Thursday, January 21, 2021

Happy Squirrel Appreciation Day 2021

And appreciation of a slew of other creatures around this place! 


I love them!  I love to watch them climb and play. 

The killer. 

Some of you who don't follow me on FB... this little guy got into my small henhouse, and killed the tiny black silkie hen.  

I toook him to the bottom of the pasture... in a bucket... gently.... and in two days, 

I put a camera in the sheep barn to see what ate the dead silkie. 

This is the yellow tabby that has been eating here lately. 

Oh, I just re-read this.  I put some cat food in there nightly.  It has been eating the cat food. 

A wren on the porch water.  I have to say that in all the years I've lived here, 
I do not remember seeing wrens before this year!

They are beautiful little birds. 

Starlings.  They love cat food. 

A jay. Those low waters, I have two, are heated. 

A blue jay with three cardinals behind him waiting to eat. 

I counted eight cardinal pairs out there the other night. 

I'm just not even going to comment here. 

Or here. 

Here, I have to make another funny comment. 
Sometimes I get up during the night to go to the bathroom. 
I never EVER see anything on the deck in the middle of the night, but yet, the next morning, there are many pictures on the camera.  What the HECK?

Another squirrel pic. 

I am going to comment here.  Friends, this was taken on the seventeenth. 

The Three Amigos.  
Jester is very lonely now... so is his mama.  
I can't tell you how much losing Fritzi and Snowy affected me... maybe it's age. 

I still feel myself welling up for them. 

I have been sick since Christmas, have been tested twice for Covid, and mercifully 
both tests were negative.  I did end up in the ER this week, but after 
being tested out the wazoo, was released to go home and see my doctor. 

I feel much better today, but am taking it easy for a few days and hydrating, hydrating, hydrating. 

A new day has dawned for our country, and I am glad to be here to be a part of it. 

Thanks to all of you for your wonderful well wishes, I so appreciated them. 

Sunday, January 3, 2021

What a Year

January, 2020 

Let's go back. 

It was a fresh, new year, and I was looking forward to more happy times on the homestead. 

 My beloved sheep were still here, waiting for me at the gate as I went down to feed, on the first of January, 2020. 

You see there was no snow on the ground that day, and the sun was shining. 

I can tell from this picture I had not started feeding the birds along the railing, as I do now.  As an aside.... I counted six squirrels yesterday afternoon, eating here during the snowstorm. I feed good. 

The sheep were having a good month in February, they were fat and sassy. 
There is Flicka and her son Cookie... but I was beginning to realize that taking care of them was getting away from me. 

Our neighbors were burning off around the ponds, they have a wood shop and make fine cabinets. 
I can only see the ponds in the winter now, because my east fence line has grown so much. 
I am considering getting hold of them and finding out if I can have tree eaters come and take 
down the cedar trees.  

I don't want to have to rebuild fence, so it would have to be done carefully. 

Oddly enough, they were doing this yesterday in the snow, and today. 

Farm dog Fritzi was always right behind me. 
Adopted in August of 2019, she settled into life out here in the country without a second thought. The best thing was, like Jester, she did not have any interest in the chickens, and I could trust her to 
go anywhere with me. 

In March, I started seeing a beautiful cat in the pasture. 

Here it is in the feral cat feeder in the pasture. 

He began coming on the deck to eat, and eventually, would let my son and me pet him. 

We called him Tanner. 

And then this came into our lives. 

This was Gemma, called that by Lucky Thirteen Rescue. 
I took her as a foster, she was sixteen, I was told. 

This is her as we drove home the first day, uncertain, wondering what was happening to her. 

It was the first day of lockdown here. 

I had several people (applicants) call about her.  One wanted to know if she could be 
left outside in a fenced yard all day long.  I wanted to ask if she would leave her ninety 
year old mother out, but I didn't.  I realized then I would not be able to let her go. 

I'm going to say this... it wasn't easy.  Snowy, as she was actually named (and I could see on her 
vet papers that were forwarded to me) had been owned by one lady her entire life.  She was 
very choosy about people. 

It took months for her to be comfortable with me. 

She took to Fritzi and Jester right away.  

In March, we also found out that Fritzi was diabetic, and subsequently, that she had Cushing's disease, and we started the twice a day schedule of vetsulin shots. 

Snowy took to life in the country like no one's business.... but she was heck to the chickens, she took down one of the big roosters and almost killed him! 

And always, my steadfast Jester. 

In April, I decided to give up the sheep.  Of all the animals we had had here 
at Calamity Acres, I really, really loved the sheep.  But, I realized it was very hard to find someone to shear only two (and worse the year before, when there was only one). 
As the young man who sheared this year worked, I asked if he would be interested in having all four free, to join his flock.  He was eighteen, he checked with his mother, 
and called me several days later to say they would take them. 

It was very hard to see them go. 

(it was also a rodeo) 

But, I was the one who lucked out. 

I agreed to loan my pasture to the Manus Family (Sam had sheared) for the summer, 
and I gained being able to watch the beautiful flock they brought over. 
In mid-summer, they switched out some of the ewes for lambs, so it was 
even more fun.  And the best thing I gained, was that the boys were available to work 
on projects here I had put off for lack of help.  Ben became my main helper in the yard, I literally don't know what I would have done without his help. He did all the weed-eating and some of the harder yard work I can no longer do. 

In May, the Baltimore Orioles visited the deck. 

And the hummers were back. 

By June, these two had become fast friends. Snowy's favorite place was on the deck or the doorstep. 
I loved seeing her there. 

Tanner, as we called him, became bold enough to come on the deck and wait for his food and pats. 

Unfortunately, about two weeks later, Troy found him dead at his pond as he mowed on the tractor.  I walked over to look... he appeared to have a wound on him... I will spare you the photos from my phone.  He was a beautiful boy. 

The deck planters were filling in nicely. 

Someone else thought so, too.  This little hen took her life into her own claws by jumping over the gate, crossing the yard, and laying in the planter daily, at risk of a Snowy Attack.  

I've been so lucky that my dogs get along with each other so well!

We saw a lot of these all summer. 

I had so much fun growing a meadow in a big laundry tub. 

And frankly, I had way too many planters on my deck, but by the end of July, they were so beautiful. 

This one in particular, the "bird nest"... filled out beautiful, though you can see the gap on the left where the hen laid. 

The sheep and big goat were always a delight to watch.  The goat (whom I called Minerva, but the boys do not name) did a great job of cleaning my fence lines.  I am going to rent a small herd of goats this spring and put them to work on the fence lines in the south part of the yard and in the pasture.  They will only be here for a week or two, they are "rent a goats". 

Very late in July, Ben worked very hard on my raised garden beds, and tilled them up. 
I planted pumpkins, summer squash and sunflowers, oh... and zinnias.  They took off. 

I got a yield of about 15 decent sized small pumpkins that I gifted and also decorated with, 
and at the end of the season they went to feed a neighbor's pigs.  

Keith built that raised garden about 12 years ago, and we liked gardening in it... but... here are the drawbacks.  The beds were put too close together, and Keith HATED weed eating, it was just about the only thing he would not do.  I struggled every year with it.  No matter how we amended the soil, the next year we were buying 20 to 30 new bags of Miracle Gro soil and manure to enhance the beds. 
It was hard, even if I pulled up to the beds themselves in the yard. 

So, I have talked it over with Ben, and I am going to pay him to remove the beds.  They do not extend 
underground, except for the posts on the corners, and they are not embedded.
It is going to be a day's hard, hard work, and the lumber must be hauled away. 

Then, I am going to have that area tilled up, and I am going to plant a larger pumpkin and a bit more squash and some other things.  I did not eat enough tomatoes this year to warrant planting as many as I used to... but I will probably put one plant in for the chickens. 

My days of planting 36 tomato plants are over, friends. 

By the third week of August, the plants along the road were showing signs of fall. 

The weather stayed dry in September.  In fact, until last week, we had had no appreciable rain since July.  My well is holding out, so far. 

This guy took to hanging around the bird feeding area. 

I noticed the lambs standing perplexed one afternoon. 

Here was the reason.  It was my first sighting of Spot. 

Spot went on to be welcomed into the house, and slept here many nights. 

On the 19th of December, he asked to go out in the morning when I got up. 
I let him out on the porch... and have never seen him again. 

Another loss.  

It took a few months, but Snowy settled in to be my farm helper, too, as Fritzi grew weaker from her Cushings and diabetes. 

We had some whopper sunrises in October. 

And some gorgeous moonrises. 

By mid-November, my heart was breaking daily.  My little Fritzi had gone blind. 
She was able to get down the east steps to the porch.... carefully.... and for some reason, usually went around the car and came up the south side steps from the patio.  I think it was muscle memory.  I 
watched her every time she went out.  She could still wander around a little in the yard, but the alarming thing was that she was shying away from her shots.  Canine diabetes insulin is given by shot, there is no pill.  This is the second dog I have had with diabetes, and I would not wish it on anyone. Before anyone comments about overweight... the vet told me the Cushings caused it. 

The shot-shying went on for two more weeks, and then we had a miserable weekend where 
she was ill, vomiting and not eating, and then went into a coma.  It was dreadful. 
I had joined an internet group for canine diabetes, but discovered they valued their 
own opinions over those of veterinarians, so took them out of my feed, but I had been 
ingrained that you do not give insulin if the dog has not eaten.  I did not give her 
a shot Saturday night, or Sunday, and I feel that I killed her.
By Monday morning when I rushed her to the vet at 7:30, she 
was recoverable... but on the bubble and completely blind, and I let her cross the bridge in my arms. 
It tore me to pieces.  I miss her every day. 

She was not a cuddly type dog that wanted to be in your lap, but one that was your shadow
and wanted always to be near you.  I listened to her get worse and worse over the months, 
and could hear her labored breathing from the floor.  I still believe I made the right decision. 

At the end of November, I found Snowy bundled down in the bed one morning.  I often let her sleep late, sometimes as long as an hour after I got up... I just went back and forth from the yard checking on her. 

Thanksgiving was very quiet here... my son works nights, so slept all day.  My oldest son spent it with his wife's family (custom)... and I had a quiet day with Jester and Snowy and Spot the cat. 

Pandemic holiday. 

I never dreamed when I took that picture that Snowy would be gone a month later. 

My happy boy helped me decorate for Christmas.  

I did not have a gathering, it was another quiet holiday. 

At Christmas, it was apparent that Snowy was continuing to grow 
sicker.  In November, her vet had felt a tumor on the top of her head above her right eye. 
He surmised that the removal of her mammary tumor in August was 
too late, and that the cancer had already spread.  She had a terrible 
grand mal seizure in bed with me one night, and after that, was 
experiencing small seizures all day on Thanksgiving. 
I filmed them, and took her to the doctor on Friday.  
He looked at them and said they were causing her pain for sure. 
We started her on Keppra three times a day, and gabapentin for 
pain he found in her back. 

We thought we had her pretty balanced, but in mid-December, she 
began to show signs of the little seizures again. 

She was very ill, vomiting and not eating at Christmas, but a 
steroid shot on the 26th and some Cerenia for the upset stomach helped for the weekend, but 
I knew the writing was on the wall, and the doctor confirmed it. 
My little doll... my snuggler in bed.... the little girl that bestowed kisses 
very sparely, so that you KNEW you were worth it.... 
left us for the Rainbow Bridge on the 28th. 

Thank God we had good weather that weekend. 

She spent hours in her favorite place, the doorstep. I left the inside door open, so I could watch her and she stayed out that weekend off and on for hours. 

With her brother, who was very attached to her. 

Under the kitchen table, waiting for a crumb to fall. 

My heart is broken for these two special little girls. Jester is lonely. 
To top it off, Spot also is gone. 

It is going to be a while before I can take another senior in. 

2020 was the year with no concerts, no travel.  I stayed pretty close to home, 
and wore a mask every where I went.  I still helped out at the Ag Hall, 
and even led tours during the summer (that's fun in a mask) for small 
family groups.  I admit to you that I am scared to death of getting Covid, because I am 
diabetic.  I try to stay healthy (I could have eaten better over the holiday, I DID bake a 
lot of cookies) and I still get exercise daily, taking care of the chickens, etc. 

I miss music, but I have sponsored musicians online during the year, and listen to lots of diverse music on the phone and computer. 

I hope we can be back in the concert halls sometime this year. 

I have friends and cousins who have recovered from Covid.... 
I pray those who have not gotten it do not, and those of you who do.... that you heal in mind and body. 

I pray daily for our world, our poor world that has been so ravaged... but... 
I also look forward to planting another garden, more flowers, maybe some new chickens, 
and the return of the flock for the summer. 

Life goes on, a little lonelier, but it goes on. 

I hope you all have a happy new year, and thanks for reading the longest blog post I have ever made!