Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday - Shark Attack

Teddy likes to stick his nose out the cat door and keep tabs on what's happening outside. For fun, I thought I'd see what he'd do when I put his favorite ball on the outside of said cat door. The result?

Shark Attack!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nature's Calendar

I don't need to look at the calendar to know that spring is right around the corner. Mother Nature tells me loud and clear.

The bees break from their winter cluster and start flying and foraging. On a mild, sunny day I'm able to open the hive for the first time since last autumn. The bees look healthy and strong, all 80,000 of them! (Approximately, I haven't actually counted.)

The chickens bathe in the sunshine. Chickens take baths too, but their medium is dust instead of water. The dust gets worked up under their feathers and helps to suffocate any mites that may wish to live there. Ironically, these dust baths also help to knock off other dirty substances (mud, poop, etc.) and the girls come away from their spa visit looking fluffy and gorgeous! Just in time for a trip to the nesting box to start laying lovely fresh eggs!

The poodles ring the bells we have on our front and back doors asking to be let outside. As spring draws near, their desire to sun bathe and enjoy the sights and sounds of the forest is too strong an urge to ignore. A poodle's heart is soothed by the sun and the smells!

If they're good, they may get a meaty bone thrown in for good measure!

But just as Mother Nature tells me spring is near, so too does she tell me that the winter hunger that affects our wild friends is still prevalent. A few days back I started off my morning by chasing a coyote, who was chasing my chicken, out of my yard. The coyote took off like a flash when it saw me racing after it in my bath robe and slippers and the hen returned to her friends unharmed, but it is a reminder that everyone has needs to meet and we share this environment. Hopefully the coyote can find some other source of food until the plethora of spring is here. My hens are off limits! The poodles are helping deter his return by peeing on the chicken yard fence. We all have our parts to play!

Are you seeing signs of spring yet?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Nightly Chicken Check

Chickens are good at putting themselves to bed, but occasionally mine like to sleep in trees so it is good practice to check that everyone made it safely into the coop come nightfall. I often bring a poodle accomplice along.

We stop to say hello to the four goldfish that live in a half wine barrel.

We wander over to the chicken yard, check for eggs. No goods tonight, but we're coming our of the winter egg dearth so I am getting more eggs now that spring is just around the corner. There will probably be a few waiting for me tomorrow.

Sometimes we say hello to the hens. They always say hello back with little cackles and peeps.

If it's raining, we'll make a beeline back for the warm, dry house. If it's dry, we'll stop to explore the forest along the way and look out for our friendly neighborhood bard owl. It was raining tonight, so we hurried back indoors. I bet the owl is taking shelter too.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Family Day

Did you know that South Africa, some provinces in Canada, Arizona and Nevada and a few other places across the globe celebrate Family Day? I like this idea and recently I've been thinking about the meaning of family. My family is never far from my mind but I'm specifically talking about the definition of what family means to me. If you had asked me 20+ years ago what my family would look like when I "grew up" (wait, did that really happen?), I would not have described the family I have today. I may have pictured myself married to some local guy and I probably would had said that I had kids. After all, I did come from a large family of collectively 7 children in total so having children seemed an acceptable fate. If pressed, I may have had a pet cat too. Instead, I uprooted myself and moved far away to follow my heart. I'm about to celebrate 9 years of marriage and have roots in a new home now. Additionally, I'm the proud guardian to Teddy and D'Art. The reality of what is today, was not on my radar when I was a teenager. The reason I am telling you this though, and why this post is much more personal than I normally write, is that I wouldn't change it for the world. I love my family. My family is perfect for me. I hate the age-old question "when are you going to start a family?" as if my current bonds don't count as family. Not only do they count, they mean the world to me. Family Day may not be a thing where we live, but I think it's always good to stand back and appreciate what we have. I, for one, am blessed with a wonderful family. 

I promise to get back to our regular mumbo jumbo (i.e. less sappy) next week. I think we're due for some more photos of the poodles hanging out in the forest! Meanwhile, enjoy your week with your families!

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's All About that Crate

If you've read this post before, you'll know I've tried all sorts of things to help Teddy deal with his car anxiety. In the past, some of them have even worked. For a while, just redirecting his attention was enough to change his behavior, but back in October things started to worsen. I'm not exactly sure why, but suddenly our previous coping techniques were no longer cutting it. I knew I had to make a drastic change when he started getting so worked up that he vomited. Sometimes in the car, sometimes out of the car. Either way, this guy got so anxious and upset that his tummy failed him. I evaluated my options and decided that I needed to try crating him in the car. Although we own a large hard-sided plastic crate, it is too large to actually fit in my Subaru, so I decided to buy a very cheap (Walmart) soft-sided crate that would fit. That way if it didn't work out, I hadn't wasted much money. 

Patience isn't always my strong point, but I really wanted to succeed at this so I started crate training him for the sole purpose of riding in the car. For the first two days we got in the car, he got in his crate and was praised and treated. The week thereafter he got in his crate in the car and I turned the car on. Once that seemed manageable I started to drive back and forth in my driveway. Once that seemed manageable we took a short trip to our mailbox (3/4 mile from our house). Basically, baby steps. It took weeks to get him crate trained for the car, but all in all this new tactic was proving successful. He still whined now and then, but he wasn't getting so worked up that I worried for his safety or that of the car's upholstery. There was, however, a flaw with this crate (two actually). Firstly, being soft sided, it only took him one frustrated moment to rip the door completely open. Two, it was a bit too small - not enough head height for long term use. So, I upgraded his crate to a wire one; it's larger and can't be torn. (If you're in the market, the Amazon crates are WAY cheaper than the pet store and just as good in my opinion.) 

I'll never go back. 

No, I no longer have any space in the back of the car. Yes, I have to pile groceries up around the passenger seats. No, I can't see out of the back window very well. Yes, I use my mirrors to make up for that. It's worth it folks - night and day worth-it!

He still sometimes whines a little on bumpy or windy roads but it lasts mere seconds and then he is quiet again. He doesn't get overstimulated, anxious or sick. He likes his crate so much that when I bring it into the house, he voluntarily goes in it. It's become another one of Teddy's havens and as a result is a HUGE burden and concern off my shoulders. Driving before, was stressful. Now it isn't! I can see taking road trips with both the poodles. D'Art has more space in the back seat to stretch out and Teddy is relaxed. Simple pleasures! As Meghan Trainor may sing in a parallel universe - "It's all about that crate, 'bout that crate, no car stress!"

Makes us all want to jump for joy!