Jun 27, 2010

Out West Again

Dee Dee does NOT approve of me being gone so long. And little wonder, Shaun slacked in his bunny parent duties and didn't clean her litter pan. NOT ONCE while I was gone, poor bun. You can imagine what four weeks worth of bunny business smells like. And you can imagine the cold shoulder Shaun's getting right now. Grrr. So, her short temper is understandable.

Dee Dee: "Human!"

"Put down that silly camera...

...and get my breakfast."


Jun 12, 2010

Barnyard Folk, part 1

Well, the day started out sunny, but the occasional grouchy cloud piddles on us. Not too bad though, we haven't had any bad thunderstorms since last week anyway. It's muggy out, but there's a nice breeze that's helping to dry out the ground. You just can't stand in one place for too long, or the damp starts to cling to you. After morning chores today, I decided now was a good time to bust out my camera. May I introduce you to Eustace the Rooster?

He's a little on the chewed up side, because the real boss of the coop yard is Spur,

named for two obvious reasons. Look at those things, yow!

Yes, two roosters in the henhouse. But most of the time, this is all the competition they get into:

and Eustace knows he's in second place. He doesn't push his luck too far, except when he just can't help himself and tries to steal one of Spur's ladies. Then the feathers fly, mostly Eustace's.

Now, meet the wooly ones! Here is Baa-Baa, a Shetland...

...and Ganoush, also a Shetland...

...and Don Quixote, a.k.a. D.Q., the elderly gentleman Merino...

...and Rita Merino (get it?-after the actress Rita Moreno?) Here she is having a good stretch. Or possibly practicing yoga...

And here is Freya, my mom's bottle baby. She is half Tunis and half Icelandic. Cute? Yes. Brat? YES.

This is handsome Cheddar, one of several barn cats. He was officially banished from the house ages ago; the urge to back up to furniture and mark it as his own is too great a temptation for the Big Cheese, even being 'fixed'. But his good looks still occasionally get him into the house, when a guest doesn't know any better.

Mild Cheddar.

We are invited to dinner at a family friend's farm this evening and there is still sawdust to be unloaded and stalls to clean beforehand, so I'm off to the barn. Next time, you will meet the horses, dogs, and other cats!

Jun 4, 2010

My First Coyote

Sweet baby James Taylor! What a busy few days it's been. I had a smooth flight Sunday night and made it safe and sound to the Akron Canton Airport where my sister met me. I spent most of Monday in the hospital with my dad, adjusting myself to the situation and sneaking in edible food for him. He's doing pretty well and is happy to be home now, understandably. Now I'm busy with a huge list of heavy duty farm chores to get done the next few weeks: keeping sawdust and hay well stocked, mucking horse stalls, stripping the sheep pen, whitewashing the chicken coop, keeping up with the lawn mowing, fixing broken fence lines, grooming and riding horses, and it goes on. It's hard work, but damn! It feels good to be out of the city! The summer's in full swing, flowers everywhere, leafy trees full of birds, green and growing things everywhere. Ah, this will always be my home.

Two days ago we had massive storms come through and Columbiana County was under a tornado warning from 6 p.m. until late at night. The barn flooded. The power went out. We ate by lamplight. Podunk (my English Shepherd) was hysterical from the thunder. Mom and I caught a massive raccoon in the chicken coop whose big footprints I've been finding around the barn in the mornings. And at 3:50 a.m. yesterday morning, I ran out to the coop amidst hysterical screaming chickens to see a coyote leap the fence! I really only caught a flash of glowing eyes and big ears, but there was no mistaking its shape. So...I finally catch a glimpse of one of "God's Dogs" and I'm also catching it in the act of killing four of my parents' hens. It was a bittersweet moment and not at all majestic and dignified like I'd daydreamed, especially since I chased it off yelling and calling it names. It must have broken the weak latch off the chicken yard door, so now we close it for the night by leaning a cinder block against it. And we're very careful to make sure we're not closing raccoons in with the chickens! There have been coyotes in the area for years, sometimes you can hear their wild voices in the witching hour, right before dawn. But I'd never managed to see one before now and this first look was unsatisfactory for a lot of reasons. It makes me even more determined to see a wild coyote in a natural setting and a situation where I don't have to scream expletives at it.

I brought my external hard drive, so tonight I'll be sure to clean out my camera and clear the memory card so I can share some images of the old home place with you. Stay tuned!

UPDATE: My da and I put new latches on the coop yard doors. The chickens are safely shut up and snug in the evenings now.