Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Animal adventures

When you live in the country and have animals, there is always adventure. Maybe it's because we don't watch much TV and even fewer movies that we are so easily entertained, but I wouldn't have it any other way!

The raccoons have been as voracious as the birds and squirrels for the black oil sunflower seeds. I always check for coons after dark before letting the dogs out, because I don't want either species getting hurt. The other night I followed procedure, but it quickly became apparent from Jackson's barking and behavior that he'd treed something - under the deck! He was sniffing and scratching at the boards, so I ran down to the basement and turned on the light under the deck to see this:

Monday morning I let the dogs out and quickly realized that I need to start checking for coons in the AM, too. In the instant I realized the dogs had a coon trapped on the corner of the deck railing, Jackson jumped up and pulled it down to the deck as I barreled out the door yelling my head off. Fortunately Jackson is able to be called off (Dozer was a little slower to come, but did), and the coon was able to escape - hopefully without injury.

Then there are the cats. Tippy turned my heart inside out when he didn't show up at chore time Sunday night. But he was back Monday morning, so I sternly explained to him that he can't stay out late without calling. Recognizing that my tough talk was a merely a sign of my abject devotion, he purred back, "I love you, too; I do, I do."

Recently both cats followed me into the henhouse:
I think Tippy was just curious, but Oreo seemed to have an ulterior motive - more atypical dining:
Yes, she actually nibbled at the pumpkin in the chicken yard!

Another evening chore time, she showed a predilection for more carnivorous fare:
That is a very dead little bat on her feeding shelf. Worried that any bat she could catch must be sick at best and rabid at worst, I quickly disposed of it and we are watching her for any signs of illness.

This morning both cats jumped up on opposite ends of the sawhorse in the barn and sat down, facing each other. It was a cute photo op, but as I fumbled with my camera they started trash-talking, and Oreo had turned away by the time I got off one shot before my battery went dead:
Obviously, they aren't on friendly terms yet!

That's it for today from . . .

Monday, November 29, 2010

Another one!

Because I never stop thrilling to the message and music of this piece!


Sunday, November 28, 2010

To lift my spirits, and yours

Random Act of Praise
On Saturday, October 30, 2010, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers from 28 participating organizations to perform one of the Knight Foundation's "Random Acts of Culture" at Macy's in Center City Philadelphia. Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the OCP Chorus and throngs of singers from the community infiltrated the store as shoppers, and burst into a pop-up rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah" at 12 noon, to the delight of surprised shoppers.

This event was one of 1,000 "Random Acts of Culture" to be funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation over the next three years. The initiative transports the classical arts out of the concert halls and opera houses and into our communities to enrich our everyday lives. To learn more about this program and view more events, visit randomactsofculture.org. The Opera Company thanks Macy's and the Friends of the Wanamaker Organ (wanamakerorgan.com) for their partnership, as well as Organ Music Director Peter Conte and Fred Haas, accompanists; OCP Chorus Master Elizabeth Braden, conductor; and Sound Engineer James R. Stemke. For a complete list of participating choirs and more information, visit operaphila.org/RAC. This event was planned to coincide with the first day of National Opera Week.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Our Thanksgiving

Brian's new-pajamas-to-be (Grandma is teaching him how to sew during her visit):

A Thanksgiving tradition:
(Yes, I shot my favorite .22, too, but even better, I got to take Russell out for a ride!)

Our Thanksgiving centerpiece:

Our menu, for those who are curious what vegetarians (like us and thecrazysheeplady) eat:
"Chicken" rice casserole
Homemade whole grain crescent rolls
Roasted Brussels sprouts (ala Crazy Aunt Purl):
Smashed sweet potatoes and yams with toasted sesame oil
Cranberry salad
Fresh veggies and olives from our centerpiece
Low-fat cheesecake topped with raspberry puree

We ate well, and I don't think I heard one single artery snap shut in the process. And the best part is there is plenty of leftovers for lunch today!

We had a lovely day together - until evening chore time. I opened the gate for the ewes, and out came four. Inky is often slow to bring up the rear, so I walked behind the others towards the fold - when they all veered off towards the Ram-ada Inn and the arena gate. It took some time and Rick's help to finally get them herded into the fold for the night - but Inky still hadn't shown up. I was sure I had heard her bleat from the pasture when I first opened the gate, so I took the flashlight and searched for her, hoping she was just caught by a branch and not down and unable to get up. Just that morning I had put a bigger coat on her, and she was unusually lovey. She is always calm and tame, but she has never shown any desire for scratches or rubs. But that morning she had stood for a long time, wagging her tail occasionally, while I rubbed around her ears. I thought of that as I searched in vain, and then started to panic as it became clear she wasn't there. Rick came out and searched again, to no avail. He muttered something about the only thing big enough to remove her from the little wooded lot without a mess is a big cat - and that added worry about the future of my remaining sheep to the twist in my gut over my missing one. I checked the arena, just in case she had wandered after the others and got left behind; nothing. I had already put the boys in the Ram-ada Inn for the night, but decided to walk through their pasture, just in case. And there, batting her black lashes through the gate at Blake, was Inky! I have no idea how she pulled off that sleight of hand, but my heart flooded with relief even as exasperation rose over the emotional rollercoaster she put me through - all because of hormones!

"Just who are you calling an "unhappy hussy"???

That's it for now from . . .

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I am having so much fun stalking birds with Mr. Lumix' zoom capabilities! Of course, I take hundreds of photos to get a few worth sharing, but that's the lot of every photographer. I'm usually shooting through double-paned windows, too, which isn't great for optimum clarity. But I wouldn't stand a snowball's chance in you-know-where of capturing some of the more skittish varieties (like jays) without hiding behind a wall and sneaking just my camera out far enough to "see" the birds on our deck, feeder, or the cherry tree outside our bedroom window. I took the following yesterday, when we were still getting occasional snow flurries:

Rufous-sided towhees are usually ground feeders, but the snow is making them seek out the feeder on the deck railing. (And no, it doesn't have a big white spot on its throat; that's a rude little snowflake marring an otherwise sharp photo!)

Can you tell a young boy lives here?

This afternoon when I let Jackson out, he set up a ruckus along the fenceline beside our house. Brian was out playing in the snow and went to investigate, and alerted us all to the cause of Jackson's consternation:
This is the first time we've seen a porcupine around here. I was very thankful it was on the OTHER side of the fence! I hope this finds each of you counting your blessings as well.

Happy Thanksgiving from . . .

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The day dawns...

...cold! Brian whooped with delight when he awoke to snow, and promptly bundled up to go out and play. I bundled up to do chores, regretting my lack of foresight in draining the hose. (I WAS glad we put a heat bulb over the young pullets last night!) Since the roads could be dicey and Rick's truck has traction tires, he and Brian are headed to the airport to pick up his mother. According to the Portland station's meteorologist, the last time it snowed in November here was 2003; my MIL will NOT be impressed. I'm off to do some cleaning and cooking and plying while I have the house to myself.

Enjoying some delicious solitude at . . .

Monday, November 22, 2010

Satisfying progress

A four-ounce skein of two-ply alpaca.

A cabled Christmas hat. (Both of the above still need baths.)

Coming right along; another Christmas keyhole scarf. Had several skeins of this yarn in my stash, and it's the perfect color for both my nieces (sisters of the above hat's intended).

Speaking of knitting, my boy surprised me Sabbath morning by wearing the sweater I knit for him two years ago. (It was big then.) It did my heart good. :-)

Sunday I put up my last batch of applesauce, with enough apples left over for some holiday baking. I think that makes 62 quarts of applesauce total, and 9-10 pints of apple butter.

While I worked inside yesterday, Rick and Brian worked outside. The henhouse got cleaned, wall-to-wall rubber stall mats installed, and fresh shavings added. The stall mats should be easy to clean (the vinyl flooring didn't last) and make the floor stronger and better insulated. They also worked cleaning up leaves and cleaning out gutters, and Rick added some supports to our barn roof. A couple years ago when we got hit with an unusual amount of snow, Rick spent almost five hours shoveling off the older side to prevent collapse. A lot of barns and arenas in the area were heavily damaged by the snow load.

I planned to get in a ride on Russell yesterday, but we got rained out. It's still raining today, a very cold rain - just a few degrees shy of snowing. (My MIL, who arrives tomorrow from Phoenix, will be thrilled - not.) Inside, the wood fire keeps things comfortable, and the dogs mellow:

Outside, the feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds is very popular!

That's it for today from . . .

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shall we go for a walk today?

Yes! It was cold but mostly clear, so this afternoon we headed out as a family - Brian on his bike and Rick and I on foot. I don't think Rick has ever walked at my pace before; exercising every day is helping him! We went over three miles up and down the hill, enjoying the beautiful views and crisp air. Mr. Lumix and I captured some worthy images to share with you, I think. :-)

Before we left, I noticed a deer bedded down in our lower pasture. I decided to see how close Mr. Lumix could pull her in.
This is on full zoom, and I cropped the photo as well. It isn't high-rez, but still pretty clear. What a great little camera!

That's it for today from . . .

Friday, November 19, 2010


Fresh pumpkin -

and cornbread!

Oreo is a weird cat; she definitely has a taste for grains. If I set a pan of sheep grain or a can of chicken feed down when she's around, she'll put a serious dent in the vegetarians' foodstuffs. This morning I tossed some stale cornbread to the chickens and put the pan on the sheep stand in the barn while I did chores. Next thing I know, she was licking up the crumbs.

We wormed Tippy a couple nights ago, so I'm hoping that will help him bulk up for winter. It feels like winter instead of fall now, and Tippy shows a decided preference for the heated tack room most of the time.

That's it for today from . . .

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More relationships

My entertainment this evening was watching this (and more):
It was great! Man's best friends. :-)

That's it for today from . . .