Coyote Soup

Bringing life back to the family ranch with three young free range braves and lots of organic elbow grease.

The Sidetracked Side of Things. November 7, 2012

Filed under: Country Life — Piper Long @ 9:50 am
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I still haven’t started painting fence around here. Primarily because I’ve been making excuses and getting sidetracked. At first it was too cold. Then it was too windy. And lately it’s been too…

pretty.

I know I’ve used this excuse in the past, but it’s a valid argument.

I’ve used this same excuse as a reason to procrastinate hand picking pecans to replenish my freezer stash. Every pecan season I contemplate whether or not I should buy pecan harvesting equipment so I will no longer have to pick the pecans by hand. Ultimately, each season, I decide that I wouldn’t have near the time or help I’d need to pick up each and every twig in order to run the equipment through our large, muddled pecan grove.

Sure I have three boys who are completely willing and able to pick up sticks. But I’ve learned that in boy talk “stick” is code for “weapon” and the domino effect of potential outcomes that could develop from an entire day of gathering “weapons” with 3 boys just doesn’t compute.

So each year I decide it’s best to have our neighbor harvest our pecans as usual while I hand-pick the fruits of the trees that can’t be harvested with their equipment.

But today I’m really thinking that even though it’s supposed to be a perfectly beautiful day, I should really go pick some pecans because I know that when Drover gets finished planting his wheat, he will have me out building and tearing down fences. And then I will have zero time to pick pecans, crack pecans and dig the meat out of the shells.

At least moving on to fencing means we will have helpers. I’m sure it will come to no surprise that my boys are quite helpful when it comes to the destruction of old fences.
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One removes clips.

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The other holds the clip bucket.

“Have you tried the kare-ra-tee-CHOP! …That’s how I’d do it.”
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“I will try your so-called fencing pliers… but I still think the kare-ra-tee-CHOP would be thy best method.”
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Here, the middle child struggles to remove a stubborn clip.
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And the eldest lends him a hand.

Then one of the boys notices an armadillo wandering by, minding its own business, unaware of the curiosity young fence demolitioners exhibit. And then the helpers are sidetracked.

I can’t imagine how this confounded characteristic took root in my children.
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All I know is that our sidetracked helpers have ditched the fencing pliers and clips for weapons like sticks…
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…and t-posts which they intend to use as make-shift probes to drive the armadillo out of it’s back entrance.

Or the east entrance.
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Or maybe the west entrance.

 

A Belated Monday List October 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 10:33 am
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1. When one gets a dog, one should always take into consideration all possible indirect expenses of caring for them.
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e.g. computer cords.

I was all set to jot down my Monday list yesterday when I noticed my computer cord had been chewed almost entirely in half.

I thought I could pick up a new cord for around $20. Turns out cords are more approximately $75.

Needless to say, this was a depressing realization for me.

2. So I made butterscotch pie.
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And the world was a happier place.

3. Then my grandmother called to tell me my brother had left some knives at her house for my boys.
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Because my brother lives so far from me, we often exchange items at her house because her house is the half-way house.

Not to be confused with the halfway house.

“Your brother left some knives here for the boys,” she informed me.

“Knives?” I asked.

“Yeah. He said he told the boys that if they made straight A’s on their report cards, he’d buy them knives. And they’re really big ones too,” she said.

Big?

“Like how big? Like machete big? Or Samurai big?” I inquired.

“I dunno, but I do know they’re bigger than a switch blade knife,” she said, “and they’ve got a lifetime warranty.”

Great.

That’s all my kids need. Weapons that will last them a lifetime.

“Ok, I’ll be by later to pick them up,” I replied.

4. Speaking of knives, we finally carved our Halloween jack-o-lanterns over the weekend.

We, meaning me.

My children were not allowed to operate the carving knife.

5. However, I did allow my 5-year-old to operate my car.
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6. My boys started wrestling yesterday.

Being a wrestler requires special shoes, and because my boys waited until the last-minute to inform me of the need for the shoes until the day of practice, I was forced to buy them while they were at school.

Which means they wouldn’t be able to try them on.

Fortunately, my 9-year-old and I wear the same size shoe.

So there I was in the store with my purse slung across my shoulder, trying on wrestling shoes .

Apparently, this is typical because none of the salesmen said a word.

7. Getting to the bus stop early to pick up your kids can make for a boring wait.
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Unless your brother happens to get your young children dangerously large big game hunting knives in which case your time can be well spent splicing computer cords that have been chewed by dogs.

8. Last night, the sunset was amazing.
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9. Utterly amazing.

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10. Not to be confused with udderly amazing.

 

The Cake Truck October 25, 2012

Filed under: ranching — Piper Long @ 6:31 am
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Cattle guards are a wonderful invention.

They are typically used in place of gates where the fence meets the roadway to keep cattle from wandering over into the wrong pasture. They save hurried ranch wives oodles of time that would otherwise be spent parking the car, getting out of the car, opening the gate, getting back in the car, driving through the open gate, parking the car, getting out of the car and closing the gate.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Up until recently our cattle guards have done an outstanding job guarding the gate area.

But recently, the cattle have been jumping the cattle guards.

Some are even tippy-toeing across and gathering at a green patch of grass near the house.

“Why do they keep jumping the cattle guard?” Drover asked, looking out the kitchen window. “The gate was open when I came in and the cows were nowhere in sight. It’s not like they don’t have plenty of food in their pasture.”

“You wanna know why?” I asked, drying my hands on the kitchen towel. “It’s because you drive all over this ranch, handin out that cake grain from your truck. Sure they’ve got food lyin around, but you’ve got cake. You’re like the ice cream truck, only with cake. Heifers will do anything for cake.”

Drover looked at me and I could see the corners of his mouth turn up ever so slightly. And with that he headed out the door to resume his cake truck route.

As soon as the cows heard the sounds of the cake truck in the distance, their ears perked up.
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And they began to follow.
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Until they noticed the fresh, healthy greens on the opposite side of the road.

Oh the dilemmas of life.

Healthy greens… or cake?
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Cake!

Definitely cake!

 

A little muscle please October 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 9:55 pm
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Rose of Sharon

I really meant to get a post up this morning, but Drover volunteered my muscles to help him heave a seed spreader into the back of his flatbed truck. The seeder was in an old barn down in the bottom pasture where some of our cows reside, and since we were driving all the way down there, he also decided we needed to feed and check the herd of bovines.

I was riding shotgun listening to Adele on the radio while Drover rattled off a lengthy list of things that needed to be done in the bottom pasture and how the weed spray he put out earlier this spring had done a good job of getting rid of the pesky yellow wildflowers like the ones I had in a vase on my table.

I might’ve tuned out a bit here and there, but ended up being fairly present by saying, “uh-huh” every now and then.

We drove up beside a young weak calf and Drover pointed out the need to bring the horse back down to rope the calf to medicate it.

“Ya, that’s probably a good idea,” I said as though I know what’s best in situations like that.

I looked over at Drover who was looking out the driver’s side window at the calf and felt the engine rev as the truck accelerated into the pasture. The next thing I knew, Drover had bailed out of the moving truck on me.

The driver’s seat was empty, the door was wide open and the truck was veering off toward the herd of Momma cows.

This is where a bench seat would have come in handy.

I leaned over the center console to see Drover wrestling the calf to the ground, the truck still driving itself through the field of cows. I grabbed the wheel while angling myself over the center console into the driver’s seat, trying to steer the truck away from the herd without hitting Drover who by this time had already immobilized the young calf.

The man is invincible.

Remind me to increase his life insurance… Just in case.

When I reached the driver’s seat, I slammed my foot on the break, threw the truck into park, grabbed a rope from the back seat and hopped out to assist.

Turns out the calf had been mauled by either a dog or a coyote and needed further medical treatment for a gaping wound under his right hind leg.

Once again, Drover volunteered my muscles to assist him… this time to heave the calf up onto the bed of the truck so we could give him proper medical care.

Tonight the calf is safe and sound in a pen near the house, with Honey, the Great Pyrenees, keeping watch.

 

Pop Quiz! October 8, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 9:34 am
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1. These bulls are:
A.) Having a rational political conversation.
B.) Fighting over the last remaining blade of green grass.
C.) Male.

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2. The person on the horse is:
A.) Me
B.) The Headless Horseman
C.) Drover

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3. The boy in this picture:
A.) Is ashamed to be wearing a hat he found on the road near the Drummond ranch.
B.) Hates candy.
C.) Won 1st place in the Tulsa State Fair Bubble Gum Bubble Blowing Competition over the weekend.

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4. The Hereford in this picture:
A.) Is the class clown of the herd.
B.) Can touch her tongue to her nose.
C.) Both A and B.

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5. This little cowboy is:
A.) Adorable
B.) Precious
C.) All of the above

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6. These kittens are:
A.) Adorable
B.) Precious
C.) All of the above

Through the gate
7. This horse’s name is:
A.) Trouble
B.) Trigger
C.) Cattle

Lavender
8. Today is:
A.) Monday
B.) Columbus Day
C.) Both A and B

Answers: 1. C 2. C 3. C 4. C 5. C 6. C 7. C 8. C

They’re all C!!!

Happy Monday ya’ll!

 

A Good Seed October 4, 2012

Filed under: Gardening,Musings,Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 12:38 pm
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Once upon a time, I lived on a farm.

On this farm, I had a garden.

It was a good garden. Free from weeds. Fertile. Full of only good seeds and plants. Surrounded by lush, soft, beautiful green grass that smelled heavenly when cut. I’m obsessed with the smell of fresh cut grass lately. Mostly because the drought has deprived me of the scent I didn’t realize I craved. I smelled it for the first time in a long time when Drover mowed the few blades of grass in our yard the other day. I’ve been in a state of euphoria ever since.

Looking back at old pictures of this garden, I remember the euphoria it imposed upon me. And not just the garden, but the farm in general. The farm that has been in my family for years and years and will continue to be in my family for as long as I live. It’s the farm that we spent so much time restoring and manicuring. We built 4 big, new barns to replace the ones destroyed by the tornado. We dug nice deep ponds that filled with water back when it rained. We stretched sturdy, tight fences that actually contained the livestock we put behind them. For the most part.

In other words, we worked hard on this dairy farm.

‘We’ meaning Drover for the most part, I helped as best I could.

Each day I would throw my hair up in a bun and wrap it in a doo rag and head out to help Drover take care of whatever needed to be taken care of.

Looking back now it seems this typically involved dealing with manure.

Scraping manure from the lot… scrubbing manure from the walls of the barn… shoveling manure out of the chicken house…

My hair just wasn’t ever up for any of this. Hence the doo rag.

I don’t know why, but for some reason this picture always reminds me of the time when there was a thick layer of snow on the ground and I was going out to feed the bottle calves. Instead of just stopping at the doo rag, I decided to add a warm black knitted stocking hat… the kind that not only goes over your head, but your entire face with cutouts for the eyes, and mouth.

It also happened to be the day the vet was coming out to preg check some cows. He was dressed in Levi’s, a flannel shirt and a Carhart vest. No hat. I remember him looking at me with smiling eyes, trying to hide his amusement and saying, “Oh come on… it’s not THAT cold!”

Clutching the bottle carriers in both hands, making my way toward the barn, I tried to respond, to defend my cozy head piece, but by then the knit cap had worked its way up over my mouth and all that came out was mumbles.

Which brings me to where we are now.

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Gardening at the ranch.

The ranch that has been in Drover’s family for many, many years.

The ranch that we decided needed a little sprucing up…. new fences… new ponds… new barns… new garden…

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It’s a good thing we have three little braves to help us out.

They’re pretty good boys.

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This one here…

He’s a good seed.

I think I’ll keep him.

 

A Dent in my Car October 3, 2012

Filed under: Musings — Piper Long @ 8:52 am
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There’s a dent in my car,
It twasn’t my fault.
Tis the spot where my horse’s hiney
came to a halt.
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He was minding his own,
eating feed from the truck,
When he was startled by someone,
Who spoiled his luck.

Cause when a horse finds some feed,
it is fortunate you see…
Cause bicycle seats
aren’t quite as tasty.

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Tis a good thing I saw this
after the fact,
the horse pen was built
to hold me back.

Through the gate

 

A Monday list, 8 hours 10 minutes late. October 2, 2012

Filed under: Musings — Piper Long @ 7:10 am
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1. Ticks take all the fun out of an unexpected, spontaneous stroll through the woods.
Especially teeny tiny eensy weensy seed ticks that your five-year-old can barely see good enough to remove with your best pair of tweezers.

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2. Never underestimate an old cow’s greatest strength.
She might just hold the title of Head Butting Champion of the Herd. In which case, it might not be easy to rope her and load her in the trailer without going head-to-head with her.

3. Cinnamon Rolls are quite effective at removing kids from their 3″ memory foam topped mattresses.

4. Smoke alarms work well too.

5. Together, they’re brilliant.
Especially when the smoke was produced from the dripping buttery sweetness bubbling over the dish, having no effect on the deliciousness of the cinnamon rolls.

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6. If you see a cowboy hat on the side of the road near the Drummond ranch, just keep driving. It’s prolly worn out.
Because if your kids are anything like mine, they’ll want to wear it anyway. Nevermind that they have nice, new fitted cowboy hats that are clean.

 

Cattle Drive September 24, 2012

Filed under: ranching — Piper Long @ 11:37 am
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cattle drive

Yesterday, Drover and I loaded up our horses and our three little braves and headed up to Kansas to drive our cattle out of their summer pastures down to the corrals to be sorted, sold or relocated for the winter. You’d think I’d be excited about this sort of thing, most real cowgirls are. The thing is, I’m not a real cowgirl. I’ve been a cowgirl against my will for about 14 years now and I STILL get nervous about working with large groups of cows.

Yesterday was no exception.

The cattle drive was to take place on my brother-in-law’s Kansas ranch. Since my brother-in-law and his family don’t live on this ranch, I’m not very familiar with it. I’d never been to the parts of the ranch we would be driving the cattle through. Nor had the cattle.

Normally, this wouldn’t be much of a problem… only I was the leader. It was going to be like the blind leading the blind…. A whole herd of blind.

What could possibly go wrong with that?

About 5 minutes before arriving, I was given the following instructions from Drover.

“You’re going to drive the truck and hopefully, the cows will follow. Just take the county road to the pasture. Go through the gate, past the pond, up the hill and find the cows. Once you get all the cows gathered, lead them back down the hill past the pond, through the gate and down the road. Don’t let them get in the neighbor’s pasture. Then just take them to the corral.”

“Which pasture belongs to the neighbor? And where is the corral?” I asked.

“Well.. the pasture is… you’ll see it. The corrals are up near the house,” he replied, “You’ll figure it out, don’t worry.”

When we got there I was relieved to see my brother-in-law and his son, who is currently in medical school, both armed with glorious ATV’s.

“Are they going to help us?!” I asked Drover, trying to contain my excitement that we might actually have enough hands to pull this off.

“I think so,” Drover replied.

At that point Drover and children waved me off as they disappeared into the field while I took the county road to the meadow where the cows were grazing.

When I got to the pasture, I found 6 head of cows and thought my luck couldn’t have been any better today! Surely the other cows were nearby. This was gonna be easy peasy. I’ll just wait for everyone to mosey on over to me.

So I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

No more cows.

This meant I was going to have to drive across the ravine to retrieve the rest of the herd.

I dreaded driving across the ravine. It was steep, narrow and full of sharp rocks.

With my hands gripping the steering wheel and my foot glued to the brake, I eased my way down the rocky ravine without incidence. Making it up out of the ravine was another story. About 10 yards up the ravine, I slid sideways.

Crap.

I certainly didn’t want to slide off into the deep part of the ravine.

I immediately stopped and frantically started looking for the 4-wheel-drive button, but it wasn’t there. Where the heck is the 4-wheel-drive?! My panic was intensifying. I know how to shift this truck in 4-wheel-drive, I’ve done it before, but my mind won’t stop fretting over the position I’m in long enough to tell my hands what to do.

That’s when my brother-in-law pulls up in his ATV with my 5-year-old wrapped around his waist.

“Can you get it in 4 wheel drive?” he asks.

“Where is the 4-wheel-drive?” I asked, mortified that these words were even coming out of my mouth.

“To your right, by the center console,” he kindly replied.

My right side was cluttered with cowboy hats, shirts, styrofoam cups, keys, papers and fishing supplies. I shoved everything aside. Of course! Ugh. I shifted it in 4WD and crawled up the ravine to find the cows grazing about, unconcerned with my problems.

While we waited on the rest of the gang, I decided to confirm the directions with my brother-in-law to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.

“So… we’re just taking them down the way I came in, right? Down the county road?” I asked.

“Yup,” he replied.

“Okay, just wanted to make sure we weren’t cutting through any pastures,” I said.

“Oh, yeah, when you get on the county road, go about 500 yards then you’re going to cut through the pasture, follow the creek around the edge of the pasture, then when you cross the rocky creek bottom, go about 50 yards and turn through the gate, go down the lane and through the gate across another pasture to the green gate. Then you’ll see the house, then just drive on through the pastures there toward the house.”

Uh. Ok.

I hopped in the truck and hollered for the cows to gather round so I can relay the game plan.

Soon Drover and our oldest 2 boys showed up on horseback along with yet another cowboy who I later learned used to cowboy at the Mullendore Ranch.

God loves me.

cattle drive

I led the cows back through the ravine, across the top pasture, down the hill, past the pond, out the gate – careful to keep them away from the openings to the neighbor’s pasture – leading them 300 yards out on the county road. Then Drover steers his horse up ahead of me another 200 yards and waits for me at the gate.

cattle drive

I turned in the gate, followed the tree line, that I assumed was the creek line, crossed over the rocky creek bed and happened upon the Mullendore cowboy.

“Hello there!” he greeted me from atop his horse.

“Hi!” I hollered over the diesel engine of the truck.

“Do you know where you’re going?” he asked.

Great. I’ve gone the wrong way. Now I’m lost. And I’ve taken a whole herd of cows with me.

“Not really, I think there’s supposed to be a gate up here I’m supposed to go through,” I replied.

“Yes ma’am! It’s the one on your left, leading down the lane. I’ll block the entrance to the other gate for you. After that, just kinda head in that general direction. If I see you’re going in the wrong direction, I’ll try to get up there to help you.”

When we come out of the lane, I can see a homestead that I’m hoping is the homestead we started at this morning. From this angle, it’s hard to tell. There’s silage, hay galore, lots of big red barns I hadn’t noticed before and cows that didn’t belong to us. I look back at Drover and see him motion toward the corner of the pasture. Somehow I make it up to the corrals and find Drover’s nephew, the medical student, ready to catch the cattle in the corral.

Miraculously, we not only got the cows in the corral, but we also got them sorted and sold without any major mishaps.

 

How long has it been? September 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Piper Long @ 8:47 am
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It’s been so long since my last blog post, I almost feel like I need to reintroduce myself!

Hi. My name is Piper.

I live on a ranch.

I have a husband and three boys.

If it weren’t for the hundreds of female cows living on the ranch, I’d be of the minority gender.

I have survived one full year of homeschooling.

I’m still recovering.

The quite, peaceful, serene days when my kids are in public school help me heal.

They’ve since begged to be homeschooled once again.

To which I laugh hysterically.

They plea their case of inadequate fishing time and lack of time to dirty the house enough for me to clean.

I hand them the homework papers the teacher sent home and remind them that it was their decision to return to public school.

The two oldest boys are playing football.

One is the quarterback, which happens to be the only position I know anything about, but I’m learning.

My youngest is playing soccer.

Which I love because I never hear of soccer players breaking their necks and getting Alzheimer’s and ALS.

In my free time, I sit and try to remember what I did in my free time back when I had free time which I think was back in the 1800’s.

My husband, Drover, usually happens in on these moments of deep thought and instead of seeing a woman in deep thought, sees an available ranch hand.

Then I find myself in a field with cows, fixing fence.

I’m currently reading the latest Captain Underpants book with my 9-year-old.

Who, along with his brothers, is with my husband, checking cows in Kansas.

Which is how I came to remember that once upon a time, I had a blog.

Pleased to make your acquaintance…again!

 

 
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