Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Other Things We Have Been Up To

New Mexico

Last weekend, J and I went to New Mexico for J's grandpa's 95th* birthday! We drove down to Farmington on Friday afternoon and drove back up Sunday afternoon.

It was such a nice trip! We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express, which was pretty new, and very pleasant. We had breakfast Saturday morning with J's parents and some of his other relatives. Lots of fun. It turns out, one of J's cousins that he doesn't know very well actually has goats. He's into a lot of the same things as J is, and J just had no idea until his aunt was telling us about it.

We went out to J's grandpa's orchard for the birthday celebration. We talked with him for a little while, and he told us some neat stories.

J's dad grew up on the farm, and he took us for a tour on Sunday morning. It was neat to see a lot of the things I had heard about when I interviewed J's dad for my class last year.

One of J's uncles is a private pilot. He offered to take us up in his airplane to see the orchard from above. It was fun! He gave us a demonstration of weightlessness--he had us each put something out in the palm of our hand, and he went up and then dropped down, and our stuff floated above our hands. It was pretty intense. He also let me fly the plane a little.

We went to dinner at Tequila's, which is J's dad's favorite Mexican restaurant, because they have amazing salsa.

Those were some of the highlights.

[Warning: you may not want to read this.]
We made an appointment for the calves, with Circle V (in Spanish Fork), which is where some of our neighbors process their meat. We were supposed to take them down to Circle V last Tuesday, except that J didn't want to drive his dad's truck after our experience with the new truck on Monday. So we rescheduled for Saturday morning.

Friday evening I went outside and everyone was crying, and I thought I could hear Stew mooing from back behind the chicken area. Sometimes the calves get into the chicken area and a couple times they've gone back behind the barns from inside the chicken area. There's kind of a corridor between our barn and the wall in the back of our yard. When the calves get back there, they can't figure out how to get out and they moo.

Stew was kind of echoing, though, which was weird. When I went back to lead him out, I found him back in that area, but instead of being in the corridor, he had fallen into one of our irrigation wells. We have two wells, and we use them to switch the direction water flows when we're irrigating; they're square-shaped cement holes that are about 3 1/2 feet wide, 3 1/2 feet long, and about that deep, too. Anyway, Stew fell front-first. His front legs were at the bottom of the well, his neck was towards the bottom but bent up, and his back legs were sticking up out of the top. Poor guy. He was mooing and mooing. He was pretty scared, and he had feces all over, because animals do that when they're scared.

I tried to shift Stew a little to help him get up, but he didn't budge. He mooed some more. I scratched his neck and rubbed his head for a few minutes, and told him everything was okay. (It wasn't.)

J got home about then, and I had him come back behind the barns to see if we could pull Stew out by his back legs. We couldn't. He didn't even budge. Well, maybe he budged, but that was it.

What next? We decided we would need some men to help us get him out. We went to our neighbor's house to see if he would help us. He said he was in the middle of planning his wife's funeral** but if we would give him some time to finish up, he would be right over. He could bring his mare and we could put straps around the calf and have her pull him out, maybe.

We went back home, and Stew wasn't mooing anymore. He wasn't moving anymore, either. Poor guy. The weight of his own body broke his neck. What a terrible feeling--he was such a nice guy! What an awful way to die. Plus, after raising him for 10 months, and bottle feeding him 3x/day for two months, and spending lots of money on food, we were not going to get any meat from him. It was all a waste.

Our neighbor came over and he was all suited up for the task, and he brought some ropes and stuff, and we let him know that Stew didn't make it. (What a great neighbor though, eh?) We let him go back home to be with his wife.

We called a large animal vet to see about having him removed. After all, people have horses die and they have to do something with them, so there must be people who can do that sort of thing. When J explained where the calf was, the guy wanted J to get a bunch of guys out to our house to help him pull the calf out. (Uh, the reason we were hiring you is so that we don't have to ask our friends and family to do it.) So J wasn't sure the guy knew how to get the job done, and it was going to cost $150 (ouch). The guy was going to come the next morning.

J called some of his family to see if he could get help, but they couldn't or didn't answer or something. He called our home teacher, and got voicemail. He called the next day; he couldn't come. J called one of our neighbors (who used to be our home teacher), and he agreed to help! He came across the street within five minutes or something. He had a "come along" which is a tool that you attach to something, so that you can lift heavy things, or move them. He hadn't used it yet, but he thought it might be good for this task.

It was.

They hooked it to a tree over the well and eventually got Stew out. There was no way even 4 or 5 guys could have done it. Stew weighed about 400 lbs, but he was also caught on something.

They pulled him out to our truck; I put a tarp in the bottom of the truck. They used some wood to make a ramp and used the come along again to get him up into the truck.

What a friend, though. We really felt like we needed help, and it was such an awful task, but our neighbor just stepped right in, and he didn't complain once. It was such a relief to have the help; it really meant a lot to us.

Saturday morning J and me drove Stew to the dump. And then we drove him to the county dump, because it is the only one that accepts dead animals, we found out. The inspector there was super helpful.

Then we went back home because we were supposed to have Chuck down to Circle-V. J got the trailer attached to the truck, no problem, but Chuck didn't want to get inside. (Even with food to lure him in.) J put some grain bags down, to make a little ramp up. Chuck was still not interested. He's big enough that you can't push him or pull him.

I had the idea that he would probably step into the trailer to suck on his bottle. I went and grabbed one of the (empty) calf bottles out of the garage. It worked.*** J and I got out of the trailer and closed it up. We drove down to Circle V.

They don't actually slaughter on Saturdays or Sundays, so we put Chuck in a pen behind the building. We glued a little label onto his rump so that they would know who he was, and we poured some grain for him to eat, and then we left him there. It made me kind of sad. I liked our calves.

I feel less bad about eating our own meat when animals die and go to waste. It just seems like life is so fragile, and either our animals can die and rot and become dirt or they can nourish us, and sustain our life, and they can be a gift to other people, and nourish them, too. It's almost a beautiful thing, looking at it that way, that they can go to so much good, instead of just decomposing. When the dog kills chickens, or Stew dies, it seems like their lives were just wasted.

Anyway, enough about all that.

We're thinking we will probably get another calf this winter, since we will only be getting 1/2 the meat we were planning on.

My Little White Bird
Do you see the little white bird in the first picture of the calves? She is my Silkie chick. After Chalcy killed her buddy (the rooster), she didn't have a flock anymore. So last week she started hanging out with the calves. She would cuddle with them when they were laying down (they were warm!), and follow them around when they walked around the pasture. It was pretty cute. Also, isn't that sad? She lost her rooster buddy, and then she lost her flock of calves, too. Now she kind of hangs out with the goats. A lot of times she comes over to me when I go outside. I like her.

I was asked not to say much about this**** but after orientation, hours of interviews, and a pretty thorough background check (they actually called 5 people), I am now volunteering with an organization! When my background check came through, they called me and let me know that they had a couple matches for me in the program. I picked one, things were approved, and we have been moving forward. I'm really excited about this. (Is that vague enough? It seems like it is going to be a pretty big part of my life for at least the next year, and probably longer, so I wanted to at least mention it.)

Our dog is doing well. Lately she loves to chew on things. Usually she does not chew on things she is not supposed to, but she really tears her toys apart.***** I think for her, pulling stuffing apart is kind of like popping bubble wrap is for people.

Chalcy is also a teenage puppy, and she is testing all of her boundaries. Sometimes she runs around our house and climbs over our bed. NO. Or she bugs the trash. NO. Or she steals napkins and rips them up. NO. (I'm such a fun-hater.)

Chalcy LOVES her bell. We put a bell on the doorknob so Chalcy would let us know when she needed to go out. For a long time she wouldn't touch it, because I accidentally got her toes when I "rewarded" her for ringing the bell (by opening the door). Now she rings the bell and takes a step back. And waits. And rings it again. I let her out, and half the time she just wants to play. We leave her outside sometimes, because otherwise we're in and out, in and out. When it was snowing it was even worse, because the snow was SO FUN, but it was COLD. So she would ring the bell to go out, she would play, and then I would bring her in because it was too cold for her to stay out. She would warm up for, oh, 2-3 minutes, and ring the bell again.

Chalcy thinks I'm around just to be friends with her. All day she follows me around and tries to stuff toys into my hands.

Chalcy stayed with Heather and Josh while J and I were in New Mexico, and we really appreciated them letting her visit for the weekend.******

Our next trip is going to be to California, and we're bringing Chalcy with us so my family can meet her, and so she can try traveling with us. It should be fun.

Chalcy is BIG. She can't stand up all the way in her crate anymore. I think we're going to try to get her a dog bed and see if we can transition (and get her huge kennel out of our living room!), but I don't know if she will be obedient enough for that to work yet. I guess we'll see.

Okay, I'm about as caught up with blogging as I need to be for now, so I'm going to cross "Blog about Subaru" off of my list, and get back to doing other things.

* He is old.
** How's that for bad timing? She has cancer, and it's terminal. She just has one of her lungs now, and she's not doing too well. It's really too bad. They're a very, very nice family.
*** How sad is that? All he wanted was a bottle. He had nice memories.
**** On Facebook, which probably also means on blogs.
***** Remember "Sid" from Toy Story? It's like that. Fox only has one eye and one ear left, and I stitched up his face. Chalcy pulled Lobster's eyes off (because they poked up), and that pulled his head open. Giraffe's ears and horns and tail were all gone the first day, its hooves were gone the next day, and by now Giraffe has stubs for legs and only part of its head. Squeaky Bear doesn't squeak anymore because Chalcy bit his head off.
****** Seriously, thanks so much, guys.


Me again said...

I know exactly how you feel about the calf.

we bought 3 calves this past spring. They are Angus so we'll have them until next fall. Anyway, about a month ago when we switched them from pasture grass to alfalfa - we didn't have a bloat block in with them and forgot that cows can be sensitive to dramatic changes in feed.

Anyway, they all bloated up and one died from it. I hated the waste. All that work and now just dead.

The positive side is that at least all 3 didn't die.

We asked around and found a company that charged $50 to haul the animal away. Now that was a disgusting dump truck. We were his 7th or 8th stop. Oh the smell!!!

Shelli said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Stew. :(