Category Archives: pets

Baby Gates

Puppy training is going well. Kyrill bops his potty bells when he needs to go outside. He sleeps soundly with us for five hours at a time before he needs to go out. He even stayed close by us, unleashed, in the front yard for more than an hour on Sunday as we gardened. (That is highly unusual for most breeds of terriers, but typical for Ceskys. )

We have lots to work on in terms of thievery and his refusal to drop objects he isn’t supposed to have. He has yet to learn that our wine glasses and coffee cups are off limits on the lamp tables. He also has a love of cat food, and that requires a baby gate.

Our baby gates are somewhat decrepit, and hale from when we were training our second Welsh Terrier about 20 years ago. It was surprisingly hard to find new ones in town, and I had to order one from Target. We feed our cat in the basement. She, poor thing, has been sorely neglected since Kyrill’s arrival. We need to restrict his access to the cat food but allow her access to the upstairs. We have a strategically placed gate that allows her to jump over but keeps him out of the cat food and litter box. We also have a gate on the backyard deck so he can be outside when we work in the yard and be safe. He howls in frustration when he spies us and can’t get to us. It is hard to meet every creature’s needs these days.

When I was about 3, my parents had an enclosure in the back yard that they put me in so I could be outside but they didn’t need to watch me continuously. My mother said I got so upset when I saw the other neighborhood children running around that the let me run with them all over the block. No disaster ensued, but that was brave of my parents. Of course, this was in the early 1960’s, and things were different then.

What were your boundaries for roaming when you were a child? Did you have curfews? What are your experiences with baby gates?

Yard Work

Last night after work, Husband and I finally got our cabbage and cantaloupe plants into the home and church gardens. It has been a weird, late, planting season. I hope it isn’t too late for them. The replacement tomato and pepper plants go in tonight. We have to work quick, as our puppy has learned to scale his outdoor play pen walls, and we can’t have him outside with us in the front yard anymore. He howls if he leave him safely in the back yard. He just wants to be with us, but, being a terrier, he might dash across the street to get some prey, and we need to keep him safe.

One reason we have a vegetable garden in the front yard is so we don’t have to mow the lawn. Husband got a reel mower last year, but decided a cordless electric one would work better, and he got that last week. He still has this odd sense of pride about a neatly manicured lawn (although we have very little lawn to manicure). I am Dutch enough to pull every weed I see, but I don’t feel too overburdened with them.

I was saddened to hear that ND Senator Cramer is convalescing at home after a serious accident while he was doing yard work. I don’t agree with his politics, but any Senator who does his own yard work and gets his hand crushed by a boulder while moving it has my sympathy. He may need fingers on his right hand amputated.

I would like to see the neatly manicured lawn go the way of the Dodo’s. I detest the chemicals and water that are wasted on them. What grass we have looks awful, but people see our vegetables and flowers, not the turf.

What do you think is a good alternative to a lawn? What are your favorite and least favorite yard tasks?

Messages To The World

Our puppy gets two or three walks a day, and this has afforded me more observations of the neighborhood. I noticed on my most recent walk a faux rustic sign on a front porch that said in rather decorative lettering “Don’t Let The Top Step Kick Your Ass.”

That sign had been purchased, not made by the home owners. I have a hard time understanding why people would put a sign like that in the yard. I suppose it is meant to be amusing. It sure makes me hesitant to get to know them.

We have a small, cast iron pig with wings in one of our front perennial beds. I hope it tells people we are somewhat fanciful and goofy. The Gulf War veteran down the block has an American flag along with his Marine Corps flag. He is a good guy. I am happy to say our neighborhood Trump supporters don’t have any signs up. I suppose if I really wanted our neighbors to know what we stand for we would erect a free little library by the front Spruce trees.

What signs or symbols do you have in or outside your home that could tell people about you? What messages would you want to convey to the world from your yard?

Engines Of Destruction

Our puppy hates the electric floor sweeper and the Swiffer floor broom and attacks them at every opportunity. I guess they frighten him. He goes on the deck when I clean house. Members of the American Cesky Terrier Fanciers Association assure me their pups are just the same.

Our second Welsh Terrier hated our ironing board, as well as the brooms and mops we used. She became very alarmed whenever the ironing board was liberated from the closet and put up in the living room. I think she hated the sound it made when it was stood up for use. Maggie would circle while I ironed, waiting for any opportunity to attack if it moved. I bought several new ironing board covers since she lunged and ripped them as I put the ironing board back in the closet after I was done.

My mother told me that when I was small, she couldn’t vacuum unless my father was home to hold me. I don’t remember that. I don’t remember many engines of destruction growing up, although my uncles’ cows were somewhat alarming at close range when I was small. Oh, and my Aunt Norma’s Leghorns were mean and chased me. I suppose it wasn’t a good idea to try to catch them with the wire neck holder my uncle had .

What frightened you as a child? Did you ever get chased by animals when you were little? Do you Iron? What is your favorite chicken recipe?


Today’s post comes from Ben.

It’s been raining lately and we’ve got some heat too, things are really gonna grow now. We are at 722 GDU’s, pretty close to normal, and the forecast has us climbing fast this coming week. I found a new app to show growing degree days and it shows that day last week when it was nearly 90° accumulated 25 GDU’s. Two weeks before when it was so cool, we only got two or three degrees per day. Interesting how it all works. 

The chicks we got in April are about two months old now, they hop in and out of their pen at will. And they love being outside.

When I drive out in the fields to check on crops, the neighbors beef cows come right up to the fence to see me. Their cows have always been very calm and friendly.

We saw a stray cat around the barns the other day. Perhaps that’s where all the ducklings went?

One day Kelly and I were parked. We found a nice shady spot in town between appointments and had lunch, by a park. And another car pulled up and a family got out and showed us a turtle they had picked up in the street about a block away, brought him back to get him closer to water again. We joked he spent all day getting up to that road. But there’s nowhere to go up there, it’s all city. She’s better off down at the water. Kelly told the young boy he was a hero and he grinned ear to ear.

The co-op has been out and they have sprayed the oats with a fungicide to prevent rust and sprayed the corn for weeds. It’s a little frustrating as I work so hard to follow the contours of the hill to prevent water erosion, and the spray rig will run parallel to the waterways, basically up and downhill, because they need a border for the spray pattern. And then we got 2” of rain, and the water runs down their tire tracks. It’s just bad timing. A couple more weeks the corn would be big and well-established and enough roots to hold the soil. Or if it was drier, the sprayer wouldn’t of left tracks like it did, and if we hadn’t gotten 2” that hard and fast, it wouldn’t have been a problem. 

I ordered 100 bushels of cracked corn last week, it’s the corn I throw out for the chickens and the ducks. Last summer I took the bottom off this bulk bin and cleaned all the old, moldy corn out of it. It emptied completely and cleanly this time. I have corn stored at the elevator in what’s called “grain bank“. It’s just the volume of corn, it’s not my corn exactly, and when I need corn, they deducted it from my balance. A bushel of corn is 56 pounds, so 100 bushels is 5600 pounds. (Remember I’ve talked about test weights before; when sold, it’s all about the weight.) 
The co-op cracks the corn and delivers it and puts it in the bin and the chickens and ducks enjoy it. I ordered it Friday, and it was delivered about 6:30PM Monday night. A reminder it’s not only farmers that work late, but the support people too. We appreciate it. Here’s the bin and the box inside that I get the corn from.

Ducks and chickens are doing well. Daily egg production is dropping off a bit as the summer goes on. But they’re still averaging maybe 14 eggs / day. Tuesday it was 91°. Wednesday, I got 8 eggs. Thursday I got 22 eggs.



Emergency 911

Daughter was at some friends’ apartment last Friday helping them get two kittens to the vet as the friends went to a grandmother’s funeral. Both the friends were stressed. One of the kittens had walked across a hot electric stove element and burned a paw. The other kitten had blood in its stool. Both needed medical care. Daughter was going to transport the cats to the vet as soon as the friends left for the funeral.

As the trio of humans and ailing cats tried to leave the seventh floor apartment, the knob on the apartment door jammed. No amount of jiggling the knob unlodged it. The male partner phoned his brother to get ideas how to remove the knob. The brother’s advice didn’t work, either. They had to phone 911.

Three firefighters arrived, and they, too, struggled to unjam the knob. They asked hopefully if Daughter and her friends were sure that the door wasn’t bolted at the top of the door. Well, of course it wasn’t. One of the firefighters eventually removed the whole doorknob, destroying it in the process. There is now a gaping hole in the door, and it probably needs to be replaced.

Daughter and the female friend decided that the male friend’s grandmother jammed the door because she didn’t like what he was wearing to her funeral. I am relieved they didn’t have to climb out of a seventh story window and be rescued by firetruck ladders.

When have you had to phone 911? Ever needed to be rescued? Every been in an Escape Room?

The Rush Is Over

Today’s post comes from Ben.

The spring rush is over, at least on our farm. If you’ve got dairy cattle, it’s right into cutting hay and getting that first crop off. But here, we’re just cutting grass over and over again.

All the crops are out of the ground, they just need some heat to grow. Soybeans don’t grow quite as fast as corn, so even though I could see them coming, it takes a while to see the rows. That first field which had crusted and I finally dragged? It helped; they’re looking OK.

The last thing to plant was 2 acres of corn for a neighbor that he uses as a food plot so the deer are closer to his hunting stands. The next day my brother Ernie was out and we got extra seed cleaned out of the corn planter and got the power washer out and he washed the planter off and hosed off the back of my tractor and his tractor. The backs get very dirty; like your car back window, all the dust collects there. (Maybe that’s only us on gravel roads?) And the back is where the hydraulic hoses plug in, so it’s oily and attracts dust. I parked the planter back in the corner of the shed for next spring.

Next day we pulled the drill out, cleaned out the left-over seed, (We save extra seed for next year) and got the drill washed up and put away. I removed the cameras and cables and will work on getting them installed on the baler next.

We discovered that one tractor STILL has an oil leak. He fixed it last week; cost $1058. I’m hoping the repair guy just didn’t get something tight and it’s not a totally new issue.

And then I was cutting grass and the mower died. Just quit. No dash light, no hour meter, nothing. Well, that’s weird. I tried a few things (including the battery connections) and got nothing. Called John Deere and asked them to come and get the mower AND to come back for the tractor. The mower guy showed up; he changed a fuse and got it running, but it made noises. It made bad, expensive sounding noises. Sixteen years ago, when I was up for the college job, I had three goals if I got the job: New lawn mower, trade in grain drill, and there was a third thing I’ve forgotten, but I got them all.

We have a smaller, older mower and we got that out and running and I went back to cutting grass. Then I drove into a hole and got stuck. Harrumph. I was kinda fed up with the day by that point and I just went to the house and pouted.

Next day, I got a call my knee surgery has been postponed to August 1; need to get over all this other stuff first. (And I’m getting better. Kidney stone is gone, I’m almost walking unassisted again, cellulitis on my foot is cleared up, and PT is going well.) but we don’t want to risk any infections. I get that, but I’m still discouraged. Then I discovered one of the older tractors, a 2 cylinder John Deere 630, the crankcase is full of gas. Man ‘0 man; is there a black cloud over the house??

Sounds like just a shut off valve on the tank leaks, and the fuel leaks into the crankcase. Not the end of the tractor, just needs a fix.

I was pouty again. Went back to bed and figured I needed to just start this day over. Felt better after the nap.

Got the mower out of the hole and cut more grass. Next day made a deal on a different lawn mower.

The neighbors, Dave and Parm, have brought out some cattle.

The bulk oil truck came and refilled the oil containers. Still haven’t seen the price on that.

100 gallons engine oil on the left. 120 gallons trans / hydraulic oil on the right. Will last a couple years.

Kelly has been doing many of the chores while I deal with…. “all this”. 
I do chores because they need to be done; and I need to get through them in order to get on with something else. For Kelly, it’s a nice diversion from work and she enjoys being out there and spending time with the critters. My suggestions for more efficiency, “like I do it” are not always welcome. It’s nice we’ve figured out this difference and I wonder why it took 32 years of marriage to realize it.

Sadly, we’re out of the duckling business. It was quick. Friday morning there was 9 when we got them penned up. Saturday morning there was 8. Sunday morning there was 3 and we noticed them going outside the fence and wandering several feet from momma, who stayed inside the fence. We didn’t expect them to leave her so soon. And maybe she’s a first time Mom and didn’t have the hang of it all yet. Kelly created a smaller pen made of wire with smaller holes the duckling couldn’t get through. And Monday morning, they were all gone and the mom was out too. So, we’re thinking maybe owl? Never seen a hawk come down and the dogs wouldn’t have gone into the pen to get them. I’ve said, the real world is a cruel place. This was sure a learning opportunity.


Spoiler Alert

Husband is single handedly taking on puppy duty while I am in Minnesota this week. He told me he napped a lot Monday after I left, and then went to a local pet store, where he said he spent a small fortune on things for the dog.

Kyrill is the sweetest little fellow, but is only 4 months old and having teething issues. I have found puppy baby teeth on the floor. He wants to chew everything. He also wants to be close to us and play constantly. It is hard to get things done, especially if you are his only caretaker. Husband told me he bought all sorts of interesting chewy things and toys for Kyrill to keep hm busy. Husband said his plan was working well. I can only imagine the clutter of dog toys on the living room floor. Our home is certainly dog centric, and I suppose you could say we have a very spoiled puppy. Husband was the same with our children. I remember getting after him to stop constantly playing with our son and daughter when they were little, and to let them figure out how to entertain themselves so they didn’t expect an adult to play with them all the time. Of course, they rarely chewed up the furniture or the electrical cords.

As an only child, I always resented comments from people that I “must” be spoiled since I had no siblings. I didn’t get everything I wanted, and I had to entertain myself quite a bit, and I guess that is why I expected our children to do the same. I know I can’t expect that of the puppy. I am grateful that Husband is cheerfully being a single dog parent this week, even if it means that when I return, I will have a dog with definite expectations for me.

How do you like to “spoil” people and other creatures? What expectations have your animals had of you?

Crop Update

Today’s post comes from Ben

Crops are in. Finished up Monday, Memorial day. Just had a few acres left so I got to run the big tractor myself. Of course with Bailey; she never misses a ride. Got a flat tire on the digger, won’t be too hard to get off and fixed.

I went up to plant and had Kelly meet me later with more seed. There was a little confusion about where she was meeting me. All my fields have numbers and I have maps of the fields in the tractors and a photo of the map on my phone. And she knows I was going up the road to start planting, but I would be ‘Above the barn’ when I was ready for seed. I texted her something about meeting me at the gates, which, I knew was a pretty vague statement as there are gates all over the farm and the one I meant hadn’t exactly been a gate for 15 years, so I shouldn’t have even called it that. To add to the confusion, the FSA office numbers the fields one way, and the Co-op has decided to number them a different way. So, I have two maps to keep track of who’s calling what field what number. Anyway, we found each other. Here’s the last pass of beans to plant.

Corn is all emerged, soybeans are coming. I’m worried about the first field I planted because we got a hard rain after that and it really crusted over. Some beans were coming up, but the fields planted a week later look about the same as this one. I finally made the decision to drag that first field. Last week I mentioned how I like to drag them, but I knew these beans would be coming and I wouldn’t want to risk breaking them off with the drag. Well, it seemed like less than 50% had emerged, so if dragging it breaks up the crust and the rest emerge, I’d be ahead, right? We’ll see what happens or if I need to replant.

Now’s the time we’re watching all the fields closely to be sure everything is emerging. If there’s any issues and we need to replant, it needs to happen as soon as possible. It’s already late for most crops. The Co-op has been out scouting for weeds in order to  know what to treat for. I’m looking at germination and seed placement in the corn. At the rate I plant corn, a planting population of 35,000 seeds per acre (determined by which gears I install on the planter- to adjust the speed of the row units), in 30” rows, there should be a plant about every 6”. And if there’s not, why not? Did the seed not germinate? Did the planter miss it or drop a double at the next place? Seed placement and germination are critically important to the final yield. In the perfect world, all the kernels would emerge within 36 hours of each other. A kernel that comes out 4 days later than its neighbors will be behind all year and will not make as much grain as the others. There are examples of flagging and marking the plants from emergence to harvest, and the plants that come out later never amount to as much as the rest. It’s fascinating! Next week I’ll measure out 17’6” (that’s 1/1000ths of an acre) and count the plants to get final stand populations.

Remember, the corn grows out of the kernel, which remains in the ground. Soybeans, the seed comes up as it emerges. I just geek out over all this!

GDU’s are 487 to date, +71 over normal. Won’t be gaining many this coming week… rather cool forecast.

Oats is growing well and the rows are filling in.

Had another oil leak, this one in a hose in the tractor. All I could tell was it was dripping underneath. And if I got down there, not sure I’d be able to get back up. And you can’t see anything anyway. I called John Deere and a nice mechanic named ‘Cutter’ came and fixed it. A hose for the power steering. From the hydraulic pump in the rear of the tractor, under the cab, up the dash to the steering wheel. He pulled up the cab floor and removed a lot of other stuff to get it done. Haven’t seen the bill yet. Somewhere between $100 and $10,000 I predict.

I have two, 250 gallon bulk oil containers: One holds hydraulic oil and one holds 15W40 engine oil. I just ordered another 100 gallons of hydraulic oil. That will last me a couple years. Didn’t ask the price of that either. It just is what it is.

Chicks are really enjoying being outside. Ducks are still hanging in there although one of the black ones has a sore foot. And there’s one of the creamy white ones trying to hook up with a female mallard. She already has a mate and he dutifully tries to chase the other guy off. This creamy one, he does have a mate; she’s sitting on the nest. Hmmm, little inter-breeding going on there in the first place. Wonder if he’ll be a good father?

We have ducklings! Mama (one of the mama’s. It seems to be a community nest) was out in the yard with 9 ducklings this morning. Kelly had a good idea to just put her in the pen with the chicks.
The kids are so small they can get through the holes in the snow fence for now, but they also won’t go too far from momma, so they should be OK. This protects them from dogs, Or falling in a hole, or whatever momma might get into. So we’ll see.

Meanwhile there’s STILL a white duck and brown duck sitting on a nest so I don’t know what’s up or who’s hatching next.

There was a dead raccoon in the field the other day. Turkey vultures were circling. And the next day, a dead turkey vulture was there. They may be vultures, but they’re not cannibals. Which reminds me of a joke. Two actually. Two cannibals are eating a clown. One says to the other, “Does this taste funny to you?”.


The Dog Gate Conundrum

Last week I bought a fold up free-standing gate.  The dog behaviorist has finally made me realize that I am not going to “fix” Guinevere so that she doesn’t wake up violently when the kitty jumps down from the windowsill in the middle of the night.  That means I have to solve how to keep the kitty safe.   It’s always a pretty short scenario; Nimue thumps down on the floor, Guinevere startles awake and lunges.  Then Guinevere wakes up and it’s over. 

We tried keeping Nimue in YA’s room but kitty does not like being imprisoned all night.  After all she does her best hunting in the wee hours.  Then we put Guinevere in YA’s room but then the dog whined all night and scratched at the door.

So now we have a pretty white, fairly heavy free-standing gate in my room that separates where the kitty jumps down from my bed, where the dog hangs out all night.  It’s only been a few days so Nimue hasn’t quite figured it all out, but I expect in the next few days, she’ll have it worked out.

That’s not really what I’m here to talk about.  What I’m here to talk about is that it’s been over a week since I ordered this thing and today I have seen at least SIX ads recommending various dog gates.  Oh and an ad for a pet door.  I’ve probably said this before, but if the computers are so smart and connected into my life to know I’m looking at dog gates, then why aren’t they smart enough to know I already bought the darn thing.  Do they think I need lots and lots of dog gates?  I hate to think what would happen if I returned it – what pop-up ads would I get then?

Have you ever worked retail?  Any good stories?