Monday, May 29, 2017

Adorables and Deplorables

This has been an eventful several days at the farm.  We arrived to find not one, but two new baby calves.  You won’t be surprised to hear we are calling them, along with their older sisters, The Adorables!  

Four Sisters
What are those?  They don't look like us.
Border Collies Keeping Watch
This is all really new and strange.

Do you have one of these?

Mmmm....Mmmm Good!
Mom Loves Me

Big Sis
Don't you wish you could do this!

We were pleased but surprised to find that both our remaining cows had calved.  B8 was due, but B4’s calf was not expected for at least another month because she calved late last year.  The gestation period for cattle is about nine months, and our cows usually don’t breed back for a couple of months after calving.  Over time, we have established an estimated due date for each cow eleven months after their previous calf was born.  B4 outdid herself this year, calving only ten months after her last calf was born.  This means that all four of our calves were born within a six-week period.  They are having a great time running and playing together.

So much for the Adorables, but what about the Deplorables, you ask?  I’m not talking about those proud supporters of Candidate Trump in last year’s election.  I’m talking about critters that really are deplorable.  

On Thursday the dogs were doing a lot of sniffing around a sheet of plywood behind the pump house.  When I lifted it, there were three fat rats underneath.  Unquestionably Deplorables!  Rue took off after Mama Rat, but she managed to escape into the bushes.  Colt grabbed one of the half-grown offspring, but wasn’t sure what to do so he dropped it.  Kota, however, is an experienced ratter and dispatched it quickly.  She was planning on having it as a mid-morning snack, but I managed to retrieve and dispose of it. 


In the meantime, Rue came back and made quick work of the other juvenile.  She was very proud!

Sometimes we spend an entire week and see no “critters” other than a few turkeys at the feeder.  Not so this week.  Rue spent most of Wednesday evening trying to dig our resident armadillo out of his den in the bushes outside the kitchen.  He continues to be safe, and comes out each evening late to aerate our yard.

Then, while I was working in the yard Thursday morning, Rue was sniffing about in the bushes a few yards away.  Suddenly, I heard the unmistakable sound of an angry rattlesnake.  I called just as Rue shot out of the bushes.  I think she was reacting due to her “rattlesnake avoidance” training rather than to my call since she came out so quickly.  I’m very glad we invested in that training for all our dogs.  I’m told that dogs can’t detect a rattlesnake by scent, but identify them by the sound of their rattles.  I’m glad this one issued a warning.  It definitely qualifies as a Deplorable!

I called John, and we cautiously parted the bushes and looked for the snake.  It had only rattled once, and then for only a second, but it hadn’t moved.  It was stretched out under the bushes, and John and the 12-gauge dispatched it with no trouble.  It was a beautiful 2-3 foot snake, but not something you want to share your front yard.

And if one snake wasn’t enough, Friday morning I took my coffee and Bible to the front porch to read.   Rue came out with me and trotted up the front walk toward the parking area.  As I sat down, I noticed a very straight “stick” lying across the walk…much too straight to be a tree branch…between me and Rue.  I told her to lie down and walked up the path to investigate.  Sure enough, the “stick” was a snake, but not a Deplorable.  This time, it was a handsome 3-foot rat snake.  He posed for a couple of pictures, then slithered away into the bushes.  We’re happy to have him as a resident, and hope that he will get busy and take care of the rat that got away from Rue on Thursday.  

But deplorables aren’t always living things.  Sometimes we encounter deplorable situations.  We arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and by evening discovered that we had no hot water in the kitchen or our bathroom.  Fortunately the guest room shower was working just fine, so we were able to go to bed squeaky clean.  

On Thursday morning, John began trouble-shooting that deplorable situation.  Trouble-shooting is something we do here on a regular basis, since a couple of weeks often pass between our visits.  You would be surprised at what can go wrong in the interim!  This time, John noticed some suspicious material around the breaker that controls the hot water heater.  After disassembling the breaker box, he discovered that a couple of mice had managed to get inside and commit suicide, shorting out the circuits.  This time, we were fortunate.  The breaker wasn’t “fried” and after a thorough cleaning all was well.

All wasn’t well back in Volente, though.  Just before we left for the farm, Becky our good friend and next-door neighbor, had called to say that she had gone to pick up her mail and found all the mailbox doors open and no mail inside any of the 8 or so boxes.  John then began to wonder if a parcel that should have arrived last week might have been taken as well.  We are working with postal authorities and the sheriff’s office to try to recover our missing parcel and help to find the thieves.  So far, that is the only thing we know is missing, but there could be more.  The culprits took at least one credit card from our neighbor’s mailbox and tried to use it a number of times.  They were successful more than once, but Becky doesn’t know how they managed to use the card since it had not been activated.  Stay tuned on this one.

It’s good when we can end our visit on a happy note instead of the recitation of another deplorable.  This trip, we are happy to have our coastal pasture cut and ready to be baled to provide winter hay for the cattle.

And there was another special treat as well.  We have plenty of painted buntings here at the farm; we hear them almost constantly.  We seldom get a good look at one, though, because they are very small, fast and cautious.  We were excited Simdau morning to see this handsome male in his breeding finery peck-pecking in the grass just outside our kitchen window.  

He is definitely in the Adorables category.


  1. I love all of your amazing photos, especially the butterflies below. What camera?
    Glad the problems encountered in these posts were all solved except for the mail box thefts. Time to install a camera. A friend just retired to N. Carolina and built a "smart home" with all the latest security and entertainment doodads. Now that you have new appliances in the kitchen at the farm, is this the summer you install an outdoor kitchen out there?

  2. Glad you liked the photos. They were a lot of fun, and all were taken with my new (to me) Olympus OM-D E-M1. I've been very impressed with the quality of the photos, especially those taken with my 14-150 mm zoom lens (28-300 35 mm equivalent). I'll be using the longer 100-300 mm (200-600 35 mm equivalent) lens to try to get some better shots of the painted buntings on our feeder. The one at the farm was spectacular but I was shooting from the kitchen window and he wouldn't come out from the shadow of the bushes. (No plans yet for an outdoor kitchen out there...flagstone off the back deck must come first!)

  3. Love your blogs! Beautiful hunting and babies! Hope all is well! Are you travelling this year?