Thursday, May 28, 2009

A Romantic Weekend Getaway

I have been listening to country music for about 15 years. In high school I wore Wrangler jeans, line danced, and even went to a rodeo. I thought, for awhile, that this basically qualified me to be a country girl. Now that I have been a farmers wife for 11 years and actually lived in the country, I realize that I was way off base. I was dead wrong. You can't just be a bumpkin because you want to. You have to go through bumpkin initiation. I'm not sure how long this trial period lasts, because I am still going through it. I can tell you that the series of tests that I have been through recently, have been quite rigorous. There have been moments where I questioned myself as a bumpkin and feared that my status as one was going to come to a screeching halt.

There was the test of the 5 chickens being eaten by a fox in a 36 hour period this past week. There was the test of so much rain that we couldn't plant anything and farmer-husband is further behind on planting than he was 2 years ago during the 50 year drought. But the test today was the worst. It was the day that we had to take Sweetums to the bull pen to try to do things the ol' fashioned way. We have AI'd 3 times, 2x unsuccessfully. We aren't sure if the 3rd time worked or not, but we didn't want her to go in heat here at the house if it turns out she isn't pregnant. We didn't want to do AI again, so we arranged for her to spend a few days with some Jersey bulls that live in the south end of the county. Now, granted, we won't know what bull gets her pregnant, and we won't really know if the AI worked or not....if she ends up pregnant.

So we get a small cattle trailor from a guy named "Luck" and attempt to load a cow into a trailor who has never been in one before. To make that long story short, we put one of the goats in there and she finally walked in and then we took the goat out. So we set off on our 30 mile journey to the bull pen. Farmer hubby, me, sister of farmer hubby, daughter, and niece (who keeps referring to the fact that Sweetums is going to get a 'mate' and daughter keeps saying what? what is a mate?) Sweet girl mooed the whole way there, and as we approached the beautiful 80 acre pasture, we notice we have a flat tire on the trailer. (Thank goodness for Paw Paw who through a spare tire into the back of the truck as we headed out) Just par for the course of an afternoon in bumpkinland.

We drive through the gate, and start driving around until we see the bulls. Hubby says- We've arrived at the Romantic Weekend Getaway! There were 5 bulls and 1 heifer (I guess she was also there for the same reasons). They were very curious as hubby let Sweetums out of the trailer. In fact, he opened the gate and all at once the bulls charged the trailer and hubby ran and jumped into the bed of the truck. They chased her around for awhile and she ran and ran... none of them quite knew what to make of her. She is so pretty, so sleek. I think the heifer that was in there was jealous of her. She actually chased her more than the bulls did. But every now and then Sweetums would stop and graze and look at us. We watched this go on for awhile. I was scared. I didn't like to see her in this situation, where she had no idea what to do or why she was there. She hasn't seen a cow in 2 years, when she was 1 week old. I kept humanizing the situation, which is not right. But I couldn't help it. We finally headed out of the pasture, and just when I thought we were out of sight of all of them, Sweetums comes running after us. With the bull herd hot on her trail. Great. Now, I'm about to cry, and farmer hubby is thinking how in the world are we going to get out of here? (don't forget-we still have the flat tire to contend with)

We got to the gate, Sweetums was there looking at us as if she didn't want us to go. It was like the church nursery with a toddler. Hubby gets out, opens the gate, pushes her aside...says to me "DRIVE!" and I floor it out of the gate and he manages to get the gate shut and locked without any escapees. Those bulls had probably never even been down to the gate before!

So then we change the flat, and they are all there watching us. And watching her. Excuse me, 'we' didn't change a flat, you know what I mean. And she would eat, and she seemed calm. Well, calm enough. She wasn't distraught, or mooing a lot, or acting strange. So I was OK with that. But I just sat in the truck, swatting yellow flies, trying not to think about all the 'what ifs' that could happen while I was away from my 700 pound baby.

We drove away, and she chased us down the fence line. Running wide open. That was almost too much for me. In fact, I don't want to go on about that, I can't think about it.

Hubby says, "If you go in there to check on her..." And then he stops. He sees my face looking at him like he has 3 heads. "Oh, I guess you aren't going to go in there." Not a bloody chance in the pit of Hades! Not by myself anyway! Who does he think he is married to? Annie Oakley? I do have a line that I don't cross, and bull pens is WAY past that line.

We are planning to ALL go check on her on Saturday to see if she is in heat, and to see if there is any action happening. There is a really pretty young Jersey bull that I think had his eye on her. I am hoping for him to be the 'mate'.

I hope she is laying down right now, chewing cud, enjoying the south end of the county. We sure do miss her.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day blues

Yesterday afternoon, it became more and more apparent that Sweetums was indeed coming into heat. We had a political event last night for Congressman Adam Putnam who is running for Florida Commissioner of Agriculture in 2010, so we had to leave the house. We called Tony, and scheduled him to come this morning at 730. This was a little disappointing for us, because we really hoped that this second time would take. Tony was confident as well, but it didn't work. It is very hard to realize that a dream you have may not come true. I know, I know...duh, that is life, right? But this isn't something I thought would be so difficult to actually accomplish.

Last night we secured a few Jersey gentleman who are in a pasture in the south end of the county who could use a little company. So the plan is that 2 weeks from now, right before she would come into heat, we will take her down there for a few days. I will be checking on her EVERY DAY and bringing her a snack as well. That way I can also tell if she comes in heat and therefore know if she gets pregnant by the bulls or by AI.

So we are continuing to keep hope alive.

Good Lord Willin', next Mother's Day I will be celebrating this day right along with Sweetums.

Friday, May 8, 2009

All good signs...

Well, there is NO mooing. No pacing. No desperation. Wha hoo! I still can't get my hopes up completely... we need a little more confirmation, but for today, I'm happy.

I spent the morning at an all Jersey dairy in Moultrie, GA - check them out - and I just loved seeing all those happy Jersey's all together... their gentleman caller bull was even among the herd, and man, when he walked in, the ladies perked up! Too funny. We got to pet a calf, who reminded me so much of Sweetums 2 years ago... just too precious for words.

I spent quite a bit of time bending their ear on my predicament here, and I got a lot of encouragement that it may take several tries with AI. They told me a story that they AI'd a cow 15 times... she was such a good milk cow they didn't want to let her go, so they were very hopeful that just one more time it would take. Never did. So they put her with the bull. She was pregnant 2 weeks later. So, I felt good about my baby.

In the words of Jesse Jackson, "Keep Hope Alive!" That's what I'm doin today!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

On the eve of her 21st day

I have to admit, I am nervous. VERY nervous. I have watched her all day, looking for any sign that she may come in heat tomorrow. She is acting natural right now. She looks fat. Oh, brother. I just am so scared that she will not be able to get pregnant. Farmer-hubby and I talked about our plan of action if this time fails again. Do we phone Tony? Do we just take her to a bull and try that? It isn't an easy decision, because timing is everything, and the further we push this into the summer...that means her baby will be born later into the spring.... etc. I think I'm going to go check her rear again, see if I see anything clear.

The kids and I are going to a Jersey dairy tomorrow to take a tour with our homeschool group. If she's mooing in the morning before we leave, going there and seeing the calves will be depressing. If she is quiet, going there and seeing the calves will make me hopeful. If I come home and she's mooing, I may cry. If I come home and she's quiet, I may cry!

Oh Sweetums. Sweet sweet girl.