Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Hello friends!

I am once again calling on your expertise! It’s Christmas time officially and I need some no cost holiday fun ideas for little kids. We’ve been a house of busy working adults for so long that we sorta have our Christmas spirit in batches, and the kids are losing their minds about it.

I also need some very inexpensive but very fun Christmas gifts ideas for these kiddos. Santa is really broke this year because they’ve literally tripled my food and utilities costs and I wasn’t exactly pleased with the budget beforehand. Gotta love when a single tank of gas is your entire commute budget for the month. But I digress. 

The boys have been loving napping under the tree

I plan on making some reindeer snacks for Christmas eve (and the reindeer will enjoy them sometime after the kiddos go to bed). My parents always made it look like the reindeer were super messy eaters, and I think this year that sloppy reindeer might just make a comeback. Carrots and apples for sure, and cookies for Santa.

I was planning on involving them in the cookie making process if they wanted. We always make almond butter cookies instead of sugar cookies, they have a little bit of a deeper flavor and are just a little less sweet. I’ve never heard any complaints so I think the kiddos will like them, and they make up very similarly to a sugar cookie and can be decorated just the same. We usually make a batch of chocolate almond butter cookies too, as well as a couple specialty cookies. Although I learned my lesson a couple years ago with red velvet cookies. It’ll be a while before I try those again. Messy and gross to boot. I think I messed something up, but frankly you have to use so much dye there’s not really a second chance. 

I’ve added a new sweet treat to the mix since I’ve taken over the cookies portion of the holiday. We now also have no baking peanut butter chocolate bars, a recipe given to me by a friend of my grandma’s. They take about ten minutes to make and about an hour to chill (you melt and reset some chocolate) and then you have super cute little snack sized bars to eat. They are super rich but super addictive, so I always have to put them somewhere out of the way to help prevent calamity. I love little treats like that though, because for the most part, I almost always have the ingredients on hand and, other than the small scale crisis caused by attempting to measure peanut butter, they are really easy to make. Same principle as keeping premade cookie dough in the fridge, you literally never know when you might need a sweet treat.

Pretty sure we are going to have something akin to a white Christmas. I don’t know if it’ll snow or have a lot of accumulation specifically over those days but I definitely think that the conditions will be there and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. Last year it was -2 degrees Christmas morning, we had around a foot of snow, and it started snowing more that afternoon. Made it difficult to feed the animals but it was really quite beautiful. 

It was really funny though too, because, and I think I showed you guys in pictures, the little walkway that I throw food into the barn from was completely covered in snow. There was a large pile from the roof to be climbed every time we wanted to feed in the barn. I definitely fell off that pile several times and the horses definitely laughed at me several times, which…fair.

This year so far the snow has been… mushy? Not structures building snow so it doesn’t build into drifts or create those wind balls. Kinda just gets everything wet and muddy. I think the kiddos would like it a lot better if it was the fun fluffy stuff. 

I’m somewhere in the realm of 80% done with my Christmas shopping. I’m one of those weirdos that starts planning in October and as soon as we get Halloween squared away I start slowly enacting my plans. Doesn’t always work, I definitely still have to do the December 23rd quick trip. But I’m getting more organized each year. I have to, my holiday season is packed, have you seen the size of my family? I have events every weekend of November and December and lots of weekday craziness too! This year there’s a color-coded spreadsheet. You know I’ve hit full first born, obsessive planner mode when I bust out the excel formulas. Putting on our serious Santa hats.

(It’s really quite pleasant to see all those pretty little cells though, you gotta admit).

Until we chat again my friends!

Withdrawals

Hello friends!

Welp, I’ve had to slowly move our morning rides to the midday. It’s not a bad thing per say, I just absolutely love our morning rides, it’s the most wonderful thing to enjoy your time with your horses as the sun is coming up and all is pink and lovely. It’s a special summertime treat. 

But now we get to have autumnal work. Wind whipping around makes warm horsey hugs more special, we bust out the coolout blankets for after work, and everyone starts wearing an extra layer or two. There’s warm beverages to be had, and slightly later starts on the weekends, all good things. The only rough part is knowing we are on borrowed time and after the first snow It’s really up in the air how long we have to work until we have to call it for a couple months. Unfortunately I just don’t have the infrastructure to keep my girls in activity over the winter, no way to cool them slowly enough to not shock them after work, less than great footing when wet (when things aren’t Just straight under water), and no wind breaks, which around here is a big deal. Winds are quite the thing in our little corner of the valley.

I’m really hoping that the weather is milder this year, last winter everything was very wet and the daytime temperatures were well below freezing for a good portion of the winter. I lost a bunch of the plumbing for the barn and had to literally chip gates open. I really want a milder winter, preferably one where we can keep riding and using the arena space for longer into the season before it starts to turn into a lake.

Mom’s got the house all decorated for fall. She absolutely loves decorating for each season and holiday, although we go a little lighter on the Halloween stuff since that’s not really a holiday we celebrate. We maybe watch Ghost Hunters reruns and I might make a spooky dinner, but nothing major. We keep it low key for Halloween, and we never get trick or treaters (for good reason, please don’t drive your kids out to the country to trick or treat unless you 100% know the farmer and know they have candy. It’s a dangerous game otherwise. I know yall are too smart for that nonsense, but it’s worth saying, it is the internet after all). But we get pretty into the fall themed and harvest fest stuff. I think it helps stem off the inevitable blues that the end of summer bring. Not that the other seasons aren’t great, but it’s hard to start slowing down when you just wanna be outside for forever. So we make sure it’s a warm and cozy time. But not christmassy yet. We don’t do Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving and we are careful about it until the 13th, because my dad is a December baby. Don’t wanna step on his birthday. I’m lucky, I’m a July girl, so no overshadowing major holidays for me, and I get fireworks. Truly the best. 

Isn’t he the cutest!? I had to show you, also, please ignore the shaky camera, Joe was actively pushing me over

Winter season also brings out the excuses in me. My eyesight isn’t the greatest and there’s no streetlights this far out in the country, so I always try to excuse myself from events where I have to drive after dark. I also staunchly avoid driving on snow and ice if I can, so I spend a good amount of cozy nights curled up with a book and warm drink. Sorry, I can’t make it, I’m too chicken. 

My warm drink game is a little off right now. See, a few months ago my headaches started getting even worse, and I finally had to do something to figure it out. See, I come from a long line of headache sufferers, migraines, tension headaches, weather affect, you name it, and unfortunately I’ve definitely got one sensitive head. Luckily because this has been a forever thing, normally, unless it’s a particularly bad day, I can muddle through with relative success. I just warn people that I’m one bright light or loud noise from getting irrationally angry and I occasionally  treat myself to an early night in. But a few months ago it got a little crazy. We’re talking midday naps everyday because I could not cope. I tend to have some form of headache around 4 out of every 7 days, I’m told that’s pretty typical, so everyday all day was a lot. And pain meds wouldn’t touch it at all. I actually cried about it a couple times, and I don’t generally cry about medical stuff. On a whim I started cutting things out of my diet and, long story slightly shorter, it was coffee. Not caffeine mind you, I can still drink soda, but specifically an intolerance to the bean. Doc says it’s probably because I lived on coffee for so long my system finally just said no. He also thinks that with time, and a lot more moderation, I can probably go back to coffee eventually. But for now it’s a special planned treat. For example, I really wanted to try the mint chocolate coffee at the candy store, so I got it on a day I knew I could go straight to bed if needed. It was absolutely delicious by the way.

Most days I’ve switched out coffee for warm broths. I’m not much of a tea person but I have a couple I like. But broths also can have a nice little nutritional kick so I tend to reach for them. And I don’t reach for them first thing in the morning, I wait until others are up, so I’ve also kicked the morning march to the coffee maker habit. 

It wasn’t such a big deal over the summer, but as we are going into fall and winter, I am missing my coffee a little more now. There’s nothing quite like a warm cup on a frosty morning.

In any case, I think I’ll survive, pretty sure there are worse fates.

Until we chat again my friends. 

It’s a Dog’s Life

Hello friends!

Well, it’s cold, it’s gray, and it’s been intermittently smoky for weeks. Seems to me it’s definitely fall. Although, I must admit, the Grey thing is not something I am used to here. In Seattle sure, but generally we still see the sun around here. But there’s been lots of overcast days. I wouldn’t mind if they produced rain, which would help with fires and smoke, but these menacing clouds are mostly just for show it seems, or potential disaster. 

We had one angry stretch of dry lightning a week or so ago that nearly burned down the high school, because it burnt the hills up behind it. To my knowledge nobody lost any structures, but I know a few people got close. Chicken Hill burned too, and I guess during the microsburst people thought some of the windows, especially the big ones in businesses, were going to shatter, either from wind or the severe crashing of the thunder. They had to call in the three surrounding jurisdictions to help because there was just so much on fire at once.

We were very lucky to be on the outskirts. We got a side hit of the wind, but nothing was damaged and only one tarp attempted to take leg bail. The thunder crashing upset the doggos, but cuddles and good crates calmed them down. The dog equivalent of hiding under the covers is a properly cozy den space, tailored to the dog, available all the time. Mine are, of course, spoiled rotten but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Joe has a plush mat, open walls, a blanket and a toy, Scooby has a gel cooled, memory foam mat, closed, rounded sides, and a very light blanket, and Watson has a little closed den with enough blankets and bedding that sometimes I truly wonder how he fits in there. All doggos get extra blankets/comforters when it starts getting cool but other than Watts, I generally have hot dogs. Especially Scoobs, sometimes I think he’d be happiest in the arctic. 

Although, that’s not entirely true anymore because I have now seen, since moving here, how much he truly detests snow. Does not like being wet, does not like that it sticks to him, that it’s hard to walk in, and honestly, I can’t blame him all that much.

Scoobs has been learning lots of new things lately. Since he’s lost his sight, he’s learned to navigate the house by feel. Unfortunately he’s also learned to wail at all hours to get attention. The vet says he’s fine, he just has a hard time differentiating between day and night and when he decides it’s morning there is no convincing him otherwise. Even if it’s one a.m. The vet suggested trying to have a really solid bedtime routine and lots of busy work during the day. So he gets lots of wander and explore time outside until the weather turns cold, and I’ve been taking him down on a leash with me to feed in the evenings (don’t worry, there’s always a fence between him and the other critters, I wouldn’t put him in danger even if he could see. I also usually bring a buddy, so he has a dedicated seeing eye person too). He seems to really enjoy it but it’s a lot of walking on little legs so we are worn out by the time we make the porch again. It’s hard work being small.

I think he also likes it because it’s something special that just he gets to do. We haven’t been bringing his brothers down because generally I don’t want the dogs to get used to that area being a space they can go to on their own. They occasionally come down when I am working on a project down there, I bring the doggie play pen down and they hang out, but in general, Scooby has been the only one to get to walk down there every night. It also allows us to go at his pace, and he can stop and explore or take a breather if needed. It’s a pretty thinky experience too because he isn’t used to the gravel down there, or the hay on the ground, or all the new smells. Now that he’s not as reliant on sight, he’s got lots of exploring to do. So it’s good exercise too.

I don’t know how the horses feel about it though, because it definitely slows down the feeding process. Generally, they see me start the evening trek to the barn and they come hauling tail in from the pasture, but now they have to stand patiently waiting at their spots instead of being met with food. I am not as quick to get down there. But they still get snuggles and sweets and goodnight kisses so the result is the same. Scooby chills out by the door so he can take a breather while I move the hay around.

Speaking of hay, it’s time for me to pull down a new bale, and I should probably do that before it starts raining today or all the bales will get wet, so I better sign off for now.

Until we chat again, my friends!

To-Dos

Hello friends!

Let’s chat about winterizing since it’s starting to look like that may be next on my plate. I’m really not ready to see summer slowing down but that’s all part of the deal I guess, gotta explore all the changing seasons. And I do really enjoy that part of it. Fall is a lovely time of year. 

What does it look like at your place when it’s time to start thinking about winding down the summer? I’m always curious, because every place is different. My aunt and uncle have a lot more acreage so they have a lot more to think about. My neighbors’ fields (where the research station workers lease ground to grow their experiments) are already being cleaned up. They’ve been pulling down the netting and veggie cages already. 

I’m still mostly trying to pretend summer has a long run left, but I have been thinking about gathering the winter supplements for the horses, pulling out their blankets and checking the buckles, and bemoaning the fact that at some point I gotta climb up a ladder and check the heat lamps in the barn and coop (Cordelia has one in her cat condo too, but it’s at chest height to me, much easier). Dad’s thinking ahead about winterizing the irrigation system and the sprinkler lines. 

I was so surprised when mid winter last year Nellie tried on her first ever winter blanket and absolutely loved it. Turns out the key to my girl’s heart is cookies and cozy blankets and really, I can completely respect that. I’m also swayed by sweet treats and a warm blanket. I had avoided blanketing in the past, choosing to let their thick winter coats grow in and letting them do the job. And in the past it’s worked just fine. But we are having progressively more extreme seasons and the winter coats just won’t do against -10° and freezing rain. The old timers say it’s cyclical and we are due for some extreme weather. Record setting highs and lows. Can’t say I’m particularly keen on it, but we will figure it out as it comes. That said, my uncle tells stories of tying a rope to the ranch house porch and the barn door because the snow was so thick they were afraid of losing the kids in it. I’m hoping that was mostly just a story, but my uncle usually has a fair amount of truth to his tall tales. Oh boy.

On top of the winterizing chores, I’m slowly thinking about all the fun fall things I wanna do. Soon it will be time to go peach picking, and make cobbler from the treasure. I can’t wait to put up the fall themed decorations and have pumpkins on the porch, and their seeds roasting in the oven. I absolutely love roasted pumpkin seeds. I am excited about pumpkin bread, and maybe even some pear bread if they look good this year. 

I should get back to crocheting my little pumpkins, and Watsons sweater. I started them before my fall way back last year and consistently found that the repetitive actions of crocheting were the easiest way to aggravate my injured elbow. Doc said I should just let it be for a few months and come back when other things have stopped aggravating it too. Sorta fell out of the habit, so it’s worth a shot now. Worst case scenario, I hold off a little longer

please excuse the awkward crop, I am strategically removing as much of my screens as possible. I also have no idea why my sleeve and hand looks that dusty…..

Watson is already cold and the days are still really quite warm, he’s just so little he doesn’t maintain his own heat very well. He would very much like his little sweater to be done soon. I picked a cute soft green in a different yarn texture than I am used to. It’s a slipperier yarn which is annoying to work with but it’s less scratchy than the traditional red heart that I use most of the time. I wanna find two oversized buttons for the closure for easy on and off. Since I’ll be the one putting it on and my hands are usually a disaster of band aids and bruises, I’m sure I don’t want tiny fiddly buttons to do up every morning. 

Farrier has put us on a slightly longer schedule too, since going into winter the horses hooves don’t grow quite as fast, sometimes, like this last winter when it was incredibly cold, they hardly grow at all. I assume it’s a survival thing, I just like that it’s a pocket book thing. Our new farrier seems cool, admittedly juries still out for sure until I see him work on their feet a few more times. But he seems patient and fairly understanding, so that’s a huge win.

Well, admittedly, all of this was a bit of procrastination before I actually sit and make a plan. To quote Game of Thrones, winter is coming, and around here that means there’s work to be done.

Until we chat again, my friends!

Two Steps Forward…

Hello friends!

Anyone else ever get to feeling, sometimes, like they are just forever reacting to things instead of actually accomplishing new tasks and making any actual progress? This has been the whole farm this summer, seems like I cannot for the life of me get ahead, I just keep reacting to issues as they arrive. It’s not the world’s greatest feeling.

Take, for example, this water trough. I’ve been having consistent issues with it, finally thought I had it fixed and now we are literally back to square one. Basically, after the hard winter the frost free had no pressure and when it did, my auto waterer wouldn’t turn off. Then we got the pressure back and the valve itself wore out. Got that fixed, and the auto waterer working, but by that point the trough had gotten bad enough from not being circulated enough that it needed more than just a spring clean. So I very carefully tried to work around the auto waterer, emptying the water slowly through the little release valve instead of just dumping the trough. Got it clean, filled it back up. Now the auto waterer leaks again and on top of that, the little seal has started leaking too. I have checked and tightened, looks like I’m going to probably have to seal it with an external product, probably something like flex tape (I’m not necessarily recommending that product, I don’t have much experience with it, but the couple times I used flex seal I was pretty impressed). Seems like I can’t quite get the water situation solved.

Too cute for her own good (tried to crop her swollen leg for those who don’t enjoy that sort of image)

Same seems to apply to the sprinklers and the misters in the barn, constant leaks and blockages and cracked hoses, and whatever else you can imagine can fail in a sprinkler or mister system. I almost lost a huge chunk of my pasture because one of my lines just wouldn’t stay cleared. Craziness. 

Kinda feels the same way with my sweet mares this year too. While every day is a wonderful chance to spend time with them, and I am really loving our time together, work or play, this year any time we attempt to accomplish anything the horse in question goes lame. Poor Ro has limped her way through the summer so far, effectively halting our work on lope transitions and bravery on trail rides. We’ve been trying more on the latter but it’s hard to be brave when uneven, rough footing is hurting you. So we have slowed down and tried to be a little more cautious about that. Nellie’s leg has been huge most of the summer due to the high temperatures and while the vet isn’t necessarily concerned, I’ve been warned to go very easy on that leg. It doesn’t seem to hurt her as much as it seems to annoy her when her range of motion is affected.

I’ve spent a lot of time and money this summer trying to aid these issues, but we kinda seem to be spinning our wheels a little. Like I said, it’s never time wasted, I love working with these sweethearts no matter what the pace is, but it’s funny how it seems to be the summer of setbacks. 

When you can’t hold your own head thoughtfully, have your mom do it

On other news, we have had a nice little potato crop. After a lovely roast potato dish the other day, we’ve had enough continue to grow  that we took some to my grandma as well. Potatoes are such a  lovely crop to grow, and something we eat a lot around here, so I definitely think more of the garden will be devoted to potatoes next year. 

As well as kohlrabi, because that’s also been a hoot and a half to grow. Super cute plant, very tasty payoff.

Unfortunately a decent amount of the garden got eaten by something, and what it didn’t eat it slept on and squashed, so I have been doing a little bit of research into container gardening in this part of the country. I did a little of it when I lived in Seattle and it was helpful for the critters there. It would also give me more potato space for next year. Win win. 

potatoes!

Anyways, I won’t catch up with farm chores by complaining so I better get back to it. Lots to do, especially the stuff that needs doing before the heat hits each day.

Until we chat again, my friends.

Tsch Tsch Tsch

Hello friends!

What a week. I unfortunately got pretty sick again this week, but I think mostly due to the very long hours at work and the weather and pollen counts. It’s not been the most fun so I don’t have a huge amount to report. 

My dad and Christopher were able to get some of the sprinkler lines up and running in the pasture finally. It’s so late in the season, but the weather just hasn’t been cooperating lately. But there’s few things more “spring-like ” than watching the sprinklers run for the first time. I used to love watching the hand pulls and wheel lines start sputtering to life when I was younger, after an early morning helping my uncle with the irrigation. I remember sneaking around trying to get dressed quietly so I didn’t wake the whole house, how my uncle did it was beyond me, but I really wanted to help move pipe in the morning so little Amanda would get up at 3:30 or 4 am. Now I do it for work all the time and, to be honest, still not a morning person at all. I dunno, it never stuck. I can do it, but I’m not built for it.

But I love the sound of the sprinklers moving along. To clarify, impact head sprinklers are my favorite. They spin along on the impact of the little spring mechanism, making that trademark “tsch tsch tsch” noise that is the perfect background for a good book, or a good nap. The little arm swings in front of the water before moving away and that impact pushes the head around its spinning path. It’s a lovely rhythmic noise that screams spring to me because some of the earliest tasks when the weather warms involves getting them set up.

Unfortunately because we keep returning to the cold, late snow and freeze warnings, and nasty storms we have halted most of the spring chores. 

While I’ve been sick, I haven’t been able to ride much, as I start to cough and wheezing and it stresses out Ro. She mother hens me and while horsemanship is almost always good for the soul, it’s a little hard when neither horse is willing because mom sounds more like a velociraptor than a human. I’ve not had much of a voice at all.

So, instead of riding, I’ve started organizing the tack space. It got a little rough over the winter because someone tried to help me clean up, without telling me, and sorta completely changed everything. But it’s slowly getting back in order and the family member meant no harm. 

I’ve labeled the boxes, so I can tell where most things are, my shelves are mostly back in order, I’ve hung up my halter hooks again and I put up my “whoa” sign on the wall. I haven’t cleaned since the last dust storm though because I was trying to not completely aggravate my cough (spoiler alert: I did though). Mostly sitting down jobs for me for now. 

Speaking of signs, I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned in a previous post that we’ve had a new family hanging around that feels the need to sneakily feed my horses, so I bought some “please don’t feed” signs I need to put up (and some “my fence is hot” signs too, no leaning please, although you’d think the barbed wire would dissuade them). I’ve had horses I knew killed by well meaning families feeding recklessly over the fence, plus Nellie has a history of colic now, so it makes me nervous. Plus it’s just a super dangerous habit to teach your children, you don’t know if my horses are aggressive, maybe biters, and you don’t know if my fence is hot, which mine always is.

I’ve tried in the past to educate, and let them know that if they want to feed the horses they are always welcome to come knock and I’ll usually be able to take a quick break from work to come hang out and let your kiddos feed the girls, and most people are receptive or at least reluctantly understanding. Unfortunately this family mostly just got really upset with me. Hence the signs. I wanna be friends with my neighbors, but more importantly I don’t want humans or horses hurt and if they find that offensive, well, I’ve hit an age where it’s no longer important to me to be liked. You can be the sweetest peach…. etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Watson having a nervous cuddle during a storm

Problem is, for now, I haven’t really felt well enough to stand out in the winds and rains to put them all up…. So my porch is a no feeding zone. It’ll come in time.

Anyways, I think I need some more warm tea, so I’ll end this here.

Until we Chat again my friends 

The Nerdy Owl is a Know-It-Owl

Hello friends!
It’s very early in the morning. I’m awake because a hoot owl has taken to slowly circling the house and, unsurprisingly, hooting in the early morning hours.
Its supremely unsettling. I tend to wonder if it’s to upset the dogs, or if there’s vermin in the bushes around the house that he wants, but either way, being able to follow his path and knowing exactly when he’s outside your window…its unsettling.
This last fall, when I would be sitting at my desk later in the evening, I would often get the impression that I was being watched. My desk sits under the window, across the way from the window is some tall Arborvitae bushes and down a bit is a tree (possibly an Locust tree? Dunno) who’s branches reach out closer to the window. Well, the hoot owl learned that if he sat on top of the Arborvitae or in the outer tree branches, well, he could see right into my room. So several nights in a row I’d get an ominous feeling, start to hear the hooting, and I would look up from my desk just to make eye contact with him. Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway) I started closing my blinds shortly after sunset, no matter what. Previously I’d just sorta waited until the next time I got up to stretch, but now its been made a priority all its own.
I’ve been told that seeing an owl peer through your window is good luck. It doesn’t particularly feel like good luck to have a large predatory bird staring at you while you work. Especially when you have a very small dog sleeping on your lap (admittedly, I don’t think the owl could see Watts under the blanket under the desk but still). So, I thought I’d look it up and see.

One of the owls in the parliament (I can’t tell you how difficult this shot was to get, but I respected the owls space and comfort and used a huge zoom)

(It’s at this point that I tell you my “research” consisted of a Google search, this was in no way thesis level work and you should probably double check what I’ve written before proudly declaring it at your next party/meeting/carpool.)
Looks like, based on the first three links of my Google search, that owls are associated with the night, death, and fear just about as often as they are associated with bravery and good omens. It also seems to be a fairly even split, on cursory look, amongst the Native American populations as it varies wildly by tribe.
In a more blanket “spiritual” sense a lot of religious and spiritual groups seem to see the owl as a sign of good fortune and wealth, and one looking in your window is meant to bring joy and comfort. But I could seem to parse exactly why they hold that belief.
Look, I don’t know if I felt comforted at all about an owl outside my window and I don’t think I believe in lucks and omens and signs. I do believe I will keep a better eye on my small beans as they go through their morning routines. Especially as this owl gets bolder and has started yelling when I turn on my light in the morning. In fact, he’s chewing me out as we speak. I’m meant to let the dogs out for their morning business in about an hour, I always stand out there with them anyway (I never let my beans out at any time of the day without supervision, as I don’t have a fence and they all grew up with a fenced yard, and even if that wasn’t the case, there’s just too many dangers for them to navigate on their own), but honestly, I’m kinda thinking we might push it back a bit. Watson is really owl dinner sized, and this owl has already buzzed family members, so it’s clear he has no regard for humans. Just yesterday he watched me take the boys out and softly hooted from a nearby tree. I have only ever seen this owl from a great distance in the daylight but I know he gets fairly close at night, under the cover of darkness. So I think outside time with the boys will be a two or more person job for the foreseeable future. Safety in numbers maybe, that way we can always have an eye out.

Nellie looking amazing.

We’ve had some other visitors around the farm too that have made the boys and I varying levels of nervous. There was a lone coyote around, maybe still is, dunno, that was getting a little bold and twice I ended up grabbing dogs and hauling them up on the porch and into the house with a quickness. I don’t know if he’s brave enough to try to steal or take on one of my dogs, but I don’t care to test it. I worry about Cordelia, the chickens, and the horses, but Cordelia spends most of her early mornings safely in the rafters of the equipment shed, the chickens are in the coop at night, and while the mares have run of the arena and corral at night, I am pretty sure my girls would win with a coyote, and I’d hear about it fast enough to get down there in help. Basically, I only worry my citified little canine pack because they don’t know any better and I get the distinct impression they would want to make friends.
We’ve also had a skunk hanging around. You can tell because of the way the farm often smells. Theres enough variety of critters around here that the skunk seems to regularly need to defend itself, or at least announce itself, and while I’ve not laid eyes on a skunk since my first year here (when one walked out from under my car and I called my boss to say I’d be late as I hauled to the house) I have absolutely no doubt this guy exists.
The deer have been more hit or miss but I know they’re around too. You can sometimes see their glowing green eyes in the grass and sometimes they still come down to watch me feed in the evenings. There are still tracks and droppings in my yard and evidence they’ve been snacking occasionally on my hay. So, they clearly don’t feel too threatened.
Well, the hoot owl seems to have chilled out, and I’m thinking it’s about time I started work for the day. Keep an eye out for critters on your morning walk, lemme know if you see anything cool!
Until we chat again my friends! 

Mail Call

Hello friends!
Joe got some fun mail today, and he’s incredibly excited about it. See, ever since he was a puppy Joe has loved toys, especially Kong safestix, but he’s hard on toys because he’s an aggressive chewer. I try really hard to make sure about the time the latest toy needs to be replaced, we have new Stix in the wings.
But I sometimes miss the mark and we have to remove the old toy before the new ones arrive. This exact phenomena is why Joe has gotten really used to the Chewy signature blue box (not sponsored, just the only place I can easily get a hold of his favorite Stix).
This crazy dog recognizes the box from the moment the driver pulls it out and waits not quite so patiently at the counter as I cut all the non-dog friendly packaging away. Then one by one (I usually order three or four, in some combination of medium and large sizes for my giant teddy bear of a dog) I hand them to him, and he goes about showing anyone nearby his new treasures. The only downside to this is, thanks to the size of the Stix, if you are standing nearby, you should wear kneepads because he has no concept that he is suddenly a wide load. 


After he’s taken his new Stix, one by one from the box, around the house to show everybody, and finally over to the living room (the most wide open space and thus the best for playing), I get a happy dog tackle hug. Without fail, he hugs and cuddled until I relent, and we are sitting on the floor while he chews, shows off, and inspect the new toys. Sometimes he will hand his Stix off to me or anyone else who’s joined us on the floor so we can play too. But pretty soon he’ll need it back for chewing purposes.
The rest of the work day I get more than my share of the steps in because anytime I sit down to work at my desk for more than 20 minutes, Joe comes in and begs for more play time, and who am I to say no. He loves his toys so much.
Scooby liked toys a little when he was younger, but he has always been more of a zoomies kinda dog, enjoying playing tag with us and other dogs over playing with toys, I think because his big brother, my childhood pupper Winchester, was the king of human vs dog tag matches.
Watson (and Sherlock, sweet little guy) were never as into toys, I think in large part because toys generally aren’t made for their size and if they are we would have to monitor so Joe didn’t eat them. Sherlock did enjoy the occasional rope toy, but his favorite thing was crawling up into the toy box and falling asleep. I have some cute video on my old SD of him quietly puzzling through how to crawl up into the bucket and promptly laying down (before looking up, seeing his mom filming, and diving for my lap). I’ll have to see if I can easily get to that SD.

Editing Amanda here: could not get into the box with the SD, it’s in the rafters of the shed and needs more hands than I have)


Weve had some crazy repairs to make on the flatbed, and we realized that, at some point in the future, were gonna have to tear apart that engine in the name of actual preventative maintenance.
Looks like whoever owned it before us had a penchant for breaking the heads off bolts and then completely ignoring the problem so that weather and leaks and such could get in there and make triply sure those bolts would never move again. It’s an effective technique that means that teardown for cleaning is a pretty lofty goal at the moment.

I really hope this video upload things works….. please, please, please, please, please!


We finally were able to find a small, reasonably priced generator for the farm. It’s not a whole home backup, which is still on my “wants” list for the property eventually, but it’s a lovely little portable generator that will pull double duties on farm chores as well as whenever we do have a power outage and need a little emergency power to run the pump or fridge temporarily.
Dad was quite excited because it means he now how power anywhere on the farm he needs it, which has been an ongoing issue for a while. The way our farm is laid out, all the outbuildings are congregated on one side, which is perfect about 90% of the time, but not great when you realize two thirds of the farm doesn’t have outlets so things like electric chainsaws and weedwhackers and things become a problem. Since we have lots of fence lines that collect scrub trees and tumbleweeds like they are Pokémon, a generator to run those things and keep the fire risk down is a must. Clean fence lines can function as a small-scale fire break.
That’s about it for now, lots of new “toys” on the farm this week.
Until we chat again my friends 

The Event of the Season

Trigger warnings: vet stuff, needles, vaccinations, minor injuries, general farm medical dramas

Hello friends!

 It was farm call day last week, where all the critters on the farm that can get vaccinated, do. 

This one was definitely a little rougher than the others, not going to lie. But it all worked out in the end. Allow me to explain.

So, Ro, Watson, Joe, and Scoobs are pretty much seasoned pros about the vet. Scooby admittedly gets pretty nervous when we go into the actual vet office, and he does try to hide, but when it’s all said and done he stands quietly for his checkup and shots, he just needs a little more reassurance. Totally understandable. And, since I started scheduling farm calls, it’s been much more pleasant for him, since he has no idea it’s checkup time until it’s already in progress. No time to get worried.

Nellie, on the other hand, has a sixth sense about vet call days. We can do everything like normal, heck, there have been times I’ve forgotten the vet is coming out, but she knows. She knows. She will decide the level of crazy she wants to bring when they arrive, but make no mistake, she’s stewing on it beforehand.

The last few times she’s been fine, this time unfortunately she surprised us with how quickly she hit meltdown mode. She was trying really hard, ate some cookies from the vet’s hand and the lovely vet tech’s as well. But she was getting more and more nervous. After that fact I learned that the stray dog that had caused quite the ruckus earlier in the day had come back and my dad was attempting to prevent him from coming back into the corral, I’m assuming that was a large part of why she melted down so quickly, because while she likes dogs, she doesn’t like scary yappy jumpy dogs. And Ro doesn’t like dogs at all so the vibes were off.

(For what it’s worth, we tried to catch this dog forever, and when I called my neighbor she was pretty sure he lived down the road, so we are fairly certain he made it home and was just out on a walkabout)

Anyways, after she ran me over and kicked the vet, we opted to just let her live her life, which I believe was the right choice safety wise, but then after she calmed down she was so in my pocket, like she knew that wasn’t the best behavior and was trying to be especially cute. So, she definitely did not have a great time. It’s so hard because once Nellie has decided there’s an issue, that’s that, she can and will hold on to being suspicious about it for days. Unfortunately the vet and I will need a little recovery time as she grazed him in the shin and strained my shoulder (we’re fine now though, mostly just bruised egos).

While we vaccinated the dogs, we were discussing what to do with Nellie, as I love her too much to let her go unvaccinated, and we ended up with a two part plan that eventually leads to our happy ending. First, we discussed how to get her comfy with the vet, and we decided it probably made the most sense to either get her more comfortable with the needle or more relaxed around the vet so she isn’t thinking about the needle.

So, we decided that first I would try giving her the shot myself a day or two later, and if that went poorly we could give very light sedation so she was just a little bit safer and we could react just a little faster than she could. 

As you can imagine there was one idea I liked significantly more than the other, although neither sounded like the makings of a fun time. 

I won’t keep you in suspense, Nellie was such a good girl that two days after the vet call I was able to give her her vaccinations myself. At first the plan was to hide the needle and sneak attack, but she was on to me immediately. Honestly I should know better by now. So, I showed her the needle and spent about an hour holding it up to her neck, pinching, and feeding a cookie as reward. I kept waiting for the meltdown, but she was all here for the game. After she had thoroughly convinced me this wouldn’t be a big deal,  I spent an additional 20 minutes psyching myself up because while needles don’t bother me, poking those I love does. 

But we did it! She stood so still and nicely that I honestly didn’t know what to do, she was such a good pony. My technique wasn’t great, so unfortunately there was a little swelling and the equivalent to a little equine bruise from a shaky needle, but a couple video calls with the vet and he wasn’t concerned. She was even friends with me after the fact, which was totally new because usually she needs a little alone time to reevaluate what happened. 

As of today, now a few days later, both girls had the teeniest of injection reactions in the form of sore muscles and lethargy, combine that with a string of poor weather, and they have had many days off. Nellie was super touchy about her neck (understandable) but she’s coming around now. Like I said, she just needs a little extra time to process things occasionally. 

So all in all we came out fine. A little more eventful than last year, but the girls are healthy and vaccinated, the vets brushed shin was remedied with some donuts delivered to the clinic, and I can lift my arm above my shoulder again. Plus Nellie Belly and I have a whole new level of confidence since we handled vaccinations all by ourselves. Nellie requests I work on my shot-giving form though, so suggestions on how to do that are appreciated.

This has been a bit of a longer tale of farm shenanigans, so I better wrap this up here.

Until we chat again, my friends!

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!