An unwelcomed visitor

Yesterday, there was a visitor on our farm. In fact, she was still here this morning, but I’m hoping she’s on her way by now. I haven’t seen her this afternoon, so either she’s moved on…or something.

It always starts with one...

It always starts with one…

Yesterday morning, my husband woke me up and asked me to look out by the calf shelter. At first I didn’t catch what he was seeing, but then a movement caught my eye. My first thought? “Oh no! Not again!” But then I was relieved to see only one…not a herd.

What in the world could I be talking about? Deer. Or in this instance, one deer. But it never stops at one.

This deer hardly even flinched when I moved up to the fence to snap this picture.

This deer hardly even flinched when I moved up to the fence to snap this picture.

Why does this one deer have me concerned? Where do I start…

1) Deer are wild creatures. They are not a domestic animal and should be afraid of humans. This deer is not. And it only moved when I was extremely close…but it never left the area. In fact, it only moved over to the next cattle-holding area.

Yes, that is a feed bunk for the cows that have just calved.

Yes, that is a feed bunk for the cows that have just calved.

2) Sick? The fact that this deer isn’t exhibiting normal deer behavior sets of warning bells in my head that something is physically wrong with it. And this deer is too close to our calves for comfort.

Just to show how close this deer is to our cattle.

Just to show how close this deer is to our cattle.

3) In my experience, deer are like mice. If you see one, there’s hundreds near by…and I don’t want a repeat of two years ago. Ever. The death and destruction was sickening. And those that are supposed to provide assistance did not.

So today I keep an eye out for our unwelcomed visitor. And if it shows signs of obvious illness or distress I will be quick to call the proper authorities to come take care of it. I’m just hoping it runs off, and doesn’t return with a few hundred of its closest friends and relatives.

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Winter storm Orko

Mother Nature has once again given us a strong reminder about who is in control…not that I ever questioned it for a minute. Winter storm Orko arrived in full force today, bringing with it about 10 inches of snow and 40 mph winds – white-out conditions.

Unfortunately, our heifers are due to have their first calves any day now, so that means that we don’t get a chance to hunker in for the storm, we must keep an eye on our livestock.

The cows stay where it's protected during the storm. Their instincts help keep them safe...usually.

The cows stay where it’s protected during the storm. Their instincts help keep them safe…usually.

Today Boss Man spent a lot of time pushing snow. Although heavy snow fall is a pain, it can be useful as well. With our loader tractor, he can push the snow up into big piles, creating natural windbreaks for our cattle. As long as it’s here, we might as well put it to use!

Boss Man making a windbreak with the snow.

Boss Man making a windbreak with the snow.

I was hoping to earn some Val’s Day (my nickname for Valentine’s Day…catchy, isn’t it?) bonus points by letting Boss Man catch a few extra zzzz’s while I took the first night check for our heifers. (We check them every two hours, to do our best to make sure that the calves are born in the barn – or at least brought to the barn as soon as possible, to keep them from getting chilled.)

My mistake? Thinking I was going to make a quick trip down to the calving lot and not suiting up properly. Instead of coveralls and the whole get-up (fashion plays little in calving), I just slipped on my Bogs, my jacket, hat, scarf and gloves. It wasn’t too bad, until I started fighting thigh-high drifts.

Even then, it wasn’t terrible…except when I started losing my balance in the wind and snow. Then I was working so hard trudging through the snow that I was melting the snow stuck to my yoga pants, soaking me clear through. I was chilled to the bone! A colossally stupid move on my part. Really.

I’m guessing I’ll sleep like a baby tonight, but may have a sore muscle or two tomorrow. Anyone looking for a great cardio routine? I think I found one!

Farmer Friday – Planting Wheat

With the way he left the house this morning, you would think that Boss Man was six weeks behind in field work, but the truth is, things are pretty far ahead of schedule. But as the saying goes, “Make hay when the sun shines.”

So on this Good Friday, as I keep a close eye on George, Boss Man is out seeding wheat. After a quick repair this morning, he’s back at it again…check it out:

Repairs - sometimes it seems like a never-ending job, but Boss Man fixed this up lickety-split!

On his way again! The wind was a bit of a challenge this morning.

It's amazing to see where technology has taken us!

In a day where corn and soybeans seem to be king in this area, we still find wheat a very important crop in our rotation. Not only does it make improvements to our overall soil health, but the straw is an important part of our cattle operation. We use it as bedding for our calf area and in our barn during calving.

All safe and warm inside, no matter what's going on outside, thanks in part to the wheat straw used for bedding!

Up close and personal, that's wheat being seeded!

Now that planting (or seeding, as it may be) has begun, it’s Mother Nature’s turn to do her stuff. The next few weeks and months will be determined by the amount of rain we receive, when we receive it and what other weather patterns we encounter.

On this Good Friday, as so many reflect and express their faith, I still feel that a farmer’s faith is some of the strongest faith you will find.

Blessings to you today. And a Happy Easter to all!

March madness…North Dakota version

No, our March madness has nothing to do with basketball, and I’m talking brackets of a different kind…this March is madness with peewee wrestling and spring weather. And it added up to spending an afternoon digging out some water pipes.

Let’s start off with Saturday morning and early afternoon. Scooter participated in our local peewee wrestling tournament and managed to come home with a first-place medal.

The weather was so unseasonably warm, that I decided we should finish a project we had started earlier in the week. Our aging pipes had sprung a leak, which lead to a continually green patch of grass in our yard all winter. But as it was warming up, that green patch had turned to mush. We needed to work on a fix…and 70-80 degree temps in North Dakota in March is a great reason to spend some time outside, even if it is to dig a hole.

So, if we’re fixing a water pipe, one would think that you would call a local backhoe and have it done in a jiffy, right? That’s not the way we roll around here. Instead, Boss Man gave a few directions, gave us a rough outline of size, and away we went.

Me and my little sister, just digging a hole.

Yep, my little sister and I became excavators and dug out the hole that will be needed to fix our water leak. And I have to say, I’m happy with the work we did, and enjoyed spending the hour or so outside in the beautiful weather.

And today (Sunday), the weather has continued on its beautiful streak, cracking the 80 degree mark. Let’s just hope our temps stay above freezing, because all of those beautiful buds and new plants will be a hard loss to take.

Our rhubarb is up...and it's March.

By tomorrow evening, I'm guessing we'll have full-fledged leaves on our lilacs. These buds are busting at the seams!

Hunt My Meat Monday – Success!

That’s right, after a few failed attempts this week, I managed to finally bring down my deer. In fact, as I type this, my dear is at a local butcher shop, being turned into pepper sticks and dried venison (and I’ll have a recipe for that at a later date). I can’t WAIT!

But, the story on how I got my deer is an entertaining one…and since I happen to like to entertain you, my reader, I will share my story with you:

It all started Sunday morning, as I woke up to the promise of another beautiful day on the prairie (seriously, 50 degrees on the prairie…in North Dakota…in November?!? Pinch me, I’m dreaming!)

A friend of my husband called and said that there were some deer west of our house a bit. I drove a mile west, saw the deer he was referring to, walked a half-mile in, shot three times, missed, and walked the rest of the way home. Great way to get a mile walk in, but not a successful hunt. It was now almost 9 a.m., I had to get myself and four boys ready to greet at church at 9:35, plus have the refreshments ready for the Fellowship Time following church. But I wasn’t in a hurry. 😉

We made it through church (did I mention that we were also Sunday morning greeters/ushers for church?), made it through the snack preparation for after church, made it through Sunday School (did I mention that I was asked to sub for a Sunday School teacher that was sick?) and then headed home. I had a long, busy day already, and it was barely noon.

As we pull up to the grocery store to pick up some milk (we go through milk like CRAZY!), my little sister called, telling me that there was a buck just west of the farm. I’ve been down this road already…in fact, I had walked that mile already that day! But she was insistent that I hurry out and see if I could shoot him. And so we hurried home, I grabbed my orange sweatshirt (state law to wear blaze orange while deer hunting during gun season), grabbed my gun and headed back west again.

As I got out of the suburban to cross the fence and head out into the field, it dawned on me that my attire was not the best suited for hunting excursions. This is what I was wearing:

My version of hunting...with style.

 

 

Yes, I am wearing a green cowl-neck sweater dress, complete with brown leggings and knee-high dress boots. I was a fashionable hunter as I crossed the field, even kneeling to use my scope to spot my target. The buck got up, I shot once and missed. I reloaded and shot a second time. I didn’t miss that time. The buck did a summersault and was down. I had filled my tag.

Now, to be clear, I hunt for food and to protect our crops and livestock. I am not a trophy hunter (although I don’t mind having a mount on my wall), and have no desire to spend days on end tracking my deer. I prefer I shoot them, they die, we take care of them and they’re in our freezer. Simple as that.

When we checked on my quarry, it became apparent that the meat on this deer was safe, as I had shot the buck in the head, eliminating on side of its rack. A pretty crazy shot from where we were, but the animal was dead, which was the point I was going for! (Sometimes, when an animal is shot in the body, it can ruin large portions of the meat. Had this been a trophy deer, my shot would have been a sad deal, but since this buck was nice, but definitely nothing special, my shot was in a great place…causing no damage to any edible part of the deer.)

The guy walking with me started to field dress my deer (take all the insides out), and I quickly told him that I could finish the job. I knew I wasn’t wearing appropriate clothing, but I’m perfectly capable of dressing out my deer. Any errors in judgment that I had in my dress code were my mistakes, not something he had to make up for! But he graciously insisted that he could finish the job, and actually enjoyed this part of the hunt! (And he did a great job!)

Here I am, with my buck (complete with my fan-tab-ulous outfit!

Not exactly what I "planned" to wear when hunting, but it works!

 

 

When my Dad and I took my deer to the local butcher shop to be processed, he commented on my unique attire. I guaranteed him that although I was dressed in truly my Sunday’s best, I had no qualms about helping unload the deer. I’m guessing it was a fresh change from some of the guys he sees! 🙂

I don’t have a recipe to share with you today…I’m too tired and and little run down from the craziness of today! But if you go over to my friend Katie’s blog, she has an awesome pheasant recipe (that I happened to supply her with!) and I’m linking up some past venison recipes she has shared…go ahead, check them out!

Just Left of Norm

Yes, I’m a tad bit on the crazy side. I admit it. As I stated in the title, you’d probably consider me just left of normal…well, actually right, depending on the day. But I love to have fun, I love to laugh and I love those around me.

And I’m very impressionable. As in, you can make a suggestion to me, and for some reason my mind believes that things MUST be that way. For example…tell me there’s a man outside my window at night. I become freaked, hear the strangest of sounds and am ready to call 9-1-1 at a moment’s notice. My friends in school used to get a real kick out of it. Scary movies were really entertaining, because I couldn’t sit still, would scream and then wouldn’t sleep for weeks. Fun stuff.

What difference does all this make? Well, it’s moved with me into adulthood. And this time, it’s kinda funny.

You see, on Halloween Scooter was responsible for apples for his school reading party. As I was cutting the apples up Monday morning (and dipping them in lemon juice, so they wouldn’t turn brown before the party that afternoon), a spider dropped out of the bag onto my hand. Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed. But since these weren’t local apples, I caught the spider so that my boys could study it. (I’m such a good mom, right?)

Well, I’m also active in social media, so I posted it on Facebook…where a good friend made this comment:

 

Of course, I immediately thought of my grandmother. She’s been gone more than a year, and I still miss her so much every day. Not only that, but she would have celebrated her 91st birthday just a few days before, so I was content that the spider was her, telling me she loves me, supports me and misses me too.

So I kept the spider in the jar, talked to it, watched it…even fed it a few flies. I figured a day or two, the spider would die and all would be well.

Here we are, more than a week later, and this spider is still alive. And now I can’t kill it. I’ve tried. I want to, really I do…but…well…I can’t. I even asked Mark to kill it last night, while I was sleeping. He said no.

Any thoughts on how long a spider will live? Any volunteers to spider-sit when we’re gone? (And I believe Christy should be the first to volunteer.)

Hunt My Meat Monday

I know, I’m funny, right? Normally I participate in Hunk of Meat Monday with Beyer Beware…but today, I don’t have any meat to make, because my hunt was unsuccessful this weekend. Oh well, I have two more weekends to work some magic.

But I want to share my hunting story, because I think you will enjoy it!

Things I need for my hunt: blaze orange, gratis tag, shells, clip, pelvis saw.

Deer season opened at noon on Friday. The boys and I drove around a bit, but didn’t really do much for hunting. Saturday morning, bright and early, I walked the trees behind our house with some friends. Then we walked more trees and then we walked some more. (By the way, did you know that hunting is GREAT exercise?)

We saw a few deer, but I never did shoot. Not sure why. Hmmm…better get over that!

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, my little sister and I decided to walk another set of trees. It wasn’t a great day for hunting, it was cool and the wind was blowing 40+ mph. After we walked the trees, we thought maybe walking the slough next to the trees would be a good idea. The chances of having the deer laying in the weeds were pretty good with the wind the way it was. And so Amy decided to take the south side of the slough…and I took the north.

What I did not realize is that the slough extended for most of the quarter of land. And in order for me to cross the slough, to get back to the road where the vehicle was parked, I needed to either A) walk for about a half-mile north before heading east again, or B) get my shoes a little wet. I decided to go with B…looking back on it, I should have hoofed it farther.

Anyway, I was walking along, crossing the slough where it looked the driest and the most narrow. But you know about looks, right? They can be deceiving.

About 10 yards from solid ground, the ground went from squishy to ankle deep water to over knee deep. I was up to my butt in slough water and no where to go but forward. I closed my eyes, prayed I kept my shoes on and forged on…not thinking about what things I may be stepping on, in, etc. My sister was laughing so hard that she could hardly stand!

I finally made it through and out the other side. Shoes still on, clothes soaked, gun dry, mentally smacking myself for not walking the extra bit. Did I mention it was cool? And windy?

The slough behind me didn't LOOK that wet...famous last words.

So, we got into the suburban and I suggested since I was already soaked and dirty, we might as well walk something else while we were out. Apparently my stinky slough-water-filled clothes got to my sister though, she insisted we stop by the house for me to change.

My socks after my little swim in a slough. The slough grass is a nice touch, I think.

Maybe next Monday I’ll have a better story…and hopefully a recipe!