Thursday, December 24, 2015

Earthworms on Christmas Eve

I'm singing Christmas carols to remind myself that it's Christmas Eve.

Ma Nature is telling me otherwise.

It's been a warm winter, so far, with several 60-degree days. We have yet to turn on the furnace. Fires in the wood-burning stove keep the house plenty warm.

We still have lots of wood in the shed--and lots of hay in the barn. The horses and sheep are still relying on pasture for most of their calories. It takes little effort for them to find green grass.

This morning, thanks to yesterday's thunderstorms, I saw hundreds of earthworms while walking the dogs.

But I miss the cold weather that encourages me to spend evenings reading by the fire.

And I miss the frozen ground that keeps the horses and dogs mud-free.

And I miss wearing Christmas sweaters.

But I'll keep singing Christmas carols and dreaming of a White January.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Bad Boy Returns

For a day, Dewey Kitty lounged in his chair and slept.

He didn't eat; he didn't follow me around the house; he didn't shred tissue paper.

So off to the vet he went.

"There's something seriously wrong with my cat," I told the vet. "He's being a good kitty."

One look at his mouth revealed inflamed gums and throat.

"Once this clears up, a dental is in his future," she said, giving him a few injections and sending him on his way.

A day later, he awoke me at 5 in the morning.

He demanded to sit on my lap and pay attention to him.

When I ignored him, he walked on my keyboard and sat in front of the monitor.

He perched atop the scanner and stared, stared, stared at me.

When noontime approached, he reminded me of his 3 p.m. feeding. And, when I eventually gave into his demands, he ate all of his food.

I was so happy to have my bad kitty back.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

All He Wants for Christmas is...

Tag was born with a charming personality and a bad teeth. He's one of the few Border collies I've seen that has an underbite.

Over the years, he's lost a few bottom incisors while playing tug games with the other dogs. Last week, the now 10-year-old Tag was down to two bottom incisors and a nub.

Yesterday, during his dental cleaning, the last of the bottom incisors were extracted.

But he still remains a charming, manipulative Border collie who knows how to make the best of a situation. He walked over to me and whined, and I prepared some rice with butter for his dinner; and I sat with him on the couch.

And he started to feel better.

Though I'm pretty sure I heard him whisper that some chicken would surely lift his spirits.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Sunny Day in December

Christmas comes every year, but not so sunny days in December.

When those warm days come on a weekend, I say the Christmas stuff can wait.

The horses' ears perked up when I brought the saddle into the barn; and they watched with interest as I left the barn to retrieve a second saddle with a longer girth.

Roxie, the barn cat, joined in the action. Winters get boring for the barn cats who find great amusement in harassing their humans.

After working the horses, I headed to the sheep pasture where Raven and I continue to work on shedding, or splitting, the flock of sheep. No photos were taken because I have yet to master watching the dog, watching the sheep and taking a photo.

Then it was off to the garden, where I cleaned up the asparagus bed--and marveled at the weeds that never give up. The garden's fall chores aren't quite done, but I still have another week until winter officially begins.

And I studied the radish cover crop that I planted in the garden in late spring. Some of the radishes are rotting--and some may still be growing. I have yet to decide if this was a success or not.

Before the sun sets, I'll take the Border collies on a walk through a few fields that we seldom walk. Then I'll turn my thoughts toward Christmas gifts--and wonder if others consider a sunny day in December a fine gift indeed.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No Slumber Parties for Him

When I returned from the early morning dog walk, Trick the Cat was not perched on the picnic table and awaiting his morning meal.

Now 8 years old, the muscular tabby is a man of routine. He comes to the house for breakfast, takes a nap in the barn, then hunts the fields and barns for mice, birds and rabbits.

I didn't think much of his absence until a few hours later when I went outside to do the morning chores.

His cat food was untouched and he was not in the barn. I hoped he'd gotten locked in a building--and made a note to look for him.

But I didn't need to do that. As I approached the chicken house, I heard his insistent cry. He marched out when I opened the door.

Instead of "thank you," he said, "what took you so long?"

On his evening patrol, he must have gone hunting in the chicken house.

Because chicken food attracts sparrows and mice, Trick
routinely patrols the chicken yard and house.

 When closing the chicken door at dark, I didn't see him so he spent the night with the hens, a few roosters and probably a few unlucky mice.

Did he curl up in a nesting box, snug and secure? Did he stay up talking to the murmuring hens? Did he bat at the roosters' tail feathers?

He is not saying.

But when I took the dogs on their early walk this morning, he was perched at the picnic table, awaiting his morning meal.

Friday, December 4, 2015

When the Border Collie goes to the Office...

While I love my job, it often interferes with fun--like sheepdog trials. I'm constantly balancing and scheming to make them work.

On some days that means Raven, my Border collie, comes to work with me so that we can leave afterwards for a dog trial. If the weather is cool, she snoozes in a crate in the car.

But on a recent day, I brought her to the office so that she could meet my co-workers.

She scanned the room, stuck her nose in the air, and looked at me.

Where were the sheep?

Now 4 years old, Raven has been doing the dog trial and dog clinic circuit so long that she associates my overnight bag with sheep and fun. And my office had no sheep, and was thus no fun.

I encouraged her to walk from cubicle to cubicle to visit my co-workers. But I could see the thought bubbles above her head: Boring, boring, boring.

In mid yawn, a co-worker walked by carrying her lunch. Raven's ears perked and her eyes locked in on the food. Sticking her nose in the air, she turned to stare at the cafeteria door.

For if a Border collie cannot have sheep, food is a nice second option.