HOMESTEAD MATH: SEVENTEEN PLUS ONE EQUALS ANOTHER SEVENTEEN

17 BULL CALF BARLEY DARTS 2018

A long, purple tongue and one, small hoof was hanging out the backend of a heifer.  Numbered seventeen, this soon to be cow was struggling with her delivery.  So, Keith donned elbow-length, sterile gloves.  Fortunately, he discovered Seventeen’s calf was still alive.  But, it needed to be pulled.  The exam simply confirmed what Keith’s parents had already known.  And whether, it’s from years of experience, instinct, or both, they were right; once again.

A small chain was easily secured around the protruding, front hoof.  However, securing it around the other front hoof was an inside job.  Once the chain was in place, triangle-shaped handles for pulling were added.  Each time the heifer pushed with a contraction, the calf was pulled out; inch by inch.

CALF PULLING OB CHAIN BARLEY DARTS

Now, I believe Seventeen would say that writing about such things is physically easy, compared to doing them.  And I agree; wholeheartedly.  Why?  Somehow, I ended up behind Seventeen, squatting.  Soon afterwards, I was holding those cold, stainless steel, triangular handles.  But, as I also recall, Keith told me he’d be back in just a minute.  Well, kiss my grits and call me naïve.

You can also call me determined.  As Keith and his parents stood by me, Seventeen pushed hard and I pulled hard.  It was exhausting work for both of us.  But, after a while, I no longer felt the strain in my arms, legs, and lower back.  In fact, something magical was happening.  This fight for life was turning into a beautiful dance.

As soon as Seventeen and I found our rhythm, we got lost in time and moved as one.  Push-pull.  Push-Pull. Push-Pull.  Push-Pull.  Over and over, without missing a step.  First, I was greeted by front legs and a thick, mucous coated nose.  Then appeared a forehead with big, round eyes.  Next, two slicked back ears and the rest of the head, cannon-balled their way out.  Then two, slender shoulders twisted toward freedom.  Afterwards, there was a dramatic pause.  During which, Seventeen and I both took a deep breath.

Eventually, there was one more, albeit anti-climactic, push-pull.  Then two, back legs with a stubby tail simply slid out.  In fact, the lack of resistance caught me off guard.  And had a corral post not been nearby, my own legs would have slid out from under me, too.  However, I managed to catch my balance and stood up.

It was time to celebrate.  Seventeen and I had delivered a healthy, bull calf.  He, too would be numbered seventeen.  And with a quick swipe to clear his airway and remove the chain, our job was done.  Well, not actually.  It was just another beginning…

DALLAS WALK OUT

BULL CALF DALLAS WALK OUT MARCH 2018 BARLEY DARTS

Dallas, our juvenile bull, staged a walk out.  Ironically, it was this week.  And in all fairness, it was easy and looked like a good idea.

Of course, the grass often looks greener on the other side.  And Dallas enjoyed every minute of his protest.  However, he also lived to regret it.

Only a short-time later, Dallas became desperate.  He longed for the basics of real security.  The same security he’d taken for granted.  And the same security that had been paid for, by the sacrifices of others.

Now that it was gone, Dallas would pay a price.  He had to fight to get back what he’d walked away from.  Alas, it was much harder, and far more painful, than a walk out.

FRIDAY FRONTIER: ENDURANCE

 

FULLER HOMESTEAD MAR 2018 BARLEY DARTS

This vacant homestead is a couple of miles up the road from our own.  The humble little shack on the far left, was likely the house.  To the far right, is the modest barn that may have sheltered a working horse and a milk cow.  The two small sheds in between, may have housed chickens and a workshop.

Year after year, these remnants continue to endure our bitter, winter storms with strong, north winds.  And year after year, I marvel at the skills of the folks that built it; all by hand.  I marvel at their lives of endurance, their sacrifices, their blood, their sweat, and their tears.  I marvel that America’s very foundation was built this way; one rock, one stick, one day, and one life at a time.  And I marvel that it was built with the help of family, friends, neighbors, churches, and communities; from one generation to the next.

Meanwhile, I marvel at modern Americans.  They have ample free time.  Yet, instead of helping one another, they live to rip each other apart.  And the only thing they work hard to do, is to tear our communities and country down.  Few, if any, understand what it actually took to build it all up.  In fact, few have the skills to build anything at all, besides chaos.  And even fewer sow anything, besides discord.  Alas, even the remaining remnants of yesteryear, may not weather and endure even one more generation…

 

FRIDAY FRONTIER: SASQUATCH

SASQUATCH SHADOWS BARLEY DARTS

Jane Goodall is quoted as having said, “Well, I’m a romantic, so I always wanted (Sasquatch) to exist.”  Perhaps, I’m a romantic, too.  Why?  Because I see Sasquatch, Big Foot, or Yeti in the shadow of this photo.  And those tracks?  Well, isn’t that just more proof she’s roaming our North Woods again?

 

 

FRIDAY FRONTIER: GIRL POWER

MEET AND GREET DAUGHTERINLAW BARLEY DARTS

Keith and I will soon be blessed with a daughter!  We admit that it took us by surprise, but we couldn’t be happier!  Tomorrow, we shower her with our blessings.  I just hope I don’t overwhelm her with my excitement.  I’ve been outnumbered by the guys for a long time.  You know, guys rule, girls drool?  So, look out boys!  From now on, there’s gonna be double the girl power!

FRIDAY FRONTIER: WORTH THE WAIT

CANNING PORK BROTH BARLEY DARTS

Wait.  Meanwhile, save up some money.  Next, find and purchase a boar and a gilt.  Then feed the gilt and the boar, twice a day.  Wait about 6 months for the gilt to mature.  Then put her in with the boar.  Wait 1 to 2 cycles for them to mate.  Continue feeding the gilt and boar, twice a day.  Wait another 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days.  Then at 3:00 am count your piglets.  Next, feed your piglets, twice a day.  Wait 9 to 12 months.  Then harvest a pig or two.  Wait for the meat to cool.  Next, cut up your pork and fill a roasting pan.  Bake low and slow.  Wait again.  Remove most of the meat from the pan and cool.  Meanwhile, fill canning jars with the broth.  Process broth in a pressure canner.  Wait some more.  While you’re waiting, shred the meat, package it, and freeze it.  Repeat.  Then wait for a special day, just around the corner.  When it arrives, thaw the meat and heat it with the broth.  Wait one last time.  Then bless and share it with family and friends, knowing it was well worth all the wait.

 

FRIDAY FRONTIER: RED SKY

RED SUNRISE BARLEY DARTS

On our way to Bemidji, we chased this spectacular sunrise.  Within minutes, it culminated into a sea of red that flooded the whole sky.  And while we were enthralled by its beauty, we were also concerned.  Why? “Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.  Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.”  It was an omen that our drive home would not be nearly as pleasant.  In fact, a snow storm with 55 mph winds didn’t wait for our drive home.  It was right on the heels of this sunrise.  And well, let’s just say, it wasn’t nearly as colorful.