Monday, September 21, 2009

Swollen, Snakebit, and Stupid

In this order I am describing: Seamus, Seamus, and, First of all, I appreciate you collectively shaking your heads and shouting "You are NOT stupid Jenna and Jeremy!!!" Thank you. And maybe we're not, but we do lack the necessary planning skills, forward thinking and research ability to, you know, be prepared prior to purchasing: land, cows, donkeys, land, cows...(you get it).

(Large pile of brush + Woods = Snake Breeding Facility)

This is now our second encounter with cow illness and it has become increasingly obvious that my minimal "veterinary" skills, learned while caring for the odd dog and cat, are not to be relied upon for, ahem, larger animals. My emotional response to cow illness has also proven pointless. Uncontrollable sobbing and high pitched shrieking at Jeremy do very little to cure the cow. Just fyi.

Seamus's unfortunate encounter with a rattlesnake occurred in the wee hours of Saturday morning, which I feel certain about since we camped at the land Friday night, and since his face was its normal size at sunset. It was in the early morning hours that I noticed him curled at the edge of the woods, and I grew concerned something was amiss. Seamus doesn't lie down or curl in a ball when the sun is shining and there's a perfectly lovely bale of hay available. Hoping I was wrong, I walked towards him up the hill. He turned his head towards me at the sound of my footsteps and I reacted as expected upon seeing his grossly distended face - two times its normal size, bulging at the neck and eyes. I screamed and then I cursed and then I kicked a rock because the situation seemed to justify the additional drama.

I headed to a nearby general store where Mike previously imparted his cow healing wisdom when Matilda was sick. Remembering Davina's warning that Mike and only Mike would have the answers, I walked straight to the front desk and requested this mysterious person, refusing offers of help from several other perfectly able individuals. Finally Mike appeared and listened patiently while I described the cow's face, mimicked how he was breathing, the way he limped to the water trough, etc. I'm sure it was an awesome display considering that I was not only pretending to be a cow, but had also recently jumped out of a tent and had yesterday's mascara ringing my eyes, hair elegantly sticking out in many directions. Once I adequately portrayed the sick cow, Mike shook his head and grimly announced that Seamus had clearly received a poisonous snake bite due in part to recent cooler temperatures which were sending snakes slithering across the county at this very moment (my skin = crawling).

This was all fascinating information. Cool temperatures and the recent rain had "woken the snakes" and at least 50 bites had been reported to him in the last week alone. Yay! A diagnosis! I gleefully requested the antidote to which he explained - there is none. He held up both hands, crossed his fingers, and said we should hope the swelling doesn't spread to his trachea. FANtastic. I grudgingly purchased antibiotics and syringes to ward off infection from the actual bite (which appears to be squarely placed on his snout) but was told not to bother with the shots yet since he might not pull through the afternoon.

Needless to say and in an effort not to belabor the point any longer, it was a fairly crappy afternoon. But we lucked out. Seamus's balloon-like face slowly deflated and today only a bump remains where he was bitten. I have no pictures of his face at its worst since, at the time, I wasn't sure he would pull through and it seemed cruel to photograph his apparent agony. Of course, in retrospect, they would have made for some rather entertaining pictures.

What have we learned from this experience? That we have rattlesnakes. That they bite. That it could be us, next time. But mostly, that the cows require a helluva lot more equipment and knowledge than the dog and cat who are easily transported to the neighborhood vet. So the Great-Affordable-Cow-Squeeze-Chute search commences - the only contraption available to safely restrain these beasts without calling in neighboring help in order to administer shots. Speaking of neighbors, I was rather proud of our self restraint in not calling Dwayne and crying into the phone for help. I'm not saying we're getting good at this, but maybe we're figuring some things out after all.

Seamus, post-bite, balloon head deflated.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rain, Rain, (Don't) Go Away!

While I'm not sure that we're out of the 50 year drought, the 15 inches of rain some areas of central Texas got this last weekend certainly helped. For better or worse, we only got about 3 inches or so in the form of a nice steady, slow sprinkle for 2 days straight...just what the parched land needed. The reported 10 and 15 inches of rain were south and north of us, respectively, and required the closing of IH-35 north of Georgetown. So, while the soft, slow rain allowed the ground to absorb the moisture, our "pond" remained empty. Oh well.

Now, while the ground absorbed the majority of the rain, that didn't keep the top few inches of our clay soil from getting incredibly sloppy and muddy. While most people would use that as an excuse to stay inside their dry home to watch some college football, we couldn't wait to get out to the land to clomp around in some mud. And we were not disappointed. I knew we were in for some fun when the 4 wheel drive tractor started to bog down in the soft muck. It was awesome.

It was so awesome that we essentially had to strip down before getting back in the car (sorry, no pics of that) because we were so covered. I was just hoping we didn't get pulled over driving home.

On a different note, Jenna has found a couple of pieces to add to our house that we will build eventually, in the form of an old cast iron tub (not unlike the one the cows use for a trough) and an old apron sink. We have started moving these enormous (and not light) units out to the land. I can't help but appreciate the irony of having the previous owner remove his piles of old tubs and other plumbing paraphernalia only to replace it with more old plumbing fixtures. He would be very proud of us.

Your Boo: You Can't Always Get What you Want

Unless you're Boo.
The thing is.....

for the past ten minutes I've been trying to write a few lines in an effort to explain....

the circumstances surrounding these pictures.

Clearly, they require no explanation. And although it's true that you can't always get what you want, it's hard to say no to this particular baby donkey.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Just Your Average (horse riding, rib eating, tree cutting) Weekend

The holiday and brisk temperatures (read: sarcasm) lured us outside for the majority of the long weekend. Jeremy was especially productive in his attempts to widen and clear the easement onto the property so that guests no longer have to risk their paint jobs for a visit. Innumerable visitors have happily bounced down the drive, waving as they see us stand at the gate, only to become utterly disgusted by the startling sound of "SscreeeEEEEeeeccckkkch" when a mesquite rubs against the car. Sorry (sheepish shrug).

It wasn't until one of the monsters attacked Jer's own car that he decided it was time the beast must be felled.

Take that! Muuwaahahhaa! (If I seem inexplicably cruel to trees then I ask, when was the last time you had a 2 inch thorn go straight through the sole of your boot and into the soft middle part of your foot? Alrighty then.)

The following day was spent fulfilling a promise made to Dwayne since he first rode onto our land. We finally let him feed us expertly smoked pork ribs and grilled corn and then graciously allowed him to take us through neighboring pastures on his beautiful horses. Oh my goodness - the things we do to be friendly.

This is Dwayne shucking a corn that was soaked for three hours in mesquite water before being tossed on the grill. It ranks among the best food I have ever eaten.

This is Jenna pretending to act casual even though she is about to begin her favorite activity in the entire world (next to eating really good food) which is to ride a horse.

This is Jeremy pretending to act casual even though he is about to begin his least favorite activity in the entire world (next to getting shots) which is to ride a horse.

This is us together representing both total joy and total fear.

The sun began to set and only one Lonestar remained. We said goodbye to Dwayne, patted the horses, and headed down the road - ending just another weekend.