Friday, November 23, 2012

Full of Thanks

I just popped into this blog and realized it's been 5 months since I bothered to post anything. I've been busy adjusting to my new job and a different schedule in my life. I'm not someone who is good at multi-tasking. More of a one goal at a time type. I think I multi-tasked so much when my sons were growing up, as all mothers do, I lost the ability when I didn't have to do it anymore. OR, I just choose to slow things down. Probably the latter.

The new job at the library has been good for me in many ways. I'm so thankful the library decided to take a chance on me again. Quite a few people are still there from when I worked the last time, '01-'04, and they've all been very welcoming. It's felt like I never left, which is a good feeling. I thoroughly enjoy the Local History Department. We're quite a bit slower than the other sections of the library but we always have projects to work on. Currently, my two ongoing projects are Indexing the 1941 obituaries from our local news paper and transcribing an 1874 diary. On a daily basis we do research requests and help people locate resources for their genealogy work. We have quite a collection of resources to work with which is unusual for a small town library. I recently did research for a writer  working on an article about a local aviator pilot who died in WWI. 

The animals adjusted to their new schedules, as I figured they would. Nina, the German Shepherd we acquired back in March, is maturing. The horses deal with their lack of lunch on the days I have to work. I throw out more hay or add the hay pellets. I've figured out a plan for the cat. If it's raining he stays in his room with all his food, water and litter supplies. If it's to be sunny, and not too cold, he goes out. Buddy is 10 years old so I try to keep the old man comfortable. Maggie, the Blue Heeler-mix, got a new igloo doghouse which she absolutely loves. I can tell because on the cold mornings she barely peeks her nose out. Lucy, the beagle-mix, just enjoys being Lucy and is happy with her barn-like doghouse. On cold mornings, I can barely see her eyes peeking out over the abundant straw bedding.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all the blessings in my life, and I do have many.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Changes come in threes....

My mom always said good and bad comes in threes.Whenever something bad happens, she could always find two more things that followed. When good things happened, sure enough, three in a row. Funny, over the years, I've noticed it does seem like this little superstition is true a good deal of the time.

This past week, my life changed and it wasn't something I'd actually been planning, it's one of those things that basically fell into my lap. Serendipity, in my opinion. An opportunity the Universe is giving me that I can't ignore. I'm going back to work after a period of five years of not working out there in the world. Though a part-time position, it will be a big change here on the home-front.

With this good news brings a variety of concerns, mostly about my animals, two horses, two outside dogs, our new pup, and the cat. I've been here at home looking after the horses, dogs and cat for a long time now. My horses are in a routine, granted, it's a routine of basic eating times, but nonetheless a routine. The new pup is now five months old. I'll be gone for longer periods of time four days a week.She seems fine with her times in the crate. Eventually, when she's more mature in her ways, she'll have the run of the house, until then, she goes to her "den" (the crate) when I'm gone for longer than fifteen minutes. 

We're still having issues with the pup chasing Buddy, the old cat. How am I going to work this out? Buddy inside in our bedroom with the door closed, or outside where he can roam? We live out in the country. Buddy stays around the house or over around our garage/barn area. Buddy became an indoor/outdoor cat by accident. When his sister died, I started letting him come inside. They'd lived out around the garage/barn area in the upstairs at night. Since Buddy was used to being outside, but also did well inside, I decided to let him go in and out. Now, I don't believe that was such a good idea. I know one thing, any other cats we have will be strictly in or out, no more in and out. 

I'm concerned about the horse's feeding schedule, mainly the afternoon "snack" of hay pellets. I started feeding supplemental hay pellets to help stretch my hay supply. I can't really put extra hay out because these two chow hound horses will just eat it down in no time. I don't have anyone to come and feed. Guess the guys will just have to deal with the changes in their routine. I suppose they'll all adjust one way or another. Animals are more resilient than people. 

I remind myself that I won't be gone every day since I'll only be working four days a week with Sunday always a day off, and holidays too. I'm working in the History Department at our local public library. I was a branch manager with this library system eight years ago, then felt I needed to resign to help my mom take care of my dad who's health was declining. That was my last full time position. Over the years I've worked 8-5 and I've also worked 12 hour rotating shifts when I was a lab tech in the '90's. From '04-'07, I worked mornings, part time, at the horseback riding stables five mornings a week and then programs on Saturdays. So this new position should be a piece of cake. I'm fifty-one, it's probably a good thing Serendipity visited one more time. As we get older, women know how hard it gets to be taken seriously in the work world. Just my opinion.

The other change is that Hubby's job is going a different direction. He's happy but I'm a little apprehensive. There my be a schedule change for him. There may be training trips involved. The last time he had training trips, my sons still lived here on our little farm with us. Now, it's just the two of us and I know I appreciate his help with the horse chores in the evenings. We really won't know much about this change for a few months, or, as sometimes happen where he works, could be next week. 

Those are two major changes in our lives in the past two weeks. Waiting for a third and honestly, I hope it involves our oldest son. He's been finishing up his master's degree and looking for a job...he could use a break and a good change in that part of his life.

You can avoid having ulcers by adapting to the situation:  If you fall in the mud puddle, check your pockets for fish.  ~Author Unknown

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Rainbow Wedding

On June 2, our youngest son got married. He and his bride are both twenty-six. Our new daughter-in-law is a vibrant, beautiful, outspoken, kind woman. The two of them together are like the old saying "two peas in a pod", yet, they are sometimes just as different as they are alike.

I love their story. They went to the same small rural high school and graduated in the same class. She'd moved to the district in their junior year which sort of made her an "outsider" as often happens in small schools. By high school most of the friendships are sealed and the new kids are always the new kids. She says she had a crush on my son from the very first day she saw him. She even boldly asked him out. However, he wanted nothing to do with romantic involvements at that time. Actually, my son just didn't date in high school. He concentrated on his school work to keep up his 4.0 gpa, participated in soccer, quiz bowl, played the bass guitar, sang in chorus, and participated in class plays. He said he didn't want the hassle he saw girlfriends produced. She dated other boys. She was friends with his friends.They often all hung out together. They remained friends through high school then on graduation went their separate ways. She stayed in the area and attended the local university. He went away to Athens, Ohio to attend Ohio University. Through the power of social media, they stayed in contact.

Now, somewhere in those college years, while remaining Facebook friends, they jokingly made a pact. If neither one of them were in a serious relationship, or married, by the time they were twenty six, they'd marry each other. Our son moved home after college graduation in 2008. He was the best man at his older brother's wedding that year. He spent over a year searching for a job.The following year, he and his now bride, started dating and this time he was the one who asked her out. She  says that she turned him down the first time because he had turned her down back in high school. She didn't hold out very long and they dated for a couple of years before he popped the question in December 2010 and she said yes. He'd also been fortunate that year to find a full-time job, though 75 miles away from our home and her.They made another pact, and made the move together where she was fortunate to also find a job.

Their wedding was, simply put, them. Rainbows and lollipops is how she described her day. She wanted the theme because she said that's how being with my son made her feel and she'd never felt that way before.

The ceremony was held at a historical local museum. The building is early 1900's architecture and has a large center room to accommodate a variety of events. The bride's dress was a bouncy, just above the knee, ivory, strapless piece, fitting to her personality. The groom wore his first ever fitted suit,which he was very proud of. An orange paisley bow tie and matching orange argyle socks you could barely see as he walked, but added a hint of fun to his herringbone gray suit. 

The bride walked into the room, on the arm of her father, to the upbeat "Hooked on a Feeling", the version by Blue Suede with the ugga chuggas at the beginning. That brought smiles all around. Her father kissed her cheek and shook Son's hand. There was a pause I noticed, as he turned to take his seat. After all, she was his youngest daughter, his baby girl. The couple had written their own vows to each other which were both touching and funny at the same time. After they were pronounced Mr. & Mrs, they skipped out of the room to the song "I'm Walking on Sunshine" and attendees waving rainbow streamer sticks.

At the reception, rainbow colors dominated the centerpieces, though nothing fancy, just fun. Homemade sand art in small fishbowl glasses with rainbow colored lollipops and pinwheels. Small colorful Dollar Store metal buckets holding rainbow color tissue flowers. Crayons on the tables for guests to draw on the white butcher paper tablecloths. There was a photo booth for guests to have fun pictures taken and people had a blast with it. The couple get the scrapbook with all the photos.The reception was just plain joyous. 

The bride and groom wanted their wedding to be fun and they succeeded. From the music to the whimsical, homemade centerpieces, you felt the joy the entire evening. Many of the guests commented they'd never had so much fun at a wedding. Though non-traditional by most standards, their wedding was what all weddings should be, a joyful occasion.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Looking back and moving forward...

Reading over my last post "Hiatus", I realized it probably came across as rather negative. I admit, I've done a lot of complaining since March, when our new pup came home, but truth be told, our new little family addition is a gem. New pup was a choice. We bought her from a breeder who really cares about her dogs. The problem, and it is my problem, I'm just out of practice with puppy tending. 

Actually, I've never had experience with a puppy living inside the house with us where it's every need is met by me or my husband. This is all new to me. I still stand by my thoughts that puppies are harder than human babies, although thinking about that, I'm probably exaggerating a tad. However, raising a puppy does take dedication and attention. You can't just feed them, play with them (Hubby is the playmate, I'm the teacher), let them wander around unattended. You have to make sure they are potty trained. They have to learn boundaries AND manners. I'm a stickler for manners. I really hate it when I go to someone's house and the dog has not been trained to not jump on guests. There's really no excuse for not teaching your dog manners. In retrospect, our little Nina has done quite well. She'll be five months old this week. I can now see all the training, tears (mine) and frustration (mine again) are paying off. I don't expect perfection, although I was wearing myself out thinking she must do this she must do that. I do expect focus and attention, which she's growing into. I started paying less attention to all the "voices" on the online forums and in puppy raising articles. There is great help in those, but sometimes overwhelming. I started working with common sense. Works better all around. Of course, if one lacks common sense where training is concerned, I think you're out of luck and begging for more frustration.

Over our thirty years of marriage, we just celebrated our anniversary, we've had numerous dogs and cats show up on our rural property. A gray cat and her five kittens one summer. We couldn't figure out why she chose us. At that time we lived up on a hill away from the road. I think she lived at the house down the road and for whatever reason decided to move her brood to our house. Ms. Kitty was a sweet cat. I hadn't been able to have a cat during the first years of our marriage because of my father-in-law's German Shepherds. He lived down the hill from us and those dogs had never been desensitized to cats. They ran the property and then some. Since Ms. Kitty decided to stay I did my best to accommodate her with her family of five kittens.

We had several dogs show up over the years. One dog my husband found under a discarded mattress at the side of the road. We'd been taking a leisurely bike ride on our rural road that afternoon. He carried her back to our house on his bicycle, a two mile ride. We named her Sandy. She was probably a hound/lab mix. Blonde in color, about medium size. She lived with us a a short time until she mysteriously died. We were never sure but it seemed like a possible poisoning. Our Humane Society adoptee, Brandi, a hound/shepherd mix, died as well, which lead to our theory of poison. Brandi was probably about seven at the time. We were never sure how old Sandy was but she was young, maybe a year when we found her.

Buddy was a tough one. He showed up one day out in our field. Looked like some kind of terrier mix. He kept watch but wouldn't come close to the house. I started walking slowly toward him getting closer each day putting food down. After about a week I won him over and he came to me. He stayed with us for a short time then just disappeared. Same thing happened to a dog I named Max. He was a smart one but didn't care for my husband, just me. Must have been part shepherd, medium size. There were rumors flying up and down our road that someone was picking up dogs and selling them to labs. A reminder that you should keep your dogs close to home and have a fenced yard. Back in those years dogs ran free out here in the country. That's just the way it was. All of these animals came to us between 1985-1992 or there about. 

Then our German Shepherd, Xena showed up by way of a gift from a grandmother to her grandsons.Xena had also been discarded. Her backyard breeder wasn't happy she didn't come out all white. That was OK by us, we loved her silver/black coloring. Over the years, people often asked if she was a wolf hybrid because of her coloring and her size. Honestly, I wasn't happy with her arrival at first, basically because I don't like those kinds of surprises. I like to prepare. But it all worked out and Xena was our longest lived dog. She died in 2008 at the age of twelve.

Our recent two "rescues", Maggie and Lucy, have been with us since '05 & '07. My oldest son found Maggie at the state park where he worked,. She'd been abandoned. The park manager was going to call the dog warden to pick her up so our son brought her home instead. He never asked, just showed up with her. Maggie appears to have a lot of Blue Heeler in her. She has one blue eye and one brown eye. People either think she's ugly or pretty. I think she's pretty. No, I wasn't happy with the surprise, at first. At that time we had Xena, who was nine by then. I was worried about conflict but the two of them worked it out without much fuss. Lucy was dumped on our road Thanksgiving of '05. After watching her watch the comings and goings of our house, I encouraged her to come into our pack. She is a beagle/hound mix, reddish in color and apparently much older than we first thought. She started graying around her face last year.

So now we have a pure bred German Shepherd pup we chose, and paid for. For some reason it feels kind of strange. I look at her differently. I wonder if that's normal? She wasn't saved from a bad situation. She wasn't abandoned. She's never been mistreated. She is trusting to a fault. Xena was raised to be an outside dog, and she never knew any of those things either since she came to us at six weeks...but with Nina, it's just different. I'm sure it's in my own perception. At first I wanted to do everything right, now, I just want to have a good dog and I think we're getting there.



                                             Nina @ 4 months.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


I've been missing from a lot of things since the end of March. Yes. We do have a new German Shepherd pup who is now four months old. Let me just say, puppies are hard work AND it's advisable to have a fenced in area to make your life easier when it comes to potty time. Live and learn but right now I'm very tired of linking up Pup to her leash to take outside to do her business up-teen times a day. 

We live out in the country and over the years we've had no need for a chain link fence. We have board and rail out by the road. We don't have much traffic because it's a dead end, except on the weekends when ATV riders invade. I should have planned better. Hubby is in the planning stages for a front porch and fenced in area for Pup. I hope my patience holds out.

All in all she's housebroken. She enjoys her den (large crate with comfy cover) at night. She has never cried or whined when put to bed or when put in her den because I have to leave. However, I can honestly say, puppies are much more work than babies. You have to plan for everything, every day. Something I haven't done for a very long time. I haven't even spent this much time with my horses which makes me sad and irritable at times. She's a smart pup, but she's still a pup and all that brings into it. This is the first time we've had a pup living in residence. The majority of our dogs over the years have been adult rescues. We have two older dogs who run the other way when they see Pup outside. They are both outside dogs. 

I was ill with some mysterious ailment the week she came home. Made dealing with a new 8 week old pup much, much harder. I had to ask Hubby to take a few days off from work.Took me over two months to feel right and my endocrinologist re-adjusting my thyroid medication. Having had thyroid cancer three years ago I've been kept at a suppression level which evidently had me finally hitting a proverbial wall when I stressed myself to exhaustion. I'm also a T1 diabetic, on an insulin pump, but D actually leveled out and wasn't much of a problem. Probably because I didn't feel like eating! I've lost twenty pounds. The scary part, I wasn't trying. 

Hubby is the playmate she looks forward to seeing each evening. He plays with her off leash. I'm the disciplinarian. I keep her on leash through the day and we walk around the property.At least I feel I have to establish all the rules and boundaries day in and day out. I can say that things have gotten better, but many days I look forward to her sleeping all afternoon. The weather has been pretty good for us this spring which makes me inwardly grumble that I haven't spent more time with my two horses. 

I tried to take Pup to puppy classes but she kept getting car sick during the twenty-five minute drive and after three classes I was tired of cleaning up messes. Plus it was during the time I still wasn't feeling so great myself. I tried various methods people told me about and I read on line to help Pup through car sickness. So far, nothing worked. I'm hoping she outgrows it. I'm also hoping the long three hour drive when we brought her home hasn't ruined her for life with car/truck rides. We'd hoped to have a truck riding dog. We can't even get her comfortable riding in our side-by-side utility vehicle around our property. She is visibly scared and uncomfortable.

Pup has learned a lot in these four months. She's very good with basic commands. She plays catch. She enjoys running an old volleyball around the yard. She is not very good with our old Buddy cat which has been a major source of tension. She doesn't hurt him but in her puppy way she just won't leave the old guy alone when he simply wants to sleep on the chair. I've resorted to leaving him in the bedroom with the door closed when he wants to be in the house. I just don't want to deal with the aggravation.

All this puppy raising is a learning experience. I've learned a great deal about myself through it too. My husband posted a note near the computer:  Nan kuru nai sa which he told me means It'll all work out.  That's my current mantra.

On a happy note, our youngest son got married on June 2. We now have both our sons married off and out on their own. Well, youngest son was already on his own but when your son takes a wife, you realize THIS IS IT, my job is pretty much done now. I'm so happy for my son and his bride because they were best friends before becoming husband and wife. That is something I'd always told both sons over the years. Oldest son is going on four years of marriage. Both he and his wife call each other "best friends" too.  Nice to know the kids sometimes listen!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Day

Tomorrow is the big day. We drive three hours to pick up our eight week old German Shepherd pup. We finally decided on a name, Nina. My husband and I had both, unknowingly, placed the name Nina on our separate name lists. Sunday, I said we needed to decide on her name. We compared our lists. There it was, Nina. Although, I was going for Nena spelling, my husband found that Nina means "mighty" in Native American so he wanted the spelling to remain Nina. I can go for that.

We've only seen pictures of her, and her eleven other litter mates, over these past three weeks. We thought we located her in a picture because she has one brown toe on one of her white tipped paws. In that picture, she was peacefully looking out through her kennel, ears perked in puppy fashion.

While I'm excited about this new challenge, raising a puppy, I'm also a little nervous, but I suppose that's to be expected. We've had lots of dogs over the years. Only two we had as puppies. One, Scottie, a small peekapoo mix, when we were first married and then Xena, our last German Shepherd who passed at the age of twelve in 2008.

I don't think we'll have problems with Maggie and Lucy accepting our little Nina, since she's a pup. I think Maggie may be a little put off, at first, because she's a sensitive dog. But I think she'll come around. Maggie never really liked being the alpha female of the dogs around here anyway. She's always been more of a follower. Wondering how Buddy, the cat, will take to his new housemate. Buddy is ten and set in his ways but he's always gotten along with our dogs. Guess time will tell.

While my mind has been full of puppy thoughts I haven't forgotten my horses. They've been looking so nice this week! Shiny coats and not muddy. The warm, dry weather encouraged me to get out there and brush the winter coats off.  After I get Nina settled into a routine the next couple of weeks, my other mission is working with my guys as well as training the pup. I have a new saddle that I haven't even been able to use on Bo yet.

The next four weeks will be full of change around here and I feel I'm finally ready for it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Naming Baby

So, we took the plunge for a puppy. We'll be picking up our furry 8 week old baby on March 24. We drove up to see her on Saturday. She was 5 weeks old when we met her. It was a three hour drive, but we had never been on those roads so it was actually a nice drive. Hubby said it was an adventure. We're Old School, we use paper maps. We don't own a GPS.

Oh my goodness! She is adorable! Of course, all puppies are adorable at five weeks. She was the last one of a litter of 12, who hadn't been chosen. I figure she was meant for us. That's how I was playing this whole thing and that's how it has worked out. 

The breeder, Rhonda, breeds her German Shepherds for positive personality traits. They are not show dogs. They come from what is referred to as Old Fashioned German Shepherd lines. Working lines. I've never been one to be a fancier of breed specific dogs. The majority of our dogs have shown up as strays and were a year old or more, with the exception of our German Shepherd, Xena, who was plopped on us as a six week old pup. But even Xena was a cast off because she was black instead of white, which is what those breeders were trying to get in their backyard breeding program.

Good experience at the breeder's home. Very friendly atmosphere. Family friendly. Adults and kids around who were playing with the pups to start them in good socialization habits. We met the mom and dad of our baby. They were both laid back, and well behaved.Hubby and I were given our pup to check out. Since she was only five weeks old, she did some squirming but she also enjoyed just being held for a while. She seems to be as laid back as her mamma. We observed her, enjoyed her, for about an hour. We understand she will probably change quite a bit by the time we pick her up at 8 weeks. 

Right now, we're trying to figure out a good name for her. We're referring to her as ?.  When asked what we were naming her, Hubby told someone it's like the singer formerly known as Prince who at one time used a symbol for his name. Hubby and I have scoured the internet for baby names, dog names, lists of names, you name it. I have narrowed the list down to about six that are favorable, with two of the names feeling better than the other four. The name rules: no names ending in y, ie or ee since we have Maggie and Lucy. No names ending in O because of my horse Bo. I looked at my short list and realized all the names I like end in A. The name needs to be short, roll out easily and it has to be something we both like to say, over, and over, and over.

I'm busy getting ?'s new home ready. I'm clearing out some things and getting an area ready for ?'s crate.  I've decided on crate training since this dog is going to be a companion/guardian for us. She will be integrated into our home, something we haven't done with a dog since '82. All our dogs have lived out doors since then. When we first got married we had a puppy we'd gotten from Hubby's cousin. Scottie was a little dog, pekepoo or something along that line. Honestly, I don't remember much about the early training part because I became pregnant with our first son that year and my priorities were more focused on being a first time mom. So, this puppy adventure will basically be something new for both of us. We want to do it right.

Two more weeks from Saturday is a long time, but we'll be able to get lots of things squared away. The ride home should prove interesting and we'll probably make lots of stops. 

I'm excited! New paw prints around the homestead! I haven't been this excited about an event since 2004, when I brought my two horses home. Well, OK, my oldest son's wedding in 2008 was an exciting family event too. I'm looking forward to introducing Maggie and Lucy to their new pack member. It's going to be a lot of work, but it's also going to be rewarding. It will be what we make of it!

                                                               ? at 5 weeks

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More puppy pondering

I finally decided to email the German Shepherd puppy breeder a second time. It had been one week with no contact from the person. One of my biggest pet peeves, in this easy bake tech world, is when people don't respond to emails. In my opinion, there's really no good reason not to answer when you've been asked a direct question or two. While I do understand emails get lost, or don't make it to their destination, or are over looked, I can be impatient. Email is quick. Just a few lines will suffice. Are you reading this my dear adult sons? No, probably not...

Oh, so back to the puppy inquiry. The dear lady emailed me back and apologized for the misunderstanding and invited us to meet the remaining pups. She said she really thought she'd gotten back with me. Well, I can be understanding about that since I find myself thinking about doing something, think I did it, only to find out, oops, no I hadn't. Life over 50 is full of those kinds of moments. So, that whole email issue has been cleared up. Thank Goodness!

As of today, my husband and I will be planning a trip to see the remaining pups on Saturday. It's a bit of a drive for us so it'll be a day long adventure. The reason I'm so intent on these particular pups, from this particular breeder is because they raise "Old fashioned, large, straight back, family friendly, German Shepherds", as advertised on their website. I don't want a show dog and I just don't want a dog from show stock. These particular German Shepherds are bred for the old fashioned kind.

 I have looked around for Shepherds in our area but so far, the ones I've found are from show stock. There are some breeders out there who do raise the old fashioned stock, but they're not necessarily that easy to find. When I found this one, in our state, I had to research them more. What I've found, I've liked. I realize the internet can be dicey, but when this lady invited us to see her pups, at her place, I was pretty sure I'd located the right people to find the right pup. Of course, we're just going to "look". Let me just say that every time we've ever gone to just "look" at something, the next step is bringing it home with us. Although, these pups aren't ready to come home, that will come in a few weeks if one decides to pick us.

My husband is on board with this puppy project. We talked about the commitment we'd be making this past weekend. We want this pup, should we choose one, to be raised as a companion/guardian dog to the two of us. We're planning to train like we've never really trained a dog before. This dog will become part of our household. In the past, our dogs have lived outdoors. We live in the country and have plenty of acreage. I still go back and forth on going full speed ahead with this whole thing because I know it will change a lot of things around here, but sometimes, it's good to shake things up a little. I don't think our two older dogs, Maggie and Lucy, will have a problem with a new pup coming into the family pack as long as we include them. The horses could care less. Buddy, the cat, may feel uprooted a bit, but he and our GS Xena, got along great. They'd lay together out in the yard. A pup will want to play so Buddy will just have to go to the other end of the house. Yes, we do take our animals seriously and I'm taking this pup as serious as I did my two horses.

This unusually warm end of February is allowing me to have hope for the coming months.I"ve been grooming the horses. Spirit is already starting to shed his winter coat, about two weeks earlier than usual. Both horses can be seen standing out along the fence that divides the front field (their summer grazing field) from the back field (the winter sacrifice field) and seem to be gazing longingly at what they probably think is grass. There is no grass yet. But it's been so warm here, they probably think there should be grass out there by now and they should be out there enjoying it. Still two months for that. I don't let them into the front field until May 1. I don't have much open grass area here in the hills and valleys so I try to conserve as much as possible.

My farrier was out yesterday. He said both horses looked great and their feet the same.They both stood quietly. My farrier said he always likes coming here because my horses are easy to work with especially after working on nine non-quiet horses. Now, my plan to get my horses, and me, back into shape is at the top of my priority list. I've been working on myself for months now, walking, yoga and my stationary bike. Trying to get back the strength and stamina I've lost in the past five years. It's slow progress, but I am feeling some results.

This weekend's goal, checking out some pups that may get to come home with us in a few weeks. I've been looking at supplies we'll need and making lists. Deciding on the room and how to set up the cage. I've decided on crate training. Reading all about puppy milestones and what to expect. It has all reminded me of the times before my sons were born. Getting ready for baby!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Puppy Ponderings

For the past three or four months I've been pondering the possibility of adopting a German Shepherd pup. Both my husband and I miss our beloved German Shepherd, Xena, who passed in 2008 at the age of twelve. She was one of those dogs who was simply a gem. She left paw prints that can never be replaced. But, it feels like the time to search for another gem. We've always admired German Shepherds who are well trained and have a love of their family pack. That's how Xena was, that's what we want to try to do with another one.

 Last photo of Xena, summer 2008

We've both been discussing my puppy project. We have two dogs who were both rescued from abandonment. We love them, but have also been mulling the idea of putting our energies into raising a pup.We haven't had a pup around since 1996 when Xena was abruptly dropped on our doorstep by a grandmother (Hubby's mom) who thought two boys (our sons ages thirteen and eleven at the time) needed a pup, who so happened to need a home. Xena's story, as told by my mother-in-law, was that the people who had Xena's parents had been trying to breed for white German Shepherds but the pups came out black and they didn't want them. Sad. Mother-in-law knew two boys who'd love to have a puppy. Unfortunately, she didn't OK it with us first, especially me. I was not happy. I don't like surprises like that because I take pet ownership very seriously and want to have supplies and living space prepared, which we didn't, not for a puppy. But, that aside, over the years, Xena turned out to be a fine example of what a German Shepherd should be, loving, loyal, playful, courageous, intelligent, all the traits I hadn't seen in some of the GS dogs I'd grown to resent in my adult years. I didn't have a good view of GS because the one my father-in-law had, bit me, and everyone else in the family, plus a few who ventured on to their property, but that's another story. I've since learned a great deal about dog behavior and realized that particular GS had issues my father-in-law refused to deal with until the day the dog died.

 So, I've been puppy pondering. In my pondering I've looked up a variety of information about puppy training and bringing a new pup into the household. It's been a long time since we've had the patter of little paws, with the exception of our live in/out cat, Buddy. I've been considering all the time and extra effort a pup will take and it will be me who'll be the main caretaker/trainer this time around. When Xena came into our family, I was working shift work and honestly don't remember much of her puppyhood. My sons and husband were the ones who bonded with her early on but this time, it will be me. Over the years we've had more than our fair share of rescued dogs and cats so I don't feel a need to go to a shelter this time around, but will keep the option open. Basically, my husband and I have decided we need a big dog on our property again, and we'd prefer a German Shepherd.

Saturday I made a giant leap and emailed a GS breeder in my state. I'd been looking over their website for a while, looking at the parents and puppies from past litters.I've been following them on Facebook as well. I felt they were breeding and raising the kind of GS dogs we were looking for, the old fashioned, large, straight back kind. However, I have yet to hear back from the contact person. It's been six days. This is one of my pet peeves in this tech messaging world and I don't understand why people can't just let someone know one way or another.I had taken the time to write a nice email, explaining about Xena, adding a picture of Xena, and what we were looking for with a few lines about our time with Xena. In my opinion, it's rude not to at least send back an email acknowledging my interest, whether they have any of the current litter pups available or not. I went to the their Facebook page and discovered that, evidently, they will only know after this weekend whether they have any pups left from the litter I was inquiring about in my email. I thought-How nice  (sarcasm),they can confirm a Facebook post by someone on their page but not acknowledge my personal inquiry. Yes, it ticks me off! There were twelve pups in the litter, six males and six females. I was opting for a female. The pictures have been posted on Facebook weekly. The pups are now three weeks old. While they are all adorable, my thoughts on dealing with this particular breeder are waning at this point.

I've decided if one of these pups is meant to be ours, it will be. If not, well, there are always other litters, other breeders, and there's always our local shelter with, undoubtedly, some abandoned big pups of questionable breeding who need a home. I'm not that upset if one of the adorable pups I viewed isn't exactly meant for us, what will be will be. I'm not going to fret over it. I do have a less than respectful attitude toward the breeder at this point, so maybe this just wasn't our time with this particular bunch of pups.

In the mean time, my puppy ponderings continue, but with just a little less enthusiasm than a week ago.

Friday, January 20, 2012


I'm honest about the fact that January is my least favorite month. It's long, well, feels longer than the other months. It's dreary and cold where I live, though this year has been oddly warm and snowless. I find myself depressed because I'm on a wind down from the holidays and I tend toward SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). While my goal for 2012 is to have a positive spin, gosh, January tests me every year.

Right now, I'm thrilled to be past the midway point. I can see the light at the end of January. People around here are saying winter is passing us over this year with temps up and down from 20's to 50's. There's still plenty of time for winter weather, I'm not falling into that frame of mind. 

To ease my dismal mood, I called my horse-friend. I hadn't talked to her in a few months. We've been friends for the past eight years, met when we were both working at a riding stable. Horses, and our animals, are our common denominator but we have other things in common too.We can pass an hour, easily, talking about our horses and animals. She tends to feel the same way I do in January, bluh. We talked about attending Equine Affaire in April. The crazy things our horses did the past few months. Information either of us may have acquired concerning horses, new trends, new clinicians, new ways of using our time with our horses. It's a good "visit" when you come away smiling and January doesn't feel so darn gray.

So, if you're like me and suffer from January-itis,the best advice I'd give is to find those things that make you forget how long January can feel. The things I've done include: phoned a friend, groomed my horses, watched the squirrels and birds take advantage of the buffet I've provided, taken short walks with my dogs outside, read an uplifting book, watched an uplifting movie or TV program (if you can find one). Also, remember, January is only thirty one days and by March, it will be a memory. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

GMC's Heartland

Last year I stumbled upon a really cool television show, Heartland, on GMC. GMC is the Gospel Music Channel, but there are family oriented TV shows on the network, it's not all gospel music. I am very picky about the TV shows I watch and there aren't very many that interest me. I am so thrilled to have found Heartland! I look forward to the airing on Thursday nights at 9pmEST. There's also an encore at 10pm EST. The show is well made, well written, and well acted. The stories are believable, realistic and visually captivating at times. The series was made a few years ago and GMC is currently showing Season 2.

The TV series, Heartland, is based on the book series of the same name by Lauren Brooke. I've not read the books. Amazon notes that the books are for ages 9 and up. Well, let me tell you, this 50 year old girl is hooked! Even my husband has been watching it! There is something for everyone in the characters and the storylines.

The series began, and I don't think I'm spoiling anything, as Amy, the young heroine, and her mom, are trying to rescue what they believe is an abused horse.On the way home, with horse, Spartan, in the trailer, there's an accident. Amy's mom is killed. Spartan is traumatized. Amy blames herself for her mom's death because she begged her mom to go after the horse. Amy wrestles with the "if only" and eventually starts working to bring Spartan out of his trauma to ease her own pain. 

Amy's mom is a well known horse trainer/horse whisperer, and believed Amy had the gift for horse training/whispering as well. Amy had never trained horses on her own, always with her mom's guidance. The story moves on as various characters are introduced. Grandpa, the gruff, no nonsense cowboy who realizes ranch life is changing, but longs for the old days. Lou,the older sister who gave up a high profile job in New York to help out at the ranch after the tragedy. Will she stay? Will she go back to New York? Mallory, the sweet neighbor girl who sometimes gets in the way but means well. Ty the handsome, bad boy, trying to make right his past wrongs by working at the ranch. He's not so good at horseback riding and no one lets him forget it. As the seasons roll on, more characters emerge. Lou and Amy's father, Tim, a rodeo star who's trying to connect with his daughters again, decides to settle down close by. Ashley, the rich girl who's mom owns the local riding facility. Kit, the barrel racing gal who tends to come between Amy and Kyle because neither one of them want to admit they have feelings for each other. Caleb, the aspiring rodeo bronc rider who decides Amy is worth his time, but just can't quite keep from lying to her.
The horses are always a centerpiece of the story, in some way, which I love.The show was done intelligently. It's respectful but not sappy. It's clean without being preachy. The young people are up against various trials like most teens and find ways to work it out. They get into trouble but the consequences are always dealt with in an appropriate way.

There aren't many TV shows worthy of praise these days but I give the highest marks to Heartland. If you can't get the the TV show, the DVD's are available at as is the book series.

album promo image for Heartland

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wildlife Rescue

Yesterday I heard the telltale thud against the back sliding glass window. Sure enough, there lay a pitiful bright red cardinal on the porch floor. Head turned backwards and not moving. Didn't look good. I hurried to get a pair of gloves and a towel. If the little guy didn't die instantly, I may be able to keep him warm until he revived himself. I've been through this before. I've learned if the bird has any chance, and is only stunned from the impact, thirty minutes to one hour will tell the tale.

The temperature outside was a very cold 20 degrees and the wind was chilling. I decided I'd place the little guy in a cardboard shoe box I found in the closet. A new pair of shoes that didn't fit anyway. I'd place him in the box, wrapped gently in the towel, in the back room of the house and close the door. Buddy, the cat, was asleep in the bedroom at the other end of the house and hadn't moved an inch so I wouldn't have to worry about him. I'd check on the cardinal every ten minutes. Before placing the cardinal in the box, I held his fragile body in my gloved hands. I could feel the life still there. His tiny heart beating and I could see he was still breathing. I was encouraged with this one.

On Saturday, a Red Bellied Woodpecker met the same fate, but he didn't fare as well. I got to him in the same amount of time but no heartbeat. Nothing. He was still. I held him in my gloved hand, lightly wrapped in a towel, for quite some time but it was clear, he'd passed on quickly. I quietly took him down by the creek, laid him underneath the giant white pines and in a bed of pine needles. Covered him over and let nature have him back. As I stood there admiring the bright stripe of red on his head, I wondered how many other people would bother? Probably not many, but we have a rule around here, we respect wildlife in death and life. If we can help we do. He was a gorgeous bird and his final fate saddened me. I felt responsible because he slammed into the glass door, but realistically, I know it wasn't my fault. My husband said he'd noticed two RBW flying around like they were arguing over territory a little while before the crash.One of them won the battle, one of them didn't.

So, I was hoping the little cardinal's fate would be better. I checked the box about every ten minutes. By about the third check the cardinal had set himself in the towel like he was nesting,which I found as a good sign. I closed up the top of the box and waited for the next check. 

When I checked the fourth time, he moved his head when I opened up the box. I didn't want to disturb him too much, we were on the hour countdown. As noted, if he wasn't up and flying within the next 15-20 minutes, he probably wasn't going to be. 

The last time I checked on him he seemed alert. I then decided to move the box outside, open it up and if he was going to survive, he'd soon take off. He sat on the towel, inside the box for a while longer. I checked on him a couple of times. I figure he could hear the other birds, see them flitting by above him. Finally, I couldn't stand it any longer and with my gloved hand I gently went under him. Surprise, he jumped on my hand. Now I realize this is a wild bird, he has no clue I'm trying to help him. I remained calm, lifted my hand up slowly to the railing of the deck thinking he might choose to perch on something solid. Within a few seconds, he flapped his wings and flew off to the trees. My wildlife rescue a success this time around.

Both of the cardinal photos courtesy of JJS (aka my photographer husband)