The city of Pleasant Hill is fortunate to have a small business that pride themselves on giving personalized support for the animals in your life. Pleasant Hill Pet and Livestock, located on the corner of High Street and State Route 7 Highway, does just that.
Kristine Gray, owner of Pleasant Hill Pet and Livestock for the last 26 years, offers personalized attention to the needs of your animals and household pets. The locally owned business services your local livestock and pet needs through concierge service for you far beyond the big chains or eCommerce retailers. The handy pick up and go option and standard shipping for surrounding areas makes it very convenient to shop local.
The goal at the beginning was to use her life long experience with livestock, horses, and love of animals in a business format. The current property became for sale and had an existing “feed store” presence. The current occupant decided to keep their “feed store” business and moved to another location. So here Gray was, the new kid in town. As of today, Pleasant Hill Pet & Livestock still has some of their original customers walk through the front door that first welcomed them 26 years ago. Their inspiration was to connect and create a “family” of customers with livestock and pets in Pleasant Hill and the surrounding area. Little did she know she would still be here, loving every minute of the day with her customers.
Gray welcomes new and existing customers in the store for consultations to ensure the best products to meet personalized needs of your livestock and household pets. Training information is also available for you in the store from veterinarians and other animal-loving professionals. The friendly staff is always ready and available to help with your questions and concerns regarding anything from pet, livestock, or wildlife concerns.
Let experts take care of your pet’s nails. Once a month Pleasant Hill Pet and Livestock offers a Dog & Small Animal Pedicure Day. A furry friend’s fan favorite is happy hour at the doggie treat bar, because our canine friends know it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!
Pleasant Hill Pet and Livestock is dedicated to providing the best for your animals. That’s why they carefully select the best wholesome products to help you take care of your pets and livestock. Life with animals is fun and love filled. There are so many newer breeds of all types of animals for all types of purposes in our lives, so Gray feels the small animal part of her business will continue to evolve, change, and expand. More and more people are moving out into the country and getting animals to raise and enjoy. She enjoys their excitement and listens to their heartache stories, too. As she sits back and reflects on the past 26 years, what she now offers, and on the questions she answers for people, it's incredible to think about just how much she's done. She has been blessed with beautiful relationships throughout the years.

 
 

INGREDIENTS:

 
  • 2/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 – 3 cups whole wheat flour

DIRECTIONS:

    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.
 
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat pumpkin puree, peanut butter and eggs on medium-high until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Gradually add 2 1/2 cups flour at low speed, beating just until incorporated. Add an additional 1/4 cup flour at a time just until the dough is no longer sticky.
  2. Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Using cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes and place onto the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Place into oven and bake until the edges are golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.*
  4. Let cool completely.
 
 

I recently read a Facebook post that compared children from the 1990s to the children of today. The children of the 1990s ran home and announced they had scored three home runs, scraped their knee after falling off their bike, washed it with water from a hose, drank from the hose, rang twelve doorbells and ran away, found a dead rat, and now they were going to go watch Power Rangers on TV. The children of today complained their iPad battery ran out and they acted depressed. An extreme comparison, but one with clarity. Some of our children are relying too much on electronics to entertain them. A lack of nature in a child’s life has been labeled by Richard Louv as “nature deficit disorder.” With it comes disturbing trends including obesity, attention disorders, and depression. There are simple ways to combat nature deficit disorder and some are in your backyard.
 
I introduce you to moth night! Start by hanging a white sheet from a rope in your yard and shine some lights on it so that the whole sheet is illuminated. With more than 10,000 species of moths in North America, moth night will never get old. Moths can be observed year-round, as long as the temperature is above freezing. You shouldn’t handle a moth because you could rub off the dust or tiny scales from its wings. Digital cameras can be used to take photos and zoom in. Later, the pictures can be viewed on the laptop or television so you can identify what you saw. Just as there are bird guides, there are moth and insect guides. Imagine a giant and glorious
green Luna Moth appearing on your white sheet and then finishing family moth night with s’mores to celebrate.
 
While waiting for the moths (and other insects and flies) play some “shadow theater.” There’s fairy tale shadow theater where you can act out Cinderella putting on her glass slipper. There’s shadow theater trivia where you act out, “Who was the first President of the United States?” What better way to act out George Washington than pretending to chop down a cherry tree?! For the budding scientist in your family, conduct some experiments. For example, place three flashlights on a table in front of the sheet, each one covered with a different color of cellophane. Perhaps different moths are attracted to different colors of light? Predators of moths are called
“moth-ers.” Set up moth night for several nights in a row and from a safe distance (of course) your budding scientist can make note of who eats moths and insects. (How exciting would it be to see an owl, bat, or spider eating a moth at your personal nightly buffet?!) 
 
There is research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults. National Moth Week was the last week of July, so happy mothing!
 
(Search “Science Friday: Go Mothing” for some more ideas.)
 

Animals bring great joy to their owners. Dogs and other furry friends make owners smile regardless of how big or small they might be.
Pet parents frequently go to great lengths to care for and pamper their dogs. But even the most attentive owners may overlook signs that a pet is not feeling well.
Animals do express pain. Acute pain, which can occur if someone accidentally steps on a dog’s tail, will result in a vocal yelp, but a pet who has subtle or chronic pain is unlikely to cry out, and will instead exhibit other signs of pain.
Pet owners can familiarize themselves with certain behaviors, physical signs and, mobility issues that can be indicative of pain.
Pets may exhibit behavioral changes that indicate they’re in pain.
They may avoid petting or other touch, lick or bite areas of the body, or more frequently bark.
Restlessness, which may include not being able to find a comfortable position when lying down or even showing less affection to owners.
Physical changes may give clues that a pet is in pain. There are many signs of physical pain to watch for such as shaking or trembling of the body and arching the back or curling up into a ball.
Lack of mobility is evidence of pain or possibly a failure to lie down.
Certain animals may refuse to eat, while others may exhibit noticeable changes in eye brightness if they are in pain. Elevated heart rate also may indicate a pet is in pain.
Pet owners are urged to visit a vet if their pet is behaving abnormally, as various behaviors may indicate a pet is in pain.

If there has been a silver lining to 2020 and the upheaval caused by COVID-19, it's that more people have found they have more time on their hands to care for a new pet.

"Adopt don't shop" is a mantra popular among many pet lovers. It calls to mind that there are thousands of dogs currently residing in shelters that are in need of good homes. Supporters of "adopt don't shop" urge people in the market for new pets to adopt animals from local shelters rather than buy them from breeders.

The Humane Society of the United States says that there were approximately 10,000 puppy mills operating in the United States in 2019. Prospective pet owners who want to do their part against animal cruelty can adopt a needy pet from an area shelter. Some shelters are filled with pets from the local area. Other shelters work with rescue groups that transport dogs from various parts of the country. When adopting a shelter dog, keep these tips in mind.

Understand the responsibility first

Dogs make wonderful, boisterous and loving additions to a home. Much like having a child, welcoming a puppy into a home means spending weeks or months training the animal. This may result in initial damage to belongings and time constraints on people's schedules. Older dogs may be set in their ways and also require training, or they may have special medical needs. Be sure to weigh all of the requirements carefully before adopting the animal.

Get a behavioral and health assessment

The Humane Society of Ocean City indicates that an established shelter that prides itself on animal rescue will provide health and behavioral assessments for all dogs. Personality, energy level, shyness, and aggression levels will be determined before putting the dog up for adoption. This helps people find a dog that meshes with their expectations and lifestyles.

Match the household

Consider the household's lifestyle and pace pre-pandemic to see if it is conducive to having a pet. While there may be plenty of time now when people are working remotely and children are not attending in-person classes, things may change in the months to come as life returns to normal. Can a dog still fit in when responsibilities change? Can you modify to accommodate the dog?

Look at the shelter itself

Make sure you adopt from a shelter that is clean, friendly and organized and has follow-up resources. Reliable shelters typically conduct interviews of prospective pet owners and will ask for references. Be leery of rescues or shelters that are dirty, do not ask pertinent questions and seem to have dogs that appear unwell.

Expect a fee

Shelters and rescue groups vary in regard to adoption costs. Anything from $150 to $400 may be collected. Keep in mind that 25 to 30 percent of dogs in shelters are purebreds, according to a report by CBS News. Adoption fees can be a small price to pay for a loving dog.

It’s Christmas in July so it seems fitting to talk about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  Its emerald green body, ruby-red throat, and white breast seem to emulate the colors of Christmas.  Like tinsel on a Christmas tree, the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds enhance our flower gardens that are at their height of glory.  The Cardinal Flower, Trumpet Creeper, and Bee Balm are all supplying that sweet nectar while our porches and decks are adorned with red hummingbird feeders so we can enjoy them up close.  Hummingbirds are the only birds in the world that can fly forward and backward, hover, and even upside down!  They are called hummingbirds because of the sound their wings make – wings that can beat up to 80 times per second.      

This brings us to some myths or common questions about feeding our Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  The first one is about nectar.  As a general rule, never feed wildlife what they cannot find naturally in their own habitat.  For example, when a hummingbird sucks the sweet nectar from a Trumpet Creeper, the nectar is not red.  Nectar, in its natural form, is clear.  Studies have shown that dyed food can cause higher mortality as well as tumors so never buy red-colored nectar and don’t add red food coloring to your homemade nectar.  It’s no mistake that hummingbird feeders are often red and purple just as a Baltimore Oriole’s feeder is orange.  These are the colors that mimic the color of their food source.  Let the feeder attract the birds and keep the food natural.  Nectar can be made by dissolving sugar in water in a 1 to 4 ratio.  Bring it to a boil which kills any bacteria, let it cool, and store it in the refrigerator.  Mixing honey with water can grow a dangerous fungus that attacks a hummingbird’s tongue and artificial sweeteners aren’t natural.  So only use pure cane sugar.  If the nectar in your feeder becomes cloudy, it should be replaced.  

Last month I was asked how to keep ants away from nectar.  I was also intrigued by a recent Facebook post on the same subject that had several solutions, most of which were very harmful to birds such as Vaseline and oil.  Ant moats filled with water will deter ants and they hang right above your feeder.  Because they are filled with water they are safe not only to hummingbirds but to other birds that may be attracted to the water and the ants.  Be aware of ant moats that come with permethrin insecticide.  Like Vaseline and oil, it is also very harmful to birds.  

Hummingbird feeders should be out from April 15 until October 31.  As you keep watch over your hummingbird feeders keep an eye out for rarities!  If you see a hummingbird that looks different, post a photo of it to the Missouri Rare Bird Alert Facebook page or contact your local Audubon society. Bird photos always brighten any day.

Sitting on top of a hill, established in 1974 is an animal clinic many communities and surrounding area residents visit often with their furry friends. The Pleasant Hill Animal Clinic is a trusted medical facility that has five full-time and one part-time veterinarians on staff, 20 support staff, and two groomers which allow for the care of many loved animals. The clinic offers preventative medicine and surgery for large and small animals. 

There is no need to worry about emergency situations. The clinic has a 24-hour emergency on-call veterinary specifically for after hours.

They strive to give the very best care to all creatures great and small by continued training and upgrading equipment and technology.

There are a host of common questions asked to our community animal providers regarding basic healthcare, nutrition, and grooming. One common question is if dog owners should try to trim their animal's nails or let the professional do it. The response was owners can cut toenails because nails continually grow so routine trimming is best. The clinic can train owners how to trim nails but there are always some furry friends that won’t be very cooperative. 

The clinic believes the future is bright even in challenging times. The human-animal bond is an amazing thing. Animals are a source of comfort, companionship, hobbies, and occupation. The Pleasant Hill Animal Clinic will continue to strive to provide the very best care for the animals in the city of Pleasant Hill and surrounding communities. 

 

We moved to Pleasant Hill in 2003 and I started birding in 2008.  One of the birds that first captured my attention was the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher.  Up to 15” long, it’s the tail that splits like a pair of scissors that makes it easy to spot as it perches on a fence or telephone pole.  My drive into Pleasant Hill from the north always guaranteed me at least seven sightings of the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, often more!  When I turned onto 7 Highway from 50 Highway my first sighting would be at the commuter lot where they nested on the utility poles.  As I continued south, they would dot the east side of the highway along the fences and utility lines.  Finally, on the north side of the parking lot at one of our local banks, I would often see babies perched on the lower branches of some trees while the adults dived for insects from the utility lines across the street. 

Scissor-tailed Flycatchers eat insects including grasshoppers, crickets, and beetles. They also eat fruit. It’s not out of the ordinary to see them diving in flight, foraging on the ground, or even hopping from branch to branch in live oak, post oak, red mulberry, or hackberry trees and shrubs.  Between foraging, they often return to a perch on a fence, wire, or tree branch.  Its tail gives the illusion that it belongs in the tropics.  The west coast of Central America from Guatemala to Panama is where it spends the winter and its migration north to breed and raise its young, each spring, includes Pleasant Hill.    

Unfortunately, 7 Highway north of town is no longer adorned with Scissor-tailed Flycatchers.  Recently, I wondered why and the investigator in me paid more attention to my surroundings during my drive.  I couldn’t believe how obvious the reason became!  A fence and overgrowth of bushes, shrubs, and trees had been removed to reveal a mowed and manicured field to a new housing development.  Further south, an agricultural field had been turned to a sod farm and the fence and over-growth of bushes had been removed from around its border.  A couple of miles later a private landowner removed his fence and all the shrubs.  As you come into town the trees are gone from the bank’s north side.  There’s a common theme.  Regardless of the quest, no matter the reason, the habitat of our Scissor-tailed Flycatchers had been altered and in some cases, completely removed to reveal what some prefer – a clean and manicured landscape over one that is wild and native.

Our scissors are lost.  They were nothing short of glorious.  Their light gray body and black and white wings provided a contrasting background to the brightly salmon-colored flanks.  If we keep some of our remaining rural areas wild and native, we increase our chances of seeing them return.  What has happened north of town is a reminder that human alteration to our native environment can negatively affect our migratory birds.  

 

 

My husband’s favorite aunt sent us some money to buy some chokecherry bushes. I set out to make the purchase thinking it would be easy to find chokecherry bushes. After all, they are native to Missouri. However, I quickly learned that chokeberry bushes, another Missouri native, were more popular. I drove to a few local nurseries. I asked for chokecherry bushes and they would show me chokeberry bushes. I called a native nursery and ordered two chokecherry bushes. Can you guess what I received? Yes, I received two chokeberry bushes instead. A pattern developed. The same results continued for a few weeks. 

Out of frustration, I posted a message to a Missouri native plant page on Facebook asking if anyone knew where I could purchase some chokecherry bushes. I even clarified what I was looking for. “I’m looking for chokeCHERRY, not chokeberry," I typed.  Of course, there were several replies about how wonderful chokeberry bushes were. Several people offered to sell me some chokeberry bushes. Some even offered to give me some. Then I received a reply suggesting that I use Latin names so people would understand what it was I was looking for as if typing out the common names wasn’t enough. With a sarcastic voice, I said to myself, “I love Latin names. They are so easy to spell and say.” The Latin name for chokecherry was Prunus Virginiana and chokeberry was Aronia. (By the way, the only Latin name I’ll ever be able to remember is for the Buffalo which is Bison bison.”) 

After posting another message to the same Facebook page using the Latin names, two people suggested I call a nursery over by St. Louis. Sure, it was a four-hour drive each way, but at this point, I would have driven to Nova Scotia. Surprisingly, I heard the magical words. “Yes, we have chokecherry bushes."  It seemed too good to be true.  After a long pause, I asked them to clarify.  “They are chokecherries and not chokeberries,” I asked?  The woman on the phone replied, "Yes.  We have several chokecherry bushes." My husband and I left the house at seven o’clock the next morning and we made our way to Forrest Keeling Nursery in Elsberry, Missouri where we bought two chokecherry bushes and four native trees.    

If you’re wondering why there was so much effort to chase chokecherry bushes, it’s because my husband loves chokecherry jelly. Anytime we pass a selection of homemade jellies in a store or at a farmers market he looks for it. His aunt made it for many years. With her check, she also sent me her recipe for chokecherry jelly. I’m nervous for chokecherry harvest, but I’m also excited and proud to carry on a Kline family tradition. Harvest time will be around late August to early September. Wish me luck! Last summer, I tried canning grape jelly for the first time. It never set. More of a syrup, really, I sarcastically gave it the Latin name "graponia jellyunus liquidiana." 

Our furry friends thrive with consistent patterns.  During the beginning stages of the Covid outbreak, folks spent considerably more time at home.  We are now entering the post-lockdown phase, returning to the lifestyles we previously knew as “our normal.” Suddenly everyone is rushing out the door to get to work, school, ball practice, dinner gathering, and other activities. This is an abrupt change for our furry companions, and domestic cats and dogs alike may be feeling anxious. Anxiety can lead to scratching, pacing, lick sores, and even damaging household behaviors while the pet waits at the home alone, not knowing when to expect his previously consistently-present family members. 

Ways to reduce some of this anxiety include the following:  Maintain regularity; walks and meals should occur at the same time daily - even when you are working from home.  The pet may need short alone-times to adjust to longer alone-times in anticipation of long days at the home without his human companions. This avoids an abrupt, stressful transition.  If the pet is getting fewer walks or playtime, there may be an abundance of energy waiting to be released when you return home after a long day. Try to be patient!  A few minutes of “Fetch!” upon your arrival home can make dinnertime more relaxing and cohesive. An array of chews and toys to rotate during weekdays can help the pet stay busy and active, passing the hours a little faster for Fido or Phoebe.  Remember, they aren’t on a production schedule like their humans, and an extended lack of stimulation can be unhealthy. Finally, soothing music or TV can provide visual and auditory stimulation. Cats reportedly enjoy shows featuring animals.  

In summary, make sure before you leave that you have pre-recorded Pheobe’s favorite Animal Kingdom show and hidden Fido’s treat-filled toys in semi-obvious places around the house!  Okay-okay, let’s say that is not feasible with your hectic schedule, but at least try to maintain some degree of consistency so you don’t find Fido wrapped in your new curtains upon your return home.  ASPCA , 6 Tips & Tricks for Separation Anxiety in Pets, Issue 2, 2020 

From the Pleasant Hill Animal Shelter, “Have I mentioned how fortunate this shelter and every dog we take in are, because of our very own community?" Kayt Whitney did a silent auction for the shelter. I'm not talking about posting just a few things. She asked/begged vendors and local businesses for their goods. She then managed to engage hundreds of people to bid on every single item that she posted individually. This was no small task. She collected over $3,000. Today she brought our first delivery. These are items that we use daily! Bleach, laundry soap, dish soap, spray bottles, and, of course, dog food! The picture does not do the volume of products she brought justice! We are so thankful for Kayt and everyone in the community for keeping our stray dogs happy & healthy. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottoms of our tiny little hearts!”

A fellow birder once told me a story about the Carolina Wren. Each spring, the Carolina Wren will build several nests. He builds each one differently than before. When he is done, he shows her each one and she picks her favorite, but she still makes him take it apart or change it based on her own specifications. I want to be a Carolina Wren. What woman wouldn’t want her husband to build her several dream homes so she could pick her favorite and then insist he makes specific changes until it is perfect? 

I was reminded of this story while watching two pair of Carolina Wrens build nests in my yard these past few days. They are regular residents of my brush pile, but life is busier. I’ve noticed a nest in the eave of my neighbor’s shed. Two more nests are in my hanging plants. Like a cave, they have dug a hole and cleared out space in the dirt. The locations of Carolina Wren nests are very curious. Carolina Wrens have built nests in flowerpots, mailboxes, propane tank covers, old coat pockets, and boots not to mention on the rack of a grill or in the bed of a pickup. The Cornell Lab’s All About Birds website states, “They are versatile nesters.”      

I wanted to know if the story I had heard was true, so I did some research. I learned that both the male and the female will do their part in building a nest. One may stay at the nest while the other gathers materials. The list of materials is quite extensive. Stems, feathers, string, leaves, grasses, pine needles, straw, paper, plastic, shed snakeskins, bark, and branches can all come together in a cup-shaped bed. They do build multiple nests. The first one may take a week or more to build while another can come together in as little as four days. I was comforted to read that males do build multiple nests before the pair makes a final selection. But I also learned something new. Carolina Wrens build their nest with a side entrance that is a woven extension of the nest, similar to our houses that have a front porch or a back entry with a mudroom. Just as women adorn their coffee tables with a candle, a vase of freshly picked flowers, houseplant, or some books, the female Carolina Wren adds nesting material after incubation as if the nest needed just one more final touch to make it perfect.

The joys didn’t end when my Carolina Wrens finished building their nests. One pair is now working hard searching the brush pile for insects to bring to their babies while the other pair is building another nest. Spring is a-whirl with life! I challenge you to pour yourself a cup of coffee and take up temporary residence in a chair on your porch or steps at sunrise. I wish upon you the joys of nesting and all the entertainment they may bring.

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