Tied to the Post

In my effort to get the cows halter broke before snow I have made some good progress over the last few weeks. I was advised to talk to my uncle as he has some good advice for such tasks, I have yet to figure out a time to try to sit down a chat with him (I can’t learn over the phone). When I do finally get to talk to him I am sure I will have an “I wish I would have talked to you sooner.” moment. For now I just continue as I am.

Two weeks ago already, I had mentioned Labor Day was the day I was going to attempt to actually put the halter on Lucy. I did… kinda. My cousin said she prefers to put the rope behind the ears first then the nose through. That is what I attempted. She was pretty jumpy that day (the cow, not my cousin), I think it was because the dogs were around and my husband was watching with concern as I was working with her. With the rope tied to the gate post,   I got the halter end around her horns and behind the ears. Then she threw her head causing the slip knot to tighten quickly pinching her ears against her horns; she was pissed. She continued to throw her head and stomp about while tied to the post. I had no choice but to back up and let her calm down. My husband was going to try to loosen the knot from the other side of the fence but she wouldn’t let him get close.

I went about my chores while she calmed down. I got the chicken coop cleaned and scrubbed out the stock tank. By that time the dogs had gone and my husband was working on something elsewhere. She had calmed down and I was able to walk up and remove the halter, of course she pitched her head a bit but nothing like earlier.

The next week went by and continued to pester her with the halter. By the end of the week I was putting the halter on and off of her while she ate. I didn’t leave it on for any amount of time but just got her used to the motion.

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This week I have been able to put the halter on and have her again tied to the post. She pulls at times but then realizes she isn’t going anywhere. For now having her tied to the post is safer than my just holding a loose rope. If and when she throws a fit I can easily get out of the area and she, although unhappy, will remain in one spot where she can’t get hurt. After a while of having her tied to the post, she will understand that when she has the halter on she is stuck. That is when it will be easier for me hold the rope and lead her about the corral.

For now, I would say this has been some good progress with Lucy. Louise, I am sure I could get the halter on her because she doesn’t mind me messing with the rope around her face but I have yet to put it on and tie her up.

Soon though.

I have a tendency to rush things. I know this, which is why I have been trying very hard to take this slow. I admit there have been days where I get out to the pasture and want to skip some steps and other days I get Lucy’s horn to the arm as she’s being crabby and I just want to quit. Give up, get a bottle calf and start with it from the very beginning. Start with a cow the size of a large dog, something easy to handle. But I can talk myself into and out of almost anything. If I give up that easily with this cow how do I plan to milk her? There will be good days and bad days with that too. Not to mention, breaking a wild mustang from one of the rescue programs is on my bucket list. If I can’t halter break a half-pint cow I surely wouldn’t have what it takes to break the horse. So I press on. Slowly. (Well as slow as I can.)

I Kept the Manual

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This year my garden was less than successful. It was pitiful really. All the “know how” I have about how to properly prepare a garden plot went right out the window last spring. I am impatient when it comes to planting seeds, usually it turns out ok, but sometimes it’s just a waste of space (and time and energy and money). I put the garden in what used to be a horse corral. The ground is hard packed and filled with deeply rooted nettles and wild raspberries; both of which when tilled, will turn each chopped up piece into yet another plant. It was a loosing battle right out of the gate.

We tilled the ground a couple times with the tractor which worked ok but the threat of unknown rocks kept us from running it deep enough. I tilled with our walk-behind tiller. That about killed me! I had one foot on the ground and one foot on the tiller to push it through the hard packed ground. By the time I was doing the splits it was time to take another step. I went over the whole garden in this fashion…once. It should have been done a few more times but, well, “good enough for this year” I thought. I was not going through that torture again. My poke-a-dot mud boots were caked with muck and my lemon apron was black from me cleaning my hands after digging the mud off the tires.

Seeds were planted and straw put down in a feeble attempt to reduce the weeds. I think at least half the seeds washed away in the rainy spring and a good portion of seed potatoes rotted in the ground too.

I’ve decided our garden is done for the year; after a hand full of green beans, a couple golden beets and one cucumber that looked like a small, green, baseball.

Done.

That whole part of the property we want to remove the weeds and rocks, till, smooth and make usable ground for vegetable garden, orchard and lawn. Next year is planned to be the year of landscaping. I have been dreading the tilling.

As I was pulling weeds in the raspberry patch one afternoon I heard a very enthusiastic squeal from the other end of the barn and it wasn’t the little boy. It was my husband. After two years for pushing that heavy, hard to move, rear tine tiller he discovered
IT’S SELF PROPELLED!!
Are you flipping kidding me?!! Ahh!

I still get excited just thinking about. Do you know how much easier working the gardens will be?! And how dumb I feel for not figuring that out two years ago?! I kept the manual, I guess I should have read it too.

Cleaning Clay

I’ve have always wanted to take clay from the ground, clean it and make a bowl or something out of it. Years ago I did bring home a 5 gallon bucket full that I had dug while dad was working in the field. He put it in the truck and hauled it home for me and there it sat. I didn’t get the rest of the materials rounded up to actually do the project. Well, history does repeat it self because I have a large soup pot of clay that I dug out of the sump pump hole in the basement. This time however, I’m pretty sure I have all the pieces to finish the project.

The problem the first time around was the directions I had to clean the clay required screens and more buckets and a list of things that even if I could have rounded them up I’m pretty sure dad would have been less than thrilled to find me coating them with mud and clay.

This time however I have figured out that clay is lighter than the sand, rocks and other bits of stuff that need to get cleaned out of it. I didn’t take “during” pictures because me, a camera, mud and a hose, well lets just say something was bound to go wrong.

Step one:
Fill the bucket of clay with water. With your hands get everything moving. Smash the chunks with your fingers and stir everything up really good. By this time the water will be very cloudy and your arm will be coated with dirty water.

Step two:
Let the bucket of water sit for a few minutes. This will allow the heavier particles to sink while the clay particles stay suspended in the water.

Step three:
Pour the clay water into another bucket leaving the particles that settled on the bottom in the bucket. Rise out the unwanted chunks.

Repeat steps one thru three until there is next to nothing settling on the bottom of the bucket. Depending on how dirty the clay is this could take three to six times.

Once your sure you have gotten all the sand out let the clay water sit for a couple days. The water will turn clear and you will see the clay on the bottom. Pour out the water and allow the clay to dry until it is a workable consistency. The drying time will vary considerably depending on the heat and humidity where the clay is being kept.

Viola, ready to use clay!

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Next up, Using your clay.