Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Trading for a Deer Leg

When Niki arrived as an 8-week-old pup, I taught her the "trade me" game.

She wanted to chew on shoes, socks, remote controls, towels, tissues, hats, gloves, anything. I wanted her to give up her prizes without a fight and without engaging in the "chase me" game.

So, I offered her balls, toys and treats as trades.

Slowly, she learned what was appropriate to chew--and  gave up her prizes without a fight.

The game came in handy this past weekend when she found a prize -- my leather work glove. She ran around the yard and tossed it in the air.

I took photos and dug in my pocket for a treat.

And, we traded.

But the real test came yesterday during our walk at dusk.

She came trotting in from the waterway with a grand prize -- a deer leg.

What would a 5-month-old puppy trade for a deer leg?

I went to the refrigerator and pulled out a small piece of chicken.

Stepping outside, I called, "Niki,"

Deer leg in mouth, she trotted toward me and eyed me warily.

When I showed her the chicken, she dropped the leg, came to me and sat. I fed her another piece and put her in the crate.

I was now the proud owner of a deer leg.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Shortest Day

The sun came out to celebrate the shortest day.

I reveled in sunshine as I moved hay.

Dewey Kitty and Trick enjoyed watching from above.

Meanwhile, Nik the pup, played in the mulch pile.

And the hay.

When she found my glove, she snatched it and ran around the yard.

She finally surrendered it for a treat.

On the shortest day, the hen supervised from her perch on the stall door, while the horses looked on.

Raven, the Border Collie, herded sheep -- but had no photos taken because I can't direct and shoot at the same time.

Meanwhile, Caeli and Tag wrestled and played and rolled in the grass. Their paws reached for the sun.

And the chickens, they searched for bugs and grass, and settled for scratch grain.

A Christmas Request

The phone call came six days before Christmas.

A friend of a friend of a friend was looking for a lamb for a live nativity scene during Christmas Eve services.

"Do you  have any lambs?"

I've sold all of this year's lambs except one. She is 9 months old and a good 100 pounds. I'm pretty sure she'd object to leaving her flock and playing the part of meek and mild during church services.

The lamb is the one in the center. Like how the spotted-nose ewe on the left obliged to my "down in front" command.

Sheep are flock animals and they don't like to be separated.

"Do you think you can get any lamb to be still during services?" I ask.

"Maybe if it's a day old," she said. "Know of anyone that lambs at this time of year?"

"Not on purpose," I said.

We discussed other animals that could stand in for lambs. A kid goat? Again,  no one has young kids at this time of year.

We settled on a Maltese dog. It is white, small and would sit quietly through church services.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Invader

When I unload the chicken food from my car, I note with irritation that all the bags have rodent chew holes in them.

Next time, I'll have to get out of the car, inspect the bags and load the grain myself.

I'd bought the 50-lb. bags at the local grain drive-thru. Yes, in rural western Ohio, we have a grain drive-thru that operates much like the beer and wine drive-thrus, which we also have. From the comfort of your car or truck, you place your order and watch as an employee loads the grain into your vehicle.

I thought no more of the rodent holes until a few days later when I got into the car and found a chewed Reese's Cup wrapper on the driver's seat. The mouse had also deposited his calling cards.

"Get out the traps. There is a mouse in my car and he likes chocolate!" I emailed my husband who was at work.

When I saw my husband later that evening, I recalled the incident with much hand-shaking and drama.

"I can't believe you'd get upset over a mouse."

In 16 years of living on the farm, I've dealt with a groundhog in the basement, raccoons in the barn, snow in the living room, snow blocking our driveway for days, days without electricity, mice, and, in the early days, rats.

But this mouse is flustering me.

"It's in my car," I say. "It's like finding a mouse in your purse."

I don't carry a purse. I drive a car, stocked with sunscreen, insect repellent, tissues, towels, jackets, rain gear, dog leashes, stock stick, Advil, hand and toe warmers, gloves, tools, water, the occasional snack -- and now, a mouse.

The husband sets a trap. He catches a mouse. He is not convinced there was only one.

Each night, he puts a loaded trap in my car.

Each morning, before opening the car door, I announce my presence. I bang on windows.

I find no more evidence of mouse.

When I get in the car on Saturday morning, snap! I'd forgotten about the mouse trap.

It's going to be some time before I forget about that mouse.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blame Dewey

When the temperatures dropped, Dewey parked himself indoors by the fire and spent less time playing with Trick the Outdoor Cat.

And Trick is bored.

The young chicks have grown weary of his antics and no longer ruffle their feathers when he walks by.

And the lambs would rather hang with the older ewes now, instead of playing the Follow-the-Trick-Game.

But Trick still has Niki, the Border Collie pup.

I thought he would tire of her when she outweighed him.

But he takes great joy in stalking her until she engages in play.

I worry sometimes that she plays too rough with him.

He yowls and makes the most pitiful sounds.

And then he comes back for more.

While they're having a grand time entertaining themselves, I'm noticing that walks are taking longer and longer.

And the temperatures keep dropping.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Conversation in the Hen House

At dusk, the hens retreat to the hen house and murmur as they settle in for the night.

I'm not sure what they're saying, but this fall, I suspect the conversation is going something like this.

Old Hen 1: Did you see what that young one did today? She went and laid an egg.

Old Hen 2: Drat! That means no eight-week holiday from egg laying for us.

Old Hen 1: Guess we'll have to produce a few eggs each day... It'll save us from the stew pot.

And a few weeks later...

Old Hen 1: Those young ones keep laying eggs.

Old Hen 2: Yeah, but they're itty-bitty eggs.

Old Hen 1: We could do better.

Old Hen 2: Yeah, we'll show them.

Yesterday, on the first day of December, this is what we collected from the hen house.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Controlling the Wind

We live in areas where flat fields stretch for miles, with few fence rows and trees.

The wind can really get rolling, picking up speed, as it rushes across those fields.

Years ago, we planted trees on the west side of the house. As they grew they provided shade and slowed the wind.

They also provided an extra helping of snow in the driveway.

The west winds hit the trees and fence, drop their snow and carry on, leaving car-stopping drifts.

The husband has grown tired of digging through drifts. So, he bought the ugly orange snow fence, drove posts in the ground, and installed a line of fence 100 feet from the driveway.

Between that and new skis, it should guarantee a gray winter with little snow.