Monday, June 27, 2011

The Dew Point: Hooligan among the Meadow Muffins

Most of our lives we create an internal drama and transpose it onto our external existence.  Life is rarely as exciting or dramatic as we tend to make it. If we would just stop and analyze what we’re doing, we can see that if we allow our minds to do what they were truly designed to do, we can figure out a way to make our lives a whole lot easier. Far too often, however, we see giving up misery as too much of a sacrifice to bear.


It was about this time of year that our old Holstein cow, Izzy, calved for the second time. It wasn’t as much of a surprise that time as it had been the first, because the neighbor’s bull had plowed his way through the fence to get to her. Apparently he thought Izzy was rather foxy, though I couldn’t see that in her myself. She was ornery and obstinate in ways that used to infuriate me endlessly, and that day was no different. With the fence down, Izzy followed him back into his own pasture.

At that time we had a young Holstein bull – I’ve forgotten his name – who was still too short to breed Izzy; though he tried repeatedly, much to our amusement. He got pretty jealous when Izzy took off, so he followed her, and was followed by his little buddy, Boots, the crippled calf we got from another neighbor. So our whole little menagerie was milling around the neighbor’s pasture when we found them. Ben always tames our cows when he has the time, so it wasn’t as difficult as it could have been to get them home, but Izzy wanted some more of what she had gotten and so our little bull calf kept running back to her after we got him into our pasture. The neighbor’s bull obviously figured he was just a little snot-nosed brat and kept trying to chase him off to no avail, then he charged into our little bull and bowled him over. The snot-nosed brat was shocked at the big bull’s rough manner and finally came home and stayed with Boots. Then it was somewhat easier to get Izzy home – at least after she had one more go-round with the big bull.

During all that excitement, Hooli followed us around the neighbor’s pasture, enjoying the show. She winced a couple of times when the bulls were rough-housing, but most of the time she was grinning as wide as all Montana while she played among such a big cow herd.

The following summer, when Izzy calved, Hooli was right there to help Izzy clean the calf up. The calf was so beautiful that Hooli got the bright idea to take over cleaning the calf herself and then decided she wanted that beautiful baby for her own. By then we had our horse, Jaquara, and Hooli got so possessive that if either Izzy or Jaquara got close enough to sniff the calf, she nipped them on the nose. Ben and I had a good laugh for awhile, but finally had to intervene so Izzy could nurse her baby.

Hooli was terribly disappointed, but the new calf, Roz, was forever afterward Hooli’s favorite. I’ll have to admit that Roz was pretty special, she was my favorite, too. That beautiful baby calf grew up to be one of the most beautiful cows I’ve ever seen. Her father was a red bull, but Roz was solid black, with big bright eyes and long lashes. She was tall and built like a brick house. But the best part of all was that she was the only cow we ever had that wouldn’t back down when Jaquara got huffy over the water tank or a special patch of grass. (Jaquara loved Izzy most, but she was even more ornery and obstinate than Izzy was, so she had an edge over Izzy, too.) And Roz was never as ornery as her mama.

Hooli never again took to another calf the way she had taken to Roz and unless Roz was too much on the move or got ornery, Hooli was usually beside her when she went out to pasture with the cows. She was, I believe, even sadder and more distraught then Ben and I were when we had to sell our little herd during the drought.


This is our little aspen patch shortly after we planted it, a few years ago. (Yes, I know you can’t see anything but the buck brush.)



Here is our aspen patch this spring.



This is our garden before we put in the new fence. We had unheated hot wire tape strung around it seven feet high to keep the deer out, but one doe kept jumping even that and eating the cabbages, so the next year we replaced it with an eight foot fence. So far the deer have stayed out – at least when we have the hops vines blocking the space above the gate.

Notice the little crab apple tree beside the back corner of the garden on the right side of the picture. We grew this from a tiny seedling we dug up in my parents’ yard.


Here’s that same crab apple tree this spring. The parent tree had tiny red apples, about the size of your thumb nail, but his one has much bigger apples that ripen to a deep purple. They’re very tart, but with a bit of sugar they make great apple sauce.



Here’s our rhubarb patch. This last weekend, we picked it and cooked up thirty-four pints of rhubarb sauce to put in the freezer. Two weeks ago, Sue canned twenty-seven pints from this patch. (Does it sound like I’m bragging? Actually, I’m just happy that we can put anything besides broccoli in the freezer for the winter.)



For those of you who remember the earlier pictures of the vegetable garden from the past, here’s a peek at how it looks right after planting.



I’ll show an update in a few weeks. Winking smile

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