Thursday, July 30, 2015

Going Native

Urban Dictionary:  going native, to take on the cultural traits of the people around you.  Working on it.
After two decades of despising ATV's for the wildlife disruption, carbon belching, trail destruction-- guess what I drive every day?  

I tried to stand by my convictions and ride my bicycle with wagon ,
to the pasture and back.  Great workout pulling 50 lbs of feed. Best method to achieve heat stroke in 100' weather.  
As the ATV I've been using for months is borrowed, I'd begun shopping around.  Incredibly, new ones start at $6000.  The Kawasaki Brute Force 650 (with winch!) which I would love to have is a mere $11,000.  Look here, I only paid $14,500 for my car off the showroom floor! So, I lowered my sights, real low.  Like, I paid $400 for this:
2000 Honda Rancher 350.  Custom gold trim package.  Goggles were included.  Dear child who sold it to me even threw in a new can of Fix-a-Flat.
Are you finished laughing yet?  OK, I'll give you another minute.
The gold paint is the result of a botched theft attempt.  The young lad who had it before painted it gold, then told his friends (my neighbors) to shoot if they see someone other than him driving the gold bike.  We'll be repainting it before too long, or investing in a flak jacket!
One more little issue it has:  it only goes forward.  Reverse is broken.  Whaddya expect for $400?!?

As a fledgling Redneck, I must learn to always have one vehicle up on blocks.  Got it.
My truck hadn't been pampered since November, so I left her at my new mechanic's place for 3 weeks.  
Looking down into the operating theater from the manager's office.  Not to worry, my Ford dually is in good hands.  I thoroughly interviewed the gruff 6'5" mechanic and his wife/ office manager.  Applying to work on my baby diesel is like getting a mortgage, yes, I'm that picky.  When the mechanic said that he only likes to work on 7.3 L Fords because everything else is  #@&! crap, I was sold.
$2200.00 later, my baby's feeling brand new again.  The very same day I picked her up, I dropped off my new bike here:
New back tires and full servicing, she should feel 5 years younger.
So do I get an A+ on my Redneck report card?
Jeff Foxworthy said:  You might be a redneck if your porch collapses and kills 3 dogs.
With a new porch, there's no chance of that.  Left to right:  Chief Allglad, Ferrapatete and Junior Rocket.  Terms of endearment, it's a Canadian thing.  Hey, I may be Southern now, but I'll always be Canadian deep down inside!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Falling in Love All Over Again

Life's been a blur for the past 9 months.  
Rush, rush, rush.
Sunday evening I spent a couple of hours reconnecting with my biggest snuggle bunny:  Tommy.
He'll be 8 years old on  Aug 5th.  For his birthday, he's getting a shed for himself and Daphne.  Sweet!
To prepare for the construction, I attempted to bush hog his pasture.  5 acres shouldn't take too long -- unless you have 3000 lbs in the way.  Somebody was following or intercepting a moving tractor.  
I love my old man. He gives the best hugs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015


This is too much.  We're going on week 2 in south central Alabama with triple digit temperatures.  
Day after day of working out under the sun has made me, uhhmmm, cranky.  To add to my misery, I've been dragging around this upper respiratory gunk with a wicked sore throat for almost a week now.  Nothing beats having a fever and being out in 113'F temps. 
 Garrett has been left at the vet's clinic for a day or two of observation.  We can't get to the bottom of his constant coughing.  My grandmother would tell me to stop kissing animals that I would catch a virus.  She may have been on to something...

It's official: stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gardening in the Tropics

Bloom where you're planted -- a mantra to live by.  Sometimes I wish I'd chosen to plant myself in Maine rather than Alabama.  The heat and humidity have been terribly oppressive the past two weeks.  

114'F is 45.5'C to you Canucks.  Fun, eh?  Now, imagine being out in it all day, every day.  I'm spending a fortune on electrolyte powder to avert migraine headaches.
The trick is to seek the shade.  
An air conditioned office or outside in the sweltering heat?
Gimme the outdoors any day.
I love my "office":

How is it possible to get this dirty before 9 AM, you ask?
I'm gifted!

It's too hot during the day to let the dogs loose to run.

Garrett has become the best passenger of the three.
My new acre of garden continues to improve.  The flowers and vegetables thrive despite the cruel temperatures.
One of over 50 varieties of daylilies.
The rose collection is equally out of control.
Tuberose, the most intensely fragrant flower-- ever.  All gearing towards attracting pollinators for my vegetables.
Time to pick a peck of peppers.

I'm thankful every day that I get to wake up and go to work on the farm.  Leaving my job and my previous farm was a difficult choice to make.  One that I know was the right decision to make when I learned that a 10 foot alligator was killed at my previous place.  The farm where Cole and I would run and swim, yeah, that one.  The video tribute I made of Cole would have been his memorial video if we'd still be living there!  
Check out the newspaper article on the largest alligator taken in Lee county: b87aa7a4-29c0-11e5-95df-c356dc7f73e.html?mode=jqm

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Happy Birthday Cole!

Cole turned 8 on July 3rd!   Massive celebrating...

Early morning run, one mile for every year.
We may be gray and slow since 3 years ago:
Who cares, we're still running strong.

Ever seen such good looking legs on a 56 year old = 8 year old dog?

Even the farm dog, Pete, kept up with us.  He joined the Smith Boot Camp program 3 months ago.  He was switched to Cole's nutritional regiment and as he lost his spare tire, we upped his mileage.  He's gone from having bouts of arthritis after short jogs to being spry even after a long one...
providing water breaks are taken.
Out on the trails with my best friend on his birthday, rain or shine -- it's our tradition.

Birthday breakfast was homemade meatloaf.

Birthday boy unwrapping his presents.
Garrett got the consolation prize.

My life has been charmed ever since a German Shorthaired Pointer  puppy entered it in August of 2007.
Cole is my once-in-a-lifetime dog.  Dogs are blessings, they love us, sometimes beyond expectation, beyond what we deserve, more than we love ourselves.

Here's my video tribute to my best friend:

Stay with me for another 8, will you?

Operation Freedom Rain

Sunday 7:30 AM EST  Operation Freedom Rain initiated.

Seal Team Crazy 8 (Capt. Smith and 3 trained military dogs) leaves base.

7:40 AM  Target acquired.
Surveillance sweeps last week identified hundreds of interlopers in the horses' water trough. Tadpoles.  I brought the horses another trough until we could set up ops to relocate them. Ranger Cole inspects the transporter.

7:45 - 8:30 AM  Sieving through 1000 gallons of water.
 Granting each one refugee status.
8:35 AM  Heading to extraction point.
8:40 AM Tadpoles released into stream.  Team Crazy 8, soaked to the bone from the rain, return to home base.
Over and out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Uphill Battle

When Garrett was found, he was in bad shape.  Turns out, he was in worse shape than we thought.
In the past two months, he's put on almost 20 pounds.  He's not quite as tall as Cole, but he outweighs him now.  So, the body's looking better, but we still have so much more trouble shooting to do under the hood. What I would give to find out where this poor guy lived before and under what conditions.  Maybe I don't really want to know.  
Here's my guess:  he was someone's backyard dog, who had no shelter and had to fight other dogs for his food. 
I say backyard because of the bewilderment he had when he first rode in a car and came into the house. 
I bet he had no shelter because when we had a hole prepped for a fruit tree, he jumped in and spent time digging himself a den to lay in.  Only a dog exposed to blazing heat would know to do that.
Next, his food aggression issues are getting better, but, in his previous life, he definitely had to fight for his food.  Some country folks have different ideas concerning the responsibilities of being a pet owner.  A few months ago, it was with quiet horror that I witnessed how one family 'fed' their dogs.  No kibbles, no sirreeee, just table scraps thrown out the window and every dog for himself, chicken bones and all.  
Indeed, Garrett will eat/steal anything.
Ask the chickens.  
He intercepted half a watermelon intended for the chickens and drug it off into the woods growling.
I didn't let him do the same with the canteloupe.
We practiced "sharing".
He has to be watched in the garden.  Tomatoes are his favorite prey.
I know he's snagged one when he darts out of the garden and makes a bee line for the woods.
Seems his thieving has landed him in trouble in the past:
Someone shot Garrett with a pellet gun.  The pellet is under his skin,but the vet doesn't recommend surgical excision.
Baby G did go back to the clinic this week because that persistent cough that we hoped was a resolving case of kennel cough won't go away.  His X-rays showed donuts and cloudiness in his lungs.  Yes, donuts, not the kind you dunk in coffee, but the kind that tell you that your dog has pneumonia.  
And did I mention he's taking his sweet time getting over a dermatitis issue?
Or that he's still receiving treatment for intestinal parasites?  He's gone from being very anemic to having some color in his gums now.  My last visit to the cardiologist revealed that I was anemic too.  So, Baby G and I are sharing my bottle of liquid iron.  What's good for the goose is good for the gander!
Leaving the vet, we stopped for ice cream... topped with pills.
A little sugar helps the medicine go down.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  Or: what's shaking in Russell county in the middle of the night.
An epic battle, that's what.
In one corner, weighing in at an undisclosed tonnage, is the Canadian gardener.
In the other corner (and in every place in between) are the crabgrasses and sedges.

Malevolent weeds were winning.  I cramped their style.
My #1 fan posing beside part of the 20' long windrow of weeds pulled from the garden.  Perhaps hand weeding a full acre isn't as feasible as initially assumed.  Too bad I'm too stubborn to quit.
There are small victories to be claimed here and there.
One of my new apple trees has put forth a valiant effort:
Ok, so it's crab apple size, but it's going to be relished as my first organic apple from the farm.
One of the peach saplings is out performing all others.  8 baby peaches:
I finished concreting in all the 4x4's for the 60' of muscadine trellis and 80' of blackberry trellis.  Now grow, dang it.
The lotus plants, in spite of being dumped out on their heads and handled very roughly, have made a full recovery.
Guess who has declared the lotus ponds as their home?  Frogs!  Be still my beating heart-- tadpoles everywhere!
Last night, we (me 'n' Cole) managed to dig up all my potatoes before the rain set in.
Not a bumper crop, but enough to see us through the year.  As you may know I have this fixation about making sure I never run out of food.
Or as Scarlet O'Hara from Gone With the Wind put it: