Friday, April 07, 2006

This Blog is Changing

With the weather now slowly getting warmer, it's time to make a change with this blog. For the winter months I've had time to write many entries to this blog but with the warmer weather coming I'm going to be outside far more than writing these entries will allow. So, for the coming months at least, this blog will be "photo-based" rather than "text-based".

Here's the scoop:

I've picked up the camera again and I want to get busy with farm related and non-farm related photography. By incorporating photos into this blog I'll have a partial creative outlet for what I do with the camera and you'll get a chance to visually see the farm, the animals, and some of what I find in the Dutchess/Columbia/Ulster County area.

Of course, there will still be at least a small amount of text and the occasional story.

And speaking of text, here comes the last REALLY long entry for a while! I've gone back through the blog and tried to tie up some loose ends while adding some new stuff.

(You might need coffee for this!)

* Regarding the dairy farmer who never called back about my possibly volunteering at his farm, I am no longer wondering why he never called back. I had told him that I did not wish to have anything to do with veal but I was unaware at the time that as a dairy farmer he is a part of the veal industry. I would never have approached a dairy farm if I had known and so he knew ahead of me that it wouldn't have been a good fit.

* I haven't been to the soup kitchen in a while now. Any free time I have I give to the Woodstock farm and a smaller percentage to the Catskill Animal Sanctuary. If I were to not go AT ALL to the kitchen, it actually wouldn't even matter from a "needs" standpoint. The kitchen has no shortage of help whereas the farms are in constant need of help. Again, I'm sure I'll go back to the kitchen but on a here-and-there basis to keep in touch with the people that work there and with some of the clients. Ken still occasionally volunteers at the kitchen.

* As three housemates, Ken, Anthony, and I have run into some small junk that comes from three people living in close quarters but all gets worked out and I'm still very happy here. I wish this was more of a rural area but as I tell everyone this place is near EVERYTHING so it has terrific advantages. I drove to Great Barrington, MA the other day to see the new Neil Young film and it only took 1 hour which is only 15 minutes longer than it takes to drive to work.

* I am no longer "a little pudgy"! Well, maybe slightly but the coming warm weather and walking during the week will take that away. The farm has definitely kept me from putting on more of a "winter coat" this winter!

* Festivus and Girl are doing good though Girl's been having trouble with her back legs. She's about 14 which is old for a German Shepard.

* I was doing good catching up on the many films that I've missed the past 5 years or so but I've since slacked off due to the farm. Will get on track again!

* If you haven't seen the "Ducks vs. Penguins" animated soccer game yet, here's another chance! It's really cool! You won't be disappointed! Again, you'll need a high speed connection and turn on your speakers!:

* The Woodstock Sanctuary is about 48 acres. Much of it is wooded which is why I underguessed it's size by so much!

* Talked to Sheila in Scotland the other week! She's doing good and may be back soon for another visit!

* Morgan is still at the farm. He'll be leaving at some point to start his own excavation company but it's open-ended right now as to when. Glad he's sticking around!

* Dylan now often follows me by just my calling his name. It is such a thrill to just walk with a calf (with no lead/leash) as one would walk with a dog. I suppose that "calf pecking order rules" dictate that I always lead and so Dylan never walks in front of me. He always walks at least a half a step behind me and off to one side unless he knows I'm carrying food in which case I get bodyblocked from all directions!

* Sheila introduced me to the chickens in a way that I've really taken to. Before the farm I never "got" chickens. I now see the different personalities and am having fun with the few that I key on. There's only one chicken in the "white bird coop" that I can't pick up and that's because I can't catch it!

* The other day I was finishing an apple as I was walking in the "main chicken flock" yard when all of a sudden "Pecan the Hen" LEAPED into the air and took a bite of the apple! She looked pleased with herself!

* "Brandy", the new rooster, is an absolute hit at the farm! Try to pick up an average rooster and they'll struggle with you. Some more than others. They don't really like to be handled. Not only will Brandy let you pick him up but it is impossible to find so much as a single tense muscle on his body while holding him. He is completely at ease with people. I forget who was holding Brandy the day he arrived but while the person was holding Brandy, Dylan was "testing" Brandy's leg and had the leg in his mouth all the way up to the hip! Brandy never squawked a bit and just "went with it" that his leg happened to be in a silly calf's mouth!

* Remember my saying that the roosters can be loud? The other week Jen asked me to put 9 bales of hay in the rooster house. They had apparently run out of hay and the noise in the morning was so loud without the hay that Jen and Doug apparently had trouble sleeping!

* The three Turkey's names are: Alphonso, Boone, and Hershel. One of the Guinea Hens is named Hershel as well.

* I can now pet "Mio" who is the "roaring dog" who greeted me at the door the first few times I visited the farm.

* Umm, I do know how to spell "udder"! I've always made the dummest tipos.

* I've now been to the "Catskill Animal Sanctuary" 4-5 times and have met many new people who, naturally, all share the same interest in animals. Catskill is about a 1/2 hour shorter drive time for me so when I can't make it to Woodstock with enough time to be of value and I want to get dirty I'll go to Catskill. This timing/mileage arrangement will work well when I finish the day early at work and have some extra time.

By the way, it's the "Catskill Animal Sanctuary" not the "Catskill Farm Animal Sanctuary" as mentioned previous. And "Bobo" the blind horse is a female and not a male.

* I found the location of the place that makes vegetarian raviolis but haven't stopped yet. I'm sure I will soon.

* I have yet to meet a person at the farm who I believe does not receive some type of sanctuary themselves by being at the farm. It's that kind of place.

* I never did get to Mohonk for ice-skating this season. Next year for sure!!

* A while back I said that I need to re-evaluate some things and see if I can adjust my diet to more of a non-meat and non-dairy one. I just want to mention it here that I haven't forgotten this and will get into it more in an upcoming entry. I still need a little more time.

* Also a while back, I mentioned my "Top Five" songs of all time and that I needed to add Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues" to the list. It seems silly to have a "Top Six" list, so let's take it all the way to 10.

Here are the first 5:
All Along the Watchtower (Hendrix version)
Sound of Silence (Simon & Garfunkle)
Cowgirl in the Sand (Neil Young)
Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
Reason to Believe (Tim Hardin or Rod Stewart versions)

The following additions have always been there for me (with the exception of "Tom Traubert's Blues" which I've only recently discovered), I just never commited them to a list:

Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones)
Heroes (David Bowie long version)
Tom Traubert's Blues (Tom Waits)
The Ecstacy of Gold (Ennio Morricone)
Driver 8 (REM)
Who'll Stop the Rain? (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Do you see what I see? Yeah, that makes 11 songs. Looks like I'm going to have to live with it. I cannot lop a song off this list. Well, if we're friends, that means you probably get a kick out of some of my quirks. So, consider this another quirk at no extra charge. "Top 11 Songs of All Time" it is.

Also, do you see a thread to these songs? Each one can be described as a "haunting" kind of a song. I've known about this thread for a few years. I think I like it.

* Now that they are more familiar with their surroundings, some of the goats now often wander off by themselves in the field. The herd, as a defensive formation, is still very important to all the goats but they've now relaxed in their new home to the point that the herd can disperse.

On a sad note, "Lil' Cay" had to be put to sleep. She developed a kidney problem (probably from a virus) and couldn't make it.

* Since the day I walked onto the farm I've made it a point that any relationship that I might have with an animal would not be "food based". I don't believe there is anything wrong under the right circumstances with feeding an animal to make a connection but I'm looking for a different connection with these animals.

I do have a few exceptions though. Whether at work or at the farm, I always have with me a container of "grapenut/oatmeal/granola" stuff that I eat during the day. I give a little bit of this throughout the day to Brandy and to a small, white chicken that hasn't joined a flock yet and hangs out in the yard. I'm not sure why I do it with them but it works.

For the first few times that I sat with the sheep I gave them peanuts to break the ice. The ice has now been broken and I think they're content even if I show up in their pen just to sit and smush rather than to vend out the peanuts.

Well, that's what I got so far so that's what you got so far. Thank you for reading and for letting me know that you might have liked a certain story or asked something about a particular topic. It's made for a good feeling and I absolutely wish you to know that I have received from you the "extra connectivity" that I needed when I began this blog back in December. So, thank you for that as well.

Back in a few weeks with some photos.