The Cowboy and the Steer

Some days, no matter what you do, you just can’t get the cows to do what you want.

We had one of those days recently. Our steer was ready to be butchered, we had a stock trailer standing by, and extra guys to help load him. All we needed to do was get that one steer into the stock trailer.

That’s all. Just one steer.

That proved to be easier said than done. That steer did not want to be caught. He lead them on a merry chase that ended when he walked through the fence into the neighbors pasture, and stood there, just out of reach, smugly looking back.

It was so frustrating.

One of the guys commented that the only way that we were going to catch that animal was with a professional cowboy.

Everybody looked at him incredulously. Just where does one find a professional cowboy in southern Iowa?

Believe it or not, living just a few miles away! Now in some parts of the country, real life cowboys are a dime a dozen, but in southern Iowa, they are a rare commodity. And we had one for a neighbor!

So they called him.

And he came.

He stepped out of that big diesel pickup every inch a cowboy, from his boots to his belt bucket, all the way up to his hat. He even had spurs (but no chaps, but then, it was only one cow.)

He had five dogs, all with radio collars, and his horse. From the time he saddled up and let all five dogs loose, it took him less than 15 minutes to have that steer lassoed. Fifteen minutes.

The dogs then walked that repentant steer right up to the trailer.

When the guys picked their jaws back up, they helped him load that now docile steer and sent him on his way to become our dinner.

Thank you cowboy, you not only saved our steak and hamburger, you gave our friends an exciting, but very short rodeo. Not bad for a night’s work!

It’s a Jungle In There

It’s a jungle in my garden right now!

The entire bottom third of the big garden is one solid mess of vines – mostly butternut squash and sugar pumpkins.

MelonsAnd I do mean a solid mess.

There must be a ga-zillion squash and pumpkins in there – but I really don’t venture too far in to explore.

You see – the other day I tried it and something furry and four-legged rustled through the vines ahead of me.

It’s probably just a bunny – but you can never be too careful about things like that. I’m remembering our recent woodchuck with a fondness for winter squash.

He may have friends.

Maybe if I wore hip boots. Do you think a wood chuck could bite through rubber?

On second thought – maybe I’ll just wait for a nice frost so the vines die away a little! 🙂

TomatosThen there’s my monster tomato plants.

These things are like small trees!

They are huge and they are everywhere. It’s a nightmare to pick them.

You know how tomato vines make your arms turn green and leave a sticky slimy stuff when you touch them? I get covered with it every time I pick! I have to literally claw my way through the plants and reach way inside the tomato cages to finally get the tomatoes.

It’s a nasty job and nobody wants to do it.

I think my kids would rather scrub the bathroom floor with a toothbrush than go into the garden and pick tomatoes!

Note to self:  next year plant the tomatoes much further apart.

And get more and stronger tomato cages!

But in all seriousness – I love this season in the garden! It’s all about harvesting and enjoying – about planning your meals around what you just picked.

Even if it means wearing full-battle gear to get the harvest!

I’ve linked this post up with The Tuesday Garden Party over at The Oregon Cottage.

How Much Wood Could A Woodchuck Chuck…

It must be the summer for varmints.

First the coon, then the bunnies, and now a wood chuck.

I remember reading that back in the depression hobos used to leave marks on fences and trees so other tramps would know the houses to avoid, which ones had good food and where the mean dogs were.

I’m thinking some varmint put a sign out in the back 40 saying, ” Try these humans – they’re an easy mark and worth a laugh!”

However he found us – a solitary woodchuck ambled into the yard a few weeks ago and decided to make a permanent home under the wood pile in the machine shed (the only outbuilding with a gravel floor.)

We did not realize his presence for awhile and by the time Pedro first noticed the large pile of dirt and gravel in the back of the shed – he had dug out quite a home for himself.

My husband was not happy.

At first I didn’t mind so much. He was kind of cute in a 4- legged varmint-y kind of way. Besides he stuck to himself and didn’t chase chickens or eat my edamame.

But then I discovered the partially eaten pumpkins and winter squash in the garden.

Cute little Chuckie had crossed the line.

Now – how does one remove an unwanted woodchuck from his burrow underneath a large pile of wood inside a machine shed?

Good question.  But – never fear – Google has the answer.

We set the live trap for him – right outside the front entrance of his domicile – and baited it with carrots just as the website said.

Within 4 hours little Chuckie was history and his home was blocked up so no other little varmint would move in.

Maybe I should add a “no vacancy” sign.

Or “vagrants not welcome”.

Take that you little varmints. These humans are getting smart.

Photo thanks to Matt Reinbold.

The Sad Tale of Little Bunny Fufu

It is a sad tale that I share today – one of a life gone bad.

It is the tale of Little Bunny Fufu.

It all started with a simple bag of edamame seeds given to me by a friend at church to try in the garden.

I planted that bag of edamame  right next to my green beans – never dreaming the drama that would unfold because of them.

Those seeds sprouted and grew into sturdy little plants. I weeded them and watered them and watched them with pride.

All the while –  in the grass just beyond the garden lurked Little Bunny Fufu – just watching and waiting.

He and two of his buddies made their first move on the morning of Father’s Day. Jan discovered the pesky varmints systematically eating off all the leaves on the edamame.

And I do mean systematically. They started at both ends and worked toward the middle.

The peace and serenity of my garden was shattered as 2 well-aimed gunshots ended the crime spree of Little Bunny Fufu’s friends – but Little Bunny Fufu escaped into the pasture.

He hopped back to his bunny den to mourn his friends and plot revenge.

Meanwhile, we upped our garden patrols and kept the .22 handy.

All was quiet for a few weeks. We spotted bunnies surveying the territory – casually nibbling on the sweet clover in the lawn – but they never venturing into the garden.

They were waiting.


I checked the garden just before we left on our camping trip over the weekend. The edamame  were coming back beautifully and the electric fence was hot.

We felt safe in leaving.

And all was safe – until Tuesday.

At some point on Tuesday afternoon one of the rogue squash plants grew just enough to send out a shoot that shorted out the fence.

Little Bunny Fufu was waiting for just such an opportunity. He hopped into the garden with his new gang of outlaws and started systematically to eat the edamame.

I happened to be making my rounds at the time and saw the varmints in action.

I rushed to the workshop where Jan was busy fixing a mower (this time of year Jan is always in the shop fixing a mower!), threw open the door and yelled, “The bunnies are in the garden!”

Had I been more dramatic I would have added, “Avenge my edamame!”

He did. Three shots later three bunny accomplices lay dead near the edamame they craved.

But little Bunny Fufu once again escaped into the tall grass of the pasture.

We sighed and were heading back to the shop when out of the corner of his eye Jan saw movement.

Would you believe it was Little Bunny Fufu heading back to the garden!

He saw Jan and stopped halfway to the fence.

They eyed each other in the heat of the late afternoon.

Then Jan raised his gun and ended the life of the bunny gone bad.

Learn a lesson from Little Bunny Fufu – crime doesn’t pay. Stay on your side of the fence.

It’s All in the Name

Cow There’s a new kid on our block.

He has 4 legs, a cheesy smile and is black and white all over.

Cute little fella ain’t he!

But don’t get attached. This little guy will end up being supper in a few months.

Because of that I started calling him “Hamburger”.

The kids weren’t impressed with that name – so I suggested T-bone. That didn’t fly either.

They reminded me of our last cow. We had named him Mud Puddle –  because – well – he just looked like a Mud Puddle!

The kids are sure that Mud Puddle took offense at his name and caused trouble just to get even. He would wait until we were all packed and in the car ready to head somewhere – and then he would get out of his pen and lead us on a merry chase.

I think he got out every holiday and every time we had company.

Believe me – he tasted really good.

They kids wanted to avoid a repeat of that unfortunate situation – so they began sharing their ideas –





Brown Cow. (But he’s black and white?!)

Optimist. (And yes – I’m a little concerned about what this child will name my future grandchildren!)

Shakespeare. (That’s kind of cute!)

The ideas got wilder and sillier until Jan finally said that we would just sleep on it.

That evening as we watching TV, I kept hearing the little guy mooing.  It sounded like it was right outside the window.

It was.

The little stinker had gotten out already. (For the record – Jan had the boys build the pen themselves.  After they got the little guy back in, they fixed the flaw in their construction!)

When they finally got him settled again – Matt suggested the name “Moo-dini”.

But there was something about his face that just didn’t look like a famous escape artist, or – for that matter –  an English writer that uses high brow words.

No – his expression looked more Barney Fife when he wanted Andy’s approval. You know the look – it says “Hey Ang – did I do good? Did I do good? Huh, huh? ”

Hmm… maybe he does look a little like a Barney.

Surely he wouldn’t object to that name?

You don’t think he’s ever seen the Andy Griffith Show – do you?

4 Legged Varmints

Spring! It looks like you are finally here!

The temperatures are warming up, there’s rain – not snow in the forecast, and the 4 legged varmints are back.

You know the ones – raccoons, ‘possums, skunks and the like.

Although none of these animals actually hibernates during the winter months, they sleep longer and don’t do as much stuff. Some call it a state of “tupor” – waking from time to time to search for food.

That sounds very familiar – much like my own winter pattern! 🙂

As the days get longer and the warmer, they venture out and become nuisances.

We counted 3 dead skunks on the way to church yesterday. (Bet those cars will remember that stretch of highway for a long time!)

One friend reported that a critter had gotten into their chicken coop and killed every chicken. The intruder didn’t eat them – just killed them.

Another friend had a similar occurrence – but they only lost half of their flock.

At lunch today – I  saw a big fat ‘possum walking across the farm yard as if he owned the place.  I was concerned that he might be diseased so I checked online.

The site I found was full of interesting information. I discovered that although opossums are nocturnal, to have them wandering around in daylight isn’t too unusual – just like cats.

They are also very immune to rabies, but you should still avoid getting a bite. (Now that’s good advise!)

I also found that possum tastes like chicken, but if you wish to eat them, you should first catch it and feed it table scraps and other good food for a while to work all the carrion out of its system.

Right… like I really want to look the critter in the face and ask when it ate it’s last meal of carrion?! I wonder how long it would take to remove the effects of a carrion diet anyway?

But this particular sight didn’t recommend the practice of eating opossums at all. It sited that “a small cadre of renegade opossums has been known to have sought out people who have eaten their compatriots and lay siege to their dwelling. Armed with crude but efficient crossbows, they may shoot arrows into the car tires or capture and hold hostage the pets of the offending citizens.

Wow! And since it’s online – you know it has to be true! I guess we’ll cross ‘possum off the menu this week.

I sent the boys out to take care of the offending critter.

Let’s just say it won’t be eating any of our chickens or eggs; nor will we be eating it.

Things will settle down here in a few weeks when the rest of our corner of the world wakes up and shakes off the winter doldrums.

But in the meantime we’ll keep the critter gun ready – and a close eye on the flock!

Too Many Ticks: Lyme Disease Alert

Dog TickThis is the worst season for ticks I can ever remember. They are a part of life here in the country that you just learn to deal with. But this year they are thick!

We noticed that they like moisture and are more numerous in years with a wet spring. This year has been very wet and the ticks are everywhere.

My hubby and I took a walk the other night and when I came home I had over 25 tiny ticks crawling around my ankles. Yuck!

The larger ticks, Lone Star and Dog Ticks are bad enough, but at least you can see them.

It’s the Deer Ticks that cause us the greatest concern. They are so tiny you don’t even notice them. They look almost like a very small moving freckle.

My Father-in-law contracted Lyme Disease about three years and it took several months for a correct diagnosis to made. He was a very sick man. After several strong rounds of antibiotics he has recovered although he still has residual pain in his knees.

Needless to say, we take ticks very seriously around here.

We do frequent and careful “tick checks”. If we are in the house, we put all ticks into a small jar of rubbing alcohol to die. This is the one sure way to kill them. They Tick jar and Tick Tapefloat when you try to flush them down the toilet and then have a tendency to climb out. They are impossible to crush and cutting them in half with a knife is rather disgusting. So the tick jar works very well for us.

When we are outside walking or hiking, we carry a roll of masking tape with us, we call it our Tick Tape. (It fits around your wrist just like a bracelet.) When we have a tick, we just use a small piece of tape to pull it off. Then the tick is stuck on the masking tape and dies. We just throw the piece of tape away.

Every once in awhile we miss one. My hubby found a deer tick attached about two weeks ago, I just found one this morning.

When this happens, we try to isolate the tick and keep it. Then we watch for symptoms beginning with the rash (which isn’t always a bull’s eye, but can look like other things) and then the severe flu like symptoms.

So far so good on my hubby and we’ll keep watching mine…