Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Wishing everyone a very happy 'turkey day' from your kooky friends at Crosswinds Farm.

"Turkey day? Why isn't it chicken da......oh, wait a minute....."

"They do WHAT with turkeys??"

"I am glad that I'm a chicken." "I'm not taking any chances, I'm outta here!"Have a wonderful and safe holiday!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Close encounter of the worst kind

Here in Eastern Iowa, we finally got a short reprieve from the all-too familiar wet, cold weather that has plagued us this past summer and early fall. Over the last couple of weeks we have had a welcome stretch of unseasonably warm, dry weather. The temperate conditions offered a much needed opportunity to get some outdoor projects completed and to ready the barns for the coming winter months. It was finally dry enough for the neighbors to get their combines out into the fields and get this very late harvest underway. What a very strange year it has been in the weather department!
Unfortunately, as of yesterday, our stint of Indian summer seemed to be drawing to a close as we returned, once again, to the rainy cold weather that we have become accustomed to over the past several months.....I knew it was too good to last!
Some of the flora around our farm is as reluctant as I am to let the nice weather slip away. Granted, they look a bit bedraggled, but I still have potted plants that are blooming...on the 18Th of November...strange indeed.
Of course dandelions are near impossible to kill, but to have a few still happily blooming amongst the fallen leaves in mid-November is quite odd.

My Asparagus is all decked out like a Christmas tree.

With the fall harvest in full swing there are always wayward critters that have been displaced from their homes and end up seeking shelter closer to the farm buildings. We never see a live mouse during the summer....we see lots of tails and maybe a leg or two here and there. Occasionally the barn cats will find it necessary to deposit a mouse or rat carcass in it's entirety somewhere that I will be sure to find it...that is always a pleasant 'good-morning' cats are so thoughtful. This time of year, however, I don't think the barn cats can quite keep up with the influx of illegals that come seeking refuge. I have had a several instances over the last few days where I had the lovely surprise of opening a feed bin to find different members of mousy varmint family scampering about trying to hop their way out of the bin with too-full bellies, only to have their efforts thwarted and instead be scooped up by the waiting barn cats.....

We suspected a similar problem recently with the barn cats' food, it was disappearing at an alarming rate. We keep a large bowl of food out for the cats and I normally fill it once a day. Several mornings when I have gone out to do chores the bowls have been completely empty...not even a crumb - that is not how the cats leave it. I decided that we had better start picking up the food dish at night and only leave it out during daylight until we can identify the culprit.

Last night I didn't get outside until way after dark.....considering it gets dark at, like, 4 o'clock...that probably doesn't give you a point of was 9 o'clock.. I KNOW.. past my bedtime........anywaaay. I went out to the barn and as I flipped on the light something caught my eye in the back corner.

It was a large opossum. I had been buying cat food to feed a giant rat! Of course I told it to wait there until I got my camera....
I am not sure why people always say that these little vermin are shy, every time I have run across one they are in no way intimidated by my presence...or the cats. In fact, this guy was at arms length away and wasn't really making any effort to get away. He just stared at me with those beady little eyes and turned his naked little tail toward me...I think he even asked me to fill up the food dish again!
Sure you're interesting with your fancy little prehensile tail and your little baby pouch-not to mention the whole playing dead routine, but a possum in the barn is unacceptable, you carry a lot of diseases that can endanger the health of my, my little marsupial adversary, the live-trap is coming out tomorrow, there will be some yummy kitty food for you in there.....we'll see who wins this match!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I always feel like somebody's watchin' me.

Have you ever had the feeling that someone, or something, is watching you? You just can't quite to put your finger on it, but something just doesn't seem right? I have that feeling all the time when I am outside doing chores. I don't know what it is, I just can't seem to shake it.
I know that it is silly and there is no logical reason for me to have this anxiety, but whenever I am outside trying to complete my chores, whether I am working on something near the ground.......
..or whether I am working on something up high, it's like I can sense an eerie presence close by.

It's almost like there is something lurking behind every fence post.

As if something is lying in wait, under the cover of a leafy curtain, planning it's attack. Watching my every move.

Weird.......I can't imagine why I am being so ridiculous....I am certain that there is no logical basis for my uneasiness.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good ewes gone bad

Well, I was planning to put the sheep into their breeding groups this coming least that was my plan. Evidently the girls had their own agenda, and my plans were decidedly of no consequence to them.

The girls' evil plotting began last week when I decided to move the smaller rent-a-ram into a pen inside of their barn. I needed to move him because, with breeding season approaching, he was getting pushed around quite a bit by the larger ram. Since I wasn't quite ready to put breeding groups together, the pen in the ewes' barn was the only available spot that would allow him to have other sheep around for company while maintaining a 'safe' distance from the ewe flock. There were two fences between him and the lusty ladies and, after all, this was only going to be for a few days until I was ready to put the breeding groups together. I watched him closely for the first day and he made no attempt to escape and seemed pretty content to see, and smell the girls from a distance so I felt pretty confident that he would be fine in there until he was allowed his conjugal visits. Don't get me wrong, HE behaved like a perfect girls on the other hand.......

The girls could see and smell him as well, and apparently they liked what they saw. Daisy walked endlessly from the front gate - peering in at her intended, baaaing a plaintive baa the whole time- to the back gate to see if there was another way to get to her man. Clearly she was cycling (and not in a Lance Armstrong sort of way). After several hours of listening to her incessant protesting, I could take it no more....into the pen with the boy she went! OK, so there will be a couple of lambs born a few days earlier than I had planned. Daisy and Gilroy spent a lovely evening together and all was quiet least until the next day when Lovey decided to follow Daisy's lead and started the whole pacing/baaing/lustful gazing thing all over again. That was it! Breeding groups were going together immediately!
Whenever I have to move sheep around I am always reminded of the shameful fact that I have never been very good about halter training my sheep, so when I placed the halter on them I literally had to alternate between trying to pull sheep that had flopped on their sides like carcasses and hold onto sheep that were hopping like popcorn on the end of the lead....It's no wonder that people drive slowly past my house and stare.
After I (so gracefully) got the girls to their intended destinations, I put the ram in with the majority of the girls, and moved one of my ewe lambs that I was not planning on breeding into the empty pen inside the barn. She is a bit smaller than the other girls so I was planning on keeping her in the pen to protect her virtue until breeding was over....that was MY plan, but as I mentioned, sometimes my girls have their own ideas.
 Soooo, I am having lunch this afternoon and I look out the window and notice that there seems to be an extra little sheepie in the pasture.....OH CRAP! I am not sure how, but she jumped both fences around the pen and was now cavorting about with the other sheep...and the ram. Fortunately, I don't think she was out there long and he was showing no interest in her as of yet......not that I saw anyway....yeah, right. When did I lose control???

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