Thursday, May 28, 2009

That D----d Sign Has Got To Go -or- We're Full Up!

This past week has been a week full of worrisome happenings: a kitten we adopted out has gone walk-about causing major concerns for her new owners; I have had tremendous headaches complete with brain scan to see if there was something amiss there (and it did confirm I do, indeed, have an actual brain); and a dear friend is very, very ill in the hospital.
Today, I saw a cat that has been hanging around the farm duck into Hizzoner's tractor shed. Carefully, I opened the door. I got a very quick glance at the face of the cat, then spied two smaller versions of said cat. Yup. Lightening does indeed seem to strike twice. A mama-cat moved her kittens in.
I only saw the two kittens and the mom, but we just don't have room for any more cats. And the shelters are turning away animals here due to over-filled capacity. To top it off, we are people who just can't ignore them. I did put out some food and drink for the mama. This damned conundrum! I will make sure these guys have food and drink available except at night when the kitty-killers (aka coyotes, skunks, racoons...loose dogs) come around.

Yogi Berra said it right...

"It's Deja Vu all over again!"

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Soul is Dancing

It is raining in Arizona. Not the torrents coming from vicious monsoon storms, but a soft, gentle, constant rain. One that seeps into the needing earth giving both the land, and my soul, some much needed moisture. I should be out dancing in it instead of inside at my desk.
These gentle rains seem to revitalize me. Sometimes the sun and dryness here can be very harsh. Maybe it's my Celtic/Viking genetics. You know, the genes that keep telling me I belong in a more northern climate with ferns and forests instead of the high mountain desert area I live in. I like it here, but some days the harsh environs gets to me.
I know a shepherd in Oregon who used to live in Sedona, just off the rim from us. She had been raised in Arizona but moved to Oregon when she "grew tired of looking at the bones of the Earth". I had never thought about it until I heard her say that. "The bones of the Earth."
I do like it here. Maybe it's just this type of rain brings back memories of growing up in the Midwest where rain occurs much more often. Before living here my HHWB (Hired-Hand-With-Benefits) and I spent seven years in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Rain was a weekly occurrence. Plant seeds in the garden and jump back or you'd be flattened by the plants shooting skyward. Well, OK...maybe not quite that fast, but fast enough to see the growth from day to day. Here I beg and plead plants protected in Walls-of-Water to please grow and give us a few tomatoes for our table. Between the dryness, the 50 degree day/night temperature shifts in summer, and the rats-with-antlers (aka elk) it's a wonder that people can actually make a garden work. (Please don't tell my fellow Master Gardeners this or I'll never hear the end of it. I'm supposed to be "upbeat" and "enthusiastic" about gardening here. heeheehee)

A shot, from the house, of the stream and a bit of the pasture. The grass is turning a luscious green and getting deep. This means wonderful grazing for my sheep!
Above, a rarity to be treasured - a puddle down by the gate into the pasture.
A shot of the pine near the front door, its needles soaking in the cherished moisture.

Don't get me wrong. There are some real advantages in living here, as there is in any place you are. We may get snow that is three feet deep in one storm, but in about two days the roads are high and dry after the sun comes out. Being 7,000 ft. closer to the sun will do that for you. The breezes are fresh with the scent of pine. And that harsh sun I mentioned earlier will brighten every corner of your well as every corner of the house and barn, summer or winter.
But as with anything in life, moderation is a key factor. Too much of our sun is harsh on the eyes and skin. It bleaches out the fleece of uncoated sheep. Plants labeled "full sun" will wither and die unless part of the day isn't spent in shade. Like Icarus, we dare not get too close.
Days like we've been having, with the soft rains, also make me think of New Zealand, with the lush gardens and neighborhoods where missed family live. I look at my ten year old apple tree, barely as tall as me, and think of Val's apple trees - tall, lush, laden with fruit. Of Ross and Kelly's yard with Sam the Cat and I checking out the plants and trees.

So, for today, I shall dance in the rain as I plant my sweet pea seeds and feed the sheep. I know I won't be alone in my appreciation of the weather...already the sheep and chickens have started dancing without me. The sheep are just dancing for the joy of it. The chickens are dancing with the worms they have now found. Too bad their dance is at the worms' expense. :)
May you find something wondrous to dance about in your day today...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

A New Chapeau for an Old Gal

The past couple of weeks have been crazy around Oleo Acres. Well, what else is new? As soon as we returned from our trip to New Zealand, we had two horrid windstorms here, each taking bits and pieces of the roof shingles and paper with them. I had forgotten just how unnerving listening to the wind rip your home apart could be. We were stationed in Kansas for seven years. Those years saw many times when the wind tore through our housing area, downing trees and brush while leaving our WWII brick quarters standing tall. Many a time a hot meal was left on the table as we scrambled out the door to the basement stairs when the tornado warning sirens alerted us to oncoming storms, Ralph with Kelly in his arms and me with a "Survival Bag" of necessary items and the cat(s) held tight in my arms.
We knew it was almost time to have a new roof put on. We'd had water damage from snow and ice storms the previous winter of '07-'08. Now the wind was finishing off the other parts of the roof toward the south side where the weather hits us. It was time to bite the bullet, with the aid of our insurance company. Not only was the roof damaged, but we saw sections of the privacy fence by our garden flattened as well. It looks like it will be a busy summer here.
After tearing off the old shingles and roofing paper, the contractor laid down a waterproof membrane along the edge of the roof and up the valleys where we normally see ice dams form. Then all was covered with roofing paper, a new drip edge and here you see a few photos of the shingles going on.
We decided while the new roof is going on to add a few sun tube, or solar tubes, to the package to brighten areas of the house we thought could use some extra brightening: one in the kitchen, one in the hallway to our bedroom, and the final one in the stairwell to the basement. A friend in town had some installed in her abode when a new roof was put on and they made such a difference we couldn't pass this opportunity by.

One delight is that my Coffee plant (above) and my citrus (lime, below) are blooming! The front sunroom is fragrant with the smell of blossoms!

Another wonderful happenstance was that we found out we had more property than we thought! The county has bought our neighbor's place. they will tear down her house and add that land to the wetlands they own behind us. That being the case , what with the county about to take possession of said property, they had their surveyors come out to stake the true property lines. On our walk around the house this evening we both agreed that this weekend we need to move our railroad ties and rocks over to the line. (And yes, the county would love to have us sell to them as well as they would love to add our stream in their property, but we're not selling to anyone until Ralph retires - and prices go back up a bit. ;)

I'm just sorry I don't have any pictures of lambs to share with you this year. Then again, with everything that's been going on here with surgeries, trips, and roofs...well, maybe that was a good idea not to breed last fall after all.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Needed Rabies Vaccination? For Here, Yes!

(Please keep in mind that the following is happening in my area and may not be happening in your area. This is meant as a "forewarned is forearmed" passage of information...)

This past Wednesday, I vaccinated my flock of sheep for Rabies. For those of you following the news you'll remember the infamous "Bobcat in a Bar" in Prescott, Arizona, where a bobcat wandered into a local pub, during broad daylight, and tried to attack patrons. Well, we've had a few similar happenings here in northern Arizona as well.
What prompted me to inquire about the prospect of having sheep immunized for rabies was an incident a few weeks ago on the east side of town. A gentleman left his house one morning to get in his car in his driveway and was attacked, and subsequently bitten, by a rabid fox. In Suburbia. Yes...the fox was found and tested positive for rabies...and yes, the man had to undergo treatment.
Being the inquisitive person I am, I started asking questions of the two veterinarians I use. The thought had struck me: Well, I put the sheep in the barn area at night to (hopefully) avoid predation by the coyotes, dogs, bears and lions we have in this area, but was I overlooking the smaller pests? We have skunks, bobcats, fox, raccoon and porcupines moving through all the time. And "What if..." one happened to bite a sheep and transmit the virus to the sheep? Hmmm...
OK...our county did place a quarantine into effect for the city of Flagstaff and parts north into the San Francisco Peaks, with all cats and dogs to be inside or under control of their owners for a certain time period. While that is going on, county and Fish and Game people were dropping vaccination baits all over the areas where rabies had been found in hopes to "vaccinate" any creatures who had not contracted the disease already. However, two things were very wrong with this implementation: one was that not enough area was included in this quarantine to cover the range of the rabies, and, from the feedback for various people involved in this scheme as well as local veterinarians, it isn't working all that well. A third thought was did I really trust the county officials?
After talking to the vets, I decided it would be in my best interest to go ahead and vaccinate the sheep. One problem with the transmission of rabies, if a sheep does get bitten from a rabid animal, is transmission to humans. Although I doubt any rabid animal could even catch one of my "Puddlejumpers", do I want to chance both their health and mine? I don't think so.
When a sheep (cow or horse for that matter) starts to show symptoms of rabies, one of the first signs is coughing as if the animal is choking on something. The responsible owner then reaches in the mouth of said animal to retrieve the object d'jour only to find nothing but saliva all over their hand and arm. All you need do is have an open wound from a cut or torn cuticle, or to slice yourself on a sharp molar and there you have it.
Little did I know that one vet had already ordered the vaccine for me. OK...I get the message. I'll vaccinate the Sheeple. So, everyone got their shot and the next day were not only grumpy with the Shepherdess, but just grumpy from the shot as well.

And as much as I hate to admit it, even though it cost me some money, I feel I did the best I could for not only my flock...but me and the Hired-Hand-With-Benefits as well.

NOTE: In my research I found out from a Vet-Tech that horse owners can become exposed just by bridling a horse IF that horse was exposed to the virus. Who would have thought that the simple act of placing a bit into a horse's mouth could be a contributing factor?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Happy Birthday to the Bonzo Brothers!

One year ago today, under our front deck/step, a hungry, dusty, very pregnant young cat, abandoned by her humans, delivered her kittens. Young and on her own, not even a year old herself, she raised six beautiful babies, all safe and secure in her well chosen den. About mid-May, two humans not only trapped her, but removed said decking and nabbed her six babies as well. That's how Mama (aka Daisy May) came to live with us.
And as those kittens grew, we were able to find good homes for all but two of them: Mooch and Rascal.

I can't imagine life now without Daisy and the "Bonzo Brothers", as we affectionately call Mooch and Rascal. They have added to our lives in richness and warmth with their antics and love.
You did good, Mama... will you move so I can have some of my own pillow?