Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

It's taken me a while, but I think I have finally embraced summer and all that that entails.

Remember when you were young and the summer days seemed to stretch on endlessly without a care? My only concern was whether Mom would let me have watermelon for breakfast and if she would holler at me for wearing those old, worn cut off blue jean shorts for 3 days in a row. I spent many a summer day tubing down the Blanco River in Wimberley, Texas and many a summer night kicking up my heels at the street dances held in the town square. Fond memories that make me flinch when I realize that 30 years have passed. Ouch!

Somehow, somewhere, the summers seemed to morph into something unrecognizable. They no longer lasted forever and everytime I turn around now, there are piles of dirty dishes that call for attention. I'm sure there were piles of dishes during those years as well, but I don't remember them. Memory is a funny thing.

The once warm sun of my teen summers seemed to have been replaced by oppressive heat. I now tend to migrate into the coolness of the house when the mercury rises and take refuge under the whirring blades of the ceiling fan. If I need to get things done, I had better get them done before 1 pm because after that, all motivation evaporates into thin air as if it never existed.

I still love being outdoors, but now you will find me walking the dirt road at 5:30 in the morning. That NEVER would have been the case in the summers of my youth. Sleeping in was another summer extravagence. Now I seem to have acquired this disturbing trait known as a guilty conscience. Must get up before the sun does in order to get all the outside chores tended to before the heat rises above the century mark. Yes, I know it's just a sign of getting old, but let's just keep that to ourselves.

Yesterday DD and I took a short drive down the dirt road in search of a particular photography subject. Her rascal of a dog, Tucker, shows short bursts of exhuberane on occasion and coming along for a ride is one such event. I let DD drive and I sat back to enjoy the wind blowing through my hair. I couldn't help but notice Tucker. He was standing on the arm rest with his head stuck out the window, like dogs are wont to do. He had this absolute look of sheer joy on his face as his ears flapped in the breeze. Dogs know how to enjoy summer and it was at that moment that I realized I should take a hint from the Beagle.

No, you will not see me with my head hanging out the window, tongue wagging, and ears flapping, but I have discovered that summer is still there for the taking. It's all in your perception and I only have to look past the pots and pans and over the head of a Beagle to find it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

12 on 12 June

Whew! These months are moving too fast! I haven't even finsihed last month's project and here I am with the 12th of June staring me in the face!
No scrapbook page yet - I'm having issues with the printer, but here's a peek into the 12th of June at the end of the dirt road:

I've been walking every morning for about 3 weeks and I've been heading out before the sun peeks over the horizen.
Now I have to clarify that I find this very unnatural; however, it is the coolest part of the day and when the day promises to hover in the triple digits, walking at 5:30 makes sense. I know, I know, I don't always make sense, but give me a little bit of credit.

I get up at 5, fix breakfast (I can't eat that early) and trudge outside and am greeted with great enthusiasm by DD's beagle, Tucker. Honestly, this dog doesn't expend any energy unless he has to, but he LOVES walking with me. Our old retired cowdog loves to tag along as well, but he's getting a bit old to make the 3-4 mile trekk so he watches us forlornly as we leave headquarters. Tucker is contemplating whether he really wants to tackle that hill or not:

When we returned, it was time to feed breakfast to this little one:

Apparently her Mama's doing a pretty good job now so she wasn't incredibly hungry. When I stopped to nuzzle her a bit, these critters jumped at the chance to finish up the leftovers:

Then I went out to check on DS. DH wanted this fence built going into the round pen so DS is honing his welding skills

When I turned back towards the house, I found this:
Little rascal wanted to insure the cats hadn't left any lingering milk.

Presently, we are overrun with kittens. I'm quite certain the population has doubled this spring. People will soon begin to avoid us because we will be pressing them to take kittens home. Yes, they could very well be avoiding us for other reasons, but let's pretend they're not. (grin!)

Having a birthday? Have a kitten!

Getting married? Here's two!

Moving? Happy Housewarming - one for each room!

I have to admit, they're pretty darn cute and loaded with personality. Just look at this little toot:

Here, take your pick:

You can have the black one, or the black one, or the black one.

And this is what we were doing in the evening:

Someone has been giving us fruit trees and we are thrilled! Not so thrilled to be digging these deep holes though. The apple trees are in the ground and now we need to find a spot for these nectarine trees.

Mission accomplished!
Since DD got her new camera, it's been rare to see her without it. She's taken some amazing photos with it and on the 12th, while we were planting the trees, she became fascinated with the bugs in the grass so she hunkered down. She was completely engrossed in her subject. Apparently so was this little stinker:

This is Huckleberry. I should probably write a separate post about him.
No, you can't have him.

Well, there are days we would probably pay you to take him.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trudging out to the Barn at 2 am

It's been a long time since I've had to get up in the middle of the night to tend to a baby. My babies are now 17 and 14, but I still found myself feeding one at 2 AM.

Let me back up a bit...

On Friday afternoon I went with DH to move the mares. One of the mares had a day old colt and the colt had mothered up to a different mare who already had a baby. I dropped Gary off at one end of El Tank pasture and he gathered them and drove them to the other end to a set of pens. I drove to the pens and helped him sort the mare and her baby off.

We also cut out two other mares that were lame and needed some hoof care. I couldn't really take pictures because DH needed my help. Not that I'm much help, but I haltered the mares and held them while DH worked on their feet.

This isn't our mare. We brought in a second stud and in exchange for using this stud, the owner of the stud wanted to run a few of his mares with ours.We then left the mare and her baby in one pen and hoped they would mother up. I mean who could resist such a darling baby?

The next morning we loaded up some hay and went back to check on them, but the colt had not sucked so we haltered her and steered the baby to her. She kicked and tried to bite but we were able to let the poor little thing nurse. She wanted nothing to do with that precious little baby, but it was imperative that the little darling get that nutrient rich colostrum.

After I helped (all I really did was halter and hold them) Gary trim the other mares' feet and pull a couple of thorns, we loaded the mare and her baby up in the trailer and brought them to the house.

Looked like DD and I had a new summer project.

We have to halter the Mama every 3-4 hours and let that little colt nurse. Our night schedule is 10 - 2 - and 6. Last night wasn't too bad, but I imagine we will be dragging before long. DH just went into town for some parts and some milk replacer. We'll have to supplement with some extra bottle feedings. We've raised plenty of baby calves via the bottle but never a colt. She is so incredibly precious and Caitlin and I are already attached to her.
Looks like she did mother up...

to DD!

Not exactly what we had in mind!
Come on Mama...

In all the years we've raised horses, we've never seen a mare not accept her baby. We think it may have been possible that the other mare stole this filly away and fought off the Mama. Either way, poor little thing needs her Mama.

Update: Looks like we have been relieved of our duty! We haltered the mare and tied her to the fence. DH gave her a shot of Romphin to sedate her. Then we let that little baby nurse at her leisure. We sat and watched for a long time and soon that little fuzzy tail began to sway back and forth in pure delight. Mama just stood there looking dopey.

Then we began to celebrate. The Romphin wore off and Mama was nuzzling her baby! She nickered when we directed the baby away and it looked as if we had been fired. Now the two of them have bonded and we are once more enjoying a full night's sleep.

We're still supplementing the filly 3 times a day with Foal-Lac. We tried to get her to suck on a bottle, but she didn't want any part of that so she simply drinks from a bucket.

I wouldn't have complained if we had had to continue our nightly escapade to the barn, but this is the way it should be so we're really breathing a sigh of relief and a prayer of thanks.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Arterial Fibru... What?!

For days, blog posts have been percolating in my somewhat jumbled head and I had good intentions of writing on Wednesday. I jumped in the truck with DH after dinner, camera in hand and headed out to check a few storage tanks and a well house. The well house wasn't pumping and we didn't have an extra box at the shop so we made a quick trip into town.

When DH came in for dinner a few hours earlier he had me lay my head on his chest and I didn't like what I heard. His heart was jumping all over the place, not racing, but very irregular. I asked him how long that had been going on and he replied, "Since last night".

I gave him the look.

You know, the look that says, "and I'm just NOW hearing about it?!"

I immediately placed a call to the doctor, but they could not see him until the next day. With all my being, I tried not to panic and went to the Lord in prayer. DH was not having any chest pains or any other discomfort, nor has he ever had any other problems. This guy is as healthy as they come. In 21 years, he has been to the doctor 3 times. Still, something was not right.

So anyway, we picked up the electrical box we needed and headed out of town. I beseeched DH to please go to the emergency room since we were already in town. He hesitated, but gave in.

I have always been one of those people who have a very firm belief about emergency rooms. They are there for just that - emergencies. They are not there because your child has a runny nose or your husband has a slight cold or you've had a stomach ache for 30 minutes. Then you claim you can't pay the bill so I end up paying it. OK, stepping off my soapbox now.

4:00 finds us in an ER room with DH hooked up to an EKG monitor. It's definitely abnormal. DH is in high spirits considering he has an aversion to waiting...for anything. We did a lot of waiting and more was on the horizon. He answered hundreds of questions, one of them being, "Who's your family doctor". His reply, "No gotti". The nurse looks at him with a perplexed expression, "Is he in Roswell? I've never heard of him." I cracked up. He elaborated and she turned red and laughed.

So arrangements were made to admit DH. We were a bit surprised, but we preferred that option to the next piece of information we received.

Then the doctor stepped back into the room and said that they were now making arrangements to fly DH to Lubbock by helicopter. HUH?! I think my heart started jumping around then. Apparently the state had yet to give the hospital (fairly new) the approval to treat matters of the heart. Now, don't get me wrong, if he really needed to be flown to Lubbock, we wouldn't have batted an eyelash, but everything they were telling us just didn't point in that direction. They were afraid that he would form a blood clot and that it would break lose and cause a stroke. Not good news. While they were making arrangements, the ER doctor called the cardiologist in Lubbock and he gave the ok to give DH a shot of blood thinner and let us drive to Lubbock.

DH laughed when we asked about the blood thinner and learned it was Heparin. He told the nurse, "Isn't that what they use to kill rats?" She was horrified; either because she wasn't aware of that piece of information or she was surprised that he knew it. He just chuckled at her. He said that the hardest part of all of this was that he didn't feel badly and he felt silly being in the ER.

It was after 6:30 when he was finally released with strict instructions to drive directly to the Heart Hospital in Lubbock. Good thing the house was on the way. We kind of rushed home and I started throwing things into a suitcase, all the while trying to reassure the kids and give them instructions at the same time. All they knew was that we had gone into town for a part and the next thing they knew, we were driving to Lubbock to see a specialist. Thankfully, we didn't have to worry about leaving them. They're 14 and 17 and jumped right in, tending to things that needed to be taken care of. DH's dad helps us part time and he was still here as well.

It was a long drive to Lubbock and almost 11 when we arrived at the hospital. The upside was that there was no waiting. There wasn't a soul around and the attending nurse whisked us right into a room and began hooking DH up to yet another EKG machine. They took x-rays and blood and he answered another 100 questions. This time the EKG was normal.

About an hour before we reached our destination, he said that he felt everything fall back into a normal rhythm. Good thing we had the original EKG or they might have thought we were pulling their leg. The doctor looked at all the lab and test results and changed his mind about admitting DH. He said that we could go to the hotel next door and see the cardiologist the next morning.

All we wanted at that point and time was to sleep. Alas, the hotel only had one room and it was a 2-room suite. Nope, we weren't paying and arm and a leg for 7 hours, so we drove to another hotel and crashed. By that time it was 1:30 in the morning. 2:30 Texas time. Both of us were tired so sleeping wasn't a problem and we were back to waiting to see the cardiologist the next morning. Another 2 hour wait, but what can you do. During the entire ordeal we actually felt quite at peace. I knew the Lord was in control and that I had better not get in His way.

We really liked the cardiologist, Dr.Brogan. He was very approachable and down to earth. He explained everything perfectly and welcomed our questions. The bottom line was that DH had experienced what is known as Atrial Fibrillation. The heart wasn't firing correctly and thus, it could not empty the blood from the atrium efficiently. The danger appears when that blood sits static and the possibility of blood clots comes into play. They look at about 3 days for that to happen. DH's heart jumped back into it's normal mode after 24 hours. The thing is, 99% of the time they don't know what causes it and this is one of those times. Dr. Brogan said that it's not really uncommon, but the majority of the people are unaware of it. DH did help the neighbor the day before and they sprayed their cattle with an insecticide. DH said he didn't get any on him, but the fumes were in the air. The doctor wasn't entirely sure that's what caused it, but it's possible. If it happens again, DH has instructions to call Dr. Brogan and make arrangements for further tests.

All I know is that I am thankful all is well. That kind of excitement we can do without and I want to have DH around for a very long time. I learned a couple of important lessons during those 24 hours as well.

One is that I don't ever want to take anything for granted. I think I'm generally pretty good about not doing that, but this experience put things back into perspective more clearly. It's not worth fussing over the little things. I'm not much of a fusser, but I've probably done my share. Thinking about how the Lord brought DH and I together has always made me teary eyed and ever thankful, but it's definitely more magnified now.

Second, I am going to beg you to seek a relationship with Lord. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING on this earth that can even begin to touch what He has in store for you. I was completely aware of His hand through this and the sense of peace that surrounded us was comforting. He longs to draw us closer. He loves you more than you love your husband and even your children. I want that for all of you. He wants that for all of you.
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