Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

The Importance of Friendship

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A friend of mine at work, Bob, sent me this adorable picture of his childhood dog and one of their pet chickens last week.    I thought it was cute at first glance but, the more I looked at it, the more I realized that the photo had captured a much more interesting moment in time.  The dog doesn't look aggressive and the chick doesn't seem scared.  Doesn't it seem like the dog and the chick are just calmly regarding each other like they're old friends?  I wonder what happened a moment after this was snapped?

You know, the older I get, the more I realize that it's the people in your life that really matter.  Not the stuff you accumulate, not how big your house is, not how new your cars are or the 72" flat panel TV.  I was lucky enough to be raised by grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and they never bought into the "keeping up with the Joneses" idea that now permeates through our society now.  They saved butter bowls to use as Tupperware and even saved tin foil.  I am forever indebted to them for teaching me the value of a dollar.

However, I didn't totally escape the pull of materialism, though.  In college, I thought I had to wear the right clothes or drive a newer car.  What a bunch of hooey!  When I hit my 30's, I started to realize how ridiculous it was that we had to have a new car every 5 years.  We were just throwing money away - money that we could save to retire early.  The miserly bug had bit me again.  But I also started to realize that the people in my life were even more important - family, good friends, bad friends, and even some of the toxic people at work have at least some redeeming qualities.  Like the chick in the picture, I started regarding the people in my life with a new attitude.

Yesterday, I had the news on in the background and someone said something that really made me think.  It went something like this: 

  • Step 1.  Take out a sheet of paper and write down the biggest thing in your life that is making you unhappy.  Write it as a sentence like "I am happy because.......".  Could be a situation, a person, money issues, a personal shortcoming, etc.
  • Step 2.  Put it in an envelope and then put it somewhere for a few days.
  • Step 3.  Open the envelope and, first, resolve to do something to eliminate that from your life.  Then come up with a plan for doing just that.

Why is this important?  Because most people avoid conflict like it's the plague.  We humans tend to take the easy way out.  But why continue to have something in your life if  it makes you miserable?  Do something about it TODAY!

I'll give you my example.  There's a guy at work that I have to work with and he happens to be a complete jerk.  Everyone he works with or works for him pretty much agrees.  Heck, he's even admitted it in a meeting.  This guy has irritated the crap out of me for years and poor J. has had to listen to my rants when I get home from work about what a cretin this guy is.  But I have resolved to not let that happen any more.  I'm simply NOT GOING TO LET HIS ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOR NEGATIVELY AFFECT ME.  Because I can only control my attitude - he has to control his.  My plan?  To become his boss.  :-)

Don't worry, be happy!

I've shared this post with this week's Weekly Top Shot hop.  If you want to see some fantastic photos, go check it out!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

This ain't no party!

This ain't no disco!

 This ain't no fooling around!

The house we're working on is two doors to the right of this house!

Sorry....for some reason, I'm channeling The Talking Heads this morning.

There was quite a bit of excitement last night and not excitement of the good kind. J. and I were having a painting party over at the old Victorian and trying to finish up the last couple of rooms when the caterwauling from a stream 4 HUGE firetrucks streamed past the front window. All lights and noise, they just kept coming. Then an ambulance and several other KCFD trucks. And they stopped just outside the house!

I was absolutely terrified that our house was on fire, so we ran outside only to find that it was the neighbor's house two doors down. The entire 2nd floor was engulfed and smoke was streaming out of the windows and the roof. The firefighters were so fast that they had already gotten inside and busted out all the windows on the second floor, and were chopping holes in the roof.

Our neighbors were in the house when it started - apparently from a space heater that fell on top of a pile of clothing. One woman fell down the back staircase trying to get out and, fortunately, that was the only injury.  We'll have to take a look at it in the light of the day today, but my guess is that this old house isn't fixable without some serious cash.  It will probably be torn down but, having looked at buying it ourselves and seeing the state that it was in, that's probably not a bad thing.

We All Need to Be Appreciated

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Why don't we start our post today with an interesting factoid that you use to amaze your friends and family with your command of all things obscure.  Continuing on our squirrel theme from yesterday's post: 

Did you know that squirrels are either left-handed or right-handed?

I have to confess that I have never thought about that before.  But apparently it's true.  You can supposedly tell if they are a southpaw or not by looking at the way they spiral around a nut to break it open.  If you find yourself with a squirrel and nothing better to do, check it out.

By the way, October is Squirrel Appreciation Month.  So let's celebrate with a couple more fun facts about our furry little vegetable thieves.

  1. Everyone knows that squirrels eat nuts, and they're particularly busy this time of year harvesting that staple of their diet.  But they also commonly eat seeds and fruit (like my tomatoes!!). However, if their main food sources are unavailable, they will also dine on bird eggs, insects or even animal carcasses.
  2. Squirrels also need a salt source to survive.  They will often search along roads for places where snow and ice may have deposited the salt their diet requires. (Cranky Puppy here:  if I catch that little bushy-tailed thing swiping my 'maters again, he's gonna get some rock salt!)
  3. Squirrel teeth grow continuously. In fact, their incisors grow six inches per year. Since their teeth receive constant wear from cracking open nuts and chewing on tree branches to sharpen and clean their teeth, they get filed down to an appropriate length.  (Cranky Puppy here:  This one is scary and I wonder if anyone has ever considered making a scary movie out of it. You know - like Hitchcock's "The Birds"? "The Squirrels!!!!!" )
  4. Ever wonder how they remember where they put their nuts?  (*giggle*)  After squirrels break a nut open, they clean it by licking it or rubbing it on their face before they bury it. This scents the nut and makes it easier for the squirrel to find it later.
  5. Why are squirrels so...well...squirrely?  Have you ever had one dart out into the street in front of your car and run around erratically?  It is believed that the squirrel is attempting to confuse the oncoming vehicle. Sadly, it doesn't usually work.  It's said that most squirrels in urban environments are struck by a car before their first birthday.  Or shot by gardeners protecting their tomatoes. 

All kidding aside, I do love the silly little critters.  My grandmother had a pet squirrel that liked to red around in her bouffant hair-do (think 50's).  I fondly remember nursing some baby squirrels to adulthood when we cut down some disease-ridden Elm trees in our backyard and discovered we had inadvertently made a family of squirrels homeless. And then there was the time that I was chattering away at one of them in the front yard and he went up in the tree and started dropping things on me.  I suppose I deserved it.

So how about you?  What will YOU do to celebrate Squirrel Awareness Month?

Naughty Squirrel!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I spy...

A Naughty Squirrel....

Sitting atop my squash trellis and helping himself to a late season tomato.  

Did he drop the tomato when I got closer to take his picture?  Oh no, not Naughty Squirrel.  He looked at me as if to taunt me, and then scampered down the trellis and over the fence with his prize still in his mouth.
Naughty squirrel!
Did you know that it's Squirrel Appreciation Month in October?  No?  How about the fact that squirrels are either left or right-handed?  No?  You can find out more in my next post.  And, by the way, this post is part of this week's Barn Hop.  Go check out what other folks are up to at the hop!

Scenes from a Fall Day

Friday, October 19, 2012

Oh, my  it's been awhile since I posted!  Unfortunately, I apparently grossly underestimated the little things that we needed to do on the house and we're still working away.  One more week, though... one more week and we'll be done!  Then the appraisal and the meeting with the realtor and we'll evaluate where we are. I still promise to give you pics....I just have to find time (and a time when I'm not utterly exhausted) to get it all together.

In lieu of hold music while you're waiting for me to finish renovating and get back to the business of chick wranglin' and tomato wrestlin', I thought I would show you some pics from the beautiful fall days we've had this week.  Count me surprised since we endured a drought all summer. I really thought we wouldn't see any fall color at all.  Mother Nature never ceases to surprise, does she?

A beautiful tree-lined street one street over from us.  Who put that telephone pole there!?

My poor cell phone just can't capture how gorgeous these maple trees are.  The reds are much more brilliant in person.

And soon these leaves will join their brothers and sisters in blanketing the Earth against Winter's steely cold grasp.

But not today, says the Rose.  It's a beautiful, warm, sunny fall day!

Visitors in the Night

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Finn, our middle furbaby and self-proclaimed guardian of the yard, is quite pleased with himself this morning.  As J. took the dogs out last night for the last time before bedtime, they all took off like a shot as soon as they hit the threshold.  Much barking, arfing, and gnashing of teeth ensued.
The reason?  The tree in our backyard ....

Look really hard and you'll see the ringed tail. 
*cue the Count from Sesame Street* 
That's ah-one! One raccoon in the tree....ha ha ha!

Two!  Two raccoons in the tree... ha ha ha!

Three!  Three raccoons in the tree... ha ha ha!
Believe it or not, there were a total of four of these young raccoons that had ran up the tree when they heard the dogs bark.  Tiny little 20 pound dogs that were smaller them.  They looked to be young coons - maybe 1 year old or so.  They weren't too happy with us shining lights at them or milling around the tree.  And, believe it or not, another raccoon tried to run from behind our neighbor's house and up the tree.
I normally like raccoons, but not with the hen house less than 100 feet away.  Even though there's a chainlink fence protecting the coop and run, there's a space on the top of the door that is open and could allow a raccoon to squeeze through there.  We've been leaving the coop door open, so if a raccoon could get into the run, they could go through the pop door and have chicken dinner.  We'll be closing that door from now on and will be patching in some chain link above that door tonight.
This post has been brought to you by the number 5.

Fall Arrives

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Photo by Brian Folkers.
It arrived with a punch to the gut, that is!  Here I am with tomato plants just covered in late season tomatoes (can you believe it!) and we touched 33 degrees last night.  A really cool-looking cold front rolled through late on Thursday and yesterday only got up in the 50's after a week of highs in the 70's and low 80's. 

The front looks like a giant boomerang in that picture doesn't it?  From the house, it looked like a giant white tootsie roll stretching as far as the eye could see. Good thing J. and I were cozy  inside fixing walls and hanging light fixtures while the carpet installers did their thing on the second floor.  It smells so new and fresh up there!

So, for tonight, those mean ol' weatherfolks are predicting we'll get our first freeze.  I guess I'll have to take time out from building the front porch railing today to shut the windows on the hen house and cover the strawberries and tomatoes.  We've been so busy trying to wrap up this renovation, that I haven't had any time to devote to this blog or to get ready for cold weather.

Thank you for being patient as we finish this project up.  I promise I will be back full-time next week with some great before and after pictures!


The Old Granary and Mill

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

For this week's Barn Charm hop, I thought I would feature something a little different, but still related to the whole barn theme.  When we were in Jamesport a couple of weekends ago, I couldn't help but snap some photos of the granary\mill and the farm elevator and silos across the highway from each other.

I love how the camera captured the sun's rays on what was a beautiful day.  Isn't that a cool building?  The bottom had been converted into someone's house and children were laughing and playing outside.

That's the Farmer's Elevator in case you can't read that faded paint.  This building isn't in use any more except by kids looking for a place to graffiti.  It's still a cool building, though.

Standing at the bottom of the silo looking skyward.  I love the texture in this picture, with the steel bands and rust patterns reaching for the blue sky.
And here's a look at the whole thing put together.

To tell you the truth, there were so many wonderful photo opportunities in Jamesport that I was overwhelmed!  I'll be prepared when I go back for the quilt auction on the 13th, though.  So prepare to be Jamesport'd again!  ;-)

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