Friday, July 30, 2010
Doc did a wonderful new form of spaying that meant she entered from the side instead of the belly of the cat. The opening was smaller and closes up easier because the entry is through three layers of muscle that automatically want to close up. The black mother earned a name, if I can identify her amongst all of the other black cats, she will be called Shadow. Both Shadow and Fluffy recovered quickly after they returned to the farm. The little kitten that made the trip to the vet's with Shadow was gone the minute I opened the trap.
Sadly, Boots the Siamese also disappeared as soon as my back was turned. I was hoping to introduce him gently to the farm, but when he didn't jump right out of the carrier, I made the mistake of turning my back and poof! he was gone. I looked for him on and off until about midnight last night but didn't see him.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
I have some fittings for building some out-buildings. I've been planning to build a chicken house, but I won an eBay auction with fittings for three buildings. I may build a double size chicken house and then use the third kit to build a cat shelter - it might be fun to have a building to protect them in the winter and fill it with climbing things and little cat caves, etc. I'm thinking I could paint the buildings with plans for hooked rugs.
I was in the back hay field tonight, stacking hay bales on a trailer. The hay field is the prettiest place on the farm - surrounded by trees and high enough to look down on everything visible in all directions. Jim, from across the street, was driving the tractor and baling the hay; Becky, his wife, was driving the truck that was pulling the old car hauling trailer; and I was stacking hay bales on the trailer - we worked back there until the baler broke just before it was getting dark. Except for equipment break downs, that's a nice, relaxing way to work - even though it's exhausting. It's sort-of a very physical form of meditation, hard enough that your mind focuses on the labor and not on any distracting thoughts. Maybe this would be a better world if everyone baled hay.
Two of my favorite kittens are now half-grown males. It's the time in their life when they might be driven away by the dominant male - and the dominant male has suddenly become a big black tyrant - a tough male with facial scars who appeared out of nowhere. Last year, the tomcat was a very sweet orange tiger, one who almost let me pet him and spent most of his time watching the farmyard from the roof of the boarder's lounge building. He seems to have disappeared and been replaced.
I want the little half-grown males to stick-around, so I captured them last night in a live trap and took them to the vet this morning. Their surgery was uneventful and all is well, I left them sleeping off their drugs in the open cat carrier, in a shady spot near the feeding station. I hope their testosterone will disappear asap so the black tom doesn't hurt them - or, at least, doesn't hurt them anymore. One of them, Tiger Boy, has already been pretty well beaten up. He had been gone for a couple days and then was hiding at the end of the driveway when I decided it was time for the trip to the vet. I have my fingers crossed for both of them, especially Chick Boy who is the little gray tiger in photographs earlier in this blog who grew up with the chickens. He greets me at the driveway gate every time I arrive at the farm - which is where I'm going to go now (Gotta spend some time with Gibby!)
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
I've been thinking about the story of "Old Drum" recently. I saw the movie a long time ago and thought I remembered something about a faithful dog - I found the movie and watched it, using an instant download through my Wii from Netflix. The story in the movie reaches its climax with a speech by a famous attorney. Turns out the story is basically true - except the dog that is shot in the movie survives. The reason I've been thinking about the faithfulness of dogs is my dog George's behavior since my mother passed away. George was very close to my mother, and vice versa. My mother saved his life a couple times when she knew he was not well and I hadn't noticed anything was wrong. The first time, I hesitated because I hadn't noticed he was sick, and barely got him to the vet in time. The second time, I loaded him in the car the minute my mother said something was wrong - I think they were able to read each other's minds. Anyway, Ol' George has always spent his sleeping time on the cold wooden floor of the downstairs bathroom or on the cold wooden floor of the kitchen where anyone using the back door had to step over him. Since my mother died, he's been sleeping on the carpeted floor next to her couch. After she turned 95 she spent most of her not-in-bed time resting or sleeping on that couch. That's where George is right now, stretched out on the floor, leaning his back against the couch.
Here is part of the speech, spoken in the real Old Drum trial in the Supreme Court of Missouri. It's the only part of the speech that was saved.
George Graham Vest speaking:
"Gentlemen of the jury, the best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter whom he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us -- those whom we trust with our happiness and good name -- may become traitors in their faith. The money that a man has he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it most. A man's reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolute, unselfish friend that man can have in this selfish world -- the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous -- is his dog.
"Gentlemen of the jury, a man's dog stands by him in prosperity and poverty, in health and sickness. He will sleep on the cold ground, where the wintry winds blow, and the snow drives fiercely, if only he can be near his master's side. He will kiss the hand that has no food to offer; he will lick the wounds and sores that come in encounter with the roughness of the world. He guards the sleep of his pauper master as if he were a prince. When all other friends desert, he remains. When riches take wings and reputation falls to pieces, he is as constant in his love as the sun in its journey through the heavens.
"If fortune drives the master forth an outcast in the world, friendless and homeless, the faithful dog asks no higher privilege than that of accompanying him to guard against danger, to fight against his enemies. And when the last scene of all comes, and death takes the master in its embrace, and his body is laid away in the cold ground, no matter if all other friends pursue their way, there by his graveside will the noble dog be found, his head between his paws, his eyes sad but open in alert watchfulness, faithful and true even to death..."
This is one of those situations where the English language falters. Back when I was in grade school (we didn't ever call it elementary school) I asked a teacher why all of the speeches and poems we studied always said, "he", and I was told that "he" stood for everyone: men, women, and children. Well, I don't think Lawyer Vest meant it that way back in 1880, but I'll accept that the master he in this speech stands for my mother - and the watchful, faithful and true dog is our Ol' George, my mother's dog.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The videos on this page are just a few seconds each. I wanted to show Gibby living inside his four bedroom dog house - using my cellphone camera that I thought was set for still photos. Anyway, Gibby is a happy dog - although he runs for the library, the room that leads to his doggy door, the minute I pick up my BB gun. I've been shooting at rats. Rats in Gibby's house. I've tried live traps and sticky traps, now the BB gun. Truth is, I'm sure the only solution is to set out poison and I can't do that without endangering cats and dogs.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
One time, Buck saved my favorite horse. He walked into our riding arena, heard a sound no one else heard, ran to the far end of the arena, and found my Morgan stallion, Tara, choking on an apple that was lodged halfway down his throat. Buck massaged his throat and moved that apple up and out! It popped out like a ping-pong ball. Buck was like that, he could just look at a horse and make a completely accurate diagnosis. He treated 45 horses at my farm for about 25 years and I never knew him to be wrong - even when vets at Michigan State gave second opinions, they used all their high tech stuff and just confirmed Buck's seat-of-the-pants diagnosis.
Horses weren't afraid of Buck. Other vets might walk into a barn and every horse would suddenly be on the alert, but not with Buck. Horses, even breeding stallions, were so relaxed around him that he could give them shots or stitch up wounds and they wouldn't even wiggle. I helped him do a surgery one time. He had fingers the size of sausages, yet he removed the tiniest little bone chip from the hock of an Appaloosa race horse. He stitched up that surgical site so years later there was no sign of a scar.
I feel very fortunate to have known Buck and I'm so sorry he never got out of the nursing home.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I think I'll give Gibby a new assignment. I have to get some exercise. His new assignment is to make me take him for walks. We'll start out with walks in the pasture, then gradually get back to the woods. I'd like to be back there during the spring wildflower season. I haven't seen the trout lillies or trillium for years - my woods used to be carpeted with them. I'd like to see how cutting trees out of the woods changed the spring flowers - I hope not much. We won't start our new plan today, it's pouring rain outside and the lower pasture will be underwater.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
I'm beginning to think the whole idea was a mistake - the right people would have called to let me know what was going on.
I stopped at the vet clinic to see if they had heard anything from Kate, so Shelly called to see if they were still interested in Gibby. That should have triggered a call to me, but it didn't, so...
I'm thinking it was a mistake. I am really fond of Gibby and giving him away was going to be hard, maybe I'm not going to do it. He is one hundred pounds of loving dog (having gained 30+ pounds since he came to the farm - one-third of his weight!) I was looking forward to moving some cats into the farmhouse, maybe I'll have to figure out a way to still do that with Gibby in the house. He didn't chase the cats when Kate came to see him and he didn't chase the cats at the vet clinic... I'm trading a sock knitting machine (CSM) for some cat spaying and I need to have them in the house during the recovering time. I guess I'll go buy a baby gate so I can put the cats in the kitchen.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Last night, I told Gibby he could go live with Kate, and I think he understood. He's never been so obnoxious before about wanting to be petted and held - I was trying to work on a rug and he kept bumping my arm with his big head. If I sat back in the chair, I suddenly had the upper half of a hundred pound dog in my lap. If I didn't pay attention, he showered my face with kisses - something he's never done before. He couldn't have been more lovable.
Friday, December 11, 2009
While I was working the other night, the dogs all started barking. It wasn't their arguing with each other bark, it sounded like they wanted me to see to something. I looked out the window, didn't see anyone in the driveway, finally went outside and looked around but didn't see or hear anything, and then the dogs stopped barking. It was really cold and windy, icey rain and snow blowing almost straight across the ground, so all four of the dogs came inside and found warm places to lay down. What I didn't know was that one of my horses, Tam Burn, had somehow crashed into two fences and died. I hope the fact that the dogs stopped their barking so soon means that she died quickly and didn't suffer. Tammy was 25 years old, by Big Burn TB out of Chi Chi Deck, AQHA, a beautiful buckskin who took over leadership of the herd when her mother died.
Tonight, when I was spreading hay in the indoor arena, Manly, Tammy's close friend, couldn't eat. He'd take a bite and then turn and watch the back door, walk a few steps, and stand at alert watching. He doesn't understand she's gone. That makes me think she did die quickly because he didn't hear her calling. I will never know why she was so far away from the herd. Manly broke my heart, I had to leave.
Trying to not be too upset, I checked out some reports on my funding on Kiva. Kiva.org is an internet microfinancing non-profit where I can make small loans to farmers in poverty areas around the world - well, I don't always loan to farmers, sometimes I make other kinds of loans. One current loan is to a weaver in Guatamala, and one past loan was to a group of 12 women who were starting home businesses in the Phillipines. I've been making loans for a couple years, using the same money over and over again. I'm not even sure how much money I have rolling around in different Kiva loans, but so far all of my money has been returned and reloaned - the borrowers pay back a couple dollars each month and when all of my paybacks add up to $25, I make another loan. I always look for women farmers first, but usually can't find women. There have been times when Kiva loans were going out so fast that I couldn't take much time looking into the borrowers, but there is always a lot of information available about the borrower and about the bank that has partnered with Kiva to make the loan. I made two new loans recently, so the funds in my account aren't enough to make a new loan, but I'm going to check out borrowers anyway, maybe I'll find one I can't resist, then I'll add some new money.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I had 1800GotJunk? remove the refrigerator and huge old microwave.from the kitchen I was shocked when they lifted the refrigerator and a skeleton rolled out. The wonderful little cat that disappeared when Gibby arrived must have hidden inside the bottom of the frig next to the motor and died there. I never thought to look there for him. I had the GotJunk people take two other refrigerators that had been left outdoors by my last renter - one of them was still full of old food. I am sooooo glad I had the GotJunk people deal with that mess.
Gibby has been a little confused - kept outside longer than usual, and then brought inside while I work. He wants so much attention! He's getting close to understanding that I won't pet him while I'm working in the kitchen, but as soon as I sit in a chair in the dining room I'm ready to give him my full attention. He throws himself down on the floor - so hard the floor shakes - and I get to rub his tummy. No matter how much time I have, I can never rub his tummy long enough. As soon as I quit, he jumps up and then throws himself down again.
Blue and Patches will go into the house, but George won't. I guess he remembers that I left him there when I went away the last time and he must not remember that its our real home. He lived there when he was a puppy, but he spent a lot more of his youth in my studio above the store than he ever did in the house. Patches is pretty silly when she comes into the house - she comes inside and then immediately goes out through the doggy door into the dog kennel, where she starts barking non-stop because she can't figure out how to come back inside. I have to crawl part way through the doggy door and pull her inside.
I've been trying to leave the interior of the kitchen cupboards alone, but late one night I started cleaning out the bottom shelf in one cupboard. I probably haven't opened that cupboard for ten years or longer. I used a broom to reach way to the back and pull the junk stored there to the front and in the process I found a lost treasure - my grandmother's gold pocket watch, engraved with her initials and the date 1904. My mother gave the watch to me and I lost it about 25 years ago. I regretted losing it so much that I used to dream about it. I had pretty much convinced myself that a troubled teenager, daughter of a good friend, had taken it. I couldn't believe I found it and have no idea how it got into the back of that cupboard.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The next day, I had planned to repeat the same doggy day care plan, but I was too rushed in the morning to stop at the farm, so the dogs spent the day in the car. I got to walk and water them every couple hours, which was good for them and great for me - a little break from mother's bedside was energizing. It was a really beautiful day, the autumn leaves were a bright yellow with intermittent flashes of red, the temperature was almost balmy, and we had a little wooded walking spot next to the nursing home where my mother has been transferred. I even gathered a few mushrooms to investigate for dyeing - they're shaggy manes, which I used to love chopped and mixed with Italian dressing and served on crackers - haven't had that treat for a long time. I think the dogs were much happier. I know they were a lot calmer.
Today, I did the same thing, but they were only in the car for a few hours, then we went to the farm (Mother's guardian is requiring that I leave the nursing home by 2:00 in case my brother who hasn't spoken to Mother in three years wants to visit). The dogs had quite an adventure at the farm. I had to do some small chores in the house while Gibby was on his cable in the yard and the girls were on their leashes (George is the only one who can safely be loose). Somehow, while I was in the house, Gibby's cable went through all of the leash clips on the girls collars and harnesses. The girls were loose and Gibby's cable was held tight at both ends when I went outside. Amazingly, both girls came running to me, Patches in the lead. I guess after all these years, finally, Patches has decided she belongs with us. In the past, whenever she got loose, she would run as fast as her legs could go toward her old stomping grounds where she lived on her own after she was abandoned. Also, it looked like they had run over to check out the new sheep pasture next door instead of chasing the cats, so that was another relief. I just wanted to hug both of them, but they were more interested in getting into the car. I think I'll continue to take them with me as long as the weather holds. I have to gradually make Gibby part of the pack in case we move back to the farm soon - the other dogs all seem to like him, but he isn't part of their pack.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Once a year, my across the road neighbor, Jim, puts on a sheepdog trial. Border Collies come from all over to herd sheep around a course in a cow pasture. The dogs are amazing - they make those sheep 250 yards from the top of a hill down to the bottom, then back halfway up and through a gate, then back again and into a little pen. All of this while being directed with whistles and calls from their shepherd who has to stand at a post at the bottom of the hill.
The dogs move at lightning speed, down low and close to the ground. I guess any sheep that sees a dog coming at them like that is going to want to get away.
The dogs seem to really love this sport. Even when it's not their turn they sit on the sidelines like avid fans and their eyes closely follow the action.
Border Collies are very individualistic - they are all of a type, but their looks vary tremendously. As do the shepherds - there are men and women, young and less young, and all having fun.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The story is that Mr Gooding, whose property is next to mine, called this morning because there was a strange truck parked in his driveway early this morning. He apparently foolishly gave some men permission to take "nature walks" in his woods - and it turned out they are really poachers. Allegedly Jason Smith responded to the call and caught two men with a ten point buck, but one of the men escaped and ran across my property. So, just like the trespasser/poachers who always say they are only on my property because they wounded a deer and it ran onto my property, Jason Smith ran onto my property and confronted my friend and his grandson. No escaped poacher seemed to be anywhere around. What he did today was annoying, but add up what he's been doing to me for weeks and I think it's criminal.
Someday with all of the crazies who illegally hunt in woods there is going to be a terrible accident. The area just isn't big enough for a bunch of armed men to shoot at everything that moves and never hit each other, and, at the moment, I wouldn't feel bad if the man who has been scaring me for weeks was an accidental target.