Saturday, June 27, 2009

How to Talk to your Animals by Jean George

The book should be called "How to Listen to Your Animals" as it is really about that. It does a good job of explaining different domestic animals' face expressions, body language, use of ears and tails and what it all means. By paying attention to the different vocalizations of the animal, valuable feedback into the animal's state of mind can be gained. I found the book interesting and a fun read. However, I did find the chapter on horses to be her weakest one. She had some things right on and some things, not so much. The chapter on birds was interesting as those are the ones I know least about. I laughed a lot in the dog and cat chapters as she was so right about their "language". Yep, that's a cat, alright, I kept saying to myself.
All in all, this is a book worth reading.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Autumn Wind, the First Day--July 1996

The mare, Meg, continued to have no signs of impending birth, so I left her out on the back hill lot with the other horses. She wasn't really due for a few days yet, so it was not a surprise that nothing was looking ready yet.
However, it was a surprise, to come out one hot July morning and see her standing by herself with an extra set of legs behind her. Oh, nuts.
I fed the other horses, gathered up a rope and a grain bucket with grain and headed out to her. I caught her and moved her and the colt into the birth pen. Oh well, better late then never. He looked healthy and fine and had been nursing. Meg was ready to eat and settled in with her feed. I went out for a look for the afterbirth and finally found it way over in the other corner of the 2 acre lot. While looking I also found little tiny hoofprints everywhere. It looked like Meg had taken him on a tour of the entire 2 acres, up and down the hills and ravines.
Later that afternoon, despite having shade, the little guy was not feeling so well and was actually panting. A call to my vet got me draping him in cold wet towels and moving him into the shade and keeping him there. He came out of it and his temperature dropped. My vet, who was in a series of emergency calls, decided that since he perked up so quickly, he could wait until the next morning's scheduled foal check appointment.
Once the sun went down, the colt was frisky and happy again. But I decided to move them into the barn the next day for better sun protection. What an epic that turned out to be.

to be continued

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Mighty Hunting Cat Scores Again

So I'm sitting at the table yesterday when a movement on the kitchen counter, seen out of the corner of my eye, gets my attention. I look and see a really large mouse; except that around here something that looks like a really large mouse is not a mouse but a young rat--a teenager rat. Our rats look like huge overgrown mice more then the classic rat. The teenager rats are bold, audacious and lack good judgment. I just hate it when a teenager rat ends up inside the house as they are hard to catch and very persistent. And they will sit there and flip the finger at me. This one ran across the top of the stove-oven unit and down the vents in the back of the oven. Oh grand, a rat in the working parts of the oven. Within a few moments, it was back on the counter again. I made a run and nearly got it by the tail. I heard it coming back up again and this time went and got the Mighty Hunting Cat and put him on the counter. He heard the rat and waited. He watched and made his move but missed in the confusion of the stove top elements. The rat came back and this time headed towards the other direction and ended up on the floor behind the refrigerator. The Mighty Hunting Cat hunkered down in front of the fridge and waited. He took a dinner break and a potty break but returned to his vantage point. When I went to bed at 9 o'clock or so, he was still there waiting.
Shortly after midnight, I was awakened by cat yowling. It was Summer and he was heading towards the bedroom--"yowl. Yowl. YOWL!" I flipped on the light and in he marched with teenager rat in mouth. Another bad piece of judgment for a teenager rat. I did not know a cat could yowl while holding a rat in his mouth. I petted him and praised him and he went off to the living room to play with his prize. Not much later, he joined the rest of us in bed. The next morning I found the uneaten rat on the floor.
Good job, my Mighty Hunting Cat.
And he does this without the use of front claws as his previous owner had him declawed.
Teenager rats--zero; Mighty Hunting Cat--5 (all that have come into the house)

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Peppertree ate the Water Line

Shortly after moving up here, a pepper tree planted itself and grew and grew. We just left it alone and let it grow. The only problem was that it was right near the water line from the pump house to most everywhere else.
Finally, last Thursday I came out of the tack room to see a pond of water with water bubbling up out of the ground near the tree's trunk. It had happened at last. The tree had busted the water line. I turned off the electric to the pump at the circuit breaker box (can be seen on post in the photos) and called Joe, my handyman. We decided it made no sense to just fix the busted part and it was much more sensible to move the water line. I sent him off with some cash and a list of PVC pipe and parts needed.
The next morning he went and rented a walk-behind trencher (Ditch Witch), which can be seen in the one photo along with its own little trailer, and visited Home Depot for the rest of the stuff. My other handyman, Mike, got up here and they went to work while I was at my store. I got home that afternoon to find a dejected Joe. While cutting trench with the Ditch Witch, he had cut the electric line to the well. It was not only in the same trench as the water line, which we both should have figured ahead of time would be the case, but it was right on top of the water line, which is not the optimal way to do things. The new water line was laid and ready but Joe needed some parts to fix the electrical line.
I was just glad, again, that I have a 4,000 gallon tank of back-up water. It is only gravity flow, but it does give bucket water for the house and my 100 foot hose reaches the horse's water troughs.
The next morning, Joe returned the Ditch Witch, which was well needed as the ground was really hard down there, and visited Home Depot again. By the time I was home Saturday afternoon, all was back in place and running. Mike came out this morning to backfill the trenches.
Just another day in the country!

The photos above show the water line eating pepper tree, the trenchs to move the water line around the tree, the pump house in the background, the ditch witch and the work in progress.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sand Colic

Posting on Fugly Horse of the Day blog comments got me to thinking about sand colic. Our ground is sand, de-composed granite and composed granite. Wonderful stuff, except for feeding horses. In the early years here, I fed psyllium but found that did not work. My vet and I worked out a proceedure for tubing psyllium to each horse about once a year. Then, finally, I was able to get stall mats from a local dealer.
These were 4 foot x 6 foot and weighed about 100 pounds. I could pick one up and drag it into place, but could only go a short distance. But drag them I did, one stall after another until all 8 stalls were done and also the "Alcove" which was the first 12 feet of the aisle that opened to the arena and was fenced off to make a stall. I had my handymen do the run-in shelters.
Once the horses were eating off the mats, we had no more sand colic. There was some maintence involved. The mats needed sweeping off periodically to remove the sand the horses tracked onto them. Rodents burrowed under them and so they needed to be pulled every few years and the floor re-leveled. And the ones in the larger run-in shelters would move and had to be reset as needed.
When I am doing some heavy duty maintence on the mats, I just console myself with remembering scary colics of the past.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Top of Sage Road

Here is the view from the top of Sage Road, heading down to Hemet. The two mile grade is known as St. John's Grade and used to be marked as such on old marks, but not anymore. The origin of the name is unknown.