Pulling Everybody’s Hair!

Dwayne and I have family and friends that seem to become a bit – ahem – uptight about the fact that we have no time for visiting – or – leaving our place to do anything outside of a few hours in any given day.  Two people raising cattle – become owned by those cattle.  Ask any cattle rancher.  There’s a reason why they have large families – or – hire help.

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You can’t throw ‘em on a pasture and disappear for a few days.  That holds true right now – especially.

We have some idiots in this country that seem to think it’s perfectly okay to snatch somebody else’s cattle.  With the price of everything climbing insanely to the sky – for no legitimate reason beyond passing the buck when it comes to blame – cattle rustling continues.  And it’s a lot easier today – with the help of wheels.  For this reason – Dwayne and I have started taking on additional chores to secure our herd.

But first – we went picking in everybody’s ears the other day.  Tattooing does not stay forever.  Apparently.  Who knows?  Who cares.  It wasn’t there.  So – we took care of it.

I knew there was a reason to wait before washing!

I knew there was a reason to wait before washing!

This was my reward.  I have become Aon’s replacement for a security blanket – now that he’s been weaned.  He loves his Granny!  And Granny loves him!  Even so – Granny was not too happy about finding this on her barn coat.  But that was not Aon’s fault.

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The temps are expected to hit back up into the 50’s today.  I’m hoping and praying my ‘back-up’ works on removing the tattoo ink.

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But we were told this gets the ink off your hands.  And it works!!

One of those new chores consists of pulling tail hairs off of – everybody.  No matter if they’ve already had tail hairs sent in to the labs for testing.  No matter if the previous breeders/owners already took care of that detail.  No matter if the animal is headed to the freezer.  We dispose of the sample after we have taken an animal to be processed.

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We’ve been pulling tail hairs – and more tail hairs – off of everybody – to keep on file at our place.  A lot of people with large herds would dispute our reason for doing so in case of theft – with a falling back excuse of having too many animals and not enough time.  “Tracking would end up leading to a carcass at the end.  So – why bother?

That’s why the rustling continues.  And they would be the ones experiencing the greatest losses – despite the fact that a lot of idiots hit on small herds to save time for making a fast buck.  Well.  That’s the math the crooks have done in their head – anyway.

So far – I’ve heard that most of them getting busted are standing at their livestock trailer.  But that’s because a responsible cattle owner had taken the time to keep very good identification records.  They also had the brains to jump in front of the train and contact every processing and auction house they could locate – and get the word down the pipeline.

Collecting the tail hairs tends to be one of those little daunting tasks that causes new cattle owners to stiffen up.  I think the fact that so much stress on making sure to pull the follicle sounds more intimidating than it is – really.  And then – there is the thought of how it feels to have our own hair pulled out – that crosses all our minds.  C’mon.  You know you think about it!

Think about this.  They kick each other in the head.  And you worry about pulling a few hairs out of their tail?

Here’s a video that I really like.  I love the kits they use in Oz!  Wish we had ‘em here.  We settle for paper towels – or – Ziploc bags – and #10 envelopes.  Only one thing different than the example shown in the video that we found to help much easier.  We pull the hairs upward – to 12noon on the clock.  We get a much higher count of the follicles.  Dwayne’s able to get the approximate 30 hairs that are always requested on the first pull – almost every time.

You just wanna make sure your hands are clean.  I use a folded paper towel – to keep the follicles in a sterile confinement – as much as possible.  Remember – you are dealing with DNA here.

If you get a good – full wrap of the tail hairs around your finger before you pull – you’re good to go.  But remember – you wanna wrap safely enough away from the follicle end of the hairs – to keep any from touching your hand.

Clinching the fist after pulling helps.  From there – you can lay the follicle end onto the paper towel while you unwrap the hairs from your finger.  Close up the paper towel.  I place the paper towel inside the envelope tagged for each animal – without sealing the envelope.

Once I get back to the house – I get out the cellophane tape and ink pen.  I wash my hands.  Carefully – I remove the paper towel from the envelope.  Dwayne usually washes his hands and helps.  He holds a piece of tape ready.  I grab hold of the lock of hair – about 2 inches from the follicles.  I get it all situated into a nice and neat clump – handling hairs below where I’ve grabbed – if needed.

Once I’ve got ‘em situated – I pick up the lock of hair.  Dwayne wraps the tape under my fingers that are holding the lock of hair.  I grab the taped portion and trim hairs below to make the sample all nice and neat – before setting it back onto the paper towel while I label the envelope with all the information that the lab requests.  And then I pick up the taped portion to set the sample inside the envelope before sealing.

I do each sample one at a time – getting each sample sealed in the #10 envelope and ready for the lab to open before moving on to the next sample.  Very dangerous to try doing too many at once – leaving samples sitting on paper towels – scattered on your work area.  Don’t do that!!!

Believe me – it happens.  It’s another reason why we go ahead and test all our animals.  Yeah – it’s expensive as all get-out.  But we like sleeping like a baby.  Raising cattle is not cheap.  But we have learned to pick our battles.  As much as we would love to be able to travel to all the different livestock shows to compete – we prefer spending the last of our pennies on verifying genetics of our animals.

I’m glad we’re in the habit of doing this.  I don’t care how many go to the processor.  I don’t care how many are born into the herd each year.  I don’t care how many more we purchase for adding to our herd.  We will continue doing whatever we can to protect our animals from theft.

Nobody else has any right to come sneaking up here and stealing our investment.  And we’re taking every measure to verify and protect our animals.  And I mean – every – measure.

Granted.  The effort may lead to only a carcass at the end of the day.  But if you think I won’t show up in that  courtroom to make sure somebody goes to jail for a while…  And if you think there won’t be a Civil lawsuit to follow – that will go as far as placing liens on whatever they own that we can tag…  

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My Yardly Pet Peeve

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These are my Waders.  They carry more common sense, just standing on their own, compared to so many 2-legged brains that have entertained my cartoon sense of humor – while I have listened.

It amazes me – the fact that so many city people just cringe at the thought of going out to a farm owned by relatives – for fear of stepping into – Cow Poop.  Yet – those same 2-legged brains will buy homes in the city with little back yards – and own 5 dogs.

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Did I show you my waders?

I live out here on our acreage.  Besides our Irish Dexter Cattle – we have 2 dogs and a cat.  This year – we had 23 Hens and a Rooster – until I twisted up all the tendons and ligaments in my left foot – back in August.  While they were here – they were let out of their coop every permissible morning – to run amuck – and destroy all our beautiful landscaping we accomplished in 2013.

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I don’t miss the chickens.  I will never buy more than 5 hens – ever again.  And I won’t care how pissed off they get about being confined to the choice of 2 different yards either.

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Take a look at my waders! I just couldn’t live without these things!

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I clean cow poop inside barns and shelters every day – twice each day.  Depending on several oddball situations – there might be two or three more times.  I can step in Cow Poop all day long.  And it doesn’t bother me one least bit.

But you have NEVER seen a case of Road Rage that compares to my fury – after stepping in dog poop – with my waders.

The difference in the ‘stink’ is divided by mountains.  Any water hose can testify on behalf of Cow Poop – how much easier it washes off anything – compared to that damned dog poop.  It’s like washing off dried dirt – versus – wet clay.  And the scent of Cow Poop washes away.  But that dog poop will have you gagging like a maggot on a meat wagon – even after you’ve found – something – to scrape it off as much as you can – until the water hose succeeds.  You can walk away – and still smell that crap!  And it’ll be there tomorrow!!

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Christmas is coming.  Many of you City People are preparing to get out there and join the madness in traffic – to do your Christmas shopping.  If you are a family member that has never gone out to spend time on your Relative’s farm – buy yourself a pair of Waders.  Buy a pair for everybody in your own family!

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See mine!  You can find ‘em just about anywhere!  I go through a pair every year.  I don’t buy those expensive ones.  I buy the ones that cost around $25.00.  Tractor Supply – Walmart – works just fine.  The only thing I spend $100.00 or more on – for my feet – is a pair of boots that I can wear on those rare occasions when I get to escape and go be among the masses of 2-legged brains in the city.

I challenge you City People – to go out to your Relative’s farm and walk around in your own Waders!  If you refuse to do so – your Relative will have been handed every right to call you a Chicken – a Lazy Chicken at that rate.

Because at that point – they can also assume your other Phobia would be the fear of them putting you to work.  And they probably would put you to work!  But I’d bet they’d make sure you didn’t go home empty handed.  ;)

You have no idea what you are missing when you’re somebody blessed to have family that lives their life everyday raising livestock – without your presence ever being seen out there – experiencing all that they are accomplishing.

Afraid you’re gonna get dirty?

shower

Well.  That’s what they make these for!  And for washing dogs and cats.  But – anyway.  If you’re that much worried – just bring an extra set of clothes with ya’!

Worried you might get a little grease on your jeans or shirt?

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Here’s my secret!  This will even remove grass stains.  I keep this down in my cabinet for the laundry area.  I keep one under the sinks in our kitchen and in our bathrooms – with old toothbrushes that I collect when I change ours out.

goop2

It’s Goop.  Mechanic’s Hand Cleaner.  And noooo – the Orange crap won’t work.  Any Mechanic will know what I’m talking about.  But you can find Goop in the Automotive Department of any store carrying one.  If nothing else – hit an Auto Parts store.

I haven’t tried it for removing dog poop.  But I haven’t tried it for removing Cow Poop either.  Water hose works just fine for Cow Poop! ;)

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See what I mean?

;)

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When Farming Steps on The Respect You’ve Given

I am so far from being any fan of PETA.  And I have always done my best to sit back and learn from the large farming community.  But I have also watched what’s happened to my body, despite sticking to preparing only simple – cut and dry – meat and vegetables purchased from grocery stores.

Granted.  I’m nowhere near as so many others.  But enough that I am unhappy with my situation.  And that’s enough for a reason to be pissed.

I’ve sat back and observed every view that pops on televisions – photos shared on social sites – anything showing masses of people in public places.  “Look at all the fat people.”

We are everywhere.  And NONE of us got here on our own.  If being lazy and eating like there’s no tomorrow, or, even old age were the truth – not one retail business entity would have the need to restock anything.  NOTHING would be moving on this planet.

EVERYTHING IS connected – if you care enough to take the time to do the simple math.

My only help has been to eat NOTHING and drink nothing else but water for 4 days, just to lose weight.  And my 4-foot 11-inch short 55-year-old self cares for our cattle alone, in 4-day increments, getting  help every 4 days in between.  That includes stripping barn stalls – the barn alley – climbing the ladder up to and dropping hay from the loft and stacking in the tack room – hauling 50lb. bags of feed into the tack room and dumping into storage cans.  Even dragging water hoses all around the place – mowing during the spring and summer season.

And I won’t even go into the mess about keeping up OUR entire household.  I get my daily count of steps and stretches into every day – at the very least.

When it comes to the issue of the GMO’s… my common sense is just screaming.  What I SEE happening is screaming, alongside.  And as is the constant in history around this country… it will be DECADES before anyone confesses to the truth I’m watching happen NOW.

Anybody remember the denial that went on about the Manhattan Project being real? Anybody remember the denial that went on about there being an Area 51?  Anybody remember the denial about Agent Orange?  Anybody remember the incredible atrocity that shook this country at Love Canal?

Oh, I could go on and on.  I was especially interested in that bit about how the ‘Superfund’ was ‘funded’ back then, in that report about Love Canal.  Obviously, the intentions have had some ‘changes’ made.  But too few of us will pay enough attention to win any fight for political campaign funding reform. 

Before you call me a Conspiracy Theory Nutcase – especially if you’re under the age of 45… you better make a trip to your local library.  Bottom line – it happens all the time.  It happens all over this country.  It’s gone on forever.  It’s as if Capitalism has its very own incurable case of Syphilis.  And MUCH of it has been deleted from the curriculum they’re teaching in schools today.  Guilt is the Devil to – and Greed the arms of – Capitalism.

It is what it is.

The real truths about GMO’s IN OUR FOOD CROPS WILL BE one more of those damaging cover-ups that will push up from the ground decades from now.  And I encountered a GMO supporting statement from a farmer’s wife the other night that – simply – rocked me to the core – enough that I just haven’t bothered going back.

Her denial matched with her age group – matched the age group of those that denied things I remember seeing in the news when I was a teenager, feeding the medial and social argument about the Manhattan Project.

What that farmer’s wife said has changed my life forever – far from any good way.  It took walking away from my computer… needing time to sort out my own mind to get my thoughts together.  Because above all else – the lives of my husband and I depend on wise choices for proceeding in our own lives around this whole crappy nightmare.

Our garden will be doubled next year.  Our hay field will convert to pasture for our cattle.  We will be purchasing a Jersey cow.  And we will begin eating NOTHING but the food produced on our own property.  We may not be able to go 100% sustainable on our property.  But – By God – we’re gonna make a notable difference.

That final statement made by that farmer’s wife on Twitter was…. “It’s dangerous when we attach morality to Ag.”

Making such a statement out there on Twitterverse – was like a vision of her standing out in some cornfield – speaking on behalf of all farmers.  That told me – the true interest in Ag is the quantity of production… at the expense of the health of a world full of people.  And then they wonder why Corporate America won’t pay them what they’re worth.

Apparently, they don’t seem to be interested in observing the fact that Corporate America puts a price on quality before quantity.  Let me be clear about what I just said there.  They put a price on quality first.  They want it all – for almost nothing.  However much that farmer has to harvest – in order to take care of his own family – is HIS problem, in the eyes of Corporate America.  They couldn’t care less about the farmer.

And here is where you see some solid ‘trickle down’ effect.  The farmer now could not care less about the health of the world of people it feeds.  They just wanna harvest more so they can fill their penny jar.  Oh, they claim they’re concerned about feeding the world, too.  But then – everybody has their own kind of sales pitch.  I’ve learned lately – I’m not a human being.  I’m a carrot in a Farmer’s defense.  Bottom line fact is – they’ve caved in to the GMO’s.

The fact that Corporate America bucks paying farmers more only validates my common sense.  And I wonder if farmers ever research the investment portfolios of their purchasing clients.  Would not surprise me to find they’ve all invested huge chunks into the very entities that enable them to screw the farmer… those manufacturing GMO’s.

I’ve always carried a heart watching the backs of farmers.  But the statement made with that attitude by that farmer’s wife… continuing to support famers is no different than going bankrupt from bailing your best friend out of jail every weekend.

Her words broke my heart and left me feeling totally disappointed.

You wanna bite a hand?  Rage a campaign to defend harvesting what’s in the BEST INTEREST OF THE HEALTH OF HUMAN BEINGS.  Because Corporate America could not care less about either of us.  And at the end of the day – you need us more than you realize.

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Stocking More Than Soup for Winter

** I’m sharing a bunch of photos today.  So – they’re posted smaller than usual.  But you can click on each photo to view more easily!

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A couple days ago – we had such a wonderful opportunity to enjoy one of the most gorgeous days of this Fall season!  It was almost like a fresh Spring day.  Were it not for the colors – you’d think time was arriving to prepare for all that summer fun!

My 'Spoiled Rotten' April!

My ‘Spoiled Rotten’ April!

But I knew – as did everyone else here in East Tennessee – such is not the case.  And I knew this would – most likely – be that very last gorgeous day that our Irish Dexters would get the chance to lay out and soak up while relaxing and enjoying content as they chewed their cud.

" Anna - Anna - Anna! "  She just eats that up!

” Anna – Anna – Anna! ” She just eats that up!

I had to catch them in the middle of their joy.  I had to have pictures.  So – I captured moments while they all had breakfast!

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I even felt the need to catch the bits of the chaos that I take care of by myself – when Dwayne is working.  I’ll need these later – as winter embeds itself and its frigid temperament.

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The work will only become more intense.  The mess will become more than doubled.

But the wonderful thing about it all…

Aon and Seamus

Aon and Seamus

The cattle.  They pay attention.  They know – all that we do is for them.

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They know Winter is coming early.  We’ve watched Artist bulk up like crazy.  Their winter coats are coming on strong.

Helena and Beatrice

Helena and Beatrice

Helena and Beatrice get all the running around – head butting and playing around done as much as they can – while they can.

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They’ll huddle in the barn and in their shelter – comforted by the layers of hay.

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They’ll appreciate that tolerable 40* minimum temperature of their water.

Yes - We measure out our rations!

Yes – We measure out our rations!

They’ll feel the comfort of knowing we’ll see to it that they have plenty of all they’ll need for mustering up their own body heat – without the loss of body mass.

Our Beautiful Cora!  I love the way her winter coat brings these waves to her pretty face!

Our Beautiful Cora! I love the way her winter coat brings these waves to her pretty face!

But for this day – they relish that breakfast under the morning’s warm sun rays!

Posted in Aon, FF Freedom's Artist, PF No Foolin' April, PF Patriot's Cora, RFD Barney Beatrice, RFD Redfield Helena, Seamus, Winter Preparations | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

We Know It’s Coming…

April - Cora - and Artist

April – Cora – and Artist

This morning, we’re waking up with our local news in East Tennessee giving us all a Heads Up – to get outside and soak up as much of this warm day as we all can.

Common sense.  You keep your eyes on the weather when you raise livestock.  In fact – I do my best to check on expectations for oncoming nights in our area – before I head out to take care of evening feeding.

We’ve been preparing.  All the stalls have been stripped and prepped.  All the water trough heaters are hooked up outside and inside the barn – ready to be plugged in.  Yes – even inside the barn.

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The troughs inside the barn even froze when temps sank down into the teens last year.  That provoked an immediate investment in the heaters.  Talk about a Godsend!  We highly recommend those sanity savers.  It’s worth extending heavy-duty outdoor construction extension cords to hook those puppies up!

All the paddocks have been harrowed.  Dwayne had to replace hinges on one of the barn doors – after I found one of the pins had fallen out of the bottom hinge.  They just don’t make good hinges like they once did.  Nothing like those heavy-duty steel welded hinges.

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I LOVE this old 1920 Tobacco Barn! The oak wood is ‘Artist Proof’!!

He took out the bottom bridge of that same door – pounding in anchors for support and using wood screws to secure them to the door frame for support.  That left a gape under the barn door – which he attached an apron for covering.  Otherwise – that barn will feel like it has a double window sitting wide open when those cold North Winds come to visit.

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Tie rings that Dwayne had mounted inside stalls were moved to outside – in the alley.  Original placement was just wrong.  Lead ropes were being run through the water trough that sits through the wall between the stalls.  When you have a calf that’s been left with a lead rope clasped to their halter for training – running all around the paddock and then falling into the water they drink?

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We don’t do that here.  If we’re not willing to drink it – our cows aren’t drinking it!  If there’s one thing we’re anal about here – it’s the water our cows drink.  I cannot deal with dirty water troughs and buckets!  And yeah – I know.  I’m very well aware of all the ‘other’ sources where cows are known to drink water.  Those are not my cows.  And I’m able to spoil mine.  Plenty of other ways around here for them to pick up other sources that can help build their immunity!

So far – weather reports for our area show that tomorrow evening will be the time to make sure everyone has their shelters bedded extra to hunker down and stay warm.  We’re expecting those cold north winds.  Anna – Beatrice – and Helena will be coming inside the barn to stay in stalls.  Aon and Seamus will be coming inside to stay in the barn alley.

This set-up has proven to make for an atmosphere for our cattle during winter that has become one more reason they all love coming into the barn.  We make it very comfortable for them.  They’re not exactly as tiny as mice.  The confines can begin to feel quite tight – after a while.

We’re picky about the weather scenarios when it comes to letting them outside during this time of the season.  They’re kept inside when temps are below 30* – unless there’s no wind and plenty of sunshine.  Otherwise – we keep them inside.

Cleaning up after them is just part of feeding them – morning and evening.  I go out a couple times more during the day to see if they’re standing and needing hay.  I pick up any manure piles I find at that time – as well.  No reason to buy a bigger mess later.

And of course – to break the monotony – I leave ‘em all guessing when I’ll be coming out to give everybody Alfalfa cubes – their favorite treat.

Once they’re all set to wait out this one – it’s all about getting ready to make the Chicken ‘n  Dumplin’s.  Make sure we have plenty of my personal concocted Cocoa Mix – and Milk.  Got all the ingredients for making fresh bread.  Batches of different soups and stews are already canned and frozen.

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My ultimate goal is to get to do more sewing in the next week.  Cross your fingers for me.  In between morning and evening feedings and barn chores – there’s always Laundry – Prepping and cooking Supper.  I’ve got Animal Histories to burn onto CD’s – 2 dogs to bathe – bathrooms to clean – floors to vacuum and mop – laundry – and – of course – more studying.  Always more studying.  Somewhere in there – grocery shopping – and a trip to Costco in Knoxville.

Never a Day Off.  And sometimes – I wish I really could trade places with Dwayne.

Posted in Winter Preparations | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Our Barn is Our Core Tool for Handling Our Irish Dexter Cattle

Most people raising cattle in the numbers over 50 may not relate to this post.  I would say it pertains to those of us with small places – raising less than 25 to 50 head of cattle on our property.  As the numbers grow – time and hands just don’t allow for such personable contact and care on a daily basis – unless you con your local kids participating in 4-H and FFA to hang out at your place every day.  ;)

Again – everyone has their own set-up at their place.  And we all have our own ways with our animals.  Your way may not be my way.  My way may not be your way.  But neither makes the other any wrong way.  They’re all just different ways.

That said – I’m sharing what we have found to work best for us when Irish Dexter Cattle arrive at our place.

Helena (black halter) and Beatrice (red halter).  Photo taken on Oct. 18, 2014, just after arriving.

Helena (black halter) and Beatrice (red halter). Photo taken on Oct. 18, 2014, just after arriving.

Our new animals go directly from the trailer to one of our barn stalls – especially when they arrive after darkness.  Being able to see in the dark has nothing to do with our choice.  We give them a quiet – confined space that provides them with a sense of security.  Not to minimize or sound mousy but – in its own way – doing so parallels with a sense of security in the same way as a security blanket for babies.  The difference it makes with calming them down is huge.  You have an animal more willing to listen and become familiar with you – by the time you go out to feed everybody in the morning.

I’ll use our most recent experience as an example for the protocol we try to frame out here.

Helena very curious about Jen!  Mind you - Jen is only 4' 9"!

Helena very curious about Jen! Mind you – Jen is only 4′ 9″!

We had already decided that Beatrice and Helena would share a paddock with Anna before we decided on which Heifers we were buying.  They did arrive after darkness fell.  And they were placed in the first stall of the barn – which was sanitized – bedded and stocked with fresh hay beforehand.  In order to help them become familiar with Anna from a safe place – we let Anna come stay inside the barn that first night.

Barely tall enough to reach the feeder tray!

Barely tall enough to reach the feeder tray!

Now – our barn stalls are divided by solid wood walls going up halfway.  Obviously – these 2 tiny Chondro Positive Princesses were not able to see over the wall to get a look at Anna.  But it was Anna giving us issues.

Anna whines.  She literally whines like we hear some toddlers whine… “Uh – Uh – Uh – Uh…” – chirped in that high pitch.  You know how kids do that when they want something?  They won’t speak.  But they’ll hold their hand out and do that whining?  That’s Anna.  She knew they were there.  But she couldn’t see them.  So we caved.  We left her stall door open and let her have the run of the alley.  This enabled her to go to their stall door.  And they were able to become familiar with each other that way.

Come next morning – we began trying various things to develop a routine that works for feeding all these varmints with efficiency in time.  We always have to change things up when newcomers arrive – some leave – babies are born.  It’s always something!

Anna was led back to her stall and secured for eating her ration.  Through the process – we let the new girls eat from a feeder bunker in the alley of the barn – with bottoms of the barn doors closed on both ends of the alley.  They were able to get used to eating with us moving around them – conditioning them for our activity around the barn.

They were allowed to visit the tack room – to learn where their feed is stored.  (Once they begin raiding the hay – we start keeping the door to the tack room closed!)  We were able to get them back inside the stall to get lead ropes on them – for daily walks around the paddock – before taking them to the far corner of the paddock to dish out their hay.  And then – we turned Anna out up by the barn – with her own dishing out of Hay.

Figuring out that last part helped us put a stop to Anna refusing to let Beatrice and Anna have any Hay at all.  Everybody stays at their own pile long enough to feel their gut to satisfaction.  At that point – Anna has no problem sharing whatever is left in the paddock.  She’s a cow – that acts like a pig.  “Ain’t nobody gittin’ any until I git mine!

Beatrice and Helena's first morning  out in the paddock with Anna after arriving!

Beatrice and Helena’s first morning out in the paddock with Anna after arriving!

After a couple nights in the stall – we let the 2 new girls start sleeping out in the paddock at night with Anna.  We’d bring them all inside for their morning feedings.  Of course – it took some sneaky coaxing.  Mention food and Anna will walk off a cliff with you.  So – we just let her teach the girls what we wanted.  She comes romping into the barn – heads to her stall.  Little by little – Beatrice and Helena have reached a point where they now come in without her.  Anna eats her ration outside.  And when that happens – we’ve had to adjust dishing out hay to Anna first.  Once she’s got her head shoved into her hay – she’s forgotten about the whole world.  And we can take the girls to a spot of their own – where they’re peacefully left to enjoy their own!

We have looped all this into a daily routine.  There are so many things we use that barn for when it comes to conditioning our cattle for handling.  We’re able to tie the calves to the stall doors from out in the alley – training them to stand quietly while tied.  We’re able to train them for brushing and simple vet care from there – as well.

And it becomes a bonus when others are watching.  They see somebody being treated for allergies – deworming – etc., and getting cookies or sweet feed afterward.  Everybody ends up learning they get treats for letting us take care of something.  It calms everybody down – a bit more – whenever they realize we’re bringing them in for a turn.  And yes – there are those that won’t budge until you give them 1 cookie and show them you have more!

Flexibility – whatever works!  Try anything.  But never give up and do nothing.

Weather always plays into the scenario – demanding flexibility from us.  Of course.  To sum it up – I would say we begin this entire introduction based on a worst-case scenario.  It helps the animals learn that they can count on us having a plan when bad weather arises.  We don’t have to go after anyone.  They’re always at the door waiting on us.  Newcomers learn to take cues from the others much faster.  It makes dodging the Lightning much easier!

We con our cattle into loving that barn.  It enables us to get our hands on our animals at any urgent moment – or – for any health emergency.  Our animals have learned that we now have 3 great places for shelter during the nastiest weather.  They’ll compromise with the new shelter in Artist’s paddock.  And Anna is totally content with the outside shelter on the opposite side of where our Baler is parked.  But they all know that barn.  They all love that barn!

To this day – Artist will even squeeze himself into a barn stall ( LOL!! ) and turn around to watch us close the stall door – if we let him!  I have to go back – every once in a while – and look at the photos of him and Bruce sharing the stall when they first arrived.  Just blows my mind to see how much he’s grown!  I had to tease him a couple weeks ago – by leading April into the back paddock – long enough before running her back into the paddock she was staying in – just to get him into that paddock.  But I never have to ask twice to get him to go to that barn!

We’re not able to get a halter on Cora from out in the paddock.  But if you show her the sweet feed in that bucket – and you tell her to go to the barn….  Just get out of her way!  Once you have her in there – give her the sweet feed – you’re good.  If I hold the cookies and keep her chewing – Dwayne can get the Halter on.  But she won’t let him put a lead rope on her.  She’ll only let me do that.  And then it’s a total fight and coax with cookies – to get her to the chute.

April – waits at the paddock gate for me every morning and evening.  She lets me lead her past Aon and Seamus – through the alley of the barn – past Beatrice and Helena – right into her stall.  We have a routine.  We talk about big butts that we have in common.  We wait for doors to open.  We turn around and wait for doors to close.

She's a typical female.  Trust me!

She’s a typical female. Trust me!

And when she’s finished eating and I ask her if she’s ready – she sticks her head over her stall door and turns her face for me to hook the clasp of her lead rope to the ring in her control halter – automatically.

Again – sounds like I’m talking about horses.  Doesn’t it?!  I know!!

Bottom line – when you step back and take in the big picture – The barn becomes the core tool that we use for handling these cattle – in so many ways – for so many reasons.  When all else fails – we are able to run our animals – from any paddock – to the inside of that barn – when we need to get a lead rope on them.  Even when we need to get them into the chute.  Even the ones with the ugliest temperament.

Barns are not built for only storing hay – equipment and feed.  They’re used for housing livestock.  And many folks house their cattle inside the barn at night during winters.  They build shelters when they have too many for a small barn.  But let your barn be your core tool for handling your animals with all the small stuff!  It can be a real pain getting animals into a chute.  They’ll be more tolerable of interacting with you – If they can trust that you’re not going to shove them into that squeeze chute or headgate every time you come near them!

Some people would complain about having to clean the mess up all the time.  I’ve thought about that one.  And then I’ve thought about The Duggar Family.  You know… that show on TLC called ’19 and Counting.’

Yeah…  I will gladly take on shoveling cow poop out of a barn twice daily – compared to changing all those dirty diapers – all day long – for over 20 years!  (And just think…  she’s got grandchildren coming around like popcorn, already!)

*snicker*

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I survived!

If you’re reading this posting today…

You are witnessing a solid return to sanity!  Yes.  Yes!  YES!  Ohhhh, YESSS!!!  We have embarked on our very first day of kicking Graveyard Shift to the curb!

And of course it means I now tend to cattle without help in the mornings and in the evenings.  We turned those clocks back this past weekend.  We’re up at 3:30am.  Total darkness still prevails when he heads off to work.  And it’s dark again – by the time he gets home.

But here’s the REALLY wonderful part.  I get to start supper an hour later now.  Yes.  3pm never sounded so good!  ;)  I can – actually – make a trip to Knoxville for an appointment – and get home in time to start supper!  Or shopping at Costco – or grocery shopping in Lenoir City!

I can get more of my crochet projects completed.  I can get more sewing done!  Oh my gosh…

I can even PLAN that Thanksgiving Menu this year!!

I can get my dishwasher running – and get a few loads of laundry done before feeding cows!  I can piss off my neighbors by running the vacuum cleaner before daylight!

Yes!  I LOVE waking up at 3:30am!  I even have time to post here more often now!

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Short Girls Fitting In Just Nicely!

(L to R) Helena - Anna - Beatrice.  Photo taken November 2, 2014.

(L to R) Helena – Anna – Beatrice. Photo taken November 2, 2014.

It’s been 2 weeks since Beatrice and Helena arrived here.  And I must say – they seem to have taken to sharing the paddock with Miss Anna quite well!  There have been times when we’ve looked out and found them all huddled together – enjoying the last bits of sunshine days we’ll get to experience between now and next spring.  Their winter coats have already kicked in!

Miss Anna - She cracks me up!  That rise on her butt is nowhere fit for show quality.  But it sure fits with her sweet, loving, funny personality!

Miss Anna – She cracks me up! That rise on her butt is nowhere fit for show quality. But it sure fits with her sweet, loving, funny personality! Photo taken November 2, 2014.

I can almost feel that ‘mother’s instinct’ beginning to sap out from Anna.  She has another 3 months to go before the Due Date for her very first Calf.  I had a feeling sharing with these two new girls would be a much better experience for her – rather than being alone – or – being with the other Girls and Artist.  She was already beginning to take quite a bit of bullying from April.  And I’m so glad we have been able to do this for her at this time in her life.  I’m hoping this will encourage a calm experience with her disposition right after calving.

Miss Beatrice!  Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Miss Beatrice! Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Beatrice turns 1 year old – already – on the 22nd of this month!  She’s been the least trusting at this point – needing some extra attention and a bit more patience.  But getting her to catch me tossing the Apple ‘n Oat cookies into the feed bunker has won her over!  Just as we hoped – getting that first good taste hooked her!  Now she’s up in front of us – just like all the others – with that nose sniffing our hands and pockets.

Everything has become so much calmer – smooth – sociable.  Even the routine walks around the paddock in the morning for further training in getting used to being with us.  Beatrice no longer darts to the barn alley door when we come near.  In fact – both girls now come to hover at the tack room door.  They’ve figured out where those cookies are!  And they take no issue to standing anywhere in the barn alley when it’s time for April to be led back outside for morning Hay.

Miss Helena!  The only  way we can tell the difference in photos is by their ears!  LOL  Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Miss Helena! The only way we can tell the difference in photos is by their ears! LOL Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Helena has just been so curious from the day they arrived!  She is such a Sweetheart – very loving!  Reminds us of Anna when she first arrived.  Loves her walks with us.  And she even enjoys being brushed!  She seems to pay very close attention to what you’re doing – as if she’s always wanting to learn what her part is in the show.  We only had to mention and coax her into a stall once.  From there – she has just put the puzzle together and it’s part of her routine – as if she’s done it for years!

It’s always so difficult to exhibit differentials in size with these cattle through photos.  So deceiving!  The first photo in this post is a serious optical illusion!  Here.  Let me show you an example.  I got a bit lucky!  Take a gander that the next photo.

Anna and Beatrice!  Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Anna and Beatrice! Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Anna and Beatrice!  Anna turns 2 years old on February 26th.  And she’s 3 months out from calving her first calf.  The fact that Beatrice turns 1 year old in only 19 days contributes to helping with recognizing the Chondrodysplasia genetics she possesses.  Beatrice will never see the height Anna possesses.  But she has a conformation that is very evenly matched throughout her entire frame.  And she is showing signs of being a bit of a Beefy Girl – just like Anna!

I know it sounds like we’re dealing with Horses here.  But Dwayne and I have really had to put up with a tight regimen in using what we have on hand.  There’s a lot of sharing space and taking turns here – for our cattle.  And neither of us has any complaints about how well they’ve all adjusted and rolled with the flow!  Well… other than Dwayne having this concentrated opinion that I have spoiled April so badly that she’s just ruined for life.  But that’s my first baby.  I won’t apologize.  And that’s another story!  ;)

Sweet Teddy Bear Anna!  Photo taken November 2, 2014.

Sweet Teddy Bear Anna! Photo taken November 2, 2014.

But this face belongs to Miss Anna – who has been our littlest baby – until our 2 new girls arrived.  And I couldn’t fight the tears when my eyes caught the first sight of all three together in the same paddock.  Somehow – in just a blink – Miss Anna just became such a Big Girl.  Our Little Anna now gives us the thought of  Fat Albert playing Center in a football game!  But neither of us has had a foot stepped on – yet!

Posted in Good News!, Preparing For New Arrivals, RFD Barney Beatrice, RFD Redfield Helena, What We've Learned, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Our Dexter Family Just Grew – Again!

Helena and Beatrice Photo taken 10-19-2014

Helena and Beatrice
Photo taken 10-19-2014

Meet Beatrice and Helena!

They arrived just last night.  And we are so tickled to have them come live with us!

Both girls are Irish Dexters.  Both have been tested and confirmed to be Positive for Chondro Dysplasia – a very well-known dwarfism trait that comes from the original gene pool of the breed.

We are so tickled to have them with us!  We stalled them up last night – because they arrived after dark.  We had already decided to put them with our youngest girl in our family – Anna.  We gave her free-will access to the barn alley through the night to keep them company and settled.

Dwayne - Anna - Beatrice - Helena Photo taken 10-19-2014

Dwayne – Anna – Beatrice – Helena
Photo taken 10-19-2014

Look how tiny they are - compared to Anna – who turns 2-years-old on February 26, 2015!

Anna – herself – is due to calve around January 31, 2015.  This will be her very first calf.  She’s alone in this age bracket and circumstances at this time.  Not wanting her to be alone – we felt it would be worth a try to put her with Beatrice and Helena.  Cattle are Herd Communal type animals.  We didn’t want her to be alone – despite her pregnancy.  But – we will be moving her into our little yard around the 3rd week of January – so we can keep a close watch on her.

Anna was so little – compared to the rest of the girls.  That is – until these 2 girls arrived.  I wanted to cry.  We were so shocked by how huge Anna looks now!  It reminded me of when I saw my oldest daughter, Lyndsey, first time after having my 2nd daughter, Britni.  All of a sudden – it was as if my baby girl disappeared and became this grown –up little girl.  I must have bawled for over an hour – just holding her in my arms and loving on her!

They grow so fast.

We were not expecting these 2 new girls to be as tiny as they are.  They are so adorable!  But when we consider breeding Artist with them – I just cringe.  My thought is – “If they don’t hurry up and do some more growing – I am NOT gonna have the guts to even try!”

They’re less than 3 months apart in age.  But they fell on the rocker of a new year.  Beatrice will be 1-year-old this coming November 22, 2014.  Helena will be 1-year-old this coming January 30, 2015.  At the very least – they will not see breeding no sooner than 16-months of age.

But I’ve been told that they should put on some really good and proper growth by the time they’re ready for breeding.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!  And at this time – we’re considering breeding them with Seamus – if he’s not sold by then!

Using Rust-O-leum's Restore 10X Deck Paint has been a Sanity Saver!

Using Rust-O-leum’s Restore 10X Deck Paint has been a Sanity Saver!

We tried something new with the floor of our livestock trailer.  Dwayne painted Rust-O-leum’s Restore 10X slip resist deck paint on the floor boards.  This stuff is THICK.  But it has 2 different types of slip resistance in the paint that make it so worth the effort.  Sweeping out was a 2 minute job.  Nothing but dust and dried manure left – which came off with a spray nozzle on a hose – and a house broom.  But he still went back over it with a mild soap cleaner for disinfecting.

It has knocked his time cleaning the trailer down by 2 hours!!

All the way around – this has been a such a wonderful experience.  And we’re looking so forward to enjoying time with these new babies!

Posted in Good News!, Misc., Preparing For New Arrivals, Yearly Accomplishments | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Could I Farm the Whole State?

Could I Farm the Whole State?.

A long posting.  Yes.  Skimming did not work for me.  I had to go back to the top and start over.  And boy… was I so glad I did that.

THIS posting by Chism Heritage Farm deserves national recognition – besides attention.  This has to be the most profound posting I’ve ever read about this country and its behavior – during the course of my entire life.

Kudos to the Author!

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