Tuesday, October 28, 2014

All Hitched Up and No Place To Go

Some friends enjoyed another trail ride.

        I was supposed to go trail riding in the Bankhead National Forest one recent Saturday. I hooked up my trailer the day before, and had planned to load my tack while my horses were eating breakfast. 
However, it was pouring down rain when I got up at 5 o’clock that morning. Some weather reports indicated a 40% chance of rain throughout the day, and the one for Bankhead said 80%. I just don’t like riding in the rain. Even worse, I don’t like loading up in the rain.
So I took my cup of coffee to the front porch to watch the sunrise and contemplate my choices for the day. The festival at Homestead Hollow? Nope, not in the rain. Besides, I wanted to take my grandson there Sunday afternoon. Clean the house, or at least a portion of it? Nah, maybe I could hire someone for that.
Guess I could have worked on that quilt I started a year and a half ago. It’s the one I’m making from a blanket I bought in Guatemala. It’s not one of those beautiful handmade blankets often seen in the Indian markets. This one is polyester, with an ugly gold fringe. I bought it because it has a purple horse on it, and I had painted my room lavender. However, the blanket was much too thin to act as a quilt, so I decided to turn it into a coverlet. I removed the fringe and spent $200 on fabric for the border, backing and coordinating bedskirt and pillowcases. 
I got so far as to applying the iron-on backing to stabilize the wiggly, misshapen  blanket, then put it away. For a year.  About two weeks ago I took all the materials over to a quilt-making friend’s house, and she helped me trim and square the blanket and cut the strips for the border and backing. 
My goal is to get it ready for Pat at the Ashville House of Quilts to quilt it for me on her long-arm machine while I’m in Greece. A rainy day seems like the perfect time to sew. But guess what? The sun came out about 9:30 or 10! 
Somewhere in Bankhead Forest the Outback Riders were looking at fall foliage from the backs of their horses that Saturday. I looked at it through the sunny window above my sewing machine.
I hope those riders got soaked.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Llama Drama

A Baptist church in Pelham, AL, had its annual Blessing of the Animals earlier this month. I believe mine are already blessed, or they wouldn’t have survived  their recent escapade.
Monday was a day of drama for the llamas, Rio and Beeper. As my weekend house guests were preparing to leave, I got a call from a neighbor who lives about a mile up the road. “Elaine, your llamas are out,” she told me. “Are they outside the gate?” I asked, because some folks see them grazing by my pond and think they have escaped their pen. “Yes, my daughter saw them down by the church.”
Beeper and Rio
That’s about two blocks from my gate. Fearing the worst, one guest and I jumped in my UTV, then I drove like a wild woman to my barn and grabbed llama collars, leashes and a couple of strong lead ropes. We high-tailed it down the hill as fast as we dared in a vehicle with brakes that are almost metal-to-metal. My other guest jumped into her car and followed us. We prayed all the way to the church that the llamas were safe. We also wondered which one of the workmen putting up fencing in my pasture had let them out. I had warned them that when entering or leaving my property, they should stop until the gate closed behind them, to make sure the llamas didn’t dash out.  Obviously, someone didn’t heed my admonition.
As we passed the little church graveyard, we spied the llamas, prissing down the road as if they owned it. My friend Calvin, who lives near the church, had spotted them, too, and stopped his truck to help us herd them home. We had a feed bucket with us, so Beeper came right up and started eating. I quickly threw a lead rope around her long neck, then slipped on her halter. But her mama, Rio, wouldn’t get close enough to eat, much less be caught. We had her surrounded, but animals can slip through such a paltry posse as we presented.
Figuring she would follow where Beeper went, I ve-rrr-y slooow-ly drove toward home, while my friend held onto Beeper’s lead rope. Beeper wasn’t  happy about this arrangement. She stubbornly pulled back on her lead rope, and it seemed to take us 10 minuets to get 10 feet. Even the feed bucket wasn’t enough to entice her, so I jumped out and let my friend drive while I walked with Beeper. Her mamma followed us, stopping frequently to graze or stare at passing traffic.
My friend's roommate followed behind in her car, while the motorist who had been patiently waiting for us to get the llamas out of the road slowly followed her. Calvin drove across the street and parked just outside my fence, then punched in my gate code. As the gates slowly opened, Rio loped across the main road and through the opening gates. Whew! One down, one to go. 
I thanked the Lord profusely as Beeper and I passed through the gates, too. Then we ponied Beeper from my UTV up my hill and back to the barn, a distance of about 1,800 feet. I put the llamas in my arena so they couldn’t escape again, gave them  hay and water, then chastised the contractor for letting them out. I knew it was he, because his was the last vehicle to come in before the llamas got out. Turns out he hadn’t seen them and didn’t realize they were nearby.
This story could have had a very different ending. If the llamas had been hit by a car, they could have been maimed or killed. They would have suffered either way, and I would have mourned their loss and been angry with the contractor who left the gate open.  As it turned out, the llamas had been blessed, even without the church service.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Fresh Eggs

  You know your eggs are fresh when you watch the seller take them out from under her hens!
I've been buying my eggs from Sue and Al Maddox at the Old Farts Farm in Springville for a couple of years. I'm not making up that name, either. It's on her signs. She raises and sells rabbits, pygmy and dwarf goats, exotic ducks, peacocks and several breeds of chickens, including Silkies and Rhode Island reds. She sells the animals, as well as baby chicks and fresh eggs. Her small farm is crowded with cages, pens and pools, old tires studded with tomato plants and various other vegetables and flowers. She gets so many folks wanting to just browse the place that she had to start charging for tours.
She has several kinds of chickens, so she has eggs all year round. She was charging $2 per dozen, which is cheaper than the grocery stores. I stuck with her when she went up to $2.50, because I know they're fresh. When she went up to $3, I started looking around for a new source. I found one just down the road from my place, which is a wee bit closer than the Old Farts Farm.  But that lady charges $3 too. Well, at least she's closer, I reasoned. Meanwhile, Sue has gone back down to $2 per dozen, so I'm back with the Old Farts, where many folks think I belong.
Her eggs aren’t graded by size. You get several sizes in a dozen. You also get several colors, from the traditional white to solid brown to speckled. I guess that’s because she has so many different types of chickens.
Last week when I went by to get a dozen, Sue was out. She had sold the last two dozen earlier in the day, and her hens were molting so they weren't producing as many as they usually do. "Let's check the nests and see if they've laid any since this morning," she offered. So I dutifully followed her around her hen house, plastic egg crate in hand because I recycle them, while she unceremoniously lifted first one hen and then another from its nest. "Nope, none here," she'd say. The hens clucked at the indignation, but she merely chortled and clucked, too. "Come on, girls, we need some eggs," she added.
One of her pea hens had strayed into the chicken house, and was running around trying to find its way out. She finally darted between us when we weren't looking. "Silly hen," Sue said. "She keeps getting lost in here."
Sue managed to scrounge up seven eggs, so I offered to buy half a dozen for $1. I used those up over the weekend making brownies and banana bread. When I went back Sunday for more, she was still out. When I went to my second source, she was out, too. I was forced to buy a dozen from the (gasp!) grocery store.
I wish Sue’s hens would stop molting and start producing. I like my eggs fresh out of the nest.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Cat Peed On The Mattress

        Oh, how quickly a furry love affair can turn sour...as quickly as it takes a cat to pee on your bed.
In an earlier post, I wrote about bringing Barney-the-barn-cat indoors. He was my first barn cat, he’s probably eight or nine years old, and I didn’t want him to disappear the way most of the others have done. So I tried to make him a house cat.
Of course, I chose a most inappropriate time to do this. It was early August, one week before my trip to Peru. So for the 12 days I was gone, I boarded him with the vet. I also got him caught up on his shots while there. That cost me $140.
Since then, I’ve left him locked in my bedroom suite up to nine days at a time while out of town. He did fine, although you can imagine the smell coming from the litter box when I returned. My intention all along was to train him to go in and out of the house via an old cat door, so he could do his business outside. To that end, I shoved him through the cat door one day, and he ran off.
I was very upset, and prayed unceasingly for his safe return. He had often disappeared from the barn/pasture area for four or five days, so I kept telling myself he’d come back. Sure enough, five days later, he showed up for breakfast. I grabbed him, hugged him and penned him up in my bedroom suite again.
An affectionate cat who seemed content indoors, he never could adjust to being so near the dogs. When I would bring him into the Great Room to watch television with me, he’d spy the dogs and run back to my bedroom. One day after such an episode, he peed on my bed. Fortunately, I had just installed a soft, thick mattress cover so that my grandson’s occasional diaper leaks wouldn’t soak through to the mattress. But I spent two days washing the new cover, the sheets and the blanket I use as a coverlet. I forgave Barney, though, chalking the experience up to his being scared.
No sooner had I put everything back in its proper place than he did it again. This time, the blanket wasn’t on top to provide an extra layer, and the mattress got wet. Phew! I did my best to soak up the spot with a dry cloth, then scrubbed it with Fabuloso, let it dry, then sprayed it and the room with an odor eliminator. Once more, I forgave him, because the dogs had scared him again.
The third time he peed the bed, however, the dogs weren’t involved. The mattress was. Fuming over having to wash the linens again, I bought a waterproof, zippered mattress cover. I put it on top of my covers, beneath an old blanket that I use when I let the dogs sleep with me. The next two or three times he peed (I lost count), the plastic caught the brunt. It was becoming odoriferously obvious that this was developing into a habit. Oh, and he pooped on the bed once, covering it with the doggy blanket.  But I’m here to tell you, it was much less smelly and much easier to clean up than the wee-wee.
I contemplated taking him to the vet to determine whether he had a bladder problem. I contemplated calming pills. Do they make Valium for cats? Either way, I saw dollar signs. And day after day of bed-linen washing. I decided I had already spent enough time and money on this ungrateful creature. So I tossed his butt out.
Yep, I picked him up, opened the back door, and put him down. He hit the ground running. He’ll probably show up at the barn in four or five days. But I won’t be bringing him inside again. Nope, I’ve emptied his food dish, cleaned out his litter box and put it away in the shed. Already, my bedroom smells better. 
Some animals just weren’t meant to stay indoors.