Sunday, May 31, 2015

Gardens are planted!!!!

Yes folks you have read that correctly - multiple gardens are planted this year.  There are 2 plots at my house, 1 down at Rogers Farm and a HUGE garden at what is lovingly called the East Farm in Phillips County.

I suppose you could count one more garden if you consider a container outside the Farm Bureau Financial Services office a garden because in there is a single pink pumpkin plant that has emerged after 1 single seed was planted there at the end of April just for fun.
May 4, 2015

Friends arrived to encourage happy growing on May 5, 2015

After a rough couple of nights of freezing temps the group is still alive and the FBFS pink pumpkin plant is growing by leaves and bounds.
So what do I have planted in all these locations you may wonder?  Are you wondering that?  At my house there are 2 plots; the east garden plot houses 18 pink pumpkin seeds and approximately 15 gadzukes zucchini seeds.  The west garden plot has approximately 18 Oriental cucumbers, 20 saffron yellow summer squash and another 18 pink pumpkins.

Down at Rogers Farm is a little monster patch of approximately 10 pink pumpkins.  Considering how they took over last year, I think that will be plenty.  They are designated to grow for fundraising for the Atwood FFA this year and hopefully will be just as fruitful as last year's group.  There was even a volunteer pumpkin plant come up so it will be fun to see what kind it decides to become.

Obviously from the picture taken the morning of June 2 shows that I need to do some weeding and get this patch mulched.  So that is now on the schedule for this week.

The HUGE garden at what is lovingly called the East Farm in Phillips County is where I have veggies in the main garden to include pickling cucumbers, Oriental cucumbers, gadzukes, saffron squash, regular zucchini, green beans and 12 tomato plants.  

Picture 1 - oriental cucumbers

Picture 2 - 12 tomato plants

Picture 3  -pumpkins in the garden.  Hard to tell which row this is.  There are blue skinned, chocolate skinned, bat wings, baby boos, lumina ghosts, sugar pies, and warted pumpkins this year that will be for sale.

Picture 4 - Green beans galore!

There are 2 dedicated pumpkin patches and where "Nancy's Pumpkin Patch" is officially located this year.  If you want special or unique pumpkins, that is where you want to go.  There are 100 pink pumpkin seeds planted in the dedicated pink pumpkin patch.  Then the garden plot houses another 7 pumpkin varieties of approximately 10-20 seeds each.  That means there are over 200 pumpkin seeds planted in my gardens this year.  That should be plenty to sell to raise money for breast cancer research and to have to decorate your porch or table during the Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays.  

Garden management is always hanging around - today's group is fluffy boy, little books, and orange boy.  They made sure we stayed on task of getting soaker hoses laid out and weeds hoed.

 Nancy's pink pumpkin patch.  89% up at this point.  Look at how lovely those little plants look.  

Friday, May 29, 2015

Cowgirl lessons continue, day 2 - the squeeze chute

Who knew what all that metal contraption could do?  Now those people who read this who have been around squeeze chutes all their lives probably know more about them than I was shown this day but these are my lessons and I still don't know how to operate all the levers and releases.  To make things easier, we worked calves with this squeeze chute. 

Obviously when you are working calves it is hard to get pictures because someone would have to be the designated photographer, but working calves is the priority so unfortunately you get to see me with the staged pictures and no calf in the chute. 

First there was the working of the momma cows.  They each got a shot and dowsed with fly deterrent goop. This was accomplished by corralling about  10 at a time in a very small area.  Larry would stand up on the fence rail and reach across with the syringe giving each a shot in the butt and then hand off the syringe for the fly goop sprayer.  This was done with relative ease as Larry's dad was also on the gate side of the area facilitating the gathering of each small group of momma cows.  The calves were already separated and not happy to be away from their mommas.  Once this was done it was time to turn our attention the calves. 

Now one thing to realize is that both the calves and myself had never experienced this before so we both were very confused and a little unsure about this big metal contraption.  Timing is huge I found out because if you were not ready with the right lever to catch the calf on its way through the chute it would shoot right out the other side and you would have to start all over.  So I helped to coax the little ones into the chute and did not partake of any of the levers that captured its head on the other side.  After everything was done, shots, branding, ear tags if necessary I let the little one out the head captured end.  Most of the time the calf and I were not coordinated and it took several tries to get the gate to open and the calf to push or pull at the right time with its head so the body could escape.

As we worked through each calf I was surprised to find out that the chute actually would rotate so that the calf could be laid on its side for shots and branding to be done with a lot more ease and safety for all concerned, humans and calf alike.  

Let's see if I can remember the exact process:
1.  Sort a single calf from the group into the small holding area to the left side of the picture.
2.  Identify gender for immunization set.
3.  If identified as a bull calf, then the extra step of preparing the rubber band for placement and steer making.
4.  Immunization loaded in syringe and given to shot administrator (Larry).
5.  Tilt calf on side for branding and band placement as gender dictates.
6.  Lock chute upright and release.

I would not say that I passed this part of my lessons with flying colors.  I am still not sure how to work all those levers or what each of them do and the minute you add a calf in there that weighs a few hundred pounds adds a new level of difficulty to the whole scenario.  I think this is a lesson that is going to take a while to learn.  It harkens back to the old adage of practice makes perfect.  Larry has had years and years of practice.  I will likely never get to that level but I still can be helpful and that is all I strive to be!

After all the mommas and calves were immunized, gooped, branded and ready for the summer pasture we loaded them up into the trailers and headed west to the summer pasture; 2 trailers, mommas in one and calves in the other.

The cows and calves are all out to the summer pastures now so the cowgirl lessons have come to a summer break of sorts.  I am sure in the fall when my brain is geared to pumpkins there will be a refresher course offered and I will hopefully get to be involved in some of that activity.

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.