Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Obedience, additions and unexpected turns

Lady and I went to our first dog obedience training class last Saturday. Mitch, the instructor, informed the five owners that the name of the community education class was really people obedience, but he felt that not many people would sign up for that! Mitch worked with each dog to get a feel for its personality and to listen to the owner concerns. For the most part, Lady is well behaved and I want to learn how to get her to obey commands 100% of the time. As an owner I don’t have the challenges that others do and I think its safe to say that none of us in the 9 a.m. class have anywhere near the problems that began to assemble themselves in fits, starts, shouts, whines and barks for the 10 a.m. class. Yikes. One dog was simultaneously being shouted at, yanked and sat on by four adults! I’d be aggressive too.

We added another house cat to our family. Tinker belonged to our neighbors to the east. They are selling their home and mentioned the cat to Donna. Tinker is an orange and white 18-month-old neutered male. He was delivered to us on Sunday, April 30, and spent three days hiding out under the upstairs floorboards. I moved food and water up there and on Thursday he finally showed his furry face. He and Tiger have become fast friends; they chase each other around, roll on the catnip toys and sleep curled in our unmade bed.

While Ian spent last week in Houston working 12-14 hour days, my son Richard spent two days in the farm visiting and helping me with chores. We got the John Deere riding lawn mower out of the garage (it came with the farm) and Donna helped fire it up. I’d never used a riding lawn mower and it is a lot of fun. At one point Richard said, “A good mother would let her son ride the mower.” LOL

Chuck the farrier was here Tuesday morning and trimmed both Whisper and Nutmeg’s hooves. Chuck’s partial to Quarter horses and was very complimentary about Nutmeg’s looks.

Richard and I met my mother in Minneapolis for brunch on Wednesday and then I dropped him off at home. While Ian was in Houston I made good use of the time on my own and set up a new filing system and went through stacks of paper and either filed or tossed. I like to be organized, but it is something that can get away from me if I’m not vigilant. My mother will laugh when she reads this.

We have only two of the original seven puppies left; one female, one male, their tails are not docked and they look more black Lab rather than Rottweiler like their sire. They are seven weeks old. The ad is still running, but if we don’t get buyers for these two it wouldn’t be terrible. That said, I do think these two will go within a week and we’ll be back to just the lovely Lady.

Speaking of the ad, the local newspaper really goofed up! The price for the puppies is $100 cash, but the ad reads $10! Of course, the phone rang off the hook. I finally decided to screen calls and put an outgoing message explaining about the printing mistake.

If we still have these two puppies next week they’ll go in for their next set of shots. Tiger and Tinker are due for shots too. That should be a fun day at the small animal vet.

Our equine vet was out yesterday. I had her come to geld Whisper, one of two horses we bought on the 22nd at an auction. He’s reportedly two years old and is a non-papered Arabian. Jeske administered the anesthesia, which had him quite drowsy but standing on all fours, then learned only one of his testicles has dropped. This means no castration can be done until the other one drops and, because he is fertile he cannot be put out with the mares. Whisper has been in a separate area since he arrived because Trouble is quite aggressive toward other male horses and would be more so since Whisper is still a stallion (albeit one that has been underfed and has not bred). Basically, we’ll need to wait for the other one to drop before we can castrate him, so his living apart will continue and I’ll have to monitor the situation. That can be tricky! LOL Since Jeske was already here I had him vaccinated. It’s horrid to castrate during the summer fly season, so we’ll wait until the fall before gelding Whisper. In the meantime we’ll work with him, nourish him and keep him as gentle as possible. Stallions can be a handful. We went through some of this bad behavior with Cairo.

Speaking of Cairo, he’s doing quite well at training. I expect he’ll be back home before Memorial Day weekend. He has learned to reduce his biting a lot and is now a much better behaved character. Just think, this time next year we will have three horses to begin under the saddle. There will be a lot of riding next year.

Saturday morning our eight-year-old Quarter horse mare Nutmeg decided that since her stall door had not been properly latched she would trot down the road and visit Donna’s horses Beau and Bentley. Ian and I walked down the road to get Nutmeg and I rode her home bareback. We had saddled her the day after we bought her (the same day as Whisper) but she wasn’t too interested in standing still enough to let someone aboard Nutmeg is a lovely ride and I’m looking forward to the next opportunity. We’re getting our April showers a bit late so it’s been cool and somewhat soggy.

The twin fillies and their mother Bonnie (born April 19) are still in our barn with daily turnouts in their own paddock. They are doing well, but have decidedly crooked legs. Both Donna and I are hoping they straighten out. Jeske the vet had a quick look at them yesterday and suggested the legs be x-rayed to determine where the problems are and if the legs could straighten with time.

Last weekend, I went to a two-day travel writer’s seminar and think I could parlay some of the farm and travel adventures into published ink. I’ve ordered some books to get more detailed info on how to submit query letters and then plan to give it a go. I’ll keep you posted.

On Tuesday, Donna and I built a chicken coop area in the barn. Yesterday we transferred all the 99 chicks from her garage to their new home. We have Buff Orpingtons and Black Sex-links. Both are good for eggs and meat, so we will winter and some will become freezer food. This morning Donna came with a box that had one very lonely chick inside. He had missed being scooped up and was very glad to see his siblings.

The four adult rescue chickens (a.k.a. The Honeymooners) are doing quite well. They have their own coop and are getting quite comfy with being out and about on the farm. Neither the puppies nor Lady bother them. The goslings are growing quickly too. They have their own area in the barn and waddle around the yard quacking, eating grass and fertilizing during most of the daylight hours. The chicks are not old enough to be outside yet, but it should be quite a sight in a month or so. I’m pleased to have all these voracious bug eaters at work.


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