January 30, 2009

Georgie is getting bull-headed.

When I was a little girl set on having my own way, Lee, who was elderly and from the Deep South, used to tease me, “Sail’n, doan you go bein’ so bull-haided!” Then she’d duck her head in her lap and laugh with a great loving wheeze.

Georgie has more of an excuse for his behavior. He is a bull. Actually, a bullock, a young bull, as he is only 3 months old.

Jersey bull George Clooney, 2 days old, Oct. 2008

Jersey bull George Clooney, 2 days old, Oct. 2008

And just as little boys inevitably pick up sticks to make toy weapons, young bulls start bashing things with their heads. It’s dominance play. This morning as I was milking Katika in her stanchion, Georgie, left behind in the cow stall to entertain himself, decided to show the mineral feeder who was boss. Crash! Tail up… dance back on stiff legs… dart in… head down again… Bash!

This will only get worse. By 18 months old, the favorite daily activity of Hugh Grant, my last bull, was to up-end the water trough. A 70-gallon trough — when filled it weighed a hefty 560 pounds to his roughly 800. Not a problem. Even in deep snow Hughie would simply eye The Enemy, flex his powerful neck, lower his head, and bam. With a few charges he’d flip the heavy trough, and then push it victoriously through the snow far out into the pasture. Each day I’d have to wade through the drifts, drag it back, and refill it. Eventually I had the trough wrapped in chains looped around and locked to the wooden fence. It rarely mattered. Hughie had all day for his happiest game. Bash! Crash!

Georgie today

Georgie today, 3.5 mos

Listening to Georgie this morning, I sighed.

“Doan you go bein’ so bull-haided!

Cut Off My Shirttail

January 28, 2009

Years ago a friend told me that she suffered from the same anxiety and resulting nervous stomach that her famous father had. She smiled wryly: “I’m cut off his shirttail.” The expression was so vivid it immediately entered my vocabulary.

Last night after dinner Jon went to visit a neighboring friend. Though only a half-mile trip, it was black dark and already -5° F, with a whipping wind. He asked if he could use the car, and of course we agreed. An hour later he came in and retired to his room. I was turning off the computer and kitchen lights for the night when Jon re-emerged, looking sheepish.

“Could you possibly give me a ride over to C—–‘s? I just realized I left the car there.”

“You left the car there?”

“Yes, I forgot I had it and just walked home.”

I was torn between laughter and exasperation. I imagined him trudging, oblivious, past the car that he drives every day, leaning into a below-zero wind, never noticing Something Is Wrong with this Picture. After teasing him a bit, I went to tell DH, who was already under the covers, that I was giving Jon a ride back to the house where he had left the car.

He left the car there?”

I pulled on my heavy winter coat over my pajamas, stamped into my boots, and grabbed the keys.

“Thanks, Mom,” said Jon.

We were pulling out of the driveway in DH’s car, and I was swiping at the inside of the windshield with one gloved hand, when suddenly I braked and started to laugh.


“I was getting annoyed that Dad’s windshield is so blurry — but I’ve just realized I forgot to put on my glasses!

I’ve worn glasses every day since I was twelve years old.

We both laughed immoderately. Poor Jon. He’s cut off his mother’s shirttail.

We have a blog!

January 25, 2009

Just in from evening barn chores. Lucy is absorbed in her homework and I am sitting beside her typing my first Fairhope blog.

It’s due to be -20° F tonight here in the mountains, not counting wind chill, and at dusk I was glad to bring the animals into the barn and pull the big doors shut against the blowing snow. January is a hard month, on the animals and on their caretakers. Though I dress for it, it’s a challenge to keep from slowly congealing during the hour or more it takes me to milk, feed, water, and muck out the barn.

For several days it’s been so cold that I’ve been pitching manure from the stalls into the aisle, breaking out the ice in the water buckets, rebedding the stalls with clean shavings — and then leaving the piles in the aisle to be dealt with “later, when it’s warmer.” As I scrambled over frozen piles almost knee-high tonight I realized I couldn’t put it off any longer. It took me half an hour of sweat with a pitchfork to rediscover the aisle floor. Hauling manure: my fitness program!

My hope is that this blog will help to keep far-flung family and friends abreast of what’s going on here down on the farm. Even when it’s just digging out from under.