Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ugly Truth

Each morning, as you read my blog,
I would love for you to imagine me like this....

gracefully skipping around the farm,
with a handmade basket on my arm,
tending to my chickens, goats and horses.

Flowing frocks, pinafores, floppy hat...
clean-faced, freshly washed hair blowing in the gentle morning breeze.

Sadly, though, the ugly truth is this...

I roll out of bed before the sun comes up.
I throw on my under armor and the rattiest, warmest 
outdoor clothing with the warmest, dumbest hat I can find and out I go.
I work for 2 or three hours in the freezing Northeast winter cold,
and I actually look like this.....

Sad, but true.

The upper pictures really are me,
when I have enough time to actually get myself ready.
But for morning chores....

Well, the animals (thankfully) could care less what I look like.

So there you have it...

The ugly truth!

Friday, January 28, 2011

X-ray Visions

If you follow my blog,
you might remember that we were going to get x-rays of Scarlett's jaw.
A couple of weeks ago, we noticed a lump on her jaw.

Dr. Becky had explained that you can sometimes feel bumps on 
a young horse's jaw when a tooth is about to erupt.
Scarlet is a year and a half old, and she is still cutting
her secondary teeth.

Upon inspection, however, Becky felt that the lump was larger
than the usual eruption bump and that it was a bony tumor.
(Gulp)

Two weeks later (this week) the lump was even larger.

So, yesterday Becky lightly sedated Miss Scarlet 
(so that she would hold still)
and obtained several x-rays of her lower jaw.
(I could not get pictures during the process as I was wearing
a lead apron and lead gloves.)

Here is what we found....
What an adorable little mouth.
Orange arrow points to lump.


Close-up shot of lump...compare it to the other side of the jaw.

The lump is an impacted tooth.
That is, it is a secondary tooth that has not moved into place,
and is now heading in the wrong direction.
Green arrow shows a normal tooth as it moves into place,
Blue arrow shows the jawbone.
Red arrow points to normal tooth.
Black arrow points to impacted tooth...heading in the wrong direction.
The lump protrudes out of the side of her jaw, so it is not visible on this view...
just the tooth inside the lump shows at the black arrow.
Dr. Becky is sending Scarlett's films to the U. of Pennsylvania's
New Bolton Center for Equines, to an equine vet who specializes in
equine dentistry and oral surgery, for his recommendations.

I am so relieved to know that it is not a tumor.
Just my luck, our Miss Scarlet will need braces or a retainer.
And I thought my days of finding retainers in strange places was over!!
Oh, can't you just see Miss Scarlet with braces and head gear?

Thanks for all of your sweet comments....
I passed them along to Scarlett and she felt uplifted!!
I'll let you know the final outcome of this toothy tale.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hay Is For.....

Everyone!
With this cold cold winter we have had,
our hay stores are disappearing at a faster than normal rate.

My barn is looking emptier every day.
We may even have to buy hay if this weather keeps up.

I allow the horses a generous amount of hay most days,
and when it is extremely cold, they have unlimited access.
My horses are not picky and they are not wasteful, either.
They eat every last blade of hay that is left on the ground.


The goats, on the other hand, are quite wasteful.
Their hay is deposited in a hay rack...


from which they graze.


What falls on the ground is not touched.
(I even suggested that they blow on the stuff that falls to the ground...
you know, to blow the germs off!)

But no, once it hits the ground it is no longer good enough for
our spoiled caprines!!

Have no fear, though....
we waste nothing here on the farm.


We scoop up what falls on the ground


and give it to the chickens.


They have the best time picking through the hay,
eating the greenest pieces and scratching through the rest.


This hay gives their yard good footing during the winter...
especially during times like this, when the chickens have no interest
in leaving their yard to free range.
After all, everything of value to them is under the snow.
(Yes, my chickens are fair weather birds...spoiled, too!)


The amazing thing is that for all of the hay that we have placed into the
chicken yard, over time it disappears.
The chickens have a tendency to pulverized everything in their yard.

So, for now I am hoping for warmer days, melting snow and 
the emergence of edible grass!

PS:  This morning Dr. Becky is going to get x-rays of Scarlet's jaw.
I should have more news for you tomorrow.
Thanks for the words of encouragement.
Unfortunately, the tumor is bony, not in soft tissue.
We'll keep our fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Perspective

So much of life is a matter of perspective.
How we see things and interpret things is based on our perspective...
where we are standing (in life) at the time.

We take what we see and filter it through our frame of reference,
or our perspective,
and formulate a judgement.

That judgment may seem completely correct to us,
but it may be far, far away from the truth.

Just a little something I thought of this morning,
as I took this picture of Ollie.

From your perspective, he may seem awfully thin
and mal-nourished....
poor little emaciated mini horse....


In actuality, Ollie's doing just great!
It just depends upon your perspective....


Personally, I will think about this
next time I draw a conclusion
about some one else.

It's all a matter of perspective.


Now for an item that scares me a little:
Miss Scarlet, our filly pony,
has a tumor on her mandible.


Over the past few weeks it has doubled in size.
It doesn't seem to cause her any problem, 
but it worries me.
In the next few days,
Dr. Becky is going to x ray her jaw and see what it looks like.
I will let you know what she finds....

I fear losing her...
But on the other hand,
if I take another perspective....
I have been blessed to care for her.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On The Subject of Housebreaking Goats......

So often when I talk of our goats,
I talk about our fainting goats.
We have a second breed of goat, though...
our Nigerian Dwarf goats.

Two years ago, we started out with a pair of pregnant does, 
Star and Ash...
 
Pregnant, these two were half the size they are today.
Today they look pregnant all of the time (which they are not).
Rotund, is what I would call them.

Star, with blue eyes....

Her sister Ash with brown eyes....

Two springs ago, Star gave birth to this little sweetie pie, Stella...
Stella, held by my friend Sheryl-lyn.
who morphed into this gal, today....
Adult Stella
Star also gave birth to our Spider, who was the friendliest of all
the kids...
Jenn with Spider.
And, like all adorable kids,
Spider grew up....


Ash had tri-colored twins.
We kept the little girl, Audrey.
(Tawdry Audrey)

Today, Audrey looks like this...

I often get the question...
"Could you house train a goat and keep it inside?"

The answer to that would definitely be
NO!

Unlike dogs, who search out a location to do their business
and then perform that deed;
goats, on the other hand just perform the deed as they go...


dropping goat berries everywhere they walk.

This is especially evident in the winter time,
as they leave well marked trails through the snow.
Funny, they always use the same trails...
which become darker and darker as the weeks after a snowfall pass.


Goat berries are good fertilizer and don't need to be cleaned up.
Thankfully, because I cannot imagine what a manure rake
for goat berries would look like.
Perhaps like a huge comb.

They also make wonderful houseplant fertilizer 
and have next to no odor.
I would be happy to send you a box if you desire....
(kidding!.....not sure if the Post Office would consider that a hazardous substance!)

PS....a few of you expressed the desire to see more photos of our 200+ year old log cabin.  I have a few that I took during the summer months. You will find these photos on the sidebar to the right in a slideshow.

 There are two rooms on the first floor and stairs to the second floor.

Two bedrooms are on the second floor with stairs to an attic above.  It looks as though there might have been a porch with a roof at one time, however that no longer exists.  This house sits on top of a spring...hence the slatted door on the ground level.  The spring drains out beneath this slatted door and down to our pond. 

This area was heavily populated with Native Americans in the days in which this house was built.  Having the house on top of a spring gave the settlers the ability to drop a bucket to the cellar to get their water, without having to go outside and risk contact with hostiles.
We have had the house shirred up and re-chinked a few times in order to preserve it.
Amazingly, without plumbing and just rudimentary electricity, this little cabin was inhabited until the mid 60's!
I would love to turn it into a little colonial tea house, but we are too rural to attract enough clientele.
For now, it provides a bit of storage space and is a picturesque landmark.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shivering

I am shivering.
We are in the midst of an Arctic blast, here in central PA.
It was 5 degrees while we did morning chores this past weekend.
(It is -2 degrees this morning!)
Our 200+ year old log cabin (uninhabited) as seen from the orchard.

Remember how I said I love cold weather???
I might be re-thinking that statement right now.
There are limits to my cold tolerance!

So, while we dress in layers...under armor, wool sweater, down vest,
snow pants, jacket, fur-lined bomber hat and boots in order to survive...
the animals seem to tolerate the cold just fine.

Jenn and the Nigerians, Dr. Becky's log home in the background.
The chickens are much less active and spend most 
of their time in their coops.
(I have not seen the Roos out in days!)


The guineas hunker down together on the fence.
Puffing up their feathers keeps an warmed air pocket close to their 
bodies as insulation.  Sitting on their legs keeps that part of them warm.
Shivering helps to generate body heat for short periods of time.

Only three of our guineas (from 2 summers ago) survived.
The turkeys' activity is always the same...
that same old courting ritual goes on every day,
regardless of the weather.
The boys, always trying to impress "Edith".

The horses maintain their warmth with a thick, furry coat.H
aving hay available to them at all times is their bestdefense against the cold.  The digestion of the fiber in hay(fermentation) provides the most heat of any bodily function.

Oakely and Sam still accompany me for chore time.
They generate plenty of body heat while running.

Maddie (our Newfie) on the other hand prefers to stay out all of the time.
She comes in the house to eat and asks to be let right out again.
A thick double coat keeps her well insulated against the cold.


As for the ducks on the pond...
they seem to be weathering the winter just fine,
in the tiny, unfrozen pool in the center of the pond.

Duck Jacuzzi
If it weren't for Hubbs' aerators, the pond would be frozen solid.

The amazing, shrinking pond.
At the end of the day,
I drag my shivering self back into a toasty warm house and hunker down;
Remembering.....to every thing there is a season.
Wishing for Spring would only make time move faster than
it already does.
So, for now I will add a few more layers and enjoy each day as it unfolds...cold and snow and winds that blow....Spring will be here soon enough.

By the way, a warm tubby always helps to chase away the winter chill!




Friday, January 21, 2011

This and That

I thought I would share a sweet moment from yesterday morning.
I arrived at the barn about 45 minutes before the sun rose...
such a peaceful time.

I know, you are going to remind me that Thursdays are my day off.
Unfortunately, my favorite "barn" hand, Jim, had shoulder
surgery and will have a few months of rehab before he will be ready 
for farm chores.
As for me, it's ok, cause I never mind coming out to do the chores.

Besides, watching the sun rise always starts my day out right!

So, there I was....
cleaning manure from the Bigs' dry lot, watching a ribbon of orange
scatter along the horizon.

I positioned myself for a picture,
only to look down and see this sight....

my two little buddies were sticking their noses through the fence
enticing me to give them each a kiss...

which I did.
Wanna know a secret?
I kiss my animals.
Alot.
OK, well not the chickens,
and certainly not the stinky bucks who pee on their beards.
But, the horses?

Their noses get covered with smooches throughout the day.

Well, the rest of the day went as planned...
no escapes, no excitement.

I did want to share one more thing with you, though.

Do you remember that 12+ foot Christmas tree that was in our living room?

Well, you might remember that I said Hubbs had to use a 
chainsaw and cut it into thirds to get it back outside again.

I thought I would show you what it looks like now....



Naked.
That is how committed we are to recycling.
Nothing goes to waste.
You see, each January our goats are treated to one of their
favorite snacks...... evergreen trees.

That's right, they spend the month of January
eating every remaining needle.
The trunks will be placed on the outdoor fire pit wood pile
for use in a future bonfire....
perhaps it will be fuel for a bonfire supper.

Oh, and by the way....
a denuded pine tree makes an excellent scratching post.
Just ask our goats.

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