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.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

I don't know what is up with this weather, but it sure isn't fun. Over the last two days we've had three very frightening storms move through. So far the only significant damage--other than little tree limbs and leaves everywhere---was my folk's Apple tree, which toppled over in last night's wind storm.

The pattern seems to be: pea soup humidity with heat that builds up until it's hard to exist. Then massive storms move through at a rapid pace, with terrifying looking clouds, thunder, cloud to ground lighting, wind, and excessive rain.

Tuesday we had two major storms move through. One was around 2:00 p.m. and I was still at work. The sirens started whooping and wailing while I was at lunch. Taking a late lunch anyway, I thought I'd just settle in my truck for a few, while watching the rain. That didn't last long before the sirens started in. Once inside we (the secretaries anyway) all went to the 'tornado room' to wait it out, all the while listening to the rather idiotic news reports on the radio. I went and looked out the back doors several times, and I don't recall seeing clouds so low and so black as the ones moving in were. Thankfully, despite the radio warnings, this storm was mostly bark and no bite for both where I work and at home. Just before quitting time, around 4:30 it got eerily black outside. Looking out the window you couldn't see a thing, it was so dark. The minute it hit 4:30 I was out the door and headed home---I didn't want to get trapped in at work. I had just left town when my Mom called and told me they had had a bad one come through and that I'd probably be driving right into it. (I was). I could tell by my Mom's voice that she was pretty spooked. She doesn't often sound that way, so I knew it must have been bad. As far as they could tell, though, nothing had been damaged. Going home was a challenge and I drove through about 10 miles of hard rains, occasional hail, lighting and high winds. It was very disconcerting to have the hail randomly wap the top of the truck, so that you were never prepared for it. I didn't have to pull off, but did reduce speed. I was doing allot of cloud watching too. Somewhere along there I hit mild rain, and utter calm--my guess was the eye of the storm. So tightening my grip and preparing for the tail end of the storm I drove on.

Later Mom told me that Dad had been looking out the back door when the second storm rolled through and saw a wall cloud directly over the house with some rotation. As it moved in a diagonal from their house, he could see the rotation clearly over my home. Yikes. Thankfully no damage was done, but you could see a wide swath of little limbs and leaves strewn across a specific path, where both our homes were.

That evening we had more rain and storms move through, but they were fairly mild. The only trauma was certain members of a certain sheep flock decided they didn't want to come off the new grass, no matter that it was on the verge of storming. With a little help from my trusty shepherd's crook and my healthy and angry lungs, they did come in, even though reluctantly.

Yesterday we had a hot humid day, but no storms during the early hours. I took off early from work to take Meshach to the vet again. (More problems with the gingivitis, but I think he is going to be okay). The trip was uneventful and we made good time. I was going to go to the local 'Mart store to pick up supplies but it was just too hot to leave him in the truck. After I got home, got him settled back in the house, ate supper and did a few indoor chores, it was time to turn the sheep out again. I'm getting them adjusted to the new grass/clover on the upper pasture, before I turn them in there full time, so I have to limit them to a certain amount of time. As I turned them out I could see clouds building up and hear distant rumbling. Agh... another storm.

I've been having some problems with my flock of chickens. I have one hen that is totally 'down' and can't walk and another that has started limping. Searching the net, and going on some suspicions I had, it seemed like it might be 'bumblefoot'. There was one long detailed account of how to remove these things from the chickens feet (involving a knife, and tweezers), so I decided to really exam the girls in question and rub some tea tree/olive oil/lavender stuff I'd mixed up onto their feet. Backing up a bit, the one chicken that is down has been getting nightly soaks in Epsom salt, with no apparent improvement. Bear in mind that all my girls and the roo are geriatrics, so some decline is expected...but not this.

I realize I'm veering wildly from my storm story...but it does all tie back in eventually! Once I get something in my mind, it's like it has to be 'done' now, so I wanted to work on the chickens at that very moment. Even though it was starting to lightening closer and closer. Just five more minutes.....okay maybe five more. So, on with the latex gloves, tea tree mixture in hand (in a Mtn. Dew bottle no less), and paper towels, I got out the hen that has been down. With her upside down on a towel on the cage, I started rubbing in the oil. She was very cooperative, and as I rubbed I got a better look at her toes. Yep, big black spot there, one over there. Hmm..lets just peal on the edge of that and see how it goes. Before I knew it, I had popped out this dark black/grey hard mass. Perfectly round and only a little smaller than a marble. Gross. Same on the other foot, only smaller. The hen seemed unmoved by this, so I kept working until the 'things' were out. Once I got them out, I rubbed and poured the oil into her feet and the hole. It was all very weird. Even though the rumbling from the storm was growing louder, I got the other hen out, and sure enough, she had a big one on one foot and a smaller one on the other. The larger one came out easily, but the smaller one was very tender and she balked at that, so I ended up getting only part of it out, then drenching it with the oil. Does anyone out there know anything about this kind of ailment? Any hints or help would be appreciated.

Chickens were up, and it was starting to sprinkle, so I started calling in the sheep. The clouds were pretty ugly by now, wind picking up. Twenty four good little sheep came running in. Six rotten little sheepies totally ignored me and continued eating leaves and grass, with an occasional buck and jump to show they were wild, carefree sheep, answerable to no man or woman. Lightening started cracking and the wind was getting scary. I was watching the clouds, but suddenly the wind got really crazy, so I made a dash to the house. The gate to the sheep paddock wrenched out of my hand, and I had to struggle with it to get it closed. I was getting real skeered about then! Finally I got it latched and got to the yard gate, trying to get in it with Boone leaping around frantically excited. I'm screaming at him to get out of the way, trying to shut the gate, and feeling an awfully lot like Dorothy by then. Only my Toto is obviously on steroids. Dodging Boone I got to the breezeway, just as a cedar two by six I had propped up came flying down. It hit my leg, so technically I got hit by 'flying debris' and have bruise to prove it. I ran to the front of the breezeway to check out the clouds, when suddenly a cold Arctic wind came straight out of the north. Bizarre. By then I'd had enough, and went in the house, gathering up my purse, cellphone, flashlight and blanket and setting them near the vault room in case I had to take cover. Trust me, I normally have better sense than what I displayed on this stormy evening!

After the worst was over I made several aborted attempts to get the blankety...uh...the AWOL sheep in, but the lightening just kept popping around. I did get them up before dark, but it was still raining, and I got soaked getting their rotten hides in. Somewhere in there the electricity went off and didn't get restored until 4:30 a.m. It's a bad idea to have your emergency supplies on the top shelf of the closet, by the way. Climbing up on a chair, trying to hold a flashlight and rooting around in a tub can have negative results. (In this case, a busted flashlight). Finally about nine p.m. I had my backup plug in phone hooked up, my transistor radio up and running and batteries in my little reading lamp. First time I had gotten to use the lamp since I bought it after the ice storm. It works great! Speaking of after the ice storm Mom bought all of us battery powered fans to use 'in case the electricity went out in the summer'. They really are neat, and run off eight D batteries. It was still so hot and humid that I was really glad to have it for Ariel. She needs her fan! Needless to say I didn't sleep well, worried about oversleeping. The complete blackness and silence was different as well. When I went out to do the final barn check and count my sweet 24 sheep and 6 rotten ones, you couldn't see a light anywhere around.

So it sounds like we will have more storms tonight. I'll be mighty glad when this weather pattern moves on out of here!


Vicki Lane said...

Wow -- way too much excitement! You done good though!

Haven't a clue about the chicken feet.

Star said...

Those storms sound really frightening! but you got the animals sorted, didn't you. Well done! I don't know about bumblefoot, but I do know about red spider mite! Sorry I can't help. Hope you find something more on it. We had a terrible storm in Knoxville yesterday too.
Blessings, Star

Nancy K. said...

I'm so glad that you (and all of "yours"!) are safe! I have to admit, I'm guite terrified of severe storms.

I had to laugh about your 6 bad sheep. I had to get all my ewes and lambs into the barn for the shearer yesterday and there were some pretty 'salty' words being shouted from my lips!

It's funny how much we love them and then there are THOSE times...

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Wow, I'm glad we got out of Dodge in time to miss all that! Strangely enough, there was a big, nasty storm HERE the Thursday we were gone. Short-lived but powerful. It provided good rainfall, though, for which we are grateful.