Monday, July 30, 2007

Well we had our first show in ages Saturday. I was hoping we'd win at least our class but no luck. Marli aka Ellagant Party Girl took 1st and was RUBOB and Best Puppy In Group also. I felt rather stupid as I fumbled a bit, even more noticable since I'd actually been doing quite nice in practices... d'oh! On the up side, I met up with a few people from that class and it was Terry's first show ever, so I hope our support made her a bit more comfortable. Her Irish Setter did well for his first show. He's such a sookie guy, makes me a bit wistful for setters again. (No, I am not getting anymore dogs anytime soon!)

I also took a look at our entries... we're doing absolutely nothing all of August and worse we missed the cut offs for the Royals. :cries: I'm not sure what we're doing in September either as I'm not sure what we will be able to make it to. :sad: I guess in hindsight we're not ready for Royals and it's best to wait and I also have plenty of things to keep me busy here but that really doesn't make me feel better as I'd really, really, really been looking forward to actually being IN the Royals this year since Hope was born. The reason - I simply did not get my entries in. I kept telling Nic I really need you to take Laurent tonight for half an hour so I can sit down and fill everything out but he was always too busy and when he finally took him it was the day after the entries closed.

Hope is doing well with the sheep but I'm also a bit frusterated with progress atm. The alpaca is the chief cause, albeit through no fault of his own. He cannot be in with them while herding as his job is to protect sheep against foxes and dogs look enough like foxes he'll try to protect against them. So I split 1-2 sheep and him into the other paddock while we keep the others in the first paddock. Problem being when I've got Hope working just the sheep, she'll spot the "strays" (iow the alpaca and 2 sheep) which are "getting away" and constantly wants to dash back to round them up! X-o

I still haven't picked up my Wyandotte cockrel, we haven't been able to get ahold of the fellow. I'm hoping he's not sold him elsewhere as they are -very- difficult to find. I've had some good news in that my partridge colour Silkie hen has gotten some very favorable comments from some people who think she's worth showing and should produce excellent babies as well. She was just purchased as a pet as when you buy a baby you can't really tell how it'll end up but if there are any shows nearby in August maybe I'll take her for a lark. Her breeder has offered me an unrelated cockrel which I may take up. The idea of showing chooks seems so funny to me... but I suppose really it's not any different than dogs or cats so not sure why it seems so odd!

Other than that, it seems like there is so much outrageous stuff going on in a lot of my friends lives at the moment... stuff you'd expect to read about rather than watch people you know live through. There is so much upheaval, stress, personal realizations, hurt and other miserable, rotten stuff. I guess this means that I know a lot of very strong people but it sucks to collectively have the universe grabbing us by the ear and turning the world upside down. I've started writing about stuff so many times in the past few weeks and just really lacked the words to capture my thoughts, my moods were too transient and by the time I found the way to put across one thought, I'd picked it apart from five other points of view and what I felt changed entirely. I feel like I'm at a point where I want to move forward with all my plans again but things are just going so frusteratingly slow it's hard to believe I'll ever get there.

Verity's progress is slow but steady. Slow more due to my lack of time to train as intensively as I did pre-toddler. Frusterating as I know what kind of progress we have the ability to achieve if not the time. She is happy though, dances around with joy in her eyes, so it's really a human complaint more than a dog one. It was her second birthday as well a few days ago and she got goodies and into mischief- chewed and shredded a bag of sheep wool and a bag of alpaca wool I'd recieved to try spinning with.

Aside from everything, Laurent is gorgeous and beautiful and wonderful and precious and I really, really, really, really love it when he pops out with cute new phrases, wraps his arms around my neck, gives me a big kiss and bursts out giggling so hysterically he actually falls down and can't pick himself up. He knows how to bribe Cade now into coming, "Caaadddeee.... foo-foood... go buh bye car carrrr" in a sing song voice. Today he pointed to the AB icon on my bookmark favorites bar and when I clicked on it he requested, "Bwyn! Where Bwyn?" (Sif's son Bryn) Then when I found a thread with your sig picture in it he clapped in glee, pointed and exclaimed, "See it? BWYN! Oo-ie!" (Oo-ie being Luey) and giggling and clapping more. He apparently has seen me click on the icon enough to recognize what website it symbolizes and remembered that he's seen their picture while there! O_O

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Noir entranced by blowing clouds

A couple of Sierra since I've not taken a non-happy snap of her in awhile so took these.

Another one of Sierra watching/stalking up to jump in on the game of "THUNK! Tag-you're-it!" between Hope and Verity.

Random sunset shot of Verity, actually close to tuckered out!

And one of Hope, hiding in the tall grass near the water tanks waiting for her chance to pounce.

I'm not real thrilled with the photos. All the pictures I've taken recently have been very poor quality and I'm not really sure why, aside from not having taken pictures in awhile due not feeling at top speed.

On the upside, Verity's assessment at the behaviourist went nicely the other day. Dr. Calnon got a good assessment, got to see Verity's typical reactions to various circumstances. ALways useful as while I can describe it very accurately, there's no substitute for seeing things first hand yk? No real surpises... everything I'd thought was spot on, she was pleased with the progress she's made in these few weeks, seemed to feel I had a realistic idea of what was going on and likely outcomes, said everything I've been doing is what I should have been doing, agreed with my schedule of priorities, agreed with my risk assessments and the likely outcomes I predicted at various points of progress were likely to be.... so while no suprises, it's pleasant to have an expert with a bevy of impressive degrees attached to her name agree with your own assessments. I'll get the full written report in a day or so. My biggest question had been regarding the intensity of her interest in small animals and her potential to go from a state of excited arousal to predation with them, which I highly suspected I'd an accurate bead on but was disinclined to test for obvious reasons! (I like my ducks in one piece!) We're going to commence socialization classes in the next few weeks which should be a big help.

Will post more on the report when I get the official written copy.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The sheep and wool show was a nice diversion if not quite what I'd expected. I saw lovely black alpaca, was able to talk with some people at the coloured sheep stand but rather sad that the breeds I was chiefly interested in - coloured Corriedale and white Cheviot were present in very small numbers. (As in four.) I didn't expect huge numbers but hoped for a few more. Lots of beautiful yarns though! The working dog trials were a disappointment - only saw Border Collies. I hoped to see some kelpies work since they at least kinda-sorta work like an Aussie but no such luck!

Today we mostly worked around here a bit. This place really is heaven in the sunshine - sheep grazing, chooks and ducks browsing, La running around playing and the dogs swirling around my feet. We went to the Gembrook Market in the afternoon, my favorite little market! I took Verity with me while Nic took La. She wasn't completely relaxed but was still calm and learning. Several people were lovely and tossed/handed treats to her and learned something about how to interact with dogs but I also had to head-off 3 people who were going to pet without asking. They weren't kids either but adults who ought to know better. While Verity wouldn't do anything to them she's being socialized and if they scared her it could set us back weeks in our progress, not to mention another dog might object to being accosted by strangers by biting and then get blamed for it. Went through the speech about how they might feel if some strange person rushed up and hugged them - while they'd enjoy it from a friend, they might find such a forward stranger weirdly aggressive or frightening and dogs are no different. My annoyance aside, she had an over-all positive time and I was very pleased as it's a busier area than we've done previously.

Looking at some flowers... nice relaxed girlie!

Same here...

Lovely old gentleman who runs one of the booths who came and helped socialize her a bit. She was initially uncertain and the first picture (not resized yet) she looks mildly anxious (ears aren't forward, eyes are moderately squinted, weight was transfered to the rear to back up if necessary) Within a minute or so she was relaxed enough to sit down and as shown, interacting with him with calm curiousity! :-) We met a lady who shows Bernerse Mt Dogs as well, out socializing her pup and two adults who had seen Verity on Amanda's website and knew Ben & Ana and their dogs as well!

The best part of the market is the organic dog biscuit bakery! Verity was keen to inspect and choose her favorites!

After we got home the Hopes' (not the dog, the sheep and alpacas owner) dropped off Clancy the alpaca who was VERY glad to see his girls again! He is just gorgeous if a bit unsure of this whole moving thing. La has already picked up the word "alpaca" which is in toddlerese "PAC!" and apparently says "moo!" LOL

Friday, July 20, 2007

*gush gush gush* Best dogs in the world. *gush gush gush

Okay, the more detailed version is that Hope has again done very nicely helping me today- we managed to take them through gates 4x, moving them between paddocks so the dogs could use the unoccupied one to romp. This is the point where non-dog friends go, "Yeah, AND?!" and my dog friends who've tried herding understand it's more tricky than it sounds! lol Also introduced walk-up though she's not quite sure when to stop since it's a relatively long duration behaviour.
Very happy though as this means that when I need to round them up when they're almost due or have new lambs, she'll be effective but soft enough to help, which in turn means a whole lot less running and slip-n-slide for me. While we're no where near what the advanced dogs can do, for a total of a few days and with only a few minutes a day for a couple of rank novices we don't suck. ;-)

Brag two is that I took Verity to the pet supermarket today and she did quite well. She rode the whole way calmly though, even when we were going through a workzone at a crawl near a jackhammer and wasn't fussed at the store... not overly curious (which is my prefered reaction to novel situations, "Oh, hey, what's this and how do I make it result in treats???") but not fussed either, which was quite nice! She had to deal with food bags being put in a trolly, walking next to said trolly with chattering bubba down narrow aisles and there were other dogs, people, kids, clippers and blowdryers going etc. The closest I let anyone get was about a foot and a half from her but she was pretty cruisey and bumping my hand for bikkies much of the time. We also discovered that she is not small animal safe... they all elicited way too much intensity. I'd suspected this as she was just a little too interested in my chooks and ducks for me to think duck herding was going to be a good idea but I think we can now say with certainty she'd be a dose of chlorine in the small animal genepool.

Off tomorrow to Bendigo for the Sheep And Wool show to see sheep, alpaca and working dog trials! ! ! ! !

Thursday, July 19, 2007

To go with our cold spell, Laurent and I both ended up feeling quite lousy the morning after the ASCV's meeting and snuggling aside the fire held many appeals.

The meeting itself was interesting and nice to see some people I hadn't seen in a few months again! After being interested in the proposed Hereditary Diseases and Disorders Advisory Panel (seeing as how I want to keep abreast of all the information we have on the various problems and recomendations etc) I found myself volunteering for being a panel member. Not quite in the plans when I went but at least there are 5 other people too and I HAD sent an open invitation to the universe to find me a way of being more involved beyond my own dogs but not really sure what as I'm not particularly skilled in accounting, book-keeping or such or experienced enough for many other positions really. So no complaints really and it's a brilliant idea on the ASCV's behalf imo.

Other than that it's been rather quiet here. It's been pouring rain most of the time and very cold even when it's not. Our two large water tanks are full and our overflow tank is overflowing for the past two weeks. I feel awful seeing it wasted and since we're not on town water should the summer be long and dry we'll need it. So we've been talking about having a 2nd dam cut and sticking a diversionary pipe from the overflow tank to the 1st dam and then gravity feeding it to the 2nd or just taking the diversionary pipe straight to the second dam.

Neither the cold nor the wet has stopped the dogs from running around like mad fools though. I'm sure they must be some of the fittest dogs in the shire considering how much time they spend hooning around after each other. The darn thing is it only makes them more fit and with higher endurance! Hope has also been helping me (very gently, for no more than a 2-3 minutes at a time and keeping a keen eye on their respiratory rates) dog-break the sheep. I'd initially not wanted to work them thinking them further along than they are but they've still got aways to go before they're due so light, careful work is okay. Mostly focusing on giving me attention even around them, turning off hand signals, laying down etc. So far we've not even made them breathe harder than a normal rate they move at when trotting around or move at a fast clip so we're well and truly taking it easy. ;-)

The chief deciding factor was that four aren't tame at all and two are former bummer lambs which will allow some touching but not handling as such. The former bummers are 3rd lambers and have NO fear whatsoever and none of the normal tendancy of sheep to move away from dogs. Instead they'll actually come chase the dog from across the pasture and if she's near me I get nailed by virtue of not being able to dodge that fast. We were just trying to get to the second (unoccupied!) paddock to let the dogs run! Sheesh!

So they need to learn to work with us, at the very least so the poor dog doesn't get trampled and I don't get the fall-out for walking across the paddocks. I understand they don't care for being asked to move here or there but there may well come a time when they need to - chiefly when they're due to lamb and I need bring them in where I can assist if need be, help the littlies start nursing if mum isn't keen and they'll be safe from dying of cold or being lost to foxes, eagles or wandering dogs.

Hope is being a very, very good girl about it all... she is getting cooperation by simply not giving way rather than forcing them by gripping. Just dancing in and using her voice, blocking them from going past her until they decide it's easier to simply walk towards the human who is leading them towards good things anyway. As you can see she's having a war of wills with this ewe (the bummer ewe) about how she doesn't care how much she stomps or kicks she's not letting her go this way. The photo is small being resized but the look on her face I just love - so very intense the conversation between them - which is how she's controling them and her outer front elbow is set so that she can transfer her weight to her rear and move either way to block the ewe from breaking left or right.

And yes, you read that right. Her VOICE!

The little black dog that wouldn't bark at training has discovered her voice and upon being requested to will woof until the sheep decides she's obnoxious little black-tri mozzie, harumphs it's annoyance and rejoins the herd muttering, "fine, if you want me to go that way that darn bad..."

So it's been a learning experience for the little Hope dog, who loves this whole working thing more than air I think. Gods but she's a fast little thing though! She over-takes and speeds beyond even Verity when they romp and Sierra hasn't a snowflakes chance in hades in ever matching her speed! She looks like a little black sylph in the grass, a spirit of the rainy winds, rushing through the grass in great long bounds, so fast it hardly has time to rustle!

I am all in all very, very pleased with the progress both Hope, the sheep and myself have all made in our short little sessions. If all goes well, they'll lamb easily and the little ones will be healthy, vigorous babies who nurse easily and all I'll have to do is corral them every night into the pen. If all doesn't, at least this is in place so we'll have an easier time of things.

Verity meanwhile is about to find life will become more interesting. We're scheduled to have a meeting with a behaviourist who runs socialization classes as well so we can get into classes. The classes sound great - very gentle and progressing within the dog's comfort zone. They're also carefully set up and managed with very savy Delta trainers as volunteers. Should be a lovely experience for her I think and a nice stepping stone into the rest of the world getting to see the same lovely Very-Very Good Girl I see here at home!

A last little Hope brag, we had class again tonight and actually didn't get hollered at this time!!! In other words I didn't do anything to get hollered at for and instead was actually told she looked quite good! LOL Yippie!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We've got SHEEP!

Six white wooly and VERY VERY pregnant sheep, delievered by their owners today.

They aren't mine as such but will be boarding here for a year which is great for me. The alpaca is to arrive next weekend, didn't fit in the trailer with them. Hopefully he arrives before lambs start arriving or I'll have to be watching very close for foxes to ensure we don't loose any lambs. A few of the ewes look set to burst so I'm guessing we may have some twins - but their bags aren't full so remarkably they've got a bit to go before lambing. Their owner will be back so I can get his vet details etc tomorrow as the neighbors calves have busted into my paddock AGAIN and torn up the support post so this guy is going to bring a wire-stretcher-thingo to get it good and secure. Nic tried to go tell Mr. Talbot (owner of said buggering calves) but Mr. Talbot has what looks to be a Heeler-Kelpie mix who was distinctly eager to relieve Nic of excess body parts should he step foot onto their property and so Nic decided to wait till we see him in the fields.

Another bit of good news, I finally located a cockrel to go with my hens! Now I just have to drive to BENALLA to get him! X-o

Just a quick one from the day. Still feeling a bit on the lousy side of things but La was having fun!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


I've been really upset with someone over something fairly major and it's been sort of dragging everything down, though everything else is going along nicer than it's ever been and I've got so much good stuff going on, aside from that one thing.

That one thing has been big enough to throw me for a loop though, just blindsideded me and I've spent a few days feeling rather internal and mulling over how I feel about things. This was muchly helped by spending 3 days basically bumming around with friends at outtings or as was the case yesterday we all descended upon Sif, ate heaps of chocolate and let the kids enjoy playing together. All the same, the great god Murphy has decided to lend me some humor. Which brings me to the first picture.

These guys were sitting up in my tree, looking down at me and gosh they were pretty so I just had to take a snap and well... sometimes you're the bird, sometimes *SPLAT* happens.

As for the good stuff...

Lala is gorgeous and growing leaps and bounds and I love how sensitive he is with the dogs, how many things he's learning and watching him work out how things work. He's mind is constantly turning things over and examining them, working them out. He's quite a clever little critter, even if it's maddening at times trying to out-fox him! I got him heaps of art supplies, paints, markers, paper etc which he is loving! (My walls on the other hand are more colourful than previous!) He is using my patterend scrapbooking SCISSORS now to cut his art! Not super precise but using them all the same. He is identifying body parts and picking up words seemingly at random, shocking the pants off us all! Counting has gone up to 3 in English, no French 3 yet though, it just goes Wun, Doo, Fwee or un, deux, FWEE! And started singing part of a jingle to me which was so cute! Noir has also had his name added to La's vocabulary "Nh-wah!" and Cade is getting called, "Cade, FWWOOOODDD!!!!!"

The dogs are doing great, Verity is adjusting well and even handled a trip to the Royal Botanical Gardens in the middle of Melbourne. Her trip to the city was an hour long car ride which was fine till we hit past where we went to Pakenham the day before.
Verity: I wanna stand up and watch everything. What if something happens?
Me: Nothing is going to happen, laying down on the chair will earn you liver.
Verity: But what if something DOES happen, I need to watch! Freaky mutant aliens might beam down onto the middle of the M1... you don't know!
Me: Verity, the magic liver seat only works if you're laying down."
Verity: Oh. *ponders* Well. I guess it looks pretty boring. You're SURE the liver only comes if I'm laying down?
Me: Yup. The liver gods are funny that way.
Verity: Weeellllll.... okay. But if you see any freaky mutant aliens, let me know okay? And if they suck your brains before I can save you, it's your own fault!

It also involved radio, trams, more traffic, more people, mounted police, those mountain buggy prams, walking-barking-mops, walking next to Laurent in his pram etc. The radio and La's pram were the funniest reactions. She was positively puzzled about the radio and how I fit teeny-tiny people in there. Kept cocking her head this way and that, sniffing it, peeking under in the footwell to try and work out where they were hiding every time a new voice came on. Her first reaction to La's pram was, "What on EARTH!?! I knew he walked funny but this is just WEIRD!!!" I plopped a cup of hotdog flavored cherios in his hands and away we went. Took her a few minutes but she quick enough got over the weirdness and figured out how to walk next to the pram at the precise pace to have cherios inserted into her mouth at a steady pace without getting her toes accidentally bumped. Here's a pic of Miss V in the herb garden watching La wave cherios at her.

More goodness... chooks are great, ducks are captured. May possibly have located a person who has a spare rooster of my breed and colour he'd be willing to part with, will find out tomorrow which is really good because the other handful of people who keep the breed have NONE available till the mid of next year and I want chickies!

Plans for the farm are going astonishingly without hitch. Got a great packet from the alpaca association since I'm also hoping to run some high quality fine fiber alpaca and breed them, with seminars and industry support seminar information included.

I have sheep and an alpaca arriving tomorrow - they're going to board here for about a year which has the tripple benefit of 1.) giving me additional practical experience with sheep and first experience with alpaca with the back-up of their owner being responsible for them and paying for their care while , 2.) gives me some extra cash, 3.) I may get some lambs out of the deal, though they're meat breed v. wool breed and so would eventually be sold on being useless for spinning. Originally they'd also wanted to board their horses and donkey which I wasn't as keen on because of the insurance issue and I thought it'd be pushing the pasture rather hard but they'll be boarding elsewhere so it's a non-issue. So you see things are really going great otherwise!

Thursday we FINALLY heard a woof out of Verity! Geeze, that took a bit! For a dog who barked a whole lot when I got her she's been downright silent here! Neighbors and I were talking, their BC and my 4 were dodging under the fences but then Cade couldn't see where to duck back under as his vision is worsening, so one girl ducked under to our side. Verity hadn't barked the whole time up till then - even with the girls and their dog coming across their paddock and us walking across ours to the fence in the middle and then standing talking and even having gone up to them a few times to sniff and lick. Verity had just been leaning into my leg for an ear scratch and not really paying attention, belatedly realized she'd FORGOTTEN to something and went, "Oh wait, um... boof! Boof! You there, girl! I see you! Boof!" before I handed her chicken and said "thanks, I see her". She looked at me, eye cocked and considering, "Really?" Looked at the girl out of the corner of her eye not wanting to look away from a possible handing out of chicken, let out a half boof/half sigh, got another bit of chicken and went, "Oh. Okay." It was a bit funny and I was rather pleased she didn't bark the whole time till she figured she'd forgotten something she was supposed to do and barked the way she did rather than doing that sort of startle/panic/alarm bark thing they do when freaked out!

I'm sulking a bit as I was SUPPOSED to be at a show today. I was really looking forward to it as Hope is finally looking decent, I'd even done a good job grooming her. I'm sure there are top experts who'd make my scissor-work look positively bodgy but she'd been line-brushed for several days, washed, blown out, trimmed up and gussied to a respectable state anyhow and she looks so PURDY! Unfortunately life conspires, bad food from the other day which had given me a rumbly tummy the past few days finally whomped me good and proper. *WHINGE WHINE BLEAT* No show. Poor me! ;-p Sat at home feeling rather miserable, crashed at about 1pm and didn't wake until nearly 5 pm. Bleh. Luckily I was well cared for by my furry pillows whilst napping, who were shockingly well behaved for the day to remind me they CAN be good.

What could they have done you ask? Since my last post, my rotten little puppy (Hope) decided to really push her luck. I'd stuck her in the trailer as her crate had been cleaned and I wanted to air it out several hours just to be safe so she wasn't bothered by the fumes. Normally I'd stick her in the other crate but I left it at Jayne's a few months back and haven't gotten there to pick it up yet. Well, in repayment for my not wanting to have her bothered by the trace scent of cleaner the ROTTEN little so and so CHEWED THE WALL OF THE TRAILER!!! There is a 30 cm x 36 cm HOLE in it going through the interior pannel, all the insulation and out to the metal shell. *sigh*

In the meantime, I need to pull myself up and find the motivation to get all the crap I've got waiting to get done actually DONE. Motivation seems in short supply, almost as short as extra time!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

It's been a busy few days since Miss Verity arrived... quite a few things she's been more cruisey than I expected, though I'm not dismissing there is a work to do with socializing when we start asking more of her. At the moment we'd been taking things pretty easy and not pushing into her comfort zone much, other than reinforcing the fact that all good things for little blue dogs come from toddlers and that if she's unsure of something, rather than dealing with it herself she should come to me. Have been not online as much the past few days due to a lovely tummy bug!

It's been a lot of fun discovering her... she is a lot like Hope in some ways, you can tell they're sisters!

On the other hand, there are plenty of differences as well. She is more of a one-person dog - that person being me. She's fine with Nic and is figuring out that Laurent while small, crazy and fond of moving about in a noisy and erratic manner is a veritable yummy-treat producing machine... but she's definitely 'my' girl and given the choice prefers to stick with me. She'll crawl in my lap, flop over for belly scratches, jump up for kisses and cuddles etc. and more often than not spends all her time not playing with the dogs curled at my feet.

Sierra, being the good natured goofball she is, has taken everything in stride. Another dog to wrestle with, another dog to chase about. Yup, life is good and all is right in Sierra's world! Hope has defered a lot to Verity as I expected she'd do but also as expected has the things she considers important enough to refuse to give up as well (her pink binky ball) and will be interesting to see how that changes as Hope gets older and more mature. Right now she seems to have slipped neatly into the role of a hero-worshiping pesty little sister quite neatly! The three Aussie's seem to have taken a lot of joy in the fact that they're now a small mob of like-minded playmates (the harder the better) and spend a lot of their time hooning around, wrestling, slobbering on each other and generally mucking about. Play is *definitely* a contact sport here!

Hope, attempting to take Sierra out, at full tilt. Black blips in the background are cows believe it or not, remarkably unfussed by the zooming, growly, wrestling nutbags.

'Round about the dam we go... then round about some more!

Great galloping hairy hordes of thundering Aussie paws!

Full tilt, full out... how do all three manage despite it all to never wear out?????

Poor Sierra... I managed to snap Hope ganging up on her again, though they all take turns in being the one everyone piles on pretty evenly!

In other doggy news, today was Verity's first day out to town. She got to ride in the car in the passanger seat which at first she wasn't so sure she liked. Fortunately like most Aussie's she's firmly lead by her tummy, so the discussion went like this:
Verity: Uh uh, no way! I'm not going to jump in that car!
Me: Verity, that seat produces liver cookies.
Verity: Nope, not gonna! No way, no how! Wait... did you say... liver?
Me: Yup! See - there's a piece right there on the edge of the seat.
Verity: Okay, well the -edge- isn't so bad. I guess I can do that. *chomp chomp*
Me: There's another piece there, you must have missed it.
Verity: Hm. *chomp* Well I guess it's not that much further in. *chomp chomp* You know, this liver stuff is pretty good! *burp*
Me: Well since you like it so much there's more there, go take a look.
Verity (front paws on the seat): Oh *chomp slurp chomp* YUM!
Me: Betchya if you jump up you get even more!
Verity: Well, okay, if there's liver involved...

After we got in she was a bit uncertain on the ride but by the time we got back in to come home hopped in and laid down like a pro. So much for "Uh uh, no way!" LOL

While we were in town, we walked around a bit to gauge her reaction to strangers. She was definitely a bit uncertain but not horribly so. I'd honestly expected a stronger reaction out of her, more like what I'd seen when we went to visit her the first few times but not a pull-back, not a bark, not a muttering. The worst of it was she looked mildly anxious around her lips and was trying to watch everything at once, coming back to touch my hand for reassurance a few times. We took a slow stroll around the shops, liver magically appearing under her nose every time a stranger walked by and halting when they'd passed, only to magically appear under her nose again with the next stranger. After awhile we sat outside the grocery store a few feet from the door in a position that she could see all the people coming by but they wouldn't be able to ambush her for pats without asking me first. Same thing as before - every time a person walked by lots of tiny little liver treats appeared, only to disappear when the strangers had passed. People with trollys, walking frames, two wheel-chairs, a worker dragging in a bunch of cars, kids of all ages, guy with big funky dreadlocks, lady with a baby in a sling, bikers, a skateboarder etc. So quite pleased with her reactions... by the end she was fairly calm about it all, more relaxed and had taken to nudging my hand for the treat she knew was coming when a person walked by! Cheeky little thing this one!

Okay, now this is my darling child in one of his more recent escapades. He got into my purse, nabbed my lipgloss and dobbed it all over himself while in the carseat before chirping, "Mum! WOOK! I peeettttyyy!!!" I need to get some nice pictures of him since I haven't gotten any in a little while and he's growing and changing so much recently! This week he's come out with literally heaps and heaps of little sentences and words we didn't even know he knew just out of the blue. He'd been talking before and adding words here and there but it seems like this week he's come out with a few months worth of new words and strung them together in bigger sentences!

Now... my ducks. Aren't they just the picture of happy, ducky contentment? Ahhh... a nice stretch!

And a snooze on the lush green grass! Okay but here's the thing - they're ON THE LUSH GREEN GRASS - which means they're not in their pen. Why, you ask? Because the silly things got it into their head while walking too and from the paddocks to dodge under the house. This, they discovered, is a place the dog will not follow them and the human cannot follow them. So for the past week they have been free-range ducks, escaping every attempt to round them up! They're perfectly safe mind you, we're well back from the road and fenced in anyhow with nothing but cows on all sides and plenty of pasture to graze, bugs to gobble and a dam full of water. I'd been putting out water and food for them anyhow to lure them out but they'd just gobble it and then hide the second I came out to get them. I shot this from Laurent's bedroom with my zoom lense out as far as it could go. However, the cheeky little boogers were caught today... fine and fat as butter from their munching... and returned to their pen!

And then yesterday, when I headed off to the showgrounds to check out the Wyandotte's which are a breed of chicken I've been after. While there, we got to meet up with some of our online aquaintences from BYP as well, including Jacquie who was down from WA! Trick is, I'm after a sort of chicken that is really hard to find... full sized partridge pencilled Wyandottes. The colour is rather rare in the full sized birds and since this is one of the largest get togethers of the breed, it was probably my best chance to get in contact with someone who bred them. Lo and behold there were two entered - a hen and a pullet. (Mind you entries were along the lines of 300 birds for the rest, so you can see how uncommon they are!) I was quite chuffed and Jacquie being braver than I am, sussed out their owners name, found someone who could tell us where he was and then went up to enquire as she was also after some bantam-sized partridges and standard columbians. She ended up getting a pair of pullets as she already has a CB line and had a PB line cockrel and we also managed to talk to gentleman into parting with the two PB standard sized ones for me! So I'm the proud new owner of a standard PB partridge hen and pullet! Now I just need to find a PB partridge cockrel so they can make lots of cute babies! LOL I may have to search long and hard for that though, as the gentleman who sold me these two told me that unfortunately he couldn't help me as he had only one and it'd taken him ages to find and knew of no one at all breeding CB lines! So here's the new girls, no names yet but geeze aren't they pretty marked??? The roosters are even more beautiful yet.

This is the hen

and another of the hen (left) and pullet (right) with Blossom, my partridge colour silkie, waving her fluffy bum behind the hen.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

And the new kid is....

Sorry for all the suspense everyone, while on the road I wasn't able to get myself to an internet cafe as we were too busy either talking dogs or being tourists! My connection has been acting up all day today as well - too much rain and wind I guess!

To keep anyone from keeling over having to wait any longer however, I'll say who our new kid is and then ramble on about the rest! *VBG*

Short story: Verity, aka Cuebiyar Dream Come True, who is also Hope's half sister through their dam has made the trip down south to join our family.

We drove up to Greta, NSW which is in the Hunter Valley on Tuesday. We got a late start after a certain Bunny Lala snurched my keys and hid them very, very well! It took us 3 hours to locate them... in my knitting yarn. *sigh* At any rate, we loaded the dogs in the trailer and headed off. It really is a gorgeous trip and there were so many places I wanted to stop but since we wanted to make good time and Laurent was sleeping, we decided to keep driving as long as he slept.

Traveling with a not-quite-two-year-old had me questioning my sanity but he slept pretty much the entire way through. He woke up a few times, we grabbed a bite to eat, walked and watered the dogs and after a few minutes of playing "I Spy The Cow/Truck/Sheep", off to sleep again! Anyone who knows La knows this is REMARKABLE! LOL As it was we got into Lochinvar at 10:30pm, took care of the dogs, grabbed a bite to eat at the pub and crashed. Just before we got there however we came up Kinta Drive! LOL (Figured you might get a kick out of that Amanda!)

This is the view from our motel.

Nic and Bunny Lala - up in the air!

An ibis I thought was pretty... whole flock of them actually but this one was closer to me.
The next day I got to meet all the dogs and spent plenty of time talking about them and watching videos. Could have done that endlessly!

Sierra and Hope in the field near the motel. For anyone wondering, yes, Cade was with us but his prissy little IG self doesn't like to get cold, wet or in the wind so he was comfortably perched in the car, on a blanket, in a sweater! Same with most of the other pics which were quite chilly!

Meeting Tilley (Hope's mum) confirmed why I love the McMatt line so much - great temperments and big love-sponges to go with their good looks. As you can see, she's got no hesitation in making herself quite at home in my lap and getting an ear rub! LOL I tried to sneak Tilley into my trailer but no luck! ;-p Courage, Hope's sire is the same - beautiful temperment but was elsewhere with his other co-owners this visit so I didn't get to see him.
Rush (Hope's half brother, Verity's litter brother) whom (didn't get a pic of him while there) is also a lovely boy and much filled out from the last time I saw him! (Go figure... it's only been several months!) He is a gorgeous friendly boy, in my lap and giving kisses the big love bug... reminds me a lot of Hope in temperment, he just wants loving, loving and more loving and thinks everyone adores him! LOL

Ditto was the suprise... having not seen her except in pictures I wasn't sure how closely they'd look alike. They are TWINS... seriously very nearly -identical- in build! Ditto has a slightly straighter front (Hope at the moment hasn't had her chest arrive so tends to toe out slightly), Hope has more coat and perhaps more bone (I'd say pretty slightly, her coat makes it look more dramatic but underneath very similar) but other than that their build is very, very, very close! I ended up calling Hope "Ditto" and Ditto "Hope" more than once!

Of course, I also met both Dawn and Verity since that was rather key! Both girls seemed willing to learn, despite being a bit shy. Both needed socialization but showed they were willing to work with me. Verity I'd liked since she was born... she and Rush were my two favs of the litter since they were newborns but of course there was no way I could put my hand up for a pup from that litter as La was a newborn himself. Having Hope's sister and a dog I'd liked for so long was a very big appeal, she is a gorgeous girl and seems to have a lot of her mum in her and I'm sure she'll be working her audience shortly enough. (She barked at me the first day, barked less the second and has shown absolutely ZERO of that yesterday or today... in my lap, soaking up attention and treats like a sponge!)

Dawn reminded me a lot of a particular dog I'd grown up with... not so much physically but something about the spirit more I suppose and something in the eyes... and of course I liked the lines and the idea of having a dog who'd quite probably have a good bit of working instinct. After the first day I still had no more idea of who would be coming home than when coming up though. I was hoping something big would jump out at me... but it seemed I was in the same quandry - both different girls, different advantages and different points that would need more socializing. One of the big tests was how they'd react to Laurent and again, both very different reactions with different advantages and points that'd need some work. (Bearing in mind neither girl has seen children, let alone a wild-n-wooly toddler who was fed up with traveling and threw a couple of terrific tantrums!)

So the next day back again to talk more dogs, see how the girls reacted to me after they'd been pushed a bit the previous day... I'd mucked about clicking on little things to see how they'd respond to it and both seemed to quickly 'get' the clicker concept and retain it the next day. The first day I'd pushed much longer than I'd normally work a dog as well, so got some insight as to how they might handle being pushed or reacting when a bit tired and overwhelmed. We'd also held off introducing Sierra, Cade and Hope because they'd had enough new suprises sprung on them the first day.

This ended up being the deciding factor. Dawn and Hope weren't a good match... they may have eventually gotten on well enough to live together with some management and work but not an *ideal* match... they'd never really be best mates. Since all my dogs live in the house and together and I firmly believe every one has a right to feel treasured and safe in their own home, how the dogs like each other has always been a big factor in my choice of who to get. Cade chose Bria (who was rescued as a senior and passed away in 2001), then Isabella when rescued from the puppymill where she'd been a brood bitch for years - she was a foster but I'd have literally needed a crow-bar to pry them apart. She crossed the rainbow bridge in 2006 but in early 2004 they'd both chose Sierra and were best friends. I'd looked at a couple pups that were what I wanted in terms of temperment and what I thought Cade and Isabella would get along with as well but the final say was theirs and they kept wanting to play with her most. When looking for Hope I'd given a pretty exact description of what sort of temperment Cade and Sierra got along with since we couldn't go see the pups. It's worked out really well and all the dogs have been very close and best friends with each-other. Unfortunately it didn't seem to be in the cards for Dawn and I felt that wouldn't be fair to either dog to force them to live with someone they only "tollerate" or maybe even "like" but don't love as a best buddy.

Verity seemed quite amenable however. Actually being in season she is a big flirt at the moment! Cade, being male (never mind he's been neutered for 9 years!) thinks Verity is really, really, really neat! Hope was initially a bit unsure, I think just from being overwhelmed by all the other dogs there, but once on the road those two have been doing nothing but wanting to play and horse around. Sierra and Verity are likewise working out their roles and horsing around!

Verity ended up traveling supurbly, was happy to munch cookies and pretty quickly worked out I had a lot of good stuff stashed on my person. Since we didn't do the tourist thing on the way up we decided to do so on the way back. We meandered around Newcastle for a good while, haunting the antique stores and found a lovely blue-and-white plate, a lily of the valley tea cup and a gorgeous blue vaseline milk glass hen... perfect condition, the colour being rather rare and hard to find. I'm considering a it good omen since she was quite reasonable price and 'hatching' a clutch of eggs (hopefully hatching new and good thigns for me you see!) We stopped and had lunch as well, letting the dogs stretch their legs a bit.

La was a bit confused over the "hot dog" we got him which was about the only dairy free thing on the kids menu. First it wasn't a dog and there wasn't one to feed it to. Second, every time we told him to eat the HOT dog, he looked at us like, "Are you nuts?!?" and blew on it to cool it off. LOL

The bun, however, made far more sense! Yum! Dinosaur Lala tears into it with a mighty roar!

We went on and stopped at several little places between there and where Nic's mate lived just outside of Sydney.

We ended up staying the night with them, getting to catch up with Dave and Lou and Katelyn (who is Nic's god-daughter, four years old and so astonishingly grown up) which Laurent thought was simply brilliant! It's a pity he's the first child as I think he'd love to have been the second and have an older sibling! He LOVES playing with the big kids! I was so glad we got
to spend the extra time with them as we haven't seen them since February I think and they're not likely to be able to get down here super soon either. After spending the night, Dave had to take off for work and Lou and Katelyn had to get a move on and so did we since it's still a long trip home!

We stopped in several little towns to browse, stopped for a good while in Goldburn to look at the sites as well. Nic had me go first to the War Memorial which was a good place to go but decidedly NOT trailer friendly on top of a peak with a very narrow road and a steep drop. That said the view was lovely and the town quite cute.

It was a bit of a toss up because I wanted to see the Lavender Farm there but also wanted to see the Albury Botanic Gardens since we'd missed some of the nice gardens earlier on. We opted to go to the Lavender Farm after checking in with the tourist information on the roads (several being closed due to flooding or damage from the flooding) and went on our merry way only to find out there were closed for unknown reasons. We ended up stopping at a nursery to get our plant (always try to buy a plant to bring home and incorporate into our garden wherever we go) and got a lavender there called a "Merle" which is a Spanish type of lavender that gets to be 80x70cm and is related closely to Avonview and Ploughman's Purple and a lovely variety of She Oak. Our last touristy bit was about 20 minutes from the border, where we wandered down a walk and saw some little waterfalls, cattle, sheep and roos near a beautiful little river.
I have a whole list of places after that I now want to visit at some point including Celtic Country which looks to be a wonderful time. We spent literally the whole time we were driving talking about everything and nothing, which was wonderfully relaxing and fun. It reminded me how much I love traveling, seeing new places and spending time together like this this... just total bliss!

Towards dinner we stopped at Albury and Wodonga and for desert Laurent got a rare treat - a taste of gellati! He's probably had it about 4 times in his life but was in rapture with it... chiefly because it was GREEN. The red (strawberry) and white (lemon) were studiously ignored in favor of the green apple flavoured one! True Italian gellati has no dairy in it so it was perfectly safe for him but since we don't want him having sweets and don't usually have them ourselves it's a pretty special occasion but this trip warranted it.

At about 1:30 am I was pretty tuckered out, so we pulled over for a brief rest and ended up pulling in the house at about quarter after five in the morning. Good to be home and get the dogs out and into our own home! Verity trotted in quite happily, got bikkies with the rest of them and started horsing around wanting to play. It didn't take long to discover the beds and sheepskins either! LOL

We'll start working on gradual desensitization to anything that bothers her in a few days. I want to give her a bit to settle in, let the stress of traveling and leaving her birth home to live here and getting used to a new family etc process through and have her stress levels and hormones back to baseline before I start anything. Till then she's having fun discovering that all three of us are walking vending machines.