Oh, here we go again

The snow from last weekend is nearly gone on our south facing farm. The north facing hillsides still have snow on them as do the woods. And again something is scheduled for which being snowed in is a problem, but there is a winter storm warning for tonight into tomorrow morning with 3-5 inches expected again. I got a recall on my old CRV for the master switch in the driver’s door which failed about 2 years ago requiring that you manually lock and unlock the driver’s door then you can unlock the other doors. Because I am not willing to sit in a dealer’s waiting room while it is repaired for an hour or more on Monday and because we decided to go on and have the state inspection and an oil change by our local mechanic, we rented a car to use for two days, but said car will lack the clearance of the CRV and not have all wheel drive.

The good news is that it will stop in the morning and begin warming up quickly, so hopefully, by Monday afternoon, the driveway won’t be an issue. Hopefully, we will have the CRV back before the next round of winter storm weather comes in mid week. This is from the winter that was supposed to be warm and wet according to the Farmer’s Almanac and the weather prognosticators. After a couple of warm winters with little or no snow, we have returned to true Virginia winter weather. Our electric power bill compares each month with the same month from last year and it showed we averaged 8 degrees colder this year than last.

This morning, we went and picked up my new bird feeder and some bird and chicken feed. Since I use lidded 5 gallon buckets for storage, I did a clean up around them and the workbench in the garage before filling the buckets from the bags purchased. The new feeder was filled and hung and it didn’t take the little mixed flock of Chickadees, Tufted Titmouse, assorted Finches, Wrens, and Juncos to find it. I haven’t seen any of the larger birds or woodpeckers yet, but they will discover the change too. You can see the new split tube feeder and the suet tube on the shepherd’s crook in the top photo.

The sky has grayed, the barometer is falling, the snow will begin after dark tonight and we will see in the morning what the storm brought us this time. No matter what the groundhog saw or didn’t see, there are 6 more weeks of winter and here we won’t see the last frost until near Mother’s Day.

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.”

Occupying time?

There was only so much sledding my senior body could take and the snow has gotten thin and icy. After a very frustrating year of trying to keep my online shop open, paying fees to list, fees if I did sell something, still paying personal property taxes on my equipment and inventory, I closed my shop and debated whether I would continue to do in person events when it was again safe. When I do in person events, I use Squareup for payment when the buyer doesn’t want to use cash. As I was going through my inventory on their site which I hadn’t been on because of no events, I saw that for only a few dollars more than I was spending on my domain name, that I could transfer it to them and build a free website. The last couple of snowy days have been spent taking photographs, removing stock that was no longer there, adding stock that had never been added, and building the website. Squareup does not charge me to list items, I do pay a fee if something sells, but it is actually less than the prior “store.” My efforts can be seen by clicking the “Go to my shop” link at the top of the blog or here. And because the domain name remained the same, just moved to a different server, my business cards and labels are still good.

We can finally drive down our driveway, turn up into the extra parking/turn around spot and backing down into the garage. The other two trips out this week have required me to back the car down the nearly quarter mile driveway or leave it out at the top of the steep drive and walk to and from. The car has been living in the garage because even after two applications to seal the windshield, water is still coming in somewhere, soaking the rug and mat on the passenger side when the car is left out in rain. Yesterday I got a recall on my 16 year old car. I wonder how many people still have their 2005 CRVs. Because it also needs an oil change and a state inspection soon, appointments were scheduled with the dealership for the recall and the local mechanic for the other work and we have reserved a rental for two days while we continue to research new vehicles to replace the one that died and was sold. The CRV will live in the garage and be our backup vehicle once we get a new one.

After stomping down snow and spreading hay to coax the hens out a few days ago, we had more light snow and very strong winds that covered the hay with snow again and the hens just gave me the stink eye like it was my fault they couldn’t go out. Yesterday, I took a rake with me and exposed the hay again so they would come out. It has been so cold until today that the water bucket in their coop freezes all but a little pocket in the middle of the bucket, so it has to be changed out twice a day and the frozen one brought inside the house to thaw enough to dump and refill. It is finally above freezing today and supposed to stay above freezing tonight before the nights fall back into the 20’s and we have more snow showers tomorrow. It is interesting to walk around the west and south sides of the house and see where yesterday’s sunshine on the stone masonry walls has melted the snow away from the house. The areas that the deer have come close to the house have melted patches away exposing grass as well.

I still won’t walk on the stones from the steps to the grass or over to the wild bird feeders, I cross on the upper edge of the walled garden where I know there is soil beneath the snow to fill the feeders each morning. The little birds are emptying them daily. The wind has been blowing the smaller two feeders down, so I have ordered a larger feeder that can be filled in one half with Nyger seed and the other half with black oil sunflower seed. As soon as it comes in for curbside pickup, I will replace the feeders with that one and the suet feeder.