Friday, August 10, 2012

Post Drought and Real Drought

Once again I have to apologize for my lack of posts.  Time just seems to get away from me sometimes.  I think the main problem is that my computer is in my kitchen and whenever I sit down to blog I look over and see a mountain of dishes or look through the door into the laundry room and realize I need to start a load of laundry (I'm seeing it right now and resisting) and I go do those things and then R wakes up from him nap and I never get back to the blog.  So, again, I will try to do better. 

Today I wanted to post about the big, bad thing in our lives right now...the drought.  We are in our second year of it, though we did get a little moisture this winter and early spring.  Drought is something that makes a farmer/farm wife feel helpless.  We work so hard to get the ground ready for crops, doing soil tests so we use just enough fertilizer but not excess and picking the best seed.  We try to plant just at the right time and get the seed just at the right depth.  And we spend so much time doing everything we can to make sure our cows are well cared for.  Checking them every few hours during calving, bringing them in and doctoring them right away if they show the tiniest sign of being sick, sampling and testing their feed to make sure it is the highest quality, fixing fences to keep them in so they won't get injured, monitoring the pastures to make sure they don't eat too much in one place and damage the grass, etc. 

And then drought comes.  And we are helpless.  The crop start looking withered, then start looking brown, then dry down to nothing.  They don't pollinate well and don't set seed, which is what we harvest.  Some farmers around here do have irrigation, which we don't, but even those can only pump so much water so fast and the heat sucks it up faster than the plants can.  And the hot dry wind blows the pollen away before it gets where it is supposed to go.  And by the day it gets drier and browner.  And the grass in the pastures starts turning brown and it stops growing and the water holes dry up.  And you start to wonder when you will have to start giving the cows extra feed because the grass isn't enough and you wonder how many and which ones you will have to sell to get through the winter with the feed you have.

So you do the best you can.  You bale up the corn or chop it for silage to feed to the cows.  You haul water with a truck or run hoses long distances to tanks to water the cows.  You try to decide if it is worth it to plant wheat this fall or hope the drought breaks by next spring and you can plant corn or milo or soybeans instead.  You pay someone a little extra to graze their CRP grass that USDA opened up for drought help. You watch the radar and read the forecast.  And everytime you see a cloud on the horizon you get a little hope.  And you thank God for even .04" of rain because it at least settled the dust for a few hours. 

And then, the well you get your drinking water out of starts to go dry because you have been watering the cows from it too.  And you test it and it has coliforms and isn't safe to drink.  So you do what you can and bleach it and wait for results from new tests, and hope its safe now. 

And you try to be positive about it and joke that at least you haven't had to mow the yard much.  But in your heart the tan expanse around you house and the dried up plants in your garden weigh on your heart.  And you can't keep up watering them because the well is low and watering the cows and water for the family and the pets and having clean laundry and dishes comes first. 

And still, you say, "next year will be better, it has to rain sometime". 

That is what drought feels like for me. 

Here is what drought around our house looks like:
Corn that should have been cut for grain being swather to bale for cow feed

This should still be all green

D looked long and hard for these few almost full ears.  They are small and so are the kernals

The corn all baled up and ready to move off the field.  It turns out it is high in nitrates so we will have to grind it and mix it with something else or it will make the cows sick.

Our pastures are dry and brown but the cows can still get some nutrients out of it, sort of like they do from baled hay. 

Our water has tons of air in it when it first comes out of the tap because the well is low

100% of our state is in severe to exceptional drought. We are right on the line between "extreme" and "exceptional".  We thought last year was bad but only 45% of the state was in severe or above a year ago. Another week of no rain and I think we will be in the exceptional drought category.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Feeling Lost

I'm feeling a little lost lately, like I really don't have many true friends, mostly since I became a mom.  Most of who I thought were my friends live 3 hours away from me.  And while we still get along ok it's just not what it used to be.  And honestly, I get a little frustrated with them and with their moms, who I was pretty close to as well. 

In general, all my frustration in this situation comes from them making comments and apparently not realizing how offensive they are.  Last night I attended a get together with them at one of their houses.  During dinner R had a poopy diaper which I got up and went to the opposite side of the living room to change.  I overheard a very negative conversation between my friends' moms about how they were sure glad they didn't have to mess with cloth diapers anymore.  Here's the thing...I CHOOSE to cloth diaper my baby for a variety of reasons and honestly have not one time in the 7 months we have been doing it regretted that decision.  Them acting like it is a disgusting thing that I'm somehow being forced into is, in my opinion, rude and unsupportive.  Also, their daughters claim they would LOVE to be able to stay home with their kids like I do R, but they just can't quite afford it.  So, when I got back to the table I said something along the lines of "at least I do all I can to save money so I can stay home with my son instead of just wishing I could and not doing anything about it".  That was probably equally hurtful, but darn it, I'm SO tired of the criticism!  I'm not asking you to change my son, wash or even touch his diapers so WHY do they need to make comments that are hurtful?!

Then my friend who is having a baby soon was opening some gift and her MIL had very generously gotten her a Ergo carrier, which my friend had been wanting.  She has 2 active little ones already and was wanting something to help her keep up with all three.  She mentioned that you could carry a child up to 40lbs in it, which immediately raised comments from the "older mom squad" of how ridiculous that was, she just needed to use a double stroller.  I am loaning her a Moby and commented that the way the Ergo is that I think she can wear the new baby on her front in the Moby and her 2 year old on her back in the Ergo, but that she would have to check for sure because I have a different soft structured carrier.  The OMS was APPALLED by this comment and made some VERY hurtful comments about how yes, she could do that, and then she could go out and pick some corn by hard.  HELLO!  They all saw me wearing R at a recent community event and D and I farm!!!!  HURTFUL!!! 

And these are people I drive 3 hours to see because I have no friends where we live now because there aren't really any groups I can join and D is always too busy for us to go to any social events. 

Sorry for the rant, I just think people are pretty rude these days and don't even get it.  I genuinely hope I haven't ever hurt a new mom's feelings in a similar way! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The New Potty!

So, this cute little thing arrived at our house yesterday! 

It is a Pourty Potty.  I know, I know, R is just 7 months old.  And we are in no way pushing "potty training" nor are we striving for hard-core "elimination communication".  But we do think there are things we can do to hopefully help potty training happen a little earlier than has become the average in this country (37 months of age!).  So, when we notice that R is showing the signs of pooping, he will sit on the potty, either with or without a diaper.  If he wakes up from a nap and is still dry, he will sit on the potty for a bit.  If we catch some pee or poop in it, GREAT!  Saves me washing a diaper.  If not, hey, the potty will be a normal thing to him when he is big enough to get serious about potty training and hopefully it won't be intimidating.  I will let you know how it goes! 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Feeling like Groundhog Day

You know that movie, Groundhog Day, where everyday it's just the same thing over and over.  It's starting to feel like that around here.  We are SO dry, D has cut down all the corn that should have been cut later for grain, he will bale it for the cows to eat now.  Our yard is yellow/brown and we haven't needed to mow in over a month.  It's too hot by 10am to take R outside, unless we are heading for the splash pad in the shade and even with that we can't stay out too long.  It's much too hot to use his little swing on our porch that he loves because the wind makes even the shade feel like a convection oven.  Our well is getting low and the creek hasn't had water in it for months so we are sharing the little water in it with ~45 cow/calf pairs, a couple bulls and 2 horses.  And I just looked at the forecast.  For the next 10 days the high will be from 103-108 everyday, 14-16 mph hot wind out of the south and 10% chance of rain at the most, most days with zero chance.  I'm starting to think this weather may never break.  If you haven't thanked a farmer recently, please do.  They are under more stress sometimes than they will ever let show. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Roo and the "Intruder"

So, I want to tell you I feel really bad I have no pictures to go with this post.  Had I known the events would be so exciting I would have videoed it. 

So, the other day D was home late in the morning (can't remember why, it seems like this week has taken forever).  So, all the dogs were outside, ya know, the 3 big, tough cow dogs whose alternative job is supposed to be to guard the house, and the 2 beagles, who job is to keep me company and look cute and hunt a rabbit or two occasionally. 

So Roo starts barking like CRAZY!  I mean, he was going nuts right by our side porch.  D was like "oh, that dumb dog must have a cat treed on the porch again", because, well, sometimes Roo thinks it's funny to tree the cats on the porch (don't worry he would never hurt them!).  The big dogs were laying in the driveway and  didn't even get up when he went to see what was going on (it should have been a hint to D that something was up when even Jake didn't jump right up when he went outside). 

So D walks out the backdoor and around the house toward the side porch (not sure why he didn't just go out the side door) and he gets like halfway to the side porch and I see/hear him start yelling, cursing (it's a VERY bad habit of his) and jumping around.  Well, I immediately thought Roo must HAVE had a cat treed on the porch and when D went out it ran and the big dogs must have thought they were supposed to get it and had killed it (sadly, they have a history of thinking cats are intruders).  So I run outside ready to give them the what-for as D comes running back in. 

I say..."what happened" and he runs to the kitchen window and says "that happened! I just stepped on a big bull snake!"  Sure enough, right next to our sidewalk, right between the 2 porches, so about 15-20ft from either door is a big old bull snake and he is coiled up and he is MAD!  Apparently Roo was the only one brave enough to get anywhere near it and he confused D because he was barking at the door, not the snake, probably watching for one of us to come out, so D wasn't even looking at the ground when he went out, he was looking at the porch! 

D ALWAYS makes fun of me about my hatred for snakes (I told him once "hey, it's a natural human fear, they are the devil, it says so right in the bible" so now he quotes that to me all the time!). 

So, I said, are you gonna go kill it before it gets away?!  He yells at me "I NEED a minute!"  It was hilarious!  So, eventually he goes out, and from the porch, he stretches out like as far as he can and chops its head off with a shovel.  At this point I realized I should have taken a pic of the snake (maybe out the window) before he killed it and I didn't wanna post a pic of a headless snake so, there ya go, no pic.

Moral of the story, don't underestimate Roo and don't overestimate the bravery of a pack of "big, tough" cowdogs! 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The "other" Dogs.

I decided today to introduce you to the other 2 dogs that live in our house.  Then tomorrow I have a funny story somewhat involving all of the dogs but starring this one:

Roo!  When I was a freshman in high school I got a little tiny beagle puppy named Dolly.  I took her everywhere and people were constantly asking me if I would raise some puppies so they could have one like her.  So...I did.  And it started my "part-time" job through high school and college.  Now, please don't hate on me.  I wasn't a "puppy mill" but I did get a couple other females and a male dog and sold a couple litters of puppies a year.  I was pretty diligent about making sure they went to good homes, with people who understood a beagle and that they were healthy.  Well...when Roo was a baby he was NOT healthy.  He had some major tummy issues and just plain didn't grow for a very long time (it's is a LONG story, I won't bore you with the details), so I kept him and had him neutered.  He is the SWEETEST, most softhearted little dog but can also be pretty rough and tumble.  He isn't overly smart (I think that is due to him having pneumonia at one point and almost dying and being really low on oxygen for a while) but he surprises us pretty often.  Roo will be 5 in September.

 (R wasn't feeling good and Roo watched over him ALL day)

and here is his full sister (but she is a year older)

Kisses!  Kisses was the first "chocolate" puppy any of my dogs every had.  We bonded like VERY early and I decided to keep her for my college companion and to maybe have a few puppies out of.  But as she grew we realized she had a condition called antebrachial growth deformity.  It is caused by one of the small bones in the leg grows disproportionately to the other, causing a curve or twist to occur in the leg.  Because it is in both of her front legs it is likely genetic.  We didn't really realize it was so bad until after Roo was born or we may not have even bred her mom again.  As it was, we didn't raise any more litters after Roo.  Kisses has more attitude in her little body than any 120lb "big" dog.  She is THE boss around here.  And she is VERY attached to me.  And her and Roo are the best of buddies so I'm almost glad he had "issues" so she ended up with her brother staying with her.  Kisses will be 6 in September. 

Check back soon for a funny story about Roo and D and an "intruder"!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making and Freezing Baby Food

I can't believe I haven't posted in over 2 weeks!  Time sure does fly doesn't it?  In the last few weeks R has been having a lot of trouble adjusting to food.  We haven't been pushing it by any means and I'm not overly worried but it has been a long process so far.  To try to help his tummy get more accustomed to food and get him some good bacteria in there I decided to try mixing puree'd pears (the only thing so far that hasn't upset his tummy) with some plain (unflavored) whole milk yogurt.  Well...the only container of that I could find was this huge 32oz container! 

Since he only eats 1Tbsp TOTAL a day of anything other than breastmilk that would last us MONTHS!  So I decided to freeze it.  I was already planning to freeze some green bean and sweet potato purees that we tried him on and had a bunch left.  But I couldn't decide what to freeze them in.  I was thinking ice cube trays but I couldn't find mine.  Since I'm not big on wasting money I started going through my cabinets.   And then I remembered my regular size and mini sized silicone muffin "pans".  Eureka! 

I put about 1/4 cup of yogurt in each regular muffin cup and 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) of the veggie purees in each of the mini cups. 

Then I slapped some Press 'n Seal over them and popped them in the freezer. 

When they came out I just popped them out, put each kind in its own sandwich size freezer bag, labeled them with a sharpie and put the little bags all in one big freezer bag.  That was easy!!!

(While I prepped his food R entertained himself with my dirty kitchen rug, instead of all the nice fun kitchen utensils I had out for him.  Love this kid!)

If you make and store your own baby food what is your system?