Sunday, April 20, 2014

Gifts of family...

Daughter Rachel recently moved to her first very own all by herself apartment, about 3 hours away from where we live. I saw her new place a day or two after she moved in... stacked with boxes and bags and in the sort of disarray that moving causes. Today we loaded up my truck with a sofa I'd been saving for her, a microwave, a coffee table, a book case and some other bulky items. Because today is not only Easter Sunday, but also my oldest sisters birthday, and the day before my niece Aimee's birthday, it was decided that several of us would get together while we were in town delivering furniture.

We arrived first. Rachel's new space was freshly cleaned and organized, all the mess of moving gone. Her little living room was completely empty. We began to carry things in, and Chris assembled the coffee table. When nephew David arrived he and Chris wrestled the sofa up the stairs and inside. I wiped down the book case and arranged some of Rachel's pretty candles on it, put the coffee table in place and set up end tables with lamps.

Just then my sister Donna arrived. The entrance to the apartment is a sliding glass door, and it had the rather unattractive curtain left by the previous tenant hanging up. Donna took one look then went right back home, appearing a short time later with lovely white tab curtains,freshly ironed, perfect for the space. The ugly curtain came down and the pretty new ones were hung in a blink!

Sister Deb and her husband John arrived, bringing a housewarming gift of a special dish rack Rachel had wanted. Deb had previously donated some beautiful curtains that Rachel had already hung in her living and bed room.

Niece Aimee arrived next. She had a fabulous mirror, tall and white framed, perfect for Rachel's bedroom, and some wonderful plates and flatware.

Meanwhile Chris and John removed an unattractive shelf that had been too-firmly affixed to the wall. Nephew David went with Rachel to fetch the adorable antique hutch she had purchase months before from where it was stored, and soon it was placed against the wall where the offensive shelf had been.

Other people arrived as well, each bringing food to share. As if by magic, the nearly empty apartment suddenly had a fully furnished living room, and platters of food for an early spring pot luck. Home made salsa with chips, chicken salad, fruit salad, potato salad, tossed salad, and hot bread, all made for a feast. Lemon pound cake and locally made ice cream ended the meal on a sweet note. We enjoyed a few precious hours together in the spring sunshine, and then we all departed. But in our wake, we left a cozy "home" where a sparsely furnished apartment had been just hours earlier. And that is just one of the gifts of family.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Small things that matter most...

Friend Marion sent me a quick email earlier this week. "Good news, new lamb. Bad news, lost the ewe and another lamb." This meant that the living lamb would need to be bottle raised, something my very busy friend might have trouble finding time for. I called her right up and offered to take the lamb and raise it, but she had made plans to take it to work already. That night I stopped by her house to pick up some plants and there was the lamb, no bigger than a cat, wobbling around the yard. I stooped to pick it up and Marion said, "She might poop on you." Undeterred I scooped the wee thing up in my arms, she weighed only about 5 pounds, and snuggled in against me. My heart beat a quick tattoo and I fell in love. Hard. She did poop on me. The poor little thing had diarrhea. This is something serious in a small animal, it can cause death.

Marion succumbed to my pleas and let me take the lamb home with me. The tiny thing slept in a muck bucket next to my bed, and I woke every 2 hours to give her a bottle.

The next day the diarrhea was worse. I took her to work with me, and none of us could resist holding her. She pooped on us all. Liquid that ran from her, coating her legs and tail. And it was clear she didn't feel well, I assumed she had a belly ache. I called my veterinarian to see if there was some medication I could get for her. She said that since the lamb had not gotten any colostrum from her mother (first milk, loaded with antibodies and important things to get a newborns immune system up and running) the prognosis was poor. I asked if giving her yogurt would help, and she didn't think so. I mixed some in with her milk anyway, and within two feedings she seemed more perky. Marion brought by some medication to help that evening as well and I gave it her tiny doses several times.

I knew she might die, and I slept fitfully, waking to check on her often during the night. She cried for food every few hours and I fed her small portions, often. To my delight the next morning she was bright and active.

I took her to work with me again that day, and all my co-workers heaved sighs of relief to see her. And then...

Poo! Formed, solid, poo. I was so excited I took a picture and sent it to Marion. I called her asked her to check her email. She laughed heartily, with great relief. I joined her, giddy with delight that the lamb had turned a corner. We both knew that this meant that the lamb would most likely survive.
Imagine... a lamb dropping causing such glee! It is, indeed, the small things that matter so much.

Now the lamb, dubbed Bethany April Ann (initials, BAA,) is 4 days old. She is thriving, learning to run and leap and twist like baby lambs do. She snuggles with the dogs in the front seat of my truck, runs amok at work, and plays with Ziva, who thinks she is the greatest thing ever.

Little lambs that live even after a catastrophic birth, normal digestive tracts, the sight of that healthy lamb snuggling, eating, running, leaping... these are small things. Small things with a huge impact.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stormy weather...

A storm with high winds and heavy rains was beginning to blow in this afternoon. I took extra hay and shavings out for the goats so they'd have plenty of food and cozy bedding. The wind was beginning to bend the trees and it made a howling sound as I did chores. The rain came down in intermittent bursts, blowing sideways at the whim of the air currents. It made a musical sound on the metal roof.

I gave the goats supper, then gathered eggs from the coop and fed and watered the meat chicks. Before I went inside to fix our evening meal I walked back out to check on the goats. They were all snuggled in, cozy and safe in their shed. They had no care at all about the cold rain or whipping winds. This is one of the things I love about having animals, knowing that they are well cared for, fed and comfortable. My animals not only bring me joy, they give me deep satisfaction as well.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring babies and visiting ponies...

My friend Marion has life busting out all over at her farm. Two shiny, baby calves.

And SEVEN new lambs. Triplets from one ewe, two sets of twins from two more ewes. They are painfully cute, and so soft.

Chanel is visiting at the barn where I got her from. She'll be gone a month or so, in hopes that my pasture will grow. She is hard on it... nibbling all growing things right down to the nub. It feels odd to look out and have no pony in the pasture, but she was surely excited to see her two babies and her boyfriend. Lots of running and horse style greetings.

In a few weeks I am expecting a baby goat or two, so there will be new life at Fairwinds, too. Spring is such a happy time.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring morning...

While doing chores this morning I could hear the sound of a Pileated Woodpecker on one corner of the property. I heard it call first, then the loud thrumming of it working on a dead tree. I could see it clearly from the fence line... glossy black and white feathers with the signature red crest. These birds are big, about the size of a crow, and I find them to be rather shy. It stayed around while I hauled hay and water but by the time I got my camera it went winging off to the woods in the west. I am hoping he'll be back, I'd love to have a nice photo to share. All was not lost, however, because my morning walk turned up several nice shots.

There is a low spot in the pasture that forms into a large puddle when it is wet outside, as it is now. We jokingly refer to it as "Puddle Pond." The ducks love it... and spend hours looking for tidbits to nibble and splashing about with gusto. Ziva likes the puddle as well.

And sometimes she splashes in her own, wild way...

She is enjoying the warmer weather so much. This morning she spent a lot of time racing as fast as she could. We call this a case of "having the zoomies," or "Crazy legs." It delights me to see her zipping around in high speed. The livestock look at her askance. It would be fun to add a caption to this picture... what is the goat saying to the wild pup?

The ducks were in no danger, Ziva was just blowing past them, but they surely were not impressed by her running fit.

After all that activity she made short work of her breakfast and settled in to work on a bone and enjoy a well deserved nap in the sun. I'll take my camera out again in the morning and see what catches my eye. I'm glad the woodpecker called me out to take some pictures today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Creative genius...

Long time friend, (42 years!) Steve created this sign for our farm. He sent me the photo today, and I've been smiling ever since. I love every single thing about it and can hardly wait to hang it up.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Softer weather...

I cannot truly say that it feels like spring yet, but there is a softening to the weather that is encouraging. Expanses of earth are now brown instead of white, though drifts and piles of dirty snow linger along the roadway. In the woods the ground protected by trees is still deep in winters blanket. But as the snow melts the brooks are rushing noisily, and the ice on the lakes has lost its glossy finish. Now it is the dull color of flat gun metal, its edges tattered and glimmers of water showing through amongst the weedy shores. One sunny day soon those flat spaces will suddenly be all rippling, reflecting water, dotted with ducks and geese, and that will be a very happy day.

The meat chicks arrived last week, and are now in a small enclosure of the front porch, eating and eating and growing so fast I can almost see it happen before my eyes. They are fiercely adorable, and I find myself watching them, entranced. After they eat and drink their fill they pile up under the heat lamp for a nap, snuggled in a pile of yellow fluff. Spring babies enchant me.

The goats and horse seem to be delighted to see the bitter cold weather depart. They lay in the sun, looking blissed out. It was a hard winter, and I worried about them. I am happy to see them enjoying themselves and welcoming the change of seasons in their own way.

My daughter accompanied me to Intergroom, a trade show for pet groomers this past weekend. It was her first trade show, and she kindly drove me there, expertly maneuvering through New York and New Jersey traffic. I no longer enjoy city driving, and it was a treat to leave the travel up to her. At the show she was a ray of light... greeting everyone she met with a firm handshake and great eye contact. My friends and acquaintances found her irresistible, and they all exclaimed about how much we look alike. She jumped right in to help explain the German Red Clipper to prospective customers, shopped for tools and treats,and chatted happily with total strangers. She enjoyed the weekend and I enjoyed it much more than ever before, because I got to share it with her. Time together was a treat and something I treasure.

I plan to be home for a while now, and am full of plans to improve the house and yard this season. I can hardly wait to get started. I am welcoming the softening days and can hardly wait for things to green up and spring to set upon us with a vengeance.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A little smile...

Friend Marion has been talking about getting a pair of Chinese geese for years. She recently found some looking for a home and brought them to hers. She told me, "They love each other. They are always twining their necks together, and I am not sure how they manage not to tie them in an knot." I asked what she named them, and she flippantly replied, "Chris and Daryl." Later I often heard her refer to them as "The Conner's."

I finally got a chance to go see them yesterday. They are lovely birds, and I am not so secretly delighted that she named them after us. I noticed that the geese spent their time with the Runner Ducks. Marion said, "Yeah, the Conner's spend all the time with the W-------'s." (Insert her last name here. I won't print it in order to protect her privacy.) She continued, "The Conner's hang out and neck, the W-------'s are always running around like crazy doing stuff, but they spend all their time together." Sounds about right.

A bit further along in her pasture I saw this:

Her name is Moulan, and she is possibly the most pregnant ewe I have ever seen. This one was impressive, too...

Spring is upon us. Necking geese and sheep about to burst with new life. Combine all this with some wee green shoots I saw in the pasture today and I am full of excitement about the change of seasons!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Thirty years ago, on March 31, Chris and I were married by one of my college professors. It was a warm spring day. The daffodils were blooming, the birds were singing. We held hands. At one point during the ceremony I suddenly realized I couldn't feel my feet. I thought I was just unused to wearing "heels." Just then my soon to be husband looked down at me and whispered, "Do you feel it?" When he saw my quizzical expression he said, "Are you floating, too?"

Fast forward and we celebrated the date by going to Colorado. I've never been further west than Arkansas, so this was a treat. We went to Red Rocks and a kind lady there took our picture for us.

Red Rocks was amazingly pretty. I love how the clouds here echo the shape of the rock. Chris says he see's Elvis in the cloud.

From there we headed up route 7 to Estes Park. The drive was breathtakingly beautiful.

Chris had arranged for us to stay at The Stanley Hotel. It is old and funky, just our style. Parts of the film "The Shining" were made there. This was our first glimpse of the place:

One thing that surprised us was were the elk that roamed around town. We got to see many of them, up close and personal!

Mule deer were plentiful,too.

We explored Rocky Mountain National park, poked into all the fascinating little shops along the main road, ate our fill of delicious food, held hands, napped, laughed, explored, giggled and kissed. It was a lovely celebration of 30 blissful years. I'm still floating.