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Yellow Lab Finds a Surprise

May 7th, 2008

Lots of rain coming today while I’m working on moving rocks.  And it’s a great time to move a few plants around with the softer soil. In a couple of months the ground will be dry as a bone.    I’ve been taking so many pictures along the way it’s hard to keep up. 

Yesterday while working behind the barn the yellow lab found a surprise that turned out to be a Black Rat Snake.  A very common snake in the area, although we don’t see them very much.  The lab wanted to see what this new thing was, but was obviously wary.

Yellow lab finds a Black Rat Snake

I was amazed after we left it alone, to see it literally climbing up an oak tree!  I have seen them climb around branches and cavities, but never straight up the side of a tree.  The birds must think this their greatest nemesis in spring. 

Black Rat snake climbing oak tree

After it perched on a branch it reminded me of being in a jungle somewhere.  Gee, I hope I’m not losing readers with my snake pictures! :)

Black Rat snake perched in oak tree

Actually, these snakes are good to have around. They’re harmless to people really, and catch smaller rodents such as mice to keep populations in check.   But this one was about 5-6 feet long and would give you quite a surprise!

But the May Apples and Dogwoods are blooming!  The leaves are almost fully out and everything looks so lush.  Now it’s really hard to keep up with the grass and weeds, but somehow I don’t think it really matters… it’s just nice to enjoy the spring season.

May Apple in flower

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Dogwood flowering in May

Alas our geese family didn’t seem to make it this year.  On Saturday I saw two adult geese honking and swimming around by themselves.  Then the same again yesterday, and I haven’t seen the little ones since last week.  All I can think of is that a predator must have got to them.  The cycle of life perhaps, but after seeing the little guys we were hoping to watch them grow.  There’s always next year perhaps.

Yellow Labrador at 18 Months

April 13th, 2008

The pup is a year and a half old now.  Full of youthful energy with such strength and spirit that it makes me smile to see him.  He asks for nothing more than a chance to run, swim, chase a ball or bring something back to us, and is completely at ease with himself and his surroundings.  I’m no judge of the qualities of a Labrador Retriever, but he strikes me as a beautiful example of the breed. He is still intact, and comes from quality bloodlines.  In some ways I feel an obligation to explore if he can contribute to the breed. Perhaps I’ll seek an experienced opinion. But more than anything, he is simply a joyful part of the family and a good friend.  And that’s really all I can ask for I think.

Yellow Labrador Retriever at 18 months

Early March Snow is Fun for Everybody

March 5th, 2008

After an amazingly warm weekend, we were hit by 5+ inches of snow. Made for an interesting day, especially watching the animals.

Many birds hung around the feeders through the storm, especially the litttle Juncos.

Juncos at the feeder during snowfall

The snowfall covered the barn quickly.

Country barn after snowfall

A flock of Robins perched around the trees, looking out of place with the ground covered in snow.

Robin perched in tree during snowstorm

And I learned something new about Robins. Several of them flew in and out of this Juniper tree eating the juniper berries. Who knew?

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A Dog and His Boy

February 11th, 2008

I was working on the computer and some paperwork the other night, with the tv on in the background and my Labrador Retriever laying quietly asleep on the floor. The boy was taking his bath before bedtime and from down the hallway I heard, “Daddy! Daddy! Mommy! Mommy!” So using my holler-through-the-house voice I call back… “What is it…?” And then from the hallway again, the boy’s Mom calls, “Um, I think you need to come here… this is yours to handle!” And I yell back, “Okay, I’m coming…” as I get up wondering what all the fuss is about. And then I notice that the Yellow Lab is not where he was supposed to be. And with growing awareness I realize the Lab had snuck away to play with the boy (and that he loves water).

So guess who was very proud of the fact that he was sharing his bath with the dog? So proud in fact that he didn’t say a word (and closed the bathroom door!) until he was ready for us to see?! Arrgh!

Yellow Lab in bathtub

Well, they both needed a bath I suppose. The pup’s expression was like “Oh, you found me. It’s really nice in here, can’t I stay?! Pleeease?!” By the way, he really likes the “green turtle squirty thing”.

 

Snowy Fun in Winter

February 1st, 2008

     We awoke to a snowy landscape, and one of those quiet days when it’s nice to enjoy being at home.  After a big breakfast, I spent a couple hours outside clearing the driveway with the tractor.   With enough wind, we have drifts at various places in the driveway, and I’m thankful the tractor really clears the snow.  Mom and the boy stayed inside baking fresh bread- yum!  But then it was time to play…  So as the sun came out we bundled up again to enjoy some fun in the snow. 

The Yellow Lab had some fun of his own… he loves the snow and ran around in circles as fast as he could, and then ran again for hundreds of yards kicking up the snow.  He was smiling the whole time!

Yellow lab running in the snow

“Look at me!” the boy says, enjoying the powdery snow. We pulled a sled around the property trying out the hills. 

Fun in the snow for a young boy

But fresh snow is always good for a snow angel!

Snow Angel

Our Labrador Retriever “pup” is so goofy… and look at him jump!  He leaps into the air and goes crazy chasing snowballs.  Now when you throw a snowball and it lands, well… in the snow, it’s kind of hard to find!  But the dog doesn’t know that- he tries to catch it, then runs in circles looking for it after it squishes into powder!  It’s so funny…

Yellow Lab jumps after snowball in winter

The Basset Hound and Shiba Inu watched the Labrador jumping after snowballs, wondering “What is he doing?!  Do they really taste that good?!”

Basset Hound and Shiba Inu watch the crazy Labrador

There’s something about sunlight and shadows on the snow.  It was a fun day and the landscape was beautiful.  

Winter afternoon

Yellow Lab at 15 Months

January 23rd, 2008

     It’s hard to believe the yellow Labrador Retriever is 15 months old now.  Actually, it seems like he’s been part of the family for a very long time.  He and the young boy are best friends, and just love to romp and play together. 

We don’t get out as much right now when it’s incredibly cold.  Well, perhaps the dog does, but we don’t train as much as when it’s warmer.  The cold doesn’t bother him a bit however, and last week we even did some retrieves in the cold water of the pond.  He didn’t mind and was ready for more.   

But while we’ve been spending more time indoors perhaps, I’ve found that I need a ready supply of “chewy toys” on hand.  Now a lot of dogs like to chew, no question. 

I’ve met few dogs that have the single-mindedness of this Labrador when he sets to work on chewing something.  And it doesn’t last long!  I bought one of those indestructible chew toys at a pet store the other day… it’s already in pieces.  I don’t know what the best thing is, but we’ve found that thick rawhide chews last the longest.  Maybe 2-3 days each, but that’s better than most of the other items.

Do you have a favorite item that your dog, or your Labrador can chew… and that lasts?   I’d love to know.   Oh, I bought him a nice thick real bone to chew on… about 18 inches long.  He doesn’t chew that much, but likes to carry it around a lot- and he has a penchant for dropping things from the top of the stairs so he can run down to chase it.   Well, he did that the other day with the big hard bone… Crash!  That got my attention… I heard the bone hit the wall across the bottom of the stairs… he just looked at me as if to say, “Wow! That was cool!”

As much as he loves to run and play, he’s also a gentle, good-natured dog.  No pretense… just an honest dog that loves to follow you around.  Oh, and eat whatever you do… he’d be a regular garbage disposal if I let him. 

He’s a loving, goofy animal that seems to fit in pretty well around here.  Doesn’t say much for me perhaps!

Yellow Labrador Retriever at 15 months.

Labradors and Woodstoves

January 3rd, 2008

Another cold morning, but sunny too. We’ve brought the dogs into the garage at night, with a small space heater blowing. They don’t mind the cold when it’s “only” down to about 20-25 degrees F at night. They have small igloo doghouses in their outdoor kennel to cuddle up inside. But when the tempature drops to about 9 degrees F, it’s just too cold for them. If we had a barn with hay and such, they could sleep out of the wind and cold, but for now the garage will have to do! It’s kind of funny… this morning at about 5:00 am I let them out of the garage (so they don’t piddle on the car tires!), and they can’t wait to get out and run around.  But they also know it’s cold out there. After about 10 minutes, they both run up to the kitchen door, and I hear a little “woof!” as if to ask if they can come back in. I open the door and they run in, give a good shake, and run through the laundry room to the garage.

Ah, but one confession… the young Labrador gets to sleep inside the house in his own kennel. Yes… I’m biased. But the other dogs have lived outdoors all their lives, and they can’t stand to be couped up inside.   And the Labrador is a special dog, a family dog, a people dog… an expensive dog! :)  And he’s the dog I waited for most of my adult life… his personality is amazing, and his penetrating gaze is the most genuine, honest measure of trust that I’ve ever known in an animal.  And I just think Labradors are really people dogs.  It’s something I had read about, but not really understood until we’ve had him.  He lives to be around people, and play with people… more importantly, he’s the young boys best friend and playmate. They wrestle, tussle, chase each other… and no matter what the young one does- the Lab just wags his tail and endures the ear pulling, tail pulling, hugging and good ‘ole fashioned romping around the house.  Heck, the boy is seven years old, and in dog years- the Lab is seven years old too!

 Yellow Labrador around the woodstove in winter

Speaking of the cold, I am so thankful for the heat our woodstove provides.  Well, it’s really a wood-burning insert (I was more thankful last year perhaps with the power outage!).  But I think I’ve cut and stacked enough wood for several winters of wood-burning now.  On the coldest days and nights, there are few things to rival a cast iron stove and a few logs of Oak.  We’ve had several Oak trees die over the past few seasons.  I like to leave some standing as snags to provide biodiversity among the landscape, for woodpeckers, insects, etc, but sometimes it’s better to take them down if they’re too close the house or areas of traffic.  And then they provide a couple seasons of warmth for the home.  Of course it’s only supplemental heat to the electric and propane we also use, but every little bit helps! It just looks warm doesn’t it?

Curling fire within the wood stove

‘Tis the Season

December 20th, 2007

     “… to be soggy… fa, la, la, la, la… ”  After all the drought we’ve had through most of the year, I had forgotten what it was like to be really wet and soggy!  We ended up with around 8 inches of snow, and it’s mostly melted everywhere.  But today we get rain!  So everywhere you walk it’s wintery, mushy, soggy, muddy and downright messy.   I really love the Yellow Lab’s coat color, at times almost as white as the snow… but I never thought what it would look like after he really  gets dirty!  He loves to get messy of course… and after playing outside for a while, he is covered in muddy streaks everywhere.  I think I need to incorporate that same sense of abandon in my life.   I forgot to get a muddy picture of him though.  Otherwise, it’s time for last-minute shopping, cleaning and getting ready for Christmas.    We probably won’t have snow on Christmas day this year, but maybe sunny and a little warmer.  That sounds just fine.

The Yellow Lab just loves the snow…  we brought him home as an 8-week old puppy last year just before winter, so he “grew up” playing in the snow.  He’ll run and run, burying his nose in it, and chasing snowballs forever.  Sometimes he even finds one!

The Yellow Labrador loves the snow!

Training the Lab

October 13th, 2007

Few thoughts for today as we all catch up with things put off until the weekend.  But who am I kidding… among all the things to do we still must find time to relax and enjoy each day.  :) 

The Yellow Lab is eager to make a retrieve.   In the field I put a couple of pheasant wings in different places.  I’m marking the path for a blind retrieve…. which doesn’t mean a whole lot to him at this point.  He races towards the mark I give him, but then tails off in one direction or another before he quite gets there.  Instead of being as “direct” as he was last month, I think he’s feeling his oats lately… he loves to choose his own path.   I’ve got to work on that- although he does make the retrieve, it takes him longer now, he runs from one side the other, sometimes back, and wastes energy.  Sometimes I struggle to understand “how” to get him to do things… it’s part of his education, and most certainly it’s part of mine!

Marking the direction of the blind retrieve

He has grown to muscled youth with a vigor I can only look back upon.  The pheasant wing is in his mouth on the way back from finding its hiding place.

Yellow Labrador Retriever returning from retrieve

 

The pond was foggy on several days this week- I love the mist on the waters, and it makes me wonder what lurks in the deep?

Morning fog at the corner of the pond

Happy Birthday Pup! Yellow Lab is 12 Months

October 1st, 2007

     A big Happy Birthday to the Yellow Labrador today!  He was born on this day last year, and is leaving his puppy days behind.  He doesn’t mind however and is getting to be a big dog- I don’t even know his weight.  I took him to the field yesterday with some other Labs for dove hunting.  He has never met another Lab until yesterday… or a female dog.  Suffice it to say he was very excited!   He did okay though,  he found the birds before I did, but wasn’t really sure what to do with it the first time.  After that he made a decent retrieve, but is still a little mystified about the whole process.  I didn’t have a chance to work with him with real birds yet this year, but hopefully he’ll pick it up quickly as the season goes on.  But he’s just a great friend and fun to be around.

The Yellow Labrador Retriever at 12 months. Happy Birthday!

 

  It was time to turn the garden under, clean it up, and prepare it for next year.  We cut down all the stringy vines, and pulled up the old vegetation.  After trimming everything back (except for one lonely tomato plant), I carted all of it off to a pile that I can burn in the months ahead.  So then it was time to lay compost on top of the garden.  The tractor was really helpful, especially since the fence encloses the entire garden.  We could lower the bucket over the fence for filling it up, and dumping in the compost!  Newspapers do the trick over top of weeds and such.  We put them down and I used the tractor to scoop our compost and dump right on top.  The compost is really just leaf litter and grass clippings that have been in a pile for the last 3-6 months.  Hopefully it will help keep the weeds down, and we’ll add more leaf litter as top dressing over the fall and winter months.

The tractor helps with dumping, hauling and just about everything else!

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