Adventures Away From the Farm · Farmtastic Stories

From One Zoo to Another

Cowboy and I have been enjoying a little time off this week, and what do we go and do?  If you guessed go visit more animals, then you would be correct.  We just can’t help ourselves, but it seems that a good sanctuary, wildlife center, or zoo always gets our attention.

Today we visited the Fort Worth Zoo, which is one of the top five zoos in the country.  The big news at the zoo right now are the baby elephants, Belle and Bowie.  We made it in time for their viewing, and got to talk to one of the zookeepers where we learned that the elephant herd eats a thousand pounds of hay per day, along with bamboo and other treats!  And let me just tell you, in Texas hay can be like gold, especially in drought prone summers.  And the amount of poo they can generate? Let’s just say I’ll make sure to limit the complaining when scooping out horse stalls each day.

As amazing as a place as the Fort Worth Zoo is with natural habitats for their over 7,000 animals, I can’t help but think about how most of these guys and gals would be the happiest in their natural environment, but due to habitat loss and threats mostly from humans, they are at risk.  Many of the critters at the zoo are part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that it’s about having a good time with the critters, so I rarely tend toward the serious, rather quite the opposite.  However, I’d just like to remind us all to take care of the critters in this world.  We really can learn so much from them, and it’s our responsibility to care for them.

So from our zoo to yours, give the critters a hug today, lend a helping hand to those who need it, and remember them in your Christmas donations and throughout the year.

Farmtastic Gardening

“Digging” a Fall Garden

Gardening Photo - Butterfly Bush
The butterfly bush in October bloom. It’s gone from buzzing with humming birds to buzzing with bees.

It’s one of my favorite times of year around the farm.  The Texas heat has given us all a break, allowing us to emerge from our air conditioning cocoon and take a reprieve from the two-shower-a-day minimum if you dare work outside.

Best of all, the garden is getting its fall surge.  My butterfly bush is in full bloom, the hummingbirds have moved south for the winter, and yes, Maybelle the puppy is still digging up my yard like she’s on a mission to find gold.

Admittedly, I’m a gardening novice.  But with each season I’m learning something new.  It’s a big fat game of trial and error.  What I’ve learned so far:

  • Garden plates make adorable edging, but puppies will dig them up and sit in the middle of the plate as if they are serving themselves up for dinner.
  • Shasta daisies are quite hardy and great bloomers, but puppies will dig them up.
  • Big old dogs are content to lie in the grass or on the porch as gardening companions, but puppies will steal your tools and dig right next to you.

Are you sensing a theme here?  Maybelle is a whopping 10-months old now and she is full of spunk and energy.  And she loves to be outside.  This has put a damper on my fall gardening plans, as I might as well be planting dollar bills with her digging habit.  But, Maybelle loves to sit on the  porch and watch the cows and the horses, so I’ll invest in my patience a bit.

In spite of the puppydom that has hit us this year,  I have learned a couple of useful things about gardening.  Around the farm you have to be resourceful.  So this fall when you are harvesting seeds, look no farther than your kitchen.  I found a cutting board and butter knife to be the best tools to sort my seeds.  It made quick and easy work of this task.

My final tip for fall gardening, put those adorable pumpkins up high or puppies will make their own version of pumpkin pie.

Dog Photo - Maybelle on the porch
Maybelle – one of her evening porch sitting sessions watching cows, horses, and donkeys.
Farm Life · Farmtastic Stories

It’s a Dusty, Dandy Life

Love and marriage might go together like a horse and carriage, but when it comes to country living it’s dust and dirt that have the perfect marriage.  And to be honest, the horses (and their carriage) love it!

Living in the country simply comes with a lot of dust and dirt, and if you want to keep your sanity, you just have to get over it.  I remember when I used to visit folks who had horses and barns (long before my horse days).  We would walk out into the barn and everything would be covered in a thin layer of dust, and I used to think, “Sheesh, don’t they ever clean this place?”  To all of you, I am deeply sorry.

Having lived the country life for three years now, I have finally given in to the dust and the dirt.  I mean, you can spend your days with brooms, dust pans, hoses, and my favorite, the leaf blower, or you can spend your days hugging the neck of your horse, brushing manes, and sitting on the porch.  Frankly,  the latter appeals to me a whole lot more.

To be fair, I’ve never loved cleaning, but I do my best. I grew up in a house that could pretty much pass the white glove test at any time.  My mom’s mortal enemy is dust, and it still is today.  In fact, we have a long running family joke about the fancy formal living room coffee tables circa 1974 that were shellacked to a high sheen (say “amen” if you know what I mean).  Dusting them was the bane of my existence.  When my mom finally upgraded her furniture several years back, she quipped, “You sure you don’t want these tables?”

I was quick to respond with “Are you kidding me?  Do you know how many hours of therapy those tables cost me?”

And not only do you just have to deal with it, I actually find myself spending cold hard cash on dirt, well sand, but you get the gist. Where we live, when it rains our dirt turns to gumbo.  That thick, gloppy mess that will turn a girl’s boots into 10-pound weights, that is if you are lucky enough not to have them sucked off of your feet.

To help with this lovely little dilemma, we’ve brought in truck loads of sand to mix around the horse stalls and work area.  And in case you are wondering, dirt ain’t cheap, which you are gently reminded of on hot dusty days as your precious sand is blowing around.  The wind whispers “cha-ching” in your ear as the dirt you actually want slowly slips away.  So while some girls get to dream of spending money on new sofas, I dream of sandy soil.  My what has happened to me?

And if not for the dirt and dust that just blow around, the animals will make sure you have plenty of extra.  For example, Nightmare the barn cat, loves to roll in the dirt and sand and turn his shiny black coat into a lovely shade of tan.  Sweet Suzy Q loves nothing more than a good rain to roll around in the mud and fill up her beautiful mane with mud clumps, resulting in bath time, which is a whole other story altogether.

So there you have it.  Country life is filled with sand, mud, and dust.  But when a big old dusty horse slobbers all over your shoulder and leaves a dirt print on your favorite T-shirt, you think dirt is just about the best thing you’ve ever seen.

Horse Photo - Ranger with his nose in the air
This is what Ranger thinks of the dust. It is just dandy!