Archive for the 'Labrador Retriever' Category

Catching Up with Summer

August 3rd, 2009

It’s been a “catch-up” week at home, along with a little county fair fun tossed in.  This has been the darnedest summer with such cool morning temps- altogether enjoyable really.  Hard to believe it’s August, on the backside of summer already. The garden has struggled quite a bit, probably more with lack of attention than anything else.  But a few days of weeding and watering has it looking a little better.


Managed to plant some more potatoes, and new beans, carrots and beets- another experiment to see how things work out for a fall harvest.  If we have room, I’ll plant some peas again.  The tomatoes are just starting to ramp up finally too.   You can see the planted rows and the cucumbers trying to climb the fence… they’re just beginning to produce some nice ones.  Matter of fact, think I’ll fertilize today again.

The county fair was nice the other night- I’ll write another post about that.  Except for the part about driving home, which was a little scary.  We’re heading home on a small country road at night, overgrown with trees, and an oncoming truck swerved briefly across the yellow line and back.  I didn’t think much about it as that driver corrected, but apparently he drifted again and something on the side of that truck smashed into my driver’s side  mirror on the ’93 Ford, which then swung back and smashed my driver’s side window- kablamm!  We ended up with glass exploded all over us.  Thankfully no injuries beyond a few cuts on arms and fingers, and we pulled into a car wash vacuum place down the road to clean up and check things over.  What were the odds?  The other truck just kept going- it was either their mirror or something sticking out, but apparently it didn’t bother them.   I just wanted to make sure we were all okay.  So now I’ve got plastic covering the window until finding a place to fix it.   Crazy.

In better homefront news, it was also time for a honey harvest!  I’ll write about that another day, but needless to say it was really fun to see the fruit of the bee’s labor for over a year. They worked their little tails off this year and I ended up taking off over 50 pounds of spring wildflower honey.  I’ve been bottling the honey, and preparing for labeling… haven’t got that far yet, but  it’s really tasty.  The young boy enjoyed cleaning up a bowl of drippings- nothing like fresh honey from the hive.  If things work out I may put some up for sale :)


One of our stops last week for cheap fun was a visit to the Shepard of the Hills trout hatchery near Table Rock Lake.  You can fill a little cup with fish food and throw it to the fish- which is perfect fun for the kids.  The trout appreciate the food as well!


Missouri has four hatcheries for managing trout fishing in many of our beautiful spring-fed rivers, with naturally reproducing populations in several rivers.   Some of these rainbow and brown trout grow to trophy size.    But we camped by the lake, which was a lot of fun- and the yellow lab really enjoyed swimming at the shoreline.  He has grown into a beautiful adult labrador retriever.


After getting home earlier this week it was time to cut the dam again.  One of those yearly chores I enjoy after it’s finished, but not the doing part.   It keeps the pond dam in really nice shape and is a necessary part of the maintenance.  I thought I was going to pass out from the heat and exertion, but water and gatorade really helps. Maybe I’ll put a Twitter feed on the site, then I can just pull out my cellphone and send a message. There I am, lying in the weeds …  “Just came to after passing out while brush cutting the dam, I’m staring at a frog…”


The picture only shows part of the dam… but it’s 265 feet across the top, and nearly 33 feet down the face.  I don’t cut about 50 feet on that one side by the cedar- it’s still too brushy and rocky yet.  Took about 3-4 hours to finish, except for the damp spot that I’ll cut with a weed eater. Sure looks better though, and tons of trees, brush,  and poison ivy won’t grow up there now.  Small accomplishments in the countryside.

The school year is almost upon us once again, and there’s a host of unfinished things to do.  I hope your summer is going well!


One final note, sad but also bringing clarity and relief, the remains of a navy pilot from the ’91 gulf war were found this week.  Contrary to years of reports of his status as missing,  Michael Scott Speicher apparently died at the time his FA-18 was shot down in January, 1991.  I didn’t know him personally, but knew of the search and his status for a very long time.  We shared a lot of the same history and traditions, and I’m very glad they found him.   I know his family hoped he was still alive, but are also thankful and relieved to find resolution, and to have his remains returned home.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Captain Speicher’s family for the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country,” said Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy. “I am also extremely grateful to all those who have worked so tirelessly over the last 18 years to bring Captain Speicher home.”

Ganders, Tanagers and Swimming with the Dog

May 9th, 2009

It rained so much yesterday that I saw a creek running through the garden.  Thank goodness I made the rows perpendicular to the slope below… the water just ran out the ends and under a fence.  We previously had a nice dry couple of days, but now I think it has rained non-stop since yesterday. Finally the sun broke free of cloud this afternoon and it was a beautiful evening, transitioning to a full moon… I love bright, full moon nights in the country. It’s almost like stepping back in time, or looking into some strange other world.

It’s not a strange world here for the geese- they seem to have made themselves right at home, and the little goslings are growing bigger everyday.  They had the nerve to be up near the top of the hill yesterday, a stone’s throw to the barn, ripping out grass by the rootfuls!  With visions of eroding hillsides in mind, I called our little hunter, the foxy looking japanese Shiba, and ran around toward the barn hoping he could chase the geese into the water.  The geese knew something was afoot and half waddled and bumbled their way down the hill to the pond at high-goose-speed.  They would never have let him get very close- a big 30 pound goose will beat a dog up pretty good with it’s wings and beak!  I knew they’d make it to the pond as the shiba took his time, trotting toward the water with a gleam in his eye. 

Canada Geese with Goslings

After the geese plopped into the water, the Big Daddy Gander puffed up and stretched his neck, honking loudly in protest at this intrusion by such a fox-like creature, with Mother Goose and the goslings following a few yards behind.  The shiba wandered along the shoreline, looking wistfully at these floating bundles of feathers, and the big goose followed him step-for-step just out of reach off shore badgering the little dog.  Eventually the shiba tired of the noisy scolding and went on his way.  The geese seemed “proudly placated” and swam away.   They seem to know we’re only temporary guests in their native aquatic home. 

Birds are making quite a showing this spring, and yesterday was no exception as I saw a flash of red behind the house.  After a quick double-take, I realized it was brighter than the red of our resident cardinals.  And there he was- the Summer Tanager was back, calling and watching me.  I was admiring his color and sound when I remembered I had a camera in my hand!  Such a beautiful bird, they really only pass through for a couple weeks, and eat many bugs- especially wasps and bees!  “Look out girls, the tanagers are here!!!”


Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote about Summer Tanagers on a Warm Day, and was lucky to have captured some of the most beautiful bird pictures that I’ve taken- those of the male and female Summer Tanager sitting in an oak tree near the house.   I had never seen the female’s yellow green coloration before, and those pictures are two of my favorites.

Not to be outdone by the geese swiming in the water, the young boy seemed to think summer was already here.  School’s out in a couple weeks, so that’s understandable.  But he wandered down near the pond a couple days ago while I was planting tree seedlings…  all he had on were his swim shorts and he carried a floatie.  There I was- shovel in hand, covered in dirt, sweat and untold chiggers and ticks, and all I could think of was that I’d really like to be swimming too (the pond wasn’t my first choice).  

Actually, I chuckled when he said “I’m going swimming!”  And I said, “In the pond? Now? It’s kinda cold in there…”  He didn’t seem to care and I didn’t want to discourage him.  The geese have really only been here a few times, and the area was clean enough.  Otherwise I wouldn’t let him swim.  “Well, what did Mom say?” I asked.  He said, “Well, she was in the asparagus patch and I just kinda walked by her and waved.”   She later thought he was very cute in his swim shorts, not thinking he was serious about swimming in the pond just before dinner.  We went back and got his life jacket since he’s not really at deep-water swimming strength yet.  We let her know, and then back to the pond where he got a good 5-10 minutes of paddling fun in the water.  

Boy and Yellow Lab in pond

He didn’t say, but it sure looked colder than he thought it would be…  Of course the yellow lab wasn’t just going to watch,  he dove right in too!  I had to give the boy credit- it’s a little early in the season for pond swimming in my book, but he sure had a quick bit of fun.   And me?  I’ll get there this summer, but for now I wasn’t quite ready to make the Leap of Faith into that cold water!

Yellow Labs and Brown-Headed Cowbirds

March 18th, 2009

The young pup is almost two and half years old now- a big, strong yellow labrador with a heart of gold.  I know everyone thinks their dogs and pets are pretty special, but I swear this furry guy is unlike any animal I’ve ever known.  I’m thinking about having a round of tests performed on him to consider breeding.  He’s not a show dog or champion field trialer, but he has good lineage and beautiful form.  His personality is amazing in so many ways, and if he could contribute to the breed I think that would be a good thing.   Have you hugged your dog today?  More importantly, how about your kids?!  For some folks they’re the same…

Yellow Labrador Retriever in a field of Bluestem

Interesting that you can actually clone your dog these days for the princely sum of $150,000 dollars.  Can you imagine?   Perhaps if money was no object someone could consider that, but it seems, well… ethically selfish to me I guess, among other things.  It’s a free country, but you can help an awful lot of people with that kind of money.  I do understand loving an animal that much, but it’s hard to rationalize spending so much money for that purpose.  Of course I  say that, but based on how I feel about my own lab-  if it didn’t cost very much I might consider getting another pup just like him too.  Heck, twenty or thirty years from now who knows what we’ll be able to do.   For now I just appreciate that he gets to be part of our family. 

Don’t you just want to give him a big hug?!



Maybe I should’ve titled this ‘The Dogs We Love and the Birds We Don’t” or “Cute Dogs and Ugly Birds.”  On a different note it’s about time to take the bird feeders down, and as if on cue the Brown-headed Cowbirds showed up for a party to pick through what was left.  Okay, maybe they’re not ugly, but they sure act that way.  Research has shown that they can impact songbird populations negatively through brood parasitism.  They’re the only species in our region that sneaks into other birds’ nests and lays their own eggs.  So a hapless goldfinch or flycatcher ends up feeding and raising a cowbird usually instead of their own young since the cowbird is bigger and has a voracious appetite.  

Well over a hundred species of birds end up raising cowbirds in this manner and there’s quite a debate regarding how destructive or natural this is.    We typically see them grouped up in spring while they migrate through in flocks.  Soon they disperse to look for a host nest, and we only see or hear them as solitary birds.  What a strange critter and survival mechanism- kind of looks like an unruly mob!


What’s My Line?

February 13th, 2009


Yellow Lab and Cat

“Um…you know I’m a dog, right?  No, really… I am!”


Gopher Piles and Bathtub Smiles

February 5th, 2009

I had forgotten that in late winter there are some very active critters around- especially underground.  Now I don’t mind a mole or two around the place, they’ve got to live too.  But when the moles and gophers begin to think this is their private little kingdom, then I’m not a happy camper.  After the deep freeze the past few weeks we had a nice warm-up, and I walked around to find this nice little trail of diggings on the hillside below the garden.  These dirt piles are 6-12 inches tall, and would fill up a kid’s beach bucket.

Gopher tunnels on hillside 

These wouldn’t be so bad off in a field by themselves (where they are usually).  But on the slope it causes a great deal of erosion, especially when it rains and the water washes down inside the tunnels evacuating mud everywhere.  I usually squish the muddy hills and tunnels down with the tractor, and the gophers just dig them out again.  We play that game for a while until they move on.  Hopefully I can persuade them to move somewhere else again… not on the slopes, and not near the pond dam!  But if they won’t?  Well, we’re just going to have to figure something out Caddyshack-style…  hopefully with better results!   Somebody remind me why these little critters are useful anyway?!

And what do you get when you ask a dog-and-water-loving-kid to take a bath, and you didn’t keep an eye on your water-and-kid-loving-labrador-retriever?    Well, after hearing unusually gleeful giggles down the hallway, you suddenly look around and notice that your faithful yellow lab is no longer sitting quietly by your side, looking up at you with those big dreamy eyes, and you realize that he has absconded to that playful paradise for kids… the bathtub… much to the boy’s delight of course.  So you get up, get your camera and slowly open the door of the bathroom to find your kid squirting water from a squishy toy at the yellow lab, who loves every minute of it.   Both of them wore great big smiles, and neither of them wanted to get out…

Yellow Lab in the bathtub

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