04 November 2016

Dogs and Such

I was raised in a family with dogs. They have been a part of my life since the day I took my first breath. And over the years I have had new ones, said good-bye to the old ones, and rescued one or two. On the farm we have two - one a small, black, mixed breed (poodle/terrier) who is an avid hunter, digger, and who is now feeling her age at fourteen years. "Goose" has an adversarial view of cats and because of this she wears an 'invisible fence' collar to curtail her movements. The barn cats know exactly how far Goose can go and at times I believe they taunt her for their own amusement.

I call this the "Silent Scream" as Skye gets her haircut.
Goose's partner is "Skye" who we think is five years old or thereabouts, she wears the same invisible fence collar, having learned from Goose that cats cannot be trusted and should be dispatched. Skye came from a wonderful shelter in a nearby town that specializes in hard-to-place canines. She is a mid-size model of 34 pounds and resembles a Schnauzer, English Sheepdog, and one or two other breeds. (a DNA test is definitely in order). When Skye initially joined me I had days where I wondered if I had made the right decision adopting her - she is not the sharpest crayon in the box and I considered the possibility that she might be slightly autistic. I had concerns for her safety but then she surprised me by excelling at agility and has proven to be smarter than she lets on at times. If Skye is slightly slow or has symptoms in the autistic spectrum, I have grown to understand and appreciate her little quirks. She has a refreshing and enthusiastic view of life that one cannot help but to smile at and enjoy.

Under Goose's tutelage Skye has become a first rate digger of gopher holes and she has learned how to roll in dead animals, and poop from deer or cows (if not caught before she can start her roll). The farmer and I believe that each morning for Skye is a new day as in she does not really remember well so everything is new and exciting and certainly worth jumping up and down for.

Just one of many piles of fur.
About eight months ago Skye had a seizure. At first I was not sure what she was having as she appeared to be swimming across the floor and strange noises emanated from her muzzle. The farmer held her so she would not hurt herself and she recovered quickly. After a second seizure, Skye started phenobarbital twice a day; a small pill, tucked into a Pupparoni®™ stick and immediately inhaled. Goose is also given a Pupparoni®™ stick but without the pill. Equality in all treats - the dogs know and remind me. 

With no children in the house any more, our dogs are our entertainment. The farmer decided to give Skye a bit of a haircut this week which revealed that she really is not overweight, just carrying an enormous amount of extra fur. To her credit, Skye did put up with the haircut very well with no whining and minimal attempts to escape. And in the end, Skye did look much better and she can now see out of both eyes without her fur falling into her face.

At the end of the day, Skye likes to have a paw or body part on Goose before she falls asleep. Skye did this with my old Cocker Spaniel, Cooper, before he passed away. It is a security blanket of sorts and Goose is very patient and puts up with it.

Some people are not dog people and that is why we are fortunate to be able to offer both cats and dogs to visitors. The barn cats hang out, in the barn (of course), making their beds in the upper hay loft, inside the snug bales of hay. They are fed twice a day but are good mousers and can be seen in the fields during the day. We have two in the cow barn and two in the horse barn, but they eat communally in the cow barn. There is a hierarchy I am sure, I just have not figured it out.

The above selection is from a wonderful blog written in France (in English) by a fascinating couple with two Polish Low Land Sheep Dogs, Bob and Sophie. I encourage you to visit them when you have a moment. They are dog people and easy to love.

18 October 2016

Fall Has Arrived

Fall has arrived at the farm. The light has changed outside and you can feel the days have shortened. Whereas we had daylight until 9:30pm this summer, it is now dark by 6:30pm. And wet. Very wet.

The cows are in the cow barn full-time because their hooves would tear up the fields when it is this wet and they also would eat the grass down to the roots and then some. I cannot decide if the farmer is right and cows are truly less smart than horses (although I think the farmer has decided both animals are pretty dumb at the best of times). All I know is that the nose of a cow is feeling unto itself and their eyes are incredibly soulful. The cows do have a yard to go out into for fresh air so their entire existence is not inside the barn during our winter months.

The farmer is putting things away for the winter and making sure the tractors are clean and tucked away in the horse barn to stay dry and protected for the winter months. The orchard is still dropping apples and some pears but the birds are now welcome to take what they want, we have made all the cider we plan to and have enough apples left to cut up and dehydrate.

A big coastal storm arrived last weekend so the deck furniture was being loaded into the attic of the work barn for the winter. Bird feeders are allowed to stay up, but the hanging baskets were taken down and stored in the laundry shed where the dogs have their beds, pillows, blankets and toys since this is where they stay during the day when not outside. We are fortunate to have a mountain range between us and the coast which tempers the worst of storms but the rainfall was 4-5 inches according to the weather forecasters. But then it is Fall after all.

10 October 2016

And so it begins...

Someone told me once that having a blog was a terribly self-centered and self-indulgent vehicle for self-promotion. I could understand that if I had something to sell (I do not) or if I was attempting to procure something tangible from readers (I am not) but none of that is seriously in my scope of work for this blog. 

I had a previous blog that described the life and times of my two dogs (Dozer and Coop) but it fell to the wayside, after four years, when my husband passed away, followed in short order by the corgi (Dozer) and then six months later by the cocker spaniel (Cooper). I found it difficult to carry on a blog when my life was taking on the appearance of a very bad country western song! I can laugh now but at the time being 57 years old, suddenly widowed and then losing my two stalwart canines was more than I was prepared to handle. But adversity either makes one stand up to the challenge or fold up in the fetal position and wave a white flag of surrender. After consuming massive quantities of Drumstick ice cream cones as my comfort food I decided to rejoin life and added a new dog to the mix from a rescue organization a few towns over.

One of our windmills
I decided that hospice was possibly right and taking a grief class four months after my husband passed away was no doubt a good idea. Actually it was an excellent idea and it helped incredibly. It also reconnected me to an old friend who had lost her husband while he was across the country and her experience made my travail look like a cakewalk compared to what she went through. I learned grief is not a competition although at times it can appear that way when people try to say well meaning things.

When I least expected it, a co-worker who had lost his wife to breast cancer five years earlier asked me out to his farm for cider pressing and a BBQ. Not having dated in a very long time neither of us was very good at it which in the long run actually made it easier. Always nicer to be inept with someone else equally clumsy in hand-holding and the such. The fact that this surveyor, who farmed when he was not at work, came with a dog named Goose, only sweetened the deal. My dog, Skye, and Goose hit it off, and the rest is now history. We're married, living on the farm, and reveling in the quiet, watching the seasons, the wildlife (including the two who live with us) and looking at our history together.

And that is all this blog is - just my view from walking this earth for 60 years and what our life is like on a small farm in the Pacific Northwest. Along the way I have some friends to introduce you to, both here in the United States, in Canada and the other continents. I occasionally have some original ideas that while not earth-shattering can be creative and fun. So join me as I walk this journey called life.