Sunday, July 31, 2011

A New Begining

This post has nothing to do with the farm, but everything to do with the farm, our lives and so forth. 

It also has doesn't have any pictures either. 

Last Sunday night, was the hardest night I've had in a long time.  My ex husband called me and told me that our daughter Ashlyn wanted to live with him now. 


For the last two weeks I was a blurr of emotion, no sleep, tears when no one was looking, no tears when there should have been, yelling, depression, etc. 

I know...Fairchild Farmgirl never lets anybody see her sweat, right? 

The first week I was thinking, 'I'm going to get the real story when I pick her up for my weekend," Chris, her dad had had her for the summer.  I don't know what I was expecting, her to say something like her dad is making her go or what.  I thought that there was no way my little girl wanted to leave her momma.  We are tight.

I was wrong.

In the car that day there was a lot of small talk.  When I couldn't stand it anymore, I asked, "So, you have something you want to talk to me about?"

In the most mature voice she could muster, she started to explain to me how she had lived with me for 12 years and only 3 with her dad and she was so small back then, that she doesn't remember it.  She wanted to know what it was like to live with him long term.

This is where the farm comes in.

I kept thinking, did I make her do too much here?  I know there she has minimal chores.  I mean, what would she have to do?  They live in town and she's an only child.  Her lambing skills and her days of loading hogs are over.  There she'll have to take out the garbage before she walks the five blocks to school instead of the hour bus ride, and so on and so forth.

Can you blame her?  That's pretty appealing to a 12 year old.  But then I thought about it.  That's why she's so mature.  I've taught her responsibility and caring.  So dang it, I'm gonna pat myself on the back! =)

On the way home that day she assured me that she loved me and that this was the fair thing to do.  I kept thinking, 'but it's not fair for me.'  Thank goodness I know when to shut my mouth.

Big D and I went down to see her new school on Friday, visit the Catholic Church CCD program there and watch her perform in a play.  It was fun and sad all at the same time. 

Her school here has 26 kids in her grade.  The new school has 125.  They have a great drama program, art program and really good athletics program.  D and I liked the school a lot.  Her dad Chris came with and he had a lot of good questions.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Her new church has a youth group.  Ours doesn't.  There was so many good things about those two things alone it was making me feel better. 

Then we saw her shine in a play and went back to her dad's house for a birthday party. The "Feeling sorry for myself" me kept thinking that it felt like an adoption was taking place.  My ex's new wife's family was there and they were all over her and I could barely hang out with her.  That's good, I'm happy that they love her (how could they not?).  I felt like I was giving her away.  It really sucked. 

Also,"the pity party" thought, where were all these people when I needed someone to help raise her?  Where were you all when I was a single mom dealing with hardships on my own.  My family was there when they could be and I will always be thankful for that.  But these others...I dont' know.  I thought of the times that I was the only one that would take off work when she was sick, when I was working 60 plus hours a week and eating scrambled eggs and apples 3 nights out of the week. 

And then the great stuff.  When the two of us had nothing to do because I was so broke that I would turn cleaning up ditches where we lived as an opportunity to learn about the environment.  When we called our jeep butterfly and talked about all these adventures that we would take with it someday.  When we would take those scrambled eggs and eat with candles and dresses because we thought it would be fun to be fancy. 

But, I also noticed how much she loved those same people back and where she lived.  Which was also good.  She was truly in her element there as well.  They have a nice newer house and she has her own room that doesn't have little fingers sifting their way through her stuff when she's not looking.  I also doubt that when the winter wind comes from the south she's having to put more blankets on her bed and wear warmer pj's like at our house. 

I'm sure you are wondering why I wrote this pity party of a blog.  I wasn't going to.  I was going to pretend that in my blog stuff like this didn't exist.  Because I write for fun, not for depressing people. 

Then I thought about it.

Others are going through this too and maybe they feel just like I do and need to know that sometimes you have to do what is right for your kids, not what makes you feel OK.  Being a parent is so hard but hopefully we will be rewarded when we see what kind of kid we shaped in the end.  

Thanks for coming along on this trail,


Saturday, July 30, 2011

Toothless Wonder

This as you may know is our Grace.  She's got a predicament.  In this picture, she's riding her pretend horse named Tuff. 

In this picture, were going to show you her crazy teeth.

Her bottom front permanent teeth are growing in behind her front bottom baby teeth. This was post dentist.  You didn't want to see "pre dentist" photos.  You would have seen a Grace that was freaking out. 

Before we left, Ron handed me the checkbook, which was in his pocket, which was already hot and sweaty from the horrendously hot morning. 

At the dentist, my little chicken said, "I don't want my tooth pulled!" Then proceeded to throw a fit in the dentist chair.  The dentist proceeded to tell me that I needed to leave the room.  Before I left, the dentist said, "you know, you can come back next week to see if it's more loose than today."

Looking at  Grace in the chair, I thought about the sweaty checkbook and how much sweat it takes to put money in it. 

I wasn't about to pay the well meaning dentist two office visits. 

"Pull it."  And a hard loving momma walked out and went to sit in the waiting room without looking back.  As I sat there, I pretended to not hear the wails from Grace as she was freaking out.  People stared at the door that went into the working area. 

I could hear the dentist say, "Look Grace, it's done!"

Cries and screams stopped on a dime as I heard her say, "Oh!  Let's see it!" 

Guess it didn't hurt that bad.

She sure was proud of herself when she got home to show her dad and siblings and tell everybody how brave she was. 

"No she wasn't."  Rachel said nonchalantly who went along to the dentist with us. "She screamed like a baby."

I'm surprised Grace didn't burn a hole through her sister with her piercing glare.

Sometimes the truth hurts worse than the actual boo boo.

Happy trails to our dentist and orthodontist.  With one kid in braces, one needing jaw surgery then braces, one that will be in headgear and braces and now Grace with her teeth issues, we might see the exhaust trail from their jets as they vacation in Europe funded by the Fairchild's and their crazy teeth.

Suzanne Fairchild
Fairchild "How about dad ties a string to that tooth and the doorknob?" Farmgirl.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Crazy Monday with Terah Murphy

Welcome back to the "spotty blogger" and her website!  When the first snow flies you will be sick of my blogging every day! =)

Anyway, back to Crazy Monday with "My most embarrassing moment in ag."  and my blogger buddy, Terah.  Terah has a great blog where she writes about ranching with her beautiful horse, well trained dogs and her somewhat trained TH (significant other).  It's called Cowgirl Red, read it.  It's awesome!

I'm so thrilled that she said yes to my plea of sharing her most embarrassing moment.  She's full of vinegar, pretty sassy, good with a sewing machine, as well as with a horse and the rest of the critters. 

So, on with the story...

I have a plethora of material to choose from. Twenty odd years worth of “Oops!” for this clumsy cowgirl. However, one moment is still so excruciating my cheeks flush red as I remember…..

I was in my early 30‘s then, my 50’s now. 20 years cannot dim the humiliation (or the humor). I was living in the mountains of Eastern Utah. I had fallen in love with the West (in general) and Cowboys (in particular). I was fairly new to riding horses and a pure neophyte with cattle and ranch work. I loved it so much. An old cowboy named Ray sort of adopted me as a “project” after a bad riding accident. He said “Terah, you need to learn how to ride and you can’t do it in the arena. You need to go to the mountain with us”. (and you need a better horse). To picture Ray, think Robert Duvall in Lonesome Dove. Same age. Same mannerisms. Total Cowboy. Total gentle-man.

Ray had a summer grazing permit for his cattle in the Uintah Mountains. I helped him when they turned out in the spring and when they gathered in the fall. We would spend days and days in the saddle. This day we were on a summer roundup, moving cattle from one big Forrest Service allotment to another. The mountain scenery is rugged and breathtaking. I was in awe because of getting to ride with real cowboys. I was also very self conscious. I wanted to look like a pro. Watching closely, I schooled myself to do whatever they did. They were my idols. Cowboys are by nature very quiet and polite. We had been gathering cattle all morning and just finished putting the herd through a gate. We stopped for a break before riding back several miles to the trucks. The cowboys got off their horses, so I got off mine. 4 or 5 cowboys were standing in a loose circle talking. I stood a few yards away holding my horse. Waiting. I started to get a little nervous and self conscious standing there doing nothing. For some reason I decided to get back on my horse even though no one else had saddled back up yet. I suppose I wanted to be ready.

I was wearing my cowboy gear. Cowboy hat, long sleeve shirt, jeans, boots, spurs, “shotgun” chaps. “Shotguns” are a style of chaps where the leather goes all the way down to your ankles like pants. (Bikers wear them too) These had 6 straps with little buckles to hold them on to my leg starting at the hip ending above the ankle. (Very important visual reference for later).

The rest of this story takes place over a brief 2 ½ seconds. Here is the freeze frame version;

The Cowboys are standing in a circle talking quietly about 10 yards away. I’m standing to my horses left side. Cowboys are to his right. I’m fidgeting. I grab the reins and the saddle horn with my left hand. I put my left foot up in the stirrup. I take a springy boost off the ground. I pull myself up on the saddle. Swing my right leg over his back with too much gusto. My right spur hooked the bottom left buckle of my chaps, which is attached to my left leg, which is attached to my left foot, which is still in my left stirrup, which has all my weight in it. My right leg gathers too much momentum from my rocket booster jump. The spur will not release the buckle. My feet are essentially bound together at the ankles. The centrifugal force of my (now attached) right leg jerks my left foot out of the stirrup, propelling both legs (bound together) up and over my horses rump. For a second my torso is balancing on the saddle like a car teetering precariously over a cliff. My left hand still has a hold of the saddle horn. My head is pointed straight down over the horse’s front cinch. I was hanging there, upside down, on the right side of my horse, with my feet up in the air like a trick rider.

There was only one thing to do…….. Let go.

I dropped like a sack of spuds at his feet. THUNK! My horse never flinched.

The cowboys stop talking. In unison, all heads turn to look over at me. Expressionless. In unison, all heads turn back to each other and they resume their conversation. Like nothing happened. No one says a word. Cowboys…… quiet and polite they are.

Luckily the strap broke when I fell and I was able to stand up on my own.

20 years later. I still have those chaps. I never fixed the strap. Just in case.

 Thanks Suzanne!! Happy Trails Everyone!


Cowgirl Red aka Terah
P.S. You might thing it more polite for them to jump over and help me up. Mercifully, they must have felt my humiliation and acted like it never happened. Ray and I remained close friends until his death last year. Loved that old cowboy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Fun

We are in the throes of ball tournaments which means that one of us stays home with the little kids.  Now, I'm sure you are all saying, "I bet Big D is the one at home watching the kids and changing diapers etc." 

Yeah, that's not the case.

As you can see in this picture, the campfire area has yet to see a lawnmower in the past 2 weeks.  I laugh, it's just like cleaning the house.  The kids want to do a wide swath down the middle and that's it.  If they have to pick anything up, it's "Crack! Dad, I don't know how the belt came off. I was just mowin' like normal."

So last night, Ron, Cody and Kara were at yet another game.  I've been working really hard to do something special when they go somewhere so the little kids don't feel so slighted.  I actually have a lot of fun coming up with new activities to do with them.  I decided to have a cookout. 

Over a campfire.

Me & five kids under the age of 6.

And Fluffy Bear. Who ate too many hotdogs.

And did some serious marshmallow begging.

But all in all we had a great time. 

"I bet even more than Dad and Kara and Cody!" said Grace with a hotdog stuffed in her mouth.

"Yup!"  Levi shouted as he stole Maggie's (he calls her Ming) hotdog and gave to the dog.

I said, "we each have our own let's get to needs her own good time.  Peace & quiet!

Happy trails!
Fairchild Farmgirl by day
Outdoor adventure Momma by night!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


We knew it would happen. It was happening everywhere else and we were so surprised it hadn't happened yet.

Dead livestock.

This darn heat.

I'm so sick of it.  You just walk outside and you are instantly wet.  I wiped sweat from my face and eyes so much yesterday that my cheeks and around my mouth are chapped and every time I do it again my face stings.  I worked out in the garden this morning until I couldn't stand it anymore.  Yesterday I pushed myself too hard and paid for it last night with an aching head. 

I heard the town about 25 miles from us on the national news last night for having the highest heat index in the state.  30 miles into South Dakota they were digging big holes for dead cattle with pay loaders and excavators.  500 head died.

Thank God that we had so much rain previously so that the cattle could go in the muck like a burrowing hog in mud...I know it saved some lives for sure. 

Ron went and sprayed them down right now, something we are so on the fence about since we didn't want them to either shock their systems or give them pneumonia with it hot and cold and hot and cold.  Did you know extreme heat and humidity can be worse than cold on an animal?  What's the answer?  They will be right back to seething hot within minutes...then wet as well. 

Ron went out this morning and found the first dead one.  A Charolais heifer.  We have been checking on them every hour and at 11 discovered one calving of all things.  She was too miserable to even push, I got in there knowing it was dead and slipped a chain around it's neck behind it's ears and got Ron to pull the chain and I found a leg and pulled on it.  We got it out and I gave her some penicillin.  The calf was a little bull calf.  She wasn't even bagged up yet. 

Around three we rode the four wheeler down to the pens and found another dead one.  This one on the back side of the lots.  She probably wandered down there thinking it would be better down there since there's quite a bit of vegetation, but there must not have been enough air flow.  Ideally you don't want them to move. 

Our owner has called every couple hours wondering how his cattle are.  Another lot where he has some cattle told him there's no wind and the heat index is 120 degrees.  His brother has cattle where they lost 35 head in the last two days. We sure feel fortunate. 

Well, sorry this blog doesn't have a bright spot in it.  I did say when I first started out that I was going to drag my readers along with the good, the bad and the ugly.  But I will leave you with a cute photo of Big D and Levi making the rounds with our animals. 

Happy trails we'll talk when 80 degrees feels cool enough to wear a light sweater. 
Overheated Farmgirl

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Black Rot or Black Dog...Which Will Kill My Crop Faster?

Hi, do you remember me?  I'm Fairchild Farmgirl, I'm a certified blog slack artist.

No actually I'm "worried about my grapes Fairchild Farmgirl"  I haven't been slacking, I've been working in the vineyard every moment I can.  Well, since it's rained a pile all spring and now this summer, the old grapes, by another vineyard manager; "the best 3rd year crop he's ever seen" grapes have been infested with black rot. 

 In fact they will get sprayed Monday so we dont' lose our entire crop which can happen in the blink of an eye.  YIKES! 

This is what black rot does to a grape.  Do you want to know how else a grape is killed before it's time?

Your stupid dog eats the clusters of UNRIPENED grapes.  That's how.  What a dummy!  I caught her eating mulberries of the low tree branches too.  She also "helps" pick strawberries. 

But never puts them in the curious....

In all seriousness, aside from my fruit stealing pup, I'll be working on the grape vines.  If you are sitting there without a thing to do, come and visit...I'll put you to work.  =)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Segment Of "If Cattle Could Talk"

Okay, can I say one thing? Summer obligations on the farm and blogging are like divorced parents pulling their kid (me) in two different directions. I really apologize for not blogging regularly.

Now, onto the blog at hand.

Cattle Speak...101.

First of all, has anyone noticed this "south of the border" heat but on the Minnesota border? I feel like I'm living in a rain forest or a Lousiana swamp. Ron told me to plant some rice in my drowned pumpkin patch. Yeah it's hot, humid and wet.

Yestderday, Ron sorted cattle to load. It was 90 degrees here. He sorted at 1:00 PM. The trucks were here at 2:00 PM. The cattle weren't happy to be sorted, nor loaded.

I got some pictures from down in the feedlot just now, as we are on the brink of a horrible storm.  It's hotter than when we sorted and loaded. The big rig blew a tire, my four wheeler is broke, so I had no choice...I rode the riding lawn mower.  I know, it's so hot that I've reached a new hieght of laziness.  I'm so not proud of it. 

Big D saw me and shook his head in dissapointment. 

Back to loading the cattle.  D thought it was because it was so unbearable that's why we had major attitude, but it was worse than I had ever seen it.  So, if cattle could talk, they'dve said something to us that I dare not repeat.  First example, we had a cow cornered then she stood up on her hind legs and jumped over a gate and took off after Big D.  I was screaming at him to get out of the way, I thought he was dead meat.  That gate was chest high!

 I know what you're thinking, how high is her chest?  She's 37 and breast fed 6 kids...It's probably no more than a hog panel...

Hey, hey, it's a five foot gate! =)

It was Fish Hook and Cowzilla's bus ride to the slaughter plant today and I was impressed that they didn't throw more of a fit.  FH did try her darndess not to be ran up the alley way and turned on me but I think she knew it was inevitable.  She finally went on without a problem. 

After we loaded them, we told the trucker, to watch out for them on the "unload" and said that the rest of the riders were just fine. 

That was before D got chased and I met up with my arch rival..."Green Tagged Bull". 

I hate that bull, so glad he's gone.  When we worked him the first time he was being a jerk and we couldn't get him in the pen.  Ron made Fluff Dog and I the bait in the short corrall to get him to come in there. 

So, he was in with the last eight that had to be loaded.  He had already dodged the bullet with the group of 13 before him.  He was running with them and right at the gate he doubled back and was hanging out with his ladies again.

When  he found out that it was MY way then the higway, he was none too happy.  I started waving my arms and doing my cattle yodel usually they're off and running. (I should try for "America's Got Talent").

 I'm kidding.

Green Tagged Bull wouldn't even move.  He stared at me.  The other seven cows wanted no part of this crazy lady singin' her song and waving her sorting stick.  It was a show down...until....

He gave me crazy eye and he started flinging his head around.  I was about 5 feet from him.  I yelled to D that I was scared and ran out of the pen like a sissy...

The end.

Happy Trails!
The Scared Farmgirl

Friday, July 8, 2011

And God Is My Coach...

What a day. This morning we went up to the horse farm and met Cocoa; Grace's horse.  Then flung Rachel and Levi into my truck for doctor's appointments.  Came home for 5 minutes then ran to pick up a part time kid that's helping on our grapes.  Back home to work on the grapes, then supper then...

Tonight I made a mad dash up to a neighboring town about 50 miles away (when you live in the sticks, yes your neighbor can live 50 miles away) with the T-Ballers. 

As we drove up there, I watched my mirror temperature fluctuate 11 degrees. 

I got the kids with their team...I was mad because Rachel couldn't find her glove.  Mom said, "well you're just going to have to play with out it.  That's what you get for not bringing it."  Which I would've swore that we brought it.

I found it later, after I dug through the back of the Yukon; pushed around the duck feed, milk replacer and rabbit pellets to by chance find it in the front seat (right where MOM put it) when I went to get their waters.  Needless to say, I apologized.

We sat down for only a few minutes and were watching the sky and the kids.  All of the sudden the clouds swirled around us overhead and the wind started to howl.  It was crazy! 

The coaches told the kids to shake hands and we were out of there.   I followed my friend Kelly out of there towards home, thinking we were leaving the path of the storm.  Unknown to me (and probably Kelly) we drove straight into another one!  I couldn't see fifty feet in front of me, the hail seemed to hit all sides of the truck and we both pulled over into a gravel road to wait it out. 

We met up at Cenex, both pretty amazed.  She said, "I just kept thinking, people die in this kind of weather.  You don't know it, then you drive right into a tornado!"  I don't think we were in the vicinity of even a touch down, but that was a super nasty storm and was over in about ten minutes but I havent' been that scared for a while. 

As we were driving back home I thought about how it would feel to be a real storm victim to lose all your stuff and maybe some family members.  I said a silent prayer of thanks that we are so lucky compared to others. The little girls and I talked about storms and nature and God.

As a true T-Baller, Rachel then said, "You know what?  I bet God is every body's coach, huh?"

Happy trails...hope you find one that suits you.
Fairchild Farmgirl

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

And Now My Life Just Got A Little Easier

A box came today via Fed Ex.  I was excited...I've been waiting for one such box.

Cody's first words after seeing "the box" were "YES! Thank goodness!"

Suspicious Kara, "Yeah well, does it actually work?"

A determined husband said "It'd better work...I paid enough for it."

A know it all Grace excitedly exclaimed, "I'll help with it!"

Toolman Levi sat quietly opening up the small box of tools that came with it. 

Rachel said, "Can I have a pop?"

"NO!!" We all shouted as I hastily opened the box.

Here she is.  A Louet Drum Carder.  I know, right now I'm feeling a little like the dad on "The Miracle on 34th Street" when he got the lamp shaped like a woman's leg clad in fishnet stockings.  I'm not understood either. 

It takes this wool, messy and not combed with some hay, straw, weeds and seeds in it,

and turns it into this, soft, clean and blended.  I used to do it by took forever.  There's also 26 more fleeces to do...

This is what the yarn looks like.  I think it's so pretty, but my spinner said, "just wait til you see the oatmeal gray 2 ply that I'm spinning."  I'm excited to start selling the yarn as well as using my batting for needle felting.  All my projects and yarn are going to help fund our vacation to Wyoming this fall with the kids. 

Happy trails and here's to all you wool fine crafters...I think I'm hooked! =)
Fairchild Farmgirl

Monday, July 4, 2011

Crazy Monday with Arla Poindexer

First and foremost, Happy 4th of July!

Now let me introduce my friend Arla Poindexer.  Her and her husband Jay live out in west central South Dakota where they ranch, have some wonderful cattle and quarter horses as well as the Poindexer's have a great veterinary pratice. 

She used to live about 15 miles from us, and that's where her family still resides.  She courageously took on the "Crazy Monday, My Most Embarrassing Moment" and turned it into a cool story about a ranch truck her family has.  She is a great story teller, like her mom; Bev, who really needs to write...I think she's got some great stories about her life. 

So, without further adieu, here's Arla...

       It was the kind of pickup most of had sometime before cell phones, Internet, or even computers. Of course, most ranchers would have parked in the trees, traded it off, or sold it for parts. Not us. Nope. The original was a 1977 Chevy ½ ton. Back in the day, it was THE pickup to have. It had 4 wheel drive (what a luxury!) and all the pulling power we’d ever need.

Of course, the original burned up-thanks to the mouse nest on the battery cables. But it was too good of a pickup. And, gosh, the motor wasn’t hurt; just the body was burned beyond use. So, let’s find a 1978 GMC body, and let’s run it for the next 20 years.

We named it “HB”. Some thought it was romantic, it was my parents’ initials. But it was really named after Lonesome Dove’s Captain Call’s mare. I won’t type the actual name here.

It was the kind of pickup that had its own personality. When we really needed to stay afloat in mud, the hubs were always unlocked (“First time in a year they’ve been unlocked! Who would have done that?”). We’d get stuck and have to walk to get a chain and tractor; we were always at least a half mile from a tractor.

Once, when the fuel filters were plugged, we couldn’t make it up the Bar X hill. We started up and the pickup died. We coasted all the way to the bottom backwards. Next attempt? We’ll give all she’s got. Half way up and HB died again and we coasted backwards again. Third time’s a charm; we spun it around and backed the pickup up the hill. It never even sputtered, but we got a few strange looks.

The manual transmission never held in gear. Going down the road, we learned to hold it in gear. It’s not a serious problem until the gate is downhill, the engine is off, and the park break is burned out. I didn’t know a pickup could go from complete stop to busted brace posts and a mangled gate so quickly.

Most everyone knew HB, except one deputy. He pulled us over for going 45 mph (it started to weave and smoke any faster than that) and busted out break lights. He walked up to the pickup, saw we were completely sober and trying to get to the next approach with a ton of feed in the back. He wished us a good weekend and shook his head all the way back to his car. Good thing he didn’t ask for our registration and proof of insurance-they had dried up calf manure on them.

It wasn’t until 2002 that HB finally moved into retirement. I can’t remember the reason we never fixed it, besides we didn’t have time. Every now and then someone mentions, “we should get that pickup going again. It sure would save on the new one.” Maybe someday, we’ll get it dinged up and back to use. Be sure to wave at me.
Thanks Arla!  Let me know when your home next, you can come over for supper again!