Our interesting distraction of the day today was the crop duster that buzzed our farm repeatedly. He flew so low over our farm a few times I felt like I could reach up and touch the plane with my hand as it went by. I come from a family of pilots and grew up flying in planes of all sizes, from two seater single props to jets. I love to fly. I love take-offs, I love landings, I like going fast, banking hard, doing stalls and rolls, hitting turbulence - there is nothing about the experience of being in the air that I dislike.
I probably lost a good half hour of my day today because I was having so much fun just watching the pilot fly. Just as when you cannot help but watch certain riders ride a horse, like watching Steffan Peters or Beezie Madden, some pilots just make you want to watch them fly a plane. Our crop duster today was having fun, a lot of fun. You have to be a daredevil and a risk taker to fly a crop duster as it is a very dangerous job and this pilot clearly loved doing what he was doing. He was banking his turns harder than he had too and once he saw me waving and giving him a thumbs up he buzzed our farm several times and did some more showing off. With his last buzz he flew right over the top of me as I was waving from our porch, so close I couldn't even get the plane in the view finder of the camera fast enough.
I was loving every second of it and was so disappointed when the crop duster went back to actually dusting crops. Carter was as enthralled as I was. On the other hand Jason wanted the plane to go away because it made him nervous and the horses never even acted like they noticed the plane at all, even as he buzzed low over their pastures. Just as I was thinking that I wished the guy could land in the field and let me fly with him for awhile Jason announced "I would crap my pants if I were in that plane."
Thanks for the buzz kill Jason.
about to buzz me waving to him from our porch
the main reason I took this picture of Walden and Fabrizzio waiting for dinner was because I liked the bird sitting on the gate hanging out with them
Walon and Oskar
MyLight and Dolly running, Traveller and Cinnamon trotting, Calimba walking, and Cuffie all the way at the end who couldn't be bothered to stop eating to move at any speed
Slinky and Lucky
Noble and Lightning
Silver and Romeo
Donneur and Gibson having an early morning grooming session
It felt like the end of an era on Saturday as Jason and I said goodbye to Buster. Buster was the most "famous" of my dad's little herd of pet cows. Many cows came and went over the years but Buster always stayed.
Buster's mother was Beulah who was the matriarch of my dad's cow herd. My dad purchased Beulah very late in the year in 1994. He was told she was open when he bought her, however she gave birth to Buster a few very short months later in 1995. Beulah either had the shortest gestational period ever for a cow or she was pregnant at the time of her purchase. I would say Beulah's pregnancy was an "oops" pregnancy since Buster was the resulting calf. One only had to glance at Buster to realize that he was not the offspring of an Angus bull.
Buster was most definitely not an Angus cow
Buster napping with his sister Annie to the left and his mom Beulah behind him
From the moment Buster made his unexpected appearance in the world we all thought he was simply the cutest calf we had ever seen. My mom named him Buster and he instantly became the first of the pet cows at Windy Hills Farm. Jason's comment about Buster's passing was "Back when we were in the freezer beef business we got Buster a new group of friends every spring and their numbers slowly dwindled throughout the summer and fall. But Buster always got to stay. I always joked with him that he was among the saved. The first thing I saw when I entered the big white mansion my future in-laws lived in were framed, painted portraits of both daughters on each side of the fireplace....and a framed painted portrait of Buster on the left side of the vestibule! It's still there today! No kidding!!!!"
I think that pretty much sum's up Buster's status within our family. Portraits of the daughters by the fireplace while Buster's portrait had the place of supreme honor in the entry hall.
Buster pretty much led the perfect life from start to finish
Buster hanging with the other pet cows; this gives you an idea of how big he was.
my mom always loved what she referred to as buster's "plumey tail" and she especially liked the fact that he always kept it very clean and white
Our cute little calf grew into an 18+ hand steer weighing in at over 3,000 pounds. Buster learned quickly to associate people with food, and whenever my dad was driving through Buster's pasture on his gator Buster would trot along behind him. When he would spy my dad on the gator Buster would literally go running (as best as 18 hand, 3000 pound animal can run) across the pasture to catch up to the gator. The ground would literally shake as he would go pounding across it. Buster considered it his self-appointed job to instill manners into the new crop of calves that came along each year. He liked for things to be orderly and mannerly, and since he was always the biggest cow around by a significant amount he got his way.
Buster mingling with the "common cows" and keeping things orderly
Buster and the other pet cows enjoying a leisurely afternoon along my parents' driveway
Buster had been moving slower and slower the last couple of years, and in the last few months a slow walk was his top speed. When you are 19 years old and huge it isn't really a surprise that your mobility would begin to slow down. He had really slowed down the last few weeks and we had been checking him constantly to make sure he was comfortable as he was beginning to have trouble getting up and down. On Saturday he was laying down by the pond and although he seemed peaceful enough he would not make any effort to rise. We kept attempting to make him get up but he would not even try.
napping with the pet cows; sadly only three of them are still with us
it was always a good day to be Buster
Jason and I explained to my mom that we had to say goodbye to Buster, that he'd had a great 19 year run, but it was time and it was time now. Then of course there were the logistics of actually helping Buster to become permanently pain free and young again. So many people are scared of guns and don't realize that there is a time and a place when they are needed. Despite the fact that Buster was a pet and very used to people, it would have been negligent at best for someone to try and euthanize Buster via injection. One whack with his massive head should he whip it around if he got stressed could kill a person.
Then I did something I never, ever thought I would do and I told Jason I would pull the trigger myself. After all he was my family's pet and our responsibility. Since my dad's passing Jason has dealt with more than his fair share of things that would normally have been handled by my father. As I said to Jason at some point we've got to step up to the plate and handle things. We then proceeded to have an argument about who would actually handle the rifle and admittedly I very half heartedly argued that I should do it. However when Jason insisted I let him "win" and was happy to dump this task back in his lap.
We drove our Kubota back to the pond and we both sat in silence for a minute looking at Buster. We tried one last time to get him to rise but again Buster would not even try. Then Jason loaded the rifle, walked over to Buster, told him he was sorry and that he didn't want do this, and one well placed bullet led to an instant passing. I've never been more grateful to Jason than in that moment when I didn't have to pull the trigger myself. It was actually a very graceful passing. Jason did not hesitate or falter and Buster seemed not only to know what Jason was going to do but to welcome it.
We are planning to move the last of the pet cows to our farm in the next few months. Jason felt it was fitting, and I sadly agree, that Buster will not make the move. He had spent every day of his 19 years at Windy Hills Farm and it was the only home he had ever known. As we prepare to sell the farm it feels like we are closing the pages of a book. Buster's passing certainly feels like one of the final chapters of the stories of Windy Hills Farm. Rest in peace Buster.
Jason and I have both been procrastinating finding other important things to do while we have both done our best to avoid jobs we don't wish to tackle. I hate, loathe, detest - pick your adjective - dealing with dirty horse blankets. It would be putting it mildly to say that Jason is not fond of hooking up our Bushhog and then sitting on the tractor hour after hour for several days to mow the pastures. We were both dismayed to come to the conclusion a few days ago that we could no longer procrastinate find other important things to do and we had to tackle these jobs.
Jason wrestled with the Bushhog after morning chores yesterday and managed to get it hooked up with relative ease. His exact description of the process was "for once hooking up that $#&#ing bushhog wasn't a total mankiller." His friendly relationship with the Bushhog appeared to be short-lived. I saw him walking to the front barn (instead of sitting on a moving tractor) and a minute later he walked out with the biggest wrench I've ever seen in my life. This wrench was literally like two feet long and really wide.
He proceeded to walk back to the parked tractor and Bushhog looking most unhappy and then wrestled with this giant wrench on the Bushhog for awhile. I did not walk over to get a close up look at what was happening because A) I was busy holding a horse for the farrier and B) I am sticking to my resolution that I do not help Jason with the Bushhog. Ever. For God's sake he can give me a concussion with a feedbag, I'm not going near him with a two foot wrench in his hand. This scenario seemed to repeat itself several times throughout the day yesterday. Today seemed to go a lot better and the tractor and Bushhog were always moving when they should have been.
I now have two days into gathering and sorting dirty horse blankets. Nothing like waiting until the middle of July to finally get around to doing this. I'm really setting the bar high, not. You know you have procrastinated way too long when you get a friendly email from your nice blanketing cleaning lady asking if you are still planning to have her clean and repair your 100+ blankets? I think that was her friendly way of saying get off your butt and get the blankets ready for me since it is, you know, JULY. Since she sent her email after I already had one day of blanket sorting done I felt marginally better about myself.
Day one of blanket sorting was relatively uneventful. I felt like I needed to take a five hour shower after handling all of the dirty blankets so the task started off at its normal level of awfulness. I'll mention again that I just hate handling dirty, crusty horse blankets.
Day 2, today, was a lot more eventful. I have to handle each blanket a lot. They all need to be relabeled with a sharpie as the names fade a lot after being worn outside in the rain, mud, dirt, etc. I also inspect each blanket to see if it just needs to be cleaned, or if it also needs to be repaired or if it simply needs to be trashed. I keep a list of the blankets that need to be trashed so I can arrange for replacements. As I yanked a blanket down so I could inspect it suddenly I had a bunch of angry wasps coming after me. I did the right thing and took off running. They gave up the chase after a few feet and I waited several minutes before walking back over to resume my task. All was well until I pulled the next blanket and down and immediately found myself being chased by another swarm of angry wasps. I thought surely I was in the clear after that but I was wrong. I got to repeat the experience of pulling down a blanket and being chased by PO'd wasps a third time.
After my third mad sprint with wasps in pursuit I didn't stop running until I found a can of wasp spray. I sprayed the first three nests that I had uncovered when I removed the blankets. Then I took a deep breath, prepared myself, and yanked down another blanket and immediately took off in a 100 foot dash with a dirty horse blanket in tow. I repeated this mad dash with dirty horse blankets flying behind me over and over. After waiting a few minutes I would cautiously walk back in the barn and spray wasp spray like a mad woman at all the angry wasps coming at me.
Jason came rolling up on the tractor right as I came running for my life out of the back barn with a dirty horse blanket in one hand and a can of wasp spray in the other. For once in his life he didn't know what to say for a minute but his expression summed it up, "WTF is going on here?"
I explained to him that apparently I had found wasp nest central under one row of blankets and that he should stay away from that barn for awhile. You see wasps love, or maybe it is that they hate, Jason. If there is a wasp within 20 feet Jason is going to get stung. I've never seen anything like it. So it was thanks to Jason that I had my pick of about ten cans of wasp spray because he buys them in bulk and keeps a few cans in all three barns to try and save himself.
After warning Jason I walked around to the other side of the barn for a few minutes as I needed to get more twine to tie up my blanket stacks. Apparently while I did this Jason decided to see if I was telling the truth about the wasps. Unbelievably Jason the wasp magnet walked into the barn I had just told him to stay out of. I knew he had not followed my advice when I heard him yell out "BLEEP" and saw him running for his life out of the barn. At that point Jason completely understood why I kept running like a madwoman out of the barn and left the building for good for the day.
Once I finished with that row of blankets things went back to normal and I stopped uncovering wasp nests. I must have killed 100 wasps with the wasp spray. I did realize that I must have deep seated issues that I should probably seek counseling for because I got this really strong feeling of satisfaction every time a dead wasp would fall to the ground when I managed to spray it as it was coming after me. There was something so amazingly satisfying about watching them literally just fall to the ground when a drop of spray hit them. My excellent aim with the wasp spray kept me from being stung.
Jason and I have both ended the last couple of days by taking our clothes off on the porch, dumping them directly in the washing machine when we inside, and then immediately getting in the shower. Nothing gets you dirtier than mowing pastures or handling dozens of dirty, filthy horse blankets.
I am hoping if I really apply myself I can finish getting these blankets sorted tomorrow. After doing more sprinting in one day then I have done in the last few years I am more than ready to be done with blankets, not to mention feeling like I am covered in grime. I am confident that Jason is tired of breathing in allergens, sitting on the tractor, and wrestling giant wrenches on the Bushhog. We've both had enough of wasps, dirt and wrenches to last us awhile.
piles of blankets everywhere and I'm only halfway done
I think this would be Jason's least favorite piece of equipment on our farm
Jason mowing one of the pastures . . .
. . . and the results of his work
Stormy and Rocky
Donovan and Walon
Sam and Lighty
Sebastian and Johnny
Fabrizzio and O'Reilly (we had a theme going for picture taking recently, feeling the grooming love at Paradigm Farms)