Nature Friday ~ July 3, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. For uprights in the U.S. we’re entering a long, July 4th holiday weekend. Due to COVID cases spiking throughout much of the country, it may be a very different kind of Fourth than usual (though we have our paws crossed it means less fireworks which both dogs detest but we’re not holding our breath). Anyway, let’s check out Nature’s finery around the city.

Nature FridayDespite temps in the 90’s again all week long and for the foreseeable forecast, you’d think I’d plan running errands a little bit better by doing them early in the day, but you’d probably be wrong. Yesterday afternoon I needed to get something out in the mail missing the early mail drop so I had to walk over to the nearby Post Office. As I got closer, I kept hearing a strange bird making a ruckus but couldn’t figure out from where it was coming but lo and behold, I stumbled upon this fella bathing in a puddle of runoff water. Wha….wait, what the heck is that?!

Hawk

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Seeing red-tailed hawks (which is what I think this guy is) in the city isn’t a frequent occurrence, at least not in my neighborhood. I stopped to watch him bathe and sip some water. Slowly I moved a closer being  careful as to not startle him. That noisy bird I heard must have been part of his security detail and was on the overhead powerline I soon discovered.

Hawk

Cropping this photo pixelated it but I think you can see a fairly decent profile. Isn’t he something special? Last week the dogs and I were treated to raccoons and rabbits and now this week, a hawk. Pretty amazing considering the ‘Ranch’ is just a couple of miles from downtown Denver’s central business district.

On the way back from the Post Office I came across this garden beauty, Kniphofia, often called Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker. That last moniker seems to describe the weather…hot! And since it is frequently windy, it’s very dry. Fifty-six percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, while 68% of Colorado is experiencing at least moderate drought. With the majority of the snowmelt gone, it’s clear that it will be a rough summer. We can only hope monsoons will arrive later this month to help in the short term.

Flowers

The Ranch Hands and I hope you will be able to enjoy some nature this weekend and enjoy a happy and safe ‘howliday.’

Norman

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

In Purrsuit of Flavors ~ July 2020

Purrsuit of FlavorsWe’re back today for the July edition of Blogville’s recipe share, “In Purrsuit of Flavour” with today’s selection being ‘your favorite summer dish’ and joining our hosts, the Weim boys over at Easy Rider and those great chef cats over at Canadian Cats. Truth be told my favorite summer dish is anything someone else cooks. I pretty much loathe cooking in general and the last thing I want to do is fire up the kitchen in summer and then spend loads of time cleaning it up afterwards but one should probably not live on cake and wine alone. #Sigh

Recently my sister shared a recipe with our family that is simple and easy to fix. Because its main ingredient is pasta, it may be more suitable for cooler temps, but it’s easy to throw together [heavy emphasis on the throw part]. Like all my shared recipes, there are ‘optionals’ to suit everyone’s taste or whatever is in your pantry. Martha Stewart no doubt despises cooks like me with our devil-may-care attitude but I’m more of a this-and-that kind of gal and work with what’s on hand. Yo, Martha…it’s called adaptation and that makes sense these days. Anyway, this recipe is one of those “dump” recipes where all the ingredients get dumped into a dish, then baked and served in the same dish. It’s perfect for serving a large crowd and easy to clean up afterwards.

Purrsuit of FlavoursOk, cooks…let’s get started making a batch of “Firehouse Spaghetti.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground meat (may be omitted for us pesky vegetarians)
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • Minced garlic (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 jars (5 oz. size) Old English Cheese (a processed cheese product found near the Chees Whiz and comes in small jars)
  • 12 oz. spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Optional: Parmesan or shredded cheddar if desired on top (Parmesan is never optional at the Ranch but feel free to do your thing)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray. Brown ground meat with garlic and onions in large skillet. Drain fat and return to skillet. Set aside while you prepare noodles according to package instructions. At this point, I recommend opening a nice bottle of wine to drink when assembling breathe. Drain noodles (reserve some liquid in case you need to thin when assembling all ingredients). Add Rotel, cheese, and soup to meat mixture, heat over medium-low heat just to melt the cheese and soup. Pour meat mixture over the cooked noodles and mix well (add reserved liquid to thin if necessary). Sprinkle Parmesan/cheddar on top and bake for 20-25 minutes in large baking dish. Pass the wine and serve with a garden salad and crusty bread. Molto bene!

While I neglected to photograph our dish, here’s a photo from the ‘Net. This dish has a bit of a kick from the Rotel for a nice change of pace. Did I mention it’s easy to throw together and works great for a crowd?

Recipe

Now if I could just get Norman to do all the cooking, I’d be happy as a clam at high tide. Till then…I’ll just have to kiss the cook-look alike.

Norman

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Fostering and Rescuing – A Book Review

As you probably know I’m very passionate about rescues (both Norman and Elsa were rescued) so when I was recently provided an opportunity to review a new book by best-selling author, Cara Achterberg, I jumped at the chance. Yes, we’re talking about THAT Cara Achterberg, author of Another Good Dog. Squeals! Ms. Achterberg is one amazing upright who has taken dog rescue advocacy to a whole ‘nother level. Reviewing One Hundred Dogs & Counting One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues” being released on July 7, was just something I couldn’t pass up.

Book review
Cowgirl author and rescue advocate, Cara Achterberg

For anyone not familiar with Cara, she is an award-winning writer, blogger, and consummate dog rescue champion. I was keen to review her latest book which explains the ins and outs of rescue work like nothing I’d ever read before and I learned so much about the behind-the-scenes work of rescuing and shelters. Who knew the public perception of shelters and the private reality could be so disparate?

One Hundred Dogs & Counting follows the footsteps of Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Cara’s latest book began as a mother/son trip into the world of ‘dog pounds,’ private rescues and some of the most desperate public shelters around that most people are completely unaware. I had no idea how the world of shelters and rescues worked. With humor and deep compassion, Cara writes the book every dog lover needs to read and provides a remarkable journal how shelter dogs end up with a rescue and some of the heartbreaking details as to why some do and others don’t. This book offers hope in the face of unthinkable heartache, limited resources and long odds toward success. It also provides a narrative of hope shared by a cadry of real heroes working with limited resources in shelters and rescue groups while providing you an opportunity to help by sharing its message.

With generous praise and gratitude for her family, Operation Paws for Homes (OPA), the group with which she fosters dogs, numerous directors, rescue coordinators, Animal Control Offices and countless volunteers, Cara takes you through just what a “no-kill” shelter is. She provides a terrific resource list giving readers an opportunity to help in exposing the quiet reality of too many shelters by crafting a remarkable story with a heartfelt plea. As dog lovers and pet bloggers, it’s up to use to educate people of the all too familiar goings on in cities and towns across the country. As she puts it: let’s all work toward bringing Gandhi’s words to fruition.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.

Book review

Be sure to put this book on your summer reading list and order your copy of this remarkable rescue journey and spread its powerful message today. The Ranch Hands enthusiastically give it a 4 out of 4 paw endorsement. 🐾🐾

Book review

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 29, 2020

How do you expect me to drink that…it’s not “Dog-pérignon.”

OES

Happy Monday. Here’s to a week of just the right stuff.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 26, 2020

Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our friends and hosts, Rosy, her new sister and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard. Be sure to visit them and see their brand new sister, Sunny who is as cute as a button. The dogs enjoyed bringing last week’s sniff around  so much last week, they asked if they could do an encore today. So…take it away Norman and Elsa.

Norman: Right, mum, thanks. I’m really chuffed to be able to share another edition of nature which, if you follow us regularly has been interesting. I mean yesterday’s early morning raccoon sighting was absolutely gobsmackingly brilliant! This morning my sister and I looked for them but only found our bunny friend, Roger who didn’t seem all that keen on chatting with me.

Elsa: Wait…what…a bunny?! How’d I miss Roger? I always see him way before you do. This is a travesty. I’ve been robbed!! Where’s justice when you need it?

Bunny

Norman: Blimey, sister…you especially need to pay attention to today’s garden plant, lavender. Mum told me this is time of year when lavender is in full bloom. Because of the pandemic, there was no lavender festival to visit but that doesn’t mean we can’t fetch some lavender info and images for everyone from around our garden from previous posts. Of course you can her posts from a past festival for additional images. We all know how wonderful lavender smells but did you know it helps reduce anxiety and emotional stress, heals burns and wounds, improves your sleep, can restore skin complexion and reduce acne, helps slow aging with powerful antioxidants, improves eczema and psoriasis and helps alleviate headaches?

Elsa: This is just all wrong. Can’t believe you didn’t tip me off that Roger was out. I thought you were my loving brother! What gives, dude?

Norman: Calm down and stop spinning, sister; there’s no need to ‘throw a wobbly.’  You need to chill out to keep your stress levels low. Remember your seizures.

Elsa: Lavender?! You made me miss a bunny and you think I’ll be content with sniffing a dumb plant. Argh…you are a clueless moron if you think lavender will substitute for a chance to chase a rabbit. Sheesh, “calm down,” he says. Calm down when there’s a rabbit around and I missed him!!! Grrr.

Lavender

Norman: Blimey, someone needs to stop whinging on about the oddest things. My sister could especially use a long sniff of this brilliant plant. Did you know lavender helps release tension and calms the mind? Lavandula (whose common name is lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants from the mint family. Native to Europe, northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean region, southwest Asia and southeast India, it does well in temperate climates and is a favorite in mum’s garden. Hers are the most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia which has deep fragrance and color. The bracts (or buds) are perfect for sniffing, saving and savoring right now.Lavender

Elsa:  Whatev. I’m not as keen on it as Sam was and you seem more interested in catching the bees when you’re out in the lavender bed. I’m more focused on the squirrel in the tree above the lavender patch. He mocks me and as a Ninja, I simply just cannot let that stand.

Norman: You, more than anyone would do with a good sniff of this plant. It’s well known for calming the the anxious. Those buds (known as bracts) have the strongest scent before they open into their little flowers. Mum even makes some wonderful goat’s soap with her harvested lavender buds.

Elsa: Ok, I’ll start paying more attention. I suppose a bit of calm is good for anyone. I’ve heard that lavender essential oil works wonders on burns. Mom was taking something out of the oven the other day and I heard a lot of HBO words. She got out a little bottle of lavender essential oil and put it on her thumb and she actually “ahhh’ed’ out loud. No blister, no pain, just fast relief.

Norman: Yes, it is the bee’s knees for treating burns and she even used it on me last week when it looked like I might have an infected ear. It felt so much better and the redness was gone overnight. I feel so much better knowing lavender is a universal oil that is used to balance the body whenever there is a need. It even helps repeal nasty insects that often plague pups and peeps.

Elsa: Ok brother, you’ve turned me into a true believer in the power of lavender. It’s especially fragrant in the early morning hours before it gets too hot.

Lavender

Norman: It really does; I made a point of checking it out after our early morning constitution. Now let’s go hunt butterflies.

Butterflies

Elsa: Umm, yeah…no. I hunt rabbits bozo, not butterflies. Besides, that isn’t a butterfly you British fool. It’s a Painted Lady moth who are taking a vacation in our garden before heading up to the mountains. Sheesh, when will this guy ever learn?

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ June 24, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

Morning walks are always interesting around the Ranch.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 22, 2020

Monday

We hope you enjoyed your weekend but can’t help but wonder if Mondays are really necessary?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 19, 2020

It’s Friday, June 19th (known as Juneteenth in the US or Emancipation Day) and the Ranch hands are here to share scenes from our garden with our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. Be sure to click on the link to see what’s been going on elsewhere in Blogville.

Norman: Hello mates, since we’re the sniffers around the Ranch, we only thought it fair to share some of what we sniffed out.

Elsa: Ahem…not so fast dog breath…I searched out some of these things too. You probably pee on more things than you actually sniff.

Norman: I say dear sister, that’s rather rude unkind of you. I beg your pardon, I must protest by saying I do my fair share of sniffing. Remember it was me that found those sunflowers that are popping up all over.

Elsa: After which you promptly ‘watered’ them.

Norman: There, there now…let’s not go there. First off, in the purple category, mum’s clematis is in bloom. And what a beauty it is!

Flowers

Elsa: Yes, it is rather nice but hope those are real water droplets!

Norman: Oh course, it is. I. know. the. rule: “no ‘watering’ of flowers in the garden.”

Elsa: Yeah, but you do tend to break that rule. I thought I heard mom say just yesterday to not pee on the peonies.

Norman: Huh, erm…what? I don’t recall her saying any such thing! And frankly I’m a bit cheesed off that you think I’d deliberately break the rules.

Elsa: Whatever dude. I sniffed out some Hemerocallis, known as Stella D’Oro lilies. These babies re-bloom…did you know that?

Flowers

Norman: My goodness, I rather think those are quite smashing! They’re not far from a tree which grows in our garden that I’d never seen before. Mum says it’s a Catalpa tree and they grow quite large. With their large heart shaped leaves, they’ve begun to bloom now. These trees grow quite tall reaching 40-60 ft. (12-18 metres) and grow relatively quickly. The flowers appear in broad panicles in early summer while ‘fruit’ appears in late summer or autumn. Known as siliques these pod-like beans grow to approximately 20–50 centimetres (8–20 in) long and are full of small flat seeds. These trees provide good shelter from rain and wind, making them an attractive habitat for many species of birds. They do not present many threats of falling limbs (despite having soft wood), but the dark-brown ‘fruit’ husks that drop in late summer tend to be a bit of a nuisance.

Flowers
Catalpa flowers
Trees
Leaves and pods

Elsa: I notice you check it out every day when we head out for our walks.

Norman: I’m just reading the canine bulletin board. Please note I myself, have never watered it.

Elsa: Yet. Why don’t you show everyone the sunflowers that are popping up all over the garden.

Norman: Right…this one just popped up a couple of days ago. I guess they like the sunny, hot weather we’ve been having. Rather cheery flowers, wouldn’t you say?

Flowers

Elsa: I suppose so. You’re the flower sniffer, I just sniff for grass spots to do face rubs/rolls in.

Norman: Ah yes, sister, you do tend to find strange spots in which to roll. Not sure what that’s all about. Care to share?

Elsa: Nah, if I have to explain you wouldn’t understand it.

Norman: If you say so. Anyway, we’ve enjoyed sharing all the blooming lovelies from the garden this week and I am personally chuffed to bits to say I no longer have to wear a cone of any kind! Life is pretty good though mum says for me not to get too excited…I still am on activity restrictions for another week or so. Still, it feels good to get out and walk about sniffing for flowers without that bloody cone. I ‘pawsitively’ feel groovy these days, especially in my new tie-dyed scarf mum made for me.

Norman

Elsa: You do look pretty spiffy if I say so myself, big guy. And thanks for helping out with the nature flower parade. We hope everyone has a safe and happy Juneteenth weekend celebration. Cheers!

Norman: Cheerio, mates!

Elsa: Ugh, this guy is so thick. It’s live, love, bark! 🐾 you British dolt!

Wordless Wednesday ~ June 17, 2020

Butterfly
Swallowtail

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed ~ June 2020

NormanWell, well, well…would you lookee here. It’s time for another Meet the Breed Monday. Norman here. What breed shall we take a gander at this month? How about the ubiquitous and beloved Golden Retriever? More than a few of our readers are Golden owners but this month’s background was supplied by our friend, Michael over at Golden Kali. Michael has three “Golden Girls” and entertains us with wonderful posts so you might want to click the link to visit his lovely blog. So let’s get started and learn about this wonderful breed.

Golden Girls
Golden Girls

Developed by the first Lord Tweedmouth (aka Dudley Marjoribanks) during the years 1840 through 1890, the aristocrat sought a dog suited to the rainy climate and rugged terrain of the area, so he crossed his “Yellow Retriever” with the now extinct Tweed Water Spaniel. Irish Setter and Bloodhound were also added to the mix during the 50 year period. Thus the Golden Retriever we now know arrived as an enduring gift to the dog kingdom from a hunt-happy aristocrat.

The Golden, as affectionately known everywhere, was first shown at a British dog show in 1908.  The breed began arriving in America, by way of Canada, around the same time. Sport hunters liked the breed’s utility while show breeders loved their beauty and are impressed by their sweet, sensible temperament. Males generally weigh between 65-75 lbs. while females are somewhat smaller at 55-65 lbs.

Golden
Kali

There are three main types of Golden Retrievers.

  • The British type (like Kali) has a broader head and muscular chest with a usually lighter coat referred to as cream or blond with heavier ‘feathers.’  Their eyes are round and dark.
  • The American type (like Kloe and Koda) are less muscular with a red or golden coat and moderate feathers. They are very agile, have a powerful and well coordinated gate with brown but slanted eyes.
  • Canadian Goldens have a thinner coat than their American counterpart and may be mistaken for a Golden Lab.
Kloe
Kloe

Goldens are very versatile. While often known as bird dogs, they make excellent family members. Goldens are frequently used as service dogs for the disabled, search and rescue dogs and are even tempered, intelligent, and very affectionate. They love to play and will retrieve balls as long and as often as someone will throw it for them.

Koda
“Baby” Koda

We got ourselves another ‘foodie’ with this breed. The only thing Goldens love more than playing and romping is food. Being food motivated, Goldens are quite eager to please their owners thereby making them easily trainable and highly adaptive to most home environments.

Goldens do need lots of exercise, especially puppies and younger dogs.  A good 30 to 40 minute walk each day in addition to playtime and training will make for a content dog who is then less likely to get themselves into mischief.

Goldens are gentle with children, puppies and get along with just about everyone they meet. Goldens are not typically considered guard dogs but will bark to alert owners of trouble, or perceived trouble. They are more likely to show a burglar where the family jewels are hidden than to attack.

The Golden Retriever’s life expectancy is typically 11 to 12 years and sadly, more than 60% of the breed succumb to cancer. Hip dysplasia is another common medical problems Goldens face.

Golden retrievers shed and require regular brushing. Like all dogs shedding dogs, regular grooming helps minimize floating hair and mats.

Goldens are one of the more popular breeds in the U.S. Did you know that two Goldens occupied the White House-Gerald Ford’s dog, Liberty and Victory whose human was Ronald Reagan. More recently, Elizabeth Warren’s Golden “Bailey,” was a frequent visitor to her campaign events, and was caught on camera swiping a burrito from a staffer’s hand. Like I said, these dogs are definitely ‘foodies.’ While “Daniel,” the 2020 Westminster Dog Show audience favorite did not win Best in Show, he did win the Sporting Group. Goldens continue to be popular crowd pleasers and are regularly featured pets in commercials and movies.

Well there you have it. Many thanks to Michael for sharing background info on these great family dogs. Do you have any experience with these ‘golden’ beauties? Check back next month for another breed. If you’d like your good dog’s breed highlighted, please shoot us an email.

Live, love, bark! 🐾