Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lilly Ann on Point - Another Mole Found!

Fastest Mole-digger in the Midwest!

New Best Friends

New Best Friends
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
The temps went from teens at the beginning of the week to 67 today, Saturday, the last day of January. The horses had a great day, and the ducks/geese/chickens were all happy to be out in the sun.

Sammy gets straw off Beau

Sammy gets straw off Beau
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
Here is the remarkable symbiosis between pony and gander - Beau spent fifteen minutes picking straw, etc. off Beau's coat.

Sammy protects Beau and Lacey

Lacey and the Waterfowl

Lacey and the Waterfowl
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
Lacey on her feet at last, and surrounded by her feathered friends!

Sammy cleans Beau

Sammy cleans Beau
Originally uploaded by ksredhead

Friday, January 30, 2009

Love Remembers

On October 6, my sister and I held our dear mother as she passed into her Lord's arms. We have missed her terribly these sixteen weeks, and can't believe so much time has gone by without her. As she lay there the final weekend, we both talked to her, laughing about old times, and telling her things that were happening in the home where she spent her final weeks. We talked about recipes and kids and the seasons and the holidays coming up, and what was on TV. These things she loved: Notre Dame football, soap operas, cooking, baking, reading, saying her prayers... her grandchildren, large and small. Names were hard for her in her last 3 years, but she could remember faces. Whether she called me "Mother" or by my given name, she always knew me. We watched her grow more childlike with the days, though Alzheimers was never part of the package. Her outside world shrunk to the four walls of a shared room until her final five weeks. We kissed her dear hands frequently, bent with arthritis, the fingers swollen and useless. We watched her poor worn out body try to keep itself going, all the while telling her it was okay to leave us and go to our dad, who had gone on so many years before, and her parents and brothers, whom she missed so terribly. When she finally breathed that last breath... we told her good job, and sat with her until the driver came to take her outer shell away, knowing her soul was already rejoicing. Now we think of things constantly that we would like to tell her... about all the little things that we can no longer ask advice for, or just to talk. Hold tight to your loved ones, because there is finality in our ends. She had a good life, and for that we are very grateful, but love remembers.

Bluebird of Spring

On the way home tonight, feeling very low and sick, I saw a bluebird winging it's way along a country fenceline, to my right. Just the sight of it's little blue body flying along brought my spirits up, along with 40 degree temps and sun! Got home to find the geese and ducks with no water, but the pond is beginning to thaw. Tomorrow is expected to be in the 60s, so maybe they can finally clean themselves all over. We are forecast to have several days of good temps, followed by two days of low twenties, and then back up into the 50s and 60s, so relief is on the way. Tomorrow we will bucket out the big heated horse trough.. we are not gullible enough to believe it will thaw enough that we won't have to use it for another two months, but at least we can empty it and then use the hose to refill it. I used the hose tonight to fill the goose waterers and to run water for the white mare. She slowly walked out of the pen to follow her friend Beau. I watched her go down into the pasture and walk around, but he has come back up and she is now down on the crest of the small hill. I will go down and check her right now, we were hoping not to have to bute her today, but it appears we may have to. I won't get worried unless we can't get her up to the pen, then we'll be hauling water. She was eager to get out for a while, though, after weeks of barely moving. Husband is gone to the high school basketball game, so I will put a coat on and walk down there, bute in the pocket, and see how she is doing. I may be able to get her up and have her walk slowly back up to the pen.

Tomorrow is errand day... German shepherd to the vet, back home to get the truck and then to the feed stores, then to the commissary for groceries. I'll get the laundry done and the house picked up, and we are now resting after church on Sunday, so it will be nice to get it all done after sleeping a bit later tomorrow.

I'm looking for more signs of spring!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sammy and Beau

The pasture pals

Beau and Sammy

Of cold and ducks

Animals are amazing, and they continually make me jaw dropping surprised. Beau the Palomino Pony has a new friend, Timmy the Gander. Timmy and the other gander, Sammy, and the three ducks hang out in the horseyard now most of the time, and if anyone (read that Ranger the German Shepherd or Lilly Ann the Huntress) bark at the horses, Timmy is on the alert, long neck out and hissing. We enjoy watching his defense of his new realm, and realize that even when Beau is loose in the pasture, Timmy has formed a new association, and can be found on the alert while Beau grazes, or just the two boys standing together, goose with head under wing, and old pony dozing in the sun. If I can catch them with camera in hand, I'll post proof on this site.

The ducks and geese are chore-laden in the winter, carrying the water needed to keep their bills clean and open, and their feathers groomed, is our hardest chore. Even the big horse trough only requires a few buckets a week, once we fill it... but carrying the duck water daily is a pain. I suggested to husband last night maybe it was time to rethink webbed poultry, and he laughed and said "Winter is almost over"... and he's right! I was more cheerful tonight, out in the dark, talking to the birds as they bedded down with the horses. The trough is full for the wildings, the geese and ducks have plenty of feed, and we'll freshen their water in the morning. The white mare is on her feet (hurrah) and the old pony is dreaming of summer in his little barn.

Someday soon I'll write the saga of Brownie the chicken, who sprained a foot out of kilter and now walks like Chester of Gunsmoke of old. She bobbles her head, and the roosters abuse her terribly, but she has lived for two years now and gives us a beautiful brown egg daily. We have taken to holding a water bowl for her in the evening, and she drinks long and hard, so we suspect that when she gets down for water daily, the others are picking at her. This is the way of chickens, the oddball is persecuted, just like people. Each has his or her own personality, and I see tonight that one of the Little Bunch gray roosters is now protecting one of the two year old little gray hens. As most of our young birds are related, they are probably cousins, but it doesn't matter as we don't breed for show, but for pleasure. There will be no chicks this year, though, so the black snakes will have to find something else to eat this summer.

I'm going to join Beau and go to bed tonight and dream of spring and buds unfolding.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Signs of Spring

Brrr! 14 degrees of hand-numbing ear freezing cold out there this morning! Yesterday's sunny skies have disappeared behind a slate gray cloudy mass that reminded us that winter still has a grip. But wait! There are signs that winter's hold is almost over!

This morning's cacophony of sound at the wild bird feeders gave evidence that we are almost to the end... a red-winged blackbird sat in lone splendor as I approached to fill the feeders, lording it over the flat feeder and choosing his bit carefully. He flew off as I approached, but he is a Portent of Spring! And a welcome one!

The trees have begun to swell... it started several weeks ago, but the buds continue, and now they are very evident when you look up into the tree branches. If we can just hold on for a few more weeks, the days that have been tantalizing us... 50's, 60's.... will come in quicker succession. But for now, we are locked in the freezer again, for at least five days.

Our mare is down as I write this. We have had so many opinions given us that we are going with the flow now. She spends more than half her time off her feet, and we are worried now about skin sores, since she has a particularly heavy coat due to her endocrine imbalance. She is stilling getting her daily medication, and is still eating and drinking and pooping, so we are not unduly concerned. It seems our biggest gander, Timmy, has adopted her companion Beau, so we are no longer afraid that he may not have a buddy in the future. Timmy can't fit through the fencing with his friends Sammy, Mattie, Mary and Maggie, so stands sentinal alone outside the horsepen. Now he follows Beau around when he is loose, and the two boys stand together, goose and pony, laxing away.

After church I checked on the henhouse, and found all the chickens but one inside, eating, drinking and sleeping. Most of the Little Bunch was up in the rafters, trying to stay warm, and the bigger chickens were on the floor. I sprinkled some sunflower seeds and scratch down to keep them busy, and wondered where Curley, the frizzle Cochin rooster was. I found him in the horse barn, huddled in the straw, the only bird besides ducks and geese brave enough to go out in the cold this morning.

The wild birds drink from the heated horse trough, so we try to keep it full in this weather. I see them now, by the score, coming down to drink the warm water. I know it needs a bucket, so will go out there soon to fill it to the brim again, so they can reach it. This is the time the wildings need the most feed, all their natural food is gone and they are waiting for spring as eagerly as we.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hurrah for the Red, White and Blue!

40 years ago, or more, during the Watts riots, I remember my dad saying at the dinner table one night that my sister and I would live to see black people and white people get along in this country. He predicted that there would be no more "black" or "white" but a country who married each other and those children would be leading us. I guess he was proved right today, political incorrectness or not. We have a new President, and I took a vacation day to see the panoply, and see him sworn in. Though I was a McCain supporter, I voted for the new president while living for a short while in Illinois five years ago, so I guess I can say I helped put him where he is today. We are glad he is there, and hope that great things will come from his election to our highest office, and guess that our country has now really walked the walk instead of just talking the talk.

The vet came back again today to look at the white mare. She still has hot rear hooves, and we know now that she will probably not get appreciably better. She was up, though, and was able to walk a bit and stay up through the day. Since she is still eating and drinking, the vet said to keep medicating her and watch to make sure she does eat and drink. Any cessation, and we will have to make a quick decision, but thankfully, that is put off for now.

I have watched the election festivities off and on all day, but am still trying to vacuum, fold clothes, etc. all the things that our daily lives are taken up with. Time marches on.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Speaking of School

Hund School - 1930
Reads the title on this little white building that is in our country neighborhood, as the crow flies. Dotted around us are several of these tiny one room buildings, that were home to pupils of times past. Some, like the Hund School, were only there since the 30's... not so old, we say, but it was a time when electricity did not come to every farm around yet, and people were lucky to get their news on a big radio against the living room wall. Down our road is the tiny Admire school, built of limestone. It is being lovingly restored by a young carpenter who has repoured the floors and bolstered the walls against decay. He hopes to move his little family into it someday, and the school will be the core of the new family house, with a bedroom wing built on. We love to see it lit in the evenings now, while he is working on it, it's lights aglow again on it's corner of the road.
Our mare is up and moving, and consultation with her previous owner says that she may have had too much medication for her ills. She is wandering very slowly in the yard with her companion in the sun this morning, and the vet will see her again on Tuesday. It is deceptively sunny, the sun belies the fact that it is still briskly cold, and I hurried through the chores before church. It beats the blowing snow of three days ago, though, by far.
The ducks and geese are asleep in the straw of the vacated horsebarn. One gander, Timmy, cannot figure out how to step through the tube gate, so stands outside honking at his friends. Now the gate is open, so that all five are in there sleeping, heads tucked under their wings. Some of the hens have joined them, and they are all resting in the straw. The little hens are still in the henhouse, it is harder for them to stand up to the breeze, and their roosters keep them close. One tiny one, Dovey, is on a clutch of eggs, but we will take them out from under her today and endure her pecking. It is far too soon for anyone to be setting this year, and we hope not to have chicks... we will be on guard against this, in fact. We ended up with too many cockerels last year, and foolishly have not gotten rid of them... so don't want to encourage any more.
Saturday passed in a blur of errands and "must-dos". Today will be slower, with laundry and picking up to do, but keeping quiet the Lord's day.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Little Bunch

Geese in Flight

Why is it that even if you have had a bad day, the sight of a gaggle of geese in a V on the way home is enough to lift the heart? It hurts me to hear them called "flying rats" when they are glorious birds, who protect each other in flight and on land. To see our own domestic geese guarding the ducks is something that we enjoy day in and day out. One of the ganders always has his head up while the others eat or sleep, watching for danger.

Today it was below zero, just, in the morning when I went out to chore. The absence of wind made it bearable, until I realized one hand was a board! I came in to warm up briefly, but still enjoyed seeing the Little Bunch in the rafters of the henhouse, and the other birds all ruffed up, leaning against each other for warmth on the roosts. Last year we left a warm light on in the henhouse at night... a heatlamp that is normally used over baby chicks, a dark red. The year before we did it too, and both years we were invaded by hundreds of starlings. We know why they are called nasty birds... the walls of the henhouse still bear their destruction. One of our projects this year is to pull down the rest of the drywall so the blacksnakes have to nest outside, and the mice have less room to hide. We don't mind the snakes, but when we go in and find five at once, it's a pain in the neck and we don't get eggs! Back to the cold... we found this year that the birds have done well without the extra help of the lamp. Last night we plugged in the new heater for the base of the big metal waterer, and this morning, did not have to carry it, frozen, to the house to thaw. What a help that was! We decided to put Birdy, the bird that Lilly attacked, back in with the others. Her bowl kept freezing, and we wanted to give her access to the water. She was fine this evening, her spottily covered rear all fluffed up like the others, and no one had bothered her. We hate to lose a good bird, and she is only six months old.

The little mare is still not doing well, and we have decided we will call the vet one more time, and get another assessment. We do not want to lose her, unless her situation is far gone, so we decided another farm call is in order. The medicine is helping her, but we see that she is still not moving around freely. The worry is at the back of our minds... we don't know what our poor old pony will do if his friend is gone.

Praying tonight for my friends without jobs, and my friends who are ill. Husband and I realize we are truly blessed to have a warm home and work to go to daily.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Another Week Started

Oh, for a good camera!

Tonight, over the crest of the hill to the east, has risen the most beautiful, gigantic, and yellow moon we have seen in months! Our neighbors on the acreage to the east live on a rise... it is behind their European style house that the moon has risen. Husband was burning trash when he called me from the yard (by phone!) and told me to come to the porch and look to the east. The beauty of it sent shivers down my spine. Surely this will be a good week, both at the office and at home, after last week's sadness.

Only a Being stronger and more powerful than mere man could create something of such wonder and might. It is our humble lot to accept the mere glory of it, and I do.

Kansas weather has swung to the mid-forties in our area of the state yesterday and today, though the Polar Express is due by Thursday. The hose ran, so I was able to fill troughs and fortexes with good water for the animals, and they all relaxed in the sun. The chickens and geese ran back and forth, and the geese and ducks bedded down in the straw of the horsebarn and slept for a few hours. One gander is very tall, and he cannot figure out how to get between the bars of the tubular gate that closes the horses in... I finally opened it and herded him through, then he kept the little mare away from her feed for a while! She has learned to toss her head at them to get her way, but her feet are so sore right now that she let them wander around her. We are still worried about her... the situation does not seem to be improving much.

Saturday was spent scrapbooking with my regular group, ladies from 18 to 70, and we all visited and enjoyed looking at each other's work. Lots of goodies were brought, so New Year's diets were broken while we snacked on each other's offerings. It was a happy day, the only time each month that I spend for myself, leaving all the chores to husband and working on my books all day.

Today brought church, and house cleaning, but we took it at a slow pace and are still finishing up a few things at 7 PM. Early to bed tonight, though all the Powers that Be are out of the office this week, and I am thinking JEANS while they are gone!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"Being Madoffed"

Today I have read a new expression on the net... "Being Madoffed"... someone who has been cheated out of some or all of their life savings by financier Bernie Madoff. A famous writer was stunned at the vitriol she received when she blogged that she had lost all of the many thousands she had made by trusting Bernie Madoff with her life savings. She couldn't understand the people who called her a privileged princess, because she was going to have to sell one of her four residences, and go back to work as a writer to pay her bills. She had earned everything herself, and saw herself (rightly, I believe) as a victim. I think that the privileged are going to see more and more of this expression of anger over their greed, whether rightful or not, by a middle class that is going to be wanting and suffering their own hurts. I know here in our own little piece of paradise, we are already cutting back on plans and watching our pennies, and question each expenditure we make. Our vet isn't called as much, and every little thing isn't worried over quite as much. We don't buy as much feed, and we don't waste what we have. The trickle-down theory is beginning... the vet doesn't get called in as much, her income goes down, she doesn't spend as much at the store, etc. etc. etc. Everyone is worried, even those who formerly didn't mind shelling out for extras. We'll see how the new president does, and hope his bold economic plan starts a turnaround for our nation.

Our little mare Lacey is back on her feet again after a week of sadness and soreness. Several times we talked about what we would have to do if she were unable to walk. The vet came and medicated, and wrapped her feet. For two days she layed on the straw or stood only briefly, and we feared the worst. Now, after more advice from the vet, we have removed the wrappings and she is up, eating, drinking and pooping. Whle she can't walk far, she CAN walk a little, and has a brighter eye. That expression of hope kept me going as I fed her this morning, because if she is looking brighter, she is fighting. We will postpone making a sad decision about her for a while, until we see her quality of life has deteriorated so. Her mate Beau will be bereft though, they can hardly stand to be separated as it is. He is turned out in the pasture this morning to get a little excercise, but comes over to check on her off and on, and they communicate in soft whickers.

True Kansas weather: It was 57 at 3 yesterday, and is 24 this morning! I LOVE doing chores in the winter! I sing to the birds when I turn on the henhouse lights, and they all make noises at me in answer. The geese and ducks begin to quack and honk, as their water has frozen solid and they are thirsty. They greedily dip their bills to clean them out and drink as soon as we fill the fortexes with warm water. Beau has already snitched their feed, so I'll go out a second time shortly and give them some more water, and some more feed. We 'll do that several times this Saturday, to make sure everyone has water. Yes, winter is more intense for chores, but has it's own rewards.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Best Friends

Yes, he's thin... he's over 30! He's in good health, though, and the biggest character you would ever want to meet!

Aftermath of the Day

You know, it's hard to blog when the "w" key won't capitalize. what's up with that??

Husband, stepson and I went out for dinner tonight with a Christmas gift card to Longhorn Steakhouse. Great food. Started to pay the bill and the lovely waitress pointed out the fact that we were at LONESTAR. Ooops.

The mini mare is back on her feet after being down for 12 - 15 hours. The vet bill took a chunk, but she has enough medication now for us to get her feet calmed down and back on track. She is wearing lovely duct tape booties for the next few days, courtesy of the vet. Her pony friend Beau had to come out into the yard so he could get some excercise, so his first stall... the porch of the big henhouse... was made ready for him to sleep tonight. Tomorrow we'll put him back in the pasture and he can pine for his Lady Love over the gate during the day while we are at work.

It continues with decent weather, and we expect low forties for the next few days, and are grateful for another respite from constant water carrying. My back won't know what to do when we start hauling multiple buckets again. The clear mornings are beautiful, though, with the stars twinkling in the black sky outside the rim of light cast by the yardlight on the pole. It's a pleasure to walk up the drive and fetch the paper from the road, and look at the stars as I amble along.

Husband says two roosters were fighting tonight, so spring must be on the way and in the air!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Long Day at work

It was a long day at the office today for your blogger. There was a round of layoffs, and good friends were released from their jobs. You can preach "business decision" all you want, but when it comes to close friends, the hurt is real and throbbing. My heart hurts for all of them. There were indications that the economy was getting "real" to us, as several friend's husbands were laid off recently, but this was close to home and painful. Your blogger is still employed, but faces the loss of good friends and cheery faces at the workplace. My prayers are with all of them tonight.

Lacey, the mini, is still up and down with her bad feet. The vet will get called tomorrow again, and more medicine gotten. In fact, at this point, the vet needs to come herself and see what is really going on. Though dollar signs are dancing in the breeze here, we are not going to let the old lady suffer and will get her some medical relief. The trim the other day should have relieved things for her, so something else must be going on, and the vet can ascertain what it is. Then we will proceed with fixing the problem as best as possible.

The naughty minx Lilly Ann ran out the gate tonight when I got home... it took more than half an hour to get her home. Traffic on the gravel road and the loss of an earlier dear dog make us worry when she gets loose. Ranger, on the other hand, never leaves the yard, and won't go out the gate. He is happy here in his kingdom and safe in his yard.

The weather is still cold but not biting or windy. It's a pleasure to get up in the early morning and go out and sing to the birds when I wake them up. I just don't feel much like singing tonight.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Little Henhouse

Yes, that's a doghouse under it where the earlier hatch lived with their mother!
Two days of "balmy" temps... it got up to 56 degrees today by Volkswagen weather (my car thermometer) but now it is blowing and the temps are dropping. The hose was operational and we got the big heated trough cleaned out and the fortexes all cleaned. Now, we'll be back to carrying buckets in the morning. From no coat weather to bundling up in 24 hours - that's Kansas weather!

The farrier came today and took care of our two old equines. Lacey is foundered now, the Cushings has gotten to her... and he gently shaped her hooves while explaining the facts of life to me about her hoof care. We are going to have him come now at six week intervals, to give her relief from the spreading lamini. She is still getting pain medication so will stay in the horseyard for a few more days, until she is walking better. Her friend Beau is tired of being in, but it is not hurting him, and he and she got a good grooming while we waited for the farrier.

Our five bantams from last year's hatch under Dovey are still with us, and the four cockerels are so pretty that we hate to send them to be processed (Chicken Mcnuggets, as our friend calls them) and are ready to let them live here until and if the roosters all start fighting. They look like Fred, our original Japanese bantam rooster, and Bob, one of his first sons. For that reason alone we would like to keep them, and they are keeping their noses clean so far. The "Big Four", Rambo, Butch, Studly and Curley, the frizzle bantam, pretty much leave them alone, so if the status remains quo, they can stay for a while. The one little pullet wants to be with the Big Chickens badly, and comes into the henhouse during the day. They all want to sleep with the Big Group, but get scared just before we shut them up for the night, so tonight, two cockerels are sleeping in the little henhouse under a warming lamp, and the other three are in the big house. It would be a lot easier on us if they would all roost together, we could turn the heat lamp off in the little house and use it in the big. Maybe that will happen this week.

Down came the Christmas tree... at least it's decorations. We still need to pack the tree and the garlands and wreaths, and then all will go over to the storage room to be packed away for another year. Little by little we are cleaning the barn out of boxes... and packing the usable things from my life before this marriage into clean bins... and throwing out other things that the mice have ruined. Husband is watching football and I am getting ready to make some room at the kitchen table to scrapbook a little before bedtime. All is well!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Water Didn't Freeze Last Night

A Miracle for 2009 - the water in the fortexes didn't freeze last night, despite temps in the 20's. What a blessing for sore backs this morning, as we had only to carry one load of water out for the geese and ducks to clean their bills. As soon as they hear me coming, the chorus of honking and quacking starts and they waddle on up to the fortex, waiting for the fresh, clean water.

The day has dawned clear and brisk, but the weatherman says that drizzle will come this afternoon, and by tomorrow, it will be cold and icy. We're thrilled.

We can't reach our farrier, and the vet has now told us she thinks he has moved to manage a large breeding farm. We hope to get some names of people to call from her later today when she has a chance to stop and think for a while. Country vets who see large animals are at such a premium today that they run constantly, and it is no wonder they get burned out and go to work for large corporations. We have a vet we love, and we hope she continues on with her work. We hope, too, to find another farrier through her that can take care of our poor little Lacey with the bad feet.

This morning will be spent doing the errands normally done on Saturday - run to the two feed stores, and get haircuts, etc. The Husband will be working at his office this afternoon, cleaning and tidying and going through files to start the new year out right. Then I will return home to start taking down the Christmas decorations, and packing them away for another year. We had a peaceful, happy Christmas, with the two families coming for separate parties, and a surprise visit from my youngest and his girl on Christmas Eve. It's time to put things away now, since Christmas decorations were out this year from before Halloween... and several ladies in line with me the last two weeks commented on how tired they were of Christmas before it even got here. I don't ever want to be like that... so didn't put our tree up this year until the second week of December. Some of my friends no longer put trees up or decorate ... they wonder why, as single or divorced women, they should. Keeping the Birth of the Child active in your heart is reason enough for me.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ranger on guard

Ranger on guard
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
The cold didn't seem to bother Ranger, but the sore hip finally made him come in and rest for a while.

Dreaming of summer

Dreaming of summer
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
Addie Mae and Lilly Ann decided to stay in and stay warm!

Friends in the farmyard

Friends in the farmyard
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
Beau and Lacey were not thrilled about the zero degree temps.

Icy grass

Icy grass
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
Though there was a beauty to it all, it's also a reminder of freezing hands and sore backs.

Glistening trees

Glistening trees
Originally uploaded by ksredhead
Here is what we woke up to last weekend - a beautiful end to 2008

Lilly Ann the Hunter!

Lilly Ann, Huntress Supreme, Naughty Chicken Killer!

Winter Days on the Farm

"Farm"... my real farming friends will laugh when they read this. We have a five acre "hobby farm" (title of one of my favorite mags) in the Midwest. We keep chickens, ducks, geese, two elderly equines (a pony and a mini) and four dogs, two cats. We had a rabbit and turkeys, and in the ways of nature, they have gone on before us.

We are two months into the winter chore season, and getting up at 5:30 on these cold mornings to feed before work is a chore in itself. The pugs keep us warm in bed, and it's hard to pull away from that cuddly warmth to go shower and go out and carry water buckets and feed buckets. Despite the fact winter officially started on December 21st, the dark and cold has been going on since the first of November where we live. I sing to the chickens as I open the coop in the morning, and they are awake and complaining about the cold, too. Most of them stay in during the cold days, but the hardy ones, Rambo and his harem, go out and peck around in the pasture. We don't even lock the gate to the chicken yard at this time of year, so the ducks and geese can come and go at night. Their straw fort around the bottom of the stilted little chicken house keeps them warm and protected from the elements.

The equines need a trim... we neglected it during the hustle bustle of December, and Lacey, the mini mare, is paying for it now. She is walking on ouchy hooves, and we realized it today when we picked them out. We will call Jerad in the morning, our farrier, and he will come and make her hooves good again. He is a pleasure to watch, all gentleness and slowness and carefulness... we like to be here to watch him work, he is a true horseman where we are amateurs only. He raises beautiful purebred Arabians, and we envy his horses from afar. Until we have water to the horseyard and henyard, though, we are maintaining numbers where they are, since our backs will not cooperate further!

Today Lilly, our mixed hunting dog, caught another chicken. She caught Birdy, the sole survivor of the seven chicks hatched by our turkey hen Helen last summer. The night they hatched, a snake got into the dog house where they slept, and got three of them, and Helen trampled several in her haste to get out. Only two survived, and we called them "The Birdbrain Twins" because even though we took them from their "mother", they remained nutty. One disappeared as a six month old pullet, and we found her body parts days later. The other, now called Birdy, must have come over the henyard fence to freedom late this morning, and been caught by Lilly Ann, Hunter Supreme. The Husband says any bird coming over has signed it's own death warrant, but I have seen tears in his eyes many times finding their bodies, or having to put them out of their misery. I followed the trail of feathers in the yard, and found Birdy under the arm of a wheelbarrow upturned for winter, hiding in plain sight. She had been raked across the bottom and behind, and suffered some bad wounds, but we applied antibiotic, and made her a warm bed of straw in the nursing cage. She has food and water and is moving around, so we are hoping for the best for her. She is a Rambo daughter, and a fine specimen. Only the next few days will tell if she becomes infected and we have to put her down, but we will nurse her along and see. Rambo has survived two dog attacks (savage ones) and is blind in one eye, but made it through and is still the strong leader of the flock.

The wild geese have been moving from the bean and corn fields east of us, over our heads to open water hereabouts. We have seen thousands of them at dawn and dusk these last two weeks, and I keep trying to capture them on still camera and new movie camera, which I am not good at using yet. If I can get decent pictures, I'll post them for everyone to see.