Thursday, July 25, 2019

Presenting 'Annie Oakley': The Farm Report 07-26-2019

Presenting 'Annie Oakley'
The Farm Report

The Name That Dog Contest is officially over and we have a winner! We picked a name from about 50 entries. They came, literally, from all over the world. When you have the fun of hosting a number of AFS Exchange students over the years, you end up having people everywhere - and nowhere left to hide. Thanks All. As you can see, Annie and her brother have their 'peeps' too! That is Annie getting a belly rub.

The winning entry said this:

Hi Tim,
Thought I would throw my hat into the ring for the dog naming contest.....
Assuming this little pooch will have some great cowgirl skills
 like Annie Oakley, and will become the head dog at Oakdale Farm.... my suggestion
is “Oakley”.  Nancy 🐾 

So I sorta picked that one. Only I'm calling her 'Annie Oakley' when she gets into trouble,
 and just 'Annie' the rest of the time. When you run the contest, you can do that.
 Plus, Nancy is Joyce's sister, and she will understand. 

Annie was bred and raised at a cattle feeding operation. She is a hybrid cross between an Australian Shepherd and an Australian Cattle Dog - which is also commonly called a Blue Heeler. Sometimes they call them Texas Heelers, other times they are known as Aussie Shepherd-Heelers. There is lots of collie in both bloodlines; Border Collie and old fashioned Farm Collie/Scotch Collie. They are fabulous dogs. Her mom and dad are both still working for a living.
 Mom is an Australian Cattle Dog, and dad is an Australian Shepherd. That is mom looking at the 'alternative caregiver and the kid.' Annie laughed and played with little kids while she was in her early puppy stages.
It shows. Mom and dad live at the farmer's house, but not in it. They are outdoor working dogs. They both seem to love people and have no problem with strangers coming and going. That was important for me. Mom spent time being a rodeo barrel racer companion. She has no stage fright.

What could be cuter than little kids and puppies? 

Just for a point of reference so I can go back and look someday, this is dad. It was raining when we got there, so you have to think what you look like when you see yourself in the mirror after a shower. Dad is a lot more handsome when his hair is not soaking wet. He didn't have time for a blow and brush-out that morning before we got there. I don't know what his name is, but it could be 'Ozzie Nelson' because he just hangs around and doesn't really seem to do much, except work with the burro on coyote duty at night. Super calm and gentle, but capable when duty calls. 

This is the other end of dad. He has the blue merled markings Annie shows. 

Mom again. If you've never seen a 'Blue Heeler' or Australian Cattle Dog, here's your definitive shot. As I said someplace else, they are ugly and look mean, but they are not. They are assertive though! These little dogs can push around flocks of sheep and big bulls and cows - and make 'em like it! This one particularly likes people. Maybe it is her show business side coming through from her rodeo days. Come to think of it, when we were first married, my Joyce found her long haired Angora cat had discovered the fun of rolling in an old coal bin in the basement of the house we were renting out in Nebraska while I was in law school. She gave that cat a bath and made him like it, too. Maybe I'm just attracted to strong willed, no-nonsense able women who can git 'er done.... 

If you think mom's head is hanging a little low, well it is. She was just bone deep tired. She has raised two litters of pups in a row, and frankly, she's about had enough of it for now. It was like she was saying, "Get 'em out of here." 

On my sister's good advice, we took along a couple of old tee shirts (I don't have any other kind really) and rubbed mom down good with them before we left. With 'mom smell' all over the shirts, the pups rode home in comfort. My neighbor brought Annie's brother home with him. 

Why buy expensive toys when an old shirt would work just as well? 

Tug 'O War is a natural puppy game. Annie is on the right.

So after some chit chat and taking care of business it was time to go home. I had to stop and laugh when I saw this scene. It happened just as we were ready to load up and go. It reminded me of Mom taking Sis to school for the first time. A little 'life lecture' on the way, a wish for good luck, and a reminder to behave herself once she got there; 'Goodbye' - and we were on the road. 

Mom had begun weaning the pups a couple of weeks ago. While we were there picking them up, the pups tried to nurse mom as she was walking along the road. She snarled and snapped at them making it quite clear the free ride was over, that is o-v-e-r! So I felt pretty good about bringing Annie home at almost 7 weeks old. That first night, I looked down and this is what I saw. No - not my old big toe. Annie had decided to curl herself up and buy some goodwill points. 

Did I mention not buying expensive dog toys? Well, next morning as I sat reading the blogs and news, I heard Annie making herself busy. When I came up for another cup of coffee, this is what I saw: Annie had discovered a pile of my dirty old socks somewhere (That would be Joyce groaning from heaven you're hearing now. I don't know how it happens, but not all my dirty socks had made it to the hamper yet....). Annie had collected some of them and brought them into the living room to form this perfect little nest for herself right by my chair. And was proud of herself for having done it, too. Doggie DYI Project accomplished.

In a couple of weeks, Annie will start school. She and I are going to Puppie Kindergarten. Since it is just me here at Oakdale Farm, and since these dogs can be heavy duty one-person dogs, I want to be sure Annie gets as much social contact with other people and other dogs as I can arrange. In a way it is sorta funny - neither she nor I are cut from socialite material. Match! 

Here is the reason I garden and put up with all the bother. My plate is filled with produce from the garden about every night now. Delicious is all I can say. But... Don't expect to see a lot more pictures of the garden patch. It is a mess. With all our cold wet rains, the heat, the wind, and then the Japanese Beetles, what is out there isn't fit for a magazine cover photo I'll tell ya. The garden writer, Eliot Coleman, says in one of his books that once the plants are established, there really isn't much loss from weed pressure after that. When I read that, I knew I liked him immediately!

Those cukes are from Carola's Deutscher Garten. They make really great dill pickles. Here is a link to my Secret Recipe for Claussen Knock-Off pickles. It is really easy and so good. I make up a gallon of the brine in the recipe and keep it on hand all summer. Then, when I come in with the day's harvest, I clean up the cukes and cut off the flower end! You can slice 'em, split 'em, pickle 'em whole; doesn't matter. Put them in a jar and pour on the brine. Weight the cukes down so they are completely under water. Let them sit on the counter for up to 4 days fermenting, then put them into the fridge. They will keep a long time unless you eat them, and that's all there is to it. I think the brine is a little salty, so I often use less salt to make up the brine solution. You do what you want. Other than that, all is well at Oakdale Farm. 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

It's Too Darned Hot: The Farm Report 07-19-2019

It's Too Darned Hot

The Farm Report 07-19-2019

I had to chuckle this morning. O.J. was laying in a corner where he never lays. He's an old tomcat, and he has his habits pretty well set. Changing scenery for naps is not in his patterns. So why did he decide to couch out in this corner? They say the only way you can see the wind is by looking at the leaves as they blow in the breeze. Not much to see here, but O.J. is laying exactly where the overhead AC vent is blowing down onto the floor. This is upstairs in a little room that was once designated as the 'Sewing Room.' I find it to be an ideal reading room. That window looks out over Walnut Creek valley from the highest place in my house, and my house is way up on a hill. Beautiful any time of year; you can see for miles and miles - as if he would care.

So here is the main reason for today's title:

Fremont County


  • This morning when I first looked, it was already in the 80'sF AND RAINING! What they say is true: It ain't the heat, it's the humidity. In truth, it is both actually. I hate heat.

    And then we get the weather warnings like this:


    If you look for it, you can usually find it. This is the climbing clematis outside my TV room window. It is a west facing window, and this vine is my 'organic' AC. It is amazing how the shade it gives helps keep the room cool. (Of course the great big AC unit running its socks off doesn't hurt, either!) Do you see the bird silhouette? That is Mamma Cardinal. 

    Here is a little better picture of her. Cardinals love to nest in shrubs and low lying bushes. Happily for me, she has decided to nest right where I can see the whole show from my big comfy chair. This will be fun. Pappy Cardinal is so fire engine red right now, you'd think 'Cy' the Iowa State University mascot had moved in. (Gotta plug the old Alma Mater where I can, kids.) 

    Just as a point of reference, Mamma C is sitting on the edge of her nest right here. The nests are tiny little things no bigger than a demitasse cup. I'll keep you posted. You'll need to look quickly though. Once the little chicks hatch, they do not stay in the nest long. After only a few days, they will be out popping around in the vines. Then it won't be much longer before they're gone on to bigger and better things for themselves. I've watch this show before....

    How do they know? Here is O.J. again. This time, he is in Zoey's basket in the TV room. After I lost Zoey in January, I just couldn't bring myself to eliminating her favorite sleeping bed. So it has been just laying there ever since. O.J. has never, and I repeat, NEVER, used it even one time. Apparently he reads this blog though, because after I told you that a new pup was on the incoming list, all of a sudden, O.J. has decided to lay claim to the territory for himself. Possession is not 9 tenths, it is all 10 tenths as far as he is concerned. We'll see how long an Aussie Heeler pup will put up with his baloney. The trouble is, O.J. is a 3-dimensional chess player, and the pup will probably just be all kinetic energy. You can tell by O.J.'s attitude he plays the long game, and is willing to go into extra innings to get what he wants.  I think I'll go have a cooling beverage and think about the next moves. All is well here at Oakdale Farm, but it's too damned hot.