Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sun Shines...

The sun is actually shining here in South Carolina today, after several cold and rainy days. I know what we've had is nothing compared to a lot of the rest of the country, but the sun feels really good anyway. Halley, the white cat above, was sunning herself on the porch...until Irving came along, at least. They may look peaceful in the picture, but trust me, her peace will not last.

The goats were peaceful too, lying calmly in the sun. Until I stepped out to take their picture, of course. I always forget that our presence signals treats of some kind, so my goat pictures normally look something like this.

Or this....I didn't manage to catch her tongue darting out to taste the camera, drat it.

As I write this, they're back lying down in the pasture, but will I ever get that picture? Nooooo....

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Duck, Duck...Goose

My husband got a couple of great closeup photos of our Muscovy duck, Corky. I love the green and blue plumage with that bright red beak.

In the picture below you can see the claws on his foot. Pretty impressive, huh? This is one duck I wouldn't want to meet up with in a dark alley.

I wouldn't want to be a female duck around him either. Let's just say that we may get some odd-colored ducklings at some point. Below is a picture of the gang in all their variety. You can see he's bigger than the others, and he doesn't hesitate to take advantage of that.

And the first Canada geese have reappeared! Does that mean spring is near? The goats aren't happy about it. Emma chased the geese away last night, though they were probably just ready to leave anyway.

We've had as many as 18 Canada geese at one time before, last year when the one pair had the goslings. They're beautiful, but leave the pasture a mess...though the goats don't exactly have any room to talk about that...
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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Please Play With Irving...Somebody...Anybody!

Irving the cat has been a playing maniac lately. This morning my husband tried to use the wand toy to play with him, but Irving didn't seem to understand how to play with it, so my husband dropped it and went to get his coffee. A minute later, we heard the sound of the wand toy being dragged through the house after him, then Irving appeared with the toy in his mouth...and Halley stalking him. She wants to play but doesn't quite know how to do it.

Irving dragged the toy to my husband, dropped it, and waited expectantly. Poor's coffee time, and no sane being gets in the way of human coffee time.

Later, Irv.
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Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Mergansers Visit

We woke up this morning to find that a male hooded Merganser duck and two females were visiting the pond. They're beautiful birds. You're probably expecting to see pictures of them, but you're not going to. Why? Because I went down to take pictures of them, and succeeded in chasing them away without getting a single good picture.

So you're going to see landscape pictures instead. I love how different the scenery looks when the light changes. It's overcast today, so everything is muted.

I really like that rust color that the dog fennel turns in the winter. That's the feathery plant around the pond. Someone told us it's called dog fennel, and we can't find anything to say differently so that's what we're calling it.

The pathway below is where the ducks like to hang out.

I like all the white feathers littering the ground. I'm trying to imagine what they're doing that causes the feathers to fly, since I've never seen them doing anything but sitting there. I have kind of a lurid imagination so at least I amuse myself thinking about it.

And yes, I know it's pathetic that I sit around thinking about it.
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Carolina Red Clay + Rain & Goats: A Bad Idea

It's been raining off and on, and the ground is soaked....the red clay ground. We have two beautiful, sweet Boer goats...who like to lie on the ground. Sigh.

I think the red looks kind of cute, but I've noticed the last couple of days that they're starting to also smell....kind of goaty. They've never smelled at all before. We realized that we haven't cleaned their run-in shelter as often because of the rain and cold. Oops. I sense an unpleasant chore coming on for tomorrow.

This morning we were discussing the idea of getting a miniature donkey. We did some research online about them, and they're apparently very easy to care for, and make great pets. We almost had ourselves talked into it, until we read this line: "Remember though, that they are LOUD! So I would at least warn my neighbors."

Somehow I just don't see us going to the neighbors and saying, "Oh, by the way, we're getting a really loud donkey. You don't mind, do you?"
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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Duck Armada

Our duck flock has been acting strangely lately. They keep forming and reforming. We think they're trying to decide whether to stay as one group of eight, or split up into groups. Who knows how ducks decide these things?

I can tell you that a lot of quacking goes into the process. Shelby, the black-and-white possible Muscovy cross duck, is a loud quacker, so we always know when the group is in dispute about something. We have two Muscovies, two white domestic ducks, and four mallards, plus Rusty, the red-headed wild duck who's joined the group. There are five females and three males, which probably accounts for some of the angst. (Rusty's contribution to the gender mix is unknown at this time.)

Shelby and Corky, the two black-and-white Muscovies, should theoretically pair up, and sometimes do, but Corky likes a lot of 'me' time, so Shelby hangs with the group. The two white ducks, Gilligan and Mrs. Howell, appear to be a pair, but prefer to be with the group. The mallards are anyone's guess.

I enjoy watching their group feels like a mini-UN, except that they mostly get along. It's oddly cheering, in its own way.
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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still Life With Irving

Doesn't Irving look dignified? Unfortunately, the picture lies. Right after I took it, he looked down at me, whimpered, and then tried to come to me on the steep, wet slope of the wooden railing leading down the stairs.

I grabbed him just in time to keep him from tumbling 15 feet to the ground, whereupon he immediately started playing with a string hanging from my robe. Then we fought over which chair I got to sit on.

The ironic thing is that I'll probably be sad when he grows up and stops acting like an overgrown kitten.
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Scenes From a Pond

The light over the pond was luminous this morning. It highlit all the golds and reds in the landscape, and treated us to spectacular views in between waves of dark clouds presaging the insistent rain we've seen most of today.

I can't get over the way the light changes the landscape. Outside my window right now, the grass appears a dull buff color under the dark clouds, but this morning, it was a range of vibrant colors.

Even the leafless trees add line and definition to the scene.

Early in the morning, after dawn, the light changed the grass to a deep reddish-orange.

I knew we would love this land in the warmer months, but I wasn't expecting it to be so beautiful in the winter light.
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Claw-Footed Duck Vs. Small White Cat

Aren't birds supposed to be afraid of cats? I guess when you're a huge Muscovy duck with freaking claws on your feet, you can defy the natural order of things.

What you can't see in the picture below as Corky the duck approaches the gate is that there are bins full of cracked corn at the base of the wall between him and Halley, our small white cat.

The lure of the corn is clearly stronger than the fear of our little white predator. She appears to be certain that she's going to eating duck a la Corky soon. Is a duck-cat confrontation next?

Alas, no. Corky sat there and ate corn for about five minutes while Halley loomed over him, then he sauntered away.

Poor little cat can't get no respect.
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Sunday, January 10, 2010

This Isn't Supposed to Happen Here

It was 16 degrees last night, and the pond froze. This is SOUTH CAROLINA. We're not supposed to have frozen ponds.

When we bought the house, my husband asked the owner, who's lived in the area his whole life, if the pond ever froze. He said confidently, "Oh, that could never happen here."

We didn't think it would happen either, because the pond is spring-fed, so always has water moving through it. It didn't occur to us that...duh...the springs would freeze.

That's the first time Irving has seen ice. All around the pond, the small springs feeding it are iced over. Irving put a paw out to walk on it, then thought better of it, and padded all the way around. I'm sorry to admit that I had the camera ready to capture his first experience walking on ice, but it was not to be.

Only about a third of the pond froze, so the ducks still have plenty of space, but the frozen part near the shore was thick enough that I could stand on it (briefly and cautiously).

I love how the ice swirled in the frozen parts, probably because of that moving water.

It's beautiful, but I'm ready for spring.
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Monday, January 4, 2010

It's Not Supposed To Be This Cold Here!

It was 12 degrees here in sunny South Carolina this morning. We're down on the border with Georgia, and it's just not supposed to be this cold here. I know those of you in the north of the country get this all the time, but we're not set up for it down here.

Yesterday morning one of our well water pipes froze. We ran around in a panic, with no idea what to do. My husband finally took a hair dryer to it and got the water started again. We went out to the store to get insulation for it, and came back to find the electricity out. Fortunately, that didn't last for long. I can imagine that people all over this area are suffering from broken water pipes and broken heaters, so we definitely got off lucky.

The goats' water was so frozen this morning that my husband had to take a hammer to it. (We're still looking for a water bucket warmer to keep this from happening. Apparently they're not big sellers in this area.)

Hope everyone out there is staying safe and warm!
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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Great Horse Adventure Ends

We got Gus the horse last March, shortly after we moved into our new country home and a woman we met said she had a horse who would love to live on our property. For years we'd talked about having a place where we could have an old horse and some goats, and now we did, so we gladly accepted him.

We knew absolutely nothing about horses. I bought books and consulted the Internet treasure trove frequently, and we kept Gus alive and healthy.

But it turns out that having a horse is a lot of work, and I wasn't finding the time to learn to ride him, and we really didn't have a good or safe place for me to ride him. So we called his owner last week, and she came and got him this morning. He was thrilled to see her, and he's gone to a good home with all his old horse companions waiting for him.

In the picture above, Gus is pointing with his head at the shed at the bottom of the hill, where I'm supposed to go feed him. In the next picture, he starts toward the shed, figuring that although I'm obviously an idiot, I should be able to get a really pointed hint.

He continues down the hill....

Then he realizes that I'm not following, and stop to give me The Look.

The Look means 'you don't know nothing about taking care of horses, lady.' I've gotten that look a lot since March. I know, Gus, I know.

His owner commented on how great he looked when she picked him up. That's my husband's doing. He's shouldered most of the burden of horse care this last year. He's fed him twice a day, picked a mountain of poop, and worried about him when he's done something we didn't understand, like lie down in the middle of the pasture. And he did it for me, so I could realize a childhood dream of riding. He didn't really want a horse, and he's had health issues that have often made the work difficult, but he never complained, and didn't even let me know he'd be happier with Gus gone until I brought it up. He's a special guy. Thanks, sweetie.

Now we can take trips...and sleep in on the weekend...and let the wounds to the earth from those big horse hooves heal.

But I'm still glad we did it. We stretched ourselves, learned new things, and had the experience of knowing a majestic creature who is profoundly different from us. There's nothing quite like looking out the window and seeing that beautiful animal in your own pasture. I'll remember that forever....but when I imagine it, I'll also see in my mind's eye a steaming pile of poop beside him, and that special glint in his eye that means he deliberately put it someplace where it's hard to get.

Who says horses don't have a sense of humor?...
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Experimenting with Irving

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I'm not actually experimenting with Irving, but with pictures. (You probably guessed that, right?) I learned how to make my pictures bigger on the blog, but now they don't show up on the my blog feed in Facebook, so I'm trying a different method to see if that works.

Doesn't Irving the cat look healthy? And by healthy, of course I mean...fat. Why don't people say I look healthy when my weight goes up? It's just not fair. But he is fat and healthy, and I'm so glad, after all his trials and tribulations when we first got him.

Happy New Year's Day

From Blogger Pictures

The light is gorgeous today. A cold front is apparently moving in, and we have a lot of clouds passing through, so the light is moody. When the clouds break briefly, it's blue sky and this golden light. You can see Gus and the goats enjoying the slightly warmer day, which is good, since my husband tells me there's a Arctic front moving this way. Brrr...

You can just barely see our pond bench on the left. I went down earlier and found it on its side on the pond bank, almost in the pond. Apparently it offended Gus's sensibilities and he pushed it down the bank. I pulled it back up and set it into place. It'll be interesting to see if he lets me keep it there.

Hope you all are having a wonderful New Year's Day after a happy New Year's Eve!

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