Live Through Us at The Burrow


July 2012

South Fentress County Schools-RUN!!!

UPDATE:  My child has been in the forth grade for a while now, and has made excellent grades.  His last report card contained 3 A’s 1 B and a C.  Take that Ramona, Tracy, Randy, and Mike AND SHOVE IT! 

UPDATE TAKE 2:  Unfortunately, this did not last long.  In fifth grade, my child was given zeros on days he missed due to our religious beliefs.  He was then refused textbooks, despite protests.  After two weeks of no textbook, he was failing science.  I pulled him out immediately, placed him in an umbrella school, and began Abeka curriculum.  His level is atrocious.  When I pulled him from fifth grade, his level was that of third grade-when I put him in.  It was a great deal of work, but he is doing much better now!  He missed several important items that we are having to go back and teach on the side.  The homeschool requirements changed so much, that it was apparent TN no longer wants independent homeschoolers.  As against it as I was, I just used an umbrella anyway.  I can get testing through them, and they provide legal assistance when the board bullies rear their ugly heads, so it does help.  I have contacted the school board at the state level, and there is nothing to be done.  My advice-stay away from South Fentress Elementary, and Fentress county schools in general.  I have heard from other homeschool parents that the school board is telling parents falsehoods.  They are telling them that they can come into their house at any time and inspect things.  THIS IS NOT TRUE!!!  Know your rights!  I also recently read where the school board donated a fire truck.  The school board that doesn’t use Box Tops, will donate a large vehicle, and yet requires fund raisers?!?!  Shame on you Fentress County Board of Education, and shame on you TN for allowing such a corrupt and horrible place of power to exist!

And now begins the original post:

We moved from Knoxville, as most of you know, where my child was public schooled.  We homeschooled him when we moved.  It just made it all easier.  The time came to put him back into public.  I contacted Randy Clark and was told it would be better all around to place him in school at the end of the year rather than at the beginning of next year.  I assumed I could trust them, after all I trusted the Fountain City staff, and my mother was a teacher for 20 years or more.  I was told by several parents who homeschooled around here not to put him back in, and especially not South Fentress.  I didn’t want to believe their stories.  It couldn’t happen to me.

But it did.

I will make this as brief as possible.  If you want more detailed information, please ask.

He was tested where he was scored at a 5.3 grade level.  They put him in the 3rd grade due to his age.  They REALLY fought on this and would NOT put him in the 4th grade.  I went along with it.  I was going to give them a try.  They failed.

A few weeks later we are in a conference where he is failing because, and I quote, “Well, he’s silly.”  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  I didn’t take the meeting too seriously b/c of my past experience I knew they couldn’t possibly get away with something this ridiculous.  I was not given a single piece of work to back anything up other than a list of present grade averages for the subjects.  The only other thing I ever saw was homework, which didn’t even count towards his score.  He was also enrolled in speech in this meeting, which I had no problem with, and agreed with enrollment.

I didn’t worry about it.  I had to go back to work and we were having our own problems.  I really didn’t want to “take on City Hall” as my friend put it…not again.  (I won the last time too).  He was unable to pick up his report card from the school because we were given the wrong information about the last week of his school’s schedule and such.

We, his parents who have been homeschooling him for over 2 years, thought long and hard with prayer as to what to do about retaining him or not and how we felt about it.  We decided to let him go on to the fourth grade.  And we said as such when the school sent home a paper asking our opinion.

I had to call and call and call to get the stupid Board of Education to do their blasted job of mailing me his report card.  His teacher-Ramona Hall-hadn’t even turned it in.  So I waited about 2 weeks.  I get the report card and it shows him as retained.  It also showed him as testing at a 3.7 grade level just 6 weeks after his initial exam.  I am now mad.  I call, and then I wait for FOUR WEEKS to get called back.  When Mike Jones did call back to tell me that they were waiting for his records because his teacher still had not given said records to them, it was NOT to apologize for taking so long.  This man doesn’t know what an apology is.

When they did get the records, and finally called me, the first words out of his mouth were, “I’ve been trying to get a hold of you.  You’ve been on the phone for 15 minutes!”  What a jerk!  We then have a “conversation” where I am largely ignored and finally personally insulted with him saying, “I’m glad you’re putting him in public school.”  “Why is that?”  “Because I don’t think you can sufficiently educate your child doing what you’re doing.”  Remember how I called him a jerk?  To top it all off, he hadn’t even looked at my child’s record, only the note attached to the front.

So, we have a meeting where I learned he had the handshake of a turnip and he thought himself to be wonderful.  Before this meeting, I had a chat with legal services at the Department of Education for Tennessee.  I was told I could record the whole meeting on tape without their knowledge.  So I did.  Here is what happened:

Every time I said something logical that proved my point beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of them would say the same thing in their own words in order to make it look like their idea, and then the other would agree with them as though it was their idea (these two were Randy and Tracy).  I played along.  I wasn’t there to win an argument.  I was there to get my child placed in the correct grade.

Mike Jones played every trick of making us wait (I over heard the conversation he had with someone about making us wait), trying to find a common ground with my husband “So, you’re a cattle man!”  My husband saw through it all.  Like I said, this isn’t the first time I’ve taken on City Hall and won, nor is it the first time my husband has been along for the ride.  Tracy-the principal at the school, whose husband is also the county judge, and Randy Clark were both there.

Randy Clark criticized my placement of him in the latter part of the school year.  I reminded him it was his recommendation.  He then said, well yes, it was preferable to him wasting three months.  I then argued that it was not three months, it was 6 weeks, and it was not wasted thank you very much.

Tracy wanted him retained because of his age, at which point I informed her how I felt about that stupidity.  She then argued that he gave the wrong year of his birth when tested for placement and how that was a great concern for her.  I rolled my eyes, and presently laugh at the ludicrousy of it.  (that’s the best you can come up with?!?  Wow-that is sad!)

Not really, because what was even sadder is when they tried to figure out his final grades prior to the inclusion of the TCAP scores.  For one, the TCAPS were not taken into account.  I was able to prove that to them with simple algebra.  They, on the other hand, couldn’t figure any of this out on their own because the scores weren’t sitting in front of them.  THAT was REAL sad!!!  (and they’re in charge of teaching my child?)

So…THEN I had had enough of their stupidity and informed them how I felt about it all at which point Tracy informed me that she had indeed already passed him into the fourth grade.  You have GOT to be kidding me!  (remember what I said earlier about it all being their idea?)  If that were true, than you would not have argued this over the past hour, nor would his report card have said otherwise.  Of course given the barrel of monkeys I had to deal with, I wouldn’t doubt that being the case.  Idiots.

I had my opinions as to why they so desperately wanted to retain my child.  Many think it’s because he was homeschooled and they either need to unhomeschool him or make an example of him like they do all the other children that are homeschooled and enter into public later.  Others think it’s because they’re lazy and want a kid that will get easy A’s.  At this point I don’t care what their reason was, it was wrong.

We will give Fentress County schools one more try.  NOT the other way around (they actually said they would give my child a chance), and the next year the local private school may just gain a new applicant.  I am NOT alone in this.  MANY Fentress county parents have pulled their children to homeschool them because of the retention policies.  This needs to stop-NOW!!!

The trip for more bulls

I was NOT comfortable with the new truck.  My dad insisted on buying one because he didn’t like the one we had.  I play along…biding my time….for the I told you so’s.

He bought a red diesel.  I have driven many things, Mac trucks, school buses, tricycles, auto, stick, but never a diesel pickup with power anything.  Suffice it to say the first time I drive it, I literally squeal through 2 red lights in Crossville, running both and almost hitting people.  Apparently you do not push power brakes, you blow on them.  They took it apart, not realizing I was being Herman Munster this time, and did find where some hoses were missing or something, therefore causing less vacuum on the brakes and for them not to work as well (could you imagine if they were working well?).  They also discovered the shoes were misaligned as well or the pads were worn.  I didn’t know nor did I care because as far as I was concerned it was a demon possessed vehicle that needed to be drug out to the junk yard and shot.

They drive it again telling me there’s nothing wrong with it.  I almost squeal through another red light and that is when I realize my braking problem is my over used hamstring, not the truck.  Imagine my chagrin (I know, it’s the latest fad in vocab, but you know I had to use it at some point).

But, they do eventually show how my little bag of I told you so’s would not stay shut for too much longer.  We’ve run out of bulls.  We’ll have more customers next spring than we’ll have bull calves, and the list is growing.  We’ve had to quit advertising and ask for downpayments from new customers.  I’m not complaining, just shocked.  So Arlis finds some from across the state we can buy to ease the masses.  I decide it is not in my best interest to drive said truck across the state until we can work out a better understanding of each other, especially pulling bulls in a trailer.  Dad and Arlis take off.  They pick up the bulls and jabber a bit with the breeder who we have a pretty good relationship with already.  Then they head back.

Now dad likes spontaneous adventure.  So do I, and I have been known to pull off for no reason and do something for no reason other than because it’s there and I want something different.  I mainly like to eat places I’ve never heard of before.  (I guess that could be dangerous come to think of it).  But I would not choose to do this with a load of bulls.  My dad does.  Now, bear in mind, he has many more years of experience at driving and hauling trailers than I, and was an OTR driver for some time before I was born I believe, so it’s not completely stupid for him to do this, just mostly.  (are you ready for this?)  He pulls off into the WRONG part of town in Nashville and winds up where there are bars on all the windows and a bunch of loitering and they are getting the LOOK.  You know the look.  You’re white-go home!  With bulls in the trailer….picturing this is too funny!  Thanks be to God they do not break down there, because they DO break down on the interstate just a bit later this side of Nashville.  They’re driving along when they notice oil all over the side of the truck and trailer.  Something BIG has blown up, and they are now quite concerned.  I save my little bag of I told you so’s for a more intimate time.

I get the call, on my day off, trying to spend time with Marcus, to come pick them up.  I have to drive the other truck because these bulls can’t be left in this weather in a trailer.  And this is where my little blue truck gets to come to the rescue.

My dad has a riding mower he calls Old Blue because as beat up as it is, and as slow as it is, it will always eventually get the job done without costing a bunch to fix.  Perhaps I shall adopt said title for said truck.  So we pack up and stop to fill up and get some drinks at THE red light in town.  It doesn’t start.  I call because this has happened before and something is going out on it we think.  They say to let it cool down and try again.  So here I am, sitting at a pump for half an hour waiting for it to cool off in 100 degree weather, and it still doesn’t start.

Meanwhile, on the interstate, they add a gallon of oil to the truck and get it started and actually make it home going 40 mph.  We, on the other hand, get to walk the 7 miles home hoping someone will take pity upon us and give us a lift.  Our neighbor cop does, while on duty, and then oogles over Fargo again like he always does.  (Just buy some cows already).  But Fargo enjoys it as always, and it does make me proud that he’s as good looking as he is.  (yes, it’s an ugly pic-it’s supposed to be funny)

Look at me-I’m beautiful!

They get home, and just before sunset, we get all the animals taken care of and head off to the blue truck to find….a broken wire connecting to the battery.  $5 or less later, we’re driving the truck home.  They have to rebuild the engine on their truck.  THIS is when the I told you so’s were not said, but many bouts of laughter were hidden behind a huge smirk!  And they knew EXACTLY why!!

A neighbor gave us a heifer today….I think

I was at work doing the morning shift of 5am-2pm.  At first break, I called Arlis and he started getting worried b/c Fargo was really acting up.  Next thing I know he sees a black/white heifer in the neighbor’s field.  (The one you see down there)

 This field doesn’t have cattle, or at least hadn’t in the past, so he was concerned about it.  And then I hear unpolite words from my husband’s mouth, as he watches said heifer break through our fence and start grazing in the garden.  We hang up and I call back later.
She broke through here

Then she made her way over to the garden.  Arlis got her into cattle alley…where she broke out again.  He finally got her back into cattle alley, and into the upper field, and into the barn.  I have no idea how.  I was at work, and he’s much better with cows than I am.

After my tour of the repaired damage, I went to see yon heifer.  On my way over to see her, I found Boy’s latest toy.  It’s a mole…good Boy!

And I notice the ducks could really care less about it all.

And then I see the big girl.  She’s actually very sweet.
After a day in the barn to calm her down a bit, we shut the gate to the drive, and decided to let her loose in the upper field.  The other cows were already brought up there.

And Fargo was having a chat with Horns over who’s boss around here.  Horns has to be kept separated until all girls are known to be bred, or he goes to beef-whichever comes first.

We let her go, where she immediately found what she wanted.

And so did Fargo.  That’s his…come hither moo.

Why hello there!

Is that…Ode de heifer?


Well, you can guess what happens next…

Oh look a mimosa tree to be!

That has a flower beyond cool with neon colors.

All the other girls are getting along.

Can I go back in the barn?  Nope-we have to keep her for 90 days.  After that, if no one claims her, we’re selling her.  I named her Baldy.

UPDATE!!  A neighbor that was out of town when the cops asked around came by a few days later and claimed her.  He described everything perfectly, and even gave us some hay for keeping her safe.  She’s back home now, at least until she breaks out again 🙂

The saving of calves

A quick and easy way to get started in cattle is to buy a bunch of bottle calves.  (many) Dairy farms strip the bulls from their mothers the second they see it’s a boy without even letting it nurse once.  They sell it for next to nothing (we got ours for $40 each) and milk the mother.  This means you get colostrum in the milk you buy at the store, but the calf that will die without it does not.  The bulls wind up getting scours every time where they are shot up with antibiotics, anti-diarrhetics, and about half survive.  Why they don’t leave them with their mothers and sell them later for meat for over 10X the price is beyond my understanding.  Especially considering how little milk they consume.  That’s another topic.

We did buy a few of these.  I refuse to buy them now because we don’t have to anymore.  We are established.  I won’t even let Marcus get another one because I refuse to support such a horrible industry if possible.  But because we did, we now have experience in nursing calves back to health.

We recently had a problem with one.  Little Paprika, our first heifer to actually be born here, wouldn’t get up. Pepper, her mother, had her in the woods and she wasn’t nursing.  We carried her to the barn and kept her and Pepper separate from the others.  We started antibiotics once a day injections for five days, per the vet’s advice, and tried to tube feed her.

Tube feeding a calf is hard.  One reason is you know it hurts, but you don’t have a choice if you’re going to save them.  But Paprika is a Dexter calf.  They’re little, I mean LITTLE.  She’s about the size of a goat now.  A regular Holstein calf is quite a bit bigger, but it’s still hard to get that tube down their throat.  They don’t sell smaller sizes, and that tube is NOT going down!  (If you do decide to tube feed, be sure to do great research, and lube the end with cooking oil.  If they’re strong enough to fight you off to where you can’t do it, they don’t need it.)  So we pray her life into God’s hands and try to get as much in her as possible.  She will not take a bottle or teet, and can barely stand with support, let alone without.

I was racing late for work b/c I spent time trying to do the afore mentioned, but was able to learn during break that Arlis found her standing in the watering bucket with a full belly.  That night we tried again, but she fought back more-YES!  Then the unthinkable happened.  She mooed for Pepper, and Pepper mooed for her, and she nursed.  We all stood there still and silent for fear of scaring her away or making her stop.  When she went and laid back down, we gave the fake milk to one of the lambs and went to bed hopeful.

(You can see how bad she looks)

The next morning, we gave her her second shot of antibiotics.  We brought a bottle.  One look at it, and she bawled for momma.  Here came Pepper, and she nursed.

Day three brought more hope as we gave her a shot, and by evening, she was up running around and nursing on her own.   Keep in mind, drought hits here around August for about two weeks.  We planned for it with long hoses and a sprinkler to water our half acre garden that feeds us for the next year in staple crops, and for temporary joys as well.  We do NOT plan for the drought to hit NOW and last for four weeks, and do NOT plan for 100 degree weather when we have snow storms that keep us home for a week or more at a time, especially in JUNE.  But Paprika is holding on.

Day four, we give her a shot, and work outside a bit.  We pour water on her, and a bit later, put a box fan that blows over, but not on her.  Even Pepper likes this, and returns to the barn enjoying the “wind”.

Several days later, Paprika has put on weight, nurses normally, and has energy.  (I love this age because they run around with their tails straight up in the air-too cute).  At near one month old, we put her back into the lower field with all the others.  Fargo was thrilled to death and immediately began sweet talking Pepper.  The calves played together with fair fun, no bullying.

Whew!  One more calf nursed back to health.

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