Sunday, March 30, 2014

Week 13

This week we received 6.5 inches of rain at the main house and the cabin got a bit over 9 inches.  The cabin is further back in the drainage and it rains more back there.  Always.
It was a peaceful week.  Mark spent time in the shop cleaning and organizing.  I spent time reading.  I realize my computer and I have a lot in common.  Somedays we are very quick and active and other days slower than molasses.  This week was slower than molasses.
Except for our daily 3 mile training hikes for our upcoming hike in the desert.  Today we did a 9 mile loop and we are both surprised at how tired and sore we are.  We've got to really pick up our training as some days in the desert we will need to hike 20 miles in one day due to the lack of water.
Water here is bubbling up right in the middle of the road,
or out of the hillside.
Seasonal ponds are full,
and itty bitty cricks are flowing well.

Water is life.
Music from what we call our Redwood Creek.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Week 12

Here I sit using index finger to type out this week's post.  My old computer is just about done.  Today it is so slow that it took 30 minutes to load the photos I took this past week.  When I tried to go online it was a five minute wait.  I just don't have the patience for that today, so I ran outside in the fading light and snapped one photo with my phone.  

I realize this week the computer isn't the only thing that has failed.  

Body Failures:

Mark broke a tooth.  Then ran into trouble when It broke again while the dentist was extracting it.  Three hours later he left with three stitches and a very sore jaw and now five days later pain is intensifying.

I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and 4 pounds heavier.   Don't even tell me it's just PMS.  Period! I've had monthly water retention before, but this is plain weird and I look weird too.   

Yesterday we had our first grand parent scare.  Little Graham had a febrile seizure.  Our daughter had them too, so we knew it probably wasn't anything, but we still waited on pins and needles till the "alls clear" text came in.

Animal Systems Failures:

Our recently built chicken run was found faulty when a few hens learned to spread their wings and fly. We nipped that in the bud by snipping off their flight feathers.

Our new pigs aren't gentling as fast as I thought they would and consequently are still penned up.  Then they got itchy.  A quick look online and I decided they needed a mud wallow, so we increased their pen to include outside space and made them content.  Apparently they use mud to suffocate any small critters that might decide to set up house on them. 

Things that worked out well: 

We are pleased though at how fast these pigs are growing, especially Rosy.   A neighbor gave us this humongous round pig feeder with a dozen little doors for the pigs to eat out of.  Having a constant supply of food and no competition seems to have increased their growth rate. 

Speaking of great neighbors.  Another neighbor and friend hired Mark to help part-time with his earth moving construction business.  Mark is having a ball.  Great camaraderie and he gets to drive equipment without having to pay the fuel bill.  He says he feels like he did when he was a kid on the farm working for his dad; lots of fun and not the worry of your own business.  

Hopefully, I'll have time to get a new computer this week.  But, just in case, I'll carry my phone to get some pics  of the place. Besides the few minor problems of the week, things  are looking good.  

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Week 11

 This week we announced to the cows that we were offering a free clinic for all their health care needs.

We also told them that the first to arrive got a free meal and complimentary  ear rings.  They came running.  It was almost like a Black Friday, and I did see a few of the ladies get shoved out of the way.  For shame.

 Once in the waiting room/corrals munching on hay, we set up the needed supplies.  Patient chart, check.

 Complimentary ear rings, check.  Copper and Selenium pills, check.

Vaccinations on ice, check.  Fresh needles, check.  

Here is one of the gals getting her minerals.  The doctor has a special way of asking nicely for them to open their mouth. Most of them oblige.  He told me his secret. He first touches them on the face and then slumps his shoulders to put them at ease.  He then inserts his finger in the opening between their teeth on the side of their mouth and quickly inserts the device when their  mouths open.   One quick squeeze and the big pills slide down their throats.  The boluses get done first, because a few of the gals try to spit them out.  If they spit them out, the doctor puts them back in.  They need their vitamins, don't ya know.

Here he is giving a calf it's first vaccinations and a tetanus because the calf is a bull who will soon be a steer. 

Instead of cutting the testicles out, the little bull is banded with a special rubber band.  This cuts the circulation off to the testicles and the whole thing eventually just dries up and falls off.

Lastly the cows and this year's calves get a pour on wormer.  We don't use insecticides on the long yearlings that will be slaughtered this summer.  
 We also put on complimentary earrings, but in all the hoopla I forgot to get a picture

We did have medical assistants, but they were a bit camera shy.    

 Later, the assistants, had us to their cabin for a delicious tri-tip barbecue.   Here is Jo and her bummer lamb.  He is doing really well.

They also treated us to some entertainment and undressed quite a few sheep.  

Doesn't she look nice, she's all cleaned up and doesn't know where to go.  Well, her kids were calling so she decided to forgo the outing and hurried back into her home.  

If she had come to our free clinic she could have gotten  complimentary earrings to go with her new outfit.

(We have two free clinics on two different days.  One in the front of the ranch and one on the backside.  It saves the ladies a long walk and makes it easier on the medical personnel).

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Week 10

 Follow along on a busy week.  Whew.  I realize now that there is a reason I'm a bit edgy and it has nothing to do with the 'springing' forward, but all to do with a lot happening. 

 The main house cattle came home and wanted hay,  before meandering away. We figured if they were hungry the others might be as well, so we drove around the ranch and  fed hay  two times this week. 

 The grass and clover are growing, but they are still real short.  The Kubota, our do it all little RTV, started smoking and Mark suspected it had a cracked head and so we hauled it down to a Kubota dealership in the neighboring county to do a compression check.  Unfortunately, Mark was right.  Boohoo!

  Neat thing was that there was a gathering of small farmers taking place nearby at the Ridgewood Ranch.  The conference was a learning experience and it was also really cool for me to be where Seabiscuit, the little racehorse with a big heart, lived.  There was lots of photos and memorabilia in the main dining room of the facility. A fun, fun day.

Then we had guests.  Some friends from down south.  It was fun catching up on old times and showing them around the ranch a bit and sharing rustic, worn out barn wood.  I think they may have been on Pinterest a little too much!

We did kind of make a error in judgement while they were here and the Landcruiser kind of gave us an exciting ride part way down to the falls.   The next day, I'll have you know Stacy and Dave, Mark drove it right up the hill.  Of course, he did have to put chains on it.  LOL.  I have no idea what we were thinking trying to drive down there this time of year.   Crazy!

 So we walked.  This is the way the falls looked this week.

 This is them early summer.  

 The Indian Warrior is blooming.

 So are the Calypso Orchids.  I can't help buy think of fairies when I view this tiny 4 inch beauty, especially because we just started a  fantasy by George MacDonald that has lots of fairies in it.  "Phantastes", it is entitled.  Wonderful read so far.

 Jo and Eric went on a fishing trip, so we were in charge of their 'kids' too.  Quite a lively bunch. 

 This little guy is called a bummer lamb because his mama decided three was one too many.  She takes care of him in all other ways, she just won't let him nurse.  He is sure a cutie and we enjoyed feeding him especially.

 Another sign of spring is this antler shed.  We often find them laying around this time of year.  As the bucks new horns grow in the old ones fall off.

 We built a simple new run for the ladies.  It is about 150 feet long and 10 or so feet wide.  They love it and they are safer.  In the past I just let them free range around the house during the day, but they kept going further and further and then they started eating my broccolli, so they were really getting into some hot water there. 

 Last, but not least, we got some piggies.  Three Red Wattles and one Large Black.  Heritage Breeds.   I christened this one Rosy.  She is super sweet and the only gilt (female) we've purchased so far.  The other 3 are all castrated males called barrows.  (New words for me not for Mark!)

Red Wattles have been chosen as tastiest in some blind taste tests and their demeanor is gentle.  We thought about getting Tamworths, but they aren't supposed to be as easy going as the Red Wattles.  I like easy going.  These pigs are our a new little enterprise on the ranch.   Until we get them used to us we are keeping them in the barn.  I'm hopeful that within a week or two, they will follow us and come when called and then we can let them out. 

 It was a local man who had them, but due to life circumstances, he couldn't keep them anymore.  They all were bred in the area and have been fed Nilsen's organic pig  feed.  We will keep them on it and let them forage a bit.  They seem pretty darn content so far.  We will keep you posted.  Nighty Night. 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Week 9

 It is beginning to rain again after a few day of an on and off spigot.  The grass is growing, the clover unfolds.  Things are looking good.

 I've spent more of the week in front of my computer than I like.  Still, you can't miss seeing the changes.   We are tentatively exploring the idea of trying  to sell more of our beef locally.  Another store has asked to carry our beef, and our neighbor with a co-operative buyers group is offering our meat as well.  Sooo,  we've been attempting to get a bit more professional by creating a  label to be placed on the meat packages.  It is more complicated than one would think because our government is involved.    A big thanks goes out  to Liz Klopper at Bear River Valley Beef, who basically sent me an email with most of the info we needed.     You're great and so is your beef.  Also,  a big thank you to our cousins at American Alps Ranch in the Seattle area.  They let me plagiarize from their website for our pages listed above and answered my endless stream of questions.    

early morning

 Mark spent time in our shop, changing oil and making minor repairs.  He also went to town and picked up the needed supplies to vaccinate and tag the cattle.  Big bill that one was. But BIG kudos to our local provider of cattle supplies, R and S in Ferndale.   Expertise and "you're part of the family service."

We are part of the national premise ID program, so each calf gets an eartag that  states where they were born and when.

premise ID's
 Then we also pierce their other ear with  tag that lets us know which calf came from which cow.

boy and girl tags (LOL)
 Then each calf gets two vaccinations and the males get a tetanus shot.  Each cow gets two different vaccinations.
vaccines stored in refrigerator
 They all get copper and selenium boluses, two minerals that are needed here.  All the bull calves get banded, so bands have to get purchased yearly.  You don't want to use old bands.

small and large bands
 All in all it is a pretty big pile of stuff to buy. 

All but the vaccines get stored in small tool boxes
  Now, we will just wait for the next sunny spell and call the cows in.  We tell them it is their spa day.  I'm not sure they believe us, but they do like the hand outs of  alfalfa hay they get when they show up.  Modern day marketing used on the cows. 

 Saturday morning was gorgeous, so we dashed outside and finished up the pruning in our yard.  Grapes, roses and fruit trees are finally done and their clippings piled. 

 We also got in some hiking on the ranch this week. This morning's hike, before church,  had us doing a rescue.  About a hundred 'souls' were saved.  A hundred worms, that is.  Our driveway was covered with worms going downhill, many slithering into the rivulet of water running alongside. It looked like a mass suicide.  We scooped them up and put them in our new raised garden bed.  Score.

We are trying to hike daily to prepare for our first desert backpacking trip.  We've never hiked in the desert before and enter this new wilderness with wariness and excitement.  The excitement will probably wear off very quickly under what can be a very harsh environment.  We might not last long.  NO,   not die, but bail out on the hike and go back to our car.  :-)

Mark's dad called this week and said he was proud of us for daring to go and do while we can.  He is feeling the weight of pneumonia and age and encouraged us to keep living our dreams.  I often feel a bit guilty and sad being away from the ranch, but I also know that our health and circumstances could turn on a dime and we would be unable to go backpacking or explore a tropical isle.   We are so thankful that our youngest son, Eric, and his wife Johanna live on the property with us and make it possible for us to do other things.  My dad's life too is a lesson for me. He always said that when he retired he was really looking forward to spending more time hunting and fishing as they were his passions.  Unfortunately, he acquired a rare form of MS and was unable to participate in these outdoor pursuits.

I pondered preparation a bit this week; seeing as we were getting prepared to vaccinate and I was preparing our blog and preparing labels and we began preparing for another hike and  we prepared  the fruit trees for fall's harvest and we've been preparing to raise some heritage hogs.  Whew, that's a lot of preparation.  

We believe preparation is important.  Never a guarantee for success,  but it sure does help.  

Jack Youngblood said: "Good luck is a residue of preparation"

George MacDonald said: "The best preparation for the future is the present well seen to and the last duty done."

Confucius said: "Success depends upon previous preparation and without such preparation there is sure to be failure."

To be honest though, I think my favorite quote this week was by William Feather, a successful publisher and author who lived from 1889 to 1981:  "Some people are making such thorough preparation for rainy days that they aren't  enjoying today's sunshine." 

Enjoy your sunshine.