First, I apologize that this post is a day late. Work came out of the woodwork yesterday, chores and tasks falling over each other, all needing to be completed NOW.
I intended for my new chicks to arrive a few weeks ago, but their delivery date coincided with Oak Creek making its foray onto my property. Fortunately for me, I heeded the warning of the USGS and put off delivery until "sometime in early March." "Sometime" turned out to be Friday.
It started with posts on Facebook. Folks from my local area were sharing maps of the predicted storm. It looked like a lot of snow was going to come down in a very short period of time.
Most of the time I love living next to Oak Creek. The water tumbles merrily in the cool shade of the tall trees as the otters hunt for crayfish.
Before I get to the dog part of this story, I thought I'd update you all on my newly completed brooder coop. At last, after sorting through all the many bits and pieces of this and that cluttering my barn, buying as little as possible and when necessary from Restore, the coop is done and the barn is clean.
If you remember, oh plucky reader, the last time I got chicks--the Brahmas--was two Januarys ago. For their first two weeks they lived in an old cast iron tub that had dirt in the bottom and was covered with several hardware cloth-filled frames to prevent cat intrusion. This worked really well. Not only did the cast iron tub have round corners, thus preventing chick death from all of them trying to squish into a square corner (a strange chick behavior), but the heat lamps warmed the cast iron which radiated even more heat back at the chicks. However, with thirty chicks they very quickly outgrew that small space and I soon moved them outside the barn into a thrown together pallet-and-baling-twine built coop inside a chicken run.
OK, be kind, dear relatives from Duluth. I know you sneer each time I mention it, but I have snow!
The conversion of Lonely Girl from pig to sheep is now complete, at least in her mind and much to Tiny's complete aggravation. That aggravation is complicated not just by Tiny's certainty that Lonely Girl isn't a sheep, but because the pig (She-ig? P-eep?) treats her the way Lonely Girl and her porcine sisters treated June the Cow.
It's that time of year and four out of my five piggies are now gone.
"Really?!" I said, my head tilted up to the gorgeous blue sky on Thursday morning. I was limping again, having tweaked a tendon even though I don't recall stepping wrong.
Sigh. There's no calf yet, at least not outside of June's body. All the signs are there. Her tail's loose as are the muscles around the birth canal. Her pin bones are low, her bag is filling up, and every day there are gooey strands wrapped around her tail. That cow! I swear she's doing this on purpose.
For those who don't know the story, there was once a beautiful and talented weaver in ancient Greece named Arachne. She was so talented that the goddess Athena, also a weaver, challenged her to a weave-off.
The other day I sadly swept a small, dead, completely desiccated toad out of my basement. I love my toads. I love them despite the fact they make the weirdest sound of all the creatures on the farm.
That cow! Remind me the next time I decide to buy a cow that I need to ask if she was raised by other cows or raised by humans. I definitely prefer cow-raised cows.
Our Monsoon season opened with a storm so powerful that it sent a flash flood right through my property.
It's official. I'm not selling the farm. What makes my decision official? I bought piglets.
Over the past eight years (and this month it's officially eight years that I've been a co-owner of this property), I've only once seen a beaver. That was about five years ago in July, no less. I was standing on the porch when all of sudden Moosie, then just a pup, went racing down to the Mason ditch. I watched as he walked along the ditch bank his attention on something in the water.
It's only been a few years since I last had dairy cows on the property, but in that short time I completely forgot how awful the flies are. However, before I get into discussing the pestilence of flies, I need to get you caught up on general cow news.
And how am I certain that summer has arrived? Because on Friday the temperature got over 100 degrees while Saturday brought us a lovely all-day rainstorm. It was overcast, drizzly, and cool, and I had all the windows open. Welcome to summer in Northern Arizona.
You know how some people are shoe fanatics, or have shelves full of bobble-heads, or collect those theme plates? Well, I've decided I'm an animal-aholic. It's for this reason that I stay away from the "Farm and Garden" section of Craigslist.
I wasn't a helicopter parent with my kids, and I'm not a helicopter farmer when it comes to my animals.
I was surprised by lambs again this past week. That's not to say I didn't expect to have lambs toward the end of this month. It's that I didn't expect those lambs to come from Mari.
What a change. January brought days in the 80s but now that it's late February we're enjoying a stretch of cold, wet weather. Today, the wind is howling, the sky is heavy with thick dark clouds, and it smells like snow.
Nothing really funny has happened on the farm since the pigs became pork. This is very frustrating for me. I mean, the high point of my day has been walking out during my breaks and observing the hi-jinks that always seemed to occur while I'm outside. Sigh.
That's what happened on the farm yesterday morning. Creatures were moving at the speed of "lickety-split". Let me step back and set the scene for you.
Okay, they weren't precisely a surprise. I could see that Tiny was pregnant. But as of yesterday she didn't look nearly as tubby as she'd looked with her first lambs, so I figured there was another month to go.
Only one chapter left! Well, one chapter--the hardest one, of course--and an epilogue. But I don't count epilogues because they're more postscript than chapter. I just read through the book again to check for any loose ends that I haven't pulled through. As I did I thought of all my knitter friends. Miss a stitch and the whole thing is off. So, because my mind is still stuck in 1211 AD, this is going to be a quick post.
For anyone uncomfortable with the idea of animals being slaughtered for meat, you may want to skip this post. I promise there will be nothing graphic, just a difficult description and a little sadness.
She did it.
Once again I choose a title that doesn't reflect the total lack of lambs in my life. OMG! She's driving me crazy! Now that I've vented, I'll tell the story the way I think it should be told.
First, before I launch into the tale of "Pigs in Heat, Episode 2", I don't know about anyone else up here but I'm swimming in a sea of mud.
My dogs are about to be famous. Okay, probably not famous-famous, but more famous than they are now. In the next few days their first book will be published. That's right. The illustrator is finished and my seventeenth book is on its way to publication.
After almost six years living smack-dab in the middle of this predator superhighway, I've figured out the cycle. On normal nights, the hunters come out just after full dark and hunt until around 2 AM, when most of the nightwalking critters settle into their burrows or nests. The predators then return to give it one more shot just before dawn when the daywalkers begin to stir.
I want to ball up my fists and shout “Down with Management!” or “Unfair working conditions!” Unfortunately I work for myself, and as my own manager I’m not giving myself a break. The sensible half of me insists that I stick to the computer and finish the few remaining projects that stand between me and beginning my next two books. But the not-so-sensible part of me is bewitched by these gorgeous Autumn days.
I haven’t left the farm for “time off” since July 2015. Prior to that excursion, I think I’d only been on vacation once since I moved onto the property in 2010.