We say goodbye to Chiko

Even though spring on a farm is all about new life, our 13-year-old old Australian terrier Chiko chose that time to pass away, thus closing an era. He gave us notice, however, and our youngest son, who was Chiko’s main human, was able to make it to the farm from Colorado to say goodbye to his dog.

Chiko, we will miss you.

filly nuzzles dog

Asta the filly says hello to the canine senior statesman, Chiko.

kitten and dog

Young and old: Chiko and kitten Fiona cuddle for a nap.

From an earlier time: Bear, rear, and Chiko were road trip troopers.

The Kitten and the Canine

I blame the cats.

I know that transitioning a new cat or kitten to the current residents can be tough, but Vincent and Piper not only ignored the orphan kitten Fiona, they hissed and batted at her whenever she toddled near.

cat and kitten

Vincent ignores Fiona, who has emerged from her crate yet keeps her distance.

We kept the kitten in a large crate for her own protection, and would allow her out only under close supervision. In search of a pack of her own, and at the risk of using a cliche, Fiona went to the dogs. To this day, I think the little cat firmly believes she is one.

kitten with a bone

“Well, the other dogs seem to like this thing, so I guess I’ll chew on it, too.”

It started with Chiko, our old Aussie terrier. The elder statesman was the first to be tolerant, even affectionate, of Fiona, and she would nap with him whenever she could.

kitten and dog

Young and old: Chiko and Fiona cuddle for a nap.

Then the kitten discovered Levi, Matt’s black Lab. In Levi, Fiona found her soul mate.

dog and kitten

A nap in the sun is a great way to spend the day.

I got the first inkling of the strength of the relationship one day in the kitchen, when Fiona ran under my foot and I accidentally stepped on part of her tail. She squealed in protest and ran! –straight to Levi, where she hid against his chest and he looked at me with what I can only describe as reproach.

What can I say? When love strikes,  you just gotta go with it.

kitten playing with lab

Levi’s tail provides entertainment for Fiona.

kitten and black lab

dog and cat napping

Levi and Fiona, a blur of black fur. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one begins and the other ends.

Beware the Moody Broodmare

In her final months before foaling, as her belly expands and her gaits get slower, our broodmare Neela’s sweet disposition vanishes and she becomes a Kraken.

mare eats hay

Neela partakes of her favorite pastime. The up side to being the lead mare: You don’t have to share.

In her defense, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it must be to have the equivalent of a German Shepherd inside you, turning this way and that, trying to get comfortable despite increasingly cramped quarters.

It starts with Neela playing the Mine! game. Convinced that the hay at the other end of the paddock is tastier–despite coming from the same bale–she will lumber aaaaaaall the way across to Yukon and Mocha’s hay shed, and with one glare, take over a hay net.

Neela weighed in at 1300 pounds before pregnancy…so whatever Neela wants, Neela gets.

mare in paddock

Should I stay or should I go? Neela ponders her options while beind her in their shed, Mocha and Yukon try to be unobtrusive.

filly and gelding eat hay

Mocha pauses for a picture while Yukon hides next to her. See the white stuff on her right hind leg? That’s antibiotic cream for the scrape. Thanks, Neela.

Until it displeases her. Then she turns and lumbers aaaaaaall the way back, and woe unto the horse that gets in her way along this journey, for they shall feel her wrath.

Apparently this happened to Mocha, because she’s now sporting a large Neela-size hoof scrape down one hind leg. Even so, the closer Neela gets to foaling, the more she seems to crave Mocha’s company, in a We-Mares-Gotta-Stick-Together way. She knows what’s ahead, and two years ago, Mocha was a terrific auntie to Neela’s filly.

fillies nuzzling

“You’re cute, but don’t get fresh with me, kid.”

mare and gelding

One look says it all: As Neela pins her ears and gives him the stinkeye, Yukon hustles to vacate the premises.

gelding at water

Yukon finds relief in neutral territory: the water trough.

Poor Yukon is the odd horse out. I try to give him extra neck rubs and tell him, “Hang in there, big guy, Quill will be back before you know it.”

Come to think of it, the big colt returns from Horse College right about the same time Neela is due, which is May 22.  But there will be no reunion–Quill and Yukon play too rough, so we’ll put the girls on one side of the farm and the boys on the other. Like an equine Catholic school.

Well, this is tasty after all! If it weren't for the stupid net, I could hoover it better.

“Well, this is tasty after all! If it weren’t for the stupid net, I could hoover it better.”

mare on alert

“Wait, what’s that sound?” The downside of eating alone is that there’s nobody else to let you know if danger is lurking.

dogs playing

Turns out the ruckus is just the dogs at play. Bear is on a tear while Chiko, who is  a sedate 12 this year, watches.

This Farm Guarded by Bear

If you stop to visit us here at Red Roof Acres and are received with a growl from 10 pounds of attitude with an overbite, please know it’s not his fault (and that no teeth will follow).

The critter in question is a Toy Poodle/Jack Russell terrier mix named Bear whose only mission in life has been to protect me, whether from cancer, humans or horses. So even when you try to assure him you mean no harm, he will still regard you with suspicion. Please don’t take it personally.

puppy in lap

Bear in my lap on the first day of his arrival. It was love at first sight.

Bear came to us two years ago when he was six weeks old.

puppy and patient

Here we are doing a mind meld during a nap.

I was at the same age of breast cancer treatment, with all the ensuing baldness, barfiness and boniness. Despite being at the prime puppy-wiggle stage, Bear would somehow contain himself and be motionless when I needed to nap.

We tried to socialize him as much as possible, but cancer treatment is not conducive to getting out much.  So Bear’s perception of the world became skewed, and even now, two years later, although my hair and energy have both returned, my wellbeing apparently remains his raison d’être.

This became more apparent than ever once we moved to the farm.

That adorable face!

That adorable face!

puppy and patient

Two years ago. Here we are on a good day.


I would like to think it’s just the way he’s sitting, but Vincent, left, gained a lot of weight during the cats’ month of being house bound. That’s Piper on the right.

When we first arrived, we had just the dogs and cats with us. Vincent and Piper, the felines, were quarantined to the house for a full month while birds mocked them through the windows.

cat at window

Look at the top of the bell outside the window: A bird knows that Vincent can’t reach it.

Bear and Chiko, our 10-year-old Australian Terrier, discovered that deer (so plentiful on this


Every day at dusk and dawn, deer can be found in our back yard.

island! but that’s another blog) amble into the back yard every morning and every evening, and of course deserved to be chased away at full speed. The deer spring effortlessly over the fence and afterward, the dogs crash in the house with the surety of a job well done.

dogs and cat nap

After a full day exploring the farm, the dogs and Vincent enjoy a siesta together.

Then we brought the horses home, a wonderful venture as we had always boarded them before and were looking forward to having them live just steps from our door.

Bear, who had never spent time with the horses before, was not pleased at all, especially since his relationship with them got off to a very bad start.

You see, when the horses first arrived, we would bring them out of their pen in order to feed them their supplements (vitamins), and one day Matt had pulled my mare, Neela, and her colt, Quill, out first. That left Yukon, Matt’s gelding, alone in the pen, and to a horse, alone means death. So Yukon, a tall, heavily-built Friesian cross, became very anxious, trotting up and down the pen with long, pounding strides.

Halter in hand, I stepped into the pen to bring the gelding out, and stood my ground as he began to trot quickly toward me. Yukon is a giant teddy bear, and I knew he’d stop. Yet before he did I heard a low growl to my right, and turned my head just in time to see Bear spring between the boards of the fence to the horse’s pen and plant himself directly in front of me and in Yukon’s path, barking and snarling ferociously, bravely pitting himself against 1,500 pounds of horse in order to protect his mom.

dog growling at horse

Bear and Yukon got off to a bad start, and apparently my little dog holds a very big grudge.

I was deeply touched. Yukon was unconcerned. Bear was evicted from the horse pen, from which he has been banned. To this day, he loathes Yukon, to the point where I have to give Bear the firm instruction of “leave it!” for his own protection. We’re working on him being more agreeable. He’s making progress.

Meanwhile, if he does happen to bark at you, please know there’s no bite that accompanies it, and that it’s only done for love.

dog watching colt

Bear manages to behave himself while watching Quill the colt eat.