Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We are a steer free family

In other words, Casanova and T-Bone went to freezer camp a few days ago.

I found it ironic- when we bought them, I said I was fine with all of the raising and caring for them, but when it came time for them to be "processed", I didn't want to be there. I was assured by many that I wouldn't need to be, that there were several people who WANTED to be there. I was even urged to schedule it on a Friday so that those with flextime schedules wouldn't have to take off work. When the time came, the only ones there aside from the guys I hired was the ever curious llamas and me.

Despite my tender heart and hippy, pacifist ways (I don't even kill spiders unless they're venomous!), I found the process very fascinating. A significant reason I agreed to raise beef for meat was because I felt it was important to be a conscientious consumer. I believe that we already were significantly more aware and careful than the average American, but this did bring it up a notch for me.

I was very impressed with how quickly, cleanly and efficiently the deed was done. The Butcher used a very old rifle. He shot them both within just a few seconds of each other. I don't think either of them even had time to form the thought that maybe this was not good when the trailer came back into the field. I could tell the trash cans on the side had a very interesting smell to the cows, as they kept sniffing them. While they were investigating that, it was lights out for both.

I won't go into details on the processing here, nor will I show photos. However, if you want to see the few I took, I'm happy to share. I just don't want to upset the sensitive.

I will say that I want the knives the Butchers used. It was amazing to watch how well they worked- they made the infomercial knives cutting through aluminum cans look like plastic sporks.

The other thing I will comment on is how skilled the Butchers were. It is obviously an art form to work so quickly so that the animals don't suffer. Then, to process it out so neatly, yet so fast. Despite myself, I was fascinated.

From our house, the Butcher took the sides to the meat cutting facility of my choice. There, they will hang for a couple weeks to age. Then, they will be cut, wrapped and frozen. I will come and pick them up, and we'll divide it amongst our other owners.

I was disappointed with the size of them. I haven't heard what the hanging weight was, but when it was all said and done, it seemed like a very, very small amount of meat. Butcher said that Casanova was the right size and fattiness for his age/breed, but T-Bone was small. We knew that though. I guess if I'd wanted more meat, I should've 1- bought an Angus, and 2- had it be mama fed for the first few months. Also, grass fed beef does tend to be leaner.

It occurred to me as I type this that I haven't had beef since they were taken to freezer camp 5 days ago. I don't eat a lot of beef, and I don't remember AVOIDING it, so I'm not sure if it's an accident or subconscious avoidance.

My emotions are complicated. It was hard to watch, and it was also a little sad. When I look over the field, and I still obsessively do, making sure they haven't escaped AGAIN, I'm 40% sad, and 60% relieved.

Scratch that, 80% relieved. I always had a mild-moderate amount of anxiety that the cows were going to escape, and cause trouble. Knowing that is never going to happen again (unless I get more cows) is a huge load off my mind.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Remembering a Mother

As you probably know, I am a Realtor. I think my favorite task as a Realtor is showing homes to buyers.

When getting a home ready to show, the traditional advice is to de-personalize the home so that others can imagine themselves in the house, as opposed to feeling like a guest in the home. I have a vivid imagination, so I often try to imagine the people who live(d) in the houses I'm showing. So, while de-personalizing to a certain degree is a good idea, if the home is absolutely occupied, but there's zero hints as to the people living there, it distracts me. I advise my clients that it's ok to have one or two photos on the wall, but that it shouldn't be an overwhelming presence. Just enough for them to see, "Oh, this family just gave birth to their third child. I bet that's why they're moving out of this two bedroom condo".

The other day, I was showing a vacant home. The house had wonderful potential, but was fairly dated. Vacant homes don't drive my imagination crazy like completely impersonal homes, so I just assumed it was an older couple was was scaling down, or possibly had died.

A man surprised us by popping up in the back greenhouse window, causing my client to nearly jump out of her skin. Once he recovered from his amusement, Dennis came in and gave us the tour. He was selling his parents' house. Dad had died 9 years earlier, and Mom had died this past September. As he gave us the tour, he told us about his mother. She seemed like such an amazing person that by the end of the tour, I simultaneously felt like I KNEW her, and mourned her loss, and the fact that I hadn't known her.

In one drawer, she had every owner's manual to everything she'd ever owned. Each sealed in a plastic bag and neatly labeled in her leftie handwriting. There was everything from a circa 1970s range to a twist on faucet regulator.

The yard had been her crown jewel, and she had won yard of the year a few times. Lining the back of the house was a row of mature rose bushes. They were perfectly pruned back, save the last two. The second to last one was partially pruned, and the last one was a bit overgrown. Dennis told us that his mother had fallen while pruning the rose bushes. That fall had caused a lot more internal damage than she realized, and she'd died within a few days. 

He buried her with roses from the remaining, unpruned bush, as well as her gardening gloves and shears. He felt she would've liked that.

He said the family couldn't bear to finish the rosebush job, so there it had stayed.

I'll admit I had noticed the perfectly groomed yard, and thought it was interesting that the rose bushes hadn't been completed. After hearing the story, I was nearly in tears, looking at those roses and knowing the significance and the story behind them.

It was a very interesting showing, and it was nice to remember the people that live in the homes I show.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Winter Hiking

In the past, I've always seen the coming of winter as the end of outdoor adventures outside of sledding until spring came. I still am refusing to run in the snow. A couple reasons: It sounds even WORSE than running in heat, the air quality is so bad that I think I'd be poisoning myself and lastly, I'm afraid of the trail not being groomed.

A couple weeks ago, J brought home some crampons. Stop giggling- they're not what you think. Crampons are those spiky things that you put on the bottom of your boots/shoes to keep you from slipping on the ice. He suggested we go on our favorite hike- to Adams Canyon. It was 12 degrees, and I'd donated blood the day before, so OF COURSE I said that I'd be happy to go.

It ended up being much funner and warmer than I anticipated. The views were spectacular, and quite different from the summer/fall views. I had trouble with my crampons though- they were a ladies' size 6-10, and it turns out they're closer to the 10 side than the 6 side.

Last weekend, J went to the outdoor retailer show, and he bought us higher quality crampons. Mine were sized ladies' 5-7, and this time, I had zero trouble with them. They were really handy.  The second hike, we went on the Malan's Basin trail. We didn't go all the way back to the basin- most people are stopping at the look at the view from Malan's Peak (I think that's what it's called, but I'm not sure). M came with us.


We signed S & Z up for Jr Jazz Basketball through our city's rec department. It's really a great deal- we pay around $50 per kid, and that includes playing games/practices twice a week for a couple months, a jersey (not fancy, but it's still a jersey!), and two tickets to a Jazz game. We bought a couple extra tickets to the basketball game (Jazz vs Chicago Bulls) so that we could go as a family. At the last second, we got an extra ticket, so we took our nephew along. The kids all had a blast, and the Jazz won, which was exciting.

The kids play their last games tonight. I think they're sad about it. They've had such a wonderful time, and have made pretty dramatic improvement. I don't think either of them are going to play professional ball, but they had a lot of fun, and that's what really matters. S really has great hustle, and she's truly a joy to watch. We've actually had other parents approach us and say how amazed they are at how quick and tenacious she is. It's really pretty amazing to watch because she is so much smaller than most of the other girls.

While Z has a good time, he tends to drift off into his own world, which can actually be more entertaining than watching truly excellent playing.

Recap of the end of 2013

It's ironic: The more that I have interesting things to blog about, the less time I have to ACTUALLY write about them.  At this point, I'm going to give up on actually telling everything that's happened the last couple months, and just to to recap. In addition, I'll add "blog more in 2014" to my resolution list.

Z became a Tiger Cub Scout. I think he's really enjoyed going to meetings. He got his Bobcat Award.

K went to homecoming with her boyfriend.

For Halloween, Z was a ghoul of some sort, S was a fairy (I sewed the costume, thank you very much!), M was Jack Frost (I attempted to do the frost design on his hoodie) and K fell back on her Super Girl costume. J and I dressed up as meth addicts.

I got my own office (admittedly, that happened at the tail end of 2012). 2013 was my best year yet. I hope that 2014 will be even better. I'm wanting to paint the walls, and make my office look like I actually have decorating taste.

In Dec., S participated in the third grade economics fair. She chose to make bath bombs, which were a hit!

We have said for a while that we wanted to move to a bigger home. A couple things had to happen first. First off, we had to pay off all debt other than our mortgage. We accomplished this goal this past summer, which was an incredible achievement for us. Secondly, the cows had to go to freezer camp.  Freezer camp day has been set: February 21. So now, we're starting to really focus on things we need to do to get the house ready for sale. One of the big things is to remove the remaining popcorn on the ceilings, and retexture the kitchen ceiling so that it matches the front room.

Z watching daddy scrape the popcorn. Yes, that is a witch hat

We also need to do some major de-cluttering, as well as some painting. I think we may need to replace the carpet in our room and S & Z's bedroom. The idea of getting a house that fits us sounds unbelievably wonderful.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Cow Update

I don't post about them as much now, but I'm still the reluctant owner of cows. 

TBone earned a stay in execution for both of our steers. He's just too small to send to freezer camp this week, as I'd originally planned.  I was deeply disappointed, because feeding and watering livestock in the wintertime is not nearly as much fun as it sounds (yes, I fully understand it does not sound like a good time. Trust me, it's not!).

We got quite a bit of hay (I think around 125ish bales?) and started to hunker in.

It's been a rough month or two because Tbone has also started his escape act again. For several days (of course when J is out of town), he'd get into the pasture to the south of us.  We re-did the barb wire and things have been going well.

Today, we struck a deal with the neighbor to the south. We'll open up the pasture so their llamas and our cows will have free reign of both properties.  We'll be able to water everyone from their barn (and their heated hose and NOT have to haul 25+ gallons of water a day to the pasture... YIPPEE!!!!), and we'll share our hay with the llamas. They plan to rehome the llamas soon, but are contemplating a steer. Having buddies will be good for their steer, so it's a win-win all around.

llamas on our side, cows on theirs
So, this morning J and I opened up the gate in the pasture. The llamas were very quick to go to our side to play. The cows were a little more cautious, but as we backed off, they went to investigate. When they saw us walking back, they ran to our side of the field. I think this PROVES they knew that escape was naughty.

For the rest of the day, the llamas were literally running all over our field, and the cows were grazing around in the other field. I guess the grass really is greener on the other side.

As a side note, as we were walking the fenceline, checking to make sure all was intact, we scared up a beautiful pheasant. I wish I'd gotten a photo of it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Help, I'm stuck!!!

Do you remember the scene from "A Christmas Story" when Flick sticks his tongue to the flagpole and gets stuck?  It was always one of the funniest, yet most awful scenes of the movie.

Today when I picked up the kids from school, S got in the car first. I asked how her day was, and she said emphatically, "It was TERRIBLE!!"

I was really surprised because she generally loves school and always has great days. I asked her why, and she said that Z got stuck on the playground today. What?!

Evidently, they have their last recess at the same time. Z was climbing around on the playground equipment and got his ring finger stuck in a hole on a metal bar. Said metal bar was about 5.5 feet off the ground, and his finger went all the way through (there were holes on either side), but then it wouldn't come out. He was trapped there, standing on a rope with his finger firmly stuck.  A classmate got a recess duty who came right over.  Recess duty couldn't do anything.  The second recess duty came over. She was equally flummoxed.

About this time, the predicament started to get a lot of attention, including S. S is a sensitive type, and was really, really upset. She was on the ground crying over Z being stuck.  About that moment, the bell rang.

The kids scattered and went to class, leaving the two aids with Z.

Z's classmates went inside and told her teachers. Because she couldn't leave the class alone, she brought the whole class out there to the playground, so she could check out the situation.

the hole involved, with a penny for reference
Finally, someone brought out some lotion or soap out and got him all slipped up, and he was finally able to slip his finger free.  Ms V (Z's teacher) knew that S was really upset, so she had him go see her in class so S would know he was free and ok. I thought that was very thoughtful of Ms. V.

Z was pretty stoic and casual about it, and seemed much less traumatized than S. All's well that ends well, though I hope that they do something to fill that hole. I'm a little surprised it's never been a problem before, and while Z was none the worse for wear, the potential for significant injury is big, I think.

Once J got home from work, we took Z back to school so that he could show us exactly how he could get stuck on the playground. I thought they were fairly fail-safe.  Shows how brilliant (?) my kids are.

Z has been pretty casual about the whole thing, though this evening, he admitted that he was afraid that he was going to be stuck there forever.