Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicken Check-In

I don't talk about them much, but the four girls are still going strong!  Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn, Edith, and the Pheasant Sisters (Lottie and Dottie) are free-rangin' around the farm. They spend their days picking up dropped grain from the horses as it hits the ground, digging dirt baths in the summer, and always sneaking into the grain room if I turn my back. They sleep in their coop; they are free to come and go 24/7.

Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn in front,  directly behind her is Edith,
and the Pheasant Sisters are the two on the left and in the way back.
Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn is very bold and not afraid of people, although not exactly friendly.

Edith is her sidekick and the broody one...she's more skittish.

The Pheasant Sisters want nothing to do with humans and are very fast runners.  They get panicked easily and squawk up a fury. They are never far apart.

All of them co-exist very peacefully with the dogs and cats. Finch will occasionally try to chase one if it's already running, but they usually just stop and look at her until she veers away.

I was getting 4 eggs a day (I ate a lot of egg salad), but the girls quickly caught on and moved their communal nest. For a while it stayed in the one stall, then the next, under the stairs, behind the hay...but now I can't find it.

I went to look in the coop tonight to see if they started laying back in there (nope) and saw that there were only 3 sleeping chickens. Edith was nowhere to be seen.

I figured she was either brooding on the nest in a mystery location or that something had gotten her. Hoping that it was the first, I grabbed a flashlight and started prowling around checking the likely places. It doesn't help that Edith is juuuuuust the right color combination of grey and brown that she blends in with everything.

I had given up and thought glumly that she had been eaten by something, so I went to close the screen door on the coop...I don't normally shut them in but I figured if a chicken-killer was around that I'd feel better if they were safely inside.

I happened to glance up at the top of the door because I couldn't remember how I had latched it open.  Then I shrieked and leapt backward.

Hello Clarisse...
I never did find the nest.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tanner's New Digs

Blonde Bomber Acres got a little less blonde this past weekend; on Sunday I took Tanner to his new lease home.

When I decided it was time to retire him, I focused most of my energy on Harlan and getting him in shape and ready for MMSAR (and figuring out why he was misbehaving undersaddle). Then I started school and I had even less energy and time for Tanner, which made me feel super guilty. I knew he deserved more and that he was too good of a horse to not be shared with someone else.

While I would have loved to keep him here and have someone come to ride and love on him, I live in the boonies and don't know anyone nearby who would want to do that.  So I posted on Facebook hoping a friend or friend of a friend would be interested. When no one stepped forward, I shrugged my shoulders and figured someone would come along in due course.

And someone did! A woman named Brittany posted an "In Search Of" ad in one of the horsey Facebook groups I'm part of, looking for a beginner safe horse to keep her docile quarter horse company, give occasional pony rides, and take her fiance on trail rides. I sent her a message and told her what I was looking for in regards to Tanner, we talked, and we figured it was a pretty good match.

It turned out to be a perfect match.

Brittany brought her QH, Zip, home for the first time ever on Sunday, about 45 minutes before Tanner and I arrived. Zip had been running around and around during that 45 minutes, but as soon as Tanner got off the trailer Zip became completely calm, like he had just been waiting for Tanner and now that he was here Zip could relax. For his part, Tanner gave everything a calm look-over, and then placidly ate grass while Brittany and I talked.

We then put Tanner in with Zip and backed away, waiting for the squealing and kicking to commence. Only it never did...Tanner found a new patch of grass to eat and Zip followed suit. Tanner would wander to a tastier-looking patch of grass and Zip would follow.  Zip would go look at something in the opposite corner and Tanner would follow.

No squealing, no sniffing each other's butts, nothing.

These two seem to be made for each other. They are both older, mellow, doofy QHs who are pigeon-toed and creaky.

So while I cried on the way there, double- and triple-guessed my decision, and concocted reasons to back out in my head, I really couldn't have found a better situation for Tanner.  It was actually surprisingly easy to leave him there.

He's getting love and attention every day, if I want to go see him he's only a couple of hours away, and when I have more time for him or magically find a significant other who wants to ride, he'll come back home.

But for now, he's in great hands and great company.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Camping, Riding, Old Friends, New Friends, and Massholes

Last weekend the pups, Harlan, and I headed down to Myles Standish State Forest in Massachusetts for a weekend of fun with my SAR friend Tammy and her friend Ardys.

Home sweet home for the weekend!

We went for a lovely 3 mile ride Friday evening with the dogs tagging along. The trails were beautiful and gloriously empty. I was glad I had the dogs with me in the tent that night because was around 45*.

Saturday quickly warmed up though, and the entire park was aflutter with activity. We planned our ride and I tied the dogs with cables to a tree in the shade and told them to stay.

Finch studying the trail map.

We had to ride past a triathlon to get to the trails. The trails were pretty nice but it was really really hot and a lot of the trails were unshaded. We did find a nice pond to splash around in though! And Harlan was a superstar.

At about mile 8 or 9, my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number so ignored it. But it niggled at me so I googled the number and it was Myles Standish State Forest. Shit. I called them back.

"Hi, do you have a pitbull?"

"....yes." Goddammit. I knew the park rules said you can't leave your dogs alone. I should've put them in the horse trailer.

"Your dog escaped and is with a ranger, we'll meet you at your campsite." Did Hobbes escape? That would be weird, but if Finch escaped and was still loose, maybe Hobbes chewed through his collar and bolted too...oh god, Finch could be anywhere!

"Okay, be right there."

"Be right there" turned into another hour as we were still 2-3 miles out. We passed a ranger on the way who said "You going to pick up that little blue eyed dog? She sure is cute." Okay phew, it was just Finch that escaped, and she charmed the rangers so hopefully they won't be too mean to me.

I rode up to my campsite and found a forest ranger sitting on the ground with Finch in his lap and Hobbes on his back getting pettin's. I shamefacedly dismounted and apologized to the ranger.

"Oh it's okay! She chewed right through her harness. But she's been with me since 11:30 [it was 2:30 at this time]...some folks at the triathlon found her and put a harness and leash on her. I happened to walk by and they turned her over to me. We walked through the triathlon for a while to see if anyone recognized her; people kept saying 'I didn't know the forest rangers had a K9 unit!'

'Then I put her in my truck and we drove around all the campsites...she didn't seem to react at anything, so I put her up in my lap and we drove through again, and she went crazy at your campsite. I called headquarters to verify that site C36 had two dogs since I could only see one dog. When they verified, I approached Hobbes...he was wrapped around a tree several times and couldn't reach the water, but he was growling at me and wouldn't come near, so I sat down and played with Finch until Hobbes warmed up to me."

Picture Finch's face photoshopped in.
At this point I'm feeling like a terrible pet owner and person...someone could've picked up Finch and decided they liked her so much that they just took her. Or she could've been hit by a car. And poor Hobbes couldn't reach the water. And I wasted all that time of the ranger's.

But that ranger was so damn nice. He reassured me it was no problem and just gave me a gentle reminder not to leave the dogs alone.

So basically Finch had a Baby's Day Out-style adventure. She got lots of attention and got to ride around in a ranger's truck.

Tammy's mom and aunt came to have dinner with us and then my lovely college roommate Annie came with her boyfriend Greg and mutt Murray to camp out overnight.

After a leisurely breakfast and catching up, we all headed our separate ways. Annie, Greg, and Murray were going hiking, Tammy and Ardys were going home, and I was headed to my friend's barn in Townsend, MA.

Except none of us got very far. I was the first to leave and headed out of the campground only to be foiled by cones across the road. It was apparently day 2 of the triathlon thingy...I got out of the truck and asked the volunteers if the road was closed.


"Uhhh...till when?"

"Probably after 2 o clock."

"This is the only way out..."

"Sorry. You can try turning around and going the wrong way down the one-way road."


I backed up my truck and trailer about half a mile to reach an area I could do a 3-point turn in and went the other way. I passed by the campsite just as Tammy and Ardys were leaving so I told them what was going on. They followed me as we went the wrong way down the road, until we were stopped by another set of cones.

This time there was an angry park employee who proceeded to yell at me for going the wrong way. I (mostly) calmly explained that I had gone the other way and it was blocked off, and they had told me to come this way.

"Well you shouldn't have listened to them! You should NOT have come down the wrong way!"

"Okay, but they told me to..."

"Well you shouldn't have listened! You should've called the park! You will have to back up and turn around again! There is NO WAY you are coming through here!"

He sped off in his truck to presumably yell at the volunteers to let me through and I turned the rig around yet again. Tammy however has a huge 3-horse trailer that wasn't going to be turned around in that small space. She called headquarters who sent an escort for her.

I was already turned around so I followed the d-bag park employee and passed Annie and Greg on the way, who turned around and followed me. The volunteers moved the cones and waved us on...into two-way bike traffic. There were hundreds of bikers, no exaggeration.

It took me an hour to get out of the park. The bike race was occurring on the main road for multiple miles. Sometimes I could go around them, sometimes I had to just go slow behind them to avoid wiping anybody out with my trailer. This did not make the bikers very happy; I got lots of insults hurled at me. I just wanted to leeeeeeave! They hurt my widdle feewings. :(

But I finally got out of the park (after a final "You suck!!!" thrown at me by a passing biker) and headed to my friend Amanda's barn. I connected with Amanda online when she posted her blog link in a Facebook group we were both part of, I stalked it, and realized that Amanda had been the one who had looked at Harlan right before I did. Small world. We became very good friends, and this was our first time meeting "in real life." It was more like a reunion than a meeting though!

I unloaded Harlan (who gave me a look like "Really? It's a million degrees out and I want to go home.") and we went for a short and delightful trail ride. I loaded Harlan back up, and home we went.

Very long story short: I had a nice time with new friends, I got to catch up with Annie and meet her boyfriend, and I got to meet Amanda finally! And a park employee made me mad and some Masshole bikers hurt my feelings. But we're focusing on the positive!

Bonus pics: This is what Harlan did when I went to get him from the pasture Friday to head to Massachusetts.

Can't see him? That's because he ran off and hid behind the trees.

"You can't seeee meeeeee!"