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.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Summer Half Over

And summer is half over.   The last time I posted was in April, and since then the typical summer things have transpired.

 I planted a garden and have harvested a few things, fought the bugs, and  marveled at how big some of the squash plants are getting.  My tomatoes are producing lots of green tomatoes, but some type of stink bug is sucking the juice out of them faster than they can ripen.

Peppers, Tomatoes, Squash & Cabbage from the garden
The weather has been pretty good (so far) this summer, although at the moment it is pretty warm.  We experienced the most lovely cool front last week that required a warm fuzzy blanket at night so that the cats and I might be toasty.  Now it is back to 'real' summer.  It's getting dry now so hoping we get some rain soon, before the pastures burn up.    

Fresh Black Prince Tomato, Yellow Cherry Tomato, & some refrigerator pickles Mom made
The aged and infirm in the sheep lot consist of three at the moment.  Well, there are more than three aged sheep but only three that are infirm at this moment.  Willow is 13 and moves slower these days, but is as independent as always.  Her son Callum, is 'only' 11 but he suffered a back injury as a youngster in his ram days, and it's catching up to him.  Big white sheep, Annalea has a gimpy front foot, but other than needing to be guarded at feeding time does okay.  Willow and Cal hang out together and move at the same speed.  They avoid the rambunctiousness of the other sheep and I separate them at  feeding time.  This hot weather is hard on them.

The sheep and I have finally worked out a mutually beneficial system on grazing the front area of my place.  If you remember they have been rather at loose ends since all the leader sheep died over the last few years.  I couldn't get them to calm down and stay in most of the areas on the front of my land without penning them tight.  And even if that worked, they would then refuse to enter the area the next time--contrary to popular belief they aren't stupid. (Now stubborn..yes)  It was a real battle and very frustrating.  However, the solution was happened on accidentally when I was late putting them out front one night to graze.  They seemed much more calm during that time, so now after all the chores are done and it's almost time to go in the house with the dogs, I will turn them on the front, while I'm giving Cal and Willow their evening meal.  I leave the gate open to the paddock and they graze up until dark and then go out again at first light.  They have kept the front 'mown' pretty well.  Not the short 'just so' cropped look from the lawnmower, but I like it.  It looks a bit messy but it's short and green and full of life--lots of little flowers everywhere.   I've mown it three times this summer and will do so again when we get a good rain, but this is lots less than if I had to keep it all short on my own. 

Millie Cuteness Overload
My sister got a puppy!  This is huge.  She has been dithering about getting a puppy for years.  Sweet little Millie joined the family a few months ago.   My sis has been dealing with all the 'stuff' that goes with an energetic pup, and it keeps her busy (and a little worn out).   Millie is cute as a button and is part Maltese and Shih-tzu--a MalShi, and was a pound puppy along with her siblings.  You can read more about Millie on here

Millie & her big Green Frog
 My nephew had a brain bleed at the end of May--he was only 36.  He is doing pretty good now, going to therapy three to four times a week.  It's been very hard on him and his wife and four children to adjust and cope with this in their lives.  It was a sad and scary time and we were all happy to be able to celebrate his 37th birthday with him on July 4th.   His therapy will end sometime in August and hopefully he will be released to drive and also to go back to work.

Cleanup on the hen house has finally been accomplished.  It was a hot nasty, NASTY, job, but the worst of it is done.  I'd let things go over the last few years with only a few hens so there was layer of about four to six inches of very dry chicken litter on the floor.  I got that all shoveled and swept out (that sounds so quick and easy...) while wearing a mask.  Then I hosed everything down inside, but since it didn't drain as well as I expected it turned into some drama and  hard work getting the water out.  It needs another rinse off, but we will see.  Now I need to do some repairs around the outside edges  and install new nest boxes, and fix the roosts...and, AND....get some new chickens!  I'm kinda excited about that.  Ready for fresh eggs, and I miss seeing their little bobbing shapes around the pasture, not to mention their role as scrap disposal systems.  I only plan to get about six hens, or so and would like to get young adults.   

There is a new stray cat.  I'm pretty sure it's a young tom.  It took a little while to figure out there was a new cat in town as he looks an awful lot like my two elderly outside girl cats.  Only they are more portly.  He comes up every night and talks to the cats in the catio, and that was what gave him away.  My girls talk but it's more a screamy meow, and his is rather a melodic mewmewmew.  So anyway, he has a date with the live trap and a trip to the vet for tutoring, then I guess I'll just release him and if he wants to stop in and eat he can.  Not really needing anymore kitty residents.  I don't think he is very wild but he is spooked.  I suspect he was dumped.   He is a beautiful silver grey and if I could find a farm home for him I'd be pleased!  Only this isn't the worst of it in the cat news.  There is a kitten.

One very sad misused kitty

First Meal at Hotel Paradise--he was thin and scraggly looking
Lip Smacking Good seemed to be the verdict
A week later and Ashley is consoling him--you can see the 'oddness' about his rear hip and leg
Seems my vehicle here on the parking lot at work was chosen by a wee kitten to lay near enough by to be noticed.  I'll also point out there were many vehicles and people on the lot that day.  Many.  I was leaving for the day and I did not see the kitten laying there in the grass against an old garage.   Seriously I try not to look around too much anymore.  However a weak, desperate meow did get my attention.  And again, until I saw it there.  I tried to leave.  Got it some treats out of the truck to give it, but no way could I bring it home.  It was so thin and dehydrated that it couldn't eat the treats, couldn't hardly even get up.   So I picked it up, tried to fob it off on another employee then put it down on the seat beside me and went home.   I had a little water bottle and poured some in the cap for it to drink and it was very thirsty.  It looked like a little girl to me.  The next day I got it worked into the vet after I got off work.  By then I knew that something was wrong with it---something in it's hips or back.  It could wobble around but was very unsteady on it's legs.

Feeling better but still favoring the leg --you can see how he sticks it straight out

Off to the vet yet again.....

Off to the vet we went the next day.  Without expensive tests and x-rays nothing obvious presented itself, but the vet's best guess was either a  fractured pelvis or some nerve/ligament damage.  He was also concerned that some of it's organs had been displaced and herniated, but everything 'sounded' good in the lungs and heart.  So back home we went with predisone and 'bed rest' instructions.   The next day he took a turn for the worse (yes, it was a he) or I thought he did.  Because it was so intensely hot I gave in when the vet discussed keeping him for observation and anti inflammatory injections over the next several days.  He was much perkier by Monday.  Now three weeks later he is more steady on his feet and the 'problem' seems to be located in the right hip area. He does well until he gets tired then you can tell it bothers him.  I am keeping him confined in a dog crate in the breezeway during the day and he has a small exercise  pen set up under the tree that he goes into before and after I get home from work for some change of scenery.  I also let him follow me around the yard for a short time in the evening. (edited to add:  he is loose in the yard when I'm home now)  He isn't as energetic as most kittens his age, but he is coping and hopefully will heal --the vet thought thirty days of restricted movement would be beneficial.  He was only about seven weeks when I found him.  Our best guess is he probably got thrown from a vehicle that he hitched a ride on...but we'll never know for sure.    Now he needs to go back for shots soon (edited:  he had those this past weekend) as they felt he was too young and weak the first time around.  I have a lead on a possible home for him, but have to have assurance that he is wanted before we proceed.  I will also keep him until he is hopefully better. (edited again:  possible home has never gotten back with me...)  He is very cute as all kittens are, but I cannot offer him much here.   He would be an outside kitty in an unsafe environment, albeit well fed and loved.  Praying for a home for him!   His temporary name is Tang and he is a very self assured young kitten and I think he will have a ton of personality.

Tang--Looking Better

Last night I was thinking that it would soon be time to get the wood supply ordered for winter, not to mention the hay.  It's been a strange year for hay--it was cool and wet for many days and so the first cut got delayed.  Yet, we never really got any good long soaking rains.  Just days of drizzle and clouds.   The ground is very dry and it doesn't take much to bake it.    I'm hoping though that we get some good rains as farmers are finally getting their first crop off the field and there should be time for a second cutting provided we get some moisture.   It's hard to think about winter... the older I get the less I cope with cold and inclement weather and having to drive on slick roads.  (especially the latter!)

Making himself to home on one of the many outside cat bed/nooks--needs lots of naps
But we still have some time to go before then.   There will be lots of hot summery days still when I will probably be hoping for winter.  

Collie Carpet--Minty, Ashley & Carly's favorite place to spend a hot day (inside in the AC!)

I guess that is it for now.  Hope you are having a good summer in your neighborhood!