Friday, November 17, 2017

No More Quiet Mornings

There's nothing better than a grey autumn day.
For some reason, my favorite day this time of year is one with lots of clouds.
A dramatic sky moved in yesterday afternoon...
the wind kicked up and a stray shower moved through.

To me, it felt like autumn... perfect, peaceful autumn!

I spent the day doing miscellaneous projects.
I worked in the garden... cleaning up the past season's remains,
getting ready to tuck my garden boxes in under a blanket of compost.

You might notice the straw on the box in the forefront of this photo.
We covered the strawberries with straw a couple of weeks ago.
After a couple frosts, the plants go into dormancy.
Once this happens, it is time to cover them with a blanket of straw.
It is necessary to cover strawberries before the temperatures dip down to 20,
to avoid damage to tender young shoots.

Once spring has arrived, I will clean the straw from the top of the plants 
and use it as mulch to cover the soil around the plants.
Having straw on the ground helps to keep the berries from rotting on the moist ground.

A few years ago I found this old kerosene heater in an antique store.
It was blue... not a color that works well in my house.

It took up residence in the old log cabin... until yesterday.
I decided to give it a face lift... painting it black.

I installed some autumn lights,
and gave it a home in my kitchen.

I think the autumn lights look like hot coals.

I tried a new bread recipe and made these rolls.

They are so yummy!!

And last, my peaceful mornings doing barn chores are over.
The barnyard has a whole new soundtrack!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Floating Away

Yesterday was a busy day for all of the equines.
Dr. Becky came to float teeth.

Equine teeth continue to grow throughout their lives.
They keep them ground down by the process of chewing...
at least the chewing surfaces get ground down.

As a result, hooks tend to form on the edges of the teeth where chewing does not occur.

These hooks can be sharp and cause discomfort, and even tears, in the 
inside of the cheeks.

Every couple of years Dr. Becky comes to "float" the teeth.

You may wonder why the name "float" the teeth.
It is a British term meaning to file the teeth.
A float is a file.

Sedation is used to make the horse relax.

The mouth is irrigated with a large syringe and water to remove
and food particles,
and an oral speculum is placed inside the mouth and ratcheted open to visualize
the inside of the mouth.

Then the teeth are inspected and felt for sharp prominences.

Those hooks, and sharp points are filed down until the tooth is smooth.

It's a fairly simple procedure but requires a bit of strength and endurance.

Two hours later we had 7 sleepy equines with lovely smiles!
Everyone was well behaved and tolerated the procedure quite well.

After the teeth are finished, she heads to the other end of the horse and checks
the males for a "bean".
A bean is an accumulation of dirt and smegma that can accumulate
in the end of their male parts.
It is easily removed when the horse is sedated.

While discussing this with Dr. Becky she shared the latest data regarding 
sheath cleaning (the usually twice yearly cleaning of the tunnel into which
horses pull up their male parts.)
Data suggests that sheath cleaning is completely unnecessary and actually 
introduces harmful bacteria into the organs that would otherwise 
be protected by natural oils.
Although Moonbeam never minded having his sheath cleaned in the past,
he was happy to hear that those days are over!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

For The Love Of Pigs

I left the farm yesterday for a dentist appointment.
While driving down the highway to town I passed a tractor trailer.
It was a familiar sight on that particular stretch of road...
a trailer with ventilation holes and a ramp safely stowed on the back door.
I knew it carried some poor farm animals on their way to no place good.

Usually when I see one of these trucks on the highway, I avert my eyes...
 (the same way I do when I see a deer that was killed on the highway)...
willing away it's very existence.

For some reason, yesterday, I couldn't ignore the truck and cast a sideways glance.
It was filled with pigs.
My heart sank and I was immediately filled with sadness.

Now, I cannot pretend that I don't like bacon... or that I don't eat meat.
I do.
I have chosen a mental disconnect between the animals that I love and the meat that I eat...
but it's not without a degree of remorse and guilt.

Years ago I made the conscious decision to reject grocery store meat...
and I haven't looked back.
Now, this decision comes at a cost... and it's one that affects the pocket book.
To me, though, it is worth the extra money to buy only meat
humanely raised on pasture from farmers within a several mile radius of the farm.
This severely limits my choices... but I am fine with that.
I have also made an effort to eat much less meat than previously.
Beans, eggs, cheese, and sustainably-caught fish round out the protein in our diets.

But, back to those pigs in the truck.
It seems the only thing that separates them from my two beloved pigs at home
is luck.
As I cast that sideways glance into the tractor trailer,
I saw the eyes of one particular pig looking at me
and I felt incredible sadness.

From having my own two porcine princesses I have learned that pigs
are incredibly intelligent.
They are emotional beings.
They love socialization.
They love to be touched... they almost melt from the attention.
They are kind, and tolerant, and trusting, gentle creatures.
But then, our pigs feel safe and never threatened... so I believe their true nature shines through.

The long and the short of it is...
I believe that our industrial agricultural system needs to change.
The world needs to work together to find a way to feed our
ever-growing population...
while treating our animals in a more humane way.
Sadly, I don't have any answers.

Once home, I felt an incredible need to connect with my girls.
If nothing else... perhaps I can help to open some eyes
to amazing human/animal relationships...
and to illustrate how similar animals are to humans.
Perhaps if we can develop the ability to look into their eyes and see ourselves...
we might all work together to bring about a change.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Equine Rockstars

There are afternoons, once in a while,
in which the chores are done with time to spare.
In this heading-into-dormancy time of year, 
I find myself with a little extra time on my hands.
Yesterday was one of those days, so Hubbs and I took advantage of the extra time
to groom our herd.

With the recent rains and soggy ground,
everyone was looking a little grungy.
Hooves were mud-covered and bridle paths were looking 
like overgrown gardens.

One by one, Hubbs and I curried and brushed and clipped and picked hooves...
until each and every one of our horses and ponies looked handsome
and well-loved.

They are well-loved, of course... but at times they look like wretched street urchins.

Donnie Brasco, the sweetest, gentlest (and fastest) pony ever.
I am sure that everyone who owns equines
feel that their horse is the most handsome in the world.
I certainly do.
And... this one... well, he might just possibly actually be the most handsome of all...
his lovely blue eyes making him look like a carousel horse.

And, oh, so photogenic!
(You might notice how close to his hind end Sam has chosen to lie.
Our horses and dogs co-exist perfectly.

Red definitely knows that he is all gussied up...
and works it for the camera.
He's an equine rockstar!

This one?

Always a character!
He may be the smallest,
but he has more personality (mostly imp-ish) than the rest combined.

Ollie never developed the lovely, thick forelock and mane that his brother Red has.
I believe this might be due to the fact that he was orphaned young in life
and lacked the proper nutrition while he developed.
(He refused milk-replacers... living on hay and vitamin supplements
much earlier than normal.)
Regardless, he is still lovely...with his one blue eye and one brown.
Lovely... but a stinker through and through!

Everyone seems to enjoy grooming sessions...
one more thing to break up the day.
With peppermint treats for good behavior
and lots of nose-kissies...
it ends up being fun for all!

Our only female...Scarlet... lovely highlights grace her mane.

In the end, Moonbeam looks quite regal!

His photo is cropped, however, to cut out this part...

as he proceeded to pee a small lake....
part of the reason that the dry lot never is... dry!

Not one to remain clean for too long,
Moonbeam shows off his lovely tail and his muddy hooves.
At least he didn't roll.... yet!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Weekend Fun

Aside from a trip to Philadelphia on Saturday for dinner 
with Amanda and Tim...
and the requisite visit to the Italian market to stock up on some artisanal cheeses,
Italian olive oil, olives and pasta... 
(and a few outrageous pastries may have followed us home as well!)
the rest of the weekend was quiet.

 It gave us the opportunity to enjoy the peace of an autumn day before
winter moves in for good!

We started our annual boundary walk to make sure we have enough 
"No Trespassing" signs visible
before hunting season begins.

We have a sizable deer population who use our woods as a safe haven from 
the guns and arrows of hunters...
and we like to keep it that way.

I prefer to hunt deer with a camera!

Any excuse for a hike in the woods is fine with the dogs.

This time we left Oakley at home.
Long hikes are hard on him.
He enjoys running in the woods, but pays the price the next day...
limping with arthritis.
He gets just enough exercise accompanying us when we do the chores
throughout the day.

Sam has completely recovered from his cruciate ligament tear and
can keep up on hikes with no difficulty, and no reverting to a three legged run.
He is a much happier dog now that he has no limitations.

On our way back home from the woods,
we heard quite a clatter in the area of the front pasture.

Expecting to see the guineas there, we headed down the road to take a look.

What is on the hill across the street??
The pigs were enjoying the afternoon sun,
as were the sheep.

The guineas however were across the street, climbing the steep embankment into the woods.
This was the farthest they had ventured from their home to this point.
I wondered if we would get them back for night time.

By the time late afternoon came, they were once again in the front pasture...
so I herded them back to the safety of their house for the night.

So far so good... they've spent every night safely closed up.
I am hoping that maybe they will learn to return there themselves some day...
but maybe that is just wishful thinking!


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