I Cannot Have Nice Horticultural Things

Landscaping on the Great Plains is a losing proposition from the get-go.  It does not help that I am not very good at gardening. It is even worse with pets and livestock.

When we first built the ranch house, we knew we needed a dog. Every rural abode needs a protector, right?

We found a nice puppy and watched helplessly as she dug up every ornamental I tried to plant and wrestled possums in the yard. After puppy unfortunately chased the front wheels of a passing truck, we adopted an older dog who never caused a minute of trouble. During that time I thought, for sure, my landscaping would thrive.

LOL!

Instead of a thriving landscape, I began to realize how incredibly bad hubby was at closing gates and building fences. One day, a ticked-off bull dug holes in the dirt around the house while staring at his reflection in the patio door. Cattle are even more destructive to a landscape or garden than a puppy.

About the same time as we adopted the older dog, the farm cats began to grow more domesticated. They associated the house with food and hung around a little too much.

Does anyone know what cute kittens at play can do to flowers and even shrubs?

Sigh.

This summer has been especially hard on my landscape. I had a very crazy project at my job that took up a lot of May and June. The garden and landscape did not get much attention and a few weeds may have sprouted around the shrubs and flowers.

Helpful hubby and sons tried to assist by mowing.

A shrub that got mowed off in the landscape

Those two stems sticking up in the middle of the photo used to be a false spirea.

We also have a dog that is actually more hair than dog. She gets hot easily. She has discovered that the north side of the house is an ideal place to dig a little hidey hole on a hot summer day.

hole dug by the dog in the landscape. She is looking for a cool place on hot days

Our little school started an FFA chapter – a development that I am very excited about. Son #1 decided he wanted lambs for his FFA project. I warned him all spring about the fencing requirements for sheep. To his credit, he sort of understood and tried to shore things up.

Unfortunately, every day when the sons leave for school, I soon notice our “free range” sheep making their way toward the house.

potted plants eaten by sheep

The potted plants on my front step are apparently especially yummy. Since this photo, they have even eaten the yellow hosta that are in the front of the fish-shaped pot.

Little do they know but the date that they meet the butcher is drawing near.

20160823_184036_resized

Next spring, I will greatly enjoy grilling lamb burgers outside while figuring out new ways to keep the dog from digging holes and reminding the sons to feed the cats over at the cattle yard and not by the house.

And just when I think it is safe to plant something again, someone will leave a gate open.

At least I don’t have any expensive, grafted, high-quality landscape trees.

Because expensive trees are especially attractive to an itchy heifer that just walked through an open gate.

Don’t ask me how I know.

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About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at http://aldersonangus.wordpress.com.
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