Monday, December 12, 2011

From a Different Perspective

Life is full of ups and downs.  And I seem to getting down a lot lately.
The other day my chiropractor said that I really need to spend a lot less time on the ground.
I told him, "But you miss so much with your eyes almost six feet above the ground."
I don't need the Discovery channel to see the grass growing or bugs moving around.  My left leg has that all covered with it's keen ability to just not be there for me at times, which provides me with a close up viewing of sights I haven't noticed since I was a child.  And when was the last time you looked straight up at the sky?

Being tall has it's disadvantages too, it's a lot farther to fall.  And a lot of things just don't fit right.  Clothes, chairs and sofas are too low, beds and blankets are too short, that bottom shelf at the store is impossible to reach, yes life is tough on the above average height group.  Have you ever gotten into a short person's car to drive and forgot to move the seat back first?  And speaking of cars, OMG !!!  Are all car designers 4.5 ft. tall or what.  Recently I went on a trip to Florida with friends and their car had molded head rests that may have been comfortable for a shorter person, but the tops hit me in the back of head forcing my head down at an un-natural angle when I sat back comfortably.  Try that for 12 hrs. a day for 2 days straight.

I also worked for 30 years as a grain elevator employee.  They are designed by double jointed midgets with a sick sense of humor, who are bound and determined to make tall people suffer for their shortness.  I actually met a few of them. Oh, they are nice enough to your face, but don't turn your back on them.  I really felt sorry for our maintenance crew, anybody who wasn't built like a dwarf didn't last long.

Anyway, last week we were watching our grandson Owen and he wanted to go outside and play with the goats. I happened to remember the camera so the following photos are the result of our adventure.

At 2.4 years of age he has mastered driving.

Fern anxiously awaiting her playmate.

Ugh Oh, this is a bad idea.

Ok, backing up on uneven ground wasn't smart either.

Another one bites the dust.

Okay, I'll go check on Dad.

A little HELP here please...

I ain't picking him up.....

Maybe he just need's a kiss.

So see, it ain't all bad, just takes a little different perspective.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Winter Fun ?

Winter is here. Yesterday we spent all day cutting firewood and cleaning the stinky duck pen. PEW, they are as nasty as pigs.
We have been trying to get everything ready for winter, but still are far behind. Haven't even got the storm windows on yet.
Fern's HAPPY face.

The goaty girls are fascinated with the snow. Peaches has a nice thick coat and isn't bothered too much by the cold, but Fern has a very thin coat and does a lot of shivering out in the cold wind. I guess I will have to make her a blanket coat to use when she is outside.
It was nice enough yesterday to let all of the animals out, there were patches of grass for them to feed in. Since the leaves have fallen from the trees the girls have been eating grass too. The ducks were also liking the snow for a little while but then their feet must have got cold and they all went back inside. The poor turkeys were confused and trying to mate. Evidently they can't tell the beginning of winter from the end. The terrorists (our Guineas) were everywhere and for the first time since the young ones were born, didn't bother the other animals. They also went in last night without any coaxing, another first. It normally takes at least half an hour of chasing to get them inside, and thats not until it gets dark. Last night they went in while it was still light out. We didn't even have to chase the chickens inside, so everyone must have been looking forward to the warmth of the coop. I know we were more than ready to get in out of the cold.
Two weeks ago Wifey had a little accident with the golf cart and sprained her knee. She was going too fast and turned too tight and fell off the cart. It is doing better now, but for a few days all she could do was hobble from her chair to the bathroom and back. I on the other hand had been bragging that it had been a long time since I had fallen. So Monday I fell four times, twice my leg gave out, then I forgot about the trailer hitch on the truck sticking out so far and then got my finger caught in the collar of a hungry goat. I was trying to hold the goats back so Wifey could pour feed into their pan. Peaches may be small but she is VERY powerful. Her Boer goat lineage insures that all 80 pounds of her is all muscle. She twisted around so fast twice and was pulling so hard that I thought for sure she had broken my finger. She knocked me off my feet and Wifey was hollering that I was choking her. My poor finger was twisted in that collar so tight that Lynn had to undo the collar to get us free from one another. It is still swollen and sore.
 Note to self: NEVER get between a goat and her food. And keep your fingers out of the collar.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vanity ?

Ever since I saw our family coat-of-arms at my grandfather's house as a child I have been enamored with heraldry and the pride of my Irish heritage.   As I got older and interested in genealogy and family history I have found that the first Dillon in Ireland had this device on his shield.

He was a Norman nobleman and it is easy to see how De Lion was Anglicize into Dillon.  He fought for the English crown and was granted lands and titles in their war against Ireland.  All of his descendants bore some form of this device on their shields.  The last recorded Coat of Arms  was the one in the first picture.
Through my limited studies I have yet to find proof of our lineage to this family name, but I am still trying.
Lesser sons, wives and daughters fared poorly in being kept tract of in records and history.

Now for another childhood fantasy....tattoos.  My grandfather sported a blurry faded tattoo on his forearm of a hoola girl.  A permanent reminder of too many beers at a local fair and an Irishman's willingness to take any dare.  Although he regretted getting it, I liked it.  And have wanted one as long as I can remember.

Last week on a trip to visit our youngest daughter in Florida we were taken to a local attraction I can best describe as a tourist trap, my daughter showed us a shop where she got her last tattoo.  Wifey made the mistake of asking if I wanted one.  I almost choked on my immediate reply of "you know I do".  So she told me to go pick one out.  I couldn't believe it was happening.  I went inside with a dragon in mind, but after looking through the artwork books I found a beautiful colorized Grey Wolf.  I found the perfect one.  Until my daughter took me to see the tattoo she wanted next.  On the wall behind a display book was what I finally got.  A small simple black rampant lion.  The type that was used on ancient shields.  When I asked the price which was reasonable, I was also told that it would be larger than depicted which was fine with me, I am kind of a large guy anyway.  Anyway I was told to come back in a half hour.

So I went outside and hung around for a while.

My friend's wife was upset that I would get my body marked so.  I told her it was no different than women wearing make-up or coloring their hair.  To which she argued that those were temporary, so I said having your ears pierced then.  And she said that she could let them grow shut, to which I answered it would still leave a mark.  And tattoos can be removed now with just a cream.  However she still didn't see why I would do it.  So I told her that where I was having it put no one would see it unless I chose to show it off.
Didn't matter.  Oh well, you can't please everyone, so I pleased myself.

The artist changed the style somewhat from the original depiction which made it even more pleasing to me.
And even shaded it instead of filling it all black, which I liked even better.  I told her I might just come back each time I visit until I get a whole coat-of-arms done.

Monday, October 24, 2011

"Say Goodnight Gracie"

We got Grace as a pre-owned cat from a girl who was going to college and could no longer care for her.  She had gotten her as a used cat about 4 years earlier.  We had Grace in our lives for 17 years.  That makes her at least 21 years old that we know of and probably a year or three older. Grace was neutered before we got her  but we were told she raised many litters of kittens.  Gracie was my cat from the time she arrived here and today was the last day of her life.  She died sleeping in the warm sunshine with all of the dignity she deserved.
For the past 2 years, age had finally caught up to poor old Gracie-Girl.  She slept more and did less. No longer were there her shared gifts of  partially eaten meals of birds and mice underfoot on the back doorstep.  The birds could finally eat at the bird feeder in peace.  Last winter she started having seizures, she stopped climbing into my lap to be petted and sleeping in my bed,  and late in the spring she started loosing bladder control when she had them.  Grace seemed embarrassed by her seizures. 

Grace then started staying outside except for meal time.  It got to be a chore to find her and get her to come in during the night or in the rain.  Many late nights were spent calling and looking for her.  Her hearing and eyesight were going.  She even started using the pet door to sneak outside at night.  She had lost weight and was getting rather scruffy because she could no longer clean herself thoroughly.

Last night she again went outside even though the temperature was near freezing.  This morning I saw her laying in the sunshine near the asparagus patch not far from the pine tree the chickens roost in.  As the goaty girls neared she woke up and hissed at Fern when she got too close, although she did accept a goaty kiss from both goat girls.

A couple of hours later I again went out to check on her and she was dead.
So in the words used by George Burns to close his TV show:
"Say Goodnight Gracie...."

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Terrorists on the Farm

Yes folks, it is a sad day when you have a terrorist group take over your farm.
(the above photo I took from my favorite comedian/ventriloquist's site
It started out as a small insurrection and built it's self into a full blown terrorist cell.
At first they just terrorized the chickens, turkeys and guineas that I hatched in the incubator and raised together, now they have taken over the whole farm.  The chicken coop is their base camp, and the large tree outside the run is their minaret.  I am not sure if they are Muslims or not but each evening at sundown they perch there and loudly announce to the world their intentions of taking over.

This is the leader of the group, Petey aka: "Saddam".
He systematically hunted down the previous leaders and attacked them viciously.

He started out with the last unsuccessful coup leader, Elvis, and beat him soundly with the remainder of his cell cheering him on.

Next it was Jeffrey's turn.  He put up more of a fight and "Saddam's" partner....

Brucie aka: "Osama Bin Guinea" charged in to help.  After they had cornered him, the rest of the group joined in defeathering his tail until I finally came to his rescue.
And then they took on the Alfa Rooster....

....BIG RED !!!
Sadly I didn't get there in time for the fight.  We were in the orchard picking apples when it started....

and by the time I got there it was mostly over.  They had chased him into our "garage tent" and after I booted out all of the terrorists, I found poor Red all tied up in the rope to raise the back door.  It was pity-full.  He was so twisted in the cord that he was pretty much immobilized.  After I calmed him down, I untied him and he was totally willing for me to do so.  No longer the proud rooster that he was.

After the roosters had all been subdued, the terrorists went to work on our big meat turkeys.

Now Thanksgiving, our tom, is a pretty laid back kind of guy.  However when Saddam and his group went after his girlfriend Christmas, all hell broke loose.  That huge half waddling, half flying 40 pound ball of feathered fury chased them all off and kept chasing them for over an hour.  He kept a vigilant eye on them after that.

Things have cooled down a little for now....

This is NOT a terrorist act, rather thee other way around.  Our heritage Spanish turkeys are intrigued with poor old Bear,  I don't know if they think he is a turkey or what, but they follow him around and here he stopped abruptly and they ran into him, he jumped and they got scared and took off.

But the terrorists are watching everyone....

But I'm not afraid !!!!

Thursday, September 1, 2011


My goats must be entering puberty.
How else can I explain the sudden change from docile loving Fern, into the goat from Hell?

Monday morning while Wifey took care of the poultry, I took the goaty girls out for their usual golf cart ride and morning feeding. When they finished I put them in their day pen. Then I left to cut some tree branches for them and filled their water bucket. Done with the morning chores, I went back to the house to take my morning pills and get some breakfast.

I got as far as my pill container when suddenly I heard a commotion outside and the goaty girls calling for me. I rushed to the kitchen window and sure enough they were standing on the golf cart, looking at me.....and laughing !!! I swear to God, if goats could laugh, that was what they were doing !!!

So I went back outside to put them back in the pen and look for their escape route. While I walked the perimiter of the pen they stared out at me cooly and continued their laughter. I found only one possible weak spot at the bottom of the fence between two pine trees where they had made a dust bath and there was a tiny gap between the fence and ground. So I went to get a stake and hammer to secure it with. Before I got halfway to the work shed, Fern was on the back of the cart with me.!! I made a U turn and put her back in the pen, broke a couple of forked sticks, and pounded them into the ground, securing the bottom of the fence. I went back to the workshed, grabbed my large hammer, some stakes and wire, then turned around to see both goats watching me from the doorway!!

Now I was getting pisssed off...I grabbed a cheap fence post for an old flowerbed we had and some wire too...Dang goats aren't getting out again !!!! I got the goat girls back on the cart and headed for the pen. As I got close I could see that my previous idea of where they were getting out was dead wrong.

The fence from a tree to the gate was in ruin. The fencepost in between was bent to the ground and the staples holding the fence to the tree had pulled out. Some of the welds between the wires of the stock fence had broken. It looked like a bull ran through it, not something my little goats did. I was first. Then I got MAD.

I went back to she tool shed for more supplies, a posthole digger, 8 ft. cedar post, cement and LONGER fence staples. (I should have added a chain-saw to the list.) Hours later, after chopping though uncountable tree roots, saying many choice words and cussing my goats out under my breath, I finally got the post in the ground and cemented in. Now it was time to tackle the fence, which had shrunk since getting pulled away from the tree. When I had originally put up the fence just a few weeks ago, it was loose and a little floppy, now I needed to stretch it 2 inches to reach the tree. I am sure somewhere there is an engineer who can explain the reason for this phenominon, but not me. So I grabbed a cheap ratcheting tie down strap, passed it through the fence and around the tree and started tightening it....the 1 inch strap broke. Okay, that one had sat in the back of my truck for a while, but I had a new one. Find it and try again. The thin metal ratchet stop bent and it released the pressure. (Have I ever told you about my great-great-great Uncle Murphy? He's the guy they named all of those Laws after, and the proginator of our Black Irish Luck.) Anyway I tied the two straps together to make one and finally got the fence stapled to the tree and then the new post. Now to track down them dang goats.

I found them browsing around the grape trees. have never seen a grape tree??? We have this Concord Grape vine that is impossible to kill. I have tried digging it out, burning it out and even salted the ground. It thrived on a Weed Killer diet one summer years ago. I even built a chicken run around it for a few years until it pulled the fence down.Why kill it you ask? Because we hardly ever get a grape from it. Whatever the beetles don't eat in the spring, the birds eat in the fall. And the vines love to climb trees and completly cover them, when this happens it becomes a grape tree. Once they pulled down a 30-40 ft. maple. Anyhow the goats were feasting on tree, grape and raspberry leaves. Oh yeah, the raspberry plants must have a symbiotic relationship with the grape vines and where one grows so does the other, bigger and better than anywhere else. I just dare anyone to try and plant either one anywhere else on this five acre sand lot and try to get it to grow, ain't gonna happen, I know, I have tried for years. WHAT....oh yeah...the goats !!

Okay, so I get the goats back into the pen, pick up my implements of construction and head for the tool shed and a well deserved rest. I got 40 ft. before Fern ran past me......

Now you can ask anyone who really knows me, I have a great deal of patience. Most of the time, anyway. But thoughts of my shotgun and blood on the ground flashed through my head accompanied, with the sound of goat laughter.....

I shook it off. Returned Miss Fern to her crying sibling in the pen, and BACKED away this time. I wanted to see how she was getting out.... I didn't have to wait long. She went to the back of the pen and ran towards the front and leapt up, got her front feet about 2/3 rd's of the way up the fence, replaced them with her hind feet, and sailed over the five foot tall fence !!!!!!!!

I sat amazed and dumbfounded....

Fern: "Did you see me dad? Huh. Huh. Did you see what I can do?

Me: "Yes Ferny-Fern, you are such a smart goaty girl."

Fern: "Thanks for tightening up the fence, it adds more spring to my jump."

Me: "Yes dear-heart, I noticed how high you flew over the fence. Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?"

Fern: (more goat laughter) "Ha, I could do that all day long, it was fun. You really worry to much you know."

Me: "Yes I am sure it was. It's all fun and games until somebody breaks a leg. Let's go get your sister before she cry's herself sick."

Fern: "Peaches is NOT my sister!!"

Me: "I know, but she thinks she is. Let's not tell her any different."

Fern: "This is going to cost you ya know."

Me: "Oh, I sort of figured it would."

I put the girls in the Pallet Palace for the night, went into the house, told Wifey about the situation, finally took my medication and took a nap.

Ever since, the goats have been re-assigned to the dog pen. It's the same height as their pen, but so far neither has escaped it.

Now I have to figure out a way to goat proof their pen. Any ideas?

Thursday, August 25, 2011


My grandson Owen has a great dislike of insects and his powerful child's eyesight can spot the tiniest of them. His normal response is to holler out "BUG" which is the signal for us grandparents to search it out with our failing aged eyesight. When we can't spot it, we say "where I don't see a bug"  to which he replies, "There it is.!!!"

Fern ate it !!!

Clean-up on isle 9.  "Gramma Fern needs a wipe" !!!!

Shhhh.....They can't see us in here...FERN leave my hat alone!!!

Peaches and the back 40.

The girls new pen. Made from mostly recycled materials including a very large doghouse and some fencing from my son's old dog pen. 

........Fern sees a bug....

,,,,,,it's Owen.!!  Checking out the lavish space inside the dog er... GOAT house.  Plenty of room for both girls to sleep in.

Bugs.  That was Owen's response to his first introduction to newborn quail. And the name has stuck, Wifey and I now commonly refer to them as "the bugs" to quickly identify the difference from the other chicks we are brooding on the back porch.  We have not lost a single "bug" since my last post and the cats have had to resort to eating only cat food.


A mixed batch of chicks from our hen's eggs.  Ten of which have already found a new home when I sold them to a neighbor.  Life on the farm is good.  Lots of fun....especially with Owen's BUG games.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Little Chicks = Big Problems

............Fresh from the shell...chicken on the right and quail on the left.
If only I knew then what I know now, I would never have bought the parents of the quail.
Who'd a thunk these tiny chicks could be so much trouble????
They are better escape artists than the great Harry Houdini.
And faster than The Road-Runner !!!

They have been escaping from my incubator either from the vent in the rear (which is now screened over) or leap from the door when we open the cabinet.  Either way means a injured chick which eventually expires.
I keep the incubator on the back porch on a stand so I can keep a close eye on it.  Sadly, so do my cats. Any chick that survives the fall and is not immediately found by me or Wifey doesn't last long.  I also keep my brood boxes on the porch.   And my dang cats figured out how to get into the one I had for the quail chicks. (second generation of the Quail box as they escaped from the first through tiny vent holes that I swore they couldn't fit through)

So now it's back to the drawing board to come up with a new solution.  (I think I need to get an ACME catalog from Wile E. Coyote).  Another problem is that regular feeders and waterers are too high for the chicks to use.  So jar lids must suffice and that means constatly filling them. Especially the water in this heat wave. 

My little quail hen has been laying an egg almost every day since we bought her, it is too bad that she has NO nesting instinct ( I was warned when I bought her that they have been bred in captivity so long that the nesting instinct was gone).  So far I have not raised a single quail chick.
But the cats are well fed.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

New Additions

Like everyone else, we have been busy here. With all of the egg incubating, yard work, gardening, household chores, animal care and building a goat pen we decided that we still had too much free time.

So we purchased a pair of double breasted  bronze turkeys to raise as meat.  Of course we called them Thanksgiving and Christmas.

And while we were at it we just had to get this pair of Silkies.

And I just couldn't pass up this baby Flemish Giant doe, she will help increase the size of my meat rabbits.

Hey..... let's raise some quail too.

These 3 are Black Spanish turkeys.  After hatching the eggs for a friend, he kindly gave these to me. 
We hope that we can raise some of this heritage breed and sell the extra chicks.

Are Guineas possible to tame?  Since our Guineas only hatched 6 eggs and only 2 have survived, we bought 3 day old chicks and they are WILD.  I was hoping to be able to tame them by hand raising them, but so far it doesn't seem possible.  The turkey chicks practicly run to my hand and are content to be held and petted, these are just the opposite.

For some reason it looks like Fern is chewing grandson Owen's fingers.

Our dog Bear has finally been accepted by Peaches but Fern just tolerates him.

Again with the fingers, What does Fern find so facinating about Owen's dirty little hands?
Actually she is looking to be petted and nuzzling his hand off of the steering bar.  Owen is her favorite human playmate and they share the sandbox.

Well the animals are calling....guess I will post again when I have a minute to spare....Winter maybe???