February 2009


……..since I wrote a post, that I forgot my password!!!! Good thing I have them all written down!

Our household has been working thru bronchitis, and boy, is that hard to shake. Hopefully, we are all on an upward path now, altho the cough still lingers.

I’ve spent most of the days of the past 2 weeks, sitting on the couch, sewing, reading, and watching mindless tv. There were two days  I actually passed the outdoor chores on to the daughter!

One day, I asked the husband to check on the horses – he was still feeling sick, but had to go back to work. He did check on them when he came in from work. The next morning, I went out to feed them and found the stall door open and the  grain bins opened and emptied!!! I guess the husband was not paying attention the night before. He forgot to lock one stall door – the ‘old man’ is always on the alert for someone to forget to lock his door – and he got lucky that night!!! Fortunately, the grain bins are not huge- so neither horse ate too much! But they did make a mess- the mice had a field day with that!!!

I have been putting the feed for the deer out earlier while I was sick. Two of them have noticed, and start showing up between 5:30 and 6:30pm, before it gets dark. They methodically clean up all the piles of feed I put out, and are quite aggressive in protecting “their” find!!! At night, I can see groups of 6-9 deer all amicably grazing on the cracked corn I put out. These two early birds band together and chased off two younger deer who decided to come early also. The younger ones looked so dejected, but were not going to stand up to the older ones.

Yesterday, I spread more piles around, so that the younger could get some too. I also put the food out later, and was out walking the dogs, so the deer waited til after dark to come  feast. Hopefully, there were no fisticuffs( I guess that would be ‘hoofticuffs’ in this case!) last night!!

We are also going thru an invasion of the birds- not unlike the movie of the same name!!! I felt like Tippi Hendren the other night while at the barn. The whole tree line behind the paddock was amass with grackles. Their chatter could be heard inside the house! This has become a twice daily occurrence- the movement of the birds from one side of the woods to the other! At first, I thought they were starlings, but finally got a good look at them closeup.

A short while later, another mass of grackles flew over and filled the trees lining the other side of the paddock. After about fifteen minutes, they all arose in a cloud and headed across the paddocks to the hay fields. Flocks of them would break off like a black cloud of bees and land in the hay field. There had to be at least 2-3 acres of  birds on the ground! It took about 10 minutes for the trees along the paddocks to empty, and for all the birds to fill the trees along the river’s edge. Shortly after that – there was silence – they all left and crossed the river – and I guess headed into the National Forest.

This has been going on for about a week. Yesterday, I was coming down the driveway and stopped to get the mail. All of a sudden, an endless black ribbon undulated across the sky above me, in a diagonal path across the road. The cacophonous roar was amazing- and the ribbon of birds seemed endless! The few crows in the sky on either side of the grackle path, seemed to be egging them on, and our resident hawk in the tree ducked out of the way.

It is amazing to watch, and I don’t know why they are here- I don’t remember this happening last year. I do remember starlings behaving in this manner all the time when we lived in suburbia. I knew, at dusk, not to be walking across the parking lot of the shopping center, because every night without fail, a cloud of starlings would descend on the trees surrounding the parking lot, to roost for the night. Patrons of the shopping center were up in arms about it – but what did they expect – the shopping center displaced these birds when the trees were eliminated to make room for the parking lot!

Here, tho, the birds, and wildlife rule! Even tho we have built on ‘their’ home, I hope that we can co- exist and learn from them. I enjoy their visits and  encourage it, while I watch from the sidelines.

Naptime for the big boys!

Naptime for the big boys!

A very small section of the flock

A very small section of the flock

Going after the deer's cracked corn

Going after the deer's cracked corn

Lift off!

Lift off!

The trees are full!

The trees are full!

Close up of a grackle I found online

Close up of a grackle I found online

All is well at Mountain Meadows today……………………………









And the winner of my 1st Blogiversary drawing is—————–

#9 – ikkinlala!!!!!

Congratulations!!!! And, Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Thank you all for reading, and participating!!!!

Playing around with the computer today – and I started another blog – just what I need – more distraction!!!!! Blogspot is supposed to be a very active blog site- we shall see…………………………….

The new one will be just for my creations- maybe it will spur me on to get that studio in order and get busy!!!!

I hope to show off friend’s creations and my own.

So become a ‘follower’ – check it out-

http://www.artfullyooglebloops.blogspot.com

There is also a link on my blogroll.

AND< don’t forget – tonite is the last night to leave a comment on my 1 year blogiversary post – to be entered in the drawing!!! Winner will be picked tomorrow – Valentine’s Day!!!!!

All is well at Mountain Meadows tonite………………….

I can now show what Dionne (www.sewmanyquilts.blogspot.com) won in my 500th comment random giveaway not too long ago. She received her package, so I won’t be spoiling the surprise by showing it!!! (Sorry for the slightly out of  focus shot!)

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The mug is from a local pottery in nearby Broadway, Va – Bay Pottery, the tea infuser is from A Chapped Chick- her link is in my blogroll, and 4 fat quarters tied with some vintage violets. Enjoy, Dionne!!!

My next giveaway, (and last one for quite a while!) is to celebrate my one year anniversary!!!!! I can’t believe Patty (www.bitze.wordpress.com) got me into blogging one year ago today!!!

So, leave a comment on this post from now til Friday nite – Friday the 13th!!! On Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14th (my mom’s 80th birthday), I will let Mom randomly  choose a winner from all who left a comment!

Thanks to all who read me – and hope you will continue to do so…..

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All is well at Mountain Meadows tonite……………….

The son finally got his dream- after working for several months in Washington, DC, he is now living in DC.

Not his mother’s dream, it’s true- but his.

So, when the son proudly told me that he got a year lease here, my heart dropped, while my mouth spoke ‘congratulations”. When we lived in northern Va, I had heard this neighborhood’s name mentioned on the news many times – not usually in a good way- but I am reserving judgment and trusting his!

We went for a visit yesterday – to see the new place and to help cart the last of his belongings from his old apartment to the new.

From our country home, it is a 2 hour 15 minute drive, not long in distance, but light years apart in style and atmosphere!

I must admit tho’, driving past the Kennedy Center, the Old Executive Building, the White House, and the monuments, there is a thrill being at the center of where  “IT” all happens. The culture, the museums, the politics, the people – all exciting – I see why the son loves it! I am a country girl at heart tho – and the big city- any big city – might be a nice place to visit, but……..

It is then, still odd to me, that the son would turn out to be such an urbanite, with a talent for numbers (I am mathematically inept), and an avid interest in politics and the goings on of the world. He has, with his gentle nudging and sometimes dry, wry, and satirical humor, pushed me into new areas of interest that I would have never thought of investigating before.  Where I was once the teacher of a small boy, that small boy has grown to become the educator of my sometimes stagnant mind.

After climbing 4 flights of stairs numerous times unloading his belongings from the van, walking anywhere was not what I really wanted to do. But, we did, to get lunch- altho the son’s  interpretation of 2 blocks seemed more like 4 or 5, as we zoomed, trying to keep up with his rapid pace!

He pointed out several places of interest as we walked, and I, like the embarrassing eternal tourist, snapped pictures with both camera and cell phone! The row houses are amazing, not dissimilar to their sister row houses/brownstones  in Brooklyn and  NYC, but not quite as bright as the painted ladies of San Francisco. Undergoing renovation during the gentrification of the area, their architectural elements and charm are being salvaged and revived. The son’s house, shared with 5 other roommates, has beautiful wood floors, pocket doors, transoms, original hardware, radiators, claw foot tubs!

Also pointed out, were the many shops the son frequents, sometimes after dark, and late at night, in this 24 hour city. He also pointed out the police car that sits, every night, with spotlight on, midway between his path from home to the grocery. I guess he meant that to be reassuring, but his dad, being a cop who used to work this area, knew what a cop car sitting there really meant!

We had a great visit, and my ‘see-scapes’ below, are basically what I ‘see’ as we drive thru downtown DC!

We left, with the promise to return soon, to do a tour of the museums. I was torn with leaving the son, but knew we had to leave, and my mountains were drawing me home.

About 9pm last evening, the son called as he was on his way home from his late night grocery run – “Remember that alley I pointed out, where the cop always sits?” Well, as he was walking home, he described to me the scene, where now, there was not just the one cop car, but many, with spotlights on- the area bright as daylight and 8 little numbered markers spread out in that alley. Since he was seemingly undeterred by the reality of his neighborhood, I did caution him with motherly concern, to please limit the number of late night walks. At least, if he ventures out tonite – and he will – he should approach the officer and ask what did happen last night- forewarned is forearmed – so to speak.

I am working on an altered art piece for his new apartment – part of it will say “Show No Fear” and “Discretion is the Better Part of Valor””!!!  LOL

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We had an eagle eye view of the Desert Storm parade many years ago, atop the Lincoln (above)

The Pencil

The Pencil

The Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center

Driving by the White House with the Christmas tree in the foreground

Driving by the White House with the Christmas tree in the foreground

Son's row house

Son's row house

Scenes from the son’s new neighborhood:

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Niger River Art Studio

Niger River Art Studio

Front yard art - DC style!

Front yard art - DC style!

View from son's bedroom

View from son's bedroom

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I took so many more pictures – incurable shutterbug that I am – but will save them for another post!!!

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All is well, tranquil, and serene, VERY un-DC like, at Mountain Meadows this afternoon……..!

Drove my van over to the barn this morning, since I had a 50 lb bag of feed, and bags of pine shavings  to unload.

The boys came in to eat while I was mucking out their stalls. Today promised to be a nice warm day – which means all the snow will melt, and all will be a mudhole!!!

While I was mucking, the big guy, always the sentinel and alarmist, whirled around in his stall, snorting and blowing steam, and ran out to the entrance of the paddock. His attitude caused the old man to run out and see what was up.

I knew that look – it’s the look that means cows are afoot!!! The two horses took off along the perimeter of the fence, snorting and staring across the field. I went out of the barn to check it out and, sure enough – there was a cow – actually one lone calf! But, being bovine  is all it takes to send my horses into a tizzy!!!

The old man has had an extreme dislike of cows, or anything with hooves that is not equine in nature- particularly when they invade his turf!!! He won’t invade theirs- so stands to reason, he would expect them to respect his property!!!

Since I had the van with me, and have used it as a cutting horse before, I took off across the field to see if I could head this little cow off at the pass!!

No such luck, the cute little guy was bound and determined to outrun the van – and I didn’t want him going over the edge of the field, so I zoomed over to the neighbor, to let him know one of his calves was loose and visiting me!!!

Number 71, as he was ID-ed by his little pink ear tag, is half Angus, half Simmental, and was one of a group of calves the neighbor had brought over from his other barn- all had been just pulled from their mothers- which would explain the constant bawling and bellowing I had heard over there for the past two days.

This little bull- to- be, was a rogue, as the neighbor called him, and a jumper- he managed to get out of the penned in area of the barn – and also managed to scramble around the electric fence and out of the fields. He crossed the road into my field.

Now, I don’t want to anthropomorphise this little guy – but, I am sure he was looking for his mother!He looked lost and sad! The farmers laugh at my way of thinking – after all, these cows are bred to be income and dinner on the table.

But looking into the huge liquid black eyes of this beautiful red baby bull, I know he was missing his mama. He was bound and determined to find her, but sadly, he never would…….

When faced with two vehicles, the calf was easily herded back across the road into his own field. The farmer mentioned that the calves would be going to Staunton to auction, so this “rogue” would soon be someone else’s problem and  escaping elsewhere!!

This afternoon, I took 3 of my dogs to a rabies clinic to get their 3 year shots. I ran into the farmer’s daughter there. She heard about my little escapade with the calf. Actually, that is the second time I have been herding their cattle with my van (see an earlier post). She informed me that #71 and his barn mates were taken to Staunton already. I didn’t realize they were going today!

I was kind of hoping the little red bull would come back for a visit. I am hoping , pretty as he is, he will end up somewhere nice, as a stud, not as a dinner.

The horses are still looking out over the fence -keeping vigil against any errant ‘mutant’  cows (which is how they see them!). It usually takes the guys about 24 hours to get over the ‘trauma’ of invaders!!!

And to think, the  husband thinks he can just ride the old man thru a field of cows, and he will get over it!!! Not gonna happen – he’s 26 years old, has hated cows all his life, and that’s just not gonna change!!!

Anyway, just another day in the country, and I wish the little bull well, where ever he ends up………

All is well at Mountain Meadows tonite…………………..

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Note to self: After showering, when applying body lotion, start from the top!!! Put on eye cream BEFORE rubbing in the Burt’s Bees Peppermint Foot Lotion!!!! That is an eye opening experience I don’t want to go thru again!!!!!

Now that I am wide awake, LOL, I have completed the morning chores, which basically all revolve around food!

Feed the dogs, feed the indoor critters, feed the horses, fill the outdoor bird feeders, and spread the sunflower seeds on the deck railing. Throw out the cracked corn for the deer, and something I swore I’d NEVER do – feed the feral cat…….!

The husband threw out stale bread for the birds the other morning, and later on, I saw the wild black cat out there. We thought he might be eating a bird or a mouse, but actually, he was eating the bread. I went out to check, and he ran away, of course. But, the bread remained – he had been chewing the edges, and licking it, so that it was flat and sodden.

The husband left strict orders (and we all know how well those are obeyed!)- that there would be NO FEEDING any cats!!!

Well, in reality, HE was the one who fed the cat first!!!!

So, when no one was looking,  I ran out with a can of tuna, and placed a bowl near my vegetable garden, in the path the cat usually takes. It took him about an hour to return- but I saw him eating there – he cleaned that bowl!!

Sooo, unbeknownst to husband, (sshhhhhh) we are feeding the cat!!!

I am pretty sure it is a male, and he probably lived under our old house, until the fire dept had their practice burn. He probably has relocated to one of the other out buildings. He hangs around the round bales, searching for mice, and has apparently survived quite well, up until now. But with temps falling into the teens, and seeing him eat the bread- I’m sorry, I will risk the wrath of husband- we are feeding the cat!!!

Having the cat outside has been a bit inconvenient- the dogs go crazy, and we always have to check before we take them out unleashed, to make sure the cat is not around. But, we did that anyway, to make sure there are no deer or groundhogs around, before we took the dogs out to play ball. Chasing deer wins out over playing ball any day!!! As would chasing,  possibly catching, and killing a cat!!! I have no doubt that at least one of the dogs could catch the cat – unless the cat took to a tree!!!

But, the cat is here, and if there is any indication he is a she, the cat will be trapped, spayed and brought back here.

Animals are a very welcome part of living in the country – even if it IS a cat!!!

Now that the chores are done – it’s time for me to go eat!!!!!

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Per request – here are some pix of the cat!!! Since he is very feral – I can’t get anywhere near him. I took these from my deck-not the best camera- sorry – no close ups!!!

Stalking something in the long grass

Stalking something in the long grass

Whatever it was, I think he caught it - he kept this pose for a few minutes, tail furiously wagging!

Whatever it was, I think he caught it - he kept this pose for a few minutes, tail furiously wagging!

Surveying his domain...

Surveying his domain...

The garbage in the backround is the remains of the old house, basically the cinderblock foundation , and whatever didn’t burn. This was probably where the cat had been living. He has relocated to one of the other outbuildings .

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All is well on this sunny Sunday morning, the day before Groundhog Day…