Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snow Day, Part Deux

Day Two off from work due to ice and snow shutting down the state of Alabama. It may turn into Day Three tomorrow as I have been informed that the university will remain closed through Thursday. 
Pinch me, am I in Heaven?  At home with all my animals, a freezer full of good food and snow on the ground.  All I can ask for is more days of this!  That would be called Maine, dear Jamie.  Exactly.  Anyone know of an open position for a hunting preserve manager in Northern Maine?  I'm qualified, ship us up there, I don't get cabin fever, I love my solitude and I never run out if books or projects.  Have chainsaw, will travel...

Axel, my 18 year old Appaloosa didn't want to relinquish his blankie at noon, we had to play tag.  I finally snuck up on him and collared him with my scarf. He's old, but nimble!

The one night I forget to cover my emerging daffodils.  Unfortunate, but perhaps not the end of the world!

The chickens were warm in their heated sarcophagus.

Angus is loving his new blanket.

The donkeys have a such a wiry coat that snow from yesterday is still frozen to their backs.

Tommy and Mack, regrettably, outgrew their blankets three years ago.  I suppose I could buy car covers and make alterations!

14% sweet feed and hot alfalfa mash every day keeps them happy.

With no rush to run off to work, I can indulge in watching them eat.  They now dine off to the side of the house instead of in my view from the dining room window.  Watching them eat all my hard earned money is strangely pleasurable to me.

Angus' hoof print entombed in ice.

What my Uncle Bob used as a substitute for a puck to play hockey back in the day in Arnprior, Ontario.

Cole wearing his new skijoring harness over his long johns!

The new lines and harnesses from Howling Dog Alaska work splendidly well.  I was skeptical of my harness which unpleasantly fits like a sumo wrestler's loincloth.  As soon as we got into the swing of things I understood how it kept my center of gravity lower and didn't interfere with my balance.  Cole and I only skied 1.5 miles.  He's still recuperating and I broke a ski pole beating off the oxen who decided to chase me. 
I skied the same 1.5 miles by myself to locate parts of my broken pole, but most of the snow was already disappearing.  So long beautiful snow, thanks Mother Nature, you made my year!!!

As for the search for my brother, all we can do now is wait.  We have not had any contact with him (as some have mistakenly surmised by my last post).  All we know is that he or someone using his profile signed into a social media on Tuesday.  We hope and we wait.

My car remains encased in ice, therefore, I remain most happily on the farm!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Snow Day in Alabama

Over the past days, I have been awed by the compassion and dedication shown by everyone involved in the search for Jordan.  From my sister's friends who braved the frigid Toronto weather to scour the streets looking for Jordan, to my friends who have been putting out feelers and making some great suggestions, to the perfect strangers in Canada whom I spoke to today...thank you all.

Today's snow day was perfectly timed.  I was able to devote myself to online work and making telephone calls.  Here's a sad/funny aside:  I spent over 5 minutes on hold to a crisis center hotline in Toronto.  C'mon, really? 
I don't think we left a stone unturned from Toronto to Montreal.  Then, my sister made a breakthrough.  Jordan is alive and in Toronto.  He'd used a social media site.  This is a huge relief.  We still need to find him, pronto, but I'm willing to celebrate even small victories.

The three siblings in 2001--- we will be a trio again.
As if Mother Nature agreed that a happy dance was in order, in late afternoon, the sleet finally turned to snow. 
The flakes were beginning to fly, so we all bundled up and headed out for Cole's half mile walk.
With the exception of Jinx, of course.  He remained in his PJ's, in bed all day.
By dusk, we measurable accumulation.  Hooray, time for another walk, just me and Cole!
My kid in his snow suit, booties and hat.  My head lantern was like a kaleidoscope making the snowflakes twinkle. One more mile around the pasture.
Time to break out the skis!
Decisions, decisions...I went with the Blue Extra wax.
Barely enough snow, but I covered over 6 miles on my usual running loop.  I do love to run, but I think I came out of the womb with skis on.

I finished skiing around 8 PM and was greeted by Teddy, who obviously doesn't understand my exuberance over snow.
Jinx doesn't get it either..."just open the door!".
Vestiges of an evening well spent.
It quit snowing while I was skiing, if it's all gone by morning, I will still be grateful that I got a chance to wear my favorite boots (ski boots) at least once this year.
Seeing as Lee County Emergency Management has closed the roads around the farm, it looks like I may get another chance to ski a wee bit more tomorrow.
Stay warm, stay safe, hug the person next to you, Jamie

Jordan Smith

My younger brother has been missing since last Thursday.  A police report in Toronto, Canada, has been filed.  His mother lives in the UK, Dad is in Florida, my sister is in France and I'm in Alabama. 
My sister has been coordinating the search from Paris and we've all been trying to pitch in and plead with the police to find him.
Friends in Toronto have plastered entire neighborhoods with posters.  He was last seen in Toronto, but he also has contacts in Ottawa and Montreal.  In spite of the unlikelihood that many of you reading my blog would know him, they say the more info we get out, the better, so if you have any contacts with hospitals (Phil, this might be you), or churches or shelters (Anne?) in any town in Ontario or Quebec, please pass this info along.
Jordan is in serious trouble and needs help. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Dining In

This is my botched attempt to capture Cole's happy dance.

OK, Imagine Baryshnikov's dance in Swan Lake. Got it?

This is why Cole was so excited:

I brought home take-out.  We never have take-out.  I rarely go to restaurants, but I had won this $40 gift card to Outback Steakhouse over a year ago for winning 3rd place in a half marathon.  I was afraid it would expire soon and I'd had a particularly difficult day, so I treated us.

Our guest, Teddy, loved it, I thought it was over salted.  Then I thought of the steer in a crowded feedlot that made this steak and I almost cut it all up for the dogs.  But, by golly, it smelled so good.  Guardian of farm animals, please forgive me for consuming one that hasn't been organically and humanely raised...I promise to say a dozen hail heifers!

Have you ever seen such big eyes?  He knows the other steak is in that Styrofoam box.

By tomorrow all of ours eyes should be like pee holes in a snow bank from all the excessive salt on that food.  That shall be my penitence. 

Speaking of snow, we are predicted to get an accumulation of it here tomorrow.  For real!  The university has closed down.  I will need to stay at home to monitor the situation, on cross country skis, I hope. 

Bring it on! Pleaseeeee.

Addendum to previous post:

Cole isn't the only one to inherit accidentally shrunken expensive wool sweaters. Check out his Canadian cousin, Sushi.

J Crew never looked so good!

Bad Behavior

With increasing day length comes a return to egg production.  The hens' daily buffet includes greens from the garden, alfalfa sprouts, mealy worms, scratch grains, laying crumbles, grit and oyster shells.  Imagine my dismay to discover villains among them.

The ring leader.  Dharma and her sister, Kharma break open the eggs and eat them.  Unfortunately, they've taught this criminal behavior to one of my favorite hens:  Aven.

The investigation is still ongoing.  Next weekend, I'll round up the guilty and ...

I now gather eggs twice a day and I increased the calcium in their diets, but nothing seems to break the habit.  I even made some eggs bombs.  One batch of hollowed eggs was injected with hot sauce, another with mustard -- they ate them all up.  My last batch took me an hour to make, took them two minutes to decimate.  I filled six hollow eggs with bitter gelatin, there's no accounting for chickens' tastes because they loved them too.

Seriously frustrating.

On a positive note, Cole is building some muscle in his legs.

Daily half mile walks up the driveway, this week with the company of a Great Pyrenees mix called Teddy.  Teddy wouldn't need a jacket unless we were walking in Siberia.

With the wind chill dropping temperatures one morning to 3'F, Cole was bundled up: his thick Weatherbeeta mini horse blanket, Dad's merino wool sweater that took an unfortunate trip through the washer and dryer, and a scarf for his ears.
In my 23 years in Alabama, this Winter has been the coldest.
I prefer to let the horses develop a thick Winter coat, but when the temperatures drop below 18'F, I blanket them overnight.  The first time I blanketed Angus, I discovered that he had outgrown his current 84" blanket.  It looked like a shawl on a pumpkin.
Post Christmas sale = new 90" blanket.
Cole helped open the box.
He loves boxes.
Any package, five minutes and he has it demolished.

The most gorgeous 2000 lb Percheron sporting his new blankie.

The energy requirements for a horse begin to increase when the temperature drops below a horse's Lower Critical Temperature.  This LCT varies from animal to animal, but 32'F is an average point.  For every 10'F drop below 32'F, a 1000 lb horse will need 2.75 lbs extra hay per day.  Take my 10,500 lbs of livestock, add Dr. P's horses, donkeys and goats and we powered through more hay than predicted this Winter.
On Saturday, I bought three more round bales.

Getting way too much help unloading.

Objects in mirror are larger than they appear...couldn't even see to back into position!

Mack at the buffet line.

A 3000 lb ox dwarfs a dually.

Only safe place for Morel.  Rolling bales off is not a safe environment for a wee little goat.

On Sunday, we had a heat wave, 50'F outside and wow, over 60'F inside.  Without company, the Grinch here keeps her power bill low!

All the more reason to wear woolen sweaters and snuggle up to a Teddy.