We were out of town for the last few days - we drove to McCall, Idaho for my cousin's wedding. Dad is still with us, and there's nothing he likes better than a roadtrip, especially one that takes him over both roads he knows from his youth and over brand new roads he's never travelled before. He gets to reminisce and also see new things. He's as happy in the car as a dog is.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
A lot of Eastern Washington is pretty dull - unless you really really like wheat - but once we were a couple of hours into Idaho it got very pretty. Especially 95 south from Grangeville down through Riggins on the Salmon river is just amazingly gorgeous. We came through Grangeville in the late afternoon, and there was a thunderstorm with lightening and hail. We stopped to take a picture of the sunset on the stormclouds, and when I opened the car door, the smell of the earth after the storm hit me full in the face. It was the most beautiful thing I've ever smelled. It was as if all the pores of the Earth opened up to drink in the moisture and then were sighing with relief. It was a sweet, warm smell, of sage and herbs and dirt. I could have stood there forever.
The wedding was lovely; the lake was beautiful and clear and cool with great sandy beaches. We enjoyed ourselves very much, had no car trouble, and got home late last night.
I had been just a little bit worried about the farm while we were gone. The day before we left, two things happened: Iris had a little nodule in her milk, and we found surprise baby chicks. Iris has never had any issues with her udder before, and the nodule, by itself, doesn't mean much - every once in a while, anyone can get a plugged duct and then have to spit out the resulting "milk clot." However, often, such things are the prelude to mastitis, and that IS a big deal which can be rapidly fatal. I didn't know what to do except inform T., our farmsitter - who had come over to go over the duties beforehand - and ask her if she was comfortable giving penicillin injections if necessary and giving Iris an extra milking every day. She said that would be no big deal and that she was used to giving horses injections and a goat couldn't possibly be harder.
Then, as we were walking back from the barn, we suddenly saw a mama hen strut out of the bushes with a whole bunch of obviously newborn baby chicks. Holy Cow! I had had no idea there was a hen brooding anywhere - I don't even know how many hens I have, although it is somewhere between fifteen and twenty. They are hard to count, they move so fast and so many of them look just alike.
"Oh no!" I cried. "Help me get them!"
We scrambled around in the tall grass and soon captured nine baby chicks and the angry, squawking mama hen. I bundled them all into the rabbit hutch (which is where I like to put newborn baby chickens to protect them from the thousand and one dangers of farm life) and gathered straw, a waterer, and chick feed.
"Do you mind? I guess there will be a bit more work than I thought..." I trailed off.
"No! Oh my goodness, they are so adorable." She didn't mind. However, she did look relieved when I told her than I am well aware that baby chicks have a sickeningly high mortality rate and I would not hold her accountable should some of them be dead when I return.
But in fact, everything is great. No chicks have died; Iris is healthy as a horse, and we had a nice, soaking rain while I was gone, which is something we desperately needed. The state of the farm is a perfect 10 - for the moment.
And, no, you may not have my farmsitter's number.