A Dog For All Seasons

T is a real weather nut. She’s always checking the forecasts on her phone, has half a dozen apps on there that show her forecasts, current conditions, wind predictions, and radar. It’s cool. I get it. Weather is pretty interesting and does have a big impact on how we spend our days, especially living out here in the country.

For example, when I go out first thing in the morning, I might go for a little wander around the yard if it’s nice, check out who or what has wandered through the yard overnight, take my time. But, when it’s raining, lift-me-off-the-ground windy or just plain frigid, I’ll lift my leg for just enough time to relieve the pressure and hustle back to the door, praying that T or Nollind hasn’t gone off to make tea or some other such thing. “I’m back! Let me in!”

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Any weather is good weather for a cuddle.

T has weather apps that cover our winter destinations too but she doesn’t look at them nearly as often as here at home. You see, the weather down in southern Arizona is usually kind of predictable. Sunny and warm. To my way of thinking, predictable, especially when it’s sunny and warm, is a good thing, a very good thing.

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Just another boring winter day in Arizona. Sigh…

Now, here at home, where we live three-quarters of the year, the weather is never predictable and rarely boring. In fact, during this particular fall season, we’ve had all four seasons for the price of one.

September started off a lot like July and August were, hot and dry. It felt like the summer that just wouldn’t end. T and Nollind got more miles out of their flip-flops this summer than ever before. In fact, one of T’s weather sites said it was the hottest summer in forty years!

Fall arrived around the middle of September, with cooler evenings, a little frost here and there overnight, and the leaves drifting down off the trees. I love fall. We can walk at any time of day without getting overheated, there are lots of animals out and about for us to track, and evening cuddle time comes a bit earlier.

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A September walk in the hay field.

But then, just barely into October, winter arrived with a fury like I’ve never seen so early in the year. The temperatures dropped below freezing and the wind blew the snow into drifts that were way taller than me and hard enough for us to walk on. We’ve seen big storms out here on the prairie before, but never in October, not even in November. It was like we’d fast-forwarded two months and landed in the middle of a blizzard!

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Digging out.

The horses had to be brought into the shelter and blanketed, Nollind got the truck stuck and had to pull it out with the tractor, and I basically spent the whole day trying to avoid going outdoors. You’d be amazed how long I can hold it when there’s such a powerful incentive! Even just outside the door, sheltered by the caragana bushes that surround the house, the snow was swirling everywhere because of the very strong winds. One quick trip outside and I was soaked and shivering.

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The horses trying to stay warm by eating. I like their strategy!

Now, the next day was a different story. The snow and the wind had stopped and we went for a walk. There is nothing like a roll in fresh snow. It’s even better than green grass. I must have rolled a dozen times in our short walk around the property—just couldn’t stop. Of course, the snow didn’t last.

Once the sun was out and things warmed up to normal October temperatures, all that snow melted and made the grass turn green again.  It’s like spring! Don’t worry though, the horses aren’t fooled one bit. They’ll happily eat the pretend-spring grass but they haven’t stopped working on those winter coats they started on back in September. I should probably do the same.

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The last of the snow drifts (this one was five feet high!)

 

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The Dog Days of Summer

Apparently, this time of year was referred to as the dog days of summer by the ancient Greeks because they associated the hottest days of summer with the star Sirius, or “Dog Star”, and its rise just before the sun. I can believe that. It most certainly wasn’t because creatures covered in fur who have just a few sweat glands on our paws and cool off via panting are at all comfortable at this time of year. You’ve seen it. Dog on a hot day with its tongue on the floor. It may look like a big smile but, believe me, I’m not smiling.

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Yes. I know. It’s long.

 

Holy hot, what is going on this summer? It’s been hot almost every day since the beginning of July with most days out here on the farm rising above the thirty degree mark (that’s 86 Fahrenheit). Now I know it’s not Arizona or Australia kind of hot, but for many of us northerners, especially those of dressed in fur year-round, it’s just too hot.

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Morning road walk. Anybody have a bowl of water?

 

Teresa tries to get us out early for our daily walks, but even in the morning that sun seems to blaze into my black coat. Since the start of the heat, we’ve been walking along the canal so that we can swim and drink as much as we want to. And then they sprayed weed killer. Teresa’s not a fan of chemicals and won’t walk us down there until there have been a couple of good rains. I appreciate the consideration but, man, I sure miss the water when we’re baking in the hay field or down the road. Come on, rain!

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Rain dance in the hay field.

 

I went out with Teresa late this morning on a horse manure pickup mission. Thankfully, the area the horses had dropped most of their piles was near a shady spot where I could lie and watch. I said I went out with her, I didn’t say I went along to help. Not much I can do anyway other than supervise and I think I handled it just fine from fifty feet away in the shade. But, even with the shady vantage point, by the time we came in I was panting like a locomotive and seeking a little cool from the hardwood floor. I used to spend a lot of time in the basement during hot weather but, now that I’m getting on in years, I try to limit my trips up and down the stairs. Preservation, you might say.

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Maybe next time I’ll stay inside for horse chores.

 

On a positive note, Dictionary.com says that the Dog Days of Summer is “a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.” Well, at least I’m doing it right.

Making Hay

I’ve been here on the farm for thirteen summers. And almost all of those thirteen summers, Teresa & Nollind have been making hay. It started with a couple of acres and some old equipment, and has expanded into over half of our land, two other properties, and newer, flashier equipment.

What hasn’t changed is my supervision of the process. As a fellow four-legged, albeit a carnivore, the horses rely on me to oversee the production of their winter food. I let the humans do the heavy lifting, literally, but I am the brains behind the operation.

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Supervising the first load. They were a good crew so I didn’t have to watch them all evening, but I did wander over to check their work while they were having post-stacking drinks.

 

Teresa has her microwave testing process set up in the garage and she checks the moisture levels before they bale. They could just ask me. I’d give them a moisture reading with one sniff. But I hear it’s good to make your people feel empowered.

 

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Checking hay moisture. I’d say … 16%.

 

This week the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing across the prairie which makes for perfect hay drying conditions. There’s also an excessive heat warning for our area, which makes for not-so-perfect hay stacking conditions. Luckily, I have paws rather than hands, so am not well designed for picking up or stacking fifty-pound bales.

I was out checking the moisture on the second field this morning. Now that Teresa has confirmed the results of my nose test, Nollind is over there raking and they’ll be baling this afternoon.

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Canine approved – ready to rake and bale.

 

Me? I’ll wait here in the cool until my services are required again.

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My favourite place when it’s 30+ degrees outside.