The Terminal Dog

Wow! I haven’t posted anything for a week! The week sure went by quickly. It feels as if I blinked and it was suddenly seven days later.

Well, last week was relatively quiet. I cared for my various animals: dog, cats, and chickens. I weeded the gardens–both the backyard veggie/herb garden and the front yard flower garden. I picked beans, blanched them, and then froze them to enjoy in the coming months. I picked and dried a few more herbs in my Magic Mills dehydrator.

The days are getting shorter at both ends so a few days ago I plugged in the extension cord so I have lights in the coop. They are Christmas tree lights, and their soft glow makes the coop look festive. EJ has been coming outside with me while I shut the chickens in their coop. We always look for Montgomery the bat–Monty for short. Yes, we named the bat that swoops around the Enchanted Forest  eating insects. Sometimes there are two bats, but we call them both Monty because we can’t tell the difference between them. EJ always says he is concerned because we see only two. A lot of bats are dying from a disease.

The Turkey flock often comes up near the house to eat grasshopper or berries. It’s fun watching the young ones leap up to eat the berries from the bushes, as in this video:

Hannah continues to chase the cats–especially Timmy and Luke. She doesn’t hurt them, but we don’t want to encourage this undesirable behavior so I’ve been trying to teach her to leave them alone. I say, “Hannah, be nice” and I reward her if she chooses to come to me for a treat rather than chase a cat. Sometimes she growls or lunges at a cat and then runs to me for her treat, which makes EJ and me a bit concerned that she is becoming like Harry Benson, a character in Michael Crichton’s book, The Terminal Man. In the book, a man named Harry Benson suffered from violent seizures and blackouts during which he sometimes committed violent acts. Dr. Roger McPherson, head of the prestigious Neuropsychiatric Research Unit, was convinced he could cure Benson with an experimental procedure that would place electrodes deep in his brain’s pleasure centers, effectively short-circuiting Harry’s seizures with pulses of bliss. The surgery was successful…except Benson discovered that every time he was violent, the electrodes activated his pleasure center so it actually caused him to become MORE violent. I don’t want Hannah to become the Terminal Dog who feels rewarded when she goes after cats, so I try to reward her when I see her overcome temptation and choose her treat over chasing cats. It’s rather difficult to catch her in the moment of temptation. If she constantly goes after the cats, I shut her in the bedroom for a while because it’s annoying to have her launch herself from our laps. She is beginning to choose her treat instead of  chasing the cats, so I think that with patience she will learn.

Sunday morning EJ and I listed the home improvement projects we want to accomplish. We prioritized which ones we would still like to complete this year and which ones need to wait. In the next couple of months we need to buy a supply of straw for the garden and coop. We will also need to put fencing around the fruit trees to protect them from the deer who like to eat them in the Winter. And we’d like to get extra dog, cat, and chicken feed so we don’t run out in the Winter. Before Winter, EJ needs to fix the Xterra’s exhaust and get some new tires for the Suburban. We would really like to get a tractor with a snowblower on it because it’s very exhausting using the walk-behind snowblower for our very long, steep driveway. However, the tractor will have to wait until we can save more money. Maybe next year? I would like to get wooden railings around our small deck for the morning glories to climb instead of the t-posts and chicken wire, but that will be another year too.

We need gravel for our bumpy driveway.

At the top of our list is to get a load of gravel for the driveway, which has become quite bumpy. When we call the gravel guy, he will arrive with his dump truck and will dump several tons of gravel into our driveway. With wheelbarrow, shovels, rakes, and determination, we will spread it out to fill in the low spots. Our first summer here, we spread 90 tons of topsoil and gravel this way on and along the driveway to fix the awful erosion.

We also would like to extend the garden to get it ready for next Spring. We hope to double it in size and plant corn, asparagus, watermelon, among other things. Since we are thinking about planting them in the ground rather than in a raised bed, we will need to lay in some good dirt…but first things first. After we discussed our projects, EJ and I paced out the new area to figure out how many wooden posts we will needed for the fence. We have to fence our garden in or the deer will eat everything. Once our garden is surrounded by tall fences, and once our garden has been harvested, we can let the chickens in there. 

EJ loading the posts at Lowes

After we figured out how many wooden posts we needed, we drove to Lowes. We had to take the Suburban to transport the posts because they were too long for the Xterra. It was sort of an adventure because the front passenger door of the Suburban doesn’t open–we have to get it fixed but that’s not really a priority yet. I had to go through the driver’s side to climb over the middle console to get into my chair. We made several stops and each time it was a little bit more difficult to climb into and out of my chair. EJ said it was good exercise and we laughed.

At Lowes we bought 21 posts. We bought landscape timbers instead of regular fence posts because they were much, much cheaper–about $4 each instead of $12. The landscape timbers work just as well and we don’t need expensive posts for the garden fence. We will buy wire fencing at TSC in a paycheck or two–after we get the driveway gravel.

It was difficult to resist temptation.

After Lowes, we went to Jay’s Sporting Goods store. Next to Jay’s was a Cops & Donuts bakery, which just opened in the last year or two. The original Cops & Donuts is in Clare, Michigan. When a historic bakery that had been in business since 1896 was weeks from closing, the local Clare police department stepped in and bought it. It was a huge success and they have opened other branches, which they call “precincts,” in a few other Michigan cities. We always stopped at the Cops & Donuts headquarters in Clare when we were moving. The bakery goods are DELICIOUS and I was so tempted to stop in yesterday, but EJ has to stay away from sugary treats so I resisted temptation for his sake. But as we left Jays, I told him to grab my arm and not let me drift over to the bakery. If you are ever in a Michigan city that has a Cops & Donuts bakery, make sure you stop.

Our final stop was at the hardware store to get some paint for a whimsical project I am going to work on. I’ll tell you about that later when I get all the supplies together and start working on it.

Farm animals toilet paper holders. You can buy them at my Etsy store.

I didn’t sleep well last night–I got less than four hours of sleep–so I went back to bed after EJ left for work this morning. When I woke up again, I did laundry and continued working on a cute cow toilet paper holder for an Etsy customer. (You can buy them and other items at my Etsy store here.) I finished it today and boxed it, and I’ll take it to the posts office tomorrow. In between my other projects, I am working at creating a custom crocheted item for a friend.

I decided to put up a few wooden posts for the garden fence this afternoon, but our sandy soil is so dry that it poured out of the jaws of the post-hole digger like water. I got one post up and then decided to wait until we get some rain. We have a good chance to get some tonight and tomorrow.

There’s a lot to do in the next couple of months!

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