Friday, June 26, 2009

Genevieve and Cookies and Cream

Here is Genevieve (on the left) and Cookies and Cream. At least she had six nice months feasting on grass. That's not their pasture they're standing in; it's the barnyard, which has no grass. The pasture is way off in the background. Belties and bird nests--works of art.
Rest peacefully, Genevieve.

Golf Cart Curly

Here's golf cart Curly, our Selkirk rex cat. A rex cat has curly-coated fur. In a Cornish rex, the haircoat is short; in a Selkirk rex, the haircoat is longer. Curly sort of looks like a feline poodle. He loves speeding in the golf cart. He sits beside me, looking out at the woods, his nose pointed into the wind. I don't hold him or restraint him in any way. He truly loves his ride. But he does have a limit. After about a half hour of bumping around in the cart, he wants out. I think he gets nauseous if the ride is too long.
One time he and I were racing alongside Bo's pasture. At the end of the fence, I had to make a sharp left-hand turn. I kind of forgot about Curly sitting alongside me. When I swung the wheel to the left, we whipped around the corner, and Curly went flying right out of the cart into the soft alfalfa. I stopped the cart, backed up, apologized profusely, and Curly jumped back in. I always remember to take that corner slower now.

Bo: The Big Flapper

Here's my four-year-old horse, Bo, otherwise known as Bo-Bo, The Bo-ster, Bodel-ee-o-do, and, finally, The Big Flapper. Why the Big Flapper? Every morning around 6 AM he sticks his head out his window and whinnies for his breakfast. He jolts us upright in bed. I say, eyes crusted over with sleepy dirt, "Well, Bo has the biggest flapper around--for a horse. None of our other horses ever yelled like that." Then we get up and paddle downstairs, sure to hurry because if we don't get out to the barn pronto, The Big Flapper will have something to say about it.
See the white tail? The bird used some for its nest.
Next: a picture of Curly.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My promise

I have looked at a number of blogsites--just to make sure I was doing things correctly, not that I ever was obsessed with convention or doing what everyone else does. But something struck me as I read some of these blogs. The blogger sites tend to be overrun with neophyte philospher kings. For example, they tell a story then go on to proselytize about how to behave or how to feel or how to make the most of life. "The moral of the story is yada, yada, yada."
My aim with my blog is not to tell or advise you on how to live your lives. I will try my darnedest not to sermonize. If I want to say something profound, I'll try to keep it brief. In short, I promise not to preach, for preaching is self-serving and allows one to place him or herself above others. I am above no one. Hey, was that sermon-like? I hope not.
So, I promise not to blogosophize, okay?
What I want to do in my blog is entertain, tell you stories about our animals, other peoples' animals, and the honesty of animals. I want to entertain. If I slip into blogosophizing, scold me: scold me well.

I am, admittedly, a bit of an odd sort. After a terrific wind storm, I was giving Curly, our Selkirk rex cat, his daily ride in the golf cart. Yes, we have a cat, actually two cats, who love to feel the breezes rushing through their fur as I fly with them on the cart around the out-lying pastures and around our woods. Anyway, a bird's nest had been dislodged from its tree branch and lay on its side in the driveway.
I stopped the cart and got out, picking up the nest and setting it alongside Curly. Such a nicely built structure I had seldom seen: fine pieces of straw so tightly knit together with strands of horse hair--some of it white, which had to have come from my horse, Bo's, tail, and all stuck together with what looked like dried mud, probably from the pigs' wallow. Such work, such determination, such drive went into the building of a nest, I thought. It resembled a hollowed-out grapefruit--heavy, pleasingly palpable--a pretty neat feat of engineering--for a birdbrain.
Somehow the bird's nest ended up in the back seat of my car, and when we took my parents for lunch today, my mother laughed as she crawled alongside me in the back.
She said, staring at the nest on the floor in front of her, "You've got a bird's nest in the car?"
"Yep," I said. "Isn't it neat!"
"What are you going to do with it?"
"Put it on the mantel."
"You're nuts," she said, laughing.
"Yep. I've got a collection of bird nests I've found around the patch. They're all lined up over the woodstove on the mantel. "
With some incredulity, my mother said, "Why?"
"They're the finest art pieces--ever. Why wouldn't I want to display birds' nests? Now, that's the question."
"You're weird," my mother said and laughed.
"Yeah. I know."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


In December of 2008, right around Christmas, I saw an article in "Hobby Farms Magazine" about Belted Galloway cattle--black and white STRIPED cattle. They looked like walking Oreo cookies, and, in the pictures, they stood out beautifully against the verdant pasture. I pleaded with Edgar to buy me one for Christmas--it was the only thing I wanted. Just a pet, to look pretty in the pasture. He said we had enough animals, but he grudgingly agreed. It was Christmas, after all.
I went straight to the internet and googled "belted Galloways," a breed of cattle native to Scotland and very rare in the U.S., except in the New England area. Anyway, through networking with members of this breed's society, I found a farmer with a herd of them around Lancaster, PA. I made an email, a phone call, and we were on our way to see them two days later.
At the farm I was deciding which of two bull calves to buy. As usual, I couldn't decide between the two, so I decided that I would have to get both, if I got any at all. Then I inquired about one old cow standing in the middle of the pasture. She was skinny, and she clearly didn't look happy being knee-deep in a dry lot--no grass and no evidence of anything dry. The pasture was mud and cow manure piled a foot deep.
"That's Genevieve--that old cow over there you're looking at. I'm going to make hamburger out of her soon. She's ancient," the farmer said. The cow looked even more forlorn, almost as though she could understand what he was saying.
I was crushed, and I knew immediately I had to do something. "Oh, no you don't. I want her. Let me give her a good home with nice grass. Please, let me buy the cow," I said. I knew farmers had no compunction about butchering their animals, but I couldn't stand by and let him make meatloaf out of her.
"Well, I can get $1,000 for her if I make hamburger out of her."
My hair was standing up on my arms. I tried to be nice. "Let me ask you how many calves she's given you in her lifetime here on your farm."
He began counting. "Huh, well, I bought her from someone who had her for a bunch of years. And she's given me nine calves."
"Don't you think you owe her a little something? Don't you think you ought to want to give her the last few years of her life in a nice place where she has a dry place to sleep and a lush pasture?"
"Listen, lady," he said, with crossed eyebrows, "that's not how we do business."
I said, "Well, just because other farmers do business that way doesn't mean you have to do it the same way. Do the decent thing: let me buy her."
"You can have her for $1,000."
"No," I said. "I want you to give her to me because she's been a good cow and has given you many calves. She has helped support you and your family, along with all the other cows in this mudlot."
"Lady, I can't do that. I can get at least a grand for her for hamburger."
I thought a moment, arms across my chest.
"Well, I'll give you a hundred bucks for her. She's fourteen; she could drop over the minute she gets to our place."
"Oh, lady! You're killin' me."
I was desperate to save the old cow. I had no compunction in giving him an ultimatum. He had gotten enough out of this poor cow. If I had anything to do with it, he wasn't going to grind her up. I said, walking away. "Okay, then, I'm not buying these two bull calves."
"If you don't allow me to take Genevieve for a hundred bucks, I'm not buying these other two young calves. There's another Belted Galloway place in Jersey. I'll buy them there. These two boys are going to be pets--just hang around our place and look cute. Sell me Genevieve, and I'll buy these two guys right here, right now. Don't sell her, and you don't get this deal either. She deserves better than to be made into hamburger."
Then, Edgar raised an eyebrow. He saw the look in my eyes and knew, as far as I was concerned, that it was a done deal. But he tried anyway. "Gay, we only came here to get one Belted Galloway. Now you want three?"
The farmer was still thinking. He didn't want to lose the deal for the bull calves, and, deep down, I think he really did want to give his old cow a good home for the rest of her life.
"Well, okay. But you're killin' me."
Genevieve and the two boys were delivered the next week. They literally danced into the lush, green pasture. While the boys romped up the hill, Genevieve slowly walked after. She couldn't believe her eyes: grass everywhere, hardly any flies buzzing around her head, no muck squishing up between her hoofs. She was in heaven.
This morning, June 23, 2009, Genevieve ate her breakfast of grain and went out to pasture with the boys. When Edgar was putting gasoline into his mower, she walked up the hill to the barnyard. He called out her name as was his custom, and she passed by--on a mission to the barn.
This afternoon I pulled the golf cart alongside the barnyard while Edgar put away the mower. I looked up, and Genevieve lay out on her side in the shed Edgar and I had built especially for the Belties. She was dead.

I'm sad that Genevieve couldn't have had more time with us and grazing with contentment in her lush pasture. She had had a tough life, pushing out calf after calf every year and standing around in muck most of the time. I had wanted to show her more appreciation and that a person could really care about her--for a longer time than just six months.
My Genevieve.

Monday, June 22, 2009

MOrgan horses need homes. Please help. Please go to this site and read about several Morgan horses that are in need of homes. Send the link around to your horse people--only people who can give good homes, please. If you cannot adopt one of these horses, send a couple of bucks to help care for them while people look for homes for them. Thanks very much for your support. Animals are such grateful companions.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

clown fish is a clown

This morning we cleaned out our 200 gallon saltwater aquarium. My husband, Edgar, was whisking algae from the glass walls, but the little clown fish resented the intrusion. Throughout the brushing of the walls, the clown fish darted after the long-handled brush, biting, threatening to tear it to shreds if it didn't get out of his tank. Edgar and I laughed as the brave fish took on this brush that was at least twenty times taller than he or she. The more Edgar swiped away algae, the more the clown fish attacked the brush. Edgar could feel the tiny fish-bite vibrations go up through the brush and into his hand. When he finished, the fish calmed his fins and hovered in one place; he looked very proud of himself, for, for sure, the monster brush had been scared away by his attacks, he probably thought.
I learned two things from this experience: little occurences in life comprise much of the joy and laughter. Also, just because an animal is a fish, a guinea pig, a rat, a fly, doesn't mean he or she doesn't have personality.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My first blog

My dear brother-in-law, Bruce, helped me create my blog, which I mistakenly called a "Blob," being the most untechnical person I know. We had a good laugh over that.

Anyway, I'd like to hear from readers of my books, TOUCHED BY ALL CREATURES; LOWELL: THE TRUE STORY OF AN EXISTENTIAL PIG; and LIONS & TIGERS & MARES--OH, MY!

Reader: Tell me you have loved my books, please. And you can whisper that I could have done some things differently. I appreciate constructive, nice criticism of my works. Tell me what you'd like me to write about--it has to be about animals.

Also, if you know of any publishers, direct them my way for my next three manuscripts, please: THERE'S A BEAR IN THE BASEMENT, THE CELEBRATED PET: HOW AMERICANS MEMORIALIZE THEIR ANIMAL FRIENDS(,
and THE SUMMER OF RUSTLE. I know plenty of my friends and readers can't wait for the next book to come out. My agent and I are trying really hard to get these published. Of course, the economic times are against us, but the truth is that animals and stories about animals are a big draw, no matter the world condition. Animals keep us entertained and honest. Honesty, in my opinion, is any person's best trait.