Calf Races

It’s Teen Pact week for Buddy!

While he is at the Iowa State Capitol running for office, passing legislation, playing ultimate Frisbee and hanging out with friends – I’m doing his chores at home.

So of course – a cow gets out.

I spotted it eating grass in the ditch on Tuesday. My first response was to call Buddy – who would have grabbed his boots and coat and calmly taken care of the situation.

But then I remembered that he was gone.

So I called Angel Girl – who thankfully had the day off from work.

“Can we do this ourselves?” I asked.

Angel Girl took one look and said, “It’s just a calf – no problem – I got this.”

“Do you need my help?”

She shrugs, “You can come out if you want to.”

By the time I went to the bathroom (at my age you don’t run anywhere with a full bladder), found shoes and socks and a hoodie, she had calmly walked out and with a few waves of her arms had that calf were he belonged.

Seriously.

In yoga pants, flip flops and a t-shirt.

I was impressed.

Fast forward 24 hours.

I look out the kitchen window and see that same varmint calf in the ditch.

What? I thought the fence was fixed?

Buddy’s gone. Angel Girl’s at work. It’s just me. But if they can do this, honestly, how hard can it be?

I went to the bathroom as a precautionary measure, found shoes and socks and a hoodie and walked calmly down the road just like the kids.

But that calf took one look at me and started running. The opposite direction. Fast.

Seriously? Do I look that scary in the morning? Maybe I should have combed my hair?

We run back and forth along the fence line a few times before he bolted for the yard. Under the clothesline, past the house, and through the garden with me in hot pursuit.

He hooked a right just as we got to the gate, ran back to the yard and we did the whole thing again.

Twice.

As we rounded the corner past the house for the third time I called it quits.

Varmint calf won.

I walked in the house and called my husband.

I can’t tell you what I said, but it worked.

He drove home.

He calmly walked to the ditch where he found the varmint calf resting, obviously exhausted after our race.

Then he waved his hands.

And that varmint calf miraculously found the hole in the fence and jumped back in.

Boom. Just like that.

I give up.

I think I’ll stick to quilting.

Fresh Gravel

DSC_0018There are a few realities that those of us who live beyond the pavement have to accept as a part of life.

Important things – like fresh gravel.

One might think that fresh gravel would be a good thing, after all it fills in holes and those nasty ruts that come after a heavy rain.

But the initiated know better. They slow down to almost Amish buggy speed on fresh gravel. They’ve learned the hard way that fresh gravel is slick.

It just lays on top of the existing surface like a pile of marbles on your living room floor. if you drive too fast it can send you flying where you don’t expect to go.

Like upside down in the ditch.

Just ask Angel Girl.

But that’s not all – they also know that fresh gravel is sharp.

Really sharp.

Like puncture a tire sharp.

As in four new tires in the last two months sharp.

So sharp we punctured a brand new tire within weeks of buying it. Weeks.

I jokingly said, “Those folks at the tire store must really love us after all the money we’ve spent there this spring!”

Then – a few days later – Angel Girl got a card in the mail. No return address but it had a local postmark. She opened it and held up a nice graduation card with a gift card inside.  She looked confused. “Who are these people?” she asked.

A quick look at the signatures made me laugh out loud.

The owners of the local tire store.

I knew they liked us!

 

 

Chick Date

chick dateJan asked me on a date today.

He said he would pick me up as soon as he got home from work and then we would drive through the beautiful countryside on an adventure to pick up the week old baby chicks he bought from a guy on the Swap.

I like dates. I like baby chicks. I like drives through the beautiful countryside with my husband. So of course I said yes.

We took off in the Geo (the little tin can on wheels that Jan drives) across miles and miles of gravel roads.

And all those gravel roads were covered with new gravel.

Trust me when I say that driving on new gravel in the tin can car is not an enjoyable experience.

But we finally arrived at the farm of the nice older man who was selling the chicks.  This fella was quite the character and entertained us for at least 15 minutes with stories punctuated with “dadgum” and “cotton picking” before he produced the chickens from somewhere inside the house.

We pronounced them perfect and paid him.

Then he continued, without a breath, for another twenty minutes with more “dadgum” and “cotton picking” stories.

We finally pulled ourselves away and took our box of chicks to the car.

I climbed in first and Jan handed me the box saying, “You better hold them.”

So I did.

Off we go, in the Geo, down the gravel road covered with new gravel, with a box of week old chicks in my lap.

Did I mention the fact the Geo makes makes strange and wondrous noises – especially when it is bouncing along on new gravel?

All these noises and wild bouncing frightens the little chicks. Do you know what little chicks do when they are frightened? I immediately wished for a thicker box as that tiny car started to smell very ripe.

I, of course, got a nose full and was praying for deliverance when my husband announces, “I think the guy we get our honey from lives down this road.” And he turns down a gravel road in the opposite direction.

The bumpy turn on new gravel really sets the little chicks off and they attempt to fly out of the box on my lap.

So now we are taking the long way home, in the Geo, on gravel roads with new gravel, while I’m holding a box of week old chicks who are pooping up a storm and trying to fly in my face.

It was a long, smelly ride.

It is safe to say that I did not enjoy the beautiful countryside, nor could I enjoy the lovely fragrance of the wild plum blossoms that lined the ditches on both sides of the road.

At least he came through with the adventure part.

Trust me when I say that I plan to be the only chick on our next date. 🙂

Before the Grass Comes In

IMG_2168I’ve discovered that there is a new season on the farm – one that our city cousins don’t necessarily encounter.

I call it “Before the grass comes in.”

This season happens directly after the snow melts and before the grass greens up and starts growing – which signifies the start of the spring busy season.

I know the season has arrived when I hear  –

“Those varmint cedar trees need to be picked up and burned before the grass comes in.”

“I’ve got to get that baler fixed before the grass comes in.”

“Those locust trees down by the pond should be taken care of before the grass comes in.”

“I really should burn the ditches before the grass comes in.”

“There’s lots of brush and thorns to clean up from that last snow storm before the grass comes in.”

With each added minute of daylight as spring approaches, the list gets longer and my husband gets busier.

And I will admit that he’s not the only one with a list.

I know that as soon as the grass turns green all indoor projects will be put on hold until the ground freezes next fall.

There’s a shower that needs to be fixed, a quilt that needs to be finished and a basement that we’ve been slowly working on all winter.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if these projects sit undone. It’s hard to get motivated to work inside when the sun is shining and the temperatures are climbing!

After all – the grass is greening up!

“Just Fencing in The Rain”

There’s a reason that farm wives like to live in the country.

Not only do we enjoy the peace and quiet of nature – but we also appreciate the fact that no one is around to see our fashion faux pas.

This fact became very clear to me recently while standing in the rain holding fence posts for my husband who was fixing the electric fence.

It wasn’t raining when we started – but it didn’t take long for the light drizzle to get heavier until soon my blue jeans were so wet that movement was difficult, especially on a wet and slippery hillside dotted with fresh cow pies.

Then my glasses got all steamed up and so covered with rain drops that I couldn’t see anything.

Which was good. Because I would have been mortified if I could see the damage the rain was doing to my head.

It wasn’t until later – when I was inside drying off  – that I glanced in a mirror and discovered what I really looked like.

The rain had totally soaked the top of my head, plastering the hair down, while the humidity in the air started frizzing the sides out until that hair was almost horizontal.

This unique look could only be described as Bozo the clown.

Not exactly my proudest fashion moment.

At least nobody saw me.

And I didn’t slip on a cow pie.

And I clean up good.

It’s all in a day’s work for a farm wife.

Grass Fire

It seems that two weeks ago was a busy one for our local volunteer fire department.

They fought the fire at Jan’s work, a house fire and three out of control grass fires all in 24 hours.

But it didn’t end there. There were at least two – but sometimes three – grass fires every day that week. Dagmar – after spending hours sitting in the ambulance watching grass burn – would come home complaining about the silly people who let things get out of control while burning ditches.

I mean honestly!grass fire

Fast forward to Saturday.

Jan and the boys are out helping Poppa burn his ditches. (You know what’s coming – don’t you?)

A gust of wind from the west sends the flames across the fire line and heads them into the pasture.

They’re spreading like – well – like wild fire.

All four guys rush to get it stopped.  Frantically beating out sparks. Just when they start wondering if they should call in the fire department – the wind changes, blowing the flames back on themselves.

Whew! Disaster averted.

The only damage done was to their pride.

And the pasture.

Oh – and Jan’s hair.

Did you know that hair melts when it gets really hot?

I spent some time on Saturday night cutting out the melted parts – or trying to – before church on Sunday morning.

I’m no barber. I’m afraid it looked a little like a “my wife cut my hair in the shadowy basement wearing bifocals when she was way too tired to hold scissors in her hand” kind of haircut.

I’m thankful he’s blond – it doesn’t show as much.

And that it’s only a bad hair cut – not first degree burns – or worse.

And that we didn’t need to call the fire department – I’m not sure Dagmar would have lived that one down!

Are We Red Necks Yet?

It wasn’t so long ago that my youngest sister and her family moved from the suburbs to their dream home in the country. Both my sister and her husband have country roots so it was a pretty easy transition for them – but there are always some adjustments to be be made...
Deer head
I think it all started with the deer head.

We were at my youngest sister’s during New Year’s weekend when the cousins decided to drag a deer head from the ditch to save the antlers.

Then they spent the good part of an hour trying to figure out how to hang it in a tree to keep it from the dog.

Every day my sister’s husband saw that deer head with empty eye sockets hanging in the back yard and thought – deer carcass. Deer carcasses have meat and bones. Dog’s like meat and bones. It’s hunting season – I bet I could get some free meat and bones for the dog to chew.

Brilliant idea!

He talked to a buddy at work who had the right connections to hunters and arranged for him to come over for supper on Saturday night with a free deer carcass for the dog.

It was dark when his buddy arrived, so the men just dropped the carcass in front of the attached garage and went inside.

Of course the dog immediately found the bones and wasted no time in digging in.

Meanwhile the family enjoyed a great night of fellowship and – when their guests left – they went to bed, never once thinking about the dog and those bones.

Now those of you with dogs already know exactly what happened! While the family slept peacefully in their beds – that dog had a party.

My brother-in-law woke up very early on Sunday morning and left on a business trip before dawn.

It wasn’t until much later that my sister woke up to discover that the dog had drug that carcass all over the front yard.

There were bloody bones everywhere.

It looked like a war zone.

And she had to rush out the door with the kids to make it to church.

And after church they were hosting their small group Bible study for lunch.

And her husband was in an airplane thousands of miles away.

Oh my. She had a bone to pick with that man!

Later that day every one of their city friends got to walk through the bones along the bloody path to the front door to get in the house.

My brother-in-law was in the doghouse.

My sister looked at the carnage and asked, “So are we red necks yet?”

You’re on your way honey.

Welcome home!

Warm Coat, Light Coat, Rain Coat, Yikes!

coatsA friend wrote on Facebook recently that she was busy sorting coats for her large family –

“I felt a bit overwhelmed today. Today was “coat sorting day”. A warm coat for church, a warm coat for farm chores, a warm coat for town, don’t forget a lightweight coat for the days that it goes back up to 60…”

I can totally relate.

This is one of those rural realities that you just have to live with.

Everybody needs a warm coat to wear around the farm – one that they can do chores in, go sledding in and get muddy on four-wheeler rides.

But they also need a warm coat that stays nice to wear to church and to town.

Ditto for lighter weight coats for spring and fall and rain gear and sweatshirts and fleeces.

You start multiplying my family members and the number of coats per person and you soon see how overwhelming it can be.

And don’t forget the hats, mittens, overalls, boots and shoes – all in multiples.

It’s not just the outer wear! We almost need 2 separate wardrobes – one for going away and one for staying at home.

It is a known fact that whatever clothes are worn outside to do chores will get dirty, stained, ripped and otherwise made unfit for public wear. That’s why we set aside some clothes just for that purpose.

Trust me, the chickens and cows don’t care.

But we have other clothes that are saved just for going away where people will actually see us.

Although it never fails that the one day you don’t wash your hair, have on your worst looking jeans and the t-shirt with stains – will be the one day that you need to run to town to buy a bolt and pick up baler wire.

Never fails.

I get a chuckle every time I see a magazine article describing how to simply your wardrobe. Ha! What I need is some hints on how to practically store the gazillion coats, hats, mittens, boots, and shoes that are piled in my mud room.

But then – as my friend said –

“..multiply that times 12 and you get 48 coats in our closet. That is nuts- but thank you Lord for all 48 coats.”

So true! Thank you for Lord for each and every coat – and the healthy bodies to wear them!

A Country – Style Workout

fence I knew I was in for an interesting afternoon when my husband asked me if I could help him outside.

Oh yeah – some of you know exactly what that means!

It means that all the projects I had started or planned for the afternoon were now on hold and I would be getting dirty, tired, and most likely sore.

Yep. It was time for a country- style workout.

Our calf – who has now officially been named Shakespeare – needed a bigger pen. Which meant that Jan needed all hands on deck to cut up fallen branches, pull out the old fence line and put up a new one.

Even as I pulled on my coveralls I knew that there was no chance that I would get to run the chain saw- my husband learned very early in our marriage to keep me away from all power tools.

Nor would I get to drive the 4-wheeler – my sons shuddered at the very thought.

No – I would get to do the more manual labor – the grunt jobs.

So while Jan cut the trees and Pedro drove loads of brush off – the other kids and I hauled branches and raked up behind them.

This proved to be just the warm -up.

When the fence line was finally cleared it was time for fence posts – about 60 in all. Guess who got to help load them? Moi.

Pedro would grab them from the pile and hand them to me to throw in trailer. He started out giving me one or two at a time – but the next thing I knew I was tossing 3 or 4 at a time.

At one point I saw that Jan was watching – so I had Pedro give me five at a time – just to impress him.  😉

We’ll call that weight-lifting.

Then it was time to move the cattle panels across the farmyard to the new pen. So while Pedro and Jan pounded fence posts, Matt and I started digging them out of the weeds.

Now for those of you unfamiliar with cattle panels let me clue you in – they are big, and awkward and heavy. And they have a tendency to get bent – and get stuck on things – like each other and rocks and sticks on the ground.

But that didn’t stop me. I dragged 16 of those bad boys across the farm yard, around the garden, and out into the pasture – by myself.

I’ll think I’ll call that the cardio part of my workout – or maybe resistance training?  I wonder just how many calories I burned?

But don’t worry – I quickly replaced them with the handfuls of chocolate peanut butter cookies I ate during break time. 🙂

The rest of the job went quickly – haul the cattle panels into position and hold them in place while Jan secured them.

Then all we needed to do was move Shakespeare to his new home.

He was a happy cow.

And I was a dirty, tired, and sore country gal.

It was time for a hot bath and another cookie – these country style workouts are tough!