Category Archives: Family

An email from my husband

This was just too good not to share verbatim.

Barney got into the ladies today. He could not have been in there more than 2 hours before I got him back into his pen and shut tight.

He did try to mount them all though.

He also hurt his nose, I think the ring got caught on the fence as he was scooting under it. Some blood and torn flesh.

I tried to clip the thing off but he screamed and ran, I should have waited until it healed. He’s depressed now.

What do other people do when they have a cold?

Love ya,



Replacement puppy

After Watson died, we decided we wanted to get a new dog relatively quickly.  As Will put it, it was just too sad looking at his empty bowls and bed all day. We knew we’d never feel the same way about another dog, but the next dog would be Alston’s dog – the one in all his childhood memories.  The search was on.

We started at the SPCA, but no one seemed to fit the bill.  We tried a basset hound rescue group, but the only dog available within 50 miles of us was already spoken for.  Lady became our rebound puppy, until that didn’t work out so well for the sheep. And then Will found a dog on Craig’s List.

His story and pictures reminded us a lot of Watson; another beagle who was found wandering and appeared to be well cared for.  He was likely a hunting dog that just didn’t work out, as so many abandoned hounds are in Central Virginia.  Based on his teeth, the age guesstimate is about a year.

For the first few days we couldn’t decide on a name, so we took to calling him New Dog, a nickname Alston immediately accepted.  Upon waking every morning he’d say “I go downstairs, see New Dog.”  We’ve since settled on the name Tuck, as in Friar Tuck… a true sidekick and perhaps a bit more adventurous than Dr. Watson.  Just what a farmer boy needs.

In some ways, Tuck is so much like Watson; same size, both curl up into the same beagle ball, wag their tails in the same desperate anticipation of people food.  But they are just dissimilar enough that I don’t feel like I’ve tried to replace Watty with Watty Light.  The basset in Watson added to his endearing  patheticness; those droopy eyes and jowls, his long ears, that log like trunk, his old-man-ness.  Tuck has wonderfully thick doggie eyeliner, a less neurotic disposition, a willingness to play with other dogs, and a lot of spots. Not so much an old soul as a willing companion.

And did I mention those beagle eyes?

Not my dog

Once we got back from Philly, after the whole Watson incident, our neighbor’s puppy started hanging around the farm.  At first, she and Scout would play chase along either side of the fence, and then Lady discovered that she could fit through the bars of the cattle gate if she just jumped high enough.  So now she sleeps on the back porch every night, curled up next to Scout.  She follows Will during his morning and afternoon chores.  She plays fetch with Alston.

She’s still not our dog.  That being said, she’s been the perfect rebound puppy.  I’m just trying not to get attached in case her rightful owners ever decide they want her to come home.  Unfortunately, I think she’s already pretty smitten with us.

Goodbye Watson

This weekend we were in Philadelphia for a wedding.  We used it as an excuse to have our first weekend away together since Alston came into existence, so we dropped the toddler off with my folks and headed to the city.  On Saturday night, we had dinner reservations at one of those places where you have to call a month in advanced.  We justified it as an early Valentine’s, late Christmas, now we live on a farm and don’t do this kind of stuff gift to ourselves.  A chance to act like the people we were before kids and a mortgage – financially reckless foodies.

The meal was amazing.  The textures, the flavors, I could go on and on, only I don’t remember most of it.  About two-thirds through the meal Will received a call from our farm sitter.  We never pick up our cell phones, but as it was about the time for putting ducks to bed, it seemed prudent.  When Will returned to the table he looked absolutely devastated.  Our dear beagle, Watson, was hit by a car.  Watson was dead.  Watson is dead.  The last thing I remember is muttering”No, not Watty” and then crying in a cab and crying back at our hotel.  I had to ask Will the next morning if we’d even paid for our  meal.  I don’t remember having phoned my mother to check in on Alston.

What I do remember is that I bawled like child, with absolute abandon.  I cried until my head ached.  He was only a dog, but…  He was our first pet, our practice baby, my endless protector while I was pregnant with Alston (even if it made walking him impossible as his 32 pounds of might tried to battle every pit bull we passed along the way), he endured the endless, tail pulling, climb on his back to ride him like a pony, tackle him with hugs affection of our son, who first called him Kit (before we ever had cats) and then called him Dog followed by Good Dog and finally Wah Wah.  As embarrassed as we were to admit it at the time, he used to sleep in our bed, pre-baby (practically on our faces if there was a thunderstorm).  He had even evolved into quite the little farm hound as of late, defending the poultry, chasing off stray dogs intent on said poultry, patrolling the property, or even just perched on the front porch surveying his new domain.  He had a job, and you could see the change that made in him.

When we picked up Alston on Monday morning, after being able to indulge ourselves in our grief in a way that probably wouldn’t have been possible had we the child or the farm to tend, we had to coax the boy to leave the endless land of attention that is Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  It took complete concentration to avoid saying “We have to go home and see Watson,” our usual bribe.

When we got back to the farm this afternoon, Alston’s first question once we were in the house was “Where Wah Wah go?”  I expected this, was even prepared for this (the plus side of having a school social worker for a mother is that she is awash in knowledge for just such an occasion).  I know he didn’t understand me when I told him he was gone, when I started quietly crying when I said that it was okay to miss him.  And I know he’ll ask me again tomorrow and the next day and at some point either I’ll get used to the question or he’ll stop asking it or maybe both.  But right now it sucks really bad.

I miss my puppy so much.

Embracing farm life, one shoe at a time

Normally this time of year I’d be eyeing stores for patent leather heels to wear to holiday parties.  This year, I bought the ugliest shoes I could find…

But man are they warm!

The new bedtime routine

We’ve given up on the ducks’ ability to care for themselves.  Instead of waiting patiently until they learn to use their house, each evening after putting Alston to bed, we head down to catch the three older quacks and stick them in the duck house with the three younger quacklings.  I’m armed with the flashlight, holding open the roof top door, while Will attempts to corner the ducks so he can grab one.  In a vain attempt at helping, I occasionally stick a foot out as a quack runs by, as if to trip him and make him easier to catch.  Turns out, you can’t trip a duck.  The whole ordeal takes about 20 minutes.

At the same time, Alston, in full toddler glory, learned how to catapult out of his crib, resulting in some significant changes to the farm house night routine.  For now, the crib mattress is on the floor, while I wait for the toddler bed guard rail to arrive.  So each night, after the usual bath and story, we’ve added a small battle of wits to the mix.  I get him down on the mattress and exit the room once I see him begin to suck his thumb.  The moment I shut the door, he then leaps out of bed and heads right for the door knob, which I am holding shut from the other side.  Crying ensues, he quits, I put a gate up outside his door and we’re all set…

… until about 3 AM, when he inevitably rolls off the mattress.  The six inch fall is enough to wake him up, so he pays that favor forward to me, and inevitably he ends up in our bed and I sleep with baby feet in my face.  Cute baby feet, but feet nonetheless.  As Will’s been battling (yet another) case of poison Ivy, he’s missed this adventure while shacking up in the guest room where he can itch to his hand’s content.

However, Will has his own bedtime terrors, involving any quack or squawk or unidentifiable animal sound.  So I frequently find him sleeping on the couch when Alston and I head down for breakfast, wearing his long wool coat in lieu of a blanket.

Needless to say, all involved are looking pretty tired these days.

In which I admit to being afraid of the country

Here I am, sitting in the office blogging away, when I notice an enormous spider spinning a web outside the window.  I need to admit that I am overwhelmingly afraid of spiders… as in stand on a chair and scream and point until Will disposes of them scared.  So far I’ve been quite proud of myself since the move, not abandoning my yard work when coming across a wolf spider, and largely ignoring the cobwebs that appear most mornings between my car and an azalea bush.  But this guy out the window right now is huge.

So I shout “hey Will, check out the size of this spider” to beckon him in from the living room.  And his response?  “You know, it’s going to get really spider-y here over the next month or so.”


He then follows up that doozy with “The guy who was cleaning out the bushes for the neighbor by the property line said he saw a baby copperhead today.”

I’ve decided against checking the mailbox tonight.  I have too much to do… inside.