animals


An Artistic Eye…….

Just a few photos of what I see walking around the property.

Turn here to enter the root cellar

This winter's supply of potatoes

Neighbor's corn field reduced to the pile of silage (on the left) for his cowsThis is the neighbor’s corn field, reduced to a mound of silage, on the left, winter feed for his cattle.

Pearl

Clouds seen from my front porch

Weird, yet beautiful nightime clouds

Dusk visitors return...........

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All is well, and a bit cloudy, at Mountain Meadows this morning.

My husband always said that one of the big differences between being a cop in the big city, and being one in the boonies, is, that in the city,  you don’t often get a call to go check on a ‘cow in the road‘ !

Well, one morning not too long ago, was my turn to make one of those calls!! I was taking the back way, thru the woods and over the mountain, to town, and as I came around a bend in the road I saw a black calf very near the edge, munching on the green grass! He was an accident waiting to happen – and I could not see where he got thru the fence. All the other cows, and probably his mother too, were safely behind the barbed wire fence. I did put in a call to the local PD, but since they are short on manpower, who knows if they made it all the way out there. It is quite remote, and I could not find any houses nearby that might have owned that field.

Apparently, the calf  found his way back in the way he got out, because there were no cows about when I went home.

We have had the neighbor’s calves escape and come over into our field. My van is quite an effective tool in rounding up cattle, as it turns out!!! My horses are quite the “alert” system- since they are none too fond of cows!!!

Last year, while driving home on 42, a rather well traveled road, I saw two horses grazing- right along the edge of the road! Since horses are near and dear to my heart, I quickly made a u-turn and went back. I turned down the nearest road to the horses and started knocking on doors. One woman answered, and she knew all about them being out. She had called a relative to come get them back in. The scary part was, one of the horses was blind- and he had just followed his companion out an unlocked gate to greener pastures!!

We have had two separate instances of horses getting loose, and ending up here- one traveling at least a mile from his home.  I’ve written posts about both incidents- and Little Miss Kitty Comes for a Visit is one of my most read!

We have some hogs across the road from us. Now, my horses had never seen hogs til we moved here. My Fox Trotter, John, the “big guy” , did a total about face and headed for home, the first time he ever saw one!! I was along for the ride too!!

In the three years we have lived here, those hogs have escaped at least once a year. When the creek is low, they just mosey on across in search of new places to graze and root around.

The first year we were here, I saw one HUGE boar, rooting around a trailer not far from my house. He had traveled quite a ways, and was contentedly ruining the lawn near this trailer. Of course, I did not have my camera with me!!!  This hog was bigger that the three men standing around him, who were scratching their heads and wondering how how they were going to get that pig back home!

Recently 2 hogs  escaped and were down on the road near the creek where they crossed over- DH saw them on the way home and alerted the neighbors, who came and rounded them up – how, I don’t know!!!

The other day, as we were coming back from picking potatoes, I glanced over thru the trees – and there were those darn hogs- out again, and wandering around their property. Up the hill, near the little farmhouse – was a whole front yard full of pink piglets!!! I’m guessing the sow wouldn’t venture too far away- since I don’t think the babies could cross the creek yet. This time, I had my camera – so I passed it over to DD, who got some shots of the wandering porkers.


I was out for my morning ride yesterday, and big John was snorting and prancing (unusual for him) and quite intent on “something” beyond the trees, that I could not see.  I’m wondering if it was a hog!

Who said living in the country was dull- NEVER! There is always something going on!!

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All is well, and quiet, just before the sun rises, at Mountain Meadows this morning……………………………

POSTSCRIPT:  I kid you not, no sooner did I post this story, here we go again!! My dogs, started barking – the sun had just come up, I thought the deer were out.

I look out the window- and there is Pearl the Percheron- again, wandering across my front pasture!!!

I called her owner, and threw some clothes on. Ran out with some grain (after I took pix of her strolling across my front “yard”) and enticed her into the front paddock. Didn’t take too much convincing- where’s there’s food, there’s Pearl!!!

These pix don’t show you how immense she is, but go back to a previous post

to see her winter visit- and you’ll get an idea of how large she really is!!

This visit did not upset my “boys” too much – they were all very interested in her. Altho’, the “old man” got zapped by the electric fence in his excitement to meet the big lady!! Poor guy!!

I walked back over the dry river bed with her owner- I had a bowl of grain to keep her moving in the right direction. It was cold out this  morning – real fall weather! Turns out one of their other horses escaped also – but in another neighbor’s field. So, with Miss Pearl safely behind “bars”, I left  the other capture to the owner, and  went back across the creek to home and breakfast!!


Death is a part of life. Life inevitably ends up at death’s doorstep. There is nothing you can do about it.

I, for one, try not to dwell on it! I am still of the mind that it will NEVER happen to me!! But, if I think too long, I start to worry about it!!

Living on the farm, death is apparent more often than one would like! I don’t mean this to be a morbid post, but just mulling about life as it happens!

Death might be as random as a robin not getting enough lift during take off and colliding with the hood of the car. That happened one morning this spring, and really upset me, because the robin had a mouthful of worms- so we knew he or she was heading back to the nest.

Another time, despite my best efforts to avoid it, I ran over a rabbit in the road. My daughter tried to console me-” it’s the circle of life, mom”. Maybe so, but I did not want the part as the Grim Reaper in this circle!!!

In my vegetable garden, a wren  fell into a plastic bin of rainwater, and unable to get out for whatever reason, drowned.

In another wren incident, 2 wren fledglings, were taking their first leaps of freedom from the nest in the eaves of the barn. In direct line of their flight that day, was the horses’ water bucket. Both babies made a splash landing, what are the odds? I have since removed that water bucket!

We have resident bunnies, with babies that  entertain us every evening with their cavorting and antics. Mr Green Jeans was forbidden to mow, until the babies were out of the nests. Last year, we had a ghastly accident, with the mower running over a well hidden nest-there was only one survivor. I like to think that he (or she) is one of those bunny mamas (or daddies)leaping and tumbling  in our meadow!!

The husband did find one of the baby bunnies, looking for all the world like he was sound asleep, and he was, VERY asleep. The husband was sure he did not run him over, and he’s probably right, the bunny was in an area that was not too easy for the mower to get to.  It is survival of the fittest in nature, and obviously, this little guy did not meet nature’s  qualifications, for whatever reason.

Something possessed me, and I bought two fantail goldfish last year! I did NOT need goldfish, but……. One started having issues within 24 hours, and died overnight. I REALLY do not need to be worrying about a fish dying, but I did!! While back in the store for something else the next morning, the clerk INSISTED that she give me a replacement. So, I worried about these two fish, spent too much money filtering and aerating their water. They have since passed. No more fish!!!

I lost my precious Miss Lilly several months ago from cancer. When I walk past her little halter and fly mask hanging on the barn wall, I can still see her face pushing thru the gate for treats.

Life is very apparent in the blossoming flowers, the greening trees, and the seedlings pushing thru the rock hard soil. For some of them, their lifespan is but a single season, for others life spans a generation.

Life, and how long you get, is different for each individual. You have to make the most of what you are given. Living out here has made me more aware of that, and not just my own mortality. But, believe me, I still worry about that from time to time!! LOL

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All is well, thoughtful and peaceful, at Mountain Meadows tonite…………

nighttime prayer

Whoa! What is that????

working on the "sanctuary"

Weeds grow well in the drought.....

drought plus aged tree equals only ONE!

vacancy

crow skull discovered

box turtle remains

more

the top layer just peels off, leaving the white carapace and plastron

And, if we hadn’t already figured it out…………Smokey is down the road to warn us:

Only YOU can prevent forest fires......!

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All is well, dry, windy and crispy, at Mountain Meadows this Labor Day weekend.

We are three years into this farming “thing” we embarked on. With a big move 2 hours south of the urban/suburban neighborhood we raised our kids in, we picked up, moved, and  immersed  ourselves in a totally new environment, lifestyle, and way of living.

We now have a pickup, a farm use truck (our suburban pickup in retirement), a soccer mom van turned rolling tack box/livestock herder, and a $30,000 Kubota(that’s  tractor to you- the uninitiated)!

We are in the second year of our vegetable garden and potato patch, 3rd growing hay. We understand fully now, how much work it is, how totally dependent on the weather a real farmer is, and how good it feels and tastes to grow your own vegetables!

We now realize that selling at the local farmers market is harder than it looks, not the money maker it would seem to be, and that there is always alot more to learn. And, that hybrid blackberries, while no tastier than the wild ones, are thornless, way larger, and thus, sell better than their smaller wild relatives! During a dry, hot, almost drought summer, wild blackberries will also NOT produce 20 lbs a day!

We now know that groundhogs are sometimes smarter than the amount of fencing and traps you  put out. They may still be cute, but are not as cute as they once seemed while we were living in suburbia. Their view of “sharing” and mine, are somewhat different, when it comes to my garden!

We know that weeds will grow, regardless of how little rain comes thru’, and that hay will not! We understand that we are getting a bit too old to “toss that bale”, especially when there are 300 of them sitting in the field! We now understand the phrase “make hay while the sun shines”.  We see how the dust can be flying,  the ground can be as hard as a rock from lack of rain, and the paddocks  overgrazed and not growing – but white capped mushrooms and other plants that horses cannot and will not eat, will manage to push their way thru hardpacked dirt and dot the landscape.

We have learned that wells must be dug deep (and thank goodness, ours is), that hydrofracking is bad for the environment, and rain is important for everyone.

We have come to understand small town way of thinking, and have learned to love and appreciate small town friendliness and helping hands.

We have learned to support locavorism.

We have learned that to grow a garden organically, while preferable, takes alot more work than does spraying a bit to keep away the bugs. We learned that if you forget to put a little mineral oil on the corn silks, you will have gross caterpillars hiding in and eating your ears of corn!

We have learned that while black plastic between the rows of vegetables will keep the weeds down, the intense heat reflected off the plastic will make midday gardening in the height of summer unbearable, and the puddles of water that accumulate there will attract mosquitoes and cause all the cantaloupes to rot just before they ripen!

We have learned that if you don’t keep up with the rototilling, the weeds will grow to be about 5-6 feet tall in the potato field!! On the up side, those hardy weeds are shading the potato plants from the sun, during a borderline drought hot summer!

I have learned to talk to myself (and my horse) as we ride thru the woods- to let the deer know we are coming – so Bambi and his mother don’t jump out of the woods in front of us and scare the crap out of my horse!

I have learned that hunting is a generations old way of life out here in the Gap, and that said – I only walk and ride in the woods on Sunday during hunting season! Oh, and day glow orange is a good color- on man and beast!

I have learned that hounds don’t sleep in the bed with their owners- they are chained out back next to a dog house til hunting season. They also don’t ride up in the front seat of the pickup, they travel in a port holed metal container in the bed of that pickup, heads hanging out, ears blowing in the breeze, excited about going to do what they were bred to do – track and hunt.

I have learned the difference between cows bellowing at dinnertime and cows and calves bellowing because they have been separated to be weaned. It has also dawned on me, that the reason we have milk on the table, is because dairy cows are constantly being bred, and their babies taken away and sold, so that their milk is in constant supply for us humans. I drink more soy milk now…….no offense to the dairy farmers.

I now know that the chicken one buys from the supermarket, is one of a gazillion cute,tiny, yellow chicks that has been factory or family farmed in towns like these, engineered to grow faster and bigger, to be ready for production in 6 weeks. I have also learned that pickup for these chickens can occur anytime- even at 3am !And, I will never get used to what I interpret as the sad looks on these chickens as they are traveling down the highway, crammed in crates, on the way to the factory……….and, yes, I eat less chicken now. I could never be a real and good farmer, feeling about animals the way I do. But, I am thankful that there are people out there who have made farming their life and do a good job at it!

I know, and am  less than thrilled to know, that there are seasons of the fly! Now we are in the bot scraping and large nasty horse fly season. There is NO good season of a fly, in my opinion!

I have also learned that small town folk are the best – willing to help whenever needed, no questions asked.

It helps to have a neighbor with a backhoe when you might want to bury your horse, instead of calling the rendering plant to haul it off. That neighbor might not understand, but he’ll dig that hole.

We have also learned that in small towns, everyone is related to everyone else, in one way or another- so be careful what you say!!!

Small towns are also used to doing things a certain way- it has been done the same way for generations, so why fix it, if it ain’t broke? For this little town, it seems to be working fine!

You can live in a small town for 25 years, but if you weren’t born here, and your family hasn’t been  here for generations back, you will always be an outsider of sorts. There is something to be said, for having family living, literally, a stone’s throw away……………

“Green Acres is the place to be, farm living is the life for me, land spreading out so far and wide, keep Manhattan (or DC), just give me the countryside….!”

There are many more lessons I have learned in these past 3 years, out here on the farm, but I will save that for another time, another post…………

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All is well, in the still darkness of the morning, at Mountain Meadows, at 4:47am…………

Today Miss Lilly, my miniature horse, is 11 years old.

Unfortunately, she is not having a very happy birthday.

Since Thursday night, she has been having a rather hard time of it- and I am about at my wit’s end.

First I thought it was colic- and it was after 5pm. Called the vet right away, he came immediately, treated her, and told me what to keep an eye out for. She appeared to perk up, but by the next night, she was back in the same state again.

The vet came back. He asked if she had pooped, – I thought she had, so he continued to treat her for colic, plus ulcers.

Saturday morning, she was even worse- back came the vet- I must have been mistaken about seeing the poop – because now we are leaning toward impaction.  So, more banamine, some penicillin (now there was a slight fever), mild sedation to facilitate the saline enema, and tube down the stomach to get some mineral oil in there to help dislodge whatever blockage there might be. Also she needed hydration, and got two shaved spots on her neck, to be able to locate veins under that thick fur.

This resulted in a 7 hour “Lilly watch”- mostly by Mr. Green Jeans in his lawn chair- waiting for some poop!!!I was perfectly willing to sit out there – but he wanted to do it.

Minimal success at  7 pm – not alot to crow about – but something is better than nothing. We bagged that to save for the vet. Nothing like saving horse poop in your refrigerator!!

Early Easter Sunday morning, Lilly’s birthday, found her flat out on the grass again, definitely  not feeling good. As I scoured the area for any signs of her poop, she got up, bolted across the paddock to me, and threw herself on the ground in front of me- as if pleading with me to help her.

I spoke to the wonderful vet- got the family together to give her more banamine, her ulcer med, and penicillin. The good thing was – she fought like the feisty little mare she is- something she has not done the past few days- so another enema was out of the question today!!! She is grazing and drinking- a very good thing- let’s hope it comes out the other end………..and that I don’t have to call the vet again before the night is over! She is still definitely NOT back to her normal self.

Tomorrow morning, I will have the regular vet here again  -for spring shots- and another set of eyes to evaluate what is going on with poor Miss Lilly. Fingers crossed that tomorrow we’ll have the answers and the cure……..

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