Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Pony on the Porch

Sunday morning, we opened the door to find the above scene! Not fifteen minutes after we took the picture, Beau lead Lilly Horse up onto the porch and deck. They walked around (while Keith held his breath) and surveyed the deck, and then one went down the precarious snow-covered wooden south stairs, while Lilly came down the stone steps from the old porch. Whew! We are not encouraging this behavior, and we long knew that Beau wanted to join us on the deck, as he had joined us in the yard all summer. He doesn't enjoy being handled much anymore, but he loves to be near his people when he wants to.

The above has not happened again, but we have blocked the south steps so they can't get up there. The deck is still covered with drifted snow, and there are a few planting pots left on it, so the horse and pony will be staying in the yard. They are bored, like little children, and the addition of two more inches of snow last night did not help matters. They are sleeping in their cozy little garage stall, though, and we have found them laying comfortably in the deepened straw.

Lllama Kisses

Okay, they're not cuddly like the pugs, but all of the llamas have gotten used to us, and now approach quite readily. Tony is very friendly and curious, and has started reaching his nose and nibbling at my lips very daintily. Then he pulls his head back, looks at me as if he can't believe he did it, and turns away. Both Yankee and Inca are doing the same, and Mama, once so aloof, now does the Happy Camel Dance when we come with the bucket of goodies. The snow is not fazing them... with plenty of good hay and cover in their little barn, they are doing fine.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day, 2009

Snow Llamas

The one animal that truly seemed to come through the Christmas Eve blizzard with no problems were the llamas. Bred for the mountains, they slept together in the three sided barn, and came through ice-covered, but seemingly okay. Plenty of hay kept them going, and they tucked in as if there were no snow and ice around them. We made sure that the heated trough was full and we saw them drink during the day, so know they are okay. They didn't go far from the barn and barnyard, they are smart animals.

Blizzard Horses

With ice hanging off their coats.... though we made them a place to get in out of the storm in the old garage, and they used it. Beau's old stall at the front of the big chicken house filled with snow in the wild winds.

Your blogger, in her Christmas Attire!

Getting ready to carry water buckets outside... was it only yesterday morning we were able to use the hose??

A Cold Country Christmas

December 25th, birth of our Saviour, and usually started with a trip to church and a big breakfast. This year, we had a blizzard strike on Christmas Eve. Nathan, middle grandson, could not come to join us for the evening and night.... and it took all we had to keep the animals alive and well. In the morning, we could not get up the drive. We used all but one bale of hay that we had laid in this week, so tomorrow morning, instead of after Christmas sales, we'll get up and go in search of hay and straw in the van with no heater.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Link is Broken

Two weeks ago, I took this picture of a happy Nicholas, sitting in the porch of the big chickenhouse where he loved to look for mice. He would follow me on my chores as he followed us while we walked Oscar the Min Pin in Leavenworth when we first moved back, when he would follow us down the alley and out onto Esplanade, running behind us on the curb and laying down under the park bench when we sat to watch the river. When we stood up to go home, up would come Nick, and follow us back. When we moved to this farm, it was like he remembered the old farm, where he had grown up with me, and he couldn't wait to investigate all the buildings and the pasture and grounds. Yes, he did kill some wild birds, but he was an indoor outdoor cat out here in the country. Twice we thought we had lost him, but we know now that Oscar was keeping him away from the house. After Oscar was gone, Nick felt safe to approach us again, and I was so glad to find him again. I had heard him night after night, calling to me, until I thought maybe I was losing it, but he WAS out there.

On the first he did not come to me when I called him from the porch, and Keith found him curled in a deck chair, and carried him in. Two days at Dr. Tom's that week found only that he had a virus, and he was sent home with medication. He lost weight and stopped eating, and finally, drinking. The last night he dragged himself up between us, and gave two short yowls... when I turned the light on, I thought he was gone. I stroked him and talked to him, and cried. Then, at five, he dragged himself off the bed. I left work that morning and came home to take him back to Dr. Tom, where I held him until he went to sleep peacefully.
He was the last of my beloved pets from my "old" pre-married life, at my old farm. They are all gone now, Petey, Ashley, Libby, Stealth, the Elmos, Nicholas the Third and now Nicholas the Fourth. All the chickens and ducks that lived happily there, and the gardens and lovely rolling meadow in the pasture. He is buried here under Beau's tree in the pasture, in a little red box, and the coyotes won't be able to find him. He can look down on the beautiful ponds at the foot of the pasture, and in the summer the mulberry tree will shade him. We are going to plant wildflowers on his resting place, but his real resting place is in my heart.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Peaceable Kingdom

Our friends marvel when we tell them that we have ten roosters and thirty hens. No, we aren't rolling in eggs... it's winter, and the girls aren't laying as much. Some of the older girls are past their laying prime, but no one dies at Calamity Acres unless by natural causes (or mercifully, if the case may be). For the first five years, Rambo was the King of the roosters. If he saw a younger rooster bothering one of his harem, he would barrel across the yard or pasture, and hip-check the other rooster like a hockey player! Then, this year, Rambo sickened and died of old age. But in a cage in the henhouse was his last son, Baby Rambo, who has grown to be a beautiful rooster like his dad. Not full Buff Orpington, but bearing the stamp of his daddy, he is the New King. He has a beautiful crow... a true Cockadoodledo, and throw his head back and lets it out.

Last year's hatch brought One, Two , Three and Four, who are clearly descendents of the handsome Fred, our Japanese rooster, killed in the dog attack last year. Three year olds are Studly and Butch, also Fred descendents. This year we had Curley, who at one year was kept busy delighting the smaller ladies, until killed by a snake in August. He has left several descendents, however, including a very frizzled cochin-silkie cross rooster, and two others. All get along fine, with minimal sparring. Our theory is that the size of the pasture dictates the peace of the kingdom.

The New Pasture Pen

For winter protection... more pictures to follow of the tarp, straw bales, etc. to protect the geese and ducks. As soon as we had it up, an inspection was made!

Uncle Beau, December, 2009

A Cold December Day

Cold too soon, here at Calamity Acres. Two winter storms on the way, and a weekend spent trying to batten down the hatches and still prepare for Christmas. Lots of projects are in progress... a temporary shelter put up so the ducks and geese can get out from under any precip, and heating lamps on in the big and little henhouses. The haybarn is finished, primed, but not finished painting, and the closeness to the gate of the pasture has been a Godsend, taking only minutes to feed the llamas and equines now. We have a new storage building, so that the shop can be cleaned out and prepared for a big project for the spring. The big henhouse has more room, now that we are using the haybarn for storage of all the hay/horse feed and llama feed.
We have one more small project, to put straw bales around the little dog pen in the chicken yard with the tarp cover... this will give the little birds a place to shelter out of the windy, cold days of winter.

Inside, things are not so well... Nicholas, the Link, the 9 year cat who lived originally at my old far, has been sick since last Tuesday. Despite two days at the vet's office, they could not figure out what was wrong. He is dehydrated, and on antibiotics. He has spent the weekend sleeping, and is hiding now. We are praying he is not dying, but it does not look good. He does not seem to be in terrible pain, just fading.

Ouside, we have a chicken who is showing signs of trouble as well. Brownie, one of old Rambo's daughters, has a crippled leg, and has lived for two years balancing her self on one good leg, and one stuck awry. Something else has happened now, and she is having trouble. We debated all weekend to end things for her, and are waiting until morning. Today I saw her drink water and try to eat a little, so we decided to wait, but tomorrow, Husband leaves for a three day meeting so the decision will be made to end things, or to let nature take her course. This is the unpleasant side of country living... sometimes animals sicken and die, and you don't always know what has happened. She does not appear to be eggbound, and there are no sniffles... we have been through that before. She has been a very plucky girl, and would have been put down months ago by a normal chicken raiser, but we are not normal here... everyone has a chance, until they don't anymore.

Christmas preparations are under way, though the tree is not in and up. Sometimes there are more things to be done in a day than there are hours, so it will have to wait until next weekend now. Someday, when I'm retired, I'll have my ducks in a row!

Both vet and farrier have come in the last week. Lilly Horse is overweight, and now dieting, but in good health. Farrier has pronounced both horses in good shape after trimming, and was astounded at the weight Uncle Beau has put on since the arrival of his companion. The llamas are fat and sassy and enjoying the winter weather better than all of us!