Monday, February 21, 2011

Divets, Leaks, and Floats - in that Order!

What a busy time it's been the last  3 days.  Since my horse Jack got out of the pasture and had a merry ole time running around the property late last week, we were left with lots of deep divets because the ground is so soft.  Lots of very deep gouges..... can we say tripping hazard?  So, I enlisted help from my daughter and grand daughter to help fill in the holes with sand.  Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full, shoveling sand, filling holes, stomping the holes after filling them with sand (that was my grand daughters job!), but we ran out of sand before we finished filling all the divets, so we didn't get to finish.  Oh well, that's for another day. 

Back at the beginning of December, right before our first freeze, I had some dirt work done on the paddock behind the barn. We've had a leak on the other side of the paddock fence ever since then, so either the tractor was so heavy it busted a pipe under ground, or we have a pipe running under one of the fence posts and the tractor hit the post causing a pipe to bust. My BB and I tried digging around to find the busted water pipe, but since the weather was freezing and the ground was hard, we couldn't get that job completed until this past weekend. Our water pressure was affected by the leak too. Not as strong as it could be. Also, a water leak creates a lot of mud and a lot of "where is the leak coming from" discussions. Boy, digging in mud is tough. We finally located the water pipe after a couple hours of digging....and wouldn't you know it! The pipe was right under the fence post that must have been hit with the tractor. It took us digging a few holes until we found the right location. The pipe was actually running through the cement used for the fence post! About 2 and a 1/2 feet under the fence post. So of course we had to remove the fence post first, which means we had to tear out a good portion of the fence mesh wire, and break concrete to get to the busted section of the pipe. When I say we were covered in mud, believe me! Sorry, there's no pics of all this because I was covered in mud... did I mention we were covered in mud? Anyway, after a few hours, we got the pipe repaired and the fence (somewhat) put back together. I gotta say, even though it was a tough chore, we feel relieved that our water is running at full strength again and this job is over!
The "before" shot of the water leak.  See the standing water?

Today was dental float day for Jack. For all the non-horsey people, that means he had a date with the dentist! First, the horse gets sedated. That's always fun to see....the animal gets so loopy from the sedation but does a magical job of somehow staying on their feet, but does some swaying sometimes. After a few minutes to let the medication take affect, the dentist then inserts a metal contraption into their mouths, lifts their head up through a rope looped over the barn roof rafter, then proceeds to turn on an electric dental filing machine. The dentist files the teeth back into an even and smooth form. A horse chews it's food from side to side causing the teeth to wear uneven and sometimes causing "hooks" or "points" on their teeth which can become quite painful to them. My horses teeth had a couple of points which caused a couple of mouth ulcers. Imagine having mouth ulcers in your mouth....might be a little painful eating right? All in all, Jack was a pretty good patient, and the procedure was uneventful. He eventually came out of his stupor and is now eating fine.

After the dentist left, I got out the old trusty wheelbarrow again and cleaned up the barn stalls of all the horse and donkey poop! After these last 3 days, I too am totally "pooped"! And my body is sore like you'd feel after a vigorous work out. Not that I ever go to a gym and work out.... I have my own gym called farm work!

I caught the fog rolling in Friday around dusk time.  It was really weird watching it coming on really fast.  I saw the donkeys standing in the field watching something intently and when I turned around, this is what I saw.  They were enthralled watching the fog roll over them.  In just under a minute, our whole property was covered in fog and the air became a lot cooler.  It was kind of creepy, but awesome at the same time!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wrong Side of the Fence

Yesterday morning when I went out to feed the animals, I was caught off guard.... something didn't look right.... hmmm, what is that standing in front of the barn?  Oh, that would be my horse Jack!  Why is Jack standing in front of the barn when he should be locked in the pasture that isn't in front of the barn?  The "in front of the barn that leads to my open yard, and the open driveway with no gate leading to the road"?  And more importantly, HOW did he get to the front of the barn when he most certainly SHOULDN'T have been in front of the barn?  So off I went to grab a lead to get him back into the pasture.  I thought, "Oh no, this isn't going to be pretty".  I was sure he would bolt on me because, afterall, the grass is much greener in front of the barn and I was sure he wouldn't go quietly.  But to my surprise, he patiently stood there waiting for me to walk into the barn, grab his lead and rope, slip it on, and walked like an angel to the pasture gate without a problem. 

Now that he was back in the safety of the pasture I needed to figure out why he was out.  I checked all the barn gates and pasture gates..... all were locked tight.  Hmmm, how in the world did he get out?  I couldn't find any way he could have gotten out.  Then I started following the hoof prints all around the property starting at the side of the pond:

(he should have been inside that fence on the right side of the picture)

All the way around the pond to the other side:

Through the front yard (it's mostly sand right now since I had a new septic system installed a few months ago)........

Finally, around the front of the house to the side pasture.  That's where I found it.... a portion of the cross fence between my unfenced front pasture and the back pasture was half way down due to a tree limb that had broken off and fallen on it.  It was down just enough for Jack to step over it and wander around the property.  He couldn't figure out how to get back into the pasture once he had wandered away from the downed fence.  I have no idea how long he was out, but he was in the barn before I went to bed.  By the looks of the prints all over the place, I have a feeling he was out for a while.  It scared me to think he could have easily wandered off the property and been hurt by a car or worse yet, hurt someone in the car.  So, off to the store I went to buy electric fencing materials to put up across the front pasture that wasn't fenced and he had wandered through.  I need to completely replace the cross fencing where he got out because it's all crap anyway.  Plus, fencing the front pasture allows me to get the animals off the back pasture for awhile to let it recover from winter feeding.  

I wasn't sure how to put up electric fencing by myself (my BB had to go to work), so I called a dear friend, and she brought another friend and her boyfriend, and within 2 hours we had the front pasture fenced.  I am so grateful I have generous friends that came to my rescue.  Here's the new fencing:

Jack in his new fenced in front pasture:

Me:  Jack, you sure caused me a panic.  Don't do that again, OK?

Jack:  Sorry Mom.  I just couldn't find a way to get back in before you caught me.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The End is In Sight

Just a quick post today.  My family has been going through a trying time for the last 14 months, but today that has ended in sweet relief.  Not going into details, but I will say that I am so relieved this is coming to a decidedly happy ending for all.  I hope no one ever has to go through what we all have been dealing with in the court system.  I am appalled at the obvious one sidedness of certain parties involved, cost of the courts, and attorney fees.  However, it is over and there will be no looking back, only moving forward.

So, I am wiped out emotionally today but tomorrow will be another day.  It was worth it for this sweet face.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Littlest Hen Grows Up

I am still around just in case anyone missed me for a day... yeah, all my followers I'm sure missed me! 
On Sunday, my BB loaded our updated version of anti-virus software since our old one was about to expire.  BUT, that dowload caused our computer to exceed it's daily allocation of downloads, so our internet account was frozen for 24 hours.  Leave it to however, since I only have the satellite option living in the boonies, that's what I have to live with.  Having no internet did give me an excuse to get out of the house and do some outside chores that have been neglected all winter.  The weather was perfect for working outside too!  I got some mowing done, some ditch work done, some weed pulling done, picked up butt loads of branches that have come off the trees over the winter months, cleaned up the barn a little, took some great pictures, and really enjoyed the sunshine for a change.

We had a big day in the chicken community too.  My littlest hen became a chicken-woman yesterday.  She laid her first egg.  The first eggs are always so little, but she was the proudest chicken around.  This little hen lost her Momma to a Bobcat a couple of months ago, so she was the low hen on the pecking order.  So laying an egg FINALLY ensures her a place in the flock.  Now she's not just the baby that gets picked on.....she's a big chicken now!  I just love my chickens.  They are so much fun.  I wish everyone could have chickens.  They have such personalities!  And there is no better egg than one that is freshly laid.

So now let me introduce another pet - my horse Black Jack, or just Jack for short.  He's a Quarter Horse and is 12 years old.  I have owned him for 7 years.  He's a really sweet horse, but I haven't ridden him in about 2 years now.  He's a big butt head sometimes and bucked me off once, but that isn't why I haven't ridden him.  I had foot surgery, then got busy with major house projects, personal obstacles in the family to deal with, and before you know it, it's been 2 years since I've been in the saddle.  That's going to change this year, if it's the last thing I do!  Of course, I'm going to have to start fresh with the basics again... I'm sure he's forgotten everything he knows about manners in the saddle.  Not that he isn't a good horse, he just likes to try his rider until you let him know you're the boss.  He's been perfectly happy being a pasture pet I'm sure.  He has his two donkey brothers to keep him company.  BUT, it's time Mom started paying him a little more attention.  He loves, loves, loves to be groomed and will stand for hours to be brushed.  He also loves kids, and I know that is because kids to him means a day in the candy store.  He knows I always let the kids bring him carrots or apples. 

Gee, how time flies.... it's late and time for bed.  See ya again next time!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Watch Out! The Hens Have Gone Broody!

Spring must be getting close.  How do I know?   The hens are getting broody.  That's a sure sign for me! I noticed yesterday that 2 of my hens were in the broody mood and not leaving one of the nest boxes.  I looked under the RIR hen and saw she was setting 5 eggs. 

In my past experience, one hen setting more than that many eggs will most likely not hatch them all.  Especially a maiden hen like this one.  It often happens that a hen will hatch out a couple of the chicks, then lose interest with the other eggs so she can start teaching her babies all about the big, wide world.  So, I decided I needed to get out a pencil and mark the eggs with an "X". That way I can remove any additional eggs each day and I'll know which ones to leave for her to hatch.  The other hens will lay their eggs in her box and let her try to hatch them all out for them!  

Yesterday, there were 5 eggs (remember?).  Today, there were only 4 eggs.  One of them got stomped on last night by the hens (see the yolk on this egg above?).  So, another reason to start removing eggs from under the hen.  More eggs means more possibility of some getting damaged from the other hens trying to push their way into the nest box to lay.  Hey, it happens!  Anyway....... 
There was still ice on the water trough this morning when I went out early to feed.  Well, actually if I'm being honest, my daughter gave me a break this morning and did the feeding while I slept in (it is Saturday after all and I deserve to sleep in at least one day during the week, right?).  So, when I did finally drag my butt  out to check the animals, I had to break up the ice in the waterers and scoop it out.  I hope this is the last morning we will have ice.  I think the weather is supposed to be warmer now with no threat of a freeze for the next few days.  I have had the break ice on the waterers a lot this winter. 

I told you I would be introducing all of my animals.  Today, I am highlighting another one of our kitties.  Her name is Weep Weep.  When we went to adopt Floofy (see yesterday's post), there was the tiniest, littlest, sweetest kitten that ever lived.  I knew when my BB picked her up and she immediately circled around in his hand and went to sleep (she fit in the palm of one of his hands), that we were adopting 2 kitties that day.  Her name at the time we got her had been Tinkerbell.  Well, as I told you before, we rename all of our animals to fit their personalities as they develop.  So, as time went by, and this little kitten began mewing, the sound came out of her tiny body like "weep, weep".  So, that's why we started calling her Weep Weep.  She did have one bad habit at the beginning though.... God awful smells came out of that little body.  I didn't know cats farted, but man oh man, this little kitty could blow some stinky ones!  That passed over time though (HA, did you catch that?  passed.....?)  I know what you're thinking.... "Man, this lady is weird".  I'm not denying that.  Well, maybe I am.  But whatever, I am who I am. 
She is a bobtail kitty.  You can't really see in this picture, but she doesn't have a tail...... Just a little tiny one.  This cat is part human I think.  She has the coolest personality of any cat I have ever owned.  And she loves her people so much!  My BB has started calling her a "cuppy"... part cat, part puppy.  She loves following us around, and as soon as you sit down, she is in your lap rubbing her face on your face and then circling around to find that just perfect spot to cuddle in.  If you leave a chair for one minute, you've lost it.  She takes it from you.  She is very mischievous too.  You never know what kind of prize she will bring you.  She has toys all over the house and will bring them to us all the time.  All in all, she is our favorite cat of all time. 

I hope you all are staying with me so far and I'm keeping you entertained.  I'll be back tomorrow! And the next day, and the next day......

P.S. I want to thank my followers so far.  I have such good friends!

Friday, February 11, 2011

In the beginning......

Well, here's my first post on my new blog.  I wasn't sure if I wanted to do this or not, but I figured I have interesting enough things to post about so I gave in and here I am!  I hope you stick with me... I'm sure I'll get better as time goes by.  I will be blogging about my life in retirement on my small farm in big ole Alvin, Texas!  Doesn't that sound exciting???!!  Seriously though, I capitulated (wow, big word!) a lot on whether I wanted to join the blogging world because it's a big responsibility!  I have been a follower of other people's blogs for a while now and the thought of putting myself out there to the world.... well, it's scary people!  I admire all you bloggers, believe me.

When I retired from my job last October, I wondered what focus my life will take (besides the usual that is, i.e., animals, housework, farm chores)?  Did I have it all figured out???? Heck No!  I was just gonna go with it and see where life headed.... Oh yeah, I had some idea of what I WANTED to do. 
Let's see:  1) Antiques?  Love it, but if I wanted to make money at it, I needed to commit a lot of time and effort to rent a space at the local antique dealers like some of my other friends have done.  They are really committed to making it work and spend a lot of time at it..... I didn't think I could commit that kind of time. 
2) Gardening? Oh yeah.....THAT I can do!  Right? Right.  But I don't have any gardening experience.... I am going to try though.  After all, I want to live the simpler life, right?!  So I ordered a bunch of stuff from Stark Bros. Nursery.  It will be delivered the end of February.  I thought, "I can certainly have my garden area ready to receive new plantings by the end of February!"  Sure.  Then we have these cold, wintry, FREEZING days starting the 1st of February!  IN TEXAS - the GULF COAST!  I'm Not Used To Freezing Weather!  I don't do cold very well.  So, the garden area hasn't been started yet!  Which means, I'm stressing out about it!  Raise a glass to the Simpler Life!

I will be adding pictures to go with my posts.  That's what I'm supposed to do right?  And I have this nice, fancy camera.... of course, I've gotta learn to use.  I figured blogging will force me to learn, because what's the fun in posting without pictures?  None!  So, here's my first picture and post.  This is where my garden is supposed to go:

Yeah, I know.  I've got a long way to go.  But imagine what it could look like.... grapes growing up the wooden fence, rows and rows of tomatoes, peppers, onion... I'm also going to do red raspberries, and blackberries.  I'm going to have an herb garden separately too.  I plan on doing raised bed planting, so I guess I better get started huh?!

I am going to start introducing my animals to you with each post.  This post introduces one of our 3 inside cats.  Her name is Floofy.  Started out being Halo when we got her as a wee kitten.  But, with all of our animals, we let their names come to them as their personalities develop over time.  She is a fluffy cat, and a queen if there ever was one, so somehow that all translated into Floofy.  Don't ask.  Anyway, she is a bad example of a purebred Turkish Van.  That's what we were told her breeding was, but I don't believe it.  Turkish Vans are supposed to have darker markings and a solid, dark tail.  You can see she only has a very light mark on her forehead and a pure white tail.  She's huuuuuuge though, and I believe Turkish Vans are very large cats.  And she's a real sweetheart (well, most of the time!)  She mainly just lays around looking fat.  And pretty!  Until she decides to poop on the rug by my back door.  And I realize it AFTER I open the door and it smears across the floor...... she has done that a few times and I don't understand why.  Anyone talk cat?  So maybe I can ask her why she does that?  I've tried all kinds of things to stop it, and the only thing so far that has worked is removing the cover from her cat box.  I think she didn't like the cover on it, maybe she felt claustrophobic in it.  So hopefully that cured her bad habit, because I can't live with a cat that doesn't use a litter box!
Well, I'm off to do outside feedings.  The animals get really cranky if I don't feed them on time!  Primadonna's- the whole lot of them!