New Years Resolutions

I will pay attention.

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Stride out boldly.

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Take joy in my surroundings.

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Go on nature explorations with friends.

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Be open to learning.

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Listen carefully.

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Express gratitude for a job well done.

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Put my whole heart into my work.

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And give myself permission to just be.

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All of us here at Little Pond Farm wish you the best in 2016.

Pyncheon Bantams

My friend, Christine Heinrichs, author of How to Raise Chickens, is working on a new book The Field Guide to Backyard Chickens. There are many varieties of chickens that were kept years ago but that are rare now. Some were useful, some were bred solely for looks. As we lose these chickens, we lose their genetic diversity. Christine’s passion is for saving the breadth of traits unique to these old breeds. She asked me if I knew of anyone with Pyncheon bantams. Some “heritage” breeds don’t go back that far (the Delaware dates only to the 1940s) but this decorative bantam was mentioned back in the 1700s.

I checked my shelves of poultry books, both new and vintage. Nothing about Pyncheons.

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I looked through my collection of bulletins and brochures. Nothing. Not even in this:

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It did however, have this illustration of a more popular bantam that some of you might keep, the Sebright.

sebright bantams

Even back in 1907, chickens were not always kept as productive farm animals. This is what Mr. Howard says about bantams:

Bantams are purely ornamental poultry, and are kept for pleasure exclusively.

What birds do you have just for fun?

 

If you, or someone you know, has a Pyncheon, please contact Christine!

Long Ears

The affectionate term for donkeys and mules is long ears. As much as I adore Tonka’s pert, turned-in ears, and especially as much as I love looking straight through them to the trail,

Tonka ears

there is something about big fuzzy ears that makes me swoon.

These long ears belong to a animal saved by the Save Your Ass Rescue – perhaps the best-named rescue, ever. If you’re looking for a 2016 calendar, they have one. Get it to support a very good cause.

mule ears

 

I’ve been on week-long riding treks through wilderness mountains, me on a sensible horse, the guide on an even more sensible mule. Horses flee when scared. Mules stay put and assess the situation. This is how they got their reputation for being stubborn. They know more than you. It’s good to trust a mule.

Before getting Tonka, I thought about getting a mule. Something like this.

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I have the wherewithal to have only one large four-legged animal, and I’m grateful to have found my heart horse in Tonka. But, oh, those ears!

If you have experience with long ears, let me know in the comments.

White Legged Horses

Owning a horse with white legs has its challenges. Horses don’t care if they’re sparkling white, but we people do take pleasure in the beauty of our animals, so much time is spent keeping them clean. It’s not just aesthetics – grooming has many benefits. Tonka is a black and white paint, with crisp delineation between the markings. And yet, this is how I often find him, with dingy yellow-brown stains on his hind legs.

stained horse legs

 

In his stall, he’s a fairly tidy horse. He doesn’t churn up the manure. But I swear that each night he looks for the biggest pile to use as a cushion for his rear end. In the summer I’m able to wash him off on a daily basis, but in the winter, the water to the outside wash stall is turned off. Yesterday, with the temperature around 60º F, I was able to clean Tonka up. It was too cold to give him a full bath, but I filled a bucket with hot soapy water (there’s actually horse shampoo designed for use on white horses,) scrubbed those white legs thoroughly, then rinsed with warm water. Tonka enjoyed the attention, and I like to think that he’s more comfortable without those stains, which are likely itchy.

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Lovely!

clean horse

 

This, of course, is not the end of the story. Earlier in the day, we’d gone on a 4 1/2 mile walk through the woods. Then he had his partial bath. It was warm. I knew exactly what he’d do next. There’s a special area in the center of his paddock which isn’t too rocky.

He made sure that Maggie was busy at her hay net,

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because what he was about to do puts him in a vulnerable position. It’s not easy for a 900 pound animal to ease himself down to take a dirt bath.

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But, oh, it felt so good!

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When Tonka stood up, he shimmied.

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But that didn’t shake off the mud. At least I know that the manure stains under that dirt are gone.

dirty horse

 

This time of year, rolling in a wallow includes getting decorations in the tail.

horse tail

 

Oh well. White legs on a horse is at best an impermanent condition. What matters is that the horse is happy.

smug horse

Sorting Photographs

I’ve set myself a task to complete by the New Year. Since January 1 of 2000, I’ve been dumping downloading all of my photos onto my computer. For every blog post photograph that you see, I’ve taken another twenty photos that don’t get used. I’ve left them in my files and moved on. A month ago I tried to go back to find an image and it was a daunting task. There were 50,000 pictures stored in Photos! It’s become impossible to go through the files and find a good photograph. It was time to sort, discard, and organize. I’ve been tackling this task bit by bit and I’m down to fifteen thousand images. If I cut that number by half, and then slot them all into albums, my task will be complete.

Some of this winnowing is easy. I’ve got a zillion photos of tomatoes, frogs and compost in various states of decomposing, that can be tossed into the virtual garbage can with nary a second thought. But there are other series of images that slow me down.

Here is Scooter the day that we met. He was only six weeks old, and still in his foster home with his brother, sister and Mom. Scooter is the pup in the back to the left of the basket.

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It’s not hard to imagine Scooter that little – although he weighed less than four pounds back then, he looks remarkably similar now. On the other hand, Pip and Caper were tiny, svelte and agile babies. Their breeder sent me this photograph when they were only six weeks old. They both fit in a feed tub. When they arrived here they weighed ten pounds each. They’re up to a hundred now, with prominent bellies and sporting long beards.

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This is Lily the first day that I met her. She was six months old. She’d been digging. Her muzzle is now grey, but she still gets it dirty snuffling in the ground.

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I tried to find a photo of the Beast as a 3-inch fish, but I don’t think that I snapped one! If I come across one, I’ll post it. It’s good to look back before looking forward to the New Year.