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

christmas morning – the booty

Montana with her new toys.

Well, its Christmas morning. What a great start to a great day.

First thing I saw when I got up was this little gift train on the kitchen table. Each chocolate had a note on it saying “Merry Christmas Zefi” from all the animals: Montana, Romeo, Barney, the chickens, ducks, horses and even Herman Too.

Yep. That’s the limping duckling’s name. It was a lucky name for Little Herman, so that’s his name now.

Or her name.

Wayne’s not much for wrapping. He said he was going to wrap presents last night so I left out wrapping paper and tape but didn’t hear any wrapping noises.

This morning I found out why.

This was my first Christmas present, carefully wrapped in a throw. Romeo stands guard.

This is my second present, carefully hidden for me to find. heheheh

I laughed so much this morning. I adored the chocolate train and the presents are great! I got power tools! What more can a girl want?

One is a Dremel moto saw (click image to see what it does):

I’m so excited!!!!! I’ve wanted something like this for a while.

The other one is a Rockwell contra saw:

Woohoo!!!! Watch me now!

How can you not love a man who gives you power tools for Christmas?

The dogs got some home made dog biscuits and some toys. The poodles were into the toys instantly. Barney only wanted the biscuits.

Wayne got a new soft leather wallet, a 1932 indian head coin on a leather thong and a hand forged viking feast knife.

He loves the knife.

He collects knives.

… in fact, if you think about it, its a bit of a worry. I gave him a knife to add to his collection, he gave me 2 power saws… Plus we now have 2 bows each and a LOT of arrows…

If I wasn’t actually in this relationship, I’d be a bit concerned.

z

ps. I’m sorry about the alignment of this post. All posts, but this in particular. The alignment isn’t working for some strange reason!

life, death, dam!

 

Yesterday morning we had a rude awakening.

Its not like we didn’t KNOW Kevin was coming over with his diggy-diggy to do our driveway and fix the dam… its that I was so wiped out I’d been in bed since 7.30pm the night before (I should  say afternoon before) and Wayne was living in denial or something. He’d woken up, got a coffee and come back to bed with a book.

When the truck arrived the dogs went bezerk. I was up, running around trying to put some clothes on, get to the door, keep the dogs in all at once.

Of course the dogs hadn’t been out to pee cause that’s my job in the morning… so they needed to go out and pee and not eat Kevin before he did our job for us.

So here I am, running around pulling on track pants with one hand, boots with another, breasts bouncing cause who has time to pull on a bra at a time like this, with dogs frothing at the mouth around me, barking at the machine wielding murderer who’d obviously come to massacre us as we slept.

I rounded the dogs up, heading them out into the paddock where I thought I’d release them so Kevin would be safe for a while, get to the gate and what do I see???

Three tiny ducklings in a little pile right outside the gate.

SH#$*#^#T!

Can’t let the dogs out. Those tiny things are like squeaky toys to them!

I go out the gate, grab the ducklings, yelling “WAYNE!!!! WE HAVE DUCKLINGS!!! I NEED YOU! HURRY UP!”

I mean, this is the end of the world.

I have a handful of tiny ducklings.

Again…. its not like we didn’t KNOW they were coming. We just thought we had another week or so.

And yet, this last week I came home one day and saw crows hanging around. One had something in its mouth. I knew we had ducklings…

Wayne and I had discussed this whole plan in detail.

We were going to get out into the area around the dam before Kevin came over. We were going to remove the electric fence which used to protect the willows I’d put in there (which we moved a few weeks ago and which seem to be doing fine in their new spots thankfully), and search the reeds for duck nests.

I’d already found one with about 10 or more eggs in it. We knew there were more cause we hardly ever saw about 3 of our female ducks… we knew they were sitting on eggs.

The plan had been that Wayne would fix up the old dog pen, line the bottom with bird wire to make it duckling proof, then we’d go out, grab the eggs and mothers and move them into the pen to safety.

Because:

1. Every year we have tons of ducklings and none survive unless we can catch them and lock them up. The crows eat them all. Its heartbreaking.

2. Kevin was going to work around the dam and might squash the nests, eggs, ducks….

Right.

Good plan.

So here we are, yesterday morning, running around like jumping beans on speed. Cause we had a plan!

A mother duck hissing at me with her ducklings under her wing.

First nest was the one I’d found first time around. It had no eggs left, just a few ducklings. About 6 of them I think. I put them in a basket and started fixing up the pen. The mother duck was going crazy. We left the gate open and she eventually came in and sat near the basket. Good. When the pen was finished, we put the basket inside and she followed.

All’s well.

Well. Not all.

One duckling was dead at the bottom of the basket. I don’t know if I killed it when I was catching them and it wriggled and I dropped it… It wasn’t high. But it was dead. sigh.

Later on, I found another one dead. Both the dead ones were fawn coloured…. probably girls.

Then I went out and found another nest. Right next to the first. It had an egg with a hole in it but nothing was happening… dead duckling. Sigh again. 6 unhatched eggs and 8 ducklings. We got all of those, picked up the entire nest, and put it all in the basket.

This mother didn’t seem to care that much. She didn’t come for the ducklings.

Mind you, they were much quieter (younger) than the others. They weren’t squeaking for mom.

Plus the excavator makes a lot of noise. And our neighbour was brushcutting on the other side of the paddock. Even if they were squeaking, she probably wouldn’t have heard them.

I covered them with a blanket to keep them warm.

Then I spotted 2 ducklings, most likely from the first batch, on the dam.

SH#$*#^#T again.

No way I could catch them on the dam. They were on their own.

I hated that.

I saw a magpie flying over…

Anyway, after about 2-3 hours of no success enticing the mother to come after the ducklings, I made an executive decision. These nests were really close to eachother, maybe ducks raise ducklings in a kind of ‘village’ approach.

I put the nest, eggs and ducklings in with the mother duck and her remaining 4.

She sat on the nest and covered all the ducklings.

Success!

I felt so much better.

This morning there were 2 casualties. Wayne found one outside when feeding them, I found another in the nest when mom and babies were out paddling in the playpool. Darn. Down to 10 now.

Still… its better odds than they’d get out in nature.

Mind you. We found another nest. It had eggs and ducklings. Some totally newly hatched. We watched some of them hatch right in front of our eyes. It was amazing. I’d only ever seen something hatch out of an egg on TV before.

I almost feel like these are MY babies…

I so want to save them as well, but we just can’t catch those other two mothers. I think they’re older and wiser. I can’t expect that one mother to hatch and raise all those babies, can I?

Someone said a chicken can raise up to 20 young… dare we try? Or do we let nature take its course and see what happens? Its almost certain death for them if we don’t try.

We don’t need a million ducks on our dam, but it would be nice to raise some more… I figure we’ll probably end up with 6-7 of the current 10 making it to maturity. I hope. Should I grab the rest and up the odds? Or not interfere?

When we moved here we had 12 ducks. We’re down to 7-8 now. Maybe less cause of the mothers on nests I have no idea how many we actually have. If we only raise the ones we’ve captured now and all 10 survive, we’ll have about 16-18 ducks. Surely thats enough for anyone, right?

What am I trying to do? Convince myself that I shouldn’t go out and catch the rest of them?

We have 2 geese coming next week. I’ve always been against geese cause they can be aggressive, but Wayne loves them. I decided a while ago to find him a couple for Christmas. I couldn’t find plain white goslings when I looked, but I found a pair who’s about 18 months old. Probably better. They can have their own young here. Then we’ll have to worry about catching goslings…

Meanwhile, one of the two ducklings on the dam yesterday disappeared. They wouldn’t get out of the water while Kevin was working so it may have been a fatality of the work. This morning the other was gone as well. Maybe it got out and joined the nest. Maybe not.

On another, related note… while looking for duck nests I found a wren nest. Darn. I picked it up and looked inside. Tiny unfeathered babies, alive but seemed asleep. I put the nest back further over cause I knew we’d be disturbing it when we went for the duck again.

I checked it later, they were still alive. Hopefully mom found them and went back to them. I dread looking again… I may be responsible for more deaths.

So, here are the ducks yesterday afternoon (minus the mothers) looking over the dam works.

And here is the dam this morning, finished. The lower side has been reinforced so it won’t leak (hopefully!!!) and we won’t have the swampy problem we’ve always had below it. The top side has been lowered to allow water to flow into it when it rains.

 In theory, any excess water in the dam will now flow out on the other side, into the paddock and away from the house. That fence is the house yard fence. The house is only a few meters from there. That’s how close to the house the dam is…

Meanwhile, Kevin has been working on the driveway.

This is yesterday morning when he’d first started. The plan is to make it so that water running off the hill doesn’t just stream down the driveway, under the house and into the casita. Seriously, whoever designed this place had no brain. The house is at the bottom of a hill and in a valley… all rain runs off under our house, our lawn and down under the casita. We hope that with Kevin’s help we can change things and direct the rain towards a drain, down the side of the driveway, into the drains on the side of the road. And away from the house.

Barney oversees the work being done.

I’ll have more photos and updates after the work is finished.
Its been a very expensive project but one that really needed to be done. I really hope it works.
z

while i’m reminiscing – scooter and the big bad cows

http://poodlelane.com/ScooterBook/index.htm

While I was looking over my websites this morning, checking what needs to be updated, changed, making sure links still worked, I came across my links to the book I wrote about Scooter.

Its not that I’d forgotten I’d done this book, its just that I hadn’t looked at it for a long time.

I opened the links and looked at the preview page I’d set up for it, which lead to the Lulu page to buy the book. It was looking at the drawings that got me feeling nostalgic.

I sold all the original watercolours I’d done for this book on ebay after I’d finished the book. They were simple pen and ink and watercolour drawings, but they were so expressive. Now I wish I’d kept a few and framed them for myself.

Oh well. At least I still have a copy of the book.

I miss Scooter. He was such a character. A huge personality in a tiny package.

z

redecorating the casita

When you come home and the poodles greet you with white nails and white noses it can only mean one of two things:

They baked you a cake.

or

They started redecorating the casita.

I’ll let you guess which one.

Yep. You got it.

The poodles decided they’d put a shelf nook in the hydrobath room for me to keep bottles on.

How thoughtful.

Romeo poses in front of the grooming room door, proudly showing of their handiwork. Pretty neat huh? Almost a perfect square.

Mind you, there are teeth and digging marks all over the place including my fancy dog lead hanger and chalkboard. Sigh.

By the time I took the photo I’d also swept up the piles of plasterboard bits.

So… Anyone want to hire two poodles to do demolition work? They come cheap! All you have to do is drop a small furry critter  (or feathered, they’re not too fussy) into the wall cavity you want removed. They’ll do the rest.

Of course, if someone hadn’t left the casita door open this wouldn’t have happened… I won’t mention any names but it starts with ‘w’ and ends with ‘ayne’.

After the great possum debacle of a few months ago, when we came home to find the contents of my workshop in the casita re-arranged, we decided to keep the door closed when we went to work.

Now, I was very mature about it. I didn’t yell or jump around like a two year old denied a lollypop. Nope. I just laughed and cleaned the mess up.

Then I told Wayne what had happened. The words “Its your fault” never crossed my lips.

They didn’t have to…

z

romeo may not live much past four

Yep.

I’m not impressed.

Romeo killed another of our ducks this morning.

See, Wayne has been taking the dogs out for a run in the paddocks every morning when he goes out to feed the chickens and ducks.

Normally the poodles have been really good with the feathered critters. They ignore them as they run around sniffing wildlife trails. They’ll run through a flock of them, scattering them and ignoring all the flapping and squalking…

But one duck, acting differently… well, turns out that was too much for Romeo (‘duck f@$ker’ as Wayne affectionately calls him).

One duck has been nesting in the fallen tree branches in the top paddock. We only noticed it when Romeo chased her out of there a few weeks ago but didn’t think much of it.

Till today that is.

When he not only chased her out but caught her.

Sigh.

And she was sitting on eggs.

Double sigh.

Wayne is up there now disposing of ‘cover’ to avert another such disaster.

We are now down to 8 ducks. Lately only 7 have been turning up for feedings, which means there’s another one nesting somewhere.

Did I mention we’re also down to one chicken and one rooster?

Not due to Romeo, he’s innocent of that much at least.

Since our chickens are free range we don’t always know whats going on number-wise. We had as many as 6 isa browns and 2 black hens at one time. One black hen was killed by *guess who* when she landed in the yard. One red hen was found dead, decapitated. Most likely by a quoll. They do that apparently. I found another dead in the hen house the other day… no injuries that I could see. The others have just disappeared. I know the rooster has been very rough on a couple of the hens, so I’m betting they ran away.

So now we need more chickens.

And I’m thinking I may buy a couple of geese for Wayne.

He loves geese. And geese can hold their own against dogs. That’ll teach Romeo some respect.

sigh.

Life on a farm ain’t all rainbows.

z

a day in the life

Today is Romeo’s birthday.

I’m a bad mother.

If his brother Merlin’s owner hadn’t mentioned it to me, I would have missed it.

Again.

Yesterday I groomed the kids, the poodles anyway. Barney always manages to find ‘important work’ to do on the other side of the property when its time for a clip, bath and blowdry.

Wayne’s not impressed cause this time I left some slight bell bottom bracelets on their legs. I like them like that even if it is higher maintenance than clipping them off all over. But tomorrow the kids are having a visitor. A lady who wants to buy a standard poodle.

I’m like an ambassador for standard poodles in Tasmania. When someone is considering a standard poodle I invite them round to meet my two. If they can survive that, then they know a standard is for them. If they run screaming, well… they might consider a goldfish instead.

Things have been busy around here lately. On the positive side I’ve been on a roll regarding my art lately. Firstly I got a 2nd at the DVRA Art Competition. Then I got 1st Prize at the Salvaged Art Competition, and the project I worked on with some guys at work won 1st Prize in the amateur category. Plus I sold the painting of the quoll from the DVRA comp. I now have either half the price of a trip to Greece, most of the price of a new laptop, or a start towards a new bathroom or kitchen….

Other positives are: The lawn has been mowed. Some plants have been found amongst the weeds. The rain tanks are full. I caught up with the dish washing and the laundry.

On the negative side the dishes keep piling up, another load of washing appeared when I wasn’t looking, the rain tanks are overflowing, I can actually hear the grass growing thanks to the rain we’ve had, I’m sure there is less lawn and more weeds than ever this year, and I was unable to locate some of the plants I put in last year, even once I’d cleared up the weeds around the place they were last spotted.

On Sunday I finally started a project I had planned to do last summer. I hate having birds nest in our roof but I hate the thought of baby birds in nests dying of starvation cause I locked out their parents. So the idea was to put bird wire around the eaves at the end of summer, once the nests were empty.

Of course the end of summer snuck up on me quite suddenly with rain and wind and I put off the wire thing till the weather was better.

Then, this year, spring snuck up on me and suddenly there were birds building nests in the roof again.

Time to try out that new air stapler Wayne got me a few months ago. I already had some bird wire (only 10 metres of it, but that was a blessing in disguise), I had staples, I had the air stapler… I had a friend to help. I had ladders. I was set.

We managed to do the short side of the house plus a bit around the corner. My friend cut the wire, then held it up for me on her ladder. I balanced precariously on my ladder, wielding the staple gun and missing two out of every three shots.

Serioulsy, those staples are SO narrow.

By the time we’d put up 10 metres we were done.

…I mean, we were done. The job wasn’t. I had to get up on the ladder again on Monday and cut and staple bits where the vertical boards on the house left gaps. I had to add a bit of extra wire where I’d totally missed a gap, allowing our feathered friends to still get in an out and continue construction of their mansions in our roof. I also hung up some old cds on string from the wire to further discourage building without permits.

The cds looks kinda ‘redneck’ but I prefer to think of them as a cheap, practical and environmentally friendly way of discouraging birds from squatting in our roof. The downside is they make a lot of noise thumping on the house in the wind. I’ll get used to it. Better than finding our insulation in the driveway, pulled out by birds extending to put in a pool room.

The birds aren’t the only things I’ve evicted this week. Remember Ponsonby, the black possum who moved into the casita? I did love seeing his little pink nose and his tail hanging down as he watched me do stuff in there.

What I didn’t enjoy was the full scale destruction the dogs caused trying to get him. Or the possum poop. Everywhere.

So, we bought a possum trap and trapped him. Then we released him in the bush.

Actually, Wayne released him in the bush.

First he gave me this long lecture about how FAR away I had to release him cause possums come back. Kind of like ‘homing possums’. I was going to take him up the hills opposite our place. About 10-15 klms away.

But Wayne decided he’d do it. And he just drove up our road for about 3 klms and let him go.

If Ponsonby comes back I’ll find it incredibly hard to not do the smugly superior thing…  

I told you so!

Man the weather’s been wierd lately. Strong winds. And rain. Lots of rain. I was woken up last night by rain pelting down and thunder so long and loud the house shook!

Our creek is flowing like Niagara Falls again, and the paddocks have more than one river running through them. Poor Wayne was out there this afternoon with his bucket and spade trying to direct the flow.

Even the ducks are looking water-logged.

z

today was a nice day

Today was a nice day. 
It was sunny, not cold. No rain. No wind.
I had some dogs to groom in the morning but I was determined to get outside and spend some time with the horses.
Soon as I finished the last dog I took some brushes and a halter and went out and got Cass. We spent some time bonding over some intense back rubbing. I think she loved it more than I did… I was choking on horse hair.
I swear, I’ve never seen a horse shed as much as she does. The other day I was watching her in the paddock after we’d taken their rugs off so they could get some sun… Cass shook and a cloud of white hair rose around her, settling on the ground like snow.
Its still there now! After a whole week and many many inches of rain!
In fact when you walk around the paddock you’ll see spots… “This is where Cass rolled, this is where she shook”…
The view from Cass’ back.
I had to get Wayne’s help to saddle her up. I can’t do up a girth. I’m a weakling.
Then I had to use a milk crate to get on her.  My legs can’t get up high enough to put my foot in the stirrup… And my arms aren’t strong enough to lift my butt off the ground…
Let’s not go there.
After the ride. Sleepy Cass.
Wayne said he wasn’t going to ride. He was just going to hassle watch me ride Cass around the paddock. The aim of the exercise was to just get to know eachother. I haven’t ridden in YEARS. I need to build my confidence. And Cass thought she’d come here to retire. We brought her here, fed her and let her do her own thing for months, what’s a girl to think?
In the end, Wayne got jealous. He got out his gear and saddled up Wally, then we both ambled around the paddocks, letting the horses relax under saddle and with eachother and us on their backs. 
Basically it was a very relaxed hour.
I plan to make this a regular thing. Its a promise to myself. To start doing something we planned to do when we bought Wind Dancer Farm. We bought this particular property cause it has access to good riding areas both on our own property and beyond it. Yet we’ve been here for over 2 years and haven’t ridden together yet.
Now I have Cass, its time.
Meanwhile, its good to be home. Though I when I opened the shed last week to get something, this is what I was greeted by:
I hadn’t left it like that. Believe me.
The poodles were in there hunting a possum. Or two.
One of them didn’t make it apparently. I found a LOT of grey possum fur when pooperscooping the yard that first day… Wayne said he had to bury an ex-possum while I’d been away. The poodles went feral, wreaking destruction to get at the possums… 
You should see the new car’s fender…
I almost came back to ex-poodles.
I also found some red possum fur. That little guy did make it. Though he was stupid enough to come into the yard again. The other night he was frozen on top of the trellis while the dogs paced around below. The poodles were like “I know he’s around here somewhere but I just can’t see him…”
The possum was still as a statue thinking “If I don’t move maybe they won’t notice me.”
Poor little thing… He had quite a few bald spots. Luckily no injuries, just bald spots.
I got the dogs inside and he escaped… I hope he’s smart enough to find another hangout.
z

meet my friends

Anyone that knows me knows I’m passionate about animals, dogs in particular.
Everywhere I go I see dogs that I just must say hello to. I’ll be walking along with one of my cousins, see  a dog and run off calling “Hello gorgeous!”, leaving them standing in confusion… thinking I’ve seen some long lost relative or an ex boyfriend… only to see me running towards a cute dog making kissing sounds.
Other people go goo-goo over babies. I go goo-goo over animals.
Almost every shop in the Agora (market street) seems to have its resident dog these days. That means I have to go into every shop to give them a pat.
And at the beach… we went to the open air cinema last night and there was a dog there too! 
Cats are everywhere of course. Some people feed the stray cats, other cats live around the smorgasbord of the garbage bins. Generally speaking, stray cats in Greece are fast and very wary. This old tom was sleeping on a fence near our house and went on full alert when I pulled out my camera.
 
Marouso’s kitten, the one briefly known as Roxy, has disappeared. She was a wild kitten we found at the beach and brought home. We fed her, loved her, Marouso had her future life planned out: luxury, pampering, sleeping on the bed, a big fat belly… I guess we needed to find a younger kitten who hadn’t yet learned to fend for itself. Either that or we needed to keep her locked up longer. This is where a dog crate would have come in handy.
Marouso is heartbroken. She’s been looking for Roxy for 24 hours now. I hope we find her or find another kitten for her. She plans to be a crazy cat lady when she grows up and needs to start training for it.
z

i can still do the splits!

But not in any way that I’d like to repeat any time soon.
I came home from work yesterday and went about doing all those millions of little things you have to do when you live in the country and come home late. In the dark. And cold.
I brought in firewood. I lit the fire. I put on some washing. I groomed a dog.* I fed horses. I fed dogs. I put on some drying. I washed dishes. I folded towels drying in front of the fire and went to put them away.
I took one step into the bathroom with an armload of towels and went WHOOOAAAAAEEEEE!!!!!  SPLAT!
One leg out front, one out back, towels all over the place.
Wayne came running “What happened? Are you alright?…. Where are you?”
Down here. Wedged between the shower and the vanity. I couldn’t get up cause I couldn’t bring my legs together (not a problem I normally have). Wayne tried to help. By then the hysterical laughter didn’t help. He had to drag me out backwards on my butt before I could gather myself together sufficiently to get up.
How embarrassing.
I have bruises in places that never normally meet the hard ground.
Turns out I hadn’t turned off the HOT water tap properly in the morning and it dripped all day, flooding the bathroom floor. 
Good one Zef.
Eh. We need a new bathroom anyway. What kind of bathroom is it when you fall and get wedged between the shower and the vanity and there’s not enough room to get up?
Note to self: add ‘new bathroom’ to the To Do list.
You know, there really is no rest for the wicked… I must have been very naughty in a previous life. Really. I mean it just never ends. And I don’t even have children. Imagine if I did! Mom always warned me that one day I’d have children who’d give me as much trouble as I gave her. The Mother’s Curse
Well. I showed her. I didn’t have kids.
But maybe it still got me anyway, cause I sure as hell don’t have one of those easy, selfish, relaxed lives people with kids envy their childless friends for.
Today I thought I had it easy. No grooming appointments and I got home earlier than usual. It was actually light when I got home. So I fed the chickens and collected the eggs (why do we keep chickens… with feed it works out to about $5 an egg right now), pooperscooped the yard (it was time, having stepped in poop this morning), fed the horses, repotted some plants and put them on the porch cause the frost was killing them (to think I picked frost tolerant plants), fed the dogs, lit the fire, brought in more firewood. 
About 1.5 hours later I was able to sit down.
Ah. This is the life.
Surely he’ll drop something soon. He always does…
*Grooming appointments. I’m leaving on Sunday. For six weeks. About two months ago I sent out a newsletter to my customers letting them know I’d be away for six weeks and that they should book in early to get their dog groomed before I go. I’ve been flat out. Which is a good thing, I might add. Regulars as well as new customers. And in winter too when a lot of people tend to let the dog’s hair get long. 
But I’m tired. And I still have so much organising to do before I go. I need a rest. I promised myself I will NOT take any appointments for Saturday. Or Sunday. I won’t. I absolutely will not! Cause you know me… I just can’t say no! 
Besides, I have my own dogs to do on Saturday. I want to leave behind a clean house and clean dogs.
And try not to stress about what I’ll come home to…
z