January 1, 2014 – New Year’s Meander

Even though it was a balmy 5 degrees today, we decided to get out for a while.

We returned to a small creek near its confluence with the Iowa River and brought Daisy along for the adventure.

It looked a bit different than a visit to the same place at the height of summer.

The trees adjacent to the river still show the marks from this spring’s highwater flood mark.  All in all, a brisk walk to start out the new year.

February 24, 2012 – Snow!

The biggest storm of the year (all three inches of it) at least stuck to everything to make a fanciful landscape.

dog in snow by barn

Doggy in the snow!

snow on fence

Snow fence.

Raspberry bushes.

snow on cold frame

Clear, blue skies and snow. A look of winter.

The chief engineer didn’t design for three inches of wet, heavy snow on the cold frame.  While it didn’t open up to the outside, some of the support wires did collapse.

But of course, under the snow, the water droplets on the plastic remain fluid.

July 25, 2011 – Welcome, Daisy the Goldendoodle!

As we lost our Golden Retriever mix April after 14 years on the farm this late winter, it was finally time to get another dog. I’ve been reticent about getting and indoor dog as one of my housemates is allergic to dogs.  But then they found these that shed much less, if at all.

Here’s Daisy -  named so by Martin on occasion of his 10th birthday.

She looks like a big teddy bear.

Daisy and Martin relaxing on the couch – Daisy is half poodle and half golden retriever – she’s supposed to be about 50 pounds full grown.

one year ago…”A Quiet Day in the Country?”

May 4, 2011 – Polecat

Not a polecat in the traditional sense of the word (skunk), but instead a our black cat Ora, checking out her domain from above.

black cat on pole

Actually, the cat is also monitoring Linda as she gives a supplemental feeding to a couple of the bottle lambs from the set of quads.

bottle lambs

I wonder if the cat might not be licking up any spilled milk after the feeding is over?

one year ago…”Thought on Youth Coaches”

April 17, 2011 – What Should Maizie Do?

Life isn’t always pretty and beautiful on the farm. This post from Maizy proves it.

First off, it wasn’t my fault. Last night my owners gave me too much leftover rib fat and rib bones from their dinner. I had to eat it all, and it went down so easy I had to steal from the cat’s portions as well. Then they locked me up in the mud room overnight. I tried whimpering so they’d let me out when I started having problems. Did they come? No.

dog doo

I missed MOST of their shoes and boots with the four separate piles I left. Now I’m getting the stink eye from them. What do I do? Pretend it never happened? Act all guilty like those dogs in the You Tube Guilty dog videos?

one year ago…”Spring Mushrooms”

February 16, 2011 – Farm Fixture April Has Chased Last Rabbit

Today was the day every pet owner dreads – having to willingly drive to the vet to put a long-time pet away. April had slowly given up the will to live, not eating as much, then not eating at all, not drinking water, and finally the last two days, not moving from her comfortable place in the hay in the barn. So it was time.

April had been on the farm before Martin was born.  The girls were three and five when we retrieved April from the shelter.

For 14 years, April has been part of the backdrop to the farm.

She took seriously her animal guarding duties.  Whenever we packed up livestock, she spent the night close by, instead of in her usual spot.

In her younger days, she accompanied us to cut a Christmas tree.  We’re guessing she was a mix of Golden Retriever and Collie.  We called her our Marilyn Monroe dog.  She was laid back and non-barking – things I prize in a a dog!

Like everyone, she had her faults and quirks – the biggest one was her terror of thunderstorms.  When she was young, she was caught in a hailstorm, and rather than seeking shelter, she ran around in the hailstones – some big enough to break windows in the house.  After that, she would stop at nothing to get into the house during thunderstorms.  She destroyed two doors, before we learned to call her into the house when storms were coming and put up steel doors, so she couldn’t hurt herself or the doors if a storm came when we weren’t home.

It was a good life on the farm – sunshine and children to play with.

April always insisted on being part of the first day of school photos.

Everyone in the family had a chance to say goodbye to April.  Last night,  Claire even did when we put the phone up to April’s ear so Claire could say good-bye and April could hear her voice one last time.

Each child in this world, if they are lucky, only gets one good dog to grow up with.  For our kids, we can thank April for being that special dog that they shared their childhood with.  Thanks April.

one year ago…”Sheep Bagging Up”

June 30, 2010 – Advances in Cat Feeding

With Claire’s recent departure, Martin has assumed the pet feeding duty.

Martin started feeding the cats, and immediately started making changes to the routine.  He added a new bit of technology.  Evidently he was not impressed with Claire’s dump a half pound of cat food out in a pile and run technique.  Martin instituted some new cat feeding technology – single serving cat feeders made out of an old board and tuna cans.  Although not totally apparent in this photo, four tuna cans are screwed onto a board, so all four cats can eat at the same time – portion controlled.

one year ago…”Lake Shetek State Park”

April 21, 2010 – Who Says Cats Don’t Make Good Shepherds?

Over the ages, many scientists, using keen powers of observation and conjecture, have winnowed many complex animal relationships.  These breakthroughs often times explain how seemingly random events are part of a larger unexplained whole.  I had just one such experience this week.  Many people regard cats as having few skills in  herding cloven-footed herbivores.  Dogs occupy most of the herding space, mainly due to their brash and over-the-top nipping, barking and running after their chosen herd of ungulates.

Cats have a different, heretofore, unrecognized approach to herding.  Cats are waaay more laid back – in fact, they’d rather make you think they weren’t doing anything at all.  Our oldest farm cat, Toby, probably about 13 years old by now demonstrated this technique to me, only after our long relationship.  In this photo he positions himself in what looks like a warm, sunny location, but actually uses the adjoining cavern to amplify his voice when he makes subtle voice commands and head motions to move the sheep.

After an initial calling meow, Toby uses almost imperceptible head motions to visually track to the sheep the direction he wants them to travel.  Here the lead ewe begins to follow Toby’s command, alerting the young lambs to come this way.

As his head moves from left to right in this photo sequence, the herd gains speed.

Once the sheep are safely moved closer to the barn, Toby acts as though he had nothing to do with it, even though the sheep look directly at him, awaiting further direction!

one year ago…”Apple Blossoms Soon”

March 16, 2010 – Three Cats in the Sun

Can you find the three cats in this photo? They were all catching some rays on the south side of the barn and since they are cats, didn’t bother to move when the sun went away.

Yesterday was one of those days when the spring list of things to do outstretched the hours in the day. I imagine many people besides me have a long list of things that need to get done. Today, my list included some computer work to keep my employer happy, taking down the Christmas lights, picking up the twigs and branches from the pruning, picking rocks out of the lawn that the snowplowing moved in the snow, and keeping the syrup stove stoked. At one point, I was able to get some peace of mind, by concentrating on being outside on the beautiful day, instead of concentrating on the mental list.

one year ago…”New Electric Fence”