Super summer Saturday

Well, we finally did it. We managed to have a real family day. Spent doing nothing but family stuff. Well, except that morning. Mark had to rotate the tires on the suburban, but that was it. We hit the road.

We spent a wonderful day at our niece and nephew’s birthday party. And we had a blast!

There was a pinata…

George decided he wanted a turn!



And then there was an attempt at getting a family picture…

Scooter, 7; EJ, 4; George, 2; and Big Bro, soon-to-be 9!



And then there was playing…lots and lots of playing!

The water table was a big, big hit!



EJ had to concentrate hard on his plans.



Little hands at work.



Some rare Daddy play time!


And then, as we were getting ready to leave, the idea came up that we take a drive to see the historic Garrison Dam (it’s releasing water for the first time since it was built!). It was a little bit of a jaunt, but it added to our special day…and we had special guests with us too! (Uncle Bryan and his little angel joined us for the drive…although mostly just napping for the little ones!)

It was an amazing sight to see!

Garrison Dam - releasing water



And then, when we hit Bismarck on our way home, this lovely little storm added some excitement to our journey…

I kept having flashbacks from the movie, "Independence Day."



Yeah, it was definitely kinda creepy!


On our way home, we stopped and visited a college-friend of Mark’s and had a great visit…plus I was able to pick up some 4-H pointers! Score for me!!! The kids played well, even with it being on the late side. Although I had to make sure that EJ didn’t take home any extra tractors! It was great to spend a normal day, much like many other families.

On the farm, that doesn’t happen nearly often enough!

It’s All in the Name

I spent the weekend helping out my Mom and Dad do a few projects around their house…like replacing a hot water heater. It was tons of fun…really.

Actually, I don’t mind helping them one bit. They’ve always done so much for us and since I was always the one physically closest to them, I’ve been part of many projects. Like replacing a porch floor, repainting the entry way, residing part of the house…little things like that.

I was thinking back on my days in school. You know, those days that you are forced to take classes like shop and home-ec. (I think they call it industrial arts and consumer science now. Ha!)

I remember one shop project in particular. We were supposed to make name plates for our homes. You know, those fancy routered slabs of wood that have the last name engraved on them and look so great outside your house? Well, that’s what it was “supposed” to look like.

I finished the project, but I had a bone to pick with the shop teacher. First of all, I was a girl, and if I got married, my last name was changing. So what was the point of the project? I wasn’t keeping it forever.

Second, we had to pay for the wood by the inch. Which to me, wasn’t fair. I mean, some people had really choice last names, like “Rall” and “Hafey.” I mean, even “Beringer” was bearable and wasn’t going to break the bank. My last name? Are you ready?


Yep. My expensive piece of wood was supposed to hold all those letters.

I was going to need a week, just to get the router through all that. And then paint. And then send it through the planer. It was a grueling project. And not all that cheap.

And here we are, some 20 years later. And guess what?

Anyone have an extra-large doorway? It needs a bit of TLC and a new coat of varnish, but it's all there!

My Mom and Dad still have it on the front steps in front of the house.
I think they just want to make sure they get their money’s worth.

Calving by the numbers – Ag Book of the Day 5

I promised yesterday a calving post, but the day got away from me…I know, real shocker, right?

Here is the 2011 calving data:

2/11/11 – Starting date of calving

5 – cows left to calve, as of this posting

75 – number of bull calves

95 – number of heifer calves

9 – most calves in one day, including two sets of twins

2/19/11 – most sets of twins in a 24 hr. period (5 sets)

48 lb. – smallest calf (a twin)

130 lb. – largest calf (not a twin…but born by c-section, only vet call for an assisted delivery this year. Knock on wood.)

18 – number of sets of twins for this year

This group of twin calves is enjoying a day in the sun!

8 – number of sets of twins that were heifer/bull sets (I’ll get into why that’s important to know in another blog, but if you follow Cows_Life on twitter, you’d already know that answer!)

12 – number of calves that have died

3/17/11 – first day that we did not have a calf since calving began

165 – number of cows on the farm right now

170 – number of calves on the farm right now

This calf is a twin...notice the "B" on it's tag? There's an "A" to match!


And now onto today’s Ag Book of the Day:

“Buttercup, the Clumsy Cow” by Julia Moffatt and Lisa Williams. It’s a really cute book, focusing on how to make the most out of any situation. Yes, it’s silly, but you need some humor on the farm too! Plus, it still gives plenty of places where you can talk about real-farm stuff, like the dangers of wildlife to livestock, etc. Mostly, my boys just love it!

Not-so-wordless Wednesday – Ag Book of the Day 3

Since it’s Reading Month at the school, I figured that it wouldn’t serve my purpose very well to go wordless today. But I am featuring a book that doesn’t have a LOT of words to it. It’s one of George’s favorites, and it is:

Large Slide and Find Trucks: Large Slide and Find Trucks

“Trucks” by Priddy Books. It’s a board book, with slide and find panels. And it’s GREAT! Most board books/lift-the-flap/slide-panels don’t last in our house. They are usually destroyed very quickly by little hands that aren’t careful, patient, etc. Not this one.

George can look at this book for HOURS and I do mean hours. It covers colors, different types of transportation, different kind of workers (not just farmers, although there are definitely tractors in it!). Again, it’s just another great book.

Today at school it was Bandana Day, “wrap up with a good book.” Big Bro was excited to wear a bandana to school. Scooter decided that he was to old for that stuff (which is totally unlike him). Oh well, to each their own.

There it is…my book of the day. But in keeping with the Wordless Wednesday theme, here’s some of my favorite George shots. Enjoy!

Don't mind my dirty face, I'm still cute!


Look into my eyes...

Boxes aren't the only cheap toy!

Guess who will be 2 soon?

You might not be able to put Baby in a corner, but you can put George in a bucket!

Yeah, they call me Grace

Uh oh. I think I’ve really done a number now. Yeah, I went almost all winter without a problem. In fact, I think the last time I saw a doctor was my check-up after George was born. But I’m guessing I’ll be heading in soon.

I can’t lift my left arm. As in, it hurts to put on my jacket. Lifting George is almost impossible. Typing is OK, but only because I use my fingers, and don’t move my arm.

You see, it’s winter here in North Dakota. And with winter comes snow…and ice. With ice comes quick trips to meet the ground. But the problem was that I didn’t let myself fall gracefully. Nope, I had to go “Val” it up and make it painful. I somehow jammed my shoulder. The silver lining? It’s my left arm, not my right. (You see? There’s a silver lining in EVERY situation, you just have to look a little harder sometimes.)

I’m guessing I have some tears in there. I’m guessing it’ll be a bit before it feels better. And I’m guessing that this is going to be a long spring.

Maybe, if I’m lucky enough, I’ll fall again and knock it back to normal? Hey, a gal can dream, can’t she?

It’s time to go out again and check cows. My wishes are that 1) #70 hasn’t calved and I can actually get her to the barn this time, 2) if I DO fall, that I don’t break anything, and 3) it’s 70 degrees outside. (Hey, as long as I’m wishing here, I might as well throw in one big one, just to make the others seem more plausible.)

Good night! And if I don’t wave to you tomorrow, it’s not because I don’t want to, it’s because I can’t! 😉

Post of destruction

I’m not sure that words are necessary…so just watch the slide show.

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I didn’t take the picture of the Game and Fish official who stopped and had picked up a pick-up load of the carcasses. (He did give me permission to take a photo.) These were just the ones left behind, or the ones not picked up yet. It makes me sad, frustrated and wondering.

To quote the Game and Fish website, the department’s mission statement is:

“The mission of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department is to protect, conserve and enhance fish and wildlife populations and their habitat for sustained public consumptive and appreciative use.”

Well, they’re failing.

Ever increasing problem

We have a “small” problem on our farm. I call it a small problem, because the animals themselves aren’t all that large, but the number in which they are here…that’s where the issue lies.

Last year it started as a nuisance. I warned Boss Man that I thought the deer around our house seemed to be getting closer and closer, and seemed to bring their extended families with them. At first, he kind of brushed off my concerns, saying that they had never really bothered the hay before and that they would probably move on shortly.

They didn’t.

In fact, they seemed to rather enjoy themselves, and made themselves right at home. As you can see here: (Warning, this is the first video I had ever shot, so please excuse the nausea-inducing zooming and movement…I’ve learned…well, at least a little.)

This year is a whole new ballgame. We have already enrolled the help of our state Game and Fish, who have come up with some interesting tactics. (For instance, a really neat gun-looking, bottle-rocket-on-steroids type thing!)

To explain it from my husband’s point of view, I’ll just give you the run-down of a conversation we had:

“It’s a double-edged sword. If they eat my hay, they won’t starve. They’ll be stronger and healthier, but then they’ll also survive winter and there will be more next year.

“If they don’t eat my hay, they’ll starve. But they’ll be weak and more susceptible to disease, exposing my herd to who-knows-what.”

And this is what we’re talking about for this year:

So, you see, we’re in a tough spot. If we don’t feed the deer, they will get sick and die. But may expose our cows to all sorts of unwanted stuff.

If we feed the deer, they won’t leave, and could still get sick and die. And we will still have exposure to whatever it is they are carrying.

We have already spent money on buying panels to place all around our feed, such as the silage that we cut and the freshly-ground hay. Game and Fish suggest that we space our hay stacks closer together, but our insurance insists that our hay stays further apart. I personally don’t believe that where our hay is located would make much difference to this large number of animals.

The amount of money that has been lost through the hay and feed that has been destroyed is almost nauseating. But the danger to the health of our herd is what has us the most concerned. We are doing all we can to protect our livestock, but it would be nice if there was a better system in place to assist producers that come across these issues.

Trust me, this is something that Boss Man and I will be working on.