Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Coco and the Coyote

One of our dogs, an aging, overweight Chihuahua named Coco, got quite a scare last Wednesday.

I had gone to the barn and was working on my latest project.  It was nearly time for lunch and I was trying to finish something so I could go eat.

Suddenly Coco was screaming at the top of her lungs, and not barking.  I leaped out the front door of the barn, to find four dogs on the hill next to the driveway.  Wait ... not four dogs ... but Beau, Tinker, and Coco, and a mangy looking coyote.

And the coyote was busily trying to dodge and dive after Coco, with our Boxer Beau hazing the coyote.  I started yelling at the top of my lungs, not knowing what else to do. This apparently had the desired effect on the the coyote, for the animal broke off chasing Coco, and now had to deal with Beau who was now the aggressor.

I called Beau off, and the coyote disappeared over the ridge heading to the back field and safety.

Jumping on the quad, I went to the house to see what I could learn about all the ruckus.  Coco was on the front porch, walking around, and did not show any visible signs of injury.  Tinker, the little tan Chihuahua, was likewise in apparently uninjured shape.

Coco displaying her shaved shoulder and the wound, and Tinker.

When I began looking Coco over, I found a little blood but not nearly what it could have been.  A paper towel and a little wiping and I finally discovered a 3/8 inch wound on top of her back, between her shoulders.  I worked it a little, cleaned it up as best I could, and decided it would only take about one good stitch to close it up nicely.

My first thought was to just clean her up and leave it alone, as it certainly wasn't very serious.  However, my second thought was the lack of cleanliness in the mouth of the coyote.  It was quite obvious one of the canine teeth of the coyote had penetrated her hide, then ripped a 3/8 inch wound, much less than it could have been.

I called the vet, who told me to start for town as soon as I could.  Because the other two (Beau and Tinker) also had need of a trip to the vet for shots, I put everybody in the truck and dashed off to Porterville.

Coco got to stay for the afternoon. The vet said he rinsed and flushed the wound thoroughly, applied some antiseptic, and took the one stitch to close it up.

She is one very luck dog.  The only injury is the one showing.
Several things are disturbing about this.  First, it was 11:30 in the morning, bright sunlight, and not anywhere near what one might consider normal "hunting" time.  Second, the dogs were on the hill between my house and the bridge over the ditch, within 100 ft of the house or less.  Third, the coyote was most probably passing through the pasture below the barn and used the ditch bank as cover.  When Coco saw him coming, she had at least a moment or two to dash for the house, which probably put off the coyote's attack.

Tinker is a very fast dog, and frankly unless the coyote got a jump on her, any hunter would be hard-pressed to catch her.

In chatting with my vet, I was told several pet owners have lost cats to the coyote around the Porterville area.

Bottom line of the tale - Coco stays near the house, and this morning Tinker stayed with her.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Another Day in Paradise

As I went out the door this morning to go check on irrigation, I had no intentions of doing a follow-up on Spirit or anything else for that matter.  But Fate has other plans sometimes.

As I stepped out the door, the big peacock had visited out hilltop, and was inside the dog kennel picking through Spirit's grain for morsels.

Notice he now has a huge, beautiful tail.  One of these days, I'll catch it fanned out.
So, having grabbed a quick shot of Honk, or Howard, depending on what you call him, I headed off to irrigate.  Spirit was laying down under a Pyracantha bush, so figured she might stay there.

Nope, not this girl.  She was not far behind me when I approached the ditch.

Yesterday's posting here showed you a couple of pictures of a momma cow and her new baby.  Momma had been leaving her little girl tucked away on the other side of the horse pasture.  Today was the day she brought her calf around to join everybody else.

She and the baby were laying down in the shade near the ditch.

Baby was not too sure about me being so close, so she got up.

Of course, I had to get a couple of pictures to share with you, and then get my irrigating done.  So Spirit, the dogs and I all proceeded down into the pasture.  Spirit is trying to learn to "socialize" with the other animals, so goes down and gets near.  Sometimes the calves will come closer to her, but this morning everybody sort of held their distance.

Once the irrigating was finished and the horses had been thrown a little hay, I started back to the house, only to find that Spirit had stopped to say "Hello" to the new baby.

If I tried to force these little events to happen, it would never come to be.  It seems I must certainly live a truly blessed life.  I hope you enjoy reading about these little day-by-day occurrences.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Got the Pictures

So, you know the day I complain about having any pictures of Spirit going along with me to irrigate, it works out.  Often she sticks SO close to me it is difficult to get pictures of anything but the top of her head or her back.  But this morning she came down and had a party.

She came close to me several times wanting to be scratched or petted, but also spent some time nosing around the pasture area.

My usual "crew" is Beau (the Boxer) and Tinker-Bell (Tink for short - The Chihuahua).

While I'm half-way down the drive I walk on down to the mailbox to get the morning paper, and of course Spirit wants to go along.  

Notice the tail - straight out.  She is running all the way around me as I walk toward the cattleguard.
Of course, she isn't going to cross the rails of the cattleguard, so she has to wait on the pasture side.

So ... are you coming back on this side or what?
One final check of the water and she "posed" in front of the barn.

Once I had the irrigating done, I walked over to the barn to feed the horses.  Spirit really didn't want to go into the pasture with those great big critters.  I lost track of her for a bit, but she's been out in the pasture and all around the barn before, so she can find her way with ease.

Hay fed, I was walking back to the house, and heard Spirit bawl.  She was on the other side of the horse pasture, across from the house.

Here she comes.  She's walking along the outside of the Horse Pasture fence, toward a cow and calf ahead of her a ways.

She stopped and visited a few moments with Momma and her new baby.

And then it was time to find the gate into the small pasture that has a gate in it that will allow her back into the yard.

But first she had to get a drink of water from the trough.

And then down the fence and through the gate ...

No ... she wanted to play "hard to get" so sauntered down the fence as I waited to get a picture of her coming through the gate.

But after I walked out the gate, scratched her on the back, then walked tantalizingly back through the gate ... she decided it was not such a bad idea after all.

I think Beau wondered if she'd get it figured out too.  

Oh well, Spirit went irrigating, had a big walk all the way around the barn and horse pasture, and got back with no problems.  

Spirit and Irrigation

The advent of spring brings the return to irrigating duties around here.  I have some ground below the ditch that gets flood irrigated all summer, and that requires tending ditches and all that with a hoe or shovel.

I like to go down to the pasture in the mornings before it gets too hot, but right now, it's still pretty cool wading around in wet ground.  I am almost always accompanied by the dogs, Beau and Tinker.  And recently, Spirit has decided she wants to go along with us.

I haven't been able to get any pictures but will try to do so as this is an interesting addition to the Tale of Spirit.

She has gone down at the same time I walk down, and she has wandered down at her leisure, but either way she gets next to me along a ditch.  The other day I was walking toward the barn through the irrigated ground, and she was just prancing along as if she were part of the group.

I'll try to get some pix in the next couple of days.

Today is Column Writing Day around here though, so gotta get busy.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Spirit Doesn't Know She's Not a Dog

Spirit is a welcome addition to the hilltop, even though I have to take a shovel to the front porch and the patio on occasion, .

A few days ago, a friend of mine came up to trim the horses' feet, and brought Breanna, his 5-year-old daughter.  She thought Spirit was really something.

Beau had to get in the act as well.
Spirit spends most of the time here in the yard, but does go out and socialize with the cattle in the pasture around the house.

This yearling Charolais heifer was resting comfortably so Spirit went up to her and began licking her back.  
If she is along the driveway when we go out in the truck, she will run alongside, following us all the way down the driveway then stop at the cattle guard at the bottom of the hill. She simply thinks she's a dog with black and white hair.  She loves to be scratched on the back, or rubbed on her cheeks and under her chin.

She is a chewer though!  I recently left the door to the truck open while I carried groceries into the house.  I came back to find Spirit contentedly chewing on the strap on a small umbrella.  In fact, she had chewed the entire end off it.

Our front door is in the middle of the house, protected by a wide porch the length of the east side.  Spirit has claimed the door mat in front of the front door as her bedroom.  She sleeps with her side against the security door, making a bit of a banging sound when she lays down.

During the day, she has chosen the front flower bed for a resting place.

She doesn't sleep in the dog kennel anymore, but since the bottle holder is in there, she returns there for morning and night bottles.

The red rubber nipple on the bottle is showing her teeth marks so badly, it is leaking like a sieve so will have to replace it before too much longer.
The highlight of this update on Spirit occurred yesterday.  Sharon was not at home, and I had retired down the hall having brought the dogs in from outside.  Suddenly Beau started barking as if someone were coming up the drive.  I couldn't hear a vehicle, and wondered what was going on.

Thinking back, his next bark was almost as if he were startled, and said, "WHAT?"

I hastened to see what he was barking about. I turned the corner from the hallway to the entryway, only to find Spirit inside the house, with her head through the kitchen door into the hall looking for me.

When she saw me she realized she'd better scram, so quickly turned and after one slip on the kitchen linoleum floor, trotted out the back door again.

When I came in with the dogs, I had failed to latch the back security door, so Spirit took the opportunity to come visiting.

After all, the DOGS go in there.  Why shouldn't she?  I suppose that makes sense to a calf/dog.

As you can see, The Saga of Spirit sports quite a few pictures.  Sharon and I are of the opinion that one fine day this might make an interesting (and hopefully salable) children's picture book.  If nothing else, it will make a great record for my grandchildren.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Family Information

The genealogy of the Gill family has long been an interest of mine, but there have been limitations to what we could find.

My father was Vernon, his Louis, then Levi, and finally Samuel.  And that was about as far as we could go in tracing the family.

My grandmother was known to have done some exploring, but supposedly when she learned that some parts of the family may have been "Scottish Pirates" she dropped it.  She didn't want to dig too far, I suppose, in fear of actually finding out more than she wanted to know.

There were rumors and intimations that John may have been Samuel's father but no proof.  My middle son, Louis, had also done some searching using a variety of methods, including Ancestry.com.  As genealogists often lament, we couldn't get "across the pond" to find out from where the family emigrated.

Until today!

A cousin from down the Fred Gill line (my grandfather was Louis, a brother to Fred - we're all related to Levi), Linda Gill called the other day saying she had read some of the information I had written and published in the Daunt to Dillonwood column in the Recorder.  She was traveling in Ohio, not far from the town of Circleville, where our Great-Grandfather Levi lived, married, then emigrated to California.

She called to get a little more information explaining she was nearby, and might as well go into the community and see what she could learn.  I gave her everything I thought she might like to have in a rush of information.  When we finished, she said she was "...38 miles from Circleville." She later laughed that they had intended to be in Circleville a few hours, and ended up staying two nights.

In her searching information in Circleville, she did confirm that Samuel's father was indeed John, but still couldn't get any link to Scotland, Ireland, or any other place for that matter.  But by confirming John as being in our chain of family, she opened some doors.

In a series of excited calls this morning, Louis finally found the link "across the pond."   But it was not to any place we had expected.  It turns out that John's father was Edmund, and Edmund was born in 1680 in the northern part of the Isle of Man.  That would make him my Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandfather.

So, it turns out that the Gills emanate from a little rock in the middle of the Irish Sea, nearly equidistant from England, Scotland, and Ireland.  IOM, as it is referred to in most of the Genealogy listings, is not governed by any of the three, but is their own entity.

Isle of Man location map

Like the folks on the TV show "Who Do You Think You Are?" this info had to be dug up.  If it were not for Linda going to Circleville, searching out the proof that John Gill was indeed the the father of Samuel, Lou would probably not have found the definitive link to Edmund.  It is fun to finally get enough information to actually be able to track our ancestors back to where they were living when they emigrated to America.

In fact, we found they lived in the Lezayre province, near the town of Sulby roughly five miles inland from the port of Ramsey on the northeast coast.  Digging around on one of the web sites, I also found the John Gill family emigrated through New York on June 28, 1831, having sailed on the ship Meridian.

Apparently my Great-Great-Grandfather Samuel and his wife Isabella had already emigrated and settled in Circleville, Ohio.  When his parents, John and Isabella, and the rest of the family arrived in America, they settled around Warrensville, Ohio.  Today, it is apparently known as Warrensville Heights, and is a suburb of Cleveland, some 170 miles north of Circleville.

A search for Warrensville simply brought up a main road in Cleveland, Warrensville Center Road.  I enlarged that map and poked along up and down that road until I found an area, presumably a suburb name, that was Warrenville Heights.  So apparently when it became a part of the city of Cleveland, the name was changed a bit.

The interesting part of all this is that much has to be assumed, though many different things can be proven. Still, it is exciting to know that the Isle of Man was home to the ancestors, and that the Gill clan is neither Scottish, nor Irish, nor British.  Instead we are Manx, the name given to residents of the island.

And, yes, the Manx cat, the flat-rump, tailless cat, was a breed originated there too.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Snow in Springville

When I got out of bed this morning at 5:30 a.m. and went to the back door for wood for the fire, it was snowing steadily.  Not hard, but steadily.

But the air temperature was 40 on the porch, and the driveway never did allow snow to accumulate. But, as it does once in a while around here, it dusted the hillsides nicely.

In the early morning light, the iPhone camera takes a pretty grainy picture, but you can see the accumulation on the pasture, and the top of the entry light.

A few minutes later, the light was better, but you can see even that fast, some of the snow was melting off the pasture.

 The view the other way down toward the barn reveals even more of the lower ground is melting off quickly, and the driveway is not accumulating any snow at all.  But if you look carefully, the top of each post is holding a little dab of snow.

It is precisely this condition, when followed by a warm "Pineapple Express" storm coming right up out of Hawaii which rains up to 10,000 feet altitude, washing off a good snow pack, that causes major flooding in the Tule River.  And the river bottom ground is definitely ripe for flooding.  With all the little brush, and a solid 20 years of big tree growth, the pieces are all in place.  Whether it happens or not depends entirely on the weather.