Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
My mama never told me there would be days like the ones we have been having here on the ranch.
Maybe because my mama never dreamed I marry some back-woodsman known as Dan the Man, live in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, raise 4 boys, run a herd a cattle, raise 3600 chickens and wear Groucho Marx glasses!
I guess you could say things have been a "little" crazy around here, not running as smoothly as I would like, but that is how things operate around here and I am learning that this type of day-to-day chaos is completely normal. Even though I know this is how things operate when you are dealing with cattle and chickens... I still want to be the one who is in control!
The chicks are finally doing well. See...
See how their wing feathers are coming in?
Coming out of the brooder now to eat.
We had another interesting episode the other night concerning the chicks. Around 11 pm our power went off. It was cold, windy and starting to rain. No power meant no lights on in the brooder to keep the poor little chicks warm. As if they hadn't already gone through enough. Geez! So I got on the phone and called the power company to see what was up. They were already on it and on the way out to check things out. When the power goes out in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, you never know exactly how long it is going to be out for.
Last year during the football season, Morril was playing Imperial at Morrill, when during the 2nd quarter (I think) the power went out. It was completely dark on the field since it was a night game. We sat and sat and sat in the dark waiting... nothing. Complete darkness enveloped the field. To make the long story short, an owl had flown into one of the transformers causing a very large area of Morrill and Mitchell to lose their power. We ended up having to drive all the way to Torrington, which is in Wyoming and 20 miles away to finish the game that night.
Anyway, back to life here on the ranch. Where was I, oh yes, the power went off, no lights for the chicks. Not knowing how long the power would be off for, Dan the Man announced that we would have to get out of bed, get dressed and go set up the generator to run the power to the brooder so the chicks would stay warm. Thank God we have a generator, or I am not sure what we would have done. So... up out of bed, get dressed and head out into the cold, wet, dark night. Thankfully, I have gone through enough of these "middle of the night with no lights" crisis, that I know where the flashlights are and make sure they all have working batteries. That lesson about "always knowing where the flashlights are" and to "make sure we have batteries for them" only took me about 5 years to learn.
It only took us about 20 minutes to drag out the generator, fill it with gas (once again I was very thankful that we actually HAD gas to put in the generator!) and get the brooder's electricity hooked up to it. At least the chicks would be nice and warm for the night if the power did not come back on. So then it was off the bed and back to sleep... or so I thought.
Once Dan the Man wakes up in the middle of the night, he has a hard time falling back to sleep because his mind starts thinking about everything we need to get done, or he decides to totally revamp our farming operation in his mind... That night he tossed and turned in bed thinking about how we really needed a generator to run our huge freezer in which we keep all of our chicken and beef in. We would really be out a large amount of money and product if that freezer ever went down for a long period of time.
We flirted with a similar disaster last year when our previous freezer conked-out. Thankfully we have several great neighbors who were willing to share any extra freezer space that they had with us. That was fun (NOT), transferring all of our stuff to other people's freezers until we got ours fixed, and then having to go pickup all the stuff after it was fixed.
The power finally came back on around 12:30 pm, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
Sunday, as in Easter, was another "trying" day. Chris had come home for the weekend and Skyler and he had gone to a friends house Saturday night with a curfew that Dan the Man had given them. Shortly after we had gone to bed, Chris comes home asking for some jumper cables to help a friend who couldn't get his truck started. After getting the cables and waking us up from a dead sleep, he was off again. Soon the curfew approached and the boys did not come home. Dan the Man was now wide awake wondering where they were. I too, because of Dan the Man, was wide awake, but trying my hardest to stay half asleep but Dan the Man insisted that we call them and see where they were. I say "we call them" because this is how it goes...
Dan the Man: You need to call Chris on your cell phone and see where they are.
Country Chicken Girl: okay.
Dan the Man can't call because he doesn't have a cell phone and he doesn't (or pretends he doesn't) know how to use one, so I have to dial the cell phone and then hand it to him so he can "do the talking." I know it us pointless for me to "dp the talking" because Dan the Man will sit there and tell me exactly what to say. It's much easier if I just hand him the phone. Of course Chris doesn't pick up his phone and it goes to his voice mail.
Dan the Man to Chris' cell: Chris, this is Danny. Where are you? You need to be getting home now.
Dan the Man to Country Chicken Girl: He didn't answer. I wonder what they are doing.
After several minutes of irritated grunting and tossing and turning Dan the Man tells the Country Chicken Girl to dial Skyler's cell phone number. Of course, Skyler's phone goes straight to voice mail too.
Dan the Man: Skyler, this is your dad. You guys are suppose to be home by now... Where are you and what are you doing.
Dan the Man: I can't believe they are not answering their phones. (more grunts of disgust!)
He lays back down but of course continues to grunt, moan, groan, toss and turn. So much for sleeping as I lie there WIDE AWAKE now.
Fifteen minutes later...
Dan the Man: You need to text Chris and see if he will answer. (At least he knows the term is "text" and not "tech" which is what Dan the Man's father use to say! LOL)
Sometimes our cell service is not the greatest out here in the middle of nowhere Nebraska, so it is a possibility that they were somewhere that they don't get "talking" service, but can still receive text messages.
Just as I am completing the text message, Chris calls saying that they will be home shortly. Good, maybe I can get some sleep as soon as they get home.
After they got home, I waited for Dan the Man to finally fall back to sleep, but he continued to toss and turn. I wondered what he was thinking about this time.
Soon I found myself having wild dreams about foxes in the hen house, a stray herd of cattle on the lose causing havoc with our cattle and finally a grizzly bear causing calamity in the neighborhood. So much for a restful night of sleep.
My alarm went off at 5 am. Yay, it was Easter Sunday! But I had a lot to accomplish before church so I needed to get up and get going. Dan the Man got up around 6 am so he could get all the chores done before we left for church. After an hour or so outside, he comes back in and announces that 3 new calves were born and there seemed to be a little confusion between the cows as to what calf was whose. Also one of the cows hadn't cleaned or done anything with her calf. The weather was cold and rainy and if he didn't get that calf dried and warmed-up, it wasn't going to make it. He also had to figure out which pairs belonged to each other since the cows were acting like they didn't know. There was only an hour left before we had to leave for church, so it didn't look like Dan the Man was going to make it.
That's the way the ball rolls out here and on most farms and ranching across the world. Just when you think things are under control, something happens. It is almost impossible to operate on any certain schedule, because you are not in control of so many different variables. I am slowly learning this harsh reality, but I still do not like it.
Oh and by the way, while the boys and I were at church, another calf was born.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
It would appear that we are finally getting everything under control after the not so great start that we had. If you don't know what I am talking about, then you need to read the previous post.
We are implementing two new components to our "nursery" this year. In the "BIG Brooder" we are using an "Ohio Brooder" which I will explain in an upcoming post and we are also installing an automatic watering system in the brooder.
Although the weekend was a tough one concerning the chicks, it also had its bright spots as well. Here are two of the bright spots.
Colton and Skyler's grandparents came for a visit so they could see Skyler's all-school play and look what they brought and then left behind for us! I highly recommend these! They are yummy and addictive! I think they get them at COSCO.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Wow, that title certainly tells it like it is. No sugar-coating it around here today.
Like I said, the chicks were suppose to arrive on Friday morning, but on Thursday night, Central Nebraska had a spring blizzard that dumped several inches of snow causing I-80 to close for over 16 hours. I had been tracking the storm on Thursday night, via facebook friends that lived in Central Nebraska and one friend in particular that was actually stranded on the interstate for about 5 hours. I was worried about the chicks when I went to bed, but figured the interstate would be open come morning time. We didn't get any of the snow, just some rain.
When I woke in the morning, I checked the road conditions and found out that the interstate was still closed! I called our post office and asked if they knew anything about my chicks and they told me I should "backtrack" their route by calling the post offices where the mail stops. I was thinking that if they made it to at least Alliance which is 60 miles from here, I would go pick them up myself. So I called Alliance and they told me that they would actually be coming from North Platte straight into Scottsbluff which is only 20 miles from here. So I called Scottsbluff and they couldn't really tell me anything except that the interstate was closed and the truck had not left North Platte. I told the guy I was really concerned about my chicks and he told me that someone else also had chicks on that truck and had already inquired about it. Then I told him I had 400 chicks on that truck. "Oh, geez..." is what he said. Now THAT was comforting.
Well, there wasn't much for me to do except to stand by and wait for good news about the road. So wait I did... and wait... and wait... and worry... and worry...
I checked the internet every hour to see if the interstate was open yet.
I called the post office in Scottsbluff again around 1 pm and asked if they had heard anything at all. He said that they hadn't. He also said that if it got too late in the day, they would not send the truck even if the interstate opened. It was beginning to look more and more like I would not be getting the chicks until Saturday morning. I should have asked the guy at the post office what time "too late" was.
We had planned on going to Skyler's school play that night which started at 7:30 pm. I figured the chicks would come while we were at the play. Finally around 3 pm, the interstate was opened. Hallelujah! Now the question was... was it "too late" or would the truck still come. I made Dan the Man call the post office this time, since I figured the man there was getting tired of me asking him questions he didn't have the answers for.
When Dan called, the guy said that yes, the truck had left and would arrive in Scottsbluff around 7 pm and we could come pickup the chicks at the post office if we wanted to, otherwise, they would be delivered to the Lyman post office in the morning. Dan told him we would be there to meet the truck. For the health of the chicks we knew we couldn't wait until morning. Besides, we had the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market to get ready for in the morning.
So we anxiously awaited the chicks arrival. We showed up at the post office at 6:30 pm. We wanted to make sure we were there when the truck got there because the guy at the post office said they would not wait for us if we weren't there. I noticed another vehicle sitting in the "back lot" of the post office and it appeared as if they were waiting too. Must have been the other person who also had chicks on that truck.
At just a few minutes after 7 pm, the truck rolled in. Ah... relief, but what kind of condition would the chicks be in? It took them several minutes, probably 20 or so, to unload the truck which gave us sometime to talk with the other gal waiting for her chicks. She had 25 egg layers, her children's 4-H projects, on the truck and her children were anxiously awaiting in her van. I was really hoping that her chicks were all okay. What a disappointment for the kids if they weren't. Hers were also coming from Iowa, so they had been hatched on Wednesday as well.
When we finally got the chicks, we loaded them all up in the back seat of the truck. It was going to be a noisy drive back home, the 20 miles with 400 chicks peeping at the tops of their lungs. But I didn't mind, at least there was some peeping going on.
We got home around 8 pm and took them straight into the brooder and began taking them out one by one and dipping each beak into the water to get them to drink right away. Dan did 200 and I did 200. It was amazing that only 8 had perished during the trip, but it was also apparent that several of them were very stressed. I suspect that they spent the majority of their down time in North Platte on the truck in the freezing cold. Poor babies.
After we had all the beaks dipped we continued to stay with them in the brooder to see how they were going to do. It was going to be a long night. After the first hour we had lost about 20. I couldn't take it any longer, it was breaking my heart, and left Dan the Man and came into the house. There isn't anything worse than watching them die and not being able to do anything for them. We were doing all we could do, but it just wasn't enough.
Dan came in about 45 minutes later. Wasn't much we could do, but pray and hope for the best come morning.
Morning came and I dreadfully went out to the brooder to check on the chicks. I really didn't want to face what I knew was inevitable. 60 dead and a few more that I knew were not strong enough to make it. I felt like puking. We have never experienced a death loss like this. I am not cut out for this. My heart was aching deep within.
I wasn't worried so much about the financial loss, or production loss, but the senselessness of the situation and my helplessness. And to put more agony on the situation, we had to go to the winter farmers market and would not be able to monitor their condition for a good part of the day. Ugh... but I guess that wouldn't have mattered. The ones that were stressed were going to die regardless if I was there to watch them or not.
We did have one ray of sunshine Saturday morning. The first calf of the season was born during the night and was up and nursing on his mama! A healthy little bull calf!!
As of Monday morning it would appear that the death loss had pretty much evened out. Those who were too stressed to make it have perished. We've lost a total of 133 chicks. The hatchery is refunding us the cost of those chicks which we have lost, but we will not be able to replace that number into our production this year. Since we are on such a tight schedule and limited on the number of chicks that we can brood at one time, we are not able to re-order that number. Do you know what I mean? We'll just be out that many.
But, that is the way the ball rolls out here. Life goes on. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. It's not the first "disaster" we've had and it won't be the last. When you are dealing with life, anything can happen and does. But knowing that in my heart, doesn't make it any easier to deal with the loss of a life. The only thing that keeps me going is that I know that my God is in control, not me.
He Maketh No Mistake
My Father's way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache,
But in my soul I'm glad I know
He maketh no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My hopes may fade away,
But still I'll trust my Lord to lead,
For He doth know the way.
Though night be dark and it may seem
That day will never break,
I'll pin my faith, my all in Him,
He maketh no mistake.
There's so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight's far too dim;
But come what may, I'll surely trust
And leave it all to Him.
For by and by the mist will lift
And plain it all He'll make;
Through all the way, though dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
(A. M. Overton)
Thursday, April 14, 2011
City: _________________ State: _____ Zip: _______
Please indicate how many chickens you would like from each batch.
____ Batch 2 (Mid July)
____ Batch 3 (Mid August)
____ Batch 4 (Mid September)
____ Batch 5 (Mid October)
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Dan the Man and I were working on one of the brooders today in preparation of the 400 chicks that will be arriving on Friday.
We realized that as with all projects that we do, we didn't have all the material that we thought we needed and would have to make a trip into town for supplies.
I hate that... especially with the price of gas right now. Twenty miles to town also means an automatic hour of the day spent traveling to and from town. Plus the time that it takes to get what you went for.
No wonder we never get anything accomplished around here!
Anyway, as we were walking to the house to get ready to go to town, I was surveying the yard as I normally do, to see what the chickens (egg layers) were up to. The girls were up to their usual antics, digging in my flower beds, scratching all the mulch out of my flower beds, reeking havoc in my FLOWER BEDS... when all the sudden I spied three very large looking chickens!
They certainly don't look like any of my hens!
Well, holy cannoli... those aren't chickens, them there birds are TURKEYS!!
I ran into the house to get my camera and then Dan the Man and I managed to chase the turkeys all the way around the house. Dan the Man was hoping we could corral them into the chicken yard, but they were smarter than that! The made a bee-line for the county road and headed south. Just as they made it up onto the county road a vehicle came down the road. The turkeys ran down the middle of the road in front of the truck for a little ways before they decided to make a break for the borrow pit. Wish I had my camera set on video for that, it was quite humorous!
Later on, I happened to be talking on the phone with my neighbor who lives south of us and mentioned the turkeys to her. We hardly ever... well I should say, this is the first time we have EVER seen wild turkeys on our place. Cori, my neighbor said they were in her yard a couple hours after we spotted them here at our place. Cori lives about a mile south of us. She was just as surprised to see them as we were!
Such excitement here in the neighborhood! Did any of my other neighbors see them?
THE END... and no, I did not proof read this, so deal with the typos. Thank you and good night.
Friday, April 8, 2011
You can watch them in any order. If you are a cat person, you might enjoy watching mine first.
If you are a dog person, perhaps you might want to start off with viewing that one first.
Some of you may have already seen the dog video. It was circulating on Facebook. I thought it was extremely entertaining, and it is what gave me the idea to do my video.
Enjoy, and hope these help to brighten your day.
Warning, the first video contains pictures of some hideous green carpet that desperately need to be replaced!
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Here is my cat Tatum, aka Taytee, aka Tator, aka Taytee-Cakes...
Don't know Taytee's story, will click here and here if you are curious.
Curiosity killed the cat, but it won't kill you if you click on the above links.
Back to Tay-tee, my main squeeze! He's my main squeeze because there is so MUCH of him to squeeze!
Tatee-Cakes likes to wear the Groucho Marx
glasses just like I do!
I was teaching him Native American sign language
the other day.
We were working on "HOW" like as
in a greeting...
I haven't done a Wednesday Morning Inspiration in a long while. I have no excuse, except for being lazy and not being in the word as often as I should be.
I started this yesterday, Wednesday, but forgot about it, so I know it's Thursday and not Wednesday, but hey, this is my blog and I can do what I want, right?
Anyway, this is one of my current favorite songs. Love it. Please listen to it.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
14For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died;
15and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.
What are you relying on to enter heaven? Do you think that if you are generally a good person, then you will be allowed in? Do you think that your salvation has to do with the good works that you do while you are here on the earth?
If this is what you think, then you need to read God's word, the bible and realize that it is Christ's death, burial and resurrection that saves us from an eternity in hell. Christ has done the work, you just need to trust and believe in Christ.
Monday, April 4, 2011
Because every once in a while
I find one of these half-pint sized eggs in the coop.
See the little blue-green one?
It's a chicken egg,
not a robin egg.
So what am I suppose to do with that little egg?
I guess this is one idea?!
Are you smiling?
The flag at Perkins in Scottsbluff is magnificent! Truly breathtaking. I took these pictures on Saturday, April 2nd, after the Scottsbluff Winter Farmers Market. Perkins is right next to the Hampton Inn, where we have the winter market. The wind was blowing perfectly to hold the flag out in all its glory.
I was thinking this morning that I wanted to put the pictures of the flag on the blog, but wanted to know more about the flag itself. So of course I googled "how big is the perkins flag?" I only found a few results which only heightened my curiosity as to how big that flag is.
So I called the restaurant and asked for the manager, who was not in yet. They said to call back around 8 am so I am writing some of this now, while I am waiting for 8 am to roll around.
I hope they have the answers to my questions, because I would really like to know the following:
- How big is the flag?
- How much does a flag that size cost?
- How often do you replace it?
- How many people does it take to lower and raise the flag?
That is really a sight to behold.
Flying at half mast, it appears that much larger.
Waiting, waiting, waiting until 8 am.
I just took a drink of my coffee and missed the majority of my mouth causing coffee to dribble on my beautiful mint green fluffy robe. Oh dear, I hope it doesn't stain!
Wow, this is going to be a long 20 minutes.
Oh, hey, look at this picture I have, speaking of big flags!
This is the home of Paul Christian in Mitchell, NE (my hometown).
The house is located right on Broadway which is also HWY 26,
the main road that goes through town.
I took this picture in 2009.
They put up this flag for every 4th of July.
I love it. I wonder what the story behind this flag is?
Okay so I just got done talking to Luke Hale, one of the assistant managers at Perkins and this is what he told me.
- How big is the flag? 25' x 30'
- How much does a flag that size cost? around $500
- How often do you replace it? maybe once a year
- How many people does it take to lower and raise the flag? two or three depending on how windy it is.
Luke told me that there is a seamstress in town that repairs the flag on a regular basis and that is why they don't have to replace it more often. Luke didn't know who she was. Anybody out there know who this Betsy Ross of Scottsbluff is? Can you imagine sewing that?
Well, now I know. I guess I can go on with my day now.