September 8, 2013

Online Pedigree Picture Day

It was Picture Day today.  I've sent the photos in.  But this is Sunday.  I expect it will be a couple days before the new photos are posted.  But you can still get to their Pedigree by clicking on their name where I've underlined!

New guidelines have been set up for Online Pedigree photos with the ADCA.  So we did our most Amateur-Plagued Best!

‘Cuz Amateur is all we got!  And we’ll count it as a blessing and take it!

Artist is now 19 months old.  I have trouble with that.  I see him now and he’s changed so much since he was a baby.  It seems like he’s been here forever.  So my own mind wants to assume he’s an old man.

Don’t even bother.  Trust me.  I have no idea.  But then – the more I think about it…

Maybe it has something to do with spending every day going gaga over him every time I see him.  I’m just so proud of Artist!  He won’t even be full-grown until he turns 3 years old.  And I just know he’s gonna be so gorgeous that I can’t stand it!

He melts for me and Dwayne.  He’s like… the best child we’ve ever had.  He knows who butters his bread!  And he makes sure we know he appreciates that!

Seriously.  He is the most well-behaved Bull we will probably ever have.  There is such a strong level of respect and understanding between Artist and the two of us.

I was downright stunned yesterday.  We’ve had to settle for having April come into the barn alley to eat.  It just keeps the peace for everyone.  Cora just can’t find a happy medium with her issues.  Artist has no problem with what’s working.

In fact – April wouldn’t come to me for yesterday evening’s feeding.  She was feeling intimidated by Cora standing in the pathway.  Artist – literally – goosed April in the butt and shoved her toward me!

I fell out!  He headed over to his feed bunker as soon as April made her way to me.

Two things I always do out of pure habit during feedings.  I give our animals a good looking over.  And I check their halters.

Yesterday was a big day for April.  She got moved into a Medium-size Dexter Halter.  We made out like it was ‘ Girl Bling ‘ and April just went gaga over all the excitement!  She kept wanting to lick the halter while I was trying to get it on and adjusted.

And Artist noticed her new pretty as soon as she walked out into the paddock.  He liked it!  He walked right up to her new halter and began rubbing on it – giving her kisses.  It was soooo cute!

Actually - it was just weird.  I don’t expect seeing things like that going on with cows.  For now – I keep tucking these little scenarios in my mental file cabinet.  Just in case.  I mean – there’s awesomely well-behaved.  And then there’s just – weird.  I just feel like I really need to keep my eyes on Mister Artist.  Just sayin’.

She's talking to Dwayne.  They gossip all the time.

For whatever reason – Cora has no problem with any of it.  She just keeps her head to the grind – wherever the tall grass grows!

Until you bring the hay out – anyway.  And then she works really hard trying to convince you that she wants to be your BFF – long enough to ‘ help you ‘ with that hay you’re carrying.

Once she gets her way with the hay – she’s forgotten you ever existed.

But we all know what happens with those girls.  Right?!

That’s okay.  I got a cellphone – a Vet – and we can get our hands on a Dart Gun – anytime we need to do some serious dealings with Miss Cora.


September 2, 2013

So Long, August!!

The white one is a commercial large white egg.

This was NOT expected until November!  I went out to collect a couple of Escapees this morning.  Got everyone settled back into the yard and calm.  I Opened the big door to put away a small rake.  Found a hen sitting on the perch inside the coop looking into one of the nesting boxes.  I began snooping and found the eggs!

I hope I have enough egg cartons.

This past week has been a trip to Hell.  By Friday night - Dwayne ended up leaving work in the middle of the night to drive all the way home and take me to ER in Lenoir City.

By then I could only sit on the edge of the bed with my legs dangling enough to take pressure off my back.  And I had to sit on a heating pad.  I was submitting to pain pills and stool softeners – which thoroughly hacked me off.  Both of us had missed 2 nights of sleep before he’d gone back to work.  And I just couldn’t take it anymore.

They took 4 vials of blood and pushed Saline tubes – before loading me with a series of pain meds and muscle relaxers powerful enough to take me an inch away from being completely sedated – just to take x-rays.

The diagnosis was severe inflammation of my spine and hips.  They don’t know why it happens.  But they’ve started seeing a lot of it happening.  And a person doesn’t really have to do much at all for it to come along.

I’ve been – quickly – volleyed back to Heaven with a Steroid pack and muscle relaxers.  Have I mentioned before – how much I LOVE those Steroid packs?

I get things like this accomplished!  More Jalapeno Peppers and packages of breaded Okra.

This was for dinner the other night!  Our very first Dexter Beef Hamburgers!  We had our first grilled T-bone steaks a day or so before that.  But I forgot to get photos.  Grrrrr…..

Stormy and Dodger have been moved back over to the paddock where they shared with their mothers.  And the boys are in their glory!  Both boys love all the grazing.  And they’ve had fun hanging out with Bruce at the fence.  Bruce seems to enjoy having company on both sides of his place!

The only negative – they look like black ants again.  Ha!

Bruce loves the shelter Dwayne built in that paddock for Killian.  We’ve had really warm temps and he’s snapped to the cool breezes that filter through the boards.  He gets ticked off if you make him come out for any reason – until the shade from the Cedars falls over to his side from Artist’s paddock.

Dwayne got the Hay cut!  I am so proud of him!

This is his very first time cutting hay - ever!  And he did such a fantastic job!  We came out with 164 bales - minus a few left inside the baler.

Lloyd and Rita helped load onto Lloyd’s hay wagon before they all struggled with getting it up the elevator and stacked in the loft.  Everybody was flat-out torn up by the end of the day – too tired to even eat.  But we got a variety package of Dexter Beef together for him to share with Rita – along with some frozen breaded Okra that Lloyd mentioned being ready for chomping down on!

We’ve changed up rations.  All the ‘ Bigs ‘ are now receiving 2lbs. of Purina Stocker Grower ( non-medicated ) twice a day.  They receive hay in the evenings.  And this is encouraging more grazing on the whole!

Last meal in the little yard - before moving back to the big Paddock!

Stormy and Dodger are now receiving 2c. Calf Starter and 2.5c. Purina Stocker Grower ( non-medicated ) twice a day.  They also get hay in the evening.  And we’ve just never had to lift a finger to encourage those 2 growing boys with grazing!  I think it really makes a difference when they’re born on site – how well they take to the grasses they have in their pastures.

Cora and April have started eating ( DE ) Diatomaceous Earth out of the feeder bunker like Artist.  In the past – Cora had no interest.  And Miss April would take to putting her head down in it and spinning in wild circles – making wild noises.  It was like crack for her!

We’re having a serious problem finding these worms on our little pine tree that we planted in front of Artist’s paddock and on our Sunflower plant by the driveway.  The Neem barely phases them.  Not sure what to do next.

If anybody knows what these little turds are – any help would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve been putting a good deal of green beans and okra away.  I’ve even managed to get several packages of Purple Hull Peas frozen.  We’re getting ready to plant some spinach for fall season – now that the hot temps have calmed down.

Sharing one of the Tractor Tires!

I’m not quite sure what happened here.

It looks like 2 different melons are coming up.  The striped ones must be the Sugar Baby watermelons.

And the other looks like an organic honeydew that I tried to plant again.

I thought I’d replanted squash!  I’m telling ya’ – I’ve been in Hell!  This year has just been a challenge!

Dwayne’s been helping me with water buckets.  I promise.  The door is not locked!

August 22, 2013

My Life KNOWS When It's Canning and Weaning Season!

We had an incident that led to housing Dodger and Stormy in separate stalls inside the barn for a few days prior to Patty and Killian being taken to Hampton’s.  Mr. Stormy gave us a little bit of a struggle helping him through a bout with Scours.

Jen and I had headed to Academy in Knoxville to pick up bag rolls for the FoodSaverNaturally – Hell always breaks loose when I leave the house.  Never fails.  Stormy managed to get his Easy Wean out of his nose.  It was raining.  And of course – he nursed on Cora – who had not nursed in over a week.

We won’t be using these Easy Wean appliances in the future.  They come off our Dexter babies too easily.  Our little yard seems to be a really good place for the babies to be fence-weaned from now on.

I’m just glad we got home when we did.  Dwayne had also forgotten to go get feed.  And Co-Op was closed.  He got to drive all the way to Lenoir City and buy feed to get us through until Monday.

Dishing out a completely different feed to our cattle in an instant is something that can downright set me to pulling feathers out of my butt.  But I had enough of the other left over to mix in for the next couple of feedings.  And we handed out extra hay.

It turned out to be a positive.  These animals went nuts over the Purina Stocker Grower.  Cora’s previous owner used that feed.  After watching them eat without flipping feed bowls and leaving absolutely no waste – we decided to stick with what works.  Our cattle have begun to lay down in contentment and chew their cud a lot more.  This is what we want to see.  It means they’re actually digesting their food properly.  The mountains of manure in the paddocks are nowhere to be found.

We’ve been able to reduce Cora’s ration back to the same feed and amount as everyone else.  We compensated a little with morning hay until we got her moved over with Artist and April.  All in all – everyone is now grazing more productively as we want.

We’ve been putting Stormy and Dodger through a gamut of training centered around their halters and lead ropes.  They’ve also been going through conditioning for getting used to us removing their halters when they come into the stalls at night – and putting them back on before they step outside for breakfast in the mornings.  The routine of off and on helps with being able to stand beside them anywhere and put a halter on them for any reason in the future.

We’re now able to stand around with them.  They have no problems letting us pet and love on them.  Both boys are settling in with common routines and almost walk right beside us.  They take no issue to walking up to us now – as well.

It’s the petty little things you can do during feeding time that can be used for big reasons down the road.  I use my ‘buzz words‘ as I did with the others.

They even stand still out in the little yard and let us adjust their halters without any need for a lead rope.  I always give a few minutes to connect ‘does that feel better?‘ to a problem being fixed – long enough for them to focus on the difference in how the fix feels.

They connect the dots in no time at all.  And a strong sense of trust blossoms enough to allow us all the time we need.  They come to understand that we’re doing something for them that will help them feel more comfortable.

There have been several various routines we’ve begun to teach and swap.  These routines allow helping them become comfortable with things like being tied to posts with enough excess lead rope that lets them eat from a feed bowl on the ground.  No more stretching in attempts to break free.  No more need to tie them up taut – as is done when they are being administered to for any animal care or grooming.  This was an issue while they were in the same paddock with Patty.  But it is – pretty much – something normal to be expected.  That’s why training is important.

They were allowed to keep their feed bowls all day for the first day.  They had not finished their rations.  But we let them slide.  They both left a little bit of feed in their bowls on the second day.  I gave them time until I finished feeding everyone and tending to the chickens before pulling their bowls and passing the leftovers to Artist and April.  Leftovers don’t get left inside the barn to encourage rodents.  And both boys decided to finish up all their rations before I took up their bowls that next morning.

The really cool thing about all this training and conditioning is that we don’t have to spend months going through boring repetitions.  One of the many wonderful traits that Irish Dexter Cattle possess is a strong level of memory retention.  For example – Bruce went months without a halter and not being put on a lead rope.  He still throws a fit when we try putting his halter on.  Always has.  Until we bring out the bucket with a treat.  And when we hook that lead rope – it’s as if he spent the day before walking all around the entire area with us.

Artist – April – and Cora are now in a paddock together.  The girls will remain with Artist until a week or so out from their due dates – if we’re lucky enough to get our young man to succeed.

Dodger and Storm will remain in the little yard for a while longer – while they go through more continued training.  Soon - they’ll be moved back to the paddock where they were born and nursed.

Bruce is now in a paddock by himself – but center to the other two larger paddocks.  He’s able to commune with everyone at the fences.  He’ll have the best of both worlds – until he goes to Hampton’s in November.

Already – in the short time since Patty and Killian were taken to Hampton’s – all the others seem to have calmed down so much.  You can feel the quiet and the peacefulness in the air.  You look at all of them during mid-day and there might be 1 or 2 standing.

Cora has already started her assertiveness toward April at the feed bunker.  But we’re working on that.  She gets a special treat for being a good girl if she shares.

Our cost for a 50lb. bag of feed has gone up almost $2.00 per bag.  And we’re driving all the way to Lenoir City to buy it.  Yet - the feed bill has gone down.  There is no more waste – period.  And we’re able to work scheduling for buying feed alongside other errands requiring driving to Lenoir City.

I’ve been really tickled by our little Fig tree this year!  This is its second season growing here.  And that little puppy has just loaded up with gorgeous figs!  I only get about a half-dozen ready each day now.  But if all goes well – it’s a sure sign that I’ll be canning fig preserves next year!

If that little Fig tree doesn’t double up next year – it’ll triple up with some wonderful fruit!

Our dominate Americauna Rooster is coming up absolutely gorgeous!  Took him a while.  But he finally got a handle on his ‘crow.‘   He had a pubescent ‘Bobbie Brady Thing‘ going on there for a few weeks.  We laughed every time we heard him!

He’s funny to watch.  I’ve caught him resting a couple times and it looks so weird!  He doesn’t lay all the way down!  He only bends his knees and ends up resting on his drumsticks!  Haha!

And the Girls are growing so big and so pretty!  Amazes me how we can end up with 24 chickens that are 95% more quiet than the other 5 we had before!  Never again will I even look at a Buff Orpington!!

We are struggling to keep up with the grass around here.  And it’s got the upper hand on us at the moment.  But we’ll get there!  One way or another – we will win that battle.  I can’t stand high grass!  Words start crawling all over me – like ‘snakes‘ – ‘ticks‘ – ‘rats‘ – ‘chiggers.‘


The garden’s going good.  I’ve been breading and freezing Okra for bagging with the FoodSaver.  I’ve been blanching and freezing green beans.  I’m gaining on a few packages of Purple Hull Peas.  We have tomatoes coming.  God willing – they’ll make it to harvesting for sauce and diced tomatoes to be canned.

The Eggplant just seems to be refusing to die.  We’ve had an awesome season of Eggplant Parmesan this year! And we have more eggplant coming every time we harvest a few.  All from 1 single plant.  I don’t get it!

There is one thing I think I goofed up on.  I thought I planted Spaghetti Squash in one of the tractor tires.  The little babies on these 2 puppies are way too round and dented – like a melon.  And if I’m not mistaken – the seeds may have come from an envelope that I forgot to mark.

I think I had one of those ‘ Screw it – let’s do it for shits n giggles ‘ days.

I only know this.  If I’d done it deliberately – they would have croaked.  With my luck – we’ll end up with some really delicious melon for Christmas.

There it is again.  The story of my life!

August 18, 2013

Transitions That Take Us Forward

It’s been so crazy around here – enough that I don’t even know where to begin.

Okay.  I figured that one out.

Dwayne is still alive.

And Cora just loves that he helps her get really lazy about grazing.  I don’t get it.  But she goes absolutely nuts whenever he mows our area between the house and the barn.  She’ll even come running from the back side of the paddock.

She says that the freshly cut green grass all over her back feels nice and cool.  Thank God - She’s not a white Dexter.  But we did have to dump her water trough and clean it before refilling!

Patty and Killian were taken to Hampton’s on the evening of August 12, 2013.  They were slaughtered the next morning for butchering.

I do my best not to think to long about them.  I make myself remember Killian's feet. And it makes me feel better.  I know he feels no pain for sure now.

Patty's disposition made it easy for me to let go.  It was frustrating to watch how she could be in one paddock - but manage to control every paddock.  Heads would hang low.  Eyes would shift.  She ruled a whole herd under duress.  And she had no qualms about hurting any of them - grown or only a week old - whenever she did not get her way.

Our goal above all else is to have a happy and content herd that feels at peace.

Bruce walked with me over to the paddock Killian had – with absolutely no trouble at all.  Of course!  He’s my ‘ Boocey Booce! “  He loves life now!  He can eat his ration and hay without any crap out of Artist!  He has his very own bedroom!  And a toy that hangs.  He thinks the bullet is a toy.  And I’m just gonna let him go on believing he’s an incredibly Out-Of-The-Dexter-Ordinary intelligent boy!

Cora has remained in the same paddock that she shared with Patty and the babies.  She’ll be moved over into the paddock with Artist and April tomorrow morning.  We’re not certain Artist was successful with his virgin voyage into Manhood with April – the female virgin.  So – we’re hoping the experienced older woman will be able to help this spunky fresh lad with some – tutoring – before April hits her next cycle.

We’ve been able to reduce Cora’s ration down to the same as everyone else.  We’re compensating a little with morning hay - besides her evening hay - until we get her moved over with Artist and April.  But this is also encouraging her to graze more productively.

As for the latest on my left hand – I can hold a bucket with 3lbs. of feed for a short period of time.  There is still a lot of soreness.  Pulling on the stall doors or the handle for the refrigerator takes concentration and being very slow and gradual on the pull.

I tried the Vitamin E massaging on the palm and scar area.  It’s supposed to help with the flexibility and keeping the scar from turning dark permanently.  But I bought a big jar of Coconut Oil at Cosco.  I’ve been using that and my scar began healing much faster.  My hands keep the soft feeling longer.  And a little bit of the coconut oil goes a long way!

I see the Surgeon on September 9th for conference and scheduling of surgery on my right hand.  Somehow - I have a feeling things might be a bit more of a struggle afterward.  My left hand won't be up to par for a while.

I had the advantage of full use of my right hand after the surgery on my left hand.  I won't have that same advantage.  And it only makes me worry about my husband even more.