Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is It Spring Yet?

At Rainbow's End Farm here in North Texas, we're making a slow transition into deep autumn.

Mild weather over the last few weeks and some lovely, lovely rain after this summer's record-breaking heat and drought have the fauna in a tizzy. Tender grass is cropping up, trying to get re-established as morning temperatures flirt with freezing. Even the forsythia seems confused. I'm concerned the drought may have taken out one of the shrubs, but the other has popped out a few tentative blooms nearly three months early. If the plants are using up their resources in a pseudo-spring burst of energy, what will the real spring bring?

The trees that didn't drop their leaves during the summer drought have clung to them long past normal. Not only isn't there much fall color this year, there aren't many leaves to rake yet. Suburbanites would no doubt rejoice over that reprieve, but I try to put a few dozen bags up to keep the goats happily munching away throughout the winter, and I need to put them up dry, not cold and damp.

It's always something.

The photo at the top of this post is of my front yard. The large live oak that dominates the view is one of the few trees showing fall color right now. Live oaks actually retain their leaves over winter and drop them in the spring, which usually means more tasty leaves for the horses and goats just before the grasses get into full growing gear. I love how nature thinks ahead like that.

And since most of us are thinking leftovers right after Thanksgiving, here are a couple of leftover pictures I found as I'm clearing out the albums getting ready for 2012.

The summer harvest of crabapples from the tree in my backyard. I made crabapple-sauce with some of these, but the majority were fed out as treats to the goats and horses.
A roadrunner on the ramp to my porch. During the worst of the drought, a pair of them would come to drink out of the water bowl I left out for Magic, the cat, and any other passers-by who needed it.
 The horses seem convinced the coming winter will be a cold one and are growing in their winter coats accordingly. I'll have pictures next week of how my guys transform into shaggy mountain ponies 5 months out of the year.

Are there other pictures of the farm you'd like to see?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Black Dog Syndrome

As we slide into the holiday season, I'd like to offer a reminder to consider adoption, rescue or fostering when the time is right to open your heart and home to new forever friends, whatever their species.

It's your reward as well as theirs. I know. I'm mom to a number of rescues and strays myself, animals that either came from a shelter or found their way into my life without my planning for them: 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 goats and 2 chickens.

Many of you are already aware of breed discrimination when it comes to shelter dogs. Pit bulls, Dobermans, German shepherds, and rottweilers often aren't given the same chance to find a new home as the dogs without breed stigma have. Did you know there's also color discrimination at work too? Black dogs, mainly large ones, are often overlooked at shelters. Are they too common? Not colorful enough? Too intimidating?

Please take a few moments to watch and share this video to help educate others about the plight of black dogs in shelters around the world.

A new Vet Tech Tale will be waiting when you're back from holiday shopping.

Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow animal junkies, no matter where in the world you are. And special thanks to everyone who has given a beastie or two a home not just for the holidays but for forever.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Lonely Bones

Winter 2010
Photo taken from the warmth and comfort of my desk

Mowing the pasture farthest from the house last week I ran across what should have been an unusual sight: the skeleton of a coyote. The back half of the skeleton lay undisturbed among some tallish weeds while the front half had been dragged maybe 50 feet away. Otherwise, it was pretty much intact.
Because that pasture’s fencing isn’t reliable enough for me to use for the horses and because the drought had kept the vegetation in check, I hadn’t been out to mow those 7 or 8 acres in a few months. The area is mostly hidden from the house and barn, and I rarely have need to walk it. Even after nearly 7 years here, I’m still awed by the fact I own land I don’t often see.
It was clear the coyote had died where its back-half bones were. What wasn’t so clear was why. Not just why it had died, but why there. Close by, a large pecan tree offered shelter. In fact, an armadillo or fox or something has made a den near the base of that very tree. But the coyote wasn’t under the sheltering branches. Nor was it in a nearby hollow or anywhere else a sick or injured animal might normally seek out. It was in the middle of a field. Perhaps it had been in a fight and fallen there. Maybe it had a heart attack or stroke and couldn’t move to find a more welcoming spot to die.
What saddens me is that such a death scene could play out so close to me and I be so unaware of it. So much life is going on all around me – so many little dramas and big consequences – and I want to be a part of it all. I try to keep up with the nesting swallows and robins and their offspring in the spring. With the handful of squirrels and rabbits that live nearby. I even check in occasionally on the hawk that nests in a copse of trees not quite far enough away that I don’t worry for the chickens when it’s about. I keep up with the coyotes through their songs in the night and by the rogues that come around in the daylight, only to be encouraged by me and the dogs to move along down the creek and away from our vulnerable beasties.
What’s oddest about finding the coyote skeleton in the field, though, is that this isn’t the first one to show up in that little 8-acre plot of land. Two years ago, there was a similar occurrence: bones found in the tall grass in the middle of the field, these a few hundred feet from where the new skeleton turned up.
Coincidence? Or do coyotes seek out certain areas to die as some elephants do? Two incidents does not a trend make, of course. Still, I’ll be keeping an eye out for any more skeletons that might turn up.
Meanwhile, I’ll be wondering when next I hear coyotes howling with the rising moon whether it’s the song of a hunting pack or the ghosts of those passing in the night.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Rescue Orgs Have Much To Be Thankful For

This week's guest post is by Landra Graf.

It’s November. A time to give thanks. For our rescue, Pawsibilities, November is indeed a month that we can reflect on some of the profound things we’ve accomplished this year and give thanks to those who have helped us in our efforts. During these times, giving thanks is the one true way to offer appreciation to those who may think their efforts to assist go unnoticed. So here is Pawsibilities’ Top 10 list of things our rescue is thankful for. We hope that you’ll think of some of these ‘thankful’ things as the season of giving starts, and possibly gain ideas for other ways to help, support, or become involved.
  1. Our families.  In rescue, the best support comes from those closest to you. At times, helping the animals takes away from family time. Without the backing from those you live with it’s hard to keep going, and fortunately those involved in our rescue receive a ton of help from the ones closest to our hearts.
  2. Misty
    Foster Families. Fostering a homeless animal can be a trying but very rewarding experience. Finding families willing to sacrifice their homes and time to help these animals is also difficult. Our rescue has had several come and go, but we’ve had others that go the distance.
    Including a special family that has fostered and even adopted a foster; we couldn’t do this without that family.
  3. Other Rescues. The heartache of being in rescue is the realization that you can’t save them all. We rely on other rescues to help assist in the saving. Sometimes these rescues can help and sometimes they can’t. One rescue that has always been there for Pawsibilities is Colorado Animal Rescue Express. With their help we have been able to save more animals this year then we could have ever dreamed of. Their sense of responsibility goes way beyond their own borders and if you have a chance you should visit their site.
  4. Joe
    Other businesses. Animal lovers are everywhere, and over the last year we’ve learned that businesses are willing to help if you ask—from boarders keeping an open kennel for us to pet stores that continuously host our pet fairs. This year we’ve been blessed with their support.
  5. The fundraisers. When I say fundraiser, I mean people. In rescue you run across those that want to help, but they may not have the skills needed to care for a foster. We’ve met several, and in return they help by organizing fundraisers for our group. Every little bit helps and those fundraisers can make the difference between helping 1 dog to helping 20.
  6. Shy
    Our furry foster dogs. Most of the dogs we rescue have been through hell and back, yet at the end of the day these dogs, once in our homes, become the most loveable and appreciative animals. At times they also provide some much needed comic relief.
  7. The social community. We wouldn’t be anywhere without Twitter, this wonderful blog (thank you, Phoenix), Pet Finder, or Facebook. Every rescue should be using these sites not only to promote their dogs, but to connect with others who may know something you don’t. Time again when we’ve been in a snag or needed additional help we’ve found that help through the connections that these sites provide. So don’t discount the help you can find in the most surprising sources.
  8. Jack
    9 & 10. The Rescue Community. This one mention takes up the last three. When our rescue first started we had no idea of the scope and reach other rescues or people in this community had. We were located in a small, overpopulated area and wondered how we would find homes for the dogs we were rescuing. We soon learned that there is a massive, international web consisting of directors, fosters, transporters, cross posters, and the list goes on. Soon our animals were being saved by fabulous rescues in Colorado, Nebraska, and Minnesota. There are also groups that are advocating against Breed Specific Legislation and groups focused on education. Research and communication have certainly opened our eyes to the opportunities and the passion of being in the rescue world.
So, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinners and surround yourself with the ones you love, foster dogs included, remember to give thanks to those in your personal rescue top 10 or the ones we’ve mentioned.

Pawsibilities…Are Endless is a tiny rescue located in Central-West Missouri not far from Warrensburg, Sedalia and Whiteman AFB. We specialize in helping animals in need find their forever homes. To assist in these efforts, not only do we provide local adoptions, but we work with other rescues to find homes for our furry packages across the United States. In Pawsibilities' mind, nothing compares to helping an animal find their happy-ever-after.