Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Big Red, Round Two

Big Red is testing my patience.  We've had many animals before that have held onto their baby, but this is ridiculous. 

All yesterday the weather was hot, humid and windy and it was supposed switch up and get a cold wind from the south.  Perfect storm weather and seemingly perfect weather for an animal to have a baby.  After supper last night, we decided to take a trip down to Big D's dad's farm to check out our ducklings he'd hatched out for us in his hatchery.  By the time we got home the wind had switched.  It was getting black to the west, still windy, getting really cool and there was some lightening ripping through the sky. 

                                           very dark sky at 5 PM

D and I knew we had to work quick.  We got all the kids inside and worked together as a team giving very quick baths and throwing everybody to bed, the big kids helped out too.  Not throwing...okay throwing...we were in a hurry. 

Quick as a wink we were down to the feedlot with our sweatshirts and mud boots on.  With the wind swirling around us, we found Big Red, laying peacefully in the corner of the east pen.  It worked out great, we shooed the rest of the cows out of the corner and closed the gates around her.

"You've got to put new bedding in there for her!" I yelled over the hum of the wind. 
"She's got a dry spot right up here, she's fine." D yelled back. 

More lightening, wind and pist. (mist/pee combination.  I'm going to call Webster's Dictionary and see if that could be a new word.)

"Well maybe...you unchain the gates and I'll get a couple of our own square bales for her." Big D hollered as he got in the big wheeler.  I looked at peaceful, spoiled Big Red, laying there like a huge princess as I got her some water and got some feed out of the bunk for her.  "You're totally not going to have a calf tonight are you?" I asked her. 

She didn't answer back.  She just looked at me like she wanted a nap but she would have to wait until she got her nice bed of straw.  I closed the gate and waited for D.  The wind was whipping and the sky behind the grove was pink with lightening.  Yeah pink.  There was tornado warnings out in our county for a few hours yet.

I thought about it, here was this cow...of course she wasn't going to calve.  All this pampering was for nothing.  I know she's going to have it out in the lot when were not prepared.  And I was out here in (almost) twister weather.  If I was hmmm about 75-80 pounds lighter and had a hot co-star, I'd be like Helen Hunt in the "Twister" movie. Although in my movie there was a lot more manure.  On the ground and my body.  My hair was whipping too, and sticking to the pist on my face.  Okay, so it was just me, D & Red.  But I think we'd at least make one hell of a reality show. 

AND by the way, as of now...still no calf!!

Happy Trails!

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Calm Before The Storm

I'm back.  No, I didn't take two days off and go to a spa or on a short vacation (although, I did go to the grocery store by myself, that counts doesn't it?)

Things on the farm are clicking at an even keel.  But something is coming...THE BUSY SEASON.  Actually, the busy season has started, but I feel really confident about it.  Super weird.  In other words, so far...I'm keeping up. 

BUT, as the busy season looms in the back of my mind, so does the huge list that goes with it.  First of all, if the sun ever comes out and stays for a few days, we have major hay to cut, thanks to all this rain.  Seriously, thanks man upstairs!

Also this week, our cold tunnel will be arriving.  (A cold tunnel is like a greenhouse that doesn't have heat and it's used to extend the growing season.) We've never set one up before so it should be pretty interesting.  D and I will have to both sign that no cussing each other out contract...again.  I think that will have to be tattooed on our bodies before the summer's done.  I want the tunnel set up like the day it comes here, although I know it can't happen that way...how about day 2 of it being here?  I shouldn't talk, I have all the seeds...written on an order form that has to be mailed yet. 

In ten days we have a family reunion here and we are all excited for it...Big D is even getting into the spirit of things.  He made a huge hog roaster out of a big tank.  We love to entertain so this is going to be so fun.  But three days of company means three days of not doing anything chore like, just the necessities.  YIKES!   So not only are we getting the yard ready and beautiful, (YES! can we have a family reunion every year?) we are trying to get a jump on things before we get all this company.

In approximately 12 days, 21 hours, 50 minutes and 30 seconds from....NOW! We have 125 chickens to butcher.  Big D thought that butchering chickens would be a nice addition to the "Amazing Race" challenge we are having with my family. He was thinking his segment could be, "Who can find the first gizzard?", or "who can clean pin feathers off 5 chickens the fastest?" I didn't think that would go over too well.  Besides that, if we were going to do farm stuff, I would rather they do something like, "who can worm a sheep the quickest." or "who can put salve on the buck rabbit's eye infection while he's ripping your arm to shreds".  Hey our Rachel is  good with a box of band aids!

Just when I thought that D couldn't come up with something cooler than the last idea that he had, he comes up with this one:  "lets try burning the weeds in the grapes."  OMG(osh) I think that has to be the best idea yet.  He already did one row and asked me to come out and look at it his progress.  "I know you're gonna see something you don't like, so just say it." He told me as we were walking next to the row.  Am I really that bad? Yeah, I am pretty picky I'll admit it.  But, I couldn't pick anything apart on this...it was awesome!  Now if it would quit raining, we could finish the job!  You know, things have to be perfect in 10 days...

The garden is planted and "fairly" weed free.  Now, we are waiting for the pumpkin patch to be planted.  I do have the seeds for that.  =)

The kids are working on their barn project, and they will be able to have new flooring up there soon.  They are learning a lot.  They have to put railings up around the stairs and other little things, then their rainy day play area will be done.  They are very excited! Evidently, some basketball hoops are going up there too. 

I'm figuring out the design for a 8 foot by 8 foot quilt square for the back side of the barn that people driving by will see from the road.  No one else has one up around here so I'm going to be the rebel.  I think anything to promote our farm is a good thing...and it's super fun to work on that kind of stuff with the kids.

We are also working on a fruit/veggie stand for in town, the pumpkin patch activities, the parade float we will use to promote the farm in area parades, and the list goes on and on, and on, and on...

Happy trails (of paper known as my to-do list!)

Friday, May 27, 2011


This is hands down my favorite season.  Why?  Here's a few reasons:

  • The sheep can graze the vineyard, thus eating the weeds.  They are here until one day they decide to look up and see delicious grape leaves and tender baby grape clusters. Munch...back to the real sheep pasture you grape vine eating butt heads!
  • Baby animals - who can get enough of baby animals? 

  • And speaking of baby grapes....do you see the small grape bunches? The tips are red.  Aren't they a pretty sight? 

  • The first thunderstorm of the season. Nothing beats a good couple thunder boomers and a nice rain to fall asleep to.

What was I thinking???  Forget about sweet sounding rains and stupid thunder!  We put the kids to bed and walked through the feedlot checking for calves...in the "almost" dark.  In the mud and wet poop as we chased the cows to higher ground.  As it poured on us.  Hard.  We've had 1 1/2 inches of rain this afternoon! 

When is summer coming????

Happy muddy trails,

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    What Kind Of Mother Is She??

    This is "One Eye".  Apparently, it's mother doesn't care about it.   Or so some of my kids think.   "One Eye", who is named for obvious reasons, has been showing up in the yard by the trampoline each night when the kids are getting in their last jumps before bath time.  The bird might as well walk up to the dog's dish and crawl right in.  He's lucky that the kids are outside since they've saved his little birdy butt more than once.  Fluffy pounces around it, as it hops ignoring her, which makes the dog even crazier. 

    We have another mother who is in questionable standing.  This one carelessly lets her babies jump out of their nesting box.    "Who knows if they even get fed," one of the girls had angrily told me about them being out.  "What kind of mother is she?"

    This mother takes the cake.  Her poor son can't stand the yelling anymore from his horrible mom, so he had go get his dad's shop headphones.  Poor kid.

    Just kidding. 

    Although, that same mother met her daughter in the hallway while she was running to the bathroom in the middle of last night saying that she was going to puke.  AND that MOTHER told her she would leave a puke bowl outside the bathroom.  Then she went to bedDo you think I want to get sick again?  NOT!

    We did have a talk about the mothers here at the farm with the little kids. 
    Grace thought that the mother robin had left her baby to make new friends.  The baby bunnies were just having quiet time.
    Rachel said, "I want some candy!" 
    Levi, who lives and breathes hunting, said, "Bird die," in a matter a fact voice, then closed his eyes, stuck out his tongue and dropped to the ground.  This is the kid who watches the hunting channel while everyone else watches Sponge Bob. 

    I simply told them that these babies are old enough to experiment new experiences without their mother's constant attention. 

    Then, thinking that these mothers were very smart, I told everybody to get their chores done and I for a change, I was not going to help. 

    Happy Trails!

    Wednesday, May 25, 2011

    What Did You Wreck Now?

    It's no secret.  I mow in "road gear" or as my husband calls it, "Balls to the Wall".  I don't do it for the thrill of speeding through our grapes, our large yard,  the trails and the apple trees.  I do it because I don't have time to dilly dally.  That's right, there's no dilly dallying around here for me. 

    To do all the mowing around here, takes a good four hours.  That's with the rider and Cody running our "Miss Greenie" (she's our orchard tractor) with the pull behind mower.  By the way, you know you are mowing too much when you have to kiss your kids good-bye and pack a sack lunch in the morning and your able to eat it while letting your mower cool off. 

    We got a new mower this year, not new, just new to us.  Here's something about me that you may not know.  I fear change.  What if my old Husquavarna rider would choke every 5 minutes and have black smoke roll out of it like an 80's heavy metal band was about to perform?  Here's the thing...I didn't know how to run this new one.  When you think about it, I'm such a dork.  This mower has a way bigger deck, foot petals, still no power steering (but I'm not complaining, I only have to mow for FOUR hours) and I could mow over a cow in the feedlot and it wouldn't quit.

    Here's another thing, mowing the Fairchild farm is a teeth clincher.  No kidding the grass gets about 5 inches tall in five days, or taller.  Sometimes you don't pick up everything because quite frankly, you can't see it, then you hear it: CRUNCH!!!!!!  Here's a list of everything I've ran over:
    • Pop cans and pop bottles, I have told my kids that I will call the police about littering and "how will you come up with money for a seven hundred dollar fine Missy??"
    • Rocks.  This new mower split one in half.  Yeah I'm bragging.
    • Twine, twine and more twine.  Then it's down to the cattle shed to get the bobcat to lift up the front end of the mower and cut and untangle.  Big D really loves doing this as you can imagine.
    • Shoes.  Someday my kids will realize that if you don't take care of something that you need either myself or the dog will get it.
    • Kitchen utensils.  "But Mom!  I needed that to make a dirt pie.  Taste it, it looks as good as your food you make."  Honestly, someday they will know that's not a compliment.  Brown nosers!
    • My frying pan.  May you rest in peace trusty friend.  "No I can't use it anymore.  It's in a square shape and is missing the handle." 
    • Hoses.  You just can't see these until you are right on top of it. Man!  Big D also doesn't like this.
    • Wire.  Again, down to the shed.  Watch D's face get red.

      The grossest of all time?
      • A rat.  Yes, I'm serious.  It was a shock to both of us (me and the rat).  In fact me, whose deathly afraid of vermin (I won't even let my kids get a  hamster) rode the lawn mower all the way up to the house, freaking out all the way.  I had the willies so bad, that even as I type this I'm getting goosebumps! 
      Oh the horror.  You know I'm going to tell you the story.  We all love to hate grossness.

      It was my bright idea to mow down by the bins on a nice summer day.  Big D had just moved the round bales and apparently some rats had taken shelter in them.  About five minutes after he moved those, I took action.  Before he was going to put something else there, I was going to mow the weeds down.  After my first swipe, I looked back at my progress.  'Very Nice', I thought to myself.  I went to do a second swipe. That's when I heard the "kerchunk" of course my teeth were clenched because who knows what kind of landmines are waiting for me (I have a headache from doing this for four hours after my four hour mowing).  I quickly turned to see what I hit and there it was.  A rat still alive but cut in down the center.  I still swear I saw his heart beating.  He was on his back, kind of sitting up, propped up against the weeds.  Eeks!  Hold on, I need to call in a session with a counselor, I'll be right back...  

      Okay I'm back.  He said, "the rat thing?  Get a grip. Your not coming in...I'm having dinner with my family."

      Seriously, I hope this gave you a little chuckle.  I know I do my best lawn work when D's gone.  Then he gets home and shakes his head and asks, "What did you wreck this time?"

      Happy Trails!

      Monday, May 23, 2011

      Dreams and Visions

      Do you find yourself being impatient about your dreams and what you want out of life?  Why can't it just happen?  Fall into your lap?  It sure would be much easier, than to plan and ponder, think, save, want...but I think I've finally grown up folks.  I have learned if it's earned, its worth the wait. 

      Take this cow for example.  I've been telling Big D that she's going to have a calf for the last 10 days.  Last night, she had some mucus so I got all excited.  We separated her and now we sit. And wait. She's happy as a clam and I think she will hold that baby in forever.  Why not, Big Red is a princess right now, she's got cornstalk bedding, her water and feed brought to her and all the cows in the east pen are jealous.  She's feeling like the cat that ate the canary.  I think she's doing this on purpose, just to make me wait.  I want her calf and I'm hoping it's going to be a red heifer. Look at that udder she's about to burst, but I do think God is trying to teach me a lesson in patience.

      I'm suprised I even get sleep because I'm constantly thinking and dreaming about what we could do here on the farm.  Don't get me wrong, I love the life that Big D and I have.  We have each other (at least I'm happy about that.  I'm pretty sure he is.) also we have 8 great kids. 


      Where would be without dreams?  I have no idea, because that's all I do.  I remember when I wanted to move out here as a single mom to finish my degree in Livestock Management.  I was going to move right back to the cities when I was done and get a job at Cargill, or so I thought.  But once I got here I knew that it was going to be for good.  I had never felt so at home and welcomed anywhere I'd been previously.  I still love it.

      After D and I had gotten married, I had told him that I dreamed of  having an animal all my own.  I recall mentioning goats.  I recall him saying "NEVER!"  I also recall him going almost to Iowa to get some then out to the Black Hills twice to buy goats.  Have I said how much I love this man?

      I'll never forget the time that I had told him that I had seen a vineyard documentary and it looked cool. He said I watched too much tv. Although he was hooked when we took an afternoon and visited a vineyard in south of Marshall, MN. 

      It's no secret that custom feeding cattle can be trying.  Expensive cattle and expensive corn means nobody wants to fill our lots.  So with that said, I'm always trying to figure out something to help us out financially when I know the lots are going to be empty.  That's when the idea of our pumpkin patch was born.  Ron wasn't sure about it, he wasn't sure about people trapsing all over our farm, but he found out how much he loved it after the first weekend.  We are already planning for this upcoming season and are pretty excited. 

      That brings us to the present and the dreams we have now.  Sometimes I will go up on Grape Hill, (the hill above our vineyard) and dream about owning all the land that originated with the farm.  320 acres.  Isn't that amazing?  We only have 22 of those. Over the years, (not by Ron)  it's been sold off or lost.  These pictures show the land around us.

       Oh to have those as our own...

      Big D and I talk about what we'd do with it all the time.  We would turn it into nut groves, apple orchards, we'd love to have pears, try out cherries and other fruits that are being approved for this area.  We'd also raise vegetables for mass markets, get more sheep, have a few horses and finally have some pasture for some cows. 

      But do you know what would be really great?  We'd like to share our knowledge with kids and adults interested in horticulture.  Wouldn't it be awesome to have day camps in the summer, or school trips out here to show kids how to grow things and see farm animals?  This generation is the furthest removed from agriculture yet.  D and I firmly believe that that needs to change. 

      We also have a love for community and we are always discussing how many jobs this could create in our area.  In our talks up on Grape Hill, we think it would be awesome to have scholarships for kids entering college as well. 

      As I daydream and type about if we could do this or that... I'm sitting in my office, I mean Maggie's bedroom, I mean our storage room.  I just yelled out to the kids for supper, and afterwards I went past our one bathroom.  That is super tiny.  Like a broom closet.  Now I told the kids to be quiet, I just put the baby in her room for a nap, I mean our bedroom.  OKAY...maybe my dream needs to be changed to a  bigger house!

      Happy Trails,

      Sunday, May 22, 2011

      I Don't Need Calgon, Just Get Me The Hell Out Of Here

      Rain, rain go away,
      my kids need to get out and play.

      If these kids don't get out of here,
      I may just have to have a beer.

      Over and over all I hear is, "I'm bored"
      Some one please put me in the mental ward.

      Then it's "I'm hungry! What can I eat?
      Can you, can you make us a treat?"

      Then I tell them, "I know what you can do,
      Clean up a mess or two."

      Now I see them turn and run,
      And now this rhyme is done.

      Seriously, even I'm going nuts.  I have to be to make up a dorky poem like that.  It's rained almost an inch today and these kids are like caged animals ready to break out at any moment.

      It already started this morning; the kids were trying to sneak out the best they could.  Big D had mouthed "I'm going to do chores."   Apparently he hasn't read the memo that Levi must be able to read lips.  "Me too!" he yelled as he tried to follow his daddy.

      When Grace, Ash & I were trying to go to church we had the little kids hanging on us wanting to "go bye-bye", followed by much crying and then puking from Maggie.  After we promised candy from the store, pinky swore and I just plain swore, we were out.  

      When lunch was over I got told that the baby had found Maggie's "carpet hairy" sucker and she was now covered in sucker juice.  After that ordeal we put little kids to bed, and I informed the eye rollers that we had to clean some wool.  I reminded them of our goal. They didn't care.  They hate wool.  I got told that.  About 70 times. 

      When we finished (a whole hour later) I told them to go work on a project of their choice, which is the upstairs of the barn.  They are turning it into a basketball court and there is still so much old straw and junk from like 20+ years ago.  I would rather see them do that than play on the computer or watch tv any day, and this is something they really want to do.

      They had fun with that, but I did make up that stupid rule about D and I being done at 5 PM.  So Kara and I went for a bike ride, in the rain and in the mud and got wet and muddy.  It was awesome, the peace and quiet of the open road was great.   

      We get back and were met by chaos..."Mom, Grace just hit hit in me in the booger hole."  Rachel yelled at us at the door and then ran away. 
       Big D is so great because he was starting supper, I laughed and said "Calgon, take us away." and I winked at him.
      "Who needs Calgon," He yelled over the screams, giggles, farts, burps and other assorted loud sounds. "Just get me the hell outta here!"

      Saturday, May 21, 2011

      First Day of Summer Vacation = 1st Family Meeting of The Season

      Ahh, the first day of summer vacation.  The one day a year that D and I think we are going to go broke feeding everyone and we think the school lunch bill  "wasn't that bad".  Seriously, can a kid be that hungry all the time?  Times that by 8?  Eeks!

      Big D and I discussed the summer last night and everything we had to do. We decided...it was time for a sit down session with our kids.  So I wrote a list and called a meeting for this morning and told everyone before they went to bed.  More eye rolling. Even some sighs were involved.

      "If those eyes roll out of your head, you will have a hard time weeding grapes!"  I yelled after the last kid as she went to bed. 
      "Sheesh, the attitudes," Ron said. 

      Well we got everybody together after breakfast at about 7:30 this morning.  There was a lot of crying (Levi, Maggie, and Jessica aren't morning people.  Sleep in kids, come on!)  Then it happened.  Just as we got to the part about keeping up with yard chores, Maggie starts throwing up.  Did Cody pay her to do that?

      So picture this:  We are all at the table, except for the few that ran to get a towel and puke pail, the others are eating like their sister didn't just throw up 4 feet from them and I'm trying to gain control of the crowd again.  Puking, crying, eye rolling and losing control.

      "Hurry up, I have to get chores done," Big D said as I'm getting to the point about computer time and how we think they should have friends over.  He so didn't help the situation.  We did all agree on one thing as we sat through the barfing and screaming.  We're going to work for a 15 passenger van so we when we go somewhere we can all ride in one vehicle. 

      Later today, we got all the blossoms cut off our Ginger Gold trees (except for a few), then cut all the blooms off the new strawberries and did a little weeding.  In these pictures we were planting black raspberries this afternoon.  So far we have 52 planted, and we have 98 left that we will get done tomorrow along with weeding some grapes. 

      So to make a long story short, we got our point across, everybody retained their eyeballs and we actually got the kids remembering how much fun it is to work together as a team. Hopefully that's how our whole summer will go!

      Happy Trails!

      PS Yes that is Rachel wearing her church tights, a swim suit and rain boots.  I don't know either!


      Friday, May 20, 2011

      Meanie Butt and The Girl Who Dares to Say It

      Since it's raining out and I don't have any farm news to report, I will introduce you to one of our crazy little ladies.  This is Maggie.  Her alias' are (but not limited to):  Mugga, Mugga Jugga, Belly Bumper and Mags.  Don't let that way too cute smile and those little dolly eyes fool you.  She's got a mean streak in her a mile wide. 

      What she's known for:  Belly bumping, throwing stuff, hitting, biting and calling people "Meanie Butt". Oh yeah, she also likes to sneak up on you and bite your big toe.

      Here she is after one of her "Meanie Butt" tyraids.  I told her to sit on the steps and within one minute, I went over there and she was sleeping.  This kid doesn't say much, but "Meanie Butt" is the one phrase she calls everybody, even the dog.  I don't know where she heard it from, but she says it a lot during the day. A lot. 

      I have to say she is kind of spoiled.  She was born with Laryngeal Malacia, which is an enlarged larynx.  It's gotten almost 100% better since kids grow out of it.  But in the past we haven't let her cry a whole lot, since crying gets her excited, which would get her airway blocked, which would make her get even more excited, she would turn blue just about pass out, then she throws up.  So we avoid that at all cost.  We've all been blessed by her barf on our clothes.

      The one thing I don't understand is how her hair gets so crazy. It's so fine that it gets just hideous after a night's sleep. Here she is in all her hair glory. It takes a lot of spray, patience and time to get that fro calmed down.

      You know, she does have her sweet moments too.  She's not always hitting her unsuspecting siblings on the head with the hairbrush.  After she knocks the wind out of herself and gets back up from belly bumping, she usually always hugs and kisses a person.  She likes to play the piano (at least for a few seconds), she loves music and dancing.  I know she's mine because she likes to draw.  She's also the only brave enough one to go and pick up a chicken when her three older siblings are too scared too. She does laugh alot and she loves to cook.

       But I still suggest wearing socks to camouflage your big toe if you come over.  Her teeth are like razors!

      Happy Trails,

      Thursday, May 19, 2011

      A Moose Called Fudge

      It was a day like any other.  Wait...no days here are the same as the one before.  Let's start again.

      It was supposed to be a normal day.  Although I didn't have anything to judge it against.  Ron told me a calf was in the west pen and I needed to ride in on my trusty steed (the bobcat bucket) and pick it up.  He told me that it was to be the only way, saying that it's mother was a wild something something and he wasn't going to go in by himself. 

      So, with the wind flying through my hair, I rode that bucket into the face of danger...just kidding it wasn't that bad at all.  There was a cow out there who was pretty crabby and got me scared to jump out of the bucket and grab the little bugger but Ron shouted out the window that it wasn't even hers...and hurry up before the real mom comes!  Yikes!

      Now we have Fudge in all her glory.  Lord, she was stupid at first.  If I didn't know better, I'd have  thought she was part Holstien or Brown Swiss.  Wouldn't drink a bottle, then her tongue was swollen (hence not drinking, maybe I'm the stupid one, heh?) I gave her two rounds of Dexsamethesone to cure that, but I still would have to stick my finger in her mouth first, get her sucking and then shove the nipple in her mouth. 

      But things are much better now.  Her laid back personality is nice to have and she's so cute.  She's gotten to be more stable on those spindley legs, hence the knickname moose calf.  She also downs a bottle like nobody's business.

      Happy Trails!

      Wednesday, May 18, 2011

      Watch Out Gwenyth, I'm Just a Brand Away.

      Well folks,

      I decided to get branded.  No, no, not with a hot iron stick and Big D's name on my butt, but for the Fairchild Farmgirl blog. It's kind of like making your name heard, like a namebrand shoe or perfume.  Okay, maybe not that famous.  I'm no Gwenyth Paltrow selling my name on Estee Lauder perfume...not yet anyway.  Although...the other night we were checking pens and I got too close to a cow that was peeing. Some splashed up on my hand then I scratched an itch on my neck... (come on, I was going to take a shower right way, don't judge!) But then Big D did hold my hand and give me a kiss as we finished checking for calves.  That get's me thinking, what would I call my perfume line?  I mean if I ever did get famous?  Estee Udder?  That's pretty catchy, huh?

      Now I know that I'm not going to be famous overnight.  But if I ever am, and I'm invited to go on the Jay Leno show or something, I just want you to know that I'll always be the same old Suzanne you all know.  Here's ten things that I will always do, famous or not.

      1. Always wash my kids with my spit.   Come on, you know you've done it too.
      2. Drive the same 200+ thousand mile Yukon with the deer ding on the side.  Wait...if I'm famous, can I at least get new tires and figure out what makes the engine light turn on (for the last 3 years)?
      3. Have a secret obsession with Johnny Lee the 80's country singer.  Even Big D rolls his eyes at this.  He's probably on oxygen since he's getting up there in years, but if he can take his mask off to sing "Cherokee Fiddle" for me one more time, I'd be a happy lady. (I guess it's not a secret anymore, is it?)
      4. Wear a hooded sweatshirt.  Purse plus diaper bag equals big pocket in front, not? (You non believers haven't carried two kids and a car seat at once.)
      5. Still be late on our fuel bill (I'm so sorry, how much do we owe you?).  I said famous...not rich.
      6. Think my barn boots are trendy.
      7. Still embarrass my kids.  "Mom, I can't believe you didn't wash the sheep's blood and after birth off your pants before you picked us up!" Oops, sorry...not really. Hee hee. 
      8. Still pee outside when our home's Flinstone era plumbing breaks down.  Watch out for the dog's cold nose if it's dark outside, zing!
      9. Threaten to sell naughty kids at the sale barn and get new ones to try out, then fake call the trucker to pick them up. 
      And most importantly,

        10.  Still call cutting the strings off the manure spreader beaters "date night".

      Yeah, I don't think Gwenyth has much to worry about.  Do you?  So anyway, I hope you and Jay Leno friend Fairchild Farmgirl on Facebook and put my blog on desktop or subscribe by email.  I'll try not to let you down, k?

      Happy Trails,

      PS, Visit my friend Jean Menden @ http://www.jmendensilver.com/blog.php she's going through the same stuff.

      Tuesday, May 17, 2011


      Did I mention that I liked pigs?  Well one more story about them and I will be done for a while.  Fudge the newest heifer calf is begging for the world to see her.  I at least put her on the profile picture.  Hopefully that will shut her up for a while. 

      Anyway, I got a call from Big D this morning, he muttered some colorful language and "there's a piglet out running around come help get it."  So after gathering up sweatshirts and shoes, my crew was ready to catch that escapee.  We get outside and we hear, "where's a darn coyote when you need one?" He was madder than heck at that little jail bird.  Little piggy narrowly missed his grasp then headed back into the grapes for his victory lap, loving his freedom. 

      In case you didn't know this, piglets are fast. Too fast for two middle aged fat people. 

      Here it is.  Entertainment for four giggling, screaming little kids.  I didn't know who squealed more, that piglet or Maggie. Finally, he went into Sweeties pen.  So at least he was in a smaller area. 

      We couldn't help but laugh at Rachel and Grace as they tore around the pen trying to catch it.  They were scared to touch the little critter, so they'd chase it into a corner and then it would zip back between their legs back out into the middle of the pen again.  So funny! 

      Look at that, even Sweetie wants it out.  It was funny how even she got into running after it.  Naturally Fluff wanted in on the action so she would run the outside of the pen.  If I was a mind reader, I'm betting she'd thought that it would make a good snack.

      To those of you who aren't used to small pigs, you hold them by the back legs...why?  They bite!!!  It's also easier to catch by the back legs.  Well, the escape artist was put back in the pen.  The four freebie pigs from yesterday died and were laying outside the pen. (Steve doesn't have the heart to head clunk, so he gives them away.)  As Grace walked past them, she looks at Big D and says, "Dad, can I pet these, they're alot stiller than those other ones."

      Happy trails!

      Monday, May 16, 2011

      Piglets Are Here!

      Besides my kids, there's not much out there that is as cute as a litter of piglets.  Big D told me the other day that he made a phone call, "that I probably shouldn't have made."  I was a little nervous until I asked who it was to.  When he told me it was to Steve the pig  guy, well I was more than okay with that.

      Pigs. I'm convinced that they are the coolest animal out there. They are ready for market quick, they eat all the house scraps, they make good buddies for the dog, they are funny to watch, etc. I love them. 

      WAIT...I guess I don't love them 24/7...
      they do get big and get out,
      dig up your lawn (when they get out),
      try to bite you when they get cornered (when you're trying to load or when they're big and your trying to get them back in)
      or what makes me want to pick up a 240 pound hog (if I could) and carry them to the butcher shop on my back...when they tear down and eat your grapevines.  In this photograph they are lazing around after their escapade in the vineyard where they ate 40+ vines. 

      Okay, maybe I should stick to how cute they are when they are little and not so naughty.  (Wait - am I still talking about the pigs? LOL)  Check out these cute little ladies with the almost as cute four legged little ladies.   Backed up by Steve Hennen, our pig guy. 

      Happy trails...and remember, in a mere 6 months be thinking pork chops!

      Sunday, May 15, 2011

      Are You Kidding Me?

      There's a big yellow ball in the sky and I think it may just be the sun.  It looks glorious outside.  I know, "glorious?" Who uses that word?  Me. Unfortunately I haven't felt glorious for two days.  I, with most of my kids have the flu.  Some of them even have a little splash of diarrhea (excuse the pun). 

      Now, most anyone that even owns a square inch of ground is itching to get outside and get busy in this beautiful weather. Me included. Even though I feel like crud if you don't keep ahead of the weeds, well, rain plus sun equals a mess. 

      "Flu Girl, Princess of Puke"; me goes outside. What we focused on was weeding the grapes and the cleaning the hog barn.  I wanted to do the grapes for the obvious reasons.  But you have to hand weed in the rows and we have a little over an acre of grapes. 

      I thought I was in the clear, away from any stink when all of the sudden it hits.  The dead smell coming from the hog barn directly in front of me.  I had forgotten that there was a casualty this past winter.  It was so cold with so much snow that we thought we'd wait until it thawed to get it out. Sixty degrees can really thaw out a dead animal fast.  You can't really smell it until you are in the grapes. Weeding while you have the flu.  Darn it, it stunk.

      I'm happy to tell you that I made up my mind to be stronger than that stink.  After all I was bathed in sunshine, away from the two littlest ones that still wear diapers and had revolting, smellier than a dead pig diarrhea. 

      There was a funny spot today.  Ron told the kids, "if you do anything, do this:  lick each other.  Lick each other's plates, glasses, skin, whatever it takes so you all get this crap at the same time."  Then he takes a drink out of his cup...that had been licked on previously by Maggie aka "Diarrhea Darla", and he turned and went outside.  He also shared a pop with Kara, who is presently dumping out her puke in the toilet. 

      The sad thing is, he is being so helpful today.  Maybe he knows that it's inevitable...he's going to get it tomorrow.  But he said this, since his mind is obviously stronger than his body, "I better not get sick.  I have to haul manure tomorrow and there's no windshield wiper on the inside of the cab".

      No there's not, buddy.  There's not even room for a puke bowl, but, he doesn't have to go completely unprotected.   He does have a rain suit from when he had a motorcycle...

      Happy trails,

      Saturday, May 14, 2011

      What Some People do For Fun on a Saturday Night.

      Finally!  I get to talk shop on rabbits.  I promise I won't mention all the puking my kids are doing in the house today, nor all of the clothes, blankets and pillows (oops, and carpet) that I'm washing either.  Believe me...it's not cool.

      Here's what is.  After a tough winter with trying to breed rabbits, reading and studying on it, trying to breed and more reading and studying, (we are still to talking about rabbits!) I finally have babies.  Rabbit babies.  Don't get me wrong, last round I did have quite a few babies, but I also had mothers that killed them or killed them and ate them.  YUK!  When you see a mama eating their babies...it's just not right. 

      I wanted to share with you what babies look like.  Brand new babies.

      They're super disgusting looking aren't they?  When I saw our first litter I about puked.  They are born completely hairless.  They look like little mice.  That first day, I guess I didn't know what I was expecting...fluffy teeny bunnies or what...but they're really gross for the first week!

      Here's another example of buying/selling livestock the right way.  When we bought our rabbits, we didn't know the going rate, etc.  I won't embarrass myself by telling you what we paid for them, but it wasn't good.  The thing is, is that we bought someones culls, obviously.  If we were just buying them for butchering, it would be different.  But we bought them for breeding and we sure got a sorry mess of bunnies. 

      So back to what I am doing for fun on a Saturday night...humming Bob Seger's tune "Night Moves" and breeding rabbits.  I think I need a life, don't you? =)

      Friday, May 13, 2011

      You Know You've Had Too Much Rain When...

      10. When you can justify using your mud boots as a fashion accessory.
        9. When you hope that there isn't a sudden burst of heat because your worried that your sheep will felt.
        8. When you find your husband digging through the summer stuff looking for the kid's inflatable raft to check for calves.
        7. When he actually uses it.

        6. When you see the dog teaching swimming lessons to the cows.  Cows doing the doggy paddle, I told you it was crazy here...
        5. When you plant corn on the fourth of July but your still knee high in mud.
        4.  When you get stuck in your driveway.  Up by the house.  Or is that when you know your a redneck? I forget.
        3.  When you send your kids out to play with their water wings on.
        2.  When you look at your feed supply and see a rat with a life preserver on.

      And the number one reason you know you've had too much rain?

      When you go online to see what a "hog wallow" is and they show a photo of your farm...but you don't have any pigs.

      In all seriousness, say a prayer for those folks down in the south.  I can joke about us and our rainy days, but some of them have lost a lot.  We need to count our blessings.

      Happy trails!

      Tuesday, May 10, 2011

      Yup, We're Still In Love.

      Ron called me in the living room last night after he got done doing chores.  "I've got some bad news." he said.
      "What...did red have her calf and its dead?" I got all excited because "Red" is a cow in the east pen that I have been watching like a hawk for the past 10 days.  Her udder is huge and I can't wait until she has a calf.  I'm seriously hoping for a red Angus heifer, as much or more than my little girls want the gold Barbie high heels.
      "Okay, maybe not that bad," he said.  "Just that the yearlings got in with the west cows.  The chain's off the gate and they are running both pens." 

      Great.  I think it's possibly that bad.

      Like many couples, we work marginally well together.  Usually it is only strained when we work cattle, that most often times requires a truce or handshake before we even go down to the lots.  So after some manure hauling this morning, Big D decided that it was time.  I did too.  I decided that it was time to tell him that I loved him and I wanted a hug.  "Why?" He said with one eyebrow cocked.

      "Because, in 20 minutes we will be yelling and we will both need to think about this moment so we don't to choke each other." 

      "Fine," he said, pointing his finger at me, "but your running gate, so make sure you have clean underwear on in case you have to go to the emergency room."  He walked out laughing.  I yelled after him that if I was going to be pummeled by a cow, I figure I'd poop my pants during, so fresh clean undies weren't necessary.

      Running gate means you have two ways a cow/yearling could run.  Ron is down the alleyway about 75 yards and when he lets a cow past he yells "Cow" or "Heifer" sometimes you can't hear over hoof beats and theres dirt in your eyes from the ones that went through seconds before.  If he says "Cow!" you swing the gate so you close off the heifer alley and they run in with the other cows. Or the other way around.  But at 75 yards they can get to a good run.  Or if a group goes past him, you have to try to stop them.

      The first ten minutes, not so good.  I got stuck in some clay and lost my boot.  I was like a big target with cattle running on either side of me and I couldn't move.  Big D had to get my boot out for me as I stood there with one stocking foot that went into the crap.  'That manure won't hurt that fresh cut on the bottom of my foot at all, I'm sure of it.  As my cut stewed in poop and sweat in a rubber boot for the next few hours, I thought, ' At least my underwear are clean.' 

      When we finally got some cattle in the alleyway to sort off, those white deer some people might know as Charlois came running at me then stopped dead and doubled back.  "Could you wear a brighter shirt?" Ron yelled.
      "I love you babycakes!" I screamed back.

      Big D:  "why didn't you put that heifer in with the yearlings?" 
      Me:  "Because she was dead center in a group of five."
      Big D:  Get in front of them.
      Me: "No way!  All my underwear are in the wash!" 

      All in all it did go well.  No complaints and we even joked around most of the time.  So yup, were still in love.  And super tired and sunburned!
      Happy trails,

      Monday, May 9, 2011

      There's A New Sheriff In Town

      For Christmas I bought Ron and Cody a guided turkey hunt on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in western South Dakota.  This meant that he actually had to go.  And have the time of his life.  With our eldest boy.  And leave me in charge.  Of everything.  The cows. The kids. The sheep. The chickens.  The house. The shop.  The everything else.


      As he was leaving, he was nervous about what he was going to talk about with his computer loving son who would not have his computer along for 3 whole days.  I was nervous about a cow calving with a half broke down chute.  He was hoping that the guy feeding cattle was going to understand his directions, ( okay so I didn't have to feed cattle...whew!) I was hoping that my sheep weren't going to magically find some corn somewhere and keel over from eating too much. 

      I had a plan.  Maybe if I talk to them, they might listen to reason.

      I went outside after he left with my two ranch hands; Maggie, my speech writer, and Levi my spotter.  We told the animals that it was going to be my way or the highway.  Here's what we said.

      Good morning critters,

      Big D and Cody are going to be gone for 3 whole days.  Usually in the past, the dust hasn't even settled on the driveway and you are already plotting against me.  This time will be different.  I will call neighbors that have horses as well as four wheelers that start and have gas in them (sometimes not the case here).  I have promised many pies to friends and neighbors who may have to help.  They have tasted my cooking and like it. 

      Sparky...if you get into the strawberries again, I will go online and find a recipe that calls for you.  There's got to be "Jackass Souffle" or something I can make or think up.  Be good.

      Sheep, lets face it if you live through whatever you have done to yourself, prices are too good.  I will just sell you.  Behave.

      Fluff dog, stop stealing my boots I may need them in an emergency...you are aware we have a life insurance policy on you correct?

      If one more rabbit comes up with some weird malady, well lets just say, I pray each night that the guy calls back that wants to buy all of you. 

      And to all you cows, no getting out, no getting sick and no having a calf until Saturday night when Big D gets back.  Especially you Cowzilla, I noticed that you are getting quite the utter on you.  Your owner jokingly said we should get a helicopter in when you calve.  Not funny...I know people.  I also know how you want to put a tattoo of your hoof on my forehead.  Can't we just get along?


      The new sheriff in town

      Sunday, May 8, 2011

      Why Can't We Just Call You Suzanne?

      "Why can't we just call you Suzanne?" My little blondie asked very innocently as I was opening all the Mother's Day presents the kids had made for me at school.  Leave it to Rachel to ask the questions that completely come from left field. 

      I looked at her and said, " Because I'm your mom, and that's what you call the lady that gave birth to you.  "Besides," I said to her in a completely serious tone, "you can call me that on Suzanne Day."

      "I can't wait for Suzanne Day!" she yelled as she went running through the house. "I'm buying mom Barbie high heels for Suzanne Day!" She sang to Grace as she went running past her.  (I must get asked ten times a day if I can, 'puleeeezee get us Barbie high heels.'  Gold ones in fact.)

      Wait a minute, having another day to celebrate is okay...isn't it?  I started to think of all the things that a woman shouldn't have to do on her "name day".  No dishes, no laundry....

      "Oh mom," Grace says coming up to me and rolling her eyes, "High heels?  You'll break you neck wearing those things." 

      So I think I will stick with this...
      Happy Mothers Day!

      Friday, May 6, 2011

      Ten Great Things About Fluffy the Farm Dog

      •  Fluffy is always there for you.
      •  She doesn't need expensive toys...the shoes that the kids take off by the trampoline is good enough for her.
      • She doesn't want a fancy house...an old kennel is okay.
      • She only chases the chickens when your not looking (hence no picture).
      • She knows when she has to be "cow bait" so you can check on the pregnant cow in the back of the pen when the others come up for a sniff.
      • Between her and her best friend; Sparky the Donkey, they keep all evil out each night by walking the farm tirelessly and keeping watch from the front porch.

      • She makes a fine babysitter

        • She enjoys a good picnic when she can.

          • She even enjoys cleaning up

            But the number one reason she's a great dog? 

            She's always readily availabe to check if your marshmallow is done of not!

            Thursday, May 5, 2011

            Little Snorie and the Drip Drops

            I'm tired today.  I was going to tell you what I learned about ear infections in rabbits and how to treat them but something else came up instead.  Little Snorie and the Drip Drops. 

            When I went to bed last night, our bedroom was freezing cold.  I jumped in bed next to Ron and all I heard him say was, "I'm super tired and I have to wake up early."  =)

            Then in between his sudden snores I hear it...little baby snores coming from the baby on the other side of the room.  (I make it sound like this place is huge...her bed is like 5 feet from ours!)  Have you ever really listened to baby snores?  They are SOOOO adorable!  I put a picture on of her so the cuteness factor  goes up (don't look at all the toys and book mess behind her Mary Poppins!)

            Then, just like that, it starts raining, more like pouring.  Ron had his brother do some work to the house and putting on siding was part of it.  No one cleaned up the mess so rain was dripping on the pieces of aluminum siding that were lying on the ground next to the house, "Drip drop, drip drop".

            All together now:

                                   "Drip drop, zzz (baby snore) , drip drop, ZZZZZ snarf snuffle (big D snore), drip drop, zzz, drip drop, ZZZZZ choke cough....

            It was so funny because it was like it was timed, there was a beat to it!  Anyway, have a good day!

            Happy Trails,

            Wednesday, May 4, 2011

            Fish Hook had a Baby!

            So I get a call from Ron as he's feeding cattle, "looks like there's a little Hereford calf down here."

            There's one thing that every Fairchild on this place gets excited about and that's a baby.  "I'll be right down." I said, as I threw on the first sweatshirt I could find (Ron's) and barn boots, (also Ron's) and with the camera, I jumped in the the big wheeler.  Kara was outside so I picked her up along the way and we went down to the feedlot.

            He didn't tell us what pen it was in, so here's Kara looking for it in the last pen.  She found it and we went down on the east side to get a better look. 

            To be honest, it looked dead, it wasn't moving at all. It was laying in the middle of the pen with only a heifer down with it and I knew it wasn't hers. Now, I don't know what's wrong with me, I don't know if it's getting the calf out of the pen before Ron (I'm a little competitive) or the thrill of feeling the breathe of an angry cow on the back of my neck or what...

            But I had to go in there and get it.

            Since Ron was feeding, 90% of the cattle were eating and not paying attention to me sneaking in there like a cat burglar. Okay, more like a calf burglar trying to tromp through wet clay in too big of boots.  I get to the calf and it's HUGE!  Nothing I can throw over my shoulder and run with. 

            K, Plan B.

            I get it up and it's spunky, a lot more fire under it than I was expecting.  I'm trying to turn it to the gate when it happened...


            CRAP! (I think I said far worse) I look up to see a fiery and upset Fish Hook coming down to that second pen at a run.  Eyes wide and snortin'...that was both of us.  She was after me and I was trying to get out.  I felt like that kids book but the farmer version;

            Get away from the calf...tip toe, tip toe
            Run through the mud...squelch squirch, squelch squirch
            Climb the gate as fast I can...doo, doo, doo, doo
            Jump over so fast and just about fall on the ground....

            Kara's on the other side laughing her butt off.  "Mom, she was going to get you! I bet that's her calf. There's blood on her tail." 
            "I know!  I guess we'll have to wait for dad and the bobcat," I said feeling a little defeated and breathing like a ran a 5K.

            So of course Big D (Ron-Big Daddy because he's super strong) was mad that I jumped in there on my own.   Anyway, he got in there with the bobcat and got them all down into the bottom since the little calf was up front.

            He drove back over to the gate and positioned the bobcat in the gate opening so they couldn't get back up into the pen where the calf was. 

            "I'll get back in the bobcat, and slowly move out of the opening, and you hurry up and shut the gate as I'm doing that, ok?"
            "SURE" I said, watching Fish Hook pacing right on the other side of the fence and bobcat. I was reminded of a story from our old feed rep.  His dad had pulled a newborn calf up into the pickup bed to work on and that old momma cow jumped in the pick up bed, over the cab, broke the windshield and fell off the front. "And she ended up in as feedlot just like this." 

            Here were hauling him up to the barn. Then Ron reminds me that we have to go open the gate to let all the cows back up to finish eating and get water. 

            So the crew goes down to put everybody back to normal.  Ron put a cornstalk bale in there to divert attention from us, so we were able to get the gates open without trouble.  Fish Hook was standing in the far corner so I wasn't worried.  Then usually when we get a calf we get momma in the head gate and milk out some colostrum.

            So Ron says with a smile, "Gonna milk her out?"
            Ummm nope.

            Tuesday, May 3, 2011

            Culling Out of Your Herd

            Okay so it can't be all laughs...we have to do some serious stuff here too.  Like culling animals out of the herd, or the flock I should say.  The sheep are my thing and sometimes I have a hard time doing this. 

            Don't let anybody know this, but I have a heart.  I know, I know...don't get all sappy on me now!  I don't know if it's the woman in me, the mom or what, but some animals are hard to cull out even when your noggin is saying, "dork, she was a tiny lamb, her fleece sucks, she had respitory issues..." and the list goes on. 

            Such is the case for "Scarlet".  That little pain has grown on me.  That's her, the little ewe lamb on the left.  I had to take her from her dummy of a mother, who chose not to feed her but take care of her twin ram lamb instead.  He's about twice her size. 

            When I have to cull, I look at scrapie resistance, mothering ability, frame, fleece and personality.  If you don't fit the bill your outta here.  Feed is expensive and with sheep/lamb prices good, well you can be picky. With saying that, I just culled a week before Easter.  Scarlet's mom and brother hit the road along with my old crabby ram and my other ram lambs. 

            I looked at Scarlet for a while...there was a list of reasons as long as my arm to cull her out and get her made into lamb chops.  Then, my darn heart got in the way because she came up to me wanting to be pet.  Babydolls have this adorable little face with shiny button eyes you can't resist. 

            SO...now I kept a lamb that I had to treat again this past week.  BUT at least I have a buddy in the sheep pen.

            This is "Petunia"  She was my bottle brat from last year.

            Happy Trails!

            Monday, May 2, 2011

            The Ramifications Continue...

            Oh Sparky, you need to get a grip.  That donkey is free to roam 22 acres, access to literally tons of feed and adequate shelter.  What does he want?  His pen back. 

            In this photo, he saw me coming so the braying at the calf stopped and he was walking over to me like nothing was up.  What I really wanted to get a shot of was him trying to get the half door open which he was working on just minutes before.  He's no dummy, well maybe a little, he was trying to open it from the hinge side!

            I'd like to share with you what our little ass had done this morning.  This patch of dirt looks like a blank canvas ready to be planted.  Oh no, there's 450 strawberry plants, soon to be 600 (depending on who's got homework tonight).  When I came out of the bedroom this morning, I saw a fat little donkey going down the row, pulling out the strawberry crown and root and tossing them aside like weeds.  Not eating, just picking and tossing. 

            As I was getting my boots on, (pjs still on mind you) I told Grace, "You know, this is your donkey, you should shoo him out of there." 

            In the sassiest voice only a 5 year old girl could come up with she retorts back, "I didn't ask for a donkey," as she patted her imaginary horse; "Tuff'" on the neck. "This imaginary horse is all I need and he would never eat anything but grass."

            So I went out there, jammy and barn boot clad armed with the cattle paddle.  Of course he sees me, kicks the air and runs, equally sassy as his 5 year old owner. 

            Needless to say, the pen better get fixed today.  I just saw him take a look at the house and a big bite of lilly from my flower bed. 

            Happy Trails,

            Sunday, May 1, 2011

            Smartest little boy ever!

            The avearge person would see just a roll of toilet paper paper (or what we affectionately call "buttwipe"), a crayon...it used to be a hard crusty cheese stick pulled from who knows what corner of the house but it had to go, and a "make you own" popsicle holder. 

            I want to show you what the future farmer of the house sees with the toilet paper...

            A hay bale that he can haul on his semi.

            Here he's using crunched up Chex cereal as feed for his livestock.  Amazingly it looks like feed! He's a smart lil' feller!  And yes, he's hauling out the manure (wool from our sheep before it gets spun) on his tractor.

            Ron and Levi were out cutting trees in the grove the other afternoon.  He's so determined to copy Ron when they do something new together.  He marched right in the house, right to the junk drawer and found an orange popsicle holder (Husquevarna orange of course!) and he was looking, looking, looking for a "tree" when he spotted an old crusty cheese stick...(Mary Poppins would kick my butt, I know) and he looked at me with a huge smile and said, "my yaw my tree" (Levi speak: my saw, my tree) and then he looked at Ron and said "daddy's yaw, daddy's tree...SAME!"

            He makes my heart smile!

            Happy trails,