Sunday, August 27, 2006

It's raining!

After lots of prayer and waiting and watching it rain all around us, we are getting rain! It started yesterday afternoon. Here's a picture of Samuel wondering why water is falling from the sky. I guess when you're two, no rain for 3 months or so is a long time. Long enough to forget what it is!

bewildered Sam

The kids played in the rain and got thoroughly soaked. Most of the pictures came out blurry since our children never stay still when they are playing. But here's Clark standing still and letting the rain drench him.

wet Clark

This one is blurry, but it shows the joy of riding a bike in the rain (and Grace hamming it up for the camera).

Grace on bike

And now it's time to sleep while the rain falls outside my window. Ahhh, the simple joys of life.


Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Series of (Un)Fortunate Events

This morning we were going about our usual day. We had breakfast and got the cow milked and all the milking equipment washed, etc. Everyone seemed particularly grouchy and so things were running slowly with me settling fights and such.

I finally got to go get dressed when I heard Grace yell, "Yuck! He's leaking all over our floor!" She was referring to Sam's diaper.

So I quickly assigned "after breakfast chores" giving one of the kids the breakfast dishes so I could go change Sam and clean the carpet. Faith had to do laundry and got the pleasure of having Joy as her helper. I went to change Sam. He had a yucky diaper with a hole in the back of it! How did that happen?

I then went to clean up the mess and found LOTS of spots all over the floor. But they were all dry. That couldn't be it. So I asked where the leakage was at. Grace showed me a spot where he'd been sitting. It turned out he hadn't leaked on the floor, but the floor was so dirty she couldn't tell. Since I had the "spray stuff" and rag with me, I cleaned the spot she showed me, even though it was clearly an old dirt spot. Then I went to throw the rag in the basket in the laundry room. That's when I found her.

Joy was stuck between the wall and the washing machine. She could barely breathe she was stuck so tight. She couldn't even yell for help! As I walked in, I heard her trying to call me, but it was very soft as she had so little air. Apparently she had climbed on top of the washer, then slid down on the side. There wasn't enough room for her in that space, but gravity pulled her down and she was stuck. I pulled her out, then praised God for all that had led me to the room at that moment.

It was frustrating that Sam had a leaky diaper. It was frustrating that I had to clean a mess. It frustrated me when I found there wasn't really a new mess, just a filthy carpet that desperately needs cleaning. But if those things hadn't happened the way they had, with the right timing, who knows what would have happened to Joy!! Sometimes the things that seem bad actually work together for good. It's why I love Romans 8:28. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

She was extra grumpy today, but I was thankful to have her around!


Monday, August 21, 2006

Stephen played with the camera tonight

Joy and Sam in the chick brooder

Joy and Sam

Isabella one week after the dog attack. She's looking much better!
Isabella with stitches

Abraham is doing well, though still skinny!

Sarah's nose
Sarah's nose

Friday, August 18, 2006

Lost Tooth

Clark, 6, lost his first tooth yesterday. And he really lost it. He was eating tortilla chips when he realized it was no longer in his mouth. I'm thankful he's potty trained and I won't have to see it again. He got his two quarters anyway.

And here's a pic that's not so cute. Isabella before her stitches.

Monday, August 14, 2006

For my birthday, maybe a thermos I can take with me

Part of farm life, at least for us, is that some of us get up real early. I get up from 5:00 to 5:30 every morning. This morning I got up at the latter end of the time, but got up all the same, turned on the coffee pot and went to brush my teeth. As I got ready to scrub my teeth I heard a big disturbance outside. There were dogs barking and what sounded like another dog defending himself. I ran to the door and there was no dog on the porch. I took this as a bad sign. I put on a pair of pants, my boots, grabbed the .22 and a box of shells.

As I rounded the corner of the house the dog came to greet me, but the sounds were louder and more frantic and I realized that the calf was being attacked by a dog or two and battling back against them. It was still dark, but as I got out there I got about a dozen rounds loaded and set and kept moving toward the sounds. There was the calf, watching. What she was watching was the milk cow fighting off two dogs. Turns out she was fighting off two pit bulls. I watched her ‘bulldoze’ one dog to my left and as she pulled back the second dog latched on to her nose. I drew down on the first dog and shot it.

The second dog, being a pit bull, would not let loose of the cow’s nose. She was shaking her head from side to side trying to throw the dog, but it would not let go. It was dark and while I was about 15 yards away from the action I was still concerned about firing a round into the cow as she heaved back and forth. So, I fired to the outside of the arc. Eventually, she managed to throw the dog off and I got a shot into it's hind quarters. Unfortunately, it was my last round and the dog got away.

The cow had to have 18 stitches this morning. She is on an antibiotic because of the wounds, but rabies are not an issue as these dogs were apparently owned animals that were up to date on their shots. The antibiotics mean that we have to milk her for the next week and throw out the milk, but at least we’ll still have her. At one point Stephen and I were out in the fields trying to track a dog in the dark. We knew there was an injury, just not how much.

The first dog was shot through the chest and we saw it at the vet’s when we took the cow in to get repaired. The second dog came to our house. Honest to God, we get back to the house and it is still too early to get to the vet for the cow so I am finally going to get a cup of coffee and our dog starts barking. There, in our front yard, is a limping brown pit bull. By the time I got out front with the .22 it was down the road and Stephen had the 12 gauge and was chasing after it. At one point we had it in our sites, literally, but underfired and this wounded, bleeding pit bull, ran across a neighbor’s field at a 30+ mph pace. If nothing else, it was an incredible show of athleticism. Stephen and I traced the blood trail and it is our thought that he probably bled out as there was a lot of blood on the road and only more would be coming out after his run across the field. As far as I know, the second dog has not shown up at the vet’s.

As Stephen and I discussed, this is not something we would have gotten to do in the city. At one point we were walking down the road, he had a shotgun and I had a rifle, and our neighbors just smiled and waved as they drove by. Gunfire rings out throughout the morning and no one calls the cops. I shot a couple of dogs and the humane society is not knocking on my door. If we had done this in Grapevine there would have been news choppers, SWAT Teams and a one liner link on the Drudge Report. No happening that way out here. I am sorry to have shot those dogs, but will continue to shoot dogs that come out to my place to attack my animals. The cow will be alright and we’ll manage with regular store milk over the next week. Tomorrow, though, I just want to drink my coffee.


Saturday, August 12, 2006

Gotta Cut Loose

I went to a conference this past week on energy. Out here in West Texas energy has long been THE industry. From oil to wind we are the place. The talk at the meeting was all about the diminishing supply of oil and gas because the rest of the world is beginning to catch up with us.

The big picture is that we are going to be huring for the next 30 years. In that time oil will be all over the map in terms of prices and we will be living in a time of great discoveries and hopes for future energy supplies. We will also be living in a time of indecision as businesses try to determine which energy source to bet the farm on. Similar to the choice 100 years ago between alternating current and direct current. Wind is big right now, nuclear is coming along again and coal could be in the picture. For this of us in the rural parts of America things like bio-fuels provide us with the potential to revive small towns and rejuvinate a great way of life.

The small picture is that we are giving things like solar power, passive solar heating, convection cooling, wood stoves and wood furnaces a good hard look as we go down yet another rabbit hole trying to figure out the house. For example, we are going to explore the idea of using the earth's mass to cool our house by burying a 4" pipeline that will run for 100' or at a depth of 6' into the house. The air will come out of the pipe at about 60 degrees. Plenty good to cool the house in the summer. At least in theory. So we will see about putting theory to work.

Gotta go watch a movie now. Melissa checked Footloose out at the library and we are going to watch it with the oldest three kids so they can see big hair and parachute pants.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Abraham is dying! Oh, wait, he's just very, very ill! Oh, wait, he's fine and look what he had to eat today.

Abraham, the horse, was sick this morning. He would not eat and seemed constipated. We called our horse friend and after much looking it turned out he had colic - annoying if it’s a human baby, potentially fatal if it’s an old horse. We got the vet lined up, the trailer was ready and he started eating. We listened to his stomach and talked to the vet and all is well. Standing in a field with my ear up to a horse’s stomach listening for gurgling is not something that came to mind when we decided to move out here. However, the relief and pleasure associated with hearing the gurgling was on our minds some 14 months ago – the simple pleasure that comes from working with animals.

It is sort of like first time parents that take unusual joy in each new discovery of a poopy diaper. Green and runny is not the first thing we like to think about with kids, but it is a reality. Taking care of animals to the point of sifting through their manure to understand what is wrong with them is kind of the same thing.

One set of animals we aren’t worried about these days are the chickens. We slaughtered a couple this past week for a customer/friend. I gotta tell you, these were the healthiest birds I’ve ever killed. No fat, just meat. The internal organs were firm and textbook coloring. We have a textbook on this stuff, this is how I know. These were also the first chickens that we have processed since we went free range with them. We had been pasture feeding and while the chickens got exercise, it was not to the same level these guys get. They are, literally, crossing the road all day long. In the mornings when I go to town they are as far as 300 yards from home. We try to get them to come in at night by bribing them with feed, but there is a group (it is a shrinking group) that refuses to come into the shelter at night. Other than that little bit and whatever the cow or horse leave behind, they are on their own for food. The feed bill is less this way, but the predation loss is greater. The horse stepped on a great big ole hen last week. It would have dressed out to about five pounds.

I’m thinking I’ll sue Faith for damages.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

General Farm Ramblings

Faith learned today that even though you have walked and walked and walked around the property, you don’t necessarily always find the animal you are looking for. Poor girl walked around for the better part of 45 minutes looking for Abraham and as she was coming in I was headed out to help her and saw him, through the trees, and shouted for her to follow. She followed, trusting that it was not a joke, and finally saw him when she got to within about 15 feet of him.

I have the same trouble trying to find the cow sometimes and this morning was one of those times. Bella comes to the gate every morning to be let in and milked, but this morning I had to sleep in and she came to the gate and left. After walking around looking for her, Stephen got in the truck and drove me out to help with getting her. As we drove out to the tank, the truck starts to veer into and field and as I am shouting to Stephen I see why he is veering, there is Bella standing in the middle of the path. She was a pain in the butt the whole time we milked.

The drought continues and we have almost no green grass anywhere. Out by the stock tank and in the channel leading up to it is still good, but while helping Faith bring the horse back I got a good look at it and even this grass is beginning to fade out. There is a slight chance for rain in tonight’s forecast. We need to get Miracle Maker Faith to pray for rain.