Friday, October 31, 2014



Had to walk to the barn late last was dark...the moon was fuzzed all around with a little ice cloud, and the stars were burning softly.

But there was something out there. Every step I took things rustled in the bushes. Sometimes it sounded like a few sleepy birds fluttering away from the light of my flashlight. Sometimes it sounded like a bunny bouncing off. Sometimes it sounded like a dozen zombies bent on wreaking havoc. Or a grizzly bear.

Must be the wild things were getting ready for Halloween. I did not waste any time on my trip.

Marv certainly was in a holiday mood. He appeared on the back lawn as I was starting to put dinner together. Just what I wanted to see. He had gotten left behind when the old cows went to pasture and instead of going where he belonged, he scooted under the electric fence and came a visiting.

 Interestingly we discovered that feeder calves that are being raised on pasture can run.

I mean really run. At least he confined himself to the horse yard so he couldn't run very far. After some serious chasing, we tried letting him out of the yard. He was tired and ran back where he belonged faster than you would believe.

Alas, dinner was late....

Hope you all have a fun and safe Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Turkey Talkin'

See the kitty on the phone? Pet him and he'll purr.

Our boy is home for most of five too-short days. He loves to mix things up and the place is humming. He and Peggy play on the floor a lot. She used to hate to get down on a blanket in the living room, but now she loves it, and a patient playmate makes it that much better.

You should hear her growl. Her daddy taught her that quite some time ago, and she growls at her food, at her toys, and at us. She growls at towels. She growls at everything just before she grabs it and chomps on it.

When she gets a little older all she will need for 'talk like a pirate day' are a few 'Ahoys' and a couple of 'Mateys', because she sure has argghhh down pat. 

Wanna taste the lollipop?

Al came to the barn with us yesterday morning for chores and on the way back over he did some turkey talking. He is good enough with just his mouth, no call, no box, no toys atall, that he used to drive his professors crazy at college. He would get in the stairwell and do a few little hen calls and then leave. People would look all over for the turkey.


Yesterday the birds in the turkey tractor went nuts when he called them. The toms began to gobble, feathers fluffed, tails fanned and then began to strut in earnest. The hens were utterly perplexed.

It was pretty funny. I can call well enough to get hens to come down off the hill....sometimes.... but I swear he could talk them right onto the table. He once stalked one quietly enough to walk up and touch it when it was sleeping. It woke up right quick though, I can tell you.

A loaf of Liz's peasant bread. Look, ma, no kneading!

Anyhow, things are pretty lively right now...nice to have him here....we will sure miss him when he has to go back to DC.

A Big Sad

This wonderful, much-loved, super special dog, Fuzzy, from Life on a Colorado Farm, has passed away....I hope Linda doesn't mind me borrowing his picture, as I never met him in person. However, everyone here at Northview felt as if we knew him and his best buddy, Boomer, and all the cats, and chickens and all the other characters from his Colorado home.

Dog lovers know...there is nothing like a favorite dog and losing one is poignantly painful. 

Good boy, Fuzzy, RIP.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


Cinnamon's tail several days after the escapade.
The majority of the burrs are gone

There are only five cows left here. Well, actually, two cows, one heifer, two bulls and one steer. You might expect that so few would find fewer ways to get in trouble.

Alas, all it takes is one. A few days ago someone (not me) didn't quite chain the barnyard gate, which leads to the back of the home farm (which is not the one where the house is...go figure).

Marv, drinking from a muddy puddle.
There is a clean watering trough
a pond
and a creek
but mud is tastier, dontcha know?

Moon, Cinnamon, Marv and Bama Breeze discovered that open gate and exited in search of better and more abundant forage than can be found on the huge pasture they have all to themselves (said pasture has been known to feed fifty-one heifers from spring to fall without supplemental feeding in good years). Yeah, the poor things are obviously starving.

Anyhow, when I got to the barn to give the boss a hand that evening I had no trouble at all knowing they had been out.

Where there are cows there are no burdocks. They love them and eat them right down to the roots.

Where there are no cows there are plenty. Add cows in autumn and you have a terrible combination. Bama's tail from root to tip of switch was so covered with burrs that they were flaking off in sheets.

Heaven forbid she try to switch her tail.

Bama, days after the debacle
Imagine about ten times this many

The other three were not quite as well-endowed, but there was no shortage. 

Turns out the boss had to hunt them down with the tractor as they had been over quite a lot of ground and he has a bad knee. The ground was evidently rich in burdocks.

Where do you think he found them? Right in the other pasture, grazing on the pretty ridge overlooking the river, and joined by a bunch of deer.


The mystery sparrow

Spent a lot of time outdoors yesterday. It was just too nice not to. 

Dark-eyed Junco

The sun dogs flickered on and off, not too strong, not so bright, so maybe they didn't have much to say about the future.

Pine Siskin

But the Pine Siskins on the feeder? The flock of a dozen of them mixed with winter sparrows and house finches? 

Now that may have meaning, although I surely hope not.

And then there were the oddly marked Woolly Bears. One had a little black on its butt, a reasonable amount of it on the front, and the widest orange band we had ever seen. What's up with that?

House Finch

Went out to watch that rocket launch last night, only to find after I stood outside for a good long while, watching a distant plane, that it had been scrubbed.

Of course it was. The sky was clear here for a change for a nighttime sky event. Normally, all eclipses, comets, meteor showers and launches that are visible on the East Coast are obscured by clouds.....and here is our Tuesday night forecast: 

Cloudy this evening with showers after midnight. Low 56F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 60%.

Oh, well, we should be used to it by now. 

If the little sparrow I caught, sitting in the Mt. Ash tree is a Swamp Sparrow, which I believe it is, I picked up two year birds for the farm count in one day. Also got news that our Christmas Bird Count, unless something changes, will be after Christmas rather than before. If you have ever tried to cover a territory that takes in malls and shopping centers the weekend before the holiday, while driving slowly scanning for birds, you will understand why this was great news.

Is this a portent of a good winter's birding? One can only hope.

Monday, October 27, 2014


With our change of auction barns we have to ship on Sunday for a Monday sale. Thus nine head went yesterday, the remaining four heifers, Abbekirk, Cedar Key, Loki, and Tequila, and five steers

Really only wanted to send the steers, which we kept for this, but our taxes went up...a lot....again....

At least we have a nice new trucker, who is kind but firm with the animals. She and I got most of the heifers on the truck while we were waiting for the boss. Wish we had found her when we were still in the dairy business, as far too many of the other truckers we used were either hasty and abrupt, or downright incompetent, or both. I have always hated shipping stock! 

If you want her number give one of us a shout. So far she has loaded with us twice and both times went well.

Anyhow, the place will be pretty bare for winter. Only a handful left now. I need to find a direction right soon. Discovered that retirement does not suit my temperament one bit.