8 years ago yesterday

On Monday night at about 9:30, J-Dub says something to me from across the living room.  Since my ears aren’t exactly what they used to be, I repeat back to him, “Oh crap, you have to get groceries tomorrow???”

He repeats himself.  This time much louder and stressing every syllable as a vein pops out of his forehead, “I SAID,’OH CRAP!  OUR ANNIVERSARY’S TOMORROW.”
“Oh, crap.  It is.”

Now last year, I would’ve known that our anniversary was the next day.  I would have bought a mushy card, and just tried to catch him in forgetting it, since men are notorious for that. But that just goes to show how much a new little wee one sucks every brain cell right from your formerly astute mind.  I’m lucky to remember to turn off the iron these days.

So on June 12th (our 8 year anniversary), we arose at 5:00 a.m.  J-Dub told me Happy Anniversary first since I forgot again, then made me an anniversary coffee before he saddled his horse,  while I stumbled around readying myself and EK for a small road trip to help a friend work his cattle.

I never have made much of a hand in the cattle working department, and now since I have EK (whom one of his friends has nicknamed Sticker.  He says she’s like a little cactus and once she sticks to you…..well, I don’t remember exactly how it goes, but you probably get the idea.)  Anyway, since I have EK, I’m completely exempt from working at these cattle gatherings.  I wear shorts and flip flops and hang out holding the baby.

After the day of cattle work, and getting my car from the shop, and visiting with my mom for a while, we loaded up the baby and  drove to Amarillo that evening.  Since we’re die-hard romantics, we figured we might as well celebrate a little.  So we grabbed some supper and ordered extra egg rolls at Pei Wei, which I pronounce Pee Wee and Jason insists its Pay Way.  Just another petty argument which has helped make the past 8 years blissful.

I’m sure he’s right since he usually is.

No really.
He usually is.

Then we stopped at Starbuck’s for a frappuccino (mine with whipped cream, his without) before heading home and straight to bed for me and EK.  He probably fell asleep in his chair watching Monty Walsh.  Then there came a heck of a rainstorm in the night.

 

me and my honey

And that’s our life.

I raise my frappuccino to simply enjoying morning coffees, spending time smelling cattle hair burning, fussing over how to pronounce a word, rainstorms, falling asleep in the recliner, and of course our little Sticker,  who is bringing our marriage and our ability to love to an entirely different dimension.

I’m so blessed.

 

 

First Day on the Job with Daddy

Yesterday, EK went to work with J-Dub.  He’s breaking her in young.  He documented their day with pictures.

Driving lessons in the feed truck.
Someone has to get the gate.
Daddy and Emma counting cows.
There’s dinner……and I don’t mean steak.
Closing the gate.

Feeding G.G.
feeling the grass with her footsies for the first time.
Relaxing in the wildflowers after a long day’s work.

I’m so giddy, I can’t think of a title

My little 3 month old, EK, just left with her daddy to go check yearlings and feed horses.  They’ll be gone a couple of hours. Checking yearlings consists of driving through the pasture, feeding the young cows, counting them as they line up to eat, and looking them over good to check for sickness as they have been recently weaned from their mamas and have now entered the world of independence. They’re like teenagers, J-Dub would say.

Not yearlings, but cows in a cake line
Not yearlings, but cows in a cake line

I love my little EK with all my heart and soul, I mean who wouldn’t love this face,

but I can’t help but confess that I’m just a little bit giddy right now.

I mean I have 2 hours!  Two hours to myself!  Two hours to myself at home! What shall I do?

Obviously I’m going to blog.
And I’m NOT going to clean.
I might do a little exercise tape, as I have developed quite the extra large size.
I might sit in the yard and listen to the birds chirping and have a glass of tea.
Maybe I’ll read some of the 3rd Hunger Games book that I started weeks ago and haven’t picked up since.  I’ll have to start over since it’s been so long.
Maybe I’ll take a walk with Drew and Grace.
Or I might go pet a chicken.
Or take a nap.
Maybe I’ll just go sit on the potty and take my time without feeling rushed or worrying about interruptions!

2 hours. Um, an hour and a half.  All to myself.
Maybe I’ll waste it all figuring out what to do.

I’m giddy.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of water or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.” Unknown

A Fine Mess

Looks like #15 got herself in a pickle.

J-Dub says she was probably scratching her chin on the tree bark and turned her head just enough to get it wedged in there.  She doesn’t know how to lift her head and pull back to get out.

 

 

 

She messed her eye up pretty good trying to get loose.
J-Dub said she’d been there a couple of days probably by pee and poop around her feet and her skinny sides.

She fought him when he tried to help her, but he was able to use the hay forks on his truck to spread the branches just enough so she could back out.

I can only imagine what those other cows are saying.  She’s probably the laughing stock of there herd.

Oh the shame of it.

 

Life is But A Blob of Wetness

It’s calving time again here on the ever so windy plains of Texas.

While the rest of the world is bombarded with severe weather, we remain rainless. And windy. And oh-so-very dirty. Today was field day at my school and when we left there, after battling wind gusts of up to 50 mph,  and no measurable rainfall since last November, we were all simply a walking layer of sunscreen encrusted with dirt.  Seriously, you could have carved your initials in my face. 

Besides all that, it’s calving season here on the ever-so-windy plains of Texas.

My husband spends his days checking heifers.  Now remember my good students, that heifers are very young, first time mothers.  They are the unwed teenagers of the bovine population.  They need to be monitored closely for birthing distress and to ensure they are going to raise their newborn babes and not spend their days drinking ale with their friends and getting new tattoos. 

J-Dub has 20 heifers to watch.  Out of those 20, 12 have calved and the rest are growing closer every day.  So he makes his rounds studying their backsides for floppy and swollen you-know-whats and big, full utters (a.k.a. bags).  But the tell-tale sign that a heifer is about to calve is a raised tail with a crook in it. 

I accompanied him the other day.  The cows who remain pregnant gather around the truck looking for a handout.  The heifers who have calved usually are hidden out with their babies somewhere, or they leave the babies hid out to come get a handout. 

The second cardinal rule of cowboying aside from ALWAYS CLOSE THE GATES is ALWAYS COUNT THE COWS. 

After a quick head count, it was discovered that a heifer was missing. 

 She was quickly found amidst the Skunk Brush, 

with a new, wet baby by her side.

A new, wet baby with a rumbly tummy. 

7 more babies to go.

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.

What You Love

 

The sound of heavy bootsteps and the jingle of spurs woke me from dreams filled with high heels and travel plans. 

My husband was up, dressed, and stirring around the house, waiting on the “guys” to get here.  It was time for me to rise anyway. I threw the shoes I was trying on in my dream back into the closet,  pushed the cobwebs from my mind and rubbed the sleep from my eyes.

My husband’s day of  branding cows was soon to begin, and he was waiting on his friends/co-workers/fellow cowhands to arrive with their horses, pick-ups and trailers, so they could put the horses in one trailer, put the cowboys in one truck and head off as the sun was barely kissing the morning sky. 

It wasn’t much longer until the roar of diesel pick-ups and the rattle of trailers stocked with horses begin to break the silence of the morning. 

Cowboys have never had much appeal to me.  I’ve never been a cowboy’s girl.  In high school I always thought they were just a bunch of skinny boys with big belt buckles dressing up everyday.  Now nearly 20 years later, I find myself married to one.  Strange.

The cowboys greet each other, unload horses from trailers, and lead them to  my husband’s trailer to load.  They’ve got 3 different places to work cattle today.  

These are good men.  Actually, the best kind.  A dying breed.  Old-fashioned, hard-working, tough guys.  They love what they do, but it doesn’t always pay enough to do it.  These are men who take vacation days from their “real” jobs with health insurance in order to saddle a horse and swing a rope.  They may even call in sick just to get a workday off.  Sometimes they work the night shift at their other job, take an early morning nap, and then saddle their horse for the day.  They have a passion for this lifestyle.  It’s not about the money, that’s for sure.  

As I sit at the kitchen table, my coffee cup steaming, there’s only one word that describes me.  Proud.  I’m filled with a sense of pride.  Not because I’m doing anything.  Heck, I’m drinking coffee.  But because these fellows work hard, love their work, and do it for practically nothing.   They walk tall, perhaps even strut; dark silhouettes wearing cowboy hats starting their day.  

 I watched out the window until the heat from the house married the cold from the outdoors and steamed up the windows. 

Then I listened to the rattle and rumble of the pick-up  as four cowboys head out to do what they love. 

Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still~~Henry David Thoreau

It’s A Boy!!

It’s calving season out here on the Golden Spread. 

Spring is in the air. 

Trees are budding, tulips are blossoming, and heifers are birthing.

Heifers are young cows, first-time mamas.  I might even be as bold as to call them teenage mothers.  Unwed, teenage mothers.  My husband says you have to watch heifers closely because some of them have a little bit of mothering instinct, but they also don’t know what they’re doing.  For example, an old cow won’t leave their baby right after it is born, but a heifer might come a running at the feed truck, and then wig out when they realize they just left their baby.  They’re inexperienced. 

Because of their inexperience, a good cowboy will put them in a smaller pasture, close to some pens, and check on them sometimes twice a day, just in case one of them runs into trouble with calving.

Tonight J-Dub needed to check the heifers.  So I tagged along.  Only one time have I witnessed a calf birth, but it was under poor circumstances, and I would really like to see another one.   No such luck tonight.  We arrived right after the baby was born.  Probably 15 minutes. 

The mother and baby were off by themselves.

You can see the afterbirth has not completely been expelled.  The mama cow was licking him and cleaning him up, which is a good sign and shows that she is going to accept him as her calf. 

When she saw us driving through the gate, she got a little agitated and began bellowing at him and nudging him a bit aggressively.  He hadn’t even stood yet and she was eager to get him up and out of there.

We didn’t stay long.  It’s best to let nature have her way, and cows don’t send out birthing announcements.  They like their privacy.  So we headed home.  As we were pulling off, I asked J-Dub if he could tell if it was a boy or a girl.  He said it was a boy.

I came home to blog about this beautiful birth, and of course my pet chicken Freedom wanted out of the box.  She was perched right on my hand and I was just typing away.  I thought to myself, what a cute picture.  I grabbed my phone to take a shot, trying to get Freedom, my hand, and the keyboard in view, and just as I was about to click the picture, Freedom squatted down and took a grunt right on my desk.

Look closely and you can see the squirt shooting out of her chicken butt.


Okay, laugh at me all you want.  

It’s what I get for having  house chickens.

A Rare Horse; A Rare Friend

My husband’s horse was born on May 5th.  That’s how he received the name Cinco.  A horse with a sweeter disposition could not be found.  As soon as he saw you, he was lumbering your way to nudge and beg for attention.  My husband sometimes got aggravated with him when trying to work.  “He’s always right in my hip pocket, ” he occasionally complained. 

As fitting as his name, Cinco only lived five  years.  He got sick with an upper respiratory infection.  J-Dub took him to the vet, and they gave him some medicine.  He began to pep up.  Then two days later, I drove out to our place to find Cinco laying down.  Now, I admit I don’t know much about horses, but one thing I know is they rarely lay down.  He wasn’t just resting, he was slowly rolling from side to side.  I walked closer to look at him, and his eyes had a look of illness to them.  I felt very uneasy, but not wanting to be the over-cautious wife who freaks out at a rolling horse, I decided to watch him a while.  He got up slowly, took about 5 steps, and then was back on the ground rolling.  I decided something truly must be wrong.  I called J-Dub immediately.  He was far away in another county, so he called his friend Matt to drive out to check on him. 

In the meantime, Cinco would rise very slowly onto his knees with his hind legs in the air, attempting to get up.  Sometimes he would make it, and sometimes he would lay back down.  When he did manage to struggle to his feet, he would walk for a short way, then lay down and begin rolling.  My husband said it sounded like he was trying to colic.  I didn’t know what that meant.  Matt arrived and when he saw him, he ran to him, slapped his butt and pushed on him, forced him to get up.  He put a halter on him and began walking him around.  Matt explained that when a horse colics, they get a terrible stomach-ache, so they lay down and begin to roll to try to relieve the pain.  That causes their intestines to twist, and they die.  The best thing to do is make them walk. 

As Matt walked Cinco all around the place, I paced inside the house.  I felt helpless.  Shortly after, the vet arrived.  She listened to Cinco’s stomach, then inserted a tube down his throat, and began pumping his stomach.  She removed the tube and drained all this liquid onto the ground, and then reinserted it again for another round.  This continued for a very long time.  The vet then decided to take him into the clinic and keep him overnight.  Rabies was suspected, and possibly West Nile Virus. 

The next morning Cinco wasn’t any better.  They continued observing and treating him throughout that day and the night, but he died there in the vet’s clinic by morning. 

Because the only way rabies can be detected is through a post-mortem exam, and the only way to test is to send an animal’s head into a laboratory, my husband had to drive to the vet’s to pick up his dead, headless horse and bury him.  It was a sad day.  I wish I could have helped him, but there wasn’t any help I could give except my words of sympathy.

The results for rabies came back negative.  The cause of death was never known. 

My husband has been without a horse since November until yesterday when his friend Shawn gave him a horse, and a dang nice one at that. 

Here’s Shawn hamming it up as usual.

This new horse goes by the name Freak because of his rarity.  He is a palamino roan. 

Palamino is a yellow color, and roan refers to little white speckles.

Right now he is roaned from his middle to the back, but in the summer he roans all over.

He reminds me of a Californian surfer with his bleached blonde mane.

What a horse!

But more importantly, what a friend!

My husband and I are blessed beyond words to have a friend in Shawn who sees a need and fills it. 

Thank you Shawn!