Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Raw Deal

Lately I haven’t been doing much. The title of this blog was originally Range to Range, because I was sick and spending less time out on the ranch riding and helping move cattle to being instead in the kitchen, cooking meals.

homemade fettucini pasta

homegrown chicken


from the garden

homemade pepper jack cheese

butter pats

fresh eggs

fresh milk with heavy cream


homemade sour cream and butter

making cream cheese

making mozzarella

That went pretty well for a long time as I learned many, many, many new dishes, acquired some wonderful gadgets that made it all worthwhile and thoroughly enjoyed making bread, homemade dairy and cheese, and processing our own meats. I have always missed riding though, I guess that will never go away.

Anyway, as things have progressed, I am now doing less cooking as well. Not to say we have given up completely…I am still hoping and praying for deliverance from this condition, even if it is only in the form of some much needed assistance.
Hopefully, from some folks in particular.

Meanwhile, the biggest change we have gone through lately has been changing Heath (and the other dogs as I am able) over from store bought kibble (which often has recalls and deaths due to bad ingredients usually from China) to raw food. Raising extra chickens, rabbits and an occasional lamb, deer or whatever may become available makes it possible. Heath however is a bit of a critic. (His breeder calls him “the Prince” bahaha) We’ve had to suffer a few fasts until he decided that eating chicken is not beneath him…or duck. Now that he is enjoying his meals with gusto (which he never, ever did on any kind of kibble) I am making his treats as well.

Because originally feeding him chicken parts, such as a drumstick or thigh, he would actually remove the meat and eat only the bones (raw bones are ok for dogs to eat, but never, ever, ever bones that have been cooked or smoked as they will splinter and damage their intestines) we had to buy a heavy duty meat grinder and feed him ground meat, with the bone ground in as well. Rule of thumb, as I understand it, is a raw fed dog needs percentages of meat, bone and organ in order to eat a balanced diet. There is a lot of information on the internet if you need more detail.

The grinder easily grinds up all the chicken, duck and rabbit meat with bones so that problem is solved. Heath doesn’t like liver though. So making use of the food processor and dehydrator, we solved that problem. He loves dried liver treats!! I also dehydrated some of his duck to make treats, so now instead of ordering expensive dog food rolls to cut up and use for training, I can use healthy food for him which is much less expensive and has no additives.
I dried some sweet potatoes for him as well, but Heath is not a fan.

Since we have the grinder, and the grinder came with a sausage stuffing attachment, we decided to pull the 18 lb. pork shoulder out of the freezer and make some sausage. With a “kit” that had all the spices and casings, we made 5 lb of Italian, 5 lb of cheddar bratwurst and 5 lb of brat. It was a little bit of a learning process to stuff the casings, but we nailed it and it all came out pretty well. So well, in fact, that we just purchased a large bucket of casings and plan to make some other sausages from scratch, saving more money and having more flavor. It ought to be fun.

IN between, I keep trying to get stronger, Heath keeps trying to keep me going. He wakes me up daily between 6:30 and 7, by first gently touching his nose to my face, then softly placing a paw on my arm. He waits patiently until I either get up, or turn away from him. He knows if I turn away, I absolutely, positively need more rest and he gives me another hour or so. On the days I am very poor, he stays close enough to always be touching me, sleeping against my legs or alongside me. Other days, he engages me with play, bringing me toys to throw, or tug for him. If that isn't enough, he brings me his treat bucket for either a free treat or a game of “click”.

He is there for me daily, handing me things I drop, or cannot reach on the ground, putting away his own toys, helping with laundry, opening the back door, dragging me a blanket or pillow and various other little things I used to take for granted. He is my only company and companion each long day while TheMan is at work, 7 days a week. I’m not sure I could do without him. We’ve been working lately on getting him to accept riding on the 4 wheeler. Being trapped in a house all the time starts to feel pretty awful, especially when there is so much beauty outside here. Being able to take the 4 wheeler on my better days would be a huge relief but Heath has to agree to ride with me, as he can’t run all the way or we’d never get anywhere. He’s getting there slowly, but surely.

And we keep on….

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A Little Mexi-Can Food


Things have been a little sketchy, but I do what I can, when I can. Heath has been doing a remarkable job as a Service Dog, particularly considering how seldom we go to town, when he has to perform around crowds and in strange places. But he’s been really consistent about being “on” when he has his vest on. He’s getting much more comfortable wearing “boots” which are required when it’s really hot out, as pavement will blister his feet, easily hitting 120 degrees or more on a warm day. He’s even been working for TheMan at home, opening doors for him (and myself, of course) picking up stuff we drop and slowly learning the names of things I need him to bring me when I am not well (blankets, pillow, tv changer, medications). He’s also very attentive and darn good company.

I’ve lately had a hankerin’ for Taco Salads and Burritos and we got a 1/2 beef in the freezer recently, so I canned 10 qts of “Mexi-meat”. I started having the roasts from the front quarter made into stew meat, as I can a lot of it and that way I don’t have to cut it up, or pre cook it. It’s made things a LOT easier. I raw can some of the stew plain, as we heat it up with BBQ sauce for great BBQ Beef Sandwiches. It’s a no-work no-mess meal that way and only takes minutes to prepare. The Mexi-meat, however, is a favorite, adapted from AR’s Charleys Slow Cooker Mexican Meat.

10 qts worth
For canning, I quintupled the recipe. It goes like this:



7 packages of stew meat
5 tsp salt
5 tsp pepper
2-3 diced onions
3 cans of diced chilis
5 tsp cayenne pepper
5 tsp chili powder
5 tsp garlic powder
20 oz of Chipotle Tabasco Sauce (purchased in 1/2 gal on Amazon)

Dump meat in large roasting pan
sprinkle all ingredients on top, then mix well.
Heat in 250 degree oven until warm enough to put in hot jars.
Prepare canning jars, fill with mixture, splitting juice among the jars.
Place in pressure canner and process for 90 minutes per quart.

This is some great and yummy stuff!!

I’m selling half of the breeder rabbits and their cages to make life a little easier. We have a large grinder ordered to process chicken and rabbit to make food for the dogs and hope that will make things easier as well.

Welp, it's killing me to smell this and not partake, so, we're having burritos for dinner! Bon Appetit!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Family Reunion

 Heath had a family reunion. His mother and littermate brother came to visit. We were a bit concerned about how 2 intact 15 month old males were going to get along with each other (or not) but we were in luck, they remembered one another and got along fabulously. They tussled and wrestled and played constantly. It was great. These dogs are so gorgeous and their personalities so amazing. It was really neat to spend time with others of Heath's breed and see what they are like. Although, not all have the same qualities.

It was also awesome to get to know their people better. I was amazed at how much we all had in common! It turned out to be just a super weekend for everyone involved as all the things we all loved to do were at hand. I even went riding for the first time in 2 years! My horses even got tired for a change. We celebrated with homemade hot fudge sundaes as well (yes, homemade ice cream, homemade hot fudge, homemade whipped cream, only the nuts were purchases and we forgot to get cherries).

Trying to get a family picture of the 3 dogs was fun and amusing. Getting all 3 to sit still and look the same direction at the same time brought more than a few chuckles....

Mama Pixie spies something that needs to be run out of the yard...

Heath-"It's a bird!"  Leif-"It's a plane!" Pixie-"NO! It's a doggy treat!!!"

Much to their mama's dismay, the boys had a fine time being boys...

Look at those fierce expressions...

Leif meets "Cousin IT"

Leif accommodates Heath "There's a bug on me! Get it off! GET IT OFF!!!!"

More fierce doggy play

Heath lets his "derp" out...

the cavvy is in 

 We had to take the 4 wheeler down into the pasture where the horses were and wrangle them up the lane and into the corral by the barn so we could grab Wimpy and saddle him. Mister was already up at the house.

The horses were playing around while we saddled

The Maremmas waited faithfully, watching the corral for our return to make sure I made it back safely. I love these big white dogs!!!

Anyway, it was a fabulous independence weekend. We are grateful for the sacrifice made on our behalf to birth this great nation and pray that it's greatness is soon restored. There is much more to be grateful for in this life and living here is one of them.

Hope you all had  a good weekend and look forward to the rest of your summer!

Saturday, June 18, 2016


Already it's June and I am again guilty of not keeping up with the blog. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words, so I will take the easy way out and leave you with these...

Kinley and Bella, who is "legally" on her bed...

A visit from my brother and his Service Dog, Gunner

Heath and Gunner having fun on the lakebed

Looking cool in his Doggles

Bruno and Mr Potamus hang out with their sheeple

Spring finally brings life back to the garden

Austrian Copper rose outdoes itself in blooming this year
And the whiskey barrel waterfall still makes me happy

The iceberg rose not only looks wonderful it smells amazing

Here's hoping your summer is a blessed one!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

When A Person and Their Dog Just "Click"

It has been difficult to blog this past year, because my world has been made considerably smaller and there just isn’t that much to share. From the days of wandering across the 250,000 acre ranch gathering cattle, gardening, milking and taking care of all my stock, I now find myself spending the majority of my time sitting in a recliner, a very good day being one where I can make dinner, or get laundry done.

The good news is, that my new medications seem to be working really well on my auto-immune issues and my biggest problem is weakness from the years of limitation the diseases have caused me. I haven’t totally given up hope, but I am also not convinced I will make yet another comeback. I dream about riding again and that is my goal, but it’s far off from where I find myself right now.

The Maremmas are still doing a fabulous job of protecting everything out in the pastures, I just do not see them very often because I cannot always walk that far, and once there, there is no place to rest. I can no longer get up from the ground by myself so it’s a bit dicey to go very far from the house.

Heath, the Sheppie has been my saving grace. He entertains me, keeps me company and makes my heart full…and of course, TheMan, who is the most wonderful husband, keeps me going with his unconditional love, a fantastic reflection of the God we serve.

At any rate, I am going to attempt to find a way to share my life in my tiny, self contained world. Once a master of multi-tasking, I am now terribly excited if I can complete a task without forgetting what I was doing. It’s been an interesting journey to say the least.

If you are looking for inspiration or practical information, you might want to stop reading now, because mostly I will just be sharing my thoughts, until such time as I can once again resume my regular life which is on indefinite pause.

Heath (The Happy Heathen of Shepherd’s Way) recently turned a year old. From the time he arrived as a tiny pup of 8 weeks, we began to engage in clicker training. I’d like to share a few things about this, as a surprisingly small number of people seem to be familiar with it. It involves using treat rewards and a clicker to teach, mark and guide behavior. The biggest thing about it, is that it is FUN for both the human and the dog/cat/horse/dolphin/whatever. It gives the animal a voice, results in tight bonding and an eager, biddable, happy student. There are a plethora of books on the market on how to apply it. For Heath and I, it was an extremely fortunate activity as it allowed me, while being largely incapacitated most of the time, to engage with and offer enough stimulation to satisfy a young, active puppy.

He had already learned to “sit” when he wanted something, as his breeder used manding to teach all the pups, by simply giving a treat every time she saw one sitting down. They quickly learned as a group, that their dinner bowl, etc. would be delivered once they were all sitting. Pretty darn cool. Once home with me, we put the spoken request (or if you must, the command) along with a hand signal for it.

By the time Heath had been here a month, he could sit, lay down, pick up his toys and put them in a basket, high five and a couple of other little things. It began this way:

I bought a clicker and put it on a string around my neck so I would always have it with me. I bought a roll of dog food that I cut a slice of each day and cubed into very small pieces.

Get Heath’s attention, and click/treat about 20 times (loading the clicker-only needs to be done at the first session) so he connects the click with the reward. After doing that a couple of times, overtime he did something I liked or something I asked for, I would click and treat. We would only play this game for about 2 minutes at a time, but we did it several times a day. Heath loved it, it gave him mental exercise enough to make up for the physical exercise we were not getting. He learned quickly to communicate to me that he wanted to play, so we would often do it at his request. To date, he knows more than any dog I have ever owned and more than I can remember to list. It has made him an absolutely devoted partner who is eager to please and makes every effort to comply with my every request. I have never had to correct him for anything, as the very few bad behaviors he tried out, were quickly nipped in the bud by redirecting him into doing something I could reward him for.
ie: barking at and attempting to attack the broom/vacuum

Instead of kenneling him or telling him no, it gave us an opportunity to work on his “sit-stay” which he had learned through the clicker play. He sat and watched as I swept or vacuumed and I clicked and gave him a jackpot of treats when I was finished. It was a totally positive experience and has served us well in a variety of situations while strengthening commands that are important. His “sit-stay” has become so strongly engrained, that when we are out with the chickens, rabbits, or sheep that a young herding dog such as himself would LOVE to run and chase and scatter, I am able to encourage him not to engage in that behavior by simply asking first for a sit-stay, as the critters either gather around him, or rush by. He gets high praise for it, once again, making him a confident, happy and well adjusted dog and makes me a proud and ecstatic handler.

So you can see how this changes the face of the way you probably used to train your dogs. The difference in the dog is obvious, as their personality and exuberance is not diminished, resulting in a robotic automaton, but instead a happy, eager to please partner, who is able to find creative ways to communicate with you his wants and needs, while doing his best to comply with yours.

The other really great thing about it is, it can be used on a dog/animal of any age. Young or old. If you have a pet, give it a try!

P.S. as many folk have expressed an interest in trying this, I'd like to share that I got a pack of Karen Pryor clickers on as well as the book "Clicking With Your Dog" which is a great starter book. There are many others as well, and I would also like to highly recommend any KikoPup u-tube videos. I use RedBarn dogfood rolls (also from Amazon) because I can cut a slice a day into small cubes and it's not greasy so I can stick it in my pocket. Happy clicking! Your dog will love you for it and you will love your dog