Everyone Loves a Good Back Porch

Hello friends!
Its officially work outside season, which is, of course, the best thing ever.
Not only is there actual outside work to be done (like redoing the gardens) there’s also just “work that can be done outside”. Luckily, I can usually swing a couple hours outside with my work laptop before the battery starts screaming. It’s a pretty solid little battery, I just usually put it through the ringer trying to develop for, and test against, large scale usage. Obviously, I can’t easily mimic hundreds of users on my local machine, but I can do enough and that’s hard on the battery, among other things.
I absolutely love being able to work outside, although admittedly the farther from the router I get the sketchier my slack notifications become. But I think my coworkers are fairly used to me at this point.
Our Wi-Fi very suddenly cut out this week and would not come back for anything. I was pretty annoyed because a few months ago the radio equipment our ISP provided failed unexpectedly and it took about a month and a half to get it all fixed. A very stressful month and a half when you work from home and are trying to use your phone as a hotspot. My phone has literally never been the same, and I am thinking I may need to upgrade soon because the battery now gets hot enough to fry eggs on.
I used to have a backup connection in town (I used to work entirely in town because we couldn’t get reliable internet access at the farm at all) but I had to cancel that recently as they tripled the price of the service and it was rivaling the cost of my entire electricity bill for the farm. Too much for something I hadn’t used in months.

Buds!! As seen from porch!!

Of course, about a week after I cancel, queue the farm internet suddenly going down. Like i said, I was beginning to get really frustrated and annoyed because I didn’t not want another six months of them being “sure it wasn’t their equipment”. But they got someone on the problem right away, because apparently it wasn’t just my farm that lost service, and the cause? A maintenance person accidentally slicing through a very important cord somewhere in the ecosystem. So only three days down for service, not six weeks. Thank goodness.
An update on Scooby now that he’s had some time to adjust to being a visually impaired pupper. He’s mastered most of his usual routes, and the four steps on the porch. He’s gotten weirdly comfortable with just walking over the top of, or through the legs of, Joe instead of going around. For Joe’s part, he’s gotten very good at standing or laying very, very still while Scooby goes about his travels. He’s pretty patient. He also goes out after Scoobs if he gets too far out in the yard or too close to the retaining wall.
Scooby does still struggle when things are out of place, sometimes he sees them, sometimes he doesn’t. He noticed the Easter eggs on the floor this morning and avoided them but didn’t see the work boots and stumbled over them. I tend to think it’s a depth perception and color thing. Both the carpet and boots are tan, the Easter eggs are decidedly not tan.
We are very lucky to have some very caring folks are part of our “pet raising village” too. Scooby has regular visits with our groomer (they all do) who I truly believe loves these critters like a crazy aunt loves her niblings. She takes special attention to Scoobs now that he has a hard time navigating new or rarely visited places. And our vet has been coming out to the farm for the yearly checkups/vaccinations but is now more accommodating than ever, letting Scoobs stay up on the porch, so he feels comfortable. They also have bumpers they put up in the rooms when he has to go into the clinic so he can’t get stuck under the furniture. We have some amazing people in our lives.
We have blocked up a few places for Scoobs too, although he still gets stuck under the dining table once in a while, he’s a lot better at working out where he is. He’s such a brave little trooper.

And a happy little guy too now that I can pop open the back door while I work, and they can hang out on the porch. They absolutely love being able to hang out outside and in the afternoon when the sun peeks in. Its covered and gated so the littles are protected from predators and Joe is theoretically protected from cars, tractors, the horses, or whatever else he’s decided to make friend with. Although he creates danger for himself because he likes to force his head in between the railing slats.
I occasionally joke about being a “boy mom” because when I describe the everyday chaos to my cousins with human children, our stories sound suspicious similar. It sounds like I just have three young toddlers waddling about. It also helps that anytime someone addresses one of my critters is sounds a lot like “hey Scoobs, where’s your mama?”
(Real talk though, as much as I love being a fur parent, I absolutely realize it is 4000x harder being a parent parent. I only make those jokes around those who unequivocally know I’m joking)
Welp, I’ve prattled on for a while, so I’ll leave this one here. Otherwise, I’ll write a whole book and the editing will be a nightmare haha.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Hippity Hop

Hello friends!
Easter was fantastic at our house; I hope you had a lovely Easter too! (Or a lovely Passover or Ramadan).
We got incredibly lucky with the weather. It poured all day the day before, and it actually snowed and blew and rained and hailed, etc. etc., basically the entire week before. We got approximately two hours of clear skies on Friday to try to clean up the yard and we did our best.
But amazingly, it was beautiful and sunny on Easter! Cold, definitely large-jacket-weather, but so sunny and pretty. I got lots of family photos so hopefully with the lighting some of them turn out well.
We hid 350+ eggs and I am still convinced we haven’t found all of them. I think we got close though, the kids absolutely loved it. Each kiddo got a bucket and a little toy, either a stuffed bunny or a little set of pocket cars they could choose from (among the youngsters in my family stuffed animals and pocket cars are valuable riches, you see). After that it was off to the races.
This year there was enough youngsters that I had to send some grandparents and a grand uncle to the basement to supervise a Veggie Tales screening, because there’s too many bright sunny open windows upstairs to peek through, and the Easter Bunny is shy, you know.

(Most of my Easter pictures include family who would like their privacy respected so please enjoy these photos of some of the decor)

We had a lovely potluck dinner, I made ham and some chip dip, and lots of desserts. My extended family brought, in turn, turkey, some potato and pasta salads, some warm casseroles, and a couple more desserts. My mom tried her hand at deviled eggs and a little pasta salad kit, with supervision, and she did pretty well. A lot of the steps she remembers, it’s mostly just timing and remembering the safety rules, as well as reading the recipes. This is a huge improvement from even last year when she could hardly stand in the kitchen by herself without becoming overwhelmed. It’s easy to forget all the progress she’s made post strokes, and it served as a good Easter gift.
I also had set up an ice cream bar with lots of toppings, so the kiddos were very pleased. And very sugared up by the time they left. That’s my job as the fun cousin, although I think the parents were on similar sugar highs, we really did go dessert heavy this year. But we are a family of sweet tooths… sweet teeth?
Before we ate we had a nice reading of the bible story. This worked out well because, while I had made an Easter Bible Trivia set, everyone was so keen to be out in the sun we ended up forgetting about it entirely. I’m super glad we were able to get at least a little of the true reason for the holiday into our celebration. I think sometimes it’s really easy, I know I’m super guilty of this, to think about the Easter bunny for the kiddos and the food and the games and the yard and forgetting the whole Jesus thing. I’m guilty of that at Christmas too.
The kiddos also got to feed the horses some multicolored carrots, courtesy of our neighbors. The local research station rents land from my neighbors, and I’ve gotten to know some of the field workers. Since they are allowed to take home any harvests afterward (the research station is currently interested only in the seeds) I often get gifted some of the excess, this time, easily 15 pounds of various carrot varieties. I’m so grateful, not only that they think of me but also because its gorgeous, meticulously grown produce. I’ve been cooking with them lots, sharing with family, and feeding them to the girls, and even then, I don’t know if I will be able to use them all in time. Can you freeze carrots? Anyways….
The horses and kiddos had lots of fun, especially because purple carrots stain little fingers and horsey tongues, and little June was telling her little cousins about how she rides Ro and how “Manna” can give everyone lessons. I might be on the hook for a couple more tiny novice cowpokes this summer.
We got to try the new ladder golf setup, and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. I was a little worried about the tethered balls flying with the little ones around but for the most part they are pretty good about staying out of the game zone. My family tends to get a little competitive so the wee ones have learned pretty quickly to not get involved unless they really want to play.
I also bought a game called Throw Throw Burrito, but with the wind a little blowier than usual we didn’t think an outdoor card game would work exceedingly well. No worries, next get together we will throw three-foot inflatable burritos at each other, we have the whole summer after all.

I hope you guys had as magical a weekend as we had. I need to spend today cleaning up, my house looks like an Easter bunny exploded, so I’ll leave this here.
Until we chat again my friends! 

It’s Blowin’

Hello friends!
Winds blowing like crazy again. It does that this time of year, but it seems like it’s a little crazier this year. A little harder, a little colder, a little meaner.
The other day it was blowing hard from the west, just a mean, terribly biting wind. This was especially odd since we almost never get winds from the west. Northern winds sometimes, southern winds most often, but never western winds. Or at least, we don’t notice them because out hill often disrupts that pattern before it bothers us. (Eastern winds are a metric we can’t really gather because of the hill as well).
But today its blowing terribly hard, absolutely rattles the house when it hits, its brought some nasty storm clouds and driving rain too, although no thunder yet. I wouldn’t be surprised if that came along soon enough though.
I’ve tried to be a little less of a helicopter mom with the animals during rough weather days now. When my mares first came home, I would keep them in the corral area with food and stand near them supporting them if it even rained. Then I was reminded that all I was doing was teaching them that I found unpleasant weather scary, and they should too. Well, that’s not what I wanted because short of the severe winds like today, or hail, tornado warnings, etc., weather isn’t a big concerning thing. So, i started trying to just do the occasional check in but mostly let them ride it out. I still bring them into the corral when the wind gets really bad or the thunder starts really rolling, because they have to walk under a tree to get to the corral for water and shelter from the pasture and that gets exponentially more dangerous the deeper into the storm we go.

Here’s Joe, because I really don’t know how to capture “wind” effectively and don’t really want to soak my camera or phone in an attempt

But, it also means I get my steps by walking back and forth from the kitchen window to my desk about a million times, and out to the living room picture windows to monitor the weather. I’m still a nervous pet parent.
Weve been so unsettled this year that I think the girls are really getting used to the insane weather, yesterday it graupeled (I have no idea how to verb that noun) multiple times, and then would be sunny three minutes later. They didn’t so much as flinch. When it got pretty loud in the house, I stepped out just long enough to see if they needed to be under cover, and they ignored all attempts at attention getting in hopes of eating a little more grass before they were called in. Usually if they’re ready to go in the corral, whether for the evening meal and tuck in, or to come hangout while I clean the barn, or to escape the weather, they’ll come get me at the corner of the gate. They can go in by themselves, and they do regularly travel in and out, but if it’s a little spooky that day for some reason, they’ll wait for me to walk down to the barn, so they have someone friendly on the other side of the scary space.
The weather though, has been so exceptionally spastic this year, the girls have started to be much more brave about their daily activities, and pretty much only start to get worried if the wind picks up or I come put to usher them in.
It’s been a couple days since I wrote those earlier paragraphs, and we’ve had two major wind advisories since then. One, later in the evening, I was home alone and had luckily just taken the boys out to use the restroom and gotten the girls bedded down and fed for the night. No sooner had I grabbed my dinner and snuggled in with Project Runway (it’s taken me a while to catch up with the most recent season, don’t judge me), suddenly I was on the phone with family members letting them know that they needed to either stay where they were and settle in, or come home NOW because the winds were getting out of control and the dust was getting so thick I could hardly see across the pasture.

Here’s my dinner, because I really don’t know how to capture “wind” effectively and don’t really want to soak my camera or phone in an attempt

Luckily Christopher made it home (he’s been taking care of a friend’s house for a bit while they are off having a couple babies, so he had to secure their animals) and shortly after so did mom and dad, but not without crazy stories. By the time they got home the winds were sustained about 35-40 mph with gusts closer to 60 mph. It came up so fast.
Christopher’s car was hit by a bunch of debris and dad and mom watched with horror as the camper trailer in front of them on the highway lost its awning to the wind. Shattered and scattered debris across the highway. I’m so grateful they made it home safe and feel just awful for the camper trailer owner.
Even as I type, the wind is gusting 60+ mph and the freezing rain has me panicking about the animals getting too cold. I just spent the last hour with them and am soaked through. Ro has a blanket on, Nellie only recently decided blankets might not be scary so this storm has convinced me she’s getting one this week. Hopefully my local tack store carries Nellie sized blankets.
All in all though, I will forever be grateful that my “crazy” weather stories are so mild, and send all my love to those where the weather has cost them their homes, and in worst cases, their lives and the lives of their loved ones. It’s a terrifying weather year, that’s for sure.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Fix It Lists

Hello friends!
The funny thing about spring time is that it’s always fix it season. It makes sense when you think about it, most things have sat around all winter, cold, unmoving, and without the general mini maintenance that comes with daily use.
We have a little irrigation pump that we use to water the pasture and arena spaces with the canal waters each year. It’s a tough little guy, and mostly comes out of winter unscathed, except for one little valve that breaks every year. Every single year we end up replacing this little brass fitting and pipe section. Weve tried just about everything, it now gets taken off and stored, last year in the garage, where, despite being bone dry and out of the elements, it still cracked. This year we stored it in the basement, but it got so unreasonably cold I don’t know if I have high Hope’s. We will know soon enough, when the frost warnings are past, the canal is full, and we can safely use the pump.

This is when it first started running, it’s not usually this grimy and muddy. Also please ignore the humming, much like a llama I tend to mindlessly hum when I am happy, and any sign of spring makes me happy.

For the first time since moving next to the canal, I was actually outside when it start filling up this year. I was walking Ro into the arena, which backs right up to the canal, and we first it come crashing through some of the tumbleweeds that had settled in the dry ditch. She had one of her rare spooky moments but settled fairly quickly. Funnily enough though, she panicked anytime any of her humans walked too close to the rushing water, which makes me wonder what her past water experiences have been, since no one here has ever fallen in or anything. We ended up mostly just standing near the canal chatting so she could come up and check on the water and then retreat as needed. Nellie was not bothered at all surprisingly. She was completely nonplussed with the whole situation.

This photo doesn’t really relate BUT my girls never share this nicely so I had to share the moment. Please ignore how gross the trough is, it actually got cleaned the morning after this photo was taken and the pvc protecting the heater got resettled

To be honest, I have no intuition as to what this horse will decide is scary and what isn’t. Every time I think “Nellie will fear this” I’m totally wrong, and I have about the same success rate with “Nellie will be fine with this” thoughts too. As long as she’s learning it all comes out in the wash I guess.
We called in the sprinkler guy for our yard sprinklers, because theoretically that thing is all a computerized system. I don’t think the automated part of it has worked for more than a week at a time the entire time we’ve owned it, and the system in manual mode has never made it a full season without breaking down. I’m very grateful for our sprinkler guy, he has the patience for the system that I simply never will. It fouls up like crazy. I don’t know how the previous owners utilized it, or perhaps they had the same issues.
We’ve had significantly worse luck with other tradespeople lately, which makes me even more grateful for our sprinkler guy. I tried to hire a landscaper to help with the ever-growing craziness that is the yard. I can manage the day to day, but the previous owner planted some questionable things in questionable places, and I have bushes threatening my sidewalks, arborvitae growing tall enough to be a problem, trees that need love, and a severe amount of mint… everywhere. I’ve more or less just tried to maintain them until I had solutions but it’s getting a little crazy. I thought maybe someone would be able to help me out, and lots of people responded, lots of people gave me dates and times they’d come give me a bid, and a lot of people suddenly never contacted or responded to me again while I waited for them to arrive. Those that did respond mostly said things like “you’re too far out” and “I don’t work in your area anymore” which is a touch annoying since I clarify my address several times with people (we’re…. not the most Google Maps friendly address). But I assume people suddenly realize I’m not near Boise and it’s not worth it, which is fine, but a cancellation notice would be nice. I missed a fun dinner out the other night because I was waiting for someone who no-showed on me.

Last week my sweet brother started trying to tackle some of the jobs I had hoped a landscaper would help with. I appreciate it so much, he’s really handy when he has time, and my aunt said she’d be able to help me relocate some of those bushes when she comes later in the summer as she’s a hobby botanist. So now I just need to find a dedicated tree guy, and an exorcist for the mint. (I like mint a lot, have always grown it, but in pots, where it can’t rapidly consume whole garden beds. I don’t understand just throwing it out in the beds all over, because it’s truly everywhere now.)
Ah, oh well, worst case scenario the gardens will overgrow, and I’ll lean heavily into the “garden witch” aesthetic. We will call that a solid plan b.
Until we chat again my friends! 

Basically I Wrote a Long Form Do-To List

Hello friends!
I finally was able to get a dog grooming appointment and the boys are so much happier now with the shorter, more manageable cuts.
Scooby especially absolutely hates being too hot, so the extra hair is making him nutty. Joe just gets harder and harder to keep clean and Watson ends up with tangles in his ears because Joe continually uses him as a napkin.
Scooby and Watson always get a modified poodle look, fluffy ears and topknot, clean body, bottle brush tail. It’s usually our intent to do something similar with Joe, but he often is so messy we go shorter on his ears and topknot. Makes him look more like a curly haired Labrador retriever than a poodle but is better suited for his crazy dog lifestyle.
But they are looking cleaner and more content now. Of course, we managed to finally cut their hair the same week old man winter decided to blow one last time (I hope) but I think even with the chilly temperatures the boys appreciated the haircuts.

Kinda hard to see how soft and short he actually is, but we also leave him a touch longer for allergy reasons

The colder temps have set everyone on edge again. Especially when the snow falls. Luckily, we’ve not seen really any new accumulation but nearer our capital city it got pretty gross. There’s been some pretty crazy wrecks because of the snow flurries and sudden colder temperatures.
Generally speaking, my head has been terribly unhappy with the constant change in weather, which is in turn not fantastic when you have lots of fun mental tasks to complete at work and at home. I’ve been just a little under the weather for most of the winter season, and unfortunately, I think it makes the sinus pressure of rapidly changing weather much more noticeable during the day to day. Usually, I don’t have anything near the kind of headaches I’ve had lately, other than the occasional hereditary migraine, which I have many years of experience handling. Oh well, just another reason to be excited that spring is here.
I’m slowly getting things together for Easter, as that’s my holiday. I love Easter, I love the important story behind it, I love the timing, with warm weather and sunshine, I love that the flowers and critters and everything seem a little extra happy, and I love that the Easter bunny gives us a fun way to get the kids really involved in the holiday. I don’t talk about my faith outright a lot, because I am admittedly not a great Christian and I am a staunch protester of modern organized religion, but I am very excited that my little cousins are going to be able to grow up learning about Jesus like I did, and when they are old enough to make their own choices, at least they will be well informed about what the resurrection story is.

Lots of sleepy doggos in my office with me

I also go waaay overboard every year on eggs, you see, the Easter Bunny and I are tight, we work really well together, so I end up with a ton of eggs, and when parents show up Easter Sunday, I recruit them to help me hide all the eggs. My little cousins are already asking if the Easter bunny has texted me yet. I believe last year we hid something like 250 eggs? I’ll probably end up hiding a few more this year because we have some new family members who are of perfect egg hunting age.
Which reminds me, I need to buy candy! And eggs!
(I did already order the ham though, so that’s gotta count for something, thank goodness Costco started delivering some frozen foods)
I love putting together lots of the food and the eggs, although admittedly I usually bribe family members to stuff eggs while I’m at work, because there’s simply not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything. I’ve also started making every holiday a “bring a dish” holiday, sometimes potluck, sometimes we sign up for things, but there’s just too many of us now for my food budget to stretch. Just since I’ve been home the last few years the family has grown by 7 and is actively growing more!
For anyone worried, I actively plan for any “kiddo” under 18, and usually have enough eggs hidden that the adults (that didn’t hide them) can hunt some eggs too. I almost always grab an extra basket or two, just in case a friend or extended family member I don’t know of comes along too, I try to prepare for all possibilities. Then I bust out the camera and try to catch some of those fun Easter moments so later I can put them up for family in a Google drive folder. Theres also usually lots of lawn games and card games so that all ages and mobility levels have things to do. So, there’s a little Easter magic for everyone, hopefully.

All that being said, it takes a lot of prep work to pull it off, so while I’m excited, it’s also nervous season. I still have most of the decorations I handmade the first year I hosted (I had Martha Stewart dreams at one point) so generally I just add a few little banners or things I find and let my sweet mom go crazy, as decorating has totally become her thing. The food is always tricky because you can only pre-plan so much before it simply comes down to timing. The eggs can be stuffed ahead of time but need to be kept some place cool so the chocolate doesn’t melt. I need to take stock and refill the toy bins with age appropriate toys, and make sure there’s plenty to do for the little ones.
Oof, welp, I stressed myself out, so I’m going to grab my to-do list and brain dump all the Easter tasks.
Until we chat again my friends!