Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How Stella got her groove back....

The first dog I saw when I entered the hoarding house on Friday was a majestic looking collie, quiet as a mouse, you could tell this girl was an old soul.  A dog wise beyond her years.  She was laying in a crate, covered in her own feces and urine, with not even so much as a blanket for her comfort.  The smell in the house was enough to make your eyes water, and the stench of ammonia burned my nose.  I looked in at this girl, she had no food and an inch of dirt/dog fur laying in the bottom of her completely dry water bucket.  She showed no emotion, and made me a little nervous.  I talked to her, and I got nothing.  I asked her if she was okay, and explained that we were there to help her.  I explained that she would be fed and watered soon, and promised her I would find a safe place for her to stay.  There was something about these collies that just touched my core.  So noble, and understanding.  I almost felt as if they were part human.

When we got back to the shelter that night, we divided dogs up.  Aggressive or problem pooches stayed at the shelter, while the rest went to the makeshift kennel.  My collie friend stayed at the shelter because she had gotten into a dog fight.  I knew this girl was stressed.  She had not been fed or watered for several days up to this point, she had to ride in the back of a van with a bunch of other dogs, and she was surrounded by chaos in the kennels that night.  The next morning when collie rescue got there, I told them I would take up to 2 collies home with me to foster.  Sharon decided to give me this girl so we could make sure her temperament was sound and she didn't have any problems.  She didn't.  All of the drama of the situation was just way beneath her.   She deserved to be more than just one dog in a sea of 85.  She knew this about herself.  It was evident in her eyes.

I love feminine names for deserving dogs, and I decided this girl deserved a great name.  She would no longer be known as Dog 62.  While she was in my care I would call her Stella.  A dog as beautiful as her, was way more than a number and deserved a name!  As I came to this realization I looked on the floor in front of Stella's cage I noticed a penny.  It was heads up, and I knew this was a sign.  It was a sign that Stella was going to do amazing things and go amazing places.  Stella, the wise old soul of a collie, was going to get her groove back. 

 This is the beginning of her story and all great stories deserve happy endings.  I for one can't wait to watch Stella's story unfold.  I know that there is some lucky person out there, and unbeknownst to them they are about to be touched by an angel: Stella.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

All I needed....

I have worked my butt off since Friday night when we helped with the hoarding case in Tipp City.  I have hustled to help find rescues for the dogs that were the victims of this situation.  I have combed the internet for rescues, gone through 1400 cell phones minutes in the last 3 days, and have sent more emails in the last 72 hours then I have in my entire life.  Today I had to go back to work, and still all day I texted and returned phones calls and emails to people that were interested in the dogs.  I know this has all been appreciated, and I am saving lives which is really what is important to me.  I have met amazing people, and seen a side of people that I forgot existed.  These 72 hours have been worth everything I have put into them, and I am reminded this every time one more dog is adopted.  Last night a "troll" made some unkind comments about the rescue efforts, and how we weren't doing enough.  Even though I knew the things she said were not true, in my delusional, sleep deprived mind I started to let her comments get to me and it really hurt. 

After I saw this amazing picture and poem that Fur the Love of Dog and Rick Lothes made for me, I am completely and utterly humbled.  Thank you so much for this gift!  It is beautiful and means the world to me.  It is all I needed.....

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Love is not always kind....

I was asked Friday to help with an animal cruelty situation in Tipp City Ohio.  Animal control needed volunteers to assist in the removal and relocation of 85 dogs from a hoarding situation.  The woman's love of animals had taken a tragic turn when she took on way too many dogs.  She "rescued" dogs from various animal shelters and breeders, however got caught up in the self-serving aspect of rescue.  The dreaded: "Oh, this one needs a home.  I will keep it because no one can give it as good of a home as I can!" I hear this from people constantly in rescue, and I hate it!

If you "rescue" and never adopt out any of the animals you take on, continue to take on more animals, and never turn anything away, you are a hoarder.  Call a spade a spade.  It is unfair to keep dogs in cages for their entire life.  It is unfair to let them, live in their own waste.  It is unfair to put them in a situation where they have to fight each other for basic things such as food and water.  I am sure the woman loved these dogs, and I am sure she is as kind and loving as her friends have said she is.  However, I am also sure you can love and abuse an animal, if you "rescue" incorrectly.  This weekend I have seen this very issue in 85 pairs of eyes.  The stress, confusion, and fear on these dog's faces make me sick.  You have to wonder at what point do you look around your fece laden, urine soaked, blood stained house and think: "Wow, I am really doing a great thing for these animals!"  My guess is no mentally stable person ever does this.  

To be quite frank, even if not every dog gets a new home, and euthanasia is eminent for the aggressive and sick, I am okay with that.  Death is more humane then the way these dogs lived.  At least they died with full bellies, warm places to sleep, and in the arms of people who showed them compassion and kindness.  As a hoarder, love means loving something so much that it becomes abusive.  As a rescuer, love means doing the right by the animal, whatever that may be.  Either way, love is not always kind.....    

Thank you and goodnight....

After every storm there is light.  Light to help you pick up, and carry on.  It is this light that drives me forward  when I have been volunteering for 2 days on only a few hours of sleep.  Today this light came to me several different ways.  My life was blessed by many great people today.

1)  Shelter staff:  Thank you for stepping up and doing one of the most difficult jobs in the world.  Thank you for giving so much of your time and effort to help the animals that can not help themselves.  You are wonderful!  THANK YOU!

2)  Volunteers:  Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to help walk, feed, clean, house, and love animals that are confused and scared.  You make a huge difference in their lives!  I was blessed to be able to work with amazing people I have worked with in the past, and this day while long and hard, was easier because by now we know how to work together efficiently.  Big thanks to the new people.  The first time you volunteer to help with a case like this, it can be very overwhelming and heartbreaking.  The new people I worked with today, although they shed a few tears, you did so much today and you are stronger then you will ever know!  I was asked by a newbie today, "How do you do this?"  I must say, the thing that drives me forward is the fact that I can't save them all.  I can't rescue them all.  However, I can make a difference to many of them.  THANK YOU!

3)  Rescues:  Thank you to Tri State Collie Rescue and friends!  You were amazing!  These people were like soldiers.  I called on them, and they came.  Not once, but several times, all day long.  They were kind, efficient, and it was a pleasure to work with them.  Thank you for making a difference in the lives of so many dogs!  The dogs and us would have been in trouble without you!  THANK YOU!

4)  Veterinarians and assistants:  Thank you for taking your time with each and every animal that you met yesterday and today.  You were kind, compassionate and went above and beyond what you had to do.  THANK YOU!

5)  Donors:  You were amazing!  Anything that was asked for was delivered.  We could not rescue with out the support of the public and you really delivered!  I am proud to be part of a community that LOVES their animals.  THANK YOU!

I hope that there is never "a next time" but I am reassured that if I am blessed enough to work with you all, we will do one heck of a job doing what we all do best:  helping the animals!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

When good chickens go bad.....

Over the summer I was in the coop collecting eggs, and two of my hens jumped up on my shoulder.  Being the ever so dedicated blogger that I am, I decided to pull out my iPhone and take a picture of these two hens sitting on me. We look real happy in the picture above, however that all changes in the blink of an eye!  Please note the brown chicken (Ashley) staring at me.  I decide to do a little video just to say hello to my blog followers, and I capture quite the surprise.  I noticed in the seconds leading up to the video that Ashley is staring at my eye, so I start guarding my face just in case she pecks me in the eye.  Last laugh is on me...

My friend Jeffrey begged me to put this video up, and he swears it is pee your pants, snort coffee out of your nose funny.  With the being said, please put your coffee down before watching this video!

Final Results: Chicken Experiment

Perhaps one of the greatest perks about farming is the produce that is harvested after a lot of hard work, sweat and tears.  There are times I get frustrated and overwhelmed with all that I do and take on around here, but come butcher or harvest time all of that disappears.  There is no greater feeling than knowing you have a full freezer, with food that you have personally known and raised since it was a day old.  Several weeks ago we butchered 19 Cornish Rock chickens and 6 Freedom Ranger chickens.  It was quite the adventure this time, but once again we learned a lot and the outcome was the same: a freezer full of chicken!

The obstacles that we overcame/lessons we learned were as follows:

1)  A predator:  We started off with 10 Freedom Rangers, but due to a hawk that took off with 3 and 1 chicken that escaped the coop and met it's demise via Jack Russell Terrier, we ended up with 6.

2)  Miseducation:  This was the first time the Remys had raised meat chickens and I had explained we needed higher protein chick food, however they were miseducated by an employee at our local feed store.  When they went to get the feed for our meat chickens the store was out of that particular kind.  Brent questioned the employee and  she assured him this other type of food was exactly the same.  Wrong!  It lacked 6% of the protein that the 24% feed contained and our chickens looked pathetically small.  We realized the issue one night 2 weeks into the new bag of feed, however that threw us 2 weeks behind on our butcher date.  I once remembered speaking to a farmer who told me she fed 32% catfish pellets to her chickens and they beefed up quickly.  We harnessed this idea and away we rode!  Within those 2 weeks our chickens were back on track and bigger than ever!

3)  Butcher late:  Due to the previously mentioned issue we butchered 2 weeks late, and the feed cost for an additional 2 weeks of sustaining 25 meat birds is quite large!

4)  Rain storm from hell:  We had a drought for most of the summer and our meat chickens were in an open sided pen due to the excessive heat and ease of moving for better grazing.  Then there was the rain storm from hell and several chickens were injured and 1 died from being cold and wet.  Fail!  We fixed the pen up and will attempt this again, but with a few moderations the next time.  Namely, a shelter that resembles a car port that the Remy's purchased which doubles our chicken living space!

5)  We did remember to allow the chickens time to "rest" after they were butchered and left them in the refrigerator for 72 hours prior to freezing.  This worked like a charm, and was definitely why our chicken was tough the last time.  Truthfully, this was all I was worried about this time!  There was nothing more disappointing than feeding, housing, and caring for a bunch of chickens that were tough even in a crock pot!  I was so happy with the results on this go-around!

6)  Lastly, we have decided that we will only be raising Freedom Rangers for our freezer in the future.  The Cornish Rock breed is so dirty and expensive.  They eat and poop so much and are genetically modified to get big quick.  They don't even act like normal chickens past a certain point, where the Freedom Rangers act normal.  They eat half of what the Cornish Rocks eat and they graze and peck around much like normal chickens do.  They do mature slower than the Cornish Rock so be prepared to raise them for 3 weeks longer, however if given grass and the ability to forage you actually end up feeding them less.

Farming is a constant reminder to be humble, and I learn so much by growing my own food.  It is a constant trial and error, however the end result far outweighs any strife that presents itself along the way.  I am continually blessed by what this little piece of earth is able to provide me, and grateful that I get to do it all again tomorrow!

Shared on the following blog hops:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Update: Bluebelle

I went out this morning to feed the chickens and rabbits, and sadly Bluebelle had passed away in her sleep.  I am going to miss that blue egg laying, fluffy cheeked hen.  Blue was always the first chicken to beg for food, or follow us around the yard scratching for bugs.  She was my pick chick last spring, and the prettiest hen we had.

Death is inevitable on a farm, just as it is in life, but there are still those times that death hurts.  Today is one of those days.  All of the chickens have their own personality and special characteristics.  Bluebelle added something to our chicken flock.   She gifted us daily with the most amazing blue eggs and a fearless attitude.  I will yearn for her a bit tonight and miss her for long after......

Monday, January 21, 2013

Your life is what you choose to "churn".....

I am so upset tonight as I sit here blogging.  Someone took something I wrote in an online forum and turned it into something negative and viscous.  Worse yet, they made someone else hurt and upset with this behaviour.  The cheap part is this is someone I have to spend lots of time with and it has to be someone I trust because I rid my life of all of the "trolls" last year I thought.  Never the less I deleted 22 more "friends" tonight and hopefully that will take care of the problem.  I will miss seeing everyone's kids, dogs, etc. but I have no time for any of that drama.  

I don't know who said what, but I do know I don't need or want them around me.  I don't have the time, energy, or emotional resources.  You see I refuse to let someone make me into something I am not.  I will not allow myself to be a victim of their negativity and they will not steal my bliss.  Why?  Because I am in charge of my own happiness, my own destiny and no one is to taking that away from me.  In fact, I will say a prayer for them.  They evidently need all the help they can get!  I started this farm as a way of detaching from the negative people that surrounded me, because I was over feeling like I had to watch my back constantly and I will continue doing what I do.  So, I will pick myself back up tomorrow and move on, 22 "friends" lighter.  

While they are churning drama and bullshit, I will be over here churning my homemade butter....   

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sweet Sustenance

In my last life I never worried much about the weather.  It didn't matter to me if we had a flood or drought.  I bought all of my food from a grocery store and the only livestock I was feeding were a few dogs and cats.  All of your views suddenly change though when your food and the food of your livestock depends on the weather.

Last summer I became obsessed with the weather.  We suffered from a drought for most of the summer and it really affected the corn and hay production.  In fact, there was hardly a second hay cutting period due to the lack of rain.  As I watched my friends in the northern part of the state pay $10.00 a bale for decent mixed hay, I started to get nervous.

I started calling other horse owners and farmers trying to secure hay to get me through the rest of the fall and winter.  I could only compare this game of cat and mouse to the days of Beanie Babies.  Remember those?  We all thought we would strike it rich by collecting those things and we would stand in line for hours to get the newest poly-fiber filled stuffed toy.  I was so stupid then,  I couldn't use those stuffed animals for anything, but hay?  That is needed to sustain the horses and rabbits for life!  Luckily, I was able to secure 90 bales of nice quality grass hay for $3.75 a bale.  Quite the deal for peace of mind and sustenance!

This has been enough to feed the rabbits and horses since late summer, and I am hoping it will be enough to feed them until the first cutting this year.  Tonight we pulled down and stacked the last of the hay for 2012.  36 bales of the sweetest smelling hay I have ever laid hands on.  Peace of mind never smelled so good!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Big Hairy Audacious God Driven Garden

Last night I went to church on my way home from work.  Normally we go to church on Sunday morning, however we were lazy over the weekend and did not wake up in time.  So, I went last night to a video taped service, convinced I would probably get nothing out of it because I was sure that the videotaped service would not be as personal.  Regardless, I went.  There were only 5 of us there, and that included the 2 pastors!  I was put off a bit at first because I didn't know anyone, and with only 5 of us there I felt like I was singing on stage at a karaoke bar sober when we were singing hymns.  I was nervous.

As soon as that video started though, I am fairly sure that the message that would follow could be nothing short of divine intervention.  This week was the 2nd part of a 6 part look at a series called "Dare To Dream".  It is a series that reminds you that nothing is impossible with God, and we are working on a life mission statement.  We are trying to figure out our BHAG.  (Big Hairy Audacious God Purpose)  Well, this was not hard for me at all!  This is something I have been pondering for the last 2 weeks at home already, and I tell you from the first 30 seconds of this sermon, I was hooked!

In the past my garden has been a place that I feel a primal connection with the earth and it's creation.  I have said many times it is where I feel a connection to God and 5 minutes in the garden can humble me like nothing else can.  (I don't even know how to put into words what I am trying to describe, but I think you understand....)  Well, last year was our first big garden season and we grew so much food that often times we had more than we could eat, more than our neighbors could eat, and more than our chickens could eat!  We were so blessed by the amount of food that we grew.

This year the Reluctant Farmer and I wanted to do something different.  In October we were at a local festival and we met some people that were volunteers at a local food bank.  I was talking to the woman, asking her if I could donate my extra fresh eggs, chickens and vegetables, and she was so excited.  She explained that they often give away canned goods and non-perishable items because that is what most people donate.  I talked it over with the Reluctant Farmer and we decided  that we would double if not triple our growing space this year, and donate half of what we produce to the local food bank.  (Also note that the food bank is directly across the road from us.  Coincidence?!  I think not!)  I have been mulling this over for the last several weeks, and just have this great vision that I am supposed to do this.

I have a journal that I write in while at church, and this is what came pouring our of me last night:  "If you were given a talent, a wealth of sorts, from God, what would you do with it?  I'm reminded that my wealth is my garden and I am going to feed my community.  From my backyard...."

I am excited to embark on this adventure!  My goal is to obtain another city lot eventually and expand even more.  I would love to have the lot that is directly across the street from me, but currently I am not in a position to buy it.  Perhaps next year: With God nothing is impossible, right?!

Shared on:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Epic Fail: Ex-Husband bites the dust!

Tonight we went to the horse barn to stack hay, and while we were there I decided I would hop on Mia bareback and go for a little pony ride.  Needless to say Steve (the ex-husband) was trying to tell me how to ride the horse, and after I got off he decided he was going to show me how it should be done.  Epic fail!  

Poor Steve!  
(No worries folks, nothing was harmed in this video.  Well, except Steve's pride...)

Bawk a dub-dub, chicken in the tub.....

You are going to do what to me?!  A bath?!

Today we had unseasonably warm temperatures for January, which was wonderful since I needed to "poop scoop" my yard.  I turned the hens loose for grazing and frolicking while I performed this chore, and everyone was enjoying themselves except my Americauna hen, Bluebelle.  Blue had droopy wings, and just did not feel well.  I checked her over and noticed she had what looked like blood coming from her vent and diarrhea all over her bottom.  I had never given a chicken a bath, however with some tips from the friends on the Facebook page, I decided to try it.

I first filled the bathtub up to the chest level of the hen, with luke warm water.  (I needed to make sure it was high enough to soak the debris off the feathers below the vent.)  I used a very mild Aloe and Oatmeal shampoo for cats to wash her with, figuring cats are fairly sensitive and hoping if it was safe for them it would be safe for a chicken.  (One reader suggested baby shampoo and she used it with great success, but I didn't have any of that.)  I scrubbed her up and got all of the junk off her, and then I refilled the tub and rinsed her well.  From there I put her on a towel in between my legs and dried her with my hair dryer.  This took about 20 minutes.  Then I bedded down a dog crate with towels and left her in the bathroom for several hours just to make sure she was good and dry before returning her to the coop.

This whole process went better than I thought it would, and I must say bathing a chicken was easier than bathing a dog!  I think Bluebelle might have enjoyed having a bath.  She never once flapped her wings to try to get out of the tub or get away from the hair dryer, and she was actually falling asleep towards the end of the drying.

I checked on her bum before returning her to the coop, and it actually looked a lot less irritated already.  I think some of the other hens were pecking her, which is what caused all of the blood and combined with the poop issue, it was just a mess!  I took a stool sample into the vet office to make sure she didn't have a coccidian infection, and she didn't, so I am hoping she will recover quickly.  Fingers crossed!

Shared on the following blogs:

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

WW: My Soul Dog

Sometimes when I look at Chai, he is absolutely so beautiful that he takes my breath away.  This is a picture of him laying on the deck in the fall.  He is by nature one of the quietest dogs I have ever met, and when I took this picture I remember glancing over at him and instantly getting chills by the focus and expression in his eyes.  I love this boy so much.  I rescued his sister (Nautique) from an abusive home, and was able to meet their breeder through this event.  She and I became friends and I purchased Chai a year before his sister died.  Nautique was my soul mate, and I have never met anyone human or animal that understood me the way she did and I am confident I probably never will.  Sometimes when I look into Chai's eyes I see Nautique looking back at me.  The resemblance is uncanny and the devotion is unbounding.  They hold my heart....

(This was supposed to be a Wordless Wednesday post, but some dogs and pictures just deserve to be talked about!)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bit O' Bunny Bartering

Today was a busy day!  The Reluctant Farmer and I woke up early so we could drive 3 french angora rabbits to Indiana, to Teri from Spin Me a Yarn Rabbitry  (http://www.facebook.com/SpinMeAYarnRabbitry?fref=ts).  I started following Teri's Facebook page and contacted her because I was looking for an unrelated buck to add to my group.  She mentioned that she was in the same situation, so when I decided keeping 2 bucks that were siblings or sons of my does, I contacted her to see if she would be interested in them.  We talked and worked out a barter!  

The 3 angora rabbits that she got were all from Wooly Wilma's litter and they are gorgeous, heavy wooled babies.  (Just like their Mama!)  I really held on to them too long with the thought I would breed one of the bucks to Cher, however since her death, all of my rabbits are related which will not work for a breeding program!  Teri now has 2 new bucks and a doe to love, and I am getting a buck from her next litter.  I was so excited that they were going to someone who knows the breed and that will take good care of them.  I was even more excited to meet someone I could talk angoras with since I know no one else.  Can't wait to see what my new buck will look like, and I am glad I have formed a new friendship with someone else who understands my love for these wooly beasts.

These are the things I like the most about farming: bartering and new friends!  I have to laugh about this now, but when I first started this urban farming project, people wanted to know why I was doing this and if I missed my friends.  (Between working 40 hours a week outside the farm and the animal and garden upkeep on the farm, it is like having two full time jobs!)  The truth is I have met more genuine people through farming then I ever would have met before on my own.  The friendships I have now are more dear to me then what I had before, they are deeper.  These are the people that get me and are doing the same things I am.  These are the people that guide me and understand what I do.  I get asked quite frequently if I created this farm so I could escape, and I often have to explain to people that I did this to live healthier, to know where my food comes from, and to make sure the food I was eating was being raised humanely.  Yes, it is an escape, an escape I welcome.  I am blessed to be able to escape to the most amazing place in the city.  My home.  A place where great things are happening: new friends, life, death, growth, exercise, and learning.   I wouldn't trade this life for anything....



Shared on: