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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oh Dear.

A herd of 12 deer came into my garden today to make sure my plants were nicely trimmed,

Suddenly I noticed one of the deer was wearing some kind of collar.

I don't know what it was or who put it there, but it seemed to make her boss of all the deer. She kept a close eye on the other deer and every now and again she'd strike them with her front hooves.

If someone stepped out of line, she'd give them the devil deer look......

which would strike fear in their hearts.

They were gobbling up my tiny seedlings and then they stomped all over Foxsun's grave.... I decided I had enough and it was time for them to pose for the camera before I told them to leave.

They give me the old innocent.."Surely you don't mean us" look.Photobucket

And that means you too Boss Deer with your fancy high tech collar!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My idea's from my last blog are already being done..with success.

I was so pleased to read on Linda's blog, Beautiful Mustang, that there are many people who care about America's wild horses and they are coming up with solutions to keep them on their home ranges and to also handle them with less stress.

Please read part one of Linda's interview with TJ Holmes here.

Monday, December 27, 2010

BLM issues and my idea.

I had almost forgotten all about writing about the ideas I had for managing mustangs until I came across a letter to the editor in the Sunday newspaper. It was written by Lorna Moffat and it did my heart good to read a letter from a fellow horse lover who truly cares about the welfare of America's wild horses.

Lorna wrote of the abusive horse round-ups carried out by the BLM and their contractors. Being limited to only 200 words she was only able to scratch the surface of the horrors of what our wild horses are put through.

I have read enough of the BLM's own documentation to be truly disturbed by these 'gathers' as they call them.
Here's a snippet about a gather;

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- The U.S. Bureau of Land Management suspended a wild horse roundup in northeast Nevada on Monday after seven animals died of dehydration and another was shot when it broke its leg in a holding pen.

Animal rights activists were outraged, saying the outcome was predicable given the sweltering temperatures and helicopters used to gather the animals.

The BLM said the animals appeared in otherwise good shape when two groups were herded by helicopter to holding pens in northern Elko County on Saturday. But the roundup was halted Sunday morning after four horses were found dead in the pens and others showed signs of colic and brain swelling.

Read more here;


Here's another snippet, this one from the Billings Gazette;

GREEN RIVER, Wyo. -- Federal cowboys completed one of the largest wild horse roundups in Wyoming history Saturday, gathering 2,269 horses during the month-long capture operation.

Bureau of Land Management wranglers returned 275 horses to the range.

Officials said nine horses died during roundup operations conducted in the huge Adobe Town and Salt Wells Creek herd management areas in Sweetwater and Carbon counties.

The Adobe Town and Salt Wells herds roam about 2.5 million acres of public, state and private lands. The BLM manages approximately 1.7 million acres within the two herd management units.

There will be approximately 860 wild horses remaining in the herd, BLM officials said Monday, which is the appropriate management level for the herd complex.

Six of the nine horses killed received injuries during roundup operations -- or had previous serious injuries or blindness — which led to the animals being destroyed by veterinarians.

They chased a blind horse for miles across rough terrain with a helicopter and when they had him trapped they killed him because he was blind.


Read more here;


These numbers are 2009 Bureau of Land Management numbers, as well as numbers obtained through independent investigation. Please understand that population levels in particular are fluid and subject to a significant degree of uncertainty (the same caveat applies to numbers provided by the BLM).
  • In the 19th century, more than 2 million wild horses roamed the West (source: J. Frank Dobie, “The Mustangs”, Southern Methodist University Press, Dallas, 1952).
  • Today, less than 25,000 wild horses likely remain on public lands.
  • Over 6 million head of private livestock enjoy subsidized grazing on public lands.
  • More than 200,000 wild horses and burros have been removed from public lands since 1971. The BLM plans to remove another 6,000 for Fiscal Year 2009.
  • The 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horse and Burro Act mandates that wild horses and burros be managed on 47 million acres of public lands on 303 herd areas.
  • Since 1971, wild horses have been zeroed out from 111 herd areas representing over 19 million acres.

  • Wild burros numbered 14,000 at the time of the 1971 Act’s first census. Burros share their habitat with bighorn sheep, a highly-prized game species that now outnumbers them at least 16 to 1 on public lands. BLM’s target for nationwide burro population is less than 3,000.
  • BLM relies on an annual population increase rate of about 20% to evaluate population levels and justify round-ups, while the National Academy of Sciences estimates that rate to be closer to 10%.
  • Wild horses account for less than 0.5% of large grazing animals on public lands.
  • 6 states have lost their entire wild horse and burro populations.
  • In 70% of the remaining herd areas, BLM’s population targets are set at levels that will not ensure genetic viability.
  • The current removal policy is costing over 39 million tax dollars a year.
  • The removal and processing of a single horse through the adoption pipeline can cost as much as $3,000.
  • Over 30,000 wild horses are currently held in government holding pens. Under the Burns Amendment, about 8,000 of them are threatened with slaughter.
  • BLM’s private livestock grazing program encompasses 214 million acres of public lands, costs over $130 million to manage annually, yet only provides 3% of our national beef supply.
  • The current fee to graze private cattle on public lands is $1.35 per animal unit month (AUM), the equivalent of $0.06 per acre per year, or about 1/10th of market rates to graze cattle on private lands.
  • Private livestock outnumber wild horses and burros at least 200 to 1 on public lands. (note: some livestock may not be grazed year round)
  • In 2008, less than 5% of BLM’s wild horse and burro program budget was allocated to herd management on the range, with the remaining 95% allocated to captures, holding and placement.

My idea is simple and would put a lot less stress on the horses. It was Echo who started me thinking about it. After Echo had been in Foxsun's old pasture for about two weeks I noticed he'd dug several large holes on the horse paths that run through the sagebrush. I guessed he was looking for salt or minerals because I'd forgotten to take his salt block to his new place.

It got me thinking about how they managed in the wild. He must have learned from the other mustangs or maybe his mother, how to dig for salt and I guess they would travel over great distances to their favorite minerals places. The same would be true for fresh water. Then the idea came to me that the BLM could keep lots of corrals in the horse management areas that contain fresh water and salt/mineral blocks.

When we need to get our cattle in, instead of driving them like we used to years ago on horse back, we have got them used to coming into the corrals for salt and mineral licks. Once all the cattle are in, you just close the gates. Corrals can be configured to work animals to where you want them by just moving them through various pens, closing more gates. There doesn't have to be any running for general mayhem and certainly no waving sticks with plastic bags tied to them. Our cattle have become very docile and friendly over the years. The calves learn from their mothers that they don't have to run from us.

The same would work for horses, they are after all domesticated animals but it takes patience and many years. The various corrals would be manned so the horse would get used to human activity and associate it with good things like water, salt and maybe hay..(?)... Wells could be dug for fresh water for them and even trees could be planted for shade and shelter from wind.

The practice of chasing the horses for miles with helicopters has to stop. I think this is a hold over from the days when the mustangs were unprotected and people used to fly over them to round them up. My plan takes more thinking and planing and I'm sure the BLM employees would far prefer to have the kind of control of the horses and all it could offer.

I believe the way to control population is with birth control for some while keeping others able to live a more natural wild way. Spaying mares would be cheaper than rounding them up and keeping them in long term holding for the rest of their lives.

Having the 'uncaptured' horses closer to the BLM employees would make it easier for the BLM to monitor their health and well being. Also it would let the BLM know what horses would be better suited for adoption based on their dispositions.

When you consider how many mustangs there are you will realise that finding adoptive homes for all of them is not at all realistic. Keeping them in BLM's concentration camps with no shade or shelter, is no way for a horse to live. On the range the horses, like cattle, can find shelter in the terrain of the land if nothing else.

Speaking of cattle; cattle are far more damaging to sagebrush country than horses. Our pastures are like the ones where the wild horses live in the west and so we see every day the difference between horse and cattle grazing. A horse can last a lot longer in a pasture than a cow. Cows are very hard on our land and it is the reason I haven't put Dandylyons in with Echo...she'd eat him out of house and home in no time, yet two horses could almost graze year round. Echo is eating only half his hay because he is eating the native grass which is still growing enough to fill him if he was out there all day.

Brad's family have had cattle on this place since the late 1880's and Brad has got a degree from WSU in Animal Science, so we know a bit of what we're talking about. The reason why the cattle are not on the ranges year round like the horses is because they would run out of enough feed to keep them plump and have to be brought in to be fed..while a horse can maintain his weight better on less.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Garden Deer.

I get a lot of Mule deer in my garden. The yellow flags mark where I have planted shrubs and tiny trees. Between the gophers and the deer, I'm having a hard time getting this area started. I don't mind because I love to have these beautiful visitors.

I carefully opened the kitchen door and talked to them to get them to lift their heads up.

But then Max walked out through the open door and they must have thought he was a Bob Cat and so they took off. Look how nimble they are at going over the fence.

There's still a lot of snow on the North face of the bluff.

There must have been at least 10 of them altogether. They return every day to browse.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

By myself and doing the chores

This week I have been alone on the farm because Brad is down in Utah.

Here's me doing my chores. First I feed the ducks and chickens. If there's not too much snow I let the ducks out for a fly about. Here they are coming back.

Wildairo is wanting to know if he's getting a carrot or apple before his breakfast. He got an apple.

Dandylyons pushes the other cows away so she can get to the feeder first. She is the Boss Cow.

Dandylyons will be 20 years old in March. When Echo was put in Foxsun's old pasture, I saw her standing alone when the other cows had gone out to graze, she was staring over at where Echo was in the distance. She's still hoping Foxsun will return.

Brad has set up everything so it's easy for me to feed. I just roll hay off the bales into the feeder. They are happy cows because hay is dairy quality and they are also grazing now because most of the snow has melted.

Next to take care of is Echo. Echo likes a cuddle in the morning. Then I go in the barn to get his break away halter and as soon as he hears the jingle of the halter, he's off.

He trots around all of the pens evading capture. I normally tell him to knock it off before it gets this far, but this is what happens if I don't say anything.

Whoops...he's got himself trapped in the little pen.

He has a way of evading capture in small places. He carefully and daintily goes sideways past me, facing me the whole time, till he's far enough from me to turn and run... see Echo knows if he turns his back on me there's a good chance I'd jump on him or something.

After I had taken enough pictures of his shenanigans, I mentioned apple and kisses and he skidded to a halt and got in the willing horse position to get his halter on.

He's stands frozen like this with his head up in the air till his halter is on and his mane sorted out. I talk to him and give him kisses, but he just keeps like this till I walk off, then he's right behind me wanting more cuddles. He follow me all around the pasture, gently tapping me in the back to let me know he's back there. I think that by evading me in the morning he still thinks he's got his wild horse card...he probably does actually.

Next I turn off the cows water and water Wildairo. He left his breakfast and came over hoping I had another apple. I didn't.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We managed to survive.

I managed to survive last week on the farm alone...and I'm happy to report that all the animals survived as well.

In anticipation of all the work I had to do, I started back on steroids several days before I was left in charge. I've been in bad shape with the sarcoidosis caused arthritis in my joints, mostly hands, wrists and knees, so Brad was going to have someone take care of everything for me, but I love farm work and before getting ill, thrived on hard work. So with the help of prednisone and pain meds, I did all right.

The first day went well, I really enjoy my own company and never get bored or lonely. It was the next day things went south. When I came downstairs that morning, noticing it was a little nippy, I turned the thermostat up and didn't hear the sound of the furnace starting up down below me in the basement. I called Brad and he said he'd get someone to fix it but I said I'd manage without it. I have some electric heaters for downstairs during the day and I love sleeping in a unheated house so I was happy. I'd jump into my cosy bed with my hotwater bottle and Blondie and sleep like a log. During the day, if I wasn't cleaning the house to keep warm, I'd be snuggled under a blanket with Blondie (who's a heat seeking missile) watching television.

It was on Wednesday the county road that goes through our place was finally ploughed creating big snow/ice boulder berms across our drives ways. I have to get out on the road to go to my studio or Echo's place. The first day I walked down the road to feed Echo, but that night I didn't think I should because there was nowhere to go if a car came and also it was a bit foggy. I attempted to walk through the pasture to Echo's barn, but after trudging a little while through the crusty snow I was worried I would damage my artificial ankle. So that's when I took a run at the berm with the Jeep, smashing into it and pushing snow boulders with the front. When I was driving home, the Jeep followed and older deep track in the snow that Brad had made and I had to step on the accelerator to get back up on the road before I ended up in a deep snow drift that had formed since in the meadow. The Jeep got back up onto the road and kept on going across the road despite the brakes being on, stopping just a foot short of going into the irrigation ditch! I didn't even have time to hold Blondie's little paw Thelma and Louise style!

I was worried something would happen to me and I wouldn't be able to get to the horses, and so I overfed them just in case. When I noticed the cows stock tank was icing over I went to the shop to plug the water trough heater back in and I couldn't get in the door because the snow/ice off the roof had fallen in front of the door and was about 4' high. I had to smash the ice with a fork.

Echo was begging me to let him out to play but the fence was down. I spent extra time with him instead. Wildairo just wanted to be fed and no playing about, thank you.

When Brad came home late Friday night he was stunned how cold the house was and I was surprised because I thought it was cosy..... down stairs anyway. He got the furnace working right away. When he went up stairs he said he couldn't remember it ever being that cold up there, he said it was only 40 degrees lol.

Here's Brad clearing the roads.

Echo finally gets to go out to play. I was driving in my Jeep and spotted him going up and down like a yo-yo to roll. I took all these pictures with my cell phone from inside the Jeep.

And then he ran and ran.

He made many passes by the Jeep and I cheered him on.

He loves to run. Even in the corrals he has his daily work out.

Wildairo is like a big tank when he runs and doesn't run unless he has to. But Echo just goes and goes. Sometimes he comes in so hot he has sweat running down his legs. I have to rub him down, walk him and keep him away from his water for awhile. Both these horses will be on this farm for the rest of their lives and I'm looking forward to the day they can run here together on hundreds of acres. That'll be fun to watch. Fences need work first and so does Wildairo.
Brad is going away again this week, but for only three days this time.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Doing the chores in the snow.

I'm running the place this week and everything is ship shape.... so far. I have to feed the cows and then the two horses and make sure everyone has water.


All the cows look good except for Levin. Those twin calves she had this year really dragged her down because she put's all her energy into her milk and raises big calves. She's looking better all the time though.

I also have to make sure the chickens and ducks are fed and have water. I give them some lettuce as well as their grain and crumbles or pellets. I always give Henrietta grapes and she likes to swallow them whole. The ducks get a bowl of warm water several times a day because they love to get right into it and splash about.

I have taken to feeding the wild birds and it's getting more like a scene from Alfred Hitchcocks 'The Birds'. I thought the 50lb sack of seed would last all Winter, but the rate they're going, it'll be gone in a few weeks. Quail can really pack it away.

It snowed most of the day and it was about 33 degrees F. Wildairo seemed cheerful again...I think it may have something to do with the carrot I gave him.

Echo wanted to go into the pasture, but the electric fence tape is hanging down in the snow and so I'll wait for Brad to fix it because the snow is deep and there's rocks out there. I felt bad for him so I gave him extra attention and another apple.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Echo is a dark horse.

Brad is out of state and he set things up pretty nice for me to feed while he's gone. He put the horses' hay in their barns so I wouldn't have to walk about much in the deep snow. He put Echo's inside his barn right where he could get it if he was brave enough to go inside there.

Well guess what? This is what I found;
(Picture taken at night with cellphone).

Those are supposed to be two bales with only this mornings feed taken off one. Brad's pretty tidy and I know he didn't make that mess. I took this photo and sent it to his phone and he confirmed, it wasn't his mess.

I turned and looked at Echo who was standing outside the barn playing the old innocent 'I'm afraid of the barn' game.

It looks like he snuck in grabbed some hay, flung it around, scared himself and ran out. He was pretty hungry when I put some hay in his tub so he didn't eat much. I put the tub in the door way where he can reach it and normally if some hay spills too deep inside the barn he leaves it rather than venture in after it.

Most days I put his break away halter on and let him out in the pasture till it gets dark. He's really good about coming when I call him, although he can't bring himself to walk back through the gate alone.

Some days he wants to play by running around the different pens when he see's his halter, but he always stands still when I tell him to.

He's the first horse I've ever trained to understand words, besides the normal commands like whoa, trot on, etc. He knows 'apple', 'kiss' and 'step up'. I think he's learning 'outside to play' and a few other words. He's the African Grey of the horse world.

I have been having Brad put his halter on when I'm not there. Brad says as long as he lures him with promises of apples, he can get him haltered.

Wildairo is getting a bit fat which is better this time of year. He had some carrots tonight before his dinner and was pretty happy for a change. He wants to be with the cows again but it's better for him to be in where he can get shelter and better for them to get peace and quiet from him for awhile.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Birds, Horses and a BLM rant.

I put out grain and seeds for the wild birds in the shelter of some trees. We had Starlings, Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Wood Peckers, Quail and (I think I saw) Purple finches show up for dinner. Everyone was enjoying themselves until a Starling flew into the side of the house and killed himself.

Speaking of birds and this being Thanksgiving, here are some pictures William took this Spring.

He's a wild Turkey looking for a girlfriend. He walked over to check out the chickens, who were still in their run. I noticed our hero rooster was very quiet.

He then jumped up on the stone house for a better look at what we had to offer before walking up the bluff.

We had much more snow today and thankfully the weather warmed up. It finally got down to minus -21.8 degrees F here Tuesday night. When I was going up to bed I noticed the front hall seemed so cold and I saw why; cold air was pour through the keyhole and it was covered in frost. Our house is over a hundred years old and the front door has a big old fashioned keyhole. I got some wide tape and put it over the keyhole.

Echo is refusing to go in his barn still. He went into the other building when he thought no one was looking, but something must have scared him and he stopped going in there. Wildairo goes in that same barn to eat with no problem.

This is how Wildairo approaches me; ears back and angry.

He soon softens up when I give him some baby talk, which he still loves.

He's not at all like Echo, he doesn't want to hang around with me. Soon as he's had his apple he goes back to his comfort cow, Dandylyons.

He went pretty feral again when he was turned out with the cattle and he needs a lot of work and so in Spring I will work with him.

I'm keeping them separated because together they will be impossible to work with. Echo made a lot of progress once he was out of sight of Wildairo.

Here are some pictures I took of Echo that first day I turned with out in his new pasture. I went back to check on him and he walked right up to me. I don't think they had trees on his wild home range because he seemed hesitant to approach the trees in the pasture.

He soon figured out the advantages of trees.

BLM Rant.

I've been doing some thinking about these mustangs. Both of them have trust issues with humans. This is understandable after what they have been through.

They were taught to avoid humans by their mothers and then one day they are 'all out' attacked by the Bureau of Land Management(BLM). They are chased by a helicopter for miles over hard dangerous terrain and in an all out panic. They are ran into a trap where mayhem ensues. They are hauled in a truck to a place where they are processed, put into chutes, given shots, branded, blood drawn. Later they are ran in again to be gelded and periodically to be squashed in a chute, rolled onto their side to have their hooves trimmed with an electric grinder. All the time they are chased from place to place by people waving sticks with plastic bags tied to them. Then they are put up for adoption.

Some horses are not as traumatised by this if at all. I think if a horse with a calm unshakable disposition (like dear Foxsun's) goes through all this and there are no mishaps along the way, he comes out of it okay. But there are accidents due to carelessness by the BLM and their contractors. Every round up there are horses killed or injured. And I know there are horses that are emotionally damaged because I have one.

I have to the conclusion that Echo has PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He's a lovely sweet, gentle and intelligent horse when I'm doing things with him that the BLM's policies never had the chance to screw up, like leading him or just giving him cuddles, he's a relaxed normal boy. Here's an example; On Sunday, just before the snow started falling, we were burning a big pile of weeds right next to his pasture and he cantered over to watch and wasn't at all scared. He was enjoying the new experience. But every now and again he has a flash back and becomes a terrified wild horse again. The other day when I approached him in my winter coat and hat he became so panicked he almost fell as spun away to flee even though I was talking to him. I took off my hat and coat and tried to calm him down. I cornered him in a little pen and he had a look in his eyes of sheer terror. It really concerned me. I snapped him out of it by doing something the BLM never did. I went up to him with my head sticking forward, lips puckered saying, "Echo give me a kiss". He stretched his head towards me, blew in my face, breathed my air in and then gave me a kiss. Then he just melted with relief and stepped forward so I could put my arms around his neck. For now he's okay with me wearing a coat and hat, till his next flash back.

Wildairo has a grumpy disposition till he's softened up, but he hates strangers. The grumpy disposition he was born with, lol. They caught on the same day.

I'm not new to horses. I have owned at least one horse for over 40 years and I started riding them at riding school 47 years ago.

What happened to Echo? He has a big dent in his neck about the place his BLM number tag would have been. Did the nylon rope collar they wear around their necks get caught in something? Did he have an accident or was it just the constant fear of what was coming next because that is what causes PTSD. When I had him over at the cattle corrals, the wind was blowing making the head gate bang, he was shaking in fear. I have never seen a horse shake in fear like that. He must have thought he was going to be worked through the chutes.

There are some people who own mustangs that defend the BLM no matter what. In their eyes the BLM can do no wrong. I made the mistake of visiting one of their web sites and was made physically ill. Once again a BLM round up was being defended. It appears that someone was claiming a foal was injured or abused and the BLM apologist was 'setting the record straight' for some concerned animal lovers. What caught my eye was the pictures of the helicopter hovering right above a pen of trapped and frightened mustangs. I thought, 'what the hell are they doing, they will kill those horses'! I read on and sure enough, a mare had panicked (for some god-damned reason) and broke her neck.

I'm sure the people who work at the Burns Wild Horse Corrals are not the ones who decide when or how to round up these horses. I imagine those orders come from someone above least I hope they do because the BLM people I have met and spoken to from the Burns Corrals seem like horse lovers and nice people. I know they use contractors to round up the horses. At least they do for the helicopters, trucks. corral fencing for the traps etc.

Anyway, I have a plan, a cunning plan for working these horses with less stress and keeping more of them on the range. Like most of my schemes it has some rough bits to be work out. I've managed to handle cattle without stressing them and I will show the BLM how to do it with the mustangs. Our cattle weren't always the pussy cats they are today.

I will be writing about my 'Happy Mustang' plan soon. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It's minus -20F or minus -29C and still dropping.

The blog planned for today has been cancelled due to weather conditions. Instead I bring you this scary weather blog:

Last night we had a big snow blizzard. We put Wildairo's hay inside and he went in to eat it like a good boy. Echo was another story though. I put some extra hay inside his barn to try to get him to go in, but he didn't. I stood in his barn when the wind was blasting the other side of it and it was very calm and cosy in there, but he wouldn't go in. He stood outside getting covered in snow but he did have shelter from the wind though as he ate his hay in the door way.

I was so worried about that little duck being out in it. When I woke up this morning I saw deep snow drifts in the places where he would have sheltered. I thought about going out and poking a stick into the drifts like he was avalanche victim, but there was so many drifts and I thought he'd be dead anyway.

Brad went out to feed everyone and when he came back he was all happy and announced that we still had two ducks! He pointed to the sky and there they were, up high and doing circuits over the house. I thought the next time I'd see my water fowl airborne it would be in the 'missing man formation' and that's hard for one duck to pull off.

Brad said it was Ducky Girl who was missing, not Duckie Boy and he said he found her quacking loudly under a tarp behind the hen house. I thought my duck was frozen and dead in a snow drift, but she was in a tent the whole time! He lifted the tarp up and she shot into the air and was quickly joined by Duckie Boy.

After they landed, I herded them into the run and gave them a bowl of warm water, feed and a pile of hay for a bed in the duck house. Boy, I feel better. I hate it when we have a missing pet.

Here are the ducks this July having fun in the new flower bed.

...and also having fun on top of the rock waterfall.

They pooped in the little pool and clogged the pump. Brad had to put a thing over the pool to keep them out. They did look cute playing under the waterfall though.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Great Blizzard of 2010

We have snow, lots of snow, and wind, a lot of wind.

I ventured out and took some pictures before it got bad.

The Fairy roses and the butterfly's are just a memory now. In the background is the horse barn

The flower covered rock wall is now covered in snow.

Here are some deer down the draw, filling up on some alfalfa.

I'm very worried tonight about Duckie Boy, he is missing. Normally when I let the ducks out they quickly go through the gate and take off into the wide blue yonder. Today they just wanted to keep to stay in, they must have known the weather was getting bad.

Our old deaf Airedale, Montie likes to follow them about. She just walks slowly behind them and has become a nuisance. I don't know why she started doing it. Anyway, I left their gate open and when Montie was out here she managed to spilt them up. Duckie Boy was gone and the blizzard was moving in. Bobby and I had a look around for him.

It was getting too dark for him to come out of hiding and the wind was picking up. I hope he's found a nice cosy place to hide.

The other night silly old Montie was doing the same thing, just walking behind them. I didn't realize what she was up to until she'd made Duckie Girl fly off. I heard quaking and I thought, 'What the hell, it's almost midnight, how come the ducks are still up'? I went out there and saw that old fool walking around. Duckie Boy flew down out of the darkness and almost landed in my arms. I picked him up and carried him into the duck run. Duckie Girl didn't come home till the morning. Now the same thing has happened, only it's Duckie Boy on the lam. It couldn't have happened on a worse night. Ducks can be caught at night, in snow storms by coyotes.

I had another scare, this time with Max. He wanted to go out just before the blizzard started. When the wind was howling and the snow was coming down sideways, Brad asked where he was. We looked around outside for him. I went over to the shop and there he was meowing very loudly in the center bay. When I brought him out and the wind and snow hit his face he really didn't like it and I had to cover his face with my hand. He was glad to get a ride home in the Jeep because there were a few very big drifts along the road.

Max is often brought home from his adventures in the Jeep. He sits next to me and purrs. I've spotted him hunting across the country road, by the big barn. I always admonish him and bring him home.

Here he is after his blizzard adventure. It looks like he grabbed my camera and took this picture himself.

My next blog will be about the horses and I have some concerns about the BLM.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Coyote update and an old post.

The post below is what I was working on when the dreaded coyote/wolf/dog beast attacked my flock. Ironically I had just taken the pictures of the birds enjoying the last of the nice weather when all hell broke loose.

The keen observer will notice that our hero rooster, Jet Lag is missing some tail feathers even before he bravley tangled with the beast that very day. The week before we returned home after dark to discover the rooster and a hen not in the hen house. This was the first time he'd never come home to roost and to our dismay the ground was covered with feathers. He returned with the hen the next morning and I suspect there had been some kind of altercation with a predator. I would say that the old boy does a very good job of protecting his girls.

Since I went postal and shot in the general direction of the coyote/wolf/dog beastie I had a few more scares. One afternoon I was looking out the kitchen door when I saw two regular coyotes running towards the house. I lobbed out a couple of fire crackers out and they scarpered right quick.

The next day I saw a coyote on the lawn and I yelled at him. He reluctantly slinked off kind of like a stray dog would. I quickly put a couple of bullets in my gun and even though he was gone, I fired a warning shot. A little while later in almost the same spot, I saw his pal. They were both coming in the direction of the hen house. This time things were different...I had a bullet in my gun.

I carefully got my gun...the Airedales were jumping up and down with excitement because they love gun fire. Leaving the dogs indoors, I spotted the coyote right under Foxsun's apple tree. He was nonchalantly walking along like he owned the place till he felt that bullet zing passed his head and then he took off at warp speed. I have never seen anything move that fast and we have seen no coyotes since, lol.

Brad asked me if I wanted bigger bullets and I told him I didn't want to kill him but put the fear of my ruger in him.

I think the coyotes are showing up here because the neighbours are weaning hundred's of calves and playing loud music 24/7 to calm or entertain them and the coyotes have come this way for some peace and quiet.....then the poor things get shot at.

As promised the post from a month ago when it was still warm and sunny:

October 14th 2010

I was going to write about the horses but I just had to sneak in another blog about my garden.

Yesterday everything looked and smelled so lovely I was a bit sad about it all until next Spring so I snapped a few pics. I woke up this morning to our first light frost so I was glad I took the pictures yesterday.

I brought in my potted tomatoes, Gardenia, Jasmine and the China Doll tree which had enjoyed being outside all summer. I took down the curtains and set up some grow lights to keep the tomatoes going as long as possible. Tommy Two Tone had fun knocking down the little tomatoes and chasing them. It's a regular jungle in my kitchen now.

The plants on the rock wall filled in and grew over the side.

I know I was shooting into the sun but I wanted to capture the Sweet Alyssum which smelled lovely. I hate weeding, as you can see from the weed in the foreground, but I put in lots of plants like Sweet Alyssum and I find it kind of hides the weeds.

The plants filled in around our waterfall rock. I have put in several miniature roses for next year. It is very messy in this pic because I had just planted lots of hyacinths under the annual petunias and my chickens wanted to see what I was doing and tried to scratch up the bulbs. My two little mallard ducks follow me around when I'm outside as well as Henrietta so no worms are safe around here.

This rose is called The Fairy. It fades in the hot summer sun to almost white.

Old Max was trying to distract me by looking extra cute.

One of the oak trees was loaded with acorns. I think we really need a pig to eat them.

The Golden Elderberry bush, which is a beautiful yellow/green in the summer sun, produced tons of elderberries that the birds just love. I noticed the birds have already eaten all the big red berries off the Washington Thorn.

My newly developed shade areas did very well in the summer heat. This Rhododendron did well.

Our rooster Jet Lag and Henrietta. JL is missing some tail feathers.

Then all hell broke loose.