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A couple I know sing at various functions in the area.  A few days ago, the fellow gave me a flier for a place they were playing last night.  My son and I had dinner with mom, then off we went to town.  We don’t usually go anywhere after dark – not concerned with vampires, just deer.  After having one hit the truck last year,  it makes me think twice about driving after dark.  When said deer and I collided (with mom in the truck  of COURSE !) I never saw it until it was too late.  I drive cautiously,  I used my deadly Chevy pickup high-beams, and I still got it.  So, since then, I pretty much make sure we don’t have to go anywhere once the sun sets.  It’s not like there are things to do in town at night either…….unless you can’t live without something from WalMart.  I am not afraid of driving after dark,  it is just better not to temp the fates.  So last night we got to town after being passed by 9 emergency vehicles on their way to help somewhere……..and had an interesting hour.  My friends sang, they had open microphone time – and that was fun.  One local fellow who stepped up to play is a checker at the grocery store I shop at.  In the store, he is quiet, and there he played his electric guitar and sang “Mustang Sally” and he did quite well.  He faded out the back door before I could tell him how good we thought it was.  Guess the accolades will wait until next week.  The occasion for this music was the grand opening for the new coffee house, and when we left there were perhaps 15 people in attendance.  Small town life you know, but it was quite enjoyable.100_1657.

                                                           Lunar Eclipse

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Such a pretty day, and it is COLD.  I have been cold all day.  We went into town, and when I got home I was still cold.  Rather idiotic, as I don’t have a reason to be cold.  I have good clothing, a good warm coat.  Boots.  Gloves and hat.  Nice fire in the stove in the living room around the corner.  However as I sit here typing, I have feet and hands like ice.  Crab and moan day obviously.  Oh well.  I thought I would share a few photos of the interesting and oh so personable animals who live here.

The extraordinary Tweety

The extraordinary Tweety

Tweety joined our family as a last ditch effort by a friend to save her quite literally from the stew pot.  They were positive she was a rooster.  I said yes she could stay.  That next spring, Tweety was  helping nearby while I was standing doing something.  Her normal manner if she thinks I should do something for her has always been to come up, bock at me and peck my foot.  So she was making a LOT of noise, pecked my foot and I looked down to see her stand up and walk away from a beautiful light brown egg !  Nope, not a rooster there !  She is a family favorite and is always very helpful around the place.  The thing I love about chickens, aside from their charming personalities and funny manorisms,  is that we have zero bugs.  Not any mosquitos usually, very few flies.  With West Nile Virus in the county, it is a worry, but they do such a wonderful job at “bug patrol”  I don’t really think about it too much. 

Rita the Aracauna

Rita the Aracauna

Rita was one of our first chickens.  She joined Red, the New Hampshire red hen and Chicky baby, the Rhode Island Red hen.  They were our wonderful source of eggs for many years.  However, there are times when chickens first begin to lay eggs that a very alarming thing can happen – and it did happen to Rita.  One morningI heard her bocking weakly, and she was laid out on the floor of the coop.  She had lost the use of her legs !!!  It was a terrible thing, she was confused and kept pushing, so I knew an egg was “in the chute” so to speak.  Maiden chickens have this occur at times, the egg puts pressure on the nerves that control the legs – and cuts off the signal from the brain to the legs.  It can be fixed by removing the egg carefully.   We rushed her off to the vet, and when the tech took her to take an x-ray, I took a  bathroom break.  The vet came back out with Rita while I was gone and just handed her to mom to hold.  Mom asked if he could “save” the egg 🙂  We laughed about that, and he kept Rita there to extract the egg.  When I went to pick her up that evening, the tech gave her to me, and said “oh, don’t forget this !”  It was a beautiful sky blue egg.  When we got home, we drove in and mom came outside, I happily held Rita, and reached behind the seat and brought up the egg , rather triumphantly I might say……..it was just another odd and fun day in our lives.  Rita was the last of our old chicky ladies, and she passed away a few months ago at the age of 10 or so.  She was a jewel and I find I still call for her when I feed on occasion.

If I simply look outside, it could well be spring.  Bright colors, brilliant sky. No clouds.  Unless I look up at the mountain, and uh……oh yeah, it IS winter.  Oh well, can’t hurt to wish.  Mom and I are off to town to get a pre-op blood test for her.  Tonight a local fellow and his wife are singing at a new coffee house and he asked if we could come, so we will.  We have two Starbucks, and one independent coffee house now.  Wow, big times in the small town.  After living here for 6 1/2 years, I have finally come to realize there is such a thing as too small a town.  Since 1991 the closest I have lived to a Trader Joes organic market is about 70 miles.  Once we do finally move, there is one about 25 miles away and three or four perhaps  across the sound on the ferry.  How I look forward to that !!!!!

Barbaro winning the Kentucky Derby

Barbaro winning the Kentucky Derby

I have noticed that some people remember things.  Some don’t.  I am poor at recalling people’s names.  I can remember faces, I can remember what item I bought at what garage sale, how to get there – all conveniently stored in my brain.  I should mention that these sales  were not from yesterday, last week, or even last year…….I mean like in 1982.  Interesting at times, in my family I am known as the queen of useless information.  Of course this ties in perfectly with what I preseme to be my photographic memory.  For example,  I know where everything is in WalMart.  I mean EVERYTHING.  If I have walked down that asile,  if I saw the item there in that particular spot, well, it goes into that heap of information in my head.  It really screws me up when they decide to “redo” the store,  be it the WalMart, or the supermarket we go to, Safeway.  However it is a short lived botherment, as all it really takes is one cruise around and I know where the pipe cleaners are.  (I don’t ever need those – the ones for cleaning pipes, not the craft item ones).  Or perhaps the packages of dried spices, like the dried cactus flowers. (on the wall opposite the produce dept, now obscured by the giant water dispensing machine and it’s crocks and plastic jugs, just in case you needed to know).  But people’s names ?  Forget it.  I can repeat verbatim songs in a foreign language too.  Finnish ? No problem.  North Korean ?  no problem……. etc.   So, when people obsess about recalling a certain date, well, ok.  Today is one such day.  I read a horse racing forum board, devoted to the “would have been great” horse  Barbaro.  For those of you who may have missed this particularly bad story, he won the Kentucky Derby.  He went to Pimlico in Baltimore Maryland to run in the Preakness Stakes.  All presumed that he would become the first horse since my pal Affirmed to win horse racings Triple Crown title, including me.  But that is always preceeded in my mind by the words “barring any unforseen event”.  Well that event did indeed happen, Barbaro broke through the starting gate before the starter sprang the gates for the field.  He was pulled up and circled back around….but not walked off in a straight line.  In my opinion, had they done that, it would have been apparent he had already injured himself. Sadly, no vet check, only reloaded and the gates opened.  He was only able to go 14 strides by my count before he suffered a catastrophic breakdown.   I have been involved in racing since 1971.  Never before had I seen a horse gallop out on three legs.  Mostly due to the wonderful training that Michael Matzdoes with his horses at Fairhill.  His horses are true athletes – they do long gallops in hills, all different terrain.  Anyway, because of Barbaro’s willingness to be an excellent patient, his rear leg was plated, pinned wrapped, glued supported and he lived, patched together from that day in May until the following January 29th – when the dreaded disease Lamanitis claimed his legs and he was euthanized.  Horses are on precarious ground so to speak when they have four good legs.  Tiny bones, 1200 plus pounds and energy to spare.  When there are only 3 good legs to share that weight, the circulation suffers and well, it usually spells the end.  Think Secretariat ?  Affirmed ? Both euthanized due to lamanitis.   Barbaro joined an very long list of horses who didn’t make it due to lamanitis.  There is ongoing research at New Bolton Vet hospital in PA, and I hope one day they can figure out how to stop it from occurring.   Barbaro had the spirit, the owners and the money to put him back together again, but it didn’t help in the end.  Dr.Richardson, his vet learned a lot from it, so hopefully in the future it will help other horses.  So, today I remember Barbaro, and those horses gone before and since.  They give their all, and while the industry is changing to help place the Thoroughbreds after they are done running,  more needs to change.  I can only hope.  Of course there are just as many jubilant moments I participated with in racing……..but for now I am happy to look out at my rescued Thoroughbreds and remember the past.

The owner called this morning and reported that things are “moving on out” so to speak, normal in all ways.  A bullet dodged, that was a bad situation, and I am very glad she called me yesterday.  The old rule was to “just keep them walking” so as not to have them roll and do damage……but it really does require pain meds, muscle relaxant and oil to help that clog through.  Whew.

Several blogs I read are mentioning the great beyond, and I am enough with that today. The sun is out, the frost is gone, and I will find a photo of our farm to post here too.  Winter can be beautiful, but I want spring already !  I believe that this photo was taken late spring a year or two ago.

Enjoy the day !

View looking across the road

View looking across the road

If it breathes, then for sure one day it will stop. Maybe with warning, in the case of a lengthy illness. Maybe a call out of the blue and someone special is   gone.  Poof.  Gone forever.  I have had it happen both ways, with people, with favorite animals.  It sucks either way, and as I have gotten older, I doubt one way is “easier” or more difficult than the other.  At times we see the flash of death waiting around the corner, and we duck it. We look the other way.  We cry. Scream.  Shout “no it isn’t time, isn’t fair”.   But in the end, what we have it what we make of it.  Today I got a call from an acquaintance,  her daughters miniature horse was in a bad way.  Sounded to me like impaction colic, and my mom and I jetted over there while the gal drove to pick up her teenage daughter who owns the little mare.  I was glad to see the mare upright when we got there,  but she was showing the signs I have come to dread…….in pain, shifting about, wanting to roll, no gut sounds………no fresh manure pile.  Not good.  Not good at all…… this terribly cold weather is very hard on horses,  if it gets so the water is so cold it is freezing,  some just decide not to drink.  There are a number of them who don’t eat then either, which avoids the whole impaction problem.  But there are those who DO eat, and they end up on the other end of a nasogastric tube, receiving warm water, electrolytes and mineral oil.  I hope this little mare pulls through, she is young, and while not in excellent shape, she should have a chance.  The owner did call the vet I referred her to, and met him at a local ranch, so the mare was treated.  As life goes, the call came before I was done this morning with chores – upon returning home, I went back to eat a bite before continuing, and then my mom called that her ancient cat was having a problem.  Frances will soon be 17, and has flirted with stroke type problems in the last year or so.  Today was another sign that things will likely change, sooner than we would like I think.  She has been a great companion, and tonight she is resting comfortably.  I only hope that she passes in her sleep when the time comes.  We never know when the fabric of our lives will tear and we will have to make a permanent change in the lineup.  It just makes me more secure in the happiness I feel each day, that I am lucky to be alive, and will enjoy every single day.  Yes, times are tough,  but if one focuses on the here and now, it is a great ride – no matter what is lurking around the corner.

It’s already wayyyy below freezing, and I have the fire stoked up, and my electric blanket warming my bed. 

Final check of the critters, and I am done for the day.

Goodnight !

It tried to snow enough to cover the ground last night.   There were still flakes falling when I got up this morning.  So, now it is above freezing, and there is mud, with snow on top, cheerfully obscuring the slick spots. Makes one want to stay inside and write.  But the horses would protest, so off I go.  When the weather reports indicate rain, or snow, I don’t pay much attention any longer.  I stick to the obvious.  If I go look out the window and it is wet, wallah ! Rain ! If it is white, ok, it did manage to  snow !  I do watch the temps so I know how to dress, and if it is below 15 degrees, I know I can put on a sweatshirt and my wool lined waterproof jacket. That about covers everything.   My tall Itasca boots are wearing out, now I get to sheath my feet in WalMart bags before inserting into boot. I keep thinking I will remember to buy some of that shoe repair goop, but that seems to fall off the list to make room for those items  of immediate need.  These boots have steel shanks and they are the best boots I have worn bar none.  Imagine my feelings when I discovered that good old Itasca decided to discontinue this boot ! OMG…..now what ? I do have one other pair, but I am reserving it until the current pair fall completely apart, at least that is the plan now.  These boots are all black, and have gone the gamut from digging in the garden, cleaning corrals, feeding daily, and when the ground is iffy – saving my already broken neck a number of times due to the tractor like tread on their soles. Itasca does put out other high boots, but I have neither the wish or the stomach to wear green mustard shiny boots, or camouflage boots.  I am one of the people who find it hilarious to see the photoshopped photo of a hunter strapped to the roof of a station wagon, with a deer driving home.  Living in a prime hunters paradise, it is a constant reminder that people kill things………..a lot.  I seem to see too much, everywhere, and it never leaves my brain.   At certain times of the year I see dead geese in some yahoos pickup truck, or a likely untagged buck stuffed into the back seat of someone elses economy car.   Wonder no longer where those road killed deer go – into the freezer of course !!!  Ick and eeeeewwwww. Ok, end of rant.

Our dinner last night was very nice, the cake went over very well. As oftentimes happens, I got out the aforementioned Better Homes cookbook, and proceeded to make up my own recipe (again).   However this time I managed to write it down, which was a good thing, as my son told me I needed to make this “new” cake a lot.  Glad it worked out. I am not quite trained enough to have remembered to take a photo, but I am trying. 

Hope you are all well and warm at home this odd Sunday !  I am off to look for my aluminum scoop shovel to relieve the addition to my chicken coop of water before it decides to start dripping into the coop……..

Today I say Happy Birthday to my mom.  While my son and I join her for dinner every Saturday night, this night is for her birthday dinner.  Once I get done with chores, I am making a “from scratch” chocolate cake  with chocolate icing.  Actually, I don’t do anything not from scratch.  One of my many passions are vintage cookbooks and recipes.  I have used my trusty Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, circa 1953 since I was a teenager.  However, in the zest for getting things packed to move, I somehow have lost it.   So, what do we do when we really need something that can’t be found locally ?  Ebay of course.  I did find a very similar edition for a reasonable price in excellent condition. so now it is living here with me.  I will be happy to see my original cookbook, but I am no longer desperate for it.  So, we will have our dinner and no doubt admire the newest addition to the family – Lucy the kitten.    It is wonderful to see mom smile, we do a lot of laughing.  Both of us being caregivers and then losing our husbands has made us closer and has definitely made us appreciate life in the here and now.   Things might not be what we have been hoping for, but we have our family, and enjoy each day to the fullest. Happy Birthday Mom, I look forward to celebrating many more with you !  

Winter is making a play to catch up with us again.  The ground has thawed where the old snow and ice had resided the last few weeks and now we have mush……….everywhere. Anyone who has been to our place knows that I rely heavily on my lovely 2 wheeled feed cart.  It makes it possible for me to do what I do here. The ground  is so soft the cart is sinking and is getting rough to push……….if it will freeze at least I can use my sled to feed the horses.  Today it was foggy and this afternoon we got rain, which we really haven’t seen much of lately.  I don’t mind weather, I just adjust what I do or how I feed to accommodate it.  At least we don’t have hurricanes or floods here, but we do have horrible winds at times.  Some weeks ago I was awakened to what sounded like a VW hitting the roof, huge BOOM and then a scraping sliding noise. I got up and into outdoor gear, and looked up on the driveway (lilac) side of the house roof – nothing. So, off I go behind the house, the wind whipping past, and I could actually hear the trees creak, about that time I thought ” really dumb Pam, why are you OUTSIDE ???” and I cast the beam of the flashlight on the roof facing our neighbors………..and there is a big limb on the roof, which falls off as I watch. Hmm.   Not good. I make it to the front of the house  and see the rest of the huge limb in front of the house below the windows…….and shine the light on the corner window, and it is broken.  As I am thinking “great,  can I call the neighbors to help me board this up ”  did I mention it was 2:30 am ? Then I realize I had already been in the living room before I went outside, and ………..there was no wind in there.  Hmm again, need coffee or something.  The wind was hitting the front of the house. I made it back inside to realize that the old house we live in, while most of it is in need of attention, someone down the line had replaced the windows with dual panes.  After cleaning up the broken glass, I have come to the conclusion that a car could hit these windows and they would remain intact. The limb that did hit the house was perhaps a foot across in diameter and very heavy. We were lucky that more damage was not done. 

As for other things happening, mom gets her back surgery soon, a much less invasive procedure than we were originally thought thanks to new x-rays,  so we were very happy.  We got her an early birthday present today, picked out last week at our local animal shelter and brought home today.  She is an 8 week old orange tabby longhair kitten with a slight Persian look to her. It was love at first sight for both of them, the kitten is now named “Lucy Michelle” and settled in happily at Mom’s. We have 7 acres and my son and I live in the old farmhouse, mom has a newer mobile home.  It is wonderful to be close by. I meet a lot of people who have lost their parents, and I cherish every day with my mom.  We are both widows now, and my son is so grown up, at 17 1/2 he is just amazing. Every day is a present in my world, and I am  glad to be able to share a little bit here.  I can’t decide if this is like having a public diary, or just a neat way to share everyday things with friends and family far away. Whatever it is, I like it.

My friend has one, I think he is about 4 now. He is about as goofy as a dog can be. Then my friend Susan has the Doberman Supreme in her dog. Is it the environment? Is it the genetics ? What makes one go in circles checking and sniffing more frequently than not, and the other one such a good dog ? Maybe it is like people, some are great, and some we would give away if given a chance ?  Susan also found the BEST drop in photo linking program, it is called  piccdrop.com. Try it ! Here is one I posted on her blog, it is my Chevy truck reflecting the dusk sunset clouds.  http://www.piccdrop.com/images/1232219770.jpg

Another lovely misplaced early spring day, enjoy !