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Sunday, April 28, 2013



Where to begin....   A sick donkey, lots of visitors, lots of labor, lots of rain and no phone service for starters.

All the spring greenery is wonderful-unless you happen to be a silly ass who ate too much of the fresh grass.  Andy was fine until I went to the barn for Friday afternoon chores.  My favorite ass was on three legs and obviously in a lot of discomfort.  All of the standard examinations suggested an abscess, not uncommon in the horsey world this time of year. 

Andy was most appreciative of the hot Epson salts soak and he stood quietly while I packed the foot and wrapped it.  My wonderful farrier Lori said she'd come in the morning.  By Saturday Andy was worse, but he gave Lori no trouble as she cut and dug at his sore foot.  He is somewhat better today.


Saturday was also the day friend L. decided to build her lasagna garden, something that seemed to me a lot of unnecessary work, but as this picture indicates, L. had the assistance of bad ass #2 to help. (Corky is beside himself with worry about his partner in crime.)   L. says that once the multi-layered garden is ready to plant it will be carefree and since she's an excellent gardener I'm sure she's right, but meanwhile I'll stick to my easy peasy fencerow plot.

As L. toiled laying down cardboard, straw, grass clippings, peat moss, etc. I toiled planting cana lilies, dahlias, poppies and mulching everything with chopped leaves and rotting stall cleanings.  The gardens always look so tidy and promising this time of the year, but I expect that like most other years the weeds will ultimately overtake my efforts.  Multiflora rose eradication continues in earnest with plans to replant the cleared areas with native wildlife food plots.


Soon R. arrived with her four dogs (two of which are Ernie's brothers) who had come to enjoy a pool party.  Such galas are limited at leaky pond, but at this time of the season the water was high, the temperatures were warm and a good time was had by all.  At the end of the day we had seven dirty, happy, tired dogs. 

By late afternoon we were enjoying drinks and conversation on the porch when two sport hunting cats set out to kill a bunny.  The chase was on!  L. and I were not nearly as fast as Tom and Tiny, but the bunny was saved.  I put it in a basket and L. would release it safely away from this game preserve on her way home.  Finally all my guests departed and it was time for evening chores.  Andy was lying down in his stall as his fretful friend held a vigil outside the barn door.  I was just leaving the barn when something caught Corky's eye.  "Oh, look who's here," he said staring toward the gate. 

Ambling down the fenceline as if he hadn't a care in the world was the suspected egg thief Rocky Raccoon.  "Hey, I only got one egg and I'm still hungry. 'Got any cat food?" he asked making his way toward the garden shed.  Feeding nine cats is costly enough.   I'm not running a diner for free-loading coons, so clapping and shouting I sent him packing. Although he left without raiding Rattycat's food bowl, I know he'll be back.


The fencing project was scheduled for completion today, but chilly rain has aborted that plan.  The rain also took out the phone service again.  So, what to do on a dreary Sunday?  Make rhubarb custard pie and enjoy lunch with yet another friend who stopped by for a visit.  'A busy weekend.


6:26 pm edt          Comments

Wednesday, April 24, 2013



While the source of the project isn't very big-- not even twenty pounds, the project she (Tess) has necessitated has become monumental.  What seemed like an easy fix has snowballed, proving once again that there is no such thing as an easy fix. 

When someone walks, runs or bikes down this road Ernie and Julie like to race along the fenceline barking friendly greetings.  Tess, being much smaller took the welcoming task a bit further by slipping between the boards and following some unidentified bonehead (BH) who was briskly walking by with a cell phone plastered to his head.  The pup was through the fence in a heartbeat and although she was only inches from his feet and I was racing behind at top speed (which wasn't nearly fast enough), screaming for the pup and for BH to "STOP!" he paid no mind and continued on his way heading toward the intersection at the end of the road. 

The mindless pup practically attached to his foot would have alerted any intelligent person that it could be in danger.  The car that rounded the corner sending my heart into my throat thankfully showed some common sense and stopped so that I was at last able to huff and puff my way to her rescue.  Never once did BH acknowledge the puppy or me.  It was apparent that the undulating gaps between the ground and the fence boards would have to be closed in order to keep Tess safely on her home turf.  Such was the impetus for Phase #1 of said project. 

Welded wire could be inconspicuously fence-stapled to the back side of the vertical posts the entire length of the property-all 300' feet of it.  This would create an impenetrable barrier from the ground up to the next to the last bottom board.  By the time Tess is big enough to reach the next space she will be too large to fit through it.  Off to Lowes to purchase six 50' rolls of welded wire at $25.00 per roll.  Add a box of fence staples and a call to handyman John who arrived to puppy-proof the fenceline.  Phase #2.

"Well, you can see some of these are just rotted off.  They'll have to be replaced," he said wiggling one of the treated posts.   Okay, that didn't seem like too big of a deal. I had a stash of extra posts.  "We'll have to take off these boards," he continued easily pulling off the bowed, split, warped or otherwise-damaged 1" x 6" rails.  "These are shot.  You'll have to get some new ones...," he concluded, but then I already guessed that. I hurried off to retrieve the four new fence boards I had in the barn.  "And these posts are set way too far apart, so you're gonna need more posts than you have here." 

T. arrived on the scene to help.  He and John work well together because they both know what needs to be done and how to do it.  My job was to haul stuff to and from the work zone.  Dusk had fallen. The guys calculated how many boards I'd need and it looked like around forty if they can salvage some of the old ones.  "...And get a couple more posts too and a box of screws."  Phase #3.

I figured I'd be heading off to Danoons in the morning.  It's a long way from here, but they have excellent lumber and very good prices.  Plus, they are nice people to deal with, so there was no question about where I'd get the supplies.  I planned to do this today, but dawn broke with a cold rain and John can't return until next week!  I'll go tomorrow. 

The work done so far looks very nice.  The four new boards which I had are straight and solid, but the raw wood is glaringly bright just as the rest of the replaced boards will be, so the entire fenceline will have to be painted (it needed it anyway...).  Aside from the cost of the black stain ($$$$) it looked like the job would take me until September to complete.  But wait, there's some good news! Phase #4. 

Lamenting my dilemma to anyone who would listen has generated surprising offers of help from some amazing friends!!!  A painting party!  That phase is still at least a week off, but now instead of feeling glum and weary anticipating this tiring and boring job, I'm thinking/hoping it might even be fun.  If painting miles of rough sawn boards sounds like a good time to any other readers, just let me know.  As 16th century playright John Heywood noted, "Many hands make light work." 

My $18.00 Pound puppy will be worth a small fortune before she is six months old, but I guess she's worth it and the fence was looking a bit shabby anyway.

5:33 pm edt          Comments

Sunday, April 21, 2013



I often wonder about the things we put in our journals.  For me a journal is a place to vent unspoken anger, disillusionment, joy, sadness, beauty, etc.  It's a safe place for journals are usually not shared, at least not until the author is dead and then, who cares?  My own journals are nicely bound books, but for some folks, people like Kenny a journal may just be an accumulation of meaningful stuff that reflects that person's life; like the clipping in the sack with the bread and the cow postcard. 

It's a page from a very old children's' book depicting a boot-clad farmer, surprised at finding himself airborne.  He's upside down with the rear hoof of a red and white cow planted in his backside.  His milk pail is upturned as is his little milking stool and off to the side is a bottle labled ‘rye.'  Maybe Kenny saw himself in this cartoon.  A poem under the image entitled Hayseed reads:

Among the cows, and pigs, and sheep, much of your time you spend.

And company good enough for you, they are, my hayseed friend.

It is not strange if now and then some bright old Bossy kicks,

At being obliged by fate unkind with such a chump to mix.

8:58 am edt          Comments

Saturday, April 20, 2013


I always loved her surprised look when I'd show up for a visit.  She'd raise her head and lift her not-quite-there eyebrows as if to say, "Oh hello. What a surprise!"  Then her big brown eyes would follow me and the dogs as we wandered down the lane.  The times we encountered one another when she was off on one of her solitary rambles she'd follow along like a giant dog, but then of course Cow was not a dog.  She was a big milking shorthorn and now she is dead.

When I told T. that Cow had milk fever he said that cattle so afflicted required an IV of calcium, not just a ‘shot' (as Chuck had said the vet administered) and that it was imperative that they get on their feet immediately or they would never get up.   I knew then that Cow didn't stand a chance.  Who knows how long she'd been down before Kenny discovered her at the most remote corner of the field far from the rest of the herd. 

I hurried up the road this morning, field glasses in hand and saw the big red and white form in exactly the same place she'd been all of Friday.  Her head was no longer propped up, but stretched out, probably in a posture of pain and I knew Cow's long life had come to a dismal end.

I thought of the many years Kenny had pulled his little 3-legged stool next to her, leaned his head against her warm flank and filled the almost-clean stainless steel bucket with her foaming milk.  Their relationship was symbiotic and I could only guess at his sorrow.  First his sister, then his dog and now his favorite cow.

When I returned from town I saw that Kenny had been here.  A big paper sack that had once contained flour was propped next to the back door.  In it were several loaves of stale bread and a limp plastic bag that contained this 1961 postcard, a poignant symbol of his grief.  Poor Kenny.  Poor Cow.

4:34 pm edt          Comments

Friday, April 19, 2013



I'm sad to report the passing of Walter S.S.  (stands for sweet stray...) Kirsch.  His procedure at the vet to remove his teeth was aborted when the doctor called to tell me that in addition to Walter's advanced age, his FIV-positive status with all of the associated complications like the painful infected teeth and gums, Walter was also extremely diabetic.  After a brief consultation we agreed that the most humane option was euthanasia.  Even if we had chosen to administer twice daily insulin shots his prognosis was grim. 

And so after I planted blueberry bushes I dug one more hole, this one quite deep to receive poor little Walter's ravaged body.  So many animals have spent their final days here; most after long happy lives and some, like Walt who were fortunate enough to have been rescued from deaths door and live out their ‘golden years' knowing only kindness, security and affection.  I've cast his grave with poppies and cleome.  RIP little Walter. 

Tess also visited the vet for her second series of puppy shots.  She has gained five pounds and at 12 weeks tops the scale at 16.4 pounds.  She is proving herself to be a very smart canine.  She is nearly 100% housebroken, walks fairly well on lead , but seems to be resisting the ‘come' order.  We're working on that.  I'll probably regret it, but a regular part of each day includes a game of ‘fetch' which according to the ‘Training Your Lab' book is important since it is consistent with her inherent traits.  Ted was always obsessed with playing fetch and I suspect his successor shares that obsession even at this early age. 

This morning when I saw Kenny's red truck at the low end of the field next to Cow who was lying on her side I knew something was amiss.  I made calls and learned that Cow has milk fever.  Who knows how long she's been sick since Kenny has never been one to call on conventional medicine, even when it's obviously needed.  A vet in this case did come and gave Cow an injection that according to Chuck should have put her on her feet at the very least, but by mid-afternoon Chuck stopped by to tell me Cow is still down.  Things did not look good.  I went to check on Cow (from the road since I was not about to venture into the field with a couple of bulls) I saw that she is still down and Kenny was nowhere to be found.

6:32 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, April 16, 2013



And on the eastern, southern and northern fronts as well.  Lothario has moved to a new home.  When friend Sally emailed me, distressed that her beloved rooster had died and stated she was seeking a replacement I couldn't pass up the opportunity to rehome one of my own excess birds.  I also couldn't believe my good fortune to have found a genuine "good home" for a rooster!  Lonely Boy thinks he has died and gone to heaven now that he's the cock of the walk here.  Sally reports that after Lothario gave her a wild chase around the neighborhood he settled in comfortably with his new harem.  A win-win trade!

Tess made her road debut yesterday.  Her first lengthy walk on lead went very well, but she is growing rapidly and will be a big strong dog, so diligent training now is critical.  I've never understood people who permit their dogs to yank them down the road, totally out of control, undoubtedly giving the ‘master' major back troubles.  Good manners are not an option here; they are required.

The pup has certainly disrupted any tranquility that ever existed at this place.  She is inquisitive to a fault; see a cat = chase it, see a flower = pick it, see a garden = excavate it, see a fence = find out what's on the opposite side of it.  Ernie and Julie like the pup, but in measured doses.  They look at me with pleading eyes that seem to say, "Please, send her away like you did the rooster!"  Their favorite time of the day is when Tess goes to bed at night in the laundry room and peace and quiet reigns until morning when the little hellion awakens.

Tomorrow Walter is having dental surgery to remove all of his teeth.  While it seems a drastic measure, it is necessary.  He has FIV and one devastating aspect of the disease is chronically infected teeth which make eating (even the soft hot meals I prepare for him) extremely painful and difficult.  He will not be getting dentures!  Others whose cats have undergone this surgery report that they do very well without teeth and that they eat heartily since they are no longer in pain.  I do feel sorry for the old guy.  Although Walt loves riding in the truck, this will be one ride he won't forget. 

And so the spring of 2013 has brought several changes to my once-peaceable kingdom, but I'm hopeful that tranquility will eventually return for all of us.

9:56 am edt          Comments

Saturday, April 13, 2013



She says that under no circumstances am I allowed on the sofa, but as you can see when I get sleepy I like to nap on the soft throw she (my owner) keeps on the sofa, so what's a puppy to do? 

Yes, it's true; the puppy is spoiled rotten, but she's such a quick study and as evidenced by the photos on this blog, she is darned cute.  Her parvo diagnosis was obviously incorrect as no dog recovers from that virus in two days as Tess did.  In spite of a very hefty vet bill I'm happy to report she is fit and healthy and almost completely housebroken.  I say ‘almost' because of an unfortunate event that happened last evening.  It was probably my own fault.

The weather was awful yesterday; cold and rainy, but a fire in the woodstove had the living room toasty by the time some friends stopped by.  As we shared laughs, political observations and  disappointments and all the other stuff that gushes forth during ‘wine and whine' sessions I apparently did not let Tess out as often as I usually do.

Eventually my friends left and I and the dogs went to the barn for our evening chores.  Back at the house I kicked off my shoes and padded barefooted into the bathroom where sliding through a mushy pile of puppy poop yanked me from my previously-pleasant reverie.  The deposit was appropriately right next to the toilet on a small Oriental rug which was excellent at camouflaging the surprise. 

I don't consider myself a squeamish person except when it involves fecal matter that is touching my person!  Eewww.  As I looked down at the disgusting ‘frosting' that was oozing between my toes I wanted to cry because there really was no easy or pleasant way to deal with such a dilemma other than to put one foot into the toilet and hit the flush lever.  Unfortunately this ingenious idea did not resolve the problem.

Unable to move the foot still glued to the spoiled rug lest I make a bad situation worse I was pleased to find my body agile enough to twist about (right foot still in the commode and left foot still mired in poo) to retrieve the brush normally used to clean that receptacle. This I used to scrub clean the toilet-bound foot.  It's hard to convey how unpleasant this entire ordeal really was.  If there was anything good about the humiliating ballet it was only that no one was around to witness the performance.


2:30 pm edt          Comments

Monday, April 8, 2013



Bluebirds are inspecting housing options.  The first snake of the season greeted me down at the pergola.  Purple crocus are blooming just outside the back door and daffodils are ready to pop in the barnyard.  By tomorrow sprays of yellow blooms will brighten piles of donkey poo. Spring must actually be here at last.  Yes, it's lovely to feast my eyes on all of this beauty, but I choose to interpret these bright spots as an indication that my life is exiting a very dark period. 

The past several months have been exceptionally difficult.  There has been a plethora of problems, not the least of which has been the loss of several close friends.  Since December I have lost five, all of whom seemed far too young and vibrant to pass away so soon.  These were not casual acquaintances, but meaningful relationships.  Now they are gone. Their absence is sobering.

Withdrawing and becoming reclusive has been my mode of coping for such overwhelming sadness has been a new and unwelcome intrusion in my life which I've always thought of as a bowl of cherries.  Inquiries from concerned blog readers, along with the promise of sunny days, not to mention a puppy that makes me smile every time I look at her have all helped to pull me from the trough of gloom in which I've been wallowing.  Surely things are looking better.

7:12 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, April 2, 2013



I sat in the examining room waiting for Dr. Costsalot to return with the test results; Tess' limp little sweater-encased body draped over my arm.  The door opened and I knew from the look on his face that my fears had been confirmed.

"It's not good," he said, but then I already knew that.  "The test was a strong positive.  Don't you know that no good deed goes unpunished," he added attempting to inject a bit of levity into the grim diagnosis.

Tess has parvo.  It's about the worst news any new puppy owner can hear.

My fat little bundle of boundless energy began vomiting Sunday evening and quickly developed a fever and lethargy.  Monday morning she dutifully went outside and passed mucusy poo.  I called the dog pound to inquire whether there had been any parvo cases and was assured there hadn't been, but even so I knew the likelihood of that virus before we pulled into the vet's parking lot. While it hadn't shown up at the pound there was every possibility that she'd acquired it from her unvaccinated mother.

Just a few years ago the prognosis for dogs hit with this debilitating disease was almost certain death, but Dr. Costsalot is a wonderful veterinarian whom I trust completely and he assured me that treatment has come a long way.  Her chances of survival are now better than 50-50.  Dehydration is essentially the cause of death, so controlling the vomiting and diarrhea until the virus leaves the system is critical.  Tess was immediately placed in ICU and this mornings report on her condition was encouraging. 

I joke about my vet's fees, but he is an excellent doctor and in my opinion he's worth every penny. Tess is in good hands and if anyone can save this puppy it is Dr. Costsalot.

Keep fingers crossed for her recovery.  


10:29 am edt          Comments

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