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Our feathered friends.

As you go about your winter tasks in the yard, please remember to feed the birds. It has been strangely quiet around El Rancho Pig Sty-o. Time to bring the birds back.

We have several types of feeders. The tube feeders for wild bird mix and sunflower seeds are popular with the songbirds. Hanging platform feeders so the birds can get in there and snack seem to be a hit for our feathered friends. The downy woodpeckers and marauding squirrels like suet feeders.

I dropped some bucks on new feeders when I had some gardens re-landscaped. The result was beautiful. However nothing, not even a squirrel baffle, can waylay the plans of these little thieves. They even jump off the roof to land on the feeders. They can go through one suet cake in a day. Want to know a secret? I love to watch the squirrels and their gymnastics. Back in Highland Park, where I was born and raised, there was a neighborhood squirrel my sister trained to eat out of her hand. Radcliffe was with us for many years of delight.

Feeding birds in the winter can help drive off the blues of those cold, dark winter days. Our cats are in feline heaven, chirping at the birds through the window. How nice it is to take a time out from a busy day to sit on the floor in the dining room with Matthew on my lap, noting what species came for a snack. Wish we had Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, my favorite bird. They live east of here, but I have seen one here exactly twice. Once in my yard, once up in the mountains. That was in 1980. We can but hope.

Much has been said of diseases birds can get from feeders. Start with clean feeders, disinfected then rinsed well, and there should be no problem.

Oh, about winter tasks-forgot to put straw in the rose gardens. Oops! I hope it’s not too late after a few below zero days. 

Frigid weather: Husky nirvana.

It’s been pretty cold here. The Wonder Husky goes out in the morning when I feed the horses. She usually stays out for a long time. This is weather designed for Siberians!

When I take her out, I bring a pitcher of water for her dog bowl and some chow. Of late, the water in the bowl is frozen solid. One of these days I expect to bring her in with the bowl swinging from her tongue.

Whatever breed of dog you have, check carefully on your its welfare in the cold. When Tipper yips, that means she wants to come in. Dogs should never be left in severe cold. They can contract cold-related illnesses just as we can.

I find it charming that Tipper digs holes in her dog pen, a rather large area with a doghouse that used to be my sister-in-law’s playhouse. The dog pen borders the corral where Tip plays with the horses from her side of the fence. They like to play with her. Her house even has a porch where Tip likes to hang out to watch for foxes so she can use her special fox bark, “BAR-OOOOO.” Note that huskies don’t bark, they sing.  When it is cold Tip goes to her largest husky hole, burrows in and positions herself just as Iditarod dogs do-curled in a ball with her nose tucked into her tummy.

An Iditarod dog she is not. We laugh at her and tell her if she were to go to the Iditarod she would need a heated tent, special dog boots, and servants. Now that she is twelve, she doesn’t mind the humor so much. At age 12, she would be retired from competition now as, in her mind,  a  champion. She is a champion to us, too.

The Midlife Crisis Queen publishes her first book!

Laura Lee Carter’s brand new book, The Midlife Crisis Queen’s MIDLIFE MAGIC: Becoming the person you are inside! has been published. Congratulations, Laura Lee!

I started reading this book while contemplating going outside in six-degree weather and snow. I think I’ll read the book!

Laura’s book is a positive outlook on middle age, and how changes in our lives are not as horrible as we think they are, but they can be the impetus for a better life.

As one who has had many life changes, I can tell you this book talks directly to the reader. The book has quotations interspersed in the text. I particularly like J.K. Rowling’s quote: “Rock bottom became the solid foundation I built my future success upon.” Good words from a woman who was a single mom on assistance when she sat at a café to write the first Harry Potter book. Rowling has enjoyed much fame and success, and is richer than the Queen.

Best wishes to my friend Laura Lee, the Midlife Crisis Queen

Bad dogs? No! Bad dog owners.

I went to the courthouse this morning to find the owner of the rental property where the dogs and irresponsible owners live. Next, I called the man who, with his wife, owns the house, and several others in the neighborhood. A formal report also went out in the mail to Animal Protection and Control.

We had a nice conversation after getting past the “My wife handles that stuff” part. As a landlord myself, I assured him that I understood his problem. Most likely, the owners of the dogs haven’t taken out insurance on them. In any case, any damage done by at-large dogs comes down to the responsibility of the property owner. I want to be proactive. I don’t want my horses hurt. I don’t want to get hurt and have to sue.  I couldn’t  handle more trauma to my leg. These injuries take a long, long time to heal, if in fact they do heal. All I want him (or his wife) to do is have a chat with the renters about dog responsibilities. The violations they incurred were two: dog off leash and public nuisance. Dog off leash refers to any time a dog is not restrained by a leash or behind a fence. Dogs can’t even sit on the lawn without restraint. Public nuisance refers to a dog that approaches you, your dog, or in the case last week, the horses. Ordinances are readily available for the public to access.

Our dog is properly controlled, and she is kept safe from  harm. 

If, as happened with the incident the other day, parties involved in these dangerous violations insist on not changing their ways, laughing and leaving the scene, or refusing to conform to city ordinances; I guess all I can say is remain well-insured.

Deja vu all over again.

 After the dog pack in the corral incident the other day, I thought the neighbors would get wise. Nope.

Less than a week after their dogs were chasing our horses and their pals next door into frenzy, I took the Wonder Husky for a walk. Suddenly, from the other side of the street, came a mass of flying fur that clipped me on my rebuilt leg. The dogs crashed into Tipper, age 12, knocking her flat, snarling and trying to bite her. I screamed. One of the dogs was the brown mutt that was in the pack.

I shouted to the young woman and her boyfriend with some unrepeatable vocabulary words. She denied being the owner of the dogs from the other day. Did they offer help? No. Did they apologize? No. They got the dogs into her Lexus SUV that Daddy probably bought her so she be safe driving home after a party and drove off. The only thing that happened was the boyfriend laughed at me as I called animal control on my speed dial and gave them the license number of the car.

When dog incidents happen on our walk, if the owner is kind and apologizes, I am usually nice and don’t press charges. This time, these idiots are going down. I have reports to file, and am finding out who owns the student rental so I can complain. I’m sure vicious, at-large dogs are not covered by homeowner’s insurance.

I carry a phone when I’m out and about. Sometimes I carry spray, which, when used could backfire. I’ll revert to taking my nine iron, I guess. The unfortunate thing is that it’s not the dogs’ fault. But you can’t use a nine iron on a person.

The water is frozen and I’m thirsty!

The coming of winter brings special concerns for horse owners. Access to fresh water can be difficult when the temperature begins to drop.

With the exception of oxygen, a deficiency of water produces death more rapidly than a deficiency of any other substance.

The average-sized horse needs about ten gallons of water per day. Horses at work need even more. According to Dr. Lon Lewis’ “Care and Feeding of the Horse,”  when water is readily available, increased water consumption occurs as a result of increased drinking frequency. There is a direct correlation between drinking frequency and ambient temperature, with a large increase in frequency at temperatures above 85 degrees. When water is readily available, most horses drink once for only about 30 seconds or less every few hours. If water is not readily available, more and longer drinks may be taken during a drinking bout.

Where we live, beginning around the end of October, it is necessary to keep a close eye on the water tank. We begin to heat the water about that time  so the water does not freeze. A careful eye must be kept on the water supply daily. We do not have automatic waterers, where the horse drinks and the water is refilled. We fill the tank using a garden hose.

Frozen hoses must be avoided so that access to water supply is not compromised. We do this by detaching the hose and leaving it in the sun, wound up to prevent any water remaining in the hose to freeze. If exceptionally cold, we put the hose in the house.

When the tank heater is defective,  a short in the system can occur that leads to the horse avoiding the water supply. We had this problem recently.  The electrician came out to replace the wiring so if there is change in the current such as a surge, the power shuts off. With this upgrade, the horses were still a little leery of the tank. We figured out that the heating element in the tank was defective. Since it was still under warranty, it was replaced, and the horses are drinking well. Horses can drink out of buckets, but unless they are kept filled all day long, the volume is not enough to satisfy the daily intake of water.