Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers' Day 2013~

It's time to take note of the things that go on in our micro-climate regarding our garden...  Some "notes to self" if you will.  I just need a place to keep this info...

We planted swiss chard in February.  It took awhile, but it's really strong and healthy now.  We planted beets a few weeks back...we only got partial germination...that's ok.  It will stagger this way.  The early lettuce (I think it's a deer tongue variety) held on until this week.  It shot up like a weed within the past 7 days.  Darn.  We'll see how it tastes.  The snow peas got one good setting of peas, now the weather is changing to hotter than they like, and they're trying to push out one last burst...I'm not sure it's worth waiting, unless there are a lot of plants...more than 12.  The garlic bulbs we put in last year have tall, onion like stalks...Interesting.  The tips of the leaves are starting to die back.  Hmm. Hmm. Hmmm.  The lemon balm is OUT of CONTROL!!!  LOL!!  I should put up the starts and give them as gifts!  There are little lemon balm plants popping up all over that bed.  *sigh*

Blueberries!!  We bought 2 plants this year, according to Farmer Fred's recommendations... An O'Neill and an.....don't remember!!  Regardless, the O'Neal  (if I spell it enough different ways, one will be right!) fruit is ripening!!  We ate our first 2 blueberries last night (ripe if they fall into your hand), and there are 2 more coming.

Farmer Fred is talking about bolting cilantro...LOL!  We have one in full flower.  We were looking at the beneficial insects in the plant just a couple hours ago.  He's recommending to let it stay to get beneficial insects into the garden. 

Bruce put sunflowers along the front fence...and is sprouting melons along the inner fence shared with the front yard.  All of those plants are up and going.  We don't have many tomatoes yet...I'm going to be buying fruit again this year.  Cucumbers too if things don't get better quickly. The weather is really doing great this year.  We needed more rain. I'm glad we use raised beds.  We can water a lot more effectively.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Spring Things...

We had to spend the last week of March at UCSF...bless those who cared for our creatures, and the Animal Angels too.  It took them ALL to contain this wild bunch. Jasmine stayed with friends because I was just too worried about her.  She's never met a stranger.  What was supposed to be 4 days turned into 7, with all heck breaking loose about day 5. Although we lost 2 laying hens and 2 roosters, somehow Mama Hen (she's one serious bad-ass!) and her 2 babies survived.  Somehow, a litter of kittens hatched in the hen house too...the renegade Siamese mama.  She won't have her kittens too far away, but not too close-in either.  Blanca didn't wait for us to get home either; she had her babies in the hay. 

Last weekend, we drove to Reno, NV and reunited Luci-dog with her mama. This week, it snowed up there.  Go figure.  Such is Spring in the North State (CA).  Now, it's back up into the 80's and will hit the 90's mid-week.  I laugh at people who call the quiet rains of late February and March "winter."  That is our Spring.  There are a few weeks of coolish weather with some rain and fog...then some big wind, and the next thing you know, it feels like summer.  Personally, I'm hoping for a good stretch of 70's-80's before we jump into the 90+ temps.  I'm not a heat-lover.  I'm too moderate!

Today was a good day for shedding horses.  We're really dragging shedding out a long time this year.  Both girls still have fuzzy spots that haven't given up yet.  A few days of 80°+ and that will end.  The ladies decided they needed an early morning romp...  Bruce didn't get the gate latched well enough last night and they went into the neighbor's 4+ acre fenced lot.  As we were heading up to catch them, a Horse Angel stopped and gave us a hand.  She parked in the driveway to keep the horses from running out into the street, and walked up the drive with us to be a 3rd catcher.  What a sweetheart!  Regardless of their early morning escapade, I still wanted to get them well-curried before a new week took over.  Somehow, I'm always down-wind and get a nose-full of dust and horse hair.  Shasta is a brat.  She is very food motivated.  We were able to catch her first...cookies....cookies...  No one gets cookies during grooming...and grooming is at full liberty.  Shasta couldn't stand that Willow was getting all the attention AND there were no cookies coming her way.  No one got cookies until I was completely finished, and packed up.  Then we had cookies. *Ü*  I know..."Mean Mama," right?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Meet Luci...Our Foster-pup!

A little more than a week ago, I stumbled across an adult dog whose Mama was looking for a home for her. I would love to provide "foster care" for critters, but...we weren't so sure that was for us. Something about this girl and her situation tugged at my heart...A few PMs and emails later, we were scheduling transport of "terrier" Luci.

It takes a few days for everyone to get to know everyone else, but the first night was a great indicator that things were going to be just fine.  We had the typical lip curls, growls, a few teeth-gnashings, and many more introductions than you see here!  She sniffed at the back of Shasta's leg, and made tracks in a big hurry when that hoof came up off the ground!

For the most part, she got along with everyone...not everyone was ready to accept her though...  Jasmine isn't quite as gentle with the kitties as Luci is.  Luci approaches them slowly and cautiously...waits for acceptance, and doesn't quite understand if they growl at her!  A week has made a lot of difference in that category! Most of the kitties have become friendly with her in that week, and she and Jasmine have just about worked out all the kinks about who's Alpha...they're sharing. And they actually do share.  They both want the same place in the bed at night...Jasmine gets it to start with, and if she gives it up, it's fair game.  They both get to sleep on the bed.  They both get treats.  They both get to pre-wash plates. It keeps them content.

After considerable research, I've determined Luci is predominately General Schnauzer...making her the in-between size.  Not a small dog, but not a moose either.  She's about 17 inches at the shoulder...her nose just clears the top of the coffee table, which brings up some minor house-manners issues.  She's responding well to the reminders, she doesn't like the "Mama" tone.  We also discovered she had developed a bit of "follicular dermatitis" which is so common it's expected in Schnauzers.  It's so easy to treat, we've knocked that down already.  Schnauzers are so susceptible to this ailment that it could have been triggered by something as simple as change in her diet, or the hay in the back of the car on the trip home, or even the change from outside kennel to in and out.  Like I said, it was quickly solved.  Now, we're working on mats.  She loves that so much I only torture her for short periods.  Poor honey!  She'll be visiting a groomer soon (as soon as I get past pay-day!) for a Schnauzer cut...left a bit long for winter comfort...although she pants so much, she might be okay without all the extra!  We can always put a toddler sweater on her!
We only had one worrisome episode...she chases the chickens...and came away with a mouthful of Mama Banty hen's feathers.  Everyone is okay.  I think it's because they ran.  She was trying to meet the rooster the other night, and gave chase when he ran.  He went over the fence, but Mama Banty still has Peep with her.  She'd die before letting anything get to Peep.  Obviously, this will require a bit of work.  Since Luci wasn't overly concerned about the chickens once they were in their pen and not running from her, I think this is a reasonable expectation.  Time to work with baby chicks and a water pistol. It's a great passive training tool!  We need to increase and replace some of our flock this year regardless.  I'll be interested in Buff Orpingtons (have rooster...), Marans (love the BIG dark brown eggs!), and some banties. I think having babies in the house will give Luci a chance to learn about them from start to pen.  After that, she'll be fine.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I should come here more often to remember our critter antics... And we have NO shortage thereof!!

2012 started out rather dry... In a normal year, this paddock would be pretty muddy, but not this year. It was chilly though, and the girls gave us frequent shows of simply being spirited happy horses.

By the time the South Paddock got mucky, the North Paddock was full of lush oat grass.  We were able to move the girls for the few weeks their usual paddock needed to dry out some.
With Spring, comes birth and rebirth...  This is our banty-mama...She set quite a clutch of eggs, but we sure learned something about birthing places... There needs to be just a little human intervention for everything to work out well.  Of the 3 chicks we actually raised, we have but one left...the young rooster.  This is a tough place for chickens if they don't follow the rules.  Rule #1 - Pay attention to your rooster and do as he tells you.  Rule #2 - Go to bed at night in the warm, safe place provided.  If you stay out on your own, we can't help you much.

Another interesting thing you can do in the Spring, precisely on the Vernal Equinox date, is stand uncooked eggs on end.  These are standard "store bought" eggs... Hey, in the winter, even the best of us sometimes have to resort to purchasing eggs... *sigh*  I found they needed a towel to keep them steady, but they balanced there just fine!

Let us not forget naps in the sun...  After a bit of Spring rain, there's nothing like a sunny window for a nap...

Unless, it's a sunny paddock...Or a warm spot by a lamp...

Late Spring brought an unexpected guest... A bull from the neighboring pasture jumped the fence...and hung out with us a couple days.  We were able to find his rancher and get him safely home.  He left us the gift of MANY flies.  The horses draw plenty, but this big fella brought plenty more with him!

 Girls will be girls, and sometimes you just have to be the middle, girl.  They've never hurt us while doing this...and they love to love us at the same time.  That's not to say I don't maintain an awareness of being the filling in a 1-ton sandwich!!  Silly girlies!

We would be ever so remiss if we neglected to mention the flowers... We did get to see a few before Shasta "tasted" them.  She didn't care for them.

This is  Tortie. She now has two half sisters who look very much like her, and are called Yin and Yang.  Their sister and brother are called Salt and Pepper.  Pepper is the only boy, and he's black.  Salt is Siamese.

Summer brings gardening...and more horsey help than I want to discuss this year.  Shasta dearly loves to invade the garden.  Somewhere, there's a picture of her helping us "weed" the garden... Oh, she's a minx!  Due to her curiosity, we ended up buying more of our veggies than we should have...but there's always next year!  We were able to get some really nice produce at our Farmers' Market.  I had run out of dill pickles...can't have that!! So we primarily canned pickles and tomatoes this year.

We were also able to score a 35 pound box of Roma tomatoes for a really great price!  It felt rather like the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, but we got 'em done!!

With the arrival of Autumn (which arrives while it's still decidedly warm here-especially this year!), we discovered we had "company" coming in for supper...

We've counted up to 7...  I know they're a nuisance, but they're so darn cute!  They aren't causing us any trouble, not really.  They'll clean out a kitty dish in no time, but they leave the chickens alone (as long as the chickens abide by said rules above).  Besides, they aren't the only wild "friend" we have coming in...  Oh, Lord help us, there's the cutest lil skunk that comes in... We think it's a female...not that we've really seen a lot of the "working" end of the skunk.... Jasmine, however, has.  At least twice she's taken a shot to the chest and shoulder.  The first time, she got into the house before I could stop her...and I locked her in the bathroom.  HUGE mistake.  Do not follow that example!!  The second time, she met "Flower" on the laundry porch and we bustled her out to the front yard with infinite haste!  Bruce has seen "Flower" on the laundry porch two different times, and I've found her out in the back.  She's apparently right friendly with the kitties...they don't mind her at all.  They were playing at Bruce's feet this morning.  He said it took great restraint to keep from reaching down to pet the "kitty" with all the others.  I think I'm glad he restrained himself!

Sadly, it was time to bid our big boy farewell and give him his wings.  Braveheart was born here some 15 years ago.  He was the timid pup of his litter.  We anticipated he'd come out of his shell as his litter-mates went to their new homes, but he never did.  It was years before he would let us touch him.  We never knew what made him different, but it was obvious, this was the only place he could ever live.  He caused us grief through the years because he wouldn't tolerate a cat in his space.  Eventually he grew out of that, just like he finally overcame his fear of us.  He never got "snuggly" with us, but he did get to the point where we could pat him occasionally or remove an errant tuft of blown coat.  When Qannik and Jasmine came along, he came out of his shell and would actually try to play with us some.  Farewell Big Boy... Who's a big dog??  I miss you.  "Dad" misses you.  Qannik misses you terribly, still.  Rest peacefully... We'll see you later...
We are in search of another dog.  Ideally, and LGD.  I am shy about Anatolians...I'm afraid Bruce isn't assertive enough.  Although, Qannik is so lonesome, I'd consider a lot of other options while we wait for the LGD.

Somewhat untimely, but our mama banty decided to set another clutch of eggs in the Fall.  Who told her she could do that?  Even more inconvenient was that she stayed with a whole clutch of eggs but only until hers hatched!  We're still waiting to find out if "Peep" is a pullet or baby roo...  It's sure growing fast though!  Mama is THE mama too!  She runs the roosters off, the cats off...I feel privileged that she tolerates me!

We can't let a year go by without a picture of Princess Jasmine!  Although, after the 2nd skunking, she wasn't treated too royally!!  Dawn dish-washing liquid mixed with baking soda (a little Dawn, a lot of baking soda) so that it's crumbly...rub into dogs fur and spray on hydrogen peroxide.  It's strong and it works.  I learned more than I ever wanted to about skunk spray this year.  Baking soda alone will neutralize it if there's a way to pour on enough.  My laundry porch has been twice "blessed" and we've knocked it down.  The carpet... Jasmine rolled on the carpet when she came in the first time...I didn't know she was coming in or that she'd been skunked...I suspected though!  I opened a BIG box of baking soda and poured in on thick and rubbed it in.  It helped that the bathroom was overpowering for two weeks...but the carpet wasn't noticeable at all.  It was bad....

The first real rain of the season decided to wait until right at the first of  December, and did we ever get rain.  We must be in an "El Nino" year where we get warm tropical storms rather than Arctic blasts.  We had almost 10 inches of rain in 4 days.  The South Paddock is fetlock (ankle) deep in mud, so we moved the girls into the front yard.  Shasta, ever the helper, decided the roses needed pruning.

We once heard or read that if your roses still had leaves in December, it was time to get the leaves off the bush, one way or another.  Shasta did her best.

The storm blows out for a few days...
And a surviving rose blossom reaches for the sun.
That's pretty much a retrospective of 2012 here at Rancho Roseberry.  Everyone here wishes you a Merry Christmas or Happy other Holiday that you hold as special this time of year.  We may not have it all here, but we have it pretty good!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chick, chick, chicks!!

We've had two bantam hens sitting on eggs.  A couple weeks back I discovered we had viable eggs QUITE by unhappy mistake.  I took the rest of the eggs back to the nest.  Another batch came in from another nest where I knew the other hen was setting.  They went back to the hen house too.  About a week ago, we realized we had two little yellow fuzzy balls running around with one of the tiny black hens...two rather large fuzzy balls...omgosh! She hatched the Buff Orpington eggs!!  The little gal above was still setting on her clutch.  A couple days ago, this is what I found when I went out to check...there are 4 tiny chicks in the photo, but there were a total of 6 little bantam babies (we have two roosters and they don't interfere with each others' hens) beneath her!

Yesterday, one of the white eggs hatched, and we now have a tiny yellow chick in with the colorful ones.  We're doing our level best to let Mothers and Mother Nature handle the situation, but we're prepared to intervene if we have problems. 

There is some mystery to this whole thing...  We had two little Buff chicks...then we only had one...that I could find.  The next day, there were 2 again...then there was one...  Now there are 2 acting not as old nor as strong as the other chick.  Mama tends to leave the littler one behind we "help" it get where it needs to be to stay in the hen house with Mama!  I didn't find any newly broken shells in the hen house, so I'm not sure where this new face came from!  I'm sure it's a Buff baby...and it looks much younger than the other chick...and I wish I'd marked eggs way back when I took them back to their nest!!  Note to time...mark and date them!!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spring, sloppy, wet, Spring...

The south paddock got too soppy, so we had to move the girls to the north paddock...chest deep in wheat and barley grasses... Yeah. They hated that. The north paddock isn't great for 2 horses, was better than where they were at the time. A few weeks later, it's so sloggy wet up there, I'm sure they both have a bit of thrush setting in.

Shasta has been a problem...she is such a playful, inquisitive creature! She finds her way out of the paddocks if it's at all possible and she's bored. 3 escape episodes later...we got them out of there. They spent the majority of today being passive lawn maintenance...a little trimming, a little fertilizing... I wasn't comfortable leaving them there for the night though. Shasta didn't appreciate Jasmine running through, and struck out at her with a foreleg. I don't think it meant much other than Shasta wasn't comfortable with her surroundings yet, and there was boundless-energy Jasmine...bouncing right in front of her. Silly dog. She grabbed a healthy dose of respect in a hurry though!

A little grooming... A little attention... A little wormer... I can't say that went totally smoothly. I dipped both applicators in molasses, and Shasta took hers fairly well. No big fuss. Willow? Yeah. Right. The last time we did this, it was a bit of a battle, but we got it in her. This time, I thought the molasses would help...and it almost did. She felt that applicator in her mouth and threw her head right up! Okay, she also got as close to bringing her front feet off the ground as she could without doing so... So much for doing things the easy way. I ended up putting a rope on her and over her nose...and still it was a battle. Bruce stepped in to help, and she lifted us both up. Oi. Then...Bruce was tickling her lip and she acted like she had a twitch on her that wormer went, quick as lightning! Can you say TEAMWORK! *Ü*

The girls are back in the south paddock for tonight. If the weather holds, I'll move them back to the front yard when we get back from Chico. They knocked it down a lot, but they aren't anywhere near finished in there. It will also give their usual paddock a chance to keep catching up and growing.

One thing we both noticed today was the ease involved with catching, haltering and having the horses on lead. They both remember their manners and Willow is really getting much better about being pushy on lead. They both behave much better in Parelli halters than in standard woven halters. After we got them back in the south paddock, I played with them for awhile...rope on, rope off. Caught you....caught you not... I really want this flight thing to die down in Shasta. She's getting better but she's still so nervous about so many things. She had a cute way of telling me she was finished having her mane combed out...she ran off and tossed her head! Silly girls...gotta love them!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Changes with the Winter Solstice

Mornings with two mustang mares can get a little...crowded. Willow still has her nose a little out of place with Shasta's arrival, but that's just for our benefit. She gets along perfectly well with Shasta...she just wants me to suffer a bit longer for dividing my attention.

As the temperatures swing from high to low, and the wind picks up, our girls get a little...energetic. On this particular windy morning, we were treated to QUITE the show! Shasta was in the mood to stretch it out and play Cow Pony...Willow just tried to stay out of her way, and out of her much as Shasta permitted!

Shasta would run circles around the paddock...coming to skidding stops wherever it suited her, then kicking up her heels and romping the entire circuit...even if it meant chasing Willow out of her "comfort" zone!

It's quite a kick to see the horses out there, just being horses...playing and having a good time! Bruce was photographing them...mostly from the porch. Once you step into their space, it's TREAT time...or so they think!

I swear...she must've run for a good 5 minutes, with all kinds of cute little Cow Pony moves...stop on a dime, spin around, launch into a full run from a dead stop, skidding around tight corners, or just running full tilt to feel the wind in her face!

Is that not a smiling horse?

Even Willow was feeling a tad spunky! She did her share of moving out too, but she prefers a trot to a full out run. I'm just as glad...she's a lot more horse to try to stop on a dime! She also keeps her feet mostly on the ground...unlike a little buckskin girlie we know...