Tuesday, September 27, 2011

On Vacation!

I'll be gone a few days starting on Tuesday.  I have gotten ready and will be leaving on a camping/trail ride in Western Kentucky!  I understand this is a wonderful ride with over 100 miles of trails.  The boyfriend and I will be sleeping close by each other, of course he will be outside of the truck and I'll be inside.  This is a trail ride that is put on by one of the horse clubs and one night they will have a Bluegrass Band, one night a steak fry, and an auction (I have put together a wonderful bucket of horsey items that will be very useful for this) and some kind of music show somewhere a few miles away on Friday night if we want to go.  I'd be happy with a campfire and a gooey S'more but this will be fun, too!  I have not been camping in years and years and never on a "real" trail ride.  I am ready.  Jacques is ready.  I will take lots of photos so you can all come along, too!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

National Alpaca Farm Days

Today is National Alpaca Farm Days!  So alpaca farms all over the USA have opened their gates to visitors to learn about these amazing animals.  There is a farm about 10 miles from us, so off we set to explore some more.
Here is the farm we went to:
I had met Sharon, the owner, a few months back and we have gotten friendly.  Here are some photos of her alpacas:

She has a lot of white/cream ones.  And we got to get up close and personal with this little beauty:
Look at those eyes!  I could fall in love.  She had her ears back and was making a little huh huh kind of sound.  We were worried, since they resemble llamas so much, that she was getting ready to spit at us.  I requested Jerry hold very still so I could get a good action shot.  However, turns out she was just worried and they rarely spit at people.
Their fleece is amazing!  We got to see the fleece on the alpacas and then compare the different fleeces from  one animal, as he was a youngster and then his fleece a year later.  They produce about 4-6 lbs of fleece a year. There was some yarn there, Sharon loves to creatively dye the yarn and free form the colors, and this yarn was not only beautiful, we wanted to rub it all over us!  :)  I will definitely be getting some yarn from her in the future.  (Her prices are very good, write her if you are a knitter or crocheter!)  There were some beautiful socks there and some things made in the Andes by the native people there of alpaca wool.
This is one of the farm's elder girls, I believe Sharon said she was 18 years old.  She is still getting around really well but is retired from having babies and just living her life out in peace and quiet and with her herd.  I love this!

And then there was Camille...a lovely baby.  I could have taken this one home.  Here is is with her mother:
"Ma!  Get up!  They have hot dogs here, and cupcakes, too!"
Look at that pretty and elegant face!
Of course, you all know me.  I had to make a picture pie in memory of this wonderful visit:
Camille's ear sort of floated off north during the baking process. But you all get the general idea!
We had just a wonderful time and learned so much about alpacas!

Good Sunday Morning!

Good Sunday Morning! Everyone up and at 'em!  Today's alarm clock is played by Brewster the Rooster, who has been practicing for months and months to get this exactly right. So sit up and listen!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another Sunset brought to you by God

Our sunsets are almost always gorgeous.  I guess you have all figured that out by now.  But tonight's was not only lovely, but prolonged.
First, we noticed it warming up:
Then the rays started to shoot out. This took around ten minutes:

I can't even capture how gorgeous this was with the camera.  They streamed all across the sky.  The valley caught a bit of the late sun and looked so pretty (this is to the east):
The yellow that hits the far side makes the trees look a little bit redder.  We are just starting to see the slightest tinge in the trees that says the Endless Summer is winding down.
Mandy and Rilee ate their dinner, oblivious to the beauty:
The corgis watched us, watching the west sky:

And the neighbor's cows on the far hill where the sun was setting, just grazed on in  the last little bit of sunlight:
I tried this last photo, which was brilliant orange and purple but it was dark enough that the camera could not pick up the purple:
We spent the last few minutes of light with the goats, bringing the bucks in and telling them how cute they all are (and stinky!:).  But that will pass in a couple of months.  The frogs and crickets were singing, it was just a nice temperature and it felt so safe and nice in our little corner of the world.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

More Plants in Kentucky

We have had a bunch of rain over the past couple of weeks, which has rejuvenated our pasture and yard.  This is following at least 6 weeks with little to no rain.  So things have been cropping up all over the pasture:

These are what we called Puffballs up north.  They start out very tiny, as they must but in just a few days are just enormous!  The horses have been having a great time pushing them all around.
And then we have this across the street from us.  I don't know what kind of plant/tree that it is, do you?  I'm not sure how big they get but with those size of leaves, raking would be a breeze!  Let me know if you have any idea at all what this is.  Those leaves are 2 feet or more across.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Paradise Returned

Oh, my, yes.  I found it. Truly!
For paradise, you must have an apple tree.  Check.
For paradise you must have a snake.  Check.  (Saw the South end of a northbound snake.  I went south, myself.)
For paradise you need large bodies of water.  Check.
For paradise, you need sandy beaches.  Check.
For paradise, you need horses.  Check.
For paradise, you need lots of horses. Double Check.
But...something was just plain missing. For a long time now, I have been unable to put my finger on it.  Until yesterday, when I found, growing right here in South Central Kentucky:

Can you believe it?  I couldn't either and have seen several around the area, but this one is just about a mile from my house, so I stopped and got permission to photograph it.
To be truthful, the owner did tell me they bring it in every fall, cut all the leaves off and just pull it up and store it in the basement.  This tree is about 10 feet tall, though, I wonder what they will do when it's 20 feet tall?  :)
When we looked for a place to live, I found that this area is considered sub tropical based on the average temperatures and rainfall.  Now I know I am in paradise!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Kentucky has its own Ice Cream!

Hey, look what I found at the grocery store today:
 Kentucky Delight (brown sugar ice cream, chocolate chunks, nuts, pie crust and caramel)
Is this not the coolest thing?  And sold only in Kentucky, so if you want it, you have to come here to buy it!  I will be trying this very soon, we wanted vanilla for chocolate sundaes tonight and only enough room in the fridge for one container of ice cream.  I feel so....disloyal!  I will be trying this soon and letting you all know how I like it.  I don't see how I cannot like it,it has all the things that I like in it!  I just hope the nuts are pecans, seems kinda UnSouthern to not have pecans in it, after all!  I wonder if this is based somewhat on what they call Derby pie.
Here's a recipe:  http://www.food.com/recipe/kentucky-derby-pie-336902
And a photo:
So we have a special ice cream and a special pie!  I am going to get soooo fat!  :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Wildfires in Texas

Although this blog is about my life and Kentucky in particular, I thought this was something everyone would enjoy reading about.  As you know, Texas is burning up.  There are animals being rescued from the fires and brought to Texas A and M's vet school for help.  Here is a website and a note from someone involved in this.  I do have permission to forward this.  It is a pretty amazing thing and I thought everyone would like to look at this.



My apologies for the updates becoming less frequent. I am including the
fourth year class and Melinda Wood on this e-mail.  Melinda is leading
the effort of forming the student veterinary emergency team chapter.  My
intention is for this update to be a bit different than others I have

First, we set up our new FOB (forward operating base) yesterday and now
have both trailers in operation.  Our team has seen approximately 100
rescued small animals with ~50 requiring fairly extensive work and some
being beyond help.  We have seen far fewer large animals on this
deployment.  Our set up works well but we are learning so much.  We have
recognized that mobility is key and will be working to enhance these
capabilities in the future.  We need to be smaller, leaner and able to
move our operation quickly and effectively.

In addition to the rescued animals, our team has been working with the
search and rescue dogs.  This is a pretty intensive piece of what we are
doing here.  Our morning started out at 4 AM so that we would be ready
to receive the dogs at 5.  I say we, obviously the others are doing all
of the work and I am typing this e-mail.  From my vantage point, it has
been amazing to watch the actions of your colleagues.  Small and large
animal clinicians, techs and students are all pitching in to get the
animals taken care of.  Care of the search and rescue dogs primarily
revolve around fluid therapy and dealing with the wear and tear of
working across rough and hot terrain.  It is pretty impressive to see
how TTF-1 treats these dogs.  They are not tools of the trade, they are
team members and receive the same care and respect as their human
counter-parts.  I really cannot say enough about TTF-1.  They are a
truly impressive group who are as concerned about the animals they find
as the other aspects of their job.  They work in incredibly difficult
conditions but never lose their sympathy for those people and animals
affected by this wildfire.

I think, particularly as this is 9/11, that this update should be a bit
different than the others.  I want to try and provide a sense of what it
is like here.  Imagine a surreal, black landscape with virtually
everything burned.  The area we are working in now was apparently much
hotter than where we were previously.  It is black all the way to the
tree-tops.  Homes, cars, people's belongings and life-time accumulations
are in ashes.  They have lost virtually everything.  Now imagine the
animals, the ones we are seeing come in with singed hair and burns on
their lower limbs.  Can you imagine what they went through, how they
survived?  It is our collective duty as a society and a profession to
take care of their needs.  They are important.  They may be all that a
family has left of their former life. 

Now a bit more about the emergency responders.  I will mention several
of the groups that are on the ground and working through the ashes.  I
have talked a lot about TTF-1 over the years.  Simply watching them work
is an honor.  Their days consist of working in extremely difficult
conditions.  Their protective gear makes their days much hotter and more
difficult but keeps them safe.  They keep pushing because they care.  I
think we all should take a moment to consider just how special these
teams are.  We probably all remember watching the twin towers rescue
efforts on television and were probably all struck with the sense that
these were special people.  They are.  They are around us every day.
One of the very best units is housed right in College Station.  We are
blessed.  There are other fire-fighting and search and rescue groups
here as well.  Imagine a fire truck pulling up and out jumps a
fire-fighter with an injured animal in their hands.  We have been
experiencing this each day.

I also have to mention the animal search and rescue team members.  We
have worked primarily with Austin and Bastrop Animal Control units.
They too work in difficult conditions.  They have sympathy, they care
and they are professionals.  It is an honor for our team to serve them.

Your colleagues, veterinarians, technicians, staff and students,
pitching in to support emergency response efforts.  It has been pretty
special to watch them in action and I struggle to express just how proud
I am of them.  Their days are alternating periods of intensity and
quiet.  They are professional, they do excellent work, and they care.
It is humbling to be among a very special group of professionals.  I
include all of you who have committed your time and expertise to this
effort.  I include each and every veterinarian, technician, staff member
and student who is willing to serve.  Deployed or not, you all are my

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Last September (2010)

I have been going through some photos that I thought I would share with you today.  Now let me show you what the little garden that I just got done off the kitchen entrance looked like "before".  This was in it:
Yep, it was a fountain.  Yep, it worked.  But it was badly in need of a good scraping and a couple of coats of paint.  If the water level got low, it would blow off the little tube that carried the water around and you had to move the heavy part on top to get to it, not just move it but kind of hoist it over sideways and hold the darn heavy thing with one hand and a thigh and try to manipulate the little tube thingie back on with one hand, preferably the right hand.  :)  There were some interesting plants there, the lavendar has been divided and put into a pot by my friend Kathy, some of the bulbs were dug up and put under the new hibiscus plant and the crape myrtle sisters.  Most everything else got pulled out.  Multiple times.  I did have some gladiolus that I left, having totally missed that little clump somehow, so they got to stay and bloom this summer. They are white so will make a nice accent there with the pink roses.
I thought "maybe someone will want it" and listed it on Craigslist.  I had several responses but one looked familiar.  It was Ann, a lady down the road who I had bought eggs from in the past, and had bought 6 little half grown chickens from her, too.  She was thrilled with the idea of getting it, so a few days later she came with some help and a pickup and took it away.  I should go over and see what she has done with it but just haven't thought about it much.
I haven't talked too much about the livestock guardian dogs (LCDs) we have acquired to help protect the goats.  This is Jelly Bean, so named because he is very, very sweet:

He was so tiny and I had him spend the night up here the first night.  It was very difficult to leave him down with the goats.  He was just darling but the goats needed someone to grow up with them so they knew that he was part of the herd.  He is ever so nice with them now.  He wanted to be friends at first and they all knocked him around, terribly.  It hurt my heart but he really had to learn to be with them.  When he hit about 3 or 4 months, he tried to "play" with them which of course, being a dog, meant he used his mouth with the little razor sharp teeth.  So I put him over with the does, thinking they would knock some sense into him.  No biting. Nope, he kept it up.  I was upset because it looked like it wasn't going to work out and I'd lost a couple of months of precious socialization with this pup by acclimating him to the goats and environment instead of dragging him around from place to place to learn to be a people dog.  Finally, I decided that a companion was necessary and so we brought Tootsie Roll home, a four year old girl who had just gotten over having pups.  Her previous name was Adrienne.  We liked Tootsie beter.  She took him in hand and played with him, nurtured him and was his best friend as well as surrogate mother.  Now he is a fine LCD and she is, too.  Good job, guys!
Last is a phenomenon that I noticed several times in the back yard but finallly thought about taking one photo of and then it quit happening:
Four of these dog toys are placed in a straight line.  I'd seen other configurations, too.  The only explanation that I could come up with was that aliens would land at night and rearrange the dog toys to send us some message, perhaps of world disaster (thanks, I would really rather not see it coming!) or perhaps a message of peace (better, ok, I will accept that hypothesis).  It was happening so regularly that I was put in mind of crop circles.  Anyhow, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A New Picture Pie!

I did a beef pie for Eldon, who kindly brush hogged our pastures a couple of weeks ago. I have been waging war on the thistles (which I've pretty much won) and the cockleburrs (which I have been losing).  Here is what the cockleburrs do to the horses' manes and tails:

This was last October, and trust me, they were totally matted the next day.  I had just brushed out Jacques' tail (the bay horse) when it occurred to me to take a photo.  The grey horse is Chrissie, she was a Christmas pony!  She has just come home from her lessons and is just a very good, sensible horse and she grew up quite a bit while she was gone and is just beautiful. 
Anyhow, I did not want to spend two hours every day taking these out, and they go back to grazing or wallowing in the pasture and they get all gunked up again.  
Eldon took care of most of these for me, there are still some very small ones I have to get with a hoe and have been working on it some.
So I baked him one of my pies:
It tasted great (made one for us, too) but don't think these crusts should be frozen!  By the way, it's an appaloosa horse on there.
I will make him a better one next time.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Cumberland Falls, Part Deux

Last Saturday, we took another trip to Cumberland Falls. We yard saled our way across the state with our friend, Beth.
Our first stop was Burkesville, to the south of us.  Where I found several things of note:
Not Trompe L'Oiel, but still a really nice way to advertise the area's highlights.  There was a neat hot green/lime car at a gas station, a real good old boy car.  I mean, this was right up there with the General Lee!  But I missed the shot.  We stopped for pizza roll ups for lunch and then continued and I saw a wonderful Kentucky thing.  It was a car wash put on by some student group.  But this was just not any carwash!  THIS carwash featured a barbeque, too, so you can eat your pork shoulder and watch the kids wash your car.  Sadly, I did get a photo but the darn car mirror was in the way.  But it was still a hoot to see.
Now this was definitely the find of the day:
A wedding dress?  You may wonder why. Well, to find a wedding dress hanging from a cherry picker at a garage sale is surely wonderful luck here in Kentucky.  I mean, this was the only one any of us had ever seen, so it must surely be very special.
We pushed on.  Beth was in the back seat with the map.  At some point Jerry said "look, we are in Tennessee. Are we supposed to be in Tennessee?" "No, we aren't in Tennessee."  Jerry stated that he saw the state sign and turned around to prove it to Beth, and in just a minute or two we were re-entering Kentucky.  We back tracked a few miles and got on the right right. But I saw this on the way:
I am not sure if Strunk is a family name or what exactly it is.  But it struck me as funny enough to take a photo of.
Soon, we entered one of our favorite "towns".  Honey Bee.  Which has its name because when they were trying to decide what the name should be, the new postmaster was being bothered by some stray honeybees:

The Post office was in a very old building, built in 1862.  It was logs and chinked together.  Big porch and very, very cool. The local 4 H has a craft store there where they sell wood work, quilts, crocheted items, photography and other things.  This is a talented bunch of kids!  Next door was this wonderful old cabin, fixed up and still occupied:
This cabin looks every bit as old as the Post Office.
Old well in front of the house:
We also saw a lot of kudzu.  This is a vine that just takes over everything in its way.  I'm sure the plant in Little Shop of Horrors was based on this plant!  It was brought to the US by someone as an exotic plant, then it was developed as a feed plant as cattle and sheep and goats like it. But it's hard to harvest and so they didn't use it for that.  It was also used as a ground cover to help hold the soil in on hills, etc. But alas, it escaped and now it's all over the South.  Anyhow  you can see it down here:

Then we got to the Falls where dogs are supposed to be on leash:
And in light of dogs being on leash, I thought this was even more appropriate:
The falls are beautiful as usual.  A lot of people were wading around and the kids were having a ball in the water.  It was very pleasant in temperature.

Here is a photo of Jerry and I:
And Beth and me:
And Jerry and Beth looking out at the falls:
This is some kind of pretty little flower that was growing around. I don't know what it is:
I love this place!  Beth has lived here a big part of her life and had never been. We were so happy to take her to see it!
Here is a clip of video of the falls: