Sunday, February 22, 2009



As usual, my "Christmas" letter is just a bit tardy, again this year! I have been searching for the perfect day of inspiration to be productive, but it has taken several months! There are many irons in the fire these days and my favorite time of day has shifted from crawling into bed after a long, busy day to waking at 3:45am to bottle feed our baby colt (Hershey) and Gus, our bull calf. A local cowboy friend gave both of them to me - their mothers had abandoned them after birth. In the past month, they have become a special part of our lives! Following the 4am feeding, I have found the time to get the laundry done, correct the last few papers and actually sit down to hear what's happening in the world, before I wake the boys for school. Dyke, of course, is incoherent and deep in his REM sleep while all of this is happening!

We made a 5-day trip to the Rio Grande country during Spring Break with 3 other game wardens and their kids! We camped out (Dyke's aunt's rustic cabin) right on the Rio and gazed into the hills of the Chihuahuan Desert in Old Mexico each day. It was SPECTACULAR! We explored some ancient Indian caves, canoed the Rio Grande and saw some gorgeous desert country! We can't wait to head back there soon! It was in the same country that the set of Lonesome Dove was filmed in! You know I was eatin' it up while I pretended to be a pioneer and think about what it would have been like around there hundreds of years ago. The caves were incredible and dated back as far as 10,000 years ago! The kids caught a 100 lb alligator gar in the Rio! Talk about PREHISTORIC!!! We all had such a blast! Dyke's brother even caught a rattlesnake,WITH HIS HANDS, so we could get a closer view! He likes life on the edge more than we do!

It was Jake's first year in 4H and he raised chickens. He started with 50 birds, and ended up with about 45. He woke up each morning at 5:45 to feed and water them and then got ready for school. It all paid off as he made the show (red ribbon) and sold them (3 of his best hens) at auction for $ 900.00!!! I wish they had an adult division...I could use the $900.00!!! He was involved in gymnastics for a few months before baseball and 4H got started and really enjoyed it! He received a trophy at the Christmas show, so we were all very proud of him! During the Country Fair and PRCA Rodeo, he was selected to participate in the calf scramble on one of the rodeo nights. He worked hard to catch a calf, but wasn't able to get one. Maybe next year! He has enjoyed his 3rd grade year and looks forward to 4th grade at my campus.

Zacky was chosen to ride in the Mutton Bustin' at the Country Fair and Rodeo. He rode "Baaaaad Bubba". For those Yanks who aren't up on the rodeo lingo, mutton bustin' is when the younger "cowpokes" ride a sheep in a timed event. With #9 pinned to his back, and a crash helmet, he was off at a dead run once the gate was slung open! He rode all the way to the center of the arena and then slid off its neck and kinda got trampled...The place was packed with spectators from all over and you could hear a big "Awww..." in symphony from the crowds! The Fair Queens and cowgirls ran over, scooped him up and wiped his tears - he loved that part, I think! The trophy at the end of the made it all worth it! YEE-HAW!! He is enjoying his daycare school and is doing well. He has to wait 1 more year before kindergarten due to his late birthday. He will be a HOSS compared to the other boys! Dyke was the same way and recalls having to stand by the wall during most recesses because he would wrestle the boys and squish the stuffing out of them! I can see it coming with Zacky too! No guts, no glory with him!

Dyke's work is still an adventure for him, as I 'spect it always will be. Shrimping season starts soon, so things will get very busy for him. It has been somewhat low-key as he hasn't brought too many gators or snakes home lately; although we caught 2 good sized ones in the pond this Fall! He continues to pester and play pranks on the local policemen by putting 'possums, snakes and other critters in their patrol cars. They retaliate by greasing his door handle, but I don't think they realize who they are messin' with!A little grease on his handle isn't going to do much to stop him and will probably just "egg 'im on". In clarification, for those PETA supporters, the wildlife is not at all harmed and are quickly returned to their habitats when the prank is complete...

His anual elk hunt to Colorado was wonderful, but unsuccessful for him this year. He said it was the closest that he has ever been to death before. They found themselves VERY REMOTE and without water. Pretty serious dehydration set in with swelling tongues and throats, so it got the adrenalin pumping in his old body. He loves a good challenge - especially if survival is involved - but he definitely wants sympathy when he gives his account of what happened.

He is perfecting his dog training skills and is VERY GOOD! He could be making some serious cash if he wasn't so humble!

I am still juggling an assortment of animals down on the farm - Dyke calls it the Misfit Farm. Sometimes I wonder how I get myself into these things. Our turkey flock has grown to 25 and they took to wanderin' once Spring hit. The last we heard, they were sighted near the next town. Haven't had a report in a few months, so I imagine they are taking up space in someone's freezer or belly by now. Only 2 gobblers remain here at the barn - a crippled one and one of the older ones. They come up for corn each night. I gutted and plucked one of the bigger TOMS for Thanksgiving supper this year. Dyke was into eating an organic bird, but didn't want anything to do with processing it. So, the boys and I had a good anatomy lesson down by the creek - removing the organs and taking about their function before we tossed it in the creek to feed the gators. Education can't get any better than that! I suggested that we each take a bite of the heart, like the Indians did, but that didn't go over too well with the boys. I just couldn't seem to convince them!

I raised an orphan squab (baby pigeon) who we called Homer. He lived on soggy oatmeal for several weeks and now he is a permanent resident of the barn rafters. He thinks he is a turkey, as those were the only bird role models that he imprinted on when he was young. It is hysterical to watch him go around with the flock, walking along side of them while they peck and scratch in the pasture. With the flock gone, he stays pretty close to home these days. The 2 turkeys that are still around don't have much patience with him!

We are down to only 7 pheasants and 7 chickens.

The nanny goats just had another batch, and the babies are off to a new home already, but as the Billy would have it, the nannies are bred again! Geeze, just like a man, eh?

Hershey and Gus are very time consuming with the bottle-feeding every 4 hours or so, but they should be on pellets soon, so that will relieve things a bit.

Sloppy Joe and T-Bone are really getting thick and have some beautiful long horns already!

I was in a Houston Hospital for 4 days following emergency knee surgery! It is a pretty strange story! To cut it short and sweet, my rooster spurred me in the knee and caused an AGRESSIVE INFECTION! About 1 hour after it happened, my knee was triple the normal size and so still that I could not walk. I fainted 4 times, I am told, from the pain. Dyke took me to the ER that night and after a tetanus shot and some Demerol, I was in better shape, but had to wait it out Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, I went to the clininc here so a doctor could drain it. Usual knee fluid is about 6cc of clearish-yellow fluid. He stuck the needle in and removed 75cc of THICK, MOTOR OIL type liquid!! It was N-A-S-T-Y! He immediately called an ortho-surgeon in Houston and the guy said, "Have her here for surgery at 6:30 tonight!" So, my bottle-fed babies, as well as the boys went to stay with 2 different cowboy friends. Dyke and I were off to Houston! Four holes were drilled around my knee as the inner bone needed to be scraped due to a bacteria created enzyme that eats cartilage. Then, they flushed it with antibiotics and let it drain. Finally after a 4-day stay, with my crutches and an I.V. still in place, I was liberated! I had to give myself daily antibiotics through my I.V. and it took about an hour to feed through. I had a small tube that was inserted in my arm at the elbow and ran clear up to my shoulder (in the vein). There was a port that I administered the meds through...I liked it because it reminded me of working cattle - ya know....syringes and medicine!

The rooster has not made it to the pot yet, and probably won't but I have a great pair of SPUR EARRINGS that I made after Dyke sawed the spurs off! I plan to wear them to my "Survivor" interview - if I make it that far! I hope I get chosen...2.5 months in some remote place surviving on rice and worms, where my hair falls out in clumps while I lose 35 pounds...that's right up my alley! I have to make a 3 minute video with my application and was planning to make a clip next time I castrate....I think they'd pick me if I ate the testicles raw, don't you? While I was in the hospital, I asked my infectious disease doctor (who better to ask?) if it would be too dangerous to eat a raw testicle. After he recovered from the shock of the bizarre question, picked his jaw up off the floor and asked who's testicle I was interesting in eating...he strongly stated that he just couldn't give me permission to do that and that he certainly would not recommend it! NO LIABILITY ON HIS PART! It's probably because he is a young, city lad. He didn't even know what a rooster SPUR was! I am going to get a 3rd opinion because my OB/GYN doctor is a rancher, didn't seem to think it would be "that bad", as long as the knife and my hands were clean and it went straight from the "sack" to my mouth! I am still searching for the answer that I want! We will just have to see. With my knee like this, I am already having to miss some upcoming cattle work, so I guess it will just have to wait until we cut calves again next year! Hopefully by then, I would have found someone in the medical profession who would support my idea.

Dyke and I head to Cozumel (Mexico) this summer for 4 nights - a much needed escape from the rat race. I am so excited and his excitement is slowly growing...this is a humungo change for him...He is definitely not the tropical island, beach bum, drinking exotic drinks in coconut cups with little pink umbrellas type o' guy! Opportunity for change is good...right? I don't think I can get him to the coconut drink stage yet, but snorkeling and exploring the island might just work! His romantic get-away idea was to be dropped off by a bush plane in the most remote part of the Canadian Arctic to hunt off the land...and fight off the Grizzlies! I was up for it, but unfortunately, it isn't caribou season and with a bum leg, it might be a tad dangerous, so we put that idea on the back burner. Maybe next year...unless I have contracted "testiclitis" by then!

Well, hope all of you are living each day to its fullest! The gate is always open, so come visit for a spell! We love you!

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