Friday, December 16, 2005

Teenage chickens

Anyone who's kept chickens knows there's a hierarchy in the henhouse. It's where the term 'pecking order' likely originated. These five young Wyandotte pullets are at the bottom of the pecking order, so they tend to gather on high perches where they can quietly gossip and peer wistfully out at the world they're not yet allowed to wander without escort. Left loose, they're likely to get into all sorts of trouble.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The evidence

Posted by Picasa After studying the clues, I've determined that the poor, innocent puppy was lured onto the treacherous, snow dusted swimming pool ice by Callie, the conniving calico cat. The cat exited through the railing on the far side of the pool. The puppy, however, has been eating well and no longer fits through such narrow gaps.

Fortunately for the puppy, aka Bebe, it's been wickedly cold this week. The ice didn't crack. Cat chasing, however, must have been a challenge. So was the big leap from the ice back onto the deck.

A side note: we're trying out a new type of pool cover this winter. We opted for a mesh-type that would act as a strainer and allow the rainwater to filter through but catch the leaves. (Always an issue when surrounded by oaks that seem reluctant to part with their leaves in a timely manner.) Theoretically, this new cover should make spring pool cleanup a bit easier. Those light streaks in the cover are supposed to be reflective strips that melt snow and ice. Hope the spring cleanup theory proves more effective than the melting theory.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Don't forget the flashlight

I got sidetracked with a project and didn't get out to the pasture to move the goats until after dark. Not fun when that overgrown pathway is surrounded by thorny locust tree trunks and saplings like this. The goats were most displeased by my tardiness and displayed their tempers in various ways. Once again, I was reminded that there's not much on this earth more stubborn than an old goat. Except me. Posted by Picasa

Monday, November 21, 2005

Another hard frost

Frosty mornings are more the rule than the exception at last. It's been an unusually arm fall here. That's been nice, considering how much settling in I've left to do here at the farm. Today the projected high is 55 degrees F. I'll be moving a dozen blueberry bushes from their heeled-in spot in the garden to their permanent places in the new orchard.

By the way, the puppy has a name. She's Bebe aka Isabelle (slurred 'It's a belly'). She acquired the second name during a cuddle session at the lumber yard while we waited for pipe to be cut. Bebe Isabelle made new friends at the lumberyard, the service station, the park . . . and then there's the deer hunter and his six-year-old son . . . . Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Dixie? Annie? Lucy? Josie? Bebe? We haven't picked a name yet for the new farmcollie pup. She's 7 weeks old and just arrived at the farm yesterday evening. She's met the livestock and is only intimidated by the guineas, the rooster gangs, and Speedy, the mama hen. No shame there, even the 80 lb. English Shepherd steers clear of Mama Speedy and her brood. Miss Puppy-Without-A-Name joined me and the 3 grown farmcollies for a long walk through the woods and fields, then snuggled up with me for a nice long nap. Life is good.

Many, many thanks to Clark, who picked up our little girl in Texas on the way back to college Sunday. Thanks also go to the guys in #14 for letting her spend the night at their apartment while she waited for her ride to the farm.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, October 27, 2005

We had our first hard frost a few days ago. The clover looked sad and wilted.
Photo by LauraP

When I went first went outside, the frost covered the entire pasture. Half an hour later, the only frost remaining was in the long shadows cast by the treetops. This created an interesting striped effect across the pasture, which I enjoyed until the sunlight fell full upon the pecan tree I was standing under and triggered a brief 'rain.' I moved away. The dogs moved away faster.
Photo by LauraP

Moments after I photographed this frosted dandelion puff, the sun melted the ice crystals.
Photo by LauraP

Monday, October 10, 2005

I drive along a section of the Wah'Kon-Tah Prairie going to and from town. This evening, I pulled onto a side road and shot photos across the rolling hills of the Johnson tract, a 320-acre portion added in 1992. The Wah' Kon-Tah Prairie is located northeast of El Dorado Springs, Missouri, in St. Clair and Cedar Counties. It is managed by the Department of Conservation in partnership with The Nature Conservancy.
Photo by LauraP

The same photo with the lighting adjusted.
Photo by LauraP

Sunday, October 09, 2005

My son, Jason, included this photo of himself and a monkey with the birthday card he sent Jennifer, my daughter. Jason is more than halfway through a two-year stint in Sao Paolo, Brazil. He and his friends were visiting a zoological park that day.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A new mullein plant with the heavy dew of a misty morning still clinging to its fuzzy leaves.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Blue, my 9-year-old Australian Shepherd, waited patiently by the pond yesterday while I snapped flower photos. I couldn't resist taking one of him and his reflection.
Photo by LauraP

Monday, September 19, 2005

Since it's my daughter, Jennifer's, 20th birthday today, I thought I'd post a picture of her from my file of favorites. As I browsed through, I realized most of my pictures of her include a dog, cat, or goat. Here's one of her from several years ago with Sparky, one of the pups she helped raise.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I know, I know. Thistles are noxious weeds. Still, the flowers are so beautiful. This isn't a bull thistle or that troublesome and prolific outlaw Canada thistle. The leaves are prickly, and no doubt it shouldn't be growing in my pasture. Eradication plans remain on hold until positive identification is accomplished. Which I hope will be soon.
Photo by LauraP

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Just me and my shadow

That's me in the middle, with the skeleton of the deer stand around me. Thunderstorms are forecast for the next few days, so today's probably the last chance this week to play with shadows.
Photo by LauraP

Deer stand extraordinaire--built by one of the farm's previous owners. We had to do some heavy trimming in the overgrown cedars underneath to open access to the ladder. Well worth it, I think, since it's a great place to hang out, take deep breaths, and think about nothing.
Photo by LauraP

The view to the west from the deer stand. Isn't my neighbor's pasture lovely?

Photo by LauraP

Monday, September 12, 2005

Not a lanigera

I haven't named this new bunny yet. I need to get to know her a little better first. Little No Name here is an American Chinchilla rabbit -- not to be confused with the rodent known as the Chinchilla lanigera, which you frequently find in pet stores. The lanigera type is of South American origin, and is highly prized for its fur . No doubt, the chinchilla rabbits got their name because of their similar soft, thick gray fur.

The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy is adding rabbits to its conservation mission, and their 2006 proposed placements list includes 10 breeds. The American Chinchilla rabbit breed falls into the 'critical' category. This means there are fewer than 200 annual registrations of the breed in the United States and an estimated global population of less than 2000.

Two days ago, I was fortunate to acquire a young breeding trio from the only known American Chinchilla breeder in Missouri. They're gorgeous rabbits with incredibly luxurious fur, beautiful eyes, and a sweet, gentle nature. They're much easier to handle than my slightly neurotic New Zealand Whites.
Photo by LauraP

Not happy to be here.
Photo by LauraP

Eeek! These two junior American Chinchilla rabbits came from the same rabbitry, but apparently they weren't buddies. They spent the rest of the evening, hugging their respective corners
Photo by LauraP

Friday, September 09, 2005

My favorite seat at the kitchen table overlooks the hummingbird feeder. The hummingbird skirmishes heat up in the late morning after the morning glories along the fence close their blossoms against the rising heat. They're most active between the time of our evening meal until dusk. The neighbors, with their well-established feeders, may have a good dozen hummers buzzing around at any given time. We just get the overflow, maybe three or four at a time. Their bickering and territorial games are so entertaining, I haven't turned on the TV for a week.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Warning: property protected by attack banties.
Photo by LauraP

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

This big old post oak straddles a fenceline between two small pastures. Right now, the wire gate is open, allowing free egress. I love the oak's shape, the untidy cluster of thick branches, some worn-out, damaged and nearly dead, others strong and healthy. We writers could shape interesting analogies around an oak like this.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Morning glory blossoms line the fence outside my front door, pinks, blues, and this dramatic variety. The garden hasn't been tended for nearly a year, so these plants are volunteers from sturdy self-seeders. The orginal gardener chose well. Gorgeous flowers, sturdy self-seeders, drought tolerant, and much loved by the hummingbirds..
Photo by LauraP

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

This interesting fungus is growing on a stump near the barn. Again, I'd look it up and identify it if I could find the box with the nature books . . . anyone know what it is?
Photo by LauraP

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The mint blossoms in the terrace garden buzz with bees all day long. They're too pollen-drunk to bother with us humans as we brush past them. Next summer I'll see how many different types of bees, wasps, hornets and so forth I can identify in the mint patch. Surely by then I'll have the insect i.d. books unpacked.
Photo by LauraP

Monday, August 15, 2005

Tansy blossoms on the terrace garden at the farm. The tiny brown seeds in the lower right corner are from the Queen Anne's Lace that bloomed last month. These seeds are encased in small burrs that create tangles in dog fur and itchy spots on my socks. The white flowers just behind the yellow buttons of the tansy are blooming sprigs of mint.
Photo by LauraP

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Armadillos, snappers, oh my

Two days ago we spotted a young 9-banded armadillo in the front yard at the farm. I'd have taken a picture, but who knew they could run that fast? I have no experience with armadillos, aside from counting roadkill in the southwest. Will they be garden pests? Must I learn a whole new pest deterrent system? Or do they just pass through and leave things alone?

This morning, back at the old house, my daughter and I thought we saw a mouse crossing the road. Nope. Baby snapping turtle. My 18-year-old, going-to-college-next-week daughter put it in a cup with some grass and is researching snapping turtle care. I'm thinking of sneaking in while she's asleep and swiping it so I can turn it loose down by the creek. That's what I used to do with her toads & frogs when she was little.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A fun room for a 14-year-old, but those sparkly hot pink stripes might be a little distracting while I'm trying to write the Great American Novel.
Photo by LauraP

Five coats of paint later, my new office is more 'me'.
Photo by LauraP

Monday, July 18, 2005

Nope, that's not just a reflection. The water really is green. It's also inhabited by hundreds of tadpoles at all stages of development, plus a yellow-bellied water snake. We've been calling it Nessie. Any tips for relocating a snake?
Photo by LauraP

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

My second favorite daylily - an elderly man on the next street over ran a small garden center and traded me the starts for these in exchange for a division from my patch of old-fashioned double daylilies. Some past gardener planted these yellow-throated reds at our new farm, too. Kismet?
Photo by LauraP

Old-fashioned double daylilies grow rampant in my perennial bed. Twenty years ago, when I was laying out the gardens in the first house my husband and I bought, a cousin shared starter plants with me. She'd obtained hers years before from Aunt Adele, who got hers from Great-grandma Cruikshank's garden. I thought it a good sign when I arrived at the farm we'd just bought and found several of these in bloom there. The flowers at the farm are, I think, a slightly lighter shade of orange.
Photo by LauraP

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The ubiquitous bindweed -- harmless and pretty along the edge of the road, a creeping, smothering, unstoppable terror in the garden.
Photo by LauraP

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Old-fashioned stocks in my perennial garden. Yes, that's dog hair hanging from the stalks.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Bad Hair Days

I suspect I don't have much of a future as a professional sheep shearer. Tinkerbelle seems to have forgiven me. (Sweet feed is a great bribe!) I'll trim around her face and even out her haircut in a few days. Right now, it's enough that the heavy wool is gone.
Photo by JenniferP

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Lounge Rooster

He's always been a little strange.
Photo by JenniferP

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Please let me stay!

This gentle rooster hatched last year. He's the only single-combed chicken on the place. The rest of my full-sized chickens are pure Wyandotte of one color pattern or another, all with pea combs. I suspect the mother hen sneaked across the road to cavort with that big strapping single-combed rooster from my neighbor's flock. Mr. Floppy Comb is so sweet I haven't had the heart to cull him yet. He's also good for a little evening hide-and-seek entertainment while he tries to trick us into letting him remain in the safety of the henhouse. He's at the bottom of the pecking order and hates roosting with the bachelor roosters.
Photo by LauraP

Friday, June 17, 2005

The stone terrace in front of the farmhouse we're buying.
Photo by LauraP

Friday, June 10, 2005

Snow? What snow?

Lucie, our senior ewe.
Photo by LauraP

My son, who's on mission in Brazil, has requested snow pictures. Everyone there wants to know what snow's like, he says. So Jason, these are for you, and 'everyone' who wants to know. Not as cold, wet, slippery, fun, or annoying as the real stuff, but it's the best I could do at the time with the digital camera.

Ralphie, the English Shepherd, knee-deep and having a blast.
Photo by LauraP

The view behind the barn during last winter's first snow.
Photo by LauraP

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Pink Explosion

Nearly Wild rose blossoms - the blossoms last weekend covered the bush by the front porch so thickly the greenery barely showed.
Photo by LauraP

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

In a dog's life

Ralphie, taking a break on a hot afternoon.
Photo by LauraP

I looked up from weeding the perennial bed and caught Ralphie, the English Shepherd, doing his thing. He works nights, protecting the poultry and livestock from coyotes and various lesser predators. The older dogs still help, but over the last year, Ralphie has taken over the lead. I've awakened many times to the sound of the coyote chorus on the ridge behind our place, and the eerie loud answer of Ralphie's howl, warning them away from his territory. His preferred howling spot is at the corner of the house, below the bedroom windows, where he's positioned to quickly respond to threats at either end of the property. Sadie, the older female, covers the north and east sides. She has a particular 'keep away' bark I've learned to recognize. Blue, the Australian Shepherd, tends to move around. He can't see well anymore, but his ears and nose work fine. He's eager to help if he can just find his way to the problem.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Tubby Bunny Foofoo

Tubby Bunny Foofoo and mama.
Photo by LauraP

Yes, it's a dumb name. But hey, if you can't have fun and be goofy around the barn, what's the point? Usually we don't name the kits from the meat rabbits, but this one's an only -- only one in the nest, only baby bunny in the barn. So cute. So soft. Quiet, with big curious eyes that are just too hard to resist.

So why is he an only? Inexperienced mother rabbits sometimes have problems when delivering their first litter. This one gave birth to four very large kits (baby rabbits), but only one survived. Mother rabbits have very rich milk. This little guy gets it all to himself, so he's growing incredibly fast. He's also becoming incredibly spoiled.

Yesterday, Jennifer tucked a rag into her purse, then tucked Tubby Foofoo into the cozy little nest it made. He curled around and immediately went to sleep. She drove to town, shopped for groceries, brought a Coke to her sister at work. Fellow customers, former co-workers, friends, and strangers all got peeks into the purse/nest. Tubby Foofoo didn't seem to care.

Jennifer and Tubby Bunny Foofoo. He's huge and just 10 days old in this picture.
Photo by LauraP

Friday, June 03, 2005

The gathering

Seabright banty roosters, spoiling for a fight. Note the dropped wing on the middle rooster. He's getting ready, but . . . so many targets - who to attack?
Photo by LauraP