Friday, December 29, 2017

I need a name

During our family Christmas Meal I noticed Stella the escape artist getting harassed by Belle. Stella was laying down in the fodder we had out and wasn't getting up which was very unusual.
I jumped up from the table and hurried to get my coveralls on. It is amazing how fast I can throw on those insulated coveralls.
LOVE my coveralls!

Ariel was close behind me, she grabbed my farm coat and out the door we went sort of leaving everyone at the table with my parting words "Something is wrong with Stella...!"
Actually I was not believing my eyes. I think Stella was calving. She shouldn't have been, but...we didn't move her out of the pen where we had a young bull until late

I stepped through the hot wires and Stella stood up and sort of whirled. Out slid a calf. Stella stepped away and I bent down to the calf, pulled off my gloves and cleaned out his nose and throat. I wished I could have seen Ariel's expression although I will bet she watched intently.
My hands were full of the calf's smell and I gently put them up to Stella who smelled them and made a soft guttural sound. She followed my hands back to the calf and she started to clean him.

I sent Ariel to the house to tell 'Grandpa' that we needed to take Stella and the calf to the shed.
By now everyone dressed. Rich and his daughter set up a pen in the shed while Ariel kept the other Dexters at bay with sorting sticks. I ran into the house and tracked snow and fodder over the floor to grab some old towels.

Stella will generally follow me or allow me to push her where ever I want her to go. She is the not a very large Dexter, so I formulated a plan. I'd pick up the calf and she'd follow the calf and I into the pen in the shed.

Rich said the calf would probably not survive in this cold. I said that I'd sure like to give it a whirl. I could not abandon the thought of trying to make this little guy make it.

It was quite the sight I think. I was crouched holding a wet calf wrapped in a towel in front of Stella's nose. She'd lick the calf and I'd crab walk sideways away from her. She'd follow and make guttural noises. Behind me, Rich, Ariel, and Steph all kept Stella on track through the yard and up towards the shed.

We got to the driveway and Stella stood stock still. She had to pee and no one was making this new mom move until she was darned good and ready. It made us all laugh. We even talked to Stella as if she were a person, asking her if she was done yet and did she have any other thoughts?

We got her into the pen with no problems. We put down shavings and hay. Stella seemed starved and ignored the calf.

I went in the house to get on some dry coveralls and more towels.
My mother in law asked me how I got so wet. I explained I was calf-slimed and laughed.
Pretty soon everyone else came in too. Rich said Stella was ignoring the calf and he'd tried to get it up to nurse with no success, that Stella kicked at the calf.

Ariel asked me what we should do. I told her that personally, if it were up to me, I'd get milk replacer and bring the calf in the house. She seemed to think that was a good idea. I took the towels and rubbed the calf dry.
Ariel watched as I pulled the calf close into my lap and hugged him tightly. I willed him to live and to get warmth from me holding him so tight. He shivered and seemed to push into my body.
I don't think that Ariel saw my tears. Perhaps she did. My heart has an extreme soft spot for animals. I hugged him tightly before setting him down in the bedding.

I explained that had we known, we would have had a box stall put together and a heat lamp. The last time I'd had a calf born in this time of year, it hadn't made it. Annie had come to us with calf and we didn't know it. We nearly lost Annie because she was technically too young to have been bred.
Photo from January of 2012. Saving Annie
We did save Annie. I even hand milked her much to her disdain and had tried to save her calf. However both had been so chilled that we lost the calf.

Of course the conversation turned to cattle and the calf...and Stella. I mused that if Stella's calf was half as sweet as she was, he'd make a beautiful steer to have around for petting. It felt bittersweet to talk like that. I wanted the Calf to be fine.

As the company gathered to leave, Ariel went back out to say goodbye to Stella. She was all set to find a dead calf.

She came in the door and her glasses fogged up.
"He's up and walking around!"
Everyone went out to look and they came back with the same conclusion. The calf was up and moving around.

After they left, Rich said he was going to bed. The day wore him out.
The Kenosha Gang folks called...Daryl and Amanda and we talked about our plans for the weekend.

They said they'd bring a heater and we could modify the stall to prevent them from getting too cold during the upcoming weekend sub zero cold snap.

I hung up with a bit of hope in my heart and grabbed my fresh coveralls from the dryer. They were warm.
I grabbed the towels I'd just dried and stuck them back in the dryer while I dressed. I had a plan for the next 24 hours.

Heated towels every two hours!
The calf really responded well to that and he even scooted around the makeshift stall while I cleaned up mom poop.

Stella had cleaned up her hay so I fed her more and gave her fresh water.
This was taken at midnight.

I didn't awaken at 2am. At 5am I ran out to the calf laying in a pile of hay and shavings giving me the classic Stella Look.

Stella at 12 hrs old:

So it looks like this Dexter Weebull is strong this morning. I have help to make things even better coming this evening.
I am hopeful enough to actually think of giving him a name.

Any takers?

I had a thought:

Sir Prize

A friend on Facebook said he should be called Zero for the subzero temps.

Let's hear it!

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Hey Lady! Where is my Treat??

Little Richard was frosty yesterday morning as were most of the critters. The cows lay in their thick layers of fodder bedding and chewed their cuds awaiting the sun to make its appearance through the trees and into the valley.

I always am amazed by the wonderful winter coats these animals have.
You can see where I shoved my bare hand up through his coat to feel the downy hair underneath. No, he was not shivering. He was not cold at all. He has shelter from the weather and he chooses to be out.

People however have a harder time with the cold. It was actually better this particular morning as their was no wind.
I dug out Rich's subzero coveralls for him. After all, it was about -4 when we did chores.
He was going to hook up the hose to the hydrant so we could water the large heated stock tank.
I have taken to wearing over the glasses snowmobile goggles. It may look stupid, but the comfort is incredible. And my eyes don't feel windburned at all. I find that with this 'get up', I can take the cold and the chilling winds.

I wish I could put on Little Richard's coat!

Morris came out with me for a while when I was filling the big stock tank. He ran back and forth sniffing and looking, I think, for mice until he started to shiver. When he got cold he ran to the porch door and stared at me intently.
I let him in and he stopped as if to say, "Why are you not coming in?"
But the sun was shining so brightly  ~ and I was toasty warm.
Besides, I had to drain the hoses after the tank fill so they wouldn't freeze up.

And the sky was simply amazing.

Today it is supposed to snow some light fluffy stuff and then we may go back to some rather arctic temperatures for the weekend.
I have my Kenosha Gang arriving some time on Friday and they want to hike. They all recently got goggles to protect their eyes from the cold also.
We have some ice formations to seek out at the KVR. I've scouted out the trails and we will be out of the winds.
The temperatures should make for some incredible ice formations also.

Just after I finished with the watering, Sunshine came up. I grabbed her bridle and we took another spin around the pastures and yard. It is an easy way to check fences!

You can just barely see the house in this shot.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

This and that ~ the day after Christmas

On those frigid dark mornings I sometimes dabble in a bit of fun. I took a photo of a bare tree in the pasture and 'developed' it into something else. 
Not quite sure what it is, but I do like the colors. Very abstract.

Can you tell that it is dark and below zero outside?
I thought it would be fun to make a Christmas colored fractal...

I don't know why I enjoy 'making' these odd shapes and designs, but it just ends up pleasing me and it is a challenge to work in a graphic program that makes unbelievable worlds.

Or a bit of other worldly...

And...then I decided to see what I could do with a Mandelbulb I made.

Sort of cool. Interesting shapes and patterns.

But then I took it to another photo program and did some manipulations.

Okay this one I like. I mean I really do like it.

Well the sun is coming up. It is about -7 and that is with no winds. The sky has beautiful orange and pale blue colors in it.

Rich's daughter and her family are coming today along with Mom. The house is prepped and tidy. Well, tidy for me.

I need to gather my outdoor gear for chores this morning.

I do love cold. I have the appropriate gear to wear in it and be very comfortable.

So have a great day whatever you are doing.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Fractals and Riding

Really? What on earth do those two things have in common?


Except yesterday early ... early morning while it was still dark, I messed around with JWildfire which is a fractal program. I haven't dabbled in it for a long time so I decided to mix it up with something I 'created' from Incendia.

I felt a bit creative so used Incendia Next along with PSPX7 to create this 'thing' I call *Cosmic Wishes*.

The next one was done in JWildfire using another fractal creation as the backround. This was a tricky one to do, but I love the colors. Basically it is just abstract and color...

And last from yesterday morning...A Mandelbulb with  JWildfire fractal as its back round.

I could see something more interesting in this if I did it over again. However, I never seem to be able to do 'the same' thing over when it comes to art. I always end up changing it and making many versions.

My day fairly went normal as could be. I left my laptop whirring away on a fractal render while I did chores and we did the watering together. I did take a walk and when I got back, Sunshine came to the gate.
Well, that was simple. I grabbed a halter and put on her bridle.

She is 'stump' broke, so I can lead her over to the yard stump and simply step on....gosh, I love short mules!

We rode up to get the mail through the neighbor's woods. I had just remarked the trail so I could see it easier.

I wondered if Sunshine would let me on if I stood her in a ditch after I got the mail.
Nah, that didn't work out well. So I tried an old downed tree. I walked her alongside it while standing on the log.
And we were off again. The mail was safely tucked into my coveralls. The breeze was biting cold, but I was toasty warm on my little Red headed heater.

It is Christmas Eve day and we will take my special 'lasagna' dish to my MIL's to have it with her around noon.
I want to be at home for Christmas Eve.

I think the magic happens this night.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Take A Hike!

There is an App that can be used with cell phones called MapMyHike. I had been using my Etrex Garmin GPS for years, but it seems to have issues now, so I thought I'd try this out.

I thought this graph was pretty interesting. It shows that I kept a fairly good pace even with the elevation changes. I know that since May I have increased my power and strength for hill hiking. I surprised myself last weekend when hiking the KVR. It was rather flat and I covered ground in 12 minute miles or less depending on when I stopped for taking photos or re-routing along the river.

My hands may ache and feel horrid, but my legs are strong and can carry me along. Some of this route was similar to what I can ride Sunshine, Mica, or Siera on. However the majority of this hike was on deer trails and not groomed trails.
It involved 'creek leaping' as well as ducking and hopping over dead falls.

I love to chose to go along the creek first anyway. I've even tossed out some flat rocks to assist with the creek crossings.
I went past the Ice Wall to see if there was any ice forming. This area is wet with a lot of water seepage so the ice is forming.
Last year....
in January...
The temperatures will be dropping drastically through the weekend and since I have some avid hikers coming to visit, I thought I'd check out the route we like to take together.

These are the trails I take. There is an old logging road that is a bit wider but nothing is groomed so it is always rough going. I am not complaining as this has been my backyard hiking for the past 20 some years.
I wanted to see if the 'Ice Cave' had any ice on it yet. The ice formation on these rocks are dependent on moisture from the ridge. There hasn't been enough rain or snow melt to create any formations here.
The raccoon have taken over the 'cave' area. I could smell the scat from above it.

As I entered the cropland area I saw this mud-grass bird nest full of cracked corn and berries. I wondered if some field mice didn't use this as a storage bin.

Then it was back out onto the cropland. I hiked through the corn stubble and cut across to our property line.

I hustled down the steep hillside to the creek. I checked my time and I wasn't far off schedule. I'd told Rich that I'd take about an hour and a half. I had 20 minutes to spare.

I marched an slid down the hillside and back to the creek. I grabbed the knotted rope we call "the elevator" and used it for balance while climbing up the steep bank.

The arrow points to the rope I use to go up the bank.

View from the top of the bank into the creek.

I made it home with two minutes to spare.

I grabbed some dry clothes [I'd sweat through my shirt and sweatshirt] and helped Rich finish the stock tanks.

How did I feel afterward? I thought I'd ache all over.
I did not.
I thought I'd feel it today.
I do not.

However, I did sleep like a baby last night. 8 full hours of sound sleep. After 9 years of odd shift work and no sleep pattern, I am finally feeling a bit more normal. I feel like leaving that job gave me back years of life.

I'm already plotting my next hike.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The little house

This little house.

All dressed up.

With holiday cheer.

All sorts of funky things going on...
around here...

And Mr. Morris is quietly awaiting the arrival of St. Nick...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hiking is good for the soul

Sunday was foggy and misty. Damp, dreary, and basically an ugly day. The sort of day that most people would cuddle up with a Kindle or a book and sit on the couch to read.
I thought it was a marvelous day to hike.

I packed some dried apples that I'd done this fall and water. I chose my clothes for layering. Hiking in the damp chilly weather can be uncomfortable if one is too warm or too cold.

Water, snack, compass, phone, camera, spare batteries, and a second pair of gloves...all check.
Area I was going to hike? Memorized. I'd downloaded a file of the place on my cell phone also.

I parked and got out. This was an exploration trip. I wanted to see how easy the trail would be. I wanted to find a scenic and rather easy hiking area to take friends to.

This is Old 131 Trail in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.
In the summer it is a multi use trail. In the winter it is a CC ski trail that allows hiking alongside the groomed trail as well as snow shoeing. I decided to park along County P and hike south to the ponds.

The trail looked rather easy and level on the map, it followed the valley along side the Kickapoo River.
I wanted to see how long it would take me to hike quickly to the ponds. There is an observation 'deck' that faces east over one of the ponds.
I'm thinking it would be an amazing spot to watch a sunrise.

However, I am getting ahead of myself.

I was chilled right away. So I set a fast pace and headed south. I'd brought my ancient GPS device and tried to set it to the Trip Setting which would tell me how far I was going and the speed at which I traveled. I had a hard time making it work, for some reason the menus were evading me.
I dropped it back into my pocket.
I had an app on my cell phone called Sun Locator Lite. I could bring up a map from it if I needed to...if I was able to get reception!

I got to Bridge 15 much faster than I anticipated. I slowed down and looked at the river.
Through the trees I could see a rock formation.
I went off 'track'. I followed a deer trail alongside the river and had to negotiate a lot of piles of dead trees and wood from an accumulation of flash floods along the Kickapoo.

I was stunned when I came around some trees. I think I even said something like, "Holy Cow" or "OH my God!" or perhaps an "Oh Shit!"
I know, potty mouth right? I probably let my sailor mouth run off a bit.
Be still my beating little stony heart.

I continued along the river.

I decided to just stand still and look for a bit. The scenery was incredible and very hushed. The only noises were that of the river flowing.

All I kept thinking is, do I have enough time to stay here and explore? Should I follow the river? Common sense said I'd come back to the next bridge. The Kickapoo is known quite well for its twists and turns.

I looked up between the above pictured bluffs and saw a river of ice flowing down through the trees towards the river. I imagined myself exploring that area.

I turned around and retraced my steps and went back to the bridge. I put away the camera and shouldered the back pack. I hustled along crunching in the left over dusting of snow and ice covering the blacktop trail.

It seemed only minutes before I arrived at the next bridge. Bridge 16.

I was on the lookout for a way across the river that would connect this trail to the Little Canada trail across the river. I'd taken that trail last winter with the neighbors.

I enjoyed the view from the bridge for a bit and then checked out what I thought was another trail. It was just a short path to a summer campsite.
I turned around and kept up the fast paced march.
Here I walked alongside the river. I could see the hills and forest of Little Canada. I had ridden that trail in 1996 through 1999 when the reserve had changed hands.

I came around a curve and slowed down. I could hear water splashing. It reminded me of the Artisan wells that dotted the areas. I thought they had all been capped.

Color me tickled. I found one!

I came back out on the trail and saw the frozen ponds ahead of me. To my right a sign indicated a camp site and a horse only trail. I noted that it said NO bicycles and thought it was ironic that someone had taken a 'fat' tire bike down the trail.

I walked the trail and tried to recall if I'd ever ridden this trail. I must have at some point. I returned to bluffs. I know I'd hiked the bluffs above this point and ridden my mule also.
But I was stopped in my tracks again.

Why wouldn't I be?

I walked around another pile or two of flash flood debris and stopped. I had found the place.

What place?
I don't know, a place that gave me pause and gave me a sense of something not felt in a long time.
I let out a breath and stood still just letting my senses drink it all in. I felt calm and relaxed in so many ways.

I heard a squeak and looked up. A Bald Eagle landed in one of the pines above me. I just watched. I didn't attempt to pull out my camera. I was just happy to be in the moment.

I had reached the 'spot'. I unpacked the dried apples and chewed on them. I'd bring my friends back here and share this with them in about 10 or so days.

I sipped my water and decided that I'd take a look at the observation 'deck' at the pond and then head back.

I got out my compass and noted that the observation bench and area faced east. As I'd said earlier, this would be a great place to watch the sun rise. I noted that I was about equidistant from the parking on County P or the parking at the KVR building.
I think the hike would be fairly easy as it is along an old road.

I turned and waved to the bluffs and headed back.

So much more to explore.