Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sneaky Bill is Gonna Get His!



Sneaky Bill is mean, rotten and should be stepped on! I dream of killing him- but that would just be wrong on a lot of levels.  First off, it would be messy and I would have to watch him die. Now that might not be a bad thing, but there are so many ways to choose from - a quick death - slow - tortuous. Bill is not kind to others - he himself has killed. But he has managed to escape punishment or retribution for a long time.
Sneaky Bill has no conscience, no morals, no sense of social responsibility. He is an opportunist, a complete narcissist and 100% lacking in empathy or compassion.  Oh yah, he thinks he's smart and artistic and talented, but he has nothing going for him that 1000's  of others don't have.  In fact on most levels, Bill is mediocre.  No one has the courage to tell Bill this to his face though. Because Sneaky Bill is quick to avenge and carries a grudge to extreme.
No one is safe around Sneaky Bill.  
Oh yah, I know he probably has someone out there who thinks I am being harsh...but you don't know Bill...He acts benign and even sometimes even shy and retiring. But beneath that facade lurks a scheming, plotting character that is only waiting for an opportunity to show his true talents and character.  
Sneaky Bill is ugly too. He is squat, fat and bald...well a few little hairs on his chin maybe...but on top - bald as an egg. He has beady little eyes. He is low-slung so moves with no grace at all.  Maybe he drinks too much...probably.
He moved away for a while, but recently returned..and has built himself a magnificent home...large and quite airy with at least 6 entrances. And while his home has been destroyed several times - each day he is back........I hope that a bird or lizard eats Bill soon because I am sick and tired or running into his stupid web every morning!


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How to Turn a Goat into a Hat

It has been ages since I have had the time to get back to this blog. Loads of things have been happening - mostly good- that have kept us hopping.  Also I found out that a few people are actually reading this Blog. And these people started asking me what was going I thought I'd better get back to work here.
First of all an evil person got into our lives and tried to do a lot of harm...but we prevailed and while we wasted a lot of time on this person, it was ultimately time well spent. It was an adventure of sorts and what my mom would have referred to as a"learning experience". Onward and upward.

And now, for the goat fan club - Fritz, Fred, Louise, Berta, Tillie and Bessie are doing well, fat and sassy and very very fuzzy.  Which brings me to the point of this I made a hat out of  Fred....or, 

How To Turn a Goat Into a Hat.

First.  Get a fuzzy type goat and put a huge amount of time and anxiety into caring for this goat. Lose sleep and spend $$$ on vet bills, medicine and feed and vast amounts of internet time in goat groups and internet research on goat care.

Oh..and I forgot to mention...get several goats because they are herd animals and need companions to thrive.  They also need a ton of other stuff and equipment and fencing and bedding and shots and worm medicine and if you get one you might as well get.............

But my gosh they are cute, funny, smart and cunning. They eat a bunch of nasty brush and bushes, but will just as likely eat your most valuable shrubbery too as they are gourmands. Look it up.

Second. Shear this animal to get his  beautiful hair (mohair/cashmere). Now this is where it gets complicated because you need to restrain the easy task...and develop some skill at separating hair from goat without injuring yourself or the goat. We struggled with this with moderate success until one of our B&B guests confessed to being a skilled shearer! No joke.

So last spring Mr. W came to our rescue and sheared the 6 goats in less than 2 hours. For Ed and I it usually takes about 5 hours and significant risk to our marriage!

Third. Send the fleece out to a processor to dehair and clean it and wait 3 months to get it back. It will be soft, luxurious and cost a lot of money to be processed. But it will be worth it as this hair is so amazing that it is almost obscene.

Fourth. Turn the hair into yarn. Now, if you don't know how to spin your own yarn you may have to learn or ask someone to do it for you. Learning will require the purchase of a drop spindle or $$$$ spinning wheel and many hours of swearing and frustration, but eventually you will produce some fabulous yarn - which after washing, fulling and otherwise prepping will be ready to knit or crochet with.

Fifth. Knit or crochet something with this yarn. 

Well, as it turns out, our friend Mr. W and his wife were expecting a baby and I, in a moment of wild enthusiasm promised that I would make a little cap for new arrival out of the hair we all worked to remove from the goats.  It only took me about 5 days of frustration and hair pulling (mine and the yarn) for me to relearn how to crochet (after 20 years of trying hard to forget it) and then three tries at figuring out the instructions until at last a soft, cute little baby cap, albeit not perfect...emerged.

Little cap went out in the mail this morning to baby W. 

And that my friends is how to turn a goat into a hat!

 Cider Mill Blog

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Amazing Blindy

Blindy. That is her name because that is what she is. Blind. She should be dead. If my husband and I were not such wimps we would have dispatched her to the hereafter when she first went blind. After all she just requires more attention and special care because of her disability. And, on a farm, or at least a proper farm, there is little room for the slow, infirm or disabled.  Especially a blind chicken!
The Amazing Blindy

 Ours is not the proper farm. In fact, I hate to, but must admit that I am probably the worst farmer on the earth. I am too tender hearted. But, back to blindy.  I don't remember how she ended up with our other chickens. Our flock is mixed...some "strays" a rescue or two and a couple of our own home grown. We noticed one day that she was having some problems seeing the food, etc and realized that she was going blind. Once we determined that it was not something that was going to infect or effect the whole chicken gang we thought we would just take a wait and see approach.  I was sure that she would be picked off by a hawk or wander off into the woods. None of that happened.

Blindy, free from the human tendency toward self-pity, has soldiered on. She began making her way along carefully feeling each step with her long toes and memorizing her paths. We found ourselves making sure that the water bowl outside the pen and the chicken "snack station" at the back porch was always in the same place so she could find it. Then we noticed that the other chickens were actually looking out for her and calling to her so she could keep up.  Early on there were the occasional slip-ups when she got turned around and headed in the wrong direction, got tangled in undergrowth or got out of ear shot of the others. But for the most part, when we went looking for her and called for her she would reorient and find her way back. The worst incident was when she wandered out with the cows.  Now cows are pretty tough, especially to little things that walk right toward them, and they were sort of playing soccer with her. Fortunately I saw the weird soccer game and rescued her.

That was year 1. We are now in year 3 since she went blind. I never expected that she would get along so well this long. She has weathered the weather...although she did need to be rescued from hurricane Sandy. She has continued to be a good egg layer, heading into her nesting box every day to leave us fine eggs. She free ranges with all the other chickens and while the foxes have taken a few of our Guineas, Blindy marches on. What a treat she has been, kind of a chicken inspiration to us. She likes to ride in the truck with Ed and is happy to be picked up and carried as long as you don't sneak up on her. She is a survivor.

So while I am a wimpy farmer, I am gaining from our animals,worlds of experience in just plain courage and resilience. They amaze and astound me on a daily basis. Blindy doesn't know that she is blind..or what blind is. I have no idea how long we will have Blindy...but I'm glad we have her amd all our animals today.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lessons From a Blind Chicken this is going to be about a blind chicken...the light colored one in the photo.  And no, it doesn't end badly.

Our chickens all have really really boring and descriptive names, Red, Sonny, Cher, (of course), Sneezy,Floppy, Beaky, Augie,Pretty and...Blindy. All of them came to us by accident. We never intended to raise chickens, but they selected us, so we were stuck.  Since then I have become quite attached to them and discovered that chickens are really quite personable and surprisingly smart.  And, they have a very complex social life...pecking order as it were...that very much mirrors that of humans... scarey.  Plus..they look silly when they run (also like some humans I know).

So...about a year and a half ago, we noticed that one of the hens was developing a cloudy color to her eyes and definitely going blind...but she was otherwise healthy and the other chickens showed no sign of illness, so we watched and waited. We thought we were going to have to "put her down", but she seemed to be adjusting and like any sightless being, orienting through sound and using her feet to feel carefully along. And better still, we noticed that the other chickens were looking after her and directing her. How neat was that.

Still we expected she would not make it through the winter...but she continued to surprise us. She thrived. When  it was icy or snowy, she simply stayed at the coop when the other chickens went out to scratch around.  And, while she occasionally went astray, if we called, "here chick chick" for a couple of minutes she would find her way to us.  She has learned the sound of our voices and sometimes just "coos" and waits to be picked up and carried to the coop.

Why some fox or hawk or other predator has not grabbed her while she is out and about in the daytime is a mystery to us. But she is now going into her second winter as a blind chicken and doing quite well navigating about and scratching around happily for whatever it is that chickens scratch up to eat, with her feathered friends.

 Our wonderful animals here continue to put me to shame with their resilience and optimistic approach to life. They are brave and smart and funny and never waste time feeling sorry for themselves  (well, at least they don't seem to) or trying to be what they are not.  Every day they teach me lessons about living a rich life. I am so honored to know Blindy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Rediscovering the Broom

A while back I was cleaning house at the B&B only to discover that I was out of vacuum cleaner bags. Now, this is a problem because the vacuum is ancient and bags can only be purchased on the Internet.

As I kicked the vacuum cleaner  into the closet, I happened to notice a broom and dustpan leaning against the back wall. Childhood memories rushed back to me...days when my mother actually swept the floor. Humm. It was an unpreposing broom, just the simple kind made with broomstraw and the dustpan was one of those copper colored things with dents and odd stains.

So just for laughs, I decided to see if the old broom had what it takes to clean up as well as the vacuum. And, much to my surprise it did and a whole lot more to boot.  First, I found that it was easy to use...much easier than wrestling the vacuum cleaner around and fighting with the cord and bumping into walls.  The broom was 100% portable and did just what I wanted it to do instead of having a mind of it's own.  Plus, it went places the vacuum cleaner would never reach..under radiators, behind the refrigerator, along the wood mouldings...even along the ceiling.

Than it was light weight..not hard on my back, or arms. It worked fabulously on rugs as I could turn it so that it fluffed up the rug and got out all sorts of crumbs, etc. If there was something stuck to the floor, the broom scratched it off. What an amazing invention.

Last but not least, it was insanely quiet. No whirring, no screeching. It made it's on little rhythmic noise, swish, swish, swish, tap tap. I could hear the radio while I worked. I could hear the phone ring. I could hear the birds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was easy exercise while I worked. And, it didn't make a lot of dust or belch out odd smells or hot air.

So I have gone green with my broom and dust pan. I am saving money on electricity and vacuum bags. I'm not sneezing and my cleaning stress level is down. I actually have time to think and problem solve while I am sweeping with MY BROOM.

Now all I need is one of those dust pans with the long handle so I don't have to bend down to scoop up the fruits of my labor!

Friday, August 5, 2011

I'm Positive..Maybe

Negativity is all around..It is coming at us from every direction. Bad things are happening. Extraordinarily bad things are happening.
Faced with all this input of dire predictions and bad news, I see two options:
A. Run around waving my hands over my head, shrieking in panic
B. Finding some logical way to cope with what may or may not be real.

As humans, we have one huge thing working against us..our brains, our imaginative brains, where we can conjure up huge anxieties, misunderstandings, dire anticipations and all sorts of creepy crawly scary scenarios.  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Is this some cruel joke of nature to give us this brain which can create works of art and brilliance as well as anger and misunderstanding?  OK..relax, I'm not going all philosophical.

I do think though, that we should give ourselves a break and try to calm down and realize that most of the information we get, we filter through our less than perfect brain and it never occurs to us that we can chose to see good as well as bad. Admittedly, being scared gives an adrenalin rush, but being happy and positive gives  a much better endorphine party.

The weather is hot...crops and animals are dying and people are really suffering. This is a truth. But it is also a fact of life on this planet that can be dealt with and overcome. It is not a signal of the end of the probably is a signal of global warming...also something that can be dealt with. It is difficult and uncomfortable and economically troubling...but again, it is survivable and can or might just end up in the long run, being a benefit if we chose to learn from it and cope.

Look at your dog, cat, goat, whatever. He lives in the moment. He doesn't torture himself with "what ifs". His only anxiety surfaces when he realizes he is on his way to the vet's office and that even disappears if another dog is there. Animals don't get up in the morning and say,"oh gosh, I hope I don't have a stroke and die today", or "It looks like it's going to rain today and my hair will be ruined and all that money I spent on a great haircut will be wasted and everyone will look at me and laugh at me and think I am ugly and then I won't get the job I need and I will STARVE AND DIE and no one will care or come to my funeral and my greedy relative will steal the inheritance that I wanted to save for my son, if I ever got married, which I never will because I'm ugly and no guy will ever want to marry me".

See what I mean here?

The world and life have always been tough. Really tough. There are no guarantees of happiness, wealth, success, long life, steady job, a roof over your head, the love of your life, fair weather everyday. Life isn't fair to anyone. It is full of crazies, war, nasty relatives, unfaithful friends and lovers, rain, wind snow, accidents and generally things that are nonsensical and unreasonable.

So experts tell us to destress and give all manner of destressing suggestions..few of which really work well if you are stressed, but instead intensify the stress because you feel guilty that you are unable to destress.  Instead, next time you find yourself holding your breath while watching FOX or any nightly news, or hear someone telling you the latest horrible news over your first cup of coffee, take a deep breath and ask yourself - is what you are hearing REAL or is it entertainment, is it something that you can do anything about or change in any way? If not, let it go. Just let it go. Then go and do something positive for someone or something else. Give your dog a pat, or a treat. Call your mom and listen patiently while she tells you it is the end of the world and then comfort her. Bake some cookies to take to work and just hand out for the heck of it. Do something creative...doodle, sing, cook. Extend yourself out into the world instead of retreating from the scary stuff. This doesn't require any bravery, just calmness when everyone else is panicking. 

Pretty soon you'll find out that all the scary stuff really is quite manageable. That being focused and calm gives you an incredible amount of strength and resilience to cope with all the gritty things in life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mr. Franklin's Journey

Mr. Franklin is driving me crazy.
No,not Ben Franklin....Mr. Franklin, the goat, our goat. One of our seven Pygoras.
Mr. Franklin has been having "issues" since January.
On New Year's Day, I went out to feed the gang and Frank was limping slightly on his right rear leg. OK..I'll watch it for a couple of days and see how he does.
Next day, no problem.
The day after...BIG problem. Frank could hardly walk.. Indeed he wobbles and yet his appetite is good. He can stand and lie down, but his hind end is "disconnected". He stands hunched up with his head pressed against the shed wall. He is miserable as am I.
Then begins the mysterious journey that all goat owners take at one time or other. It starts with eliminating all the possible causes...disease, no(although Ed suspects Lyme disease), poisoning, probably not, moldy hay or food reaction, not likely or he would be dead, injury, probably. Feel for broken bones, look for injured foot, no no. Then a dive into the goat owner's bag of tricks...probiotics,nutrition supplement, aspirin, electrolytes, benamine and watchful, watchful waiting. A kiss on the nose for Mr. Franklin at night, presuming he would not be with us the next morning...a kiss on the nose for Mr. Franklin in morning to celebrate his survival.
He has stopped coming to breakfast with the other goats and shuns all grain...but will eat a pretzel and apple and orange peels and hay.
Thus it day good, one day bad and Mr. Franklin looks so unhappy and he is losing weight because the other goats intimidate him and he is in pain, obviously and does not want to do anything but stick close to the hay bin.
April..shearing time and vet visit. Goody, the Vet will answer this mystery. Blood samples taken and the Vet pokes and peeks and says hmmmmmm. Blood tests come back...Frank is healthy. Hmmmmmm. And still he limps along. I am thinking dislocated hip at some point, from a fall or from being snagged by another's horns. Or maybe back injury.
Twice I have picked up the phone to call the Vet to euthanize Frank...only to see him rise up and take a brief stroll.
And then two days ago, Mr. Franklin trotted up to his breakfast bowl and waited expectantly for me to hand out some grain and sunflower seeds, just as if nothing ever happened. He was bright eyed and happy...a little unsteady on the fast turns, but he actually even joined the herd for a meadow snack excursion and cantered home with them! He is healed??!!!
Not! Yesterday he was immobilized again and had to spend the day "in bed". His buddy, Tillie spent the day with him and she nuzzled him now and then.
Today, he is up and walking, but limping and moving slowly. He was interested in breakfast, but had to have it brought to him and he is spending more time lying down than up and moving.
Did I mention that Mr. Franklin was driving me crazy?