29 January 2008

Knitter's Tea

Oh what fun! I made a tea just for knitters over at Adagio. It's called Trico-Thé (get it?) and it's vanilla-almond-cranberry flavored. Hope you like it!

I also made a yummy one for Valentine's Day based on my favorite Godiva treats: chocolate-covered raspberry caramels. How sinful can you get? But remember, it's calorie-free!

I'm going to need pots and pots of tea in the next 48 hours because I will be...


22 January 2008

Sunny Day...

Sunny Day

Sweepin' the clouds away

On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame Street

Come and play

Everything's A-OK

Friendly neighbors there
That's where we meet

Can you tell me how to get
How to get to Sesame Street

It's a magic carpet ride

Every door will open wide

To Happy people like you--
Happy people like
What a beautiful

Sunny Day
Sweepin' the clouds away
On my way to where the air is sweet

Can you tell me how to get,
How to get to Sesame street...
How to get to Sesame Street
How to get to...

19 January 2008

Come In From The Cold

The high temperature today was -5 F. That's without wind chill. It's been crazy cold for the past few days, and we don't expect things to warm up until after Monday.

Hopes are high that the Packers will easily defeat the New York Giants tomorrow on "the frozen tundra," since most people (even football players) become instantly numb outdoors in Wisconsin at this time of year.

Chef Jeff made sure the goats and chickens were prepared for the low temps this week with heat lamps and an extra layer of dry bedding.

The dogs don't even want to go out to their playpen for their daily games; they step outside to relieve themselves and almost immediately start doing "lizard legs," standing on three feet with one frozen paw stuck up in the air, then putting that one down and lifting another. They quickly hobble back inside and hop onto the futon. Emma barks at us to come and cover her with an afghan.

It's hard to imagine being in a foreign land on a day like this. Even with a relatively warm coat, how would you fare if you suddenly found yourself in a strange place, unable to speak the language, without any food or water, in frigid temps?

What if you were ill, and in terrible pain?

What would you do?

Boris sat by the side of the road where he was abandoned, and he waited. I happened to see him (who knows how long he'd been there?) and immediately grabbed dog cookies and a leash, threw on a parka, and was out the door to investigate.

Boris had the trusting, patient look of a "dumped" dog, watching for the car that left him to return - because a dog's heart, full of unconditional love, can't imagine that the only master he's ever known won't be coming back.

Boris was a bit wary of me, but being a sweet boy (not to mention exceedingly cold, tired, and hungry), he let me approach him. He cringed and crouched as my hand went up to pet him. He was wearing a collar - one that he'd obviously outgrown ages ago, and without any tags - so I was able to get a leash clipped to it.

I got him up to my dogs' playpen, brought him some food and water, and then brought my dogs out to meet him, one at a time and very quickly, to determine whether they would get along. It was just too cold to leave him in the pen, and the goat barn was not an option with our buck Dexter in the extra section.

Tails wagged as the dogs met through the fence. Boris was friendly. I set up a baby gate in the kitchen doorway, and Boris was brought indoors.

He moved so slowly. All he wanted to do was sleep. When he awoke, he could hardly stand. He looked arthritic, and though his tail wagged, it was obvious he was in a lot of pain. And he had to urinate so frequently...

The following day, Boris was taken to the vet. It was discovered that he has Lyme disease, another tick-borne illness, and a massive UTI. He was prescribed antibiotics, and he received his rabies and other vaccinations. He also got an injection of pain medication. We were told he wasn't aged, but actually just an overgrown puppy!

The day after that, it was obvious that Boris was feeling much better. He had apparently never had toys or chews before, but the other dogs taught him what to do with them. One dog was let into the kitchen with Boris at a time, so that they could establish their relationships in a controlled manner. This will continue for a number of weeks until Boris is neutered and housetrained. So far, Valentine is his best buddy.

We live in a remote area and are not served by our county humane society (in that we cannot take strays there, though we may adopt animals from them). In this area of the state, I'm sad to say that people seem less educated about caring for dogs than other places I've lived. They let them run loose and seem surprised if they get hit by cars. They take them out hunting without proper recall training. They don't spay and neuter. They think it's ok to let them live outside in uninsulated dog houses in sub-zero temperatures. Puppy mills and animal swap meets abound, and even the "wholesome" Amish breed "decorator dogs" indiscriminately, to sell to the "English" from their farms.

Some people are even so uneducated that they think a dog left on the side of a road, in January, with temperatures in the single digits, can fend for itself if there's a farm within sight. They think this is better than taking the unwanted dog to a vet or humane society to be painlessly euthanized. It's cheaper than taking out an ad in the paper to find a new home for it.

But, like a dog who has never been hit by a car so doesn't know the danger until it's too late, a dog doesn't know that there may be food and shelter at a farm. So he waits, and waits, and waits, by the side of the road...

Some people get a puppy on impulse, and then, if the puppy seems unable to learn bladder control, they punish it, not thinking to have their vet run a quick urinalysis to see if there could be a problem (why, that would cost money.) They move the dog outside, and tie him to a dog house, where he spends cold, lonely, boring days and nights. The people don't replace the puppy collar because the growing dog is now out of sight and out of mind. And when the untrained puppy becomes too much of a bother, they...

I don't know. I don't understand. I can't even imagine how someone comes to take that next unspeakable step. I try to have compassion for them, to pity their ignorance or the abuse they themselves must have suffered... but for the life of me, I just can't get inside that mindset. I cannot wrap my mind around that.

All I know is...

I'm glad God knows where we live, and that he helped Boris find us.

He's a damn good dog.

He is NOT disposable.

As long as I can walk, and have money in the bank, and a roof over my head, and it's legal, no dog in need will be turned away from my doorstep.

But if you're thinking of dumping an animal here, can you do us all a favor, and just knock? Bear this in mind - I'm not a normal farmer. Most farmers in this part of the country, upon seeing a strange dog next to their sheep pasture, would get out their gun instead of the dog cookies. So make sure you have the right address, if you're going to dump a dog.

And be damn sure God doesn't know where you live.

13 January 2008

Everything's Bigger Here

Life is just bigger here on the farm.

I did a lot of birdwatching at our old place near Milwaukee. You know, "Oh, look at the pretty cardinal!"

So I was thrilled when Jeff pointed out this nice little birdie in our cottonwood tree:

Here's the closeup. That cute little birdie happens to have a seven-and-one-half foot wingspan:

Snow is bigger here, near the Twin Cities. You need special equipment to snowblow your driveway:

Chores are bigger now, with 20 goats, 10 sheep and two mini-donkeys. Our good friend Dave built these new feeders for us, to make chores easier:

The feeder plans are free from Premier.

This is Asta or Birta (they are identical twins), an Icelandic lamb. She approves of the new feeders:

So does Pippin, our Toggenburg wether:

Actually, Mr. Pip likes to sleep in the new feeders. He and Mr. Merry are getting a bit too big for their britches and are going to find themselves being trained to pull a cart come spring. They're both teenagers now and full of naughtiness! A bit of extra exercise ought to keep them more sedate.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here is the sweater I'm working on for Jeff. Again, it is inspired by Donna Druchunas' new Ethnic Knitting Discoverybook. Despite having all the Elizabeth Zimmermann titles, I'm relying on this book more because of its concise tips.

I'm up to the shoulders now. I'll be steeking the armholes. The pattern is from the book. I was able to improve my two-color knitting tension by flipping the sweater inside-out to work the color bands, thanks to a tip from my (blogless now) friend Pamela.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Puppy teeth seem bigger here at the farm:

Emma was even born with extra teeth, and had to have one removed! Molly is auditioning for "An American Werewolf In London."

Lucky for us, we know they're not serious:

Just big old babies...

And, of course, despite this being a new (old) house, with new pets, some things never change...

10 January 2008

Good Knittin' TV...

I must be the last one to learn about the Jane Austen series that's going to start on PBS. But in case you also haven't heard... there it is.

I've been working on a sweater for Jeff, in the round, using Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mill's Bulky natural yarn. I've been watching Elizabeth Zimmermann DVDs while knitting it, and am learning some great tips. But the book I'm getting the specifics from is Ethnic Knitting Discovery. It is really handy.

I'm up to the armhole steek area now. I did a zigzag pattern on the chest - hope Jeff won't look like Charlie Brown when wearing it. I'm knitting it very densely, as it's meant to be a "barn sweater" and will have to hold up to lots of abuse. Pictures soon... I can't run upstairs to take one now as I've hurt my knee from wearing crappy rubber boots and slipping in the mud we now have from a recent thaw. The doctor thinks it'll heal up well if I wear some decent outdoor boots with ARCH SUPPORT. So, Zappos to the rescue, and they should be here today.

Other than that, I'm starting off the new year with a different medication to try to treat my FMS. It's still an off-label application, but the med "...has been submitted to the FDA for the management of FM,"* and I've heard great things about it - unlike the "other" one which is already approved for use with FMS but which only dulls your neurological system and knocks you out (not an optimum lifestyle for me!)

Jessie, I promise to get the donkey instructions up soon. Does it give you a hint to the answer of your question, "Are donkeys fun?", that I'm too busy trying to keep up with taking care of them to actually answer?

* Fibromyalgia AWARE, December 2007 - March 2008, page 10.