Saturday, April 30, 2011

One Damn Bar

Today we went to an agility trial.  Luna and Jake were each entered in 6 runs.  I ended up running both dogs, as Larry has been having back issues for the last while.   Generally his back has been improving, but we went to help set up for our club's flyball tournament yesterday, and things didn't go well for Larry and his back.  The first thing was that he tripped over the handle of a wooden dolly that I had left down on the ground instead of flipping back upright.  Then he thought that it would be okay to unroll the big rolls of rubber matting by pushing them with his foot, but I guess that wasn't the right thing to do either.  So he decided that it didn't make any sense to try run on a dirt floor, in case he ended up jarring his back some more. 

 It did make it rather interesting for me.  For the most part Luna and Jake ran in different rings.  Sometimes it meant that I would have to go and walk the course for one of Luna's runs, but I had already walked Jake's course, but hadn't run him yet.  In other words I had to keep two courses in my head, and might not run the older course until after the one I had just walked.  Running dogs in agility is a bit similar to riding a horse over a jumping course, but I think it is harder.  You and the horse are basically one entity, you go where the horse takes you. Well actually you are supposed to go where you direct the horse.  Sometimes though the horse makes a sudden unexpected move, and the two of you part company.  Been there, done that, not fun.  At that point though, generally you don't have to worry much anymore which direction the course headed. 

 In agility, you have to remember the course that the dog has to take, and then you also have to remember your own 'course', which gets the dog to take it's course correctly.  The path your course takes can be drastically different to the course the dog takes.  Sometimes I had to remember Jake's course, and Luna's course, and also be studying the map for Jake's next course.  Jake was just about the last dog in the ring in all of his classes.  So I might run Jake, and then go to the other ring and run Luna.  By the time I had come back in from the 'after the run, go outside and play fetch with the dog reward', the walk through for Jake's next course might be happening.  If it was a class where I had to make up my own course ( Gamblers or Snooker), well I better have something figured out, so that knew what course to walk when I got out there.
What I'm trying to say with all this rambling is that my brain got a workout as well as my body.  And I'm happy to say that both brain and body came through pretty well.

Out of the 12 runs, Jake ended up with two Q's (qualifying runs), and Luna with one.  Not a very good percentage, but a few of the runs were pretty close.  Jake had a nice Standard run, and a really nice Snooker run.  Luna had an absolutely brilliant Gamblers run, her only clean run.  She finished first in her group with the highest amount of points, and it went pretty well exactly as planned.  Unfortunately Larry had left at that point to go to pick Meredith up from the airport, so it didn't get filmed.  Too bad, I would have like to have seen that on video.  
That run has moved Luna up into the Master's Gamblers class.  

Meanwhile, Luna is still stuck in Starter's Jumpers.  That is a pretty simple class, just jumps and tunnels.  Being Starters, the course is relatively easy.
There is just the problem of that one bar.
One of these days.....

Oh, and the best part of the day really, was that Luna initiated quite a few on leash greetings with other dogs that were successful and didn't end with raised lips and a showing of teeth.  Unfortunately because I was constantly in and out of the ring, I never had any treats on me to reward her, but the praise was lavish.
It just made me smile:) When I think of how snarky she used to be the beginning of last year when we were at a, huge difference!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Cathy

It is my sister Cathy's birthday today, the 28th that is.  By the time she reads this, it will be the 29th.  If I had sent her a birthday card, it probably wouldn't have got there until the 29th anyway, if I was lucky, or remembered to mail it soon enough.  In fact it's already the 29th where Cathy lives, so I'm late no matter how you look at it.
Last year was the big Five Oh, so this year she must be, oh, about 29 I think.
So of course I had to drag out the old photo albums and see what I could find to maybe embarrass her a little bit. 
The old photos aren't the best quality, and then they get worse with the scanning and the cropping.

I did find a lonely photo of Cathy's other official dog training stint.  This is Tatoosh, a black lab from hunting lines.  Can't remember if he failed as a hunter, or quite what the story was.  He was going up to a ranch to start a new life, and she was getting him ready for it.

And by the time most people see this, the media will be full of photos of Will and Kate. Cathy can't upstage Kate and her wedding dress, but she can make a fashion statement of her own.
She was about 16 in these shots

Happy Birthday dear sister!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Update on Chance

My sister in Ontario is raising a guide dog puppy.
I 'virtually' twisted Cathy's arm long and hard and got her to send me some pictures of Chance, as well as a bit of an update.
He has just turned four months old, and weighed 37 lbs a couple of weeks ago. He's not going to be a small Lab, that's for sure.  Right now he already weighs more than Jake or Luna.

Here he is having a wrestle with Dasher, one of his house mates.  Dasher reminds him occasionally who really is the boss.

This is Leroy.  Chance is good with the cats, until they run, and then the chase is on.  I was thinking that he was doing really well for a Lab puppy, ignoring the food, but apparently those are all water bowls.
And I'm thinking, wouldn't it be easier to just have one big bowl of water?:)

And like a typical puppy, he gets into things he shouldn't, and makes confetti out of them.

But he's so cute....:)

Here he is at the mall, Easter Monday. It had just opened, so at this point there weren't really any people there.  He was very attentive to Cathy though.

People are encouraged to pet him, but only when he doesn't have his vest on.  So if someone asks, and Cathy says yes, she has to take Chance's vest off.  The vest, which eventually will become a harness, is a signal to Chance that this is work time and not playtime.

Look at that nice loose leash walking

Chance is being taught to eliminate on command.  I think 'get busy' is the wording.  That's a handy thing for all dogs to know.  When he goes for a walk with his vest on, it is all business, and not the kind you stop and squat for.  He is suppose to do that before he leaves home, and then no sniffing and adding his contribution to the 'pee mail' when out walking.
Of course, since he's a puppy, that's still a work in progress.

The Puppy Walker Supervisor visited today, going for a walk down the street and to the mall with Cathy and Chance. Here's what Cathy said:

Oh, the supervisor came, we walked around the block and then drove to the mall and walked there and did the paperwork on a bench there. He was very impressed with Chance, he settled at the bench, walked well, on the leash, very attentive. He said that this is one pup you are proud to put the 'puppy in training' vest on. I felt good, he as much as said I was doing great.

Good job you two!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tuesday's Toss-Up

Just a bunch of this and that....

Here's Luna driving back from the dyke this afternoon.  First she was sat leaning against the door with her head resting on the ledge where the glass starts, with her eyes closed.  Then she finally laid down with her head pointing straight up.  It was a bit crowded at her end of the seat, but that doesn't usually bother her, she just rests her head on another dog's back.  
Today though, I was getting a stiff neck just looking at her.  That can't be comfortable!

We brought home the rest of our laying hens this afternoon.  We had sold the other hens over the weekend. It was the usual Craigslist fiasco.  The first person I talked to wanted 10, and they came when they said they would.  The second person wanted them all, but we told her that she could have the remaining 42.  She talked about just having moved to a new place, and the large chicken coop and run that was there... It was all good, she was going to come the next night.  Of course in the meantime I fielded lots more enquiries, and told them that the hens were all spoken for.  And so of course the person that was going to take the 42 doesn't phone, doesn't come, and doesn't answer their phone when we try to call them. Ugh. It just floors me how inconsiderate, well how downright rude they can be.  In the end the first person came back for another 20, and a guy just down the road took the rest.

So the hens we brought home today are also supposed to be Bovan Browns, like the first bunch.  Well, the combs on them are way different, they almost look like a leghorn's.  They are much older, and are already laying full sized eggs.  I don't think they came from the hatchery where we picked them up, as they were sitting in crates where we backed up to the barn.  There is no hatching date on the paper work.
I'd be getting the pullets from somewhere else if we had a choice.
We brought them home early afternoon and they laid 3 large eggs after they got here.  I cracked them in to the dogs dishes tonight, and the yolks were a good colour.  It will be interesting to see how many eggs we get tomorrow.  

Some of them were already wanting to come out, so I put the dog's x-pen around the door so they couldn't wander off.  Very useful things, those x-pens.  I threw some grass clippings in so they could get a start on some green stuff.

In the greenhouse, the basil I seeded on Friday I think it was, was germinating by Sunday, and now looks like this.

And a few more plant shots...
Rain drops on the Lady's Mantle  (Alchemilla Molllis)

Double red peony.  They are always quite early

A fiddlehead, or unfurling fern.

The tulips are starting to bloom, about two weeks later than last year.  The fruit trees are four weeks late, and they still aren't blooming.
Our weather generally continues to be the pits.  Mostly unseasonably cold, and wet.  Oh sure, we get some sun and had one warm day, but not a nice long stretch.   A lot of the vegetables I've seeded aren't doing anything.  Some are though, the peas and broad beans are looking good.

Meredith is on the last day of her tour of Europe tomorrow, and then she flies out of London on Saturday. She is doing her best to not be in London for the royal wedding.  It wasn't something she even thought about when she booked her flight, unfortunately.
From the emails she has sent us, she has had an amazing time, and hopefully she will eventually update her blog and tell you about it all.

Meredith Brandson

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is that the Easter Bunny?

Or maybe that was one of the Easter Bunny's elves.  Do Easter Bunny's have elves?
 Maybe they are just the Easter Bunny's sisters and brothers.  After all, they are rabbits, and you know that saying..about breeding like rabbits.
The only eggs this rabbit left behind were very dark, oh, must have been at least 85% cocoa, very mini eggs.  The kind that only dogs and other creatures that eat disgusting things would like.

I was so enthralled with the sun coming up just over the trees before 6:30 am, that I didn't see the rabbit at first.  It's a big one, and I've seen it behind the barn, but...

Them's the rules.  We can all get along if the wildlife just obey the rules.
Live and let live.
But once the rules are broken, well look out.

And dear bunny, that is one of the gardens you are next to, and the kohlrabi is just germinating.
So I figured it was time to give you a warning.

I got the two vicious border collies at the door. 
I got them all wound up.
I said to heck with those awful, tiny little dark 'rabbit eggs', 
they could have fresh rabbit meat for breakfast.  
I flung the door open and unleashed the hounds.  They charged out of the door and down the stairs off the deck.  Luna made an arc to the left and barked at the sheep on the other side of the fence.  Jake ran in the right direction, but he was looking back at me.  
The rabbit turned and ran back under the gate and up the alleyway.
Neither dog saw it.
I ran out in my nightie and crocs and tried to get them to pick up the scent.
Useless creatures!
I know, I know, they don't want to kill the goose  rabbit that lays the golden chocolate poop eggs.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Earth Day

 Yesterday was Earth Day here in Canada.  We have three fruit trees sitting in pots that I would have like to have got planted, but that didn't happen. 
We did do other 'earthy' stuff though.

A while ago we had hired David to clean up a huge blackberry patch that was overtaking the fence line, part of the hay field, and a lane way.  He's a university student that can always use some money.
Today seemed like a good day to get the stuff all burned, so he made a pile in the corner of the hayfield and got the pile going.  Larry and I took the tractor and loaded up some old sunflower stalks, raspberry canes, currant bush trimmings and whatever else we could find and added that to the fire.

It was a lovely sunny day, and besides getting the pile burned, David kept Jake and Luna well exercised.

And then, of his own doing, he went and washed the outsides of all the windows in the house!
In this family, he is definitely the tidiest person.
Did I mention he is tall, handsome, intelligent, a hard worker, loves dogs, and is single?:)

Oh yeah, this isn't an on-line dating site, this is about Earth Day.
So down at the greenhouse, I dug up a couple of clumps of parsley that had seeded itself, and divided it up into pots.  Gotta love stuff that seeds itself!  Parsley doesn't like to be transplanted, so no doubt it will take a bit to recover, but will hopefully grow into some nice plants that I can sell at the market.

I also seeded some basil.  Those pots are on the left sitting on the waterbed heater.  With some heat, they'll probably germinate in a couple of days.

On Thursday I had bought some more tomato seedlings at my favourite greenhouse.  Every year I mean to start some of my own, and then procrastinate so long that it is too late.  So I was at the greenhouse, looking through the flats and flats of tomato plants, and picking out the pots that had more than one plant in them.  There weren't many, but enough for me, and I got quite a few different varieties.  A couple of times I lucked out and got three in a pot:)
I did feel a bit self conscious, as one of the employees was there stocking the tables, and she was asking me if I was finding everything I was looking for. I just smiled and said yes:)

I got them all transplanted (tomatoes handle transplanting very well) and now I have about 40 tomato plants, which is more than enough.

That's the broccoli seedlings in the foreground.  They are taking their sweet time to grow.

Outside, I transplanted the kale and the cabbages, and then Larry put a hopefully rabbit proof fence around them.

Today we are supposed to be having a one day heat wave, all of 19-20 degrees C (about 67 F), then its back to clouds and showers tomorrow.

And outside the garden, Luna has already prepared for the heat with a cool hole under the tree.

Happy Easter!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Where Dog Toys Go To Die

Yesterday we cleaned out one of the chicken coops. We took the tractor right over to the door and shovelled the bedding straight into the tractor bucket.  Two of us worked on it and it took less than half an hour.
Larry drove to the manure pile to dump the load, and to tidy the pile up with the tractor, while I went to get some hay.  We have a few bales of hay that got wet on one end that we keep handy for replacing the bedding in the coops.  Wood shavings are easier to deal with, as in shovel out of the coop, but since we usually have to buy those, and we already have the hay, it makes sense to use it.  I didn't have a knife on me, so was pulling the front string off, thinking of something else, when I caught something out of the corner of my eye.  I'm sure I jumped a bit and made some sort of noise, although I won't admit to screaming.

Does it look like a snake to you?  Well it obviously did to me, although we don't have orange snakes, and it really isn't snake season, and really it was too rubbery for a snake, but you know how it is when you see things out of the corner of your eye.

Took me a minute or two to figure out what it was, but if finally came to me, and I got brave enough to touch it and pull it out.

I gave it CPR, but it was long gone. 
The wounds were fatal.
Poor thing.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Calli has now been downgraded from Cow bell Calli to Tinkerbell. 
Or maybe that's an upgrade.  
Remember how we tried that too big, for Calli at least, cowbell hanging off her collar so we could hear her when she took her own route on our bush walk in the morning.  It was very loud, and heavy, and poor Calli was so put out by it that she didn't venture off the trail at all.  That might be a good thing, but we also want her to have some fun out there.
My sister in Ontario said that she had a bell that might do the trick and she included it when she sent some photos to my mother.  Somehow she managed to reuse some stamps that weren't cancelled, so it didn't cost her a thing to mail it.  I was talking to my mother on the phone and she said the bell was there.  I asked her what it was like and she said it was something like what her cat Nelson wore, and then she rang it for me over the phone.  It really sounded feeble and I figured it was too small to be of any use.
Anyway, it eventually was brought home here and we tried it out.

It was a pleasant surprise, and seems perfect for the job. Loud enough that I can hear it out in the bush, and not too loud to be really annoying.  Larry can't hear it very well.  He has a hole in one ear drum and old folks hearing in the other ear.  That's my opinion, as I suffer through the volume that he has the TV turned up to.

Here's a few pictures from our morning walk.

I eat raw, but I'm not sure about eating this thing

Lots of things are springing to life now.  The salmonberries are blooming

The bleeding hearts as well

The clumps of trilliums are lovely

And the stinging nettles not so lovely.

As it was just me out there with the dogs, it was a slow walk as I was trying to take photos.  Luna and Jake don't usually stop and play, but they sure had a long session this time, actually two sessions.  
Here's a rather long video of the walk.  (I like to watch video of our dogs, and dogs playing is even better:)) Just be thankful I didn't put in all that I had filmed.  
If your volume is up enough you can hear the bell.
It also gives you a bit of an idea how Calli walks.
It also has reminded me that she needs another good furminator session.

Here's the latest on Phin from this link
That'll Do Border Collie Rescue No news yet. He remains in the immediate area, but is too sly to be caught and runs whenever he spots someone. Al from Petsearchers is indeed who we hired, and there are both cameras and traps out, but Phin continues to elude everyone :(

Monday, April 18, 2011

One Job Checked off the List

I finally got around to pressure washing the greenhouse.  The roof was pretty gross, especially on the north side.  I don't think I did it last year, by the looks of it now.

See that little rooster on the gate. 
Yep, he's heading OUT of the garden back into the field he is supposed to be in.
Every time I find him in the garden I try to scare the bejesus out of him, hoping it will make him think twice about coming back.  So far it isn't working.
The south side of the green house doesn't look quite as bad.

It's awkward to do the roof.  I have to drag the 12' orchard ladder in there.  There isn't really room behind the green house to set it up easily, as the ground is on two levels.  Then I have to get up pretty high because it seems like I have to hit the roof at close to right angles for best results.  
Quite a difference between the clean and the dirty parts!

My faithful dog Luna is standing, well more like sitting by, just in case she can help in any way.
This photo makes me feel dizzy just looking at it.  Yeah, I was standing backwards on the ladder, camera in one hand and sprayer in the other.

If I could figure out how to climb this ladder, I'd be up there to help you.

And the job finally got done.  Here's the nice clean roof over the newly transplanted tomatoes.
It's so bright in there now, it makes a person squint.