Search Results for: fence

Day Five — The Final Day of the Cattle Roundup

Today concludes my writings about my stay at a ranch in New Mexico where I participated in their spring cattle drive. With humor and determination I was determined to keep up, or pass, the boys in this endeavor. I have very fond memories of this trip, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it.

Day Five at the Ranch

Well, my final day here at the Ranch. Six a.m. wakeup alarm, which I actually am used to now. But, when you’re in bed at 9:00 (9:30 last night actually), it’s pretty easy. It is truly amazing how the body can restore itself with a good night’s sleep. I feel fit as a fiddle with just a few small aches in my shoulders from yesterday’s exciting events. I did have trouble getting to sleep though as I was reliving all the fun of the day in my head.

Jean-Francoise made it through the week

Today is worming the horses day and then castrating and branding the calves. Just to ease all the men’s minds, we actually don’t castrate them here, we “band” them, which means you use some special device (who invents these things?) that literally puts a rubber band around their balls (they are fuzzy in case anybody’s wondering) and they just dry up and fall off. Sounds a little bit more civil than castrating. I’ve seen horses get castrated where my horse is, and they actually had a stallion sent off to be castrated on Thursday night here, and he was pretty bloody and unhappy when he came back from the vet’s.

Groom, saddle up, feed the horses and cows (there’s a lot more horses to feed this morning! I get a new horse today, Blankito, as my poor Poncho gets turned out with the horses we rounded up yesterday for a few weeks of rest. I have the “big gun” saddle pads on today. Not so much because I’m sore, but more to try them out.

My lips reached a new level of chapped yesterday and no amount of balm seems to make it better. Even put A&D on them last night. I’m watching a lizard investigate the porch by my feet as I write this. There certainly are a lot of different kids of lizards here and in all shapes and sizes. Haven’t seen a snake though, which is OK with me.

Breakfast was the tantalizing assortment of rubbery eggs, bacon (the bacon IS good here), sausage and pancakes this morning. Can we have a little creativity here? She did manage French toast (which Jean Francoise swears is not a French thing and had never had them before) on Wednesday, which I may have neglected to mention.

9:30 we all meet back at the barn and start worming the horses. It’s a very simple procedure of catching each horse and shooting this medicine into their mouth. This was flavored like apple. Most don’t mind. Some make a fuss. They all got done.

Mark, the San Diego boat guy, is back at the ranch today and he’s brought along a friend that arrived last night from San Diego. I think his name was Scott, so let’s call him that. Mark was apparently his first boss he had at his boat shop and got him into horses and now has a few. Seems like a nice enough guy. Oddly enough though, as he was attempting to saddle up his horse (he brought his own saddle) he was trying to do it from the wrong side (you always saddle a horse on the left side). I think everyone found that rather unusual. Basic horsemanship stuff, universal in English and Western riding. He also had such a hard time controlling his first horse he had to switch to another one.

Anyway. The plan is to move the horses back out onto the ranch. I’d been told that this can get almost as dicey as moving them in because once you’ve gotten them back here they remember that the food is provided to them instead of them having to search for it, so they decide they might want to stick around. We formulate a plan with “the boys” (this now includes Scott, as he has not proved himself with his saddling and horse handling abilities so far) strategically placed at places where the horses might try and escape. R.J. and I are together at the main road, and as soon as the horses pass us we are to gallop over to the river and push the horses up the trail and in the right direction. The gate is opened and Alan pushes the horse out of the corral and they start running. Within moments they’re past us and R.J. and I gallop off to the river. Now I’m on a new horse, and man, is he fast. I’m holding him back as hard as I can and he’s still passing R.J.’s horse. We get to the river and are expecting to see the horses come up the river. No horses, but we sure hear a hell of a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ way back at the ranch. R.J. goes back up the trail a little to check it out but can’t see much, so after another 30 seconds or so we both head back up the trail the way we came. There are horses running all over the ranch so we just go where it looks like we’re needed. Once they’ve gotten them all back in a bunch I’m strategically placed where they apparently got through before and they start again. But, as they are coming towards me I see that one of the front horses chest and leg is completely torn up and bleeding profusely. I call out that one of them is hurt and we turn them all back to the feeding area. The injured horse is Cowgirl and I cannot even begin to describe these wounds. Apparently in the melee she somehow got caught up on the other side of a barbed wire fence, and when the herd started moving again she panicked and somehow got herself wrapped up in it. Her upper left leg is completely torn open in this incredibly deep gash with skin and flesh and muscle just hanging open and blood pouring out of it. She had two other injuries, but they weren’t as deep and horrible as this. Mark and Alan used disposable diapers (clean!) and very gently and carefully folded the flesh/meat/muscle back up where it belonged and then wrapped it up as best they could. The vet had already been called and was waiting for her. They got her trailered up and Mark drove her down to be stitched up. They ended up keeping her overnight, but I guess everything was going to be OK.

By this point it was after 12:30 so we broke for lunch. Jean Francoise have given up even pretending to find the lunch edible and just ate our potato chips and drank water (they ran out of apples two days ago – COME ON!). After lunch we make attempt #2 at the roundup/push out. Same plan in place. The horse pass us, R.J. and I race up to the river and again, no horses. Before we know it the horses go racing past us BEHIND us and up the road going in the wrong direction. R.J. tells me to stay in the river and they’ll push them down again. I just need to change my position a little to block the other side of the trail. I’m sitting there, Blankito is going nuts, and I can’t see anything because of the dense growth around the river bank. I finally decide somethings gone wrong (again) and head up the road.  I can’t see anyone or any horses, and as I come up over the bend in the road I discover I’m not in the neighbor’s yard (who I discover late is Mark’s property and Mark’s wife) I go blazing past her asking if she’s seen any horses come this way and she point up the hill, which Blankito and I go racing up. At the top of the hill I find everyone. Horses and humans. I arrive just in time to prevent another breakout attempt. Just as I crest the hill the horses are turning direction and heading around a corral that none of them can get to. I race over and turn them back, and then we all push them down the hillside and finally get back on track to where they need to go. I wasn’t there so I don’t know what really happened, but there was a rumor that Jean Francoise had take his hat off and waved it at the horses to keep them on track during the first attempt and that’s what spooked them and started the first fiasco. I know that Alan suspects that Scott was somehow responsible for Cowgirl’s injuries, as he was the ONLY one near her when it happened. It wasn’t a great morning. Although the horse chases were fun, the collateral damage wasn’t worth it. It was also as hot as Billy Blue Blazes out today.

Now the cow part started. We were given a quick lesson in how to tackle the calfves once they are roped (it’s a one-person job to do the flip which is a front leg/flank grab and flip technique). Once the calf is down, then it’s a two-person job to hold them there. The front person does a kneel on the neck and rib thing while the rear person does this sit on the ground and stretch the legs in both direction thing. Those little cows are amazingly strong and can put your lights out with one kick. If it was a cow, then they got a single shot of 7 different medicines, an ear tag in the left ear, and the brand. Most of them cried in pain at the ear pierce and especially the branding, which cruelly was a 3-part brand for this ranch. The bull calves got it even worse. They get the shot, the ear tag on the right ear, but then they cut the tip of the ear off too! Then the “banding” of their – you know and THEN the branding. Needless to say they all weren’t very happy with us when we were done. The ranch actually provided us a cold soda at the end! That was a real treat for us and the first soda I’d had all week. By the time we got back to the ranch it was 5:00 already. Amazingly Debbie (the wife/owner) had fed the horses for us, so we just had to untack and bathe our horses.

I had decided to start my drive back home tonight as I was a little worried about making it back in enough time to catch my flight. So I quickly showered and packed and had dinner. Believe it or not folks we had leftover brisket for dinner. This time it was slathered in barbeque sauce and baked, but was the leftovers from last night’s dinner. COME ON…brisket 3 nights out of 6 meals? I can’t even believe it. Some unidentifiable broccoli dish and dried up sliced French bread that wasn’t even warmed up. Like I said, no end of week celebration dinner at this place. They barely looked up from their dinner plates when I said goodbye.

I made it about 3 ½ hours before I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Actually, they were shutting around 3 hours, but it took another ½ hour until I got to a town that had a hotel. Spent the night at a Comfort Suites, which wasn’t all that bad and the bed was more comfortable than the ranch. I set my alarm for 8:00 a.m., but of course my eyes popped open at 5:00 (it’s an hour earlier in New Mexico to Arizona) and I just dozed until 7:30 and got up.

Believe it or not, I think I’ve lived with Jim too long. I pushed the time a little getting to the airport, and due to several factors, mostly an airport employee giving me faulty information, I was 3 minutes late in checking in for my flight (42 minutes before flight instead of 45 minutes) and they couldn’t check me in. I am now stuck in this airport for 6 ½ hours until 10:00 tonight and won’t arrive back to New York until 6:00 AM. Just shoot me now.

Overall it was a great vacation. Day Four made it all worth it. It was nice to get away. It was beautiful and peaceful and I got a lot of sleep and didn’t overeat. It’s a good thing I like to be alone, or it would not have been fun. The owner’s of the ranch were strange ducks. Jean Francoise was very nice and funny and had it not been for the language barrier I think we would have had an even better time together. I felt bad for him the last two days, because I think it had really stopped being enjoyable to him and I think the food was getting to him. Roy was just plain weird. Carol seemed OK, but I wasn’t sorry to see her go. I developed a new respect for R.J. after Thursday, I suspect because he developed a new respect for me then too. I was extremely proud of myself for how I rode and what I was able to accomplish. Would I do it again? Absolutely. At that ranch? Probably not. I do think it would be fun to try it myself and get it right.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed my rambling. My sister said that she’s loved it and I should do a blog thing, but after today it goes back to “Got the kids to school, ran errands, went to the grocery store, to karate, etc.”  and who the hell wants to read that?



Day Four — Cattle Roundup Memories

Me at the end of day four dirty, sun weary, dead tired and happy.

Here is the fourth installment of my five day experience participating in a cattle roundup in New Mexico in 2008. This trip was inspirational in many ways. While I already had dreams of someday opening a ‘cowgirl camp’, this trip solidified ideas. I haven’t done it yet, but the dream is still alive and well. My daily writings were the beginning seeds of this blog, and the trip was the first trip I had ever taken without my family — something just for me; to feed my soul. I now regularly travel alone, with a sister or with my friend on soul-feeding trips.

There are only two photos from this long day, as there simply wasn’t time to take any more.

Day Four at the Ranch

Today was an AMAZING day.


It’s another sunny day here in New Mexico. It was hotter last night than it has been previously. A fire ant decided to join me in bed last night. Three stings before I killed him, but I got a new appreciation for how painful getting stung by a whole bunch of them would be. The wife/owner of the husband-and-wife team owners, Debbie, a somewhat overweight and over-made-up version of a cowgirl who doesn’t seem to do a whole lot of work, was telling us at breakfast how this winter she got stung all up her arm by a scorpion, so I guess I should consider myself lucky with just one fire ant.

Lights out at 9:30 last night. I was definitely less tired last night than Tuesday night for some reason. After an unbelievably heinous breakfast that consisted of orange juice, and a choice of some disgusting looking bran flake cereal of a breakfast burrito (scrambled eggs in a flour tortilla [see Day Two breakfast], I’m now enjoying a few minutes of free time before we hit the dusty trail to find those final elusive 100 cows. Lord knows what we’ll do with them should we find them with only 5 people riding today (and two seem to be fairly incompetent). Lucy, the Mexican woman who seems to do everything here, has packed us an ever-so-delicious lunch again for the trail (see Day Three lunch) that I’m counting the minutes until I get to enjoy.

I sound like a real crab, I know, but I’m actually finding this all quite humorous. This morning though I decided to put my foot down at shoveling the shit for them. I fed the horses and watered the horses, but did not help in raking up the horse poop. Besides the fact that there were only two horses up at that particular barn this morning to clean up after, it just seemed silly for 4 people to be fighting over who was going to rake up the shit like it’s some privilege or something. R.J. (Martha) glared at me and Jean-Francois (who seemed to have a similar attitude this morning), but didn’t say anything.

At 9:30 we hit the trail. Alan, the owner of the ranch, said he’s catch up with us later. So now we’re down to four. ‘Martha’, me, Roy and Jean-Francoise. Jean-Francoise is looking a little tired and scratched up. I play nurse to him. He’s doesn’t want to duck down when we go through bushes (which is QUITE often) because he says he wants to see where he’s going. I keep telling him that the horse knows where to go. Subsequently, his face is all torn up. Anyway, I carry Neosporin with me and apply it to his wounds when we take breaks. Chatty Roy decided to wear a lighter blue shirt today, as the deep blue he had on yesterday practically baked him to death.

There was a coyote right off the path this morning, but was too far away to get a photo that would come out, as he was camouflaged in the grass pretty well. Not too far into the ride we came across 3 cows and two calves. How exciting! And the human/horse to cow ratio was pretty good too. Well, we barely start moving them when two of the cows take off up this hill (dare I say cliff?). Me, being the only one of the paying guests that seems to enjoy this or cared, go taking off after them. I assume Martha is at the bottom trying to keep the one cow and calves together. Surprisingly, Jean Francoise heads up the hill behind me. I’m pushing the cows up the hill and figure we’ll find a way down once we get to the top, as we’re in very heavy bush and trees at this point. NO. Of course not. The cows decide they want to go down again and before I can get to them to stop them they start down this rocky cliff. Well, I know that if a cow can get down it my Poncho can, too. He didn’t want to at first, but he did it and we managed to get the whole herd back together again (can you call only 5 cows a herd?). I’m not sure if Jean-Francoise came down behind me or found an easier, softer way. I think he followed me, as that is where the majority of his morning’s face lacerations came from. From there we managed to move the cows down to the enclosure without any more exciting breakout attempts.

Shortly after continuing on our way Alan managed to find us, and we head up to the one area we had not been to before, way at the end of the property. We’re heading up this enormous ridge and get up as high as 6,000 feet, which had amazing views. I believe that was probably the highest I’ve been this week. But, along the way we come to this solar water well (these are apparently the way to go around here as there are a few scattered around on the property and on the neighbors too), and there was almost the whole herd of horses we were supposed to gather up tomorrow. We continued on our way, as we were still looking for cows, and who should come charging through but Taco, the studdly little miniature donkey! I thought I got a picture of him, but it didn’t come out. He was so cute. That was the closest R.J. said he’d been to him in the two years he’s been on the ranch. As we continued on our way Freckles, Jean Francoise’ horse, got a flat tire (lost a shoe), so we had to stop and get that put back on.

While we were all off our horses we decided to break for lunch. We’re all sitting around eating our lousy sandwiches when, I kid you not, Alan pulls out his sandwich – 3 inches thick, loaded with piles of meat and cheese, lettuce & tomatoes. Now come on here! We’re the paying guests here and the owner is going to pull this beautiful sandwich out of his saddlebag and eat it in front of us? I felt like pushing him off the cliff.

There, at the top of the ridge, where you could literally see everything for miles and miles and there were still no cows to be found, R.J. and Alan decided then that we would go round up the horses instead. This was supposed to happen tomorrow as I’ve already said, but with no cows to be found and the horses just sitting there at the watering hole waiting for us, and R.J. being pretty sure he knew where the remaining three were as we’d seen them yesterday, that seemed like the best plan.

However, along the way, as we’re riding down this ridge, we see two of our cows over on the neighbor’s property. Only problem is there is a huge gorge between them and us, which required us walking down a ways to find a trail to get down (trail would be an overstatement, but as I’ve already said, it’s amazing what these horses can get up and down). Down and up we go only to find no gate in the fence. Down we go again and head down the gorge again until we finally find the spot that the cows must have used where the fence was down. Now, what would possess a cow to want to go down that ravine and up the other side through a little hole in the fence just to go onto the neighbor’s property is beyond me. Don’t they know the grass isn’t greener on the other side?

Well, we hadn’t even had a chance to give our horses a drink from that lovely huge solar powered well water holding tank (which was more like a swimming pool, and at this point even I thought of jumping in), when the two cows took off at a dead run (which is faster than you’d think a cow could run). Alan, R.J. and I take off after them, each in a different direction, because that’s how you get them back on track, and I swear to god I think Roy and Jean Francoise just stood there. Poncho and I are zigging and zagging at a dead gallop through bushes and trees, and I’m proud to say that I am actually the one that caught up with them first and managed to get them turned back in the right direction. R.J. went back to find “the boys”, wherever they’d been hiding from all the fun. From then on, those cows continued down the dirt road fairly happily at a nice walking pace.

Then, my proudest moment of the whole trip came…Alan sent Roy and Jean-Francoise down the mountain with the two cows where they where they were supposed to wait with them at the stream until we caught up to them, and I was to go with R.J. and Alan to round up the horses. I know that this was just a fool’s errand for Roy and Jean-Francoise, as we won’t round up those two cows with the horses, but I hope they didn’t know that. Perhaps there was some need to get those cows off the mountain though so they didn’t head back to the next farm.

We come up to the herd right where we left them, but now, low and behold there’s a whole big herd of cattle there with them! Goddamn it. We were following their tracks from the hillside that we came off of so we knew they were there. Probably watching us all day on the other side of that mountain laughing their asse’s off at us because they’d managed to avoid us all week. Anyway, problem is you can’t herd cattle and horses together. Not only do they move at a different pace, but, with Longhorn cattle they would gore the horses, and that probably wouldn’t be good.

Now, I know from conversations this week that rounding up cattle and rounding up horses is completely different. Horses will try to get away from you just like the cows will, but they take off at a complete gallop and don’t stop until you’ve reached your destination. They were right. We barely had those horses in sight around the bend from the cows and they took off running — and so did we. Honestly, we were galloping so fast and you’re trying so hard to not rip your head off on a tree limb or your face up on a pricker bush that’s rushing by you, that I had absolutely no idea where Alan and R.J. were, just that the horses were ahead of me. But, at some point I’m left there with two mares and Taco, the little donkey! I also know from past conversations that we don’t need Taco or his three mustangs with our group. But, it doesn’t appear to me that the mustangs are with little Taco. I know from experience that all mustangs have a government brand on their neck, and we’d just been talking about it at lunch as well. As far as I could tell the rear mare was NOT a mustang, and I really couldn’t tell with the one ahead of her. Taco was leading the charge. Thank goodness things slowed down to a trot at this point, and the rear mare was dodging and weaving and giving me a general hard time. I kept managing to get her back with the other two until one point when Taco and the lead mare broke off and I decided that since I knew the rear mare was not a mustang, to stick with her. Of course at this point I had NOOOO idea where Alan, R.J., or the other horses were. We were still pretty high and I could see all around. I also had NOOO idea where I was. But, I just stuck with this horse and low and behold a little while later I see the big herd on the ridge above us. We all re-connected and continued down the mountain. All the horses at this point were pretty damn tired, so the pace had slowed to this incredibly painful and horrendously fast trot. Had I known we were herding the horses today I would have put the “big guns” on the saddle (the full saddle and leg fleece pad). Poncho and I managed to find a slow lope (canter) which was MUCH more comfortable, and I was the lead horse for the rest of the way, as the other two horses were pretty well pooped out. We get the horses down to the valley floor and start heading them in the proper direction. R.J. went to find the boys babysitting the two cows (I honestly couldn’t tell you how long they were there – probably two or three hours waiting at least) and Alan and I continued with the herd down the valley. Once R.J. found the boys, they were supposed to go round up the last three horses from the different herd we saw yesterday and catch up with us.

When Alan and I got to the part of the valley that their was no escape for the herd except where we wanted them, Alan sent me back to see if I could find the men and their herd. I get down a ways and three horses come crashing out of the brush followed shortly by Roy. R.J. and Jean Francoise are nowhere to be found. Alan seemed to be so relieved to see me he just stopped, so I took off with those horses and fed them down the canyon to the rest of the herd. Now mind you, again I am at a dead gallop over rocks, through rivers, bushes and trees. These horses are really amazing.

It was a successful day in the end. We came charging into the farm with me leading the way. Alan and I got the herd turned in where we needed them, and we even got the night off from feeding the horses and shoveling shit!!! We got back to the barn at 5:15, so we were in the saddle the better part of 8 hours today and Alan and R.J. estimated we covered 25 miles, with 15 of it at a run.

Dinner tonight was brisket…again, with baked potato and iceberg salad – same as Sunday night, but no bread. I saw it there on the counter, but we were all too damn tired to care to put it on the table. Now come on. The guests are only here for 6 dinners. Do you think they can manage to come up with enough options so that you’re not repeating a meal? Please.

I was a little worried about Jean-Francoise, as he was kind of slumped over his dinner plate. I thought for a minute he might fall asleep at the table. Even I went to dinner tonight in my pajamas because I knew I was too damn tired to change twice

Whatever else happened this week, today made it all worthwhile. What fun. My arms are all scratched up and I have a scratch on my forehead. My body aches, but nothing is hurt. Dinner was a quiet affair. Apparently Jean-Francoise DID NOT enjoy this afternoon. I guess he’s glad he wasn’t with us for the big herd then! It was a really hard day, but the time sure flew by. I will have no problem sleeping tonight, but that hasn’t been a problem any day. If there ever were a Budweiser night, tonight would have been it. I celebrated with a delicious iced coffee, and didn’t worry that it will affect my sleep. Nothing will tonight.



Settling In

Oh, how I love this picture. Grace and Melina having an affectionate head butt.

Things have been humming along here on the farm this week. The animals have settled into their new fenced area nicely after the first few days of grumbling. I need to let them out for a little bit of free-ranging, but it’s been so nice not to have to worry about the babies wandering into the street for a change that I haven’t yet.

Grace, the part gazelle, can now be regularly seen on the roof of the old coop.

The goats have been enjoying their new ramp more than I could have imagined, and even fat, grumpy Melina is frequently spotted on it. I think I can actually see her coming out of her depression, and she has been very kind to Grace and Kiki lately, as you can see above.

A traffic pile-up on the ramp exit.

Interestingly, the chickens for the most part do not fly out of the fenced area and instead choose to stay within the confines of the fenced area. Maybe they feel safer from predators in there? There are a few that fly out for some free-ranging regularly though. The large white buff cochin that had been broody (on no eggs) in the goat’s pen has finally given up and returned to the flock. Perhaps her experience with having the chicks under her cured her broodiness?

The chicks are 2-1/2 weeks old now and are really getting some feathers now. They are doing great and it’s SO nice to have them in the old coop instead of in my basement where I’ve always had to keep them in the past.

I had these small windows I’d bought on eBay that I always intended on putting in the large dog house that the goats lived in last winter but never did. The old coop gets so hot during the day with the full sun beating down on it that I decided to put them in the old coop and see if I could get some cross-ventilation to keep the temperature down. It looks great, and the extra light will help with egg laying in the winter months by providing more light.

The framing of the silo is now complete and construction has come to a hault while we wait for the wire mesh that will enclose the walls of the silo and the metal roofing for all of the buildings to come in.

The silo framing is complete with the addition of the human entry door and roof.

I finally finished the signs I was working on for the houses. I found appropriate artwork on Etsy and mounted them on wooden plaque’s that I got at a craft store after I had stained them. Then I varnished them several times.

One of these days I’ll find a free moment to fill those screw holes with wood putty.

I had bought these tall chicken statues at Home Goods for, if you can believe it, $3.00 each. They were a little chipped up and had a few minor cracks, but for that price I couldn’t turn them down. I filled the cracks and repaired the chips (one large corner was actually missing), and then re-painted the areas to match the original paint. I had originally pictured them as newell posts for a railing, but since we didn’t have a railing in my plans, they will just stand guard on the corners of the goat house stoop to add a touch of whimsy.

and the formica countertop is in! I picked a dark red color that pretty closely matches the color that the board and batten siding will be painted. I think it looks great and will be easy to keep clean.

It has been so hot lately that I couldn’t bear the thought of sitting in the goat house to finish the staining on the cabinets. The heat finally broke today, but somehow I do’t think I’m going to get it done before I leave again for Wyoming on Sunday morning to pick India and Maia up from camp.

I’ll leave you with this picture of Grace and Kiki sound asleep on the ramp today. So sweet.

It’s a Farm Wonderland

This was one of the first sights that I saw this morning once my eyes could focus as I was waking up.

That would be Grace up on the ROOF of the old chicken coop (the new chick coop). I swear I think she is part gazelle the way that girl can jump. Once she figured out how to do it she was doing it all day.

Well, the fencing is complete. While the goats seem a little miffed at being confined, they can’t complain about being cramped. They have sunny spots and shady spots. They have rocks and hills. They have grass and mulch.

Where they took down some of the old fencing there were two cemented-in posts that I decided to put to good use. We cut them off down lower to the ground, and I made a play ramp for the goats. They LOVE it. I have never seen Princess Grace so excited. Tennessee Fainting goats, because of their myatonia, are rather stiff-legged. Because of that they are not big jumpers. Last night, however, she was jumping and kicking up her heels with joy at this new playground. It made me happy just to see her so happy. Today Evan and I went a step further and covered the board with roofing paper. The shingle material gives them great traction and will help to keep their hooves trim, kind of like a nail file would.

Princess Kate was so excited she frolicked around on the roofs of the old red coop too! This was highly unusual and frisky behavior for our usual shy and stiff Kate.

Just to show you how big Kiki and Grace have gotten, I’ll show you these pictures, once again proving that it is nearly impossible to get a good photo of baby goats. Or me for that matter. They are in constant motion.

The ‘silo’ chicken run between the goat house and chicken coop is under construction now. This will allow the chickens enclosed access into the goat house, but won’t allow the goats to get into the chicken coop (the chicken food makes them sick). I’m not sure that they’ll use this much is good weather, but it will be highly trafficked in the winter as they travel back and forth to lay their eggs in the goat house – which for some strange reason is much preferred to laying eggs in their nesting boxes.

The nesting boxes got a fancy valance I made. I’m hoping to entice them to lay more eggs in there and less in the goat house.

And even grumpy old Melina had a tender moment with the babies. The photograph is terrible, but it was so sweet I just have to put it here anyway. I’m almost ready to have them all start sleeping together. I think when I finally completely wean them, which should be within the next week or two, they’ll be ready to move in with the big girls.

Grumpy Melina has a tender moment with Kiki and Grace

The baby chicks are over a week old now and doing great. They seem to love being in the old coop, and are getting tiny wing feathers.

And this is what Evan and I are working on now:

They are jumping platforms. We’ve set posts into the ground at varying levels and I’ve screwed 3/4″ A/C plywood squared onto the posts. On top of that we’ll add some of that roofing paper for traction. In the middle of the platforms is an big old cable spool my sister got for me. It had a hole in the middle that I covered with plywood so nobody got a lef stuck in there. Hopefully they’ll have a lot of fun using them, and should provide exercise and entertainment in their new confined space.

I just don’t think life could get much better than it does here if you’re a goat.

Two New Lino Prints

So amongst all of the other things I’ve been filling my days with lately, I have managed to finish two more linoleum prints.

This is the first in a series of western-themed prints. I just love this one. And I know, why can’t I just stick with one category and finish that one before moving on to the next…

Boots and Cactus

And I did get another one done in the Chicken series…

Don't Fence Me In

Where have you been?

I know. I haven’t been posting much. Things have been really busy around the farm and home. I promise if it’s not raining tomorrow I am going to take lots of farm photos so I can show you all of the changes. The new fenced area will be complete by tomorrow and, while the goats won’t be happy about no longer having the entire yard to roam free (and eat free) in, I’ll be relieved to not have to worry about the babies wandering off anymore.

The dreadful heat we’ve had around here for weeks is supposed to break tomorrow, so Evan and I have big plans to work outside building things.

I’ve also got some new linoleum prints to show you.

Good things come to those who wait.

My father used to say that to me all the time.

Back on the Farm

Look how big Grace & Kiki got while I was away!

It is hard to believe how big baby goats can grow in just 12 days! Look at grace in that picture; she’s almost as tall as Princess Kate now! I swear I think they bred Cissy to a Gazelle instead of a Nigerian Dwarf goat too, since Grace can jump like you wouldn’t believe.

Everybody seemed genuinely happy to have me back home, and it was nice to see them all waiting at the door as late afternoon approached on Sunday and feeding time was near.

I was excited to find the new egg cartons I’d ordered waiting for me. I designed a label for the carton yesterday so they’ll be all set for sale at Free Range Friday. They are a 6-egg capacity octagonal carton for those people that just don’t use that many eggs.

And lots of progress was made on the goat house and chicken coop while I was gone, which I was very pleased to see. The rubber flooring and the cabinet was installed in the ‘human’ part of the goat house and it looks terrific. The cabinet still needs to be stained and a Formica countertop will be installed.

and the composite decking was installed too. I chose this multi-colored wood color and my father, a carpenter his entire life, thought that it was some fancy imported hardwood, so I guess it really does look pretty good.

Construction of the silo has begun. This and the roof are the last pieces that need to be completed on the two barns.

The fencing is really coming along as well. I wanted them to get a bit more done before I put up pictures though. It’s a really large area that will be fenced in, and I’m so excited to be able to have all of my animals in that large area and not have to worry about the babies wandering into something dangerous.

Now that the inside of the goat house is complete I felt it was time to “move in”. I hung the curtains that I’d found at a bargain price a few months ago, hung up a chalk board so I can write down supplies I need to buy, a clock, and I couldn’t resist the adorable battery-operated paper lanterns I found at Joann’s Crafts today for 70% off.

It’s all so wonderful, outrageous, fanciful and completely over-the-top terrific. My animals have no idea how lucky they are. Although I have to say that sometimes when I’m scratching Princess Kate and she’s looking into my eyes with those gorgeous yellow eyes she has, I think she knows. Remember, she came from a goat meat farm. I’m sure she’d heard stories.

Beautiful Wyoming

After a successful camp drop-off on Tuesday depositing India for her third year and Maia for her first year at Teton Valley Ranch Camp in Dubois, I finally have a little bit of private time with my son, Evan, after he’s just completed his second year there. Evan loves being with me, and at home he’s my big farm and garden helper. Yesterday we spent several hours driving up through Teton National Park, Kelly, and Mormon Row taking photographs. He’s extremely patient with me while I constantly stop the truck to get another shot.

Yesterday we came across many wonderful things, and I’ll show you just a few.

A magpie skipping along a fencpost

A Beautiful horse and her newborn foal

This was either a Yellow Warbler or a Common Yellowthroat

A Bird hitching a ride on a horse's back on Mormon Row

Beautiful Wyoming wildflowers blooming along a fence

The splendor of Jenny Lake

A Wyoming Bluebird Sky

Today as evening was falling we went up through Teton National Park, the entrance to which is maybe a mile from our house here. On our way through heading to moose we saw a beaver dam. I did see a beaver swimming along in the water, but couldn’t focus quickly enough before he dove under.

A Beaver Dam

There was also a female moose taking a rest in a bush next to the beaver dam, but she would not cooperate for a photo.

We headed up to Lost Creek Ranch and got a few more photos.

A Bluebird on a fencepost

The wildflowers are spectacular right now

A bird on a roof

Sun going down on the Tetons

As we were heading home the sun dipped just below the Teton range

Luckily though on the way back home not far from where we’d seen the female, this glorious buck was having his evening meal.

It’s hard not to be awed by the beauty surrounding you here.


For the past few years this has been my favorite view; in the saddle, riding Jive on the endless trails in Wyoming.

On Friday night I got the devastating news that when I get to Wyoming I have to put Jive down. I don’t have a choice. I’m heartbroken.

I’ll tell you my understanding of what has happened, but I may have some of the facts wrong.

Jive sustained a terrible injury this winter. She must have reared up playing with Louie and got her front foot wedged in the metal fencing. She was like that all night. When she was discovered it took 3 of my friends to get her leg out it was wedged so tight in the fence. This is an injury that kills most horses, but Jive has been struggling to recover all spring. While she had spent the winter boarding with another friend, this spring she went back to board with my good friend Terry, who was not as pleased with her healing progress as she would have liked to be. Terry has been carefully monitoring her leg and was pleased with the progress of the healing.

I rode her just 3 weeks ago and was so pleased with her progress.

Kissing Jive at the end of my last ride on June 21st

About a week after I left in June Terry said she started going really lame and was in pain. She thought it was an abscess, which Jive is very prone to getting, and brought her to our vets, Dr. Theo. No absess could be found, and no normal pain treatment seemed to be alleviating her pain. When Theo x-rayed her, he discovered that her coffin bone had somehow become badly deformed. Our best guess is that because of the injury this winter she was putting too much weight on her other, most abscess prone, front leg. Somehow this has degraded the coffin bone and created scar tissue. There is nothing that we can do about it. Orthopedic surgeons have been consulted. Theo is just keeping her pain-free with blocks until I can get out there.

I’ve cried a river of tears since Friday, but kept the news to myself for over a day. I couldn’t talk about it yet. It was my father’s birthday yesterday and I didn’t want to put a damper on the event for my kids. Although it is my policy to speak openly and honestly with my children, my good friend Lisa Adams just happened to do a blog post on her site just the other day on this very subject. Taking strength from that article, this morning I couldn’t avoid it any longer so sat the girls down to tell them. It was hard. We all cried. It makes me very sad that my son won’t get to see her before I have to do this, as I don’t pick him up from camp until this coming Saturday.

Terry advised me not to be there. She said it’s awful to witness. But I feel like I have to be there for her. I feel like I’ve let her down.

I have had so much death this spring on my farm already. I’m tired. I’m weary. I can’t believe I have to do this.

Jackson Part 2

I’m home now. Re-entry into the ‘atmosphere’ of Connecticut is always difficult for me. It’s late at night. We had a long day of travel. It’s hot, humid and raining here. It was warm, sunny and dry in Wyoming today. The first few days there we had some pretty funky weather; it was cool to cold, drizzling one minute and sunny the next, often windy and quite cloudy. However, the last two days have been the summer weather that I am used to. You awaken to crystal blue skies and bright sunshine. The kind of weather that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning.

I had a lovely time there. In total we had 4 full days and 2 partial days. One of those full days was spent getting the boys off to camp. It was nice spending the time with Lorraine, who was a friend, but we hadn’t spent too much time together before. We certainly know each other a whole lot better, and I thought we co-habitated pretty well. It didn’t bother her when I stayed up until 1:30 a.m. most nights puttering around with q project or baking something, and it didn’t bother me a bit when she headed off to bed to read around 10:00 most nights. I did put her to work one night pitting cherries and shredding a roast for pulled BBQ, but other than that I pretty much left her alone. Without a family to feed, I got to cook whatever I felt like. I made a delicious nectarine frangipane tart, a roast that was wrapped in tightly in heavy butcher paper and cooked at a very low temperature for 12 hours that came out perfect. I had lorraine shred that up and poured barbecue sauce over it. We had BBQ beef sandwiches on the plane today, and the rest I froze for our next trip out there in July. I also made some really easy fresh cherry turnovers that were crazy delicious. I threw together some hummus for the plane last night as well, and Lorraine said I should start selling that at Free Range Friday’s it was so good.

I had fun showing her the sights in and around Jackson, and she was patient with me running errands and visiting friends and horses. I did, finally, go riding on Tuesday. Although we’d visited her several times before then, it great to get Jive saddled up and see how her leg was after the terrible injury she’d sustained this winter. I didn’t work her hard, but there wasn’t any lameness much to my relief.

The wildlife cooperated for the most part, with several moose sightings, a few elk, lots of bison, trumpeter swans and lots of beautiful birds. No bear though.

As we were heading out to visit Kelly and Mormon Row there was a crowd of people just past the visitors center and elk refuge on the highway. I pulled over and right there on the side of the road was a pretty good sized adolescent bull moose. What was great about it was he was behind a fence, and there was a viewing deck that allowed us to get so close you could practically reach out and touch him.

As part-time tour guide I took Lorraine to see the town of Kelly. While we were there I showed her the old Teton Valley Ranch Camp property. There was a terrific herd of longhorn cows in Kelly and a lot of them had young calfs. We spent a lot of time there admiring and photographing them. She loved mormon Row and it’s spectacular scenery. We hiked up to Phelp’s Lake yesterday after I went riding. It was a lovely time of day to hike there, with the evening light sparkling off of the rushing river.

The old Teton Valley Ranch Camp property in Kelly

Have you ever seen a cow with such an attitude in her expression? She's practically swaggering she's got to much attitude. Of course if I had horns like that I guess I'd swagger too.

The river on our hike to Phelp's Lake

And we ate at places like Nora’s Fish Creek Inn in Wilson and The Sweetwater Cafe in Jackson. Mandatory eating spots for any visitor.

As always, I feel the tug like a Push-Me-Pull-You in a Dr. Doolittle book; it’s wonderful to see the horses and ride and it always makes me realize how much I miss it when I can’t be there, but my animals at home miss me and are never cared for quite as well as when I am there.

It was a great trip and a very much needed break after the crazy hectic time the end-of-school-year always seems to be. I feel like I’ve re-charged my battery a bit now and am ready to tackle summer. And I come home feeling like I’ve made a new good friend, which is always a nice feeling.