Monday, June 24, 2013

A "Birds and Bees" Session

This weekend we were up before the sun to artificially inseminate the cows.  I have a love/hate relationship with breeding season.  It's labor intensive, the cows have to be brought up close for monitoring, and everyone has to be put through the chute 3 times over the course of two weeks in order to complete the process.

On Friday, we sat quietly in the pasture during the cool of the evening and observed which cows were coming into heat.  I thought it would be a relaxing break to sit in the grass and write down ear tag numbers for an hour.


The minute we sat down, my kids started asking me questions about the birds and the bees and I wanted to run far, far away. Nothing perks a child's interest like cows mounting each other in the evening. Breeding season and calving season are guaranteed educational opportunities about the one subject that makes me squirm.

When I became a mom, I was prepared to handle vomit, pee, and boogers. I had no fear of potty training, teaching long division, and cursive. But the thought of answering questions about reproduction has always made me cringe.

Of course, I would NEVER let my kids know that. Don't ever let your kids see you sweat.... or blush. Remain calm and collected even if you are perishing internally from total embarrassment.  I once read that you should approach your children's questions with only the bare minimum answers, and if they ask more questions after that, then keep giving them a little more knowledge until they are satisfied.  That way, you don't share too much too soon, and they don't feel uncomfortable.

This approach is working for us, although the questions get more complex every year.

I think kids who are raised around livestock have a more natural understanding of reproduction, and probably put the pieces together a little sooner than most.

None the less, I. die. every. time. they ask me.

OK, moving on.

The one good thing about the kids getting older is that they are a tremendous help to us. The moment they get out of the truck, they know what to do without saying a word.  They set gates in the alleyway, and gather cows without a second thought.  Years of the same routine have made them top hands in the corrals.

My kids grabbed the camera and started shooting pictures since I was busy sorting out cows. Extreme close-up of artificial insemination, anyone?

Some of the semen we picked out this year is from an Angus bull named "Hoover Dam". HA! I can't wait to see what his calves will look like next spring.  Hopefully they are solid.  We also used a calving ease bull that we were impressed with last year named Brilliance. Don't you wish you could pick out future son-in-laws from a catalog the way we pick out bulls?

The ole' antiquated squeeze chute made it through another breeding season without any incidents. We came incredibly close to buying a brand-spanking new Powder River Squeeze Chute this spring when the new CAL Ranch supply opened, but we decided to look for one at an auction instead. For some reason, a new chute always gets sifted to the bottom of the budget.


After the breeding was complete, and fly tags were inserted into all ears, we decided to ditch the work clothes and go for a hike and picnic lunch.  We are preparing the kids (mostly our 7 year old) for our big Grand Canyon hike in the fall.

The kids hiked 6 miles easily, although they weren't carrying heavy packs.

We took the South Fork trail up the canyon. It was burned pretty badly in the Wallow Fire 2 years ago, and we were literally covered in black soot by the time we were through.  There are signs of new growth among the burned toothpicks that used to be beautiful pine trees.

Of course, along the creek, things are green and growing.

It's hard to see the trail like this after knowing what it used to look like, but it was a relaxing end to the day, and a great distraction from all of the stress.

Thanks for all of your encouragement last week! I appreciated it so much!



Monday, June 17, 2013

When Life is Like a Country Song

Have you ever had one of those weeks when everything you touch turns to....manure?

Seriously. This past week was one for the toilet.

We were supposed to move last weekend but the buyer's financing fell apart in the 11th hour. Now our closing date has been moved, Realtors and lenders were nearly fired, poop hit the roof, and we won't be moving for a few more weeks.  We are currently living in a sea of boxes.

Our favorite old horse, Jake, came down with diarrhea out of the blue and we thought we were going to lose him.  We stayed with him the entire day and thankfully, he pulled through. He's a tough old man. We think we got a bad bag of feed.

We gathered a pasture of cows to move over the mountain in preparation for breeding, and one of our favorite cows ripped a chunk of her hoof off causing her to go temporarily lame. We had to leave her and her calf behind.  She's healing up nicely and we'll be hauling her over with the rest of the herd this week, but she missed being heat synchronized.  It's always something.

Our daughter is the best pitcher in her league, and literally minutes before her All-star tryouts she got her hand smashed in a door and broke a finger on her throwing hand.  That girl is tough as nails and two days later, she is playing with the broken finger taped to another finger.  When the swelling goes down, we shall see how she pitches. Right now, I'm just amazed she can throw at all.  The timing could not have been worse.

My truck has been leaving me stranded this week, and the other day I had to walk three miles to get home.  Then I hopped in the old work truck and the starter is going out on it. I hate vehicle trouble.

There were many other moments that resembled a Hank Williams song, but I'll spare you from having to get out your violin.

I've learned that the best thing to do when things go badly is kick some dirt on that crap and move on.

So thankful for a new week,


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

7 Random Things

Rabid Rally Squirrel
1. The whole community has been abuzz about rabies lately. A friend of ours was attacked by a rabid bobcat a few weeks ago when she got out of her car. It was horrible!  She's been fighting a really bad infection and has been in and out of the hospital for antibiotics. Then just last week, to scare everyone even worse, another person we know had a sick mountain lion jump into their backyard and attack their dog. The man threw a brick at the lion and it dropped the dog, but stayed in the yard. The Game and Fish Department ended up shooting the lion and warned it could be a second rabid animal attack.  Thankfully, we just found out that the rabies test was negative on the lion. Rabies isn't normally a problem in our area but everyone is holding their breath and vaccinating their animals before another attack occurs.  I know many people who carry a sidearm for protection while walking, hiking, or riding these days.  You just never know what you'll encounter on this mountain.

2. My girl just hit her very first Grand Slam HOME RUN to the fence last week with bases loaded! I, of course, was calm and collected as she hustled around those bases knocking in 4 runs. HA HA, who am I kidding? I was up out of my seat cheering wildly for my girl like an obnoxious crazy woman!!! I was so excited for her.  Her dad was coaching her big brother's game at the same time so he's heartbroken that he had to miss it.  She'll just have to do it again for him.

3. At church last Sunday, the congregation stood as the pastor read from the book of Nehemiah 8:1-12.  Suddenly, in the middle of the reading, a little girl threw an absolute screaming tantrum. Her father picked her up and walked down the aisle and she was kicking and screaming the whole way. As soon as she walked to the door, as if on cue, the pastor paused momentarily with an embarrassed look and then continued to read, "BE QUIET, for this day is holy...." The whole congregation started laughing so hard that the pastor was red-faced and had to regain his composure for a minute. The timing of that reading was so perfect that it almost seemed divine! HA!  I think every parent in the place had sympathy for that poor dad.

4. The kids and I have been taking hikes and 5 mile bike rides around the lake every day.  I'm trying to build up their endurance for a huge Grand Canyon hike we're doing this fall.  It's 10 miles each way, and I don't think that my girls are ready for it yet. We've got to get into shape!

5. We've found a place to rent for the summer months as we begin our search for land. It hasn't been lived in for quite some time so we spent the weekend cutting down knee-high weeds and tilling up some land for a little garden.  Everyone said, "why bother planting a garden at a rental?" but we couldn't imagine not having fresh summer veggies. Besides, tending to the garden is a huge stress relief.

6. Every Mother's Day my family buys me flowers to plant in the beds around the house.  Since I knew we would be moving, I planted them all in containers that could be moved to the rental house.  The addition of several hanging baskets and lots of barrels of flowers should make the new house a little more inviting when we arrive.

7. I'm waging war on the stinkin' flies this week. I can't take it anymore. They've multiplied exponentially  overnight, and I intend to employ every means of assault that money can buy, including but not limited to traps, sprays, poisons, and the swatter. Die, Fly. Die.

Still avoiding packing... one blog post at a time,