The chance to be human: homesteading while working full time.

Phil and I realized as soon as we moved here last year that whenever we weren’t at work, at church, or at a family function, we would be working hard around here to create the kind of small homestead we envisioned.  Still, I’ve sort of had a hard time conceptualizing exactly what we are doing; we’re sort of feeling our way along as we go.  But total self-sufficiency isn’t likely and we don’t intend to be actual farmers, and we both work full-time (though luckily I have summers off), so what’s the end goal?

Recently in The Christian-Agrarian Work Ethic, Herrick Kimball (The Deliberate Agrarian) quoted Willis D. Nutting‘s essay The Better Life, which is part of a book of essays entitled The Rural Solution: Modern Catholic Voices on Going “Back to the Land”:

“The opportunity for real, soul-satisfying work, so rare in our day, is found abundantly in rural living. Here a man can make long-range plans and can carry them out without exploiting his fellow man; for the things that he uses are things that exist to be used: soil, plants, animals, building materials, etc. he can live a whole life of work without once using another man as a mere means for carrying out his plans. And neither does he become a tool of someone else. With the materials at hand he can employ the splendid coordination of mind and hand to create something of value for his family. He can fulfill his real nature in real work. And this work is much more joyful than any mere recreation. As a matter of fact this work carries with it its own recreation, so that the man who works does not have to worry about how he is going to have his good times. The work itself is a good time even though it be hard […]

Around me live several men who are “homesteaders.” They work in town or in school and live in the country. They spend long hours in the evenings working on their land. Their companions on the job or at school go to the movies or play poker in the evenings, but these men work at home. Their companions spend money; they save it. And when you talk with these men you come to realize that their interest, their real life, is in what they do at home. On the job they carry out someone else’s plans. That is drudgery. But at home they are their own masters. They are exercising their autonomy which is necessary to human dignity. These few hours of autonomy constitute for them their real life. Their rural homes give them their one chance to be human.”

Mr. Kimball explains (highlighting mine):

Willis Nutting’s essay does not imply that everyone should be a farmer, or that one need be a farmer to experience the human fulfillment found in agrarian work. He himself was an educator and, according to his biography, lived an agrarian lifestyle. His essay speaks of men working their industrial-world jobs for the necessary income and then, instead of pursuing industrial-world amusements, recreations or leisure in their spare time, they pursue productive, creative work on their homesteads.

Perfect. Without being able to put it into word, this is what Phil and I have both felt.  We work for money in the outside world, and though we like our respective occupations well enough, our real joy is in the countless hours of hard manual labor we put in around here sinking fence posts, building raised garden beds, weeding, mulching, learning about forestry, felling trees, learning to hunt and fish and then clean and cook what we hunt, refinishing or building things we need or want, building the chicken yard and coop (stay tuned for The Thirys and Their Poultry, Part II next spring, when we will hopefully have better success than last year’s attempt), and on and on.

Will we ever be self-sufficient here?  Doubtful.  We’ll certainly try to raise as much of our own food as possible.  And we’d like to add a word burning stove in addition to the fireplace so we can use some of the dead trees on our land as a source of heating fuel.  But what we’re really doing here, as Mr. Nutting put it so well, is seizing our chance to be human as God made us to be.

If that kind of thing interests you, too, then I can point you in the direction of others who are like me (us), who work in the outside world but then retreat to our homesteads where the the work is hard but deeply satisfying.  Here are just a few:

Feel free to mention other blogs if you know of any similar ones.

Also, I just learned about Steward Culture Magazine, a free online magazine which…

“seeks to promote Bible-based stewardship agriculture. This simply means we advocate for creation-friendly thinking that emphasizes the fact that we don’t own the Earth or even some small piece of it. Creation is simply a gift given to humans who are commanded to be its stewards as God’s representatives.”)

The Worst Mother-in-Law

I’ve just finished reading Mychael’s post Monster-in-law at Scott’s new blog, Morally Contextualized Romance, and skimming through the comments.  There are several good stories there about the positive role a mother-in-law can play in her daughter-in-law’s life, but the question asked was how to avoid becoming a MONSTER-in-law to your (potential) daughter-in-law.  I’ll never have a daughter-in-law since we have only daughters and no sons, and (despite some tensions early in our relationship) my own mother-in-law is not a monster, but I do have a thought on what would make a terrible mother-in-law.

I think a terrible mother-in-law is someone who seeks to influence important decisions in her son’s and daughter-in-law’s life according to her own agenda.  Equally important would be the problem of the son who seeks to involve his mama in marital decisions overly much.  Allow me to provide an example that I have mulled over for years.

Two years ago, the self-help author Susan Jeffers, a not-infrequent guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, passed away.  She was born Susan Gildenberg, got married young, had two children, and decided that she was meant for “more” than “just” raising a family (her words).  So she went back to school, biding her time until her husband was making enough money to afford daycare, and then divorced him, giving him full custody of the children so she could pursue a full-time career as a psychologist and self-help author.

After getting divorced, she changed her name to “Jeffers” because she liked the way it sounded.  Among her many words of bad advice for women, one of them is that as soon as they are old enough, women should randomly pick a surname of someone they don’t know and change their name to that because to keep their fathers’ names or take their husbands’ names is sexist and implies that the woman is owned by the men in her life.  In her view it is better if the woman is just disconnected from everything and everyone, I guess.

“Jeffers” first popped on my radar one morning back in the early 2000s when I was watching the Today! show (back when we still had TV) while feeding one of our daughters.  There was some segment on the Mommy Wars with careerists squared off against the stay-home mom crowd.  I’ve always found that debate tiresome, but I watched it idly.  Jeffers asserted that women should NOT have children but if they are stupid enough to have them, they should never, ever have more than one, because it would limit their career success, and their careers should be the most important thing in the world to them. I thought, “What an awful woman.”

But a week or so later I was at the library when I saw a book she’d published in 2000 entitled, I’m Okay, You’re a Brat.  The book claimed that it would debunk harmful myths about raising children, so on a whim I grabbed it and read it.  It was an absolutely disgusting piece of trash, it turns out.  The book grumbles over all the challenges of raising children, but the real gist is that “Jeffers” did not like being a mother and therefore believed that most women probably dislike being mothers and instead should devote their entire lives to their “careers”.

But one anecdote she told in the book horrified and disgusted me at the time and has stuck with me these some ten years or so.  At one point, Jeffers’ son came to her and told her that he and his wife were thinking about having a child and asked her if they should do it.  I wish I could find the direct quote of what she said to him, but the gist of it was that she told him that he and his wife were fools to even consider having children, that they absolutely should not, that they would hate every minute of it, and if they had children, to understand that they should never imagine that she would want to take care of their child for them for even a moment.

Now, I don’t know why a man would go to his mama to ask her whether or not he ought to have kids; one would hope that by the time he is a husband, he is a big enough boy to make decisions like that for himself.  But for heaven’s sake, what kind of mother would give that kind of advice to her son?  It’s none of her business whether her son and his wife have children or not!  I felt sorry for Jeffers’ daughter-in-law, and I would say Jeffers epitomized the Monster-in-law in that example.

My advice to young single women would be Don’t marry a man who can’t seem to make decisions without asking his mommy first.  My advice to mothers would be Don’t raise your son to be the kind of man who runs to Mommy for advice before he makes decisions for his family.  And my advice to wives would be Don’t set yourself up as some kind of authority over your husband such that he feels like he needs to get female permission before he makes decisions for his family (go to Dalrock’s blog and search “mother-in-law” for a good post on that topic).

In terms of how to treat a potential daughter-in-law when first meeting her, though, I think Mychael pretty much has it right when she says:

I have told Scott that what I would like to do is really pour on the sweetness and submissive attitude toward him, in the girls presence so she can internalize “this is what my guys mom treats his dad like. Does he expect that of me?”

And then maybe give the girl a chance to ponder that.  It may be the first time she’s seen a woman who treats her husband with a sweet, respectful attitude and she may very well be intrigued but unsure.  Gently influencing her (potential) future daughter-in-law with her good example is likely to be the most helpful thing a mother-in-law can do.

When you’re dying inside, remember you’re not actually dying.

Having reached the age of six months, it was time for that dreaded day, the Day of Neutering and Spaying for the pups.

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If Professor Diggers could talk, he would assure you that he is, in fact, dying inside…this cone.

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All he NEEDS in order to be happy, he would explain, is for his humans to listen when he says:

“Humans, I’m not happy in this cone. Here’s why. Let’s change it.”

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Alas, Professor Diggers is not alone.  After her spaying surgery, Miss Ruby developed a hernia and had to have a second surgery a few days later to repair it.  She has to spend 10-14 days in her kennel except for when we walk her outside to go to the bathroom:image

She lets us know by doing her high-pitched Shiba Inu scream at top volume that she is lit-er-al-ly dying inside her kennel while the Professor is out of his.

And truly, I believe the pups are unhappy and feel like they are dying.  What they don’t understand is that we placed that cone on Professor Diggers not to harm him – despite how truly miserable it makes him – but to help him.  His persistent licking and biting at his stitches was preventing healing that needed to occur; if he will obey us – stop trying to tear off his cone, stop biting at his stitches – he will be freed in due time.  And we placed Miss Ruby in her kennel because she was tearing around the house at top speed, jumping over furniture, and ripping open the suture site.  Eventually she will be freed, but when is not her decision to make because she lacks the wisdom that we possess.

For someone who is in a marriage where there is little emotional intimacy or perhaps little physical intimacy, the suffering is real.  It feels terrible, and a lack of intimacy in marriage does not reflect the one-flesh union God designed marriage to be.

However.

Let me address the sisters here, and leave the brothers to someone else.

Sisters –

You are not literally dying if your marriage lacks intimacy.  A woman does not NEED emotional intimacy in order to honor her wedding vows.  Never – not even once – does the Bible say that if there is no emotional intimacy, it is permissible to divorce your spouse.  Rather, this is what the Bible says:

And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband (1 Cor 7:10)

Does that mean a woman without marital intimacy is not suffering?  Of course it doesn’t.  She IS suffering.  Just like Christ suffered upon the cross of Calvary, the same Christ who said:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

What does following Him entail?  It involves obeying him even when we are suffering emotionally.  Do you think Jesus cannot understand what it is to obey God while suffering?

And being found in human form, [Christ] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)

You are not being asked to die physically (and if you are in physical danger, then physical separation is probably reasonable), as Christ was, but you are being asked to be obedient to Him while suffering emotionally.

Sometimes life involves suffering.  If women are so strong, can we not then endure the heartache of an emotionally-unsatisfying marriage and obey God’s direct command not to divorce or even to threaten to divorce?

We can.  And here is one reason why we should:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

The words “light and momentary troubles” were penned by St. Paul, a man whose troubles included being beaten, shipwrecked, imprisoned, going hungry, and eventually being martyred.  A lack of emotional intimacy in marriage is very painful, but under direction from God, St. Paul penned the letters to the Corinthians explaining that the sufferings in this world are light and momentary compared to the eternal glory we receive for obeying God even when it’s hard as hell.

Sisters, I don’t write this as someone who cannot empathize.  Trust me, I can.

If your husband rejects you or ignores you, it’s okay to feel hurt.  It’s okay to tell him how you feel.  You might also try asking him if there is some particular reason why he doesn’t want to connect with you emotionally.  But there may not be any reason other that his own sin.  So be it.

You don’t have to (threaten to) divorce him.  Fix your gaze on God instead and understand that while a marriage that lacks intimacy does not please Him, your obedience to Him despite feeling so alone DOES please Him.  Obeying God means not divorcing, not threatening to divorce, and treating your husband with respect regardless of how you feel.

Instead of griping at a hard-hearted husband, pray for him instead. God can and will do miraculous things when we ask Him, and things may change.  But even if your husband stays hard-hearted toward you, pray for him anyway, every day for years if need be, and ask God to fill your emotional needs, just like a widow asks God to meet her physical needs.  He can and He will:

And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. (1 John 3:22)

You may not understand why God commands you to remain in a marriage that does not reflect how He designed marriage to be.  But just like I have wisdom my dogs lack, God has wisdom that we lack, and He uses our obedience to transform us more and more into His Son’s likeness.  He can bring good for us out of an unhappy situation:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

We women can honor our wedding vows and treat our husbands with respect out of obedience to God, regardless of what our husbands may or may not be doing.  And if we want to please God, we must obey Him.

Start with respecting him in public.

On my old blog I would have taken some time to write up a well-worded essay on this topic, but in the present day, I will never have the time to write those kinds of posts, so I’m going to put this very simply.

I was picking something up at the local pharmacy several days ago, and as I was walking back out to my car, a heavy set woman of about fifty-something was walking past me into the pharmacy, saying something over her shoulder to the man in the car.  He appeared to be her husband.  She was saying something to the effect of, “Because that’s how you treat people with honor!  That’s called being honorable!”  She then walked back to the car, which was parked next to mine, and gave him a little piece of her mind even though I was standing right there.

Ephesians 5:33 says:

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

For Christians, this isn’t just a good idea; it is a requirement.  You either obey God on this matter or you disobey Him.  And notice that the verse says “let the wife see that” – clearly He anticipated the fact that women would try to hedge out of it by saying, “Oh, I will respect him…when he behaves in a way that is respectable.”  The verse doesn’t give a commandment to the man there, it gives a commandment to the woman; it is her responsibility to make sure she is respecting her husband with her words and actions.

Fine.  That should be pretty straightforward. However, this verse is also wise advice for the non-Christian woman.  No husband likes to be spoken to or treated with disrespect.  No one likes to have snide comments made about them or be the butt of jokes (“But I was only kidding!”), especially in public.

I don’t know what the husband at the pharmacy may have done or said prior to what I overheard his wife saying.  For all I know, he may have been acting like a total jerk or have done something that caused a real problem for his family.  But I do know there is never – not ever – any reason to berate, humiliate, disrespect, mock, or bitch at your husband in public.

Occasionally I’ll hear people say that telling someone to treat his or her spouse well in public is encouraging them to put on a mask, put up a false front, or act like they are better than everyone else.  I guess those folks think everyone should just let it all hang out all the time and involve the whole world in their personal business or something, but I disagree.  Social mores exist in part to restrain poor behavior by individuals at the community level.  There’s nothing “real” or “authentic” about acting badly in public, and there is nothing “fake” about telling women to put a cork in it in front of other people.

Whatever disagreement or dispute the couple at the pharmacy may have been having in the car on the way there should have ceased the minute her feet hit the pavement.  Should she have been treating him with respect even when they were alone?  Of course she should.  But disrespecting him publicly added an extra layer of humiliation for him; it’s bad to disrespect your husband when you are alone but it is even worse to do it when you are in front of other people.

If you are a woman who has recently come to realize that something is amiss in your marriage, and you suspect you have been treating your husband disrespectfully, and you want to make a change but don’t know where to start, I encourage you to start with this.  Whenever you are in front of any other person, whether they be family, friends, church members, or strangers on the street, treat your husband with respect, regardless of what he may be doing or how he behaves. Here is how to do that:

  1. Speak to him politely.
  2. Keep your voice calm and quiet when you speak to him.
  3. Never make a joke at his expense.  Never, ever, ever.
  4. Do not refer to any of his faults in front of others.
  5. Do not put him down, judge him, or blame him in front of others.
  6. Do not argue with him.  No point that you need to get across to him is that important.  Let it go.

What about when your husband is not present?  How do you still treat him with respect in public when he is not there?

Last year I was having lunch with a group of women – and I am going to be very vague here because these were real life women and I write under my real name, so I don’t want to embarrass anyone – and one of the women told another woman present (who was engaged to be married) that after she and her fiance got married, she would probably feel like she made a mistake and sort of hate him for a while but not to worry about this because it was normal.  Another woman agreed and then added that after the birth of her child, she particularly hated her husband.

The two women then proceeded to spend a good five minutes talking about how stupid they had thought their husbands were after they got married and how much they had hated them directly after the birth of a child.  I suppose they were joking around and trying to be funny, but I wanted to ask, “Was there a time in between when you liked and didn’t hate him?” but I could not bring myself to participate in the conversation.  A pregnant woman sitting next to me said to me, “I didn’t think I made a mistake after I got married to my husband,” so I said to her, “Don’t worry.  I didn’t hate my husband after having a baby.”  I have an imperfect, human husband, so it’s not that I didn’t hate him because he’s so much more awesome than anyone else, and I assume the pregnant woman I was talking to has a real-life, human, imperfect man as her un-hated husband as well.

But you know what?  Even if you loathe your husband, do you need to share this with the ladies at lunch?  Why would you do that?  There was no moral to their story; it was just a complain-and-mock-husbands session.  I can’t imagine what any men overhearing that conversation in the restaurant must have thought.

So I would add this behavior to my list above:

7. Do not gossip about him when he is not there.  If you can’t say something good about him, don’t say anything at all.

That’s not “trying to project” an image that you and your husband are better than everyone else.  Rather, it’s simply human decency.  No one truly wants to hear your dirt except for other women who want to get down in the dirt too.  Don’t do it.

You have to start somewhere, so start here:

Always treat your husband with respect in public, whether he is present or not.

Autumn doings

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With temperatures around 40 at night and barely 60 during the day, you can definitely tell it’s autumn around here.

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View from the driveway

Which is fine with me because autumn is my favorite season.

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We’re even having our first fire of the year in the fireplace this evening.  The puppies, who are nearly six months old, were intrigued.
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Awhile back I was discussing the various edible wild plants I had found growing on our property, and I was wishing for a sassafras tree; they were so common when I was a child but I hardly ever see them now.  Well,  I never could find one around here until a few days ago when Philip and I were cutting back some scrub that was growing into the turn-around half way down our driveway.  After cutting back a huge, thorny shrub, I found this:

image I recognized the distinctive sassafras leaves immediately.  I was thrilled!  There will be hot sassafras tea this winter after all.  Philip marked it with some blue tape so that it wouldn’t get cut down by accident.  I want to give it plenty of room to spread under those big oaks behind it.

We’ve been very, very busy working around here after both of us putting in long hours at work.  First: I’ve been tree-planting.  I wait all year for the trees and fruit bushes to go on sale at Lowe’s and such places; they are always clearanced out at the end of September, usually at least 50% off, and I always spend several hundred dollars on new trees.

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I’m filling in any bare spots in our woods that I can find.  The reason I’m trying to have our property as natural and tree-covered as possible (except for the big garden and a small front lawn for the children to play on) is because it encourages wild animals to live here.  I like knowing there are deer, rabbits, squirrel, wild turkeys, and other birds living just outside my door.  Hunting season will simply involve walking down the driveway a bit to the hunting blind we now have set up.  For an interesting post about tree-planting to encourage wildlife, see It Only Took 20 Years by Mr. Pioneer Preppy.

This year I had green beans, yellow beans, and sugar snap peas growing up old pallets I’d set up haphazardly in the garden, but what I really wanted was a bean-and-pea teepee.  My husband salvaged some old skis from his mother’s garage, bolted them together at the top, and made this:

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Next year I’ll string twine around this, leaving one side open, and plant my beans and peas around it.  The kids can then have it as an edible hideout.

He also salvaged some tires because I wanted them for turning into potato towers:

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What you do is stack up two tires, fill it with dirt and compost, and plant your seed potatoes.  As the plants grow, you add tires one at a time, filling in with dirt and compost.  The finished product looks like this:

Harvesting potatoes out of the tires is much easier than digging them out of ice-cold dirt in late fall, which is what I spent many hours doing as a resentful teenager. 🙂

I’m also beginning to lay out my logs for the hugelkultur beds I’ve discussed:

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I have GOT to find time to harvest and set herbs to drying.  I cannot believe this is only one year’s growth on these herbs.  They really, really liked the location I used for my new herb bed. Here you can see cilantro, lemongrass, sage, some basil still hanging on, some rosemary, and a few raspberry plants:

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Remember all the weird zucchini recipes I canned this summer?  Well, I finally cut down the vines, except I missed one, and the zucchini are STILL growing on it!  Look at the size of this one next to my foot:

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I’m just going to chuck these into one of the composters.  Some nice red hot peppers are ready to pick and dry:

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And I’m still getting good watermelons, believe it or not.  We picked and ate one just a couple of days ago, but it just doesn’t taste quite right to eat watermelon in the fall.  I’ll probably compost the rest of these, too, or bring them in to work and put them in the staff lounge for anyone who wants them.

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I ran out of time for canning, but I’ve been picking, baking, mashing, and freezing butternut squash every chance I get.  We love butternut squash, so I want to preserve as much of it as possible.

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Do you ever have something that you swear you didn’t plant sprout up in your garden?  I don’t even know exactly what this is…some kind of pumpkin or gourd thing.  I have no memory of planting this:

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I’ll probably pick it and set it out on the front porch with some pumpkins and straw bales for a fall decoration.

The blueberry bushes should be thriving along the edge of the pond, but they’re only doing so-so – I’m not sure why:

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There is so much work to do and never enough time to do it around here.  This past Friday was homecoming, but instead of getting to go to the parade and football game, I was home sick in bed, no doubt the result of trying to burn the candle at both ends.  I’m still kind of low energy even today and had to drag myself out of bed to drive to church by promising myself a trip to the Dexter Cider Mill afterward:

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Crates full of apples waiting to be run through the cider press.

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The place was packed with people waiting for the cider and doughnuts, both of which are made on site.

Behind the mill is an area where you can sit at picnic tables and look down at the Huron River while you drink your cider and eat your doughnuts:

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One of our daughters climbed down the steep bank to drink her apple cider slushy by the side of the river:

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Hope you’re enjoying this Autumn wherever you are!

Using and Preserving the Harvest, plus Chocolate Zucchini Cake at the lake.

I’ve decided to work on a little series here called Using and Preserving the Harvest, documenting my triumphs and failures with freezing, canning, and cooking the things I’m harvesting from my garden.  I hope some of this will be useful to readers who are also interested in gardening and food preservation.

Here is what I’ve been up to this weekend (recipes for each will be posted over the next couple days):

  • making and freezing pesto image
  • making and freezing lemon-zucchini barsimage
  • canning sweet pickles image

 

Also, in my quest to Leave No Zucchini Unused, I decided to make a zucchini cake.  I had agreed to take a bunch of teenagers out to Independence Lake for the day on Friday, so I made Chocolate Zucchini Cake, and it ended up being a good choice for a picnic.

Ingredients:

cake

  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, buttermilk, or yogurt
  • 2 1/2 cups all-Purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional but tasty
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (about one 10″ zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

icing

  • 1 cup chocolate chips

I found the recipe on the King Arthur Flour recipe page, so I’m not going to repost the recipe directions here since you can read them there.   However, I made three changes which I recommend you follow: first, I grated the zucchini and let it sit in a colander for an hour to drain so the cake wouldn’t be too wet; second, I baked it for 40 minutes instead of 30 minutes; third, I sprinkled the chocolate chips over the top and put it back in the oven for five minutes but I did not spread the soft chips.  I liked the way they looked whole better:

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I chilled it in the refrigerator overnight, covered with tinfoil.  All day at the lake it sat out on the picnic table while people grazed from it, but because it is a very moist cake due to the zucchini, it didn’t get dried-out and stale-tasting with air exposure, making it a perfect picnic cake.

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The tinfoil blew away in the wind shortly after we arrived but the cake stayed moist and yummy.

For some reason, aforementioned teenagers felt the need to take selfies with a slice of the cake:

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The puppies tried for a good ten minutes to get at the piece left on the table but alas were thwarted by their tethers:

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I’ll post the directions for the pesto, pickles, and bars later; right now, I’ve got green peppers and cabbage to pick and deal with. 🙂  Happy gardening!

It’s so much friendlier with two.

Everywhere we go, people stop and ask us about our Shiba Inu puppy, Ruby: “Oh my gosh, she looks like a little fox! What kind of dog is that?”

Ruby and Mayaimage

The second question nearly everyone asks is, “Wait, you have two puppies?  Are you crazy!?  Isn’t that double trouble?”

Digby and Ruby

They are so sweet…when they’re sleeping. 🙂

The answer is definitely no, it’s not double the trouble, especially given the breeds we chose, a Shiba Inu and a miniature Goldendoodle.  Shiba Inus as a breed are known to be unfriendly with other dogs, even aggressive.  They are highly intelligent and become bored easily, and when they are bored, they can be very destructive.  Because they are so smart, they can find a way to get into anything and out of nearly any type of confinement.   Goldendoodles are friendly, sweet, and good with other dogs but need TONS of exercise and stimulation.  They can become very destructive if they don’t get enough exercise and interaction.

Let’s get the bad out of the way first; here are the ways in which two puppies are double trouble:

  • Double the poop to scoop…but you were going out to scoop it anyway if you had one, so this is not really 2X the trouble, is it?
  • Double the vet bills, which is pretty expensive the first year with all the puppy shots and several rounds of deworming medications given the fact that puppies eat disgusting things like rocks, worms, slugs, their own poop, other animals’ poop, dirt, grass, flipflops, garbage, compost, and any other foul, nasty item they chance to find.
  • Double the food bill…but you had to go buy food anyhow, so even though it’s twice as much money, it is really no additional effort.
  • Two puppies can chew up twice as many flip flops.  Ask me how I know.  But hey, flip flops come in pairs, so if one gets chewed up, you were just going to throw out the other one anyway…
  • Twice the price for puppy obedience class; DON’T give in to the temptation to cut costs on this item.  Both puppies and both spouses should attend puppy obedience school together.  You will save yourself a lot of trouble in the long run.

  • They will on occasion lead each other into sin…that moment when they are headed toward the pond just when you are about to go somewhere and you call them back and one of them starts to come back but the other one keeps right on going, so the one who WAS coming back takes off, too…
The Dirty Professor

Hey there, sweetheart, how you doin’? See, I was gonna come back but I just had to make a little stop first…

But the benefits of having two at once outweigh the difficulties:

  • They play together inside when we are home instead of begging for human attention every second:

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  • They sleep beside each other at night in their kennels, preventing that well-known Shiba scream, an unearthly sound that will raise the hair on the back of your neck and cause your neighbors (if they live near) to call the cops in the mistaken belief that someone is being viciously murdered.
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His and Hers boudoirs.

  • But most importantly, they keep each other company when we are not able to supervise them inside but don’t want to coop them up in their kennels, such as when we are mowing the lawn or need to run to the grocery store.  At that time, we can close the baby gate my husband installed on the covered front porch and confine them to that space with some toys, fresh water, a puppy pee pad, and a blanket.

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Because they have each other, they play, roughhouse, chase each other back and forth, and nap together.  If one of them were left alone out there, I think they would become bored, lonely, and then destructive, gnawing on the wooden railings or trying to jump over them to escape, but because they have each other, they can get MUCH more fresh air and exercise than they could if we had just one who would have to be put in the kennel during unsupervised times.

  • At 6:00 a.m., they burn off energy chasing each other around the yard at a full run while I stand there not moving with my coffee in hand.
  • Being raised with another puppy provides the Shiba with the socialization she needs, given her breed’s tendency to be aggressive with other dogs.
  • Being raised with another puppy gives the Goldendoodle the constant interaction he craves even when we can’t be with him.
  • There is less squabbling among the children about whose turn it is to cuddle the puppy because there are TWO pups to go around.
  • I’m pretty sure I’m not anthropomorphizing when I say they love each other.
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The Mr. and Mrs., snoozing in the minivan