Thursday, 24 December 2015

A Cat Named Tore

Several months ago one of our neighbours moved away.  It was really upsetting to everyone in the community, but probably most of all a pair or semi-feral cats that she had living in her barn.  Turns out she would feed them on occasion in order to keep them around to help keep the rodent population down.  Since she left there has been no occasional bowl of cat food and so they seemed to have made out way to our house! Well our shop, to be precise.

Our shop is mouse and pack rat riddled.  It's disgusting and freaky because you can hear them, but you can't see them... But I don't blame them at all.  We happen to keep a lot of feed in the shop.  It's like rodent heaven.  So the arrival of cats is awesome! Even more awesome for me because I actually like cats and a change from the constant presence of dogs (we're at 14 now) is kind of nice!

There is one really tiny little black one that you only ever see if he doesn't realize you're there.  If he sees you he bolts.  I have no idea if he is getting any of the food we put out for them  but he hangs around the chicken coop a lot...

The other is only partly wild.  More tame then wild I'd say, as in  he'll let you pet him, but don't try to pick him up.  I was watering the sheep the other day and he came and hung out with me.  He looks kind of like a Siamese cross with these really weird eyes and one torn up ear.  Hence his new name, Tore.

So now in addition to the cows, horses, sheep, donkeys, lama, guinea fowl, chickens, ducks, and dogs (!!), we now "have" two cats!

Although, similar to Little Orphan Lamby, Tore likes to hang around on our deck and beg for food.  Super annoying, but also super stupid!  We have 14 dogs, Cat!  What are you doing hanging around the house?!  He might not be the smartest cat in the shop... Though Little Orphan Lamby is still kicking around, so maybe it's alright...  I guess he didn't get his torn up ear for nothing though...

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

No, that's not a heart lying on the floor...

I just witnessed probably the third most disgusting thing I have ever seen in my life.  And of coarse it happened right here on the ranch.

So I am in the mudroom of our house, putting on my boots to go outside when I see what almost looks like a heart, just sitting there in the middle of the floor, all wet and slimy.  It even had tubes sticking out of it.  I even called Partner #2 downstairs to see if she could figure it out and she thought it was a heart too. Against my better judgement, I even touched it to flip it over.  A move that is at this very moment inducing my gag-reflex...

Now, let me throw a little ranch know-how at you: one of the most common methods for castrating young animals is called "banding".  That is when you put a very small elastic band around the scrotum with an almost reverse set of pliers.  Almost immediately the animal loses blood supply to the area and over time the sack shrivels up and falls off.  Except for the initial elastic placement, it is almost entirely painless for the animal.

So, yep... you guessed it.  The thing that was lying on the floor in my house was not a heart (which is bad enough), but a juicy pair of calf nuts.  And no sooner had I realized what it was, did a dog snatch it up and proceed to noisily and hastily munch on this rotting, stinking treat...

Commence scouring hands.

There has been one other occasion where I witnessed something similar, but it was a pair of fluffy little lamb nuts.  So not nearly as gag-inducing.

This was utterly disgusting.

Now our mudroom stinks like rotten testicles and our dog is happier then heck with a belly full of calf nuts...

This is my life.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

The Beginning of the End

This morning I woke up to this.

It is the beginning of the end in my book.

It is far to early for this junk.  This time last year I was all sunshine and roses about Fall and how pretty it is and how this year, This Year!, was going to be different! I was going to l-o-v-e winter!  It was going to be beautiful and fluffy and not at all life-threateningly cold...  But who was I kidding.  When I saw this outside my window this morning I was tempted to dress all in black and proceed with a 6-month mourning period of the Sun until it's magical resurrection in the Spring.  The Sun is my Jesus.

Why have I chosen to live in a place where the weather could kill me?  Where the wind hurts my face and the cold makes my teeth ache??

At first I was in denial.  "It must be ash.  Surely there is a massive forest fire on the mountain raining down all these snow-like particles. No way it is snow." It is only November 3rd, dammit!

I am such a whiner.  It all melted within the hour, but still it is a warning of what is to come!  Last year we had a couple of really good storms, but we didn't even have snow on the ground at Christmas! It was a pretty darn mild winter last year and I have a feeling this year Mother Nature is going to make up for it...

To be fair the fall is really really pretty around these parts and I do love that.  Too bad it only lasts 2 weeks.  

Ollie concentrating intensely 

And that is it.  I just needed someone to commiserate with.  Plus I had a couple pictures to share.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Naming Ranch Animals is a Delicate Art Form

I have this habit that I have developed since moving to the ranch of naming any animal that stands out from the herd/flock for any reason whatsoever.  Sometimes this is to my great disappointment, because as you may know, if you have read my blog long enough, things die. A lot.  Not that it's an official rule or anything, but I have amended my habit to name animals that are past their newborn phase and more into their "hey, they might actually make it" phase of life...  But even that is not guaranteed to guard my delicate heart.

Of note, recently we were at our ranch in Merritt, when I noticed a couple of stud horses that I had no idea we even had! (I don't spend much time at the Merritt ranch) And, true to form, I immediately named them.  And, also true to form, Partner #1 immediately objected.

Seeing this handsome devil, my knee jerk naming reaction was of course, Fabio.  Yes, it is a cliche, but his luscious locks are so irresistible, any other name would be a disservice.  Of course, Partner #1 immediately quashed that, saying his name was Michael.  After much banter back and forth, we (I) settled on Michael-Fabio... 

This (actually quite creepy) gentleman is named Beetlejuice for the dark ring around his blue eyes.  Very Michael Keaton. 

Among other names, we have Actual Clifford and Fake Clifford named after the town Actual Clifford came from.  Fake Clifford gets his name because Partner #2 and I thought he was Actual Clifford, and by the time we were corrected, the name had stuck.  Except now Actual Clifford is no more, rest in peace, so I suppose Fake Clifford is the only Clifford.  There can be only one...

Creepy Frank is our ubber-creepy llama.  His name is absolutely appropriate and I make no apologies. 

Stanley Ramsbottom.  Our super impressive, curly horned ram.  Credit here goes 100% to Partner #2. 

Little Orphan Lamby.  In all honesty, I am surprised this little guy is still alive.  Since he was bottle fed pretty much from day one, he often makes his way back to our front yard no matter what field the flock is in, no matter how far away, and no matter how many dogs are kicking around.  So perhaps my enthusiasm for his staying power will prove unfounded....

Gringo and Esé.  A couple of stud horses who I really can't even describe without being horribly racist...

Dolly Parton.  The credit for this one goes to Partner #1.  Trust him to name the milk cow after the biggest breasted country singer of all time....

Macro and Micro (a.k.a. Mac and Mike). Brother jersey calves we adopted to pick up some of Dolly Parton's, a-hum, excess.  When we got them, they were indistinguishable but Mike got sick and is, consequently, a lot smaller than Mac now.  Hence Macro and Micro. 

"My" horse Asher's naming is almost not even worth mentioning except for the fact that Partner #1 agreed to it readily because it can easily be changed to a certain swear word when angry... 

Now typically, naming the dogs is entirely up to Partner #1, mostly, because they are entirely his responsibility and he is the one who needs to have an easily "yellable" name to call them.  However, recently we acquired a pair of pups (internal groan) who are damn near identical and I am gunning for Foghorn and Leghorn after classic cartoon character rooster Foghorn Leghorn 

Foghorn Leghorn

It's perfect and I love it. 

At this point in time, I can't think of any others.  Come next summer I am sure I will have more.  

I think it is safe to say that life got more awesome since I came to the ranch...

Our latest family photo

Sunday, 27 September 2015

"But just at that moment, as though at a signal, all the sheep burst out into a tremendous bleating..."

Partner #1 is gone again to our ranch in Merritt for work.  With fall here, the busy season in ranch terms, he is going to be gone more and more often.

This time has gone pretty tame compared to past trips he has made.  No one has turned up dead yet, which can be counted on almost every time he leaves.  That is to say, we haven't found any bodies yet.... Knock on proverbial wood.

Our sheep flock seems to think they have run out of grass in the field they are in, however.  Sheep are finicky.  They will eat their favorite patches down to dirt and then believe they are starving when really they just wont eat the less desirable grass two feet away.  In any case, a brave few have decided that they are immune to electric fence and it has become almost a daily morning routine to head out and chase them back in again  My first inclination is to leave the bastards out there but we have to bring them back every time in case they start giving the less brave any ideas. Ugh, sheep suck.

In an effort to keep them satisfied, we have started giving them a daily ration on oh-so-delicious kelp meal.  This way, the ones who have jumped the fence wont get their share, thus encouraging the others to stay put.  Or something like that... I don't think sheep think that logically, but that is what I am going with!

Problem is, the sheep have now learned what it means when I walk through the field carrying the blue bucket.  Usually they part like the red sea and I'm Moses, but now it's almost a safety hazard to walk through there! Sheep don't normally seem very threatening, but when there is a hundred sheep that weigh almost as much as you mobbing you for the goods you carry, it's down right scary! And their grain trough is at the opposite end of the field, go figure.  It's going to turn into Black Sheep around here soon... (If you get that reference, we should be best friends)

You solve one problem, only to create another.

Our guardian llama, Creepy Frank, decided he was amoungst the brave and managed to get himself on the other side of the fence, only to realize that he was now stuck.  And eventually thirsty. Usually he is a pretty crafty llama, however, and is usually bolstered by the fact that he has thick wool to protect himself from the electric fence, this time though the fence bested him and he was stuck on the wrong side for a couple days.  The thing about Creepy Frank is that he is capital-C creepy.  So while we wanted him to make his way over to the other side of the fence and consequently the water trough, neither Partner #2 nor I were particularly keen on getting close enough to help the creepy bugger. Pity finally won out for me and with the assistance of our trusty dog Abby, I managed to lift the fence up high enough for Creepy Frank to duck it.  Funny thing was though, he took 10 steps, turned around, and looked almost longingly back to where he had just come from!  He didn't immediately go to the water trough either! Ungrateful llama.

We have one solitary stud horse in our barn yard subsisting on hay at the moment.  Thing is though, he has been in that barn yard, bored and alone for too long, with only that bale of hay to keep him occupied, so that is all he has done.  Eat, all day.  So now his hay supply is getting a little low... Not "Oh my god, call the SPCA!" low, more like "Alright, you're going on a diet" kind of low.  Neither Partner #2 nor I know how to run the tractor with any confidence in order to get him a new bale, so we've decided to put him on rations to conserve whats remaining.  So now instead of a 24 hour mealtime he is on more like a 6 hour mealtime.  Good thing he can stand to plateau with  his weight gain.  He was getting to be a little chunky... But don't tell him I said that.

One of our guinea fowl chicks have turned up ill.  Birds, by the way, are real jerks to any of their own who show weakness.  They are descended from dinosaurs after all.  So our kids have decided that they are going to nurse this poor bedraggled bird back to health.  Want to know whats loud?  A sad, sick, confused guinea fowl in a box in your dining room, that's what.

So needless to say I am MORE than ready for Partner #1 to come home.  Not that anything catastrophic has happened, but the possibility is always there, and seems to get higher whenever the boss is away.  And being on high alert all the time is a stressful state of being!

Oh Ranch Life, gotta love it!

Sunday, 6 September 2015

What Do You Get When You Cross a Clown With a Turkey?

It has been brought to my attention that I do not post as frequently as I used to.  I think this is a combination of things.  Summer has been a hectic few months, with really nothing of any import happening... Nothing that I would count as hilarious or fantastical ranch happenings anyways, therefore not really blog worthy.  Plus I think I have become complacent. Which is really just another word for lazy...

As we came upon September 1st it seems as though summer was counting down the days until it could take a long awaited vacation, and promptly (and violently,  in my opinion) left us.  Now instead of 30+ degrees of beautiful sunshine, we have frost, rainstorms, and outfits with sweaters.

With this cold snap comes the desperation to pick everything in our garden before it withers and dies. Though despite the worrying, we have yet to get outside and pick anything.... Apparently that is on the docket for today.

Our duck house is still a work in progress, although I have a bathtub/pond now and a hole dug to put it in.  I did however, manage to set up a temporary fenced in run and fashioned a way for them to get out of their gas chamber of a house whenever they please.  So they are pretty happy ducks at the moment.

Oh! On a more exciting note! Partner #1 came home with over 30 guinea fowl chicks! If you have no idea what they look like, check out the picture below.

These are not our chicks, this is just to give you an idea of what they will look like.

Basically they are a small turkey crossed with a clown with a bad skin condition...  Currently though, they are pretty damn cute.  At last count we have roughly 50 birds on the place now. I told Partner #1 that we are turning into the funny farm.  I feel like we should open the gates and charge admission...

This is a few of them. The ones that were cooperative enough to gather on one side of the coop. The ones up on the perch are the chicken chicks.  There is an obvious hierarchy going on already...

The kids have started school, which is going just swimmingly.  Although, Isabella was scheduled to see her dad this week and the boys are off hunting with their grandfather.  So it is the second week of September and we are already taking a week off... 

My lovely daughter has been taking riding lessons over the summer!  She still maintains that she wants to be a rancher when she grows up, and has even upgraded to saying she wants to take over our ranch when she grows up.  Learning to ride a horse is a good first step I suppose.  Currently, our only family-friendly horse is at our place in Merritt though,  Come fall, when we haul the herd back up here for the winter, Lewis will come with them.  

I got a job! Like a real live one with a pay cheque and everything! Which, come to think of it, may further inhibit my free time to post with any regularity.  There goes my resolution to become more reliable.  I have yet to actually start (my first day is Tuesday) so in anticipation of being completely unavailable to my family and the house work for 6 hours everyday, I have been making a mad scramble of catching up on my to-do list.  Though Mount Washmore is a never ending struggle, so I don't know why I bother? 

I suppose that about wraps up the last few weeks of our life.  I don't feel like anything particularly exciting has happened... I am starting to wonder if maybe I am becoming acclimatized?  The things that I would have previously found post-worthy are almost my normal condition now?  I feel like if anyone else's Partner would have shown up with 30 baby birds, it would have been note worthy... 

I have a good friend coming to spend some time with us this week, so maybe she will renew my enthusiasm a bit.  Give me a fresh pair of eyes to see my world with.  Aside from being really excited to see her, I am really excited to show off my life to someone!  I guess I still find my life pretty darn amazing!

Anyways, here are a couple photos I took this morning in anticipation of writing this post.  

One benefit of the cold weather, really crisp clear skies!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Little Orphan Lamby

Earlier this spring we had a ewe sheep die of natural causes, no need to be alarmed; however, she left her tiny couple week old lamby behind.

At first I was kind of excited about the prospect of having this adorable, fluffly little thing to feed and take care of every day, but the responsibility eventually starts to wear on you.  So naturally, like good parents, we pawned the responsibility off onto the kids.  It was now "their" lamby...

A month or so old here. Isn't he adorable!?

By the time we went on vacation in July, Lamby was several months old and subsisting mostly on grass, so we figured it would be safe to put him back with the rest of the herd and hope for the best.  Sink or swim. Eat or die.

Spoiler alert, the lamb makes it.

Since then, we have moved the sheep to a field much nearer to our house and the prodigal lamby has taken it upon himself to return. He just shows up in our yard one day, demanding food.  Now we are bottle feeding him again and he has made himself quite at home. At night I think he returns to his regular flock but comes in every morning for his feeding and a couple pets.  If you show him any attention though, he follows you around, everywhere, Baaaaing away.  I was leading our guard dog back to her kennel and he is trailing right behind us, baaing  "Eat me, eat me! I'm adorable and tasty!"

Not the smartest lamb in the yard...

But it is pretty darn cute a sweet having this thing hanging around.  Plus he is always thrilled to see you!  Just start calling me Mary.

Isn't this just.. awwwee