Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Year one

We have lived here on the farm for a year now. Jenny and all the animals officially weren't moved in until Mayish. At that time we were the proud caretakers of 33 beautiful and gifted chickens. Maybe 34.  Now there are 23 lovely, gifted, talented, and precocious chickens. Some might be tempted to say that they are in a better place (checkens 24 through 33) but one who would say that has clearly never been here. It is pretty nice here. Those chickens are now in various holes in the ground. Except for Reuben Jr who moved to California after multiple attempts on Reuben Sr's life. No word from him as of yet.

Climate change made for a hot summer - the hottest on record. There were forest fires the entire summer making for dirty air. I for one held my breath from June to September.

Reuben preening 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Every once in a while there comes a cat of such extraordinary quality that it would be unfair not to tell the world about her. Milton was such a cat. She had it all - cuteness, sweetness, intelligence. She died today. She was cute and sweet to the end. Her purr was one of a kind and included soft chirps. Holding her was like holding the physical embodiment of love in your arms. Really. She loved everyone. She loved cats, dogs and people.  She could walk between two quarreling cats and peace would be restored.

She was kind of a foodie, preferring pretty much any food she could get. She was orange like Morris but not finicky like Morris.

Here are some pictures from her last couple of days, spreading love until the end. She will be greatly missed.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Excited Alpaca

Direct your attention to the baby alpaca in the background. That's Siggy mid buck.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Brookside Farm

The farm is getting bigger, population-wise. It is now a business. We are in the fiber biz. We even have a name: Brookside Farm. We thought of other cleverer names like Pelican West (after the great Haircut 100 lp) Stack Rock Ranch (after the rock of the same name that we can see from our window), High Desert Farm, Pheasant Ridge or Quail Ridge because there are a lot of both. Another option was Push Me Pull You Farm. But we are sticking with Brookside because that is the name of the road we live on. We figure it wont someday be embarrassing like Pelican West might or like my FRANKIE SAYS RELAX tattoo. 

This is one of our fiber animals. We will also harvest the antlers when they are big enough. No antlers.
Below is the three month old daughter of the above fiber animal.

Friday, November 02, 2012


Occasionally, cowboys show up near the farm. At first there were two cowboys on our road. They were moseying up the road looking for a couple three cows. They don't walk, they mosey. Satisfied, they moseyed back to the truck and pulled through the gate to the same side of the fence as the cows. That's when we noticed another truck. Both trucks pulled long livestock trailers. One contained three horses and the other was empty. The cowboys cleverly set up the two trailers close to the fence to create a chute to help get the cows into the empty trailer. 

Expertly, the cowboys rounded up the cows and into the trailer they went. One cow did try to squeeze her 500 lb frame through an 8 inch gap in the bars of the fence but she quickly changed her mind and went into the trailer with no further protest. 

These were real cowboys. They looked to be in their 60s. They appeared to be in pain - sore hips, bowed legs. They're still looking for and old, black cow.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Some Alpaca Terms

Please excuse the formatting as some of this information was cut and pasted from here.
Hoof - Hard, horny foot.
Fleece - The hair
Tail - Can be found in equivalent spot as the tail in other animals such as dogs and llamas.
Kush - The cute way camelids lie down. 
Ear - Furry moveable  apendage, usually two of them,  on the head used for hearing and sometimes listening. 
Spit - a verb and a noun.
Blanket - The highest quality fleece which begins at the shoulder, runs the full length of the back and down each side until it meets the more medullated fiber on the belly. Excludes neck, leg, chest, belly, and britch. The term originated from the image of a horse's saddle blanket.
Neck - The lower quality fleece but probably softer than any fleece you produce.
Leg - See above
Belly - See leg and neck
Bertch - Unknown
CH'UMPI: Quechua word for the color sorrel.
CRIA: A camelid less than one year old.
CRIMP: The regular undulation along the length of an individual fiber or lock of fiber. A higher number of crimps per inch can indicate a finer fiber.
BERSERK MALE: A male who was afforded too much affection by humans as a cria and shows no fear of them as an adult.
FINENESS: A measure, in microns, of the diameter of individual fibers. Most often expressed as an average for a representative sample of fiber.
FLEECE WEIGHT: The weight of an entire fleece measured at the same time each season.
EPISTASIS: An interaction among genes at different loci such that the expression of genes at one locus depends on the alleles present at one or more other loci.
GUARD HAIR: Also kemp. Coarse medulated fiber. A second coat of fiber found in llamas, vicuna, guanacos, and, to a lesser degree, alpacas.
MEDULLATION: The degree to which a fleece contains medullated hair.
PACO VICUNA: A crossbred or hybrid vicuna and alpaca.
QIEILU: Quechua word for the color yellow.
QUECHUA: A group of Indian peoples of Central Peru. Original founders of the Incan civilization. Today, the Quechuan people are the primary shepherds of alpaca in the Altiplano.
YARA: Quechua word for the color black.

WOOLEN: Yarn made from fibers that are one to three inches in length and that have been carded only. Fabrics of woolen yarn are characterized as being fuzzy, thick, and bulky.
WORSTED: Yarn spun from fibers three inches in length or longer that have been carded, combed, and drawn. Combing machines straighten alpaca slivers, making the individual fibers lie parallel.
YURAQ: Quechua word for the color white.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Snow and Birds of Prey

First snow of the season yesterday. I missed it while buying energy bars and beers at the Winco. Only a couple miles away, but it was sunny and beautiful whilst at the farm a squall hit complete with high winds and snow. It was the first snow for the four horses (except maybe Willow who was born in the Netherlands). Definitely the first snow for Siggy the two month old Alpaca. 

In other news, last week was one of my birthdays and Jenny's parents were here. We went to the World Center for Birds of Prey and watched this falconry show:

Aplomado Falcon

Unrelated to the subject, Black Widow

Eurasian Eagle owl

Eurasian Eagle owl

Swainson's Hawk

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


There were two stalls in the bathroom. Feet were visible under the first stall. The other was a larger handicapped stall. No feet were visible. I opened the door and started to walk in but was stopped in my tracks when I saw that this stall was occupied. A gentleman of about 55 was sitting on the toilet, pants up and fastened - the way they might be if he where sitting on anything else in the world. He was reading a book and drinking coffee. He did not so much as glance at me as I stood there. Instead he kept reading and sipping his coffee. I quietly backed up, shut the door and high-tailed it to another bathroom where everything went as planned.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Friday, September 28, 2012

Farm Update: Raccoon

A raccoon entered the garage through the cat door to harass Champion, a small black cochin rooster. The raccoon was able to reach it's paws into the cage and pull Champion's feathers out and he tore the poor bird's comb half off. The good news is Jeremy seems to be ok otherwise. His comb was stapled back on by a professional. The bad news is, one of our free rangers, a barred rock was killed. That was two nights ago. Last night all the free rangers (the Davis's as they are known) roosted in their coop. Their coop used to be casa non grada because of a former raccoon attack. That was what motivated them to start sleeping in trees in the first place. The new attack reversed that motivation. Hopefully they will sleep in the coop from now on.
Other good news: I saw Lilly the cat formerly known as Kinten. She had been gone since the dogs moved in. She was walking down the road with Mr. Boehm and his dog. Boehm said she adopted him.

I set a couple of traps to try and catch the raccoon to no success. We tried to get the three "barn" cats to sleep in the grage so we would catch them in the traps. Only two complied with our request.

Champion by Jenny Hunter

I am not a hunter but visions of a raccoon hat keep popping into my mind.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Heermann's Gull and sand

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Farm Project

We are building a run-in for two horses that are moving in next week. At the moment it looks like an amateur Christo and Jean-Claude installation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Blog Update Second Try

A few days ago I wrote a blog update that I called, Blog Update. I had settled on that title because comments by a friend made me want to update my blog. The friend complimented my writing. I do well with compliments and compliments seem to carry more cache when the complimenter is talented in the field he or she is complimenting. I started to write Blog Update at a place that advertised free wifi for $2.95. That place was the Oakland Airport. I continued the update at a similar but much larger place that also advertised free wifi. This time the words, "free wifi," was not followed by a price. For the record, even if the free wifi in Oakland had been half price I wouldn't have paid. I have grown accustomed to free stuff where computers are concerned - not counting computers.

This other place with free wifi was the Salt Lake City Airport. The free Internet was everything it said it would be - free and Internet. I finished the post, complete with links and photographs. I was having such a great time that I was the last one on the plane. But before I got on the plane I pushed the refresh button and Blog Update with all of it's embedded links and photographs was replaced with something resembling this: Blog fghaiod. Intriguing but it did not convey whatever it was I was trying to convey.

The reason I was in Oakland was because it has the second closest airport to San Francisco after the San Francisco Airport. And I was in San Francisco because Tenspeed Hero has a show at The Rapha Cycle Club on Filmore and Filbert. Luke Hero, Becca Intern Hero and I were there installing our Tour De France illustrations (illustrated by Becca). We spent a couple of days trying to ignore the plaintive whispers of wool cycling clothing imploring us to adopt (buy) them. But Heroes are only human and I was inevitably broken down by a pair of socks that go by the name, Rapha City Riding Socks. The City Riding Socks rightfully pointed out that I had, heretofore, been riding in cities with decidedly rural and in some cases suburban socks. "You need us," they said.

The show looked great and our hosts were excellent. Thank you Rapha Cycle Club. And thank you Belinda and Nick for the great company, food and inexplicably comfortable foldout couch. And thanks Andrea for the free admission to the Academy of Sciences. And especially thanks to Jenny for minding the farm while I was away.


Bobcat admiring my Rapha City Riding Socks

Bobcat tasting the air

Bobcat freeing me of my glasses 

Not sure who this is

One of Becca's illustrations

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Chicken Hawks

The Davis's (that's what the free range chickens are known as) have been sleeping inside since three of their family members were killed by a probable hawk. Or probably killed by an actual hawk. Or actually killed by something. Maybe a hawk. We left the farm to run some errands and Jenny came back to a dead chicken. Upon further investigation we discovered that two others were gone. Reuben was hurt - missing feathers and there was some blood on his back. He hasn't left his coop in a week. He spent the first couple of nights sleeping on the floor. This from a chicken who usually sleeps fairly high up in a tree. It's sad to see only a couple of hens here and there roaming the yard. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

William Lewis Cabin Painter

The great and powerful Bill Lewis drew or painted or sketched this. There are many more beautiful cabin paintings on his website.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Not Watching the Olympics

Even though my neighbor Kristin Armstrong won a Golden medallion today (today was a few days ago now). And my other neighbor, from across the pond, Bradley Wiggins also won a similar prize in a similar event.
But I would watch the Olympics if I could figure out how. An afternoon break from the oppression that we call summer in Boise would be welcome.

Part II
The next two pictures shows the view from the sprinklers - the sprinklers that want as much attention as the animals. The animals are partly to blame for this sprinkler neediness. Intrepid likes to play in the sprinklers. He scratches his belly on the business end while rhythmically kicking the sprinkler's pipe. It goes a little something like this: rub, kick, rub, kick, rub rub, kick kick, rib, kick, rub, kick..." Meanwhile he hums. If you listen carefully his hums start to sound like a musical, "ahhh, that's it, yeah, oooh, you know me so well."

photo by Jenny Hunter
 Part III

Our caterpillar Brian has a flake of kitty litter stuck to his face. He has long term dreams of flying. We do not have the heart to tell him that he is a lowly caterpillar and unless he can somehow magically turn into a butterfly, or a moth maybe, that it isn't going to happen.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Blog Post

I've heard from a reliable source that I do not post very often. So as I write these words I will think of something to post. In the mean time, please enjoy the following photograph:

Still thinking. Check out the cows etc...

Turkeys and cows across the road. And a pheasant. 
I'm taking too long. Its bed time. We go to bed early on the farm.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Reuben is looking beautiful and proud after recovering from the beating his son gave him. He spends more time with the hens and mates with them now that JR moved to California. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back at the Farm

I just spent the last ten days in Phoenix Arizona supervising the art installation for an exhibit. I also installed some but mostly watched because we (New Catalogue et al) were in the able hands of Laura Best, the best art installer this side of the Colorado. Or that side. Maybe both sides.

Now I am back at the farm with Jenny and the animals. The most pressing task is getting the archaic irrigation system working. Intrepid enjoys a good rub on the sprinkler. The sprinkler's brass fittings bend pliantly and break jaggedly in response to Intrepid's loving caresses.  Intrepid weights about 1600 Lbs.

For the record, the farm record, I replaced three quick connects in the south pasture.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Conversation with the King

A friend of mine, a former band mate - no! we aren't getting the old band back together, stop it! - and I were talking about how different the person we think we are and the person we are is. (Is that a great sentence or are it?) For example, he said Netflix knows his taste better than he does. How many of us would make a top ten list including films we have only seen once, while films we've watched over and over wouldn't even make the top 11? And I would never admit that I really like the novels of J. K. Rowling. I am much more of a Faulkner man, although I have only read him on tape. Now I am trying to decide if it is better to strive to be the person I think I am or to embrace the person I am. This discussion reminded me of a post from the first year of this blog.
This just occurred to me: if you are writing a dating profile for match dot com, describe the person you think you are. Nobody wants to date the person you actually are. Sorry, but think of it this way: if the pictures of hambergers at fast food restaurants looked like the actual hambergers, nobody would eat them. Don't let that happen to you.

The former band mate's name is Space King Midas aka King Space Midas.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Horses I Found

The two closer horses belong here. That's Athos and Intrepid. The reddish brown horse and the grey horse on the right and in the field are strays.

Tossie and Treppie poo (that's what they call eachother) were excited to see these horses. I was worried because the were headed toward Scenic Byway highway 55.

 These boys were pretty happy to be free but stressed out to be on opposite sides of a barbwire fence.

I called Jenny in California. We were both at a loss at how to keep these guys safe. As you can see in this photo I figured something out. I went to a neighbor to see if she had an idea as she rides everyday. But she wasn't home. On my way home, the horses started walking in the right direction - away from the highway. But then they stopped. I grabbed a tie-down strap from the back of my rig (that's what I call my car now that I live on a farm). I approached the chestnut horse on foot and placed the strap over his head. Then he followed me home like a well trained dog. The gray followed him. Together, we walked into the arena. Meanwhile, Jenny made some phone calls and discovered the owners.

We thought we might keep them. One of the women Jenny talked to indicated that these horse might not be wanted. Unfortunately, the teenage boy who called to arrange pick up said that they did want them. But they sure look pretty in our pasture.

Here is the teenage boy and a young woman claiming the horses. It took them about a half hour to catch them. But then they hopped on and rode off into the sunset. Except that the sun sets in the west and they went east. Stupid kids. Don't know their cardinal directions.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blood and Feathers

Yesterday I came home and saw Reuben Jr, Reuben's eldest (only) son, walking by the new chicken coop.  I was thinking, "we should just call him Jr." Then I noticed something confounding: he looked a lot like Reuben Sr. Several characteristics separated the two birds (Yes, chickens are birds): Reuben has large areas of white between his black nape and tail. Jr has black speckles and quite a bit of yellow in the same area. Reuben has long spurs and Jr has short ones. Jr makes up for his tiny tools with a larger comb and a spectacular tail. The biggest difference is that Reuben will let you walk up to him and Jr wont.
So, I walked up to the rooster. He did not attempt to run away. He had long spurs. Quick quiz: which rooster is this? Correct. Reuben. He had blood streaks on his back and wings. He had scabs on his comb. Apparently an unsanctioned cock fight happened while I was at school. Again, I was at school. I attended graduate critiques between 8 - 10 and immediately following the crits, I met with two colleagues at *Big City Coffee for breakfast. There were many witnesses.

Reuben appeared healthy otherwise. He was hopping onto fence posts and crowing. He was foraging. I half expected to find Jr dead, lying in a pool of blood. I found him looking the same as ever. I have yet to get close enough to see if he was injured.

Update: I saw Jr. His right leg and spur are completely bloody. Reuben did not show up for breakfast. When I found him he was sitting statue still in the pasture. I thought he had died standing. He moved when I approached but he was beaten to a pulp; covered in blood. I tried to catch him. Failed. I tried to catch Jr. I shut him in the coop with the hens then tried to catch him. He went berserk. I grabbed his tail (see photo) and he screamed. Before I could get a grip on his back his tail expatriated from Jr's body. Not sure what to do next but I loaded the gun.

Put Bullet on Reuben watch

Gotta go. Horses running free. Not ours.

Sunday, May 06, 2012


We buried Zachary Cochin Rooster Hunter today. He was a good rooster. He was a gentleman rooster; always waited for the hens to eat before he would.
Not long ago he was found hiding behind a nest box. Upon further inspection blood was decorating his already blood red comb. All efforts were made to encourage him to rejoin the flock proved futile. His son or nephew, or maybe both, pecked him mercilessly. His time had come. Zachary had to move. For his safety, Mr. Rooster-Hunter was placed in protective custody in the tack room. His end loomed. Today he left us. He is now with Rin Tin Tin, Lassies 3 through 7, Adam Yauch, Abraham Lincoln and others.

Zachery: Rooster, father, lover, friend. He is survived by all manner of relatives: sister/daughters, nephew/sons, daughter/wives. He will be missed.