Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Itty Bitty Kitty Committee

We finally decided we needed to hire outside the firm. We have a serious business issue that is ruining our raw material, and wreaking havoc in our inventory warehouse. We tried to promote from within the company, but it didn't work out. Our most qualified employee made it clear he wasn't looking for more responsibilities, and was hoping to fade into retirement.

We attempted to train other, less qualified employees. Some showed enthusiasm, others showed great drive. But in the end, none had the true skills to get the job done to our satisfaction.

We had to hire new employees.

Introducing the Itty Bitty Kitty Committee in charge of mouse reduction and elimination.

Introducing: Marie. Larry likes to name cats after scientists. He could only think of Marie Curie. So this is Marie. She's sweet and purrs like a motorcycle. A little skiddish, but getting used to me being around, certainly when I have a can of food for her.

Introducing: Natasha. This kitty needs some serious socialization. She's pretty, but not very nice. I got to name her, because she bit Larry, and he doesn't like her anymore. She looks scared here, but she was hissing and growling at me. She also managed to climb into the rafters of the barn and got herself stuck up there. Kirsten got to be a hero fireman and climb up and save her. Maybe she'll be nicer to us now, but I don't want to do anything to scare her up to the ceiling again! Hopefully she will come around.

So, in case anyone is keeping track, that leaves the animal count at:
6 dogs, 3 cats, 8 sheep, 25 turkeys and hundreds of chickens.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Vacations are out of the question

There will be no more vacations. It's too stressful for me to leave the farm. Though we have great friends and neighbors who help us when we are away, things still happen. It's no one's fault at all. No one did anything wrong. It's the difference between living on a farm, and house sitting on a farm.

But things did happen. LIke the batteries died on the timer in my garden. I don't know how many days my garden didn't get watered because the timer was dead. And I won't even go into the issue that really ticked me off, but we'll deal with that one.

Here's the one that really kicked us in the pants. A circuit blew in the barn. No idea how or why. Could have been a mouse chewing through cords. Could have been the electric fence shorting out on a wet dog. Could have been a million things we'll never know about. But it happened. It still could have happened while we were home. But if it had, we would have found it in a day. There's a little ticking noise the electric fence charger makes, plus the orange light on the freezer in the barn. Larry and I would have easily missed those things. We see and hear them daily. Someone who doesn't live here wouldn't notice, not unless they were told to look. But alas, it happened. And the consequence was a freezer with no electricity. 25 pounds of lamb left to rot in the barn. What a complete waste. Because we weren't home. So that's the lesson I learned.

No more vacations for us. It's just that simple. Too bad we already have tickets for a wedding in Virginia soon - I won't enjoy the trip, that's for sure.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ditka - June 21, 1992 - July 18, 2008

Ditka, June 2008

Ditka, August 2007

Ditka, circa 2002

Ditka, circa 1994

To my Funny Face, Fuzzy Face, Silly Face, Pumpkin Face, Stinky Face, My Pretty Brown Eyes, D, Baby D, Stinker, Little Dog, Old Man, Ditka, I always loved you, I'll always miss you, life won't be the same without the littlest dog - my companion, my baby dog. Thank you for always giving, and for letting me know it was time. Take good care of Deklin, and save a spot on the couch for me and Hobbes. We'll see you again!

please post comments below with your favorite memories of Ditka. Thank you, for being his friends, for petting him, playing with him, watching him while I was away, and always knowing that he is a part of who I am.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Farmer's Market

Our town does a Farmer's Market on Thursdays. It's from 3 - 7PM each week. It costs $150 fee up front for the whole season, $5 each week as a booth fee and 7% of what you sell. It makes it hard to go - the fees, the timing - when we had day jobs.

I went last week to buy some produce and check it out. Since, you know, I'm not working, I thought I'd spend the time to support my local community. I found out a few things.

First of all, I found out that they are trying a Saturday Farmer's Market in our town. For this season, it's all free for the vendors! No fees, no percentage take. So of course we decided to go! I sold some eggs and chicken, and got a half a dozen people to sign up for our email list. It was great, I met some really nice people - people who are interested in supporting their local farmer, people who want to know their food has no chemicals or medications - and these people are my neighbors!

The second thing I found out... I actually like good milk. Anyone who knows me, also knows I don't drink milk. Ever. Since I looked at it under a microscope in high school, I have not been interested. I went to the market today, and I was next to the nice people from the Longmont Dairy. They give out milk samples, and I was hesitant and I warned them that I hate milk. I drank a glass, 1% no less, and I loved it! He sent me home with a half gallon and I drank more when I got home! He said the milk you get from that dairy is never more than 24 hours old when they deliver it to you! So I signed us up for milk and cheese delivery. YUM.

It's all good karma that goes around. If we support local, our local supports us. And I am not interested in raising cows - for meat or milk. I love our sheep and that's what I want to do. Sounds like our community is looking forward to it, too! I had a lot of folks ask about the lamb!

It was all around, a great day. I met some nice people, even bartered with a precocious 3 year old for some eggs. I brought Ditka with me, and he slept beneath my chair all morning, being very patient with the little ones who wanted to pet him. What a wonderful morning (aside from rushing around to get ready this morning!!)

I can't wait to go back!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Appointment

I made an appointment today, with the vet.

Friday, July 18.

She's coming at 9AM to remove some sutures from one of the shepherds that had surgery over the weekend. That's another long story, and something for a different post.

While she is here, we will sit in the back yard and say goodbye to my old man. I've had a lot of time to think about it, and being home these last few weeks, I've had a lot of time to spend with him. I'll take him for one last hike on Rabbit Mountain next week - a little hill just his size. But I've gotten to see what life is really like for him. Being mostly blind, very deaf, and losing control of his bladder. He doesn't wag his tail anymore, and his eyes - they are like translucent opals, bottomless, with no focus, just swirls. Sometimes he can't even see me, and stares at my knees, sniffing me, until he realizes it is me and tries to look up. He sleeps calmly and peacefully most of the day - rarely hearing the ruckus of all the animals around him - only waking up when someone brushes against him, or I reach down and pet him.

I could wait longer -wait until he is truly suffering. Wait for his bladder to get blocked and he be slowly poisoned inside. I could wait until he starts to have seizures, or loses the ability to move. Right now, he's already stiff with arthritis. I could wait until he is miserable.

But my friend Carrie told me that letting him go is the greatest gift we can give to man's best friend. I don't want to wait until he is in pain. He has already lost so much. He's currently laying on the floor dreaming of chasing squirrels - back in his younger days - when he could actually catch them. In his dreams, I am sure he can see them and hear them, and today he can't hear much at all, except for loud thunder cracks during storms. He doesn't run anymore, or play anymore. He just wanders around, letting his nose do his seeing for him.

I don't know where he'll go, or if anyone will be waiting for him. Will Deklin be there? Waiting for someone to play with? Will my Clifford, Sandy and Corduroy meet him there, though they never met in life, will they be there to say, "we knew her too." Or will he have a giant rawhide bone all to himself to enjoy until I come for him? I don't know. I only know that it can't be heaven if there are no dogs, and at least, he will be there waiting for me.

For those of you who know or knew Ditka, I will post a special post for him that morning. It may only be a picture. If you want to do anything to help me through his loss, you can post a comment to that blog of any memories or stories you want to share about my old man, Ditka. Knowing that others remember him fondly will help me cherish what I will have left of him - our memories of his life. I don't know what life is without him, but I will appreciate being able to remember him.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Rain Rain Rainy Rainy Rain

The weather out here in sunny Colorado can be drastically different from town to town. This is NOT like Michigan. Since I have been home on sabbatical - I've seen a storm roll through, probably 70% of the days I have been home. I have sat and watched storms to the north and storms to the south. We've had lightning and thunder. and NO RAIN.

The other day, Larry was all excited.
"What was that?" he asked.
"Thunder, the thunder that lies," I replied.
"Oh sweet! We're going to have rain" He says
"No," I reply, "It's going to look like rain and sound like rain, but the rain will blow north and we may get some teasing drops, but we won't get rain."

I was right. Today, I even closed up one side of the chicken house to give them shelter. It's DARK out there. The kind of quiet and dark in Michigan that begs of tornadoes to come. I see the dark clouds, looming to the north, quietly rolling over the foothills. I see the lightning, I hear the thunder. I see no drops. NOT on my land!

So to play games with Murphy or whatever, I took my water buckets and watered the dying plum. I watered 2 plants in the orchard that had wilting leaves, for whatever reason. To really push my luck, I should do a load of laundry and go hang it out on the line, or turn the water on in the garden and the strawberry patch AND the orchard. Maybe I should drag a chair out back, put on a bathing suit and pretend to sun bathe, or start washing the car. I don't know what it's going to take. We haven't had rain in a month, and the last two weeks, I have watched the storm clouds literally split in two over Long's Peak and curl north and south, and leave Berthoud completely dry. It's ridiculous.

See what happens when I complain? We got a BIG thunder storm, a lightning strike that hit VERY close to home, short little power outage, 7 very scared dogs all trying to crawl up under me. And very LITTLE RAIN! COME ON, I don't need all the theatrics! I just want the WATER!