the barn in fall

the barn in fall

Friday, April 29, 2011

Spring Pond

The land is a bit hilly around here, crossed by streams and dotted with ponds.  The natural run off crosses our front pasture.  In the summer when the ground is hot and dry, that low area is still moist and green.  In the spring when the ground is saturated with rain, water gushes through the culvert under our driveway and spills into the pasture, and the moist low land becomes a pond.

Two days ago it poured, and our spring pond is back.  A couple of mallard ducks decided it looked like a good place to settle down, maybe raise a dozen kids.  They were out there all day, swimming and checking out their new digs.  Good neighborhood, tasty weeds, lots of room for kids to play.  If they decide sharing the pasture with three horses isn't a problem, they may stay.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


And my header finally reflects it!  If I see another snow flake, it had better be October.

Good news on the writing front - THIEVES LIKE US is a finalist in the Award of Excellence contest for best contemporary romance novel of 2010.  Just being nominated is an honor - you can quote me.

I took a walk after a wild downpour today and found this broken egg shell on the lawn, blown from a nest:
It seems like the robins just got here a couple weeks ago, but they've already hatched the first babies.  It's officially spring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Mayapples and Research

Rain overnight here, rain in the forecast today, rain tomorrow, rain the next day - time to get out the umbrellas.  Which is exactly what nature has done:
This forest of little umbrellas popped up almost overnight.  They're mayapples, and grow in the heavily-shaded area by our road.  Some have one stem with what is essentially one big leaf.  Some have a forked stem which will have little white flowers that turn into green poisonous seed pods, that turn into little yellow tasty (so I'm told) fruits.

No, I'm not the go-to nature lady.  I looked it all up.  That's what we writers do.  For my books I've researched dozens of wide-ranging topics, from fossilized trilobites to the snocats used to groom ski slopes - both appearing in my next book, SILVER SPARKS.  Shameless advance plug!  For past books I've had to research uranium mines, guns, and explosives, which probably means I'm on some Homeland Security watch list, keeping the country safe from terrorists and writers.  Most recently I've looked up sodium vapor lights and procedures for closing down a restaurant for health violations.  A few more books and I'll be a walking encyclopedia.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Napping, Pro Level

Horses don't sleep much, maybe 3 or 4 hours out of every 24.  When they do nap, it's usually while standing.  On a nice day, they'll lie down in the sun the same way a deer will, with their heads up.  If they doze off, their noses dip toward the ground.  Like deer, horses are prey animals, and have to be ready to jump up and run if predators appear.  Consequently, I rarely catch my horses lying flat-out on the ground, completely vulnerable and oblivious.

Except for Code Red.  When he naps, he's serious about it.  Dead serious.  I've learned not to get nervous if the dead body in the pasture is Code Red, because he's just enjoying a nap.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

New Guy in the Barn

This guy showed up sporadically, then apparently decided the accomodations were pretty sweet, and stayed.
I call him Gray. Creative, no?  No wonder I'm an author. See, my husband has a Rule: no more cats.  (God knows why.)  In accordance with the Rule, if I see a stray, I can't name it because I might get attached.  Hence, the generic gray cat.  Except I start out saying, "Hi, poor little gray cat, you don't have to run away," and "Here's kitty food, gray cat."  Then pretty soon it's, "You're not so scared anymore are you, gray cat?" and "See, petting feels good," and before you know it, it's "Damn it, Gray, get out of the way before I trip over you."  Viola, new barn cat.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

You Won't See This in the Store

My four hens share a communal egg nest - their choice.  This is what I found in the nest tonight:

Actually, just the green Aricauna egg and the little one.  The other two are there to show that it's the little Leghorn egg that's a fluke.  A mistake.  And because I had to know, I broke it open:

No yolk.  That's all albumen - the white part.  So it was never a potential chicken.  I'm disappointed.  The thought of tiny little eggs hatching tiny little chickens is just too cute!

Fill 'er Up

The propane truck came today, refilling our propane tank.  In the winter when we're heating the house they come about every 5 or 6 weeks.  We don't need it at all in the summer, as everything else is electric. 

Natural gas lines don't come down our road, and probably won't any time soon.  They'd have to get enough people willing to pay for it, and these aren't prosperous times.  Natural gas is much cheaper than propane, but that initial hook up is a killer, especially when most customers have a lot of road frontage, and are at least 500 feet from the road.  Nikita is the only one happy about it - the propane driver keeps dog treats in the back of his truck.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Tail Tale

Horses are herd animals - they don't like to be alone.  A few years ago, Remi went to live at a trainer's farm, leaving Fritz as an only horse for a year.  He was so lonesome he spent a lot of time standing by the fence along the backyard, where he at least got attention from the dog.  Unfortunately, he was just a big plaything for Nikita.  Her new favorite hobby was biting Fritz's tail and pulling out hunks of hair.  I can only assume Fritz took this as attention, as he not only allowed it, he enabled her by standing with his butt to the fence so Nikita could reach his tail easier.  She took off about 2 feet of tail and thinned the rest.  The bad news is, tails grow in slowly.  Three years later, it still isn't fully re-grown.  And now I think it never will be, because today I saw him standing butt-to-fence with Nikita on her hind legs, biting out mouthfuls of tail.  A pile of chestnut horse hairs was on the ground.

I think I know why.  Code Red is gone for ten days for a horse clinic, sort of like boarding school for horses.  Fritz and Remi have each other, but it's not the same.  I hope Fritz's tail survives another three days until Code Red comes back.