Good Neighbors Blog

From quirky extras that didn’t make it into the magazine to behind the scenes looks into the making of Country – we’ve curated photos and stories we think you’ll enjoy. Won’t you be our neighbor?

Friday Funny Photography: Sidewalk Squirrel

Friday Funny Photography: Sidewalk Squirrel

Our Country Friday Funny Photography snapshot for August 29, 2014: Sidewalk Squirrel by Carrol Betts of Chiefland, Florida.

Do you have a clever caption for this fun photo? We’d love to hear it!

The Best Hobby: Hunting Morels

Hunting Morels

Hunting Morels


Story by Jack Hart
Normal, Illinois

Hunting Morels
When my folks moved from southern Illinois to central Illinois in the late 1950s, I quickly became an enthusiast of morel mushrooms. I knew nothing about mushrooms until the move, so the world of fungi was new to me when my brother-in-law took me out into the woods in pursuit of the elusive morel.

As the years went by, I became addicted. My wife gave me a 35mm camera one year for Christmas, and I also developed an addiction to nature photography. So now I had two hobbies, and for about three weeks each spring, I could be found in the timber looking for dead elm trees. That’s where most morels grow in our part of the country.
The key to finding morels is discovering that first one. What a thrill to see it! Finding just one almost always means there will be a group of them in and around the base of the elm.

I couldn’t have asked for a better hobby. It got me out in nature, got me some exercise, let me photograph Mother Nature in all her glory — and I took home some of the best eating ever, too.

 

Have you ever gone mushroom hunting?

Aug. 27, 2014: Today’s Words to Live By

Today's Words to Live By

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Anne moves the herd of North Country Sheep out to the pasture.

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Anne converted her truck into a mobile vet unit.

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Taffy's hoof gets a much-needed trim.

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Bonita is totally relaxed as Anne floats the Saddlebred mare's teeth.

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian

Sugar, a Miniature Schnauzer, gets a house call.


    Story and Photos by Anne Yearians
    Tazewell, Virginia

    A Day in the Life of a Veterinarian
    I knew that I was going to be a veterinarian as early as middle school. My family ran a farm; I wanted to know what medicines are best for pneumonia and how to tube a newborn lamb.

    After graduating from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005, I went to work at a large-animal practice for about three years in Montgomery County.

    My husband, Henry, and I were married in July 2006. I’d known him in high school; we’d lost touch, but we reconnected.

    I had always intended to go home to Floyd County, and fate found us doing just that after our son, Clay, was born in 2007. I come from a small town in southwestern Virginia where you know all your neighbors well enough to ride your horse across their property as everyone waves. The mountains are awe-inspiring, and the spring is so green that it must be close to the color of the Irish countryside.

    Henry and I wanted to raise Clay with a large extended family nearby. I had reached the point professionally where I was ready to be out on my own, and we also wanted to farm. So we moved home and rented some of my family’s land. Henry started farming, and we bought a load of Holstein steers and a flock of sheep to raise along with my horses.

    I started a small, mixed-animal practice called Crab Orchard Veterinary Services. At first I was entirely mobile, which was tons of fun. I visited sections of the county that I’d never seen before. Then the business began to evolve. Last fall I added a small-animal surgery and have been blessed to expand quickly without sacrificing time with my family.

    We handle large-animal calls within the day. It isn’t always easy to be on time, but we make it work. There is so much need, and I truly enjoy working with large animals.

    Running my own business wouldn’t be possible without Henry’s support, my sister-in-law Ashley Fisher’s help and Tonya Boggs’ animal wrangling. Tonya, one of our technicians, helps hold animals, runs tests and cleans up after us!

    A couple of high school kids are riding with me this summer. They’re great. I enjoy teaching, and it’s a way for them to find out if they’re really interested in the veterinary field.

    Monday
    Monday morning always comes too early. I get up, pack for daycare, drop Clay off there and then go discover what’s waiting for me in the office parking lot. After that, anything goes. Today I never stopped to finish my can of soda. I was busy all morning with a variety of cases, including two heart failures that I’m managing. These are precious old furry friends that we just can’t bear to lose, so we keep helping them along.

    Mixed in with the day’s puppies was an old friend suffering from cancer. This dog is one of those really special ones, and the whole family just rallies around him. His mom, auntie and grandma were all in the room while we removed fluid from his abdomen so that he could breathe better. As the fluid drained, his color came back, he started wagging his tail and he became himself again. We all knew that these measures were temporary, but we weren’t ready to give up yet.

    The afternoon was filled with horses. The county fair is coming up, so we did last-minute Coggins tests. Without the tests, which screen for illnesses, the horses can’t go to the fair.

    In the evening I had to go back out because a friend’s parents found their old dog down. We decided that it was time for him to go to doggy heaven. Those moments, although difficult, can be fulfilling. I know I’m ending an animal’s suffering and helping the two-leggers start the grieving and healing process.

    Tuesday
    This morning Clay was in a really good mood, making the trip to daycare so much nicer. We’re at that stage where we’re trying to take away his pacifier, and some mornings are not easy!

    As soon as I reached the office, I had an unscheduled appointment that took a few minutes to work up. I usually run a little behind schedule during the day.

    Then my student Jessica and I ran to look at some cats for a disabled woman. People like her are the reason I do small-animal house calls. Some clients just can’t get to the office, while others have too many pets to fit in their cars.
    Today I had tons of vaccination appointments, so I had the chance to enjoy the puppies and kittens. I get to watch them grow up until their 16-week appointments at least.

    At the second-to-last call, I was taking some Coggins tests from three donkeys that were for sale. Henry had been looking for a donkey to guard our sheep. These had been raised with sheep, so after a quick phone call to confirm that he wanted one, we became the new owners of a 10-month-old jack. Now we have to name him, and I have to finish halter-breaking him!

    After a pork chop dinner with Henry, I walked over to my grandmother’s house to sit with her and to visit with my mom. I’ve been very lucky that much of my extended family lives close by. When I came home, Henry and I chatted for a few minutes before going to bed. We’re going to have a ton of farmwork to do tomorrow with our Holstein steers leaving to go to the feedlot.

    Wednesday
    No alarm clock this morning! I woke up at 6:50 thanks to Abbey, my three-legged cat, telling me that she needed to go outside. And there was excitement in the air about the cattle work.

    We got Clay up and dressed, and then I ran him over to my mother’s before joining Henry. He had already gotten the cattle into the neighbor’s working facility and was weighing them. The buyer soon appeared with the semi and cattle trailer. It was raining steadily as we sorted some of our neighbor’s steers from of ours.

    Once we’d sorted and weighed them, we ran them onto the trailer. Henry led the semi out of our valley and back onto the four-lane road. Meanwhile, I helped load the errant steers and the two we’re keeping onto my brother’s trailer for transport back to their respective fields. We were blessed to have help from our neighbors the Bowens and my brother, John. It was a great feeling of accomplishment and pride to send out our first load of cattle. My husband did a fine job!

    Thursday
    Jessica and I tranquilized a bull with a sore foot. The bull was rather even-tempered, but we had to dart him because he might have damaged the working facilities, which were a bit shaky with older posts and rusty nails. After tranquilizing him, we treated the foot safely.

    Jessica is going back to school next week, so we took her out for a long lunch to celebrate. We appreciate everything she’s done for us and will miss her. Our lunch was interrupted by a dog that might have swallowed a string. The best-laid plans of mice and men …

    Friday
    I had a short day scheduled, with the morning spent at the office seeing abscesses and giving vaccines. We got a referral from another veterinarian today, which was a good sign.

    I spent the afternoon at a few calls and caught up on farmwork at home. I had one horse’s teeth to float — that’s what we call contouring and smoothing them with a file — and actually got to spend a few minutes with the herd, petting and paying attention to them. Being with the horses is so therapeutic for me.

    Then I caught our pony, Taffy, and trimmed her feet for my nephew Johnny’s birthday party. Ashley is having the party at her house — it’s supposed to be a circus theme, and Taffy will be one of the main attractions.

    Henry and I also worked our ewe lambs. We decided to vaccinate them before we send them out with the rams. After that I ran back to the office and installed software on our computer. Then Ashley and I traded vehicles. I drove to pick up Clay and my nephew while she went to the grocery store. When we got home, Johnny and Clay played like crazy and Johnny didn’t want to leave.

    A couple of friends came to visit and stayed for dinner. We had plenty of homegrown beef to feed everyone, and I made coleslaw. We stayed up entirely too late talking.

    Saturday
    The day at the office started slowly, and then all of a sudden it was crazy. My truck had to go into the shop, so I was driving my SUV. We’re renovating the office, and a man showed up to work on the window today. We worked to the sound of reciprocating saws tearing through studs.

    Ashley and I left early to get to the party. I ran to the store and picked up one last gift before heading to a horse vaccine appointment.

    Then I ran home, changed clothes and caught Taffy. Our trailer was buried behind other farm equipment, so I tied the birthday presents to the saddle and walked about a mile to the party.
    Taffy was a hit! Tons of kids wanted to ride. Clay hadn’t been that interested, and then suddenly he was riding around as if he had done it all his life. The party lasted well into the evening.

    Sunday
    I answered phone calls about coughs, sore paws and deworming puppies. Fortunately, I had time to enjoy most of the day with family and to appreciate life’s joyful gifts.

    The Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    The view entering the Gardens.

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    One of the beautiful sculptures.

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    The Bamboo Forest!

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens

    Birmingham Gardens


      Photos and Story by Laura Bauer

      I discovered the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on a whim. I was in Alabama for a dog show and looking for something to do on my free day. Birmingham has no shortage of things to do and see. It’s  Alabama’s  largest city.

      I found it to be a unique city in that it wrapped a wealth of history and southern charm into a modern, affluent package. I skipped out on the large zoo, museums and galleries galore, five-star dining, and rooftop bars in favor of the 67-acre Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

      Surprisingly, the parking and admission was (and still is) free at the Birmingham Gardens. If you want to indulge, enjoy a meal from the seasonal menu at the Garden’s Café.

      Despite visiting in an off-season, the gardens were spectacular. Immediately upon entering the garden, you’re surrounded by stunning sculptures, and it gets better from there. I loved the wide variety of garden themes: vegetable, formal, rose, Japanese, and woodland (to name only a sliver of them).

      The Japanese garden was one of my favorites. There were bushes of flowers dripping over ponds, classic Japanese Maples, koi fish, oriental bridges and arches, and (the coolest part) a giant bamboo forest. It was as peaceful as you’d imagine.

      Another favorite of mine was the formal garden. It was simple and perfectly manicured. While I was walking through, a wedding party was ushering a bride in for photos. Her white dress looked striking against the green hedges and slick lawn. (Unfortunately, I didn’t grab a picture of that.)

      The Birmingham Gardens is a huge park, and I did have time to explore it in its entirety.  If I’m ever in Birmingham again, I will definitely go back. I highly recommend that you visit if you’re in the area!

       

      Interested in visiting? Check it out: Birmingham Botanical Gardens!