Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 17

About a cow:

It was just about a year ago that we found her.  Her legs sticking almost straight into the air.  Her belly a bit bloated looking she lay alongside our driveway, not even a hundred yards from our home.  She wasn't there the night before.  We saw a bit of skid marks that indicated the direction she slid down the hill.  The queen, Ms. Buttermilk, was dead.

I didn't post about it then, because it seemed a bit too dreary.  Since then, and especially because of the events that followed, I've been waiting for the right time.  The anniversary of her death seemed appropriate.

Here she was back in the day.

I have a new project now.  Take a photo of every cow.  Try to make them look good.  I went through hundreds, maybe even a thousand photos before I just gave up and put up this shot of Ms. B.  She was a homely cow.  I had kind of forgotten.  She was more golden colored than this photo reveals and she had a white face and a big splash of white on her belly and up one side.  For some reason it reminded me of a big, thick splash of buttermilk.  Hence her name.

 She was old when we took over the  herd and we were warned sternly by Jerry that she would protect her calf, so under no circumstances should we work with her calf unless Ms. B. was in another pen. She had pinned down a few people in her day.  She was queen of the main house herd  and she kept all the other herds out of her domain.  She only would tolerate a bull when she was cycling or one of her 'ladies in waiting' were cycling.  After the feat was accomplished, they were kicked out.  I kid not.  I will say this herd never lost a calf until this year when she was gone.  She took her job as herd leader very seriously. 

We have no idea how old she actually was when she died.  Old.  Very old. she was always fat and raised up a nice big calf.   Until her last one.  It wasn't growing well and looked a lot like a lamb.  We called her lambkin and she was our first sign that it was time to put the veritable old cow,  Ms. Buttermilk, on our cull list.  Perhaps she got wind of it and died just to spite us.  Or maybe her heart couldn't take the news.  Either way I'm glad she died on the place.  It seemed right.  She died at home.

Eric buried her up the hill in a flat spot.  For weeks we would find her calf sleeping on top of it and her herd gathered near.  They really did not know what to do without her.  When something would startle them they would run hither and yon and all end up back on her grave.  For real.  It was unnerving. A bit spooky.  Cows are very social creatures and we think they have a strong matriarchal structure and strong family ties. 

Eventually,  Lakia took over.  Another old cow that has been around for a really long time.  She too is a bit homely and coming to the end of her term.

Times have changed under Lakia's rule.  The bulls are allowed to hang out with them for as long as they like and our front herd is allowed on the main house herd's grazing area.  Good changes.  But we still miss the old iron lady, Ms. Buttermilk.  Long did she reign.   And, if a measure of one's life might be the effect you have on another's, even of a different species,  then she had a good life... 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 16

Have you seen Jesus? 

 I have.  He stood in an infinity of rolling green hills.  The sky above blue was dotted with white puffy clouds.  His clothes glowed like light.  I approached him from a distance and I could see him standing beside something about shoulder height.  When I got closer I saw it was a free standing, cheval style mirror with an ornately carved wooden frame.  I saw words written on the mirror.  I don't quite remember the specific words now, but I knew them well then.   Unkind words like: selfish, mean, crazy, worthless.  Then the looking glass started cracking and the pieces fell to the ground.  Jesus smiled at me and beckoned me to look again.  A new mirror shined in the light and on it were these words,  "You are my treasure."  

I've never been the same.  

Happy Easter!  He is Risen.... He is risen indeed. 

We are actually in Las Vegas celebrating our daughter's birthday and Easter.  They are on the same day this year.  All is well at the ranch, as it is in the capable hands of Eric and Johanna.

We hope you have a great Easter Sunday celebrating LIFE.  We are.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Week 15

Wow.  15th week of the year. Already!

Mark got some fishing in at Shelter Cove this week. 

The boat Eric got with his inheritance from my parents is a real gem.  Mark really enjoyed going out with them, even if he did get seasick.   I stayed home.

Captain Johanna

3 foot Salmon

Eric filleting the fish

I  got to enjoy a bit of my inheritance this week too as they began putting in the new windows for our home.  Our view, it's back.
No more water condensation between the window panes.  We also purchased more of the picture windows with sliders, so in the summer evenings we can get a good breeze.  I am overjoyed.  The windows are beautiful and it is kind of nice hiring to get them installed too.  Made life a lot easier for Mark  as the whole south side of our house is high off the ground.  We usually do repairs ourselves, but this time we splurged.

We are now down to 3 pigs.  The big one went to the meat processing facility on Friday.  Being as this was our first time finishing a hog and that it had been a long time ago when Mark was involved in swine, we were having a hard time guessing his weight.  This particular pig did not gentle, so we couldn't take the appropriate girth and length measurements to calculate weight.  Ideally we wanted him between 220 and 250 pounds.  Mark guessed he was 235, I guessed 205.  Mark guessed the exact weight!  I guess he still has a good eye, or he just got lucky, but either way it turned out just right.  We are excited to get some meat back, so we can see if there is really a significant difference in taste with heritage hogs.  We will keep you posted.

Lots of wild flowers blooming now and these are just ones at or house's elevation or higher.  I didn't make it down the hill this week.  I bet I would find a lot more down slope. 


California Poppy

Blue Eyed Grass

Huckleberry blooms

English Daisies

Shooting Star

Filaree and Wild Iris

Blooming horses too!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Week 14

This little piggie went to market.
This little piggie stayed  home.
This little piggie had roast beef.
This little piggie had none.
And this little piggie cried wee, wee, wee all the way home.

My mom loved to chant this rhyme while tweaking little babies toes and now I find myself doing the same.  I also thought of it when I perused this week's 102 photos.  Quite a few of the shots are of our piggies.

They are doing well and eating a lot.  So much in fact that we bought a ton of organic pig grower this week. 

We discovered our skid steer couldn't lift high enough to hang the bag the way it was designed to be used, so we improvised and cut a hole in the pallet so that the finely milled grains could flow. 

We are still amazed at how fast these pigs are growing.  Two of them have gentled real well and luckily one is Rosie, the gilt we are keeping.

They love wandering around the place, but Shadow isn't too sure they should be. "Are you sure this is okay, mom?" her eyes seem to ask.

Actually, she is getting along really well with them now and they seem to not mind her sudden bursts of energy, as they have the same bursts.  At least the 3 smaller ones do.  While the big one lays around more, the little ones are still my 'piggly wigglys'.  It's pretty silly, but that's what I call them and they follow.  Of course, sometimes they follow the donkeys or the cows or even Shadow.  They seem to lack a leader. 

But they seem to not mind and are doing quite well, thank you very much. As are the cows.  Laying down to chew their cuds early in the day.  The grass is getting better. 

I had a few days this week where I was the little piggie when some business conversations  went a little sideways.  Where I was the customer and treated very, very poorly.  But then all I had to do is look outside and see this and the world was made right again.

 I am so thankful for the beauty in creation and the Creator who made it.
And I'm always excited about what's around the next bend in the road.