Okay, were going to start off with some… weird? and kinda sad news. I’ve been putting off writing about it, but I am documenting the farm, and this has been a big, frustrating deal on the farm.
Juliet has moved in with the neighbors, and no longer lives on the farm. The good news is, when she was disappearing for days at a time, she wasn’t pinned down by coyotes, or antagonizing an old farm dog, she was camped at the neighbors. The other good news is that, realistically, she’s probably happier over there as she is the absolute center of attention. The bad news is, the way it went down semi-soured my relationship with the neighbors, and honestly? I did my best for that to not happen.
I’ll give you a brief rundown, and then I’ll let it be, because I’m still just a little heated about it and it’s not good for the soul to harp on angry things.
Basically, one day, after Juliet had taken off again, my neighbor called to let me know a little black and white cat was over at their house and asked if she was mine, since “she’s so well taken care of”. She talked for over an hour (which I did not mind at all, if an elder is willing to story tell, you usually learn a thing) about how Juliet looked just like their old cat Hemingway and how they’ve had so many strays dropped on the farm. Side note, this is a topic I think I’ve touched on before, and may eventually dedicate a post too, because abandoned animals are a huge rural problem. Anyways, she casually mentions if I don’t come get Juliet, they were thinking about taking her to the humane society. I told her to please not, and I’d troubleshoot how to entice Juliet home.
I’ll spare you the long, drawn out, two week period where nightly I’d get a call from my neighbor telling me I needed to better take care of my cat because she was over at her house again. I went and physically picked up Juliet several times but shed bolt from the car back to the neighbors as soon as I parked. We started feeding her more and fancier food, lots of scratches, even separated her and her sister, as we thought there was maybe a territory dispute going on.
Friends, I could not for the life of me work out how to keep this outdoor barn cat at home. She could not come in the house, as not only is she pretty dang destructive, my mom and brother are both dangerously allergic to cats. I tried locking her in one of the outbuildings with food and water and you’d think I’d threatened her with death. I was at a total loss.
Meanwhile, my neighbor is calling every night, and getting more and more pointed. Suddenly my “well cared for” cat was being abused because I didn’t feed her whole cream and fresh fish every night, I should be letting her in the house despite the fact that it would almost certainly end in an ER run. I was trying my best to keep up a calm, accommodating tone, but I admittedly was getting frustrated with the whole situation.
And then one night she says this: “well Amanda, I simply find it so inhumane to not feed an animal, so we’ve been feeding her canned fish and cream. You should try to buy the treats we give her, and she loves watching the nightly news with me. If you just tried a little harder, it’s easy to keep this cat around”
That’s right friends, all this time I was competing with canned fish and whole cream served inside and wondering why suddenly her warm barn accommodations with an always full food bowl weren’t enough, after three years. I was set up to lose. I didn’t even say anything in retort, I was shockingly calm for someone who got this information very late on a work night, and then still had to go out, in the driving rain, to pick up Juliet and fruitlessly bring her home, knowing it would change nothing.
I’m now fairly convinced my neighbor fell in love with Juliet and was essentially hoping I’d release her to them. I just wish she’d mentioned this before I spent a ton of time, effort, and funds driving over there every night to pick her up.
The final tally? I miss Juliet terribly, and I worry because it feels weird still to not have her check in every night, but if she’s truly happier over there I won’t stand in the way. I hope they’ve given up on the humane society idea, or that they would at least let me know so I can go re-adopt my own cat. I tried to let my neighbor know of the cat becomes too much to send her back my way, but somehow, she got it in her head i don’t feed my animals and isn’t really speaking to me. Which is doubly annoying because we used to have a little inkling of a neighborhood watch.
The only upside, Cordelia is an absolutely spoiled princess of a barn cat now, two warm beds, no sharing food, prime mouse hunting grounds to herself. Living the dream.
Well, that’s story took many more words to write than I thought it would, and as it turns out, it’s a pretty fresh wound because I’m a little sour about it all over again. But that’s the story of how my neighbor waged minor psychological warfare and ultimately stole my cat. Told you it was weird news.
Anyways, happier topics next time. I feel a lot better now that y’all know. It’s a weird thing, because I could’ve just ignored this event and never written about it and y’all would never have known, but I felt like I had some big news I had to break, like when you have to tell a small child their playdate was cancelled.
In case you were wondering if I take this blog too seriously? Yes, clearly.
Alright you lovely souls, hug your felines close today for me, keep a little dirt under your nails, and say hi to your neighbors if you see them.
Until we chat again my friends!
Y’all Ever Just Shake Your Head At A Situation?
I have a new family member! Little Hazel joined us shortly after the blog went out, she’s a beautiful, healthy little girl born to a healthy proud mama. We are all very pleased. She’s absolutely perfect. Her older sisters and father are over the moon as well, excited to get to know their new person.
The beginning of this week was a little rough, as I have been battling an on again off again cold. It’s very annoying when you feel ill, but not quite ill enough to justify calling out of work or backing out of chores. Especially when you work remotely, it can feel really hard to call out, since I can work from under a blanket and make as much warm broth as is necessary. But such is the time of year, the unsettled weather tends to cause at least a few days of gross feelings and low immunity.
My sweet mama has been decorating the house for fall. She loves getting the house all pretty for the different seasons and holidays. When we were kids, the house was always so magical, especially at Christmas time. There were so many Santas and Jesuses and garlands and bells it was borderline hard to move around, but just about as cozy as you could get. As adults who moved home, we’ve politely asked for a little reining in solely so that we can go to work and move about without waking the dead. My sweet mom, while making leaps and bounds towards recovery, doesn’t always have that 3rd person perspective, so usually at least once I have to gently move a nativity or pumpkin array from the threshold of my door, so I don’t inadvertently kick the baby Jesus.
The coyotes have been very close lately, I’m thinking I’m going to need to spray for them again. I buy wolf urine and occasionally spray key areas around the farm in my best attempt to mark my territory in a spooky way. It’s one of the most nauseating jobs on the farm, but it helps a little. When we first moved in the coyotes were so bold, they would shout insults from the pasture fence when you came out on the porch, so about 20 feet away, and a couple times I was late to my job at the time because I’d have to wait for the pack to mosey on. They don’t fear humans around here much, but at least for now, they seem to fear wolves still.
Which leads me to an exciting turn of events that you know probably nothing about. Our sweet Juliet returned home!
For some context, Juliet is one of our barn cats, she was part of my parents buying the farm, so we joke that she was a very expensive cat, and we got the land for free. Either way she’s a sweetheart, if not a little entitled and needy sometimes. I love her to bits when she’s not intentionally trying to trip me or knock whatever out of my hands. I love her then too, but with more colorful language.
But mid last week she stopped coming to morning roll call, and we got a little concerned, because of the aforementioned coyotes. She’s disappeared before for a few days, it’s no secret she’s got food bowls filled by some of my neighbors too, but I am also aware the nature of barn cats is that you can’t totally keep them safe. Their roaming nature insures it.
But we weren’t ready to start mourning yet, as her sister seemed sure she’d come back, and Cordelia was right, Juliet came back after about three days, and we are quite happy to have her. She’s no worse for wear so we’re working on the assumption she holed up in a neighboring barn or something until the coyotes moved on.
Although admittedly, moved on is a strong phrase.
The neighbors felled a tree a couple days ago. Jury’s still out as to whether it was intentional. They had a tree trimming service out, and apparently the tree was supposed to come out eventually, but it chose its own timing, deciding it wasn’t pleased with the new haircut, I guess. All I know is there was a whole heap of cracking and then a very loud thud when that giant tree hit the ground. It was very old and very tall, an ash I believe. I happened to be out by the arena gate when it fell. I watched the sudden flurry of activity while getting some chores done. (I checked, no injuries, I’m not completely useless in a potentially emergency situation, promise)
Overall it’s just been a pleasantly mundane week. Got a lot of little pre-holiday projects done, since I know once we are entrenched in the season emails get forgotten, updates go unscheduled, and generally things get left unfinished, so I’m trying to prevent some of that this year. Theoretically.
Real talk? Stuff will still get missed. Joys of adulting.
Until we chat again my friends!
Lots of Horsin’ Around
Important update. Baba ghanoush is fun to make and eat. That is all.
No, but seriously, I was a little worried I had stepped well in over my head because I have zero Lebanese cooking experience and limited eggplant cooking knowledge. But it turned out pretty tasty and, if I hadn’t melted several fingerprints off making homemade pita, it would have been really easy.
Also! Our little Ro-Ro had her Gotcha Day! Similar to Nellies’, she got the day off, lots of apples and carrots and pets, and a few hugs. This little girl has taught me so much! From a scared little rider to one that will hop on bareback and bridleless with a sling and some duct tape hold her together, I 100% credit this horse with the confidence I have riding today. We’ve had our rough moments, she likes to run, I tend to fall off, trust has to be reformed, but the patience on this girl and the fun she allows me to have is an absolute gift.
We do continue to have issues with Ro’s back, despite the gotcha day wishes, but I think it comes down to a weak topline. Basically, her back muscles have gotten a little weak due to her and I living out 13-year-old Amanda’s dream summer, riding around bareback and bridleless, chasing sunrises and imaginary villains a la Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Funny though, Marshall Dillon never seemed to have sore horses. In any case, I am totally aware that I created the problem and intend to help Ro feel better. Starting for now with work focused on engaging muscles, less bouncy bareback rides, and some hilariously clumsy horse and owner yoga. No, there will be no pictures haha.
I’m a little worried about saddle fit, but it was fine earlier in the year so I’d like to try to fix the physio issues before I throw money at what could be a temporary fix. I did, in saying that, call in a friend who’s an expert horsewoman, and while she agrees with my plans, she’s also going to bring some tack out in the spring to see if we can find the comfiest possible fit for Ro.
My garden is officially a dirt patch. Shortly after writing my last post, we had an unexpected frost and the little produce still growing in the garden gave up the ghost. I don’t think since I’ve lived here, we’ve had a frost this early, so I must admit I’m a little concerned for what that implies about our upcoming winter.
I told a bit of a fib last post, but I certainly didn’t mean to. I had said that the only tree turning colors was in the pasture and that wasn’t quite correct. After I pressed “post” I stepped out of the front porch and saw a teeny, little scrub tree with the brightest red leaf on it. Doing its absolute best for the fall season. So, technically there’s were two trees turning autumnal colors on the farm.
Now, many of the trees are just starting to show colors at the tips, but I tend to think most of the leaves will fall off before turning colors. The winds have been pretty consistent the last few days.
My selfishly lazy weekend was absolutely lovely! Exactly what I needed. Had some lovely work with Ro, got a few farm chores done, and caught up on some sleep. Exactly what the doctor ordered. It’s funny how you don’t realize you’ve pushed it too far until you get a break and realize you were running on empty. Happy for the respite, indeed my relaxing weekend was a wonderful reset. Of course, it went by too fast but isn’t that the way? Especially this time of year I forget how to slow down, and when I find myself stressing about silly things like cleaning the bathroom, I know it’s time for a break. But, regardless of what’s happening, every day is a good day that starts with dogs’ kisses and ends with horse kisses, I love living on this farm. I’m often reminded that even the worst day at the barn is better than the best day at work. (And that’s saying something, because I like my job!)
All those soft, relaxing vibes came at a good time too, as yours truly woke up to a Nellie Belle with a gash above her eye this morning (don’t worry, no pictures of this either). I’m not really sure what the plan of attack is here, it’s not bugging her a ton as long as we leave the halter off for a few days, and it’s not deep. It looked majorly ugly this morning but even some time in the sun relaxing seems to have made a world of difference. Honestly, you may get more of an update next post, for now I am a walking shrug of indecision on how much I should truly be panicking. Life of a horse owner, I guess.
Well, that’s all for me, for now.
Until we chat again my friends!
Side note, for those that read this far, I wrote most of this on my phone as I haven’t had much time at my desk short of work hours, so you’ll have to please excuse the hinky formatting.
Cats, Cameras, and Canals (oh, my)
It’s getting warm out! Oh my goodness, the flowers are starting to bloom, the animals are shedding winter coats, and it’s been a lot of fun to work on the porch when we can. It has been windy though, we lost a flag this last storm, tattered itself to pieces before we could wrestle the pole down. A telescoping pole, when under tension from the wind, is no longer a telescoping pole.
Joey got his summer haircut, and while he doesn’t look like a poodle anymore, more like a lab, he is a much happier dog, and has been wreaking Joe-sized havoc on the farm. He’s a little miffed, because I had to replace one of his tennis balls (I buy them in bulk now, not even exaggerating). Why did I have to replace it? He had literally torn all the fuzz off of it, and it had developed it’s own level of sentience, it was so gross… Joe is rough on tennis balls.
The girls have had an easier couple of days because I cracked a couple ribs and haven’t been big on the whole twisting and bending thing. The doctor said “No driving and stay out of the saddle”, among other things, but what I heard was “you don’t have to go grocery shopping and no lifting the saddle, bareback rides only”… I think that’s a fair interpretation. Although to be entirely honest, I have been avoiding riding for a couple days, because my real life, adult job requires sitting at a desk for a long time each day and I’m pretty sore by the time I get home.
Since I’ve been taking it easier on chores, I’ve had a little extra time to enjoy the outdoors this week, and I got to take my camera out on a (low key) adventure for the first time in a while. I forget how good nature walks are for the soul. The photos are middling, but the attitude has greatly improved. Funny how that works. I’m always happy when I have camera in hand.
The cats, whom you haven’t yet met, are in some level of trouble this week. Juliet and Cordelia have a tendency to get into places they aren’t welcome, mostly because it’s unsafe for them, and Monday morning I found them in my car. They had found one of my windows about a half-inch rolled down, and decided the best option was to force the window lower and spend the weekend partying in my backseat. They re-organized my tailgate storage (I drive an SUV), knocked several knobs off my dashboard controls, and unfortunately used my car as a litter box. The also stripped out the gearing in that window… so it no longer rolls up. Don’t worry, I have it secured closed until I can get it fixed up.
Luckily, my lovely family helped me scrub the new-found gross out of my car, and I spent too much money on air fresheners to help mitigate the smell. This little old lady heard me telling the sales associate what I was looking for and why, and she handed me a little off-brand air freshener, assuring me it would cover the cat smell. Boy, was she right! My car now smells like pina colada… from about 5 feet away with the windows rolled up. Honestly, still prefer it to the litter box smell so I am a happy camper.
Juliet and Cordelia are an interesting duo. Juliet is a social butterfly, more dog that cat in terms of happily following you around doing chores, drinking from the hose, trying to round up horses. Cordelia pretty much hates everyone unless she’s hungry or bored. Hence why it’s hard to get a decent image of Cordelia. Although it’s just as hard to capture Juliet on film because she wants to hug the camera. They are a comedy duo, and they’ve lived on the farm longer than any of us. We joke that we bought two cats and the farm came with them. Juliet has a brother, who we believe we might have seen, but since we cannot confirm it’s Romeo, we call that cat Black Cat (how original). We joke that Black Cat and the other strays that hang around are Juliet’s friends who stayed too late to drive home. I’d like to say they keep the mice at bay, but since my dad is a massive pushover, it mostly just means I buy cat food for a whole herd of cats. They are fun to watch though, so it’s a fair trade-off.
The canal filled up this week, which was super fun. I happened to come home from work just about 5 minutes before it started to fill. While all the animals and the house are obviously on the well, we use our shares of canal water to water the garden and pastures. The pasture really needs some water, but the irrigation has been an endless source of trouble this year. We will get it worked out soon, but springtime is when you find all the winter worn pieces that needed replacing. It will be really nice to have the irrigation working though, as the grasses need it, the horses love to cool off in it, and I like the added security during fire season of knowing my watering system is up and running.
They drain the canal usually just before the first predicted frosts, unless someone needs to keep it running longer, and they refill the canal with flowing water in April after most of the frost risk is gone. This year we had a couple late frosts, and some farmers who were watering already had some icy mornings chipping away at their frozen systems. It’s definitely a calculated risk to start watering earlier.
Well, that’s mostly it for us on the farm. Been a little slower this week. The plan for next week is to get some real riding done, get the irrigation up and running, burn some of our foliage pile (we lost a lot of limbs in the winds this year), and hopefully install a new gate latch on my arena gate, which I am ecstatic about. It’s been a hard gate to find a latch for, because it’s pretty janky, so fingers crossed that works and I can show you in upcoming posts.
Until we chat again, my friends!