Friday, September 11, 2015, 7:48 AM
~~ Slammed into Neutral ~~
I didn’t want Cowdog Ducchess to forget her mom Hawk so I have taken Ducchess home at night to sleep in her mom’s second comforter. Ducchess found her on the comforter and on the floor next to my second Sandhill’s Saddlery saddle from the Feusner family of Ogallala, Nebraska. Putting on my boots this morning I missed Hawk’s head bumping for me to wipe my palms across her loving, soft and glowing eyes. My face grew flush with tears and Ms. Ducchess quietly got up from my side softly whining, “Hey, hey, don’t cry. I know. I miss mom too.” Up, to the door, shutting off the light, and pulling the door shut I felt so empty. So much to do today.The feed truck coming this morning, the virgin heifers to get in and deworm, then haul them N to a winter pasture for the breeding season. Then, back to home to get the heavy heifers in to deworm them and move them out of the dry lot to the NW hay field where they will stroll, eat and learn the nightly drill of the coyotes who will be watching the calving range sisters every move. Time permitting, then move the handful of spring calves out to roam with the coming yearling fall born heifers of 2014. The two bull calves now steers will be held back for a few days since I castrated them yesterday and I should keep them handy to watch for pesky flies. Remember Mr. Tuesday, the little frozen earred popsicle that I walked home to save from the wrath of the 30 some below zero wind? He is now less in the scrotum as is one of the last twins of the spring. Maybe I should go N to the Windmill and check the handful of cows that I hauled to there yesterday. See if they have settled in, found the rest and comfort of the trees along the big steep banks of the branch, and look to see if the gal with the fresh pedi is enjoying having the hind foot flush to the ground again. I need to take them mineral but I have to wait until the truck arrives today from Quincy, Illinois. And, I will need to go S to see what the logger fella has left for me in the skidder. Yesterday, the dozer man filled me in about the nests of yellow jackets, large red wasps,bumble bees, honey bees and hornets that he and his helper have found in the past few days. The dozer fella’s story of how Wyatt had a cab full of yellow jackets was a gasping tale of humor and terror. Wyatt’s high lift was overrun with yellow jackets. Wyatt jumps out and runs, leaving the high lift running in neutral against a stump bottom, and Wyatt is swarmed with the striped bastards. Wyatt runs over the ridge to the dozer fella and says, “What the heck do I do?” The dozer fella tells him to go home and get a sprayer of gas and find the nest. Wyatt leaves, comes back with a sprayer of gas, finds the nest about 15 yards from the still running high lift and sprays the piss out of the area. Wyatt gets back into the high lift, puts it in gear and from under the floor board comes the masses of the yellow striped bastards. The wasps had stayed with the high lift and had been taking in the heat of the motor while Wyatt was out gassing the wasp’s home place. Wyatt got stung 8 times or more and had to go home. Yep, life can sure dish all of us out a crappy hand. The sting of wasps. The sting of death. The lingering impacts of things gone wrong.
We got an inch of rain last night. Standing in my mom’s back yard this early morning and to the SW behind the steers, the timber was releasing waves of steam which was forming and rolling up from the rocks of the woods. Surreal. A flurry of thoughts power-stroked rapidly through my mind…all my heart, all my soul, all my energy, like sinew, you are the air I breathe, you are the beat of my heart, you are the steps of my feet, you are the fiber of my being, you are me, life doesn’t have to be sad but it is. The inch of rain is nice but for some reason, “I don’t care.”
September 9 at 6:53pm · Edited ·
~~ History Repeating Itself ~~
Here they are. The twin girls from the 1st calf heifer. Ms. Ducchess and I went and brought them home from the N place. While Ducchess and I were driving home with the twins I thought we’d just go ahead and gather up the virgin range sisters, spray their flies off and haul them home too, “Heck, why not.” We unloaded the twins and their mom, got her a bit to eat, opened the pen so she could stroll to water and we were off to the N and W to the Windmill. We took the Iron Steed and the spray rig. Through the pasture we drove…just me and Ducchess…aka the gate getter and the range sister wrangler. About 1/2 way through the pasture, down along the steep banked branch. I stopped and told Ducchess, “Hunt ’em up and bring ’em.” She bombed off the iron horse like a rocket, down the steep E bank, grabbing dirt and smokin’ up the W bank, out wide, in behind the heifers on the W side and down the bank to the E and catching the E side heifers. With her heifers all gathered up, Ducchess pushed them up the steep E bank and I drove on to get the gates at the corral. Ducchess and the virgin range sisters were not far behind and coming at a walk. A few tried to break and beat it down the steep bank at the corral and take off but swifty Ducchess was all over them. Little heading job and all were turned back and headed to the gate. Ducchess held the heifers in the pen on the come by side, the iron steed and I had the middle and the away side. The fly killing commenced. We got the gals all sprayed down and headed back home for Ole Red the flatbed and the trailer. Four loads of 9 and we had everything hauled home before noon. Tomorrow morning we will pour them and haul them back to another place to the N for the winter and breeding season.
It did not dawn on me until Ducchess and I were coming down the drive at home that I had repeated history this morning. Unknowingly, repeated history. Five years ago on this same day, Hawk and I headed to the Windmill and did the exact same thing. Gathered up some heifers and hauled them home a few days after we buried Daddy Bert. Today, Ducchess and I took on the same task a few days after we buried her mother Hawk. I wonder if Bert and Hawk realize their first born girl carried the same torch today as did Momma Dog Hawk five years ago when we lost Daddy Bert. I choked back the tears and looked at Ducchess as we crossed the autogate, “Ducchess, thank you for your help.” Then I realized I said the same words to Hawk five years ago after we accomplished our first work task after burying Bert. I started reciting Psalm 23 to calm myself. Then it dawned on me that I recited Psalm 23 as I fought back the tears with Hawk five years ago.
To try to shift my mind from the dark sadness, I grabbed the camera and took pictures of my new twins and found two photos of their sire. This heifer is a dandy. I’ve gotten 7 calves in the last 24 hours out of this bull and they are all as gentle as can be. Gestation is running 273 days, birth weights are in the mid 60’s, and the calves are built perfect, fly right out of their moms and hop right up to nurse. So far, all the heifer udders are in great shape. Time will tell how the milk quality is. ~Sadly, Life Goes On
FB Post…Wednesday, September 09, 2015, 9:00 AM
~~ A Censored Mourning Morning ~~
With Cowdog Hawk safely buried in the backyard by the red maple next to the clothes line, I took on yesterday as if there was not going to be a tomorrow. Rain was in the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday…like 1-2″ of much needed rain, “Yeah! Oh hell no!” Too dark at 5 AM, but by 6 AM I was shimmying up the ladder with a hammer, nails, caulking and no fear to tap down a shingle and clean up a roof valley before the rain was to arrive. 7 AM roof done, stuff put away, Cowdog Ducchess loaded up, to the home place, hook up the trailer, put two buckets of range cubes on the Iron Steed, and off to the N to gather some bred ready to pop 1st calf heifers. The heifers were nowhere in sight, a few “come on girls”, some waiting, and through the timber from the furthest point to the NE came two, then a few more, then a few more, all strung out, but in about 15 minutes there were 26 with the last one being pretty far behind. Thought to myself, “Hum, bet she has already calved.” As the heifers got closer and across the humped up 5 foot culvert at the ditch I could tell that a little brownish spot was trailing along with the big girls. A calf walking with a pace and stride of being a week old and not less. The heifers got to the corral gate and were just loaded with face flies and a new oncoming brood of horn flies. I knew the flies would be bad by now since the last spraying and I had the Iron Steed spray rig all ready to go. I jingled the range cubes in a large arc in the larger corral pen of grass, went back to the gate, kept my mouth shut so I didn’t suck a pack of flies up as the heifers strolled through the gate and tossing my head and motioning my free hand to brush the flies from my face. Bastards. This pasture of gals have not been on the garlic concoction the past few weeks since I have been nursing Cowdog Hawk so the flies had a leg up on me and the young with calf bovine sisters. The little calf was indeed about a week old and she was as gentle as a couch poodle. Score one for the yearling bull that sired these little chiggers. She is a nice size of 65 pounds, built square and a flat back, shapely square hips, feminine and friendly as all get out. She walked with a stride of being special and important. Momma Dog Hawk would have looked at her with approval, “A new baby. How cute is she!” Ducchess and I did an “away to me” and eased the heifers on into the smaller pen, leaving the pair for last and putting them in the alley with one other soon to be mother. Then the fly killing commenced. Ducchess held the come by side, I had the away side, the Iron Steed had the middle and we worked with the wind to our drift advantage. Right to left, left to right and the occasional move it around to get the young range sisters to give me their other sides. A pass to the pair and the other soon to be young mother and Ducchess and I were done with the fly killing application. Off to home we went for Old Red the Flatbed and the trailer. Four loads later and at 10 AM crossing the home place autogate and here came a sprinkle of rain. It rushed over me, “We did it Ducchess. Home before the glorious rain.” While washing the semi-liquid grass out of the trailer there were a few rain drops pattering the roof. I felt a sense of sad accomplishment. Sniffling. Hawk would have loved the chore of the loading and hauling and the conversations to and from one place to the other. Loving, talkative eyes on the passenger side of Ole Red and a right shoulder slumped against the side of the seat. Yep, that would have been “us”. But that “us” was replaced with the upright sitting of Ms. Ducchess, looking straight ahead and giving me an occasional chatter to signal the fun she has in her work. Damn death. Damn future. Damn pain. Damn it all. The rain was not a rain. It sputtered out at about 100 drops, the sky lifted from light grey to a dingy grayish whiteness. I went in and grabbed the Fall 2014 calving folder, parked here in front of the ‘puter and began to peck, cipher doodles and notes, poke the information into the awaiting Excel spreadsheet and got all the last details of weaning weights and last year’s calving information into the Fall 2014 cow file. Then, found the cow file for the 1st calf heifers I just hauled home and printed it off for their calving data record sheet for Ole Red’s dash, put the calving book with the landscape spreadsheet data and noted the 1st calf that so graciously strolled home with her mom and her aunties…the other soon to be range sister mothers. Before you knew it, it was 2 PM. I went to check how things were going in the dry lot where I had put the soon to be mother range sisters. Across the fence, peering, scanning and I spy 2 new babies up and sucking, “WT!” Yep, two fresh out of the gestational chambers were two new baby bovines. A leg swing up over the fence, scouting more and I see a third and fourth range sister were doing the stroll. Thinking to myself,”Damn glad I got these girls home this morning.” I just did not want to face calving at the N place in the midst of all the brush and cedars and coyotes and stick tights and I wanted them home for the breeding season. Accomplishment in such a sad time in my life was not exactly joyous but I knew deep down that I’d be damn glad I got the task done when I did. After the stubborn pace of “poke me with a stick” doing cowdog chores, I went back to check on the new baby bovines and their mothers. Alas, here was a freshly out of the gestational chamber baby being rolled around and then ignored by the new mother who knew the rolling ball was hers yet she wanted “the other baby” too. “Really? Give me a break.” I picked up “the other baby”, hopped on the Iron Steed, drove to the W end of the lot, set the tike off, walked back and got its mother, strolled her to her tike and shut the gate, leaving the “I want that one” heifer with bewilderment and a “WT” all over her face and mind. “Tough. That one is yours. Deal with it,” I muttered. Walking back to the gate I was greeted by a moo and calling of, “Hey, my little one is back at the pasture.” Upon further review, “Yep, you are right. I’ll get the trailer, another range sister for your company and I will take you back to find your little one.” I had wondered at 10 AM if this were the case with this range sister mother. So, I loaded up the two gals, hauled them back N to the pasture, and let them out. Off the range sister mother went with a mission and the pace of a mission. Ducchess and I left. This morning in the fog, ’round 7 AM, at the N place in the corral was the uncalved pal range sister, across the way along the timber line was the supposed mother. Ducchess and I get closer and sure ’nuff there is a brown spot near the new mother and a second brown spot out in the hay field, “WT? Twins?” A little closer and here is one calf running circles and enjoying being reunited with mom and a second calf calling out. Yes, indeed the beautifully built 1st calf range sister has two little ones…A and B…two little girls, “Yep, two girls!” Keeping close tabs on each just like her grandmother did when she had her first calves her first year. This new mom is the spitting image of her grandmother. A 1/4 mile stroll later, the twins and their mom and the other range sister pal were in the corral to wait for my return to load them up and take them on back to the home place. Just another reminder that death comes, drops you to the lowest point in your life and slaps you around to remind you, “Life goes on. Deal with it.” Damn death, “I hate you.” I love Momma Dog Hawk. I miss her.
Sunday, September 06, 2015…written Sept. 07, 2015, 3:10 AM
~~ Cowdog Hawk…Sunday, September 06, 2015 ~~
Hawk and I spent the evening laying on the floor by the big brown chair watching TV. She and I were curled together just like old times…friends to the end. A little before midnight, with her head laying on my arm she looked at me, blinked her eyes, and took in her last earthly air. Her spirit and soul now take in the cool breezes of Heaven. Her nose to the wind, her ears perked upright and the look of a warrior on her face, as I say, “Coyote?..!!” She was fearless, fast, smart, funny, loving, the mother to seven litters of pups to Daddy Bert, and the best grandmother to her children’s little ones. Hawk was the Queen and all others greeted her as such, loved her as such, and gave her the respect earned by a Queen. Bert was her only lover. Hawk raised her last litter of pups the year of 2010 when Daddy Bert died on September 6, 2010. Hawk left me to be with Daddy Bert on September 6, 2015. It is no coincidence that she left me on the same day as Daddy Bert left us. Hawk loved Bert as much as she loved me and I believe she picked her day to move on to see Daddy Bert again. We buried my dad on September 07, 1996. The three things I have loved most in life all buried on the same damn day. The doctoring things are put away. The dishes are washed. The laundry is done. Daylight will bring our last walk to the backyard together. I love her. My heart is broken. I know all too well the cruelness of death and regardless of how I feel the sun will continue to come and go..Some days, I hate life just as much as I hate death. Long may Momma Dog and Daddy Bert run with the angels.
A little more…Hawk was doing really well on the herbal/holistic medicines. She has not had a fever since Thursday evening. A different vet suggested I use a prescribed diet canned food. I gave it to Hawk on Friday evening and by Saturday morning I could tell it has upset her stomach. I tried buffering the issue but was just too late to stop the acid upset. I just should have not taken the vet’s advice and should have continued with what was working and left the vet’s advice go in one ear and out the other.
September 5 at 9:35am · Edited ·
~~ Life by the Day ~~
The week from Hell is the few days before Labor Day and the few days after Labor Day. 19 years ago, the Lord came late at night, told my Dad it was time and a few days later we buried the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. 5 years ago, an error I put into motion took the life of my beloved Cowdog Bert. Eternally forever in my backyard in his favorite spot rests Cowdog Bert who died and was buried on the same day as my Dad. Bert’s Tribute is on my website Home Page at http://www.tammyscowdogs.com. 2015 and I am trying to save Cowdog Hawk. The primary doc at the Univ. of MO Vet Teaching Hospital sent me packing the other day stating, “Hawk is circling the drain.” In all my years of working with professionals in the animal medical world, I’ve never had someone so cavalier look at me and speak those words to me. I too, once thought being a veterinarian was my calling. I applied to vet school, got accepted and then told my Dad I was not taking on vet school and that I was going to leave Missouri and go back to my true home of the Sandhills of Nebraska. My father was crushed. But I made the right decision. I’ve practiced animal medicine at levels, settings and geographical locations way beyond where vet school would ever allowed me to go…bar none. I value life even when it is ending and I would “never” use the terminology of “circling the drain” for one of my own animals or the life of a dying animal that I have tried to help a neighbor with. All life is sacred to me and to use the analogy of “circling the drain” is disrespectful, cold, callous, and demeaning. That is my opinion. I brought Cowdog Hawk home the other day and was angry for all the things that I had asked about, probed about, researched about, and got answers of, “I don’t know. We don’t know.” By God, I am here to tell you, saying, “I don’t know. We don’t know.”, is irrelevant to the profession of “you better keep reading and looking”. I don’t have time for, “I don’t know.” I want effort. On that drive home, I decided that Hawk and I were now on our own. The magnitude of mental recalls came flooding into my head. Signs. Little signs of things that I had wondered, thought about, and done on my waiting days at the animal hospital. I got on the internet with a renewed purpose of exploring. The relying on a young and budding professional was over. I won’t go into details at this point because a lot of folks don’t life reading “long” stories over 2 sentences long. The short version is I am using some herbal blends, some raw goat’s milk from a high school friend, some intuition, some trial and error, and lots and lots of spiritual conversation with God. This took me to finding a veterinarian in S Texas who practices holistic medicine. Out of the blue, I called, left a message and you know what…she called back. I returned her call, explained my situation with Hawk and she was more than happy to cite to me her personal experiences with dogs with similar issues and shared options for me to pursue. I got more comfort from this lady than anyone in the last 2+ months. Hawk and I are making progress but this is a long, slow, anxiety riddled journey. I think of all the moms, dads, spouses,and kids who have had a loved one with the same long-term struggles with a health issue and I know how they feel. I see what it is like. Hawk will let me know, when or if, our journey is at an end. But, I’ll be damned if I will let a nonchalant data driven young professional tell me she is willing to put Hawk to sleep for me. I’ll tell you this out of experience, data is merely a tool…yes a valuable tool, but life doesn’t always go with “the data”. Pluses and minuses of life. I’ve sucked it up 100’s of times, used my drive and intellect, and managed to make it, and then again, managed to let go. The last of the hay is baled, loaded, hauled and stored for winter. I’ll get my calving pasture ready today. I’ll get the bred heifers gathered, hauled home and poured, and turned out to their calving digs..maybe tomorrow. I can be the definition of “grit in action”…just ask my abusive two ex-husbands who tried to abuse and break my spirit and life. Failure happens in life but I damn sure don’t shrug my shoulders and let failure cover me like a slow-motion bank of clouds in the sky…like turning away, making up some excuse for failing attempts, and letting a coolness to life settle into my mind. Life can be good. Life can be cruel. We all leave earthly life eventually. But I’d like to be at peace as many times as possible. Peace takes years sometimes…don’t kid yourself. But giving up can be much harsher. That’s it Dear Digital Diary. I appreciate all the comforting spiritual concerns from everyone. ~ Tears as I close.
August 31 at 8:40am · Edited ·
~~ Hey Ya’ll ~~
I am still alive. But to be honest it is by a thread. Cowdog Hawk is hanging in there. Last week was bleek, very bleek. With a change in her antibiotics and 3 1/2 days out on the new antibiotic she seems to be feeling better. I’ve read and researched pancycopenia diets and made some adjustments to her food. The antibiotic she is on now is not a friend of the tummy or digestive system. The nursing care for her is a juggling act. If you ever have a loved one who experiences the same symptoms as Cowdog Hawk’s story…well, then you fully understand. To those of you who have written with family stories of similar nature…I love your encouragement and so gratefully appreciate your stories. Some days, I am operating from one light bulb moment to the next. Yesterday, heck, I was mowing hay…you know, the normal June work being done on last day or so of August through 1st week of September. I should be putting the finishing touches on getting cows/heifers moved home for calving and having things “just right”. Sheetfar…so behind. But the spring rain was wonderful and to be honest we are bone dry again. How does that happen? lol… Spent 2 hours on Saturday morning driving the dozer fella around. Spent 2 hours on Sunday driving the logger fella around. Spent 5 hours mowing hay and going back/forth to home to care for Cowdog Hawk. Everything else in the normal routine of a day is hangin’ fire until I can get this last minute haying done. Even not going to hay as much as once thought. Going to mow the tops down so that I can see the cows and let them have their calving pasture. There are times in life when you have to step outside of the traditional box and just punt. You can pick punt or crack and I try to pick “punt”. Might take me a few days to process a mental plan, but I’ve had to force myself to survive a lot of tough crap in my life and the summer and pre-fall 2015 is another one of those challenging phases I will live through. Well, I hope I live through it. I just felt so much more alive and positive when the daily temperatures were in the 70’s. Why is that? Now, back to 90’s or high 80’s and opaque skies with lots of southern moisture…I feel like a slug. Why is that?
So. I gotta go. But, thought I’d take just a bit to gulp a coffee mug of brown liquid with some of the finest fresh from the farm maply syrup from Matt Carter (look him up on FB) and the Longhorn Sugar Shack. Matt is jugging up another gallon or so and sending the sweet nectar my way. I don’t use sugar anymore and my joints appreciate the love of the maple syrup and the skipping of the refined sugar. Haven’t purchased a bag of refined sugar for years…cook, bake, caffeinate with Matt’s home-tapped, home-cooked, amber brown goodness.
Thank you for the continued prayers and spiritual support for Cowdog Hawk. I’ll be sweating like a leopard frog today. ~Carry On…
August 26 at 2:22pm ·
National Dog Day 2015…
Reflecting back to the extreme drought year 2012 and a load of BertxHawk youngsters. Cowdog Hawk is the black gal on the seat. Bless Cowdog Hawk and her kids…may she live to see another National Dog Day.