Nature Friday ~ June 3, 2022

Ranch HandsWelcome to this week’s edition Nature Friday  where we join the blog hop hosted by our fur-pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

Norman: Since I kind of took the last word from last week’s post, I’m giving free and full reign to the Ninja because I’m a proper gentleman. Elsa: More like I threatened you, you gigantic heap of fur. I don’t consider this much of a gift-it’s more like acquiescence in the face of harm. I still think you owe me but mom said I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So with that, let’s take a look at a springtime lovely, otherwise known as the Bearded Iris.

Beardies, as mom likes to affectionately call them, are hardworking and easy to grow. They like full sun and tend to prefer well-drained soil to keep the rhizomes from rotting. Since our soil is more claylike, we tend to water them less and they’ve done fine.

Twenty years ago before either me or the Oaf moved in to the Ranch, mom found an iris farm in the heart of the city shortly after moving in. “Iris Bob” has been in the business for years, and grows more than 400 varieties of tall Bearded Irises. Sadly, they’ve been closed to visits since the panDAMNic. We’re hoping next year they’ll reopen. It’s a real treat to wander through the rows of gorgeous flowers. For a bird’s eye view of the farm, check out this short YouTube video.

Isn’t that something?! I’m gonna see if we can get a drone so I can spy on squirrels better-it could give me an edge on those doggone tree rats! Norman: Umm, let’s stay on point, shall we? Elsa: Growl. While mom’s garden is nowhere near the extent or scale as Iris Bob’s, it became the foundation for her garden. Happy now? Norman: Indubitably.

Flowers

The house mom owned before had one nearly black iris and she dug it up and brought it with her. It was the start of her obsession of bearded irises. While her garden has mostly blue or deep purple, she as a large border of the traditional purple but they have variegated foliage. Their flowers aren’t particularly exceptional, but the striped leaves provide interest all year long.

Flowers
View from the ground at the Iris Farm

Did you know the irises take their name from the Greek word for a rainbow (also the name for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris)? Some suggest the name refers to the wide variety of colors found among the many species. The “beard” refers to those short hairs that look like a furry caterpillar, and are found toward the back of the lower petals. Its purpose is to a path for pollinating insects toward the reproductive parts of the plant. Bearded irises now tend to have larger blooms than they did a hundred years ago.

While growing beardies is fairly easy, according to Iris Bob (and taken directly from his website), here are some rules that can ensure good results so you too, can enjoy these springtime beauties.

Rules of Thumb for Tall Bearded Iris:

  • Minimum of 6 hours of sunshine per day.
  • Good drainage
  • Plant 7-12 inches apart.
  • Divide every 3 to 4 years
  • Fertilize late summer with a LOW nitrogen fertilizer, 14-14-14 (or something similar)
  • Fertilize in the spring with a high phosphorous fertilizer, 0-48-0 (triple super phosphate for root development)
  • Don’t overwater.
  • Don’t plant too deep [this is one of the biggest mistakes people can make]
  • Remove dead brown foliage and bloom-stalks when last flower folds.

So let’s see a few of the pretty ones from around our garden. Mom has always loved the super dark irises. They are unusual and she likes that kind of stuff. It’s probably why she adopted Norman. They don’t get anymore ‘unusual’ than him. Norman: I beg your pardon…I would never say unkind things about my sister. Elsa: Umm, Fathead…I thought you were going to butt out of MY post. Norman: Umm, sorry…go on. {Sigh}

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, here are a few pics of some of mom’s favorite irises blooms.

Flowers
Black bearded iris being crowded out by the variegated irises (note to mom-make sure you divide those guys this year)

Another showstopper is this speckled iris. It’s like Mother Nature got the hiccups. Tee-hee.

Flowers

Here Mother Nature decided to compete with Picasso with a ruffled variety. What do you think…Yay or Nay?

Flowers

Here’s a peach colored one from a walk this week that looks so bright and happy. I tried to sniff it but mom pulled me away since a bee was enjoying its dinner.

Flowers

And finally, this delicate looking one that always makes mom smile.

Flowers

Notice the spots of moisture? We actually got a couple of days of showers this week-something we rarely receive. Mom was happy, but my crybaby brother can’t stand getting wet so I have to hear him winge on about it. Norman: I do not winge. I simply observe. Elsa: Whatever.

Anyhow, we hope you enjoyed our my post on bearded irises. Do you have them in your garden?

We hope you are able to get out this weekend and see things blooming now. Luckily, I’ll get a free day tomorrow while Norman goes to an Old English Sheepdog Rescue benefit as an ambassador for rescued dogs. For me it means I can destroy play with the toys by myself. Yay! Have a great weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 28, 2022

For some bizarre reason, Elsa decided to prepare today’s post. Jealousy is apparently a strong motivator and she grumbled that Norman hogs all the limelight with his therapy work. Considering baths and grooming were a big part of last week’s activities, she did however tell me “Don’t even think about it.”

SmilesHave a smile filled Monday.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Top ‘O the Morning To Ye

The  Leprechaun Ranch Hand sends his best Irish wishes to you. ☘️ Erin go bragh! ☘️

Norman

Meanwhile the Celtic Sluagh…aka The Ninja, seems to be [once again] preparing to hunt down my soul. If there’s anything to that adage, ‘luck of the Irish,’  now would be a good time for it. Then again, she could just as easily be channeling the Celtic goddess of evil magic, “Carman” who, as a destructive witch, roamed around with her three evil sons: Dub (“darkness” in Irish), Dother (“evil”) and Dain (“violence”), destroying anything or anyone in their path.

It was thought that Carman was responsible for cursing Ireland’s crops until the Tuatha De Danann (peoples of the goddess Danu) used their magic to fight and defeat her.

Elsa, St. Patrick's Day
I am NOT amused, nor am I Irish

May your blessings outnumber the shamrocks that grow, and may trouble avoid you wherever you go. Happy St. Patrick’s Day from everyone at the Ranch. Slainte!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Thankful Thursday ~ December 30, 2021

Normally I don’t post in the Thankful Thursday blog hop but simply couldn’t NOT participate this week. If COVID and current events have taught me anything, it’s to embrace gratitude wholeheartedly and don’t procrastinate letting people know how much you care.

Earlier this week while I was reflecting about the Christmas holiday, the mailman delivered a small package. What’s this I wondered, since I knew I hadn’t ordered anything? Thinking it was simply some end of the year appeal for a donation from a group I’d supported before, I figured it was some mailing labels or greeting cards. To my surprise, it turned out to be far more.

Card

Back when I began blogging, many bloggers I followed were influencers with various companies promoting their products. I had hoped to join those ranks but by the time I had any measurable number of followers, many of those companies changed their policies and stopped working with bloggers. Chewy was one of them. I was disappointed but then again, hadn’t really lost anything and just continued to do what I’d been doing-posting about the resident Knucklehead and his hospital adventures.

People seemed to enjoy the posts, the blog grew and readers fell in love with Sam whose legendary knuckle-headed adventures seemed to touch hearts on our little acre of the Internet. When Norman joined this merry band, his adorable face and sweet nature seemed to appeal to readers as well (for which I’m also grateful). Oh sure, there was a story or two about the Ninja, but Elsa’s presence here has been fairly minuscule. Her puppy mill background doesn’t exactly lend itself to sharing heartfelt stories beyond the numerous episodes of her inexplicably chewing up eyeglasses (I think she’s up to 6 or 7 pairs of reading glasses now) and assorted ‘stuffie’ assassinations. I adore this complicated girl but she’s not exactly the kind of dog people understand or favor. Coupled with her ongoing battle with epilepsy, her “still waters run deep” personality is tough to share in a post. Then this arrived.

Card

The inside massage took my breath away and my emotions got the better of me. Around Thanksgiving I placed an autoship order for food and pet supplies. I received an email indicating an earlier-than-expected delivery date and couldn’t have been more thrilled, given supply chain issues these days. Now understand, I place orders about every 3 weeks for food for the Ranch’s ‘livestock.’ I live in an older, very well known neighborhood and rarely have problems with deliveries. Delivery companies know the area well. Amazon, FedEx and UPS trucks are plentiful, delivering packages all day long and yet for some reason, UPS managed to bungle delivering this one. After two emails indicating they had ‘tried’ to deliver said order (which they had not), the following Wednesday UPS sent a notice that “because delivery had not been made, they were returning the box to sender.” What the bloody heck?!?! We were down to the bottom of the food bag so I called Chewy’s explaining the online exchanges I had with UPS (all efforts to reach a live UPS representative were fruitless) and the kind, patient and very pleasant service rep at Chewy assured me a new order would be sent out with priority status. I was extremely grateful and assured both Ranch Hands no one would go hungry. The order arrived a day and half later and all was good at the Ranch. I softly said a prayer of thanks; the dogs had full bellies and all was well in Ranchland so my focus, like most people’s turned toward getting ready for the upcoming Christmas holiday. In other words, I moved on. Supply chain issues has become the new buzzword these days with delays being routinely expected especially during the holidays.

Elsa

This 6″ x 6″ canvas was lovingly packed with the sweet card and brought tears to my eyes. I. Was. Simply. Stunned. The image from Elsa’s profile was a favorite of mine. As a black dog, she’s hard to capture photographically without looking like a dark blob. As she’s too reluctant to pose, when she does (or when I get lucky like here), it seemed like the obvious choice to use it as a profile pic but I never expected anything like this treasured gift.

Elsa

Meaningful words of gratitude seem so inadequate. All I can offer is a heartfelt “THANK YOU” from the bottom of my heart. This little piece of art means so much and I’ll cherish this sweet gesture forever. Say what you will about large, unfeeling corporations, but this kind gesture shows not all companies treat their customers so cavalierly. Let me just say I think, Chewy is ‘picture perfect.’

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 5, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the first Friday of November for this week’s edition of Nature Friday as we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. For those keeping track, there are only 57 days left in 2021! Try and wrap your head around that while we take a look at this past week.

Having survived a cold Halloween with a chilly temps and a few days of light frosts, the Mile High has returned back to mild temps and clear skies. It seems like Mother Nature tapped many trees on the shoulder as a reminder to shed their leaves and some seem happy to oblige.

Trees

Others have taken a hybrid approach, with some leaves still on and some off. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I came close, ever so close, to jumping into that small pile of leaves to the left of this tree imitating Linus who always jumped into the middle of Charlie Brown’s freshly raked pile. I did come to my homeowner senses but wondered how many kids walking home from school couldn’t quite manage to do the same without enjoying some joyful mischief.

Trees

And then there’s my Catalpa which naively takes the Scarlett O’Hara approach to dealing with the upcoming winter season: “Tomorrow is another day.”

TreeUmm…sweetheart, I hate to break it to you but while it’s mild now, it’s no longer summer and you need to pick up the pace to catch up with the rest of the trees.

One of the more interesting aspects of autumn is how leaves impact the dogs. Daily “walks” take on a whole different vibe. It’s as if Nature opened a library and invited the Ranch hands to come in and browse through the collection. And browse they do. What normally takes nearly an hour to complete our route is now taking more than an hour and a half as they read each. and. every. page.

Norman cannot seem to get enough sniffing done in leaves. This Ranch Hunk takes any job on with gusto but his work ethic seems particularly focused when checking out leaves. And not all sniffs result in ‘watering.’

Norman

He roots around, over and under leaves as if he were a Bloodhound tracking a lost child. What is it about autumn leaves that turns dogs into Sherlock Holmes looking for clues?

Elsa takes a different approach to leaves. Oh sure her nose goes into overdrive when she’s on those narrow strips of grass between street and sidewalk much like Norman does but will try to find a clear pathway without leaves on sidewalks. Apparently she has no desire to crunch leaves and goes out of her way to not step on them when they cover sidewalks. Sam was the same way and would weave like an Army convoy around leaves on sidewalks. Norman being the Humvee sized dog that he is, merely plows through waiting for the next deep patch that he can plunge his probiscuis into olfactory nirvana. I think there were audible sighs of pleasure.

How does your good dog approach walking (or in our case  sniffing bouts) in fallen leaves?

Halloween

Do you have big plans this weekend, like sending the Halloween back into their storage shed? Whatever you do, we hope you get outside and enjoy Mother Nature first hand and have a great weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Happy 4th of July

July 4thAs the U.S. celebrates our country’s independence, both the Ranch hands and I wanted to take this opportunity to wish our U.S. based readers a happy Fourth of July and we hope everyone has a terrific Sunday.

Norman

Here’s to a star-spangled ‘howliday!’

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 28, 2021

Elsa

It’s been a long standing fact around the Ranch that Elsa will eat  pretty much ANYthing (in case you missed some of the more memorable posts, click here, here or here). I’m still convinced she thinks wool socks are their own food group. To administer Elsa’s anti-seizure meds I make pill pockets with a peanut butter base and she’s always taken them like a good girl. Recently though, she’s apparently decided that they aren’t quite up to gastronomic snuff. She will either sniff at the offering then walk away completely unamused, or she’ll take it, and then spit it out as soon as I’m not looking. I’ve taken to coating them in various grated cheeses for her to even consider them remotely adequate.

Not sure what has prompted this discriminating behavior lately given her past history of eating pretty much ANYthing; but I can only surmise she’s begun to channel her inner Gordon Ramsay, the notoriously critical TV chef. Perhaps like Ramsay, she considers herself a perfectionist and feels pill pockets are falling woefully inadequate on the taste front. Oh. That. Dog.

Do you live with a canine food critic? Regardless of what you’re currently noshing, we hope your Monday is tasty.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Two Word Wednesday ~ June 16, 2021

Squirrel

Tree rat.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 3, 2021

You may have noticed we’ve been absent lately. A death in the family has taken an emotional toll on my heart and posting has been the last thing on my mind. When I returned home from being with the family, I was greeting by a deck of cards on the floor along with a certain card shark. Through my tears from the unbearable loss our family has suffered, the clouds over my heart lifted for a just a moment. Today’s moral…never play cards with the Ninja. This girl plays to win and will eat you alive.

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Purple Friday ~ 2021

PurpleRather than post more images of snowy urban scenes with emerging spring bulbs (you’re probably as tired of seeing my spring storm photos as I am posting them), today we will be joining and supporting our ‘fur-iends’ from Knotty Toys for Good Dogs and the Five Sibes in a blog hop (click on the links for additional info), by participating in the annual international grassroots effort known as “Purple Day” which was created to increase awareness about epilepsy worldwide. If you make a donation of $5* or more at The Wally Foundation (who provides financial assistance to the owners of canine epileptics and dog rescue groups to obtain medications and veterinary services), you will receive a Purple Ribbon decal  in the mail (*minimum donation of $6 outside of the USA).

Elsa

As the parent of an epi-warrior, I have found a supportive and diverse network of people, dogs and informational resources since Elsa’s diagnosis just 2 weeks after she was adopted. Although I have owned dogs who suffered from epilepsy over the years, I’ve become far more educated about treatment for these special pets and no longer feel totally isolated. Educating myself to help Elsa has been a passion and both Knotty Toys for Dogs and the Five Sibes blogs have provided tremendous information that has definitely improved her life with  ‘pawsome’ tips I never knew about previously.

Epilepsy
The Ninja ‘reading’ “What’s Wrong with Gibson”

Life with an Epi-Warrior can have its ups and downs but it  doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy life like any other pet. Elsa may has her quirks due to her years of life in a puppy mill, but she still enjoys life being a sweet snuggler who loves playing with certain toys (apart from the well documented eviscerating of others).

Elsa

Every year on March 26th, people from around the world are invited to wear purple and participate in events that support of epilepsy awareness. It is estimated that as many as 50 million peeps and 4% of all dogs have epilepsy. By bringing awareness to this disease, those who participate with Purple Day events hope to bring much-needed info to those who need it. There are many groups who can provide informational resources, such as The Wally Foundation and The Anita Kaufmann Foundation, among many others. Please check them out and support their efforts providing information to sufferers of this dreaded disease. We hope you’ll join us as we rock purple today.

Epilepsy

Live, love, bark! 💜