Archive for May 2011
We’ve been having a flu; that is, the horses have. It was a bit alarming with the first case, but the blood work showed it was nothing but a common three-day bug. Bella was one of the last to succumb; but she has it now. That makes it unanimous. Every horse four and under on the place — we don’t have too many — has it or has had it, vaccinated or not. Like those for people, horse vaccines tend to lag behind the latest bug.
Anyway, she was off feed yesterday, and has a snotty nose. The next sign is a cough, but that hasn’t shown up yet. She’s eating again already — and hollering for carrots when I walk by. With luck, it’ll be a light case.
Poor Billy has been trying to keep the flu confined, but getting people to cooperate is a lot like herding cats. Everyone thinks it’s necessary to tie their coughing horse to the common hitching rail, or that it absolutely has to be turned out for exercise, or that it has to keep up its training; it’ll forget everything if it’s not ridden for three days. Sigh.
Well, sometimes these things simply have to run their course. It’s funny, though, how it jumps around. Some of the horses that got it haven’t been out of their pens, nor had any neighbors who had it. Maybe it’s a gift of the flu fairy.
More cheerfully, here’s the latest daylily. This is Spacecoast Snow Angel. With that name, I was expecting it to be nearly white. Instead, it’s cream blushed with rose.
I’m not complaining. It’s gorgeous.
We woke up last night to the sound of rain running off the roof. Now, in Bakersfield in May, that’s more likely to mean that your cooler has sprung a leak than water is actually falling from the sky. But rain it was. And I got up to the near-unprecedented sight of May raindrops on the petals of my flowers; in this case a miniature rose.
It’s been cool and breezy all day, with occasional sprinkles. Hardly anyone has been out riding. There’s enough of a wind chill to make a jacket necessary, and it’s downright unpleasant in the mountains. Some of our customers are at Mule Days in Bishop; between the weather and the EHV-1 scare, it’s not likely to be as popular an event as in other years. I can almost hear the sounds of promoters gnashing their teeth.
Me, I’ve stayed inside, reading and knitting. All that’s lacking is a fire in the fireplace — but the electric heater is set on thermostat, and it just came on.
We have five resident dogs; the old Golden, Cider, and the Border collies; in order of seniority, Gena, Spanky, Nip, and Xena. Of all of them, Gena is the only one who has a passion for retrieving a tennis ball. Though she will retrieve anything throwable, she has a passion for tennis balls.
Now the other dogs have a mild interest in them. That is, if one is thrown, they will chase after it and get it — if they can beat Gena to it. Then, however, instead of bringing it back, they trot along with it until they lose interest and drop it somewhere. Meanwhile, Gena, wild with frustration, is hopping up and down trying to tell them that you’re supposed to Bring It Back! And Drop It at Their Feet! So they can Throw It Again!
After this went on for some time, I took pity on her and took them down to the river. She is the only one who will chase it out into the water. Spanky watches with interest from the shore. “Look at that idiot out there — getting wet all over!”
You have to use discretion, though, because I sincerely believe she would keep on retrieving it until she sank with exhaustion — and then walk on the bottom to bring it back. She is obsessed. Luckily she also has a passion for herding, so she can use her energies that way, too.
Nip isn’t even as interested as Spanky in getting wet. He practices his Border Collie Down from a safe distance.
He looks relaxed, but his body is alive with tension, and his eyes dart back and forth, following the action. “If it was a sheep,” he says, “I’d get it in an instant.”
Dogs are funny people.
Marion sent me some pictures of her newly blooming daylilies. She did a collage that shows very well the variety of color and shape that loving breeders have produced. Some of these are the highly bred aristocrats that we bought on our coastal trip last June; others are humble WalMart finds.
I’m not sure which one I like best. Maybe this fiery orange?
But the clear pink is lovely, too . . . and the scarlet . . . or maybe the true gold . . . oh, heck. I just like daylilies.
On to a more serious subject. I consulted the CFDA report this morning, and there are still no new EHV-1 cases in California. Maybe we can let out the breath we’ve been holding soon.
My friend Lori B. is very good at the round pen work that makes a good basis for many kinds of training. She’s been teaching Bella — and me — some of the things a good pony should know.
It was cool and breezy today, even in the early afternoon when we went down there. The cottonwoods are dark towers now, with the bright spring leaves deepened to their summer tones, but they still sparkle as they twist in the wind.
Mr. Tree Swallow was kibitzing, as usual.
Bella remembered the signals from her last lesson very well. She was quite obedient — most of the time. Then she would get a gleam in her eye and go zipping around the pen with the wind under her tail. In the end, though, she seemed to enjoy her lesson.
Especially the belly-scratching part.
By the end of the lesson, I believe she was thinking, “Did I do okay, boss?”
But it might have been, “What in the world are these humans going think of next?”
Because daylilies are well named, and last but a day, it seems necessary to record the most memorable blooms. This pair of Janet Gordons definitely qualified.
Viewed from the window, backlit by the morning sun, they may be even more striking.
We were glad to see that there were no new EHV-1 cases in California yesterday, according to the CFDA. Now let’s hope for the same tomorrow.
We’re continuing to work with Bella as often as possible. She retains what she has learned very well; so that, as people have often warned, it’s necessary to be careful not to teach her the wrong things. No problems yet.
I bought her a new bale of oat hay today. Her little system just doesn’t tolerate the alfalfa very well. She puts on too much weight and her manure gets watery. Some years we have grassy bales of alfalfa, which work very well; but last year’s hay crop was just too good. It feels funny to go out and buy hay by the bale. It’s pretty reasonable; $12.99 for a good-quality, heavy bale. Alfalfa is going for over $20 a bale here. I’ll have to ask Billy how the weight of an oat hay bale compares to that of alfalfa.
We’re sure hoping for a break in the price of alfalfa. Even though we’re going up to $170, we’re going to operate at a loss this year if it doesn’t come down. We can absorb that for one year — but it would be nice to see that price start dropping.
I haven’t posted pictures from my daily walk for a few days. Here are a few things I saw this morning. (Note: WordPress, as it does occasionally, is refusing to let me upload my pictures. I’ll put in the descriptions, and hope to add the pictures later.)
Last years cattails are making room for the new crop.
The moonflowers are blooming. That’s a much prettier name than Jimsonweed or thornapple.
The Bakersfield cactus, at its Secret Location, is getting ready to bloom. Its gray-lavender color is attractive, even without the brilliant magenta flowers.
I caught a flash of yellow on the way back, and thought it was an oriole. But then I saw the flash of red on his head, and realized it was a Western tanager. They’re beautiful birds, and seen even less frequently than the orioles. He quickly hid in the branches, so here’s a Wikipedia picture to show what he looked like.
(Or here it isn’t. Maybe in an hour or two.)
Later — Woo-hoo! It worked at last!