Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cows make good mothers

We have raised beef cows for about 15 years. I have learned a great deal about them in that time.
1. All cows are female
2. Bulls are male
3. A hiefer is a young female that has never had a calf
4. A Steer is a castorated male
When a cow has a calf they tend to go off on their own and go through labor alone. After the calf is born the cow stays by its side for about 24 hours, not even leaving to eat. After that other cows "volunteer" to watch the calf while she eats. If there is more than one new calf the mothers rotate babysitting duties. If you approach a new calf (when mom isn't around) it will let you pet it. Because its mother has never told it not to. After she finds out that you have been there she will tell the calf to run from you. We have been able to tame a calf by hand feeding it.

One time several calves were playing king of the hill on a manure pile. One of the moms was ready to go to pasture. She called her calf three times and it did not come so she left without it. She hadn't gone very far when the calf noticed she was gone and took off. It was just what I would have done.

When a cow has twins (which doesn't happen very often) it is almost always a boy and a girl and the girl is usually sterile.

Once we had a hiefer in labor and she was having a hard time. We had pinned her up in the barn and the other cows gathered around her and gave her instructions and encouragement.

I love cows, at least most of them. I tend to hate the black ones, they are mean. We raise Polled Herefords they are brown and white and generally have a very sweet and gentle disposition.

Speaking of dispostions, our bull's name was Curly. He was sweet and he was nosey. He always wanted to be in the middle of everything. Even though he was sweet we were always respectful of him. He was huge and had no idea how big he was. He could trap you against the barn and never feel it. We always knew who Curly was "dating", he ate next to them. He ate in a different spot every week. The cows teneded to eat in the same spot every day. We knew that in nine months his "date" would present us with a new calf.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


My Prince Charming and I just returned from a short vacation. We flew to Ontario California, rented a car, drove 2.5 hours to Bakersfield. We spent the night and the next morning boarded Amtrak for Oakland California. Sounds like a lot of work doesn't it. We had a blast. Or at least as much of a blast as two old people can have. We like to take vacations where we "wing it". No plans, just a destination and a rental car. Last year we went to San Diego and rented a small two seater convertible, but I digress. On Amtrak (which we loved) we got to see the California country side. It was not a pretty site. We saw nothing green. We saw a lot of poverty and junked up back yards. Arnold really needs to clean up his state. We saw a lot of gang grafitti on the back of concrete fences surrounding very nice homes. We saw a lot of dairy farms. They differ greatly from Illinois dairys. There is no green. The cows are in big buildings with just a roof and support poles for the sides. There is no weather to worry about in CA. The farms were much bigger than we are used to seeing. I thought about the commercials on TV about the happy cows in CA. The ones where the grass is green and the cows are grazing. First, anyone who knows anything about dairys knows that you don't allow cows to graze. Their feed is very controlled by a nutritionist. They aren't in fields they are in sheds. They sleep on sand to protect their udders. Those commercials, while very enteraining, are totally false.
Once we arrived in Oakland we had to get a taxi to the airport to pick up our rental car. It was Sunday and they were the only ones open. It cost us $30 plus tip, for a trip that was six miles long. From there we headed north. "The Farmer" wanted to see CA farm country. We drove for several hours, stopped for the night, then the next day drove another hour. We went to a place that he was told was farm country. We saw nothing. At least nothing that we are used to. So, we drove back to San Fran, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (in the fog). We stopped took pictures and drove on. We then went to San Jose to see the Winchester house. That was neat. I had seen it on TV several times, but it is just not the same as seeing it in person. We then went to Half Moon Bay to spend the night on the beach. It was cold so there was no walking on the beach for us. The next day we spent in San Fran. We went to Pier 39 and enjoyed that very much. We went to Fisherman's Warf and didn't see what the big deal was. We drove down Lombard street and enjoyed that. We had lunch on the Pier. I had clam chowder in a bread bowl and a glass of water, the Farmer had a personal pan pizza and a glass of water it cost $33 not counting tip. I nearly had a heart attack. After more sightseeing we headed back to Oakland to spend the night. We found a great hotel on the bay, it was really pretty. The next morning we flew home. All in all it was fun. The best part for me is hearing the Farmer say, after seeing something on TV: We have been there. I say, yes but only because I made you go.

Friday, August 15, 2008


My grandparents were married for over 50 years. As a child I had heard the story of how three weeks after they started dating they were married. Even as a child I marveled that they barely knew each other, yet stayed married for ever. Recently, I discovered that my grandfather, who I knew to be a Christian man, had a love child about my age. When I first heard about this I couldn't believe it. So I ask his daughter, my aunt. Sure enough it was true. She told me it was a girl about my age, as far as she knew living in the area. I ask if she had ever met her, she told me no and she didn't want to. There used to be a house trailer parked on the lot next to my grandparents home and apparently this woman lived there. Now I never heard my grandparents ever utter an angry word to one another. They went to church regularly (Salvation Army). I still have trouble wrapping my head around this. Apparently my grandfather never supported this child. I don't know how he could, they were barely getting by (but that is no excuse). I can't begin to imagine how my grandmother must have felt. I recently came in posession of her Bible. I have been all through it and there are lots of notes, pieces of paper, etc. but nothing to even indicate that she was the least bit unhappy.
They stayed married through it all. Today, people are divorcing because they just get tired of one another or any other silly reason they can think of. What happened to commitment?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

How things have changed

Today I was driving along and noticed several people walking. Not for pleasure, but to get to where they had to go and I thought how sad it is that we are so afraid to pickup hitchhikers.
We are all afraid of murders and rapist, but I'll bet the average person, hitchhiking is doing so because they have no other transportation. When my daughter was about 6 we saw a lady waiting for a bus. I think the Lord spoke to me and told me to pick her up, so I did. She was very sweet and we had a nice conversation while I took her home. After she left I told my daughter she should never do that but that the Bible talks about angels unaware and then I explained all of that to her. I tried to impress on her that you have to listen to the Lord and at the same time, use your own God given common sense.
I have never before or sense pickup up another hitchhiker but that day I did, and my daughter has never forgot that lesson.