Thursday, September 25, 2008

Proud New Member

Gosh, I feel like such a grown up. All of us do out here at the Ranch. This is HUGE.

When asked why we wanted to join, I said "networking - it gets lonely out on a ranch." I was more than slightly serious and a tad joking. Out here, you can forget what the rest of the world is up to without the Internet. So the Alacrity Family joined today and immediately an invitation was extended to a down valley mixer...tonight, just three hours after our courted faxed application was received.

Kristin & I headed to the hosting venue, Colorado Business Bank in Eagle. Kevin Armitage and his crew were wonderful. The location was very inviting and cozy. Imagine a bank with a pool table instead of a conference table - now THAT will get you thinking out of the box. Kristin & I felt a bit shy, so instead of making a big deal of a training release of the doves, we just released before heading in. A handful of folks were out enjoying the fine weather, and like the wonderful grapevine VVP is, we were told we could not do that again without an announcement for all to enjoy. Okay, okay, we won't. EVER. Without announcing again. We promise.

Katie Clementine & Boatswain, both service dogs' attended. Katie had the first hour and then was just overwhelmed - she' still in training. Then "Bo'sun" came aboard; he was ready to flirt with all the pretty gals. The catering was done by Zack Stone, originally of The French Press. Bo's made his first official evening outing in the Valley at the French Press and I think his nose recognized the quality of food a few seconds before I did. Zack now has a new restaurant in Eagle - Angelino's. Bo's & I both can attest the food from the new place is as tasty and wonderful to the nose as the French Press.

I met so many wonderful people. Rebecca Ruck greeted us at the door; she was one of the lucky few to see the doves. Rebecca is the main reason we joined. We have many mutual friends and we are both in the right place at the right time. Kudos to Rebecca! Kathy Calton of All Mountain Bookkeeping, Inc. was the first old voice to call my name - we go back, gosh, near twenty years to Vail Associates. I used to be her ski instructor. Her girls also were out for the doves - Kathy wasn't even married way back then! Her girls were awfully grown and elegant and very kind to my dogs. Time does pass!

I met names I read in the papers that I feel like I know. The VVP gang was very welcoming. One ambassador was a realtor and I love the blurb on the back of his card: With each successful real estate transaction, I pledge to give a portion of my earnings to a local charity of my client's choice. Well, Robert, I hope you tell your clients about With Alacrity!

Two more shout outs from me. Lynette Horan of HR Services of Vail - you kept Kristin & I in chat for longer than anyone. Whether you like it or not, you are going to be included in the Ranch Alacrity Family, you and your "little" dawg" too. Michaela Foucheux of 4 Eagle Ranch, one of our closest neighbors, it was wonderful to meet you and we look forward to the festivities this weekend - Wild West Day! Of course we'll bring the doves.

Gosh and this mixer was only TWO hours!

Monday, September 22, 2008

When a Hen becomes a Cock

We've got a mess of chickens on the Ranch. The boys, the meat birds, have a separate area until we decide who gets to join the hens. Our girls day range and last night moved into their new fancy heated coop for the winter.

About a month ago we noticed that one of our hens was looking mighty much like a boy. The hens are younger than the rest of our flocks, and he was the right size as the girls, so we figured out of all those day old chicks we received, maybe one was miss-sexed. By now he should have pronounced male features but nope, so we just figured maybe we have a gay chicken, or more likely a transgendered bird. Something to comment upon but not something we actually thought much about.

But yesterday while wandering the glorious Net, I discovered this, Sex reversal in chickens, at the University of Florida Extension Service. Several things intrigued me. It's not a technical read, so pop over there if you're curious. Who knew if a left ovary gave up the ghost, secondary male characteristics could occur? Our Hen isn't really a Cock, but sort of, but most probably sterile in either case.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

West Nile

My dad's been ill, and the Docs finally know what it is. Dad's a lucky guy. He's in the danger population for contracting the disease but he has triumphed. And now he's immune for any further infection.

Now that he's healthy again, I like to tease him that he's the only being I know to have had West Nile.

And he has yet to see the Pyramids!

5 Yards Free!

The forms went up for the foundation walls on the large pigeon loft - 20 x 30 feet, 2 feet high. The foundation was artfully decorated late at night by roving reindeer feet; it's a shame that no one will see their contribution except on clean-out days.

The turkeys also threw in a creative contribution on the last of the heated bird pads. At least those will be visible! Every dawg made an effort to leave a mark, but their efforts were not covert enough for permanent results.

Jared was scheduled to arrive with concrete at 2pm. Just prior, he called with the grand news. The delivery before ours had over ordered, and his boss had already said that any returns would be donated to the Ranch! Jared's job with B&B Excavating has already garnered us some very kind discounts on concrete, but free concrete for Doves of Vail? That's not even our nonprofit! I executed a very awkward gimpy glad dance and hooted & hollered in a rather jubilant and juvenile way. This is cee-ment I'll be thrilled to watch set.

Yes, Cee-ment. I have to practice saying concrete. Cee-ment gets you laughed at here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

New Dove Loft & Hen Houses

Foundation has been laid for the Big Loft for the Doves, when it's fully finished it should house several hundred.

Our goal this fall is to have over 100 trained doves prepared for spring season events, especially weddings. So our loft needs to be closed in and prepped for our trainees, and then over the next year we will finish it out to accomodate the young birds and adoptees. The foundation has been laid and the base wall will poured tomorrow.

We have three heated Hen Houses in the making but only one, perhaps two will be fully fuctional this winter. Our hens will have have radiant heating so they will lay all winter. Hens like 50°-80°F for laying eggs. We hope to be the only Ranch with naturally raised hens consistantly laying eggs this winter.

Mind you, we don't even have radiant heating in the log cabin!


Right there at the junction on Hwy 6 & 131, where the Wolcott Yacht Club is located, was a farmer with boxes of Western Slope peaches. I couldn't purchase a box because I haven't had cash in hand for months. Nor could Jared or Kristin. But Jim Did; $13 for 25 lbs!

If we are what we eat, we are walking peaches. I'm surprised that if we open our mouths there isn't a southern drawl were there isn't one naturally. But then again, these are Western Colorado peaches.

Tonight I made a peach pie with a lattice top. I'm not too proud of the lattice but after baking it looked perfect. That I couldn't get a picture before it was consumed says it all. I'm not really a pie gal but I had seconds and I was not alone.

Monday, September 15, 2008

How do I dove thee?

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach." Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)

I'm not really a bird person, at least the kind that live in the house and tell your secrets to visitors. But I've come to love doves. Doves, or pigeons, are actually the same thing but with very different feelings attached, I've fallen in love with our doves.They are pure white homing pigeons - rock doves - and they know that there is no place like home.

This evening we had a stunning release.

Kristin & I headed to Eagle. We went to Tara's neighborhood, a lil' suburbia where her house backs onto a soccer field. Three older kids and Tara's young boy, Julian, stood on a picnic table, each delicately holding a dove each until the count of three. The dogs were running free so with the height of the kids we figured the picnic tables were perfect. I clasped a dove with young Julian, his hands were very small, and we tossed the birds to the sky. The rest of the flock flew from the cage to join into the flock and they circled for almost ten minutes before heading home.

The most lovely part of all was that I finally met Tara's youngest, Miss Scarlett - she's a mountaineer already, climbing on top of picnic tables by herself and she's only 14 months! I have plans for Miss Scarlett Rae, I want her to be the youngest to release one of our doves - I give her a few months at the rate she's growing...