Saturday, April 30, 2011

High Water Princess

Three days of rain storms and 70 degree days have caused massive snow melt off of the many mountains here and there is lots of flooding in my little valley.

Saturday mornings are my errand times and today I was trapped and detoured everywhere I tried to go.  I had a truck load of recyclables and drove 40 miles over mountains and backroads due to "scenic" detours and still never reached the recycle center.  I am surrounded on 3 sides by water AND 3 rivers.

Even Mavis was frustrated by the constant turning around on roads.

My neighbors farms and farmlands are flooded and there have been some evacuations.

By the time I gave up and tried to get home, my main road was flooded!

I eventually made a few more detours and made it up my road to the farm.

As I filled the water tub and counted heads, I noticed Gwen was missing.
Her udder was explosive last night at 5 pm in the rainstorm and I knew she would finally have her calf in a few hours.      So I went looking for the new member of the herd.

Gwen was not in any of her usual places, so I went over to the side of the hoop barn and this is what I found;

Gwen was babysitting the other calf and tending to her new one.

Just looking, I knew it was a big heifer.  She was dry, fed and napping in the sun.

Born before midnight.   High and dry on this sandy hill by the collapsed barn.

Away from the deep mud and water in the barnyard.

A beautiful, healthy 94 lb girl.

Right after I snapped this photo she got up and ran 20 mph down the hill and around the barn.   Easily outrunning me and my bucket of "license plates."

She will be Y-3 if I ever catch her.

She needs a "G" name.     Some kids came to visit the cows Sunday for Easter.  All 3 of these young children play baseball and are Red Sox fans.

They eagerly suggested I name Gwen's calf either Grounder or GrandSlam.

And yesterday was a very "Royal" day for a calf to be born in Vermont.

So, I would like to introduce to you

GrandSlam Kate

Our little Dutchess of TailGait.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Rain Retreat

During all this crazy weather we are having, there are actual signs of spring.

A small flock of purple finches showed up at the bird feeder yesterday.

I found this Colts Foot in the mud.

And the herd was basking in the 12 minutes of sun we had, in the sand behind the collapsed hoop barn.

Babes on the beach.

The "Boyz" are eating at the hay rack now.

They look like they are trying to eat spagetti.
They spit more hay out than they eat.  It gets wrapped around their tongues.

High winds, black skys, torrents of rain coming down in sheets and making small streams come down the roads... and still no calf from Gwen yet!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Tale of Tails

Sometimes I notice weird things.

This afternoon while I watched the herd and wondered when Gwen would have her calf, I noticed this:

Do you see anything a bit unusual?             Look carefully.

How about now?

Here is a closeup:

Cute, but weird.

The other calf, Rally, has a normal tail.... but a droopy tongue:

Anyone elses calves have a corkscrew tail?

Go out to your herds and take a peek and then take some photos.

I just gotta know.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


I just want to point out to you that ever since Red Sox Rally was born 4/14/11, the Red Sox have been winning their games.

Calves bring out the best in everybody.

Rally could be the charm that they need.

He can blow bubbles from milk too.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Barns & Brothers

Its Good Friday and the grill guy came.

My brother brought my mother to visit.  My brother brought lots of good food.

And he cooked it on the grill that he also brought in his itty bitty car.

My brother knows how to cook.    He is a grill master.    He enjoys grilling even when it is raining, sleeting and snowing, like it was today.

He made dozens of kabobs.

Scallops with mangos, squash and peppers.

Sirloin and tuna kabobs.

After we ate I took my little brother on an exclusive Muddy Barn Tour.

First step was chosing the right pair of boots:

Then we went down and checked on the herd.

Nice brother carried the bales of shavings out of my new farm truck and thru the mud to the calf shed.

He was wearing my jacket, my hat and my boots and the cows thought it was me until the last 20 feet when all of a sudden .........

they gave him "the look" and quickly got out of his way.

That is when I noticed this:
    Gwen has "blown her plug."   There is a calf on the way.   
Anyone want to guess date and gender of the new calf?
I have a cow book I will send to the correct guesser.
After we left the herd, I drove North towards rural backroads that I had not explored yet.
Mother Nature was giving us a good variety of weather challenges.
The new farm truck handled them all with ease.
First barn we saw was refitted to feed Holstein heifers.
These same heifers spent the summer in a field near me.
One of these Holstein heifers is Red!

5 miles later I spied these well camouflaged hoofed beasts.

There were about 50 of them in a hundred acre hillside area with 12 foot fencing.
When I drove up the road I saw this:
More places need to actually post these signs since the human population is so stupid when it comes to all animals, domestic and wild.
As we drove up a mountain and reached the top it was snowing and foggy too.
On the way down we found this long ago abandoned barn.
As the farming profession goes into oblivion, so do the farms, land and barns.
So go the genetically healthy diverse breeds of livestock and fowl.
Farmers live to feed us.      No farms, no food.
Importing our food is not the smart answer.
Up the next mountain was this enourmous barn.
With an interesting weathervane.
When the driving is a little less hazardous I am coming back to this place to see what kind of cattle they have.
Closer to home I found this barn.    Empty.   As it sits and patiently waits.
Waiting for someone to fix it up and keep it warm with healthy livestock.
This is what the side and roof look like on this once very efficient dairy barn.
We returned home and had more kabobs, fresh root veggies and salad with my own home grown lettuce.
I then gifted my brother with some rare heirloom seeds, plus some trumpet vine seeds my deceased dad left behind, for his garden at home.  My brother is going to do all large container gardening this year. 
I really can not wait to get planting in my garden.

Next thing I know, my brother is turning over parts of my still frozen garden.
He is a great Guy and it has been a really Good Friday here.
After he and my mom left I returned to the herd to check for any new calves.
Instead I found Red Sox Rally sleeping soundly.
He has those protective eyelashes that I hope all the new calves will be born with.
Here's wishing all of you a wonderful Easter from the herd at TailGait Farm.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Trader

Sad week here.

I had to say good bye to a devoted, trusted, beloved, hardworking friend.

We had been together many many years.

We were partners and we were a team.  Through thick and thin, good and bad and we survived some really really ugly nasty times.

We slept together many times as we watched over our herd and travelled our many miles together.     Hundreds of rescued animals were transported by us, together.   Hundreds.

I always felt secure when we did our adventures together.  I knew we would always make it home in one piece, safely.

However, lately that has not been the case.     Several times in the past few months I was left stranded on the side of the road.      So I knew things had to change.

As usual, I was in denial.          I thought I could fix the problems.

But having been in a very toxic relationship once before, I soon realized that all the fix'in was making me a poorer woman.

So yesterday I said good bye to the biggest, bluest love of my life.

With it went my 40 year old Agricultural plates, my cassette tape player, the blue cap, fog lights, and my worn out "office" tailgate.  Not too mention all that room in the front seat and in the back!!

It ripped my heart out when the Ag plates came off.

I was asked why I didn't trade my truck in during the "Cash for Clunkers" event 3 years ago.   
Well, 3 years ago we were still a hard working team and I couldn't break us up.         I am no traitor.

Seeing the end was near, I have been looking at all kinds of vehicles.
I got long legs so I need leg room.  I got cows and do all kinds of Ag stuff so I need space to carry stuff like shavings, salt, calves, chickens and large amounts of harvested veggies from my garden.  Mavis needs room in the front seat and room for her assorted stuffed animals that travel with her.
This is Vermont so I must have 4 wheel drive.

I always want and need a good truck.  I looked at trucks and they were wayyyyy beyond any realistic price for used.  I also hate the new Ford truck design.  I wanted a pre 2004 when they looked like my truck and had room and integrity (and a cassette player).
Unfortunately that Cash for Clunkers event crushed thousands of decent pre 2004 trucks!!
I even test drove Chevys.    Came close to buying a 2001 Chevy with a vortec engine but it just did not sound right.       I drove many many many older Jeep Libertys.   They were Ok.      Couldn't find any Saturn Vues.  A friend has one and her 4 dogs and Mavis all fit fine in it with the seats down, so I knew it would fit for what I do with cows, dogs and veggies.  None to be had up here.     No Vues in Vermont, at all.

And blue vehicles are difficult to find.  Everything is silver, black or red up here. 

Of course I shop for vehicles by color.

Always have, ever since kindergarten when my first love, Hartley Pleashaw, brought all his blue Tonka trucks in for play time and impacted my life forever.

All Nine of my vehicles have been Blue thanks to Hartley.  He does not know this.      All those "Hartley Blue" vehicles carried sheep, dogs, ducks, rabbits, geese, goats, hay, calves, saddles, grain and boyfriends.  All were standards.   I taught many of my parochial school girlfriends how to drive a standard through miles of cemetery roads and I had to replace the clutch twice in my blue Chevy Nova II because of those driving lessons.    After all that time learning and screaming and shifting those same women now drive automatics! 

Anyhow, I almost bought this vehicle:

I fit in it and Mavis did too.  It was great going up rural muddy roads, but the rear seats would not fold down flat to allow dog/chicken crates to be carried safely. And I realized I needed a bit more space in the rear cargo areas to carry all my gear for work and farm.

When ever I go test drive a particular vehicle at a car lot I always end up driving 2 or 3 others as well.    Unbelievable things happened on my test driving adventures.  One vehicle had no brakes at all and I only made it 40 yards and had to eject out of it.      I had a friend with me that day and every vehicle we drove had major issues.

I loved this Jeep but there was not even room for my purse in the back.

This is the kind of vehicle I really need and want, but the prices are so high on the older models that I can not afford one.    And they all seem to be in Connecticut.
But this is the perfect Janis vehicle in Hartley blue.

A friend showed me her "special" vehicle that is in her garage and I fell in love with it.     Indestructable, heavy and blue.

She bought it in 1973 for $600 dollars and only the seats needed reapolstering and she did them herself.    I might be going for a ride in this.

So realistically what kind of vehicle did I end up getting ?

I got one that the dealer was willing to sell.

Too many times I would make a good offer on a vehicle only to have a salesman want much much more.   WHY do carlots advertise "all offers and trade ins considered"  and then try to extract so much more money from you? Vehicles I made offers on in January are still sitting in their lots depreciating.   How dumb is that. 

The vehicle I got was not a vehicle I really wanted, but it will do the job I need it to do and at a price I thought was fair.  AND my truck brought me an excellant trade in value on top of it, bringing the price down below my budget.  With additional wrangling and threatning of bringing my cows to the car lot, they also agreed to pay tax and title.
Additionally, the salesman kept his word and bought me my very first CD to replace my worn out favorite cassette.  I played it as I zoomed down the highway in 5th gear:    

Already this "replacement" truck is doing the job.
Today it easily hauled a block of red mineral salt, 8 pounds of beef suet, a bale of shavings, 2 gallons of milk, a new pitchfork, plus Mavis and her toys, all my gear, miscellanious tools, graham crackers and boots all the way up the deep muddy road to the farm to water the cows and fix some fences.

But its still going to be an adjustment for me.     Break ups are hard.

But true love never fades.

I will never forget you Big Blue.   Never.