Saturday, June 30, 2012

It's All About Him

The barred rock rooster, Mad King George or King Charles, depending on whether I'm feeling Anglo or Gallic, really is as mad as a March hare.  For one thing, his conceit is totally misplaced.  At the peak of moult, most of his fine speckled feathers are missing and his scrawny, wrinkled neck shows through.  The part that goes over the fence last is completely naked, leaving him without much reason to crow.  Still he continues to strut around, proclaiming his magnificence to all within hearing.  His predecessors were considerate of the hens, allowing them first choice of tidbits.  Mad King George picks a few favorites for the day and chases off all others when the grain is thrown down.  He runs around demented and throws the flock into a tizzy.  When I'm in the pen, he comes close, cocking his head and eyeing me.  I've told him in no uncertain terms what will happen if he should ever attack; the first would be the last.  So far, his tenuous grip on reality has let him listen.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Do You Know Where Your Foot Is?

Down in the barn, my thinking place, the subject for the day was proprioception.  Proprioception is almost a sixth sense; it is the body's sense of self and position.  It allows one to walk without looking at the feet, to put out one hand with accuracy for a coffee cup while still reading a book, and to touch the nose with eyes closed (part of the drunk test).  It is proprioception that automatically differentiates the strength needed to pick up an egg or a full bucket of milk.  One of the hardest things to teach a first-time guest to the barn is how hard to squeeze the teat and to stop the squeeze just short of pinching the sides together.  It is more than the sense of touch.  Touch transmits the feel of the goat's hair; proprioception tells how hard to use the brush, how much pressure to smooth the coat and yet not hurt the animal.

Okay, fine.  What can I say, there's a lot of time to think in the barn.

If one more truck had pulled into the driveway yesterday, I'd have needed a traffic director.  Kellan and Wil and then Joel drove up nearly simultaneously for milk and/or eggs.  I think Joel felt he knew the young couple though they'd never met; he's read about them in this journal.  The hens are in moult and production has dropped and I was nearly in an egg crisis.  Kellan has a standing order for two dozen a week, and Joel also needed eggs.  To eke out the third dozen for Kellan, I gave her six large eggs and twelve of the half-size Silkie eggs (a kind of two-fer deal).  I put in my request for squash blossoms, and she promised some for Monday (yum).

Nothing comes easy.  Out in the garden, there was a tall, unused, industrial-plastic barrel that had just been gathering rain water, a haven for mosquito larvae.  Steve had had some plan or other that never came to fruition.  I offered the barrel and lid to Wil, who said he could think of three uses for it right off the bat.  Half full of water, the thing was too heavy to tilt so it was a case of finding a bucket and him perching on top and bailing it out (syphoning with a hose hadn't worked).  Getting it into their little truck (with a camper shell) was another ambitious chore.  The barrel didn't quite fit and had to be tied in with bungee cords and baling twine.  Wil seemed as pleased as Steve was when he brought the monster home.  What is it they say about one man's junk being another's treasure?

It was a good day.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Bright Side

The days are heating up again as we head into July.  I finally got the front, side, and back yards mowed yesterday.  If there is an up side to "hot," it is that brown vegetation doesn't grow.  Almost all that I cut down was that blasted, still-green star thistle.  It would thrive in the Sahara.  A couple more passes down the driveway and along the road and the need for mowing should slow down considerably.  The afternoon breeze blew dust and chaff down the neck of my shirt.  Mowing in the spring is pleasant; summertime, not so much.

If Kellan and Wil call before they come for milk today, I'm going to ask for a few squash blossoms.  Dipped in a light beer batter with a hint of cayenne and sauteed in olive oil and butter, there is nothing like the delicate flavor of these edible flowers.  Squash being the most prolific of vegetable plants, a few blossoms can be sacrificed; still food for the table.  Another bright side to summer.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pecking Order

Unable to see their little nether regions (and some things should stay private), I cannot tell if the ground squirrel hiearchy in the barn is run by matriarchs or patriarchs, but there is a definite pecking order.  This applies to who can eat when, and even to where one can stretch out to wait for the breakfast buffet to open.  I do believe it may be a case of older versus younger and not necessarily gender specific.  The young ones trying to move up in line are chastised severely and loudly, and sometimes are run completely out of the barn by the older, heavier squirrels.  These battles get physical, as evidenced by missing ear tips and scarred backs.  I've got a ringside seat for all this action as I milk every morning.

There is a scrub jay that has the impression the buffet is self-serve.  He won't wait until I fill the trays for the goats' nighttime snacks (which leave them open for squirrels and birds).  Hearing rustling in the feed bucket on the overhead shelf, I realized this jay braves the dangers of confinement and is serving himself.

The barn regulars, the mice, wait under the stand for Esther to take her turn.  Esther is somewhat eccentric and prefers her cereal spread out on the tray and usually upsets her bowl.  This, of course, spills out an offering for the tiny ones on the ground.  The mice love Esther.

I haven't wanted to say anything before so as not to jinx the situation, but one bird nest has survived the nighttime raids and the chicks are growing.  I can't see this nest as it is on the far side of one of the girders and hidden from view, but I've been listening to the baby chirps getting louder over time and becoming more adult.  I imagine the babies are about to become fledglings.  I wish them well.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Poet's Corner

"What is so rare as a day in June?  Then, if ever, come perfect days."  This snippet of poetry learned as a child kept running through my head yesterday.  Windy and pretty darned cold in the afternoon, that line of a long-ago poem fit the morning to a T.  The goats were bouncing around and kicking up their heels (which is a funny sight when they've got a full udder).  It got me to thinking.  Are children still taught poetry in school?  Would they recognize Shakespeare's iambic pentameter or e e cummings, who wrote poems without capitals?  I don't honestly remember what I learned in school or what I was taught by my mother.  I still have her small book of Hamlet, with her penciled notes in the margins.

Mother did not go to college, per se.  Like many young women of her day, after graduating from high school (I think there were twelve in her class) she attended Normal School, a two-year course which trained girls to be teachers.  Later, she was sent to board with a family and teach all grades in a one-room school in the Illinois countryside.  She told of walking to school past an old cemetery that had been partially washed out by a flood and the ends of caskets sticking out of the earth; it scared her silly.  I have a little notebook in which she'd written the rules for children's games, some of which involved poetry of a sort.  "There is a farmer who is (YY) enough to take his (EE), and study nature with his (II) and think on what he (CC)," the kids to fill in blanks with double letters.  My wake-up call for more years than I can say was, "A birdie with a yellow bill hopped upon my window sill.  Cocked his shining eye and said, 'Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepyhead?'"  I grew up with Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.

I hope the lives of kids today are still enriched by poetry.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monkey See...

On our morning walkabout, Bessie Anne stopped to take a slurp from what she considers to be her water dish.  Frank, seeing this, wandered over, gave it some thought, and rather than stick his face into the water but not wanting miss out, daintily dipped in his paw and licked it.  Pearl walked by me and muttered, "Frank's an idiot."

Ah, technology.  It turns out both Dave and Clay went to Sonoma for the NASCAR road race yesterday, but not together.  In the crowd of thousands and unable to connect in person, these two were texting each other back and forth.  Dave sent me photos of his driver and mine.  Mine, Clint Bowyer, won!  Made my day.

After the race, we went out to finish weeding the herb garden and walkway.  The cats got bored with chores and played tag in the oregano.  Bess moved along with me, dozing on the cool earth as I worked my way down the line.  In addition to the great weather, this task was made even more pleasant by the music from a different winery, a cover band this time, and they weren't half bad.

It was a good day.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


A thirty-degree drop in temperature.  Seriously?  Tank top back to turtleneck.  Really?  I've given up  wondering what is "normal" weather.  It's almost July!  I gave some thought to mowing down the front yard yesterday, but it was too damp in the morning.  By the time the sun came out, the wind had come up and I gave it up.  Late in the afternoon, we all went out to pull some weeds by hand.  That's when I got the bonus.

Fitzpatrick's, across the way, was throwing a ceilidh, an Irish party!  The hills were alive with the sound of music (I must have read that somewhere).  I love Celtic music.  I defy anyone to hear the fiddle, tin whistle, and bodhran and keep their feet still.  I even have my own bodhran, the Celtic frame drum, but never learned to play it well.  The cats opted for the house, but Bess and I retreated from the wind to the front porch to sit and listen and enjoy the party in absentia until we were just too cold and had to go in.  Still in an Irish mood, I made corned beef hash for dinner.

I overslept this morning.  Having removed the comforter from the bed during the heat wave, changing positions in the frigid night was like dipping a foot into an ice bath and I woke up every time I moved.  Where was that darned foot-warming cat when I needed him?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Cookie Monster!

Barely back from the barn, I glanced up and there was Faye standing quietly at the screen door, tail wagging.  "Well, hello old girl, how's tricks?  Wait right there."  We've got the routine down pat and I went to get the leash and a pocketful of cookies (milk bones).  Faye cracks me up when she does that Lab bounce of happiness.  She waited patiently while I leashed her to the porch post and then gobbled a few cookies.  Bessie Anne did the welcoming butt-sniff ritual and got her own cookie, then came in the house and ignored our guest.  I left a message for Faye's people and went on about my business.  Thankfully, the temperature continued to drop so Faye could stay where she was.  No way could I have left her on the porch when the sun moved over had it been one of the hot, hot days.  A bowl of water, and later a small bowl of kibble, we waited.  And waited.  Along about three-thirty, I called and left another message, and finally at four her very apologetic mama came to pick her up.  Faye got into the back seat and sat looking out the window like a kid reluctant to leave Grandma's house.

Faye is an old dog, so nonaggressive that the cats will walk right by her.  She never goes over by the chickens or down by the goats.  Talking to her mama, I explained again the dangers of letting a dog run loose up here, and why I either confine the dog or call Animal Control, depending on the nature of the animal and the threat to my own livestock.  Dogs probably outnumber people on the hill, but it's only rarely that one sees them running the roads; most have responsible owners.

Unreal as it seems, it evidently rained during the night.  The deck is wet and the sky is heavily overcast.  I am not complaining!  Checking my annotated calendar, yes, it was just a couple of days ago we were sweltering in hundred-degree weather.  I'll just enjoy this cool air while I can.  It's going to be a good day.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Soul Food

It's amazing how a bunch of flowers will lift your spirits.  Kellan and Wil take their wares to the Wednesday night farmers' market in Placerville (as well as on weekends in P'ville and El Dorado).  Wasn't I the lucky one to receive these "leftovers" when Kellan came to get her milk and eggs yesterday?

To nourish the body as well as the soul, she also brought the first summer squash:  zucchini, patty pan, and crookneck, a small cabbage, and a bag of mixed greens for salad.  Dinner last night was squash sauteed with garlic and onion with a sprinkle of Chinese five-spice and mixed with rice left over from the night before to sop up the vegetable juices.  I think I'm on the winning end of this barter deal we've got going.

Temperatures started dropping yesterday, and this morning it's back to slippers and robe.  I can deal with that! 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


Yesterday was the official first day of summer.  The hummers finished the first twenty-five-pound bag of sugar.  Deck plants wilt if not watered every day.  The west point and part of the driveway got mowed down before eight in the morning.  Bessie Anne and I took a dip in the pool in the afternoon.  I poured the warm water over her back before she got out.  It says a lot about the heat when a dog won't shake water off its back, but stays wet and finds a shady place to lie down.  Yep, it's summertime.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Early To Rise

The beastie boys seem to do their best hunting just before dawn.  They yip and howl as they run the Gray Rock corridor, waking Bess and me.  Sometimes I turn over and go back to sleep (she always does), but in the summer it behooves me to get up and get started on the day.  The wet winter and late rains caused the weeds and underbrush to shoot up.  Then the sunshine, heat, and winds dried everything so there is high fire danger in the hills.  The dreaded star thistle is everywhere, not yet sending out spiny seeds.  As they say, timing is everything.  Mowing has to be done in the early morning while there is still some moisture in the air.  I'll be darned if I would go out in the middle of the day; I'd fall off the mower with a heat stroke.  Late in the afternoon and there is the possibility of striking a spark and causing a fire.  I got a good portion of the west point mowed down yesterday before it was time to milk.  I'd have started sooner, but had to put gas in the little tractor.  I remember a time when a gas can didn't need instructions.  Just getting the cap off the spout nearly stymied me, and I had to get a pair of vise grips to "squeeze here and push down."  That accomplished, getting the gas to flow past the safety valve thingy and into the tank required some coordination.  Technology having saved me from myself, gasoline spurting everywhere, I finally filled the tank and got the job done.  Or nearly done; there's still a lot of yard(s) to mow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


After two whole days of doing nothing but enjoying Dolly's company, I had no energy left!  My friend left for home in the morning and I headed out for chores.  Still hotter than the gates of hell down in the barn, the day was actually cooler than the weekend.  Having drifted into a nap later, I was awakened by the thumping of Bessie's tail (she's not a barker) as she welcomed Kellan at the door.  Kellan and Wil now spend their weekends at a couple of local farmers' markets, selling the fresh vegetables and herbs they work all week to grow.  A farmer's life "ain't for wimps."  The heat had taken its toll on Kellan too, and so, with the cooling delta breezes blowing up from the valley, we sat on the front porch and spoke of "sailing ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings."  (Lewis Carroll would have approved.)

It was a good day.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Out Of the Pool!

Despite repeated warnings, Dolly persisted in splashing and yelling at the top of her lungs and playing in the deep end.  I finally had to order her out of the pool and give her a time out.

While Doll did not bring rain to Farview, she sent it to Michigan, where it delayed the NASCAR race.  This woman has the Power!  Regardless of personal favorites, the crowd went wild when Dale Earnhardt, Jr., broke his losing streak.  Everyone roots for Junior, one of the nicest guys in racing.

Not quite as bad as the day before, it was still too hot to do more than watch movies...and talk.  (We do a lot of that.)  It's been such a good visit.  Now if I could just get her to behave nicely in the pool.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Safety First

One can't be too careful.

The only danger we were in yesterday was heat stroke.  Late afternoon, ninety-eight degrees in the shade, ninety in the house.  Taking a pitcher of margaritas out to the deck, Dolly and I pulled chairs over and put our feet in the pool.  I'd warned her about going in head first and she'd answered that if she couldn't dive in, she wouldn't go in at all!  See how she is?

The day was pretty much taken up with a couple of milk customers and making a run to Mt. Aukum for feed.  Oh, and talking!  Too hot to do much of anything else, we watched a couple of movies.  Hearing the chickens go berserk in the afternoon, I fired off a shot at a coyote who'd been looking for a take-out dinner.  I didn't have time to tell Dolly what I was going to do and it scared the bejeezus out of her (can't say we don't provide excitement for our guests).

A breeze has kicked in this morning, so there's hope for a cooler day today.  Dolly will be on her own while I'm down in the barn.  I'm worried that she'll try a half-gainer with a twist when I'm not around.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wear Your Floaties!

Ta da!  Ninety-nine degrees in town, so it wasn't surprising that I had to go to two stores to find a pool, but find one I did.  I brought it home (it fit in the cab of the truck) and proceeded with installation.  This pool actually came with instructions in two languages!  With the dimensions of a large water dish (which is what Bess thinks it is), the directions also included a Warning printed in big block letters.  "Do not dive!  Diving could result in severe injury."  Difficult as it may be to restrain myself, I shall refrain from diving into the pool, and I will tell Dolly not to do that either.

This pool might serve a second purpose.  For whatever reason, the little peeper frogs on the deck have started coming into the house.  They're hard to catch and pee in my hand when I pick them up.  Perhaps if they have another place to cool off, they'll stop looking for shade in the living room.  I'll have to warn them about diving.

Preparing the guest room yesterday, I discovered I needed to change the sheets on the bed.  Not because they weren't fresh, but because they were flannel!  Obviously, it's been awhile since I've had sleep-over company.  It wouldn't be kind to make Dolly sleep in an overheated bed. 

There isn't a rain cloud in the sky, but it's early yet.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Off To Town

Just past the computer screen, I can see out the window and watch a beautifully antlered buck grazing in the first light of dawn.  He's about ten feet from the deck, and he occasionally lifts his head to look at me.  There are worse ways to start the day.

I'll be going into town today to buy an umbrella.  Dolly arrives tomorrow and I want to be prepared.  This may be the visit that breaks her tradition of bringing rain, as it is predicted to be up in the hundreds this weekend.  Actually, what I am going to buy is a small wading pool to put on the deck for Bessie and me.  Dolly can use it too, but we'll probably have to take turns.  Getting sluiced down is the best way I know to get a little relief in a heat wave.  Down in the barn, birds sit on the wires, beaks gaping and wings spread away from their bodies.  Ground squirrels lay flat in the dirt as they wait for me to put out their breakfast (nighttime treats for the goats).

Rain or shine, it will be good to see my friend.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Watch Your Step

Little peeper frogs have always colonized the potted plants on the deck, singing their night songs, enjoying their mini-pools in the saucers under the pots.  Big warty toads have been much more scarce until this year.  This year they're everywhere.  In the daytime, they rustle under the leaves.  In the evening, I really have to look down as I do chores because they're out in the driveway, in the paths to the coops, and in the barn.  Frogs fling themselves as if shot by cannons; toads walk rather than hop, and it takes them longer to get out of the way.  The last thing I want to do is step on one.  Since toads prefer a dry climate, I wonder if the increased numbers are an omen for a long hot summer.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Temperature's Rising

Running close to one hundred, the heat is already taking its toll.  After coming up from the barn where I go from "glow" to downright sweat, all activity ceases at my house.  Watching Bessie Anne move from the entryway tiles to the stone hearth and back again, trying to find a cool spot, I finally took her out on the deck and used the clippers to cut away most of her heavy winter coat.  She'll need more trimming today, but she must be more comfortable with her "summer do."  I'm filling the hummers' feeders twice a day now.  They also suffer from the heat and need a lot of hydration.  The lovely weather of the weekend just past is but a memory.

Pearl has developed a new routine.  She's a rather independent girl, disappearing when company is here, rarely coming to sit on my lap, asking to be petted only on her terms.  All that being said, for the past couple of weeks she has been jumping up on the sink as I brush my teeth before bedtime, rubbing against me as she pushes back and forth on the narrow lip of the sink.  It's really hard to brush teeth and pet cat at the same time while trying not to spit toothpaste on her back.  I am readily available all day long in much more favorable circumstances; why she's chosen this particular time and place...well, that's a cat for you.

I've got to adjust my work schedule in order to get more done in the cool of morning.  The long spring had me spoiled.  Hanging laundry on the line in direct sun yesterday afternoon nearly wiped me out.  When the temperature rises, I drop.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cosmic Action

My mother had a saying for nearly every occasion, repeated so often they became woven into the tapestry of my memories.  "Thoughts go out into the cosmos and come back as action."  That was her way of saying be careful what you wish for.  True or not, I so regret complaining about the noisy baby birds down in the barn.  Over the past week, one nest after the other has gone silent, building material scattered on the ground.  It can't be the work of cats.  Even if they were brave enough to go in with the goats, the nests were too close to the roof to give them room to maneuver.  I can't imagine what night thing has done this.  There are no feathers or parts left behind.  I'd like to think the babies were old enough to fly off on their own, but I know better.  The parents are mating again, desperate to propagate.  If there are more hatchlings, I will never complain about those baby voices.  The cosmos might hear me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Couldn't Be Better

Jupiter must have been aligned with Mars yesterday; everything went just right.  Bessie's last pill went down and she'd stopped the head shaking.  Milking went smoothly.  I found a pair of matching socks (dressing up in jeans and tee-shirt instead of bibbies), and was out of the house in record time.  Driving the back roads through the hills to Fiddletown was an adventure.  Wildly winding, potholed and rutted, the one-lane road allowed time to enjoy the forests and pasture lands along the way (keeping one eye on the road).  There is a bridge so narrow that the guardrails are scraped by drivers who misjudged the width of their vehicle.  At the end of this journey, I arrived at Tinka and Bill's.  Tinka had said, "You'll recognize the big white house."  It wasn't the house that was my landmark, it was Tinka's beautiful gardens that flow around the property, under the trees, covering the slopes in every color of the rainbow.  Greeted by welcoming hugs by Kit, Tinka, and Earlene, and a kiss from Bill, we later lunched al fresco on egg-salad sandwiches.  Those who've never had anything but store-bought eggs would not believe the difference in flavor of eggs fresh from the hens.  Tinka enjoys her chickens as much as I do mine.  Watermelon and just-baked cookies; I was in heaven.  In this group of talkers, topics were batted back and forth like a tennis match, words tumbling forth like water from a spring.  Moving our chairs into the dappled shade, I was as green with envy as Tinka's grass.  She has a lawn.  Dozens of hummingbirds ruffled our hair as they swooped from feeder to feeder hung in the trees.  Fat black Angus cattle came to water in the nearby pasture.  I won't even apologize for staying longer than I'd intended.

The length of the state between us notwithstanding, Kit is a special friend.  Her visits are so welcome, and I always look forward to the next time.  It was a pleasure to meet Earlene, good company.  These women are on their way home today, stopping to see other friends closer to the coast.  I wish them bon voyage.

It was a perfect day; just couldn't have been better.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Spoonful of Sugar

Mary Poppins said a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.  In my house, with my patient, a buttered pill followed by a soft doggie treat, accompanied by a lot of patience, has gotten us through the past couple of weeks.  Because of Bessie Anne's sore throat, she's been on a soft food diet instead of her regular kibble.  All well and good.  The problem is this:  Frank and Pearl know the sound of the treat bag being opened and four times a day they've shown up at my feet.  "Where's ours?  How come she gets a treat and we don't?"  Envisioning a picket line with placards saying, "Unfair to cats," I've been handing out treats left and right.  Then there's the canned-food situation.  "We like beef in gravy!  We want turkey strips!  You like her better than us.  Where's ours?"  To keep them from ganging up on Bess and eating her dinner, I put a spoonful in their dish too.  The last pill will be administered this morning, and I'm weaning Bessie back to her kibble by partially softening it with water.  All this special treatment is coming to a screeching halt.  If anyone drives by and sees "Occupy Fair Play" or "Farview Unfair" signs, I can explain.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Three's Company

Why is it that when working against a deadline, simple tasks take longer than usual?  As if knowing guests were due soon, the girls upped their milk production by a hundred or so squirts each; that's like adding one more goat and took that much more time.  It was one of the hard days when no buyer was on the horizon and the milk was going into the bucket for the pigs.  Not that I begrudge the pigs, but it does seem like a lot of work for nothing; definitely better than pouring milk down the drain.  Regardless of what the day holds, the goats must be milked and that's that.

Finished with chores at last, there was just enough time to sluice down and spiff up a bit before a delightful trio of ladies drove up, my friends Kit and Tinka and a new acquaintance, Earlene.  Rapid-fire chatter filled the air as I put the finishing touches to white chili and fresh cheese bread for lunch, with lemon custard for dessert.  Visits with Kit and Tinka are far between and there was a lot of catching up to do with them and also getting to know Earlene.  We later moved out to the deck to sit amongst the hummers and enjoy the mild weather before walking down to meet the goats and chickens.  Saying goodbye was easier because I'll see them again at Tinka's on Sunday.

I am not the only one who is heartbroken that I'll Have Another will not run in the race at Belmont.  He had a strong chance at winning racing's Triple Crown:  Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont.  He would have been only the twelfth horse to accomplish that, the last being in the '70s.  This magnificent animal is being retired.  Bookies everywhere are crying in their beer.

Drama closer to home continues.  So far, my neighbor has managed to duck and dodge being served the citation for letting her dogs run loose.  This is irritating Animal Control Guy and strengthening his resolve (and mine).  There are time limitations that if not met will require me to refile the complaint.  Not following through would be a waste of everyone's time and there would be no hope of resolution.  Short of strapping on a pistol, legal recourse is all that is left to me to protect my livestock.

To end on a couple of happy notes, after the early morning wake up, I was able to medicate Bess's ear and there was no more head shaking the rest of the day.  Apparently the foxtail was flushed out and did not require a trip to the vet.  Whew!  And today is my grandson's eighteenth birthday and he's alive to celebrate after his dumb stunt this week.  It's a good day.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Man and Beast

I was awakened at three this morning by the violent head shaking and rattling tags that presage a foxtail in Bessie's ear.  What is it with this poor dog?  She was just cleared by the doctor yesterday:  throat is better, blood pressure normal, all tests negative, vaccines administered.  And now this.  Of course, now I'm awake and she's asleep.

Tractor Guy snuck over again and finished disking the south pasture.  What a nice man.

A call from my son Pete informed me that, indeed, what goes around comes around.  What a child does to a parent comes back to bite when that child has a kid of his own.  Bruised, battered, thoroughly embarrassed, but not broken, my grandson did one of those dumb things that teenagers do and ended up injured and in the emergency room.  It put his parents through hell, but he came out in one piece, for which we are all grateful.  It gave Pete flashbacks to his own youthful escapades.  Having raised three sons, I sometimes think boys have a hidden self-destruct button that they simply must try out every so often.  It seems that a second generation of guardian angels is on duty.  The males in this family work 'em overtime.

Company is coming today.  I'll have to kick the bags under my eyes out of the way to get to the door, but I am so looking forward to their arrival.  At least Bessie is getting some rest.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Way Off Base

I called the vet's office to confirm Bessie's appointment for yesterday.  "That appointment isn't scheduled until tomorrow."  "I can't make a Friday appointment!"  "Tomorrow is Thursday."  "You're kidding me!  I would have sworn on a stack of Wonder Woman comic books that today is Thursday."  "No, ma'am."  That said and plans revised, I just checked my email and got a request to change pick-up time from my milk customer today and replied that I had no plans, come anytime.  Of course it did not strike me until I'd hit "send" that today is Thursday and I have to take Bess to the doctor, and so sent another reply to explain that.  I may not live off the grid, but I definitely live off the calendar and off the clock.  With the goats, there is no such thing as a weekend, so no punctuation to the week and unless there's a change in the weather, one day is much like another.  My daily schedule is governed by sunup-sundown and it's been difficult to keep track of Bessie's meds.  One pill has to be given a half-hour before the others, twice a day.  Out-of-town company is coming tomorrow (and I think it's agreed that tomorrow is Friday).  They've already been warned that if they come early, they'll be shot on the spot.  All this scheduling has me in a tizzy. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Tractor Guy

Sound travels weirdly in the hills and it's not always easy to tell from which direction a sound is coming.  Someone yelling in the front yard cannot be heard in the back yard.  I can hear Fritz calling for Faye, but he cannot hear me call back that she is (or is not) here.  Yesterday morning I heard a tractor, but could not tell who was out working so early.  I went on about my business and it was not until I was down with the goats that I saw Tractor Guy coming over the rise in my field!  My friend and neighbor Joel had snuck past and was disking the south pasture.  Like the shoemaker's elves, he comes unexpected and unannounced and does this kind deed for me.  All he will ever take in return is my thanks, and thank him I do, most sincerely.  I did tell him, however, that he will never make it on the farm NASCAR circuit as he persists in making right-hand turns (and that he missed a spot).

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gone Again

Away from home two days in a row; I can hardly stand the excitement!  Of course, I'm not getting much done here, either, with all this gadding about.  Weather for wine tasting was perfect.  Yesterday, not so much.  It either drizzled or poured rain all day for my grocery shopping expedition with Arden.  The outing was really just an excuse to get together with my friend and the rain did not dampen our spirits one bit.  It did, however, keep us from wandering through one of the local nurseries as we'd planned.

There is not a cloud in the sky this morning, and the turkeys are already on the march.  Unlike the chickens (who are at it night and day), turkeys appear to have specific breeding seasons.  The toms are currently enticing the hens with all their masculine finery displayed and gobbling to beat the band.  "Check me out!  Am I not handsome?"  It's a good thing I'm up early as these boys start their love songs (okay, that's a stretch of the imagination) at the break of dawn.

Bessie Anne continues to improve, not limping anymore.  Good girl that she is, she rolls over on her back when I approach with pills in hand.  It's not her favorite thing, but she puts up with it four times a day.  I try to find new ways to make the dreaded pills more appetizing with butter and special treats, but a pill is a pill.  Tomorrow she goes back to Dr. Ric for a follow-up appointment.

I'm off to the election booth.  Just another day for this social butterfly.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wine, Women, and Song

The women, in this case, were a new friend and myself.  The wine and song, and some yummy tidbits, were part of the Fair Play Wine Festival that we attended yesterday.  It's an annual event put on by the local wineries, who open their doors, provide a sampling of some great wines and gourmet snacks, and have live music under the trees.  Fifteen wineries participated this year, and we managed to hit five.  The weather, thankfully, was temperate and we could fully enjoy the outing.  It was the first time Debbie K. and I had had an opportunity to get to know each other, and the first time she'd ever gone wine tasting.  That was pretty surprising, considering her folks had lived here forty-odd years.  It's always fun to introduce a newbie to the Festival.

It was a really good day.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Big and Little

There is a potted lavender plant on the deck that is just coming into bloom.  Bumblebees are particularly fond of lavender.  A really big black bumbler landed on the very tip of a young stem and it was like watching a kid on a trampoline; it bounced him up and down so.  Perhaps it was a young bumbler, too, because although there were other, more mature flowers, this bee landed there again and again just for the fun of bouncing.  All work and no play....

Down in the barn, the baby birds are getting big enough that I can see their little heads when their parents bring tidbits.  They stretch their thinner-than-pencil necks and open their gaping maws, all the while yeeping at the top of their lungs.  They keep up a constant chant of, "Feed me!  Feed me!," that gets louder and louder when a weary parent appears, and then it turns into, "Me!  Me!  Me!"  There are at least three in one nest (maybe more), and only two parents, so competition for breakfast is fierce.

Cindy has got her girlish figure back.  The darnedest thing happens to her; it's happened twice before.  She has a periodic problem with fluid retention.  She swells up like a toad until she looks five months pregnant and stays like that for weeks.  It must be uncomfortable.  Then one day some balance shifts in her body and she starts to lose it all.  The flood gates open and she pees without control until she's back to normal.  She's the only goat in the herd that is affected in this way.

It's been hot, really hot, and the barn squirrels stretch out on the cool dirt inside, yawning and dozing while they wait for me to finish milking.  Even the mice are somnolent, one sitting on the lidded milk bucket for the longest time (that was a first!), right at the side of the milking stand.  I think it's summertime.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Totem's Back

Did I just see what I thought I saw?  Talking with my friend in Seattle yesterday, from the corner of my eye I caught sight of a tiny tail zipping behind one of Bessie's stuffed toys across the room.  Oh, good grief, what creature has moved into the house now?  Phone in hand, I went to investigate and found a misguided lizard, a baby, smaller than my little finger.  Linda waited patiently while Lizzy and I played hide-and-seek a minute until I caught her (him?) and took the mini-totem outside to put in one of the flower pots.

Lizards are health nuts.  They never walk when they can run.  They get plenty of Vitamin D.  They do about a thousand push-ups a day.  They avoid carbs and eat plenty of protein.  They make me tired just thinking of their strenuous routine.  Since I am a confirmed slug in the exercise department and a carbaholic, how a lizard became my totem is beyond me.

I think Bessie's meds are kicking in.  In the afternoon, she had more bounce in her step and more sparkle in her eyes.  Using Linda's phrase, I am "cautiously optimistic" that Bess is on the mend.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Good Night's Sleep

It was pretty darned lonely around here Wednesday night.  Frank was distraught, going from room to room and calling for his special friend.  I was trying not to think of worst-case scenarios and missing Bessie Anne like crazy.  The office was, for a change, not busy when I went to pick her up yesterday and Dr. Ric had time to talk with me and show me her x-rays.  The best news is that there is no evidence of the tumors he'd suspected in either her lymph nodes or her spine.  (That was the worst-case fear.)  She does have a significantly enlarged heart.  As my friend Linda said, "[Bessie's] big heart is no surprise."  She also has bronchitis and inflamed kidneys.  He changed meds for her raw throat, which has not responded yet, and has given her pain meds for her legs.  Dr. Ric is a bit frustrated because there is nothing definitive for her symptoms.  Courtney brought Bess out and when my girl saw me her tail went so fast I thought it would lift her back end off the ground.  In such a short time, she had become the sweetheart of the staff and everyone had to come and say goodbye.  For her part, Bess had spent the night at the spa, getting a pedicure and the canine equivalent of a Brazilian trim (due to the urinary problem).

Back at the house, Frank came running to rub all over Bess to welcome her home.  Bessie went to each of her favorite places to lie down for a few minutes, moving on to the next as if to make sure nothing had changed.  My girl is home, and we all slept like logs last night.