Showing posts with label Farms and Ranches. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Farms and Ranches. Show all posts

Friday, October 21, 2016


How many photos can one take of the sunrise?  Does it ever get old?  So
It doesn't matter that my files are already filled with the sunrises and sunsets of my Montana life. 

Every time the sunrise shows her colors, I'm drawn to run outside with my camera and capture it.

Of course the backdrop of this old homestead makes for an idyllic setting.

Can't you just hear the rooster crowing?  Trust me he is....

and the old stud horse wants his grain, so I better get to it.

Enjoy your day out there, wherever you are.

Now go make something beautiful,

Sunday, October 2, 2016

October Homestead

 It's definitely autumn around here.  The mares and colts are enjoying the last bits of green(ish) grass before the snow flies.  Soon it will be weaning time for the two little fillies.  So we spent some time with them yesterday afternoon and introduced them to halters and brushes.

Little Eileen has grown into quite the young lady. She is pretty willing to go with the program, whatever we ask her to do.  That's the way we like our colts to be.

You can tell by looking at Reba that she is bred to run.  We call her the "little red rocket".

We also happen to have a litter of livestock guardian puppies that are busy growing like weeds so they can soon head out onto farms and ranches and guard them from predators. We are so fortunate to have a pair of "LGD's"  to keep the grizzlies and other predators from strolling onto our place. In this area we are all having to learn to live "with" the bears a lot more than a few years ago.  The dogs are part of what makes our lifestyle possible in such a high predator area.  But for now, they sure are cute!!

The baby chicks we brought home last spring are grown now and have started laying an abundance of eggs. I had to snap a picture of Zorro yesterday, as he strutted around to show everyone  that he's the boss.

 The last of the garden will be harvested today and the soil will be turned over to rest.  Does it feel like Autumn where you are? I really hope it does! This is one of the best times of the year....

Now go make something beautiful,

Friday, April 25, 2014

Blooming Tulip

I didn't think this story would get written. I don't like to write sad stories and I didn't think this was gonna end well....
Ten days ago Miss Ivy had her babies.  Twin girls that came just a bit earlier than expected.  Sadly, one baby did not make it.  I don't think she even took a breath.  But one tiny, precious thing was alive.  She was the oddest color for a goat.  In the sunshine she almost looked pink with a black stripe down her back.  Immediately I knew her name was "Tulip".
Tulip's first hour of life.
 I quickly noticed that Tulip wasn't in perfect health.  She had a very large, abnormal swelling in her throat. She was weak, cold and had no interest in momma's milk.  Not a good sign for a baby goat.  If they don't get momma's colostrum milk within the first few hours of life they usually die.  Colostrum is how most baby critters get their immunities. And she wouldn't eat....

I reached out to a network of Farmgirls for advice and information.  I also read on the internet about "goiters" in goats and how they are caused by the mom not getting enough iodine. It said the Boer breed is particularly susceptible to being iodine deficient and Tulip's daddy is a Boer goat.  The prognosis was not good.  But I am a "never say die" kinda girl.  While I know that losing animals is a part of ranching, I refuse to just accept that.  I'm stubborn and I hate it when any kind of critter in my care dies.

So I tucked tiny Tulip into my lap on my 4-wheeler and led her momma across the farm to a warmer place in my main barn.  Then I fashioned a make-do goat pen inside the feed room, moved the feed to a safe spot, bedded it deep with straw and hung a heat lamp from the rafters. I used two different ropes to secure the heat lamp because hate those things and the risk of fire associated with them.  But they are a necessary evil.  After getting the heat lamp to just the right height, I grabbed a 5 gallon bucket for a chair and sat with tiny Tulip on my lap, soaking up the heat.  After an hour or two, I milked some colostrum from Ivy and fed Tulip, one drop at a time from a syringe.  She still had no desire to suck and would not even try a bottle. The swollen thyroid gland made it difficult for her to swallow.  I wanted to cry....

Finally, late that night she had an almost normal body temperature so I tucked her into the straw, said a silent prayer and left her and Ivy to themselves.  I really didn't think she'd last the night, but to my surprise she was still hanging in there in the morning.  She ate a bit more from the syringe, protested the iodized salt I mixed into the colostrum, forgave me when I rubbed molasses on her gums.... the day went by and she was still here.

On day three she started to come to life!  She even gave a few half hearted sucks on a bottle!  More syringe feeding, lots of time under the heat lamp but she was ok.

Day four she finally nursed on her own!! Just a little bit, but she did it.  She started with just tiny sips and still needed the syringe but she was getting stronger and her swollen thyroid was shrinking!  I started to allow myself to have hope that she'd live.  I finally allowed my little boys to see her and pet her.  Up to that point I hadn't because I didn't want their hearts to break when she died.  She did start to develop a slight fever and raspy breath sounds so I began an antibiotic treatment right away.

Today, I am pleased to tell you that after 4 days of doubt, 5 days of antibiotics and Prairie Granny and I watching her like a hawk, Tulip is thriving!

Her swollen thyroid continues to shrink.  The pneumonia symptoms are completely gone and she is a happy little goat!

There is nothing cuter than a happy, baby goat!  I think they are even cuter than puppies!

I'm kinda glad I'm stubborn.... and I'm really glad Tulip is too. Stubborn enough to live against the odds. 

Bye for now,

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Knitting Group

Yesterday I got a wild hair.  I decided to grab my knitting projects and head down to the senior citizens center and join in on the knitting group that meets every Tuesday.  I had some new yarns I was pretty excited about and looked forward to being able to knit and talk to some grown-ups for a couple of hours.
This is the scarf I finished at the knitting group.

I did happen to be the youngest woman in the room by and average of maybe forty years.  I think the ladies were a little surprised to see me plop down in a recliner to join their group.  A couple of the ladies knew who I was but the others I had never met before.  So I gave a short run down of who's place I had bought and that my knitting was strictly out of fleece from my own little fuzzy critters.  Then I just listened mostly....

One lady in particular had me fascinated.  Her name is Katie and she has lived all of her life right here in Chouteau County.  I believe she said she was 83 years young.  She grew up on a homestead up in the Highwood Mountains, on Shonkin Creek. 

Her dad was an immigrant from England and her mom had immigrated from Scotland.  She told me how her dad came here, homesteaded the place and was raising sheep up on the Shonkin.  Until the wolves, (yes wolves!) the coyotes and the harsh winters decimated the sheep.  Then he became a sheep shearer and would travel around each spring, shearing hundreds of sheep by hand, in a time before electric clippers. Anything to help make ends meet.

Geraldine in it's early years.

Katie's mother was one of 10 children back in Scotland.  When one of her siblings came here to Geraldine, she ended up following.  Her sister's children had both died within three days of each other, during the scarlet fever epidemic.  The sister was just six weeks from delivering a new baby when she lost her children and sent for Katie's mother to come help with the baby and also work in the general store they ran here in Geraldine.  She was here for a couple of years before Katie's dad came into the store one day.

A friend had told him, "There's a young lass down at the store you outta meet."  So he made the trip to town with the excuse if needing to buy a bar of soap, just so he could meet the "lass".  They met and then courted for about a year before getting married.  He was 47 and she was 28 when they married.  He moved her to the homestead where sometimes it was six months before she even saw another woman.  But Katie says they loved each other and were the happiest couple on Shonkin Creek for all of their marriage.

 I don't know about you, but their story just tugs at my heart.  What a legacy of love to have!  Now Katie's son runs his cows on the homestead place.  They are one of the families that have been here in Geraldine since the very beginning of this place. All because two people fell in love....

I warned the ladies at the knitting group that they might end up on my blog.  I have their blessing and it is my hope I retold Katie's story without errors.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Mr. Goat's Horrible Not Very Nice Day

We have had a "guest goat" for a few months now.  He is hanging out at our farm until Miss Ivy has her babies.  Or maybe just "baby".  We're not sure.... Anyhow, Mr. Goat is here to keep her company because goats really much prefer to be in the company of another goat.  I didn't want Miss Ivy to be lonely!  I'm not exactly sure of Mr. Goats real name, I think it might be Butternut....or Buttercup...or something like that.  But I just call him Mr. Goat.
Today, Mr. Goat had one heckuva bad day.  I don't know why.... and I don't know how.  But Mr. Goat managed to get himself into this little pickle....
As my big boy and I were walking around the farm doing the chores this afternoon, we found him in his pickle.  I usually don't do the chores until my son gets home from school.  He's my official gate opener and I need his help.  So Mr. Goat looked to have had himself stuck like that for quite a while.  A few hours at least, maybe longer.
The obvious thing we needed to do was remove the panel from the fence and give his poor little kisser some breathing room.  But of course we had walked down to do the chores and my hammer was all the way  up at the house.  (Note to self: Put hammer in big barn, near goat pen.)  So this cowgirl had to hoof it up to the house as quickly as possible.  I tell you what, I am not in shape for a quarter-mile run, uphill, in muck boots.  But I made it without passing out, grabbed a hammer and drove the pickup back down to the goat pen.
I yanked the fence staples out and freed the panel.  Then my big boy pushed his behind forward while I did a twist and yank procedure on his head to fit his horns back through the fence squares.  His little head is gonna be sore for a day or two!  And his lips were chaffed and swollen too....

But a minute or so after being released from the goat trap, he was happily in the feeder, chowing down.... that's always a good sign. 

I think I'll call Mr. Goats owners and let him know he would like to come home soon.... he doesn't like my fences.

Bye for now,

Friday, February 28, 2014

While The Sun Shines

I think we have all heard the expression, "make hay while the sun shines."  Well, I'm gonna add to that.  Haul hay while the sun shines!  Yesterday was a gorgeous day for February in Montana.  Somewhere around 30 degrees and not a breath of wind.  But that has changed.  It's 3 degrees now and snowing.  There's a storm heading our way that is supposed to bring more snow, high winds and temperatures back down to -20 or so.  The wind chills will even be worse than that!

I never used to pay any attention to the weather.  Not much any way.  Boy, has that changed!  Now I have learned that watching the weather reports can mean being prepared for nasty storms or being caught out in a blizzard.  Kind of a big deal out here on the prairie.

So in preparation for this storm, I decided to haul hay all around to the different parts of the farm where I feed each bunch of critters.  I normally load a few bales each day, off of the stack and deliver them around the farm.  Now I have bales stacked up near each bunch of critters.  Some near the goat/lamb pen, some near the horses and calves pasture gate and some up in the alpaca barn. Now I won't be hauling hay when it's -20 below and the wind is trying to blow me off of the haystack!  Instead I was hauling hay in the sunshine, in shirtsleeves no less! 

Shirt sleeves and overalls. In February!

The alpacas were out frolicking and hoping all that hay was for them!  They love their groceries!!

"No really, you can just leave all that here." ~ Cricket

I also got some things cleaned up around the farm, fueled up the tractor and trimmed the pony's hooves.  The snow kept balling up under his feet, making it very hard for him to walk.  I'm hoping a hoof trim helps a bit.  A good brushing made him a happy boy too.

All of us seemed to be soaking up the sunshine while we could.... I'll let you know what tomorrow brings.

 "Paris" the barn cat.

Bye for now,

Monday, February 24, 2014

Being Followed

This is the start of a new week, thank goodness!!  Last week was a tough one.  There are times when we all have more on our plates than we think we can handle.  Days that almost shatter us.  I'm sure that all of you have had times like that too.
But now I'm just feeling grateful.  Saturday the weather was still quite chilly, but nice enough for my big boy and I to actually talk a stroll around the farm while doing chores.  Most of these winter days we have had to take a pickup, for heat and also to haul hay.  That little walk with my kid and my critters was just what I needed. 

As we stepped out the front door, the calves perked up, bawled at us and began to follow us along the fence. 

The little black mare took a break from grazing and came over to the road to say hello and joined the parade along the road towards the barn.  She thought I should definitely show off how hard she works to get good and dirty!

The alpacas met us at the gate and made a little marching formation, following behind us as we made our way up to their little barn and the feed room. This is Genesis making her, "feed me now!" face.

The chickens all swarmed around me, clucking contentedly and following behind as I went around straightening up their pen.  Even though they had a fresh meal in their house!  Happy little hens just hanging out to see what I was up to....

That was the moment.  The moment I looked up and took my first deep breath in a week.  The moment I realized everything really is going to be okay.  Even on my weakest days I have these happy little children and happy little critters to help me "pull focus" and remind me what's important. I felt like all of them had been following me around the farm, just to say "Hey! Don't forget! Life is good!"  Sometimes being followed is a good thing....

Bye for now,

Friday, February 7, 2014

So You Wanna Be A Farmer?

Lately there is quite a movement happening.  At least it looks that way to me.  There are more and more people, men and women alike, that are craving a more organic, agricultural lifestyle.  To put it simply, they want to be farmers. On websites like Pinterest there are oodles of boards named, "My Dream Farm" or something similar.  All of this is such a great thing!  The world needs a lot more people devoted to farming and feeding the world!

The images we see of small farms and homesteads are all pretty idyllic.  Happy little chickens, adorable baby goats, perfect cottage gardens with flowers every where.   A lot of that is truth!  The baby critters we have in the spring are precious!  The chickens are truly a joy to watch scratching in the dirt.  Sometimes there is time to tend a flower bed or two....
It can seem like a perfect life....
All the sunshine and fresh air a person could need for a happy soul.  The rewards of growing the food your family consumes....

But today, on yet another sub-zero day in north central Montana, I have to ask the people with the dream of farming dancing in their heads; "Are you sure you wanna be a farmer?"  I have a little list of things for you to consider before you jump into an agricultural life with both feet.
The day when the automatic waterer, frost free water spigots and hoses are all frozen.  Water gets hauled by hand, in 5 gallon buckets for whatever distance it take to keep the critters alive.  Of course it's usually -30 below when we're out hauling water. 
The day when the wind blows so hard it literally blows the doors off the barn and your sheep scatter into the wind on a grand adventure.  So then they have to be rounded up in the 100 mile an hour wind.  By a person, aka. you.
The day the both of your livestock guardian dogs do a great job of defending your farm from a porcupine and end up with faces full of quills.  Off the vet for enough drugs to keep them from biting your hand off when you yank the quills out one by one.
The day when you find yourself giving an alpaca an enema and helping him extract the blockage that is giving him colic and threatening his life.
The day when a hail storm comes and completely wipes out your entire garden just as it's starting to look so promising.
The day that your out riding your horse for some actual fun and relaxation and it's interrupted by a not-so-lovely rattlesnake that crosses your path and spooks your horse. You instantly envision getting bucked off right there on top of that rattler!
The day a coyote gets a hold of one or more of your chickens.  The ones you nursed along for two months in your garage to keep them safe.... I could go on.
I have had each and every one of those days sometime during the year.  I am not sharing this to discourage anyone from chasing their farming dreams!  But yesterday, as I hauled that water 300 yards, through 18 inches of snow, in -20 below temperatures, I was questioning my sanity just a little bit!  Then I thought of others with this dream and had to ask, "So you think you wanna be a farmer?"  I hope you do!  But be careful what you wish for because it just might come true!
Bye for now,


Friday, January 24, 2014

Is There Anything Better?

Yesterday I fired up the old John Deere and went to spread some new straw out in the barn.  But the weather was so completely lovely and perfect I decided I could take the time to clean out the barn too!  Usually that's a job we don't get to do until spring.  But I couldn't help myself....

The calvies had to follow me up to the barn and see what trouble they could get into.
Is there anything that feels better than a clean barn, bedded with fresh, fluffy straw?  Let's see.... maybe looking into your newborn baby's eyes for the first time.  Or the moment you realize the object of your affection loves you too.  Or maybe getting on the scale and seeing that you've lost ten pounds. Those all feel pretty good too.  But ahhhh.... a clean barn.  It's even more divine to me than a clean house!

Barn, sweet barn....

"Zorro" and his hens also got nice fresh straw in their winter house.

The calves were so happy I gave them a nice, clean bed!  They couldn't wait to get in to start messing it up, right away!!  It's a bit like cleaning house with my twin toddlers running around behind me, making more chaos.... Lord willing, I'll get to do it all again soon.

Bye for now,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Just Wanted To Say "Hay"

Hay there!  I brought along my camera while my big boy and I did chores this afternoon.  There wasn't anything "special" going on.  Just another absolutely perfect, mid-January day in Montana.  But I though you might like to come along with me and enjoy the farm for a minute....

Skeeter wanted to be sure you had a good chuckle today....

Miss Ivy says hello.... Doesn't she have the most beautiful gold eyes?

Good ol' Rhett was thankful it was his day off....

The not-so-innocent, but innocent looking lambs were posing nicely for me today....

The big boy got to play mountain goat on the stop of the hay stack....

There isn't a day that goes by that I'm not aware how blessed we are to live this life.  Simple pleasures and beautiful things everywhere we look, no matter what we're doing.  Take a look around you right now.  I'll bet there's blessings everywhere....

Bye for now,