Sunday, January 27, 2008

Trying to say Goodbye

As most of you know, I found out some very bad news about my little dog just before Christmas. A month later, he is still with us. He hasn't gotten better, but he hasn't gotten worse. But I've been trying in my own way to make things a little better for him as his days are nearing an end. People who know me probably think I spoil my dogs already. Well... when they are dying, all the rules get thrown out the window. Here are some of the simple pleasures I am allowing my old man in his last days:

  • Ditka gets to come up on the couch - the new leather couches (much to the dismay of Hobbes who gets told you are only allowed on the couch if you are dying)
  • He gets table scraps and cooking scraps. Who cares if he learns how to beg now, he's 15.5 years old!
  • He gets treats. Ditka hangs out with me sometimes when Larry and the other dogs are out at pasture. Ditka gets a lot of treats when no one else is watching
  • Ditka gets to eat whatever dog food he wants. Puppy food? High energy food? Senior food?At this point, I just want him to keep eating. So if he turns his nose up at the senior food, I'll let him have something else
  • He doesn't get scolded for peeing in the house. This is a disciplinary offense if anyone else gets caught doing it. I just clean it up and don't mention a thing. hey, when you are over 100 years old and incontinent, do you need someone rubbing that in your face?
This isn't an extra treat, because all the dogs get it, but Ditka does get lots of snuggle time. Pets and hugs and belly rubs. I tried getting him his favorite toys, but he can't really hear the squeakers anymore, so they aren't fun for him. I may try to sneak him some rawhide, but those start fights with the big dogs, so it'd have to be something I give him when no one else has access to him. I'll be darned if I let Grish push my little guy around!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

More fun with the animals

Larry's dad, Ron, was over and took some pictures of us on the farm. So here are a few that have me and Larry in them. Boy, I've gotten fat since I got married! Sorry, Larry!

Monday, January 14, 2008

More pictures of our babies

Just some updates on the little and not so little young ones. Here are some weird close ups of the baby chicks. They are starting to stretch their legs and their wings. I call my Americaunas little Cleopatras from the markings around their eyes.

Some curious Reds who may have regretted coming over to check out my camera handle dangling about... it wasn't a worm.
Dinner time!
One of my Americaunas in a sea of Reds
This would be one of the not so little young ones. Baby Atlas and Baby Goliath had to have baths today. These dogs are white. But the ones that came to the house today were two-tone brown on white. It's been melting the last few days, and the pasture is mud. So into the tub they went. They didn't like it, but it wore them out.
Aunt Shirley is showing the boys the great wide world outside.
One big happy sheep family enjoying some sunshine this weekend.
The boys have had enough, and run back inside to their heated bed inside the barn.
Shirley stays outside, hoping that my hand is full of oats.
Inside the barn, Lenny contemplates chasing a chicken. He's been practicing butting the chickens around, just like he sees his momma do sometimes (when they try to roost in her hay!)

Monday, January 7, 2008

A little thing like Water

I grew up (mostly) in Michigan. This is not a state where one worries about water. We are surrounded by the Great Lakes. And it rains and snows a lot. When it doesn't rain and snow, there's still plenty of humidity in the air. Water is not a problem.

Then I moved to Colorado. My water bill tripled. And no, that had nothing to do with the farm. That was just showering, washing clothes and dishes - the normal stuff. My first summer here was a drought in Colorado. Wheat farmers in the eastern plains were losing their shirts due to burnt crops. Larry's Grandfather owns property in Sterling where his land still grows wheat. It was a bad year.

I have since found out that the water on my little farm - the municipal water for my town comes from a very strange place. It is piped in from the WESTERN SLOPES of the Rockies. That's right folks, for me to drink water at home, it has to be piped UNDERNEATH the Rocky Mountains into reservoirs along the Front Range before it gets to my house. If we ever want to irrigate our 6 acres, we will need to buy a share of water, and that cost is in the 5 digits.

When I got into an argument while hiking, with a couple I met from North Carolina about the fact that it is illegal to save water in rain barrels in Colorado, they thought that was just stupid. Of course, they are from North Carolina. They don't realize that out here, in the High Desert - states like Nevada and Arizona and Southern California are supporting more people than there really is a water supply for. Colorado and the Eastern Plains DEPEND on snow packs from the mountains to melt and provide water to the eastern edges of the state to support farming. And as our rivers, the Great Colorado River, as it runs south - how much water do you think is left for Mexico?

As I watch more and more cookie cutter neighborhoods get plastered up along I-25 in Colorado.. I think 2 things: That was nice farm land, what a shame, and; where is the water coming from to water their lawns and cover their showers? Where is it coming from? They are trying to pass a law to make a reservoir off the ONLY river in Northern Colorado that is protected as a wildlife refuge - the Poudre River. For what? For another glorified trailer park, like the awful KB Homes neighborhood Larry and I rented in?

I heard a saying this morning on the radio that can't be more true in Colorado - something as a Michigander I once took for granted. "Whiskey is for drinking, water is for fighting over." And it's no joke here... You have to buy your water here. Farmers pay a lot of money for the water they irrigate their fields with. But people keep building more houses... and when they divert water from the land - they are taking away from farm land. As a burgeoning farmer, myself... I hope there is still a share of water to buy from our reservoir when the time comes for us to irrigate.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Barn is Made of Babies

OK, the barn isn't actually made of babies, but it's full of the right now! Last week we got another batch of baby chicks - mostly Production Reds to augment our egg production. I also got 5 Americaunas, those are the stripey/skunky ones you can see in the picture below.

I have also caved and named the lambs. Since their momma is Laverne, and their aunt is Shirley... yup, you guessed it, Lenny and Squiggy. This is Lenny. He's a little trouble maker. Not even a week old, and he's already running about, chasing chickens, hiding under the wagon, and getting into trouble.

This one is Squiggy. Not as much of a trouble maker, and tends to stay a little closer to mom than his brother. But still a little cutie.
This is a close up of one of my Americauna chickens. A variation on the Araunca breed, and I have probably spelled them both wrong. These are the chickens that lay green eggs. NO, not like Green Eggs and Ham, the eggs are normal on the inside, but the shells are varying shades of green. They are pretty cool. And this is the first of my "pet" chickens. I get to name these ones.
Now, I named a few of our production red when they were chicks - Susie was the smallest one, there was also Skunky, Stripey and Blondie. Now that they are all grown up, I have NO idea which is which! So I won't be naming any of the new Reds... and I do want to name my Americaunas... but I will wait until they grow up. If they have any special markings now, those might all be gone by the time they are adults. So we will see.

And since we are talking about babies... I might as well include the GPs. Goliath (foreground) and Atlas (background) are still only about 7 months old. They will have their first birthday in May. Atlas is a fabulous guard dog. He stays close, but doens't get in the way. He just keeps watch over the sheep. Goliath... well, he likes to sniff and check things out. He has gotten too close the lambs, and Laverne has let him know. He's a little scared of her now, as she likes to butt him around. That being said... the other evening, when I heard a chorus of coyotes in the next pasture, Goliath was straight away barking his face off at them. Atlas soon joined him, but not after I had gotten all the sheep safely in the barn.

Here are some bad videos...
This first one is short, but enough so you can hear the peeping of baby chicks. The heat lamps are on, so everything is tinted red, but I love the sound of chicks peeping.

This next one shows the lambs trying to eat hay at only 4 days old! Off to the side, you can hear Larry having words with Laverne, as she keeps trying to butt Goliath. You can't see poor Goliath, but you can see Laverne turning around and trying to go after him. You can also hear Larry stomping his foot at her to make her stop.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year - on the farm

We had a pleasant New Year's Gift this morning... 2 new baby lambs. Larry noticed yesterday that Laverne was ready to go into labor. So we bought some milk substitute (in case the lambs didn't drink) and some bottles, and gave the girls fresh hay. And we checked on her periodically. This is Laverne (foreground) and Shirley as of last night. She's a big girl, and she was ready to be a mama.

This is Miss Laverne this morning (chewing her cud, not screaming at me) with her little ones. We can't tell for sure, but we think they are both males. We were really hoping for females so we had more we could breed in the future. But we'll see...

If these are boys, I am not supposed to name them, because we will raise them for food. I am not supposed to name food animals. But this one has a white spot on its head. Yes, I named it, but I am keeping the name to myself.

This is the other sheep, with no white on its head. Yeah, I named it too. This one is trouble, already trying to get out of the stall... it followed me out shortly after this picture, and I had to scoop it back in.

This is Shirley, not the mama. She wants some attention too, and keeps poking her head straight into the camera. Either that, or my gloves smell like oats and she wants some. Either way, I am making sure to give her attention, too. She's helping Laverne out by nudging the little ones back to mama, and protecting them from the chickens!

Baby lambs trying to eat hay with their mom, Atlas watches

Goliath checks out the lambs, and Shirley puts one in its place