Followers of the old version of this blog will surely remember the Farm Dog. 35 (okay, maybe 38-ish) pounds of pure mutt, answering (before he went stone deaf) to the name "Curtis", and living here alternate weeks because, like the children, no one wanted to surrender custody to this rather furry son post-divorce, the Farm Dog was a curly-brisketed mutt of uncertain parentage. We adored him. The Ex, a.k.a "Tall", sobbed like a child as Curtis passed into a gentle final sleep, his beloved treat ball clenched between his paws. I have been weeping inside ever since. A special pet, the sort we take the time and chance to get to know for the fullness of itself, has as legitimate a place in the heart as any human family member. No dog will ever be Curtis, and I miss him terribly.
Evidently, however, another dog WILL be the Farm Dog. Enter Sputnik, which means "little traveller" in Russian. Sputnik has already travelled from unknown origins in Arkansas, to a shelter in Mississippi, to the Berkshire Humane Society, where it was love at first woof. Apparently there were not leashes in Arkansas. There weren't commands like "off" or "come" or "leave it"; no restrictions on "shopping" from the grocery bags placed in the back seat of the car for the two minute trip home. In Arkansas, carrots and apple cores were not for eating, but pins and plastic-wrapped four-packs of toilet paper are. There was heartworm, tapeworm, earmite, fleas; there were restrictive cages that make a guy panic when placed inside, but the handling of paws, tails and ears by anyone over 3 feet tall was a positive experience. But let's hope there were squirrels. Because, boy-oh-boy!—live revolves around squirrels. Time stops. No voice can be heard. No treat is compelling, no matter how much it smells like bacon. Neither leash, no fence, nor door latch shall keep this pup from his appointed rounds.
The former Farm Dog was happiest in the sun. This one is happiest with his font paws on the windowsill and his nose against the glass. A brilliant canine with the will of a two-year-old, this little satellite has three months of complete bed rest prescribed as he recovers from a case of heartworm that surfaced en route from the south. If he can be trained to listen to anything beyond the call of the wild, he will make this the first year I haven't had to evict a single bunny or woodchuck from the farm. But it's spring, now: new dog, much training, and red squirrels taunting from every branch. I am remembering what dogs teach us about parenting, commitment, and patience. So long, old Farm Dog. Welcome, Sputnik.
Bloom Were You are Planted...
I've been farming since I was a toddler, when my grandparents showed me how to put onion sets point-up in the sandy furrows of our Michigan homestead. It's taken thirty-odd years of horticultural jobs—from potting up lilies by the thousands to managing a 150-member CSA at Hancock Shaker Village—for me to embark on cultivating a farm of my own. Hence, the title.