Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Peace Love and Joy

Our 2014 edition of the annual Hee Haw card…. Merry Christmas to all!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Trumpeter Swans for Christmas

We are blessed to see these beauties at least once a week. I consider it a wonderful Christmas gift :)
They had moved a bit, so we were able to get a little bit closer. Please see this recent post for lots of info on Trumpeter Swans!

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I’ll close with this video. I apologize for the shakiness.. super zoom is great but makes for a little instability.

Trumpeter Swans at Rest in Cut Cornfield

Linking to Wild Bird Wednesday: Check out Wild Bird Wednesday for beautiful wild birds around the world!

Have a wonderful remainder of your week.

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Friday, December 5, 2014

An Eagle and Trumpeter Swans

Mr. W is the Eagle Eye.. he spots some great photo ops for me on our road trips (sadly, I don’t always capture them the way I like). Thanks to Mr. Eagle Eye, we have been fortunate enough to observe a nice flock of Trumpeter Swans along our regular route for the past few weeks. At first, Mr. W remarked, “hey, some snow geese.” However, after I took the zoomed but blurry pics I realized they looked far too graceful to be snow geese. Trumpeter Swans they are! We have been back through that route several times since that first day. Today I was able to capture some non-blurry shots. Yay! I’ll make you wait to the end of this post for that though.

We spotted a bald eagle today also. Such a majestic and glorious bird!

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“Our” Swan Flock…
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I have included a little info from Missouri Department of Conservation on Trumpeter Swans in Missouri below. Also, I reported our sightings to the conservation department, but haven’t heard back if they have actually investigated “our” local flock or not.

“Family: Anatidae (ducks, geese, swans) in the order Anseriformes
Description: An all-white swan with a wingspan of nearly 8 feet. They fly with their extraordinarily long necks outstretched. Distinguished from tundra swan by its straight upper bill and the broad base of the bill against the eye, making the eye appear as part of the bill from a distance. Voice is a low trumpetlike sound; that of the young is higher and more nasal.
Size: Length: 60 inches (tip of bill to tip of tail).
Habitat and conservation: Formerly a common migrant statewide and summer resident in northern Missouri. Currently, individuals and family groups winter in Missouri, foraging in shallow water. Some birds may be from the wild population of the Nebraska Sandhills, but most are from captive breeding programs. If you see trumpeter swans with neck collars, use your binoculars to see the color and numbers of the collar, and report them to the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Foods: Trumpeter swans forage in shallow water on aquatic vegetation, roots, seeds, and insects.
Distribution in Missouri: Statewide.
Status: Rare winter resident at marshes, lakes, and rivers; formerly a common migrant statewide and summer resident in northern Missouri. A Species of Conservation Concern, it is considered critically imperiled in our state.
Life cycle: Trumpeter swans breed usually in freshwater habitats with dense emergent vegetation, as in inland waters and ponds. Nests are constructed of emergent vegetation and feathers, on the ground surrounded with water. Four to 6 eggs are laid; these are incubated for 33–37 days, and the young fledge in 91–119. Breeding in Missouri is extremely rare but may become more common in the future.
Human connections: There are only about 5,000 trumpeter swans in the Midwest, and they are considered extirpated from our state. Hunters who shoot trumpeter swans risk thousands of dollars in fines and possible jail. If you’re hunting snow geese, make sure you can distinguish between them and trumpeter swans!
Ecosystem connections: 
Swans, geese, and other aquatic grazers are important components of wetland, pond, and lake ecosystems, pruning the steadily growing vegetation and insect populations. In turn, these birds, especially their vulnerable eggs and young, provide food for carnivores.”

As you will see from the excerpt above, they are still considered imperiled and extirpated from our State. It warms my heart to see so many healthy Trumpeters in one flock! Also, my favorite book as a 10 or 11 year old girl was The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White. I’ve always been a bit partial to geese and swans. This has definitely been a highlight of my 2014 to say the least. They are incredibly beautiful and graceful birds.

Enjoy your weekend! Hope you can get out there and enjoy some nature in your neck of the woods!

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Friday, November 28, 2014

A Wine Barrel Chair

Not just any old chair. This is my favorite chair! And I’ve planned to blog about it since Spring! Where has this year gone?

Fabricated by a good friend of the Blacksmith’s -- from a wine barrel at a local winery. Coopers Oak Winery, to be exact.


You might see our Banjo girl peeking thru.. above.



also notice the cute socks (dressed up for Winter).

Looky, a specially designed wine glass holder built in the chair… very handy ;)

A custom laser personalization with (squee! my favorite!) hummingbirds!


yep, that’s me….

It is a beautiful piece of furniture, AND so comfy! It is also a permanent fixture in the shouse. Great for Chillaxin’ time.

Additionally, to go with the chair, there is a handmade wine glass and wine bottle holder (aka portable wine rack) and two lovely etched Coopers Oak wine glasses. There was a bottle Sawmill Sweet wine from Coopers Oak (who knew our favorite winery had such a wine?!) I did have pics for the portable wine rack also.. but alas, I cannot find them right now.

Indeed, I am one lucky gal.

The backstory: the Blacksmith’s talented woodworker friend makes some gorgeous furniture and other lovelies from wine barrels. If you’re interested, and happen to live in our neck of the woods, shoot us a note and we’ll get back to you. The craftsmanship is remarkable… Something to last for generations!

A big shout-out and THANK YOU to the talented craftsman, Mr. JM.

Cheers!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Wedding Photo Video

How is everybody doing? It’s Thanksgiving Week already.. time surely does fly!

Seems hard to believe we celebrated a wedding nearly a month ago. I put together a video with many of the wedding pics (are you ready for this? nearly 12 minutes worth!). I hope at some time in the near future to do a post with descriptions on the pics, etc. For instance, our Bride made a lot of beautiful d├ęcor, signs and keepsakes. The Groom also made several items, including a bench from a downed oak here on the farm. The guests signed the bench. The Bride’s parents are quite accomplished Vintners and several months ago they created a special wine to share with the guests (it was wonderful!). Also, the Blacksmith.. {of course, he is the Father of the Groom and my hubs}.. forged the Damascus wedding band for the Groom. You’ll see glimpses of all of these treasures and more in this video.

Be sure to catch the fourth and final song in this video -- “Last Date” by The Trip Daddys. They played the wedding reception. Awesome band and really nice guys!

Hope you enjoy! Next post, coming soon: my fabulous Wine Barrel Chair.. :)

Happy Thanksgiving to All!

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James 1:17 - Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Psalms 50:14 - Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Why oh why? Donkey Basketball

I have been very upset this week after finding out our local school is hosting Donkey Basketball. We were a big part of that school when the Fiddler attended K-12 there. We had some really great times and fundraisers through the years. None. Nada. Zip… involved exploitation of animals. I contacted the administrators of the school. The only response I received back (from one of the administrators) was very flippant (which added to my ire). I am ashamed for the school. I assume the event will proceed as planned tonight since I was informed there are indeed contracts in effect.

In my view, this ranks right up there with Donkey Roping. If you’d like to read the REAL story on Donkey Basketball, here ya go: Stop Donkey Basketball. Does anyone else find this video in the link disturbing? Especially since we are presenting that this is all “okay” to the kids in attendance.

My first question when I saw the sign in town was “Why?” With all of the other positive fundraisers out there, why must we present this to the children and make them think this type of behavior is okay? Full size humans riding miniature donkeys? Hmmm.. what is wrong with this picture?


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Mark Meyers of Peaceful Donkey Rescue wrote a wonderful article based on the age-old question: Why Do People Abuse Donkeys?

Like many answers to life’s questions, it can be found in the Bible.

“Why Do People Abuse Donkeys?

In a donkey rescue organization two questions pop up in every conversation, “Why do donkeys need rescuing?” and “Why do people abuse donkeys”. The first question is usually answered by an introduction to the 1000 plus donkeys at our rescue, the second question however has always been a tough one to answer. Who can truly understand the human mind? How can we broad brush everyone? What separates those who handle animals roughly from those who inflict abuse? How can one truly explain the motivation behind abuse?

The answer came one Saturday afternoon while giving a tour of the rescue to a church group.  The kids and parents alike genuinely enjoyed the donkeys.  They saw how lovable and sweet these animals were.  They remarked on how gentle and quiet they were with even the smallest of the children.  They saw first hand the fear and aggression in the abused donkeys.  They saw the scars, the split ears, the lumps, the bruises and the cut noses.  They were able, for the first time in many of their lives, to see firsthand the result of cruelty that no animal should ever have to face.

After the tour, the Pastor made the remark that the donkey was the only mammal in the bible to be given the power of human speech.  I was amazed!  I had heard the stories in Sunday School, even read the bible a time or two, but how could I have forgotten this?  Embarrassed, I asked to know more.  I thought that this might make an interesting addition to my tours, lectures and arguments.  What I heard went much deeper than an amusing anecdote, what I heard answered the age old question, “Why do people abuse donkeys?”
Numbers 22:21
Balaam, a prophet of God, was employed by some local rich folks to speak out against Israel. He saddled up his donkey and began a trip to Kirjathhuzoth. God was really upset that Balaam was going against his wishes and sent an angel to stop him. As the man and donkey traveled down a road the donkey saw the angel in front of her and turned away. Angry at her apparent misbehavior, Balaam whipped the donkey. Again the pair traveled on until the donkey once again saw the angel blocking the road. Again she turned away and again she was whipped.

Once their journey resumed, the angel blocked a narrow passage between two walls and as the donkey turned away, she crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall.  As the donkey could not get away from the angel, she simply laid down.  Balaam was outraged by this transgression and whipped the donkey without mercy.

As God saw this taking place, He gave the donkey the gift of speech.  The donkey said, in only the way a donkey could, “Why are you beating me? Am I not the same donkey that has been faithful to you all of these years? Am I not the same donkey who has always taken you wherever you wanted to go? Why are you beating me?”

And Balaam replied, “Because you made me look stupid”

The story goes on the say that the angel appeared to Balaam and explained to him that if the donkey had not turned away he would have killed him. And Balaam saw the error of his ways and they all lived happily ever after.

But...........

I had the answer! I was amazed at its simplicity and honesty. I had always searched for a deeper meaning; perhaps a genetic deficiency, or eating paint chips as children, or too much fast food and television. But it was none of these things. It was something simpler, something that weak people have no tolerance for and ignorant people lash out at. The one thing that attacks us as the “superior” being.

Question: Why do people abuse donkey?

Answer: Because they make us look stupid.

No other animal that I have ever come across has the ability to take all of your power away like a donkey. In a parade one of my donkeys stopped and would not move. On a pack trip 2 of my donkeys decided that it was time to stop after just 2 hours of hiking. In both cases I was powerless. They had all of the control over the situation. If a donkey makes a decision, he will stand by it until the end. The only way to get him to change his decision is to make him think that he has had a better idea.

You cannot force a donkey to do anything. Beating will only make him more persistent. More persistent leads to more frustration on the part of the abuser. More frustration leads to more beating. You can beat most animals into doing anything including killing themselves.You cannot do this to a donkey. Simply stated, they make us look stupid.

Eventually, we resumed the parade route as well as the pack trip.  In both cases, the donkeys simply had made a new decision and all was well in their world once again.  As I enjoy these particular traits of my donkeys, I never get frustrated with it.  Many times I take the opportunity to sit back and reflect on what may lie in my path (life) that may be blocking my way.

Mark Meyers
Executive Director
Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue”

Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue is a wonderful organization. You can check them out here.

I hope this never happens again. If it does (God Forbid), I hope my army of donkey/critter lovers will help me out :) In the meantime, please at least consider this: if you see your locals are going to present such an event, perhaps you can just donate money directly to the cause (instead of promoting Donkey Basketball)… and let them know you do not approve.

Donkey Whisperer..
over and out! ♥

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Oh, November…

You are passing much too quickly!

I took a little time to check out some things going on around the farm right before dusk. 70’s today.. cold weather on the way!

Peeky Calf – he would have taken the treat right from my hand, but Shorty dog shooed him away.
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Great Blue Heron, I’ve tried for years to get a decent picture of you. We’re getting there, but still a bit grainy.

Reflecting…
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I found this old poem again, and it reminds me there is so much to love about November and the weeks to come.

"Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An' I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers."
-  Edgar A. Guest, Thanksgiving

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Calling all Fans of Long Ears and Fiddle Music

“Too few people understand the Missouri Mule, a beast of burden in peace and war.
They worked farms, forests and mines, yet never shed a reputation for stubbornness, even cantankerousness.
Those who knew them tell a better story: Mules are intelligent, hardworking, agile, quick to learn, dependable – and wiser than horses. “You must be smarter than a mule to work a mule,” they say.

Long-time MU agriculture journalist and photojournalist Duane Dailey spent years photographing Missouri mules and their owners. This work, created mostly in 1982-83, has never before been exhibited. What we learn from these stubborn, gentle, persistent creatures, and the men and women devoted to them, is a beautiful partnership of man and beast.”

This McDougall Center documentary features the music of our Fiddler and his friends... and they make a special appearance at the end of this less-than-10 minute clip.

Missouri Mules and Men from McDougall Center on Vimeo.

Enjoy!

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