Friday, December 11, 2009

Tammy is Gone, Kiva helps me through

Sad time at the farm. I've been working on the farmhouse, doing some paint-up, clean-up. When the new furnace was installed last year, all of the dust and dirt in the system blew out into the house, and now I have time to do something about it. The dust in some places is inches deep and permeated into fabrics. I've done some painting in the kitchen that I've thought about for years - I painted everything white. It's a small room that always seemed smaller because the maple colored cabinets seemed to hog all the room - the room seems twice as big now. I got rid of the refrigerator, mostly because I just didn't want to clean it. The seal was broken on the freezer and lots of mice droppings were on it. Now I'm looking for a new refrigerator small enough to come through my 28" doors.

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. 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

Gibby Likes to Have His Belly Rubbed

I've been spending a good chunk of each day working on Gibby's house - that is, my house at the farm. I've painted the walls and cupboards in the kitchen white and removed the old vinyl floor tile. I'm in the process of replacing the floor tiles with some that look like wood. My neighbor, the sheep/border collie man, is a carpenter, so I'm going to have him help me with some of the work - like building a doorway and hanging a door where the former opening to the pantry was.

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

Gibby Has Visitors

My mother has been quite ill, so I've been rushing back and forth to the hospital and not having much time for the dogs. One recent day, I decided it would be easier to have all of the dogs in one place, so I took George and "the girls" to spend the day with Gibby at the farm. I don't know whether or not they rested all day, they were really anxious when I got to them in the evening. The "house dogs" were all out in the kennel and Gibby was in his usual place in the kitchen. I couldn't tell if the dogs were stuck in the kennel or just didn't want to return through the doggy door, but I had to call all three of them by putting my hands and voice through the doggy door. They acted like I'd left them for days. Blue, especially, told me off by diving at me full speed several times.

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

Dog Training and Boating on My Afternoon Off

While an aide was caring for my mother, I went to the farm this afternoon to meet a dog trainer. He wants to train his dogs in a space where he can shoot out some kind of thing for the dog to retrieve and it turns out my newly brush-hogged hay field will work perfectly.
The horses were in the front pasture, eating between the weeds in the paths we've created with the brush hog.

They're all looking pretty fat and sassy, but they weren't sassy - we drove two trucks through the pastures to the hay field and the horses paid no attention at all. Only Weaver even looked up.
Weaver and Manly look like stuffed sausages almost ready to burst. I think Manly is right up at the top of my list of the most beautiful horses ever born. I'm really sorry my loss of physical adeptness has kept me from ever enjoying riding him. His back looks so broad it would be like sitting on a big couch.
After the dog training use of the hay field was arranged, I took my (second) new rowboat over to the public access point on Whitmore Lake. I bought this boat with the idea I could handle it better by myself than the first boat that required a trailer and is just too heavy for me. There were other people at the access point, taking pontoon boats out of the water. I waited while one beautiful boat was loaded on a trailer and hauled out of the lake, then backed my truck up to one side of the dock while another pontoon trailer was backed in on the other side. Somehow, while I was getting my truck in a good spot, the men with the second pontoon boat lost it. There was a pretty good wind and by the time I saw what was happening, their boat was heading toward the center of the lake. I got my boat out quick and let one of them take it out to catch the boat.

The little boat moved pretty fast and the guy caught the pontoon boat right away, but that didn't end the trouble. The wind was a little stronger than the rowboat and the pontoon boat was headed for shore, or at least for shallow water where the sand would have ruined the motor.

The other fellow had to run over and get into the rowboat so he could get on the pontoon boat and start up the engine. They brought the pontoon over to the dock, then helped me a lot by pulling my boat up on the dock and emptying the rainwater out. They even held the boat for me while I got in (and getting into this boat wasn't scary like it was when I was getting into the first boat, somehow I wasn't too stiff today to swing my legs over and turn around on the seat). I rowed out to the point of land that was blocking the wind, making the access point into a sort of cove, and found that the wind was pretty strong and it was going to be a lot of work holding my boat against it. I figured I'd done as much rowing as I should for the first time in half a century, so I rowed back to the dock. One of those nice men had fixed the tailgate on my truck (I had just jammed it on and he put it on the right way) and then they helped me load the boat. I now know that I could handle it all by myself, but it was very nice not having to do so. I'm not sure what is happening, maybe I look old and decrepit, but I have had more people do nice things for me this year. Every time I'm really in over my head, it seems someone steps up and helps me - there's Jim who plowed my driveway all last winter and brush hogged the hay field all summer, there's Bobby who has helped me for years and over last weekend mowed the yard at the farm where the grass was knee high and fixed my lawnmower. When I bought my brush hog, the husband of the woman who delivered it took it home and filled the oil and got it ready to run - and I've never even met him. At the grocery store, I've had perfect strangers offer to help me load my groceries into the car, I've had people offer to load the fifty pound bags of dog food.
Now, sure, those boat men would have been in big trouble if my little 12' boat hadn't been there, but they were offering to help me and giving me suggestions before their big ol' 22' boat drifted off. In fact, they probably missed seeing their boat getting loose because they were guiding my truck back to the right spot to unload my boat. Maybe the economic downturn has made people kinder.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sheepdog Trials Today

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.

Watching them is a really nice way to spend part of a day. I wish I could have stayed there all week-end. Of course, after just a short visit, I was wishing for a trained Border Collie of my own.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hunters - hate 'em

Hunting season is striking early at Pirate's Place Farm. For the last twenty years, hunting season has meant Trespassing and Poaching season on my property. It's not even official hunting season yet and a ten point buck has already been poached and my friend and his grandson have been unpleasantly confronted in my woods. I've spent the afternoon on the phone trying to find the supervisor of the man who yelled at them. He claims to be a conservation officer but none of the supervisors will claim him because he doesn't wear a uniform. His conversation with my friend proved he is the trespasser who has been causing me a lot of grief for the last couple months - leaving my road gate open, leaving barn doors open, leaving barn lights on - all of those things that leave a message that someone without permission has been there.

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.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gibby's Maybe Friends

Gibby's potential friend, the nine year old black lab, was still at the dog pound today - but, she has been adopted. I was a little disappointed for Gibby, but very pleased for the old girl. Then I met the two women who have adopted her. They are adopting dogs who are on their last day, last hour, and taking them home to find new homes for them. I tried to have a conversation with them but the dogs were barking so loud it was impossible. There was one dog who fit what I'd like to find for Gibby but he wouldn't stop a horrible high pitched bark. The only comment on his registration card was, "barks too much". There was another perfect dog. He looked like a smaller Gibby. I could tell he was sick of the barking, too. He gave me a look that said as much and then went out through the opening at the back of his cage. I walked around a second time, came back to "Little Gibby" and he plastered himself against the cage wall. I reached my fingers through to pet him and he pressed harder against the wall - by doing that, he reminded me of George. I think he is up for adoption in a couple days. I think I'll go back again to see him.
I tried to upload a video of the kittens born on the porch where I feed my cat colony, but it didn't work, so the following is the youtube address for that video.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Newborn Kittens

After I fed the cats and chickens today I was walking across the yard to play with Gibby when I heard a crying cat. I walked back over toward the porch where I feed the cats and found a newborn kitten on the plastic tray where the cat food is served. It's probably going to be a yellow kitten, but it was still too wet to tell. I went to the car to get my camera and then sneaked back to take some photos. While I was photographing the yellow kitten, I realized the mother cat was having another kitten. I'm sorry she decided to have her kittens on the cement porch, but maybe they just surprised her and started popping out. Blackie, the grand dame of farm cats, is the grandmother of the kittens, and she stopped by a couple times to see how her daughter was doing. Some of the other young cats looked in, saw the baby, and left.

Gibby is Independent & Still Single

I had about an hour today to get a little painting done on my front porch. The porch has been a ten year project and it's almost finally complete. Last summer I had some boys install a recycled door, and they surrounded it with plywood made from wood chips that was left from re-roofing the other house. Painting it wasn't fun, the paint didn't want to stick, so I only did the bottom sections. I think I'm going to have to cover the boards with cedar shingles, which will make the porch match the rest of the house anyway. While I was painting, Gibby decided he didn't need a

person to throw the ball for him. He proved he could be perfectly happy playing by himself. At first, he

grabbed his volley ball and tossed it around some, then he switched to stick tossing and chasing.

I wasn't able to get through to the dog pound to check on the lady lab - I'll just have to hope she is still there by Monday.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Gibby Companion?

I stopped at the dog pound yesterday. I saw about a dozen dogs that were very appealing, but one has stayed in my mind. She's a nine year old black lab. She was in the same "stall" that Gibby was in. She was quiet, sweet, and hopeful. She looked like a really good dog who has lost her family. She must not have been a stray, must have been turned in by her family, because there was information on her card - she's never bitten and she is house trained.

A nine year old wouldn't make much of a playmate for Gibby, but might make a good companion. My other labs lived to be sixteen and seventeen, so she might have some really good years left. I've been thinking maybe no one will adopt such an old dog.

I think I'll give the pound a call tomorrow and see if she is still there.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

These are the last of my horses. Four horses, retired before they worked very hard. On the far left is Weaver, the last offspring of my beloved stallion, Dan Bally. The next one is a black gelding named Skedadle Man, called Manly, out of a beautiful bright bay mare named Skedadle Dandy, out of my all-time favorite mare, Tempatation Dandy. Facing away from the herd is Lacy, mother of Weaver and niece to Temptation Dandy. Dandy's sire was Jim Dandy, the first Quarter Horse stallion to stand in Michigan - back when I was a toddler. The buckskin mare on the right is Tammy, formally named Tam Burn after her sire, Big Burn. She is out of Chi Chi Deck and half sister to the best horse I ever had, Miss Shiloh Deck. That bloodline goes back to Top Deck, a Thoroughbred stallion who established modern Quarter Horse race breeding.
I've always wanted to have sheep at the farm, and now I do. They aren't my sheep, they belong to Jim, the neighbor who has helped me a lot. A friend loaned him the movable pen set-up that can be electrified with solar energy, so he has about 20 of his sheep in my hay field. They're helping to clean it up to get it ready for haying next year. My vet says a good rotation program to keep down parasites is moving them about once a week, but Jim is moving them every other day. I haven't been in the field to see them moved, but I'd like to see how he does it.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Gibby Video

A new video camera has enabled me to post a video of Gibby playing - with his friends and with his old volleyball.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Cats Here, Cats There, Millions and Billions and...

Cats here, cats there, cats and kittens everywhere!!
This is about 90% of the feral cat colony that owns my farm.
The idea of free-roaming farm cats is that the cats will eat the mice. Ha! A few days ago, I was about to fill one of the horse water tanks and saw something floating in the water - I had my gloves on, so I grabbed it - a dead mouse. That happened three more times.
Four drowned mice, see how they run, they all run after the cobbler's wife, who cut off their tails with a butcher knife, four drowned mice.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Gibby's a Jumper

I arrived at the farm today in the middle of a cell phone conversation. I stopped in the driveway and talked for another ten minutes or so, then got out of the car and opened the gate - with two dozen cats leaping and bounding trying to get me to hurry to feed them. Just as I started to pick up the Watch Cat, me cell phone rang.

The call was from another country, from someone I had been trying to reach for days, so I was anxious to talk on the phone. We talked for a long time. I could hear Gibby barking, but I ignored him. My cell phone only works in a few select spots on the farm, so I couldn't walk and talk and do my chores at the same time. We lost our phone connection, so I started to run up the driveway with the cats, and the phone rang again. My friend had called back. We talked some more, and Gibby must have gotten tired of waiting. All of a sudden he came running up to me, big smile on his face. He didn't chase a single cat - Whew! He must have jumped or climbed over the dog pen fence.

He was out loose a few days ago when I opened the gate. I looked everywhere and found no evidence, no unlocked door, no broken window, no gate chain broken, so I had to conclude that he somehow jumped the fence, and that must be what he did today, too. I don't want him out loose, mainly because I don't want the cats chased, but also I don't want him to start wandering. I've had my years of wandering dogs, of tracking lost dogs, of waiting in panic for missing dogs. I want Gibby to go right on being the perfect, agreeable, unworrisome dog he has been.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

More Animals

I was so pleased with my fawn photos yesterday, that I decided to go on a hunt for more today.
I packed my mother into the car and we went for a drive.

I thought maybe someday I could use these animal photos for rug designs. The fish in the stream have a most unusual background that I didn't even see until I uploaded the photo. The background almost looks like the trunk of a tree, it could
be interesting to hook.

Maybe I could make a Michigan rug - deer abound in Michigan, as do black bear in Northern Michigan.

I think there aren't as many beaver as there were when I was young enough to go camping in the wild areas. There was one area in the Northwest lower peninsula that had been completely flooded by beaver. I used to haul an aluminum rowboat, all my camping and fishing gear, and a friend and we'd go fishing all day. We didn't catch huge, record-breaking fish, just nice size pan fish. I remember one morning when a friend and I spent the morning fishing from the bank, we'd throw in a line, catch a fish, fillet it, fry it, and eat it - the two of us literally at 45 fish that day!

We could hike around that area and see beaver dams, but I never saw any more than the smack of a tail, some large mounds of sticks, and some chewed off tree stumps.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Great Animal Day

On the way to the farm tonight, I had a treat. There's a house perched on the edge of a hill, with a swamp down below. An older gentleman built the house some years ago and dug out the swamp so it's now arranged as a pond and a stream. The gentleman seems to be gone most of the time now, and when I've seen him, he looks quite ill. For a couple years, a deer family has been grazing on his grass and drinking from his stream. The doe seems to have twins each year,

and this year is no exception.
The doe was standing in the road when I came around the curve tonight.
I thought her youngsters must be nearby, so I stopped the car, and the twins came over the lip of the hill. The doe dove into the woods on the opposite side of the road, so I had to just hope that no car would come along when the twins decided to follow her. I took a photo through my windshield, and then I decided to open my car door so I could get out and get a better photo. Suddenly, they both bounced across the road, so I only had to lower my window to get a picture,

Then I had another animal surprise at the farm. I have thought for a few weeks that there was a kitten living next to the chicken house, under the tarp that hangs down over the side of the chicken house. I've heard mewing and looked unsuccessfully for a kitten. Yesterday, I saw a kitten in the space between the fence/wall and the tarp.

Tonight I discovered how the little tyke is surviving - he's eating chicken food.

I'm really surprised the rooster doesn't attack the kitten. When I first saw the kitten, the rooster was roosting, in the end of the chicken yard, far away from the kitten, but when I walked closer to take a picture, the rooster jumped down and followed me - he's always hoping I'll get my toes close enough to the fence so he can bite me. Thankfully, he was more interested in my toes than in the kitten.

As soon as I walked away, the rooster jumped back up on the roost.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Little Gibby

I realized today that Gibby is no longer a great big dog. I used to describe him to people as "this really huge dog" while holding my hand at a level slightly lower than my shoulder. I guess he felt that big to me, but he no longer does. I was sitting on the fender of my stock trailer while Gibby was catching his breath from a series of magnificent leaps and runs. He rolled in the grass, then picked up his ball and carried it over to me. He knew I was resting, too, so he placed the ball on the ground at my feet, then he moved sideways over to my knees, pressed himself against my legs and made it clear that he wanted to be petted. I petted him and rubbed his back enough to rub out some of his shedding hair. Somehow, he's gotten smaller and cuddlier.

When our time is up, I tell Gibby, "It's time to go into the house" and he turns and walks right to the door. Last night, for the first time, he didn't head for the door, he layed down and then rolled on his back and pushed his ball around with his nose - it was quite clear to both of us that he knew his time was being cut short. I guess he just doesn't understand how uncomfortable it is for people to get soaking wet in the rain - anyway, when I said, "Gibby, it's starting to rain and I can't stay out here", he got up and ran to the door.

Once he's inside and his bowl has been filled with his kibble, he stands next to the bowl and looks at me. We've reached a routine which includes my giving him a head pat before I leave. If I forget the pat, he follows me to the door. When it's really hot, I'm usually worn out by the time we get inside, so I sit down for a minute. If I have already given Gibby his head pat, he dives into his bowl and starts crunching food, if I haven't, he comes over and stands as close to me as he can get so I'll give him some petting. I guess it's that need for petting that has made him a smaller dog. Now, when I describe him to people, I find I extend my arm downward to show he's not much taller than my knees. Funny how dogs shrink when they're happy and lovable.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The above photos record about one minute in the life of Gibby - one minute with the love of his life, the old volley ball.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

George had Surgery Today

I've been unsuccessfully trying to cut down on prednisone for George. He has to come down off of the steroids because his liver and kidneys are indicating trouble. Everytime I cut back a little, he becomes so itchy it sounds like he's beating on a big bass drum as he scratches non-stop. Unhappily, he scratched his ear so much he caused a hematoma. Sometimes you'll see a dog or a cat who has gone through having an ear hematoma - they look like someone skrunkled their ear up like a piece of lettuce. I held him all one evening with a bag of frozen peas trying to cool his ear down. I didn't want poor George to have the irritation or the disfigurement of a crumpled ear, so we made an appointment and I was to take George to his vet's this morning. I got him there about nine o'clock and knew I could stay around for a while because my mother was sound asleep at home. Our vet has her clinic open only Mondays, Fridays, and Saturday morning, but she works only as needed on other days. Thursday mornings she has a puppy class. Several people bring their puppies to the clinic to socialize while their human companions have a lesson on some kind of puppy development. What a huge treat to watch the puppies - all about six months old - greet each other and then play wildly. One lady brought her children as well as her puppy and one very charming little boy got right into the middle of the puppy play, so all of them, big and little puppies and little boy rolled and tumbled and ran around in circles and up and down the hallway - I couldn't watch fast enough!

Suddenly it was noon and I knew I had to leave George and go home to feed Mother. George had his surgery, had the hematoma cleaned out and his ear stitched back together with tidy little knotted stitches - so now his ear looks like a very small quilt - the tied kind.

When George arrived home, the drain in his ear was still dripping quite a bit and poor George was a little car sick and still staggering around. I left him outside so the other dogs wouldn't bother him and he just collapsed on the wooden wheelchair ramp. After about an hour, he got up and staggered over to his swimming pool. He waded around in the water, sat down for a minute, had a drink, and came out all recovered. I feel so sorry for him.

All of the time I've been writing about George, he's been hugging my leg and his draining ear has made a red puddle on the carpet. Sometimes it's nice to have forty year old carpet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Gibby the Happy Dog

The first photo shows the Oliver tractor and my new brush hog that I mentioned in my last post. That's what the two machines looked like before I made the mistake that caught the brush hog on the trailer hitch. I finally figured out that a lever would move the brush hog as well as a jack, so I used a length of 2"x 2" that I use to brace the kitchen door shut and easily lifted the brush hog off of the hitch - but I haven't had time to get it all hooked up again. I chose to use the little time I had to play with Gibby. We had a good time playing catch, but Gibby stopped frequently to lay down and hold the ball.

I worry that he's going to actually start chewing on the ball, ruin it for playing and maybe swallow pieces of it, but - so far - he mostly just mouths the ball. I haven't seen any tooth marks on it at all.

Anyway, Gibby hadn't had a photo here for a while, so I wanted him to have a chance to show off his handsome self.

So, he's sending you a few happy barks (better hold your ears.)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Ten Minute Farming Doesn't Work Very Well

This is a week of receiving help from a number of people and having everything I touch fall apart. I bought a brush hog a month or so ago and Becky, the clerk at the store, offered to deliver it - she and her husband live just down the road from my farm. I learned today that the husband, someone I've never met, put a lot more than delivery effort into my machine. It was raining on the delivery day, so Becky took it home instead of delivering it. Her husband looked it over, noticed that there was no oil in it, filled the oil, found some bars in the wrong place and moved them, and even had to drill a hole that hadn't been completely drilled through the steel for one of the bolts. Unbelievably nice of him - but, after all that, it took me all month to try to get it hooked up to my tractor. Of course, I only had about ten minutes a day to work on it - and those ten minutes had to be stolen from my play time with Gibby.

A few days ago, I was talking with Jim who lives across the street. We talked about brush hogs and I told him about the problem I was having getting mine hooked up - well, anyway, he came across the road when I was gone, wrenched open the bolt I couldn't move and connected my power take-off. He had also come over two days earlier to help Walt, who brought his giant back hoe to bury poor Teague. Walt has been burying my horses for me for thirty years. He's had diabetic foot problems in the past, but this time he's waiting to have a hip replacement. He couldn't jump up and down to open gates, so Jim came over to help him. I couldn't be there because I had to pick my mother up to take her home from the nursing home. I don't have a horse cemetery, we usually bury the horses close to where they breathed their last, so I have horse graves scattered all over the front of the farm, some in the pasture, some in the yard, and a few in the old orchard.

Yesterday, I tested the new brush hog and chopped down a good portion of the waist high grass in the yard. It worked really well, even though I ran into quite a few low hanging branches, so I thought I would cut some more today. My mother had a home health aide for two hours this afternoon and that gave me time to run down to the farm. I had to buy gas and lead substitute for the tractor and then fill the tank using several plastic gas cans. Getting the tractor ready used up all of my time, but I knew I'd be back at feeding time.

When I returned, I checked the high grass that I hadn't cut yesterday and spotted a gray cat hiding behind some wide leafed weeds. I chased her away then I saw one of the wee little kittens. He was so still that at first I thought he was dead, but I picked him up and he let out a yowl. It was the same black kitten with gray frosting fur that I have picked up out of the driveway several times. I think the gray cat is his mother, but she has two other little black kittens and seems to let this loud little guy wander. I suppose she was sitting there watching over him, not really hiding behind the weeds. Her litter of three was the most recent litter born and they're almost three weeks old.

I decided I didn't dare cut the grass in that part of the yard, so I used the hydraulic system on the tractor to raise the brush hog. I heard an awful steel-on-steel clanging noise when I did it, but I foolishly didn't suspect there was a real problem. I didn't suspect anything until after I had driven over to the house and wanted to lower the brush hog - and heard the horrible clanging again. When I raised the brush hog, it had landed on the steel tongue that sticks out of the back of the tractor like a trailer hitch. All but one of the three hitch points had broken free and the brush hog was still connected to the power take-off but it was going nowhere. I'll have to get a good jack to lift it off of the tractor hitch tomorrow. UGH! I guess I've already used up all of my chances to ask friends and strangers for help, I'll have to figure this one out by myself.

Even though I was at the farm twice today, Gibby didn't get nearly enough attention and I not only didn't get anything done, I took steps backward.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This funny little photo is one I used on stationery and I can't seem to make it any bigger. If I had another one, I'd use it - I'll never be able to get another one. This horse is Ballyteague, known in the barn as Teague. He was named after a town in Ireland where my great great grandfather lived and nicknamed after a very bright young man who was one of my students many years ago. I lost Teague last weekend. He died during a big storm. Apparently he was hit by lightening.
Teague's mother was Blue Dexsun, a Quarter Horse mare I bought from one of the bus drivers down at school many years ago. Dexsun had been in a severe car accident - she had survived the accident, the driver who hit her did not. She was a sweet mare, with a very large dent angling across her face as the only evidence of the car accident. I lost Dexsun while she was foaling about a dozen years ago. She and her foal are both buried in my yard at one end of my old riding ring. Now her son is buried at the opposite end in the lane behind the ring.
Teague was born dark, almost black, but gradually turned gray. His gray lightened as he got older and gradually he turned white, just like his mother. His father was a rich chestnut, my Quarter Horse stallion, Dan Bally. Danny's been gone for half a dozen years.
Teague had a bad accident as a two year old. He reared up to get away from the vet and fell backwards, banging his head so hard that his brain was damaged. He was always head shy, right up until this last year. He was never ridden and never became a brave horse, he spent most of his life in the pasture with his friend Manly, a black Quarter Horse. In recent months, he developed a habit of coming to me whenever I was in the barn and he let me rub his head and neck. Two of my friends buried him yesterday. I should be used to losing horses, but he wasn't as old as the rest, only in his mid twenties. I've worked hard to not cry, but I'm really going to miss him.