Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A few of my favorite things!

This Christmas has been different than any other Christmas I have ever celebrated.  I started off  the season in a funk because of the fairly new budget we are on.  I was struggling hard with the fact we were paying cash for everything, and I was stressed that due to this fact I was literally not done with my shopping until December 23rd.  (Usually I am done before November 1st!)  

After taking the commercialization out of Christmas, I was forced to look for the deeper meaning of the season, and believe it or not, I found myself.  (Somewhere between a little bit of eggnog and a Christmas tree that would rival Charlie Brown's tree.) 

I got caught up in the small miracles that made this holiday one to remember, and it was beautiful!  These were a few of my favorite things:

 This little Charlie Brown-esque tree caused quite the argument between The Reluctant Farmer and I .  She wanted our usual tree, big and beautiful.  I didn't trust myself to put up a big tree for fear that I would stuff a bunch of expensive gifts under it.  This little tree reminded me to simplify, and made staying on budget much easier. 

I wait on these buckeyes every year, they are the next best thing to Heaven.  A co-worker knows I love them so much.  I am so blessed that she thinks of me every year and always saves 2-3 just for me!  

Even though we were on a budget, we were still able to donate to less fortunate folks.  I am forever grateful for the opportunities I had to serve others this holiday season.  This is what the true meaning of Christmas is about!

Katzya performed in her first play.  She joined the Tipp City Players for a performance of A Charlie Brown Christmas.  It was adorable, and really drove home the reminder that the season of Christmas was not about commercialization.  

I was able to attend my nephew Isaac's first school play, and I was the proudest Aunt in the all the audience!  (He is the redhead in the red shirt in the center of the screen...)  There is nothing cuter than a bunch of kids singing carols.  When you watch the innocence and faith on the faces of these little people, it is refreshing to the soul...  

The Reluctant Farmer made Christmas sweaters for Esa and Fat Tina, since we were on a budget and couldn't buy sweaters.  They were so cute, and I was in awe of her talent!

We started a new family tradition: Bingo!  The Reluctant Farmer and I won 5 rounds, making the rest of the folks a bit jealous, so I am not sure but they might be plotting their revenge for next year.... 

This cookie was made by my niece Katelinn.  She and her sister had just taken a cookie decorating class, and brought these cookies to our family gathering.  It was so cute that I couldn't bring myself to eat it!

The one event that drives home Christmas for me every year is the candle light service at church.  There is nothing like 400+ people singing Silent Night in unison to put you in the Christmas spirit.  This year I went with my sister for her first service, and it was something I will cherish forver!

Due to our budget many of my Christmas gifts were handmade.  How blessed am I, just look at this fabulous stuff!

 The Reluctant Farmer made me this awesome alpaca/wool blend hat.  

I got the cutest bag made out of an old sweater!

And the most touching gift?!  My daughter drew this zebra, freehand, and then pained it.  I am in shock over this painting.  It is beautiful!  She is so talented!  (I think she gets that talent from her father.) 

I started this holiday with a little less zest than normal, and minus the Charlie Brown tree, I pray I can relish in the simple things of the season again.  (The Reluctant Farmer has already warned me that next year her big tree is back.)  I now realize that with out the commercialization of Christmas, this holiday went by beautifully slow and I was able to savor more of the season than ever before.

I hope you were just as blessed this year!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Sending you and yours, a Merry Christmas and a happy "Howliday"!

Emily, the Reluctant Farmer, Katzya and the rest of the herd....

Monday, December 23, 2013

Flood 2013

Canal Rd. is here somewhere!

We received a ton of rain here this weekend!  (5 inches to be exact...)  That doesn't sound like a lot of rain, but when you mix in the fact that we had 8 inches of snow melting on top of that, it has made for a very wet weekend.  Our rivers and streams are all at max capacity and most have peaked, causing massive flooding all throughout the surrounding area, and a lot of road closures making it difficult to get around.  We personally didn't have any water issues, minus 2 inches of water in the basement and a few raised vegetable beds that were under water.  Our neighbors though, were not that fortunate....  Their backyard looks like a pond, and is deep enough that I can kayak around their backyard.

The Reluctant Farmer and I did venture out with our friend Julie for a little shopping this afternoon, and on the way home we had to reroute because of the water.  We were going to take Canal Rd. home, but decided against it when we realized there was no road anymore!

This is not the normal type of precipitation we expect this time of year!  And I don't know why, but snow is not scary in the least to me.  Water in the other hand?!  Scares me to death!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ducks, Homosexuality, and Jesus....

Last night as I was scanning my Facebook news feed when I saw a link that said:  “Duck Dynasty Patriarch Slams Homosexuality!”  I clicked on the link, started reading the article, looked over at my dog and remarked: “Oh,Tina…  This is going to be a media shit storm.”  Tina promptly turned around three times, and went back to sleep as I headed over to GQ’s website to read the actual interview that started the mayhem.  I knew when I awoken this morning there was going to be a lot of talk about this situation.  What a psychic revelation that was! 

I had a night to sleep on Phil Robertson’s interview before I could write about the subject, and reveal that Phil and I have a lot in common.  Now, I know people are wondering, what does an openly gay, opinionated, farmer have in common with a Bible thumping , camouflage wearing, man from the south?  You see, at first glance it would appear that Phil and I have no common ground.  However, we each have our own morals, and our own ethics.   We each love our family dearly, work hard, and enjoy nature.  But the biggest thing Phil and I have in common?  Phil is my brother, by the same Father.  Phil and I serve the same God.

In the original interview, Phil was asked:  “What in your mind, is sinful?”
Phil replies:  “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there.  Beastiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and those men.” 

This statement isn't offensive to me because Phil was asked for his opinion on what was sinful in his eyes.  He didn't just outwardly blast the gay community.  I know as a lesbian in a committed relationship, I am not sleeping around with anyone or anything else.  I don’t have to justify that to Phil or anyone else for that matter.  Truthfully, it sounds to me like Phil really doesn't like people who sleep with animals and people that are promiscuous.  And you know what?  I have to agree with Phil!  I don’t agree with either of those things either.
The part that hurt me the most is how the media portrayed Phil as a homosexual hating, monster.  Quoting the above quote over and over, but never mentioning the quote afterwards. 

The quote read:  “We never judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell.  That’s the Almighty’s job.  We just love ‘em, give ‘em the good news about Jesus- whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists.  We let God sort ‘em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

Yes, Phil.  I understand what you are saying and I couldn't agree more.  It is the Lord’s job to judge me.  He is the only person whose opinion truly matters in the end, and I believe He created me to be a vessel of His love.  I have known I was gay since I was 5 years old.  I have to think that God knew exactly what He was doing when He created me.  If He had wanted me to be a heterosexual, then He would have created me to be a heterosexual.  Perhaps He created me to be gay, so we could learn from each other…

As I look through the rift that this media frenzy has evoked, the hatred and judgment that everyone is so quick to pass, I ask you to ponder this…. 

Not once in the Bible does God ask his Christian followers to choose between their compassion and their faith in the Bible.  In fact compassion for others is the fundamental principle that Christianity is built on, and the Bible is the concrete of our faith. 

It saddens me as I watch so called Christians bash their brothers and sisters, stating their actions and words are justified because they have “no choice but to act or believe a certain way because the Bible says so.”  No, it doesn't.  The word homosexual was not added to the English language until 1842, and did not appear in an English version of a Bible until 1946.  What does that mean exactly?  It means that the Bible passages were written about same-sex acts between heterosexual people, not committed gay couples, because the concept of homosexuality didn't even exist when the Bible was written.  (We do know that the Bible condemns promiscuous, excessive, predatory and sex outside of marriage in the heterosexual realm, and can assume God would expect His homosexual children to honor the same set of rules. )  Those are the rules I choose to live by and base my relationship on.

I wasn't upset about Phil’s stance on homosexuality.  I’m not upset because even though Phil and I may not agree on every subject, I respect he has the right to his opinions and beliefs, and I honor him as a child of our Father.  Therefore, I ask you before you judge another human being, to remember this Bible verse: And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.  Luke 6:31  We can trust that we should take God, in this matter and in all matters, at His word.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Buddy's Blueberry Pumpkin Dog Treats

The benefit of pumpkin and blueberries in our diet is undeniable, but did you know these super fruits offer the same benefits to the family dog?  Pumpkin is great for your dog's digestive health, aiding in constipation and diarrhea, where blueberries are a super food, chock full of anti-oxidants while helping to protect against cancer and cardiovascular disease.    

We were blessed with an abundance of these fruits this year On the Urban Farm, and we have been adding these to our dog's diet in the form of these amazing dog treats that we've created.  

From our kitchen to yours, we hope you and your furry friends enjoy!  Please feel free to share on Facebook and Pinterest, and of course let us know how your dogs like them.

XOXO,  Emily and The Reluctant Farmer 

Blueberry Pumpkin Dog Treats

1 c. plain applesauce
1 c. fresh pumpkin (use canned if fresh is not available....)
4 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. flax seed meal
50 fresh blueberries (use frozen if fresh is not available...)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the pumpkin and applesauce in a large mixing bowl and stir well.  Once the pumpkin and applesauce is well blended , stir in the flour and flax seed meal.  Work the dough with your hands until all 4 ingredients are well mixed, and then roll out to a 1/2" thickness.  

Cut treats in 1" x 1" squares and place them 1" apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  With your finger push straight down in the center of the square and form a divot.  Place a blueberry in the divot and bake for 25 minutes.  After 25 minutes, flip the treat over and bake for an additional 25 minutes on the opposite side.  

Remove from the oven and allow treats to cool for 7 minutes before removing from the parchment paper.  (If the treats are not allowed to cool, the blueberries fall out of the center of the treats!)  Remember, because there are no preservatives in these treats, store in an air tight container for up to one week.  Freeze if going to keep for a longer period.  


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Be Our Guest

Freedom Ride!
Last Friday I was surfing the internet when I cam across a picture of a senior Italian Greyhound that was in our local animal shelter.  It broke my heart.  If you know this breed, you know they are absolute creatures of comfort.  They love to be warm, curl up under blankets at your feet, and snuggle so close to you that they nearly will share your sweatshirt with you if allowed.  Italian Greyhounds don't belong at shelters, they belong in beds and on couches.

I immediately posted a plea for a rescue to step up and and graciously I got a return phone call from Italian Greyhound Club of America Rescue of Ohio, but informed them that I had received word that the boy was being pulled by another rescue.  We agreed to keep an eye on Shamu, and wait for the other rescue to pull him.  Flash forward to Tuesday, the other rescue was still having difficulty pulling Shamu from the shelter, so IGRA of Ohio and our rescue decided it was time to pull him.

We are fostering Shamu until rescue can pick him up this weekend, and I forgot just how delightful this breed of dog is.  Shamu is the perfect house guest and is everything an Italian Greyhound should be.  He likes the couch, the most plush dog beds, sweaters, and crosses his front legs and "frogs" his back legs when he lays down.  We are happy that we could pull out our old martingale collar and help this delightful boy.  It has been a pleasure to have him as our guest for the week.

We stole this jacket off a dachshund, who has not forgiven us yet....

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

DL: Remember to Look Around You

Please check out my latest article for Dayton Local and remember to to notice the people that surround you this holiday season, for the Lord said:  "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Behold the Cuteness!

Last Wednesday I went to work with an extra pep in my step.  I was so excited, and I wanted that 8 hour work day to be over so quick, because I could not wait to get home and see my new babies!

We currently have a flock of 8 laying hens that I am getting ready to retire to The Remy Homestead where they will live out the remainder of their years, free ranging with a bigger flock of hens.  Replacing them will be 16 new babies that will hopefully be laying in the spring.  (I will not be keeping this many, but there was a 15 bird minimum and you never know what may or may not live...) 

This is the first time I have raised late early fall chicks, and here is my thought on why this is a good idea....

Chickens stop laying in the winter, or significantly slow down production, and because my flock is not a free ranging flock (They have a backyard time share agreement with the dogs...), I go through a lot of feed for no return in the colder months.  If I feed chicks instead of full size hens, they don't eat as much food and they wouldn't be ready to start laying until the days got a little longer anyways.  This means (I hope...) that they will be ready to lay in the spring as soon as it warms up.  Eureka, am I smart farmer or what?!  

Behold the cuteness!  

Friday, December 6, 2013

Muddy Paws Be Gone!

As "The White Death" creeps in among us, I have only one thought...

If you are not excited about the 5" of snow on the ground, then you obviously don't have big dogs!

5" of snow is the only way my mud room has had a break in the last 3 weeks....

Woo hoo for frozen ground and NO muddy feet!  

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Milk and Bread Will Save Us All

Facing the snowstorm head on and securing my future through all things dairy!
Due to the fact that we have been on a budget as of late, we do all of our grocery shopping on Thursday night or Friday when we get our weekly allowance.  I realized we were out of milk last night, and thought I would just pick some up on my way home from work.  As they were announcing a winter weather emergency overhead at work every hour today, I realized the error of my preparedness.  You see, we are bracing for the "white death" here in Ohio, and this was the wrong time to be at the grocery store!

What is the "white death" you ask?!  The "white death" is when the people of Ohio hear the word snow and loose their mind!  I am unsure why this is, after all we do live in Ohio and snow happens here year after year.  However, they have already started canceling schools for tomorrow, the salt trucks are already on the road, and the grocery stores are flooded with people buying the last loaf of bread and gallon of milk.  Keep in mind, the first snowflake is not even on the ground yet!  Also keep in mind that with the amount of snow we get we are never out of commission for more than 2 days, maximum.  Yet, we flock in droves to secure our gallon of milk and bread much like we did during the 1999 Christmas season when Walmart was getting their latest shipment of Tickle-Me-Elmo's delivered.  This rush is driven by fear, and it's a homage we are serious about.

And, where was I tonight?!  Stuck right in the middle of all the crazies getting their milk and bread rations.  Thank goodness there was plenty of milk to go around for everyone, and no one had to be turned away empty handed.  I'm not 100% sure, but I have a hunch we are going to survive the 6-8" of snow just fine....  

The boy stocking this cooler said he had to refill it three times per hour tonight....

Monday, December 2, 2013

Isn't she lovely?!

Last week our stove suffered a tragic death, a death with the dramatic flair of a drag queen who had just suffered a broken nail.  There was fire, billowing smoke, and pizza rolls.  (No worry folks, the pizza rolls faired just fine.  The Reluctant Farmer was able to rescue them via spatula and land them safely onto a plate in record time!)

What wasn't fairing well was The Reluctant Farmer....

You see, The Reluctant Farmer does most of our cooking and where we try to be self sufficient, the bottom line is:  we aren't.  At least, not where the stove is involved.  She needed a stove STAT!

Due to our "monetray diet" we looked at used stoves and free stoves, but finally after 3 trips to the appliance store we broke down and purchased a brand new stove.  We were able to pick the stove up tonight, in the rain of course, and bring it home.  I was so excited for The Reluctant Farmer to see this shiny, new beauty when she got home from work.  But, as soon as The Reluctant Farmer came through the door tonight, I realized our relationship had changed.

Instead of hearing: "Hi!  How was your day?!"  I heard:  "Oh!  Look how pretty it is!," in a high pitched voice usually reserved for puppies and babies.  In fact there was no hello, thank you, or any greeting at all.  And as I am getting ready to go to bed, my old girlfriend and her current lover are busy frying an egg.

It is evident that I have been replaced by someone prettier, but just as white....

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Monetary Diet

Three weeks ago I strolled into church not really expecting to be changed.  However, the sermon was on financial freedom, and it was if the Heavens had opened up and God was talking directly to me.  After we left that service I was determined to change my life, and since then Reluctant Farmer and I have under taken the huge task of reining in and eliminating our unsecured debt.  This is something that has been bothering me for several years, but not something I was willing to face.  No one likes to admit they are $20,000 in debt to a credit card company.  It feels terrible, and I am tired of being Citi Card's bitch, so we have been working our tails off to remedy this situation.

While on my "monetary diet" I have made a lot of changes and there have been a million "ah-ha" moments.    They haven't been easy, and some have been quite painful, but I will live and much better than a lot of other people in this world.

- We now have a budget.  This was a foreign word to me 2 weeks ago.  I grew up in a family that never hurt for money.  We as children always had lavish Christmas mornings, birthday parties, and if we wanted something it was ours.  Now each week our paycheck is divided out to where it needs to go immediately.  There is no more free money sitting around in my checking account in case I find a "must have" at the local store.

- After realizing that we spent $700.00 a month going out to eat, we now have a weekly allowance and each get $25.00 to spend every week to do with what we wish.  Chipotle, Starbucks, and McDonald's are now treats instead of the norm. Please note:  If you own stock in those companies sell now.  There is about to be a significant drop in revenue without us shopping there on a daily basis!

- We have stopped being "Disneyland Parents".  As I started this budget, my initial thought was "Who starts a budget this close to Katzya's birthday and Christmas?!"  I now see this was a brilliant move.  Last week was my daughter's birthday, and in the past I would have rolled out the red carpet.  There would have been party favors, a matching cake, the house would have been decorated in the same theme, and I would have managed to squeeze $300.00 worth of presents into the day as well.  This year, I was determined to stay on budget for her birthday.  We took my daughter to the movies with a few of her friends, skipped the party favors, and I bought her a $25.00 gift card to her favorite book store.  Guess what?!  She was perfectly fine with her birthday party and had a great time.  I have realized "Disneyland Parenting" is truthfully for the parents, not the kids.  A child who has been raised to be grateful doesn't care if it she receives 20 present or 1 present. (At least I did something right in the parenting department!)

-  The entire reason we homestead is to save money, eat healthy, and be self-sustaining.  I am not sure how/why we have gone astray, but it feels good to be on track!

My goal is to continue this momentum into the Christmas holiday.  It's not going to be easy, but I just have to remind myself that nothing I buy is going to be as great as being debt free will be.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Over and out...

The 2013 garden season is over for us here On the Urban Farm.  We spent the afternoon clearing out the raised beds and tiding up around the farm.  The biggest challenge was rounding up the bottle neck/birdhouse gourds.  We ended up with 53 gourds for $1.99!  What we will do with 53 birdhouse gourds?!  Lord knows...   

Our raised beds served us will this growing season.  We grew enough produce that I feel pretty secure going into winter with what we were able to preserve.  I don't have an exact count on what we ended up with, but I know this is the biggest bounty that I have ever had in my pantry.  (We have actually had to use the racks from our grow lights as storage shelves!)

As usual, the gardens were not just about nourishing the body by way of stomach.  My mind was nourished as well.  I often refer to my garden as a living breathing class room, and have taken away a few things for next year:

1)  Don't start your seeds in February no matter how much you suffer from lack of sun and dirt.  Where it is possible to keep the plants alive, it is A LOT of work, and pimping out your living room with grow stations and 72,000 lumens of lights makes the neighbors mildly suspicious....

2)  Don't over crowd carrots when you plant them.  We sowed rows of carrots, but should have planted the seeds thinner.  Instead we over crowded and didn't thin, so we ended up with a bunch of 1" long carrots.  Oops....

3)  The makers of the "plant safe" weed killers are liars....  My cucumber crop is proof of such things.

4)  Squash bugs are proof that Satan exhists here on earth.  We tried a million different home remedies and still ended up with no pumpkin crop and a minimal squash crop.  Just remember this squash bugs:  Next year, we are back.  I have all winter to research how to kill you.  You have been warned....

5)  Fungus on vine plants can be cured if you catch it in time.  Thankfully The Reluctant Farmer is diligent about inspecting the garden!

With winter approaching, I can say I am happy for the break this time of year gives.  I will research, and plan for 2014, hoping to improve what I am able to produce.  I would also like to add a bee hive or two to the ol' urban homestead, and possibly a turkey for the freezer.

What did you take away from your gardens this year?  Anything you wish you would have done different?  Any crops you wish you would have tried, or won't ever try again?  What were your successes and failures?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Monday brings out the beast....

Monday brings out the beast in all of us....

The Reluctant Farmer was scratching Tru tonight and he was grinning from ear to ear, in total doggie ecstasy.  I love when he smiles and decided to snap a few pictures while he was "cheesing" for the camera.  Sadly, none of my photos turned out the way I envisioned, but this one made me laugh because he looks like I feel on Monday morning.

So my friends, as you go about your day I wish you all the best and hope this picture brings a smile to your Monday morning.

Emily and Tru

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day!

Happy Veteran's Day to all of the men and women who protect my freedom then and now!  I appreciate the sacrifice that you and your family have made so I can live in this amazing country.  Land of the free and home of the brave?  Not without you!

Pictured above is my Uncle Ug.  He made a career out of the military, and retired several years ago.  Growing up, I was always so proud of him, and loved watching him leave in the morning dressed in his fatigues.  He taught me to love animals, farm life, and can fix anything!  

Thanks for being my hero Uncle Ug, today and everyday!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Buyer's Remorse and A Budget

Several weeks ago I went to one of my favorite antique stores downtown, and was warned by The Reluctant Farmer that I was NOT to buy anything that I could not carry home, because I didn't need anymore "stuff" and we were on a budget.

She gave me this warning with a snarky attitude which I think I was to take as gospel.  Instead I viewed her passive aggression as a challenge.  

Now, I realize I didn't really need to purchase anything, and probably would have come out of the store empty handed, but as I was puttering around the store looking at a barrage of antique awesomeness, I glanced over at the shop keeper, and above her head was a mirage! 

I fell in love with the same speed and intensity of a middle schooler, and immediately asked the shop keeper, "How much is that?!"

She cheerfully exclaimed:  "It's ONLY $40.00!"

I was blinded by cheap love and an competitive attitude:  "Really?!  Only $40.00?!  I'll take it!"

I knew this painting was meant to be mine, otherwise why would the universe have aligned at this exact moment, providing me with:

- An obnoxiously large painting of a dog for only $40.00!
- A way to challenge The Reluctant Farmer's passive aggressive warning that I didn't need more "stuff".
- And a seemingly obvious win, because I could most certainly carry this home!  

So, I hiked home with an obvious prize, and realized one tragic piece upon arrival.  In my haste to win a silent competition with The Reluctant Farmer, I failed to measure the wall where I planned on hanging the painting.  

Did The Reluctant Farmer gloat?  No, that is not her style.....

Instead, she took down another painting that is near and dear to my heart, and replaced it with "the dalmatian on steroids" painting, promising she would rehang my other painting soon.  The other painting has yet to be hung, and after walking past that dalmatian 500 times a day, do you know what I have realized?  

I have a terrible case of buyer's remorse, and if we're going to be completely honest with each other I don't even like that painting...  (Ouch, that hurt to admit!)  But we can't get rid of the painting now because The Reluctant Farmer says it is a waste of money to take it to the Goodwill.  Guess this will be a lesson in budgeting for me, because I will be reminded of this mistake until I find a buyer for the painting.  How about it friends, know anyone that wants a 4'x4' painting of a dalmatian?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The middle will be great....

Last night on our way home from dog class Katzya insisted that as soon as we got home, she wanted to knit.

I looked at her strangely and said:  "Did you say you wanted to knit?"

She said, "Yes, I have been meeting with some people at the library after school and I have been learning how to knit.  I am pretty good at it!"

Part of me was skeptical because the last time I tried to teach her to knit, there was enough whining and crying in the first 5 stitches that I contemplated homicide by knitting needles.  The other half of me, the half that's a fiber whore, was so excited she wanted to knit I could hardly contain myself.

As soon as we got home we dug out the knitting supplies, and I asked:  "Why the sudden interest in knitting?"

Katzya replied back, "Before, I wasn't very good, and I was wrapped up in my scarf being perfect.  My scarf was different widths, I dropped stitches, and I was afraid to do something I was not good at."

"Well, what changed?", I asked.

Smartly, she replied:  "I did!  I still don't know how to start and I don't know how to finish but the middle is great!"  I cast on 20 stitches and  away she went with a look of pure concentration on her face, and you know what?  She was right, the middle was great!  

 The more I thought about this today, the more I thought about all the possibilities the universe holds for those who aren't afraid to try and who aren't afraid to fail.  To fail something is scary, and that fear is often times enough to paralyze someone.  I would be lying if I said that I haven't been paralyzed by this same fear especially as of recent, during the book project I've been working on.  I'm blessed I have a daughter who is wise beyond her years, to remind me that even if the beginning is not perfect, and I don't know how it's going to end, the middle will be great.      

Saturday, November 2, 2013

DL: Letterboxing, Your Families Next Big Adventure

If you are looking for a free, family oriented activity that the entire family can enjoy, please check out my article on letterboxing featured in Dayton Local this morning! 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Teenage Confession

With "The Teenage Years" in full swing at our house, I have learned I am not cool, I know nothing, and the human eye can roll really far back into the head.  The once cherubic face of a baby is long gone, and in it's place is an opinionated young lady who is learned how to live life.  I would be lying if I said that transformation has been easy on me.

Now, I am not complaining.  I know my teenage daughter is a lot easier to live with than most girls her age, simply for the fact she still fears God and her mother, dresses to cover all of her body, and is not boy crazy.  For this I am beyond grateful.  I do have a confession to make though.

It has been very difficult to connect with this "new" person as of late.  Things that would have never bothered her in the past, are suddenly monumental crises with little resolution in sight and the result is often tears, weeping, and the gnashing of  teeth.  I often don't know what to do or say, and when I look back at the What to Expect When You're Expecting book, I realize they left this chapter out!  

I had an epiphany last night as we were at obedience class though.  We were both training our dogs, laughing at how embarrassing they were acting, and for a moment I caught a glimpse of my "old" child, the one I shared a common ground with.  It made a heart sing.  Afterwards we went for ice cream, laughed, and chatted about her day.  It was glorious, and I can't wait to do it again next week!  Bonding with my daughter, better behaved dogs, and the chance to do it all again next week?!  Yes, please!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Cowboy and the Magician

Monday I was at work when I noticed my front tooth felt rough and uneven right before a piece the size of the Grand Canyon, chipped off.  The tooth in question may or may not have been previously repaired because I chipped it two decades ago, when I jumped over the back of a couch with a beer bottle in hand.  (Sorry you had to find out on my blog, Mom!)  I needed help in the form of a dentist ASAP, because with a chipped tooth, I was unable to smile and that was a tragedy in and of itself!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am neurotic about my teeth and phobic of the dentist.  (Odd combo I know....)  I needed someone special for this job, I needed The Cowboy Dentist.  When I called his office I was squeezed into the first appointment for Tuesday morning.  I arrived scared, but quickly realized I was in great hands!  From the moment I arrived, I was greeted by friendly folks that were knowledgeable and clearly experts in their field.  

Besides The Cowboy Dentist, I met April The Magician.  April The Magician was flawless in her mission to repair my tooth.  She took her time, paid attention to detail and worked her magic. (I'm not sure what it was, but she able to fix my chipped tooth and also repair a chipped incisor that looked very rough...)  And I tell you, I left that office feeling like a million bucks!  

To The Cowboy Dentist, April the Magician, and the staff, this appointment was probably nothing more than another day at the office.  To me it was a miracle and a huge sigh of relief.  Thank you to each and everyone of you, you were great!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kindness and coffee

Today I decided to walk Linda down to the local coffee shop in an effort to work on her socialization skills and fulfill my need for caffeine.  She does amazing on a leash and walks in a natural heel position at my side, but is afraid of cars and activity.  (Linda's initial over exuberance at the breeder's house, has turned into nervous energy that I am working through...)  I have been taking her everywhere I go in hopes that she will get over this as soon as possible!

My plan was to tie Linda to a bench outside the coffee shop, run inside, grab my cup o' joe and come right back outside.  Naturally the coffee shop was packed and Linda did not like that I was inside and she was alone.  Suddenly a boy about 9 years old, says to me: "Ma'am, I would be happy to stand out here with your dog and pet her while you get your coffee."  I explained that Linda was a little nervous, but if he would be so kind to pet her, she would probably love that.

I looked out the window of the coffee shop and this is what I saw.  Two little boys petting Linda and if you look closely, one boy has taken off his jacket and wrapped it around Linda to keep her warm.  The other boy is holding his jacket up to block the wind for her.  When socializing a new dog, there is nothing better than mannerly children!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Haunted

Tonight we went downtown to our town's Harvest Festival and annual Olde Tippecanoe Ghost Walk, put on by the local town bookstore.  The ghost walk is one of our favorite fall traditions because it combines a bit of local history and lore.  Tonight was no different.  There was even more history this year than the year before and we had a great time.

After the tour tonight, we went back to the bookstore for a look around.  There were a bunch of people standing around talking about ghosts and such when one of the women there said she wanted to go to the basement to look around, but was scared to go alone.  Katzya quickly volunteered to accompany her, and off they went  (I refuse to go to the basement because of an occurrence that happened several years ago.  See last year's blog post )

Suddenly we hear what sounds like a herd of elephants coming down the hallway, the woman in the lead and Katzya hot on her heels.  Both of them wide-eyed, pale and looking scared.  Katzya goes on to explain they were walking down the basement stairs and she was telling the woman she had never seen a ghost encounter when a book fell off a bookshelf landing on the floor in front of them.  Katzya asked the woman if she saw the book fall, and before their very eyes 2 more books fell on top of the first book.  ( Here is an example of some of the things that happen in the bookstore )

We definitely got our money's worth out of this years ghost walk, and it sure has brought our family together!  Where else can you get a shaking teenager glued to you for the duration of the evening and into the night?  The bed is going to be a bit small tonight as I have to squeeze in the third person.....

Thursday, October 24, 2013

I did it!

For those of you wondering if I had fallen off the face of the earth, never fear I am alive and well.  Exactly a one week ago, I went out to dinner with my friend/publisher, Meg, and while we were at dinner I mentioned that I had an idea for a children's book.  I asked Meg how soon I would have to have this project finished for a spring release date and she said 6 days.  Not one to turn down a challenge, I accepted.  Let me tell you, this project has consumed me for the entire week!

I am excited to tell you though, the book left the editor's hands today and is on it's way to the publisher currently.  Whew!  It has been a whirlwind of a week, and not one I want to repeat anytime soon.  
The good news is: I DID IT!  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Can't please 'em all!

Today I received an email from an upset reader wondering how I could ever purchase 2 dogs, and had I felt better I would have replied sooner.  They wanted to know how I could ever consider myself a rescuer of animals if I advocated, by purchasing, from a breeder.  In my heart I knew eventually this question was going breech itself like a whale washed up on shore.....

There is a huge difference between reputable breeders and backyard breeders.  One is in it for the money, and their dogs I rescue constantly.  The other stands behind what he puts on the ground and takes any dog they produce back, no matter what, for the life of the dog.  A reputable breeder doesn't let what they produce sit in a shelter, because they are the first line of contact when an owner can no longer keep the dog.
A reputable breeder requires a spay and neuter contract on every dog they put in a pet home, and that is IF they don't have the procedure completed themselves before the dog leaves their care.

A reputable breeder knows all of the genetic defect possibilities and only breeds the stock that is going to absolutely enhance the breed.  They do genetic testing on the dog's eyes, elbows, hips, etc...  And at the first sign something might not be correct?  They don't breed their dogs!  

A reputable breeder breeds for temperament, and if the temperament is not of a quality that they desire, then they don't breed their dogs.

And lastly, a reputable breeder doesn't make a dime on puppies!  By the time every puppy is vaccinated, wormed, micro chipped, altered and the parents the same plus xrays and genetic testing, there is no money made.

I knew what breed of dog I wanted this time, and I didn't want a dog with any baggage this go around.  (I have plenty of those!)  I researched my breed, and I did a lot of homework prior to even meeting these dogs.  In my eyes there is no shame in that.  It feels good to know that if I screw up the dogs I just obtained from a reputable breeder, I have no one to blame but myself.

I get this a lot from people:  "Hey Emily, I am looking for a Golden Retriever."  My advice is always:  Do your homework, find a reputable breeder or adopt from your local rescue/shelter.  Many folks in the rescue world get upset if people buy from a breeder.  I don't.  I would rather be the person that helps someone find the perfect dog for their family, than the rescuer that has to pull the dog from the shelter any day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happy for sure!

When I bought Chai 10 years ago, I said the next Belgian Shepherd I bought would be a Belgian Laekenois.  The only problem being that the Belgian Laekenois is so rare, it was difficult to find a breeder in the United States.  Fast forward, 10 years and the Belgian Laekenois is still not easy to find here, and I knew I was looking for another Belgian so I looked at importing but that just seemed silly to me.  I rescue dogs constantly, and for me to pay thousands of dollars for a dog just seemed wrong.  Importing a pet dog?  Even worse.  I understand importing show dogs, but with millions of dogs in shelters all over the country, I couldn't justify bringing a pet dog into the country.

I was willing to pay a moderate re-home fee for my new best friend, but had given up on the idea of a Laekenois, figuring it just woundn't happen.  By chance I got on Facebook and asked in a Belgian Shepherd group if anyone knew of any Laekenois re-homes. Several weeks ago I received a message from a breeder in Virginia who had several older puppies that she was trying to place because they were not show quality.  That was exactly what I was looking for!  It sort of felt like the heavens aligned and were shining down on me, because I could hardly believe my luck.

The Reluctant Farmer, Katzya and myself drove to Virginia this weekend where we met Lou Anne and her curly headed kids, and we fell in love.  When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by the 2 males that we were to look at.  (Male dogs are my preference...)  However, Lou Anne mentioned that she had "a female that acted like she had been shot out of a cannon" and wanted to know if we wanted to meet the girls too.  Well, we had driven 8 hours to see these dogs and we are dog people so immediately we said yes.  We walked through the kennel and I think my heart just stopped.  To watch 5 Belgian Laekenois puppies playing, running, and jumping was the neatest experience ever!  I was in awe....

There were 2 dogs that we just kept going back to, a male (Tru) and a female (Linda).

Linda was exactly the type of dog that I love.  (You know I love all my creatures a little bit bad...)  She was bouncy, in my face, and demanded I look at her.  It was evident that she would be an amazingly fun dog to work with.  Not a push over, not too hard, but just right.  I like to work with a challenge and I appreciate a dog that keeps me on my toes.

Tru was exactly the type of dog that my family needed.  He was reserved, calm, and wise.  He would excel in the obedience world you could tell, and he just seemed like a very easy dog.  One that would not be hard to live with.  I appreciated his regal demeanor, intelligence, and the fact he was so different than Linda.

It was virtually impossible to choose which one we liked more, so we didn't.  We took home both.  Nuts?  Maybe....  Happy?  For sure!