Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Trailer Driving 101 - Part 1 Driving Forward

This is my 40 foot trailer with the little piggies I haul on Thursdays.  I haul about 500-650 pigs each week in this trailer at one time.  They weigh about 10 - 15 pounds each.  Its a pretty light load, but a long load for my pickup.  My entire rig only weighs about 27,000 pounds when I'm loaded.

 I have a few friends who have livestock, but don't regularly drive the truck & trailer.  One friend asked me for a tutorial or lesson on driving with the trailer.  Even if you don't drive trucks or trailers, please scan the post & read the tailgaters section (thank you for your consideration).

So, here goes.  My dad was a great driving instructor when I was learning how to drive!  He has the MOST patience of ANYONE that I know.  He is also inventive & would spend hours letting me learn how to drive.

I did start driving a truck & trailer as soon as I had my permit (14).  Mostly, at that time I only drove in the tight spots at horse shows & backed the trailer into the place we wanted to be parked at the show (had to have a good view of the arena, with all of our friends around us).  This was because Mom has no depth perception & would always run into things, or get stuck with our 2 wheel drive truck.  But, she didn't enjoy letting me drive on the highway.

First, you need to know about how long the trailer you are pulling is.  Is it a 40 foot gooseneck (like I haul on Thursdays) or a 12 foot bumper hitch?   Most typical livestock trailers are about 24 - 28 feet.  It is also good to know how wide your trailer is.  Typical widths are 6 to 8 feet wide.  Good indicators are wether the wheel wells are inside or outside of the trailer.  Most wheels are about 6' 5" apart.

Gooseneck versus Bumper Hitch - Basics

Goosenecks will follow in your truck tracks.  You can turn MUCH tighter with a gooseneck.  Just watch your cab especially if you have a short-box truck & turn too tight.  If you are loaded, you need to watch your trailer tires when you make more than a 90degree turn.  You will be sliding the tires in the back & front axles & could potentially pop one off of the bead if you are toooo loaded & turn tightly.

Bumper Hitch trailers are great for going forward, but a little different to back.  A bumper hitch will turn tighter behind you & will have much different tracks than your truck tires. (*I will add more here later, because I haven't pulled a bumper hitch in about a month)

I would recommend getting to know how your trailer drives without a load and in wide open spaces.  Its NOT always possible, so just try to keep these few things in mind.

1 - Always turn at least 1 second later than you usually would, per 10 feet of trailer.   Meaning that if you have just a 12 foot trailer; just count "one Missippi and" between the time you would normally turn a corner and the time you NEED to with a trailer.  This will give you the extra travel room to prevent your trailer tires to jump the curb or hit an obstacle.

      For instance, with my 40 foot trailer, when I want to turn left, I drive 4  (& a half, cause I like extra room) seconds farther forward BEFORE I turn SHARPLY to the left.  If you are driving a Gooseneck, you can turn sharper than with a bumper hitch.

2 - If you are going to turn right, you need to first hug the left side of your lane before you turn the corner to the right.

     If it is an especially tight right hand turn, (and you have a long trailer) you might need some of the next lane to the left of you.  Plan AHEAD and share respectfully. 

3 - If you have mirrors that adjust OUT and away from the truck, pull them out as far as they will go & then adjust BOTH of your mirrors so that you can see your trailer tires and the area next to your trailer.

4 - You now weigh a LOT more than you did before you hooked up your trailer.  So you will need to plan farther ahead to stop your rig.  If you are heavily loaded, you will need even farther ahead to stop.  This also needs to be considered when you choose your speed.  SLOWER is better.  But, you do need to consider the flow of traffic & people passing you, might disturb your load (animals).

5 - TAILGATERS!!!  (THESE PEOPLE DRIVE ME NUTZ!!!) If you can not see BOTH mirrors of the rig in front of you, they have NO CLUE you are back there!!  It is rude to drive so close that you can't see their mirrors!  And it is DANGEROUS!  Please consider this the next time you are following a semi-truck.  Think about how far back you need to stay.  If you do decide to drive closer, you are taking your own life in your hands.  I usually hope a cow pees on the people following me!!  I have seen it happen, & I thought it was a great lesson to the angry man in the little blue car!  I only wished he was driving a convertible!

6 -  Know your hitch, & double check everything for saftey!!! Hitch your truck & trailer, then check it again!  Always check your entire rig each and EVERY time you get out of your rig.  Make it a practice to walk around starting at the front and check the following things.  (Put your light & flashers on & it will make it easier)
Front bumper (going towards passenger side)
Anything hanging under the front?
Truck Lights good?
Front Drive Tires good?  Inflated, tread good?
Passenger side - Anything hanging?
Trailer Marker lights good on front of trailer?
Back Drive Tires - Both inflated good?  (kick inside dual too!)  Anything hanging?
Hitch - All saftey chains hooked?  Hitched properly?
Trailer Marker lights on Side of trailer good?
Underside of trailer (LOOK, REALLY look!)  Floor looking good from underside?  Anything hanging, boards sagging?
Trailer tires - Good tread, Good inflation?  Anything hanging underneat axle?
Trailer gates - Latched properly?  Saftey Latch too?
Blinkers all flashing??  Bright enough & CLEAN enough to be seen??
Marker Lights all good??
    Follow same checks for driver's side as you come up to the front.  CHECKING IT ALL AGAIN!!! You can see different things from each side!

There's the basics for now.  I think that I have covered everything.  A little knowledge up front & a quick run around the rig always saves some time in the long run!!  Beter to notice a sagging floor board now, before an animal falls through!  That quick run around the truck will also let you make a list of things (like marker lights) that you need to fix after you haul this load.

Just slow down a little, plan ahead for turns and stops.  And you should be good to go!

By the way, I still count in my head the extra seconds when I'm hauling the big trailer.  But, I also make really wide turns when the trailer isn't hooked up (drives my husband nutz!)

Happy hauling!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm a GIRL, but I'm not dumb!

So, yesterday I get to take our truck to the shop.  Nothing, major, just a bunch of little things.  It is nearing 100K miles and the engine warranty will run out.  I wanted the dealer to check it out during the normal oil change, with a parking brake issue, and there was a recall on a steering part in the front end.

As always, I have 3 kids in tow.  I drove 2 hours to get to this dealer, and had my wonderful mom meet me to pick us up.  I get there and the "Service Advisor" hurries to check me in.  As I am trying to explain the front end issues and the recall, he lets me know "that he's seen this in over heavy duty trucks, like 2500's."  "You'll need some serious front end work done, not just the U-Joints in your front hubs.  You'll need a new pitman arm and some steering parts to make it stable." 

 Hmmmm, so you glance under my truck, say I don't need the recall part, even though the dealer sent me a card with my VIN number on it that says it does. And then you can tell me that I'll need $2500- $3000 worth of work on my front end?  INTERESTING, since I had my front end looked at twice in the last month by 2 different shops.  Once when I had the clutch bearings replaced before Thanksgiving.  I asked him if the front end looked good & he saw anything else that needed done.  He told me that my U-Joints were the noise that Honey had heard & they would need replaced in the next month or so.  Good deal.  When I had new front tires installed, I asked the service man at Goobs to check out the ball joints & steering, because I still noticed shaking when I hit a bump.  Goob's man said it all looked good!  He did also mention the U-Joints were going to need replaced, but that was the only thing he could see.

Interesting.  The dealer guy, Dennis, called me 2 hours, and asked "WHERE ARE YOU??".  (take a deep breath) I'm at my parents, like I told you, I was going to have someone come pick me up.  "Oh, thats right, you did tell me that."  "I was going to have you look at the underside of this truck.  It has some SERIOUS problems!"  (DEEEP breath)  "You are going to need to replace the upper and lower ball joints and the pitman arm like I told you.  And the technician says that if you don't replace them soon you're going to need a NEW AXLE"  I take a deep breath.  The repair total had escalated to over $3000.

I told him I didn't know what to say.  I told him that it was interesting that two different people had looked at the underside of my truck and did not see that any of these things were wrong.  "Well, they weren't trained Dodge Mechanics, and they weren't inspecting the steering system"  (REALLY Deep breath)  "You know, this is amazing, you diagnosed all of these problems with a glance under the truck, that no one else had seen in the past month," I said.  He again disagreed with me that anyone qualified had looked at the front end.  (WOW, you don't have to be a "DODGE" man to tell if the ball joints are bad).  I told him that I was very frustrated and didn't know where he and I had gotten off on the wrong foot.

I'll quit going into details now, but about 2 seconds later, he called me RUDE and ABUSIVE.  Hmm, because I was questioning him, and his practice of diagnosing a problem (which there was a recall for a related part) in the driveway.  WOW!  He told me I had no Idea how a large truck worked.  INTERESTING.  Then how is it that I (not my husband) have put over 500,000 miles on 3 trucks (a 7.3L Ford F350, a 6.0L Ford, and now this 3500Ram).  I have never had to do an entire front end of this depth.  And certainly not at 100,000 miles.  I think the 7.3L had the ball joints redone at about 250K miles.

I have NEVER been insulted this much by ANYONE!!!  I was really upset and hurt by his words when I just questioned his diagnosis.

Wow, I think he just saw a little girl (I'm 5foot nothin for those of you I don't know in person) with 3 small children getting out of "her husband's truck" and heard "shakes when I hit a bump" and thought "SUCKER".  I don't believe anything a service advisor says.  I do have my oil changed by a mechanic, so they look at all the other details of my rig (I specifically ask them to look everything over).  But, I can and have changed the oil on all of my trucks myself, so that I am familiar with how everything in my engine looks.  When Honey drives, he says something if he notices a sound (like the U-Joints).  Wow, we all missed a totally ruined front end!  LOL!

Anyhow, the oil was changed.  He never bothered to check into my brake problem, and did not check the engine over (the 2 things that I DID want looked at).  So if you are in Iowa.  Do NOT go to Granger Motors, and have Dennis as your service advisor.

We will be buying a Ford again next time.  I think they have resolved all of their Diesel issues.  (We had a 6.0 Diesel last time, enuf said)

Sorry for the Total Rant!  I just had to get it off my chest.  I have talked with his manager, (he didn't sound that he was suprised) and will be writing a letter to the Dealer.  But, I will NEVER bother to grace thier door again!!

A good service department is worth its weight in gold!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Well, we've been running at full speed around here! Our list from the last 3 days...

Farm Wife Friday, It was my turn. So this means that 2 girlfriends and their kids come to the house and clean, organize, clean, eat, paint, clean, and decorate!!! WOW!! Those girls can really work!! My living rooms are now partially decorated. Yes, I know that I've lived in this house for over a year... But, I have a fear of decorating, or hanging something wrong. So, I just don't do it. My last house was done by my Grandma, after she couldn't stand (a year of)bare walls.

I will even have pictures on my walls of MY family!! I have curtains (& they're hung!!)! And Abby brought a great desk that she CurbShopped. Crazy, 'cause its a great little antique desk. MamaP is fixing some pictures for me & putting them in a custom matted frame of our last name that I bought.

AMAZING!! (& Honey even liked the house, its more AMAZING!!!)

Then after the girls left, I got a phone call that I was late to take Freedom & Ultimate to be ultrasounded. So, we hooked & loaded & ran. It was only 7 miles away, but I detest being late. (nevermind, that Honey forgot to tell me about the appointment).

Saturday, we left the house at 8 after choring & set up a portable Corral at the pasture and drove all the cows to the corral. We sorted & hauled 3 loads of cows & 2 loads of calves home. Just Honey & I with all the munchkins in the truck. Then we did chores in the dark & had Squeak's 2nd birthday party.

Yup! Momma's sad! My little man is 2!!! No longer a baby!! As I type this he is running around the house chasing J.Cowgirl with a rope, while he is wearing nothing but a hat & diaper. TOOO CUTE! Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie, NIECE, & nephew came down & celebrated with us too. It was wonderful, even if we were sooo tired our eyelids were drooping.

Today, we rolled out of the house at 7 (after choring) and hauled 3 more loads home, then went to work feeding everything & watering. We sorted & weaned the calves & rolled out hay for 3 groups of cows. The calves are eating ok, & went to the hay right away. Winter has hit, so we have to check all the waterers & put in tank heaters in some tanks, & chores generally take twice as long.

But, I LOVE THIS LIFE!! It was a wonderfull weekend working side-by-side with my Honey and kids! Even though, we're all dog tired, it was great!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Water N Poo

I love this little video. And after the RAINY wet day that I had, I was thankful that I wasn't covered in Pig Poo like I have been in weeks past. So, I thought I might direct you to Water N Poo. I can't figure out how to just put the You Tube Video in my screen....
So you'll have to click on the link.

TRUST ME, Its Cute!!

Hope your day isn't as wet as mine!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

wow, nothing to Say

I've been gone.

Kansas City Royal - Went well

2 more calf sales - Market is really wierd!

Custom Cows sent home - Good RIDDANCE!

went to Dentist yesterday. very. bad. deal.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Finding Good Help

Well, we live in the middle of nowhere. When I drive out to go check cows, this is my view for about 2 miles.

I enjoy living out in the country, but it is hard to find good help. But, having a family farm, means that I DO have some help.

My help is little right now, but they're learning! My Cowgirl is great. She can open gates, and with the help of a good dog, she can move cows pretty good!

Here are our cows grazing after being moved to some fresh grass. Now is once again a busy time of year. We are starting to wean, and get some club calves ready to sell, and the beef calves have been banded.

We are also going to harvest some GROUND BEEF this month. We have some 100% grass-fed animals that we harvest for GROUND BEEF or Steak-burger, as some call it. This is a premium product that is MUCH leaner than you can find in any store. You will have to add some water to get this meat to cook, its THAT lean.

If you would like to have some of this STEAK-BURGER, e-mail me or leave a comment, and I'll give you a blogger (*smiles*) discount and if you're close, I'll deliver it free too!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pasture Pictures

A week or so ago, we invited Diana to come take pictures while we moved cows. (She's designing a super fantastic website for us)

I didn't really tell her what to expect, other than, we were going to move cows.
When she was close, I asked her if she or her husband could drive a stick shift, & what type of vehicle they drove. Well, yes, her husband can drive a stick, & they brought the van. I told her we'd meet her in town & they could take the Jeep from there. Oh, but they could drive there she assured me. I apologised & explained that we would be driving through a mile of pasture before we even got to the place where we would ride to the cows.

So, her husband was excited that he would get to drive the Jeep (CJ-5 & he had one in High School). The followed us the 7 miles to the pasture & we explained (the basics) of what we were going to do & where they should drive & follow.

So Honey & I rode out about 100 acres with them following in the Jeep. We got them parked a little back from the eventual gate & we went to gather the cows. Honey went South & I went North. We grouped the cows from about a 130 acre piece. Great, we had a new calf. But Momma Cow wanted nothing to do with us putting the calf in the saddle with Honey. So she was a little slow moving with a still-wet calf. That's ok, we like to walk them if they're moving in the right direction.
Then the cows saw the Jeep! The headed straight for it. I didn't know if Diana & her husband would get nervous or upset. & Heaven forbid they honk the horn. We wouldn't get any pictures then, because they would have to go in front & lead the cows (honking) the rest of the way. But, I was able to get the cows off the Jeep and headed back towards the gate.
As usual with a group of cows once an old cow found the gate, she knew where she was going. Thank goodness, because we had added about 20 new cows, who didn't know the way.
We were able to keep the little calf going with his cow & eventually herded them to the gate. Honey hopped off his horse & tried to grab the little guy again & throw him in the saddle, but Momma-Cow wanted to eat his lunch rather than let him grab her calf. Koda jumped right in front of her without any nudging (Thank GOD for a great Cow-Horse!). So, the little guy got to wade across the creek on his own.
Below, you see the picture that I have always wanted. Us moving the cows up the hillside. The first time we moved cows up this hill, I thought it was BEAUTIFUL. And Diana captured it beautifully!
So, I hope you enjoyed our little cattle drive. I sure did! And once again THANK YOU DIANA for the beautiful pics. They will look great on our website (& on our wall)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blogger and my cell phone ate my pictures

I had some great picture posts.
One that honey snapped of me with Squeak on my back while we were fixing the manure spreader....Adventures in BabyWearing on the Ranch

A pic of A.Cowgirl riding 'Koda our Stud after we pulled him out of the mares & moved cows

A pic of Squeak leading 7-up around. The TRUE reason I saved him (other than I couldn't imagind putting him down)

So, as soon as I find them, I will post them....or re-create them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pasture Picture

To me, this picture is great. (taken at the end of July) You see that this is a first calf heifer that we raised, and she will probably wean about 60-70% of her own body weight!!! Wow, and she is still in good condition. She won't need too much extra feed this winter to get her ready for her next calf.

I'm very proud of her. And, she is one that I picked to keep. The horse girl in me likes a little chrome (white) on my cows. And, somehow we didn't notice that she was horned and not scurred, so she has a pretty little set of horns to look at too.

I know, I'm wierd. My cattle choices aren't typical, neither are my management choices. If you could read the tags of these two.... You would read....."Baby Joy"

Well.... that's her name. I can't remember her number. Just her name. Even the kids know her name. Honey saw how I tagged the calf & laughed. He knows I can't remember numbers, and why should I when she has a name. Yes, the calf will get another tag at weaning with his "proper number"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Once again, life has gotten in the way of blogging. LOL.

A few tidbits, WE HAVE PUPPIES
8 puppies, 6 females, 2 males and only 2 are blue merle's

We made Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
I will have pictures and blog posts soon, I PROMISE

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wonderful Week

Well, we're back from State Fair! We had tons of fun and the calves showed pretty well too!

A.Cowgirl & Freedom (her heifer) did pretty well. She was outshown and should have done better. But, its really hard to walk your heifer fast with her head held above your head. And the girl that out showed her is one of the best in the country. I think that she has won the Maine-Anjou Jr National Showmanship Award for several years in a row. So, for A.Cowgirl's first big show, we were VERY proud of her. That's why we let A.Cowgirl show HER heifer.
Freedom was named Reserve Grand Champion Winter Heifer, so we're happy with how the heifer looked.
The bull we took was a little sore on his front right show day. But Honey showed him thru it & held his head so it wasn't too bad. He would take a light step every 5th or 10th step. The bull looked great and was named Grand Champion Winter Bull.
All in all, it was a good week, we had some friends stop by on Friday & enjoyed petting & playing with Freedom & Ultimate (the bull).

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Off to Fair!

Well, we're off to fair. The hired man is all set up, the cows are all checked.

But.... I stillhave a huge list of to do things!

See you in a week, I should have tons of pictures!!

I'll be tweeting!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Whew!!! Nothing died & THEY're HOME

Whew, well, you might have guessed, but my family has been gone ALL week. Yup All of them. Honey had planned on taking A.Cowgirl & J. to his hometown County Fair in Illinois to show Freedom & the Steer. I needed to stay home to do chores & take care of the calves that we're going to show @ State Fair & trying to sell for show calves. Late in the day on Sunday, Honey's brother called & said that they wanted to have Squeak come too. They would watch him during the day & Grandma would have him at nite. Because 3 kids & fitting 2 calves would be WAYYYY to much for Daddy to handle by himself. o.k.? Can I do this??

Can I really stay

Well......I did it!! I got lots done outside & wasn't in the house more than 10 min at a time while the sun was up.

And....NOTHING DIED. You see, most every time that Honey is gone, something died. 8 years ago, he was showing in Denver & I lost 5 (yup 5 out of 8) calves & his dog was hit on the road.
So, nothing dying was a HUGE accomplishment.

And, If you read my tweets you know that A.Cowgirl did really well & the steer won Reserve Grand over all on Wednesday. This was a huge show. There were 297 calves shown each day.

So, I met them in DesMoines @ my parent's house to trade trucks (honey took theirs, cause I had to haul pigs). That little steer I tweeted (he bloated really bad) about was doing ok, just a little bit of bloat (don't worry, I took some pictures, so I'll blog about bloating later).

So, we get home about dark, and all of us are doing chores (WOW!! its great to have my ranchhands back). And we hear a goat crying. At one point it screams, & I ask "who's killing my goat??" Meaning that the dogs were chasing it or had one of the cows stepped on a goat? Nobody sees the goats. We had seen LadyBell & Checkers on the other side of the road with 7-up when we got home.

We get the air let off of the bloated calf (again) and I went to the south end of the barn to carry buckets the J had so graciously filed, and still hear a goat crying. I looked under the wagons (remember its getting dark). HMMM, I carry 2 buckets to the cows (the OLD babies in the barn). Lacey (my pet cow who is blind) starts walking out and trips on the poured water pad, & steps in the hole. A goat SCREEEEEAAAAMMMMS. YIKES!!! I holler for honey & go running to the hole. I stick my hand in the hole (really dark & can't see) & I feel ......HORNS. I grab his little horn & PULLLLLLL. Billy Goat is stuck in the hole. HONEYYYY! He's so fat I have to re-grab and use my legs to pull him out. Billy is usually VERY anti-social & after I pulled him out, I checked legs & stomach & he seemed fine. But he just stood there looking around & trying to figure out if he was ok. He let me pet him again & seemed ok.

WOW!! He got lucky! How did he fall in feet first?? Did a cow kick him? They usually drink out of the calf tank, WHY did he have to go in the cow pen? Wow, he was lucky that he didn't go head first or he'd be drowned. I guess we're lucky he has horns, so he didn't get hurt too bad when Lacey stepped on him. She just squished him farther down in the hole. Its a 6 ft tube that sits below an automatic waterer.

So, they made it home & we're all laying in bed snuggling & talking 90 miles a minute.

AND...........Nobody died while Honey was gone. THANK GOD!!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Not much of anything .....oh yeah the dog story....

Well, my house is quiet. TOO quiet. So, I'm going to blog.

The tanning process is stalled in the Salting Stage. So, its really icky looking and won't work great for pictures yet.

So, I'll tell you how I almost killed Honey's dog yesterday. You know, his sidekick, the dog who worships him & about died when he quit working for Summit Farms, & got an inside (can't take your protective dog to work everyday) job.

I didn't really mean to kill him. I PROMISE!!!! That's why they call them ACCIDENTS.

So, a little prologue.....

Rough morning, Insurance adjustor came & we didn't quite settle our claim.

Honey has been gone overnight so Chilli (HIS dog) is REALLY clingy. AND Rosie is also REALLY clingy! She is pregnant & ready to pop. She won't leave my side. Both times she has had pups, the first one was born on or under my feet.

I went outside to chore & left Rosie on the porch. Praying she wouldn't climb under the dresser or behind the deep freeze to have her pups.

While I was choring, Chilli rolled in something REALLY nasty smelling (something dead for at least a week). So I hopped in the Farm truck to go haul hay home from the field & told Chilli to "stay there & watch the house". Meaning that he was free to go roll in the dead stuff again cause I didn't want a stinky dog in the cab of the truck.

I got to the pasture and backed up to a couple of bales of hay & loaded them on the bed with our HydraBed ( ). I start to pull away and hear an AWFUL sound. Hmm, sounds like the Hydraulics are whining. I turn around in the seat to check how the bale is sitting exactly & OH MY GOD!!!!!!! I see Chilli's little face SQUISHED between the bale & the Headache Rack! Oh my God, Oh My God, Oh My God!

It felt like it took FOREVER to get those bales unloaded & off of him!!!!!! The whole time his face is squished & his body is squished & I know he is suffocating, & being crushed. Oh my God, Oh My God, Oh My God! Oh my God, Oh My God, Oh My God!

He had jumped on the flatbed & I didn't see him. He likes to lay down right behind the cab. AND HE DIDN'T JUMP OFF (in his defence he is trained to never get off the truck unless he is told to). OH MY GOD I JUST KILLED HONEY's DOG!!!!

The bales were finally off of him, I jumped out of the cab & petted him. He had jumped up and was panting really fast, but appeared fine. Felt legs & abdomen, no apparent injuries. I asked him to get off the truck. He jumped off fine, walked around ok, jumped in the cab ok. Still panting REALLY fast, with a VERY elevated heart rate.

VET, must get to the vet, to listen to his lungs and see if he has popped one, or hurt his diaphram.

I flew into town, & Dr Miller was @ lunch. So, we waited. Yes, with the dead stinky panting dog in the front seat. OH MY GOD, I almost killed Honey's Dog. Please let his lungs be good!!!

I waited @ Casey's & got a fountain DrPepper (I NEEEDED one!) , a couple of pieces of pizza, and a box of Nutty Bars. (TOTAL nervous eating) & some water for Chilli.

Hopped back in the truck and again checked his abdomen for any issues, I couldn't feel anything abnormal.

I offered him a pizza crust & he did not hesitate. {Animals won't usually eat if there are internal issues} He ate 2 pieces of pizza and a nutty bar while we were waiting.

Dr Miller listened to his lungs for quite a while & both sides sounded good. No issues with his diaphram & his intestines had good functioning sounds, & nothing felt abnormal.

WHEW, I didn't kill the dog. Well, at least today.

Chilli is still doing good today & acting normal. No puppies yet either.

Just another day on the Ranch.....

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gol darn gone & done it......again

I know, I was just really into the groove of blogging this spring. Then summer hit, and I quit. Well, I didn't really quit blogging, I just ran out of time in the day to blog on a regular basis.
So......In a nutshell in the last month we have
Hauled Pigs
Fed Calves, tied up calves, washed calves, and worked with the show calves on a daily basis.
Rode horses and ponies
Played with the goats
Harvested 2 more chickens
Harvested 2 beef
Made LOTS of hay 55 hauled home, 78 in one field & still more in another field
NOT registered for school today

Things that are on my list to do.....

There are tons, but the one that I really want to blog about is tanning hides.
I saved the hide from the last beef that was harvested. It's been salted, and now needs to be processed or tanned. We didn't save the brain, so I think that I'm going to use Alum to tan the hide.

Well, I'm off to bed, so I can be out and about at 5am.
Night Y'all

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A. Cowgirl's FIRST Cattle Show

A couple of weekends ago we took A.Cowgirl & Sibs to a cattle show. This was a little small town deal, & perfect for A.Cowgirl & Freedom's (her heifer) first outing. She had tons of fun. She asks her daddy every night "do we get to get up @ 5 and go wash Freedom?". So, she did some of everything at the show. Like here she is blowing the hair. She did this for about an hour.

She loves this heifer & the heifer is good to her too. It is a bonus that this heifer is actually REALLY good looking.

A little bit too spread out, but you get the general picture. By the way, we raise Maine Anjou cattle. Freedom is a purebred and is the ORIGINAL coloring of the breed. This breed has been crossbred so much that many of the calves are black (& that's ok). But so many people forget this, and asked (about a million times) if she was a Shorthorn. No, she's not a Shorthorn, just a great Red & White Maine.
I like the red ones, and they are even better if they have a little chrome (white). Guess that's just the horsey girl in me wanting some chrome.

This picture is so cute. The arena was really deep for A.Cowgirl (above her ankles) and Freedom got away from her at the end. The judge picked out the lineup (placing) and A.Cowgirl had NO CLUE that she had won the class. Here is her face right before I told her that she did great AND she WON. You can see Daddy was right there in the ring with her to rescue her when she had some problems & support her mentally.

When they went back in for the Champion Drive. A.Cowgirl was happier and even stopped her from getting away again. She also won again. She was "crowned" Grand Champion New Calf Crop.


Did I mention this calf is out of my 'pet' cow Lacey? Well, she is, so I have a pretty soft spot for Freedom too.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

PFI Conference

HMMMM. That's what I'm still thinking about the PFI conference on Making Sense of Meat Marketing.

The conference as a whole was pretty good. But, it was more of a "big picture" day. And I need the DETAILS! The Devil IS in the Details; & he's giving me fits!!!

There were a couple of big points that were helpful to reinforce in my mind.

1- You are not selling "meat". If they want just meat, they can go to Wal-Mart.
I need to remember that we are selling 60% "Story" and 40% Meat. We are in the people business, not the Meat buisness when I am marketing. This means that I have to take off my production hat sometimes & put on my salesman's hat.

2 - SELL HALVES & QUARTERS!!! It was reiterated over and over (in a great way) that this will be your most profitable, and easiest sale.

Sooooooo, the question now is how to pursue the DETAILS.

And, I haven't mentioned that we have recieved the EQUIP grant for a indoor finishing facility.
We have decided to go ahead and build this barn. We WILL make some major modifications to the conventional methods of using this barn. But I do believe that this barn will allow us to make our animals much more comfortable in a GREAT variety of conditions.

I'm still working on several things that I will share in the days to come. Most importantly is to write a great but yet concise "story" of our Ranch and vision for our cattle. In addition, we will work on our goals for the new Ranch & our game plan.

I'll probably share most of these and ask for tons of imput.

As always, thanks for reading and supporting me.

OH, almost totally forgot, a couple of beef have their final appointment this week, so I'll be calling everyone to finalize any cutting instructions.

Stay cool in this heat!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New 'Do

So, y'all have seen the pictures of my baby boy's beautiful hair. I think I mentioned that it is gone!
Here is a great picture of Squeak & Chilli riding the 4-wheeler. (no they didn't go anywhere, but Chilli REALLY wanted to go move some cows, so he hopped on)

Here's the "before" pic. Daddy & Squeak all hairy. See the deal was that Daddy, HAD to get a real haircut, not just a buzz with the clippers & then I would cut Squeak's hair.

Squeak was NOT into the haircut. We had to pull out the binki to hold him a little bit still. Look at the hairdresser's face. He was giving her FITS!

Here's the finished product. I even got a little smile from DADDY!

I will say that he went from the look of an angel to a troublemaker in a couple of snips. But he's back to my little angel again. Man, boys need their haircut ALL the time!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I did it again

I have been a blogging perfectionist. SORRY!!

I had gotten so used to actually using pictures & posting 3x a week, that if I couldn't do it "perfectly" I didn't blog.

WELL, I'm done. Being a perfectionist that is.

I WILL figure out how to mobile blog.

I will blog without pictures.

AND, you'll probably get to see all of our springtime bussiness sometime during the winter.

So.....Right now everyone is STILL asleep (honey is @ his town job, bless his heart).

Yesterday, we went with 2 extra guys & moved cows from the hill top, to the center pasture. This means "over the hill and through the creek to center pasture we went" (sing it with the song people, think "grandmothers house we go")

I know, its funnier in MY head!

With the guys that we had helping and Honey we went through 2 CASES of beer. I know this might not seem like a ton for some, but our case had been in our fridge for 2 months! (we keep some for when other guys come to work cows) OH WELL, they had fun & didn't mind a girl driving the truck. (btw, I don't drink beer. I'm a whiskey girl)

Well, I'll try to post short snippets more often.

But, I do LOVE to TWEET. Click the above right hand corner and FOLLOW ME! We can tweet together.

One day this week, my tweet was the same as Pioneer Woman's. We both had Cow Poo in the wrong place!! (Mine was on the Playset, hers on the porch)


Monday, May 25, 2009

Sick boy gets his favorite - PANCAKES - And a Recipe for you

Well, my little boy (NEWLY HAIRCUTTED boy) is felling ICKY. So, am making his favorite, pancakes!

I have been inspired by the gals over at Iowa Corn Dog Blog, so here's our recipe!

2 cups Flour (I use Pauls Grains Whole Wheat)
2tbsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil (I use whatever variety I can find locally)
6 Tbsp Sugar (haven't found any Iowa Sugar, so sometimes I use honey instead)
2 C Milk (Picket Fence)
2 Eggs (from the back yard, YUM)
1/2 tsp salt (I usually forget to add it, and they still taste great)

I keep all the dry ingredients in a jar, so when I'm ready to make my Pancakes, I just throw 2+ cups in a bowl, and add the wet ingredients.

This tastes great with the whole wheat flour, and even better when I use Local Honey.

To top our Pancakes we use REAL Maple Syrup (anyone know of Iowa Maple Syrup?) or Honey.


I'll post the pics of Squeak and the Girls' haircuts later.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where have I been???

Everywhere, but online.....

More like where haven't I been???

The chickens got a new pen. And then they got out, ALOT. And then the dogs got 9 of them. BAAAADDDDD DOGGIES!!! Now you (doggies, the "pups") get to wear your pretty little shock collars ALL. the. time. And Momma will let you know that the chickens, they have started "biting" back. [meaning that I buzz them with a 4 or 5 when they start stalking my chicks]. It has now been 5 days with no more chicks dissappearing. They only touch the chicks, not the old hens or rooster.

This pretty little bruise (and 6 of its cousins) came from me setting up the harrow, and harrowing the pastures. Yes, I started taking my Floradix (iron supplement) and we have eaten all the liver left in the deep freeze. (ick, but at least I haven't ever had to have a blood transfusion) They have wanted to a couple of times, cause my iron was sooooooo low.

This prettly little bull, had his horns tipped. He was in the beef pen, but he grew up really nice, and he still has his nuts, so he might get to "visit" a couple of cows at the house this summer.

This heifer, however, got to get her horns surgically removed. We prefer to de-horn at birth or weaning, but sometimes we miss them. This heifer appeared to be scurred (little buds that won't grow very big) at weaning.
If we don't de-horn the heifers, they become cows with GREAT BIG HORNS, that get in the way. AND, they learn how to "use" their horns and can be very mean to the other cows and can even cut them or puncture them with their horns.
I only had a couple of minutes this morning, then, I'm back outside working. I'll post more snipets, and hopefully get some good pics soon too!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Well, you know the first two of my children are girls. And this last Squeaky one has thrown me for a loop many times. This week he has decided NOT to sleep. EVER! And he's not into Sign Language or talking anymore (he did some of both), just SCREAMING.
He stopped screaming to eat the last Thin Mint. He found it by crawling on TOP of the table, and fishing through 2 boxes of cookies. (Darn mamas, for using the bathroom anyways)
Then, I let him clean out the "throw everything in here out of the truck bag"

Bullets & fencing pliers! Daddy's boy!

Then he promptly LOADED his diaper. Which I could hear from the laundry room. DEFINATELY Daddy's boy!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

She's Gone

My old White Truck is gone. The salvage people came and picked her up yesterday. Here are some detailed pictures.

We bought this truck when I was pregnant with J. So.... I've had 'er for about 6 years.

You can see the dash is COMPLETELY gone! Wow!

The interior is gone!

The aluminum rims melted down, puddles of aluminum anyone?

This shows how much plastic is in our motors! TONS!! Because its all GONE!

She barely fit on the truck! Whew, no room to spare!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Addicts! We're All Addicts

Yup! I admit it, I have a problem! I'm back on the "Sauce". No, people, I'm not an Alcoholic. I'm a DrPepperAholic! I'm seriously addicted to it, AGAIN. You see, I've given up this wonderful juice, 3 times, easily.

Yup, 3 children, 3 separate periods without Dr. Pepper. Each time, as soon as I discovered I was pregnant, I happily (well maybe not with a smile on my face) gave up my habit. At one point late in Squeak's Pregnancy, I was getting a checkup, & my Midwife asked if I still drank any pop. My pre-schooler answered, "Yes, but Daddy always drinks all of it after she gets only two drinks". Yup, he HELPED me not drink my Dr Pepper.

And now, (NO I'M Not Pregnant!) just over a year after my Squeaky one was born, I'm up to at least 3 cans a day, with more, much more if we go out to eat. Crap! Not good! I wake up and I NEED a DrPepper. I'm upset and I NEED a Dr Pepper. Huff! That's it! I'm quitting AGAIN!

While I'm at it, I'm OUTING some other people I know that are Addicts.

The cows are the premium ALFALFA. They will MOOO, and MOOO, and Beller and SCREAM at you until you feed them. BTW, these are the "pets" in the barn who have "special" babies. Wether they are Great babies, or sick babies, they are special mamas. So, we give in, and feed them a little Alfalfa so we can talk without the screaming. But, they are being weaned! No more Alfalfa for you! You will eat regular hay outside the barn. And you will like it! Or, you will at least tolerate it untill the grass is really green.

Oh, and can you see Duke (the horse in the back). He's addicted too! That's why he's in a separate pen, cause he will chase the cows, to get to the good stuff!

And 7-Up! He's addicted too! He has started screaming if he doesn't get enough Hay. Asking 7-up if he needs more alfalfa, is like asking a crack addict if he needs another hit (or whatever you call it).

Chilli is addicted to....The couch! And Snuggling the girls! Wait, he's supposed to be an AGGRESSIVE, Protective MEAN cow-dog! He is, but he loves to roll & snuggle on his back with the girls too. This is a picture of Lola, but you get the idea, girls playing and rolling around with ...GASP! CowDogs. Huh, I tell ya, we need to get these dogs to remember their place. Working Cows!

Uh, oh! Nevermind. Cause Chilli & Rosie sleep in the bed WITH ME! I can't have cold toes, so ..... they get to stay. And I love to watch the girls & Squeak play with the dogs!!

And Squeak! He's addicted to his BINKI! EEEK! Really addicted! When he was a BABY (can you hear me whining?) he would not take a binki (I din't give him one at first because I was nursing). In January, (when he was over a year old) he found one at the bottom of the toybox. And he hasn't let it go since then! Uh, Oh Well. I think I'll let him keep it for a while. He's just too cute to deny.
And, I KNOW!!! He needs a haircut! But, he's my BABY (enough with the whining!)
We're all addicts! What are you addicted to???

Monday, April 13, 2009

Kenneth Eugene Smith - Obituary

How do you write an obituary for one of your very best friends that you have had for 23+ years?

Kenneth & I met just before Christmas when I was 10 years old. It was love at first sight! He was THE best listener and friend I have EVER had. He knew exactly what to do when I was sad, mad, hurt, frustrated, upset, heartbroken, lonely, and happy. He was ALWAYS there for me. He never, ever let me down. In college, when I was figuring out life, I would drive home, and FIRST, go to the barn to talk with Kenneth. Sometimes, I would just come home to talk with him, & not even bother to talk with my parents. Kenneth was the only person who understood me during my akward teen years.

Just wanted to let you know that my heart is truly CRACKED in two. I know he had a wonderful life. I know that he simply went to sleep & woke up in Heaven, but it still hurts. I know that my girls have cried most of the evening. My Honey called my dad, & Honey found him.
Yes, Kenneth was a horse, but. he. was. my. horse!

You might think this picture is morbid. But A.Cowgirl wanted me to take her picture one last time with Kenneth.

He was the first horse I ever had. I was 10, and had wanted a horse for EVER (really like 5 solid years!). My sister named him after a boy in her class and my Grandpa. Kenneth really was a person, you just couldn't see it from the outside.

I learned how to ride with Kenneth, and how to fall off. Kenny was technically a pony because he was 14.1 (feet trimmed) and he rode like a pony. Kenneth was born with a deformed front left foot. The first farrier he saw (and most everyone that trimmed or shod him) was amazed that he could walk, let alone be ridden and run. His foot was litterally shaped like a J, frog included. I always told them it was because he had SO much love for children that's why he could be ridden.

When I was about 12, I wanted to ride "Indian Style". You know from the movies how they rode bareback, and would shoot arrows under their horse's neck. Well, Kenny was too fat, and my legs were too short; but you couldn't tell me that. I would sidepass up to the well (it was a step up), get on, walk into the grassy area, try to get on the side and ask him to walk, FALL OFF, under his stomach. Literally under him. He would carefully stop and look down to make sure I was ok. He would step around me and go eat some grass. I would catch him, and take him back to the well to get on and start all over again. After about an hour, he would automatically walk to the well, so that I could get back on again.

Kenneth ALWAYS took care of me and NEVER stepped on me, no matter how stupid I was or how I fell off, or under him. He has done this with my girls, and everyone who ever rode him.

Kenneth taught most of the kids 10 years younger than me in Warren County how to ride. I showed him for 6 years, then my sister showed him for several years, then Sarah, the neighbor girl, then 2 other girls showed him, and so on and so forth. He went on trail rides with tons of people in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. I showed Kenneth in everything! Our favorite was Trail Class, because you didn't have to be a great mover, but a great thinker, and take your time to do everything just right. In Trail, Kenneth & I beat a AQHYA World Champion Trail Horse. She came to our 4-H Invitational two months before the World Show that year. It was awesome to work a course with Kenneth, because he would seem to read my mind & put his feet exactly where I was thinking I wanted them, with slightly any cues.

When I was in college, I wanted to compete in a Rodeo Queen competition. At that time I was riding my mom's stud horse, and the contest would not allow me to bring a stallion. I tried my sister's show horse, and did not get along with her (Sister has long legs, mine are very short). So, Kenneth was pulled out of the pasture, and tuned up in 24 hours. Once again we instantly clicked and I was ready to roll. At the beginning of this rodeo (totally unknown to me) they set off a LOUD boom firecracker. This is the biggest rodeo in IA (at the time) and I was standing with all the other contestants in a mob of over 200 horses, 4 of the other girls' horses freak, rear, and jump. Kenneth lifts his head and looks around like "what are you upset about"?

I could go ON, and ON, and ON with Kenneth stories! I just might sprinkle them from time to time. I won't forget him, EVER. He will live on in my life, as a wonderful person. Cause he was a people, not just a horse.

Work on the Ranch

This is me. You can see me now. I don't like pictures, but I put this one up because you NEVER know what will happen when you work on the Ranch.

I have been twittering TONS lately. If you read my tweets or FOLLOW ME, you'll get real time updates on whats going on around the ranch.

So, now the story, because NO, that's not mud on my chin, it is a series of scabs and bruises.

After a quiet day Saturday, while Honey worked in town, we hopped in the dodge & went out to check cows. No new calves, but @#@$% there is Little Red in the pond! We saw her calf walking around scared, and managed to get him roped & tied down in the back of the truck.

We get over to the pond, and she is just beyond a drop off of 20 feet. We only had a rope in the truck, so we tied a knot in the end & hooked it up to the hitch.

Yes, you can see where this is going. As we were trying to get her out of the mud, THE ROPE BROKE. I had my back turned to the truck & my arm over my head, & I GOT LUCKY. The rope only hit my chin, not my neck, or my eye, or anything worse.

Instantly, my whole face swelled, inside and out. Only a little bit of blood from the rope burn. But MASSIVE swelling.

We left the cow, went to the house, I grabbed some Advil, Honey grabbed the tow strap & a chain, & we went back out. Honey hooked up the chain & strap & I drove the truck this time (couldn't hardly move from the pain, but I was NOT going to let that cow stay stuck). We hauled her up the hill & gave her a little grain. She was doing pretty good & hadn't been stuck that long, because she tried to stand right away. We didn't let her stand, but made sure that no other cows ate her grain. We (I mean Honey, cause I couldn't see 'cause it hurt SO much) put the calf in the trailer for the night & gave him a bottle of milk replacer). We got the kids in the house & fed them (sorry, I didn't get to put Mama P's fish in the oven). As soon as honey had it all under control, I took a pain pill & a fresh ice pack and went to bed.

Now, almost 2 days later, this picture is what my face looks like. The swelling is down dramatically, but it still looks like I have a huge dip in my mouth (I don't).

I have a post brewing in my head about how we judge people by their appearances. We hauled some hay on Sunday (I drove a truck & slept, he loaded & took care of the kids); and I paid for fuel twice. At each station they gawked & wouldn't look me in the eye. I think they thought that Honey had hit me, or I was deformed or something. We really need to think about all of the thoughts about others we have. Because that person can read ALL of them on our faces.

Another Rancher saw me this AM & from across the gas station asked me if "I had been working this morning, cause I had some mud on my chin", as he was talking he was walking closer, and realised it wasn't mud. His expression "said" OUCH! He realised it wasn't mud, & said "wow, what happened?" At least he asked, and didn't just stare!

I can't believe it didn't knock me out cold, and I am SOOOO thankful that I am healthy. I don't know how people who are in cronic pain handle it!! I know it will get better, and it already has, but enough about me.


Sunday, April 5, 2009

WARNING - Opinionated Nursing/Animal Husbandry Post Ahead!

Well, this subject has been brewing in my mind since I was pregnant with Squeak. That's a long while! (about 19 months). And, I am VERY opinionated on this subject, so I apologise in advance if I offend you (but you should really change your mind & then you wouldn't offended).

I recently read this blog about a mother not being able to feed her child, when her child needed fed. That blog, had me thinking about most mothers and thier attitudes towards nursing, & starting to nurse thier children in the hospital.

Here's the story of the original time I talked about this with another person. I was in my Midwife's office for a routine checkup somewhere towards the end of my pregnancy. We were discussing nursing. Missus D (we'll call her) is quite the Lactivist (what most nursing advocates, or activists call themselves). As a Rancher, I am also quite opinionated about nursing, and also very much as a mother.

Missus D was explaining to me how important nursing was, and that it was important to get nursing off to a good start, IN the hospital. That's when the Rancher in me spoke up (& Missus D listened intently).

If a lamb doesn't get colostrum........Its as good as dead.

If a Colt doesn't get colostrum..........Its as good as dead!

If a Calf doesn't get colostrum...........Its as good as dead!

Then WHY do we think it is ok for BABIES (human babies) not to get colostrum???

I have a VERY wonderful Rancher Friend & Mentor, she chose not to nurse her sons. However, she did INSIST, that she pumped her colostrum for the first day and that it was fed to her sons.

She KNEW how important that this first milk was.

You see, colostrum has thousands of antibodies that provide immunity that is VITAL to the baby's survival. The rates of survival in an animal that does NOT recieve colostrum start dropping dramatically every hour after the 12 hour mark. If an animal has not recieved colostrum within the first 24 hours, their rate of survival is below 25%.

It is so imperative that an calf receives colostrum, that I have milked out 2 cows this year (not an easy feat to milk a beef cow) to give it to a weak calf that wouldn't suck. We tube ALL of our houseguests with powdered colostrum that we mix with hot water. AND we make sure that they drink from their dam as soon as possible.

Now, you should REALLY think about this. How many children do not get colostrum after they are born in the hospital??? How many nurses will provide a child formula in a bottle, because the mother doesn't feel like nursing or doesn't APPEAR to have enough milk? HELLO!!! You don't need that much milk when the size of your tummy is a WALNUT! You don't need very much if that milk has TONS of VITAL immunogens & antibiodies! The "first milk" is also VERY FATTY! (next time I HAVE to get a picture of some colostrum from a cow & then some later milk)

WHY, tell me WHY do we not have powdered colostrum for babies? We have developed (and realised we need) different milk for the first day of a calf's life; WHY haven't we done it for human babies (whose mothers do not KNOW the harm they are doing to their children)??

As doctors, WHY don't they REQUIRE ALL MOTHERS TO PUMP COLOSTRUM? I think that they should insist that mothers give their children MILK, NOT Formula.

Now, if you can handle the opinion.......On to the nursing side of things.

Farmers, if you had to choose between bottle feeding an animal or letting its mother raise it, Which would you choose? - - - - - Mother should raise it, with HER milk

Does a calf do as well on a bottle or bucket, as on a cow?- - - - - NO

Will you have higher death loss of bottle animals? - - - - - MUCH Higher up to 50% more, even under the cleanest conditions

So, why then, do we THINK it is ok for mothers to feed their children formula?

Why do some doctors try to push mothers to wean their children to formula?

I have no clue. It must be because they think they are smarter than Mother Nature! They can replicate everything she does, YEAH RIGHT! It is probably because the pharmaceutical companies pay them, to sell thier formulas.

OK. I'm done, I've said my piece. But, I will say that Missus D (remember my original story) was quiet. She had never thought about the animal side of it, and NEVER had anyone pointed these thing out to her. And she is a Lactivist.

Think about it, if an animal doesn't get colostrum, and just formula, it has only a 50% lower survival rate. Even dairy farmers give their calves colostrum before they pull them from the cow.

But, we (most of our nation) think it is ok to feed our children the same formula for the entire first year of their life.
Oh, and BTW, that is a bottle of Juice that Squeak is drinking. But he did wean himself at ~10-11 months. (Momma is still really sad about it, but it was just too hard for him to hold still)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

If you ever think you're having a bad day on the Ranch, DON'T SAY IT OUT LOUD!!!

Well, we were having a rough nite. Cows eating our lunch, trying to gore the horse. Pinning me in the pickup. Calving problems, kids being obstinate, etc. Generally, just a rough nite.

So, we decided to go to town & get supper. Cause it was 7:30, and I hadn't even started supper. We talked about ice cream @ the Dairy Sweet, & wondered what flavor they had on Wed nite. Crap, the line is like 8 cars long & there are 4 people standing @ the window. Amidst the tears, we decided to have Casey's pizza & get some ice cream from their freezer.

So, the girls are eating their ice cream. Squeak is eating a pizza crust, I am talking on the phone to my Mom, & Honey is driving. We noticed in town that something SouthWest of town was burning......We get 5 miles from home, & it is still burning BIG BLACK smoke. We turn the corner 3 miles from the house & I say to mom that the fire is near our house.....

Then we are 1.5 miles from home & I say "SOMETHING AT OUR HOUSE IS ON FIRE, gotta call you back" I call 911 and let them know something @ our house is on fire.....

We drive up to the house & see a HUGE fire all in one spot. Exactly where we left the White Truck, cause we were in a hurry. The flames are coming out of the windows, the hood, everywhere! A round bale of hay was 20 feet from it and on fire. We couldn't get to the hay trailer with the pickup, so Honey grabs the tractor & drags it out of the way, cause its tires were getting VERY hot on that side.

So, the old white truck is no more. I haven't looked for a pic yet, but I will. We were lucky. You see we usually park it right in front of the house, and the wind would have caught the house on fire, just like it caught the bale on fire. We were lucky, that we didn't park it in the barn like we do when it is cold. We were lucky, we weren't at home & hurt by the explosions. (Neighbors 5 miles away heard 3 or 4 VERY big explosions)

We were VERY LUCKY that we had hauled all of the hay yesterday. Otherwise we would have BEEN IN the white truck picking up a bale while we were in town.

We are lucky!!!
We are thankful for all the neighbors that stopped by & the wonderful firemen that were here so quickly!!!
I am thankful we had a bad night, & didn't "put the truck away" either in the barn or by the house.
I am thankful!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Breakfast, at 2 pm...

Yup, I just came back in the house to have breakfast!!! Not my original yummy (but now yucky) oatmeal, but a pot pie that I microwaved! It says that it's organic, but it is in this paper, fake tinfoil thingy that cooks it. I don't think its very good for me. But, it was hot, fast, & filling.

You see, after I got up @ 6am, (I went to sleep well after 1am & Squeak was up 2x last night, & J got in bed with us around 4, so NO SLEEP) I readied all the munchkins for school, including Squeak. You see, he gets to go to daycare 1 or 2 days a week, at the old School gymnasium. I then checked out the Jeep @ the shop. Clutch is OUT!! EEK, it is going to cost me!

Picked up the White truck from Honey, and took the haybale he had on the back home, so I could feed the cows. I went out and fed then I came in & started some yummy Oatmeal (walnuts, rasins, pecans, & a touch of real maple syrup). Honey calls & says that the guys are ready to load hay in 15 MIN!!! And I'm at least 20 min away & have the wrong truck to pull the trailer.

So, I totally forgot my yummy oatmeal, ran into town, unhooked the hay trailer, rehooked it to the Dodge, & headed to the hay pile. We loaded 2 trailers & headed for the house. I had to try & unload the trailers with the unroller instead of the spear on the back of the tractor. IT DIDN'T WORK VERY WELL!! To say the least! I tore up nearly every bale, & it took forever! And I had 2 guys watching me. It drives me NUTS when I can't do something right, & there are spectators.

Unloaded the first trailer, & called Honey to bring me the White truck (it has a hay-spear bed on it). Started unloading my trailer, & Honey arrived as I finished. Well, at least he came & didn't complain!

With the next loads, I used the White truck to unload the bales. Worked pretty good except for the coughing and dying parts... Really, the fuel filter appears to be clogged & so it coughs and sputters, has no power & dies. AACK!

If it has a "dipstick", I'm gonna have problems with it today! (Men & Equipment; supposed to be funny, but true)
Honey says, If it has Tits or Tires, it will give you fits! (cows, women, & equipment)

After I unloaded the next round, I fed cows 3 bales, tagged a couple of calves, fed the inside cows, watered (it over flowed, flooding a stall, while I was haying).

Oh, I forgot to mention that our big Spring Special Sale (ABS Beef Semen) ended today, & all the orders had to be in by 1pm. So, inbetween all of these things, I ordered about 250 units of semen in 5 & 20 unit orders @ a time.

Then, I came in the house to "finish my breakfast". I think I feel like Abby! I need to stay home more. OOps, I can't. Tomarrow, I have an oil change @ 8am, and get to pick up our Front End Loader (for the tractor, & would have been REALLY handy today!) Thursday & Friday, I get to haul pigs.

Oh well, as much as I have griped today, I LOVE MY LIFE!!! I wouldn't change it for anything! I love being a Ranching Mama, & a stay at home Mama!

Mmmm, this nasty for me pot pie tastes good!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Horse Time

I thought through this blog this afternoon, as I was 160 acres away from the house and any other human. Now, 160ac may not seem like very far to some and huge to others. But, when you're on a good horse, it doesn't really matter. Right now, its enough land, and we own it (almost, the bank still owns some).

You see, I had a rough afternoon, and Honey threw me on the horse to go check cows. A good ride always puts me in the right frame of mind (a pleasant, happy one). I took 'Koda today. He's our "new" stud.

We bought him last spring at the Pitzer sale. When we got him home, we took him for a ride only a couple of times before he went out with the mares for the rest of the summer. Last fall, we were still in the dirtwork stage, and didn't have our pens at the barn finished, so we didn't ride him much either.

Now that the weather is nice, and we are calving, we've been taking Koda out to check calves each night. During the school week, that usually means that I do chores with the kids in the truck and Honey takes the horse out to check cows.

Since we haven't ridden him much, each time is an adventure. You see, we are still trying to find out which bit fits him best. He is pretty sensitive. We started out just throwing Honey's regular bridle on him. He rides his big ranch horse in a correction bit most of the time. WOAH! That was waaaayyyy to much for Koda. Barely a touch to the reins, and his head was in his chest. Next, we threw on the next bridle Honey grabbed. It had a broken, twisted wire with a very small gag (1/2 inch, you might call it a slide) and short shanks (about 2 1/2 inches). This was ok, except when Honey went to rope anything. Koda would start backing up when Honey was just trying to hold the calf, so I could tag. Then, we threw on the next bridle which is a Heart shaped twisted wire. The Ring just has a little curve in it (like a heart), so your reins don't slide all around like with a ring. This seems to work pretty well. But, it isn't legal for us to ride him 2 handed in QH shows (which I really want to make my goal this summer). So, we are now out of bits already on bridles, and trying to decide what we want to put him in next. I know I want something with a little bit of shank (so it would work better for roping than the current bit). Any, suggestions???

Now, on to the actual ride! IT WAS WONDERFUL!!! Koda is such a great mover! Once we got through the mud, I was out on open pasture. AHHHH!! Can you feel my shoulders relax?? What is better than a great ride on a beautiful horse? Nothing! Koda is a beautiful bay roan, and has quite the pretty head. (I have plans to get some good pics of him this summer) It took about 2 seconds, and I had him collected in to a pretty little pleasure horse trot! EEEK! Koda is a CowHorse. But then why, you say, do I want a little trot? Well, you see it's because I CAN. He is a great mover, and we then extended his trot to cover some ground. AHHHH!!! More fun and relaxation! Then I let him into a nice lope. And got to the back fence. No cows back here. So we turned around and I let him out. We ran for about 20 acres and then relaxed right back into a nice little lope again (think reining, what I REALLY want to do with him besides Working Cow Horse).

We checked out a couple of lone cows with new calves, and found one in the process of calving, I wrote down her # (didn't have any paper, so I texted it to Honey) and went on to the next group to check all of those calves. They we all doing fine, & I was enjoying myself, so I took a nice little long trot around the pond. Just to check for cows at the bottom. Yeah, that's why I did it, to check for cows...... Not to stretch him out again and go down a hill and around some brush, Yeah that's why.

Then we crossed the creek again. Remind me to have Honey cut down the blasted THORN TREES! (Honey Locust trees) They are right in the middle of the crossing, so I just had to ride him down the side of the ravine to see if there was a different crossing. Never mind the fact that I know there isn't, and I had just come through the only crossing to get ON the far side. I just had to check. So, I took Koda back to the crossing and made him walk down into the water, & then let him jump out. We trailed through the rest of the cows at the bottom of the front pond. Wow! We have a ton of really great calves so far!

Then, here come the next 3 challenges for Koda... THE MARES! You see, we have "his" mares out in this pasture with the cows, and he WANTS them. He doesn't care if they are bred and ready to foal... THEY ARE HIS! He wants to talk (whinny, or scream) to them. So, I took a little time to school him and let him know that it is NOT ok to talk when someone is ON his back.

Then we went across the road and checked the next group of cows. Our custom cows that have NEVER seen a horse. That was much less horsey. Just a bunch of walking and watching to make sure they weren't going to stampede away from me or come and try to "eat my lunch" (that's Momma talk for trying to hit my horse and knock me off).

Did you enjoy your vicarious ride? I enjoyed it all over again!

I hope to let you enjoy some more rides with me this spring!! If you want to hop along with me you can follow me on Twitter! (check it out over on the sidebar and click!) I tweeted while I was out back riding! I had to keep up with the springtime birds you know!! : )

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Personal Interests that Conflict

Well, after my last rant - er- post, I've discovered that most of my bloggy readers agree, that the decision of how to grow and the specifics of growing are quite conflicting. If you get to grow fast; you have debt. That's not good in my opinion.

Right now this is my main conflict. I don't want more debt, and I don't want to compromise the comfort of my animals (the future ones).

I have decided one thing, I am not going to cry (literally, this conflict has had me in tears) over milk that hasn't been spilled, before I even drive to the store to buy the proposed spilled milk.

So, I will try to blog more tomarrow about the details of what we have and what we want to have accomplished.

Now, I'm off to bed. I have to load "big, fat, stinky pigs" (J's description of gilts & cull sows) at 6 am. Oh yeah, I have to chore before I leave too, cause Honey will be getting the girls ready for school in the AM.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Conflict of Interests

Sitting here (procrastinating) patiently waiting for my little Squeaky Man to fall DEEP asleep before I make too many weird noises cleaning, and putting away dishes & laundry.

These thoughts have been weighing on my mind very heavily for the past few days and in Honey’s mind for years. Literally, he has been talking about a FeedLot seriously for at least 7 or 8 years.

So here it is….My EXTREME conflict! We want/need to expand our operation to bring in more income so that Honey will not have to work in town. This means 2 different things will have to happen. (I am so conflicted, that I am tearing up talking about this)

Scenario 1 - We expand our old-school feeding operation and raise more beef in a natural setting, and sell more breeding stock (heifers, show calves or bulls). The main question is how do we really expand our beef sales.
Scenario 2 – We expand in a different way and build a cattle confinement feedlot for ~500 head. A completely enclosed, covered, confinement feedlot. We would bed the pens with corn-stalks and have a dry bedding mound for the calves to lay on. We would also probably try to allow double the "animal space" per actual head of calves. Thus giving them more room to move about.

I am very conflicted. You see, I am an “educated” rancher. What I mean is that I have an Animal Science BS degree from Iowa State (honey has an Ag Studies degree too). I have been taught all of the benefits of confinement feeding. This is a small list of benefits
1- Increased feed efficiencies (thus decreased feed costs)
2- Less chance of manure (nitrates) leaching into streams and contaminating them
3 - Increased “comfort” of the animal (THIS ONE I CAN ARGUE BOTH WAYS!!)

The list may go on and on. (I will expand and update later today as I think of them, but I have to get this blog out of my head, and out there for y’all to comment on, please)

Here is a small list of the benefits from continuing in a very “Old Fashioned” way of growing our operation slowly. Meaning that we will continue to grow slowly and increase our beef sales, bred heifer, show calf, and bull sales. Scenario 1
1 - Less impact on the environment (I can argue this both ways, this benefit is just from reduced numbers in one location ON the ground not tearing up the sod)
2- More direct relationship with the customer that has our beef on their table.
3 - A more natural environment for the cattle (pasture when we have grass, and more room to grow)

Well, these are my thoughts for now, and I’m sure that I will have tons more to come, as we really delve into this more and figure out what details we will decide upon, and what path we will take to pursue expansion of our operation.

I will prepare you that I do not mind talking dollars, and I WILL share some of our financial details.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why I am WIERD

Yup, I admit it I am WIERD with a capital W.
Why? Well there are tons of reasons, so I will give you a little list.

1 - I will do anything for my kids
When J. was in preschool age, we enrolled her in a Lutheran preschool 30 min from the house (because I couldn't stand our local preschool, headstart) So, in order to get her to school on time at 8 am, I had to get up at 3 am to load my pigs at 4am, and get the drive finished to be in the right town and my pigs unloaded by 7:30 and get J to school by 8.
Yup, I will work my a$$ of for my kids and will go WAY out of my way to have them benefit and grow to be great people. That is why I will also be Home/UnSchooling them next year. I have also let them pick out their clothes since they were 2. This is also sometimes very embarassing, but they learn to match, and be themselves, not a clone of a model in the clothing store. That and A.Cowgirl wore pink from the time she was 2 until last year. We are talking some form of pink every day, and sometimes (alot of the time) pink, from head to foot.

2 - I love to WORK outside.
I mean it! From head to toe dirt, sweaty, mud encrusted outside workout is my kind of exercise. I like to get work done, and I like to work (of course) with the horses and cows.

3 - I do NOT believe in the "D" word (d.i.v.o.r.c.e)
The important part is that my husband doesn't either. We don't believe in the word and don't say it.
With that said, I do have 3 reasons (from Dr.Laura) why I would believe in or recommend it (after tons of work and prayer). Adultery, Addiction, or Abuse. In my view, all three of things have totally removed all trust and broken the covenant with God. Honey and I, have vowed to work through anything and everything to make our marriage work. We also believe that seeing their parents working through any issues that may arrise will strenghten them and lead our children to also have successfull marriages.

4-I like getting dirty - (see number 2) But, I used to be a prissy, dolled up, hair curled out to there, Rodeo Queen. (I have to find a picture, so we can all laugh at my 90's "Queenie" Hair.)

5- I am not a very good "homemaker"
I don't decorate, I'm apprehensive to put a hole in the wall, and I generally just do the basics of clean kids, clean place to make food, and clean clothes.
I do like to bake, just not very often. But when I do, lookout cause there will be tons of sweets for weeks to come.

6- I did not grow up on a "real" farm or ranch.
I grew up on a 19 acre homestead with horses. I still have the first pony (he is 14.1 &1/2 hands) we ever owned. Mom & Dad purchased him for me when I was in 5th grade (I was about 10, I think & Kenneth is now 25).
I bought my first "Show Horse" when I was a Sophmore in High School. I showed him in everything, but I really loved showing in Trail Classes. We didn't have shows with cattle classes around us, and Trail provided the most detailed maneuvers that did not require an expensive, great moving horse (that kind of $ was not an option for me). I traveled with a lady that was great at Trail and was her groom and hired girl. I loved it! I went to Congress, Paint, Palimino, Buckskin and Quarter Horse World Shows. She won all of them except the QH World title at one time or another when I was traveling with her. I learned a ton from her and people around the shows. And I got to ride some amazing horses, not all were just Trail horses.

I feel very lucky to now live on a Ranch because "now my horses have a purpose". And I feel very lucky to give this opportunity to our children. And I can't imagine my life without horses and Cattle.

7-I am a KLUTZ!
I mean, I am truly un-coordinated. I can't throw a ball, catch one, or run with any coordination or speed.
The only place I am coordinated and somewhat athletic is on the back of a horse.

Have you ever heard this blonde joke?

What do you call a Blonde in a Mall?......................................A Pinball

Yup, that's me. Imagine the IA State Fair. Showday in a crowded indoor (airconditioned) resturant (The indoor Campbells in the Cattle Building).
I walk in, bump into someone "OOPS, I'm Sorry". Then I back up and bump into someone else! "OOPS!, I'm Sorry". We wait in line a while and I get my tray, start walking BUMP, "OOPS!, I'm Sorry!" (Whew, my drink wasn't filled yet, so I didn't spill it). Sit down at our table, and then get up to fill that drink BUMP, "OOPS!! I'm SORRRY!".

Fill my drink, and trying to be really careful, I slowly walk to our booth, looking both ways and being VERY cautious. I sit down, and reach for a napkin, AND DUMP MY DRINK in my Dad's lap!! "OOOPS!!! I'm SORRY!!!" Seriously, I bumped into 9 people within the 20 min that we were inside! And, I spilled my drink on my Dad!

We like to joke in our house, that we don't worry about the kids spilling milk, 'cause Momma always spills it first!

Also, never ask a Blonde what time it is when she has a full cup. Yes, you guessed it, I will always look and thus spill my drink!

Well, I think that's enough WIERD-NESS for now, but I know there are wierd-er things about me... I let you know when I think of another (or 7 more)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I have a TOILET!

Yeah!!! I have a working, FLUSHING toilet. After my mom, TWO plumbers, and much anxiety over having to put in a new septic system, I HAVE A FLUSHING TOILET.

It's fixed, and it doesn't leak, and I can pee AND flush!

Don't you love the small things in life!

Confession, I have an Outhouse.

Well, I have a little confession to make. We have an Outhouse, and we are too busy to fix the indoor toilet (and get it to work right). And, we live in southern Iowa, where everyone is laxidasical (i can't spell) and plumbers don't really worry if you don't have a functional toilet.

The Outhouse was made by my wonderful Dad, for our "South Ranch". Because there was no house, and thus toilet on that Ranch. We have 2 girls, and squatting to go was getting really messy. (think little girls peeing on their clothes like EVERY time we were down working @ the South Ranch) Our Outhouse is FANCY! I mean it, really fancy. It has 2 holes, with seatcovers and such. A light, sunroof, two separate toilet paper dispensers, 2 coathooks, and an extra "pull rope" for little girls to pull the door open with.

We obviously moved the Outhouse to the new Ranch this last summer, but we never really set it up. We didn't dig a hole and we just set it down off the trailer when we moved it.

Now to the toilet issue. A couple of weeks ago, we thought the base, seal, ring gooey thing was bad. It was a little damp around the base. I had a wonderful, friend all lined up to come and fix it, but I said that WE (my mom and I) were going to take up the toilet and replace the floor first. OOOO NOOOO! Honey didn't want to replace the floor. (Momma stamps foot!) "Then you take care of it!" "I will!" Honey says. Well, its a day later (hence bringing up the Outhouse issue) and Honey finally pulls up the toilet. Seal isn't that bad, but the toilet sits IN THE KITCHEN for another day until Honey sees fit to put it back down. In his defense, we have had about a dozen calves in this time and he works 7-5 in town. And I can't lift the heavy toilet onto its proper place. That and the kids, pigs and calves and dogs, oh my!

So, today, the toilet is in its proper place, but it still ISN'T working!! UGH! Sombody save me!!
Oh well, I'm wierd. The Outhouse doesn't REALLY bother me, except at night, when a little girl has to go, or I do. Oh, yeah, I just make Daddy take them. Maybe he'll remember to help me fix it tonight.

Btw, I think a little someone flushed something they weren't supposed to, and its stuck in the crook of the toilet. EWWW!!

Oh, and the Outhouse will stay, but its supposed to go on the other side of the road, by the Arena.