Monday, August 31, 2015

Hopping along

And now for something completely different! My friend Christine and her brother grow hops near here. Yesterday they had their first-ever harvest, and we got to help out.

It's fascinating how hops grow! These are huge telephone poles with support wires strung across them, then coir (coconut fibre) ropes hanging down for the hops to grow up.

Hops are bines, not vines. No tendrils or suckers to support the plant!

Christine and her bro worked hard for this! The yard is certified organic.

Hops are the female flowers of the plant. No boy-plants in this hop yard!

But there WAS an adorable cat, adopted from our local OSPCA shelter!

Here are hop plants that have yet to be put in the ground.

When it's time to harvest, somebody gets to stand up on that yellow platform (moved along by a tractor) and cut the ropes.

Then the hopes are loaded into the back of the truck...

...and carefully taken out!

This is my friend's grandfather holding a beautiful string of hops!

Next we all sat down and picked off the flowers, or "cones." Gordon did well!

Hops smell great. A bit like IPA beer, but also, in my opinion, a bit citrusy/piney. Very fresh!

The picking party.

Grab a string and get going!

We done good.

We had a great time and would love to help out again next year.

I found it fascinating to learn all about hops. I'm sure Christine will be very successful with this! What a great way to spend a morning. If you're on Twitter, you can follow Christine the Hops Baroness here: @christineob7 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Who wouldn't want to roll in the dirt?

Well, I dunno, but Saul sure does!

The ponies do this too. Honestly, until I got these guys, I had no idea they did this!

Meanwhile, Conehead seems to like life in the house very much...

Pip has to wear this thing for another week. The other day, she managed to rip the cone off AND rip out the drain in her tail!!! Fortunately the vet said it was okay and gave me instructions on how to deal with it. Tomorrow she has to go back to the vet for a recheck.

And Julius was back at the vet the other day too. On Monday night, he suddenly started having trouble walking. His back legs weren't working right and he looked like a drunken sailor!
We're still not 100% sure what happened. It may have been a stroke. There's a slight chance it may be a heart issue. It maybe be because of toxins in his blood due to his renal failure. Regardless, he's not in pain, is eating and drinking well, and still enjoys like. So the vet told me to start giving Julius subcutaneous fluids every other day instead of every three days. He's also getting half a baby aspring every third day to think his blood. He's had a rough month.

Last night he had a supervised outing and he seemed very happy. He enjoyed some fresh catnip, too.

So he's blind, missing three fangs, in renal failure, and walking like a drunken sailor but amazingly he still seems to have interest in life. He's 15 so we'll keep him comfy and take it day by day.

Keaton (who will be trapped and neutered very soon) was hanging out with us last night. Julius seemed to sense he was there.

We love our old boy!

And Emerson loves equines...

Don't worry, he was quite happy here rolling around on his back and flirting with Saul and Finney.

Finney used to chase him but Emerson seems to be winning him over.


In other horse news, Esme the pony foundered yet again, for the second time this month. The vet came Weds and was back again today because her blind eye was swollen shut! She'd developed some kind of infection. So now she's on meds for the founder and meds for her eye. Right now I am medicating four different animals

Esme's case is very frustrating. We no longer allow her out on pasture and have restricted her to dry pasture and are careful about the hay we buy, but still she's got issues. So we are getting some hay pellets for her and are going to have her hay analysed and try to find something that doesn't upset her delicate metabolism. Often horses need to be euthanized when they founder repeatedly. I'm hoping we won't have to go down that road, especially since i've currently got Julius on the brink. But like with Julius, with Esme, we'll take it one day at a time.

Speaking of time, look how big these guys are! (And yes, I think they are all drakes!)

They're about a month old and doing very well.

And look at this beauty!

A Giant Swallowtail. Sadly, I have not seen a single Monarch butterfly this summer. Makes me very sad.

But on a brighter note...'s Emerson on the bench we just painted red!

And Buttercup!

Truly, fall is already in the air. It was 6 deg Celsius when we got up today! But summer ain't over yet.

And we're getting some new farm animals from the OSPCA! Can you guess what they are?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Pip's near-miss and other animal happenings

This is why my hair is greyer than it was in the days I had not outdoor cats...

Our quasi-barn-cat didn't return to the barn on Wednesday night. Then she didn't return Thursday night. Then she didn't return Friday night either. I was sure she was dead! Once or twice she has stayed out overnight, but never three nights in a row. We lock all the cats in the house or barn every evenin, but Pip has found some new escape route we haven't figured out yet (and nor have the other barn cats!)

So I spent the weekend worried sick and fearing the worst. I drove to the very back of the property in the RTV in the hopes I'd find her back there, but nothing. Usually she does come when called.

Sunday I read an online article that gave me a bit of hope about finding lost cats. I took another stab and things and decided to walk along the far edge of the soybean calling her name. There are over 20 acres of soybeans that are now almost waist-high on me, and a cat, even a cat who is as savvy as Pip, could get lost in there.

So I walked along, calling her name every ten seconds or so. When I was halfway across the field, I hear a meow. Then another. Then another. Then the soybeans started rustling... it was Pip!! I picked her up and brought her back to the house. She seemed okay apart from a swelling on her tail near its base, so I took her to the vet on Sunday. Turns it it was an abscess that needed lancing and draining. I am picking up Pip tomorrow, and she'll be wearing the cone of shame. Our theory is that something grabbed her (coyote? fox?) and she managed to wriggle free but got disoriented in the field, or else was just scared and hiding for three nights. So she'll be okay, but again I am torn about having any outdoor cats. 

Initially Redford showed up and we said he could be a barn cat. And then our rat population grew out of control last summer, so we added more barn cats. Now the vermin situation is well looked after, but I have a bunch of outdoor cats that I spend too much time worrying about. However, we hate using poison on rats, and the traps just weren't doing it. So I don't know what I'm going to do. Pip is particularly independent and hates being in the house for any length of time. I'm thinking I should order up kitty GPS trackers for everyone.

Anyway, I'm just glad I found her this time.

Meanwhile, the cat antics continue...

Annuk taunting Daisy from a tree!

Buttercup in alfalfa.

Me and my boyfriend Saul. He was nibbling my arm, but he's gentle. No teeth! ;)

And meanwhile, Emerson...

...still loves the pigs.

A lot.

Honey and Daisy watching the sunset.

And we got a humane trap and are going to get this guy in for the snip-snip asap:

He's letting me get closer and closer to him but still won't let me touch him! But Keaton does "talk" to me all the time. 

And inside...

Daisy and Archie are having a mad fling!

While Honey looks on. All three are from Greece but Daisy and Honey are sisters and never knew Archie when he was there. But now it's as if they know they are all from the same dump in Syros! Very sweet.

And here's my doofus pony, Finney...


And my HORSE...

Roo, at our riding lesson last Friday. He's a handsome guy.

Don't be jealous Finney! I love you too.

You too Rudy!