Friday, July 31, 2009

Cat Complications

Feeding time in our household was already complicated. The horse and the goats share a pasture, so get fed at the same time.

Well, not exactly at the same time. Gus, the horse, has to eat first. Don't even try to give the goats something unless Gus has gotten his. It's too dangerous for the goats -- he kicks.

So we feed him first, then while he's distracted, we slip the goats their food, and just hope that they finish before he does. He's a slow eater, so we usually get lucky.

Enter one small cat.

She wants to be involved whenever we interact with the animals. We don't understand why, because she never gets anything out of it, but she comes running when she realizes it's feeding time.

She usually gets bored and starts to play. But she has to be nearby. Here's Arlene getting some of her favorite weeds, being watched intently by Halley.

What would we do without animals to amuse us?
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Playing Goats

Now, I promise not to get too carried away with videos, but I did mention that I have one of our two female Boer goats play-fighting, so I'm going to post it.

Watch for the surprise observer at the end...

Return Visitors

Yesterday a lone Canada goose appeared at the pond. This morning, there were 20.

They disappeared with a mournful honk in the early summer, and we weren't sure if they had gone to a neighbor's pond, or left the area altogether.

Now they're back. They're noisy and messy, but surprisingly enjoyable to have around. And this time we have a new young cat who's already shown a tendency to try to bond with other animals.

This should be interesting...

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Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm So, So Sorry

I feel so sorry for you all. I'm afraid that I've learned to take videos with my camera. I'd remind you, though, that no one is forcing you to view them. (Oh, come on, though -- you know you want to. Right?)
Here's my first experiment. It's new cat Halley trying yet again to make friends with the goats.
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Not a great video, but I hope to do better in the future. I actually got a really good one of the goats fighting, but....well, at the end they did something that means I'm going to have to learn to edit video as well as shoot it. This is a family blog, after all.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Vet Call

We took new cat Halley to the vet this afternoon. He says she's probably close to a year old. She's got ear mites, worms, and fleas, but is getting treated for all of it. Everyone came in to look at her pretty markings, and commented on what a sweet girl she is.

When we brought her home, she wasn't feeling well from all the shots, etc, so we brought her in the house, and she decided to sit in the window. I got a cool picture of her and her shadow in the window.

We also brought goat poop with us to get tested for worms. (Who doesn't bring goat poop when they take their cat to the vet?)

They do have the Barber Pole worm, which isn't good news, but we were expecting it. He wants us to deworm them every two weeks for two months. He thinks they have a good chance of making it, since they still seem energetic. It was a big relief that he at least gave us hope.

After we'd been home for a bit, we also found that one of the previous owner's homing pigeons had come back and was sitting on the roof of our guest cottage. He was very confused, since it was a barn last time he was there!

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The Doorman Is Busy

New cat Halley still won't come in or out the cat door on her own.

Well, actually we suspect that she's used it once or twice to get in, since we've found her in the house when neither of us remembers letting her in, but she could have just run in when we weren't looking.

She's perfectly happy to wait for us to push it open for her.

It's kind of embarrassing, really. It's only been a couple of weeks. How did she get us trained so fast? What suckers we are. (But she's soooo cuuute....)
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It's True...

The grass actually IS greener on the other side at our place.

Actually, most of it isn't grass, but very tasty weeds, to a goat at least. I'm always amazed to see one of the goats put her heads through the fence, and then pull it back out with ease, despite the horns. (Well, there was that time Ben the baby goat got his head stuck, but frankly, he was none too bright. Cute as could be, but not bright.)

Since I posted a depressing post about the goats this morning, I thought I'd mention that they do seem to have more energy since they were de-wormed. They're actually playing again, and running. We're hoping that's a good sign. It certainly can't be a bad sign!

I took today off of work for my husband's birthday, and what did I end up doing? Grooming the horse! Here he is toward the end of it. Doesn't he look great? I've read that the purpose of grooming a horse is to transfer all of the dirt and hair from him to you. If that's so, I'm a really good groomer....

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Heartbreak Ahead?

Last week my husband went to the local feed store and ran into a woman who used to raise Boer goats. We have two female Boers, of course, and we had a little billy kid until he died recently. Based on his symptoms, we had already decided that he had died of Barber Pole worm infestation.

The woman told my husband that the other two goats, Emma and Arlene, are likely going to die also. She said that Boer goats can't handle the wet climate in the Southeast because they were bred for the dry climate of South Africa, and that the Barber Pole worm is endemic in the Southeast.

She said that she had a herd of Boer goats, and finally sold off the last four because she couldn't stand to see them die also. She tried everything -- B-vitamin injections, deworming, etc -- and nothing worked. She had tears in her eyes talking about it.

In researching Ben's illness, we had learned of something called the FAMACHA chart. You judge whether your goat is anemic by looking at the inside of the lower eyelid. In healthy goats, it should be bright red. From there it progresses in stages to white, which means your goat is severely anemic. Severely anemic goats apparently tend to die.

According to this test, Arlene and Emma are severely anemic.

We've dewormed them, and are feeding supplements. We're seeing a vet this afternoon for more advice, and we'll do everything we can for the ladies. They've been a delight to have around -- friendly, sweet, personable. Not only that, but they eat our weeds. What more could we ask from a pet?
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Barn Cat Enters the Digital Age

I've written previously about how Halley, our little barn cat, has been lured into the house by my husband. She still prefers an outdoor life, but she comes inside now to eat....and apparently to use the computer. She does that virtually, of course, through my husband. He likes to read the news on the computer in the morning, and she now sits with him for that after she eats.

She's not completely spoiled yet...but she's going to be.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Surprise...and Edible...Visitor

We were walking around the yard today, talking about possibilities. We walked over to a small cement slab where the previous owner had lived in a trailer while building the house. I've been using it for some potted plants that I brought from the other house, but haven't been over there in a while. We haven't decided what to do with that area and the weeds have grown up behind it.

We saw something odd...that little patch of greenish-white peeking out of the weeds.

A watermelon!

It's right where the trailer's front door was, so we're thinking maybe the previous owners ate watermelon there and dropped the seeds. There's only the one larger one, but it looks like there are the beginnings of others.

I didn't get a garden planted this year, so it looks like nature decided to help me out.
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New Cat Works It

When our new cat, Halley, showed up out of the blue, my husband and I agreed that she would be a barn cat, not an indoor cat. We have a 17-year-old house cat, Boot, who doesn't need the stress of a new indoor cat.

It took Halley a long time to even feel comfortable coming up onto the front porch.

My husband started to worry about her, though. She's a very small, delicate-boned cat, and she was outside at night with all the wildlife. So he started luring her into the garage at night with food.

Then one day this showed up in my computer room.

Hmm, our 17-year-old cat is declawed. What could we need a scratching post inside for?

I guess I should have seen this coming...

Yes, that's Halley, getting fed in the house. She comes in every day to eat now. She even uses that scratching post. (How on earth do cats know what they're for?)

Now here's the really funny part. We have a cat door in the door leading out to the garage, because that's where our other cat's kitty litter is. (And Halley is using it, of course.)

All our other cats have known instantly what a cat door is for. Halley knows what it's for too. It's for her to walk up to and stand in front of expectantly...and then for my husband to push open for her so she can get out.

Here she is waiting. My husband wouldn't let me photograph him opening it for her. I think he's afraid they'll take his man card away.

Sweetie, we need to talk...

(Actually, a man with a heart big enough to look out for a little stray cat? That IS my definition of a real man. I'd give him two man cards if it were up to me!)

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

More House Pictures

A few more pictures of the house while I'm thinking of it. You might wonder why I'd include a picture of a bookcase? Well, a while back in our previous house, we got fed up with never being able to make the great room area look right, so we hired an interior decorator. It's not something I ever thought I'd do, but we had so much fun. They were wonderful ladies, and I'll never forget my husband's face when they told him that the couch needed to be moved to 'honor the angle of the fireplace.'

Unfortunately, right after they helped us get the old place looking great, we decided to move, so all that money and time was wasted, but they did show me how to stage a bookcase. Who knew that you don't just fill it up with books? This one houses my little hippo collection that started when my mother brought me a little stone hippo from a trip to Kenya. To my horror, I kept seeing hippos after that and buying them. I have no idea why. There are a lot more little collectible hippos in this world than you'd think.

Next we have my little computer and sitting area. It's supposed to be a dining room, but who would we be kidding? We don't sit at a table and eat.

I stole this rug. Not literally, of course. I was at a rug shop, saw it and fell in love. It's made by the Baluch, a group of nomadic tribes in the Iran/Afghanistan area, and is about 80 years old. I just had to have it, but the dealer said that a good friend of mine had been in the week before and had said she was bringing her husband back to see it. A good person would have waited to talk with her to see if she wanted to buy it.

I'm not a good person.

Sorry, Catherine!

This is the den. I wouldn't have painted those walls that green either, but I love it. (It's just wonderful that the house was already painted when we found it, because I wouldn't have chosen any of these colors and I love them all.) The pictures are ones my husband took of various places we've been.

I found a picture of the kitchen that doesn't make it look too messy. The cabinet doors are all being replaced over the next few weeks. The carpenter company didn't let them dry enough before bringing them into the house, which was still a construction site at that point, and dust got into the finish. Let's just say that trying to get that remedied has been unpleasant for all involved, since the company promptly went into bankruptcy. It should be fixed soon, though.

It's been a long hard road getting to the 'pictures on the walls' stage, and I can't tell you how happy I am to be at the point where I'm not embarrassed to post pictures! The landscapers came today to re-grade and put down grass seed, so we're getting there on the outside as well.
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Inside of the House

A friend asked for some pictures of the inside of the house now that we've almost finished decorating. (There are pictures on the walls now, which is my definition of finishing decorating!)

Here's our living room. The rug is from Turkey; the picture is a framed piece of embroidery done by Palestinian refugees in Syria, who do craftwork to support themselves.

I would never in a million years thought to have painted the walls brown, but I love the warmth it gives the room so I'm glad it came that way.

The fireplace divides the living room from the kitchen and dining area. The rug is also from Turkey, and is one of my favorites. The picture doesn't show the warmth of the colors and the softness of the wool.

The dining area overlooks the pond. I love that rug that Boot the cat is sitting on. It's from a small village in Turkey that doesn't make rugs any more. I was at the rug dealer with a group of people, and when he brought it out, I couldn't believe no one else wanted it. My lucky day!

Below is a view back from the dining area toward the other side of the fireplace and the side of the kitchen. (The kitchen was a mess this morning so I didn't take that picture.)

The floors are the same throughout the house except in the bedrooms. The builder said it's not something he would do again, but we're glad he did it this time. They're from a stand of 100-year-old pine trees down the road from our house. He had them milled locally, and then finished on site. It's definitely not a perfect finish, but we love them.

It's hard to see but on the fireplace above is a stack of books, with a silver-colored pitcher on them. The pitcher came from Muslim pilgrims making their way from the mountainous country of Daghestan down through Syria and Jordan toward Saudi Arabia, heading for the pilgrimage, the Hajj. They stopped in several places along the way to sell things they had brought with them to finance their trip. The pitcher is crudely made, and certainly not worth even the few dollars we paid for it, but it was good to know we helped someone make the trip of a lifetime.

We've loved filling the house with mementos of our travels in that other life we lived. Now that we've settled down, hopefully for a good long while, we can still enjoy our past while we build our future.

I can't say I ever thought the future would hold a horse and goats, but that's the beauty of life -- there's always a surprise ahead!

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Emma Marches On

After her kid, Ben, died, our goat Emma was forlorn for a while. She'd call for him, and then keep calling because he never answered.

I've been away this last week, and my husband tells me that she's gradually snapped out of it. Here's Emma enjoying a carrot.

She's the goat in the foreground below with the brown going all the way down her neck. She still tends to look around, and has trouble settling down to rest, but she seems to have come to terms with it in whatever way animals do.

I can't tell that the goats missed me while I was gone, but Gus the horse apparently did. Every time I go down there since I got back, he's right with me, and wants to nuzzle. Very sweet to get missed by a horse! Dangerous too -- I keep forgetting that sandals are not the footwear of choice when a horse wants to get up close and personal...

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Goodbye, Ben

We lost another animal overnight. I went out to feed the animals this morning, and found Ben, our 5-month-old billy goat, dead beside the pond. We had been treating him for severe parasite infestation. He was very sick, and his death wasn't really a surprise, but still a big loss.

He came to us as a 2-month-old kid with his mother, Emma. They're both Boer goats, intended for meat production, but of course for us they were pets. We read up on goats, and thought we knew what we were doing, but we missed the early signs, and by the time we realized he was really sick, it was too late.

He had a good time while he was with us, I think. He and his aunt, Arlene, played quite a bit, and of course he got to spend his short life with his mother, which is not really usual for domestic goats. (Arlene had a kid who was taken away before we got her.)

He was a sweet boy and liked to be petted. We could see the goat-tosterone building in him sometimes, but he'd always put it aside when he was around us.

His mother is out there calling for him now. She calls, and when he doesn't answer, she calls again, and gets increasingly agitated when there's no response. Then she gets distracted for a moment, but starts it up again.

Poor Emma. Poor Ben.

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