Farm Work and Fencing

UGH! That’s probably the simplest thing to put.

As many of you already know, I am still working on the farm attempting to put the past where it belongs. It isn’t easy to do that under highly stressful situations but I am really trying to just keep my mouth shut and move on.

We ended up hiring a fencing contractor to do the 90 acres of perimeter fencing. In a way, I’m thankful that we have because I am so overloaded with work everywhere right now that I am having issues thinking straight at times (I’ll discuss the repercussions of that in just a second). We found a contractor we could work with but that doesn’t mean that everything is going smoothly. We have had a few issues over some minor things but I am really learning what a hard ass bitch I can be  when people don’t do a job according to specs. I always thought I was a nice person, I am almost reconsidering that train of thought right now.

Add on top of all this the arguments with the business partner on the farm and I am about ready to snap. I am ashamed to admit that my patience has worn so thin with everything going on right now. We still haven’t managed to get the 60 acres of first cutting hay done due to rain, rain and more rain. Now the fencing is going in, minds are being changed three or four times on gate placements, my photography work load just doubled and I have an editor waiting for articles. This isn’t the only issues going on through. We have financial issues too and fairly big one’s that total about $50,000 dollars. I’m just overloaded. I have too much going on and not nearly enough time to think about so many things.

I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to work with a contractor that understands my overload and how much I am trying to do. He is being very patient and has listened to me bitch and complain about the indecisions. I’m not saying that we haven’t had words. Like when he told me that he could just pack up and leave to which I replied, “Feel free because I’m not dealing with another egotistical male right now. Either you follow the specs or leave. The choice is yours.” I hate being like that but when the government gives you specs on fencing and they aren’t going to pay if you don’t meet code, then sorry dude, don’t expect me to feel any sympathy when you screw up.

This is the area where the gate will be going up to the corner. This was after the old fencing was removed and the area was brush hogged.

This is the area where the gate will be going up to the corner. This was after the old fencing was removed and the area was brush hogged.

Midway point of fencing. Gate post set and line posts in. Wire comes next.

Midway point of fencing. Gate post set and line posts in. Wire comes next.

The first paddock, the top of which is shown in the images above, will have five strands of wire and maybe a gate or two in today. I plan on turning cattle out into the upper section of this paddock sometime this evening or first thing in the morning, depending on what time the wires are in place and how quickly I can relocated some temporary wire and the watering system.

I’ve had a couple of highlights and little breaks for an hour or so, here or there. I did a photoshoot last Friday of a little cutie pie I’ve been trying to find the time to take some photos of for a couple of months now.

Miss C is about a year old and loves everything nature and animal

Miss C is about a year old and loves everything nature and animal

This little one’s mother is getting married in a little over a week. I am so excited that I will get to take photos of the wedding of two of my most favorite people in the world. I love these two like they were my own flesh and blood. They mean more to me than I will ever be able to express.

I also took five or ten minutes to go get a couple shots of some flowers I have never seen and a dragonfly.

Dianthus deltoides  Caryophyllaceae Family  An excellent groundcover, front-of-the-border edging, or rock garden specimen, these mat-forming plants produce countless dainty blooms with fringed petals in shades of red, pink or white in spring and early summer. Prefers well-drained alkaline soil and full sun.

Dianthus deltoides
Caryophyllaceae Family
AKA Maiden Pink
An excellent groundcover, front-of-the-border edging, or rock garden specimen, these mat-forming plants produce countless dainty blooms with fringed petals in shades of red, pink or white in spring and early summer. Prefers well-drained alkaline soil and full sun.

 

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Common Whitetail Dragonfly

Oh yeah and I forgot to mention….ALL CALVES FOR 2013 ARE NOW BORN! No more late night pasture strolls checking on mothers, thank goodness.

The lone bull calf born

The lone bull calf born

The first heifer of 2013

The first heifer of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auburn, aka Aubrie, the last heifer calf of 2013

Auburn, aka Aubrie, the last heifer calf of 2013

My favorite first calf heifer with her spunky, adorable and obviously my favorite calf of 2013

My favorite first calf heifer with her spunky, adorable and obviously my favorite calf of 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup, as you can tell, I have been slightly busy. I keep telling myself that it will get easier. The fence is started. The calves are born. A few items have been checked off the list but there is still so much left to do. I can’t wait to take a break and snow flying in my opinion can’t happen fast enough! Colder weather means less work load for me. I look forward to those days now more than ever.

Did I also fail to mention that I don’t get paid for 90% of the work I do? Anything farm related gets me zero income due to the simple fact that everything is being built from the ground up….literally. Barn, fencing, cattle. All of it is all money invested so far. I can’t wait for the day when I can just go to the store, buy a pair of boots without having to save change. Since today is assessment day this week after having a little episode of overload yesterday, maybe it’s time to reconsider the work load. Maybe if I plan a little better and can somehow manage to come up with the funds to save the farm, I wouldn’t be so damn overwhelmed all the time. If anyone wants to make some interest and let us borrow some money for a year, let me know.

All kidding and complaining aside, life isn’t so bad. I have a beautiful area to relax. I have fairly good health and things are slowly progressing. I really shouldn’t complain because I have so much that others would love to have but it doesn’t come easy. It’s an uphill battle right now for me. I’m still taking it one step or more appropriate, stumble, at a time. It’s all I can do for the time being. I am almost to the top of the hill. Only a little more to go. I just need to keep fighting and keep pushing. No pain, no gain. No risk, no reward. So if I grumble and complain, remember that I am only doing so out of frustration. I live a lonely life out here in the stick, 20 miles from the nearest city, seeing more cattle faces than human interaction. Cattle don’t verbally talk back and normally don’t make me feel bad about my day but they also don’t give me the love and support I need to keep pushing through to attain my goals. I hope that you all realize that those likes or those comments are boosters for me. They pick me up, make me thankful that I have shared even a small part of my life. Sometimes we all just need that little pat on the back that says, hey thanks for all the hard work you do or a way of saying job well done.

For now, it’s back to editing images and figuring out what this rogue grass is on the farm, pointing fingers, moving temporary fence and writing up an article. I’m making myself tired just listing out the few things I need to do. I guess I better start moving before I get too tired and just go take a nap. Thank you all again for your support through all the transitions, heartbreak, heartache and tough times right now. It means more to this hermit than you can imagine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Therapy Animals and Photography

As you can read on the About Me page, I am a person who has suffered through a great deal in my life to date. I’m okay with everything that has happened, the medical diagnosis that turned my life upside down and even the tragedies that have occurred. I am not saying that it’s easy or that I am 100% dealing with the issues but I am saying that I have learned to cope.

In 2008, when I had two years of massive depression and then the diagnosis of Multiple sclerosis, a counselor decided it was time for me to access what meant the most to me in my life. Her suggestion was that I pick up a camera and start photographing everything that “spoke” to me. I started taking photos of nature and wildlife, animals and farms. My health care provider suggested that I start eating more raw foods, home-grown items so that I knew what went into the production of food goods and to find time to release stress.

All of this started a major transition in my life. I discovered my love of cattle. I discovered what I felt about the land, my natural environment and more of who I was on the inside. Working with the cattle is my true therapy. I learned that when I am around them, I breathe slower and I am more relaxed. I am not like Tigger on drugs, which is me at any other point during the day. I learned that calves never fail to bring a smile to my face. I learned the sense of accomplishment like I never have before after saving a calf from near death and then watching them give birth to their first calf.

I have learned that I can capture this passion through the lens of a camera too, not only for cattle but for tractors and diesel trucks, flowers and nature, wildlife and water. I’ve learned that I love the little things in life and have come to appreciate them that much more. It just seems that no matter how difficult my life is, there is always something so small that thrives through wind, rain and snow. If a tiny plant with the smallest of flowers can come back year after year during the harshest of elements that nature provides, then I guess I don’t have an excuse anymore to feel sorry for myself. Mother Nature has taught me that we all have our own storms to weather but, as long as our roots are strong, we can always regrow. During our regrowth, we may become something slightly different from what we were before but usually we are stronger on the other side.

I have lots that I could share about these feelings and emotions but I won’t bore you with the details. I will just remind you that no matter what, each trial we go through brings us closer to who we really are on the inside. I am a survivor, plain and simple.

So for now, I will keep working with my therapy cattle and grooming them to be friendly animals for others to use and learn from. I will continue to learn about what’s best for me and my environment. And, of course, I will continue to photograph everything along the way.

If you live in the area and just need some space…I will be more than happy to let you come laugh with me over calf-antics, share a spot on the banks of the pond at sunset, or allow you to stroll through the pastures capturing your own photos. My work here is meant to be shared.

Calf-Antics

Calf-Antics

Struggles and Survival

“I might not be ready to pour out my feelings to the world, but I’d had enough of trying to ignore them.” ― R.J. AndersonUltraviolet

Haven’t we all had that struggle that we kept locked inside our minds and our hearts? It may be over love or life. It could be over a job offer or a job dismissal. We worry about our kids. It seems that everything is always in a constant state of flux. Every situation causes emotions of anger, fear, sadness, happiness, shame, guilt, jealousy, envy, and more that I know I haven’t listed. How many times have you locked these feelings inside? I know myself there have been times I have locked them inside myself so tight, no one could ferret them out. Some of them are constant, like the worry for my kids. But others are short-lived, like anger. Sometimes you just need to “talk to the voices within” and listen to what they are saying.

You almost have to step outside yourself and look at you as if you were someone else you really care about and really want to protect. Would you let someone take advantage of that person? Would you let someone use that person you really care about? Or would you speak up for them? If it was someone else you care about, you’d say something. I know you would. Okay, now put yourself back in that body. That person is you. Stand up and tell ’em, “Enough!” ― Queen LatifahPut on Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments on the Path to Queendom

Are you standing ground for yourself or living what someone else says? I know, we all have a tendency to take the easy road and let someone else take control of our lives and our destiny. But in the long run, will it be what you really wanted? I’ve done it myself. Living the life that everyone else wanted for me, putting my own life on the back burner. I managed to put my dreams in someone elses hands that had no right to hold them because they didn’t know what was in my heart and soul. That kind of goes back to the first quote about ignoring your feelings. Feelings you hide inside yourself, no one else can express but you. On the other hand, opening up fully to someone else about your internal battles of mind and body and having them listened to is hard but when the right person listens its miraculous. 

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” ― Thomas Paine

Sometimes when we open ourselves to ALL the possibilities of the things we enjoy, amazing things start happening for us. It’s never easy to shut your mind down from saying the negative things like “I can’t do that” or “It’s too difficult”. We, as humans, tend to think we always need more of something. More education, more money, more time or more space when in reality, we are making excuses. Grab opportunity when it’s presented but stop selling yourself short when it comes to you talents and inner strengths. To get what you want and sometimes more, you have to live life with passion and actively pursue what YOU want. If you try and fail, try again and again until you get it right. The harder it is, the more determined you need to be!

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.” ― Bill Cosby

All of the above being said, through failures and success you need to learn to find humor and laughter in everything! It eases the pain of the struggles and works kind of like sun rays peaking around the corner of a storm could. Since I seem to connect everything with nature, you can compare it like this: The pain, hurt and failures are a rain falling from the sky. Humor is the sunshine just past the clouds bringing the rain. Laughter is the rainbow that just magically appears. Those rainbows are the beauty of everything combined. Without the rain they can’t happen. Without the sun there isn’t the light for them to appear. 

 

I struggle every day but I survive. I survive because I can find the beauty, the humor and I constantly laugh at the stupid things I do! There are days I literately roll with the “punches” when I battle with being clumsy due to my MS. I fall down and usually end up in a fit of laughter because it doesn’t seem possible one person could wind up on their backside so often. It happens. I’ve learned to take each moment as it comes. Are some of them annoying and do they make me mad? Sure do. BUT what’s the point in being mad about things I can’t change. What’s done is done! Might as well make fun of myself and laugh it away.

I hope that you find solace in the words. I hope that you find encouragement, determination and the will power to become the person inside…You know who! That one you tend to hide from everyone else. Dig that person out, let them shine with what makes you unique!!!! If you need words of encouragement, give me a shout. If you want to share you story, I would be glad to link it back…just let me know! Don’t let anyone tell you to go with the flow. Fight against the grain. BE YOU! Not what everyone else says, thinks or tells you to be!

The Tomboy Within

Growing up, I always used to joke that I was my father’s only son. From as early in my life as I can remember, my daddy used to take me hunting and fishing. We spent so much time together as I grew up, he became my best friend. I love my daddy very much. I don’t get to see him anymore due to circumstances and choices that are out of my control but I will never forget our time together and all the lessons he taught me. Being my father’s “tomboy”, I learned to not only hunt and fish but to work on cars, get greasy and spin wrenches. Since my dad drove race cars for years, I learned the ins and outs of mechanics and car set ups. I know how to change my own oil, brake pads and even to change tires. These are life lessons that have helped me out on more than one occasion. Parts departments hate to see me coming. Service stations have threatened to have me thrown out of building when they couldn’t admit fault, especially to a girl. It’s actually kind of comical after the fact…but during situations like that, it makes my blood boil. I’ve had people try to fit me into a box of a proper, well-behaved lady. That box doesn’t fit…AT ALL! I am my father’s only son. I swear like a trucker. I like to drink beer. I hang with the “boys” more than I do the ladies. I don’t sit through gossip over morning tea. I work just as hard, if not harder than a lot of men I know. I like to go throw a little mud from the tires on my truck. I like going fishing and hunting. I like shooting guns and bows for competitive sport (and have even gotten myself a couple of trophies for it too). I like four-wheeling. I like being a grease monkey and fixing things. I go at my own pace. I like wearing blue jeans, t-shirts and baseball caps. I would rather be sitting on the tailgate of a pickup in the middle of a field looking up at the stars or watching a bonfire than sitting in some fancy restaurant enjoying a chef prepared meal. I am a burger and french fries kind of girl.

The "real" me in my ball cap in the pasture with cattle.

The “real” me in my ball cap in the pasture with cattle.

On another note, I do “clean-up” rather well. The difference is so startling that even my own neighbors and family members hardly know it’s me. Until I talk that is. I have a rather unique voice with strains of accents I have no idea the origination of. I was bred and born in upstate NY but I have a southern accent on some words while others have a Canadian accent. I’ve had lots of people ask me where I’m from…even when I grew up the next town over. I’m not really a traveler either. I’ve been to South Carolina once. The eastern sea board once. Canada once. It’s just the strange mess of who I am. A mix of a little bit of everything. It makes me that much more unique. Fishing has been a relative constant in my life. An obsession that I have carried on my shoulders, lacking a few short years here and there, that has given me so much peace in my life. I remember fishing with my daddy when I was really little and him showing me how to bait my own hook. After I became a pro at catching fish, he taught me how to take the fish off the hook too. I think it was more for him than me because he wasn’t getting a chance to fish himself. But, needless to say, I can do it myself. Something a ton of women I know refuse to do. Over the years, I have been so obsessed with fishing that when I worked as an account representative for a printing company, I would take lunch breaks in my long skirt and all to go fly fishing for trout along the banks of creek. You should have seen the looks I would get as I wrapped the back of my skirt up between my legs to tuck the hem into my waistband and proceed to done my hip waders. Many years ago, I discovered something that combines two loves of my life…fishing and art. I learned how to tie flies! I even had a small business for a while making and selling flies for fishing. I even did classes for local youths to learn to tie their own flies and then I would teach them how to fly fish too. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I haven’t tied flies in years and I am hoping to find some time soon. I still have some old ones in my box that I broke out on this last Sunday. Still managed to land me a bunch of panfish with the old standby. Life is good when I hear the gear whip of a fly line. Life is even better fighting a panfish on a nearly 8 ft. fly rod. Here’s my favorite image from Sunday…a flashback stonefly nymph in the mouth of a hand-sized panfish caught along the bank of the farm pond. Oh yes. Life was very good.

One of my favorite things...fly fishing for panfish!

One of my favorite things…fly fishing for panfish!

I’ll leave you for now. I’ll update more soon. Until then, I want to leave you with one small thing. NEVER under estimate a female, woman or girl. You don’t know what kind of background they may have. 🙂

Exciting Week

Lots has been going on around the farm. I’ve been spending some time working on the stuff for my “life transition” but have also taken some time out with friends to do the things I love to do. On the 1st, it was opening morning of turkey season, and one of the people I enjoy spending time with on a regular basis came up to go hunting. I don’t hunt with a gun anymore…but I take my camera instead.

Chris got himself all set up in a blind in an area the two of us have been seeing three big tom turkeys every morning between 7 and 7:30 am. I worked on farm chores and did a little reading for a bit. He was texting messages back and forth. He was impatiently waiting for the turkeys to come in. Encouraging him to just sit tight was almost comical.

I decided to go for a little walk. Suddenly I heard a boom shortly followed by another boom. Not a minute later a text comes through. Where are you? Get up here with your camera! He’s beautiful.

I managed to make it to the top of the hill to where he was, finding a bunch of feathers on the ground about 50 yards from his blind and an empty blind. No bird. No Chris. He had carried the thing across 20 acres to his truck. Must be he didn’t want it to get away.

When he pulls up with his truck, he has the biggest smile on his face and is bouncing around like Tigger in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon. His smile and excitement was contagious. I couldn’t stop grinning as I listened to him recall the tail of a bird coming in from the wrong direction. Aiming and knocking the bird down and upon retrieval, it jumping up and trying to run away. I am sitting here with a dopy grin recalling how excited he was.

By the way, this was his first tom turkey and it was a beautiful bird. I remember how awesome that feels and what kind of adrenaline rush it is to get something like that. It’s a major sense of a job well done. I love that feeling but I think being able to just share it meant more to me than it would have if I had shot the bird myself.

My friend Chris with his first tom turkey

My friend Chris with his first tom turkey

I am so thankful that I got to be here and share the experience. It means more to me than words can describe. Being around Chris has shown me that there are so many things in life that I really enjoy doing and have let go of them to try to be something I’m not. I am a country girl who likes hunting with the “boys”, fishing, shooting, bow hunting, spending time in the woods, and I am an all around Outdoors Woman. I can’t change that. It’s stitched into the fiber of my being.

A word of advise to everyone: Don’t ever try to fit into a box someone else has built for you. It rarely fits and is suffocating. Break free, be yourself and someday the right one will come along and fully understand who YOU are, not what they want you to be. I am so fortunate to have awesome friends who are there for me and have supported me 110%, no matter what I have chosen to do or be. And friends like Chris, who know without saying, all the things that really make me the person I am and kick me in the butt when I try to be something different.

Sounds kind of strange doesn’t it? My 31 year old male friend kicking a 38 year old female’s ass into shape to be who she really is. Damn kids anyhow! All joking aside, he is special and it means so much that he has been my friend through one of the most difficult things in my life. For that, I will be forever grateful.

Now….time for me to do some fishing! Something I have done in three years! But time to get back to it…cause it’s just who I am!

You got it…that’s me from about 3 years ago! Bass fishing with a flyrod, earbuds in, rocking out the fishing experience!

 

Being Me

Part of what makes being me is my individuality when it comes to cattle. I love cows. It doesn’t matter what breed…although I do prefer those brown-eyed Bambi cows called Jerseys! I have a special connection with cattle. I can almost feel their pain when they are sick or injured. I just connect on a different level. Maybe it’s because I love them, like others love their dog. They are my passion.

As the saying goes on good old Lady Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” I will give them care, food and pastures to graze. Uh, isn’t that kind of funny…a New Yorker referring to Lady Liberty and comparing it to cattle. Only in New York 🙂

I think I crazily just picked a farm name for when I get started on my own. Crazy isn’t it? The odd things that come to us sometimes….

Cattle have actually been my saving grace, not the other way around. They have pulled me up from the depths of depression and overwhelming sadness that I was struggling with when I got my first little bull calf. He forced me to get out of bed every morning to care for him. He needed food and water. He got lots of attention and was a spoiled snot.

My first steer

I call him my segway animal. He is the one that got me started into this passion for cattle. Then along came Belle, aka Ma, as a rescue cow. I remember crying with her in the pasture as I watched her protecting her calf in the grass. Maybe it was the maternal instinct in both of us that caused such an intense connection. I’m honestly not sure but I know I made a promise to her to love her and care for her the way she cared for her own child.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

A peaceful bliss on her face. The look of an angel in contentment.

I watched her develop her motherly instincts and become the graceful “lady” I knew in my heart she was all along. She made me see exactly what I should do in life. Cattle in need are my real passion. Working with animals with a loving nature and attitude is the most rewarding job I have ever held. Belle is the perfect demonstration of that love and compassion.

Belle, the mother to many and the real reason she is nicknamed “Ma”

The passions have grown, the research into better methods have continued and I am a forever changed person because of the cattle. It is amazing to see the progress that has been made and how special my relationship is with the animals. I absolutely adore them all. They have shown me…well, ME. Through patience, tenderness and love for cattle, I have seen a side of myself that I never thought possible. A calm, dedicated individual who would bend over backwards to provide the same quality of life for my cattle as I would my family and devoted friends. A few have called me crazy and I admit I am but there is nothing in the world like having cattle trust you so much they enjoy your company…maybe even share a “kiss” or two.

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Calf kisses just happen to be the best!

Celebrate Living, Not Life

Sounds strange doesn’t it? To celebrate living, not life. It isn’t something you will probably hear many people say but I’m saying it anyway. We are all here at this time for a purpose: to live. But is it life or is it living? Can you tell the difference between the two?

Life is what happens when we developed a heartbeat, were born into this world and took our first breaths. Our journey through life is how we are living. It’s the adventures, missteps, trials and tribulations of living that make up our life.

I want to be LIVING my life for purpose, for passion, for love. I don’t want a life full of possessions and dead-end relationships.

My purpose is my passion and ultimately what I love. It might not always include a “partner” beside me but it is all me. It’s mine. It’s what makes me unique.

Why do I bring this random topic up? I bring it up because today is an anniversary that I wish I could never have seen. Sixteen years ago today, many of us in this community lost a friend. His short life was filled with living, doing the things he loved to do and having a blast while doing them. He was taken way before he should have been. I know I think of him often and how he was in life. He knew to take advantage of each new day, to constantly be living!

I don’t want a mundane life. I want to be living my dreams, living my goals, living without fear, living through my work and definitely living my passions. What are those “things” that make my life worth living? Photography is the first thing that comes to mind. Capturing those moments, those times that nature provides us with that are often missed by the naked eye. The moments when the sun rays shine just right through the leaves on a tree or reflect on the water. Cattle is the second thing that automatically comes to mind. I love the trust they share with me. They provide me with a therapy where nervousness and fear isn’t allowed. They don’t care how I dress, what makeup I wear or even if I comb my hair. They just are, I just am and they accept that. I’m still developing my dreams, my goals and my passions. I’ll figure it all out someday.

Until then, I am going to keep on living by trying new experiences and capturing those images that “speak” to me. Keep an eye out for me though…I might be that crazy lady you see laying out in a pasture surrounded by cattle somewhere!

Even the cattle often think I’m a little crazy. Sometimes it’s all about the perspective!