Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Catching the Cow Story

This year we found out that we own the smartest cow in all of North America. As this cow grazed on the fresh grasses of summer time, she put on a beautiful amount of weight but unfortunately in the end, it didn't matter .
Butchering date for both the pigs and the cows arrived in the middle of November. Since we don't have an animal barn, cornering and capturing the animals and then luring them onto the back of a trailer becomes quite an adventure. Its all "hands on deck" as we coral the animals and usually the man we hire to bring the animals to the butchers is relieved when he is done with our family's hobby farm. A series of mishaps from year to year has led to a certain dread of this day. This year, however, Adam built two pens at the back of the field and fed the animals there for some weeks before butchering date arrived so that the animals would be familiar to the area.
This year, without any trouble, all of the animals were caught, cornered, and corralled; ready to load onto the truck. For once the pigs behaved beautifully and walked right up the ramp into the back of the trailer. With a big relieved smile, we turned to the cows. 
This is when chaos erupted. The cows panicked and the leader cow plowed down the gate with the help of her three friends. In a few quick moments the cows had the gate laying on the ground and in record time, took refuge in the far corners of the field. We spent an hour trying to coral them again but it was no use. I cancelled the cows' butchering date. 

Two weeks later, butchering date #2 arrived. Now these cows had become suspicious and we knew it was going to take some convincing to get the cows locked up in their shelter. (We abandoned the make -shift pen idea and decided to catch them in the shelter where they rest).
I texted my cousin- born in Alberta I figured he must have a lasso. Sure enough...within a half hour he arrived complete with all of the gear. The morning was spent trying to move these cows towards the shelter or into a corner of the field, or something! I am not sure because nothing seemed to work.
At one point, my dad who had been observing our futile attempts of catching these cows couldn't take it anymore and headed into the muddy fields with his suede shoes on. Trying to help, he picked up a stick, gingerly crossed over the stream, and headed toward the stand- off with the cows. 
Watching the next scene was like viewing the funniest sight of your life happen right in front of you. The cows suddenly spooked and bolted towards my dad , two on either side of him. My dad; a business man, an elder in our church, a father of four girls, performed some sort of karate move with his stick that I had never seen before. I don't think my mom had either because she was shouting with laughter. 
The cows ran and spread through out the field and held fast.
"Catch those Cows" Attempt Number 2 was called off.

What would of happened if you caught a cow with that lasso I inquired. "It would of been like waterskiing on dry land." was Al's response.

 So this all took place on Saturday. We were desperate to catch these cows before Monday, the next butchering day. We like having animals on the farm during the summer. Not in the winter. The butchers were busy with hunters and we wouldn't be able to bring our cows there for many weeks after that, putting even more pressure on this capture. That evening Adam hid behind the shelter and managed to catch 3 cows but not the ring leader. We cheered never the less.
On Sunday morning I told Adam that if he was to do the opening/welcome for church, he should invite everyone over and try to round up this last cow. That didn't happen but our faithful friends came afterwards, changed into their farming gear and bribed the leader cow with some delicious looking alfalfa. The cow stood firm. Cow-catching attempt #3 was called off.
We were slowly becoming cow obsessed.
Three cows were brought to the butcher on Monday morning but the leader cow remained looking awfully smug.

During the next few weeks we became even more cow obsessed. The colder weather had descended, snow covered the fields, and now this smart cow was starting to cost us money because we had to feed her. 
We wanted this cow gone.

And this is when the cow catching story takes on a whole new level.
Here are our many cow catching attempts.
1. Late in the evening Adam dresses in all black and hides behind the cow shelter. After an hour the cow finally meanders over and almost makes it into the shelter but decides to do a walk around the shelter coming nose to nose with Adam and then takes off. Adam is now getting very frustrated.
2. Adam, again dressed in black, sneaks over to the neighbours, climbs the fence and does an army crawl through the field. With a headset set securely on his head, our oldest son talks into his ear giving him the location and details of the cow's actions. Adam makes it over to the shelter only for the cow to discover and snort at him once again.
3. Now I am driving Adam over to the neighbours so the cow doesn't see Adam hurdle himself over the fence. Once again the army crawl and the waiting by the shelter is for nothing when the smart cow does her walk around the shelter carefully sniffing.
4. Now Adam is trying to get to the shelter from a different entrance. I see the cow go into the shelter, which hardly happens, and quickly call Adam who is working nearby in the shop. I whisper the cow's location to Adam. We have an unsettled feeling that the cow can hear us. Adam bundles up against the winter cold and starts his field-crawling once again towards the shelter. Adam has hardly made any progress when the cow walks out of the shelter and GRINS at Adam. Yes, we are convinced the cow can hear us.
5. This cow is getting into Adam's brain. Adam just has to think about catching the cow and it walks out of the shelter smirking. 
6. Now it's mid December we have another butchering date. We are desperate to catch this cow by Monday morning and send it off to its deserved ending.
 Adam has installed a gate in the shelter, tied a rope from the gate in the shelter and buried the rope through the snow. He has dragged an old work trailer near to the cow shelter so that he can hide in the trailer holding onto the rope. As soon as the cow enters the shelter he just has to give the rope a hard jerk and the gate will close capturing the cow. Everything is well thought out.  Adam had even drilled a little hole through the trailer so he can see what was going on outside. 
His plan was to hide in the trailer and stay in there until the cow eventually got hungry and would go into the shelter for food. 
 Right after church I packed Adam his supper and he bundled up against the cold. We sent a boy outside to make a lot of racket to distract the cow while Adam crawled along the field and snuck into the trailer. Earlier he had set up a lawnchair in the trailer and brought blankets determined to be comfortable in case this was going to be a long ordeal.  As soon as he quietly sat in his lawn chair he realized he drilled the hole too low. With a groan he realizes this could be an uncomfortable evening. And this is when it gets crazy.
 For the next 4.5 hours while darkness covered the land, Adam sat and sat. With my head plastered against our house window, I texted Adam the location of the cow. Our boys were totally neglected as we embarked on this battle with the cow. 
Supper was missed, bedtimes missed, and we forgot to pick up our oldest son from young peoples at church. Everything became intense! All evening long we watched the cow walk everywhere through the fields except head towards the cow shelter.
 At one point Adam texted that he could hear the cow sniffing the trailer. "Nope", was my sad reply. The cow was way across the field. Adam realized he was hearing mice! He was sharing the trailer with mice!
 Adam's texts were becoming unkind and none to gentle. 
I was going crazy willing the cow to move to that shelter. The only way to describe it is if you have  had a toddler who has locked himself in your car with your keys and you try desperately from the outside to get the child to move their hands just a smidgen to unlock the doors.This was the same frustrated feeling. 
Through out the evening, texts came in from family and friends. They gave Adam suggestions to spray bull scent on, roll around in manure, sing to the cow and some were even bold enough to say that they were rooting for the cow!
It became late, and we finally gave up. Adam cold, discouraged, and frustrated, made his way to the house. No sooner had the field gate closed and then the cow made her way to the shelter quickly eating her dinner. Grrr.

January. The cow has been traumatized (and so have we!) and has refused to go into the shelter for cover and warmth. In the midst of the worst snow storms she has stood like a statue in the barren field. With the snow swirling around her, she remained fixed, staring straight into our living room window looking miserable, and making us feel extremely guilty. This felt even worse then loading up the animals for the butchers. 

Fast forward to February. The cow has shrunk and looks like a cow from a third world country. We have faithfully fed and watered the cow in the midst of a cold, snowy winter but this cow is determined to stay away from the shelter. 

And now at the end of February a shocking occurence has happened. The cow has let us pet her and is tame and docile. How did this happen?!
She heard Adam say, "I give up. The cow wins."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Another Cow Story

  "Anticipation! Anticipation! Anticipation!"  is a word my uncle likes to proclaim, not just once but three times for a lingering effect. When you are a worry wart, anticipation comes naturally as you imagine worse case scenarios and quickly and steadfastly problem solve the problems that hardly occur.

We had a situation this summer that we did not anticipate nor could of; it was just that crazy.

While vacationing with our family and friends in the beautiful north, I was asked how the farm life was holding up. I was eager to share that we had no escaped animals this year, we had everything under control and were enjoying the routine of farm life we had fallen into. We knew what animals and how many animals to buy in the spring and it had become quite manageable.

Fast forward to later in the afternoon and my friend comes running down to the beach. "Kerri, got to call home right away. Your cow is having a baby!"
"Whatttt??"  You see, we have a terrific guy that buys our cows every spring at an auction. He tells us about the cows and we welcome the cows into the field when he delivers them. These are young cows he buys at the auction. Nice and tender.

When we go away to travel or on vacation, a young, responsible guy moves into our home to take care of our animals and house.
We had left for vacation at the beginning of summer, telling him that everything was in good order; in fact easier then the last time when he moved in and had puppies to care for.
Now, on the fourth day of taking care of the animals, our guy noticed a cow laying by the fence looking very uncomfortable. Imagine his surprise when he saw the cow trying to deliver a calf! This is not what we had written down on the instruction sheet!
 He called our phones up north but when he couldn't reach us he called our friends who were vacationing with us. They quickly passed on the news.

So after my friend told me to call home right away, I ran up to our cottage and blurted out the news to Adam.

Adam took this news calmly, always steadfast and unpanicked  Meanwhile I paced as Adam phoned this young man.

I couldn't believe it. I had always wanted a baby calf to be born on our farm but I had to work my way to telling this to Adam and decided that after a normal farming year,(which we had never yet experienced!) it would be a good time.

Our farmer friend was up north with us and told Adam to ask our guy if there was indeed a calf coming out, and to make sure that just part of the cow's female cycle... (who knew?) Adam didn't look too comfortable having this part of the conversation, but it was less intimidating having it over the phone than in person.
Yes, there was no doubt about it. A calf head was sticking out and it looked stuck.
We called a vet who made his way to our home - after hours of course. After a traumatic birth, the calf was born dead and had to be buried.
But the worse part was our mother cow. She was unable to get up and was really struggling probably due to a pinched nerve. The guy who stays at our home and is so responsible, set up a tent shelter for her and placed food and water in front of her.
The next day we called some guys and they took our tractor, made a sling and tried to get the mom cow to stand. Unfortunately it didn't work.
For the guy living at our house it became a busy week trying to feed and nourish the mom cow. My dad spend many hours too, trying to revive this cow and take care of it. By the end of the week, the mom cow was not doing well and had to be put down. What a sad ending.

There was no way to anticipate a week like that; calling people, getting advice, and trying to help take care of things at home from afar. Thankfully there were many people who were willing to help out.
So it may be a long time yet before we purposely buy a pregnant cow!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Puppy Days

Puppies cause an uproar of excitement in our household. The picture of Ty holding our puppy and a chicken won in a newspaper photo contest much to his delight.

 We had 8 labradoodles with a wide range of colours and wavy fur. During the first four weeks they were easy to care for. During the next four weeks, they became alive with cute character.  Even though it was stinky at times, it was fun.
We kept this sweet gal.
Doing school work was a whole lot more pleasant while holding a puppy.
Reading about a pup and his adventures while holding a puppy:)


Monday, June 5, 2017

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

All About Reading

~reading and holding a puppy...perfect for a boy!~

In September we ventured into unknown territory...homeschooling 2 of our children. ( that explains lack of blog posts!)
We started our first grader on a reading program called "All About Reading". It was just my kind of program telling me what to teach, how to teach it, and when to teach it. The program was just Tyler's kind of program with magnets, flash cards, and the one on one teaching that he needed.

Part of the program involves reading to your child for 20 minutes every day.
This is where our dear aunt Marion comes in. Every Monday afternoon, Tyler skypes with aunt Marion and she reads to him, capturing his attention to past an hour at times.
They have been working through the illustrated children's classic books, already finishing six books. Tyler has a copy of a book and aunt Marion has her own copy. She reads with so much expression, that I sometimes stop what I'm doing and tune in! She takes the time to explain the setting of the story, asks related questions, and answers any questions Tyler may have.
He loves it. I love it.
The scarier the story- the better for Tyler. Animals and adventures are a must.
I learned that Anne of Green Gables does not cut it.
 ACTION all of the way!

It's serious business; fighting, saving, rescuing, and getting out of traps!

And there are times aunt Marion will make a visit and the reading
is that much better!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Fools Delicacies

This rather mean idea came to me a week before April Fools. We were visiting a reptile zoo and the presenter fed the lizards and snakes some cool looking worms. The blue slithery wormy thing reminded me of the candy worms kids love so much.
A week later I was at Pet Smart buying five of these live worms for my April Fools joke.
Snack was served on April Fools afternoon. On the menu, candy worms placed carefully in a bowl....along with a real worm.

 It was a difficult task trying to take pictures of this great April Fools joke, making sure the boys didn't actually eat the worm and the other candy worms that the worm may have touched.
Whaaat is that?!!

"You are a bad mom!"

The worms have been kept alive, and I am watching my back!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Touring the World (in our immaginations!)

In the past I wrote about our Country Dinners. In our imagination we arrive to the country we picked out and learn about it by making maps and flags and filling a jar up with interesting facts that we take turns reading. We listen to their cultural music, decorate, and eat a meal from that country.
We are in our third winter of having these monthly dinners and it continues to be a success; an evening that kids and adults enjoy.
We got smart. All of the kiddos are on one side of the table watching a tour show on the wall from the country we are visiting so that the adults can eat with a little bit of peace!
Liam is ready to serve us the escargot from France...
And we did it! We were brave and ate the slimy, runny snail. We didn't think to explain the process to our youngest and he stuck the whole shell in his mouth and started crunching! yuck!
None of this would happen without my talented sister-in-law. She makes up the menus and creates eye pleasing and delicious food for everyone to enjoy. And to top it off, she cooks everything from scratch!
For the decorations we think of someone we know from that country and borrow some items they have.
We will even call someone who has been to that country to visit and see if they brought back any souvenirs . (Thanks Christine for going to Australia for us!)
On the menu for Australia....Crocodile, Kangaroo, and Ostrich meat!!
Yesirree, we all had a helping of these interesting meats!
We even had a kangaroo join us for dinner to help remind us what we were eating!
After our Australian meal, we took turns playing the Didgeridoo.
Visiting Greece.
Thailand's Spring Rolls and Sauces.
Eating sushi was an interesting experience when visiting Japan but the dessert turned out to be a big hit.