The rain has been falling heavy for about 3 days. We are approaching 10 inches of rain and the forecast calls for another day of rain. Wow! It feels like the season changed while we weren't looking. It does that sometimes. When I was a kid I was always ready for the next season, be it a school year or a sports season or a graduation. I knew it was time to say goodbye to one season and hello to the next. I struggle with season changes now. I've become more inflexible. 'I'm not done yet, darn it!'
I sometimes find myself in mourning over a season that's gone. Grief is important, it's part of the process of letting go of a season that's past, so that one can enjoy what's next, but it's still not easy.
A big "season" change we've been mourning is the loss of our daughter-in-law Jo. She left our son, Eric, in the spring. It's been hard. Of course especially hard for Eric. They are getting divorced, papers are signed. We've also lost some friends and connections we had. More grief and growth. One season has changed and I'm not quite sure about the next one yet. I often say I don't know about the future, but I do know who holds it in His hand.
This fall, we had our first logging season with Mark as the logger. We wanted to log more than we did but received our permit later than we had hoped and the rains came. Our contract is good for a year though, so come summer we can be back at it.
We turned this season into a family affair.
Eric was our timber faller. While he's cut a lot of trees for firewood it was his first time to fall for timber production. He did really well. He is in good shape from being very health conscious and everyday he worked incredibly hard at falling trees that could kill him. His job was the most dangerous. We are so thankful that he took his job seriously and stayed safe and strong. He also helped Mark in the job of skidding logs out of the forest using a bull dozer.
Our oldest son, Zac, was the official landing guy who cut off limbs left on the log. He too, is very healthy and fit and was often running in heavy boots from log to log and then to the skidder. When things on the landing slowed down he would skid logs from the forest too.
This family logging event marked another change of seasons in that we no longer think of them as boys, but as very capable men. I guess they graduated in our minds. Finally. Why did it take us so long? In the past the family dynamics could get a bit messy. Tempers have flared. This time everybody was helpful, respectful and worked hard at keeping the peace and getting things done. We are really proud of our sons and look forward to working with them again.
We also got help from a neighbor who owns an 'excabator' as Zac's son calls it.
Zane loved the excavator. We would just park and watch it work. Thanks Steve for your help and for Zane's entertainment.
During the logging season I got to spend a lot of time at our home with my daughter-in-law Teeny and the kiddos. She's a terrific and patient mom as she put up with this spoiling Grammy for 2 weeks as well as being isolated on the ranch.
I'm really liking the Grammy season. I think it might be the best one of all.
I'm heading to the barn in the middle of the night to check on our sow Rosy who was leaking milk at supper time; a sure sign that piglets are soon to be delivered. It's 4:30 am and my third time making the walk in the dark. Although I remembered the flashlight before, I know the way and aim for the light colored earth that signifies the road to the barn. I step smack dab in the middle of a cow pie. Ha. I didn't think about those. Rain begins to fall upon my head. Nice. This is our first rain of fall, a welcome treat. The earth starts to waft it's sweet, musky aroma. It no longer seems like an inconvenience to check on her. It's a blessing.
There are no piglets yet and Rosy is still piling straw on her nest. She is gathering it up from her whole pen, mouthful by mouthful. She periodically pauses to pant. I head back to bed. It looks like piglets won't be here until dawn as a sow will lay down and kind of go into a trance before they start popping out.
At 7 am she has one piglet and she's agitated and thrashing about. So much for the trance. She squishes the piglet for a second and I decide to pick it up and keep it in a box with a heat lamp until she calms down. In the past we've let her farrow on her own, but it hasn't worked out to well. Rosy is notorious for squishing her young, especially in labor. She is a big sow and too fat, which is my fault. I think I've been feeding her too much.
It's 2:39 pm now and she's had nine piglets. It's been a long labor. I smell like blood and pig poop. I've had only protein bars and coffee. We think she's done, as quite a lot of placenta came out in the last 2.5 hours, but we are unsure if all of both placentas came out. Sows can deliver one placenta then have a piglet from the other horn before they deliver the second placenta. Or so I've read. Her contractions were very weak with the placenta delivery and we gave her an injection of oxytocin to make sure she passed it all. Usually it's easy to see both placentas. She's settling down now so we think she is finally done.
We had to work to keep her from squishing the piglets during her labor. We would scoop them up when she got agitated with a contraction and put them in their box. (We see why she squished them during previous deliveries.) When she settled down we'd place them back on the nipples. They all look good, even the ninth one who Mark named Gasper. He came out short on oxygen because his umbilical cord disconnected before he was delivered. He got some shaking, rubbing and even some mouth to mouth resuscitation and after about an hour he finally latched on to a nipple. We didn't think the little bugger was going to make it.
Daisy, our young sow, delivered her first litter of 10 piglets a little over two weeks ago. Textbook perfect delivery and she is a fantastic mom. She has not squished a single piglet. Here she is sleeping in the barn, because it's still sprinkling outside. She and her piglets are free roamers now, no longer in the nursery pen, but they are still staying pretty close to home.
It's common for sows uncrated to accidentally roll over on their teeny, tiny newborns. Crating is a common practice in swine husbandry, but it doesn't allow a sow to make a nest or be able to turn around. We've never used one as it seems unnatural. Daisy is super careful, but unfortunately Rosy isn't, so I'm on barn duty for the rest of the day. As the piglets get stronger it will be safer for them. She hasn't had any noticeable contractions for a while, so I think nine piglets is it. I just hope she still has nine in the morning. I kinda doubt it, but we'll see.
I guess I will go back to reading my book and listening to a light rain fall on this old barn roof. Bliss , albeit tired bliss.
The hills are golden and the days warm. The cows lay in the shade during the heat of day, fat and content. It's a sweet time of the year made especially sweet by a 10 day visit of two of our grandsons.
Grayson is five and Graham three. This was their first visit to the ranch without their parents. I expected home sickness, but there was none. Even though they come from the big city of Las Vegas they took to rural living like a duck to water. Naturally. Perhaps little boys are made for long rural summer days. These two sure are anyways.
We had three rules:
1. No socks, because it takes grandma too long to pick out the stickers.
2. Stay in the yard unless you ask to leave.
3. Tell the truth. If you tell the truth you won't get in trouble.
They did pretty well. It took a little while for number three to sink in, but by the end they were real truth tellers and they learned a lot of life lessons on the ranch too.
Here's a few:
Don't sit down and feed roosters because they might spur you.