Abbey Gail

 

Abbey Gail Dec 3, 2000- May 17, 20016

 

My darling sweet Abbey.  My heart is broke.  You were never a dog, you were always a human with fur.  I remember the arguments that Abbey had with Bj about watching the cooking channel at the office in CO.  Abbey said cooking channel was stupid and put on something cool like Animal Planet.  She loved to watch me cook but on TV they never drop anything so cooking shows were boring!!

Gorgeous Abbey

Abbey would express her happiness at watching certain TV shows and commercials.  She went mental over cat commercials….and a good footie match on TV.  oh my.  I remember the afternoon we had on a football match (soccer for you Yanks), and they kicked the ball from one end of the field to the other.  This meant the ball went from one end of the screen to the other and Abbey was behind the TV trying to find that darn ball.  She has turned off the TV numerous times in her excitement and jumping up at the TV.  She had a special video tape we made for her.  It had 15 minutes of football, 15 minuets of animal planet, 15 minutes of football, and so on.  She would take that with her to Granny and Granda’s house and watch it with Granda all the time we were gone on any trips.  Funny but she had Granda trained well.  She would sit all pretty in front of the TV and stare at the blank screen.  Heave a big sigh and look over her shoulder at Granda, turn and stare at the blank screen.  She would repeat this until Granda turned on the TV and popped in her tape.  She mae be daft, but she was nae feel.

 

Abbey with Charlie

And yes she would bark at the cows on the TV even if they were the cartoon laughing cows as she was smart enough to KNOW they were those HORRID COWS!!! and they must go.  She barked at the Cow statue at Country Dairy, the laughing cow cartoon TV cows, the cows out on the range in CO as we traveled all over, and even the mere mention of cows or if I spelled C-O-Ws…even that she knew.  She did NOT like cows!!  she said they were mean and hurt mama.  That would be when the Highland Cattle that we had briefly…well one of the cows came after me and kicked me.  Abbey never forgave the entire species of cows for that, not even once.

Abbey watching Tiger

Abbey was a red tri color….red, cream, and white…border collie.  She is a proper Scottish border collie, born and raised in the highlands of Scotland.  Hoof and Mouth was rampant when Abbey was first born and no one was allowed to the farms until things had cleared up.  By that time Abby was already 4 months old.  We were looking for an 8 week old puppy and the farmer did have two litters available.  One litter was 2 months old and one was 4 months old.  We looked at both litters and had one from each chosen, both having the same markings and coloring.  I was drawn to the younger litter.  We walked into the farmers kitchen where the pups were not allowed and Abbey walked right in as if she knew where to go.  She walked under my chair and laid down.  She chose me and it was settled.  We took her home.  Later we found out that the farmer, who was not home when we chose the pup, told his wife that he had wanted to keep that pup.

Abbey was all about work.  She took her job of taking care of us seriously.  She came into the house and took over the role of head dog even though Tessa was 18 months old.  Abbey was the boss of the Scottish border collies until the day she passed.  She moved with us from Scotland, to Colorado, to Michigan.

Abbey as a pup, always watching

We did breed her one time and she had 6 pups.  One pup we kept, Cinnamon, who is similar in build to Abbey.  She is nothing like her in color as Cinnamon is a blue Merle, but she is super smart like Abbey.  Cinnamon was very bonded to Abbey and it has been hard on her with Abbey gone.

The last day that we had together was a lovely day here in Michigan.  I was planting flowers and plants in various parts of the yard and Abbey was wandering around with me.  She would not settle down and kept pacing so I was always trying to find her.  Finally she did lay down and rested in the grass at the back of the house by the gazebo.  I was planting some flowers there for a while and pulling some weeds.  I decided I had enough and since Abbey seemed calm, I put my tools away and got out a pillow from the gazebo.  I put the pillow on the ground by Abbey and laid on the grass with my head on the pillow.  I stretched my arm out in front of me and Abbey laid her head over my arm in my hand.  It was breezy and the wind chimes were singing by our heads as we laid there soaking up the sun bits coming through the tree tops. It was peaceful and wonderful and horrible all at the same time as we only had that half hour before we had to go to the vet to let her go.  How can my heart be so filled with joy and so broken and full of tears at the same time?

 

The aftermath of the first night Abbey was with us

Charlie had dug Abbey’s final resting place before we left and I showed it to Abbey and told her it would be her new bed for her tired worn out fur.  I told her that SHE would be free to play and romp with BJ who passed on three years prior and that her fur would sleep here.  I told her that I would plant some flowers by her head and we trimmed up the tree branches so that we could place a glider underneath to sit.  I hung some bells and a few chimes on the big pine boughs and call them Abbey’s bells which I have to ring every time I go out to see her.  She chose to have Charlie put her final place next to Rowan on the one end and he had passed on 4 days prior.  She knew it was time but she did NOT want to leave us.  Her heart had developed a serious murmur a year prior, she was having difficulties walking and in severe pain every day…yet she did NOT want to go.  She was 15.5 years old and will be missed more than I can ever say.  I am sad when any of my animals die, but Abbey is the first of those that I just can not bear.

 

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A lot of passings…..

I haven’t wrote for a while as there has been so many passings happening here on Alba Ranch that it feels overwhelming.  I know that loss is part of life and particularly of ranch and livestock life, but sometimes things just get you down.

On my birthday, April 13, I lost one of my Nigerian does.  I have had high hopes for this gal since the day she was born.  She was born first and was rather small but spunky.  Her sister was much larger and thrived, until things went wrong and we lost her at 4 months old.  So Gracie was still in my mind a lot.

Gracie as a kid with her mom and sister

She was a doeling off the only daughter I had from one of my best does.  I had worked with her mother for ages but she just would not work with me.  I sold her to one of my friends and she is as good as gold with her.  We all have preferences and I just was NOT hers!  I was greatly looking forward to little Gracie growing up and being a solid steady milker in my herd.  She was pregnant and went into labour on my birthday.  This was her first and ended up being her last.  She had one buckling that was huge and stuck.  We tried to help her pull it, the vet tried, we finally had to put her down after making certain there were no other kids stuck behind the first one.  That buckling was super huge and took up all the space and of course had passed during the trauma of this delivery.  I lost them both that day.  That was my first time losing animals like this and particularly with the Nigerian dwarf dairy goat breed.  In 10 years of having goats, I had never had to go or even try to go into the back side of a goat and help pull a kid.  My hands were too large for her and a friend had to help and with her small hands there was just no moving that stuck kid.

We have lost 2 of a set of triplets this year.  One at birth and another that was weaker around 4-5 days old.  I have heard others talk about this as common place but in my herd this is not common place and was hard to handle alone as Charlie was off shore working.

 

 

Rowan March 2006-May 13, 2016

 

My Rowan, big boy, mama’s boy, Roweeeeeena….these were a few of the nick names that Rowan had.  He came to us in 2006 out in Colorado with his brother and my first pair of dairy goats.  He has been a loyal buddy and although he would guard the goats when I asked him….he really preferred to guard me…MOM!

Rowan in his fav spot guarding mom

This last three years he has only guarded part time in the summers as he has never been able to tolerate the cold well.  And he had been full time retired this last year into the house. He started limping on his front shoulder a year ago and it would go away, come back, go away,…and repeat.  He seemed ok in between bouts of limping and there were no apparent wounds, injuries, swelling, sores or anything.  I wondered if he pulled muscles when romping out in the pen with the other dogs.  During the winter we added some pain killers to his daily routine to help with the pain as it was becoming more regular with the coming part and less of the going away part.  I knew that he was not getting better and we had to make the decision to let him go on May 13 as he just couldn’t walk without extreme pain and that was with pain killers.  His shoulder had finally swelled up and even with essential oils and lavender, the swelling was going down but the pain and limping was not. He had no other health issues but being the big Anatolian boy that he was, his not being able to walk was debilitating for him and impossible for me to help him due to his size.  He was ready to go and it was a smooth passing without incident other my my heart cracking.  I still remember the day when he was about 2 years old and had been barking all night long for approximately 9 months….yes I said 9 months..that I told my husband Rowan was not going to make it to his 2 year old birthday as I was going to strangle him.  I didn’t mean it..honest …..and I miss him dreadfully.

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Blizzard Coming and Going

 

 

Today my heart is broke.

 

Blizzard (?-February 12, 2016)

My Blizzard died this morning at 5:30 am after a day and night of severe pain.  I know that it is better that she is gone and no longer in pain, but my heart is broke.  I hate losing an animal and know that they all have their “sell by dates” but when one goes and it isn’t an easy passing it tears at my heart even more.

Blizzard

Blizzard was a lovely border collie that we adopted in December 2006 while living out in Colorado.  Blizzard came to us that December and today it is a howling blizzard outside when she was leaving us.

She was a blue eyed double Merle border collie.  a Double Merle is a breeding done between parents that both carry the Merle gene.  There is a a 1 in 3 chance of the dog being Deaf, Blind and having genetic problems.  Blizzard was deaf and mostly blind.  This type of breeding should never be done but some breeders do it under the mistaken thought that they will get MORE Merle dogs to sell at a higher price.  We had adopted another double Merle Aussie with the same sort of problems.

She didn’t interact with people or with other dogs like a normal border collie and although it did take a long time, she did eventually bond with Charlie and I.  She was lost from her first family and was in a shelter.  I drove across Monarch Pass to the western slope to get her, meeting the shelter lady in Gunnison, CO. Blizzard and I drove back across Monarch Pass in my CJ7 Jeep that December.  It was one of my first long mountain trips to get an animal. Charlie and I had both seen her on different adoption ads at the same time and were emailing each other about her.

Blizzard

If the shelter was correct on her age, she was approximately 11 years old.  (She was with us for 9 years and 2 months.)  That would make her the YOUNGEST of my older dogs and I seriously did not see this coming.  We went into the vet on Monday because she had vomited on Saturday and wouldn’t eat anything that day.  She did eat a bit on Sunday but not like usual.  She looked bloated and was walking funny.  We found that her pancreas, gall bladder and liver were swollen.  Her blood work showed her pancreas and liver functions were not right but her gall bladder was fine.  She was also anemic.  We were treating her for pancreatitis and I had to change her diet.  She was getting cooked rice and chicken and had started to improve and was eating again.

 

Blizzard

Yesterday, I woke up and Blizzard wouldn’t take her pain meds that morning and refused to eat all day.  She did drink water but her bloated look which had started to decrease was back.  By bed time, she was starting to stagger because she appeared to be weak but still would not eat.  I called the vet and I was supposed to bring her into the vet at 7:30 am when they opened this morning, but she passed at 5:30 am.

My Darling Blizzard is gone and is already missed.

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Goat Milking Machine and Antique Desk

This weekend we finally got the milk machine put together.  I have been gathering photos, instructions, bits and pieces and all the various things we would need to do this.  There were a few problems with some of the bits so I had to go back to the hardware store several times to get ones that worked.

Hand made portable battery goat milk machine

But it is officially together and had suction on it just find inside.  Today I will be trying it outside to see how things go.  It achieves suction inside just against the palm of my hand so it will work with the teats.  I don’t know for certain if I need a smaller teat cup, so I have a couple of smaller ones ordered in case these are too big.  We used nylon washers and rubber washers on the underside of the lid so that there is NO big dollop of poxy crap that others have used and tote as “food safe” even though that horrid poxy is in the milk all the time.  We also don’t have any of the brass nuts inside either which the milk can corrode and cause toxic problems.

I stopped into a little antique shop last week, looking for an arm chair similar to the one that I used at A Sisters Act in Hart, MI on the UFO day.  I was spinning with my Majacraft Little Gem spinning wheel and liked the feel of the chair and position of my legs.  Recently, sitting on our couch even with the pillows and such behind my back to give me extra support and get me out of the back of the deep couch, has been causing pain.  After spinning for several hours at A Sisters Act, I thought to try to find a chair similar to the chair there.  It was one from the grandmother of the lady there brought over from Europe so there would be no buying that specific chair.

Birdseye Maple Antique Writing desk

I did not find a chair, but my eye was caught the instant I walked through the door by a lovely Birdseye Maple antique writing desk.  I went back later that day with Charlie to show him but they were already closed up for the day.  I did manage to find a phone number and talked with the shop owner and arranged a time to go see it the following day.  We were not sure going there but did come home with the desk.

Charlie had to fix the chains which had been put into new holes in the incorrect location so the fold down desk part wouldn’t sit properly.  He wood filled the current holes, fixed the old ones and a few days later attached the support chains correctly.  Cleaned up and ready to use.  We will need to find a new set of castors for it as the original ones are in the drawer but not in good shape at all.

Birdseye Maple Antique Writing Desk

I still haven’t found my chair, but the next time I am in Hart at A Sisters Act, I will stop and get a photo of it so that it will be easier to find one for my own spinning at home.

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Final Stone Projects for 2015

2015 has been a year doing a lot of out door projects.  Some stone, some planting, some gardening, some tree clearing, and a lot of general clean up as there has been a lot of junk on the property prior to us purchasing here.   The stone projects are numerous and seem to be ever growing as my creative mind gets loose and the property starts to take shape.  The Stones tell us where they want to be, so as we clear and tidy things up, it will become clear where they will end up eventually.

 

Stones waiting for placement next year

Field Stone Retaining embankment

We are clearing a small area that already has a merry go round and swing and have dubbed it “the park”.  We do plan on having a fire pit area and setting a lot of standing and recumbent stones for a stone circle and sacred place.

 

I have been working more on my garden area as the three stone raised beds that I planted this year yielded a large crop and even today on December 31, 2015 with snow and ice outside, still has Kale, onions, beets and some Rainbow Swiss Chard in it.  Many of my herbs are still growing, although I have lost my chives, basil, tarragon, and one of my more delicate thyme plants.

 

Dry stack raised stone beds and walk ways

I built three more dry stacked raised stone beds and did some path and walk ways around it in stones and gravel.  We did line those areas with some plastic underneath and used a deep bed of pea gravel because the soil is fertile and the weeds seem to run wild.

This will allow me to plant up a lot more vegetables for my family to grow our own food.  I have been trying to buy organic produce as much as I can, but there isn’t always a large selection in the area as well as the quality isn’t always the best.  I find eating the non organic produce and fruit a risk all the time.  Some is covered more in pesticides than others and I get sick or slightly sick depending on how much is on it.  I can’t wait until our fruit trees and vegetable garden is productive enough that I can grow our own food.  I have a lot to learn in how to do gardening successfully, how to control pests naturally, and how to preserve and can the food once I do get it grown.

Sea berry walk ways

I also did a section of two walk ways between the sea berries and most of the beds that are flower and ornamental around the property were lined with field stones to give a definite edge that was still organic.  It certainly helps when mowing and striming to know where to STOP when approaching the flower beds.

I was the only one that knew exactly where things were in all the beds and I still managed to strim off the heads of several of my lilies.  Although Charlie says that is due to me being “dangerous” with the strimmer!  I mean really, me???

Walk ways and curbed beds

Overall, I do believe the look is coming together.  I recently had someone asking me if I was going for a “show garden”.  BWWWhhhhaaaa, again….ME?  NOT!  It will never be a show garden as I hate weeding way too much for that.

I did hand pick out almost all these rocks and transported the bulk of them to the ranch myself.  I did have a few loads brought of large rocks and boulders, and also some loads of the field stone.  This is an on going project that will take a fair amount of years to complete.

I have the ideas in my head but have had a lot of help executing them with several local workers and Charlie helping out.  Charlie and I did place the paving and stones mostly ourselves but a lot of the prep work was helped with from others.  I have had several folks ask my how long it took me to build the three raised dry stack stone beds.  I usually respond that “We will not discuss that”.  It was not easy, I had to tear down most of what was there and re build it several times and I honestly don’t know if they will stay standing up.  Dry stacking stone walls is fun, difficult, beautiful, an art form and something I am uncertain if I ever wish to try again.  It sounds a lot easier in the books I read before attempting it.  Isn’t that how it goes?

Stone beds

The edgings all lined with rocks serves several purposes.  The rocks give a definite edge to the beds, they keep the weeds down and stop the advancement of the grass, it is organic and looks great, as well as it surrounds everything with lovely stone and rock energy.  It doesn’t hurt either that is just LOOKS cool!

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