Monday, April 25, 2011

Mama Didn't EVER Say There'd Be Days Like This...

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...

Chicks now 12 days old.
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.

One of the calves born on Easter day.

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