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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.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Armistice Day WW1 ~ Poppy Day.

This is my maternal grandfather, Albert James Peters, in January 1916 when he was recuperating at a military hospital in Egypt after action in Gallipoli. He was a Welshman who fought with the Royal Irish Fusiliers 1914 to 1918 ~ World War One ~ The Great War ~ The War to End All Wars. "He served with honour", won many medals and was Honourably Discharged in December 1918.

He didn't like to talk about the war, he saw some horrific things in the four years he spent fighting in that terrible war. He was a wonderful granpa and passed away in 1975. As a little girl I went on lovely walks exploring the local woods and countryside with him and his dog Rover.

This is me, my mum, Granpa and Rover back when we were both pups.

Granpa took good care of me. I remember when I would fall and scrape my knees he would wrap them up in big bandages WW1 style, lol.

Here he is making sure my draws didn't fall down when I went swimming.

My dad's mother's three brothers all fought in the First World War. Here are two of them, Harry and Jesse with their mother, Elizabeth.
Harry William Hulatt. Private, 1/5th Bedfordshire Regiment. He was mobilised with the Territorial’s in August 1914, and completing his training in the following year was drafted to France, where he took part in much severe fighting in the Somme and Arras sectors. He died gloriously on the field of Battle at Ypres Belgium on the 19th August 1917 (age 21) and was entitled to the 1914-15 Star and the General Service and Victory Medals. “His life for his Country, his soul to God”.

(War grave information of). Pte. Harry William Hulatt 32130 (3162), 6th Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment. Killed in action 19th Aug 1917. Voormezeele Cemetery, XV. Row D. Grave 15. No 3 Extension/Enclosure, Ypres, Belgium.

Jesse Richard Hulatt. Private, 4th Bedfordshire Regiment. Volunteering in 1915, he was drafted overseas in the following year. During his service on the Western Front, he took part in many important engagements, including the Battle of the Somme, Bullecourt, Arras and Cambrai, and was wounded twice and gassed in action. He was demobilised in January 1920, and holds the General Service and Victory Medals.

Frederick Walter Hulatt. Rifleman K.R.R.C. He joined in February 1918, after a period of training he was engaged at various stations on important duties. After hostilities ceased he proceeded to Germany with the Army of Occupation and served on the Rhine at Cologne until his demobilisation in June 1920.

Jesse Richard Hulatt, died 17th November 1924 (age 27)
Frederick Walter Hulatt, died 21st March 1936 (age 35)

In Flanders Fields.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Menace from above.


It was a beautifully calm 60 degrees today. We've only had light frosts so the trees are looking lovely in their Autumn glory and the grass is still growing and very green. That's my English oak on the left and the birch on the right. I'm loving this weather!

I haven't been blogging because for some reason when I'm not doing well health wise I hate to write. I think if I was to blog it would end up nothing but me complaining about my ailments, lol. I'm controlling pain and fatigue better now and so I will try to catch up.

Attack of the Air Heads.

A few Sundays ago Brad had just come in from fixing fence and walking the cows up to the circle and so we were having a relaxing afternoon at home. The 'circle' is our center pivot irrigation system that is about a mile away from the house. Shortly after getting in Brad was surprised to see the cows were already back. I looked out and sure enough they were not only home again but running around in a panic. Wildairo was running in circles in the corral where Brad had put him so the cows could go out without him preventing them. None of them settled down and when I saw Dandylyons running I knew something was very wrong because she's old and hasn't ran for a few years.

I went outside and I immediately saw what was terrorizing everybody. Coming towards us, up the draw and at a low altitude, was a hot air balloon. It had chased the cattle all the way home. Then I remembered Echo was alone in the horse pasture directly in the path of this thing! Brad and I jumped in the Jeep and raced over to his pasture. There were two 'chase' vehicles there. One was parked in the drive and it's occupants seemed to be trying to calm Echo. Echo was in a low earth orbit (high headed panic) but staying in the part of the pasture where the people were. I was scared to death because we have an inner fence that's electric but some parts of the pasture there's an outer fence of barbed wire. Normally he can't get near it but if he blew through the electric fence he could get into the barbed wire. Around here there's miles of barbed wire because it's cattle country. I wasn't worried about Wildairo because he was in a very secure corral.

I called Echo once and he came, not at a trot or a canter, but a flat out gallop. Boy was he glad to see us. We took him into the pen and made an Echo sandwich of him as that balloon was directly over us. I could see right up in to the inside of the balloon as they turned up the burners to gain some altitude. Echo watched that thing with great big eyes as we calmed him with our arms over his neck. I gave those airheads a piece of my mind and my language was as colorful as that balloon.

Because they were so low they must have launched it near town which is about a mile and a half from where we were. More than likely they used our field like they did years ago...without informing us. They were floating towards our neighbour's who has over a thousand calves they're weaning. They have loudspeakers blasting music 24/7 to calm the calves and here was this huge low altitude balloon coming towards them!!! Luckily they started to drift north before they got to them. What the hell were these idiots thinking? If they had launched the balloon just north of the town they could have floated 50 miles before they saw any livestock.

I found this web site that had tips for hot air balloon people.

It seems they are very aware of the danger to horses and cattle and I think they should make a better effort to avoid them. I suppose if they did manage kill Echo they'd only be out $125! I'd hate to be riding and see a low altitude balloon coming at me! Some horses might be impossible to hang on to if you dismounted. I find it safer to stay on a frightened horse so if he does bolt you can at least steer him away from danger until he's under control again. Poor Dandylyons spent a few days by herself sitting down a lot recovering from the ordeal.

These selfish people were having a peaceful and tranquil float-about while down below them, on the ground they are creating chaos. At least I managed to have a good cuss at them. The only good thing was that I found out that Echo now considers humans his protectors!