You’ve Got a Friend in ME!

I recently read an article on animal behavior when a member of their animal family is sick. It talked about when a domestic animal like a dog or cat gets ill the other animals in the family will often attempt to comfort the ill animal. We saw this first hand with Lexi when she was ill, the other dogs even the cats would go lay with her. When I have been ill or a member of the family has been ill, we often refer to the cats and dogs as our personal nurses, because they will stay right with us, almost like they know. Even in the wild dolphins will swim underneath an injured dolphin and push them to a surface to breathe.

IMG_9539

It’s an amazing blessing to have humans in your life that provide that support like the dolphin, or that loyalty like dogs and cats. This week I have experienced a little set back, and with everything that happens around here on a daily basis, with one person down it can make the running of things quite difficult. On Sunday evening I started feeling not quite right, something was off. Monday was to be a very busy day, and it was one of those days where you give yourself the pep talk, where you tell yourself you can’t be sick right now there is too much to do. Amongst everything that was happening I decided it would probably be in my best interest to pop into an urgent care in between appointments and errands that had to be done. I explained symptoms to them there, and they ran one small test checking for a kidney infection, said there was little to nothing else they could do for me in house and referred me out to either the ER or to a doctor. Well as the pain in my stomach and back increased, my husband was able to get me into a medical doctor, and after my visit with her she referred me to the hospital. After multiple tests, they discovered I had a cyst that had just ruptured and it had filled my pelvis with fluid and blood, hence the reason I was in the awful pain, and most likely the reason I was not feeling quite right and had been completely exhausted. I was given some meds, released and told to take it easy!

Well everyone has rallied, I have had multiple human and animal nurses for the past few days, I am not one that stays down well, or one that enjoys sitting, laying, sleeping during the day, or even watching television. But I have listened. The farm has continued on, from my bed I could hear the goats, lambs and donkeys all screaming at Jody and the children for dinner. My father spent all day picking up the kitchen, and motivating the children to clean “drill sergeant papa” was in the house, and cleaning their rooms to his standard was a tough task. My mother made a delicious casserole, which has been a family recipe for years (I have included the recipe below), one that was always a crowd pleaser and the epitome of comfort food.

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

I had nurse or doctor Chandler and Phoebe at my service all day, in fact Chandler barely left my side.  Even my little dog brother Harley provided me comfort with his bull dog snuggles.

I also received multiple messages throughout the last couple of days that I have so greatly appreciated, from California, Connecticut, Florida, and right here in my hometown. Like everything else in life this too shall pass, but knowing that when you are down others are so willing to lift you up, is a special feeling!

From our family to yours thank you!

 

Here is our family recipe for the that comfort food “Chicken and Broccoli Casserole”

1 whole chicken deboned and cut into chunks (can use all chicken breasts too)
1 or 2 heads of broccoli or one large bag of broccoli
1 or 2 cans or boxes of cream of mushroom soup (we use organic), depends how much creamy goodness you are looking for.
1 cup of Mayonnaise
1 egg
½ cup of shredded cheese
Half of lemon juiced
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Couple dashes of curry

Cook the chicken either bake or if using breasts sauté in a pan.
Steam the broccoli

Set chicken and broccoli aside

Mix all other ingredients set aside some of the shredded cheese to top the casserole with.

Preheat oven to 375

Grease a 9×13 pan, layer the chicken and broccoli across the bottom of the pan, pour soup mixture over the chicken and broccoli, top with cheese.

Bake until cheese browns lightly and bubbles, usually 30-40 mins. It’s the perfect one dish meal, and is great with crescent rolls or biscuits.

Friends of Bing

Whoever said diamonds are a girls best friend never owned a dog. A man’s best friend, a boy and his dog, or a true friend that leaves paw prints on your heart. For people who love there dogs there are a million descriptions. My children refer to our dogs as their siblings; my parents refer to their French Bull Dog as my brother (I really hope their isn’t any family resemblance between us), sorry Harley.

IMG_2215
My dog brother Harley

When we made the big move from Florida to North Carolina, we had two amazing dogs, a sweet, big eyed Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (who wasn’t doing all that well) Lexi, and a spunky black and white Springer Spaniel named Phoebe. We had both girls since they were only 7 weeks and when we moved to the farm they were both 8 years old. Before all the farm animals, before the Rat Pack, and as long as the kids could really remember Phoebe and Lexi were a big part of our family. The 9 road trips we made in between January and June between Florida and North Carolina, Phoebe and Lexi were with us. They were a family fixture and inseparable since we brought them home. We moved three times with our girls, we did dog fostering with Springer Spaniel Rescue, and for the most part where we went they went. Because of their sweet dispositions and demeanor, I never had to worry about them with children, and when Phoebe got a little iffy, with my parents puppy Harley we brought our awesome dog trainer Robin back over to help with introducing them, and in time they too became friends. They really were good dogs.

IMG_1603

IMG_1597

Once we decided to move to North Carolina, we felt  it was time to get another puppy, one that was going to be bigger than the girls, playful and would do well with our new lifestyle. After some extensive research, and tossing around the idea of another Springer, we opted for a different breed, one that isn’t as common or easily found as some others. I made some phone calls, and ended up getting in touch with a woman I really just clicked with, a breeder in Kentucky of amazing English Setters, and after speaking to her, and seeing her dogs at Flanagan Springs I knew this was not only the dog for us but the breeder.

On Memorial Day 2016, 12 little puppies were born, I mentioned they were a hard breed to come by, and when I contacted Susan to put a deposit on a puppy she informed me that we were number 12 on the list. So the fact there were 12 puppies, had us very excited. From the moment we saw these puppies we were in love. We had our eyes on one little boy, but with being the last to pick we tried not to get our hopes up. As the weeks went by we received weekly updates and pictures of the puppies, and even though we all attempted to not get our hopes up, we couldn’t stop looking at that same sweet little boy, the black ribbon (that’s how we could tell them apart they all had a different colored ribbon on). The day came, that we would find out which little boy would be ours, and to be honest I was afraid to find out, I was afraid to tell the kids, but they are kids, and they seem to somehow always know the date when you would like them to forget. When I opened the message and was informed that black ribbon was ours, we all squealed…. So much for not getting our hopes up. The black-eyed, black eared little boy was our Chandler (yes we are huge fans of FRIENDS, in fact this is why we also have a chick and a duck….all fellow Friends fans will understand)

IMG_6175

IMG_7514

The day had finally arrived for us to go and pick up our puppy from Kentucky. To say I was nervous was an understatement. You see right around this point Lexi really started to make a turn down hill. She was symptomatic of kidney failure, and was undergoing tests to either confirm  or to let us know what was happening. We also didn’t know what the girls would think of Chandler, or would we feel the same way about him as we did Phoebe and Lexi? We had some construction going on in the house that day, so Jody was unable to make the 5 hour drive with me. Kayton though wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to meet Chandler and the 11 other puppies. Wouldn’t you know it, my car never had car problems before until this day, I had never drove in hail until this day, nor had I ever been to Kentucky, so this was a day of firsts. All things were resolved, and we still made it to get our boy.

Upon arrival, we walked through the gate and all 11 puppies were there, now how would we know which one our Chandler Bing was? We didn’t need to know, apparently he knew we were there for him, and came running. As we made the long trek back to North Carolina with our new little guy, I wasn’t worried anymore, I just knew he was going to fit in perfectly. Introduction to the girls went great, Jody and Dylan loved him, everyone that met him immediately became his FRIEND! Living up to his name, this dog is a comedian, he knows when he is being funny and will look to you for reassurance. Watch dog, he isn’t in fact he leaves that up to his big sister Phoebe. He also is not aware of his grand size he thinks he’s an 80lb lap dog and sometimes thinks he is a parrot (he loves curling up behind us and putting his head on our shoulder). Chandler has been the most wonderful addition to our family, and has helped us deal with what was on the horizon.

IMG_7560

IMG_7574

 

IMG_9598

IMG_9651

IMG_9193

IMG_1664

The symptoms we saw Lexi having, continued to progress. Her blood work came back that she was in renal failure. We decided that we were not ready and that we were going to continue treatment for as long as we could. We changed her diet, I started making low phosphorus dog food for her, she went in for a solid week for daily IV fluids, she was on medication along with pain meds. At first it seemed that maybe she was bouncing back. To us that would make sense, because Lexi, hadn’t been well for sometime, she had numerous issues in the years we had her, and we were told several times it was going to be it for her, and every time she bounced back. I think though she exhausted all her bounce, because after several months, she had no more zest left and we lost our sweet girl on May 15th, of this year. She too is buried here at the farm, and it just hasn’t been the same without her. Both Chandler and Phoebe were really bonded to their big sister, and for the first couple of weeks after losing her we would find Chandler lying near her gravesite. Losing a pet is heart wrenching, it is like losing a very special family member, to all those who have lost a pet, the pain is heavy.

IMG_9539

What we have discovered since moving here is having a farm is not for sissies. We have lost our horse, a few chicks, a baby lamb, and our beloved Lexi, in just the first year, yet we know the grief we have felt is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith, but it is the price of love. Despite the loss, the love we have for each other and all these awesome creatures we have here on the farm, is a blessing.