The pups

Nine years ago the end of February or early March, we drove to Lancaster area of Pennsylvania to pick up a puppy. DH wanted an English Mastiff. I had no clue what they looked like, their temperament, their size. The puppies that were left from the litter were in a pen in a shed. The mom had a huge litter during a bitter freeze and they lost part of the litter of pups. When we got there, Ranger and only a couple of his siblings were left. DH was in love with a 22 pound ball of skin and fur. He asked if we could see the parents who were up a hill in the welding shop on the household’s property so the owner called up and told them to let the dogs out. They came bounding down the hill like a couple of freight trains and though I’m not afraid of dogs, I was frightened at the sight of these two huge beasts with jowls flapping, racing down the hill. I wondered what we were getting into.

Eight week old Ranger and DH

When we were headed home, the frightened pup let loose from both ends, requiring a stop at the nearest store for paper towels, gallon jug of water, and a serious clean up of the crate and the pup. I had put a towel in the crate and it was fouled, so we purchased a fleece blanket to line the crate. Once home, he wouldn’t climb the stairs or go back down them. Daughter told us not to carry him up or he would never learn and we wouldn’t be able to deal with him grown. How true that is as he grew over the next two years to a 200 pound gentle giant.

Here he is, about a year old with eldest grandson using him as a pillow. They are still buddies when grandson comes to visit. Ranger has ridden to Florida when daughter lived there with his head in Grandson’s lap as he was travelling with us that summer.

When he was a younger dog, he would play soccer with a rigid horse ball, kicking it around the yard with his feet until it would roll down the back field to the fence. He couldn’t get it back up himself, requiring one of us to go get it, but we would have to put the ball in a canvas sack so he couldn’t see it or he would spend the entire walk back up the hill trying to get it from us. Now his energy level lasts only a few short minutes, he no longer plays with the horse ball, but will pick up a large softer ball on a rope, fling it around dangerously, and bring it for you to hold the other end. He never caught on to tug of war, thank goodness, as he could pull me across the house.

Two weeks after we got him, we drove back to Pennsylvania to get a German Shepherd pup. She was a beautiful, dark, long haired shepherd and I fell in love instantly. Unfortunately, she only lived with us for 8 weeks before a serious neurological defect required us to have her euthanized. Later in the summer, on our way to Florida, we picked up a 16 week old German Shepherd that has had recurrent health issues, is very, very needy, but afraid of her own shadow.

My little gal Meeko before she failed.
Put you phone down and pay attention to me, says Shadow as soon as you sit down.

When they were younger, they would go on hikes with us, but the German Shepherd never wanted to walk where there were crowds, bicycles, skateboards, or people with walking sticks, so we would go to the woods. Ranger wanted the attention of people at the Farmer’s Market and on the rail grade trail, but didn’t like loading in the car. He loves rides, but getting in and out has been an issue for years.

DH with Shadow and Ranger on the War Spur Trail overlook.

They are both 9 years old now. He is an old man that is so fearful of going down the steps that he is limited to only coming up to the loft at night. There is no way we could get him down if he didn’t eventually do it on his own. She, because of her various ailments is old for her age as a German Shepherd. Unfortunately, the two of them never bonded like the Ranger and Meeko did in their short time together. Shadow tries to herd Ranger, he tolerates her most of the time, but will rebuke her occasionally.

Tiny Ranger and Meeko playing tug of war.

The big guy is a sweet, chill, gentle giant that loves most people (especially kids), cats, but not other strange dogs after he was bitten by a Pit Bull at the dog park, the last time we ever went there.

What do yo mean, “relax, I am relaxed.”

And for size reference, this is Ranger at about 2 years old, so mostly full grown, sitting in DH’s lap in the old “Chair.”

A Spirit Lifter

After not seeing Son 1 and family for almost a year due to COVID, we arranged a socially distanced meet up on the Skyline Drive in the fall. We met again at Natural Bridge State Park just before Christmas, and again today, this time at Douthat State Park. Each of these meet ups has been around lunch time with a picnic where we both provide part of the food and condiments, and the two state park meet ups also included a walk.

We walked along the creek at Natural Bridge to the falls and back and today, we hiked around the lake at Douthat.

Son 1, Grandson 1, and Hubby after lunch, letting the meal settle in a bit before our walk.
Hubby and me at the top of the dam as we walked around the lake.
The beach on the opposite side of the lake is where we had our picnic.

Son 1 took a couple of selfies of us lined up down the path with all of us in the photo, but I haven’t gotten any of them yet.

The drive was just a couple of hours, with about 3 1/2 hours “together” outdoors to visit and share a distance picnic spread out between a couple of tables. We took a totally non Interstate drive home which took a bit longer, but was a pleasant drive getting us back to the town near home before it got dark.

The after dark lock up of the hens provided a pleasant surprise.

After having to buy eggs for about a month, it looks like production might be ramping back up. It will be nice having eggs from our own flock again.

On the way out the door I grabbed a skein of yarn and a long circular needle, hand wound the skein into two equal balls and cast on a pair of fingerless mitts for me. I was going to knit them with the second half of the Parrothead BFL, but it spun up too fine for the pattern and I had plenty of gray Jacob spun last year and they can be worn with any coat or jacket. I didn’t get a lot done, but I’m doing them two at a time so when one is done, they both will be done.

These meet ups, even without being able to hug are spirit lifters for hubby and me. Weather permitting, we will look for another meet up at a park somewhere between their house and ours in February. Sandwiches and chips shared, a walk or hike together, conversation, and just knowing that they are ok is wonderful.

Happy New Year

The year ended with business paperwork showing an abysmal year for the shop. A putting away of last year and a clean house to start the new year. The last of the Christmas roast that had been frozen was thawed and warmed for supper last night with Huevos Rancheros on the schedule for the morning. We stayed up to watch the ball drop over the empty Times Square.

I started my double challenge spinning while watching another 30 minutes of new year festivities after midnight.

Yesterday, I knit the first square for the blanket as a test, using wool spun in November and December, and though it will be part of the finished blanket, it doesn’t count in the challenge. The wool I am starting with is BFL, 2 ounces each of the two colors above, Parrot Head and Kingfisher. One will start a new square after enough is spun and that will be my official one for the challenge, the other will be added to the square under them to provide the finishing corner of the blanket when all the quadrants of 4 breeds each are sewn together. The two spindles are “new” (within the past 5 weeks) and the fiber new at Christmas, so that satisfies the second challenge.

The morning brought an awakening thought that I had no eggs, so no Huevos for the Rancheros. He got cheese enchiladas and sausage instead. Our weekly curbside groceries were ready shortly after and again, the substitution or lack there of was a problem. It is frustrating that simple common sense can’t be used in offering substitutions. But it did get me the collards and black eyed peas that I will enjoy tonight as hubby has ham, au gratin potatoes, and something green. I enjoy corn bread with it, but have gotten frustrated that I make an 8″ skillet of it and half ends up going to the chickens before it all gets eaten. Maybe I should look for a tiny cast iron skillet and divide the recipe so that there are only 4 slices instead of 8.

The new year started rainy and cold but the rest of the week looks lovely. Tomorrow there is no official Farmer’s Market, but a few vendors have offered pre orders with a short window pick up. We will drive in to get eggs and some veggies. Next week, the winter markets begin.

Let’s hope that the vaccines get distributed fairly and quickly and that there are no more incidents of deliberate waste of them. Let’s also hope that the “adults” that hold positions in our House and Senate, act like adults and move the election result to completion. This year has to be better than last. A new grandson last January, socially distanced meet ups with our children and their families a few times, and my spindle spinning and knitting have gotten me through the past year.