Welcome to Fern Valley

Here in central Alberta prime farm country,my husband Martin and I work together raising beef cattle and Appaloosa horses. Fern valley appaloosas have long been known for their quality of temperament conformation and color.I have recently rediscovered a love of writing and have published 2 collections of poetry. "Telling Tails" and Tails Trails and Campfire stories" . I look forward to a future spreading my wings as an author and as a horse woman .

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Bring me two Pina Coladas! (pictures pictures and more pictures)

 Home  from  vacation, and all I can  say  is, 
 We had a blast! 
 played in  the  water
 had a discussion with  the  waves and  the attempted theft of my bathing suit  bottoms! LOL 
 Deb and  Brian  came  along and  really  seemed to enjoy the trip.

 Martin and Mike  looking  for sea shells
 Underwater pics taken on my new  Lumix waterproof, courtesy of  Brian, who  spent a lot of time snorkeling 

My little buddy  who was outside my room every morning 
 Martin Mike and I 
 The Oakleys 
 All of us enjoying  a wonderful meal at Havana Moon
 Fifth Avenue (Playa Del Carmen)

 An  amazing meal in  a wonderful  restaurant  housed in an axtual Xenote(cave) Aluz(pronounced Aloosh)
 the ambiance  was  second to none, and after dinner we explored the caves

Back to visit  Xcaret this trip,  such  a beautiful  place 

 last  day ,just hanging out on the beach
 and an evening out for  drinks and dinner

Yup this pic  pretty much sums it up. 
I am  glad to be  home  now even though the temps are pretty  shocking  in comparison. But that is one of the great things about  going away. Coming home! 
Back to the regular  routine again.
Stay warm and safe! 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Up up and away!

Well today has  been one helluva week!
Actually  started yesterday with me rolling out a hose while  walking backwards through  the barn and ,well long  story  short  falling  arse over teakettle into an open toolbox. The  good  news? the toolbox is  fine LOL, actually  other  than a  bruise or 2  so am I .
Today  dad  and  Deb  came  out to help  get the  waterers fixed. and we  were successful with 2 ,but the old  "problem one " whupped us, I burned  my hand on  the pan  heater moments  after  warning  Deb  not to! sigh . I said yesterday , God wouldn't  have  made  me  clumsy if  he  wasn't  gonna  make  me  tough!
But  tough  or  not , I need  a break!
And thanks  to the  kindness of  friends  and  family , who have  agreed to stay here and  care  for the critters, a break I shall  have !!
All  packed  and  ready  for a week in  beautiful  sunny  Mexico! see you soon!
and  as  always  my  friends, stay safe

Monday, 10 February 2014

So close and yet so far (watering bowl woes)

I have written  before about he  automatic  watering bowls here on  the farm. We have  4 and  every morning and  night all  winter I check  them , I am  vigilant and only  skip checking  when I am  physically not here ,or when it is above zero. Why? because  the  rotten  @#**#**'s  freeze up! Last  year  was  probably  the closest we  came to a trouble  free  winter,  with only  a couple  brief  incidents, one involving  a burnt out pan  heater and the other  just  too damn  cold . Both were  fixed in  a matter of  hours. 

But then  there is my "problem  child "  the waterer  by  the barn, it is old and the  thermostat is  funky (has  been changed  but still) it  heats the  water  too  warm and tends  to over  time  melt t he fittings . I have  a brass  float ball in  it which helps, but apparently it   overheated again  and  caused a slow  leak, the  water  trickles  down and  then  when  the weather  turns  really  cold, bam! frozen  solid. At least  I presume  that is what  happened. I have been  keeping a  close  eye on it and  had  not noticed a leak, but this morning  when I checked it was  frozen and there  was  water inside  the  base (so if it looks  like a  duck and  quacks  like a  duck...) 

So while I did  try to convince  my friend  Deb, that I was  going to just let  the critters  go without and  she  should  call her  coworkers  at the  SPCA  to rat me  out , truth is , thats not who  I am . I started  packing pails  of  water to fill a tank(for the  critters  affected  as it was too  cold  to run  a hose 30 + pails  later  everyone  seemed  satisfied  for the moment , and I jumped in the shower  to head for the  city  for a meeting. While in  town  I grabbed  a  couple of these X hoses  the link  goes  to an  ad that  includes  a video. Thinking  that  in  the  later  warmer  part of the day, I could  fill  a big  tank  and  save  packing  pails . The  good  news is the X hose  works  a treat! Just as  advertised and LIGHT!! Which is  wonderful because after  carrying all  those  pails, and  dragging the  tank  to the back of the barn I was/am  whupped! can  barely  lift  a coffee cup! 
I also shop vac`ed  the water out of the base of the  waterer and had  my  blow dryer in there  most of the day  ,but no success  yet.It is supposed to be  warmer  on  the weekend so hopefully  we  will  get it fixed.Meanwhile  the  critters all  have  water , and I have  wine  so life is good ! 

Also  noticed  while  doing  the  rest of my chores  we have a  few uninvited  guests again.

They  weren't actually  eating the hay, but ...
Time for  Skeeter , deer  dog  extraordinaire to start his  rounds! He  takes  chasing  the deer  away  from  the feed  very seriously and as  soon  as  he  saw them from the truck  he was  bouncing  and singing  his  little  squeaky  " Let me at 'em" song.
That's it  for me for  now , I am DONE  today 
As always my  friends,  stay  safe and warm! 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

some closure for a friend and a picture of my day

I wrote  a post  some time ago  about  a series  of  awful incidents leading to the senseless  death  of  several  4H cattle and also a  friends  beloved  horse hers is the post Heartsick. That  was  in  2012 well all  this  time  later the  youth  who  was  responsible  received  his sentence,  News story. Is it enough? I don't  know, I do  know there is  no  way he could  truly  understand the  damage  and hurt he  caused but at least  the issue  has  come to a close.

around  here it is cold cold  cold! we were blessed with  balmy  temps above 0C  the  last  part of  January , until... until  we weren't!
Still not -40 but cold enough  to make  me bundle up and  still need to have  the wood stove  going to warm up when I come in after  chores. Even  cheated  a few  morning sand  took the truck  to check  waterers.
Today  was more of  the same,  dawned  cold  clear and bright . Pretty  to look at  from indoors  but not so  nice  to be outside. But it is  what it is , and I had  stuff  to do  today  so I  bundled up and out I went.

Not  entirely sure what this  stand off  was  about  but it made  for a cool pic

 Afternoon chores  took  me  down to see  Annie, 

And  of course  Johnny! 
All the others  as  well,  but its hard to keep the lens on the camera from  fogging up so that is all I took  for pics.
All  are  fat and  sassy  and  handling this  Alberta  Winter  like they  do  every  year. Tough  critters  !
That's it  for now ,  stay  safe and  warm  my  friends

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

some thoughts, another tangled ramble

 So , again I must apologize  for being a bad  blogger! Seems  time is  just  getting away on me. Plus  with no "go to " camera  I haven't  been  taking any photos.
Upside is I figured out  the camera  deal. I really like the  zoom  feature and I wasn't  ready to pay  nearly $100 more  for a  camera that w as  waterproof and shock proof , but took  poorer  quality pictures, so I had  settled on  the Lumix  with the 20X  zoom, and a really  good  case  to protect it. Then I went online and  found  a Lumix  waterproof that  was  way  cheaper , still poorer zoom, but without a lot of the bells  and whistles  the expensive one  had (that I didn't  want , seriously  GPS on a  camera?? not that  technical  thanks)

Now that t he camera issue is  solved, or  soon  to be ,what else is new? Not much, it has  been  cold , and with the cold I am in  the house a lot more, and when I am inside, what do I do ? yup I think!!!
A situation the other  night  brought to mind an issue so bear with me , we are headed for a ramble again.

Went to see my  cousin  on  Sunday , and when I got home I had a panicked  call from  the neighbor, crying and saying "you have to come ! its an emergency! bring  formula and a bottle!" Which  translates  to bring colostrum  for a  calf and a calf bottle. Because I know this gal  gets  pretty  worked up, I asked a few  questions  first, and long  story  short , she had a heifer  calve, they had  to assist it as it was a very large  calf (poor choice of  bull) and the heifer then  prolapsed. The vet was called to repair the prolapse and sew up  the cow. All of this happened at  around  2 pm . I got the call at 6:30 ,so  you can imagine, a  snappy  cold  day -15 C  was  a pretty  bad  time  to be  a brand  new  soaking  wet  critter  without  momma  doing her  job, and not on  particularly  good  bedding. With  that info , I also  grabbed  the tube  feeder , because I figured the little  tyke  wasn't  gonna have  the stuffin's  to suck a bottle . She had  the calf  in the house  by then and  we  did  what  we  could for it . I did tube it , and gave it a  shot of  vitamins and  selenium ( we are  in  an area of grey  wooded soil  which is  selenium  deficient ) I did  what  I could  and  we  got  baby  warmed up and back  near  momma  on  dry  deep  bedding in  a sheltered  area. The  next  day  the  gal  asked  me to call  and talk to the  vet  explaining  what  we had  done and what  medications  we  had  given   because  she was  too  confused. I did and this is the same  vet I regularly use so  no  big deal.
Except it  kind of is, and this is where  the ramble  starts.

When  you have  stock,  you  are going to need  a vet  from  time  to time, and its  not always  possible  to get the neighbor to call  for you . So there  are a  few  things  to remember  when you are faced with  an  emergency  and  calling  your vet, or  for that matter  your  neighbor.

  1. as  upset  as  you  are  no one  can help  you if  they  cannot understand  you , so crying and  panicking into the  phone is  not a great plan
  2. speak  clearly , and even if  you have to take  notes make  clear what  you are asking
  3. If  you need the vet to come out, have whatever  critter  you need  looked at IN  A PEN . It  is not the vets  job  to herd  your  wild  heifer into a corral in order to treat it  or assist in its  calving 
  4. Know  your  stock, and their "normal " so that unusual  signs  and symptoms  are  easily  recognize and  you  can  concisely  tell your  vet what is amiss
  5. When  you  have  already treated  the animal  with  some  meds , tell your  vet  what medications,  what time and what  dosage. Again  write it  down if  you need  to 
  6. Understand  you  might  not  be  the only  person  needing the  vet that  day  so if  you are able to clearly  record and report signs  symptoms and  what  treatment if  any  you have  already administered , you can save  the vet and yourself  valuable time so that they  can  best  triage  the  calls and help 
  7. have a  full and  complete  emergency first aid  kit, the  tools to do  what  you need  to to maintain  the animal as  best  you can until  the help  arrives. (ie ,in this case , colostrum,  bottles, tube  feeder,  calf  sled , calving  chains  etc)
  8. remember to breath! 
  9. when  you fail to plan  you plan to fail. If  you  choose  to have livestock of  any kind , you need  to be  aware  that things  happen, an full "kit "  and  supplies/equipment is a  must. Know where it is  and what it is . Again there is a time to be haring  across  the pasture  with a  rope or  a halter  to catch  whatever  critter  is  in need, and that time is  not  when the vet is already  there
Most  for the  folks  I know  already  do  this . but there  are a  few in  the world who are either new  to the  farming  deal, or  just  not getting it , and it makes  life  pretty tough , for  them,  their stock and all involved.
I know a  fellow  blogger  who  just  got through  a bad round of colic  with  2  of her  horses, and actually  came out the other  end  successful  because of her  quick thinking  and  calm  approach, another  who  sadly  lost a horse, but again  because they  followed some simple  rules they  got the horse  treated, and managed  her  pain well until  the  time  came  to stop  the fight and let  her  go.
We  do  not  always  save  them  all but if  we  do  loose  a critter to illness or injury , the planning and preparedness can  certainly  mitigate  the pain and  stress. There is a  lot more I could  add, and  maybe  should but I will  leave it at this for now.
 And just  tell you  to stay warm and  safe my  friends!