Howl-oween Monday ~ October 31, 2022

Today is ‘Howl-oween,’ a day celebrated by kids of all ages who enjoy dressing up and receiving treats from total strangers. Could it be our own pets think EVERY day should be like that for them? I know the Ranch Hands think they should get treats all the time but aren’t all that keen on the dressing up part.

Whatever your thoughts about today’s festivities may be, do you think you’ll be visited by a bunch of ghosts and goblins this evening? After tonight, our sights will focus on the next holiday-Thanksgiving, which lends itself well to today’s smile.

Halloween

Norman for one, will be pleased the season is coming to an end. He’s somewhat over all the costume changes as evidenced by his expression here.

Norman

Elsa, on the other hand, simply glares a “don’t EVEN think about it” look every time I pull out a costume or go through the hat box and am sure she’s thinking up ways to punish me whenever I cast my eye toward her. But come on Ninja, you gotta admit you look pretty fetching in your new Ranch Hand chapeau.Elsa

Despite the grumbling and/or eye rolling, both Ranch Hands and I wish you a safe and happy ‘Howl-oween.’

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 5, 2022

Dragon Boat FestivalWelcome to the first Friday of August. Hi-ya, Elsa here. My inbox has been flooded with requests to be this week’s  correspondent for the post.

Norman: You have an inbox?

Elsa:  Quiet, you big oaf, I was referring to my mystical inbox where I ‘feel‘ all the energy from my avid readers jonesing on my top notch, award winning reporting skills and there you go trying to harsh my mellow!

Norman: I don’t mean to harsh anything, dear sister. I’m just wondering about the veracity of your opening salvo, that’s all. But I see it’s business as usual so I’ll let you get on with it.

Elsa: FINALLY…sheesh, I let you do a couple of posts and right away you go and develop journalistic ethics. What’s this world coming to? Don’t answer that! Anywho…I’m going to do this week’s walk about nature as we join Rosy, and the gang from LLB in Our Backyard for their blog hop. Today we’re gonna check out the Colorado Dragon Races that Mom recently attended.

Norman: I heard Mum talk about it. When she said it was at Sloan’s Lake I wanted to go and see what it was all about, but with that whole water thing and the fact that it was hotter than bloody blue blazes, well I passed.

Elsa: Pfft…you passed because you’re a big baby. I mean, come on, people, food, Canadian Geese…that’s a dream outing in my books.

Norman: Perhaps, but there’s still that water thing that puts me off. Besides, you remember how we’d already taken our morning constitution at the crack of dawn and frankly, it seemed like it was going to be too far to go and it would have meant walking uphill in the heat on the way home. No thanks.

Elsa: Don’t talk about heat to me…remember I’m the one who  wears a black fur coat. With our altitude, sunny bright days are murder on me. Apart from potentially messing with my biorhythms and inducing seizures in the extreme temps…well…for me anyway, it’s just not worth chasing seeing those geese in conditions like that.

Norman: Right-o, Ninja. So…care to start this week’s post or do you plan to wax on about other unrelated trivia.

Elsa: Don’t push it, dude. I’m getting to it. Good gravy, you have a couple of guest posts under your belt and right away you’re acting like some sort of rigid taskmaster editor. Lighten up, pal.

Elsa: [continuing on] So…as I was saying…Mom went down first thing as soon as the event opened; she’s a wuss when it comes to those hot temps too. Plus she was able to avoid the crowds which she figured would be large after a two year hiatus due to COVID. She did manage to capture a few interesting photos.

Elsa: [Moving on] Let’s kind of take a look around before getting to the race, ok? As you know, Mom is always wary around those Canadian Geese; I have no idea why, Canadians are well known for their friendly disposition. But she found a couple of ‘spectators’ down by the water’s edge that she felt comfortable being around. I dunno…those beaks seem a bit sketchy to me but whatever. I think they were rooting for Mom’s favorite Dragon Boat, #4 which had a number of disabled participants which she thought was very cool. They didn’t win their heat but they had good game and were an enthusiastic bunch.

Ducks

Norman: That is outstanding, I say! I mean the part about the disabled contestants being participants. Not the water.

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival

 

Elsa: I figured you would probably be afraid of those ducks just like you are of the Canadian Geese, not to mention being so close to the water’s edge.

Norman: [interrupting] I beg your pardon. For the record, I. AM. NOT. AFRAID. OF. GEESE. Canadian or otherwise. Some of my best friends are Canadian.

Elsa: [snickering] Yeah, right. We all know otherwise but by all means, make yourself feel better.

Norman: [sounding miffed] You keep making it sound like I’m some sort of coward but we both know how I always come to your defense especially whenever we meet that insane fence barking dog down the street.

Elsa: Oh yeah, I do recall you ripping Mom’s shoulder out to defend me. Ok, well, I’ve got a post to finish, so let’s move on, okay. Mom has attended the Dragon Boat Festival before but you can see her last post here  for more details.

Elsa: [continuing] There was lots of entertainment celebrating Asian Pacific Islander culture. She stopped by to check out the first dance performers. It was beautiful and they performed flawlessly.

Dragon Boat Festival

Elsa: There was the main pavillon area with all manner of food booths and tchotchkes for sale. There was even a row of food trucks and an ATM machine at an entrance. Looks like the organizers thought of everything to make it easy to spend money enjoy just about anything.

Dragon Boat Festival

Elsa: There always seems to be quite a diverse batch of attendees. Mom is always on the lookout for the most unusual, or most handsome attendees. She even found one dandy of a Dane for me {swoon}. Talk about handsome!

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat Festival

Norman: That was one big fella and he had the best manners but I’d rush to your defense if he acted up around you.

Elsa: Yeah, right. You know perfectly well, I can hold my own around anyone. I was more than ready to take on the raccoons we encountered just before returning from this morning’s walk. As I recall you were kind of “meh…no big deal.”

Norman: I didn’t see any upside of engaging with them and besides, I really couldn’t understand what the mama raccoon was chittering about after she shooed her two babies down the storm sewer.

Raccoon

Elsa: [giggling hysterically] Your denials are laughable. I was more than ready to take her on. ‘Mama o mama’ style.

Norman:  [eyes rolling] Which is exactly why Mum moved us along to avoid a confrontation. Afterall, neither of us need expose ourselves to a potential case of rabies. [shudder]

Elsa: Good point. Well it made for an interesting conclusion to the end of our morning walk. I hope you got a flavor of the Dragon Boat Festival and enjoyed seeing something a little unusual from our ‘Hood.

Dragon Boat Festival

Elsa: Got any big plans for this first weekend of August? The countdown towards autumn’s arrival seems to be moving along-48 days by my count. And not a day too soon. These relentlessly hot days have overstayed their welcome this summer, don’t you think?

Norman: Amen, Ninja. We both hope you have a splendid weekend and find something interesting to see in Mother Nature’s realm. Stay cool.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 29, 2022

Lavender FestivalIt’s Friday and that means it’s time to join our pals Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday. Today is the last Friday in July and we’re pretty chuffed about it since it puts us that much closer to the arrival of autumn…which is just 55 days away for anyone keeping track.

Hello fellow nature lovers, Norman here to wrap up Part 2 of the Lavender Festival that Mum attended recently. The Ninja agreed to let me finish up this week’s nature walk. {Whispering softly} Elsa’s in the other room so hopefully we’ll avoid any peanut gallery comments while I wrap this up.

Elsa (voice coming from Mom’s studio): Not so fast, dog breath. My uber sensitive, world renowned hearing is primed for anything stupid you may say, so just know I’m only a micro decibel away from stepping in if need be.

Norman: [Sigh…muttering under his breath…”and to think I was “this close” to pulling it off without being badgered”]. Replying: “Fine…snoopervise all you like but I think you’ll agree I’ve got this well in hand and am well prepared to share Mum’s photos.”

Elsa: Time will tell you, bloviating bag of fur. Just remember…I’m. Watching Listening.

Norman: {Panting with just a tinge of stress} Moving along now, let’s check out a few of the critters Mum encountered while touring the farm at Denver Botanical Gardens, Chatfield location. Click on this link for more info about the Hildebrand historic farm and surrounding trails and plant refuge at Chatfield. Last week, I shared the pic of the ‘Elvis Duck’ (otherwise known as a Crested Duck who was graciously identified by our friend Ingrid from Meezer’s Mews and Terrieristrical Woofs). This week I have a few more ani-pals to share. Mum saw a few goats and chickens along with Elvis. There were a couple who seemed rather plump, like This one who was content to lay in the hay trough while catching some sunshine as loads of young uprights squealed with delight at its antics. You may recall it was pretty hot that day so none of the animals were expending a lot of energy moving around. Looks like had she managed to lose her ear tag.

Critters
Mum thinks these goats are Anglo-Nubian variety 

Critters

Norman: Oh my…I daresay this gal is NOT plump…she’s pregnant. Carrying around another goat inside you on a hot sunny day, has to rank fairly high on the ‘miserable aspects of summer’ list.

Elsa [heckling from the studio]:  She’s almost as fat as you, Bucko!

Norman [continuing]: Ahem…as I was saying before being rudely interrupted…Elsa [now yelling]: You want interrupted, pal?!  I’ll show you interrupted. Hrumpf! Sheesh, you try to give a guy a break to get into media and what does he do…takes your awesome mentorship for granted.

Norman: [ignoring the background grumbling from the studio] As I was about to say, one of the reasons Mum likes to go to the Chatfield location is she always learns something new. There was a demonstration table set up with various plants used to dye fabric. Makes you eye naturally dyed fabric knowing that some remarkable plant created that gorgeous shade of blue, yellow or orange somewhat differently, doesn’t it? All of these jars of dried flowers contained flowers that were used to dye the pieces of silk on which they were displayed. Mum wished she would have seen the entire presentation.

Indigo

Marigold

Cosmos

Madder Root

Dyer's Coreopsis

While wandering about the grounds, Mum came across this pretty specimen that seemed deliberately planted. At first she thought it was some sort of yarrow (which is also used as a natural fabric dye), but later discovered it was in fact, Wild Carrot plant. It’s still pretty and I’d definitely check it out closely for its scent, given a chance.
FlowersElsa [from Mom’s studio]: Of course you would…you NEVER miss a chance to sniff or water ANY plants. You’re probably the main reason why they don’t let us good dogs accompany their parents to the botanical gardens.

Norman: For the record dear sister, service animals ARE allowed at the botanical gardens.

Elsa [from the studio]: Oh sure, insert facts here while I’m trying to make a point.

Norman:  [Getting back on task…] Often referred to as Queen Anne’s Lace or Bird’s Nest plants, Wild Carrot is edible but best avoided since it closely resembles hemlock and you definitely wouldn’t want to risk confusing the two. Besides, it’s considered an invasive weed in many areas.

Norman: Here’s a colorful chicken Mum found in the Elvis’ enclosure. The image doesn’t do it justice-just look at that colorful chest plumage.

Chicken

Norman: One of the best things Mum saw non-lavender related, was she realized that the Stickworks exhibit is still standing. For more photos and background info about it back when the exhibit opened, check here. Her only regret was not being able to check it out more thoroughly because there were too many people and it was too hot to wait until it cleared. It’s held up rather nicely in the three years since it first opened to the public.

Stickworks

Norman: Well that’s it for me and the Lavender Festival. I’m fairly certain next year, Mum will avoid the festival and go see the lavender and other plants days before to avoid the crush of crowds. Have any plans for the weekend? I’m just planning on recuperating after seeing gobs of people this week at Lutheran. My goodness, had no idea I was so popular!. One staff person was so excited to see me, she gave me a small stuffed teddy for all my pet therapy work.

Norman

Elsa: Yeah, I saw the pics of you carrying it around. Do you realize how stupid you looked?

Norman: I’ll have you know I was most dignified. But how wonderful was it that she gave me a new toy (although it’s not like I don’t have enough toys in the overflowing basket but it meant the world to me all the same).

Norman

Elsa: You are so gullible-she probably was trying to bribe you to get you to leave early.

Norman: Not likely, sister…I’ll have you know I have a big fan club and enjoy spending time with them all.

Elsa: Whatever gets you through the day. I was able to nap in complete bliss without the presence of a certain hairy beast.

Norman: I hope you enjoyed this year’s lavender festival and are able to get outside this weekend and enjoy Mother Nature.

Elsa: Speak for yourself, dude. I plan on chill-axin on the sofa…unless the new raccoons who moved in the ‘Hood show up. Then all bets are off. Ditto, if any bunnies are around.

Norman [rolling eyes]: Whatever you do, do it safely, stay hydrated and enjoy Mother Nature. Hope to see you again soon.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 22, 2022

Nature FridayWhew, we made it to Friday before melting. This week we’re once again joining Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for Nature Friday. Greetings, peeps, Norman at the helm today. The Ninja turned over today’s post to me so I’ll try to do my best to provide an interesting walk about Nature, Denver style. We sure managed to see a bunch of nature this morning on our post dawn walk. From death defying jumps by squirrels from telephone poles to rooftops, a couple of chubby raccoons who scurried into a drain, and a noisy cat fight in the middle of the street, we saw it all (Mum just couldn’t photograph any of it because she couldn’t balance our leashes, and safely hang on to a certain nameless Ninja who was losing her mind at the sights all the while trying to pull her phone out of her  pocket in time. Perhaps another day, eh?

[From nearby room] Elsa: You better not screw this up you big tank!

Norman: Ahem…I thought you said I could do this by myself.

[From nearby room] Elsa: I’ll still be snoopervising from the other room, dog breath.

Norman: Can I start uninterrupted now?

[From nearby room] Elsa: Knock yourself out, just don’t screw it up. I’m watching and have razor sharp hearing.

Norman:  Sigh. Let’s start, shall we? Mum went to the annual Lavender Festival last weekend, and I may need to split this up over a couple of weeks. There were so many photos, I just couldn’t decide just what to share.

Flowers

[continuing] Norman: It was a bloody hot day so Mum didn’t stay in the sunny spots too much but you can see past  lavender photos from the last festival here along with a video about the Chatfield location. This was the first time since 2019 the festival was held after a COVID hiatus.

She did spend a lot of time at the butterfly house. She’s fascinated by these guys flitting around from flower to flower. Can you blame her?Flowers

Butterflies

Mum was somewhat surprised by the large number of people attending so early (and most were maskless) so she and her friend (my Auntie Cheryl) tried to avoid the crowds as much as possible. And did I mention it was HOT and sunny? A sheepdog like me isn’t a fan of all the heat but when you add intense sun at a mile high, it’s a wonder she managed to stay as long as she did. I’m sure I’d have dug a hole in the shade and laid there till time to go.

[From nearby room] Elsa:  Pfft…as if they’d let you in.

[continuing] Norman:  As I was saying…here are more photos of some of the many butterflies.

Butterflies

Butterflies

[continuing] Norman: Gosh, aren’t they something? I guess I understand now why Mum is so fascinated by them.

[continuing] Norman: After wandering about the butterfly house, Mum and Auntie Cheryl wandered the grounds at Chatfield. The Coleus was particularly impressive. Just look at those brilliant neon colors!

Flowers Flowers

[continuing] Norman: Mum said she might even plant some in pots in the garden next year. They sure are colorful.

[continuing] Norman: Mum toured the historic farm at the Chatfield botanical gardens (it’s a part of the Denver Botanical Garden facilities located near Chatfield Dam in the southern suburbs). She saw goats, ducks, and chickens at the farm. Here’s the weirdest animal she encountered. Look at the bouffant-what in the bloody blue blazes is THAT?

Ducks

[continuing] Norman: Poofy-headed Elvis the Duck was a bit of slob when it came to drink but then again he wasn’t very happy being the subject of finger-pointing by all the visitors crowding around him so Mum and Auntie Cheryl moved along to see other aspects of the farm which I’ll share next week.

[From nearby room] Elsa:  What makes you think I’ll let you do the honors next week?

[continuing] Norman:  Hmm, well one of us will share the other photos next time. That’s it for this week. We hope you enjoyed this butterfly edition of the Lavender Festival. Stay cool if you can and if possible get out to see some nature this weekend. We’re planning to mostly hide out in the comfort of the air conditioned house. Good lord, will the heat ever go away? Just 62 days until autumn arrives.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 8, 2022

Ranch HandsWelcome to another Nature Friday post where I, Elsa, the world class and award winning Ninja correspondent will share the latest from our urban nature-scape. As always, we’re joining our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for their weekly Nature Friday blog hop. Make sure to click on their link to see other posts from Blogville.

Mom insisted ‘suggested’ I share reporting duties with the big guy this week. Personally, I think he whined to Mom about not getting enough attention after the publication of the latest edition of Colorado Canine magazine where he was sorta a star. The Dude thinks he’s some sort of super model and wants even more attention, so I guess I’ll throw him a bone just to get him to shut up. Anyway, I can always use a slave intern to expand my media empire.

Norman: Bone? Intern? Did I miss something? You know perfectly well that Mum doesn’t like us collecting bones on our constitutionals. And furthermore, I. Am. Not. An. Intern. I am the refined, archetypical Old English Sheepdog. Read…dignified and, after my two-page spread in the heretofore mentioned  magazine, am rather famous these days. And I’m patiently awaiting the official unveiling in an upcoming post. Hint, hint, Mum.

Elsa: Forget the magazine spread, fur-ball. We’ve got this Nature Friday gig-besides, no one cares about your magazine spread. Hmm…[thinking out loud]…this gives me a great idea about how to distract get rid of His Fur-ness through food.

Norman: I beg your pardon…contrary to popular belief I probably notice more around the neighborhood than you do, truth be told. As I recall, you were the one who totally missed seeing a bunny on two of our most recent walks, little sister.

Elsa: Wait…there was a bunny I missed? Egad!

Norman: Umm, can we just get started with this week’s offerings? If memory serves me correctly, I think you wanted to share all things pink this week.

Elsa: Yeah, yeah, hold on to your fur, Bucko. Sheesh, can’t believe I missed an opportunity to drag Mom see a bunny. Ok, let’s get this show on the road. I don’t need to spend more time with you than is absolutely necessary. I’m still cheesed I have to share my award winning column with you.

Norman: Wait…there’s cheese involved? No one told me about all these snacks for co-hosting with you.

Elsa: Oh for love of all that’s holy. Let’s move on, okay?

Norman: Right-o. I’m rather fond of this pretty pink lily. Just look at this beauty against that beautiful sky.

Flowers

Elsa: Yeah, yeah, pretty in pink lily. But check out this tricolor European Birch from the neighbor’s house. I mean pink freakin’ leaves…on a tree!

Tree

Norman: Well done, Ninja. It is one of the more unusual trees in the neighborhood.

Elsa: Of course it is, fool. Do I know how to pick out unusual offerings or what? They don’t call me award winning for nothing.

Norman: As I recall, no one has said you were award winning. It’s just something you came up with so you could develop a ‘brand’ as I recall.

Elsa: You say po-ta-to, I say po-tah-to.

Norman: Moving along…nothing says summer quite like these old-fashioned roses. And with their delicate scent, they are the perfect rose to share for our hostess, Miss Rosy.

Flowers

Elsa: I’m sure she thinks you’re just trying to put the ‘Rico Suave’ moves on her and is not the slightest bit impressed.

Norman: Be that as it may, I’m quite chuffed by seeing them on our walks.

Elsa: You would. You’re so easily entertained. Look at these two kinds of Echinacea I found. One is the traditional variety being sullied by those nasty Japanese Beetles that are beginning to overrun gardens throughout the Mile High City. The other one is a double. Isn’t it something?

Flowers

Flowers

Norman: Well…Bob’s your uncle on both those choices, sister!

Elsa: Wha…oh good grief. Stop speaking the Queen’s English you fool and just stick to being my intern…which means shouldn’t you be rustling up some tasty treats about now?

Norman: I thought I made it perfectly clear, I am not your fetch boy. Staying on point however, I did find a couple of pink blooms that our readers might enjoy. First is a pale pink Hollyhock, and the second is the gloriously shocking Poppy Mallow. I know for a fact that mum loves those cerise blooms.

Flowers

Flowers
Poppy mallow after a quick shower

Elsa: Ok, I’ll give you that those are distinctive but then so was the ‘doorman’ that scared the bejesus out of Mom when we came home from our morning walk. I’m not sure who jumped the highest, you, me or Mom. I do know she screamed like a little pig though.

Critters

Norman:  Blimey…that was the most unwelcome and disgusting early morning pest. I didn’t even try to eat it.

Elsa: Yeah, not my kind of protein either. I was kind of surprised that Mom didn’t drop the leashes and go running away like a crazy person. But it managed to freak us all out, didn’t it?

Norman: {shudder} I can’t…just can’t, say any more about that hideous creature.

Elsa: Well, come to think of it, I think we’ve actually heard enough from you anyway. Well, that’s it for another week. The heat dome is settling on top of us for the next few days. I have noticed that you tend to hang out near the AC vent or spread out in front of a fan in Mom’s studio. Actually dude…I don’t blame you one bit but just hope you’ll move over a tad so I can catch some of the breeze as well. Those triple digits are gonna suck.

Norman

Elsa: This is Elsa the Ninja reporting from the Ranch. Please join us again next time for another look around the urban landscape and see what Nature dishes up. Maybe next time I won’t have my style cramped by a certain brother.

Norman: I heard that. Please have a safe weekend and drink lots of water. And, if you are able to get out there to see if Nature has any less extreme offerings, have a lovely weekend. For the record, I’ll just be ‘faffing around’ myself.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 1, 2022

July 4Welcome to the first Friday of July…my goodness…how is it possible 2022 is halfway over? One minute we were taking down holiday decorations and now we’re hoping to safely get through another holiday-July 4th. {Head shaking} Hi, it’s Elsa, your intrepid award-winning correspondent ready to share a fresh batch of nature scenes from our recent walkabouts. As always we’re joining our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for their weekly Nature Friday blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see other posts including scenes of nature from around Blogville.

Rainbow

You may have heard there was a bit of a ‘celestial happening’ recently with mom’s favorite team winning the most prestigious sports award, the Stanley Cup. It’s been a week of celebration culminating with a ‘few’ people gathering for a parade and rally yesterday. The local paper estimated some 500,000 people attended and while there was LOTS and I do mean LOTS of alcohol, everyone was well behaved and enjoyed the team’s first Cup win in 21 years. The skies were moody, but not even thunder, lightning, or a little rain shower, could not dampen spirits of the Colorado Avalanche faithful.

Hockey
Stanley Cup rally, Civic Center Park

Anyway, let’s get to checking out some nature scenes of another type from around the Ranch, shall we? Mom found some rather unusual blooms on our daily walks. Take this Mediterranean Sea Holly (Eryngium bourgatii) plant. It likes sunny and dry well-drained soil. The flowers feel like balsa wood and it’s drought and rabbit resistant. Sure hope she doesn’t plant any in my yard since I’m all about wanting to attract bunnies. Besides, anything to keep the stupid squirrels away is fine with me. Isn’t that blue color unusual?

Flowers

We also discovered some unusual Calla lilies. A striking hot pink one and a black one. I was ready to keep on walking but Mom had to examine them for several minutes. “Come on, Mom…” Ugh, parents!

Flowers

Flowers

One of mom’s friends has this Clematis next to her front door and she took this pic because it was so gorgeous. I can tell you her Clematis is not at all this pretty-I keep telling her to stop being so stingy with the H2O but she mumbles something about when I start paying the water bill, so I put my paws in my ears. Funny how that gets her to pipe down. But what a welcoming sight for her friend’s visitors.

Flowers

Here’s another lily we pass by every day. Norman and I are mostly unphased by it but probably because we’re too busy hoping to see ‘Fred,’ the Akita who lives there. Fred always likes it when we walk by because it allows me to bark like as maniac at him. I like to think it’s little our joint effort to get mom to cough up treats in her pockets to calm us down. She’s so gullible but it seems to work every time.

Flowers

We usually don’t see red lilies like that so it’s nice to see such bright color. This lily marks the halfway mark on our walk, which seems to appease Norman. I could go a lot farther than that lummox but whatever cranks your handle, right? Mom says after a hot week and Norman’s visits to the hospital he deserves a relaxed, easy going walk. I’ll get even with him, I’ve already hidden all his favorite toys in the studio and plan to block the doorway so he won’t try to come in and play with them. I’m like that, yeah I am. {snicker}

The sunflowers are starting to bloom now and they’re fun to see all the different kinds and colors. Sunflowers are a natural squirrel attractor so naturally, I’m all over them. Doggone varmints-they can’t just be content with stealing my strawberries, they have to harvest the sunflower seeds as well. Let me tell you, I’m keeping my eyes open for them. Nobody steals my strawberries without me having something to say about it even if the sunflowers looks like a bullseye.

Flowers

I guess I’d be a poor correspondent if I didn’t mention the July 4th holiday weekend.  We’re not fans of fireworks so we’ll just be holed up away from the noisemakers. Please be considerate of us pets who are afraid of fireworks, as well as some peeps who are equally traumatized.

Until next time when I share moments of nature with brother Norman, stay safe and as cool as possible in this dog-awful heat but make sure you get out and experience some of nature’s beauty early in the day. Only 82 days until autumn arrives. {wink, wink}

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

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.

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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! 🐾

Memorial Day Monday ~ 2022

Holidays

While today is the ‘unofficial’ beginning of summer, we think of it as a day of reflection around the Ranch and plan to honor all service members, particularly those in our family who have served their country, with a special shout out to a niece’s son who graduated from high school this past week and enlisted in the Air Force just like both of his parents did. Way to go, Levi.

Memorial Day, a national holiday in the U.S., is where we officially remember and mourn all who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Originally known as “Decoration Day” following the Civil War when both Union and Confederate soldiers honored their dead by decorating their graves with flowers, it has morphed into its current form honoring all Americans who served and paid the ultimate price of freedom.

Have a safe and reflective day.

Holidays

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 27, 2022

Happy last Friday in the month of May. As always, we’re joining our fur-pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop. Be sure to check out what others are sharing by clicking on the link.

Ranch HandsHiya, it’s us Ranch Hands bringing spots of nature photos from this past week. Elsa: Remember not to pee on stuff, brother, ok? Norman: Tsk. I’m nothing if not a proper gentleman, Ninja.

You may recall that last week we received some snow showers on Friday and Saturday and boy did it cause some damage to several of the neighborhood trees. Elsa: Luckily it wasn’t as bad as some storms but it’s taken all week long for the cleanup. Here are a few pics from our walks.

Snow

Norman: I rather enjoyed watching it fall from the sofa while I had my ball. Elsa: Your ball? Ha, don’t you wish!

Norman

Norman: Mum dressed us up in our jackets so we could ‘enjoy’ the weather first hand. Elsa: It wasn’t that bad, you big baby. Norman: Can I help it if I don’t like wet? Elsa: {eyes rolling} Oh good grief, you’re such a wuss. When I lived at the puppy mill, I was outside all the time. This was nothing. Norman: Well, I came from a warmer climate and became used to kinder conditions. Elsa: Oh cry me a river, will ya. Let’s get on with it and show our readers some more pics, ok?

Trees

Trees

Elsa: As you can see, the amount of snow wasn’t all that much, only about 4 inches max. It melted nearly as fast as it fell but it was unusual to get snow this late in May. And we managed to not get the below the forecasted freezing temps too. Norman: Mum was happy about that; she was worried about her peonies which were just forming buds. Elsa: Yeah, she had to tarp a good deal of the garden. For a while there, it looks like a bit like Sanford & Sons but that seemed to save them and the ready-to-pop irises.

Flowers

Norman: The lupines didn’t seem to suffer all that much either. A few were a bit floppy from the weight of the snow but they are all blooming nicely.

Flowers

Elsa: We walked past some wildflowers after the storm who seemed to be thriving from the nice drink of water they  received.

Flowers

Norman: Nice one, Elsa. I took a nice long sniff at those yellow charmers. Elsa: Yeah, I remember mum trying to drag you away so you wouldn’t pee on them. Norman: {huff} Must you always bring that up? I’m required to check the canine bulletin board to see if there are any messages to pass along to you. Consider me a sort of chaperone for your delicacies. Elsa: Bwahahaha, delicacies?  Who you trying to kid, I’m about as delicate as a panther, dude. Norman: {miffed} I’m just trying to be gentlemanly about protecting my unappreciative sister. Elsa: Ok, I’ll give you that. Thanks, I think.

Norman: You’re most welcome, dear sister. So do you have any other photos people might like? Elsa: As a matter of fact I do. Mom found a new cactus plant that didn’t seem to mind the cold or snow. Norman: Yeah, mom won’t let me remotely near those plants. I prefer plants with soft leaves but it is rather pretty if I say so myself.

Flowers

 

Norman: Why not show one last photo of another iris we pass on our walks? Elsa: Happy to oblige. You know this sharing the Nature Friday thing isn’t so bad with you. You’re a good boy, Norman. Thanks for letting me have the last pic.

Flowers

Norman: Heh, heh…I’m actually going to get the last word/pics by sharing that mum received an award this week when we visited hospital staff and patients. She was quite shocked to see she’s logged over 500 hours since she embarked on being a pet therapy chauffeur. Even though the majority was with her beloved Sam, I think it still touched her. But we all know who does the real work, don’t we? Elsa: You’re going to pay for this, dude.

Norman

Pet Therapy

 

Norman: So worth it, little sister. Sooo worth it.Norman

Ranch Hands {in unison}: We hope you enjoyed our pics of Nature in all her gore and glory. She can sometime exact a heavy toll for sharing her beauty with us. We hope you make sure to get outside and enjoy some of it this Memorial Day weekend. Have a safe and happy ‘howliday’ as the unofficial start of summer begins.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 13, 2022

Ranch HandsHappy Friday! Norman and Elsa here to help Mum out by sharing some nature from around the ‘Hood. Friday is generally the day most of us look forward to as it’s usually the gateway to a relaxing weekend spent with our families, many of whom work weekdays. Today would be the same, unless of course you happen to have friggatriskaidekaphobia-that irrational fear of Friday the 13th. The good news is today is the only Friday the 13th in 2022 and since it is a Friday afterall, it’s better than any Monday whatever, right? Did you know that Friday the 13th occurs whenever a month begins on a Sunday? All well and good but today is also Nature Friday around Blogville so we’re here to share the beauty of nature, and we’re not going to worry about crossing paths of black cats, walking under ladders or broken mirrors. Elsa: “Cats…where?!” Norman: “Nevermind the cats, Ninja”…let’s just join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard to see what’s happened lately naturewise in the Mile High City.

It was another windy week but that reality won’t stop us from sharing unusual gardenscapes this week from around our ‘Hood.

Gardens in the metro area are as diverse and fascinating as the people who tend them. Elsa: You mean weird, don’t you? Norman: “Well that’s somewhat rude to say. I like to think of them more as creative souls, expressing themselves. They can range from meticulously maintained flower beds at the Denver Botanical Gardens to pint sized plots on teeny lots with monstrous mansions on them and everything in between. Let’s take a closer look, shall we? Here’s an example of a perfectly tended bed from DBG. Notice the symmetry and formality?”

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Tulip bed near the front entrance to the Denver Botanical Gardens

Elsa: “Yeah, yeah, but where’s the flower bed with bunnies?” Norman: “Oh, for heaven’s sake.”

One of the things we keep our eyes peeled for when we’re out wandering about are unusual plants and whimsical garden decor. Elsa: “Not me, I’m looking for bunnies and squirrels you big oaf.” Norman: “Ugh…focus, please!” We came across a small group of trees that just blew mum away with its ‘camouflage’ bark. American Sycamores are stately trees with unusual looking bark. Norman: “They smell nice.” Elsa: Everything has a nice smell to it where you’re concerned. Sometimes I think you’re a Bloodhound, not an Old English Sheepdog.”

Tree
American Sycamore Tree

Mum always manages to find unusual sights on our walks. She likes to check out those gardeners who are clever and original. For some reason, she’s begun to notice of a lot of gardeners decorating their trees like this neighbor who lives around the corner from the Ranch. Norman: “Hey, if it’s a canine bulletin board, count me in.” Elsa: “Look at that weirdo face. I think a cat must have been here earlier this week.” Norman: {eye roll}.

Trees
Ponderosa Pine with Face

Some gardeners think whimsy should be part of their design. Norman: I thought I should investigate what this dog was sniffing until Mum said it wasn’t a real dog.” Elsa: “Yeah, there wasn’t even a treat in that hole or flowers in the pots. What kind of scam is that?”

Garden Decor
Hey, where’s the bunny?

Some ‘gardeners’ have more success with paint brushes than with trowels. A nearby neighbor paints ‘house tattoos.’ She guarantees her creations require no water and will always bloom.

Art
House tattoo by a neighborhood artist

Fairy houses are popping up everywhere, probably a sign of the housing crunch that’s rampant everywhere. The square footage may be minimal, but the cuteness factor runs large.

A newly constructed Fairy house

A neighbor who’s new to the block has a toddler and as they tell it, they’re often too busy trying to keep up with the little tyke, so they installed a small potted garden for flowers on their corner lot that is otherwise turf. Norman: I keep waiting to introduce myself to the dog named ‘Cat’ but haven’t seen him or her yet. Elsa: Cat??? Where? Why are you torturing me by bringing up mythical cats again?”

Flowers
‘Cat,’ the nice dog’s potted garden

Norman: It’s clear, Elsa sees gardens differently than me or mum. But we still hope you enjoyed some of the more whimsical gardens around our neighborhood. Elsa: “Yeah if anyone knows where I can actually find a cat or a bunny, please let me know. That stupid oaf of a brother can’t seem to dish on their whereabouts.”

Mum: Ok, you two, that’s enough. We hope you enjoyed our little tour with some of the different gardens around and liked the tour the Ranch Hands conducted. Just like gardeners here, their ideas are as different as night and day. Hopefully you will be able to spend some time outside this weekend looking for beauty from around your own neighborhood. Have a ‘pawsome’ weekend!

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾