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What I Buy for My Dogs at Cabela’s

That dog don’t hunt.

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The same could be said about all of the Wayward Dogs, even though two of them are, presumably, retrievers.

Under the care of other people, golden boy Luke and the very black lab-like Charlie Machete might have been OK hunting dogs. Both have a powerful drive to chase birds and bunnies, and they’re not unwilling to give up something they have in their mouths if you ask. (The elderpin, on the other hand, has a mouth like a steel trap – with some missing teeth.)

But, alas, of the Wayward Dogs are gun shy and, I’m sure, too old to be trained for hunting, even if we wanted them to.

These facts, however, do not stop me from eagerly prowling the pet section at Cabela’s – a sporting goods chain that began in my home state of Nebraska.

Actually, I’m kind of obsessed with checking out what the hunters and adventurers who shop there buy for their dogs. Products for hunters and hunting dogs are designed to be durable and weather-resistant.

While much of the pet selection at Cabela’s doesn’t interest me at all – the in-ground fencing systems and electric training collars, for example – some things positively intrigue me.

Highly-reflective, light-up collars, GPS trackers and doggy backpacks – these are the items I drool over in the regular pet aisle and then dig for in the the clearance section, an entire room at the back of the store known as the Bargain Cave.

So far, I haven’t been able to snag a deal on any of the hot items mentioned above, but I have found some steals.

This heavy duty dog bed cover cost $10.77.

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Charlie Machete’s new neoprene vest was only $11. (Regular price: $44.99)

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Why the vest? Charlie Machete doesn’t have a very thick coat.

The neoprene vest, which can actually be trimmed for a custom fit for your dog, can help keep his core warm on cold winter walks (worked well last night) and prevent his underside from turning into mud city when conditions are soggy.

And, no, the camo pattern doesn’t bother me. It’s actually fun to walk through the woods while he’s wearing it. And it looks good with his new Cinnamon pattern waggiwear collar.

Where do you find surprise bargains for your dogs?

Reminders: Check out the deals in my Valentine’s gift guide and enter to win some waggiwear gear of your own!

Note: Cabela’s had nothing to do with this post. I just shop there sometimes and wanted to share the news of my successful bargain hunting.

Whirlwind Nebraska weekend

Sometimes getting out of town without the dogs is exactly what I need.

Especially when I know there will be plenty of cute animals and cool people where I’m headed.

Stop 1: Lincoln

Megan and Crystal

Grinning cousins.

That’s Megan, one of my second cousins on the Wiebe side. When I said I was coming to Nebraska for a  recent weekend, she and her partner Claire kindly allowed me to crash at their Lincoln apartment.

I first stopped for a dinner of homemade noodles and sauce with my best friend Kenton at his mom’s house.

The kitten Megan and Claire recently rescued from a tree welcomed Kenton and me when we arrived at their door.

Megan's kitten

“Mew are you?”

Sadly, I captured no photos of my other cousin Kyle – Megan’s brother – slaying the karaoke crowd later that night at the Ding A Ling Bar in Raymond, Nebraska. (He’s a braver soul than me. I stay far away from karaoke mics.)

I did, however, snap a few pictures – and throw down some cash – the next day at the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market.

I’ve been meaning to get to Lincoln on a Sunday ever since Megan helped me put together a post about the farmers’ market for this blog.

fresh produce at Old Cheney Road Farmers' Market

A Nebraska harvest.

I picked up some fresh produce for a veggie tray I was tasked with providing for my mom’s birthday party later that day.

I also picked up something for the dogs – chewy beef heart treats from Chisholm Family Farm.

Chisholm Family Farms dog treats

Chisholm Family Farm makes it easy to feed your dog raw, natural food and treats.

The booth next door held exactly the kind of gifts I had in mind to present to my mother on her 58th birthday – all-natural beauty products.

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Wingsets natural beauty care.

Wingsets is a Lincoln-based business operated by a husband and wife team. In addition to a huge array of bath, skincare and hair products for people, they have developed a robust line of pet products. I look forward to trying some of those on our pack in the future.

Stop 2: Beatrice

My next stop was my hometown for a family portrait. I let the professional photographer take care of those shots.

Before everyone got together, though, I snapped this shot of my Dad’s friend Rosie’s adorable Yorkshire terriers.

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Ermahgerd! Yorkies!

After the photo session in the park, my dad took me out to the farm where he helps take care of a real menagerie of critters raised for pleasure and food.

Jag and Prowler, the resident German Shepherds he’s been training, greeted us when we rolled up.

skulky german shepherds

“Welcome to the farm!”

Named after the rottweiler I grew up with, Prowler is growing up to be a handsome and mischievous fellow. The advice is to be careful when leaving small items, from caps and t-shirts to plastic bottles, unattended in his presence.

german shepherd dog

“I promise not to steal your water bottle in half an hour.”

Dad loves zooming around the farm on the John Deere Gator. I hopped in the passenger seat, and we said hello to some of his animal friends.

dad on a gator

Just a dad, a gator and a horse.

horse and a John Deere Gator

“Didz u say hai er hay?”

Zipper the horse is a sweet old thing who peacefully resides with a small pack of burros. They have all learned to equate the arrival of the Gator in the pasture with treat time.

burros and baby

“Did someone say treats?”

The bison herd on the other side of the fence knows what the Gator means, too. My dad’s favorite bison is this big-headed bull whose tongue is bigger than my wrist.

buffalo tongue

“Just a little closer.”

Apparently, the resident elk aren’t feeling very friendly this time of year.

But in just a couple hours, on the last stop of my whirlwind Nebraska tour, I would see another hoofed creature.

Stop 3: Peru

From Beatrice, I zoomed to Peru, Nebraska, a very hilly, very small college town where the Rains side of my family has roots.

My grandfather, who is buried in Peru, grew up in the town. He was a hometown football hero there, and it’s where he met my grandmother.

Peru is also where my mother originally met my stepfather in the 1970s. Decades would pass before they came together again and began to build a life together.

We celebrated my mom’s 58th birthday at the gazebo in Neal Park where they were married in 2005.

On this Sunday afternoon, my mother was showered with thoughtful and useful gifts, including a leather jacket, an iPhone and this hoodie I wish I could take credit for:

Walk with a Friend paw print hoodie

Who could say it better?

Of course, there was cake!

Catfish the Boston Terrier resented that no one offered her any.

Boston Terrier peeks onto table

That Boston Terrier needs a booster seat.

After the food was devoured and presents unwrapped, nature treated us all to another gift – a not-so-distant view of a deer.

My mom squealed with delight at the beautiful sight.

deer in the distance

Ermahgerd! Deer!

As you can imagine, by the end of this little roadtrip, I was exhausted. But what a great weekend!

Have you gotten out of town recently? What did you do?

Have you entered the giveaway yet? Don’t miss your chance to win a Lavender Neem Shampoo Bar from Baltimore Bumble Crafts!

The Best Farmers’ Market I’ve Never Been To

Did you know this is National Farmers Market Week?

Well, it is! For two more days!

I don’t know if you shop at farmers’ markets, but they are really awesome. Wayward House is conveniently located directly across the street from a weekly summer market, where we have met a lot of great people and picked up some outstanding food and personal care products. I promise to share more about our favorite vendors in future posts.

Today is all about a market I haven’t been to, but which I would probably attend religiously if I still lived in Lincoln, Nebraska. My super rad cousin Megan Jackson is the Market Manager for the Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market, and she answered the following questions. Photos used with permission.

Tell us about your farmer’s market.

We are a member controlled, non-profit farmers’ market with over 60 seasonal and weekly vendors. We’re Lincoln’s largest food and produce market, with vendors providing seasonal produce and fruit, pastured and cured meats, artisan cheeses, breads, pasta, pastries, hot food, sweet treats, and much more. [Editor’s note: Megan brought artisan doughnuts from The Doughnut Hole to a recent family event that have effectively ruined me on all other doughnuts for the rest of my life.]

Describe the role you play in the farmer’s market.

As the Market Manager, I oversee the general organization of the Market–placing vendors for the week, organizing events like kids’ activities and cooking demos, promoting the Market, and providing resources to customers. I work with a board of directors, comprised of vendors and friends of the market, on vendor selection, program development, and outreach. One of the programs I’m most proud of implementing this year is our matching incentive project for SNAP benefits. Through the month of September, the market will match dollar-for-dollar every SNAP benefit used at Market. This will increase the purchasing power for low-income residents to purchase locally grown, fresh food, putting more money directly into the hands of our local farmers, and connecting more people to local food.

What’s special about the market?

We do more than set up shop every Sunday. It’s our goal and mission to support our local family farmers through direct-market opportunities–expanding community support for and access to local food. How the Market has structured itself as a member-owned, non-profit speaks to the importance of maintaining our integrity and commitment to small farmers and local food.

Why should people support your farmer’s market and farmer’s markets in general?

So many reasons! Farmers’ markets are the best places to go for the freshest local food. You get to know your farmer and know where your food is coming from and how it’s grown. Plus, farmers’ markets enable farmers to keep 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer.

With this current drought hitting the Midwest, farmers need your support more than ever. They are out in their fields literally watering crops by hand, picking weeds in the wee hours of the morning, and doing everything they can to keep both produce and animals alive. The farm and ranch land that supplies our food is at risk and if we do not support our farmers today we may not have local food for tomorrow.

Old Cheney Road Farmers’ Market happens every Sunday April through October at 56th and Old Cheney Road in Lincoln, Nebraska. It is a dog-friendly market!

For more information about this market, check out the website: www.oldcheneyroadfarmersmarket.com

Do you shop at a local farmers’ market? Say something about it in the comments!

Police Dog Trading Cards

Some kids collect sports trading cards.

I did. But I also amassed other random “collectable” items.

Like police dog trading cards!

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These were sponsored by T.O. Haas Tire, a tire company in Nebraska.

My dad, who was a police officer in my hometown of Beatrice, supplied me with the cards.

As I recall, there was a card for Quentin, the local K9 cop my dad helped train. However, that card seems to have been lost over the years.

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What do you think of these? Has anyone else ever heard of police dog trading cards?

Remembering Eric Wiebe

Every family has its legendary characters.

They may act boldly — saving the life of another or achieving a success against odds. They may also possess characteristics — honesty, a booming voice or quick, wry wit — that help them stand out within their clan and even the larger community.

An example of someone like this in my family is my cousin Eric Wiebe.

Eric Wiebe

Regrettably, my memories of Eric are sparse. What I do recall is a John Wayne-like figure with a laugh as big as his hands.

He used those hands to carve beautiful knives and brew his own beer.

Eric passed away in 2009, following an extended battle with cancer. He was 49.

Eric followed our fathers into a career in law enforcement, graduating from the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in the year I was born.

He worked alongside my father at the Beatrice Police Department for six years. It was in that span when Eric dove into a frigid river to save a woman.

My cousin spent the majority of his career in the service of the land, wildlife and intersection of people therein. As a Conservation Officer, he helped introduce people, especially young ones, to the world outside, instilling a respect for nature.

Doing that often involved hunting and fishing.

As a firearms instructor and fisherman, Eric thrived on demonstrating correct techniques and responsible use of an outdoorsman’s tools. This led him to help found the Missouri River Outdoor Expo at Ponca State Park that attracts thousands each year.

The 2012 Expo will be extra special, thanks to a major improvement to Ponca State Park performed in Eric’s name.

Photo courtesy Russell Wenke

The Eric Wiebe Shooting Complex features all-weather ranges for pellet gun, archery, muzzle-loader, .22 rifle, shotgun and slingshot.

Zach and I tried out the various ranges last weekend, during the dedication for the complex, which was covered by the local news.

Me and a muzzle-loader.

The day was emotional but also beautiful. Many of Eric’s friends and other family members traveled long distances to be part of the event.

Although I did not get to know my cousin well in life, it is clear that he touched many lives.

His legacy makes me even more proud to be a Wiebe.

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