Posted in Uncategorized

How I deal with crap

No matter how bad my life is going, no matter how crummy a day I’ve had, no matter how many curve balls life throws my way, when I lay my head down at night, I can always say “at least I’m not a cow in a feed yard”.

That really has to be the worse doesn’t it?  Compared to pasture cows who can graze all the live long day, a feed yard cow only eats when the feed truck drops food in the trough.  The rest of the time they stand there on that huge hill of poop smelling the stench of manure, swatting flies with their tail, and batting dust from their eyelashes in overcrowded conditions, all the while awaiting their day of execution.

Now some people may want to argue this, saying those cows live the life, and to each his own.  I just know when I pass by a feed lot, I’m just a little bit more thankful my stomach doesn’t have 4 compartments.

So today, I will count my blessings.  And you should to.  Even when manure is hitting the fan.  Even when the ketchup packet exploded on your white blouse, even if you lost a $50 in the grocery store parking lot, even if your Almond Joy melted in your pocket.

Remember it could be worse.

You could always live in a feed lot.

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Posted in Animals

The Demise of the J&A Chicken Ranch

Well folks, I’m here to announce my flock of 14 birds is officially down to eight.

I’m sad.

The casualties are:
1 yellow chicken killed by a coyote in plain sight
1 yellow chicken found lying dead in the coop in March 2012.  Cause of death: unknown
The remains of one yellow chicken (mostly feathers) found in an abandoned outbuilding in April 2012, obvious murder

MIA:
2 black and white chickens
1 black chicken

I should have eleven chickens.  I had eleven chickens earlier in the week.  But tonight, I only counted eight.  I scanned the vicinity and found none, so I waited until dusk for them to come in to the coop to roost in order to get a good count.  There are only eight.

I looked everywhere for signs of foul play.  Or would that be fowl play?
I got nothing.  Not a feather, not a speck of blood, not a chicken track.

I’ve questioned the dogs.  I’ve interrogated the horses.  Played a little good cop/bad cop.  They’re not talking.  Not even when I offered a reward of 1 bucket of oats for any information leading to the arrest of person or persons involved in the disappearance of 3 chickens in one week.

It’s a classic whodunit.  Has something bad happened to my three chickens?

Or have these hens simply crossed the road to get to the other side?

I will be interrupting your regularly scheduled program for any urgent news updates.

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

A Chicken is good for a laugh or two

When we drove to a nearby city on Friday, January 27th to check into the hospital to give birth, we thought we’d only be gone a couple of days, and so we prepared for being gone only a couple of days.  But as fate would have it, it turned out to be seven.

J-Dub drove back to our home about 3 times during that week to check on things, get the mail, do a little work, overall, just tend to the things that needed to be tended to.

Of course in a situation like this, a lot of necessary tasks are overlooked for a short time, one of which being the chickens.  We left the chickens out, as is our custom, to free-range the place.  They had plenty of food and water and fresh air.  The day after we returned, I quickly went out to do a head count. Thirteen is the magic number.  But only twelve chickens did I find.  A yellow one was gone.

Naturally, I assumed the worst.  My mind returned to the coyote snatching that occurred a few months ago.  I quickly did a half-way-walk-around-the-place for any signs of demise like a plethora of feathers scattered about.  I checked the horse tanks, as we all know my chickens are fond of nearly drowning in a horse tank.  There were no signs.

I counted my losses, allowed myself a moment or two to grieve, and returned to the house.  Since then, J-Dub’s been penning them up for me at night.  Their range is no longer free.  They are jailbirds, for their own good.

Yesterday evening, a guest speaker was speaking at the church.  J-Dub was asked to play the drums for the praise and worship time.  He didn’t bother to unhook his horse trailer from his pick-up as he would be using it this morning to haul some horses to a nearby town for breeding.  Shortly before the service was to begin, I received a text from my husband informing me that a yellow chicken was in the church parking lot.  Evidently, she had hitched a ride to church in the horse trailer and then flew out once they were stopped.

Fortunately, some friends of ours recognized her and as the music was gearing up inside the church, I can only imagine our friends running around the parking lot chasing a stow-away chicken.

She was captured, trapped, and returned safely to her home later that evening.

I’m glad she’s home, and plus it gives me hope.  If one chicken can hitch a ride to church, perhaps my lost chicken is not dead after all.  Maybe , just maybe, she crossed the road and hopped a train.  Perhaps right now she’s drinking a Pina Colada in Mexico.  Living the life.   I can see her.  Beach chair, sunhat and shades, bikini, sipping on a long straw.  Because, after all, the winter’s do suck here.

Posted in Animals

Country Troubles

Somedays the  J&A Chicken Ranch has more excitement than my feeble heart can handle.

This beautiful breezy morning I am waiting for the water well repair man as we have no water coursing through our pipes.  The precious commodity, the life blood, the toilet flusher has seized for reasons unknown to me, but hopefully not beyond the scope of knowledge of the water well man.  In today’s America, one does not realize how fortunate and blessed we are until one does not have running water.  It is taken for granted, assumed that at the turn of a faucet, we can clean our bodies, brush our teeth, water our plants, or rinse our dishes.  No less humble does one become than having to relieve themself outside in the middle of the night, saving that one last toilet flush for the inevitable morning poop.  Forgive me, but as is life.  But yea for the man who can repair the problem and I only hope he arrives before my bowel movement decides to. 

When I first began dating J-Dub, I would ride with him to tend to his cattle.  At the beginning of the trip, he would inquire, “Are you brush broke?”  At first I didn’t know what that meant, but quickly learned when you are miles and miles from modern conveniences, there will come a time when you have to squat in the brush and piss in the pastures or you’re going to be very, very uncomfortable for a very, very long time.  Yes, I am very brush broke.

I slept in a bit this morning but knew I needed to let my fourteen dear chickens out of their coop.  Not until you’ve watched fourteen chickens come out of a coop, do you understand the true meaning of the phrase “cooped up”.  The chickens have a coop that was an old metal garden shed with a sliding door.  It sits in a side yard, up against the edge of the backyard fence, but not in the back yard.  Surrounding the shed is a chicken pen, enclosed with chicken wire, and covered mostly over the top with protective wire.   I keep the sliding door to the coop opened enough so they can come and go freely into the pen to get fresh air or take a dirt bath or something equally chickenish.  Each morning, as early as possible, I open the door to the pen and let the chickens run out so they can free range around the yard and pasture.  Our back yard and our two dogs, Drew Miller and Grace, are enclosed directly behind the chicken coop and pen.  Never have the dogs and chickens come into direct contact.  I fear it would not be a pretty sight.

When the chickens eye me coming their way, they get so excited.  They know freedom is in sight.  They will run to the corner of the pen, clucking and bocking, eager to get out.  This morning, before I was about to open the door, I heard a commotion.  It sounded like chicken feet on metal and I assumed a chicken was inside the shed, trying to jump on the metal nesting boxes as they sometimes do.  With their chicken claws slipping and sliding and feathers flapping to maintain balance, it sometimes makes quite a ruckus.  The next thing I heard was a terrible sound like nothing I had heard before.  It was the sound of a chicken in distress.  The clucking was rapid and high-pitched.  I then noticed out of my peripheral vision, the dogs were agitated. Through a crack in the gate of the backyard, I saw 3 streaks of black running past, back and forth.  First a black  chicken, followed by Drew Miller, followed by Grace.  My first thoughts went something like this: Is there a chicken in the backyard?  how did a chicken get in the back yard?  There is no way possible that is one of my chickens.  It must be somebody else’s chicken in my backyard.  Mine are all right here in the pen.  With my hand on the door to the chicken pen, ready to push it open, I glanced over and did  a quick headcount.  1-2-3-4……  1-2-3-4-5……, 1-2-3-4 I began adding quickly:  4 Barred Plymouth Rocks + 5 Buff Orpingtons + 4 Black Australorpes = 13 total chickens.  THERE’S A CHICKEN MISSING!  And it is presently in grave danger.  Immediately I began screaming NO DREW!  NO GRACE!  and with ninja like skills I flung open the backyard gate, grabbed Drew Miller by the collar and tried to get the whole party to settle down.  The dogs were having no part of calming themselves, so I drug Drew Miller by his collar over to where his leash hangs, put it on him as he jerked about, acting a fool, and I tied him to a post.  He is the dangerous dog.  He is the porcupine attacker, skunk killer, possum murderer.  He loves the kill.  Grace, a heeler, doesn’t want to hurt the chickens, she just wants to herd the chickens as she slinks down, belly close to the ground, haunches shaking, eyes fixated.  She doesn’t even wear a collar or has never experienced a leash.  She is right by your side most all the time and if she wanders too far, a quick command draws her back to her spot.   So there we were in the backyard:  Drew Miller and the blue leash wrapping  tighter and tighter around a post, a chicken petrified yet unscathed, Grace slinking beside me towards the chicken and me a little afraid to try to pick up this chicken who just might turn into a fighting, pecking, scratching defender.  The little black chicken was behind the dog’s water dish.  I gave her some time and space to see if she could find her way out of the gate on her own.  I thought of trying to corral her out, but decided that might agitate her even more.  As I reached down, she hunkered close to the ground, terrified, but allowed me to pick her up, hold her to my bosom, caress her little back.  Her feathers were hard and stiff where Drew’s slobber had already dried on them.  He obviously had his mouth clamped on her at some point. 

It was a close call. Perhaps even a miracle.  I think I’ll call her Lucky.

I still don’t know how in the world she managed to get into the back yard.  I walked through the pen and the coop looking for holes.  I can only figure that she flew out the small opening in the roof, walked across the wire roof of the pen, walked across the roof of the coop, which was the commotion of chicken feet on metal that I heard, and flew over the fence into the backyard.  

Stupid chicken.  I hope she learned a lesson.  The next time she tries to escape, she better hope I’m squatting in the yard.

Posted in Uncategorized

Nobody Knows

This morning I praised God.

This evening I questioned Him.

This morning I sat with the sunrise and read His Word.

This evening I sat on a stump and cried real tears.

This morning I sang, “Standing on the Promises.”

This evening I sang, “Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen.”

Join with me :Nobody Knows the Troubles I’ve Seen.

Nobody Knows (Go deep now) My Sorrows. 

It’s only further evidence of my self-diagnosed Manic Depression.  Or Bipolar Disorder if we are politically correct.  And mustn’t we be?  Of course in 2011, we must be politically correct.  That’s another thing that really burns my butt.  When did we become such sissies?

But enough of that.  Let’s get  back to me and my state of sissydom.  Because really, isn’t it all about me?

Me?  I’m fine.  Don’t worry about me.  It’s nothing, really.

No one is dead.  No one is hurt.  Everyone is fine and dandy.  Except for the horse who cut up her foot.

It’s only a molehill turning into a mountain.

It’s just a few more straws added to the camelette’s back.

But the camelette is still standing.  She’s one tough camelette, married to one tough camelot.

Just telling you about it helps me, so if you don’t mind me whining for just  moment, I’ll digress.

I’m feeling much better now.

Thanks for listening.

On a lighter note, I took my niece and a friend to the Amarillo zoo today because it’s free. 

The only trouble with going to the zoo on Free Monday is all the other poor folk are out as well.  It makes a person wonder why they have the animals caged and the humans roaming free.  I think it should be the other way around at the zoo on Free Monday.  Some places just attract people that make you go hmmmmmm. 

The circus.

The carnival.

 The Walmarts.

I chose a terrible time of the day to arrive at the zoo.  Right smack dab in the heat of it.  So the animals laid around in the shade and didn’t give 2 squirts of owl crap about the homo sapiens staring through their wire, generating strange primal sounds cleverly thinking they sound like one of their kind just to get a tail to wag or an eye to  blink.  My niece’s friend stated, “They just ignore us!”

Come to think of it, the animals are depressed.  And why shouldn’t they be.  What a miserable existence lying in a small confined space when they know they were born to be wild. 

Join with me now:  Born to be wiiiiilililild.

After the zoo, we stopped at a strip mall, where I bought the book “Heaven is For Real.”  Can’t wait to start that.  Ashy and her friend bought Bubba teeth and plastic flutes that very nearly got flung out the window on the ride home.

And now I’m home while my husband is broke down in Amarillo.  But not to worry, his brother is on his way to pick him up, and pull his truck to a mechanic. 

Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.

Supper’s not been cooked.

Nobody knows my sorrow.

But soon he’ll be home.

Sometimes I’m up and sometimes I’m down.

And give each other a tight bear hug.

Sometimes I’m almost to the ground.

And all will be right with the world.

Glory Hallelujah.

 

 

Posted in Stories by my dad

In Memory of My Dad #15

It was the kid’s first job as a pipefitter with the H.B. Zachery Company,  he had just picked up his card in Amarillo, Texas and was now driving down to Lubbock where the big turnaround was to take place. A turnaround is where a plant is shut down for two or three weeks and a bunch of craftsmen come in to go completely through the plant fixing and overhauling the equipment. A turnaround was what the contract called for in the Exxon plant where they would be working.  It’s usually hard work, 12 hour days, seven days a week, but the pay was high and so the money was good.

There was one older man on this job that the kid had hit it off with when he worked as a helper back in Borger, Texas and he was anxious to see the man once more.  The man was in his 40’s; a great bear of a man, with a ruddy complexion and a huge red beard.  He had a perpetual smile on his face and seemed about ready to break out in laughter at any minute.  The man was well read; sort of an unemployable poet.

The kid used to follow him around trying to absorb all the knowledge the man had stored up over the years.  He used to tell the kid, “don’t push so hard, just take things as they come and they will.”  He and the kid were a good team.

The man had a small spread outside of Lubbock, a good-looking wife and a daughter that had just graduated from West Texas State up in Canyon who was home for a short visit before going off to Dallas or Houston to look for a job.  The man wanted the kid to meet his daughter.  He said they would cook some steaks out on the grill and quaff a few brews before the girl left to make her mark on the real world.

He and the kid took off one Sunday at noon because the man had a good working relationship with the boss and they drove to his ranch about ten miles outside of town.  They arrived there at his door at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon because they stopped for a few games of eight-ball at the Moose Lodge.

The daughter was drop dead beautiful.  She was about 5 feet 10 inches tall, and was built accordingly.  She was a green-eyed, black-haired home wrecker that should have been wanted in three states for manslaughter, and she could also put the beer away like a grownup.

Somewhere during the long evening, a lot more Cervazas was bought and drank, so the kid and the beauty decided they would drive into Lubbock where Joe Ely was appearing at the Palamino Club.

The kid was afoot, and so the man insisted they take his new Chevrolet Caprice into town.  He had just bought the ’66 Chevy and the only thing he was more proud of was his daughter.

It was unusually warm that evening, the moon hung there like a huge pumpkin in the bloodshot evening sky and the wind which usually growled over the plains was quiet as the kid headed down the highway, drunk on the beauty that clung to his arm (not to mention the cervezas).

The kid and the girl listened to all of Ely’s songs and the kid wasn’t ready for the night to end, when the beauty suggested they drive several miles up the highway to Lake MacKenzie and park there for a while.

The kid picked up a handy twelve pack and a square bottle of Jose Gold, and they began to partake of the liquid refreshment as soon as they cleared the city limits of Lubbock.

They parked there at the edge of the lake and did all the things that young lovers are supposed to do.  Finally, they decided to take a walk, and the kid carried the square bottle with them.

When they returned to the car after trading tequila flavored kisses, the car was sitting down on its frame in a pool of quicksand on the small spit of land.  The kid knew if he didn’t get help in retrieving the car soon, it would be history–he needed help and he needed it “post-haste”.

The tequila was having its effect on the dark-haired beauty by now, and she would have been worshipping at the porcelain altar if they would have had one, as it was, she just used the floorboard of her Daddy’s new Chevy.  The kid had no choice but to walk to a farmer’s house they had passed a few miles back and ask for assistance.

It was by now about 4 o’clock in the morning, and had started to rain, one of the six times that year it occurred.

The farmer was really angry with this rain-soaked, bedraggled individual who stood on his doorstep that morning—but the code of the west wouldn’t let him say no.  So he put on his rain gear and got on his tractor to try to pull the kid out.

The kid gingerly lifted the comatose beauty out of the way while the farmer was hooking the chain to the rear bumper.  The farmer was in a real rage and was pulling the car out as fast as he could, the kid had one hand on the wheel and the other on the open door and was trying to see through the rainstorm when the door caught on a tree stump and jerked the bumper off at one end and slewing the car around until it came to rest in a ditch.  The farmer then hooked the chain to the other bumper and gave it a mighty heave, tearing the bumper loose from its moorings on one end–but by golly, they had the car out and it still ran.

So here’s a new car with both bumpers dragging, the driver’s door torn halfway off, as the black-haired beauty hurled in the floor board and about a ton and a half of mud was tracked into the car by then.

The kid drove back to his room in the dismal swamp, the rooming house, and sent the sleepy beauty home with her father’s car.

The next morning the kid was sitting there reading the baseball box scores, when he heard what sounded like a D-9 caterpillar coming down the street.  It had a horrible rending sound as the bumpers were scraping the pavement and throwing great gobs of blacktop up while shooting sparks.  The screeching could be heard for miles.

The man could have wired the bumpers up, and he could have shut the door a little better.  But he was bringing the wreck in to show what a jerk the kid was and to demand payment on the spot. 

As the man pulled up to the front of the building, the kid could see him and the man was all but steaming.

The whole crew went out to see what had transpired the night before.  So as they made their way in the front door, the kid was making his way out the back.  The kid didn’t pick up his check, lunch box or tools.  He had a ’59 Oldsmobile and the burning of rubber was the last thing anyone heard from him.  The kid didn’t breathe easy until he reached Happy, Texas which was 200 miles to the north.

Happiness was Lubbock, Texas in his rearview mirror. 

~R.L Briggs

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

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.