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Friday, October 21, 2011

Technical difficulties

The radio silence has been because of rather spotty internet the last couple of weeks. But a tech is coming on Monday and I've got a minute right now to let everyone know that everyone at Arrows Flight Farm is doing well. Including the puppies!
Also contributing to my lack of posting is that all I want to post are puppy pictures and the camera is GONE. No idea what happened to it. I'm hoping we didn't lose it out somewhere and not notice (though that is entirely possible) but that it just got tossed into a box and packed up, as getting some construction done around here has inspired a fit of cleaning and sorting and we have the bad habit of leaving the camera in bags and pockets.

But the puppies are very cute, and getting big and I even bought a disposable camera so once I develop and scan them there shall be pics!!
Trapp has grown to be the biggest one. His ears are little triangles on the side of his face, which wrinkles expressively, and his coat is short and velvety. He and Judd are both longer then tall.
Judd is getting an appealingly houndy cast to his features. He has this serious little face which totally belies his character. He is an active, playful little clown.
Kimon is very square. He has a square little face and a square little body and is tiny and very sweet. Trapp already has a home that I think he will be VERY well suited to, and I would love to find a family for Judd and a single person or perhaps a couple for Kimon, as Judd needs a family to rule and Kimon needs someone to be just his.

In other news, we sold Trouble, the buckling. We are happy for him because he is going to be someone's herd buck/pet, and the folks who got him are very goat knowledgeable. But we do miss him, and we're pretty sad for Honeysuckle. His mother isn't upset that he's gone, but we didn't think that poor Honeysuckle would grieve so and it gives me a pang in my heart every time I notice her looking off for him.

It's been getting cold here, the last couple of nights were below freezing, so we made arrangements for this weekend to get our woodstove hooked up and our pig butchered. So naturally, this weekends forecast is in the 70s. Yay timing!
On the one hand, this kind of fall weather is very nice, on the other, the Northener in me rebels against having to worry it may be kind of warm to butcher a pig the third week of October

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Three days in one!

I know. Tomorrow passed without puppy pictures.
To make up for the Nearly Unforgivable Sin of late puppy picture posting, today you are getting 3 days worth of posts in one.

Because it's been an interesting couple of days.
And for blog reading sanity, I put them where they should have gone, because it seems as if it would make more sense that way.

Last night's adventure.

We have a kinda movable pig pen.
We have 4, 16 foot cattle panels, firmly fastened at the corners to make a square. We anchor it down with Tposts and have a tarp semi-permanently and firmly rigged over and down a corner for shade and rain protection.

This is adequate, as the pigs will be at Camp Kenmore before they need anything more substantial, like protection from cold.

But it would be pretty durn small and muddy and dirty and gross if it always stayed where it was. So every day or two we yank Tposts, move it over and anchor it down again. The pigs greet the move with great delight and much rooting, even though they just got the old spot comfy when we move it.

This is a pretty easy job for two people, but varies from deserving a cold ice tea after to needing a far stiffer beverage when done alone. So unless they have really ripped up their old spot and need moving now, I wait and do it with Handsome.
  This has an added benefit. Handsome is bigger and stronger then I, so he pounds the Tposts back in. Which is great, because it really is a lot easier for him then for me. I am, uh, vertically challenged so I can't even lift the Tpost driver up and over the top of the Tpost. My arms don't reach. I have to lean it over, slide it on, then straighten it up, but can usually get the driver off without having to step on a handy rock once the Tpost is in the ground.
  It is an especially chivalrous gesture because Handsome hates driving Tposts.

This hatred is why he was rushing last night. He was lifting the driver up very high and slamming it down really hard when he lifted it a little too high and instead of slamming down over the top of the post, the edge of the driver caught the lip, flipping it - with the full force he was putting behind it- down on top of his head.
  I was turned away to get him the next Tpost when I heard a thud, curse and crash and turned to see him staggered so hard I still can't believe he kept his feet. I helped him inside where he was ready to sit down and rest it off. But men don't get that luxury with a woman around so soon the EMTs were here.
  Handsome didn't fully split his scalp, but he did bloody it up pretty good. The EMTs weren't worried enough to just pick him up and throw him in the ambulance, so I let him stay home. But that meant both of us staying up For the next 12 hours (all night), him in case of concussion and me to watch him, catch any slurring or anything and drive him to the hospital if he took a turn for the worse.

He didn't. Handsome is fine, besides a very sore and bloody scalp and a 6 inch long knot on his head. It looks like someone tall took a baseball bat and swung it straight down on him. I did manage a couple of hours sleep and he's sleeping it off right now.

I think I've had all the interesting I want for the rest of the week. Bring on the boring!

I must have a sign

Because look what came running up to me, crying And just where have you been???, as I unloaded everything from the car after the massive, all day event that was taking Spud to his developmental assessment.
  Which brought the very good news, btw, that while he is behind, he is not on the autistic scale. Yay! Behind - that's nothing. This kid is already 7 different miracles for being born 3 months early (and every time you read that, please think about it just for a second. Three months early. That's 6 months pregnant. That's "Is she pregnant or just getting fat?") Compared with all the problems we could have been facing, behind is nothing.

Anyhoo, my brand new long lost friend,
Isn't she pretty? She's between 3 and 4 months old and I've no idea where she came from. None at all. Punkin is calling her Natasha. Like many strays, she goes cross-eyed with purriness if you so much as look at her.
In honour of yet another foundling, one of my favorite poems. This poem is commonly found on the internet as "To Love Again" and attributed to Anonymous. And, for some reason, he is changed to a she. But here is the original, unglamorous title, substantial author and everything.

STRAY CAT 
by Francis Witham 
Oh, what unhappy twist of fate
Has brought you homeless to my gate?
The gate where once another stood
To beg for shelter, warmth, and food

For from that day I ceased to be
The master of my destiny.
While he, with purr and velvet paw
Became within my house the law.

He scratched the furniture, and shed
And claimed the middle of my bed.
He ruled in arrogance and pride
And broke my heart the day he died.

So if you really think, oh Cat,
I'd willingly relive all that
Because you come forlorn and thin
Well...don't just stand there...Come on in!

Yeah. 
My sign says Welcome.

Puppy Pictures!

With their eyes open, the puppies look much more like puppies, and less like fat little sausages.
Kimon
It's not just the eyes. They have reached the Week of Great Change. over the next seven days they will change more then at any other time of their lives. It's pretty amazing. It also marks The End of Life As I Know It for me for the next few weeks. By the end of the week, I'll have had to overhaul my living room to give them Spud's old play yard and will have started feeding them solid food. Most of which they will wear and I will do roughly my body weight in laundry every day.
Trapp
Some little things that I have wondered about are resolving themselves. Judd has definitely got some shading in his coat. He may be a dark sable, or even fade quite a bit, like some German Shepherd pups do. Kimon will definitely be the smallest, Judd the biggest.
But many, many more things just become greater mysteries. The shape of their faces change by the day. Just how much will they change? The father could be anything, or 3 different anythings. Hopefully none of them have inherited Katie's bite. Poor girl. If her adoptive owners don't feed her right, she could easily become one of those 5 year old dogs already losing teeth.
Judd
However they turn out, some things are certain. They are wicked cute, and we are happy to have them here and safe with us. The lady who has spoken for Trapp is a great person. Kind, caring, responsible, big-hearted and fun. Now to find people as good for the rest of them, and work to make sure the pups will be great pets for them.

Did I mention wicked cute? Look at this!
I can walk, kinda

Monday, September 19, 2011

They can see me!

At least, Judd and the re-named - and spoken for !!! WOOT!!- Trapp, formerly Sandy, can SEE us out of their brand-new-to-the-world eyes!
Doubtless little Kimon will be joining them by morning. I'm sure that little fellow won't be left behind for long in anything.

I'll have to get photographic proof in the morning as well. We are all wasted. We spent the day driving 2 1/2 hours to have little Spud evaluated by an developmental expert and he is NOT autistic!! She said from what she can tell the early intervention work we did with him brought him from borderline to not even on the charts. WOOT Again!!!!!
There are still more questions to be asked and answered and speech therapy may be in his future but as of now we are very relieved. If insanely exhausted.
Except for Spud himself, who's day consisted of a meal, a bath, a really long nap in the car, another meal and a long play session with a Very Nice Lady, followed by another long nap in the car and then a meal. That boy is raring to go!
And I am still up.
At midnight.


This is not as fun as it was when I was a teen

Friday, September 16, 2011

Puppy Update

 Up until now, there hasn't been a lot of puppy updates. Not that there hasn't been anything going on, just that unless I pose the little squiggle worms next to a ruler, it's hard to tell they are bigger, fatter sausages then they were before. See?


Fat little puppy sausages. 

But 9 days do make a difference. Especially to these guys. It seems like once they were no longer crammed inside Katie they could finally GROW. And grow they have. Picture of little newborns;

Compare that to a picture from last night;

Holy Exploding Growth of Puppies Batman!!!

They eat and sleep and grow and Grow and GROW.
   Katie has all the food she can eat. She has a bowl always down for her of the best kibble I could find, liberally supplemented with fresh goat's milk, eggs and raw meat. She isn't gaining weight, but she isn't losing any either, which is a win as far as I'm concerned. I mean, just look at the mass of the puppies this poor girl is feeding.

  Katie's getting less and less impressed with them.She doesn't neglect them, but she is less then thrilled with the whole mothering thing. She feeds and cleans them, then jumps up on the bed or goes out to the living room. She doesn't want any other critters in the bedroom and has to supervise any time a puppy is being handled. She worries and licks him and jumps in to check on him when you put one down - then jumps right back out again.

Here they are, from left to right, Kimon, Sandy, Judd.
Wait, Sandy's buried. Let's try that again;
There we are, one second later Sandy has bulled his way under Kimon and semi-flattened Judd.
This is a more typical pose for them.

And they're off! 
They can't see yet, and barely hear much but by Jove no self-respecting puppy is going to just stay still and make picture taking easy!

  An advantage I've found to the BioSensor work is that because you are handling the puppies in such a stylized fashion, it really shows you the developing personalities. Sandy protests. He wiggles and squirms and wants to know why someone isn't feeding him Right Now. If there isn't food involved there is no reason to stand for this! Even snuggling him is going from snuggling a sleeping puppy to trying to snuggle a squeaking, nuzzling puppy who is squirming everywhere looking for a teat. I am forever rescuing his brothers from being sucked on.

Kimon is active and alert. At least, as alert as a blind, deaf, semi-mobile slug can be. I'm certain that he is going to find the world an increasingly interesting place. He gets a little wiggly when you first pick him up, then settles right down and relaxes. Snuggling Kimon is picking up an awake puppy who quickly falls asleep on you.

Judd is just mellow. Nothing really bothers him. He's the least vocal of all the pups. He twitches healthily in his sleep, nurses actively, seems to enjoy being handled, so I doubt his mellowness is a sign of anything wrong, he's just pretty ok with the world and everything that is happening.

  Yesterday they got baths. It is wickedly young and I don't recommend it, but they are a little young for Frontline and I can't treat our whole acreage, and it would seem every flea that we drag in on a pants leg finds the puppies and Frontline on Katie is not enough.
  I filled a deep bowl with warm sudsy water and one by one held each puppy in it, well supported. They got to soak in it for a few minutes to stun the fleas, then had warm water gently poured over them while I rubbed to rinse the suds and stunned fleas off.
  Sandy didn't mind the soaking part. The water was a little warmer then body temp so he may not have even realized he was wet. I rubbed him gently all over and he enjoyed that. But when I held him up to rinse that meant moving his body around in all different ways and there was much wiggling and woe-is-me until he was wrapped in a towel, sucking on Punkin's finger.
  Kimon was the most difficult. He started to snuffle - something smelt different and he needed to find out what! He wiggled and tried to drown himself until he managed to find a bit of suds on my hand. He sucked it off and then fell asleep. Rinsing was fascinating and ...zzzzzz.
  Judd settled his little head on my hand and konked out. He woke up when I went to rinse him and konked out again when the water started to pour over him. He did not like the toweling. How can a fellow sleep with people rubbing him like that? He was almost offended by the time I was done and handed him back to his mother.
  A full belly cures all ills though.

Dog Breeders

  A good friend of mine recently had some tragedy. It would seem that someone came and stole her two younger dogs. As best we can tell, the oldest dog followed the thief and her friends out to the road where she was struck and killed by a car. There had been rash of local dog thefts in her area and as there are very, very few reason for scum to start stealing a bunch of dogs, it makes it all the more heartbreaking knowing the probable fate of the young dogs.

  What does this have to do with breeders? Right, I'm getting to that part.

  My friend has children who are likewise heartbroken. This family needs a dog. My friend would like to get a Lab puppy. They've always had mutts or rescues, but since she wants a pup, this time she'd like to know just what the pup will grow into, which is a reasonable enough desire.
  Me, being me, and understanding fully how truly, massivly horrible it is to have a dog crippled by genetic ailments, cautioned her to find a good breeder, as in our area puppy mills are rampant and the last thing these people need is even more heartache in the form of dysplasia, retinal atrophy or horrible skin conditions. They just need a healthy dog.
  She asked me if I could help her find a good breeder and I said of course I would, and started to look.

  And then I stopped

  I thought about the times I had gone breeder shopping for myself. I have owned exactly one purebred dog in my life. We call Scooter, Scooter Beagle, but it's an honorific. He may in fact be part basset or walker, there are a lot of ifs and maybe's in his largely unplanned pedigree.
  Our only purebred was Marley Golden. He was born to a puppy mill, was still unsold at 9 weeks and therefore tossed into a car trade-in to sweeten the deal, the car folks kept him for 7 months and then I got him off Freecycle. I adored Marley more then I can express, and still cry over his untimely loss. At the same time I can't help but think perhaps in the long run it may have been for the best. If he had lived to middle age he would have been in a lot of pain from his many ailments. As dearly as I loved him, I would never have paid any money for the horrible, horrible job his breeder did, condemning him to such a defective body.

  It's not that I wouldn't LOVE to own a wellbred dog. Because I would. I really, really would. Long ago, I wanted an Australian Shepherd, and was about as perfect a home for an Aussie as a person could be without owning sheep. I found a good breeder and told her I was happy to have her pick out the pup she thought would be the best fit, with one caveat - not a black male. I really wanted a female and - in spite of two of the Great Loves of My Life, Deacon and Thunder, being predominantly black - I've never found black dogs all that attractive. I'd take a black female if that was the only way I could get my girl, but if I was settling for a male pup I would need a stunningly beautiful one, like a red tri. The breeder said that she understood and then got very hard to get a hold of until one time I called and actually got her on the phone and she said she had a black male for me, he was 6 weeks old and I could come pick him up in just a couple more weeks. So sorry but all the females were spoken for and all the males were black and what did I mean I wanted to wait for a different litter??? She had reserved a pup for me! Fine, she would call when she was planning another litter.
  I'm still waiting on that phone call.
  The next breeder also said she was fine with me not wanting a black male - a female of any color, a male of any color but black but not a black male - right until she wanted to sell me one. She had also pretty much vanished from "I'm planning a breeding and I'll reserve you a spot" until "The pups are 7 weeks old and you're getting this one."  It would seem that a black male was the only pup that would possibly fit in my situation. And when I asked to wait for another litter I got reamed. Not a little, but a LOT. She ended with telling me that anyone as shallow and shortsighted as I was totally unfit for dog ownership.

  After that I adopted Thunder from Animal Control and gave up for a few years. The internet exploded and prospective dog ownership got a little crazy - well-meaning crazy, but crazy none the less. Over a few years I had called and emailed a few people with different breeds. Several of whom told me over the phone that they'd be happy to call me when they were planning their next litter. But apparently breeders don't breed much because not one ever called.
  And then there was a truly lovely gentleman who not only answered his phone but returned emails AND kept in touch (oh miracle of miracles!) and who's bitch reabsorbed the litter, to great dissappointement. He didn't want to try breeding her again soon and his other bitch was already planning a co-owned litter and there likely wouldn't be any females available. Before I could get a pup from him his amazing old stud dog died and he quit breeding.
  Then a few more years where I didn't try at all, followed by several phone calls with a highly recomended kennel who was never heard from again after I told them I didn't want to send a deposit before seeing pictures of the parents (apparently I was supposed to buy on reputation only). Then the fellow who told me that he would love to see one of his pups pass a herding test, only to say on a message board that it was totally ridiculous for dogs of his breed to herd, that anyone who said that historically this breed had, was a poor researcher who knew nothing of foundation bloodlines and anyone who herded with this breed had mutts.

  I had already saved up all the money for a puppy. This is not a small amount. It is the equivalant of 2 mortgage payments and more then my car and a year and a half of saving.

  Back to the shop for a breed/breeder drawing board. And lo and behold, there was a good breeder with a wonderful breeding already done. So I filled out the very long, hours to fill out application ... and our insurance settlement actually, finally came. Which is beyond belief. And makes the really stupid, omg-do-you-realize-that-is-TWO-mortgage-payments-and-you're-poor-how-could-you-spend-that-on-a-puppy (you could get a new car) thing even stupider, because I could finish my house if I added what I had saved to the insurance money.
  But I sent in the application anyway, with a note on it to please hold onto it for a future litter, or perhaps even pass it on to someone else who might be having a litter next year, because I can save again - as I say in the garden, there's always next year. And I really would love to have a beautiful, healthy, well-bred dog.

  I never heard back. 
  And then I found Smiley and Katie.

  But what do I tell my friend? That is my 15 years worth of trying to get a decently bred, healthy puppy from a "good" breeder. Do I look for someone who health-tests and plans for her? Or do I tell her to take her chances on Craigslist? After I sat and thought about it, I just dont know

Sunday, September 11, 2011

No mixed feeling here

Spaying is a serious thing.
I feel it is one of those things that emphasizes the God-like control we have over our animals and that while it very often needs to be done, it should be done with thoughtfulness and respect for that.
There have been times that I regretted the necessity. My long gone, but never forgotten cat, Kismet, was one. She was the Gaia of cats. She had 2 litters, unplanned by me, and adored every second of being a mother. She loved her kittens, so much so that I never separated her from them and just kept them all (thankfully small litters). I still have 2, now 11 and 12 years old and another 12 yo cat that Kismet the Beautiful fostered. Until cancer took her, her babies were her babies, 7 years old and bigger then her though they were.

There will be none of those feeling with Katie.
If Katie and I could talk about such things, she would be incredulous and delighted that such an operation exists and demand to know why someone hadn't told her about it sooner.

Don't get me wrong, she loves her babies and takes excellent care of them. But they're just so .. so needy. And there are so many things to do now that the weather is so nice and she's lost that bowling-ball-on-legs kinda feeling. But no, the babies need her. They're sweet, she would say, and she loves them a lot, but can't we hire a sitter? Don't you understand these creatures get up every couple of hours All Night Long??

If she could understand, Katie would be thrilled.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

All growing!

And growing quickly too!
These puppies are HUGE and fat and compact and squiggly. You pick them up with an "Oooph! Where did THAT come from?" kind of sensation because they are surprisingly heavy, like picking up lead.

We started Bio Sensor conditioning yesterday. These are my very first puppies ever and I want to give them a good start, and if it does half what it's supposed to do, it's a wonderful thing.
And if it does nothing at all...eh, so what? It takes about a minute to do all three of them.

It's actually a big landmark because I allowed very, very little handling of the puppies for the first 2 days. I had no idea what kind of mother Katie would be. Motherhood changes us all, and she's not our dog, we've known her for just a couple of weeks, it would be totally understandable if she was freaked by us near her puppies.
But she's not. She is very attentive to them and very, very trusting of us. If we bring the babies up on the bed for a snuggle, she gets up there and snuggles too, with a relaxed happy wag.

It is lovely to see that tail start to say so much.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The puppies are here!

There are three of them and despite anything said to the contrary, they are all boys.
I had proudly announced 2 boys and a girl earlier. When I finally allowed Punkin to do more then stare from across the room, she asked "Which one is the girl?"
"One of the black and tans."
She turned one over. Nope, boy. She put it down and Katie instantly nosed it back into the pile. Katie wasn't at all upset. She is just very clear on one thing; puppies go in a pile, she might be unsure about a lot of this motherhood business, but puppies definitely, definitely go in a pile.
Carefully Punking put a finger into that pile and nudged a black and tan puppy over. Boy.
Must be the same one.
Keeping a finger on that one she nudged over the other one.
Boy.
"Mom!"

Kids are insufferable when they catch you in a mistake. All I can say is that there was a lot of stress and worry over this, because poor Katie started this out with one ginourmous stillborn puppy and then quickly had a second, far smaller one before I could fully freak out and rush her to the vet. So there was much stress, no sleep and many dirty towels and Judy is, in fact, Judd. Proper sexing was not high on my worry chart.
Around here, everything gets a birth name and anything that is staying gets a real, actual name later on. Sometimes not late enough. Deacon wasn't born here, so I trained him to his name right away. If I'd waited till he was 10 weeks like I do with kittens and anything else born on the place, we'd have called him something along the lines of Jester, or just plain Fool.

But I digress! Faithful readers know I'm prone to that when I'm sleep deprived (I'd tell you how few hours I've slept out of the past 48, but the math just seems too difficult right now. Shut up - counting is math, they said so in kindergarten)

Anyhow, while they are here the puppies are named after their sponsors. The black and tan with the darker face is Kimon, the more-tan one is Judd, the brown one is Sandy.




There are no new pictures of Katie by herself yet. She's barely left the puppies, and when she does, she looks just awful. Not just see-how-YOU-look-after-quads bad, but crud-how-long-were-you-a-stray??  kind of bad. Without a huge, massive weight of puppies inside her, you can really see how skinny she is. On the bright side, I don't know if it's physical relief or if she really trusts me now after I helped her through this but HER TAIL IS UP!!! For the whole time she's been here, we've seen her tail in flickers. She's wagged it, but little anxious wags, not big happy ones. Today, not all the time, but more then once, her tail has been up in big, happy wags and the trotting tail-up of a happy dog.
YAY!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Pictures

Smiley is filling out into a rather handsome fellow.








But poor little Katie is just filling out;




I am off to make her some scrambled eggs to help fatten her, because poor thing is all puppies. With all that belly it is still far to easy to feel her ribs and spine. It seems like every bite of food she takes goes right to growing puppy. But eggs - with the ground up shell included - are nutrient dense, easy to digest and will give her lots of calcium.

And then I get to take her temperature. She is not thrilled about this. But it is an excellent early alarm for knowing when the puppies are coming.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Having rescue dogs

  Is stressful and tiring and wonderful.


  It is 1:21 in the morning. Spud has a cold, as do the rest of us. When he napped I collapsed next to him, and Handsome, no doubt thinking he was being kind - and could have the computer all to himself for TV watching - let us both sleep till we woke up naturally, at 7:30 pm. 
  So Spud will sleep again never. But at least he gets relatively happy and mellow after midnight, letting me surf the internet and contemplate life as he plays in what is apparently the Very Best Thing Momma Ever Bought Just For Him; Katie's new crate. It has a door that opens and shuts and he can go in and go out and Momma made it all nice with a sheet over the top and a soft towel inside and it is The Bestest.
  Katie likes it too.
  She had her supper in it even, but is now about ready to rejoin Smiley on Punkin's bed.
  Which brings me back to dogs.

  My own dogs are currently outside, lounging around the front yard, ready to chase off errant raccoons and Things That Go Bump and having a blast being night guards. They love when I stay up. Smiley and Katie, after having been the Things That Go Bump and have now landed someplace cushy, were both cuddling with Punkin on her bed, where they all three crashed after nightly reading.
  Punkin loves this arrangement. Scooter cuddles in a very uncomfortable fashion. He gets right up next to you and lies down, then presses his feet into you, and preferably braces his back against something else, assumes rigor mortis, sighs in contentment and drifts off to sleep. Deacon is a very satisfactory, if wiggly, cuddler, but divides his time between us, with myself getting the majority of his attention.
 
  I was distracted from reading my new favorite blog by the unfamiliar sound of dog tags jingling in Punkin's room and simultaneously the distinctive voices of my 2 dogs in the front yard.
  And I wondered if I had fed the dogs. Crud. Perhaps I just didn't remember through the fog of weird sleep, cranky kids and cold medicine, or perhaps I actually hadn't. So to be on the safe side I decided on pork neckbones all around. So I went into the bedroom and was greeted by sleepy wiggles and Katie coming out from under the covers and Smiley all Norman Rockwellesque at the foot of the bed. I had one of those warm fuzzy moments. I got down on the bed and snuggled them and then they followed me out and I fed them raw meat from my hands, which from the start they have taken very politely and eaten nicely. Well, Katie tends to bolt it just a little. Then I went to the front door where my two were already waiting and they got to eat theirs outside.
 
  I do separate at meal times. There's no reason not to when it just makes it less stress for everyone, as dogs are like children in that food can be a major power issue for them. Katie is actually a rare dog in that her food issues are about food, as in, she's not sure that there will ever be more and it makes her a little nervous. I am very sympathetic to that and feed her small meals and snacks several times throughout the day and one of those meals is one that she gets to really fill her stomach for not only that not empty feeling but all the way to the full and sleepy stage. Which is a good idea anyway as she is very small and very pregnant.
  I am less sympathetic about the food-as-a-control-issue, with both dogs and children actually. Deacon is very easy going about food (lol, now, when he came he was a little shark) but Scooter can be a dink. He doesn't want the other dog's food, he just doesn't want them to have it. Even in a crate he will do his best to Evil-Eye the other dog and ignore his own food to snarl until I say Ahem and then he says What? Me? I was just.. uh .. clearing my throat and polishes his halo for a week or month until he thinks I might not be looking. > An interesting thing, should the other dog actually be nervous about food itself, like Katie, he will leave them alone. He doesn't want a Leave my food alone reaction, he's looking for You said WHAT?? He doesn't want food or even dominance most of the time, just devilment.
  He tried it on Smiley at the water dish from across the room, and Smiley came across the room and chest slammed him and they said vile things to each other for a minute and then Smiley went and had his drink and grumbled under his breath. Scooter sat back up and looked around the room to see if anyone else had seen that and then went and pretended he'd been sleeping the whole time.
  Smiley is a little uneasy because he's not sure if dishes are supposed to belong to him. He's pretty sure that if they do then others shouldn't be using them. The only part he's certain of is that upstart beagles aren't allowed to say rude things to him from across the room, and I concur. But he is learning that dishes don't belong to him, only me and I put nice things in them regularly, so that's ok. From the first he's been wonderful with people and food. But he does think it's pretty low class that I let cats drink out of the same water bowl and whines and worries about it.

  It's so fascinating and just great to see all these little facets of their personalities come to light. He's started doing this little bouncy dance when he's happy which I MUST get a video of (and I know I promised a new picture, I can only plead snotty congested children on that) because it is seriously make-you-smile kind of awesome.

There is someone interested in Smiley. Which makes me happy and sad and excited and nervous all at the same time. There's more talking to do before I can decide if it is a good fit for everyone, but I'm hopeful.
  It's a little nerve-wracking because you can have a Very Nice Person and a Very Nice Dog and still have them be not right for each other, just like there are plenty of perfectly lovely people you couldn't marry and be happy.
  I'll be keeping my fingers crossed for a good fit, and I'll let you all know how it turns out.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

It is Official

  Smiley is all vetted up and ready for a new home. He is very handsome in his new leather collar and I promise more pictures of him when I am not totally wasted from the fair. Ah, the county fair, landmark of the year of 4H mothers everywhere.
  As in, "If I live through this year's fair I'll ..."

  Spud decided to not sleep last night.
  Which meant that I could not sleep last night.
  This was after a delightful day yesterday of loading 2 out of 4 pigs - and not just any two, not the first 2 in there, no, two specific pigs - into a horse trailer. Guess which two loved the trailer and jumped right in, and which two thought it was a Place of Great Evil and, upon finally entering, leapt back out the little window in the rear door?
  I was impressed, it was a good 3 1/2 feet. But it did not make the day go more smoothly.

  And also chasing chickens, most of whom were easy enough to catch, we scattered food and picked them up. One rooster went renegade, and I was not leaving without him.Finally after an hour a good, long-suffering friend and I walked him down. Lucky for him as I was ready to catch him with the .22. This rooster is exceptionally handsome but has always been the wild child of the bunch, roosting in trees and encouraging others in bad habits. As beautiful as he is, the farm will run more smoothly without him.

  That was my day yesterday, and today, after a long night of not sleeping, Spud is refusing to nap. Being overtired like this makes him clingy. Like 21 pounds of upset octopus. And I really, really need him to nap. In ONE hour, I have to be ready to leave, to pick Handsome up at work and meet Punkin at the fair, where she is helping a friend show goats. And I can't find her show shirt or one boot, I haven't showered in Oh-God-it-can't-really-have-been-that-long, having a baked ziti ready to just re-heat for dinner doesn't look like it's happening and I KNOW there is something else important that I am not remembering because I am a sleep-deprived zombie and this has turned into one of those long endless rambling blog posts when it was supposed to be a quick blip about Smiley.
  Who I'll get new pictures of.
  Tomorrow.

  In the meantime, enjoy this book reading by Samuel L. Jackson. I love his voice.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5UizZB7dMI

Monday, August 22, 2011

Goodbye boys.

  Is what Smiley is saying today, because tomorrow his "boys" are leaving.

  The vet is seeing us first thing in the morning, and Smiley gets to spend the day and be made eligible to go on petfinder. Katie is getting a check-up and shots and we may take an xray to get a guess on how many puppies are in there and we're going to have a nice long talk about care of her from now till The Big Day, and just how The Big Day should go.
  We'll probably try to schedule a c-section with me ready to take her temperature constantly to see if I need to rush her in before the appt.

  I'm really excited for Smiley. This is a big step towards getting him placed. I can not emphasize enough what a good dog he is. I'm not looking to place him so fast because I don't like him - because I like him a LOT. But bringing an older, larger, intact male into the home of 2 other intact males, while not impossible, does have it's tense moments. Smiley is an amazing dog and there have been no real issues, which is a testament to what a cool guy he is.
  But it makes Handsome and Punkin tense. They are not entirely settled to the idea that sometimes dogs have loud conversations just like people can, but dogs converse with their bodies and it can be dramatic to watch. Not that there's been any fighting, just some loud voices and hip checks and posturing. But I have to throw the people out of the room so the dogs get a chance to finish their conversation.
  Because the worst thing you can do is interrupt them. If there's no blood (and besides body checks no one even touched) let them have it out. For the non-doggy people, imagine it like this, you're minding your own, and someone comes and does something rude or inconsiderate. Like say cutting in line.
 You get as far as "Hey nimrod! I'm standing here, what are you cutting in line for?!" when someone grabs you and drags you off, or worse, grabs both of you and makes you sit down next to each other and "be friends" and punishes you for speaking.
  Next time you see that person, the first thing you're going to think is "That's the JERK who cut in line and then got me in trouble!"

  You never got to get to the part of the conversation that follows;  "Hey nimrod! I'm standing here, what are you cutting in line for?!"
  "Easy buddy, I didn't see you there, ease up a little, will you"
  "I really hate when people cut me"
  "Well just go ahead, it's no big deal, ok."
  When you get to finish the conversation, you may not be all buddy-buddy with the person, but you're not going to want to punch him in the nose.

  Currently, I need to explain this to the humans of the household 3 times a day, minimum, and they get all tense when all the dogs are together, making the dogs get tense and wonder what's up. Or keep the dogs separate. Getting a crate for the humans is sadly not a viable option.

It's a lot for me to deal with, on top of the fact that Katie is going to be here for so long and there's going to be some unexpected re-arranging of the household around her. So getting Smiley some people is top priority.

And Smiley really deserves a kid or three of his very own.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Someone called

The dogs have been here 3 days now, and I put up non-descriptive ads saying "Call to Describe" and today someone did.

  They are not her dogs.
  But, even though I didn't describe these except to say, no, one is a male and the female is black, she said that she thinks she knows who's dogs they are based on where they were. Apparently there is a fellow who leaves his dogs all over town and picks them back up should the find his car.
  When she said she'd give the fellow my number, but didn't think he'd call, I told her to not worry, if he didn't call (and from the sounds of it I'm hoping he wont) that they were being well cared for here, had a vet appt already made and I'd keep them until they found good homes.
  She sounded very relieved.
  Should a fellow call with the kind of attitude she describes, I'll tell him that he can pick them up at the vet and the bill is his along with the dogs.

  Not that I'd try to keep them from their rightful owners, but the rescue network DID get me a vet appt for next week, which I DO have to pay for (and thanks SO MUCH for the donations) and if a vet bill is enough to make the owner re-dump I'm fine with that. I don't want these guys back where they'll be in danger and the little one - I think we've settled on calling her Katie - is going to be an expensive dog in the near future.

I'll keep you posted.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

This blog has gone to the dogs!

And so has my house and for a while, my life.
Because I found THIS;
 
Notice how dark she is? This picture doesn't show how tiny she is. I almost hit her with my car. After parking, I went to go explain to her that wandering in the middle of the road at night is a bad idea, especially for one of her stature and complexion. I got down on one knee and out of the bushes came THIS;

That is some kind of smile right there. Notice the tail is a total blur.
This isn't actually as big as that first smile. The first one was a big old Koolaid grin that showed every tooth in his head.

  A lot of people see that and think that the dog is snarling or showing teeth - showing aggression. Actually, nothing can be further from the truth. Only the sweetest of dogs will try to give you a human-type smile

But anyway, whenever I try to catch a picture of that huge Koolaid smile, it is accompanied by a rush and full body wiggle. So I either get a total blur on the camera or else this;

That's a happy dog.
We're calling him Smiley while he's here. He is going to make some family very happy, and it is my job to find that family for him.
He seems about 3 - 4 years old, he walks nicely on a leash, is good with cats, chickens goats and ADORES children. He is very slow and careful around little Spud and is delighted when Spud wants to hold his leash. Smiley sidles gently up next to him and holds very still for a hug. This is a sweet dog.
  I hope to find him a home soon, so spread the word that a Very Good Dog needs to find his people.

  The little one, who is as-yet unnamed (I usually call her "What a good girl!" because it spontaneously bursts from my mouth every time I look at her), will be staying here for a while. Long enough to have her puppies.
Yes, I said puppies.
I am mildly terrified at the prospect.
I've raised babies of many kinds, but I've never cared for a pre-natal dog before. And she is so little. With not knowing who the father is, and a good chance he's bigger then her, maybe by a lot, and maybe even Smiley, she is going to need a C-section. I've got a lead on a vet experienced with small dog c-sections and we'll be interviewing vets on Monday. I'd have done it sooner but the weekends here the streets roll up.

  Anyway, see the puppy bulge?
You can see it better here, and her sweet face

   And then, a WONDERFUL person suggested setting up a paypal account for donations to help cover the vet bills for these guys. AND this Very, Very good person made a donation.
If you would like to make a donation too, the paypal address is ArrowsFlightFarm@hotmail.com
This was set up just for these dogs and everything will go directly to them. Which is beyond wonderful, because caring for these guys means not installing plumbing.

But look at these sweet dogs, now safe and happy. Way better then a kitchen sink any day.



If you think you'll be a good home for Smiley, please get in touch with me.
He will be neutered, wormed, Frontlined and have his shots. He'll come with a leash and collar and rabies tag. He is very well mannered and we'll be working on basic obedience until he has a new home, and then I'll pass on a (very used) copy of my favorite dog training book.
There will be a small-as-possible adoption fee to help pay for his vetting. And I will expect you to ALWAYS call me first about ANY issue with him, even at midnight, or on a holiday, or if you're embarrassed about it - just call, I'm a nice person -  and if ever you can't keep him, he has a home here.

The kittens Now

Couldn't you just die of the cute?
They are actually way cuter then this. But all I have is an El Cheapo, Kmart special camera, no photo editing software, and sadly, not as much skill as I would like.

But they still call for another picture
 This one says,
But I am the cutest
She is very firmly of this opinion

Back from Hiatus

Summer here, kills me. I lie down and die, only to resurrect after we've had several days where it ONLY reaches the high 80s. I am not meant for heat.

  Also, Handsome and I were having one of those rough patches. Every marriage has them. Ours goes like this; Handsome is lazy, and more and more of everything devolves onto me. I, for screwed up reasons of my own that make me feel responsible for everything and guilty about the man washing his own underwear, LET everything devolve onto me, instead of just pointing it out when it starts.
  This goes on until I am drowning under a sea of everything and explode like Screaming Banshee from Hades and Handsome awakens from Blissful Oblivion and realizes there is no Clean Underwear Fairy who waves a magic wand and makes it appear all nice and folded.
  I have another fit to get the point across that just wearing the same ones till they fall off is NOT the answer, and that there are also no Cooked Dinner, Clean Children, Washed Dishes, Car Fixing, or Floor Mopping Fairies either, Handsome starts to take up the slack, and I can breathe again.

  We are working hard at not having this cycle renew.
But I didn't want to blog about it, and couldn't think of anything else to talk about.

  But, in the words of the wise; This too, shall pass.
  The weather breaks, the husband gets therapy, the wife introspects and finally, I start writing again. First long awaited return emails, then on my book and some essays, and finally, the blog.

During the Hiatus, plenty happened. I don't think it rained between my last post and a week ago. I know that we got 6 solid weeks of temps between 98 and 112 with barely a sprinkle. Despite watering, my comfrey and the young apple tree died.
  But not all news is bad news! From one month ago this week - the week in pictures;
Monday





Tuesday



Wednesday



He's so cute he needs another picture



Thursday



And these weren't born on Friday, but that's when they made their appearance




It was a heck of a week. Babies EVERYWHERE. The excitement wore off on Friday night when I realized there were no more critters that could conceivably pop out a baby. No more critters. I twitched a little every time the phone rang on Saturday, but apparently the tidal wave of babies had reached it's end.



Friday, May 27, 2011

The inmates are running the asylum today

Ahhhh, we've all had one of those days, haven't we?
Yup, just one of those days.

But when you've got a little farm going, having "one of those days" is a whole new experience.

  It started normally enough. Handsome goes to bed early and I take the night shift, do the last check, shut down the house, stay up with our nocturnal Spud if he needs it. So while he gets up nice and early, I sleep in till 8. Sometimes even 8:30. Very late, I know.
  This morning, just as I was opening my eyes, there was a horrible chicken-shriek in the back of the house that launched me out of bed like being shot from a cannon. One of our hens is missing, I was hoping that she went broody - though if she has she's probably drowned by now with the weather we've been having. No, I'm serious. But if another is gone then it's a fox or a coon, and possibly rabid if it's that close to the house in broad daylight!
  I go dashing out in a flannel shirt, ahem, only a flannel shirt, to find nothing. Absolutely nothing. The birds look at me as if I'm insane. I consider the fact that I may be insane, standing in my backyard in a flannel shirt holding a stick.

  As I ponder this, the pigs come up to say hello. Because they have broken out of their pen. They have been practicing beating up the gate, so I go down to assess the damage. Only to find, once again, nothing. The gate is in one piece and latched shut, the electric wire is functioning well, the wire mesh fence behind it is in perfect shape. Perhaps they used The Force to lift each other up and over. No treats are coming, so they happily grunt off to root up some poison ivy and I am glad to leave them to it. I want coffee and pants.

  I see that I have missed a call from one of Punkins little friends while I have been outside. It's past time for the kids to be up anyway. I tell Punkin that she can call her friend. But unfortunately, she, likely in a fog of pre-adolescent hormones, seems to be trying to discover just how much backtalk she can give me before I convert to a religion that sacrifices their firstborn. And the long and the short was that now she can call her friend back after she gets her morning chores done - and it would probably be a good idea to not speak to me again until they are. Feeling horribly wronged, she bursts into tears and stomps off, presumably to get her morning chores done.

  At this point Spud is up, and also cranky, and I am late giving our baby goat her bottle. Honeysuckle the goat is still in a pen in our kitchen. The weather here has been beyond foul and it's been easier to just have her here then re-work the goat shed so she has her own stall. Though I am considering just building an entirely new goat shed and giving their old one to the chickens, who have been laying all over.
  Last week, apparently by bribing a cat, Honeysuckle managed to pull a half a loaf of what bread into her pen and eat it. True disaster was averted, but her tummy has been fussy ever since and this morning she decides to give me heart palpitations by jumping all over me for her bottle and then not drinking. I leave Spud with Punkin and bring Honeysuckle out to do the rest of the morning rounds with me. Perhaps that will perk up her appetite.

  Getting the rest of the chores done, I come back in to discover that Punkin's sick coturnix that she has been nursing has died. Spud, who doesn't like to eat until he's been up for a while, has gotten over some cranky and is ready to eat. Honeysuckle isn't. I sit down to give him breakfast and get on the computer. Perhaps one of my goat friends will give me some advice.

  I am not too long into this when a car pulls up. It is Punkin's friend and her mom, here to pick Punkin up for a sleepover. This is news to me.
  It seems little friend had told her mom that she had spoken to Punkin and Punkin had spoken to me and it was ok. There was a message on my machine. We spoke to little friend about the whole process of making plans and I let Punkin go. Happy surprise for her.
  Not so happy surprise for me after they drive off and I discover that none of her morning chores are done.
Now I get to do them.
Yippee.
I am already behind, the skies are threatening so my laundry still isn't hung, the neighbor's chicks are peeping in my incubator, waiting to be delivered, and when I go back inside, Spud, who we've been letting go without a diaper for a couple of hours after every BM because he's been getting rashes, poops on the floor while I am boxing chicks.
And the pigs are up by the house again.

I call the neighbor who, is happy to come get her chicks. But when she does, the ducklings and goslings promptly follow her home, as they like the yellow clover in her yard much more then the grass in mine. I go to get them and 4 pigs, assorted cats, Deacon and a dancing baby goat try to follow me over. I tell her that I will come grab them as soon as I'm not a one woman parade. As I walk down to return the pigs to the drycreek, I look over and see the big, CX hen that we were going to butcher this afternoon is sprawled out. She had been slowing down and we thought it was time, but she had been fine an hour ago. I remembered a rooster courting her. It seems she went the way politicians sometimes do.
There goes Memorial day dinner.

The neighbor takes pity on me and herds the fuzzies back over. They are irresistible to hold at this stage. I decide to try to salvage the breast meat. Bertha was a big girl and that's a lot of meat. I get it done as quickly as possible, slap up a quick pen, pray it holds the fuzzies in at least for the afternoon, lock up the pigs, who are back up at the house, hope they don't teleport themselves back out and bring Spud in for a nap. For a miracle he actually falls asleep. For another, now Honeysuckle wants her bottle.

I am wiped, still no coffee, my laundry is still wet in a hamper on the table, sky keeps getting darker but no rain and I decide that while he is asleep I am going to ignore everything, sit on the computer and eat Cocoa Crispies. Not that I even like Cocoa Crispies but they are the only chocolate in the house. And I never did get around to my own breakfast - or lunch, for that matter. It's after 3 now.

Handsome will be home from work soon. He has a sit-down job in an air-conditioned building. He wonders why, sometimes, when he gets home I just hand him Spud, wave at everything, tell him "Yours" and disappear for an hour.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Postally Challenged.`

Ok, I admit it. I am Postally Impaired. I promised to send out a prize. Well, my box was small and it broke rather locally and I got it back.

So I decided to send a different prize. And the kids and I made some lovely blown Easter eggs. And then I turned my back and little Spud - who adores eggs and finds them oh-so-satisfying to hold in his little hands - got a hold of them. With predictable results.

So I decided to buy LOTS of bubble wrap and go back to plan A and just package really well. And that's as far as I got. I have the address label written out, bubble wrap wrapped up tight in bigger boxes from the PO - and  there is all sat, ready to go, in the back seat of the car. Which my sweet husband takes to work with him from before the PO opens and gets home right after it closes.

And everytime I look in the back seat I kick myself because I STILL haven't gotten it into the actual postal system and someone is waiting for it and I am scum.

Do you know what makes it worse? I still have my mother's last birthday card, and I don't even want to know how many letters, many of which made it into stamped envelopes, dating all the way back to '95. And the package in question is snuggled up next to a package buddy who also needs mailed and is in the package limbo that is my car.

This must be an actual mental disability and there should be a support group or a medication or something. But TODAY I have DEFEATED my disability and finally got it in the mail.

About Time!
I bet you want to know what I sent.
I will only say it is yummy and beautiful and I will post the recipe next week.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Rooster update

And the next day, Big Red came home. I went and spoke to the neighbor, he's a nice old guy. As these roosters will probably just keep walking back, I've promised him 2 other roosters who don't already know the way after he's finished working on his pen. Their wings will be clipped before they leave and they'll be penned (rather then yarded) with all the ladies for a few days to encourage them to stay.
Or, when he's ready, I may give him a few chicks. Whichever he prefers.
He swears he's seen our dog back, though he's been kept on leash, even in the house (so no chance of going out the un-screened window) since then.
Ah, well. We don't have the only beagle in the world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Laddie came Home

Well actually, his name is Prince.
And he's a rooster.
And now I'm sure you want the whole long story.

  A few days ago, a neighbor comes by. We have never met this neighbor before,  but know where he lives, through the woods and over the creek as the crow flies, and down the road and around the corner as the car travels. He wants to know if we have a big brown dog with no hair.
We tell him we have a beagle. <who, by they way, is only big compared to other beagles, tri-color with flashy markings, and does, in fact, have hair>
That's him, the fellow tells us, and then tells us our dog killed his rooster.

I have no doubt that our beagle trespassed. We have permission for him to run rabbits on the property between us and this neighbor and if the rabbits don't respect a fence, neither does the hound hot on their tail. Having said that, it's a lot of ground and we had no idea Scooter wasn't still on it, as you can't always see the rabbitdog, that's why they bay, so you can hear them and know about where they are. If we had known he was that close to this fellow's property we'd have called him back.
I have vast doubt that our beagle killed a rooster. We have free-range chickens of every size and age here. From baby chicks that still get herded back into the brooder at night up to far too many roosters.Scooter is 3 years old and has never hurt any chicken, anywhere. And he doesn't even kill a rabbit when he catches it. He catches Mr. Cottontail alive and unharmed - if very winded.

Nevertheless, if a dog trespasses, around here if you don't see the hunter with it, you can shoot it, and we didn't mean for him to trespass. We apologized, said we'd never let it happen again, thanked the fellow, and offered him two roosters for the one he lost.

We scattered feed so we could catch them and he said he'd like the Rhode Island Red as that's what he lost (and inwardly I cursed, Big Red had a home for life here and many wives-to-be in the brooder) and that white fellow.
And Punkin's face fell because "that white fellow" was the speckled Prince, her favorite rooster. She had marked him as her own from nearly as soon as we opened the box from the hatchery. Prince didn't take any catching, she just walked up to him and picked him up and stroked him.

I was pretty sad as I put them both in the box, and wished he would have picked a Buff Orp or Barred Rock instead of the 2 exact roosters we'd wanted to keep, but he didn't have a choice about losing his rooster, whoever's dog killed it. And any rooster is a small price to pay for good neighbor relations and not having your rabbitdog shot over a misunderstanding.
But he was Punkin's favorite rooster, and a few tears were shed for him.

So you should have seen her face when he not only came home, but walked into the house to announce he was back.

Punkin is very happy. And Prince seems as happy as a chicken gets. He quickly found his favorite hen and then stretched out to sun, wing extended in total chicken relaxation. He keeps on coming up to the house, either to reassure himself that he is home, or to complain to the travel agent who forgot to book him a return trip.

And I have to go talk to the fellow and bring him a different rooster.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Small Frustrations

I have quail.
The quail were a pay-it-forward gift. The idea was, I got eggs for the price of shipping and the promise to send some future eggs to someone else.

This is definitely my sort of thing, and I quickly found a recipient for hatching eggs.

So, right on time, at 6 weeks, I got my first quail egg. YAY! The first egg is always such a thrill. But then, instead of steadily increasing production, I got dribs and drabs. I researched my management and feed. I checked for egg eaters. I moved them to bigger, nicer housing - which prompted a sulk and I didn't get a single egg for over 10 days. I took out all the males. I started putting males back one by one. (I realized that the first "males" I put back were just, uhh, modern-thinking hens).I blamed the weather, which was wonky and rainy and way-too-hot and then unseasonably cold. I told them I'd eat them all if I didn't start getting eggs.

Nothing worked.

But finally, like Leghorn chickens, Coturnix quail can not resist egg-laying forever. Finally I was consistently getting 3 eggs a day (still a sad and pitiful number). Then 5 and then 9. When I got 9 eggs for the 3rd day in a row and my pen of younger quail laid their first egg on that same third blessed day, I told my quail-egg recepient that I would start collecting them to mail out.

Since that day I have gotten Not One Egg.
Not just quail eggs.
There are no chicken eggs.
My Muscovy hen stopped disappearing for an hour a day to her secret nest.
There are no eggs, at all, anywhere.
None.

What the heck?? Do I have a predator lurking? Is there an egg-eating snake around? Did something scare the snot out of everybody? Are the quail playing mind-games and the chickens sneaking off to lay next door?? WHAT??

And it's always when you want them too, isn't it?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pigs!


We got pigs!
I am way happier then I thought I'd be.
I have raised pigs before - but they were never my pigs. I have worked on a lot of farms and for a couple of years was the One To Call if you had kids in 4H and needed a pet sitter. So yeah, I've worked with pigs.

I even liked pigs, in a casual, off-hand sort of way. I've always felt a strong sense of Not Mine when working with other people's livestock and do my best to not get attached. Either I'll be leaving or they'll be leaving. It is a hard balance to take the very best care of them you can, as good as if they were yours, doing whatever needs done even if it means going out in the cold rain in the middle of the night and mud up your boots and caring enough to do whatever it takes - with the knowledge that tomorrow you may need to load it on a truck and go about your day. For an owner these things are tempered with financial gain. But when you work there, there's no gain to cushion you.
You have to do it because you love it, while keeping your distance.

So I always tried to not really deal with pigs too much as they are personable critters and I probably wouldn't even get to taste the bacon. A lot of places it's easy. The pigs are confined, which makes them stink and they can be awfully aggressive.

But these are my pigs.
And they are cute and a little sweet and a little shy and I have them in a big pen, while we fence an even Bigger pen and it is so nice to watch them root and enjoy the space and sun and shade. They will eventually grow their way into a partially wooded 1 1/2 acres, so I don't foresee them getting too stinky.
One already likes her side scritched and will grunt and fall over.
 I am really liking the pigs.

Maybe I won't like them as much when they weigh 200+ pounds. Maybe I'll cry when it's time to load them. maybe I'll like them enough to keep one for breeding. We'll see. But right now I think I'll wander down to the pen and see what they're doing.

                          

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We are in love

With our new baby.
She is soft and sweet and warm.
She has long ears and soft fur and warm little hooves and likes to rub her little nose on you when she's happy.
Isn't she sweet?
It has been so wet and rainy for so long, combined with the old computer dying and therefore us not having a way to make room on the camera for photos that the only pictures I have were taken on overcast days. So they don't show her lovely, caramel-apricot color.
But she is beautiful for much more then just her color.
She has exquisite conformation. I just like to look at her. Admittedly, I don't know much about goat conformation and I have never shown one. But I am trained to appraise horses and years of working with horses and dogs have given me an "eye" for a well-built animal. The very first picture I saw of her my eyes went right to her. All of Ages Ago Acres kids are lovely, but - "we've all heard the term "caught my eye" - it was coined for times like that.

A HUGE Thank you to Susie of Ages Ago Acres for letting me bring home Honeysuckle.
http://www.agesagoacresnubians.com/

Storms!

 We have had nearly endless thunderstorms here! Poor Punkin, several times the tornado watch sirens have gone off, scaring her to bits.

But happily we've been spared the worst and in a couple of days this should be done with. I hope no more lives are lost. So far our only casualties have been 2 young quail. Even in roofed, blanket covered cages up off the ground, the constant damp was just too much for them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

My puppy was sick

My not-a-Border-Collie, Deacon, gave us a heck of a fright a few days ago. At evening chore time he came leaping out the bedroom window to join Handsome and I. (I really need to fix that screen) He was his normally bouncy, exuberant self, displaying an energy level matched only by actual Border Collies and a few other born-on-speed breeds.
  When he wanted to chase down the escaped Peter Rabbit and give that poor old gent a heart attack I finally put him back outside so we could get finished battening down the hatches for the torrential storm that was supposed to hit. Right before we went inside there was an almighty CRACK of thunder and we rushed into the house as we could hear poor Punkin scream. She has a fear of storms.

A few minutes later, she asked why Deacon was shivering. I assumed he was feeding off her anxiety and the sudden barometric pressure drop. But a few minutes later he threw up a terrible vileness and started shaking like a leaf in high wind. He was still responsive enough that it couldn't properly be called a seizure, but he could barely walk.
  I asked if he wanted to go outside and he staggered to the door, then once outside he just lay down against my leg and shook and drooled. He threw up again

Handsome and I went nuts trying to get a vet on the phone. But this is a very, very rural area and most vets around here don't even treat dogs. Here, in the land of the puppy mill, dogs are considered replaceable. If your dog dies, the vet has 2 more in the back and he'll give you one. They figure it's already a better home then most as you bring your animal to a vet.

So there was nothing to do but wait and see. We thought he was dieing.

On the advice of a friend, we syringed some raw egg and honey down his throat. It is supposed to help in case of a copperhead bite and can't hurt. He threw most of it up, but did seem a little better after.
  After an hour and a half, the terrible shaking subsided a little and he was able to sleep. We were so afraid to let him sleep. But every time Handsome called his name he would wag his tail. When Handsome crouched next to him to see if he was breathing and Deacon tried to roll for a belly rub (poor sweetheart was shaking so hard but managed it) we decided to bring him in, get him settled and let him sleep.

After an hour, wobbly, but no longer shaking, he staggered into the living room to get to "his" spot under the desk. After watching him sleep normally for a half hour, we thought it might be safe to go to bed. Handsome went to take our dinner dishes to the sink and Deacon came popping out to lick the plates!
  In amazement, we let him. He was a little unsteady, but showed all his regular enthusiasm.
  I asked "Do you want dinner?" and unsteadiness disappeared as he wagged so hard the white tip of his tail lashed back and forth over his back.
  He ate some boiled rice with a raw egg over it and begged for more.
Handsome gave him a small handful of dogfood and would have fed him more for the sheer joy of watching him eat if I hadn't stopped him.

And just like that it was over. As quickly and mysteriously as it began. And almost a week later we still have no idea why.
I am so glad he's ok. I just hope it never happens again.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

It isn't midnight yet so I can still say it.
And this is the first post from our new computer, which I very reluctantly like, even if the freecell game on it is far too glowy.

I finally get a chance at it as Handsome has played and fussed and downloaded all weekend, except for a little while while we had a tornado watch today. And tomorrow it will likely still be rainy and gross, so I can either do housework ~OR~ I can sit here and fill everyone in about goslings and chicks and baby goats and good dogs and figure out how to get pictures up onto the new computer.

Guess which will win?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Aaaack!

Computer ... dying.

A windows transplant did not save it - just gave it another couple of weeks

A hard drive transplant did not revive it.

It is dying.

And there is nothing to be done, but dig into our minuscule bank balance and replace it.

Handsome (heartless scum) is actually excited about cannibalizing this one's internal bits to upgrade another.
He is looking forward to replacing my Acer with an ... an eMachine.

How could he?

He keeps saying things like "Really Honey, that computer is, what, five years old? It really needs to be replaced."
And to think, he was so excited about it when we bought it.
Our relationship was new, and I wanted him to feel needed, so I batted my eyelashes at him and sweetly said "Handsome, I need a desktop, but I only have so much $$. Would you help me find the best one?"
And, delighted with his new-found title of King of All Technology Purchases, he picked out the very one I had looked at.

Sigh.
He wanted to replace it with a Dell, but I have gone through the trials and tribulations of their tech support and will not have one, so he decided on a cheap-yet-adequate eMachine and has refrained from looking at the calendar everytime I get sad over the impending death of my Acer. He thinks I'm being overly emotional. And this from the man who names them.
I can't be the only person to get attached. Am I?

As it stands, I had better hit post before I get Blue Screened again. I will try to fill in my Faithful Readers soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The end of the Great Brake Saga

I got the part.
I installed it.
I bled the brakes. (This was hard because the screws did not want to turn and I had to call a friend and vent)
Handsome bravely took it for a spin, heavily testing the brakes on the dirt road.
As it worked (yay! it worked!) he then took it out and drove into our tiny town and back.

Then feeling brave, confident and in need of some essentials, we decided to take it all the way to the next town over to The Store.
  About 12 miles down the road there was a CLUNK! followed by some grinding and clattering. Happily there was a stop sign just ahead and we threw on the hazard lights as we coasted to a stop. As we came to a halt, there was the unmistakable sound of metal hitting blacktop.

Handsome (he's such a gem) did NOT say I told you so. Not even after I got out of the car to get the twisted, mangled brake pad from the road. Slowly, with hazard lights on, we crept home.

I was feeling pretty defeated. The next morning I was looking for info online to try and tell me what I had done wrong and I stumbled across a forum devoted to the Ford Explorer. So I poured out my tale of woe to the helpful folk on there and they told me to get my butt out to the car and take some pics for them as it should be impossible to spit out a brake pad like that unless I had Majorly Screwed Up.
  With trembling hands and heavy heart, I took off the tire.

And the brake pad was there.
Right where I put it.
It looked fine.

So I took pictures and posted them and the helpful, mechanically-minded Explorer enthusiasts said it looked fine.
Here, look;
Do you remember how when I had fixed it there were pieces missing?
Well, I never thought to look and see if they were jammed up there somewhere. And one was, and that was it. So I actually did it RIGHT!
WOOHOO!

And now the brakes work fine. Well, almost fine. I didn't get a couple of the brake lines tight enough and they are dripping a little fluid but this weekend Handsome will use his ManGrip and make them tighter then I can get them and we'll be set.

And hopefully I will never blog about brakes again.

Computer crash!

And now I am behind.And so much has been going on!

  But Handsome is thrilled because he got a chance to upgrade the computer and now we have Windows7. He is thrilled and speaking in Geek. I speak Dog and Horse and Excited 4 Year Old and several other languages- but not Geek. So all I know is that the computer is fixed, Handsome is happy and I have to re-bookmark my bookmarks.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Front brakes, the easy ones ... riiight

  So the front brakes were supposed to be the easy ones. And when my good friend dropped off the brake shoes and pads, I was delighted to see that in each box there were the ones for both sides.
  Yay, my car will stop, I thought.

  Overbrimming with triumph and confidence, I decided to tackle the drivers side one first, since that was to be the "easy" one that I was just doing because I had the pads and caliper pins.

  I quickly discovered that on the '94 Explorer, the front brake assembly is actually meant to come apart by banging heck out of it with a hammer. Fine. This is not past my skill level.
  And then, I actually managed to get it back together. I have decided that I hate caliper pins. You also install them by banging heck out of it with a hammer.

  On to the other side! I am a little nervous because now my car is completely held up by cinderblocks and jacks and whatnot because I can't put tires back on until I've bled the brake lines. If there is a way to do this with the tires on - I don't know it. The other side comes apart much easier because now I know where and how to apply my trusty hammer, which I am developing a fond affection for and thinking of naming.

  There were pieces missing.
Pieces.
Missing.

After the obligatory curse words and a quick prayer of gratitude that I had done the other side first and therefore knew there were pieces missing, I took it apart.
 We had been told one of the caliper pins had locked up. Maybe it had - I couldn't tell.What I could tell is that it would have had every excuse to do so. You see a brake pad had fallen out and then the piston thingy had pressed against the round plate until the piston thingy was gone.
  I said another little prayer of gratitude that Handsome had not been killed while gimping the car home.
 - A quick aside. I often pray. I feel the Powers That Be hear a lot of whinging so I try to thank them as often as possible. Doing the drum brakes had given me a chance to say thanks for an opportunity to cultivate patience. Sometimes it's all you can do.

 I am planning on posting pics of the finished job. I will NOT be posting pics of what this thing looks like now, because I don't want to be arrested for public endangerment.
  Anyhoo, hopefully my brake saga is nearly done. Today is the day that the auto parts store is supposed to get my shiny new caliper, which should be easy to install, as just to change the pads I had to undo the whole works anyway and so have done this once already. Sadly we missed yesterday's 4H meeting because of this, but later this week we'll be able to pick up our new baby goat and the 4H chicks when they come.

  Assuming, of course, that there are no more surprises. Happily, at this point if there are surprises I am now feeling capable of fixing them, having done so much already. Which feels pretty good.
 I'll keep you posted.