Wednesday, December 7, 2016

And Then the Sun Came Out

I didn't mean to disappear like that.

There is just noting much beyond survival going on at the moment and it has been so relentlessly dark and bleak that I seem to have lost all my words.

I have also felt the need to avoid computers lately.  I am working on a computer based course that I am finding rather a slog - very similar to trudging through half frozen mud in the deep, dark grey of December.

To add insult to that, the hospital where I work has just "upgraded" the lab software.

Is there any other term so false and misleading as the word "upgrade" has become?

This latest "upgrade" requires yet more time fighting with software so poorly designed and onerous that slogging through half frozen mud actually sounds fun in comparison.

As always, the hospital opted for the cheapest up-front option that will ultimately cost a fortune in lost productivity and decreased patient care.

But I really don't want to talk about the problems of modern day healthcare.  I know I don't have enough words for that - or perhaps too many.

The sun finally made a brief appearance this afternoon and I took some time to walk away from all things computer related to go out and get some reminders of why I am still here.

I will try to keep finding words.  A little bit of sun does help.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Llama Tantrums

Here comes another guest blog from the farm!  

This one involves Bess, the amazing Maremma, and Caterina, the famous guard llama.  

In case you have been wondering, Caterina has been doing great.  She loves the sheep, and she is completely happy and content every day, except for the one day a month when she has to have her shot to control those meningeal worms.  Actually, this only bothers her for the three minutes it takes to catch her and have Kris administer the shot.  Otherwise, Caterina spends all of her time doing whatever she likes, which is mainly wondering around her twenty-five acre pasture when the sun shines or resting in the spacious, comfortable barn with her sheep where there is free-choice, unlimited, beautiful second-cut hay for them to eat, along with buckets of clean water and minerals (of course Caterina has her own special minerals).  

So anyway, Caterina’s life had been perfect until about ten days ago.  Then things all changed with the arrival of the RAM.  

Caterina hates the ram!

The ram is a North Country Cheviot named Shelby (I call him Rambunctious), and I co-own him with a neighbor.

Caterina hates him because he has disrupted her perfect world.  He chases the ewes around, and they sometimes chose to follow him around instead of staying with her.  The nerve of them!!  I mean, it is like your best girlfriend abandoning you to go on a date with a boy!!  
Oh the injustice of it all!  

Caterina has expressed her displeasure in her normal way, which is to leave home.  

She will eat her hay, hang out a bit with the sheep, and then go out in the pasture all by herself, not bothering to return in the evening.  The first evening this happened, I was in a panic!  I was running all over her pasture, which of course involves a big hill, calling her name, but to no avail.  

While I was doing this, the dogs were all eating dinner, so I had no assistance.  Anyway, I really believed that Caterina would eventually return, as it was a cold, snowy/rainy evening.  At that time, we had snow on the ground, and you can imagine the difficulty of searching for a mostly white llama in the dark on snowy ground with a pitifully weak flashlight.  Enter Bess the wonder dog!!! 

I ran back to the house and asked Bess if she would be willing to help me.  Of course, she agreed and took right off up the hill.  She then veered towards the woods, and I mentioned that I had a feeling that Caterina was on the top of the hill.  Bess gave me the how-can-you-be-so-dumb look and continued on towards the woods.  I glanced that way with the almighty-powerful flashlight, but did not see anything and continued up the hill.  Bess gave me the get-back-here-dummy look, and refused to follow me, so I checked that area again. 

Sure enough, there was Caterina!!!  

Of course, we were quite a ways from the barn, and I did not have any halter or rope to lead her with.  I was wearing a tee shirt, sweatshirt, and my Carhart vest.  I removed my sweatshirt, which left me shivering in my tee shirt, and proceeded to tie it around Caterina’s giraffe-like neck.  

Caterina let it be known with a couple of well-aimed spits that this was not the proper method of leading a llama.  I negotiated with her, mentioning that it was now eleven o’clock in the evening, I was freezing, and she probably could use some fresh second-cut hay.  She considered her options and then calmly followed me back to the barn.  

This pattern has repeated for days now.  Mostly I remember to look for Caterina before evening, but if I forget, I just tell Bess to find Caterina, and off she goes!  Things are calming down in the barn, as probably most all of the ewes are bred, and Caterina is adjusting. 

When I put new hay out, which I feed to them in a canoe, Caterina does not let Rambunctious eat.  She spits at him if he comes near, and he has to wait until she is finished before he dares eat.  She has established some baseline rules, and he is learning to obey them.  Just think of all the good she could do in Washington regarding the new administration!

Kris has promised to include some great pictures with this blog posting.  Hopefully there will be pictures of Bess and Caterina, and also possibly SkipTaMaLou, who is absolutely the most wonderful cat in New York State and possibly beyond.  

That’s it for now.  I will leave you with this tasty tidbit of information…Guess what llama is going to possibly have a baby in June?  Yes, and don’t think I had anything to do with it, as she arrived in that state.  I had no intentions of having a baby llama, but Caterina arrived that way, and if it is a girl, Caterina will get to keep her forever!!!!!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

High Wire Act

I've been trying to teach Connor not to go log-walking.  It's not working.

I worry about him slipping and impaling himself on a branch or slipping and breaking himself.

If I see him starting up a slippery slope and I try to call him off though, he comes to me, but he does it by running forward, farther out onto the ledge.  

I have learned that I should just stand still and be quiet.  I have to call him off before he starts climbing or I just become a dangerous distraction.

One should not distract a high wire act.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bleak Friday Shopping

"What'cha doing Emma?"

"I'm waiting in line."

"Ummm, waiting for what?"

"Well, I heard some of you crazy humans spend all night waiting in line for stores to open after this weird Thanksgiving holiday, which I don't understand 'cause why would you only want to be Thankful on just one day a year?  Anyway, I heard about this and, even though it's crazy, I thought I would give it a try."

"Right.  OK.  What exactly are you waiting for?"

"Jeez Ma, that should be totally obvious don't you think?  I'm waiting for the pasture to open and the grass to turn green.  What else could you possibly want?"

"I'm sorry Em, but I think we missed that sale."

"Oh. Bummer.  I guess that whole Bleak Friday Sale thing is just another Internet scam, huh?"

"Yeah, it is, but you know what?  I think I can still come up with a nice Door-Buster deal for you.  Just let me check the hay-shed and see if I can't come up with a good deal for you."

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Winter Wins

I tried, but Winter won the race.  Winter always wins in the end.

With the usual help, I did manage to finish mowing the fields, get the snow fence put up and create a  windbreak for the bees.

Ben always stands a few steps back and watches these little projects.  I think he is trying to figure out how he ended up here with all these crazy people.

I hope this will be enough for the bees.  It is getting quite a test today.

Yesterday, it was 60 degrees and sunny.  Today....

We could get over a foot of snow by tomorrow.

Here on lovely Hellwind Hill, it has already drifted two feet deep.

The herd are all tucked into the barn and are refusing to come out for the duration.

Exercise consists of shuffling from one hay net to another.

It's a good thing that some people around here like snow because enthusiasm is at a dangerously low level otherwise.

Mr. Enthusiasm, what would we do without him?