Fur, Feathers, Fluff and Fuzz, Pets

My Experience with Pet Insurance.

I know what you’re thinking… and no we aren’t those crazy pet people. Never in our lives had we considered getting pet insurance. That is, until we got Doc, the bloodhound mentioned in my previous post. No, Doc wasn’t something so costly that we felt we need to insure, in fact I mentioned he was a clearance puppy in my prior post.

We also have a 10 year-old miniature schnauzer named Mac. It was Mac we really got the insurance for. From the moment we brought Doc home, he thought Mac was his own personal play toy and Mac played back. Doc just kept getting bigger and bigger and the only one who didn’t seem to notice, was Doc.

It wasn’t long after, that Doc playfully put down a paw in the middle of Mac’s back and Mac had to take a visit to the vet for some pain medicine and steroids. In Missouri, those things don’t cost much, but in Colorado (where we lived at the time) a sick vet visit can range anywhere from $200-$400 a pop.

Realizing this could continue to be a problem in the future, we immediately started researching pet insurance. In the end we did end up getting it for both dogs, after all we did pay actual money for Doc and Mac had actually been free. Thus far we haven’t been disappointed.

There are several different brands of pet insurance including Embrace, PetPlan and Geico, but we ultimately went with Nationwide Pet Insurance. None cover pre-existing conditions, and many will not cover routine dental care, but they pay for yearly exams, vaccinations and medicines. Let’s just say, at this point, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten the better end of the stick.

Two weeks before Eliott left for his last deployment, we were packing as much of our home into a storage unit as we could. For a little context, Eliott was separating from the Air Force right after he returned from Africa and thus I would be moving us back to Missouri so I could start the new job that was allowing us to move home while Eliott was gone.

During this time, Mac needed some teeth pulled (apparently mini schnauzers are prone to bad teeth). The procedure was done and he returned home to softened food while he healed. We went about a week without incident as we packed and moved and had things strung about our home before disaster struck.

Mac got a hold of a bone. While we were out to dinner, no less. I cried when I got home and found him whimpering and shaking, thinking he had only broken a couple of his stitches. I gave him some of his left-over pain medicine from the prior back incident and cradled him against me in our bed all night as I wept.

I cried harder when we took him in first thing the next morning and found out the full extent of what had happened. Normally, this probably would have only popped some stitches, but apparently one of the tooth infections had affected Mac’s jaw as well. That bone broke Mac’s lower jaw.

The vet available that day did surgery immediately, but something wasn’t right. Each time we removed the dreaded cone, Mac would violently push at his jaw with his paws. I investigated under his beard and found that his lower jaw was significantly misaligned with the top.

I immediately called our vet and left a message with what I’d found. He called us back in to re-evaluate Mac’s condition and his colleague’s work to find that Mac would need a specialist. Thankfully, the specialist he referred us to was able to see Mac the following day and took him for the surgery at that very visit.

Mac returned to us with his jaw essentially “wired” shut with acrylic caps attaching his upper and lower canines, as well as wire reinforcing his jaw, and his jaw was aligned. He would need another surgery to remove these caps, but my baby finally was comfortable enough to be without the cone.

Unfortunately, it didn’t end there. After those 3 surgeries, Mac still had to wear a muzzle for an additional 4-6 weeks to stabilize his jaw when not eating. It was then I noticed the swelling under his tongue. On to the emergency vet we went to find Mac had an enlarged Salivary gland that needed drained and had to be monitored at home for recurrence. Well… it recurred. After I had moved home.

Luckily enough, Mac’s surgeon from Colorado had a prior colleague in Kansas City, so two hours north we went. There we found out Mac needed another surgery… this time to remove that salivary gland. Thankfully that was the last trip we’ve had to make North, and the last time Mac needed anything other than routine care (except for an irritated eye) in over a year.

I’m not exaggerating when I say those 3 months were rough. I couldn’t stop the random bursts of crying for weeks during that time period. My furbaby was in pain because we had been careless enough to leave out something he couldn’t have while we packed. If we hadn’t had that pet insurance, I don’t know how we could have afforded to fix the mistake that was our fault.

That Nationwide Pet Insurance paid for 90% of EVERYTHING. 90% of each and every visit, all those medicines and four of the five surgeries I mentioned in this post. They helped us every step of the way. They were truly on our side.

And now our sweet babe is back to his normal self…

Fur, Feathers, Fluff and Fuzz, Pets, Popular

You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog

Consider this a public service announcement…

Ya’ll… I can’t even. I CAN NOT even describe to you the frustrations of owning a hound dog. Particularly a bloodhound.

We were still living in Colorado and on our way home to Missouri for a visit when we found him on Craigslist. After searching high and low for a reasonably priced pup for my husband (even those at the shelters were $300), we resorted to checking in Missouri while we were there. When I scrolled down to those floppy ears and all those wrinkles, we called the number listed and set up a date to meet the puppies immediately. Who knew something so cute could be SO much trouble! Our clearance puppy definitely had a catch… or two… or more.

Due to being bred as a working dog, he was not very attached to us at first and preferred to roam about on his own. It took 6 months to make him lovey and cuddly… and even then it was only with us! Discipline stuck about the same, seeing as he could care less if he pleased us or not.

Then the chewing started.

When he was bored… he chewed. When he was upset… he chewed. He chewed because he was teething and even when he wasn’t teething any more. He chewed anything and everything and didn’t discriminate! I bought that dog more chew toys than ALL of the many dogs I’d previously owned combined. He even chewed on a full grown tree once. I mean… come on!

Of note: I did not actually let him chew the stick. That is very bad for doggie bellies.


Then, at one point I suspected that part of the destruction was vindictive. I’d come home from work and moved him indoors due to a huge change in weather. I made sure there was nothing he could chew and opened the doggie door… he saw me leave again. My husband came home to find our wall photos scattered in pieces across our living room. I KNEW when Doc repeatedly went directly to our visitor’s belongings to chew after being chastised by said visitor. Multiple times

Oh the shedding and the slobber! I have hair and slobber EVERYWHERE. The slobber sticks to the wall like stucco and his hair clogs the vacuum. There’s hair mixed with dust, hair in the lint trap and hair in the air every time he shakes. There is no escaping the hair and the slobber requires significant elbow grease to remove. Though the hair is not as bad as a bulldog, it’s about as bad as a lab. That with the slobber is bad enough.

Did I mention that he still thinks he is the 25 lbs he was when he first came home with us? He turns around and backs up to sits on my lap like a child. Regularly. He weights 110 lbs now folks, and he doesn’t all fit. Oh but he tries too! Not to mention he still thinks he can play with the 10 year old Miniature Schnauzer we have. Not a good idea.

He likes to perch on unlikely objects. Objects he should not be, let along, stand on in fact. The arms of couches and chairs, the backs of couches and chairs, his igloo dog house, benches, plastic storage containers… the dog doesn’t care. If it fits he sits… sometimes even if it doesn’t fit.

Water is one of his favorite things. Which is fantastic… I love having a water dog. Until he decided that it would be a fantastic idea to climb in the shower with me. But climbing into the tub willingly at bath time? Forget it. It’s like wrestling a walrus. That’s become my husband’s job because I find it ridiculous that it is so difficult to bathe a dog that loves the water.

Doc is also a very possessive being. He will push other dogs away that are being petted by us (eve the mini schnauzer that was there long before he was). He will squeeze between our legs when my husband and I are hugging. And food. Lord don’t mess with that dog’s food. Even if it’s your food he’s covetous.

The worst of it all? That nose. It has a brain of it’s own. Forget trying to get his attention when it’s elsewhere, especially if that nose is involved. Listening is not his strong suit. It also takes him on “adventures” if he’s not closely monitored. He can be gone for hours as my husband frantically searches for him. Not our favorite pastime.

I would be remiss if I did not mention all the things I love about Doc after listing all the hardships, though. Though off to a curt start, that dog is now one of the cuddliest you will meet. He leans in when he’s rubbed and wants to fit his entire self in my lap (which I did list as a fault but darn it’s so cute). He knows when we are hurt or sick and is so gentle with us in those moments. He loves smelling flowers and carrying around new toys for hours. He has a distinct “happy tail” (as I call it), a “meh” tail and a sad tail. Most of all he provides endless humor.

We love him. We would never trade him for anything in the world. We fret on the occasion he does get away from us and enjoy his presence immensely. Our homestead wouldn’t be the same without him.

But goodness, I know a lot of people who would have given up on him by now.

So… just please know what you’re actually getting before you get a hound dog.

Fur, Feathers, Fluff and Fuzz, Popular, Poultry

My Case for Fluffy Chickens

Not that anyone has denied me a fluffy chicken (yes, I know they are also known as Silkies, I just like the term “fluffy chicken” more). In fact, I have a very wonderful mother-in-law who has volunteered to buy me multiple fluffy chickens and a mother who is willing to house said chickens on her property until we have a home and outbuildings of our own in which to put them. Nevertheless I NEED a fluffy chicken. And here is why:

1. First and foremost, I love a good laugh and have you SEEN a fluffy chicken? I’m pretty sure my sister-in-law thought I was bonkers when we visited them in North Carolina and I couldn’t stop my uncontrollable giggles when I saw her neighbor’s fluffy chicken. I didn’t even know such a creature existed and I grew up on a farm folks. Watching all that fluff bob up and down each time the chicken scratched, stepped, or,oh my, when it ran… I could NOT stop watching that chicken guys. If we were outside, my eyes were on the chicken. So point numero uno… who wouldn’t keep one around just for humor’s sake?

2. Apparently these fluffy chickens are extremely difficult not to love. According to the writer of The Do It Yourself Homestead, she is not easily attached to farm animals… and she loved those little guys. They ALL did. Furthermore, one of co-worker’s sons wants a fluffy chicken so badly that he did a report for school on the topic. His intent was to persuade his parents, but it was his teacher that went out and bought a fluffy chicken after his presentation. See? Lovable.

3. I don’t know if you’ve ever owned a Banty rooster or chicken, but folks the ones we had were mean. These fluffy chickens are of the Bantam category… but guys… they are friendly. Even the roosters are, not only, gentle with their ladies but with their owners as well! They even like to cuddle. Who wouldn’t want to cuddle with a fluffy chicken?

4. As an ornamental aspect, these chickens are sure to please (or at least entertain) any visitor you have to your hobby farm or homestead. Additionally, bantam chickens mean bantam-sized eggs! Kids, and people in general, LOVE tiny things. I mean there are whole YouTube channels devoted to those people that cook on working dollhouse sized stoves. Speaking from experience, the daughter of one of our friends prefers our “chocolate eggs” (particularly the ones with “polka dots”) over the white store-bought eggs. Imagine how she’d feel about mini-eggs! Novelty eggs anyone? I see a niche in the making.

5. For more practical applications… these chickens are notoriously broody. This means they will sit an egg til it hatches. You can use their natural broodiness to your advantage if your other standard-sized ladies are less than desirable sitters. You can simply tuck your standard-sized fertilized eggs under her bum and you’re golden! As long as they fit, she can sits.

6. Another practical use… not only are they good sitters, they are good mothers. Instead of having to worry about your new chicks drowning themselves in the waterer or wandering too far in the yard, getting lost in a stand of grass when you aren’t looking… there’s a literal mother hen for that. You, of course, still need to provide clean water, food and shelter. But that fluffy momma will take care of everything else.

Fluffy Chickens… who knew?

Fur, Feathers, Fluff and Fuzz, Popular

Crazy Bee Lady

6CFCAB94-6BD9-46F7-BA5B-CA1B4559F550Well, I definitely didn’t expect it to be so soon after we got bees that we’d have our first bee incident. Nor did I expect to have anything new to write in this blog the very day after I started it.

Yet, here we are.

We had planned a short weekend trip to my in-laws house, for which we had to leave first thing this morning. Since I work 10 hour days Tuesday through Thursday, I’d been preparing all last weekend and nightly through the week. My bag was packed Monday, our food was prepped, our weekly grocery list for the following week had been made and we had a game plan for animal care.

That is we HAD a game plan until 10:30 last night when we realized we had no sugar. Why is this problematic, you ask? Well the really important main ingredient for the sugar water syrup we were instructed to feed our newly acquired bees on Day 3 (today is Day 3) just happens to be, you guessed it, sugar. Of course, this apparently can’t be any old type of sugar… we checked. Our Midwestern Beekeepers Association Beginning Beekeeping Manual specifically states that you cannot use:

-Powdered Sugar

-Karo Syrup


-Store Bought Honey

-Brown Sugar

-“Other” sweeteners

Great… besides 1 1/2 cups of the white stuff… that’s all we had.

*Side Note… Did I mention that we needed 2 gallons of 1:1 sugar water? Yea, 1 1/2 Cups ain’t gonna cut it.*

Except…. hey we had Raw Sugar for our kombucha… maybe we could use that? Nope, think again. Apparently (from my frantic internet research) the particulates in Raw Sugar can actually give the bees dysentery. So unless we sadistically wanted to come home to two sick hives, that was a hard pass.

So I googled open stores.

We live out in the boonies people. It was 10:30 pm, and we had to be up at 4:30 am today to get everything done before we left as it was. The closest open store was 30 minutes away. So, I googled the closest convenience store. Closed, but happened to open at 5 am. Great, it’s only a 7 minute drive, that would work.

So at 4:50 am this morning I was in my SUV and on my way to the convenience store. I got there right at 5 and saw a head bobbing between aisles… yesssss. I get out of the car and go to open the door… Nope. Locked. So I got back in the car and called. They didn’t open until 5:30. Google lied.

Welp, I had things to do and wasn’t going to sit there for a half hour, so I turned around. I got home, changed into my muck boots ran food and water down to our chickens, ran back in the house, changed back into my prior attire, got back in the car, drove back to the gas station and arrived at 5:31. Success. I walked in and grabbed the last 2 sacks of sugar they had.

It wasn’t until I was on my way up to the counter with my 8 lbs of white sugar that I realized this lady is probably wondering what on earth I’m doin’ here at 5:30 in the morning buying nothing but sugar, in my sweats and moccasins. No gas, no breakfast, no coffee or other beverage, just all the sugar they had in stock.

Is she a local looney?

Nope, just your local crazy bee lady.