Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

(Or, How the Bag Lady Spent Her Day Off)

The Rancher and the Bag Lady weaned calves yesterday. They had been planning on doing it for a few weeks now, but things kept getting in the way (work, weather, illness.....) Yesterday was bright and sunny and the temperature relatively mild, so it is a good time to take the calves away from their mothers. If you wean them when the weather is poor (cold, rainy, snowing), it increases the chances of the calves getting sick.

The calves had an opportunity in the morning to have a good last drink of milk, and once they were locked away from their mothers in the corral, the Rancher and the Bag Lady gave them lots of hay to eat and spread out lots of straw in the shed for them to sleep on. Things will be a little noisy for a few days around the ol' stump ranch, because the mamas will be bawling at their calves, trying to get them to come and have a drink to ease their aching bags, but once they realize that they can't get to them, things will quiet down again and the cows will go about the business of eating and drinking and growing next year's calf! They will also be grateful that they aren't still feeding their calves when the weather gets really cold. That is really hard on their bags - when the calf finishes drinking, those wet teats freeze!

Oh.... was that too much information? Sorry. It's just a fact of life. The Bag Lady sometimes thinks she should try not to be too plain-spoken about things like that, but then she realizes that most of the people who read her blog are intelligent adults, so probably won't be offended.

They also took some of their older cows to auction on Monday, which made the Bag Lady sad. She doesn't like to see them go, but when they can no longer do their job (and with the scarcity of feed this year due to the drought), they have to be sold. The Bag Lady and the Rancher have pensioned off several cows over the years, allowing them to die on the ranch of natural causes, but that is not exactly sound economic practice. The Bag Lady has a habit of becoming too attached to some of the animals.... she sometimes thinks she isn't quite cut out for this job.

After they separated cows and calves in the morning, the Bag Lady finished painting her hallway. She is pleased with the results, but isn't quite ready for the "reveal". She wants the paint to dry so she can see if she needs to do any touch-ups, then she'll replace the light switch covers, etc. and hang the paintings before she shows you what she's done. (Besides those reasons, she's just too darned tired to take pictures right now!)

She cleaned up her mess, then made supper. Then she cleaned up that mess and made some pomegranate liqueur. It needs to steep for a few weeks before it's ready, and she wanted it for Christmas (which, by the way, is a month from today. Eeek!). In between all of these tasks, she did some laundry so she has something clean to wear to work tomorrow.

Did someone mention day off?


The Fifth Sparrow said...

Whatever happened to the dandelion wine?
Pomegranate sounds yummy!! Can't wait for the painting reveal and other news.
I could send you some earplugs if the bawling gets to be too much. Katie has laid in a supply of them to dampen the raucous snoring (mine) when she sleeps here overnight. I'm sure she wouldn't miss 2 or 4 of them.
just say the word and they are on their way up to you.

MizFit said...

oooooh Id totally forgotten that THAT was what I loathed about working outside the house! (even before the Tornado I wrote full time so I worked from home)

those days off filled with more work than AT WORK!

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

Pomegranate liqueur sounds heavenly!
And isn't that dandelion wine about ready?
I spent the weekend at my uncle's place once when he had just separated the calves from their mamas. I didn't get much sleep. Hopefully you have plenty of pillows to burrow under! (And I am glad to know why it's good to accomplish this task before cold weather. This way I don't feel so bad for those cows!)

solarity said...

From the sound of it, everybody around here weaned calves last month. There's a single (tiny, month-old) calf with its mother in a herd of cows half a mile from here, so I suppose I'll hear one cow bawling late this year.

Days off--the ones where you can't get everything done.

Mary Anne in Kentucky

JavaChick said...

Yep, that sounds like a typical day off (weekend) for me - rush around and get all the things done you don't have time to do on work days.

And I found the bit about weaning the calves to be interesting. I never realized you would have to be so deliberate about it, but it makes sense with winter coming.

Leah J. Utas said...

I take the position that it is not enough information. What happens the milk in the full bags?
Looking forward to pictures and the pomegranate liqueur sounds amazing.

the Bag Lady said...

Sparrow - the dandelion wine should be ready around Christmas. Sheesh, sounds like we'll have a well-lubricated Christmas around here, doesn't it?

Miz - that's the problem with having to work for a living, isn't it? Things still need to be done at home.

kcinnova - I confess, it did take me awhile to get to sleep last night!!

Mary Anne in Kentucky - we are a little late weaning our calves this year, but some of the calves were born a little late.

JavaChick - I never seem to get everything done that I have planned. Does that mean I'm slowing down, or just expecting too much of myself?

dfLeah - the cows are uncomfortable for a few days, but because the calves are no longer sucking, they stop producing milk and their bags shrink.

messymimi said...

Your days off sound like mine.

Yes, we are grown-ups, and facts are facts, especially when you live in the country. Like my friend whose family used to raise one beef cow each year for the family freezer. They got in the habit early of giving them hames like "Hamburger" and "T-Bone" as reminders not to get too attached.

Pomegranite syrup sounds delicious!

the Bag Lady said...

Messymimi - that cracks me up that your friends would name them like that! We usually name them after some distinctive feature, like their colour. We once had so many red cows that we had to call them things like "Red's granddaughter"..... Not very inventive!

Geosomin said...

pomegranate liqueur?
Sounds delish!
I would have a terrible time not getting attached to the animals. I end up naming and playing with animals in the lab...and I am heartbroken whenever something happens to them. It's one of the resons I decided being a vet maybe wasn't the best idea for me...:)

That sounds like a full up "day off"! Doesn't it feel good to look around with accomplishment (and a beer) though? :) Can't wait to see the pictures.

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

I love your real-life updates of what it's like to live on a ranch. I think it's very easy for city folk to romanticize it.

Nevertheless, I'd have a hard time not getting attached to the animals. Heck, I become fond of the spiders in my bathroom! Imagine how I'd feel about the cows!

Charlotte said...

Wet frozen teats?!? I think I just found my new nightmare for the next few months. My nipples hurt now. Thank you.

Levi said...

I'm glad I didn't get taken off to auction.
That would make me one sad cow.

Sagan said...

Pomegranate liquer? Tasty!

I had no idea about the teats freezing. You learn a new thing every day. Those momma's must be happy when their calves are weaned :)

Reb said...

I'm exhausted reading all that! Can't wait to see photos of the hall.

Hilary said...

So now I've leaned that a cow's teat is actually colder than a witch's...

How many of the blogger-named bovines remain? And do I really want to know?

Conny said...

I'm with Leah - it's not too much information. I think I'd be packing my "bags" for the long weekend so I didn't have to hear the cows bawling. You've been through it enough times that you're probably used to it. Days off are nice, but true that they are usually "busier" than "work" days. Have a great weekend.

the Bag Lady said...

Geo - I sure hope the liqueur turns out well - won't know for 3 weeks, and if it's no good, it'll be too late to make more!

BG - it IS hard not to become attached to the cows! Especially some of them - they have such personalities! I'm afraid of spiders, though, so I can't imagine becoming attached to one, except, perhaps, by those long stringy webs they spin! *shudder*

Charlotte - sorry! (Take my advice - stay indoors for awhile after you feed that darling girl! :D)

POD - you'd be one of the ones we pensioned off, left to eat and roam around the place to your hearts' content! :D

Sagan - the cows WILL be happy in another few days.... right now, they are still bawling and giving the Rancher a hard time whenever he sticks his nose out the door! ("Give us back our babies, you brute!")

Reb - soon. I didn't have the energy to put things back together once I got home from work tonight.

Hilary - you don't want to know. Really. :)

Conny - Luckily, I have to work tomorrow, too, so don't have to be the one getting bawled out every time I go outside! (Poor Rancher!)
Hope you have a great weekend!

Crabby McSlacker said...

Pomegranate liqueur? My goodness that sounds good!

And I'm constantly amazed at how much you get done in a day!

the Bag Lady said...

Crabby - some days are better than others! I worked in town today, then had to run some errands after work, but really haven't done much else since I got home.... I feel like a slacker today!