“What’d I do wrong?” . . . .
Fred, generalissimo of the goose gaggle, is looking downright sorry these days. He has had most of his feathers plucked away and we are still in the grip of winter! Loud honks and squawks from the goose yard led to a recent inspection and it appears the two young males, Ricky and McGill are picking on their father. Poor Fred has a limp from an altercation with a fox (or possibly a bobcat) last autumn that left him nearly crippled, and while he has healed and gets around quite well, he’s not the man he used to be. And he is certainly in no condition to endure continued attacks from Ricky and McGill! What could cause this close-knit little goose family to split apart in savage attacks on each other? And why isn’t Ethel, his partner for life, defending him?
“These geese are ganging up on me!” . . . .
It soon became clear what was going on, and right in the front yard of all places! Fred was mating with Lucy, one of his offspring and my favorite little female that we raised in the house last winter. It appears there has been a divorce and Ethel has sided with the youngsters and has been seen taking a peck at old Fred along with the rest of the gang. There must be a high-priced lawyer under the woodpile! So much for goose fidelity. If this keeps up, old Fred will wear himself out trying to chase Lucy and Esmay and defend himself from Ricky, McGill and Ethel. Not to mention the foxes, bobcats, raccoons, wild dogs, guineas, eagles, owls and other assorted dangerous critters a poor goose has to contend with. He is after all the defender of his little flock and he takes the responsibility quite seriously. He has on several occasions bitten me for no apparent reason, but I now find myself feeling quite sorry for the old reprobate.
Ricky rules! . . . .
This dandy young fellow is the heir apparent to Fred’s “rule of the roost” so to speak. He is not nearly as ornery as his father and has never exhibited aggressive behavior toward us, possibly because we raised him from a hatchling. To keep the peace we should arrange for a goose swap and introduce some new genetics into the mix. Ricky will need a mate and we don’t wish to encourage any more incest, infidelity and ruckus in the barnyard!
How much wood would a woodcutter cut? . . . .
An old cottonwood that had to be brought down finally got split into firewood this winter. This pile represents a lot of hard work for the wood splitter (my husband), as well as the wood hauler (me). All this wood has to be loaded into Beetle, the ancient green Dodge and stacked onto wood pallets next to the shed. My share of the labor has been waiting for repairs to the old Dodge, but it came home from the garage this past week so I am out of excuses. If this was the only pile it would be bad enough. But there are two more!
In another location we are splitting the stumps from several silver leaf poplars that came down in an early autumn snow storm. And not far away is a pile of Ponderosa pine that we split from beetle killed trees in the mountains of Colorado. After helping a neighbor clear the downed trees from his yard, we hauled them home, cut them into two-foot lengths and split them for firewood.
The Chief Fire Tender likes to mix it up in the woodbox and build a fire with a mix of pine, cottonwood and poplar. I haven’t figured out yet how I’m going to stack all of this in the proper proportion so that when we bring in a load, it will have the right mix. I’m absolutely certain he will offer some instructions!
these boots were made for working . . . .
Dad has been gone since 2005, and I cannot part with the last of his old boots (or his old Stetson hats, for that matter, but that’s another story). The black ones with the fancy tops were custom made from the Western Boot Company, Tucson, Arizona. He bought those for about $34.50 and it was a princely sum in the 1930’s when he ordered them. I still have a little catalog published by the boot maker that describes these boots as “classy and stylish tulip and leaf inlaid design with three or more rows stitching. . . fancy wing tip toe and heel as shown, $3.25 extra.” He obviously decided he couldn’t afford the wing tip toe.
The steel caps on the heels of this particular boot got him into a little trouble that brings a smile when we remember the uproar. When I was about 10 Dad left me at home with my older brother while he and Mom made a trip to town. Naturally, a fracas ensued when someone got the bright idea to turn the garden hose on inside the hallway leading into the house. It was a blistering hot day and we chose the obvious way to cool off–a water fight. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) they arrived home in the “heat” of the battle and there was no time to clean up the mess.
Dad came thundering through the screen door and up the hallway in those steel capped boots. When his heels hit the water on the linoleum floor, up flew his feet and down went everything else. Needless to say, two kids who, at that point could not resist screeching with laughter at the sight of Dad on the floor, suddenly realized we were in harms way and took off like two scalded jack rabbits.
As I remember, Dad was so furious with us that he grabbed an old platform rocker that sat in the corner of the living room and pitched it down the hallway. By that time we had not let the screen door hit our behinds as we went through it. Dad had a ferocious temper and he had obviously had a hot time in the old town. We didn’t come home until he had a chance to cool off. By that time Mom had cleaned up our mess and though we got a chilly reception from Dad, he didn’t offer up any additional punishment.
I guess that’s one of the many reasons why I cannot part with Dad’s old boots.
Hans Solo sits alone in a hollowed-out tree . . . .
Our lonely owl woke us at 5:30 a.m. recently, singing his annual mating call. We listened intently, hoping to hear a response but to no avail. Last year he failed to nest and raise a family, although he spent the month of January in the company of what we presumed to be a lady friend and we were able to photograph them on several occasions. We sighted him in the treetops from time to time during late summer and autumn, and once winter set in he perched on a regular basis in a cottonwood tree directly above our office window. We have high hopes he will find a mate and build a nest where we can watch from a distance as he raises his young. Perhaps we need to go online and search for a lonely owl dating site where we can solicit a partner for poor old Hans Solo.
“If you’ll open the gate, I’ll go play!” . . . .
Tilly is eight months old and expresses her personality more each day–sometimes to our delight and sometimes to our dismay. She can be willful, playful, stubborn and capricious. She has also demonstrated intelligence and seems to understand when she really needs to behave and do what we ask of her. Right before Christmas she turned up lame as we brought her into the corral for the night. We kept her confined to the loafing shed/corral for several days to see if she would improve. We also had her hooves trimmed for the first time and she behaved like a champ–but still limped and favored her left foreleg.
“want to horse around?” . . . .
We had tried a dressing on her hoof to treat a possible puncture wound, which is commonly what causes lameness. No definitive results. Next we loaded her in the horse trailer for a drive to town for x-rays. It was our first attempt to trailer-haul her, and she performed like a pro. She was relatively calm at the vet clinic and didn’t spook at the strange sights and sounds. The photos of the joint above her hoof revealed nothing unusual. Her injury is apparently in the soft tissues and is similar to a bad sprain in humans. We don’t know how long it will take to heal, and Tilly has been confined to the corral until we see more improvement. That is hard for her to accept, as she misses her best buddy, Feedlot (Abe) the longhorn steer.
“I’ll just sneak a few licks off Tilly’s salt block” . . . .
When Tilly goes out to run for a couple hours each day, Abe likes to clean up her left over hay and have a lick on her mineral salt block. Then he joins her to roam the pasture and graze for dry winter grasses. Unfortunately, Tilly is now confined until her lameness improves, as she goes wild when she is turned out to run. Poor girl, she hates staying on the inside looking out at Feedlot, and he hangs around waiting on his best buddy to come out to play.