Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas flood, snow storm, and recalcitrant cows

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but . . . there is no but. If you recall, I tried to sell our creek last spring, but I had no takers. So, I guess today's story starts a few days ago when the temperatures went above freezing, and it started raining. The Christmas Flood of '09 now joins the New Years Flood of '08, the 9/11 Flood of '06, the Mothers Day Flood of '02 and a dozen other floods that weren't lucky enough to happen on a holiday and get a name. I've pretty much given up on taking pictures of floods, because they pretty much all look the same. So, if you want to know what it looked like here on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, just click on the "flood" label, and you can check out pictures from previous floods.

Mike spent the end of Christmas Eve and the early part of Christmas Day shop-vaccing out the small barn. The pigs did some serious landscaping, creating a little pond, which caused water and mud to flow into the north side of the smaller barn. We never installed the drain tiles in the pasture or the yard this summer, so part of the bigger barn also flooded. Jonathan sat up with me until almost 1 a.m. Christmas Day, as I waited for Mike who was sucking the water out of the smaller barn. I felt guilty about sitting inside warm and dry, but it really was a one-person job since we only have one ShopVac. At 12:45 a.m., we talked Margaret into going out there to check on him. While she was outside, Jonathan told me that I could be waiting until 3 a.m. Then Margaret came in and said that when she asked her father if he'd be in tonight, he said he didn't know. So, I decided to go to bed close to 2 a.m.

On Christmas Day, the temperature dropped below freezing again, and the precipitation continued. In fact, it continues as I type, so we have a soft powdery snow on top of ice. I've only had lunch -- a late lunch -- and today has been far more exciting than I really enjoy. When I woke up this morning, I saw that the greenhouse had blown over, so Mike and I went out there to pick up all the pots and planting equipment that had blown around the garden, and he put it in one of the barns. I came inside to get warmed up, and I'd only taken off my boots for about five minutes when he came in and said the cows were out. Of course, they were out! The flood had shorted out the electric fence, and they just know when they can escape. They were across the road, so I took a pan of grain out there and lured them back home. We let them into the barn, and then decided it would be a bad idea to let them out the back door, because it swings on hinges, and we're in the middle of a snow storm, remember? I hate it when a 12-foot door gets yanked out of my hand by the wind. So, we decided to put halters on them and take them out the front door (which slides) and put them in the near pasture (which is woven wire). Sounds simple enough, right?

Getting a halter on Molly was not a big deal. However, Bridget has always been easy, and I made the mistake of assuming she would be easy today. Ha! After a couple tries, I realized I'd need help, so Mike put a lead rope around her neck to hold her while I put the halter on her. I was standing behind her head to the right and was planning to pull the halter up over her nose, and buckle it behind her neck. I leaned forward to put the halter over her nose, and just at that moment she jerked her head up. Smack! Mike heard it and said, "What was that?"

"My tooth. Her horn hit my tooth." Then I tasted something salty. Ah, yes, blood. And I realized my lower lip felt numb. I spit like one of those cowboys who'd just been punched in the face in an old western movie. Yep, blood. But I didn't smile the way cowboys do when they realize they're spitting blood. There really is no good place to stand when you're trying to put a halter on a horned cow, and right at that moment, I was thinking about how much I hated horns on cows. I'm definitely getting a polled bull -- genetically hornless -- so hopefully we'll have polled calves. If not, I'll probably dehorn them as calves before their horn buds even start to grow. But I digress. I moved as quickly as I could to get the halter on Bridget, and then we started leading the heifers out of the barn.

When I got to the gate, of course it had to be a challenge to get unlatched. And of course, there just had to be a turkey sitting on the fence next to it. And of course, the turkey just had to decide that she didn't like me invading her space. So, she flaps her two-foot long wings to fly off and smacks me in the face. At that moment, I decided that this was turning into a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. As we walked the cows into the pasture, Mike asks if I think they can get into the goat's stall through that cute little door that he made last month. I look at the heifers and look at the little door. I can barely fit through that door, but I take a good, long look at the heifers and the door again. Nope, no way -- and why would they? We put a flake of hay in the 3-sided shelter for them. What more could they want?

You know what happens next, don't you? I go into the house once again to try to warm up, and I barely have my boots off when I hear Mike scream. Molly has gone through the little goat door. By the time I look out the window, Bridget has followed her. I yell for Katherine to come downstairs and go help her dad get the cows out of the goat stall. I'm ready to warm up in front of the wood stove with a cup of hot cider.
. . . but the fire is so delightful. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!


Michelle said...

Ack! What a Christmas! I hope you guys have a more festive New Year's!

Sunflower Hill Farm said...

Oh, Deborah. I'm sorry for your troubles. Isn't farming fun in winter....not!


Oh my stars and garters!!! What a day! Did you even get to have an actual Christmas? or was that today?

Yep there are many days when farming is just no fun at all. But then there are all the other days when it's wonderful

Deborah @ Antiquity Oaks said...

Yesterday afternoon was calm, but of course, that's because we were at the in-laws celebrating Christmas. When we got home, we discovered that Tennessee Williams was with the girls, so will have to see if anyone kids in five months. At least he was the only buck loose. All of the crazy cow troubles were today.

SkippyMom said...

Bless y'all's hearts. That sounds like quite a Christmas.

I, too, wish you a quieter New Years.

[I laughed at recalcitrant cows - I don't know why, but it just is funny. lol]

sasa said...


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