Sunday, December 24, 2017

Reveillon de Noel

We French Canadians get a 24 hour head start on you English, when it comes to Christmas.  Don't mess with me on December 24, it's Reveillon in Quebec.
Due to Dax's phobic reaction to the alarm going off at 5 AM, he gets me up by 4:30 in the mornings now. Once, he even ran back into the bedroom and hit the snooze button.  
Seeing as structured runs are really working for him, we've replaced Boonies free for alls with military runs with drill sergeant Mom morning and night.

As soon as I finish setting up the new GoPro my mom and stepdad sent me for Christmas, I will indulge you.  
This is the result of our dawn runs:
No destroyed radio, no getting locked out of the truck... I can work and he's a sleeping cherub, he doesn't have to spend all day crated anymore!

Dax on his docking station.

I can be working anywhere on the property, Peter and Garrett sit close by patiently waiting, in a truck, utility vehicle, at a back door, in the barn aisle, at the edge of a field... my guardian angels. 
The Other One will need years to earn those wings. 

"What Christmas package?"
Yet, on this Christmas Eve, Dax is earnestly trying to be good.

Ever helpful in the barn.
As I had to drop a vehicle off at the other end of the property today, he and I ran back to the barn. 

And we snuck in a short run before dusk too.  Before our official Reveillon evening could begin, Dax had checked out.

Considering the heart pounding 30 minutes the horses gave me before clocking out today, I should be comatose beside him.  
My 2000 lb Angus must've applied a butt cheek to the gate of his and Axel's feeding pen tonight, because I found a broken snap and no horses in the pen.

I did see a big black horse running away in the woods with a little, geriatric, partially blind in one eye side kick on his heels.
This is where the old utility vehicle that normally hates me gives me the ultimate Christmas gift.  Old Green turns into the General Lee.

I try 4 times to head the horses off. Getting airborne once at this point:

Poop my britches a second time trying to keep them from running up the drive and out the power line clear cut.

I finally divert them at the main gates, which thankfully are locked.  What a prison break!  
Can I ever get to my tourtieres tonight??? Meat pies for you Hhh-English (proper French pronunciation). Quebeckers love to mess with English H's.  We put 'em where they don't belong (Hhh-insurance) and remove them where you want them ( Igh school).  Cultural sabotage.
I bought a super lean pork tenderloin and ground it up this week.

Made my tourtiere base with it...

Resulting in two pies for me and 3 for the dogs.

One pie was destined for the freezer and never made it.  Tourtiere is  my absolute favorite food.  I've been eating it, without fail, morning, noon and night for over two days.  Leaving me half a pie for my Reveillon.  A pittance, but Miss Piggy will manage.

And if I'm still dying of hunger, I have Oklahoma horse cookies. 
So, tonight, I unwrap some presents I left under my Christmas tree (don't squint, it's a small tree shaped candle, but it's MY tree) while polishing off the remaining half tourtiere.

For almost a decade, it's been my unwavering tradition to gather with Cole and the other pups, lay on a blanket on the ground and watch the Grinch Who Stole Christmas... and wait for the crying to start at my favorite part:

So, if you can't be with those you love this year, love the one's you're with.  
We won't be watching The Grinch tonight.  Three dogs in my bed are snoring away in tourtiere bliss and I'm grabbing a new book, heading their way and starting a fresh Christmas tradition. 
May your Christmas be bright, from the tiny outpost in Dixie, be well.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Judgement Day

There comes a point in time when enough is enough.  I'm talking about Dax of course.
Every day with Cole was filled with gratitude to have him in my life.
Every day I kiss Peter and tell him I love him.  Every night now, I spoon with Garrett and tell him he's the best boy in the world. 

Then, there's Dax. Maybe the problem is that I don't tell him "I love you", maybe the problem is that too often I tell him "I'm gonna f-ing kill you".  He'd make Mother Teresa cuss.
Tuesday and Wednesday were my days off this week. Tuesday, the cattle were loaded up and hauled to vet school for foot trims.

My F-350 came close to not being able to make the haul because she was back in the shop getting a new gear shifter this week...guess who chewed the original one?  $150 later, we're back on the road in the nick of time.
Our regular 3 month visits to the vet school with Tommy are always stressful.  He's too large to fit any of their equipment and his weight exceeds the capacity of their tilt table.  Without proper hoof trims, he'd been crippled and euthanized years ago.
      (Daphne fits, Tommy oozes over all the edges)
Risk that have to be taken and Tuesday, our numbers were up:  the table failed.  Tommy ended up as a crumpled mess on the concrete floor, legs unnaturally folded under him, head still pinned to the table.  It took just seconds for them to cut his head free, but longer for him to raise himself. He's OK.  Meanwhile, the Demon Spawn decided Tuesday was the day to act like a 35 IQ retard.  I'm accustomed to people praising us for how well behaved my dogs are.  You cannot imagine the humiliation when the accounts manager came around the counter to hold him so I could sign her forms.
No "I love  you's" that day.
Wednesday wasn't looking promising either. 
I'm rushing to get Dax to the Boonies for his 3 mile run before blasting off to Auburn for an 8 AM dentist appointment. We never make it to the Boonies because a fluke water line busted under the house.  I'm in my PJ's crawling around under there, cutting away the insulation to get to the pipe.  No shower either, it's bath by bottled spring water.  The next issue is to find my keys that the child of Beelzebub has removed from the key hooks.  Two sets of keys, gone.  More than 2 acres to scour.  I must've been a seriously bad hombre in a former life and this is my curse.
Later,I get home from Auburn with plumbing parts and a new radio for my truck...

...remember what he did to the former $300 one?
While Flynn is under my house repairing the pipe, I'm unloading my car.  He scurries out because I'm pitching a fit in the front yard when I discover Dax had stolen the new radio, still in its box, and was chewing on it.

At his age, Cole was either at work with me or at home free with a doggie door.  If this one ever asks why he's crated while I work, I can write him an essay.  
And today was the day I was going to make good on my promise to send him to the afterlife.  I left Peter and Garrett at home, strapped on my running shoes, Dax's harness and I took him to the woods.  I wasn't sure if two of us were coming back or not.  But we were going to run until I'd run the devil out of him.  In retrospect, I hadn't run much at all in probably a year since my kidney was croaking because of my bulging female organ taking up half the real estate in my gut. Yet, we easily ran over 7 miles.  Irony is that I was almost the one left on the trails for the buzzards.

No Photoshop... I am green around the gills.
Yet, we have our Christmas miracle:  halfway through the run, he starts looking back at me, anticipating my cues.  We actually bond.

Eleventh hour, but nevertheless.

The breakthrough we were needing.

I knew there was a true Smith in there somewhere.

Waiting for me when we got home was a GoPro from Canada!
So, if the devil we lost on the trails should find his way back into Dax, I can document it and retire from the youtube earnings.  Always seek even the thinnest of silver linings.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Smith Deer Processing

A couple Sundays ago, on the eve of my day off,I'm waiting on a home delivery.

Not FedEx, but better!

Organic, free range on the hoof food.  So fresh a kill that it needs to be bled out and gutted.
Garrett, who single handedly provided us with a deer last year, sees the doe and wants to reenact it for me.

Got the butchering process going.  

He's so helpful. 
With freezing temperatures overnight, I can leave the carcass hanging from the gambrel set up on my truck (Smith Portable Abattoir) until the morrow when I could dedicate an entire day to processing.

Shanks for a recipe I'd been wanting to try and neck bones for an osso buco recipe.

Instead of packaging large cuts that will get cast aside in the bottom of the freezer, I'm preparing everything for individual recipes.  Time devoted now will save buckets of time later.

Marinating the heart.

Weighing out my recipe portions.

Processing the 5 gallons of venison stock made with all the scrap cuts.

I love my kitchen, it can go from pastry chic to downright industrial in a snap. And it means I get to pull out all my toys: meat grinder, dehydrator for the jerky...

The final leg roast done by 10PM.  Now that's a well spent day.

Venison and vegetable soup made the next day.

Super scrumptious venison chili made yesterday.

It's the gift that keeps on giving.  Nope, I'll never go hungry now that I have friends in high places (deer stands).

Sunday, December 17, 2017


If I say 80 Hail Marys will Cole forgive me for the travesty brought upon our Smith clan called Dax? 
December 15th--- 5 months since Cole and I said goodbye.  I let the montage of all my memories of him run free in my head all day, no matter how sad.

There's no replacing Cole, nor would I want to.  Main goal now is to keep Dax alive until his sanity prevails.  Herculean task...
In spite of two full blast runs per day, Dax finds the energy to attempt suicide daily.  My hope is to drive to Canada this winter.  I don't know if I can get him to fly straight and act right before then.
One thing for sure, he will not be riding shotgun.  The ride to the Boonies is short, this is his behavior the entire time.

 Hence why he's been quarantined to steerage class in the back. 
I hate to curb anyone's enthusiasm, but this is getting ridiculous.
Sunday morning he electrocuted himself.  

Let's rewind to Friday night first.  The breaker to my furnace had been acting up--perfect timing, it hit 24'F here Saturday morning.  Rather than having a buzzing, overloaded breaker overheat and catch fire, I decided to rough it. I have a onesie pyjama---bring it on.

Two days until the electrician can be here, I'm tough. So, 53'F is noticeably colder than my usual 65'F.
Fast forward to Sunday morning.  My back door is open because it's as cold inside as outside!  I'm in the kitchen when the lights go out simultaneously as a yelp from the carport.  I can plainly see that dumb@%$ has chewed through the block heater cord of my truck, throwing the breaker.  Does he slink away whining?  No, he doubles back and pulls the cord all the way out of the truck.  So, I'm standing at the back door watching this... next to the breaker box... is it terrible that I thought about throwing the breaker back on?  
While I work, he's chilling in his crate, my foul mood dissipates when a friend brings me a Yakima cargo box that I'd bought on Craigslist.  New, they retail over $500 plus over $100 in shipping.  This little beauty was $150! 

So what if it requires modifying my roof rack a little bit.  No worries, I am a professional.

I'll test it a few hundred miles around town before loading it for the Canadian Adventure... with my boys and the Dax Demon.  No matter what, we are going as a family unit. Dammit! 

Sunday night, I'm trying to wrap up this week's work schedule, it's past 6, I want to go home.  The heathen that was playing in the barn's aisle runs back into the office and pukes at me feet. If he wasn't eating everything unmentionable, he'd probably be bigger than his current 47 pounds. I'm wasting my money on premium organic dog food, he loses his lunch at least every other day.  Apparently bugs, dirt, pebbles, twigs and plastics knobs are more savory.
I borrow a space heater and park it in front of him for the evening.

Must be tiring being a moron.
When he refuses supper, I sit beside him and spoon feed him.  Who's the moron now?

If I pop air vents in the cargo box, imagine how peaceful my drive to Canada may be...