Sunday, May 3, 2015

How to transport a queen sized bed in a compact hatchback

My sweetheart of a boyfriend decided that I needed to sleep better and with less pain.  We are slowly purchasing items and materials to build us a house in the near future.  This past weekend we went furniture shopping for beds and dining room table and chairs.  Struck out on the dining room furniture, but did manage to get 2 very nice chairs for our eat at counter for the kitchen.  That will be our spot when it is just the two of us.  Then we checked out some of the beds.  We found one for the master bedroom - had to order it but paid for it so we are guaranteed to get one before they close up shop.  Then we found another gel memory foam mattress that can be put on a platform bed or box springs.  It will be perfect for the guest bedroom on the main floor.  Until there is a guest bedroom on the main floor, it is going to live with me so I can sleep better at night. 

Transportation to the Tien Farm:  So we bring the bed and the chairs back to the farm in the back of Larry's farm, no problem.  Chevy Silverado, lots of room for a mattress and 2 dining room chairs.  Then we unload the mattress and put it in my car and take the chairs to the trailer house where other items are being stored.  I know what you are thinking - how did they get a queen sized mattress in a little hatchback car?  Well the proof is in the pictures below.  The secret is, the bed comes in a box all compact and snug.  It won't be "unfolded" and stretched back out to its original size of 60x80 until I take it out of the box which will not happen until Tuesday evening.  Very cool product and I can't wait to see how well I actually sleep on it.

Cowgirl Lessons Begin

Cowgirl lesson #1 - Sorting fall cows

The afternoon started out with the wearing of the cowboy boots and being assigned a sorting stick.  There were rules to sorting that I had to learn quickly in order to pass my sorting lesson.
1.  Pay attention to ear tags.
2.  Don't get run over by circling momma cows.
3.  Assess cows by visual cues.
4.  Keep track of which ear the tag is in.
5.  Use the sorting stick to poke cows in the butt, encourage them to move with a gentle tap on the back side or smack on the head when the cow comes straight at you with that look in her eyes.

First activity was getting the momma cows from the lot up into the sorting pens.  This required all 4 of us.  My job was guarding the section of lot where the windbreak wall was so they did not go hide in the corner of that particular area.  Cows really like to bury their heads in the corner so you cannot see them and they cannot see you.  So here I am with 2 sorting sticks, one in each hand, so I can be a much longer visual cue to the cows, guarding the windbreak area of the lot.  The 2 class teachers were chasing the cows with 4-wheeler and on foot, trying to round them up and head them into the direction desired.  Success was had relatively quickly and easily and all cows cooperated and went into the first sorting pen without incident.

The next activity involved being a little more up close and personal with the cows.  Now was the time to really put my understanding of the rules into play.  No 200 tags, no skinny cows, only white tags.  So here we go, chasing about 15 or so from one sorting pen to another making sure we got some white tagged cows.  Then we opened up the holding pen to get just the white tagged cows in for loading.  Sometimes a cow would escape the holding pen as we were getting another one chased in there and we would have to start all over.  There was one red cow in particular who was very stubborn and was refusing to be sorted into the holding pen.  First group was made up of 8 white tagged cows so Larry's dad could take them to a special pasture as they will be sold later on this summer.  The next batch was 6 red cows to go to a small pasture by themselves. 


Time for a real test.  Activity #3 was moving cows through one area into their assigned pasture.  The next small load of 8 were sorted out and loaded to go to the pasture behind a field.  This was were I got to do some transporting activities.  So Daisy and I headed up to the pasture where this group was going.  Our test was to pick them up and drive them across the first pasture to the gate in the northeast corner and down the alley way to the other smaller pasture.  Daisy and I chased them with the mule and were doing really good all the way to the gate they were supposed to go into.  Then the cows decided that they were going to go left and not right.  So now they have circled around the entire perimeter of the pasture they are not supposed to be in and are quietly munching on grass down by the road they just got transported in the trailer on.  Of course, going down in the mule to get them was not really an option; so I grabbed and extra sorting stick from the back and trotted myself down to where the cows had congregated.  Then giving Daisy the order to head them back up the fence line to the gate and we were off.  Daisy running and barking at them to get them moving.  Me following behind trying to run in cowboy boots, waving my sorting stick and telling them to get moving.  By the time I got to where the mule was parked up on the top of the ridge, they were half way to the gate.  I was able to catch up, well sort of, enough to keep them from rounding the corner and going back down the fence line to the south which would have been just a total back track.  Pretty soon I hear the other 4-wheeler and here comes Larry with a smaller group of cows.  They did the same thing, except they just went straight to the bottom of the draw in the corner without the whole circling of the small pasture option.  So he comes up the hill with them along the fence line and into the alley way they go.  Who knew?  Daisy and I thought we should get an A on that test because even though we had to do some extra work, we accomplished the goal without wrecking the mule, losing a cow or getting kicked!

Daisy and I discussing what worked and what did not, happy we were successful in the end.

Then back to the sorting pen for one last sort.  This was the rest of the white tagged cows and the few gnarly cows that were going to be sold soon.  Now my job was to find the cow with the toenails that are about 6 months over due for a pedicure.  So instead of looking at heads, I was looking at feet.  Of course she was buried clear back in the corner, with at least 4 cows between her and me.  I finally got her identified and slowly was able to get the other cows to part ways and let me get to her.  After that, she went into the holding pen easily and off they went into the trailer.  This made a total of 38 cows gone through and sent to their pastures for the summer.

One last group to move.  This was the biggest group, 33 of them.  This was supposed to be the easy move because we just let them go back into the lower feedlot area, open the gate by the road, let them cross the road and drive them through the corn stalks to the gate in the northwest corner that takes them to "grandfather's" pasture.  This was pretty successful and Daisy had a blast barking her orders to cows and chasing them in the direction of the gate.  When she gets tired she rides in the mule with me.

So ends cowgirl lesson #1.  I think I passed with flying colors.  I was not told I failed so I am going with a passing grade for that one.

Fred and I discussed it and he agreed that I passed and did a wonderful job.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Long winter's nap

I just realized that I have not written down anything all winter long.  Now that I am looking towards the end of the week and the calendar start of Spring I realized I have had a long winter's nap from my blogging.  That does not mean there was nothing to report, just never thought about it.

So let's get up to date. . . .The pumpkin patches did wonderfully and I sold out of pink pumpkins faster than I expected.  I roasted all but 2 chocolate pumpkins; 1 of which is still hanging around since cows don't seem to think that pumpkins are very tasty.  Christmas time was filled with family and friends and a very emotional Christmas eve church service a year after my grandmother passed away.  January and February found me traveling every weekend to the Tien farm so that I could go to beginner's dance class with Larry.  I know how to dance; so it was so he would have a partner to learn to dance with.  That was fun and culminated with a dinner and dance for both the beginner and advance classes on March 14th.  I am so glad I remember how to dance from my teens and 20s and have not forgotten; it is just challenging to not lead and dance backwards even when trying to teach someone the moves.

Some of the winter weekends found me coming home with kindling or small loads of firewood as we started to clean up around the farm.  My car seems to think that maybe it is a small pickup.

March also brought out the sleeping gardener in me.  I have my seeds ordered and have plans already of a big garden at the Tien farm with pumpkin patches in both Rawlins and Phillips counties.  I am also working to partner with the Rawlins County High School FFA chapter and some local 4H members for growing the pink pumpkins.  Trying to figure out how much seed we all need is proving to be the biggest obstacle right now.

Daisy dog is having a great time at the Tien farm.  She helps with the cows when she is allowed.  She is sometimes a bit more zealous than what they need.  She helps me when we are trying to get them in one part of a feed lot so we can open the gate on the other end for the hay bales to be delivered.  She is so fast and she can jump fences if necessary.  She is also very smart and can look at the different fences to figure out if she needs to crawl through or just jump.  She loves to ride in the tractor and on the 4-wheeler.  Of course, riding in the pickup is always fun.  She can even run up the side of the big round bales and likes to sit up there while the hay grinder is on the yard for grinding silage.
Daisy helping me feed fall cows.
Daisy watching over silage grinding

Daisy looking for the cows

Riding along in the pickup

Warm sunshine means naptime!

Larry has chosen a location for him to build his house on.  I am being helpful as we are currently working on pulling up fencing and posts, moving buildings or taking them apart, and have even had a tree person stop by for tree removal.  That is the big project for the rest of the year is getting the spot prepared for digging of a basement and ultimately building a house and garage that he can call his own home.  It will be great when all the family is at the farm because with the extra house there will be extra bathrooms and bedrooms for everyone to have a little room to themselves.  Some of this clearing and cleaning up includes my garden area so hopefully we will have that ready for planting by the 2nd weekend of May.

So as spring has sprung and the trees start to bud out and the flowers start to emerge from their long naps under the dirt, it is time to think about trimming back the pampas grass, spray the weeds which are always the first to wake up, trim back the flower beds and get them all cleared of last years dried mulch and such so they can bring their beauty forth.  So I am going to be getting the smaller garden spots in my care ready for planting of a pink pumpkin patch, get the mowers ready for the mowing season and try to clean up from winter's drying out.  All we need now is a whole lot more moisture than we have in the ground or it could be a growing season cut short by Mother Nature's design.

Calving season has started with Franklin being the first calf born.  He is all black with a white face.  Black calves are not supposed to show up in the Tien herd so we were wondering who had an unauthorized visitor.

I have been lucky enough to be around for a few of the calves arrival to the farm.  Lucy and Linus showed up on a very cold afternoon and had to go to the warming box for the night.  The next morning we took them to mom in the barn to see how everyone was going to get along.  Linus and mom are back out in the pasture and Lucy was adopted to another mom who lost her calf.  They are doing great as well and back out with the cows too.
On March 15 I helped Larry deliver a very large bull calf who is now being called Pig Pen.  He was HUGE - over 100 pounds.  Mom and he got moved to the barn and it took both Larry and I to lift him up into the trailer.  Mom was working on getting him cleaned up and is patiently waiting for him to get with the program.  As I am writing this I got a text letting me know that Pig Pen is now standing up and doing better as the day progresses.  

I promise to do a better job of writing now.  I guess I just lost the creative juices for the winter or they needed a rest or something.  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Daisy the Cattle Dog - checking cows

We must begin with last night and our attempt to have Daisy sleep in the dog house with a cattle panel fence.  The first failed attempt came with the realization that she has some Houdini genes because before Larry got around the barn to the bale, here came Daisy running up to him.  That prompted a fence fixing attempt with a board, some staples and some bricks.  So after securing the cattle panel one more time the second failed attempt was proven.  Larry headed up to finish feeding the cows and sheep their hay for the night.  Pretty soon here came Daisy trotting along like she was not supposed to be in her pen with her dinner.  This time her escape route was not evident.  It was either through the bigger openings or possibly even over the top.  This stunt won her an all expenses paid night in the garage.  So her food and water were retrieved from the dog house and a bed was prepared with the sheets that came with her in my car.  Whether she slept on her "bed" or not, we do not know but she did eat and drink some overnight.  She was ready to go this morning when it was time to go do chores.

This morning Daisy could be seen in the barnyard checking out the spring calves as they ate their breakfast.  She did much better this morning helping Larry with the sheep.  When I walked around the corner to go to the barn in the hopes of washing up some crusty kitten faces, Daisy saw me and came running with her tail wagging and a smile on her face.  I think she likes her new farm and family.

After barnyard chores were done, Daisy and I jumped in the pickup with Larry to go check cows.  This involved 4 sets of cows, sometimes Daisy got to get out of the truck and other times we just counted cows from inside the truck.  On the last group, a Sunday plan changing discovery was made.  First, a whole lot of broken fence.  Secondly, cows in the milo field that were making their way back through the broken fence.  Lastly, a number of missing cows and calves in the pasture with the broken fence.  This meant back to the farm to get fence fixing supplies and the 4-wheeler for cattle checking in the deep ravines.

Daisy and I went with the work truck.  She rides so good.  She likes to curl up on the floor board and has a hard time laying on the seat between 2 people in the truck but she can lay down on the seat if she is encouraged to do so.  Daisy and I headed back in the truck with Larry close behind on the 4-wheeler.  We had the gate opened and were headed to the first spot of broken fence when Larry rounded the corner on the 4-wheeler.  There were about 6 spots to fix, sometimes 2 or 3 rows of barbed wire.  Daisy would get out of the truck and do a perimeter check.  The cows were no where to be found where we were working so she just explored the area around where we were fixing fence.  She was checking both sides of the fence and each time we moved we would call for her with a "Daisy, let's go."  She would jump into the truck and sometimes would let me also sit in the driver's seat.  When the fence was all fixed, Larry took the 4-wheeler down over the hill to count cows and calves, believing they were all back in the pasture.  Daisy and I just sat at the top of the hill and waited.  Daisy curled up on the floor board and was napping when Larry finally came back to report all cows and calves were present and accounted for.  She stayed in her spot on the floor for the ride back to the farm. 

The rest of her day was spent napping in the garage during afternoon nap time and helping with evening chores.  She even will put her front paws up on the wall at the end of the stall and watch Fred take his evening bottle which was just as darling as possible.  So ends Daisy's day.  She is tucked inside the garage, was eating her supper and will sleep on her sheets or in her carrier.

Daisy the Cattle Dog . . . .stories to share

As Daisy was getting familiar with her new farm she was learning about where all the animals were located and checking out animal she had never seen before.  Thus today's story.

The sheep are separated in 2 pens because one group is going to market on Monday.  Daisy and I of course caused a stampede of sorts with the sheep as we walked up to the pens because they are scared of anything new.  It did not take Daisy long to figure out how to run around through an open pen and get to the west side where the sheep were now huddled.  She said something to the sheep, not sure what but they ran back over to the side of the pen where I was standing.  So here comes Daisy, full speed ahead, back around to where I am standing.  So as soon as she got back to me, the sheep took off back to the west side of the pen.  This created a loop where Daisy would run around to send the sheep back to the other end of the pen.  After several trips back and forth I called Daisy and she came running and we let the sheep rest from their laps around the pen.

I knew then that she was going to do just fine and we walked back down to the yard where she then went with Larry to go up to the machine shed and work on getting the combine ready for corn harvest.  She rides very well in the pickup and lays on the floor if no one is sitting in the passenger seat.

Stay tuned, more stories are coming.