing because she has to go the opposite direction of the farm. Guess what has to go in the backseat of the coupe and take a ten mile trip?
Luckily, we bumped in to a male friend with good arms. He volunteered to bring the calf out to us. While I cleared the yard sale stuff out of the backseat five people see my niece as she arrives with a “tux pad”, as she calls them. Usually hospitals put these under patients to catch any accidents. They are great for baby farm animals, too. So, here comes the farm boy with my calf and a big grin on his ruddy face. He does not hesitate to push the calf behind the back seat and slam the door. If I could have had a camera for the surprised look on the other people’s faces. It was priceless to say the least. My niece is laughing hysterically at this point. She says, “It’s all about the farm life.”
I smiled and said, “Gotta go. He’ll over heat.” Now, this is not my first offense for bringing babies home in cars. Usually it is the hubby’s Cadillac. Shh-h-h, he never reads these articles so I am safe here. Anyways, this calf is not laying down, instead, it is trying to see out the back window like a dog. I was glad I had left some boxes in the seat.
As I leave the auction behind I am thinking this particular calf might not be such a good candidate for a car ride. Last year a heifer, identical to this one, caused four hours of stress after she jumped off the back of the truck and raced out of sight into the neighbor’s fields. The story is under “Porter House Steak.” She is a yearling now. This guy might take a leap straight out of the car and off we go again. I better make sure the hubby has boots on this time, instead of slippers.
Well, the calf will not settle down and I am beginning to worry it might try to jump up and drive. I stretched my arm across the other seat and for fifteen anxious minutes drove down Route 218. Along the way the calf contented itself to lick the back seat and the box. I was afraid to roll the windows down all the way, even though my air conditioner had quit working. It was ninety degrees outside and one-ten inside. Then, I hear this paper ripping sound. It is followed by some slurping and smacking. The calf had found the newspaper on the floor and was quite happily eating it. Good thing it was yesterday’s news.
Once to the farm I drove up to my daughter’s trailer and grabbed her to aide in my adventure. Why is it when I need a camera to capture people’s expressions I am lacking it? I saw her puzzled look and said, “Good, you got your shoes on. Hop in and let’s go.”
My daughter is staring in disbelief at the hind end of the calf, “How?”
Without hesitating I replied, “We pushed. Now get in because we are going to have to pull this little guy out of here before he has a big accident.” I stopped in my driveway and instructed her to get the dog collar and rope off the porch. It is there for escaped goats.
I proceeded to drive my Honda through the yard. My daughter opened the gate I drove into the goat yard. I was glad we had dry weather because walking this little guy around the house might have been a challenge.
After some pushing on the backend and some pulling on the front; my coupe gave birth to an unhappy baby bull who was promptly named after his Momma, “Honda.” So that is how a Honda is born, folks.
Until you start writing things down you do not realize how much actually happens in a day. Take yesterday, Monday. I decided, come what may, I was getting a buddy for Honda. I really wanted a heifer calf to raise as a milk cow. I went up to the auction and met up with some friends there. My niece is bold enough to go behind the scenes and check out calves. Usually there is a break between “junk” and “stock.” There was so much junk being sold and chickens I was not able to sneak back with her. She said there was only three heifers. I wanted a Jersey, which are hard calves to bottle raise. You sneeze on them and they will fall over dead. Though everyone said if a chicken gets an open wound they’ll die of infection. I have two that prove the theory wrong. I’m not grossing anyone out with chicken injuries.
We sat through all the auction stuff, which reminds me I have to get the onion sets and the rhubarb out of my truck. I’m going to soak the rhubarb and see if I can’t get some roots to grow. I was interested in the pheasant chicks but they went for too much. Finally we got to the calves. I’m trying to listen to this auctioneer and if you have ever been to one of these events it’s quite fast. There were forty calves this go around. No beef calves at all so I was going to have to settle for a dairy. I did not want to loose out on a buddy for Honda. The prices were high but not like earlier in the year. This bull calf came trotting into the lot, head up, perky, and full of life. He looked about the size of my calf so I bid on him and got him. They push the little guy out faster than he came in. My niece ribs me, “That’s a heifer. Someone tagged her wrong.” I bid.
I asked, “Is that the one you said was laying back there sick?” I inquired and bid again. The little calf was adorable with its marble markings. She weighed sixty pounds. Probably less. She looked to be a Jersey-Holstein cross maybe. You can never tell as fast as this stuff goes.
My niece hesitated, “She was just a little dehydrated I think. She didn’t have any scours on her.”
I bid again, “The tag is on its backside not its head. The auctioneer called it a bull calf.”
“It’s not a bull,” my niece insisted. “Trust me it’s a heifer.”
I eyed her and bid again, “If it’s a bull it’s yours.”
Now wouldn’t you know someone else must have known what my niece knew. I ended at fifty cents a pound higher than what I was willing to pay. She was mine. Had I seen her in the back, sick, I would not have bought her, honestly. Had i known she was sick I would not have stuck around another half hour watching the bull calves go through.
When my niece’s friend brought out the calf her tongue was hanging out. He put her on the hot bed of the truck and I was instantly mad. I said to him, “Get her off the back of the truck and into the cab with me. She won’t make it home back here.”
I spun the carrier around with the bull calf in it and my niece helped me ratchet it down. As soon as I was in the truck my foot hit the accelerator and I was literally in a race to save the calf’s life. Looking at her rolled eyes she needed sugar, corn syrup. I was angry with myself for forgetting the bottles and the syrup at the house. I was definitely regretting it. I talked to the new girl and tapped her with my empty pop bottle at every red light to keep her from sinking completely into shock. I know it sounds rude but she was out of my arms reach and I was driving.
As soon as I got in the drive I ran in, cleared the bathroom floor, and got the hubby. He was not happy I purchased a dead calf. I was pretty sure at this point that is exactly what I had done. I got her in my arms, dead weight, head hanging, and barely made it into the bathroom. Nurse Lass had gotten underfoot and nearly spilled us all. As soon as I put her down the little thing pooped yellow water. She had scours and in the advanced stage.
I found the corn syrup and rubbed it all over her gums. The calf suckled on my fingers which I was not expecting. The hubby drove the other calf to the pen where Honda was. He came back as I dabbed more syrup around the calf’s gums. Her tongue was pale and she was about ninety percent crow bait. I left her long enough to secure the new calf.
I pulled up my website and picked from my arsenal of advice. It is why I made the page on calves in the first place. My memory is terrible. My daughter dug out the heating pad, and armed with ideas we set to work. Dehydrated calves get cold so I put a heating pad under their gut, closer to the heart. The body can then focus on other things.
We gave her, over a course of an hour, two quarts of re-sorb which I thought I was going to have to tube. the calf managed to swallow everything in a metal feeding syringe. I gave her egg white in one dose, scour halt in another, vitamins in another and two packages of Knox Gelatin in two separate doses. In the morning I found a diarrhea bolus and chopped it up and added this to her twelve ounce glass of resorb. By afternoon she was lifting her head and we graduated her to the front porch. Tonight she rests under a heat lamp and we are finishing up two quarts of Save-a-calf formula just for pneumonia and scours. I also gave her a B-12 shot and a dose of LA 200 to keep the pneumonia out of her.
It’s been a long forty-eight. We had to go up and get medicines in town plus all the farm chores. I mowed around the little trailer court and the bigger lot we are purchasing from the neighbor’s. I should be excited, but, I am not. It is going to take a lot of work and time to get the rundown trailer ready so my daughter can stay in it. I wish I could wave a wand and it was done. I do not even want to guess what we are up against. There is a piece of plywood on the roof if that says anything. We’ll see.
6-8-16 The hubby woke me up to tell me the baby moo was standing up and bellowing for breakfast. Considering I did not get to bed until nearly midnight, moo was going to be extra hungry by seven. I woke, stumbled out of bed and sure enough the moo alarm was going off with nurse Lass wagging her tail like I needed to take care of the problem immediately. “Do you mind if I get coffee first?” I asked her. Her reply was to sit and stare at me patiently. Critters. While the coffee perked I went about fixing the bottle. The cats were meowing. I truly hate having cats inside at all because of the damage they cause. That is a sore thorn between the hubby and I. We will not go there.
I had me an idea this calf was sold because she did not want to latch on. So far I had not been able to get her to truly suck even my fingers. From experience, this could take a few days to get her to actually suck from the bottle. Armed and ready out the door we went to be greeted by a hungry bellow. Trust me, I was thinking we were burying this animal when I dragged her into the bathroom on Monday. That possibility was still very real. The air was damp and chilling. I had put a heat lamp out and I would keep it on all day. It was my luck the temp was going to drop for the next couple of nights. I might even run a lamp out to the other calf pen. The newest one was no older than a week old. If my daughter put a bed of hay as deep as I told her to Honda and the new calf should be fine. That forty-seven degree has me a bit worried. Without a big mother cow to radiate heat it is tough on the little guys. Once they get to be about a year old minus the unforeseen the cows seem to do well on their own. It’s pneumonia and pink-eye I have to constantly watch for. That reminds me, I have to put a cow rub up for them to get rid of those nasty flies. We did a head count on Sunday and it is amazing how fast the cattle’s appearances changed. I almost did not recognize them.
I looked down at my little dairy calf and sighed. “Okay, round forty-two- ding.” She lay there, her soft eyes looking at me. I am a sucker for those lovely eyelashes. On her forehead is her angel mark. As she grows how long it will stay there, who knows. I slipped my fingers in her mouth to see if I could get her to suck on them. After a minute she had the idea but when it came to the nipple she was having none of it.
For about five minutes we struggled, her tongue trying to push the nipple out of her mouth. “Not, yet, huh?” Going back inside I cracked an egg white into the heavy glass then added some vitamins and Save-A-Calf formula. Out we went and down the hatch with some feisty resistance using the metal syringe. Hopefully my niece is reading this and apologizing for suckering me into this calf. Of course, who knows where this little girl would have landed and if those people would have known how to do what she needed. She was one step from an IV bag and that I would not know how to do. I’m not a nurse. Sad thing is, there are no vets that will help with these calves in my area. It’s all pets. We have one mobile vet which can take a week to get out here. The next time she is out I’m going to ask her about IV supplies because my niece knows how to do it. Nope, I hate needles, hate giving shots, and it is the one thing I will pay someone else to do. Only if I am totally desperate and alone will I try it, and God help the critter.
Well, that’s over. Time for another cup of coffee and to make the other calves bottles. Guess I should mow my own lawn and weed eat around the garden. Got two windows to replace if no rain is in the forecast. Looks like the tip of the storm hitting my daughter is just missing us, causing the damp morning. My other daughter lives near Harrisburg. Sure wish my books would take off so I could buy her a nice little house and get her back out here. She would come in a heartbeat. Patience. It’s all about patience.
I’m having to get my mind set on the Flea Market idea. It’s not going to go anywhere but at least all the extra stuff that is laying around will get sold. I’ll probably end up selling the trailer and maybe fixing up my old truck with the cap on it and just selling books out of it. I wanted to get into designing T-shirts, plaques, hand bags and cups. I got some really cool farm designs. With all the repairs and machine purchases I doubt I get to get the business idea off the ground and when am I suppose to find the time? I still have to get the changes to my web pages uploaded before I start handing out bookmarks to the general public. Just advertising is hard work.
Well, nurse Lass is asleep at my feet and it’s time for the Doc to go make rounds in her bunny slippers drinking coffee. lol.
6-9-16 Bottle Baby
At five this morning the whole neighborhood was awakened by a hearty “moooooo.” It was very hungry little mooo that demanded an immediate fix to the problem. Yesterday, in front of company, my tiny little moo decided to give us all a gift. She pooped the smelliest pile of tan jelly. Everyone looked at me really strange when I clapped my hands and said, very excited, “Good girl.” Then I had to explain that it was her first solid poo in three days. As I hurried to clean up the present I further told them that she now had more than a fifty-percent chance of living. Then they were a little more excited and very glad as the stinky present was quickly disposed of. Guess this will hurry the hubby to fix the power washer to clean the cement porch. He-he-he- evil chuckle.
As I pour my coffee and heat Angel’s milk it occurred to me to get it on film. She’s mooing her little heart out. So here’s the video. Believe me, I’m very happy at the end, no more syringe feedings! Hooray! She finally gets the bottle idea and we are both happy!
Link coming…got to figure out U-tube. Yah. This could take a minute.
The newest member of Greene Acres is coming to the farm to become a riding companion to “CC” alias Pusher’s Lady.
Since the loss of Jazz Cat two years ago it seems I have lost interest in all my horses. Determined to downsize the feed bill I was guided to Meridith, in Butler PA , who has a barn full beautiful horses. Honestly, I went to check out two Tenessee Walker colts to trade my mare. I was thinking it would be easier to geld a colt and sell it. The mare would be going to a good place. In the back of my mind, I knew Meridith had this gorgeous blue roan stallion, but, what were the odds of any of his colts being around?
Meridith showed me the bay and he is nice. I could have easily resold him. Nothing in my heart stirred. What a nice woman Meridith turned out to be. She showed me her assortment of horses and that gorgeous blue stallion! I could have stared at him all day. Meridith has a gypsy stallion which was all Barbie Doll hair; which was enough to make a horsey girl drool.
There was another three-year old Meridith just got in. It was adorable in its white and brown-roan peppered coat, probably a Pusher colt. It just was not touching my heart. The bay was a better choice. Nothing there for me.
In between it all I had noticed two young horses I thought were fillies. Not interested in a filly- for me. One had a half white face with such odd markings all over she was cute. Maybeline was her name with lipstick black around her lips. On the other side of the filly I saw a blue roan patch on a white back. I thought of the colt I had seen in the pictures months ago on Meridith’s facebook.
King popped his head up and I felt my heart leap. Suddenly excited I greeted the yearling who was putting his little muzzle in my face. We talked for a second. This might sound funny, but, I blew softly in his nose and he blew softly back at me. The only horse in the barn to do so. I was betting this was a boarder’s horse, it was a filly; and no way could this be a colt and for sale.
Hesitant I asked, “A colt?”
Meridith nodded and told me he was her blue stallion’s and the mother was the paint Missouri Fox trotter in the next stall. One of my dream stallion’s colts! Now I was really excited. You know how you get at this point. You see something you suddenly want and you know it is not going to happen. So I asked, knowing I was going to be disappointed, “Is he for sale?”
Meridith hesitated and nodded, “Yah.”
It was one of those nods that told me this horse was expensive. I asked her the price and she told me. Yep and he has to be gelded on top of that price. Gelding is what I wanted anyways. “Champaigne taste on a beer budget,” I thought to myself. I was running figures through my head when Meridtih asked if I would be willing to trade all three horses I was thinking of parting with. It was all I could do not to jump up and down like a winner on the Price is Right. I’m telling you, I was that excited. Yep, not much gets me that excited at my age, but, that sure did.
Calmly I nodded and tried to keep myself from running through the barn like a crazy woman. I wanted to do one of those Ace Ventura scenes, but, dignity kept my excitement to the minimum. We made arrangements. Also the old mare I was stuck with; Meridith was willing to take and re-home for us. Three mouths down! I can take the extra to spoil King rotten!
Ironically, it was Meridith’s dog that allowed me to have this wonderful opportunity to have on my farm a colt out of my dream stallion! The little mini Aussie liked me and was enjoying all the ear scratches she could get. Little did I know, she generally shied away from people unless they were genuinely good. The dog chose the people who got a chance at Meridith’s colts. What a compliment from one of God’s greatest creations.
Now this good Queen is waiting for her King to come home. LOL
As soon as the weather permitted we began gathering everything for the pond. Last year we put the second pipe in and buried it four times. The pond flooded over and washed truck loads of dirt away. Finally we dug an outlet on the far end of the pond so the pond could simply overflow. Who would have guessed it was going to overflow six or seven more times and start washing the other end of the pond out? Seriously.
In March my brother and I took two pipes too small for the big pond on the other side of the farm. The dam is busted completely out and will take an immense amount of work to fix. The idea is these undersized pipes will become the overflow pipes for the frog pond.
There is already a metal pipe at the frog pond. The previous owner thought it was a great idea to take the larger pipe first and put a smaller pipe in it. Complete wipe-out.
This all sounds complicated. It was even worse getting it done. The first pipe was on the opposite side of the frog pond. The path was too slick, muddy or steep so using a lot of chain and some boards we finally got the pipe in place. The tractor had to pull from the road above. The pipe landed too far into the pond. The plan was to dig a little and then wiggle it into place.
The weather had other plans. The pipe was in the overflow ditch when the rain came down in buckets. The water lifted the pipe and overflowed the pond completely. Another truck load of dirt was swept downstream. The pipe floated eight feet backwards until the water could gush through it. More erosion. Sigh.
After digging more dirt off the banks to make a ramp so I could get on the dike, I dug the trench for the pipe. My brother helped lay it in place and bury it over. Now we had to get the next set of pipes in place.
Okay, to make a long story short, we dragged an eighteen foot pipe weighing over seven-hundred pounds through the cow pasture in low-gear, four-wheel drive and backwards. We backed a flat trailer under it after we lifted the pipe on one end with the tractor bucket. Using five heavy ratchet straps we tied the metal sausage in place. The end of the pipe hung six feet off the end- touching the ground.
“Hey, Bro,” I said, “how about jumping in the back of the truck to see if we can at least get it off the ground?” The idea gave us half an inch and away we went. It was a quarter of a mile to the pond. I waited to hear the pipe scrape the road surface; a cop come down the highway or the pipe slide off going up the hill, then slither down into Route 218 and take out a vehicle, probably loaded with a million dollar cargo. None of that happened. When you have our luck you go for the worst case scenario and skip the small stuff.
While my brother undid the ratchets I walked back to get the tractor. The idea was to attach a chain to the end of the pipe, lift, then drive the trailer out from under it. “Ta-Da!” It worked. Giving the pipe a push it was down over the bank and we were out of daylight. The next day we repeated the scenario with the much lighter plastic pipe.
After lining up the pipes we filled the gap between the two with concrete. Between the initial overflow pipe and these two pipes is an angle that is going to require a homemade concrete box. The argument is how to build the mold. While this dilemma is argued I decided to get started on burying the pipes. Four weeks later it still has not been decided, so, you know this country bumpkin is going to dump some cement in the hole and call it a box, right? Just saying.
On Wednesday, June 13, I tapped the first pile of dirt in place on top of the dike where it had overflowed a month ago; taking another truckload of dirt down stream. Considering I have a small bucket on the John Deere we named, JD; it was a lot of work washed down the creek. I am a bit eager to get this area built up; now that I can reach it safely.
The family took a short vacation and most of us were away from the farm for four days. The sad running joke is, whenever I leave the farm something dies. It has happened every trip for three years. This time we made sure the farm had a babysitter. The renters took precautions to keep an extra eye on their animals and the farm. Came back and not so much as a chicken was missing. Yes.
Monday morning found me taking pictures of the pond progress. I stood on top of the dike where my last pile of dirt was. My eye caught what looked like several white mushrooms. I thought to myself, “How did mushrooms grow that fast in my dirt?” A moment later I am thinking…”Nah, can’t be.”
Suspicious, I investigated. Giving the “mushrooms” a tap my suspicion was confirmed. Big Bertha, the snapping turtle, had laid her eggs in the middle of my days work! The rain had opened the ground just enough for me to see a few of the top eggs. Only on Greene Acres could this happen.
Okay, yes, I could eat them. Someone told me turtle eggs are delicious. The thought crossed mind. Unfortunately, I love nature. I have lots of chicken eggs. Turtles are good for the environment. It takes many years for a turtle to grow to the size of Big Bertha. Many of the eggs would probably not hatch. If they hatch, predators could pick them off. If we decide to put fish in the pond we might be picking them out of the pond. We were years from the idea. It would be kind of unique to see them hatch. I mean, how long could it possibly take?
“Eighty to a hundred-twenty days!” I yelped at the computer screen. “Good grief, Charlie Brown!” Of course, I had to show the family the turtle eggs and make a little video before officially covering them over and tucking the nest out of sight. I mean, how many people get to see a nest of turtle eggs?
Guess we will just have to work around the babies as best we can. At least she did not lay them in the hole where we have to pour concrete.
Bertha’s tail is at least ten inches long. The flower heads on her foot are nearly three inches to give you an idea of her size. As she was pretty cranky measuring her was not something my fingers were going to do, but we figured her shell has to be near eighteen inches.
It is June and we are still on the pond project. The far end of the pond flooded over and eroded away the front of the pond. My brother and I; through some creative maneuvering involving our grandfather’s log chains and the tractor safely on the road; managed to inch the old metal pipe into place. It is to be a spill way pipe. Before we could get the pipe set we had a nasty little storm go through, flood the pond and of course the pipe plugged the hole perfectly and was floated eight feet down hill. Another truck load of dirt was lost as the flood water spilled over the height of the pond directly above the main pipe we have been trying to keep covered.
Well, try, try again; as they say. I spent seven hours on the tractor tonight. I have been digging dirt and hauling it one little bucket load at a time to the sight. I refuse to pay by the ton for dirt. The big backhoe is down, needing nearly two grand worth of pump parts. When we need it the most it is in pieces. The pond will be done by the time the engine rolls over on “Big Moe.”
In addition to the one pipe I put two more pipes in that will be buried under the front of the pond and exit where the main pipe exits. The catch is having to build a concrete box at the angle. We will then raise the height of the pond three feet.
We dubbed this big turtle, “Big Bertha.”
After examining the sight I have taken a liking to it. I do believe Mom would love to come and watch the frogs in a screened gazebo. The dam has to be fenced off to keep the horses out. This looks like a perfect spot to put berry plants, maybe a some elderberry bushes, tall herbs, and such. Hmmmm. I see more tractor time in my future.
Ewww. Maybe some solar panels on the roof to run lights and a pump for a fountain in the pond. The fountain would aerate the pond and make fish possible. Some big fat catfish. Hmm. Mom might not like them eating her frogs. She is already on the fence about turtle soup. We might end up with catfish stew.
Okay, let’s just get to the chiropractor in the morning so I can dig up some more dirt before the next storm hits and wipes out my pipe again.
Yet, remaining to be filled is the mold for the concrete box. Can we say, “Twenty bags of concrete all on a Wednesday night? Scritching and a scratching. Mixing and a sloshing. All to pour on a Wednesday night.” Chiropractor for three- Thursday morning. I’ll make the appointments ahead of time.
After all the long hours of digging I came home to this at the front door…
and little Noah full off high-speed energy. I think he licked the suds off my brother’s Red Bull. Sometimes it is just nice to have a little pup that always fits in your lap. I love my Dane girls, but a hundred-twenty pounds of lap dog is just not happening. Sorry, Maya.
I am watching a John Wayne movie, McClintock. He is on a wagon riding into town and stops to look over his cattle. The setting is roughly 1895. He is pleased because he is getting 15 cents a pound. His cattle are a horned range breed. That made him a rich man 123 years ago. I repeat…123 years ago.
You want deflation? I just sold a fatter version of the same steer for a whopping .53 cents a pound! Yet, you go to the store and want one-hundred percent lean hamburger with no steroids, grass-fed and you pay 7.99 a pound! Hmm… why are farmers are going out of business? Why are farmers feeding the cheapest, crappiest steroid infested feed they can get? Even skittles from the candy factory, so I was told?
I can say this, after this farmer gets through this time period; cows are off this farmer’s list. We have fourteen to get rid of. It will be the end of trying to raise cattle for us. We had thirty-four.
The death of cattle, illness, mud, freezing temperatures, heavy bags of feed, tractors sliding in the mud with thousand pound hay bales, barb wire fencing, coyotes and being put in the red before you even get started is not worth the sleepless nights, thorn bush scratches, kicks and bruises.
To Consumers who would rather pay cheap prices at the store I say: Import the meat, for all I care. I hope it is infested with black leg and pesticides. I’ll never run another steer through the auction again. I’ll enjoy my homegrown steak, but, I am not growing anymore cattle at these prices for the general market.
I am sticking with goats. At least I can make cheese, soap, and kifir then sell the goat for a twenty dollar profit! See if you can do that with a steer.
If insult to injury is not bad enough I just had our cantankerous long horn cow, Fruit-loops, sent in to butcher. I believe she is the culprit which ripped the ear completely off a hefty, pregnant cow; killing it. Fruit-loop’s baby we found dead; thrown into the hay ring. She was using her horns to literally lift other cows up and even flipped one into the feed trough. In one last good kick to the wallet she was an eight-hundred pound cow. I was told her hang weight was three-hundred and forty-five pounds. Okay, so you got the fifty dollar kill fee and sixty-eight cents a pound to wrap. I got back one-hundred and eighty pounds of steaks, roasts, canning meat and hamburger. So where is the rest of the beef? Turns out she was one-hundred and sixty-five pounds of bone. This is why you should never buy a dairy-cross or a longhorn, for that matter.
Let’s figure this out:
Cost of a two-hundred and twenty pound calf- $2.37 a pound is $521.40
Cost of wintering three winters in anticipation for her calf:
24 scoops in bag of feed. 12 days of grain. Jan-April 120 days 10 bags x 8 is $80.00
Hay- one cow can eat a bale a day. Dec- April 150 days. $2 bale $300
We have $380 per year in feed and 3 winters into this cow. Total $1140
Wormer $45, protein bucket $40, salt blocks 6 x $6 ($36), shots $40, fly powder $20, fly bags $5, water hauled in $5, fence repairs $40 Fuel $20 that all comes to total $251 for her three year stay.
521.40+1140+251+butcher fees $286.40= $2198.80
So the cost per pound for the meat I got back from the butcher was the total of her cost divided by the amount of meat I got back. So that would be:
$2198.80 /180 lbs= $12.26 per pound.
Now 80 pounds was hamburger. If I was selling this cow I would probably sell the hamburger for $4 a pound and there would still be people saying that was way to high to spend for one-hundred percent grass-fed steroid-free beef. Someone suggested I should lower it to three dollars for a half or a whole. I had to bite my tongue. Now I might charge $6 a pound for steaks and roasts.
At the best that would be 100 x $6= 600
80 x $4= 320
So how much did I lose on this wretched cow. $2198.80-$920= -1278.80
Yah, in the hole over a grand.
Also keep in mind, this cow cost me her calf which was a really pretty calf I could have gotten $200 for, a cow she ripped the ear off and its unborn calf which I might have got a $1 a pound at the sale for and she weighed 900lbs. So that is $900 plus the calf $200. So there is another $1300 I’m out.
Now this is why homesteaders should steer one-hundred percent clear from trying to raise beef for profit. If you can raise your own hay and graze the cow and get milk from it for your own personal use then you are ahead. A Dexter might make a nice between breed. Otherwise, find some idiot like myself, buy a half or a whole for $4 a pound and be glad you did not waste your time, and fencing, on a dull-witted animal that would be glad to run you over for a bucket of feed and kick you just because you happened to be standing there.
As for this idiot, I am passing on the knowledge of numbers and experience and I hope there is some wise person who will sit down and think it through before they try to spend their hard-earned money on a cow.
John Wayne made a killing at .15 cents a pound in an era when a thousand dollars could have bought my whole seventy-six acre farm. Today, get out a shovel because cattle will put you in the hole and it is a long dig back out.
It is winter again and everyone’s electric bills are hitting the roof. I might have stumbled upon an answer. The hot water tanks. It makes sense. The water temperature is just above freezing when it hits a greedy money sucking one-hundred-forty degree temperature demand. The little wheel on the electric heater goes berserk and our wallets get thinner and our tempers get hotter.
The fix seems to be a temper tank; a second tank of water which sits at room temperature and then is piped into the water heater. The idea is great but… where do you put the extra tank in a cramped, tiny, little house? The tank must not leak. It must not sweat and create a mold condition. It must be open to the heat of a room to allow the water to raise in temp.
The closer to a heat source would be a grand idea. If you have a wood burner I would put the tank as close as I could get.
Where in tarnation do find one of the dagblasted things? The right size? It fits the space?
You can find safety expansion tanks, water heaters, even the inside guts to the tank, but, could someone come up with a dag nab twenty gallon, non-sweating temper tank I can just plumb-in? Good Grief Charlie Brown. I have been on this internet half an hour and I am so frustrated I finally had to sit down and write about it.
Do you know how much money I could be saving right now? Somehow I think the girls on the couch are thinking I am making a big deal out this. I could buy all their dog food for the extra money this issue is costing! It is a big deal. Stop looking at me like that…
May the electric companies shudder once I find a link to a temper tank and share it with all my friends.
Okay, that is it. I can not find a link to anything for this idea. You know, why not just take and put the cold water line into a big coil of copper pipe? Enough pipe might hold about twenty gallons of water and skip the whole tank idea. Heck, if I had a wood stove I could wrap the copper around the stove pipe and be dancing in the shower by the end of the night… and not even turn on the confounded money hungry water heater…so there Mr. Power Company…Ha!
Hmmmm… I see an addition to the house is needed. Time to pull out the saws, hammers and nails. One wood burning stove with a long black pipe wrapped in a copper spiral standing in a stonewall den coming right up- in about twenty years.
Awe- look what all my ranting and raving has done to the dog. Guess I’ll have to pull out a dog bone to get her untwisted. Those are in the same cupboard with the elderberry wine- yep- that should get me untwisted, too, in about fifteen minutes… well until next time.. bottoms up.