Monday, November 26, 2012

What were they thinking?

I'm sure that's what the animals say when they walk into the dining room and find a Christmas tree.

Dewey Kitty sniffs it and upon realizing that, unlike the pines outside, it has no birds nesting in it, dismisses the tree.

Caeli, the Border collie, though, questions the fairness.

She must follow the "clean mouth" rule, dropping all balls, sticks, and varmints before coming inside. The humans propped open the door and carried in a tree.

Then she turns hopeful. Will sheep soon follow?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

What I find in the pockets

As the weather transitions from summer to winter, the heavy barn coats move from the back of the pegs to the front, and the seasonal surprises begin.

Good barn coats have lots of pockets. Those pockets contain a history of the past year. Here is what I find:

Hand warmers still in the package.
Wrappers from hand warmers used.

Tissues, a package of new, and a few used.

Horse treats and hay chaff, lots of hay chaff.

A clicker for dog and horse training.
The running order from a sheepdog trial.


A livestock grease pencil.


A package of lettuce seeds, that doesn't surprise me.
A package of bean seeds, that does. Was it that cold when I was planting beans?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Farmer's Almanac

While I was at Tractor Supply, loading up on kitty litter, shavings and cat food, two older women were studying the Old Farmers' Almanac.

"We're due for a big snow," one says.

"Ten or twelve inches," the other adds.

I don't know if they were getting their information from the Almanac, a meteorologist's long-term forecast, or just a knowledge of weather's history.

But I'm betting they'll buy the Farmers' Almanac, just like I'll probably pick up a copy for myself.

Throughout the winter, I'll check it to see what upcoming weather is predicted, and if past predictions were correct.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Sidetrack Surprise

All too often my curiosity gets me sidetracked.

This morning, while I was researching, I stumbled across this.

This was our farm sometime before 1992.

When we bought the farm in 1998, the one-and-a-half story structure to the left was not there. Neither was the garage to the right of the house.

But now I understand why some records list our house as being built in 1920. Maybe the structure to the right was the original house.

In 1998, the spouse took off the single-story connector -- with a hammer and crowbar.

Here is the house today -- with new roof, new siding, fence, more trees, and a new barn.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A November walk

 The horses were taking their mid-morning nap. So rather than ride, I took the three Border collies on a trek through the harvested corn and soybean fields, the hay fields and around the pond.

 Caeli forgot she was a Border collie, and went into Mighty Coyote Huntress mode.

 Tag became a pointer.

 And Mickey trotted across the fields of green.

 I took time to smell the flowers... even if they were dandelions.

 Dandelions seem to thrive most months in Ohio.

Toward the end of the walk, we headed to the pond so the dogs could get a drink.

 The drought this summer left the pond low. But it makes it easier for the raccoons to dig up the fresh water clams (notice the shells behind Tag).

Caeli wrapped up the morning by giving her roll of gratitude.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Twenty-two tons of beauty

Live in the country and you find yourself swooning over big trucks: the UPS truck, snow plows, the gravel truck.

Christmas came early this morning when the gravel truck arrived and dumped 22 tons of gravel between the house and barn.

In the coming days, the husband and I -- along with the tractor (another vehicle that makes me swoon) -- will dump that gravel under gates that separate pastures and paddocks.

These high traffic areas turn to mud in spring, fall and winter.

While the gravel won't eliminate the mud, it will lessen its depth -- from six or eight inches to two or three.

And, for me, that's the difference between being mildly annoying and sucking off my boots.

Yes, I still have vivid memories of the childhood day when the mud sucked my boot and sock from my foot while I was walking through a muddy horse paddock.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Morning Lights

My early morning walks are no longer sunlit.

Yet, I still have so much to see.

The million stars in the sky remind me how small I am.

All around me -- a quarter mile, a mile, two miles away -- are night lights on homes and barns, staking their spot in this world.

And sometimes, I see moving headlights, reminding me that time never stands still.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dewey Kitty is an optimist

Dewey Kitty rang the bell this morning, and I let him outside.

A few minutes later, when I opened the door to take the dogs out, Dewey Kitty darted inside.

It was raining, not the sit-on-the-back-porch-and-listen-rain, but the cold, windy rain of November.

When the dogs and I returned to the house, Dewey Kitty glanced outside and retreated into the hallway.

Ten minutes later, he rang the bell again. Surely it had stopped raining.

After that glance outside, he turned into the make-lemonade type guy.

He curled up in my lap and went to sleep.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Sunny Day in November

We are entering the time of year in Ohio when sunlight is counted in hours instead of days.

So when the sun shines on a Saturday, I take full advantage.

I ride Lily, who acted like an old pro. She loves working in open fields where it's easy to spot those mountain lions.

And Jet, who scouted the nearby woods for mountain lions, but finally was convinced they weren't lying in wait.

I made apple crisp, a treat in this year when apples are scarce.

Then, it was off to visit Raven and seeing what she's been learning for the past few weeks. While there, Mickey worked the sheep and showed that she didn't lose her sheep-sense in her two-month layoff.

Then it was off a visit and dinner with friends.

Undone were all those indoor chores that could wait for a windy or rainy day, which seem to come more often as winter approaches.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Standing in the Country Line on Election Day

I've been voting at the village fire station for 14 years now -- long enough to know that when the line divides, I turn right.

I didn't know that my first election there, and a gray-haired lady asked, "Country or City?"

The firehouse houses two voting precincts -- one for half of the village of 2,000 people and one for the western, sparsely populated half of a township.

Standing in line on the country side this morning, I realized that I was the youngest one there.

"Have you had a change of residence?" the poll worker asked the man in front of me.

"Nope," he said. "I've lived there for 38 years."

Glancing at the four grey heads at the voting booths, I wagered that they would say something similar.

As I waited, I wondered if the abundance of grey hair just proved that older people vote more than the younger generations-- or, if there just aren't very many younger people opting to live in the country.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Job #1 Done. Now onto the Next.

The ram is no longer looking for love.

He's looking for food.

I discovered this when I stepped inside the chicken house and confronted the ram who had his head in the chicken feeder.

He'd squeezed in through the chicken door and was licking the remaining feed from the chicken feeder.

When turned out with the ewes a few weeks ago, he hadn't done much eating. Now, that the ewes are bred, he's turning his thoughts to food.

But chicken grain is not acceptable. I shooed him outside through the people door and adjusted the feeder. Turning, I see the ram squeezing through the door again.

So I banished him -- and the ewes and llama -- to the pasture and away from the chicken house and the barn.

"He can stay out there until he gets too big for the chicken door," I said.

The husband had other ideas. This morning, he put a chain on the chicken door so the door can't lift high enough for the ram to squeeze through.