Cool Cows

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

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      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

Young and Free

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     Oh, to be a kid again! Remember what it was like being carefree and innocent? No worries. No responsibilities. No stress. No work. Just playtime. Well, we had some “little people” come to the farm last week and remind us what being a kid is all about. They wanted a pony ride, but it turned into more than that. Who knew that a dairy farm had so many “fun” toys to play with?! Come see the farm through a child’s eyes……     057.jpg      This is Cooper and Lizzie……our little friends. Marshall was more than happy to give them a pony ride. Wow! Life is good…..popsicles and ponies!     046.jpg                They wanted to go play in the feed. This is like a huge sandbox to little kiddos. But oh dear…….as a Mother it is a nightmare. You might as well strip your child outside before going to the house. Otherwise, you’ll have feed all over your floor. I know these things….been there, done that.    044.jpg       So much fun! Climbing Mt. Everest……or so they thought. And guess what? They thought the feed smelled so good. Now that tells me something…..they are true farm kids! Who else will think that cow feed smells good?!    041.jpg         Just for the record…..this is how we push down feed. The feed is augured up to the top of the barn and then we have to fill all the individual bins that drop down to the feeders where the cows eat. There are 10 bins to fill. If you would like to get a workout…..come on over. Think cardio! It “ain’t” easy!      040.jpg                   Little Gentry wasn’t sure what to think of the pony. Just being a little cautious, but always a happy girl. Dani and I tried to catch up with each others lives while the kids played. She has a “human herd” and I have a “cow herd”. Both super busy Moms. Some day we’re going to be able to go have “time off” days again.     039      They wanted a 4-wheeler ride. That’s always fun! It looks like Cooper has a mustache, but it’s just a reflection from the sun. I’m not a professional photographer….just a milkmaid. Haha We had just finished all the calf feeding in the back. As you can see the trailer is loaded down with buckets and cans. I’ll need to give you another update on all my cute little “jerks”. (affectionate name for calves)     049.jpg       So there you have it…..fun day at the farm. We didn’t have time to play with all the baby kittens. Or the little calves. Or watch the cows being milked. We’ll have to do that another day. Maybe we’ll have ice cream cones next time…………………Carol

It Stinks Around Here

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       Vacation? What vacation? It doesn’t seem real that we ever went anywhere. We’re right back into the thick of things. This time it’s hauling “cow poop”. The good, rich stuff….straight from the lagoon. Does it ever stink! Come along and I’ll show you some really disgusting pictures. If you can’t stomach “dirty”…..look away!   034.jpg             Alright, this is Michael demonstrating how this thing works. He was the “stir man” while Earl hauled it off. There’s a propeller on the end of this and it whips the “slur” into a total frenzy. This is all liquid runoff from the lots. Thank goodness school’s out and I had Michael here to help with this stinky project. I especially like the poop all over his legs.     028.jpg     Earl comes along and they fill the tanker to the brim. As you can see, it gets a little messy. They built the stand especially for this project. The pallets…….we have tons of them stacked out back. They come in pretty handy at times like these. It doesn’t look fancy and all, but who cares?! We’re hauling cow poop.  They take it out and spread it on the pastures.  It sure makes things grow…..a great “all natural” fertilizer.   052       The day after is always clean up day. Everything must be cleaned with the high pressure washer. It’s a dirty job, but it has to be done. That cow poop will eat everything up if you don’t.       063.jpg      Michael has the fun job…..climbing to the top. Earl and I are old enough now to know that some things are not safe anymore. So, that’s when the “young blood” comes in handy. We can’t afford to have anyone get hurt. It takes the whole family to run this place.    064.jpg            Marshall was the official inspector. He has no problem pointing out any missed spots. Much to Michaels dismay. So, that’s what was happening this week. I was busy whipping my yard into shape and trying to finish up my patio. That’s an endless summer job. I just “piddle around” on the patio all summer…………………….Carol

Back to Reality

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      Well, guess what?! The “Farmer” and the “Milkmaid” got to go on a mini vacation. We haven’t taken a vacation like this in…..forever! No kidding….dairy farmers don’t get much time off. That’s one of the many sacrifices that we face. So, here is the scoop……    119.jpg     Can you guess where we went? Haha Our nation’s capital…..Washington D.C. It was definitely something to see. We had such a great time!   131.jpg     Alright, I’m going to give just a few of the highlights so as not to bore you to death about our “miracle” vacation.  First of all…..my brother is the one that suggested we do this. He lives in the big city and so he took on the responsibility to show us “country bumpkins” around. He was our personal tour guide. Can’t beat a deal like that. And then it just so happened that my “favorite” Aunt was also on vacation. Same week…same hotel…same places. Wow! It was awesome!    268.jpg         We saw so many monuments and statutes it was unreal. So very interesting. We read about all these places for years and then all of a sudden…..it becomes a reality. Amazing!   309.jpg     Arlington National Cemetery was a highlight. So much history. Very sobering. A quiet place.     349.jpg      Another highlight was the Segway Tour. Who would’ve ever guessed that we would ride one of those awesome machines?! I guess all that tractor driving…four wheeler… gator…was important training, because we got the hang of it right away. Surprise! Surprise! This was the group we toured with. The “red guy” was our fearless leader. I definitely recommend this tour.   376.jpg     Another great memorial. We were in awe the whole time we were there. This city is packed full of history. We basically walked around with our mouths hanging open the whole time. If it wouldn’t have been for my brother……the city would have eaten us for lunch!     398.jpg      Uncle Sam wants you!! Earl was on a roll! The whole week. I think “the farmer” enjoyed his time off.   401.jpg     And don’t forget about 007. Yep…we met them all. Looks pretty real for “wax museum” don’t ya think?!  459.jpg     Last but not least….the most important part of the whole week. The boys did all the chores….by themselves. They were knocking on deaths door, but we rescued them just in the knick of time. They did a fabulous job! We left the farm in their hands and they came through with flying colors. They worked their “butts” off, but now they know what they’re made of. It was hard work…they were bone weary…hungry as a horse…and still survived. Haha So now…we are back to reality and hittin’ it hard once again……………………Carol

Red, White & Blue

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      I’ve also been busy placing all my “garden flags” around the farm. Memorial Day is just around the corner and it was very important to have them all up and proudly waving in the wind. I love decorating with the flag, but more importantly I’m so grateful for the sacrifices that have been made so that we can live free. Once I place all my flags…..they usually stay up for the rest of the summer. This is what I have……………      024            This one stays up all the time. I never take it down. It certainly adds color in the dreary days of winter, and summer time is for all the patriotic holidays. The flag adds beauty anywhere I put it.    031         A patriotic welcome on my front porch. No one ever comes to the front door……everyone likes the back porch best. But I still have to have my front porch looking its best….just in case. The cats like it too…..we have a litter of kittens living here.         017.jpg      Welcome to the dairy farm! This is out by the road flowerbed. This gives the whole front yard a nicer look. I usually take these down after the holiday and just keep them safe until the next use. Too many “pranksters” in our neck of the woods.     027     My concrete cow decided to mooooove her legs and walk out to the barn. Haha What a pathetic joke?! Michael moved her for me…..notice her cute little cow bell? She desperately needs a coat of black and white paint, but that will have to wait for the “dog days” of summer…..when it’s too hot to move. She did ask for a flag to stay by her side. I gladly granted her wish.     034.jpg      And this about does it. My color scheme this year is red, white, and blue. More purple than actual blue but I’m ok with that. I always have red……a farm must have red flowers. Those are the rules. Enjoy the weekend…………………Carol

Vintage Gardening

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      I feel like I’m finally getting somewhere with my “to-do” list after spending weeks putting up hay. I’m never totally caught up. You know the saying….”A woman’s work is never done”. How true that is. I just quit for the day and start over again tomorrow. I try to prioritize, but when it comes to planting flowers and working outside…..everything else takes a back seat.  So, come along and I’ll show you how a farm girl/milkmaid likes to garden.        006.jpg      I love antiquing and flea markets, but hardly ever have time to go. Usually it’s only when friends or family visit from miles away and I get to take the day off and show them a good time. So, I’ve collected a few things over the years and I like to incorporate them into my garden plans. Like this wagon…..it carries something different every summer. I can never make up my mind…..so I change it up constantly.     016.jpg      I didn’t actually find this at a sale. I found it hanging in the barn. What a priceless treasure….if you’re into this kind of thing. And I am…I love “cow skulls”. Maybe because I’ve worked with cattle for nearly 25 years. I’ve learned a thing or two. My life is consumed with cows, calves, and cow poop.     008.jpg     I pick things up here and there. I don’t always know where I’m going to put it, but it usually comes to me when I’m in the barn milking the bossy bovines. My mind begins to wander while waiting on a slow poke cow and suddenly…..a light bulb goes on!!  The big rock comes from our pasture. I don’t think Earl will ever move it again. Amen!    017.jpg     What’s not to like about an old iron wheel?! So many memories are sitting right there in that flowerbed. If only they could talk. The great stories they would tell. So glad we don’t have to farm that way anymore. Whew! Those pioneer farmers had to work hard. And I thought I had to work hard?! Thank God I don’t have to milk by hand!     016.jpg     This bike belonged to my Aunt Clara. We called it her “red corvette”.  A lot of memories go with this thing. I always have it right here by the tree…..so I walk by it every day on my way to and from the barn.    020.jpg      I just want you to know that not everything is lovely around here. This bed was a natural disaster. I had to walk past it every day and I shuddered every time. How could I allow it to become so hideous?! What is wrong with me? What in the world am I thinking? What am I doing?        011.jpg           Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I went to work and did some serious weeding and planting. I feel like I accomplished something great. My only problem….little Dixie Chic is digging holes and laying in the cool dirt. Grrrr……I am fit to be tied. It’s like training a young child all over again. I think I’ll just look away and pretend I never saw anything…or maybe not………………………Carol