Friday, September 30, 2016

Happy Pets At Home

Bramble has become almost a new cat since the passing of his old pals, Snoozey and Draco. He's now friendly and attention seeking, though he still believes he's the king of the household:

Daphne and Fergus enjoy cuddling together on the floor pillows:

All five dogs plus tiny Bugsy (by Seamus' rear leg), watching me cook dinner and hoping I'll drop something:

Bramble and Bugsy on the fleecy dog beds. I guess that makes them fleecy cat beds:

Daisy spent sat least a month in the guest bedroom, first with the door locked and then with baby gates blocking the door. Then I opened the door to give her freedom:

And she has now been vaccinated and spayed:

Daisy's very friendly to me, though still somewhat skeptical about the cats and dogs:

Georgette has reached the age where she's gaining weight and spending her days lounging around. Hey, I can relate to that:

Fergus was snoozing peacefully when little Bugsy walked over and curled up next to him:

Group comfort - Seamus, Bugsy and Daphne:

There's the little trouble maker himself, Bugsy:

Bugsy, Fergus and Bramble. Once Daisy feels safe enough to join these community snuggle-fests, she'll be right at home:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Santamont Trail In The Catherineville State Forest - Part 2

The dogs and I were hiking on the Santamont Trail in the Catherineville State Forest, just a few miles from home:

My camera had difficulty focusing because of the dappled sunlight and varied shade and light patches, but the resulting photos were successful in showing how happy the dogs were to be exploring:

We had only been on this trail once before and that was in the springtime. I promised myself then that the next time I'd drive farther in, park and be able to explore farther than my damaged ankles could walk. Alas, I didn't do so this time, but I'll try to come back and try again before hunting season:

I decided that it was time to turn back toward the car and did so without calling the dogs. I wanted to be sure they were watching me. They were, and came running when they realized I'd changed directions:

I don't have a good photo to illustrate it, but I saw a red fox up ahead in the tall grass of the lane. I was alarmed, thinking it odd that a fox would show itself in broad daylight. I also thought it looked darn fat for a wild fox. I quietly called my dogs lest they chase after a possibly rabid fox only to discover that the wild animal had only been my own little red dog, Jack:

So on we went without incident. It was a glorious day to be in the forest with happy dogs. And of course, after a bit of distance, the dogs had less exuberance and needed less crabbiness on my part:

Like travelers on the Yellow Brick Road, we padded on toward our destination:

Instead of the Emerald City, we had the Emerald Forest:

Onward through sunlit woods and mysterious, darkened woods:

Until we found our little car, parked several hundred feet off the road. Five happy dogs piled up into the car, I counted several times to be sure they were all there, and we all headed for home:

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Santamont Trail In The Catherineville State Forest - Part 1

We had another beautiful September morning when I had the time and energy to take the dogs out for some fun, so I called them into the car and we drove off to the nearby Catherineville State Forest:

It shouldn't be difficult to find, but it always is - the Santamont Trail. It's not marked and is just an opening for a small dirt lane through the forest. But I found it, drove in a couple of hundred feet, parked my car and let the dogs out:

As usual, their excitement and energy were excessive, and I spent the beginning of our little hike reining them in. Despite the vastness of wild land, five dogs need to be kept under control and holding on to five leashes is out of the question:

But they know (with reminders) my expectations and soon we were having a wonderful time:

Little Daphne bounced through the forest, wearing a smile:

And then we took off down the grassy lane, just to see what we could see:

I wanted one of the dogs to climb up on this boulder, a glacial erratic, but none of them were interested, so I lifted Fergus up there for a quick photo. I got only this one picture snapped before he jumped down and continued on his way:

This was perfect walking for me with my leg braces and awkward steps. The lane was flat, level and free from boulders, ruts and big tree roots - and yet there was wild forest in every direction. The dogs liked it too:

So we kept on walking and exploring, veering off the trail from time to time to see the sights:

I found these Wild Ginger plants growing in the center of the lane and remembered photographing them last spring when we were here. Alas, I was too early the first time and too late this time to see their bizarre blossoms. In fact, I've never seen Wild Ginger in bloom, but only photos. I made a mental note to come back during June next year. But our little hike wasn't over yet and I'll post Part 2 tomorrow:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Pigeons, Hay Bales, Sunrises, Chickens And Fruit

The fantail pigeons only produced two babies this summer, and both of them died. But then this this lovely bird hatched one squab and fed it carefully:

 It fell to the floor on its second day, but since the parents were feeding and tending to it, I left it alone:

 It began to grow rapidly, sprouting feathers. I am hopeful that this little one will grow up and join the flock. There has been a second baby born since then and it too is doing well:

 A neighbor spent more than a week cutting, tedding (turning it over to dry in the sun) and baling the hay in my north field. I'd already filled the first floor with hay from another field, so my portion from this field went up into the hay loft. Electric bale elevators are marvelous inventions:

 And early in the morning, the parked haying equipment looked stunning in the rosy glow of sunrise:

 Wild blackberries ripened and I didn't even have to go looking for them. I stopped my riding mower and ate these right next to the lawn without even getting off the mower:

 I don't often see the fantail pigeons, the "baby" chicks and the adult hens all together, but some of each were all hanging out by the barn mini-door on this day:

 The eight remaining hens now live full time with the youngsters, though they diverge into two separate flocks the moment they get outdoors:

 I see a lot of glorious sunrises, but this one was the best so far. It was even more colorful that the photo and seemed almost to pulse above the foggy northeast field:

When I rang the bell to call in the cows that same morning, this was the morning sky over the southeastern field, which also was covered with fog. The cows and horses, by the way, refused to come in that morning and I had to wait until late afternoon to give them grain:

 I was taken aback when I saw these berries in my giant Lilac bush. They were on Virginia Creeper vines and perhaps the first time I've seen Virginia Creeper berries - or, more likely, the first time I truly took note of them:

 Some varmint, probably a rabbit, had been gnawing my windfall apples. I finally figured out who was eating them. It was my own hens, strolling beneath the apple trees, with a peck peck here and a peck peck there. I can still feed most of the apples to the cows, but some are so thoroughly demolished that I can't even do that. These were three good, still usable apples:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Homegrown Tattooing And Tagging

One of the things which I've found most difficult is tattooing and tagging the ears of the calves. The tattooing is required for registering them as purebred Red Polls and the ear tag is necessary for me (and future owners) to tell them apart. When Rosella was born two years ago, I walked out into the field and tattooed her ears before she was old enough to object. Alas, that has never worked since, either because I couldn't find where the mom had hidden her calf or because the mom wouldn't leave them alone. This year, Rosella's first baby, Tabitha, was three weeks old before I got her locked in the barn and called the neighbors to come over and give me a hand. This is what Tabitha looked like before her tattoo:

Tabitha was a bucking bronco of a calf and I only was able to slip a rope around her neck and tie it to a steel post. She soon dislodged the post so I moved her to another post:

She continued to fight at the new post so I tried to comfort her. But she wanted no part of it and resisted with everything she had. When the neighbors came over, it took three of us to wrestle her onto the ground and hold her steady:

I applied green tattoo ink to the insides of her ears and then squeezed the tattoo pliers shut, poking holes into the skin with ink in them. I then added a red plastic tag to her right ear and sent her out to Rosella, her mother. She immediately wanted to nurse. There was ink around her eyes, making her look a bit like an alien panda:

Rosella nuzzled her, winding up with green ink on her nose, but the job was done - my own private little rodeo:

I wanted to find an easier way for the next calf, so when Maggie was born, I'd already made a "calf catcher" by lining the hay bale feeder with plastic snow fence and hanging it from the tractor's bale spear. I was ready to go:

When Maggie was one day old, I drove the tractor out to where the cattle were lounging and dropped the catcher over her. I'd brought along a ladder to get me in and out of the ring, so I wrestled little Maggie to the ground by myself and tattooed her ears, adding an ear tag when I was finished. Her mom, Scarlett, couldn't get in and Maggie couldn't get out. It worked quite well. When done, I released her and she immediately ran to Scarlett to nurse. That's why there's milk foam in her mouth:

The poor little thing was a bit traumatized, but I think it was less so at one day old than at three weeks:

Red Polls are great mothers and take good care of their babies. They also have an abundance of milk, which surely helps:

Poor little Maggie was covered with green for a week or so but recovered well:

As the excess green slowly faded, she began to look better and better. She had again just finished nursing when I took this picture, and there was milk foam in her mouth and splattered on her side. Now all the wrestling and rodeo is over, the calves are marked in the required manner and they are free to live a happy life with their mother and their herd: