Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I've been spending most of the past few days offline gardening or rather pruning my severely overgrown rhodenderons. I'm shocked at how much stuff I've got off them and even more shocked at how much more I've got to go. I'm sure that when it's chipped I could fill a 7 meter skip. Truth be told I'm impressed with how much I've gotten done with Bubby La interrupting me every five seconds to tell me of the important matters of the world. Important matters include: there is a cow, the cow says moo, the dam is still filled with water, the cow thinks grass is yummy, the sheep say baa, pum (lambs) like bibi (milk), there is a tree, a BIG tree, a BIG pretty tree, another tree, it is hot/cold, Hope/Sierra/Cade/Verity want cookies, La would like bibi, bibi is gone, La wants (jelly)beans, beans are gone, ALL gone, still gone, there is a car, the car goes VROOM, a truck, two trucks, a BIG truck... all kinds of stuff I desperately need to know! ;-)

Since the weather was so gorgeous, I also bought a heap of flowers and seeds in the past two days and have been enjoying reconnecting with my inner mudbug. For me, the gardening is kind of a zen thing. I've always loved flowers and plants but I also enjoy the actual planting, weeding, watching things grow and evolve. I love the action/rhythm of it and when La is down for a nap I'm out gardening and thinking or mucking with the dogs and La is like me - prefers to be outside to inside, so he and the dogs enjoy running around or "helping" most of the day.

The other day though, La somehow got out of the fenced area. I have no idea how still really. The fence isn't pretty but is secure and the front gate is not able to be opened - chained shut as we only use the driveway gate. I'd sat him down next to me, gave him a pear to eat and in the time I stuck the spade in the ground and looked back up to tell him to watch how we plant the flower... like maybe 2-3 seconds, he was gone. If you've gardened you know exactly what I mean, if not it's no more time than scouping a spoonful of yogurt or cereal. I went around the corner to see if he'd gone to see the lambs or mud puddle as I knew he had NOT come past me, which was the only way he could have accessed the driveway. He was NOT out back but out front though. I checked the fence, there's no holes. The only thing I can think is he must have climbed it... my going around the wrong way to look for him thinking he'd gone to the lambs probably gave him just enough time to make it over instead of helping. It's the only thing that makes sense... which he's never even hinted at thinking of attempting before and I wouldn't have thought he could even get to with the hedge stuff being that thick. Either way I've called half a dozen fence contractors and called the council to find out about height regulations as we are getting a new tall, unclimbable fence asap, I have been so freaked out by this I still don't think I'm done shaking.

I'd actually had a whole post typed about how well things were going before that too. We're up another four lambs - two sets of ewe lambs to the Gold Tag girls.

Random bits of La cuteness: "Mum, I want a cuddle!"
"Mumma, I drink tea!" (Water in a coffee mug.) "More tea mumma?" And upon being given a refill of a few centimeters of water, "Oh WOW! Water! Ta!"
"Mum, where is Hopie? I want Hopie! HopieHOPIEHOPIEEEE!!! Awooooooo!!!"
"Mum, Hopie wants a cookie! *pauses to think* FOUR COOKIES!!!"

Random thing to avoid teaching a 2 year old: Fox - it sounds a lot like F--k and an astonishing amount of people have been offended until I bring out the toy fox we got him and weakly laugh. I should have let him keep calling it a dog! I'm sure they don't believe me.

I also *still* need to pick up my cockrel. Jeeze... that's been over a month of waiting now! Or two possibly! We missed the Seymour show, which I was seriously bummed about, on account of everyone feeling under the weather.

And I need to find a few nice vanilla dog-broke sheep to build confidence. My mummas have proven why we've had no losses from foxes - they head butted, stomp and CHASE (yes, seriously...) the poor dogs quite aggressively across the pasture! Miss Verity decided to suprise me though, after having previously told me in no uncertain terms the sheep were weird and rather creepy she spent about fifteen minutes casting around in big circles around the lambs and me... she's not quite sure what she was supposed to do but sure she was supposed to be doing something!

Speaking of Miss Verity, she has been coming along nicely. She's fit in here so neatly and is just generally such a happy dog, I can't remember not having her really. She's been doing a good bit of socializing and coming along slowly and steadily as I'd expect. We make it a point to go to the markets around here as well as walking around town when I pick Nic up from the train station and taking her with me when we are going out. She had her first distraction class (not the same as socialization classes) Sunday after Gembrook Market, so we kept it really brief (being as she'd already had quite a big morning and only about 30 mins downtime to process) just rewarding for eye contact and calmness in the face of the class going on from off the mat. She'll start the socialization classes in a few weeks, with Dr. Calnon, which I'm really looking forward to and my Freestyle class also rather fortuitously ordered Control Unleashed which Jahz's owner Sam had recomended. I'm just started into it and already really liking what I'm reading and I think a lot of it will fit in with Verity supurbly!

I am just so tickled with this dog, she has her issues but she is just such a love! I'm not really sure I can pick specific things to define why I love her as the way I do, it's a lot of little things I think. She has a good bit of the mischiviousness, cheek and sense of humor I like but she is a sweet dog, she gets a lot of joy out of life and does everything with her heart fully in it, very much a velcro child. She is actually pretty eager to please but her intrepretation of things can be quirky... for example, we've been working a lot on Doggy Zen (self-restraint, self-control, asking please etc.) and she knows that despite the plate of food looking temptingly available unless she controls herself well enough to ask politely and wait for permission she will not get it. This was one of the first things we started in on because she saw absolutely no reason not to simply hop on the table when I set the bowl of training treats there. She looked a bit puzzled at my unconventional placement of what was obviously meant for her but... well, humans do lots of things that are incomprehensible, so she was charitably willing to indulge me my quirks and calmly hopped up. She was quite pleased with having figured out what I'd wanted! With the zen work, she's stopped attempting to take it out of the bowl herself and request it, wait for the click and permission but sometimes the excitement and anticipation of the reward after having to contain yourself for AGES (like,15 seconds...) in the face of a bowl of high value goodies is just SO much that with the click she literally explodes upwards, lands on the table and stands there waiting for me to hand her the goodie! She gets down as soon as I point out she's not supposed to be there and is controlling herself by not simply going straight for the food, so it's really just an expression of the high excitement from having succeeded and getting a reward! LOL

So I've been mentally making lists of everything I need to do and everything I want to do in the next few weeks (aside from fences, which are now priority one)

La's birthday party reservations made, food plans made, invitations made and sent, gifts ordered. The plan is a ride on Puffing Billy, with a picnic/bbq at Emerald's park. (Not sure if I want to cater or do catering ourselves this year. Need to decide on cake designs, colours etc though.) I also need to decide on photos for the photo puzzles we're having made (these are so cool!) and get a good photo of him as we're having an artist do a picture this year instead of the photographer last year. (No comment on him, I just really liked this ladies work and wanted one!) Unfortunately I can't get a photo I LIKE for it... darn quick moving child! ;-p

And other than that
* rugs for livingroom, hallway (runner), La's room, our room, guest room, study
* paintings up in all rooms
* catalogue all art and antiques for insurance and put into a binder
* frame for photo of house in 1911
* front verandah wood ripped up, replaced and oiled
* rear verandah oiled
* chairs and wicker table for decks
* floors tiled with actual tiles instead of lino
* bathroom completely redone, refurbished also toilet redone
* laundry area completely redone and restructured
* mudroom finished, painted and tiled
* antique fireplace mantels in and done up nicely
* skirting around house installed
* lavenders around back
* veggie garden (raised beds, sleepers) installed
* compost bins installed, worm farm installed
* clean up all the deadwood around the front garden, mulch
* gardens changed from modern succlents to cottage garden style, change where the cement stuff is to pretty rock edging, so sourcing/buying the rocks and then installing
* fence in front yard, paint front fencing and the gates, get the gates working and safe
* fence off two areas in first paddock - one as round pen to gather livestock/workducks/segregate alpaca, one around the shedding to contain them
* my study to be fixed, ceiling fixed, repainted, built in desk and storage for scrapbooking, door dealt with etc
* Catch up on my dreadfully behind e-mails, including contacting about spinning classes, yoga classes and knitting classes, postal correspondance etc etc etc etc

Had an old friend of mine google me and post me a PM on AB after I'd apparently not remembered to send her the new e-mail after moving. *erp* Jeeze I suck! X_x'

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More lambies

Well after Purple Tag momma had her big boy, Ripped Ear girl had her twins... a little ram lamb and a ewe lamb. Smaller than the little big guy but still quite a good size for twins. Unlike Purple Tag, who is happy to let me play with her lamb, Ripped Ear made a good show of maternal instincts and stomped her feet and lowered her head and shook it at me! Hopefully she mellows with me a bit and saves the attitude for the foxes, as I don't fancy getting charged every time I have to handle her kids!

Ripped Ear with her twins, ram lamb on the left with all white, ewe lamb on the right with spots on her face and legs.

Ram lamb up close after we got him to move away from momma.

On Wednesday at PG, I'd noted La had been really grumpy. I'd figured it was because he'd not slept well on account of eatting some stuff with milk powder in it. (Okay, he ate a dog cookie. I admit it! He was passing them out to the dogs and snurched one for himself!) As it turns out, grumpy was because he had some sort of bug, which he kindly passed on to both Nic and myself. La and I spent Thursday night miserable, La was better by Friday but I still felt ookie so Nic took the day off to watch La while I was plastered to the couch. Nic got a case of the tired-sore-throat-headaches but that's been it, lucky guy!

Today was mostly spent cleaning up the house, doing the laundry (heaps, our laundry machine is fixed!), hanging the laundry and tending to the animals - all of whom have largely been getting very restless over the past few days. (Read: dogs were bouncing off the walls.) Cleaned up the ducks pen and the chooks, was pestered heavily by Blossom for treats. (IOW She ran straight to me and started hopping on my shoes.) I did a heap of pruning in the garden!!! I still have LOTS of pruning to do on the trees (mind you we have a solid acre of trees in the front!) but was proud of how much I got done in one day! :-) Of course we spent a lot of time just watching the lambs, cute little boogers they are... La at one point got upset being away from me, so Nic set him down and he ran across the pasture to me!


Not the best framing job but I thought it was cute with me cuddling La in the foreground with the sheep mum checking out her baby who'd just come running back to her after realizing she'd moved.
I'm picking up some more chickens tomorrow... at least one (my wyandotte rooster) and possibly some silkies if I see any nice ones. While I was feeding my chookies today though, I stuck my hand into their food barrel (which IS sealed with a lid!) and notice two little brown shapes moving about! MICE! Ewww... yuck! I normally have a live-and-let-live policy but these guys can harbor some nasty illnesses so they were quickly whomped on the head with a thick stick and flicked out of the barrel. The chooks made short work of them, which they'll do to any live mouse they catch as well. Ick! Good for them I'm sure but gross all the same!

So: two ewes have lambed, four more to go!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Can I have a collective "Awwww...."

Yesterday, on the fourth anniversary of Nic's mum's passing away, our first lamb arrived. We'd both spent much of the day thinking about her and missing her, she died much too young... just 55 years old. Nic mostly spent time talking about how he wishes he could have one more conversation with her. Having known her less well and having less memories, I spent a lot of the day reflecting on how important our time together is because you never know what the future might hold or how long we might have. Not in the sense of living life to the fullest so much as that we spend so much time living for the future instead of for the now, planning for what we want to do and focusing on raising babies and dogs into the sort of adults they should become and missing out on just enjoying the lovely beings they are right now at this moment. At any rate, this fellow arrived and got me to thinking she was having a bit of a smile from the heavens in having our first lamb ever arrive on this day. The lamb in question is a BIG sturdy ram lamb... good grief, I'm surprised she was able to have such a boofy baby! He is cute as a button, as all lambs are and had some little black freckles around his nose and ears.

He's from the youngest of the sheep here, who is a first time mum and doing beautifully.

As La pointed out, "Sheep BIBI!" LOL (Bibi is his name for breastfeeding.)

He found the sheep fascinating, though the lamb was a little less certain about the whole event. Mum was unfussed with the attention and us borrowing the lamb for inspection. Will blog more later, I have a tantruming child who is going to kill what little remains of my hearing with his screaming.

Friday, August 10, 2007

More La sentence blurbs

Yesterday we started saying "water" and applied it to "water in glass", water in raindrops (pointing to drops falling down), "water in the dam all full", "water in bucket" and "water in puddle".

He pulled me over to the door and asked me to, "put ona Hopie neckwace (collar... makes sense I guess), go OUTTIDE!" complete with emphatic pointing at the door.

Verity has also gotten her La-Name. She is "VEE!!!" I have no idea how he got that one really because he pronounces it like the letter, which is different than how I call her. (Veri, Veri-eri, Verity-erity or if she's being silly "Very-Airy Off With The Faries"!)

We've discovered the concept of "all gone" as well. After having a feed, he'll inform me "all gone", pat the side in question and return it to the bra! PMSL! Cheeky imp! Then, give a kiss and repeat, pointing to the empty one (in case I forgot), "Mum, 'at side gawn. All gawn. Other? Ta!" This has extended to other items he wants that he's finished or at least had enough I'm not going to give him any more but unlike bibi they don't magically fill up with a bit of time again. So we're sitting in the car waiting to pick Nic up from the train. "Mum? Bean?" (That's jellybean btw.) "No bubba, beans all gone." I hand him the empty bag to inspect. He holds it a moment, peers inside, closes it, waits and after a round of peek-a-boo opens it back up to inspect. The most disappointed little voice pipes up, "Ohhh.... 'TILL all gawn!" (Still all gone)

I've got shows again tomorrow and Sunday. I'm not planning to do anything other than have fun. I got a MASSIVE amount of undercoat off Hope the last few nights and she's spazzed out after the alpaca came from across the freaking pasture and stomped her again. This one has really decided me against having them I think! He's cute but not tame and is nasty to dogs. Normally I just lock him up before letting the dogs out but with all the damage the wind has done to the fences (after knocking over mature trees) the back is completely unusable for alpaca or sheep till we get it fixed. After the alpaca attack, at our class the other night she was just all over the place, not helped by my feeling tired and icky from a bad day. So I'm still going as these will be our last shows for a few weeks again but after that we'll probably just sit back and wait for her chest to arrive. I keep looking and fretting myself silly over when it's coming in and will give her some width and push her toes into position. Hard to be patient though, I like it when we're out there and she does well for me and our training comes together too much!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The magic counting elf child...

So the last month or so La has been 'counting'. At first it was "one, two" or "un, deux" which was pretty cute to hear numbers come out in that little squidgey toddler voice. More recently he added "three" and "four" to that list while requesting more jellybeans than the one that was on offer and he used them contextually enough that I wondered if maybe he didn't actually have a grasp on the concepts rather than just parroting the words.

This morning he was sitting in the carseat and chirped, "Mum, one tuck, two tuck!" Quick check and yes, he'd counted as two trucks had went past. He did it again on the drive home. "Mum ONE tuck!" Yup. Just the one. A moment later, he spotted another one and chriped, "More! One tuck!" A little while down the road he spotted two together and chirped, "Mum TWO tucks! One, two! TWO TUCKS!" It's likely he is thinking perhaps 1 is single, 2 is anything more than 1, with 3 or 4 simply meaning "lots!" as 22 months is young but it's interesting to hear him using it fairly contextually correctly!

I also snapped this shot today. I was *trying* to get a photo of him with our lovely rhodenderons. It's one of many but the only one blooming at the moment. Suffice to say he was NOT cooperating, hopping down from the chair as quickly as I could ploink him upon it, so I only managed to get one. I didn't notice at the time that the angle I caught him on makes his face look rather elvin, his ears rather pointy and his hair was blown up into a little pixie peak by the winds!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

A visitor from this morning, for no particular reason that it was rather pretty.

Now a few days ago, Amanda had said in an e-mail that come Cup weekend she expects to wash her dogs on Friday evening and be able to show them Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I was rather astonished as MY dogs would need a bath a day at the very least. They seem to find mud anywhere - twice as quickly if I've bathed, blow-dryed and groomed them!

Most of the time I don't even try to contain them... they have fun, get as muddy as possible, dry out while napping and it all falls off in the mudroom. Good thing too, they'd probably be pinging off walls if I didn't let them run their excess energy and yayas off!

"Hey ma, that's a funny round pen but we'll give it a go!"
The ducks have figured out the easiest way to avoid being rounded up in the evenings is to launch themselves onto the dam. The dogs WILL launch in after them (especially Verity, who does a good impression of a Lab) but they swim much slower than they run and the ducks easily evade them!

Verity, having given up swimming after them for the time being, is now waiting for them to swim closer. The ducks, while not overly bright, are not overly stupid either and don't cooperate to no ones shock but Veri's.

And the rest of the time, ducks not even around, the dam is a favorite spot to hoon around, attempt to knock someone in and get as close to red-self coloured as possible for all three. Sierra is trying to grab Veri's ear which results in a big splash before the game begins again and someone else is the splashee.

Mud, muck and pond-scum. Yes, they smell delightful after!

Opps... drainage hose! Over we go...

...and don't forget the stump!

Verity, mid run, actually one of the nicer ones of her. I do appologize for the quality of the pics. They were truly horrible and most of them I kept to sketch rather than try to process because they were SO blurry, noisy and ick quality wise but the poses were pretty.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Sif took a picture of the sunset on the last day of July and wrote a gorgeous post about the new month and the end of winter hearlding in better days for us all. When I saw it, I hoped she was right and seemed to get a bit of a sign the next morning. We had a tremendous wind storm and lost all our power from about 8pm to 6am, so it was a rather cold and very dark night. The morning revealed that all around the valley there was plenty of damage - one of our neighbors apparently had one of their cows panic and bust through the big wood fence.
Cow was AWOL and fence was in small itty bitty pieces. Our own rear boundary fence was smashed - posts in splinters, barbed wire split and broke, electric stand snapped - after a large dead tree crashed down pulled up from it's roots! Our neighbor locked his cows into the adjoining pastures but we've had four escapes into our paddocks anyhow, including one heifer today whose momma spent the night bawling LOUDLY for her lost "baby". The tree is chopped into firewood and the fence being repaired but in the midst of all that, while driving Nic to the train station we saw a very faint but beautiful double rainbow and a gorgeous king parrot flock scattered across the lawn like red and green jewels.

Wednesday at PG Laurent was VERY excited to see Bryn, asked for him the *whole* way there and pretended to call him on his toy mobile chattering away in toddlerese. He's also attempting to say Bryn's full first name (Byrnjar) I think as I heard twice "Bwyn... yahr" with these wanna-be Frenchish R's. So apparently he's been paying even closer attention than I thought!

We've also added to "one, two" with "fwee, fowh" or "three, four". We muck around on his little wood abacus counting beads and bits of fruit or whatnot but today we're in the post office and I'd just gotten a bag of jellybeans - aka La Treats. I handed him one in response to the request (demand!) for "Bean? BEEEEEAAAAAN???" complete with pointing to demonstrate where it was in case I'd forgotten. I gave him one. He held out his hand for more and I said nope, finish that one first. "Nooooo...." he wailed like a soap opera diva, tossing his head back and finished with, "Fwee!!! FOWH BEANS!!!"

BTW you'll note the beans and bean-slobber are what else - GREEN!!! LOL

Another interesting moment... Nic's mum, who passed away in 14 August 2003, was very crafty and made gorgeous hats and baskets. We have the hats up on display. Laurent reached up to touch one very gently with the tip of a finger while I was carrying him walking by the display and queried, "Gamma?" Nic and I were both quite shocked... Laurent never met her of course and had no reference for who she is or way of knowing that she made the hats.

My little big-man was getting such long hair I decided it was time for a trim and got out the thinning shears. My dog friends will understand and cackle at this... my bubba friends will puzzle why my mentioning using thinning sheers on a child is funny. ;-) He looks so much older to me now... amazing what a difference a bit of hair can make! All of the sudden a lot of his chub is thinning out and he's stretching from toddler to little-boydom. We are firmly in the land of Boy. The day involves running like mad and whomping things with sticks while giving mighty war cries. We are fascinated with "things that roar", "things that go WHOMP", "things that go VROOM!" We like soccer and cricket even though mum has no idea how you really play those things. We are trying ever-so-hard to convince the sheep of the virtues of playing fetch with a tennis ball.

The sheep are steadfastly uninterested.
Last pic I snapped before the trim... little whispy haired bubba. (Sif, recognize the hat? He actually WEARS it when it's cold enough! It's "GEEN! GEEN HAT!") It's SO hard to get pictures of him lately. Literally every pic I take of him turns out crappy, blurry, poorly framed, out of focus or he's just plain not even in the shot as he's zipped off elsewhere between the time my camera focused and the clicking of the pic. It's driving me NUTS... I've snapped literally about 500 photos (thank gods for digital) the past week and these are the only decent ones. The only two that are actually clear are the first - where he's STRAPPED to the carseat and the last where he's STUCK in a tree, wedged in the V of a trunk before he could move. So much for a pic for World Breastfeeding Week! *sigh*

As much as this week has been good on an emotional level and relationships level, it's been a rough one on the poor pocketbook. A ton and a half of firewood - $480. Verity's behaviourist appointment, $350. Washing machine is broke and flooded the laundry... first fix didn't do the job, waiting for the second, really hoping the poor washer hasn't carked it. Car needs repairs. Extra lawyer fee for paperwork $1900. Fence. Gas, phone, electricity, food. Got the paycheck Wednesday, won't get the next for a fortnight and ye olde account is much slimmer than I'd like atm. Meanwhile I've had to forgo an auction I wanted to go to very dearly as the laundry machine ate the money I'd saved, postphone getting the two chooks (ditto) and Verity's health screen (which is precautionary only, for my vet to have a baseline for her bloods) and her socialization classes are $60 each, so $240/month. I understand it's specialized but eep!

Still... very cool note... I found out I've actually got shows this month I didn't know I entered! (That sounds awful I know!) One the 11th and one the 12th, the Bendigo for the Wyandotte thingie the next weekend. We're building a new chicken coop to go in the pens as well which is neat, we're using all recycled materials from old pallets! LOL My first real building adventure! LOL