Tags: farm


Eek! The Biiiirds!

Well, they're really chicks, but there's a flock of 'em on my porch, peeping at the top of their little voices. The poultry order has arrived.

We now have ten new Rio Grande Wild Turkeys to keep Brown Bob happy (which is a good thing because he and White Tom are fighting over Tom's wives). We'll have to see which ones are hens and which go in the freezer.

I also ordered waaaay too many nifty chickens. We have Sultans, Hamburgs, Naked Necks (pretty weird!), Brahmas in three colors, and some Ameraucanas to replace some casualties. Yeah. Way too many. But oh-so-much-fun!

It's neat to go to the Post Office and pick up boxes of little peepers. Instantly I'm everybody's friend, as the other customers flock around me to get a look (pun intended). This morning was no different; the patrons were all women, so we had a nice impromptu kaffee-klatch at the stamp counter.

Himself probably will not be as enthusiastic as I am; poor guy often gets stuck feeding them, and he's the one who makes the trek to buy the grain. He also has to unload the bags and transfer the feed to the bins. Then he has to eat the eggs we don't trade or sell. At least I'm a good egg chef: we had "egg foo young" last night, and duck eggs make excellent cakes.

Goat in the laundry basket. Poultry on the porch. Big Hairy Coward Dogs in the bedroom (they're scared of rainstorms). The only animals that don't live in the house with us are the horses, and if they were smaller, I bet they'd be inside. At least I have only one cat.

Spring, yes?

Hot, cold, hot, colder--must be spring in Central Texas. The rain has greened up the pastures nicely, although the horses manage to keep the grass from growing as much as it needs to for the summer. All the goat babies have now been born, and most of them are doelings. Just right for building up the herd, except we have decided to sell off all but the pets this year. Go figure. I love having goats, and I look forward to the month of babies each spring, but we are not making anything selling them, and the feed bills keep going up. Anybody want a live lawn mower?

Ducks are laying beaucoup eggs, chickens are doing their part, and the turkeys have a "hidden" nest in the barn. Maybe we'll have our own chicks by the time the new order comes in next month. I ordered some Rio Grande wild turkeys to give Brown Bob some wives. (He's the only survivor of the last order, and the white Royal Palm hens won't have anything to do with him, poor horny bastard.) I also ordered some white Sultans just for fun. They are poofy all over: crest, muff, beard, leggings; they look like feather dusters on feet.

Thank goodness we had no hail, just a good bit of rain. Watching the ducks play in the rain and swim in the puddles was a hoot. The horses have a nice new mud hole to roll in, and they have. Yech. They look like four-legged lady mud wrestlers; no saddles on until it's warm enough for a bath!

I'm trying a recipe for pickled eggs to use up the hard-cooked duck eggs; I just hope the rest of the family likes them. The eggs will be ready in about 2-3 weeks.

And some simple math: rain + cleaning out the coop = great roses. Pictures to follow.

100 Words #10

On painting the Love Grotto:

The hideous brick-orangey-red molding is now snow white; two of the three walls are soft green (yeah, kind of minty, but not chi-chi, you know?

In the process of cleaning and dusting and dusting and cleaning and dusting (see #5), the room has been stripped of a lot of clutter, which is always good. I walk through the door, and I am startled by just how nice it looks. Seven years in a construction zone can dull your senses, so the god-awfulness just doesn't register anymore. This eye-refreshing "do" now makes me impatient to do more, to finish a room and move on to the next. Himself supports me in principle, but he has the colder, saner view of the Primary Worker, so I do not get carried away.

Our little farmhouse has always had possibilities. We can't make more space, but we are definitely dressing up the space we have. Come on up and see us sometime!


ummm...Earth Day?

It seems like every day is Earth Day here at the farm. The animals do their animal thing, the flowers bloom in profusion because they enjoy wheelbarrow loads of the animal thing that accumulates the fastest. Interesting, isn't it, that beauty comes from animal shit? How ironic that human excrement, both literal and figurative, is so deadly to the human species.

My horse scratches, pees, farts, and unloads piles of poop in a completely unconcerned way; the chickens drop eggs and poop from the same opening, cackling with delight when the substance emitted is an egg; the goats drop cascades of little pellets whenever they please, and then they push cute little wet babies out of the other nether opening.

Even the dogs and the cat have tidy places for depositing excreta of which they are obviously proud: they all turn around to examine the results and give it a proprietary sniff or two.

Then we humans move vast quantities of the stuff onto roses and irises and petunias, and the result is breathtaking.

I like to think that I have moved vast quantities of the figurative shit in my life to the flowerbeds of my psyche, where that manure fosters the blossoming of a better soul. Accumulating that kind of psychic excrement is toxic to one's wellbeing, so dumping it is essential. Unfortunately, some people think dumping it on others is the only way to get it out of the way, but it's still toxic. They just make someone else sick, instead of growing their own internal flowerbeds.

So get out there and enjoy the flowers, remembering that beauty depends on moving loads of poop.

It's a bloomin' world out there

Good rains, lots of horse poop, and antique rose bushes have come together to cover the farm with blossoms. The driveway is a fairyland of pink and white; the irises are popping out in blue and purple and white; and the bluebonnets are finally too numerous to count. Texas in the spring makes Texas in the summer bearable.

Ho, Ho, Ho and all that

Christmas at the farm was nearly perfect this year. The only glitch was not having the Son attend, because his truck broke down, and he couldn't make the 30-mile trip. Very disappointing for this Maternal Unit, but not earth-shattering.

Both daughters were with us, along with No. 1's Roommate and his sweetie and her darling little girl. What a treat to have a 7-year-old in the house! We all tromped through the mud to the stable so that Little Girl could meet our critters, and she lit up the rainy day with her smile. Roommate simply must give me some copies of the photos: her sitting on Sara, smiling; her petting a wet baby goat, smiling; and I hope he got one of the incandescant grin that greeted the baby goat's baaaa.

Little Girl's presence brought back many happy memories of Christmases when our children were small. I look forward to someday having a grandchild or two--this little taste was quite sweet. I also hope Sweetie brings the Little Girl back up here to visit.

Great presents: DVDs, books, chocolate in the stocking, and a kick-ass tooled saddle acquired waaay cheap from my friend and riding guru Miranda. I suppose I should feel guilty: she sells me these horse things at very low prices to keep her little family afloat. Naaah. I give her stuff a good home! The Dad and I had hopes we could put Miranda with The Son, but she got married and had her little girl, and he found his heart's desire, so now I just get great deals on horses and tack. The Universe wants me to be happy, dammit!

It was nice to have Daughter #2 with us, and what a blessing to have had all day and well into the night with Daughter #1 in the kitchen. Her Soulmate is now firmly fixed in the family; I am happy to have a not-quite-son-in-law who so obviously cares for her. (And he laughs at my jokes. Smart guy!)

Himself went off to San Antonio to do his sonly duty for a couple of days, so I am alone with the livestock and the dogs. It's good to have these absences--it makes me appreciate him much more when he returns. It's nice and quiet out here in the country, until it gets a little too quiet. Horses, goats, chickens, dogs, cats are all wonderful, but they are terrible conversationalists. I'm spending a good bit of my time with the DVDs I was given--can't go wrong with Inspector Clouseau and Battlestar Galactica. Interesting combination, that.

So here's to Peace on Earth and Happy New Year and Christmas stockings filled with chocolate. God bless us every one.

Cooler, Wetter = Better

I will live. I may even live prouder because I can brag that I survived the most 100+ degree summer ever recorded in Central Texas.

Of course, this latest 80-degree dare-I-say autumnal weather is just a feint; hot will soon return. But beastly hot? I hope not. One of the saving graces of living in this area is fall. Autumn here is more like spring anywhere up north--and I love the winter. I have smelled the faint trail of Autumn, and she will not let me down.

I have much to do in temperatures that do not make me lose consciousness from the slightest exertion. The round pen stands ready, and both Sara and Jezebel are in excellent shape. The farrier came yesterday and gave me some tips on both the pen and the arcane science of bridling. I pretty much have the idea of the round pen and all its possibilities. However, getting a reluctant horse to accept a bit is eluding me. A horse resisting getting a piece of metal stuck in between its teeth is like a 1200-pound toddler resisting a spoonful of pureed spinach. There's no getting those teeth apart by force. One must use guile in both instances, and one must ensure that the operation, far from being painful, can actually be okay. In the case of a toddler who needed the iron and vitamins of spinach, I slathered each spoonful with mashed banana or applesauce. Went down, every bite.

I tried using molasses with Sara's old bit, the one that came with her, but it's very big, and she was able to spit it out before I could get the bridle fastened. I got her a much better bit and bridle, but I still had trouble getting all the parts where they needed to go. Thomas Black, the lanky cowboy farrier who comes every six weeks to trim the horses' hooves, showed me the nifty hand placements I need to use. He's about a foot taller than I am, so it's much easier for him to pull the bridle up and "seat" the bit at the same time. Still, the two-step version he showed me should be a good method for me. (I plan to have molasses handy, just in case Sara needs persuasion.)

Jezebel continues to grow into a nice horse. She stood very quietly for her pedicure again this time, having considerably improved since the second time when she reared and broke part of her stall. Yessssiree, considerably improved. She is looking very good, sleek and shiny. The poor grazing means that she and Sara are both well-muscled; the large amounts of hay we've been giving them provide their nutritional needs, while the movement out in the pasture is good exercise.

"The eye of the master fattens the flock." I was finally able to get a round bale of hay for the goats, and they have been eating for the past week, slowly, quietly, and blissfully. They surround the bay and stand there chewing what's in front of their faces, then they go off to lie down and ruminate in the shade. Everybody from the front pen looks better.

Sasha is honeymooning with Scout in the middle pen. Frances has also moved into Scout's harem. Little Flora was supposed to accompany Frannie, but Flora got back through the fence to her mother. We'll have to have another little goat rodeo to get the two remaining F-girls (Flora and Fifi--yeah, okay, I ran out of short names beginning with F) into their nuptial pen. The T-girls are all of Elvis's wives, and he is very much in love with all of them. (All right, here goes: Sleepy, Sneezy, Doc, Dopey.... no, no: Topsy, Turvy, LittleBit (another lapse in nomenclature, another story), Trixie, Toni and the late Two-Bit. Whew! (All the boys babies are named Fred. All of them. Fred 1, Fred 2, etc. Just Fred.) And we are having trouble telling some of them apart... )

Substitutes are the oft-overlooked safety net of public schools.

But that will be the subject of another journal. For now, the weather's nice, the animals are in the field, and life is good.

Contemplation on Modern Plumbing

Ahh, the flush toilet...

One doesn't really appreciate the trappings of modern life until they are absent. Today the toilet is out of service because it was leaking on the bathroom floor. Husband is now at Home Depot buying a wax thingy to try to seal the pipe. Until that task is accomplished, the fixture is in pieces on the adjoining bedroom floor. Eventually we will have to call the plumber in again, but this so-called quick fix will get us through the rest of the unpaid months of summer.

So I regard the porcelain god dethroned. There is simply an ugly pipe coming up through the bathroom floor, exerting a strange fascination. I know it culminates in the septic tank (repaired last month), but I find myself contemplating the disappearance of all things into a cosmic void.

No, wait--that's not contemplation. I have to go.

I could go on about the unfair disparity in anatomy between men and women, brought to the fore of my consciousness by the necessity to ...uh... aim. That women have greater bladder control is a scientific fact, researched at some length by NASA when they were designing the space toilet for the Shuttle. That testing program also revealed that women can pee on command (a necessity when doing this kind of research). Men apparently have "performance anxiety" and thus cannot provide the necessary bodily fluids at the precise moment they are needed. Perhaps that is to compensate for anatomical inequity and the corresponding lack of convenience.

Thank goodness--Himself is home with the parts.

Snakes on a Plane? Snakes on a Farm!

Rural life has challenges. In Central Texas one of the most dangerous challenges involves venomous snakes, rattlesnakes in particular. When we first moved out here to the farm, we neglected a field where my Border Collie Casey liked to hunt for mice. Tyros that we were, we forgot that where there are mice, there are nasty wild things that also hunt them. Casey had a run-in with a rattler that nearly killed him--and it freaked me out big time.

Four years later, we had gotten complacent, and we neglected the field where the dogs live. On Monday morning Dusty, our Black Lab, came in the house with a hugely swollen muzzle, crying with pain. We got him to the vet right away, yet his face and throat were even more swollen. To my horror, our vet diagnosed a snake bite, and he was put on IV medications. To my pleased surprise, Dusty healed very quickly; he came home just 24 hours later. He looked like a hippopotamus, and there were two sets of paired puncture wounds on his muzzle, but he was generally okay. I have given him his antibiotics buried in pieces of hot dog, which he loves, and the swelling has just about gone away. A country friend told us that muzzle snakebites are actually the least harmful; for some reason the swelling keeps the poison from getting to the internal organs. Who knew?

Even so, I consider this a serious warning to us transplanted city folks. I was tremendously upset that our carelessness had endangered a beloved pet. We know that we have to keep the brush cut and not have places where snakes can hide, yet we were not careful to keep up with the danger spots. I do not want another reminder to keep the place up! I could not bear to go through another dog incident, and I shudder to think of one of the horses being bitten.

"Nature red in tooth and claw" is a truism from some 19th century philosopher (I should know who said that), and, bottom line, truisms are true. I have been warned twice to take care; I pride myself on being a quick study. I shall not need another warning.

--and good things always come from bad: Daughter was a fount of warmth, support and comfort. She let me weep without judging; she offered no cloying cheer-up blather; and she called to check on Dusty and me just often enough to get me through a hard time. I am blessed--many thanks, Darling Girl.

Happy Birthday to Me

I must be getting OldTimer's Disease, because I forgot it was my birthday until I noticed the date on this update page. I am definitely "une femme d'un certain age," which I shall now decline to reveal to anyone ever again. I had to have another photo taken when I renewed my driver's license, and I get depressed every time I see it. The gray hair isn't too bad, but the extra pounds show up far too clearly.

I received an excellent, if unintended birthday present yesterday. The round pen needed sand to soften the footing, so I had 17 yards of river sand delivered last Friday. Two dump truck loads made a couple of mini-Everests that needed spreading, one shovelful at a time. Himself and I had barely made a dent, and I foresaw weeks of back-breaking labor with shovel, wheelbarrow, and rake, when--lo and behold--the Husband made arrangements with a neighbor and his Bobcat! The sand was nicely spread and smoothed in about two hours at no cost except a cold beer and some "war stories" from the neighbor. I had the horses out this morning, and the sand was lovely. Best birthday present I could have gotten, and it conforms to the rules: give me nothing that I have to eat, dust, or put away.

Sara has trotted and galloped beautifully in the round pen; she obviously had a lot of training at the vet school where she was raised. Jezebel has yet to figure out just what I want (which means that I need to refine my cues), so she bucks and kicks a good bit. I appreciate the 60-foot diameter when she does her bucking bronco imitation. I'd like to saddle Sara and practice with her, but I'd like to keep to a walk and gentle trot; that gallop is darned fast! As a "mature" horsewoman, I need to go pretty slowly. (Substitute "scaredy-cat" for "mature"!)

So, now that I'm no longer hauling sand, I need to get back on the stationery bike to try to dislodge the excess avoirdupois. (Being overweight is so much more elegant in French.) After the crisis of the new driver's license photo, I managed to shed about ten pounds, but I have many more to go before I feel like me again. I like playing Talking Head's "I'm on the Road to Nowhere" when I cycle--helps me not die of boredom when I exercise. Watching old videos helps, too: I pedal faster during battle scenes and alien attacks.

So here's a paean to my own virtue: no birthday cake, just low-fat frozen yogurt.