Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Wild America

Every morning when we wake up we never really know what is going to be outside the window.  Just the other day we saw this wild looking group about 10-20 ft from our kitchen window.  We hear them almost every day from over in our neighbors yard as I think they are getting ready to hatch a clutch of eggs.  The male being very protective is very vocal and more than willing to show just how big he is.  Turkeys are ugly yet majestic.  Later that night while we were eating dinner, a turkey hen flew through the yard very gracefully.  Who knew?

We have also been lucky enough to watch a mama deer with her newborn fawn walking through the back pasture twice daily.  The pasture grass is so high that the tiny little fawn has to pop up periodically almost as if coming up for air as it tries to keep up with its mom.  So sweet.

Over 10,000 Total Views of Our Blog

Sometime in the last couple days we reached over 10,000 total page views of the blog.  We couldn't be happier to stay in touch with so many wonderful people all over the world who get to vicariously live on a hobby farm for a little while every time they visit the blog.
We can't thank you enough for your loyalty and for spreading the word by sharing it with your friends.  Please continue to do so and I promise to keep things interesting for you all.
Thank you from the bottom of our collective heart
'Creating our own happiness'
Love always
Eric,Sarah and all the animals of Czar of the Woods Farm

"Do You Own Horses?"

Cop: "Do you own horses?"  Me: "Yeaaaaa, whyyyyyy???"  Cop: "Because they are at your neighbors house, and we are pretty sure that they are yours because I went down to your house and there are no horses anywhere."  Me: "Okay, we'll be right there!"  WHAT!  Sarah and I happened to be out for lunch together when I got this call, not the kind you want to hear.  Having no idea how this happened we got home as fast as we could.  Luckily we were only about 5 minutes away.  Knowing that the horses were okay because we were told they were, a very large fear washed over me as I pictured my over two dozen different species of ornamental grasses comprising 150 + individual plants (I collect them and they are my pride and joy) chewed to nubs by horses that were hungry to eat anything in site.  Luckily this was not the case and they only got to 2.
This happened last thursday and sure enough as we drove past our neighbors house there were our horses, Czar and Divo, grazing away on our neighbors lawn.  Keep in mind they have yet to be on green pasture grass because wewon't be installing the new pasture fence until early in July.  We rushed home to get the leads and then back to the neighbor's house (2 doors north of us).  We briefly spoke with the cop, animal control and our more than understanding neighbor.  We brought treats to entice the horses and as soon as they saw us they walked right over as if nothing had happened, as if to say "what's the big deal, why all the commotion?"  So we then walked them home and put them back in the barn, still not knowing exactly what happened that they got out.  These horses are not jumpers so going over the fence was not an option.  I checked with everyone that could have been over to deal with the horses and no one was.  I am most likely to blame because the only thing I can think of is that I didn't latch the gate properly and out the went.  i'm sure at first it was to simply wander around but once they realized they were free, boy were they ever free! 

Following the hoof print divots and lawn damage in our yard they seemed to graze for a bit and then take off through 2 neighbors' yards (several hundred yards long between point A and B).  I fixed the divots in our yard immediately because I knew it would make me feel better.  Later than night I took a walk down to our neighbor's yard where the horses were found to fix her divots.  Think golf ball divots on a green where you use a tool, in this case a crow bar, to get underneath and bring the earth back up and put it back together.  I was thinking that I would need to fix a few dozen but a dozen lead to several more dozen and then more.   Luckily the ground was soft in this yard making repair easy however I checked out my neighbor's yard that sits between our yard and the previous yard only to find several more divots in need of repair!!!  Walking to each group put more and more in my line of vision and the task seemed never ending.  There were hundreds!  I think I got most of them.  Both neighbors came out and told me not to bother but I couldn't not repair them.  My next door neighbor Bill came out and jokingly said, "I heard we had polo match!" HA!
I'm pretty sure, from the looks of the damage, that our horses met up with 20 other horses and manically ran from place to place without much rhyme or reason:  "hey let's go here, oh wait, what's over there...no let's check that out. This way, no that way!" An hour of fixing these divots after an already long day was not fun but necessary.  The next day from all the up and down bending over I felt like I was run over by a bus.

Luckily events like this are rare.  Just yesterday I stopped to watch the horses eat their evening flakes of hay.  It really is perfection to hear them nicker, watch them interact, smell their heat and take an already perfect summer evening to another level.  To have them around is not something that most people get to experience and it is quite amazing.  In the winter taking care of them can be a grind and pretty much everyone that has a farm wonders why they are doing.  In the summer time those feelings couldn't seem further away.  In the middle of writing this it started to thunder and lightening which meant I had to rush outside to bring the horses in rather than leave them outside for the night.  Those cozy moments where they are totally dependent on me and nightime in the barn are sublime.

Twinkle Twinkle

It's that time of year when the pasture is aglow with one of my favorite creatures in all the world, the firefly, aka lightning bugs.  It is quite breathtaking to walk out back into the darkness only to see the pasture twinkling as though it were full of stars that fell out of the sky or a net of Christmas trees lights set on twinkle.  This is something that I so look forward to showing our children someday as to this day even well into adulthood it is one of those things that truly makes my childlike sense of wonder go wild.

I took these photos about this time last year and while they aren't great I don't know that I could do any better and they really do get the point across!  I love this time of year.  Happy first day of summer/summer solstice/longest day of the year.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Green Pastures

Our back pasture which comprises about half of our 3.5 acres is one of my favorite places.  It is lush, tranquil and reminds me of England's countryside I suppose.  With the amount of rain we had in April and May this year I am not a bit surprised that it is as green as it is or as high.  In places the grass comes up to ones chest.  In the wind it waves.  At night there is a steady carpet of twinkling fireflies that resemble a Christmas tree set on twinkle.  Just the other night Sarah and I sat and watched it for quite a while.  Fireflies to this day mesmerize me and blow my mind.  It is home to birds, insects, snakes, deer (this time of year we are seeing mama's and fawns) and lots of turkeys.  The bees love it as it is full of pollen!!!!  And it is finally dry enough to drill the holes for 100 fence posts (to be done with a rented hydraulic auger).  It is quite magical back there.  Some day I will build our guest house in the southeast corner of the pasture so that guests can stay right amongst this beauty.  This summer Sarah and I plan on setting up our tent to camp right in our own back yard.

View from approx. where the bee hive is looking southwest towards the barn.

And the lush pasture grass that I love so much.  I re-seeded it last fall and it absolutely worked.  Last year the pasture was not in good shape as it had been previously overgrazed.  I shut most of it down last year so there was only a small portion of it for the horses and this TLC really did it a lot of good.  Can't wait to get the fence in and put the horses out there.

Happy Bees!

I am incredibly happy to report that the new bee hive is thriving.  With the amount of pollen and blooming everything around I am not surprised.  Even though I understand the importance of pollen and that without it humans would not exist (no pollen, more importantly if there were no bees there would be no pollination and no food) it is not my friend due to allergies.  To bees however it is happiness.  It is gold (literally and figuratively).
After one month of leaving it alone and not opening it once I added another brood box onto the stack, so it is now 2 high.  When I opened the hive it was doing very well.  Lots of bees making comb, nectar (which will eventually become honey) and more baby bees!  Once they fill both of these boxes the next step is to add on supers where they will make lots of honey.

Here the bees hang out on the inside hive cover after I removed the top cover and gave them a few puffs of smoke to calm them.

This is what the hive looks like with 2 brood boxes on it sans outer cover.

With outer cover...

And here the bees are checking out their newly expanded digs.  The second brood box has been a couple weeks now and it is amazing to me how much air traffic there is to and from the hive.  It is nature at its finest and I could watch it all day.  It's also really cool at dusk just as the sun is setting many bees will hang out on the front porch to cool off a bit.

A Lame Pig!

~ 2 weeks ago our rescued potbellied pig, Morgan came up acutely lame.  Acute in that the day before she was fine and very mobile.  I knew something was wrong when Morgan barely wanted to get up and didn't want to come out of her stall.  I spoke with her veterinarian, Dr. Jean Feldma; an excellent large animal vet that I really like, and she had me start her on an NSAID similar to aspirin called Rimadyl.  We commonly use this at work as well for small animals so I amvery familiar with it.  While I truly believe this med helped with her pain it in no way made her problem go away.  I knew it was time to have Dr. Feldman come out to sedate her and take some x-rays.
Last friday Dr. Feldman stopped out and unlike the last time she came to trim her feet, Morgan did not bolt out of the barn and run like a fat little bullet across the yard.  Rather she laid there and allowed us to easily inject her in the butt with the anesthetic drug.  Within minutes of receiving the injection she was snoring and ready to be radiographed.  We ended up taking some very high quality diagnostic films using Dr. Feldman's mobile digital x-ray unit.  This is a JPEG of the actual x-ray...some image quality is lost in the conversion down to a web ready JPEG, but you get the idea.
It turns out that Morgan has severe arthritis in her left elbow.  It is so bad that it is to the point where we hope that it fuses so that while she may have a limp in her gait it will no longer cause her pain.  We took a shot of the right as well to compare and while that elbow also has arthritis it is no where near the severity of the left. 
We then injected the joint with a steroid and hopes of reducing the inflammation even more.  Lastly we trimmed her feet (the nails) which is next to impossible to do when she is awake.
The injection definitely helped because a few days later Morgan was more willing to come out of the barn to lay in the sun, which is her favorite activity aside from eating.  Yep she takes after her dad.  She even cooled off by venturing into the horse arena and lying in the mud from some rain the day before.  Something she rarely doe despite being a pig! 

So far she still has a limp and doesn't get up as easily but her pain seems less.  We are going to start her on the supplement OsteoBioFlex which Dr. Feldman has said can help with pig joints.  Most likely will re-start the Rimadyl which I stopped while she received the steroid injection.
While her life might be slightly different and she may have a limp forever we hope to keep her pain free for the rest of her life.  We adopted an old pig that needed a home and we knew that stuff like this was a possibility.  But she has a good life here and as long as she has a good quality of life we are happy.  She has been eating all along and that is always a good sign.