Saturday, December 31, 2011

An End of the Year Surprise

My sweet husband mentioned last night that he wanted to take me to town to get my own bow so that I could shoot with him in the evenings.  We have a target out back and he and our middle son often just take a few shots in the evening to wind down for the day.  So today we went to a small archery shop in town where I was fitted for my own bow.  I did not want a camo print bow as I really just want to enjoy a little target shooting.  I picked the oddest bow they had - a color called Gator Blue.  I can hit the target but will need to build my endurance.  It is a 31 pound draw which isn't that tough but after a dozen shots I was beginning to feel it, especially noticing that my aim was shifting as I fatigued.  I've put my new toy away for today but will certainly tackle it again tomorrow.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Happy Geese

It was an unseasonably warm day yesterday & the same is predicted for today.  On the way back to start another dye pot I flipped some scraps to the Pilgrim geese.  They are not particularly friendly but have become very aware of our movements.  The minute they hear a door open at the house they begin to honk to let us know they are willing to clean up a few greens for us.  Unfortunately I noticed the gander has a length of baling twine around  his leg this morning.  I'll go back out shortly to catch him and unwrap it.  I am sure neither of us will enjoy that task.

Monday, December 12, 2011

More Corn

We worked again on taking down some of the corn maze.  Al uses his boot knife to harvest entire stalks while I go to another end of the field just to pull dried ears of dent corn.  The livestock love the cornstalks.  They are not nutritious enough to be a complete diet but the animals love them as treats, especially when they come across the ears of corn still hanging on the stalk.

I picked and shucked half a dozen big buckets of corn.  I shuck while I'm in the field.  There is a special way to twist the corn while it is still on the stalk so that it just slips right out of the shucks clean as can be. It was a sunny but very windy day.  The noise among the drying cornstalks was so loud that Al and I could not call back and forth to each other while we worked so instead we enjoyed the not-quite-peace-and-quiet.

We'd finally had a few days of rain in the past week followed by some warmer sunny days.  I found a few sprouting ears of corn on the ground that I felt were quite beautiful.  The fresh green of the sprouts was such a contrast to the drying brown of the parent plants. It made me smile.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sharing, sort of

This is Gwen, one of the Anatolian Shepherds, in the back of the old barn where we feed her so that she doesn't have to spend her whole meal snarling at the sheep and goats who want her food.  The chicken watching her has grown to be Gwen's friend.  This hen is a New Hampshire Red who contracted some sort of illness as a young pullet. Her head swelled for a few days so we isolated her and watched for other chickens to fall ill.  No one else did.  This hen recovered after a few days of careful nursing but her face is now oddly distorted.  She gets along just fine with the other chickens but has also taken to napping with Gwen.

She also learned long ago that Gwen does not finish all of her food every day.  It used to be that the hen would hold back to see what kind of leftovers she could find but in this last year she's become much bolder and often just eats out of the bowl along with Gwen while Gwen quietly snarls at her.  The hen has also learned to sneak in, snatch a bit and run.
I love to lean on the door frame and watch the two of them go through their mealtime routine.  Although I was not quick enough with the camera to get a good picture, I did see the funniest thing yesterday.  At one point Gwen just seemed to lose patience with her friend.  She reached over with her right paw, put it gently down on the hen's neck and pinned her there so that she could take two bites in peace.  When Gwen let the hen back up the hen went back to her circle and grab technique to help Gwen finish dinner.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Kermit's mother was the sweetest Nubian doe.  His daddy was one of our Angora bucks.  He has grown into a big stinky fellow who shows his heritage in the oddest seasonal fashion.  He grows in a gorgeous silky white winter coat and then sheds to coarse black hair in the spring.  He has been especially "bucky" lately, so much so that he was finally banished to the cattle pasture for being so aggressive with the smaller goats.

He keeps an eye on me whenever he can.  Just the other day he came running as I pulled Allez, one of the Anatolian Shepherds, in for her evening meal.  He was rankled that I shut the door in his face; he loves to grab mouthfuls of dog food.

Just as an indication of Kermit's size when he is standing on his hind legs I will tell you that the cross bar of the half door at the back of the old barn is a little over five feet.  He towers above it.  At one point it almost seemed he was trying to reach through to throw the latch.  I'm glad he has hooves and not fingers.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Someone (ahem) left the gate chain off....

Notice how diligently Gwen is still guarding her charges.  This is how I was greeted on a very rainy Wednesday.  It seems that when I pulled Gwen into the hay shed to feed her I didn't check to be sure the chain on the back gate fell all the way into the little slot where it should catch.  The goats and sheep have plenty of shelter on a rainy day but the temptation of all-you-can-eat hay and a nice roof were just too much.  Someone pushed the gate open.  Since the hay in this shed is almost gone I did not bother trying to move everyone out.  I just took a few pictures, shook my head and went on with collecting eggs. A good laugh helps me maintain my sanity.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Quandry

It has rained for a few days so mud is no surprise but I couldn't help stare at Alice today.  She had a simply filthy muddy face.  If the dirty face belonged to Micah, our Dexter bull, I would not be surprised as he likes to show off to the girls but tearing big holes in the pasture.  He is often covered with dust.  But Alice is usually a tidy old gal.  After exploring a bit, I did find a sort of a clue.
It was hard to get a good picture so I'd best explain.  This is an enormous hole that one of the Anatolian Shepherds dug for herself to keep cool in the summer.  The hole easily holds a hundred pound dog if that is any indication of the size.  Well, inside the entrance to the hole is a single cow footprint.  And shoved way down in the hole is the partially deflated old playground ball that just seems to get kicked around the pasture.  From the looks of the hole and the cow all I can imagine is that for some reason Alice was trying to get that ball out of that hole.  But who really knows?  They never fail to amaze me.

Monday, December 5, 2011


This is what I discovered when I walked out to collect eggs Sunday afternoon:
One of the screws that holds up the nesting box had apparently popped free.  The funny part is that one hen was comfortably setting on a pair of eggs, another was trying to settle into her roosting spot for the coming night and I found five unharmed eggs that had rolled into the corners of their nests.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Treat

We are in the habit of letting the dogs lick at an empty peanut butter jar for a few hours before we throw it away.  They work at it and really seem to enjoy it.  I'd tossed a jar out to Ravi, one of the Anatolians, this afternoon but he was so excited to follow Al as he did his chores that he quickly abandoned it for a trip to a back pasture.  As I was returning from gathering eggs I found one of the does hard at work.  Her little tongue was flying as she struggled to get every tasty bit that she could.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

We Don't Always Share

Yesterday's can of kitchen prep scraps from a local hotel had several nice hunks of fancy cheese rinds.  There were enough to go around for the front yard dogs.  I managed to get a few pictures of two of the dogs.  Tootsie Pie, our adorable old black "found" dog, took off to hide and since I was outside in sandals and short sleeve shirt in 30-something degree weather I didn't feel like tracking her down just for a picture.
Andre uses his front paws like little squirrel feet and is quite skilled at eating only the best bits of the rind.
Madison, the beagle, prefers to hunker down in the leaves at the far end of the yard and slowly lick at her cheese until she feels she's been spotted.  Then she picks it up and scurries away to a safer spot.
As Eve, the little donkey who doesn't care anything about cheese, approaches Madison prepares to take off again.