Life on the X-Bar Ranch...

I am an ordinary woman, with an amazing family, serving an awesome God.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Very Random Day.

I usually try to have theme - a story to tell when I write a post. Not today. Today is Random. I just want to record what happens in my life on a random day. A day that I was not planning to record. I just sat down and thought - hey! Why don't I write down what I have been doing today, and maybe one day it will be interesting to my kids. Or someone. You never know.


6:22 am: Woke with a start, knowing instinctively I had overslept. Yep. Was supposed to be up at 6. Anyways. Jump out of bed, (yes, I usually jump) dash to the coffee pot, and start it. I always get the coffee going first thing. That way My Cowboy can sip something to wake him up while I fix some eggs.
Meanwhile My Cowboy gets up - groggy from lack of sleep the last few months of night-calving - and stumbles out to the truck, leaving to check the heifers yet again.

7 am: breakfast has been made and eaten. I check my email. And Pinterest. And FB. Of course.

8 am: I get off the Internet and call my sister, trying to motivate myself to tackle the cleaning. It works. She assures me that I am not crazy to hate cleaning my shower, and sympathizes with the dread of mopping my kitchen. We talk. I clean. Soon my bathrooms are shiny, my kitchen floor is shiny, and we're still talking.

11:30 am: Off the phone - now I am hanging out clean laundry, marvelling at the warm spring air in March. The birds are singing. I love hanging out laundry.

11:45 am: The kids have asked repeatedly "When is lunch gonna be ready? Is there anything to eat?" I tell them to wait for lunch. I want them to be hungry - cause I know that the PW spaghetti casserole is not as well-favored in their eyes, as it is in mine.

12:00 pm: My Cowboy has just driven in the yard in a huge, John Deere tractor with a bale-buster attached...   Reheating leftover PW casserole. Mmmm! Smells wonderful. I dish it up and we eat.

12:15 pm: Brewing more coffee.

12:30pm: Serving strong black coffee with brownies.

2:00pm: simmering chicken carcass and onions, and garlic with water for chicken stock. Strain, pour into jars, seal. Put in the pressure canner - heat.

2:30 pm: Txt my friend: "Any news on the arrival of Baby Williams?" :) Reply says: Yes! Baby Boy!!! PTL!  I smile. it makes my heart warm and fuzzy. Babies do that to me.

2:50 pm: Take the lid off the pressure canner - and burn my finger on the steam. Duh. Such a newbie mistake - and I have been canning for years. Seriously annoyed.

3:00 pm: Mix up some cinnamon roll dough in my Kitchen Aid. Take pictures. Lots of pictures. Maybe one day these pics will end up in a cookbook. Mix up frosting for the cinnamon rolls - with a little cream cheese, just to put them over the top.

3:15: Send the kids out to bring the now-dry towels in from the line.

3:20 pm: Take the dry sheets from the dryer, and load the dryer again.

4:00 pm: Get the kids started on Sunday School lessons, ask them to tell me their verse. Jenni knows it perfectly - Frank needs a bit more review.

4:25 pm: Check the car for any trash - get the water bottles out and washed. And refilled. And put in the fridge. The kids always get an extreme case of thirst about 15 seconds after we leave church. It's amazing. Water bottles are magic.

4:30 pm: Mix up a batch of pizza dough.

4:45 pm: Take some home made freezer chicken stew out of the freezer, and plop it in a pan - cover with foil and bake.

4:50 pm: Start the bath for the girls. They want to bath in my big tub. Fine. Lucia goes potty - only she sits right on the edge of the seat - and dribbles down her leg, onto the floor, etc. So much for Saturday Cleaning.

5:00 pm: My Cowboy comes in. He eats a cinnamon roll, and tells me he has to go through the cattle yet. I cling to him for a minute - I wish he could be done for the day. But I know that I likely won't see him again for several hours. I ask him if he likes the cinnamon rolls. I know he does - I just like to hear him say it. :) He says: "yeah - so I think I will take another one!" And he grabs one as he goes out the door.

5:30 pm: I put the pizza in the oven. I fold the clean clothes. I put the sheets on the bed. I tell Lucia to stop screaming and let Jenni wash her hair. (Jenni has been begging to wash Lucia's hair for some time now.) I sit down and check FB again. And post something weird and sentimental. Then I think of all I have done today, and I wonder - why not write a quickie blog post about my day?

 So I did.

Edit:: Just found out the baby is a girl! (I think...) Ok. Major communication fail...

Friday, March 23, 2012

How to Graft a Calf.

Have you ever heard of 'grafting fruit trees'? How about grafting a calf?
Ah. I thought that might be new to you.

It's quite a normal, frequent procedure on a cattle ranch. At least the ranches I have been on.
First off, the seasoned mama cows are usually pretty good mothers. But the first time heifers are often less...motherly. Sometimes they will refuse to let the baby suck milk - and that is a bad thing. Sometimes they even kick their babies. (Please don't insult yourself or anyone else by suggesting that we have evolved from any kind of animal or non-human organism....I can't imagine any woman I know who would kick her newborn!)
Anyways, so when the new mama won't let the baby suck, we  try to find a cow who will adopt it. However, since most cows aren't too interested in the social aspects of an abandoned baby - we must convince her to adopt.
Here is an abandoned baby - only a few days old, or less.
 So, My Cowboy has to do the un-fun part of cowboying, and skin a calf that (in this case) has been dead for 2-3 days. This calf died during or shortly after birth. My Cowboy cuts the skin off with a skinning knife.
 Meanwhile, I ooh and aah over the cuteness of baby cows. My Cowboy has tied this baby up by the legs, so that it can't jump off the truck and hurt it's little self.
 My trusty sidekick is always standing ready to help... or just make me smile!
 Despite being tied up - this calf managed to flop off the truck somehow, so My Cowboy had to slip a rope 'round it's neck, and head it back to the barn.

My Cowboy with his new pet. (just kiddin)
He slaps the wet hide from the dead calf over the back of the live calf.
....Ties it on with red twine - always available on any ranch. He makes slits through the hide on each corner, and slips the twine through the holes and under the chest and belly, tying it on securely. The idea is that if the cow smells her calf's skin - she won't know (or care) if it's actually a different calf. Then the abandoned/orphaned calf can live in disguise as her own. And everyone will be happy.

Sometimes it works - sometimes it doesn't. Here is the mother of the dead calf, and here is My Cowboy - pushing the abandoned calf inside the calving pen.

She sniffs the calf warily...

Success!!! Within seconds, that hungry baby went for the dinner table, and she let him. Yay! I slipped out to leave them bond in peace... The hungry baby has a new mama, and the sad mama cow has (unwittingly) been comforted by what she thinks is her own sweet baby. And My Cowboy doesn't have to bottle feed this calf. :) Everyone is happy.

...And if you think cows don't get sad, well, you should've seen the poor mama cow whose dead baby I pulled into the barn with the truck a few days ago. She bawled mournfully the whole way in from the field. Sniffing her baby - trying to figure out what was up. And when we put her in a pen, she went crazy trying to get back out to her baby. We had to put the dead baby in with her, just to keep her quiet till My Cowboy could go graft a live calf for her to mother.
I even felt sad for her.

Now I think I should stop writing about sad mamas, or I shall have to find my tissue box.