Friday, July 30, 2010


Yay!  It's Friday!  UHM and Bogey left this afternoon on their vacation so it's just me and The Horde at The Ranch.  Unfortunately, UHM took the camera with her so I can't show you any pictures of the progress on the yard.  It's looking great though.  Fence posts are in, all the topsoil is in and they laid a dry creek bed to manage run off when it rains.  It POURED yesterday afternoon, which pointed out that the dry creek bed isn't in quite the right place but that will be remedied.  Monday and Tuesday they will be back to put down mulch over the topsoil and reorient the creek bed.  Wednesday I fly out to meet UHM and Lynn S. (from MN) for 3 days at the beach!

Life is good!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Ok, this one really scares me.  What am I inadvertently teaching my dogs?

And I Still Say - Duh!

Wow - very timely on line blurb given Moira's recent behavior....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Day 2 & Various and Sundry Other Things

Not a lot of changes worth documenting today.  They brought in another load of topsoil to further build up the areas already covered.  They also started working on the fenced area - leveled it, put down landscaping fabric and rock.  It wasn't worth it to take a picture because they've got the 4x4s for the fence post and some other things sitting in that area right now.  Oh!  Hedgie has been found!

It was overcast and cool here today - mid 70s - so I wore jeans to work. I have to say, I really enjoyed that.  I like summer but, about this time every year I start longing for "new school clothes."  It was nice to wear something different today.

Last Friday I bought a bushel of peaches.  They needed to ripen just a bit before they could be processed so I didn't start doing anything with them until last night.  I finished up with them this evening and have 15 qts of peaches in the freezer.  I'm trying to decide if I want to buy another bushel, or maybe half-bushel, this weekend. There aren't too many things nicer than being able to have "fresh" peaches in the dead of winter.

Moira was a bad dog this evening.  UHM left the bone from a pork chop within Ra's reach.  I was busy with the peaches so the first I knew something was amiss was the sound of crunching.  UHM tried to retrieve the bone from Moira but it was too late.  So, we are on tummy watch for the next couple days.  Usually my dogs have cast iron tummies but cooked bones can cause problems.  Stealing food like this is a recent development for the Pu Head.  She's getting quite brazen these days.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings in the yard.

Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of our yard renovation project.  Which is great except that we weren't expecting them to start work yesterday!  Consequently, we hadn't done a toy pick up in the yard.  Unaccounted for and presumably lost are Hedgie and (sob) the "baby" Moira came home with five years ago.

They dismantled an 8 ft. section of fence so they could bring a tractor into the yard to start putting down topsoil and delineating where the pathways will be.

The fence along the far left side of this shot, running out perpendicular to the steps,  will be replaced with picket to create a small, separate dog yard for visitors or when some dogs don't get along with each other....

In the next two shots you can see the 2 connecting paths that sort of circle the yard.  My only concern is, Moira ignored them both in favor of dashing right through the middle of the fresh topsoil to get to the bottom.  She doesn't believe in taking the scenic route?

Like any boy, Bogey just had to get on the big tractor.  Ok, it wasn't Bogey's idea, he couldn't care less about tractors.  His mom, UHM, is the one with the tractor obsession.

The landscaping people will be back today to do more work.  I'm not sure exactly what is on the agenda but I'm sure there will be more pictures to post tonight.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sweet Tea

We've been suffering through scorching hot temps here the last few days and that means hydration is key.  I know the best thing for hydration is water but let's face it, sometimes you want something more.  In the summer, I like sweet tea.  The dogs like it too but I try not to let them have any.  Moira, however, has determined she can steal mine if I leave the glass unattended and within her reach.

Sweet tea used to be a uniquely southern beverage but I understand McDonald's is now carrying it in most of their restaurants.  And I won't lie, their sweet tea is pretty darned good - especially at $1 plus tax.  When I'm home though I like to make my own.

We are drinking around a gallon of sweet tea a week right now so I make it on Sunday afternoons to last the rest of the week.  There's nothing magical about making sweet tea but, I'll share my recipe with you all.  If you aren't a fan of sweets, then you probably won't like this but I promise, there are few things more satisfying on a hot summer day than a big glass of iced sweet tea with a wedge of lemon.  Think of it as Kool Aid for adults.

6 cups water
4 family-size tea bags (Luzianne or your favorite black tea)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of sugar

Bring 6 cups of water to boil in a large pan.  Boil one minute then remove from heat.  Add 4 family-size tea bags and cover.  I prefer Luzianne decaf but you can't get that brand everywhere so go with your favorite black tea.  Steep for 5 minutes.

Remove tea bags, squeezing out as much water as possible.  Add sugar while tea is still hot and stir to dissolve.  Pour into a 1 gallon container and fill to top with cool water.  Refrigerate.  Serve over ice.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 23, 2010


Last night, Understanding House Mate and I visited a local garden/landscaping company.  UHM wrote the check that will start the process of having the back yard redone.  There are plans for gravel pathways, plantings and - my personal favorite - a small fenced area designed to separate and secure dogs who don't get along.  Work should start w/in the next 2 weeks.  We are breaking the process into two parts since the area is in a drought and we really don't want to plant anything right now.  Part one will be all the hard-scaping.  Part two, the planting, will probably occur this fall.

Before, during and after pictures to come!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Busy Weekend

The Horde has had a very busy weekend!

Yesterday Moira had an agility class in the morning.  I am so proud of my girl - she just loves agility and continues to get better and better.  My handling still needs work.  Sam was my first agility dog and, while he was fast, he was also a Velcro dog so I missed learning a lot of fine points with handling.  Moira needs me to be much earlier on verbal cues and more specific and aware of the non-verbal ones.  Still, we had some very pretty sequences yesterday and I am getting excited for fall trials.

Bogey had a herding lesson yesterday afternoon.  It was ridiculously hot but we kept a close eye on him and, fortunately, he's smart enough to know when to stop too.  This was his first lesson after the clinic at the end of June and the first time I got to see him work.  There's loads of potential there but both he and Understanding House Mate have a long way to go.  It will be a fun journey to watch.

Today, Sunday, is a very special day.  Today is Ginny's 11th birthday!  I just can't believe she's 11.  The last year has seen her slow down some - she doesn't spend mornings lounging on the patio table anymore because , I think, it's too hard to jump up there - but she's still going strong.  We'll be having some neighbors over later in the day for a small party.  The humans will grill various beasts and gorge on summer produce while the dogs will have an entire watermelon to themselves to celebrate.  I think Gin will like celebrating her birthday that way.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Madison County Fair

The Madison County Fair has been going on since Wednesday of this week.  Madison is a very small, rural community north of C'ville and it's where my employer is based.  Last year, I convinced Understanding House Mate - who works for the same company I do - that the company should support the fair in a more visible way than just taking out an ad in the fair program.  We should buy an animal at the 4H/FFA livestock auction!

Many moons ago, I was involved in 4H and FFA.  I raised and showed market lambs and, one year, a market hog.  We didn't live on a farm but we were lucky enough to be in a rural area and we had friends with small, hobby farms where I could keep my animals.  To this day, I think it is one of the best experiences of my life.  4H and FFA are wonderful learning grounds for kids.  If you choose to do a market animal project, you take responsibility for all the aspects of that project - both financial and physical.  On a very basic level, you learn about budgeting, profit and loss and keeping tracking of your money.  You also learn a tremendous amount about the care and feeding of animals.  As a bonus, you make great friends and learn about team work and good sportsmanship too.

Last night was the livestock auction at the Madison County Fair.  Understanding House Mate and I went with a budget of $1,000, two spreadsheets of figures to help us determine what we could afford and a determination to buy something!  Well, buy something we did!  After sitting through the auction of baskets put together by various 4H clubs for fundraising and the beef cattle, the auction of market lambs began.  The first animal to sell is always the Grand Champion of that species for the fair.  This year's Grand Champion Market Lamb was a 116 pound, Suffolk-cross wether (castrated male sheep).  The bidding started at $2.00 a pound, Understanding House Mate joined the fray when the price hit $3.00 a pound and when the dust settled, she had bought the Grand Champion Market Lamb for $8.50 a pound!  This is the first year our company has participated in the livestock auction and we came away with a very nice buy.  The little girl who raised and exhibited the lamb is 9 years old and this was her very first 4H project!  She should net somewhere around $500, depending on what expenses are like these days.

Going to the county fair can be a real treat.  For my dog friends, I would urge you to go and watch the judging of the market animals.  Livestock judges are required to give a verbal critique of the class and their reasons for the placements - something I've often wished the dog show world would do.  The kids, as young as 9 years old, do a wonderful job of presenting their animals to best advantage through both the livestock and the showmanship classes.  Did you know if you win showmanship for your species (lamb, hog, dairy, beef, etc.) you go on to a grand champion class where you are expected to take turns showing an animal of every species?  How many of us could show a Cardi and then turn around and show a Yorkie or a Wolfhound with the same level of expertise?  These kids are amazing!  The livestock auction is fun to watch too.  There's always the first time exhibitor who gets teary-eyed selling their project animal and the senior who has been showing for 9 or 10 years who is showing for the last time.

It's county and state fair season - make time to support your local 4H and FFA clubs.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mystery Date - Revealed

Some of you may remember we had a house guest back in March - Miss Georgia.  She was on her way to a show home in Maryland.

Unfortunately, that placement didn't work out.  It wasn't anyone's fault, she just wasn't quite what the breeder who bought her had in mind.  So, Liz, Georgia's breeder, drove up from North Carolina to pick her up.  The ladies spent the night with us here in Virginia.

Georgia is just 6 months old now and is growing up quite nicely.  She was a bit of a wiggler on the table but we managed to get these shots of her.  She's still got a lot of growing up and filling out to do but she's looking very nice.

She also managed to fit in quite well with the rest of the Horde.  Which is a good thing because she will be coming back at the beginning of September for an extended and, possibly, permanent stay.

If all goes well on an extended basis, her registered name will be Cadnoclun Fairway Cinderella Story and I will be handling her in the breed ring.  She'll also get chances to try herding and agility since if you want to be Horde member, you have to do more than look pretty.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Mystery Date

Open the door to your Mystery Date....  Have you figured out who will be visiting the Horde this weekend?  I'll give you a hint.  She's a red head......

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Look slimmer in just 10 minutes

The dogs - not me.  I spent several hours this morning grooming dogs.  After blowing out a 13 gallon garbage bag full of hair, everyone looks much slimmer.  Sam and Gin's skin and coats are super dry - time to get back on the salmon oil.  Moira looks sleek and fit - although she could stand to lose a pound or two (someone has been raiding the litter box).  Bogey, in his summer buzz cut, just needed a little combing and some trimming around his ears.

Next weekend we will have an overnight guest on Saturday.  Names and pictures to come.....

For now, happy 4th.  We're having smoked chicken and don't know what else for sides.....