Here’s the news from the ranch today and it’s adorable.
We have a bottle calf. I call her Lola.
Or Sweet Cakes.
Whatever comes out.
She’s the other half of a set of twins born last weekend. The momma seemed to see one baby and forgot about the second so now the little babe is mine.
Ok. So there’s that.
The other news is sorta old news, but Pops and his pup Waylon had an unfortunate accident with the side-by-side and now little Waylon is in a cast and it’s the most pathetic and adorable thing in the world. He gets along just fine but sorta drags that leg everywhere he goes. All because he can’t stand to be away from his momma, so he jumped out of a moving vehicle to get her.
So there’s that.
Photo courtesy of dad’s phone…
When my little nephew, who adores Waylon, found out that his favorite puppy had an owie, he took Gramma to the drug store and bought him a get well card and a stuffed goose to play with that is as big as the puppy himself.
So that’s adorable as hell.
And this morning when I went to feed the calf, Waylon and his peg leg tagged along, but not before attempting to bring his favorite stuffed goose with him.
Ugh, and as if I didn’t already have a toothache from the sweetness, the goose is so big that Waylon, in his attempt to drag it down the road, tripped and tumble rolled over it about three times before giving up because, get this, he got distracted by a butterfly.
The adorable little puppy tagging along with me to feed the adorable calf waiting for me in the barn got distracted from the giant stuffed goose my adorable nephew gave him to literally go frolicking after a butterfly.
When I woke up this morning I felt shitty, with a scratchy throat and puffy eyes and a runny nose, but those ten minutes in my made getting out of bed worth it.
That and this drooly little thing of course.
*not her bottle*
Now go forth and keep smiling. It’s almost Friday.
So we’re not really into sleeping at night these days, but the nice weather lately has gotten us really into walking, especially since Edie is big enough now to face out and see the world.
A world that looks like this.
Brown and muddy and full of puppy slobber.
And, it turns out, cactus. Of course cactus. Because here in Western North Dakota if it isn’t the cold it’s the mosquitos. And if it isn’t the snow it’s the damn cactus.
As I type this I have a few little wounds on my hands as a reminder. Because as peaceful and angelic as this little scene might look from the still capture of the camera, it turns out taking a walk across the pasture with three dogs, two puppies and a baby strapped to you looks a little like, well…
Finish eating lunch. Finish feeding the baby lunch. Look outside and notice the blue sky. Check the temperature gauge to make sure the blue sky isn’t deceiving. Decide that 50+ degrees calls for a walk. Decide to take a walk. Change the baby’s diaper and put on her leggings and socks under her footie onsie. Add a fleece jacket on top of that. And a hat. Tell her not to cry about the hat. Tell her this is going to be fun. Go find your hat. And sunglasses. And sweatshirt. Make sure your shoes are by the door. Detangle the baby carrier. Adjust the straps the way you’ve practiced and latch them together the wrong way first, of course, and then the right way. Cuss a little and wonder how you can make this so complicated. Go get the baby. Make sure the pacifier is clipped to her fleece. Put wiggly baby and dangly pacifier in carrier. Adjust those straps so you’re both nice and snug and cozy. Walk toward the door and realize you forgot to put your shoes on first. Say shit. Grunt and groan and remember what it was like being pregnant as you try to squeeze on your shoes without fully bending over or seeing what you’re doing. Sweat. Get shoes on finally. Kinda. Good enough.
Open door and go outside. Yell for the dogs who come barreling at your legs. Try not to step on the little ones who are rolling and frolicking around your sorta-half-tied shoes. Decide to take the trail to the east pasture. Maneuver your body and the baby strapped to it under the fence. Because around here you have to cross fences. Wonder if that’s in a baby book anywhere. “How to cross fences carrying a baby. Find the trail with the least cockleburs. Stop to remove cockleburs from your shoe laces. Try not to step on the pups as the gray one grabs the brown one’s tail.
Laugh. Try to take a picture. Fail at the picture. Wish you had your big camera. Or another set of arms.
Accidentally step in a mud puddle while laughing at the puppies. Notice Gus is out of site. Call for Gus. Notice the baby’s sleeping and the sun is in her eyes. Use one hand to hold her head and the other to shield her face.
Keep walking. Sweat. Sweat. Sweat.
Make it to the gate and decide to go off trail to stay out of the wind. Immediately regret it as you lead the puppies through a patch of cactus. Hear the gray one cry. Bend down. Grunt and attempt to fling the cactus from his wiggly paw with one hand while holding the sleeping baby’s head with the other.
Wonder if you strapped her in the baby carrier and sat with her in bed if she would sleep through the night.
Figure it would be likely, but also likely cause neck issues.
Cuss because now the cactus is stuck to your hand.
Grunt as you get back up. Keep walking. Pet momma dog. Find a trail. Avoid mud. Call for Gus because he’s chasing a rabbit in the trees.
Pet big brown dog. Notice little brown pup is limping. Say shit. Lean over to try to grab her wiggly leg with one hand while holding the sleeping baby’s head with the other. Get another cactus stuck to your hand.
Decide you’re glad your almost back to the house.
Step in horse poop. Go through the gate. Try to take the least muddy path. Get a lot of mud on your sorta tied shoes.
Pick up some more cockleburs and start planning the spring bur eradication process.
Make it to the driveway. Wonder if you can put the baby down and she’ll stay sleeping. Think it’s highly unlikely. Try to get in the garage without a puppy following you. Get one puppy out of the door as the other one runs in. Do that about three times and notice that momma dog got in the garage someone. Get her out.
Open the door to the house.
Sweat while you try to quietly maneuver the sleeping babe out of the carrier and into her swing without waking her up. Curse the sound of velcro and the burs still on the back of your pants.
Set the baby in the swing. Notice her eyes are still closed. Pat yourself on the back. Head to the bathroom because you had to pee that whole time.
Come back to the living room to find the baby smiling, eyes wide open just hanging in her swing.
If there’s one thing I predicted correctly when it came to new motherhood it’s that all of the gadgets associated with keeping the baby happy, healthy, safe and alive would put make me crazy, sweaty, confused and hanging by a thread.
I could go on here with the examples of how I continue to find a way to lock the lid in the up position on the Diaper Genie, rendering it completely useless for its intended purposes, or how I inherited a bottle sanitizer without the directions so I just. Can’t. Even. Or this weekend’s battle involving tears, pools of sweat and a nearly dislocated shoulder in an all out war to get the baby in one of those cool, hippy-mommy baby carriers I always envisioned myself sporting so we could go on a walk together for the love of fleece beanies and 60 degree February weather…
But that’s nothing compared the the weekly battle with the car seat. No one in this house loves the car seat. Especially not the baby.
Because why, when we live at least a half hour away from anywhere we need to go, would God give me one of those babies who loves to snuggle and falls asleep as soon as she’s strapped in and rolling down the road? That would just be too easy on this momma.
Instead, I got one of those babies who likes to sprawl, arms above her head and legs pumping, one who would prefer to lay on her back and watch the world smile on her than be rocked in the chair in front of a TV tuned to the hunting channel like her dad hoped.
Maybe the next one.
But for now we have this…
And unless you’re sitting in the back seat with her inserting her pacifier on demand so that she might lull off to dreamland, or entertaining her enough to distract her from realizing her unjust confinement, traveling can be loud and, well, just like everything else these days, sweaty.
So when I was charged with delivering the last of the puppies to a town two hours away from the ranch, I knew it was going to be an adventure. And when I heard Husband had to stay back because he was on call for work, and my 5-year-old nephew was coming for a sleepover, I knew I had to call in reinforcements…
Her name was Little Sister and after it was all was said and done, well, it might be a while before Edie get’s another cousin…
Two sisters, two puppies, a baby girl, a 5-year-old Batman and 100 crickets take a road trip.
That was last Saturday in a nutshell. Because the last of the 11 puppies were ready to be delivered to their new owners, and plans had been made to meet up in Minot, a good two-hour drive from the ranch.
These days, a two-hour drive might as well be across the country when you factor in the preparation needed to get me and my 3-month-old out the door, buckled in and rolling down the road anywhere close to a promised timeline.
Add to that my 5-year-old nephew who stayed for a sleepover and two wiggly, fluffy little cow dogs who needed to be retrieved from the barn, loaded in a crate and introduced to a moving vehicle on a full tummy. It became pretty clear I needed backup.
So I called my little sister, who I recently discovered would do anything if it means she gets to hang out with the baby, even if it requires waking up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday with no guarantee that the babies, human or canine, won’t cry, puke or poop along the way.
Now, I like to give myself credit for being a multitasker, and I’ve certainly put plenty of miles under these tires, but I’ve only been a mom for a couple of months, and to say that I’ve mastered the routine of packing up and traveling with a baby would be a lie. In all of the mom blogs and what-to-expect essays I’ve read, no one maps out what it really looks like to get you and an infant out the door with minimal puke or poop on your outfits.
Sometimes there just aren’t enough burp rags in the world.
Anyway, here’s my opportunity to fill in the missing information: Life with an infant is a ticking time bomb that can be controlled by a meticulously managed process of wake up, change her, feed her and get her happy and comfortable enough so that maybe she’ll take a little nap while you take a quick shower, find something to wear, run a comb through your hair and, if you’re lucky, find some eyeliner while filling up a thermos full of hot water so that in a pinch you can warm a bottle because you get a 3-second window of time between a hundred smiles and a wail of hunger that needs immediate attention, always during a time it’s not so convenient to feed the baby the old-fashioned way.
And then there’s planning for the blowout that may or may not happen when you’re in the middle of buying laundry detergent and more tiny socks. They don’t tell you that the world isn’t quite set up for spontaneous diaper changes. I mean, up until Edie shot a poop so explosive the aftermath reached well past her little shoulder blades while I was holding her in the plumbing section of Menards, I was completely unaware of the importance of the life-saving “family bathroom.”
These are the life lessons I have come to appreciate.
And last Saturday, I also came to appreciate a 5-year-old who can brush his own teeth, comb his own hair, dress himself in the clothes he wore the day before and provide running commentary on why the puppies were crying, why the baby was crying, why he doesn’t want the crying baby to come with him into McDonalds and why, for the love of chicken nuggets, the puppies barfed everywhere.
Because they ate too much, he thought. And maybe I drove a little too crazy.
Crazy like his mother, my brave older sister, who, after the pukey puppies were delivered, the 5-year-old was filled with french fries, the baby fed, changed and almost sleeping in her car seat, and two lattes were purchased for an aunt who just spent half her paycheck on gifts for her niece and nephew and a frazzled mom who had to call her husband to figure out how to close the collapsible stroller, thought it would be a good time to text with a request to pick up 100 crickets at the pet store for the 5-year-old’s lizard, Frank. You know, if we hadn’t left yet.
He was so chill about it when I handed him over, like he knew it was all going to be alright.
Like, he knew he wouldn’t have to share his food bowl with his hooligan brothers and sisters anymore.
Out of the eleven pups, we’re down to seven left. Here’s a picture before they started going…notice Edie’s pup is the only one not sleeping.
I think she likes naps about as much as her little girl.
Or maybe we have a pattern of choosing the wild ones.
Either way, a pile of puppies is about as adorable as it gets.
I’ve been spending this week making arrangements to get these pups to their homes. They will be spread out a bit, some to neighbors and some across the state, but all have places at good homes.
And it sounds like most of them will have little kids to play with, which is important I think if you’re a puppy, to have someone who can match your energy level.
We need about twelve little boys to match Gus’s. So he should be happy when little Dolly is let loose to play. Hopefully the wear each other out.
Because it’s a rare occurrence to catch these squirmers sleeping, but I happened upon them after Husband paid them a good amount of attention, proving to me that they do indeed sit still.
I know I can’t keep them all, but I feel like a mom whose babies are going off to college, annoying them with photos and snuggles, telling them to be good and mind their manners.
Clearly it’s working.
I don’t know when we’ll have pups on this place again, but it sure has been fun. Mostly for me because I haven’t had to be the one to build the pen or scoop the poop, because, you know, I have the baby. But I think the boys have loved it too, just maybe not every smelly, squeaky second.
But probably most of the seconds, because, I mean, look at that face…nothing that smelly could come out of that could it?
Ah, I’m going to miss our puppy pile,
but we’ll be left with a couple cute ones to fill the void…and keep our hands full of babies at the ranch.
It’s Friday. To get you through, here’s a shot of the puppies in their box five seconds before they all dispersed into a wiggly, frantic swarm of fluff anticipating their supper.
They’re getting so big, and there are so many of them that we moved them into the big barn last weekend, which meant we put them all in a box for their first little road trip.
A pile of puppies in a box is probably the most adorable thing in the world.
It’s a good thing these pups are at mom and dad’s or Edie and I wouldn’t get anything done all day except cuddling.
I mean, that’s sorta all I do at home these days anyway…
But ugh. The fluff.
In a few weeks all of these babies will go to their forever homes and Dolly and Pops’ pup will stay here with us.
The timing of having a newborn and a newborn puppy sounds just about right for keeping the crazy and chaos at the normal level around here. I’d hate to be bored you know.
Here’s the best and most recent photo (out of dozens) of the two of them. The level of wiggle and squeaks are uncountable. Maybe I should try video next time to get the full effect.
And the way these two girls are growing, you can bet the both of them are eating well.
No, the ranch isn’t as quiet as it has been in past winters. To add to the excitement and work load, last weekend Pops and Husband went to pick up a small herd of cattle to add to the place.
My husband and I have dreamed of owning our own cattle someday and last weekend that dream came true.
Funny how some dreams come on four legs, bearing promises of a whole lotta blood, sweat and tears.
These cows will have their babies in early spring when the weather is a bit warmer. Until then we’ll feed them up and watch them close and make plans for the next season, which will look like a whole lot of fence fixing and corral maneuvering and some good excuses to get on a horse and take a ride.
I can’t wait.
And to gear me up for the season change, it looks like this weekend the weather’s going to be nice and warm, a nice break in the winter to remind us that the cold isn’t forever.
Not that I’ve minded the weather so much this winter, you know, being my job title has been changed to Jessie Veeder, writer/singer/mother/rancher/professional snuggler…
and baby feeder and putter-to-sleeper….
Happy weekend everyone. We only watch the Super Bowl for the snacks, but we hope your team wins!
The end of January is here and I think I can speak for most North Dakotans when I say, “Whew.”
It’s a tough month up north, full of unpredictable and freezing weather, long evenings and short days and lots of reasons to eat soup and heavy carbs, no matter what you said in your New Years Resolution about eating better.
We’re not meant to eat lettuce in the deep freeze of January. It’s not natural.
We’re meant to hibernate and hunker down. And that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’ve spent more days consecutively in the house this January than ever before in my life. Except maybe when I was a newborn myself.
I’m so used to running around, playing music late at night, heading to meetings or wandering outside on a whim that this hiding out has been a big adjustment.
Never mind that I’m hanging out with a brand new tiny little person we made.
Yes, when you live out in the middle of nowhere in the middle of winter, the whole getting out of the house thing takes way more effort. There’s no such thing as a quick trip anywhere, except maybe to the changing table.
So I leave the grocery shopping to my husband, which I’ve found to be one of the major perks of hanging home with a newborn.
That and hanging in my stretchy pants all day.
What’s not so fun? Daytime television and trying to work with a baby who doesn’t nap much or for very long.
But she smiles a lot when she’s awake, so it’s worth it.
And when we do get out of the house, we go visit the other babies on the ranch.
Or, on the weekends, I leave Edie to rock with her daddy and I take a wander, get some fresh air in my lungs, swing my arms without a baby in them and walk the big dogs.
Last week Edie had her two month appointment and with each of her little milestones I’m reminded that time ticks so quickly.
Well, it seems to be a baby boom at the Veeder Ranch, and I tell you, I can’t get enough.
On December 29th, just in time for the weather to get good and cold, dad’s dog Juno gave birth to a big ‘ol batch of puppies.
I got a text from dad early that morning telling me that there were “4 pups so far.” Later that morning, when mom stopped over to snuggle our baby, she said she thought there were five. But it was hard to tell, because she had them in the dog igloo and it was dark in there.
Five pups was my guess. That’s what I thought she would have and that was a nice manageable number.
I called my little sister to report the news and then headed over to mom and dad’s when Husband got home to take a look for myself.
We pulled into the yard just as Pops was pulling in from work and Juno ran up to welcome her favorite human, giving him the opportunity to shine a flashlight in the igloo to see what she made.
“They’re so loud in there,” he said.
And then he found out why.
“Holy Cow!” he hollered.
“What?!!” I asked nervously “What’s in there? Are they ok?”
“There’s a whole pile of them!”
And indeed there was….
A little more than five I guess. I tried to get a good count on them while they were wiggling and squirming all over each other.
I thought I counted nine.
I was confident. But I counted again.
Nine’s a lot. That’s a lot of pups there.
The mat they were laying on was a little damp. These pups were brand new, so I decided to get a couple towels to put underneath them and help absorb some of the moisture.
So we took the pups out one by one.
And we all counted out loud, Pops, Husband, my niece and I.
“1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9!!!”
“9,” I declared. “Perfect!”
“Oh, we’re not done yet,” said Pops.
That’s a lot of pups.
“Good idea we had here huh dad?” I said to him.
Because it was our idea, to breed our Gus with his Juno the best cow dog ever.
Because cute + cute = so damn cute…
But also, because they will be really good dogs.
After Pudge died this fall we thought we needed to get another young pup to start learning the ropes.
And we thought maybe someone in the neighborhood might be interested in a good cow pup too.
But eleven? ELEVEN?! What were we going to do with eleven puppies?
Well, first things first I had to pick one out for Edie.
Which wasn’t an easy task, except I liked the brown border collie. She was the only one like that in the batch. And I haven’t seen many brown border collies in my life.
So she was my favorite.
It seems like Edie liked her too..
But this one is also my favorite because she’s so little and she has brown eyebrows that match her brown feet and I just can’t take that sweet face I want to smush her and put her in my pocket…
And this one is my favorite too because of his speckled little feet and speckled nose and he seems like he’s going to be really smart and I just can’t take it I want to scoop him up and put him in my cereal bowl.
And this one breaks my heart because, well look at him! Those ears! That look! He’s so beefy and rolly-polly. He’s also my favorite. I really like him. I like his white face. I can’t even take it, I want to wrap him up in a blanket and snuggle and watch re-runs of Seinfeld together. He seems like he’d like Seinfeld. He seems like he has a good sense of humor that way.
And be still my heart. This one is my favorite. Look at her! Look at the brown on her. She looks like she’s going to be SO FLUFFY I COULD DIE!!!! Look at her feet, with the little speckles on her toes. And I just can’t take it I want to buy a pink purse and put her in there and walk around the mall with her peeking out, smiling while everyone declares “What an adorable pup!” and I would say “I know right?!”
And this one is my favorite because of his brown legs and white face. He looks smart. And snuggly. And I just can’t take it I want to tuck him in bed and read him bedtime stories.
And this one is Husband’s favorite, but I think he’s also my favorite because he looks like his dad Gus and Gus is my favorite. I like that he’s solely black and white and he has a cool big black spot on his side and he’s going to be beautiful. And I just can’t take it I want to teach him the best tricks and enter him in one of those frisbee catching contests that you see on TV. We would win, because, well, just look at him.
And this one. This one’s my favorite because he’s going to be fluffy and I love him and I just can’t take it I want to comb his hair and put a bandana around his neck and name him Scout.
And this one is my favorite because of his white legs and spotted nose and I just can’t take it I want him riding shotgun in the pickup with me anytime we go somewhere so he can stick his head out the window and really get his ears flapping.
And we’ve established why this one is my favorite…But it looks like she’s going to have curly brown hair so I think we’ll be able to relate…
And this one. Look at this guy! He’s going to be smart I can just tell. He’s got the look of a perfect ranch dog and he’s my favorite because he reminds me of the old dog we had growing up named P.V. and she was the best. I just can’t stand it I want to bring him inside and let him lay on the rug in front of the fireplace.
And this one is my favorite because he’s classic and he knows it. He looks like he could be in a movie where he herds up lost sheep that got out on the highway and headed to town so he grabbed his brother and saved the sheep and the day. And I just can’t stand it I want to give him an extra bowl of milk because he looks like he’s going to do such a good job someday.
Oh Lord. It’s been hard on me. All this cuteness. It’s giving me cavities.
But it turns out it hasn’t been hard to find these babies homes. No. One little social media advertisement and they were homed in a matter of hours to some really wonderful families who will probably not put their puppy in a pink purse and cart it around the mall, but might let them ride shotgun in the pickup. Or sleep on the rug in front of the fireplace. Or, most importantly, give them a life where they can do what they were meant to do…chase cows and roll in poop and drag bones from gawd-knows-where all over the yard.
And be unconditionally loyal.
So fluffy. Just like their mom.
And so annoyingly smart, just their dad.
Because that’s what’s running through their blood.
And I can’t take it.
Now, does anyone have any name suggestions for our new little girl? I would ask Edie, but I don’t think she’s old enough to make these sort of decisions.
Ugh, life must being going good when too cute becomes a problem…
This seems like a good time to share my music video “A Girl Needs a Dog” again, featuring baby Gus and the photos you all submitted of you loving on your favorite dog. Enjoy!
And despite the fact that he is ginormous and looks like a fat 95 year old man, Larry is just a puppy.
And sometimes, when my brother-in-law and his family go away for the weekend, Larry comes to visit.
Larry really has no business being on the ranch. He’s physique is much better suited from couch lounging, nap taking and watching life happen from the house-side of a window.
But don’t tell Larry that.
Because Larry don’t care.
Larry does what he wants.
(I know this, because when I try to get him to do what he doesn’t want to do, he locks up his legs and makes like a 100 pound bolder, literally refusing to move. Larry knows that he’s heavy as hell. Larry’s not as dumb as he looks.)
Yup. This is Larry.
And I call this photographic series of glamours shots, “Larry on the Prairie.”
The Official Music Video for “A Girl Needs a Dog” starring YOU and your dogs is ready for viewing.
This truly was one of my favorite projects, getting a glimpse into the bond you ladies share with your pets was inspiring and heartwarming.
Because we had so many submissions, I’m so sorry that we couldn’t fit them all in, but I think it was the perfect way to capture the essence of this song. I couldn’t help but smile all the way through.
And now for another chance to win something.
Please SHARE this video with your dogloving friends, either on Facebook, Twitter or here on this blog, and be entered for a chance to win a signed copy of my new album “Northern Lights” when it’s available this spring!
Thanks again for playing along. And thanks for taking such good care of each other.
So I made it home safe and sound from Nashville (and managed to steer clear of the Nude Karaoke).
I’m going to tell you all about it this week when I have a minute to gather up the clothing explosion that happened in my room upon my arrival, and then maybe think about the whole Christmas cards and gift thing, but if you’re curious, here’s a little write up the Fargo Forum did on my trip. They called me up on day two of my visit to see how things were going.
They were going swimmingly, I tell you. It has been such an awesome experience and I can’t wait to get back there and finish it up!
But there was more work to be done as soon as I got home. We had to get started on the video for “A Girl Needs a Dog” before Santa starts making his way across the sky.
I received so many wonderful photos of you ladies and your dogs, I can’t even tell you. This has been one of my favorite projects, getting to see you and your pooches, and hear your stories about what your furry friends mean to you.
So I got home on Saturday at noon, threw on a flannel and made sure I didn’t have any boogers in my nose and went out with my friend Nolan with Quantum Productions to get some footage of me singing and playing with my hounds out and about in the barnyard.
There was mud. There was ecstatic and obnoxious jumping. There was barking and stick chewing and running and howling.
Yes, there was howling.
It was a great time. I can’t wait for you all to see how it turns out. Funny thing about this place I’ve created here, seems from Australia to Alaska, we all have more in common than we think.
And our love of our pets seems to be one of them.
I’m expecting the video to be done before Christmas. Until then, enjoy the live version filmed from the back pasture at the Red Ants Pants Music Festival this summer.
Learn the words so you can sing along!
Thanks for all of your support and love.
I’m off now to tackle that pile of dirty socks strung out on my bedroom floor…