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Monday, July 29, 2013

State of the Homestead

Billy's first appearance
I've got the feeding, watering and pen cleaning down to a regular timetable and I've come to one conclusion. This takes a lot of time! I don't even have the big garden to contend with right now. The animals get all my attention.

Garden: This year was a bust. The only things that made it were snow peas (only because they came early), onions, and a few tomatoes. The grasshoppers pretty much devoured everything. 

I'm still crossing my fingers my pecan trees will survive. Rotten hoppers ate all the leaves off my pecan and lemon trees. :shakes fist at grasshoppers:  

The only thing they didn't eat was my watermelon and pumpkin. They ate my sweet potatoes, but the plants resurrected themselves so that's a bonus.

One garden has been tilled and covered in plastic to kill any weed seeds. I've already started new seedlings. With any luck, I can put them in the ground next month.

Rabbits: These little guys are such sweethearts. But they're not doing well in this heat, especially the doe. Greg and I put our heads together and decided to build a cage with a poop tray underneath so I can keep them in the house during the heat of the summer. They'll be getting a vacation every summer. When it cools off they can go back to their shady spot by my potting shed. I think they need the fresh air and sun, so I only want to do this for a few months a year. 

Whenever I have a few minutes to spare I let them run around in a secure room so they can stretch their legs and explore. Soon though, they'll have to explore separately because I don't want her getting pregnant too soon. She's too young yet. 

I wish I had taken new pictures of them, but I ran out of time. Maybe on the next homestead update.

Chickens: Many of them will be going to chicken heaven in the fall. They've served their three years and it's time to replace most of them. I am keeping one older hen only because I've become attached to her. All her life, the other hens picked on her and I always had to protect her from them. Now she can be the big cheese for a while.

The Maran chicks were moved to a bigger pen. Some are destined for the pot, others will be layers and one lucky boy is going to replace Mean Rooster. I have one chick who broke his wing--probably roughhousing with his siblings. He's convalescing in a private cage until he can fend for himself again.  

Goats: Oh, those girls. They have personality the size of Texas. I'm glad they're doing so well. I was a little concerned because Heidi is getting a bit pudgy. That little thing is always eating. I'm limiting her grain and keeping her on hay for a while so she doesn't get too big too fast.

Billy, the goat
The big news on the homestead is that we have a new Mister in the arena. After a long search, I finally found a worthwhile buck for them. Greg wants to call him Billy. 

I've hesitated getting a buck for a long time because of all the horror stories I'd heard. I hope this fella doesn't prove them right.

He's skittish with me right now, (he only arrived two days ago) but I hope he'll settle down soon. He's about 9 months old, still a little young to mate--not that he let that stop him. He tried to mount Lucy within seconds of arriving, but she said she had a headache.

The Dogs: If you read last week's blog, you know that Tank had to go through some serious pain when he tore part of his toenail. He's still limping, but he is getting scads of attention from me and Greg. We've even taken him out for more hamburgers.

Iko is limping too. He has an old injury on his hock. If he'd just let it rest, he'd heal in a few weeks, but he's always playing tag with Nana, making it worse.

Maggie is still my shadow, but now she's teamed up with Nana to keep me well-protected. The boys might be snoozing in the bedroom, but the girls are always on alert. Apparently, the boys only get up if muscle is required. 

I'll try to snap more pictures for next month, but I'll leave you with one more of Billy. I call this "The Money Shot". I think if you look closely, you'll see why.

So what have you been doing this summer? Seen any good movies?

I'd like to see Elysium when it comes out. This afternoon we'll either see RED 2 or Pacific Rim. But R.I.P.D. looks hilarious and I'd like to see that too.

Have you seen any of these? Is there anything you recommend?


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bad Foot Tank

I'm posting late today because we had an incident last night with Tank. He slipped and tore his nail at the base. To say it was painful would be an understatement. 

He bled buckets all over the floor. I finally calmed him down enough to put pressure on the bleeder and stop the geyser.

I checked on him throughout the night to make sure he wasn't developing an infection or swelling. 

As he was dozing, I got a better look at the tear and managed to snip the fur around his toe so I could see it more clearly.

It was bad. The poor baby had torn his nail at the base, right where nail meets foot.

I called the vet's office as soon as they were open and got an early appointment. But here's where I had to make some hard decisions.

Tank reacts violently to anesthetic. It was obvious he'd have to be sedated to cut this nail because of the location of the tear. Topical numbing agents wouldn't deaden the raw nerve, and injecting him with a topical anesthetic would only cause him more pain with all the needle pricks he'd have to endure.

My choice: Either let the vet take the nail off without anesthetic. Painful but quick.  Or take the chance with anesthetic and hope he doesn't succumb to three days of nausea.

I opted for no anesthetic. I swear to you, I felt his pain as clearly as it had been my own. We taped his muzzle shut to prevent him from biting anyone and three of us hung on to him.

The vet was fast, thank goodness. He cut the nail cleanly, but it took all three of us to keep him still while the vet dressed the wound and bandaged him. As soon as they put him back on the floor I took that tape off his muzzle. 

Tank was very upset so I tried to make it up to him. We headed straight to Sonic and I got him a double meat cheeseburger and some water. I'm not sure if he's forgiven me yet, but he did enjoy that hamburger.

He's snoozing now. I'm keeping Nana away from him for now so he can rest comfortably.

Hugs and good wishes to Tank are gratefully accepted. The poor boy could use them.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Let Me Be Dull

There are days when I should've never gotten out of bed. 

• Fed animals
• Cleaned house
• Lost internet

• Played catch-up on Renee Miller's launch of The Legend of Jackson Murphy
• Awarded several of my books to two winners on same launch

• Stopped to buy one little thing at a hardware store only to find every person in front of us had a major issue to resolve at the register.

• Traveled in bumper to bumper traffic to get to the airport
• Discovered the poor bastard that caused the accident had a far worse day than me. (Puts life in perspective.)

• Plane was late due to weather
• Niece (on plane) was tired and hungry
• Settled in for a nice meal

• Came home really late only to find my phone missing.
• Panicked. Called restaurant. Passed between managers for 15 minutes. They found a phone that matched my description...maybe.

• Went out to check on animals.

• Found THIS sitting on a clutch of eggs and feasting.

• Thanked heaven that Greg was home this time.

Things got better Sunday. At least I got my phone back, but I had to drive 70 miles to retrieve it. I was very lucky.

This week, if it's okay with the stars and planets, could I have a plain old dull week? I promise I won't complain.

Do you ever wish for dull days? Have you ever lost a cell phone? 

I was ready to cancel my phone if the restaurant hadn't found it.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Friends and Events

Come with me: This Saturday, July 20, Renee Miller is holding a Facebook Event to launch her latest book, The Legend of Jackson Murphy.

Now you might say, big whoop. Everyone has a launch. We all get out and cheer our friends and twenty minutes later we move on to lunch.

Not this event. Renee is a tall drink of water with a pit bull personality and good hair. She snarls, and swears, and bares her teeth occasionally, but she's also one of the funniest people I've ever met. She says all the things you wish you had said--out loud. She's a hoot!

Anyway, I don't want you to miss Renee's Facebook event. I mean it. You know I never send you off willy-nilly. Renee is going to have some serious swag at her event. Lots of people have donated books (including moi) and she has other cool stuff that you can fondle and covet. There's something to do with bees.  bzzzzzzzz

The event is open all day so you can pop in when it's convenient, but the main show (and contests) will be on from 10am to 4pm (Eastern time). 

So for my sake, (cuz I never steer you wrong) go add yourself to the guest list. I'll be there. If you don't already know Renee, I'll introduce you while I pass out the margaritas. 

If you're on Twitter, Renee is using #WWJD hashtag.


Smart Girls Love Sci Fi: All this week, my buddy Charlee Allden is celebrating the 3rd anniversary of her blog Smart Girls Love Sci Fi. This Saturday, she reminisces about all the people who frequented her blog back in its early days. That includes me!

I'm not sure what she plans to talk about, but I'll be interested in reading how we met.

If you're an SF fan, you must include Charlee's blog. She has a whole team of people blogging with her now and they talk about everything SF (even zombies) in fiction, film, and podcasts. I'll update this blog when her post goes live, but I'll also include it on Facebook.


#%^*! Reader: Still having trouble understanding Feedly. I deleted all my posts...again! Apparently, if you hold down your mouse button over "All" too long all the posts do a vanishing act. Oy! Apologies again if I missed you. I swear I'm getting better though. I deleted everything only once this week.


Lost Dog: In unrelated news, I nearly rescued a rottweiler. I was driving into town when I saw a rottie in the middle of a busy highway. I was hemmed in but as soon as I could get away from the pack, I turned the car around to try and get him off the road. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, he had vamoosed into a pasture. 

He looked so much like Tank. From what little I could see he was a big, older dog looking quite confused. All I could think was that if it had been my dog, I'd want someone to try and get a hold of him. I spent quite a while looking for him, but he was gone. I said a prayer for him and hoped for the best.

Losing Tank last year for 12 hours has left its scars. I wouldn't wish that grief on anyone.

Have you ever rescued a stray? Let's rescue Renee Miller this Saturday and then meet me over at Charlee Allden's blog. It should be fun.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Book Cover Tips & Tricks

B.E. Sanderson invited me to her blog, The Unpublished Writers' Guide to Survival to talk about the things that roll through my brain when designing book covers.

Whether you design your own or hire out, it's good to have a base understanding on why things work the way they do. Pop over and say hi. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

Then do yourself a favor and put BE Sanderson's blog on your reading list. She's had a lot of interesting guests sharing their experiences and expertise on her blog. It's a great resource!


I'm a little under the weather this week. Nothing serious. Just a sore throat. I have to brace myself for Nana's sudden bursts of energy, but yesterday she was good and everybody seemed to understand that Mom wasn't feeling so well. ...most of the time.

Nana contemplating evil on poor Tank

So I'm taking it easy for a couple of days--reading blog posts and catching up on Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, I posted about a serious run-in I had with a snake over the weekend. I think the comments were as funny as the post. 

I don't mention this often but if you'd like to friend me on Facebook, please do. I'm always glad to meet new people.

Okay, off to read blogs. I hope you'll do the same. Meet me over at BE Sanderson's.

What's on your plate this week? Do you have dogs that contemplate evil? Right after this picture was taken, Nana pounced on poor Tank.

It did not end well for Nana...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Cover Design Interview & Movie Recs

This week I appeared on Sandra Almazan Ulbrich's blog where I talk about the design process of covers. There are lots of real-world examples and a little bit of my quirkiness. Stop over and leave some love for me and Sandra.

Still having trouble with my readers. Each one has benefits and disadvantages. Since I follow so many blogs, I need something that shows the whole post, in categories, and will warn me before I delete entire categories. 

I almost opted for Bloglovin, but it only shows a preview. With so many blogs on my list that's too many mouse clicks to read each one. Feedly is good but I can't tell you how many times I've deleted posts accidentally with no idea of who I deleted. The Old Reader is easy to handle, but it won't let me use category folders.

An unrelated problem is that I think I lost the sound card on my computer. So many friends have posted videos lately, but I have no way to watch them.

:sigh: It's always something.


Finally, went to see Star Trek and World War Z. I still have bones to pick with Star Trek since the plot is a little contrived in places in order to "make" something happen, but overall it was good. I liked the nods to Star Trek Classic and the villain was surprisingly good. I didn't expect that.

World War Z was a more cerebral movie even though it was action packed. I really liked the "solution". Very solid extrapolation. Brad Pitt was excellent as always, playing a dad who will do anything to protect his family. I loved that 10-second scene when he realized he swallowed zombie juice and does something very noble.

I recommend both movies.


That's all from me this week. It's been a crazy-busy week on the farm. Blood has been spilled. Most of it mine.

Come visit me at Sandra's. And tell me if you've seen either Star Trek or World War Z. Did you like them?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Goat Days and Dog-Tired Nights

It's been a week of extraordinary accomplishments--all homestead related. 

In the past four days, we finished the goat shed, put proper latches on the goat gates (more on why later in this post),  and moved the bunnies to their permanent outdoor location, complete with an electric fan and plenty of shade and protection.

The weirdest thing we did was build a goat stand. Greg calls it the guillotine because the goat has to put her head through this hole and then we trap her there while I work on her hooves or milk her. (No milking until she gets pregnant.)

I was never sure it was going to work, but the girls happily climbed up on it knowing there'd be goodies in the food bowl on the other side of the guillotine.

Yesterday was brush-burning day. We had a dozen dead trees to bring down and burn. It took all day, but the place looks great. I wish I had taken a video of the fire. It was awesome.

We did have one goat malfunction last week. Greg and I were working on the goat shed and we kept going in and out of the pen. Unfortunately, we left to take a break and didn't notice the gate wasn't properly closed. (Hence the reason there are now double latches.)

Sure enough, the goats decided to check out the great outdoors beyond their pen. Fortunately, they know what a rattling food bucket sounds like and they came rushing toward me and followed me all the way back into the pen.


Still acclimating myself to Feedly. I deeply apologize if I missed any of your posts. Somehow instead of deleting one  category, I end up deleting ALL my feeds. It's been driving me insane. I know I'll figure it out eventually, but I'm disappointed that it's not as user-friendly as Google Reader.

I'm going to try Bloglovin too and see if that's more readable.


Well, that's what I've been up to the last few days, up to and including an impromptu get-together with friends and a special birthday dinner for Greg. What's been on your plate this past week?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Much Happier 4th of July

It's Independence Day here in the US, a day that holds mixed emotions for me. Last year, on July 2nd, we lost Tank for 12 hours. He bolted at 10pm when neighbors started celebrating early with a fireworks show that sounded more like artillery.

It was one of the worst days of our lives. 

12 hours later and our bodies wracked with pain and anguish, we were reunited when one brave woman approached Tank and called the number on his ID. Words cannot describe the joy in finding him again about a mile away. For the full story go here.

This year, we are staying home. Tank has not left the house/yard in two days and we'll keep him indoors another few days to make sure everyone's used up their fireworks.

I don't think we could survive another incident like last year.

Lots of celebrating here though. We're grilling steaks, corn on the cob, potatoes, and asparagus. There's apple pie and watermelon for desert.

Best of all we're surrounded by the kids we love...even Nana.

I'm sure a piece of steak will find its way into Tank's mouth. The Prodigal Dog always gets something extra. He's special.

My boys

Samhain is putting the print version of Mistress of the Stone on sale this week only. Almost 5 bucks off.  Check it out.

To all my US friends, Happy 4th of July!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blue New Zealand Rabbits Join the Homestead

A short post since I am running 0-60 right now, but I wanted to introduce you to the newest members of our farm.

Not to worry. These little guys are not going to be eaten.

They are blue New Zealand rabbits. The blue trait is so new the rabbit association doesn't recognize them as a distinct breed yet, but they will soon, I think.

I was very impressed with the breeder. Not only were these bunnies friendly and healthy, but the breeder kept meticulous records--always a good sign.

The farm is bustling despite the heat. I am searching in earnest for a paramour for Lucy and Heidi. I'd like a young buckling to better my chances that he won't have any bad habits. The girls have been a delight, so I'm hoping to have equally good luck with a buck.


Google Reader: I still can't decide which reader to use. I've got my feeds on Feedly and The Old Reader. Each has its good and bad points. I'm more than a little miffed with Google Reader for upsetting the apple cart.  What are you using?