Category Archives: Country Life

In Honor of Earth Day

Ice at West Branch State Park
Lake Shoreline

I started this post on Earth Day, but got sidetracked because we were working on starting a fruit orchard just outside the back door. We now have five blueberry bushes and a plum tree there. Two of the blueberries went in last year and we just added three more, plus the plum tree. We still want to buy two peach trees and add those to the mix. Elsewhere on our property we already have serviceberries, plums, a pear tree, heirloom cherries, and black raspberries.

Blueberry Bush

So, although I missed publishing this post on Earth Day, we did honor the day by planting and that benefits the planet. Yay!

Newly transplanted plum tree

And this post is a two-fer, a two for one if you will. It includes below, what I wrote with the intention of posting on Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day is celebrated each year on April 22, with its inception in 1970. Earth Day started in the United States, but has grown to be acknowledged worldwide. It’s goal is to make people aware of environmental issues. That is also the year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came into being, so focus then was obviously on our environment.

It can be a bit frightening to look around our world and see the state it is in. So many animal species are extinct, endangered, or threatened. Even some of our favorites, rhinoceroses, gorillas, lions and tigers, to name a few , are in danger of leaving this world forever. Many plant species and ecosystems such as the rainforests, seem to be on their way out of this world too.

The outlook feels grim. But, it is not too late. Most of these changes have occurred because of man and his impact on our small blue sphere. Men (and by this I mean Homo sapiens, men and women, humans. Us!) have behaved in a very egocentric way. For generations, we have thought only about what is good for us. Our immediate selves. We didn’t consider plants, animals, or the planet as a whole. Heck, we rarely even thought about other humans unless we knew them.

We can no longer afford the luxury of this way of thinking. The planet will soon no longer be able to sustain us in the way we have become accustomed to, or eventually, at all. But as I said, it is not too late. One of the heroes of my adult life is Jane Goodall. She was one of the first female field researchers of modern times. I suspect everyone is familiar with her story. She studied chimpanzees in Africa, fulfilling a childhood dream. She went on to be a spokesperson for saving our world and the environment. She has made it her life’s work. And after devoting a lifetime studying these things, she still has hope. And I believe her! She is after all, a scientist.

Jane has programs, works, books, and teams with the goal of helping our world. She has programs for children, conservation, primates, and even one to promote hope. Home – Jane Goodall’s Good For All News You can check out what she has to say at the link. My point is, if she believes it is not to late to save our world with all she knows about it, let us do what we can too.

I realize that we can’t all do historic acts like Jane. But, we can all do something!

A Disjointed Morning

Zekie assisting momma during her on-line college class.

Today is one of those days. My activities are varied and unrelated. Do you have those days too? There is no flow and they don’t make any sense.

View of our burning bushes over the dog yard fence.

First off, remember how I said Mother Nature was confused? Mother Nature Is Confused Well, was she ever! I woke up to three inches of snow this morning. On April twenty first. In Ohio.

Azalea blanketed in snow.

We were more fortunate than others. I saw on my Facebook feed this morning that some of my friends who live closer to Lake Erie had seven inches of snow. Ours’ is mostly melted now that it is mid-afternoon. So far, our plants don’t seem to have sustained a lot of damage. We will be better able to tell when things have thawed out again tomorrow.

View out the back door this morning.

So, more about my morning. Since I didn’t want to go outside, I thought it would be a fine day to our our dog rescue’s taxes, so I did. I worked on the filing and figures for a bit the previous days. Non-profit taxes are due on May 15th, so don’t worry, I wasn’t late. And non-profits don’t actually pay taxes, at least for smaller groups. There may be a filing fee on a sliding scale, but mostly the filing is to make sure you are legitimate.

After that was out of the way, I moved on to baking. We were out of sweets, except for ice cream, which is nearly always in the freezer and it is too cold to eat that today. I baked cranberry-orange scones with maple icing. They turned out to be very tasty. I will provide that recipe another day. I also baked lime-ginger cookies made with spelt flour because hubby is on a low-gluten kick. The cookies taste good, but they are very flat and dark in color because of the spelt flour. Not the best thing I have ever made but they serve the purpose.

Refer back to the first photo in this post. This is how Zekie decided that I should attend a portion of my college course on The Science of Well-Being this morning. It’s ok, the lectures are pre-recorded so no one knew. Apparently, I was paying too much attention to the computer for too long to suit Zekie. I get a kick out of this dog. He is so interactive. After I petted him on my lap for a while, he got down and went back to sleep. A few other dogs nosed me for pets throughout the class too, but none are as insistent as Zekie. This is the major benefit of working from home. There are dogs.

And that is how I passed my morning. Once again, life is good.

Mother Nature Is Confused

Garden Entrance on a Spring Day. Dogwood in foreground.

This is the time of year when Mother Nature can’t make up her mind. Should I be warm and sunny or warm and cloudy, perhaps rainy, or should I make it snow? It has been mostly warm and spring like and our plants have taken off and produced beautiful blooms and leaves. The overnight forecast is for 27 degrees and snow.

Blossoms on one of our plum trees.

We are not happy about the cold temperature and the possibility of snow. Mother Nature wreaks havoc on our yard. Frost now is likely to kill off any potential fruit for this year on our plum, cherry, serviceberry, mulberry, and pear trees. Not to mention the flowers that will suffer. We got a late freeze last year too. Even the hydrangeas in the walled garden were set back and didn’t bloom until later in the summer.

Redbud tree.

Before I invested so much effort into gardening, the weather didn’t matter so much to me. It was, what it was. If it was cold for a night, then the heater ran in the house and the next day was better. It wasn’t on my mind. Now, one night like this can do irreparable damage for the growing season. For us, this is mostly an inconvenience. For farmers, this can be catastrophic. Their livelihood relies on plants and trees. A late frost can drive up prices for the next year as produce must be shipped from far away until next year when we can try again. I notice these events even more since I retired and spend so much time gardening.

I have blueberry bushes to worry about this year too. From what I read, they should be ok since they are just getting their leaves for the year and don’t have flower buds yet. We planted two blueberry bushes last year and I am picking up three more bushes on Thursday. I hope to be inundated with blueberries in a few years.

Viburnum blossoms.

So, we enjoy the blooms while we can and hope that the weathermen are wrong!

Sanctuary Acres: The Meaning Behind the Name

Our Home-Sanctuary Acres

As you know, the name of my blog is Sanctuary Acres. Today I’m going to share with you the origins of this name.

Sanctuary Acres is what I call my home. And this house is not the first Sanctuary Acres. I picked this name when I was a single divorcee living at my last house in Mantua, Ohio. After my first husband left, one of the things I decided to get into was dog rescue to spend time making a difference. I volunteered with a few different rescue groups. These covered the gamut. I was: a Board Member for the Portage County Animal Protective League, and volunteered for Northeast Ohio Collie/Sheltie Rescue, and Greyhound Adoption of Ohio. I did these concurrently.

I wanted my home to be a place where any who came, felt safe and cared for. This included animals as well as friends. I wanted it to be a place that all felt safe and welcome. I thought the name Sanctuary Acres covered it. I took in a few dogs on my own and found them new homes, before fostering for any organized groups. I fostered dogs and a few kittens while at the first Sanctuary Acres.

I was in the process of founding Northeast Ohio Shetland Sheepdog Rescue, Sheltie Rescue in Ohio (neossr.org) when I moved to our next and current home. I wanted the same feelings of safety and welcome to apply to my new home, so I kept the name. Sanctuary Acres is as much a feeling as it is a location. Shortly after moving to this home more than 17 years ago I gained a husband and a daughter. We have fostered over 50 dogs, mostly shelties with a few others sprinkled in for good mix. And I continue to hope this is a place where all feel welcome and safe. One of the hopes as we work in the gardens here, is that we have the opportunity to share the joy they bring with others.

So, when it came time to pick a blog name, I thought Sanctuary Acres summed it up best. I wanted to write and share various things that make my life what it is. This gives me the freedom to decide with each post if I want to write about dogs, cats, rescue issues, cooking and baking, gardening, books and reading, or share thoughts that I happen to be having. They are all part of my Sanctuary Acre’s life.

I hope you take joy in following along with me on the journey, whether it happens to be with an every day happening or one of the crazy occurrences that is bound to happen around here!

Shelby and Zekie are Great!

Sheltie

Shelby working on growing fur.

It’s been two and a half months since Shelby and Zekie were attacked by two loose dogs while we were out hiking. They are doing great!

Shelby is working on growing back the fur on her leg that had to be shaved to examine her wounds. Other than that she is back to normal. She doesn’t even appear to have any behavioral problems.

Sheltie
Shelby the therapy dog.

I was concerned that it would affect her trust and make her behave differently which would be a big deal since she is a certified therapy dog, even though the program has been on hiatus due to Covid. I am happy to report that Shelby is doing just fine.

Happy dog
Zekie

Zekie is also doing great. He didn’t have much in the way of wounds and no changes to his behavior. He is the same nut case he has always been.

Dog returning

Actually, Zekie’s behavior is slightly improved lately because he continues to have a job. He chases geese off of our neighbor’s pond as needed. She calls on the phone to request his services. He is quite proud of himself, as he should be. My husband has seen Zekie work and he says it looks like Zekie does the work to please me, rather than because it brings him joy. That’s ok. The focus is good for him and the joy comes when he runs back to me and into my arms.

So, even though we suffered some trying times immediately after the attack, there have been no long term effects. We are all happy and healthy!

Have You Heard These Love Songs?

I love the sound of tree frogs in the spring. This evening I stood at the fence line overlooking our neighbor’s property and pond, just to listen to them. You can listen to them too in the video above! I used to call them all peepers. I learned that these chirpy spring singers are tree frogs, but not all are peepers.

The songs of the different types of frogs are distinguishable if you listen closely. Some are chirpy. Some are croaky. Others trill. I’m sure they are like birds, in that if you study them, you will learn to tell them apart. For now, I just enjoy their songs.

I love to hear them to the point that I will stand outside the back door in the evening and listen to them. Other times, like this evening, I will walk closer to listen to the symphony as they perform. Mostly they sing at dusk although if it is rainy and damp they will make their music during the daytime as well.

I used to think that I heard one call and a future mate give an answering chirp. I recently discovered that only the males sing, so this is not the case. More likely, one is trying to out sing the other and proclaim his superior virility to all female frogs in the area.

And so, when I stand by and listen to the tree frogs sing, what I am hearing are amphibian love songs. No wonder they sound so sweet.

Appreciating Spring Time Flowers

Spring Still Life

It’s that time of year. Spring has sprung. The weather has changed to pleasantly warm days that are excellent for being outside and working. And also, for appreciating the new life erupting forth from the earth. This statue has seen better days. She was left here by a former owner of this property, but her work is not done. She still elicits a smile as she ushers in each season.

I love the way this euonymus (above, behind the statue) has chosen to grab hold of the fence post and climb. This plant is usually a ground cover. I don’t know what got into this one, but I love it. We have two euonymus, one green and yellow, the other, green and white. Both were given to me by friends and I think of them often when I walk by this bed.

Daffodils

This is a close up of the daffodils in the statue bed above. I love their pastel color and their fancy, ruffled “skirts”. I don’t know their provenance. They pre-date my coming to live here and will probably still be there when I have gone.

More daffodils!

This is another type of daffodil we have. I think of them as the standard daffodil. We have them all over the place. There are giant clumps in the perennial bed beside the house and in many other flower beds as well as throughout our woods and growing across the street along the roadside. I have begun splitting them in the fall of the year, so we continue to have even more! Last year I split a clump that I moved there about ten years ago and dug up over 50 bulbs! If you know me, you know that I do not like the color yellow. Truth be told, I have thrown things away because they are yellow. Daffodils are my exception. They are one of the earliest flowers to bloom and bring so much joy. I can’t help but like them.

Daffodils in the woods.

This shows just a few of the clumps of daffodils blooming in our wood right now. There are many. Taking yard debris back to the far end of the property where we dump it is a pleasant trip.

View coming out of our woods.

This is the view coming out of our woods which covers the back half of our property. You can see more clumps of daffodils, and the garage and workshop on the left. On the right hand side of the path is a portion of next year’s wood, split, stacked, and seasoning for next winter.

Primrose.

I include this shot of a primrose that I planted last year. I bought it at a big box store and it sat on our bathroom window sill all spring and into the summer. It was beginning to die, so I stuck it in one of the patio flower beds to see what it would do. This year, I was encouraged when it sprouted up out of the soil. You can’t tell from the photograph but it is the biggest primrose I have ever seen in my life. I had no idea they grew this big. Might this be a metaphor for life? Don’t give up, you still have the ability to flourish? I choose to believe this is so.

As we move farther into spring, followed by summer, you can expect more gardening posts from me once again. But never fear, there will still be lots about dogs. Follow my blog if you want to keep up to date!

Books I Read in March 2021, and a Slice of Country Life

Bloodroot seen on our hike today.
  1. A Year in Provence-Peter Mayle (Non-fiction)

The author describes how he and his wife bought a house in Provence. There are many amusing tales from his first year. He shares a real flavor of local life and you meet many people from the town. A good read. I will keep this book on my shelf and read it again in the future.

2. The Rural Diaries-Hilarie Burton Morgan (Non-fiction)

The author and her husband are both actors. They find and live their best lives in rural New York state. The author turns out to be a down to earth girl and seeing their farm and connection to the community grow is heartwarming. Definitely worth reading.

3. Dragon Teeth-Michael Crichton

This book was published posthumously, and I can still say, I haven’t read a Michael Crichton book I didn’t like. This one has science, dinosaurs, and the old West. I got sucked in and read it very quickly.

4. Bodie on the Road-Belinda Jones (Non-fiction)

The author suffers a break up and adopts a shelter dog to be her companion. After a few weeks together, they take a road from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, with many stops along the way. Belinda and Bodie both have a fabulous time. It is healing for both of them. Loved this book!

5. The Solace of Bay Leaves-Leslie Budewitz

This book falls into the cozy mystery category. Although I enjoyed this book, it took me a while to finish because once I put it down, I was not drawn back to it. May have been my fault and not the book’s. Pepper Reece, former lawyer, now owns a spice shop. She has a busy life between her boyfriend, friends, shop workers, and the police investigation. She still finds time to solve a murder and another attempted murder.

If you can only read one book from this list, I would read…play drumroll here!…A Year in Provence. I had a difficult time choosing between this one and Dragon Teeth, but since A Year in Provence is the book I am likely to re-read, it has to get my vote.

A Slice of Country Life

This was another month that I did not do a good job of keeping up with my reading. Too much time devoted to dogs and hiking, I guess. It is only likely to get worse, as far as me having time to read. Gardening season has begun.

Hubby did the first tilling of the vegetable garden this morning, and maintenance of the asparagus bed. Then I planted various lettuces, spinach, and a few turnips and beets. After that we raked up branches and pine cones in the front yard from the winter, and I cleaned dead leaves and debris from the little flower bed beside the house. Don’t worry, these are hauled to a pile in our woods, so any pollinator eggs and larva are still nearby.

We went for our usual hike in the afternoon. Our life is always an adventure and nothing ever goes exactly as planned. I ended up with dog poop on my shirt early on in the walk from a pick up attempt gone awry. A little farther up the trail, Zekie walked up behind a garter snake that he didn’t see until the last minute. He started high stepping in reverse to get away from it. It was quite comical.

There’s never a dull moment. And so, life is good!

Rocky Trail Hike: Are You Up for It?

Rock Face
Rock Face from our hike.

We took a hike on the Rock Face Trail at West Branch last week. We had put this one off at my request because I didn’t want to undertake it when it was snowy and possibly slippery. It turned out that the biggest challenge was the rocks used in paving the trail. This is also a mountain bike trail and marked for experts only. We took this warning to apply to mountain bikes and thought hiking would be no problem. And the trail is definitely hikeable, although the going is slow. I had to stop once and get Shelby out from between two rocks. She could have done it, but I knew she was tired by then and at eleven years old, I didn’t want her straining herself.

What I can’t figure out is why someone would want to ride their bicycle over all those rocks. The trails generally go back and forth over a small area distance-wise. What you could walk quickly as the crow flies, becomes a ribbon maze to create more distance. And of course, the up and down and bumping and jarring from riding over the rocks. I’m thinking it must be a young person’s activity. Something to be pursued before you have achy joints and you still have more cushioning left between your bones.

Hiking
Hiking beside a rock formation.

Of course, hubby and the bigger dogs always fare better than me and the shorter dogs. For some reason I am also the only one who seems to have problems keeping my footing and not sliding in the mud.

Rock formation
Another rock formation.

Mercifully, for these types of formations, the trail goes around the rock face and not up and over, or down. I don’t think I could handle that. It is always exciting to see new things along the trails. The trees are starting to bud out and new green shoots are springing forth from the soil.

By the time we get back home, I am ready for a cup of tea and a bit of reading. The dogs are ready for a nap.

Baxter having a nap.