Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Great Teddy Bear Rescue

So, do you remember the Thrift shop excursion I had in July with my friends?
We thought it would be funny to set my Thrifty Teddy Bears in down near the quiet little creek in a chair and see what occurred when wildlife walked by.

And we got some interesting results.


The rain was predicted to go north and I'd been down to see the bears and the creepy doll we'd set up in the chairs that afternoon.

Then the storm shifted and ...

I kicked myself for not anticipating the waters and had left the toys on their own...

After the waters receded from our creek, I decided to take Dixie for a look see.
Most of the main roads in our area were closed because of high water anyway so I really couldn't go anywhere really.
Hiking seemed like a good idea.

Below is what the area looked like after the waters went through. I am shooting towards the top where I had stood the day before looking down.

Dixie was more than willing to go on an adventure.
I left Charlie at home because I didn't know how much mud, sticks, logs, and other items I'd have to climb over.

Dixie is a great hiker, she never goes far and I never have to wonder where she is off too.

This spot was choked with Jewel Weed and other plants just a few days before.

So on we went.

The water had laid down all of the tall grasses as it swept through the area. The creek changes with each flash flood. Sometimes the changes are large and sometimes very minimal.

This wasn't the worst flood, but it did change things drastically. Maybe not to the casual observer, but I have hike this route for 20 plus years and know each boulder, rock, and formation by heart.

This rock is gone...or it is covered...or turned over...but I miss 'him' I called it Old Man Rock.

A sandy 'beach' is new by the place where we have the Ice Wall each winter.

This was filled with so many rocks it was difficult to walk over...

Dixie and I kept our eyes peeled. Well, Dixie's nose was working over time. Both of us smelled a dead animal somewhere close by.

I spotted something that didn't look like sticks...

I saw the blue ribbon and was rather surprised.

I wonder if the Teddy Bear was as relieved as I was!

Actually I'd figured that I'd never find him/her in this long valley. I picked it up by the ear and kept heading downstream.
I found the Beach Chair just a bit further down. It seemed unharmed but stuck under a log.

I'd wait for the Gang to show up to help me dig it out.

Just prior to getting to the snowmobile trail, I saw a spot of blue. And I thought that NO way could this plastic chair be in one piece.


It was. I plopped the Teddy Bear down on the chair and turned to leave. Dixie and I were going to walk to the end of the valley and I'd pick the chair and the bear up on my way back.

I don't think the Teddy Bear was too happy about that.

We found the snowmobile crossing. Hmm. They may have to re route this year.
I'm standing in the spot where the culvert is. I am about 5 feet below the crossing.

I found the culvert downstream.

Dixie and I walked alongside the creek and kept our eyes peeled.
We didn't find the other bear nor did we find the creepy looking doll.

We did find bottles, part of a plate, part of a bread wrapper, some dead trout, and a lighter.
Odd the things that show up after a flash flood.

We headed back home where I gave the Teddy Bear a nice bath in the creek.

I set him high on the bank in the sun to dry.

Smart Bear.

Do not sit in the creek or right on the edge ... even in a dry season!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Water. Roads Closed. And Stuff.

When I moved here in 1996, I realized that this was a place of steep hills and valleys and little streams that twisted through the landscape.

Our place is in somewhat of a 'hollow'. It isn't on the ridge, it is about 100 feet or so below the ridge. Travel another 250 feet down and you can be at our creek.

A lot of bad weather seems to like to stay on the ridge and the flooding occurs in the bottoms so we have hopefully achieved a happy medium. Well, we thought so in 2007 when we had historic rains and then heavy winds.

We had 19" of rain in three days and then the winds blew. We lost hundreds of trees. In this photo I counted 43 trees blown over or damaged.
Again. We were lucky and our animals were fine as well as our house.

The line attached to the tree is my clothesline on the same tree still.

Well that is neither here nor there.

Monday morning I awoke with a start as I hear a huge boom that shook the house. Well, that isn't even right, I awoke and then it ... the sound made me stand up right out of a deep sleep. Lightening was flashing. I figured there was a strike close by.
So I fumbled around and unplugged everything. Sort of like shutting the barn door after the horses have left. The storm raged on. I got up for a while and checked the radar and weather.

In the morning when I stepped out to let Charlie do his business, I felt something was amiss.
So I tossed my boots on and walked to the shed.

One of the old honey locust trees must have gotten struck by lightening.
A huge branch and come down and crushed two corral panels. I think I muttered a few cuss words quietly and reached down to pet Charlie.
Charlie looked up at me with that goofy face of his and I smiled.

My Electric braid fence was down in more than one spot. As miracles seem to happen all of the time on our farm, not one animal was injured or missing.

Splinters, shards, or perhaps even Tree Shrapnel was spread in a 360 degree area. Far and wide it was....

Tree shreds were stuck into the ground up to the depth of 6 inches. I even found a piece that had electric line embedded in it. The line was not damaged.

So after accounting for the animals, checking to make sure the fencers were not blown, and making sure that the power in the shed was still on, I started to gather tools and get to work.

I am not the master of electric fences, I will admit that. I will make mistakes and go back over things until I have it right. I felt it was a cruel joke on me that I'd finally gotten the fence to exactly where I wanted it, when this storm came.

Now I had a new challenge. Fix and restructure the fence. I took the opportunity to redo some fencing. The cattle wouldn't be on this section of land anymore so why not just do it?

I'm also somewhat of a believer in reusing what I can. So I made the fence 'hot' again to the rest of the farm after checking on the mules and Dexters. Next was the riddle of WHY would the fence not read 'hot' around the tree? It took me a long while and I probably even fixed things that did not need fixing.

Eventually it dawned on me. Lightening.

I stopped and had a PB&J. My grandson Dennis came out to see what I was doing. I finally figured it out.

The electric braid rope wire had been attached to the tree by insulators. The lightening exited the tree in more than one place. I peered closely at the braid enduro soft braids. I felt them. All the internal wires had been 'blasted' outward. The electric braid rope fence felt like a porcupine.

Yep, I felt like Einstein for a moment. Then I realized how darned hot and humid it was and how much work I had to do yet. I showed Dennis the rope and let him feel it gently.

I took down some other fencing and used that to replace the ruined wire.

When all was done, I had mostly working fencing. So I let the mules back into the area to clean up the locust leaves.

The mules did the cleaning and I smiled. It had been hot and horrid.

The grand kids went home with their mom and I dropped into bed after doing some timed exposures of the night sky.
Another storm was brewing and it was supposed to go North of us.

Rains. Lightening, rain, thunder...I got up and checked on Charlie and the house. The rain was pounding, my cell phone blinked with a weather warning alert.
Flash flooding.

Oh here we go again, I thought. I stepped out onto the porch and decided it to try and go back to sleep.

I was startled awake.
I had no idea why.

I peered outside while warming up a cup of coffee.
The sky looked like it would produce an incredible sunrise.
So Charlie and I grabbed the camera bag an headed out.

I stopped.
There it was again.
The something IS wrong.

The exploding tree had lost another section.
And again. No animal had been harmed.
I tied Charlie up and went to check on my other creatures.

The sky was amazing.

And the mules were just fine.
I touched everyone and said good morning to them.

And then I set to work and it wasn't even 6:30 AM.

I got the fence re adjusted and back in service within 30 minutes.

I read the Sheriff's report and discovered that nearly 43 roads had been closed in our county due to mud slides or water over the road.

After running an errand to town [I stayed on the roads that keep to the ridges], I got home to watch another 4" come down in 3 hours.

I checked the animals and all were accounted for when the rains let up a bit. I walked to the creek and before I got around the last bend, I could hear it roaring.

The chairs I'd left down on the bottom were gone. Swept away by flood waters.
As I hiked back up the hill the rain came down in unbelievable amounts.
The pasture became a stream of its own.

And in the distance, you can see the mules coming to check on me.

I assured them I was just fine and they escorted me back home.

At 6pm we had 50 roads closed in our county.

Ever hear the saying?

You can't get there from here?

I think it applies tonight as another round of steady rain pours down.

Monday, August 27, 2018


"It's foggy as pea soup Charlie, nothing out there to really see."

Charlie went back to the door and bounced up and down. He made his funny little grunty whining noises. Odd to get used to his type of communication after so many years of Morris's very direct demands.


Charlie didn't understand the Fine...or the "Wait a doggone minute."

I grabbed my camera bag and tossed it over my shoulder. I opened the door and Charlie went out on the porch and turned around. As if to say, "Hurry up."

I grabbed his little black cord and attached it to his collar. Charlie took off at a bouncy run for about 40 feet and then stopped to see if I was coming.

Sigh. Bossy Little Dog!

I started out towards the neighbor's place on the ridge and Charlie charged ahead.

From a certain spot on the ridge the perspective of the road gets interesting.

I took the shot with the fog coming in and called out to Charlie.
He came on the run. I swear he was smiling.

We headed out to the corner to 'see' what we could see. The fog wasn't too bad and perhaps we'd be able to see the sun come up through it.

Then things quickly got foggier.

It was like the world past 100 feet had disappeared into grey matter.

"Charlie!" I called to him. He trotted back to me and I glanced towards home to see how foggy that was.

out of the fog we got a visitor...

One of the neighborhood dogs. We call him the Nagel Dog. He wandered onto the Nagel farm one day years ago and has stayed ever since. He can often be found trotting down the gravel road. He is never aggressive or a nuisance. He is quite aged and very friendly.

He and Charlie gave each other a once over.

Then Nagel Dog disappeared into the mist.
Charlie would have followed except I said "NO!" and stepped on his cord.

I turned and headed towards home. Charlie trotted in front and stopped to smell interesting things on the side of the road. The fog just seemed to creep in heavier.

By the time we got to the mailbox, it was very thick.

The only sounds were those of my chore boots crunching on the gravel as I headed down the long driveway towards home.

Charlie was wet, Charlie was happy.
After I toweled him off, he jumped up on the couch and went to sleep.

Our day had officially begun.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Sundance Day 3

Now I don't have a lot of photos because basically I have my attention on Sundance and Sundance only.

Consider this. I want the training to go quietly and without much excitement. I don't want her just to accept what I am doing and be very ho hum about.

Yes, eventually we will be in the woods and on trails. But that is where I want her to have it in her head that she can still be calm.

The blanket was an issue again. I walked her into the round pen and let her loose. I grabbed a brush and began to groom her. She stood quietly. I then tapped her feet and asked for 'give it' and cleaned out each hoof.

I consider this pretty good. Rich used to be able to be the only one to handle her feet and she wanted to 'shake hands' with you and pull the foot away. She even gave our farrier some issues one time. I dislike that in an animal.
So before I get on my soap box of how there is no excuse for not being able to do hoof care...I will change the subject.

I grabbed the Big Black Blanket and approached. She stepped away and flinched. I let her stand and then approached again. She didn't turn her head but watched me anyway.
I stood far enough away that I had to toss it.

She bunched up as it landed cockeyed on her back. And then played statue. So I walked up and let my hands do the complimenting and I spoke very softly. "You are a good girl."

I stepped away from her and walked to the middle of the round pen. Sundance thought about it. She stared at the gate. Fred was screaming out for her. It was almost as if she made a decision.

She walked to me.
I rearranged the blanket and asked her to walk around the round pen. I asked her for a direction change and a whoa.
She did it nearly perfectly.

I stood. She stood. She looked at me and then looked away.
Finally she sighed and walked up to me again.

Again. More gentle hands on her and sweet little murmurs.

"Would you like something new?" I asked.
Sundance didn't answer. She just watched me with quiet eyes. She was diggin' the attention.

I showed her Sunshine's & Fred's bridle. She smelled it. I took my time and put it on. Gently over the ears, gently the bit went into the mouth. I adjusted it so that she could play with the snaffle bit with her tongue.

It was statue time again.
Note the stuff in the purple sled by the gate. Those are grooming tools a spray bottle. If things get too boring, I pull the sled around in the round pen and Sundance watches from a distance and approaches when I stop.

She will eventually pull this behind herself calmly. At least that is my intention.

Since she was being so compliant, I began to toss other old blankets on her. I was met by the same ho hum attitude.

She did walk around for me and stop and turn while playing with the bit.

I did this for about 20 minutes and then pulled the blankets off. Sundance followed me while I was hanging the blankets back up.

I was sorely tempted to try a saddle, but then decided to do some more prep work.

I hooked up a rein to the right left of her bit and put a bit of pressure onto it. I watched her feet and as soon as she moved her muscles and lifted her hoof, I eased up. After several repeats she anticipated the movement of the rein and sidestepped towards me.

I switched to the other side. Sundance was left 'handed'. Of course that made sense from all the years of leading her from the left side. Now on the right side she resisted. I held the rein and waited. I saw the muscles flex in her shoulder and stopped.

After 3 more repeats, she moved her legs and side stepped slightly. I stroked her neck and praised her.

I moved her back to the center of the round pen and took off the bridle slowly, letting her chose how to spit out the bit. More murmuring and more soft stroked on her poll, withers, and neck.

I put the items away while she watched and then we left to take a walk up the driveway together.
She was alert and looked around as if to look for her herd.
I considered separating her for training but since she seemed pretty content with me once she was away from the others, I decided to let her be with the rest of them.

Another boring training session.
I like it.

Next session will involve some of my body language with Sundance. I want to see if I can use a method of relaxation to keep her attention on me and not what is happening outside.
I've used the Horse Stance in Tai Chi before and it works well.
What the heck, at least I will be super relaxed!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Almost Done

It is that time of year again when the garden bursts forth with all the vegetables I'd planted.

The sweet corn is done. I picked the last of it and started to chop down the stalks to toss to the cattle or the mules. The mules make sort work of it and the cattle seem to be a bit pickier about it.

Since my freezer is now stuffed with beef from the 'old' bull, I thought I'd dehydrate beans, carrots, and corn. I have a device that hooks up to my vacuum sealer that allows me to seal the goodies in pint jars.

The jar on the upper right has a mix of carrots and corn in it. In the winter I pop a pint of mixed veggies open and drop it into broth in the crock pot. By the end of the day, the vegetables have re-hydrated and taste wonderful.

The old bull. I think we made a mistake there. His meat is very lean which is good, but then it is more difficult to cook with flavor. I should have just shipped him to market and bought some farm raised beef.
Well, we will see how the roasts do in the crock pot. I had a TBone steak that was slightly okay. I need to see if there is anything I can do to make it more tender.
It is like eating lean venison.

Well hey, I'll deal with it!

The small garden really got ignored this year. Usually I pride myself with being able to demolish weeds with my handy hoe. I guess all the drives for appointments and picking up all the other farm jobs for me, put the garden on the back burner.

So. Rich has been home for about a week. He caught a nasty head cold and ... well, his mood is better. However last night was the first time I got him outside of the house.

His new routine of late has been to sit in front of the laptop and browse endlessly through programs. If he finds something, he sits and watches and doesn't seem to hear or see anything else going on around him.

He went to turn on the laptop to watch Netflix. I had unplugged everything and pulled the old laptop off the desk to work on it.

He looked confused and asked me to take care of it. I said "No, not until we are done with chores and supper."

I handed him his chore boots and he sat a long time on the porch bench before he put them on.
I waited.
He followed me to the shed reluctantly and I grabbed the little garden cart to carry hay to the last bull that we were shipping soon. I pointed over to the hay stack and told him the donkeys needed feeding.
He looked lost.
He stared at me.
I pointed again and he grimaced.
I walked away with the cart.

He did feed the donkeys and when I got back he was standing there quietly staring down at Little Richard's tie out rope that I'd asked him to help me fix. It seemed as though it was too much for him to think about and he murmured that he was heading to the porch.

I checked the donkeys. They were fed, but not watered.
So the infusion treatments had worked for the depression I am happy to say, but the other issues are there and well, frankly, ... I guess I am prepared for that. The old Rich would have noticed the near empty tubs of water.
This new Rich didn't. Or it didn't matter to him.

So last night while Netflix played in the other room, I made and canned beet pickles.

The man I used to know is still fading away bit by bit. It is odd to see him so disconnected with anything outside the house.
He says he has more energy and motivation.

In his head he does. But the doctors had told me, they could perhaps help the severe depression [they did] but not the damage from the strokes.

So the garden work is done except for collecting seeds.
The rest of the cattle will be shipped next week.

The donkeys will leave by the end of September.
It could be an interesting Winter.

Summer is almost done.

Ariel is coming to stay and spend some time on the farm this coming Monday. It will be nice and we are both looking forward to it.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Googly Eyes ~ By Charlie

She grabbed a bunch of things and then paused at the door. I heard the keys things jingle and knew she was going in the car thing.

She tried giving me a ride on the 4 Wheeler which rumbles and growls, I didn't like that at all.
If she walks to that Growly Thing, I run away a safe distance.
I will chase her though as she rides it.
I'm sure the Growler will one day eat her.
I may be small, but I feel it is my duty to watch over her.

Anyway, the keys jingled and I beat her to the door. I'm not always sure what the key jingles mean except I do know that she leaves for a while.

Sometimes I get in my new seat thing she built me and we go to the ridge and watch the sun come up or just hang out and watch the sky. Well, she watches the sky, I smell the scents in the ditch.

Today she stopped at the door and looked at me. I think she was thinking because she just stood there for a moment holding the jingles.
And she stood there...and stood there.
I gave her my big round googly eyes. They usually make her eyes soften and she can't yell at me.

The googly eyes worked.
She opened the door and I followed her to the Subaru. She set up my car seat and blabbered on about ... how it was time I learned to travel with her.
What is traveling?

She then set me in and started the car. She said we were going to town to do some errands and I was going to get 'socialized'.
Ohhh that was a big word I didn't understand. But okay, I was game.
We went to a busy place where big trucks went by.
I got to meet a person she called John. She said he was a doctor of Chiropractic. I have no idea what a Chiro..practical is. But he was nice and I investigated the office and searched for cobwebs in the corners.

I was really worried at the next place. She left me in the car and ran into what she called the Credit Union. Pretty quickly she came running out and grabbed me. She said the girls wanted to meet me.

OH Boy!
She carried me into the building and I met a bunch of people! I wiggled and my tail just went crazy. Everyone had to pet me. I got put on a counter top and ladies all oohhed and ahhed and made nice noises. Then they gave me a dog cookie!
It was a big one too.

She broke it in half and set me on the carpet where I showed all the ladies that I could politely eat a dog treat.

Then I sat down and gave the ladies The Googly Eyes!

I think I melted hearts. I like this Socializing Stuff!

Finally we stopped at a place she called TSC. Tractor Supply Company and she took me through the dog treat section where my nose went crazy. The bone section was best but she said it was too pricey and we headed out.

The manager lady talked to us and said what a Cute dog I was.
I wagged and wiggled.
Then I remembered.

The Googly Eyes!
I looked up at the nice lady and made the eyes.

It works!

I got another treat!

Finally she said we were done in town and I had enough Socializing for one day.

I settled down in my seat and occasionally lifted my head to smell the world going by outside the car.

I was tired.
But I learned something.

I like Socializing.
I'm learning how to train people. And The Googly Eyes really work well for treats.

So I went to sleep on the couch when we got home.

And dreamt about Socializing and Googly Eyes.