Monday, October 05, 2009

Harvest Moon

I had a fabulous dream on the Harvest moon. I asked the spirit of the earth what it wanted from me and it said "continue as you do...nurture the earth, its plants and animals and you will nurture me" I woke in the morning drawn to the woods. In walking I realized I needed my camara for the fog was lifting and leaving its twinkling smile on all the elemnts in the meadow. Flowers looked irredescent and webs from ground spiders were too numerous to count...usually left unnoticed to the casual traveler. Today the webs were pained with droplets of water and the meadow was alive with mystery. I have attached some photos. Enjoy.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Paela's baby is home!

Well the trip home went safe and sound. To our surprise the foal was down sleeping in the trailer. Paela was content in her stall and settled right in. She is now comfortable with us handling the baby but does not like strangers looking.

The foal is a sweet heart and loves attention. He has many magic spots and loves to be scratched. He enjoys being outside and must be pushed back in the stall for quiet time. The foal is an independent guy and Paela chased him all over nickering and keeping an eye on him.

The funniest moment was watching him tease the other ladies with his charm :)

Thursday, July 02, 2009

The Foal Has Arrived

Paela's foal arrived Wednesday Night (July 1) around 10 pm. Hannah, Daniel and I visited Paela and baby this morning and both are doing well. Paela, being a first time mom is protective of her new treasure but warming up to the idea of sharing him. If you pay us a visit, bring a carrot and Paela will warm right up to you :)

Paela and baby come home tomorrow. Stay tuned for more pictures and updates... oh I forgot to mention he has short ears and a heart on his forehead. His legs are feathered and has such a bushy tail.

We are looking for name suggestions...any ideas please share :) Ok, let me stop typing and start down loading pictures :o

Monday, June 22, 2009

Horse Birthing Center

We trailered Paela to Harris Paints on Friday....we miss her so much.

We hope Paela and her foal come home to us soon! Hannah is having Paela withdrawl.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Never a Dull Moment on our Farm!

Are you ready for a good laugh! I hope our story fills you with humor!

We purchased Paela, Hannah's black Welch cross pony in January 2009. After riding her for a week and passing her prepurchase exam with flying colors we brought Paela home. We were told she was an easy keeper...a handful of grain and a couple flakes of hay per day was all she needed.

In April, when Paela started to shed out I noticed her ribs were showing and felt she was too skinny...but she had a belly. The vet was out in April to vaccinate the horses and I asked why she was so skinny yet had such a big belly. For a pony, she gets as much feed and hay as my horses and she is skin and bones. The reply "she just has a hay belly and is having a growth spurt." What causes a hay belly? Not enough exercise; well, we all know that Paela gets too much exercise with as much riding as Hannah does.

Thinking it was worms, I wormed her monthly but the ribs still showed. Paela was always hungry to the point Hannah could no longer ride her on the trails with out Paela pulling the reins out of Hannah's hands to eat twigs, leaves, weeds and grass. She was famished and would eat anything! I figured she was just being a pony.

Some of us joked that she looked pregnant...but no that could not be...I bought her from a reputable trainer.

The vet was out again at the end of May which by now Paela's belly was larger, her ribs were still showing and now she was getting 4 pounds of grain and 4 flakes of hay per day. The vets comment was the same, just a hay belly and a growing spurt. I said to the vet "she sure looks pregnant" - but that is not possible.

Evidence appeared on Thursday, June 4. Hannah came into the house. "Mom, Paela's booby's look different. She has a sack and her teats are huge!" I inspected Paela and sure enough she had a sack. I compared her sack to the other horses and Paelas were definitely enlarged. Mike inspected and he felt they looked the same as the others :0 I guess he did not know what to look for:) Friday I called the vet and the response over the phone was false pregnancy. By now both Hannah and I felt Paela was pregnant. On Sunday I finally decided to email the trainer I purchased Paela from. Her response was "she is not having a false pregnancy. If she is bagged up she is probably pregnant; let me contact the original owner."

Monday June 8 we received our answer. The original owner tried to breed Paela to a Draft style pony called a Gypsy Vaneer in July 2008. The breeder said the stallion did not cover Paela and was not bred. The vet in Michigan also confirmed Paela was not pregnant and Paela cycled before being shipped to Maryland to be trained and sold. There is a 95% chance the stallion was a Gypsy Vaneer. The original owner also had a miniature....ready for this....donkey- jack- that broke into Paela's paddock. Now Paela was terrified of that little thing and could almost step over it. The jack was also very violent toward Paela. There is a slight chance it could come out as a mule with long ears. Both stallions throw color - black and white foals. Either way the foal will be adorable!

Tuesday we got milk from Paela and Thursday the vet confirmed Paela was pregnant. Hannah spent the day fluffing the stall with straw and pampering Paela. She was definite the foal was to arrive that night. The vet said no. If she is bred to the gypsy Vaneer her due dates are June 23-June30th. Mares gestation period is 9 months plus 5 days. Donkeys gestation period is 12 months. Just a note, Dollie foaled last spring 8 days early.

When Hannah first thought Paela was pregnant she wept and cried "Who will I ride, show and who will I jump" - thinking she could not ride Paela for 3 - 4 months. Mike was not happy and retorted 'we need a plan'. Just when you have a plan a different one comes along! Never a dull moment on the farm!

Hannah and all of us including Mike are ecstatic. The vet told Hannah she could gently ride Paela until she delivers and start riding again a week after. We will work with the foal and Paela so that both are comfortable leaving one another for short periods of time...10 to 15 minutes. We are hoping to take Paela to the Queens Anne's County Fair in August. In the mean time, Hannah has been riding Dollie walking and trotting and working the other horses.

We are taking Paela to a foaling facility near us on Friday June 19th to offer any assistance to Paela during delivery if needed. As much as we want to have the foal delivered on our farm, this is Paela's first foal and the stallion is large. It would be devastating to loose Paela or the foal.

A surprise like this happens once in a life time. What a gift! Because there is so much unknown as to when the foal will arrive and what it will be we are having a lottery. The person with the most correct answers will win a free portrait of the foal by Hannah and a private invitation to the foals birthday party at our farm.

I have attached photos of the stallions and Paela below. I hope you have as much fun with this as we are.

We are so blessed!

Declan - Gypsy Vaneer

Jack, the Miniature Donkey

Paela - Mom to be!

Paela's bag on 6/ help you determine how far along she is :)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Horses, Chickens, Rabbits, about Goats!

New Additions to the farm - 2 Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They go by the names of Blue Bell (black and white) and Moon Lilly (apricot color). Why Nigerian Dwarf? They are small and easy to Handle (Does' are 22" at shoulder) which means they are not intimidating to children. The goats will produce a good amount of milk for consumption thus in2010 we are looking forward to homemade yogurt, ice cream, cheese and of course...raw milk :) After much input from our whole family the official herd name is 'Good Iron Goats.'

Hannah had her first goat show over the weekend. It was simple and fun; much easier than showing horses. To prepare the goats we shaved them from head to toe, trimmed their hooves and bathed them (bathing them probably was not necessary for they are clean animals). Blue Bell looked a little funny shaved because her black coat showed her gray skin. Next time we will make certain the clippers are in working order and will shave Blue Bell a week prior to the show. Moon Lilly looks like an angel with her coat shaved.

Teaching the goats to lead has been an arduous process. Blue Bell got the hang of it within two days and Moon Lilly still jumps around, lays down, and screams as you drag her across the ground. I always know when Hannah is leading the goats with all the screaming that goes on. I can't imagine what the neighbors must think. Besides leading, Hannah is determined to teach them to jump over obstacles. Going pretty good so far...and can they jump!

What do the goats eat? anything they can get that nibbler on but really love their milk replacer twice a day from the bottle :) When finished drinking they look like bloated ticks with wagging tails. They nibble hay and grain and love twigs, dried leaves (anything crunchy that sounds interesting when they eat it) and raisins. What a great addition to the farm and wonderful pets.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Prayer for Jerry (April 2008 - April 17, 2009)

Lying in bed, I was watching the shades of the horizon change from orange to purple to blue. It was going to be a warm, sunny spring day and looked forward to playing in the sunshine. The phone rang at 6:30 am. Hmm I thought, what does Daddy want. In answering there was a strange voice on the other end. After the gentleman introduced him self as a neighbor I immediately thought something was wrong...horses on the loose or Honey our dog pestering him as he walked by. He had worse news. He said, "your cat Jerry was hit in the road. I pulled him off into the grass." I hung up the phone in disbelief. We lived almost a half a mile from the road and we have little traffic. Not Hannah's Jerry! Jerry wore a collar with his name tag and I then realized it was would the neighbor have known Jerry's name.

I did not know how to tell Hannah. I woke everyone and marched them down to eat breakfast. It was going to be a long day and wanted at least one full meal in the bellies before I told them the news. I was crying while they were eating and Hannah said "Where's Jerry?"

Hannah stayed home while the boys and I took the golf cart and found Jerry across the street. He was still warm. Jerry had a head injury and hopefully was killed instantly. I wrapped him in a towel and snuggled him.

Jerry is buried in Hannah's garden, at the spot he always laid when the morning sun started to rise over the trees. We planted pink tulips and miniature yellow daffodils around his grave with grape Hyacinth in the front. Spring flowers found on the farm fill a vase at the center marking the spot where a homemade stepping stone will be laid. The grave is sprinkled with Amethyst and rose quarts crystals and flowers. Hannah placed one of her prized Amethyst crystals at the site. "I picked this one because of the big points...Jerry was big. Jerry also looked great in purple" she said. The whole process of preparing the grave, saying prayers and picking flowers helped Hannah and all of us cope with the loss. The boys did not say much but watched intently. At the grave site Hannah placed sticks on the ground that said 'MY FRIEND, MY LOVE, JERRY'

After dinner Hannah and I worked a while longer in the garden. It was time for bed and the reality of it started to sink in. Jerry would not sleep with her tonight at the foot of her bed. She would not feel him on her toes nor have his purring lul her to sleep. All the animals have been affected by Jerry's loss. At the worst time, Crystal has become aloof. She normally sleeps across Hannah's neck and now is sleeping on the floor.

I did not sleep last night but for maybe for 2 was too quite in the house. It was in the quiet of the night that I would hear Jerry and his little bell or the patter of his feet. All night I listened for Jerry but he did not come. It was as if the whole world was mourning. The silence was unbearable so I got up at 3am and made the kids favorite muffins and looked at photos of Jerry.

Dad and Daniel were up at 5:30 preparing to fish the first day of Rockfish season. I was glad Daniel went a long to keep his mind off Jerry. I fed the horses and was uncertain if Hannah would want to go to the horse show we had planned for the day. To my surprise Hannah was up and joined me at the horse barn at 6:30 and did not seem in any condition to attend the show. Jerry was not there that morning to wake her and pump on 'Pumpin' Horse'. Paralized with grief she asked "what should I do, I can't decide if I should go to the show". I made the decision for her to stay home as she said "Mommy, I don't want to be around people today."

I write this blog for two reasons, one is as a memorial for Jerry and the other is to help me process my grief. It is going to be lengthy and sometimes unclear. It is what it is. This week Hannah's school assignment will be to write a story of Jerry to assist in her grieving. There will be many tears shed but I know it will help her deeply.

It is interesting how the children handle their grief differently. Jonathan has not quite grasped the reality of it. He has his kitty Mingo to hug and so is happy. He is aware of Hannah's grief and has been very patient and gentle with her.

Yesterday Daniel wanted to stay busy. he brought us snacks to the garden, picked flowers for Jerry's grave and rode his bike. He kept close tabs on Hannah and I. Daniel who showed little emotion yesterday said to me today while working in the garden "Mom, I really miss Coons (another name for Jerry). He has started showing some anger, even after napping.

Last night I walked Hannah to the place Jerry was killed. We talked about the possible hows, and whys. We have been openly talking about death and about where Jerry, or at least his spirit has gone and maybe why. It was interesting, the hole we dug for Jerry's grave filled partially with water after heavy rains from the day prior. I wanted a bag to keep the water from getting on Jerry, mostly to appease the children. I told Hannah to get a garbage bag and she said "how about one of the bags that biodegrades?" "Great Idea" I responded "for Jerry's body is now in the kind hands of Mother Earth and his spirit is with God." "I hope his spirit comes back to visit" she said...I replied "I hope so too."

So, here is Jerry's story and why he was Hannah's beloved cat..her baby...her prince.


It was Saturday May 27th (still checking the date) Hannah and I decided to go look at some flowers at a local nursery we had heard rave reviews about. Little did we know they also had orphaned and rescue kittens at the location. As we were checking out we were drawn to the cages. Hannah fell in love with the tiger tabby and I the black kitten. I talked with the caregiver of the kittens and found out someone claimed them yesterday. I was somewhat relieved yet disappointed. The two kittens (brothers) were found in a winterized boat at about 2 weeks old. The mother was not found or trapped. The caregiver bottle-fed them and their names were Ben and Jerry. "Well," I said, "If the potential buyers do not come and get them, I will take them both for it would be terrible to separate them." I did not think we would get a call.

Around 1pm the phone rang and the caregiver of the kittens said they could not reach the potential buyers and that we could have the kittens. I was tickled! Hannah and I drove to the SPCA in a horrendous thunderstorm to fill out adoption papers and to the nursery to pick up Ben and Jerry. Jerry was Hannah's Kitten and sat quietly in her lap on the ride home and Ben wiggled in mine while I drove. The boys were delighted and Daddy, well he was a little surprised to say the least but quickly warmed up to their them.

The kittens quickly became part of the family. Hannah and Daniel carried them the barn and to the gardens. As Ben and Jerry got older they followed us everywhere. They loved to romp in the garden, on the porch and hang out at the barn while we fed the horses. An interesting thing about these kittens is they had us constantly laughing. Even daddy noticed the humor and personalities Ben and Jerry beheld. Our home was filled with laughter which filled my heart with joy. The date came to have Ben and Jerry neutered; Hannah and Daniel were so disturbed at leaving them at the SPCA. While dropping them off we came across Mingo, Jonathan's cat...funny how it all works out.

Jerry had many names, all of which described his personality: ' Jerry Berry, Coons Cowns, Jazz Berry, Jazz, The Man, My Prince, Huss, Hubba, and Bubba'. Jerry was such a gentleman, he was Hannah's Prince! His patience persisted even through trying times. Never once did he become cross with Hannah or any of us. He was the most loving cat and set a fine example of patience, humility and unconditional love. Hannah had taught him tricks - to jump, go through tunnels, hoops and to sit. She had a family show planned with her two cats Jerry and Crystal. The surprise ending was going to be for Crystal to stand on Jerry and bow.

If Jerry was not following us to the horse barn, watching Hannah ride in the ring or lounging in the garden while we worked he was sleeping on my bedroom chair in the sunshine or on Hannah's bed on her baby fleece snow suit. Before settling in for sleep on the fleece, he pumped on the stuffed horse which got the term "Pumping Horse'. If you could not find Jerry he was usually on Hannah's pumpin' horse. He also enjoyed pumping the black stuffed dog on Hannah's bed. He enjoyed sleeping in the basement in a particular basket filled with mesh bags or on the wicker chair. He discovered the animal hammock under Jonathan's kitchen chair and looked quite comical tightly curled within. Jerry was very large as you can see from the pictures below and enjoyed sprawling his lanky long body over our wood floors.

Jerry would wake me in the middle of the night to go out side for he did not like using the kitty litter. To wake me he would jump on the bed and walk all over me then finally sit on me until I awoke. He wore a bell and I often heard him coming but waited for is gesture of asking.

In the morning he always greeted Mike or I after showering. He loved the shower and the sound of running water. That is when he showed the most affection, rubbing on your legs and wrapping his tale and legs around you as if giving a hug. He would then jump on the counter while brushing your teeth and share his hugs from that level. He once jumped in the tub with Hannah not realizing its depth.
Jerry was one of the best mousers and rat catchers. We were getting over run with rats last summer at the barn. There is not one now thanks to Ben and Jerry.

He so loved to tantalize dogs and was not intimidated by them. Jerry would puff up his tail and strut after Honey our dog swatting her with his paws. He would let Honey come up to him, and would nuzzle Honey then all the sudden go after her like a bullet. It became a game between the two of them and we were always on the sidelines laughing.

I miss Jerry...I miss listening to the patter of his graceful little pads across our wood floors, or the jingle of is copper bell. I miss his slow methodical gestures, his wake up calls in the middle of the night. It was at 3am on Friday April 17 that he woke me to be let outside. He had a nibble of food and waited at the door. I hesitated before letting him outside. I did not want to let him out and hoped he would stay in. He looked at me, I at him. He pleaded. Out he ran as I opened the door. I never saw him again. He was hit around 6 am.

As I sit here I ask why? Why so soon...he was just one year probably within the week. As I look at his pictures, it seems as if he had grown old with us and we gathered a lifetime of love. I envisioned Jerry being Hannah's prince through her late teens. That was my assumption...I did not ask him. Why Jerry did you have to go?...I guess only God will know.

Thank you Jerry for coming to this family and sharing your love and light. You have gifted this family with so much joy and laughter. We are grateful for having spent the past year with you and gathered a lifetime of love. We are grateful for the example you set of selflessness and unconditional love. Always you will stay in our hearts. Always you will be our beloved Prince. Go in Peace. Go in Joy. Go in Love. GOD BLESS YOU JERRY! Amen.