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.