Monday, December 29, 2008

Canine Nieces

I thought I'd share these photos of a couple of my canine nieces. (Yes, there are others, but I haven't subjected them to the camera yet.) This is my brother's dog, Shingles. He's a roofer, thus the name, in case anyone was thinking "Ewwwww!" She seems to really enjoy romping in the cold, white stuff.

Below, is Joey, my sister's dog. I've blogged about her before. She has an endless array of facial expressions which makes her a really fun subject to photograph. Aren't they cute?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Winter Bathing

Yesterday we had an unusual warm-up. Temps in the upper 50's and a lot of rain melted nearly all the snow and ice. However, the ground is still frozen solid so all that water just pooled up all over the yard. Since all the frozen horse poop was also thawing, I took the opportunity to shovel the softened piles out from under the overhang of the barn. While I was outside, I let the ducks out to play too. They had so much fun in this puddle/pond outside the barn door. All the splashing and quacking reminded me of the kiddie pool at a water park.

I'm heading outside to do my morning chores now. Since the temps are back to being below freezing, I'm guessing all the various puddles are now frozen over. Wish I had some ice skates. I think I might need them!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Got The Tree Up!

Putting up our tree this year had been postponed. We've been planning to paint the living room since we moved here, but recently got serious about it and picked out our paint color and everything. I really didn't want to put the tree up until it was done because I knew it would delay the painting project by several weeks if we had to wait until it came down. The kids were complaining though. Actually, that's an understatement. They were close to rioting. They were not happy that the tree wasn't up. So the other day, we compromised and painted the half of the living room that we put the tree in, and now we can get the other half painted between Christmas and New Year's.

(Before) The room had been just white, and we wanted to warm it up. So we chose a brownish shade of paint. We also removed a ceiling fan and installed a new light fixture. The room seems so much bigger now without that ceiling fan hanging down.

(After) What do you think? This is not all we plan to do with the living room, but it's a start. Eventually, we want to put tile around the front door entry area and get new carpet as well.

Most importantly, the kids were able to put the tree up, and there can now be peace on earth - or at least peace in my own little world.

By the way, we did NOT need the generator last week. PHEW! We got much less icing than they had originally thought and never lost power. Yahoo!! However, the weather has still been really ugly. We've had wind, freezing rain, snow, extremely bitter cold, more wind, drifting snow, and for the foreseeable future, nothing but more of the same. Remember how I commented on the horrible job they are doing this year of clearing our road? Well, they are not improving. We've now encountered some "firsts" since moving here. They have not picked up our garbage or delivered our newspaper due to the condition of our road, and Dave ended up stuck in a drift on his way to work yesterday. Fortunately, he managed to finagle his way out and did eventually get there since he had the truck, but there's no way he'd have even gotten past our driveway in one of our cars. Winter, winter... isn't it a joy? And it's only just begun! Yippee.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Winter Weather

My hatred of winter is not subsiding - not even a little bit. Due to budget issues, nearly all area road crews have cut back on both plowing and salting roads. In previous years, I had been extremely impressed with the plowing done by our township. We live out here in the boonies and still, the plows started running when the snowflakes began falling and didn't stop until the snow quit drifting. A plow would pass our house at least every couple of hours. This year? Well, lets just say they've done a 180. In fact, we got about 5 inches of snow yesterday. I barely made it home from town yesterday in our Toyota Corolla at around 3:45, and only about 3 inches were on the ground at that time. So far, a plow has still not come through. I couldn't leave the house if I had to. Dave took the old truck, and with the 4-wheel drive, had no problem. However, that leaves me to choose between the Corolla and a Honda Civic. Hmmmm... I think I'll just stay home, thanks. If one of the kids gets sick at school or something, well... I might have to hook a sled to Crumb and go get them I guess. Even in town, the roads are terrible. Two days after snowfall, major intersections were nothing but ice. Hills were ridiculously difficult to drive up. Time to either raise taxes a bit, cut back on something a little less life-threatening, or here's a thought, at least for our township: How 'bout not mowing our ditches every other week in the summer? Put the gas savings towards winter plowing and salting. See, grass in the ditches isn't going to harm or kill anyone, but these icy, snowy roads just might.

Next winter ranting? How about this forecast for tomorrow:

If you can not read it, it says big, nasty, ICE STORM! AGAIN! What is going on around here? Up until the past couple years, I only remember one semi-serious ice storm ever in my lifetime, and I'm quickly approaching the four decade mark. Growing up, I never remember the power being out for more than 24 hours for anything. Lately, we've had these crazy weather events causing outages of several days. Out here, no power means no water, which means no toilet (GROSS!) and worse, no water for the animals. Do you know how much water all these animals drink? In the past, I have had to take several 5 gallon jugs, drive to somewhere that has power, fill them, and then haul them out to the animals. This takes a lot of water and many trips back and forth. Since Dave works for the power company and is usually working during these lovely events, I generally find myself doing this alone. Can you say NOT FUN?! Factor in my bad back and the weight of those 5 gallon jugs, imagine trying to juggle them in ice and snow, then add freezing temps on top of it all and I just want to cry. So, as you might understand, this forecast brought me to near-panic mode. This resulted in the unplanned purchase of this little beauty:

I'm hoping Murphy's Law comes through for us here, and that now that we've spent the money on it, we will never need it. Not the cheapest insurance policy, but if it works, it will be worth every penny!

Monday, December 15, 2008


Look at this sweet guy! When we found out we were moving to the country, Dave insisted that he wanted to pick out his ideal farm dog. He wanted a very light, almost white, yellow lab, and he isn't a fan of the narrower, dainty-headed labs. He likes the big, muscular and more block-headed type. So a week or two before we moved, we started calling and visiting the shelters, but we just weren't finding what he was looking for. Then one day I called and they said they had just gotten one in that fits the description, but that they needed to hold him a certain period of time (can't remember now, a week or ten days or something) because he had been found out wandering around the countryside and they had to wait to give any previous owners the opportunity to claim him. Also, they wouldn't "hold" him for us. His adoption would be on a first-come basis. So the day he was to become available for adoption, I showed up an hour before they opened and waited. That did the trick and the big goof came home with me. He only stayed with us in town for a day or two, then it was off to the vet clinic for neutering. When we picked him up, we had already moved and he got to come to our new country home.

Of course, anyone who has had a lab will understand this. He wasn't always the ideal farm dog. He was about 18 months old when we adopted him, and he was a wild maniac for a long time. Our yard wasn't fenced at first and he wanted to chase cars. He chewed up everything left within his reach. When the ponies and horses arrived, he ran up and down the fenceline barking like a lunatic and scaring them. He jumped up on everybody and knocked the kids down. He was just a total pain in the butt and had no desire to learn much of anything beyond "sit" - and even that was something he did only when he felt like it. I don't remember exactly when it was that it finally dawned on us that he wasn't like that anymore, but it was several years. I bet he was at least 6 or 7 years old before he finally outgrew puppyhood. Now he's about nine years old and the perfect farm dog. Nearly everything makes him happy. If you want to see him giddy with doggie happiness, just put him in the truck with Dave. Don't tell me that dogs can't smile. Look at this face:

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shadows In The Snow

Here's a creative photo taken by Erin. She managed to capture her shadow in the snow as she gave my horse Gypsy a kiss on the muzzle. Gypsy is still pretty bent out of shape about the arrival of Crumb. I keep telling her we all still love her too, and that it's time she got over it, but she's not buying it. Have you ever seen a horse pout? This one certainly can. The silly girl.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Giving Thanks

Erin was emptying out her bookbag the other night and this paper came tumbling out. Apparently she was supposed to list things she is thankful for on Thanksgiving. Her entry for "N" thoroughly cracked me up.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Two Peas In A Pod

This is my latest favorite photo of my boys. It captures the true essence of this mischievous duo, and gives you a good idea of what it's like for me to live with these two on a daily basis. Separately, they are each a force to be reckoned with, but when they put their super-powers together, there are days when I am just no match. I was trying to figure out how best to describe them and began looking through the thesaurus for just the right words and phrases. Let me throw out a few of the most descriptive, and I think you'll understand what I'm dealing with here. When I'm in a light-hearted, easy-going frame of mind, the following terms apply:
But when I'm trying to get something done, speak to someone on the phone, am pressed for time or have something semi-serious to deal with and they are running around wreaking havoc, I sometimes have a hard time dealing with the fact that they both seem to have been born without that built-in sensor that should be telling them "NOW IS NOT THE TIME FOR THIS." At those moments, I would generally describe them and their nonsense as follows:
petty annoyance
Still, no matter how frustrated I get, I find those crazy goons pretty hard to resist. They know it too and always use it to their advantage. As I said, I am no match. Those blue eyes are my kryptonite.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Okay, I'll admit it...

Okay, all you snow-loving weirdos. This one's for you. I cannot deny it. This is pretty... but I still hate winter. All that orange and red looks nice and warm, doesn't it? Well, it's a mirage I tell you! Don't be deceived. Summer sunsets are just as nice, and I don't have to freeze my fanny off to get a picture of them. However, until the warm weather rolls around again, I guess I'll settle for views like this.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Introducing Ducks To Snow

The ducks have now had their first encounter with the snow. Wish I could tell them that it would be their last, but alas, these photos were taken November 30th and since then we've had several episodes of snowfall. So I'm afraid we're all just going to be stuck with it! How long till spring????!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bun-buns Abound!

Last weekend, we acquired a couple more bunny girls, Gizmo and Lulu, from our friend, Corinne. The introductions all went well and they were soon hopping around and exploring the big bunny bungalow.

Lulu quickly mastered the Stump Towers:

Gizmo couldn't figure out why that camera kept clicking at her and eyed me warily:

Tammy Faye and Gizmo were getting to know one another in one of the tunnels:

Ashes hid out in the Big Blue House for awhile. She wasn't sure about these new fuzz-balls. Before too long though, she came out to say hello:

Erin doesn't think you can ever have enough bunnies:

Look at this face! Who could resist that kind of cuteness?

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cold Weather Really Bites

I hate being cold and I hate cold weather. I have no idea why on earth I live in the midwest and if it were up to me, I wouldn't. But I do, and since I am stuck in this god-forsaken arctic tundra, it is time again to get everything as ready as possible to ride out the chill. Since I can't use a 100' hose to fill water tanks as I do in above-freezing temps, I can only use one livestock tank. Normally, all the horses run the pasture together and this is not a problem. However, this year, we have Brett recovering from a broken elbow, and we don't want her getting down into the lower part of the pasture in several feet of snow and not being able to get back up under the overhang of the barn for shelter and water. So we had to find a way to divide up our dry lot AND our overhang AND our water tank. With various materials we had lying around, Dave managed to get the job done yesterday, with a little bit of help from me. So far, it looks like it's going to work just as I'd hoped; both sides have access to the overhang and the water tank. Yay! Now I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for a quick, mild, uneventful winter. And if Dave's employer could relocate him to some tropical area, that'd be cool too.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

So sorry...

I know - not a single post in October. What can I say? Things have been a bit wild and wacky around here. Not that that's unusual by any means, but it has been time consuming. So to tide my few but faithful readers over, I thought I'd share some pictures of my darling little monsters on Halloween.

At best, this was a lazy and feeble attempt at a costume. I guess she felt the ears were enough to make her deserving of some candy. She didn't even bother with a tail. Sad, sad, sad...
Of course, her little brother was more eager to turn himself into some sort of creepy, undead creature. Say hello to my little zombie-child.
He even mastered the fine art of hovering. (Look ma! No legs!)
And here the sweet little pumpkins are taking a 2 second break from beating the crap out of each other to pose for this picture. Wasn't that kind of them?

I really will try to do better this month.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wildlife Prairie State Park

Yesterday, the kids didn't have school. So we decided it was a good day to visit my friend and her adorable little daughter. We took a trip down towards Peoria and spent the day at the Wildlife Prairie Park.

It only took 20 minutes to get the kids to stop shoving each other long enough to snap this shot:

They had a little movie about the park that played continuously inside the Visitor's Center. We were the only ones there, so the kids had more fun making their own shadow-puppet movies. We were able to get pretty darn close to some of the animals. This is a black bear. I thought black bears were a smaller bear, but this one seemed plenty big to me.
That's Cole up there on the observation deck, overlooking the prairie full of elk, geese and buffalo.

There are statues of animals all over the park. Of course, Cole (being the huge fan that he is of toads and frogs) wanted to take this one home with us. I'm sure it would've been lovely in his room.We had a really nice time visiting with Susan and Ella, and the weather was just beautiful. So it was a wonderful day to spend outdoors enjoying Mother Nature.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Football Season

Football season is in full swing here. Cole is really enjoying his first year of tackle. Doesn't he look tough despite being the lightest kid on the team?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Ducks At 5 Weeks

The feathers just keep coming in. You can see how much brown and beige coloring they are getting. I'm not sure exactly how large they will eventually get, but they seem to be nearly the size of adult ducks to me.

This appears to be a female, and it looks like she's a crested duck. She'll be almost as funny looking as the runner duck with that puff-ball on her head.

See all the funny feathers just starting to poke through around their faces? Right now they look a little bit like a pin cushion. I can't wait to see the final result.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Country -vs- Crumb

I'll just let the pictures tell the tale of the introduction of our cat, Country, and Crumb.