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Farm Fresh Blog
Friday, July 29 2011
AND . . . feed the farm animals, feed the dogs, realize I've packed the coffee maker so no homemade frappuccino will be in the bare refrigerator! (but each morning I will still check. Perhaps this is the day the Frappuccino Fairy will leave me a present!) I am on a rapidly spinning carousel that threatens to lift off like a space ship.
Each morning I step out the door to the sound of sheep screaming, goats hollering, and horses neighing. Dogs bark as they race up and down the fence line, escorting sheep to the barn. The combined shrieks echo in my head, bouncing off thoughts that already crowd my mind like commuters on a bus.
I shovel grain to the horses, flip some token alfalfa pellets to the sheep, and toss goat grain into troughs. My dairy goat climbs onto her stand, thrusts her head in the bucket, and suddenly . . . there is peace.
I straddle the bench behind her and place the bucket underneath her udder. Her teats are warm in my hands and soon the rhythmic squirt-squirt makes its metallic ring. And for a short time there is peace. Throughout the barn screams have been replaced by the soothing sound of grinding teeth. And so it goes, the rhythm of peace -
squirt/squirt/grind/grind/squirt/squirt/grind/grind . . .
I lay my head against her flank, thankful for a moment of peace among the crashing waves of insanity. While moving an entire farm may drive you crazy, milking a goat can bring you back into the now, and remind you why you keep all these animals. They are cheaper than therapists . . . but much louder.
"Welcome Bi-Ped, come lie down on my couch . . . "
Monday, July 25 2011
Eegaads! Moving sucks! Building fence in July sucks! Yard sales suck!
But . . . this is all an exercise in logistics:
We need to sell House #1 to buy Ranch #3.
We cannot sell House #1 until the Realtor puts it on market.
We must move everything and DOGS to House #2 before Realtor shows House #1.
We must build fence around front and back yard of House #2 BEFORE we bring dogs over.
And we must do ALL this BEFORE someone else snaps up Ranch #3!!!
And THAT is why I milked the goat this morning and left the barn and forgot the poor dairy goat locked on her milking stand. An hour later I heard a familiar metallic banging from inside the house and found the poor thing with her head still locked in the bars. She has forgiven me. I haven't forgiven myself . . .
"Oh Human! Get with the program!"
Wednesday, July 20 2011
This is me this week!
Sort through 20+ years of accumulated "stuff" to figure out what to move, what to sell, and what to trash. Move 20+ years of accumulated "stuff" into a house that won't hold it all. Put Dog Fencing around front and back yards of House #2. Put Goat fencing behind Barn #2. Get House #1 ready for Realtor to show . . . and do this all while juggling 7 dogs!
And THAT'S my only defense for why I left the water hose running when I went to work yesterday. (for 12 freakin' hours!)
Yes!!! Texas is in the worst drought in 40 years and for 12 hours I filled the sheep trough . . . and the sheep yard . . . and the back yard . . . sigh . . .
Friends and Neighbors,
there is not enough caffeine in the state of Texas!
Friday, July 15 2011
While searching through old documents, I stumbled upon these little faces. Look familiar?
The Perfect Puppy
No, seriously . . .
Lily was the perfect little puppy who grew into the Perfect Dog. Feel free to barf now. Other Half wants to barf every time I inform him that Lily is THE perfect dog.
Ranger . . .
. . . was also perfect!
He was a perfect psycho. But we loved him. And still do. And he's still a psycho. Ask anyone who knows him. But he's my psycho. My little monster.
Speaking of monsters . . .
. . . remember this little monster?!!
Who could resist this little face?
Which leads us to the real monster in the family!
Who would bring home such an ugly little creature?!!!
How 'bout this one?
Can't place him? No?
Look again . . .
I just love looking at baby pictures . . .
Friday, July 15 2011
Not a word was said about it. . . at the time. Years later we still fall over in laughter. But the point is, I was raised to put your best foot forward and march on. That's what makes this morning all the more embarrassing.
I had just finished my barn chores and was on the phone with a goat friend who was regaling me with the comedy-drama of having a sheep get out of her truck while at a stop light. (Don't worry, Happy ending!) And that's when my adventure started . . .
Am absorbed in vicarious adventure of chasing sheep at a major traffic intersection, when all hell breaks loose in my front yard. Peek out front window. Uh oh! Water Well guy is here. (Water well guy was supposed to be here three days ago.) Alrighty then! Step into yard and call Big White Wet Dog who has cleared fence like a gazelle and is threatening Water Well Guy.
(She jumps this fence with ease!)
Call dog. Dog ignores me. Call dog again. Dog continues to ignore me. Shout at Big White Dog. Dog continues to ignore me. Scream like a Fishmonger's Wife. Deaf Dog Ears. Remind myself that Big White Dog is NOT a Border Collie and head across yard to retrieve her.
Problem: Current attire - gray gym shorts, baggy t-shirt, flip-flops, no bra. Hair in pony tail. Have just finished milking goat. Goat milk is still between my fingers. Alfalfa hay is stuck to the sweat on my face. Dusty Hobbit feet. Neon white legs. Yes, Friends and Neighbors, I am ready for the cover of People Magazine!
And here I am, desperate to get in the house and change before greeting these people and my Freakin' Big White Dawg won't come when she's called! So . . . I must slink out and get her. At this point, the men are out of the truck and she has decided that they are her new best friends. I grab her and begin to haul her dumb ass to the house. Briar puts on the brakes. NO! New Friends are here! I must now bend over and wrestle, in a baggy t-shirt, with no bra, a large wet dog who has absolutely no intention of leaving her new best friends. I get her half way to the gate and she is learning how to back out of her collar. Adjust grip. Plant Flip-Flop Feet deep in dust and continue to haul Beast across yard. Am painfully aware of the picture I present. (Again, not our finest hour!)
FINALLY get Beast hauled to back gate. Proceed to stuff her Big White Butt through gate. Must let go of Beast in order to lock gate behind me so Dogs Who Actually Bite do not stream out and get to main gate. The Plan is to drag Beast onto back porch and lock her in a kennel. That was The Plan. What actually happened was that as soon as I let go of collar, Big White Beast launches herself like the Space Shuttle. Over the fence she springs. She gallops back to the main gate, grinning at her New Friends.
"Yeah, but she's WET!"
"That's okay. She'll be fine."
And with that, they walk into the main gate and greet Briar! I grab Blue Heeler who immediately launches into an apoplectic fit at the idea of trespassers behind the gate. I then shuttle he and Black Wolf into kennel and the Border Collies into front yard. (and put on a bra!) I return to find that they have found the water well on their own and Briar, bored now, has already moved back to her rams. WTF?!!
That's when I have a moment of self-examination. I breathe. I look down at my neon white legs, my dirty Hobbit Feet, and the goat milk between my fingers. And I realize that this is a "Flip-Flop-Doggy-Doo Moment." I can choose to put a bucket over my head and slink off into the house, never coming into public again, or I can take a deep breath and face those men.
Let me know when it's safe to take the bucket off my head. . .
Wednesday, July 13 2011
How, oh how, is this creature still alive?
Every morning at 6:30 am, this little rascal is tapping his Reveille at the window. You'd think the barn cats would have gotten him by now. (not that I want them to!) Other Half, on the other hand, has about had it with our peeping tom. (remember, he works night shift) Just about the time he is getting to sleep, someone starts tapping out a Morse code on the bedroom window.
I have christened this "Summer of the Cardinal."
Please ignore the dirty windows. For some reason, in addition to the normal dirt, I have bird slobber on them. (Do birds have slobber?)
Tuesday, July 12 2011
Since with the addition of the "retirement ranch" we simply cannot maintain three properties, so we have finally made the difficult decision to consolidate farms. Therefore ALL the animals need to move to one property. (Eeegaads!) This simply isn't possible, so we must let go of some sheep and cattle. And even though we've already cut down numbers for the drought, we have to be realistic and cut down some more. This translates to a lot of leaning over the fence, assessing who stays and who goes. We cuss and discuss temperament, productivity and the importance of being objective.
The problem is . . .
. . . I'm not very good at being objective.
I just can't seem to bring myself to sell this ewe. She doesn't keep weight as well as the others, and her babies aren't any bigger than the other babies. Most of the other sheep are just sheep, but this ewe is different. And so . . .
But then . . . since a sheep alone is an unhappy creature, I need to select one or two "friends" to come with her. Do you see how this plays out? One extra sheep becomes two or three. But Other Half has no leg to stand on, no room to gripe about my inability to be objective - for he has Killer.
Killer is a cockatiel. Year ago he found Killer wandering along the railroad tracks. Other Half picked him up and Killer promptly bit the sh*t out of him. Killer has been a Prisoner Of War since then. He sits in a cage in the living room, watching television, and staring out the window, dreaming of days when he was free - free to search for his own food, free to freeze to death, free to be eaten by hawks, but free nevertheless. Killer does not wish to make friends with his captors. There is no Stockholm Syndrome at work here. His best friend is his reflection in the mirror. His image is as grumpy as he is, but it doesn't eat his food, so he's okay with it.
I begged Other Half to find a proper bird home for Killer. He reluctantly agreed, but then, at the 11th hour, he backed out.
"I wanna keep Killer" he said.
And that's when I knew . . .
. . . I knew there would be no discussion over why I was keeping this lame ewe.
Saturday, July 09 2011
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. I lied to a cop. Well, not exactly. "Lie" is such a dirty word. Let's just say "I failed to be completely honest." Yeah, that sounds better.
You see, last night I had a run-in with 'tha law.' It went something like this . . .
At midnight I find myself driving down the road, (with three dogs in the truck), when I see red and blue lights in my rear-view mirror. Since I am on the phone with Other Half, I announce that "tha lawz dun got me!"
I know why. I know how this game is played. Years ago I worked with narcotics. I know how to troll for dope. I know how to run traffic while you're looking for bigger fish. Repeat after me: Probable cause!
In Cop Speak, we call that PC. Probable cause is your justification for stopping a vehicle.
Once the vehicle is stopped for a legitimate "law-breakin' offense," that puppy is yours! You can walk up, flashlight the dazed occupants inside and look for the signs that will lead you to something bigger.
It is a dangerous game, but can lead to big payoffs. Running traffic is like a warped game of Let's Make A Deal. Stopping a car on traffic is like choosing to look behind Door #3.
What's in this car? A Drunk? A teenager with a hooker? (Don't laugh. It's happened to me.) Or it could be big fish, like a drug smuggler, or a felony suspect. Remember Timothy McVeigh was stopped for a broken tail light! But I digress . . .
In the 'hood, if your car is not in pristine shape with everything working, inspection and registration current, etc, they say you are "ridin' dirty," because that's the PC the cop needs to pull you over for a closer look. And trust me, no one wants the cops to look closely at their vehicle. I'm a cop, married to a cop, and I still don't like it. Thus, when the red and blue lights popped on behind me, I knew it was because I was "ridin' dirty!"
And thus we continue our story . . .
I announce to Other Half that 'tha lawz' now have me because I am ridin' dirty. The right rear tail light has been out for . . . at least 3 months. (I KNOW! I KNOW! I keep forgetting it!) Anyway, I know why I am being stopped, and I'm a cop. And my husband knows exactly where I am and why I am being stopped, but still my heart is beating a bit faster. Why?
Well . . . have you ever been stopped on traffic with three loose dogs in the truck when you have a gun beside you, but a badge in a backpack in the back seat? Yeaaaaaahhhhhhh . . . (note to Self: Don't let this happen again.)
The spotlight in my rearview mirrors drown out my vision. Since I've been on the other side of that spotlight, it doesn't really bother me. This is a state trooper however. State Troopers work alone. People who work on dark county roads by themselves don't like to see guns anywhere but on their own hips. But then again, there's a solution for that!
A rabid Border Collie! Two rabid Border Collies! Two rabid Border Collies and a Blue Heeler!
Picture this - an innocent state trooper starts at the back, and walks along the passenger side of the vehicle to the front of the vehicle, and back down the driver's side of the vehicle, all the while flashlighting the interior. Friends and Neighbors, it was ugly.
My innocent Lily mutates into Cujo. She makes Ranger the Blue Heeler look like Ghandi. She follows that flashlight beam all the way around the vehicle. All that trooper sees is teeth and tonsils. I could have had 50 kilos of cocaine in that truck and it would have been neatly hidden underneath all that rage and slobber. She has her feet on the dash following the flashlight beam with her teeth! Holy crap, she even scares me.
Add to this ridiculous scene the screaming woman snarling "SHUT UP! SHUT UP! Get back!" and you have a pretty good idea of what the trooper saw. (It wasn't our finest hour. I'm just sayin'.)
I roll the window down a smidge and inform "tha law" that I was also "tha law" (thus not dangerous) and promise to produce a badge and ID to go with the gun. (that was hidden under a growling dog, but you should never really count on that . . .) After I snarl my beasts back into submisssion, I crawl out of the vehicle. The trooper then informs me that my tail light is out.
"REALLY??!!!" (Father, forgive me!)
"Yes M'am, come look at it."
"Oh, I believe you! Ohmygosh! You're RIGHT! My tail light IS out!" (Father, forgive me!)
The trooper then looks at my police ID and Driver license while I wallow in guilt and shame for deceiving "tha lawz." On the other hand, saying "Yeah, that sucker's been out for 3 months" just doesn't seem appropriate for the situation. I take my warning ticket with a measure of relief colored with a twinge of shame. I am now "on paper" for my crime.
I get back in the car and inform Lily that now Mommy is "on paper" and we have a record. She informs me that the dogs have discussed it as a group and have decided if things had turned ugly on the side of the road, they wouldn't be taken into custody, nor would they be taken alive. I offer that it was highly unlikely things would turn ugly from a broken tail light unless "my gang" escalated the situation by cussing at the cops. She allows as how that might be true, but since Trace is too young to spend any time in the doggy slammer, they weren't taking any chances. Point well taken.
I peer through the slobber and nose prints that coat my windshield as I pull back onto the highway and contemplate the poor trooper, teeth, tonsils and the sanity of someone who ride with beasts like that. It really wasn't our finest hour . . .
Friday, July 08 2011
Holy cow! I've clearly been falling behind! Since you asked for updates, here they are:
Zena the Former Police Dog . . .
. . . still lives with a delightful little old lady. She sleeps beside her bed, under the air conditioner. She is getting the beginnings of cataracts herself but is doing fine otherwise. They are wonderful companions for each other. Other Half hasn't visited Zena for fear of confusing the dog. He went to visit her daughter to get an update and Zena continues to be a very loved member of the family. That was a good match.
Marshal the Anatolian Shepherd Puppy . . .
. . . is the baby Livestock Guardian Dog who moved in with Dear Friend last Spring. He now has his own flock of sheep and has grown into a massive puppy. He is good with the sheep but still plays a little rough sometimes. He is becoming an excellent livestock guardian dog with a very big bark. I'll have to go over and get you some more recent pictures.
Ruby the Border Collie . . .
. . . is my puppy's littermate. Like Marshal, she has her own sheep (Marshal's sheep!) and has developed into a crackin' nice working dog. (She listens better than her brother who is just now discovering that there is no "I" in the word "teamwork.")
Stone the Belgian Tervuren . . .
. . . continues to be my mother's constant companion. Stone has chewed up a cell phone and at least one purse. He couldn't be more loved.
And last but not least - Briar!
Hellooooooo??!!! I said "and last but not least - Briar!"
"Oh! Let me find her!"
"There she is!"
"Wait! That's me!"
Briar continues to be my beloved goofball. She has grown into a hairy mountain who jumps fences like a gazelle. Fortunately she stays on the property.
The neighbors are a bit annoyed at her 6:45 am wake-up barking every morning but we have tracked it down to horseback riders with 2 dogs that rise early to beat the heat and jog down our road. There isn't much I can do about that. Briar is a guard dog. Guard dogs bark.
Since I got Briar I haven't lost any livestock to predators. She is good at her job. I sleep well at night knowing that she's on duty. She does sneak through the doggy door sometimes to sleep inside the air conditioning during the middle of the day. It is summer in Texas. Who can blame her?
Tuesday, July 05 2011
This weekend we did another whirlwind trip in search of ranch land. This one shows a great deal of promise.
Yes, yes, I know there's more to a ranch than beautiful scenery, but I just can't get past the rocks! This place is rich in history and I could hike it for hours. So can the dogs . . .
It was like being in a state park with no leash laws!
It has everything we want except a water well. The ranches around it have water wells, so God willing, we'll be able to find well water here too. I'd rather not drink out of the stock tanks or the creek. I'm a little fussy about my drinking water . . .
"Gee Ma, what's wrong with drinkin' out of the creek?"
Friday, July 01 2011
The grandbabies came to the farm today. Few things compare with seeing the world through the eyes of a child . . .
. . . from the back of a pony.
Brushing the Neigh-Neigh . . .
Milking the goat
"Cut the melon, Grandpa!"
MMMM . . . sweet melon on a hot day!
She has lots to teach her baby brother about life on a farm, and the first thing is . . .
. . . the pony!
Disclaimer: NO! Those were not my melons! As has been previously established, I can't grow anything. All melons and cherry tomatoes picked today by little fingers were grown next door by my mother! I will take credit for the pony though!