Tuesday, June 30, 2009

He and His Shadow

This is Spike's favourite sunny spot, just inside the door to our back deck. From here he enjoys the southern exposure, the mountain view, and the company of his girlfriend Pipsqueak, who often comes to chat with him through the window.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

On The Contrary

On Sunday I harvested a bunch of radishes from the garden, and thoughtfully saved the tops for the goats, thinking that they would enjoy them. I walked over to the paddock, put them in their dish, and found them still lying there several hours later when I did the evening feeding. Today I harvested a bunch more radishes and the goats kept sticking their heads through the garden fence to eat the tops off the ones I had in my hand. Humph.

This morning I was picking cherries before it started to rain and I knocked a couple of leafy, cherry-laden branches off the tree. Once again I walked them over to the goat paddock as a tasty offering, and once again I found them completely intact when I returned hours later to do a little mucking. But when David offers them cherries through the fence they can't eat them fast enough. Humph.

I always thought that cats were the ficklest creatures around, but Pipsqueak will eat any thing at any time. In fact, I think she's considering my edibility in this picture. Humph.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Potluck Pudding

This one is for the Haiku Farm party tomorrow. I would have delivered it in-person, but the thesis, the thesis. AareneX kindly offered to lend me a chapter of her novel in lieu of the Very Scientific stuff that I am supposed to write, but I am too chickenshit to accept. Instead, I counter-offer this virtual rhubarb pudding cake.

If I ever become a real farmer I'm going to be a rhubarb farmer. We have five incredibly healthy plants despite our near-complete neglect. The stuff sells for $3.99/lb in grocery stores around here -- we could be rich! This is a completely simple and completely tasty recipe for you rhubarb lovers out there. As directed it comes out a little bit sweet, a little bit creamy and quite tart -- it tastes sublime when served hot with vanilla ice cream.

- 1 package of white cake mix, extra moist
- 6 cups chopped rhubarb
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 cup whipping cream (don't try half and half)

- preheat oven to 350
- prepare cake mix as per instructions and pour into greased 9X13 pan
- toss rhubarb in sugar...use more sugar if you don't like it tart
- spread rhubarb over cake mix
- pour whipping cream evenly over top
- bake for ~50 minutes until top browned and toothpick comes out clean

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cherry Picking

Farcical Farm is home to one of the biggest sour cherry trees that I have ever seen. It sits right at the end of our septic field and, by the looks of things, it has been soaking up all those good nutrients for at least 30 years.

Not only is the tree large, but it's productive. We don't use the fruit, but it certainly gets eaten. I took the above picture early in the morning because a feasting, squawking raven (not Raven) woke me up. Fallen cherries also get get eaten by dogs, goats and horses. Some other iPhone pictures, because I happened to have it in my pocket this afternoon. First, a shiny black Raven:

Next, a sweet itchy Tonka. The mosquitos have been bearable so far this year (for which Raven is happy) but the gnats have been thick and furious. Poor Tonka has sores on his chest and, of course, his poor itchy willy.

The dogs in the mud room. Today we got rain for the first time in more than three weeks, and the dogs were actually wet when we came in from the morning exercises. Good thing I finally got that new vinyl cover installed on their couch.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Love is Blind

And so is Tilley. We had noticed a deterioration in her vision over the past few weeks and concluded that it was a combination of her cataracts and all the bright sunlight we've been having on the Lower Mainland. Last Friday I left the house early and the dogs stayed in bed until David got up, as per usual. When he sent them downstairs Tilley hesitated and he thought she had hurt a leg. When he called her over she ran right into the coffee table.

David managed to get her to the regular vet, the veterinary opthamologist and home again before I got back at the end of the day -- what a man! All confirmed that she was blind, but none could give a definite reason why. One test ruled out SARD, but there are plenty of other options. Of course the scariest possibility is that some kind of tumor that has cut both optic nerves. The only way to know for sure is a $2500 MRI. We have already decided that we would not treat such a tumor, so that seems like a lot of money to spend for a potentially-definitive answer. Tomorrow I will take her to our most trusted vet in Vancouver to decide on how we should proceed.

In the meantime watching Tilley adapt to her new disability has been remarkable. On the first day she was stressed right out, with her eyes bugged wide to catch the absent light and her feet lifted high over the uncertain terrain. Saturday was a little better, and Sunday a little better again. As of today you simply cannot tell that she is blind. Fetch has to be carefully played (as we are doing in these pictures) so that she can hear the ball go by, but otherwise life goes on as normal. If I call her she comes right to me, sits a foot from me, and looks right at me (or maybe a little off to one side). She knows where the stairs are, where the invisible kitchen barrier is (dogs are not allowed in the kitchen around here) and all of the places in between. She is getting along so well that I keep suspecting that she has regained some vision, but if I toss a ball at her it will hit her square between the eyes.

If the blindness has been caused by a tumor she does not have much time left, but she seems healthy in all other ways so we are most hopeful that something else has gone wrong. Regardless, her quality of life has barely been affected thus far, which is the most important consideration for me. Wish us luck!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Shocking Development

A few months after we bought Farcical Farm we had most of the property fenced, which is an expensive proposition. The "fence" that that came with the place was a mishmash of different materials and appeared quite unconvincing in its purpose. One exception was the line we share with our neighbor to the west -- the posts are smaller than I would like, but uniformly shaped and spaced with five strands of barbed wire, just a bit saggy in places. This is not ideal horse fencing of course, but it is covered with page wire along the back acre, leaving only 300 ft of danger zone, about one third of which sits behind the manure bins. Tonka and Raven aren't wild in the pasture (there are more important tasks at hand) and they don't challenge fences, so it's really a problem from our equine perspective.

Goats, however. Have you ever considered the root of the word "capricious"? It comes from "caprine" and means "goat like". Pygmy goats are the most contrary animals I have ever had the dubious pleasure of knowing. Their sole motivation in life seems to be getting to places where they currently aren't. Five strands of barbed wire might as well be five strands of air where pygmy goats are concerned, meaning that we could never leave Timbit, Morsel and Roland McNugget unattended in the pasture. But that changed last weekend when we finally cleared the fenceline enough (hence the blackberry removal) to establish three strands of hot wire at 12, 24 and 36 inches. Now we can toss them out there with 80% confidence that no one will go wandering (which is much better than 0% confidence). These photos were all taken from the deck with my iPhone because I was too lazy to (1) find my camera or (2) actually leave the deck in the 30+ degree heat.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

How Lazy Can I Get?

I'm sorry to say that FFF will be on my back burner over the coming weeks. The sidebar has always described me as a "graduate student" but I am now pursuing actual graduation, which requires many hours daily in front of the computer. I just don't have the heart to spend even more time on the blog when I could be outside instead. Thanks to the wonder of the iPhone I can read your blogs* on my way to and from campus, but my blog is going to suffer a little.

That said, tonight I want to talk about mosquitoes. They are back, and harassing Raven as much as ever. Right now they are only about between 2000 and 2200, so she spends these two hours pacing constantly around the paddock. I did buy her a nice Amigo BugBuster sheet over the winter, but I haven't been using it because I figure that she can use the exercise. How lazy is that? I will definitely start using it when they are eating her alive, but right now they are just pissing her off.

About Raven: I wish that I could give you all good news, but I can't. We had Kerstin out a couple of weeks ago (I am waiting to get Tonka's x-rays by email and you can rest assured that I will blog about those) and she feels that Raven may be rideably sound again with corrective shoeing. I think this is overly optimistic given the changes I have seen over the past six months. On Sunday I was watching her nap through the window and her right fetlock was practically touching the ground behind her right hoof -- the tendons are deteriorating rapidly. At present she is comfortably pasture sound and that is just fine by me given how little riding I will be able to do this summer (did I mention that whole graduation thing?).

Some days are better than others in terms of her mobility, though the Recovery does seem to help. There are days when I never see her break a walk and days when she tries to kick up the kind of fusses that were commonplace last summer. My philosophy on the situation is a solid "wait and see". She is happy, eating well, and otherwise enjoying life. Maybe if I teach her some spatial statistics she could start earning her keep around here (did I mention that whole graduation thing?).