Jennfer Wilcox, Goat Herder

Jen’s probably gonna kill me for posting this video. She’s learning how to herd goats. The goats are learning how to be herded. Apparently, even goats like red Solo cups!

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Cowboys and Indians and Snakes

When Jen found that snake down by the chicken tractor last week, I started carrying around the .44 Magnum that I inherited from my dad. In an old fashioned leather holster, nonetheless. It’s comfortable enough, but I feel a little ridiculous wearing it. It’s huge. But loaded with shotshell, it’s like carrying a shotgun with an 8″ barrel. Sure any of my 9 mms would do the same with shotshell, but they don’t feed the shells correctly -I guess it’s because they produce less recoil. The .44 is a revolver, so recoil is not an issue.

Saturday evening I took the gun off long enough to take a shower. The dogs were playing outside. Then, just as I got out of the shower, their barking changed. I could tell there was a problem, because Boomer and Apollo hardly ever bark at the same time and Helo had a wierd bark going on. I thought that maybe a goat was out. When I got out there, Apollo and Boomer had something trapped between them. Whatever it was, it was between them but out of my view. It was behind a stack of empty mineral buckets. I yelled for them to get off of it. Helo was all too happy to yield. The other two were a little harder to dissuade.

As I got closer, I could hear a noise. Wishful thinking kicked in. I was hoping it was a cicada vibrating on the ground. Boomer and Apollo have chased those things around before.

Just to be safe, I eased my head around the buckets. I was unpleasantly surprised by a rather large snake of unknown species and unknown toxicity. It was coiled up and shaking its tail. It was just after sunset, so for all I knew it was a rattlesnake.

I finally got the dogs back in. While in, I grabbed the .44 and headed back out, still in my boxers. 3 shots later and the snake was no longer a threat. Actually, it wasn’t a threat after the first shot. The second and third shots were for piece of mind.  Piece of mind that it wasn’t suffering, and that it wouldn’t cause us or any of the the animals any suffering.

At this point, it appeared to be dead, so I went back in to check the dogs for bites, just in case it was poisonous. I checked on the snake later. It moved some when I shined a light on it. One shot to the head with my .22 stopped all movement – permanently.

The next morning I got up early to get a good look at the snake. Turns out it was a rattlesnake. It was just over 4 feet long. It was big enough to eat my entire flock of fowl. In fact, it looked big enough to eat Helo.

I wish I had thought to ice it down after I killed it. We are vegetarians for ethical reasons. That being said, we only eat animals that we kill or are willing to kill ourselves. We would have at least tried to eat the snake.

I don’t like killing snakes. I usually go out of my way to relocate them, but I have to draw the line at rattlesnakes, or snakes that could be rattlesnakes. I will continue to carry the .44 around. At this point, I don’t care if it does look like I’m playing cowboys and Indians.

 

Cool Nights and Exciting Days

Lots of excitement on the homestead today. First of all, Boomer woke me up at 4 am and I had trouble getting back to sleep. It was cold! 55 degrees inside the cabin. Later, Jen found a large snake hanging around outside the chicken tractor. Chickens and dcks were ok. Snake meet Mr. .44 Magnum. No, seriously, he was just relocated. Then our neighbor came over to cut down some dead trees that were threatening the cabin. Two of them almost got the last laugh. I almost soiled myself when the first tree started tipping toward the cabin. Joe kept his cool and nudged it in the right direction with his tractor. The third tree looked unpredictable, but it went basically where it was supposed to after it was nudged as well. I wish I had thought to take some video of it. There is probably enough wood on the ground now to last us through most of the winter.
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Cool Nights and Exciting Days

Lots of excitement on the homestead today. First of all, Boomer woke me up at 4 am and I had trouble getting back to sleep. It was cold! 55 degrees inside the cabin. Later, Jen found a large snake hanging around outside the chicken tractor. Chickens and dcks were ok. Snake meet Mr. .44 Magnum. No, seriously, he was just relocated. Then our neighbor came over to cut down some dead trees that were threatening the cabin. Two of them almost got the last laugh. I almost soiled myself when the first tree started tipping toward the cabin. Joe kept his cool and nudged it in the right direction with his tractor. The third tree looked unpredictable, but it went basically where it was supposed to after it was nudged as well. I wish I had thought to take some video of it. There is probably enough wood on the ground now to last us through most of the winter.
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Our Trip to Harrison

We recently (about a month ago) we took our first trip to Harrison, AR.  The drive is only a little more than an hour, but in our year here we had never made it there.

The drive offered some gorgeous views of the mountains and valleys.  There were a couple of little towns along the way.  One little town had some rather eclectic gardens on both sides of the highway.

The first thing we noticed about Harrison was that the town has a very weird layout – almost haphazard – which made it hard for us to navigate.  We also noticed that Harrison is within a “wet” county.  I put “wet” in quotation marks because there are people in some parts of the country that have never heard the term “wet” or “dry” in regards to the people in a county voting to sell or not to sell alcoholic beverages.  In some places, people have never heard of not selling alcohol based on one’s geographic location.

Speaking of alcohol, I stopped at a rather upscale store that sold wine, beer, and liquor.  I have shopped at some very good stores of the kind throughout the southeastern states.  This store was almost as good as any of its kind that I have ever visited.  The selection was extremely wide and varied for its location and the population it serves.  While I have seen bigger selections, I’ve never seen such a good selection in a store its size.

Another thing we noticed was that Harrison has a lot of “Mom and Pop” type of businesses in addition to some of the larger chain businesses.  We like that.

There was a collection of younger type people who appeared to be homeless at a lake that appeared to be a city park.  We didn’t like that

We also noticed the Aldi supermarket.  I used to shop at one in Atlanta when I lived there.  Aldi is a great place for shopping if price is a concern but selection isn’t.  Bring your own bags – they don’t provide any.

We had to take a pit stop for the dogs to do their thing.  Jen had her hands full!

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Homestead Day Trip

Here’s a piece that I procrastinated in publishing.  It was actually a month and a half ago:

I took my mom, niece, and nephew for a trip to the homestead today.  It was mom’s first visit since February.  It was also the first time that I ever had them all in a vehicle together with the dogs.  It was rather interesting.

It was also the first time that it reached 100 degrees around here this year.  The news reported 100 degrees in Clinton.  We went right through Clinton on our way to the homestead.  I felt every one of those 100 degrees.  Thank goodness for automobile air conditioners.

Boomer, in particular, really enjoyed the air conditioner.  Helo and Apollo rode in the back of the Explorer.  Boomer rode in the back seat with my niece and nephew.  He immediately realized that there was cool air coming out of the vents in the back of the armrests.  He immediately positioned himself to take advantage of said cool air.  He looked comical with his back end on the back seat, his front legs straddling the hump in the floorboard, and his nose stuck in the vent.

He didn’t stay in that position long.  He soon propped his chin on the armrest and let the air blow on his substantial neck.  I guess that felt pretty good.  He went to sleep about as quickly as he ever has.  As the trip progressed, his head would get all twisted up.  I was afraid that he would get a crick in his neck, and I can only guess how bad a crick in a neck the size of his would feel.  But he just slept and snored the trip away.  By the time we made it to the homestead, Boomer had rearranged himself into the most comfortable position he could find, which just happened to be in my 7 year old, 35 pound nephew’s lap.

We unloaded everybody and the dogs went into the doggie play pen.  After some sodas and chips on the front porch of the cabin, I took the family on a tour of the homestead, while the dogs stayed in the doggie play pen.  Mom seemed impressed with the cabin and garden.  The garden was larger than she thought it would be.  After the tour, my niece helped me water the container garden.  Then we loaded everyone back into the Explorer, including the dogs.

We had to stop at (gasp with horror) Walmart on the way back home.  I ran in while everyone stayed in the Explorer, with the engine and air conditioner running, of course.  When I returned, I was informed that Boomer decided that he wanted to sit where my niece was sitting.  She won, and Boomer returned to his original position with nose in vents.

On the way home, Boomer once again went to sleep in my nephew’s lap.  My nephew, securely fastened into his seat by seatbelt, fell asleep on Boomer.  I was able to get a picture to share.  It was quite the sight – a dog belonging to a breed which is defined by many as vicious, seeking comfort in the lap of a 7 year old half his size.

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5 August, 2013 21:05

I thought that the night before last was rough. Last night was way worse.
First, Jennifer brought home 16 assorted baby fowl. They had to stay in the cabin as their new home is finished yet. We knew the dogs were going to go crazy, so we figured it would be a rough night.
When we pulled up in the driveway, just after dark, we could see Athena was out of the pen. At least she didn’t go very far. She went into the pen easy enough. A few modifications later and her escape route was toast.

Dogs and baby birds woke me up at 4 am. Couldn’t go back to sleep. Started reading about water catchment systems. Thought I heard Boomer shake his head, but something didn’t seem quite right. Went back to reading. Heard it again. Maybe a big moth? I knew that was just wishful thinking. I had a good idea as to what it really was. Flipped on the lights. Yes, we are off grid but we can just flip on the lights.

Just as I feared. A bat.
I low crawled out of the cabin in an attempt to lure the bat out the door with a flashlight. Once outside, Jen told me that it was stuck on a strip of non toxic fly paper. Good for us, bad for the bat.
With a pair of scissors, a pizza box, two sticks, ashes from the wood stove, and about twenty minutes of our time, the determined little bat removed himself from the fly tape. Just for clarification, we used the tools – the bat only used his (or her) mouth. The ashes worked their way in between the bat and the stickiness as it struggled.  With every move it made, the bat coated itself with ashes, making it impervious to the sticky fly paper.  We didn’t stick around to see if he was able to fly off, but from the way he was crawling off, I’m sure he was airborne as soon as he caught his breath.

We didn’t find a body this morning, so maybe he made it.