Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meet the dog pack

My dog pack currently consists of 6 dogs. I've always had dogs, cats and other critters, but especially dogs. I can't imagine life without them. After a very traumatic romantic breakup, I began volunteering at the local animal shelter. I walked dogs, but also brought home many foster dogs and kittens. I'd rehabilitate and assess them, then make them available for adoption. I'd interview the prospective "parents" and choose a family I thought would make a good match. Usually I'd get the dogs which otherwise might be put to sleep and I was particularly drawn to the small and elderly dogs.

Wren, above, was brought to the shelter after her owner died. She was to be put to sleep because she was old and fat. Heck, I'm old and fat and wouldn't want someone putting me to sleep! Anyway, you can see how happy she is - happy to be alive, to be loved, to be outdoors. She's rolling in the grass for joy on a hike. She no longer hikes but still loves to be outdoors with me and the dogs.

Above is another shot of Wren in the backyard by the Rose Mallows. I doubt I'll get any more photos like this because I now have two young dogs who are chewing up the Rose Mallows and/or sitting on them.

The photo above is very recent and is the only one I have which shows all 6 dogs together. It was taken in my living room one morning. The dogs, left to right, are Winky, Wren, Fergus, Casey, Wally and Seamus.

Above is Winky, the one and only. He was to be put to sleep at the shelter because he was snappy. A shelter employee threatened to quit if they euthanized him and said that he knew Bill would take him. I did, and Winky is still kind of snappy so he's with me permanently. He's really a very sweet, happy little dog in spite of his snappy ways.

Little Winky was so frightened that when I picked him up at the shelter to put him in my truck, he pooped all over the truck, over me, all over everything. I guess it really is possible to scare the shit out of someone. We didn't know his name for sure but thought it was King. I began trying him on various names to see what he'd respond to. Not King, not Blacky, not anything until I said "Kingy-Wingy." He liked that, so his name became Winky.

Above is another living room shot showing Winky, Wally, Seamus and Fergus. I included this one because it also shows two of the five cats, Draco and Snoozy. I'll introduce them in another post some day.

Above is Wally who, oddly enough loves to swim, trying to convince Winky to join him. Winky wanted no part of it. This was on a short local hike last summer.

Wally, above, is another shelter dog who was scheduled to be put to sleep for being snappy. He was just fine once I got him home, though. The vet now comments on his wonderful temperament but at one time, the sign on his shelter cage door read "CAUTION - THIS DOG BIT ME!"

Wally and Winky outside the kitchen door waiting to get back inside.

Wally by the daffodils.

Seamus is not a shelter dog. He's a purebred Standard Poodle who I got at 3 months old. He's now 105 pounds and quite the personality. The picture above shows why he doesn't get to sleep in my bed with me.

Seamus being silly with the throw rugs (he believes they are for throwing) with sweet little Wren.

Fergus and Seamus are best buddies and do everything together at all times. They also wrestle nearly all the time when they aren't sleeping. Fergus is a pet shop dog, a cockapoo. I know I shouldn't buy pet shop dogs but no one wanted this one and he languished there for weeks and weeks, his behavior deteriorating steadily. Finally, the pet shop gave me a deal. He's still hyper, but his behavior otherwise is now quite good.

The above photo is my darling Casey, now almost 15 years old. She came from the same animal shelter way back in 1995. She's always been a sweetheart and even now can climb up a mountain with the best of them. Her hearing and eyesight are not what they once were, but she doesn't let it slow her down.

Well, that's the dog pack. Sometimes it feels like I live my life for their benefit. Well, if so, I can think of plenty worse ways to live a life.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Random Farm Photos

I drove up to the farm this past weekend and it's looking good. So good, in fact, that it pains me to think of renting it out. I need to do it, though, in order to keep the bills paid until I can retire. Here's the new look for the master bedroom.And the new look for the upstairs bathroom. It's almost ready to go. For some reason, the toilet doesn't flush properly but Rick will figure that out and fix it.
The first flowering crab has finished flowering and its neighbor has begun. This one is truly extraordinary so I took a close up view also.
And here is the close up view:
Winky and Wren (yes, they are buddies and most often together) sniffing the newly mowed lawn behind the house. Behind them you can see the apple trees and the 16.7 acre south hay field.
Seamus and Fergus (also a buddy pair) behind the house near the flowering crab. That's Denton Road behind them, the gravel road from which the snow plows pushed all the big rocks onto my lawn. Beyond that is my north hay field, 9.3 acres.
Wildlife abounds up there and even though I don't have time to specifically go looking, it's sometimes difficult to miss. There's lots of birds. I now have my beloved Barn Swallows in residence but it occurs to me that there should be Cardinals. I've yet to see or hear a Cardinal. Last weekend there were lots of Canadian Tiger Swallowtails. And while mowing, I saw big footed mice hopping rapidly through the tall grass like Kangaroos. They appeared to be reddish and striped. When I got home I looked them up and discovered they are Meadow Jumping Mice. Now, I studied Mammology in college and thought I knew the common mice species but I must have been sleeping the day we covered jumping mice. They're beautiful, lively, interesting neighbors. I doubt that I'll ever get a picture of one, though, unless I find one dead.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It lies a-moulderin' in the grave

I was on my way up to the farm last Sunday and driving through the town of Lake Placid. I passed a small old rusty sign I'd never noticed before which read simply, "John Brown's Grave." I noticed that it pointed down John Brown Road. I reacted belatedly, but turned around and followed the sign down toward what turned out to be a state run monument, the site of John Brown's farm and grave. In the photo above, a statue of Mr. Brown with a young freed slave. Beyond that you can see the farm house, barn and Adirondack peaks if you click on the picture to enlarge it.

John Brown was an abolitionist who, in the mid 1800s, spent his life fighting slavery. His efforts became more intense until he led an army which killed people in its "war."

Above is John Brown's house, restored to it's original look and period furnishings. The town is called North Elba, but as far as a modern visitor can tell, it's Lake Placid. In fact, you can see the Olympic ski jump towers from the house.

John Brown was hanged for treason and buried near his home in North Elba/Lake Placid. He was and is today considered a hero to some and a terrorist to others. To learn more about John Brown, a good reference site is

The little settlement of North Elba was originally donated for the use of black families trying to make lives for themselves. John Brown came to reside here to live with those he'd tried so hard to help. Above is the farm and barn. You can see a beautiful pond and, in the distance, some Adirondack peaks. What was once considered spare land is now valued as some of the most beautiful in the country. In fact, along John Brown Road are some of the most extravagant mansions in the Adirondacks.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Trip to the Vermont Yak Company

On Tuesday, May 19, I drove to the Vermont Yak Company in Waitsfield, Vt. to see the yaks. I've been talking about raising them but have never actually seen one. I arrived about 11:00 and walked around looking for Rob Williams who was to meet me. I didn't see him and I didn't see any yaks, though the Green Mountains were lovely.

Like in most of New England, this farm has lots of water.

Rob arrived and began by taking me to see his two bottle babies, just removed from their mother to be hand raised and tamed.

And this is Tashi, last year's bottle baby. He was certainly tame.

This is the main herd of yaks, some with babies. They don't come close and don't want to be handled. With those horns, they'll get their wish.

I resisted the impulse to take Vermont scenery photos but when I saw this young female moose alongside the highway, I couldn't resist. I only got a moment to snap her picture and then she joined a large male in the woods. The yak farm has recently had trouble with a moose breaking down their fencing. This young moose-girl made me wonder: If a male moose is a bull, a female is a cow and a baby is a calf, is this young lady a heifer? I don't think so!

If you want a scenic ride through rural Vermont, try route 100. This is a sample. Below is a video clip taken by the Vermont Yak Company of baby Tashi (seen above) when he was a baby running and playing with Rob's daughter. I found it quite charming and one of the reasons I thought yaks would be wonderful:

And a short clip which I took of the Vermont Herd on Tuesday:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Outside the farm house

I'm especially fond of barn swallows and had worried a bit that I hadn't seen any nests in my barn. I'd hate to live without them. They've lived in my previous barns and I've marveled at their intelligence and devotion to family. When I was in college, on a bus headed to an ornithology field trip, I saw a barn swallow hopping around what I assume was its mate, dead in the road. It appeared genuinely distressed and perhaps with an understanding one rarely ascribes to mammals, much less birds. I'm glad that on this past trip up to the farm I learned that I do indeed have barn swallows. I cleaned the trash out of the milk room and closed the door to keep out whatever has been ripping open the garbage bags. This swallow was quite worried and I heard babies screeching within, so I left the door open. There's to be no barn swallow angst on my farm!!!
Well, here is Wren the sausage dog, exhausted from her walk to Sunset Brook even though I carried her much of the way.
Right in front of the house: An big old fashioned lilac.
This is one of two flowering crabs outside the bathroom and livingroom windows.
One lone clump of old fashioned narcissi. Right next to it I thought was a clump of columbine but I'll have to wait for it to bloom to be sure. I know columbine thrives in cold climates and that the former owner left me a cup of columbine seeds she'd collected.
The flowering crab. A very nice thing to see from the bathroom window.
One bleeding heart plant, just like my mother used to have.
And of course, apple blossoms. Any New England farm needs apple blossoms.
These are the apple trees, one of which produced the flowers in the previous photo. The pear tree is to the right of this photo.

Wren and Winky on our walk across the north hayfield to Sunset Brook.
Wally and Seamus on their way up the hill from Sunset Brook. The north hayfield is just above the rise and we'll traipse across it to return to the farm house.
This is proof that Sasquatch lives! No, actually, next to those giant paws you may notice wild strawberry blossoms. I'll have lots of strawberries soon.
Seamus, Casey and Wally crossing the hayfield. Fergus, naturally, is running ahead. Wally and Winky are, just as naturally, lagging behind, undoubtedly hoping I'll give in and carry them.
Wally and Casey enjoying the hayfield. It won't be long before the grass is taller than they are. A neighbor will hay the south field, but everyone's afraid to cut the north field because of all the junk left there by the previous owners. I'll have to wait until I have animals grazing there to find and remove it all.

And a couple of the dogs bouncing through the fields. You may notice that Wally feels the need to pee just to show me he's in no hurry. Fergus, however, has been running in big circles and arrives in the last part of the video clip. Of course there's always the sound of wind up there. Oh for the money to build a windmill farm!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Another trip up to the farm house

The dogs and I traveled up to the farm again this past weekend and found that finally, weeks and weeks later than in Albany, the trees were in leaf and the flowers had begun to bloom. The photo above shows the old fashioned lilac in front of the house. I saw an unidentified thrush there on the last trip, a bird which does not match any in my Peterson's field guide. Maybe if I get to hear it sing some day..................
I spent hours mowing the tall grass and throwing the rocks, some as big as grapefruits, out of the grass where the snow plows had pushed them.
Rick had left me a note on the kitchen table telling me that the ceiling fans in the livingroom (shown above) and the master bedroom were gifts from him and his partner. I was very touched.
Looking out the window of the downstairs bathroom I saw a flowering crab. Now, doesn't that make you want to move to the country?
This is the master bedroom, formerly known jokingly as the purple room. Those are apples and pear trees seen outside the window.
The northwest bedroom is not really as orange as it appears here.
OK, let's begin with what the bathtub looked like before Rick began (above). That's him working in the hall, by the way. I wish I had more and better "before" pictures but I think I only wanted to show the good things.
And now the new tub and shower area, all tiled, clean and and lovely. Of course at the time I took this picture it still needed faucets and handles, but that's now taken care of.
Looking out the bathroom windows across the county road to Ben and Bridgette's barn. The sunsets are visible over there as are their mare and calves as they gather for their nightly hay.
Across the bathroom from the tub is now all sheetrocked and painted.