Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Castle in the Prairie

On my tour of Kansas and the surrounding country side, The Reluctant Farmer and her mother said to each other, "Let's take her to see Coronado Heights!"  There was a lot of excited chatter and hushed talking in the front seat, and I had no clue exactly where we were going.  I watched the prairie zip past my window, as we bumped along the spine jarring dirt road, and finally I heard them say:  "We're here!"  I looked up and there was a large hill in front of us.  It didn't look spectacular.  It looked just like any other hill that you might see, anywhere in Ohio.  We wound our way up the steep driveway, and when we reached the top of the hill I was speechless!    

It was like I was suddenly transported to Scotland!

Immediately I got excited (Remember I LOVE anything old and abandoned!) and started rattling off questions faster than an auctioneer on the auction block.  

"What is this place?!"  
"Who built it?!"
"Why did they build it?!"
"Can we go inside?!"

The Reluctant Farmer said:  "I think it was built by some french explorer."  
Her mother quickly disagreed and said:  "No, I think it was built by the WPA in the 1940's."    

This led to more questions by me:  

"What is the WPA?"  
"Why would you build such a place if you weren't protecting yourself from something?!"
"Were there Indian attacks here?!"

Side note:  Turns out that awesome castles bring out my inner ADHD tendencies....

Rain coming in across the prairie!

Since neither of my "tour guides" could give me solid answers, I took to good ol' trusty Google and searched for the reason behind this awesome castle.  I learned that Coronado Heights was built by the Works Progress Administrations in the 1930's.  It was named after Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, an explorer who visited Kansas in 1541 in search of the Native American community Quivira, where he was told "the trees were hung with golden bells and the pots and pans were beaten gold."  Coronado never did find the gold he was looking for, but he did get this awesome castle named after him hundreds of years later!  Sort of the same, right?!

Now, what is the WPA you ask?!  
The WPA was a national program that employeed millions of unemployed people in the late 1930's, having them perform public works projects such as creating roads, bridges or large castles.  The purpose was to provide a job and income stability to families that otherwise would not have an income during The Great Depression.  

So in an anti-climatic conclusion I learned that the castle was only there for people to enjoy, and enjoy it I did.  From the magical feeling I got from discovering a castle in the middle of a prairie, to the strength that this structure demanded, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.  Perhaps the most enjoyable part was watching three rain storms come in over the prairie from different directions.  It was breathtaking!  

Sunday, September 22, 2013

If Her Walls Could Talk....

The Reluctant Farmer, her mother and I were cruising down the road on our way to Coronado Heights when suddenly I heard The Reluctant Farmer exclaim:  "Oh, honey!  Look at that house!"  (She knows I love all things old and abandoned...)  I looked up and I think my heart stopped.  There in the middle of a field, in the middle of nowhere, sat this beauty.  The Reluctant Farmer quickly pulled over so I could snap a few pictures, but a zoom lens wasn't good enough for me.  I wanted a driveway!  

It took a few moments, but we located where the driveway once was.  I quickly stuffed an extra lens in my pocket and hustled up the dirt tracks that were now mostly covered by prairie.  I was up to my arm pits in the meadow with grass hoppers hopping all around me like popcorn kernels on a stove, but I kept advancing, taking pictures as I went.  

When I got up close to her, I simply said: "Hello.  You're beautiful, and you look like you have been alone for a long time." 

I swear when I closed my eyes I heard her whisper back:  "It has been a long time.  Thank you for stopping by." 

In my head, as I was going behind the house, I was thinking: "Wow!  I wonder how long it has been since someone has lived here?!"  And then I stumbled across this part of the puzzle....

A refrigerator from the mid 1930's - early 1940's.  It had just been tossed out the door and into the backyard, where it lay for God knows how long.  It was here that I had to stop, because something about this house moved me.  I placed one hand on the refrigerator, feeling the cold metal under my finger tips and audibly asked: "What makes someone just up and leave their home?"  

I moved on the the east side of the house, which is the side that had the most damage, and again I stopped.  I closed my eyes for a moment, and let the prairie winds blow through me, and I swear for a moment I heard the slam of the front door, and children laughing.  It was obvious at some point this house was very loved.  And for a moment I wished those walls could talk.

I continued taking pictures as I walked around the house, and after I was done I thanked her for allowing me to visit.  I carefully listened for the sound of rattlesnakes as I fought my way back to the car, and for the remainder of the afternoon I was in awe.  My mind raced wondering about that astute woman.  Why was she alone?

The only explanation that we could come up with was that during The Great Depression, when The Dust Bowl hit the Great Plains region, over 400,000 people quickly left the Great Plains to find work, food and a place to live.  Our guess is she lost her family then, and no one ever came back to live inside her loving shelter again.

  What I would give to hear her walls talk....  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I'm back!

We have made it home, finally!

For those of you that wondered where I was and thought I had fallen off the face of the bloggersphere, for the last 9 days The Reluctant Farmer and I have been all over the central US.  Originally we were just going to visit her parents in Kansas, but by the grace of God we got Wigzi into a no-kill sanctuary in Nebraska so we decided to extend our trip by 2 days and drove him 17 hours to his new home.  Folks, it's a drive from Ohio to Kansas.  Ohio to Nebraska?!  I thought I might die!  (The Reluctant Farmer wants to drive to Colorado next year.  I might smother her with her pillow at the mere thought...)  

Incidentally, my allergies were really bad before I left Ohio, and I took what I thought was non-drowsy allergy medication.  Wrong!  I ended up drugging myself, and was absolutely NO driving help to The Reluctant Farmer because I didn't wake up until we were half way through Missouri.  (Don't worry, she has forgiven me...)

We arrived at Hearts United for Animals on Friday morning and I was amazed by the place.  The sanctuary was beautiful, and it seemed like it was modeled after Best Friend's Animal Snactuary in that the dogs live in "pods" and are free to go in and out through a doggie door whenever they wish.  They have over 400 dogs that they take care of, and you wouldn't know they had even one dog by how clean the place was!  I was impressed to see they fed Taste of the Wild to their dogs, and there were dogs running all over their office not in cages.  The staff was so kind and they took a great amount of time with Wigzi, all talking to him and making sure that they labeled his crate as "flight risk" to keep him safe.  You could tell he was going to have the best chance at life there, and I felt so blessed to have been able to get him into a wonderful place that has more experience than I do.     

I'm very pale due to my allergy pill roofie....
There will definitely be more to come on this trip, but I am exhausted tonight.  Castles, abandoned homesteads, wildlife, oh my!  It will be worth the wait, I promise...  I'm glad I am back to writing.  I missed you!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Prayers answered!

This morning on my personal Facebook page I asked for people who believed in prayer to send up prayers for me, and promised a blog post later.  What I had in the works was a "game changer" for Wigzi the little feral dog.

For the last 3 weeks I have not noticed any real change in Wigzi's rehabilitation progress.  He still runs from me, is scared to death, and has not bonded with a single human.

I have combed the internet sending email after email, talking on the phone to rescue after rescue, trying to find Wigzi a place that would work with him.  A place that would give him all the time and patience that he needed to learn to trust people and a place that would give him a quality of life if rehabilitating him wasn't possible.

I did receive one "yes" last week from a rescue in upstate New York, but it just felt off.  The rescue was quick to say yes in regards to admitting him to their program but I felt like I was trying to stuff a round peg into a square hole.  I might have succeeded in finding Wigzi a place to go, but my fear was it wouldn't be the right fit for him.  I am a huge believer that the more you push against the universe, the universe will push back and trying to arrange transport between a transport group in conjunction with the receiving rescue was too much for me to handle!  (I am a concrete kinda girl that needs exact times and dates when making plans...) This paired with the fact that I am leaving to go on a 10 day camping trip with The Reluctant Farmer's family, of who I have never met, was nearly enough to make me come unglued!

So, in a last ditch effort to find Wigzi a home, The Reluctant Farmer found a sanctuary in Nebraska that looked AMAZING!  I contacted them and they promised me they would discuss Wigzi's case this morning with their directors and let me know of their decision afterwards.

Today at lunch I received word that the miracle Wigzi needed was indeed happening.  Wigzi will be on his way to Hearts United for Animals, in Nebraska.

Here's what they say about themselves:

Hearts United for Animals is a no-kill shelter, sanctuary and animal welfare organization dedicated to the relief of suffering. We take the creatures who are lost, afraid, hungry or ill and comfort them, give them a warm soft bed, good food, medical care and most of all, love.

Hearts United for Animals is not a typical shelter. The dogs share large yards where they romp and play with friends. We know and love every one of our dogs. Every dog at Hearts United for Animals has been altered and is current on heathcare. We can tell you in detail about their personalities, likes and dislikes.

Hearts United for Animals is located on 65 acres, and is a place of happiness, joy and love. Everything we do is in the best interest of the dogs. Our primary concern is what will make them happy. We take dogs who have been abused, and we heal their bodies and their hearts. Hearts United is a place to celebrate the joy of life.

Today my prayers were answered and in 48 hours we will start our journey to Kansas, via Nebraska, where a very deserving little dog will start the next chapter of his life.  I haven't been able to stop crying tears of happiness today, and I am in awe of the miracle that has unfolded for Wigzi.

You know that feeling you get when you know when something is right?!  This is right.  This is exactly how this is supposed to unfold.  I can feel it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

How Dogs Became our Best Friend

Brought to you by our friends at http://www.theuncommondog.com, I thought this was an interesting story on how dogs became our best friends.


Sunday, September 8, 2013

So long friend...

Our beloved Andy died today, and to some people he would be "just a rabbit" but to The Reluctant Farmer he was her heart.  Andy was a Flemish Giant rabbit, and was quite impressive with his 20 pound size, feet as big as your open hand, and long eyelashes that would make most woman jealous.  

To go with his giant size, was an even bigger personality.  He was loved by so many of our neighbors and local children, and he was a sucker for a carrot and oatmeal!  People loved to visit Andy when they would visit us, and when we moved his hutch in the spring, several neighbors remarked just how much they missed seeing him everyday.

We will miss him too.

I was standing at the sink doing dishes when I heard dogs barking frantically, and asked The Reluctant Farmer to go check on our chickens thinking that maybe one of them was loose and the dogs were barking at it.  Two of our dogs came running inside and I noticed blood on one's coat.  Assuming there was a dog fight, and still missing one dog, The Reluctant Farmer ran outside to find the other dog and she discovered Andy's body.

My heart hurts and I feel sick.  I know the dogs were just doing what dogs do, but it still hurts.... 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The people of Mumford & Sons

 Don't go downtown they said.

The people that are coming to town are going to be weird, drug using hippies that are going to do nothing but cause trouble!

Lock your doors, turn off your lights, heighten security around your property!

Nothing good will come from this!

I braved the paranoia, hysteria, signed up to work at the beer tent Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from 8pm-1am and you know what?

I met some of the most AMAZING people I have ever met, from ALL over the world!







Massachusetts and North Carolina







New York




West Virginia





South Africa and Ireland


I met people from 19 states and 6 countries who were all in our town to have a good time, and I received "thank you for sharing your town with us" hundreds of times!

I hope to do it again one day!