Friday, August 20, 2010

Close Call

Mojave Rattlesnake aka Mojave Green

Last night while out playing with the dogs where we always play a couple hundred feet from the house, I was in flip flops and shorts, wasn't watching where I was walking, turned my head and saw a snake stretched out about 5 feet in front of me.  Luckily the dogs were about 10 feet away from me occupied by a squirrel hole.  I had never seen this snake before, but immediately was struck by its green hue.  I thought to myself it looked like a rattlesnake, but the color was off.  We put the dogs inside the fenced area, went back out and threw a stick at it.  Sure enough, the rattle went off and it darted under some brush we had laid there for future burning (big mistake!).

I got online and quickly discovered that what is on our property is a "Mojave Rattlesnake" also called a "Mojave Green".  They are thought to be the most poisonous snake in North America!!  Sure enough, though, diamond pattern fading about 2/3rds down the body, green hue, black and white alternating rings where the rattler is.  No mistaking it.

A rattlesnake's venom is normally "hemotoxic" which results in swelling, tissue damage and disrupts blood clotting, etc.  But, the Mojave Rattlesnake is unique in that its venom is "neurotoxic" and causes neurological symptoms, paralysis, and can result in death due to respiratory paralysis.

Of course, by the time we figured out what was on our property, it was dark and too late to go do anything about it!  But, now the hunt is on.  As much as I hate to harm anything, this guy or gal has got to be removed from the property, and since I'm not in the business of snake trapping, the gun is the only way I know how!  Especially since we read they give live births to 9 to 11 babies in July or August.  I don't need a Mojave Green colony hanging out near my home and the area the dogs love to play.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Views on Animals & Responsibility

More often lately I have been hearing of people getting rid of animals because they "don't work out".  Well, this is just a short post on my views of animals and our responsibility towards them.  My belief is that we are responsible and accountable for the animals we choose to live among us.  Once domesticated and acquired, it is our job to provide for them.  As the quote from  in Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry's The Little Prince reads, "You are forever responsible for what you tame".  And as the Bible proclaims we have dominion over nature, this dominion implies responsibility, not abuse or neglect.  I think too often people have good intentions but their desire for pleasure or reward exceeds their desire to work for a good relationship with the animals they chose.  You see that a lot in human relationships also as you glance at divorce statistics and at the ease of slipping out of commitment as easily as one slipped in.  With freedom comes responsibility. 

Of course there are times when we give it our all and the animal just doesn't fit in with our family or lifestyle.  I understand that.  And, when someone has given an honest attempt, sometimes the best thing to do is to find it a better home where there will be a better environment.  But, more often than not, I think it's when animals are acquired, quickly tired of and then passed on to someone else.  Whether it's a dog, goat, horse, sheep, pig, chickens or what-have-you, I think it's important to research the animal you are wanting to acquire.  Do you have a suitable environment for it?  Do you have the proper housing/fencing for it without constricting it to an unnatural amount of space causing difficult or aggressive behaviors and temperament?  Do you have the necessary skills to work with the particular animal, or a mentor who can assist you?  Can you afford vet bills should it become sick?  Do you have enough time to dedicate to the animal?  Is it a herd/pack animal or will it do well alone?  Do you have enough knowledge and understanding of the animal's behaviors?  If a dog, what breed are you looking to get and what is their personality like and do you have the skills to train? 

I see the biggest mistakes occur with dogs.  People often choose a dog for its looks and don't research the breed.  I'll never forget the miniature Collie kept in the condo above me several years ago as the owner worked all day and the dog ran and ran and barked and the man would come home and yell at the dog cause it wasn't a "good dog".  Um, excuse me, but you are confining a herding dog to a condo, alone with little exercise?  Or, when people live rurally and get a flock guarding or herding dog but forget that just because it's instinctual for that breed, the dog still requires a tremendous amount of training do do what it was bred for.

In the end, the animals lose.  They get passed on, or neglected or ignored, or yelled at or hit and sometimes even worse.  The people reading this are most likely not the people I'm talking about.  And, I'm not being critical or holier than thou.  Just concerned for the animals and the prevalence at which I've been seeing this lately.  Often times it's done with a combination of  ignorance and good intentions.  So, if you know folks getting ready to get a new animal they have never had, maybe talk with them a bit.  I guess this is my rant and my attempt to talk a bit about something that bothers me.  It's up to us to look out for the critters.  They are dependent upon us - whether they are pets, for work or for food - we still have an obligation to provide them with safety and a good environment and interaction (either with us or other animals).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Heck, Who Needs to Hire a Farrier?

Aside from learning to ride Mickey the zany Thoroughbred, I've also been getting good lessons on farrier skills.  I'm doing pretty well, I think, because it's been over six months since I've had a professional farrier out and Mickey's feet are looking great!  I'm lucky (and she is, too) that she has good, strong hooves and I don't have to put shoes on her.  I'm not quite sure I'd be doing so well at that!  Plus, I prefer to keep her barefoot as it's natural and better for horse's feet.  I keep her trimmed and filed and the work is very rewarding.  It's one thing to ride my own horse, but I find the pleasure and reward double as I'm learning to care for her in many other respects.  I've only been stepped on once, and I learned quickly where to keep and not keep my own feet!  I only hopped around, rolled around the dirt crying for a short while before I was back at it.  I find learning all the related horse skills very important and it helps keep me self sufficient and helps financially as well.  My goal is to be able to perform complete care of her so when living in a more rural environment, I won't have to depend on others to care for my animals.  It's a lot of work, but the satisfaction is worth every moment of time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tricky Mickey!

Falling asleep before getting tacked up... but not for long!

Mickey the thoroughbred keeps me feeling alive and happy these days!  She's an amazing test of patience and will power and I find out how much I believe in myself as the former two qualities have to adjust and know when to take a back seat to each other.  I could just give up after all.  She always takes my to the edge and intuits when to stop before going too far.  I look back and I've learned a lot.  I just can't believe someone left her standing lame in a stall for so long and would neglect such an amazing and beautiful animal.  She keeps me safe every time she allows me up on her.  I love the smells... horse sweat, hay, saddles, chaps... it takes me away from anything and everything I might want a break from.  Even though you sometimes hop, resist, pop your hind end just a tad, and often canter much faster than I'd like, I'm always left with a smile and it's the only time I feel like I can fly!  Cantering on this beautiful 16.3 hand mare is just like I'm flying.  I'm in the zone.  I think everyone should have a horse!  Thank you, Mickey!  I'll get you to your green pasture, yet.  I promise.

Beautiful, isn't she?

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My, How Things Have Changed...

Wow, back in 1917, our government stressed responsibility, duty and self reliance regarding our food.  What a shift, huh?  Now cities and suburbs are having to lobby and fight for permits to have a couple hens in their yards and big agribusiness doesn't want the competition.  Well, that's all I'll say about that.

Beauty - Plain & Simple

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Think I Can! I Think I Can! ... Follow the Dream

I love the story about "the little train that could".  It's a good reminder of an attitude we might all try adopting.  Sometimes following a dream can feel like pushing against insurmountable obstacles that will never end.  Stand back... maybe while you've been knocking and banging persistently on a certain door to open, there may be an open one right next to it... or a way through above or below it.  But, I think there's always a way.  Sometimes my dream seems so distant, and other days like a couple weeks ago before the home inspection revealed additional problems, it felt within reach.  A client called these types of problems "first world dilemmas".  I laughed.  How true. 

I have my health, I'm self employed, have  friends and I need to keep telling myself, "I think I can!".  Pessimism and resignation are never very attractive or healthy attitudes to adopt.  Yes, everyone has their moments, and when we get there I encourage talking to someone you trust about it, avoid the temptation to hibernate and soon time will remove cloud.

My dream - to have my little chunk of land in the Ozarks, grow a lot of my own food, raise my animals, live with the land and become part of the cycle of interdependency.  Good community and good friends.  Helping others and receiving help when needed.  Idealistic??  I think I can!  I think I can!  I'm gonna keep chugging away.

Tell, me - what is your dream??  I'd love to hear and have you share. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CJ, the House Painter

Still wondering how he got paint on the face and paw.  If there's a way, this dog will find it.  Working hard to get this home ready to sell!  Hopefully, we'll have it ready to list in about 4 or 5 weeks.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Bird Netting - Bird Deterrent or Snare?

I have a pomegranate tree which the birds got to last year and destroyed every pomegranate on it.  Being that pomegranates are one of my favorite fruits, I wanted to keep them from the birds this season.  So, around late Spring, when the blooms started to form, I went and bought some bird netting to keep the birds out.  Problem solved, I thought.  For many trees that grow higher off the ground, most of my "crises" wouldn't have occurred, but since pomegranates are lower and shrubbier, I figured out the hard way.  I had the netting pulled up around the trunk by the ground and tried to seal all entry points where the two ends met.  After yesterday, I have had enough and my days of bird netting are over - the birds can have the fruit!

My first mini crisis occurred when a humming bird had somehow found its way inside the netting and could not get out.  It took two of us and over 5 minutes to get it to leave the exit we created.  Then there were the large lizards that went to the base of the tree and got hung up in it - and when they get hung, they struggle and get themselves wound up even tighter.  I cut about 5 lizards out to freedom.  Next was the rabbit who probably came to the base for water after I watered the tree - we got him free.  Last week, two beautiful, non poisonous snakes had slithered up into the tree and died after they got wound up in it and pulled the netting tighter and tighter as they tried to get free.  Yesterday was the deal breaker as a small chipmunk had his back leg caught and the netting was cutting into its foot as he tried to get loose.  I cut him out of the netting, he scampered away, but in some pain, I'm sure.  Part of this was operator error I'm sure as I should have got the netting completely off the ground, but some of the "snarings" would have occurred regardless.  So, for those of you considering bird netting, maybe consider a different option or just do it a very different way.  The fact they sell little "stakes" with the netting means it is meant to be secured to the ground in many cases, but this doesn't so much keep birds out as it acts as a trap and snare for the various critters coming and going on your property.  Looks like no pomegranates again this year!  Birds win.