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Dec 12, 2005

Feisty is doing better. He is now Laura's sister's special project, as she is as determined as we are that we will save this last little orphaned and dumped baby who had to watch and suffer the deaths of all of his siblings. After the shot he received from the vet, the more careful monitoring of whose food he gets into (like keeping him out of dog food bowls!), the addition of vitamin supplements, and lots and lots of love! he is finally doing a little better. He is not as listless, and though he doesn't play much yet, he has gained back some of the weight he had lost. We are just taking the very best care of him that we possibly can until we can get him those tests and vaccinations that vet recommended. We take those kinds of things very seriously, especially as we live in the woods and our animals come into contact with wild animals frequently as well as the parasites and other things like that that they carry ad pass on. Rabies shots are a primary concern! With 15 dogs on the place currently, we have to make sure everyone is vaccinated, to say the least. Luckily, though, we can get those vaccinations from the feed store for $5 or so and get Laura's mother to administer them, saving us a lot of money.

We are halfway now to the goal of having the money for the tests for Feisty, thanks to two donors. Hopefully we can get the rest soon. If I didn't have to go to the doctor next week and our bills hadn't been almost double this month because of the cold (not to mention Christmas presents!), we would have been able to make up the difference for a bit of time until we could get it covered, like we usually do until we can raise the funds to cover something like this. We were able to get some food from For the Sake of Animals that brought the fosters, but they were supposed to show up the weekend before last with more, but never did. They are so overwhelmed with Katrina animals (over 100 dogs, including two horse rescues, though I don't know their circumstances and can't comment on them, so I don't know where they came from), that they are really struggling since they are the only no-kill shelter in two counties (if not more). So, although we got enough for about a week or so to feed everyone, here we are back to not having enough. We bought some the other day ourselves for our dogs but had to share with the others yet again when they didn't show up, but not nearly enough. December is such a hard month financially. And this year, it is more so than usual.

If you are the type of person who donates money at this time of year, please don't forget the small sanctuaries. They, like I, don't spend money on ad campaigns, memorabilia, take a salary or any type of financial benefit - the money goes directly to help care for animals. We lost OohMahNee this year. That was tragic, but it happens a lot because the big donors draw so much away from the small sanctuaries that we barely subsist, usually paying for a healthy fraction of it ourselves. that's why I did the Blogathon for Eastern Shore. They need help again, as they took in Katrina victims, as did UPC, and others.

I would also like to give one more set of thanks to the person who, through the feed store, donated the wild bird feeder. That has been a very busy place since it snowed a few days ago! This morning they were coming and going like mad. I have been really having to pay attention to the level in the feeder, as they are now eating more and telling their friends! (Oh, and btw, not a single squirrel has managed to get to it, though I have seen them trying! Victory! Don't worry, they get their own food down at Laura's Mom's bought especially for them, plus they have many nut trees here in the yard for food. Our squirrels are anything but hungry. They are fat little fluffy well-fed neighbors who we see jumping from tree to tree. They do raid Laura's Mom's bird feeder almost every day, though, hanging upside down and spilling food. Ha ha ha! Not mine, they don't!! Double ha!)

After winterizing the rooster's house we have noticed a definite increase in the temp in there. We also gave him abut a foot of leaves and pine straw in there to snuggle down in and make a nest for himself just as we did in the house for the others. He prefers one corner, and one day recently when the snow was on the ground outside, I went in his house to feed him so that he wouldn't have to go out to eat and didn't see him, wondering if he had escaped for a second. Then I saw a head poke up out of the mound of leaves to look at me and realized that he had completely buried himself in there in the leaves, all nice and snug. He has also started to crow at Laura and me when we go out there to feed, water, and talk to him, which is nice to hear again. Hopefully he is pulling out of the grief and depression he experienced when the other one died. He still needs some hens, though, and we are working harder to find some that are appropriate. Broilers would be easy, as would other domesticated chickens, but because he is a factory-farmed oversized "monster," he will have to be put with the layer hens that produce the fertilized eggs and are big enough and stout enough to withstand him mounting them. The others are too slight, and he would most certainly hurt them, possibly even breaking bones. Can't have that! We are just hoping that some farmer will allow us to have a few for him, especially if they are so-called "spent" and will be sent for slaughter or culled. We don't care about the eggs. we just want the rooster to be happy and express and enjoy natural behaviors. Being alone is not best for him. If I am lucky enough to attract anyone from this area who is willing to let me come and rescue the ones left after the catchers are through or the ones not responding properly and having something wrong with them, I will do so. What have you got to lose? They won't make you any money, and you could do something nice for them besides wringing their necks.

As we have had Jake and Sophia having more freedom, she is losing more and more of her shyness. Jake isn't shy one bit and loves to play. Today he was rolling around on the unfinished deck of our house and spinning around almost like a break dancer, occasionally biting at a pile of snow and eating it. Just living it up! The have mostly taken now to staying in the greenhouse where our other dogs stay, where it is much, much warmer and we have put down foam beds for them all. Everyone is getting along fine, and Junior and Jake are great friends and play every day, with Sophia usually jumping in, too. They especially lie to romp and play in the cold of the morning when they are all especially feeling a bit frisky. It's wonderful to see them so happy and enjoying their lives!

It's worth all of the hassle and work and expense. Looking into those faces, how could you not care? How could you not save them when you had the means to do so? Well, we sure couldn't.

 Here's a quick pic of our snow featuring a handmade birdhouse made out of a hollow log and 50-year-old barn wood and which hosts a family of birds every spring, with Laura's grandmother's corner of her landscaped garden I built for her in the background showing her pyracantha. (We got around 3 inches or so - enough to keep the kids out of school, so many fun sliding trips were made down the icy hill trail towards the river on a dog food bag, coining the phrase "snowbagging" by our nephew. We rolled in laughter at the idea. And yes, Laura, her sister, and her Mom all did it, too. Funny how Laura's Mom sent us this picture, but not those....)

All in all, because of all of the preparation work we have been able to accomplish, everyone (at least the animals) was much more comfortable, things have gone well through our snowstorm, even though we worked hard and most of the family got some kind of stomach bug going through the schools. (Kid germs - is there anything worse when you aren't used to it anymore?!) Luckily, Laura and I did not succumb to it and completely escaped the ravages of it. Better diet and immune system than the animal product-eaters who did, to a person, succumb, and puke their guts out? I will let you draw your own conclusions with that....

We burned lots of wood, so I was really busy splitting and hauling wood, while Laura kept the fires burning hot in the fireplace to keep down the escalating propane bills at Laura's Mom's, where we stayed during the coldest couple of days. This trailer is just WAY too cold to stay in if it drops below freezing, but especially below 20. Very drafty. VERY! Then it is just completely unbearable, Laura draws up and shivers, gets major muscle spasms all over her back and neck, and hurts like hell. My arthritis kicks in, and we both head up to get warm. (Hell getting old, ain't it? Better than the alternative though, I suppose, wouldn't you???) We usually pack up and stay up there on her Mom's double hide-a-bed by the fireplace when it gets that cold. Might as well take advantage of all of the hard work I am doing. Besides, we are better firebuilders (not to brag, it's just true - Laura has been "the firebulder" of her family since she was in elementary school and applied what she learned in Girl Scouts, then took it further with lots of experience camping and a bit of raw talent - there is a true art to great firebuilding) and can burn the larger logs up and leave a lot of coals, really making the fireplace radiate more than the others in the household (because it's the rocks heating up that radiate the most heat out into the room, not the fire - that can take a couple of days of hard work and just keeping it up and going).

Laura's Mom has a whole new respect for those who cut, split, and sell firewood now, though. She has now decided that the price people charge for firewood isn't nearly as unreasonable as she had first thought now that she has seen and been a part of how much work it is to get it from the woods, sawed up, split in most cases, loaded, hauled, and ultimately, unloaded, stacked, and then finally into the fireplace. Hauling load after load in the wheelbarrow is the worst part. It's a big wheelbarrow ad very heavy when fully loaded. Gets a lot at once, but the ol' back and knees pay the price. Boy, how we have missed our truck to take it down the driveway in large amounts! We got one truckload hauled up there when a friend came in for Thanksgiving, but it didn't take long to go through that. It's been the wheelbarrow, even on snow ice and up hills, to get it up there ever since. Everyone is sore. At least the snow has about melted, so I can drop a few more dead trees (we have a virus killing our oaks just as the pine beetles are after our pines - please send loving and healing energy to this spot, please). We like the firewood, just as we liked getting the lumber for the houses, but absolutely hate losing our big beautiful trees.

Anyway, we are just plugging along, doing okay, and very much appreciate all of the support, e-cards, and kind words everyone has sent us regarding Feisty. Even those who can't help financially, it really is nice to hear from those who care and even share their own stories about rescuing kittens, like this one.

It's always heartwarming to see others out there go to great lengths to save these innocent babies, who through no fault of their own and the callousness of other humans, have come to need help so desperately. I read such stories every day. Too bad not so many have as happy endings as this one has.

Is it just me, or has this holiday season just jumped up on you really quick, too? I can't believe we are this close to all of those festivities. I am not ready....
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Posted: Monday December 12, 2005, 1:30 pm
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Laura w spirit of Virgil Butler
female, age 45, single, 2 children
Pine Ridge, AR, USA
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I know that it has been quite a time since I have written, but every time I have tried, well, I just couldn\'t quite do it. It seemed like every time I wanted to try again it just didn\'t come out right. I have to admit that I really haven\'t been doin...
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This is Laura writing, and I have bad news for you. Today, 12-15-06, Virgil Butler was found dead. That\'s all I have to say publicly at this time other than to convey his wish that anyone who wishes to do so may use the words written here to keep ...
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