Monday, August 29, 2011

Silage and sneezes

Between the massive floods and the massive heat waves, the fate of our Corn crop teetered precariously between success and sogginess. Alas, we emerged victorious.

For the past two and next four days our trusty farm crew will be chopping, hauling, packing, chopping, hauling packing ( do you get the pattern here? ) whole corn stalks from our west 80 pasture to the feed bunk area.

Normally we'd have the whole river bottom full of corn to chop, haul and pack as well but we all know what happened to that!!

So we are here and I thought I'd be a good wife and ride along with Hoag who was in charge of half of the hauling and packing.  Romantic huh?  Nice little picnic lunch, nice little quality time together, nice little excessively runny nose and non stop sneezing. 

I am notorious for ferocious Aug - first freeze allergies and find myself being exiled to the house.  ( I also get in trouble because I love having the windows open in the fall even though it makes me miserable)  Ragweed is my cryptonite and AC is my safe place. 

What was supposed to be a nice quiet afternoon with Hoag turned into an hour of misery shared by both of us and me snapping as many photos as I could to come up with something for this blog. In between my achoos and sniffles I think it turned out ok!

We'll use this whole chopped corn stalk and ears to add to our ground hay along with the distillers grain and mineral to feed our girls, their babies and the bulls throughout the winter.

Mowing down a few rows at a time, grinding and shooting into the big tub
Then Hoag backs the dump truck up as the big tub empties into the bed
Off to chop more rows as we unload
You can't tell me this doesn't look delicious. Come and Get it!!

Then they pack pack pack. Back and Forth until its all nice and tight to maintain all the moisture to keep it from drying out.
Now time to come up with something yummy from my safe, pollen free, AC kitchen!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mike Rowe is my hero.

On a little stroll around the world wide web I found this article and it literally had me standing up and clapping. (Embarrasing becuase I was in the office)  Mike, (can I call him mike? I feel so close to him now)  says everything I think and with such Gusto that it makes you want to hug him, or your computer screen, which would be an equally awkward moment as me standing in my office cheering at my desk.   Check it out and spread the word. Mike Rowe has it all figured out.

Tonight I watch Food Inc., I can only imagine I'll be a little more than fired up this week.
...A few months ago in fact - proving once again that my plans and my life have little in common – I returned to Indianapolis a lot cleaner, and a lot less anonymous, to deliver the keynote address at The 82nd National Convention of The Future Farmers of America (10/21/09).

For those of you who don’t know, The FFA is an organization of 500,000 teenagers, most of who look like they fell off the front of a Wheaties box. Wholesome, polite, and impossibly well mannered, these are the kids you wish you had, diligently pursuing an adolescence of agricultural acumen. Unfortunately, I arrived at their annual convention with the same level of planning and forethought I brought on my last visit, (i.e., none,) and found myself pacing in the wings twenty minutes before my appearance, trying to arrange my thoughts into an “inspirational and G-Rated message.” Luckily, I happened to glance down at the “FFA Briefing Packet,” recently handed to me by one of the organizers, and found some inspiration on page 4.
“The FFA currently faces an image and perception problem. The previous name of the organization, “Future Farmers of America,” lends itself to stereotyping by the public. The FFA faces a continuing battle to redefine itself against narrow perceptions of “agriculture,” “vocational” and “farmers.” The name “FFA” is now used instead of “Future Farmers of America.”

Incredible. Have we really become so disconnected from our food that farmers no longer wish to be called farmers? Apparently, yes. The FFA has determined that most Americans think of farmers like those actors in Colonial Williamsburg – smiling caricatures from Hee Haw and Green Acres, laboring quaintly in flannel and denim. From what I’ve seen, they’re right. Over and over I hear the same thing from farmers I’ve met on Dirty Jobs. Technical advances in modern agriculture now rival those of Silicon Valley, and today’s farms are more efficient than ever, but no one seems to have gotten the memo. No one seems to care.
The question is “why?” and fifteen minutes later I was on stage, trying to provide a sensible answer to an audience of 55,000 future farmers who preferred to be called something else. I talked about the power of labeling and the dangers of typecasting, from Hollywood to Iowa. I relied upon my own mistakes and misperceptions to make my points, (no shortage there,) and told some stories about the education I’ve received in the course of shooting Dirty Jobs. I don’t know that I was “inspirational” per se, but at the conclusion I was presented with some lovely parting gifts, and left the stage to thunderous applause. In short, I had a blast, and think the kids did as well.
Later that night though, I discovered that there had also been some grown-ups in attendance. Some very serious grown-ups who run the kinds of organizations that actually put the food on our plates. People like Chad Gregory. Chad’s a big shot with The United Egg Producers, and claimed to have enjoyed my comments immensely. He is also convinced that the PR challenges facing groups like The FFA are not only real, but critically relevant to anyone addicted to chewing and swallowing things.
Chad believes we have started down a slippery path that will forever change our nation’s food supply. He talks passionately about the need for people to get educated about the realities of feeding a growing population, and foresees a time when our country imports more food than it ships out. Chad says that without massive awareness and sweeping change, egg production in California will be all but eliminated by 2015, and that thanks to recent ballot initiatives, the process has already begun. He points to the confusion around the “free-range” issue, and the power of groups like The Humane Society, who have taken their agenda to a whole new level. According to Chad, one of their intended goals is now the elimination of all US animal-based agriculture.
Chad wasn’t alone. Walking around Indianapolis I had dozens of similar encounters with a variety of people, all deeply concerned about the future of food production in this country, and frustrated that the relevant issues have been framed by well-funded political organizations with very specific agendas. I listened to stories from agri-scientists about environmental groups fiercely opposed to biotechnical and chemical breakthroughs that would dramatically increase food production worldwide. I saw literature from PETA that likened beef production to “genocide.” And a young farmer named Travis told me about a \$1,200 fine levied by OSHA, because the bottom rung on one of his ladders was bent.
As I spoke with various farmers that evening, I realized that I had asked the wrong question. “Why?” is too easy. Obviously, today’s farmers need a PR Campaign because they are beset by an army of angry acronyms, each determined to change modern agriculture in a way that better reflects their particular worldview. The better question is “How.” How is it that 300 million Americans – all addicted to eating – have become disconnected from the people who grow our food? What new priorities have captured our shared concern?
The answer depends entirely upon whom you ask. PETA has one response; The Sierra Club has another. The Humane Society might see it differently than The EPA, and Greenpeace has a different reply than OSHA. Fair enough; it’s a free country. But how did these organizations get so much power? Are their arguments really that compelling? Are their leaders really that charismatic? Are their members really that enlightened? Or has our prosperity created a toehold for ideas that would have simply died on the vine one or two generations ago?
Imagine The HSUS successfully closing down California egg production back in …1960. Or in the same year, imagine OSHA fining a family farm \$1,200 for a bent ladder. Imagine telling hungry Americans decades ago that environmental policy would make it impossible to maximize food production. I’m not looking for a fight – really, I’m not. I understand that different things are important to different people, and I don’t begrudge anyone’s right to champion the issues that matter most to them. But what’s more important than eating? What’s more important than feeding a hungry planet, and supporting the people who grow our food?

On Dirty Jobs, I’m no expert, and I’m even less of one here. But I have a theory, and it goes like this – all jobs rely on one of two industries – mining and agriculture. Every tangible thing our society needs is either pulled from the ground, or grown from the ground. Without these fundamental industries there would be no jobs of any kind. There would be no economy. Civilization begins with miners and farmers, and polite society is only possible when skilled workers transform those raw materials into something useful or edible.
I started, because I think we’ve become disconnected from that basic premise. I think we’ve simply forgotten about the underlying industries upon which all else depends, and as a result, created for ourselves a vocational identity crisis. Our collective definition of a “good job” has evolved into something that no longer resembles Work, and that has detached us from a great many things, including our food, and the people who provide it.

Could this be the root cause of the FFA’s “perception problem?” Could our warped view of the modern farmer be just another symptom of our warped relationship with work in general? It’s just a theory, but how else can we explain a country that marginalizes and stereotypes the very people we depend on most? From what I’ve seen, most people like farmers. Most people like food. The problem is Work. We’ve spent decades trying to distance ourselves from traditional notions of Work. And who embodies Work more than The American Farmer?

If Chad’s right, U.S. animal agriculture is under siege, and we’re well on our way to getting our eggs from China and our beef from Brazil. Perhaps this would please The Humane Society. Perhaps PETA would like to see those items removed from menu’s altogether, and that’s fine. People often disagree about important matters, but without context, the bigger issue gets lost. This is our food supply we’re talking about – not the size of a chicken’s cage, or the resistance to chemically enhanced soil. We already rely on the world for our energy. Do we really want to rely on them for our food as well?

I auditioned the other day for the voiceover on a TV commercial about the American Farmer. (Yeah, I still audition.) I don’t recall the whole thing, but it started out like this – “Every year we demand more and more from our farmers. More food from less land. More food from less energy. More food from less labor. And every year our farmers deliver.”
I believe that to be a true statement. I also believe that as a country, we haven’t made it easy for them. Two percent of our population provides the rest of us with all the food we need, and we behave as though it’s our birthright. Like nothing we do can threaten the abundance. It seems to me that as a country, we could do a better job of supporting the people who feed us. And we could start by acknowledging the incredible challenges facing The American Farmer.
But I digress.
All I really wanted to do was congratulate The FFA for their good work, and thank them for inviting me back to Indianapolis. I spend a lot of time these days talking about the importance of getting dirty – mostly with white-collar workers who don’t really know what I’m getting at, which is fine. Preaching to the choir doesn’t do much but bore the choir, so I rarely take the opportunity to talk to groups who already “get it.”... "

WASNT THAT GREAT?!?!? Hmmmm, I feel like my Saturday is complete. Happy weekends everyone!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

All is well...

It rained last week.  And it rained today.  And the earth is just a little bit happier.

In other news, we got the babies vaccinated.  Unfortunately this lady had to work downtown during that whole experience and I've yet to convince Hoag to take over the camera when I can't be there. This dang city job really gets in the way of what I love to do.

So, I distract myself with the things I'm looking forward to on the ranch the next few weeks.

A) Getting back out to the hills to see all the babies and how they've grown over the summer

B) Preg checking the cows and then running back to the home place to give the bulls their proverbial fist bump for their success this year.

C) Getting through weaning.  Although it is a necessary and oober important part of raising cattle, my mom heart always has a hard time that first day.  But, I know that within three days those babies will be off in their own pasture happy as clams and the mom's will be in their "spa" drinking green leaf mimosas and chatting about their latest soap opera developments. ( hey, you never know!!)

D) Opening the feedlot and having everyone back home. There's something so reassuring to having all your cattle back right where you can hear, see and smell them every day.  I imagine its something like having all your kids back from college for the summer.

E) Fall.  I know its still just a twinkle in our eye but my favorite season of the year deserves lots of build up for all its beauty.  I can already smell the first wafts of chimney fires .

    Friday, August 19, 2011

    Salads Galore!!

    With all the delicious veggies I had, Hoag and I really tried to break out of the traditional Italian salad and dressings and see how creative we could get.  Here are a few of our favorites.  I'll certainly work on getting the recipes up for them but they're almost self explanatory! Enjoy!!

    Crab and mango salad with a honey lemon vinaigrette.  This is a great refreshing salad with a little oomph.  The crab salad is simply jumbo lump crap meat, mangos, a little red peppers, onion and cilantro mixed in with 2 Tbsp of mayo.  Put that decadent concoction on a bed of greens with some avacado to boot and top with a quick mix of lemon juice, honey, S&P and a little evoo.  Enjoy a quick little escape to the coast!!

    From there we mix it up big time with a warmer deeper flavor profile.  For this salad for a crisper summer night you take your bed of greens and drizzle with just a little evoo and S&P.  Brown up some bacon in a skillet ( normally I'd encourage you to bake it off in a broiler pan to reduce the fat content but we need all those delicious drippings.. mmmmmm)  Chop up your browned bacon and add that to your greens along with your quick pickled beets and a poached egg (don't forget a splash of vinegar if your eggs aren't straight from the hen! ) Add a little avocado and  a little red onion to keep the flavors bright.  Now go back to the sinful bacon drippings, add half a shallot and one clove minced garlic and simmer.  Once that becomes fragrant whisk in some balsamic vinegar ( you can use what your beets were pickled in if you have extra) and reduce just for a few minutes until slightly thickened.  Pour over entire salad and enjoy!!
    Salad Nicoise? Oui, S'il vous plait! This traditional french salad carries a pretty heavy reputation for such a simple throw together.  Don't be intimidated by Julia Child's three page recipe like I was.  Take this quick and easy tour down the coast of France and you'll be Oui Ouing with the best of them.  (p.s. I'm a big fan of doing things in one pot. Some people don't like their flavors to mix so use as many pans as you see fit. ) Lay out a bed of greens and sprinkle with a little EVOO and S&P. In one small pot at two or three eggs, cover with water and bring to a boil. As soon as its boiling, turn off heat, cover pot and let cook for ten minutes.  Rinse eggs under cool water and peel.  In the meantime, cut up three red potatoes cover with water and bring to a boil.  When almost fork tender, throw in a handful of hericot verts or snapped green beans and finish off both potatoes and beans for about three minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold water.  Slice up a tomato, bust out a can of your favorite white chunk tuna and get ready to assemble.  For presentation purposes I always put this salad together like above but it involves a lot of cutting afterwards.  You do what works with your time frame.  For the dressing mix together half lemons juice, tspn of Dijon mustard, 3 Tbsp red wine vinegar or white balsamic (different flavors totally but both work good) S&P and a shallot.  Stream in EVOO until desired consistency and a pinch of sugar for good luck.  Enjoy!
    And finally, this traditional summer salad that everyone can enjoy.  This would be amazing over spinach but I use what I have and I usually have romaine.  For a little twist I sprinkled my chicken with smoked paprika and a little ground clove.  Strange combination but I'm always up for an adventure.  Grill your chicken breast until done and let rest.  Meanwhile, toast up some chopped up almonds in a pan until just fragrant.  Slice up half a red onion, a few strawberries ( any berries would be great on this) and pile on your plate . For the dressing we go back to the lemon juice, honey, a little white wine vinegar, S&P and a stream of EVOO until it tastes just right to you.  If you're feeling really naughty some goat cheese or Feta on this salad would be Divine. 

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011

    The last straw...

    This sure has been a year for the books. We started out with incredible flooding putting hundreds of thousands of acres of  farmland under water and ended with record breaking droughts.  With these tumultuous weather patterns, ranchers throughout the south and southern Midwest states are struggling to find hay for their cattle. What does it all mean?  Let me break it down for you.

    For our ranch and many other ranches out there we have two different pasture areas; our summer pastures which are in the flint hills and full of nutritious natural grasses that are rested throughout late fall, winter and spring and grazed heavily from May - September. These are larger pastures and generally consists of grasses that thrive in the excessive heat that Kansas summers can bring.  And then we have our winter pastures that are brome based so the cattle also receive their feed and supplements through bunk feeding. These pastures are located on our home place and are the birthplace to all of our registered cattle

    This year, the super excessive heat has dried out many farmers' and ranchers' summer pastures which means less nutritional forage for their cattle.  Couple that with a reduction in the availability of hay due to drought and the affordability of hay due to increasing prices and you've got yourself in quite a pickle.

    How did we get here?  Well, there is almost 14% less mixed hay coming off the fields than this time last year. That is the lowest output we've had since the great flood of '93 that put 15 million acres of Midwest farm land under water.  The hay that is being produced is mainly in the northeast side of the Midwest and these farmers are now having farmers and ranchers in the south and troubled Midwest states asking for hay.  In these desperate times, these farmers and ranchers are willing to pay a premium for the available hay but then you have to add in shipping (from Iowa to Texas, for example) so you have the increased fuel prices to boot on these already high hay costs. Supply and demand is a natural Eb and Flo of our economy but when you throw mother nature in there, nobody can predict from year to year. 

    Now, with prices being higher for feed and natural grasses getting too dry and burnt up, some cattle farmers have no choice but to sell their cattle early to feed lots.  These larger feedlots are always contracting out their feed at least a year in advance so they are generally set on having enough feed for the amount of animals they can hold.  Smaller farmers and ranchers (like us) try to grow a majority of their feed, (i.e. Corn, hay, wheat) so we only have to depend on others for a smaller percentage of our feed.  For us, in a perfect year, we would only have to purchase distillers grain and mineral to supplement our silage and feed mixture.  This year, we had to find close to 400 round bales to ensure we had enough for our cattle this winter.  Luckily Hoag Sr. always knows a few people to call on for just such emergencies. 

    But in the end, this is just another drought in another year and the Farmers and Ranchers of America will rise to the challenge and continue to provide healthy and nutritious meals for you as they have all the years in the past. The biggest difference today is that we don't have the support of the nation rooting us on.  On top of having to negotiate with Mother Nature herself we're constantly being bombarded with HSUS and PETA lies and misleading commercials that are filling the nation's head with nothing but garbage.  We need to rally behind our Farmers and Ranchers, support the small family businesses and say No to celebrity spokespeople who just want you to know the "Truth". You want the truth? Stop by a local farm or ranch and ask the people that live those lives every day. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised. 

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Garden Fresh Salsa... and more!

    If you've never had salsa made with all fresh from the garden ingredients, you haven't quite lived.  The fresh sweet flavor of the warm off the vine tomatoes coupled with the insanely intense flavor of  your red onions all mixed together with garlic, jalapeno, cilantro and lime? It's heaven. 

    Disclaimer: This salsa gives you "dragon breath" so I would recommend not eating it at work for lunch while trying lease lofts to unsuspecting clients.  I almost killed three people today. 

    This is so easy I almost feel like I'm cheating putting it up as a recipe.

    3 large tomatoes chopped
    1 large onion chopped
    1 bundle of cilantro chopped
    1 jalapeno chopped
    2 cloves garlic chopped
    2 limes juiced
    Don't leave fresh salsa in the kitchen while you go unload pictures... this is vanishing salsa... magic salsa.
    Mix it all together and enjoy!!

    Now here's the fun part!  Squash up 4 avocados and add about 1/2-3/4 cup drained salsa for guacamole!!

    Apparently I have a magic kitchen which makes all thinks disappear in the blink of an eye

    And then!! chop up 2 mangoes and and 3/4-1 cup drained salsa for mango salsa!

    My garden is good to me even though I complain about it from time to time.

    P.S. The Dragon breath translates throughout all of these dishes as well.  Passersby beware!

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    "If you are who you say you are..." Who HSUS claims to be and what you should know

    The Humane Society of the United States sound like they have all the animal's best intentions at heart. Heck, they even sound like they cooperate with your local humane society shelters. But what's important to understand is the ulterior motives and their secret code they use in their day to day activities.  I'll do my best to help you hear what I hear when I read the mission statement, the basis of the HSUS, and how it affects us as cattle ranchers. 

    *I know this is long but I really think its worth a looky*

    HSUS Mission Statement
    We work to reduce suffering and to create meaningful social change for animals by advocating for sensible public policies, investigating cruelty and working to enforce existing laws, educating the public about animal issues, joining with corporations on behalf of animal-friendly policies, and conducting hands-on programs that make ours a more humane world. We are the lead disaster relief agency for animals, and we provide direct care for thousands of animals at our sanctuaries and rescue facilities, wildlife rehabilitation centers, and mobile veterinary clinics.
    Maybe our definitions of suffering are different. HSUS is constantly attacking Feedlots across the country claiming the cattle are laying in manure, under watered and barely have room to turn around. In fact, its quite the opposite. Cattle in feedlots are monitored constantly to ensure the cattle are comfortable and healthy. If there is an animal with any signs of sickness they are removed from the pens and treated separately.  Many of the larger feedlots have an in house Veterinarian to oversee the health and wellness of all the cattle.  "Factory Farming" as they call it is always portrayed in its absolute worst light. If you think I'm biased because I am a cattle rancher check out this article by a Skeptical Vegan who visits a feedlot
        When it comes to disaster relief -- HSUS is always "talking" like they are going to do something and they will gladly take your money like they are going to do something , but that's all squawk.  When the dogs were seized from Michael Vick, HSUS raised money and promised it would take care of the dogs, the NY Times later discovered HSUS was not taking care of the animals and didn't even know where they were.   
    "And then there’s the infamous example of Hurricane Katrina. HSUS raised at least $34 million following the 2005 disaster, pledging to help reunite pets with their owners. Louisiana’s Attorney General conducted an 18-month investigation into how this money was raised and spent, closing it only after HSUS announced a $600,000 contribution toward the construction of an animal shelter on the grounds of a Louisiana prison".Humane Watch

    We celebrate pets, as well as wildlife and habitat protection. We are the nation's most important advocate for local humane societies, providing shelter standards and evaluations, training programs, a national advertising campaign to promote pet adoption, direct support, and national conferences. We operate a Humane Wildlife Services program in the D.C. metro area to provide homeowners and businesses with humane and effective solutions to conflicts with our wild neighbors. The HSUS publishes All Animals, a membership magazine, and Animal Sheltering, a bi-monthly magazine for animal sheltering professionals.

    Advocates? maybe. Financial support to shelters? definitely not! Where does all that money go? Lobbyists, TV celebrities, 401Ks, everywhere but to the animals they promised. Less than 1% of the money they raised in 2009 went to local shelters based on their tax return. You can't deny the facts!  And if you really want to get your blood boiling? Imagine your child coming home from middle school with this packet of information to go over as a family.   We don't have any children but as an educator it makes my physically sick to think that some of our teachers have been brainwashed into allowing this in the classroom.  Its our job as Agvocates to get in there as well and share the truth.

    We confront national and global cruelties through major campaigns targeting the barbaric practices of dogfighting and cockfighting; abusive puppy mills where dogs are treated not like family but like production machines; the worst cruelties of factory farming in modern agribusiness such as confinement of animals in crates and cages; inhumane and unsporting hunting practices such as "canned hunts" of captive exotic animals; the slaughter of American horses for export to foreign countries where horsemeat is considered a delicacy; and the clubbing of baby seals and other animals for the commercial fur trade. Our track record of effectiveness has led to meaningful victories for animals in Congress, state legislatures, courtrooms and corporate boardrooms.

    I think exposing bad ranching practices is perfectly fine. We don't want people in our industry that are mistreating and abusing the animals. But if you're going to send a mole into a processing plant to supposedly expose the truth to save the animals, why wouldn't you release that information immediately to the authorities instead of sitting on that information until a politically charged and opportune moment for HSUS? Because you don't care about the animals, you only care about advancing politically one more step.

    I'm the first to admit, as a horse lover, dreamer and owner myself, that I liked the idea of not slaughtering horses from a nostalgic standpoint but facts are facts.  Whats more inhumane.. allowing horses to starve to death, wander aimlessly across highways, having them rot away in pastures of people who can no longer afford their farrier bills, vaccinations and feed OR allowing these horses to be put down in a quick painless fashion, harvested and sent overseas to feed other humans?  Now, one thing I can say with 100% confidence is I will NEVER consider horse meat a delicacy in my kitchen but to each their own.  Gene Hall  has a great article on the unintended consequences of the horse slaughter ban.

    Thanks for hanging in there. I know this is pretty heavy but it's so important to know what this power house of a fundraising company is ultimately trying to do to our ranching and farming industries. Knowledge is power.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    The plight of the bounty

    One of the great things that comes with weeks and weeks of wicked, breath stealing, unrelenting death heat is a great crop of tomatoes.  Those suckers love that endless sun and all the vitamins that come from it!

    With our crazy hectic schedule we've been holding up the last few months I feel like my garden has been very forgiving of me and my 20 minutes a day I've committed to it.  But now, my cup runeth over with tomatoes, squash and red jalapenos( that's what you get when you wait too long!)

    This is going to be my first year of canning with my Mama.  I remember doing this when I grew up in our house in Lawrence.  How much do I remember? Well, I know that I will end up in my undergarments due to the fact that my AC wont be able to keep up with the boiling pots of water. That's about it.  But now I know there will be prosecco, lots and lots of prosecco. 

    I've also run into a few conundrums with my peppers.  Currently I am growing red, green and yellow bell peppers along with pablanos and jalapenos.  My red peppers don't seem to ripen in time for me to wait them out on the stem. I gave a few promising prospects a chance and they went rot before they went red.

    And for some reason my pablanos and my green peppers look remarkably similar which leads to a very unhappy experience when you slice into one.  I'm going to have to keep those in different baskets. 

    Also, just how many spaghetti squash recipes can one come up with!!!

    I love my garden but I always seem to get to this overwhelming "what am I going to do with all these delicious veggies!! " problem.  Good thing I have such a willing family.

     P.S. I don't think I'll ever complain about my eggplant.  It amazes me these flimsy looking plants can hold such a large vegetable. Plus, I'm pretty much obsessed with eggplants.

     Happy Gardening!!!

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    Ms. Maui, the wonder dog

    There are dogs. The kind of dogs that will sit if you have a treat, tear up your favorite shoes and maybe tell you when they have to go to the bathroom... maybe.

    And then there are wonder dogs.  Our dog Maui falls into the second category.

    After Hoag and I got married, we knew we wanted a dog to help complete our family.  His family is a Dobie group. Big scary Dobermans with pointy ears and teeth.  As much as I was drawn to the idea of having a terrifying looking dog to protect me while he travels, my family is a German Shepherd family.  Protective, family oriented, smart and fiercely loyal.  So we began what would seem to be an endless search...

    and then we found her.  4 months old in St. Louis, Mo; Serendipity German Shepherd Rescue had found her wandering the streets. Her now pointy and enormous ears flopped down, 24 lbs and badly needing a home.  She was ours after a 15 page question answer and short essay interview packet.  I didn't even take my ACT's as seriously as I did applying for this mystery dog. 

    It's a big risk saying, "I do" to a dog you've never met but I knew God had figured this one out for us so we just rolled with it.  We met in Columbia, Mo and after a quick walk around the McDonald's we were on our way home. One happy family. 

    From there it was straight to the hills and it was as if she'd been with us her whole life... all 4 months of it! I think she's spent a total of 15 days over the last 2 years on a leash, the rest of the time she's by our side or just a quick " Maui Whistle" away.  Where is she when she goes away?

    If the pools open and Maui is missing, you can bet she's in it.  If it's not open? She's probably in a pond somewhere or some gross puddle of mystery water, or with one paw in her water bowl.  She lives for the water and shaking as closely as she can to you.

    But who could be mad about something like that?!  Over the last two years she's learned just about everything.  She herds cattle from afar... ( we once had a traumatic 50 1st time cows vs. maui episode that resulted in Maui always taking the wing position) , she plays fetch, rides in whatever we tell her to, weeds, cleans stalls, herds cats and helps do the dishes.  No, I'm not kidding about the weeding.  It's a sight to see. 

    I always prayed we'd have a dog like this someday, I just never guessed it'd be this easy! She is the best, most hilarious, loyal, caring friend I could want to be all covered in hair. And the only girl that I would let lick my husbands hand.  She's our Kid and she's here to stay!!