“Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic; but destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.” William Jennings Bryan

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December 31, 2014

For this last post of 2014 I came up with the idea to post one picture that I took during each month of this year. These twelve (of over 4,300!) aren’t necessarily the best shots (technically or artistically) that I took this year, but these are ones that stuck with me for one reason or another - mostly because they defined a moment that was in some way special to me, like of Louie standing in the rain looking as if he ruled the world on that day, or the frog that was swimming in the pool with my cousin Sara, or taking an afternoon walk with my wife down the railroad tracks leading out of Tuckahoe-  these photographs are all of moments that I was caught up in, rather than ones I was chasing after. 

(Ps. Clicking on the photo will enlarge it )













I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2015! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

When we first moved out to the farm we’d see deer in the back field along the woods line almost daily. It was so common that I began to give them names based on some characteristic so that I could tell which herd had come. There were about three small herds that would come through, each here a few days, then moving on. A few days after a herd left, another would show. Once in a while we spotted a buck among the does, but not very often; never a trophy – usually a button buck up to a four point, and once, a decent sized six point.

They never became a problem. They stayed out of the hay shelter and the garden / CSA field. Mostly they stayed along the edges and grazed the grasses. Sometimes at night they’d come up to the house and nibble down some hosta plants, but it didn’t bother us much. Growing up on a hillside above a small town, the deer reminded me of the ones that came into our backyard in the early foggy morning. As I was getting ready for school, I’d watch from the kitchen window as they nibbled away at our peach trees. That sentimentality was still with me.

And then, without any apparent reason, they all disappeared. At first we thought the hunters may have scattered them, and because in the woods behind us, poaching is common, maybe they either were thinned out or scared out permanently. It is not uncommon to hear gun shots year long, mostly in the mornings and early evenings. A few times over the years our local town “newspaper” carried a story about different families that never go to the grocery store, but grow and hunt their own. I knew one of the families, and their freezer wasn’t very big. It all added up to everyone but the authorities….we always laughed it off.

One evening at an event, I was sitting with a local, seasoned hunter/ trapper who knew the wooded area behind our farm and I told him that for years now I have hardly ever seen a deer, and the herds have disappeared. He told me it wasn’t hunting or poaching, but a virus, which later I found to be called epizootic hemorrhagic disease, which was killing off many of the deer in our area. The state had confirmed a localized outbreak in Tuckahoe, and since there are no curative measures, it would have to run its course. He assured me that the deer population would rebuild itself over the years, and the grocery stores would not be so crowded.

This spring the deer came back. We first noticed a doe and two spotted fawns in the little field off to the side of our house, and not long after, another few does and fawns joined them. Ever since, we have seen this herd almost daily either in the back field, the back yard, or the field beside our place. Over the summer the fawns out grew their spots and their coats turned bronze, and now to winter grey. We also noticed that one of the deer in the group was a young, skittish button buck.

On the east side of the back field there is a fenced in area where I once grew strawberries, but is now taken over with white clover. I never mowed it down, but let it grow high. The deer easily jump the fence and I often see them in there grazing the clover in the late afternoon and early evening.

But this new herd, unlike those that came years ago, found my garden and CSA field too tempting. Late at night they have jumped that fence too, and the past month they have eaten two rows of strawberries, the tomatillo plants, and have left the pepper plants leafless – empty green sticks pointing to the sky. Luckily it is at the seasons end, and I can handle the losses. I covered the strawberry plants for the winter (a few weeks early)  to protect what is left of them. Over the winter and before next spring, I will need to figure out a way to keep the deer out, as I am afraid they will leave me with nothing left to sell. I am not sure if a higher fence will do. I rather doubt it, as they can jump almost anything, even from the standing position. They can go straight up and fly forward seemingly without hesitation or any extra effort.

All in all, and even though they are beginning to cause me some trouble (this morning they were eating the last of the leaves from my apple trees!), it’s good to see them around again. It’s not a good feeling when any kind of wildlife disappears.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

October 12, 2014

I took this picture a little while ago and have since watched these same chickens follow Lou through the pasture almost every day, circling his head, sometimes staying close on his blind side, and snatching bugs that are stirred from the grass as he sweeps his mouth side to side, tearing off the green blades.

At first I thought the chickens, being so small compared to Lou, were a bit daring to be near him. Only weighing a few pounds, unseen on his left side, and simply one step away from eleven hundred pounds, they were taking a chance. Now I am not so sure.

Lou doesn’t mind the chickens coming near him like Pats or Zips do. Zips especially will lower his nose to their level and chase them, as if he’s the ball and the chickens are the pins - we call it chicken bowling. On the other hand, Pat will stomp a foot a few times to warn them not to come near. It’s as if these two are protecting their territory and are never in the mood to “share the grass”. Lou doesn’t care how close they come to him and maybe there is good reason.

I think that the chickens offer Lou some protection on his blind side. If something were to come up on his left, the chickens would most likely alert him naturally by scattering or clucking. We don’t have horse predators here, but Zips and Pats sometime like to chase Lou for fun since he’s older and half sighted, making him the beta of the herd. I don’t doubt that Lou has learned that when the chickens start to scramble, one of the other horses, or maybe something else, is coming up on his blind side.

On the other hand, I think that the chickens have come to trust Lou, sensing he isn’t likely to stomp at them or take up chicken bowling, and besides scattering bugs, Lou is a shield and shelter from scavenging hawks looking for easy pickings.

Thinking of it in these terms, I discarded the idea that their relationship is a coincidence. I am beginning to think of it as a natural relationship benefiting them all, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Friday, September 5, 2014

August 5, 2014

The dryer broke the other day and it’s so old that the repairman said the parts have been discontinued, but he’d see if he could locate them through his contacts and over the internet. Meanwhile we will not have a clothes dryer for the time being, and most likely we will need a new one. It can only break so many times, and there are only so many parts left out there in the ether.

So this morning as the sun was pushing up above the trees I was out hanging wash on a clothesline. It brought back memories of when my mom had an elaborate umbrella clothes line contraption that consisted of a pole with rows of lines between arms that reached out from the top center. My mom could turn it so that she never had to move, bringing the next set of empty lines to her.  It worked out well, especially for a family of six.

Our line is a bit simpler – a poly coated green line stretched between two trees, about 25’ long. We are only two people, so we don’t really need a whole lot more. And to be honest, I don’t know if they still make the umbrella like contraptions anymore. One thing I did notice was that the wooden clothespins we just bought were made of less wood and lighter springs than my mom’s of years ago. Back then hers were made to last; these clothes pins, after two days, are popping apart and also don’t have the spring power to clamp things down! Oh well. I should know by know that in America cheap is the quality people want.

While I was hanging up the bath towels, socks, shirts, etc I was reminded of a poem I once read years ago about how one could tell what kind of sex life a person had by the type and colour of underwear they hung on the line…it wasn’t a “dirty” poem, but one of  descriptive observation. Actually it was sort of deep. There were a lot of metaphors throughout the poem, but that’s not where I am going to go with this.

I think that if the poet had looked at our clothes line she wouldn’t have found much inspiration, and I sorta laughed to myself. I think if we did have hammocks and thongs and things we wouldn’t put them on the line for everyone to see anyway…I guess she was seeing an extroverts wash when the words came to her!

About the only thing one can tell about our wash is that fashion isn’t a big deal to us, and that we don’t much dress to go anywhere. Except for a few colourful pairs of socks, we just have plain stuff, most of it farm and animal stained, thread bare because we do not throw anything away until our underwear shows. I should say until our plain underwear shows!

So I am thinking that what we need to do is to hit the dollar store and buy the most bizarre and colorful underwear we can find and just hang it out there with a riding crop for the nosey world to see!  That will give the neighbors and visitors something to wonder about for a while…or the two of us 50 something’s may get a poem of our own. Or at least some funny looks!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

August 3, 2014

My most often mouse clicked prompt might be the “skip this ad” button that clears off the ads on most every You Tube video. I imagine that there are some persons who don’t mind the advertisements and to others they might even be helpful, yet I feel my space has been trespassed without permission. I didn’t invite these annoying neighbors into my home – they walked into the front door on their own without knocking. At least for now I can ask them to leave, and most do.

For a few years I have toyed with the idea to write down every ad that I see in a day, just to see how many I am exposed to. I would include advertisements from TV, internet sites, billboards, print, radio, email, mail, and on and on. The sources are unlimited. Ads and persuasions are everywhere.

I have actually started this count a few times on my way to work in the morning, only to realize how big this project really could become. Just looking at signage along the roadside I have seen up to 15 or more advertisements in the first few minutes and first few miles. If I turned on the car radio at the same time, counting would get out of hand. I haven’t come up with a way to record the ads I see and hear fast enough to write them all down.

With all the types of media that are available today, it’s impossible to live a life without persuasions. Of course, in some cases, as with Pandora Radio, one can pay a monthly fee to listen to music ad free- of course, this is advertised too!

When one really begins to pay attention, it’s hard to find a space on earth that isn’t filled up with something to grab your attention. Even here at the farm, thinking I am alone weeding between rows, the banner planes are flying over.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 5, 2014

Before vegetables and horses and goats, but not before chickens, I grew daylillies and a few other types of perennial flowers here. I  put them on a stand out on the highway to sell them based upon the honor system - take a plant, leave the payment in the "bird house" payment box. It only half worked - people did take the plants, but...

Trying to be as Quakerly as I could I stayed with it for a few years believing that there were enough honest people out there in the world and I could absorb a lost plant here and there...but one day I walked out to the stand and every plant was gone and the "birdhouse" payment box was empty.

To this day I will never forgot the empty feeling that was left inside of me.

I kept a few of the daylillies, cone flowers, and black eyed susies and planted them around the house in different beds. Over the years we have added a few new perennials - mostly for the butterflies and bees. I have been walking around the house these past days and have done my best to capture them in bloom.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

May 25, 2014

Waiting out the thunderstorm, I stayed in the stable. I finished brushing Lou and unclipped him, and while turning him into his stall, he stepped on my foot and pivoted all of his 1100 (plus or minus a few) pounds on me…it definitely wasn’t the first time this has ever happened, and it was definitely a lot less painful than the 10 stitches to my face or the broken ribs of the past, but still, the toes on my right foot will still be throbbing for days… I can never get mad at the big galoot though, never can. He stepped off my foot and bent his head back to look at me with his brown, wet eye as if to say he was sorry, gave me a nuzzle and lumbered off to his hay…I just gave him a hug and limped back to the house in the rain. Maybe not everyone understands, but I think most of you who love and live their days with animals get it. Love and forgiveness over come any pain, physical or emotional. Its another life lesson that Lou has given back to me.

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 2014

I was walking out to the stable yesterday when this guy came over the trees from the direction of the Tuckahoe River and circled over the pasture, showing off his catch. I was nervous and fumbling with the camera because I never had an “eagle opportunity” like this before -I don’t even know how I got it in the viewfinder, I was shaking so much!

Eagles are getting more common in this area and they are no longer rare to see, but most times when I do see one I don’t have my camera with me, or if I do, the eagle is too high or too far away for my lens to bring it in close enough for a decent shot. Even this shot was border line for my lens, which is why I am so glad it came out as well as it did.

Lately I have been seeing a lot of eagles in Woodbine at Still-a-Hill when I am riding. The other day when I was warming up Cruiser I saw a pair, maybe a mating pair, flying low over the trees and then circling on the up drafts until they faded from view. The experience is the inspiration for the haiku that I end this post with.

There are so many turkey buzzards in the skies over there that it’s easy to assume that all the large birds overhead are all just turkey buzzards. I have learned to pick the eagles out from the turkey buzzards and am surprised that almost every week I see one or two, or even more, eagles there.

And we do see them here at our farm, like I did yesterday, but not quite so often, and rarely, if ever, so close circling overhead. I can only keep hoping for the day that this becomes common, and I don’t get so nervous with my camera because I will know that this wont be my only chance to get a decent shot.

afternoon on horseback
eagles float across the sky
 two leaves play tag on a stream

Sunday, May 4, 2014

May 4, 2014

Cuban Devil, April 27, 2014, prior to the 5th race

The 5th Race

back legs chained and shackled
winched up into the trailer and
transferred to a refrigerated truck
until arrangements are decided, if they hadn’t been already. because it happens.
bones break all the time I am told.

not a hush
a line grows to place bets, the sixth race, simply delayed
without explanation.
just enough time for another beer
the party has too much momentum
to stop for such things. to care for such things. call to the post is near.
the trumpeter neatens his red velvet coat and tails

I asked an unshaped man, eyes locked to the racing form
“which one was it?”
“its just the way it goes” and he stepped aside
 disappearing sideways through a slim crease in the paddock crowd

monday I found the race results in the paper
it read
5th race
Cuban Devil, raced outside, broke down on the turn
and was humanely euthanized
it was the only epitaph there would be. 

Last Sunday was the first time I ever went to the track; it was the first time I saw a live horse race. I went to see the horses and take photos, not necessarily to see the races. 
Besides the Triple Crown, I really have no interest in horse racing. 
Prior to the race, the horses were walked in a ring so everyone could see them. Each horse was led around a mulched circle a few times with its handler, and then the horse was “saddled” and the jockey jumped on, and the horses were walked around a few more times before heading to the track, and to the starting gate.
I randomly took pictures of some of the horses as they were being walked, including one of Cuban Devil. 
We didn’t see Cuban Devil’s accident on the turn, as the inside track is walled by privet hedges that blocked most of the view from where we were standing. It was also far enough away that we couldn’t make out all that was happening, but we could catch a few glimpses.
From where we were we saw the horse limping and a horse trailer pulled by a pickup and another car driving to the scene. I watched the horse fall and then the horse trailer was backed up towards that spot. Kath and I knew what that meant.
There are injuries in every sport- athletes get concussions, torn ligaments etc. Last year a basketball player for Louisville snapped his leg in two during the NCAA tournament. Injuries are a part of sports, and horse racing is no different. The exception is that humans can heal from most injuries while horses can’t. A broken leg is fatal to a horse – even all that was done for Barbaro still could not save him.
What struck me though was by how cold the process seemed – especially that the crowd never quieted, but partied just as if nothing was happening; the dead horse didn’t matter to the crowd or the bettors, although I have to believe it did to someone. Some one had to have loved that horse. The only announcement that came was that the 6th race would be delayed a few minutes.
The entire incident still bothers me, foremost that the horse had to be euthanized, but also because I think that Cuban Devil deserved better from the crowd -a moment of silence, something said…something to show that his life mattered.

Note: Cuban Devil’s grandsire was Sunday Silence, winner of the 1989 Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 22, 2014

I took this picture last night out side of Tractor supply. 11 bags of chicken, goat, and horse feed, and on another cart not pictured were other supplies. This was a bit less feed than what we normally buy every three weeks, as we had a few bags of goat and chicken feed still left unopened at home. Not pictured is the pickup filled with 25 bales of hay that we also go through in about three weeks, but had gotten last weekend.

In the store, waiting in the aisle while Kath was looking for clippers for Zippy, I was looking down at the loaded cart and thinking that this is the result of two chickens, and I smiled a bit at how things come to be.

Back around ’99 a chef gave me two pullets from his flock for me to take home. We named the girls Bob and Homer, and set them up in the backyard with a plywood hut made of scrap and the fenced in yard to range in. Because of the fun we had with these two gals, soon came more baby chicks and then pet ducks for the kids, and the plywood box was now set in a large, netted run I had built to contain them all and keep them safe, as raccoons, possums, and hawks realized that my back yard was just as good as an Acme as far as they were concerned. Luckily, the neighbors didn’t care, and I think they had a few laughs over the farm in our back yard. The Owners Association never came by…I think they liked the novelty of it all.

As you could expect, the backyard got smaller and smaller as we dreamed bigger and bigger.

So we bought the farm where we now live, and named it Seventeen Farms. Seventeen was always a favorite number, so I used it as the name.

To make a long story short, because I think everyone knows the story from here, we added horses, goats and bees, along with a garden market with a hoop house.We haven't had one regret.

It’s interesting as how something as innocuous as a few friendly chickens evolved into what we have now. Waiting in that aisle I couldn’t help but to think back to the days when there were no trips to Tractor Supply, but to a little local feed store when once a month, or maybe it was every six weeks, I would buy one bag of chicken feed. It was all I needed back then.

I also began to think of friends who have visited the farm and have now begun to raise their own chickens, wondering if in a few more years will I see them at Tractor Supply every few weeks with a cart as loaded up as ours….

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March 6, 2014

January Skies

I have always had a love affair with the sky. It is forever changing and evolving; it is never still and never the same. Something is always happening. I spend a lot of time looking at the sky and everything in it – clouds, birds, stars, planes, colors, etc. Most photographs I take are of the sky. Even taken seconds apart, the pictures are always different, which fascinates me.

Last December (2013) I posted an album called November Skies that were taken looking southwest ward at the sunset from the stable, including a few from beneath the sweet gum trees growing in the yard. This series, January Skies, were taken from basically the same spot at the stable, in a span of nine minutes.

In the case of theses shots, like most, its all haphazard. When I head out to the stable (I spend a lot of time there) I take my camera with me and just lay it on a hay bale in the midway. I usually just go about cleaning stalls, sweeping, or grooming, or whatever (sometimes I just sit out there with the horses and read and listen to music - its my down time, and that's another story for sometime ahead), but every now and then I glimpse out a stall window or stable door and something gets my attention - a flock of geese, a jet trail, clouds, a hawk, or like in this case, a sunset, and I grab my camera and try to capture it. Most times I miss, but every so often, everything in the moment fits.

Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31, 2013

Lately I have been thinking  a lot about elephants.

A few months ago I read the book Topsy, written by Michael Daly, about the elephant that was wrongly put to death by electrocution at Coney Island, NY on January 4 1903, under the supervision of Thomas Edison. The event was filmed by Edison’s film crew and if you are not faint hearted, you can watch the grainy short film on YouTube or on many other internet sites. It’s not pretty. Topsy burns and smokes from the feet up, and then topples over. Dead.

The book tells the story of an innocent Topsy, who was a victim caught between two unfolding events – the competition between the two top circuses of the time, the Forepaugh Circus and P.T. Barnum shows, and the bitter and complex battle over the merits and usefulness of AC vs. DC currents waged between Edison and Westinghouse. Throughout the book, Daly describes the history of the mistreatment and cruelty that elephants were subjected to throughout the era, and which still continues today. Topsy was only one of many elephants that suffered a lifetime of abuse.  Her life as a circus attraction began after she was stolen from her mother before she was weaned, and shipped off to America where she was beaten by trainers, bull hooked, and kept in chains. She was never allowed to be the elephant that her instincts told her to be. That too, was beaten out of her. During one beating, her tail was broken, and since then, it hung crooked.

She killed her first human, a drunk who sneaked into the menagerie tent where she was chained, and continuously teased her and then burned her sensitive trunk with a cigar. Defending herself, she picked him up with her scorched trunk and threw him to the ground, breaking pretty much every bone in his body.

Later she was sold to operators of an amusement park in Coney Island and after continually being mistreated by her handler – who was arrested for his abusive actions – she acted out her built up anxieties through actions that did not hurt anyone, but caused the area’s inhabitants to fear her. It was decided that she be put down. Until the fledgling SPCA stepped in, Topsy’s owners were organizing plans to make her execution a ticket selling, money making show. Although the SPCA said no to the “show”, they did not say no to the execution. Edison decided that this was another chance to prove that DC current could be lethally dangerous and he arranged her death by electrocution to prove his point even once more. This was after he had invented the electric chair to prove his point years before, and which was developed and improved by experimenting with electrocuting dogs and horses. He filmed the Topsy event just to be sure the world would again see that Westinghouse was wrong about the safety of DC current.

Topsy, for her entire life, was a victim.

But she was not the only one. Most elephants were treated the same as Topsy, and as they grew older and anxious of the beatings and the strains of captivity, became harder to handle and tended to defend themselves by sometimes hurting or killing their abusive handlers. Many were sold off, and inevitably, put to death.

Another book I recently read, Behemoth- The History of the Elephant in America by Ronald Tobia, as its title suggests, tells the history of elephants in this country, beginning with the first known elephant which arrived in America in 1796. The second, Old Bet, came in 1804, and was killed in Maine by a man named Daniel Davis who was “morally outraged” that her owner, in showing her, “took money from those who could not afford it.” In 1822, another elephant, Little Bet, was shot and killed by six boys in Rhode Island, wanting to disprove the elephant’s owner’s claim that a bullet would not penetrate the pachyderm’s skin. One bullet found her eye socket and a straight path to her brain. I myself would have to guess that her death didn’t prove a thing, as the bullet that killed her did not go through her hide.

One story from the book bothers me the most. It is of Mary, who was hanged in 1916. She killed an inexperienced handler, who she wasn’t familiar with, and who poked her behind the ear with a bull hook during a circus parade in Kingsport, Tennessee. She turned on him, killing him. She was charged with murder and was hung by a railroad crane – twice, because the chain around her neck broke during the first attempt, sending her crashing to the ground and breaking her pelvis…so they re-chained her and were successful the second try. She had been a part of the circus for years and years without incident, but for this one moment which was simply an attempt to defend herself from harm.

The stories of mistreatment go on and on. Not too many end happily.

Normally, when we think of animal mistreatment, we conditionally think of dogs and cats. The reality is that they are far from being the only ones. We as humans do not have a history of treating animals well, or in most cases, as living beings. Besides neglect and violence, take a moment to think about the chickens jammed in battery cages, cows in feedlots, baby bulls in veal sheds, horses slaughtered, goats maimed for military medic training, rabbits blinded for product testing, whales speared for their fat…also think of the amount of habitat we have taken or altered, forcing species to extinction. That too is abuse. As humans, we show little value for the lives of the weakest and smallest animals, but as these books point out, we also have a poor record as to how we treat the biggest land mammal, as well as all of those that fit in between.

I never had given much thought to animal cruelty as I was never exposed to it. Our family always had cats and dogs that, at least I think, were treated well. Our dogs slept on the couch, our cats were free to come and go, and all were fed and loved and never missed an appointment with a vet. My first cat, Hooter, was hit by a car and by the time the surgery bills were over, Kath and I were broke and wondering how the mortgage would be paid…for a few bucks we could have just said goodbye to him then, but it turned out we had another great ten years with the guy who finally and sadly died of cancer. To me, and Kath, that’s just what you did. We never thought to think another way. I think that most everyone is the same way, or at least that is the kind of dedication I have witnessed from the people I know.

What turned the light on for me to begin to understand how bigger animals were treated began when we first got into horses. I was naive and only thought that like most dogs, a horse was purchased and cared for by its owner until death parted them …But I found that was not really the norm, as horses are bought and sold like stocks, and when they don’t perform to an owners expectations, most are sold off. Many have multiple owners who treat and train them with different methods ranging from trust to force. Some owners take better care of them than others do. When a horse can no longer be used or sold for some type of use, whether it be for riding, racing, or showing, or because it has been mistreated to the point it cannot be handled safely, the chances that it will be sold to an auction house to be bid on for slaughter is common. My horse Lou was headed down that path years ago.

Like animal shelters that are operated for the care of unwanted cats and dogs, there are horse rescues and organizations that work to care for retired horses and/or to retrain and adopt out horses for new careers or as companion animals. Many of these organizations retrain racehorses whose racing careers are over and find them new homes. Not all horses are lucky enough to be rescued by any one of these organizations, and are last seen on the auction floor. There are many race horses that have made their owners hundreds of thousands of dollars and end up on dinner plates in European countries. To some, it’s considered part of the business.

Some aspects of the horse business is not much different than the elephant business, and I think that is why it has moved me to learn more about both situations and to try to help by supporting rescues when I can. Luckily, there are two well known and very respected organizations in the United States that rescue elephants – PAWS (Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary) in California,  http://www.pawsweb.org/ ,and the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald Tennessee, http://www.elephants.com/aboutSanctuary.php

On both sites, particularly on the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald Tennessee, there are the stories of each of the elephants that are there. Some of these stories are very disturbing, especially if you take the time to do a little further research on your own with an internet search of any of these neglected souls.

As for horses, there are so many rescues out there that they are easily found. One in particular that Kath and I have been supporting is the Standardbred Retirement Foundation , http://www.adoptahorse.org/  which is dedicated to retraining and finding homes for standardbred horses who no longer harness race due to age, injury, or lack of winnings. They have saved many of theses animals from slaughter. We were drawn to this organization because of Lou’s past as a harness race horse (aka Earls Lucky Buck) who didn’t fare too well on the track. We don’t even think he got there.

(Just so you know that we care about other animals as well, our three cats are rescues from the Ocean City Animal Shelter, and we have a domesticated duck that a friend of Kath’s found and brought to us. In the past, we also had a rescued chicken! Our little goat  gal Ellen was slated to be someone’s Easter Dinner last year, but we bought her a week or so before she was be sent to an auction in Lancaster.)

But the elephant thing is really something that I had never known anything about, and I ask everyone, not necessarily to be an activist, but to take a few minutes to learn about their plight. It is really sad, and because they aren’t as mainstream as dogs, cats, or horses, little attention is given to them. I think if their stories were more publicized, the ways in which they are treated could change for the better.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14, 2014

Monday was an interesting day…just one of those days…and I had my camera along with me.


There is a saying about goats and fencing that goes “if the fence can’t hold water, it can’t hold a goat.” Ellen set out to prove that to me a day ago. She pushed herself under the back pasture fencing and into my garden. No big deal I thought; I would just fix the fence and be done with it. I re-stretched and re-stapled the fence to the posts so that it wouldn’t bow out at the bottom, assuming that would stop her from squeezing underneath to her new found “freedom”, or at least to the garden and the garden goodies. Needless to say, my repairs didn’t hold water…er, I mean Ellen. After I was finished, I put the goats back out in the back pasture and got busy doing something else. The next time I looked up I could only see three goats in the back pasture – Frances, Irene, and Mary. I looked over into the garden and there was Ellen, happily nibbling away at the strawberries! I was so impressed that she had found her way out again that I let her nibble her prize for a bit longer before going in and getting her. So now it’s back to the drawing board for me - how to design a fence that can hold water.


While I was watching Ellen nibbling away at the strawberry patch, I turned back to look at the other goats and Frances began playing hide and seek with me. She was literally trying to hide herself behind the old standpipe in the back pasture, and peek round it to see if I could see her. I know you don’t believe me, but to be honest, goats do these kinds of things. They can be pretty playful and pretty funny. Get a few of your own and see for yourself! You’ll realize pretty fast that I am not making this up.


Later on I inadvertently left Paddie Pant’s (Patrick) stall door unlatched. When he came in from the paddock he gave the sliding door a nudge and it slid open much to his delight. At the time, I was slowly making my way back to the stable, struggling through the thick mud in the paddock and so I had no chance of getting to him fast enough to catch him. I watched him though the stable windows as he trotted down the midway and out the back stable door that opens to the back field. Once outside the door, he made a quick left and shimmied himself through the walk -in door to the chicken coop. The gals who were inside roosting were caught unawares and began scattering out, clucking loudly with their wings flapping wildly. Pat calmly and happily began eating whatever chicken feed he could find. So, now I had an 1100 lb horse in the chicken coop to deal with The thing is, Paddie Pants is way too big for the door and the chicken coop – and it’s a pain to squeeze him out of there. But with a little patience I did.  He had had his fun, and seemed all proud of himself and content with his little adventure.