Birthing Babies

My husband, whose Superman cape is presently hanging in the closet while he lounges in his Lazy Boy has a pretty in-depth resume’.  Among his many talents include cowboss, gourmet chef, drumming dynamo,  and husband extraordinaire.  But most recently, he has added foal nanny.  The ranch he works for decided to buy a horse.  A horse who happened to be pregnant.  The horse nanny position was assigned to J-Dub.  So he’s been watching a bred mare for quite some time now checking her for signs of birthing.  Normally, a horse would have a foal and raise it in the pasture and life would go on without any interference from man. 

But this mare is a bit on the high-end, with good breeding for a cutting horse.  The hopes are that the baby will have good cutting horse tendencies and make a nice investment.

It’s a gamble.  There’s probably better odds betting 13 black with a spin of a roulette wheel.  But I like to play it safe anyway.

Due to the investment of this animal,  instead of putting her out into a pasture to have a baby, my husband built her a nice little stall and has been horse-sitting.  

Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, J-Dub “don’t know nothing ’bout birthing no babies.”  Except cows.  Who are put in the pasture to calve.

The reason he must watch this horse closely is the very small window of time in which the foal needs to be “imprint trained”. 

Much like Prissy in Gone With the Wind, I don’t know nothing about imprint training, but this is how I understand it.  As soon as the foal hits the ground, before it even stands up, a human begins working with it in order to imprint its brain  with certain techniques to enable it to be trained easier later in life.   

Last Saturday night we left town for a music festival in a nearby town believing that she was still 24 hours away from foaling.  Some other expert in horse gestation and delivery said if she wasn’t waxing (whatever that means) then we’d probably be okay until Sunday.

But when we returned on Sunday afternoon to check on the little mama, she had a little horsie by her side.

Although we were late and weren’t sure when the baby was born, J-Dub began his work.

He tied up Bobby, the momma, to get her out of the way and keep himself out of danger. 

Then began his newly acquired knowledge of imprint training on the little baby girl.

Mama  pawed the ground, knickered, and kicked up quite a stink, and some dirt, while her baby was taken from her and poked, prodded, pestered, and primed.

The idea of imprint training is to establish a bond between the baby and a human and to get it used to being handled to desensitize it for later training.  J-Dub laid the baby down on its side and rubbed it all over.  He picked up its feet for when it needs to be shod, rubbed under its tail so it won’t spook if a rope rubs it there, flexed its legs, stuck his finger in every orifice on its body and rubbed it all over until it was calm.  Then he rolled it over and did everything again on the other side. 

Then the two were reunited.  Four days later, Bobby the mama, was hauled to a nearby town to be bred back to foal again in about a year.  When the baby is weaned, she will be sent to a trainer and hopefully her imprint training will have taken effect.

J-Dub spent all that time building a nice little horse stall, equipped with pine shavings for a bed, and Bobby didn’t even use it.  Here’s the afterbirth laying in the horse pen.  Isn’t fascinating?  It looks like a big oily rag or something.

I just had to throw that in there.

You can thank me later.

In Memory of my Dad #13

I lost a good job with MapCo about 1985. I could have took to the road and hired out fitting pipe or some other form of construction work, but my family was in their formative years and I wanted to stay close to them as possible, so I took a job for a short time working cattle.

No, not the fat shorthorned beef cattle, or the lanky, terrain-toughened longhorn variety.  But the placid milk cow.  Well let me tell you they ain’t necessarily placid.  These seemingly contented bovines are some of the most self-centered, greediest, cowardly, excitable slave drivers that God ever stuck a gut into.  Most people that are owned by cows will agree with me.

Heaven knows that she should be contented because from the day she is calved until the day she becomes a McDonald’s burger, she is pampered.  She is taken from her mother and hand fed a diet fit for a queen.  As she grows into young cowhood she has no responsibility whatsoever.

And when that day comes for her to seek a mate, does she have to fight her way through hordes of other clinging females?  She does not.  She simply rolls her big brown eyes a few times, makes a few girlish capers around the cowpen and the owner runs to a telephone to arrange a quick marriage with the artificial inseminator.

She then spends her entire pregnancy living a life of leisure.  She feels no pain.  Loses no breakfasts.  Makes no plans for a new bassinette.  She just enjoys herself, and when her time comes she will have the assistance of a vet if the need arises. 

Meanwhile, the dairyman has been enjoying no leisure at all.  He has been feeding this bottomless pit endless bales of hay.  Tons of silage garnished with the proper amounts of vitamins and sweetened with molasses.  Making sure she has plenty of fresh water to drink, and on top of this, playing chambermaid to her every biological need.

While the man hustles endlessly for the cows comfort, she and her buddy, the milk inspector, neither of who has a dime invested in this operation, stand there with a smirk on their face.

The cow is completely greedy.  She’ll go to any lengths to fill her multi-stomachs.  You would think with all the stomachs she has to keep her going, she’d be happy.  She will load up all of her stomachs to the point of bursting just in case there might not be another chance.

She will bawl to get out of the barn if she thinks there may be something edible out there.  Then she will bawl to get back in the barn just in case she may have missed something in there.

This buxom thousand-pounder is the world’s biggest coward.  A tiny heel fly will put her to flight.  She may stampede just as you are about to pen her and her companions at the sound of a sneeze.  And she will invariably put all her weight on your foot she accidentally stepped on.  If you change clothes from your daily routine, it will throw her into a tizzy.  A man who talks about the cows he owns is a dreamer.  A realist knows that he is owned by the herd.  Family activities are planned around the herd.  When the man does get away for a breather, the herd decides how far he should go, when he is due back and is always a constant worry.

The cow is a master of feminine trickery, for instance when she becomes sick, she lowers her silky lashes, rolls her limpid eyes and gets a hump in her back that sends everyone in the house into a panic.  What does she have?  Hoof and mouth, the plague, cancer.  No, probably just a good old-fashioned bellyache from overeating more than her share of fodder.

A cow generous, ha!  She doesn’t give milk, it’s taken from her at great expense and a lot of labor.  Can you imagine the labor it takes to hook up 100 milkers.  Then you have to clean all the equipment and make sure it’s sterilized before doing it all over again that night.  Placid?   Never—again just plain lazy.  All the textbooks tell you how much water a cow will drink.  Sure she will, if it’s pumped for her.  But let one of those bad blue northerners blow in, and if the stock tank is a fair walk away, then see how much she will drink.

She is a firm believer in the old-fashioned caste system–watch any herd of cattle and you’ll see one boss cow.  A new addition to the herd is quickly put in her place.  The cow is a born tyrant. 

I’ve also heard that cows don’t really sleep.  This doesn’t surprise me too much because she’s much too busy casing the joint for a weak spot in the fence so she can make her escape. 

The milk cow is far from stupid though, she can even tell time.  Case in point: when you are in a hurry, a cow will never accommodate you by coming to the milking barn on time just because there’s feed in there.  She’ll dawdle at the far end of the field until you go and issue an engraved invitation in the form of a stick or a well placed rock.

Never make the mistake in thinking that all cows are the same.  We’ve got glamour girls, introverts, extroverts, worry warts and motherly types.  We’ve had airheads, screwballs, business women and career girls.  But that would take another story. 

In fact, instead of trying to tell you all I know about dairy cows, I think I’ll exact a small bit of revenge this morning.  I’m going to McDonald’s for a Char-burger and a glass of milk.


~R.L. Briggs

Fit Throwing at its Finest

This morning I had a fit.  A wall-eyed, screaming MiMi, all-out tizzy fit.  The ugliest kind you can imagine.  Raised voice. Words that need to be beeped out.  Irrational behavior.  I might’ve even stomped my foot.  Actually I’m pretty sure I stomped my foot.  More than once.  I don’t even know what triggered it.  I have surmised either I have the absolute worst case of PMS ever recorded in the history of womanhood or I’m going crazy.  If you think of all the crazy women in the world you’ve ever heard of and bundle them up in one person, that is who I’m becoming.  It’s a bit unsettling. 

On my car ride into work, knuckles white from gripping the steering wheel, tears pouring out of my freshly mascaraed eyes, I told God how mad I was.  It was  pretty much a one-sided conversation consisting of “I’M MAD!  I’M MAD!  I’M MAD!”  How grateful I am that God forgives.  He forgives even my anger toward HIM.  His shoulders are big enough to handle me being upset with Him. I’ve apologized to both him and my unsuspecting husband who totally took the brunt of pent-up emotion.  I gathered myself together and went to work.

I finished my work day without murdering any small children, which might be considered a miracle considering the morning I had. On the way out, I received a text from my husband informing me supper was on the bar, and I headed home.  Headed home in the same car, on the same road, just a few hours later from the cry fest I had with my Lord.  I never turn on my radio.  There was a time in my past when I felt like music was life.  If I was stranded on a deserted island and could have one electrical device, it would’ve been a radio.  But now as I’m older, I very rarely listen to music or the radio.  I have too much to think about instead.   Today for some reason (read GOD here) I turned on the radio.  Unbeknownst to me, it was programmed to a Christian station and the most beautiful song was playing.  I’m including it here in case you want to have a listen.  I hope you do.

The lyrics are beautiful and were exactly what I needed to hear.  God knows.  He always knows what we need.

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I received a graduation announcement for a beautiful girl, a former 3rd grader of mine, and printed in it was this scripture, “God is within her; she will not fall; God will help her at the break of day.”  Psalm 46:5

And that too was just what I needed to be reminded of.

And then, as if that wasn’t enough, supper was indeed on the bar.

My sweet husband does understand comfort food.  A little Taco Villa, something a little sweet, and something a little salty.  This is the food that brings me comfort; except for the Milano’s and other soft cookies, I think those are for him.  I deserve rat poison, but instead I received love. 

 I find it unexplainably refreshing to know that even on days, weeks, months, when I act like a horse’s ass, my God is always good and my husband still loves me.

Now that’s something to sink my teeth into.

Instagram Addiction

I recently, very recently, like say Friday, was turned on to Instagram via my friend Suzanne.  This weekend I’ve decided I need a 12 step program for it.

You simply can take a photo and run it through various filters to achieve different looks, some retro, some greenish, some reddish, some black and white,and  then ooh and aah.

Here’s a sampling of my pictures.  I hope they create a sense of wonderfulness for you as they do me.

My girls

I love these girls!

Something old and antiquey.


Grace trying to stick her head in my lap in the lawn chair.


That’s me.

Big cat


My favorite:  a ladybug on my leg.
Instagramically addicted,

In Memory of My Dad #12–When the goings got tough, the tough went over the hill

When my wife, Anne, used to come home and find me gone, one of the children would say, “Dad has gone over the hill again.”  That would mean things at home had become a trifle thick and I’d walked out on the family once more.

No, I don’t mean walked out for good, but I’m impatient taking care of small children.  Believe me, mine were a handful; yelling, laughing, and running all over the place.  I would become exasperated with the young ‘uns and at times I would blow-up for no reason at all.  Then I would remember something from the Scriptures; “Provoke not your children to wrath.”  That’s when I would know that it was time to go over the hill.

Over the hill is where the yellow wild flowers grow in great abundance, looking as if some demented artist splashed great slashes of yellow paint everywhere.  When my girl Angel was a baby, she picked a big handful of the blossoms.  Joley taught her to say “Happy Easter” and her flowers graced the table that Easter Sunday.  The Easter ham never tasted better.

Over the hill lies a pond where the fat, old bullfrogs croak and harrumph the night away.  Once a neighbor gathered a gallon bucket of frog legs there in less than an hour and the antics that the frogs made when Stan or Steve, both sharks in the local Little League, would throw a rock in their midst, it would seem to rain frogs everywhere.

The hill would slope gently down to where a wet weather creek bubbles and gurgles happily before joining Red Deer creek.  The creek is forbidden to the girls who are barely out of the toddler stage.  But I find the remnants of a small dam and I wonder what kind of skullduggery the boys have been up to down here. 

One hill leads to another and that hill is covered with Indian Paintbrushes.  The Indian Paintbrush to me is the most beautiful of all the wildflowers in the world.  Beyond that is another hill where you can’t walk without crushing the State flower of Texas, the wild Bluebonnet.  Bluebonnet Hill at that time was soon to be leveled to make room for a 4 lane bypass around Pampa, Texas, so me and my kids used to gather a handful of the bluebonnets and transplant them in a grove of mesquite bushes not far from the hill.  I hope we were successful in the removal of the wild flowers.  But that has given over to time now and the flowers probably won’t grow where they were transplanted. 

The mesquite grove also provided us with the aromatic wood that we would use for cooking out.  There is no better taste anywhere in God’s great garden than mesquite flavored steaks or chops, and if it was a few days after payday the aroma of hot dogs could be smelled throughout the neighborhood.

I might as well walk a bit farther to where the black Angus and the Hereford cattle make their home.  Maybe I’ll even inspect the water gaps, making sure they are still sturdy.  I remember once during a summer of not much rain, when the owner of this property offered to cut the water gaps out so that the neighbor’s cattle would have a place to come to water in this spring fed watering hole.  Yes, I remember that drought and the neighbor’s kind offer.

Circling back toward the house I see the black Angus, like a small boy’s playthings, on a hill not so far away, the cows ignore me but the calves approach me cautiously.  I don’t bother them and soon they rejoin their mothers.

Now I have come full circle and here is my household still needing me, I hope fervently.  Angel throws herself against my legs wanting to be picked up and carried, Joley’s bright brown eyes welcome me home while she talks a mile a minute.  Stan and Steve rough house each other around the front yard, Stan laughing so hard at Steve’s ineffectual pummeling that his own defenses are almost nil.

These are my kids, how could I have been so annoyed with them only a short time before.

My wife asks, “Where have you been?”

“Over the hill,” I reply, knowing that things are going to be all right once again in the Briggs’ house.

~R.L. Briggs

I’m Not Gonna Hurt You, I Only Want to Chew On Your Neck.


The J&A Chicken Ranch, the place I call home, is stocked with 2 dogs and 14 chickens. 

Natural enemies, they are. 

The dogs live in the fenced backyard and the chickens live in a chicken pen and garden shed close to the backyard.  Somedays I like to let the dogs out, and somedays I like to let the chickens out, which leaves a logical deduction that someday they’re going to be out at the same time.  I would hate to raise my chicks to survive the  bitter cold, dangerous chicken hawks, and an owner that leaves them crushed under the water tub all day, only to be massacred by tame dogs.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to introduce the dogs to the 9 week old chickens.

My practical approach has been taking the dogs to the chicken pen, shaking my finger, and yelling “NO, NO, NO!” for at least 3 hours at a time.

My husband thinks no matter how many times I do that, if they are ever left alone, Drew Miller will kill them. 

Drew Miller is my killer hound, my head of ranch security, notorious ’round these parts for polishing off possums, slaughtering skunks, and going a couple rounds with any porcupine dumb enough to stick a bunch of quills in his face.

When Drew Miller sees the chickens, he tenses, his ears go up, drool runs from his massive jowls, but  when I give him the finger shake and the NO, NO, NO technique, he becomes disinterested, wags his long, powerful tail, and meanders off. 

Grace, on the other hand, stares them down.  She is on point, which doesn’t make any sense to me since she is a Heeler. 

She won’t break eye contact with the chickens.  She watches their every move.  I think if given the opportunity, she might kill my chickens.  J-Dub says she will only chase them.

I must make the dogs understand that I love these chickens.  I’m trying to train them by going into the chicken pen and holding the chickens, talking to them, and petting them.  The dogs just watch.  I’m not sure they understand.   I think they’re jealous.

They’re certainly curious of them.  They haven’t acted aggressively toward the chickens yet, but I don’t trust them.  No siree Bob.  I’ve got some more work to do on training my dogs to love my chickens as much as I do.  Or rather, less than I do.  I’d be content if they’d just leave them be.

Teaching old dogs new tricks has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

A Sussy

I got a present from my best good friend Erin the other day.

A “sussy” as she calls it.  That means  a surprise in her language.

There’s Erin in the middle, and my other best good friend Mrs. Z on the right. 

You’ll never guess what the “sussy” was.

Not just one, but two Bob Ross T-shirts.

You see, the other day I was wishing I had these shirts.

Actually, I blogged about it  here.

I took a vow, kinda like a monk, to not buy new clothes the entire year of 2011.  Not a T-shirt for Field Day, not a new pair of panties, not even a Bob Ross shirt.  So Erin helped me out.

Mrs. Z (the one pictured up on the right) gave me a mountain of clothes the other day herself.  Pity clothes is what I call them.  If you want some new threads, but you don’t want to pay for them, just announce that you’re not buying any new clothes for a year.  Then find some good friends like I have.

Between these 2 girls, I shant go naked. 

And that’s good for everyone.