Temple Grandin~Livestock and Autism

I have long been a fan of an article written by Temple Grandin entitled Preventing Bull Accidents. The article can be viewed here.

Recently, a friend sent me an email and opened my eyes to the life and works of Dr. Grandin. I really should take the time to study them in detail. Dr. Grandin is a fascinating individual whose struggles with autism have enabled her to have insight in to the way livestock reacts to sensory stimulation. Here you can read her article Can Autism Help Explain Animal Behavior.

If you get the chance, listen to this live interview on NPR. It's lengthy but fascinating.



Celebrating Life and Love

Nineteen years ago today, in Fairbanks, Alaska I gave birth to my son, Joshua Marlin. He was born on his grandpa's birthday and named after two of his great grandfathers.

Today I celebrate the 18 years that I had him to love and hold here on this earth. He was a beautiful, thoughtful and precious child who was about as perfect as any child could be. He was the baby who would nurse and then go to sleep quietly sucking his thumb. He was the child who would sit and observe quietly while the rest of the world went crazy all around him. He was the child who snuggled and cuddled and gave me kisses and hugs. He was the child who sought out the children who needed special attention and became their friend. He was the child whose greatest joy was to spend time with family and who was always there when a friend needed a listening ear.

Today is Josh's birthday. It’s the first one I am spending without him and the first one that he is spending in heaven. Keeping it real, I have to say that this is the hardest day I have had to face since his death. And yet, I want to celebrate. I want to celebrate the blessings that he brought (and still brings) to me.

Last night, I just about lost it because I didn't feel that I could even face this day without him. I cried and I asked for a sign that I could hold onto. Maybe I was wrong to do that, but I needed some comfort. After I had prayed that prayer for comfort, a gentle rain began to fall. Rain has become a symbol to me of Josh's presence. As the rain fell gently down, I felt Josh's presence once again and was comforted in the fact that one day, I will once again walk with him in the rain as we use to do together when he was a child. It was a practice he continued even as a young adult and in my mind’s eye, I can see him dancing in the rain in heaven.

Hug and kiss your children today or call them and tell them that you love them. Celebrate life and love...................it's Josh's birthday! Should you get the chance................learn to dance in the rain. It is a beautiful thing.


Hope Remembered

Meet "T Cupp's Hope Remembered".

It's a big name for a little girl, but she is fast growing up to fit her name. Her face looks just like her momma's did when she was that age. Her attitude? She's independent and fearless, just like Hope. Today as I held her close to my face she began to lick my face and give me kisses. Hope was always giving kisses. Yes, this little girl is my little Hope Remembered. No, she will never take her momma's place in my heart. She has, however, already found out that there is room for her to have her very own place in my heart.


Ten Months

It has been ten months to the day since Josh left this world. Even when I try not to think about it, I find that subconsciously, the 16th of every month always weighs heavy on my mind. I have found that it is better to face it with acknowledgement, rather than try to pretend that it hold no significance.

I really am ok. I hurt so badly but God has given me the strength to face each day knowing that He is holding my hand. Life has not stopped for me even with the pain, and I contribute that to God's grace and to the fact that I have faced things head on each step of the way. Rather than try to hide from the pain with sedatives or other forms of medication or alcohol, I have faced each wave of pain and let it wash over me. It's like the tide coming in and going out. Sometimes the waves come fast, and it's all I can do to stand up against the tide. Other times, the ocean of pain is still, and I can look out and observe the beauty on the horizon. That horizon truly is beautiful for there is no pain, suffering or separation on that horizon.

So, I face this day...........the 16th............with strength and hope that someday I will see my precious baby again. I will never stop missing him and the pain will never truly subside, but each month I face that tide, I become stronger.
(Picture of Josh in Haines, Alaska)


Need a Bigger Crib!

The pups are growing and needed more room. They have graduated to a bigger crib!

In a Pickle!

It has been so long since there was a "normal" day around here that I don't know if I would even recognize one if it came along! How does life get so crazy? Ok, don't answer that because I am sure the answer would involve "downsizing" and spending less time with my animals!

Mike brought home about a bushel of cucumbers and Wednesday evening I started working on them around 9 pm. I finally got them all sliced, the onions sliced, added the salt and garlic and covered them with two inches of crushed ice. Everyone has always raved about my Bread and Butter pickles and I just can't keep enough jars on hand!

Thursday morning I was feeling pretty good about the fact that I had the puppies fed at 4 am and then the cows milked at 6am and I was moving right along with my day. Well that all came to a screeching halt. I am really not quite sure how it happened but somewhere between getting the milk out to the shareholders who were picking it up, feeding the pups, and life in general the morning got away from me. I finally got back to making my pickles only to have the brine boil up and over the top of the pot and all over the top of my flat top stove. The brine erupted like a volcanoe and the vinegar and sugar mix heavy with mustard seeds covered the stove top and ran down instantly onto the floor. I tried to grab the pot but with the boiling mass rolling over the sides, I could not grab it without scalding myself. I knew Mike was outside and I started yelling for him about the time the mixture on the stove top burst into flames. Somehow, he managed to move the pot without scalding himself and the flames died down without any further effort on our part to put them out. I was pretty overwhelmed at this point and an hour past due feeding the pups, so I just left everything and went to feed the babies. After listening to the disfuctional stories on Judge Joe Brown and Judge Judy (something I never did in the middle of the day before "the babies" arrived) , changing soiled blankets and putting my babies back to bed, I headed upstairs to clean up my mess. What a mess it was! I scrubbed for an hour on my stove top and finally at least got it to the point that I could use it again, although all the trauma left permanent scars on the finish. Finally, almost 24 hours after I began the process, I finally had twelve jars of Bread and Butter pickles to show for it all!

Bread and Butter Pickles

4 quarts of sliced cucumbers
8 medium white onions sliced
1/3 cup pickling salt
3 cloves of garlic halved
Cracked ice
4 cups sugar
3 cups cider vinegar
2 tbs mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp celery seed

In a 8 quart stainless steel bowl combine first four ingredients and cover with two inches of cracked ice. Cover with lid and refrigerate for 3-12 hours. Remove any remaining ice. Drain well in a large colander. Remove garlic.

In a kettle combine the rest of the ingredients. Heat to boiling. Add cucumber mixture.

Pack hot cucumber mixture and liquid into hot strilized pint canning jars leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Process for 10 minutes.


Tale of the Missing Pup

I needed to take the pups to the vet yesterday. A couple of them were having constipation issues and the vet said just to bring the whole litter in for her to check. They were going to work me in and I needed to be there around noon. I was frantically running around the house trying to get things done and answer the phone, etc. Right as I was getting ready to go out the door, the phone rang yet again. I made the conversation as short as possible and then grabbed up the puppies and drove to the clinic. When I got there, we were met by the front desk girls who had fallen in love with Hope and wanted to see the babies. As everyone gathered around, we looked in the box and someone said "How many are there?" I said seven but as I said it realized there were only six in the box. I began a frantic search through the blankets looking for the missing puppy to no avail. I tried to act calm and laugh it off as I told the girls I would be back because I had to go find my other puppy. I drove the 15-20 minutes home in record time with all kinds of crazy thoughts running through my head. In my sleep deprived state I could just imagine the most terrible things happening. I called Mike and said, "I can't find one of the puppies. What if I washed it?"

"What if you washed it?", he said. "What does that mean?"

The fear and panic were coming out as I stated, "I washed the blankets they were sleeping in. What if I didn't realize it and sent the puppy through the washer and dryer.?"

I think the fear in my voice must have caused Mike to worry a little too. He was at the produce stand when I called and all the folks buying produce heard this conversation and all began to worry that the puppy had met it's fate in the washing machine.

I started saying, "I am such a bad puppy momma! I am a murderer! What I have I done?"

In total hysteria I somehow made it home just seconds before Mike and ran into the house so frightened by what I might find. I ran to the box where the pups sleep next to my recliner and threw back the blanket and there in the corner was one little puppy sound asleep. He never even knew his litter mates had been taken away.

I scooped him up giving him kisses and and saying "Oh, thank you God!" As I hurried out the door with him I ran into Mike who said, "Where was he?" I just smiled and said, "Right where I left him!"

Arriving back at the clinic, the pups once again had celebrity status. The techs who had assisted in their birth all had to come and see them and the folks waiting out front all had to gather around and "ooh" and "ahhh" over them.

The pups were all given an exam by the vet who declared them extremely healthy and growing well. She said she could not believe that I had not lost any of them. I couldn't quite find the words to say to her that all the positive thoughts and prayers sent out by so many are the real reason that the pups are thriving, as well as the sacrifices made by my husband who has taken on more of a load so that I could feed the pups around the clock.

The vet said that I could skip the middle of the night feedings now, so I actually get five hours of sleep at a time now! She said I can begin feeding them solid foods in about another week and decrease the bottle time even more.

It won't be long and the little ones will be running around getting into everything and making even an even bigger mess!


Hope's Pups

Here are my beautiful babies. I love them each so much! I don't know how I am ever going to be able to let them go to new homes!

Things are better!

Things have begun looking up around here. Although I am exhausted from the round the clock feedings with the pups, I am at least in a routine. Cookie, the Dutch Belted Cow, is also getting into a routine and most of the time, appears when it is milking time! She also is doing better at keeping track of her calf.

We are waiting on Nelly, the Jersey heifer, to calve. I expected her to calve in June, but here it is July and still no baby. The calendar says a full moon on the 7th. Perhaps she will have it then.



My life just gets crazier and I am beginning to wonder just how much one person can take!

Here is a post that I wrote on a forum I frequent about my day yesterday:

I should be using what little energy I have left to freeze green beans and squash and pick up the house before my share members get here to pick up their milk.

I am exhausted from feeding the puppies night and day and I am not even sure what day it is at this point. I am so very thankful that they are doing very well. A
minor set back has been that about half of them are very constipated and I am waiting for the clinic to open to call them and see what they suggest. I was doing well wiping their little hineys but last night they started to get stopped up. Then someone must have "blown" later because when I removed the blanket to feed them around midnight, they were stinking and had yellow poop all over the lot of them. I gave them a "sponge" bath to try to get the worse off. I still have about four out of the seven that are constipated and wiping them has turned into a very gross, drawn out routine to try to extract the poop plugs from their behinds! (Sorry if that was too graphic, I am too tired to be diplomatic! )

After the last feeding, Mike and I went out to milk the cows. Should be routine right? Not! Cookie is being a pain in the butt! She is fine when we get her into the stanchion and is easy to milk, but getting her there is unreal! She is not use to having this much space and we have had her in a smaller area for a few days but then turned her out so that she could graze. She leaves her baby and then can't remember where she left him. She will bawl like crazy for him but can't find him. I have to go out several times a day and reunite them. Sometimes she acts like she doesn't care one thing about him but if I pen him up then she goes crazy because she wants him out with her so she can promptly lose him again. I would just bottle feed him, but would like to keep him or sell him as a bull, so I don't really want to handle and bottle feed him. Besides, I am feeding too many bottles right now as it is!

Anyway, Cookie goes to the farthest field away from the house and DH wants it left open because he wants the cows to eat on that field, so I can't shut it off. All the other cows line up and wait to be milked but not Cookie. Cookie doesn't come when I call. She is not lead trained and is to big to push or pull. She is a huge cow. No problem for us normally because we don't need cows to be lead trained with our set up BUT they all are interested in being milked. I don't think Cookie is trying to be difficult. She just acts like she doesn't get it. I swear the Dutch Belted in her makes her stupid! All my Jerseys are just so smart and Cookie just seems so oblivious to everything. She is a good, sweet cow but she just doesn't get it! Not the baby thing or the stanchion thing! In her defense, she was a dairy cow for most of her life and never raised a baby and then when Elissa owned her, she did not have a huge area to roam like she does here. Also she was tied up outside and hand milked at Elissa's. I would think though that she would be smart enough to remember what a stanchion is since she is a former dairy cow!

The good news is that Cookie is an easy milker and is already giving five gallons a day with a calf on her. I can't imagine what she is going to do at her peak. Her milk seems to be more homogenized, which would also be a Dutch Belted trait. Of course, she could just be holding up the cream for the baby she can't keep track of!

So, I have to go to the far corners of the property to get Cookie and we don't own a four wheeler, so it's on foot. I get there and she won't come. So, I put a halter on the calf and start to force him up the hill. We have hills in Virginia and I was already running on empty but forcing that calf up the hill from the far corners of the property really did me in! Cookie acted like she wasn't even going to follow, but finally she did.

Add to the mix the fact that Princess is in heat today. Princess has loud, obnoxious, crazy heats and all the cows were trying to ride her. Princess is small (half mini) and these huge cows including pregnant Nelly are riding her and I swear they are going to smash her into the ground. Nelly gets her leg hung around Princess neck and I am freaking out. (Still trying to get Cookie and bull calf up the hill.)

Princess decides I look like a great person to follow so she follows me up the hill. When I finally arrive Mike is not quite finished milking Mayfield and I tie Red Bull (what I have been calling the calf) to a post. He is fighting the post but I know that Cookie probably won't stray to far if I leave him tied. I figure it's a good time to break him. We usually don't break our bull calves to lead but I am thinking it might be a good idea with this one because if I can control him, maybe I can get his momma to figure things out!

Mike doesn't really care to see a calf that young being tied and he was not happy with my arrangment. He comes from old school where they just run free with their momma and he is telling me the calf will hate me forever and be wild because I am tying him up. I don't have time to even think about what he is saying because we have milk to get up to the frig and we now have to make two trips because I can't get it all in the Surge with just one trip. Mike takes off to get the milk to the house and I turn around to see Cookie (VERY, VERY BIG) riding Princess (VERY, VERY SMALL) and they become a tangled mess where Red Bull is tied. Princess becomes tangled in Red Bull's lead rope and he has a look on his face of "Oh my gosh, I'm gonna die! She's choking me to death!". I have no choice but to turn Red Bull off the lead and untangle them all.

A few choice expletives are now spewing from my mouth. Hey, at least I was angry and not crying! I didn't have time to end up a blubbering mess!

Cookie promptly takes Red Bull and goes to the OTHER end of the property! Mike retrieves her this time.

I start milking Cookie but leave Mike to finish as I decide that Princess is going into solitary today for her own well being and my sanity. So, I put her in the back field and have to haul water to her and get the gate put across. There she remains bawling her head off and looking for love!


Mike came home last night and said that our new bull is limping badly. We assume that he got into a fight with the other bull or extended himself with too much romance, but it doesn't look to good right now. This is a registered, Angus bull that we have owned for about a month.

In addition, the produce stand is doing almost no business this year and we just don't understand. We have been booming in years past and now we have days when only a couple of people will show up.

Our baler broke last week and my FIL who can fix anything couldn't figure it out. A man came out from the company to repair it and has been out three or four times and can't figure out what is wrong. They were able to rig something so that they can use it now, but it's still not fixed and they have to take extra steps while baling in order to use it.

My FIL also found out that they won't accept wheat locally now and had to sign a contract with someone out of Texas for his wheat and has to haul it further for pick-up to be shipped out of state.

This morning Cookie did pretty good coming in to be milked (last night I milked by myself and tied her calf up by the stanchion while I milked. I am not sure how Mike got her in this morning as I was not out there when he started milking.) Anyway, Cookie has diarrhea today and we don't know why. She was fine yesterday and has diarrhea today. So, that has got me worried.

In addition, something is wrong with Midnight. She is limping very badly. Mike thinks one of the other cows injured her. It is in her right front shoulder. Mike was going to give her a shot for the pain and she was not tied good and got loose and then we could not catch her. He had to go to the other farm, so I spent 30 minutes trying to get ahold of her. I finally got her close to a tree and grabbed the lead and tied her up. When I calm down and she calms down, I will try to move her to the barn.

Right now, if someone were to offer me a price for all my animals excluding my dogs and my miniature cattle, I would sell them everyone!