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Monday, November 28, 2011

Hunkering down...

Maggie "hunkering down" last February

I've seen the satellite images of the storm that's supposed to hit us tonight and was very much convinced that we needed to prepare. So, we've spent most of the afternoon making sure all the critters have a roof over their heads and shelter from the cold rain we've had all day...which is supposed to turn into sleet and snow during the night.

We started first at the barn. Got a temporary fix on a stall door and repaired one of the handles on the big barn door so we could latch it and keep the horses from getting in the hall of the barn. There's five stables now open for four horses and I'm betting three of them won't be used! Rose and Angel will bunk together and I wouldn't be surprised if Jasper and Shiloh also share a stall.

Don is headed over right now to check on Rose. She's our oldest horse at 26 years and we're concerned about her getting a chill (if she hasn't already). This could prove to be a very difficult winter for Rose.

After the horses were happily munching hay in the barn lot we headed back to the house and prepared a warm place on the front porch for the three dogs (Angus, Teagan and Caoilainn) that sleep in the front yard at night. We fixed an enclosure on a protected corner of the wrap around porch and filled it with hay. Aislainn and Tadhg immediately jumped in the hay and made themselves cozy little nests and curled up. I was happy to see them do it as it reassured me that Angus, Teagan and Caoilainn would be okay tonight.

Next it was time to tend to the chickens, ducks and Elvis. This mainly consisted of making sure their houses were draft proof and giving them dry hay. The hens, Aunt Bernice and Aunt Bertha, were very happily exploring the hay in their house when I came inside.

Now we've got a fire going in the fireplace and I'm going to make some venison spaghetti to warm our bellies!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

It's a three dog night...or four...or...


Brrrrr...yesterday's fierce wind and lingering rain has made for some chilly weather around here! We've all pretty much hunkered down in the house all day snuggling up to one another to stay warm.

I lit a fire in the fireplace this afternoon and have spent most of my day trying to convince the dogs it is okay to go out in the rain to potty and then drying them off with towels when they come back inside. Most of the dogs love the towel, but Miss Aislinn definitely does not. I guess she prefers to be wet!

Poor Don went out to the barn this evening to tend to the horses and came back soaked, tired and grumpy! He's in the shower now and I'll fix him a nice plate of Thanksgiving leftovers when he comes downstairs. Then I'll cozy up by the fire and browse through some of my Christmas craft books until I grow sleepy and head upstairs to bed.

Hopefully there'll be room in the bed for me as I figure it's going to be a three...or four dog night, which makes for a very warm, but crowded, bed!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Storm's a brewing...


Since yesterday I've been watching a large storm heading our way from the west. It's been slow moving, but appeared to be getting very close when I went out to feed Elvis, the ducks and chickens earlier than normal this afternoon.

Since this front is supposed to be bringing us colder temperatures (we even have a chance of snow flurries!) I decided I'd better get some firewood into the dry garage before it started raining. I got my little garden wheelbarrow and proceeded to pile it high.

My accomplice, our cat Siobhan (AKA Fat Girl), and I made a discovery while at the woodpile. It was a gooey, icky fungus growing on a large piece of Sycamore trunk. Of course I just had to take a photo of it and hurry in to research it online. It's rather yucky isn't it?

Turns out it is a Auricularia Cornea, commonly known as Wood Ear and quite edible when cooked. They are very popular in Asian cooking (usually steamed or in soup).

It turns purplish with age, so I'm guessing the one I found today is ready for the retirement home!

Wood Ear also has medicinal qualities and is used medicinally for many ailments, including cancer, fatigue and cardiovascular disease. It is high in calcium, iron, carotene and protein. This information and more is available at http://www.medicineatyourfeet.com/auriculariaspp.html.

This is one of the things I love about living out in the country. I just never know, when I step out my back door, what I'm going to find and what I'm going to learn about it!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Spur of the moment Thanksgiving...

After the memorial service on Wednesday for Hunter and Brittany's little Eli I didn't plan on having Thanksgiving, especially since I woke up with a headache yesterday morning. I just wanted to rest, but that wasn't in the cards.

My son and daughter-in-law called and said they were coming over since everyone at his Dad's house was exhausted from their harrowing week dealing with their loss. Thank goodness I keep my pantry fairly well stocked!

I ended up cooking a 14 pound turkey, homemade succotash, yeast rolls, cornbread dressing, gravy and had pecan and pumpkin pie. Dug around and found a can of cranberry sauce and Don made his famous candied sweet potatoes (so yummy with pineapple in them).

I'm thankful they came over now. We had a pleasant time and everyone had plenty to eat. Jesse said they even saw five wild turkeys on their way over, which seemed like a nice touch for Thanksgiving!

According to Jesse, it's all good...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Drake, our "old man" dog...


Thought I would introduce Drake, our oldest dog, this evening. He's a registered Black Labrador Retriever...the only dog we have that has papers! He's a sweet, gentle dog who knows some neat tricks like speaking, begging on command and shaking hands. Drake is quite a gentleman!

We've known Drake since he was a puppy, but he hasn't always lived with us. He was my sister-in-law's dog for several years, but she had to bring him to us about six-seven years ago. Drake is now 12 years old and, as you can see in the photo, he's really showing his age.

Drake suffers from severe arthritis and takes a daily supplement for it. He's also given an anti-inflammatory when needed, which seems to be more often as the days go by. Drake is also becoming very absent minded and hard of hearing.

When Don fed the dogs last night Drake didn't get up to go eat. That worried us, because Drake LOVES to eat! The poor old fellow wasn't even reacting when Don called him, so we decided to feed him in the house (he usually eats in the garage). By mixing some canned food with his kibble Don was able to get him to eat a little bit of his food.

When we went to bed Drake didn't come upstairs with us. We were sitting in bed fretting over Drake's behavior when I realized that he'd slept all day long...he didn't go out for a potty break until Don got home from work. We were very afraid that last night might BE Drake's last night. Don even got up at some point in the wee hours to check on him.

As you can imagine, we were quite relieved to wake up this morning with Drake sleeping on the bedroom floor. He's been better today, not quite so confused and seems to have his appetite back...evidenced by his begging treats every time I've been in the kitchen!

Perhaps it was just the change of weather. We had storms move in during the night and Drake may have just been achy and tired last night due to the barometric changes. Whatever it was, I am grateful that he is feeling better because it would hurt my heart to much to lose Drake right now.

When the time comes, and I know it's coming, my wish is that Drake slip away peacefully in his sleep (right now he is sprawled out on the love seat snoozing with Conan).

I also hope that he sees one more Christmas...or more!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Horses had a visitor...


Yesterday after Don fed the horses we heard the dogs barking. I went to the window to check on them and noticed someone walking across the hayfield toward the horse pen. Then I noticed something odd...there were FIVE horses at the fence. We only have four horses!

Don and I immediately knew what was going on. A neighbor of ours recently got a horse and has been keeping it tied in his yard. He doesn't have a fenced pasture. Obviously his horse had gotten loose and trotted over to greet our horses.

It was also obvious that the neighbor was not having any luck catching his horse, so Don hopped in the truck to go help. By the time he got to the hayfield the horse had taken off across the field, up the road past the neighbor's house and was in another neighbor's cornfield. Don was able to catch the horse by bribing it with an ear of corn.

He had a bit of a chat with the neighbor about the situation and learned that they have a pasture up the road. They will be taking the horse there as soon as they sell the stud horse that's currently in that pasture. I hope that happens soon because the horse has no shelter and the other day I saw their pit bull tugging the horse by the rope around its neck. I pulled in and blew the horn, but no one was home. Fortunately, I distracted the dog, but don't doubt that it went right back to aggravating the horse when I left.

At least the horse had a good trot around the neighborhood and our horses were happy to visit across the fence!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A heavy heart tonight...

Elijah Davis Reynolds, August 24, 2011-November 19, 2011

Earlier today my daughter Nicole called with heart breaking news. Her younger brother, Hunter, and his girlfriend lost their precious three-month-old son this morning. My heart goes out to Hunter, Brittany and my kids' dad and step mom. I got to visit and hold little Eli shortly after he was born. He was a beautiful baby and will be greatly missed.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fluctuations and acclimation...


We had a lovely sunset this afternoon, courtesy of Mother Nature and airplane contrails which made some interesting patterns in the sky. Just one of the perks (probably the only one) of living south of a major airport.

Mother Nature has really been busy doing her job lately by blowing most of the leaves off the trees. I can hear the windchimes on the front porch as I type. The wind has also blown in some chilly weather. We fell into the 20s last night for the first time this Autumn. A brisk wind with 28 degree weather can give one quite a chill, but I guess I am quickly becoming acclimated to the cooler temperatures.

When Don got home from work around 11:30 p.m. last night, he walked the dogs and then came in to put on his jammies. When he came back into the kitchen he was wearing a quilted flannel shirt. I asked him if he was cold and he told me it was 56 degrees upstairs. Downstairs I'd built a fire earlier in the evening and, while a bit cool, was doing okay in my short sleeved teeshirt.

HA...Don checked the downstairs thermostat and it was OFF. The temperature downstairs was 60 (thank you fireplace). There was a time I would have been freezing at that temperature, but no longer. Of course, if I do get a chill, I'll just put on some long sleeves.

We're still having some fluctuations in the weather and should be into the low 70s by Sunday, with no sign of dipping into the 20s again any time soon. Guess that means I can keep the heat off into December!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

While I was gone...


While I was gone to Texas to celebrate my big blue-eyed grandson's fourth birthday Don stayed home and tried to burn down the house! Actually, he had a minor grass fire on Sunday and I just happened to call him in the middle of it.

He was mowing in the side yard when the lawnmower caught fire. It was very windy and the grass fire quickly spread toward the house, but Don managed to put it out before any damage was done. My two huge lavender bushes went up in flames, as did my Sweet Shrub. The broccoli, raspberry canes and blueberry bushes were spared, thank goodness!

It was extremely windy in Texas too, more so than usual, which made having a birthday party at the park quite an experience. We had to forego most of the decorations, but I don't think the kids minded. They had the park to play in, a bounce house to bounce in (personally, I think we should have had the party in the bounce house) and plenty of birthday cake and ice cream to eat.

The party was on Saturday. When I arrived at Jude's house he asked me if it was his real birthday and I explained to him that his real birthday was on Monday and we were having his party early. He's a smart little guy...when someone at the party asked him how old he was, Jude replied, "Still three".

I'm happy to report that Jude is now officially four-years-old, Don has "officially" retired from burning things up and he is now back at work. That means I get the computer back...finally!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Go West...


I'm very busy today, but had to grab and minute and blog. Tomorrow I'll be heading west to attend my precious grandson's fourth birthday. Every year my mom, sister and I go to Texas for the weekend to help Jude celebrate his birthday. It's so good to see my daughter, grandson and son-in-law even for a short time. I just don't get to see them enough!

So today I am bustling about trying to pack, find birthday gifts that I'd bought earlier in the year and tucked away, not to mention trying to get the house situated so Don can find clean socks and something to eat!

I won't be blogging until I get back...possibly Sunday evening, but most likely Monday.

See ya later...I'm going to head into the sunset now!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Soup of the evening, beautiful soup!


Last night I made soup, vegetable soup to be exact. Made some cornbread to go with it and Don declared it a delicious supper.

My main reason for making soup was some leftover green beans in the fridge and a bottle of V8 Juice I'd bought at the grocery store on Saturday. When my kids were small I always made veggie soup with V8 Juice. I haven't bought any in years, but there was a sale on it and I had a great coupon, so how could I resist?

Unfortunately, my plans to use up leftovers always backfires when I make soup. For some reason I simply can not make a small pot of soup. It just grows and grows until I have a huge pot full, which is exactly what happened last night. That small portion of green beans turned into several quarts of soup!

Fortunately soup freezes well so I'll put this up in two person portions so we can enjoy it later. Either that or we'll be eating soup every night for a week!

P.S. Thank you Mr. Lewis Carroll for the poem "Beautiful Soup" and for all of Alice's adventures.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Spray painting...


The other day I bought some barn red spray paint and today I started using it. I'm in the middle of repainting my laundry room a creamy butter yellow and decided the red would be a nice punch of color.

This afternoon I took my two shelves (two long pieces of wood that I lay on top of metal brackets over the washer/dryer) out to spray paint. I didn't see the sawhorses around so I decided there would be no harm in using the box blade on the tractor as a substitute. After all, the box blade and tractor are red, plus the box blade is rusty so a little paint would spruce it up too.

Fergus was quite intrigued with the goings on and stayed on top of a fence post keeping a close eye on me. The dogs couldn't have cared less (which is good as I didn't want any dogs with red noses, paws or tails).

As I was spraying the shelves I started thinking about spray paint. How many of us learned how to spray paint at Vacation Bible School? Remember those cigar boxes we decorated with uncooked pasta and then spray painted gold?

Spray paint has come a long way since Vacation Bible School and my childhood. For one, it costs a lot more! It also is a better quality and you can find lots more colors and different paints for spraying different materials such as plastic and metals. You can even get it textured these days!

Anyway, I'll be putting the final coat on my shelves tomorrow and then I'm going to spray paint the little green cupboard I found at Goodwill. I also have a couple of decorative shelves to spray paint. After that, I just have to put up my "cats in the laundry basket" border and the room will be finished. I'll post a photo in the near future of my decorating efforts.

Oh, did I mention I also managed to spray paint my index finger today? Yeah...also learned that spray paint doesn't wash off!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Long night ahead...


Saturday nights are always long around here. Don doesn't get home from work until 1 a.m. and it's usually 4 a.m. by the time we get all the dogs fed and bedded down for the night. We also have to round up cats. The coyotes sound like they're getting a little closer to the house every night, so the cats are sleeping inside (except for big burly Harley who hates to be in the house).

Tonight, however, is going to be an hour longer that normal and I am looking forward to it! An extra hour of sleep will be much appreciated since I had to get up early this morning to do the grocery shopping...a chore I normally do on Wednesday. I am most definitely not a morning person so any excuse for an extra hour of sleep is a good one!

Of course, I despise Daylight Savings Time in the Spring when I lose an hour of sleep. Just doesn't seem like there's any point in doing that these days...especially to a night owl like myself!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Smarty Pants...


This is Teagan. Teagan is a pest. Teagan is also to smart for her own good. Teagan's name is Irish and means "beautiful". We made a mistake. We should have named her Miss Smarty Pants.

Before we took Teagan into our home she was hanging out on the rural road where we live with a black dog. I guess they were pals because you always saw them together. One day, coming home from the grocery store, I found them in our driveway. I stopped and put out some dog food for them. Teagan was thrilled to make friends with me and I had no trouble putting her in the truck (where she promptly hopped onto the dashboard to ride up to the house).

Unfortunately, Teagan's friend was not so sure I was a nice person and wouldn't let me get her. A week later she was hit and killed. That made Don and I very sad, but there was little we could have done since there was no way to catch her.

Teagan, being the smart little dog she is, quickly settled in with the other dogs. We feed her, pet her, play with her just like any of the other dogs, but Teagan continues to be extremely needy. It's like she just can't get enough, which makes her a huge pest, especially since she is very persistent and will climb all over you to be petted. Oh, did I mention Teagan is extremely strong for her size?

At night Teagan sleeps in the fenced in front yard with Angus and Caoilainn. She likes being outside at night and does much better there than in the house. If she spends the night in the house Teagan will walk all over us while we try to sleep. Like I said, she's a pest!

Now to the truly smarty-pants aspect of Teagan. She recently learned how to open the front door! We have a door knob that has a push down latch and Teagan has figured out how to push it down with her paw and waltz right in...and she NEVER shuts the door behind her!

After a few mornings of finding outside dogs jumping on the bed (and the front door wide open) we've decided that the only way to fix the problem is to lock our door at night. Living out where we do with all the dogs, locking up has never been an issue. Now we're having to lock the dogs out!

To top it off, Teagan is teaching my little Beagle, Tadhg, how to open the door. He's done it twice. The door is now locked during the day as well!

If you're wondering what breed of dog Teagan is, the vet declared her to be a "genuine Mississippi Mutt" which is just a fancy way of saying she's a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Blustery November has arrived!



November arrived on a blast of cold air for us here in north Mississippi! Yesterday it was a balmy and pleasant 72 degrees, but last night brought rain and today we've seen fierce cold winds and a temperature that struggled to stay above 50, but lost.

When I was out hurriedly feeding the chickens, ducks and Elvis I noticed that the magnificent Hickory tree in the back had lost most of its beautiful gold leaves. Rats...I've been meaning to take a photo of the Hickory while it was ablaze with Fall color. I was a day late, but maybe I'll get one next year.

Now I've got the house all nice and snug with a fire roaring in the fireplace and a pot of homemade venison/veggie soup bubbling on the stove. Just before Don gets home from work I'll make a pone of cornbread to eat with the soup.

Afterwards we'll fall asleep on the clean flannel sheets I put on the bed today. Mmmmm...just thinking about it makes me all warm and sleepy!