altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
Today's schedule:

  • 5:30 am - Rise, take meds, record blood pressure, feed fish, wind clocks, check e-mail. (62 new messages)
  • 6:30 am - Go out and feed horses and ducks, dodging mosquitoes on the way
  • 7:15 am - Feed dog
  • 7:30 am - Breakfast
  • 8:00 am - Answer some e-mail, delete a lot of it
  • 8:30 am - Go out with husband to clean stalls, set up hay for next 24 hours, dodge more mosquitoes
  • 8:50 am - Chase neighbors' chickens out of garden
  • 9:00 am - Prepare sample recordings for musical group ThingamaJig consideration
  • 10:00 am - Update grocery shopping list, plan to shop after rehearsal
  • 10:30 am - Leave for ThingamaJig rehearsal, with stop at bank on the way to make a payment
  • 11:30 am - Rehearsal until 2:30 pm
  • 2:30 pm - Go to lunch with husband, stopping for gas and car wash on the way
  • 3:00 pm - Lunch
  • 3:15 pm - Hay supplier calls to ask if he can drop off a load of hay this afternoon
  • 3:45 pm - Finish lunch, plan to head straight home to meet hay supplier, skip grocery shopping
  • 3:50 pm - Discover that brake lights, tail lights, and rear turn signals are out on husband's car
  • 4:30 pm - Arrive home, chase neighbor's chickens out of garden, put Tess in her stall
  • 4:40 pm - Dismantle Tess' indoor portable pen to allow hay wagon to get into barn
  • 5:00 pm - Unload hay, working up a lot of sweat, write check for Sunday's & today's deliveries (ouch)
  • 5:45 pm - Examine brake lights, discover that a) the plastic housings for both lights have melted from
    the heat of the bulbs, making it very difficult to remove them; and b) both bulbs are broken
    apparently due to water from the car wash hitting them while hot; replace bulbs, reassemble
  • 7:00 pm - Feed other 2 horses and put them in their stalls, then discover that during the day a huge
    dead oak branch has fallen on their fence, knocking two rails out of it (fortunately horses
    are lazy and did not wander off)
  • 7:15 pm - Temporary repairs to fence; remove huge branch from dry lot; pick up after horses
  • 7:45 pm - Shower to remove sweat and mosquito repellent that made me sneeze but didn't work
  • 8:15 pm - Feed dog; fix salad for dinner, eat it
  • 9:00 pm - Sign into bank online and shuffle funds around so check to hay guy doesn't bounce
  • 9:15 pm - Let the dog out, he sniffs around but does nothing
  • 9:30 pm - Write this post
  • 9:45 pm - Go to bed knowing dog will want to go out at 11:00 and probably again at 2:00 am because
    he drank a gallon of water after eating his supper

Any questions?
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Yes, I know, official meteorological spring began a month ago and astronomical spring two weeks ago. But one of our significant measuring points was hit over the weekend: our ducks began laying eggs. The first two are in the fridge along with four more left in the hay storage by the neighbors' wandering hens.

Also, I got some sour jelly beans (Starburst, not the best ever but they'll do) so that annual requirement is met. I think last year I never found any at all.

It has been raining on and off for three days. Coming down fairly hard at the moment. I can hear it on the roof and hitting the skylight in the kitchen as well as dripping into the stovepipe (despite the fancy cap that is supposed to prevent that.)

Music chunterings )

Other than going out to care for the horses, I spent most of the day editing and arranging tunes for ThingamaJig. Tomorrow we should see a little more of the sun, but then they tell us to expect some actual snow. Had enough of that now, no thanks.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Too much stuff going on.

The most interesting to me, though (I'll avoid political rants for now) has to do with music.

Current musical developments )

In other news, the neighbors' wandering chickens are back again, as many as a dozen of them meandering around our yards and scratching holes in the ground. Just now we had two roosters in a knock down battle that got our dog Laddie all excited and worried. Gary had to literally kick them apart and chase them back toward home in the end. The way they were going at it, I figured the larger one was going to kill the other if left alone. He had the victim trapped in a fence corner and was stomping, scratching and biting for all he was worth. I'd have turned the hose on them except it hasn't been warm long enough for us to have put it out yet.
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
Some may have seen me talking about this on Twitter during the summer.

Last May two stray hens (no idea where they came from) started laying eggs in one of our barns. One of them had nested in stacked hay bales, the other on the flat top of a tack room (enclosed closet) about 8 feet above the floor. Both eventually sat on eggs for about 8 weeks without hatching any, and we removed the potential stink bomb eggs and figured that was that.

General birdbrain meanderings )
altivo: Plush horsey (plushie)
Like Jack's beanstalk in some cases (beans, cucumbers) and like a snail in others (peppers, tomatoes.) I think the potatoes are about done, but I need to dig down to make sure.

Here is yesterday's haul of cucumbers:


I do love cucumbers. However, since husband Gary dislikes them, I'm going to have a problem eating this many. I may have to make some pickles. Or feed them to the ducks if they keep producing at this rate.
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Once again I've taken too long a break from posting here. The winter has been made busy by several events, not the least of which is my planned retirement from full time library work. After June, I will be a greymuzzle pensioner, with more time for writing, music, gardening, and my pets. Of course that means helping to find and train my replacement. After twelve years in one job, there is a lot of stuff to organize and document and I've been kept very busy getting that done while keeping up with my regular responsibilities.

Meanwhile, my husband is getting near the end of his five year quest for the Ph.D. degree, which has also kept us pretty busy. Next week he will be presenting a paper at a conference, while I cover the animal care tasks he normally handles here at home.

Also some announcements on the writing front. First, I have two poems recently published. One gives a tortoise's view of history, and can be found at QuarterReads. The title is "Thoughts Chelonian." The second appears in a curated selection of furry poems at Adjective Species. The title is "Procyon Prowling" and the subject is a raccoon. I recommend the poems in that collection. They represent a wide variety of styles and formats, and an equally diverse viewpoints on furry subjects. Lunostophiles did a fine job of selecting them from the submitted works.

My story "Coyote's Voice" will appear in ROAR volume 6, to be released in July at Anthrocon if all goes according to plan. The publisher is Bad Dog Books, and the very competent editor for this issue is Mary E. Lowd, also known as Ryffnah.

I'm also currently engaged in writing the completing chapters of Oh, Ricky, the parody on Richard the Lion(heart) that some of you may remember from NanoWrimo 2011. I'm doing that in connection with this month's Camp NanoWrimo where I'm one of a dozen folks working together to prompt and encourage each other.

More as events develop. Thanks for reading.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Way too many things and stuff, actually. Both in terms of disruptive events and physical items to be sorted and, in at least some cases, eliminated. The house and garage are packed full, in part due to the passing of Gary's mom and sister-in-law at the end of last year. The calendar is full too, mostly with things I didn't choose to put there but alas, most of them require action on my part.

Long post under cut )

And that's where I've been. Still ticking, just way too busy.


Jan. 18th, 2013 04:22 pm
altivo: Clydesdale Pegasus (pegasus)
Last night as I sat reading by the wood stove, I was sure I smelled a skunk. Smelling one indoors in winter had to mean it was quite close by, so I checked to make sure the dogs were in, and quickly closed their door panel for a while so they couldn't go out. Thought the smell had subsided, so I unlatched the dog door again and Red immediately ran out, letting in another strong whiff.

Fortunately he didn't find the skunk. We looked around near the house and couldn't locate it, nor did we see any tracks on the snow. (The snow on the ground is only about a half inch deep and is fairly hard and crunchy now, so no tracks isn't really proof of much.)

I forgot about it until this morning when I went out to feed horses. Didn't notice anything until I'd given the boys their beet pulp and carried the bucket with Tess' portion over to her stall in the arena. Doors of both barns are closed at night this time of year, of course, to hold in what warmth we can and keep the wind out. When I opened the door to the arena, I was nearly knocked down by the stench of skunk, a mixture of rotten onions and who knows what else. Tess whickered at me and made faces, but she was OK. I felt sorry for her having been shut in all night with that (presumably) and hurried to open both of the large sliding doors. One of those is at the north end and the other at the south, so the air started to clear right away. Fortunately, Tess didn't seem to have lost her appetite either.

It was so powerful I was afraid it would cling to my hair and clothing, but it all blew away before I got back into the house. No obvious tracks in the arena dust either, but the skunk had surely been inside there. I hope it doesn't come back. Or that it goes back to wherever it was hiding and goes back to sleep. I didn't think skunks were supposed to be out and about at this time of year.
altivo: (rocking horse)
Starting the vacation countdown of using a vacation day every Monday for the rest of the year:

Saturday we prepared to receive a visit from Bearded Collie Rescue with Max, whom we proposed to adopt if he got along with our big retriever Red. Sunday afternoon, in the middle of a thunderstorm advisory, Mary arrived with Max and one of her own beardies, Sally. We had a nice visit, decided that Max and Red would get along fine, and signed the adoption agreement. Max stayed with us, and here he is exhausted and asleep on the kitchen floor.

Exhausted Max

Our new little boy (he is small for a beardie at just 56 pounds) will be eleven years old next month. He went through rescue and adoption once before, nearly ten years ago, and the same foster mom took care of him that time. Apparently his master has had to go into assisted living and couldn't keep him, and the woman (sister? wife? don't really know) who inherited responsibility for him really didn't want him. He is timid and afraid of noises and sudden moves, afraid to go outdoors by himself, and fearful about eating. We think he was sometimes locked out of the house in a yard, and that other dogs have bullied him and tried to steal his food. This is going to take some work, but he's worth it and deserves attention. A very sweet, gentle dog, but when he gets excited he "lights up" and bounces so we can see what he really should be like.

He's sleeping on the sofa next to me as I write this. He and Red are going to be competing for that spot, I can tell already.


Aug. 30th, 2012 08:48 pm
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
I shouldn't really be writing this, as the lies and false rhetoric of politics are making me violently ill.

However, on other topics. Call sign change is starting to roll now. A number of web sites and directories have picked up the change automatically. A couple implemented it only in part, and needed a nudge from me to put the pieces together. Still waiting on one, where I happen to have a radio-related web page that needs and alias changed. Volunteer administrators, so it probably will take until the weekend to get fixed.

NOAA predicts some rain for us out of the last gasp of the hurricane, but I'm not really anticipating much. We could use some, but it's really too late to save much. The big trees are dropping their leaves at an alarming rate now. I just hope we aren't going to have more dead ones come next year. The burst of grass growth that followed the rains a couple of weeks ago has dropped off when nothing but occasional dew followed. We really need more hay for the winter, and I can't afford to pay the prices being asked, This is not good.

Guild show coming up in a little more than two weeks, and we have only a handful of entries promised. I think this is the last year I will put my energy into that. If they want a show, someone else is going to have to do the arm twisting and organizing. On a brighter note, Gary and I finished the rehabilitation of an antique spinning wheel for friend and ex-boss Harriet, who is pleased to have it back. It now can actually be used for spinning again. We estimate the age of the wheel at something like 150 years. As you might expect, parts had to be fabricated, others were repaired or reinforced. We made no changes that can't be reversed, following the practices of good museum conservators. The whole thing took two years, but obviously we weren't working on it full time.

Hay there

Aug. 21st, 2012 08:59 pm
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
Or rather here. A load finally arrived this morning. This should be enough to get through the winter but we'd like this much again. And I can't afford to buy this much again right now. At least, not at $8 per bale. The hay is good, but has a high percentage of alfalfa which throws my feeding calculations off and will force me to rework everything.

Meanwhile, the horses are now eating beet pulp as if they always had it with their food. In fact, the two boys eat theirs first, before touching the hay. Tess is a bit more tentative, but she's been eating real grass the last few days and I'm sure mashed beet fiber hardly measures up to that. Her feed tub was nonetheless empty this morning, with lick marks on the bottom. I expect the same tomorrow.

It's darned good that we got rid of those sheep when we did. Otherwise, things would be looking really bleak here.

The little barn is starting to look like a test kitchen or some kind of laboratory, with work bench, sink, measuring implements, and galvanized cans of ingredients. Each horse has a white plastic "lunch bucket" with a lid that can be used to soak beet pulp and then measure grain and supplements on top. Then we carry it to their stalls and dump it inot the permanent feeders there. All the equipment was already here, scattered about in two barns and the garage. The plastic "sink" is a laundry tub on legs that we had intended to use to replace the old concrete and cast iron double tubs at our old house in Chicago but never got around to doing it. It has been sitting in the arena here for 14 years, unassembled. It works nicely in the little barn, where we have an on-demand water heater and good lighting. We could prepare complex rations there even in winter, though using the house kitchen will be more convenient once it gets below freezing out. I'll probably move the grain and fiber bins into the garage then and make "lunch boxes" up at the kitchen counter each morning.

Tomorrow, the farrier...


Aug. 3rd, 2012 09:31 pm
altivo: (rocking horse)
I've mentioned before the fact that we decided to rehome our flock of sheep. A friend of a friend expressed interest last week and an arrangement was reached. Yesterday afternoon our neighbors came over with their "sheep taxi" (think miniature horse trailer) and we loaded the critters up and hauled them away.

Well, it wasn't quite that simple. But Gary had planned well, and we got nine of the ten sheep into the trailer on the first pass. He stood on the rear to keep them in with a panel while we rounded up the one runaway: a wether who decided to go back to the pen in the barn rather than enter a strange trailer. Of course, once he was in the empty pen, he wasn't happy there either and wanted to be with the other sheep. On his second run down the chute he jumped right into the trailer, and we latched the door.

Hauled them 20 miles up to Capron, and they were all lying around in there, calmly chewing their cud, when we tried to unload them. They peered out the door into their new pen. It was bigger than the old one. Nothing doing. They stayed in the trailer. We put hay and sheep chow out. Still no response. Finally we started hauling them off the trailer one by one. After the fourth one was in the new pen looking around, the others decided to join them. Flock animals. Sheesh.

After eleven years, we're definitely ready for a break from sheep. They ended up in a place at least as good as where they were, and we get to 1) save money on hay this year, and 2) enjoy a baah-less autumn. Their new owners get to 1) train their border collie, and 2) learn about wool shearing and washing, and probably spinning. Good deal for everyone I think.


Jul. 9th, 2012 10:03 pm
altivo: Geekish ham radio pony (geek)
Raspberry Pi, that is. The tiny computer arrived today. In a tiny box. I do mean tiny. It is less than two inches square and an inch thick for the uncased board with all chips and connectors.

For those of you who don't yet know, Raspberry Pi is an inexpensive ($35) but full powered (750 MHz ARM11 processor, 256MB RAM, ethernet, USB, HDMI and RCA composite video output) computer designed for educational and experimental purposes. It can run Debian and other Linux distributions, or RISC-OS, using a USB power source and a 4GB or larger SDHC card for storage.

Can't test it until I assemble the needed peripherals and cables. USB keyboard and mouse are easy, I have stacks of old ones at work, left from dead machines that were recycled. USB power source I have. I need to get another SDHC card, but those are easy to buy. The main slowdown is that HDMI output. I think I have an old TV in the garage that will take the RCA composite input temporarily, but I'm sure the quality of the image is poor. I have to either buy a new monitor that handles direct HDMI input, or a monitor that takes DVI plus a converter cable, or a conversion box for HDMI to VGA plus audio. Since I have lots of VGA monitors around, I've settled on the latter and bought one off EBay this evening. Will need some cables and ultimately a case of some sort. There are lots of case options available online.

Saw a great horned owl this morning on the way to work. It was just sitting in a dead tree, about 30 feet up. No leaves, so easy to get a good look at it and I'm sure that's what it was. Haven't seen our young screech owls since Saturday night, but we haven't been here to watch every dawn and dusk either. Did see one very large, fat momma raccoon with 3 babies, though. And another weasel started to cross the road in front of me on my way home, but when I slowed down the little guy changed his mind and turned back just like the last one did.

Weather is much more pleasant now, but still no rain. Some clouds today, especially this evening, that looked hopeful but nothing came of it. Now ranked as the most severe drought in Illinois since 1988, which I do remember very well. The 1988 drought is considered the second worst for the state since records began back in the 1880s. I'm afraid hay is going to be very expensive, and we're trying to give away our sheep to anyone who will take them.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Well, except for dessert.

Spinners' newsletter edited and released. Heatwave subsided Saturday afternoon and today was a normal weather day for July. Tess got to go out into the drought-stricken pasture for a few hours and hunt for anything green that might have survived. Screech owls still visiting at dawn and dusk. Still no rain.

From scratch buttermilk waffles this morning. Created homemade pizza for dinner tonight, and baked a pie from a new recipe. "Old Fashioned Sour Cream Raisin Pie" is actually a custard pie made with eggs, sour cream, sugar, and raisins. (Can you guess I'm trying to use up eggs? Three ducks laying daily is too productive.)
altivo: (rocking horse)
We are independent. We did not grill anything. We did not set off any fireworks. (No, we're not responsible for the heatwave.)

We did wash the dining room windows so we can see the birds better.

We did replace our waterbed mattress with a brand new one. The bed frame and pedestal is 33 years old but I like it and I'm not giving it up. It's an enclosed box with mirrored headboard and ceiling made of dark-stained heavy pine boards. The mattress was 17 or 18 years old, and they are normally expected to last about 10. No wonder it had many patches. When it recently began to leak around the valve, I knew it was time. I ordered a complete new mattress setup, liner, mattress, heater, thermostat, and pad. About double what I paid last time for just the mattress and pad, but the technology has improved again. Getting the old mattress drained and removed was the hard part. The new stuff installed easily and fits perfectly (I hope.)

Not telling how much dog and cat hair was underneath the old mattress. How does it get all the way under there anyway?

The other highlight? Owls. Two young screech owls visited our birdbaths at dawn. And just after dusk they were there again, splashing in the water like songbirds. I've never seen an owl do that before, but I suppose they find this weather just as awful as we do.

Today's high here was either 101F or 97F depending on which thermometer you believe. It felt like 110F because there was plenty of humidity and no wind. Leaving the horses and ducks out in their yards again tonight rather than locking them up. We do put the sheep in, but they are recently shorn and their pen is just inside the large barn door that we leave open in summer. Particularly with the young lamb among them, I think it's better to bring them in.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
I only wish. And tomorrow is Wednesday, too. Weather not too horribly hot, yet, but still predicted to hit 100F by Thursday. And still no rain in sight. Everything is turning brown. The big trees are not showing signs of stress yet, but a lot of smaller stuff is.

Week old lamb has been tail banded and should be ready to rejoin the flock with mom tomorrow or the next day. She's growing fast and still curious and busy, which is a good thing.

Cataloged a substantial stack of books today, clearing my desk just in time for another shipment to land on it at 5 pm. Those get to wait until tomorrow.

Gary has a doctor's appointment in the morning, with blood to be drawn so no food for him after 9 tonight. He'll manage that but no coffee in the morning is going to be rough. Fortunately I go in late on Wednesday so I will cover animal chores in the AM.

And that's the news.


Jun. 25th, 2012 09:14 pm
altivo: Horsie cupcakes (cupcake)
But I wasn't there to help. Our shearer, Tom, was available on Monday afternoon. I much prefer to be there to help, but I had to work. Gary has done it once by himself before, but it's a really hard job for one. Fortunately our friend [personal profile] casey382 was able to come and assist him with managing the flock and moving them from place to place. We are extremely grateful for the help.

Shearing completed, all is well. Now we must find a new home for the sheep.

Still no rain, and none in the forecast. The last cold front lowered the temperature, but it won't last. By Thursday the daytime temperature is supposed to hit 100F.
altivo: Running Clydesdale (running clyde)
No, not because it's Gay Pride. No, not because it's Amateur Radio Field Day. Because it's the Midwest Fiber and Folk Fest AND the Day at Petersen Farm.

Gary had a musical commitment at Midwest yesterday afternoon, so I agreed to staff the spinning guild booth in that time slot. Thinking, silly me, that it would be like the equivalent slot last year, which was pretty quiet. Not so. I was swamped with people who wanted to buy our hand spindle starter kits and then get free lessons in how to use them. The fest is held in a county fair building, one of those steel barn affairs. Fortunately it is air conditioned sort of, unfortunately the acoustics are horrible. It's one echoing massive burst of white noise that pounds on the ears continuously. Since people interested in fiber arts are often older and don't have the best hearing, and that is compounded by the bad background noise, I shouted myself hoarse (not "horse") and came home with a sore throat and throbbing headache. We did, however, take in a nice lump of cash for the guild treasury.

Today was the Petersen Farm, a sort of farm history re-enactment. They have groups demonstrating all sorts of farm skills from the 19th century, and of course spinning, weaving, sewing, quilting are among them. Fortunately I sweet-talked a friend into helping me this year, since last year I did it alone because everyone else was at the Midwest event. The bribe was a picnic lunch, which succeeded beyond expectations.

Friend is a vegetarian, so I promised home baked pita pockets, home made hummus, and a green salad from the garden. Well, the garden pretty much bolted in the heat last week, so most of the greens came from a local produce market but the salad was still a success: romaine, bronze leaf lettuce, arugula, cilantro, snow peas, tomatoes, vidalia onion, and fennel (packed with ice in a zip lock bag to keep it crisp, which worked perfectly.) Whole wheat pita pockets baked last night, two flavors of hummus (roasted red pepper, garlic) and diced tomato and onion with vinegar and olive oil. California merlot disguised in a thermos bottle that held it at exactly 67F, and a cute picnic set in a backpack that included plaid tablecloth and cloth napkins, wine goblets, retro plastic handled flatware, plates, bowls, corkscrew, breadknife and cutting board. We got a great laugh out of it all and lunch was delicious too.

Still have a sore throat, wondering if it's seasonal allergies kicking in or a cold coming on. Today's headache is from being in the bright sun for seven hours. And tomorrow the sheep shearer cometh...
altivo: Blinking Altivo (altivo blink)
Shortly after I got to work this morning, Gary called me. He was calling to tell me we now have ten sheep. It took a moment for that to sink in. Last night we had nine. A completely unexpected lamb was born this morning, a tiny black ewe with huge ears. She seems to be doing fine, eating and exploring on shaky legs.

Anyway, we had already been talking about getting rid of the entire flock if we can find someone to take them. We'll give them for free to anyone who can pick them up here, and who wants them for wool, or to use in sheep dog training or testing. A potential 4H project perhaps? Anyway, if there are no takers then in another month or so we'll be taking them to an auction. We've gotten a lot of amusement out of the sheep, as well as considerable frustration. It has been eleven years since the first one (the only one we paid for, BTW.) That was our foundation ram, Shaun. He's been gone for a couple of years now, but his offspring live on after him. We have ten sheep ranging in age from a few hours to more than eleven years.

Since I've registered to attend Indy Fur Con in August, and their theme is "Furs in Space," I've been debating how to add that theme to Argos, my white wolf suit. Gary had the winning suggestion, I think. Dr Who, Tom Baker era. I have the scarf around here somewhere that I knitted. All I have to do is find a suitable floppy hat. And maybe a sonic screwdriver?

No rain

Jun. 12th, 2012 09:19 pm
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Once again the predicted rain misses us. Things are getting seriously dry now. Those fires out west look even more frightening in that context.

The summer reading tide may be starting to ease off. It will take three weeks or so for it to calm down, though. I meant to check yesterday's door count, but forgot to look at it. Maybe I can remember tomorrow.

Started setup of the last new Userful station. This one will have a full complement of six stations and is to replace our six year old five seater. I'm still not sure that all those wide screen monitors are going to fit comfortably into the allotted space, though.

Aside from worrying about drought, the weather has been beautiful. Blue skies, cool breezes. The temperatures are running a bit low, and that is probably also a contributor to keeping the normal thunderstorms off the horizon.

Keeping Tess's hooves pliable is a major concern in this dry weather. We don't have much dew to wet her feet when she goes out to the pasture, so we're painting her front feet with Rainmaker almost every day. She's good about it, since we give her a treat afterward, but the stuff is smelly and clings to you if you even get the tiniest fleck on your clothing or skin. I have to say, though, it works. Her feet are looking really good compared to what they often do at this time of year.

Now to get the sheep sheared. Bah! Not fun, but necessary so they don't die of heat exhaustion when it does finally get hot.

August 2017



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