Saturday, July 10, 2010

Misty

I would like to introduce ya'll to Misty. Misty is my six year old purebred Jersey. She has been part of our family since she was born. I had her mother- Pebbles-who unfortunately died due to a back injury. Misty calved yesterday, but with complications. She ended up with milk fever.

You know, we have had cattle now for nearly 20 years. Frank was raised on a farm and he is 44. It wasn't until last year that we heard of milk fever in cows. We had a cow that was black Angus cross with a Holstein. She was probably about 10 years old. Anyways, she ended up with milk fever. And the only way we knew she had it, because the previous fall, our Pomeranian cross who had a litter of pups-they were four weeks old-ended up with milk fever. We just about lost Goldie. We didn't know dogs could get milk fever. Frank noticed 263 had the same signs as the dog did-staggering like she was drunk.

Our neighbour came over and gave 263 this stuff called CAL-PLUS, a 500 ml bottle. Thank God for good neighbours. She had to be given several shots all over her body just under the skin. The proper word for this is subcutaneous injections. The cow was up within a couple of hours.

Now, this is where this particular story turns heartbreaking. I had another Jersey, named Miss Betsey. I had her only for a year and she was about 9 years old. She too had milk fever. Frank went to the neighbours and asked if they had any Cal-Plus that we good borrow. Jim came on over too. While Frank was administrating the drug, Jim and I pulled the calf. Yup, Betsey had milk fever during calving. Betsey was doing great by the next morning. So I milked her mostly out, and bottled fed the calf, and froze the rest of the colostrum. A couple of hours later, Betsey was dead. Broke my heart. Cried like a baby. I loved that cow. Now, here is the learning curve-1) DON'T MILK THE COW!!! 2) Betsey needed more of the Cal-Plus. Side Note: Misty ended up raising this calf- Miss Dolly. Will introduce her at a later date.

After Betsey was buried-yup my hubby is a nice guy-I got onto the net and researched the hell out of this milk fever thing and feeling guilty with everything I read. I have discovered that it isn't that common in beef cattle, and is more prevalent in dairy breeds. but guess what? It is more common in the Jersey Breed. No I am not saying anything to turn anybody off of owning a Jersey for a family milk cow. I love this breed, and I love my girls. They are so adorable, cute, and they are just like big puppy dogs. I will always have Jerseys.

Well, to make this rather long story a little bit shorter, Misty is doing fine-so far. Cross your fingers. No, I haven't milked her. Nor have I fed her any rolled oats. I have been bottle feeding the little bull calf and trying to teach him to suckle his mama. Today I went to the vet. I purchased another bottle of Cal-Plus for just in case. You know Murphy's Law! Come Monday, I am phoning a forage specialist and find out what kind of pasture grass I need for my girls. Also getting a better mineral supplement too!!

There are a few books I would like to recommend to anybody that wants to keep livestock, regardless what it is: The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable by Juliette de Bairachli Levy---this book is older published originally 1952 but the last time was 1991. I did find it online at Chapters. The next book: Keeping Livestock Healthy by N. Bruce Haynes, D.V.M. The Merck Veterinary Manual-- I have the ninth edition. Now these three books cover sheep, horses, goats, pigs, and cows. They are a very good references. Also I have a book called The Cattle Heath Handbook written by Heather Smith Thomas (I like her). All of my books either come from Amazon or Chapters.






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Friday, July 9, 2010

sunrise over the homestead

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

joy riders

Shy Guy, Nacho, and Goldie (their mama)
There is something about the month of July, that is the bestest! (I know, not a word) We, in Alberta are experiencing a bit of heat wave. Today at the farm, we got up to 30 degrees Celsius in the shade. Granted not as bad as BC or eastern Canada. But nonetheless, a heat wave. And it is haying season.

It has been three or four summers since I have been on the tractor. When you have a boy in the house on the thresh hold of manhood, it was time for me to step aside and let him have the opportunity to learn how to operate the tractor. I figured it was time to wean him off the tit, and cut the apron strings. I told my son it was time for him to start hanging around his dad and learn how to become a man and to learn how to work. Frank Jr was 14. I realise on some farms and ranches the boys are out there sooner with the men. I guess I wasn't ready for him to be on the equipment. But since moving here five summers ago, it is a different story.

With that all said-fast forward to last night. Hubby came in for supper. His boss phones and says it is time for Frank to go back to work. We weren't very imaginative when we had Frank Jr. He got named after his father, Frank. Frank Jr also has gotten himself a job working for a neighbour. OK, this all fine and dandy. But I also work five hours a day. But since there is hay knocked down, and I am the one that is home shortly after 1 in the afternoon, Frank says "Hun, can you rake hay tomorrow afternoon. We will go out after supper and I'll refresh your memory with the tractor and the raking"! Of course, I had to pretend to be ever so nonchalant that I didn't care either way if I raked hay or not. Don't get me wrong, there's just something about making hay in July during a heat wave! I was chomping at the bit. This afternoon couldn't arrive fast enough!

It was all I could do from watching the damn clock to hurry up and click to 1.00. Secretly wishing that no one came in at 12.55 for a 'visit'. It was so hot and suffocating in the post office and I was sweating, hoping and a wishing that a breeze would start up for when I was on the tractor. When I got home, I quickly changed into shorts and a shirt, made a sandwich for the 'road', filled up my water bottle, and I was ready to go raking.
The green bomb or the hulkster.

Now, the old green bomb, the dogs think they own. Any time they hear that old engine roar to life, they know it is time for a truck ride. After the three of them hopped in, we were ready to go, but we had to make a stop at the barn first. Misty, my Jersey, is going to be calving any day, so had to check on her. Now we are ready!

I fired up the tractor, and let her warm up. I left one door opened for the dogs to jump in out of the truck and away I went! Take the shirt off and down the field I go. The rake gently turning the hay over. But there is something to be said about a field that turns into a rough field when you have to turn around to come back down to flip another windrow over to lay it beside the first window. I should have taken Frank's suggestion when he told me to duct tape my girls so they wouldn't bounce so hard. I was in second gear, and it didn't take much for the double d 44's to start bouncing. I had to hold on to them every time I turned around, and got going down a new windrow. I envy women with fried eggs for boobs!


The field tractor. Affectionately called the Schlopper. Frank's dad had one when Frank was growing up and he called it the same name. I guess this model was made in Germany. Hence the name. I have given up on my dream of owning a V-Rake. This single, 6-wheel rake, we bought used in 1990 at an auction. That ole rake has sure turned alot of hay.

The hay field.




When Frank gets home tonight he will bale. And to tomorrow, I get to be on the Schlopper once more. Watching the hawk fly over head, the young fawn trotting back in the bush waving her tail in warning, and Goldie hunting for mice. What more girl ask for?





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catchin' the wind

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one of the good smells of summer.

Nothing smells sweeter than field of clover!!
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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

have a seat

Well, I have been busy-not! I like Wednesday evenings. I turn my radio to my favourite station, CKUA and listen to music from by-gone days. In Alberta, we have a radio station that is 100% totally funded by the public. No commercials...that part is great. Also they play different genres that you will not hear on the top 40 stations. Plus with those stations you have to listen to irritating DJs with high pitched squeaky voices, and the gossip about the movie stars, crap TV updates---you know Survivor, American Idol and the such. And of course those darn commercials. On Wednesday nights at 6 pm MST, is 'The Old Disc Jockey'.. In the evenings Mon-Thur is classical music from 7-9 pm. Friday is the Celtic program 6-8 pm. If you are curious take a listen on the web at ckua.com

For years I have wanted to either to purchase or build my own rustic/willow furniture. More so to build because that is how cheap I am. For years I have had the same mentality....one day. Well, now here I am, cruising down hill into the late forties, and one day isn't going to arrive if I, myself, don't push it, to hurry up and arrive! I have bought books over the years, and borrowed books from the library, even a video. Well, about mid-June 'one day' arrived!! I screwed up the courage, bit the bullet and did it! I built my first rustic chair. The one in the photo isn't the one. If you can swing a hammer, hold a cordless drill- and change the bits, use a hand saw and pruners, you too can build your own rustic furniture! I sound like a used car salesman!! Oh and the most important part of rustic furniture building...have access to willow.

The books that I looked at are: 'A Bend in the Willows' by Paul Dolphin-(borrowed that one from the library), 'Making Bent Willow Furniture' by Brenda and Brian Cameron, 'Green Wood For the Garden' by Alan and Gill Bridgewater, 'Making Bentwood Trellises, Arbors, Gates and Fences' by Jim Long, Rustic Garden Projects' by Dawn King. The video was the best!!! I borrowed it from the library. Kim Elton is the man's name. I think the video is called 'KIMIK-Rustic Furniture Creations'.

I watched this video all the way first. He makes so easy. The next morning I watched it again. Gathered up a saw and pruners. I am very fortunate. I live on almost 900 acres which 600 of it is still in bush. But I jumped the fence and went into the bush near the house. Why? Because non of husband's gates are woman friendly. I can't open or close them without some assistance! One day, I am going to buy all steel gates. Anyways, for my first love seat I used poplar. Hey, it worked. Did a bit, came in and watched the video for the next stage, went back outside built, came in watched, etc until I was finished. I just haven't put linseed oil on it. My second one is all willow-hubby drove me to a spot where all the gates were opened and to a good spot for willows. In the photo is my second attempt.

But - yep there is always a but- I didn't do some important steps. That is, until I borrowed the book a Bend in the Willows. Pilots holes are necessary. I did do that- mostly. My drill bit kept falling out or breaking. Also, do not and I stress do not dry your chair in full sun for a few days. And it is very important to use 80% linseed oil and 20% turpentine on your chair right away. I waited well over a week. I also peeled my chair, which is fine, but it should have been in the shade the whole time. Does this deter me from building another chair? Hell no!! I am waiting for this weekend!

Don't wait for 'one day' just do it now!
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Sunday, July 4, 2010

jar of goodness

Well the husband is finally on his way home. He stopped to visit his family yesterday after leaving Banff, and he left there this morning about 10.30ish. He always has such a hard time 'get goin' from his dad's place. They want to chat and visit more. Makes me laugh!

Well, sold four of the six pom pups. Barb drove all the way from Edmonton to here. Which totally blows my mind. That is a six hour drive one way. I have had to meet people an hour down the road to buy a puppy.Those puppies will be spoiled. Two of them she is keeping and the other two are going to two of her friends. Two more to go, and no more puppies. I am done. The papa is fixed. No more! Cute as they are...No definitely sure! No. More. Puppies. Well maybe in a couple of years...hehehehe

We finally received, some much needed rain. We have been so dry. I am not sure how much we got, all I know is I don't have to water the veggie garden or my new raspberry patch. But in a few days, I will have to haul out johnny and mow the grass. I hope the sun is shining and it is warm...hey a cold beer on the ride-on taste great!

I had strawberries left over, and I have enough strawberry/rhubarb jam put up that I didn't want to make any more. But I got to thinking...hey strawberry syrup for pancakes sounds awfully damn fine to me. Well spent nearly an hour on the net looking and couldn't find one that I liked and that was suitable for canning. And I sure didn't want to make any with corn syrup.

A few years back, I went to a garage sale and purchased a used canner. Well, inside this canner was a preserve cookbook, that someone had taken the time to photo copy. It was in this I found a recipe for strawberry syrup. I had enough strawberries to make this recipe into seven pints jars. There was a little bit left in the pot, and not enough of it to fill a jar, so I asked my boy, Frank, Jr, if he wanted to be my taste tester. He got out a leftover pancake from breakfast and he ate it with the syrup. He says 'Mom I am not hungry' Oh, ok don't eat it than. He says too late. Shit head!! Well how did it taste? It was pretty good. Do you remember that commercial that use to be on tv back in the late 70's early 80's for LIFE cereal. "Hey Mikey, he'll try it. He'll eat anything.....blah blah.....Hey Mikey he likes it!!! " Well that was Frank!

So here is the recipe. I figure it should be ok on pancakes, and waffles or even vanilla icecream. It isn't thick like maple pancake syrup.

BERRY SYRUP

4 pounds of berries
2 cups water
sugar
lemon juice

-wash berries and place in a large pot. Add water and crush berries to start juices flowing. Bring to a simmer and simmer 2-3 minutes. Do not boil
-Pour juice and pulp through a jelly bag or cheesecloth-lined colander suspended over a bowl. Let juice drain and squeeze bag to extract all possible juice.
-Measure juice and return it to pot. To each cup of juice, add 2/3 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
Bring syrup to a simmer and simmer 5 to 10 minutes.
-Ladle into clean hot jars leaving about 1/2 inch headspace
-Process in boiling-water bath 10 minutes

There is a note to this recipe: If you end up with jelly instead of syrup, it's because the berries used were high in pectin. Simply reheat the jellied syrup and thin with water. If the syrup is not thick enough, boil it in a saucepan to reduce and thicken it.

MY NOTE:

You can use any berries or combination of berries for this recipe. And like I said the other day, I don't follow recipes all that well (note to oneself-work on that!) I didn't let mine get thick enough. But hey, my gang will still eat it...especially in the middle of winter and it is -40 and they want ice cream and syrup on it. A little bit of summer in every jar!!
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