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Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Boy Is Becoming A Man

Today is Drewman's 18th Birthday!
Drewman was born at 4:58pm, September 29, 1995.
He weighed 7lbs 11oz and was 22 inches long.
Within a few hours of birth, Drewman's doctor found a problem.
The doctor heard a heart mummer.
Immediately, Drewman was connected to Children's Hospital for monitoring.
There were lines running everywhere.
Nurses doing constant monitoring of him.
Drewman was never placed into ICU.
He was allowed to stay with me during the entire monitoring process.
I will never forget the day my Sissy and her two girls came to visit.
Her girls were mesmerized by all the wires connected to my newborn.
They had tons of questions, some of which I hadn't considered asking.
I wish I had the photo of the three of them, that day.
Drewman was connected to the monitors, lying on the bed.
The girls were next to him, one on each side.
The look on their faces was a look I know I had, since the second, I was told of the mummer.
We were released from the hospital and on our way to Children's Cardiac Care Unit when Drewman was three days old.
Drewman was put through more testing and a diagnosis was given.
Drewman has Pulmonary Stenosis.
The same heart condition My Daddy had since his birth!
Pulmonary Stenosis is a condition in which the pulmonary valve in the heart doesn't open and shut properly.
The right ventricle of Drewman's heart was enlarging.
When it had enlarged to the point it could no longer enlarge, the pressure would push the blood through the valve.
The blood would be pushed with such pressure the blood would bypass the opening of the lungs.
Therefore, most of the blood in Drewman's tiny body wasn't getting oxygenated.
Drewman needed surgery to repair his pulmonary valve!
To me, this was an emergency situation.
I knew the problems this condition can cause.
I knew the risks.
I knew the trials.
To the doctors, it was not an emergency.
Drewman was put on a waiting list for surgery and would be monitored until his condition became critical.
The risk of doing this type of surgery was too high for such a small baby.
It was a long 7 months!
We had gone in for our monthly appointment and monitoring.
Nurse Theresa, who was the same nurse we saw for each appointment, weighed, measured and took Drewman's blood pressure.
We were taken to a room, where they brought in an EKG machine.
Drewman was connected once again to the EKG leads.
The EKG was taken.
Then a chest x-ray.
We then go into a dimly lit room for an echo cardiogram.
It is a ultrasound of your heart.
This would give the best look at what was going on in Drewman's heart.
After the echo, we returned to the exam room.
Dr. Razook and two students entered the room.
Dr. Razook listened.
The two students listened.
They discuss with Dr. Razook what they are hearing.
Dr. Razook explains Drewman's case and says "It's time for surgery."
The right ventricle of Drewman's heart was enlarging to 70% the size of his entire heart, before pushing his blood through his pulmonary valve!
Had Drewman been a child playing a sport, he could have been a statistic and died while playing.
You know the stories you read in the paper or hear on the news?
"Boy drops dead, while playing in basketball game."
Within a week, were back at Children's Hospital for surgery.
The plan for surgery was to do it via a catheter using a balloon to tear open the valve.
The risk?
If things weren't timed perfectly, the catheter and balloon would be pushed through the heart, from the pressure, causing more damage and possibly killing Drewman.
An open heart surgery team was on standby, should there be a problem.
One of the hardest things, to ever do, is hand your 7 month old child over, to a team of doctors, knowing the risk ahead of you.
My saving grace was knowing the outcome, had I not!
The outcome, you ask?
Surgery went exactly as planned!
Drewman returned once per year for a checkup, which has now been changed to every two years.
This next visit will be his last visit at Children's.
He will then be transferred to a doctor at Oklahoma Heart Hospital.
After surgery, Drewman began growing and thriving like a normal baby would.
It was the night we brought him home from surgery, Drewman had crawled or possibly fallen out of his bed and was in the Big Boy's room crying.
Before surgery, Drewman could barely sit up and was only rolling over.
I would say, "Surgery was a success!"
Life went on.
Drewman played sports.
He showed animals.
He grew at normal rates.
He ate like normal.
Drewman was a normal little boy.
He can, at times, feel his heart flutter.
He did have several lung issues after surgery.
The doctors called it lung induced asthma.
But for the most part, Drewman is a very healthy child.
Drewman will always have Pulmonary Stenosis.
Drewman is not the type of kid to be front and center.
The question was asked, not long ago, by a man we hold dear to our hearts,
"What is a blog?"
Drewman's response was, "It's a place where your entire life is written for everyone to read."
This is the reason Drewman is not exploited on A Building We Shall Go.
I took the hint and respect it.
Only to highlight him on a few posts:
I will fast forward, to a section of Drewman's life...
Boots and Spurs
Being raised in a ranch family, all kids have boots and spurs.
Boots and Spurs took on a whole new meaning, for our family, when My Daddy died.
I will blog that story another time...
Drewman, as well as others in our family, was given a set of spurs at My Daddy's memorial.
The spurs allow us to dig in, hold on and ride the ride, all the while knowing My Daddy is present with us.
Drewman's boots came a few months later.
Although Drewman has had several pairs of boots in his lifetime, these boots were special boots.
They were the boots that signified the coming of manhood.
Fast forward a few more years to the HOUSE FIRE!
The Daze After The Fire were spent sifting through and salvaging what we could.
It had become very important to find Drewman's boots and spurs.
Remember, the fire started right outside Drewman's bedroom.
There wasn't much of Drewman's things that could be sifted through or salvaged.
The boots and spurs were found!
Uncle Jim took Drewman's boots home.
He cleaned and polished them up.
I am sure this took several hours!
Uncle Jim knows what those boots mean to Drewman.
The spurs were put away until recently.
They are charred and burnt.
With lots of scrubbing and buffing, they are coming back to life.
New straps have been purchased, as the old ones were burnt off.
Although the boots are now too small and will never be worn again,
Drewman will place those boots and spurs back in his room.
This, my friends, is a very personal thing for our family.
Therefore, we fast forward again.
These past few weeks, Drewman has been preparing college applications.
With each application, he must submit an essay of an event, time or person in his life that has changed or molded him.
This morning as I set at Drewman's computer, typing this blog, I read his essay.
You guessed it!
The life changing event, Drewman chose to write about, was the house fire.
He writes about being home alone the day of the house fire.
He writes about what he did during the first moments after he realized there was a fire.
He writes about the call he made to 911 and to Flower Boy.
He writes within 20 minutes he watched our house go up in flames.
He writes about the fire trucks and responders pulling into our drive.
He writes about friends and family standing there to support him.
He writes about me running towards him, when Flower Boy and I got home.
He writes about our reactions and the year to follow.
Drewman's essay brings new light on what that day was for him, how it has changed him and how he looks differently at things.
He adds...
"Our last house wasn’t very much of a home with all the past memories, this new home is a fresh start in a “pasture never plowed”. Our home describes us. Through the last year our family has grown in our faith in god, and faith in each other. Through all of the events of the house fire, we really learned the meaning of family and true friends. Looking back through the year, I learned that stuff is just that, stuff."
As I type today's blog post, I realize my 7lb 11oz, 22 inch long baby boy has grown into a 6ft 5in, 240 pound man!
He still has a lot to learn and a long ways to go, but he is on the right track.
Drewman has much more in his saddle bags than most young men his age.
He is smart and driven towards success.
Continue on your path, Son!
You are headed the right direction!
Boots On!
Spurs On!
Strapped Tight!
Ride Hard!
Happy Birthday!
Love, Mom

Friday, September 27, 2013

Apple Butter In The Makin!

It's Fall, Ya'll!
Fall means apples and pears are beginning to ripen on the orchard trees.
Yes, we have an orchard at Rockin B Ranch.
It is one of the reasons for purchasing the place.
The drought has gotten the plum and peach trees.
The apple tree too!
We still have two pear trees growin strong.

Note to self:
Plant more fruit trees!

Thankfully, I have friends with apple trees, that have survived the drought.
This year, the apples and pears are plentiful!
Friends share their bounty!

I tried a new technique for makin apple butter...
If you have had my apple butter, you may be cringin right now.
No worries!
It is still award winnin!
I promise!
I'm not braggin.
I pride myself in my jelly makin and the tradition that comes with it.
I have entered my jellies in our local fair, in the past.
Winning the prize ribbon!

Back to the new technique...
I made it in the crockpot!
Well... Most of it was done in the crockpot.

Aren't these apples pretty?
 Peel, core and slice the apples.
 Place them in the crockpot.
 No water added.
Add sugar and spices.
 The apples will make their own water as they cook down.
The apples will cook down and become sauce.

 The apple butter wasn't thickening up the way I would have liked it too.
I transferred it to Granny B's jelly pot and cooked it a bit longer.
(This pot was another thing that was pulled from the HOUSE FIRE!  
Everyone knows what that pot means to me!)
Much better!
 I started adding the apple butter to the jars.
At this point, I realized I don't have a ladle!
Second Note to Self:
Buy a ladle!
 Put the lids on the jars.
 Screw them on tight!
 Flip the jars to distribute the heat.
 Turn them back and wait for the lids to pop!

I have two more bags of apples and our pear trees are ready for pickin!
The girl friends and I have talked about them helpin do more Apple Butter Makin.
They will do the peelin, corin and slicin.
I may just set back and do some teachin!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

One At A Time

We told you earlier this week, it's Weanin Time!
The calves have settled, for a few days.
It's now time to work them.

Our number one ranch hand is a bit busy with his senior year, of high school, and life.
Flower Boy and I flew solo, on this cattle workin, too.
I fear this is all in preparation of when Drewman heads off to college...
He did, however, help pen the calves.
Thanks, Drewman!
We've told you before, our cattle aren't wild and crazy.
Working them wasn't a hard thing to do, with just the two of us.

We don't like to rush the cattle.
This only stirs them up and upsets them.
We take them slow and steady.
Doing our best to remain calm and not raise our voices.

We have seen other operations and folks work their cattle by pushing, yelling and screaming.
This, however, DOES NOT work for us!
 Problems started when the welder wouldn't stay running.
We use the welder as a generator, to run the branding iron.
Let's just say, it is not a good idea for equipment to set without being used.

After time was spent attempting to fix the welder, we decided we were wasting daylight and needed to move forward with what we could get done, for the evening.

Flower Boy laid out the ear tags and prepared the medicine.
 This would normally be my job, but with Drewman having other commitments, we had to do what we had to do.

My job, for the evening, was to keep pushing the calves up the alley towards the chute.
 I would bring in a few calves at a time.
 One at a time, I would line them in the alley.
 Note the poles behind each calf?
This keeps them from backing out of the alley.

Flower Boy would give each one a shot.
He also cut out the old ear tags, replacing with new tags.
 The old ear tags match their mommas tag number.
This makes pairing up momma and baby easier when they are in the pasture.
It's easy to see if you have a momma or a baby missing...

The new ear tags are numbered 1, 2, 3, 4...
Heifers are tagged in the right ear and steers/bulls in the left.
This way, if one goes missing, we know what number we are looking for and if it is a heifer or steer.
Slow and steady...
One at a time...
I pushed each calf up the alley...
 One at a time, they went into the chute...
One at a time, shots and new ear tags...

One at a time, all were released...
And driven back into the large catch pen...
They will have to have another round of shots in 10 days, before they will be turned to pasture.
Between now and then, we will get the welder fixed.
The calves still have to be branded and the bulls have to be banded.
This will happen when we give the booster shots, hopefully with the help of the number one ranch hand!

That, my friends, is all in an evening date with a Flower Boy and a Rancher Girl!

I did a pretty good job of taking pictures too.
Don't you think?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Weanin Time

Our babies are 6 months old, so it's Weanin Time!
Normally, the big kids and Drewman would be home to help.
This year, the big kids had Carter's Run and Drewman was doing college testing.
Flower Boy and I flew solo!
We work well as a team!
No worries!

We pull in the first pasture and bring the cattle to the catch pen.
A catch pen, or trap, is a larger fenced of area where cattle can be held for a period of time.
This allow them space to roam and not get nervous from feeling crowded.
 Prior to any work, a calming "chew" is required by Flower Boy.
This keeps him from yelling so much.
 The cattle are then pushed into the corral or pens, for sorting.
 At this point, the stock trailer is brought into the catch pen.
Often times, if the cattle see the stock trailer, they know something is going on and they won't come to the pens.
 Mommas are separated from their babies.
 Mommas get wormed.
 They are then turned out to the pasture.
 The babies are brought into the loading pen.
 And loaded on the trailer.
We are off to the next pasture.
Bye Mommas!!

The pens in the first pasture, My Daddy and his family built them years ago, when he was young.
They are sturdy and well built.
This next pasture is a little more tricky, as far as catching the cattle.
The pens are not that of something My Daddy would have built.

Slowly, and I do mean slowly, the cattle are brought into the pen.
There is no catch pen, at this pasture.
The cattle follow the feed truck, knowing they will get cake.
We don't expect a problem,
If one gets loose, they are out in open pasture.
The chances of getting them back in...
Likely NONE!
 I stay in the truck and remain very still.
 Flower Boy closes the gate.

I LOVE these next two photos!
(side note:  I may enter one of the them in the fair, next year, I love them so much!)
 Number 10 says "I am not coming in there!"

We separate the mommas from the babies, again.
Flower Boy moves the mommas to a corner of the pen.
 Because there is no alleyway at this pasture, one by one, the cows move past him and he shoots wormer on their backs.
 All the babies are hauled to another pasture, to be held in a large catch pen or trap.
We will work then later in the week.
The babies will remain here for a week to 10 days, until they stop crying for their mommas.
We will then move them to a pasture, where they will grow and gain weight, until time to sell them.
Have you ever heard babies cry at Weanin Time?
It is one of Flower Boy's favorite sounds to hear.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Leaning Too Far

We have a shed, out back.
It isn't the prettiest shed, but it serves its purpose.
We had, and still do have, plans to take it down, in order to build a new and bigger barn.
For now, this little shed, out back, is going to have to suffice.

Attached to the shed was a lean-to.
This lean-to was leaning too far.
 It had been hit by wind some time back.
It was missing tin and had broken boards.
Along came the house fire and we forgot about the lean-to.

Friday, the lean-to, that was leaning too far, came down!

There was some loose tin on the shed, that had to be nailed down first.

Note:  My fear of heights kept me grounded.
I did however find this beauty while taking photos.
There is just something about this that speaks "Charlotte's Web".

Flower Boy peeled back the tin on the lean-to section of the shed.
 Flower Boy needs new boots!
 He used the sawzall to cut the boards, that attached the lean-to to the remainder of the shed.
 Some of the boards were rotten, due to being exposed to the weather.
 With each cut, of a board, the lean-to leaned a little more.

 After all the boards were cut, Flower Boy made sure the tin was secure on all the boards, of the existing shed.
 He then moved across to remove the boards from the outside posts.

Down it came!
 At this point, I was put to work.
We took the pieces apart.
 We were able to salvage some of the tin.
 The boards...
Not so much.
 The outside poles and gate were also removed.
 After all the debris was cleaned up and hauled off, the shed looks a little better.
We really need a new barn!
Sooner or later, we will have one.
I hope sooner than later.