Posted in Animals, Children

Peace, pecks, and pigs—Randomness

It’s a peaceful kind of morning.  No hustle, no bustle.

There’s a cool breeze, and it’s a nice respite before the West Texas July sun follows it’s usual path in the cloudless sky and the daytime temps rise to scorch and wither.  But after all, it is summer.  What else do we expect.

EK and I sat outside for a spell.  Me with my coffee, she with her glee.

Watching the world through the eyes of a baby brings on a new light.  I read that every day to a baby is like a visit to Paris for the first time for us.  The new smells, the new sights.  We would be on high alert, taking it all in.

Her yard is a far cry from Paris, I would have to imagine since I’ve never visited there.  But oh, how she takes it all in.  She notices the smallest things.  A leaf blowing across the yard, a black bird flying to rest in a tree top, the bark of Drew and Grace from the backyard saying, “We want out, let us out, we want to see you this morning too”, the choo choo whistle as it rolls down the tracks.

A chicken flew up on the arm of our chair with her beady eye and pointy beak.  Me, I’m a bit intimidated.  I don’t know why I suddenly became afraid of my chickens, as if they could peck me to death or something.  I usually shoo them away afraid they might peck EK, but today we just sat.  The chicken jerked her chicken neck around studying us, and EK stared back.  I put EK’s hand on her feathers to let her feel.

The other day my mom mentioned how the baby needs one of those toys, you know the kind we used to have as a kid.  Where you pull the string and the animal makes it’s sound.  I said, “Mom.  Look around.  Why does she need that?  We have horses that say neigh, dogs that say ruff, chickens that say bawk, cows that say moo, right here.”

That seemed to satisfy my mom, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she pulls up with a pig in the passenger seat one day.

 

 

Posted in Children

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.

 

 

Posted in Animals, Children

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.
Posted in Uncategorized

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

Posted in Animals

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.

 

Posted in Animals

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.

Posted in Stories by my dad

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