Friday, December 20, 2013

The Birthday Goat

There is a funny quote going around Pinterest from Duck Dynasty....

So today I made sure Prairie Granny and I became "proper women". Today is Prairie Granny's birthday!  So what do you get a woman who has very few "wants".  You get her a goat!  Well, we're going to share the goat.  I get to do the lion's share of the care and milking and Granny get's to enjoy her. 
So world, meet "Ivy"!
She is a three year old, Toggenburg dairy goat. Togg's are mine and Granny's favorite breed.  She is friendly and sweet and great about riding in the back of my car!  She's expecting babies in the spring.  I can't wait for them and the fresh milk too!

A friend of Ivy's came along to keep her company.  Goats get very lonely without another goat buddy to talk to. The lambs are not sure what to think of their new paddock mates!  But my big boy is very excited that we have a goat again and I'm pretty sure this was a perfect birthday surprise for Granny.
We're off to birthday dinner!
Bye for now,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

How To Meet the Neighbors

My big dogs were naughty.  Very naughty.  They took off early yesterday morning and I couldn't find them anywhere.  Something had been really getting them riled up at about 2:30 a.m.  When I got up, they were gone.  I decided if they weren't back by the time we got home from taking one of the rugrats to a doctor's appointment, I would call the sheriff's department and ask if they had been reported anywhere.

Just as I was pulling out of my driveway, and older, blue, Ford ranch truck pulled up and Chuck rolled down the window.  "Do you have a huge white dog and another dog?"  I confirmed I did.  "Well, they're at my house in the barn.  And they tangled with a porcupine."  I apologized profusely and told him I'd be over to get them as soon as I could.

Chuck and Karen live two and a half miles to the west on the cutest farmstead you've ever seen.  I've always liked their place but had never formally met them or been out there.  I wish I had better reason to go meet my neighbors than to retrieve my rotten dogs.  But they we're so kind and gracious about it and I'm actually kinda glad it happened.  It's always great to get better acquainted with nice folks, however it comes about. 

The dogs sure enough had tangled with that porcupine.  Each dog had a nose full of quills.  I am thankful it wasn't worse than that.  Some dogs try to eat the porcupine and end up having major surgery to remove them from their throat. 

First thing this morning I loaded up 200 pounds of dog and went to the vet.  I wasn't able to convince the big babies to hold still and let me rip quills out of their nose.  Imagine that!  We needed drugs....

But with the help of Dr. Evans and technician Nikki, we got them quill free and they are now sleeping off a good trip in my basement....  Now I'm off to bake my neighbors some, "thanks-for-not shooting-my-dogs cookies".
Bye for now,

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Just The Way It Is

There's a full moon over Tulsa.... no wait.... that was another time and another place.  But "There's a full moon over Geraldine"  just doesn't have the same ring to it.  And it never was a country song....

But there sure is a nice moon over the prairie tonight.

Moon rise to the East.

It looks like it might be a smidge under full.... but who cares?  It was still awesome to see it rise up out of the horizon.

Today has been warm, thank the Lord.  The snow is melting, my world is a soggy, muddy, mess.  The wind has also been blowing enthusiastically for two straight days.  It's the kind of day that has the hay blowing up my nose and down my shirt when I'm out feeding the critters. It just could not be avoided no matter how I tried to get upwind.  But I'm not complaining!  I'll take the wind, slush, ice, mud or whatever.  That's just the way it is.  I get to live here and do what I love to do every single day.  No life is perfect but we all have so much we can be grateful for if we just look close enough....

Bye for now,

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Grumpy One

Hello all,

It sure has been a nice day here in North Central Montana.  The daily temperatures are finally well above zero again after some of the coldest weather we've seen in over 15 years.  The sun is shining and my critters actually seem happy again....

Except one.  I have decided that our farm has our own version of "Grumpy Cat".  But instead, he's "Grumpy Alpaca".  His name is Mudflap.  Maybe he's grumpy because someone gave him that ridiculous name.  I have no idea.  But no matter what, he's a grump.  You can feed him, sweet talk him, pet him, or leave the grouch completely alone and he is still grumpy....

See what I mean?  He reminds me of some people I know! 

It's ok Mudflap.... I still love you! 

Bye for now,

Sunday, December 8, 2013

That One "Special" Calf

I'd like you to meet "Superman".  He is a very distinctly marked calf, with most of his body being white.  So it's very easy to pick him out of a crowd....

I'm not all sure why this happens....  But it seems that without fail, in every herd of cattle, there is one special calf.  It doesn't matter if your herd has one hundred calves or ten, like mine.  There is one calf that stands out right away.  He's the one who will push through the feed room door and just about knock you over, just to see what's in there.  The one who tells his buddies to squeeze through that hole in the fence to check out "greener pastures."  He doesn't care if he's been munching all morning, he'll stand there and bawl real loud, just to see if you'll dish out more groceries.  Or maybe he'll just absolutely refuse to move to the next pasture.... even when the water is frozen solid, there's a blizzard going on, it's -20 degrees below zero and his life literally depends on moving through that gate.  Nope.... forget it.... ain't gonna happen.

That's what Superman was up to on Friday.  I had to move the calves to another pasture due to their automatic waterer refusing to operate properly at -25 below.  The wind was blowing pretty good, so it was kicking up a little ground blizzard.  I was dressed in my super duper winter gear and was still getting chilled to the bone.  The exposed skin around my eyes was burning and I knew I was at risk of frostbite.

I called to my "babies" and they followed me and the bucket of feed I was shaking, right across the road and through the gate.  All but two anyway.... One of them was "Peter".  He's always been a slowpoke at most things. But eventually, he did decided to amble over and through the gate.  Superman was bringing up the rear.  It looked as though we was going to cooperate for once.  He followed Peter through the gate.... But as soon as he got past the gate post, he screeched to a halt and took off the other direction at a run.  He trotted all the way back where he came from.  So I trudged through the snow drifts and fought the bitter wind again.  Got some more feed in my bucket and called, begged and pleaded for him to follow me.  He just stood there.... I tried chasing him.  But with my bum leg from a badly pulled muscle and the snowdrifts, I wasn't making a very good "cow horse".  So I gave up.  I threw a bale of hay over the fence and slammed that gate shut.  Then I had to rig some water up for him for the night.  By the time I got back inside I thought I'd never thaw out!

The next morning, my "special" calf was at the gate, bawling to please go over across the road with his buddies!  I happily opened the gate....

He quickly found his friends up in the corral with the horses and alpacas all sharing a hearty breakfast.  Then he had the nerve to not even say thank-you!

So I leave you with a moo....

Bye for now,

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Chilly Christmas Cheer

Let me tell you, we are some tough folks here in Geraldine, Montana!  It hovered between 15-20 degrees below zero all day yesterday.  But last night was the annual Christmas Stroll bazaar!  It's a fun event where local folks set up a booth and sell things they have made themselves or are representatives for, such as Mary Kay and Pampered Chef.  A high percentage of the booths are yummy things to eat!  Jams, breads, pies, chicken and homemade noodles, cookies.... But there are also some very crafty folks selling awesome artisan products. (Myself included of course.)

I was pretty amazed that even at 20 below, the old auditorium filled up.  The high school music department played and sang carols for us.  Santa came and took the hopeful requests from the kiddos.  We all ate lots of goodies and had great visits with our friends.  The kids got to earn money for FFA, 4-H and the like.  The little kids had the chance to run around and giggle with their friends....

"Santa, I'd like a pony please..."

If your town still has a Christmas social of some kind, I recommend you get out to it!  It's a bit of a long lost tradition that we should keep alive in my opinion. I think it beats an evening at the shopping mall....

Bye for now,

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fifteen Below

This will be short and sweet.  One of the things I never get tired of here in Geraldine are the beautiful skies.  Sunrise, sunset, mid-day, whatever. The sky is almost always beautiful.  Even when it's 15 degrees below zero....

I'll have you know that I stepped out onto my back porch in my jammies and pink fuzzy slippers, just to take this photo for you!

And this one....

There are some very cold pheasants on top of my windmill.

Ok, time for more coffee....

Bye for now,

Monday, December 2, 2013

Oh December

December is here.... the proof is in the white stuff that is falling from the sky. I spent the morning chasing, catching and leading my sheep from their summer pen into what used to be the pig pen.  It has a nice shed and power for the water tank de-icer. There's a big storm setting in today and the ungrateful buggers will be much more cozy in their new pen. 

The first five were pretty easy to catch and move.  Some even got to ride with my big boy in the back of my SUV.  The last two were the hold outs.... They refused to go into the catch pen no matter what!  If they did go in, they ran right back out as quickly as possible!  They didn't want any part of a new, cozy shed and ice free water! So Hired Man Jim and I headed out this morning with a plan.  We set up a temporary fence that was in the shape of a funnel that went to the catch pen.  Sort of like they used to build to trap wild horses.  Once that was set up, we were able to run them in there and shut that gate.  Then it was my job to put a rope on them to lead them to their new home across the farm.  I found it was easiest to catch them after they jumped into their water trough in the corner of the pen.  Then I had nice, muddy, soggy, ticked off sheep on a rope.....

I'll bet you all are wondering why I didn't just herd them across the farm to the new pen.... Well let me try to explain.  I have seven lambs left.  They are all young and not very bright.  The minute a person tries to herd them anywhere, they scatter like ping pong balls on a concrete floor.  Like my Grandpa says, "It's like trying to drive a pig on ice."  Ain't gonna happen.  So they either got to ride in the car, or they got a little lesson on how to walk on a leash.  The hand walking was more like a lamb rodeo than a stroll.  Jumping, running, laying down refusing to cooperate really at all.  So we sort of drag them along until we reach our destination.  Quite a work out for us and the sheep!

At least we were successful. The sheep are tucked in nice and cozy.  The alpacas and horses have a nice warm barn and Prairie Granny gave them all hay.  The calves are munching their hay under their lean to.  The chickens have their heat lamps, heated waterers and plenty of layer mash to keep them happy.  We are ready for this first, December storm..... Now it's time to drink my coffee and eat some pumpkin pie.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Are The Champions

You guys all know that I am not a sports writer.  Like at all.... I hardly know anything about any sports that don't involve horses.  But I'm learning.  I've learned that sports are really, really important to the kids in this town and many other little towns like it.....
Saturday was probably this BIGGEST day of the year for our little school in our little town.  Our beloved, six man football team made it to the state championship game.  Our co-op team of Geraldine/Highwood played the co-op team of Stanford/Denton/Geyser.  The other team only lost one game all year.  The game they played against our team.  They were worthy opponents and everyone knew it would be a very good game.  The other team comes from the little towns that are Geraldine's "neighbors".  So it was also a hometown rivalry. 
When I pulled out of Geraldine to head over the mountains to the Highwood field, Geraldine was already a ghost town.  Nobody was here! I am certain Stanford, Denton and Geyser were also ghost towns.  I drove the dirt roads over the mountains to Highwood because it cuts off the miles and it's such a pretty drive.  So many people had done the same thing that there was a hazy cloud of dust all the way through the hills. A dust cloud of hope and anticipation. 
11-Wyatt McKinlay, 22-Dawson Baroh, 34-Jordan Lafontaine, 32-Darren Malek
When Payson and I arrived at the field we found it was standing room only on the side lines of the field.  Well, actually there wasn't even much for standing room on either side of the field. Some folks had even parked one of their vehicles in the "perfect spot" next to the field, days before the game to ensure they'd get a good view.

17- Jeremiah Hinkle, 21- Sean Bronec, 28-Devin Leistiko

Our boys started the game by getting some touchdowns right out of the box.  From then on you could feel the hope in the chilly late fall air....

Coach Tweet with the boys.  55-Ben Rayner, 17-Jeremiah Hinkle, 56-Braden Urion
Mr. Tweet has been the coach at Geraldine for 32 years. His teams have won the State Championship in 1989, 1997, 2001 and 2003. He was inducted into the MCA Coaches Hall of Fame in 2009. Everyone I have spoken to speaks of his fairness and ethics on the field.

The boys maintained the lead for the length of the game. At one point the other team rallied and made us all hold our breath for a bit....

25-Sam Bronec, 32-Darren Malek, 34-Jordan Lafontaine

7- Jake Malek, 25- Sam Bronec, 34- Jordan Lafontaine


Our boys were not about to let the opponents get a lead.  You could feel their determination building.

3-Riley Kurtz gets tackled.

22-Dawson Baroh    He catches it....
and is tackled.

The end of the game arrived to find us with a score of 50-18. The "blue side" of the field erupted with ten years worth of exuberance.

"Good game."

We are the champions again....

Congratulations to our Rivals!  Geraldine and Highwood could not be more proud! 

This post was written with the intent to share these photos with the parents and families of our players.  Please feel free to copy and save any of these photos and use them as you wish.

Bye for now,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Weather Report

One of the things we deal with living in this part of the country is some rapid changes in the weather.  We get sudden storms.  We get "Chinook winds", that are quite a phenomenon. This is the Wikipedia explanation.

 " The reference to a wind or weather system, simply "a Chinook", originally meant a warming wind from the ocean into the interior regions of the Pacific Northwest of the USA. A strong Chinook can make snow one foot deep almost vanish in one day. The snow partly melts and partly evaporates in the dry wind. Chinook winds have been observed to raise winter temperature, often from below -4°F to as high as 50-68°F for a few hours or days, then temperatures plummet to their base levels. The greatest recorded temperature change in 24 hours was caused by Chinook winds on January 15, 1972, in Loma, Montana; the temperature rose from  -54 to 48°F."  

Then there's the cold, fronts that blast us from the North.  Like yesterday.  We the kids and I went out to do chores it was 38 degrees.  But there a thick bank of fog forming to the North and the air was thick with moisture.  A couple of minutes later the wind shifted and came rolling in from the North and it was cold!  We hurried to feed the calves and by the time the hay was in the bunk it was 21 degrees.  We had taken my car down to do chores so the little ones could stay warm.  It also has a very handy temperature gauge.

By the time we got to the barn, about 4 minutes later, it was down to 18 degrees.  A twenty degree drop in less than ten minutes. 

I love how that camo coat is doing it's job in this picture.... Where's my boy?

The fog thickened and the temperature dropped some more.... After supper we were at 11 degrees.  Almost a 30 degree drop in about an hour. 
This morning we have a lovely 8 degrees and snowing steady in the form of teeny, tiny little snowflakes.  The horses were kicking up their heels to stay warm.  Well, Fancy Pants was....

I think I'll be staying inside today....after the chores are done of course.

Bye for now,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Hardest Part of Farming

This is something that is on my heart....

I absolutely love what I do.  I am beyond blessed to be able to live my dream and raise my sons on this little piece of heaven.  Most days are enjoyable to me in almost every way.  Rewarding, challenging, interesting and fun. In the last week there has been a few days that were not fun.  Those are the days we butcher the animals we have produced.  We raise them with a very holy purpose.  To provide my family and others with clean, healthy, ethically and humanely raised meat.  We love our animals and enjoy the process of raising them.  When I say "we" I mean my sons as well as myself.  They are a huge part of this even at such a young age.  They're right there with me every day.  Helping fill water tubs, carrying buckets, gathering the eggs....

The other day I hauled some lambs to town.  That was quite a story, as you all know....(Check it out here if you missed it!)  I didn't have to participate in their processing, but it was very hard to walk away, knowing their fate.

Yesterday we butchered our three hogs.  One for my family, two for other families.  I was an active participant in the processing this time.  Just me and one guy from the butcher shop.  I'm thankful for the respect and kindness Chris showed towards my hogs.  He came to the farm, which greatly lessens the stress for the pigs, since they don't have to be gathered, loaded in a trailer and hauled to town.  We now have an abundance of wonderful, organic pork for our freezers.  But the necessary events to get them into the freezer, are with out a doubt, the hardest part of farming. 

I write this to shed some light I suppose.  Just because you can buy meat in a neat, tidy little package at the store, doesn't mean it was without cost.  Please respect what it takes to put meat on the table and if at all possible, buy meat that was ethically raised.  Get to know your farmer!

Last night we were able to enjoy a meatloaf made from our own grass fed lamb.  It was delicious, lean and healthy.  Absolutely worth the hardest part of farming....


Bye for now,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My How They've Grown!

So, yesterday morning it was 10 degrees when I left the house to haul the replacement lamb to town.  This morning it's 60 degrees!  I am actually writing this post from my sunny back porch! I've got a great cup of coffee and some home made pumpkin bread. The sun actually feels hot on my black, polka dot t-shirt. I also have a 120 pound dog laying on my foot....

Remember these rascals? I wrote about them on "The Judge and Jury" and also here

Well now they're each 120 pounds of fun!  They really are both amazing dogs and I am very, very glad I have them.  The coyote problem here is a major one.  I'm certain that with out the dogs I would have lost more than one lamb to them.  They do an awesome job at holding them off and alerting me so I can jump on my four wheeler and chase them away! I try not to leave them to deal with a pack of coyotes alone.  Prairie Momma Trish lost a dog to coyotes and I'd hate for my pups to get torn up.

They also behave perfectly with humans.  They are leery of strangers and bark to alert me if someone shows up unexpectedly.  However, when I am there with them and tell them someone is "Ok", they completely respect it just chill out.  I have socialized these dog's a LOT more than most people socialize Livestock Guardian Dogs.  I really didn't want them to be human aggressive unless there was an obvious issue.  Judge did hold the city water man in his vehicle once, while I was gone.  But he just sat and stared as long as he didn't try to get out of his car.

 Jury has had some issues. I call her the naughty one.  For a while she was really after my chickens and killed a few.  Just when I thought I had her broke of it, she killed another one two days ago. It makes me so mad! So she's back in boot camp. She also has more of a tenancy to chase things.  I have to watch her with the alpacas and the calves.  She's usually good, but gets to running them once in awhile.  There was also the day she took after the sheep....ugh.    But for the most part I do see improvement in her behavior so I haven't given up on her.  They are just exactly a year old this month, is the puppy phase gonna be over soon?

With my kids these dogs blow my mind.  Especially Judge.  I love that dog so much! He is an absolute gentle giant.  His favorite thing is in the world is to lay down and let the kids snuggle up with him. Jury is not quite as calm with them and really wants to play all the time.  She can be a little too rambunctious but I know she would not every act aggressively towards them what-so-ever. They also adore little Miss Gwynne and even though they could almost swallow her whole, they treat her like she's the queen!

I hope you enjoyed the doggie update!

Bye for now,