Thursday, November 29, 2012

#130. or, Bulls in a Pen

  It's relatively cold here today. -13 degrees Celsius  but the wind chill is making it feel like it's in the mid,  -20's. (-25 Celsius is about -4 Fahrenheit.) There's also a heavy snowfall warning, that we may get close to a foot of snow. So, it's safe to assume, that we are in fact, in the grips of winter now.

  It's been pretty much a given, that this was coming. While a lot of people spent the remaining bit of warmth we had, stringing up Christmas lights, I've been racing around the last week, trying to get some last minute things done, before it got too cold to work effectively outdoors without my mittens on.

  I was trying to prepare a pen to wean my calves into. The problem was, that when our barn burned, it shorted out the power line, to that pens watering bowl. (you can read about that here) The overhead line had to be replaced. Without this, the waterer was just a block of ice, and useless. I needed this pen, because I have a double fence that can separates the calves from the cows in that pen, and it stops the cows from breaking into the calf pen.

  Ideally, it would have been a lot easier to replace the power line in the comfortable warmth of the summer. But in a grand feat of procrastination, I left repairing the overhead line until it was cold enough outside for it to be a particularly miserable job. A job, that required me to pull up to each power pole with the bucket of my tractor raised as far in the air as it would reach, then climb a ladder into that bucket, and then climb a second ladder, fastened in the bucket, just to reach where the line attached to the pole. I also used this method to repair a bunch of yard lights that were not working properly.

  It was a bit pain, because besides only being able to work at the top of the pole for a few minutes before my fingers froze to the point that they stopped working properly, it was also freaking high! Usually, by the time I lost feeling in my thumbs, and fingers, my legs had started to vibrate on their own accord, because they had lost faith in my one good arm,  to actually grab something and save my life, in the unfortunate event that I fell.

  But I got everything going and the watering bowl thawed, and I weaned my calves. I also separated the bulls from the cows. Usually, I leave the bulls with the cows, but that's not the best plan. They tend to bother the cows a bit. That's because bulls generally think of only two things. Sex and fighting. Sometimes it's fighting and sex, but usually, it's sex and fighting. That's why it's difficult to keep bulls penned up. Putting a bunch of bulls in a pen is more a suggestion of containment, than actual confinement. Inevitably, they will start to think about sex, break out in a fight, and  tear out a section of the corral.

  When one bull, weighing a ton and a quarter, catches another ton and a quarter bull broadside, and starts pushing him in the direction of the fence, the fence usually loses. This happened one time when I was helping a neighbour sort cattle. One bull T-boned another and were headed in my direction. I climbed the closest fence and when I ran out of planks, leaped into the air. I remember looking down as the bulls passed below me and the fence blew up into splinters.

  In my mind, this is what I looked like when I hit the ground.

  Most likely, what it actually looked like, was this.

  Anyways, I have the bulls in a pen. Apparently, there's one other thing that bulls think about, and it's keeping 15 inches of ball sack from freezing, when it's -25 degrees below zero, with the wind chill, outside. But it's only a matter of time before they start thinking about sex. Sex and fighting. I'll be surprised if the fences hold until Christmas.

This week, I'll be joining up with the other Dudes at Dude Write, with this post. I encourage you to pop over and read what the guys bring to the table. You can get there by clicking on THIS LINK

Saturday, November 17, 2012

#129. or, How many sleeps is it?

 Today I bought a candy cane..............

  My very good, bloggy friend Carrie, over at Hammock in the Honeysuckle, is still taking answers for her contest to win fame and riches beyond your wildest imagination. Well, maybe not quite that , but she's still giving away a trip. A freaking trip! So, because I just happen to love going on freaking trips, I'm answering her question again for another chance to win.

  This weeks question is this:

 How do you feel about the holidays this time of year, particularly the ever-melding of ThanksChristgivmasing that is continually being 'pushed' more and more each year?

  OK now, you need to know she asks these questions each Sunday. Last Sunday was November 11th. Remembrance Day. Last Sunday was all about remembering those who gave their lives so we could have the freedoms that we live with now. That's pretty important I think. I'm not particularly fond of having Christmas overlap with Remembrance Day, or Halloween for that matter. Or, getting the Sears Christmas wish book in August or whenever we picked it up and having to hide it in the closet until the season is, well, more Christmasy.

  So, I'm a Canadian. I'm not really sure how or why it happened this way, but unlike my American cousins south of the border, we had our Thanksgiving holiday way back in the beginning of October. I'm not going to take the time to google this, but I'd like to think that some time, eons ago, some of my Canadian forefathers,which would have technically been British forefathers at that time, were sitting around freezing their Christmas balls off, mid-November, thinking that if we had Thanksgiving a month and a half earlier, we could enjoy it in relative autumny warmth. And when the middle of November rolled around, we could  move on to  more Christmas season type things, like trying to avoid frostbite while stringing our Christmas lights. Or, if this Thanksgiving time warp thing happened well before the advent of electricity and holiday lighting, you could spend the time doing important things, like gathering win-ter  fu-ooo--el!

  Remembrance day was 6 days ago. I wasn't ready to start thinking about Christmas just then. But that was in fact 6 whole days ago. I've been taking note of the Christmas displays in the store windows. There's a flicker of holiday spirit starting to grow inside of me now. I'm starting to think about untangling my mile of extension cords, and about starting to drag out my yard decorations. For the first time in my life we have a bag of chestnuts. I'm going  to eat holiday chestnuts! I hope they're not gross? It's time to dust off that wish book and start looking through the toy section. (yes, that's still the first section I go to every year.) And I need to check the liquor cabinet to make sure we have spiced rum to put in the eggnog.

  I had to run to town to pick some stuff up today, and by the check-out till, there was a pail of candy canes. The traditional ones with the green stripe in them. Today I bought a candy cane....... fact, I bought four of them. And on the way home, I found the, all Christmas music, station on the radio and as luck would have it, White Christmas came on. Me and Bing belted out that sucker like it was nobody's business.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

#128. or, Glitter and Shit.

 I've never, over the course of my life, been one to gather up a plethora of awards. (See how I just slid 'plethora' in there to make me look smarter? I'm so good at doing that, that sometimes, I even fool myself.)
Anyways, I've never won many things in my life. I'm sort of the poster boy of the dreaded Participation Ribbon. Unless you count the 1st place I got in the "Design a Bookmark" contest the library held when I was in grade 3. Actually, you have to count that because I do. It's the only thing on my mantel. Well, that's not exactly true. It WAS the only thing on my mantle, before I began this blog about a year ago. Now I have a bunch of bloggy awards that I am extremely proud of. So many, in fact, that I created a page specifically to honour the awards that other bloggers have given me, and to have one place where you can go (mostly that I can go) and just look at all of my glitter and shit.

  Then, I promptly dropped the ball and ended up overlooking a couple awards, didn't follow through on the rules of receiving a few of them and failed to pass them on to other worthy bloggers. So now, I'm at the point were I can't go back and say thanks and whip up a big, all-well-to-do about those awards without coming across as complete fool. So, if you gave me an award, and I didn't follow the rules or acknowledge you for passing it to me, I'm sorry. I'm going to try to go back and redo my awards page and it will probably show up there, and I do appreciate it. I just got lazy for a bit. I'm trying to fix that.


Reanna, over at Rock The Single Life, has decided that I am still worthy of an award, regardless of my laziness. I like Reanna, she's a bit of a, CRANK THE VOLUME TO 10 AND BREAK THAT BITCH RIGHT THE HELL OFF! sort of blogger. She has no qualms about telling it like it is and if you get offended by that, that's your fault. Aside from the skateboarding, she sort of reminds me of a couple farmers that I know. She could slide right in with the boys in the coffee shop and not miss a beat with the conversation that, can at times get a bit blue when the boys aren't on their best behavior.

 She gave me this:

As is generally the case, there's a few questions to answer in order to claim this award. Coming from Reanna, she's mixed things up a little and of the 10 questions she was asked, I only need to answer 3 of them. So here's that:

1. Batman or Superman?
  I'm a Batman fan. Always have been. Mostly because he's just an ordinary guy who does extraordinary things. I could be the Batman, except I'm not very athletic.....and poor.....and I don't live over a cave. But still, who knows. Also, about Superman, I like the fact that his "blend in with the people" disguise is a pair of glasses.  I could do that and write a blog in a secret identity. Ken-inatractor-withglasseson. That way I could say whatever I wanted, and I'd probably swear a bit more while I did it. But you wouldn't know it was me........cause I'd be, like all secret and shit!

2. What musical artist do you absolutely hate?
  It didn't start out this way, but I have a growing hatred for Taylor Swift. They keep marketing her as this pure, innocent little song bird, yet she continually writes these songs about obvious, past lovers, and how miserable they all made her. She is/was (I'm not sure?) dating this young high school, Kennedy kid, buys a house right beside his parents, to be near him, and you know that this is all going to end badly, and the poor kid is going to end up as her song fodder. I think that's borderline stalker. She's the common denominator in all her failed romances and needs to stop making millions of dollars and fame off of the kiss and tell stories about all her guys. OH! And another thing, Shame on the Canadian Country Music Awards for inventing a fricken award to give her, just to get her to attend, so that all those pre-teen little girls who are looking up to this woman as a fricken roll model will tune in and watch! BAH!
 ................well, that went south in a hurry.
Also, I will neither confirm or deny that I actually watched a whole awards show.

3. You're forever trapped on a deserted island. For some contrived reason you get to pick two people and an animal to live with you there. Who are they?

I would pick my wife, and my dog Tuke. And Steve Buscemi.
My wife for all of the obvious reasons, and my dog because it always looks so relaxing walking along the beach, casually playing fetch with your dog.
Steve Buscemi because, while he is a brilliant actor, he isn't really the most pleasant fellow to look at. I figure if I'm stranded on an island without all of the amenities of home, it's not going to be too long before I begin to resemble Tom Hanks in the movie, Cast Away. However, even as a skinny, strangely haired and bearded, deserted island Tom Hanks, I'm still going to be a solid 7 1/2 compared to Steve Buscemi.

4. Favourite word/phrase/insightful quote? (I know I said 3, but I liked this one too, so there!)

I found this a month or two back and I keep thinking about it:

Whether or not you write well, write bravely

I've been seriously considering getting this tattooed on me somewhere, possibly my arm. Is that a bad idea?

 The last item that Reanna had asked, which was outside of the question list, was that if we could pick another name for our self, what would it be and why?

 You may not be aware of this, but my last name isn't really -inatractor. It's a name that I chose for myself, well......because to tell you the truth, I thought it was cool. Plus it sort of went with the direction that I wanted my blog to lean toward. I ended up changing my twitter name to that as well to make things easier. Originally, before I had any followers at all, and and that egg was still my profile picture, I was JDtraktorman. Yesh! I know, it really sucks. I had to use the "k" because there was actually somebody else named JDtractorman. JDtraktorman sounded a lot like a Soviet block superhero in green tights. I'm pretty happy none of you know about that awful name, that I just about was.

So, one last thing, I received this award from Kevin at Who Would Have Thought, way, way back in August and it's one of those awards that I never properly displayed.

I'm going to give this award to Reanna, because I think that she ROCKS BALLS too. The best part is that the only thing you have to do for this award is go to the site Rockin' Moma (a site that I've secretly been stalking since I received the award myself) and link your blog in the Rockin' Blogger Award section. Simple as that.

So take that Reanna! And thanks so much for the award!  :)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

#127. or, The CFR

  My wife and I went to the Canadian Finals Rodeo on Thursday. It's not something that we go to every year. Although there was a time, it was an event that we marked on our calendar and made a point of going to see.

  In fact, the last 3 times that we've gone, it's been as guests of the bank or, my John Deere dealership. Thursday, we were invited to a whole supper, with complimentary drinks and then attended the rodeo slightly buzzed on extra spicy Caesars. And then during the performance, our sections in the stadium were mentioned and it did, in fact, feel a little bit good to be part of that group.

   I know if you do the math and add up all of the money that was spent at these places, I paid for the tickets to these things many times over, but it's not really about that. I appreciate the gesture. Tractor dealerships are  pretty big these days and the same name can be found in a lot of towns, covering a fair chunk of the Province.  While we were at supper, I looked about and estimated there to be between 250-300 guests. Some of those were John Deere employees and the number of farmers that I recognized as my neighbours, was really quite small. I know that our area has many, many more farmers than I saw there, so I was pretty happy to be on the list. I'm certainly not going to be like the idiot who decided it was a good idea to wear his Case tractor hat to the John Deere function. It's going to be a while before he gets invited back. I wore my John Deere jacket, that cost me 3 tractors to get.

  I own a cowboy hat, and I own cowboy boots. I wore neither to this event. Partly because of the weather. We are coming off the grip of a winter storm here and the driving is frankly, THE SHITS! I chose footwear, that if I had too, I could walk, or keep from getting the black foot, and loosing my toes if I had to dig my wife's car out of the ditch. Cowboy boots have relatively no grip on them whatsoever, and while it probably would have increased my awesome quotient to actually show up at the Canadian Finals Rodeo in cowboy boots, doing the arms flailing, legs going in all directions windmill, as I eventually land on my ass on the ice, played a big part in my decision.

  Also, I'm not really a cowboy. I'm a farmer. Cowboys and farmers have a bit of difference in my mind. We try to achieve an end, that falls in the same general area but I think we get to that point by different means. I always picture a cowboy sitting out on a hill somewhere, on top of a horse, rolling a smoke from tobacco out of a leather pouch while he surveys his herd of cattle. I don't really like horses all that much. They scare me a bit. I check my cows with an ATV or preferably, the pick-up truck. Cowboys are rugged and tough and get a thrill out of leaping off the back of a horse at full gallop and wrestling a calf to the ground by hand, or catching it on the end of a rope in a combination of riding skill and hand-eye coordination that I can't quite achieve. I get queasy trying to play my kids video game. The only success that I've ever had with a rope is by herding the calf that I want into sequentially smaller and smaller pens, until the area that the calf and I are in are so small, that I can actually put the rope over the head of the calf, because he has no other option, as we're only 8 inches apart. Of course, I then throw the calf down in a flourish that would, in my mind at least, rival any champion cowboy.

  I also don't really have a cowboy name. I think that I might have an accountant's name. Or maybe the name of a toll booth operator. If you're going to be a rodeo participant, as a rule, you have a bitchn' awesome name. Here's a few out of the program from Thursday night line-up. Ty, there's a few Ty's in the rodeo. Or Tanner and Garret. One fellow was named Steele. I imagine if you're named Steele, you shave with a wood rasp. I saw a Zane, and a few Dusty's and a barrel racer name Trula. There was a fellow named Trygve. Trygve? If  your mom and dad call you Trygve, you wear cowboy boots even if it is 20 below zero, and if you slip on the ice and someone snickers, you just east them. Bones and all.

  The name that caught my attention though, was K's. I've been thinking of the wonderful foresight in giving your kid a name with a built in apostrophe "s" on the end. It lets you lay claim to anything that you put after it.  Like K's straight razor, or K's leather wrapped toe-nail clipper. Although, I would imagine a cowboy named K's probably doesn't own a toe-nail clipper. He most likely just has a pack of rabid wolves, chew them from his toes.

  ...........I sort of wish that my parents had though to add an apostrophe "s" to the back of my name. As in Ken's comfortable footwear, or Ken's recliner. Or, considering the weather, Ken's battery operated socks.

I am submitting this post to Dude write this week. It's where guy bloggers come together to submit posts, that get voted on from Sunday to Tuesday evening to see whose was most popular. I encourage you to pop over and take a look at them and maybe come back and vote on your favourites. 
You can get there by clicking on THIS LINK

Sunday, November 04, 2012

#126. or, The great get-away give-away guest post

126 posts ago, I would have never suspected that I would have made the friends that I've made while I've been here, blogging and sharing my thoughts with you. It's truly amazing to me at how you can make a connection with somebody that you've never actually met, in a completely different part of the world.

  I've mentioned before, (like, just last post!) that Carrie, whose blog is, Hammock in The Honeysuckle is one of those people for me. We just connected and share views on quite a few levels.

  Now, she's asked me to be a guest host on her blog. So while you're reading this, This same post will be up on her site as part of her Sunday offering on her Great Get-Away Give-Away contest. That blows my mind, that see would want my ramblings on her site, as I know it will be a step down in writing quality for her readers, but nonetheless, if your reading this from Hammock in the Honeysuckle, today you have me. I'll do my best. And I just want to thank Carrie for inviting me to be her guest blogger.

  So, as part of the great giveaway contest, it falls on me to ask this weeks question. I pose to you this:

Have you ever been on a trip or vacation that while things appeared to be going badly, something happened that changed your mind, from worst trip ever to, meh....this wasn't so bad?

  OK,  so this question was inspired by a picture that Carrie posted in an earlier question post of hers. It's from a story she told about how they made the best of a family vacation that started out poorly but they were able to turn it into something much better.

You can read her story  here

    Our family had that vacation a while back now. The kids were still small enough that we all travelled together. Like, all in the same vehicle travelling together. We had finally worked up enough funds and time to head for the west coast. It was a driving vacation and we had a small holiday trailer, that we had owned for a few years at that time. It was our very first holiday trailer and it was used, but it was still in pretty good shape and we were pretty proud of it. My wife was particularly pleased with the fact that it had a bathroom. That meant, no middle of the night excursions to find the outhouse. Because outhouses can be bit off putting even in the light of day, middle of the night outhouse darkness made her shudder. Also, the only carpeted area in our trailer was the bathroom. (you need to remember this, it comes back around later.)

  The first part of the holiday was actually not so bad. The trip to the ocean was going to take a few days and aside from 5 of us crammed into a truck that wasn't the most comfortable in riding style, it wasn't so bad. Little son was still in a booster seat strapped between the 2 older boys in the back seat. Which, while did make it even more cramped, it also had the added benefit of keeping the 2 older boys separated and from actually having to touch each other.

  So we were all excited to be going to the ocean. The very first time that our children would be seeing it. And to be fair, we were having quite a bit of fun on our way to the ocean. But the ocean was going to be the BIG THING. We were all looking forward to it.

  As we travelled, we saw and did cool things. We got to Vancouver and drove right through to the ferry to cross onto the island, despite my apprehension to big city driving. Our goal was to drive as far west as we possibly could. And as we got closer to our destination it began to rain, as is often the case on the "wet" coast. And in turn, a foul odor began to permeate our humble little abode.  The closer we got, the wetter everything we owned got, and the stinkier our trailer got.

  We had driven pretty hard to get there with the intention of spending a few days camping in the area. We found a campsite and strung up a makeshift clothes-line under our awning to try to dry out some of our clothes. But it seemed that anything that hung outside just took on more moisture, plus that foul smell was becoming unbearable. It was getting hard to be inside, which is where everyone wanted to be to get out of the rain and sleeping was constantly interrupted by the phantom stink we couldn't seem to find.

  Until it dawned on us! My wife and I were laying in bed and it dawned on us. The fricken bathroom carpet was the source of smell. Our little old , used, trailer, with the carpeted bathroom, the same carpet that had had at least a few years of our sons, plus who knows how many others, dribbling pee onto it. That mixed with the constant dampness of the climate we were in, was a terribly horrible blend. I got up in the middle of the night and ripped it right out of the floor and tossed it out into the rain. But then, I had to spend the next hour or so pulling all the staples that had been holding the carpet in, out of the floor.

  But we had enough and decided to get the heck out of there to try to salvage what was left of our vacation. We headed back across the island, the plan was, we'd cross the ferry and take the kids into Stanley Park in Vancouver. Except there was some construction and I missed the parking area turn-off and ended up being the only dumb farmer, with a truck and trailer, trying to navigate downtown Vancouver. Turning around was NOT an option. I white knuckled it and didn't stop until we reached Chilliwack.

  Having felt that we had short changed the boys out of Stanley Park, we were driving along and near Chilliwack, we passed a water slide, made a spur of the moment decision, and pulled right in. And we took the boys water sliding. And it was glorious. It was still slightly overcast, but warm and we practically had the place to ourselves. We had a grand time with no lines and any slide at out immediate disposal.

  That was 7 years ago. Sometimes, when we talk about the holidays that we've been on, our boys will talk about that water slide. Of all that they saw that trip, the ocean for the first time, the ferry trip, the fresh oysters that we BBQ'd. Of all those things, the thing they always come back to from that trip is the water slide. The water slide that we stopped at almost by accident. The water slide that we probably would have driven right passed if we hadn't been at whits end and just need a break.

  Sometimes it's the little things that are the biggest things of all. We haven't been back to that area since. Not   for any reason other that it's just too far out of the way. The kids used to ask to go back but I knew, it would never be quite the place that we all needed, just to get all unwound, the one stinky time.

  Now, there's only one thing left to do. Pop over to Carries site and answer this question and link yourself to her blog with the linky thing-a ma-bob she's going to add at her site. You just might win a trip, and who knows? Something magical just might happen on vacation to you if you, if you win her trip.

Friday, November 02, 2012

#125. or, let's dig up past traumatic experiences

My good friend Carrie, Over at Hammock in the Honeysuckle, is currently running this completely wonderful contest where she's giving away a trip.  YES! That's not a typo, she's giving away a freakin trip! Why, you may ask, would someone give away a trip when they are up to their eyeballs in stress and work (that's her) and could honestly use the time away themselves? Because quite possibly, she's the most awesome person, like....EVER! That's why!

  So how do you get in on this contest? Do you have to donate a kidney? Do you have to subject yourself to excruciating pain like the unfortunate zipping incident that I don't really want to talk about? No, all that's required is to answer a question. One answer is one entry. Each week there's a new question and each answer is a another time your name goes into the pot. Simple as that.

  This weeks question is:

 Have you had a funny or embarrassing moment happen where you thought to yourself, "If only someone caught that on camera, I'd win the $10 000 prize"? What is your cash prize-worthy moment?

 I have notoriously sleepy eyes. Also a bad haircut, but for this story, I only want to focus on the sleepy eyes.
Ever since I was a kid, I've been conscious of the fact that, more often than not, photos of me look like I've been on a 3 day bender. OK, not like since forever. When I was really little everything was fine.

 And even in about grade 4, things were still pretty good. In fact, I think that's also about the same time I peaked at my maximum cuteness. It's been all downhill from there.

  In grade 5, I knew that in photo's, my eye's were looking sleepy. I practiced in the mirror with various expressions so I didn't look like I was about to fall asleep. In fact, I still do that just in case I find myself in a photo op. I new what I had to do to give my best 1970's, Vinnie Bobberino look, in my polyester shirt. Except when it came time to put all my practice into play,  I blew right past Vinnie Bobberino, right into Marty Feldman.

 If you're in grade 5, that's a pretty tough picture to live down. When you're 44 years old, that's a pretty tough picture to live down. I had to dig it out of the back of the closet and blow the dust off it just to scan it. But of course now, it's all over the internet for the rest of my fricken life just in case somebody decides to google an image of me.

  For the last 35 years or so, at least there was a small piece of happiness inside of me knowing that there were 20 some other kids in that class who could dig out that picture on cold winter nights, huddled by the fire, keeping warm, laughing at the picture of the fool with the googly eyes. Maybe you can do that too.