Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cleaning boots and growing grass...

One of the disadvantages of wearing leather boots to do barn work is that you have to clean them once in a while.  We've been in the fresh, green poop a lot lately with AI-ing cows, and so our boots have been really suffering for it.  These boots, although still dirty, were washed up and scrubbed with a brush once already.  This evening I took my jack knife to the edges and got the rest of the manure scraped off before I oiled them.  This can of Nor-V-Gen leather oil has been in our house for 32 years and it still hasn't run out.  It reminds me of the Bible story of the widow woman who's flask of oil never ran out (2 Kings 4).  We bought the oil from a local cobbler, Mr. Didier, who used to fix boots and mend shoes, but died of a heart attack shortly after we bought it from him.   I think of the fella every time I get it out to oil our boots and shoes.  Manure is just like acid on leather so it's pretty important to clean and oil our work boots regularly.  Sad to say, these boots have been sorely neglected, but tonight they'll be revived.

The last bunch of cows has been run through the corrals and worked this week, and on Sunday they will be the last bunch of cows to be AI-ed.  Then they will be turned out to summer pasture with the  bulls who will get to finish up the job.  I really think it should be totally up to the bulls to do the breeding, but I'm the "naturalist" in the family.  I prefer the old fashioned methods of breeding cows among other things.

The weather has turned hotter lately so that means our grass is maturing and drying up.  It is July after all, and that's the natural way of things on the prairie.  Since the wind usually blows along with the hot sun, it can get dry in a hurry.  There's a chance of some rain tomorrow which would be really nice to keep the un-cut hay green until we can get to it.  The pasture grass that the cows and sheep are grazing is so good right now and a rain would be just dandy for it too, plus it would settle the dust.  I do hope we get a nice rain.

Smooth bromegrass (the tall) and some Crested wheatgrass (shorter)

Grass is what the prairie is all about.  It's not a great place to grow trees, shrubs, or fancy flowers. We do grow a few of these with some nurturing, but the conditions are not the best for tree-growing and such.  It is ideal for growing grass though, and I've heard it said that our northern prairie grass is the best there is.  It's called "hard grass" because it grows under mainly dry conditions and it's not full of water like some grasses grown in wetter areas.  When it dries, the protein levels are said to be far superior to "washy grass" as our men call it, so the livestock does really well on it.  I took some pictures of some of the grasses that are mature right now on our place.  Some of the grasses that I've pictured are transplanted in the rock garden in my backyard.  There are a few late season grasses that I hope to share with you later on.

Crested wheatgrass pollinating

Timothy grass.  A rare and desireable grass for us.  
Usually found in wet, low areas.

Timothy grass, flowering & pollinating. 

In the rock garden:
Western wheatgrass (tall), salt sage (short gray), 
prairie sage (gray tall), and blue flax.

Gretchen Joanna shared a wonderful poem about grass that I really like.  I thought you might enjoy it here too.

The Grass 

The grass so little has to do,—
A sphere of simple green,
With only butterflies to brood,
And bees to entertain,

And stir all day to pretty tunes
The breezes fetch along,
And hold the sunshine in its lap
And bow to everything;

And thread the dews all night, like pearls,
And make itself so fine,—
A duchess were too common
For such a noticing.

And even when it dies, to pass
In odours so divine,
As lowly spices gone to sleep,
Or amulets of pine.

And then to dwell in sovereign barns,
And dream the days away,—
The grass so little has to do,
I wish I were the hay!

~Emily Dickinson


  1. You've been working hard as usual! I'll have to tell my son about that boot oil.

  2. {Sigh}
    I think google has been eating my comments. I commented and nothing happened. And I looked back on a few posts and ... nothing!
    It's so sad, but I keep trying LOL.
    I love your posts about prairie life -- they're so beautiful. (Well, maybe not the part about scraping poop off of boots LOL.) When you describe the prairie and the grasses and the wind it always makes me think of Little House on the Prairie!!!

  3. That's a meaningful poem about grass.
    I like your boot work. I love getting rid of grime. Today I used lemon essential oil to remove some grime in my kitchen. Miraculous!
    I even pulled out the stove and the fridge! Yay, me!
    Have a sweet summer day, Jody-friend!

  4. I love that you've had that boot oil for over 30 years. That would make an interesting project--to inventory our cleaning supplies and tools and see what we've had the longest (stuff we should have thrown out years ago doesn't count) and what has been the most useful.

    Our grass here is unimpressive in most ways, and right now, with very little rain to grow on, it's downright pathetic. We have one neighbor who is very serious about his lawn and waters it almost nightly. I suppose it's wasteful, but I will say it's a beautiful yard and makes me think green, peaceful thoughts as I pass by.

    Show us a picture of your clean boots!


  5. In some of my favorite books that I read, over and over. I love the passages about the green grass. I love reading and seeing the pictures of your different grasses. I don't think until you have raised livestock do you understand the importance of green grass.
    I have always love the stories about seeing the wind blow on the prairie and the sound of the wind sounding the the sound of the ocean.
    I like that poem too. I have a can of oil that I have had since I lived at home. I always used it for my saddles and my bridles and my boots too. I love how when I open it the smell reminds me of ages long ago. Have a wonderful weekend.

  6. It sounds like you are in the midst of a week and weekend of hard work and the simple joys and challenges of life on the ranch! Thanks so much for sharing your world with us. I especially loved the pictures of the grasses - something the rancher is very interested in and has names for. Down here in the SE US city/country (suburban life) we just have "grass" and a few ornamental grasses imported from Florida, such as pampas grass, that homeowners plant in their yards. I think I've seen your Timothy grass in our fields, and sage grass can be bought at the landscape suppliers.

    Our son went to work in the booming oil industry of ND a few years ago, and I knew immediately that he would love the big sky country. And he does. He came back home for 6 months, got his CDL and now is driving a truck in ND. Loves it, loves the prairie, and especially loves the work ethic and people of our northern plains states.

    Today as you work hard and notice the world around you, smelling the fragrant grass and feeling the hot wind, may you be blessed!!

  7. I'm with Frances - I was expecting the "after" picture of boots. :-)
    Thanks so much for the grass lesson. Glory to God for grass!

  8. Very fine and fancy grass! I love the variety God has created and yours is much more interesting than ours. I want to see the after shot of the boots, too. Anna's boots could use some of that oil (stocking stuffer?). I found out after she got home that she took them to her youth group conference in Kansas City with 5500 kids. They were seriously GROSS. Ah well...


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