Pupcakes and Puppylove: Jersey turns 2

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.

DSCF4579

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.

DSC05427

DSCF4560

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.

DSC05418

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.

943478

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…

Wallowing, Vegging, and Dogging

All right, friends. I’ve failed you.

I’m sure you’ve noticed. All of the people who read this blog faithfully (there are at least two – thanks, Mom and Dad) have undoubtedly noticed the lack of cow, corn, and canine tales. I’ve still been posting plenty of pictures of Jersey the dog to my five lucky followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but I have neglected the written word.

“Not cool, MFW,” you might say. “Man cannot live on ‘Omg! Lol! What a cute puppy!’ alone. He needs cows. Machinery. Detailed farming explanations.”

That’s not going to happen today. I blame corn harvest and self pity. Plus, I’ve already donned my sweatpants. Nothing productive can happen while wearing sweatpants.

I shouldn’t complain too much. At least I’m not the one out there farming from 6 a.m. to midnight. My Dairy Man amazes and exhausts me. I would be a terrible (and excruciatingly whiny) farmer.

During corn harvest the Dairy Man leaves at sunup and doesn’t crawl into bed until I’m long asleep. I’m a lone wolf for a few weeks and this phenom plummets me into bachelor-like behaviors. I eat cereal and hummus for dinner, walk around the house in my skivvies, and watch an embarrassing number of Say Yes to the Dress episodes (Netflix streaming will be the death of me). There is no one to judge me or the socks I haven’t picked up yet. A few husband-free weeks would make some gals hyper-productive, but I tend to go the other way. Rather than write about corn, I grab a giant container of Greek yogurt and a large glass of wine, plop in front of the tube, and feel sorry for myself.

I also blame my writer’s fatigue. I write (and write and write) at my snazzy new job all.day.long. Press releases, articles, web copy, marketing copy, tweets. I love it. It’s challenging, frustrating, exhausting, and invigorating. But when I get home at night, the thought of hunkering down at my computer to do more writing makes me twitch. It also makes me eat a lot of salsa. Or maybe that’s the guilt.

Speaking of guilt, I’ve got a depressed puppy on my hands. Jersey the dog has been spending a lot of time in the house these past few weeks. He usually goes to work with the Dairy Man, but not during corn harvest. Jersey gets carsick in the tractor and DM doesn’t like to have him around all of the heavy machinery. When I should be blogging, I’m giving the furry child my undivided attention. We walk, we play fetch, we learn new tricks, we take naps on the couch, we guffaw over dog-shaming.com, we eat a lot of peanut butter, we ogle at the neighbor’s heifers.

Between wallowing, vegging, and dogging, when’s a girl to do anything productive?

Next week I will drop some thrilling corn knowledge on you. I promise. For tonight, there is a furry fellow and a glass of red calling my name.

Thank goodness harvest is almost over.

I’m Sorry I Compared my Dog to Your Baby

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.

The Road Less Traveled

As many of you already know, Michigan has been enjoying some delightful weather lately. This past Sunday was a beaut of a day. The sun was blazing, the sky was impossibly blue, and the temperatures were in the 40s. After a mid-afternoon nap, the Dairy Man, Jersey the pup, and I shook off the grogginess and headed out for a long walk.

Typically Jersey only gets to walk with one parent at a time. Dairy Man entertains the pups during the day and I try to take him on outings after work or on the weekends. It’s a rare occasion when he gets the chance to cavort around the dairy with both of us. Naturally, this thrilled him.

I have always loved these “family walks.” (As a note, the Dairy Man doesn’t like me to refer to the J-man as our “family.” In his mind, dogs are dogs and people are people. We’re the masters and Jersey is the subordinate. But I love that ball of fur like a baby. He has me wrapped around his little paw. And this is my blog.) Our walks are a rare time without distractions —no TV, no computers, no chores— it’s a time just to BE. We breathe clean air, marvel at the landscape, and really connect.

We also take turns holding the leash so that our shoulders are equally dislocated. That Jersey’s getting too strong for his britches.

It is on these walks that we lay out our plans and dreams. Something about the brief departure from our busy life catapults us into introspection. As we walk through the open space between the milking parlor and the road, the Dairy Man plots future barns. As we stumble through the grassy clumps behind the steer barn, I talk about writing, art, and family. As we climb the tall hill beyond the dairy, Jersey eats grass and rolls in unidentified piles of poo (ok, not all three walkers are catapulted into higher thoughts).

Each time we walk, I feel like I’m seeing our farm for the first time. Somehow there is always an angle I missed, a place I’ve never stood before.

This is the time when the Dairy Man hashes out his hopes and dreams for the dairy. He paints pictures of a bigger herd, new barns, and new machinery. His eyes glow and his words are satiated with optimism. In these moments, I am reminded anew of the ambitious man I married. I know enough about farming at this point to anticipate that his dreams will not come without terribly hard work, but as we tramp through the long grass, I fully believe that he can accomplish them.

In our harried life of farm and family, these walks give the Dairy Man and I a moment to connect, to get centered. We feel blessed, young, and hopeful.

I don’t think I’ll ever get the mud off my boots from these walks. Nor do I want to. My boots are destined to tromp around these farmlands, and so I am.

A family of three.

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!)