JAN 16 2022 PDF BLOG

JAN 16 2022   PDF BLOG

American Cowboy Picture

Baby Jim
Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives

I just opened my blog and realized that I have yet to move into 2022 even though I wrote about it not starting in an auspicious manner.

Todays edition is more appropriately dated, as I sit here waiting for the next great snowmageddon event.   As they say every day on our local channel 12…….its a first alert weather day.   We are forecast to get from 3 to 78 inches of a mixture of rain sleet and snow and power will be out for millions for days.

Fear sells in todays news.

First some good news……

I mentioned in my last blog that I was looking for a replacement tractor.  One of my friends read the blog and  texted me about a tractor for sale.  I went and looked at it yesterday and agreed with the owner on a price late yesterday afternoon.  We will consummate the deal in the coming week.

It was cold here this morning…..17 degrees outside at 6:00 am….not the coldest day of the year so far as we have been as low as 10 degrees already this year….I am ready for summer, but I guess I have to slog thru the rest of the winter to get there.  As another old friend use to say every year……”February can be a B___h”.  One of the memorable snow storms I recall was the first week in March.  It was back in the late seventies and I had about a hundred first calf heifers scheduled to start calving the first week in March.

We had about two feet of snow and I don’t remember how many calves we lost in that storm…..there were some that I did not know had been born at all until the snow melted and I found tiny carcasses.  We did not have enough barn to house all of them…..but I had about 40 heifers in a barn….these were ones I had due dates on and real heavy springers.  I would go over at night and check on these.  

One night I went over and eased in the door.  The barn did not have lights so I carried a big old fashioned battery lantern….the kind where the lantern just bolted onto the battery.  This was an old type barn with a livestock area at ground level and a pretty good hay loft above.  The interior of the ground level had support posts about eight inches square spaced every ten or twelve feet to carry the load above .

I stood just inside the door shining my light to see what was happening.  There were a couple of new mothers tending their calves.  On the far end of the barn was a heifer with the newest calf…I eased around the barn checking to see if there were any others.  I was about mid way thru the barn when I saw another charbray angus heifer was trying to claim the calf of the new mama…..this gal was in the early stages of her own labor.  I decided to try to separate them a bit so she could concentrate on her own business.  

As I approached she spied me and decided that she must protect the babies and she charged me with malice on her mind.  I ran…trying to avoid calves and other new mamas.  Then the misfortune got me….at a dead run I connected with one of the support poles.  I have no idea what happened after that…..I woke up about an hour later with a nearly dead lantern providing a faint glow…I had a good sized goose egg on my head….this dispelled my Daddies position that I was the hardest headed he had ever seen.  The evil heifer was mothering her own calf and when I began to stir she resumed growling at me.  But she did not charge again.  I crawled to the door and managed to crawl through it and into the snow.  

That March reaffirmed my commitment to fall calving….all you had to worry about in the fall is hurricanes.  



American Cowboy Picture

Baby Jim
Photo courtesy of The Old Cowboy Archives

I had a phone call yesterday from an old friend.  We attended college together back in the late sixties and the early seventies.  

We attended together our freshman and sophomore years.  Then I ran out of money and went to work for my uncle Sam for a couple of years.   God was looking out for me and even though I volunteered for OCS and Airborne and Ranger School, I ended up fighting the war at Fort Carson Colorado….but that is all fodder for other stories.

When I went back to college I managed to cram a four year course of instruction into eight short years.  I enrolled and managed to get a third year taken care of but again had to drop out and  get a job to support the expected addition to the family.  That took a couple of years.  when I finally got back to finish my degree, a mutual friend told me that my friend was back as well.

Turns out he had done some time with uncle Sam as well and had survived the bungle in the jungle.  We were both married and living in Roanoke and we commuted to Tech together quite often.  This was during the gas shortage of the early seventies. 

After graduation I again lost track of my friend for several years as I was cowboying in Ohio and Virginia and he was a chemical engineer travelling the united states.

Somehow we reconnected a few years ago….I don’t even remember how….but we tried to maintain at least an electronic connection.

Some of you are aware that I used to write a little and published a blog for a good while.  This is a habit that has eluded me pretty much the last couple of years.

My friend called me mostly to see if I was still extant because he had not heard from me for so long…..lots of excuses for this but none that justified leaving old friends in the lurch.  

jogs my memory that I never had a lot of friends…..mostly because my friends wives almost unanimously thought I was a bad influence.  Heck even my first wife ended up with that opinion.

A little rough around the edges and while not a tall man, I could be a little tough to deal with….and for many years, what I thought had a way of falling out of my mouth, which always managed to upset others.

In my later years I softened somewhat….to the point that Marie used to get mad at me because she thought I let people take advantage of me.  Little did she realize that I was merely trying to control my worsening temper and stay out of jail.  I had become like my dad….a strong man with a hot temper….except he was mostly quiet and I was loud.

But I digress immensely……I have been fortunate to have some good friends in my life.  Like some who call just to see if I am still breathing.  Then we ended up talking for an hour and seven minutes.

Got to thinking about how I communicate and what I could do better…..in recent years I have used social media more and more….for a while I was a regular on a couple of cattle boards….have not visited one in about a year and a half now…..I have hundreds of facebook friends many of which I have never met….

I decided to go back to my roots and communicate in a longer form which suits me better….going back to the blog format and will let people know of the post with short notices.

So far 2022 has not been much of an improvement on 2021.  Started January with a barn fire where I lost the barn and the tractor and a substantial amount of tools and equipment.

Thank god there were no animal injuries…..I only had a couple of cows left and my sons Jessee and Matt came and got them the afternoon of the fire as I had no feed or any way to feed them….so for the first time since 1986 there is not a bovine in residence at Pipe Dream Farm…..I do miss them and every time I step out the door I still look for the cows.  Now I have begun to say to myself as I glance around…”dumbass ….they are not here…”

The equines are still present and tolerating me.

Still in cleanup mode at the site of the fire….but the snowstorm last week created a slight delay.  the 1 to 3 inches predicted turned in to 10 to 12 inches of heavy wet snow and the power went out everywhere about 9:30 am last week and lasted about five days here….some people were out for ten days…..it was the biggest damage since hurricane Isabell in 2003

I was not too worried…I had a generator…..dual fuel and would run on gasoline or propane….lost all my gas cans in the fire….learned the lesson that propane will freeze up in cold weather….the generator will run about an hour and a half and then it freezes up and the generator quits.

Trying to find a replacement for the old tractor….went all the way to Staunton this morning to look at one….still negotiating a few issues.

A neighbor brought me a skid steer loader to feed the horses round bales.

Still have not figured out what I want to do about the barn….I need storage space for feed and hay and the tractor…but without the cows I do not need as much barn…..got to finish cleaning up the debris from the old barn….I have already sent off a 40 cubic yard dumpster of scrap metal and am in the process of filling a 30 yard one now.  slow work because I have to sort wood debris from the metal debris which means deconstruction of everything.