Sunday, May 30, 2010

The little black dog is on a ROLL...

Miss Hope is continuing her streak of fun and games. :)

On Saturday she had a clinic so we could brush up before attempting PT next weekend and she did pretty good even if her handler is still quite confused.

Then today at training she was her usual lovely little self during obedience but the real "yay!" is flyball. Oh. My. Gosh.... SHE LOVES IT!!! And she's GOOD at it. Like really, really freakishly good. She has natural timing, she drives straight in and out, has no wasted motion. She's fabulous. To the point our instructor told me we must join the team and she reckons Hope should be not only competing in a very short while but will be ready to compete in the NATIONALS. If you heard a thunk, that would be the sound of my jaw dropping and hitting the floor.

Holey smokes, I knew the girl would be good but dang - ready for competitions and competing at the nationals in only a few months from having only ever been on the equipment 3 times now is just mind boggling!

Here's a very brief clip of madam having a warm-up:

Shortly after this we ran her with another dog to see how she'd go with having to enter and exit before and after another dog and then in a team of 4 dogs. She was running 3rd dog and was driving to get the ball over the hurdles JUST as the 2nd dog was crossing back so their shoulders were brushing by each other... without even noticing they were there or beign fussed by her teammates. Then with other dogs running in the lane next to ours and not being fussed. Everyone was totally gushing over how awesome she is and even though I knew she'd love it I'm still a bit bowled over they think she is SOOOOOO good she'll compete inside of a month and be at the nationals this year. Just blown away by her!

Friday, May 28, 2010

The post I didn't want to make...

Foxes have been a huge problem in our area. It's a combination of factors I suppose - our area is 'fox friendly' in that there are a number of small properties, mostly lifestylers who don't go out of their way to make an area unappealing to a fox. There is plentiful wild game, water sources, pockets of bush for dens, virtually no one trying to do them in as is more common on big farming properties and a number of people who still leave dog and cat food out or toss food into open compost piles. The only real danger they face here is cars and they learn to avoid those easily enough. In short, if you're a fox, this is eden.

If you're a chicken, a duck or a goose or a person who loves them however this is not such a good area. We've battled the foxes since we moved in, putting up pens and aviaries, more fox proofing, better fox proofing, different fox proofing etc. We've buried rubble and wire everywhere around perimeters. We're reinforced pens, we've used sturdy material, put aviaries in pens to lock the birds in at night, never let the birds out unless it's bright daylight and put them away well before dusk even hints at arriving. We've limited the areas the birds can free range in to right around the house and garden. We've banned the waterfowl from going anywhere near the dam or even into the paddocks or small-yard. We've even got a Maremma for their protection although that turned out to be a remarkable failure.

We've had them break through wire fencing, dig under buried bricks, climb over two meter tall fencing, chew 2x4 wood pallets set underneath an aviary to grab the birds out. We've had them bait the birds to pecking at them and grab any bit protruding from the fence before trying to tug the birds through the wire. It didn't work - a rooster won't fit through a 3" square but it did kill him. We've had foxes break into an aviary on the porch by pulling the door until screws on the bolt-latch snapped at the nut. We've had them pull and pry away colourbond from the steel frames of the shed. We've had them take them during the day while the dogs were wandering loose around the place. I lost my first goose 10 minutes after it arrived and got onto the dam when I went to the sheep shed. We've had them take a mature Embden gander while we were a few hundred meters away working on the chook pens. We've lost several adult geese who were spooked by a neighbors 4 Wheeler. I've opened the door to find foxes on my doormat several times, utterly unafraid of my presence. Sometimes I have seen them working singly, sometimes in pairs or trios. Regardless the results are devastating.

Each time up till now we've simply tried to build better, safer, stronger, bigger, more reinforced homes for our birds. We've spent thousands doing so. The results always the same, eventually the foxes work out how to defeat it. We've tried dealing with the foxes 'the nasty way'. We've got a Maremma, Shadow, a breed of dogs who adopt the birds as their 'pack' and protect them. We'd been careful to quiz the owner that he was old enough to start working and had been bonded to animals before. We didn't want a puppy but adopted an older rescue because we wanted one who would be old enough to protect them straight away. He's a lovely boy but I think the guy telling us he was raised with ducks and lambs was nuts because there's no way they were around for long if so. We were persisting with him though, I'd decided to reduce how many birds I had until he was trustworthy with being loose with them full time, adapt how we penned them near him etc. It was not ideal but if it meant investing a bit of time until he matured we were willing to do so.

Then on the 23 I decided to let them out in the garden with us while we were moving mulch. Bright daylight, Nic, myself, La running around like a loonie, Lily babbling, Hope and Si with us. The only ones left were one Silkie, one Wyandotte hen, two Aylesbury girls and my black Muz girl. The rest just disappeared with nothing but a few tufts of the roosters feathers left. Most of my chookies are pets with names, many were born here and will (would...) hop up for cuddles and eat from your hands, sit on your lap, get kisses from La, ride in the pram calmly along with the kids etc. La adores them. Lily adores them. One of my favorite stories is how our geese stood outside the window where I was birthing Lily and honked encouragement to me. The next day we were out in the sunshine and she got to meet them and help feed them. It's just too much to keep loosing our lovelies. I've kept at it this long because I couldn't imagine not having our lovelies greet me and beg at the door for treats and helping me garden. I still can't and keep thinking, maybe I could just keep Lilah, the silkie... and maybe just the rmaining dottie girl... how can I let go of my lovely 'dotties? But at this point I'm not willing to risk anyone anymore. It's not fair to them.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

So I've been thinking... (puppy/sketchy stuff)

... and yes, I do know the old adage about how dangerous THAT can be!

At any rate, I have been pondering a lot lately about getting another puppy/dog. I feel like it's the next step in moving past the depression and constant missing of Verity that has consumed the months since loosing her.

I have on and off been thinking of importing when I do so as (in a weird way) it seems it would be easier given that the US is simply more populous and hence has more available whereas because the breed is new and small here, with less people overall and less litters, finding one with lines I like AND the combination of sound conformation/health/temperament/drive/working ethics AND bred by someone who is similar in terms of ethics/puppy raising thoughts AND whom is going to have one in the nearish future AND whom having produced this very spunky, versatile pup is then willing to part with it. (Yeah I know, I don't want much hey!) Don't get me wrong, there are Aussie breeders here who fit the first two sets but the later two are more tricky! (Not a bad thing either, just not good for me! LOL)

The bug landed in my brain awhile ago, intensified when I saw a lovely male (the stunning Zoom) and then more recently noticing a breeding that is being done in the US at the moment which tugged my heart. The dam of the litter is Sierra's half-sister through their mum Handy. Which hopefully would mean that some of the wonderful qualities Si has would be there. It's a repeat breeding of a litter from a few years back so there's that to compare to and give an idea how they matured. The litter would also be loosely related to Verity via common or commonly-related ancestors of her sire for both the sire and dam of the litter a few generations back. Admittedly it's rather loose but is a huge heart-tug still. Veri was my golden girl, I would love to have a little piece of her heart, humor, beautiful spirit and joyousness in some small way. It would also have a tie in to a dog and bloodlines here, Gideon being behind the sire, meaning that any future breeding wouldn't be totally violent out crosses but still be able to maintain decent COI/COR's.

The minor problem being that importing is not inexpensive. There are more sensible things to buy. Even if I saved the money I should probably put it toward fixing bits of the house up or putting it into a savings or something. Security for the future and all that. We're a young family, we're on a single income, we've got house payments and school fees. I should be content with what I've got and not want so much. But still... my mind wanders to it, chides me not to be negative without even exploring options. Obviously THIS litter is out but perhaps another related to it might present. Which is probably a good indication I need to be hauled to the loony bin and given a coat that lets me hug myself but I digress.

In the thought of, "Where the heck am I going to get that kind of money?" it occurred to me I might sell sketches. I've never done so for a couple reasons:
* first I'm not a professional, I have absolutely NO training and my stuff isn't professional level. I'd love to attend courses and learn professionally eventually but for the moment, while it's not bad is IS amature so I didn't think there would be a huge market
* my preferred (self-taught) mediums are pencil and watercolour, whereas the portrait market seems to tend toward oil/acrylic paintings
* I didn't think the market that would exist for amature level works would pay more than $25-30 a piece, which wouldn't be worth it for the hours put in. (By comparison, some of the pros I admire charge $400-800 per commission)
* because we view our pets through our relationship with them and I wouldn't know my subjects it's entirely possible I'll spend the time making a portrait from a photo the person just isn't happy with or feels wasn't worth the money because it doesn't capture the essence of what THEY see in their pet
* I'd be ultra perfectionist stress head
* I've been a bit leery that doing it to order would suck the joy out of it

Buuuuuttt.... it wouldn't require I be outside the house or involve high set-up fees and could work around my schedule. All necessary to me as I'm not willing to compromise staying home with my children while they're small. (I'm greedy about my time with my small people, I won't give it up if I can help it!) Annddd... I've seen a couple of people around on various pet forums, facebook and such who are around the same level I am and still charging a decent amount.

I'm not decided. Mainly because I'm not sure about the market for it and if it'd be more hastle than it's worth for what it'd end up being. Just something to ponder for awhile I think...

Just a 'normal' day...

Last night I let the sheep up into the middle yard to munch the grass down a bit because it's been too wet to mow. Now the middle yard is the same yard where our veggie patch is, so I very cleverly ran a temporary fence as a barrier between it and where I wanted the sheep to be. With a nice big area of untouched, long, lush grass surely they'd be too full to worry overly much about what was behind the barrier right?

Needless to say this morning I was greeted by Cadbury and his son Verona, Boo, Star ("Hi mum, we've left some fertilizer behind for you!") and her daughter Astra contentedly and unrepentantly munching away on the capsicum plants. "Shoo you lot! Get out, look what you've done to my poor beds! Do you know how much work that is?!?" Cadbury lifted his head, still munching. Star sniffled the air a bit, trying to work out if I had a bucket of goodies on me. "MINT SAUCE!" I glowered at them, the effect totally spoiled by their looking utterly concerned. "Mah?"enquired Star. "Fine... fine... where's the BUCKET!" Five sets of pointy ears swiveled attentively in my direction and trotted back to the paddock.

I then came in to make myself tea and hear Hope slurping. Odd, she's not drinking from their bowl. I ponder this a bit... I can see the bowl from the stove and there's definitely no black dog near it. Where has she found water? Has La secreted a cup away somewhere? (Please oh please let it only be water and not one of his interesting "I'm a chef!" concoctions!) Has he poured a puddle to be the 'dam' for his toy farm animals? I look around and spot her... at the FISH TANK. Standing up and helping herself very daintily. "Um. EXCUSE ME. That water is for the FISH! Go drink out of your own bowl!" She hops down and wanders away looking at me like, "What?!? The cat does it all the time mum!"

The scarey thing? It's only 10am. The crazy hasn't even begun in full swing...

Monday, May 24, 2010


♪♫♪It's been a hard day's night, and I've been working like a dog♫ It's been a hard day's night, I should be sleeping like a log♫ But when I get home to you I find the things that you do ♫ Will make me feel alright♪♫♪

I love this pic of these two plotzed out after a long day of romping around with La, Si and Shaddy. LOVE IT. Hopie has been a busy bee the past few weeks...

First she got her HIC (herding instinct certificate) which we'd fully known she'd get as she was ready for years ago had she less of a slack mother! But it does mean we can enter the higher stuff, so she's now entered in the upcoming trial the OES Club is hosting and will hopefully get her PT title before too long which is quite exciting!

Then as the waiting list to get back into foundation Agility is taking it's time to come around to us we decided to give her a go on Flyball and she's proven a natural talent at Flyball and after just 3 goes our club is quite excited and fingers crossed she'll be on the team and competing!

In obedience,
she's been making swift progress. She is a quieter worker than Si (who is little miss exuberance) but joyful and steady, very responsive and quick to gain concepts. Our club runs various levels of beginners obedience at 10 and the more advanced stuff at 11, with flyball and agility going on during both. I'd been running Hope at 10 o'clock but just modifying the exercises to levels of criteria that suit her or using higher distance, duration, distractions etc. If I put her in 'pink' level at 11am, it'd mean running two dogs (Si and Hope) at once and between three to four different classes! (pink, yellow, agility, flyball)

Hope's instructor decided we can't hide where we are anymore (dagnamit!) and NEED to level up though. I am very proud of my little girl, given her mummy has only really been teaching her for a few weeks here and there. She is awful cleber!!!

The downside to that bit of news is that just after it was mentioned we needed to level up, while we were sitting and chatting about flyball and how we should start a freestyle class there and the topic of instructors came up again... well since I'll have the 10am slot open, maybe I should be instructing! My "I'm going to have a baby" excuse, which turned into the "but I've got a new baby" excuse is a bit tired given the baby in question is nearly 14 months old. Doh!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

So once again despite good intentions I have been a lazy blogger. Once again life has been busy. Most of it has been pretty mundane but just the sort of stuff that catches you up in itself.

One of the biggest events contributing to this is that some months ago we'd been refered on as some of Laurent's behaviour is frequently very over the top. It was determined that he has a sensory integration disorder. Pretty overwhelming stuff although it's been very positive as we've gotten him onto an OT who has come up with scads of therapies which give him longer periods of being able to calmly focus himself and keep his nervous system from feeling quite so out of control. The other good thing is that unlike many kids with this disorder, he has a very healthy self esteem and is very outgoing which they have attributed to the way we've parented him. After having been hammered by so many people about how he'd behave if we just disciplined him a little more (harsher/differently) even though we knew we firmly disagreed, it's been a refreshing thing to hear! There's more to go into on this but I'll do it later.

Our little guest Charlie Brown has now returned to his mum some weeks back at the same herding day where Hopie got her HIC certificate! (Yay Hope!) Unfortunately La is not much amused with this turn of events and a few weeks on I am still being told he feels very sad, misses him and is worried something will happen like what happened to Cami and because he's not there Charlie will pass away too. We hadn't realized until now that he'd made an association with our having left her at the vets and his absence being the key factor in her not making it.

We also have a new addition as he'd won his bid to have a guinea pig after some months of wanting on. Inky, as he's been dubbed, is the apple of La's eye.

Inky is a pretty awesome guinea pig I have to admit, he is the most relaxed little guy you'd imagine and submits to kisses (even on the lips), cuddles, snuggling inside La's jacket, having songs sung to him and all manner of little boy secrets being whispered to him. Chiefly - because 4 year olds can't whisper half as well as they think they can - those secrets involve adventures they will have finding good things to eat and how wonderful he is.
Although this has spawned it's own issues - "Mum, you know how Inky is MY pet? Well I think I should have TWO pets. I think I should have a puppy like Charlie Brown. And THREE pets. Coz I want a pony. A pony would be fun to feed apples to." He's a subtle one, my child!

The buns are doing good - Cinnamon has discovered she loves banana in a random surprise drive-by fruit-napping where I suddenly found myself with Cinna on my chest, nabbing my banana and making a mad dash for cover! Romeo is his usual adorably grumpy self...

The bunnah, he disapproves! This is Romeo's best disapproving bunny face! Pretty good hey!

Last Sunday we went to Hastings classes/demos at the Hastings RSPCA Million Paws Walk day. Si had it too easy and impressed everyone with her responsiveness. She really is a diamond of a dog! Hopie meanwhile had her second go on Flyball and she is DEFINITELY going to be a fly-doggie! She was blasting down the lane to get the ball and back again, even impressing me for her second try! The instructor said she had perfect timing going over the jumps too. :) I haven't been feeling great lately - depression is taking back over from Verity and Meniere's is flaring up making me woozy at times. Not fun stuff. When we got home we did some fencing and I snapped pictures of the dogs ruckusing around...

Shaddy in the garden bed I'm trying to de-weed and turn over... "Whadya mean I'm a LGD and not a Scarecrow?!?" He is such a cute boy but so naughty as a LGD unfortunately.

"I said it's MY TENNIS BALL!!!"

"Hey mum, look what I found down there! It's my Kong!" (This is actually a fairly high jump... below the two wood boards it drops off deep enough that she'd be hidden if she were standing on it.)