Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the Safeway Parking Lot

As if the the incident with the dogs wasn't enough, RY again called up CK's landlady and this time told her about the fact that there were three cats living there. At least we're pretty sure it was RY, since CK's cats stayed in his room, and no one but RY knew that they even existed except me and M, the roomie.

CK's roomie had not informed the landlady about the cats. This didn't sit well with her, and she told M the roomie that she'd be showing up Monday morning to do an inspection. CK and I spent all Sunday afternoon cleaning the house in preparation for that. M didn't do diddly squat of course, other than order the two of us around.

M wanted us (not just me and my own dogs and cats, but CK and his cats as well) out of the house while she was there. Personally, I thought it was in bad form to chase CK out of what's allegedly his own house, but heck, that's CK's problem if he wants to let M push him around.

Realizing we had two cat carriers and five cats between us, CK and I decided to use one of the cages he'd made to ship the cats out to Colorado two years ago. The plastic webbing he'd used to cover the PVC frame was mostly gone, but I had a bit of chicken wire left over. With the new skills we'd learned while dog-proofing the yak pen, CK and I spent several hours - until 11 at night, wiring the frame with the chicken wire.
Up before dawn we finished cleaning and re-vacuumed and packed the cats and dogs into the truck. Having little elsewhere to go (there's not much to do in Walsenburg) we sat in the parking lot and waited for the landlady to come and go.
At 11, CK called his roommate (figuring the landlady had been there and gone by then). "She still hasn't shown up," CK informed me. "M will call me back when she's there and gone."

We watched folks pull in and out of the parking lot, watched trucks go past with huge bales of hay ("My house is that way," I'd yell to them.) walked the dogs a few times and in general spent the day bored silly.

Meanwhile I'd needed to go to town and water/feed the yaks that morning, but we were selling the propane tanks and I had to wait for the woman who was buying them, since it didn't make sense to waste gas driving out there twice.

At 3, Quantum (who was handling the phone/internet part of the sale) called to let me know that the woman wouldn't be able to make it that day. CK and I were heading out to the farm when M finally called.

"Is she gone?" CK asked

"No," M informed him. "The reason she was coming was to inspect the job that was done on the roof. Since the roofers aren't finished she said she'd be here tomorrow."

While we were there at the farm we decided to grab the propane tanks anyway. This way the woman who was buying them could pick them up in town without me driving out a second time. Since I was filling the yak's water and giving them a new bale of hay on an every other day basis, we figured it might save me from an extra trip.

Next day was a repeat of the last. Up at dawn, vacuum the rugs, pack angry cats into boxes AGAIN, and then sit around in the damn parking lot. 

Fortunately M called only a few hours later to let us know that the landlady's hubby had come and done the inspection.

The Miracle of the Silver - Or Not

Back before we moved to CO, we'd had a jewelry making business, and as part of that had purchased a few hundred dollars worth of silver casting grain. During the fire, we lost it (along with everything else). We often talked about where it might be, but somehow, we had never braved the pile of ash, broken glass and twisted metal to look for it. As broke as we were, I needed to find the stuff. Besides, it wouldn't do us much good if it was in CO while we were in FL. 

Plus there was (and still is) the danger that RY would scour our land for scrap metal to sell while we were gone, despite that we'd told him we didn't want the burned trailer's carcass disturbed. (Specifically because we wanted to find the silver before that happened.)

CK and I also half-joked that we'd return to find out that RY was using our corral and grazing his critters on our land. (Our neighbor now has permission to have him arrested for trespassing if he shows up there - or preferably, shoot at him.

I went out to feed the yaks and while I was there I decided to try finding the silver. I grabbed some gloves, a shovel, a sieve and a couple of buckets to put the broken glass in.
Only twenty minutes or a half hour later I found a big rectangular piece of metal. It sure looked like the silver. It even had the remains of a cardboard stuck to it.

Calling Quantum as soon as I got back to town, I announced the happy news. He found a metal reclaiming company and Monday morning I shipped the stuff out. I nearly fainted at the $25 for postage, more than half of which was for insurance. But we calculated by the weight that it would come to near a thousand dollars at today's silver prices. Enough to pay for a ticket for Quantum to fly back to CO and drive me and the dogs/cats back to Florida.

So imagine my surprise when a week later, I was talking to Quantum and told him I planned to spend the next day up at the farm, packing our stuff..."Actually, I'd rather you spend the day looking for the silver."

Pulling the phone from my ear I looked at it, wondering if it had suddenly started translating to a foreign language. "The silver? I mailed that last week!"

"The company told me they assayed it and it was only base metal."

"I spent $25 mailing base metal? But...I really thought it was the silver. It looked like the silver."

It took me several hours of digging, but eventually I found what is hopefully the REAL silver. Argh! I'm really hoping that I didn't end up mailing base metal again.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Help Keep our Yaks From Being Slaughtered! Please!

We thought we had found a home for the yaks. In fact it sounded so good that we let the guy lead us on for a full week. (He seemed to be having trouble with his phone.)

So I finally got ahold of him and here's what he wanted: We give him all four of our yaks. He "takes care of them" then keeps two of them. The two he wanted were our breedable females, Yazoo and Yeti. Which would have been negotiable if he wanted to breed them.

Yeti: "Please send hay."
 He wanted to slaughter them. For meat.

Before I get into my personal feelings on this, let me say that these are beautiful yak cows at their breeding prime, and from excellent bloodlines. Turning them into meat would be a sheer waste.

On the personal level, I love all my yaks even the irascible Yonkers. The idea of selling them to be killed for their meat horrifies me.

But here's the big problem. Right now I have enough money for one, maybe two bales of hay. That'll last about 3 days if I stretch it. I've tried cutting grass (by hand), but at the rate it's going, it'll take me 2 days to cut one day's food for them.

I also barely have gas in the truck to go out and buy hay. We've sold every item we own of worth: Our auger, our propane tanks, even our water tanks (which means I now have to haul water for them in small batches, thus creating more challenges).

Please help us. The way we're going, the yaks are either going to starve or have to be sold to "just anybody" so they won't starve. And if you know anybody who wants yaks and will love and care for them, PLEASE let us know.

Any small amount you can contribute would be a great help. If you can't help financially, please help by passing on the word.

More info here: Save the Critter Project and here: A Sad Intermission for the Critter Project

Friday, October 12, 2012

Puppy Pics

Left to right, here's Zen, Karma and Bushi, sacked out on the bed. The biggest danger here is being licked to death or getting sleep deprived because of Karma's snoring.

Thank you @KellyRipa for suggesting that I'm a gangster because I have three of the most wonderful, gentle and sweet dogs in creation.

Now Raz here (ignoring the evil giant pit bull, Karma) just MIGHT be considered dangerous.

Working Dogs at Children's hospital

Working Dogs Show Off at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital

The dogs at the expo included police dogs, guide dogs for the blind and a one-eyed therapy dog who visits sick children at a hospital.

Nice to see a program that teaches kids respect and love for animals.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What the Heck Is RY's Motive?

This isn't the first time RY's done wacky stuff. It's just the first time he's been caught flat out.

Last winter our yaks got loose, and were missing for a few days. They went up to A's a rancher acquaintance (who we met because of the first time the girls got escaped) but in the meanwhile RY shows up saying that someone had called him around midnight sounding drunk and saying "this is Quantum! Where's my expletive deleted yaks?"

The fact that they claimed to believe it was us was pretty funny. Quantum drinks a bit on occasion, but never to the point where he actually gets drunk, and they know that. Moreover, our choices for cell reception are on top of the roof of the trailer (dangerous to get to, especially in winter, and we only rarely get reception there anyway) or drive 10 minutes/walk 30 to an area that we can make calls from. At the time RY did have a grandson visiting with him, a pretty messed up kid, so we thought maybe the kid had something to do with it. Later I began to suspect it was a lie RY had cooked up himself.

A couple days later when the yaks finally made it up to A's place, Quantum needed some help herding them into the corral and then needed to borrow RY's trailer to get them home. RY didn't want to help for some reason. Quantum tried herding them alone, with little luck. The next day RY promised to show.

RY arrived at A's ranch without the trailer and with a police escort. "Someone reported that your yaks were starving and maltreated," RY said.

"That's ridiculous," Quantum said. "Look at them, they're fat and glossy in their winter coats. Who would say that? For that matter who even knows they were missing? And who's even seen them way out here?" Our land is pretty secluded so most people in town don't know we have yaks, and less still have ever set eyes on them. A's land is equally remote.

The police looked at the yaks, concluded they looked quite healthy and left. But by that time the snow was falling and it was too late to capture the yaks. Especially since RY hadn't even bothered bringing his trailer.

That meant the yaks had to stay at A's for two weeks until the snow cleared enough to haul them home. Which also meant that we had to pay A for boarding them during that time.

I suspected RY on the police call for quite some time, but Quantum wouldn't believe it for quite a while, and we had no proof.

When they finally loaded the yaks up, a couple weeks after, RY got impatient with Yonkers and wacked her over the head with a metal pipe. I was highly gratified when Yonkers turned around and gored him right in the butt.

Over the past couple years there've been other similar incidents, though none as bad and none as memorable.

So what's RY's deal on complaining to M's landlord about my allegedly loose pit bulls?

It's possible that he's mad at CK for having moved out. CK and I had a falling out about a year ago and CK moved to RY's place and into a trailer. Where RY and his wife proceeded to skin CK for every penny they could get out of him. Now that he's moved out of there, maybe they're mad at having lost the golden-egged goose.

It's possible they resent Quantum and I because of the fact that they owe us money and hay. Some people get like that, I guess.

Over the last few months, as RY and his wife have been becoming more and more annoying/nasty to us, I've been avoiding them. Not to mention they're nosy buggers. Just today (before we found out who'd made the call about my dogs, his wife S called because she wanted to know what our sleeping arrangements were here. I'm not sleeping with CK and I'm not sleeping with M, but if I was, it isn't HER business. (M was quite affronted!) So maybe they're resentful that I wasn't coming around more. Truth is I rarely come to town, since when Quantum goes out I usually stay to be with the dogs. Bushi doesn't like the truck and taking all 3 into town is a handful. Until this last couple of weeks I'd been to town all of 4 times since January.

Its possible they resented us because it started to become clear that we were no longer letting them drain us of resources the way they do most of the folks they come into contact with.

No matter the answer, I'm ticked.

Spoof Calls Blaming Pit Bulls

Is this how some pit bulls get bad press?

I really hadn't wanted to talk about RY but...

Because I can't afford gas for the generator right now, and the nights have been freezing cold, I've been staying with CK (our former roommate) and his new roommate M at their house in town. It's challenging being here with 3 dogs and 2 cats and I've had to go back and care for the yaks every other day as well.

M (the person who signed the lease and the "lead" roommate) had called his landlady, informed her that my dogs would be staying with me, informed her that they were pit bulls and received permission for us to stay here.

Zen in the bedroom. Note the leash.
Today M got a phone call from the landlady. Someone said that a pit bull was running around loose and it was one of mine. CK and I were astonished. I'd never let my dogs off leash in town. And certainly not within a block of a train that goes by on a regular basis. Since Zen's been confused at being here and scratches on the door to "my" bedroom when folks pass by, I've even had him on leash IN the bedroom.

The landlady was unhappy about this report, as was M when he heard it. All I could think was that some other dog (possibly not even a pit bull) was running around the neighborhood.

Later the landlady called back with the phone number of the person who'd called her with this report. CK plugs the number into his phone, and who should pop up, but our "buddy" RY.

Now we've got an interesting history with RY. Two years ago when we had the fire, he and his wife were kind enough to give us a tiny pick-up back camping trailer to live in. We certainly appreciated it, having lost every dime and every possession we owned and with winter coming on.

Sadly it was a gift that came with strings. Not only did we have to listen to his wife S congratulate herself on what a wonderful Christian she was, but we were now beholden to them. For a while that wasn't a big deal. We were able to return the favor by helping them do some major work on their farm (and even dragged in a crew of our friends to help).

RY also talked us into going in on some hay purchases with him. He'd store the hay and we'd pick our share up as needed. Except we never seemed to get our hay (and often had to buy from the local feed store). And every time he wanted to make a new hay purchase, he'd say he didn't have enough to cover it, and we'd end up pitching in more money - after all, we needed the hay! (Which BTW he was making money on us with, charging us $2 or more/bale than the actual cost.)

Then one of our trucks broke down. We couldn't fix it and ended up buying RY's pickup. He wanted to buy our old truck to fix up and sell. We made the foolish mistake of trading it for more hay.

At this point he's into us for about 100 bales. But we felt grateful to them. Felt sorry for them because his wife has Alzheimer's and a host of other problems, and between the fact that they are animal hoarders, and her trips to the doctor, they were generally broke.

RY also hauled water out to our place, since we didn't have a convenient way of hauling it ourselves, for which we paid him $30/load. Even after he owed us money (more re that in a sec) we'd still pay him because he claimed he couldn't afford the gas to get there otherwise.

About a year and a half ago, and within the space of a month, he and his wife and their daughter borrowed $650 from us in cash. Now there've been times since when we could have desperately used the money. And the hay. This is possibly the most desperate time of all, with us flat broke and trying to feed the yaks and get me back to Florida.

So can you guess that I was a little shocked when I found out that the complaint about the loose pit bull came from RY's phone?

M called him up, and he was masterly, "I don't know why you're doing this to these good people." Of course RY completely denied it. "It wasn't me! I didn't make that call."

Five minutes later he called CK back and said, "I just remembered. There was this guy down by the car wash named Junior. He asked to borrow my cell phone to call his mother."

Astounding that he'd believe anyone would fall for this garbage.

Meanwhile I have to wonder what percentage of nuisance calls against pits are vindictive nastiness such as this.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yaks Return and Dogs vs. Yaks Round 1

I haven't even had a chance to write a post introducing our 3rd rescue pit bull, Karma. (I'' do that soon.) She's a wonderful sweet puppy, and we adore her, but one thing we found out...she doesn't like yaks.

Karma the instigator. *sigh*
The yaks had been on walkabout for about a month, so Karma had never met them. The coyotes were howling one night and we saw SOMETHING flash past in the dark, approximately coyote-sized, so we figure that was the impetus for them breaking down one of the boards in their pen and hiking off to who-knows where. We'd been searching for them everywhere, with no luck. The other times they escaped we'd found them at the home of a nearby rancher. This time they were seen near there but by the time someone contacted us (we don't have phone at our place) and Quantum got up there, the girls were off somewhere again.

The Return

Last week, while Quantum was in FL dealing with his mom, the dogs were running about doing their usual roughhousing when I heard one of them barking. I looked out and there at the curve of the driveway and there they were. Amazingly they'd found their way home.

They looked beautifully fit, if a bit muddy. I leaped outside, called the dogs in and spent a half hour coaxing the girls into the pen. The weren't the least bit interested in hay. Not with all the gorgeous grass in the fields, but water they wanted. Yeti was the first to follow my water bucket and Zoozoo and baby Ferdie followed her. Yonkers wasn't impressed. She's wary of most people, and even though she likes me more than most, her affection for me is grudging at best. I let her roam around for a while, knowing she wouldn't stray far from her herd, and eventually she came right up to the gate. She was hoping the other girls would come out and join her, but instead I talked her into going in with them.

Things were okay for a couple of days, although Ferdie found an escape route (she's a little Houdini) and Yazoo managed to follow her. Another couple hours with the dogs locked in the trailer and me wandering around trying to get them back in the pen. And then an hour later they were standing by the gate, asking to be let back in.

Round One

Then the trouble started. Zen and Bushi had never bothered the yaks while they were in their pen, though Zen was apt to flip out a bit when Ferdie got out. He's very concerned about "everything in its place" and knows the yaks belong inside their fence. It hadn't occurred to me that the addition of a third dog would change the equation.

I was outside doing some cleanup when Karma started barking at the yaks. I shushed her a few times. Suddenly she dove under one of the fence rails and into the pen. The yaks charged. Bushi, hearing her pack-mate in distress, ran in after her. Zen raced back and forth outside the pen and then plunged into the fray as well.

The yaks all clustered together. Bushi and Karma ran right into the center of them, nipping their heels. Zen ran in circles coming back and forth to snipe. I don't know how long it lasted. Probably only 10 minutes or so. It felt like hours. One of those times when life goes into slow-mo. Bushi got picked up by a set of horns and tossed through the air. Karma and Bushi both were trampled and pushed around. Then Bushi was hanging from a yak's ear (so much going on that I couldn't tell which) as if she were an earring. She managed to rip out BOTH Yonkers' and Yazoo's ear tags.

For myself, I was screaming for the dogs to stop and to come to me. They're usually relatively obedient but not with this massacre going on. I'm running around trying to catch Zen as he darts in and out, and each time I almost had him, he barrels into me and my glasses (one earpiece is broken) keep falling off. I finally managed to grab Zen as he raced around. Threw him into our trailer. That broke the fight up and after a harrowing few more minutes, the other two left the pen.

Both Bushi and Karma were covered with yak blood, but there wasn't a scratch on any of the three dogs. The yaks were okay other than their ear tags.

As horrified as I was with the fight itself, I can't help but be amazed with three dogs that were able to stand up to three adult yaks (about 700 pounds each) and come out relatively unscathed. I was sure that one of the dogs would end up with broken bones, or worse a broken spine or something else devastating and fatal. It was one of the scariest moments of my entire adult life. And there was more to come.

Bushi's Boo-Boo

As if trying to rehome the yaks wasn't traumatic enough, out dog Bushi developed a large hematoma (blood blister) as a result of last week's inadvertent yak vs. dog fight. (I'll post about THAT trauma in a future post.)

Bushi really prefers to wear hot pink.
This morning I spent my waking-up-should-be-drinking-coffee time attempting for about the 5th time in18 hours, to make one of CK's XXXL t-shirts into a suitable covering. (Any of Quantum or my t-shirts are back home and probably need the laundry before I can use them.) The t-shirt is so that she doesn't bleed all over the place, since the wound is draining, and will be for gods-know how long.

With Bushi's Lady Gagaesque makeup, she's always been a fashion queen, but this is ridiculous!

Bushi's hematoma lump pre-surgery.
The lump showed up Sunday morning. Maybe I hadn't noticed it earlier because CK and I spent 4 days straight, dawn to dusk working on securing the yak pen. I woke up Sunday, looked at her chest and had a panic moment. The lump was the size of a tennis ball.

Our wonderful vet, Doc Roberts had to cut the lump open to drain. I'm always terrified when my dogs have to have anesthesia, since Zen nearly died on the operating table when he was neutered as a puppy.

Today I get the exquisite joy of taking her into the bathroom and flushing it out, first with peroxide, then with a chlorhexidine solution. The peroxide flush is only for the first few days, but the chlorhexidine flush goes on until I can no longer get the syringe into the wound. Oh what fun!

The hematoma itself didn't seem to hurt. Despite my attempts to keep her quiet until I could take her to the vet (and of all weeks to have a Monday holiday!) she wanted to bounce around, chase rabbits and cause her usual trouble.

The surgery seems to have left her a bit sore though. She spent half the night on the floor, probably because getting up on the bed was uncomfortable. Last night I'd helped her onto the bed and she decided to get down for water and some crunchies. She let out a tiny heart-rending little yelp and before I could reach her, the other dogs were circling her, sniffing and consoling. They hate it when any of their pack is in pain.

At this point, when we're scrambling for money for hay, $80 wasn't really something that we could afford. Many thanks to the kind person who contributed to our Save the Critter Project fund and made it possible to bring her to the vet.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Help Save the Critter Project!

As I said in my last post, we were trying to sell the yaks. We're devastated by this. But now it's worse.

We'd contacted the breeder who got Yazoo pregnant with Ferdie and hoped he could help us. He thought he could find a home for Yeti and Yonkers and would keep Yazoo and Ferdie himself. (And we'd hoped we could buy back at least those two once we return to Colorado.

Yonkers with Yeti as a baby
Now things are more dire.

I have enough gasoline for the generator (so that I can stay here and feed them) and enough hay to feed them on for only TWO DAYS. The breeder says it may take a month or so. It's not safe to let them roam (I'll write a post about that in the near future).

Please if you can donate a little money for hay and gasoline so that I can stay here and feed them - or enough to help us find someone to board them, I'd be entirely grateful.

Please I beg you. If you can post this on Facebook or Tweet it or pass it along in any other manner, please let others know.

A Sad Intermission for the Critter Project

Just when things were starting to go well...

I haven't been updating this blog because the changes have been coming too fast and we're still reeling with the punches.

This May or so, Quantum's mom, "J" started exhibiting the symptoms of Alzheimer's related dementia.

J lives in Florida, and since we moved here, the plan was for her to come out and be with us. She didn't have much keeping her in FL (no relatives, few friends who hadn't passed). She was looking forward to gardening, canning and other country/farm pursuits, not to mention the company of myself and her son. All we needed to do was build the house and she'd be here. She's elderly and wouldn't adapt well to the rough life we've had till now (living in a trailer with no plumbing). The plan had been to start building next spring. (We would have started earlier, but the fire when we first moved and bare survival, set us back a bit.)

Then we noticed the dementia. I won't go into all the details but at one point the neighbors found her with all doors and windows open and lying on the tile floor to stay cool. Her AC had broken - in FLORIDA in JULY and she couldn't figure out how to call the air conditioning people to get it fixed - and didn't tell us about it until two weeks had gone by. That was just one incident of many.

We found a house for sale in the area. Unlike our land, it was connected to the grid, had plumbing, a bedroom for her and one for us, and was right outside of town. (I haven't had the opportunity to write much about it, but in winter it's near impossible for us to get to town from here - sometimes for weeks at a time.)

We talked with her about the place and she seemed excited to move here. Then a few more incidents occurred (including J losing her car insurance because she forgot to pay the bill - since she's 86 the ins. company leapt at the chance to get rid of her, and wouldn't reinstate) and Quantum realized he'd better do something sooner rather than later.

He flew down to Florida with the plan of bringing her back with him. Everything was fine for the first couple days he was down there. Then two things happened. First J fell and hit her head and had to be rushed to the emergency room. That may or may not have contributed to what happened next, but it solidified Quantum's feeling that she needed someone to take care of her 24/7/

Then her "caretaker" (a woman who helped her clean, pay bills and drove her around to stores) asked for J's car in partial payment. As soon as the car was signed over to her, things suddenly changed.

Suddenly, J was becoming ambivalent about the move (egged on by the caretaker who wanted to keep her job, we believe). The caretaker told J that she didn't have to move and actually called the police on Quantum.

Next the caretaker brought in a court-ordered "decision maker"/advocate for J.

With all this, we have no choice but to move back to Orlando to be near Quantum's mom and to make sure that she's cared for and to fight for Quantum's right to do so. 

We've already rescued 3 wonderful dogs. However it will be 6 months to a year before we can return here, so the bulk of our rescue project is now on hold.

Heartbreakingly this also means we're going to have to sell the yaks. We have no money to board them and no ability to stay here and care for them.

I'm trying not to cry.