Category Archives: Pets


Wow, six days since the last post!  I am so lazy!  We have been busy in the kind of laid back style that meets our definition of lazy.  We installed a new yard hydrant near the back barn to replace one that wasn’t sited just right and was getting increasingly difficult to open and close. 20150416_130454 (Copy)The old hydrant was in the back, next to the mulch, we are bringing it closer to the front of the barn.  It was wetter than ideal but we managed to get the ditch dug and the hydrant hooked up and tested out.DSC_5243 (Copy) We were tardy getting a hummingbird feeder up although it hasn’t been exactly overrun since we got it going – we saw one the other day.  The “Eskimo” Viburnum is just now hitting its peak with tons of compound white blossoms, reminiscent of Hydrangias.  DSC_0283 (1600x1060)We’ve been working the grill pretty hard.  This sammich is from country style ribs that smoked for a few hours.  They got a dry rub and a taste of a BBQ sauce, then were chopped and reheated in a skillet atop the stove to get a nice little crisp going on the edges.  The potato salad is another batch of the loaded potato salad that has become our fave picnic style side dish.DSC02232 (1600x1200)This is an older female cat, 5 yo, an owner surrender.  Mrs J says she is starting to come around from the trauma of separation.  We have no info on why the previous owner dropped her off, could be any number of legitimate reasons, and it’s good that she wasn’t just turned out on her own.  We see that a lot.
DSC_5244 (Copy)I have a start on the herb garden.  From the bottom:  Basil, chives, parsley and another to feed to the caterpillars, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. DSC_5245 (Copy)In the back are two determinate variety tomatoes, iirc they are “Mountain Fresh”, one has been broken over and may need replacement although there is still a leaf left intact with the rest of the stem.  In the foreground are various peppers:  Sweet, hot, and ornamental.  I have sweet bananas, serranos, cayenne, and a sweet Italian red pepper, “Carmen”, that looks similar to the banana peppers in the little photo.  I started some fernleaf dill but it’s looking puny today.  Katie and Jack are keeping a lookout for squirrels and those geese that have found where Mrs J leaves the corn for the deer.DSC_5246 (Copy)I do the veggies and herbs, Mrs J keeps up the flowers.  She has the biggest job.  Our 2002 ATV started acting up, right in the beginning the season, so we opted for this shiny, new 2014 model.  I told the dealer guy to show me one that is as close to the old one as he had, and he came very close.  He was tickled at the low mileage on the old one – we don’t do trail rides, just haul stuff around the place, run to the mailbox, and visit the neighbors on occasion.DSC_0271 (1600x1060)We’ve been eating sammiches or dropping by the local Chinese buffet.  We hit the buffet yesterday at the perfect time, I think, everything was freshly cooked and waiting for the lunch crowd, which we beat.DSC02241 (1600x1200)I rarely put up a photo of a large dog, Mrs J works inside with kittens and puppies, but she took this one of a stray that a local police officer brought in.  He said he would rather St Francis had it that the folks at the county humane shelter down the road.  Mrs J says they are required by law to post photos of strays, she posted the photo to the shelter’s Facebook page to be shared around, hoping the owner will see it and step up.

Sammich Pr0n – BBQ Pork

DSC_0237 (1600x1060)Another homemade bun with some roast pork and Sweet Baby Ray.  I made the eggs with a dab of the tzatziki, mayo, and a whiff of sour cream.  There are chives in there as well as the dill from the tzatziki.DSC02186 (1600x1060)Bonus Kitteh!  Toby fled under the couch during a thunderstorm, here he is checking to see if it was safe to emerge.

A Little Missy

Missy Elizabeth1

 I was putting together tonight’s recipe exchange and found this on my camera. I took it just a week or so ago. Love that little tail.


Bixby Diaries: Growing Up Fast

B & K the Race is on

Just a quick update this week. Bixby is 127 lbs now and doing great. We still struggle with a couple of things, mostly pulling on the leash to get to dogs and people. He wants to meet and love everyone. We continue to work on it and he’s very proud when he remembers not to pull. It’s adorable.

Bixby and Kodiak April 2015a

After a very rough week we needed a play date to blow off some steam. We headed up to LFern’s property where the dogs could run to their heart’s content. The surprise for LFern, Kodiak and me was how big Bixby had gotten since our last visit a few months ago. But Kodiak still ruled the yard and Bixby was happy to follow his lead.

Here’s their first meeting, not long after Bixby came to live with me:

Bixby and Kodiak Sept 2014

He was such a wee little thing. Not so much now:

Bixby and Kodiak 2a

I’m so pleased with how far we have come. It took me a while to understand what I was doing that created situations where he would get totally crazy (and run away). He was overstimulated. And instead of trying to wear him out with lots of activities, only to have it backfire, I started to restrict his input – no more tag, tug or walks on a long lead. We switched to three short walks a day, instead of one long walk, used the crate as a quiet place where he could calm down when visitors arrived, and I often had to use my ‘stern’ voice.

A lot of it seemed counter-intuitive, but it works and without breaking his beautiful spirit. The more I am able to communicate to him what I’m looking for, the happier he gets. The sweeter he gets. It just took me a while of watching him to see where I was going in the wrong direction. He is always doing the best he can. I believe that over time we’ll be able to continue tag, tug and letting him take the lead on walks again.

Bixby March 2015 Sleepy

This is how he spends his afternoons by my desk when I’m working. Terrific office mate. He’ll be nine 10 months (denial or typo, you decide) soon, maybe I can get him to write an update then. – TaMara


Missy Miss 9 12


Rustic Hollow Cat Shelter

C&W Rustic Hollow is a shelter in Nashua, Iowa that provides a forever home to cats infected with FIV/FeLV.  St Francis had a few cats that were infected that required them to be quarantined from the rest of the cats.  A local donor ponied up the $1000 per cat that Rustic Hollow asks to accept them into their operation so Mrs J volunteered her time and drove all four of them up there, along with a friend.

There are six buildings in their complex that are set up as if they were actual homes that people live in:  Couches, tables, and chairs, kitchens and living rooms, porches and basements.  Rugs and pillows and cat trees are everywhere, and, of course, lots of cat beds.  The cats are turned loose and have a free run of the houses but they are permanent inside cats – never allowed outside.DSC02137 (1600x1060)

DSC02136 (1600x1060)This is as close to outside as they will ever get, there are several screened porches that are called “catios”.DSC02112 (1600x1060)

DSC02059 (1600x1060)This is where new arrivals are evaluated and held for a time before they are released into the shelter proper.  I understand the FIV and FeLV cats are segregated into their own groups.DSC02061 (1600x1060)

DSC02060 (1600x1060)The FIV cats are said to lead fairly normal lives if they are cared for but the FeLV is usually a death sentence – the shelter acts as a hospice for those poor kittehs.  The Cornell link above mentions that some cats can come to terms with the virus – “… some FeLV-infected cats develop an effective immune response, which controls the viral infection and results in a transient viremia instead of a persistent viremia. In these cats, subsequent FeLV tests will show that the cat no longer has virus in its blood.”DSC02072 (1600x1060)Mrs J reports that they have about 400 cats at present.  They don’t take walk-ins but if you have an infected cat your local shelter may be able to help you arrange an accommodation.

Missy 2003-2015

Missy 9101

After initially being fine, I’m very sad to say that Missy did not make it through surgery. We don’t know why. She recovered enough to come home, but passed about an hour after. I was able to hold her for about a half hour and snuggle with her. I’m sure Harley was there to greet her, he was always taking care of us.

I love this picture of her, because that was her attitude, always just a bit judgmental of me and my pet skills. RIP

Paw print


Random Wildlife

DSC_5200These two diving ducks showed up on the front pond yesterday, I didn’t know what they were but went online and a nice fellow told me they were both female Common Goldeneye ducks.  Thanks, Mike!DSC_5209 (1600x1060)Mrs J maintains a suet feeder that woodpeckers like a lot.  This one is a Red Bellied Woodpecker.DSC_5211 (1600x1060)These are a pair of Downy Woodpeckers.  The male has the red patch.  Downys are our smallest woodpeckers.P1000260 (1600x1060)Canada Geese are frequent visitors and can really honk up a racket when the dogs show themselves.  I took this one through the window of the truck as we returned from an expedition.DSC_5210 (1600x1060)Spring is turtle roaming season.  Homer is keeping a wary eye on this one as he heads back towards the pond.PICT4485 (1600x1060)I include this one of a deer, taken by an automatic camera that overlooks the spot where Mrs J scatters corn and other seeds, because of the groomed look of her hair.  I’m guessing it results from walking through thick vegetation – maybe that’s why they call it brush.

Bixby Diaries: 9 Months Old Today

You suck 2

Bixby is 9 months old today. I was going to have him write a diary entry, but I was afraid it would be filled with profanity, drinking, smoking and graffiti. In other words, we’ve hit the terrible teen weeks.

The photo above is him basically telling me I suck because I have banned him from the couch. Why you ask? Is it because dogs shouldn’t be on the couch (true, but no), because he’s too big (almost true, but still no) or because I just washed the cover, blankets and pillow (again, true, but nope)?

No, he’s banned from the couch because no matter how many times I correct him, he thinks it’s a playground. Digs, scratches, rolls around, tries to take the cushions off, and brings all his toys up on the couch. He’s allowed to nap on the couch, nothing else. So no more couch.

You still suck

He’s 120.5 lbs, still only 32 inches at his shoulders, but much longer now – it’s hard to measure a moving target – but he towers over me when standing up on my shoulders. His neck is 24″ around  and he’s almost out of the largest collar I can find. That’s larger than the Great Dane next door. And while our neighbor is much taller and much heavier (he comes in at a hefty 210 lbs and is svelte, so you can imagine how tall he is), Bixby’s neck is bigger, he definitely has his dad’s build there, a more European style. I may have to buy his collars in the men’s belt section.

That dog is still here

That dog is still here?

He is generally a good dog, but the last three weeks have been challenging. And I am being kind here. This morning he started his ninth month out by refusing to get out of bed, chasing Zander, challenging Emma – who never backs down, the only reason Bixby’s nose doesn’t look like coleslaw is that Emma is secure in her alpha, queen of the house, status – so she just hisses at him and stands her ground –  and refusing to sit and hold while I opened the door for him to go outside. Basically he bowled me over like the ten pin.  And that was all before breakfast. More importantly, that was before my first cup of coffee.

What ya got1

He continued his misbehavior on our walk by throwing his weight around. When he doesn’t want to stop sniffing something he crouches down and digs his feet in. If he doesn’t come when I request it, he has to walk at heel, no sniffing, no stopping. We spent most of the walk at heel.

Dinner time

But the good news is, he has stopped grabbing the leash from my hand and running away. It took him a bit of detective work to figure out that it was this behavior that was getting him in big trouble. It was fun watching him work it out. He has three or four behaviors lately on leash that I’ve been discouraging, but only the grabbing the leash and running away got him in big trouble. He didn’t quite get it at first, so he would test out each behavior and watch and listen. It only took him twice grabbing the leash before he got it. He’s pretty much over that now, though every once in a while, he turns, starts to grab it, looks at me, and decides it’s not worth it.

That face

I am confident we’ll work the rest out. A lot of it is challenging me, to see if he can get away with something. He’s learning that if he wants to get scritches from other people he meets, sitting gets him the attention he is seeking, instead of charging at them, jumping on them or generally cornering them at the door. I get all the “make me” behaviors. Some days he’s a perfect gentleman, others he just wants to do it his way and I’m an obstacle.

Suddenly I have an understanding why two of my four Danes came to me at just under a year. I can see how people not familiar with how sweet these dogs are as adults would be overwhelmed by the power of their rebellion. I am confident Bixby will be a charming adult dog. Even if at the moment he is completely exhausting me. Luckily, he’s cute and gives great hugs.

Paw print


Most Photogenic Cat Ever (Don’t Tell The Others)

Most Photogenic cat ever


DSC_0067 (1600x1060)Mmm… slaw dogs!  The slaw has a mayo based dressing that works well with the squeeze of hot mustard.  We’ll be eating beans until we run out.  I make them up in a 10″ cast iron skillet and we get several day’s worth of sides out of them.DSC_5192 (1600x1060)Here’s Homer!  He really, really loves to play chase the laser dot and every now and then he comes to the little side table next to my chair to remind me that that is where it’s kept.  It’s the little red cylinder under his nose, there.  He does it often enough that I was able to set up for a quick photo, this is my best one so far.  He usually has both feet up there, too.DSC01917 (1600x1200)This is Bella.  The staff at a local nursing home asked if St Francis could provide them with a dog to replace one that passed.  I’ve heard of organizations that took pets around for visits but they apparently wanted one to stay right there permanently. They took Bella over to see if she would work out and so far it looks like she has found a new home and many new doting parents.DSC01922 (1600x1200)Mrs J says it seemed that Bella wanted to say hello to everyone!  Looks like she will fit right into her role.DSC01923 (1600x1200)They took a dog bed and toys and some food over with her but they said they wouldn’t need anything because they had bought all that already, in anticipation.DSC_0073 (1600x1060)Roasted Brussels sprouts with a chicken fried pork tenderloin and a baked potato.  Sprouts are fabulous roasted like this, trim the ends and halve them and toss with olive oil and kosher salt and roast them in a 400 oven, cut side down, until they look like this.  The cut sides are browned and the outer leaf may look burnt but they taste great.DSC_0040 (1600x1060)Spaghetti is always a favorite.  This one has a sausage and tomato sauce and was sprinkled with the remainder of a bag of Italian blend cheeses I had leftover from something else (pizza? I forget).  I had plenty of sauce leftover so I made some bruschetta:DSC_0062 (1600x1060)


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