Monday, September 29, 2008

Storing Up Some Sun

Washington has a reputation for it's rain. Well deserved I might add. We can get weeks of solid rain where you are just running between covers trying to keep your hair dry. That is my main concern. I don't have good hair for rain.

The animals hole up in their shelters waiting for summer, not spring because we have very wet springs too. We generally have rain from October to July. July 5th to be exact.

So on Sunday the sun shown bright and hot. When I went out in the pasture I was shocked to see everyone looking like someone came in and shot them dead. But they weren't dead, they were trying to store up some sun for the upcoming winter.

I didn't have the heart to tell them it wouldn't work. Come November they would forget what this felt like.

Not to worry, July is right around the corner.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Small Package

I have had horses all my life but have found myself in the last couple of years horseless by choice. I vowed I would never own another horse.

That all changed when I saw this...........

And I had to have him. I could not get that face out of my mind. I tried really hard to talk myself out of it. But it didn't help that all my friends were trying to talk me into it. I love horses but have no desire to ride anymore so I figured a mini would be perfect for our mini farm.

So yesterday my friend, her daughter and I went to look at "Cuddles" in Tacoma. We were very excited because it was a beautiful day and horse shopping is better than going to Nordstrom's.
My friend and her daughter are horse people so I counted on them giving me their opinion. And they did but we all took one look and fell in love. Cuddles was calm and friendly and down right beautiful. Large brown eyes, very balanced and a palomino. We put him in the round pen and put him through his paces. My friend's daughter, the horse massage therapist, gave him the once over to check for any problems and it was time to load him up and head home.

The only problem was that I didn't bring a trailer. You see we were only going to look and if we liked him come back later. And the owner had several people looking at him and wanted to pick the best home so I figured he wouldn't be ready to go home with me then because she had people coming after me. But her and her daughter picked me. They wanted "Cuddles" to "live beyond the sidewalks".

There was only one thing left to do. My friend is full of adventure, she said "I think we can do it."

So we did...... "Don't worry," said my friend and her daughter, "We have Cheerios."

About half way into the trip my friend said, "I wonder if it is illegal to have a horse in your car?" I said, "I just hope this works out and he doesn't (as Hubby said) kick the crap out of my jeep."

I didn't want to call my insurance agent after all we had just been through with insurance lately and tell him I got in a wreck with a horse in my car.
Wait a minute, I do have Farmers Insurance so I think I'm covered.

We did make it home in one piece and would have made it home without an accident of the poo kind but my friend said, "Wait I need some pictures."

Here is Cuddles meeting the rest of the animals.

The peanut gallery had a good look see.....

I put him in his paddock and turned him loose.

And he met Large Marge from next door.

Ate a little grass.....but everything he does is little.

Here he is in his new stall.

We have decided to call him Sunny because that was his original name and it goes with his registered name which is, Sonoita Highlands After Glow.

So from now on it will be Sunny because Hubby likes it better and every once in a blue moon I let him win.

Thank you Jennifer and Jessica for trusting me with him. He will be loved!

and for those of you that want the particulars...he is a 7 year old gelding, 31.5 inches tall, trained and shown in carting, obstacles, in-hand and jumping, he is as calm and sweet as can be and did not even bat an eye when he met the pigs, now that's stable.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chicken Fetish

I am finding myself obsessed with my chickens as subjects for my photos. I can sit in a plastic chair for hours, well maybe not hours.....I mean who has time to sit in a chair for hours? It just sounds better. Anyway I sit in the chair with my new camera and take picture after picture of my chickens. I am sure the neighbors think I'm crazy when they look over and I am zooming in on another chicken face but heck they have interesting combs.

And all those colors. Wow! The way their feathers lay is just beautiful. They are a work of art.

Now everyone has their favorite thing to photograph. My friend is partial to feet and hands. She takes the most artistic shots of feet and hands that I have ever seen. Personally I glad my fetish is chickens. I think it is a little less weird......sorry my friend. But because of her I have learned to take shots with a more artistic eye. And she does understand my fascination with my girls. She will say things like, "Oh the red on that wattle is so perfect."

She gets it!

Sunday we were burning branches after cleaning up some cedar trees and while Hubby was busy dragging branches and throwing them on the fire I was stopping every few minutes to get my camera out of its case and take another chicken picture. I did take one of him and the burn pile just to make him happy but look who is helping him out. My girls.

To be honest he said,"Don't you dare put me in your blog." I said, "Don't flatter yourself, I wouldn't think of it. I'm taking pictures of chickens."

I am even taking pictures of the neighbor's chickens who, by the way, have free-ranged themselves over to our place to enjoy our bugs but scurry back home to lay eggs. I did try to entice them to stay with a little corn but it didn't work because they were too afraid of me. I admit it, I was going to steal the chickens.

I take the most pictures of Ramona the Brave. Maybe it's her golden coloring and the different shades along her feathers.

Or maybe because she always puts herself in a good pose.

Or maybe it's just because she is always underfoot.
Whatever the reason I have lots of pictures of this red headed egg laying machine.
I have even thought about making chicken greeting cards with my pictures. I am sure there is a need with all the urbanites buying their fancy chicken coops and enjoying their city fresh eggs. So next time you are in the card aisle be on the lookout for chicken cards.

It will either be me....or someone else beat me to it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bad Bad Pigs

All summer long I have been working on my pasture. I have been raking. I have been mowing and I have been seeding the bald spots. All to achieve a smooth green expanse for my animals to graze on. I love to see them enjoying the fruits of my labor. It also saves on food for the llamas.
But the pigs have taken this a little too far. They too have been using the pasture all summer. Freed from their pen in the mornings they have frolicked (yes pigs frolic) and grazed and occasionally rooted up a dandelion here and there. But no major damage.....until yesterday. I let them out in the morning and a few hours later went to put them back. I was greeted by Fiona with a snout full of dirt. I said, " Hi Fiona, what have you been up to today?" Then I looked up and saw all the damage.

Bad pigs!
And this picture was taken after I filled it in. There are several more places just like this.

They had rooted up my pasture. And not along the sides but right down the middle. Big deep holes. I can only guess they were searching for worms that had crawled to the surface as the soil became moist in the rain. Bad pigs!

Bad Bad pigs!

They have now been sent back to the pen, as in penitentiary. They will only be out under my supervision. We are going to get some panels and make a pen that we can move around and control their rototilling.

They are getting their hair back and feel soft as a kiwi. I liken it to a little boy with a crewcut. You can't help but run your hand over it.....I try to ask first......the little boys that is.

By the way if you haven't noticed, I, at times, make reference to one of my favorite books, The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery. If you haven't read it you must.

Even if you don't like pigs.

Yesterday I didn't like pigs.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Egg Hunt

Yesterday while I was busy around the place I noticed one of the chickens trying to get in the hay tent. We have one of those large ugly tents that use to cover Hubby's trailer (until someone stole it in Vegas) and is now full to the brim with hay. So now I call it the hay tent. Anyway the chicken ducked under the bottom edge. I had long suspected that a hen or two was laying in there but couldn't find any eggs after a lot of crawling around on the bales and sticking my hand into places a rat could hide. So when I saw her go in I decided to spy on her. I peeked in but all I saw was a chicken trying to look as nonchalant as possible with one eyeball on me. So I raked a bit more and took another peek just in time to see her drop into the stack of truck tires my son left in there.
Aw Ha! She was laying in the tires. What is my hens' fascination with tires? Here she had nest boxes full of hay and even hay full of hay to lay in and she chose the tires that are stacked four high and have rocks on the bottom. I took a peek inside after she was done and this is what I saw.

I know that she will not be dissuaded at this point from going in there and laying so I figure if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

I took out all the old eggs, put clean hay in the bottom and added one egg (with a mark on it), to keep her laying there. I just will have one more place to check for eggs.

Just like an Easter Egg hunt.

And as always........ a little help.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chicken Art

While passing through Kittitas County in August we stopped at a farm stand in Ellensburg. I bought 5 pounds of cherries and a couple of hot mochas. As I explained to the clerk that I did indeed want a hot mocha in the middle of a heat wave and not one of those horrid iced mochas I glanced down and saw this colorful fair poster. I thought to myself, Wow this would look good framed. I made a mental note to contact the fair to see if they would be available when I got home. Yes they were! So the other day a signed by the artist fair poster came in the mail. I will frame it and hang it somewhere.

"Doodle Dan an' Dee" by Caly Garris

I just don't know where.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What's New, What's Not

What a great time at the fair. I was there for 2 out of the 3 days and because I left the lovely Cora Belle at home I helped the goatfarmer of Herron Hill Dairy.
She had 14 goats there and it was never a dull moment. I don't think I have laughed so much in years. And because it's been years I have only one word, Depends.
It was goats galore for this goat loving gal. I got to show. I got to milk and I even got the reputation of being a stalker because I took so many pictures of people I didn't know. At one point people went up to a young mother and said, "Do you know that a strange woman is taking pictures of your little girl?" That's me, a strange woman. Luckily the mom was a friend of the goatfarmer and I was pardoned.

Sadly though I didn't win a basket in showmanship. I didn't win one for several reasons...

3. I was foolish to think that I would remember how to show a goat after 30 years.

2. The competition was fierce. It's hard to compete with ex 4Hers.....and people that have been showing the last 30 years and actually look good in all white.

And the number one reason I didn't win a basket.....I wasn't there. I was stuck on Interstate 5 in a traffic jam. I could have walked to the fair faster. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I would have made a fool out of myself. When I got there and saw the people showing in the ring I was so glad I didn't kill myself trying to get there on time. The goatfarmer and I had a good laugh that we had thought ourselves capable of joining this serious group of goat handler extraordinaries.

Here is the young lady that won hands down.

Now a few things are have changed in the last 30 years. For one, the goats are now suppose to go uphill. Meaning the withers are higher than their rump. I swear that it used to be, back when I had Farrah Fawcett hair, that they were looking for a level topline. Now the handlers are all poking their goats in the back to lower their backs. I never got the hang of the poke. When I'd poke the goat would jump. Undoing all my stacking and positioning. Another reason I wouldn't have earned a basket.

This Alpine doe is a lovely example of that.

Here is another thing that has changed.....

I am happy to report there were a lot of rule breaking rebels that dared to touch the animals, and then run outside to the thousands of hand washing stations that dotted the fair. I wonder how I ever survived my childhood.

What hasn't changed is this......cute kid faces.

Here is Jessie, she won a blue ribbon.

This is Poppy Seed from Poppy Patch Farm. She was Grand Champion Nigerian Doe. Isn't she lovely? I was blown away by the beautiful Nigerians at this show and Poppy Patch raked in the ribbons. Cora Belle is related to this doe. Her sire is a Poppy Patcher so we are in good company.

Another thing that hasn't changed in 30 years......scones! I ate 5!