Monday, December 31, 2007

Repossessing A Cow... A Dwarf Cow.

You know, since starting this blog thing, most of my writing has been about cows, and hardly day to day stuff at that. I think it's just the plethora of incidents that I've endured and experienced in my cattleman career that make you go "What the....?" Others will hopefully come later, but for now, more cows.

About 10 years ago a cow in our herd had a dwarf calf, just a genetic thing that happens once in a great while that most cattlemen like to pretend "doesn't happen in my herd". But it does. From a monetary standpoint these things are usually pretty much worthless, and therefore just take up space and eat expensive hay and feed, this one pretty much fit that mold as well.

We were culling cattle one day and this rig passed through the chute and was put in the "sell" pen, but in reality it would be the "give it away pen", being worth about zero dollars. When we were done sorting I ended up just putting it in the truck and dumping it out in the fenced side yards at our house with a few head of sheep that we keep there, mostly as just a self propelled lawn mower and entertainment to look at.

Time went on and it was sort of a novelty seeing her there and then one of the most unfortunate things that can happen with farm animals happened.... she got named. Lucy. Naming livestock nearly puts them on the same status as a family member and grants them privileges most other farm animals don't have, such as handouts from the fence of various bovinely sundry items and petting and rubbing and making baby talk.

Lucy the dwarf calf.


Visitors at our house always gravitated out there and one of our neighbors became particularly enamored with Lucy. Before I go further I want to explain the term "neighbor". A neighbor is mostly thought of as a person that lives close to you and exchanges kind deeds and words with you on a daily or occasional basis. "Neighbor" in this case is used as a term describing some people whose house we had to drive by on the way to town.

These neighbors, Duesseldorf and Twiggy (not their real names... maybe) stopped one day, obviously overcome with the desire to own Lucy the Dwarf Calf, and began to intensely question me about her.

Duesseldorf : "Is that as big as she's gonna get?"

Me : "Yeah, she's a dwarf and she's a little over a year old, so yeah... that's pretty much it."

Twiggy : "Why is she a dwarf?"

Me : "Just because"

Duesseldorf : "Can she have a calf?"

Me : "Well, probably not, the calf would be half as big as she is and usually they won't breed anyhow"

Twiggy : "How much does she eat? Do you give her corn? Can she tap dance? Does she do blinkety blinkety blinkety blinkety and drivel drivel drivel and does she drone and drone and drone and...... "

Lord have mercy on me. I just stood and nodded after a point and wished I smoked or had something else to do occupy my time while they asked questions about a piece of livestock that I didn't know existed nor had ever been asked before.

THEN, it came, and I knew it was coming. Duesseldorf popped the question, "Do you want to sell her?" Well bar the door Katy and give me a reason to live, Hell Yeah she's for sale. Up until this moment I figured we were just stuck with Lucy the lawnmower forever and ever, but now was the chance to actually realize a buck or two out of a virtually worthless cow.

I contained my enthusiasm as I stood there and completely stripped the bark off a maple tree a piece at a time time while trying to look nonchalant. Twiggy asked what the price was for her and I just spewed out from somewhere in my brain "250 dollars". Duesseldorf and Twiggy exchanged a glance like newlyweds buying their first home and said in unison "DEAL!"

I loaded up Lucy, hauled her over to their house which is just around the corner from our house and unloaded her in their little fenced off area behind their house. They admired her walking around back there, sniffing all her new surroundings while I thought about all the other things in life that I needed to accomplish.

I looked up in the sky and noticed a lead balloon floating by lazily and Twiggy said to me "Can we pay you later? We're a little short right now." "Later" was soon to be redefined as "Never".

Everytime we went to town we drove by their place and saw Lucy the free cow standing in their little back lot, eating, sleeping, being free, standing and being free some more. I mean it was ONLY $250 bucks but it still irked at me and the irkyness of it grew and grew with each trip by there. THEN icing on the cake. I drove by there one day and standing there by Lucy, dwarfing her (LOL I kill myself) was a yearling Angus bull. Yes, they were giving it the old team effort to breed her. This pairing went on for a few more months and I got a call, not a stop by the house visit, mind you... but a phone call from Twiggy.

Twiggy: "I don't think Lucille (they'd cleverly changed her name to something much more complex than Lucy) will breed"

Me: "You think?"

Twiggy: silence

Me: "I told you that it wouldn't work... she's a lawn ornament and that's 'bout all she's good for."

Twiggy: "I don't think we want her after all."

Right now I'm in total disbelief. Total. I hang up the phone with Twiggy and call my other neighbor (the good kind) and beg off his help to go repossess the unpaid for dwarf cow. We put the trailer on and nary a gate or corral or anything that would help load the now very spoiled Lucy. Spoiled meaning she wanted to run and play some stupid game that D and T must have played with her for hours on end. Meanwhile 2 slightly overweight and out of shape men chased her in circles for 15 minutes getting her in the trailer.

My good neighbor wanted to know "what now?" and I said. "Sale barn!" We drove straight there, unloaded her, she sold and I have no idea on God's green earth what or why or whatever happened in that sale ring, 'cause I wasn't there, but I got a check in the mail from the sale barn a few days later for (drum roll) $525 bucks. Yes. Weird things happen at the sale barn at times and I like to think that 2 more dwarf cow lovers got into a bidding war with this 4 foot tall rig and took her home to a nice fenced yard with sheep and kittens and romping puppies and.....

Friday, December 28, 2007

Killer Cows and Clowns...

First of all, it's snowin' again today, more than yesterday. GAH! One of those "you can barely see the road" types of snows, at times. Snapped a picture of the girls eating this morning. No, they didn't get wet and shrink up, I was just too far from 'em for a good picture and the rest of the pics got a snow covered camera lens fouling things up.

Figure I better explain the killer cow reference in my bio, just to get it over with. Over the years I've had many many killer cow and killer bull episodes. A few ending with blood covered injury, most just ending with a very rapid gate climbing or fence hurdling, or running and screaming like a little girl.

A few years ago I had a cow that just sorta "snapped". One day she was all fine and dandy and then Kapow! she was psycho killer cow. Only thing that could have been worse was if she'd had vampire teeth or something. Anyhow, I had her in the barn and when you walked in she'd throw her head up high and put her butt in the corner of her pen, throw dirt with her front foot and just wait for you to get within ten feet of that pen and then WHAM, she'd slam into the gates trying to make your children into ancestors. I kept her in there for a few days, giving her ground corn and alfalfa hopin' that the special treatment would calm her down, when I knew that it wouldn't.

Giving her the corn had turned into an adventure all it's own, I'd worked out a game where I'd fake her out by starting to walk to the pen, she'd slam the gate and re-group for another attack and during the re-grouping is when I'd pour the corn over the gate into the feed box. Sheesh.

So after about a week of this, I decided it was time for the old girl to make a trip to McDonald land and become a happy meal. Now we get to the fun part where I'm actually gonna have get in the same pen with Bessie Dahmler and load her in a trailer, and I gotta be truthful here... I've been "wooled up" more than once by deranged livestock and I don't like it much. I don't care how much money them boys win by riding a bull that's half bovine and half satan, it ain't enough.

Here is where I had a brain storm. I knew a boy at the time, that lived about 30 minutes away that was (you ready?) a professional rodeo clown, plus he had his own livestock trailer too!! So, I call him up. "Larry? This is Jace, I gotta cow in the barn that has gone totally wrong and wants to kill every human being she sees. You interested in coming and gettin' her and hauling her to the butcher plant?" Larry the rodeo clown that lived 30 minutes away was there in 20 minutes with his trailer and a smile on his face.

We walk in the barn and she's back in the corner throwing dirt and shaking her head and doing that warblely deep moo (if you've been around a psycho cow you know the sound) with loads of slobbering. Larry gets on the gate and starts to climb in and I tell him "Larry, really.. she's pretty nuts, watch yourself." Larry still has the same smile on his face that he came with and jumps right in the pen with her.

Near as I could tell she was just simply shocked that any fool would get in the same pen with her and she just locked up. Froze. Un-moving. Un-killerlike. Un-exciting. Larry the rodeo clown says, dripping with sarcasm "Ewwww she's a scary one all right" I was thinking "clown". Then he throws his hat at her. She sniffs it and slobbers on it and stays in the corner. Then Larry did something that ever since I wish I'd had a video camera to document what happened next. He dropped down to his hands and knees and pawed dirt and scampered around on the barn floor.

Evidently this is like an emotional laxative to a frozen psycho cow. She came tee totally 100 percent un glued and made the wildest, head down, bellowing charge I've ever witnessed. Larry side scampered the cow, got on a gate, she ran past him and directly into the trailer and I slammed the door shut.

I dunno if there's a moral to this story or not, if there is I guess it'd be "when you have a personal little rodeo, call in the clowns first thing."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Cows Gotta Eat Too, You Know.

Well, it snowed again a little last night.... dang. Sal says "it makes everything pretty and covers up the ugly of winter." I'll give her that, but it sure adds to the amount of hay consumed by the cows, which equals "Here, let me pay for all that pretty that other folks get for free." Anyway, thought I'd give you a little guided tour of feeding the herd.

This is gonna be just like you were here, only you're all warm and toasty, you're not on Tractor Of Doom, and your nose ain't runnin' from hay dust. So actually, it's nothing like being here, it's more like just reading my blog. Eh well...

Here I am on the Tractor Of Doom, daring to take one hand off the steering wheel while goin' down the road. The Tractor Of Doom needs a real serious exorcism. Going down the road it's got a mind of it's own. Look away for an instant and it's "HELLO GRADER DITCH!". Fixing the wandering steering is actually pretty low on the repair list of the POS.

You probably noticed that the muffler has a pretty serious lean going on there. Well, thank you for noticing. The incident that caused that damage is actually one of the lesser accidents, that one just involved snagging a quite low electric wire down by the barn. Exciting? Yes... but there are others that will curdle your blood even worse. *shivver*

So now I pull into the hay corral, one of several we have around on the farm. Just a penned off area to stockpile the hay. I lower the stinger on the front end loader of the tractor, skewer a bale, pick it up and off to the pasture. Our bales are a fescue/timothy/clover/orchard grass mix... pretty tasty stuff if you're a cow. They'll average about 1400 pounds per bale.

Come on girls!

Next I'll drop the bale off the stinger and back up to it and grab it with an attachment on the 3 point lift of the tractor and take off unrolling it. The cows reaction to this is the human equivalent of finding a suitcase of money... only it happens every day for the cows. At this point in time "I" am their very best friend on earth. How soon they'll forget when they get a chance to trample me and laugh later on in the year.

We unroll the hay, makes it easier for them to eat it and keeps them in a nice clean area in the pasture. The newer balers wrap the hay up so tightly it's real hard on the cows teeth to pull it out of the bale, enough so that they'll pull out their own teeth trying to get it out at times. Unrolling it for 'em eliminates that and gives any calves that are out there, a place to lay instead of on the snow. A cow's mouth is the root to her health, keep 'em smiling with big ol' toothy grins.

So there you go, cow feedin' 101, from the comfort of your puter chair.

A side happening, as I got back from the farm this morning, one of our son's buddies was waiting for him in the driveway in his truck. Gonna go try to pop a coyote or 2 I think. I'd have opened the door and said "Hi" but I really didn't wanna touch that nasty thing. :-)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Very Little Bleeding

Welp, sonofagun if we didn't waltz right through Christmas with nary an accident, incident or a Cousin Eddie experience. Had a little Christmas feed here at our house yesterday with the same crew as the day before minus my cousin and her husband. Excellent food crowned by an Italian Wedding Cake that I was gifted with by my dear ol' buddy Gramma Jane. I built Jane an oak, stand-alone pantry with a feature that she's never had ever before in her life... full extension pull out shelves. From what I hear everyone that visits her now immediately gets the tour of the new pantry, and she pulls out each and every one of the shelves to show 'em how easy it is. She's cuter than a basketful of kittens at someone else's house, ain't she? Anyway, she informed Sal that she had something for me for building the cabinet. Sal said, "You've already paid him Jane." She informed Sally that she had something much better than that old cold, hard cash.

It was VERY good.

Among some other nice gifts, Sally got me a new mandolin a few days before Christmas as it's sorta something you need to pick out yourself and play and stuff. It's a very nice instrument and sounds like a dream. Here's a link to download what she sounds like. Just a little 30 second tune on it.

Sal got a complete new set of KitchenAid pots and pans in BRIGHT RED to go with our restored 1940's Magic Chef range. She was thrilled stupid and they look awesome in her kitchen.

That's 'bout all of that for awhile I guess, it'll be here again soon enough and much sooner than we think.

An interesting turn of events with my folks and their ginormous TV, but I'll probably have to throw out the whole story of it coming to be first, maybe tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Day 1 of Christmas 2007... Safely Past.

Today was the official preliminaries of Christmas 2007 in our world, safely and nearly sanely celebrated at my Uncle and Aunts place. My folks and my brother were there along with my cousin and her husband, Sal and I and our son Jake. The food, as always was phenomenal and more than plenty... but the coup de grace to the mountainess pile of carbohydrates and proteins that we inhaled with excited delight... the finish of finishes was this thing languishing near the center of the table. A sweet potato cheesecake roll thing that has been mentioned at least once an hour today since we ate it. Take the most delicious cake item you've ever ate in your entire eating career and multiply that deliciousness by any number above 5, and you'll get close to this thing.

My Aunt made it. She rules.

After all the eating we whooped out the guitars and stuff and had a little session of hilarity and laughing. My Uncle who just learned to play guitar about a year ago or so, does real well with his chords, but his right hand kinda just "stirs the cake" on the other end. We got him a metronome for Christmas (really :-) ) and hopefully this'll get him on the rhythm road. My cousin Carla, who is as close as I have to a little sister and has suffered greatly over the years by this relationship... heh heh, picked up my mandolin and got a 15 minute lesson on it and proceeded to laugh her hind end off.

She's a good girl, I love her a whole lot.

My mom, as always was tottering around with her camera on a stick, at times shaking it and wondering "what the hell is wrong with this thing" and we would dutifully remind her to open the lens. I think she was kissing me on the punkin in this shot, but now that I see it it sure looks like she's cocking that dang camera on a stick to whang me in the back of my head. Whichever it is, I deserved it I'm sure.

So now Sal and I are just lounging in the living room, some friends came by, had a couple drinks, A Christmas Story is on the TV and Jake just went to bed. I think that sounds like a pretty decent plan too. I got a vision of sugar plums or more likely, sweet potato cheesecake roll, dancin' in my head.

Day 2 comes tomorrow.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Someone, Somewhere Isn't Being Responsible With The Fridge Door

When I was a kid and I'd lolly gag in front of the open fridge door for hours at a time, my mom would always say "You're letting all the cold out, think about what you want, open the door and get it." Thing is, that's not possible, you gotta "shop" for what you want, you can't just think about it and open the door and it magically appears in there. It takes time. My Dad on the other hand was a refrigerator food shopper from way back, but that was okay if he did it, 'cause he paid the 'lectricity bill himself.

Somehow you need to mentally tie in the open door fridge warning story with the drastic weather change here this morning. There are millions of brass monkeys in Missouri singing tenor this morning. Millions. It's about 15 degrees with a nice brisk 20 mph breeze this morning. When I fed the cows this morning I got a lot of dirty cow looks and nasty comments whispered behind my back. Like I got some control over the temperature. Oh well, beats not having any weather at all, huh?

My second day of blogging and already I've lowered my resolve to just writing about the weather here. *sigh* Sorry... this may be tougher than I thought.

I'm on cold weather, might as well go with the flow. About 1973 or 1974, somewhere in there, I was a young driver and my best friend Randy and I went to see a movie on night that was so cold only fools and teenagers were out. I can even tell you the name of the movie, a real classic... Black Christmas. Probably on your favorites list at IMDB , huh? The basic synopsis of this classic was some unknown and unseen slasher/murderer type lived in the attic of this sorority house and one by one snagged the sisters with a meat hook and pulled 'em up thru the scuttle hole into the attic. The impressionable young men that we were, we were scared ****less and hardly noticed that evidently sorority sisters always walked around the house in their underwear and nice lingerie.

We sat thru the whole movie and go out to the sub zero temperatures of the out of doors to my car. In the infinite wisdom of youth, I had washed the car just prior to going to the movie... you know, in case someone saw a spot of something on my car. Death, embarrassment and that whole scene. The car was froze up tighter than a Scotsman's wallet. Coats! HA! They were in the car, 'cause we were going in the nice warm theater. We hovered around the frozen hulk for awhile wishing for a warm spell or some other miracle, when a cop pulls up beside us obviously amused at the whole scene.

This is one of the few times of my youth when I was happy that a cop was there, seriously. I spent a lot of time watching my rearview mirror in my youth, but right at that point in time I'd have taken that cop's homely daughter to the prom to get brownie points towards the situation that we were in. The cop said "wait right there (yes he did) and I'll be back." The guy comes back with a 5 gallon bucket with about 2 gallon of hot water in it, I start trickling that water over my door and it unthaws enough to finally get it open. I thank him profusely, mention the thing about prom and his daughter probably and get into an ice cold Plymouth and fire her up.

We ride home mostly in silence, but just before I dropped Randy off I say "Pretty freaky movie huh". Randy nods in agreement silently and slowly. I drive on home and spend the next 3 nights not sleeping for thinking about Mr. Meathook in the attic, and later I found out that Randy did the same thing.

Two lessons learned.

1. Don't wash the car when it's below zero.
2. I don't do slasher movies no matter how many scantily clad young ladies there might be in it.

Youth huh?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A stupendous first post

There's most probably no real need to brace yourselves for this, but just in case, go ahead. I am leaping with fervor into the world of blogging, and to be honest, I can't rightly tell you what to expect 'cause I don't really know what the heck I'm doing. I've only actually read 3 or 4 blogs in my whole internetal life, so when I finish this post... make that 5.

If I were to make rules about blogging (if there's not already rules governing this) probably number one on the list is make that first entry something so stupendous that folks are gonna step back in awe of it all. On down the road, I'm just guessing that someone is gonna go all the way back in my archives and read the very first thing I blogged about, so it oughta be a good one. Right? The best you can hope for here is coming back to read this and saying "Bless his heart".

So here's my story, such as it is. I live in very rural North Missouri with my lovely wife, 3 dogs, 3 cats, 3 sheep and a whole buncha cows. 3 didn't seem to be enough cows. I do antique furniture repair and refinishing and build quite a bit of custom furniture as well... that's quite stylish and trend setting. Ahem. We're empty nesters, got the place to ourselves, pretty much do what we want when we want to and have a pretty darn good life. We live a few miles off the farm and my Uncle and Aunt live on it and are half partners in the cattle business with us. Works out great for everyone concerned.

I probably should insert a picture of some cows that I've worked on and with. I noticed on the 3 or 4 blogs that I read prior to starting this one, pictures are quite popular.

Some cows staring at you.

It's likely that you might want to see some broken furniture as well, I don't know why you would, but I'm gonna try and cover all bases here.

Some busted chairs staring at you.

Pictures and everything, I'm almost an old pro here already. ha....

Okay, so that's the basics of my life and a stupendous first post. I guess now is when I sit back and wait for volumes of comments and such. Here goes nuthin'!