May 2 2010

Wool, Sheep Herding & A Hidden Cemetery


It was a busy day for country things here in greater Sykesville, where the weather felt more like mid-August than the second of May. We started the day at the annual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival at the HoCo fairgrounds, billed as the nation’s largest. We saw every imaginable kind of raw wool, felt, and yarn in every imaginable form, including a number of beautiful finished products.

We browsed the livestock barns and watched part of the parade of breeds. The highlight, though, was the herding demonstration with border collies. Simply amazing beasts that were able to move a mini-herd of four sheep with precision wherever the handler directed. Great, smart, focused dogs. We’re thinking maybe we need to buy a sheep farm for our Blue.

I bought a super-duper tomato cage I couldn’t resist. It’s really heavy duty, an ingenious hinged design, and I got the “extender” so that it can be, like, 8’ tall. I love a challenge! Don’t dare ask me what I paid for it.

We had met some friends at the festival who stopped by the house for a quick cold drink. Then, after a brief nap, we kept a hiking date with some neighbors we had met at the Howard County Hospital emergency room (all ended well for all of us). They live directly adjacent to Patapsco State Park, and had promised to show us a small family graveyard they had found there.

Most of the hike was places we had already been, but we did go up to an old barn we had only seen from afar, which was an amazing log construction now frequented by teens who favor Budweiser. The graveyard was not far away, and had three impressive headstones, including one that was hand-chiseled.

Blue and our neighbors’ three dogs had a blast swimming in the river, chasing deer and generally romping in the woods. Blue was totally hot and tired. Near the end of the hike, he decided to lay down, yes, lay down in a little swamp pond. I thought we were going to be lucky and finish the hike with a relatively clean dog, but no luck. I had to give him a bottom wash when we got back.

Out in the garden, things are beginning to hop. We have peas, kale, spinach, lettuce, green beans, lima beans, turnips, beets, radishes, cucumbers, blue potatoes, hyacinth beans, zinnias, and gladiolus coming up. Tonight, we had our last salad with store-bought lettuce for a while. We have some beautiful Red Tiede, Cos, and Simpson Elite just about ready, and a bunch coming along behind them. I plan to put out tomatoes and peppers the second weekend of this month.

I have to admit, seed starting was a bust this year. I don’t think I’ve ever had poorer germination. Less than 50%, I dare say. Perhaps the basement was too cold, and I started too late in the greenhouse. In any event, the seedlings are small, but we should still have everything we need to plant.

Apr 9 2010

Swimming in the Patuxent


We have discovered that Blue LOVES to swim!  Good thing we live near the Patuxent River and a big chunk of the state park.   He becomes a maniac dog.   Only, we have to train him to agree to be recaptured when the fun is over.  Does he look muddy?  You should have seen his owner.  Blue River 2

Apr 2 2010

Branchwater Training Center


Last night, Roger and I went to Branchwater Training Center in Reisterstown ( to see what agility dogs do and how to get Blue started.  The dogs were organized by size, and each had two minutes to run either a pink or green numbered course.  While we were there, we met our hostess, Doreen Suchting, and we saw a little of her large operation.  All sorts of dogs were enjoying the course, from some larger Swedish Mountain dogs, to some very tiny Boarder Collies.  There were experts and novices.  It was fascinating.  One woman asked us where we purchased our perfect dog, and we told her Penn Oak Aussies( Small world!  We were talking to Rick Ziesing’s sister, Amy!  We talked about dog training, the new puppies at Penn Oak (that we wish we could have!), and dogs, dogs, dogs.

OK.  We’re on our way–first more obedience training.  Another new friend, Jan Collins, recommended that we play more training games with Blue.  This morning, I woke up with new resolve to work with Blue.  Well, we’ll see if it lasts beyond noon.  Thank goodness Roger is consistent.

Mar 28 2010

Saved by citronella


We’ve been working in the yard, trying to get ready for the annual Family Easter Egg Hunt.  Blue has been helping us, digging holes and barking up a storm.  The holes we can refill.  The barking is really driving us crazy.  Roger remembered that we have a citronella collar that we bought for puppy school.  Now, when Blue is in the yard, we use the collar.  It has a microphone so when Blue barks, it shoots a fine mist of citronella in front of his nose.  It doesn’t hurt–just smells funny and has an element of surprise. Total investment about $30.00  Now we have a beautiful yard and a quiet dog.  Life is good. (This is not our Blue–it is a less than perfect dog.  The photo is for illustration only.)pPETS-3757418dt

Feb 17 2010

You Lucky Dog!


Snow days make unique opportunities.  Yesterday, C.J. and I took Blue to a Puppy Play Day at You Lucky Dog in Eldersburg.  We were the first ones there and thought it would be a bust, but then the puppies began to arrive.  First we met Mrs. Kisses, an adorable yellow lab.  Then others arrived–Belle, Annie, and more.  By the time we had to leave, there were eight happy dogs visiting each other.  Here’s  what I learned from the experience:  (1)  Blue is only 5 months old, but he is more teenager than puppy.  These were all little fellows, and Blue looked like a giant.  (2) Puppy play is a great way to network with other dog owners–we met a woman who gave us great tips about an agility trainer in my own neighborhood!  (3)  Next time, I’ll bring some toys.  Blue was into everything in the store, and there were only toys that had to be purchased.  Not that I wouldn’t purchase them–my bill would have been about $200 by the end of two hours.

I need to search out more dog networking opportunities!  Blue was happy–even when he was getting his butt kicked by Annie, a tiny puppy with six big brothers at home.

Feb 11 2010

Cross Country Skiing with Blue


Roger was excited to try out his cross country skis, and the weather was right last night. Some neighbors had plowed earlier in the day, but there was an additional two inches of powdery snow on the neighborhood streets. I went along to supervise Blue. Cross country skis were an adventure for the puppy who couldn’t stop barking at the tips. Surely, this dog will need therapy after a winter like ours!

Feb 6 2010



Glorious blizzard!  Blue Dog and I went for a walk this afternoon and captured some snow photos.  I can’t believe how big Blue has grown.  Every time we go to the vet he has put on three or four more pounds.   I took some garden photos, too.  Roger ordered his seeds this week and is making the plan for starting seeds in the basement.  Shortly, our pool table will become a mini-greenhouse.  Speaking of greenhouses, ours has held up under the 24+ inches of snow.  Amazing.

Jan 18 2010

Two Paws Up, Frederick


TPU_storelogoOn a walk today with Blue, we stumbled upon this store with a friendly bowl of water outside the door.  Inside this tiny store, we found organic food, specialty treats, unusual dog toys and terrific hemp collars and leashes.  On our Carroll Creek and Baker Park walk, Blue met so many friendly dogs.  We can’t wait to visit Frederick and Two Paws Up again.  I just joined as a fan on Facebook or visit their website:

Dec 21 2009

Snow Day!


School is out until after the winter break!  There is no better Christmas present for me.  The Starego family came over today with pizza.  Nicole, Katie and I made our annual Christmas gifts for the family. (Surprise–not telling here!)  Katie overcame her fear of Blue long enough to be featured on the swing.  Life is very, very, good.

Dec 5 2009

Blue and Snow–All on Saturday


Unexpected?  Yes!  We received a call from our friends Leslie and Rick that the 12-week-old puppy, Blue, was ready for our home.  We made the trip to Wilmington, Delaware (a beautiful drive through the Brandywine Valley) and picked him up.  Already, Trixie and Blue are playing together, and the entire household has welcomed him.  He is cheerful and sweet-tempered.  Coincidentally, he romped in his first snowfall and chased snowballs all on our first day together.  Whew!  It’s 7:00 p.m. and I’m  exhausted!

I know, Mom.  This was unexpected.  Don’t worry.  (Well, OK.  Worry.)