Friday, October 22, 2010

Heritage Farm Village

A big thanks to Heritage Farm, a large tourist attraction in Huntington WV, for contracting with me to design their blog! Voted one of the top Appalachia destinations by National Geographic Magazine, this 500 acre farm houses several museums, hosts classes, puts on festivals, has wonderful lodging and is a village in itself! 

I would be so pleased if my bloggie buddies would join them and give them a welcome comment.  Be sure to explore the site as you will enjoy seeing all they have to offer and maybe even you can come visit!  Take a class, host a group, cozy up in one of the five inns or attend the huge Spring festival...I guarantee you will forget the 21st century and feel as though you stepped back into time!

A big virtual hug for those of you who joined them! I still have some tweaking to do  but thanks again and next time I'll be back to blogging about our farm.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Very Disturbing and Worrisome Gift!

Today is Daddy's birthday and he would have been 80 years old had he not suddenly died from a heart attack February 13, 2008.  I didn't cry today though I miss him terribly.  Maybe a tear or two watered my eyes, but instead I thought about him alot.  I thought about the life he lived from a child's view, of course!  I thought about how much of him is in me when it comes to the love of the outdoors.  Those thoughts are most comforting and I feel he can see our farm 'happenings' if he chooses.  I thought about the subtle things he taught me which is why I can spot 4 leaf clovers while walking and not even be thinking about them.  I found one the other day.  I found two a couple of months ago.  One time when I was hand grazing Jessie and actually looking for them, I found six!  One of the most important things Daddy emphasized to me was to be observant.   I think I am pretty good compared to most but I know I have missed a lot and need to get better...way better especially after today!

I never see Brownie's twins till August!
The one thing he and I had in common was the love for the Whitetail though for different reasons.  I never thought much about them until we moved to the farm.  He used to hunt deer which was always deplorable to me as child, but he quit decades ago for reasons I never learned.  Of course, I love my deer, name my deer and watch them pretty close each evening.  He used to make gun noises and pretend he was shooting at my bucks while visiting our farm.  Always teasing, always trying to get a rise out of me and of course I reacted exactly the way he wanted! 
Brownie's Nub November 2008
Brownie was my first and favorite deer that I watch; she is probably 4-5 years old now and very dark brown, much more so than the others.  Brownie is calm, sensible, and not skittish like her sister Bossy.  Brownie has had three generations of fawns that I know of.  Twins her first year (my research states this is rare, usually they have a single their first year), twins her second year, and twins her third year.  However, after I have been searching through old photos, Long Horn and Wide Horn always stayed close by and Long Horn looks a lot like Nub so maybe he was her first born!

Brave One and Shy One are both females, both still hang out with her and both had female fawns their first term.  Brave One now has twins and Shy One has one fawn.

Nub and Cocoa are Brownie's second set of twins.  Nub was a buck and Cocoa is a doe who also still hangs around her mother.  Nub is no longer with us and has been killed.  Cocoa gave birth to her first male fawn who is very very shy.   I loved Nub and rescued him from drowning in an old well though he was not tame like Buttons.  Read Defying Death which is a most gripping account of the rescue! 

Buttons and Peanut are her third set of twins.  Buttons allowed me to pet him this summer, a first for me but now I stay away and he has backed off as well.  His rack is very mature like Nub's due to the corn.  I pray he will be safe from the killing season.  Peanut remains very small but is such a cute little doe.  Peanut had a fat stomach this summer which worried me.  Her stomach seemed swollen and I was wondering if she was extra wormy.  She was born last July.  Brownie's eustrus is very late and occurs in January.  It takes about 200 days before the fawns are born.    I also figured maybe Peanut was just a corn hog and prayed it wasn't an illness, and thank heavens I didn't try to deworm her!

For me, gifts can be given in a more spiritual sense.  I believe I recieve all sorts of gifts on this farm.  I am privy to spot the most unusual, the most fleeting, and the most rare.  The ability to be in the right place at the right time and to be in the present moment so that you can see or hear something that is spectacular is extremely rewarding.  One time I was fortunate to look out the window at the right time and see an all white Great Heron.  They are extremely shy birds and usually they are colored with varying shades of blues and grays.  Not this one, it was pure white and yes, it was a heron!  I never saw it again.

I had a riding lesson to give, so I had to bring the horses in around 5pm.  Usually I bring them in at dusk.  It was a spectacular day with a clear blue sky and a bit of a breeze.  I didn't see much on the way, no turtles sunbathing on the old sunken log, no blue birds flitting about, no hawks tag teaming and screeching for a meal, and thankfully no trains, planes or automobiles disturbed the peace and quiet.  Then, while almost to the gate, I saw the most unusual vision and most out of place little 'being' in the middle of the gravel road staring at me.  What the ?  I had just walked down the lane an hour or so prior and saw absolutely nothing...

Willard, can you tell the sex yet?
A three to four week old fawn with star bright spots and a very red coat was staring at me.  What is going on? This is October 7th!  Even Brownie's new twins have faded spots! Dumbfounded, I racked my brain for an answer and came up blank.  It didn't move when I spoke. Why not? That was a big clue that I missed.   I inwardly damned myself for not carrying the camera which was at the barn.  The clock was ticking and I had to get the horses.  Darn...I got Jessie and Blue and feverishly prayed that the baby would still be there because there was no way I was going to miss this opportunity.

My prayers were answered!  Brave One and her two twins and Peanut were visible and meandering about. I spotted Cocoa was hidden at the edge of the woods.  Baby fawn was grazing on down against the fence line with not a care in the world while Peanut looked a bit nervous blocking me.  Peanut, I asked, is that you?  She turned away and raised her tail and then I saw my proof....a little bulging 'milk sack'!  OMG! Peanut is the mother!  Peanut who is barely a year old and who got impregnated around 7 months!  How can this be?? I couldn't wait until I could research the 'net.  I wished I could ask Daddy, he would know; I thought of Willard, the author of a blog I follow from Pennsylvania who is a former DNR employee, and to this moment I am hoping he will read my post and educate me .  I did find only one entry online that said it was possible for fawns to be impregnated at 6 months (all the others say 18 months) providing its size was large and the food source was plentiful.  Well, I can vouch for the food source but little Peanut is tiny!  And come to think of it, Peanut has not darted away from the bucks this week.  Bossy runs from them but Cocoa and Peanut have not...hmmmm. Most would say it is too early but no way, not on this farm.  Their coats turned gray earlier this year.  Everything is going to be early I fear which is why I worry about that little fawn....

Where is this baby's winter coat?  It hasn't much time to learn anything and missed a complete semester of Summer school!  No time to put on a lot of fat.  Winter comes early now and can be harsh as last January we didn't see temps go above 32 degrees for the entire month, and this little thing is tiny!  Its neck does look thicker, so maybe it is a boy.  I pray a trespasser doesn't hurt it during the killing season.  I pray no stray dogs find it as they were scarce this summer but one was giving chase this morning driving my dogs absolutely crazy.  And by the way I haven't seen my Brownie nor her twins for about 4 days now...that worries me. She is always there at feed time, maybe she is helping Peanut babysit.  Peanut came down each evening this week, but not Brownie... and they do help eachother babysit, I see that all the time!

So, dear Daddy, Happy Birthday to you.  I can no longer give you material gifts, but maybe seeing this strange little fawn for the first time on the very day of your 80th year is a gift that we can share.  I Love you Daddy, thank you for being my father, and thank for all of your gifts you so generously passed on to me!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Blue's Boo Boo

Blue is always a handful but lately when under the saddle, he has resisted the bit especially while walking.  In doing so he brings his head up and down as though saying 'yes' but it is really a 'no'.  Sometimes there is a fly on his chest or on his forehead or just those persistant gnats but during the summer (besides the usual fly spray), I put the Cashel riding mask which helps a lot.  But it is no longer summer....

Last Sunday we traveled down to Lexington to practice cross country at a local park.  I never went cross country with him and of course he was wired.  Jessie was in the trailer munching on hay and out of sight.  Uh oh! I knew there would be nervousness from that alone, but he was with three other horses and the wide open fields has several horses and riders running around.  He finally settled down but this head bobbing during the walk was constant, as though I put a quarter in  this horse machine....up down, up down, it was getting tiresome.  His behavior required a more firm feel of the mouth than the usual arena work although he settled down somewhat.  His bit is an expensive copper three part D ring snaffle which supposedly fits horse's mouths better and enhances acceptance.  I thought the little bean would make the bit more comfortable for him.
When horses are in pain, they move away from it.  I noticed his back is getting better and the simple act of gently laying the saddle on his pads, resulted in no movement the other day.  I was surprised as we have been working hard but his back is pliable and there is no muscle firing...for now.  That might change again but I hope not.   Noticing this, brought me to take a look into his mouth.  Maybe there was something hurting him.  I dislike getting hold of the tongue so I peeked in and thought I saw a tiny slice on the right and a dot of red on the left.  These marks were not at the edges but inside, especially the dot.  I was very very upset.  This is not good, this is not what I am about.  My horses receive the best care, the best tack, the best of everything that I can afford.  My wardrobe has suffered greatly due to the money that goes to my horses, but I don't care anymore which isn't very 'girly', I know.  No more manies, no more pedi's, that extra cash goes to my ponies.  They rely on me and I must give them the best possible care.  I can't stand people who say they cannot afford to have the vet in, then go off on a vacation, or overspend on some useless material object while their animal suffers.  It makes no sense to me, and these people are not true horse people in my opinion. 

We went to the vet the next day at 5 pm.  Blue needed some vaccines so I saved $60 by hauling in.  This is what the vet saw...this is part of the reason for the head bobbing though my vet and my instructor agree that the resistance will not stop...that is just Blue until I correct it and they know I spoil him.  I didn't notice the dot on top of the mouth until I zoomed in on these photos and I know my vet didn't notice either!  (And his tooth looks chipped in the front but it isn't!  ) 

Poor Blue, has such a bad boy reputation and didn't help the situation much by biting the vet!  Yes, he bit the vet!  It wasn't bad, but I know it hurt and he drew blood.  I was told there is an extra fee for that, but I sassed back and told my good vet that he should have known better and gotten that big fat tongue to the side.  The vet has never been bitten before after all these years and this is the first time!  Thanks Blue, please remember the vet is our friend, not our enemy!

So, there is no ointment or meds to administer as my vet says these cuts are very minor and nothing to worry about.  He said that I should see some of the mouth sores that are out thank you, Doc.  I think this is awful enough.  I did get some vaseline to cover the dot and I was told to give it five days with no riding.  I guess I will be doing a lot of handwalking! 

Blue, you are a baby! Those marks probably came from all of your head tossing in Lexington.  Why can't you be good like me and be brave? 

So that is the lastest on Blue.  They were happy to get back into their paddock although they like short trips. I will try Jessie's medium stainless steel eggbutt snaffle. I checked all the bits for rough edges.  I had originally gotten him a larger bit, but my instructor said it was too big.  I thought I measured correctly but I readily listen to those who have more experience.  Maybe I shouldn't have....time will tell.  Ok big Blue, get ready for some groundwork and there better not be any resistance!