Squish Squish – The Swamp That is Wisconsin

Rain. Rain. Rain. Mud. Rain. Mud. Rain. Mud.

You get the idea. It is so wet here in southern Wisconsin that it feels like we are living in a petri dish, designed to grow every plant disease known to man. Granted, it’s not like the monsoon rains I remember from coastal Alaska, but then, that area is classified as a rain forest. Its plant and animal life is adapted to it. Not true here.

I’ll illustrate by starting with a rather nice photo of our sunflowers in front of the barn.

And here’s a wider shot, complete with the squishy, black leaves from a mold/fungus/rot/alien monster plant eater that is found all over my garden now. (I also rather like showing the dark side of the garden, given the articles we all read about how social media presents an unrealistic view of the lives of others. Be assured that my garden, not to mention all of my life, has its share of ugliness, just like everyone else’s.)

And so, I look for beauty where ever I can find it, like in the photo of Baptisia, or False Indigo leaves in front of an aster.

And these hydrangea flowers:

Speaking of dark sides, I am a tad infamous at our house for forgetting to shut gates. I try, I really, really do, but then, the dark side takes over and I get distracted by the gazillion other things going on in my brain. Yesterday I went to grain the lambs and discovered that yet again, I’d forgotten to adequately close a gate, and some of the sheep got inside the main part of the barn. The gate only swings one way, and so they were trapped inside, away from the rest of the flock. Clearly they didn’t suffer too much, based on what used to be neatly bound hay bales in the lower left of the photo. (And check out that lamb on the lower left. What a lovely girl she has become! I am planning on keeping her.)

Speaking of sheep gone rogue, here’s a photo I took from friend Donna’s farm while helping to search for her lost flock of sheep. They were gone for several days in deep woods, but I’m happy to say they voluntarily returned yesterday. I took the picture with a cell phone whose lens probably needed cleaning off, but I rather like it’s slightly unresolved quality. Perhaps reminiscent of American landscape paintings of the Hudson River School in the mid-19th century? We didn’t find the sheep the day we searched for them, but what a lovely way to spend an afternoon!

Now that they have returned safely, I’m going to ask Donna if they came back looking like these lambs, clearly characters from a Stephen King novel.

Oh wait, these are my lambs with the light from the camera flash reflecting off of their tapetum lucidum. I liked the lamb portrait, and was going to correct their eyes into what we would normally see, but decided I rather liked their alien appearance. For reasons I can’t explain, I also am fond of the wisp of hay sticking out of one lamb’s mouth. Surely there’s an entire short story in there somewhere.

One last photo of an old and tattered zinnia flower, encapsulating the season . . .  Flowers fading, full fall colors not here yet:

MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Busy busy busy with dogs and vet appointments. Toots swerves between “Is it time to put her down?” to zooming around the house like a puppy, ears flapping like Dumbo, Jim and I laughing so hard our ribs hurt. Right now she’s getting acupuncture, medicine for congestive heart failure, blood pressure, a probable kidney infection, along with weekly B12/Zeel/chondroquin injections, and a list of supplemental foods/additives that I don’t have the energy to include. She’s developed what appears to be Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, barking at Jim or the wall for no apparent reason, so our next vet visit will include a discussion about Anipryl (or selegiline).

I’ve done less work with Maggie on sheep than I’d like, the weather has made it difficult, along with all the vet appointments. We have our second to last trial of the season coming up in Minnesota. We have three runs on the same course, which will be good for both her and me. With just a few days left, it’s not time to try to teach her anything new or work on fixing problems. Now is the time to let her have a good time and gain confidence, so that’s all we’ll do before we leave. Cross your paws for us!

Here she is facing down the flock, easing the into the barn (where they don’t want to go). Maggie is starting to understand how to use her power, and it’s a joy to watch. After I took this, M leaned forward just a touch, and the sheep turned and went into the barn.

I’ll keep you posted about the trial. Meanwhile, you and yours? Floods? (Where not?) 30 inches of snow? (Montana?) An endless drought? (San Antonio?) And most importantly, what skill is your dog just beginning to grow into?