Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bear's Four-Legged BFF

My Grandma Lyons used to ask me this riddle all the time:

"What has four stiff-standers, four down hangers two lookers, two crookers, and one switch about?"

The answer?

A cow, a momma cow to be more precise, and that's all I'm going to say about that anatomy!

We also have a favorite saying here in Benton County, "You have to go out of county to find someone to marry because everyone is related!"

In a county of 8500, it really is possible!

All of this brings me to Bear's BFF, Ladybug.

Remember these two?

Miss Ladybug is growing up now, and soon she will be traveling to Minnesota for the winter with some of her other heifer gal pals.  When she comes back in March, she should be an expectant momma!

Bear has really missed her buddy, so we have tried to visit when we can.

 Then this weekend, we were on our way out "that way," and we stopped by again to see her.

She really is Tink's show calf, but sometimes animals pick their person, and I think these two picked each other.

But then again, Miss Ladybug seems to be good at making friends.  I think this should be the political poster used from today until Election Day.....What do you think?!?!?!?!  If cows and pigs can get along and live in the same space, we humans should learn from them.  Here's to surviving the next week, and making wise choices.!

And here is to Ladybug's safe journey north, along with the rest of the heifers.  Enjoy romping in the snow, and we will see you in the thaw of March.  I know one little girl who cannot wait to see you back here safe, sound, and expecting. :-)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Verizon's Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 4G Review: 3 of 3 Thumbs Up!

Christmas is just around the corner!  ACK!  Do you have some fun technology gadgets on your list?  Have you been wondering about these new tablets popping up everywhere?  Well, we have been feeling just a tad bit like rock stars this past month thanks to Verizon and this neat opportunity my friend Cris, over at GOODEness Gracious hooked me up with to try our some new technology products.

The first product arrived at my door, and I think the girls were more excited than I was.  A TABLET!  WOOO!  I admit I was hoping for a 10 inch tablet, but these last weeks with the 7 inch have been well-spent, and I have no regrets learning on it first.

The learning was easy enough to figure out with a tutorial on Youtube and some common sense.  I really loved it because:

1.  it allowed me to sit in my chair and play games to my heart's content check on e-mails, read blog posts, and keep up with Facebook.

2.  quickly responds to posts and questions from FB and e-mail.

3. Answer homework questions yelled out to me across the room asked politely from the dining room table from my two angelic children/learners.

Here we are searching for information on our dear friend, Clifford the Big Red Dog to finish an assignment on his background.

Bear just plain loved Verizon's tablet because I downloaded Camera360 on to it, and she could snap and video away to her little heart's content during Tink's volleyball games.  It takes good quality pictures....Bear must have found the "negative" effect option.....

I also downloaded some paint apps and learning apps, and she tried those out.  They were much easier to follow along and play on a 7 inch screen vs. my phone.  I noticed both girls became better at using the touch screen option the more they were on the tablet.

* Maybe the one negative is that the tablet made me feel like my phone's screen shrunk, but that's just a perception problem on my end ;-)

Tink liked it because she found some word games to play, and we were able to find her math textbook on line and use it for quick references right there where we were working rather than gathering everything up to move out to the sun room where my laptop setup is located.

I didn't load any books on to the tablet, but I think it is the same sized screen as my Kindle, so reading should be about the same experience sight-wise.

My biggest take-away and like from this tablet is the mobility it allowed us to have, and then the entertainment factor for the kids at events where one or the other needed an outlet for fun.

A tablet is sure to be in our future, and I was very impressed with the speed and capabilities of this Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0.  See, even though I have a laptop, it isn't one that is easily portable, and because I didn't properly take care of it at the beginning, it is almost 100% dependent upon plugged in electricity. Danged ol' battery!  The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 charge usually lasted the whole day unless "someone" went crazy on it, fit in my purse, and went to volleyball games, drs appointments, and road trips, even without a carrying case, which would have been nice to have and easier on my nerves!

The only feature I would like it to have would be a USB port, but I am still not knowledgeable enough to know if that is an option on tablets yet.  Still doing research on that in between all my crazy jobs!

Now the sad part of the whole experience is that we have to box up our little friend and send him back from whence he came.  The cool part will be seeing what we get to try out next!  Thanks again to Verizon for allowing me this experience.  I am not getting paid any money for this review, but I do get to learn about new technology BEFORE I make a purchase, and that has much value right there!

On a farming-related note:  WE FINISHED UP CORN LAST NIGHT!!!!! WA-HOO!  Now just about 200 acres of beans to cut and some custom work, about another 200 acres, for another farmer to finsih.  The light is growing brighter at the end of the tunnel!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good Grief!

I know we have been in a drought, I know we need the rain, but there is a time and place for everything, and really I would be just tickled pink if it would stop raining for the next ten days or so!

1. We have 160 acres of beans up at my mom and dad's to cut, and the ground AND beans have to be dry for that.  You can get away with picking corn a little wet, but NOT BEANS.

2. We has a 1/4 yesterday and an inch so far this morning.  A good lightning show went with this morning's storm, and I was out in the feed lot trying to help Tall Guy replace a bolt that broke in the feed conveyor.  This job blossomed to hand-shoveling all the silage in the conveyor out into the feed bunk because the shuttle still wouldn't work.  Meanwhile it's still pouring down rain, I'm praying my boots are water and liquid poo proof because that is what I had to wade in to get to the feed bunk, then there are about 15-20 hungry, market-ready moos behind me wanting to eat (that's about 1300 lbs a cow!), and my fearless dog has my back as it lightnings all around me.  LOVELY!  It did finally start working again.  I did make it back to high, somewhat dry ground, and then back to the house where I now need to get totally freshened up from head to toe to go sub for the sixth grade teacher this after noon.  The boys, TG and FIL, went on down to the sale barn to see how our 9 cows do at the auction.  If they bring back any feeders........so help me........Well, I will just deal with that when/if it happens because that will mean working each calf that comes on the farm to make sure he/she is healthy, and this isn't the ideal weather for all that.
These pictures were taken at a drier moment!

What really keeps me sane, even though I am now 50 years old, is catching barn kittens and cuddling with them.  There is just something about a cute ball of fur that melts me and calms me down.  We have two that the girls and I can catch.  The spoiled tool-shed cats aren't too happy about sharing the attention, but they can just get over it.

It's hard to take good pictures of them on the move with my phone camera, but I did find a cool extra on my Camera360, a light that works like a flashlight for dark places!

The storm is letting up, so I had better make a mad dash for the shower before Round 2 hits. I haven't had the heart to look, but I hear there is another one coming!  OYE!

P.S.  This probably sounds totally ironic, but I think I have another good book to tell you about!  I've just started it, but it's called The Gift of an Ordinary Day by Katrina Kenison.  I bet you can see, just from the title, why this book captured my attention.  Life on the farm is many things, but ordinary and boring are not usually words we use.  There are some regular words that I probably should not mention, but it's always pretty lively.  I'll let you know how this book goes, but so far I like it a lot

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thinking of Leontine.....

Well, today I was supposed to meet up with a couple other great gal/bloggy pals from Real Farmwives of America, the Indiana home team, and spend some time with Leontine, but my dear family had other plans; a three-letter word called FLU!

That's not so good.  I will let you catch up with Leontine's condition by directing you to her latest blog page because that dear wonderful sweet girl can tell her news with a grace, humor, and honesty that always makes me smile, even when the news is not so good.  See?  Even her title can bring a smile

Doing the "Poopie" Dance

Another blogger has set up a lovely page for you to send Leontine some more love.  It's called Leaves for Leontine.  You can click here or on the badge at the top right corner of my page.

Have no fear my dear friend Miss Leontine.  I am going to put that cheeseburger pie in the freezer, and I already have a message out for another gathering of your greatest fans to come up and see you.  Can't wait to tell you about the four ornery dairy calves I am bottle-feeding, and how I am learning to give these ya-hoos shots when they need them.  

All my love and hugs dear!  Until I can get up/over there and give them to you myself, germ-free.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One of My Personal Heroes: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

(Thanks Wikipedia for the pic!)



Yep, this gentleman is one of my personal heroes, and I am willing to bet only a very small percentage of you have ever heard of this man.....but without him, we would not be living in the United States of America.

I even have a shirt with his picture on it....REALLY!  

This all ties in to a book review I have wanted to do for a while, The Traveler's Gift, by Andy Andrews.  It's an uplifting book about a down and out man who gets to go back in time to learn seven important decisions/lessons from people in history so that he might go forward in his life and make a difference.  The great people he meets range in fame from Biblical to Presidential, to key people from our history books, and even an angel, but the one you probably won't recognize unless you were one of my English students, one of my dad's history students, or a total Civil War nerd is Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

His lesson to our protagonist, David,  is "I am a person of action."  David learns this lesson right in the middle of the most pivotal battle in the Civil War, The Battle of Gettysburg, and at the most crucial moment of the battle taking place at the top of Little Round Top.  It was Chamberlain's action that saved his men, saved the Union's position, won the battle for the Union, and broke the spirit of the Confederate Army.  If he had not acted, the Union most surely would have lost that battle, the war, and the Confederacy would have succeeded in it's quest to separate itself from the Union.  

You would think that a military man was made for such a moment, but here is the kicker, Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, up until the war, was a professor of rhetoric at Bowdoin College in Maine!  No military experience, no personal experience with slavery, but he and his brothers joined the Union Army based on the fact that this war was like no other war....He wasn't fighting for a king or for land or revenge; he was fighting to set other men free.  Chamberlain was a man of principle, and this is what made him a beloved leader on the field and later in his political life.  

Chamberlain's 20th Maine was the absolute far left of the Union army's line up Little Round Top.  If they were to be defeated, the Confederate troops would come down the mountain and collapse the entire Union line.  At the breaking point of the battle, with little to no ammunition left, he gave the order to his men to fix their bayonets and they would execute a Right Wheel Forward, basically swinging down the hill to the right at full charge and push the Confederate troops back into the rest of the Union army.  It was a gutsy move, it was a huge risk, and it worked!  The Confederate troops either turned and ran or surrendered on the spot.  This all happened because Chamberlain's men had faith in his leadership; he was a man of action.  

I hope you get a chance to read this book by Andy Andrews.  It has a very strong message.  If you are a closet history buff, please please please go out and read The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara.  This is one of the most moving books you will ever read about war, friendship, and the conflicts it all brings on.  These men were real, their tragedies and successes were real, and it is a lesson we all need to remember. 

In the weeks to come, as we listen to debates and statements being made, I hope to hear a voice rise above the others that will speak to me as a person of action, of noble action, just like my hero, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday or the Best I Can Be at Being Wordless

Trying to summarize what I've been up to for you so you know I'm not always sitting in my chair, eating Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips and watching Young and the Restless!  (that's what DVRs are for!)

Tonight is our last away volleyball game.  Monday ends the season.  Our 5th grade team is made up of entirely 4th graders, who played on the 5th grade team last year as well.  The girls have improved soooo much.  Very proud of them and actually excited that I was able to coach a few games with them so our coaches could go watch their senior daughters play varsity volleyball at our high school.  I LOVE our small-town school and the flexibility it allows all of us to be what we might not otherwise be!  The sixth grade team even won all four sets one night and dared the other mom-coach and I to do a cartwheel for their efforts.  I'm proud to say this 50 year old mom stuck her landing!  WHEW!  NO PICTURES THOUGH... you just have to take my word on it ;-)

Then there was our school's annual Walk for a Healthy Heart Walk-A-Thon. The Good Lord sprinkled on us during our first lap, but the second one was all dry and clear.  The kids really love this day, and it is so great to see them out and about the town with the townsfolk popping out to cheer them on!

Soccer is almost over.  We actually were rained out last weekend as of the Friday before our Saturday games.  I was very excited  disappointed that we couldn't be out at the field at 9:00 a.m. to play in blustery 32 degree weather .  Our last games are this Saturday, unless someone gets a wild hair and wants to try and make up the games we missed.  Bear has had fun chasing that danged ol' ball.  Tink too!

Then last Saturday, Banana Split decided he didn't want to eat. After consulting my experts, I went out to the dairy to get some electrolytes and baby calf penicillin.  I can now give a shot to a calf!  My resume just continues to grow, and happily so does this calf.  He's back on the bottle, and acting VERY frisky in the pen with his other buddies.  Ever been inside a pen with a 2-3week old calf?  It's an experience!  You have to be good about sharing ALL of your personal space and even a few of your "parts."  I have already had enough gooses to get through the next 35 Christmases!  It's no 50 Shades of Gray, but they do get your attention!  ;-)

Then I have been back in the combine.  This corn crop I am calling the "Dickins Corn" because "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times."  In one danged pass, I saw the bushels per acre on the monitor go from 0-245!  Seriously! IN THE SAME FIELD!  It's just been nuts out here, but it's all averaging out.  The final number is much lower than last year's crop, but at least we have a number.  I know so many farmers who came out with a 1.5 bushel per acre average.  Heartbreaking!

Helped my FIL fill up the drill so we could plant our winter wheat.  Some we plant for actual wheat, and some we plant as a cover crop to keep the topsoil from blowing away.  It also adds nutrients into the ground.  Want to have a heart attack?  Ask a farmer how much it costs per acre or field to fertilize ground for corn next year.  Let's just say this gal who lived for 18 yrs. on a teacher's salary, would have been in ICU ASAP!

Then there is this big dude!  Remember Jerry?

Here he is back at fair time, about three months and over three hundred pounds ago!

Yeah, well he's been out in the back pasture, honestly a bit neglected as all his buddies across the fence have been "disappearing" (translation: headed toward a grocery store near you!).  He is so danged frisky, and I swear he thinks he is a Great Dane.  You SERIOUSLY do not want a 600+ pound Great Dane prancing all over you, so we are trying to get back out and brush him and work with him so he will remember his manners come fair time next year.  I think I am going to rename him Bubba!

Next I had a refresher course in cutting beans, and off we went behind the house to take that field out. Beans are coming in about normal this year in bushels per acre to a bit above.  That was a nice surprise!  Tall Guy even said this is the first time in 4-5 years the beans have been in the double digit moisture count.  In a drought year?!?!?!?!  See??  Crazy Year!

Then my dear husband called two nights ago after a very long day and asked if I could go up and shut the doors of four of our bins so the forecasted rain wouldn't get the dried corn wet.  Want a great work out?  Try hauling yourself straight up three bins that are about 3-4 stories high.  The fourth one had stair steps.  I about hyperventilated on the second one!  Seriously out of shape!  Who knew?

But the view was awesome!

Now I have to round up these three or three reasonable facsimiles (remember that phrase from old cereal commercials wanting us to send in box tops?  Too funny!).

Why you ask?  Today is Pet Blessing Day at school, and I said I would have three kittens there at 2:00 ready to be blessed.  Then I am bringing my two plus two more home (girls that is), and we are headed to Lafayette for the volleyball match that starts at 6.

So goes days on the farm during harvest.  They can be described with many words, but boring is never one of them!   Be safe out there;  Harvest is starting to wind down for some, but we still have a 1/3 or so to go.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Repost as I Try to Catch Up

I think I have the morning off, but I am scrambling just in case someone realizes this and decided I need to do something else!

Life is going 100% crazy, full speed ahead right now, and I am trying to work on one or two or three posts, but I keep getting pulled from the house to the combine or to the calves or to the volleyball games or to soccer practice...yadda yadda yadda.

This is such a funny post, at least from my point of view, and I pray Tink will also grow to see the humor in it as she realizes I have shared it a second time with my readers.  It all happened about a year ago, and it reminds us to teach little girls the importance of knowing which way the wind is blowing and spare tissues are a good thing!


If you have little girls and you live in the country, you might already know where this post is headed.  I kind of hate to tell this story for fear both Tink and Bear will read it and put me in a nasty home when the time comes, but..... it's just too good to pass up!

Tuesday was a long day.  It was the day after Halloween, so it was also All Saints Day, which translated into a Chinese fire drill at my house because Tink had to read during Mass, and Bear needed to dress up as St. Cecelia, and we ALL needed to be at school by 7:45 to make it happen.

It did, all went pretty well, then Tall Guy and I scampered off to go pick corn up at Brook, where my family farm is.  I will dedicate a whole post to that incredible experience, but for now you just need to know that I had spent a good 6-7 hours in the combine, drove the 20 miles home to pick up the girls at Grandma W's and headed home in great need of a walk.  The girls wanted to go too.

It was a day that reminded me of a walk we took last year.  You can click here to see the pics; they are really great, but here are two of my favorites.  The girls are taller, and their hair is shorter, but you get the idea that it was a beautiful day.

So here is where the story gets fun/funny/crazy/whatever.  Tink decides that Nature is calling, and she is going to answer it right by the windmill.

Seriously?  I have been begging them to "commune with Nature" since they were out of diapers but to no avail.  This is one of the few times I wish I had boys who will, I am told by several of my friends with boys, "tinkle" wherever whenever they want to outside.  Girls.... not so much.

Ok, so I go to help her.  Now, we are on a windmill path surrounded by newly worked bean ground, so there is no place to hide, but we are off the road, it is not well traveled, and the base of the windmill provides some coverage.  My first big piece of advice is to tell her to check which way the wind in blowing.  I said,

"ALWAYS make sure the wind is in your face when you go potty outside!"

Thank you windmills for making that decision easy.

Well, she got all hunkered down, and........yep, she chickened out.  I said that was not a problem, but I was glad she tried.  We talked about how it was good to learn how to do this on the farm where there are no potties available to tinkle in.  This is when she said,

"But Mom, I was going to poop."


"Uhm, Tink..... How do you think you were going to take care of yourself after you finished?"

" I don't know, grab some leaves?"


We are at the windmill in the background.  Imagine all the ground worked (or turned back to dirt around the gravel path).

"Grab some dirt?"


So we had another discussion about how that would not be a wise choice and kept walking....  Story done?  Not quite.

Bear had been walking along, singing a song, side by side ( not really, that just popped into my head), but she was walking along with us sniffling a bit.  I noticed her allergies/sinus were acting up as we walked into the wind, and I told her if "stuff" became caught in her throat, she could try to spit it out.......

You know.....no one ever teaches girls how to spit.  Again, wind is an important consideration, and this time you (obviously to we wise ones) do NOT want it in your face for this type of elimination.


Some things we just need to learn by doing I guess.

Have a great day, and may the wind always be at your back, unless you need it in your face for just a minute!