Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dogs Are Neat-O...Among Other Things

Dogs are neat-o.

Dogs are loyal.

Dogs are always happy to see you.

Dogs give great hugs.

Dogs wag their tails.

Wagging tails make those looking at dogs happy.

Dogs are good sniffers.

Dogs sniff out dead things.

Dogs LOVE dead things.

Dogs roll around gleefully in dead things.

Dogs smell like decay and all manner of horrid aromas when they roll around in dead things.

Dead-thing-rolling dogs stay outside.

Well, at least one does. The other one has 3 fat pups who whine pitifully if their milk mama doesn't snuggle her chubby fanny down with them in their cave in the corner of the living room.

So, when the little critters start to fuss, we have to let mama dog, who heretofore has not been "kept" outside since she had her puppies, back in the house. With a fan blowing from the doorway.

Bad mama dog.

Dogs stink.

(Well, at least temporarily. We'd bathe them, but it's snowing. Again. Snow's beginning to stink in my book, too. If only for the fact that you can't wash the dogs when it's snowing and risk them catching a chill. We love the dogs, after all, even if they stink. To high heaven. Which they do. Review the above if you missed that little tidbit.)

Love from the farm,

Monday, April 26, 2010


Imagine my surprise to open my email inbox this morning and find a new submission from "...Love From the Farm." Did I write it in my sleep, I wondered?

Apparently, Blogger is a little glitchy and sent us all a Christmas in April message. I feel like I'm in syndication on the WB network. Too bad if we're playing random re-runs, that this or this didn't pop up in email boxes everywhere. The first is how I'm feeling about the upcoming summer with the kiddos home from school. The second one pretty much epitomizes life around here.

Anyway, not sure why we all got the Christmas message again. I'd say I'm going to follow up with Blogger, but, well, let's face it, I won't. If it happens again, though, I promise I'll check in with them.

Love from the farm,

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My Slamming Screen Door

It's been on my mind for several days - maybe even a week. I have thought about it on several occasions and each time felt a little forlorn. Yesterday, I owned up to the fact that, as silly as it sounds, I've missed my slamming screen door.

After a long, cold winter and in the midst of this cool (sometimes snowy) spring, I haven't had the urge to spend a lot of time outside. Well, I've had the urge lots of times - I just haven't had the desire to go out when it's cold or windy, and it's been a lot of both. Since I haven't been spending time outside, I haven't been seeing much of my beloved old screen door.

See, for the regular day-to-day errands: kids to and from school, feeding the horses, grocery trips, doctor's visits, etc., I use the front door. It's during the late spring and summer when I'm off to the garden, out watering the grapes, carrying food scraps down to the chickens and pigs, or bumping the door open to lug a basket of wet laundry out to the clothesline that I use the screen door off the mud room. I haven't been engaged in any of those activities for some time, so I've been logging my comings and goings through the boring old front door.

Yesterday, I decided enough was enough. I went out the front door, around the corner of the house and walked up to the screen door, plucked it far away from the side of the house and let it slam. Three times I did it. I had just missed that clattering old sound, which was truthfully one of the things that made me fall in love with this place. This dilapidated, rundown, old, mish-mash place that has a spirit about it that we can't define, but makes it feel like home to Mike and me. It feels as if there was much of love and kindness in this house over the years, and the remnants of those gentle emotions are embedded in the adobe walls, the old kitchen cabinets, and in the crooked door frames and sloping floors. Talking to people who knew the couple who lived and died here confirms that was the case; I hear from one and all that these were good people, "salt of the earth" people who, without exception are spoken of with fondness every time we say, "We bought the old Heward place, do you know it? Right across from Drew Shumway's big red barn?" Never mind that the Hewards have been gone for some time, and sadly, Drew's gone now, too. People around here have been here all or most of their lives, and they remember.

So, yesterday, I let the screen door slam. Tanner walked up as I did it and asked what I was doing. Somewhat sheepishly, and without explanation, I said, "I just wanted to hear it slam." He smiled this warm, accepting little half smile then shook his head and said, "I love you, Mama," and went on his way.

After he left, I looked at the door a little disappointed. I noticed that it hadn't just snapped shut with a loud bang like I love, but instead took a little coaxing from me to get the clatter right. Its somewhat weak slam felt a little like a metaphor for me this spring. There are plenty of things that are needed and expected of me, but it's taking a little coaxing to get it all done. I want to roll up my sleeves and dig in with determination to tackle it all, but I've felt a little beleaguered and I'm not quite sure why.

I am quite sure, however, that Mike can do something to the hinges to get my old screen door to snap shut with that satisfying slam I love. In the mean time, I'm looking around for the right oil can or wrench to get my hinges working right, too. I'm sure both the door and I will be back in fine form in no time, ready for the myriad warm weather chores that take me out our slamming screen door.

Love from the farm,

Friday, April 2, 2010

Dog in Easter Spirit?

The headline I just saw on AOL read, "Dog In Easter Spirit With Costumes."

Really? I mean, really?!

There are some things that really shouldn't be trifled with. A jack-o-lantern on a dog? Sure. A hot dog bun costume for our wiener dog Belle? I suppose. If we're not worried about giving her nightmares (which I am, since she keeps finding her way into my bed at night.)

But, I'm not really too concerned with making it look as if my pooches are in the "Easter spirit" - much the same way I wouldn't dream of slapping a menorah on a headband and sliding it over Sadie the Dog's ears, so she can show her "Hanukkah Spirit." Or desecrate some symbol of Passover in the name of cute. I can't even bring myself to consider what capturing the true spirit of Easter would translate to in doggie fashion.

No, what I'd rather do is express that Easter is my favorite day of the year for thoroughly sacred and heart lifting reasons. Whether you're Christian or not, there's much to be appreciated about the symbolism of Easter: renewed life, the promise of being reunited with our loved ones who have left us - some far too soon. The idea that all will be restored to perfect form - no matter how broken or battered we are now.

I also cherish Christ's example of a love for our fellow man that leads to serving others, making sacrifices for those we love and for meaningful ideals that we graciously uphold no matter the cost. Whether you view Christ as a Messiah, a great prophet or simply a historic figure, there's no question his ministry encompassed all of these things.

I love Easter, and I love the spirit of Easter. And I'll cherish the symbolism and ponder the example of this Christ, who cherishes me, too. No costumes required.

Happy Easter from the farm,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Was SOOOOO Wrong

Remember day before yesterday? When I said Mia was exhibiting maternal instincts? Turns out I was horribly, horribly wrong.

Well, unless Mia's version of maternal instincts includes eating her young!

Turns out I gave Miss Mia far too much credit in my previous missive about her intentions when she was herding the little chick back to the chicken yard. I read the look on her face as concern for the chick's welfare. Single minded focus on her self-appointed stewardship over the fluffy little straggler. Apparently, what I was actually reading on her face was furtive calculation and desperate longing, mixed with the strain of exercising every ounce of self-control she could muster to not chomp that little cheeper between her steel-trap jaws right there and then. Somehow, I must have missed the drool.

Mia snagged and killed a chick yesterday morning.

I couldn't believe it. She came trotting up the lane from the coop with the chick in her mouth, and flopped down under her favorite eating tree. This, the dog who I have always felt was safe to have around the chickens. The one, who up until yesterday, was the only dog that could wander the chicken yard and coop with me, and the chickens never skittered away nervously. They were content to have her around.

I was devastated when Mike told me of the killing, and deeply disappointed in Mia. Has she really turned chicken killer? Or, is this a temporary brutality phase, brought on by the psychotic throes of pregnancy? Is she experiencing pregnancy cravings? Are warm chicks the canine equivalent of pickles and ice cream? Or, in my case, raving hot salsa and salty, warm chips?

Equally as disturbing as Mia's treacherous act is the fact that I'm left with that unsettling realization that my judgment of character is wildly out of sync with reality. I wonder what other creatures and people in my life have hideous secret twists that they're just waiting to spring on me.

Disillusioned and wary down on the farm,