If you spend any time here on the farm with us, you will undoubtedly notice this twice daily call emanating from the kitchen.
"Vit-ee-Yums!!" "Who wants vit-ee-yums?"
The tradition started with our first farm dogs, Sadie (a quirky Bernese Mountain Dog),
Maddie (our 170 pound Newfoundland),
and Hickory, our elder Norwich Terrier. At the time they were taking glucosamine and arthritis medication.
The "Vit-ee-yums" call was Hubbs' way of signaling to our older dogs that it was time for their medicine. The word, itself, came from Hubbs' grandmother who referred to vitamins as vit-ee-yums.
Over the years, vit-ee-yum time became a tradition. Today, none of our three dogs needs medications, but they sure look forward to the treat attached to the "vit-ee-yum" call.
Even Ivy cat has climbed aboard the Vit-ee-yum train and joins the dogs in the kitchen when the call goes out. The typical fare is a piece of hard-boiled egg, but can include the random leftover such as sausage, or a piece of cheese, etc. As each of the dog receives their treat, Ivy meows and meows... asking for her treat as well. She typically gets a tablespoon of buttermilk or milk (unless there is a little leftover fish that she can score).
Even Black Sammie, when he would stay with us on the farm, knew the meaning of vit-ee-yums!
He never missed a chance for a treat and was famous for stealing bread from the chicken yards!
Luckily for them, farm life is built on routine. It's a necessity.
From time to time I receive comments asking about the origins of our farm animals. Most of the book chapters that I have shared, thus far, deal with just this subject.
Although he does not yet have a chapter (one will be coming, though), our Brown Sammie has quite an interesting story.
Many of you might remember some of the funnier parts to his story (ie: the roof-sitting habit he had when living with his first family - our sons - in North Carolina.)
And if you've followed along for the past few years, you will remember that Chester was originally Tyler and his Mom's puppy.
Chester was ill-suited to apartment life and was threatened with death by a neighbor who had tired of Chester's daily whining while home alone. He is now living his best life here on the farm. And thankfully he did end up growing into those ears!
One story that I have not delved into in detail is that of our Annie. She will eventually have a chapter all to herself, but for now, I'll tell you the synopsis.
With wonderful Oakely and unique Sammie remaining, we decided we wanted to add another rescue to the mix. We had heard very good stories about our local dog rescue (a no-kill, privately owned, non profit rescue that was funded by donations and manned by volunteers.) We perused their website and found a young black and white, medium sized dog there that looked like perhaps she was a Boston Terrier mix. At least that was her coloring.
We arranged an appointment with the rescue to meet this girl. Our grandson, Tyler, was three at the time and was spending the weekend with us. I was curious to see how she would react to a child. Tyler came along to meet this little girl.
The rescue estimated her age to be between 2 and 4 months. She had been found, abandoned in a shed in the woods. Sadly, this time of abandonment was during the frigid winter months. She was nearly starved to death and afraid of everything - screaming when anyone approached her. By the time a week had passed, she had begun to put on a little weight and was allowing her caregivers to touch her.
Ordinarily I try to pick dogs that are outgoing and friendly, but there was something about this shy little girl that spoke to me and we decided to take the risk. Knowing that she would need a crash course in love, I spent her first week on the farm sitting with her on the couch.
We would go outside for potty breaks and play, but when we were not actively doing something, we were sitting by her side. Slowly, the trust began to grow and she relaxed.
Day by day she was getting more and more accustomed to her life on the farm.
And although we kept her on a leash for the first couple of weeks, she began to get bolder and bolder. After a few months, the tail that she had kept so close to her body between her legs began to loosen up and wag. Eventually that tail found it's permanent home curled up over her back.
It wasn't long until Annie understood the rules of the farm, ie: no chasing animals, no grabbing chickens or ducks, etc.
The leash became a thing of the past and she was allowed to run freely with us. And though she followed the rules for the most part, she would occasionally steal an egg from the henhouse. I am sure that the starvation she experienced as a puppy made these tasty treats all the more enticing for her. She quickly learned what "leave it" and "drop it" meant.
Annie was a several-year work in progress. When we would have large groups of people at the farm, Annie would stay behind in the house where she felt safest. Her first big test came on the day that Amanda was married. We had 250 guests for an all-day wedding extravaganza and allowed Annie the run of the farm. She came through the day with flying colors.
She is an athletic force of nature... both in speed and endurance. Chasing tennis balls is her absolute favorite. When we hike in the woods, Annie runs circles around us. She has learned that deer are off limits, but occasionally has to be reminded as they bound across our path. It's been a couple years since she has tangled with a skunk or a porcupine (knock on wood) and hopefully the early run-ins she had with both have taught her a valuable lesson.
To this day, she has a tiny wild streak in her and takes off on woodsy adventures from time to time. She is no longer a shy, little girl, but a strong, self-assured keeper-of-the-farm. If allowed, she loves to chase the horses in from the pastures. She loves our adventures in the woods and is our constant companion. If we are on the couch, she is right there, curled up beside us. Unlike Chester, she saves her kisses for just the right moment and understands personal space - giving us little "air kisses" around, but seldom on, our faces.
Annie was a big win for us and proves that with LOVE, all things are possible!
Interestingly, we had a DNA analysis done of Annie so that we might know what dog breeds she was and the results were as follows: