Monday, February 21, 2005

It's a nice day here in Texas; in the seventies, and we have our windows open.

About an hour ago, I was in the office, and I heard a strange noise out front. The kids are out with Stephen, so I knew it couldn't be them (the usual source of strange noises). I look out the dining room window and see:

Yes, that is a rooster eating dog food.

And where are the dogs?

Watching him.

Guess I need to buy a different brand of dog food.

Mr. Teen Roo apparently went off to the back and had this chat with his buddies:

"Guess what I did?"
"I went to the front."
"The FRONT!?" Young hens start to look him up and down appreciatively.
"And I ate the dogs' food!"
"They didn't chase you?"
"Nah, I'm too much rooster for them. They were too scared to bother me. Farmer lady looked out the window too, and she made a funny cackling noise, then there were lots of clicks, but she was too amazed by me to shoo me away."
"What's it like?"
"The front?"
"No, the dog food!"
"Aw, man, you should taste it... it's smoooooth."
"Come on let's do it!"
"No, you, do it!"
"Well, let's go TOGETHER!"

And so they did...

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Bad Attitudes

Seems there are a lot of grouchy mammals around here today. Okay, true confession: just the horses and me. I am irritable and unmotivated, and the horses are just plain mean.

After pondering it, I think there are two things going on: the weather and physical discomfort. Almost all the horses now have rain rot, a skin fungus that causes them to lose patches of hair and must be itchy. Shows up when it is really rainy, and it has been. Of course, with rain comes no sun, and no sun for a long time apparently makes not only mamas but also horses a bit touchy.

Physically for me I am, I guess, just having a bunch of normal getting older things happening, none of which are worthy of mention really, they are just aggravating and uncomfortable. And lack of sun has always proven a problem for me. In fact, moving to Texas greatly alleviated the winter depressions I suffered in New England.

So really I suppose I am just having a pity party. ;-) Bleh! Enough of that!

Back to the horses... it has become increasingly difficult to get them into their corrals for dinner. Bunny, the mean mare, goes in readily, then no one else wants to. Can hardly blame them. Despite the fact that she has her own corral, own dish, etc, she bites at anyone who comes near the outside of her corral, which means no one wants to go in the corrals on either side of her.

Quite frankly, she scares me, but I am trying to be firm with her and not let on. It is a weird little dance I play with the horses, especially given my lack of experience managing them and the fact that I have never ever been with a person who knows what they're doing, who has guided me in handling them.

Stephen loves working with them, and whenever it works out, he does the evening feeding. He is bolder than I, and is the one who first got Quervo the donkey in a halter and put the kids on him for a little ride. This past week he has gotten a halter on all the horses except Chester, the super shy elderly horse. I'm impressed! He really wants to learn how to ride, as do I, but he is much more of a learn-by-doing kind of guy. When it comes to 1500 lb mammals I lean more toward the learn-from-someone-who-has-a-clue-and-is-standing-right-there-with-me method.

Bunny isn't the only one biting. Everyone except Cherokee has been biting each other, the donkey only in self-defense, but biting nonetheless. Poor Cherokee just runs away if he can; he is clearly low man on the totem pole. He and Quervo have very sweet dispositions.

As far as major changes to the farm (of which we have many planned) I kind of feel like we are a videotape that is either paused or occasionally set to frame-by-frame slow motion. Oh, let's be honest. This applies to minor changes as well. In a word, NOTHING seems to be getting done. This despite the fact that we get up at 5:00am and seem to be going constantly. By the time the kids are going to bed, we are often so exhausted we fall asleep with them!

Rain certainly is causing much of our slow-down. It is nastily wet and muddy here. I tried to dig holes for fruit treees, but our clay soil is now a bog, with standing water on top of it. I have been gathering leaves and buying compost and humus to mix in with the soil we will plant them in if it ever stops raining. Our own compost is too new to use directly on plants yet.

The chickens are fine. They make us laugh. I just love seeing them run around; but it sure would be nice if they would, um, "use the restroom", BEFORE they set off for a picnic lunch in our front yard. It is kind of embarassing to walk out to speak to your neighbors and realize there is a big fat chicken poop on the front walk. :-P

I have still not figured out how to put pictures up here. Anyone have any advice? I am working on a Mac if that makes a difference.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I love watching birds

Not much going on with the farm these days. It is cold and wet here, not great weather for working outside. Of course, not as cold and wet as it is in New England, where we grew up. As one brother-in-law from RI put it "I live in an igloo."

The animals are faring well despite the cold and rain. We did have one chicken die, probably from internal injuries sustained from a horse. The horses don't really notice when they step on the chickens.

The chickens we have left are not big enough to eat or lay eggs yet, so we are just feeding, feeding, feeding them. I so enjoy having them around. They are totally free range and we find them in all sorts of places. Amazingly, as far as we can tell, without exception they all pile into the chicken house each night.

One night I blocked them in to help keep the rain and wind from coming through their door (which is just an opening), and in the morning counted them as they poured out like a poultry waterfall. I was reassured, as the number I came up with seems like more chickens than we ought to have, given the number who have died at the hands of various mammals, ourselves included. So they are apparently not running off and eloping or giving themselves over to provide fine dining for the coyotes. Good news for us!

We do have a lot of songbirds coming through in large flocks these days. Just beautiful. I'm sure I'll feel differently once our garden is bearing, but right now it is enchanting to see dozens of bluebirds happily sitting in a tree in our backyard. I had never seen a bluebird until I moved here, and WOW! They are SO blue, with orange bellies. We see birds here that we had not seen before in Texas.

Because we are inside so much these days, we've been making plans to rearrange the house somewhat. This is exciting for me, as we are converting the current office into a school room, which will make managing our bajillion school projects, papers and books much easier.

We've also been enjoying visits from beloved out of town family members, and are soon to celebrate Farmer Boy's eighth birthday. Hard to believe.

Life is busy, and life is good.