Monthly Archives: April 2012

fencing

In march we used our tax return money to install that invisible fencing for our dogs.

behind the back lawn

We’ve finally had it long enough, and gotten used to it enough, that I’m confident in saying I LOVE it. I had hoped all along I’d love it, but you know, I needed to make sure it worked first. If you’re not into dogs or dog fencing, feel free to go away, come back tomorrow when I’m going to tell you about chocolate pumpkin bread.

And it did work, right from the start! In fact, both dogs picked it up almost instantly.

Reggie is a smart and independent dog. The kind of dog who does exactly what you want him to do 95% of the time because he knows it’s the right thing to do. But every once in awhile (or whenever you leave the butter on the counter) he does the wrong thing. And that look on his face the moment he looked back when you call before taking off into the woods – you can see in his eyes that he knows he’s misbehaving.

Jake is the opposite of that. He’s the loving, loyal, but slightly dim-witted dog. The one who would NEVER do anything you don’t want him to do. He just honestly forgot that butter on the counter is not for dogs.

So we knew we were going two very different learning styles on our hands. Reggie got shocked once, and again when we were testing the fence with food on the other side – and then never again. Jake didn’t get it at ALL until several days of food testing where he got bit regularly. Then Reggie wouldn’t even go near the white flags. Jake would head right up to them, but figured out the warning beep before the shock was actually that – a warning (it’s all about consistency with him, he’s not bright, so he needs the practice)

Then, at just 2 weeks, we broke the system. I’m ready to admit it was Entirely the fault of Stupid Humans. We were told to keep up the training for 3 weeks minimum, but after 2 weeks we couldn’t do anything to get the dogs to go near the fence* So we figured they were all trained up! And we’d read that once trained you could walk the dogs over the fence as long as you had a Fence Crossing Ritual. Something like putting down a mat over the fence, taking the collar off, and putting the leash on, then leading them over.

Yup, all that worked, but it was too soon. Instead of learning they had a fence and a ritual to cross it, they just thought the fence didn’t exist at the bottom of the driveway. We know this because they made several brave escapes through that weak point afterwards (ignoring the beeps, flags, and all)

So then we had to restart the training from scratch. And we focused it on that corner where the driveway goes. And we put little white flags into the driveway itself, so they rattled on the undersides of our cars.

And now the dogs are good again. We’ve had loose neighbor dogs, horses, people waving and talking to us from the road – and all the while my dogs stay carefully inside their fence. For their daily walks, we now have to load them into the car and drive somewhere**. It’s a bit of a pain, but since we often drive to the top of our little hill:

just a walk through the neighborhood

I really can’t complain too much.

*and you NEVER actively call them to/over the fence, or you’ll break their trust in you and loose all that hard won off leash recall action

**Sometimes we drive to the end of the driveway, park there, and do our normal walk. The key is they cross the fence IN THE CAR.

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making a list

and checking it over and over again. I’m thinking about yarns! Local yarns, farm yarns, yarns made on this continent instead of some other one. I do this from time to time, just to remind myself of all the great yarns I haven’t worked with (recently or ever) along with my standbys.

What are your favorites? I have a skein of Leisel calling to me from the inspiration basket (I even know what I’d knit with it, but I have no time)

and I just discovered that Mountain Colors has a cashmere silk blend called Jeanette that I’ve never even seen in person! (it was new last year, so that’s probably why)

What new yarns do you have your eye on? Got anything to recommend to me? I am creating an actual list right now…

early spring flowers

early spring flower mosaic

1. tulip, 2. primrose, 3. mini daffodil, 4. myrtle, 5. grape hyacinth, 6. bluet, 7. tiny white violet, 8. strawberry patch, 9. plum tree

we actually had a little sun yesterday evening!

70lb lap dog

Jake is really just a lap dog at heart

jake the 70lb lap dog.jpg

Too bad he’s bigger than my entire lap!

baby salad

red leaf lettuce

snap peas

busy busy busy

Know what else I’m up to these days?

whos your farmer

That’s Kim from Grand View Farm and one of her adorable little lambs. We had a photo shoot for that sweater I’m wearing last weekend. It’s designed out of yarn from her sheep! She’ll have it available in her store and somehow is incorporating it into her fiber CSA as well.

But right now I’m in the editing, fixing math, and doing layout stage…

and yet more yarn

More Yarn arrived over the weekend.

yarn packages

Seriously, when do I think I’ll find time to knit all this? These are for specific designs, not even just packages headed for the stash, nope. They’re sitting on the table in my craft room, pestering me to be wound into cakes. Then they go into the box of Things I’ll Need For That Design I’m Working On. Which reminds me I need to take some inspiration yarn out of that box and put it into the Laundry Basket Of Swatching And Inspiration.

It’s a very complicated system…

Spring, sprang, sprung!

Spring is springing springily up here in VT!* It’s helped along by another spurt of 70 degree weather – which is still a bit out of place, but less so than it was in March. My garden season has officially started:

spinach

with the spinach I over wintered being my first harvest of the season. The peas, broccoli, beets, and lettuce I planted in March have all germinated with decent success. I’ll be putting the frames back over them tonight since we’re due to get a frost.

And I’m running a bit of a botany/genetics experiment in my back yard:

bloodroot

See the bloodroot which was just about to bloom this morning? See the bloodroot leaves behind them, already finished blooming? Both sets are transplants from other gardens. The bloodroot which bloomed last week came up from my parents’ wooded garden. Their seasons usually run about 2-3 weeks ahead of mine. The bloodroot which is probably blooming right now came from my coworker’s garden which is right in the same season/climate as my own. Both plants are now side by side in my garden. This is the third year in a row where the NH plants have bloomed much earlier than VT plants. Although I do believe they’re getting closer in time each year. I’d love to have an explanation for how this works… Note that the bloodroot was smart enough (unlike the daffodils) not to bloom, or even poke its head above the ground, back in March. April is about when I’d expect them to bloom in a normal spring season.

*Believe it or not, my spell/grammar check didn’t have a single issue with this sentence…

Anything is fair game on the blog!

I spent saturday shoveling shit.

coop clean out

Yes, literally. It was time to clean the chicken coop! And the chickens are very happy now.

Not that our coop was particularly bad this year. I’ve really come to love the deep litter method. It sounds fancy, but really it’s just code for “throw another bale of shavings in on top of the mess.” Our coop is 10’x10′ with about 15 birds living there and I added another 9 cubic feet of shavings each month.

Theoretically I’ve heard this helps compost things in the coop and adds warmth to the space. I’m not sure I buy that. Maybe it works that way in Virginia, but up here in VT everything is still freezing solid. That’s why I can’t just go in and shovel it out over the winter.

One bale of shavings is $4 at the feed store, and that price it totally worth the ease and non-stinky-ness of cleaning the coop this weekend. I mean, yes, there was still some stink. But hey, that’s chicken poop for ya. And I dumped the whole lot of it right next to my lawn, so it can’t be that bad…

Instead of composting this year’s waste I’m putting it right to use. We have a 8-10″ drop at the edge of our lawn, it’s leftover from pulling tree stumps and roots (which were about 2 feet from our leech field – eek!) and we’ve been meaning to fill it in for 3 years. I dumped the coop waste over the winter’s food scraps right next to my lawn. Then covered it all temporarily with paving stones to keep the dogs from rolling in it. Next my plan is to cover it with mulch and plant annuals there. NEXT year it should be a lovely garden bed AND be at the height of the grass next to it. Hooray!

Scarves

I’m starting to have a LOT of scarves

pile o scarves

Which is good, because we only have one month left to collect scarves to help fund the high risk breast cancer program.*

If you’re knitting a scarf please try and get it to me before May 14th. If you need my address again just send me an e-mail or drop a note here!

And if you’re just learning about my scarf drive now, you can check out all the details. One month is still plenty of time to knit a scarf!

scarves on a line

*Ok, only one month until my appointment anyway. They collect scarves year ’round. But I don’t plan on going back for another year…