Party Animals

Tags

      I’m sure you have all heard the term….”party till the cows come home”. Well, I’m here to tell you that the cows ain’t comin’ home…..they ARE the party animals! Yep, they have parties all the time. Do you really think they’re sleeping at night? I don’t think so. They’re busy planning their next attack on the “milkmaid”. It’s true! Nasty tails….fierce back legs….flying cow poop….stomping on the milkers…….I’ve seen it all.    106.jpg         Take a good look at this calf. What color is this? Where did this “red” come from? Another phrase you’ve all heard…..”the grass is greener on the other side of the fence”.  I’m pretty sure that’s what the neighbor bull was thinking at the time.       113.jpg      So, apparently the cows had a rockin’ party about 9 months ago. I had forgotten all about this incident until we had 2 red calves born in the last few weeks. Ahhhh….yes! I remember now. Cute little stinker!     005.jpg            I’m sure the cows thought they were getting away with all their “hanky panky”. Not this time. A prime example of “Be sure your sin will find you out”. Haha   112.jpg              Cows, bulls, heifers…..not a one has any respect for barbed wire or panel fencing when there’s a party to go to. They’ll flatten anything. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes. I wonder though……how many more “red” calves are we going to have before this whole thing blows over?…………………..Carol

 

My Blessed Friday

Tags

      I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for several reasons. First…I don’t want to be a “whiner butt”. Second…I’m not asking for any sympathy. Third…everyone else has a “thorn in the flesh” too. But I have to do it and get it over with. So, here goes nuthin’……….      052.jpg     Well, for starters the dairy industry for farmers in the U.S.A. is painting a very bleak picture. Farm magazines are saying…sell out as fast as possible. Milk prices are plummeting low and deep. Co-ops are under-cutting each other. The pricing system is outdated. Milk companies have the right to “leave us high and dry” with no place to market our milk. All this and more was working on my brain as I headed out to run errands. Needless to say….I was feeling the anguish deep down in my soul. Maybe it was divine….but I felt the need to stop by my favorite antique store and see if I could cheer myself up.     039.jpg            Wow! Look what I found! So many treasures and they were having summer sales. Dirt cheap! I couldn’t believe it. Should I laugh or cry?! I felt the dark cloud lifting and just a small ray of sunshine “peeking” through.       040.jpg        By the time I got home I was feeling pretty special. Special….because the Lord saw my “silent tears” which I wouldn’t allow to run down my face. Special….because I was reassured that I wasn’t forgotten after all. Special….because I now had enough energy again to keep forging ahead and hang on amid all the chaos and uncertainty.      051.jpg      As soon as I got home I raced into the house and hollered for everyone to come look at the treasures I had found. Of course, I immediately started placing everything here and there and everywhere. What fun!     064.jpg            So now that I exposed myself and our bleak future in the dairy industry I’m going to go drink an iced coffee and do a little gardening. Chore time is right around the corner. The moral of the story is this…..I felt like my prayers were bouncing off the walls and hitting me in the face. Nothing is fair…but I’m not allowed to give up. (even though I feel like it) I was encouraged with just a few simple “junk finds”. Thank you Jesus………………..Carol

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Tags

      I haven’t talked food in awhile. It’s zucchini time. Fresh from the garden. Did you know that zucchini is delicious in cake form? Chocolate cake at that. I make this cake every summer. I finally let the “cat out of the bag” and told the boys what the secret ingredient was………zucchini. They took it quite well. Surprise! Surprise! They don’t normally eat “green” food. They’re still very much carnivores.      058.jpg       This is the finished product. It is delicious! It’s actually better the next day……gives it time for the moisture to soak in.      052.jpg       Here’s the shredded zucchini. I always peel mine first. Simply because the less green the boys see the better.      053.jpg      Ready for the oven. I never measure the chocolate chips. I sprinkle according to how my day has been going.        054.jpg      Hot out of the oven. It’s difficult to allow for cooling time. I want to dive right in. And by the way……we put a fork in the pan and everyone stops and takes a bite as they walk by. Does anyone else do that? 058          Now back to the finished product. Give it time to cool and then sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Fit for a king or queen or a milkmaid! Here’s the recipe……

1/2 cup butter, softened (real not fake)

1/2 cup oil

1 3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 cup buttermilk

2 1/2 cup flour

4 tablespoon cocoa (a little rounded won’t hurt)

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves (weird but important)

2 cup zucchini, shredded finely

1/2 cup chocolate chips (I sprinkle a least a cup)

      Cream butter, oil, and sugar. Add eggs, vanilla, and buttermilk. Beat well. Stir together dry ingredients and add to first mixture. Stir zucchini in by hand. Pour into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top. Bake at 325 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Allow to cool and then sprinkle with powdered sugar.

     There’s more than one way to eat your veggies……………………Carol

A Clean Sweep

Tags

      For the first line of business……my parents visited last week. Therefore, I took a few days off. Well, not totally off. The cows still needed to be milked and calves fed, but other than that I didn’t do much. When company comes I get to head to town and get off the farm and do fun stuff. You know……more than just gas and groceries.       027.jpg       When the “milkmaid” gets company…..this is where I like to take them. The PW Mercantile. It’s a fun little road trip. Then we always have to hurry home to those bossy bovines. I decided that next time I’m leaving the farm dudes at home. They’ve seen it once now…no need for them to see it again. That way I won’t have to rush home. Haha….great plan. Don’t ya think?       002.jpg      As far as the farm work goes….this was a job that we procrastinated on. Cleaning and stacking all those calf hutches. So finally one day the “farmers” decided to get the job done. See that pink broom? That would be my kitchen broom. Why is it that they always take Mom’s good “tools” for their dirty farm work?! I kissed that broom good-bye. I don’t want it back! Think calf poop, cobwebs, big nasty spiders, and more dirt than you can shake a fist at.     004.jpg         Marshall needed a broom too. So, I improvised. An old rag and duct tape…..ta da…..good as new! They swept each hutch clean. Inside and out. What a dirty mess. Lots of creepy, crawly spiders. Yuk!       003.jpg      So, while the boys did the “clean sweep”, the main man came along and picked them up with the tractor. Before we know it, it’ll be time to get them all lined up again. Ahhh….I’m not ready for that just yet. That means cold weather. Yuk!       009.jpg      Earl stacks them onto the flat bed trailer and hauls them off to the “dump site”. That looks so nice to have all that mess cleaned up and put away. I ride this area every day and all those memories “flood my soul”. Hungry calves screaming my name, freezing cold temperatures, fingers so cold I had to dip them into the warm milk to keep from crying. And then trying not to cry when I get to the barn and the “thaw” begins. Yes, I’m enjoying the summer heat. I’ll take it any day.      008.jpg       The work here is almost done. Just scraping away all the bedding. And more bedding. As I ride along here I always remind the boys how this whole tree line was lined with calves. We just shake our heads in unbelief…..wondering how we did it. In all that wicked, cold weather? Those are the days when we slip into “survival mode” and don’t come up for air until spring time.          043.jpg             Here you go….the final resting place. We have learned not to stack them more than 4 or 5 high because it’s a total nightmare to get them apart. So, this fall when the weather turns cool and all the little “jerks” are popping out everywhere, we’ll come back to these. And start the loooong line up again. Until then…..I’m enjoying having just a handful of calves to feed……………………..Carol

My Happy Place

Tags

     These days I keep hearing people talk about their “happy place”…..what?! It’s the popular thing to say….right?! Usually by the time I figure things out, they aren’t popular anymore. So, I may be out of style or totally behind the times. Either way, I’m taking you to my “happy place”.    045.jpg        This is my patio. The place where I go to relax. Where I like to putter around and rearrange. This year I added some water tanks. I like to catch all the rain water and use it to water my plants. Only problem…..it doesn’t rain much in July and August. So I sneak the water hose over when Earl isn’t watching and keep them filled. We have to pay for all of our water, so that’s a sore spot with the farmer.          047.jpg      I crowded as many plants as possible around the tubs. I had to cover up the ugliness somehow. They have been used in the calf pens. Do you know what happens in calf pens? Lots of mud, cow poop, and dirty filth. I tried to clean them, but some of that doesn’t ever come off. I’m happy with them. I think I’ll keep them.        043.jpg        I like to add little knick knacks to my pots. Gives them character. I pick things up at garage sales or antique stores…..a favorite pastime. If only I had more time to pass.    039.jpg      I always, always plant dragon wing begonias in my hanging baskets. They grow so nice and they’re super easy. Basically keep them watered and you’ll be fine. A definite favorite of mine.     050.jpg       I put groupings of chairs here and there. I like to sit at a different spot. Gotta shake things up every now and then. Pretty much the only traveling I get to do……around my patio.    051.jpg       Which setting is my favorite? I can’t decide. That cat though, is always hanging out on the patio. Her name is Minnie. And she’s pregnant. Lord have mercy….all the cats are having babies. I declare….there is no such thing as a sterile barn cat.      019.jpg       This is a new arrangement. I used the ladder to paint with but decided it needs to retire. Holding plants is a much better idea. It was kinda wobbly anyway. I love my orange chair! It’s not super comfy, but it looks cool.     020.jpg        And what is a garden without all the watering cans?! I love collecting the vintage ones. All shapes and sizes. I need more.         053.jpg        My little mini fridge. I keep this thing stocked full of cold drinks. All varieties. Whatever the mood is. You never know what you might need when living on a dairy farm. Things change hourly. Especially when the cows get out and decide to go marching through the sweet corn patch just a few days before it’s ready. (that has happened) That’s the day when you throw your hands up and go straight for that bottle of Jack Daniels. You know….the one you hid in the cupboard high above the refrigerator……behind all your pretty dishes. There’s more than one way to skin a cat!        068.jpg         This may very well be my favorite time of day. I love to turn all my garden lights on and sit and ponder. You know….deep thinking. For example….am I really out of dark chocolate? Am I the only one that knows how to restock the fridge? Do I smell cow poop? Surely not. And where is my housekeeper? My windows are dirty. I better scram………………….Carol

Cool Cows

Tags

      It’s hot! I am not complaining……I’m just stating facts. Last winter is still too fresh in my mind. Now if you would ask a cow what they prefer, they would all “Moo” in unison….cold weather. I’m going to show you how we keep our cows cool in the intense heat……..       042.jpg     This is the “coolest” cow in the herd. Our only Brown Swiss. She’s beautiful and knows it. Oh yeah…cows have attitude. She’s always the first one in line to get milked……she wants to eat. Light colored cows tolerate the heat much better than black cows. Just like humans. The weather man will tell us to wear light colored clothing and stay away from dark. Works the same way with cattle. So, what do we do for all the black and whites?     013.jpg      “Misters” is the name of the game. When the heat really cranks it up……the cows will come up to the barn with their mouths hanging open huffing and puffing. That’s how they sweat. If you look closely, you’ll see a fine mist spraying over them. That’s cold well water. Within 10 minutes of standing underneath this….they start chewing their cud. That means they’re feeling cool and comfortable.     011.jpg      Here we have a photo bomber. She’s trying to tell us that she loves the cold water. She looks mad, but she’s just trying to intimidate you. Haha I can read them like a book.        008.jpg                     It’s difficult to get a good shot of the misters. It often reminds me of a blizzard……looks like sleet blowing in the wintertime. I have “flashbacks” of all that wicked winter weather. Is that a bad sign?! Anyway, I wish we had a “cooling pond” for the cows……basically a swimming pool. There’s pros and cons for those. Mostly pros. We just haven’t funded one yet. So for now, misters are working overtime.      457     Let’s not forget about the dogs. They get hot too. This is Clyde. He loves to swim. I’m thinkin’ I should’ve bought a bigger size. They also jump into the cows’ water tanks. Don’t tell the cows or they’ll have a total meltdown. I don’t need any “herd drama”. Can’t really blame them……I freak out when someone “slurps” on my cool drink………      069.jpg       Yep, this is how I like to stay cool. Sippin’ a cold drink on my patio. More on that later…………….Carol

 

Rest In Peace

Tags

      Dear Shooter…..we miss her so much! She was the best! We lost our favorite cow in November of 2016. On that sad day I told the family that I was building a Memorial garden in memory of Shooter. Well, it’s taken me this long to finally finish my project. So now, I’m not sure who’s resting more peacefully…..me or Shooter?! Let’s take a look at this garden and see what has transpired in the last year and a half………………..        102          I didn’t have it all mapped out, I just kinda created as I went along. This was an empty space and for die-hard gardeners……no empty space is allowed. My parents gave me the wagon as a gift. I was on cloud nine. So, of course I had to incorporate this into my latest project. Shooter would have loved it!    019.jpg     Empty and ugly. I finally got tired of looking at this unfinished project and decided enough is enough. The “boys” were kind of between work projects and so I casually announced one evening that we should “get rid of the gravel pile” tomorrow. Haha    021.jpg      Earl being the handy man with the tractor and loader. I had ordered the gravel and it had been on a pile since last summer. This isn’t easy work….maybe that’s why I was procrastinating.       026.jpg           This is back breaking work……smoothing out the gravel. We persevered and conquered the beast! Needless to say, we were sweating buckets.    081.jpg           I started gathering little things here and there to make the garden cozy and comfy in memory of Shooter. I bought the plants for a “song”. This time of year everything is marked way down.           085             This is the night version of Shooter’s garden. I had all the lights in storage that were leftover from Christmas shopping. So, I dug them out and Ta-Da….I thought it made a spectacular show. Just in time for the 4th of July. Not that we party or anything….but it’s the thought that counts. I love sitting out after dark and turning on all the lights. It’s so peaceful……      Earl Troyer got milk 078     Here we have the “star of the show”….Shooter. I remember the night that she was born….and the night she died. She had a difficult breech birth…..and both she and the calf fluttered to “cow heaven” the same day. (breech is a calf coming out backwards) The Troyer household was very quiet that night. You might say it’s just a cow, but when you raise them from babies on up for years they become a part of the family. Now granted……we have quite a few that I would call very wicked. I am not attached to them. Just like humans….some are kind and lovely and then we have mean and ugly!! We all cried big crocodile tears for our dear Shooter. It’s so nice to finally finish that project. I like it…………………….Carol

 

Down and Dirty

Tags

      Alrighty….today starts a brand new week. Thank goodness! Last week was not for the faint of heart….it was “calf working” week. Now, let me warn you all. This post is not politically correct…nor is it ladylike…maybe even a bit offensive. So, I’m giving you fair warning to skip this story and move on to something beautiful if you can’t take the “heat”. Otherwise….to all you daredevils….come with me and let’s get some dirty work done.      102.jpg      Here’s a group of calves that we worked last year. Don’t they look nice?! No horns….no nuts…although you can’t see that part. That’s what working calves is all about. Vaccinations, taking off the wicked horns, and adjusting that cocky attitude.     083.jpg      First things first. Here we have Earl demonstrating to the boys how to apply vaccine. Every calf needs to be vaccinated at birth and then again before they’re a year old. Sorta like our human babies. Always taking them for vaccinations and boosters…..calves are the same way. These shots had to go in the neck area underneath the skin. It takes lots of practice…..and speed. Calves like to jerk around a lot.    094.jpg       This is Marshall doing a practice round. They need to learn sometime. Besides, they want to do it….to them it’s still exciting and great fun. Me? I’ve been doing this for nearly 25 years and I’m tired…….need I say any more?    093.jpg     This is me. I have now graduated to filling syringes, keeping everyone hydrated and handing them all the necessary tools. I used to do a whole lot more but thank goodness for boys. I get the easy job.    085.jpg     So after they get their shots we have to worm them. Gotta get rid of all those nasty parasites. A person can always tell if a cow is fed well and taken care of just by looking at their hide. If it’s slick and shiny then you know she’s healthy. That’s what wormer helps do……kills the nasty bugs and makes their hide beautiful. Marshall is getting a little carried away here. It’s a gun, but not that way. Squirt it onto the back of the calf, son!       092.jpg     Yep, that’s right. We got some big ole’ calf nuts here. Michael was the professional bander. There are several different ways to take care of the bulls. We prefer the banding….no cutting, no blood. These should have been done during spring break, but time has a way of getting away from a dairyman. Everything always needs to be done right now! So, we had some pretty good sized “nuts” to band. The commentary can be pretty entertaining when working cattle. I’ve become pretty calloused you might say.     089.jpg         Next on the list is dehorning. Both heifers and bulls will have horns. Unless they’re “polled”…..that’s always a good day. Polled means that they were born without horns. All angus calves are polled, so all of our black calves were horn free. Ahhhhh…..we love polled calves. Less stress! Otherwise, they need to go. Cows like to use their heads as weapons. They’re like a huge rock swinging to and fro. Imagine if they had sharp horns yet too. Their heads hurt, not to mention the back leg. I’ve felt both. I definitely don’t want to feel a sharp horn in my side. Besides, they have “cow fights” out in the pasture and we don’t want to deal with any more drama than is necessary. FYI…the dogs love to eat the horns…..it’s a delicacy to them.       088.jpg         Michael being the “jokester”. Gotta watch out for those wicked horns…..they pop up at the weirdest places. Earl was the dehorner. I had to spray disinfectant/sealer and apply cotton (bandaid) if necessary. So, I did do a little dirty work afterall.      087.jpg    We worked calves for two days. Remember all those calves I raised in the hutches last winter? Well, now they’re big boys and girls. The wicked horns are gone…no pesky parasites…and the boys are “nut free”. You’d be amazed how that affects their attitude! So, there you have it….down and dirty. Does anyone care for some “calf fries”? That’s what you call the “nuts” when they’re fried up and ready for human consumption………Carol

Summer Calves

Tags

      So, here’s the question of the day. Is it easier to raise calves in the summer time or winter time? Well, in my opinion (that’s scary) there are pros and cons either way. Anyway, let me show you what’s happening on the “calf front” these days……………..     023.jpg      Take a look….this calf has a question for you. Yep, we’ve had some crazy markings over the years. This is one of the best. I just wish I could wipe my nose like this. When it’s cold outside….there is no time to stop and wipe your nose with a Kleenex and be all lady like. Instead I just wipe my nose on my sleeve and keep right on working. Milkmaids pick up some really bad habits. That’s why it’s scary for me to be seen in public. Who knows when one of my “habits” will rear it’s ugly head?!     020.jpg              Ok, here’s the deal. As much as I hate cold weather…..it is easier to raise healthy calves in the wintertime……I think. It gets so blasted hot in Oklahoma and the flies! Oh dear…..do we ever fight flies! For the sanity of the calves we keep them and their pens sprayed on a regular basis. We have to. The flies will slowly drive them insane. Biting and carrying all kinds of disease. What good are flies anyway?!      017         Marshall is my “right hand man” with all the calf feeding this summer. That helps tremendously with the work load. Oh, and don’t forget the “chic”….that’s her nickname. Dixie is her official name but I added “chic” and it stuck. She rides on the front of the 4-wheeler…..she’s the boss!       007            So, the moral of the story is…….it takes extra time and work to keep the calves feeling energetic and healthy in the summer heat. We still fight the same diseases that we do in the winter time….plus flies. Calves are susceptible to anything. They definitely keep you on your toes. No rest for the weary. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it…………………………..Carol

Finish the Job

Tags

      Ok, it’s time to finish this dirty job of hauling manure. Now that we’ve got the lagoon emptied…..it’s time to haul off the solids. This is what we call the “dry stack”. It smells pretty “rich” too. We use a totally different spreader to do this job. I should’ve asked the “farmers” which is the worse of two evils. Liquid or solids?  Either way….it’s a smelly job, but they don’t seem to mind it at all.      010          This is the spreader we use for the solids. Michael is on his way out to pasture to empty it and come back for more. Back and forth….all afternoon. Beware…..flying poop alert!        007           Here we have Earl filling up the spreader. Look closely and you’ll see the concrete wall back there. That’s to contain everything and just to the left is the small opening where the liquid flows into the lagoon. It all makes sense when you see it in real life. Haha Who knew cow poop could be so complicated?! Earl is the “master” at tractor loader controls. Years of practice I suppose.      011.jpg         The fun part…..spreading. Marshall and I followed on the four-wheeler to get a closer look. Don’t get too close….you’ll get splattered. The spreader shoots everything out the side pulverizing as it goes.     013.jpg     Here’s a closer look at flying cow poop. Haha I should’ve taken a picture of the inside of the spreader so you can get a better idea of what’s happening. Me….I didn’t think that far. I forget that some things have never been seen or told. At least you have an idea of what’s happening…right?!      035.jpg        Well, thank goodness that job is wrapped up. We got a beautiful rain right after they spread all that on the pastures. Oh, will the grass ever grow now! That also means the weeds will be going crazy. So, we had our “sprayer dude” come spray everything for us. He can do it so much faster than we can. Come to think of it….do we even have a sprayer? Does it work? Hope not, because this guy can do it in a few hours whereas it would take us all week. Michael did not get run over. He just sat there and the sprayer slowly drove over him….literally. Farm boys…..what will they do next……………………Carol