rancherwriterpoet

Poetry, musings, reflections, life

Archive for the tag “dogs”

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”, so sang Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting.  Other artists have recorded this song over the years. It is a Christmas song written by Frank Loesser in 1944. It is an interesting song and delightful to hear.  However, the message is concerning.

I awoke this morning to a chilly 39° out here on “The Fuzzy Chicken Farm.” Wasn’t expecting that. Yesterday it was near 80° and me out there sweating away while mowing the yard. But this is what you get in North Texas. After this past week at a Physicians Cardiology Symposium, for which the “Rancherette and the RancherWriterPoet” were the subjects of the focus group, I fell far behind in my yardly duties. It is amazing how quickly grass grows. With a rear view mirror on my riding mower, I could actually witness grass growing. The evening before the vicious return of the bitter winter, it rained. The grass sucked it all up. You know what that means.

So, on this cold morning, the baby fuzzy chickens, not used to this arctic condition (well, it feels Artic-y {new word}), were conveniently clustered together for warmth, like football players huddle.

baby chicks

These very young fowl have been hatched in an incubator and have no identity with a mother chicken. The “Rancherette” fulfills that role with much enthusiasm. She is the heroine on the Farm. Occasionally, her birthing skills are required to help the little chick crack open their egg and arrive in this new world right on schedule. Peering into the incubator is like choosing a pastry from a bakery window, so many choices. It is a smorgasbord of different breeds, sizes and shapes.  The “Rancherette” tends to each and every one personally and quite surprisingly, they respond. So on this cold morning, she is certainly like a mother chicken, protecting, hovering and cajoling her flock.

Not being sled dogs from Alaska, the kennel dogs weren’t too keen about racing into the cold air; however, the geese have no fear of such weather. After being released from their nightly quarters, they made a beeline (or is that geeseline?) straight to the pond.

heading for the pond Geese 1

 

Braving the elements, honking and squealing, they wasted no time diving into the icy water as though it was the middle of summer in Puerto Rico.

I, being the bus driver and handyman on The Fuzzy Chicken Farm, spend part of my daily time watering and feeding the flocks. And on this chilly morning, I feel much like those baby chicks. When the quarterback breaks the huddle, everyone scatters to their assignments. Me, I just wanted to stay in the huddle.

Monday will be in the 80’s and the grass will have grown to new heights. mowing the grass

 I need gasoline for the mower but, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”.

I have it on good authority that the Physician’s Cardiology Symposium Report will be forthcoming this next week. Sure hope that doesn’t give me a chill.53321-Its-Cold-Outside

Stay warm, wherever you are.

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Cardboard Boxes

Spring is springing and it is raining today. That’s ok, trees are budding, grass is growing, flowers are blooming, redbuds are beautiful, birds building nests and laying eggs, and our menagerie is fulfilling their destiny. The geese are nesting. Ahh, the geese!

They arrived in a cardboard box through the U.S. Postal Service about a year ago, this thundering herd of geese. Namely three Sebastopol goslings, which have since become like full grown Geese, two males and a female, depending on whom is making the assessment. The “Rancherette” presumes the opposite of my viewpoint. We are sure about the one named Indie, a gander and Shya, a female. I find it odd that a female goose does not have a specific gender name other than a “goose.” The one named Bailey, is the one in question, a “goose” or a gander? But it is a gender neutral name.

Regardless, they frequent our lives on a daily basis, honking, nibbling at the pants legs, flapping their wings in a not-so-subtle way of discouraging your presence or demanding your attention.

  flapping wings

They can untie your shoes, strip the cushion ties from the patio chairs, scare the bejabbers out of you and clearly intimidate you, all the while creating an atmosphere of amusement.  During the mating season, this becomes much more prevalent. You do not want to turn your back on these obstinate, two-legged, pillow-making waterfowl.  Things could get ugly in a heartbeat.

When they were younger they were trained to go into their pen on command. Utter the words, “Geeses, let’s go home” and they would immediately walk ever so slowly into their pen. Actually, they do not walk, they waddle. They stumble over any obstacle in their path, be it a pine cone or a tree root. But the going home part, not so much now they are grown. Resistance has become the norm. Hence, the pants-leg gnawing. We use a child’s rake to guide them home. They will wrest it from your hands, believing it is an orange-colored predator and will bite it to death. If your finger is substituted , they can gnaw ‘til it’s raw. They make excellent guard geese. We already have Poodle Home Security. Now we have a subsidiary company, as well, the Geese Patrol.

Much like the Postal Service, rain, sleet nor snow will not discourage them from their appointed duties, like  swimming in their ¼ acre pond no matter the temperature. They do not mingle with the chickens or dogs, although there is occasional  interaction between the pens. They are very curious birds and intent on observing everything you do.  Always watching, they do not miss anything. The kennel dogs roam freely throughout their portion of the back yard, taking care not to violate the demarcation line next to the fence that separates one from the other.

Alfie, our resident Airedale troublemaker, who has a personal relationship with hardheadedness, can report first hand the effects of encroaching too close to the fence. The other kennel dogs must have observed that infraction and thus, are very reluctant to repeat Alfie’s action. If you ask Alfie, she will show you her scars.

So, here on the Fuzzy Chicken Farm, there is an assortment of poultry and canines. Until the cardboard boxes arrived last year, it was a peaceful co-existence.  We still co-exist; however, it is a delicate arrangement. After all, they are the royalty of the Fuzzy Chicken Farm.

Spring is springing. Beware of cardboard boxes arriving in the mail. It could be a thundering herd of geese. Honk! Honk!

The Geese say, “Early Spring”

Well today is the famous (or infamous) Groundhog Day. This is the day when Punxsutawney Phil, from the city by the same name, burst forth from his lair after hibernating over the winter months. Supposedly, if he sees his shadow, the winter season will last six more weeks.  Of course, if he doesn’t, then winter is over and spring is forthcoming.  I’m here to tell you that the little critter from the north did see his shadow this morning.

Living here in North Texas is not the same as in the utterly cold Northeast or Midwest, but, I do not want to see any more winter. I bet my counterparts in those areas of the country are in agreement with me on this. I have a different method for predicting the forthcoming spring as you will see below.

These days, Punxsutawney Phil is treated like “royalty,” so says, William Deeley, president of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club  But when Groundhog Day first came to Pennsylvania, that likely wasn’t the case. “It was a social party,” Deeley says. “They basically got together and instead of him being the honoree, he was the entrée.” Yes, that means they “probably ate the groundhog,” Deeley clarified.

I don’t know about you but I do not fancy eating a groundhog (woodchuck), although I believe Alaskans living off the grid fancy these rodents as a delicacy. However, being raised in the piney woods of East Texas, I have been known to eat squirrel. So I guess it is appropriate.

Around our place in North Texas, we do not have groundhogs. I am thankful for that. No shadow-seeking critter for me. However, I do have an abundance of gophers. The critters have little mounds all over my yard.  Since we have nine dogs, seventy-five+ chickens, Sebastopol Geese AND numerous neighborhood free-ranging chickens, I am reluctant to put any chemical on the ground for fear of the animals ingesting the stuff and leading to their demise. So I spread repellant. It is supposed to help in the relocation of these animals. Doesn’t work. And in the rare case where it did help, the moles just seemed to like it even so.

I am wondering if I could convince a gopher to forecast the weather. Naaa…, but maybe one of our Sebastopol Geese? We have three of these beautiful birds. Adorned with their long feathers, they look like a bride in a wedding dress.

Three geeses

They have about a ½ acre to roam complete with a pond and other features to occupy their time. The “Rancherette” gave them names upon their arrival here at the Fuzzy Chicken Farm. “Indie”, for Independence, “Shya” for shyness, and “Bailey”, just because it sounded good. They are smart and know their names. When it is time for them to be put up at night, we simply call out, “Geeses, let’s go home”. They usually go straight into their goose house.

So I’m betting I could train them to predict the weather. Of course, they love cold weather and cold water, so this might be a challenge. Even in the middle of the last cold snap here in North Texas, (15°) they did not falter about going into the pond. However, it was frozen and about all they could do was to ice skate. But the moment the pond defrosted, cold as it was, they were smack dab in the middle, dunking their heads and throwing water over their back.

I’m going to work on weather forecasting by geese. We know for sure that Indie is a Gander (male) and Shia is a Dame, (female) and Bailey, well I am not sure. Sometimes the goose acts like a Gander and sometimes acts like a Dame.

Anyway, I decided that training them to prognosticate is not so hard. I laid it on the line yesterday that if a goose egg was discovered in their pen it would mean an early spring. Well, guess what? The very first goose egg was found this morning. Yea, an early spring.

Goose egg

The challenge for you is to determine which egg it is.

Forecasting weather is a complex and serious matter. It takes many years of study and dedication to get it right, most of the time. The longer one prognosticates, the more experienced they become. Take Punxsutawney Phil, for example, his knowledge dates back to 1887.

But geese have been laying eggs and hatching goslings since time began and certainly after the great flood. You remember, two-by-two. It stands to reason that laying eggs is in their genes. this can be used as a prediction for an early spring. We’ll see how this works out.

Interestingly, the young groundhogs are known as “chucklings” which is what I am doing about now. All this begs the question,

“How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could
if a woodchuck could chuck wood!

None, he saw his shadow and scurried back inside his warm den.

Have a great “early” spring.

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I awoke this morning to a dastardly chill in the air. When I went to bed last night (long before the New Year arrived) it was 24° and expected to drop even further. Now my friends in the Northeast may be saying, “What’s your problem with 24°?” Well, I live in Texas where it is possible for one to experience four seasons all in the same day, depending upon which part of the state you reside. Me, I’m in North Texas and I can tell you we are in the winter season. It is cold at 24°.

So, when I did finally awake at the distasteful hour of seven a.m., the temperature had dropped to 18°. The weather prognosticators have this saying, “remember the five P’s. Protect People, Pets, Pipes, and Plants. Sounds like good advice to me.

Since out here on the Fuzzy Chicken Farm, we have a motley, hodgepodge, eclectic order of a pack of dogs, a gaggle of geese, and a flock of chickens, we must prepare them for a cold winter’s night.

Now the CEO of the Fuzzy Chicken Farm, i.e., “the Rancherette” , has some significant notions about the feathered friends. Of course these poultry participants are grouped according to their gender, (illegal) the color of their feathers, (illegal) their nationality, (illegal) and the number of toes, (I think illegal)). Because of the grouping, some (those that have crests that cover their eyes), require more attention than do others. (Probably illegal). Me, I just call them chickens and run the dogs.

The dogs are protected from the elements with indoor kennels and radiator type heaters. Earlier this week I wrapped all the outside pipes and placed the fragile plants in the garage, (except the pineapple plant, lost it to the freeze) and prepared all the coops with windbreaks so as to protect the birds from the wind chill. Inside the coop buildings are radiator type heaters that will keep the temperature above freezing. We have outdoor pens as well. These birds are of the more hardy breeds and require less maintenance. Their pens also received windbreaks.

So this morning, at 18°, the “Rancherette” and “the “Rancherwriterpoet” ventured out in the frigid temperature to soothe the birds, calm the dogs and appease the geese. Did I fail to mention the first two P’s in the order of P’s, was to Protect People? I wore long Johns (where did that name come from?), layered my clothing, put on my gloves, and set out to the task at hand, with the “Rancherette” tagging along behind me, saying, “It’s not too bad out here”. She is not native to Texas, she comes from a distant land, Memphis, I think. Tennessee not Egypt. They think differently in Tennessee.

Calming the dogs is a more difficult task. They run freely each day outside their pens and they like it when it is cold. They don’t want to come back to their inside pens, preferring to romp wildly about the back spaces. Of course, it takes them longer and I get colder. The geese are quite adapted to cold weather. They like to swim in the pond even at this cold temperature. I could not appease them this morning. They could not swim today, so they ice skated. But, I was cold. The outdoor chickens did not seem to mind the cold either. However, it was impossible for any outdoor animal to drink water this morning. I had to change out all the waterers due to frozen conditions. That made me even colder. I suppose if I had feathers or fur I might not be so cold.

The temp is expected to stay in the middle twenties until the latter part of this week and people will ask, “what’s going on at your place,” . To which I will say, “Oh, nothing much, I am cold.” To which my friends in South Florida will be agreeing with me. I can say, unequivocally, I am ready for the next season to enter North Texas. Winter has lasted long enough. In the meantime I will be lounging around in my long johns in the warmth of my recliner. It is a New Year, the sun is out this morning, and I hope each of you have a healthy, prosperous and A Happy year ahead.

DENALI AND THE RAINBOW BRIDGE

Once again, we are faced with a piece of our heart broken. “Denali, Snow on the Summit”, a wonderful male standard poodle, has passed on. He was approaching 8 ½ years. I remember when he came to us as a 3 month old puppy. Although he was never shown, from the beginning he knew how to strut like a champion. He was a brilliant dog, very playful, a bit shy around strangers until he warmed up to you, but he could steal your heart. He had a stuffed duck that we called his baby. When I fed him, I would say, “Nalli”, time to feed your baby. He would pick up the stuffed duck and place it in his food dish. I regret I never got a picture of that. He loved to play ball. We have in our yard a Jolly Ball, typically used by horses, and several of our dogs play with that, but Denali was the best at grabbing the attached rope and swinging it around his head. He would stand there with it in his mouth and dare you to come and get it.

Once, our little black Cairn terrier, Grendel, got out of his kennel while Denali enjoying his run outside. Being the alpha dog that he is, and thinks he is Super Dog, this ten pound canine attacked this fully grown 40 pound Denali. This is where my instinct failed me. I reached in to separate the two dogs. Denali, fully, believing that he was biting Grendel, defended himself and bit me on the hand. The water hose did the trick, however. I have a scar that I will always treasure for it will forever remind me of this beautiful dog.

When Denali was growing up, he never quite mastered the technique of hiking a hind leg to “mark” his territory. Thus he constantly had yellow front legs. He most times “missed “his target.He would be embarrassed if he knew I told on him. But he eventually grasped the gist of the routine procedure.

Denali and his bottle

Twice this year we have seen beloved pets cross over the rainbow bridge. And now, Denali joins Munchie and Prada to play forever. I placed his “baby” beside his head. As I said before, I understand it, but I will never get used to it.

Go rest over the rainbow bridge, Denali, my Santa Dog

 

Denali as Santa

 

RIP, DEAR PRADA

Yesterday was Father’s Day. It turned out to be an eventful day around our house. I received the customary phone calls and the usual assortment of Father’s Day cards. And I am so grateful for my children and grandchildren. So, thanks to all my family and especially to my “Rancherette” wife.    However, there was a moment of sadness yesterday. If you are a pet lover as we are, then perhaps you may understand. We have many animals around our home. Chickens, geese, dogs, and they all seem to cohabitate with each other, within certain parameters of course. We love each and every one of them. So it is with that certain sadness we grieve a bit over the loss of one.

Prada, a beloved standard poodle, lost her bout with cancer. She was two weeks shy of her 10th birthday. She was an exceptionally sweet dog with a like disposition. In all of her days, I never heard her bark. She never growled. If there was ever a dog that smiled, she was the one. She was shy, yet playful in her own way. Never a cross word with any other dog. She was small for her breed and never had puppies.  She loved peppermints as do all of our dogs. However, she was terrific at “helping” to unwrap the mint. When we let the dogs run from their kennels in the afternoon she would hang around in order to get an “extra”.  It was almost like a game with her. I’ll miss that.

I do not know God’s plan for animals. He certainly must have enough love for each. It is with a certainty that dogs bring about a sense of belonging in the world. They serve a purpose. In my life I have had many dogs and a few cats. I have loved each and every one and each has brought joy to my life in one form or fashion. The remaining dogs in our kennels must sense a loss in some sort of way. I suppose they grieve a bit as well. So this new day breaks and our lives continue and the days move forward.  This will happen again and again. I will never get used to it. RIP, dear Prada.

SHARK ATTACK

The old floor-sucking, thunderously noise making, rolling piece of menacing machinery has finally died. Alfie, the resident Airedale, is celebrating. Before it passed from existence, It was interesting to see her peek her nose through her doggie door and remain alert in case that thing made its way in her direction.

We made our way to the local big box store (no name, they refused to pay for the commercial) for our regularly scheduled food replenishment trip. We stumbled into the housewares section on purpose and studied the shelves for a replacement floor-sucking, thunderously noise making, rolling piece of menacing machinery. The “Rancherette” studied the machinery, the ”Rancherwriterpoet” studied the prices. We eventually came to agreement on which one to purchase.

This got me to thinking. I remember when I was a child (a long time ago) when the Kirby salesman came to the house.  He would break out a fancy machine, colorful and all that stuff. He had numerous accessories to go along with this remarkable contraption. He smooth talked my mother all the while putting a piece of carpet on the floor and then dirt on the piece of carpet. He then proceeded to push buttons and this machine came to life. It sucked the life,uuh, dirt from that piece of carpet.  Honestly I was fascinated. We never had any such mechanism at our house. My mother explained to him that we had no carpet in the house, only linoleum floors. The broom worked just fine.No matter, he said, this modern 20th century product would take care of all our cleaning needs.  My mother did not buy the vacuum cleaner. But the exhibition was phenomenal for this ten year old boy.vacuum-sales

Fast forward to our excursion to the big box store (again no name, i.e. refusal to pay)

With the selection made we made our way to the more important part of the store. The food section! The grocery basket was not as full as usual except for the new-fangled vacuum cleaner. I did manage to sneak in some chocolate without the “Rancherette” noticing.

Obviously, the new machine was in desperate need of assembly unlike the vacuum cleaner of old. In that day, the machine came fully assembled. The salesman made sure of that. He even gave a demonstration of how to use the machine. Come to think of it, most every type of machinery, or furniture came fully assembled. But that was then and this is now. I purchased a new riding mower recently and most of it had to be assembled. Of course by me, otherwise it would cost an additional $75. Well, I digress.

We return home and unload the groceries. While the “Rancherette” puts away the groceries, I remove the vacuum cleaner from the carton with much difficulty. The machine has wheels but only after removal from the carton. This thing weighs a ton. One needs special tools to even open the box. The directions said to read the assembly instructions carefully. The only way you can read them is very carefully. First, you must find the correct language. The instructions are on a folded sheet with four languages. Unfolding the pamphlet is like refolding a map. (Who uses a map anyway?)

Finally I find the assembly instructions in my native language. Once I unfold the map, uuuh, directions, I am told to check all the pieces that are supposed to come with the package. With all the parts scattered across the floor, and needing screwdrivers and who knows what else, I discover I should apply to the local junior college and take a course in vacuum cleaner assembly. It is probably a non-credit course, but I don’t care. I do not plan on making a career of assembling vacuum cleaners.  I don’t think this is as simple as programming an IPhone. If you have reached the age of kindergarten status, then you know how to program an IPhone. Assembling a vacuum cleaner?  College degree!

Eventually, the process is complete.shark-machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m thinking I may very well pay extra for assembly next time, except the big box store (still no pay) does not offer that choice.

And now Alfie, poor Alfie, must now turn her attention to a very different floor-sucking, thunderously noise making, rolling piece of menacing machinery. This one glides across the floor, as if swimming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCfWHqrYUqo

Not breaking the water just gliding along, still floor sucking but swimmingly. Alfie must now be very fearful of this Shark. She could wind up being Shark bait. It reminds me of another shark song. I wonder if Bobby Darin had Alfie in mind?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SEllHMWkXEU

Do not go in the water!

The Travelin’ Fuzzy Band

I, being the bus driver for the Fuzzy Chicken Band concluded a bus trip this past Sunday with the band in Comanche Texas.  It was a two day gig with four performances.

 As with any trip we take, the bus must be prepared for the journey.  The “Rancherette” and the “Rancherwriterpoet” had packed their bags the night before. We typically wait until the last minute before departure to inform the Fuzzy Chicken Band. They get so antsy and uptight that we go to all lengths to keep them in the dark.  However, they must have suspected something was up. Probably it was the baths and blow dry the day before.

You could hear cackling cries of “road trip, road trip”.  Even the chickens who free range next door got excited. Their enthusiasm created more uproar around the neighborhood. Mind you now, the neighborhood fowl do not travel, except into the dog yard and that usually is not a good thing. Luka, our little rescue Italian Greyhound with a hitch in his get-a-long, can still chase down a free range chicken in record time. If that chicken cannot fly back over the fence, well, chicken nuggets.

All the band members were raring to go, except for Cowboy the Cochin. He was still miffed because I did not get him a new ride as he suggested last trip. He wanted to know, “what’s in it for me?”  “Ho hum, another show, another award”.   Reluctantly He agreed to go if I would program the satellite radio to his Bluetooth. Seems he is a huge fan of the Traveling Wilburys with Tom Petty and George Harrison. He loves “The End of the Line”.  You can listen here if you are so inclined.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwqhdRs4jyA

If you listen closely you can hear Cowboy singing along.

Well it’s alright, riding around in this Ford
Well, it’s alright as long as I’m not being bored.
Well, it’s alright doing the best that I can
Well, it’s alright as long as I’m pleasing my fans

Of course that’s Cowboy’s version. He’s got more but I refused to include any out of respect for my readers and of course, the Traveling Wilburys.

So bags were packed, the bus loaded, the first class quarters readied for the Fuzzy Chicken Band and the traveling music is ready on their Bluetooth.

They were fluffed and primped and ready for the big trip and of course the performances. This would be the first time for two performances each day in a two day show. The manager, AKA “The Rancherette” had them at their best. She gets the most from these performers. You should hear her at times. She cajoles them; sweet talks them, bribes them with treats and in general persuades them to listen to her coaching. Notice I said persuades; I’ll leave it at that. But me thinks she could probably coach a hockey team with her sweet demeanor.She  taking notes, I’m staying clear.img_7121

On Saturday, before the judging began, The Fuzzy Chicken Band made the rounds meeting and greeting the other performers. They met new friends, renewed old acquaintances and in general were on their best behavior.  It is really interesting when the band jams with other bands. They make beautiful music together. Especially since they all speak in different dialects and foreign languages. The little Cochin Sisters performed admirably. A couple of newbies made their first appearance and did well. The “Rancherette”  is always on the lookout for new talent for the Fuzzy Chicken Band. Cowgirl did her best in spite of Cowboy’s lack of harmony. I think Cowboy was still not on his game. Sunday brough about two more shows and Cowboy’s attitude was a tad better.

The accommodations for the performers at Comanche Crossroads were excellent. img_7114They were the best the Fuzzy Chicken Band had ever experienced for these poultry shows. The staff, Dwayne and Melody,  are to be commended for their first-rate adherence to perfection.They took very good care of the humans with free donuts, cold drinks and a genuine attention to detail. As the bus driver for the Fuzzy Chicken Band I’m always looking for free food. It is a sure bet the the manager, AKA The Rancherette” will solicit an invitation to the next show in Comanche. The bus driver seconds that motion. Cowboy, not so sure.

Well, the trip home was a quiet one. After four performances this little band was very tired. Cowboy kept his mouth shut, at least low enough where we could not hear his complaints. I’m thinking now that it could be because “Zorba, not the Greek”, did not make this trip. The two of them usually collaborate on a duet at least twice during the trip. The two newbies tried, but they are too young. Yep, that’s it. No duet! Maybe next time, Cowboy.

No rest for the Fuzzy Chicken Band. They have already begun rehearsing for the next show in Beaumont and looking forward to jamming with other bands. Hope they get it together before we travel and not while we are traveling. I’m keeping very quiet about this next trip. Do not want to start any hubbub with the divas or the divo.

The Fuzzy Chicken Band sends HAPPY VALENTINE to all. And especially to the bus driver’s best helpers.

img_7125

Is It Christmas Yet?

Ever have that feeling about not wanting to get up in the morning? One day this past week, it was my desire to stay in bed a little longer than usual. But we have animals to take care of and they usually do not want to stay in bed. The dogs in the kennels do not seem to mind the cold or that it finally warmed up.  And the chickens could care less. They are ready no matter what. The humans, not so much! So out of the warm bed I arise. I stumble to the kitchen, turn the switch on for the coffee pot, (the “Rancherette” is sweet enough to prepare the ingredients the night before), put on my long johns and make ready to placate the aforementioned animals.  I do insist on having a steaming cup of coffee before I brave the elements.

Having a touch of the “I don’t wanna’s” this morning, I slowly began to move around. I am feeling the effects of a cold I contracted from a recent chicken show we attended in Shawnee, Oklahoma.  Then, the “Rancherette” comes bouncing from the bedroom full of vim and vigor. She wonders, “How are you feeling?” I mumble “OK”. Probably, not too convincingly I might add.

So after my jolt of caffeine, I make my way to the dog kennels. Recently, the morning temps fell down into the upper teens, and with that, their water dishes turn to ice. This was my first clue that winter is approaching. With the dogs fed, ice in their water broken and fully attended to, I turn my attention to appeasing the chickens. Ever try to appease a chicken? Good luck with that. The “Rancherette” usually comes along to save the day. She definitely knows how to appease a chicken. She is in the chicken appeasement business. I’m not sure but I think they understand the “bach,bach,bach” of my voice and I am convinced they really know what the “Rancherette” says. I am pretty sure she understands what they say, too. Me? I don’t think so. Now when it comes to the dogs, I am much more enlightened by their “voices”. I fully understand them. I speak dog, fluently. I practice every day. However, one could possibly acquire some of the characteristics of these fine feathered fowl (maybe osmosis).  For example, I catch myself crowing on occasion. Nothing out of the ordinary, that is until they crow in return. Scary!

For those of you who do not know, the “Rancherette” raises show chickens. Silkies and Bantam Cochins are her favorite breeds.Both breeds are also very funny birds. Most of these birds have names, such as Mick (after Mick Jagger) Bella, Cowboy, Cowgirl, Smoky Bear, Miss Peggy, (she has a peg leg) and so on. Thus one can become attached. (Her name shall remain anonymous).

However, when it comes to our kennel dogs, that’s another story. They are retired show dogs, from the Standard Poodle line, living out their retirement days. Apollo, Ty, Denali, Grendel, Prada, Andora, Stella, and so on. They all have a very extended name, fitting the royalty of the breed, but way to much for this post.Then there is Alfie, a hitchhiking female Airedale. “nuff, said.

.So I am up and “at’em” this morning. This Christmas Eve, Eve! Got all my presents wrapped for the “Rancherette” and placed in a conspicuous space where she cannot miss them and this in turn tempts her a bit. No shaking the packages or X-rays allowed. This is premeditated on my part. Now that the gifting is completed (and a day early, I might add), I turn my attention to checking my social media pages.

I see numerous and varied accounts of people and their activities on social media pages. Hidden among the many postings, I see some with treasured memories of years past. For others it brings sadness and a dread this time of year. Still others delight in the many celebratory events of Christmas.

I see posts from a varied assortment of people, from my friends and others I do not know. First and foremost are the many varied posts from all of the chicken friends on social media. There is a considerable amount of “chicken speak” in these posts. (i.e., the “Rancherette”) I have not yet learned much of that language.

Then others are depicted wrapping Christmas gifts and sharing their experiences. Some are wondering if other family members will make it home for Christmas. Some are showing the results of a toy-drive for kids. There are pictures of children sharing their love through homemade Christmas gifts with nursing home residents. Some use the social media pages to outline their Christmas list. (Personally, I’m not sure this works well, but give them credit for ingenuity) Let me know if it does.

I see posts of young children sitting on the lap of Santa, some crying, some in awe and others readily sounding off their wish list. Obviously, they have all been good, wink, wink!

I see posts describing recipes for Christmas Delights and I admit they all look inviting. These are very interesting.

Then there are still a few who either challenge the presidential election results or laud the outcome. To these very involved people, I say, Merry Christmas to both groups.

The closer it gets to Christmas, the more posts we see about the event. Not all will be about a religious phenomenon and yet it is my opinion that it was never about a secular circumstance. It was and always will be a celebration of the birth of Christ, whether one chooses to believe that or not.

I find it fascinating that our animals depend on us for their survival while many humans do not depend on God for anything. In their own way, these animals say thanks every day, a tail wag here and a “bach,bach, there. Would it not be great if the human race could acknowledge a better understanding of peace and joy on this earth?

I grant you that we live in a free society and thus are completely free to agree or disagree. However, I for one am proud to say I believe the Biblical account of the Christ Child born for the salvation of mankind.

Thus I can say unequivocally,

Merry Christmas.

The New Doggie Door

In case you may not have seen my original piece, titled “Uses for a Pickup Truck”, posted in April 2015 Archives of rancherwriterpoet.com, then perhaps you could read it for the background.

The storyline is this: The “Rancherette” brought home a “hitchhiker”, an Airedale that “supposedly” opened the front door of my pickup, jumped in and “hitchhiked” home. I’m pretty sure the “Rancherette” knows better than to pick up hitchhikers, however, one look into the eyes of this Airedale and she was hooked. I still have my doubts.  We later named her, Alfie because of the strange resemblance to the “Alien Life Form”. We know this character as “ALF”, from the TV series in the late ‘80’s.

Alf

                                                     Enduring Eyes

The alien is described as  a “protagonist, an orange-haired, pint-sized 299-year-old space alien with an aardvark-like nose and a propensity for mischief and comic sarcasm”. That’s our Alfie, except for the pint-size and the age.

When Alfie first arrived in the spring of 2015, she ate the wood trim around the entry door, the wood casings on the custom built bench, the drywall around the windows, and anything else that would fit into her mouth. She had a proclivity for chewing anything. I first thought the “Rancherette” had brought home a beaver. We could not keep any kind of bedding for her comfort; it became something with which to play with not sleep in. She, after all, was only fourteen weeks old.  Alfie on the rug

So now at 18 months of age, she has matured (?) somewhat. Of course she sleeps on the area rug. It’s a good thing it is large, or it would become fodder. She isn’t quite as destructive as she once was. The trim and drywall seems to be untouchable now, however, when we look for new toys to occupy her time, we describe them as a thirty minute toy or perhaps a forty-five minute toy, meaning this is about how long it will last before she destroys it, too.  Forget any toy we deem to last an hour. There is no such toy that is indestructible for Alfie. Not happening! Some maturity, huh?

However, one thing she seemed at which to be familiar was the doggie door. Because we already had Apollo, a Standard Poodle living in the house, we obviously had a doggie door. Alfie, being the smart dog she was, took to the door as though she had been using it all her life. She is definitely a smart canine. Her enclosed backyard opens into the main yard and is divided with a chain link gate. She quickly learned how to open the gate latch. We had to put a fastener to prevent her getting out without our knowledge. (Maybe she really did open the pickup door, hmmm) However, for 18 months now she has used the doggie door, so much so, that she has broken the frame and destroyed the flap from the use.

So, we get this new doggie door. No problem, right? I beg to differ. Alfie does not like change. I once moved her food and water bowls from one side of the room to another. It was two more days before she wanted to eat and drink from that location.

The “Rancherette” decided to relocate her office from the shared room with Alfie. If you know Airedales, you can certainly understand that. For another two days, Alfie stood in a far corner of the room before she finally ventured back to the gate. This gate separates her from the main house. We had hoped she would acclimate herself to the main house, however, that was wishful thinking. She definitely has an idiosyncrasy about change.

We love this creature. She keeps us in stitches every day. She is very playful and energetic, loves to aggravate the “Rancherette’s” Silkie chickens through the fence and in general rewards us with much pleasure. Her antics are hilarious. She can search your pockets and pick them clean, will chew on my shirt buttons looking for “cookies”.

Pocket 3

Her vocabulary starts and ends with “cookies.” As for the new doggie door, well she doesn’t like it one bit.

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                                                       img_7029-2

 

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