Ignite Your Tank

It has been two years since we said good-bye to our remaining beloved dog,14.5 yr old Sam. It took us a long time to feel ready to open our hearts to another. Now that the chaos of a big move is over, we feel ready in more ways then one.  

Throughout the past two years we've had plenty of joy that only canine companions can offer. You may have noticed through shared photos that our grand dogs Remi (Bernaise Mountain Dog) and Jameson (black Lab) spend significant time with us. Especially Jameson, who grew up in our home. His mom is so busy, that he still lives with us most of the time. However, when we find ourselves dog-less we feel a huge void. Especially me. I get downright lonely, and feel safer with dogs around. To put it simply, I believe life is better with dogs!!

I've had mixed breeds, heinz 57, mutt's or as they are affectionately called now - rescues - my whole life. Even as a child. I began the arduous search to find the right young dog to adopt. I was looking for my favorite breed mix, a Labrador Retriever or German Shepherd. There are sooo many animals who need a home. Two common breeds, sounds easy right? Wrong!!

I applied to a local guide dog organization, because many dogs have career changes. I got a "we will keep you in mind" response...nothing more or less. One of their trainers was our reference, which apparently didn't make a difference.

I looked into a Labrador breed rescue, but they require a fenced yard. No exceptions. Say what?! I get it, but some of us dog owners are responsible off-leash owners. Something I feel firmly about. I didn't even bother applying.

I payed money to apply to a really good local rescue, who did nothing wrong. Unfortunately, the dog I applied for got adopted before we got close to getting through the lengthy process. 

The adoption process these days includes a vet & two personal references, a home visit and then board approval. We did get approved, but that is as far as we got. I have yet to see another dog similar to what I was looking for, without Plott Hound mixed into it. We had never heard of a Plott HoundI learned our area rescue's bring all their dogs up from down south. Plott Hounds are the State dog of Louisiana. I have no doubt they are wonderful dogs, but hounds are not for me. The remaining adoption process would have included requesting to adopt a chosen dog, and visiting the foster families home if selected as a potential match. If still interested in adopting after going to meet the dog, and waiting for a grace period, the foster family approves you for adoption (or not). Wow, adoption sure has changed!! 

I applied at another rescue after finding a litter of lab mix puppies, two weeks before they were brought up from Texas. I heard crickets. I followed up knowing the lengthy process we had to go through again. They hadn't even contacted my references. Only after my phone call did they contact our vet. Once again I heard nothing. Our personal references were never contacted, and yet I saw a couple of the puppies from that litter posted repeatedly on Facebook as "still needing homes" weeks after they arrived and I applied. Grrr!! I guess we weren't the right kind of owners (roll eyes)...and this is where I gave up on *trying* to adopt. 

After my experiences, I am left with the feeling that "Adopt Don't Shop" is pretty much the same damn thing as selecting a breed dog. A little less expensive (adoption prices ranged from $375-$475) with a whole lot of headache & disappointment. Of course I know the difference between the two, but IMO you are still "shopping" and let me tell you, rescue organizations, including humane societies, make it close to impossible to adopt!!! 

I decided to try something different and was in contact with a couple recommended lab breeders. With one the pups were all spoken for, another litter didn't take. I had all but given up on owning a dog. 

We recently attended a banquet, and found myself sitting next to a hunting guide. She guides for Brad, and he really likes her dogs. She contacted her dogs breeder, who happened to have one last pup looking for a home. In a matter of minutes, she found us a potential dog!

The puppy was 3.5 hours north of us. It took us a couple weeks to go see him. First the weather prevented travel and then Brad had back issues. I really wanted Brad to be part of the decision. The breeder held the pup for us, without commitment or deposit. Neither one of us can figure out why the not so little guy was left for last. She thought he would be the first to go, because of his color. It is lighter then most yellow labs. We fell in love with him instantly! He is not only a handsome fellow, but extremely sweet and smart. We met his brother, who was sold but staying at the breeders for training. We both agreed that we would have chosen our guy before his litter mate. 

He was given the name Tank. It seems to fit him, so we kept it. I know it's a bit out of the norm, but we registered his official name as "Ignite Your Tank"...here is our new boy:

10 weeks
Photo we received at banquet from breeder

First day home
Tank 12 wks & Jameson 6yrs

We are all adjusting to our new lives together. Tank is keeping us more then busy, as all puppies do. With the turn of events, we believe he was meant for us. Tank has stolen our hearts!! 


ring around the feeder

The long awaited day finally arrived, our feeder is here! Just in time for our winter March storms. No more hauling bales down to the pasture one by one, yippee!!!! But first, Brad had to put it together. The feeder shipped in pieces. I didn't catch the beginning of the build. He put it together by himself. Thankfully our friend bob(cat) did the heavy lifting.

securing the roof

side panel swings wide open
for convenient loading

hauling the feeder across the field
to the lower gate, because the one by the barn
has too much snow built up and it's icy

Our new feeder is heavy, solid and very well made. So far we are very happy with it, and more importantly the horses are happy too!! It was well worth the wait! 

We plan to get an orange slow feed net for large square bales at Midwest Horse Fair in April. If Spring ever arrives, we will also add mats to help keep the feeder level and keep loose hay off our sandy soil.

Here is a 2 minute video of our horses first time playing "ring around the feeder"...


reality check

In the midst of doing our dreaded weekly multi store grocery shopping, Brad called. He was home early from work. That was odd. Found out his back locked up. He couldn't bend at all, and had no clue why/what caused it. Oh boy!! It's been years, but last time this happened to him he was completely out of commission. I opted out of non-essential shopping and made the long 45 minute drive home. I found him on the couch, where he pretty much stayed for 3-4 looong days. Other then Urgent Care & bathroom breaks. Extremely unusual for my hard working guy.

I made what felt like 100 rushed trips carrying groceries in, put perishables away and promptly went to bring horses in by myself. I was on forward march. It was later then usual, dark and cold out. Neither of our boys like being brought in last. I usually bring one in and Brad grabs the other two. I don't care for squeezing two horses and myself through a human sized door maze in the Winter. I either bring them in one at a time, or open the sliding door (brrrr!) in the order of whomever is waiting at the gate. 

After our boys bucking craze simmered, I brought in Koda. Then Harmony, which made Nemo mad! I took his girl without him, and his human was MIA!! More antics. I stood patiently at the gate and talked to Nemo, until he decided to be the horse I needed him to be. Calm. The rest of the time Brad was flat on his back, turn-in/out went smooth. Horses seem to figure things out pretty quickly. They were good as gold for me and came in one by one, without throwing tantrums. It's almost like they knew... What a difference it makes to take one person out of the routine! I know you are all thinking three horses, big deal. Well, it is for me!!

Winter mornings chores go something like this: grain, haul 1-2 bales down to the pasture (the feeder can arrive any day now...), turn-out, pick stalls, wheel barrel to bobcat, dump and attempt to not miss bucket (ha!) unplug & start frozen bobcat, do houdini moves getting in/out while dressed in layers, hoping I don't face-plant while balancing on icy metal edges, yelling at asking grand dogs to stop eating every frozen horse turd on earth, temporarily warm up in saloon, put dogs in stall/saloon (cuz dogs & bobcats don't mix) while hauling to pile. I am sooo thankful for the bobcat from Brad's work, we get to use it seasonally. Then I try to not get stuck on the ice and snow, do more houdini moves, haul more hay over to fill hay bags, oops forgot knife (another trip), haul step stool to each stall (cuz I'm too damn short & it's the only way I can hang heavy hay bags with my injured shoulder) attempt to not get hay all over me (always), refresh waterers, sprinkle PDZ (LOVE that stuff, thanks Arline!!) haul bags of shavings when needed, oops forgot knife again (trip #999) fluff stalls, somewhere along the way I let the dogs out so I can say "get out" 100 more times, get two brooms and one shovel, sweep aisle around two dogs, put everything away and head into house to drop for breakfast 'er early lunch, and thaw my toes.

Did I mention we had two snow storms during this time? Well, we did. Add shoveling two large porches, and front of garage to the above. It made for long days. I also attempted to plow with the bobcat for the first time ever. It went okay, but I was very thankful when our son came out to help us. Love that kid! He did the majority of plowing our very long driveway & paths!!

Nobody plans on caring for a homestead alone, at least not this girl!!! Talk about a reality check...I think I said "no more horses" every single day Brad was down & out. 

I truly love my life and wouldn't trade it for the world, however no one is more thrilled then me to say Brad is back at it. His back is not 100%, but getting better every day. Whew!!!

winter pastures