Maybe you remember from years past that I don’t generally make New Years resolutions, thus it is only by coincidence that these two “commitments” coincide with the beginning of the year.
A Long Term Commitment
The first one that I’ll tell you about is something that people inquired about after we lost Scout in November. At that time I didn’t have an answer when people asked “will you get another dog?”
After several weeks of trying to give Trooper extra love and attention to bring him out of his apparent depression we decided to see if getting another dog would help.
On Monday, December 30 we visited Lapeer County Animal Shelter where this little guy begged and pleaded and warmed his way into our hearts. We brought him home and named him Ranger. We have since been in puppy training mode. He is smart and learned his name quickly. He bonded quickly with me and my husband and is eager to please us. It is just like having a toddler again since he requires constant attention. He and Trooper have not bonded yet but they are working on establishing their relationship and Trooper has become less mopey and more engaged.
There is so much to say about Ranger that I am sure I will be writing more about him in the future. I am going to ask you to bear with me while we are in training mode. As I mentioned he requires constant attention therefore even while I am writing my mind is on what Ranger is doing. If the words “Ranger Down!” or “Ranger Come!” appear randomly in the middle of my post it is simply because that is where my attention was, and even though my husband always proofreads my posts before I publish them hearing or saying these words have become so normal that I am afraid he may overlook them. LOL!
Commitment To My Blog and Readers
This is something that I was mulling over long before we ever dreamed we would be having a “Ranger” in our life and despite the additional time and efforts that I will be putting into puppy training I have decided to follow through with this challenge. This challenge/commitment is to celebrate my 55th birthday. Since my birthday falls on January 5th, just as the year is beginning it is a great time to start. I am going to call this series “55 Things”. It will be in addition to my regular journal type blog posts. I will try to post at least once per week but by the end of the year I will have shared 55 things – short posts that may include quotes I like, music I like, lessons I’ve learned or other things that might come to mind.
We wish you all the best in 2020 and hope you will enjoy for these posts throughout the year.
Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together… Author Unknown
Friday morning, November 22, 2019 our beloved Scout went to wait for us at the rainbow bridge.
I am speaking for both my husband and myself when I say there are now Scout-shaped holes in are hearts. It is through the grieving process, which has only just begun, that I have realized that we would not be suffering this pain had it not been for the joy that Scout brought to our lives. So much joy that no amount of money could have purchased. Thus the precious memories we have will mitigate the pain.
I could fill a very large book with stories of our life with Scout over the past 12 1/2 years, but I have decided to share just one. The first one.
The Beginning Of A Love Story
Though we loved dogs we hadn’t had one in our home for several years. We just weren’t home enough to give a dog the kind of attention they deserved, but 2007 was a year of many changes for us. In February my husband and I got married. In March I lost the hearing in my left ear. In April we decided that my husband’s job could more than support our family and I left work to be a stay-at-home mom and full-time home manager.
It wasn’t long after I left my job that I began to think about getting a dog. I could now see many pros to having a dog. During the week days the kids were at school and I spent much time alone. It would be nice to have a companion. My hearing loss was also a concern. Depending on where I was in the house when someone came to the door I may not hear them. A dog could alert me of things like this. At the time my husband worked a job that took him away from home for weeks at a time. A dog could offer some security while he was away.
We began having discussions about what type of dog would be best. While puppies are fun and adorable there is also a lot a lot of work involved in training a puppy. Perhaps an mature dog would be better if we could find a good match. We were pretty open as far as breeds and didn’t have a problem with a mixed breed dog. I did want a larger size dog – one with a big bark.
It was June 16, 2007 when my husband, our three daughters, and I piled in the van to search for our new family member. I always remember the date as it was our daughter Hanna’s birthday. Our first stop was what I thought was an animal rescue. From their website I was under the impression that they had several puppies and dogs up for adoption. When we arrived what we found was a doggy day care. When we asked about their adoptable dogs they only had one puppy who seemed to be a wild little thing. We all agreed it was not the dog for us. We then went over to the Macomb County Animal Shelter. I think they had two adoptable dogs that day, but again they did not seem to be a good fit.
Needless to say we were disappointed and weren’t really sure where to look next. My husband suggested the Saint Clair County Animal Shelter. I thought it was worth a try but it would probably take us an hour to get there. Since it was a time before everyone had a computer phone (I still don’t have one) I called my mom and asked her find out what time they closed that day. I don’t remember what time she said, but we had enough time to get there before they did.
I’ll never forget my husband’s words as he drove on I-94 heading for Port Huron “Lord, please help us find the perfect dog,” he prayed. I suspect my reply was “Amen” because it is my usual response when he prays aloud.
When we walked into the Saint Clair County Animal Shelter there was a reception desk to the right and to the left there was a room with a large window. On the other side of the window were the kennels where the adoptable dogs were housed. I could see and hear that there were several dogs up for adoption. While I was taking in the whole scene at once, including workers and other people who seemed to be there looking for pets, my husbands attention was immediately drawn to a dog. He said, despite being in a kennel on the other side of the window, this dog looked directly at him and barked as if speaking to him. He knew then that we had found our dog.
We stood by the window looking at the dogs for a few minutes before a worker told us we could go into the area where the kennels were. As we walked though the door towards the kennels we passed though a room where another family was being introduced to a dog. It was the dog who had caught my husbands attention. While we walked down the hall looking at the 4 or 5 other dogs that were awaiting adoption, that dog was returned to his kennel. We quickly approached a worker and asked to meet that dog. When the worker brought him in and let him off the leash he immediately rolled over on his back and wanted his belly rubbed. As the girls crouched around him rubbing his belly, and he wagged his tail in joy, I knew that we had found our “perfect dog”.
After filling out paperwork and paying the adoption fee we were told that we would have two weeks in which we could return him if thing didn’t work out. After that his license would be mailed to us.
When we left the building to get into the van I don’t know that I had ever seen a more enthusiastic dog. He jumped into the van and sat on the seat in-between the girls where he got lots of attention.
I think it was about five days later when my husband called the animal shelter and told them that we would not be returning Scout. They could sent out his license anytime. God had answered our prayer.
WHOO HOO!!! I am so happy to have the garlic out of the ground and hanging in the barn. Especially since we got it done last week before the extreme heat arrived. This year’s harvest was much easier than the past several years because we planted significantly less garlic last fall. It was a big chore none the less.
Since my husband is working a landscaping job right now my plan was to work on harvesting the garlic in the cooler morning hours then work on bundling and hanging it later in the day because I wouldn’t have to be in the hot sun to do that part. I knew he would help as time allowed.
The harvest went even smoother than I planned. I started digging the garlic Tuesday morning and had the first 1 1/2 rows dug by about 11:00 a.m. I had planned on working until noon but it started to rain. Since I didn’t know how long the rain would last I decided to get the garlic that was out of the ground to a dry spot and then take a break. I put the garlic on a tarp under the barn overhang, where it would stay dry until I came back to put it in bundles. That evening my husband moved it inside the barn.
That early rain shower didn’t last long or amount to much, but that evening and over night we had some significant rain fall, enough rain that my husband was not needed at his job on Wednesday. By Wednesday morning all that rain had moved out of the area so we were able to get back into the field and finish the harvest.
We took the Scout and Trooper and a cooler full of cold water and drove to the garlic field. As my husband got out of the van he said something that got my attention. When I asked what he had said he replied, “It’s the biggest bull frog I’ve ever seen.” I went to take a look and had to agree.
Thankfully this guy did not get run over as we drove into the field. It appeared as if this was not his first close call. He had abrasions on both sides of his body that looked as if something had tried to make a meal out of him – a large fish perhaps. To keep him safe (or at least from getting run over) my husband carried him to the pond where he quickly swam away.
My husband and I worked together digging garlic and found that the rain that fell the night before had worked in our favor as many of the bulbs could just be pulled out of the ground. “The less I have to put my foot on a shovel, the better,” my husband said.
When my husband took a wagon load of garlic to the barn he returned telling me that a neighbor had come to visit. This particular neighbor loves company and has really taken to my husband. His name is Peanut.
A while later when I went to the barn I was greeted by Peanut, and as I was returning to the garlic field he decided to follow me. This was a concern because Scout and Trooper, who were hanging out in the van, are not cat lovers. Nowadays Scout is not much of a threat because his vision is gone, his hearing is poor and his body is weak. His nose still works perfectly though. Trooper on the other hand is still a very keen watch dog who will chase off anyone or anything he doesn’t think belongs on our farm. Normally when Trooper gives chase the invaders run off and Trooper is satisfied that he has done his job. Peanut was not going to run off.
My husband attempted to introduce Trooper to Peanut and Trooper was very curious about this intruder. As he attempted sniffing Peanut from head to tail Peanut got offended. He hissed and scratched Trooper on the nose. My husband picked up Peanut and took him back to the barn area while I got Trooper in the van then headed back to the garlic field. This only lasted a few minutes before Peanut was back by the van. Scout who couldn’t see the cat got a good whiff of him then became anxious and wanted to go looking for him. Trooper got out of the van so my husband grabbed Peanut, jumped in the van and took him home. He also went by our house and got a wet soapy wash cloth and some ointment for Trooper’s scratch. While he was gone Trooper went around sniffing all of the areas that the cat had been. Looking but not finding him. He then went for a swim in the pond and settled down a bit. Just before my husband returned I walked into the barn only to see Peanut laying in front of the tractor. When my husband returned I suggested he take Scout and Trooper back to our house so we could get our work done. He agreed.
Within an hour of having that mess settled we had the rest of the garlic harvested and by the end of the day they were all hanging in the barn. The above photo shows the approximately 1000 bulbs we harvested on Wednesday with the tools we used.
I have to admit this year’s crop is disappointing. Between bitter cold temperatures over the winter and an extremely wet spring we lost approximately 25% of what was planted. Of the bulbs we did harvest the majority of them are small. We have very few bulbs that will be large enough to use for seed garlic for next years crop.
What does this means for our future in growing garlic – I am not sure. We will just keep moving forward the best we can. Perhaps garlic farming is not in our future.
Our weather has not been warm enough for me to even think about going for a swim yet. In fact it will take a few consecutive days with temperatures in the 80’s Fahrenheit to warm the water to my liking.
Trooper on the other hand found the water most refreshing. Every year he is the first one in.
He also enjoyed some time laying in the shade.
I did get some yard work done this week while soaking up some vitamin D (sunshine) and starting on my tan. 🙂
For the second year in a row we decided to cut our own Christmas tree. Last year, and again this year, we cut spruce trees from the farm. When we purchased the farm in 2011 there were many deciduous trees growing on the property but there were absolutely no evergreens. The following spring we placed an order with our local conservation district spring tree sale and amongst the things we ordered were 50 spruce trees, 25 Blue Spruce and 25 Norway Spruce. When the 12-15 inch seedlings arrived we had no idea where we were going to plant them, so we made a nursery area for them within our fenced garden area where they were well tended through the summer. It was a hot and dry summer, and the garden required much watering. It was the summer before we had the pond or the windmill so we carted many barrels of water in the back of the truck, from our house to the farm, in order to keep our garden alive. Having these seedlings in the garden area, where it was convenient to water them, proved to be a blessing and allowed them to flourish. By the fall of that year we were ready to plant them in their permanent places. We decided to line the North and East sides of the back field with some of them, as they would eventually provide privacy and wind breaks.
Over the last five years these trees have received much TLC, they have been fenced during the winters to protect them from the deer, they have been weeded and mulched, and during the droughts of summer we have driven the truck around the outskirts of the field delivering water to each of these trees in attempts to keep them alive. Not all of the trees have survived, but most have with some doing better than others.
We have continued to order Norway Spruce and Blue Spruce seedlings each spring and place them in a temporary nursery area until we decided where we want to plant them. Some of them have replaced spruce trees that we lost, we use some to replace dead Ash and Elm trees that we cut down, and we will also replace the trees that we cut for Christmas trees.
It was about 10 days before Christmas, and we had gotten our first decent snow fall, when we went out to cut our tree. My husband and I walked the path along the East and North of the property and examined each tree before we decided which one to cut.
Scout and Trooper were happy to be with us.
We selected this Norway Spruce. We didn’t measure it but I’m sure it was close to 5 feet tall. It took my husband less than a minute to saw through the trunk.
As we walked back from the field we spotted this hen who had made her way through the snow out to the field. We were really surprised to see her there because chickens do not like to walk in snow. My husband picked her up and we gave her a lift back to the coop.
We opted not to trim the longer, upper branches to achieve the “prefect” Christmas Tree shape, but left the tree in it’s natural God-given shape. The short needles and less than crowded branches made adding lights and hanging ornaments easy. And we have been enjoying the simplicity and beauty of our homegrown Christmas tree.
On Christmas Day we added one final ornament after opening the gift from Tina and Ken. We hung the new “Ciani Family” ornament next to the “God Bless the Farmer” ornament they gifted to us last year. I think I am seeing a theme here to complement our new tradition. 🙂