Tag Archives: ranch life

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Mother Nature Delivers What I NEEDle

We are accustomed to doing without some conveniences out here in the country.   Oh, we have running water, but in the past when I’ve needed capers or a specific garden tool, we were miles away from getting what we needed when we needed it.  When we finally finished the bank project (A RE-purposeful Life), I wanted to make sure my new plants got the water they needed, and my husband suggested pine mulch to keep the ground moist.  Of course, there is not a nursery that sells pine mulch for miles, but I knew exactly where I could get it locally.

Lots of trees waiting to make their yearly delivery of leaves and needles in the fall.

Our road is lined with a variety of trees.  Leaves, pine cones, and pine needles cover both sides of our street every spring, and I hesitantly rake them up while fearing what animal I might disrupt from its rest. This time I gathered a rake and the wheel barrow and headed up the road to gather a couple of loads of pine needles without fear.  I was on a mission.  Unfortunately, I underestimated the number of loads I would need for my project, Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Mother Nature Delivers What I NEEDle

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Bye, Bye,…..BUY (our goats)

This trailer contains years of work, frustration, and joy, but it is time for these guys to go.

This week eleven goats waited patiently in two horse stalls to be hauled to the livestock auction while another family of three cruised the pasture.  We spent last week trying to catch them all and get them contained in one place eventually building a chute to guide them into the barn.

Three to go.

No wait.  What’s that?  Remember that big, mean brown goat that I managed to capture by the horns and guide into a stall?  The one that I eventually let out because he was crying?  I saw it walking down the fence row.  Wait.  And there’s another. And another.  I stepped up to the window and saw one of the barn doors on the ground.  Seven goats had escaped!

It was Thursday night.  The auction was Friday night.  We had work to do.  I can not put down the details of the three hours, but I am sure that any divorce court judge would side with me if I filed for divorce over the goat herding debacle.  However, after the long, humid evening, we had twelve goats locked in one horse stall.  The two that still eluded us were the twins, Susan and Elizabeth.  Their mother was with the other eleven, so we hoped they would come up to the barn on their own.  It didn’t happen.

Goats in Trailer
The goats receive number tags in the trailer before they are released.

Finally, auction night had arrived.  Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: Bye, Bye,…..BUY (our goats)

Meanwhile Back at The Ranch: Life is TWO Good

If you asked me if I liked even or odd numbers, I would say “odd.”  There is something about the numbers one, three, and five that intrigue me.  You would never know this fact based on what’s going on out here at the ranch.

Cats: When we moved to the country in 2004 we brought along our two cats.  Of course, back then we were “city” people, and I won’t even begin to tell you the exorbitant amount of money that was spent on each of them.  A third cat eventually joined the group but died of an unknown illness.  Really, I insisted on an autopsy…of a cat…and the findings were indeterminate.  We were left with two.

Horses: Our Mustang, Jet, came to live with us because our neighbors had one too many horses.  We were clueless new horse owners, but our friends are very experienced and have followed through on their promise to guide us in the right direction.  “The right direction” included buying a horse friend for Jet.  Roxy came to live with us just a few months after Jet’s arrival.  It was great fun watching them get to know each other while they lived in the midst of all the goats.

Cats….again: Last summer my husband brought home two three week old kittens who had lost their mother.  He claimed we needed barn cats.  Here’s a little secret….we didn’t have a barn.  We nursed them along and let them stay in the garage with a heat lamp during this cold winter.  They are our outside cats.  They enjoy bird watching and hopping in my car when I am late for work. Continue reading Meanwhile Back at The Ranch: Life is TWO Good

Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: It’s Not Always Blue Skies And Rainbows-Part One

I'm no veterinarian, but I think she's expecting.

For weeks I’ve gone to the goat shed to feed, and I’ve had my eye on a couple of goats that were pregnant.  My mind was made up that I was going to make a documentary of them having the babies if I was home when they were delivered.  I even looked up all the pictures that I could find on the Internet to see if I could handle what I was actually going to witness when a goat gave birth.  How was I going to create something that did not have the feel of either Paranormal Activity or The Office? As it turns out, I missed all three deliveries.  Yep, three.  I was not prepared for the aftermath.

I had used my pregnant goats as a lure to teach my kids how great research could be.  One student asked me how I knew a goat was pregnant. My reply was that it looked like a chair was sideways in its stomach.  It was “just a feeling.”  At the end of the lesson I showed them all a picture of the suspect.  They agreed that I was probably right.  For two weeks every day my students asked me if my kids had arrived.  They hadn’t.  The momentum was dying down and I was beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen.  It was about then that I realized there were three pregnant females on the premises.  My students were so excited. I even got emails from parents inquiring about the event!

One Saturday I took off for an evening with some friends and left Greg at home to feed.  Not thirty-five minutes after I left home, he called me to say that one of the goats had just given birth to twins.  I’d missed it!  This was compounded by the fact that the other one looked like she would give birth within twenty-four hours.  A few hours later I called to make sure Greg had set up the heat lamps at the shed, and he informed me that we already had another set of twins!

The next morning I bundled up to head out into the below freezing weather to check on our new additions. Even though I’d missed the birth, I was armed with my camera.  I was also carrying some compost pile material, so I separated from my husband to head in that direction first.  I was not expecting the sound of distress that came out of his mouth, but when I looked in his direction, I understood.  Maybe three feet from a heat lamp lay one of new baby’s lifeless little bodies.  It was small and deflated as if Life had spent little time there.  I could barely even see it.  He hurried past it to the next pen where he found the same haunting image:  one of the twins from the other doe, just a few feet away from warmth, was also dead.

Continue reading Meanwhile, Back at The Ranch: It’s Not Always Blue Skies And Rainbows-Part One

2011 Ranch Hand Guide: #5. You Can’t Keep Trouble From Visitin’, But You Don’t Have To Offer It a Chair

The country life is so different from the life I lived in the city.  The one thing both places have in common is they both have their own kind of trouble. Some of it just shows up and is hard to avoid, yet there is that certain kind of trouble that we bring on ourselves.  I guess I need to rely on one of our former presidents Teddy Roosevelt for some help with this one:  If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.

The Seed

One of the worst situations I can recall since I’ve been living out in the country happened the summer my dog, Mae (Pay It Forward), made her appearance on our front porch.  It never occurred to me that a mean dog could show up as well.  One rainy afternoon, a full-grown pit bull appeared in our backyard.

We called the police (it’s a small town…that’s what you do), and the policeman told me that they had recently passed a law banning pit bulls in my county unless the owners complied with the provisions stated in the resolution; I lived on the county line, and the policeman guessed that someone had just traveled there to get rid of the dog to avoid the $100,000 liability insurance required to keep it.

The policeman stated that the dog appeared to have been abused and was a trained fighter.  I was scared and sick to my stomach when I heard the gunshot in the dark.  The policeman guessed how upset I would be.  He came in and told me how sorry he was that he had to put that poor stray down in my yard.  It had attacked his partner. Trouble visited that night, and it was something that I could not control.  (Note:  I have nothing against pit bulls.  This dog just happened to be one of the many unlucky pit bulls that had a heartless owner.)


My dog, Mae, spent her first summer with me as an outside dog, but because we don’t have a fenced yard, we decided to kennel her when I went back to work.  We still spent lots of time outside, so when she took an interest in the farm road in front of our house, I saw how Trouble was interested in visiting again.  My dog was great, but she was stubborn and would not come when I called her.  She thought it was a game and would run away…sometimes down the middle of the road.  I can’t tell you how many times I would have to stand in the middle of the road hoping the cars saw me just so I could protect her.  I know.  That was stupid.  I realized I was offering Trouble a chair by continuing to overlook this flaw in my dog.  No.  It was a flaw in how I trained my dog.  This was my fault because she was my responsibility.

Continue reading 2011 Ranch Hand Guide: #5. You Can’t Keep Trouble From Visitin’, But You Don’t Have To Offer It a Chair