the best thing about living in the country

One of the things I love about living in the country is the sound of animals instead of humans around us. Every morning we wake up to the sound of the ducks and geese fussing around the dam. Birds hopping around the roof and catching up on gossip. The sound of Chipmunk telling us its time to let him play with the big guys. Not to mention the rooster crowing about how great life is.

I just love it.

This morning when I woke up the dogs let me know we had a visitor. A big wallaby was spending some time in the middle paddock. I tried to creep closer but I spooked it.

Probably a good thing. The dogs were all set for a game of chase.

Today the sun was shining which was a nice change from the cloudy days we’ve had lately. The horses were up near the mostly finished stable munching on hay. There’s Cass, making a break so I won’t put her mask on (she has to wear a mask to avoid sunburn).

Chipmunk is now enjoying days out with the others. They all get along pretty well. The girls sort of avoid him but he and Wally are still best friends.

He’s put on a bit of weight since we got him. He’s got a big round tummy now. He’s just so adorable I can’t stand it. He comes into the casita every evening when we’re preparing their dinner and he follows us around like one of the dogs. We love him.

Wally is the biggest of the horses. And quite round. Though not as round as Cass!

Dancer is much finer than the others. Unfortunately I haven’t ridden her for a long time. I’ve been so busy and the weather hasn’t been nice. To be honest I want to ride, but not if the ground is muddy and slippery. I’m nervous enough on stable ground!

I love having horses so close to the house that I can hear them chomping grass.

When I feed them I spend time cuddling each one. Except Wally. He gets butt scratches if he’s good but no cuddles. I don’t trust him to keep his teeth to himself.

The girls love having special one on one time, though sometimes Dancer chases off Cass so she can get all the cuddles.

Animals really are good for the soul…

z

close encounters of the lion kind

 

I did something amazing.

I visited Zoodoo with a friend to play with the lion cubs!

It wasn’t cheap, but it was worth it. I justified it to myself by saying its not every day you get to roll around on the grass, hug, kiss and play with two gorgeous 6 month old white lion cubs. Its a once in a lifetime thing!

I mean, here we are, at the start of a very expensive exercise (renovating the kitchen – don’t ask) and I’m spending money on lion cub encounters.

Everyone needs a lion cub kiss at least once in their life.

The park had two 6 month old cubs, Zuri and Araali, and a litter of 3 week old cubs. We had a choice: wait 4 weeks to go play with the baby cubs, or go play with the older ones. I thought big bear hugs with big cubs would be better – more ‘lionlike’.
The cubs were so different. Araali was the quieter, more aloof of the two. Zuri was more playful and a bit devilish. And Araali had mismatched eyes. This is Araali as a baby.

This is Zuri and Araali as a babies.

This is what they look like now.

Just a bit bigger.

This is their dad – Bakari. A gorgeous, huge, white lion.

And their mom, Kiara. Obviously also white.

So much for ‘once in a lifetime’… I want to go again. Soon. I want to work there… I think I’m addicted to lion cubs…

Of course there were other animals and I patted as many of them as I could. Obviously, not this guy…

Or these guys.

Though I’d have loved to pat this baby.

I love these guys!

Apparently they’re trying to get government approval to have encounters with meercats, where you can book to go in and feed them and let them climb all over you. How great would that be! But apparently the Tasmanian government thinks that its safe enough to have an encounter with lion cubs up to 9 months old when they’re bigger than 2 newfoundlands, but its not safe to get in a pen with meercats.

Well, they have been known to maul people to death with their little teeth… Vicious little critters.

I so would love one.

Of course, they have plenty of other, calmer, sweeter animals. Like these wallabies…

and plenty of white wallabies.

But the most dangerous animal of all is this…

Hey, it IS dangerous! Haven’t you seen The Holy Grail with that monster with the big teeth… It was a bunny! I was lucky to escape with my life…
z

wally and mini me

Never say never, right?

We always used to let horses in the front yard. We had no garden in our front yard.

I now have a garden which I’m loving. I’ve really gotten into watching plants grow and flowers bloom.

I said “we are never letting horses in the yard again.”

Here is Chipmunk.

In the front yard.

Dancing dangerously close to the garden bed…

Chipmunk has been coming into the yard every day. Twice a day if we’re home.

So far he’s only eaten my blue fescue. That poor plant. It was just beginning to come back from the last time it was cropped by a horse.

He’s nibbled on my pink cordyline. He sniffed around the alyssum and got yelled at.

And he’s walked through two of the garden beds.

He has no respect!

Chipmunk and Wally have really hit it off. Wally seems totally taken by the little guy and I think he quite likes Wally as well.

So far they’ve only been allowed to spend time getting to know eachother over the fence. We’re not ready to let such a tiny horse in with such big ones.

The really interesting thing is that Wally is Chipmunk’s protector as well.

Cas hates Chipmunk. I saw her coming at him, ears back and teeth bared. Wally got between her and Chipmunk, threatening her with bites and kicks. It really is amazing to watch. I’m really surprised too. I really didn’t think Wally would take to the little guy. Its beautiful to see them together.

z

the tiny guy is home

Chipmunk is home!

We picked him up today. You know we’ve been going up to see him every afternoon and slowly getting him used to being handled, lead and taking food from our mouths.

He’s just SO cute.

He walked right up into the float behind Wayne. No fear, no panic, no trouble. He walked right up the ramp and that was that.

Of course, putting a miniature horse in a float meant for ‘normal’ sized horses was a new experience for Wayne. The breastplate/bar was above Chipmunk’s forehead…

In the end Wayne rode in the back with him just in case, to make sure he was safe. When we got home the little man just talked off calmly – poodles jumping around him, sniffing his butt and barking, Wally carrying on in the paddock. It was all new but he took it all in his stride.

As if all that wasn’t enough for the little guy in one day, Wayne walked him down the steps into the casita, all the way to the dutch door at the end where Wally was waiting to meet him new friend.

It was gorgeous.

But most of all, I couldn’t believe how calm Chipmunk was through it all, through all the new stuff: home, animals, environment. He took it all in his stride. And for the first time ever, he let me touch him all over his body and legs and wasn’t skittish at all. I got my fill of hugs today.

I’m so proud of him.

For now he’s in the tiny yard off the casita, till he settles in. Then he’ll move into the smallest of our paddocks. I don’t know if I want him running with the big horses. He’s just so small. I also want him close to the house so he can come in to ‘play’ more often.

He’ll be like one of the dogs. I’d love it if he and the dogs would play together. Wouldn’t that be cool!

z

romeo and juliet

 
This is Romeo with Juliet.
I did mention that an old friend and her family visited us on New Year’s day, right? Well I’ve finally got around to sharing the photos.
The girls are gorgeous, but best of all was the look on Juliet’s face when I introduced her to Romeo. 
It was a match made in heaven!
Of course Montana and Barney got their share of cuddles too!
Our kids. Mine just happen to be furry!
z

the pitter patter of little feet

 We’re getting a miniature horse.

Yep.

You heard me.

Wayne, who always said miniature horses were a waste of space, good for nothing, etc, was the one who decided we were getting a miniature horse.

First, Wayne said we were going to SEE him.

Yep.

You already know how THAT goes…

Meet Cheeky. At least that’s what he’s been called till now. I’m sure he’ll have a new name soon.

One look and I was in love. He’s so tiny that all I want to do is pull him on my lap and cuddle him.

He wasn’t so keen on that. He hasn’t had much work done. He’s only had a halter on once before and he got it off. I bought him a new one yesterday and Wayne managed to catch him (with a lasso!) and we got it on him.

He wasn’t impressed.

But he needs to get used to being handled. I plan to handle him a LOT. We went up to see him twice today and Wayne worked with him a bit both times. Wayne really is incredible with horses. All animals.

This handsome fellow is his dad. Indy. The sweetest quietest stallion I’ve ever met.

(I’ve never met a stallion before, but he’s quiet, trust me.)

The plan is that little Cheeky has a visit from the vet next week during which he’ll say goodbye to some parts of his anatomy which he won’t need and which he’s probably very attached to, then he’ll be coming to live with us.

Its going to be interesting.

He’s about the same size as Romeo.

I’m so excited! I’ve always loved miniature horses.

z

january = rain and wind

Things have been crazy around here lately.

Holidays are meant to be time to rest, aren’t they? Wonder what I’m doing wrong…

The weather has taken a turn for the worse. Summer in Tasmania… It got windy, really windy. So windy the poodles were pinned up against the fence yesterday. Then it started raining. Its been windy, rainy, windy and rainy, sunny, windy, sunny and windy, sunny and rainy, any and all variations of that for 3 days now.

The ditch on the side of the driveway seems to be doing its job… we haven’t had a waterfall on the garden path. So far so good.

Herman Too has joined the other ducklings and I’m pleased to say we can’t tell which one he is. That’s great news as it means his limp is so much better we can’t see it any more.

I kinda miss having him in the bathtub and saying good morning to him every morning.

I don’t miss the stinky duck poop.

Things are moving along with the plans for the new kitchen (more on that in a separate post), and the retaining wall is mostly finished. Photos of that to come once the dirt settles and the rain stops.

Could be a while…

z

retaining walls and eliminating glassware

Things are progressing… Every day is a small step forward.
Wayne’s been working really hard on the new retaining wall. This is how it looked yesterday when he stopped for the day. 
He worked in the heat all day to get this far. He’s definitely a better man than I am! Even the small bit of heat I got was enough to knock me out.
Today the weather is cold and windy. It rained most of the night too. It is Tasmania after all. 
But I’m not complaining. 
Anyway, this morning we went in to the hardware store where Wayne bought 24 bags of concrete mix. I bought 2 towel rails. 
Turns out I wasn’t quite done in the bathroom yet.
While Wayne continued on the retaining wall, getting all the posts in, I put up two towel rails. 
Till now I’ve had an over the door type of coat rack for Wayne to hang his towels and 2 hooks on the wall for mine. I was sick of knocking Wayne’s towels off the coat hooks every time I walked past them. Plus I much prefer rails to hang towels on, so today I made the leap. I know that one day I’ll be re-doing the bathroom, but till then I may as well make it more bearable. And I’m definitely liking it with the new shelves.
I’d like to say it was quick and easy. I’ve done this before. But once again it was a comedy of errors, putting the fittings on backwards, putting screws in, taking them out, re-doing things. You get the picture. At one stage I was sure I was going to hit an electric cable so I put on rubber gloves and rubber soled shoes, told everyone I loved them, closed my eyes and drilled.
Luckily I didn’t hit anything.
But Wayne did.
He hit another water pipe.
I told you, the guy should hire himself out as a water diviner. With a crowbar instead of a rod.
Luckily he hit it but didn’t puncture it. Thankfully. Herman Too is too young to hear the foul language that puncturing the pipe would have brought forth.
Did I mention Herman Too is back in the bathroom?
We released him the other day and he ran to the other ducklings in his slightly off-kilter way. They didn’t shun him for living in the big house. All was well. 
Or so we thought.
Yesterday afternoon, after the weather had turned cool, I was watering my flowers when I noticed two ducklings in a deep water bowl. One hopped out. The other was soaking wet and did not look good.
Have you ever seen a soaking wet duckling? I sure hadn’t and I was sure he was a goner.

I fished him out of the bowl, gave him to Wayne to dry and warm up while I went in search of the large plastic tub, the heating pad and blankets. The poor little thing couldn’t even walk, he just kind of crawled. I was sure he wouldn’t make it. But he did. He’s back to being chirpy and a bit brave.

Looks like Herman Too has moved back in. I suspect he’ll be here till he goes to college.

Maybe he can be our house duck.
(I’m still pretty sure Herman Too is a girl.)
Other than that, I spent most of the day today cleaning the kitchen. And by cleaning I don’t mean washing dishes and floors (though I did that too). I mean clearing out cupboards.
The work in the kitchen will be done. I need to start preparing. All the top cupboards are empty now since they’ll be the first to go. I packed up a ton of stuff we don’t need on hand and filled up boxes with things to go away.
Getting there slowly.
z

a primitive bird

Time to share something creative. Its been all ducks, geese, seeds and driveways lately on this blog.
Here’s a primitive* little bird I made out of some old fabric scaps. The inspiration came from artwork I’d seen on, where else, Pinterest.
*Primitive = my hand stitching is pretty primitive.
The idea was to make a picture using fabric instead of paints or pastels.

I learned a couple of things doing this.

I enjoyed doing it.
Its much quicker to paint or draw.
I’m way better with a brush than a needle.

It was worth trying it, though, right?

Still, I had fun. Hand stitching is therapeutic. You can do it while you watch TV if you’re not too invested in actually watching TV.

I framed it in an old frame I’d got at a tip shop. One of those ‘slide a photo in and stand it up on the dressing table’ type of frames.

Its a cheerful little bird. And its made up almost entirely of small scaps which had been destined for the bin cause they were too small to make anything else out of.

When I get the chance (time, inspiration, whatever), I’ll make another one or three.

Meanwhile, the duckling is still alive. Maybe even a little livelier today…? He cheeped at me.

I checked on him this morning, dreading what I’d find, but found a snug little duckling, some food eaten and all the water gone. Most likely spilled. Still, he was alive! That’s a win.

This afternoon I gave him a bigger box, more space but still snug and warm. I hope his foot gets better. I really do.

z

ps. When I say ‘he’, I have no idea, he could be a she like Little Herman is.

pps. Little Herman was the runt of a duckling we saved and raised a couple of years ago. I named him Little Herman and he turned out to be a she.

love our geeses to pieces

The geese have settled in well. Yesterday they started to seem comfortable in the penned enclosure, playing in the buckets of water and not phased by us looking in on them.

We decided it was time to introduce them to their new home. It involved Wayne and I ‘herding’ them out the pen, through the  yard and out to the paddock and the dam.

First photo shows them making their way through the yard. Henry leads the way. Turns out Henry is quite the brave boy!

 Scrambling up the steep dam side was a bit of hard work…

But the view from the top was worth it!

Of course, they then had to scramble down into the water. Henry led the way, of course.

Then it was just enjoying the water, after 2 days of dry land.

I think they like it here. Well, they’re still here, so here’s hoping. At least we now know they’re not homing geese.
The ducks are a bit put out. Till now it was just them on the dam, now they have to share with these gigantic birds. They’re not too impressed. I think they’ve reached a truce – sharing the dam but keeping a respectful distance.
Meanwhile the duck saga continues.
Yesterday morning we enticed the 2 mother ducks and their brood (which had halved in the last few days) into the chicken coop. From there we were able to catch the mothers and then the babies. We put them all into the safe pen. All seems well there. No losses yet.
However, this afternoon Wayne came in with a tiny duckling in his hands. This little baby has an injured leg and was apparently being trodden on and pushed around by the others. He didn’t stand a chance out there. I’ve put him in a cardboard box lined with a dog heating pad, some warm blankets and water and food. If he makes it through the night he may have a chance in here.
z