Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Golden Roosters

These roosters are mutts from my Barred Rock roo and New Hampshire Red Hen. At first they just looked like Barred Rocks, but they've grown really pretty golden feathers on their necks and some throughout their body. The hens were really ugly and I sold them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Maddie's story

Since I'm using this as a kind of online scrapbook, I figured I'd share my Maddie story. She is my soul mate, my best friend, my everything and I am completely in love with her. She is also my dog.

Five years ago, at 21, after going through a traumatic breakup, I moved back in with my parents to try and sort out what was left of my life. I hadn't done much that was positive in the previous year. I dropped out of college, did a lot of drugs and lost myself in a first love that was going nowhere. I was completely empty inside and felt like a horrible person. I needed to do something that was positive and uplifting. I needed to do something good.

As an animal lover and someone who had no faith in people, I knew I wanted to do something animal related. I remembered stumbling on Boxer rescue a few years before and decided to see if they needed volunteers. It turns out that just that week, there had been a puppy mill bust in Northern Kentucky where over 100 dogs were discovered living in filthy, cramped cages. Some were kept in an old van where they had no water or food. The ground was littered with collars and rabies tags, from dogs who were stolen out of their backyards. Dead dogs were also found on the premises. I was told that foster homes were needed, as there was no where for the dogs to stay. I immediately sent in my application and waited impatiently to hear back.

Meanwhile, I went on the website to see what dogs were available. That's when I saw her. Hers was the first photo that came up. She was, in my eyes, beautiful. Her sad eyes seemed to mirror what I felt inside. She was empty, too. I must have spent hours looking at her pictures, dreaming of how I would take care of her and make her better. I felt that by filling her with love, I would also be filling my own heart.

The day finally came when I was to meet the women who ran the rescue. They were at Petsmart with some of the adoptable dogs and I introduced myself and asked who was available to be fostered (I was disappointed to see that my girl wasn't there, but I could understand why they wouldn't bring her out in public). I was answered with, "Well, who do you want?" I immediately asked if "Madge" was available. The woman smiled at me and said, "You're not a crazy car thief, are you?" I shrugged and smiled, "Ummm...no?" She reached out her hand and gave me her car keys, told me what her vehicle looked like and where it was parked and said Madge was out there. I was so thrilled. I couldn't believe that I was actually going to meet her. I had spent so many hours daydreaming that it seemed like she couldn't possibly be real.

I found the car and there she was sitting in the passenger seat. She managed a slow wag of her tail when I opened the door. I took her leash and let her out of the car. She, a dog of approximately 1 1/2 years old, moved like an enfeebled old lady who had only enough life left to keep her heart beating and air moving in and out of her lungs. Her eyes reflected pain and confusion and a deep sadness that could only come from heartbreak and trauma. Her puppies had been taken from her, since she had no milk to nourish them with (they were too sick and eventually all died). Her raw, hairless flesh was covered in sores caused by demodex mange. Her wrinkled, gray skin hung from her body and bunched at her ankles like leg warmers. Her paws were a puffy red that seemed to be the only visible outlet for her anger. To me, she was perfect and lovely.

I returned the woman's keys, bought food and a crate and toys and treats and took her home. For five weeks, I nursed her. I gave her tea tree oil baths every other day and then dabbed her skin with Safflower oil. She received daily doses of Ivermectin for the mange. I slowly increased her food intake, so as not to shock her ravished system with the nutrition that would save her. She moved like a tortoise; each slow and painful step using up precious energy. I spent most of my time sitting with her on her dog bed. She would crawl slowly onto my lap. Even though she couldn't comfortably fit her whole body on me, this is where she wanted to be. We were one in the same; aching, soulless creatures, clinging to life for what it was worth. I didn't see her greasy, scabby, infected skin and she didn't see my past mistakes. We slowly healed each other and came out with two shiny new souls, sparkling with love, though still scarred.

Watching Maddie heal, was like watching her age in reverse. She went from being a feeble old lady to being a goofy, playful and athletic dog. Her coat grew back a beautiful brindle...it's a miracle that it grew back at all. I was sure that she would be permanently scarred.

So, with time, we came to a point where things must move on. I made the decision to go to dog grooming school. And, because the condition of being able to foster in my mother's house was that I not adopt the dog - no matter how in love; I watched as Maddie's new family drove away, with her looking back at me through the open window of their mini van. I did not cry. I just accepted what was inevitable. Things move on.

Maddie had different feelings, however. She, who had been a well behaved lady in my mother's home, became something entirely different with her new family. She escaped from her kennel when left alone, kept the family up all night (until they finally let her sleep in the little girl's room), pooped daily on the family's heirloom oriental rug in the dining room and ran away only to be picked up later that day by animal control. They were a great family, but Maddie was not going to make things easy on them, so they made the difficult decision to give her back.

At this point, I was a few months into dog grooming school. Once I graduated, I would be able to have a dog. After speaking with the rescue, a wonderful volunteer agreed to foster Maddie until I graduated. Maddie was equally as naughty at her house and finally my mother said, "Oh, alright, you can keep her here." I brought Maddie home and she's never been a problem since. (As I type this, I just heard the crinkle of the treat bag on the top of the kennel. Maddie dropped it as soon as she saw me come through the doorway with that "la la la...How'd that get there?" look).

I truly believe that she was just fighting her way back to me. She wanted no one else and there will be no other for me. When I look at her, I see a deep, soulful creature, who is wise and knowing. She's one of a kind and I cherish every day that I have with her, though I know our days are numbered. One day, Maddie will leave this world and I can't imagine how I will go on without her. It is a cruel fact of nature that dogs live such short lives, but maybe that's why they give us so much while they are here.

*Update* check out: "I'm stunned"

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today was another warm February day. I worked most of the day but still had a few hours of daylight left to spend outside in the barn. The Rolle Patol have gotten quite good at coming in when the sun starts going down. I prop open the front door and wait. Within a few minutes I hear their little peep peeps as they come marching through the living room, down the hall to the den where their box is. These little chickens are just too cute. WHY didn't I discover chickens sooner!?

just to show how warm it's been:

Bees are out in full force and for some reason this one kept landing on my violin. I wonder if it smelled the rosin?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Momma Maddie, Precious and The Rolle Patrol

Today was such a change from the last few weeks. It was so sunny and warm, I opened up all the windows and grabbed up the chicks (salmon faverolles and a silky) and threw them outside. They spent the whole day in the flower beds out front - with momma Maddie to chick sit, of course. I could tell you all about it, but pictures are just so much better! As usual, the rest can be seen here.

The Rolle Patrol

Maddie's Little Pez Dispenser

I'm in love with this beard. I can't wait until the roos are all grown. I just love my Faverolles!

"I saw this on Karate Kid."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I Have Power!

It's been eight days of shivering. Eight days of always seeing my breath. Eight days of constantly boiling water just so that I have some way of thawing out my hands (and chicks). Eight days of breaking up ice buckets.

The first five days without power was kind of an adventure. Sort of like camping or going back to the turn of the century with a good book. I drank lots of tea and hot chocolate and made a big batch of beans and corn cakes on the griddle (thank god for gas stoves). Me and the dogs got under five comforters and that was plenty warm for me. I don't even have a working fireplace, so it got a little chilly. I had week old chicks upstairs that are totally dependent on the heat lamp, so I ended up filling several tupperware containers with boiling water and kept changing it out throughout the day. They were grateful for that bit of extra warmth and huddled around it like vagrants by a tin can fire. The worst part of it all was not being able to take a decent bath. My face is all broken out from having greasy hair. I did, on a couple of the warmer days, take a whore's bath (I just love that term) with hot water I heated on the stove. I'm actually glad that I didn't have internet for a week. I read LOTS of books and played violin when my hands weren't too numb.

I took some pictures, but my 5 year old camera battery isn't holding a charge like it used to. I had been meaning to order a new one, but didn't get around to it before the ice storm. So, it died on me after about 30 minutes. I'm kind of bummed about that. Ice just makes everything look so much cooler. After it snowed on the already iced landscape, everything had this eerie Tim Burton-esque appearance. Trees looked like they had been plucked out of the ground and replanted upside down with branches touching the ground instead of the sky. Thursday the river flooded the road a bit and in the morning all the steam came off the river and seemed to fill the whole valley. It was so strange to see a foggy mist when everything was so cold and icy.

Friday, when the roads were finally clear enough for me to go to walmart I was driving home and there was a bright pink sunset. All the ice in the trees and on fencelines took on the pink glow of the sun. There were a million tiny suns reflecting off all of the ice. It was stunning. I am still mad that my camera battery died. Not that I would have been able to really capture the beauty of it.

The last couple of days have been, well...miserable. The romance has worn off. The outside temperature dropped to the teens and the inside temperature has been about 20. The dog's water bowls froze, the pots on the stove with water froze in just a few hours. My dishrag froze. I leave the milk on the counter to stay cold and anything that I don't want to freeze, I put in the refridgerator to keep warm. I decided to go to my mom's today to do some laundry and take a shower and just thaw out for a few hours. When I got close to home I saw each house lit up as I past and I kept telling myself, "Don't get your hopes up. You're not going to have power." As I started down the steep hill, though, I saw my big, gaudy, brash, annoying utility light that I hate so much glowing like a little beacon and I think I actually may have squealed with joy.

Well, here's a few notable pictures. The rest can be seen here.

This is my street. It's hardly recognisable.

Riverview Farm in the style of Tim Burton.

Books I read this week (I really am a nerd):

Flappers and philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
The Thirteenth Tale by Dianne Setterfield

and I started Jane Eyre. I haven't read it since highschool. As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre is much more captivating compared to a lot of the books written in that era. None of the boring name dropping, and confusing old english language. Charlotte Bronte is pretty short and to the point. I like it. Very easy to follow.