Author Archives: Than

Out with the Crib

When ReeRee was born we bought a crib that converted into a toddler bed.  I would highly recommend the crib/bed, as it stayed part of the furniture for over 4 years.

Since our friends, Cindy & Dave, are moving, we bought their daybed and sofa.  After loading the old furniture and loading the new furniture, Newt and I decided that we would never, ever buy another sofa or bed again.

As we bolted the new daybed back together, I told ReeRee she would have to love her new bed forever.  Or at least until she was married and moved out.

“OK, MawMom.  I will love my bed for 4 more years until I’m married.”

Not quite the answer I was expecting.

Cindy and Dave- you wondered how ReeRee liked her new bed?  I asked her that exact question- her answer was again not what I expected.  “Mom- I don’t like my new bed…

New bed



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Once upon a time, I had a wonderful diabetes educator.  She helped me gain tight control of my bloodsugars, she helped me balance the hormones and insulin during pregnancy with ReeRee.  Then she moved to the mountains- and I was crushed.

Now Marcey is doing distance clinics and I have her back.  Yippee!

As Marcey works her magic on my basal rates and boluses, she also asks about what I’ve been recording on my sheets.

“You seem to be dropping after ‘chores’.  What are chores?” she asked last appointment.

Well Marcey- here’s a better description of chores.

First, you load the pellets from the bin.  The electric auger effortlessly moves the pellets from the huge bin and into the buckets.

Bin of pelletsThen you give them a “squeeze” to put a little love in your breakfast.  Or that is what ReeRee does…

Load pellet bucketsNext, load the buckets into the Mule.

This group of bulls gets 6 buckets of pellets.  The pellets provide protein and energy.  The hay provides food for the rumen microbes, that in turn break down the cellulose into energy for the animal.  Over 500 trillion (yes, that many zero’s) live in the rumen of one animal.  Amazing!

The crew will meet you at the gate.

Yearling Bulls ready to eatWhich makes getting through the gate without the crew getting out more interesting…

The horses are out in the pasture, so we run them through the calving lot to bring them in.  The horses outrank the cows, so the horses like to remind the cows who are boss.  Then I remind the horses who are boss (yeah- me!) and they trail into the corral to eat from the bunks.  One bucket for 2 bunks for 10 horses.

Horse eating from the bunkGrullo, the ancient retired gelding, babysits the two colts.  Grullo is giving me the evil eye.  They have a bale of alfalfa now, so they are missing the pellets.

Grull miffed- no feed todayI have to lock them out to feed the “up” heifers.  These two heifers had trouble calving and slightly paralyzed their back end.  They’ve went through a slow recovery.  We bring them hay, water, and 1/2 a bucket of pellets.

The last bucket is “fat food” for the steers we are feeding out.  No fancy auger here- you bucket by hand.

Fat steersSomeday I want to come back as a fat steer.  Lots of naps, unlimited access to high fat, high sugar, highly delicious rations.

Fat FoodThe fat food is mainly corn and pellets to add roughage.  If we lived closer to an ethanol plant, we would feed distiller grains.  Distiller grains have had the starch removed from the corn- “God’s gift to cattle” is what one of my friends calls it.

If Newt is lucky enough, my floors are swept and mopped (it takes me at least a couple hours to clean).  Then ReeRee and I can go feed the mares and bulls.  The bulls are locked away from the herd, so no babies are born too early.

Drive Spike Drive!We take the mule and buckets of cake (a larger pellet made from distiller grains).  Spike is too little to jump off the seat himself, so he (im)patiently waits for us to check the water.  The tanks were full of water and snails!

Buckets of cakeI hold one bucket out the side of the mule at a time and slowly drive and dribble the cake on the ground.  The bulls and mares also have a pecking order, so I try to spread it out so everyone gets their share.

Mares bull eat cakeFinally, chores are done.  Now back to clean bathrooms, wash the laundry, and make dinner (lunch-dinner, not dinner-supper).  Oh boy- I would rather do Mule chores.

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Meet Spike

First we lost Hairy- ReeRee’s black kitten.

Then Rowdy- ReeRee’s black puppy.

Then Torpedo killed 5 of Hissy Kitty’s brand new kittens.

Fingers crossed Spike, the new addition to the ranch, lives for many moons.

Meet SpikeSpike will be a fierce, ankle biting cowdog someday.  But right now, he is ReeRee’s buddy and friend.

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Where I live…

There isn’t much here.

20 miles to the highway.

75 miles to fast food.

75 miles to a hospital or pharmacy or doctor (a little nerve wracking for a diabetic).

250 miles to a Target, or Home Depot.

13 hours from my “new” diabetes educator…

GrasslandsBut what is here is a fragile, diverse balance of grasses, bugs, birds, deer, and cattle to graze.

What is here is beautiful.

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Three Decades

cakeYes, this is a cake.  (This is a picture of a cake.)  No- I did not get to devour the entire thing.

Some would call this a “major milestone”, but I consider it a pain in the pancreas.

At the beginning of January, I “celebrated” a 30 year anniversary with Type 1 diabetes.

I use “celebrate” loosely, as I neither enjoyed nor appreciated three decades of needles, injections, blood tests, blood draws, tongue bites from low bloodsugars, arthritis/frozen shoulders, low stomach emptying that causes havoc with my bloodsugars, the frantic reaction of my parents to a hypoglycemic reaction, or the slim chance of overwhelming guilt I will feel when ReeRee is diagnosed with the disease from my genetics.

Good people embrace their weakness and proclaim to the world the wonder they have learned from the trials and how they would never change a thing.

I would trade for a healthy pancreas.

I would trade for a normal, guilt free childhood.  One that doesn’t matured me at age 5.  Living with death around the corner for that long takes a toll on your soul.

I would trade for the millions of dollars I have spent on the countless strips, needles, infusion sets, and kind but uneducated doctor visits.  I wish my parents didn’t have to endure the financial hardship raising two diabetic children in the worst ag economic recession.

I would trade for a life speckled with freedom to change plans (before planning the next basal due to the change), freedom to exercise without the belly dragging lows (a marathon almost sounds fun), and freedom to work at a job that doesn’t have health insurance.

I would trade for a future not painted full of fear by doctors- blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, nerve damage… I’m so looking forward to the next 30 years- oh wait, the doctors say the average life expectancy of a diabetic is age 55.  (More than likely, I’ll be dead to celebrate 60 years with diabetes.)

I would trade for a sense of self-worth not based on the number on the meter’s screen.  A good person has perfect control, right?

I would even trade diabetes for cancer.  Too much?  Consider this- I will NEVER defeat the disease called “diabetes”, but many people live and conquer cancer.  I would like to imagine a life “cured” and live diabetes-free.

So here’s to you, Diabetes, and 30 years.  I still hate you.

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What a Bad Day Looks Like

If you have ever remodeled, you know there are bad days and really bad days.

Never been through a remodel… well let me help you with a visual.

What a bad day looks likeThis is the middle of the bad day.

The first part of the bad day was finding water gushing from the bottom of my house AFTER the plumbers had put in new water lines.  Because you know, the old pipes leaked and I didn’t want to deal with leaky pipes.

I had gotten home after midnight the night before and taken vacation to get some texturing done before our busy season started.  Little sleep, no time to buy groceries thus no food to pack for a decent lunch or snack or nibble.

So I was tired and crabby and hungry and in a hurry.  Finally, I finished texturing a room and went to clean up.  My friend Dave showed me how to climb on the bucket and lid and it would pop the lid shut.

I wondered to myself if Dave had ever fell off.  I was pretty sure I would fall off, but so far I stayed on top.

Until today, when the lid collapsed into the bucket of drywalling mud.  We are now at the middle of the bad day.

My right tennis shoe sunk to the bottom- mud oozed up my pant leg. With a loud, rushing OOOSSSHH, I pulled my shoe from the goop.  I didn’t realize the white blob, except for the two laces sticking out.

I thought of leaving my shoe as is, but that mud turns to cement.  So I rinse out my shoe and sock, put on my insulated winter boots (yes- it was 95 degrees that day) and finished up at the house.

Are we done with my bad day?  No, the end is coming.

ReeRee and I went up to the arena to watch Newt and his 13 year old nephew, Sparky, team rope.  Since I was sweating in my insulated boots and cold sloppy joe meat wasn’t tasting so good, I convinced ReeRee to leave the “rodeo” and go home.

There was one roping steer that jumped THROUGH the fence several times.  He was jumping through gate #2 as Sparky chased him to the corner.

Sparky got off to open the wire gate and drug it behind him.  Roddy, our beautiful buckskin horse, followed behind and stepped into the wire dragging behind Sparky.

I jumped from my car and ran down the hill.  We were going to sell Roddy next year- he was my ticket to paying our taxes and maybe a new refrigerator, now pulling back the gate tight with his leg still tangled up.

Then I noticed Sparky was nowhere to be seen.  He had been hit by the horse or the gate post and laid in a pile with his t-shirt pulled over his head.  He wasn’t moving- at all.

Roddy, by this time, had pulled the gate all the way over to the fence, where he fell into the wires.  Fearful the horse would freak out again and trample Sparky, I tried to move him.

As soon as I touched him, Sparky woke up.  We managed to get out of the way on the other side of the fence.  He had some pokes in his arm from the barbs, and a scratch on his eye where he got hit, but nothing else.

Newt untangled Roddy in the meantime.  Roddy had two pokes on either side of his hoof, but nothing else.

That bad day could have ended a lot worse!

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So fast

ReeRee is growing up too fast.  I look at her baby pictures and tear up.

Three and freeShe looks so big in this picture, but someday I will look back and think what a little thing she was.

Time is going by too fast.

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Plant of the Week- Common Evening Primrose

The cool and wet spring and summer have been good for the “Common Evening Primrose”.  (I used to hate writing this long name on our high school range judging score cards- there just wasn’t enough room on the little space for the name.)

Common evening primroseThe road ditches are full of the bright yellow flowers.  The color is bright and clean and refreshing against the dark green grass leaves.  However, I would never want to paint my walls this color.

Also known as the “Fourcorner Evening Primrose” because of the four yellow petals.

This plant is a biennial, meaning the plant only lives for two years. Most biennials flower the second year.

The flowers will turn into green bananas, full of seeds.  I’ve also heard this referred to as the “Banana Plant”.

Did the primose do well at your place?

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Work on the house has been dragging on.  Mostly because my army of one is wearing down.

Newt took ReeRee for a couple days, so I could try to finish… something!  I like checking things off my list and so far I have an entire list of partially done projects.

To try to kill the boredom of mudding beads around the windows and doors, I brought my new Johnny Cash CD to the “new” house.

At first, I listened to all the songs.  Then I mixed it up with random selection.  Then I realized I how long I was mudding and how little I was getting done when the songs started over.

So I kept “Hurt” playing.  Over and over and over.  For a whole afternoon.  Time flies when you can’t tell how many hours you’ve been mudding trimwork.

I have a talent of listening to a song a million times and not remembering how it goes.  Then I wondered what the song is about-did Johnny beat his battle with cancer?  Or did his wife die?

I listened to the song so many times, I started guessing myself on the words.

So I looked up the lyrics and you will see, I was wrong about most of the song.

(originally by Nine Inch Nails-WHAT? 9 ” Nails, Johnny didn’t write the song!)

I hurt myself today (I shot myself in the hand with a staple gun, but that was last weekend)
To see if I still feel
I focus on the pain (Yep, I must have hit a nerve with the staple.  The hand is a little tingly.)
The only thing that’s real
The needle tears a hole (ouch)
The old familiar sting  (I hear ya, Johnny.  Had a few injections in my life…)
Try to kill it all away
But I remember everything (The feel-good drugs haven’t kicked in yet)

What have I become
My sweetest friend (I thought it was “Swedish” friend for a while)
Everyone I know goes away
In the end
And you could have it all
My empire of dirt (Estate planning anyone?)
I will let you down (Sounds like Estate Planning or lack of)
I will make you hurt (Like the staple gun hurt?)

I wear this crown of thorns
Upon my liar’s chair (I thought it was “wired” chair.  Again, I thought the song was about Johnny’s battle with cancer.  Nine Inch Nails ruined that thought.)
Full of broken thoughts
I cannot repair (But a good mudder can fix about any broken drywall hole.  Broken thoughts-no.)
Beneath the stains of time  (Who wrote this song?  It is so descriptive!)
The feelings disappear (Old hurts- gone.  Old people seem to mellow with age.)
You are someone else
I am still right here (Coming from the guy who just asked who he was a chorus ago… Either he is mental or the drugs via the needle sting kicked in.)

[Chorus again]

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

The CD player refused to play the next day.  I killed it with “Hurt”.

Categories: Home Remodel | 1 Comment

Plant of the Week- Needleandthread

Let’s continue on our journey of Plant ID with another cool-season, bunch grass.

This grass is a favorite among youngsters, especially if you have siblings.

Needleandthread seedheadYes, I’m talking about “Needleandthread”.  Those seeds with the long awns and sharp tip turn brown and harden as the summer progresses.

Most ranch kids remember riding through the pasture, reaching off their saddle, grabbing and grabbing until you had a nice handful of needleandthread seeds, and then loping past your brother (or sister).  If you were good (and they weren’t paying attention), you could get a perfect bulleyes of hundreds of “needles” stuck in the back of their shirt.

Of course, your siblings will retaliate and get even with you.  They might even gang up on you.  Do you take blow after blow of needles?  This is why you ride the fastest horse…to run away.

For the more mature rancher, needleandthread is an excellent source of protein and energy early in the spring.  So how do you tell if you have needleandthread without the seedhead?

It grows in a bunch.

It heads out in the spring- usually May.

It has a ligule.  This is the best way to tell.

Needleandthread liguleSee that paper-like thing sticking up?  That is called a “ligule”.  When you pull down the leaf blade, the paper rabbit ears stick out.

Ligule = Needleandthread.  (Of course other plants have ligules, but not very many.)

So go forth, and commence impaling your siblings with nature’s darts!

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