Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cowboys and Cow Dogs

Whew! I am having quite the week, here. Jeff has been out of town since Monday so OF COURSE I was destined to have complications with animals. We had two little calves who didn't appear to be doing too well. Their little ears and other places on their bodies were blistered and bleeding. Jeff couldn't imagine what was wrong with them. Before he left, he put them in a pen and called the vet. Doc Glover came out on Tuesday and said they were having some sort of photo-sensitivity issue. In other words, they are sunburned!! Can you believe it? Here I was expecting him to say they had blah blah blah and give them a shot or put some salve on them...not say they were sunburned!

"Just rig up some shade for them," he said. "And, oh, try to spritz them down with some sunscreen." He looked totally serious when he said this.

"Really?" I asked.

"Really," he said.

I gulped and tried to cover up the two kids who were standing on either side of me. Both Camille and Jules had little peeling cheeks from the sunburns they'd gotten at the beach. Like I didn't have enough guilt! I was like, "Geeze, do you see these kids? Do I look like the kind of person who can manage to keep everyone protected from harmful UVA/UVB rays? I can't manage it with my KIDS."
But all I said was, "Okay. Sure."
I can't imagine what has caused this reaction. The vet said maybe they had eaten a weed or something that triggered a reaction but that doesn't sit right with me. Normally, the cows settle under some of the oak trees on the place, when it is the hottest part of the day. I have noticed that these two mamas are not the best mamas. They tend to run their little calves ragged - not ever wanting to settle down and nurse (ok - so I kinda admit to knowing how they feel on occasion). So maybe that is it?
Anyway, so we have had quite a time. First of all, Joel had to get the mamas in with these babies, since they are still nurslings. The babies were bellowing and the mamas came up to the pen, but they weren't anxious to actually get in. He finally managed it, and then rigged up some tarp along the walls of the pen. In the meantime, he is also having to fill up their troughs with water, since they usually drink from the tank, several acres away. Then we realized that the two pairs were not getting along, and so had to separate one set from the other. That required another tarp, and we had to use a rain fly from our tent to do it. Yesterday, when the sun was setting and things had cooled off, we all set outside to work and take care of the animals. We really enjoyed it. Ellie was out there crawling around and rigging up shade with Joel. At times like that, with the sun setting and lighting up the sky, and the breeze blowing, and the kids all working with the land and the animals, I LOVE living in the country. I always wanted to live on a farm when I was little. My kids think all this is just perfectly normal. Of course, there are trade-offs. I also loved growing up in a neighborhood and running with my pack of playmates. But my kids have a pack of playmates :).
Today Joel has been working hard, forking in some hay in addition to keeping them watered. He is quite the little cowboy. Yesterday, one of the mamas got out (don't know how) and it took Joel repeated attempts (for 3 hours) to get her back in. And he patiently tried and tried and tried - don't know how many miles he walked - until he calmly got her back in and then the baby immediately came out of the shade to nurse. Haven't had a ton of luck with the sunscreen - but both calves are looking better today.

Joel is thrilled to announce that Ranger is a great cow dog. He is alert and watchful - never in the wrong place at the wrong time, and easy and calm with the cows. We are not used to this because Schnitzel, although truly the smartest dog of all time, is neither patient with nor fond of the cows. And she really likes to help round them up when it is time to haul. There is much barking and nipping and chasing and fussing...we have learned to put her in the house. But Ranger is actually helpful!

We have also been working to get our chicken coop ready as we have baby chicks arriving next week. And in between, we've been cooking, cleaning, shopping, reading, going to tae kwon do, visiting friends, doing laundry...etc. Oh! And I cleaned out my pantry! Really big deal. Sad but true. That is the excitement of my life at the moment - a clean pantry and plans for a new chicken coop.

Tomorrow I have to make a run to the feed store to get some supplies and feed for the chicks. And I need to look and see if there are any natural remedies for the fly problem we're experiencing. We refuse to treat the cattle with chemicals. Especially now, that we're going to try and market them as natural, grass-fed beef. We've always used the wasps that eat fly larvae, and it always worked really well. We didn't do it this year and surely wish we had.
So when Jeff arrives home tomorrow I am off to bunco! Yay! Bunco is just one more of those things I said I'd never grow up to do, that I thoroughly enjoy. It is at Karen's house. Karen has 8 kids. EIGHT. She is superwoman. You can check out her blog at
Then maybe a little relaxing on Saturday? Think I've earned it?
Let's close this down with a recipe, shall we? Last night it was too late to start anything complicated for dinner, so I just looked around and decided on homemade pesto. I think it was the best I've ever made!
Into a food processor drop about 3 handfuls of fresh basil leaves, about 6 slices of dried tomatoes, 1/3 cup of paremesan cheese, 1/3 cup chopped pecans, 2 cloves of garlic, and a teaspoon of salt. Process until it is pasty - then add about 1/4 cup of olive oil and process some more. Stir into warm whole wheat pasta. (You really have to stir it).
Delicious! I think I will make this the next time I host bunco :) - with a little white wine, salad, garlic bread.....
Sardine Cow Mama


  1. I love bunco, too. Check out my website devoted to bunco. It has lots of free stuff and party ideas.

  2. fyi... website wrong i believe : should be w/o @. took me a while to figure out.

  3. Amy, thanks! I looked at your site and your rules are different than ours. Very interesting! I would initiate changes in our rules but we can barely handle the ones we've got :).

    Janet - you're right. I changed it. Thanks for that. We missed you today! Thought you were coming over!