Spring 2016 in the Shoals

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We had a warm Christmas, then a cold new year, another spell of warm, and the next day snow flurries. This time of year, if you don’t like today’s weather, just wait twenty-four hours and you’ll get what you like. Forsythia, quince and star magnolias were blooming Christmas and having a partial re-bloom now. The last time we had weather like this, we had a hard freeze in the middle of April which killed a lot of trees and shrubs. I had one plum tree that split open along the length of the trunk when the running sap froze. Bark fell off of dogwoods around the trunks. Several of mine died and a few others still are on life support.

Daffodils are blooming; wheat and canola are looking well. Farmers are getting fields ready for corn. They spent most of the day and night this week getting fields plowed before the two or three inches of rain predicted for this week started. The area that I’ve been filling in with heirloom daffodils from old home sites is looking nice this spring. A couple of years of adding more bulbs, and the area should look spectacular.


The Hooligans have been having a rumble every night the last couple of months. I thought they were after the many coyotes in the area. One night when I got home from work and fed, I noticed Patches limping badly. The next morning when I checked her, I noticed what looked like a gunshot hole, but quickly decided that it wasn’t. With a hole that size in the area of her shoulder, she wouldn’t be breathing much less limping. It had to be a coyote or stray dog. She played the pitiful look for all it was worth.


After her veterinarian’s office opened, I made an appointment for her the next morning. Saturday morning I got up early, made a cup of coffee before going out into the garage. I hid a leash in my jeans pocket and opened the door. As soon as she came to me, I grabbed her collar and snapped the leash on. I checked the other two and couldn’t find any wounds on them. After we get to the office, she gets shaved and she is ripped up with several holes up and down her shoulder and leg. She has surgery later in the day to install two drains and started antibiotics and had to stay over the weekend. Levi was just lost without her. He didn’t want to rough house with Blackie. It was like we had lost a family member. 


I called my neighbors after I got home asking if they had seen any stray dogs around. One of them mentioned that Blackie had something very large eating on it in the side yard. They backed up and Blackie looked up at them with blood all over her face, with an “I dare you to try to take it away” expression.  It turned out to be a huge groundhog. Apparently Patches made the mistake of picking the wrong end. I asked Blackie if groundhog was on her allergy list. Apparently it was, as she spent a couple of days itching and scratching.


Normally I have trouble getting her to leave the office. When I picked her up Tuesday, she was ready to go home. She’s still trying to get an infection in the biggest bite hole at the top of her shoulder. She sees the hydrogen peroxide bottle or the purple stuff; she heads for the lower forty.


On her follow-up visit she had to get petted by everyone in the office and muzzle their dogs. She took exception to one dog which growled at her. I’m so glad I had a good hold on her leash.


Back in February I volunteered as a photographer for the Jake Landers Bluegrass Music Festival at the historic Ritz Theater in Sheffield. Ten hours of great music by Gary Waldrep band, Iron Horse, Hallmark Sisters, Kay Bain, Savannah Grass, Southern Strangers & Jake Landers. Some of the best fiddle, banjo and mandolin players were there. One interesting instrument was a fiddle on one side and a mandolin on the other. 


Next I obtained a press pass via the Colbert County Reporter and attended my high school ladies’ basketball 4A state championship game. I drove down to Birmingham early and caught the Lauderdale County girls winning their fifth straight 3A state championship. It was an awesome experience being on the side lines. It was hard not cheering for my teams while in the press section. Our Deshler ladies won their second straight state championship, and seventh since the ladies were allowed to compete in basketball. When I was at Deshler, the only women’s organized sport was track. We played basketball in PE class.


The eagles that I’ve been watching and photographing for the last several years had a territorial fight with other eagles. The female suffered a fractured leg and will be rehabbing at Auburn for a few months. The poor male is not able to hunt plus protect the eaglets. It’s such a sad situation.


This year I’ve decided that I can’t handle reclaiming my flower beds plus do a veggie garden. I’m only going to have a few Cherokee purple tomatoes in large containers that came with some trees I purchased. I started my seeds last weekend. Blackberry, privet, honeysuckle and hackberries have become overwhelming and it’s time to take back my yard.


My hummingbird feeders are up waiting for the first visitor to arrive.