Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Grass Is Always Greener . . .

Thanksgiving we were woken up by a call from the sheriff's department saying that the horses were out and in our neighbor's yard. At first we couldn't figure how they got out although we did find that someone had turned off the electric fence. We have to wonder if it wasn't this same neighbor since he was demanding we turn it off since his grandson had gotten shocked a few weeks ago despite all the warning and no trespassing signs but that is merely speculation. At first the fence appeared to be intact and we wondered if someone had let the horses out but later I noticed that a tree had fallen on the fence in an area that wasn't easily visible - one of the problems with having their paddock in a wooded area. The tree had pulled 2 sections of the fencing apart so I had my first adventure repairing a fence which was very easy. I love electric rope fencing.

Aeolae and Sam were indeed munching on the neighbor's lawn but as far as I could tell didn't leave any deposits - good horses. The neighbor is a pain and I didn't want to have to interact with anything of his any more than absolutely necessary. Fortunately he didn't come out and we were able to lead the horses home. Literally, we called to them and they followed us home without halters or lead ropes until we came across the apples - then Sam had to stop for a snack and we weren't going to get him back in the paddock without persusion but he was pretty good about it. It was a real nice feeling that they would just follow us home after enjoying their brief escapade.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Daphne, beloved canine companion and lover of life, died last night. She was only 3 or so years old but we believe that she was a pure blood husky, a breed which is known to have multiple physical problems due to inbreeding. We knew that she probably would not be with us nearly as long as Bones, a husky/wolf dog we moved up here with was with us - he passed on several years ago at the ripe old age of 18 - but it is an awful shock to have her gone from our lives this soon. We figure that she suffered a stroke or heart attack in her sleep as she was in fine form when we all went to bed. When something like this happens you'd like to believe that there was something you could have done to prevent it and it keeps going around and around in your head whether you missed something; nothing ever came up on her annual visits to the vet and she's been acting like her usual exuberant, pesky, loveable self.

I have a weak place in my heart for huskies and malamutes and with this being an area where there is winter 6 months of the year they are quite popular around here. When we saw Daphne at the local animal shelter last summer (was it only last summer?!) in an outside pen we fell in love with her and were dismayed to find that she wasn't in the book of available adoptees; we had to wait until we saw a volunteer bringing her back from a walk to get the staff to understand which dog it was we wanted to take home. Come to find out she had been rather badly injured when she was brought in as a stray and the staff didn't think that they would be able to adopt her out since she had bitten a couple of people during her rehabilitation. We had to swear up and down that we understood this and took full responsibility. Of course we understood, she had been in pain, scared, isolated and with all the other barking dogs hadn't been able to get any real sleep - for pete's sake, in tose conditions I probably would have bitten somebody too.

Over the year or so that she was with us we got her over her toothyness (although she did love her knotted ropes) and although she was still high strung (another result of the inbreeding) she was mellowing out quite nicely. It's such a loss to have her gone from us now - especially when winter was her favorite season and I was looking forward to taking up skijoring with her this winter. We were just starting clicker training too which she loved; almost as much as I mourn for the loss of her company and the joy she found in and brought to life I mourn for the lost potential. All I can hope is that maybe there was some little angel recently arrived in heaven that Hashem felt needed a puppy dog.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cat #1 - Fisel

Along with the two horses, 13 chickens and dog, Daphne (see her blog here), we have 3.5 cats. How does one have half a cat you ask? By having one which shows up when it pleases to mooch a meal and help keep the rodents down and spends the rest of it's time at neighboring farms ostensibly doing the same thing. Last winter I think we were it's preferred hang out and it took up residence in the barn; whether it will grace us with it's presence this year is anyone's guess. The feline above is not that feline though.

This handsome fellow is Fisel, 15 years old, who is supposed to stay inside, a rule he would rather flaunt than obey. In fact, all of our permanent kitties are supposed to be inside but there is something about a forbidden area that makes it irresistable to cats. He was my companion throughout my time in law school who had very clear thoughts on when I had studied too much by coming to lay on my books and demand in his Siamese-ish voice that I pay attention to him. Being of a stately and persnickety nature, I think he was a sterotypical English butler in a former life - with all the aristocratic airs and ideas of propriety that implies.

Stay tuned for entries on the other 2 kitties, Calico Kitty aka Kali Ma, the kitten of the clan, and Purrim aka Purr-cat the jester and general pest of the house.

On A Truly Fowl Note

The chickens got new quarters last week which they seem to think are ok although I think they miss being able to stick their necks out and grab whatever grass is within range. Their new house is approx 2 ft off the ground which makes it easier for me to take care of them even if they don't like it as much. They have started to give us eggs though; I found the broken shell of one on the ground today that they obviously ate the rest of. It just means I have to get them some shell to mix in their food for calcium this week along with an additional ration of cracked corn for warmth.

The new chicken house is approx 20 ft long by 6 ft wide by 2.5 ft high with most of it being of wire mesh and a wood box on one end for shelter. Keeps critters out and chickens in and protected. I have to cut and hinge a door in one side of the box so I can get in there and get eggs otherwise those feather brains are going to eat more of their eggs than we are. Maybe I'll put some perches in there too while I'm at it. It's about time we got some eggs from them - they may be this year's peeps and we may get eggs for literally chicken feed but that chicken feed ain't cheap. Or is that cheep?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sometimes It's Good To Be Wrong

Lately I've been concerned about the horses losing weight. A few weeks ago I was brushing Aeolae and noticed that she seemed to have hollows where I didn't remember them being, namely between the shoulders and belly and the belly and flanks. Maybe I shouldn't have been too worried but I really don't know what I'm looking at when I'm looking at horses and the reading I've done has impressed on me very clearly the number of things that can go wrong with equines. It's also the fact that I feel an almost sacred duty to give them the best life I can since they have been entrusted into our care by, in this case, Divine design so I'm inclined to be more careful and metaphorically jump at shadows. As it turns out, the con horses have been getting over fed by a slight bit.

In my last post I mentioned how they love their beet pulp which they have been getting with their 3 qt oat ration (for 2) and a short bale of mediocre hay a day. After consulting with my friend and trainer I have been informed that Aeolae is just about at the perfect weight and the hollows I've been seeing are the result of her winter coat coming in - in other words she's getting fluffy, not thin. Samwise is a little on the plump side but then again that horse probably has never passed up a meal; the other day he was late for dinner though.

I'll admit I'm still skitterish about the number of things that can go wrong - all this rain has made a prime environment for thrush, they could get stupid and eat something they shouldn't, they could slip inthe mud or rub up against something and get hurt - the list of things that could happen goes on and on. I'm just glad that this time I over reacted - I'd rather have them a little plump than losing weight.