Horse Fencing

Last spring, while working on all the projects around the farm to prepare for the engagement party a lady stopped by to talk about a horse. This horse happened to be my old horse that I’d given away during my divorce. I couldn’t afford the luxury of a horse and I’d found her a good home with this family.

The lady came to tell me they weren’t much interested in her any longer. She has periods of lameness that exceeds their limits. Would I care to have her back? Would I? Wow.

Having a horse is big undertaking. It’s not like a goat or a pig who can pretty much take care of themselves as long as the essentials are provided. Wintering a large animals can be difficult. Water situations must be managed, hay and often grain to help the animal create heat is often necessary.

I approached Brent with the idea. He gazed thoughtfully off in to space for a while until I was getting nervous and then he said “we could do it”. That simple. That sweet. He wasn’t thinking of excuses not to do it, he was coming up with a plan. Who doesn’t love a guy who comes up with a plan?

We went back and forth on the subject several times. He said he’d rather have a cow, but he can see why I’d like my horse back. He gets the sentimental value and he gets the real time cost and he still wants to bring my horse home.

We didn’t actually decided until last week that we’d take the horse for sure and it wasn’t until I called and talked to the lady that I got excited. The problem is: I want her now! What a kid.

But, first – the fencing.

We decided to use a combination of twenty rod livestock fence and electric. We started pulling out the old fencing on Friday with the help of our good friend Chuck. It took the three of us and the back hoe two hours of good hard labour to removed twenty year old rusted farm fence with a steel top rail. We all begged for tetanus shots by the end, but the fence line was cleared of wire and pipe.

We decided to leave the line of trees that have grown up along that fence line. We decided it was good food for the goats (who will be keeping Autumn company in the big field) and shelter from the wind. We’ve expanded this paddock by hundreds of feet and brought the fence line over to share the one with the dogs directly off the house.

We’re aware there will be moments when we open the laundry room window and bid a happy good day to a horse. The thought makes me giggle.

On Monday our friends Tanya and Justin came over with their two pugs: Chewy and Twinkie, to help with fencing. We started around ten in the morning and by eleven we’d pushed twenty-seven posts and were nearly ready to pull some fence. We ran the new fence line across the front of the property just east of the house. We x-braced the posts and rolled out the fence, which is great work out for the legs, and hooked up the back hoe to the fence and started to pull. It tensioned beautifully!

We put Tanya and Justin to work wiring the fence to the steel posts (it’s impossible to push cedar posts on this property – I swear it’s rock only three feet down). We’re going to put up a decorative wood fence in front of the steel one to make it more visually appealing from the road at a later time.

Right now, we need to get some functional fencing.

We managed to push another seventy-seven posts and pull five hundred feet of fencing thanks to the help of our friends. In return they have plans to make us clean their driveway with a toothbrush or perhaps there’s a sewage problem we can fix. It’s worth the trade in labour to help bring Autumn home.

Today we’ll work on the electric part of the fence. It may be a time consuming process as our insulators are made for wood posts and we’re working with metal. How hard can it be to drill through metal anyway?

We have a few more weeks until Autumn comes home and there’s so much to do, but we’re making great progress.

Why the Good are Persecuted

Have you ever noticed how others have this desire to attack the things you hold dear to your heart?

My love of animals has been the most wonderful and joyful thing in my life and it has also brought me the most pain. I felt the pain of losing them far too early in years, but I’ve also felt the cruel words of those who would persecute me for my joy.

I’ve listened to people state that hunting is for the good of the deer or trying to save the world one puppy at a time was a waste of time. People seem to gain some sort of comfort or happiness from attacking those things that others hold passion and are willing to give up time, money and portions of their lives.

Everyone knows I love the animals. All sorts of animals. I’ve fallen deeply and desperately in love with a sassy blond shih poo bombshell, a shy and sweet chocolate mess and a proud bright lhasa cross who has an insane love of balls.

I also spread my love to all the animals that live at the farm. The pigs, goats, ducks and especially my little chicken nugget.

I often wonder if there was some point in my life that I was so disappointed by people that I naturally and instinctively turned towards the closest and kindest soul for comfort and love. That soul happened to belong to a four legged creature named Sam.

You’re thinking Sam is a dog, but in fact she’s a horse. Sam was a mostly thoroughbred mare with just a hint of draft – clydesdale to be exact. She was hardy and powerful, but agile and strong. She taught me how to love with passion, but never took any crap from anyone. She used teeth, hooves, muscles, blood and passion to fight against those who would aim to harm her, but she loved fully those would be kind, caring and gentle.

You don’t always need to find comfort in the arms of a human to find your place and your peace in this world. Sometimes you can find all you need in the eyes of the gentle soul that is curled around you feet, your arms or in the next room.

I don’t know why the good are persecuted. Sometimes I think I get a sniff of understanding and I can hear words like: low self-esteem, uneducated, poor upbringing, ignorance, hateful, mean and controlling.

I don’t understand why someone who feels badly, for whatever reason, would want to attack another heartbeat who feels even worse.

Duck Watch 2010 Part Two

Mr G has returned to live outside with his pal Smith. Both are five month old muscovy ducks, probably brothers. Smith is white and Mr G is white with a little grey on his back. Smith would be considered aggressive for the normally passive muscovy and Mr G lives up to the quiet reputation.

Just over two weeks ago Mr G was struck by a car while we were away on our honeymoon. We came home to find Mr G bloody in the barn. After ten days of in home care, including how to inject a duck (not for cooking) with antibiotics Mr G has returned to his more normal self outside.

Very subdued he limps around the pen and swims passively in the pond. I hope to hear his hiss again soon, but for now he continues to heal. We can even see the start of a few tail feathers that we never thought would grow. Recovery from this massive trauma has taken it’s toll on the little duck and he’s significantly smaller than the magnificent Smith who is splendid with his layering of white feathers.

Smith has been kind to Mr G since the separation. We feared Smith would beat up Mr G, but even animals can sense when one of their own is no longer a threat.

They sit together at the end of the dock and watch the swirling pond. I wonder if they daydream?

Beaver Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary

October 16, 2010 is the first day of Beaver Creek Farm Animal Sanctuary. This is exciting as I sit in my kitchen alone typing as the sun shines and the puppies nap. For those who don’t know me – I am an animal lover. If you read some of the previous posts about my animals you’ll see my devotion runs deep towards the little heartbeats without a voice.

I belonged to a non-profit rescue for several years and found it wasn’t the right place for me and my passions. I believe in helping dogs that need help. Those abused, abandoned and generally wounded by the callousness of humans. I want to give back.

It’s hard to start one of these organizations. You have to be recognized to pull dogs from bad places, but not puppy mills. What got me going on this is the mass puppy mill auction going on in Missouri on October 27, 2010. A good friend offered a donation if I was willing to foster and find one of these dogs a home. Wow. What a great leap of trust. She said if I can help one dog than it’s worth all the money. What a great lady.

So, here I am making the decision to start a rescue. It has to start private and hopefully we can become incorporated once we raise enough funds. I’m hoping for all sorts of donations. Dog food, blankets, beds, bowls, toys and money. I can’t do it without the monetary donations. I’d love to build a free spay and neuter clinic. I’d love to have a kennel to house the dogs when they first come in and have volunteers give flea baths and grooming. I’d love to have vet who would be willing to volunteer some time or give a discount on spay or neutering.

If you know someone or would like to help please join our listserver: beavercreekfarmanimalsanctuary@yahoogroups.com or go to this website: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/beavercreekfarmanimalsanctuary/

Everyday starts with a step…
Thank you for making my dreams come true and helping the animals.

Billy’s Wedding Speech (My Best Friend)

To My Best Friend on Her Wedding Day
Thank you Amy and Brent for asking me to be a part of your big day. Amy and I met when we were in high school. I was in grade 9 and Amy was in grade 10. I was walking up the stairs to a class on the second floor and thought I recognized the person in front of me and decided to pinch her butt.
It wasn’t who I thought it was. It was Amy, and she turned around pretty much ready to knock me on my ass. But as she likes to tell it, the look of fear and embarrassment on my face stopped her. As I apologized profusely she must have felt sorry for me or something and took me under her wing. Befriended me, protected me, and raised me up a bit on the social ladder.
For the longest time I didn’t know what she saw on my face that day or why she took me under her wing, until recently. Most of you know Amy and you know she loves to rescue animals. Every kind, puppies, goats, pigs, ducks or bunnies. Anything that has been abused, or is lost, and needs a place to feel safe. Well whether Amy knew it or not at the time, she rescued me that day. Knowing what we know now, I was abused, and lost, and needed to feel safe. Amy did all that. I can say without a doubt that I wouldn’t be standing here today if I hadn’t pinched that butt so many years ago.
So we grew up together. Lots of ups and a bunch of downs. We spent time playing improve games in the loft of the barn, remember Jenn. Spent a summer before college working in the Bindery at Sullivan Graphics. Singing show-tunes over top of the machines, (if you didn’t know I was gay then…) and having a crazy shampoo, soap, and whatever else we could find, fight at her parents one morning, chasing each other around the house after a week of midnight shifts.
Life sometimes separated us for periods of time but we always came back to each other and have been with each other through all the phases, adventures, mistakes, and heartbreaks. The best way I can explain it is, I am her Will and She is my Grace. In fact when the show Will and Grace 1st came on I remember calling Amy and the both of us saying “ Oh my God did someone steal our lives and make a TV show?”. I even once said to Amy, wouldn’t it be cool if my name was Will so i could be her Will. She started laughing and looked at funny, and laughed even more when i didn’t get what i just said. “You idiot” she said, “You are my Will”. Since my name is Technically Will.
And like friends do, we talked and dreamed about what our lives would be like as we grew up. We always pictured Amy living in the country on a farm with all her animals and me being an actor living in the city. I would come visit her and her husband on the farm to get away from it all. Amy and I would be in the kitchen getting dinner ready while both our men would be outside having a beer and shooting the breeze at the barbecue.
Well 3 years ago I came home and was introduced to Brent. By this time I had dropped the y from my name and was Bill. Except when I came home and my family and friends still call me Billy. Brent said “ You must be Billy, I’ve heard all about you” . I wasn’t sure if that was good or bad but I thought nice guy lets see how this goes. That 1st night the 3 of us went to out and as we got in the car Brent went to the back seat and said “ You’re Billy you ride up front with Amy”. It was one of the smartest things he could have ever done. It scored points with both me and Amy, and every time after that, when ever we got together and the 3 of us went out I rode shot gun with Amy.
For those of you who don’t really know Amy and for those of you who really do, Amy is….. How should i put this?… Amy is Complicated. And I mean that in the best possible way. Amy is a small town girl who is comfortable in the big city. She loves to go to football game one night and to a Broadway show the next. She is an English major who will read the classics of literature, poetry or a crappy romance novel all in the same week. She will speak her mind, tell you like it is and shoots from the hip. She is also love and compassion like I have never seen. She is hard and soft. She is a cowgirl, horseback riding, motorcycle driving bumpkin, and at the same time a designer handbag, $200 dollar pair of shoes, night at the opera, fly to Europe in a fabulous dress Princess.
And to be with her you have to know all this, and get it. That’s what Brent does. Brent you get all the parts of her and you fit! Not only do you fit but you do it all while respecting every part of her, and you make her happy. I couldn’t ask for more.
Back to the part of our dream of Amy and I in the Kitchen, while our guys BBQ. Well Amy’s got that dream. The house, the farm, the animals, and I can honestly say she is alone in the kitchen because I am the one out at the BBQ with Brent with a beer shooting the breeze. And I’m not sure if Brent or Amy noticed but when I came home for the engagement party after we spent the day here building picnic tables and me learning how to use power tools, we got in the truck to head back to the farm. Before Brent even got the chance I climbed in the back seat and they rode in the front together. I’m sure it wasn’t even something any of us realized, myself included. It just felt right.
Amy, I will always be your Will, and you will always be my Grace, but I am happy to know that today you have married your best friend. To Amy and Brent

Lisa’s Wedding Speech

Amy rented a cottage in early September with friends up in Long Beach for the weekend and a week later she moved into the farm. I came by the farm to help and recognized all her friends except for this one tall guy.
Amy said she met him in Wainfleet, but wouldn’t say more. Hmmm… I started in with the twenty questions, but for once my sister was silent.
What was going on? He was just helping? Who was this tall dark haired handsome man and why was he helping my sister??
Over the next few weeks Amy started hanging out more at the beach. She mentioned moonlit walks, romantic bon fires filled with wine. Every time she went to the beach the puppies followed… hmmm… he really did know the way to her heart was through her puppies.
Over the next few months I watched Brent and Amy working together. They pulled out carpet and painted walls at the farm. They laid tons of ceramic tile. Back at the beach they worked on Brent’s building, renovated cottages and planned.
Nearly three years later they continue their journey back and forth from farm to beach. The more I see them doing things together the more I realize how good they look, how strong they are and how happy.
Wow. They worked well together and I watched them grow into a lovely couple.
My sister used to be high maintenance and now she goes with the flow. I believe my sister has met her match. She has changed so much and I can see the love she has for Brent, life, the farm, her animals, puppies and the beach.
I was going to feel sorry for this new guy dating my sister and I wondered how he was going to put up with her? Today I can thank him for being patient, kind and loving.
I can see and feel the happiness you have for each other, your families and all her extra heart beats.
I have no doubt you two belong together and deserve each other.
Everything happens for a reason…
My toast: May your love affair last forever. We wish you all the best and years of laughter and love. Please raise your glasses as the Bremners and Lindhursts welcome each other.  

Brian & Ellen’s Wedding Speech

Brent and Amy’s Wedding Reception—September 18, 2010
I keep thinking of a Psalm, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”. And we are so glad that Brent and Amy are now husband and wife. It seemed a long time until they found each other. Suddenly, with the wedding scheduled, time has flown. Brent used to say it was a long interview process to find the right mate for life.
We have heard several stories about how they met. I don’t know how much truth is in them. You’ll have to ask them about that. I do know that three years ago, on September 4th, we left for a trip to Ireland. Brent drove Brian and me to the Toronto airport. We left realizing his previous relationship was broken. We returned one month later, on October 4th, and soon met Amy. We heard she and some of her friends had wanted to rent a cottage during the time we were gone. We heard Amy came to the cottage but her friends were unable to come with her. It seems that was the beginning. One story was that Amy, who is fiercely afraid of spiders, saw one or two spiders in her cottage. Her method of exterminating spiders was to throw shoes at them. However, being on vacation, she didn’t have a full arsenal of shoes to throw, so after throwing a few shoes and still having spiders around, she yelled for Brent to come help her.
Another story we heard was that Amy drove in, saw Brent in the barn, and told him she had a warm six pack of beer. Would he be able to swap it out for a cold six pack?
Then there was the quiet time when Amy was writing in her journal and Brent saw her and started to talk with her about her writing. Both were English majors in university and both enjoy writing. That was a good start. At least they had something in common.
However they actually started to know each other, they found a lot of commonality in their lives. As I said, both were English majors. Brent is on ski patrol and knows first aid and Amy is a paramedic, so there is another common trait. Both like to ski and snowboard. Amy is fearless in high places and Brent was happy to have extra hands with the roof on his barn. They both love the beach as do the dogs.
Apparently both Brent and Amy had said they did not want any permanent relationships at that point in their lives and yet love bloomed as time progressed. It is apparent when you are with them that they are well-suited to each other. Their words bounce back and forth. They are kind and understanding of one another’s feelings. Everything they exhibit points to a marriage made in God’s eyes and we are thrilled they have found each other. We welcome Amy into our family as her family has welcomed us. The pups, Taz, Gizmo and Poco, are now our grandpuppies and we look forward to a long life for all, filled with happiness and good health. Cheers to a wonderful and happy future together.

Duck Watch 2010

Employment obligations forced us home after nine days of honeymoon, but we were excited to be re-united with our four legged and feathered family. My human family cared for the barnyard in our absence and did a wonderful job. Thank you. Especially Dad.

There was a single injury to one of the ducks that took a few days for the story to unravel. We found Mr Grey Smith limping and bleeding in the barn. We weren’t sure how he got there, but my dad explained that the ducks were flying over the fence and could be found all over the farm. Did one of the cats chase the duck? I doubted it. Was it a fox or coyote? I don’t think he would have survived such an attack. Hmmm….

Mr G had big trauma to his tail area which was mutilated and full of maggots leaving him sour smelling and rotting. His left leg seemed sore, but there wasn’t an open fracture. We brought Mr G into the house and it took us over an hour to clean out most of the maggots, wash the area with antibacterial soap and then spray with a gentian violet solution that turned everything purple. We also needed to figure out how to inject him with antibiotics and we debated splinting his left leg. It was surprisingly easy to inject a duck, but this was one of the few times the internet was not helpful. When I googled “how to inject a duck” many websites came up about how to cook a tasty duck. I quickly stopped searching and used my medical training and animal experience. For anyone who needs to know: Under the wing, pull the skin and inject subcutaneously.

Friday, October 1, 2010 was the first night of treatment and his first night in the house at the farm. It was touch and go. He was lethargic and sat unmoving as we cleaned his wounds and injected the antibiotics. We sent out a little prayer and hoped that Mr G made it through the night.

On Friday night I discovered that Mr G had been hit by a car Wednesday, September 29, 2010 and survived on his own for two day before he was discovered and treatment was started. It certainly explained the severity of the injuries.

Poor Mr. G.

By Sunday Mr G seemed a little more lively and we decided to let him have a swim in the bathtub. He made a huge mess an had a blast. A digital video camera was a wedding present and we took a video, so have a look on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/user/SuperHobbyfarmer?feature=mhum#p/a/u/2/xfUAE9_rXpc

There’s also a video of Taz and Gizmo having a stellar Big Bear Fight.

By Wednesday we decided to let Mr G have a little fresh air and a wander around the backyard. He stretched his wings and started limping around enjoying the bugs in the grass and the softly falling rain. After a few minutes Mr G spread his wings and started flying. He didn’t make it over the fence, but he flew about twenty feet. This filled me with anxiety.

On Monday we built an aviary for Mr White Smith (just Smith now), so he couldn’t wander onto the road. He would fly over any fence without any trouble. He never flew more than six feet off the ground, but it was enough to put him into the dangers of the eighty kilometer per hour road. We confined Smith to the new 20×30 aviary much to his disgust. After two days he seemed unhappy, and as he watched Mr G wander he seemed agitated.

We began our discussions about the pros and cons of clipping their flight wings. We couldn’t let Mr G out for rehab because we were afraid he fly over the fence and we couldn’t catch him, but maybe something else would. Smith was a danger on the road, but if we clipped those precious six feathers they wouldn’t be able to fly from danger.

We’ve never had trouble with foxes or coyotes here at Beaver Creek Farm, but that didn’t mean it wouldn’t happen. If we did clip their flight wings we’d have to lock them up at night. More confinement, but at least during the day they could wander the spacious pond area that was secured with a four foot small animal fence.

Pros and cons to both. In the end…

We clipped their flight feathers. It was an easy process. We clipped one side and only took six feathers careful to avoid the blood feathers. Muscovy and mallard ducks only need to be clipped once a year when they molt, so in a year we can re-think and decide if clipping was the right thing to do.

It was a relief. I could let Mr G out into the immediate backyard and not worry that Smith was going to fly the fence and attack him or that Mr G would fly out and wander off. I let Smith out of the aviary and he went immediately to sooth himself in the pond. Smith looked happy again.

Post-clipping I would say both ducks came out on top. Smith got to soak in his pond and Mr G could wander happily around and sit in the yard. We’re going to have to be more responsible in locking these two up at night to ensure their safety. I don’t think it will be a problem until the snow falls and the predators get desperate for food. February.

After an hour of the backyard I found Mr G making his way towards the back porch. I opened the three doors needed to get him back into his recovery area. It was funny and familiar to allow Mr G to walk into the house and settle into his crate happy as a … duck.

Biscuit and Sausage Gravy Day!

September 28th, 2010
It’s biscuit and sausage gravy day! A few years ago on our annual pilgrimage to Florida we came across this delish and delightful dish called biscuits and sausage gravy. It’s high in every kind of fat and makes me feel sick for days, but it’s so yummy.
It smells like bacon and milk fat and makes your mouth water. My body does not like fat, especially milk fat, and the combination of these two has me doubled over with cramps post-eating. I can’t wait.
We’re heading into Cairo in hopes of finding biscuits and sausage gravy. It seems like just the place to find a southern delicacy. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures of the town and the meal.
We watched Bed of Roses last night since we couldn’t watch the Green Bay Game. We even drove up to the lodge to see the game, but the staff said they lost power earlier today and didn’t have all their channels. ESPN was the only station they didn’t have, to my great disappointment.
We did check the internet and discovered our wedding made it into the local paper. Good friends of Brent’s parents, George & Heather Duma were guests at our wedding. George wrote an amazing article in the InPort News. I recently discovered that Mr Duma is the retired editor of the Tribune and still writes a column called “By George” which is regionally syndicated. (I hope I didn’t get any of this wrong George!)
There was a romantic picture of us, Poco & Taz and Brent’s parents. The wind was making our dresses dance. I love that in the picture both Ellen and I are looking at Poco and Poco is looking at us. It’s lovely. George said the wedding was beautiful, magical, romantic and emotional without being over the top.
For us, the wedding was beautiful and we’re happy to have friends and family to celebrate. There was a moment when we were exchanging rings that I forgot about everyone, but Brent. I think that was magic. I felt like a Princess, and since Brent is the Prince of Long Beach, I finally have my throne. LOL… You can still call me Amy.
Back to our movie last night: Bed of Roses. It’s an old 80’s flick with Christian Slater and Mary Stewart Maesterson. It’s a love story, a sickly sweet romantic love story and since we in the mood for honeymoon romance we held hands and kissed through the movie. Much like a pair of kids.
The movie was so romantic we resorted to some play fighting that we both thought would lead to… sleeping. We fell asleep surrounded by puppies still holding hands. We’re like an old pair of kids.

Escaping West Virginia

Escaping West Virginia is not as easy as it sounds with our four year old GPS. We left the North Bend State Park, which is idyllically located in the middle of nowhere. Access to the park was treacherous at best, but Brent managed to navigate our huge truck and trailer around and up and down the peaks and valleys of the Appalachian Mountains.

After a short stent on a paved road the GPS told us to turn right onto a gravel road. This is okay as plenty of roads in WV are gravel that we’ve travelled. When the road turned to dirt we got nervous and when this road was growing grass we were terrified. On the passanger’s side was a two foot rail made of natural trees the size of the truck tire and on the driver’s side was vegetation so close that some was caught in the awing arms when we finally escaped. We did finally escape.

We came to the end of the road with a no non-sense vehicle barrier that would hold in a rhino. With no place to turn around we both started swearing. Viciously. Brent threatened the GPS to within an inch of it’s life and I started giggling. We were going to have to back out of here.

I grabbed the video camera and jumped out to help guide Brent. He was still cursing as he starting going backwards. A mile later we found a possible spot to turn around our thirty-two foot trailer. We were losing time by the buckets, but I couldn’t help but laugh and Brent started laughing too.

Of course, Brent didn’t really start laughing until we’d turned around and were heading out of this Texas Chainsaw inspired back road complete with dilapidated buildings and frightening pit bulls tied at the ends of sturdy chains.

As soon as we escaped from this trail the GPS advised us to turn right again on a gravel road. I looked at Brent with a smile and a nod “have you learned nothing?” I asked.

He laughed and started off down the gravel road with these words echoed in my head “it’s only two miles”. Yikes.

We saw many interesting dwellings created with a mobile home base and often held up with an old tractor on our gravel road out to highway fifty. Every time I’d get nervous Brent would say stuff like “look they have hydro, so a hydro truck must come down these roads on occassion.” I felt oddly reassured as the dust kicked up and we watched a man digging a hole in his front lawn with an ancient backhoe.

“Where do they get their equipment?” Brent asked every time we saw a track loader or a beautiful four wheel drive tractor parked next to the double wide.

We were silent as we turned onto our first paved road in several days. As the mountains and valleys fell behind us and we reached the flats of western New York and were comforted to be close to home, yet sad that our Honeymoon adventure was coming to a close.