posts tagged with 'dogs'

I'm not dead

When I stop writing in the blog it's sometimes hard to get going again. Here's what happened. With the election outcome in doubt, I couldn't focus on anything, and certainly not writing. Any time I sat down at the computer I was drawn inexorably toward checking the news, and then reading to the same contentless words over and over again. You know, there wasn't actually that much happening between when I voted on Tuesday and we heard the results the following Saturday... but people were happy to pretend there might be, and I was primed to listen to them!

Then almost immediately after we got the happy news about Biden's victory, we had a personal farm tragedy: the dogs got out in the yard unsupervised with the chickens and attacked them. They killed one right away, and wounded another very seriously. She lingered for almost two days in our little chicken hospital box, but there was nothing we could really do for her besides making her as comfortable as possible, and she died Monday afternoon. Goodbye, Brownie and Ramona: we all miss you. There were many tears shed. Then after that the rest of the week was pretty normal, but the psychological fatigue and inertia kept me from getting back into writing. What would I say?

So that's what happened. I plan on going back and adding photos for the past two Sundays I missed, and as Thanksgiving gets closer I'm sure there will be more things I want to write about. So I guess you haven't heard the last of me yet.

olfactory joys of dog ownership

Leah called me this morning on the way home from walking the dogs to ask me to be ready to help them get right into the bath when she got home. They had rolled in something, and they smelled terrible. I agreed of course, but thought at the same that it probably wasn't that bad... she's complained of them being bad-smelling before and I had hardly noticed anything. But when I first got a whiff, on the front porch, I had to acknowledge that she hadn't been exaggerating. The smell was strong enough that it infected the downstairs even in the brief time each dog passed through on the way upstairs to the bathroom, where Leah washed them with puppy shampoo and doused them in baby powder. It helped some. Leah describes their aroma now as "decaying baby"—a striking metaphor for a striking odor. She was wondering if she should bathe them again before we went to sleep. Don't bother, I said, we're already getting used to it.

this is not a problem I expected to have

So the dogs aren't yet doing the best job of guarding the farm here. They bother the chickens enough that we don't let them out together, and they aren't particularly observant about rabbits or squirrels in the garden (though the certainly notice them when they're out on walks!). That's fine; they're young yet. But over the last few days I've noticed something even more troubling. Far from protecting the garden, the dogs are now joining the wild animals in its despoliation! Specifically, they've started eating tomatoes off of the plants.

So far they've mostly take roma tomatoes, and maybe one or two cherries, so it's not the end of the world. We have lots of both. But it's the principle of the thing! And if they start in on the slicing tomatoes—the first two of which have only just about ripened—I don't know if I'll be able to endure it. This has indeed been a tough year with the animals in the garden...

hard labor

The boys were prostrated by a day at the pond; I survived that fine, but barely made it through a half-hour of vacuuming this afternoon! While the days have been hot lately it's been getting cool enough at night that we haven't had any problems keeping the house cool, at least until 3:00 or 4:00 every afternoon. But there's still latent heat in the air or something, because if we so much as turn on a burner the kitchen becomes an unendurable sauna. And it turns out the vacuum cleaner puts out just as much heat! If I could have avoided running it I would have, but there are these dogs. It was getting so we couldn't see the rug anymore with all the bits of chewed-up pencils and plastic bags they'd strewn everywhere, to say nothing of the dirt they track in from their delightful romps in many local mud-holes. So I cleaned up a bit: it took, as I said, about half an hour. Then because of the heat I had to rest of the couch in front of the fan for 45 minutes. Some people get lots of things done in a day. I'm not sure how they manage it! Maybe they have air-conditioning.

celebrating midsummer

Since Harvey's birthday took up the solstice proper, we've had to celebrate midsummer across some other days too. Thursday was beautifully summery. We took a family woods outing.

Harvey and Zion eating lunch by a stream

real summer lunch

With a goal of finding a place with water, not too many people, and a relaxed policy on off-leash dogs, we header to the Hapgood Wright Town Forest in Concord (or Fairlyland Pond forest, as we call it!). It was a good choice—because it meets all those criteria and because it was beautifully cool and shady on a hot day.

Harvey walking up a woods path, Elijah and the dogs a bit ahead

deep cool woods

Well, most of it was cool and shady. We also explored a section that had been cleared or burned, and was a little meadow and a lot of quickly recovering forest. Concord folks had adorned the trails there with Thoreau quotes about new-grown woods on pieces of stone stuck into the ground, and a charming granite monument to Dr Seuss's The Lorax.

Lijah sitting on a Lorax monument, the dogs looking up at him

remembering the Lorax

Fairyland Pond itself is easily accessible from the main trailhead, but we took the long way around so we would get to it and lunch time, and properly hot and tired. Many of us were happy to take to the water.

Harvey and Zion out in the pond with Blue, Scout watching from the shore

pond days

Not Scout, though! You'll notice there that he isn't sure about water yet, which lets Blue tease him unmercifully by running back and forth along the shore just deep enough to be out of reach. For his part, Blue went all the way underwater for the first time—and then the second, third, and a great many more. He was the most enthusiastic about the pond and stream by a little bit; Zion probably came in second.

Zion splashing more than waist deep in the pond

splash!

It was wonderfully summery. And then in the evening we topped off the day with a socially distant ice cream social with friends. For them it was a celebration of the last day of school; that doesn't apply to us, but summer by itself is plenty to celebrate!

Elijah licking a chocolate ice cream cone

yum.

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natural enemies?

This morning a fox got into the yard and attacked the hens. It wasn't even that early—just around breakfast time. I heard the commotion and ran outside; before I even yelled the fox saw me and took off, dropping the hen he was trying to carry away (Springdot the Speckled Sussex). My first instinct was to call for the dogs, who were upstairs with Leah settling in for a morning of office work. They didn't respond instantly, which is probably just as well: unlike Rascal in his prime, Scout and Blue aren't trained to chase away foxes and ignore chickens. The hens were already panicking, and adding two excitable puppies to the scene would probably have made things worse rather than better. Oh well, we're working on it. And they did get come out a little later, once all the hens were safely locked up, to check out the scene of the crime and get their first scent of fox. Next time, they'll be ready!

dog day

Rascal died almost a year and a half ago. Since then many members of our household have wanted a new dog with varying degrees of intensity, but in the last month Leah got on board with the idea, which means that it moved forward as quickly as possible. Except we couldn't manage to get one dog, so yesterday we got two.

Blue and Scout biting on one stick

introducing Blue and Scout

We wanted a mixed-breed puppy, but so did lots of other people: each one that became available for adoption got hundreds of interested applicants. And we didn't have what it took to bring any of them home. So when she saw a pair of litter-mates that wanted to be adopted together, Leah thought that maybe we'd be the only ones crazy enough for that... and so it was.

the puppies sitting by Leah

learning "sit"

They're very cute, and a little older and significantly more active than Rascal was when we got him. We're hard at work training them; we have high hopes. First tasks are to get them used to the chickens, and to teach them to sleep somewhere other than on our heads (as cozy as it is cuddling with puppies, I would have appreciated a little more sleep last night). Also maybe to keep off the couch. But not right away.

everybody on the couch with the sleepy puppies

cuddles

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