RIP Misha

Jul. 30th, 2009 07:45 pm
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Learned yesterday that Misha, here being fed by Angela Stanley, along with another slightly older lamb named Elvis, got into something poisonous on the farm and died within hours of each other. In convulsions. Kathy thinks it may have been cherry leaves, but there's no way of knowing.

Reposted with kind permission of Phillip M. Jackson

A farmer's life is hard... and I only knew these little critters for a few weeks. I can't imagine what it's like when you're up at 0 Dark:30 in icy sleet helping them be born, only to lose them to some stupid fluke.

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Flickr photojournal of my summer adventure on the farm, as well as sights seen to and from. This is a representative sample of the pictures that were taken. Some of the farm shots are courtesy of Mark Stanley.

This took a while to do, but I promised. Enjoy!
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On the Woad again
Just can't wait to put on the Woad again
The life I've Pict is tending sheepen for my friends
But I just can't wait to put on the Woad again...

Left Gap Mills today around 2, amidst the most mixed of feelings. Much done, so much left to do and undone because time ran out. But there's always another time. Now my family awaits me in Salt Lake, and I hope to get back before my Daughter takes off to parts far, far South on a grand adventure of her own. I pray for her safety - she wants to wend her way down into Central or South America, and I will send her blessings of Godspeed.

Many, many thanks to all my friends for the warm Birthday greetings - I shall find some appropriate means of celebrating. I have many trinkets and gifts coming home with me, so I feel not at all neglected as I travel through the beautiful countryside.

Life is good. If I were any better, I'd have to be twins.

Saga's End

Jun. 14th, 2009 04:14 pm
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The farm experience tapers off gracefully to a close. There may be a few more days, or not - remains to be discussed with the folks when they get back. I write this as I'm sitting in Charleston airport, waiting for their flight from Chicago - and I hope they had a wonderful time.

By the holy skull of Mogg's grandmother, I have stayed healthy. I completed my list of things on the farm that I wanted to accomplish this morning, just before leaving for the airport. There's enough left to keep a farmhand busy for two years, but I got the biggest rocks out of the way.

Finished the basement last night about midnight. Shovel, hoe, rake, hose, wet-dry vac - all were used in abundance to bring the place back to some semblance of normalcy. This morning I posted The Old Wolf's 10 Commandments above the door, one of which read "Thou shalt nevermore allow the basement to become the Abomination of Desolation, such that when the farmhand hath finished cleaning it, he must needs go shovel manure as a Pleasant Diversion." I still wouldn't want to eat off the floor, but at least going down there is not like a descent into Bolgia 10. And a check mark for Saturday.

Chatted with several good friends on the drive down to Charleston - makes the time go a lot faster. One blessed angel sent some See's candy to the farm to help overcome the stress of chasing sheep and being constantly assailed by - to put it charitably - an elderly lady who's just a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. And it did the trick nicely, too.

Today is the last day of my 58th year on this backwater planet in an obscure arm of the galaxy. I was reflecting just the other day that I now have a clear memory of half a century's worth of triumphs, tragedies and progress. All it makes me think as I review the incredible developments I have been privileged to witness is, "What will my granddaughters see in their lifetimes? Unimaginable things."

Life is good. If I were any better, I'd have to be twins.


Jun. 12th, 2009 05:04 pm
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I have spent the day mucking out a basement that makes Shelob's lair look like Martha Stewart's pied à terre by comparison. The gods of West Virginia must be angry with me - it's been raining on and off all day, and as I got to the landfill with my second load, the skies unzipped - it was like a torrent. Soaked and muddy, I got to the landfill office, and the skies broke and the sun peeped out... Yarg!

Rewarded myself by visiting the China Palace - it was a good supper, groan belch groan. Hope I don't catch my death from the air conditioning, because I'm still wet.

Very little time left on the farm...
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So, mathematically speaking, the equation balances.

Got some good work done around the farm today, but the afternoon was the pits. Loaded up the truck with a ton of crap for the landfill, drove 30 miles to Lewisburg only to get to the dump at 4:15 and find out that they closed at 4:00. Yes, I do hate government, thank you for asking. Sheesh.

By this time it's started raining buckets, so I drive home in the deluge - stopped at WalMart to get some replacement wiper blades for the truck, which helped a lot - and got back to feed the critters in the downpour. Sheep don't like to move when it's raining - took me twice as long as usual to get them back into the paddock.

Went to repair a gate that had popped of its hinges and found I had one too many sheep on the lawn - had to chase one back to the other side to keep my count straight.

Was supposed to take the sheep with a sore leg to the vet again tomorrow morning at 8:30 - had to reschedule so I can unload the truck tomorrow morning before taking him in. Never a dull moment.

Saw no cows today. I'm tired, soaked, and hungry. About to go home and fix myself some farm-fresh scrambled eggs for supper. The clock is ticking down - only three work days left before the landlords come home, and still a huge project left to finish.
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The animals need to be fed morning, noon and night. If you're not there, they go hungry. Feel like sleeping in? Hungry animals. Feel like taking a day off? Hungry animals. I don't know how full-time farmers do it.

Hats off to those who grow our food.

Got the lamb with the broken leg in to the vet yesterday to get his cast off. He's got some pretty mean cast sores on his leg, so the vet dressed the wounds, put a bandage on and told me to keep him clean and dry for a couple of days and then bring him in again. Repaired a gate on a shed area and turned it into a lamb hospital - cleanest and driest place on the farm I could think of. Hope the little guy does well.

Partly cloudy and some sprinkles in the Cove today, but that helps keep the heat down. It's starting to warm up. Taking care of the farm would be easier if I weren't also "taking care" of the farm wife's mom - nice lady, but a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic. I answer lots of the same questions over, and over, and over... But we get along just fine. Ever see Guarding Tess? "Yes Ma'am". "Yes Ma'am". "Yes Ma'am". Works like a charm.
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The farm day is done. The laundry - lots of it, all covered with mud and other unmentionables, is humming.

This morning I saw Mark and Angela Stanley off, and by now they should be back home. Better people do not exist. I greatly appreciated Mark's engineering expertise, his facility as a sheepdog (go! go!), his wicked sense of humor, encyclopedic knowledge, and his willingness to work - as well as his mindboggling generosity. Angela enjoyed taking care of Misha, the bottle-baby lamb, and helping in any other way she could. She is a gentle soul and supremely giving.

The last 11 days have been a joy, and I'm most sorry to see them go. We parted with a lovely breakfast at the Kalico Kitchen in Union, and then I was able to take advantage of the library's wireless to get caught up on some things.

Agatha, or sick sheep,has reached the end of the line. After reporting to the farmer, she decided it was time to have her put down, as she has been having difficulty for years. Frank, a good neighbor, will come over and take care of it tomorrow for us.

Honey, the killer chihuahua, danced with a baby possum tonight. I wanted to get a picture of it, but by the time I got back with my camera, the beastie had escaped. It was so cute...

Along with four other dogs, Kathy and Scott own a rescued border collie named Princess. With a little training, she would be a first-class sheepdog - she has all the right instincts. This evening I walked the dogs in a light drizzle up to the upper pasture looking for the sheep which had not come down by themselves. They were scattered all over. I simply told Princess, "Round them up! Take them home!" And she did just that. She got them all into a cluster, rounded up the strays, and sent them down the path toward the house. Good dog. Good dog.

Later I came back and drove the perimeter looking for the cows, but saw no trace - saw all 5 plus the calf yesterday at noon, so at that point all was well. Hope they show tomorrow.

The weather has been wet for the last two days. Sun is predicted for tomorrow - I hope they're right. It's Farmer's Day in Union, and I'm hoping they have good weather for their big parade and all the festivities. I'm not sure if I'm going in or not, but I think I probably will - and then I need to take my car into a shop in Lewisburg and have the oil changed.

A good day draws to a close with peepers and bullfrogs singing in the pond, and fireflies dancing in the dark.
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The last three days have been a blur.

Daily chores include walking, chasing down and feeding five dogs; bottle feeding 1 calf and 1 sheep 3 times a day; feeding chickens and 1 satanic pigeon, collecting an egg or two if there are any (last two days there haven't been, don't know if she's not laying or has found a different place to hide her eggs); letting sheep into the pasture in the morning and bringing them back at night (Mark is an excellent sheep dog); feeding the neighbor's horses once a day; caring for three caged birds; feeding wild birds; checking 5 cows for any new births (none so far); doing what repairs the weather will permit (it rains often and without warning); and handling any emergencies.

Monday night while hunting for cows we came across a sheep that couldn't stand. It took two days for the vet to get out to the farm, so we basically had to bring her down from the upper hayfield in a jeep, find her a comfortable spot in the shade, and bring her food and water as she would accept it. The vet says she's ancient, has a dislocated shoulder and probably a brain abscess. He gave her an antibiotic shot and told us to keep her comfortable. She may get better, and she may not. Yesterday she wouldn't eat or drink, but today she takes water and will eat grain and hay. She still can't stand on her own - only time will tell. I hope she recovers, but I wonder what one does with a dead sheep... I mentioned our lamb with a cast, he looked at it and said it might need to be removed earlier than thought. Also mentioned a lot of the sheep seemed to have footrot (a lot of them are limping) and recommended penicillin for them. Kathy puts this green copper solution on their feet but by the holy skull of Mogg's grandmother, I'll be dipped if I know how she catches them to do it.

Sheep are surprisingly smart when they want to be. The more I'm around them, the more I see that for "dumb" animals, they can be inventive and devious.

Our biggest challenge is the horses Kathy is boarding for a "friend". Her fences are not designed for horses, and they seem to be able to go anywhere they want in spite of our best efforts to keep them in the fields around the house. The foal seems to have a small cut on its foot above the hoof, which may have come from getting over, under or through fences, but it doesn't look serious. I do worry because there's nothing we have done that has been able to contain them, but they keep coming back so I know they know their way around. I can't remember if I mentioned that one of them bit me the other day - we were trying to work in the carport where there's a mitre saw, and I was trying to shoo her out of the way. She whipped around like lightning and nipped my shoulder. No damage, but her speed surprised me. She lost a goodwill point for that one.

Mark and Angela have to head home on Saturday. They are the best people, having them here has been an absolute joy, and I shall miss their company.

It's difficult to get online here with all that's going on. I'm amazed Kathy manages to get a comic out three times a week with all the work there is to do. Large kudos to her.

More as circumstances permit.
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Up early to feed the beasties so we could make it to Church on time. Brutal thunderstorm at 2:50 last night, but by the time we got out, the rain had passed. Grateful for small blessings.

Animals cared for and meetings in White Sulphur Springs very enjoyable, especially since my friends were able to attend with me. After meetings we had lunch at Carlito's in Lewisburg, ate a beef quesadilla and a tamale, and way too many chips with salsa groan belch groan.

Back home where we isolated and repaired all remaining leaks in the bath house, but found the commode cracked - it will need to be replaced. Reassembled bath house

Note to farm wife:

Drain the effing lines before October this year

Took dogs for a walk. No cows to be seen. Lose giant Dog From Hell. Return to farm, feed remaining dogs, return to look for giant Dog from Hell. Find giant Dog from Hell, 5 cows and 1 calf. No new arrivals.

All animals fed, and safely tucked away for the night. Much work to be done tomorrow.
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Farmers leave today for Hawaii - many instructions gone over and things should be well in hand. I just hope the animoles don't get sick or require urgent medical attention while they are gone.

Dialup connections profanity blasphemy censored blasphemy grumble snarl yarg

Rain blasphemy profanity snarl yarg censored
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1) Dialup = pain. Makes it hard to keep up with friends' pages and comments, let alone read graphic-intesive webcomics. Yarg Enough said.

2) Lots of rain this week. Much mud to squelch through.

3) Had a delicious beef roast tonight. It's the first time I ever ate someone with whom I was on a first-name basis. Here's to Vicky of blessed memory!

It's good to be here. Friends: Even if I can't comment on your offerings as much as I would like, I think of you kindly.
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Rain. Mud. Dung. Grease. Greenery as far as the eye can see. Injuries upon my hand, where the one-eyed demon pigeon has already vented his fury. Already hunting invisible cows... not helped by the fact that you could almost put this one in your pocket. She's so tiny - Patience is the orphan calf, last daughter of Daisy of blessed memory. She can hide anywhere, and yesterday evening gave Kathy quite a scare before she was located hiding behind a hay bale. She needs to get a bit bigger so we don't worry that she's escaped through a hole in the fence somewhere, or has been carried off by an owl.

This is the farm. Glorious!

Making banana bread tonight.
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Road Trip!

I rarely mention mittens, or use names that start with 'X'. But having mentioned mittens, I must leave at once for other lands. (A large bowl of Haggis for those who catch the reference).

My youngest son and I will be leaving Friday to drive from Salt Lake to New York via I-80/90, with a dip down to Gettysburg for some Civil War tourism along the way. It's been four years since he and I have been able to do a road trip together, and I'm looking forward to this one immensely.

I'll drop Michael off in NYC where he has friends, and then continue up to Portland, Maine to see a beloved aunt, and finally down the Eastern seaboard towards Gap Mills, West Virginia, where a 180-acre sheep farm demands my attention until Mid-June. I hope to be able to visit with many friends and relatives along the way also - but my presence on the net may be curtailed as they don't even have cell service up in them thar hills... dialup connection is painful, and the nearest hotspot is like 20 miles down the road

I'll report when I can. Email to my Gmail account will still be checked regularly.



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