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

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