Monday, August 22, 2011

Pending Departure

This girl....

is not so very happy that this guy...

will be leaving for South Africa on her 11th birthday.

This other guy, the mischievous looking one there on the left?

I'm not sure he's going to miss the big guy quite as much.

Not really. We're all going to miss him terribly. A whole, whole, whole, whole lot.

But, we're glad he's going. And can't wait to hear all about his first encounter with a rhino. And Charlize Theron.

He flies out Aug. 30 and arrives in Johannesburg two days later. Where he'll stay for two whole years.

And call his mother four times: Christmas Day 2011, Mother's Day 2012, Christmas Day 2012, Mother's Day 2013.

Four times.

In two years.

On those four days? Don't be looking for me. I'll be staring at my phone, waiting for it to ring. Then, after it rings and I hear him say, "Hey, Mama!" and talk to him for awhile? Yeah, after that, I'll be in a puddle in a quiet room making a mess out of a whole box of tissues. Fair warning.

Dear Karlie, I'm sorry that your Mom will be a bawling mess for your birthday and the next two years' worth of Christmases and Mother's Day. A nice pretty thing in a pale blue box from a certain jeweler in New York just might cheer me up. Love, Mama

(Don't worry, we get to email weekly. I'll be fine. I'm sure he'll be fine, too. For Pete's sake, he'll be in South Africa, what'll he care? And, that's as it should be.)

Love from the farm,

(P.S. Also don't worry. Tanner's curly-Q mohawk is history. Praise the electric razor. Amen.)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Among the Reeds & the Rushes

This is Bruno. Bruno is a goose.

We're fairly certain Bruno is a girl, but when we named her, we didn't know. We still don't know for sure. But she just seems like a girl: she's kind of gentle, unassuming, looks in the mirror a lot..... The thing is, even if Bruno is in fact a girl, I don't feel like coming up with a new name, so I think we're sticking with Bruno.

Since the death of our white goose, Alvin, Bruno has emerged as the gentle leader of our farm. She follows us wherever we go, but she leads the other fowl into many adventures.

Like this recent adventure in the erstwhile garden (perhaps better described as the reeds and the rushes, if we had standing water in this high desert we live in, that is. Which we don't. So actually, I better call a spade a spade. This is a great big patch of weeds in which a tomato plant or two is hiding.  Somewhere.)

But that's not all that's in there.

Bruno found something interesting in the garden. And she invited all the nearby critters to come have a look see.

"Here we go, ladies and gents. Here's where you'll see my exciting discovery. Just make your way on in. Now, watch out for those mosquitoes, there. Ooo, don't get your foot tangled in that root, there...uh, good...OK...keep moving now. Anyone else coming?"

It seems that not all the ladies are OK with Bruno being in charge. They took a little coaxing to keep going in the right direction. Some went more quietly than others.

Eventually, into the weed patch the chickens all clambered.

And what should they stumble upon? What was the beautiful discovery Bruno wished to reveal to these chickens who are relatively fresh from the shell and have not yet witnessed all the wonders this wide world has to offer?

Why, it was this beautiful little volunteer.

Snuggled deep beneath the weeds, there lies this precious little gourd. Isn't she pretty?
We don't often get volunteers around here. A stray corn stalk or two, maybe, but nothing so delicate and pretty. It was a nice little find. The chickens seemed to think so, too. They "oooh'ed" and "aaaah'ed" in the rushes for awhile.

Which is exactly what Bruno counted on, when she cunningly ushered them into the garden. No sooner had the last black tail feather waddled out of sight, then Doris the Duck magically appeared (no kidding, look at the glow around Doris. That isn't some Photoshop trick, that showed up all on its own. Maybe Doris is a visitor from another, holier realm? Hmmmm....)

Anyway, Doris showed up, Bruno checked that the chickens were deep in the weedy realms. Then the true motive behind her seemingly kind antics were revealed.

Mere minutes later, Bruno and Doris could be found relishing the clear water of their satellite dish pool, without the chicken riff-raff nosing around, interfering in their bathing pleasure.


That Bruno. She's one to watch. Seems we have a new thinker on the farm. A cunning conspirator. And, looks like we better not let Doris the Duck deceive us with her fussy-hatted ways. I believe there's a lot going on under that fluffy pillbox of hers.

But wait, what's that rustling I hear in the rushes, far from the bathing beauties and curious cluckers?

Why, it's Bijou the Cat! She couldn't find the chickens, or the pretty little gourd, but she did find a nice cool place to rest her laurels for awhile.

It was a fine time for all. Everyone had an adventure.

Now my adventure will be to find the hedge trimmers so I can take out these dadgum weeds. Or maybe I'll give the trimmers to Tanner, walk towards the garden with him, make like I'm going back to get my gardening gloves, and go take a dip in the pool with Bruno and Doris. We'll see how it goes.

Love from the farm,

Monday, August 8, 2011

I've Drawn The Line & I SHALL NOT WAVER!

If you read yesterday's blog, you may have caught reference to the fact that my spring chickens are not yet in their coop because it's being inhabited by dogs right now.

You may also have caught my comment about some of the girls roosting down at the barn, while some are hanging out here in front of the house.

Did you catch that?

That I've been letting some little sweeties hang out up front? In spite of their pooping prowess?

Well, this is the thanks I get.

 Oh, sorry, can't quite see that?

How's this?

What we have here are three presumptuous chickens taking a breather right there on top of my security door.

"What? Oh...what? Is this not OK? No? Oh, well, goodness we're sorry."

"....We're not moving, mind you, but we're real sorry you're not happy about it."

Ummm, ladies? Guess're moving! And I know just the guy to see that you do.

 Ahhhh, that Michael.

Don't know what I'd do without that man.

Bed head, and all.

Much as there's a weird little part of me that toys with the idea that it might be funny, just once, to utter the sentence, "Now, Karlie, don't forget to shut the security door. You don't want a chicken pooping on your head," I'm just not sure it's worth it.

I sense a dog pen raising coming on real soon, so we can put these pretty girls where they belong.

Love from the farm,

(P.S. You should know my poor mother is undoubtedly shaking her head in distress right now because I've told the whole world that chickens roosted on my front door, no matter that it lasted no more than 45 minutes. She struggles a bit with my put-it-all-out-there ways. Sorry, Mom. Love ya! If you come visit, I promise no chickens will poop on your head.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Need Dog Advice

In a departure from my usual regaling you with our quirky anecdotes around here, I'm seeking some advice from you, readers. Please put on your "Dear Abby..." caps.

We have four dogs: This is Sadie, who we adopted from the pound. She's 6.

Then there's matched set, Jaxon and Missy, who are brother and sister.

 (This is Missy. Jaxon was off and running elsewhere, avoiding the camera. Apparently, he's on a the wall of a post office somewhere and doesn't want anyone to make the connection.)

Jaxon and Missy are co-creators of Beauford, the puppy. (Yes, Missy is getting spayed as soon as she's done nursing. No more Deliverance puppies for us.) Beauford is 10 weeks old and a bundle of love. He's the image of Jaxon's bright eyes and markings, with a side of fluff.

Ostensibly, he'll be finding a new home after he turns 84 days old. We'll see how that goes.

Here's the problem.

I grew up with one dog at a time...small the house. We had three dogs the entirety of my growing up years. When each dog died (one of epilepsy, one hit by a car, the other of an unknown cause after I'd left home and married), we mourned a member of our family. Mom and Dad have not been able to get another dog since Buffy the Toy Pom died. They can't face another loss.

Since Mike and I married, we've always had dogs. Because we lived in Flagstaff the Snow Village and then the Blazing Flames of Hades (OK, we liked it in the Valley, but it was a little warm), our dogs have always been indoor dogs.

Then, we moved to our little farmstead, with all its muddy glory during wet seasons. After about a year, I lost all patience with the mess and grime of dogs playing outside then coming in the house with muddy paws. I banished all animals to the outdoors. Even the guinea pig moved to the barn (in retrospect, I'm not sure that was the right decision. RIP dear Abigail.)


We only penned the dogs when we left the property, because for the first year they didn't roam much beyond our place, and always came home. But then, their horizons began expanding, and we developed a biter, then we noticed the dogs chasing the neighbors' vehicles....   In short, we had become inconsiderate neighbors.

When we really faced facts (which took too long, frankly), neither Mike nor I could live with the idea of being bad neighbors. We began penning the dogs.

I hate having them penned. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I have always been aware that Dad hates the idea of an animal being on a chain or left in a pen, and it rubbed off on me.

Granted, the dogs are in a nice big space  (probably 1,500 to 2,000 square feet) with two structures available to hide from weather and sun, and a platform they can jump on to be king of the world.  The problem is, their nice roomy digs ARE MY CHICKEN YARD!! My young chickens are free ranging near the barn and up at the front of the house, while the dogs look at them in slobbering longing from inside their crib.

Things are a little backwards.

A) I need my chickens in their once-lovely grassy chicken yard that is now a dust bowl from digging dogs.

B) I need to know how to provide my penned pups with the right level of interaction so they know they're loved and still a valued part of the family.

 We can take care of A: we'll get a new pen built, so the chickens can have their coop and yard back. (They haven't started laying yet, so they're not missing their nests.) We'll either repurpose one of the other existing structures on the property, or build the dogs their own space.

But as far as the interaction/exercise, I'm seeking your experience. My vision of success would be one or more of us working around the property or in the garden, with the dogs let out to wander around with us. The dogs would hang around the place, content to pal around with their human friends.

That's not exactly how it plays out in reality.

Right now, these sweet critters BOLT the minute we let them out, taking off for parts unknown....and getting up to their old tricks.

(By the way, we don't have our biter, Mia, anymore. We did what we could, but she was an increasingly aggressive biter, targeting children and adults alike. Ultimately, we had to put her down. It was devastating, because we loved her and we could feel the fear in her that drove her to bite. We had her from a pup and know she was never mistreated, so we don't know where the aggression and fear originated. But people felt unsafe coming to our home and people were getting hurt, so we had to make the hard choice. We're no longer contending with a biter.)

All that said, I'm looking for your advice. I'd imagine many of you have had to pen your dogs. How often do you let them out? When you do let them out, do you throw them on leashes and take them for walks?  How do you keep them on the property? Did you train them to stay close? Any ideas how to do that? Sturdily fencing our 3 acres isn't in the cards for at least a few years. Anything you have in the pen to keep them entertained? Besides each other?

I know this sounds like elementary stuff, but I'm just hopeful someone has had similar experience and would have some fresh ideas.

Bring on the advice!

By the way, if you have trouble leaving comments (I'm looking into why it isn't working for some folks), feel free to leave me a message on Facebook at "Love From the Farm." Just look for our old pal Gertie's smiling face.

I appreciate anything you can throw my way!

Love from the farm,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

Look what I Mike got for my his birthday belated Father's Day gift!

It's a new canning camp stove! Aren't I Isn't he lucky?!

Look how pretty my lovely red cast iron pot looks on my Mike's new stove.

But wait, what is this?

Well, what do we have here?

Why, it looks like a friend for my very favorite cooking friend.

It's like Christmas in July. Well, actually, it was a birthday present in July, from my kiddos.

Am I loved, or what?

Wait, weren't we talking about Mike's Father's Day gift?

I've gotten a little confused.

Maybe it's a good time to go, camping.

Camping, that's it.

Love from the farm,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Chicken Smarts

I'd love to believe these friendly little chickens we're raising are not only affectionate, but also brilliant.

Don't they just look like little smarty pants? All bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as it were?

Well, truth is, I'm sure they are very smart, in their own special way. Just not in the way that keeps one of them from repeatedly flying into the front window in an attempt to join us inside the house.

I want to give the pretty little critters a fair shake. I'm sure their intelligence will emerge in other areas.

Lots of other areas.

Plenty of other areas.

OK, maybe just in one or two areas.

Oh, who cares.

As long as they like me, and I like them, and they start putting out some eggs in the next few months, that's enough for me.

Love from the farm,

(P.S. In the interest of full disclosure, the chickens in question have grown a lot since that picture was taken in May. I just don't have a current photo. I'd say, "I will soon, though," but I'm just not sure that's really going to happen anytime soon, so I better play it safe.

Also, I believe chickens are smarter than they're given credit for in some circles. I really do. I'm just left to ponder what is UP with the Dilbert out front who keeps flattening his feathered cheek against my picture window. That's all. )

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer's End

Today, the kiddos went back to school. Why our district starts so blooming early is beyond me. For my three little ones, summer has ended at least six weeks before it's going to start feeling like fall around here. Our experiment in homeschooling has come to an end, but it merited great results. We regrouped, the kids regained their health, and they were eager to get back to a structured classroom. It'll be just fine. It's just that school came too soon on the fringe of a too short summer.
Still, while it lasted, it was lovely. And, a lot happened.

I got to do this two weekends in a row.

Relaxing by the Dolores River in Colorado, about an hour from Telluride one way, and Durango the other. Bliss.

 And, we all got to spend some time with Mike's Granny.

Is this lady beautiful or what?

We got together in June near Lake Powell to celebrate Granny's 90th birthday. That's right...90. Can you believe it? She's lovely and I wish we could spend more time with her. We still get handmade Valentines and Christmas gifts from her. I love this woman.

And that cute guy kissing her cheek? That's my Michael. I don't know if you've met him yet. You'll be seeing more of him soon.

Along with quality time performing for their Greater Granny at the family talent show, the kids also got in lots of great cousin time this summer.

 Miss Macy hung with Morgan and Megan. A lot.

These guys hung with us in Colorado, where Tan did lots of night fishing. Adam has been working all summer for his aunt's pool company, but he took time to ride the gondola into Telluride with us and hit the shops with us. He missed out on the white water rafting, but he got lots of city time in in the Valley of the Sun, so I don't think he missed it much. Do you realize in just 27 days this big blondie is flying off to South Africa for two years? Good grief.

This sweet girl got in lots of Colorado, cousin, swim and sleeping-in time this summer.

This is my Karlie. And, that's the hat that she really, REALLY wanted me to buy. She didn't walk away with it. See that forlorn little smile on her face? She sensed the end of her relationship with the coveted cap was near.
But, she still had lots of fun. Don't let those puppy dog eyes fool you.

We loved having Michael along for two weekend getaways in a feels like he misses out on a lot because of his shift work schedule.

This summer, though, he got in lots of cuddle time with his little ones, who aren't so little anymore.

This is a dad who can't get enough of his girls.

Even when his girls can't behave in the face of a camera lens.

Macy in particular has trouble containing herself in front of the lens. More on that later.

In the meantime, have you noticed how incredibly *all that* my husband is? This is a man who just gets more mmmm...mmmm....mmmmm with age.

I am a lucky woman. This October will mark 15 years with this fella. I'm still pinching myself. The time has flown. I can literally remember the moment I first saw him, lanky and tall, silhouetted in the doorway of my house. Those crinkly eyes had me from the get go. Whew.


Let's get back to Mike and his kids.

Devoted as he is to these girls and his boys, even Mike reaches his limit with Macy's goofy faces.

Yep, that's her tongue you see poking out there. Macy will lick her way out of any situation where that technique has even a modicum of a chance of success. Consider yourself warned.

Ahh, yes, that's our girl.

Most of the time, she looks something like this.

Just a sweet young lady, heading off to girls' camp for a week.

But even as you're getting this sweet girl,'re also getting this sweet girl...

...and this goofy girl...

...aaaaaannnndddd, this intriguing girl...

Which is why, I love it when I catch her unawares.

When she has absolutely no idea anyone is watching.

When she is just being her beautiful, reflective, serene, amazing self.

This girl takes my breath away. I find myself going completely still so I can just take her in. I hope she will come to know how incredibly beautiful she is. And how utterly cherished she is by her dad and me.

I could have just gone on and on driving down the road, capturing every uninhibited moment. Alas, we had to turn in to the driveway, and the change in direction jolted her out of her reverie.


Love from the farm,