Monday, January 11, 2016


Nearly twelve years ago I was out driving around one day and decided to stop at the Humane Society to say hi to the animals. This was a common practice back then. I'd stop in and go from kennel to kennel giving them scratches. I don't think I really intended on leaving there with a dog that day, but I did. In one of the kennels was a sweet looking retriever named Brandy. She was 9 months old and happy to see me. They brought her into a small room and she immediately climbed into my lap. She was fully grown so this was no easy feat. All I could imagine was her out frolicking with our golden retriever, Cisco, and so I brought her home. She never looked like a Brandy, so she became a Sophie. Sophie immediately assumed her role as Alpha dog and started bossing her new brothers around the second she set foot in the house. It's been that way for twelve years, except now she bosses all of us around.

She can be a real pain in the rear at times but she's part of the family. Over the years we've come to accept her idiosyncrasies. We know to guard our food at all times otherwise it will swiftly be plucked from our plate. There is a dedicated spray bottle full of water at the table for this specific purpose. A Sophie nose near your plate gets sprayed, oh how she hates the spray bottle. You can't leave her out in the yard or she will jump up on the window to tell you she needs to come inside. God forbid she's outside when neighbor starts shooting his gun (or canon) as she will break the window trying to get in. This is just the short list of nuances that come to my brain, but believe me there are pages I could write.

About a month ago we felt a lump on her neck. It was about the size of a chicken egg. This was right before Christmas and I told her we'd go into the vet after Christmas. Two weeks later it was the size of a goose egg. It was growing fast. So last week I took her in. The vet said it was most likely cancer and we'd need to get it off of her as quickly as possible if that was the route I wanted to take. The other route would be to put her down. The surgery was under $300 bucks so we signed her up to have it removed. He bumped her to the top of the surgery list and got her in two days later (last Thursday).

I've got to be honest, I didn't think she'd make it through surgery.  In my head I gave her about a 20% chance of coming home. I cried when I dropped her off and said my goodbyes. The kids gave her a hug before going to school, we talked about what might happen. I prepared them so it wasn't a huge shock.

Then, by golly, she made it through surgery. They worked and worked and got it all. I love our vets.

What I wasn't prepared for is how she would look when she came home. For them to remove this giant tumor from her neck, they had to cut a lot off. The scar goes from the bottom of her neck to the top. It's gruesome. Greta was scared of her for about a day.

Sophie is slowly recovering. She sleeps a lot (as most old dogs do). This weekend she started playing again with Cody which was good to see. They love to go into the couple of acres behind the house and do their morning perimeter run. It made me smile to see her loafing along. We're not ready to be without our Alpha-Sophie.....although we might need to rename her Franken-Sophie at least for the time being.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Chicken Butler

My husband has been one busy man over the holiday break. He had two weeks off and spent the majority of it working on something for me (what a sweet man I married). The dining room table was covered in wires, circuits, soldering irons, twinkling lights and humming motors.

 He got to utilize so many of his gadgets for this project, I think he was in hog heaven. The 3D printer, the table saw, milling machine and the lathe all got used. Once he was done inside putting all this stuff together (I'd like you to believe I know what all this stuff is, but I don't), he headed out to the shop to work on the other half of the project.

Still no guesses? I'll help you out. He made me an automated chicken coop door opener. You see, the chickens like to head outside at day break and I like them to be shut away safe at sunset. Some days I'm not on time and this contraption will help them be shut away safely.

I've got to say he outdid himself on this. It is very cool. It doesn't just open and shut the coop door, it also turns on and off the coop light at sunrise and sunset. There is also a webcam set up so I can go to a webpage and check to see if all five of the hens are safely inside before the door closes. The door is also programmed to open and close with the changing times of sunrise and sunset (earlier in the winter, later in the summer). He really did think of everything. It will make my life a lot simpler which is always appreciated. Below is small video of it in installed in the coop (disregard the messy coop, it doesn't get cleaned much in winter). Thanks Hubby, you rock!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Last Hurrah

Having the kids home for two weeks was nice. I'm not sure any of us put on real clothes the entire time. Jammies and fleeces were fine with us. In fact before yesterday I'm not sure we all got in the car together for the entire break. But since they were returning to school today I decided to take them out for one last hurrah. We brainstormed and picked a favorite restaurant before going to see Alvin and the Chipmunks: Road Chip. It was cute, although I remember "resting" my eyes for a small portion of it.

Then on the way home I decided Greta needed a hair cut and since we were there I'd get Wesley one too. He's never gotten a "real" haircut from a professional hair dresser. I've always cut his hair but was curious how my haircuts hold up to a professional one. Turns out they are pretty similar. Only difference I could tell was at the neckline. She did a great job shaping it, I'll have to work on that. I'll probably just keep trimming it at home. Greta on the other hand, her hair looks so fresh right out of the hair dressers. They do a nice job of trimming her curls, something I've never gotten the hang of.

Happy New Year everyone!