Spring Dew

Spring Dew

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

A Map to Zoo Fun: A Book for Kinley & Brooke

 

It was a roaring good time!

We met Jill and the girls at the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita on March 5, the first day of their spring break. The last time we were there, Kinley was just a toddler, and Brooke hadn't made her appearance in the world yet. (Kinley was the reporter for the day on the blog post here.)

I've written several books for the girls through the years. I did the first version of a farm ABC book while Jill was still pregnant with Kinley and gave it to her at a shower. I added a farm counting book to the mix a few years later. 

But I've also done several books based on day trips we've taken together - to Rolling Hills Refuge near Salina, to Exploration Place at Wichita, to a horse farm and the Sternberg Museum at Hays, Tanganyika Wildlife Park and the Kansas State Fair. I've also done a couple from their visits to the farm, including wheat harvest and a solo visit from Brooke when Kinley was with her Ladd grandparents and cousin. When I started digging through the book shelves, I discovered 9 books! Most of them are done in rhyme, and all feature my photography.


When we were in Topeka at Easter time, Brooke brought me a couple of "our" books to read - the farm counting book and Zoobilation, a book from our Rolling Hills Zoo visit. She made my day!

As she cuddled on my lap, she asked, "Grandma, are you going to write a book about the Wichita zoo?"

Well, at the time, it wasn't in the works. I'd been in charge of a 100-year celebration for my PEO group, and I'd done a 26-page book for that, too. 

Cover of the PEO book
 

March also brought several extra days of cattle work. But how could I refuse that request? I'd certainly taken plenty of photos. And when a little girl asks so beseechingly right after wanting to read together? It didn't take much convincing!

So, a week or so later, I hit "publish" on A Zoo Map to Fun with Kinley & Brooke. In addition to my verses, I added some facts from the Sedgwick County Zoo website. The girls love the behind-the-scenes TV shows about zoos and the people who care for the animals, and I figured a few facts might make it more interesting for Kinley, too. (She also reads the National Geographic Junior magazine cover to cover.)

To read the 20 pages, you'll probably have to pull up each photo separately. It shows each individual page. The completed book hasn't arrived yet. I can hardly wait to share it with the girls!

Front cover


 

 

 

 








Back cover


Thursday, April 15, 2021

Calendar Girl

 
This trio of calves was my March "centerfold" on this year's family birthday calendar.

It was one of my favorite baby calf photos of last year. And when family members were thumbing through the calendars at Christmastime, they invariably commented on these cute little faces. These portraits also ended up on notecards.

I'd been looking for "my little calendar girl" on the right this winter. With her unusual markings, I wanted to see how she looked now that she's all grown up. 
 
Here she is in the heifer lot earlier this winter, awaiting my daily delivery of silage to the bunks. 

And here she was in the working chute. On Tuesday, No. 87 - along with 24 of her "friends" - began the next step toward motherhood.  It had me singing Neil Sedaka's "Calendar Girl" in my head.
 
Calendar Girl 
by Neil Sedaka
I love, I love, I love my calendar girl
Yeah, sweet calendar girl
I love, I love, I love my calendar girl
Each and every day of the year

Babies are always special. My "baby" will turn 33 this year. (Not sure how that happened so fast.) And it's now been a decade since we first learned we'd be grandparents. 

(This was Kinley's first "photo" on Kim's County Line.)

So why is No. 87 the one who caught my eye? Her buddies were equally cute as babies. But her distinctive facial markings had me looking for her this winter - just to see if I could find her among the crowd at the bunks when I fed every day. (She didn't have the eartag when I took the photo, so I was trying to match facial features while running the auger on the feed truck, getting it positioned, etc.)

 

It's "birds and bees" time on our Kansas farm. On Tuesday, No. 87 and her fellow heifers went through the working chute in preparation for this season of "love," or, more accurately, lust.

As I wrote earlier this week, the bulls had their doctor's appointments with Veterinarian Bruce Figger to make sure they were ready to fulfill their job description here on the County Line. But the bulls aren't the only factor in the "birds and bees" of a Kansas cattleman. The heifers who will become first-time mothers next winter also have been getting some extra care.

Because they require some additional attention for calving, we want to get the first-time mothers to come into estrus (or heat) at the same time. It gets the heifers' reproductive cycles "in sync" to shorten the calving season for the heifers, which saves labor at calving time. (Well, it saves some labor for the humans - not the mama cows.) We check them frequently in case they are having trouble calving.

This year's OB/GYN candidates were born in early 2020. In 2022, they will become mothers for the first time. 

Beginning March 11, our 25 yearling heifers had their silage topped with MGA. MGA is melengestrol acetate, which suppresses the ovulation cycle for the heifers.

 

 For 14 days, Randy added the MGA to the silage and fed the equivalent of 1/2 a pound per head per day.

Then, on April 13, we ran the heifers through the working chute to give them a shot of of Lutalyse, which makes them come into heat.

Here's No. 87 as she's arriving for her "appointment."

They also get a vaccine to prevent respiratory issues and diarrhea when in the chute, but the Lutalyse is part of the "birds and bees" equation.

We also used a pour-on insecticide to guard against lice and other critters.

When I opened Facebook Wednesday morning, guess whose face was staring at me as a Facebook memory? Yep, it was my March calendar girl and friends. It was a year ago that I first published No. 87's photo on Kim's County Line with this blog post, Social Distancing in the Cattle Lot.

Out of curiosity, I looked to see if I recognized any other of the babies from that year-old blog post.

No. 80 (who looks like she was playing hide and seek on Tuesday) was also part of the 2020 blog post. Here she was a year ago:

March 2020

 And lo and behold, there was another one. No. 75 now ...

... and then.

March 2020

And here's No. 54 in March of last year, waiting her turn in the lane before entering the calf cradle working chute.

No. 50 - who was in the photo with No. 87 near the top of the post as they were waiting for breakfast - was also in the March 2020 "social distancing" post. (Look at those eye lashes!)

 
I knew I had a photo of No. 01, since she would have been the second calf born last year.
February 2020
It was a trip down memory lane. And it's one of the rewarding things about operating a cow-calf operation. The girl babies sometimes become part of our herd after they are all grown up. And we get to watch them have babies and continue the cycle as the years pass.


After their shots, we turned them out into the lot with the bulls where we let nature take its course, so to speak.  


"Hey, ladies! Welcome to the neighborhood!" a couple of the bulls appear to say.

Maybe they are finding their "calendar girl" right about now, too!