Struggles

Today the English Shepherd breed is having a major good news/bad news day.  The good news is that today, a puppy miller/dog hoarder is being put out of business.  She has 200 English Shepherds at her place outside of Billings, Montana.  The bad news is that these dogs range from pups to 6 years old with human contact experience ranging from pets to wild ones who don’t know much about humans.  The bad news is that many of these dogs could be sick with distemper, parvo, and/or fleas and other things of nasty order.  The bad news is that 200 dogs and their care creates a massive operation.  I have volunteered to help where I can… though I struggle to remain aloof… 200 ways to break my heart, and I haven’t even looked into those ES eyes yet!

If you want to help, go here…
I have more to say on this, but will refrain for now.  If I suddenly disappear for a bit, I may just be in Billings, packing dog food and water and shoveling little piles of you-know-what.
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Aargh!

Frustration was paramount today.  We had made it an early day… taking Johnny to Worland to catch a flight to Denver and then San Francisco to see Cindy, Vernon’s sister.  We had our shopping list ready for the big city.  Since it was so early, nothing was open yet, so we went out to eat breakfast.  We then hit the few stores we needed, trying to make a fast escape to return home.  The lumberyard was open at 7:30 and though we really hate shopping there, we went to try to hurry along our progress.  I was not astonished to see they didn’t have the same primer I’ve been painting with at the Mills Place.
Did I tell you I’ve been priming and painting??  I have!  It makes me VERY happy even though there are still a few spots that we are sanding and mudding for the umpteenth time.
So, back to the primer.  They didn’t have the same kind, but they had the same brand… so we bought two gallons of it… It should *basically* be the same, right?  sigh.  You know where this is going…
Took the countertop samples back to this other store.  The one I had agonized over and finally picked out has been discontinued.  sigh.  These were supposed to be updated samples.
My daughter is buying a new car so we needed the title to the old one.  Looked in our safety deposit box.  No title.  sigh.  It’ll be 11 days to get a new one, though they will work with the seller, so the transaction can go through anyway.
The other stops went relatively well, so we blasted for home.  I had high hopes of continuing my priming and painting.  Vernon was going for a sled ride with Daniel for kicks and giggles.  Toria was supposed to grade papers.  Brandon went to see his honey in Worland… the boys couldn’t go along this morning because *someone* has to stay home and feed the cows!
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So this is what I had accomplished the other day… white primer over old paint.  I didn’t have enough to cut in the corners, so I had this look going.  Not real pretty.  Yesterday I had even made the next step and put some color on the walls as well, avoiding where I’d have to return and prime the corners.
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The color isn’t really quite this golden… but you get the idea.
Now I was ready to blast off and paint, but I refrained and sanded and mudded some last minute spots first.  I finally went to work… planning to prime the kitchen and cut in the dining room so that tomorrow I could paint and the guys could start laying more floor.
I had a goal!
I had a plan!
I had energy!
I poured a large amount in my roller pan, grabbed my roller out of the sink where just minutes before I had a drink.  Oooh, my roller was damp, dummy me, got it wet… so I squeezed out some moisture and dunked it in the primer.  I rolled a tad bit on the ceiling and the extra water in the roller dripped… gee, there must be more water in it than I thought.  I took it to the sink and thought I’d squeeze even more water out of it.  The white primer oozed over my fingers and palm and felt strangely…oily.  OILY?  AS IN NOT LATEX????????  The running water did nothing to dissipate the primer.  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!  I managed to clean most of my hand and grabbed the can.  EASY CLEANUP was on the main label.  I read the fine print.  Easy cleanup with mineral spirits, said the itty bitty words.  I glanced at the tiny amount of primer I had applied.  A glossy surface glared back at me.  This wasn’t going to work.  AAAAAARRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!
I didn’t *have* mineral spirits… that’d mean finishing all my painting and then cleaning things with gasoline, if it’d work.  If it didn’t clean up well, I’d have to plastic bag my brush and roller and hope they didn’t dry out since I had no replacements.  The glossy surface had me worried too… would it show through my paint as glossy???  That would make all my corners glossy and I wasn’t going to stand for that.
NOW WHAT????
I admit, I admit… I am extremely guilty of saying profane words.
The kind my mom would be ashamed of me for saying.
The kind I should NOT say.  Ever.  But I do.
Because I’m human and I live 47 ^&^%$(&* miles from the store ONE WAY!  AND I WAS JUST THERE THIS MORNING AND NOW I HAVE TWO GALLONS OF THE WRONG STUFF AND I WAS MAD AND I HATE THIS PART ABOUT LIVING OUT HERE, BECAUSE IT ISN’T A 10 MINUTE DRIVE TO HOME DEPOT IT’S AN HOUR DRIVE THERE AND BACK AND I’M MAD!
DID I TELL YOU I WAS MAD??????
Now if I wasn’t so picky, I’d have just put it on and made it work and not let it bother me if my corners were glossy and I would have to throw away my roller if I couldn’t clean it, and, really, Carol, was this such a big deal???
Nope.
No, not really.
Because…
Because…
Brandon was in Worland visiting his honey, sweetie-pie, darling dear… and if I could get home and call him, he could go to Kennedy Ace Hardware which is a GREAT store, with helpful and kind people, that stock their shelves and love their jobs and BRANDON COULD BUY ME THE RIGHT STUFF!
And I’ll return this junk to that worthless lumberyard and get some of my money back…
And though all this rigamarole will put me a day behind on my plan, I’ll feel better.  I promise, I will.  I’ll take pictures too…

Guest Photographer

My youngest son received a digital camera for Christmas.  He took some good photos… so I thought I’d share them with you and give my camera a break.
Today he and his older brother had the job of kicking the cows off of the fence.  We don’t literally “kick” them of course!  I think maybe the term came from doing this on horseback and some unenthusiastic horses need encouragement to wade out there in the snowy wintertime. Either that or just the fact to get a horse or other animal to move sometimes takes physical encouragement.  I don’t know for sure, that’s just my version!
With all these storms running around, the cows decided they’d like to come home for some hay.  Unfortunately for them, there’s a fence, or two, in the way.  They hang on the fence anyway though, hoping it’ll disappear and they can come on in.  There’s still good feed out in the pasture where the wind has blown the snow off of the hills so we’ll make them stay out there as long as we can.  We move them off of the fence and back out to where there’s still grass.
Since the boys have their new toy… that’s what they are using.  Plus one of our older sleds.
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Wow.  If only their great great grandfather could see this… how amazed he’d be!
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Here’s Brandon’s artistic shot… a self-portrait taken as his helmet sits on the snowmachine.
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A great panorama… too bad you can’t see it full sized!
Thanks for helping out, Brandon!
It has been an honor having you as my guest photographer!

Feeding What?

I have always enjoyed identifying birds, tracks, animals, plants, trees… whatever seems to cross my path.  I was VERY frustrated on my cruise last year… asking locals what the names of the trees were and they would simply say, “I don’t know.”  I don’t like that.  I try to know what things are!  Now I may forget, but chances are, at some point, I’ve tried to look it up!  Or like this… I’m confused.
Winters tend to be hard on little songbirds in Wyoming, so I try to help out by feeding them just a little extra.
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Next to Oregon Juncos, these are the most popular birds at my feeder.  I’ve been calling them Cassin’s Finches, because in my bird book… that’s what they look like.  But I double-checked myself before I wrote this… and now I’m not so sure!
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I doesn’t help that I took this photo on a cold day… and they’ve fluffed themselves up to be fatter (and warmer) than usual.
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Upon further inspection… I think these are House Finches.  I disqualified Rosy Finches and Purple Finches.  But I’ve listened to the songs… looked at photos… read about them… and I could STILL be wrong!  Argh.  Any birders out there that can help???  I’d like to know what I’m feeding!
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Whatever it is, it is the top bird in this photo.  In the middle is a juvenile (I think) Pinyon Jay.  (Piñon is how I grew up spelling it.)  On the bottom is an Oregon Junco.  Now I KNOW it is a Piñon Jay, because these huge obnoxious flocking birds appear in winter and can clean out my bird feeder in 15 minutes!  Like I said, they are usually found in flocks.  But this guy is a loner.  Very unusual.  And the flock hasn’t come back since he has arrived.  Usually Piñon Jays send out scouts who then call (they sound like crows with a caw-caw call)  and soon afterwards the entire flock arrives.  Therefore, I only put a limited amount of seed out in my feeder.  That’s why I bought what I thought would be a deterrent feeder with the wire around it… Ha!  Piñon Jays can still reach in and steal the food.  I need to put another cone around it made of chicken wire, to keep them off of it!  But if any birders read this post, I’d like their opinions of this big guy as well.

Flat Light

If you live in snow country, you know what Flat Light is.  It is the inability to distinguish depth because the light is flat and doesn’t reflect normally in order for your eyes to perceive contrast and shadows.  Flat Light comes with cloudy skies, snow falling, and snow on the ground.  Watch ski races, and they will paint the bumps blue or yellow.  They do that to help the racer in flat light not wipe out and kill themselves!  You know what you get when you get Flat Light here?  You get stuck in snow drifts!  Which is what happened to Daniel and I as we went to the Mills Place.  Yes, it has been snowing.  Yes, it has been WINDY!  And as we turned off the highway to go the 80 yards to the house I drove right into a big drift across the road, which neither of us saw in advance.  We spent the next 20-30 minutes digging out.  Daniel successfully drove the Durango down to the house, turned around, drove back through the ruts, bogging down a bit, but then making it to the highway where we parked it until we were done.  We went home for lunch.  We then returned 1.5-2 hours later.  For the most part our ruts were drifted back in.
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This hangs on the gate at the Mills Place.  I love it, but it has occurred to me to buy one that has an English Shepherd on it instead.  I’m not planning on getting a milk cow.  But the Mills had one.  This sign has been there forever.  Well, OK, a long time.  To the left of this is the cattle guard where we drive down to the house.  About the second post from the end is the drift.  See it???  Yeah, well, neither did I.
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There goes Daniel.  My camera wouldn’t focus on anything at first.  Too much snow falling and Flat Light to do its job.
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Daniel is standing where you should have seen our right tire rut.   It was all filled in in two hours!  wow.
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The left side of my Durango was here.  Notice he’s pointing it out for you.  Like you couldn’t figure that out.  He’s so helpful, my son.  I love him.  He dug out my car.  And didn’t complain.  And he hiked to the shop to get a shovel.  Because I don’t carry one in my Durango.  I think he called me Miss-Safety-Who-Doesn’t-Have-a-Shovel-in-Her-Car, or some sarcastic moniker like that.  But for all his hysterical sarcasm, he’s a sweetheart, and I even cooked him lunch for digging me out.  What a thoughtful mother I am!  Notice the snowflakes that are falling sideways in this photo.  That’s why he’s squinting.  Because I made him pose in the middle of a blizzard.  What a kind mother I am.  At least I made him stop sticking his tongue out.  Like I wouldn’t notice, Daniel!  Shees!  Some things you can still see even in Flat Light!