Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sometimes You're The Windshield

Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug. I think that pretty much sums up the highlite (or maybe I should say low point) of our day.  Jason and I were having a normal day doing normal things around the farm. We had just had a conversation in the front barn, I don't even remember what we were talking about, and Jason walked away to get in the truck to drive to the back of the barn. 

A few seconds later I heard the slam and the crunch. Then I heard Jason screaming at the top of his lungs "NO! You've got to be kidding me. NOOOOOO!!" I ran out of the barn to see what the heck was going on.

When I ran out I saw Jason walking in a circle with his hands on his head screaming "BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP! BLEEP!" (I try to keep this blog PG but he was actually screaming a word that rhymed with truck . . . ) over and over and over. I couldn't help but think that he looked like a horse exhibiting stereotypical behavior as he walked the same circle over and over screaming the same word over and over. Except instead of watching a horse weaving in the same spot in his stall or cribbing or walking the same path along the fence over and over I was watching Jason.  

I also saw the newly crunched look our car had just acquired and I understood why Jason was walking in a circle screaming obscenities. He had backed into our car with our truck in our driveway. The truck was unscathed but the car, well, not so much.  Then I started laughing hysterically because the whole scene was just funny.  The crunched car, the circling, yelling husband, and all of this in our very own driveway.  Pretty much anyone aside from Jason would have done what I did and collapse in hysterical laughter. However my response made Jason even more mad so he walked his circle with even more determination and yelled BLEEP even louder.  

When I was able to compose myself and stop laughing I told him that he could continue walking his circle for however long he wanted but he should probably stop the screaming since everyone within a hundred miles of our farm could probably hear him. I then spent a few minutes reassuring him that we've all done something this stupid at some point and today was simply his day. I tried to say this with a straight face and without laughing. I didn't succeed. 

Jason is slowly starting to see the humor in the situation. Sometimes you're the windshield and sometimes you're the bug, that's just life.  Although I'm not exactly sure who or what was the bug in this scenario. If it was our car, if it was Jason or if it was our bank account. Maybe all three?

Yeah, Jason didn't just gently back into the car, he apparently stomped on the accelerator of the truck when he put it in reverse and backed into the car


Homer and Moe

Trigger and Grand

Largo and Rocky

It was so foggy yesterday morning it was hard to find the horses in the pastures; Stormy and Donovan

Walon wanted Kennedy to play

I think Walon's expression in this picture if too funny (and that is Trigger taking a nap in the background)

MyLight and Calimba

Griselle, Timbit and Miracle

George and Asterik

Chance and Ritchie

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Do As I Say

I finally got the last of the blankets sorted, separated and bundled into piles last week.  I think I have outdone myself as far as setting the bar low. Very low. After putting this job off for far too long I told myself that I was going to get these dirty blankets sorted and sent off for cleaning and repair before the end of July . That is pretty pathetic but I am so happy to finally have this job done that I don't care. Better late than never is my current motto.  

Jason is as unenthusiastic as I am about the job of dragging around, sorting, and generally repeatedly handling dirty horse blankets. He found plenty of other things to do so he could avoid helping me as much as possible. However I told him I wasn't putting the clean blankets (the spares that didn't get used, blankets that didn't get worn, etc.) up in the loft of the barn myself, that he was going to help me with this one part of the job. 

I should have been suspicious when Jason agreed to help without any fuss.  Unknown to me he had no intentions of hauling blankets up to the loft over multiple trips. Instead he put them all in the loader of the tractor, drove the tractor into the barn and positioned the loader right at the top of the loft. He then went up in the loft, proceeded to climb in the loader of the tractor, and pitched them all in the loft in less than a minute. I will acknowledge that from a time and effort perspective this was incredibly efficient but I also feel compelled to point out that this was not the smartest stupid.

Jason loves to brag about how safety conscious he is. If I should be embarrassed about not dealing with these blankets until July Jason should be downright ashamed about climbing in the loader of the tractor.  Admittedly it worked out just fine but he would have gone ballistic if I had pulled this stunt.  It was a perfect "do as I say but not as I do" teachable moment. 

Let's all take a moment to reflect on this teachable moment and repeat after me:

I will not climb into the loader of my tractor with the hydraulics fully extended
I will not climb into the loader of my tractor with the hydraulics fully extended
I will not climb into the loader of my tractor with the hydraulics fully extended

In reality I have no room to talk. If Jason were standing here reading over my shoulder he would remind me of the time I led seven horses at the same time and had to negotiate three gates with all of them.  It went remarkably well but yeah, that was way up there on the stupid scale. I have no intentions of trying to repeat that experience as I doubt I could ever pull off it again so perfectly.  I guess this whole post can be filed under "stupid things Jason and Melissa have gotten away with."

Jason calls this making hydraulics work for you; he did tilt the loader down so it was flush with the floor of the loft

I think this qualifies as a classic "do as I say and not as I do" moment


Donneur and Gibson

Lily and Maisie grooming

Toledo and Johnny grooming

B-Rad, Darby, Sam, Murphy and Sebastian grazing in perfect formation

Chance, Leo and Grand

Baby and Tony

Lighty and Sebastian

Gibson and George

Apollo, Hemi and Thomas

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Stills

Faune and Asterik

Gibson and Silver

Apollo grazing while Thomas has a perfect roll and shake

Cocomo and Romeo

Donovan and Kennedy were in a hurry to get somewhere

Lucky and Noble

Duesy and Merlin

Traveller and Silky

Cuffie and Norman


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Getting Buzzed

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.

banking hard

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

Leo and Chance

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In Memory of Buster

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.