Thursday, October 1, 2015

A kiss of rain.

 It rained today. We have wished for, prayed and danced for this miracle. It came from the west and after announcing its presence with one huge clap of thunder, the rain hit hard. It was powerful and steady... settling the dust and dryness of summer and blending the ash and sadness of the Butte fire into the earth... to begin the healing. 

This is my tribute to a beautiful day of rain. The poem below belongs to Langston Hughes, but the images are mine. I presumed to use his words because I felt the rain kiss the earth today and I know he would understand.

"Let the rain kiss you.

Let the rain beat upon your head...

with silver liquid drops.

Let the rain...

sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk

The rain makes running pools in the gutter

The rain plays a little sleep song

 on our roof at night

And I love the rain."

A poem by ~Langston Hughes~

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A Chicken Story

Boney, our new little bantam rooster is trying really hard to take control of the hen house. He's tough, but he's little. So when he does take a stand... it's kind of funny.

I shouldn't laugh, but when he stands in the doorway and waits for each of the hens to come in for the night...
and gets all huffy puffy with them, paces back and forth, runs out to them and dances around them... 
I'm sorry... but I have to laugh. If he was a huge full sized rooster, he might pull this off, but he's not. He's a dink... a very small guy... and he's really trying hard to overcome this disability.
The other night, I got between him and one of his hens. I was walking away from him and he jumped up... and nipped me in the back of my leg. This "attack" didn't do any damage, but I was really surprised. Then he stood there and fluffed his neck feathers at me. I told him that he could just as easily be our dinner one night next week. It was an idle threat... he knew it. He wasn't fazed at all. He side stepped toward me and dragged his wing on the rocks. I was obviously not someone he was going to tolerate in HIS chicken area.

Some of the hens take him seriously. Pepper, our Speckled Sussex, is not one of them. She free ranges until they all go to bed and then wonders where everyone went.
She got Clarrisa to stay out with her last night. I counted heads, noticed they were missing and went looking for them. They were behind the chicken house... looking for any small tidbit they could find in the very dry hillside.
Our new Silver laced Wayandotte, Clarrisa, (Isn't she gorgeous?) was pushing the limits of her bravery by staying with Pepper when she knew that she needed to go to bed. She kept looking at the hen house. She could hear the other hens getting onto their perches. Even Boney had returned to the rest of his hens inside, giving up on the three of us.
Finally, as if some unheard bell tolled for these two, they walked down the path and into the chicken house.

I closed the door to the chicken yard behind them and watched Clarrisa go up the ladder into the hen house.
But, Pepper, having second thoughts, turned around and came back to the gate.
"What's the matter sweetie? Everyone is in the hen house. It's getting dark. You need to go to bed."
She looked at me...  and then walked up to the hen door.
She looked at the ramp...

Then she turned around and look out at the place she loves... the place called "freedom". She stood there for quite a while, then she turned and slowly hopped on to the ramp and into the hen house.
Pepper is my favorite hen. She is curious, smart and truly an adventurer. She would free range all the time... but I choose to keep her safe with the others, at night. Too many predators out there would call her "dinner" and I can't let that happen.
Sleep well, my pretty's. See you in the morning.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Birthday wish to my friend "D"

To my friend "D", in Montana (or wherever you are right now)...
Happy Birthday
 Hope you are sleeping in a tent with Bill,
 somewhere in the wilderness, 
warm, safe and happy.

 Tonight, dear friend, I give you the moon and send my love.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Laughton Ranch... sanctuary for animals during the Butte fire

Yesterday I pulled into the Raley's parking lot, in Jackson, to do something that I had been wanting to do for a few days. I heard that the Laughton Ranch was taking donations for the rescued and relocated animals from the Butte Fire. I wanted to donate some money, but I also wanted to see what and how they were doing all of this... and, of course, take some pictures.
The activity level in the parking lot and the street across from The Ranch was at its peak.
The transport vehicles were lining the road.
The Raley's parking lot was filled with more evacuation trucks and trailers, waiting to help those in need.

I parked, grabbed my camera and walked across the street to see where they were taking donations and to get some one's permission to take some photos. Everyone that I talked to was so nice. They finally directed me to Bobbi Laughton. She and her husband own the ranch. She asked me a few questions, had me sign my name on a list of visitors and stuck a name tag on me. I told her I wasn't representing anyone... that I had a blog and Facebook... and I wanted to get the story out there because they were doing such a good job. She  said she would get someone to give me a tour around the farm. I was delighted. I felt like an official reporter for a newspaper or something. I always ask before I take any pictures. Sometimes folks get touchy about someone walking in and clicking away without permission. It's always wise to ask permission.
I was introduced to a woman from El Dorado county who was helping with the animals. She was my tour guide. I have to apologize to her right now, because in a serious senior moment I have forgotten her name and she was so nice to me. I should have written her name down as soon as I got back to the car. It was only a three letter name. she had a name tag too. Sometimes I feel so old and addled.
She took me past the horses first. They were out in front near the street.
The stalls were clean and there was water and food for each horse. This one, in the foreground, was so beautiful and paid attention to our every move. I was told that all of the temporary fencing was donated by Lowe's in Jackson.
This was a sign in one area near the horses.
The animals were, and are, the priority here. The are stressed enough being in a strange place. It's so important to keep the level of human activity to a minimum so that the animals don't become anxious or sick.

When I walked up to the barn area I saw the hay, alfalfa and straw piled high and my tour guide told me that they go though huge amounts daily.
This is an unbelievable amount, stacked and ready for use.

I felt that this cross on top of the barn was appropriate for the effort that was being made. It seems like it represented the good and caring work that was going on at this ranch.

There were rows and rows of animal shelters. The animals were grouped together by the families that brought them here. Some pens had three different kinds of animals in them... all from the same family farm.

Each one protected and covered with pop ups and tarps... each being cleaned and watered by volunteers and family members.
Lots of 4H kids helping too. They said that they could use more of these 4H er's. They know how to handle animals and the animals respond to the kids well.
I didn't count all the animals, but Fox40 says that the Ranch is housing about 200 horses, 100 goats, 100 donkeys, 200 chickens and a slew of other animals. 
I saw lots of goats...

Hello guys, how are you?
"We're doing well, Farmlady. How are you?"
I asked, "Are you being well taken care of?"
"Yes." they answered, "We are fine. Our owners brought us to a good place."

I loved the horns on this one. Reminded me of my Brownie. This is the way his horns should have been. Beautiful animals.

There was so much food.
People and businesses are being so generous.

 All the animals looked fairly content...except for this little horse. He didn't look happy. He looked annoyed.
This little guy reminded me of someone. He reminded me of Eeyor in Winnie The Pooh. He wasn't an old, gray donkey, he was a little gray horse.  Close enough.
"Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. 
"If it is a good morning," he said. 
"Which I doubt." said he.

There were lots of chickens, roosters and a beautiful goose...
and rabbits... lots and lots of rabbits.

As I left, I noticed the front yard of the Laughton's house was filled with containers of cats. There were a couple of dogs, but most dogs were at other facilities. There was a pig the size of a house. 
It is Noah's Ark in Jackson, California... only a lot more than two of everything.
All the animals are waiting patiently to go home. All being taken good care of by all these wonderful people.
I thanked my escort and we shook hands. I walked away with a really good feeling about my town and the people who live here. 
This morning the Laughton's posted a video on Facebook. It was so upbeat and had such a positive message. They said that they are in this for the long haul. I believe they are. 

A week of fear and smoke

We are a few miles from where the Butte fire, in California, started. We live on the south side of Jackson, near the river. If not for a wind blowing east through the Mokelumne River Canyon last Wednesday, I'm sure that we would be looking for burnt pieces of our life in the ashes of our home this week. We were too close for this to have ended any other way. The direction of the wind is the only thing that saved us. Many have not been so fortunate.
We held our breath for two days and finally knew that the fire was moving east, north and south, but not west. On Friday the electricity stayed on long enough to restart the freezer and refrigerator, turn on the air conditioning (temps were at 105 outside), take a shower... and to have a short meltdown of my own. A clean body, hair that doesn't smell like smoke and a good cry did wonders for the stress level. By Saturday, the fire was tearing through the central part of Calavaras County and the small towns that spot the area up there. It raced south and headed for San Andreas and Angels Camp, Murphy's and everything in between. It was also burning toward Pine Grove in Amador Co. The weather was over 100 degrees for days with no humidity. The drought was a huge contributing factor... So much fuel for this monster.
This is the Prospector's second day of helping the Amador Country Animal Response Team (ACART) at the Amador County fairgrounds in Plymouth. He is working most of the day there and was so tired last night... but I heard no complaints from him. Bless his heart. He is taking care of all kinds of dogs, from Pit Bulls to Chihuahuas and guess which one bit him.... the little Chihuahua. Not badly. More from fright. These animals are so stressed... but safe. They just don't understand what has happen to their homes. Carl and Cutter would be the same way.
Yesterday, after a quick trip to the hospital in the valley, I stopped at the Laughton Ranch here in Jackson to give a donation and ask if I could take some pictures. The next blog post will be about my experience at the Laughton Ranch and the wonderful rescue work that is being done there.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Oh, the heaviness of summer.

I've been home for a few weeks. All I do is complain about the heat and... I water.
Think good things Farmlady...
*The tomatoes are still thriving.
*The chickens are still given us eggs.
*There have been no wildfires close to us.
*We have air-conditioning.
*The well hasn't run dry.
*The turkey have returned.

... but the leaves are falling, early, from our trees
  and the garden is sad.

Even Hotei is not happy.
 It's going to be a long end to the summer.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Frog story for my Beans

Once upon a time, there was a little frog that lived in a planter filled with ivy, on the porch of a little farm house, in the middle of a great wilderness near a river. She felt safe in this planter because she didn't have other frogs to keep her company and the only other creatures like her were those walking giants, that lived in the dirt and made a lot of noise at night.
So, the little frog stayed in the ivy and made it her home...
There was only one problem. Once a week the lady who lived here would have to water the ivy. This lady would take the plant down to the garden, fill it with water, drain it and then put it back in its place on the porch. She didn't realize that the little frog lived in this ivy because she hadn't seen any frogs for a while and thought that they were all gone.
One morning, the lady took the planter down into the garden and started watering it. This planter had a small  reservoir on one side to let the water drain out. She tipped the planter to drain the water out. Then she notice that something was in the water well... holding on for dear life.
"Well, hello there." she said.
There, inside the well, was a tiny frog. It was looking at her.
The lady carefully returned the planter to the porch and thought about how careless she had been carrying the ivy down into the garden to water it. The little frog had gone along for the ride and didn't even jump out when she watered the plant. It must have wanted to be in this planter awfully bad to stay inside, even when the water was filling the well... even when the planter was moving.
The little frog just stayed in the well, filled with water, and watched her.
Did she hear the frog say something?
"Please be careful next time, lady. This is my home too."
...then she thought she heard it say,
"Maybe you could just use the watering can and water the ivy right here."

The lady said, "I'm sorry little frog. From now on, I will water the ivy with a watering can and you won't have to worry about leaving your home."
The lady felt better and she was glad that the little frog was OK. She thought that the little frog was smiling at her.
"Next time...", she said to herself, "I will look before I water anything. I didn't know this little frog lived here, in the ivy, but I do now and once you know that someone's life is in your hands and relies on you for safety, you need to take care of it."
 Always be kind to anything that needs your help because all life is fragile.
The little frog is counting on you.