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Farm Fresh Blog
Saturday, March 30 2013
She has been my best friend every since. So in honor of her "Got-Day" Lily received a new collar (big whoop) and a Birthday Bone! (Yeee haaa!) She began celebrating her Got-Day at exactly 12:20 AM on Friday morning.
She then participated in a popcorn party in her honor.
"No it wasn't! We have popcorn parties every Friday night. . . "
The better part of the next day was spent hauling hay. Lily and Trace rode to get the first load. Then Lily supervised the tractor operation as I hauled the round bales out to the pasture while Other Half and Trace went to get another load.
And that's when the day really got exciting:
Put two horses in barn so I can drive tractor in pasture. Get a round bale and take it to horses in roping arena. They see opened gate and blast past tractor to cavort about pasture. Grrr.... Unload round bale for them and exit arena. They are still racing around pasture. Since there is little hope of getting both of them back in arena without halters, get off tractor and open gate to rye grass pasture. They race inside. Close gate and get back on tractor. Go get a round bale for cattle in the back pasture.
Problem: Cows have seen that horses are in rye pasture and ALSO want in rye grass.
So instead of following tractor with hay, they meander through opened gate. They are now in front horse pasture - next best thing to rye pasture to a cow.
Baby calves are bucking and bouncing while momma cows settle down to the important task of grazing illegal grass.
There is NO WAY I can get the cows back up without saddling a horse or using Border Collies. Opt for dogs.
BIG Problem: These are cow/calf pairs - the most dangerous cattle to work with dogs.
Decide to use Cowboy and Lily instead of Ranger because Cowboy listens better and this job requires finesse.
Go get excited dogs who have already assessed the problem from their kennels. They race to pasture. I remind them to wait at gate. This is a job that requires teamwork and planning.
Momma Cows see us as we walk toward them. Smart cows turn around and begin to meander back toward their pasture. Not-So-Smart-Cows (and one Badass Cow) stare at dogs and say, "Make me."
Problem: Calves see dogs and are immediately intrigued. Instead of following the Smart Cows, they hang back to examine the dogs. ("Danger! Danger! Will Robinson! Danger!")
She bellows like a Hollywood Cow and thunders at him. He slides under barbed wire fence into rye pasture. She hits fence. Backs up. Hits fence again. And again. And again. Each impact is punctuated with loud bellows. This cow has totally lost leave of her senses. The calves are intrigued. The dogs are intrigued. I am horrified.
How in the heck am I gonna get these cattle safely back in the pasture without getting one of the dogs stomped to death?
Stare at problem for a moment. She stops ramming fence and moves back to the calves who are standing in a group, gaping like spectators at a NASCAR crash. This is bad, Bad, BAD on so many levels. I continue to stare at Water Buffalo while she glares at all of us. Lily is trembling with anticipation at beside me. She is ready to address Uppity Cow. She doesn't retreat like Cowboy does. But then again, sometimes retreat is the better part of valor. After all, Cowboy is still alive. In the same situation, Trace would have been a greasy brown spot in the grass by now.
And Lily, I didn't even want to think about that . . .
So we stand there, the dogs and I, staring at the Water Buffalo. And that's when I see something that gives me a glimmer of hope. Most of the cattle have already meandered back through the opened gate. They want no part of the dogs. In fact, everyone but Stupid Paisley, some calves, and The Water Buffalo have already moved on. If we can just hold our ground and maybe push a few steps forward, they might follow the herd.
So I wait. The dogs glare at the cows. The Water Buffalo glares at us all. But given a minute to think, she realizes that the rest of the herd has left her. She thinks about it for a moment. Then she lowers her head, gives us a snort, and backs toward the opened gate, pushing calves with her. And the sun shines again. Until . . .
Stupid Paisley decides she is having none of it. The Water Buffalo and the calves are already through the gate when Paisley says,
"Nope. I'm not going. I want Horse Grass. Screw the Human. Screw the dogs. I'm getting Horse Grass."
And she makes a break for it. Lily and Cowboy are on it. They turn her around and send her back toward the gate.
Unfortunately the Water Buffalo sees it too. Like a train she runs for the dogs - right into the barbed wire fence. She has failed to calculate (or doesn't care) that the dogs are still in the Horse Pasture. Water Buffalo hits that wire and bounces back. And hits it again. And again. And again. And as before, she bellows in rage.
I call the dogs back. I am in shock. They are giggling. Lily's Got-Day is complete. She has gotten to bite Paisley.
I am still shaking. Her short little life has flashed before my eyes. I hear the familiar chant in the back of my head,
"I hate cows in the spring time. I hate cows in the fall. I hate cows..." (to the tune of "I Love Paris.")
Other Half and I have a regular argument about this. As far as I'm concerned, cattle are big and stupid, and dangerous. Sheep and goats are much easier to handle. But convincing a Cow Man of this is like spittin' in the wind.
So the dogs and I walk back to the house. They are a bit disappointed that the chore didn't involve more running, but are otherwise pretty satisfied. I put them back in a kennel run and climb back on the tractor to haul more round bales. As I drive, I think about cattle and cow dogs.
We simply cannot work cow/calf pairs with the dogs until the calves are much older. Water Buffalo belongs on the North Texas ranch. Her babies will survive quite well. No coyote will cross that bitch. She needs to be on the first cattle trailer headed to north. We can keep the 'less than dedicated' mothers down south but she is definitely slated to move with the group headed north.
I catch him up on our latest adventure. We unload hay and head for a well-deserved meal. (Our first of the day. It is almost 5 pm.) A steak. He wants a steak.
So we sit down to two rib-eyes and discuss dogs, cows, and Got-Days. After gorging ourselves there is still plenty left over. Enough for another meal. But do we get a to-go box for the lunch the next day?
A friend of mine later pointed out the poetic justice of letting the cow dogs eat steak after their encounter with the Water Buffalo.
She said, "Look who's on top of the food chain now!"
Good point, Dani. Good point.
Wednesday, March 27 2013
Before I even planted vegetables, I planted this in my garden:
"What the heck is that?" you ask.
This, Friends and Neighbors, is my Bottle Tree. Those of you from the north probably still have question marks above your eyebrows.
A BOTTLE TREE!
You can call them 'garden art', 'poor man's stained glass', or a 'trashy tradition," but nevertheless, I find them a delightful addition to the home. Being a child of the South, I am no stranger to bottle trees. Some are tasteful, some are trashy, but it's the lore behind the bottle tree that has always intrigued me.
The bottle tree of old wasn't simply a garden whimsy. Although often credited as orginating in Africa in the 9th Century, some scholars claim there is evidence of bottle trees much earlier in Europe. Regardless of origin, the stories behind it are pretty much the same.
Legend has it that spirits are attracted to the glass, crawl inside the bottle, and are trapped. Some go so far as to say they are destroyed when the sun comes up and shines on the glass. It is for this reason that cobalt blue bottles are so popular on the trees. The color blue has long been associated with repelling spirits. In the Deep South there was even a color of house paint called "haint blue" which was used to paint porches, door trim, and window trims. This color ranged from a blue-green to a blue-gray. Looking back at my childhood I can still recall this color in my mind as "porch blue."
Apparently the paint used to be made with lime that was supposed to repel insects, so one could argue that the color alone did not repel them. Still, it makes for a neat story.
For more on bottle trees, I urge you to explore the website of Felder Rushing. (www.felderrushing.net) He has done research on bottle trees all over the world, and his collection of photographs is most extensive.
So while I doubt my bottle tree is being filled with spirits each night, I do appreciate the lore behind the tree, and really enjoy watching the sun play through the bottles. I have blue flowers planted under it at the moment, but the yellow of sunflowers or black-eyed susans is particularly beautiful against the blue glass. I urge you to explore Rushing's site. It is sure to awaken the whimsy in your garden too!
Tuesday, March 26 2013
While walking through a local garden center I found a statue that I simply had to share with you. LOOK!
A dog troll!
It reminded me of another Troll Dog we know.
Trace the Troll!
Unfortunately the Troll Dog statue was $200 and as much as I like the idea of having a dog around here that didn't eat, that was a little steep for my blood, so we left this precious thing at the garden center.
But I still took a picture of it so I could share it with you! In some gothic alternate universe, I would have a big Victorian house surrounded by a heavy wrought iron fence, and the top of the house would be lined with these troll dog gargoyles!
Friday, March 22 2013
If I had to state my biggest fault it would be "biting off more than I can chew."
It's not really that I have the attention span of a butterfly, (I do!) but that I have so many interests, goals, and plans that I want to accomplish RIGHT NOW! Waiting has never been my forte.
And so it is that I always find myself spinning too many plates. For example:
Other Half agreed to stay in his job for four more years. This means four more years in the Cow House. (oh dear!) The house is fine for a single man, but then, men are happy living in deer camps. I'm not. Thus, I decided that it was time for a "home make-over" (on a budget, because, after all, we are still in the process of building another home in North Texas.)
The first thing to address was the carpet. OMG! (oh. my. gosh!) Carpet is for people without dogs or kids. The carpet was old when he first bought this house. Now it's ancient. But then again, with 8 dogs in and out of the house, we'd be crazy to replace the carpet. So for now, we'll have to live with it.
Next order of business - Paint! The interior of the house was painted a most unusual combination of colors which made it seem like a dark trip to an ice cream parlor. (pink dining room, lavender bedroom, holly green kitchen, etc.) I need LIGHT! The fastest way to get it was a trip to Sherwin Williams. (more on this later)
And the thing most guaranteed to pull it all together was re-doing the furniture. We have an eccletic mix of antique and junktique. With my discovery of Annie Sloan chalk paint, I am able to take that furniture and without sanding or priming, turn it into beautiful distressed pieces that look like they belong in a French County farmhouse. Think simple lines. Think distressed. Think light simple colors.
So I started with the kitchen cabinets just to prove to Other Half that it would indeed, make a big difference. They went from old, stained, dirty tan pine to Annie Sloan Old White. I white-washed them to give them a "farm" look, and took a Sherwin Williams sage green to lighten up the dark holly green. Eureka! The room opened up and I was on a roll.
My next project was an antique dresser that had almost been ruined by dogs chewing on the legs and cats leaping (not far enough) onto the top. The top drawer was scratched from repeated failed attempts to land safely.
This was a four hour project.
The photos simply don't do it justice. I cannot believe the difference some paint and wax made on this dresser. (and it looks great in the lavender bedroom that I haven't had a chance to paint yet!)
Last weekend while Other Half was at work, I went to work on the pink dining room. As I slapped on the Sherwin Williams "Tea Light," it was really too yellow for my taste. The paint chip looked like a warm cream. Thinking that perhaps it was merely a case of bad lighting and cream over pink, I kept a'goin'. I painted the dining room. I painted part of the hallway. I painted the foyer. It still looked yellow - a pale Easter egg yellow. Oh crap! In fact, it fit in perfectly with the ice cream parlor color palette that had been there. Double crap!
Thinking it might be my imagination (and bad eyesight) I waited until Other Half came home. He walked inside and asked,
"Is it supposed to be yellow?"
There was no way I was painting the rest of the house in this! And I still had two more gallons of it! So I called my mother, the color expert, for advice. She said it could be the paint clashing with the tan/brown carpet. She said it could be the stark white trim of the door frames pulling out the yellow in the paint. She said maybe I didn't mix it well enough. So I took the used can of paint outside in natural light. Looked fine. Just like the color chip.
Brought it back inside. Pale yellow.
Other Half kept insisting that we take it back to Sherwin Williams and see if they could change the color. I laughed at him. We picked the paint. The paint is the color we picked. It was OUR FAULT that the paint didn't look good in the house. We "chose poorly." There was NO WAY Sherwin Williams was gonna bail us out.
God bless 'em. Over my protests, Other Half walked into the store and politely said,
"Hey, we bought this paint and when we put it on the wall it was too yellow."
The young men behind the counter asked, "Want us take some of that yellow out for you?"
I almost melted with relief in the store. As of that moment, Sherwin Williams now has all my business. Their good business sense paid off big time for them because while they were busy re-mixing paint, Other Half was shopping. He found a paint gun.
Yes, I can't get him to pick up a paint brush or a roller, but give a man a gun and he's ready to shoot up a wall like Rambo. It didn't take him long to talk himself into this wonderful paint gun that would spray the paint on the walls in record time. (and probably the carpet and the ceiling and the trim, and the dogs . . . ) But nevermind that - we walked out of there with a new color, more tape and drop cloths, and a fancy new gun.
So let's move on to the next project: the garden
Let me go on record stating this: My mother has a green thumb. I did not inherit this. I do recall that during my childhood we had a garden that produced quite a bit of food to feed a family of five. I recall weeding. I recall hauling water. I recall mixing fertilizer. I recall my mom canning. I recall jars and jars of food. I recall wonderful, wonderful meals. Over the years I have had many futile attempts at gardening.
What I fail to take into account is that it was a full time job for my mother and she had three unwilling slaves (children) I also fail to consider that for my entire childhood the garden was planned by my mother. I was a grunt. I really know nothing about gardening other than picking the weeds and hauling the water. My mother, however, is a gardening genius.
And I'm lazy. I'd be happier if the plants walked to water when they needed it - like dogs do. Yes! Like livestock do.
See! I'm good at raising animals. Animals WALK to water when they want it. They don't tend to overwater themselves.
If you plant them too early, they will survive in a barn. If you put plants in too early, you get - cold baby plants that wither and die.
I don't have to decide if a sheep needs full sun, partial sun, or full shade. Goats are pretty good about walking to where their needs will be met. (and climbing over, under, and through!)
So in the past, I simply raised livestock and left anything but tomatos, basil and essential herbs to the more accomplished gardeners. (Mom and Dear Friend Cathy) But I've decided that I'm not happy with grocery store produce.
I don't trust some corporation to be making the decisions about my food. It's time for me to take charge and learn to feed myself.
Other Half likes to garden, but his slave labor has grown up and moved on. While visiting Daughter, he spied her fantastic new garden and decided that perhaps we needed such a beast too. I heartily agreed. This coincided nicely with the addition of the new tractor. (with a front end loader!)
And so it is that I find myself torn between projects.
1) paint the walls
We put the painting on hold to put in the garden fence this week. The fence is up now. Woo hoo! Our plants are now safe from marauding pirates (goats) and dogs. My mom graciously started baby plants for us.
(because she knew that otherwise I would end up with no baby plants, or tall, spindly, weak, weedy baby plants, since I'm too soft-hearted to thin seedlings)
Then Other Half and I went to the native plant store for more plants. (rosemary, lavender, patchouli, okra, basil, peppers, flowers!)
All these are now sitting in containers in the garden because we haven't had time to put the beds in yet. I bought patchouli for my mom to hedge my bets. (If I kill mine, Mom's will still survive!)
Today I added my blue bottle tree. (more on that later!) Envision this rascal surrounded by sunflowers and/or black-eyed susans. The sun shining through the blue glass is magical in a sea of yellow flowers.
I tell you all this to explain why you've received spotty blogposts. Spring has sprung and I've got to get these projects done while the gettin' is good. That, and I still actually have to work for a living so I can afford to buy vegetables from the local farmer's market when I forget to water creatures that cannot walk to a water bucket.
Wednesday, March 20 2013
I haven't forgotten you guys! In addition to painting the house, painting furniture, keeping a farm going, and going to my "payin' job" every day, I'm trying to put in a new garden. (before the goats kill the lemon trees that are valiantly hanging in there!)
The new tractor paid for itself already. Yesterday we sank cedar fence posts for a new fence (to keep the goats out!) Today we slammed metal posts into the ground between the cedar posts.
And this picture is for all my girlfriends who asked, "Has HE let you drive the new tractor yet?"
Tuesday, March 12 2013
He is a troll. Trace is the consummate "Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde," for beneath the sweet exterior lies the soul of a beast. Trace is a resource-guarding monster. He has never had to compete for food, yet at the slightest hint of meal time, he races to "his spot" near the food bin where he rolls his eyes, bares his teeth, and lets out noises more associated with a Hollywood demon possession scene than a serving up of the same meal he receives twice a day, every day.
And he does not merely save this aggressive streak for meal time. Nosirree! The Troll is always looking for someone or something to herd - aggressively. He must be tied in the back of the mule because he's such a monster to the other dogs as they run along beside it.
Because The Troll has the moves of any Urban Parkour traceur, (see: http://youtu.be/WEeqHj3Nj2c ) he must be confined to kennels with tops when we go to the pasture to feed, otherwise the little beast scales a 6 foot kennel and races up and down the fence line, foaming at the mouth with a satanic gleam in his eye.
What's so bad about that, you ask? Well let me give you just the last 24 hours of living with The Troll:
Exercise dogs and shuffle them into kennels. Have a brain fart and leave Trace and Dillon loose. Note Trace racing up and down fence. Note Innocent Dillon bouncing along beside him with a stick (club) in his mouth. Dillon has no understanding of the herding dog's desire to race along the fence. "Wouldn't you rather play with my stick?"
I stepped into the house to take a pee. (You cannot even take a piss around here some days.) In my defense, I couldn't hear Other Half's screams over the racket of barking dogs in outside kennels. In hindsight I should have noted that their barks sounded like the Roman Colosseum crowd cheering and jeering gladiators locked in a life and death struggle.
As I passed the refrigerator, cold frappuccino in hand, I glanced out the window. Oh crap!
Other Half was no longer feeding horses. He was on his hands and knees in the back yard, on top of what appeared to be a semi-conscious Dillon, while Trace circled them both with bared teeth. The little monster darted in and out like he was in a knife fight.
I raced outside, snatched the little monster up, and threw him in a kennel (with a top). Other Half's screams barely resembled English, but I did recognize the occasional F-bomb and the blood . . . I recognized the blood.
He let Dillon up and we examined the carnage. Trace bit THROUGH his thumb. Yes. Can I have a collective tightening of the pucker factor here. It takes a lot to impress me and that made my butt twitch.
Apparently Trace had enough of Dillon thrusting the stick at him and attacked Dillon. Dillon is a goofy, sweet dog, but like little Ralphie in The Christmas Story, when finally pushed into a fight by a bully, Dillon will let fly with such a rage that he is blind as he pummels his attacker. And so it was that by the time Other Half came racing through the gate, Dillon had Trace in a choke hold and the Little Monster was gasping like a fish out of water.
Other Half had to punch Dillon off of Trace to keep the big dog from killing his precious little monster. As soon as he was free, The Beast rewarded him by biting through his thumb. He then disengaged, back off, circled, darted in again, and bit Other Half in the thigh. (All this while I was getting a frappuccino out of the refrigerator.)
Other Half has a bad bite on his hand and his thigh. Dillon has a lump where OH punched him. Trace is unharmed.
Now whose fault was this?
Mine. Other Half's. We know Trace is a primitive beast given to fits of rage. We should have put him in a kennel before we went to feed.
Note that goats and sheep are out and are now in the neighbor's pasture. Call them. They blow us off. They are too far away for Lily, who has distance issues. They don't have enough respect for Cowboy, who has force issues. The Troll is the man for the mission. Problem: sheep must be run through the pasture with the cattle. The momma cows will kill The Troll if he even looks cockeyed at one of those calves.
Before we begin, Other Half calls cattle and they meander to another pasture - all but one cow and two calves. The sheep have now moved further away. They are at least three acres away. Send Trace. He is a heat-seeking missile. They start running. The little comet reaches them long before they reach the highway.
Problem: they decide to back up to the barn and not move.
His solution: He goes bowling. I see him hit poor Roanie, who just happens to be in the back. I am not happy. It was dirty and uncalled for. I stomp over there as he continues bowling hysterical sheep and sullen goats. One of the dairy goats refuses to move. "Go ahead and kill me now."
I get there and grab her collar to hoist her to her feet. There is blood on her head. I look for damage. No damage. Then I scan the rest of the flock. And that's when I see red myself.
Trace bit half of Roanie's ear OFF!
I am livid. I am in a Dillon-like rage. I want him DEAD! As he circles past for another go at them, I smack him on the back with a wooden crook. "Take THAT you little bastard!"
(This did have the desired effect of clearing the cobwebs from his brain and knocking that glazed look out of his eye.) He drops to a down. I move him a few feet forward and down him again. And again. And again. By now, the sheep are in their pen. I am so angry that I just leave The Troll with Other Half. I completely understand why some ranchers will shoot their own dogs. I was that mad.
He is a bully. He needs to be on cattle only! Cattle can fight back. They may kill him, but at least it'll be a fair fight.
In his defense, he is a cowbred Border Collie. He is bred to work cattle, not sheep. He is bred to take the fight to them, and not quit when the chips are down. On the other hand, Lily is too, but she doesn't bully the stock the way Trace does. Trace looks for a fight. He hopes for a fight. It is part of his nature. He is a troll. He is 'bad to the bone. B-b-b-baad.'
Monday, March 11 2013
I want to go on the record as saying I KNOW BETTER THAN THIS! And yet, I still did it. I let my dogs wrestle with their collars on. That's gonna change.
I give you Exhibit A:
Yeaahhhh. . . that's a problem.
Thankfully, both dogs are good-natured and neither escalated into panic. In fact, I didn't even realize it had happened until I looked at the photos. (then I freaked!)
Ranger just shook it off. No harm. No foul.
And thank God it was Ranger's collar that got caught and not Aja's chain fursaver collar. That would have been a nightmare. I DO NOT like leaving chain collars on dogs. (that's an argument in this household)
I shiver when I think about what could have happened.
Fortunately Ranger is such an easy-going dog. (Wow! Never thought the words 'Ranger' and 'easy-going' were two words you'd see together.)
Friday, March 08 2013
The Kids brought the Grandkids by the farm today (to pick up tractor implements) on their way to The Rodeo held in The Big City. The Kids live on one side of The Big City and we live on the other side of The Big City. I get such a kick watching the little ones enjoy the farm.
These have never been city kids. They are raising chickens themselves and have been around livestock since birth, but they don't have "Neigh-Neighs" at the house. So any trip over here involves feeding, petting, and riding horses.
This little cowboy is gonna be a heartbreaker some day.
He has graduated from riding the mini-horses to riding Joe and Scout.
Unlike his sister,
he's a bit too daring.
His dad has to keep a firm hand on the little rodeo rider.
And all was well and good until his parents announced that it was time to get down and go to The Rodeo.
I believe this face sums it up.
After all, why pay and stand in line at The Rodeo Petting Zoo when he had his own petting zoo at Grandpa's house? Complete with full-size Neigh-Neighs!
But he was a big boy about it and climbed down. Then his dad reminded him of the most important part of the ride . . .
. . . thanking Joe.
There is something magical between a child and a horse.
Thursday, March 07 2013
I see this both at work and on the farm. The Circle of Life can be a vicious Merry-Go-Round. It's not all cotton candy and sunshine. Sometimes the wolves are in hot pursuit as the carousel spins.
Yesterday this little girl was born.
Her mother is Dancing Cow. She pops out babies in all weather and is a very attentive mother. I never worry about Dancing Cow's calves.
Then there is Daisy Mae.
She is a registered Santa Gertrudis. Other Half paid a hefty price for her. My experience with cattle thus far is that if they have papers, there will be problems somewhere down the line. Just sayin'! The more money they are worth, the greater the risk.
Last year Daisy Mae popped out the prettiest little bull calf - early. Here is his story: There's A Cow In My Bedroom , Thus far . . . , On Baby Birds, Norman, and Other Lessons In Futility
With the other cattle I wouldn't be worried, but since Daisy Mae had some issues last year, I trotted out there to check on them. I 'think' it's a bull calf. He appears to be full term. He's trying to nurse. She's attentive and trying to help him. Her teats are normally big. Now they are really big. He's having some trouble nursing. Naturally Other Half doesn't get back into town until tonight. Yeahhhhh . . .
I really don't want a repeat of Norman. Thus far this little guy seems like he's healthy but if he can't nurse, we'll have to milk her. I use the term "we" loosely, since there is no one here but ME. It's not like I'm gonna be able to carry that calf, run Daisy Mae into a chute, milk her, and then bottle feed the baby by myself.
Thus, I'm hoping that he figures it out on his own. If he hasn't nursed by this afternoon, I'll have to stay home from work to help Other Half milk her tonight when he gets home. (I'm sure my supervisor really doesn't want to get THAT call...)
And sadly, if we have to milk her out, Other Half will end up selling poor Daisy Mae. He's already said that if she loses this year's calf, she's gone.
I see the logic. We just aren't set up to coddle cows that need help calving. On the other hand, Daisy Mae is trying so hard to be a good mama, unlike Stupid Paisley whose baby survived DESPITE her poor mothering skills. (Read: When It Rains, It Pours )
So I say a prayer for Daisy Mae and her baby. He keeps trying. She keeps trying to help. And in the mean time, I keep looking at the clock and wondering when Other Half will be home.
Wednesday, March 06 2013
As you recall we sold my little farm to move into the "cow house" and buy the big property in North Texas. I was completely on board with this except for one tiny little detail . . . I didn't like the "cow house."
The "cow house" needs lots of work both inside and out. At first I wasn't planning on doing it simply because I have neither the time nor the money for home renovation, but then I discovered Annie Sloan paint. It all started innocently enough, you see. Our furniture didn't match. Mine didn't match his. At first I just planned to send a few pieces off to get them distressed and painted. ("distressed" is a relative term in this home. We have dogs, therefore ALL our furniture is "distressed" in some way.)
I love the look of distressed and "white-washed" furniture, and the more I looked around the house, the more furniture I wanted painted. I soon realized I didn't have enough money to hire someone to do this. :(
Enter Annie Sloan.
On my way to work every day I pass a little cottage on the highway that recently put out a banner which read:
"We sell Annie Sloan chalk paints."
Hmmmm... what is Annie Sloan paint?
So I got on the internet and discovered that Annie Sloan was the answer to my prayers! Here was a type of paint which was easy to work with, easy to distress, easy to white-wash, and didn't require me to strip or sand! In fact, with this paint, you are only limited by your imagination. ("Hot Damn, Loretta! Sign me up!")
While researching Annie Sloan paint, I stumbled upon this:
Be still my beating heart!
I LOVE this woman's website! I was so inspired! Not only was I planning to re-do my furniture, I was planning to re-do the whole damned house!
I went back to the little cottage to buy some paint and ended up signing up for a class on painting techniques. That was Saturday. My life hasn't been the same since.
I've mentally painted everything in the house, from the walls and furniture to the lamps. I literally painted the dog. This dog now sports a sage green line down the side of her face. Don't tell Other Half. (That's what he gets for leaving his new patrol dog at home.)
The kitchen, which was a dark place with pine cabinets and holly green walls, was my first victim. (If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'!) Other Half apparently was more concerned with putting in a new roping arena than with re-painting the house when he first bought it, (Single men think that way.) so those walls have been that dark for years. Ladies and Gentlemen, I white-washed those suckers today!
It was so easy I almost cried. I've suffered that kitchen for years and all it took was 4 hours and one can of paint. Tomorrow I'll put on the wax. I still need to re-do the floor and put knobs on the cabinets, but the room, ahh, the room! I can SEE in there now! It's like God said, "Let there be light."
I'm so happy with this paint that I wish I had known about it when I had my little farm house. I would have painted those cabinets too! My advice to you is this:
If you want to jazz up things around your house, play on "The Purple Painted Lady" website to get some ideas, and then buy yourself some Annie Sloan paint. You won't be sorry!!!
(And YES! That paint is well worth the $38 for that tiny little can!)
Saturday, March 02 2013
Aja is settling in nicely, but her first day to meet the pack was touch and go. (literally) Because we have so many dogs it's necessary to pair them off into sub-packs so they can still live like dogs and have family time with us. In order to accomplish this, Aja needed a friend. The obvious candidate was Ranger the Blue Heeler. He has social skills, and he's tough enough to handle a big girl like Aja.
What Aja lacked in social skills, she made up for in exuberance.
I think Ranger's facial expression pretty much sums it up here.
But he soon got things under control and began to teach Aja the subtle art of play.
"I chase you."
"You chase me."
Now this worked out well. Ranger has taught lots of puppies and is both tough and patient. The next best candidate as a playmate for Aja was Dillon. The problem was that although Dillon has lots of doggy social skills because he was raised in a large pack, he has never accepted a new member into the pack and was initially afraid and hostile. After watching her for a day or so, we tried them together.
Dillon immediately ran and got his stick. Actually, it's more like a club. He and Oli wrestle with this club. There is a real art to this. If you don't grab it when he swings it, you WILL get konked with the end.
Oli has it all figured out. It's a good way for them to blow off steam without getting too physical.
Unfortunately Aja didn't understand the game. She just wanted him to drop the club and wrestle with her like Ranger does. As you can see from his hackles, Dillon was more than a little frightened of her "Baby Huey" antics.
And then he discovered the perfect way to deal with an overenthusiastic playmate. When he swings his head toward her, the end of the club smacks the crap out of Aja. She either gets out of the way, grabs the club, or gets the s@*t whacked out of her.
Girlfriend never did learn not to rush up and try to pounce him, so she took lots of smacks with the club.
"Dad! He won't play right!"
I'm happy to report that after a week, she is fitting in well. She and Ranger are best buddies and she plays with Dillon too. Aja still hasn't figured out the club game, but she doesn't get smacked as much now, and he isn't as afraid of her. After much study, I've come to the conclusion that he actually smacks the crap out of her on purpose. When she gets too rough, he swings that club and lets her have it.
"Alright Sister, try it again!"