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Pupcakes and Puppylove: Jersey turns 2

8 May

May 7 was a big day in the MFW household. No, we didn’t finish the barn, get new cows, or plant all the corn.

More important than that.

Yesterday this furry little fella turned two!

Jersey

Even though Dairy Man keeps reminding me that 2 is really 14 in dog years and Jersey’s getting older, it seems like just yesterday that he was a timid baby ball of fur adjusting to farm life.

I still view Jersey the dog as my fluffy little child …er… puppy. I love him just a little too much.

Need more proof? While Dairy Man was hard at work strip tilling the fields last night, Jersey and I celebrated his two years of life at a party with his aunt Amber and cousin Maggie.

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Can’t you see the family resemblance?

Jersey, like so many human children before him, had the misfortune to be born during planting season, harvest season, or summer.

Thus, he celebrated his birthday sans father figure. You really have to hope for rain if you want the farmers to come in for birthday cake.

But Jersey didn’t seem to mind once he was chowing down on a banana peanut butter pupcake.

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Yes. I am that crazy dog person who throws my pup a birthday party. It was delightful, complete with party hats, wrapped presents, guest goodie bags, and canine baked goods. Don’t judge me.

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Jersey and I are an anomaly in the farming world.

Most farm dogs live outside, chase cows, and inevitably meet untimely ends (by tractors, skidsters, cars, larger animals, etc.). But Jersey is not a farm dog. I watch him like a hawk. My pup sleeps next to our bed, has his own chair, and will live forever.

Dairy Man and his farming family think my puplove is a little crazy, but I’ve never been a normal farm wife.

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The key, DM, is to just accept it. And yes, that does mean I would like to revisit the doggy bowtie discussion. Jersey would look so dapper…

I’m Sorry I Compared my Dog to Your Baby

4 May

This topic has been a long time coming. We need to talk about it. It’s part of my therapy. This is for all of the people who roll their eyes at me and say, “Oh gosh, you’re becoming one of those people.”

Hello, my name is Jessica, and I am just a leeeettle too attached to my puppy.

If we all think back, I didn’t want a dog. During the days of commuting and zero free time, it was hard enough to keep the Dairy Man and I fed, clothed, and alive. Why add anything else to the mix? But Dairy Man wanted a furry best friend to chase cows.

So, on DM’s birthday, we welcomed a border collie pipsqueak into our lives.

Jersey was supposed to live in the kitchen for a few months and then move outside to become a farm dog. But, well, I fell in love.

The girl who was terrified of animals (yes, the girl who lives on a farm) slowly, inexplicably turned into a dog person. I read books about dog training; I started following dog blogs; I fed the pup far too many treats; I left insane schedules for my brother and sister when they dogsat.

My favorite is the direction that he isn’t allowed to bark at people, but “cows or horses are ok.”

As if this outlandish testament to my OCD pup-love isn’t enough, I’ve compiled a list of 10 reasons why I’m a crazy dog person. Please don’t judge me.

  1. I compare my puppy to my friends’ children. Seriously. The words “oh, Jersey did the same thing yesterda…,” have slipped past my lips before I could stop them. I know babies are different than dogs, I do. Humans, dogs, I get it. But I can’t help myself.
  1. It’s impossible for me to serve dinner without at least one dog hair sneaking in. I know it’s gross. I’m sorry.
  1. I kiss my dog. Before I leave for work in the morning, when I get home, before he goes to bed, when I’m overcome with love for the little guy … you get the idea.
  1. We are Mom and Dad. My parents are Grandma and Grandpa. My dad calls Jersey his grandpup. Despite the Dairy Man’s pleas that “He’s just a dog!” this dog is a member of the family.
  1. I leave the TV on all day when the pup is home alone because I can’t stand the thought of him getting bored or lonely. As if he really wants to watch Judge Judy or Passions. On the upside, he is getting very good at trivia thanks to Who Wants to Be A Millionaire.
  1. There are more pictures of my dog than myself on Facebook. He even gets his own album. 90% of my mobile uploads are of the dog. My brain can’t comprehend that there are people who might not find the artsy close-up of my pup’s furry face to be the most adorable thing they’ve ever seen.
  1. When I talk to him, I expect answers. In English. In the Dairy Man’s frequent absences, the dog is my closet confidant.
  1. When Dairy Man and I go away for the weekend, no well-intentioned friend or family member will do for our dogsitting needs. Jersey goes to Whiskers Resort & Pet Spa. He gets his own suite, complete with bed, TV, and a unique theme. He goes to playgroup. He gets a bath, blowout, and a haircut. I’m quite certain he’s the only farm dog that has been to a spa.
  1. In preparation for a certain pup’s first birthday (May 7!), I’ve spent a good amount of time researching pupcake recipes on Pinterest.
  1. I let the dog lick me on the mouth even though I know that HE EATS MANURE ALL DAY LONG (!!). Something is wrong with me.

I could go on, but I’ll try to cling to the shred of dignity I’ve retained. At least I don’t dress the little guy! Though these would be perfect for our future spawn (or, as you could probably guess after #4, Jersey’s future “brother” or “sister”).

I have to laugh at how things have changed. I’m teetering on the edge of crazytown, but I think I manage to walk the line. Jersey the dog is a part of our family.

I may be “one of those people,” but I love this ball of fur. Though if you ever see him wearing a stylish tweed blazer and a tie, please get me some help. Woof.

Losing my Shadow.

24 Aug

Yesterday was a sad day.

In some ways, I’m more of a country girl than ever before. It’s as though I’ve passed through some terrible rite of passage. But in other ways, I’m still just a tender-hearted city gal mourning the loss of my cat.

Early yesterday morning, feisty, loving, and fiercely loyal Shadow the cat was hit and killed by a car. This might not seem like a big deal to a lot of people, but it was a big deal to me. He was the first pet I’ve ever had. Unlike most rural folks, I didn’t lose two dogs this way during my childhood. I’ve never raised a piglet to adulthood and dropped it off at the slaughterhouse. I’ve never started up my car in the winter while a barn cat was sleeping in the engine. I’ve never had a pet, so I’ve never had a pet die. Heck, I cried when I ran over a bunny a few months ago. In a lot of ways, I’m still a sissy. And I’m ok with that.

Most people have this experience when they’re five; I’m having it at twenty-five. I feel like that intensifies the sadness. It’s been building up for a quarter of a century. But then I also feel like I’m too old to feel this way. Not sure I care.

I will miss seeing that ball of black fur racing towards me when I pull into the driveway. I will miss his presence during our dinners on the deck. I will miss watching him chase Jersey the dog around the yard. I will miss his stalkerish leering through the kitchen window.

A friend reminded me that Shadow was always a voyeur. He came and went as he pleased, stopping by our house long enough to eat some breakfast and take a nap on the deck. He freely roamed the farm and despite the dairy man’s many attempts, never enjoyed being held. But he was still a member of our hodgepodge country family (yes, I do include the cows) and he will be missed. Even my brother loved him.  You can see the family resemblance.

I promise I’m not a crazy cat lady. I don’t like cats. I just liked MY cat. Shadow weaseled his way into my heart (see this post) when I was feeling alone in a new home and a new town. For that, I thank him.

For now, I will coerce the Dairy Man to give Shadow a proper funeral/burial (no matter how silly he thinks it is) and imagine my cat with wings and a halo, terrorizing all the puppies in pet heaven.

Here’s to you, Cat.

A family of three.

26 Jul

I am the best wife ever. No, really.

A battle has been gently raging in our home for several months now. In one corner: a Dairy Man who wants a dog. In the other: a modern farm wife who doesn’t.

Until recently, the battle was at a complete standstill. In a marriage, if one person wants a dog but the other doesn’t, you really can’t get a dog.  You can’t just come home with a puppy one day and say, “Don’t worry, honey. He won’t affect your life at all.” It’s like having a kid. Both parents need to be on board.

And I was SO not on board.

Don’t get me wrong, I like dogs. I like petting other people’s dogs. I like playing fetch with other people’s dogs. I like taking other people’s dogs for walks. But I especially like sending the dog home with those other people.

Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a pet in my entire life, other than Jewel the 15-cent fish who only lived for 36 hours and a certain barn cat named Shadow. I’ve certainly never taken care of anything large or furry that might pee on the kitchen floor. I don’t have the foggiest idea how to care for a “real” pet. And yes, I’m the girl living on a 300+ cow dairy.

For a while, the Dairy Man and agreed to disagree. But after a while, his arguments started to get more convincing than mine.

MFW: I ‘m gone from the house for at least 12 hours every day! I don’t have the time to care for a dog or give it attention.
DM: We live on a farm! I can take him with me to work and check on him all day. He won’t ever be cooped up for too long.

MFW: I love my shoes and I don’t love cleaning urine off the carpet.
DM: The dog could live outside or in one of the barns! He/she wouldn’t ever have to come in the house.

MFW: It will be like having a baby.
DM: I don’t want a baby. I do want a dog. Besides you can’t teach a baby to herd cows.

The more the Dairy Man stepped up to take responsibility, the more my resolve weakened. So I made a decision. The Dairy Man’s birthday was in a few short days and I had the perfect gift. A little research found me a breeder. And a few deep, cleansing breaths later, I was ready. That’s how we ended up weaving through country roads on a Friday night looking for Baird Farm Kennels. The Dairy Man had no idea where I was taking him, but he was beyond excited when I told him, “You get to pick out your puppy!”

One million wife points earned instantly.

The Dairy Man made a connection and thirty minutes later we were on the way back north with a puppy in tow.

This is Jersey. He is a 10 week old Border Collie puppy with a sweet disposition and the cutest little crooked tail.

We tossed around a lot of names, but somehow “Jersey” stuck. Jersey like the cow, of course. (For all of you dairyites: yes, “Holstein” would have been more accurate name due to his coloring, but Jersey is a much cuter name. And we’re all about being cute.)

For now, Jersey will sleep in the kitchen. When he’s a little bigger we will turn him into a rough and tumble outdoor-lovin’, cow-wranglin’ canine. The Dairy Man will take him to work, slowly introduce him to cows (he is terrified of them at the moment), and become best friends.

Not to toot my own horn, but this may have been one of the Dairy Man’s best birthdays. And since the actual day is today, allow me to give a shout out to the DM:

Happy birthday, babe! Thank you for your encouragement, your strength, and your love. I love you and I love our new family. And I’m even starting to love the cows.

(Ps: check out the steers in the background of this picture!)

Multiplication.

15 Jun

A look outside my kitchen window this morning revealed this sight:

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have one cat. Only one. His name is Shadow and he’s my friend.

These two sheepish looking creatures are not my friends. But apparently Cat/Shadow has been socializing around the neighborhood and decided to bring some buddies over for breakfast.

Darn him.

On the upside, these two new cats are skittish and seem to have no desire to dart past my legs into the house every time I walk out the door. I wish I could say the same for a black feline who shall remain nameless. Once, he made it all the way to our living room before I was able to catch him!

So. Apparently math on the dairy works in an exponential fashion. One friendly cat + a bowl of food = three cats. I just hope the three musketeers are content with their clique (and feel no romantic inclination towards each other); otherwise I may find myself spending a fortune on cat food…

My Shadow.

12 Apr

I would be remiss to discuss my life on the farm without mentioning the cat.

Though the Dairy Man long ago dubbed this black ball of fur “Shadow” because he followed me around like a bedraggled puppy, I am just as likely to call him by his original name: “Cat.”

Cat came into our lives when we moved into our first house after getting married. The previous owners mentioned that there was a black cat that occasionally lived in the barn. For the first several weeks, we didn’t see a hair of him. But the Dairy Man saw signs of life near the barn, so he started leaving food out to see if he could coax the feline out of hiding.

To make a long story short, the cat showed up. He started eating our food. And, much to my chagrin, the Dairy Man kept moving his bowl closer and closer to our house. It’s not that I don’t like cats, but once this cat was our friend, he was our friend. He was waiting outside the door to terrify/trip me at 6:30 a.m. when I left for work. He came bounding from the trees whenever my car pulled into the driveway and would follow/trip me up the steps to the house and try to sneak in the door behind me. If I didn’t get out of my car quickly enough, he would sit directly outside the door and meow incessantly. Once he even climbed on to the hood of my car and put his paws on the windshield as if to say, “GET OUT AND FEED ME.” He was constantly annoying me, tripping me, terrifying me, meowing at me, or staring at me. People would tell me, “It’s not a big deal, he’s just being friendly.” But I knew he was evil. Those beady eyes followed my every move. I was a prisoner in my own house. Dairy Man affectionately called him Shadow. I indignantly called him “Dangitcat!”

Then, for no reason other than to distract him from my legs, I started feeding him. I discovered that if there was food in his bowl, he would leave me alone and I could walk to the house in peace. This discovery brought a level of begrudging tolerance to our relationship. I even started making him earn his supper—no food would be poured until he rubbed against my legs to acknowledge his subordinate role and gratitude.

Thus was my fatal mistake. Cat started to like me. I started to like Cat. I vehemently denied this fact to family and friends, but Cat had started to weasel his way into my heart.

A few months after I married the Dairy Man, we moved to a new (our current) house ON the dairy farm. We faced a dilemma: to take the cat or not to take the cat? On one hand, he was 100 percent an outside cat. People saw him all over the neighborhood. This was his turf, his home. We fed him, but he was perfectly able to fend for himself. Would he be happy on the new farm?

We feared he would try to run away from the new house, exposing his furry self to cars, cougars, and getting lost, so we left him. But out of guilt, I kept going back to the old house to feed him. I couldn’t leave him alone. So, one dark night, the Dairy Man catnapped our feline and brought him clawing and squawking to the dairy.

Since then, Cat has adjusted well. He appears to be the leader of a small group of wayward barn kitties and is seen all over the farm, as evidenced below:

Cat by the sliding door (watching us eat dinner):

Cat looking in the kitchen window:

Cat in the barn:

Cat has been here (poor car):

All of his creepiness aside, I’m glad that Shadow and I have worked out our differences. I might even like him just a little bit. But shhh, don’t tell.