I started the day with cow shit in my bathrobe pocket and ended it with a bottle calf named Ole.
I was in the kitchen just waiting for the coffee to finish and trying to get the kids out the door on time. One of my favorite views is that out the kitchen window, looking out to the front yard, the barn and corral. This morning the corral didn’t look well.
The January thaw that usually only lasts for a couple days has lasted for a few weeks this year and we have been taking full advantage of the warm weekends. It has been a great time to get everyone’s pens deep cleaned before we plummet back into sub-zero temperatures. It was pretty exciting to have a blister on my hand mid-winter that wasn’t from a woodstove. That’s some good work! This Sunday was no exception.
Once the kids were down for their afternoon naps Mike and I headed to the barn. I was busy cleaning in the cow pen; we are going to have some great compost this year! I was happily running my pitch fork getting things all pretty for the herd while Mike was busy in the goat pen. I had the bigger area but he had the bigger job I would say. The ducks are doing quite well in the goat pen and not making nearly the water mess they could. They are however making themselves known. Mike spent a portion of time chipping the little ice rink out from around the mini stock tank. He then removed the tank and shoved Stinky Hank back into his own pen. His time with Scarlet was up. With any luck there will be some kids coming late spring! With everyone separated accordingly we were able to install the insulated tank my dad made. Talk about nice! Those are some spoiled goats!
I had the cow pen cleaned just as Mike was ready to start wheel barrowing out the goat pen cleanings. It was the same time that the cows remembered there was a fresh bag of alfalfa cubes in the barn and if they all line up to the rail there’s a good chance of getting a treat or two (or five if the Little Miss is feeding). This isn’t a big deal but to get to the winter heap we have to go through the cow pen. For the most part this is done without a second thought. The eager faces were quickly disappointed when the realized I was not going to be handing out and treats, but they were not moving. G.W. (the bull) has watched me take Sweet Caroline out of the pen a few times through that gate and he’s been pretty sure that that’s where he wants to head. Smart cow, he knows where the good stuff is kept.
I turned around just in time to see the Little Boy slide out of the wheel barrow, barefoot on the gravel driveway. The wheel barrow was clean according the wheel barrow standards; it hadn’t carried manure in a few months and had been used elsewhere in the meantime. His jeans would need to be removed before he goes into the house, mud dried between his fingers and dirt from ear to ear. “Thank God we are able to raise our children out here.” I thought as I turned back to the Little Miss who was sitting on the tractor. She’s all about cows, tractors and baby dolls right now. There she was clothes speckled with dried mud from the duck pen, sand in her ponytail that was already falling apart (again) and a face that was looks like she was eating dirt not too long ago.
I know it’s crazy to be thankful for dirt behind the ears but we are. Did you know that most people forget to wash behind their ears? Not at our house! Our kids are very involved with our outdoor work. It starts with the baby carrier in the stroller and once they can walk they are on our heels… or somewhere close by. They are always encouraged to help even when their helping is not so helpful. I’m already talking up how much fun it is to stack square bales on the hay wagon in July. They are so excited to be big enough to help with that! Yes!! They really do enjoy helping with any task at hand. Especially tasks that require a hose and/or water, the ones that can get really messy. The trick is to keep them busy allowing them to explore but not too much (if that’s possible).
It’s been a long time since I’ve talked with a dear friend. Years, to be honest. In fact I think the last time we hung out I could have killed us both if it weren’t for Jane stopping us before we left the bar parking lot. Not the brightest decision I ever made, the angels were watching over us that night. It was a fun night of bad karaoke, Jack Daniels and a polka if I remember correctly. Years leading up to that had plenty of good times, shooting clays in the gravel pit, four-wheeling and so on.
A lot has changed since then, life sent us other directions which is expected. The news a few years ago that a pace maker was needed was a surprise. More recently the news of him in need of a heart transplant caught me completely off guard. It’s not news that you hear every day or if you’re lucky never in a lifetime and especially about a friend so young. I sent a message “we’ll be praying for you” and that’s what we did. What else is there to do in a situation like this?
Today we say “goodbye” to a great little steer. Elvis and I have had “the talk” a few times and the day has come. Last night he was loaded into my uncle’s stock trailer accompanied by a few more with the same destination. I was both excited and sad as I filled out the butchers order form indicating how I would like him returned… little white packages. The freezer has been unplugged for most of the summer so the thought of it once again full and of our grass fed beef this time is pretty exciting. It will also be nice to not be calling mom “do you have an extra package of burger?” It happens often.