All I can say is, Matt’s folks picked an excellent time to visit.

Over this last week we have

  • Added a calf 
  • Tried to help the calf nurse, watched him shiver, watched the mother who had not yet calved but him into a fence and try to separate him from his mother, her stepping on him was the last straw!… finally carried it to my mother’s trunk which conveyed us to the barn
  • Herded a reluctant mother (they always return to the birth site if they lose sight of the calf) into the barn to be with her calf
  • Found a second calf (not expected to arrive until JUNE!)
  • Hurriedly readied another stall and carried baby there, thus effectively coercing the mother to follow, for observation.
  • Spent a morning trying to find someone who could help us diagnose our non-thriving calf (the first one)
  • Taken the first calf to the vet to be evaluated for not thriving – witnessed a tube feeding of same calf
  • Unsuccessfully tried to bottle feed same calf a number of times… (successfully doing this takes very little time… unsuccessfully doing this takes an hour or so.)
  • Finished a stanchion (my husband pretty much built this by himself with a very few finishing touches being added by my uncle… I’ll enclose a picture of my man’s genius at a later date)
  • Called said uncle who used to be a dairy farmer an overwhelming number of times with questions regarding any -possibly every- of the other listed items
  • Spent a collectively excessive number of hours coaxing a cow into the stanchion (and an equal number of hours coaxing her into the barn where the stanchion is housed) on several occasions.
  • Officially milked a cow four or five times.  (lost count)
  • Continued to shake chicken feeders, refill their waterers and take our keepers out for ‘walks’ so they learn     how to be real live chickens and ducks in the real live world… this will hopefully be the last time we have the be the mother of our poultry babies! 
  • Lost a brown chick.
  • Watched mother-in-law pray and find the brown chick.  Felt a "cha-ching" in my brain as something I should have thought of registers.
  • Called a vet numerous times with various questions. (both he and my uncle have surely at least CONSIDERED blocking my calls by now)
  • Found out the wimpy calf’s problem is that his mothers front two quarters (cows have four, you know) are ‘dead’ or not producing milk.
  • Called man who sold us cow and resolved that issue with him.
  • Watched the baby perk up, frolic and then successfully nurse on the working quarters right after convincing us he was on the brink of death and needed milk wrestled down him which, again, takes a long time to fail at (this happened at least three times!) Thus dealing with the joy of his life and the desire to strangle his neck simultaneously.
  • Decide to keep the dead quarters cow (Sheby) since she’s a Jersey, has a good disposition and could     potentially through us a heifer via the use of Artifical insemination and sexed semen.  (Wow, as my mother-in-law noted during her visit, our topics of conversation have changed.)
  • Continue to monitor our wimpy calf (Bambi… the brown one) to see if he’s eating enough, frolicking appropriately and whether he still has diarrhea… (again, with the conversation topics!!)
  • Realize that my milk-maid status won’t be approved after our fourth child is born until my incision heals which will probably not be confirmed until the six-week check-up. 
  • Wonder what we should do about that.
  • Toyed with different arrangements regarding keeping the calf with the cow, how we might still have milk from her after my six week lay-off period and whether that will jeopardize the value we’ve already vested in the cows. 
  • Looked for a newborn calf halter, since our heifer’s head is WAY too dainty for the calf halter we HAVE.  (the little bull MIGHT be able to wear it if we punch a hole in far enough.)
  • Neglected all household niceties (like doing dishes after each meal and keeping laundry caught up) and stuck solely with necessities (Matt’s uniforms, clean underwear, enough dishes clean to eat off of) due to incredibly full days.
  • On the upside, fall asleep as soon as we’re in bed, which can occur as soon as chores are done.  (Which, since I couldn’t get the stupid cow in the stupid barn until 11:00 one night… and then only after I tried unsuccessfully for two hours only to have my husband accomplish the task in the ten minutes after he got home…. can be very late right now!)
  • Begun to wonder if I’m going to be a lousy excuse for a farmer forever, doubly a concern in light of the fact that my city-boy husband seems to have better cattle herding skills than I do! 
  • Discovered that our fearsome cow is actually turning out to be a decent tempered animal, providing her head is stuck in a stanchion and she realizes that no matter HOW many times she poops, I’m going to milk her ANYWAY =)
  • Noticed that our brown baby seems to have figured out that nursing only on the live quarters trick.
  • Become encouraged on all fronts.
  • Discovered that Sheby has suddenly turned lame.  (swelling on her left hind leg) 
  • Consulted my uncle to hear that this particular cow will probably cost us some money and may not be worth the investment.
  • Wondered what we should do about both the lameness and my uncle’s speculation.
  • Heard from my children their ‘verses song’ (as my kids call them), particularly the chorus, "Do not worry, do not worry for tomorrow will worry about itself!")
  • Remembered that it’s all a new experience and… as my uncle said when I apologized this evening for being so ignorant… "You’re not ignorant.  You’re LEARNING!"
  • Prayed
  • Posted this blog
  • Gone to bed happy that we currently have a wonderful family, an acreage, lots of poultry, four head of cattle, and numerous other blessings while refusing to unproductively worry about the lameness of the one or my competence/lack thereof in the realm of agrarianism,  because ultimately, I’m not in control and the outcome isn’t mine to determine or fret about. 

I’m not ignorant; I’m learning.

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