Sunday, January 31, 2010

Preg Checking and Bald Eagles

On Friday, Dan the Man and I took six cows to the vet to have them preg checked. That's cowboy talk for having the vet check to see if the cow is pregnant, thus preg check. If you know any real cowboys, they are usually men of few words, especially when it comes to womanly things or words such as pregnant. I guess it is just easier and more comfortable for them to say preg check!

Any ways, we are selling these cows and want to make sure that if we list them as being "bred" cattle, they are indeed expecting a calf this Spring. Good news is that they all are. I was going to take pictures of the procedure, but didn't. For you city folk, I'll lay it out for you and you can imagine what the pictures would look like in your mind. For those of you who know what I'm talking about, I'm sure you won't have any trouble visualizing this.

Before I knew how this was really done, I would have imagined that the vet would use some sort of ultrasound machine thingy to see if the cow was pregnant. Makes sense doesn't it? That's generally how it is done for us girls, why would cows be that much different? Well, if that's along the lines you are thinking, wipe that thought right out of your mind. That's not even close to the real deal.

The real deal is that the cow is placed in a squeeze chute and their heads are secured in the head catch. Just like they were when we tattooed their ears. If you missed that post, here it is: Tattooing our Registered Cattle. The vet then opens a small door that allows them to get right in the chute behind the cow. But before he/she does this they must don the proper attire.

The one essential element of attire that is a prerequisite is the arm-length rubber glove. Are you picturing this... arm-length rubber glove. One that is long enough to go clear to your shoulder and underarm. We're talking at least 3 feet long!

Warning: graphic description to follow, not for whimpy, prissy, proper ladies who get nauseated easily with poo.

Okay, back to THE GLOVE. Now that you have that glove pictured, now picture a regular glove, like one the doctor uses. Oh, don't forget coveralls and rubber boots. Now, the regular glove goes on first. Then THE GLOVE. Then a large rubber band is slipped over the glove up near your underarm, this it to secure the glove on your arm and to make sure it does not slide down. I don't know the reason for the first glove, but I am guessing that it is a "back-up" glove in case the outer glove tears and also to act as a barrier so your hand doesn't smell like poo when you are done. That's just my own guess.

Now if it was me who was doing this procedure, I wouldn't stop there, I would add a pair of safety glasses, but once again, that is just me.

So, now that the vet has donned their preg check attire, they open a small door in the chute which allows them to get in right behind the cow. Not too sure if I would like to do that, looks like a free kick for the cow in my opinion.

The vet now carefully moves the tail with the ungloved hand and takes the gloved hand and inserts it into the cows rectum. Then they push it further until they encounter some poo which they have to take out with their hand. After they remove a handful or several handfuls of poo, depends on how much poo the cow is holding, they then go back in, clear up to their armpit and feels the cows uterus to see if they can feel a fetus.

I just Googled "preg check cows" and found some real interesting stuff. Think I'll do some more reading on it. Very interesting I must say.

Back to the poor vet. The first time I saw this done, I just about fainted. Eeewww, yuck, are you kidding me? You would not believe the amount of poo involved in this operation. Poo inside, poo outside, poo being flung on tails that are swishing, poo everywhere! That's why I would wear the safety glasses!

Are you still with me? Sorry if I grossed you out, but that's how it is done. The cows don't pee in a cup for you to test with a test strip. Wouldn't that be an easy way to do it? I wonder if anyone has ever tried that?

So what does this have to do with bald eagles?

Absolutely nothing.

But I thought I would leave you with a much nicer picture.

You must, I mean it! You MUST click on these photos to get a full screen view of them. If you don't, you are cheating yourself. Just remember to click your browser's back button to return to the blog.

On our way home I made Dan the Man stop along side the highway for me to snap these pictures. These were taken just a little over a mile west of our home. These bald eagles have been hanging out in this spot for a long time. I'm not sure how long, because we don't go this way very often. I've always wanted to stop and get pictures of them, but never had. Now that I got these, I must go back and cross the fence and see if I can get closer. This is as close as I could get my camera to zoom. They were about an 1/8 to 1/4 mile away.

I just think eagles are so awesome, so majestic. What beautiful creatures and to think that I can see them most any day I want to...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Yes, one day in the country is worth a month in town.

Friday, January 29, 2010

7 Things You Won't Find on a Ranch

You won't find adorable babies sitting on a scale.
They wouldn't stay this clean for very long, that's for sure!

But you will find...
Adorable new born calves in a sling scale getting weighed!

You won't find beautiful white picket fences on a ranch.

But you will find...
Old barbed wire fences that need constant fixin!

You won't find cute little hamsters,
they'd never survive with the cats.

But you will find ugly little pocket gophers that the cats drag in!
(Correction, this is a shrew, see the comments below!)

You won't find women that look like this in designer jeans!

Sorry guys, they are only in the movies and magazines!

But you will find...
women with holes in their jeans decorated with cow poop!
oh and sexy muck boots!

You won't find Groucho Marx.

But you will find...
Sexy Country Chicken Girls!
(I'm waiting for Cosmo to call and ask me to do a cover shot!)

You won't find bear tracks...
at least I hope you don't!

But you will find chicken tracks!

You won't find a cute mother opossum carrying her babies on her back.
Isn't that cute?
She should get mother of the year!
You wouldn't catch me doing that, I just yelled at my kids to "hurry up!"

But you will find...
A curious cat wondering what happened to this opossum!

Eeeww, how long have you been dead?

But I do like you better dead than alive!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tatum, our new boy, it's Official!

Well, it's official. We have adopted the stray cat that showed up at our place just before we went to Japan over Christmas. You can read about how the cat showed up in this previous post.

The adoption is official because I took the cat to the vet and got it vaccinated and checked out. I tried to find it's owner, but was unsuccessful.

Besides, Tatum has grown on me and he likes me and I like him!

Yes, I said "him!"

At first glance I thought that he was a she because I couldn't see any little manhood things under the tail of Tatum. Did you notice how hairy he is? When I didn't see two little "gum balls" back there, I just assumed that he was a she. When I got him to the vet's office, they looked and told me Tatum was a neutered male.

Whoops, made me feel a little stupid, but who cares. I blamed the amount of hair back there as the culprit to my incorrect call!

Everyone, meaning the rest of the cats, all get along with Tatum except for Lily, who doesn't get along with anyone. She thrives on scarring all the other cats. She'll chase them for no good reason and snickers when they run away in terror. She's a bona fide bully like that.

I named him Tatum when I thought that he was a girl. Dan the Man hates the name now and thinks that we should call him Tator. So he has been called everything from Tatum to Tator to my favorite, Tattee-cakes!

As for goings on here at the ranch, we took a couple of steers to the packer today. We had to have them there by 7:45 am. The packer we took them to is a little over an hour away so we had to load the cattle up in the dark.

Let me tell you it is a little weird loading cattle, mind you black cattle, in the dark. We do have a yard light, but it doesn't really shine too much over by the chutes where we load the cattle onto the stock trailer.

I volunteered to run the cows through the chute and up to the trailer. Dan the Man's job was to slide the trailer door shut as soon as they were safely on the trailer. So there I was walking in the dark behind the cows when all the sudden my foot stepped into something slimy and stinky. I was looking to make sure I didn't step on a land mine such as this, but it was so dark I couldn't see the ground OR the land mines waiting for me.

Eeeww, that was gross.

Oh well, that stuff happens. After we stopped at the house to gather a few things, we were on our way.

EGADS... I just realized we forgot to do one very important safety check before we left. I can't believe after our last episode with the stock trailer and Bridgette that we didn't check to make sure that no cats were in there.

You will all be happy to know, that there wasn't any cats in the trailer when we got to the packers and all are accounted for here at the ranch.

Anyway, next time we see those two steers, they will be tasty steaks and such for you to buy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's National Chocolate Cake Day, oh My! RECIPE: Darn Good Chocolate Cake!

This morning on Facebook, one of my friends posted that today is "National Chocolate Cake Day"!

Who knew? Certainly not me or I would have had it marked on my calendar in bright red ink!

You can bet your bottom dollar it is on my calendar now!

You know what this means don't you?

It means we all have reason to bake a chocolate cake! Yipee!!

I love any holiday so of course I had to participate and bake a chocolate cake!

I made one "Darn Good Chocolate Cake!" The recipe comes from "The Cake Mix Doctor" by Anne Byrn. What? You don't have this recipe book? Well, you'd better saddle up your horse and get yourself to town and buy a copy! It is fantastic.

What, don't tell me you don't have a horse? If that is the case, get your little self on over to and get it ordered. You can have it delivered right to your door.

Darn Good Chocolate Cake
(modified by me because I just can't leave well enough alone!)

1 pkg. plain devil's food cake mix (make sure it doesn't have pudding in the mix)
1 pkg. (3.9 oz) chocolate instant pudding mix
4 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 oil
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, but I use dark chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 35o degrees. Spray a bundt pan with Pam or something like that.
  2. Place all items EXCEPT chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. Beat for 1 minute on slow speed, then beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Scrap the sides of the bowl and beat for another minute.
  3. Stir in the chocolate chips. Batter will be thick. Feel free to taste it as this point with your finger! Yum!
  4. Pour it into your pan and bake for 45 minutes or until done. Do the touch test and see if it springs back when you press on it.
  5. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes or so and then invert it onto a pretty cake plate. Let it cool completely.
  6. At this point it is completely edible. Delicious simply sprinkled with powdered sugar. Or if you want to jazz it up a bit, I like to take 1/2 can of ready-made cream cheese frosting and 1/2 can of chocolate frosting, slightly melt them them separately in the microwave for about 15 seconds. Stir them up, they should be runny, but not too runny. Actually, barely runny is what I would call it. Then drizzle the cream cheese frosting on the cake and then the chocolate frosting. If the frosting starts running off the cake, you microwaved it too long. Too, bad! It takes practice getting it to the right consistency. After you frost it, put it in the refrigerator to set the frosting.
  7. When it is time to serve it, grab a big old glass of milk or cup of coffee and enjoy! YUMMMMMMMMM!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Muffins to Die For: Caramel-Banana Muffins

Okay people.

I found a super delish muffin recipe you must try!

They are so yummy that if I was a dog I would roll over on my back and beg for them.

Just let me say cream cheese, caramel, pecans and bananas!

Found the recipe in the January/February 2010 issue of Midwest Living.

Here is a picture of the ones I made. So far I have eaten four of them in as many hours! I can't believe I just told you that! Oh well, yes, I am a pig.

Please click on the photo for a full screen view of these scrumptious beauties!

Doesn't that just make your mouth water? If so, check out the link to the website.

Caramel-Banana Muffins

I promise you won't be sorry, but you will be sorry if you don't make them!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Goodbye sweet DJ

Today we took sweet little DJ, a bred heifer calf, to the sale barn. Sweet little DJ was born in 2008 to a very special cow known as JD. JD got her name because we bought her from some friends of ours who's names are Joe and Debbie. Since she was Joe and Debbie's cow, she got the name of JD. Get it? Very technical, I know, but sometimes you have to be technical when naming cows! Not really, I'm just joking. So JD's baby was naturally named DJ.

JD, the mama cow, is a special cow here at the Open A Bar 2 Ranch. She is actually owned by STEER Inc. which is a non-profit evangelical, interdenominational, agricultural, mission fund-raising program that we are partnering with to support One-Way Evangelistic Ministries.

Here's how it works in nut shell. We provide feed for, take care of and breed JD every year and she in turn gives birth to a calf. We care for and feed this calf for a year or so and then sell it. The proceeds from the sale of the calf then goes to One-Way Evangelistic Ministries which is a mission that we support. The cycle repeats itself every year. It's a great program and we are blessed to be a part of it.

DJ really isn't a calf anymore. We kept her for an extra year and bred her last summer so she is now a bred heifer. She should sell for more now that she is a bred heifer verses an open heifer or steer that would sale for as a feeder.

A "bred heifer" is a girl cow that is pregnant with her first baby.

If you are a "heifer," you've never given birth to a calf.

"Open" means the cow is not pregnant.

A "steer" is a boy calf that has had his "man-hood" taken away. Know what I mean?

A "feeder" is a calf that gets sold to a feedlot and is fattened-up and is turned into hamburger and steaks!

There's a quick little lesson for you none cattle people.

Bye, Bye DJ, we'll miss you!
Hope you get a nice new home!

If you want to read more about STEER Inc. here is their website:

Read more about One Way Evangelistic Ministries at their website:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baby Pillows

I finally have managed to squeeze a couple of hours in my studio and painted some of my personalized baby pillows. I had a couple of them ordered from my Ebay store and then I did one for a friend of ours who had a baby in December. I thought I would share some pictures of two of them with you. These are so adorable and make such a unique gift and keepsake. The middle panel is entirely handpainted.

This first one is my peter rabbit pillow.

This one is my classic pooh pillow.

If you would like one for you little one or would like one to give as a gift, just let me know!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bridgette's Harrowing Adventure

Bridgette, aka Bridgy-boo-boo and Boo

Poor Bridgy-boo-boo had quite the adventure today.

First thing on today's agenda was to take the heifer calves to the vet and get their bangs vaccinations.

Bangs vaccinations, for brucellosis in cattle, are required in the states of Colorado and Wyoming if you want to sell or import any cattle into those states. Since we live so close to both of these states, we always bangs vaccinate our heifers. The process requires a shot, an ear tattoo and a bangs tag in the heifer's ear. We had 11 heifers that we took in today.

We started gathering up the calves this morning just before 8 am. Our appointment at the vets was at 10 am. Dan the Man wanted to start early incase we had any troubles rounding up the little ladies. They aren't quite as familiar with the "rounding-up" process as the cows are so sometimes they think it is just a game of tag and Dan the Man and I are "it!" Thankfully today they were pretty good except a few who wanted to see if they could outrun the four wheeler. Those little turds eventually came to the realization that Dan the Man was the "Evel Knievel" of four wheelers and they were going to have to sprout wheels on their hoofs or wings on their backs if they were going to out run him.

With all the little ladies in the corral, it was time to load them up on the trailer. That went without a hitch (no pun intended) and it was only 8:30 am. Record time! Now we had several minutes to kill since we didn't need to leave until 9:30 am. Dan the Man and I went into the house to kill some time until it was time to leave. It wasn't going to hurt the little ladies to stand around in the trailer and wait.

We drove to Torrington, which is where our vet is. It's about 25 miles from our place to the vet's office. When we got there, Dan the Man instructed me to get out of the truck and direct him back to the loading chute. So I got out and walked to the back of the trailer. For a second I thought I heard a cat crying.

Hmmmm, that was weird... I thought I heard... wait, there it is again!
I swear I hear a cat crying... wonder where it is?

Now the cries were getting desperate as I approached the back of the trailer.

Sounds like the cries are coming from INSIDE the trailer!

Surely one of my cats is NOT in that trailer with the calves!?!?

As I get to the back gate of the trailer, there is no denying that a cat is in that trailer with the 11 calves. Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me!

I peer inside the trailer and can't see anything, but can definitely hear the cat. Luckily there is a sliding door on the back gate that I was able to slide open just enough for the cat to come flying out into my arms and still keep the calves inside the trailer.

Meanwhile, Dan the Man is wondering what in the world is taking me so long to direct him back! I'm sure Dan the Man was thinking "Doesn't she know that I can't see her directing if she stands directly behind the trailer?" Getting impatient he starts to inch his way back. I yell at him to stop and tell him that one of the cats got in the trailer.

Oh, poor Bridgy-boo-boo. What in tarnations were you doing in there? Come here my sweetie. Poor, poor kitty.

Thankfully she wasn't hurt, just full of poop! And I mean full of it. She was crawling all over me and getting it all over me as well. I took her to the truck and put her in the back of the cab. Then proceeded to direct Dan the Man back to the chute. Meanwhile Bridgette was crawling all over the inside of the cab with her poopy paws getting poop all over. Dan the Man told me to take her inside and clean her up before I put her back into the cab.

So I take her inside the vet's office and got some papertowels and tried to clean her the best I could. Poor Boo was ready to go home right then and there but we still had to get the little ladies vaccinated. So back in the cab she went until it was time to head back home.

Wow, would she have a tale to tell! I have no idea what possessed her to get into that trailer with the calves in the first place. It is a true miracle that she wasn't injured much less killed.

Bridgette back home safe and sound!

This reminds me of another cat we had who went on a similar adventure and lived to tell about it. A couple of years ago Dan the Man was hauling hay to Ft. Collins which is 135 miles from here. When he got to Centennial Livestock Auction, where he was hauling the hay to, he heard the cry of a cat and realized that it was coming from within the hay that he was hauling. He knew right away that it was one of our cats.

As Dan the Man and the guy from Centennial started to unload the hay with the bobcat, Dan the Man told the guy running the bobcat that they needed to be careful because one of my cats was in the load. So they carefully started to unload the bales. Dan the Man told the guy unloading that they were going to have to make sure that they caught the cat and didn't let it run away. He said he would be as "good as dead" if he didn't come back home with the cat! Dan the Man also told the guy something to the effect that "you don't know my wife!"

Anyway, the guy must have felt some sympathy for Dan the Man because between the two of them, they caught the cat. It was Leonna, Dan the Man's favorite cat of the 5 sisters. She must have crawled on the load before Dan the Man left and then couldn't get off fast enough before it was too late.

How this cat survived the ride to Ft. Collins I'll never know. We are talking 135 miles riding on the hay going 65-70 mph down the interstate! She must have gotten herself wedged between the bales is all I can figure out!

What a long day for poor Leonna. They must have left around noon and got back around 6:30 pm that night. Sweet little Leonna, she looked like a little lioness. A few months after that we found her dead just outside the house. Looked as if something must have killed her like an owl. What ever it was, it wasn't big enough to drag her away. We were crushed. Out of the 5 sisters, she is the only one that we have lost. After the hay episode, we always check our hay loads for cats.

After today's episode we will be checking the stock trailer for cats as well.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Beautiful Sunset

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a beautiful ending to a beautiful day.

Click on the picture for a full screen version,
they are beautiful full sized.
Then click on your brower's back button to return to the blog.

“Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal.” ~Elbert Hubbard

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Movin' Hay

A Day in the Life of the Country Chicken Girl
January 16, 2010

The Stack to be moved

Today's chore was to move a stack of hay from one place that we farm, known as Buzz's place, to our home place. Since the weather was so nice, Dan the Man wanted to get some hay over here for the calves before the next storm so we don't have to move hay in crummy weather. Actually, if it snows too much, we can't move hay because we can't get into the fields where it is stacked.

Loading three bales at a time

What I see from the truck driver's view

Dan the Man

Are we done yet?

At least the scenery is awesome! Two hawks in their tree.

99 bales of hay in the stack, 99 bales of hay, take three down, load them on the trailer, 96 bales of hay in the stack!

Wake me when it's time to go!

Strap them bales on!

I guess if I help it would go faster!

I have to tell you about the time that Dan the Man thought we really didn't need to strap down the bales. The dirt roads were really muddy and we were going to haul bales from Buzz's place to the home place which is about 4 1/2 miles away. He thought it would be best to go on the highway since the dirt roads were so muddy. He instructed me (the truck driver) just to take it slow and easy and I shouldn't lose any bales. And we probably won't see any cops. (It is against the law to haul bales without strapping them down.)

So I head out on the highway, nice and easy, so I don't dump the load. Dan the Man follows me in the tractor. Just as I am coming over a hill I see a state trooper turn onto the highway. "Great!" I think, "Maybe he won't notice that I don't have this load strapped!" We proceeded to get closer to each other and my palms were sweating! As we passed, I smiled weakly at him and give him the "head nod" that means "hey" from one trucker to another. After we had passed each other, I looked in my rear view mirror and he was already hitting his brakes and turning around.

When he started his lights flashing, I started looking for a place to pull over. "Man, that shoulder looks really wet! Wonder if I should pull off here." Meanwhile the trooper is on my tail with this lights flashing. I panic and decide I'd better pull over right now. So I take it "nice and easy" and ease onto the shoulder. "Oh, that didn't feel so good, felt like I sunk quite a bit!"

Dan the Man showed up in the tractor about half way through my conversation with Mr. Trooper. I don't remember how our whole conversation went, but I do remember him saying, "Well, I'm going to have to give you a ticket because you didn't strap your load" and me replying "Well, tell him!" as Dan the Man was walking up behind Mr. Trooper. So Mr. Trooper says to Dan the Man, "I'm going to have to give her the ticket since she was driving!"

Then Mr. Trooper proceeded to keep us longer by checking our fuel tank to make sure we weren't using farm diesel in the pickup truck, which we weren't and don't do. That too is against the law and carries a pretty hefty fine. Mr. Trooper tried for about 10 minutes to get his dip stick down into our tank, but couldn't get it in there so he finally took our word for it. Then he left.

Dan the Man looked at the truck and trailer and said, "You shouldn't have pulled off here." The tires were sunk in the mud about 12 inches deep. He was afraid to try to drive out because if the truck or trailer slid we would lose the whole load in the borrow pit. Luckily we had a tow strap in the truck that he could use to pull the truck and trailer with the tractor. He just said, "I hope the tow strap doesn't break." "Great!" I thought, "This is going to be fun... not!" And it wasn't fun at all, actually it was a little terrifying! My knuckles were as white as a ghost on the steering wheel as I tried to steer out of that mess as the tractor pulled me.

After a few death defying moments, we finally were back on the road, but not with the help of Mr. Trooper. We couldn't believe that he didn't stick around to at least stop traffic was we were trying to get out. We were taking up both lanes of the highway. So much for "to serve and protect." Guess lunch was more important for Mr. Trooper.

"Thanks for nothing Mr. Trooper!"

"Uh... just kidding Officer!"

Then there was this other time when Dan the Man was taking a load of round bales to Lyman which is about 4 miles away. I don't remember how he did it, but somehow (probably because he didn't have the load strapped down) he dumped half the load on the highway going around a corner. He unhooked the trailer, left the load in the road and drove home to get the tractor so he could reload the bales. When he got home, he instructed me to take the truck back to the catastrophe site so the bales wouldn't look like they had been abandoned and wait for him to come in the tractor which was going to take a while to drive all the way there.

I really wasn't wanting to go sit there by myself and look like an idiot, but what's a Country Chicken Girl to do when the boss says to jump! So reluctantly I drove there and sat by the bales and waited. Of course you can guess that everyone that I knew and their dog drove by and had to stop and ask me what happened. They all thought that I was the one driving the truck and I was the stupid woman driver who dumped the load going too fast around the corner and why didn't I have the load strapped down?! I quickly explained the whole situation to them, especially the part that Dan the Man was the one who was hauling this load. And those who didn't stop, I'm sure were thinking "Stupid woman drivers!"

I was mad at Dan the Man for quite awhile after that.

We now strap our loads ALL the time!!

Meanwhile back at the home place, we had to unload the bales.

Here comes help from the cows!

Meanwhile on the other side... more help!

Let me help you with that!

Calf standing on top of a bale.

And that's another day in the life of the Country Chicken Girl.

Ya'll come back now, ya hear?