Things that go bump in the night…AND the day.

Yesterday was one of those days. The kind of day when everything you had planned gets flipped on it’s head and you realize you have to just roll with it instead of trying to control every last bit.

It also happened to be one of the most dramatic days where animals are concerned in a long time. Sometimes I think God just does stuff so that I have something to write about on this blog.

It all started as I was driving to McMinnville to teach my Thursday morning yoga class. I was driving down the long country road that leads from my house to the small town of Carlton. The fog was thick, like pea soup, and I reminded myself to slow down because this is the country and anything could dart across the road and then I’d have to live with the fact that I hit something because I wasn’t being a responsible driver.

As I turned down the windy part of the road, right before you enter civilization again, I approached a sight that struck me as unusual. As I drove by, three giant black cows stood on the side of the road grazing within inches of where my tires hit the pavement.

I continued driving, cranking my head to take in what I was observing. My first thought was, ‘that seems awful close to the road for someone to let their cows graze,” and within seconds my senses came crashing back and I realized the reality of the situation. I made a u-turn the first opportunity I had and drove back in the opposite direction. These cows weren’t put there by their owner, they had gotten out of their pasture. I knew that if I just kept driving one, if not all, of these bovid mammals would probably become roadkill. Especially with the way people drive around these parts.

Just as I drove back up to the house they were settling in front of, another women has pulled in the driveway and was already at the front door of the home. I parked and jumped out of my car to hear the woman inside tell the other woman that the cows were not hers and close the door.

Not knowing exactly what to do, we decided that we needed to get a hold of someone from the non-emergency hotline (even though in my book, this was CLEARLY an emergency).  I told her that I would drive down to the Carlton City Hall and ask them for help but first we needed to get the cows off the side of the road.

I puffed up my chest and straightened my stance so that I appeared bigger then I was and began galloping at them ,waving my hands and shouting for them to get back. Slowly,  they started to back away, every so often turning around to glare.

Once I was satisfied with where they were I told the other woman that I would head to City Hall and she said she would head to where she thought they might belong.

Once I reached City Hall I got out of my car and headed in. The woman at the front desk said that she believed she knew who they belonged to and called the non-emergency hotline and  told me that they would take care of it. Feeling satisfied with the outcome, I headed back to my car and the other women pulled up and said that she had found the owner and they were on it.

We both patted ourselves on our own backs, wished each other a nice day and got back in our cars, continuing on to our destinations.

As I was driving however I had a thought. As proud as I was from preventing potential roadkill, maybe they were trying to escape their impending doom of becoming ground beef?! Crap!

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When I got home from my class and the two meetings I had following I was standing at my kitchen sink washing the dishes that were left from last nights dinner, something that rarely happens as I can’t sleep if their are dirty dishes in the sink (thanks mom). I was going over, in my head, what I needed to get done today for work when I happened to glance up and out onto the property. The weather has been incredible here in Oregon, unlike any I have experienced since moving here two and a half years ago. The warm sun lit up the sky and the leaves the color of fire and gold.

As I was admiring this place I get to call home my grateful thoughts were disrupted by something out by the dock that sits over our pond. I squinted my eyes to get a better look. “Is that a dog?” I thought to myself. I looked around to see all three of my furry companions resting on the deck. Maddy, our brown Pitbull was sitting upright starring straight out at the pond. I leaned forward as if that would help me get a clearer view. Tthe dog-like animal turned to the side and that was when I made the realization. It wasn’t a dog however, it WAS a dog-like creature. It was a coyote!

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Now I’ve written about coyotes on the property before and all those stories had been exciting at the time but none were as much so as this particular day.

Usually I only see them in passing, way out by the back pasture walking the perimeter of the vineyard but today, today was different. This coyote was braver, more determined and from the looks of it, he was hungry and had his sights on my flock.

After my momentary paralysis wore off, I realized that I needed to do something. This guy was way too close for comfort. He was about 50 yards from from the electric fence. I’m sure he could taste the warm blood of my favorite sheep, Money, who was grazing just on the other side.

I quickly ran out onto the deck, once again waving my arms and screaming obscenities and insults unsuitable for most ears at the top of my lung. I took off from the deck, running down the grassy knoll that leads out to the open grassy lawn. The coyote, obviously not disturbed  by my antics, cautiously turned around and began prancing away melting into the canopy of the golden leaves that make up the vineyard. Looking back to size me up, I swear he gave me a “f-you glare” that only made me angrier.

I ran back to the barn, grabbed some wooden stakes and a hammer and jumped in our RTV and drove around the vineyard to patch up any wholes under the fence he may have gotten under. Ha ha ha, see if you get through there you little bastard, I thought to myself as I slammed down on each wooden post. Satisfied with my job, I headed back to the house to finish the dishes and press on with my day.

What felt like five minutes but was actually about and hour and a half later, I was once again at the kitchen sink (sometimes I actually DO spend all day in the kitchen!). I had been keeping pretty good tabs of my sheep and knew that they were out in the far pasture and that the goats were with them. For some reason I always feel better when the goats who have big, powerful horns are flanking my flocks side. I know they can do damage to some puny coyote.

As I just finished up chopping an onion for the beet burgers I was making for dinner I went to the kitchen sink to wash the knife. I glanced back up and out the window as I always do, just to make sure everything was okay.  I noticed something way out on the grassy knoll in the middle pasture. I tilted my head to one side, squinting my eyes again to get a better look. Obviously it’s time for me to get new glasses.

The pastures are broken into three sections which is hard to describe in writing but there is the piece of land by the barn, closest to our house and it feds back to a small forested area with a grassy knoll in front and then weaves it’s way back to the far pasture by the vineyard. There was an old tree that feel down last winter that Joel, my husband’s cousin had just chopped up and left in a huge pile out in the middle pasture. To the the left of that I could make out a silhouette of something, obviously and animal.

I headed out onto the deck to get a better look. It looked, from a distance, like one of our Jacob sheep, Doris who has two horns that curve back toward her neck. However, with the days earlier event, I decided to put on my boots and head out that way to get a better look. As soon as I hit the grassy slope that lead out to the pasture I realized exactly what it was. The coyote had somehow made it’s way INTO the pasture that was surrounded by an electric fence. At this point I flipped my shit. I took off at full speed, hurdling the electric fence with height that I will admit was pretty damn impressive. At this point the coyote stood up and turned to run into the wooded area within the pasture. “Shit, shit shit shit…f&%K, f#$k, f**K” came flying out of my mouth. I ran out to the far pasture at which point I realized my flock and the goats are way smarter then they seem as that they had gathered into a tight circle.

I pulled out my phone to call my husband. Oh, did I mention that I was, once again, home alone? Read some of my other stories from the farm to see why this is so funny.

He picked up on the second ring and I proceeded, in between gasps for air,to  tell him what was going on. He said I needed to gather all the animals and get them to the barn and to call Joel. I hung up and thankfully the sheep and goats followed me with no problems. Maybe it was the little talk I had about how their was a hungry beast ready to lung at their jugular and eat their entrails OR the fact that I have been giving them lots of treats lately, but they followed in a mad rush as I led them back to the bar.

After about an hour and one phone call to a coyote trapper for advice later, I finally got ahold of Joel and he came home from the winery to help try and find the coyote. Now, you all know that I don’t believe in killing animals. If it were up to me we would all coexist peacefully…as vegans. But this one is extremely aggressive and will most likely hang around since it knows their is fresh meat on the property. Not too mention, we have two cats, three dogs and four chickens and it’s our responsibility to protect them.

So, Joel proceeded to walk the property ‘looking’ for the coyote. After about thirty minutes and no sign of the coyote, I headed out to talk to Joel. As were were standing on the dirt road that passes the pasture, I looked up onto the grassy knoll and out darts the coyote, running back into the woods, before Joel could get a good look at where it went. The mangy bastard is taunting me now.

David got home about 30 minutes later and they both searched for about another thirty minutes to no avail. By this time it was nearing 6PM and we were hungry. We decided that the sheep and goats were smart and would stay in the barn. They knew that something was out there, they are very instinctual animals, and there was nothing more we could do tonight.

However, I had put a call into a neighbor who breeds and raises sheep knowing that they had had some experiences with coyotes. She told me there really isn’t a whole lot we can do. Coyotes are going to get on the property, they can dig under fence lines, and that our best bet was to get a mean llama with great protective instincts.

Sounds good to me! I told David the news and informed him that he really didn’t get a say and he simple said, “I know.”

Needless to say, neither of us slept well last night. We left the sliding glass door open so we could hear if anything happened out in the pasture. When first sight of morning drew near I leaped out of bed and put my boots on, walking with a quick gate out to the barn. Holding my breath I stepped over the electric fence and peered around the corner. No blood, no guts, no entrails, good sign. All accounted for and present and I let out a big sign.

So, today I’m going llama shopping. It’s never boring living on a farm, that’s for sure.

 

Our Close Encounter with Rabies, Zombies and the Infected

(Disclaimer: It’s a long one but sure to make you laugh!)

Bats

When I first met David, one of the things I found adorable about him was his mild interest (for lack of a better word) with apocalyptic topics like zombies and the infected. I know, stay with me here. One part joke and the other part half series, David would often make me laugh at some of the ridiculous things that would come out of his mouth in regards to the walking dead and needing to be prepared.

I now know that most of the things he said was to get a laugh out of me and over time, it had become an inside joke between the two of us. We look forward to Sunday evenings when we get sit on the couch, popcorn in hand, and watch the gore and in my opinion, way too graphic TV show, The Walking Dead. We joke about how we should ‘get prepared’ for the day the dead come knocking on our door and devise plans of where we would go and what we would do…all in jest I assure you.

Until we had a mere encounter with a possible infected last week.

I remember a story David told me about the only person who actually lived with rabies and how she went mad and people, namely my husband, called her the infected. The story goes that this young girl was sitting in her church on sunny Sunday morning and in flew a rabid bat which happened to swoop down and bit the young girl somewhere on her  arm.

Her parents didn’t take her to the hospital to get the rabies shot because she didn’t think she had actually been bitten, only scratch. However, almost a month later, her parents rushed her to emergency because she was starting to show symptoms of rabies,  fluctuating consciousness, slurred speech and other symptoms typical of full-blown rabies. The short of the long is, the video attached to the article David showed me resembled someone who was very much infected by something that had completely altered her state of consciousness and she was shaking her head back and forth and screaming. Very much like those you see in horror films whom have been ‘infected’ themselves.

I tell you all of this so you have a little back story, so you can paint a better picture in your head of how David and I reacted to what happened to us last Friday evening.

With the long hot summer days, David and I like to leave the french doors leading onto our deck open until it’s cool enough in the house to close them, usually right around the time we go up to bed. The french doors lead right into our living space. Our dining area, living room and my office are all  an open concept with huge 30-40 foot ceiling (I’m guessing) so everything is very exposed.

We had just said good-bye to some friends that had come over for an evening of drinks on the deck and decided to sit down on the couch for a bit of brain numbing before we headed up to bed. Like normal, I got tired first, leaned over and gave David a kiss, and headed up to bed, knowing that by the time I had washed my face and brushed my teeth David would be up as well. Pretty typical pattern for us.

I turned the water on to let it start warming up. It usually takes about 5 minutes to get to a temperature that is suitable for me to wash my face with. I brushed my teeth and changed into my pajamas which consist of a tank top and comfy sweat like pants. Pretty much the standard since I was a teenager. Poor David.

As I headed back into the bathroom I heard David call out to me from downstairs. “Baaabbbe!” He yelled with a shaky voice.

“What?” I cried back in annoyance. I really don’t like when he yells for me from another room.

“Baaabbbe, there’s a bat in here!”

Confused and in mild disbelief, wondering if David was just seeing things considering the amount of Whiskey that had just been consumed between him and the other two gentlemen that were here, I decided I should go downstairs and make sure that he wasn’t confusing my cat for a fanged, blood sucking blind bat.

I turned off the water and headed down the 10 stairs that lead to the landing before the three stairs that lead into the living room. We live in one of the really awkwardly designed 1970′s homes where there is a room or two on every level. We technically have four levels in our house.

I stood on the landing with my hands on my hips, typical stance for me when I’m mildly annoyed, and asked where this ‘bat’ was. David pointed at the top of our river rock fireplace and low and behold, there sat a small, black  bat.

With wide eyes and mouth agape, paralyzed momentarily by fear, I quickly came to and jumped back and into the safety of the en-cove leading up to our bedroom. All the while David just sat on the couch laughing at me.

“David! What the f$%* are we going to do? How the F$*& do we get a BAT out of the house?” (I don’t typically swear. I really don’t like to and reserve it for times like these and then go balls to the wall with it)

“I don’t know.” David confessed as he started to pick up shoes that were randomly laying around the living room. For some reason, shoes seem to accumulate in that space. At any given time, unless I’m cleaning house, we have several pairs of shoes hanging out in the living room. I suppose subconsciously it’s for situations like this.

“What are you doing?”

“I’m going to throw these at the bat.” He said matter of fact like I was silly to have not thought of it first.

“I don’t want bat guts all over my fireplace.” I love how whenever we are in a prickly situation all of the sudden everything becomes mine. :)

“No, I’m just going to scare it so it flies out the door.”

“Oh, okay. Well just make sure you don’t kill it. That’s a very un-vegan thing to do.”

“I wont. I’m just going to scare it so it goes out the back doors. Watch.”

David proceeds to throw the first shoe coming within inches of the Edward. That’s the bat. If you’ve seen or heard of Twilight (and really, who hasn’t?) then you will know the reference.

Nothing. Not even a flinch. He throws the next shoe and WHAM! Smack dab in the face and the bat takes off.

Now, at this point I’m screaming at the top of my lungs curled into a little ball  in the corner with my hands over my head, visions of either me or David foaming at the mouth flooding my mind. After about a minute I managed to muster up enough courage and peak around the corner. The bat, in a fit of rage, was flying in circles trying to escape out of every window in the house. However, they all have screens. Never mind the doors that are open.

Dumb bat. I guess I finally understand that say, ‘blind as a bat.’

The bat finally settles down and finds it’s spot on the fireplace again and I settle down too, managing to regain my composure. So much so that I actually step out from behind my protective barrier to watch David’s second, third and fourth attempt.

“Okay” I say once again annoyed and frightened, ‘this is obviously not working.’

“Just go to bed. I’ll take care of it.”

“Oh yeah right! And wake up to a rabid husband lying on the living room floor? I think not. I’m calling Joel!”

Joel’s always the answer to any problem.

Now, if you’ve been following this blog for awhile you know that Joel is David’s cousin who lives on the property in the manufactured home at the top of the road. He is the ‘grounds keeper, handyman, jack of all trades– and now, thanks to me, bat trapper.

I pick up my phone and call Joel. “Joel! We need you!” I cried. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called Joel saying those exact words. “There’s a BAT in the mother f#$%ing house!” See, balls to the wall, no hold barred

“Just use a broom.” He replied in his cool, calm, monotone voice.

“No Joel, you don’t understand. There. IS. A. BAT in the house!” I say as if he didn’t quite understand the consequences involved if either David or I were to get bitten by said bat. At this point the bossy Amanda kicks in. If you know me then you know this side of me isn’t the most charming aspect of my personality.

“No, you need to come help us.” Meanwhile, David is still throwing shoes at the bat, every once in awhile screaming and running into the kitchen as the bat flaps around in his fit of rage.

“Okay, I’m coming.” He must of heard David in the background and understood the severity of it.

Minutes later (however, what seemed like hours to me) Joel appeared at the front door with a broom in hand. Casually, he strolls in and we point out where the bat is. He walks over to the the fireplace, steps up on the ledge and swats at the bat, getting him the first try. The bat begins to flap around once again, flying into my office and back into the living room. Joel walk up the three steps and into office and proceeds to swat at the bat with the broom. A mixture of laughter and screams come from the kitchen. David’s hiding spot. I on the other hand, am back in my en cove curled in a little ball praying to the God’s that I don’t have to shoot my husband in his rabid, zombie-infected face.

This went on for several minutes. Growing bored, I decided to face my fears and ran from the en-cove down the three steps into the living room and right behind the glass french door for cover. At least this way I could see what was happening. Pausing for a moment, Joel and David stare at me puzzled then begin to laugh at my choice of ‘hiding’ places. I brush their rude antics off. At least I’m protected. We’ll see who’s laughing when one of them gets bitten.

Joel continues to swat at the bat, David ‘helps’ from the sidelines, I repeatedly shout “don’t kill him! He probably has a family!”

WHAM! In a split second, Joel hits the bat slamming him into the wall. I deflate from holding my breath and momentarily wonder if rabies can transfer from the blood that possibly has spattered all over the wall.

The bat, lying on the stair, is motionless. I guess Joel didn’t quite understand what I meant by ‘don’t kill him.’

David walks over to the hall closet and gets the dust pan and scoops the once rabid bat up. Joel opens the front door and calls for his cat in which I finally find my voice and scream, “NO! Do NOT feed that bat to your cat Joel!”

“Yeah” chums in David. “You never know if that thing has rabies and Buddy could possibly get them from eating him.”

Joel, shrugging off our comments decides to listen and  scoops the bat up once again, taking him off into the night and dumps his lifeless body, hopefully somewhere neither of the cats will find.

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After cleaning up the array of shoes all over the house I headed back upstairs to finish the process of getting ready for bed. David, deciding he wanted to watch a little more TV, stayed downstairs.

“Baaabbbe!” He yells from below.

I pause, taking in a deep breath and let it go, wondering if he will ever believe me when I tell him that I really don’t like when he yells for me from the opposite side of the house.

“What?” I yell back.

There is a pause followed by:

“There’s another bat!”

I pause, lower my head shaking it back and forth. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

And then I headed back downstairs to watch as David and Joel, who returned once again, defend their honor in a raging war against the infected.

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The End

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Lessons from Raising Farm Animals, RIP My Sweet Sweet Peter

There is no greater feeling
than to know you earned an animal’s trust.

~  Alison Stormwolf

To most people, sheep are just farm animals. Something that hang out in their pastures (if they are lucky enough to be free range), get fat, and then are butchered so that people can dine on their little chops over a candle lit dinner.

To me, sheep are so much more.

A year ago I was lucky to witness fourteen sweet lives being born. Wooly, knocked knee, beautiful lambs entered the world and changed my whole perspective on what it means to be a vegan, to live a kind life.

Yesterday, one of those sweet sweet babies I watched enter this world, fought for when his mom wouldn’t accept him as hers, nursed back to health when he was sick, and most importantly, loved, died. I will spare you the details of his death. It’s one though that makes you pray so hard for everything in this world to just die in their sleep.

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Sweet Peter was just that, sweet. The kindness little soul, so gentle and patient. He was fearless and independent and above all, looking into his eyes, he trusted and he loved.

He was the last lamb to be born and his mama, Big Mama, rejected him. He was small, the smallest of them all, and when his mama wanted nothing to do with him, I worked day and night doing everything I could to make sure he lived.

And he did.

I think, no, I know there was a trust he bestowed upon me from that moment on. I’d always do everything in my power to make sure he lived a happy, healthy life.

And I tried. I really tried.

Nothing is sweeter then when you earn the trust of an animal.

To the people that say animals don’t feel or have a personality I simply ask; have you every just sat with one for any extended period of time and watched the way they interact with the world and others? Have you ever looked deep into their eyes?

It’s so easy for us to walk into a grocery store, pick up our pre-cut meat, head home and throw it on the BBQ. It’s easy to disassociate ourselves from what it really is.

When you raise them, learning each ones little personalities, their favorite treats, where they liked to be scratched, it all becomes so real.

He had no fear when it came to David and I. When he’d see us approaching his little ears would perk up, he’d tilt his head, and upon recognition he trot over to us, waiting to be scratched between his ears.

He was, by far, the coolest sheep.

As I crouched over his lifeless body, sobbing wet tears, I reach out to close his eyes, for it was the last thing I could do to protect and honor his  his short little life. It was in that moment that  I realized how lucky he was because he was born on our farm. He was cared for deeply and treated with the respect he deserved as a living, breathing soul.

Today I shed tears not for the loss of a farm animal but for the loss of a pet.

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Seven Sets of Eyes in the Dark Night

Sheep

A few weeks ago David asked me why I wasn’t writing more stories about the crazy and exciting things that happen on the farm/vineyard. I responded by telling him that nothing really crazy or exciting has been happening as of late. Life has been rather boring quiet around here actually and I just didn’t feel like I had any material to work with. Well, you know that saying, the one that says something to the extent that God laughs at those who make plans, well I kind of feel like that’s happening to me lately except in regards to my statement about nothingvcrazy or interesting happing on the farm/vineyard.

Sometimes I think the Universe really tests me to see if I’m actually cut out for all this farm business. Like when I said the comment above the Universe was snickering and saying in response, “Oh yeah Amanda? We. Shall. See.” Like, the Universe was saving it all up for the past three days or something. I’m slowing starting to learn that there IS always a calm before the storm. And with David out of town, well, we all know by now something is bound to happen.

With the Coyote experience the other day I’ve been rather paranoid, limiting the amount of time my pets get to go outside and counting my sheep so often that people may just start worrying that I a little OCD. Shit, I am. I’m a total control freak!

Like I said in my previous post, I totally get why Coyotes are coming around and I can even respect it. I mean, we’ve invaded their territory really. One of the reasons more and more people are running into wild animals like coyotes, bobcats, and cougars is precisely that. We are living on the edges of their homes or on their homes. It makes me sad but I also don’t want to lose my pets because of it. I was talking with a guy yesterday and he mentioned that his buddy had his trapping license and I thought that maybe that would be a good idea. Until he told me what happened to the animal once trapped. I don’t really condone killing them unless it’s the very last resort.

But that is not really the point of this story. The point was, the Universe or God (whatever you believe in) likes to shake things up just when you start to think life is going smoothly..or is a little sleepy in my case.

So, he morning after I saw the coyot on our property I woke up early, restless about the state of my sheep. It was 5:30 am and I couldn’t stay in bed anymore, so I got up, and headed downstairs. Since I’m always up first in the morning I make the fire. I opened our back door and was immediately met with the hoots and howls of none other then a pack of celebratory coyots. My mind traced the possibilities of what they had killed, someones beloved cat or maybe a wild rabbit all the while praying it wasn’t one of my sheep. I got my wood and walked back inside, closing the door behind me.

I wanted to head out to the barn and check on my sheep but I knew that it was just too dark so I cozied up on the couch and did my morning meditation and waited till the sun was up.

The sheep were fine but hearing the sounds of those coyotes left me incredibly uneasy. With David heading out of town that day, I was scared of what may happen while he was gone. Luckily, Joel, David’s cousin lives on the property and I know I could always count on him to help when need be. So I went on with my day which involved walking the perimeter of the property with my dogs looking for possible holes where the coyotes could have gotten in. Maddy, our pitbull has the most incredible nose and immediately took me to three separate and large openings where something had dug a space big enough for her to climb under. After we finished our walk about I had Joel fix them with the hopes that those were the only spots and my sheep would be safe from now on.

Later that evening, around 7:30 pm, I let the dogs out to go to the bathroom. I’ve been hesitant the last few nights to do so and hung around the back door to make sure all was ok. When they didn’t return after a few minutes (they always do at night, especially when it is as cold as it has been), I threw on my jacket and muck boots and headed out to look for them. I didn’t have to go far. All three were standing on the side of the house barking at something.

As I got closer to the rail of the deck, whatever was out there got spooked and suddenly, seven sets of eyes ran past the barn on the gravel driveway. &*$%! My heart sank into my stomach and my first thought was that it was a pack of coyotes stalking my sheep! As I turned to run back in the house and get my phone I noticed that one of them had horns and quickly realized that they weren’t coyotes but rather some of my sheep. I squinted my eyes to get a better look because for one, it was pitch black out and there was fog as thick as pea soup, and notices another set of horns.

I turned quickly and ran back into the house grabbing my phone and called Joel. I told him he need to get down to the barn right away and hung up and headed back outside. Sheep are usually pretty easy to gain control over. If you get one to follow you, you get them all, and the goats, well, if you have a treat, they are sure to go wherever it goes. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case on this night.

As I started to walk across the lawn towards the barn I noticed that it wasn’t just the seven sheep it was ALL twenty-one sheep and our four goats. Crap, I thought. I must have somehow left the gate open in the barn which made it even worse, knowing that it was my own damn fault! I stood their frozen just starring at not seven pairs of eyes but TWENTY-FIVE! starring right back at me.

I thought maybe my sheep charming skills would work so I tried that first, cooing sweet nothings while holding out my hand as if I had a tasty treat for them. Lesson number one, sheep are a lot smarter then you think and have excellent senses so if I thought I could fool them into thinking I had something when I didn’t, well, the only real fool there was me!

So, I told them to stay put (please feel free to laugh at me now) and tip toed to the barn as not wanting to scare them into running in the opposite direction. Since we don’t really have sheep treats I thought of the next best thing, chicken food! I scooped a bunch into a bucket and headed back out shaking it back and forth, a sure signal to them that I ACTUALLY had a treat this time. But here was the thing. It was pitch black and foggy as hell so they couldn’t see that it was me and not some big, mean, mangy predator trying to lure them into a trap.  Heck, who am I kidding, most of them usually think I’m a big mean mangy predator even when it’s light out. But, I usually can always get the attention of one which means I’ve got the attention of  all. Not this time.

Starting to fear that I would have to sleep outside with my shotgun perched over my shoulder while I protected my flock, I started to panic a little on the inside, conscious of the fact that I could not let them smell my fear as it would only make it worse.

Finally, I saw the beam of Joel’s flashlight coming from the opposite direction. Unfortunately, I was standing right where they needed to go to get back into the pasture and with me there, they definitely wouldn’t head that way. I started to walking to the left,  the direction to get around them and must have spooked one of the wooly bastards (I say that with love)  because they took off around Joel and headed straight for the vineyard. If they entered it, we were done for. We’d loose them for good, until the morning when we could see where they went. Even more of an opportunity for a coyote to get one.

I headed off to the left and ran along the vineyard until eventually, they stopped. By this time, we were halfway up to the entrance of the property and I was starting to run out of patience which isn’t a good thing when you are working with livestock. I remembered what David had once told me when we were trying to move the sheep from the smaller pasture to the big one down by the barn. Never push them from behind, always flank them. So, I came up on their side and started to push them so to speak, back towards the barn. You are not really pushing them but guiding them with your body. With a momentary stop to graze on the grassy knoll by the garden, we finally got them heading back in the right direction on the gravel road and then they stopped again.

At this point, I was about ready to go get a dog collar and leash and start walking them back in one at a time. Seriously. I was. But I knew this really wouldn’t work because for one thing, I’d never catch them but also when a sheep doesn’t want to move, they put on their breaks by locking their knees. FINALLY, Joel go the attention of one of the goats and they all started to walk in a single file line back to the barn. Seriously. That is all it took. One minute they were determined to ignore our offers of tasty chicken treats and then the next, they just couldn’t deny their taste buds any longer.

With the exception of a few stubborn ones, they all made it back. I hid behind the gate as the last five pranced back in, slamming the door behind them for dramatic effect only to realize I needed to go in myself to make sure all were accounted for.

After my head count was complete, I apologized to Joel for my silly mistake and headed back into the house. As I finally got all cozy on the couch I laughed out loud thanking the Universe for adding a little excitement to my life. As much as I love to add the slightest touch of annoyance to my stories, I love every minute of it each adventure I have on the farm. So yes Universe, I DO think I’m cut out for this thank you very much!

The Case of the Missing Eggs, er…I Mean Chicken

Our ladies have been faithful layers ever since they started laying back last January. While I was reading up on hen care I once read that they will slow their laying or stop all together during molting, which is when they lose older feathers and grow new ones. But the specifics of molting vary from hen to hen and usually don’t affect them until they are at least 12 to 14 months. Which is our gals exact age.

When we decided to get chickens it was really important to us to have a mobile chicken coop so we could move them all over the property to fertilize the grounds and do their natural job of cleaning up of various bugs, etc. The only downside to having a mobile coop is that we need to have some kind of electric fence that could protect them from potential predators. We got a 40 foot some what light weight fence that we could encase the ladies in that would give us piece of mind. Unfortunately, over time we got tired of having to move the coop and the fence every time we wanted to move them to a new location so we decided to let them be ‘real’ free range chickens and put them back in the pasture out by barn to roam freely with our sheep and goats. We knew the potential for loss was greater but we also realized they would be a lot happier having a huge chunk of land to explore rather then a 40 foot diameter of space. So, we parked the coop in one spot and its been there ever since.

All of our animals act somewhat out of what we’d considered to be normal character. Our goats, well, they I suppose act normal. Those crazy little guys. Goats are notorious for jumping fences, getting into trouble and causing their owners lots of headaches and ours are no different. Our sheep are very independent. They separate, sometimes wandering off by themselves to the far corners of the pasture and it stresses me out. Sheep are prey animals but they are also very intelligent. At least in my opinion.

Our chickens are very independent. When we first put them back in the pasture and let them roam freely they stayed pretty close to home, venturing only as far as the first little pasture but no further then the gate. As time went by I observed them getting increasingly braver moving into the second pasture, further away from their coop and the barn. But, I told myself that chickens will be chickens and at that point we were still getting our four eggs daily and all was fine and dandy.

 Our egg production started to decrease significantly over the past month and I naturally suspected that the ladies were starting to molt. I didn’t think much of it until the other day when one of our chickens went missing. Golden Hen is our  favorite. Her sweet disposition paired with approachability makes her the perfect hen. And she always laid great quality eggs. So naturally we were both saddened when we thought we lost her.

 D was out checking on the animals when he called me from his cell phone and told me that Goldie Hen was missing. I quickly ran out to help look for her. The other three hens were hanging close to home and we both thought it was abnormal for Goldie to leave her lady friends. If they do venture off they are usually all together or one hangs back by the barn or in their coop. Not the reverse. They never have ventured off into the other pastures by themself.

We searched all over for her but drew the conclusion that something must have gotten her and headed back inside with heavy hearts. It’s never easy losing a pet and our ladies are pets to us.

Later that afternoon I went back out to the pasture to check once again. Just to be sure and low and behold there she was. Just walking around, pecking at the ground. When she saw me she ran frantically, crouching down signifying to me that she wanted pets. I knelt down and softly stroked her back just happy she was alive and well. I decided that she must fancy one of the sheep and followed it out to the back pasture while it grazed and came back when it did.

The next day I let the gals out of their coop in the morning and headed back into the house to take care of a few things. Around mid-morning I headed back out to the barn to meet the mobile vet who was checking on one of our lambs and noticed Goldie missing again. Where the heck is she going I thought to myself. Once the vet left I walked the pasture once more to see if maybe I could find her. I went everywhere. In the woods, by the pond, to ever far corner but still nothing. As I walked back to the barn it hit me. I had noticed that the hens were crawling under the big long feeder that we have against the wall in the barn to feed all the goats and sheep. Maybe, just maybe, she’s under there.

This is a picture of the long feeder on one of the walls.

And I was right. As I crouched down low and behold there she was. Goldie Hen was tucked back on the far left corner, obviously brooding on something. I stuck my hand in to try and move her but she nipped at me. Crap. How the heck am I suppose to get her out? I realized this may be harder than I thought and I needed to see if she was laying her eggs there or if she was just nesting. I stuck my hand in once more bracing myself for her beak to meet my hand but this time she actually let me feel under her. What I found was horrifying.

Not one, not two or even three eggs but as I moved my hand around under her I could feel up to 20 eggs. Holy crap. Not only has Goldie Hen been laying under the feeder but Gwen and Big Red have as well. We had been getting green eggs consistently in their chicken coop so I knew Mary was laying hers in there. But all the others, they had made a nice nest under the chicken coop and were taking turns laying there. UGH!

A feeling of anger swept over me. How dare they!  Then I broke out in a fit of laughter. I realized we needed to find ever last egg that could possibly have been laid under the feeders otherwise they could potentially rot and attracted rodents and I don’t mess with rats.

So I called D’s cousin to come down and help me since D himself wasn’t home. If you remember my post about the lamb a week or so ago you may remember me talking about how something ALWAYS happens when D isn’t home. See, I wasn’t lying!

Joel came down to the barn and we slowly began removing the eggs one by one. In total, there were 53 eggs. That’s almost four and a half-dozen eggs. Eggs that people have been asking for but I hadn’t had any to sell.

Moral of the story? Chickens are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. Needless to say, we are boarding up the feeder so there are no more holes they can fit through. Hopefully, when all is said and done they will start laying in their coop again.

One could only hope.

A Lil’ More About Me

First of all, I’d like to give a big welcome to all my new followers from over the course of the last week and of course, a big hello to all of you who have been following for awhile now!

I would love it if you would follow me on some of my other platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram (under Bullfrogs and Bulldogs). I often post things on these sites that I may or may not post here so I wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything!

Today I thought I’d share a little bit more of me with all of you and have tried to come up with a few things you may or may not know about me. You can always read the ‘about me’ tab to find out more.

To start, this is me and my hubby, David or D as I often refer to him here. Oh, and two of our 14 lambs our sheep birthed this past spring. This is Lily (white) and Money (black). My friends 3 year old daughter Lily named them :) They also happen to be our two favorite because they have personalities as if they were dogs.

And a few things about me:

1. I could eat the same meal day in and day out, never tiring of it…rice, beans, guacamole, and hot sauce.

2. And speaking of  hot sauce, I put the stuff  on everything. The hotter the better. I’m a Tapatio, sometimes Cholula,  girl all the way.

3. A few years back I went to Taiwan to visit a friend and decided (while visiting) to move there…ASAP. I returned home, sold all my belongings, even my car, quite my job and three weeks later was teaching English on the little island off the cost of China.

4. One of my dreams is to write a book. I have a million little  stories running through my head at any given time and even have characters and plots but every time I sit down to write I get that good old writer’s block.

5. I am terrified of snakes yet, also very intrigued by them. We have Gopher snakes on the property and they make my skin crawl but I always find myself having to just go take a look at them, squealing when I see it.

6. I read magazines from back to front. I have no idea why, just always have.

7. I’m a cat girl. I love having dogs but cats hold a very special place in my heart. I volunteered at a Cat Rescue but had to quite because I brought home three, eventually giving one to my parents.

8. My dream job, beside becoming a best selling author, is to own an animal sanctuary and rescue abused/mistreated animals. Even Elephants in Asia who are used pretty much as circus freaks for people to ride. I suppose I’d have to have several sanctuaries all around the world.

9. When I was little I wanted to work at McDonalds when I grew up. Yep, I sure did. I really just wanted to work at the cash register. That was short lived once my parents brought home one for me to play with and that dream died.

10. I’m in the process of getting my Yoga Teaching Certification. It’s been a long process but I only have one assignment left. I love yoga, I love what it had brought to my life, but I’m terrified of teaching it.

11. I have been told I”m very dramatic my whole life but I always wanted to be an actor but was painfully shy.

12. My nickname all through junior high and high school was Chelsea Clinton. I had chubby cheeks, braces, and naturally curly hair I always wore in a ponytail.

13. When I was 24 years old I had two feet of my colon removed because I had a pre-cancerous polyp. Due to an infection from my surgery I had to undergo emergency surgery and have an iliostomy bag for a little under two months. That experience changed me in so many ways, physically, emotionally, and mentally, and all for the better. It’s actually a hereditary things because my older brother, mom, and grandfather have all had colon cancer. And ALL survived!

14. I’m a lark or in other words, a morning person. I love nothing more then to get up at 6am, get my cup of tea and have the first two hours of the day all to myself. I accomplish more before 10AM then I do the rest of the day.

15. I participated in an Olympic distance triathlon three years ago in Hawaii and came in 9th for my age group. I was pretty proud of myself.

16. I started my college education at WSU (Washington State University) in 1999 and finished it at Seattle University with a degree in Psychology in 2006. I majored in Psychology because I wanted to understand people more, not necessarily do anything with it although I think being  forensic psychologist would be fascinating. I wonder if it’s really like all the TV shows?

17. Speaking of those shows, one of my favorites is Criminal Minds. It’s creepy and I love how intense it can be but not how I can’t sleep after. It’s made me quite paranoid.

18. D and I dated briefly when he lived in Seattle and then he moved and we never talked again until one random November evening four years later I got the best facebook message from him (and no, were weren’t even friends on FB) and we’ve talked every single day since.  He’s my best friends.

19. D and I don’t have cable. We got rid of it in March when we got back from Asia and it’s actually quite nice. We do however watch an insane amount of movies and the occasional TV show on hulu when we are lying in bed.

20. Before moving in with D, I had little to no desire for anything DIY or craft related. I loved doing crafts and drawing when I was little, but it wasn’t until about year ago that I really developed a huge interest in it all.

21. I started this blog as a way to write about my transition from city life to country life but it’s seemed to turn into more of a DIY and food blog. I’m hoping to incorporate more about my life here in the boonies moving forward while continuing to share all about the fun things I do to our home and with food.

22. I’ve never broken a bone. Knock on wood.

23. I’m the only girl between  my older brother, Tyler and a younger brother, Nick. I have so much respect for these two guys. I hope they know how much I look up to them and admire who they are.

Nick on left, Tyler on right and my nephew (Tyler’s baby) Henry in the middle.

And here is us when we were little…

24. D and I are considering going to India and Nepal next winter…if you’ve been, we’d love any advice. It terrifies me and thrills me all at the same time.

and last but not least…

25. I’m so grateful to each and everyone of you for reading my blog. I absolutely love sharing with you all and love the feedback I get. So thank you!

Will I Ever Be A Real Shepard?

When I was little my pets were my life. Wherever I went they went as well (whether or not it was by choice). When we got our Golden Retriever Bud, he soon became my best friend too as well as my hamster, MC Hamster, the bunny rabbit our neighbors found and gave to us, and every bird I found in the yard that flew into the window. I had dreams and aspirations of having my own animal sanctuary one day, and working at McDonald’s but that is for another story. I wanted to save Every. Single. Animals that came my way.

I once volunteered at a shelter for cats but had to quite because I kept bringing them home because they were sick and needed one on one care but quickly realized that being a single 20-something and having three cats was A) not exactly super attractive and B) well, okay, it was just not very attractive! So, my lovely parents took one of them and he is quite happy (and large) in his forever home with them.

I’m also known for pulling over and ‘rescuing’ stray dogs whenever I come across one. The funny thing is I seem to forget I live in the country. Just because a dog is walking down the side of the road doesn’t mean he is lost or a stray. I learned that the hard way when I called one owner and was met with an unwelcome response.

Overall, I think we can learn a lot from the furry little (and big ones) and they have always held a special place in my heart.

The other day, Wednesday to be exact, it was decided that three of the male lambs were ready to be castrated. Little Money, Joey, and Bubba needed to lose their ‘manhood’ so to speak and D was too busy to do it and that left me.

I’ve read the books, researched online, and D even explained it to me but I guess nothing could really prepare me for what I was about to have to do.

As I walked out to the barn I spotted Joel, D’s cousin, and told him I needed his help to castrate three of the little guys. He mumbled something about ‘wow, that sounds likefun’ in a sarcastic tone. Ignoring whatever he said and totally lost in my own thoughts of convincing myself that I am a farm girl, I told myself it’s the law of the land. Toughen up or get out, right? It’s either this or having five angry rams trying to kill each other and mating with every girl along the way.

I walk into the office to grab the Elastrator which is kind of like the terminator but instead it’s for um, well, you know. I grab the devise, the little green plastic bands, and the jar of iodine to dip the bands in and proceed into the pen where the sweet, unassuming little guys slept.  They perk up when they see me and my heart aches for what I am about to do.

I walk over to Money, sighing out a long breath, pick him up and hold him for a minute.

“Sorry little buddy. You are my favorite and I’m afraid this may change your opinion of me but please know that I have no choice. It’s either this or the butcher and the latter just isn’t a choice in the matter.”

I decided to grab Joey and his brother Bubba after I take care of Money because first of all, those two are next to impossible to catch, and I just wasn’t ready to have them running around under my feet in the pen while I’m concentrating on taking Money’s ‘stuff’ into my own hands (no pun intended here).

I hand Money over to Joel and show him how he needs to hold him which I remember while holding Roger while D castrated him a week prior.

Now here is the thing. The early you do this the better. I mean, it makes sense and all. The problem is, you really don’t have a say in when the little guys drop their manhood’s. Yep, you read that right. There little berries need to drop from someplace up high, like their brain or something. Roger’s dropped pretty quick but Money, Joey, and Bubba, well it was still questionable whether they both were there or not. And yes, of course there is only one way to check and if you saw my facebook post from last week you’d put two and two together and realize THAT was why I was peed on by Money.

So here we are, Joel is holding Money with one arm under his bum and the other securely around his belly. Oh yeah, by the way, have you ever heard a lamb cry? Well, it’s one of the most heart breaking things you can hear. It’s a completely distressed, high pitched scream and it makes your heart break into a thousand little pieces. But Money is just that. He is Money, 100 % awesomeness and if he cries you know something is wrong. He is one of the most chilled out lambs in our flock. He and his sister never run from us but TO us and they are our special little ones.

So here I am, elastrator in hand, I pick up a green band, place it around the four prongs on the device and dip it in the jar of iodine. I take a deep, desperate breath as if grasping for just a little bit more courage and strength, and grab the handle of the device to open the green band as wide as it can go. I approach Money’s um, things, and put the band around them trying to make sure both are there. He doesn’t do much at this point and I breath a sign of relief and think to myself, “see, you can do this Amanda!”

Then I close the band around his bits and he squirms and lets out a shriek that would break even the most cold-hearted of hearts. I begin to panic as I can’t get the band off from the device. I try to remind myself to breath and that we have to do this and he will only feel pain for 30 minutes or so. After a good minute of struggle I finally get the device unlatched from the band and feel that both are securely in there.  All seems well and I grab Money in my arms and rock him for a minute cooing in his ear, promising that I will never hurt him like that again.

I place him on the ground and he immediately lays down, then trying to stand he can’t and falls back down. Oh great, I’ve done something wrong! I lift him to his feet and feel underneath and low and behold, one of those little guys is nowhere to be found and I begin to lose it. $%*@ – %&* $ – #@%$ is all I can think and I tell Joel I need to run and get David trying desperately to hold back the tears.

As I run from the barn there was no holding back. It was a sea of  liquid rolling down my face and all I could think of was how I just mutilated this poor little lamb. I run across the lawn cursing myself and D’s schedule and burst through the door. I turn the corner into the office and D sees my face and starts questioning me with worry in his voice. It takes me a minute before I can explain what happened.

“I, I, I only got ONE!!!” I cried out

“Okay”

“God, I’ve mutilated him!” I scream in my normal dramatic fashion

(I’m sobbing uncontrollably at this point)

“Babe, come on, let’s go see”

He grabs his scissors and me and we head back out. D consoled me on the way back  and I was able to reel it in by the time we turned the corner into the barn.

Money was just lying there not doing much and D picks him up and well, there was only one in there. D hands him to Joel and proceeds to cut the band off which seemed painful in itself and I quickly backed up and into the other pen and made up the excuse that I was going to get the other two. Once they got the band off we decided that Money deserved a little break and true to his nature, he was off bouncing around and smelling the butt of one of the other lambs and forgot all about it in no time.

I rounded up Joey and Bubba and from a distance (and because D insisted) I watched as D castrated all three in a matter of no time. All bits and pieces accounted for.

We released them back into the big pen with their moms and all three immediately laid down and for the next hour shifted back and forth trying to fight off the discomfort that comes with having your berries put into an elastic band.

All three have fully recovered and are back to their normal selves. Me on the other hand, I’m not sure I ever will.

And I wonder, will I ever be a real Shepard?

Here is Money on day three:

Amanda Had A Little Lamb, Little Lamb, Little Lamb…

About five months ago we introduced Goober Jr (or the sperm donor as seen in this post) to our seven ewes and he successfully did his job because on Thursday our first mama delivered the first of his babes! All I have to say is way to go Goobs!

D an I are new to lambing (obviously) and for the last few weeks we have eagerly been awaiting the first of many new additions to our little farm we have going here. We thought Big Mama was going into labor about two weeks ago when D’s parents were in town …but she wasn’t. Ms. White was and she produced not one but TWO beautiful baby girls, Snowflake and Spot. (Snowflake was ALL D pick out. He has such a sweet and sensitive side)

Big Mama

Ms. White

Snowflake

Spot

(because she has a spot on her head and neck)

If you are curious how the delivery went well, she popped them out like the champ she is. I have to admit, I have been so incredibly nervous about the deliveries even going as far as buying shoulder length rubber gloves in case I have to ‘go in’ and assist. Yep, that’s right, I could quite possibly have to become a labor and delivery nurse and I’ve been reading up on what to do. Although I’m not the best under pressure and stress and tend to panic. Anyway, so far no help from mid wife Amanda has really been needed other then to cut the umbilical cord, dip it in iodine and dock the tails. Yes, you read that right. Most sheep aren’t born with that short stubby tail, only certain breeds. When they are right around three days old (and definitely before seven) the Shepard (that’s D and I) has to apply a fairly tight rubber band about one inch down the lambs tail. This shuts off blood supply to the end of the tail and within a week it falls off. We also have to use the same method to castrate the males which has so far only been one…thank God.

In all honesty, if it wasn’t for sanitary reasons we wouldn’t dock the tails and if it wasn’t for the fact that D and I aren’t butchering (for obvious reasons) and we can’t have an un-castarated male running around (for other obvious reasons) D and I wouldn’t do so either. This aspect of farm life is pretty hard on the both of us but we had to remove the emotional aspect and think about what is actually best for the animals in the long run and what their primary purpose is for us. Since we are vegan we no longer plan to butcher but rather use the sheep in the vineyard to ‘mow’ the cover crop and fertilize the soil so to speak. And let’s be honest here, I plan on having a huge flock of sheep as my little pets :)

So back to the delivery. For the past week or so D and I have been doing nightly check ups on the girl which requires us to set an alarm and get up during the middle of the night to go check on the mamas. Since we heard that sheep tend to deliver in the middle of the night because it’s less risky as a prey animal, we just figured ours were like every one else.

Thursday morning I woke early and headed out to the barn around 6am. Usually the girls are still laying around on the hay but this particular morning they were no where to be seen but I thought nothing more of it as we have a pretty big pasture for them to roam. As I was walking back to I spotted the flock off in the distance grazing on the crest of a small hills in the the middle of the pasture and I headed inside.

About fifteen minutes later as I was doing some dishes in the sink I looked out into the distance and notice that I could only see six of the gals. This is somewhat unusual as sheep tend to always stay together as they are prey animals and it’s safer in a group. Unless they are about to deliver and then they usually go off by themselves to do so. I got a strange feeling in my gut and I yelled up to D that I could only see six of the girls out in the pasture. D put on his boots and headed out to the barn to see if the missing one had found her way back there. I on the other hand ran out to the pasture where the others were. As I approached and realized it was Ms. White who was missing, I noticed her off to the left about 30 feet away. I breathed a sign of relief but suddenly noticed she look a lot skinnier then the day before. That’s when she turned her backside to me and I realized what had happened. Without getting too graphic, it was obvious she had delivered her babe and right as I put two and two together, I saw a little head pop up and my heart dropped into my stomach.

D and I had been preparing for this moment for a long time but the reality of the situation was unlike anything I expected. I was filled with mixed emotions of excitement and fear and as I jumped over the electric fence careful not to scare Ms. White, I called out to D across the field in the barn to get up here now! This wasn’t the ideal situation for lambing. Ms. White had given birth out in the pasture and we needed to get her and the lamb back into the barn into a pen where mother and lamb are suppose to stay for several days to ensure they bond. The only way to do so is carry the lamb back and hope the mom follows. Easy, right?

As D approached the mama got freaked. She was attempting to clean her baby, the beginning of the bonding process, when here comes a predator to snatch up her baby and take it away. D picked up the baby and slowly, making sure Ms. White saw where her baby was going, lead her back down to the barn. This wasn’t as easy as I’m making it out to be of course. A couple times D had to put the lamb down so the Ms. White could run over to it and lick it and make sure it was safe.

Eventually Ms. White and baby were safe and sound in their pen and D left for a very important meeting and I was left with Joel, D’s cousin to watch the mama and baby to ensure that they do in fact bond and that the baby was eating. Sometime after nine-thirty I noticed that Ms. White was starting to act funny. She was pawing at the ground a lot, pointing her nose in the air and grinding her teeth and seemed rather uncomfortable. Remember something I read in one of my sheep books, I realized that Ms. White was having contractions. She was going into labor AGAIN!

Once when I was twenty-two I was invited to be in the room when a close friend of mine was giving birth. I thought hey, why not! This would be a pretty cool thing to witness. Right about the time the head started coming out I ran out of the room with tears in my eyes and called my mom sobbing into the phone that I was never having kids. Well, somehow right as the hooves were coming out of Ms. White I realized there was something in the house that I needed to go get and left Joel to make sure the delivery went okay. (I may have to rethink who will actually be wearing those shoulder length rubber gloves if need be…Mid-Wife Joel?)

Almost three hours after her first baby was born Ms. White gave birth to another little girl! TWINS Snowflake and Spot were brought into this world!

Now D and I knew for sure that it was game time and I cancelled my impending trip to Seattle because I knew that I couldn’t leave during such an incredible time as this. That night we set our alarm clock for two-thirty in the morning and when we went out to the barn, there were no visible signs that any of the other six were going into labor. When I woke again at about six, I threw on my muck boots and headed out there to check again. As I approached the opening of the barn I saw through the wire of the feeder, two little black legs jumping up and down. WHAT?!?! Before I even checked on the mom I ran back inside to get D. He jumped out of bed and we both ran back out to the barn. As I entered the main resting area for the sheep I noticed one of our Jacobs, Doris, lying there with not one baby but TWO! Holy Moly! Two sets of adorable twins! And even more impressive, they were already standing, running around and feeding, and completely cleaned off. She must have gone into labor right after we left in the middle of the night. Amazing.

And without further adue…

Doris

Mimi

and Roger

So, it’s been two days and no sign of the others going into labor. Other then the fact that I seriously can’t imagine how they could get any bigger. They are HUGE! So the countdown is on. Could we get more twins? Triplets? Will I have to assist or will I faint and D or Joel have to jump in and take over. The excitement is almost unbearable!

Who will go next?

To be continued…

What Do You Do When Your Cat’s Stuck in a Tree?

Before moving to the country, I lived in apartments and homes where my cats were predominately indoors only. When we first moved into D’s home last May, I was hesitant to let my cats out because I was afraid that they would a) become food for something or b) get lost on the property and not be able to find their way back. Yes, I’m a tad bit paranoid but I love my little furry family members and wanted to shelter them from anything bad happening to them. But, they are cats and well, cats will be cats and they wanted to run free and feel the wind in their fur so I let them out during the day. Well, about two months after moving in my cat Lucy was killed by something at dusk and that left only Oliver, my fluffy tail orange Tabby.

Unlike Lucy, Oliver has always had a good understanding of the meaning of predators. That much was obvious whenever you watch him run across the yard. Hunched down, constantly looking around him and up into the sky whereas Lucy, God rest her soul, was completely oblivious to anything. She had no idea that there were things out there that didn’t want to be her friend.

When Lucy was killed Oliver went through a brief mourning period (he did, trust me. He seemed sad, very confused and lost) and that’s when I decided that Oliver needed to have a little more freedom. As much as I wanted to tighten in the reigns and never lose sight of him, but I knew that this just wasn’t going to cut it. Oliver has a longing for adventure and to hunt and there was no keeping him indoors.

So, he started coming and going as he pleased at all hours of the day and in no time he had made friends with D’s cousin’s cat Buddy and they explored the nights together. Every morning I could always count on my little buddy sitting on-top of the towel I placed on the BBQ, starring in the window to notify me he was ready to come in. Except, yesterday morning he wasn’t there.

My first thought was that it was unlike him and strange. He is a kitty of habit and I always knew he’d be on his spot in the morning. Unless, something was wrong and he couldn’t make it to his spot. I calmly put on my muck boots and jacket and told myself I had to go let the chickens out any way so I might as well check around the yard to see if he’d possibly forgotten which door to come to. I know, but seriously, I had to tell myself something because I was trying to remain calm and not let my mind go to those dark places where coyotes get on the property and find their way to my fluffy orange tabby.

As I walked around the yard I called his name hoping that he would just hop out from behind a tree as if he was saying “boo mom! I was just trying to scare you!” But he didn’t and I continued to call out to him. As I was walking back onto the deck, my heart aching fear and sadness,  I called once more and instead of silence, I heard a soft ‘meow’ in the distance and stopped in my tracks. I called again, and the same. “MEEOOOW!” Okay, I knew he was alive and that was good. But where was he? I walked back into the yard and called out again and again following the desperate cries in the distance until I was just on the border of the vineyard in a clearing that had three 60 foot pine trees. I stood at the bottom trying to figure out where he was until his last cry had my eyes trace up towards the sky and there I saw it. My poor, defenseless house-kitty stuck 30-35 feet up in the tree. WTH! How the hell did he get up there?

The tree

After a moment of just staring at him in sheer shock that he actually knew how to climb a tree, hey, he WAS a city cat after all, I turned and ran at full speed back towards the house to get D. You would have though the base of the tree was one fire with the speed I ran but my poor kitty was stuck up there and I’ll be damned if I did. not. do. something!

(side note: I have been known to go to great lengths to save animals so what I am about to share may seem… well, a little too much effort to some but to me, it’s all part of my make up…so don’t judge. lol)

I burst through the bedroom door out of breath and D starred at me in confusion as I tried to explain to him what was wrong. Bent over and out of breath, I finally managed to get out that Oliver was stuck in a tree ’40′ feet off the ground and he can’t get down!!!

“He’s a cat Amanda. Just leave him alone, he’ll climb down.”

“No, you don’t understand. I’ve NEVER seen him climb a tree before. I think something chased him up there and now he has no idea how to get down!!”

“What do you want me to do? I really think if we just leave him alone he’ll come down”

“Noooooo! You don’t understand!! HE. IS. STUCK! HELP HIM!”

I turned and ran back outside and did what any right minded, cat loving, country girl would do. I called the fire department.

After a somewhat embarrassing conversation with the woman on the other end, she basically told me to just get a ladder, place it against the tree with some food at the bottom and eventually, when he is hungry enough, he will come down. She OBVIOUSLY didn’t know MY cat or me.

A few moments later D joined me under the tree and after a few minutes of trying to coax him out I told him to go get the tallest ladder we have and a long rope, “I am going to get my harness and climb this bitch and save my cat!”

Not so much.

That idea was shot down quicker then it took me to tell him. “Fine, go get the tallest ladder and I’ll go get him some food and we’ll just place the ladder against the tree and try to entice him down with food. I’m sure he is starving since I just know he’s been up there all night long.”

After we got the ladder in place and the food at the base of the ladder, we decided that we would go inside for a bit and he would come down on his own. After an hour and a half I went back out and saw that he had made no attempt to get his butt out of the tree. At this point D was in a meeting with some vineyard people and I was left at the base of the tree talking to my cat. A few minutes later I saw Joel, D’s cousin coming out on the quad. As he pulled up his cat Buddy jumped off his lap and ran over to the tree. “Wait, your cat rides the quad with you?” My cat gets stuck in a damn tree and his cat rides quads? Awesome.

It took a moment but once Buddy realized Oliver was up in the tree he began to panic, circling the tree, meowing frantically and both Joel and I had to chuckle. They really ARE best friends. I thought that was just something I made up to be funny. Buddy sat at the bottom of the tree looking up and cried out to Oliver. I assumed he was trying to explain to my poor city cat how country cats go about getting out of tree. Obviously, right?

After 30 more minutes and Oliver almost falling out of the tree I started to panic. And after calling the Humane Society to see if they knew of someone who would rescue cats out of trees and being laughed at by the woman on the other end, I started to get angry.

“Isn’t there something we can rent to get up to his level and get him out?”

“Well, I can call and see how much renting a cherry picker is.”

“Do it.”

A few moments later, D’s meeting ended and he joined us back under the tree. I told him we were going to rent a cherry picker and they would lift me up to Oliver and I would grab him out of the tree. After a brief chuckle he realized I wasn’t joking. “This is what you really want me to do.” As he said it tears started welling up in my eyes and and I cried out that I didn’t want another dead cat and I certainly don’t want him dying by falling to his death! He said okay and Joel and D went back up to the barn to make arrangements.

Buddy and I stuck around the tree but after a few minutes and realizing that neither Joel nor D had left to go get the cherry picker I left Oliver in the tree and Buddy at the base crying up to him and went back up to the barn.

“What are you doing? Why haven’t you left?

“I just wanted to make sure you really want me to rent this thing.”

“Fine, don’t. Just let my cat die. But let me say this, YOU DON’T want to be around me if THAT happens!”

Just then David yelled out…

“$%@*, he’s on the ladder! He’s on the ladder!”

I took off running back out to the vineyard and low and behold, Oliver was balancing on the top of the ladder and by the time I reached it, he was scurrying down the tree to join Buddy. I ran to pick him up and make sure he wasn’t hurt in any way and he hissed at me. What the hell? He wanted nothing to do with me and he and Buddy frolicked off in the tall grass. When I eventually caught up with him and I picked him up and he growled at me. Wow, love you too little buddy. I can only hope that one day he will understand a mother’s love.

I carried him back inside and needless to say, guess who wont be going back outside at night any time soon?

Moral of the story is this. If your cat climbs a tree and gets stuck, just wait, he will climb down.

Do you have any fun cat stories? I’d love to hear them!

This post is linked up at Serenity Now!