Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Vultures Are Raptors

 Did you know?  Vultures are now classified as raptors. Discovery made after interrupting a predator's attempt to abscond with this little guy.

Vultures use a hollowed stump as a nesting site; Cristian has been monitoring it for years.  He reported two nestlings.  I went by to check on them... empty, and signs of a break -in.  I believe I can whip up some concrete and reseal the gap. Project #5933.

50 yards away was the plumpest little fellow upside down in the leaves.  I'd never held a vulture, even the tips of their fluffy feathers smell of putrefaction.  I cradled him all the way back to the barn; it took washing my hands three times to get the stench off.

What to do since the nest was compromised and mom had already left them for dead?  Auburn University Raptor Rehab took him in... since he is a raptor.  

Through their website, I've been keeping tabs on his progress.  Bless his little heart.

Spring brings all creatures out of the woodwork. The hummingbirds that wander into the barn can never figure out how to simply fly back out the open doors.  Their instincts tell them to go high, spend all day in the rafters and drop to the barn floor by evening, exhausted and dehydrated.

Enter Hummer Rescue Squad.

Rescue syrup administered, cobwebs removed and released. 

A vigilant employee noticed an unusual snake hiding under a horse water trough. In 30 years of living in Alabama, I'd never encountered a scarlet kingsnake.  This was a momentous occasion for me.

Momentous in his young life too, as he was quickly relocated to a more suitable habitat where he wouldn't risk getting crushed by an 800 lb water trough or a 1200 lb horse.  

A snake of another kind ruined my day and my budget.  Do note all this happened within a span of 2 days.

Just before dusk, I took all the dogs for a run in my ox pasture, you know, to knock the edge off them so I can study the rest of the night. Suki returned with a quickly swelling face and eyes rolling back into her head.

Off to Auburn University we go.  My trusty 20 year old 1 ton truck turned into Pegasus and flew us there in record time.

They allowed me to commandeer an exam room to study.  By around 3 AM, they were satisfied that she was stable enough to return home.  Venomous snakes, I am not so fond of.  One hour of sleep before going to work, not fond of that either.

All worth it to protect the pack.

Friday, May 27, 2022


 Late Summer of 2020, an 18 year old joined Farm Team.

Luke went from green bean to barn manager.

Also becoming along the way MVP, devoted friend, appreciated coworker and Oreo's BFF.  

Luke recently accepted a position with another company.  I hope they realize what a jewel they now have on staff.

Happy trails, Luke!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Fergus 'Bubblebutt' Smith

 Nov 13, 2021

Stray dog has her pups in our office.  I pull one from the litter at 6 weeks because his littermates are behaving like heathens, trying to rip his tail and ears off.  

I tell myself that I'll send him to an adopter in New Jersey along with his siblings when the time comes.  

Time came and went, he stayed.

DNA test says he's approx 75% guard dog breeds.  Just lovely.  I'm a goofy hunting dog kinda gal.  Guard dogs that I've owned become outrageously protective of me.  

He looks so sweet, if anything, Emmett is the holy terror of the household.

Fergus is too busy growing like a weed to be bothered with being aggressive.  

And grow he has.  He's 71 lbs at 6 months of age.  His mama weighed 34 lbs, the baby daddy looks to be only about 50.  I guess he's tapping into his genetic potential!  

 Grow, baby, grow! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2022


 It's been almost 3 years since invasive feral pigs began traipsing through the property.  If left unchecked they will devastate the land, kill off all smaller ground dwelling native species and pose a danger to man, dog and horse. Hunting them is both dangerous and difficult as they are extremely intelligent and aggressive.  We started using a fancy trap.

They're so wary, it can take months of feeding before they go in. 

The trap door is phone signal activated.  The first one I trapped didn't appreciate me zipping up to the trap on a utility vehicle.  In my ignorance, I pulled right up to the gate and stepped out between the gate and vehicle.  Mistake.  He charged the gate, bent it all to crap, almost coming through on top of me.   I unloaded my shotgun into it.

Mistake #2.  Next time bring better fire power.  This joker kept ramming the gate and metal panels.  

Mistake #3:  Wear Depends before solo hog hunting adventures.

Not the biggest boy ever seen on our cameras, but a healthy 230 lbs.  

This isn't sport, this is leveling the playing field for native species.  Over the past 3 years, I've noticed a decline in fawns on the game cameras because hogs with their excellent noses can find fawns hiding in the grass.  Same goes for turkeys.  I used to have to stop to let big flocks of turkeys cross the trails, now I'm lucky if I see a lone turkey hen running through the woods.  The hogs find most of the turtle egg burrows and eat them all.  Slowly, they've been undoing my almost 8 years of conservation efforts.

This is WAR.  

There's one huge lone boar that lives too close to the barn, he's been on my radar for a year.  He flatly refuses to go in the trap (as if it would hold his approximate 400 lbs anyway), so we've been bating him for 6 months.  A friend lent me a deer stand so I can pick him off from a safer height, but he's slow to getting accustomed to the newness of a stand around his feed.  

Across the property, the hogs finally all entered the trap on Tuesday night.  I tripped the gate and took off in the farm truck with a variety of weapons this time.  

They were not happy to see me drive up.  

I got out, 45 on my hip, grabbed my 30-30 and walked around the truck.  I'd watched on the videos how to do this calmly.  The hogs didn't get the memo.  Before I could even cock a gun, they were throwing themselves at the panels.  The biggest one broke out one of the corners and made a bee line for me.  I threw my rifle on the hood of the truck and jumped on. Whilst trying to collect my thoughts and secretly soiling my pants, I saw another one find the gap in the panel and come straight for the truck.  The truck door was open, I was on the hood, I didn't want to panic and shoot my own truck, so I took a deep breath, held it, then channeled my inner Rambo.

In all, 7 of the trapped hogs escaped.  One literally jumped a 5 foot panel.  I shot 3 running around the truck, they ran off into the woods with 4 more piglets.  Then I finished off those in the trap. 

I stood on that hood for a while, more than just a little scared to get down.  In my typical graceful manner, I basically fell when I stepped on a spent shell and rolled off the hood onto the jagged corner of the fence.  They don't call me Gracie for nothing.  

Once upon a time, I did enjoy hunting because I was providing for myself and my dogs.  Fast forward past years of surgeries and ungodly pain, I can't in good conscience inflict that level of horror onto another creature...unless it's a hog.  Tuesday, I took 8 lives to save hundreds more.  Still doesn't sit well on my soul.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

End of an Era

 It's with a very heavy heart that I put my beloved horse trailer for sale this week. 

I'll never have a team of oxen again so the need for a 38' long, solid steel behemoth is no longer.

I'm not sentimental about stuff at all; having lost everything once before, there's a certain freedom to not having a pot to piss in. Without possessions to hide behind, life makes you decide real quick about your priorities: what you'll die to protect.  My animals have always been right up there at the top of the list.

That's why it's so hard to say goodbye to this big girl.  She not only hauled all my animals back and forth for almost 20 years, she was the flagship trailer I used when I ran Hudson Horse Transport.  My old dually has pulled that contraption from Texas to Virginia, and every place in between.  Some were paid trips, most were rescued horses pulled from the kill pens, and heading to greener pastures. 

I restored every single square inch of her and then repainted and babied her every few years with a new paint job.  To thank me for bringing her back to life, she saved lives, over and over again.

Saved my hide for 9 months while I was building my house and had nowhere to live.

Roof leaked, broken windows, but it was shelter.

When I finished with my house, it was her turn to get new everything.

Odd, strong, unique, she and my old truck have been true constants in my life. My 22 year old truck with over 200,000 miles (170,000 I put on myself) has never ever let me down. Sure, she's had issues, but she always got me to the mechanic's house before crapping out completely. This truck has heart. 

 I have an ancient Appaloosa, and three big tall horses, one of them tipping the scales at 2000 pounds.  That's a lot of tonnage to haul.  Finding the right trailer, that's heavy duty enough, tall enough for Angus and wide enough for him too,  is damn near impossible... unless you have connections.

The perfect trailer is waiting for me on hold, 4 Horse draft trailer with dressing room, 50 years younger than mine.  Boss (that's my F350's name) is going to be so surprised when we're booking it down the highway with 4 horses and it doesn't feel like she's having to use every last gasp of horsepower to pull a 60 year old lead sled.

Secretly, she's gonna miss her too.  The day my trailer rolls out of my life, a little part of me is going with her.