Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oh, the glamor!

Country air! Scenery! Another day of shameless lounging about The Farm!

This past weekend, a transport consisting of a bitch and her (many!) pups was due in, and frankly, the inn was full! Well, something needed to be done... And the HBIC has the plan (as always): Convert the lambing stall into a canine nursery. Well, that means mucking the stall, and it hasn't been done properly since... Well, a while. See, the HBIC got herself a bit broken a while back (something about tangling with an uppity ewe and a small flock of her hangers-on), and she isn't really the lift-n-tote kinda person any more. Add to that, that volunteer hours are down (where have we heard THAT refrain before..?), and well - The stall was a bit nasty.

I've seen worse. Still, it needs work.

So, I was down at The Farm, and my biggest utility, when you get down to it, is as a "strong back, weak mind" kinda person. There were dogs to groom, and adoptions to manage, and lunch to cook... Guess which I did? Yup! Actually, I don't mind at all... It's been a long time since I mucked a stall, but the skills don't exactly vanish, and it's a straightforward, fairly mindless, but satisfying job.

Mount That's-Not-So-Bad

In I go with a hay fork, and pile up a couple loads-worth of crud. Not too nasty, really. Yeah, it's a bit damp, and the bottom layer has 'felted' into a solid sheet, but it comes up clean and easy. Then, pile it in to a wagon and haul it off to the compost pile. Small-ish wagon, so three trips. No problem!

First load away!

The sheep, however, were less than impressed. A pair of ewes were clearly suspicious, and spent the morning giving me the stink-eye.

Just who do ewe think you're looking at, anyway..?

Unfortunately, the first stack of muck wasn't the worst of it... Getting into the corners, things got a bit nastier. The second large pile was, well... fragrant.

Mount That's-Not-So-Nice

Some of the barn cats camped nearby to snicker at me. Or maybe to just observe the natural order of things, as humans work whilst they lounge in lordly repose.

House cats camp on your keyboard. Farm cats camp on your tractor.

Anyway, one stall, cleaned down to the deck matting. It still needed a good sweeping, but frankly, I was getting tired of taking pictures, so you'll have to do with this shot, sans sweeping. :-p

Much improved!

At this point, I really needed to get on the road, so I didn't get to participate in the spreading of shavings and straw, nor to the settling-in of mom & pups. Still, a fine, languid, glamorous day!

Please note - In this economy, many volunteer-run organizations are really hurting for volunteer hours. And yeah, some volunteer work is seriously non-glamorous. I've cleaned kennels, scooped poop, picked up dead rats, rewired electrical runs, mucked a stall, driven nails, and lifted-n-toted untold bags of food. Oh, and played with puppies and dogs, too! But I'm only one person, and there's work to be done 365 days a year. And it's not just MABCR, but *every* volunteer organization is hurting. If you're not into rescue, maybe there's some other way you can help someone... I'm sure they'll be grateful for whatever you can do!

And besides... If we had more volunteer hours, I might not have had to be the one mucking the stall!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Skunk Catastrophe; Averted

Suka has a routine - Don't all dogs? - that requires that I let her out into the pre-dawn air for her first 'business' call of the day. Letting her out is the second thing I do after waking, only following behind pulling my wellies & coat on. It's a nice time of the day, even if I am a bit muzzy-headed with sleep, and even if it's bitterly cold - The neighborhood is quiet, the Rude Dogs are still sleeping, no one is hammering at me for crisis deliverables, and I can stand there, watch Suka as she sniffs her way about the yard, and just be. It's a zen moment - a chance to open myself to the posibilities of the day.

When let into the yard, Suka patrols the boundaries, nose to the grass, checking out all the new scents that have accumulated from the night previous. She first jets straight to the back fence, to see if the Rude Dogs on the other side are available - I don't let her fence run, but she still wants to check attendance. Then she'll hook to the right, pass behind the shed, turn and follow the chainlink of the neighbor's fenceline, then cross the yard to my left, hook right again, and follow the fence back under the large pine in the corner. Only after she's done the patrol will she do her business, and run back for the house.

This morning, we awoke to a hard frost; Winter may be over, but it's leaving behind calling cards. Suka started her patrol, and as she passed behind the shed, I saw something waddle out from under the shed, headed the opposite direction... Something low, long, fluffy, and white. No - Not a cat. A skunk. A BIG skunk. Yeah, I know - Traditionally, skunks are BLACK and white. Not always, though - We've got some cocker spaniel-sized skunks around here that are predominantly white or cream, and this was one of them. My zen moment vanished in a puff of horror; Suka was within feet of one of the largest skunks I've ever seen, and she's a fiend for interesting scents...

'Left' went the skunk... 'Right' went Suka... 'OMG' went I...

Left, left, left... Right, right, right... OMGOMGOMGOMG...

Suka hooked right at the corner... The skunk vanished under the pine... Suka started to cross back to the left... I was frozen, afraid that any action might precipitate the event I feared...

Then I saw the pale bundle of fur waddling through the neighbors yard; Safe! A heartbeat later, Suka saw it too, and charged the fence, but it was already too late for her to ruin my day; The skunk was out of reach.

Sometimes, you get exactly what you pray for.

For those of you whome don't know about it, there IS an effective remedy for 'skunked' dogs; invented by research chemist Paul Krebaum, it uses common household products, and it works. There may be some slight bleaching, but, in my opinion at least, a pale dog is MUCH better than a skunked dog. I keep the ingredients in the house, just to be on the safe side. Thankfully, I didn't need it today. However, for your reference:



Saturday, March 21, 2009

Saturday in the Park

These photos were taken just six days after the photos in the previous post... What a difference a few days makes!

Lin walking Suka into the neighborhood park

No, there's no love here...
Neener-neener, Dad! I'm sucking up to Lin today! :-p

OK, OK - Don't cry - I still love you, you big sissy!

For a "pocket park," there's a surprisingly large number of acres here... Just behind the treeline runs White Clay Creek, which give our neighborhood a micro-climate substantially more cool that the rest of the county. White Clay Creek is nearly a small river, and frequently floods into the flat grassy area you see here:

Lots of room to explore!

The periodic flooding means that the land is useless for almost any purpose, other than public parkland. And most of teh time, it's useless for that, too... Flooded, or soaked and muddy. Nothing much, other than flood-resistant trees grows here. There are swingsets and slides and ball parks sattered through the park, but most are damaged beyond safe use by the frequent washouts.

Nothing much to look at, but, oh! The scents!
At the entrance ot the park, there's this huge old pine tree, which I love to look at... It's got character. The hole here is big enough for Suka to curl up inside.

Probably a death wound

Anyway, winter is gone... Spring is here. Soon, the park will be flooding every other weekend... Time to enjoy it whilst we can!

Winter's Last Stand

This snow storm is a few weeks past, but I only now have had time to pull the photos out of the camera. This is no doubt the last snow until November.

Somewhere in this shot, there's a dog. Can you find her?

There she is!

Snow or no snow, she's still finding all the interesting smells...

This snow lasted a little longer than many previous storms have, this past winter, and it was a pretty darn cold - roads were treacherous. If not for four-wheel drive, I'd have not gotten out of the neighborhood at all - We were losing traction the whole way.

Then, five days later, it was gone. Easy come, easy go. :-p

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Work/Life Balance. What's that..?

Work is eating my life again... *sigh*

There's an Iditarod to follow and comentate... Which isn't happening for me.
There are a bunch of collecge kids down at The Farm, doing good works and eating donated meals (including some from my family)... and I'm not able to take the time off to help out.
There are photos in my camera to post and discuss... And they'll be there a bit longer.

See, I do Clinical Submissions work for a large Pharma, and though they make a LOT of noise about Work/Life Balance, ultimately we are slaves to the submission work. Timelines are inflexible, and if some internal Medical Writers can't get their heads out of their butts and meet *their* deadlines, well, *I* have to somehow manage to collapse my timelines so the final date is met. If the work isn't done, the agency won't care if I was able to get a little time off - Our user fee will still be forfieted. If the work isn't done, the agency won't cut slack on statuitory timelines so I can lower my blood pressure. If my Study Delivery Team is clueless and befuddled, well, the agency doesn't care. Nor should they. But I will still have to find the time anyway, even if it comes out of my hide.

Bitter..? A little. I'm missing things I love. I love my job too, but not right now.

Ah, well. Suka will still be over-the-moon to see me come home. That helps a lot. :-)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Miscellaneous and Random...

So, what do I want to say here..? Hmmm. I know - I can clear up a couple back stories, with images.

It snowed last night (Saturday night, I mean). We woke to another Delaware Decorative Snow, this AM. By the time we left church, it was gone... Completely. It's snowing again, now, but this time, with a bit more enthusiasm. So... What does a Delaware Decorative Snow look like? Here ya go:

Deciding if she really wants to go out...

...Patented snow trot in mid-pace.
The camera puts more contrast on these shots than is actually available to the human eye. Without the camera and the benefit of the zoom lens, Suka's coloring really does her good service as camoflage in these conditions. I knew white-factored red sable existed for more reasons than just to look good!

Suspicious of the neighbor's dog - one of the Rude Dogs.
If you look really close, you'll see some roughness in her coat along her hips... She's blowing coat, and is seemingly less happy about the cold now. Sorry... No rolling and wriggling in the snow today.

Did I say "blowing coat?" I meant to say "Trying to reupholster the house." For instance - This is what 30 seconds of shedding dog can do to a nice fresh pillowcase:

Say now... Where did that fur come from..?

Who, me..?! Nope. Didn't do it. And I'm not on the bed right now, either.

I believe I mentioned that Suka likes to snuggle on the couch when I nap there? Well I finally got an image of that, too... Though I think she was a bit non-plussed to have her nap interrupted...

Whyfore you wake me with the flashy-thing..?

And lastly... To remind us all that spring *is* coming, and green things will be here again, a shot from last July, when Suka first came to join us - It's a shot pried out of the old camera, and more than bit fuzzy (I should known then, that the camera was dying):

Getting used to the new digs.

Anyway, that's all for now. I think I'll go out and sand the walks once more, and call it a night.