Thursday, August 25, 2011


We're now a two-corgi family once again here at The Farm. Yesterday I picked up a sweet 18-month old female from Tri-State Corgi Rescue in Fairmont, WV.  At her foster home, MerryBelle Wilder was known as Penny Lane, a name that suited her quite well; however, in honor of my mom, Mary MacIntosh Stevenson Shook, aka, MaryMac in some circles, we'll now have a Merry and a Mac(kers) at The Farm. Mom's pleased that she has two namesakes, even though they're canine ones.

MerryBelle has weathered the transition well in the short time she's been here.  Not only is she in unknown territory with unknown people, but she arrived on a night of intense thunder and lightning. And then, there's a rather annoying new brother who hovers over her and barks / chases her like he did with Paco.  (Quite obviously, he's establishing himself as alpha and doing things like making sure MerryBelle doesn't play with his sticks and favorite toys.  He need not worry at all, for she doesn't seem to understand play, bless her heart!)

There's a lot to teach sweet MerryBelle - how to trust, how to receive lots of love, how to let go of her fears, how to play.  I've seen glimpses of some playfulness when she inspects the cats, but she's obviously been treated meanly by some very not nice humans, and she seems pretty reticent to jump right in immediately.  Shitly, the old tom cat who adopted us (formerly Shyly until he started beating up on everyone around here), looks as if he'll become her friend, like Cato is to Mac and Bud was to Paco.

I'll start both Mac and her on Rescue Remedy, and we'll take long walks and spend a lot of time together.  I signed the three of us up for obedience training beginning September 6th, and next week, she and Mac will have my working days to get to know each other in the dog lot under the barn. 

(I would be remiss if I didn't mention the wonderful foster people who cared for MerryBelle.  Debbie and Vernon Nosse of Tri-State Corgi Rescue take in and care for corgis and border collies who need to be fostered and given attention.  Debbie is an expert in rescue, obedience and agility training. Brightly colored ribbons, mostly blue, hang all around in her house.  I've learned a lot about the rescue process from Debbie, and I salute her and her husband for the attention she pays to every little detail about her foster animals and the adoption process. As we left yesterday, Debbie still had five corgis and a border collie in her care, along with her own five dogs.  She's a very, very special person!)

Happily, Miss MerryBelle's headed for new adventures, that's for sure.  My hope is for her to live a long, happy life with us here at The Farm or wherever we are.

Stay tuned.....

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I love flowers. Well, duh, you might say...Who doesn't like flowers? 
I can't name anyone at the moment, but I do believe there are people who could be happy without peering into a blossom on a daily basis.
I can't...Bottom line....I thrive in the presence of their color and sweet scents.. No matter the season, there's something in bloom at The Farm.

I've often thought about what my life would be like if I couldn't experience the color and symmetry of flowers.  How would one go about describing the pink of this morning glory to someone who was blind? 
Sadly, I don't think it's possible..
Zinnias in a plastic bucket radiate and look elegant anywhere. What a wide array of colors!
I love to put sweet pea blossoms on things I bake for decoraton.  I also like to put them in my hair, and I also
like to eat them.

This hydrangea bush is the last reminder of the Townsend's homeplacejust down the road from my grandmother's house in Pigeon Roost.  For more than my 59 years, it's stood there alongside the rail fence. Only its blossoms now hold the memories and stories of those who once lived there in the curve.  What grace!

As I've said many time, dahlias connect anyone who's a Shook to Grandma Ruth. Every summer, I plant a few bulbs in her honor and watch as the buds prepare to open up into regal blossoms.  Grandma always interspersed gladiolas into her dahlia rows.  The beds where she grew her dahlias out the driveway are still clearly discernible....One of these days, I'll sneak down in the early summer and dig in a few of my bulbs in her honor.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


Before the sun's rays dry the heavy dew...
Before the butterflies and dragonflies begin to dart from blossom to blossom...
Before the neighbors in their loud, souped up trucks take to the road for another day of work...
Before the rooster one farm over heralds his morning pronouncements,
Mac and I set out on our morning walk.

Accompanied by silence and an occasional screech from Dad Red-Tail above...
by a gentle, autumm-like breeze...
by Mama Brahma and calf who follows us down the fence line,
by golden rod and ironweed already taller than I,
we proceed toward the  back woods.

Along the way, Mac ventures once or twice into the brambles alongside the path.
I try not to call him back out loud but rather "think" him to me, like I used to do with Annie and Molly.
 I find he's responding to my non-verbal requests more and more.
(I rely on our silent dialogue to keep him close to me wherever we are.)
I love to walk behind him and watch his little corgi butt clipping down the path.
It, as much as his perpetual corgi smile, reflects his love of life....and his joy, his innocence.

Once in the woods, we explore in separate directions,
Mac always in search of the perfect stick or with his rear end in the air and  nuzzle stuck under a decaying log...
And I traipsing around with camera in hand, looking for unusual...intrituing images to capture.

After an hour or so of "pilfering" down by the creek,
we head home, and by this time the sun's out....
Mrs. BlueJay's squawking for us to move on...
 the mosquitoes have come to life,
and I have a plan for the day.

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Friday, August 05, 2011


Many folks consider datura to be a pain in the rear end, but I can't imagine not growing this magnificent plant evey year.  I've had purples, yellows, and wild ones on the farm since I can remember.  I love their beauty and  power, as well as the fact that their life cycle is completed within 24 hours. It's a quick life these blossoms live.
These were in bloom this morning.  It's now afternoon, and they've begun to wither.  Tomorrow morning these blossoms will droop toward the ground, and in another day, they'll fall off the plant, as others begin their short-lived existence, following the same cycle. 

Elegant....graceful....strong...powerful...a perennial one can count on from year to year since one very prickly seed pod can (and will) produce hundreds of starts.  (That's where the pain in the rear comes in...!)

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As I write this, Paco is probably perched on his travel platform in Joe's red truck as they head west on their move to Oregon. I can see him sleeping for a while, looking out the window for a while, chewing on his toys for a while, and getting antsy enough for Joe to have to stop so he can sniff around, find his potty spot, and munch on some grass.

(Unexpectedly delayed by some 10 days because of a truck malfunction and incompetent mechanics who never really got the problem fixed, the two of them now have to "hightail" it across the country to arrive in time for Joe to get to his appointment with the surgeon who will fix his bummed-up knee.  It's not the sort of deadline one wants to drive thousands of miles to meet, but Joe's got to get a knee repair before he can find a living space, get unpacked, find Paco a doggie park, and begin preparing for a new job in September.)

The afternoon before they took off, Paco and Joe were at the farm.  Mac and Paco romped, ran, chewed at each other, and barked enough to annoy the neighbors, I'm sure.

In a tribute to the bassett hound with so many profoundly funny, serious, and quizical expressions, I post these pics of Paco.  I miss him sorely (as I miss Joe), and I'm sure Mac does moreso than I. 

(Loonis and the other felines, however, have not expressed similar sentiments.  They're happy not to have a bassett nose in their face when they try to eat, and Cato does not miss Paco's incessant barking right in his face. In reality, I do think they miss his goofiness and good spirit, for when push came to shove, Paco was their friend.)

Cheers, Paco ! Stay cool and mellow!
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