Friday, April 27, 2012

Calf Update - Mooooving in

Since I last posted about our wee calf, we have trekked out to the country every morning and evening to hunt him down, get safely away from his 1200 pound mama, and feed the little booger a bottle.

Each visit was a little bit different. Finding her, finding him, figuring out how to quickly and safely get him into the bed of the truck for his bottle.  Mama cow worked her way closer each time.  The first couple of visits she didn't seem to know where he was.  But finally she figured out that we had him in the truck and she was not shy about coming around.  Big round, roly, wild-looking eyes, chin hung over the tailgate, tongue lolling out, reaching for baby.  
She never got aggressive, just stayed close enough to keep an eye on us and her baby.  
Always backing away as Dad carefully stepped down to the ground with the calf.
Each time we would look the calf over carefully, trying to guess his well-being.  Was he getting any stronger?  Was he losing more weight?  And the big question: was he getting anything from his mama?

After 5 meals-on-wheels feeds delivered to the pasture, we decided, no, baby was unfortunately not getting any nourishment from mama cow, and we went in this morning for a rescue mission.  Or a calf-napping.  However you want to look at it.

Excitement was high and tension was mounting as we searched for mama and baby.  We were in our usual a.m. feeding configuration: Gramps and the boys in the atv, Mimi & the girls in the truck.  We searched on one side of a row of trees and didn't see them, so the guys worked through to the other side. We sat and waited, straining to see what was going on on the other side of the trees.  We could see just enough to know that they had found the calf.  Then we realized they had scooped it up with them.

Sure enough, moments later they charged through the trees, Dale sitting in the back with the calf.  
Grabbing a quick pic while Gramps closes a gate!
We set out in the lead, and the race was on to get us all through the gate before Mama cow decided to follow.  She's learned to trust us over the last few days, and has been in less of a hurry to get to baby every time we show up.  The first time she was nearly panicking.  I suppose today she figured we'd hand him back over in a few minutes like we had always done before.  

Not so, this time.  This time we got him to a separate location where he guzzled down his bottle. 
Alan insisted on bringing his rope to this event.
No way was I going to point out he's never roped anything!
Once he was all full, we bedded him down for The Move.

To our backyard.

Yes, my friends, we are now bottle-raising a calf in our backyard.

We are taking him on as a project more than a pet, and are already talking up-front with the boys about the fact that he will be sold this fall.

That hasn't seemed to stop us from enjoying scratching his little head throughout the day.  And strongly rooting for his full recovery and growth to stout, playful calf.

We are looking forward to the learning experience this will be for all of us, but no one is more excited than our little farmer.  Alan is taking on baby responsibilities quite seriously, and makes sure he is tended to and cared for well.  
Alan, nose-to-nose with our new charge, making sure he's settling in comfortably.
My biggest hope is that our little calf perks up and takes a similar shine to Alan.  A few more bottles and head scratches and we just might be there!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In which my parents and I act as lactation consultants to a cow.

Do you remember this post, where I was feeling some camaraderie with a big mama cow?

I've been at it again, but a little more hands-on this time.

I don't know how familiar you are with what a nursing mama cow's undercarriage is supposed to look like, and really, I'm no expert myself, but anyone that has ever nursed a baby (and many that haven't) would have to know this just can't be good:
Let's all say together: OUCH.

But more problematic than the mama's mams was the serious issue of the baby's nourishment.  

This mama birthed a sweet-faced little calf on Saturday or early Sunday, and the little fella just hasn't been getting enough to eat.  

So I became my daddy's ranch-hand side-kick today, to help rescue a calf!

After one more re-con mission to see how baby was doing, we decided, yes, it was time to resort to a bottle and formula.  Mama cow was sticking pretty close during this visit.  It was painful to watch her run across the pasture to check on her baby when we got too close for her comfort.

An hour or two later, joined by my mom, we headed back to the calf's cozy grass nest.  Mama cow trotted along behind us at a pretty good pace, but we got to a gate and closed it behind us before she got too close.  Once she realized she was separated from her baby she started putting up a pretty good fuss.

Meanwhile, we got to the calf and started trying to get him to take the bottle.  
This part was much more difficult than I had imagined it would be.  The calf either didn't know how to suck, or didn't have the strength.  

The above pose didn't last long.  Pretty quick Dad and I switched places so I was straddling the calf and he and mom were working together to hold his head and the bottle and get some milk into him so he'd start to suck.  Obviously mom had to put the camera down for that to work.  

Finally, after some work on the bottle nipple, it was like a little bovine lightbulb went off and baby started really taking down some milk.

It was about that time that dad noticed some movement off to his right, and we all looked up to see.... Mama Cow.

Uh oh.

Dad had Mom move around to another side of the atv, and I was ready to jump in, and he was ready to... run.  Mama cow circled around us about three times, not too upset, but not too happy either.
It was like she knew we weren't hurting her baby, and kind of suspected we were helping, but she still didn't like it.  (We later found the place in the fence where she had most likely pushed her way through to get to her calf.)  

Finally, she got close enough and Dad felt good enough about how much the calf had taken down that we let mama and baby reunite.  

We sat and watched as a much perkier, more energized calf tried to nurse on his poor mama's gigantic ... you-knows.  

The hope is we can supplement the calf with enough to get him stronger and bigger, while he keeps nursing on mom, giving her some relief and eventually balancing out her supply with his demand. 

It's an experience I've never had before, and I am loving every bit of it!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thanks, Dear

We choose to remain in the dark ages cheap ways frugal living of cell phone use.

We don't carry smart phones, and our plan includes a limited amount of texts.  

In the years we've been on this plan, the limited amount of texting has never been a problem.  I have always texted to my heart's content and never gone over.  

Until this month.  And boy oh boy did I go over.

After learning of this unexpected expense I was fretting and stewing at that fact that I had cost us like that.

I realized that through all my talking about it Greg had carried on with regular conversation and playing with the boys.

I commented that he didn't seem very worried about it.

"It's just money," he told me.

Touched by his kind perspective, I thanked him for being so understanding and told him I appreciated it.  "A lot of men in your place would give their wives a hard time."

He told me again, "I'm not worried about it.  But it is coming out of your allowance."

(P.S. Just to clarify: I don't get an allowance, and spend freely from our funds.  That's what made this joke funny.)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Me-thinks we have too many caps.

Can you name that children's book?

This is how Alan appeared from his room this morning, calling the whole way down the hall, "Caps for sale!  Caps for sale!"

He even had his own personal monkey:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fried chicken livers.

I don't know how the majority of the population feels about them.  I suspect it is a love 'em / hate 'em, take 'em or leave 'em kind of feeling.
And possibly a regional thing?

We had livers off and on as I was growing up.  Rare enough to be a treat, and not too often to get tired of them.  Maybe 2 or 3 times a year?

With both of my first two pregnancies I had them more often, for the health benefits to mama & baby.

And then my baby was diagnosed with liver disease.  And had a liver transplant. And I held his removed, diseased liver in my hand.

And that was the end of my chicken liver eating.  I had no interest in or appetite for the organ meat of a chicken or any other critter.  I even avoided them in the Thanksgiving giblet gravy.

Four and a half years later, my little sister comes home for a visit, pregnant with her first child.  My mother, saddled with the same sudden liver aversion as me, decides for the sake of her other daughter and unborn grandchild, she must grit her teeth and carry on.

So she bought some chicken livers, fried 'em up, and served them.  And well... since there they were and they smelled pretty good, she went ahead and ate some, too.  Since there I was, across town and preggers myself, she made me up a sandwich and brought it over.

And what do you know, Sam I Am.... they weren't that bad.

In fact, they were "not that bad" enough that a couple of weeks later I drove through a local chicken place to try them again.  And enjoyed them.  The key is not to think too long or hard (or at all) about exactly what it is you are eating.

But considering the fact that I just wrote this post while eating yesterday's drive-thru left-overs, I'd say the self-imposed chicken liver prohibition has been lifted!

What about you? Do you like liver? Have you ever eaten it?  
Could you, would you, Sam-I-Am?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My Point Exactly

Greg and I drove to church this morning, he with new funky glasses and me with a bun in the oven.  It was the first time we would see our church family since making the big announcement on the blog and facebook.

As we rode along, Greg commented on the potential for us to make a little splash upon arrival, what with his different look and our big news.  We then agreed that neither of us like making a splash.  Or making a scene.  We are both blend into the background kind of people.

I then pointed out that it must be difficult to blend into any background with 5 kids in tow.

At this point Dale, unaware of our conversation, pipes up from the backseat, "Hey Daddy!  The next time you go to Walmart or the hardware store can you get some orange spray paint?"

Obvious response from Daddy: "Why?"

"Because me and Alan just saw a mailbox with FLAMES on it and we need to paint flames on our mailbox!"

Yeah... good luck to us and that "blending in" thing.

Friday, April 13, 2012

From all of us to all of you:

We here in the herd

are pleased to announce
coming in October 2012
a new little buffalo or butterfly!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lions & Tigers &... well.. you know the rest

We recently met up with some new homeschooling friends and headed to a local wildlife park for an up-close and personal tour.

We really did see lions, tigers & bears, along with peacocks, monkeys, and zebras:
The boys all enjoyed visiting with the donkeys.  It was our longest stop on our tour, lasting until our homeschool mom friend got nibbled by one of the donkeys!  Little too friendly there, heehaw. 
Personally, I absolutely loved our tour guide, Joe Bob, the rather large bulldog.
He was the first off and the last back on the golf cart at every stop, waddling around like he owned the place.  And every time I looked at him I couldn't help but hear the Little House story books in my head, "...and their good ol' bulldog, Jack."

As much as I enjoyed Joe Bob's hosting skills, my favorite exhibit was the cats:
Now that's something you don't see every day. I'm just glad it was the black one that had its freedom!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Easter Festivities

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend.  I think Easter is my favorite day of the entire year.  I love the celebration and focus on the victory of Jesus over sin and death.  So thankful to be saved by grace and a loved child of the King of Kings! It is humbling and amazing to consider.

Our weekend included a few extra activities.

Things like a Saturday egg hunt:

The traditional Flowering of the Cross at church:

Easter dinner at our house:
(we had more than boiled eggs and cupcakes, I promise) ;)

And the biggest hair bow I've made yet:

I totally slacked last week on all my planned spring and Easter crafts.  Luckily for me Alan proclaimed today to be "the last day of Easter," so we celebrated by making stained glass crosses.
Besides, "He is risen!" is something we can celebrate every day of the year, isn't it?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

He is Risen!

And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought sweet spices, that they might come and annoint him.

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun.

And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Mark 16:1-2, 5-6

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Guilty, vile and helpless we,
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
Full atonement! can it be?
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Song Lyrics: Hallelujah, What a Savior! - Phillip P. Bliss
Artwork credit: unknown

Friday, April 6, 2012

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood - 
Sealed my pardon with His blood:
Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Song Lyrics: Hallelujah, What a Savior! -Phillip P. Bliss
Image credit: Unknown

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Five Year Old Fashion Sense

The Herd was on the move again this afternoon.

As usual, it was time to go and shoes were missing.  Today's directive was socks and tennis shoes for everyone.  Which ended up being everyone except the boy whose tennis shoes were missing.  So he wore flip flops.

Is that just us? It seems inevitable that somebody is going to be missing at least one shoe, if not both.

This weekend the directive was opposite: flip flops for everybody!

And once again, a pair of shoes were missing.  The flip flops, of course.  This time it was Alan.

As the rest of us gathered our stuff and headed for the van, I threw over my shoulder to Alan, "If you can't find flip flops then put on socks and tennis shoes!"

And when he emerged, I couldn't believe what I saw.

Seeing as how it was only a family fun gathering, I hid a smile and let it slide.

Turns out everyone else enjoyed Alan in his old-man socks as much as I did.

What else there to say, really? The boy is comfy in his own skin.  
And socks. :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

THAT'S not what I expected to happen...

These taekwondo days just keep getting more and more interesting.  

Today we planned on leaving super early for some errands.

As we were getting ready to go we watched footage of tornadoes ripping through Dallas/Fort Worth.  Knowing these storms would eventually be heading our way I prepped the boys that taekwondo might or might not happen.

We headed out with a quick stop at Sonic for Happy Hour (yay!) and a little bonus snack.  I wanted to be able to race home after tkd if necessary without worrying about food.  Usually have supper in the crockpot, but Greg had a late meeting at work.  All of this is not really necessary for the telling of this tale. I'm chasing rabbits.

To the point: by the time I met Greg at the walmart gas pumps we had discovered that our cellphones would hardly get through at all.  And learned that area schools were releasing early due to imminent storms.  That was a wee bit worrisome.

As soon as we switched vehicles (he took the kids) and parted ways I found out from folks back home that serious storms had popped up ahead of the ones we were expecting in another couple of hours from Dallas, and these new ones were just as severe and already upon us.

And I could NOT get in touch with Greg.

We are obsessive very careful weather watchers.  This just doesn't happen to us!

I proceeded with my plans, but very, very quickly.

By the time I was done and finally in touch with anyone by phone again it was beginning to rain and thunder.  Things were a bit chaotic.

Based on the information we could piece together, we did not want to race these storms home.

So the whole Herd descended on a couple in the area.  You know someone is a true friend when you can drop in on them with your 4 children in the rain, just as they are getting home from work.

The boys had a blast playing with their 1 yr old granddaughter and we were thankful to be reunited and able to keep an eye on the radar and warnings.

3 hours, 5 tornado warnings, 7 Braum's burgers, and 1 broken Easter decoration later, we felt safe enough to head home.

We are so thankful and appreciative for our friends, who are a picture of hospitality.  We may have been passed over by all the funnel clouds, but I wouldn't be surprised if they collapsed when we left like they had been hit by a tornado. 

And we never even went to taekwondo.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Just call me 'Annie' (and I don't mean the orphan)


Anyone want to guess what I'm about to do in the above picture?  Other than wow you with my best Minnie Mouse impression?

We were at my parents' place in the country for a cookout this weekend.  My dad and brother-in-law had with them some certain equipment for an activity they had done earlier.

This particular activity is one I have never tried.

As I watched, I wanted to give it a shot, you might say.  So my dad relayed important information and let me give it a go.

Did you guess yet?


My target?  A 5 month old pumpkin we provided, just for this purpose.  With 2 soda cans stacked on top of it.

I lined up carefully, and took my first shot, from about 10 feet away.
Can you see that soda can flying off the pumpkin?  Yes ma'am.  Thankyouverymuch.
(And how 'bout my mom capturing this awesome shot?! And by 'awesome shot' I mean her photo.)

I backed up a few steps (not too many, didn't want to ruin the fun!) and emptied my (Daddy's) weapon.

After this exhilerating experience I went home with a few observations.

1.  I have a strong fear of (very healthy respect for?) guns.

2.  After holding and firing such a weapon, I still feel the same way.  Maybe even more so.

3.  That said, I really liked shooting, and will do it again next time I have the opportunity!

4.  Guns are way powerful.

5.  And still kind of scary.

6.  I want my boys to know how to handle them safely.

7.  Next time I am backing up another couple of feet, just to see what I can do. :)