Monday, June 25, 2012

Blackberries & Snakes - Every Girls Dream Morning

Saturday morning after my chores were done I decided to head to the pasture and pick some wild blackberries.  I have plans for those blackberries and, by golly, the birds aren't going to get all of them before I can get my fair share.

So me and the dogs got to picking before it got too hot.  And yes the dogs picked blackberries, unfortuanelty they didn't put them into my bucket but kept them for themselves. Selfish little beasts. :)  At one point there was a row of dogs next to me with their heads buried into the bushes.

Thank goodness they could only reach 2 feet off the ground!

Puppies still picking blackberries, whereas, the dogs are headed to the other side for fresh berries.

Scooby Snack
 At one point while I was picking I got a strong sent of cucumbers.  My cucumber vine was 100 yards away and it is barely surviving, so it wasn't my plant making this scent.  I had heard an old wives tale about copperheads secreting the scent of cucumbers when they feel threatened, and I know there has to be snakes in the blackberry vines, so not wanting to get tangled with a snake I backed away quickly and moved to some other bushes.

Now the cumcumber smell might be an old wives tale, but I can't figure out what would have suddenly made that smell where I was.  And I didn't want to take any chances.

Snakes have their place in this world, I would just prefer we didn't travel in the same circles.

A small tangent - this spring when searching for something in the attic I came across a snake skin in one of my boxes. I dropped that box and beat it downstairs...QUICKLY!  When I got downstairs that overwhelming feeling of "You are going to have to deal with this because there is no one nearby that will move that snake skin for you" came over me. Hand to forehead...sometimes I really hate being an indepentant woman. 

And...this was one of those times I chose to ignore the problem.  I made sure I got what I needed, but I waited for my Dad to visit and dispose of the snake skin.  There are just some things I would rather not have to do.  I can dispose of animal caracasses everyday but one snake skin creeps me out.
Where the cucumber sent was coming from.  I didn't want to explore any further.
After changing locations I proceeded to fill my bowl with juicy, wild blackberries and I only had to give up a few to the mooches with puppy breath.  I can't wait to make cobbler, cake and jams. Yum!  Now the temperatures need to cool down so that I can get back into the kitchen without sweltering.

Please keep an eye out for the others.

"Can I have those?"

A full bowl's worth even with a "snake" encounter.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Farm Animal Friday - Lulu

When you step outside of my house around 4pm you are likely to here a couple of things - chickens clucking, birds chirping and Lulu, the mule, braying.

She is not necessarily braying because she is hungry, though she will happily take any feed you give her, but around 4pm is when Brady, my thoroughbred horse, comes back from the front pasture with the cows - otherwise known as "work." It's like she calling her husband in for dinner.


Lulu is a sweet mule who at one time had a mischievous streak.  I was told that in her younger years she would cause havoc for her hitch partner and for anyone wanting to handle her.  She could leap tall buildings in a single bound and fight off monsters. I have heard her referred to as "a fiery pistol," (that might have been an understatement). 

She is older now and has subdued quite a bit, and then last year I brought Brady to live with her.  Those large ears perked up and she was immediately enamored.  She now had someone to "talk" to and share meals with.  So when he isn't home on time she let's the world know the only way a mule can...braying. It's just one more wonderful sound of a farm.

Brady greeting Lulu after a long day at "work."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Nibbles

Finally, after years of growing and tending to strawberry plants I have strawberries that actually take two bites to eat!!!! Yippeee!! Usually I get the tiny, misshaped nibbles before the bugs…or sometimes, the dogs, get them. All it is a taste sensation – a good taste sensation. But now I actually have real big strawberries.

I have been guarding them from everything…including myself. I want these suckers to ripen perfectly and then enjoy them as they were meant to be enjoyed…straight from the plant. Yum!

It all started when I bought a couple of strawberry plants at the store because the picture offered me possibilities of harvesting my own strawberries, and the bounty could be used to make jams, cakes, pies, etc. Yeah right…it takes more than two plants and at least a couple of years. So I kept purchasing plants and buying the offered strawberry hanging baskets, all in hopes of having a bountiful strawberry harvest.

My plants have been through a lot; me knocking them over, the dogs chewing on the leaves, squirrels trying to hide their nuts in the pots and the weather. But they have hung on through it all. Starting this spring I got quite a few little nibbles, where I could get the sweet taste of the strawberry while I was outside. But that is all. Then about a week ago I noticed one of my later bloomers had a huge strawberry growing on it. At first I thought it was an optical illusion. On closer inspection it was a real strawberry that was at last 4 times bigger than anything else I’ve harvested.

While keeping a close eye on it I noticed that another large strawberry was developing…JACKPOT!!!! I might get to make strawberry jam. Or not, I don’t think two strawberries will make me a lot of jam.

Hopefully the rest of the plants in this container will bless me with big strawberries, if not though, I will appreciate their sweetness in a small nibble. For now I get to look forward to two big juicy strawberries. I can’t wait!!!

UPDATE:  I ate the large strawberry this morning, and it was...wait for it...Perfectly Sweet.  Everything I imagined. Yum!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

The heat is here!

Denny and Nana have the right idea...

Where's the nearest Pool?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Adventures in Puppies

Roughly seven weeks ago one mama dog and her seven puppies got a reprieve from death and came to my house. A friend had seen a beautiful red heeler posted in an email imploring everyone who red it to adopt or foster her and her seven puppies immediately because she was due to be put to sleep in two days time. This friend knows that I'm a sucker for sob stories and cute puppies, so she forwarded the information onto me and two days later she was delivering said mama and pups to my doorstep.

Maggie nursing her puppies

Maggie, as the heeler is named, came with seven wildly different puppies.  None of them looked like her.  It was almost as if someone had switched litters.  There were three black puppies with white chins, chest and toes; 1 butterscotch/brown puppy; a black and tan puppy, a white and black spotted puppy; and a mostly white tri-colored puppy.  They were three weeks old and already trying to walk around.  And, oh, so adorable!

They all got names from characters that Paul Newman played: Luke - Cool Hand Luke, Hudson - Cars (Doc Hudson), Cassidy - Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, Dodge - Message in a Bottle, Murphy - Fort Apache the Bronx and Maddox - The Helen Morgan Story.  One of the girls is named Charlotte after a Pride & Prejudice character (this was when we only thought there was one girl. Turns out I was too hasty in trying to sex Cassidy who previously was known as Butch).

Maggie and pups settled right in.  My two dogs, Willow and Denny, enjoyed having visitors.  Willow was immensely curious about the little squirming beings. Denny just wanted to play with Maggie, and she was more than willing.  My cats weren't thrilled about the new additions, so they decided they would stay outside until the puppies departed.

The weeks were filled with cuddling, feeding, cleaning, playing, teaching and loving. Luckily I live on an acreage so the puppies could go outside and see interesting things like cows and chickens.  They cows thought the puppies were a little strange and didn't want to get too close.

Charlotte - 11 wks old
Scooby - 11 wks old
Mama would sometimes supply them with fresh meat, not one of my favorite things. I don't know how many times I would find them chewing on a animal she had just caught.  I don't know much about Maggie's life before the shelter, so I'm guessing she had to fend for herself for awhile. Though I appreciate the rodent and groundhog control, the puppies (and Maggie) were getting fed a really good diet so Maggie didn't really need to supplement.  Plus, I don't enjoy disposing of animal bodies. Unfortunately it comes with living in the country.

Luke - 11 wks old

Maddox - 11 wks old

A couple of weeks ago four of the puppies; Dodge, Luke, Murphy and Cassidy found homes.  Unfortunately Luke had to come back because the older dog at the house didn't want to have a sibling.  So four puppies are still looking for homes; Scooby, Luke, Maddox and Charlotte.  All of them are smart, sometimes too smart, sweet, loyal, playful, gentle and want to be loved. If you know of anyone who might be interested in a heeler/hound or a heeler/lab mix please feel free to leave a comment.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Feathered Visitor

Last night while doing the evening farm chores, the dogs and I came across a pigeon that didn't fly away.  My first thought was that Denny was going to devour it, being dinner time and all, but he didn't.  Denny put his new herding training into practice and pushed the pigeon into a corner.  The bird tried to fly but it couldn't seem to take off.

Since I can't leave a wounded animal to be attacked, I picked it up; cradled it and took it to the house.  Years ago I found a raccoon in the woods behind my house.  He had fallen from a tree.  I wrapped him up and put him in the dog pen [dogs were inside] to recuperate. Not the smartest thing I've ever done, unfortunately not the dumbest either.

Before I made up the carriers for it and all of the animals were in the house,I put the pigeon down and tried to see if it call fly. I thought it might have just been stunned earlier.  Unfortunately, it still couldn't take off but man, could it walk fast.  So inside it came.  (Wish I could tell if it is a he or a she.)

I bedded one of my cat carriers down with straw, gave it water and seed then put it in the bathroom where I could shut the door.  Willow's retriever instincts kicked in and I knew she would be been staring at it all night long. Not the best way for a visitor to feel welcome.

Pidge not wanting to pose for the camera. She might be a wanted Pigeon!

This morning I checked on Pidge (I'm taking a leap of faith and assuming she is female and Pidge sounded right) and she had eaten and drank. This evening I'm going to  see if after 24 hours recuperation she will be able to fly.  If not, I'll have a sweet bird around the farm for a bit.

I've been doing quite a bit of research on Pigeons since Pidge dropped in for a visit.  I didn't realize that there is a big community of people who have pigeons.  I'm so used to them just being a part of the landscape when you go downtown that I didn't realize that people bred them and even race them. It is a whole other world.

Hopefully Pidge will be flying off soon to find her mate.  It is Spring after all.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Horseless in Horse Country

For the past two years I have been a horseless horse-person who lives in horse country.  As you could probably guess it can be quite difficult to see these beautiful creatures frolic in the pastures and not be able to touch, groom or ride one. (I also notice the longer I'm away from horses the more idyllic I picture them. When in reality they cause almost just as much frustration as happiness.)

After this two year self-imposed exile I decided I needed to bring them back into my life.  I am now living on a farm with some acreage, a barn and multiple other animals - mostly why not?  I could afford a nice pleasure horse.  And Kentucky has its share of horses looking for good homes.  And I really wanted to explore Kentucky by horseback.

The process began, I don't ever remember it being so exhausting when I had looked for my past horses.  I wasn't looking for a competition animal, just something that I could have fun with on trail rides and maybe do a little eventing.  I couldn't spend a fortune and I needed something a little steadier than my past high-energy horses.  I'd find one and try it out...and it wouldn't be quite right...or it was little too energetic...or not broke...or they thought their 15 yr pasture horse was worth the 5 grand they were asking. 

I almost gave up.  It was October; Fall had settled in...I told myself that I didn't need a horse. Then it it always seems to do.  I inquired about one last horse.  A blood bay thoroughbred on the CANTER KY website named Outlaw's Song.  I looked at him before on the website and really liked him but I didn't think a recently retired racehorse was for me.  I needed steady.  I needed quiet.  Not high strung and temperamental.  But one statement on his listing grabbed me and wouldn't let go... "They even take him home (from the track) on the weekends for some time off and trail riding."  TRAIL RIDING!  What!?! This doesn't sound like the racehorses I am used to seeing.

Something clicked in my brain, because my fingers immediately typed an email to the CANTER KY contact for more information.  I thought the least I could do is check him out.

After a couple emails, I received a phone call from Outlaw's then owner.  He told me more about him...basically he was the family pet who at times would run a race.  I told him more about me and what I had done and what I wanted to do with a new horse.  Fifteen minutes into the conversation he said, here's what I'm going to do...I'll bring him to you this weekend and you can try him for a week.  If you like him, I'll take $500 off his price.

That happened fast.

My first response was stunned silence, then after finding my voice and letting my mind look for any potential potholes I said "Okay." I was getting a least to try.  After months of looking did it really just happen that quickly? My mind was whirling, my adrenaline was pumping...I had to clean the house just to keep busy because my adrenaline was pumping so hard!  What really kept me from going into hyper-drive was that I had a week to try him out and make sure we were a fit.

Two days later, Outlaw arrived. 

A little back story, where I live has a few jersey cows (with horns) for milking and one donkey...a very curious donkey...or as I like to call them the Purple Horned Monsters (PHM). During the day they are in the front pasture...this is where we had to unload Outlaw.  The PHM's were curious when they saw the trailer but when they saw Outlaw come out of it they came running!  And the donkey started braying!

Can you imagine unloading into a new place and the first thing you see are five overweight, oddly-shaped horned beasts running at you and then hearing the loud noise that sounded like a dying crow?  I think I would crap my pants and run.  Luckily, Outlaw didn't do either. He just jumped back and willingly followed his owner to the nearest exit.

I did my best to keep everyone back as we got him to the gate away from the chaos. And Outlaw did a good job of staying out of their way.  As soon as we got him through the gate and away from those oddly shaped creatures he put his head down and started grazing.  He would look up every once in a while but overall he was he hadn't just been greeted by fire breathing dragons.

I think this just might work....

Outlaw meeting the PHM's
(To Be Continued)