Things to Watch Out For on the Farm

The girls and I hopped in the truck this morning for a ride along with the farmer as he fed. I brought my camera along today because sitting in the house on these cold, drab days washing dishes, “catching up” on laundry (2 farm kids and a husband that is splattered with manure daily and I have the reel of “This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends” on replay in my head except it’s with laundry), and feeding hungry kids and a husband all at different times leaves this mama feeling a little uninspired sometimes. So, when I feel uninspired, I go out looking for inspiration. Granted, it’s a little more difficult with winter not being the most beautiful of seasons, but it always there if I’m looking. ūüôā Today, it came in the form of literally “looking.” Or maybe I should say “watching.”

The first stop on our feeding rounds is the heifers and the not-so-favorite bull.
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This is Instinct. He’s two years old. Give him another year and he’ll be a muscled up, mature Jersey. Any bull is unpredictable. We always operate with caution no matter which breed of bull we’re dealing with, but Jerseys have a reputation for being extra ornery. Given half a chance, this dude will clean. your. clock. He’s a beautiful safety hazard. If Instinct were to tell you a little bit about his likes and dislikes, here’s what he would say:

“Hi, my name is Instinct, and I like my grain. Quickly empty it into the feed bunk and we’ll have no trouble here. Disclaimer: I may or may not bristle up, bellow, and paw the ground at you while you empty the feed. Depends on the day. Depends on my mood. Should you find yourself on the other side of this fence with me, my “instinct” to show you who’s boss around here will no doubt manifest itself. Drive that tractor through my field and I will exercise my right to headbutt the hay bales on the front end loader. Try…just try to put one of my lady friends in the squeeze chute and that mess of metal and I will throw down! Oh, and after I’m done with this grain, I will show you how creative I can be with feed bunk placement. I fancy metal art projects. I DON’T fancy people.”

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We caution anyone that comes to the farm: Watch out for Instinct.

Shortly after, we drove through my dad’s pasture to check his beef cows.

Lot’s of new babies are being born and, that being said, you really have to watch out for little black blobs in tall grass.

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We scoured the ground while driving through the field so as not to run over a calf and look what we found!

One must always watch out for hidden calves.

And then one must always watch out for mamas.

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It goes back to that whole “cleaning your clock” idea. Jerseys are so used to being messed with and their natures are usually docile and gentle. Beef cows, on the other hand, can make for some entertaining stories every once in a while. For example, the farmer got chased back into his truck yesterday after trying to find out the gender of a new calf. His truck barely got out unscathed. Dents in farm trucks are a common occurrence. That mama apparently wants her calf’s gender¬†to remain a¬†secret. (SO wish I had been there and seen that!)

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The last thing that we always have to watch out for are these two. They might be little girls, but they are FEARLESS. No concept of danger = turning Daddy into a nervous wreck, sometimes. But, neither one of us would trade raising them in the country on a farm. Teaching them to watch out for things…and for each other…will come.

Milestones

This morning, I dropped my baby off at school for her first day of kindergarten.

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I haven’t cried…yet. Luxe isn’t allowing me a chance to. However, I feel like a piece of my heart broke off and stayed at school with her. I can’t wait to pick her up so I can hear about her day.

That Band-Aid on her arm is from a booster shot she had to get on Monday. We got her a little stuffed Husky dog named Slush for moral support. However, I only thought she had to get one shot. They informed us there were 2 for this visit.

Let the meltdown commence. She was bawling before the first needle prick.

Taegan doesn’t like to show weakness, so we walked back out to the parking lot where my mom waited with Luxe with a red face and wounded pride sporting Band-Aids on both shoulders. My mom hugged Taegan and said, “You’re so brave! Such a big, strong girl!”

Taegan sourly replied, “Actually, I cried…”

We got her buckled in and had to chuckle. It’s rough being 5 and beating yourself up because you failed to meet your own self-imposed definition of brave.

But, she is brave. Brave without even realizing the risks she takes.

For instance, a week ago, the farmer had some dry cows with the milk cows. She knows they’re dry because he writes a big “D” on them with a hot-pink paint stick. We have a dry cow pasture where all the expecting mothers usually reside, but he had been¬†letting these few¬†come in the barn with the milk cows to eat grain, but not get milked.

Well, he walks out the other day to find them corralled off in a separate pin that leads to the dry cow pasture. Taegan, our little wisp of a girl, had sorted the dry cows out of the herd and put them where she thought they ought to go. Dry cows need to be in the dry cow pasture, so, by golly, they’re going in there tonight!

Usually, the farmer gets angry when he finds Taegan in the holding pin with the cows. It’s dangerous. She knows that. As he started to get mad, he realized what she’d done and just had to stare in shock for a minute.

“Daddy, we gotta get these dry cows in with the rest of them.”

“Ummm…yep, we do…,” he said.

Her grandma has given her the moniker “Little Pol” around here. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with the show, “The Incredible Dr. Pol,” but it’s Taegan’s absolute favorite. She DVR’s it and watches the reruns over and over and over. He’s a veterinarian who has a HUGE clientele in Michigan and does a lot of work on–you guessed it–cattle. Taegan has been known to perform procedures on her calves. The other day, one had a “twisted stomach”, so she was caught getting it on it’s back and rolling it over. The calf was perfectly fine, but it took one for the team.

That being said, I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up this morning and, with hardly a thought, she said, “A vet.”

It’s funny because right now, knowing Taegan, I can’t picture her doing anything else. That would be perfect for her.

Today is the first day of her academic career. It’s a milestone that begins a channeling of all this intelligence into more specific things. She’ll continue to learn more about what interests her and what doesn’t. Starting now. Kindergarten, to this mama, is the first step in the journey of growing up. And the farmer and I get to walk that journey for a while with Taegan, our little spirited, capable, determined daughter. We’re so proud and so blessed.

October Update/Ramblings of an Insane Pregnant Woman

1. As much as I hate it, my blog has had to take the backseat lately and my¬†camera has sat in its case far too long. With work, pregnancy, school stuff, and motherhood/wifedom in general, I live in a state of perpetual chaos that I honestly haven’t figured out how to juggle gracefully yet. Add to it the impending extra child and I fake sob maniacally just to get myself to laugh. I think we have officially crossed over into crazy town. A tranquilizer dart may be in order.

A few weeks ago, I had a dream in which my cousin asked me to do her a favor and make the church loaf on Sunday. I walked out of the church house sobbing. Then, I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep. By the way I reacted, you would have thought it was a nightmare.

The next night, I dreamt that Taegan and I were going to miss a flight we had to be on, yet we didn’t have a car to get us to the airport. Have no fear, though, we could run as fast as cars, so here we are on Highway 60 running alongside a semi like it’s no thing. But, in my head, I knew we still weren’t going to make it.

Dreams reflect the subconscious and mine has been totes cray cray lately.

2. The farmer has been milking, feeding, cutting, baling, milking, cutting, baling, feeding into infinity and this week started planting. Mo’ cows, mo’ work. Inevitably, this means that the tasks that require some brawn or carpentry skill around here have had to take the backburner. I’m trying to be patient, but the pregnancy compulsion to nest takes over sometimes because there’s no nursery to “nest.”

3. I don’t have a single item of the baby bedding I designed done. “Yay, look at me! I’m going to learn how to sew, design and make all of my nursery stuff, and achieve world peace!”¬†Why, why, WHY didn’t I just go buy something? I enjoy the time spent with my mom immensely (she’s helping me make it), but somebody honestly should have slapped me when the idea popped into my head. Taegan’s room was done before I hit the third trimester.

4. I still have to paint the dresser, too.

7. Get the crib out of storage and clean it.

6. Get the dog fixed.

7. Do most of my Christmas shopping because everybody knows that’s not going to happen when you have a newborn at the end of November.

10. Decorate for Christmas? I say BAH HUMBUG to that.

9. Prepare for the fall festival at Taegan’s school.

43. Organize the pantry.

2. Go to the doctor every whipstitch.

-5. Maybe buy a diaper or two.

Quince. Get all of Taegan’s outgrown clothes stored away.

Pickle. Get the carseat in my car.

9. Get all my photo albums up to date.

17. Say hi to my husband.

You know… everything and nothing that has anything to do with having a baby MUST be done YESTERDAY!

20. I need a vacation from myself.

2. I’m hungry.

21. The farmer built me some bookshelves for Taegan’s room. I found how to make them on Pinterest and he took it from there. They’re super cute and so easy. Easy to make and easy organizers because there’s no order or organization for the books. You just throw them in there and you’re done. It makes it a lot easier for Taegan to clean up her own messes, too, and I’d be crazy not to LOVE that.

 

 

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22. Taegan’s been cooking, which is one of her favorite things to do.

 

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She’s also been cracking us up with her maturing wit lately. She told us she got put in time-out at preschool¬†last week. When I asked her what she did, her reply was, “That’s… a long story.”

The farmer took over after that while I stepped around the corner and listened trying not to bust out laughing:

Farmer: Well, I guess I’ll just have to ask your teacher.

Taegan: You never pick me up.

Farmer: Oh, that doesn’t matter; I can call anytime.

Taegan: You don’t know her number.

Farmer: Taegan, I have the school number. I can call up there anytime.

Taegan: (Looks skeptical as to the likelihood of that happening)

Farmer: So, tell me, did you like getting put in time-out?

Taegan: Well, I didn’t cry! (4 year olds and sarcasm…gotta love it.)

Farmer: (Getting a little heated) Well, what does make you cry??

Taegan: (Knowing she’s approaching dangerous territory) *crickets due to wheels quickly turning* “…Bleeding.”

With that response, the farmer was having trouble maintaining the firm look on his face and I was shaking. Making our daughter bleed is not part of our disciplinary repertoire in this house and, clearly, she knows that.

There was once a time before I had a child when I worried that being a stay-at-home mom was not going to be mentally challenging/stimulating enough…

There’s another story I wanted to share. It happened right before Taegan started school. The farmer had gotten out of the shower, so he shut our bedroom door, locking it because anyone with little ones knows that anytime a door shuts, it sounds an alarm to them wherever they might be in the house. They come running. Shut doors are NOT ok. I was in the bedroom folding and putting away clothes and she was watching cartoons. No biggie, right? Wrong. Door shuts. The sound of little feet running and she’s standing outside the door obnoxiously knocking, saying, “I want in!” (BAM, BAM, BAM) “Let me in!” (Fingers wiggling under the door) “Why does Mommy get to be in there?” (BAM, BAM, BAM)

Finally, a small, pleading voice says, “I want to join the herd!”

We about died. By that time, the farmer was dressed and opened the door and she skipped in with a successful grin on her face.

So cute I can’t even stand it.

23. I think this picture was taken by the farmer last spring. He put it on Facebook and titled it, “Tools in back pocket=farm girl.”

 

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Nothing has changed. Currently,¬†a trip to Lowes still makes this girl’s day. I call this “Tools and Tutus.”

 

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Do you think Daddy bought these for her?

Um…yeah.

24. Taegan celebrated Grandparents Day at school with her two lovely grandmas.

 

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I absolutely love this picture.

25. Then, about 2 1/2 weeks ago, Taegan came down with the worst cold I think I’ve ever seen. It came with a high fever and lots of sleeping. Neither I nor the farmer came out unscathed. It took the whole family down for a bit, but we’re good now. The only time my daughter isn’t daddy’s girl all the way is when she’s sick. It’s when she’s not feeling well that only Mommy will do. So I rocked and I rocked knowing that the odds were very good I was going to get what she had, but she’s growing up so fast. If Mommy rocking comforts her, then Mommy rocks. Come what may.

I also allow this when she’s sick.

 

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Our bed. To Taegan, there’s nothing better than getting to sleep in our room. The farmer had to sleep in her room. And, trust me, this was no hardship for him. He didn’t want within 10 feet of us. Something about having to run a dairy or some such. No sick pay and no substitutes or what not. The poor guy got it, anyway, and had it the longest. It’s hard to take care of yourself and rest when you’re a farmer.

26. One morning, a few weeks back, I was working on the computer when I heard Taegan open the front door and go, “Whaaaaaat??”

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Taegan was headed outside to the barn, opened the door, and there stands Triumph. Just hangin’ out on the porch. Waiting. I’m pretty sure this calf thinks she is Taegan’s loyal dog.

Well, cattle on the porch was kinda’ the last straw for the farmer, so she joined some friends on a place we rent…where she can be well-socialized…where she can find herself…where she will grow into a balanced, well-rounded cow.

(Read more about Triumph here: http://wp.me/p1lzEK-qS and http://wp.me/p1lzEK-qS

27. I’m 32 weeks pregnant right now. Here’s a selfie from last week.

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This pregnancy has been as different as I’m sure my two daughters’ personalities will be. With Taegan, I gained 45 pounds, had flawless skin, back fat, horrible all day sickness, major swelling, joint pain, and an overall sense of peace and calm. (It’s called naivete.)

With this pregnancy, the sickness was very tolerable for the most part and I’ve been a string bean other than the little basketball that continues to grow. My fingers have swelled slightly and I can’t wear my wedding ring, but I’ve only gained 18 pounds. No back fat, no sciatica (unless I wake up on my back), no joint pain, and a sometimes¬†overwhelming amount of anxiety paired with a roller coaster ride of happy-sad-happy-sad. Some days, the farmer only has to look at me or not look at me and the tears start falling. I don’t know who the woman residing in my body is right now, but I need her to leave. Fast. Oh, and my face possibly looks worse than it did in high school.

Bless my husband’s heart…he never knows who he’s going to walk in the door and find. He’s rolled with it very gracefully.

28. We celebrated my mother-in-law’s birthday over the weekend. She a twin and that’s her on your left.

 

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I should have had them stand this exact same way and do a current version of this picture!

 

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Everyone got together and had a really good time visiting around a fire, roasting marshmallows, and listening to our children play and laugh.

And that’s pretty much what we’ve been up to lately.

Ta-ta for now!

Breauna

Back To School Disclaimers

Today started the first day of Taegan’s last year of preschool. She was so excited!

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This little girl loves school.

Taegan’s learned a lot over the summer being on the farm with us every day. This summer she took much more of an interest in helping her dad. Morning and night, she could be found in the dairy barn milking, shoveling manure, spraying manure off the walkways, bottle feeding calves, doctoring cows/calves for various illnesses, riding around with¬†the farmer¬†feeding,¬†and sitting in a chair watching as crops were cut and baled. She’s been taking it all in.

That being said, here’s my disclaimer to her teachers this year: If the words “We had to breed last night” come out of her mouth, please don’t be alarmed. The farmer is trying to teach her to substitute “breed” with “AI,” but it hasn’t stuck yet.

And if she tells you that she milks 81 goats and that sometimes she has to treat them for “masatitis” with an antibiotic called “Colitis,” just go with it.¬† Once in a while, she has to take a few of¬†those goats to the sale barn for “rotten foot,” rather than foot rot.

She tried to milk her calf, Triumph, by hand a few weeks back and barely got her nose out of the way before Triumph tried to knock her flat. We had to tell her that you can’t milk calves and I think Triumph’s response has detoured any other attempts.

Last year, she told her teachers that “Daddy goes into the bathroom and screams!” They died laughing and then said, “Do tell us more!” This prompted the farmer’s sister to give him a call and say, “Hey, I’m on my way down, but I’ve got to stop at Wal-Mart first. Just thought I’d call and see if you need me to pick up some stool softeners or anything.” Taegan likes to throw him under the bus, most of the time, and all he can do is run his hands over his face and just shake his head.

We have no idea where that came from.

And I didn’t come out unscathed last year, either. She told her teachers that I fed her dog poop. Her teacher said, “I am positive your mommy doesn’t feed you dog poop.” Taegan’s response: “Well, it tastes like it.”

Thanks, love. You’re a real peach.

Honestly, we have no earthly idea what will come out of this child’s mouth from one minute to the next, so if you seek clarification about something, PLEASE ask. Our reputations might depend on it.

Yesterday, we just enjoyed our last day of summer vacation on the farm with the normal day-to-day stuff. Taegan helped the farmer milk that morning and then we both rode around with him while he fed. After that, we worked out in the yard and did other things that needed doing.

The day always goes by fast and then it’s time to milk again.

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Your inspirational quote for this fine Wednesday is: When life gives you manure, you shovel it.

You’re welcome.

And, obviously, Taegan does this with a smile on her face¬†because, goodness knows, there’s plenty of manure.

Let me just say that this¬† qualifies as “clean” compared to what she will look like when milking is done.

This is more like it after.

I see this coming across the yard at me and I want to go lock myself in a closet and suck my thumb.

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She likes to greet the girls as they file into the holding pen.

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And work out a little, too.

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Our cattle honestly don’t know what to think of this little creature.

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She doesn’t need a horse to be a cowgirl.

Later that evening, I walked outside to find her freeing all the bottle calves.

It just might get a little boring around here during the day.

 

Breauna

June-July: A List

Whew! This summer has been crazier than any other summer I think I’ve experienced. And by crazier, I mean BUSY. And by busy I mean, my poor little blog takes the back burner more than I would like.

Today, I’m going to attempt to squeeze June-July into one post.

1. I’ve been working 2 days a week at the law firm I work for in the city. I love the job, but I do not love the 2.5-3 hours I spend on the road getting there and back. And see, my right foot is kind of on the heavy side and I’m all about efficiency,¬†so I’m waiting for the day when I become both an employee and a client.

2. After returning from Orange Beach, we had the Tri-County Fair to go to. This is Taegan leading her calf, Triumph, into the barn.

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She’s looking less and less like a toddler every day, which means I catch myself just staring at her while wave after nostalgic wave rolls through me¬†all the while trying to picture who she’ll be when she grows up…

WAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!

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She had a great time and made new friends. Some human, some bovine.

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Naturally, she and Triumph won first place.

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(Little secret: It helps when you have absolutely no competition. Zero.)

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A blue ribbon, a new lead rope, and a good friend.

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Because of Triumph’s star status and her new position as playmate, she gets the privilege of just running free in our yard. I look out the window and there’s Triumph just walking around, picking grass, looking in windows, chasing Banjo, or being led around by Taegan. (She still gets “showed” on a daily basis). Basically, Triumph is now a pet.

She sometimes gets tired of being led around and runs into the brush and weeds. This occurred a few weeks back. Never fear, though. I’m definitely not raising a dummy.

Who does one call when a cow won’t come out of the brush and weeds?

That’s right…Banjo.

I stepped out on the deck and witnessed this: Triumph had made it impossible for Taegan to get to her, so I heard Taegan yell, “Banjo!”

Dun-Dun-DAAAHHH! He really does need a cape.

He runs to her and looks at her like, “What ya want me to do?” She says, “Go get it!” Trust me, you don’t have to tell him twice. He lives for this. He bounds off barking and carrying on, gets behind the calf, and drives her straight to Taegan.

I was totally enthralled. The intelligence of both my daughter and her dog…I couldn’t do anything but laugh and then go call her dad.

Triumph doesn’t run into the brush anymore. And Taegan really doesn’t need a lead strap for Triumph to follow her around now. She just does it.

And Banjo gets to lay in the shade and enjoy some reprieve.

For now.

(Note about Banjo: I mentioned that we were sending him to get trained a few posts back. Weeeeellll, it didn’t go so well. See, we wanted him to learn how to herd. Like, go get the cows and bring them all to the barn for us. Long story short, he got kicked out of herding school. You should have witnessed my husband. The disappointment. The anguish. The embarrassment. Blue Heelers are what the trainer called “drivers.” Border Collie’s are “herders.”She told us up-front that she didn’t know if he would do it, but she’d give it a try. Yeah…no. But you know what? He’s still very useful around here. As a playmate, as entertainment, as a guard dog, and as a helper. Taegan obviously knows what he’s good at and when the farmer is out rounding up the girls to go the barn and he has one that just doesn’t care about going, all he has to say is, “Where’s Banjo?” and she’ll start moving right along. She doesn’t think we really need to go to extremes, now, do we? They’d rather him not be around.)

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Getting a picture of all of our kids even looking at the camera is impossible, but they all really enjoy this time of year. It’s a lot of work getting these calves ready and they (and their parents) put a lot of time into preparing. My sister-in-law, Tanna, was the one that really worked hard with Taegan and her kids and we’re glad because Taegan probably wouldn’t show at all if it wasn’t for her. Thank you, Tanna!

There’s a lot more over the last couple of months to tell you about, but I’ve got to take Taegan to swim lessons, so I’ll just have to write more throughout the following days. Stay tuned.

 

To be continued…

 

Breauna