Sunday, December 18, 2011


Whilst running and playing the yard, Petunia sliced up her foot.  It was a pretty bad cut, so we had to do the far too familiar run to the emergency veterinary clinic.  Poor Pea is sporting a few staples in her foot and sadly she has a little hardwear to go along with the staples:

Woe is Pea.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Baseless Accusations

I don't really watch the news much.  My therapist recommended that I avoid news coverage after the whole "Y2K incident."  (I'm doing much better, thank you.  I now understand that just because our computers are "talking" to eachother, they are not necessarily planning the demise of humanity.  Still, you can obviously understand the confusion, and really people should have thanked me for looking out for their best interests.)  Nonetheless, I keep hearing people talking about sexual harassment accusations being brought against Kane.  I'm here to set the record straight.

First, I like to call her Kana now.  I believe I have mentioned that previously, so please take note.

Second, I think that the whole thing is being blown way out of proportion.  OK, she might have used the "P-word," but that was completely reasonable in this situation.  And sure, there are some photographs, but they are being taken out of context:

I mean, clearly James Van Der Beek was asking for it they were just playing around.  Just two kids having fun.

So, now that I have explained this all thoroughly, I hope we can put these terrible and damaging rumours to rest. 

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Feeling warm and fuzzy

Now that fall has set in, I've noticed a distinct change in the equine beasties.  They have all started to get in their thick winter coats.  Gino is growing his little donkey-fro again.

Ellie has started to change colors again for the second, third... maybe fourth time this year.  I can't seem to keep track of her molting cycle.  She goes from chestnut to strawberry roan and back a few times a year.

Ellie develops a wonderfully thick pelt in the fall.  Whereas Ellie is always quite huggable, she is especially so when the weather gets cold.

The other great thing about fall is being able to enjoy the great outdoors.  It is wonderful to get out and see the leaves turning colors while the weather is still temperate.  While I was out driving around the other day on my vespa, I came across this gentleman while he was out for a brisk ride with some friends:

He was obviously a bit annoyed, shocked, and slightly bemused at the sight of me taking his picture.  Still, Big George turned out to be a decent fellow.  He actually gave a big cheesey smile for the next picture, but it was out of focus.

Still, it's good to get out and enjoy the world.  You never know just who or what you might see.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day

Today is Columbus Day, so the we decided to do some nautical adventuring this weekend in his honor.  The wife and I loaded up her kayak and hitched my barge to the truck, and we did a little paddling on the lake. 

It was a wonderfully warm fall day.  There was not a cloud in the sky and the water was quite calm.  Better yet, the leaves have started to change colors, so I spent most of the day drifting slowly about, taking pictures with my phone.

There is a shallow section in the middle of the lake. Someone stacked stones in this area, possibly as a warning to boaters. I have seen a bald eagle perched on the top of these stones, so it seems to serve multiple purposes.  Unfortunately, we got a bit of a late start on the day, so we missed most of the good birding opportunities.

It was not a bad way to enjoy the day.  Unfortunately, I can't waste too much time because I need to chop up some poplar trees that fell down, mow the pastures, and get ready to re-seed them next week.  Always something to do on the farm.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Stall that Bound (a nominal success story)

Snow was supposed to be stall bound for a a few more weeks, but as you can see, she is out and about, scratching herself by running up and down the forsythia.

The other day, I went up to the barn and found this:

Snow had simply busted through her stall door.  It seems that normal barn locks are not really designed to contain a 1925 lbs. monster.  She simply walked through the door and took the latch and screws with her.  (She left some fur behind.)  Whilst pulling the latch off of the barn, Snow split the trim wood around the barn door.

You could see that she pushed the trim away from the rest of the door jam before the latch gave way.

Thus, I had a new chore to add to the list. 

I measured the broken trim piece and then ran to the local big box hardware store for a new piece of wood and paint.  The wood was easy enough.  It was 1" x 3" and about 7.5' long.  I found lumber marked 1" x 3", purchased it, and then tried to match a paint chip to a picture I had on my phone.  Upon getting home, I found that the paint was not a good match for the barn.  Thankfully, my lovely wife went out and was able to find "Barn Paint" at the local Ace Hardware.  Of note, Barn Paint does not have a stated color.  It is simply the color of a barn.  (In much the same way that an albatross is albatross flavored.)  I suppose, that if you have a barn, it should be barn colored.  I could not argue with this sort of logic, but I am rather certain that I have seen different colored barns.  I'm not sure what these people do for paint.

Anyway, I primed and painted the wood and then went up to the barn to nail it into place. I found that the trim was nowhere close to the right size.  A bit confused, I measured it again.  The wood I purchased was 0.5" x 2.5"! So I went back to the local big box hardware store, and this is where things got vexing. I found a sales representative and asked if they had any lumber that was actually 1" x 3" because the lumber marked 1" x 3" wasn't even close.  I was kindly informed that 1" x 3" lumber is 0.5" x 2.5", and that the lumber industry was going by "nominal measurements."  Since inches and feet are real measurements with definite meanings, the convention seems rather misleading. Of course, I didn't have the time to change the lumber industry. Instead, I asked if they had a piece of wood that was actually 1" x 3".  The sales representative said that he did not. 

I left and went to Ace Hardware.  They of course, sell Barn Paint, so maybe they still had wood that was referenced by its actual measurements.  They did not.  I noted that I needed a piece of lumber that was actually 1" x 3" and about 8'. I was told that the best I could do was to get a piece of wood that was 1" thick, and then "rip" it to the actual width I needed.  I asked what they had that was close to 1" x 3", and I was informed that a 1" x 5" would be 3/4" x 4.5".  To get something that was actually 1", I would have to buy a 1.25" piece of wood. I could purchase a 1.25" x 4" which was 1" x 3.5".  Sure... I guess that makes sense.  (Upon doing some internet research, I found that the wood is cut to the correct size, but it shrinks when dried.)

I purchased my piece of wood, took it home, "ripped" it with my circular saw, then primed and painted it with Barn Paint.  The good news is that I did a good job of "ripping" the wood and my barn is actually barn colored.  I nailed the wood up with more nails than should be necessary, and put the hardware back on.  It all worked out well, though the old paint is a little faded, so the new piece sticks out a bit.

Snow was pleased to have her stall back in good repair...

but she's pretty sure she can bust out again if need be.

At least when she does, I'll be a bit more prepared to repair the damage.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Charity Event

It's Friday, and I'm happy to have survived another work week.  Thankfully, I can come back to the farm and decompress.

I'm also happy that the weekend is here because this Saturday there will be a great charity event to benefit Charm City Animal Rescue and the Baltimore Pit Bull Project.

The Baltimore Sun did a story on the event:

The best part is that the event will be close to home for me.  Thus, I will likely make an appearance.  You should too.

In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the end of the day.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Snow is still on lock-down, and it has created some problems on the farm.  She's bored, and she wants out.  Donkey is bored without his partner in crime.  Ellie Mae wants to be bored, but Donkey keeps bothering her.

In light of all of this, Donkey has taken to redecorating the barn.  He has decided that all brooms should be in the pasture and now, he is of the firm belief that the buckets belong with the brooms.

To make matters worse, Donkey has also taken to moving the wicker loveseat that we keep in the barn.  He destroyed the cushion a while ago (he also preferred that the cushion be placed in the pasture), but now he wants the loveseat to be in the middle of the aisle.  Once loveseat has been moved, someone has developed the terrible habit of pooping on it.

It seems that Bully Hill Farm is on a slow, downward descent to chaos.  The changes are almost imperceptible on a day to day basis, but once you step back and look, it's surprising.  Giant horse in stall... nothing strange about that, she just had surgery.  Bored Donkey destroying barn... well, that's sort of funny.  Seemingly permanent foster dog finds a kitten... sort of sweet.  But all put together:

Giant angry horse stuck in stall yelling to the crazed donkey that is throwing buckets around, while a kitten (now living in your house after being pulled from the pond by the pit bull dog you agreed to foster two years ago) is stampeding through the house, yowling for food. 

This seems like the the makings if some sort of Orwellian coup d'etat.  I'm pretty sure that this all ends with Donkey setting himself up as some sort of Benito Mussolini figure, ruling a small, independent nation-state, with lots of buckets.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Troubles with Kitten

James Van Der Beek has gotten comfortable in his new living environment now, and he has become an unstoppable force.  Nobody is safe from his unbridled aggression.  One minute you can be having a pleasant time, cooking or getting a drink from the refrigerator; the next minute, you have a vicious cat clinging to your leg and biting you on the calf.

Here he is moments before attacking poor Kana: 

Kana was sitting peacefully when the little monster slunk-down next to her, his tail lashing about, an obvious tell that he was about to attack.

Thankfully, Kana has been a good sport, but she has her limits. 

We've tried to separate James Van Der Beek in the exercise room, but he'll climb over a baby gate.  He'll climb over two baby gates and jump from 6 feet in the air.  He can't be stopped by obstacles or conventional weapons.

Hopefully, this is just his kitten stage, and he will grow out of some of this behavior.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Snow is back.

Snow is back, safe and more or less sound.

Apart from having a rubber shoe on the bottom of her hoof, it's hard to tell that she had surgery.  The University of Pennsylvania farrier rounded her foot out quite nicely and used an acrylic paste to fill in the area where they cut open the hoof.

Snow will be stall bound for a few weeks, but she should be back to her old antics shortly.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

No Hoof, No Horse

It's an old saying, and it rings true.  Sure, I just heard it about a year ago, but whatever; when a horse has hoof problems it can be really problematic.  Unfortunately, Snow has a hoof problem. 

A few weeks ago, our farrier noticed something a bit off when trimming Snow's hoof.  I would have never noticed it.  There was a slight dimple about the size of a dime, between 10 and 11 O' Clock on her front driver's side hoof.  The farrier advised that we should watch it because it could be a keratoma.  Snow has not shown signs of lameness, so I was not immediately concerned.

That changed after a bit of internet research.  I learned that a keratoma is a non-malignant tumor that can form in the inner layer of the hoof wall.  As the tumor grows, it can separate the hoof wall laminae, causing pain, lameness, and potentially allowing for infections.  There were descriptions of puss, and lots of nasty post-surgery pictures.  This was bad.

We called our equine vet and had some x-rays done of Snow's foot.  They revealed that she indeed has a keratoma.

It's small, and thankfully, not nearly as bad as some of the cases shown on the internet, but the vet recommended surgery.  The vet also recommended that we have that surgery performed at University of Pennsylvania.  Ouch....

We consulted with a surgeon at University of Pennsylvania's famed New Bolton Center.  These are the folks that conducted the surgery for Barbaro and work on the Budweiser Clydesdales.  Thus, their references checked out. 

We scheduled the surgery and secured a horse transport for July 28th.  It is not going to be cheap, but we want to keep the horse, so we need to fix the hoof.

JULY 28- Morning

So, at 6 a.m. this morning, the horse transport folks showed up with a large truck and trailer.  Indeed, it was too large to come down the driveway.  This left us with the option of walking a very strong horse down our driveway, accross the street, and into a horse trailer.  I figured there was about a 50% chance that I was going to be the one going to the hospital.

To make a long story short, there was new grass that needed to be eaten, cars to be snorted at, a barking Cowboy made an appearance, there was a School bus, we had to get Donkey and use him as bait, and 30 minutes later, Snow got on the trailer.

The drive to New Bolton Center went much smoother.  While unloading her from the trailor and taking her to her stall, I was struck by just how big Snow is compared to other horses.  She seems like she is almost twice the size of the thoroughbred in the stall accross the aisle from her.  That seems about right because Snow weighed in at 1,912 lbs.  
We spoke with her surgeon after getting her settled.  She will undergoe surgery in the morning.  They will first have to cut away the hoof wall to reveal the mass, like so:

Once the tumor is accessible, they will remove it, and then fit her with a special, hand-made shoe.  We can take her home on Saturday, but she will need to be on bed rest. 

I'm confident that she will be fine, but we will get word tomorrow afternoon.
July 28- Afternoon

Back on the farm, Ellie seems to be focusing more on the "no horse" part of the equation.  Her buddy is gone and she is really upset.  She is pacing around, looking for Snow... and crying.  Donkey is with her, but apparently that is not sufficient.  Ellie wants her Snow back.  It is crushingly sad.

Hopefully, Snow will be back and things will be back to normal soon.

July 29- Update

We heard from the vet today around noon.  Snow's surgery went well, and the keratoma came out in one piece.  Snow is conscious and back up on her feet.  She needs to get are large dose of antibiotics this afternoon, and then they want to monitor her a bit longer to see how she does on the meds.  We're trying to determine if we can get her on Saturday afternoon or if we need to wait until Sunday morning.

This is all good news.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A New Friend

The day started off pretty normal.  I woke up around 5 a.m., had a cup of coffee, did my morning chores, ate a few meals, watched the Tour de France, took a nap... you know, the normal stuff.  Things, however, got a little exciting in the afternoon.

I let Kana out, then popped up to the barn to check on the horses and donkey (there are some equine issues which I will have to post about later).  As I was up with the horses, I heard quite a commotion and noticed that Kana was jumping into Big Fat Pond.  I walked down, expecting to see Kana chasing a rat, mouse, rabbit, etc..., but it was not a rat, mouse, rabbit, opossum, or anything of the ilk.  What I found was this:

Not knowing Kana's intentions, I picked up the little kitten, and he promptly sunk his vicious kitten fangs into my pinky finger.  His face looked something like this whilst biting me:

So it looks like I'm the new guardian of a small, blue-eyed, long-haired, grey tabby kitten... with sharp kitten teeth.  A quick investigation revealed that he is a boy kitty, about 6 weeks old or so.
Things got off on a bad foot, but we are becoming fast friends.  Currently, I'm considering the following names:

Chairman Meow Tse-tung
Special Agent Jack Bauer
Jean-Clawed Van Damme

Bitey McFurpants
James Van Der Beek

(rejected: David Our-Cat)

Feel free to pick your favorite or even make suggestions.  Winner might get a new cat!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Memorial Day

Although it is a bit odd for a man my size, I love bike racing.  I, of course, named my donkey after a famous Italian cyclist. 

Bike racing is great because it has all of the tradition of baseball, the crashes of Nascar, and all of the excitement of... well, baseball.  OK, so there tends to be some less than exciting moments in cycling, but at least you get to see beautiful landscapes during the downtimes.

Memorial Day in Baltimore means one thing to me, BikeJam.  There is a festival and bike racing all day long at Patterson Park.  My friend, Clark, is a professional photographer who was out working at the race.  (We met at an attractive bald men's convention.)  Here is a little something he put together using a new camera:

You can check out Clark's other work at his website:

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

If your childhood was anything like mine, you can use this card for your mother too.

Granted, this is probably more of a reflection of how I behaved as a child and how I was able to drive an otherwise lovely woman to the brink of insanity, but I am made from my parents' DNA, and they raised me, so each of them has to take at least 50% responsibility.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stalking Bluebirds

The pastures have finally grown in, so I let the horses out on Friday night after I did a second mowing.  They were quite pleased with the situation:

Gino proceeded to march around the fence-line in each pasture, throwing his head around to alert the world that this was now his land and he would be defending it with his little donkey life.  I saw him chasing a rabbit out of the pasture.  It had apparently offended our new donkey overlord.

(vigilant, alert, and ready to strike at any time)

The next day, I had a rare Saturday with no obligations and nothing much to do.  There is nothing better than waking up in the morning, walking out the front door with a cup of coffee and seeing horses in front of you as the sun rises in the background.  It really makes me appreciate life.  Soon, they all started snoozing in the warm sunlight:

Ellie Mae had a tough life before being rescued by the good folks at Gentle Giants.  Seeing her get to truly relax and let it all go brings a tear to my eye.

Donkey, on the otherhand, is a total jackass, but he sure is cute.

Then there is Snow... she has no time to snooze as she might miss something fun.  Instead she danced about the pasture posing.  She is something.  On this particular morning, she was amusing herself by plunging her muzzle into the water trough, blowing bubbles, and splashing the water onto the grass.  I guess that was the most fun the world was offering on a lazy morning.

As I was taking photos of the horses, I notice that there was a pair of bluebirds hunting in the same pasture.  They were determined not to let me get a good photo of them, so I had to utilize the digital zoom to get most of the shots.  Thus, the quality is a bit off, but here they are: 

Sadly, these pictures were taken over the course of more than an hour.  That says something about the state of my life.  Still, while stalking bluebirds, I also notice that the world was looking very pink and blue.

Kana found the whole thing very boring. 

She's right, it was a little unproductive, but it was a good way to spend a lazy morning.  Alas, I got on with my day and left the bluebirds to their business.  Still, it felt good to do nothing but indulge in Spring.