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 WELCOME TO MY BLOG! REFLECTIONS OF A SINGLE WOMAN'S LIFE ON AN OLD FARM.
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Monday, February 28, 2011

Does this mean winter is over?

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            I store my kayak over the winter months behind the tractor shed, but I may have to move it-or maybe climb into it later today. (That's it next to the tarp-covered wood pile.) Flooding threatens to pick it up and carry it right down to the overflowing pond.  I and the chickens are happy to see the vanishing snow, but the raging torrents of water washing down from the field north of here have brought huge deposits of mud; small islands that have erupted where once there was only grass.  The spring birds serenade this extreme change of the seasons.  I sing along with them.

 

3:59 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Recuperation.

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            Ahhh, ‘happy to report my injured back is healing.  Now that the excruciating pain has lessened I almost feel guilty lying on the sofa, reading home and garden magazines, laying out plans for the "new" south side of the house when/if the snow ever disappears and watching my favorite garden show (P. Allen Smith's Garden Home) on PBS.  Planning spring projects is a whole lot easier than actually doing them.  I have so many it makes my head spin.

            I can't wait to plant more peach trees, but first the two damaged trees must be cut down.  Then there's the arbor I've been wanting for years.  Until this winter's storms took it down, the old Concord grape vines had climbed high into an ancient pear tree at the orchard edge.  Now an arbor no longer seems a luxury, but a necessity.  New fencing will be going up along the donkey paddock ASAP.  This is most critical as the bad asses consumed nearly all of the tomato plants last year after breaking through the old woven wire barrier.  An expanded sunflower garden is planned to mark the canine graveyard.  Nothing is a prettier memorial or more wildlife-friendly than a great splash of sunflowers. 

            I've saved a vast array of squash, pumpkin and gourd seeds over the winter.  These vines do well here and apparently they always have, but they gobble up space, so I've got an idea for a way to accommodate those needs while minimizing the area I've previously mowed. This hand-painted sign was discovered in the attic when I first bought the farm. Maybe I'll grow enough to sell....

            Taking up all the ankle-breaking stonework that has served as a flagstone walk next to the doomed deck is a must-do as soon as the weather breaks.  The walk will be replaced with gauged stone and the removed rocks will be used to extend the existing rock wall.  Then demolition work begins on the old deck. 

            I'm trying to think of a way to entice volunteers for this "fun" project.  Of course food and drink will be offered, but somehow I fear that won't be enough to get many friends excited about wielding crowbars, hammers and saws to remove the old structure.  Ideas on how to garner a wrecking crew will be welcomed. 

            All this planning is exhausting!  I'm going back to my magazines.

 

3:07 pm est          Comments

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Home sweet home.

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            ...And so, having confronted and conquered all the post-vacation issues I was stunned to awaken yesterday to about a foot of heavy wet snow.  The gate at the end of the driveway was buried and getting the truck out looked pretty near impossible unless I did a lot of shoveling.  Oh well, I like to shovel snow, so it wasn't too bad--at first.... 

            I'd cleared the 16' x 16' area necessary to open the gate (so I could retrieve the anticipated mail from the cleverly-erected mailbox), plus a shovel-width track leading to the snowbound truck, then a footpath around the truck and part of the way up the brick path when pain ripped through my body.

            The sensation could be compared to wringing out a wet towel, except the "towel" was the large muscle on the left side of my back.  It hurt, but the gate was open and my friend was just arriving to collect the doomed roosters, so there was no time to collapse and worry about this self-inflicted injury.  After bidding the roosters farewell I sat down and realized the problem was bigger than originally presumed.  A pinched nerve launched spasms of pain that made the slightest movement almost impossible.  This is not a good thing, especially when one lives alone.

            But, enough whining.  I took a pain pill that had been given to me at the ER last summer following the yellow-jacket attack.  I'd never taken Vicadin before and discovered it is powerful stuff!  It pretty much knocked me out, but the forced relaxation apparently released the pinched nerve leaving me with just a very sore back today.  I'm okay, but have decided that any future snowfall will remain pristine and unshoveled!  Right now the sun is shining and rain is predicted, so I am interpreting these conditions as signs of spring; you know, that season when you turn the garden soil and pull your back out of place.

            Oh, BTW, due to the winter storm and heavy snow there was NO mail delivery yesterday and I have not been able to even try moving the truck.

 

 

1:14 pm est          Comments

Friday, February 25, 2011

Great to be home--or is it?

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            New Mexico was lovely, sunny and warm, but I was ready to come home.  I felt recharged and eager to get back to work and I'd gotten a great story that I'm sure will delight a few editors, but admittedly the sight of lots of snow upon landing was somewhat discouraging.  T. picked up my friend and me from the airport and as we approached home the first thing I noticed was that my mailbox was gone, snapped off at ground level.  The critter sitter had dragged it out of the ditch and into the yard, but until being reset (in the frozen ground) there could be no mail delivery.

            Ah, never mind, I thought.  The township road crew must have been responsible, so that meant they'd have to repair it just as they had in previous years.  It had been a long day of travel and I was whipped and just wanted to go to bed.  I sent the dogs outside for a final pee unaware that Pepe le Pew was also out there.  Three dogs returned reeking of skunk.  Thankfully it wasn't a direct hit, just enough to smell up the entire house, but I was too tired to care.

            The cats were all happy that mom was home and to express their pleasure they took turns parading across my weary body throughout the restless stinky night.  All too soon it was 5:30 a.m. and the aromatic dogs declared it was time to rise and shine.  Apparently they had buffaloed the critter sitter into believing this was the time they usually got up.  Oh well, there was a lot to do, so I dragged myself downstairs to confront the tasks du jour.  The shower light was burned out.  No problem, I thought.  Just unscrew the convex glass cover and replace the bulb.  Easy peasy, so long as I didn't drop it-oops!  It broke into a dozen pieces.

            At the hardware I learned the twenty year old fixture is no longer available, but perhaps I could retrofit the recessed part with an exterior part from a newer model.  Since there were no screw holes in the newer model the nice guy at the hardware drilled some for me.  After a frustrating bout of dropped screws, stripped screws and ill-fitting, too-short screws the "remodeled" shower light was finally in place although with three unmatched screws.  How many people look up at the ceiling while showering anyway?  I'm not going to worry about it. 

            The porch light had also burned out in my absence, but the screws holding the big onion globe in place were frozen fast.  WD-40 to the rescue, but it would have to penetrate the metal, so I made some phone calls to the township regarding the damaged mail box.

            The road crew claimed they were not responsible for the shattered post, hence they would not be replacing it.  I would.  Since a thaw doesn't seem likely anytime soon, I set the post in a couple of concrete blocks filled with sand.  So far, so good.  Frankly, I think my solution was pretty clever!

            Oh, did I mention that during my trip into town darling Julie passed the time destroying a handmade pillow my daughter had given me for my birthday.  The pillow is of course irreplaceable.  A word of caution; one should not scream displeasure at an erring dog for it only makes them pee on the floor, thus worsening an already ugly scene.

            The rooster who had been in rehab after being mauled by his enemy prior to my departure had recovered.  He had been protected from his aggressive foe, isolated in the hay room where he again became a victim; attacked by a coon who left some unmistakable evidence.  While the poor cockerel lost a lot of feathers, he is essentially unharmed, but alas both he and his brother will be going to a livestock sale barn where they will most likely be purchased for someone's Sunday dinner.  The big speckled rooster will remain here to serve as flock protector and stud.  Sending chickens to uncertain fates is upsetting to me, but keeping three roosters only guarantees bloody brawls that do not end until one of them is dead.

            And so while I am happy to be back home, my return has not been without incident.  Now that the storm outside my window has intensified maybe I can get to work on something less aggravating than home repairs.

11:14 am est          Comments

Monday, February 14, 2011

Bon voyage.

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            It never fails.  Whenever I'm going away, no matter how exciting or exotic the destination, I get sad and reluctant to leave the comfort and familiarity of home. In this case, even the ice and slush and wreckage have an endearing quality.  My animals look at me with that "NO, Please don't leave us!!!" look in their eyes.  It's difficult, but at 5:00 a.m. I and friend H. will be heading for the airport.  By 9:30 NM time we will set down in Albuquerque for a week of adventure.

            It is unlikely I will be able to post anything on this blog during the time away, but if possible I will.  Regular posts will resume on the 24th, chock full of interesting travel stories (I hope).

            Preparing for a getaway is demanding.  Suddenly the barn looked a mess. It took a long time to chisel away the ice blockade on the north side of the barn in order to get the doors open enough to dump the manure wheelbarrow.  And I could hardly leave the house adrift in dust bunnies (what an understatement) for neighbor Sandy, could I?  Things haven't been so clean in a long while.  Then there's the food issue.  Although my competent and thoughtful critter sitter always says not to bother, I want her to have goodies during her stay, so this necessitates grocery shopping and cooking.  The wood box is full of dry wood so she won't freeze and there are post-it notes all over the house.  I'm ready to go where the sky is blue and the air is warmer than it is here. 

            After a pleasant dinner with T. followed by an early bedtime and an even earlier arise time I'll be off to the Land of Enchantment.  Updates will appear if possible.  Ta ta for now.     

 

6:39 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday.

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            Waking to soft crowing emanating from the barn is lovely, but waking to ear-splitting crowing echoing from the bathroom is something else.  Little Red had to spend the night in the shower.  His feathers took longer to dry than expected and he said he really didn't want to shiver the night away in the cold barn. He was very content in the shower, so that's where he stayed, but he's back in the barn now. His feathers are so shiny he looks like a show chicken-- (well, not quite...). 

            I was happy to receive an email from someone thinking of taking LR to replace her  Charles Manson rooster, but as luck would have it another bird that until this morning had remained silent, thus concealing his gender let out several healthy crows thus eliminating all questions about his sexual identity.  Out of nine birds, three are roosters, one is a crippled hen and the rest are  free-loaders who occasionally crank out a couple of eggs.  Adjustments must be made ASAP.  I was happy to escape the madness here to attend Ginny's 100th surprise birthday party.

            The shindig was held at a clubhouse and there were no less than one hundred people in attendance, all who love this remarkable lady and wanted to share her special day.  It was lovely and I believe everyone felt honored to be her relative or friend.  I know I feel honored.  Ginny's only concession to her senior status was a cane.  She still has her own teeth, does not wear a hearing aid and only wears glasses to read. Over the past century Ginny has garnered the love of many.  I doubt there are many people half her age that could boast such a fan club.  What an amazing lady.

 

6:25 pm est          Comments

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The world is coming to an end.

            Remember when oddballs stood on street corners bearing signs with this message?  There was always one in downtown Cleveland, but I haven't seen him or any others in recent years.  Where are those "oddballs" now that their prophecy seems to be imminent?

            I've just returned from a screening of the documentary called "Gasland."  It's a sobering film about Hydraulic Fracking, the current technology used to release natural gas from shale deposits deep inside the earth.  Our new Ohio governor touts this as a great opportunity for the state.  He's wrong.  Plain and simple; this is an "opportunity" for a few people to get rich at the expense of the environment and this affects each and every one of us whether the process takes place on our land or someplace else.

            Interestingly the organizers of this screening invited oil and gas industry representatives, local and state politicians and everyone else from the pro-fracking side of the debate with the intention to hold a Q&A session following the film.  While the mayor of the host city was in attendance, none of the other invitees showed up, hence no Q&A. How convenient.

            What is being done to our planet is unconscionable.  Those who stand to make a quick buck employ the dirtiest of schemes to carry out their duplicitous activity and it's those who are the least-equipped to fight the consequences who will suffer the most, but not for long.  The ultimate ramification of those acts will be death, but don't take my word for any of this.  If you get the chance, see the documentary.  Until then here are just a few resources available on line.  There are lots more, but these are good starting points to begin educating yourself about this issue.

EARTHWORKS oil & Gas Accountability Project.  www.ogap.org

Northeast Ohio Gas Accountability Project.  www.neogap.org  Note Fractured Communities page.

Fractracker-Marcellus Shale Data Tracking.  http://www.fractracker.org/

Intermountain Oil and Gas Best Practices Project (on surface use). www.oilandgasbmps.org

Chemicals in Natural Gas Operations, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange. http://ww.endocrinedisruption.com/chemicals.videoplayer.php

Gasland (documentary web site with short clips). http://gaslandthemovie.com/

4:01 pm est          Comments

Bathroom makeover

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          Or, how to mess up the bathroom you just cleaned yesterday.  Answer:  Bathe a bloody rooster.  As you can see in the photos Little Red was very cooperative.  He sat quietly in a sink full of warm water and hardly protested at all for the shampoo process although, just like wild birds which voluntarily take baths in outside spas such as ceramic bird baths, Little Red began to ‘fluff' himself in the basin of bloody water.  Hence, the mess.

            So much blood was encrusted in the poor fellow's feathers that it took several rinses before the water was even remotely clear.  Of course he could not be returned to the chilly stall in the barn, so he's spending the afternoon in the shower to dry off.  I don't have a working hair drier and I'm not sure he'd tolerate that anyway.

            I'm surprised that not one person has inquired about this unusual (and clean!) cockerel, so once again I remind readers that Little Red desperately needs a new home ASAP.  By the way, don't think he expects to live in the house.  He will be quite happy in a coop with his own kind, just not with another rooster.

 

11:57 am est          Comments

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Manure management and wishful thinking.

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            Two little donkeys hardly warrant the expense of a manure spreader.  A wheelbarrow is usually adequate, but now that the barn doors are frozen fast and a deep bank of snow prohibits opening them until a big thaw I have had to make do with a muck bucket and a plan.

            Scott and Helen Nearing (Living the Good Life) were two of the biggest influences in my life. Their philosophy was to never do just one thing at a time.  For instance, when they went for a walk they collected rocks or wood or something else that was needed for a project that was underway or planned.  They didn't just go for a stroll.  They took this rule even further.  If they collected rocks on that walk, they deposited them according to size at the proposed site of use, hence eliminating handling the boulders more than necessary.  I'm using the Nearing philosophy in dealing with the winter manure issue.

            In summer I use wood shavings in the stall, but in winter straw is much better.  For the donkeys it is more comfortable and for the garden it is more compostable.  I'm sure Scott and Helen would agree that dumping the stall cleanings on one big pile in the winter and then loading wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow from the pile in the spring to haul to various garden sites would be an utter waste of time and energy.  ‘Far more logical to simply dump the litter on the intended spot now, so that's what I'm doing, but I'm running out of garden!

            I did this last year with stunning results.  The straw/manure mix broke down quickly and when the soil was turned the loamy mix was loaded with healthy earth worms.  My plants thrived.  It was a win-win effort, but it seemed much easier last winter.  Now the long ridges of manure mounds look as if giant gophers have invaded the place.  It's hard work lugging that loaded bucket, but the garden catalogs inspire me to continue.

            I've marked pages in the latest catalog with intended purchases, anticipating fragrant French climbing roses, maybe some apricots (still thinking about this ...), new peach trees to replace the broken, diseased ones that will soon be cut down, ornamental grasses that will sway in the summer breezes creating more privacy and adding new graceful beauty.  The list goes on and on and will most likely be heavily edited before placing the order.  There won't be much time for gardening as the porch project is going to be a major undertaking, but an exciting one.

            Like everyone else I'm counting the days until spring.  My guess is that February is the most lucrative month of the year for the garden mail order folks.  We are all sick of winter and eager to get our hands in the soil, but I guess perusing the colorful pages will have to suffice for a couple more months.  Darn!

            PS:  Little Red Rooster is still awaiting a new home....

 

4:36 pm est          Comments

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Offers like this don't come around every day!

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            Okay, I admit it.  I am sick, sick, sick of this winter and all the wreckage and trials of the season.  Yes, I know there will be readers who eagerly remind me how often I've expressed my love of the snow, the cold, the challenges, etc.  Well, enough is enough.

            It won't be such a big deal to fix the fence, replace the damaged chicken pen, cut down the ruined trees and clean up the yard debris, but tonight another problem surfaced and this one may not be so easily resolved. 

            Until this cold spell the chickens always come and go as they please.  They're free range and so the fact that the rooster-hen ratio isn't quite perfect hasn't been a problem.  Each cockerel has his own little harem, but now that they are confined to the indoor coop it has become a problem.          

            I opened the coop door this afternoon to find black feathers strewn all over the floor and knew in an instant that a cock fight had ensued.  The beautiful red and black fellow was tucked into a corner and when I picked him up it was apparent that he was the loser.  His rival, the much-bigger black and white speckled victor sat gloating amidst his bevy of girlfriends.  The red fellow's face and comb were all bloody and while I'm certain he will recover after an extended stay in the isolation ward AKA the extra stall in the hay room, he won't be able to return to the coop.  I must find a new home for this handsome, docile bird ASAP.  He would make a lovely addition to most any homestead.

            Imagine being awakened early each morning to crowing rather than an annoying alarm clock.  I can't imagine NOT awakening to this chorus.  He will gladly eat bugs from your garden and will tolerate being picked up and carried around should you choose to do so.  He's also very photogenic, although not right now       So, if Mister Rooster sounds like someone you'd like to add to your life, please contact me.  Of course he is being offered on a first come basis.  Valentine's Day is just around the corner.  What a perfect gift for your loved one!

 

5:49 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Smashed to smithereens.

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            All the heavy ice that brought down power lines, limbs and trees last week has been gone for days, so I was surprised to see a section of the board fence along the road "smashed to smithereens" as my mother would have said by a tree that came down.  I wasn't sure what smithereens are, so I looked it up.  It means fragments.  So, yes that's the condition of the fence; smashed to smithereens.  Oh well, what's one more thing to fix when/if spring comes.  I added it to the "to do" list and headed up to the barn only to discover the avalanche. It looks as if the ton of snow that had been quietly blanketing the steel roof all let loose at once, smashing the outside chicken pen and leaving a mountain ridge of snow the entire length of the barn.  ‘Something else to fix. 

            The donkeys had been working on the top rail of this pen for several months, so it's little surprise that it broke so easily.  Even so, Corky (building inspector) was very keen to investigate the wreckage.  He seemed pleased to find that bothersome pen smashed to smithereens. 

            Over the weekend my arborist friend dropped by to deliver some pine limbs for the donkeys.  The Donkey Sanctuary in Canada said that this is a good idea because as natural browsers they are equipped to gnaw on pine.  At first the two bad asses hurried over to check out the new "toy" in the barnyard, but since no one was admonishing them to leave the limbs alone, the attraction was short-lived. 

            "Pretend the logs are for a project and that you don't want them to touch them," advised friend R.  Sure enough.  If it's off-limits, it's fair game for donkeys.  They've been messing with them all day.  Such an easy way to break the winter boredom. 

           There is other big news on the road.  K. called to tell me the Z's burglar alarm went off a couple nights ago and that the security company called to say there was no response at the alleged burgled home.  So, now the road is abuzz with speculation.  Was there or wasn't there a robbery?  Seems to me a thief would be foolish to break into a home when there is so much snow on the ground.  We all know that CSI would be here in a flash taking casts of tire treads and footprints, but then we don't have CSI in our little township.  To be continued.

 

8:06 pm est          Comments

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fancy feet.

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            "No, no. No one is going but Ted," I say to disappointed Ernie and Julie. They act crushed, but Ted is ecstatic.  He's the chosen one and although he's not sure where he's going, he's happy that his chums aren't coming along.  I grab the leash and Ted and I head to the truck.  He leaps into the back as if he's a mere pup.  "We're going to the vet," I tell him.  He gives me his uh-oh look, but he's still happy and his huge flag of a tail is beating wildly against the seat.  He's going for a ride and that's big fun (he hopes). 

            We pull into Dr. Costsalot's parking lot and Ted, still full of optimistic excitement hops out and eagerly trots up the walk, but once inside the office his worry begins to show.  Obligingly he steps onto the scale which tops off at 114.6 pounds.  That's a lot of muscle.  It's the reason we are here.  Ted is a very strong boy who does not, under any circumstances want his feet messed with.  Consequently trimming his nails is impossible.  Believe me, I've tried everything, including enlisting the help of two strong friends, but that only frightened him and made the situation worse.  He has come to the vet to be knocked unconscious so those nails can be cut back to a reasonable length. 

            We have to wait until an exam room is available.  If Ted could figure out how to get on my lap he would, but since that isn't possible he comforts himself by pressing against my leg while looking up with that unmistakable worried-dog expression that always makes me laugh.  Dogs have eyebrows, even if they are the same color as the rest of them and like people who knit their brows to indicate concern, Ted's brows were knitted.

            The exam room is ready.  In an attempt to act cool and unconcerned he picks up his own leash and carries it into the scary room.  The vet tech laughs and takes it from him to lead him back to surgery.  "Oh no! Not surgery!" says my big black boy. 

            "He'll be out for about a half hour," says the tech, so I return to the waiting room to watch animal rescues on the telly until a wobbly Ted immerges.  He can barely keep his eyes open, but he's eager to get the heck out'a there.  It's not so easy for him to hop into the truck in his current state.  I have to boost him from behind, but he's determined and does his best to haul his hefty self in.   He's sleeping soundly now in his favorite spot.  His friends are happy he's home, but Ted is out like a light.  I wonder if he'll appreciate his $52.00 pedicure when he awakens.  Probably not.

 

4:48 pm est          Comments

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The latest

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            Prior to all this challenging weather I bought ice melting salt, dumped it into a big bucket with a scoop and put it in the garden shed.  I thought myself ready for whatever Nature dished out.  I didn't figure the bricks in front of the shed would ice up so thickly it would prevent the door from opening even an inch.  Grrrr....

            'Off to town to buy more salt to free the shed door.  In town it seemed everyone else was there for the same thing; salt.  Only four bags were left at the hardware and there were none at the grocery store.  I bought a twenty pound bag of salt and a sixty pound sack of sand, then spent most of Saturday chipping ice and coaxing the shed doors open.  In the garden shed I encountered my latest unexpected house guest. 

            The opossum who had been living in the groundhog hole across the road has decided this hostel for the homeless is much nicer.  There's a comfy bed and shelter from the cold and with a bit of luck, a tasty meal.  The poor creature looked pathetically ragged and hungry.

            "Wait here.  I'll get you something to eat," I said.  Now what would an opossum like that would not require a lot of preparation, I wondered.  I was cold and tired and not up to cooking a meal for a marsupial.  The bedraggled darling was patiently waiting and seemed ever so grateful for the big chunk of proffered cheese.

            I should have gotten the camera, but frankly one opossum looks a lot like every other opossum except for the degree of frostbite on the ears and tail.  This picture was taken of last year's guest. It was probably a late relative of the current camper who appears to be young.  BTW: Although opossums can live ten years in captivity (not appropriate pets!), their natural lifespan is only about a year.  They have many predators, but man is their biggest threat.  They are too often killed because of human ignorance.  Opossums perform a very useful ecological service and should be protected at the very least.

 

10:03 am est          Comments

Friday, February 4, 2011

Unconvinced.

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            It was eight degrees when I slipped and slid my way to the barn this morning.  When I opened the door to the outside from the donkeys' stall both boys rushed to look out as if perhaps the weather might have changed overnight.  Then they turned to me with a look of disgust perfected by these longears.

            "We heard you are planning a trip to the southwest," said Andy with sarcasm.  "Is this true?"  I had to confess that indeed I am, but I'm going for work-related reasons and it's even colder where I'm headed.  They refused to believe me. 

            "You know, we come from warm climates.  We hate this Ohio winter weather," Corky lamented.

            What could I say to my fuzzy-faced donkeys?  Lately my normally-loving, can't-get-enough-attention boys have become like two spoiled petulant children.  They have no patience for grooming, something they usually enjoy.  They toss their hay around as if expecting to find something special hidden in the flakes.  They nip at each other and when they do venture outside their stall they huddle next to the barn, occasionally reaching down to gnaw off another hunk of siding.  Spring can't come too soon.

            I tell them how fortunate they are and what a luxurious lifestyle they lead compared to the heart-breaking conditions just up the road at Kenny's, but they are unappeased.  My friend M. again went to talk to Kenny about the confined young bull and after a tour of the place with Kenny M. came here to tell me things are even worse than I'd reported.

            The bull that had been tethered on a short rope since its birth last May is now confined to a stanchion!  All mobility is now impossible.  M. says that while it probably weighs about a half ton, it has no muscle since it has never known any exercise in its entire life.  He said none of the three animals had any water.  M. is a persuasive man and tried to reason with Kenny, but only got "I'll think about it...," as a response. 

            "He's a weird old guy," said M.  That's an understatement. 

            For anyone else interested in animal welfare from a global perspective, the following website offers some useful information.  I t came from my British harness maker friend who works to promote humane practical harnessing for donkeys in developing countries.  It's heartening to see the efforts of other unsung heroes working to genuinely improve animal welfare. 

http://www.fao.org/ag/againfo/themes/animal-welfare/blog/en/

 

10:00 am est          Comments

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What the...?

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            Lying in bed last night, silently cursing myself for not having gathered kindling I heard what sounded like the snow plow.  Hmm, ‘must be blizzarding again, I thought.  When the roar didn't stop I realized it was not the plow, but the wind.  This old house shuddered.  When dawn broke I saw what those gales had wrought!

            No need to worry about kindling now.  The place is littered with downed limbs, branches and trees.  The peach tree I've been pruning and trying to salvage for two years has broken in half.  The little snowboat with its cargo of water buckets skidded all over the place en route to the barn, but miraculously arrived with most of the liquid. Even so the trip to the barn was very dicey. 

            The donkeys had been securely closed up all night, but the zephyr outside had them jumpy and when I opened the stall door they looked at me as if I were insane to think they would venture out.  They hate this weather. 

            A couple of days ago I became very concerned about Andy's odd behavior.  Normally the cuddlier, calmer and wiser of the pair he had undergone a Jeckell-Hyde transformation.  He had no patience with any hugs or affection from me and stomped around with his ears pinned back.  Without provocation he'd suddenly chase a dog, cat and even the chickens, not in play as usual, but with genuine malice.  He even kicked at me, something he has never done. 

            I feared he might be ill, but all physical signs were normal.  Only his disposition was "off" and all of the horse experts I consulted said the same thing; "It's the weather.  He knows a storm is coming."  They were right.  Now that the storm has hit Andy is back to his sweet old self.   Whew. 

            After the slip and slide journey to and from the barn, heading back toward the houseI was just in time to see my favorite apple tree split in two.  The weatherman says the winds are blowing at 45 mph, but I think the blast that is passing through the living room is only about 20 mph.  At least the power hasn't gone off--not yet anyway, so I shall hit publish before it does.  Apparently the worst is yet to come.  I'll try to get some photos later.

 

12:03 pm est          Comments

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ice bound.

 photos/blog425.jpg

            Everything is coated in ice.  It's really lovely, but listening to the fear mongers on the telly we are all being warned to stay housebound for who knows how long.  More snow is forecast for later.  I'm just hoping that things clear by the weekend for First Friday.

            First Friday is a great monthly event in downtown Canton which features open house at all the art galleries, live music, food, etc.  The focus this month at Second April Galerie (http://www.secondapril.org/) is called Furry and Feathered Hearts Project and some of the artists are donating a percentage of their sales to help animal rescue efforts including my daughter's rescue called Cripple Creek Ferals & Friends.  It will be a great opportunity to buy some inexpensive (or some expensive, if you wish...) original artwork while supporting a worthy cause.

            Here's a sample of what you can get for less than $20.00.  It's a steal considering this is original, not reproduction work by an award-winning artist who just happens to be my friend.

 

3:43 pm est          Comments


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