a place for everything – even headlamps

Got home the other evening and found a stomach on the garden path.

Yep.

A stomach.

No hair. No feathers. No head. No beak. No feet.

Nothing.

Just. A. Stomach.

A ruminant’s stomach.

Seems the poodles thought it was time to up the challenge for me. Every time I find one of their kills, there’s less of it to identify it by. I was able to identify the last specimen by the feathers and some guts.

This time all I got was a stomach. With munched up grass in it. I’d guess rabbit or wallaby… and given they haven’t yet caught a rabbit (that I know of), I’d say wallaby.

At this rate I’ll soon be an expert at identifying species from the inside out.

sigh.

Ok. At this point let me just say that I don’t like my poodles killing anything, even rats or mice. Though whatever is living in our ceiling is asking for it…

I especially hate it when they kill wildlife or our ducks, chickens or geese. But they have a strong prey drive and they will kill any intruder in their yard. Its a fact of life and I’ve had to accept that my gorgeous fluffy dogs are real dogs… predators even.

But on a cheerier note, at least a more creative one, I finally created a place for Wayne’s huge collection of headlamps.

He has a million of them. Battery operated, rechargeable, you name it, he has it. He bought one so he could go out to feed the horses in the dark. Then he bought a second as a spare. Then he got a rechargeable one. Then he found a brighter one. It goes on and on.

I don’t care how many he has. They come in handy when I’m searching the yard for clues such as hair, feathers, a head… What I have a problem with is him recharging them all over the kitchen counters.

I had to create a spot for them which met these requirements:

  1. store all the headlamps in once spot and not all over the house
  2. a spot handy to grab one on the way out 
  3. a spot handy to put it back on the way back in
  4. the ability to store and recharge in one place

I had no idea how to do this. I didn’t know what I wanted it to look like or where to put it.

In the end I went for quick and easy. I grabbed a bit of chippy old skirting board I had in the shed, drilled holes in it and jammed in some really big nails. I added a cool chippy green-blue door thingy. Just for fun I painted the heads of the nails pale green-blue to match.

I chose to put this new headlamp hanger on the front porch, in the enclosed area. Unfortunately there’s no power there so I had to use a long extension cord going from the outdoor power point in the middle of the porch and a power-board mounted on the wall. I’ll be managing the cords better once I find my box of cable clips…

I added this cute half planter basket to hold the chargers.

In order to do all this I had to move a few things over to the other side, so the kitchen window ledge is looking a lot busier.

I’m happy. The headlamps are off the kitchen counter. Wayne is happy cause he no longer has to search for headlamps I’ve moved.
Win win.
z

a poodle love affair and bed hopping

Its never been a secret that I love my poodles. In fact, if you know me at all, you know all about how I love my poodles.

They make me smile when I come home at the end of a day at work. The feel of their coats under my fingers comforts me and even when they do naughty things I can’t be angry at them. They are my family.

There’s just something really special about poodles. Of all sizes. Standard poodles are more dog to hug, miniature poodles are big enough to carry and a good armful to hug, and toy poodles are great value cause you can fit more of them on your lap.
Really, they’re just the perfect dogs.

But enough gushing. I wanted to share about the bed hopping that’s been going on around here lately.

The canine bed hopping, I mean. Don’t get too excited.

Here is Romeo in Barney’s small bed.

Here is Romeo in the bigger bed.

Here is Montana on the couch.

And here is Barney in his own bed.

On the weekend I made some new covers for the pillows that are in the dog beds. Cause I didn’t just buy dog beds… I bought extra soft and squishy pillows to go into them. I needed new covers for them so I can change them and wash them. Especially stinky Barney’s pillow. (He’s not a poodle and thus both sheds AND smells!)
I got a flanelette sheet from an op shop with little cars on it, perfect for a little boy dog, and I had the purple sheep flanelette in my fabric stash. I was able to make 3 new covers, but had to use a piece of and old sheet in purple ones as the turn over bit… You know what I mean. I make these covers just like regular pillow slips with a folded-in side to hold the pillow in place. I actually love the contrast.
Anyway, before I go, here’s another, gratuitous, picture of a poodle.
Heheh.
z

what greeted us when we got home last night

This is what we saw when we got home last night:

Of course, it was dark when we got home, so we didn’t so much see it as feel it. Wayne stepped onto the porch first and said, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but it can’t be good…”

Seems one of the dogs (not naming names, but it starts with ‘R’ and ends with ‘omeo’) decided he needed to dig through the walls to get at something under the house.

Luckily the timber walls are stronger than the plaster walls he’s already rearranged in the casita, but everything in the way of his exploration paid the price.

Thankfully nothing was broken. Just ripped bags, chewed cardboard and lots and lots of small bits to pick up.

One good thing came of it I guess… when I had to kneel on that manky old carpet piece that’s been our outside mat forEVER, I realised just how grimey it was. I actually went and cut another piece of old carpet and made a newer/cleaner outdoor mat.

And while I was at it, I cut a new piece for the back of the ute (truck to some).

Just in case you’re thinking our dogs are naughty… most of the time they’re cute, cuddly and adorable. See above – Montana sleeping on an armchair. How cute is that?
And Romeo on the couch which he seems to have claimed as his own. He makes sure to stretch out as much as he can so no one else can fit on it!
Barney, meanwhile, has his own bed… which Montana likes to steal when she can.
You always know when Montana is in Barney’s bed cause he lurks around, looking miserable till we notice and go move her along. Then he’s back in it like a shot.
Well, today I bought Montana her own new bed. Its bigger than the one Barney has cause she’s bigger than him. Soon as I got it home Barney claimed it.

Montana seems to prefer the smaller basket. Seriously, she loves small crates. She will fold herself into miniature poodle size crates.

Anyway, after all that you might be thinking “All this is very well, but what happened to the small changes challenge she set herself? All that big talk and then she stops posting/sharing/doing for twelve (12) whole days? Then she has the nerve to post about DOGS as if nothing’s happened? Does she think we didn’t notice she fell off the wagon? What sort of example is she setting? Who does she think she is?…”

Get off my back!

I’ve been busy, ok!

I’ve been busy, and tired, and lazy.

I took some time off from doing stuff.

And housework.

I chose to watch TV instead of logging on in the evenings. I have a few things to share, which I will do over the next few days. I’ll drip feed it all and try to stretch it out so it looks like I’ve done more than I’ve actually done.

Don’t give up on me yet.

z

small things big impact – a new dog bed

Day 2 – less dog hair on the couch

There’s one thing I just can’t stand. Dog hair. (Or cat hair but I don’t have a cat, mainly cause of the hair.)
That’s why I have poodles. They don’t shed. Or smell. They’re the best that way.
So, after making the catastrophic decision to wash the couch cover and living room throws in our washing machine a few weeks ago, I decided it was time Barney had his own bed.
Let me explain: for ages I’ve been washing all our couch covers and throws at the laundromat cause our washing machine doesn’t handle scunge well. You know what scunge is? Its the hair and lint that collects in washing machines only to be deposited on the next load of washing you do, especially the dark items. 
Last time I had to wash the covers I chucked them into the washing machine thinking “how bad can it be?”
Bad.
Took me 4 wash the washing machine cycles to clean that sucker out. Turns out vinegar and bi-carb in together works, I finally got it as clean as it’ll get.
So, having this new Barney bed is great. Barney has his own spot, he doesn’t have to jump up on his arthritic little legs, and the couch no longer smells of stinky dog while covered in dog hair.
One small step towards a cleaner home.

Meanwhile the poodles continue to enjoy the couch. All they give the couch is dirt and the occasional stick from the garden. No doggy smells, no hair.
Don’t they look cute? Like bookends. Montana on the left, Romeo on the right.

Here are two puppies from one of my litters. Astra on the left and Zeus on the right. They own that couch!

z

gardening with dogs, is it possible?

I’m not sure.

I thought it was. I mean, for a long time things were going great. I planted things, half of them died, but the rest grew up unmolested by poodles.

Then one day the poodles began to dig.

And dig.

Never in the same place.

They dug up some of the new foxgloves I put in along the back fence. They dug up the lupins. They dug up the catmint and new columbines. They dug and broke low branches off the crepe myrtle. They dug and broke the hardenbergia in half. They dug and knocked out the pigface I’d dared to survive in the cement-like, inhospitable slope. They dug small channels under fences.

…I tried to stop it.

I put up fences. I used dog pens and stakes and zip ties.

They knocked them down and moved them.

I put them up again.

They found another spot to dig.

And then yesterday I got home and found this:

Flattened osteospermums and a hole between the english lavender and the pink daisies.

Broken and flattened double osteospermums – looks like someone decided so take a nap there. Thankfully the young penstemon on the left avoided annihilation.

So far.

The alyssum wasn’t so lucky. It looks like this was another nice spot to rest.

(Actually, it DOES look like a nice place to lie in the sun… but that’s not the point!)

Ok. I’m not overly worried about the alyssum. That stuff is growing in cracks in the path.

The snow in summer is looking scraggly but that should be ok. And the osteospermums should bounce back. I’ll just give them a trim, I have to do for winter anyway.

Its that I plan to replant the old garden beds in front of the casita with new plants. Last weekend I got my garden helper to remove all the too-large plants from the beds, dig up and mix in new soil in preparation of planting all sorts of smaller flowering plants: mixed bulbs, columbines, whatever strikes my fancy.

The dogs have been leaving footprints all over the narrow beds, which I could cope with. But they’re also digging it up.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

I’m really beginning to get annoyed here.

I get that they dig after critters in the yard. Rats probably, around the foundations of the casita. The odd native animal. Whatever.

But digging in a new bed? There are no critters in there! They’re just loving digging!

I’ve never had diggers before and I’m stumped. I plan to put a fence over the new beds but that won’t guarantee anything.

Sigh.

I think I may go back to toy poodles. At least they can’t dig up a whole tree.

z

who let the dogs out?

To look at them you wouldn’t think butter would melt in their mouths. They’re so pretty, so cuddly, so loving.

You’d never guess that lion hearts nest inside their curly chests.

Many’s the time I’ve come home to find dead chickens, birds or ducks in the yard. Or occasionally woken up to the unpleasant task of burying a wallaby or possum.

I’m not proud to say that the carnage count includes rats, mice, a goose and even a bandicoot.

While we try to keep our yard critter safe (poodles in – critters out) we sometimes fail. And you can be sure the poodles are there to rub that failure in our faces every time.

This is one aspect of larger dogs with a high prey drive that I dislike. I know its natural – they hunt. Its what they do. I have to accept it, I don’t have to like it. Especially when I’m the one finding and disposing of the bodies like an accomplice after the fact.
Neighbours see me out in the paddock with a shovel, looking furtively over my shoulder as I dispose of the evidence, and they worry if they need to be concerned for Wayne.
At least toy poodles didn’t have a chance of bringing down larger prey… a small bird, a mouse, a skink. But with standards the hole you have to dig is much bigger.

Up till recently, all bodies retrieved were intact. No blood, less evidence.

At least, I’d tell myself, they’re neat killers – one grab around the neck, a good shake and its curtains for the critter who had the misfortune to step inside our yard. No mess.

Very befitting a poodle.

Just the thing to be grateful for: intact corpses.

Except for one memorable occasion when I came home with a friend to find Romeo parading round the yard with a duck head in his mouth. The rest of the duck was still intact though… just minus the head…

Way to impress visitors.

So, you can imagine how disgusting it was to wake up on Sunday morning and find what looked, at first appearance, to be an intact dead pademelon, only to find its guts lying next to it. Outside its body. In a neat little bundle. Barely a mark on it. Like someone had carefully opened a birthday present.

Yup.

Disgusting.

Then, this morning, I woke up to find a single feather and some guts on the footpath.

Great.
I might be good at identifying animals, but even my abilities were stretched to identify this one from the inside out.
I think it was a native hen.
I have no idea how it got in the yard. The poodles leave things alone out in the paddock, but anything that comes in their yard is, literally, dead meat.
sigh.
z

cleaning up or messing up?

You know how I started cleaning out the casita?
Well, the job has defeated me.
Or at least, its giving my confidence a good thrashing…
I started out with a mess and I thought I was making some progress. Instead I now have a bigger mess in more rooms than I had to start with.
Sigh.
I know that its always darkest before the dawn (or messier before its organised) but man… this is seriously harder than I thought. 
I thought I’d have it finished this weekend. Now I’m thinking it might be the middle of 2016 before I’m done.
Meanwhile, Romeo decided to do some of his own organising. He decided it was time to remodel the dog pillows.

And here is the proud Romeo with his handiwork.

He even decided to just take bites out of the foam on this  pillow. Just picturing him doing this makes me laugh.

I think he was just trying to lift my spirits. Cause of course, coming inside after digging myself out from under 107 cardboard boxes to find foam and stuffing all over the floor in the living room is just what I needed to lift my spirits!

At least he was determined, he had a goal and he worked hard to achieve it.

I should take a leaf out of his book (or stuffing out of his pillow) and keep going on my clean up and organising.

It will get better.

One day I’ll finish.

Then I can start messing it up again.

z

step by step, we’re getting there

Our home may not be beautiful and neat, but one thing I can say for it… it has character. Like the side of the garage where some previous owner thought ‘what the hell, you can’t see this side from the gate’ and stopped painting it blue. And all the rusty bits of metal leaned up against the corner to stop the dogs from excavating all my plants in pursuit of some critter burrowed under the shed.

The foxgloves Ginny gave me are so tall I’ve had to stake them, and the lobelia and alyssum are looking great…

I hadn’t posted for a few days as I haven’t really had much to share. I’ve been busy with work and haven’t put any time into doing anything creative worth sharing. However, things are slowly moving along. I’ve had my trusty helper come out and do some of the heavy lifting for me so things are coming together in the yard.

For one thing, he’s put a brick border along the footpath to stop the blue metal (gravel) from falling onto the path and then into the ‘lawn’.

(I use the word loosely.)

I love the neat new look. Maybe it needs a brick border on the other side too?

You can see the tyre wall is coming along too.

Another view of the tyre wall from the garage to the front gate and our wonky wood shed. We figure about 3 more loads of tyres and we’re onto the next phase: soil and pinebark. I’ve already got some plants in the tyres down the front end, I need a whole lot more to fill the whole wall.

I’ve had my trusty helper put carpet down along the path between the house and driveway retaining wall. That area has always been a problem. Some of it has blue metal and the rest had weeds… almost impossible to mow with all the gravel mixed into the grass. This way no more weeds and I can buy more gravel to put on top of the carpet. You can’t really see it in the pic but there’s another brick border to hold in the gravel at the far end of the walkway.

We put carpet skirts around the trees we planted in the paddock as well. I told Wayne I was over weeds and planned to carpet the entire yard. He was not impressed.

We also put up a bit more wire for the potato vine and sweet peas to grow up. The garden is beginning to look really nice.

Well… except for the weeds where the lawn should be and the bare patches where I poisoned weeds…

I got a pleasant surprise the other day. This plant grew in one of the garden beds and I had no idea what it was. I wasn’t even sure if it was a weed or not. But since I didn’t recognise it as a weed I let it grow and voila! Its a delphinium!

I’d bought delphinium seeds a couple of years ago and not a single one grew. I think I tossed the soil from the empty pots in this area and look what grew!

I’m loving the way gardens can surprise you like that. This is a new thing for me. Mostly things I put in the garden surprise me by disappearing.

Meanwhile we had to do an emergency operation on the hardenbergia and azalea corner… another critter living behind them I guess, cause I came home to find dirty dogs and the plants almost ripped out. Its a pity cause both of them had just started to take off.

When I bought the azalea Patrice was all ‘oh, you’ll kill it’ and I was on track to prove her wrong. Hopefully no permanent damage was done.

A rickety cage made of a dog pen side, some old trellis, bits of wood and tied together with hay bale twine… add the tyre wall… a bit white trashy huh?

Oh well.

I’ll just call it the ‘Make Do’ culture. I’m recycling and using what I have on hand.

And I have a LOT of hay bale twine…

z

thats the way the apple crumbles – kitchen update

A bunch of hydrangeas from my garden adorn my new kitchen…

Don’t get your hopes up. This is just the magic of creative cropping at work. Here is the full picture:

The kitchen is still a non-working mess. )

Though there has been progress… let me fill you in.

Last Thursday Handyman came in the morning to start work again since the electricals had all been moved. He arrived with the warning that he could only work 3 hrs or so cause he had to go to the other job he took on (after mine I should point out) which is a huge entire house makeover. Apparently the owner changed his mind about the type of shower he was putting in so Handyman had to go back and get the base ready for the plumber who was arriving the next morning… ie it was urgent.

I said fine, that was ok. It would be good if he went through with me and we wrote out a list of all the things that needed doing in the kitchen to get it finished. That way we (I) could plan ahead, buying or preparing each area for the next job. We wrote it out and then measured and made a list of things I needed to buy.

The list of things to do went something like this:

-put in window which involves: patch timber outside house, put in lintel for new window, move old window to porch
 
-put in rangehood which means making a hole in the roof and ceiling to vent it, getting a rubber seal for the roof


-mount glass splash back which should be easy as I already have the clips for it


-put pine lining on 2 walls


-plaster and smooth ceiling and one wall we’re not lining


-put up cornice around entire room


-put in skirting boards on 2 walls


-put in benchtop once its finished – includes some kind of decorative trim for edge where bench meets wall, there will be a small gap there we need to cover. i need to find/pick that, and let me tell you, the amount of decorative trim and moulding available in Australia (or Tasmania?) is pathetic


-plumb in dishwasher


-put in sink – add a new hole for 2nd tap (for the gravity fed bore water – a necessity for us)


-plumb in sink 


-patch a hole in the cabinet which my kitchen man thoughtfully put in for the power point for the dishwasher but which the electrician didn’t use … its now a hole that just needs filling. 


-put the sliding door back in kitchen (we took it off to make it easy to bring things in and out) – after giving it a coat of paint and painting the frame


-paint all woodwork – all the new pine lining, window and door surrounds


-paint the unlined wall


I mean, it looks like a ton, but it shouldn’t be that much! Not really.

IF I had a Handyman…


This is what he did last weekend when he worked a couple of hours on Thursday, all day Friday and Saturday.


He cut a hole for the new window.


He put in the new window and we love it. There’s so much more light in the kitchen now and it has a view! Downside is we can’t walk around naked in there any more!

He lined the entire front wall of the kitchen with pine. We definitely need a frame around the window and I have found a moulding I like. Unfortunately he’s not here today to tell me if its ok. I plan to buy it anyway and hopefully he can make it work.

 He chose to come back on Sunday (his choice. I’m not a slave driver!) to finish the third wall so I could gap fill and paint during the week. He didn’t finish it so I didn’t paint it.

Do I sound a bit peeved? Well, yes, I am. Not cause he didn’t finish last week. I’m peeved cause he called last night to say that he can’t come in to work today. Which means one less day of work this week, which delays us further.

Actually, it means that he’ll only work one day this week. Just tomorrow.

Yes. I’m very annoyed right now.

Deep breath. Its progress. If I wasn’t going to be flat out this weekend I’d undercoat all the timber, finished or not. I’ll give it a go and get what I can done anyway.

I’m so over not having a kitchen. I’m so over the entire house being a mess.

Did I mention that one of the dogs had diarhea in the office a couple of weeks ago? I just cut out a section of carpet and threw it away. I’ve started removing it anyway, may as well not waste time and effort cleaning it.

Well, someone did it again yesterday. No better way to wake up than to find a mess to clean up.

Another bit of carpet bit the dust.

I’m itching to get the office emptied out and get rid of that carpet and do the floor in there. That way, if someone does get sick in there its easy to clean.

I want a dog door.

What worries me about a dog door is dogs who go outside to hunt all night. And bark.

What worries Wayne is that a dog door for my dogs would be big enough for a small person to get through.

*sigh*

As for hunting… Came home last night to be greeted with Montana proudly carrying a prize. A huge dead rat.

Took them out to pee last night and found another offering on the mat outside the door. Another dead rat.

They’ve caught two mice which they’ve given me to dispose of. Both alive. Barely.

Nice.

But the fact is they give me their catches! I’m so impressed.

Yesterday they were sniffing and digging under something in the yard. I lifted it and sure enough, there was a mouse underneath. Romeo caught it and there it was, hanging out of his mouth, tail out the side. I asked him to give it to me and he stood till I grabbed the tail.

Ugh.

Ok. All these rodents are sick and dying. We’ve had to resort to poison as there are just so many of them. Luckily the dogs don’t eat them, just catch them, kill them and present them proudly. It still concerns me and I hate finding them dead, or worse, alive.

Oh the joys of country life!

z

romeo and juliet

 
This is Romeo with Juliet.
I did mention that an old friend and her family visited us on New Year’s day, right? Well I’ve finally got around to sharing the photos.
The girls are gorgeous, but best of all was the look on Juliet’s face when I introduced her to Romeo. 
It was a match made in heaven!
Of course Montana and Barney got their share of cuddles too!
Our kids. Mine just happen to be furry!
z