Sunday, September 30, 2007

No Solitude Today!

Today is the Apple Cider Century bike ride in SW Michigan. About 5000 people are riding 25, 50, 62, 75 or 100 miles through the countryside.

In past years one or two of the longest distances has taken riders past Busy Solitude Farm, but this year they seem to have done a reroute. However, on my way to work I was reduced to a 25 mph crawl when I hit the "ride out" street that all the ACC participants start on.

All varieties of outfits and bicycles are on the road, including some pulling wagons with children or dogs aboard. You can tell the serious bikers by their matching outfits, in neon colored lycra, or camouflage jackets, or tandem bicycles.

It's truly amazing and I am envious of those who can cycle 100 miles! Maybe next year...

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Herding Dogs

Oskar (brown) and Ulani (gray) are Briards, that is to say French sheepdogs. (Which is not to be confused with "friendship dogs", though if you say it quickly it sounds that way!) We do not, however, keep sheep.

So they have found their own solution.

Each morning the cats -- Abe, Luke and Bodhi -- get a few moments out on the porch before breakfast. This is a relatively new addition to their busy lifestyle. As such, they are fairly cautious about where they go. But not always enough so for me.

Enter Ulani.

Now if one of the cat-boys wanders out into the yard, perhaps trying to investigate the barn, just for example, I simply say "Ulani, bring the cat!" and she races out to herd the cat back to the house. Oskar balances her on the retrieve, going left to her right or right to her left to keep the cat in line.

Without the command, the dogs stay on alert near the porch. They do not herd the cats until asked to do so. But once permission comes down, an absolute serious glee attends the task. After all, herding is a job, and a dog with a job is a happy dog.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Almost autumn

Autumn shuffles in. Usually by the end of September the furnace has been fired up at least once, but this year a particularly mild weather pattern kept the chill at bay. Last night the barn got down to the high 40s, though. With a baby in residence, I wonder if the heat lamp needs to be hung already. Egglebert loves to sit under the heat lamp -- would he allow the baby near it?!

The sweet autumn clematis surprised me by completing its bloom already. Then I thought "already? It's nearly October!"

"Back to school" passed me by this year. The gallery's art fair over Labor Day weekend stole the thunder. Now this resort area has shifted to the slow speed of off season. While that can make a day at work tedious, it also means that people have time to share a cup of coffee, discuss the day's gossip, and intentionally meet for a meal and a catch-up.

These days are the highlight of the year.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

There's a new chick on the farm!

There was a blessed event at Busy Solitude Farm about ten days ago. After waiting and waiting forever (well, 21 days), one of the golden hens hatched out a little Peep! I came home from work, checked the barn and heard a beautiful trilling voice, quite different from the mature clucking of the hens. A peek in the corner revealed a dark baby chick looking out from under the broody girl.

Of course Egglebert is the father, but I am fairly certain that the blond is not the bio-mom. Now that the feathers are coming in my guess would be Black Australorp - Cuckoo Marans cross. The bars on its wingfeathers are in an outline pattern, not as broken up as a Cuckoo.

The other key question is boy or girl? I can't tell, so I've been calling it "Chick". If it turns out to be a rooster, quick change to "Chuck"! This is the season for that name, right?