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Archive for November, 2012

We attempt to lead a normal life…  Honest, we do!

Yet ‘Weird’ seems to follow us around like a dog on a leash.

Take last Saturday for example:

The day started early.  We were up and on the road by 6:30 am, long before the sun had made its first appearance over the horizon.  This was a quick and unplanned trip to meet up with our son and daughter-in-law at Pierre, SD.  The last time they visited us at the ranch they had borrowed our large flat-bed trailer to haul an old pickup across the state to Watertown where they now live.   Dalton has been working on restoring the seventy-something Ford for several years now but he wasn’t sure she would make it the whole way on her own power.  So they were thrilled to use the trailer even though it is a heavy old beast – weighting over 2 tons all by itself. 

Dalton and Dani both grew up in households where if you borrow something from your neighbor (or family) you always bring it back better than when  you took it.  We also live by the principle that if someone brings you a covered-dish or plate of cookies, you never return the dish empty – you always fill it before you return it so it makes perfect sense that if you borrow a big, old flat-bed trailer you must fill it before you return it.

Right?

Well, they did.

They knew we have been looking for hay so when Dalton called Thursday night and said they would be headed our way with the trailer filled with hay we were excited.  Since it was going to be a very quick trip we offered to meet them half-way at the SD State Capital city of Pierre. 

Like I said – Saturday started early.  We loaded Steve in the pickup and pulled out of the yard at 6:30 am – sharp.  We stopped at the end of the driveway to mail a letter, drove thru Hell Canyon to Custer where we stopped at the bank then on to Rapid City where we stopped for breakfast at McDonald’s.  A half hour later we pulled on to the interstate and sped (Yes – I was driving and yes I have a heavy foot) to Wall, SD – the home of the world-famous Wall Drug. 

I have to stop and ask… 

“Have you dug Wall Drug?” 

If you’ve been there – you will understand.

We stopped in Wall long enough to fill up the tank and pee the dog then we were back on the road to Pierre.  That’s where we met Dalton and Dani with this:

Sweet!  They can borrow the trailer anytime they want!

Nothing ‘weird’ so far – right?

Well, actually the ‘weird’ started about 5 minutes before they pulled in to the parking lot where we were supposed to meet. 

Hubby and I arrived first at the local Perkins and since Hubby has a bladder the size of a peanut he went in to use the restroom while Steve and  I waited for the kids.  As he returned to the pickup he was the first to notice something weird…

“There’s a chicken in the parking lot.”  He stated as he climbed into the pickup.

“What do you mean there’s a chicken in the parking lot?”  I asked.   “We’re in the middle of town.”

He pointed under the truck.

“There’s a chicken in the parking lot.”

I got out to look.

He was right.  There was a chicken in the parking lot…  

A white rooster who was missing some feathers…

A white rooster,who was missing some feathers and looked strangely familiar!!!

A scowl furrowed my delicate brow.

 

Flash back to an earlier post:

”  Levi (the dog) and Franklin (the rooster who lives on the porch) supervised the whole operation so you know it was done right.  Franklin is very picky when it comes to the details.  They were very impressed by my carpentry skills.  Can you tell? “

 

Present day:

It was Franklin – just a little worse for wear.

Franklin lived on our porch for a while last spring.  By summer, we had moved him along with the other chickens to the other chicken house but he had never really gotten along with the other roosters so he had moved (escaped) out of the coop and took up residence on the road grader.  Which turned out to be his saving grace. 

It has been a bad summer for chickens at the ranch.  When Hubby started to notice that the fowl numbers were dwindling, he set out catch-em-alive traps and soon racked up the impressive tally of 11 skunks, 3 raccoons and 1 mean old badger.  Unfortunately, by the time he had thinned out the predators a bit we were down to 1 hen, 3 roosters and Thomas the turkey who is so old and tough that not even the skunks would touch him. 

A couple of weeks ago we moved what was left of our little flock back to the chicken coop by our house to keep a closer eye on them.  And once again Franklin, our ‘Lone Free-Range Rooster’ had decided he didn’t like the chicken pen full of roosters so he escaped out into  our yard and had been roosting at night amongst the vehicles. 

It appears that Friday night he chose the Chevy pickup for his roost not knowing it would be pulling out before daylight.

Hence Franklin’s trip to Pierre.

We’re not sure if he was roosting under the pickup in one of the wheel wells or under the hood next to the engine.  Hubby thinks he might have been sleeping in the bed of the pickup – which would explain the big smile I got from a passing truck driver.   What a let down – I thought he was flurting with me.

Where ever Franklin was, by the time we saw him he had ridden for 5 hours and a grand total of 250 miles before abandoning ship.

It only took a moment to catch him.  He had gotten quite tame when he lived on the porch and frankly, I think he was afraid to leave the safety of the pickup.  We rigged up a set of chicken hobbles from a piece of baling twine we found in the pickup then set him in the back – covered up with a nice warm blanket while we ate lunch.  The waitress even went out to check on him while we ate.  She thought it was hilarious!

Franklin was cold and shivering (and probably in a state of shock) after flying down the highway for the last 5 hours.  It’s amazing that he stayed put and didn’t hit the pavement at 80 mph.  If he had I’m sure there wouldn’t have been anything left but a few feathers blowing in the wind and we would have forever wondered what had happened to that crazy old bird.

Of course I had to post pictures on Facebook and we laughed all they way home about the funny comments everyone made. 

Besides the photo shown above there was this photo.

“Can I ride home inside the pickup?”

And then I posted this one of Franklin and Steve in the back seat.

My sister says:

“Puppy smells chicken.”

Franklin says:

“Beef.  It’s whats for dinner.”

Can life get any weirder?

Franklin never made a peep all the way home.  He travels very well considering this was probably the first trip he’d ever been on.  I suppose life on the ranch can get a little boring at times – especially if you’re a chicken – so maybe this was a nice change to his normal routine.  We did find out that he loves Sun Chips and he really did appreciate a little drink of water.  Maybe it’s not to bad to be hobbled as long as someone is waiting on you. 

I suppose there is the possibility that Franklin has now discovered that he enjoys traveling and he will be watching for another opportunity to stow away on the next trip.  It’s a thought.  It’s pretty easy to spoil a chicken.  Maybe I’ll have to get one of those mirrors with the long handles that the secret service agents use to check for bombs under vehicles – just so I can check for Franklin before I pull out of the yard.  I would sure hate to get caught transporting chickens across state lines even if it wasn’t my idea.  I bet you have to have a permit for that kind of thing and there’s probably all kinds of fines and jail time if you get caught without it. 

I’ll have to check into that.

On another note, I have personally declared November 3rd as National Take Your Rooster for a Ride Day.  There seems to be days for everything else so why not this?  I considered bringing it before Congress for an official declaration but we all know Congress can’t agreed on anything so I’m sure it would only add to the stack of worthy bills they need to be working on.  

But as Forest Gump would say, 

“That’s all I have to say about that.”

With that I will leave you with one parting thought by Steve the Wonder Dog.

 

“I like Chickens.  They taste like…      chicken.”

 

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Would you look at that?

I got busy with ranch life and totally ignored my blog for a month but when I finally checked in the first thing I noticed was that it has topped over 10,000 views.  Is that exciting or what?  I guess I better get busy and write some more stuff!

We have been busier than heck back here at the ranch so I’m dragging butt.  We have gathered cattle, sorted cattle, worked cattle, doctored cattle, preg checked cows, weaned calves, shipped yearlings and calves ( 2 very full trucks of them) and finally sold cattle. 

Life has pretty much revolved around cattle for the last two months and I have literally been ‘candy coated’ with manure for a very large share of that time.  Hubby has had something scheduled for every weekend and evening for so long I wasn’t sure which way I was going.  But the yearlings and the calves have been sold now so it’s a relief to be down to just the bred cows and the bulls for the winter. 

Even though there wasn’t much rain and we barely saw a green blade of grass all summer the yearlings and calves did very well.  We were lucky that there was grass left over from last summer that they were able to graze.  And even luckier that we didn’t lose any of it to the many fires that were going all summer long.  We figured our yearlings gained an average of 1.9 lbs. every day.  They looked pretty fat and sassy when we gathered them up for the trip home. 

I have to admit most of the yearlings we get are the wildest and dumbest critters you could ever meet up with but this batch was great.  They may have spoiled us but I’m betting next years herd will bring us bouncing back to reality in short time.

With no new growth this summer the pastures are looking pretty bare.  Normally, we would graze till the snow piles up but this year we will probably have to start feeding before that happens.

Everybody I talk to is praying for snow.  After a long summer full of drought and fires it’s been nice to see the ground white a couple of times already and we’ve even had to scrape a little mud off your boots once or twice.  I like mud.

After gathering this fall we are still short one bull off of the Forest Service permit.  Hubby has spent quite a few days on the mountain looking for him and has had no luck so far even though some of the hunters we’ve talked to have seen one.  He’s either a very elusive little bugger and has moved in with another herd or els he has died somewhere back in the woods.  In that case we might never find him.

It has been another wild summer so I’m thankful for a little break.  I did manage to squeeze in a couple of community education classes in my free time.  All of them were in Rapid City this year so I ended up driving like hell after work to get there in time and then getting home around midnight.  It made for some long days but the classes were great and well worth it.  I usually try to sign up for a few every year just to try out something I’ve never done before and this year was no exception – beekeeping,  scuba diving and pistols.  I’ll have to tell you about that weird combination next time.

And one final thought for today – My prayers go out to the crew and families of the HMS Bounty which sank off the coast of North Caroline early Monday morning.  I got to tour this beautiful old ship last March when it was in port at Old San Juan Puerto Rico.  She was built in the 60’s for the movie ‘Mutiany on the Bounty’ starring Marlin Brando.  They followed the plans of the original Bounty when they built her but she was enlarged by 1/3 scale to accommodate the large movie cameras used at the time.  Originally, they planned to blow her up for the final scene of the movie but it seems Mr. Brando fell in love with the ship and threatened to walk off the set unless they changed their plans.  So they blew up a model instead and the ship was saved.  Over the years it has gone from used to neglected to restored to sold and then used for movies again and was currently up for sale for 4.6 million.  For the last few years she had traveled to various events and even was used as a summer camp for kids on occasion.  If I had got to go to summer camp like that I would never have come home!

 

After I saw her she was scheduled to leave port to work her way along the east coast and arrive in time for several events all along the coast before turning back mid summer so she would arrive back to Puerto Rico where she would remain through the winter.  It sounded like a wonderful way to spend the summer.  When I jokingly asked about any job openings they might have the young man giving me the tour was pretty quick to inform me that they were looking for a new cook as the last one had just gotten a job on another ship.  He appeared almost desperate enough to eat my cooking and even told me how to get an application.  I made sure to mention my new job opportunity to Hubby when I talked to him on the phone.  He wasn’t exactly thrilled by it but it was very tempting to me.  I have always been facinated by the tall ships.

The last report I’ve heard was that 14 of the 16 crew members were safely rescued shortly after she sank.  Unfortunately one crew member was found dead and they are still searching for the last member of the crew – the captain.  Since they were all well prepared for emergencies and the waters average 70 to 80 degrees there is still hope that he will be found alive.  I hope so.

She was a beautiful ship and I am glad I got a chance to see her.

 

 

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