Monday, May 24, 2021

The Trials, Tribulations and Successes of Puppy Training

 It has been almost 7 weeks since Zoey came into our lives. Getting a puppy can be as joyful as it can be frustrating. Zoey would be our 7th puppy in our 35 year marriage. We have never had the same breed twice; a Basset Hound (Daisy), a Springer Spaniel (Jake), a Chesapeake (Packer), Golden Retriever (Bailey), Mini Beagle (Cinders), a Mini Dachshund (Mario) and of course our beloved Puggle, Daisy Mae and our Lab, Dakota.   All but 2 of these we got as puppies and had the pleasure of going through the dreaded puppy stage of their lives.

We have had varying success throughout the years and can make a couple of quick observations based on our experiences. The first two that come to mind are; big dogs are easier than little dog and females are easier than males.  Our hardest puppy by far was a double whammy, our male Mini Dachshund named Mario. I swear that dog had a screw loose! He would never listened and peed everywhere. Two of his favorite places to pee were my briefcase and my pillow and he would do it while staring at me like a challenge. He was walk up to my briefcase, turn around to make sure I was looking, lock eyes with me and lift his leg.  Frustrating!

Having gone through the puppy stage with 6 others, we were not looking forward to it but felt we were prepared. So how is it going? So far so good. Zoey is far from house broken and we cannot leave her uncrated when we leave but so far I would rank her in the top 3 just below the other two big dog breeds.

So far she has only tried to chew on the couch once. Barb scolded her, she has not tried since. We provide her with plenty of chew toys and she seems content with those and so far has not chewed on anything she shouldn’t.

Potty training is an ongoing battle. Well, I would not classify it as a battle but more of a journey. We take her out every couple of hours, maybe a little more and watch her like a hawk. We have a baby gate on across the hallway so she is confined to the living room/kitchen area. Luckily she is a dog that likes to hide when so goes so anytime she intentionally walks out of our sight we are on it. Before we had the baby gate up she would go into the laundry room and do her thing, now that we have the gate up, she tries to hide behind the couch.

Even with all that, there is probably one accident a day when she sneaks back there when we are not looking. Now this week, she walks to the door and lets us know she needs to go out. We cannot hesitate however as she only give us like a 15 second warning before she squats and goes right next to the door. At night, she will last anywhere from 4-6 hours before she gets up and starts stirring. She peed in the bed once early on but nothing since. We have left her in her crate for up to 4 hours and very rarely has an accident in her crate. The great thing is that she is perfectly content in her crate and does not whine or scratch to get out. 

Oh, she can be a rascal. She loves to find Barb's slippers and shake them like they are a wild animal and one time when Barb was in the kitchen she turned around to see Zoey help clean the dishes!

As far as socialization with other dogs goes she is doing great! She and Dakota are becoming best buds and she has met three other dogs on play dates. Speaking of playing, here are a couple of short videos of Zoey and Dakota playing....

Zoey loves going for walks and keeps up with Dakota with her tiny little legs. But when she gets home she is ready to lay back and relax.

Another one of her pass times is watching the deer and birds outside the window.
Their ears are about the same size!

All in all, that is not too bad compared to other dogs we have had. So what do we attribute this initial success to? Well, three things…one is luck. You just never know when you are going to get a puppy with a loose screw and it seems we dodged that bullet. The second we attribute to the love, care and attention Foster Lake Frenchies gives to their pups. Zoey had been loved and socialized at an early age and as a result was not afraid of anything and has adapted into our family seamlessly. And lastly, it is the time and love we have been able to give her here at home. It is still early, but so far so good!

On to the nondog related news, we had visitors this week when Guy and Sue stopped by for a visit! The picture did not turn out very well but I assure you that is them live, and in person!

They brought Lacilou and Teddy with them. Lacilou, who is 11 was not impressed by Zoey but Teddy loved to run around and play with her! If you look closely, you can see Lacilou and Teddy peeking out of the bed on the left side of Sue. 

Teddy and Lacilou snuggled up 

At a combined weight of probably less than 10lbs I think Zoey already outweighs them combined! Guy and Sue are staying in the area this summer so hopefully we will be able to get together with them again in the next couple of months. 

The weather here this past week has been wet, foggy and cooler. I think it rained almost every day. Our pond went from bone dry to this in just a couple of days…

Zoey overlooking the pond

The day after the pond got water the frogs started singing! Curious, I went on line to see how long frogs can lay dormant in the dirt waiting for moisture. Some can lay in the mud for years waiting wait to bring them back to life. Truly amazing!

And the food plots already are sprouting!

The girls checking out the food plot

On the work front we spent most of the week at Kevin and Cheryl’s getting ready for their inspection on Tuesday. We got the siding done on Thursday and moved on to smaller jobs inside the house. Putting in doors, trim and the kitchen cabinets. It was a push with Kevin working some very long hours but by Monday afternoon they were ready for their inspection! Here are some pictures of the finished product….

Living room


Dining Room


Bath and Shower

Loft Area

It has been a lot of work but Barb and I are happy that we were able to be there for our friends and got several good ideas on how we want to finish our house. With some friends arriving tomorrow and the the Memorial Day weekend just around the corner, it is time for some fun!

Sunday, May 16, 2021

First Week Back in South Dakota!

Pulling out of the driveway at The Farm bright and early Sunday morning was bittersweet. I felt like I was leaving with so much work undone yet I missed Barb and the girls as well. But with no rain in the forecast it would be a while until they started planting again. Or would it? Two days after I left they were back in the fields planting like crazy! Did they get any rain? Nope. They only thing different is that I was gone. So it makes one wonder…was the whole “We are going to wait until we get moisture” thing was just a ploy to get rid of me or had plans changed? I may never know……

On the way south I had two more examples of You Know You Live in the Country When….. The first was just mere minutes after getting on the road when I had to pull over and take this picture. Sights like this only happen in the country.

The second was as I was going through a small town along the way. When I saw this sign posted at a campground I just had to stop and take a picture of it!

Some things you just cannot make up!

The following day was a big day and one that Barb had been looking forward to for quite some time. Her cousin Lori from Alaska was coming to visit! Lori and her husband Jim had flown from Fairbanks to Denver to attend their son’s graduation from law school in Laramie, Wyoming. They planned their trip so they could come visit us as well!

Barb, Lori and Jim

We had not seen them since we were in Alaska in 2016 so a visit was long overdue! They arrived Monday afternoon and left Wednesday morning. Lori had one thing on her bucket list for her trip to the area….A visit to Wall Drug! As exciting as that sounds Jim and I decided to stay back and let Barb and Lori have all the fun, and fun they had!

Some kind old lady offered to take their picture on one of the statues. Next thing you knew, they were dragging this poor lady around Wall Drug having her take their picture everywhere! She probably ran to her car when she was done regretting ever offering in the first place!

Ride that Jackalope!

Creepy Bunny!

All too soon it was Wednesday morning and they were on their way to Laramie to attend the graduation.

We spent the rest of the week over at Kevin and Cheryl’s in a final push to get everything done over at their place. It was all hands on deck as Dan, Bonnie, Barb and I were over there as often as possible to get things done. We spent most of our time on the siding but lots of other things were getting done as well. For a full view of the progress check out their Facebook page here….

Kevin and Dan had gotten the stone done the week before, now it was time to work on the siding. We already have this entire side done but have not updated the pictures.

Barb and I got one project done at our place this week. That was the planting of two food plots for the deer. Using some seed I got from the farm I tilled the ground in two areas and planted soy beans, peas and wheat.

I have no idea if it will grow but it is something I have wanted to try for a couple of years now.

We also made a final decision on our flooring throughout the entire main floor. This was a painful and tedious process.  Barb literally brought home a dozen or more samples, moving them around the house to see how they would look against the rock, the cabinets, the pine walls, morning light, day light, evening light.... you name it. None of these samples made the cut, you will have to wait and see what we actually did pick when we get it installed!

 And finally the pictures you have all been waiting for, a couple pictures of Zoey and Dakota! Zoey had a great week and had a playdate with our neighbors Jim and Carmen's dog Cooper. They were zooming around so much we were not able to get any pictures but once she got home she was zonked out!

Dakota and Zoey are playing constantly, and when they are not playing they are relaxing on one of the many beds scattered throughout the house. This is one of my favorites!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

You Know you Live in the Country When…..

As some of you may recall, I am the reigning employee of the year here at Finken Farms. Such an honor comes with a lot of perks that I am taking full advantage of. 

For example, every once in a while Bob will buy donuts for everyone and they will let me have 4th choice after Bob, Chris and Dylan! And sometimes they let me ride in the cab of the truck when we go out to the field! Well, that is if Dylan’s dog Nova is not already in the back seat. Yup, being reigning employee of the year certainly has its perks!

Farm life continues this week with lots of field work. Most of my week was spent rolling and moving trucks around. Rolling gives you a lot of time to look around, contemplate life and listen to the radio. With guidance turned on in the tractor I just need to set up a course, get the tractor up to speed and push the guidance button. I can then take my hands off the wheel until I get to the end of the field where I turn around and do it all over again, and again, and again, and again……If I had to guess, I would say about 16+ hours of rolling this week.

With all this time to look around I was able to make a few observations about living in the country compared to say, the city or even the suburbs. So I added to my ongoing list of items that…. You Know you Live in the Country When….
  • Many of the intersections are uncontrolled. Meaning they have no signs telling the driver to yield, stop or anything else. But no one seems to get in an accident or even confused when two cars meet at the intersection.
  • The radio station you are listening to (on AM of course) lists all the birthdays, anniversaries and obituaries for the day.
  • You don’t think twice when the same radio station has dead air for 5-10 minutes and don’t even change the station.
  • When someone actually drives the speed limit you wonder why they are in such a hurry!
  • You take your puppy to the vet for their second set of puppy shots and a nail trim and you walk out with change from $40.
  • The neighbor gets a “new” truck and it is still almost as old as you!
  • You just change lanes and don’t even slow down for a cow in the road (well, you were only going 30mph to begin with).

A lot of those actually happened this week. I just don’t know how people can live in the city. And city folk don’t know how we can live in the country. Thank goodness we are not all alike! In fact, Zoey (I actually started to write Daisy and had to backspace) had her puppy checkup, her second set of shots and a nail trim this week. Total cost: $38. Tell me you can find that in the city! She gained a little over 3#’s since we picked her up.

She and Dakota have totally bonded now and Dakota is even playing with her, not just dragging her around!

Zoey also met another friend this week when Cheryl brought over her Rottweiler puppy Liesl. Those two played and ran around the house like crazy!

On a totally different subject Barb and I have been looking at ways to save our blogs in a format that will ensure we have them should blogger ever disappear. I had started copying them and saving them as pdf’s but that is cumbersome and I really do not like the look of it. Plus, you still had to go onto the computer if you physically want to look them up. I like the idea of saving them for two reasons: one is it serves as memories and a journal for us to remember things and two in the hopes that someday our grandkids will read them and get a kick out of what the grand-folks did back in the day. Well, Barb stumbled on a service the other day call Blog2print and I was wondering if anyone else has tried it. It is a service that converts your blogs into a book format that can either be saved electronically or in an actual book (or both) with minimal work. We have played with it and think we are going to try it in the physical book form to see how we like it. Not to sell, or even give away, just one copy for ourselves to page through when we are old and gray(er). We are starting with one year to see how we like it and will pass on our thoughts.

We had some guests here at the farm this week! Bob and Sue (Chris’ parents) came up for a few days and Bob’s brother Dan and his wife Jeanie who have a place about an hour away stopped by for a visit as well. We took an afternoon off and cooked some burgers on the grill. We only get to see them a time or three a year so it was good to see everyone and visit.

Barb was busy herself back at home. We had carpet installed in the upstairs bedroom and loft area. It is nice to finally have some type of flooring in other than plywood and concrete!

She also got together with Kevin, Cheryl, Dan and Bonnie to celebrate Dan’s birthday! They of course went to the Pringle Bar where Dan had to get his picture taken with the tiara and scepter. Now everyone has had their turn this year with their birthdays at the Pringle Bar…although Barb’s was probably the funniest and we were not even there!

So that is this week’s update from the country where the living seems so much more enjoyable and simpler. Unless, they put in a roundabout…. Then all hell breaks loose! Our friend Greg shared this on Facebook and I just had to share it!

Oh wait, one last late addition, I got word late today that they could not plant anymore until they get some moisture which does not show up in the 10 day forecast, so this farm boy is headed south tomorrow morning! Thanks Bob, DeAnne, Chris, Holly and Dylan for everything, see you in the fall!

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Good Old Days...

 Ah, the good old days, living life without a care in the world. Having someone feed you, cloth you, clean up after you, make all your decisions for the day…. That is the life of Zoey. That epiphany dawned on me the other day as I watched Zoey in the grass chasing a butterfly without a care in the world. I guess the more I think about it my life is not that dissimilar to Zoey except for the carefree part. I have even been known to get distracted and chase an imaginary butterfly (and squirrels) or two. If I were ever to lose Barb I would be in a world of hurt. Sadly, I am losing Barb in a Monday as she takes both of the dogs with her back to South Dakota.

 Speaking of Barb, she made one comment this week that really got me thinking. Back in our working days we had goal dates of when we were going to retire and Barb hit one of those goal dates last month when she turned 62. We used to get these retirement statements from work show how much our pensions would be worth at 55, 62, and so on. The longer you wait, the more you get. Barb’s was quite a bit more if she waited until 62 but she retired at 55 and never regretted it. The thought of working the last 7 years is almost unfathomable. Although we enjoyed our jobs and the people we worked with, the adventures, time together and people we met are worth more than the extra money we would have made.

In a way, I envy the people who are hitting the road this year. When I read blogs or talk to people who are just starting their adventures I see the excitement and sense of wonderment in their eyes and actions. Although we still love traveling and look forward to our upcoming adventures, that initial excitement of going on the road has been long gone. We feel the same way with people who are now building a house, we would just get giddy when we turn the corner to go onto our road to return to our new property thinking about and then actually building our house. That giddy feeling is gone and has been replaced with a warm comforting feeling knowing we are home.

So what if we had waited the 7 more years and left the road amid the pandemic? The world of traveling and the world itself has changed a lot in that time. We certainly would not have met the friends we met, our property would have long been sold and the prices of land out there have almost doubled so we could have never afforded the property we got. Plus, there are thousands of new RV’ers competing for campsites and crowding tourist attractions.

No, we have absolutely no regrets retiring early and leaving that extra money behind. My advice to anyone out there is to do the analysis and figure out how to retire as early as possible and enjoy life.

Zoey continues to entertain us with her antics everyday. Discovering her new world, making friends and yes, chasing the occasional butterfly. Here are a few pictures of her life this week.....

She went for her first 4 wheeler ride!

Doesn't Dakota look thrilled to be sharing her bed with Zoey?!?!?

She met her first cat friend.... 

The cat (Cheetah) love playing with her and will even somehow get between the cab of the truck and the camper window so they can play through the glass.

We put her bed in her crate and now she sleeps in there (during the day) with the door open. I even left her alone in the camper while I was working outside for 30 minutes. When I came back she was sound asleep in her crate.

Zoey continues to annoy the hell out of Dakota but Dakota is putting up with it more and more. Dakota has resigned herself to the world of her life with a puppy and now lets Zoey pull on her lips and ears giving an occasional growl when she pulls too hard. 

Here are a couple of short videos of Zoey annoying Dakota, one with her playing with a ball and one of Dakota taking Zoey for a walk. 

With a little over 2,500 acres in, we are a little over 1/2 way done with planting. The peas are in, the wheat is in and we have now switched to Canola which there is 1,100 acres of. Chris is planting things a little deeper so when the seed germinates it will sit dormant under the soil until the next rain, when it will sprout above the surface and have a better chance of growing in these drought conditions. At least that is the hope!

I got out and rolled the 220 acres peas the other day. I equated this to dragging a 51' kitchen rolling pin behind the tractor to compact the soil, capturing what moisture there is and push all the rocks back down into the ground. 

Other than that I have been busy hauling seed and fertilizer then helping Chris fill the drill cart.

We have been working on taking down another old fence in our spare time, this one is again about 1/2 mile long and is a combination of barbed wire and woven wire. The barbed wire I just need to roll up with the fence wheel after detaching it from the posts. 

Wire roller makes quick work of pulling in old barbed wire

The woven wire we need to roll up by hand.

Our adventures for the week included me going to Bismarck to get a bell with Bob. This one was 28" and was an absolute pig to move. Bob and I could carry it about 5' before we had to rest so it took a while to get it to a concrete area where we could put it on a cart and roll it to the truck
Bob rigging up the carrying pole
But once we got it to the truck we had to lift it into the bed!

Do you ever wonder how many people you can fit into an 11 1/2 foot camper? Well, we know it is at least 7 (and 2 dogs) as we all gathered in there the other day before going to supper in Minot.