Wednesday, April 23, 2014
RATTY CAT LIVES UP TO HIS NAME.
12:21 pm edt
RC was a feral cat that arrived here in very poor condition. Once vetted and
tamed he became a sweetheart, but one with a challenging coat of fur. Last year it took weeks of daily snipping and
clipping to rid RC of the densely-felted mess. Finally he looked sporty with a smoothly-clipped back and big fluffy
pantaloons, but despite cursory brushing throughout the past miserable winter his coat is again matted right down to the skin.
to a few vets to inquire the cost of anesthetizing and clipping him were shocking. RC is not going to have a
$90.00 beauty treatment! And so, again I've been snipping and clipping him each day, but only for as long as his patience
allow. Such a matted coat must be very uncomfortable and he only tolerates short sessions before issuing a quick swipe or
Yesterday the job took a toll on the clipper blades. It's probably just as well that the blades gave
out when they did because the temperature is predicted to dip below freezing tonight. (RC does have access to the basement,
so he's not in danger of catching a chill.)
poor guy looks like a moth-eaten fur coat found in someone's attic. I've ordered new blades ($47.00!!!) which will probably
arrive about the time spring weather returns. Then the 22 pounder will get his customized new do and once again he'll
be beautiful. Meanwhile, he lives up to his unfortunate name.
Monday, April 21, 2014
LOVE IS IN THE AIR...
9:18 pm edt
this case, it's in the trees next to the pond. The huge form that I could see from the house was actually two enormous
Turkey Vultures cuddling, proving once again that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The big birds were snuggled
together like kittens in a litter, but not so cute as kittens.
After seeing an eagle pass over the property about a week ago I was hopeful that the distant pair might be mating eagles,
but alas it looks like what I have are mating vultures. While they may not be as noble looking, vultures actually serve
more of an environmental function than eagles. What would the world be like without garbage men or undertakers?
Vultures are avian garbage collectors-funeral directors, so they are welcome to take up lodging here.
Unfortunately their lofty love nest is too obscured by branches for me to photograph the paramours, so this candid shot of
Gladys scurrying across the porch will have to suffice.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR.
5:46 pm edt
Oh, she may look alright in this photo, but I've kept chickens long
enough to recognize one that is nearing the end of life. Until today she (who was never christened) showed no sign of
ill health, but this morning I noticed her crouched as if on a nest, but alone in the middle of the garden while her flock
friends milled about (see busy Gladys in the photo below). This is not normal behavior. Her plumage was plumped
and her gait when she did move was slow and deliberate. I predict she will be dead within two days, but it would be
nice if my prognosis is wrong.
noticed that chickens which have come from a hatchery rather than having been incubated and raised by a hen on site are far
less hardy and always more short-lived. My flock is dwindling, so now the search for a couple of healthy pullets begins
in earnest. Poor hen. I hate to see her like this, especially on such a beautiful spring day.
Monday, April 14, 2014
OLD MEN AND STUFF.
4:05 pm edt
can I give you a rooster," asks DW when I bumped into him at the grocery store on Friday. DW is old Kenny's pal,
but unlike shy Kenny, he's a lively chatty fellow who belies his 80-something years. He's wearing khakis, a plaid shirt
and Kelly green suspenders decorated with ducks. He sports reader glasses with the little sticker indicating the lens
strength still on them. "That way I'll know which ones to buy next time," he explains.
I tell DW that I don't need another rooster, but my friend Sally does and that I'll call him and let him know when we'll stop
by to get the bird. "Okay, great, I had to put him in a cage because he was fightin' with the other rooster,"
he says before reminding me that he sure enjoyed my garden party last year and that he hopes he'll be invited again if I have
it this year. I assure him that he will be.
On Sunday, after
dozens of unanswered calls to DW Sally and I decide to just drop by for the rooster. DW isn't home, but we're eagerly
greeted by a flock of pekin ducks that are being herded by one bossy gray rooster, followed by a multi-colored harem of hens.
From a distant barn we hear crowing and set off in search of the imprisoned bird. At this point I should mention that
this is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack.
Like Kenny, DW is a collector of ‘stuff' but he has Kenny beat by miles when it comes to quantity. Assorted historical
vehicles spot the property that's cluttered with cement lawn ornaments, improbable ‘gardens' of plastic flowers defined
by rock borders, empty cages, lamps, tractor parts and various pieces of heavy equipment. The amount of stuff is mind-boggling.
Porches are so filled with things, some identifiable, but most not, that it's impossible to get to the door. About a
dozen buildings half-hidden in the overgrowth make finding the caged crower challenging, but at last we reach our target.
He's a huge angry red fellow intent on injuring Sally as she reaches in to grab his big legs. The nice thing about chickens
is that once they are up-ended even the most aggressive bird is instantly subdued. We stuff the behemoth into Sally's
carrier which is better suited for transporting a small cat.
"Could you help me clip his wings before I take him home," she asks as we drive away from the quacking committee
of ducks that had followed us back to the truck. We unload the protesting rooster inside my garden shed lest he try
to make a break for freedom and while Sally again up-ends him I reduce his impressive wing span by half before sending him
off to his new home.
Like a proud new mother, Sally sent photos
last night and as you can see, Barretta is enjoying his new home. Sally says he's "sweet as can be." Another
Sunday, April 13, 2014
...AND A GOOD TIME WAS HAD BY ALL.
6:03 pm edt
Sunshine + a good friend + six dogs + a pond = a wonderful afternoon.
Friday, April 11, 2014
ONE GOOD DEED DESERVES ANOTHER.
8:12 pm edt
I'm all for free-range critters, be they chickens, dogs or even cats, but here in northeastern Ohio free-ranging cattle just
is not a viable concept. So when I saw Kenny's New Cow (NC) casually munching her way through the corn stubble it was
clear that she was headed for the road. Of course Kenny was nowhere to be found, so it was up to me to herd the wanderer back
NC is much younger and friskier than Old
Cow who succumbed to milk fever last fall and she's only about ¾ the size of her predecessor, but NC sports a formidable
pair of sharply curved horns. She seemed to know that she was where she wasn't supposed to be and as I drove down the
lane she looked up with what could only be described as a guilty-as-charged look on her pretty bovine face.
I laid on the horn and it was just the encouragement she needed. Kicking up her heels she turned and sprinted like a thoroughbred
out of the starting gate, down the lane and back toward the house with me following close behind. When she reached Kenny's
fleet of decrepit vehicles she stopped and stared accusingly as if daring me to get out of the truck. I did not.
Sure that she was safe I turned around and continued to my writer's luncheon, but upon my return I found that Kenny had paid
a visit and left yet another big box of past-its-prime bread along with one single-serving cup of fruit cocktail, vintage
Here in the country we look out for one
Thursday, April 10, 2014
SPRINGTIME AT LAST.
8:15 pm edt
It's amazing how a little sunshine and a blue sky can change one's
outlook overnight. Thank goodness for such blessings! Since spring has actually sprung a lot has happened here
and most of it has been good.
My arborist friend Dick Drake came on Saturday to take down that worrisome widow-maker
walnut tree. It looked as if only luck was holding it upright, but it required a lot of finesse and expertise to bring
it down. After lassoing a limb, creating a pulley of sorts around another tree and ultimately tying the rope to his
truck, Dick made some strategic cuts, then ‘persuaded' the big tree to accept its fate. It practically exploded
when it hit the ground. Dick said it was one of the most dangerous trees he has ever taken down. The salvageable
bits will be cordwood next winter.
I feel very grateful to know people like Dick, a person dedicated to
educating the public about the role trees play in the environment. Thanks to his passion Arbor Day is being reinstated
in the schools. There are several people in my life who have relentlessly followed their dreams and by doing so they
inspire others, including me. My outdoor writer friend Hazel came to visit for a few days. Unlike lazy me, Hazel
is a dedicated gardener. I admit to a casual approach to such things, but during her stay here she motivated
me to create the cold frame I've been ‘thinking about' for years. Together we constructed a very workable project
which is now planted with lettuce, spinach, carrots and radishes.
As we worked, happy to be outside in the fresh air and
sunshine a car went up the road. No big deal. It wouldn't have mattered had the driver not gone out of his way to swerve
to the opposite side of the road with the sole purpose of killing a hapless groundhog who, like us was just enjoying a sunny
spring day. The miserable cretin responsible for this ugly act stands as a symbol of the deteriorating character of
modern society; mean-spirited, lacking compassion or any understanding or respect for the interconnectedness of the natural
We moved the dead groundhog about 8' off the pavement and left it near a bush. By morning it had been
moved to the field north of the barn where it served as breakfast for a bevy of buzzards. Case in point; the interconnectedness
of the natural world.
The listing building at the back of old Kenny's property is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. I
saw it today as the dogs and I walked the edge of the woods which are now dotted with coltsfoot, that pretty first flower
of spring. Each year the building leans a little more to the west and I fear that this year gravity will have its way with
the old structure. Like Kenny, it's becoming ever more fragile and tenuous.
Were it not for creeps like the groundhog
killer, things are looking brighter here at the Peaceable Kingdom.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
7:40 pm edt
Spring is really here and no one is happier about it than Ernie.
He has officially welcomed its arrival down at the pond and has been swimming every day although I'm certain the water is
icy cold. Dogs don't care. Fun is fun. Although Tess is supposed to be "part Lab" she is not much of
a water dog and seems puzzled by Ernie and Julie's ability to swim across the pond. So far she has only gone in up to
her belly, but that's adequate for pestering the ducks who simply ignore her.
wonderful to see the snowdrops blooming and today I saw three snakes which have come out of their winter digs to soak up the
sunshine. The skies are blue and I've put away my big red parka. Yippee!
At a considerable expense, invisible underground fencing has been installed to keep Ms. Tess out of the road
and on her own property. She is currently "in training" and thus far has only experienced the warning beeps,
but on Friday the installer will return to introduce her to "correction training," AKA shock therapy.
I'm dreading this, but it will be in her best interest.
This past year holds the dubious distinction of being
the worst year of my entire life which is why blog posts have been so scarce, but hopefully all the dark days are gone and
my small country life will return to normal (whatever that might be...). It's been a hell of a winter.