Dear Tom, I fed the piggies and I returned home to a mystery.

Went to Montana to visit my daughter and son-in-law. As you know they live an amazing life. Eight thousand acres at the foot of the Crazies.

in the shadow of the Crazies

Looking toward The Crazies from the back of the calving shed.

Six hundred head of cattle. It’s near the end of calving season– I always go during calving to help with the new yearling bulls and the bottle calves. This time I had four bottle calves to feed (one calf each from four sets of twins) and two piglets. The piglets are hilarious. You’ve never ever seen two animals so excited about food, not ever, not once in your entire life. They pretty much turn somersaults when someone shows up with the slop bucket. (They do have an automatic feeder in their enclosure.)


Yummy food scraps!

Pity they’ll be bacon at the end of the season but in the meantime they lead a terrific life!

As do the cows. It’s a great life for a cow. A rancher lives and dies for his/her cattle. They come first- always. Plus what’s not to like about roaming eight thousand green grassy  acres? And if you are a cow, as in a girl, you are likely to live out your life on said eight thousand acres. And the occasional steer, like my sweet boy Hank of last year.


My little steer.

This year I got to teach a premie to nurse- sat her on my lap. She was the cutest thing ever! But it was challenging to feed four babies at once. They spend a whole lot of time butting each other. I could feed two at a time– brought the new cattle dog, Nip, into the calving shed with me to occupy the other two.

Plus it was my birthday. I got to Montana every birthday since the year before my daughter got married. She took time out of her insane calving schedule to bake me a luscious cake.


Lemon cake with homemade lemon curd and raspberry jam filling and marscapone frosting.

But I returned home to a mystery. How did one of Jake’s old backyard toys end up in the lavender patch in the front yard? Remember, both our gates are padlocked and our fences are six feet high.


The mysterious moving stuffed elephant.

Was it dropped by an owl? Did a bobcat decide it wanted to play with a stuffed elephant? Was it, oh, I don’t know… Bigfoot? A youthful Bigfoot?

Seriously– How did the elephant end up in a patch of lavender in the front yard? The elephant has been in the backyard since Jake was a puppy. He neither destroys nor loses his toys.

I have got to order that game camera. Oh, and Jake still smells skunky.

XOXO! Julia

17 thoughts on “Dear Tom, I fed the piggies and I returned home to a mystery.

  1. fangswandsfairy(alt)

    That’s like when, at our old house, some neighborhood cat left us three headless rats while we were away on vacation. Hopefully it was a cat….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Thanks, Steph! I thought about a cat, but the elephant is actually pretty heavy and I’m not entirely sure one of the neighborhood cats would be interested. Besides, they are terrified of Jake!
      Headless rats, eh? One of my cats used to leave mice on the kitchen counter– Breakfast!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marylin Warner

    happyHappyHAPPY birthday, dear Julia, Happy Birthday to you… and your little bottle-fed buddies, too! 😉
    I loved this post. It brought back so many happy memories of bottle feeding piglets on my aunt and uncle’s farm. Except for one time when a mad mamma sow got into the bottle feeding area and charged us (I think she was out to protect baby piggies in general).
    Your daughter made a wonderful b-day cake, too. No easy thing during calving season. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      I love those pigs, Marylin! They are so fun. Sometimes mama cows do the same thing with any nearby baby. A bit of a problem. It’s like being charged by a short rhino.
      She did make a wonderful cake! It was delicious!


  3. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt

    I’m still thinking about poor Jake – the thought of an animal with such a sensitive sense of smell having to be aware of that very intense and horrible smell all this time is torture. My sense of smell doesn’t saturate (CFS side effect), and I can’t stand to be around people who use perfume (it just never goes away). I hope Jake’s does.

    And a most Happy and Hoppy Birthday – bottle-feeding the babies must be fun for at least a while, and it won’t last forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      He’s okay, Alicia. Got it right between the eyes so there is this quarter-sized spot there that smells. Other than that he’s fine. The vet said it should wear off in a couple weeks. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Diana Stevan (@DianaStevan)

    Julia, I find it fascinating to read about your daughter’s lifestyle, and also about how you are involved with the calves. 8,000 acres! Wow! As for the little stuffed elephant’s journey, looks like someone else wanted to play. A belated Happy Birthday. Looks like it was a good one. That cake looks scrumptious! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. juliabarrett Post author

      Thanks, Diana. I would move to Montana in a heartbeat! If only… Oscar likes California. Nice place to visit- never wanted to live here.



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