Genetics

It was a pretty exciting day around here yesterday. Well not really, but somehow there was a sense of arrival in the air. Just as Ron, Russ and I were finishing up lunch, which if I may brag, included some pretty delicious biscuits, the doorbell rang. Our friend Wes had pulled in the yard, the dogs didn’t make a peep, so we were surprised by that bell. Wes had come to deliver the three bulls we purchased on Sunday afternoon. Lunch was cut short a bit as Russ and Ron scrambled out the door to see to the delivery. Russ had a pen ready for them and they got there without a hitch. The pen for the new bulls is directly across from my kitchen window, so as I puttered at a few things in the afternoon I could check up on those bulls and I did. At one point I could only see two of the bulls, I was not too worried figuring the third was out of sight just behind the hay bale. When I told Russ about it later he said, “yep, there is no way you are missing one bull, you either have all of them or none of them.” That got me thinking, “yes, right, if one guts a fence and escapes the other two are not going to be eyeing the hole in the fence and saying to themselves, ‘we better not.’ They are going to go. So, its nothing major or new but it was a bit of a reality check for me. Kindv’e like the reality check I needed at the bull sale, the reminder to keep my hands from waving in the air.

There really was a little bit of a feeling of arrival in the air. These big guys are so essential to our success, they are the Daddys of the herd and so in a sense, in hoping for the best with these guys we are affirming that this is day 1 of what we hope is a long story. This morning we did some brain storming about names. We try and link our bulls names to the ranch we bought them from. For instance, we buy a lot of bulls from McMillen Ranching, so we try and have names for them that start with Mc. We have a bull named McFlurry for example. We bought these bulls from Wes, so we decided we needed to give them names starting with W. Their tags have not been made yet but the list in front of me includes Wendell, Warren and Wonka (as in Willy Wonka but we can’t use that because Morgan has a cow named Willie, named after Willie Nelson). We need about 28 bulls to keep our herd bred, we now have that many but will need to buy a couple more for spares. In the spring they will all get semen tested to ensure they are sound for the breeding season.

The new boys in town.
The bulls and I. Here is hoping we travel a good road together.

Speaking of offspring, genetics and the like……our kids each have brought us interesting things to sort out and marvel at lately. They are all at such dynamic stages of growth.

Gina has kept in close touch this week, there is alot going on in her world. She has shared video clips from class work they have been doing and it really is something to see her in her element. She has stage presence, I can’t explain what I see or sense but those words will have to do, she has stage presence. What was a bit exceptional about our call today was the main topic of conversation, her mentorship. As a 2nd year student she has to create a piece of performance art, others at the school audition to perform that piece under her direction. The theme of Gina’s is stage combat. Yes thats right. This peace loving family has churned out a girl who likes nothing better than to perfect the art of well done combat on stage. She has a faculty advisor, a specialist in the art of stage combat and as it turns out the founder of the school. She is thrilled to be working with Jacque and told me with great delight, “I need 3 swords for the number I have created, but Jacque got 4 out of storage yesterday, so now I have four swords hanging in my locker waiting to be polished and used. I am a bit worried about sitting around the school polishing swords, that seems a bit out there.” The conversation and what she described amused me greatly. This is not something I could have predicted. I am thinking this is some of her Kyle genetics unfolding but I don’t know enough to say for sure.

This is a screenshot from one of the videos that Gina sent us to look at. That is Gina on the front left.

Jillian is bouncing back after a bad cold. She is resilient in so many ways but these days with all their weirdness have not been easy on her. One thing I love about Jill is that no matter how much she might not be on top of the world, she always always always has a space in her heart for our creatures. In the mornings when I go to make sure she is up sometimes she is just emerging from sleep, and out of that place of slumber she is always grateful and eager to welcome whatever four legged creature comes with me. Last week Jill stayed home while we went to a football party, she made supper and set the table for herself, Coffee dog and Buster. That marked the beginning of Coffee’s training to have a spot at the table and mind her manners. She is doing quite well. This is not Kyle genetics unfolding in Jill, at least as I know them, it is definitely her Bayliss side and it is lovely.

A tender, everyday kind of moment between Jill and Coffee.
As I started this blog last night, Jill and Morgan arrived back after Morgan’s basketball practice. Jill stopped into my office for a visit. I asked for her permission to post the picture of she and Coffee, Buster hopped up on her lap, she said to me, “you could include this moment.” I got it.
The picture that Jill sent us at the party, filling us in on how things looked at home. Coffee is a bit of a splashy water drinker it appears.

This morning was a bit tough at our house. Frustration levels were high as time was short and contact lenses were fuzzy and it meant for some frazzled moments before everyone was out the door. As I stood in the porch holding Morgan’s lunch kit and coffee to go, I was waiting to bid him good-bye. I watched him pull on those big size 12 cowboy boots, pull on his hoodie with his last name boldly printed across the back, put on his necktube and his jacket and top the outfit with his cowboy hat. As he got close to being all ready, despite the frazzled feelings in him and between us he said, “thanks Mom.” I think I said, “you bet.” I was standing there marveling at his growing up self. I passed him his lunch kit and his coffee and he said it again, a bit brighter in his tone, “thanks Mom” and then “have a good day Mom, love you.” I could see how he was making the shift from “feeling private and trying to get my act together Morgan”, to “ready to be out in the world Morgan”. It seemed an act of resolve to be kind, positive and grateful. My heart was stirred. I wandered to the back of the house to say to Russ, “I can’t even imagine what my Dad would think of that boy. He would be gaga for him.” Russ was nowhere to be seen. Amid the hullabaloo of the contact lenses he had slipped out and said goodbye, but I didn’t hear him. So I just pondered these things in my own heart. The height that Morgan has acquired is pretty clearly my Dad’s genetics being seen in this cowboy. It is a delight for me. An affirmation that “yes, my Dad lived.” Pretty much everything else about Morgan seems to be a direct result of Russell’s genetics and leading. They have been mistaken for each other in recent times. But more than the physical stuff is the character and skill set. And then there is the coffee. Morgan has taken his cue from his Dad and likes coffee, likes it instant and likes it triple strength. Apparently today he didn’t get much coffee enjoyed on the way to school and then left his coffee in the car when they got there. He had a caffeine withdrawal headache all day. Jill chided him later, “why didn’t you come and get me, I would have given you the keys so you could go get it. ” It seems Morgan has not discovered and therefore been drawn by the joy of iced coffee, yet.

Thats Russell in front and Morgan behind. The fact that needs clarifying says alot. This is another great Liz Griffin photograph.
Morgan, Coffee and I made an incredible batch of sugar cookies a couple weeks ago. I don’t know what we did right. Morgan was fun to work with.

Genetics are fascinating. As ranchers they are a matter of business and strategy. As parents I feel like it starts with “I wonder” type statements, “I wonder what would come from you and I creating children.” It becomes statements of “I wonder if I will ever sleep a whole night again” and “I wonder if I can afford everything this child needs.” At the same time, “I wonder how I ever lived without you” and “I wonder if I could love you more” type things are in our heads and on days like today, “I stand in wonder at you.” Yesterday cousin Lynn told us, “just wait for the grandchildren, that is fun!” We live in the moment but wonder about that day.

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