Saturday, May 20, 2006

Two New Kids Arrive

This morning, when we checked the herd, we found some good news! Two new kids hit the ground overnight! Both are doing well. Their mothers are taking great care of them. They are doing so well that both of them headed out into the East Pasture with the herd.

This morning's major project was treating the puppies for fleas. At least the puppies are easy to catch. Start playing with one, and the rest appear to join in the fun. Because of their age, we use diatonomous earth and rub it into their fur. It is non-toxic, inexpensive and safe to use on very young puppies. It takes a few days, but the fleas disappear. We have already placed an ad in the local classifieds newspaper, both under the headings for dogs and for livestock. We hope they sell quickly, or else they will eat up our profits - Purina® Puppy Chow® gets expensive fast. And do these puppies eat! Although only six weeks old, they weigh over ten pounds apeace. Of course, when full grown, they will each weigh between 100 and 140 pounds without being fat.

The site for the garden is starting to take shape. We started cleaning up the downed tree which fills most of the plot. About two-thirds of the broken branches are now moved over to the firewood pile. It will help us cut the heating bill this winter. Once the rest of this little stuff is cleaned up, we can start cutting up the bigger branches with the chain saw.

Tonight, we are babysitting our tennant's niece and nephew. Our tennent, along with her sister and brother-in-law and some other friends, are going to see one of the local "heavy metal" bands in concert at a local club. It's been over a decade since we had children this small in the house.


Her Job May Just Work Out

Well, my wife has been on the job for a week now. She is breaking horses at a ranch in the eastern part of our county. The major project she is working on is a very skittisy mule. He has been ridden in the past, but from his behaviour, she thinks he may have been abused. So far, she has gotten him to take the blanket and the saddle. Getting him to accept the bridle and bit is proving the be a real challenge. After she succeeds at this, she can begin to try getting on him. I will lay odds that the first time, she will be bucked off.

She believes in this job. She has arranged an interview for her best friend to inverview at the same ranch. Although her best friend grew up on a farm, somehow I find it difficult to see her breaking horses for a living.

The school year is winding down for our children. My daughter has just finished the third, and final, presentation of her junior high school's production of The Music Man. It was a very ambitious project for any junior high, but her choir teacher persisted and they pulled it together. Next week, it will be my son's turn. His choir class will have their eend of year receital on Monday.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Happy Mother's Day - She Got the Job

My wife went on a job interview to a horse ranch today. It turned into an all-day affair and, best of all, she got the job! She is working for a horse trainer, "breaking" horses. We are not talking about wild mustangs. These are saddle horses which have not been ridden for a while. After a prolonged "vacation," some of them are not happy being saddled and ridden again. She will saddle them, ride them and renew their lessons on how to respond to the reins and their rider's signals. This looks like a job she will really enjoy!

A decision was reached today. One of our female dogs is "in heat." This is attracting the attention of our male and the males from at least one of the neighboring ranches. This is a good thing, as it should provide us with another litter of puppies to sell. However, this female is not interested in mating. She sits down and growls when one of the males tries to mount her. The decision has been made - if she will not breed, she will be sold to another ranch where they are not looking to breed dogs.

Other than that, with the rain today, we did not get much work done here at the ranch. The weather should be better tomorrow.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Life Goes Back to Normal

Now that graduation is over, life on the ranch is going back to normal. My wife is planning to put her newly-certified knowledge to work. Among her plans is to start a rather large garden, plant some fruit trees and add a chicken coop.

She has started planning the garden. We visited the County Agricultural Extension office for information on what vegetables grow best in our area, based on climate, soil type, availablity of water and local insect pests. According to the agent, most of the usual vegetables do well. He advised staying away from corn and gave only a luke-warm recommendation on peas. But beans, carrots, beets, radishes, cucumbers, okra and squashes do very well. Deadly Nightshade family plants, such as tomatos, peppers and eggplant, require some special handling. He recommended using a soaker hose and covering the soil between the plants with black plastic. The plastic will hold the water in the soil and allow the plant to absorb water at a steady rate. Also, he said not to add any nitrogen boosting fertilizer until after the plants have started to set fruit. He also recommended that we raise tomatos, peppers and squashes for sale.

The next step for the garden is to clear the firewood from that location. A tree fell a while back and we have been cutting it up for firewood, a little at a time. This tree is now in the way. Wwe will have take the chain saw and cut it all up, and then move it out of the way. After that, the garden needs to be fenced to keep the herd out. The goats would be simply thrilled to eat our garden before we have anything for the table.

She also want to start a chicken coop, but this plan is much further from fruition. The fruit trees will go into the isolation compound. The land there needs work, first. I believe she plans to plant the trees after the summer heat is over.

Today, the project was medicating the herd. It was time for the periodic worming. The procedure is simple: grab a goat, estimate the weight, measure the medicine and squirt the dose into their mouth. The hard part, of course, is the grab a goat part. It only took us three hours to dose the whole herd. Not too bad. We also found that one of our neighbor's goats is hiding in our herd. Attempts to return her to the neighbor's herd failed - she returned to our herd. Oh, well. I am sure that we have probably lost at least one animal to his herd over the years.

One sidelight - a horse rancher in the northern part of the county has offered my wife a job. She will drop by tomorrow, Mother's Day, to get the details and for him to look at her riding and horsemanship. If this works out, we will have some additional income, but the children will have to do more to keep the ranch in good order. It might delay the garden by a week or two, but we will get the garden in.

The opportunity to give Max away fell through. The couple who were looking to get him are no longer interested - in fact, they are no longer a couple. They broke up. Oh, well. We will find another home for him.

Monday, May 08, 2006


Graduation went very well. The ceremony was quite impressive. On the floor of the Exposition Center, chairs were lined up for the faculty and students. The relatives sat up in the bleachers. My wife's mother, brother and sister were present. Her father, unfortunately, had to stay in California to recuperate.

First the school dignitaries walked in, followed immediately by the faculty. Then the students walked in and sat down. The festivities were started with an invocation followed by the National Anthem played by our local high school band. The school dignitaries each gave their speeches. The guest speaker was our local Congressman, who spoke about time - how precious it is, how we waste it and how better we can use it. At least, he was consistent - rather than waste our time, he kept his speech short.

The students were then called, one by one, to receive their diplomas. Of the 1,100 graduates, only two were awarded their degrees by a member of the faculty, rather than by the school dignitaries. My wife was one of those two. She received her diploma from her history professor. This caused my wife's sister and mother to cry.

After the ceremony, our group headed for a weekend at Canyon of the Eagles. This is a lodge and campground on the shore of one of the recouviors on the lower Colorado River. Her mother paid for the first night and her brother and sister paid for the second. We spent our days hiking and catching up on times. It was a good visit.

Friday, May 05, 2006

The Kid Didn't Make It

The surviving kid from the twins that were born on Wednesday didn't survive the first twenty-four hours. The one twin had been stillborn. Some time between the 10PM and midnight feeding, the other twin died.

In my previous post, I mentioned that because the doe walked away, we would have to feed this one every two hours. One of the reasons she walked away was that the kid was weak and did not stand almost immediately. Usually, a newborn kid is standing within half an hour. Sometimes it takes longer, but the kid will survive with lots of help and encourgement. Not being able to stand is still a very bad sign. This kid had been trying to stand all afternoon and evening, but just didn't have enough strength and couldn't find her balance. Right after feeding her, she would make some gallant attempts and then give up for a while. We tried a one hour feeding schedule, but she actively resisted it. In my opinion, her digestive system was not quite mature enough to provide her with the nourshment she needed from the milk she took in.

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away...

The first thing this morning, we took the kid out to the east pasture and disposed of it. This caused us to leave a little late for school. When asked why my son was late, I told the attendance clerk that we had to dispose of a dead kid. The initial look on her face was priceless, then she remembered that we raise goats. She listed the tardy as excused due to a "livestock problem." I wish my wife was there to see this clerk's face...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Kids on the Ranch

Good news and bad news! The good news: doe #13 delivered twins! The bad news: one was stillborn and she walked away from the other. We think this is the second time she walked away from her kids. My wife, the chief rancher, has ruled that if #13 walks away from another kid, she will gain a name - "4Sale".

Other good news: My wife's mother will be here for her graduation! Unfortunately, her father is staying in California to recuperate.

Another complication to graduation - the new kid. For the next week, this kid will need to be bottle fed every two to three hours. After that, we can stretch it out to once every three, then four hours. We have set up the small animal cage in the kitchen for the new kid to call home for the next three weeks.

As for the rest of the animals, our tenant's children will care for them for two days. This will allow us to spend time with my wife's family while they are in town. We plan to spend the weekend at one of the local Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) parks, the Canyon of the Eagles. Of course, the new kid will have to come with us.

The puppies are really getting active. They are wandering all around the barn and main pasture. We will be putting an advertisement in the local classifieds. It's time to sell this crop.