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Farm Fresh Blog
Monday, February 29 2016
Moonlight reflected off the frost on the cactus as a wisp of steam rose from the little foot peeking out of the back end of the cow. Her mournful bawl rolled out across the pasture. This was gonna be a long night.
As soon as I had stepped out of the truck I heard a cow bawling. Her cries pierced the night as the moon shone down on the frosty ground.
"Did you check Poppy before we left?"
Other Half assured me that he had checked the cow but that was hours ago and from the sounds in the pasture below, Poppy had gone into labor and was having trouble delivering a monster truck sized calf. Although I don't like to breed first time mothers to large breed bulls, we had the opportunity to use a nice young bull that would add some genetics we wanted, so we bred four first time heifers and one proven producer to him. Because we anticipated there might be issues, we had locked all the birthing mothers into the pasture below the house until this bunch of calves was safely on the ground. Poppy was the last one. None of the other cows had any trouble in delivery. And then there was Poppy.
She was on the dirt road at the very bottom of the pasture, as far away from the other cows and the house as she could get. Although I appreciated her need for privacy, around here, privacy will get your calf eaten. Not two days earlier I had seen three coyotes passing through in broad daylight along the very spot she had chosen to give birth.
And so, here we were, staring at a warm foot trying not to be born on a cold night. We had tossed a bale of hay to the other cows to keep them out of our way while we tried to figure out what we had. From the looks of her, Poppy had been in hard labor for a while. She was not a happy cow. Other Half slipped on some rubber gloves and pushed his hand up inside the cow. The calf was in the proper position, it was just big, so he slipped the straps of the calf pullers around the calf's front ankles and commenced to pulling along with Poppy's contractions. Soon a gigantic white head appeared. The calf's swollen tongue protruded grossly from its mouth, but it was still alive. Coyotes began to yip in the forest below us. A few more heaves and a large sloppy calf plopped into the dirt.
Poppy didn't even turn around. We gave her a minute, but the cow wasn't interested in the calf. Steam rose as we hustled to clear the calf's face ourselves. We struggled to get the slippery calf upside down to clear her lungs, then we placed her beside Poppy's head. The cow startled.
"Where did THAT come from?!!"
She stared at the calf with wide eyes, gave it a few half-hearted licks, and then decided that she really wasn't interested in this new addition to the party. Oh... shit.
The calf began to shiver violently. It was cold and the temperature was dropping. Her tongue lolled out of her mouth as she tried to process this new world she had been pulled into. We gave Poppy more time to acknowledge her baby. Nada. Nothing. So we started towelling the kid dry ourselves while Poppy watched with mild interest. She gave a few more licks, but nothing about the baby really started her engine. Other Half was concerned that she had a pinched nerve from the difficult birth. He'd seen this before and even after days of help, the cow never recovered and had to be euthanized. Poppy didn't look paralyzed to me, she looked overwhelmed. Often cows in this frame of mind just sull up. They plop on the ground and refuse to move. That's what Poppy looked like to me, but regardless of the cause, we had a cold, wet baby lying in the frost, and a mother who couldn't, or wouldn't, help it.
At this point I had already mentally taken the baby to the barn to bottle feed it, and taken Poppy to the sale barn. Other Half is much more forgiving about these things than I am. He passed it off as her being a first time mother. I pointed out that the other girls were first time mothers and they all delivered calves with no help and were immediately attentive to their calves. I reminded him that last year we had a cow actually get cast while giving birth and by the time I found her, the calf was dry and wandering around the herd trying to nurse off other cows. As soon as that cow, Delta the Flying Cow, was assisted in getting upright, that first- time mother rushed over, claimed her calf, and became fiercely protective of it. I was not buying what Other Half was selling. We may have been able to coddle cattle at the other ranch, but here, if a cow doesn't take the initiative to care for her baby, something in the woods will make a meal out of it. And then we're out a calf, a year of time, and at least $1000.
He tried to get Poppy up, but she was having none of it. The baby continued to shiver and stare at us with wild eyes. Her tongue was still so swollen she couldn't get it back in her mouth. I started calling her 'Miley Cyrus,' because of the tongue thing. Clearly Other Half had no idea who Miley Cyrus was, and because he is half deaf, he thought I was calling her 'Molly,' so he started calling her Molly. Since it looked like the calf would live, and no calf should be named after an 'almost porn' singer, I opted to call her Molly too.
I left Other Half in the pasture with Molly and drove back to the house for a calf bottle and a blanket. Since we had just returned home from a Crime Watch meeting, and weren't dressed for pulling calves, I grabbed a pair of Carhartt coveralls for each of us, and fresh flashlights. There is an upside and a downside to semi-tame cattle. The upside is that they are easier to handle, and their calves are easier to handle. The downside to semi-tame cattle is they follow the mule like children following an ice cream truck. They had already polished off the bale of hay we'd given them when we went to check Poppy and so now they were following the mule like I was the Pied Piper. So much for Poppy's privacy. We now had an audience.
The other mothers were quite concerned about Poppy's lack of attention to the calf. Several tried to come forward to lick it. Poppy showed a tad of interest in keeping her calf away from them, but not enough to actually get off the ground. By this time, Molly was shaking uncontrollably so we bundle her up in a blanket and placed her on Poppy's side. Other Half milked out the half of her udder that he could see and we fed Molly her first meal. She eagerly took her bottle and soon began to struggle to her feet. Molly was doing everything right on her end. She staggered around a bit, and nursed some more. Poppy showed a little interest, but still nothing to indicate that she knew she was supposed to be caring for this baby. Clearly Poppy was missing the hormone that gave her this little Newsflash.
We decided that if Poppy would just get up, perhaps Mother Nature, would advise her, so Other Half did something I had never seen him do before - he smothered her. Yes! He held her mouth shut and covered her nose so she couldn't breath. I watched in disbelief. When he finally released the cow's head, she gave a shake, hauled herself to her feet, and walked away on unsteady feet. But she walked. No pinched nerve. She stopped under a nearby mesquite tree. We got Molly up and slowwalked her over there. Poppy acknowledge her with a few licks but that was it. With warm milk in her belly, Molly had a renewed lease on life, and she was determined to find that nipple and nurse. Poppy just walked away. I mentally walked her ass right to the sale barn.
Other Half insisted on not judging her yet. Give her more time. I pointed at all the other first time mothers staring at Poppy as she refused to let her calf nurse. But the argument wasn't getting us any closer to a solution. We still had to figure out what to do with Molly for the night. If we could get her to the corral behind the house, we could lock Poppy inside with her. She'd be safe from coyotes and if Poppy wouldn't let her nurse, we could just milk her out in the stocks, and bottle feed the baby there. It could work. The hitch was getting Molly and Poppy to the corral. Here's where the screaming started. We stood in the dark and argued about what to do.
"Ninety percent of all farm divorces are a result of sorting cattle."
I read this Facebook meme last week and fell over laughing because it's true, but I want to add that this could be true with any major decision regarding uncooperative cattle. I'm sure the coyotes in the dark had a good laugh listening to us yell at each other.
Poppy had started to show a little interest in the baby. Other Half felt that if we loaded Molly in the mule and drove off with her, Poppy would follow. I didn't see that happening. And it didn't. There was a lot of fighting about the next course of action. So Other Half decided that he would hop out and push Poppy up the pasture while I drove the mule and hoped that Molly didn't flop out of the back. We wrapped her quilt around her like a straightjacket and headed uphill. The entire herd followed me. Other Half and Poppy trailed behind us.
Once inside the corral, I stayed with Molly while he pushed everyone out but Poppy. God smiled at us under the moonlight because Poppy separated herself, making the task of pushing everyone else out easy. By now Poppy was a little more interested in her baby. Molly was released from her straightjacket and toddled off to her mother. She tried to nurse again. Poppy was a bit more accomodating this time. Apparently her trot up the hill had turned on some hormones. We made sure she nursed a little before we left. At least Molly was safe for the night. At 2 AM we drove out of the pasture and closed the gate behind us, leaving Poppy to decide what she wanted to do with her new bundle of joy. As soon as we closed the gate and started for the house, the mule ran out of gas and sputtered to a stop. Perfect timing. We gathered our toys and walked back to the house.
The next morning the sun rose to find little Molly with a milk mustache.
Although she won't win any Mother Of The Year awards, Poppy is allowing Molly to nurse and Molly is a determined little fighter. Yesterday when Poppy wouldn't stand still for her, I watched Molly nursing from Delta, one of the other Braford cows who is a particularly good mother.
Molly is the second strange calf that has been caught nursing from this cow, so with the addition of her own calf, that makes three calves nursing from poor Delta the Flying Cow. Clearly she has the kind of maternal instinct we want to preserve. Delta has earned her place on the ranch. It looks like as far as nutrition is concerned, Molly is gonna be just fine.
Molly is a fine looking calf, from two really nice looking parents, but in order to survive the predators around here, she will need an attentive, protective mother. Either that, or she needs to stay pretty close to Delta the Flying Cow.
Thursday, February 25 2016
I continued to scrub amniotic goo off the top of his house shoe as he propped it on the hay wagon. Living in a barn has its advantages. Lambing in your house shoes is one of them. Checking on pregnant ewes is as simple as walking across the barn aisle, so it was no surprise when Other Half barged into the bedroom at 2 am last night and announced that Flower Pot was finally in labor.
This ewe has been holding on to her babies. Each time I've been convinced she was going into labor, an hour later she has smiled at me, while chewing her cud, and said, "Sorry, false alarm. Just gas."
But last night was it. I'd been watching her carefully because last year was her first lambing and she lost a twin. She had apparently become so enamored with Baby #1 that when Baby #2 came along, she failed to get the sack off its nose and it smothered while she was doting on Baby #1. I kicked myself for not checking her that night.
She did not repeat the same mistake. This year she is older and wiser and doing a fine job. Flower Pot popped out a little girl while we were still getting dressed. We've had a month to put doors on these stalls so lambs can't wander out into the runs behind the stalls. We've known Flower Pot was about to pop for two weeks. Have we put a door on that stall? No. At 2 am we were cutting up cattle panels for a makeshift door. Such is life. It got done. Just like Flower Pot, we take procrastination to a whole new level. But hey, the babies are here and the door is up so all is well.
The little girl was up and going like a champ. This kid was with the program.
Her brother? Not so much. As his mother was pushing him out, the wind changed outside and a cold front blew in. A really cold front. Little Brother was wet and was not happy about being pushed out of his nice warm bed to land in this Cold New World. He didn't want to nurse. He wanted to curl up and shiver while his mom licked him. Fearing he was putting too many calories into shivering, we hefted out a hairdryer. Because well, you know, we live in a barn, so the bathroom isn't far away. I named him Cold Front.
A few minutes later he was dry and thinking about nursing. At 4 am he had nursed, so we opted to head for bed. At 7:30 am I found him shivering in the middle of the stall again. Sigh. So I went back into the house across the hallway, and dug out a knit cap. A few snips here and there, and Cold Front was modeling the latest in Carhartt fashion. His mother approved.
Apparently the fashionistas in the audience approved too.
I guess Other Half is right, normal people don't live this way. But that's not always a bad thing. Normal people are missing out on a lot. I mean, really, who wants to be normal when you can have a lamb wearing a Carhartt hat?
Tuesday, February 23 2016
With the addition of the Navajo Churro and Jacob sheep, my interest in spinning wool has grown to the point of obsession. I'm fascinated with the idea of taking the fiber from my own sheep, processing it, spinning it into yarn, and dying the yarn with natural dyes. Ultimately I want to weave cinches and saddle pads, but for now, the mysteries of the wool itself has captured me.
Dear Friend Sue in Wyoming walks me through a lot of this, but phone conversations have their limitations. I've been reaching out to local fiber fans, but in my neck of the world, 'local' can be pretty far away. I've dearly wanted to find likeminded craftsmen (craftswomen) in my area.
So like everything in my life, I just threw it to the wind, and told myself that when I'm ready, God and the wind will blow in my teacher, and of course, I continued to obsess on the internet. YouTube is my friend. Still, the computer can't replace hands-on experience. I'm a firm believer that everything works out for a reason, and so yesterday's change of wind was no surprise.
I walked into the post office to mail some soap and saw the counter lined with assorted packages of yarn products and envelopes. (I'd just like to take a moment to give a shout out to our local post office. The staff there is the most helpful, patient, group of people you could ever ask for, and being from 'Small Town Ameria' I fear they don't get enough recognition.)
Anyway, back to our story: At the end of the table was a young woman mixing and matching packages to envelopes. She looked exactly like I look when I'm trying to mail soap to customers. Products and packages are everywhere.
I asked, "Oh! Are you a yarn person?!"
She happily informed me that yes, she was a Yarn Person, and yes, she SPINS! Well, knock me over with a feather, or a lock of wool. It turns out that Ambrosia is a spinner with no sheep. And I'm a sheep person who wants to learn to spin! Oh! Pennies from Heaven! Since her local (65 miles away!) yarn store closed, she's been tossing around the idea of forming a group of likeminded crafty women. Woohoo! That's exactly what I've been looking for. Well, I'm not exactly crafty yet but I am likeminded. (Unless you count making goat milk soap as crafty, then in some circles I'm crafty.) Things fell into place like puzzle pieces and there is a satisfied happiness to that. We chatted so long that Other Half, who was waiting in the truck, was beginning to wonder if I'd been kidnapped.
And perhaps I have been kidnapped. That's what farms do. They kidnap you, brainwash you, and absorb you into the Borg where you are their servant. It happens so slowly that over the years you're not even aware you're falling down a rabbit hole. You start out with a few horses. That requires fencing. Then, because you hate chemicals and any hard work which leads to sweating, you add goats to help clear brush around the fences. Since you now have half-wild meat goats, you need help controlling them, so you add Border Collies.
Soon you start breeding and selling goats. And since you have no idea how to train Border Collies, you take lessons with someone who has sheep and dairy goats. You fall in love with sheep and thus you add meat sheep to your goat herd and note they are more profitable than meat goats. In a very short time you have fallen in love with dairy goats, goat milk soap, and cheese and so you switch out your meat goats for dairy goats. You pat yourself on the back because now you need less goats per acreage and you get more profit, so you have the false illusion that you are in charge of the farm and not the other way around.
Your love of sheep begins to lean toward fiber sheep so you lust after a unique breed with a colored history, because naturally you can't do like smart people and choose a breed of sheep that would be easy to find in Texas! Lo and behold, you stumble across a local rich person herd dispersal and acquire a ragtag band of fiber sheep of your desired breed. (and some extras) You know absolutely no one close by who spins or raises any breed of fiber sheep but that doesn't slow you down. The internet is your friend, and like the sheep that fell in your lap, you are convinced that if you trudge onward, the right people will blow your way too.
And that, dear friends, is how you find likeminded people while in the rabbit hole, people who don't trot out a caution flag, but share that same crazy gleam in their eyes, people who have yarn spread out all over the post office.
Sunday, February 21 2016
Mesa has just turned a year old and I'm beginning to use her for simple chores around the farm. We haven't really done a lot of schooling because the schooling sheep have been heavily pregnant or lambing, that just leaves the Navajo Churro and the Jacobs, and they are not, N-O-T, good schooling sheep. The churro are large, flighty, and apt to richochet into things, and the Jacobs will bring the fight to the dog. None of that is great for giving a baby dog confidence.
Mesa has done enough pen work on the Dorpers that she has a rudimentary knowledge of pushing sheep, giving them some distance, and bringing them to me. We haven't put any commands on it yet. Her experience with the Churro and Jacobs has been to slowly push them into the night pens. This isn't so much herding, as guiding them into good choices.
Mesa is supposed to begin formal herding lessons in March but Spring grazing pasture opportunities require Mesa to start getting a handle on these sheep as soon as possible. So this evening we moved the sheep into the pen and let Mesa get a feel for them.
The sheep are light and have never really been schooled by dogs, and so flocking toward the human is not even in their databanks. Today we just worked with picking the sheep up and moving them around the pen, predictably the Jacobs were quick to complicate things by bringing the fight to the dog.
It was irritating but at the same time, if Mesa can't work a bossy sheep, she can't work a cow, so there is no time like the present to start building her confidence.
Since we have no aspirations toward trial work, gripping the sheep is not discouraged as long as it's justified and fair. The problem with gripping sheep with horns is that if you don't do it right, it hurts. Mesa and the bossiest ewe had a few go-rounds before Mesa got her confidence and found a way to address the problem that she was comfortable with. I didn't put too much pressure on her, and we quit as soon as she'd had enough success that I felt her confidence was growing.
Not only did Mesa learn she could control the sheep, more importantly, the sheep learned that Mesa could control them, and that's just one baby step closer to being a cow dog.
Saturday, February 20 2016
Even though I sold most of the Dorper sheep, I still have a skeleton crew of sentimental favorites that I kept and these girls are dropping lambs now.
The most unexpected delight of this lambing season has been the arrival of a lamb I didn't think I'd ever see.
Who remembers Roanie?
Longtime readers may remember the ewe who was attacked by Other Half's police dog when Briar was a puppy. The injured ewe and Briar became best friends. Her plucky determination to live made her one of my favorites too.
Sadly Roanie passed away this summer. Although Roanie had several lambs, she only had one daughter - Chuck.
Chuck was named because as a baby she several times found herself caught in situations where she needed help because she was "Stuck like Chuck." When I moved the first time and I sold most of my quality breeding stock, I kept Chuck because she was slow to mature and just wasn't that impressive. She later bloomed into a nice ewe but failed to get pregnant last year, so I thought she may be barren. I seriously considered selling her when I sold this last bunch, but for sentimental reasons (as if retired people without a paycheck can afford to be sentimental!) I kept Chuck. I kept her because I'd finally lost Roanie.
Shortly after I sold the last batch of sheep, Chuck started to bag up. Wonder of wonders, Chuck was pregnant. Thursday Chuck had twins at 6 am, one boy and one girl. She had a normal delivery and just like her mother, Chuck is an excellent mother.
Meet Roanie's granddaughter - Pepperoni
and her older brother, born 30 minutes earlier, the Caped Crusader - Batman.
Sometimes I ride the Guilt Trip Train when I make sentimental decisions and keep animals that should be passed down the road with others. Like Roanie, keeping Chuck was a sentimental decision. I sold better ewes but kept her, and just couldn't figure out why. But at 0630 hours on 02/17/16 when I saw that my favorite ewe had a granddaughter, I remembered why I kept Chuck. And like her mother, Chuck has lots of personality and is a plucky, hardy girl. I hope they pass those hardy genes on to little Pepperoni.
Like her mother, young Pepperoni has a mind of her own and wanders off with the older lambs in search of adventure. As Chuck calls Pepperoni in a panic over her lost lamb, I am reminded of all the fits Chuck gave Roanie. Clearly Briar and I have our work cut out for us as we try to keep this little lamb out of trouble.
Wednesday, February 10 2016
"How did the ceiling fan get so much dust in a week?"
The house is never clean enough for me. The dogs and goats are never quiet enough. There are always unfinished projects still sitting out in the yard or in the barn that simply cannot be picked up. It is a fact of life that no matter how clean the house is, the cat will crap in the litter box moments before company enters the door.
But the joy of having company over is that after the initial "oh my gosh, my house is still a wreck," in addition to enjoying the visit, you get the chance to dust off your glasses and see other things for the first time in a long time. And with children, you get to look at your life in technicolor.
The grandchildren came through last weekend like a summer rain, breathing new life into everything around them. Although I never get tired of living here, it's still amazing how looking at the ranch through a child's eyes can bring so much more color. You don't have to plan things to do because the land provides plenty that will keep feral children occupied. Fresh eyes can change your perspective, making old things new and exciting.
A simple ride around the ranch is no longer a journey for us to check fence or look at cattle, it's a Lewis & Clark expedition. The creek itself is a living thing and never fails to be the greatest of classrooms. It provides history lessons, geology lessons and murder mysteries. A hunt for fossils in the creek moves from the field of paleontology to expand and become a murder investigation as they search for bones of a dead calf. The bone theme continues as they poke through the woods in search of bones from a dead bull. The afternoon became an Easter egg hunt for bones.
The world is their classroom and it shows.
We went from learning to shoot from the top of the cliff
to climbing the underside of the cliff from the creek.
And they discovered roping is a lot harder than it looks.
These kids have their own goats, but feeding the goats and sheep was still a blast for them. I enjoyed this too, since doing chores is a lot more fun and a lot easier when you have minions. Grandchildren make great minions.
The Livestock Guardian Dogs were a big hit. No surprise there. The puppies were great with the kids. There is nothing quite like seeing your grandchildren playing with dogs bigger than they are to make you appreciate a good breeder who properly socializes her puppies with children. (Thank you, Ramie Carter in Oklahoma!)
Even properly socialized, a pack of Border Collies is not a good mix with a pack of grandchildren, so to protect the dogs and the grandchildren from themselves, we opted to lock the Border Collies behind bars this weekend. This left Dillon, the Labrador Retriever, to enjoy and be enjoyed. He was in heaven. Like Other Half pointed out,
"They are the same grade level."
Once again, Joe proved himself to be a horse of great value. He isn't a fancy showhorse, or a skilled cowhorse, but he's the best kind of horse - your go-to horse, the horse you can trust to introduce another grandbaby to the world of horses.
You just can't put a price on a smile.
So the kids went back home, and the house is still a mess, there are still unfinished projects in the yard, the ceiling fan is already gathering dust, and the cat just hit the litter box again, but the kids left me with a renewed look at life here through their 3D glasses. They reminded me that there are more important things than a clean house. After all, we live in a barn with the animals, how clean is it ever gonna be? And ongoing, unfinished projects are part of ranch life. Kids are able to take you outside to view the vivid beauty of life and death on a ranch that pales a bit when you let yourself get caught up in the day to day humdrum of chores. A child reminds you to live in the now, to enjoy the moment, to appreciate the cold sand between your toes as you walk in the creek.
Friday, February 05 2016
Some days the wolf is literally 'at the door.'
Or in our case, it's the coyote. Fortunately we have dogs bred to hunt wolves and they are finally getting big enough to enjoy a coyote hunt. Yesterday while on our morning walk to read our pee-mail and tag the rival gang's wall with our own graffiti, the call of a coyote sounded just beyond the trees.
The games a'foot!
The Livestock Guardian Dogs raced off, confident that they would finally catch the voices that taunted them in the dark. The Herding Dogs stayed right there. Clearly hunting wolves was not part of their contract. The look on Mesa's face was priceless. She just stood in the road and looked first in one direction and then the other. Nope. Hunting coyotes as big as she is is not in her contract.
The bells of the Livestock Guardian Dogs faded in the distance until we heard nothing but birds as we continued our walk. Normally I call the dogs back when they try to run off into the dark after coyotes but on this crisp, cold morning, I just let that pony run. The neighbor has had a problem with a really large coyote coming up on his porch during the day. It's been sighted many times in the daylight, and if he doesn't start getting a healthy respect for humans someone is gonna shoot him. I'd just as soon he not be shot because something else will just take his niche. Now if he's climbing into my sheep pen that's another story, but for now, it's easier to just educate the coyote. The bells of those dogs just might do that.
I didn't seriously believe the dogs would catch the coyote. In fact, if it had been spring, I would have thought the coyote was trying to lure the dogs away from a den. Regardless, the dogs finally got a chance to relieve the stress of just listening to the coyotes taunt them at night without getting to do anything about it, and the coyote began to associate those bells with a serious run for his life.
It's not by chance that my dairy goats wear the exact same bells.
When I called them back the puppies bounded up before Briar who had slipped under the fence and onto the neighbor's ranch. It didn't surprise me that this coyote went back there. I think he's been helping himself to free-feed dog food for a while now and he's pretty comfortable there. Briar reluctantly came back when I shouted a few cuss words at her.
This is the face of a dog who has just been outrun by a coyote.
"Sector 12 is clear!"
The pups gave her a hero's welcome,
and then they all came to me to present their workcards. Sector 12 was clear.
So we continued our walk. The pups played with Mesa, and Briar walked with a spring in her step, and cast a wistful eye back. I think she finally figured out a use for her minions.
They're pretty good backup if you're hunting wolves. Or coyotes.
Monday, February 01 2016
The Anatolians are eight months old today and are officially taller than Briar.
Get her some smelling salts...
The other news is that since I'm officially retired now, I have started work on the books you've been asking about. Since retirement means a fixed income and a much smaller paycheck, the first book I'm working on is the book I think will sell the fastest to an agent and a publisher. That's the CSI book. There are lots of ranchers out there writing, but there are not as many CSI writers. With a smaller field I think I have a better chance of being noticed by an agent. Unless an agent called me up out of the blue and just begged for a farm book which is not likely to happen, I'll be knocking on doors pushing the CSI book first.
The CSI book will include some old blog posts with a hefty addition of new stuff. Which CSI blog posts are ones that you feel must be included in this first book? Also, do you think the photos are important, or can we drop those?
After the CSI book is complete, then I'll start work on the farm book/books. My question to you is this. What kind of farm book would be of the most interest? There's a heck of a lot more material to work with and so I need to start figuring out which direction to narrow things. That depends upon you because you guys have seen the greatest sample of work. There are a lot of different directions I can take.
What are your thoughts?