Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Purrs & Wags!

There are two songs I associate with our ten year old yellow lab Poe.

One is Randy Newman`s ‘It`s a jungle out there’ the theme song from one of my favorite shows Monk. The other is ‘The Happy Wanderer’ although Poe generally doesn`t have a knapsack on her back when she sets off along the mountain tracks.

Before we moved up on our hill side farm ten years ago we lived in a trailer park. It was a very nice little park but they had a very strict indoor cat’s only rule so we were contented with our calico cat Bean. As soon as we were settled here on our own acreage though we wanted a dog, my daughter who was three at the time couldn`t wait to get a puppy! I suppose a cat who was already eight at that time was just plain boring in her eyes.

Of course much discussing went on between Mr. Yodeling and I as to what breed we thought would suit best. With a three year old in the house we ruled out any small, delicate and/or nervous breed right off the bat. We needed a dog that could take the robust toddler hugs and kisses with good humor. Also hubby wanted a hunting breed that he could train to flush and retrieve upland game birds, ruffed grouse and ring-necked pheasant mostly. So we decided upon a lab for our first family dog. They seemed to fit the bill for everything we were looking for in a lifelong companion. It`s a decision I have never regretted, we all simply love the breed, odd personality quirks and all!

We were fortunate enough to have a litter to choose from within a very short span of time after the dog decision had been made. A woman who worked in the senior home my husband`s grandmother was living in at the time had a litter of thirteen lab pups she was looking for good homes for! It didn`t take us long to leap on her offer of a free puppy let me tell you! When we arrived at their farm mom and all thirteen pups were there to greet us.

The decision on which puppy to choose can be a tough one but not in this instance, for as we sat amid the rumble tumble of the litter one pudgy little yellow pup came waddling over and climbed into my husband’s lap. It was right then that the bond was made between Mr. Yodeling and Poe as she would be named by my daughter. (Hey it could have been worse; she could be named Tinky-Winky.)

Poe, Mr. Yodeling and hunting soon became a fall staple. She was just a pup when my husband began taking her out in the field with him when he would go grouse hunting. Usually her short legs would tire and she would end up coming home tucked into his hunting vest but the love of the field was there from the beginning for her. As she grew each year he and she would set out in search of grouse in our state woods, or head down to the nearby lake where the game commission stocks ring-necked pheasant for our hunters and their dogs. By the time she hit her peak at about five years old she was helping my husband to bag forty some birds over the course of the season!

Of course, as all we dog owners know, each dog has their own little idiosyncrasies and personality quirks. Poe seems to have a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder that can best to described by relaying a story to y`all to be followed by an example of said disorder.

The story begins about six years ago after we had become the owners of another lab Trinity who you met earlier. Trinity was about six months old and it was summer when this story takes place. Outside our goat barn we have two piles-one is for manure that gets tossed out a large window and the other pile is hay that isn`t fit, we feel, for the goats. We peel the outer layer off the large round bales we feed and place it in a pile. Of course the goats will run out and eat the yucky hay like rabid hyenas that they wouldn’t touch if you put it in their mangers but I digress….

That summer some ground-nesting bees decided that the yucky hay pile seemed like a great place to set up housekeeping. Poe of course found the nest right off when we would do morning chores. She stood there still as a statue, her head cocked slightly and listened to the buzzing in the mountain of hay. Of course Trinity did as well since if Poe did something then it just HAD to be the thing to do! After a moment of silent listening and planning Poe then drove her front feet into the hay. Of course the bees didn`t think kindly of a sixty pound dog stomping on their house and retaliated. Both dogs were stung on their pink and black noses respectively and we assumed that would end the ‘Bee Game’ for Poe. We were wrong.

This dog could NOT leave those bees alone! Every single day she would streak down and dive feet first into the bees nest. Every-day. I kid you not. She would paw at her nose and leap and snap, yet her obsession with that humming noise over-rode her common sense! Trinity had learned her lesson the first morning after her face had swollen up so badly she could barely open her eyes. Having your people make you swallow a Benadryl along with the discomfort was all she wanted of the ‘Bee Game.’ Finally we ended up, or I should say Mr. Yodeling ended up, digging the nest out and disposing of it. I don`t do bees. Period. I swell up like a Macy`s parade balloon from a mere mosquito bite so I avoid all stinging insects as if they were Freddy Krueger.

Now that above story should show how Poe tends to lean towards some slightly obsessive tendencies. I`ll give you the example now to help drive home the point. If you are ever in my house and want to see a dog spend hours at a window, just whisper any word that begins with SQ. It doesn`t have to be squirrel, although she must assume any word that begins with SQ does in fact mean there is a squirrel in the yard. Merely mention squash, squeeze, squelch, squint, square or squid and her vigil begins in a flash. She will sit for hours waiting for the SQ word to appear, her head drooping as nap time tries to lure her from her post, yet she maintains constant vigilance. You just can`t relax when squash are milling about the yard apparently.

Poe also suffers from selective hearing, that’s a condition that many men also seem to suffer from I`ve noticed. She is, as my husband reminds me daily, a hunting dog. So when she goes out for her restroom breaks with the other two dogs she just seems to not be able to stay close by. She is a happy wanderer and will slip off without a sound to the woods behind our house, or the wide open field that sits across the hedgerow. I have no objection to that. It`s the way she can turn her auditory system on and off at will while she`s out a-wandering that fascinates me.

See if I stand on the front or back porch and call for her, well she may decide to hear me and she may NOT decide to hear me. But let Mr. Yodeling step onto the porch after I`ve yelled myself blue in the face and let out one small ‘H`yup!’ and lo and behold, her selective hearing kicks in and she comes back with a smile to match his. Hmpfh.

Of course even with her eccentricities we do love the old girl dearly. Much to her displeasure Poe has had to retire from her days afield. Her hips are quite bad from dysplasia and any running, even a short time playing with Trinity and Tinker in the yard, causes her a great deal of pain. I know my husband suffers the loss of her companionship in the wood nearly as much as Poe does. They were an inseparable team for many years.

Daily trips to the lake just she and he then stopping at the corner mart after a rousing day to share a celebratory Slim-Jim….watching the dog doing what she had been bred to do with pride…..hunting with his friends and having them compliment her drive and skill…..these are memories he will cherish forever. Her love of the hunt and the accompanying scars under her eyes from many a trip into rose bushes to flush a rooster to wing for her master, THAT is the bond of man and dog that retirement can`t take away from either of them. So here`s a chorus for old hunting dogs everywhere!

‘Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die
Oh, may I always laugh and sing
Beneath God`s clear blue sky!’

Monday, October 26, 2009

From Feral`s Front Porch

Sing along time!

'One of these things is not like the other,
One of these things just doesn`t belong....'

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Those Udderly Wonderful Goats!

Break out your platform shoes and your bell bottom pants!

The love train has pulled into the station! *Eyes coffee with growing suspicion* Okay, perhaps that`s a slight exaggeration but for two of our lovely caprine ladies that old…wait, did I say old? That classic (Much better choice of adjectives) O`Jay`s song was the tune of the day last Sunday.

Yes sir, it`s that time of the year for goat owners! That magical and mystical time when romance blooms between our stalwart bucks and our demure does. When we goat breeders lead our handsome men across the driveway with fanciful dreams of next spring`s ‘Best of Show’ doeling in our eyes.

As I type my Nubian buck Anakin is frolicking amid his bevy of beauties, his professions of undying love and devotion being sang for all to hear. Of course my daughter has two different breeds of goats, her Lamancha doe Bianca and her Sable doe Jennifer. Those two high-blooded ladies were the ticket holders for the love train that whisked them across our county for a rendezvous with two suitors of proper fitting and station.*Slides mug of coffee across table*I REALLY need to leave those romance novels alone.

The love train pulled into its final destination at my good friend Marcia`s huge barn. Marcia is the one who my daughter bought Jennifer and Bianca from initially. She runs, on average, 150 to 200 dairy goats which she also shows with great success in A.D.G.A. shows across the country. Her various breeds include Saanan`s, Sable`s, Lamancha`s and Nubian`s.

After arriving we old (darn it!) CLASSIC goat buddies have to shoot the breeze, snuzzle goat kids and have a cup or two of coffee as we peruse the candidate`s for our two special belles. It`s not an easy choice since each buck has things to offer in terms of his genetics and what my daughter is looking for to help improve conformation in the future offspring. It generally takes a while, and a few steaming cups of Folger`s, to make the final decision.

Once the choice of suitor`s is made then we lead the wide-eyed girls down the platform and get them settled into a pen of their own. Most generally the regal one`s don`t cotton well to having to mix with goats that they perceive to be of a lower station and some VERY unladylike butting of heads takes place.

We then leave the royal ones with Marcia so that she can play matchmaker when the time is right and the mood is proper. I`ll have to ask her if she supplies candles or strolling violinists.

This year the lucky bachelor`s that we three ladies decided upon are Halfsey-a great looking black and white Lamancha buck my daughter has bred to Bianca before with very nice results.

Jennifer`s paramour was GOING to be this handsome little sable buck but I received a phone call just yesterday from the caprine matchmaker, and apparently her exaltedness found the young lad to be lacking in courtly manners. Sooo I don`t have a picture of Solomon, the mature buck that Jennifer seemed to favor, to show you. I don`t fault her though, we women SHOULD be picky when it comes to who we bestow our affections upon!

So the love train sits idling at the station waiting for the return trip to ferry our mothers-to-be home and I suddenly feel disco fever coursing through my veins!

*Leaves blog entry to shake electric boogaloo*

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rural Ramblings

I thought I`d share some the photo`s we take when we`re out and about!

This is a shot of one of our neighbor`s apple trees. I just love the contrast of the bright red apples against the green leaves. A fall bounty waiting to be picked!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

How to whittle away a gray morning

There are quite a few ways to spend a cold, gray Saturday morning.

If you`re a dedicated hunter as Mr. Yodeling is, one way is to spend it in a tree stand with your bow by your side. I myself have been known to take to bow to woods but once the temperature drops below fifty so does my enthusiasm for archery. Since yesterday dawned with a lovely mixture of rain, snow and a tropic temperature of thirty-two I kept my rump home.

Another way is to do some of the housework that piles up with having a family, dogs and cats. You all know me well enough by now to know I turned a blind eye to THAT as I sipped my coffee while staring out at the heavy wet snow. The early winter system had deposited about four inches that had broken down trees, snapped branches and made a general quagmire out of our yard.

The farm critters were nowhere to be seen. Apparently our goats are made out of pure cane sugar and if one delicate flake should touch their exalted pelts they will melt like Dorothy Gale`s nemesis. Even the cows were in their coops, sticking their noses out only far enough to peek at the soggy, slippery pastures as they ruminated. The chickens were dashing from one bush to another, trying to mill about while not getting their feathers wet. The only ones who seemed to be enjoying the ugly weather were the geese who were bobbing for apple cores in brackish mud puddles in our driveway.

So my daughter and I decided to attend our small towns first annual Bookfest that was being held in the fireman`s building. Truthfully I had planned to attend before the bad weather had arrived but now I had an excuse for not cleaning up the spent impatiens and peonies! As they say a bad excuse is better than no excuse at all! We stopped to pick up my mother-in-law who is ALWAYS ready to gad about and off we went!

As an aspiring writer I was very excited to have the opportunity to talk with published writers in various genres while adding to my pile of books waiting to be read. The affair was a resounding success it appeared as we had to park a good stretch away from the annex. Seemed quite a few folks were in the same mind set we were! Inside were tables and tables piled high with books for a dollar. (I know!! What reader could pass THAT up!?)

Wisely we made the loop of author`s that were there first because I ended up talking to a wide variety of local writers about their chosen fields, publishing experience`s and struggles to get our words to the masses. I learned a great deal from all the author`s who graciously took the time to answer my slew of questions and thank them all! My daughter found a book that seemed to grab her attention titled ‘Gaia Girls’ which was written by a wonderfully outgoing and pleasant woman named Lee Welles. Ms. Welles was kind enough to sign my daughter`s book and pose for this picture with her stuffed otter!

After the meet and greets with the author`s we meandered about filling our arms with used tomes. I added a Stephen King novel to my ‘to-be-read’ stack, as well as another romance. (Those romances are as addictive as Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies I swear!) There was also a compilation of short stories about inspirational women that leaped into my arms. Such agile things books are! Much to my surprise there was a sign-up sheet beside the register for a writers group that`s forming at our local library so I added my name to the list.

All in all a much better way to spend a gray dismal morning than cleaning, at least in this goatherder`s opinion!

Friday, October 16, 2009

From Feral`s Front Porch

I just had to share with y`all what was waiting to greet me this morning when I went out to do morning chores!

I`ve heard of frost on the pumpkin but this is a bit much!

I`m hoping this isn`t a sign of things to come for us here in the mountains of Pennsylvania. *Pads off to find winter coats and mittens, just in case*

Thursday, October 15, 2009

One Liners-10/15

'I`m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.'

Monday, October 12, 2009

That's Fowl!

We interrupt this blog for an important late breaking news story!!

Organized crime runs amok on small Pennsylvania farm!!!

It has come to this reporter`s attention that there is a small but really mean criminal organization that terrorizes the usually law abiding hillside farm of the dulcet toned Yodeling Goatherder!

This gang of miscreants is known among the underworld as ‘The Butt-Pinching Gang’ and should be considered billed and extremely belligerent!

Hold on!! This reporter has just been handed these mug shots from the F.B.I. (Federal Butt-pinching Investigations) task force head Mrs. Yodeling Goatherder.

Please be on the lookout for-

Jack ‘The Gander’ Goose and his gun mawl/life mate Diane ‘Web-foot’ Goose. Both are wanted by Federal Butt-Pinching Investigators on four counts of buttock bruising and numerous counts of barnyard bullying. Don`t let their mid-western John Mellencamp song inspired names fool you! These two are considered the brains of the operation despite being two American geese growing up in the backyard.

Also be on the lookout for Jack and Diane Goose`s two children-

Lenny ‘Lone Wolf’ Goose and his sister Zoey ‘The kid named me’ Goose. While young these two are well on their way to a life of crime and black and blue marks to rival their parents! Local authorities have reported that it was indeed the two children of the Goose`s…Geese`s…..Goose kingpin and his gun mawl/life mate that were responsible for the horrible incident of feather pulling and wing cracking of two years ago perpetrated on this tranquil looking farmstead against one Wade the Duck.

I`m sorry, it has just been brought to this reporter`s attention that this is a daily occurrence perpetrated against Wade the Duck. Thank you Mrs. Yodeling Goatherder for the correct facts.

(An interview with one lucky survivor of this nefarious barnyard cartel to follow this breaking bulletin!)

Task force chief Mrs. Yodeling Goatherder has asked this reporter to pass along her warning that if anyone should happen to enter the acreage of this mobster patrolled parcel do not, and I repeat, DO NOT attempt to bring these birds into justice! Please Mister and Mrs. Americana-Leave the dangerous jobs to the professionals! Merely stay in your car and call the Federal Butt-Pinching Investigation hotline at-1-800-OW-MYBUT.

Apparently there has been a lull in the action here, the gang seemingly going to their favorite mid-day lounging area under some shady pines, so this reporter will now pass along the manuscript of a recent eye witness account of criminal activity over the past five years.


Reporter-“Hello! May I ask your name and what you`ve seen in regard to the Butt-Pinching Gangs activities?”

Mister Tinker-“Hello yourself! My name is Tinker and I`ve been a victim of the B.P.G. as we call them here!”

Reporter-“No!?! Imagine it Mister and Mrs. Americana! A beagle being strong-armed by these hooligans! If it`s not too traumatic Mister Tinker, would you tell us what happened?”

Mister Tinker-“Sure, anything to help bring this darkness to the light! It happened about a week ago. I just recently moved here and it seemed like such a nice, quiet place to live. Friendly goats and lots of rabbits to chase, a real good home for a dog you know? Well I was out minding my own business, smelling around the base of that aluminum fishing boat on the bank when out of nowhere something bit my butt!”


Mister Tinker-“I know! It hurt really badly! Miss Poe and Miss Trinity told me afterwards that they too have fallen victim to the goose gangs bills! To top it all off, after the ‘incident’ that Jack one went running back to his fellow villains honking proudly!”

Reporter-“We all are very sorry for your ghastly and obviously humiliating experience Mister Tinker.”

Mister Tinker-“Hey uhm, this isn`t going to be published in ‘Beagle Weekly’ is it?”

Reporter-“Not to my knowledge Mister Tinker.”

Mister Tinker-“Phew! That`s a relief! I kind of have this image with the guys, and well, if word of my tail tucking got back to them, oy! The ribbing I`d take! Of course it could be worse. I could be a bird dog like Miss Poe and Miss Trinity and have to come in through the back door if the B.P.G. are at the front!”

Reporter-“Truer words have never been bayed Mister Tinker. Good luck and keep your tail high good sir!”


So there you have it Mister and Mrs. Americana, yet another farm falls victim to the dastardly deeds of a few bad apples. Errrrr, geese.

Good night and watch your bottoms carefully!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Stellar Saturday night!

Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars…

Ahem. Sorry, I must have been channeling `Old Blue Eyes there for a moment. Again I have to wonder if I`ve dated myself? I`ll see when my teenage daughter gets home from school. If she asks who `Old Blue Eyes is, then I`ll know. (Although I suspect I already know.) Actually that song has been playing in my head since last Saturday night. That and that snappy Austin Powers bossa nova inspired theme but we won`t go there.*Eyes coffee with suspicion again*

Saturday evening last we spent doing a family project. I do TRY to keep one weekend night set aside for family activities since even we rural goatherders seem to be busier than bees during the week. Living where we do there isn`t too much to pick from in terms of entertainment. We have one movie theatre in town but since Mr. Yodeling and I had gone just recently to the movies that option was out.

Luckily our family night project had arrived via the U.P.S. man on Friday. When I returned from grocery shopping I found a package on the front porch and immediately knew what it was! Since it was raining I hurried to get the large box inside, kindly declining Trinity`s offer of assistance. Inside was a telescope that my husband had chosen as his twentieth anniversary present from the foundry he works in.

A few weeks prior Mr. Yodeling had brought home a catalog filled with gift options. After we all discussed it he ordered the Tasco telescope for the family. We had always wanted one but honestly couldn`t afford the price tag so this was a gift we were all excited to receive! Mr. Yodeling got home close to dark after an unsuccessful afternoon in his tree stand archery hunting and we set into assembling the telescope.

Now usually I`m the ‘Designated Instruction Reader’ but since I was busy snapping pictures the role of instruction reader was passed to my daughter. Now I don`t think I`m going to reveal too much to any unmarried ladies who may read this. If I do then I apologize in advance but feel slightly vindicated to have passed information along to those who may need it. And single ladies, you will, trust me. You married gals will understand when I say that putting together anything with your husband is usually quite the adventure! (Are you gals with gold bands nodding in agreement? I thought you may be.)

All kidding aside the rather complex looking telescope went together rather quickly and with a minimum of muttered expletives. There were a few comments and technical terms that I overheard as I lingered in the background snapping away. Such as......



“Which end goes in who?”

“Are there two deals?”

I have to admit that my husband is FAR better at this kind of thing than I am. Heck, I`d still be trying to get the tripod together while mumbling vague and random things about hex nuts and washers if it had been left to me so a tip of my bonnet to Mr. Yodeling!

Once the telescope was together we donned fall jackets and carried the Tasco outside to give it a whirl. It was a crisp fall night and the skies were partly cloudy, but the moon was almost full. It took some finagling and fine tuning to get that old round moon in clearly. Our sable goat Jennifer moseyed out into the pasture, bleary eyed yet nosey enough to ask what we were doing. The other girls apparently couldn`t care less about what the domestics do in their free time and stayed in the barn snoozing.

The view we got of the moon was, well to put it in the vernacular of a hard-to-impress thirteen year old- ‘That is WICKED!’ And she was right, it was wicked! You could see huge craters on the moon’s surface which I assume had been caused by meteor strikes. It really was a very enjoyable and educational way to spend time together. Sadly we haven`t had the Tasco out since due to cloudy skies but as soon as we get a good clear night you can bet all three of us will be outside star gazing!

Of course the youngest member of our indoor animal brigade just HAD to prove that old adage about enjoying the box more than the gift itself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

One Liners-10/5

He is the chicken whisperer.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When hawks attack!!!

That does sound like a promo for an Animal Planet show doesn`t it?

But that`s just what happened here on my hillside farm yesterday. Usually I spend my morning`s sipping coffee and working on my fiction tales or blog entries, my creative juices just seem to flow best when my old brain is freshly rested. Yesterday morning though I decided to break my routine and actually do some housework. (I know it`s shocking isn`t it?)

The previous night had been spent with my nose buried in a new paranormal romance which had left me sluggish and bleary eyed even with a couple of mugs of coffee in my bloodstream. I had also donated blood the day before which could have added to my lethargic synapses. Add to that I was struggling with a severe case of the dreaded writers block so skipping the laptop (I hoped) would help with the mental bear-trap I seemed to be caught in.

I set about doing what needed done- a load of whites, some light dusting and the vacuuming, which can be done daily as anyone with dogs and cats can attest to. Perhaps as I pushed the Eureka over the dog hairs on the carpet inspiration would leap out like some literary dust bunny and smack my imagination with a great idea I was praying. What I got as I was vacuuming was a glimpse of something in my peripheral vision streaking past my kitchen window. It was just a dark blur but it made me hurry to shut off the Eureka and scurry to the window to scope things out.

Knowing there are no birds on this farm that can soar by the little window over my kitchen sink I was already pretty sure as to what had zipped by. My initial peek showed me every bird in the back yard stood frozen in place, hiding under bushes or my truck. Off I ran to the back door leaving the vacuum lying on the living room carpet. I flung the back door open and hurried onto our back porch, nearly falling to my face as I tripped over tiny little bantam chickens cowering beside the storm door.

Just as I stepped onto a large flat rock that serves as one of two steps up from our porch it swooped down from the front of our home. The red-tailed hawk had his keen sight on one of my black silky roosters that was pinned under a large autumn olive bush in our yard. Wings locked and talons stretched the hawk made another pass, the terrified rooster scooted left and somehow the bird of prey missed but I tell you all it was by mere millimeters!

As the winged predator turned sharply to try once more I hurried out into the still wet grass in my slippers yelling at the top of my lungs and flapping my arms like a short yodeling emu. Red-tails are protected here in Pennsylvania so as poultry owners we have only two choices, either lock our birds up in a pen or allow them to free range and take our chances.

Tiny bantam chickens are VERY easy marks for a fleet-winged bird of prey and sadly we`ve found the remains of a few of our flock that had become a hawk`s meal over the years. Fall, for whatever reason, seems to be the worst time in terms of hawk attacks for us here. I`m not sure if it`s juvenile birds that still don`t have the skill needed to catch faster quarry like rabbits or if it`s just the fact that chicken is a tasty meal for both humans and hawks alike.

Luckily for that rooster my yelling and flapping startled the hawk enough to send him to a tall oak that borders our property and my sister-in-laws. There he sat looking down on me and wondering exactly what was wrong with that woman as mister rooster ran as fast as his stubby legs would carry him onto the back porch to hide with the other chickens. I nodded as he passed and he gave me a very grateful look.

Now knowing hawks as I do I knew I had to send the bird on his way or he would just wait me out patiently at the top of the oak, biding his time amid leaves that are turning shades of red to match his beautiful plumage. So I did what I always do, I jogged back to the house and let loose the dogs. Mister red-tail wanted nothing to do with three maniacal canine`s leaping and barking and braying and the last I saw of him, and his red-tail, was his silhouette as he soared over the state woods behind our coop`s.

So all in all everyone made out well, aside from the hawk of course. Mr. Black silky rooster is still crowing and strutting (No doubt regaling the hens about his bravado in the face of certain death), the dogs got a chance to be out ahead of their ‘lunch time calf bottle run’ and I ended up with wet slippers and a new blog entry.

Maybe I should do housework more often?? Nahhhhhhh.

(On a side note, the picture of the hawk included in this entry isn`t the same one that visited us yesterday. In the melee I didn`t think to grab the camera. But Mr. Black silky rooster was more than willing to pose, with his ladies, after the feather raising event.)