Mo Bloggin'

A little o' this, a little o' that

Archive for the tag “rainy day”

Giving thanks to doG

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An early snow (really early!) on November 5 turned everything into a winter wonderland even before the leaves changed color.  I love snow!

We’re winding up the Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S., and I’m not looking forward to going back to the real world of commuting and working tomorrow, but alas, a winning lottery ticket is not yet mine. I took the entire week off (so have been off work for 9 days now – heaven) and the dogs have loved it as much as I have, sleeping in with me on the couple of days I did that, and enjoying the days hanging out with me (even when we’re stuck inside because of the torrential downpours), instead of waiting all day long for me to come home from work. I am lucky to have them. And, as I mentioned in my last post, we are up one now, with my “Failed Foster” status. It’s been many years since I fostered a dog, and I didn’t intend that this one would fail, but this is a clear reason why the word “fail” should not be loaded with such negativity (failing at things is often a sign of progress, but I digress.

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He is obsessed with shadows and reflections.

Formerly known as Raider, this dog is filling a hole I didn’t know existed. As I stood on the porch one rainy evening last week, toweling off FOUR dogs, and wiping 16 paws clean before we went in the house, I had such a deep feeling of…I’m not even sure what the word is…completion is the closest to it, but still not perfect. Somehow the circle is now closed.  As the four of them stood around me, waiting their turn, standing back or pushing at the closed door to get inside, the gap I didn’t know was there was filled, the puzzle piece found and placed in the vacant spot. It was a nearly audible click as I stood there, surrounded by 300 pounds of dogs, with these four hearts that surround mine and give meaning to my days.

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Raider came to me when I offered to foster him. My friend had placed him with “W” two years ago, from a rescue situation. Raider was shipped here from Chicago in 2015, having ended up homeless when his owner had passed away and the family didn’t want him. He was 4 years old when he came to the Northwest to live with W, a loving home with two adults and a companion dog who all adored him. Then W got sick.  W’s wife had had a bad fall and broken her leg badly, so was using a walker. When W got sick, then sicker, she knew that Raider had to be placed, as they were not able to continue caring for him. W did not want to consider the idea, and became very upset. My friend knew Raider would need a new home, but since the doctors said W “had a few more months,” we just waited. Unfortunately it was only a couple weeks when Mrs. W called. Sadly, W had passed away, and for the second time in his life, Raider was in need of a home due to a death in the family.

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I took him in, wondering why I said I would do this (softie for Rottweilers, and wanted to help my friend out) and hoping against hope that it would work until we could find him a home. With my three dogs, three cats, and flock of sheep, there was a lot to integrate. My friend brought a giant crate for him (Impact brand – I am now coveting more of these crates, as this one is only a borrow), a giant orthopedic bed (which my other three dogs say is really nice) and a stand-up feeding station, plus Raider. It turns out I had little to worry about.

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He’s not the cuddle bug that Daisy is (yet?), but who could resist this? 117 pounds of squishy-faced cuteness.

This dog…this dog is nearly perfect to me.  He reminds me of all that have gone before him (and oh, how I am mush for a boy Rottweiler – putty in their paws, really, but they never seem to take advantage of it to run the show, unlike a Rottweiler bitch, who will come in with her paws on her hips, virtual arms akimbo, and tell you how it’s going to be (in the nicest way possible, of course)). The boys just melt me. I tried to remain strong – the first week as my three adjusted, and then the second week, as Raider showed us more of himself. There were a few scuffles – once when I fed raw meaty bones on Raider’s second or third day here (facepalm to my own stupidity there!) and tensions were high, Farley took on Raider in the kitchen. WTF, Far – this dog is twice your size! Raider didn’t engage other than to protect himself, when he could easily have taken Farley down with one paw tied behind his back. Then another time Farley was playing with a stuffie – it took Far a week before he would finally offer me a toy (normally a multiple daily occurrence) with Raider here – and Raider thought “Weeee! I love stuffies too, let’s play tug!” Farley tore into him, and I had an instant dogfight at my feet. Again, Raider only protected himself, and the YIPE! I heard in the 5-second scuffle was from him.  As was the tuft of hair on the floor afterwards. He learned that Farley doesn’t play with other dogs, only me, and when he growls that goofy warble of a Setter growl (heart!), he isn’t kidding. Got it. But beyond Daisy pushing and pushing and pushing on Raider, always jealous of any attention I give him and always eager to show him who’s boss (when we ALL already know bitches get the job done), he integrated beyond my wildest expectations.

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Don’t let this soft face and swishing tail, or the spots, fool you – this guy is a tiger (I often call him my tiger, and he’s taken it to heart).

So it was easy to write this bio to find him a home. The rescue person from Chicago, involved in his 2015 placement, said she had a good home there for him and we could just ship him back. I put my foot down at this. While I appreciated her help/offer, I was already fierce in my protectiveness. When the Perfect Home showed up a few days later, it was easy to sing his praises to them. But as I pulled away from our “get acquainted” meeting, I realized that even if they were a better home than I was (only one other dog, and two of them, so Raider would get more one-on-one attention than he gets from me), I didn’t know if I could give him up. I had tried so hard to keep logic and emotion separated, sure that the emotion I felt was just feeling sorry for his sad story of losing two homes due to his owners dying. “But,” said Emotion, “if he is so damn perfect why aren’t you keeping him? He’s squishy-faced-cute {swoon!} on top of it.” Then Logic replied, “Um, try the houseful of dogs you already have, Mo? Bandwidth? Cost? Room? Seriously? WTH?”  When the Perfect Home called me a couple of days later to reluctantly pass on him (timing/logistics), I realized I could pull the ad. I was walking two feet off the ground after I hung up the phone. He was placed. He is mine.

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His first vet visit (for a broken toenail), about a month after I got him.  He’s woozy from sedation here, but the toe healed up beautifully.

I’ve rechristened him Braider, after going through a number of iterations rhyming with Raider. Normally I have no problem changing a rescue dog’s name–and even recommend it—but he responded so beautifully to it, and it was patently obvious he had been loved by both of his previous owners.  But I couldn’t live with such a “guy name” as Raider. As a writer, I know that words have power, and naming dogs these sorts of “aggressive” names doesn’t sit well with me. I tried Tater, Vader, Bader, Brader, and all sorts of variations before settling on Braider, which works for the meaning – he came in and braided us all together, bringing his gentleness and good manners and his beautiful Rottweiler heart.  I am his.

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Braider Finn.  Heart him.

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Rain and reflections

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Watching the rain fall.

It’s been raining all day today and it’s wonderful. I can’t even believe I am saying that, but it’s funny how weather excesses or extremes, especially out of season excesses, can make you long for the opposite, and even make you anxious.

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Wet bee yard; the package bees (left hive) are still out flying – I love how gnarly they are!

For us here in the PNW, rain in November is relentless and pummels the house and the property. It’s often a little frightening at times for this Chicken Little, as the water sluices down the hillside, the ground turns to muck, and the river in the valley nearby overflows its banks (making the commute home from work worrisome).  As I listened to the music of the rain on the roof this morning I was reflecting at how in November, December, or January, I actually get a little scared when it rains this hard and steadily for hours. It’s not sweet music then, but an ominous wintertime soundtrack.  Today it was calming and comforting.

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Gorgeous blue sky on the last mile of my evening commute home.

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know that I adore the sun and blue sky.  I realize more and more that I want to see more sky, more openness.  I love the trees, but it gets so claustrophobic sometimes, and especially at this time of year (I’ve spoken of this before), when the jungle-like growth begins to feel like it’s closing in.  And all winter long the constant rain and dark, cloudy skies, combined with the short daylight hours, feels oppressive and beyond dismal, day after day. The weather almost becomes the enemy, something to be fought and/or feared.

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Soggy with rain, the pool refilling with rainwater after last week’s heat.

Now we’ve had a spring unlike any I can remember, with drought-like conditions and record-breaking heat (90+ degrees in April – where the hell am I, anyway?).  This after a previous year of record-breaking weather patterns (2015’s dry spring and summer and record-breaking summer temps, followed by the wettest winter on record) and again I get anxious.  What does this mean for me, my animals, my bees, my planet? So you can see why the rain and cool temps—typical weather for a northwest May (and something to grumble about in a normal year)—was soothing today.

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Rain all day long, yet I’m totally okay with it.

The rain slowed later in the day and I let the sheep out to graze.  I assured them the rain was a good thing for the grass and browse they love, but still they wanted out. Noisy C-Kerry led the chorus of:  “We don’t care if we get wet, we’re sheep!  Just let us out!” The trees and under story are heavy with the rain, and branches are low to the ground with the weight of water. There was even a downed maple branch over the lower fence.  They are enjoying the heck out of it all, pruning and munching on the delicious green growth they love.

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Shearing day last week; one of these is not like the others.

I watch them and am reminded how much I love them. Well, maybe not so much when they’re gobbling up my hops vines, comfrey, or horseradish plants, or the beautiful woodland ferns and other plants (my wonderful Devil’s club!) out back, or peeling the bark off my fruit trees. I’ve learned to monitor them better, but still like to let them out to keep the grass mowed around the house, stretch the feed bill, and ease the pressure on their pasture.  And I reflected on them and my relationship to them—to all my animals—and not only what they mean to me, but what do I mean to them? How do they see me? (A few of the flock must see me with a scythe and hooded robe, judging by how they react to me every. single. time. they see me. Maybe there are hallucinogens in the hay I feed?)

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Eloise at the top of the corner post in the chicken run.

I am reflecting on all of this after reading a blog post by a fellow blogger, also a woman, also a farmer (though she, lucky girl, is able to do it full time).  Like many bloggers (can you believe I’ve been blogging for over 7 years now?) I like to follow other bloggers, especially those who are doing things similar to me: solo homesteaders like Belle Manor Farms and Morris Brook Farm, sheep raisers like Canfield Farm, just a few miles away, beekeepers, nature lovers and wildlife advocates. I’ve been following Celi and her Kitchens Garden blog for at least 4 years now, maybe longer, and I find it a delightful day-to-day account of what she’s doing. Sometimes the animals take center stage, sometimes the hard work of farming, sometimes the garden harvest and cooking of same, and sometimes we go on vacation with her (there are over 5,000 people who follow her blog – !!) – all this with great photos of her farm (by “Camera House” – even her camera has a name and entity – I love this woman!), her animals (spring babies!) and scenery on her travels.  She posts every single day, for which I am very envious, and she has copious numbers of commenters (the Fellowship), which she calls the Lounge of Commenters.  Isn’t that delightful?

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Salal blossoms.

At any rate, Celi had a wonderful post the other day.  Sometimes she just riffs on a thought and it can be profound, with observations as keen and insightful as any philosopher’s, as this one was. It was called A Chair of My Own.

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A recent bee convention over some old honeycomb I had. I got several species of bumblebee, as well as the honey bees and even a yellowjacket or two.

Many of the comments added to the conversation and further enlightenment, as they often do.  And I reflected on my own situation, with my own self-imposed cage(s), and then on to my own animals and their habits. How DO the sheep see me? Little Trixie and her brother Mungo seem to love me, with Mungo especially coming at a run and staying with me for as long as I’ll scratch his chin, even when the rest of the flock has run off to the ecstasy of release to fresh grass.  It warms my heart that the two of them, and their mother sometimes, would rather be with me than with the other sheep. Is it intentional? Do they know that this will keep them from the freezer permanently? Those feral ones who behave as if I’m coming with a noose when I’m just bringing them dinner…well, they are creating their own reality, as I will be reviewing this year’s shearing and making some decisions based on their fleeces (my freezer is almost empty and I’m beginning to really enjoy mutton).  And just that has me reeling with recognition.  I struggle with my own choices in life (mostly related to job/income) and how my perception of things colors my reality: the fear/s that keep me where I am, instead of where I want to go, who I want to be and what I want to accomplish before this gig is up.

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The bird dogs covering the driveway action: squirrels at one end, cars and motorcycles at the other, and croaking (teasing) ravens overhead.

And what do the dogs think of me, and our life here?  Or of the dog park of their life on the farm, but confining in its own way as well.  I think they know the oasis they provide for me (I tell them, and thank them, often), and hopefully know how profoundly grateful I am to them for keeping me afloat emotionally, mentally, and every other way there is.  I cannot repay them for all they give me, which is why I am so “lenient” on them with regards to making them behave. I sing to them as I make them dinner, or when I come home to their unbridled joy at seeing me (and me them!).  I make up the songs as I go, usually sung to an old, well-known tune, and I know it makes them happy when I sing (because they know I sing when I’m happy).  I also know they love it when I laugh, and I see how hard they work to keep me happy and laughing.  I joke that they have me very well trained (when I buy 10 boxes of biscuits at a time the clerks always ask me about it; we go through at least 3 (1-pound) boxes a week here).  But who am I to these creatures that mean so much to me?  Is it as profound to them as it is to me? I think of each of them and how they came to me, the obstacles they overcame to reach me, or for me to find them.  Is it just me, or is this as profound for everyone here?  I think of finding my first sheep, the serendipity around all of it…though I think it’s more than just chance, or coincidence.  Do they think that too?  How about you, and the animals in your life?

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Gratuitous cuteness: the old guy, traipsing into the house with his swamp legs after a dip in the swampy little pond-ette on a hot spring evening.

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