Stories of life on our farm in Northwest Georgia where every day is an adventure in this beautiful spot that God has entrusted to our stewardship.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Another Eventful Week

Herb and I made a trip this week to southern Missouri to pick up stuff from my dad's house.  He passed away on D-Day.  For months now, my two aunts and uncle have been making regular trips from up near St. Louis, sorting through everything in the house, and filling a room with things for the three of us girls.  The end of last week my sister Barbara drove here with my nephew J and niece Carrie, who volunteered to feed the animals while we were gone.  We showed them what to do on Sunday evening, then hit the road.

♪ "Monday, Monday, can't trust that day!" ♫ We were treated to snow, freezing cold and icy winds.  On our way through Kentucky we passed four accidents in a short while on the slippery, snowy back roads.  Pulling a horse trailer through that made for some tense driving, but at least we were only carrying empty boxes.

By the time we got to the Ohio River, the snow had stopped and we could enjoy the view.

There's something about a river and barges that thrills me--maybe being born near the Mississippi River (pictured here) it got into my blood.

Despite a busy Monday afternoon and evening packing and a busy Tuesday morning loading the horse trailer, there was time for sharing memories, hugs and laughter with Barbara, Aunt Shirley, Aunt Dot and me.  (Uncle Rich had already gone home, and Herb was the photographer.)

All too soon we were back on the road again.  Driving conditions were a lot better.  Even the Mississippi looked a more cheerful shade of blue!  This photo was taken at the convergence with the Ohio River.

Wherever these barges had come from, they toted some snow on the Ohio.

The countryside is flatter than we're used to, the fields are bigger, and the tractors are even bigger.  Another thing that's big in Missouri is Dexters, and it was quite frustrating to be so close to so many Dexter breeders and not stop to visit a single one!

When we got home at 10 p.m. on Tuesday night, J was eager to let Herb know that he could sleep in the next morning, that he and Carrie would be glad to feed.  I enjoyed peeking out the window with my telephoto lens to watch them at work.  When they finished they shooed Sir Loin and Royal out of the garage where the hay is stored and headed back to the house.

Herb enjoyed getting to sleep in after two and a half days of driving, packing and more driving, and looking at the thermometer's 18° I was thankful to be observing from inside.  J hurried back to the house to let us know that he had finally made friends with Wellie, who stood there in bliss getting scratched behind his ears.  It was pretty cool to see J so excited and happy about doing chores in 18° weather!  You can tell we left our animals in good hands.

While we were driving home Tuesday, Barbara celebrated her ??th birthday, so Kara cooked a wonderful Moroccan meal Wednesday night, followed by Carrie's delicious homemade grape pie.

♫ Happy Birthday, sweet middle sister! ♪

Kara was too tired out from cooking to protest having her picture taken!

Finally on Thursday it was time to say goodbye.

Misty reveled in playing chase with Herb while Carrie packed the car.

She did a masterful job packing and managed to squeeze everything in . . .

. . . except her brother!  We suggested he should try out his grip before they hit the road.

We weren't quite sure of the best way for him to get home.
And then someone discovered that Carrie had left room for him after all!  J and the hat both fit!

Misty did her best to keep them from leaving . . .

. . . but despite her valiant efforts, they disappeared down the road.

In case you're wondering what I'm going to do with myself now that everyone's gone . . . here are a few of the boxes of photos and papers that I've offered to sort and archive for us girls.  I guess I'll be putting this long, cold winter to good use!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Eventful Week in Review

This has been an eventful week that would definitely get mixed reviews.

On Sunday I found Robin laying out flat in the barnyard with one leg curled under her and the wing on the same side partially splayed out.  She was very cold and snuggled into me when I picked her up.  I brought her into the laundry room and put her in a milk crate lined with hay with some water and crumble at hand, and I put a floor lamp with lots of wattage next to her to warm her up.  She ate and drank a bit and seemed pretty bright-eyed, although she didn't seem at all inclined to move.

On Monday Kim Newswanger arrived to pick up Tiggy, and of course we went out to let Kim say hi to Ebony since Kim was her first mama.  You can imagine my shock when just as I was taking this photo, Kim said, "What's this?"  Ebby had a lump on the underside of her jaw just about where Kim's hand is in the photo.  Neither of us knew what it was, and it was very hard to see through the long hair under her jaw, but it was obviously painful.  There was a small scab which I picked off, and it had a small amount of pus on the inside.  A call to the vet was in order.

I had warned Kim that I have not been able to make friends with Tiggy.  This is as far as we've gotten--and only while she's eating!  As soon as the grain is gone she backs away from me.  Her "safety zone" has gradually gone down from about 10 to 2 feet, but she is definitely wary of us.
We had to corner Tiggy to catch her and put Kim's halter on her.  I've told Kim all along that she's a cow whisperer and that as soon as Tiggy meets her she'll melt in a big puddle of chocolate all over Kim.  It wasn't quite that dramatic, but Tiggy warmed up to her pretty quickly!

With a lot of coaxing, Kim led Tiggy out to the trailer, and she hopped right in!  One thing that made me feel a tiny bit better was that Tiggy was actually grinding her teeth as Kim led her--the process was apparently that agonizing!  She recovered quickly--after just a few days at her new home, she comes right up to Kim for treats and scratches.  I told Kim that my story (since Tiggy isn't telling a different one) is that this smart little cookie heard in utero that she wasn't meant to be ours, that she was meant to go back to live with Kim.  I think she's just been waiting all this time for her real mama to come get her, so why waste any affection on me?  :)

After Kim and Tiggy left, we switched animals to different pastures.  Now that Tiggy is gone, we don't have to keep Royal two pastures away from her, so we moved the cattle up to Kara's pasture, their winter sacrifice pasture.   Angel, Brandy and Julie had been in the back of Kara's pasture getting to know Romeo over the electric fence, but I wanted them to have a lot more room for their first official meeting so we put them all out where the cattle had been.  Of course everyone took off galloping!

While Angel and Brandy found some green grass, Julie went over to meet Romeo.

"Hi." BAM!  I guess being the smallest and lowest on the totem pole, she wanted to put him in his place right off the bat.

Romeo realized Julie was not his Juliet, and he high-tailed it out of there.

 Of course the harem followed right on his heels.

Don't we have a colorful bunch?  (In more ways than one!)

We also have some very opinionated ladies, and Brandy's opinion is that SHE is the Alpha mare!

Finally the girls hared off on their own and left Romeo alone.  He has always been a sweet, peaceful guy and pretty low on the totem pole as long as we've known him.

As the sun set, equine relations seemed to reach d├ętente.

Meanwhile, I had called the vet about Ebby's lump, and he said he'd try to get here in a day or so.  I was worried that she might have something called "lumpy jaw," which I knew was serious, and I wanted to get her seen as soon as possible.

Finally I finally found a vet who could come on Wednesday.  So that afternoon we got Ebby in the squeeze chute to get her lump checked out and see what had caused it.  The vet shaved the lump and gave her a thorough examination, including looking inside her mouth.  Although he had never actually seen a case of lumpy jaw, he said that it is usually located farther back on the jaw, closer to the cheek.  He said that Ebby's lump seemed to be an abscess, probably caused by inflammation from new teeth, and it appeared to have already drained.  The lump, while still tender, felt thick and didn't have an open channel.  As a precaution, he cleaned it well with an antiseptic and took a swab in the small bloody spot that was visible after cleaning.  The culture would take a week to get results, and he told me to keep iodine on it in the meantime.  I felt reassured, although I was still concerned.

Wednesday morning I had noticed that Robin seemed to be going downhill.  Figuring it couldn't hurt and might encourage her to move, I fixed up a pen for her on the back porch in the sunshine and put her there with food and water.  She simply lay there, uninterested in anything.  When the sun moved, I shifted her to take advantage of the warm rays.  Later that afternoon when I came back to check on her after treating Ebby, poor Robin had died.  I was glad she'd had the sun on her back for her last morning.

Late Thursday afternoon I got a call from our main cattle vet.  He had hoped to get out here but wasn't going to make it, so he was checking on Ebby.  He said that he was pretty sure she had an abscess and that normally he would drain it and give her a shot of Excede, a long-acting antibiotic.  Since it had already drained, if I wanted to meet him somewhere, he'd give me the Excede.  So Friday morning I got Ebby into the squeeze chute and gave her the shot--although it wasn't quite as simple as it sounds.  Cows HATE shots!  Nevertheless, thanks to the squeeze chute, Ebony got her Excede.  I was glad to see that the lump had shrunk some more and was definitely less tender.

By this morning the lump looked smaller, although I think Ebby may always have a lump of scar tissue.  She let me scratch it, though, which I took as a good sign.

Herb had clued me in to something he had observed, and I could hardly believe what he told me.  So I took the camera with me this morning so that I could write a fitting end to the story of this week.

It may not be too surprising to see Romeo pin his ears at Julie and tell her to leave his grain alone.  After all, she was the first to try to kick his teeth in!
And it may not be surprising to see Angel, close to Romeo and warning Julie off, especially if you remember that Angel knew Romeo long ago before he went to Texas.  What is really astonishing is what you DON'T see in this photo--Brandy!  That's because Brandy was up eating hay . . . which she could finally do after Romeo left.

Meet Romeo, the new Alpha!  Angel--the only one who didn't try to kick him--is his sidekick, and Brandy--the former Alpha--is neck and neck with Julie for last place.  I think Romeo is saying that the moral to this story is:  "He who laughs last, laughs best!"

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Yesterday I Sold My First Grandchild

Seventeen months ago, our first Dexter grandchild was born right outside our back door.

We named her "ZH Siobhan's Macree" because Macree is an Irish term of endearment meaning "my heart."  Siobhan obviously adored her, and we did, too.

She was lively and fun . . .

. . . and oh-so-sweet.  On my birthday that July Macree and I had a bonding session where she melted all over my lap while I caressed her for 20 minutes.  I will always treasure that memory.

Macree's new owner wanted her bred so when she was 15 months old, she met our bull, Mrald Crown Royal. This past weekend I brought Macree up near the barn to be ready for the vet to draw blood for biotracking, a non-invasive pregnancy check.  She missed being with Royal, Siobhan and Wellie, and Sir Loin the steer, but she hung out with them across the fence and even shared their hay.  When they wandered off she would go up and eat hay with Romeo.  She hung around the barn a lot, too, wanting our company.  That's when I got this photo of her scratching what itches.

This photo just cracks me up!  Macree says, "See how Dexter-ous I am?"  Silly girl!

On Thursday the biotracking came back positive--she was pregnant, and she was ready to go to her new home.

Here's Macree coming up to meet her new owner, not quite sure what's going on.

Macree showed what a good girl she is, walking right into the stanchion to eat her bit of grain.  She has been easy to train, having gotten used to being tied next to the stanchion while her mama was milked since she was two months old.  It was an easy step up into the stanchion itself, and even fastening the neck catch didn't faze her.  She lets me touch her udder and teats without so much as twitching a foot.

Finally it was time for one last hug and kiss.

Macree found something yummy on the trailer door.

A sweetheart to the last, she stepped right up into the trailer.  I don't know why I felt like a traitor--probably because I couldn't explain to her what was happening.  She took it perfectly in stride, though, and started eating her bedding.  The trailer disappeared down the road on the way to pick up a new steer buddy before heading to her new home, a very good one where she'll be very well cared for.

A couple hours after the trailer disappear down the road, I got a text:  "Happy cows!  :)"  And that made me a happy grandma!