Saturday, October 31, 2009

Never a dull moment...

I awoke early this Halloween morning to our livestock guardian dog barking her fool head off. Not a serious, there's-a-cougar-in-the-field! bark, just a there's-something-out-here-that-shouldn't-be-and-it-won't-go-away bark. Finally, I got up, grabbed a flashlight, and went out to investigate. I didn't need the flashlight. Shirley Puppy (who is four and not a puppy) was barking from the lambing shed. I switched on the light and saw a very small opossum backed into a corner, behind a stock panel, mouth wide open and growling, with Shirley looming over the little thing, but unable to get through the stock panel. When I went out a bit later with the camera, the opossum had managed to work its way along the wall and out of the stock panel area under the sheep feeder. Shirley was still unwilling to put her nose at risk to those teeth under the feeder. Finally, Johnny locked Shirley out of the area and managed to shoo the little thing along the wall until it was able to escape. Through all this, the sheep and llamas were standing out in the rain, unwilling to come into shelter when something apparently dangerous was in their living space. Ah, the tranquillity of farm life...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A beginning...

A cold, rainy day in Autumn, a messy house begging to be cleaned up, and dinner to be cooked have all conspired to make me start a blog. All the writers' newsletters say writers should have blogs. I'm a writer, ergo, I should have a blog. Right? Now... what to say... well, I write about goats for a goat paper... horses for a horse magazine that seems to have folded... and, for fifteen years, I wrote about life in general for a local newspaper. My column was called "Homespun Humor". I used to spin the wool from my own sheep and llamas. Sometimes, but rarely, I still do. Mostly now I garden, tend goats/sheep/llamas/chickens/turkeys and, especially, horses. I have three books in print, all collections of columns I wrote in either "Homespun Humor" or "The Kidding Pen" (the goat paper).

Horses have always been part of my life, but took a back seat while I was raising children. Now they're back in front. I take jumping lessons, trail ride, sometimes drive my Morgan gelding to a cart or have him pull logs out of the woods for firewood. I work at becoming a better rider through dressage, but it's a slow process for this old gal.

Plants are another love. Trees in particular. I began planting an arboretum back in 1998. The ponderosa pines I planted that winter are tall and lovely now. As are the sequoias I planted not long after. Then I had the brainwave to create various regions of the world with their indigenous trees. Johnny made signposts for the appropriate areas: "Japan", "China", "Australia", "Western North America", and so on. The signposts rotted away, but the trees, at least in some areas, remain. China is struggling but Australia is doing fine.

I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the botanical garden style tree markers I just ordered. Then my Fraser Fir, Abies fraseri, will be proudly marked for all to see. Along with 19 others. I have many more than 20 different species, but I'm only marking the ones that have stood the test of time and look like arboretum specimens, not nursery rejects (as some, in fact, are.)

Benches are strategically placed for birdwatching here and there throughout the two acre arboretum. For birdwatching is yet another of my passions. I have seen and identified over 135 species on our 45 acre farm. This is mainly where I birdwatch. But I also monitor Black Oystercatchers for a USGS study on the Oregon coast, survey wintering raptors in the Grand Ronde/Willamina areas, participate in the nearest Christmas Bird Count, Breeding Bird Survey route and North American Migration Counts. I love citizen science.

Okay, I really do need to cook supper. More drivel the next time it's raining and I don't want to work.