Sunday, August 30, 2009

As the Snake Jumps

We went to look at a piece of land for some friends this weekend, and surprised a cottonmouth as we made our way through the heavily wooded area. It was sunning itself beside a pond, and it was so startled when we unexpectedly came around the bend that it actually jumped. Then it slid hurriedly into the pond, and I got this great picture of it swimming away, with the clouds reflected in the water.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lovely...Just Lovely

We had a cool, misty morning today. When I woke up, I couldn't even see the pond for the mist. I stepped out on the deck later to enjoy the unusually cool weather.

I watched my husband feeding the animals, and savored the peace and quiet of the country.

Then I went to go back inside. I immediately walked full-face into a large spider's web. As I stumbled back, clawing at my face to be free of the web, I stepped barefoot on to a damp hairball my cat had evidently spit up during the night. I'm lucky I didn't go careening off the deck at that point.

Posted by Picasa

I actually remember watching my cat groom himself last night and saying to my husband, "That's going to cause a hairball."


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Is This Horse Really Starving?

I haven't posted any pictures of Gus the horse for a while, so I thought I'd devote today's post to him. The animals are in the lower pasture now, which contains the pond. We alternate them between the two pastures every three weeks or so.

Whenever he thinks the pasture they're in is grazed down, Gus lets us know. He insists on hay, and kicks the bin over when he's done. He hangs his head over the fence and looks longingly at the other pasture, then over at us. He puts on such a fine performance that you can practically feel the pounds melting off of him as he aches with hunger.

Gus is telling us now that the lower pasture is all used up, and it's time to move. There's only one problem. He's lying.

Posted by Picasa

Do horses lie? Well, this one is. Look at the grass around him. There is PLENTY of grass left in that pasture. He just wants variety. Last night, I put him on the lead and took him out of the pasture into the back yard where we have a lot of weeds and some new grass, and let him graze. He ate heartily, then when I put him back into the pasture, he ran over to eat hay as though he was starving.

I had no idea horses were such great actors.

One more week, Gus -- you can make it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Identification, Please?

Anyone know what kind of grasshopper this is?

It's the biggest grasshopped I've ever seen, and I've been looking around online but can't find anything that looks like it.

I hate that.
Posted by Picasa

When Are Red Eyes Good?

I mentioned a while back that we were very worried our two female Boer goats were going to die, after the young male died of parasite infestation and we found out that the females had it too. We knew they were anemic because the 'whites' of their eyes were actually white, when they're supposed to be red, and then the vet confirmed the infestation with a stool sample.

We've been using a strict deworming regimen, giving them minerals and feeding them lots of mineral-rich weeds, but we've been very worried. It's hard not to get attached to them.

Last night, we checked their eyes -- and the membrane is pink! It's not red yet, but it's not stark white like it was before. We still need to get a stool sample checked, but based on the change from white to pink, and their increased energy levels, we think they have a chance.

A goofy face like this deserves a chance, doesn't it?

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Goats

It was a beautiful evening down by the pond tonight. My husband mowed a path around it so we could walk without fear of stepping on the cottonmouth, and the goats followed us as we walked.

Doesn't this look like goat heaven?

It was pretty nice for us too....
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The False Fritillary

We have native passionflower (Maypop) vines down by the pond, and they're the only larval food for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly, so we've been eager to see them. They don't come out until the late summer, so we've just started seeing the caterpillars...

And now we're starting to see the butterflies all over the place. I couldn't get a very good picture because, oddly enough, they won't hold still for me, but the top part of the butterfly is this beautiful bright orange...

...and the bottom side is this cool paper white with silver spots. It looks completely different depending on which side you see.

What I really love about these butterflies, though, is the sense of irony in their name. What's ironic, you ask? “Although it has silver spots like the true fritillaries, the Gulf Fritillary is not closely related to them.”

What?? Why would you name something a Fritillary, when it's not actually a Fritillary? Or even closely related? I imagine it this way:

Scientist 1: "I know, let's call it the Gulf Fritillary. 'Gulf' because it's been seen flying toward the Gulf of Mexico, and 'Fritillary,' because...well, I don't actually know why."

Scientist 2: "Ha ha ha - I know exactly what you mean."

That's scientists for you....

Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 17, 2009

Deceptively Pretty...and Poisonous?

So we took this pretty picture of the pasture tonight. Doesn't it look like a pleasant place to spend time?

See the tall thin tree on this side of the pond? If you squint, you can see Gus the horse grazing to the left of it. Isn't that a peaceful scene? Gus, the goats, and the ducks all spend a lot time in that area between the two trees, probably because of the shade.

We were walking in that area tonight, when my husband noticed....this.

Here, let me blow it up so you can see it better.

Oh. We think it's a cottonmouth. It's thick and stubby compared to the water snakes.

You know, maybe we really should be wearing boots when we're walking through the grass down there looking for Gus's poop piles. What do you think?

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Feeding Goats

I suppose you can tell that I really like goat pictures? We have a lot of fun going down to give the goats their nightly treats. See how they're standing up against the gate? The gate that we have to get through in order to give them their treats? It's always a bit of a balancing act...trying to open and squeeze through the gate without letting the pressure of their weight push it open too far.

We think we could get them back in with a handful of sweet feed (otherwise known as 'goat opium'), but we don't want to put it to the test.

They love carrots, but the real crowd-pleaser is weeds. Only certain kinds of weeks, though -- ragweed is a big winner, for example. When we first got the goats, I was worried that they'd eat all the native plants I wanted to see down around the pond, but they really are very selective about which plants they'll eat.

This plant, for example, we've just identified as wild senna. It's a native plant -- so we read on the Internet -- that the native Americans introduced to the European explorers.

We have several plants of it growing in the pond pasture, and the goats haven't touched it.

The Internet says parts of it are a powerful laxative, and that most grazing animals avoid it.

Always nice to know we have smart goats...
Posted by Picasa

Botanical Gardens

The Columbia Riverbanks botanical garden is only about an hour away so we took a short trip there today. It's a gorgeous place, and I love that they have all the plants labelled so I can figure out what I want (and sometimes what I already have).

This is one of the prettiest zinnias I've ever seen. Zinnias haven't grown well for me in this area, but I'm going to try again.

I've already posted pictures of our own passionflowers but they just astound me with how intricate they are.

This is what I want my yard to look like someday -- wild and free!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Goats Like to Eat

I went down to feed Gus the horse this evening, and forgot to bring the goats' food with me. That didn't go over well.

Arlene inspected me carefully, sure I had food hidden somewhere. She pulled gently at the front of my blouse, apparently suspecting I had secreted food there. (Oddly enough, I hadn't.) Then she checked my pants pockets. No goat food there either.

Fortunately, my husband saw what was happening and came down with food, followed closely by his faithful companion, Halley the cat, who's with him every step of the way during animal care time.

The white blob in the grass above is Halley keeping an eye on Arlene. We're not sure why she needs to keep an eye on the goats, but then I'm sure she doesn't understand a lot of what we do either. (I can just hear her thinking, "Hey, I'm not the one who went into the pasture without goat food!")
Posted by Picasa

Wild Grow the Grapes

We've been watching some wild grapes develop down near the pond. I looked them up on the Internet, and they're muscadine grapes, which are said to have been mentioned in accounts by Spanish explorers in the American southeast in the 1500's.

Wikipedia says that muscadine grapes turn bronze when ripe, but that some wild varieties may stay green.

Hmmm, that's going to complicate knowing when they're ready to eat. Of course, the fact that these grapes are -- technically speaking -- in our neighbor's yard complicates it too. Oh, well.

Meanwhile, here's a passion fruit, hanging from one of the many passionflower vines we have down by the pond. So far the only ripe ones we've seen have been picked apart by birds, which is fine.

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Beauty of the Berry

For the past several months, we've been trying to identify a plant that is growing all over down by the pond. It's ironic that we couldn't figure it out, because it's something we actually purchased a few years ago to plant in our suburban yard: American Beautyberry.

We can tell what it is now because there's no mistaking the beautiful berries it produces. Look at the color.

It's a native plant, and the berries are apparently an important food for birds because they last well into the winter. We had bought it for the other house because we saw it on a trip to Jekyll Island, on the Georgia coast, and just had to have those berries. We waited and waited for the berries to develop, and when they did, they were white. We decided that they must turn white before they turn purple, but they never did. We finally read up and found that we had purchased the 'rare white Beautyberry.'

Rare, schmare -- I wanted purple! Well, now I've got lots of them.

I had to show this picture too. We have pokeweed all over. It's poisonous to animals (and humans), and a landscaper told us that people will know we're Yankees if we don't pull it. Well, I'm pretty sure they already know we're Yankees -- that's a little hard to hide around here -- and the berries are edible for birds. Our animals just ignore it, so we're leaving it.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sleepy Morning

Every morning, rain or shine, weekday or weekend, my husband goes out and feeds the animals, picks up poop, and makes sure they're fine and set up for the day.

For the last week, he's had an assistant. New cat Halley follows him for the entire time. It starts down in the run-in shed, with Gus the horse waiting impatiently for his grain, and Halley standing on the chute wall, watching. Then they walk through the pasture together looking for...well...poop. Halley supervises filling the water buckets, and putting hay in the bins.

This morning she wasn't there. He looked for her, worried, and finally found her.

I guess everyone gets a morning off once in a while.

Posted by Picasa

You Might Also Like

Blog Widget by LinkWithin