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Farm Fresh Blog
Wednesday, November 28 2012
I almost snorted frappuccino through my nose when I read a post on Facebook by Daughter and couldn't resist sharing it with you...
They have recently moved their family from the suburbs to the country and are currently raising baby chicks in their garage.
When her father and I were there for Thanksgiving, the chicks were getting pretty big and the family was hustling to get their "chicken tractor" built so they could explore the great outdoors.
But as we have discussed earlier, the problem with real farms, as opposed to "Farmville," is that REAL farms are in the COUNTRY and thus REAL farms come with Predators. And so it was that a hawk found its way into the garage with the baby chicks. Yes, according the Facebook report, chaos ensued. (I laughed my ass off.)
I want you to imagine a young mother trying to chase a confused hawk out of her garage, while her toddler is busy tossing chicks into the house to protect them from the hawk. (The mental picture literally had me falling out of my chair with laughter.)
Fortunately the mission was a success and there were no casualties. And naturally, this was a stellar "teachable moment". Lilah was later quizing her mother on hawks and asked, "Are hawks 'turnal' or 'not turnal?"
Nothing against the Discovery Channel, but few things quite illustrate the Food Chain and the Circle of Life better than a hawk chasing chickens in your garage. I'm just sayin'.
Saturday, November 24 2012
I watched the National Dog Show last night. They say people who have dogs are healthier. I'm not sure if dogs make us healthier, but they certainly enrich our lives. On the other hand, some dogs are definitely medicinal. Take for instance, this dog:
His coat is soft and plush, much like an otter or a beaver, in short, he is extremely 'pettable'. Is that a word? If not, it should be. And beside the definition in Webster's dictionary, they should have a picture of this dog, with a little arrow pointing toward his ears.
Yes indeed, Dillon's ears can lower your blood pressure. If I ever stroke out, it will be at work, not at home when Dillon's ears are within reach. I have
As a dog trainer, I know all the reported evils of allowing "unsolicited, unearned" petting of your dog. My answer to this is "horse hockey." I pet my dogs when I want to pet my dogs. It pleases me and them. If it became a problem, then I'd stop, but until then, bring on Dillon's ears.
Which brings us to last night. Other Half got food poisoning. (and that, Dear Friends, is why you shouldn't let your husband buy discount chicken from the grocery store!) One thing became quite obvious last night: Dillon is a 65 lb heating pad and is quite happy to be used as one.
So not only is this a good hunting dog,
and a promising cadaver dog,
and great with kids,
he is also a very good dog to keep in your medicine cabinet, for stomach cramps, high blood pressure, head aches, and whatever else ails ya!
Thursday, November 22 2012
This month many Facebook users began a project that I found particularly interesting. They challenged themselves to post one thing daily that they are thankful for in life. Like myself, many would skip a few days, and then make up for it later by posting multiple thank yous. The point was that the exercise forced us all to sit down and think about the gifts we enjoy.
I've posted this quote before, but it's certainly worth another go-round:
"What if, when you woke up this morning,
the only things you had left,
were the things you thanked God for the night before?"
Wednesday, November 21 2012
The older I get, the more I realize I can make do with less stuff. Merging my farm with Other Half's ranch forced me to downsize once. Moving to North Texas will force us to downsize again. Although we will ultimately build a "barndominium", in the mean time we are living in a cabin when we're up there, and it's filling up fast!
Because space is at a premium, and money is always tight, we want to either re-purpose things we already have, or only buy new things that have multiple purposes. For instance, look at this Bad-Boy! We found it last week!
It's a chuckwagon cabinet!
We found it in a local Sutherland's lumber store. It has shelves with a table/counter that folds down/up. It also comes with 3 little stools that fit underneath it. I was beside myself with delight!
The three stools can actually slide into a groved area under the cabinet, but we use that area for storage.
Here it is all folded up. Look how much space it doesn't take up! Other Half bought a small sheet of stainless steel to screw onto the table so that he could roll out biscuits or use as a hot plate. And here's the best part: the chuckwagon cabinet (with stools) was only $411!!! How cool is THAT!??
Tuesday, November 20 2012
Remember my precious little puppy from a few years ago?
What a cutie!
Well this little rascal has grown up to become a troll. He is a resource-guarding-dog-aggressive-son-of-a-buck. Fortunately he confines his ill manners to his pack members and is quite sweet with humans. In fact, if he were an "only dog" you wouldn't have a clue what an evil-tempered beast lurks beneath the smiling exterior.
But The Beast does indeed lurk. Other Half simply adores the Little Troll.
Note that Troll rides up front.
Other dogs ride ON THE BACK, but not Troll. He rides on the gas tank, peeking over the handle bars, like a tiny Hell's Angel.
So while the other dogs run along ON THE GROUND with me, Troll and Daddy ride ahead, looking for hogs, checking feeders, and checking game cameras. And all the while this song plays in the background . . .
"Bad To The Bone!"
Monday, November 19 2012
Our "driveway" into the ranch requires you to go down a bumpy dirt road with pot holes large enough to eat compact cars for breakfast. You must open three gates and cross a cattle guard. For those who don't know what a cattle guard is, I want you to imagine a little guard shack set up beside the road where a livestock inspector checks the papers of all bovine visitors and stamps their passports. No . . . it's not that!
Gotcha goin' there though didn't I? I make this joke because I thought everyone knew what a cattle guard was until my city-raised sergeant threw up question marks and other members of our crew had a little fun at his expense. Fortunately he has a good sense of humor, and now will never forget what a cattle guard is.
A cattle guard is a series of heavy bars set over a shallow "ditch," arranged in such a manner that a vehicle can roll right over it, but a cow or horse (although I sure wouldn't trust a horse) will not want to walk over it because they fear falling through the bars. The whole thing is one big contraption that is just set into the roadway at a fence gap so you don't have to get out and open gates; you can just drive right over it. A determined horse (Montoya!) should never be trusted around such a contraption as it could result in a broken leg, but cattle seem to respect it quite well.
I generally like the cattle guard crossing because "I" am the resident gate opener and it relieves me of the burden of opening and closing a gate. Our cattle guard is also in a really pretty stretch of hardwoods. Now this phrase often goes hand in hand with another word - copperheads.
"Really pretty stretch of hardwoods" = "Copperheads"
Never forget that fact.
Forgive the quality of picture, but the snake was alive, and the picture was taken with my cell phone while leaning across Other Half, who was still sitting in the driver's seat of the pickup.
Other Half spotted this copperhead as we were driving across the cattle guard. He stopped the truck to
Other Half is not burdened by my soft-hearted "Live & Let Live" attitude and immediately got a metal t-post out of the bed of the truck and proceeded to assault and batter the poor snake. Now even though I knew it had to be done, I still felt bad . . . until . . .
I felt bad until I talked to the neighbor who walks down that road regularly. He reported that he had been bitten twice that weekend. Fortunately he was wearing snake leggings.
Okie dokie then . . . Goodbye Snake.
Why, you ask, did Other Half beat him to death when it goes without saying that we had multiple firearms in the truck? Other Half is a considerate hunter and he spotted the snake shortly before dusk when he knew hunters were setting up. He didn't want to fire off shots and thus risk alarming deer in the area. Me? Screw the hunters, I'd have shot the damned snake.
Sunday, November 18 2012
We just returned from a nice extended stay at the ranch in North Texas. Even though it's still unfinished inside, we moved into the cabin. A cold front moved in and we went through a lot of cord wood in the woodburning stove. It would help if we had finished out all the insulation, but everything in due time. It seems that no matter how much time we spend up there, it's never enough to get everything done, so we adjust.
* We get really decent cell phone reception in the cabin! (2 or 3 bars!)
* Electricity is wonderful. You haven't experienced true love until you spy those electric poles in the ground. Yes, yes, I do still want to go solar too, but there's something about electrical plugs that work which just makes my heart go pitty-pat.
* Mesquite wood is not only plentiful, but burns really hot in a stove. Our woodburning stove also has 4 burners and most meals were cooked inside. It can get quite toasty even in an un-insulated cabin.
* Yes, mesquite wood does burn hot . . . as long as someone is awake to put the wood into the stove. When both persons stay underneath warm down-filled sleeping bags, not even the brightest of dogs can be convinced to put more wood on the fire.
* And speaking of wood piles and bright dogs. Do you know what an indoor well-stocked wood pile is to a Labrador? A toy box. I'm just sayin'.
* Copperheads. Freakin' copperheads. Did you know that despite the fact that it got down below freezing at night, when temps warm during the day, the little red bastards come out? We killed two this weekend. Other Half beat one to death with a metal t-post. I was most alarmed to discover that when I thought it was too cold for snakes to be out, this snake was quite fast and very un-sluggish. Thankfully no grandchildren or dogs were hurt.
The kids and grandkids were up the first weekend and it's always a delight to see the world through the eyes of a toddler.
This would be 'a clue' to the wily horse. Fortunately, Joe is easy to catch, and Grandpa finally caught Scout, who later decided that this was indeed, his kind of work.
Kids loaded on ponies.
Kid soon unloaded from pony. Apparently feeding ponies is much more entertaining than riding ponies. This was fine with the pony too.
But other members of the family have decided that they are ready to ride the big horses now.
This is a determined little girl. This horse who doesn't like to be caught may have met his match in this child.
And when she was finished with one horse, she loaded up on the other one. This pony is a little more her speed anyway. He seems to genuinely enjoy the company of people.
When she dismounted, Lilah made sure to thank Joe and Scout for their time. Scout shrugged and walked off, but Joe stayed to hang out. He's a good horse. (Joe knows that he is the 4th horse in a 3 stall barn. He's making sure that one of those stalls has HIS name on it.)
And true to form, on that morning I found this at my feet.
Not only do we have lots of turkey, we have quite a few hawks and they have finally given the property a name. Other Half decided that the ranch needed a new name that combined my farm with his cattle ranch. The very first day I photographed the place before we put a bid on it, I found a hawk's feather at my feet, and that was my sign that this was "the one."
So when we needed a new name for the property, we decided upon the Red Feather Ranch.
Monday, November 05 2012
I study the calendar in amazement. Where did October go?!! The holidays are looming and I have soap orders to fill.
Making soap can be quite time-consuming. Each batch makes 7 lbs of soap. Each batch takes approximately an hour to make. I have enough molds for three batches at a time. This effectively eats up most of a day. I have been steadily making soap, drying soap, packaging soap, and delivering soap each weekend in October and the orders keep coming in. Like me, I suppose everyone else is staring at calendar pages flying away.
Last weekend I had the brilliant (it seemed like a good idea at the time) idea of combining my one day a week of horseback riding with soap deliveries. Since many of my orders are coming from horsewomen anyway, we can ride horses, and then exchange soap for money.
What's not to love? So I made arrangements LAST weekend to drop off soap THIS weekend.
Now this sounded good on the surface, but the best laid plans of "mice and men" and women who multi-task . . .
So let's take a quick tally of tasks I planned yesterday:
1) deliver soap
SCREECH! Joe's physical therapy session! I forgot about it until Saturday afternoon when Dear Friend Ken called. Ken, who is not only a Rocket Scientist is also a licensed massage therapist who specializes in equine sports massage and trigger point therapy. ( http://www.texasanimalmassage.com/ )
It had come to my attention that Joe's saddle regularly leans to the left. Hmmmm . . .
This caused me to note that his left shoulder is much more developed than his right shoulder. Hmmmm . . .
Closer inspection reveals that Joe's spine is not properly aligned. Hmmmm . . .
Yeah, that makes sense. That would explain why a horse as sweet and well-trained as Joe was dumped from a career as a playday horse for children into a retirement home with a 5 year old child who didn't ride him much. Since I've just ridden him on slow easy trail rides, I've never seen a problem with him, but nevertheless, now that I know Mr. Joe HAS a problem, I feel compelled to help him. So I set up an appointment with Dear Friend Ken . . . who called Saturday to confirm our appointment . . . which I had forgotten about. Soooo . . . I decided to scrap riding Scout and ride Joe instead. (no big loss there!)
Updated plan: Take Joe to park. Sell soap. Ride Joe. Have Joe's physical therapy in park after ride.
It sounded good . . . except for the 40% chance of rain.
Now as any farmer will tell you, weather is a fickle thing, and even on the best day, farming and ranching is a gamble. For instance, Other Half spent time on a tractor and big bucks on rye seed for a winter pasture only to have any chance of rain whisk away with the clouds right after the seed was broadcast. Thus, I didn't take this 40% chance of rain seriously. I figured that either way, I win. If my ride got rained out, I could still sell soap, and we'd at least get rain on the rye seed. Sometime we have to hunt for the silver lining in the clouds.
And so it was that this morning I happily loaded up the truck with soap, loaded Joe in the trailer, and tooled down the road . . . straight into the rain. It was rainin' harder than a cow pissin' on a flat rock. Joe and I sat in the parking lot and watched it rain. Naturally, we got there early . . . an hour early, so Joe and I had an hour to watch it rain. And rain it did. And rain. And I drank an entire frappuccino while I watched it rain.
The nice thing about our horse trailer is that
As soon as the rain eased a bit, I started moving soap from the truck to the horse trailer
And despite the fact that I was showcasing beautiful, decadent, luxurious soap in a dirty horse trailer with horse poop and hay all over the floor (or because of it), the soap sold. Everyone was happy. The air was filled with the odor of
And suddenly the world which had been spinning so fast finally slowed down, and I took some time to breathe. Dear Friend Ken and Joe had a wonderful session and in a very short time he, (Joe not Ken), was yawning and leaning into his therapist. In fact, Joe had such a good time that he had an uncharacteristic brain fart and decided that he didn't want to get in the trailer for the trip back home. And why should he? At the park he had hay, horsey friends, and a therapist who feeds him peppermints. What's not to love?
After much cajoling, I was finally forced to break out the "rod of obedience" and Joe reluctantly agreed after one tap that perhaps it was in his best interest to load up. Although we missed our ride, we arrived home with money in our pocket, hugs from old friends and new friends, and blue skies . . . really, really blue skies - and a still dusty pasture. What the heck?!!
Apparently the rain that soaked me, and the horse, and the park, and had left rivers coursing through the parking lot, had rained itself out before it hit my pastures. Grrrrrr . . . Good grief.
Oh well, at least I learned that Joe is excellent company when you're stuck together in a horse trailer in the pouring rain.