Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Before and After...

It's late spring and that means it's time for Speedbump's summer hairdo. She lays down while I take the shears and zoom away the winter coat. All the hair is donated to protecting our garden. I have two wire baskets that I made out of chicken wire and I fill it with dog hair in an effort to keep varmints away from our crops. I'm not sure if this will be successful but we're giving it a try. The top picture and this one are before pictures.

Here she is after. Can you see her smiling?

Speedbump is all about being cooler. As a pup she adopted every airconditioner vent in our home and loves each of them with all her heart. Now that we've started using the a/c a bit, I led her to one the other day and it was like a family reunion between her and her vent. Oh beloved cool air vent. Really, there is an air vent under there :O)

A love from humble but cute beginnings!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not so newsy news...

Here's a quick update. Apparently the rules have changed to the stick game since Daisy (former referee) is now in play. Charlie doesn't care who has the other end of the stick really.
Corrie has been sunning. That girl loves to soak up the heat, JP and I think she's trying to make up for when she and her sister came to us when they were starving and cold pups.
Flowers are starting to bloom. We have Irises, Peonies, Painted Daisies, and Columbine starting to bloom.
The vegetable garden is pretty well underway. The tomatoes, jalapeños, and some of the herbs went out this weekend and the potatoes are well underway.
At the bird feeder we saw our first Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Indigo Buntings for this year.

Well, I guess when you add it all up that amounts to real news. We're continually blessed and pray you and yours are as well.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Scrappy's sick day...

After the big tussle last Friday that Super JP broke up, Scrappy had a little lump under her throat. Also, she's been doing this weird, annoying sound like a cat coughing up a fur ball kinda, this has been going on for about a month. She'd wake up in the middle of the night (in bed with us of course) and start hacking. Anyway, the lump didn't do down and we got worried that it might be a tumor or something really bad cutting off her air or choking her (I'm thinking worse case scenario here.) So today we went to see the doctor. Who knew that dogs do reverse sneezes? In all my life I've never heard of that. The lump is from the dog fight where Daisy or Corrie tagged her under the neck. Doc said it's nothing to worry about, it's just water in there and will be reabsorbed into her little body. So she came home with an antihistamine and story to tell. We are so thankful that she's healthy.

Scrappy is so funny because when it's time to go she goes to the door that leads to the garage (that's the look right there "come on!") That's where she used to wait for JP when they were leaving for the week of trucking. We are also thankful that JP works close to home and can come home every night now. Praise the Lord for this job! Weekend blessings from the holler.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

And now for my next trick...

When we feed our little pack it takes lots of room so that no one feels crowded or hurried. When we got Charlie last year I put him just outside the back door to eat. That was a good idea because when he eats he eats fast and when he's done he doesn't bother anybody outside. That was a bad idea because he thought it was cute and funny to take his bowl up the hill and leave it there. We are talking steep hill, like maxed incline on your treadmill steep and slippery in the morning dew. Then I'd have to go and get it or he'd take it even farther away. This didn't make for a happy post dinner time.
I had to think of something because winter was coming. So one day when he picked up his bowl I threw open the door and started saying over and over "bring me the bowl, bring me the bowl." It didn't take long for him to catch on.
Our Charlie is so talented. He sometimes gets carried away and runs off all the way to the fence but when I give the command he comes running across the yard bowl held high. Also, sometimes he's coy and likes to take a victory lap or two around the smoker before coming in.
When he comes in he goes into the laundry room where I keep there bowls and he drops it. I taught him to do that by getting him to follow me in there with treats and then giving him one after he gave me the bowl. He doesn't need the treats anymore now it's his game we play twice a day.

Can you identify this varmit?....

Two days ago I looked out on the back porch and there were lots of these caterpillars. Then the more I looked the more I saw; they were on the trees, blueberry bushes, peach trees and the list could go on and on. So I had some Sevin dust (the pet friendly kind) and I started dusting like a mad woman. And this has been my mission, to kill them. I laid down a perimeter around our house, flower garden, blue berry patch, peach trees, and garden. These little buggers like warmth and can be found on the concrete, and sunny sides of almost everything! YIKES!! In the top picture you can also see some holes I found in an oak tree, they go all the way around the tree and are at every 4-5 ft. all the way up the tree. What's up with that?
I took two of them to the county extension agents office yesterday and they're gonna get back to me. I'm pretty riled about these varmints and in the words of Bugs Bunny "you realize this means war." Go ahead and snicker, I know I sound like Bill Murray in Caddy Shack(actually he had some ideas I'd consider).
The good news is as I sit in my chair each morning after my JP goes to work I've had a treat. This little bird couple has been building a nest in my fern on the front porch and I watch them come and go. I can't tell what kind of bird they are because at that time of day the morning sun is coming in that window so all I see is their silhouette.
All three bluebird houses are full, which is so cool. Also, the hummingbirds started coming by to feed early this month (I'll try to get a picture of them soon.)
So that's the good and bad news from the holler. All in all we are truly blessed.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dog fight...

Nope, not that kind of a dog fight.

Yesterday when I came home from work, it was a nice day with a cool breeze blowing through the holler, so Mrs. JP had the windows and the back door open, and the dogs were able to come and go as they pleased; in, out, in, out. After the excitement of everyone greeting my arrival, the dogs ran back outside to play and I went in my room to change into some casual, comfortable attire. I had just gotten in the room when I heard a little bit of dog growling, which quickly increased into what I realized was an all out fight.

Mrs. JP states that Charlie and Scrappy were playing the stick game,
but when Daisy began to referee, for some reason it turned into an all out fight between Daisy and Scrappy. Knowing Scrappy, my guess is that she instigated it, but Daisy responded with a ferocity that, although normal for a GSD, not one we had seen directed at another pack member before.

Mrs. JP was screaming "NO", "NO", a command that Daisy should have responded to, but they were too engrossed in the all out battle. Corrie, who was in the kitchen, ran outside and proceeded to also jump into the fray on Daisy's side, so Daisy had little Scrappy by the throat, and Corrie was going at Scrappy also.

This all happened very quickly, and as soon as I recognized the sounds had gone from playing to serious, I turned and ran out toward the back yard, growling in my loudest alpha male voice, which usually sends dogs running for cover. This time, however, while the three innocent parties, Speedbump, Violet and Charlie, ran for cover, the three that were involved in the battle just did not realize I was coming. At my age, I just don't have the grace on my feet that I used to when I was younger. As I hit the back door, beyond which are two steps, a short concrete patio and then the ground, I stumbled. I was moving too fast to stop, but managed to stumble forward for a couple more steps before I completely lost it, and came flying right into the middle of the fight. Now you have to picture this. For those that have never met me in person, I'm a BIG guy, about six foot two, and weigh, well, quite a bit, somewhere in the neighborhood of 350 lbs. Now, picture me running out the back door out of balance, trying to recover my balance for about two steps, and finally going into a short horizontal flight pattern, bellowing like a barbarian all the way out.
Hearing my quick approach, Daisy turned Scrappy loose and they both fell back out of the way. Corrie was not so fortunate and before she could move, I landed on top of her. I managed to get both hands and one knee down first, so she was not hurt, just flattened to the ground a little. Her reaction was to quickly back out from under me, and which time, unfortunately, I moved my left hand to begin my recovery, and she instinctively bit it. Fortunately for me, she caught my hammy, calloused hand, so she barely broke the skin. I was not angry with her because I knew the bite was instinctive, and as soon as she realized what she had done, she ran in the house for cover. Mrs. JP initially thought I had broken my kneecap or something. As hard as I hit the ground, she was sure I had broken something, but I was fine so she proceeded to help me up as best as she could.

Now, besides the comedic value of the incident, what with my graceful and efficient method of breaking up the fracas, and all present agree that it was quite hilarious, I decided to blog this incident to let you know that yes, occasionally fights break out between the dogs. But we don't allow dogs to fight in our pack.
We are usually on top of things and able to stop the little "disagreements" from escalating, but when they do, we make sure to let the offending parties know that we are alpha, especially me, and that they are not allowed. After I recovered my composure a little (don't laugh, Mrs. JP!), I went inside and put Daisy, who was the most aggressive party, into a submissive state for a couple of minutes. I gave her the "DOWN" command, rolled her over on her back, and made her stay there for a couple of minutes while I kneeled over her and the other dogs walked around above her. It is a method for letting her know that she is not allowed to compete for the alpha position. We have used this method for several years and the dogs do indeed seem to understand the message and learn from it. Fights in our pack are very few and far between. I suspect that when both Mrs. JP and I have been absent from the house, there may have been some little animosities building over who lays on the bed or some such conflict. For a little while, we are going to separate the parties a little while we are gone to try and calm some of the animosities. Not that they are very evident. Mere minutes after the fight, everyone was calm and playing with each other as if nothing happened. Dogs live in the now. None of the dogs involved had any serious injuries, no broken skin nor bleeding. Scrappy did have a little swelling under her throat where Daisy had hold of her, but the swelling has gone down quite nicely.

And just in case you were concerned, my left knee was a little sore and stiff today, and my hand was a little sore, but I'm fine. What did you expect from an alpha male, extra-extra-extra large, barbarian Superman. Here I come to save the DAY!!! ;o)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

It's not all hog grease...

Last night we had a nice, light meal. We had a salad with some mixed greens, tomatoes, and fruit and I made crab cakes for my first time ever. They turned out pretty good and really easy. I used Paula Deen's recipe. So, see, we do eat healthy meals. After all that healthy stuff I had a Milky Way - it all even's out. Right?

And now for the cute and cuddly. I just looked out my window and scrappy is letting Charlie chase her. He doesn't catch her unless she stops! The first picture is when we got Charlie last fall and the second is of him now, towering over his little friend. My little pony, my little pony..la la la la la. JP said the other day that he had that song in his head and it's because I sing it to Charlie. That just cracked me up.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's not FTD....

It's better! On the way back up the hill from the mailbox I stopped and picked these lilacs. I love the way they smell, and look, I cleared off one end of the dining room table just for them! Spring is great. The scenery turns from winter gray to pops of color here and there. I'm like a kid going to the park as JP drives us around. I also overreact (a condition I inherited from my father) and make him jumpy--OHHHH look at that dogwood,,,WOW did you see those tulips!! He tries to see all the sites I'm so calmly pointing out and drive too - poor thing. For some reason I just can't get over it - I'm amazed every year.

What's your favorite spring flower or tree? HEY,,,DID YOU SEE THAT LILAC BUSH!! Sorry, I did it again. :O)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Locust Tree...

There are a couple of thorny locust trees in our yard. My feelings of them are love/hate. When my family first moved here from Florida in the 70's a farmer told my father (also a farmer) that the thorns of this tree would go through a tractor tire (he may have been stretching the truth). Watch out, in other words. Even as a young girl that obviously impressed me because I'm relaying this conversation to you now.

I had an encounter with one of our thorny trees last week as I wanted to mow a section of our yard for the first time since winter. There were lots of limbs to clear away, some from the dreaded tree. As I cleaned around it I got stuck several times and decided my shoes and mower tires were no match for the long, thick and sharp thorns - most of them the size of a ten penny nail.
Why am I going on about this tree? Because God knows I need reminders of His love for me. I wonder what kind of thorns were put on Jesus head as the soldiers mocked Him as King of Israel. In the previous hours to this thorny crown, He'd been betrayed by a friend for the price of a slave, on trial in front of a Roman governor, then Herod, then back to Pilate who offered the Jewish crowd the release of Jesus or Barabbas (a murderer) - they chose Barabbas. He was then taken away and scourged, beaten and spit on in preparation to carry His cross. What had he done to deserve this? There were many healings, raising of the dead, exorcising demons, teaching God's word....there was no crime.

The cross is a horrible instrument of death. He died that day and then three days later He rose from the dead and is in heaven. What He suffered that day was for you and me. He paid the price of our sin, so that if we accept His gift (that's right gift) of salvation we can be forgiven of our sin and go to heaven where He is.

I'm reminded of this the greatest love story ever told every time I go by that mean old tree in our yard. Blessed Easter from the holler...

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mmmmmm.... Bacon....

Last Saturday we had some people over whose company we really enjoy, to visit with us and our dogs, enjoy some delicious food, exterminate some balloons with extreme prejudice (and some paper targets) and just enjoy each others company. We decided to try our hand at making some Bacon Explosions for the occasion. We used some thick sliced hickory bacon and made the bacon weave as described by the recipe. We made two of them with some store bought mild Italian sausage and two of them with one of our homemade sausage recipes.

They took about twice as long to get done as what we expected from the recipe, which in retrospect is pretty standard with our smoker, so everybody was good and hungry once they came off the smoker. We served them with baked beans, homemade biscuits, cole slaw and plenty of homemade barbecue sauce and sweet tea. They were very tasty. For desert, my wife had made us a funfetti cake that was also delicious. Everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and the dogs certainly had a full day, they were wiped out that evening, as were we.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Brown Nosers.....

Actually, it's dirt. After it rains and the ground is soft our little group loves to dig and eat dirt (we feed them, really we do) then they come in and there is no way for them to give the innocent look. Oh, they try, but as they look at me I can tell where they've been and what they've been doing. Can you tell who is who? By the way, these photo were taken as they came in the door one evening. And wouldn't you know there are storms in the forecast for this afternoon and tonight. Out come the towels and old sheets for those muddy paws and noses.