Archive for March, 2009

Sheep on Wheels

The ol’ blind Rambouillet ewe that suffered obturator nerve paralysis during lambing and that subsequently fell on and smothered her lamb recovered, as you will remember, and was happily wandering around with the rest of the flock, albeit bumping into things along the way.

Sometime during the day on Sunday, she met with another mishap. Perhaps she was startled by a sudden noise, or the lambs racing by frightened her. (I have actually been in the barn when two ducks got into a fight and a lamb that was sleeping with her front leg under the wooden fence was so startled and leaped to her feet so violently that she shattered her thigh.) I found old Rambouillet Mon Ami in a partially down fence, legs entangled, as though she had tried to leap through the woven wire fence and didn’t make it. Once untangled, she could not get to her feet unassisted but could stagger along if helped. I took her to a protected area of yard and let her graze on the fresh green grass where the other sheep could not bother her. That night, I was able to help her stagger into the dog kennel where she demonstrated that her appetite for food and water was quite unharmed. Monday morning, she was not able to get to her feet at all. I did my best to help her up before I went to work, but she couldn’t even stand. I placed feed, water, and hay within reach, then left for work (arriving late). *Sigh*

Monday evening, she was again unable to stand. I put her on a wagon and took her a particularly green area, removed her from the wagon, returning frequently to drag her to fresh grass as she grazed it down. I left her in the yard all night but decided to move her under shelter with hay, feed and water in case of rain. I power lifted her onto the wagon again, arranged her comfortably, did the rest of the feeding and bottle feeding of the lamb, and arrived to work 5 minutes late again.

This evening, her paralysis doesn’t appear to be getting any better, but her appetite is intact and she doesn’t appear to be feeling any pain. I loaded her onto the wagon again (who needs to go to a gym for weightlifting!) and pulled her out and unloaded her for some grazing before the thunderstorms arrived, hoping the neighbors were watching t.v. and not calling each other and saying things like “do you think we ought to call the authorities and Baker act her?” “Better not. Remember her shotguns?”

While Mon Ami was greedily grazing, I bottle fed the lamb, let the rams out to graze with the horse briefly, went out to eat (early bird special–15% discount!), picked up some snacks for the school kids at the grocery store, came home and fed the ewes, dropped hay to the ewes, fed the horse, fed the rams, bottle fed the lamb again, fed the dogs, chicks, chickens, ducks, duckling, and fed the cats. By this time, the lightning was flashing continuously and I ran out with my lil’ red wagon to load up the ewe, praying that if I got hit by lightening and B-B-Qed, the papers wouldn’t mention the sheep in the wagon. Oh, you KNOW they would.

On the way back to shelter, I kept looking back to make sure none of her legs were falling out of the wagon near the wheels because all she needed was a broken leg in addition to her possible spinal injury/inflammation. Her head was lolling off the wagon. Was she injured? Going into shock? Nope. She was grazing as I pulled her along. Talk about adjusting to life with a disability! I tucked her away under the shelter with feed, hay, and water once again, and dodged rain drops and lightening into the house. This was a great relief to the duck on the nest that she had put inside an empty muck bucket under the shelter. She dealt with my comings and goings with equanimity. The sight of a sheep on a red wagon was just too much for her to bear and she took off, watching suspiciously from a distance until I removed the sheep from the wagon and went inside. Maybe she thought she would be next.

Now, I know that I am not supposed to take a shower during a thunderstorm because I can get electrocuted, or so they say, and I’m sure they’re right. On the other hand, I couldn’t bear the thought of the electricity going out and smelling of sheep urine all night, so into the shower I jumped. Despite scrubbing myself down with various perfumed soaps and anointing myself with the smelliest of lotions, I still smell of sheep urine.

I wish I could report that sheep urine has a miraculous effect on wrinkle removal, but it doesn’t, really. People just stand so far away from you that they can’t see the wrinkles.

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Sam Decides He’s a Guard Dog

Sam, the German Shepherd pup that has been gallumping around the yard, destroying flowerbeds, dog beds, kitty beds, shoes, screens, tarps, and anything else he can sink his teeth into has heretofore been a big happy, gamboling goof. That all changed in a split second when our neighbor came up to the gate to ask if I wanted him to trim a tree out front that had sustained some winter damage.

Sam turned from frolicking pup to guard dog from hell in an instant. The hair stood up on the back of his neck all the way to his tail. Those fangs of his that he’d been using to chew up buckets, books, and shoes were bared. He started barking and growling and raced toward the fence to ward off the threat to momma.

The neighbor’s lab who had been staying sedately in her yard heard the racket and ran out to protect HER master, and then the two of them were fighting through the fence. I had to grab Sam (BAD PUPPY!) by the collar and shake him a couple times to get his attention and make him sit.

Bad Puppy has been lately calmly lying in the front flower bed (which is now a big dug out hole, damnit), quietly watching the hens and chicks, ducks and ducklings, squirrels, kitties, boinging lambs and grazing ewes. SwampMan said “I think he’s guarding everything.” I didn’t think so because I didn’t think Sam was old enough, but it looks like I was wrong.

I watched this afternoon as Sam made his rounds around the perimeter, checked the sheep pasture, and ignored the chicks in the protective cage in the yard. He acted like a guard making his rounds. He’s taller and longer than Odie now, and his feet are twice the size of Odie’s.

I’m not surprised that Sam is a “guard dog”; after all, all the dogs that I’ve taken in have been fierce guardians of hearth and home. I was just surprised that the guardian instinct was coming out at such a young age. He’s always happy to see the family, so I wasn’t aware that it was kicking in. Guess I better do some more training in order to make sure that he will instantaneously drop if I give the command.

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Looks Like GM Has Been Nationalized

From Politico:

The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said.

The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government’s behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason.

On Monday, President Obama is to unveil his plans for the auto industry, including a response to a request for additional funds by GM and Chrysler.

Industry sources had said the White House planned very tough medicine, which turned out to be an understatement. And it went to the very top. The measures to be imposed by the government will have a dramatic effect on workers, unions, suppliers, retirees and the communities where plants are located, the sources said.

GM and Chrysler have to prove their viability as a condition of a federal bailout released under former President George W. Bush, and both have asked the current administration for more money.

Obama said Friday in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation,” broadcast Sunday, that the carmakers were going to have to do more.

“There’s been some serious efforts to deal with a combination of long-standing problems in the auto industry,” the president told host Bob Schieffer. “What we’re trying to let them know is that we want to have a successful auto industry, U.S. auto industry. We think we can have a successful U.S. auto industry. But it’s got to be one that’s realistically designed to weather this storm and to emerge at the other end much more lean, mean and competitive than it currently is.

“And that’s gonna mean a set of sacrifices from all parties involved — management, labor, shareholders, creditors, suppliers, dealers. Everybody’s gonna have to come to the table and say it’s important for us to take serious restructuring steps now in order to preserve a brighter future down the road.

Schieffer followed up: “But they’re not there yet.”

Obama added: “They’re not there yet.”

So now the folks that don’t pay taxes and have never held a real job where they have actually had to “work” are going to tell carmakers how to build cars.

*sigh* I loved my Chevy trucks.

H/T to Windybon at Gulf Coast Pundit.

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I Like That Portable Wall System

Check out the portable wall system that they’re using for the Fargo flood. I can see where it could be very helpful here for flooding situations, too.

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We Need A Revolution Soon

From Mark Steyn in NRO:

Writing in the Chicago Tribune last week, President Obama fell back on one of his favorite rhetorical tics: “But I also know,” he wrote, “that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.”

Really? For the moment, it’s a “false choice” mainly in the sense that he’s not offering it: “a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism” is not on the menu, which leaves “an oppressive government-run economy” as pretty much the only game in town. How oppressive is yet to be determined: To be sure, the official position remains that only “the richest five percent” will have taxes increased. But you’ll be surprised at the percentage of Americans who wind up in the richest five percent. This year federal government spending will rise to 28.5 per cent of GDP, the highest level ever, with the exception of the peak of the Second World War. The 44th president is proposing to add more to the national debt than the first 43 presidents combined, doubling it in the next six years, and tripling it within the decade. But to talk about it in percentages of this and trillions of that misses the point. It’s not about bookkeeping, it’s about government annexation of the economy, and thus of life: government supervision, government regulation, government control. No matter how small your small business is — plumbing, hairdressing, maple sugaring — the state will be burdening you with more permits, more paperwork, more bureaucracy.

Well, I suppose we will just have to be like the Democrats who neither pay their taxes nor pay attention to the petty little laws that are supposed to govern the rest of us.

Dang. I need to stop by the Post Office today so I can pick up several tax forms to write across them in giant red letters something like “Tim Geithner doesn’t pay his taxes, why should I?” or perhaps “Politicians don’t pay taxes so I’m not either.” Unfortunately, my taxes have already been automatically deducted and then some. But still.

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“Get That Thang AWAY From Me!”

I caught Sam with an egg, made him spit it out, and scolded him severely. “BAD puppy! You do NOT steal eggs!” (Sam thinks his name is Bad Puppy and no longer even answers to Sam.) I went back to feeding the hungry ewes and lambs.

Coming back with the bucket, I saw a hen and rooster energetically attacking an egg. Coming closer, I saw that it was a duck egg with a tiny little motionless resident. Picking it up elicited no response, but there was bright red blood where the chickens had pecked it. I knew there was a duck nest behind the woodpile, and checked. There were 3 empty shells, 2 unhatched eggs, and this lil’ apparently lifeless egg. *sigh* She’d hatched a few, then taken off with them. Puppy, smelling the scent from the hatched eggs, had grabbed one and, finding it occupied, went into hiding before he got scolded again. I took the cold eggs and little bleedy egg with beak showing and put them into the incubator. I checked in 15 minutes….no response. I checked again about a half hour later. No response. The third time, I thought it looked as though the beak were protruding a bit further out than previously. I tapped the beak, and got a weak “peep” in return. I peeled a bit of the shell and found that the resident was all tangled up, with a webbed foot over the lil’ head, and a wing firmly wedged under the beak. I took the egg out to show SwampMan.

“AAAAAAAH! Get that THANG away from ME! What the hell is it?” he screeched, which I would have thought difficult to do with a deep, rumbly voice, while simultaneously throwing himself back as far as possible in the recliner.

“Um, it’s a little duck hatching.” Sheesh.

“That’s a duck?”

“What did you think it was?” I mean, really, how many things hatch out of eggs? Chicks? Ducklings? Maybe he thought I’d gotten an alligator egg.

“I don’t know! It looks like one of those things from Alien that’s fixin’ to kill somebody. Get it OUT of here! It’s creepy!”

Sheesh. Put a tool that needs fixing in front of that man, and he can tear it down and rebuild it. Put a teensy little hatching duck in front of that man, and he gets all weird.

Guess he wouldn’t have liked the cute lil’ possum that was growling out in the barn last night either. I fed it some cat food.

Update: I brought very noisy duckling out of the incubator this morning prior to placing him in a brooder and showed him to SwampMan.

“That’s what was in that egg?”

“Yes. Isn’t he cute?” (and he is, now that he’s all dried with poofy down).

“Yeah!” He bent the reading light over toward the duckling.

“What are you doing?”

“He’s shivering, I’m moving the bulb over so that he can get warmed up.”

“That is a fluorescent energy saving bulb. They don’t emit heat like an incandescent bulb.”

“They don’t?” He put hand up to bulb. “I’ll be danged. I didn’t know that!”

I guess that’s why he has me around to take care of household stuff.

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9.4% Unemployment and No End in Sight

Florida has officially hit 9.4% unemployment, a 33-year high.   Businesses are closing.  Houses are being foreclosed on.   Unemployment insurance, if a person qualifies for it, isn’t enough to keep food on the table and shelter overhead.   School will be out soon, and teenagers will be looking for summer jobs, as will teachers, some of whom have been downsized and will not have a job to return to in the fall.  So, what is everybody doing?

A lot of teachers (and teenagers) have part-time jobs already to help make ends meet, things like delivering pizza, waiting tables, and clerking at retail establishments.   As long as they (teachers) don’t report this part-time employment (and aren’t caught), it will help eke out that unemployment check.  Some people are taking this opportunity to head back to school to gain new certifications/training to help with future employment when the economy bounces back.  

A lot of the unemployed are holding two or three part-time positions.   I have a friend that cleans houses and works at the Y.  Some men (and women) that have taken great pride in having the nicest yards and best lawn equipment are, upon downsizing, starting their own lawn care companies.  Some people are holding signs beside the road advertising various businesses and waving to drivers passing by.   People with green thumbs are selling veggies and plants they have started.  Some people are selling items at the flea market, on Craig’s list, and/or on E-Bay. I have an acquaintance that cleans carpeting, pressure washes driveways and siding, and substitute teaches. I bet there will be a lot more hot dog vendors.

Then there is the other market, the illegal market.  A person that used to be a local builder was arrested for selling drugs because he couldn’t find anything else that could  support his family.   Marijuana grow operations that have been busted hit the news fairly frequently.  Meth labs, ditto.  The odd thing is, as I commented on another blog, I would have to put forth far less effort to buy an illegal substance than I would to go to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk.   For the milk,  I would have to drive to the grocery store.  For the illegal substance, I wouldn’t have to leave the  neighborhood.  

Other criminal activities besides drug sales are also on the upswing, of course.  Burglary, assault, murder, prostitution…all these go up when the economy goes down.   Be careful.  Your wallet or your stuff may look like somebody’s utility payment.

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The electricity went out right in the middle of shampooing the carpet, the brooder has chicks in it, and the incubator is full of eggs.  Luckily, it isn’t cold enough to do anything more than cause a little discomfort to the chicks, the floor shampooing can be resumed later, and I can always find more eggs.

Hope this isn’t a prolonged outage.  My computer battery backup says get off the computer NOW, dumbass.

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Catching Up

redoubtOver the last few days, I had been waiting breathlessly for Redoubt’s eruption only to miss it because I was sleeping, taking care of the various critters and, of course, working.

I chanced upon the son and daughter-in-law of some neighbors in the store. He, a construction worker, had been unemployed for some time. She, a college student, was the sole support of the family with a part-time job. She had been trying desperately to find a full-time job, but could not. The degree that she had been working towards had a bunch of unemployed graduates this term, and she was going to change majors.

She was understandably upset. “My mother never had a vegetable garden, and I don’t know how to grow anything. Neither do my friends. We grew up not knowing how to do anything. What are we going to do?”

Interestingly enough, another woman I know, a woman who has never gardened before in her life, spent the weekend shoveling horse poo for her first ever vegetable garden. She sacrificed some expensive trees and the flowers in the flower bed for her veggies.

I have 8 chicks in the home-made brooder on a countertop in the office.   They are in a clear plastic 90-quart container from Wal-Mart with a flood lamp at one end for warmth.   I like to watch them.  They’ll be running around, scatching spilled food, eating from the feeder, drinking, and then suddenly, they’ll all lay down and go to sleep right where they are. 

SwampMan asked me “how many eggs will that incubator hold?” 

“It’s a small one.  It will hold 50 hen eggs, but I’d have to turn them twice daily.”  (An automatic egg turner cuts down on the space available for eggs.)

SwampMan told me he wanted that incubator filled UP with eggs, even though I have a bunch of cross-bred chickens, not fancy purebreds.  SwampMan, of course, will not be feeding and caring for those lil’ chicks.   He’s right, though, if the unemployment rate gets much higher, we’ll need more chickens to keep our friends and neighbors fed.

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The Government Won’t Protect Us…

A sad article in the Houston Chronicle today about Mexican villagers attempting to defend their villages from thugs armed with much better weapons:

Gangsters have staged platoon-strength raids on towns in Chihuahua and other nearby states. Kidnappings have increased, as well as cold-call extortion attempts to even poor residents of the area.

A number of merchants, as well as two members of the city council, have been kidnapped in Guadalupe Victoria since late December, residents said. Ransoms, they said, have reached several hundred thousand dollars.

“No one knows who took them. No one knows anything,” said Gilberto Cabello, the head of the town’s merchants association. “Everyone is left wondering who is next.”

Defense left to the town
Not surprisingly, villagers in Cuauhtemoc and San Angel remain on edge, sharply eyeing strangers, careful not to say too much to outsiders.

“The less said about this, the better,” said a city hall official in Cuencame, the township seat. “It can be dangerous to say too much.”

Soldiers and federal police took up the defense of Cuauhtemoc and San Angel last week after the towns’ plight played on the front page of a Mexico City newspaper. But the patrols evaporated after a few days, leaving nothing but the ditches in the villagers’ defense.

“That’s the way it is,” said a sun-weathered Roberto Fuentes, who was helping build a sidewalk a block from one of Cuauhtemoc’s earthworks. “If the government doesn’t do it, we have to.

“Here, the people are defending the town.”

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