The birth announcements came in. Isn’t he adorable?
The back of the announcement says that Muggins is “loved much by beau, tam, asher, emilyn, and marsielle”. And that last part is an understatement. His big brother and sisters love Muggins so much, in a very physical way, that I regularly police early-morning arguments over who woke up first and therefore gets to hold the baby first… and I have to be very vigilant to ensure that the girls don’t smother the baby, quite literally, with kisses.
I can hardly blame them, though. The baby is so sweet that I don’t even mind (too much, anyway) getting up with him in the night. I think, too, that it makes a difference when it’s your fourth baby. With our first I was just so desperate for the baby to sleep, angry that he didn’t, and I felt like a total loser because no matter how many parenting books I read I couldn’t figure out how to make him sleep. From my myopic viewpoint at that time, it seemed like I’d signed on, unwittingly, for a new life of total self-sacrifice and zero opportunity to just lie down. But I didn’t know, then, that that particular stage would pass relatively quickly and that life would go on and that that baby would be a 7-year-old in the blink of an eye. So with the 7-year-old’s little brother, with little Muggins, I don’t feel quite so desperate about the baby’s noncommittal sleep habits — because I know now that this, too, shall pass — and that it’s actually going to go really fast in the grand scheme of things.
I had a thought that I wanted to tack onto my most recent post, The baby is good, the weather is bad. In that particular blog I wrote that the question “Does the baby sleep through the night?” rates high on my Dumbest Questions in the History of the Duration list. Yet — you know it’s true — people love to ask it. Another question which people love to ask, and which I consider to be pretty stinking dumb, is this: “Is he a good baby?”
Well. What, I wonder, is a bad baby? Can you imagine any decent mother ever saying, “No! He’s a bad baby. A BAD, BAD BABY! He is a BAD BOY!” Exactly what, I wonder, would a newborn baby have to do to be labeled a bad baby? Cry like it was his only method of communication? Regularly pee in his pants — obviously just for attention? Sleep less than the recommended eight hours? Chronically complain of a gassy belly, just like any ol’ hypochondriac would?
Sheesh, people. I feel like if we can’t ask intelligent questions, we shouldn’t ask any questions at all!
But maybe that’s not the real me being so cranky. Maybe it’s the me who’s a little… er… out of sorts, because I haven’t slept more than a couple hours at a stretch for four weeks now.
Speaking of four weeks, it’s hard to believe that Muggins is almost a month old already. Seems like we Blakes have done a lotta livin’ in the last four weeks, and not just because we’ve got a newborn in the house. This weather, these cold temps, this deep snow, the gol-darned wind that keeps drifting roads and cow trails closed day after day… here on the PV it all adds up to news that daily competes with Mr. Muggins for the front-page, top-crease headline story at our house.
Folks are saying that this winter of 2018 is the toughest we’ve had around here in 40 years (see last year’s blog about An old-fashioned winter). With Beau heading up day-to-day ranch operations, his main challenges have included…
*Procuring extra hay to feed cows unable to graze their snow-filled pastures
*Keeping roads open so semis can bring the hay in
*Keeping pasture roads open so the cowboys can feed the cows
The snow is deep. The wind is all too capable of drifting it. The county finally gave up on keeping the Sumatra Road open…
… but the ranch couldn’t abandon the county’s road, because there are people and hungry cows up there. The PV itself doesn’t have much for quality equipment… so eventually, in desperation, Beau got the okay to hire a local dirt-moving outfit to bring in heavy-duty Cats…
… and the Cat operators, all of C Bar A Earthworks, worked around the clock for several days to open up the county road and liberate the cow camps and plow trails into pastures so cows could be fed.
And then, this week, the wind stopped drifting the snow for a couple days, giving the Cat operators a well-deserved break and giving the gals living at the cow camps a chance to run to town for supplies.
Most all the cows on the ranch have, by now, been thrown into big groups that are being fed in small pastures situated close to easy-to-plow-open roads. It’s not our usual way of wintering cows here on the PV, so it’s all a little nerve-wracking for Beau and my dad.
Two weeks ago today Beau was on a borrowed snowmobile gathering cows out of a far-flung pasture. His nose suffered frostbite that day, though we didn’t realize it until it started peeling a week later.
One week ago today we got several more inches of snow. After weeks of working very long hours trying to plug all the cracks in the proverbial PV dam, Beau had promised to spend the day inside with me, the weary mother of a newborn and three others; with the three big kids, who are feeling a little housebound as the snow piles up in the yard; and with a wee baby boy who hadn’t seen much of his daddy yet.
It didn’t take long for Daddy’s-home-for-the-whole-day to morph into Daddy-promises-to-work-from-home-today. I think Beau’s phone rang about 40 times between early morning and bedtime last Sunday, and that’s not even counting the text messages. His job is consuming at best… but, man oh man, the wintry weather sure makes everything that much harder.
This week Beau flew with a pilot over the entire ranch, looking for stray cows stranded in out-of-the-way pastures. The kids and I dropped Beau off to meet the plane on one of the dryland fields above the feedlot, and away they flew!
The pilot was, of course, in the front of the plane… with the heater. Beau was in the back of the plane with, as he describes it, a hose that pumped warm air which he could only direct at whichever part of his body was coldest at the moment.
Beau’s left foot suffered a mild case of frostbite that day. He was so frozen when he got off the plane, he said, that he didn’t even call us to come pick him up with the pickup; he just ran on his stumps all the way home.
So, to sum up our life these days, when he isn’t working outside in extreme and challenging conditions, Beau is running long distances while wearing heavy cold-weather clothing. He regularly skips meals and often goes eight hours without eating — because who has time for lunch?
I, on the other hand, am home with the kids all day — and I eat hourly. At least. What can I say? I just had a baby. I’m very hungry!
Also very housebound.
Please come soon, Spring!
© Tami Blake