Monday, June 25, 2007

Road trip!

As of tomorrow morning, we're off!

We're leaving very early in the morning, headed for Greta NSW to go see the two dogs we're looking at. Should be at least a 13 hour trip, maybe a bit longer. Staying till Friday and driving home on Friday afternoon/evening.

Wish us luck... and navigating skills! (I'm talented at getting lost, ask anyone!)

Back to packing! :-)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pics and a herding report...

This one is from Gembrook Market today! Miss Hope came with and had a lady fall in love with her, asking my name and details so she could get a pup when I bred her. PMSL! I pointed out I'm not breeding for at LEAST another two years and she said she didn't care - she was EXACTLY the kind of Aussie look and temper she'd been looking for 2 years ago but couldn't find, so got a little black tri BC. (Who was very cute!) Also saw Bailey and his mum and dad who live nearby!

After heaps of trying, I finally got a couple decent shots of the little black Noir kitten!


Sitting on the sheepskin rug, looking far more innocent than he is.

After getting ducks, despite wanting to work the dogs right away, I let them settle in. The idea being they'd get used to me, the dog (who helps me pen them at night) and come to identify this as their new home before we'd break them in. The goal was 1.) not to having birds succumb to illnesses due to stress and 2.) once they knew where home was they'd be less inclined to bugger off to the neighbors and regulate me to crawling in with the really-not-tame cows!

Well today I decided they'd been eating free meals long enough *G* and it was time for them to get out of their pen and start working.

The first thing that became obvious is that I'd perhaps let them "settle in" a bit too long. They were exceedingly pen sour and first wouldn't go through the door, then wouldn't stop coming back through it. Once I finally got them OUT they just nipped under the fence and back to their pen. I told them Hope and I were taking them out where there is a nice big dam to swim in, lots of grass to nibble on and plenty of fat juicy bugs for easy pickings and after they've had a good time free ranging we'll bring them back... but alas, they just look at me muttering, "Qwok qwok, buggering crazy two-legger we've got FOOD and WATER right here! QWOK!"

Okay, so Plan B is we drive them through the first pasture and into the second where they can't see their pen and hopefully will actually cooperate instead of just dashing back. This brings us to the second thing we learned today: doing nothing but eating apparently means ducks get rather f a t and out of shape. Halfway across the paddock they were slowing down. They need to get out and exercise more.

At any rate, we did get them down into the second paddock and convince them to quit hugging the fence. At that point, I decided to settle the dog for a few and let them browse, rest, get a sip from the water trough and assess what Hope had done.

Hope's homework will start with teaching her to go out from both sides on cue (starting with her near me, go out from whatever side I cast her off of around the head of the flock and then wait to either be sent back or whatnot), teaching her to turn on cue (she'll do it moving off the stick but that's using pressure and I'd rather just teach it as a cue) and to go around to the outside off my right hand or around on the inside of my left. Currently she's favoring going off my left side and doesn't care to cast from the right or if she does she cuts across my front and then goes around clockwise as if she'd been cast off my left.

After they'd rested a bit I took Hope back and got Sierra. Now Sierra had done okay at the herding instinct tests and herding days, she wants to go after them and is keen on them but the chief problem we had with her was that she didn't have a need to reach the point of balance nor to maintain it.

For those who have no idea what I'm jibbering about... what we've been instructed to do is to have the dog start with the handler, both facing the sheep. At a signal, the dog runs out toward the sheep, curving around the outside of them so that you have the handler at 6 o'clock, the sheep in the middle facing the handler and the dog at 12 o'clock facing the sheepie bums and the handler. The handler walks backward, the dog circles around one way and then the other pushing the sheep toward the handler. (This is WHY the handler walks backwards, so they don't get trampled by oncoming sheep and the sheep have somewhere to move forward to.) The handler walks backwards towards wherever he wants the sheep to end up with the dog constantly maintaining the 12 o'clock point of balance.)

Sierra just chases them away from me, then goes to head. No point of balance whatsoever. Trying to make her hold a point of balance when she has no idea what it is hasn’t been fun. When we get her to the position, trying then to get her to turn and wear back and forth makes no sense either, so she just gets frustrated and stressed because she didn't get what I wanted and hates to not please me. (I'm not scolding btw just not praising, the lack of 'getting it right' time after time stresses her.)

What she DID want to do naturally was go to head. A LOT. We got a few comments on needing to get her to quit doing it! Try as we might, we just couldn't explain to her the point of the exercise was to stay in the 12 o’clock gathering position and push them towards me - she just wanted to push them away! I reckon she figures her clutzy mum it less likely to get mowed down if she moves them away from me! ;-)

Despite the non-success of getting her to balance, she did do things I'd seen good dogs do and thought I could work with - she likes to keep control, will go after a stray and bring it back to the group, will deal with challenges, will use some eye, feint and hit a head or heel (okay, hock... she's higher than I like...) and use necessary power to deal with a challenge without going over the top etc. At Paul's we got to see very little because after a 3 hr car trip, the noise and ruckus of a bunch of excited Kelpies and a bunch of people surrounding the pen she did a few circles and said, "Nope, too much!" But I know her and I've always sort of believed that what we saw with a crowd of people and dogs would be different to what I'd see if I did the training on her myself alone, so I decided to try my luck with her on the ducks, crossing fingers she didn't eat one. Aussies have been bred to work everything from little lambs to feral range cattle, so they can "a bit strong" on ducks. (Read: they cannonball into them with all the grace and finese of a semi-truck.)

Instead of trying to get her to gather and hold them to me, which is what we'd always tried to get her to do before and had a lot of frustration from, I decided just to let her do what I'd seen her naturally do. A bit different but hey... trying to get her to go against her instinct sure wasn't working! My idea might work, it might not but if I didn't try it, the sure thing was that nothing would change!

What I found, is that what I'd seen is actually not "bad herding" but pretty decent DRIVING. She gets behind them but in front of me and we push them forward. She wears back and forth pretty well, moving up to head if one starts to stray away or we want to turn them such as to get them to go right to go through a gate, then circling around back of me and coming back into position. The ducks move forward, I walk forward (which incidentally is MUCH easier than running backwards!) If I need to, I can get her to drop back behind me and cross to the other side or send her around to manoeuver them through a gate.

The result of this is that my "not going to work out as a herding dog" dog and I managed to move those ducks from the far end of the second pasture to the gate, through the gate, up the diagonal of the first pasture, through the gate, hang a hard right and then a hard left into their pen. She did it at a good steady clip, without scattering them, with only a few little deviations, with her keeping anyone who wanted to straggle in the group and when I finally got them to their pen door and two split right a bit, she held the one against the fence until I dealt with the second using just eye and positioning *uninstructed*. Huh. Not the most elegant but sure a lot better than I'd have figured she could do!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

My beautiful girlie...

I'd been promising Hope's breeder an update a stacked photo of her for ages, instead of just ones of her hooning around the place and been farting around not actually shooting it because I didn't have anyone to hold the camera and I'd actually been hoping to get some better grooming tips off a lady I know who shows and breeds standard poodles. However she's been away at shows, then we missed each other a bunch of times and now she's overseas. I know the basics of grooming but wanted to ask some questions about layering in more naturally with thinning sheers around the ears etc. After putting off Hope's breeder for *mumble mumble* months, today I just said "screw it" and decided to take the pics. So here is my Hope at 9 months and 1 week old... FINALLY showing the promise we'd seen in her at 8 weeks! She looks so PUUUURDY! *gush gush gush*

"Look ma, I'm a showdog!"

Geeze... I used to think she looked a lot like her sire but in this shot she looks SO much like her dam!

And lastly, our hard-won standing from the front shot. Very hard to get as my neighbors mare (that's her brown bum in the right corner) was being a pest begging for treats which kept distracting Hope. When she wasn't, the dratted calves were mooing!

We're entered in a couple shows in July and picking up more in August, Sept etc. She's been getting in good shape, nice and trim with good muscle tone after turning into a bit of a butterball when in the kennel while we were moving. A month of all the food she could snarf, no exercise and no brushing... she was fat and her coat was just clogged! Ick.

So. Now for the news. Nic has actually secured a really good job a few days back - exactly what I wanted... much higher pay, full time (vs just full time hours) as an employee vs a contractor so we get sick leave/paid vacation, more secure etc. and all over nicer environment. Really tickled with that! He starts sometime next week they think.

For some other news... the lady who bred Hope is looking at selling a few dogs which had been her pick puppy from her breedings but is considering letting go if she finds the right home for them where they'll get more exposure.

She listed the five dogs and as I read down the list I went, "Oh! I want that one! And that one! And that one! And that one! And oh, her too!" The one dog, despite being gorgeous I know Cade would quarl with him. The others are:
* Smoke, a half-brother to Hope, same sire out of RUBISS CH Silvanwood Dark Force. He is GORGEOUS and looks just like his daddy.
* Verity, older half-sister to Hope, via their mother, by ASCA/AKC Ch. Carolina Rave Reviews CD STDc ATDsd HOF, blue merle female
* Hope's litter sister Ditto
* Dawn, a blue merle female unrelated to Hope and actually very different bloodlines
Pics for anyone curious are here:

Okay, so her full sister wouldn't be smart from a breeding standpoint, despite the sentiment and the niceness of watching two dogs of the same exact line develop. Her half brother Smoke is probably out because her mentor is interested in him and it's only fair she gets first option. So the two serious contenders would be her older half-sister Verity and the younger blue merle female Dawn.

Those who've been reading since I was waiting for Hope's birth to find out if I'd get a puppy from her litter or not will remember I'd seriously considered Verity at that point but as it happened, there was a black tri show quality female puppy, namely Hope, so it never went further than that. She's out of Tilley's (Hope's dam) first litter, which I'd spotted after she was imported in whelp but couldn't get a puppy from as Laurent had just been born. I'd show her but most likely we wouldn't breed her... so she'd show, champion and then be spayed and do sports and be a pet. Not breeding wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing and there's nothing from stopping me from still getting the bloodlines I like that are in the other female later on either when I breed Hope or her grand-daughter, g-grand-daughter etc. She is a very pretty girl but until recently hasn't been out much.

Then there is Dawn. Her breeder thinks she may not be as flashy because she's got a more moderate coat and has a tail. Mind you, CORRECT for the breed oughtn't be dripping in coat... but oft times "heaps of coat" wins, so oft times heaps of coat gets bred and perpetuated and considered the "in" thing. The tail, well, docking is now illegal and my personal stance is that people need to get over the prejudice. Only showing and breeding naturally bob-tailed dogs means we're cutting a large chunk of our genepool out, which especially here where the population of Aussies is relatively small, is cutting off our noses to spite our face. So a tail wouldn't bother me and I do prefer the moderate coat - to me, a very heavy coat is fault by the standard and imo I'd consider a coat that's on the shorter end of allowable to be far more mild than incorrect texture, lack of weatherproofness, poor pigment, non-pigmented areas of the nose leather, small white splashes that sometimes get overlooked as "just a little bit of excess white" etc. as the coat length doesn't affect function whereas the other things I mentioned DO for a working dog. Bad texture dirtier and matts, doesn't allow the dog protection from the elements and weather, dark pigment acts as sunscreen, likewise with the nose leather pigment etc. It mightn't make me popular but I do like the bloodlines behind her and would consider a shorter coat a "fault of popularity" rather than a "fault of the breed standard".

As well, the bloodlines behind her are ones I like a *lot*... American working lines - Mistretta, Marquis, Rocking K and on the Australian side of things is a grand-daughter to BIS RUBISS Ch. Sasin Bravo Battle Flag (iid USA) on her dams side who is a lovely, lovely dog and produces lovely, lovely dogs. She is red factored as well and could throw natural bob tailed dogs, though I wouldn't breed specifically for that. The ironic thing - and Sif, you may point out the whole Law of Attraction thing here, is that last week when a new member was introducing herself who had a related dog she'd mentioned she'd looked at Hope's litter but wanted the Mistretta lines more so planned on getting the Courage kid later and I said I'd gotten the Courage kid and wanted a Mistretta line dog someday! This was not even 2 weeks ago!

Both dogs would need a bit of training before they were ready to show but nothing that is too horrid.

So at this point, a lot of thinking and considering who might be appropriate going on.

ETA: Amanda, here's the list of shows... lmk if we'll see you in them!
14 July Melbourne Dog Club Inc at Showgrounds
28 Heidelberg & District KC Inch at Park
4 Aug Metropolitan Canine Assoc at Showgrounds
11 Ladies Kennel Assc. at Showgrounds
12 Sun Werribee Barwon KC at Showgrounds
18 Lilydale KC at Park
19 KCC Park Show Committee

Haven't sent in entries yet to the McAlister/Sale shows on the 25-26 or the Horsham/Wimmera ones on the same day because I'm trying to decide which ones to do. I really want to go to some country shows so I can make a "mini vacation" of it and see the country!
The pics on the web are a bit out of date! ~_~ I think Dawn is about 8 weeks in her pics there when she's 8 months old now. Verity's are older too so I'm sure she's filled out considering how much Hope has filled out even in a single month! I think the deciding factor will be to see them and see how they like us really!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Shy chooks... not!

"Hey look, it's the two-legged vending machine again! I know you've got something in your pockets, you always do! C'mon, look at me being all cute... you know you wanna feed me!"

"Me too! I wanna treat too!" (Opps... didn't quite work, someones buff coloured feathered bum was in the way... poor Blossom goes plopping back to the grass.)

La gives some comfort for her unsuccessful attempt to jump in my lap.

Making sure she doesn't get left out, he "helps" her up! All aboard for the trip to Treatland by Bubba-Express!

Hetty the Hen is confused and thinks she's a parrot. (Actually, I think she thinks I'm holding out and have more goodies... this one is a greedy gut of a bird.)

La wants a turn too! Unfortunately just after this Hope the Wonderpuppy comes zooming by and all the chooks go running back to their house and La went running after Hope! *sigh*

I'm working on a serious post, honest I am, it's just slow in coming because I keep getting interrupted everytime I sit down to have a good, serious think! LOL

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Well... to add to my ghost post... here's some interesting tidbits!

Last night we put La down in his cot after he fell asleep and around about the time he usually wakes before we go to bed, we heard an odd noise, sort of like a musical tone or warble sound and then the sound of Laurent waking. Both of us heard it and neither of us can figure out what it might be. We both agree it wasn't La and it wasn't anything on the television or anything outside as when I looked the ducks were sound asleep and if anything had come by the Runner Ducks would have alerted to it.

Then later last night Nic was sitting on the sofa in the livingroom and reading a book. All of the sudden his hair went on end, he heard what he described as a "murmur" that sounded feminine (he thought it was me but I was in my study on the complete other end of the house) the temperature suddenly felt freezing, a slight bit of fear and then was overcome with emotion and started crying. He says it wasn't happy or sad, just an overwhelming wave of emotion that came over him. He was pretty freaked out by it.

Then this afternoon, Laurent went down for a nap and slept a good while. Normally when he wakes up he cries for me and wants bibi. However, when Nic heard him stir this time, he waited for the wail of "muuuuummmmmmmmmmaaaaa!!!" and instead La was calm and started babbling as if he was having a conversation with someone. When Nic went in, La went suddenly silent and blinked at him as if a bit dazed.

So. Maybe our resident ghosts? Or maybe just our resident overactive imaginations? LOL But interesting either way! Up until now the only thing we'd experienced is the hearing sounds we thought were our neighbors talking nearby despite not being able to locate any signs of them and the occsaional sense of someone being there when no one was. (Not sinister, just like how you turn around when you sense someone enters a room if you know what I mean.)
Random Cute La Photo:

In love with putting on shoes, La has branched out to boots as well. Unfortunately we haven't found any like ours in his size yet so he's keen on his dads!

In other news, one of my runner hens was waddling about the pen at a good clip after her penmates and tripped on a sticking out root bit of the tree in their pen. That made her panic and she tried to run faster, hitching her foot on the root for a second. The result is that apparently she strained or sprained her foot.

She can walk on it with a limp but is favoring it, prefering to lay down often and making soft "ouch" sounds when she does put weight on it. I checked it and didn't see anything obvious so I simply penned them and kept them warm and quiet for a bit. It still seems the same a few days on, though she's otherwise well and still no swelling, reddness/loss of colour, abraison or cuts, any abornomal heat/coolness at the site and I can extend and gently manipulate without any fuss. She is able to give resistance and bear weight if she has to, balances fine if I gently rock her or move her off balance to test equilibrium and I can't feel anything that I shouldn't when I am touching the leg. Game plan at the moment since vets who specialize in ducks are as the saying goes "rare as hens teeth" (and probably twice as exxy) is to give her more rest and comfry poultices as I've had good results with that herb in the past.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Ghosts (and chook photos!)

We had a visit from the previous owner today, who is a lovely guy, to help show us a few things around the place regarding the water tanks, electric fencing (for the livestock) etc.

The previous time we'd met him, he'd talked to me a little bit about the houses history and one of the things mentioned was that this place was a very tranquil one spiritually. He'd also said that he didn't mean just in the sense that the surroundings were tranquil but that the energy from all the happy families who'd lived here for all the many years still resided. After enquiring if I was a spiritual person, he also mentioned that a number of psychics had come to the house and commented on the spirits that were here. I had a bit of a hard time hearing him as he was speaking low, thinking that as Nic's surname is Italian he might be a strict Catholic and not inclined to want to hear such talk. However he'd mentioned something about a psychic and a lady in the garden. I wasn't sure if he'd meant that specific psychic was a lady and had been in the garden at the time she'ddone the reading or if he'd meant there was the spirit of a lady still haunting our garden. So when he came back today, we queried him about it further and he clarified.

Apparently, three different psychics have come in and all have commented on the same things very consistantly.

First that there are a *lot* of spirits who are still in this place and they're all lovely ones. They're all friendly and very warm and want to protect the place. They're quite active but peaceful, happy, warm, welcoming souls and we shouldn't worry if we hear or see them as there is absolutely no malice in them. It's their energy, their love for their happy lives here which makes the place feel so warm and welcoming. Two psychics said specifically it was the warmest, welcoming place they'd been.

There are three specific spirits that have been seen a number of times:
1.) There is the ghost of a lady who appears in the front gardens. (Remember, these gardens were planted in the very early 1900's and the family lived here since the 1800's, staying until the 1950's with much of teh garden not changing much since then.) Apparently she's been seen a number of occasions and simply likes walking around the gardens, enjoying doing what she presumably loved in life. My personal feeling is that this would be Katherine, the wife of the original owner of the property in the 1800's who was Scottish.

2.) There is the spirit of a little boy who runs to the bus stop in the early mornings. Apparently there used to be a short cut from the properties behind us through our front garden on the right side of the house to the bus stop. There is no bus stop there any more and hasn't been for years but he is sometimes seen in the early morning dashing along the lawn, disappearing where the bus stop would've been.

3.) There is the spirit of an old fashioned minister in his garb in the rear room, who sometimes also walks up the hall. The room was built as the husband was Catholic and the wife Anglican which just was Not Done in those days and neither could worship at the others place of worship. There was a piano in the room which was played for Sunday services and it was the area where the local services were held, so effectively it was the local church.

The other thing he said is that you quite often hear people talking and the sound of voices chatting amiably in a small group nearby you. This is most frequently around the area where our garage is, up the hall from the back room (where the people would presumably be leaving from Sunday services and where the minister walks) and in the side of the garden where the entry to that area of the house is.

The funny thing is both Nic and I have heard voices at various points but had always both assumed our neighbors must have been the ones making the noice despite never seeing anyone around when we went to look to say hi to them. (We still haven't met 2 of our neighbors so hearing them thought to introduce ourselves.) I haven't seen anything yet but I kind of want to and I really like the idea of our house being looked over by guardian spirits who loved it so much in life they never left. All in all pretty cool!

On a semi unrelated note, here's some recent photos of the place:

"Our" kookoobura. As anyone who reads knows, I love them and am happy to have our own personal one I see most mornings!

I've got the chooks run mostly finished! So they can go in it during the day but have to go in the hutch at night until I build one in the run. They are busy clucking, scratching and enjoying new greens and as many bugs as they can stuff in their crops!

Since they're obviously in such dire danger of starving though (with both what they hunt up and the feeder full of pellets) they also get a treat, which I've got them to the point of taking from my hands and allowing brief petting by me.

They're still not quite sure about La and I have to hold them and tell them it's okay. He's pretty gentle, touching her topknot and saying "fluffy chook chook, cluck cluck cluck".

And of course, La's favorite bit... tossing them food and watching them come running pell mell to get the choicest bits!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Cow obsessed...

Not the dog (though she's not far from it) but the kid. He has a serious cow obsession going on which has taken firm hold since we mvoed here a month ago. All. Day. Long. I hear about the cows and how they go moo and eat the grass which is very yummy. Repeatedly. Ad nauseaum. In the store every time we add to his plastic animal collection, he chooses a cow. Not the horses, not the bunnies, not the dogs or any of the other animals - nope, it's gotta be a cow.

He's also a bit chook mad, because he thinks they're pretty fun to feed... but even that is a distant second to the all mighty cow.

At the moment he's abducted Nic's mobile and is pretending to talk to someone (at least I hope it's just pretending and he hasn't hit the speed dial) telling them all about the chooks today said cluck cluck and the ducks said "duck duck duck" (yes, they say their name, just in a lower and more quacky voice) and somehow in the midst of this all we have, "Cow said MOO... mooooooooo!!! The cow-cow MOOOO, ate grass yum yum!" every other sentence even though he hasn't seen a single cow today.

Am pretty chuffed to say I am almost done with renovating the chook and duck pens. Now I just need to find money for building or buying a house. (Aside from the small one they are staying in that is okay for 3 small ones to sleep in but not for any more chooks than that.)

Am also pretty chuffed to say that I found a breeder of the most gorgeous silvery-blue-lilac coloured versions of my duckies I'm going to get some from when he has ducklings in spring. They are apparently very rare to the point there's only a few in the country and I just fell in love. They're the colour of a long hair Weimarianer!

You know how there's the whole "never a door closed without a window opened" saying? Well I'd been kind of bummed because Nic's looking for a job put my getting sheep on hold. Granted there are other concerns that come before sheep by far and even with that, the length of time things are put on hold is likely to be quite minimal anyhow... so it's not a big, huge, depressive funk or anything... just feeling a big disgruntled because it's a delay at a point where I'm close enough to this dream to taste it and waiting is no fun! ;-)

I told myself, well, it kind of works out because I can get better quality sheep and less expensive if I wait until the lambs are dropped and buy some ewe lambs and a young ram. They're unproven, empty and the breeder hasn't had to run them on hence the cheaper but you can go by their parents stats to get a good picture so it's not a huge risky thing really. And it'll give me more time to look into this whole cell grazing thing further and see how financially feasable it is, which promises to raise carrying capacity three-fold. On the other hand, I really didn't want to let the pasture sit that long without something grazing it. So. Today I'm at the petrol station and see a paper taped to the door. A family has sold their farmlet and is looking for another one but in the meantime they are having to move out and don't have a place for their animals: 12 sheep, a donkey, a gelding and an alpaca. They're looking for someone willing to effectively board the animals till they find a new place. They're also willing to pay for it. Hn.

It sounds good... I could have sheep here without them being mine and I wouldn't have to pay for them - instead I'd get paid for them. Even if I wasn't able to work them with the dogs I'd still have sheep here. They could even help finance my chook shed. They wouldn't officially be my responsibility, as their owners would have to take care of any vet care and arranging feed (beyond pasture) needed etc. so basically I'd get all the fun bits without the responsibility bits and get a bit more real life experience with horses and alpacas. The time frame they'd be here is about right for my getting the ewe lambs and would be well after I attended the ram sale in mid-July I wanted to see which will have a big selection of bloodlines represented.

The only thing I'm not sure about is the liability issues. I'm not sure our insurance would cover having large hoofstock here since horses are notoriously bad insurance risks. Boarding other peoples animals might mean we'd need special liability insurance above and byeond our regular policy. There's also the questions to be worked out about who'd be responsible if, say, one of the animals got tangled in barbed wire and needed care: their cost because it's their animal or my cost because I'm "boarding" them and it's my property? Also there is the issue of if they default on payment or the like. Or if they're visiting and injure themselves or an animal injures someone visiting my property. So it could potentially work out to be a big expensive mess as well.

I do feel for them though. I was in their spot two months ago with my dogs and cats and birds and ferrets all needing a place to go and it sucks.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Well... crap.

Just got a call from Nic that as of 7:30 am this morning the company Nic works for had the contract with Smart Energy not renewed, which means his position has been made redundant and he's been let go along with everyone else in the department.

I'm not freaking out at the moment because I know he'll get another job but I am annoyed as the timing really sucks. We had literally a dozen things I'd planned to purchase this week that we needed which are having to be put on hold. The only thing I didn't was the washing machine which the movers broke when they had it. This also means that the entries for what I'd intended to be Hope's coming shows are pretty much nixed atm which stinks because I'd thought it bad enough not to be able to show until late July (entry cut offs meaning that'd be the soonest I could enter). Not to mention I'd been trying to save for a daytrip for his birthday which is about a month away. To boot, Cade is scheduled for his dental... to the tune of $630.00 next Wednesday.

I'm also rather annoyed as I'd had a feeling something like this might happen... not that there were flashing red neon signs but jus a few little things that had me telling him not to trust his bosses, to look for something more secure and to be aggressively pursuing a new job before this one bottomed up. The industry isn't what you'd call stable and secure work and the bosses bosses had been grumbling about numbers on and off for a fair while. I had a feeling with the end of financial year coming things weren't going to continue on to the point where this morning I'd been going to go send in Hope's entries along with membership dues for a few other clubs and thought, "Hm, I'd better wait because I don't want to get us because we might need it if something happens."

Sometimes I hate being right.

In less important news I need to get a picture of Hope all groomed up and in a show stack. Honestly I haven't done one in ages and keep promising I'm going to and then something comes up, the camera recharger broke, the person I go to in order to use their hydrobath/blower tells me that the bath isn't working, the groomer I get my tips from is overseas and I have a question for her and most recently the person who was going to take the photos for me (since Nic has previously been at work from sunup till after sundown and La and camera aren't mixy) wasn't able to come. Buh!

On a fun note, the Cardinia market is on tomorrow and I'm looking forward to going and may also go to a poultry show of all things! LOL Did you even KNOW they had such things?!?!?

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

pics... what else?

The rear deck is rather high off the ground and La is having a think about going down the steps as actual steps instead of going down backwards and bum first. Just liked it as it captures his exploryness which is a major thing at the moment.

View from the back deck... my big white tree, cows and hills. I love this tree and the big pine near it, they have such lovely sense of presence and timelessness!

Probably my favorite, as even though it's not as nice technically, it's such a sweet moment and captures the essence of these two together... he's chattering to her and "stirring" the water he got her and she's just watching him with this beautiful tender watchfulness! *aww gush gush aww*

The ducks, having a nap but keeping an eye on what the weird two legger is doing. The ducks aren't named except for the aylesbury duck (one in the middle with the pink bill). She is dubbed Martha. As in Stewart. Because she's boss and fussy and a bit of a perfectionist! That leaves the two boy runners and two girl runners to name!

This. Is. Not. Posed. She just is that weird and he thought it was hilarious to rock her back and forth in it. (She's too much of a leadbum for him to move!)

Noir... proving despite some really good tips I still have reams of improvement to go in photographing all black critters! But I don't have any decent photos of him recently so I wanted to put one up to show what a little butterball he's turning into!

La, giggling madly after pulling his shirt off. I'm freezing so it makes me cringe to see him running around with goosebumps but apparently he LIKES it! Strange child!

He's helping me in the chook pen in this one. The wire that was there for the ducks is too big for the little bitty chooks so I'm putting mesh around the chookies run and netting over it to protect from hawks, kookooburas, crows etc. I took the pic because he was standing and chattering, pointing to all the different bits I was using and obviously having a think over how all of it was coming together to put the run together. Then I looked at the photo in the review and was felt like I got a little glimpse into the future as he looks more grown up in this than in most photos. *sniffle*

And the aforementioned chooks! I wanted to get a nice pic of them but it was HARD as the silkie (also unnamed) was stuck firmly into the feed and NOT coming up for air! The two sussex may end up Henny and Penny, Rose and Ella, Tilley and Milley etc. Tossing around ideas.

Another of the silkie more close up. I think she looks like a demented emu. (I mean that in the nicest possible way, I love silkies, they just look so goofy!) She's got a dirty beak here.

That's about it for me. Waiting for dinner to finish warming! Chicken and veggie soup ironically.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

We had our first actual guest over today... Nic's friend Justin, and enjoyed the heck out of the lovely weekend.

So... what's been going on lately.

Well first is that we're really enjoying our lovely ducks and chookies. The chooks are pets, though the ducks are not as we need them to work on herding and very tame ducks aren't any good for it. The one duck, the Aylesbury, is however going to be a pet. None are what you'd call tame yet though! (Needless to say I have visions of The Bailey's Chicken Camp here! LOL) Laurent loves them all! He finds everything the ducks do hilarious... if they poke their heads up and waddle or waggle their tales or quack softly to themselves he just cracks up! He quickly picked up the word "duck" but hasn't quite mastered the "quack" sound. The chooks however he calls "beep beep" (his word for the finches) and is calling them, "thook thook thook" after hearing me call them "chook chook chook" when I bring their 'treat' food. They've got pelleted stuff available 24-7 but we've got a grain mix as a 'treat' to help tame them as right now handling them results in scrambling chickens yelling in alarm.

I've also got my first bits of work to do as we're now semi-unpacked (read: there is a higher walking space to box ratio than previous) a lot of the trees in the garden need a bit of pruning and a lot of the twigs that have fallen as a result of the winds need to be put through a chipper. Of course, I've got to buy a chipper and snips first because we don't have the former and can't find the later. I also need to get in contact with a fencing contractor and get the front yard fully fenced off so it's safe for L and Cade. I need to finish up the chooks run which is mostly done so they can go in it from their little enclosure. I need to build a bigger chook house for the run so I can get a few more chooks eventually. I also need to repair a section of one of the paddock fences as yesterday I looked out back to check on my ducks and while admiring the ducks also saw the calf in the paddock nearest our house. No... you didn't miss anything faithful readers - I do NOT own a calf. However I did have one in my paddock. I double checked to be sure it wasn't just in the little laneway next to the paddocks and nope, there was definitely a calf and it was definitely in our paddock. I go outside and hear the calf sounding rather distressed about the whole situation. In fact he's pacing the fence line next to his equally unhappy mother, trying to work out how he got in this predicament. It seems part of the fencing was missing some wires in a hole just large enough for a few week old calf to hop through and seeing as how the grass is always greener on the other side, this little fellow decided to do just that.

So, the question is how to get the calf back where it ought to be. My neighbor doesn't seem to be home so I can't just ask them to kindly fetch their calf. We do have a gate but it occurs to me that it's probably not a great idea to try to haul the currently cauterwailing calf up to the top of the pasture and open the gate to shove him through before his mumma comes through as she is currently NOT happy and seems to reckon I'm the problem rather than the solution judging by the bellowing. That and there are several other cow-calf pairs and a Very Large Bull in the same paddock I'd be shoving him back into have come up as well and they could also push past me with his mumma and things would probalby Not End Well if several angry cow-calfs and a Very Big Bull cornered me. I don't know much about cows but I know that!

I couldn't simply LEAVE the calf there till my neighbor got back though... well, first of all it's not how I want to introduce myself to my neighbors ("Hi, my name is Amanda and I'm not a cow-napper but um... I've got one of your calfs. Can you come get it?") Plus it's going to get distressed being away from it's mum and it could try going back through itself and get all tangled up and break a leg or something that would result in it having to go to the knacker early and even though it's destined to go there anyway, going there as a baby seems sadder. Most importantly... I didn't reckon mum mightn't just push through fence in an attempt to get her baby in which case I'd have a bigger hole and a lot more cows wandering into my property and I'd have to run faster than I'm good at for the gate out which was all the way across the paddock.

The best option seemed to be attempting to guide the calf back through the hole. Problem 1: this isn't a nice tame little petting farm calf or a sweet little 4H prospect that leads and ties nicely. Problem 2: I have no way of catching it, let alone shoving it through a hole. It might be little for a cow but I'm fairly sure it still outweighs me. So I sort of walked toward it so it went toward the hole to move away from me. The calf took one look at me approaching and ran repeatedly into the fence, panicking and bawling, till it hit the spot where the hole was pushed it's way through, white eyes rolling and tongue out and slobbering (which sort of ruined the cute-little-calf image) to get away from me. For a moment looking like it was going to get it's hind leg tangled and I had visions of getting kicked by pointy black hooves but with a final little kick, the calf went back through the fence, ran to mumma, who promptly sniffed it all over it's little black body to make sure I hadn't done anything horrible to her little baby and they quickly melted back into the circle of other cows and calf and the Very Big Bull who'd been standing uncomfortably near by during this whole thing.

So. As I said, we need to fix the fence. The cute little calf was bad enough, I don't want him whispering to his buddies to come through and visit!