Welcome to the Lazy Dog Ranch!

We hope you will find inspiration, information and most of all humor as we share our adventures in advancing a more sustainable lifestyle in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Searching for Signs of Spring

FINALLY!   the sun is out, the sky is blue, the snow is melting and I found a much needed sign of Spring!

Today I awakened in a despondant mood.  Stressed about the ongoing human drama amongst employees during a rough work week- I found it difficult to force myself into "weekend mode".  My cantankerous attitude drove my poor husband into the garage for solace.  While moping inside I had an epiphany- " It is only my own self that is allowing worries in the workplace to rob my happiness of this day.  I can't do anything until Monday so why am I worrying? " 

So I reached deep, found my inner Scarlett O'Hara, and decided  "I'll think about that tomorrow" .  I  grabbed the camera and forced myself outside, away from the looming paperwork, politics and crap we all have to deal with from time to time.

What did I find?  CROCUSES!  An tiny but to me a very monumental sign of spring after a very rough winter here in Haywood County.

So now I find myself thinking- "Work crap be damned- this is my weekend off and why am I allowing myself to be miserable?"

Nature has a way of helping me gain perspective.  In that little crocus is the hope that I planted last fall- the reminder that time marches on, that in spite of adversity (be it weather or difficult people) that the sun will shine again, things will warm, and flowers will bloom.

Perhaps it is why so many of us garden?  Nature does not grant us constancy in that everything we plant will grow- but allows us to hope that at least something will rise to bloom.  Each Spring will bring the promise of new life- in every faith, in every religion literally springs hope at this transition of seasons.

So with that nature reality check I lift my  face to the sun and give thanks that the cold winter is nearing an end and that no matter what the adversity that " this too shall pass"  

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thou shalt not question the Almanac!

March 2nd dawns with a thin skin of snow on the driveway.  We get the morning chores done, watch the weather and head into work as we never get what they are predicting- this morning "2-4 inches and the snow will wrap up mid morning"

HAH!  By noon offices are closed down as the snow continues to dump - it is possibly the Big Snow the Old Timers have been predicting- according to their almanacs.  I get home and check my Almanac- sure enough- we are off by a day- Snow.  It is a sobering  fact when you can now relate to how weather predictions are made by the rheumatism....

Karl trudges off across our neighbors pasture to hay the horses and I take Daisy down to chicken coop to gather eggs and supplement the feed.  Anyone who does not understand the colorful term "Mad as an ole wet hen" needs to come visit my girls when they are cold and wet from snow.  If a chicken can look pissed - they fit the bill.  All the veggie and fruit scraps will not make up for their discomfort.  They peck a litttle, fluff their wet feathers and huff back into the chicken coop- full of commentary on the weather.

Mom, who lives next door-  bade me over to take her little dog Rupert out for a run and I was rewarded with a cup of home-made hot cocoa! MMMMM.  It brought back memories of the snow days of yore.  However I am no longer motivated to stay out and play until frostbitten.

Daisy and I trudge back home and fill the bird feeders. The Robins are back in flocks - apparently, THEY did not read the almanac and have come back too soon as spring is not ready.

I have to have to check myself from grumbling about more snow.  It was just last winter we were in terrible drought.  While the pendulum has swung to oversaturation, the earth is now replenished and perhaps we will have some nice crops this year. 

The snow causes me to slow down- I put Daisy inside to nap by the fire.  I make a hot cup of tea, sprinkle some birdseed on the porch rails and settle in my rocker in the cold to watch the chickadees and listen .....
Soft chirps and quiet snowfall are a balm to the soul.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Chick-n-Vaseline and Dogs-r-Disgustin 1/3/2010

The day dawned COLD 12 degrees F. Apparently, we are in a cold snap and will not go above freezing before Tuesday – worst cold snap here in 70 years. It is so nice to have a heat pump! (haha) Can’t get the inside temperature over 63 degrees.

This morning Karl and I bundled up in our Carharrt Onesies, coats and headed out to GREASE THE LADIES. For you Chicken Neophytes- Heavy Breeds actually do well in the cold- but their combs, waddles and sometimes feet can be prone to frostbite. Coating the combs in Vaseline helps conserve heat and so this morning the ladies were greeted with a tag team- Karl- Grasp -Shannon- Grease routine until all combs, waddles and feet were coated. The ladies strutted around with gooey, shiny combs with feathers and straw stuck to their sticky feet in the morning cold.

After morning chores, the day was spent inside in warm clothing as the heat pump don’t work too well below 32 degrees.

For those of you who have dogs- I am sure you too are continually amazed at their disgusting habits. The constant licking of nether regions, poop eating...

Those of you who have Great Danes – or other floppy - lipped varietes can also identify with their ability to HIDE disgusting items in the mouth UNTIL they can come in the house and enjoy the fruits of their forays.

Daisy- our Dane – stays inside if the temps drop below 32 degrees –she has managed to convince us she will freeze to death inside the insulated dog run. After our evening walk to close the coop, she pranced in the house and to the rug where she proceeded to play. I thought with her new Christmas rope bone. When I went to sit and watch the news- imagine my horror when I found out her new ‘’toy” was a frozen RABBIT HEAD.

Coop Fortification 1/2/10


We have deemed 2010 The Year of the Red-Tail Hawk. (not sure what the Chinese restaurant placemats say) Today mom called and said “that hawk is back out there perched on the big plastic owl !” “Do you mean the plastic owl that we put out there to scare the hawks away?” Sure enough there he was! Luckily we had not let the ladies out – and he stayed there long enough for us to shoot a few grainy photos through the upstairs window.

So on this cold, windy, first day of the New Year, out goes Karl (my husband and resident Appalachian engineer) to further fortify our ‘fowl fort’.. Tomorrow will tell if the reinforcements and pie tins fluttering in the wind will work.

Carnage at the Chicken Coop! 12/31/09

Our ladies have enjoyed 4 years of relative ease at the Lazy Dog Ranch. We have lost a few to mysterious means and one to an errant dog- but none so graphic as what awaited me at the coop today.

I arrived home early this afternoon and noted when walking in the door that the chickens were not clamoring at the chicken yard door to get out and run. I peered down the hill into the orchard to confirm that Karl had opened the coop – door was open.

As I made my way down to the orchard to let the ladies out- it was apparent something was very, very wrong. I called the girls and they ran en masse with Peggy quacking in fear. I let the ladies out – well some of them and then in the far corner of the run encountered the source of their fear. Trapped in bird netting we use to cover the run was a HUGE red tail hawk.

After muttering some loud explicative I let the ladies out did a count- and saw no carcasses in the run. Damn! Two hens down. I went around to the coop and shut the run hatch- trapping the hawk outside in the run and then went around and opened the coop door.

It looked like a chicken exploded inside the coop. One of my Barred Rocks was no more, Another Comet was plastered in the back of her nest box keeping a low profile and not moving. The hawk had come into the coop to eat his meal.

I went back to the yard- by this time the hawk was out of the netting and hopping around the enclosure. He appeared trapped and I marveled at his size and beauty

Welcome to our Blog

I FINALLY took the time to sit down on this dreary last day of Feb. 2010 to make our blog page. It seems we have been "blogging" a long time- sharing our stories with friends around the dinner table, the pickin' circle and by all the digital media we use today.

Many of our friends and family think we are a little nuts for our efforts to "homestead" . While we are far from the complete sustanability that was possible in my Grandma Pennell's time ( she is my muse ), there is a certain amout of pride in collecting our own eggs, raising our own maters and enjoying the sunset around a campfire with dear friends.

In our 6 1/2 years in Haywood County, we have met more like-minded folk who have been inspirations, mentors and most importantly - friends.

While we have failed at many of our efforts- there is satisfaction in knowing that we have tried in some small way to lessen our impact on the environment.