Friday, December 30, 2011

The Price of Humiliation

Here's proof that if the price is right, I'll buy just about anything.
While grocery shopping this morning, I wandered through the Christmas department. Most things were 75% off.  So for $11 total, for all three, including taxes, we have Santa and his Elves.

I can only imagine what the sheep must be thinking

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Give Them an Inch

And oh those blackberries will take a mile.  I often joke that if we did nothing about them, in five or ten years (depending on how frustrated I'm feeling about them at the time), our place would be just one giant blackberry patch.  I do pick a lot of blackberries, and it's really handy just having them on our own property, but it's a constant battle to keep them under control.

Last Spring David had cut off at the ground, a giant patch and it's off-shoots that were growing along the fence between the hay field and a driveway that went between that fence and the riding ring fence.  We had kept cutting them back for a while last year, and then had eased off, and now they were well on their way to taking over again.  It was a nice mild morning, no rain, so I figured I would give the loppers that I got for a Christmas  present a workout.  I have no issue with getting a practical gift for Christmas.  
They had nice long red handles. 
All tools should have brightly coloured handles.  That way when you put them down and then forget about them, it's much easier to find them.  David gave me the loppers.  Maybe it was his way of telling me to get cutting the blackberries back myself.  They cut like a hot knife through butter.  By the time we were done though, and had several times attempted to cut through the fence wire as well as a blackberry cane, the blade edges didn't look quite as smooth as they did at the start.

Every year, the plants send out new shoots, that will bear the next year's berries.  Some of those shoots are as thick as a man's thumb, are covered in thorns, and can easily go 15 ft or more.  They arch up and over the previous year's growth, and then when they touch they ground, they start forming roots, and that's the basis of whole new clump

Because these particular blackberry clumps had never been that great to pick, they had never been cut back much.  Usually as you are picking the berries one year, you have to cut the new canes back, because they are in your way.  In that way, the clump is kept under control to some degree.  
We kept switching off.  One cutting and the other pulling the canes back far enough to be sure that they were all cut off at the ground.

Jake and Luna figured they had us sort of trapped, so they kept bringing us their toys.  Eventually we got smart and started  throwing them over the fence.  Then they had to run to the other end of the field, through  the gate and back up the other side of the fence.  We gained  a few seconds between throws (or kicks) that way.

Just after we were finished, the rain started  (again).

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Family Foto

So here you go, a 'family' portrait.  I had wanted to get a sheep and the cats in as well, but besides dealing with the wind and the rain showers, adding the cats was just more than we could handle this morning.  I had one sheep all dressed and ready to go, I figured she was tame enough to eat out of a bucket and participate.  I had her tied to the fence, but not well enough.  The other two sheep got agitated.  Luna kept interferring, and then we had two sheep running from the other sheep who was wearing a halter and a red scarf and dragging a lead rope.  So there is me with a chicken in one arm, trying to drag a reluctant sheep with the other, back into the picture zone.  Wasn't going to happen.  Larry looks like he had a rough night, David is dealing with a painful swollen jaw after a wisdom tooth extraction, I was flustered by this point, Luna didn't know which animal to focus on....the chicken I was holding, Pride on the other side of the fence, or the sheep that were really wanting to get as far away as possible.  You can just see my token sheep in the bottom right of the picture.  So what you see here is the picture with the least amount of participants looking 'weird':)  Oh yeah, and forgot to focus the camera before starting the timer.
Hope you all had a good Christmas, your roast 'beast' was moist and tasty, and you enjoyed your time with family.
Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas To All!

From our house to yours, all the very best of the season.
May love surround you, and peace enter your heart.
Merry Christmas to all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Climbing Towards the Light

My mental image of this time of year is of slipping down a long slope into darkness, with Christmas being in the bottom.  After Christmas, I am then on the up slope, climbing up towards the light.  I think this year I've felt the shortness of the days more than ever.  Not so much the darkness at the end of the afternoon, but more so the mornings.  On a cloudy, dreary December morning, and we get a lot those, it isn't really fully light until about 8:30, and I feel no urge to leap out of bed much before then.  Sure, there are lots of mornings when I can't sleep, so get up before it's light, but only because I'm so sick of tossing back and forth, that's it's actually more comfortable being out of bed.  I was always a morning person, and I want to stay that way, but right now I'm finding it really hard.  
Anyway, not that I wanted to rush the days along, but it is nice that we've finally passed the shortest day of the year.  The winter solstice happened at 9:30 pm on Wednesday evening in our time zone.
We have been lucky, and the two shortest days of the year have been clear and sunny.  Makes for some frozen, frosty nights, but at least we can take full advantage of the daylight hours. 8 hours and 13 minutes between sunrise and sunset today.

Sun and frost this morning

On the Christmas front.....
Well the tree is finally decorated.  The actual tree has been up at least a week, but we couldn't seem to coordinate all the family to get together to decorate it.  It's been done in bits and pieces.  As a person passed by, they might just stop and load a box of ornaments onto the tree.  It has so many lights on it that it needs lots of ornaments to cover up some of the brightness.  For years we used to get a real tree, take the trip out to a tree farm.  We dug quite a few up, and planted them on our farm after Christmas was over.  One year we broke a shovel digging up our tree.  We cut a few down.  Then one year,  there was a deal on an artificial tree after Christmas that we couldn't pass now we've gone to the dark side.  Well actually it's more like the really bright side.  A fake tree with the lights already on it, a really really lot of lights.

We've even done some Christmas baking.  Usually I don't do much, because then I eat it, and eat it, and eat it. No will power.  If I don't make it, I can't eat it.  This year I broke down.  Rum balls:)
Easy Peasy recipe.
 From Canadian Living magazine.
3 oz or 3 squares unsweetened chocolate, finely grated (Try not to get any fingernail pieces in the mix)
1 cup ground almonds (I ground up blanched sliced almonds in the coffee grinder.  So what if a few stray coffee grounds got in the mix)
1 cup of icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup of rum.
Mix it all together.  Put in the fridge to firm up, maybe half an hour or so.
Roll into little balls
Roll the balls in some more rum to moisten, and then roll in the covering of your choice (sprinkles, chopped nuts, coconut)  This is the step that takes the longest.  
I doubled this batch, and ended up with about 60 rum balls.  Probably would have been a few more if I hadn't been eating the batter as I was doing it.

Part of the floor clean-up crew was ready to leap into action if required

 Other family members took it easy.  Not sure where Luna was, but probably breathing down Smudge's neck somewhere.  She did keep popping in just to make sure she wasn't missing anything.

Meredith was in on the act too.  She got the cakes made for the Christmas Day trifle, and then made the rounds for the Vinatarta.  That's a layered cake made with a prune filling that was made by the Icelandic people in Manitoba.  We decided to give it a try, in honour of Larry's mum, who used to make one every year.  Larry's dad's family came from Iceland.  Not sure which recipe Larry's mum used, so I used this one. A lot of the recipes didn't seem to bother with cooking the prunes with rum, they just used water.  I think we probably wasted the two cups of rum, as I couldn't taste it in the prunes after.    It's all been layered together now, and we'll leave it sitting for a while for the flavours to meld and the biscuity cake layers to absorb some of the moisture.
I'd better crank up the exercise routine.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Big Red Present

I came home with this big red present today.
Let's open it up and see what it is. 

 Mmmm, dog food

About 150 lbs of dog food.  60 lbs of prepared frozen blocks that the butcher makes.  The rest was beef liver, kidney and heart.  Pork bones and feet. Pork offal.

I scored with the pork offal! $10 for 20+ lbs.  Liver, tongue, and a few unidentified bags.  It was frozen, and a bit hard to tell what some of it was.

Jake offered to help me unload.

I spent nearly an hour at a local small butcher shop today.  The kind were the floor is concrete, and you can see into the back where they are cutting up a side of beef.  They pull open the big freezer door and wheel out wire baskets full of brown paper wrapped meat.  It's the time of  year that people that have raised their own beef, for themselves and others, are having it killed and cut and wrapped.  It was very busy at the shop, and it took a while for them to gather everything for me.  It's a good time to stock up on the organ meats, as there are usually plenty, with all the custom cutting and wrapping they are doing.  I guess some people don't take the organs.  Bonus for me, or maybe I should say Calli, Jake and Luna.  Smudge eats little bits of it too, and we've finally convinced Nelson to have a taste as well.
The freezer is full.
The dogs had pig's trotters for supper.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rescue Photos

When I was checking the PNW Border Collie rescue site today (which I have to admit I do on a very regular basis, not that I'm looking for another dog......really, I'm not, um...yet), I thought it would be fun to submit a photo of Luna for their Happy Holidays Gallery.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Birthday to the Luna (tic)

Luna is four years old today. No birthday cakes or party hats I'm afraid.  Who needs a cake when you get kidney and dogfood from the butcher for breakfast.  Then it's eggs,  sardines for and more kidney for dinner (yes, I forgot to take something else out of the freezer).  Dessert would be  a side of horse manure and then a quick trip over to the neighbours this morning on the bush walk, to get a sample from their cow manure pile.

 I'll confess that I've cheated and basically copied last years post.
 Here's her bio when she was first listed on the web.....

Hi! My name is Luna. I'm almost 1 year old (12/14) and a bundle of goofy teenage Border Collie. 
I didn't know much when I came to my foster home but I like these rule things. They make life so much 
I know how to sit and lie down and I'm learning how to wait for stuff and play fetch... My Favorite is the big red "egg" ball 
that I can herd around the yard. I LOVE going for a run now that I know what I'm supposed to do while 
I'm on the leash. 
Loud noises still startle me but that's getting better now that I don't have to be in charge of the pack anymore... 
And I would love to find my own home and family for the new year! 
Luna is not yet spayed (but will be before she's adopted). 
Luna will need a Border Collie savvy home with a strong leader. She is a sweet, sweet girl who will need continued guidance and 
training to be the best she can be. (and she has the potential to be anything -- learns and retains things SUPER fast) 
Luna would do best in a home with a patient older dog (she can be a bit pushy) but she's great with kids and 
seems to do just fine with my dog savvy cat. 
She still needs more work on her leash walking skills, but no longer barks at everything and only pulls a little. 
AND she's crate trained (handy thing), is house trained and, so far only chews on her chew toys (some times her towel). 
She's learning that meeting new people is a really great thing. 
Don't miss out on this fabulous girl! 
Luna was tested on sheep on 12/13 and showed fabulous natural talent. She tried her best to do every thing that was asked of her 
and then some. email for more on her test...:) 
Luna is an SPDR affiliated girl with a $150 adoption fee. She will be spayed, microchipped, and brought up to date on vaccinations before she is placed. Please fill out an application before contacting .........

I always get a bit of a laugh looking back through this.  Well especially at the first line where the word 'goofy' is used. If you only knew how many times we used the word goofy or goofball when talking to or about Luna.

There's quite a bit in that description that I'd have to change now if it was describing her currently.  Do I feel that we've failed her in some respects.  Well yeah, I think so.    Good with kids, um, no.  Maybe because it was something that we didn't work on after we got her.   There seemed so many other issues to work on that we never even thought about working on kid socialization, after all she was supposed to be good with kids.  But even a month or two after we got her, she was showing fear when little kids were coming towards us, or she could hear one crying.  She came from a family with two young kids and a tiny baby.  You can read whatever you want or don't want, into that.

There are still issues, but I won't bore you with all the details.  Strange men, people leaning over and staring her in the eyes, dogs staring at her, and Smudge could add a complaint or three as well.  Do I regret these last three years with Luna, well not a chance!  It's been one heck of a journey, and it still is, but.....she is such a goofball, and makes us laugh, and is so much fun, and is sometimes so frustrating......, I just couldn't imagine life without her.

So a week after her birthday, three years ago, we made a scary, snowy, three hour trip down to Seattle with Jake, and two weeks after she was posted and four days before Christmas, we brought her home.
Here's some pictures of the lanky, big eared, big white nosed and footed, teenage Luna in the first week at our place.

Happy Birthday Looney Tunes!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunny Sunday

This post was going to be titled Dreary December, because it was just that until early afternoon.  But then the sun finally burnt off the damp fog, and it was sunny.  Probably not really as bright as these photos make it look, but I'll take sunshine in any form at this time of year.
When Larry picked up his runners so he could head out to the store, the dogs all went nuts because they thought  THEY. WERE. GOING. FOR. A. WALK. 
Yep, picking up your runners in the afternoon can surely only mean one thing, it's walkies time.
Since they'd had a good run through the bush this morning, and then I'd taken Jake and Luna with me on my two miler cardio walk/run (okay, mostly walk) just before lunch, I didn't really feel like taking them on another one. So it was time for a game of dumbball .  Out to the hay field we went.  Each dog had it's own ball, and I had the chuck-it.  It all went well at the start, but then I didn't like the fast stops, try to grab the ball as you skid by, somersaults, that Jake and Luna were doing, so I started lobbing the ball high.  The idea being that the dogs could get a good idea where the ball was going to land, and probably be relatively in position before it got there.  Sounds good in theory, but most of the time they didn't look high enough, and if they were looking the wrong way, they didn't see the ball at all.  The grass was too long so the ball didn't make much noise landing, and it didn't bounce.  So we seemed to spend a lot of time looking for missing balls.  When I started walking out to get the dog looking in the right spot, the other border collie would come with me, but would leave their own ball behind.  So now there were two balls to find.  Let's just say that the adjectives coming out of my mouth will not be repeated here.  Thankfully it wasn't too long before I figured they'd had enough.

Classic Jake pose

I found it!

 Luna searching

I've got mine too!

A couple of tired dogs

Out in the back field, Pride was laid out in the sun having a nap.  Every angle that I tried to take a picture from, had a fence post or fence rail in the way.  I ended up too close and he decided it was time to get up. But first he had to roll.  He rolled over two times.

Before he got up to shake.

The hens enjoyed the sunshine too. 

Seems we might get some snow on Tuesday.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Trying For Some Feline Christmas Spirit

Smudge and Nelson weren't particularly thrilled by my visit to the dollar store this afternoon.  They didn't really want to look like festive court jesters.  I was trying to get them not looking right at the flash, but no luck with that.

I've had this niggling thought lately that maybe things aren't quite right with Smudge, so I'm going to take her for a check up next week.  We know she's getting old, she's about 16 or 17.  The thought that is now eating away at me is the congestive heart failure that  took one of our previous cats.  She showed up one day with massive amounts of fluid in her abdomen.  She was a barn cat, so we didn't always see her on a regular basis.  Smudge isn't presenting like that cat did, but I've got the thought stuck in my head.  Hopefully I'm wrong.  There's just something about the way she sprawls out on the floor in front of the gas fireplace that's got me wondering.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Frosty Friday

Hey there humans...any chance of a hungry horse getting some breakfast?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

A Hundred and One Years Lived Well

Early yesterday morning Larry's mum slipped peacefully away, after a very long life.
She was the best mother-in-law a girl could have.

Elizabeth Priscilla Brandson
March 15, 1910 to December 6, 2011

We will miss you