Tag Archives: Country Life

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Heirloom Peony

You may have noticed that I haven’t published many blog posts in the past couple of weeks. Time has been getting away from me. There is so much to do in the summer months that before I know it, it is time to cook dinner, hang out with my husband, and then off to sleep.

We have switched our hikes from the afternoon to the mornings. As it has gotten warmer (today excepted, rain and temperatures in the 50’s as June approaches!), it has been too warm for the dogs, and me!, to walk in the afternoons. Getting our walks in early has been good for several reasons. Besides it being cooler, it also helps the dogs burn off excess energy early in the day, so they are better behaved for the rest of it. Another plus is, there are less other walkers out and about when we go earlier. This is handy when you are trying to socially distance from people. It is also helpful when walking a reactive dog. There are less encounters that end with Zekie snarling and lunging at passersby which makes the whole adventure more peaceful.

And last but not least, walking in the morning has given us an opportunity to see birds and wildlife that we haven’t seen later in the day. Recently, we have sited a pair of scarlet tanagers, some orioles, some unspecified warblers, and heard birdsong that we hadn’t noticed before. I remember going birdwatching for ornithology class in college. We always left at 7:15 a.m. because that’s when you saw the most birds. Many birds are early risers. Silly birds!

We tend to get up earlier these days too. Claire the sheltie starts barking at first light and attempts at continued sleep become futile. It’s actually the cats’ fault. They know that as soon as one of us comes downstairs, they will get their breakfasts. So, when dawn breaks, the cats start tearing around the downstairs, chasing each other and wreaking havoc. This makes the dogs start barking, which was the cats’ plan all along. Once the barking starts, Claire continues until someone comes downstairs and puts her and the other dogs outside. Then all the dogs decide they are up and want their breakfasts too. No point in trying to sleep after all that.

Clematis

Once every member of the household, including humans, have had breakfast and a hike, it is at least mid-morning. That means it is now time for watering plants which takes up to an hour and a half. One of us does that and the other does some weeding, fertilizing, planting, or other plant maintenance. This takes us up to lunch time.

After lunch time, there may be errands to run. Going to the store for groceries, seeds, bedding plants and such. If there are no errands, we spend the afternoons on various projects such as moving or planting flowers, shrubs, greenery, or small trees. There is always something that needs weeding, and more gardening or mowing to be done.

Before I know what has happened, it is time for making and eating supper. We watch a bit of television and do some reading or crossword puzzles until bedtime. The days fly by so quickly that I wonder where they went and how I ever had time to work a 9 to 5 (or 6:30 to 3:00!) job. Occasionally, I miss that professional work life, but mostly having the freedom to do what I want without it, is great!

All these activities explain why I have been remiss in posting regular updates on the blog. In the end they will provide more subject matter for posts when I start taking photos of all those plants growing and blooming and share them here. If you want another way to keep up with what is going on here at Sanctuary Acres, you can also “Like” the page Sanctuary Acres | Facebook or follow us on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/sanctuary_acres/ . It is easier for me to take a moment to post a photo or two during the day than to write a blog post, so you will find more updates there. The blog posts also publish to my Facebook page so if you follow it, you will be sure not to miss any!

Thanks for reading!

Roses and clematis currently blooming.

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!

This Is My Bag Check!

Bag Check
Hiking Bag and Contents

Have you seen those photo ops called “this is my bag check”? Since I rarely go away these days, there is little point in doing my purse. Maybe it will be more exciting post-Covid.

But I do use this belt bag or fanny pack every day. I strap it on for hiking, to carry all my essentials. I used to keep these items in the many pockets of my parka, but with the changing seasons I kept changing coats and forgetting something.

So what do I take with me?

  • Poop bags-important on every outing!
  • House and car keys.
  • Face mask-a Covid essential.
  • Pepper spray-I never go on a hike without it since our scary run in with loose dogs. Encounter With Loose Dogs, Gone Bad
  • Tissues-I spared you those in the photo. Good to have when applying pressure to a wound, as well as the usual uses.
  • Cell phone-not pictured because I was using it to take the photo. Also useful for accessing maps, tracking distance, and as a compass.

Is there something unusual you never leave home without? Inquiring minds want to know.

Poop Is My Life! (Or gone to the dogs?)

Black and White
Contemplating My Life

In my life before retirement, I was a Water Treatment Scientist. My days consisted of testing various components in water and giving feedback and advice on how to adjust the treatment systems. I worked hands on, in the treatment of wastewater and drinking water. Drinking water is self explanatory. Wastewater, is basically anything that goes down your toilet and other pipes for disposal. Some businesses discharge chemicals and other wastes that must be dealt with, but for the average homeowner, your wastewater consists of poop, pee, and some “gray water”. So, my professional career involved dealing with other peoples’ poop.

You would think my dealings with poop would end there. Not so! I deal with the poop of other beings on a daily basis at home too. We have two cats and two litterboxes. Cats are fastidious creatures for someone who poops in a box. And we greatly hope that they continue to use these boxes. So every single day, I scoop the litterboxes. Cats, being the fickle creatures that they are, want a clean litterbox. You DON’T want to see what happens if you don’t keep up with the scooping. Every afternoon I scoop “the biscuits” into a plastic grocery store bag, carry it outside, and hang the bag on the fence to scoop dog poop into it too. I also sweep up the floor so the cats don’t get confused by any stray bits of litter on the wooden floor boards.

I only use Tidy Cat litter. This seems to me to produce the least amount of dust and to do the best job of containing odors. You don’t want anything to strike the cats as being unpleasant. We want them to keep using their giant toilets in our front hall. Which reside behind a baby gate to keep the dogs from using them as a buffet. But that is another story.

I mentioned dogs, so you know my poop story isn’t over yet. We have six dogs. They eat twice a day and so they poop AT LEAST twice times a day for a total of twelve times. Often more because, hey sh*t happens! You would think it would be as easy as scooping up the piles, throwing them in the bag and being done. HA! We have two dogs who think that poop is a fine delicacy to be enjoyed at every opportunity. One of us humans must go out with the dogs to be “playground monitor” each time. Otherwise, these two dogs will partake of the buffet. If you are lucky, the dogs will “leave it” when you yell at them. But mostly not. This results in me running around with the poop scoop trying to pick up sh*t as it happens. And you may think this sounds easy too. Again, not so! With six dogs, there is usually more pooping going on than I can keep up with. So, it deteriorates to me running after the offenders who have picked up the poop, yelling “drop it”. Sometimes this is effective. Other times, I must give chase and shake the poop scoop in the air as if I am going to bean the poop bandit over the head. (I only threaten, I never actually resort to violence.) I’m sure the neighbors must think I’ve gone insane.

The dog doing the pooping does not take kindly to all this activity taking place near his rear end. He often ends up finishing the job while waddling across the grass leaving a trail.

This used to be the end of the story. Now I have another saga to share. Oh, joy! One of the baby rabbits that was born some where in the vicinity of our vegetable garden in the spring time, has grown up. And apparently decided that the clover growing inside the fenced area where the dogs do their business is quite delectable. I never see him, but this bunny comes inside the fence and after dining, deposits his little bunny pellets in the dog yard. The dogs, of course, find this to be the caviar of their buffet. Even some of our dogs who don’t eat canine poop, will chomp on what the bunny leaves behind. I hoped that as the bunny grew, he would no longer be able to fit through the slats on our fence, but so far that has not happened. I suppose that is why the heartworm preventative that I give the dogs also contains other types of wormers. Living in the country rabbits, squirrels, mice, chipmunks, and so on, are always around.

Such is my life. And, you know what? I wouldn’t trade it.

Can You Take the Small Town Out of the Girl?

Portrait/Photo from 1964
Photo of yours truly from 1964.

Every so often an advertisement for a sweatshirt comes up on my Facebook feed that says “You can take this girl out of Beach City, but you can’t take Beach City out of this girl”. I would have to say this is fairly accurate. Our roots are something that stay with us for our entire lives. The experiences that we encounter growing up play a part in helping to form who we become.

Beach City is a small town near the southern border of Stark County, Ohio. I grew up there from the time I was born in 1962, until I moved away to attend college in 1983. It was a village of 1,200 people, give or take a few.  Even now, the population is just over 2,700. I thought we were “city people” because we lived on one of the two main streets that went through town.

I walked across the street to attend the local elementary school, and home again at the end of the school day, from kindergarten through 7th grade. The only exception to this was on my first day of 1st grade. Kindergarten was only for half a day, so 1st grade was my first full school day. I got in the wrong line at lunch time. I was supposed to eat lunch at school, but got in the line with kids who were sent home for lunch. Oh, the horror! So I dutifully marched across the street to my house. My mother was surprised to see me, especially since I was in tears because I got in the wrong line. My mother fed me a can of Chef Boyardee Ravioli and sent me back to school. These things are earth shattering when you are six years old. Enough so, that I still remember it clearly.

In case you have not guessed, my world was very small. I did not realize this. Like most youngsters, I thought everyone’s lives were this way. Three of my five aunts and uncles lived within walking distance in the same town as us. The other two lived the next town over. They and my cousins were a frequent part of my life.

Most of my time outside school was spent playing Barbie’s, riding my bicycle, walking my dog around town, reading, or sitting on the front porch swing watching the cars go by and daydreaming. Evenings were spent watching television with my mother. That was pretty much what happened every day of my life.

Once a week we would “go to town”. This meant driving to the larger towns of Dover and sometimes New Philadelphia in Tuscarawas County, to shop at department stores and grocery stores. Before doing the shopping on those days, we would often “go visiting” first since we were already in town. We often stopped to see my mom’s second cousin Janice where I got to play with her three children while the grown ups talked. Or perhaps we would see some family friends. Driving 12-15 miles for shopping seemed like a big deal in those days, so it was reserved for once a week. 

Other evenings, mom and I would ride bicycles to visit one of my cousins and spend a bit of time playing. This was big excitement once my cousin Eddie got a swimming pool. That was also the summer I finally learned to swim, despite having taken swimming lessons in previous years. You don’t learn to swim by getting in a pool five days a week, once a year.

Self Portrait
Me, about 56 years later.

Despite living in the country now, and being a few years older, my life isn’t all that different. I have a few more dogs but still take them on walks and hikes. I spend lots of time reading and sitting on the porch or patio and watching or listening as the cars go by. Evenings are often spent watching television with my husband.

In the photo from my childhood, although we lived in town, I was dressed like a country girl in my cowboy outfit complete with the boots. I called it my “cowby” clothes. The Sundays of my childhood were often spent going to the family-owned woods, adjoining the family farm and “running the dogs”. The farm was originally owned by my grandfather, later run by an uncle, and then the uncle’s son. I think that although we lived in town, this is where my country roots began.

So, I guess it really is true, you can’t take Beach City out of the girl.

The Passage of Time

Ice at West Branch State Park
Ice at West Branch State Park

My husband and I are still keeping isolated from other people as much as possible in an attempt to stay Covid-free. So far, so good. This puts us in an insular world. Each day is similar for us, but I do not always feel the same way about each day. Sometimes, they go by quickly. Other times they do not. It is not the days that are very different. It is my reaction and interpretation of them that changes.

Some days I miss my family with a longing that is all consuming. I think about them and all that I am missing with the growing up of my nieces. Lives are being lived and I am not a part of them. I know the Covid vaccine is being rolled out now, so we will be able to catch up and share in each other’s lives again. This is a great comfort. Each gathering will be that much sweeter because we will revel in the privilege of spending time together. By staying apart and safe for now, we will be blessed with much more time together. I guess one way to look at the past year’s isolation is that it is an investment in our future. We will be able to have a future and I can’t imagine a time ever again when I will not be grateful to spend time with family and friends.

Other days I am able to appreciate being at home with my dogs. Being free to spend time hiking and communing in nature. Being immersed in the environment, watching birds fly overhead, while walking beside the water is a good thing. Hearing the lap of the waves and the call of the birds is soul soothing. There are so many sounds, if we only listen. The wind blows through the dry leaves creating a pleasant rustle. The earth has it’s own sounds.

West Branch State Park

When I get back home, I am ready for a cup of tea and the warmth of the fire. The dogs are content to nap. I pass some time with a book and become immersed in another world for a bit. Then on to something a little more active. I bake several times a week. We are spoiled having homemade baked goods on hand at all times. I may write. And the routine of household cleaning and laundry is ever present.

It is amazing how these simple things, and a few others, expand to fill an entire day. I don’t know how I ever had time to work. I know the thing I missed out on the most while working a full time job was sleep. A good night’s sleep then was 7 hours. Usually I got only six. Now I sleep for the time that I choose, it is usually 8 to 8 1/2 hours of shut eye. The big difference is that I rarely nap and I don’t fall asleep while watching television at 9 o’clock each evening. Something that I was infamous for doing!

No matter how the days pass, pass they do. It is our job to take advantage of the time we are given. To live, to experience life. To appreciate the things that we encounter. To live a life that you are proud of. And it is never too late to begin.

Transformation of a Foster Dog

Claire the sheltie relaxing
Claire hanging out at home

Claire has been with us for a year now. She came to us as a foster dog last January. She was turned in with four other dogs from the same owner. The elderly owner knew that she was reaching the point where she could no longer give the dogs the care they deserved. So she made the heartbreaking decision to turn the dogs over to our sheltie rescue group. I really felt for this lady because these dogs were members of her family.

Claire became a permanent member of our family over the summer. She was with us longer than expected because of the pandemic. When there was finally a  serious inquiry into adopting her, I couldn’t bear it. I couldn’t let her leave. Luckily for me, that adoption fell through, so I didn’t have to let her go. I remember when things were up in the air. I spent an afternoon sobbing while weeding the vegetable garden and thinking about her departure. The neighbors must have thought that I had received bad news and had some dread disease the way I was crying. So, once it was determined that she wasn’t leaving, we adopted her.

She has undergone a transformation in her time with us. Not only has her coat become shiny and plush, but she has developed an outgoing personality. Upon her arrival, she was quiet and shy. This lasted the first few months. She kept to herself and didn’t interact much with the other dogs and did not seek attention from us either. Boy, have times changed. Now Claire comes up to us and pokes us with her nose for attention. She is very persistent. And she will put her front feet in your lap and sit beside you demanding that you pet her. If you don’t, you get “nosed” repeatedly.

Claire the sheltie relaxing with daddy

Claire relaxing with daddy

We are still working on obedience commands. She has mastered the sit.  And when I tell her to come, she approaches me and stops at the half way point. Any thing else is currently beyond her. We continue to work on commands and know that one day, she will get there.

Dogs playing frisbee in the snow
Claire and Baxter playing in the snow

Claire has recently developed enough skills that she is a pack member, playing with our five other dogs. At first she didn’t understand respectful boundaries in regards to the other dogs’ food and toys. Fortunately, our other dogs our quite tolerant of new dogs. They have survived enough foster dogs that they cut a new dog some slack until they learn the ropes.

I just put the dogs outside for a minute. Claire and our sheltie mix Zekie (Zeke the Wonder Dog) were chasing each other in circles and playing. And when the other dogs play frisbee, Claire tries to join in. She has yet to grasp the idea of picking up the frisbee, but she has a grand time running and barking with the rest of the pack.

I’m sure the changes in her will continue and we will enjoy watching the development. We are blessed to have her.