Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Friday, June 19, 2015


....and I won't say go-away...but please stop for little while. Not a long while.  Not like drought long. Or anything like that.  Just a leetle while. 

Old Fashioned Roses on a rare sunny day before the rain got 'em. 

We've had a wet spring and Tropical Bill just brought in a whole slew of raindrops on top of the excessive amount we had just before Bill got here. 

It's just wet..and muddy.  One area about six miles from us got 10.65 inches of rain over one night.  Thankfully we didn't get that much.  But we've got to be pushing close to that in totals of the last week or so.  It's suppose to move out over the weekend and then some sunshine..and hot humid weather is in store. 

Gracie is happy with the awesome Mulberry season we've had!  The sheep love  love love the juicy berries and appreciate the rain knocking them off the trees in buckets.   Lipstick shade Mulberry Red...

This one has been sick!   He woke me up last Sat. morning crying and in obvious pain. Still not sure what is going on, but after a rough early week  he seems to be feeling much better.  He is on antibiotics and got a shot for nausea --blood work was good except a high white blood count.  Hoping he is just experiencing some mystery infection/illness  and will be okay.  He is so rotten, but so good at the vets.  They all thought he was so sweet.  It was so good to have him grab my arm and try to bite me last night!  Get well big Sage Grass. 
The barn lot is a mess.  I've been trying to dig trenches with the shovel to divert some of the rain/mud/ sludge away from the path and barn but the ground is just too saturated to do much good.  The sheep wading through mud and water.  The oldsters who have challenges in the best of times find it hard slogging.  Their barn is sorta dry but it's damp too (not muddy) and just isn't a healthy place right now, so I kick them out into the wet wonderland every morning.  

Earlier this Spring we had a fly apocalypse.  It's been a long time since I've seen that many flies.  With this second round of excessive rain/muddy/nasty stuff the flies are again on the rebound--bless their hearts.  I spray the barn once a day  even though I tend to stay away from pesticides.  There is just no way I can come up with to make the barn at least tolerable for when the sheep have to be in there.

One of two cherry pies made from cherries from my two trees...before the rain/damp/mildew/something got all the rest of the cherries
The house is so damp.  The humidity rises up through the concrete floors.  I've been keeping the a/c on much more than usual to keep the humidity under control in the house.  The dogs think it's all my fault and look so used and abused because they have to get wet when we go out to do chores. 

Spring pond.. usually dry by now.  Now it's a small lake.  Ashley and Carly face off with neighbor cows.  
Last night we (me and the dogs) got caught out in the rain.  I did chores as early as I could after I got home because I knew that there was more rain coming in.  Just got the sheepies in and it started sprinkling but I thought I'd still get the dogs walked---maybe be a bit damp when we got back.  However the skies opened up and we got drenched.  We weathered it out in a shed for a bit but then I decided it wasn't going to quit for awhile and we made a dash for home.  I thought it was kinda fun but I couldn't see squat with my glasses running water and fogging over...I was so wet.  The dogs were not one little bit amused.  Drama, drama, drama with those three sugar cubes.  At home I had to completely change clothes and find several towels to dry the dogs off a bit. 

After another outburst...or is that cloudburst...last night. are a few pictures with explanations --hope you all are weathering the Spring well!  Although it is almost Summer now.  Have a great weekend!

These boots  have been put to hard use this Spring.

Oh..and yeah, this guy was in my house!  I'm pretty sure the cats brought him in.  My theory is that the outside kitties caught him out of the field ...brought near house...catio kitties nailed him and brought him IN the house.  I knew something was in the house that shouldn't be as the vultures..uh, kitties...were all sitting around looking behind the cabinet.  This guy finally let me catch him in a little chipmunk trap and I released him away from the house --he was suffering a leg injury (after the state my house was in when I got home I know it was a battle royal for him) but seemed pretty spry anyway.  It has been a lethal year for the wildlife from the catio cats--two birds, several small snakes, frogs...those are just what I know about....

Friday, May 29, 2015

Awash In Spring Things

So I forgot to post this, a little outdated...but here you go....

Tang "the Kid"---nearly a year old and busy all the time

It's that time of year!  Along with the  warmer days, and the lovely green grass comes so many things to do...and they all need doin' now!
A glorious Spring Sunrise

The sheep are sheared (hallelujah) without incident and 18 fleeces are awaiting the final picking over and processing, but they'll have to wait their turn.

A variety of lettuce--planted in March and ready to pick!
The Collies were all carrying their messy winter coats around--mats and all.  Two have been bribed and boosted up onto the grooming table to brush, de-tangle and trim.  Carly still awaits her beauty treatment...then it'll be start over time again, as more coat sheds and tangles in the other two.  A bath is badly needed by all three.

Callum & Willow  hanging out in the Assisted Living wing.  Callum is 11 and his mom Willow is 14.  They have their own stall at night and their own grassy paddock in the day.
The tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, squash and pumpkins all had to be planted.  Still have a few things to get in the ground, but it's looking better.  Everything will need to be mulched soon, before the weeds consume them.   The day after shearing I headed out and did some plant shopping over at the Mennonite communities.  I may or may not have bought 34 tomato's all a blur and I don't remember.   By 'sharing' (willing parties or not) with my Mom, Sister & Niece  I pared it down to something like 14, 15, 17 something plants...or so.    I have lots of different heirloom varieties.  I did confine myself to 2 pepper plants--yay me!

Beautiful roses from my Beautiful Niece
The yard and pastures are running amok and neither the sheep nor I can keep up with it all.  I'm having to mow and mow just to keep everything from turning into waist high weeds and seed heads.  We've had some lovely rains--and it makes a difference.  I turn the sheep on the big pasture during the day and let them run the front pasture (which surrounds my fenced yard) at night.  Eat! Eat!  I tell them.  They look like bowling balls with legs.     

Cookie time for Gracie!  Her eye is completely healed.  After spending big bucks on prescription meds from the vet, and no relief for her and nothing to lose we went another route.  Plain triple antibiotic ointment for people smeared in her eye daily and supplementing with L-lysine for a week made for a dramatic turnaround.  I'm so happy.  
Did someone say Cookies???   Blackberry is another cookie monster and you have to watch your fingers with her! She is a Willow daughter too.
I love Spring, but it's a time when I just see so much that needs to be done and none of it should wait, that I feel overwhelmed....then slowly slowly I'll start to make some headway as we fall into the hot steady drone of summer.  
Minty poses while on a walk. 

And so I'll just leave you with some pictures and hope to soon be back to post again.  Enjoy the season!

Carly Sassy Sue

Ashley plodding along.  She likes neither wet ground or humid weather and is just a touch of a drama queen about it.. 

What I thought was a lovely photo of Minty...until I saw the tongue sticking out....

Brenda Lee....she was a 'drought' baby and lost her mommy to a terrible accident, so she has been spoiled a bit.  The goat stand is her own personal feeding station so the other sheep couldn't bully her out of her food.   I caught her just standing there on it the other night...perhaps dreaming of a shot of corn.
And lastly....the lovely Trinity and the Big Rotten Sage (and his teddy bear) have a quiet relaxing moment....

Monday, March 02, 2015

Just Another Snowy Day

This seems to be the winter that won't stop and we haven't even had to deal with the brutal conditions that many have faced this year.  Saturday we got another round--cold, some freezing rain, about five inches of snow.  It made for interesting chore times.  Sunday rolled around and the temperatures had risen into the lower 30s and I was able to snap a few (zillion) pictures.  I have lots of 'help' with the chores.  Here are a few examples.

 Carly & Tang checking for rats in the hay barn.  

Not helpful, but another thing being dealt with right now in this cold weather--Gracie has something wrong with her eye--it seems to be ulcerated but cause unknown.  The vet prescribed ointment and that didn't work (besides the fact it would get so cold it wouldn't come out of the tube), now she is on prescription drops that had to be filled at the human drugstore--and Gracie DOESN'T have health insurance!   Not to mention that she has not been very cooperative about it.  She is thrilled that she finally has gotten on the list--after all these years-- to get grain at night now too--the only way I can bribe her into the 'torture' chamber.  By the way the eye looks much worse now. 

Not sure who is wooliest--Ranger the Shetland (sheep) or Minty the Collie (Dog).  Minty thinks she is the boss of everybody so she was on guard to bark if Ranger moved on inch closer.  He isn't impressed. 

Ashley appears to be helping by pushing the sled, but actually she was waiting to walk in the path I broke.  She is lucky she is cute. 

Dog Down!  A little emergency snow between the toes removal.  Right in my path too. Never mind that it's slick, I'm dragging a sled with hay and coming off a small incline. 

Tang isn't crazy about the snow, but he is pretty serious about 'helping' with the chores.  See he is growing a little!

Fritzi (Center) and a pack of girls around him wait patiently for hay.  The true story is I got a different pair of coveralls and they can't decide if I'm friend or foe.  Fritzi is also trying to look cute and innocent because he has been on my black list since he rammed me one morning.  Long story--but let's just say he perceived an injustice when I let Gracie instead of him finish off some leftover old-folks grain. 

Tang inspects the leaning tower of hay feeder.  Could be a little cleaner Ma!  

Tang checking hay quality.  Not so good in this bale, Ma. 

I think we should feed this bale tonight points out Carly.  She is so pleased with herself because she got up the nerve to jump up all over these hay bales.  She thinks it's so awesome she should get a treat every.single.time.  I don't know why she looks all clean and groomed here, because she isn't--they are all pretty grimy. 

Yikes!  Don't leave me out here alone with this mob!  Run Tang Run!
Meanwhile back in the house the cats are working hard at keeping the bed warm.....  Actually there is a heated 'half' blanket on there so it's kitty toast central.  The one I wanted to lay on it was Meshach my soon to be 18 year old man--but he is stubbornly laying at the head of the bed where there is no heat.  That is Sage's teddy bear laying in the middle, keepin' warm with the cats.  Left to right Trinity, Gabe, Tempe (Torti), Sage, Noah & Meshach in the very back.  Verity and Chaco were probably under or behind the stove......    

Hope Spring will come soon and that you are all making it okay through this winter!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Collie Pinwheel

 ...And other randomness.....

The Collie girls and I were tired after a busy day off (for me) so we took a break on the deck, and the girls crashed.  Days off (mine) are such hard work for them!   They can't nap seventy times a day when I'm there, as I have to be snoopervised constantly.   Starting at the lower left and clockwise we have Minty, Carly and mommy Ashley.   They often lay close like this when sleeping however occasionally it all goes bad when Ashley comes up out of dead sleep with fangs bared and ominous growls.  But they still risk it.   

Ashley says, who me??

And we can't forget our little short Collie, Tang, who was hanging out in one of the deck chairs with us, also resting. 

 This weekend I was finally able to get an old-bedset-drawer-turned-bench-soon-to-be-turned-cat-sunroom moved into the catio and remodeled.   My sister gave it to me back in the summer after she converted it to a bench and then became tired of it in her breezeway.  It sat out front on the sidewalk all fall and finally I got a sunny day and the time to set it up.   I mounted it on an old (for real) bench in the catio, slid a clear roofing panel behind it and one over the top, screwed those down and added some chair cushions I found at a garage sale last summer and ta-da---instant kitty suite.  Then the kitties got to come out and inspect it.  They approved.    I plan to get a flexible fabric cat cube to put in the middle section so that there will be more privacy in each 'room'.  That way the ambushers won't have such an easy job of it.  Total cost to me was zero, since I had the panels, screws, cushions and of course bench on hand.  Now the kitties will have an outside hangout when it's raining (or snowing) and they still want to hang out in the catio.  The roof on the 'sunroom' extends out about a foot and half on one end so they can sit on concrete blocks under that as well and still stay dry.  

 Lastly one of our many gorgeous sunsets this winter.  

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

Have a Collie-Jolly Christmas from 
the girls--Ashley, Minty & Carly

Gracie says to make sure you take time to enjoy cookies and never hesitate to ask for more! (which is what she was doing in this picture....)

 Tang encourages you to seize the moment, enjoy every toy mousie, sparkly ball and walk with your family (even if your family is all collies and peeps) that comes along. 

Noah hopes you will take time to find a warm spot (under the stove if you can fit) to relax and rest and refresh yourself.  

 And Tempe says make sure you take time to spend with your sister and family and friends --even if you think you are too busy.  (Trinity says but I was sleeping)

Merry Christmas from the gang at Fairlight Farm!
May God Bless you in the New Year.   

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Million Dollar Kitten

The Million Dollar Kitten......

….or how Tang uses up three of his nine lives before he is even four months old.

Day One--Misery
If you remember back in July—the 9th to be exact-- I found a little orange kitten on the edge of the parking lot at work as I was prepared to head home for the day. He was in bad shape—dehydrated, weak, hungry and I found out later injured.

Tang chows down his first meal after being found
I found him on Wednesday and took him to the vet on Friday after work as the kitten could barely walk and was obviously injured in the hips or spine. The verdict without x-rays was likely a fractured pelvis and the treatment was predisone and cage 'rest'. There was also a very brief mention of 'hopefully he hasn't herniated into the chest and since his lungs sound good he is probably okay—nothing I (the vet) could do about it anyway'. At first this wasn't hard and Tang was agreeable to resting and eating and eating and resting. He had allot of ground to re-gain.

Growing and trying to heal
On Saturday he had a setback and his breathing was too fast, so I whisked him off to the vet again, where they decided to keep him for the weekend and give him Dexamethasone shots and observe him. By Monday he was feeling lots better and eating well, so I brought him back home.

I hide from Mommy all the's fun
Sometimes I sit real still and hide in plain sight....
Tang continued to improve with 'bed' rest and eventually was getting around quite well on his injured leg/pelvis. By August 2 I had him back to the vet for his first round of shots. He had gained about a pound by then.

Tang trying to be normal...but his face looks distressed....
Time went on, and Tang tried so hard to act like a normal kitty—he would run and play and even attempt tree climbing. There were things though...things that in hindsight weren't right and in the back of my mind I knew they weren't 'normal'. He tired easily. His breathing seemed too rapid. He ate like a horse...but would only eat so much and stop. He was growing, but was long and lanky and looked like someone had stretched him out and he hadn't popped back to his normal shape. But he was up to 3.6 lbs! There was a definite 'empty' space in front of his hips and behind his ribs. But he pretended so hard to be okay.

Then one Friday in September he didn't act well. His appetite wasn't good and I had to coax him to eat. By Saturday he wasn't eating at all and in obvious distress with his breathing. I called my 'cat' vet with little hope of getting him in on a Saturday morning. However the vet's daughter was at the desk and worked him for 10:30—I had to hustle to get ready and out the door as it is 36 miles away.

When I got to the vet my regular vet was not on duty, and I was seen by a lady vet that I had not met before. She was pretty nice and listened to what I had to say. I told her what was going on and that I was concerned about a) the bad cat diseases—FIV, FeLV & FIP and would like him tested for these (although there is no test for FIP) b) I mentioned what the original vet had said about possible herniation. So they whisked little Ting-Tang off for an x-ray and blood test. I didn't have a good feeling about any of it.
Sweet little Tang pre-surgery

Not soon enough the lady vet came back—shaking her head as she came in the door and saying, 'well it's not good news'. The x-ray had indeed revealed that Tang had been severely injured and had suffered a herniated diaphragm. What this essentially meant was there was a tear in the wall of his diaphragm that had allowed his liver (and possibly) other organs to be pushed up into his chest cavity. This of course was causing breathing difficulties since his lungs could not expand properly.

Indeed. And this is the little kitten who kept playing and climbing and trying.

He would not survive much longer. He was in distress. The lady vet said they did not do surgeries like that there. It was too delicate and intrinsic. He would have to be in a very controlled atmosphere. The closest one she knew that would do it would be in Springfield and it would be very expensive. From stories I've heard it would have likely been over $1,000 just to get started. My heart was very heavy. I asked her what the blood test revealed. If he had tested positive to the diseases I would have had him euthanized as his immune system would have been compromised making his chance at surviving surgery slim,  and it would have been a continued risk for the existing cat colony. However he tested negative so I told the lady vet I could not make the decision right then, I'd have to figure out what to do. I knew I couldn't afford a thousand dollar plus surgery. It was a horrible decision to have to face.

With heavy heart  and trying not to cry, I went to pay my bill. The vet's daughter looked over the paperwork and disappeared for moment into the back. When she came back, she said, my Dad does this surgery. He has done several over the years. She would call him right then and see if he could do it today. Evidently he and his wife (who is also the primary receptionist) were out of town at a ballgame. Through a loud and difficult conversation (remember a ballgame!) it was established that he would do it that night when they got back. Time was of the essence. I asked her how much it would cost. The bill was still going to be high, but it was not going to be a thousand dollars and more.

I'm not made of money and it was difficult to spend this large sum, but how could I not? So after hugging Tang and praying for the best I walked away. Late that evening the vet called. Tang had survived surgery and was coming out of the anesthesia. The next 48 hours would be critical. It was a very delicate surgery and his entire liver had been pushed into the chest cavity so it was possible it was compromised. Time would tell. No news would be good news. Didn't sleep that much or the next two nights amid horrible nightmares.
Ouch...first night home after surgery

Monday a.m. I called to see how he was. He was ready to come home! What?? So that evening I went and picked him up and was amazed that he looked so well. He came home with antibiotics and ten days cage rest orders...and a six inch long from 'stem to stern' incision.

Home after surgery
Ten days was a long time. Because the weather had taken a turn for the cooler I moved him and his crate inside (much to the consternation of existing cats!). For the first week he wolfed down his food and couldn't get enough. The little guy had been starving! He was good for about a day and then the playing started—this escalated day by day—even though there wasn't much for him to play with he 'made do' and trashed his cage. On day ten back to the vet he went for stitches removal—which didn't go well (they were already growing in) and a checkup. He was doing great! We were all grinning like hyenas. I found out later the vet had never done this surgery on one so small. Also that it was good he had grown and gained some weight before the surgery, so the delay from the time of injury was actually a good thing.
Gabe shut down completely when I moved kitten and crate in the house.  Look at that expression...what a big baby!    

After two weeks of restricted activity Tang was set free. I don't think he quit being in motion all day long. He could play and run and run and play and not get winded.
Almost time for stitches to come out

Another view of the ouchy belly.  Incision started just below his sternum
Restricted to strolls on a leash..oh how he hated that!  You can see he has a belly now though! 
Extremely jealous Carly and extremely aggravated Tang share a look
We'll never know what happened to the little guy. These kind of injuries are common when hit by a car, falls, and being kicked. They can also be congenital but since he had hip/leg problems it was more likely and injury.

Tang on the move --his first day of real freedom
After all that you'd think he could be a house kitty. But much to my distress, he can't. We are barely holding on as it is with the resident house cats and can't add anymore to the mix. I wish he could have a safe loving forever indoor home, but so far no one has knocked down my door to apply. I worry about him and pray he will be smart and lucky enough to survive 'out there'. So far he stays in the yard and putts about. When I am out doing chores sometimes he will venture out back with us. I put him up at night and who knows maybe always least until he is big enough not to be owl bait. He has grown allot and still has a gusty appetite. He is a purring machine.

I'm okay Mommy...really!
I spend long minutes searching for him and checking up on him. He is the invisible cat. I can't ever see him no matter where he is. And he never lets me know, just sits and watches.  I worry allot.  Allot.  At some point I have to resolve this and let it go, but the little bugger has wound himself around my heart.

Tang this week, hanging out with the cool catio cats.
Saturday he turned into a little monster.  He climbed up the catio and onto the roof of the house--not once but twice.  And I climbed up on my rickety ladder, not once, but twice to rescue him.  Yes, I know, he has to learn.  But I fear he will jump and re-injure himself and I cave in.  The second time he climbed down my face and left some nice scratches.   Not only did he climb up on the roof he later found a baby vole in a nest and played with it until I 'rescued' it.   (I hardly think it will survive).   That night he was exhausted, and I have to admit I was too.  All last week he was smitten with the catio people (house cats) and spent all his time out there.  The new seems to be wearing off though, as he has made reappearances back to the other side of the house.  Sunday I caught him in the act of shimmying up the catio fence towards the roof again.  I shimmied him right back down.   

Rotten Tang up on the roof of the house
If he survives long enough he has to go back to the vet in November for the big tutor surgery.  Then we shall be done, I hope, with his vet care.   At least I hope.  Only time will tell if there is any long term damage to his liver.  

I don't know how long he will live. It's a violent world out there. But he has his chance now to be a normal little kitty. The resident outside girl kitties try and ignore him. He plays with the inside kitties through the doors and their catio fence. This winter I hope to be able to rig up a heated bed for him and pray he will be tough and stout enough to handle the cold.

I wish there was a way to fence my place to keep wandering kitties in...sigh.  

Not sure why I found that little scrap but find him I did and I pray his life is long and happy.   And I don't turn completely grey....

I'm ready to be rescued again now!