Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rooster, round two, and more...

I dutifully caught the rooster last night and tucked him back up in his bachelor pad. I felt quite pleased with myself.  Until this morning, when I noticed something large and dark in there. Ella goat, my most mischievous girl.  She had opened the door, and let herself in to dine upon the delicacy of chicken food.  In so doing, the rooster had made yet another escape.  I will try again tonight. Stay tuned.
Despite this minor frustration, the other animals continue to delight. Check out this Silky chick.
It has one funny feather that hangs over it's little head. It reminds me of an angler fish, and cracks me up every time I see it.

Abraham has really settled in well.  He gets along with all of the other animals, but has developed a special bond with Ella. They eat together, graze together, and rub all over one another.  It is totally charming to see them interact.  

Bravo pup is 6 months old now.  He is an awfully good boy.  Every morning he asks to hop up on the grooming table. I brush him all over and he seems to enjoy the attention.  Then, while I am getting ready for the day, I find Bravo sleeping sweetly on the table.  I think it's adorable.
The baby bunnies are a week old.  I have never raised rabbits before. It is astonishing how fast they grow, and they are sensationally cute.  When I check on them, the whole nest erupts in little squeaks and they begin to hop about like very warm little jumping beans.  I have to restrain myself from peering in at them too often.

The mornings and evenings are chilly now, the nip of fall in the air.  Afternoons have been warm and bright and lovely. It's a happy time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rooster-1, Human- 0...

Our big, handsome, Light Brahma rooster is a gem. The best rooster we have ever had. He calls the hens when he finds a tasty morsel, he defends them from predators, (we saw him tussle with a Red Tailed Hawk, and WIN!) However, he has 3 or 4 hens which are his "special loves," and he loves them so much they have no feathers on their backs.
Exhibit A:
The birds are molting now, so it would be a good time for those feathers to regrow, if he would just leave the girls alone. But he will not. So I devised a plan.  We got a door for the calf hutch that we are not using, and last night put a bag of clean shavings in there, and rigged up a roost for him to sleep on. At dusk, when the birds went into the coop, I picked him up and carried him gently to his new digs.  I thought a little solitary confinement for the boy would give the hens a chance to rest up and let their feathers come in.

This morning, armed with bowls of food and water, I went out to give the unwilling prisoner his breakfast. I cracked the door open and he hit it with every bit of force he had... and blew right past me, crowing in delight.

He proceeded to make whoopie with his favorite hens.  I'll try again tonight.  Hopefully I will be able to outsmart the clucker.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Fall moves me. Literally. I go into nesting mode in a big way.  Furniture gets moved from room to room. Baseboards get scrubbed on bended knee. My vacuum cleaner gets a work out.

This weekend I decided my kitchen was too crowded. I love my kitchen, but it had too much furniture. One thing I didn't need, but love, is the wee little hutch my mother gave me.  I didn't want to put it in the no mans land of the garage, so I found it a new home in my grooming studio.  I like it there.

Today I had the day off, with a physical therapy appointment at 10:00.  It's a 30 minute drive to that appointment, so I had to leave here at 9:30.  I got up early, cooked breakfast for Chris then headed out to do chores.  I hauled hay, freshened water, fed everyone. milked goats.  Bravo trailed along every step of the way, a happy little spirit.  He brings a toy, and I toss it a thousand times.
He runs to fetch it, then tosses it in the air, over and over, running with the sheer joy of being alive. It's contagious.

The morning was cool and crisp and lovely.  Canada geese v'd overhead, calling their lonesome song. It was so fine I didn't want to go back inside. So I cleaned the pony shed, hauling out all the old shavings and replacing them with fresh, fragrant ones. I swept down the spider webs that spring up overnight. I raked the area in front of the shed.  Then I cleaned the bunny hutch, and filled their food and water. I brought them an apple and some dandelion greens.  Next I cleaned the Silkie's wee coop. I even washed the window. Three times.

It looked so pretty I stood back to take a picture.  Ella photo bombed!

While I was in the midst of this cleaning frenzy, I cleaned out the big coop, too.  I washed those windows as well.

I even hung a wreath on their door.  Something simple,tasteful. It's a little crooked and needs a bow, but the birds have not complained.

I figured I'd better check the time, as I surely needed a shower before I headed out.  It was 8:45. All that work done, and done well, and I had plenty of time to shower, get dressed and head out.  I was pretty pleased with myself.  After months of feeling like something less than normal, it felt great to be back in my own little groove. Shavings in my shoes, sweat on my brow, and clean animal housing in my wake.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

After death- new life...

Yesterday I sadly posted about the death of a little Silky chick.

This morning when I went out to feed the stock I saw little Mr. Abbott, looking quite innocent.
And the young lady rabbits, eager for breakfast.
And then I opened the sleeping area door and saw a pile of white fluff. And under the fluff there was movement.
I did a quick count, and I THINK there are seven wee new bunnies snuggled there.  Each about as long as my thumb, round and warm and sweet.  I covered them back up and tiptoed away softly.

Sweet new life at FairWinds.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Hard lessons...

Sometimes life on a farmlette is rife with difficulties.

A few weeks ago one of my sweet Silky hens hatched out two wee, fluffy,white chicks.  A while later I noticed that one of the chicks had what is called a "cross bill."  It's little beak was deformed, the bottom half jutting out to the right instead of being centered under the top bill.
I should have put the little thing down when I saw this, but it seemed to be eating and drinking, and was keeping up with it's mama and clutch mate.  It grew and seemed ok, until the last few days.  I cooked it some soft food... rice and scrambled eggs, and it ate. But the beak was worse as it grew. I knew what I should do, but the thought of killing that wee tiny thing just didn't set well with me, and I comforted myself with the thought, "Where there is life there's hope." 

Yesterday I found her little body in the grass.  She was very thin, and I feel terrible. I should have put her down.  Sometimes nature is cruel. I wanted to avoid being cruel myself, and instead left that innocent to die a lingering death.  Hard lesson learned.  

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Puppy fun...

Bravo has been through three courses of basic obedience classes, starting when he was 8 weeks old.  He is tremendously fun to train. Not only is he smart, learning new things quickly, but he is just so happy about the whole thing.

Today was our second week at "Wag It Games," class.  Dogs learn how to do a variety of things, and then later we will put it all together to have some good times.  Chris came to class today with the camera and caught a few nice shots of the boy at work.

The other dogs in class today were a Briard, a Brittany Spaniel and a Kerry Blue Terrier.
We practiced navigating the ladder obstacle.

Going through hoops in a predetermined pattern.

Going to and laying on a mat on command.

And some super fun "sniff it," scent discrimination games.

There was time for a kiss and a cuddle, too...

Afterwards we took him for a short walk on the beach. The waves scared him a little. We will try again another time.  Then we got him a little cup of vanilla ice cream. That didn't frighten him a bit.  Such a good puppy.  I can't wait to see what other fun things we will learn to do together.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A little help from a friend...

Though my injured shoulder is mending, there are still things I cannot do, and things I sort of can do but am not supposed to, according to my physical therapist.  Gardening is difficult.  I needed to weed, which involves pulling, and mulch, which involves lifting heavy things (50 pound bags.) I also needed to do things that involve digging and hoeing and pruning and other chores that really require two good arms.

Lucky for me I have a friend who is a gardening whiz.

She is so kind, and agreed to come help me out.  First thing this morning, when I was still in my PJ's and enjoying breakfast, she was here.  Bright eyed and vibrating with energy, she went right to work. In 5 hours she weeded, pruned, dug, raked, mulched, hauled and made things pretty.

She works with amazing speed and accuracy. Best of all, she seems to tackle the projects that are most important to me, without me saying a word. And she does things just exactly like I wish I could, only better.

 In no time she realized that any plants she pulled or cut would be welcomed by the goats.  HUGE armfuls of hosta and apple branches, spent sunflowers and weeds were carried to the fence and tossed over.

It was a happy day.  My yard looks prettier, my work load is lessened, and my goats are full of delicious treats.  I am so grateful for friends.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Sweet sorrow...

Last night Dutch had another seizure.  Bravo pup woke me up to tell me about it. My husband hopped out of bed and sat cross legged on the floor, cradling her convulsing body tenderly in his big arms.  I thought for the millionth time how lucky I am to have a man like that.

When the seizure was over, Dutch stumbled around the room for a long time, pressing her head on the wall, acting is if she were blind. Two different veterinarians suggested that she most probably was experiencing symptoms of a brain tumor.  I made the decision to have her euthanized today.  It is never an easy choice, but seeing her confused and perhaps in pain made the decision a bit easier.

I gave her a big breakfast. The dog loved to eat.  Then I gave her some pain medication. She spent the morning doing this...

On hot days she would eschew her selection of squishy beds and lie upside down propped up against the dining room wall. This put her in close proximity to the kitchen door. We were prone to slipping her a cookie when we walked past, a habit that delighted her.

We brushed her and put a new pink bandanna around her neck.  She enjoyed the attention. Her previous owner came by with the two dogs Dutch used to live with.  Dutch was happy to see all of them, wagging her tail and walking her voluptuous, swaying, walk.  I gave her a rack of pork ribs for a treat.  She enjoyed every morsel.

When we got to the Vet's office she seemed calm and happy.  In the examine room she greeted the sweet vet tech, then fell over in another seizure.   This helped me know my decision was the right one.

They sedated her. Relaxed and sleepy she took her last breath in Rachel's arms.  I brought Flirt with us, so she would know her friend was gone, the two of them had a special relationship. It was clear that they enjoyed each others company. Flirt took it all in, looked directly in my eyes when Dutch died, then sighed deeply and laid her head on my chest.

We took Dutch's body back to the home where she spent most of her life, and they buried her near some old friends.  We each drank a glass of champagne, toasting the life of a very, very good girl. We have never known a sweeter dog, or one more well behaved.  She had a long and happy life, blessed for the most part, with good health.  In her youth she spent happy times running through the woods and fields, and swimming to her hearts content in the river. In old age she spent long hours lounging in front of the wood stove or sunning on the deck.  All in all she was a lucky dog.

Most of all, we were lucky to have her, but wish she'd been able to stay a little longer. Farewell, Dutch... thanks for everything.

Monday, September 5, 2016


When you have a bunch of animals there are always projects to be done.  One task I've been wanting to tackle for a while is to do something about the front of the chicken coop.  Between human foot traffic and the activities of the hens, the area in front of the coop is hard packed dirt where nothing grows except a few straggly weeds. Not only is it unattractive, but when it rains it becomes amazingly slippery.  I've fallen on my butt more than once in this area. I developed a plan.  And today Chris and Rachel, (with a tiny bit of help from me) put the plan in place.

Here is what the area looked like before...

My plan was to haul some rocks that were lying hither and yon to the hen yard and arrange them where the dirt meets the herbage.  I dug a little bit of a trench at that junction, and Chris collected rocks.  The second part of my plan was to lay some mulch down over the dirt. My thought was that it would give me better footing when things get slippery. And if there is just a bit of snow or ice (not deep stuff) the dark mulch will help it melt faster. Bonus points, it would all look so much nicer. We found a super hot deal on some mulch ($2 a bag!) and hauled a truck load home.

It looks so fine that I now I need to sand and paint the steps. See what I mean about projects? The hens checked out the updates and looked approving.  I'm waiting for them to suggest paint colors for those stairs.

We accomplished some other projects as well.  Fixed a bit of fence, mowed the back yard.  I managed to aggravate some wasps or hornets or something while we were doing chores and they made their displeasure very clear to me, in a painful way.

Chris and Rachel took down some old fence and laid it on the ground, staking it flat. Then they moved the calf hutches on top of it. These will house rabbits and not allow them to dig out. We moved two rabbits into one hutch and they seem quite pleased with the set up.  I cleaned the pony shed, (by myself! Something I really missed doing when I was working with only one arm.)

And THEN Rachel and I trimmed all the goats hooves and wormed them.  We got very warm and quite dirty doing all this, and decided to take a dip when we were done.  By the time we got to the pond a cool breeze had started up.  And that water?  It was a whole lot more chilly than it was a week ago.  We chickened out and came home.

But later, sipping a glass of wine at the picnic table, it was a delight to look around and see the good work we had done.  I do love a day when projects are completed.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Celebrating fall...

I love fall. I am especially looking forward to this autumn because my summer was pretty much a bust after my shoulder injury.  It feels like a new beginning as the change of season coincides with my feeling better.

So today we did a little celebrating the season.  Chris, Rachel, her friend Emma and I went to Beth's farm stand.  It was a feast for the eyes; a sea of chrysanthemums, pumpkins, squash of every imaginable kind, gourds and corn shocks.  It's like all the most wonderful things of fall displayed in one pretty place.  I loaded up with lovely things.

When I got home I made a centerpiece that is mostly all edible.  And pretty.

We put a mess of tomatoes and other veggies in the big counter cooker and started making a years worth of sauce.  It takes a while to do, but OH! it makes the house smell so fine.

Meanwhile, we had heated up some of last seasons sauce, and Rachel tried her hand at making pasta for the first time.  My sweet cousin Christin oh-so-generously sent me her well loved pasta maker as she no longer uses it.

 The pasta maker worked perfectly!

Bravo was most interested to see food hanging at puppy face level.  

Too bad for him we didn't share.  It was delicious! So much better than dried, boring, store bought could ever hope to be.
Later in the day Chris and I headed off to the beach.  The day was lovely, but we both agreed we could feel a change in the air.  Fall. It's coming.  And I'm glad.

Saturday, September 3, 2016


As the sun sets on this week I look back at it with much gratitude.  There have been beautiful sunsets every night, lovely blessings to celebrate some most excellent days.
Monday I got the call that the book I co-wrote with my friend has been printed and is available for sale.  Something funny happens when I write, as soon as I send the words off to be printed in a magazine (or a BOOK!) I pretty much forget what I have written.  Once someone called me to discuss an article I had written. There is a 3 month lag between the time an article is due and the time it hits the presses.  The woman who called me had just received the magazine I had written the article for months before. I literally had no memory of it, and was convinced she had the wrong person! So, when I saw the picture of the book with my name on the cover, I was thrilled and excited and had no memory of what we'd sent to be inside the cover.

A few days later my very own copy arrived via UPS and I was even happier.  Every page I turned was a fun surprise.

Tuesday I drove to Portland to see the shoulder doctor.  He was quite pleased with my progress and told me to go away and not come back unless I had some painful new developments, which he does not expect I will. I really like this doctor, but hope I never see him again.

Wednesday I managed to groom ten little dogs in my studio... all by myself.  That was too many and I wished I hadn't scheduled the way I did, but I was still delighted that I was able to do it.

Thursday and Friday Rachel and I worked together and had pleasant days.  We even managed to get in a visit to our favorite little farmers market on Friday.

Bravo began doing something that delights me this week, too.  Every morning I milk the goats, and he normally sits outside and watches.  This week he began joining me as I milk, resting his sweet chin on my knee and gazing up at me during the pleasant milking time.  It makes it all just that much sweeter.

Today Chris and I spent a pleasant day together, and tonight I managed to catch ...

the runaway bunny.  This girl had dug out of her lovely enclosure and had been on the loose for over a week.  She stayed nimbly out of the reach of my net, and flaunted her cute little self all over the yard.  I had set a trap for her which she avoided, until tonight.  Now she is safely locked up with plenty of food and water and away from any predators that might like to snack on her.  I will sleep well tonight!

Books and bunnies, pretty weather and good medical news. It's been a lovely little week.