‘Family’ antics fill the long, summer days

Usually the big calendar hanging on the kitchen door is filled with all kinds of squiggles and notes about birthdays and birds and reminders of anniversaries — the reality days of life — but so far July’s page is comparatively empty.

I should write that, as of the 14th, the four baby barn swallows which were sardined into a last year’s nest above the haymow door have graduated to the wire to the light bulb. I missed the ceremony, if there was one, but now they teeter back and forth and look down at me as I talk to them and urge them to have courage!

They are unafraid. Their parents, however, are hysterical when Winnie dashes through the barn on her morning constitutional. She does several of these dashes before wanting back in the house for a treat and then goes back too bed until at least noon.

There is a significant mark for the 23rd: Winnie will be 10 years old. I can’t imagine life without her and that is such a dangerous thought. With some troublesome health problems of my own, I try to live each day without thinking about tomorrow, but that’s virtually impossible — animals are lucky in that they live for the moment and so should we!

In her three years with me, Winnie has endeared herself to everyone who comes here, which is why she has no manners! All dog lovers (no non-dog-Iover’s allowed!) greet her with the same enthusiasm with which she greets them and that is saying something.

I’ve given up trying to make her “stay down” and to stop begging for a bite of anything a guest is eating and she has several special people on her list — Judy in particular, to whom her welcome is exceedingly enthusiastic.

A cherished dog is many things to we who love it, and I was thinking about some of the many things Winnie is to me: my pillow, my comforter, my foot warmer, my hand warmer, my confidante, my sounding board, my guardian, my dearest friend, my companion, my entertainer — the list goes on and on.

There is in her the very best of all the wonderful Dalmatians (and a mix or two) I’ve had since 1946 and I count her among my myriad best blessings. Bingo, who was anti-social for so long — she was here one year last March — has had a personality change: she loves everyone! And when I’ve been gone an hour or more, she is there at the door to scold me when I return.

On these 80-plus to 90-plus days, she disappears — she has at least two hidey-holes — until it cools off, and by evening is racing through the house as fast as she can run.

The builders of this historic barn took into great account the air flow, making sure there was plenty of cross ventilation, and even though the temperature might be in the 90s, the barn stays almost cool.

Apache and Toby do a lot of coming and going, begging food every time they come in. And getting it, of course. Usually in mid-afternoon they’ll come in to rest, have a snack and a drink of water, and then each cock a hip to doze until it’s time to eat again.

The last time Dr. Doug Hiley checked Apache’s teeth, he found more vacancies and since there are hardly any grinding areas left, the dear old boy can’t eat hay, except the most tender alfalfa. A special feed for senior horses supplies his every need, and at bedtime he gets alfalfa cubes soaked in water until they are soft. (Winnie thinks those are great too!) So much for catching you up on The Family.

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The glow of Fourth of July fireworks had hardly subsided before the mail brought advance order blanks and samples of Christmas cards! This from the U.S. Equestrian Team and they should be ashamed of themselves!

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Allow me to rant and rave once more about the identical hand gestures all the television meteorologists — weather reporters — use when telling us we’re going to be blown away or drowned or frozen or roasted. Some of the old-timers are more relaxed and don’t wave their hands and arms so much but the younger ones are rigid and artificial and should go back to school!

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“I have seen things so beautiful they have brought tears to my eyes. Yet none of them can match the gracefulness and beauty of a horse running free.” — Author Unknown

About the Author

A lifelong resident of the Mahoning Valley, Janie Jenkins retired in 1987 as a feature writer and columnist at the Youngstown Vindicator. In June of that same year, she started writing her column, "On My Mind" for Farm and Dairy. She loves all animals and is an accomplished equestrienne. Local history is also one of her loves, and her home, the former Southern Park Stables, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. More Stories by Janie Jenkins

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