Thursday, April 30, 2009

My Tiny Little Garden

I have a tiny little house and a tiny little yard - so it would make sense to have a tiny little garden, right? This is the first time I've ever tried to grow any sort of vegetables, and I'm pretty excited. Chuck made me two 2x4 garden boxes (with plywood bottoms that have drainage holes) and brought me feet to set them up on. I got some compost from Julie, and then Chuck helped me fill one of the boxes, and I planted a green pepper plant, two jalopeno pepper plants, lettuce, and spinach:
There is a cherry tomato plant in the back left corner, but I think it's going to need to be pulled out and hung also. But I needed to get it out of it's tiny little pot. Then Chuck helped me hang some tomato plants in these "Topsy Turvy" planters:

So I'll be interested to see how it works out. I have one more box to set up - and I'm planning to do some green beans and whatnot in it. Surprisingly I already have sprouts from the seeds (planted a week ago yesterday) and I already have tiny flowers on my hanging tomato plants. So far I'm finding this to be rather fun, and I haven't killed anything yet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekend Dog Working

It was a beautiful weekend - warm, slightly breezy, and just all around nice. Well, maybe it was verging on too hot, but Julie and I managed to get some decent dog working in. We worked the young dogs (Pip, Phoebe, and Nick) on some decent blind outruns - about 225-250 yards, and the lift and part of the fetch were mostly blind to the handler. I was able to see some issues I'd like to address with Nick, and the more I think about it I think we were dealing with two different issues yesterday - inefficient technique in lifting sheep that are glommed on the handler, plus issues with visual barriers.

We were putting Nick in situations he's not had much experience with - blind outruns (although we did do blind outruns last week we switched sides this week), and obstacles near where he'd lift the sheep. It appears that he's struggling to figure out how to lift with obstacles near the set out. He also seems to be becoming slightly too dependent on me to tell him when to turn in on his outrun (possibly a repercussion of my lying him down at top to get his mind right before he lifts) so there's something else there to deal with also.

Another thought is possibly this - we've been working on getting his fetch right, and he's looking really good there. He's more willing to release the pressure and go around to their heads (which he wasn't before). I wonder sometimes if when one fixes a particular weakness if another shows up? Or maybe when the one that's bugging me most is better the next one moves to the top of the list? I dunno.

Anyway, not major deals but something to work on - because it's important to me to have a dog that works right regardless of what we're doing or where we are.

I had several very good sessions with Linc over the weekend. We seem to have found our happy zen place together (for the moment at least) and some of the weird issues that had popped up early on have resolved themselves. After watching this video I feel like maybe I spend way too much time telling him to "lie down". Other than that, I'm very pleased with it.

I promise it's worth watching past the uh... opening. We were trying to figure out the video feature on the camera, and well... taking pictures while recording and talking. Funny stuff. So, here's Linc at 16 months:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Living More Frugally

I am down to one and a half Diet Mtn Dews per day as of today. That is the 16oz bottles, which are my favorite. I have not ripped anyone's head off yet today.

My goal is to get down to one per day - maybe even none. Realistically... one sounds good. I loves me some diet dew (and drinking only one per day will save me $30/month). That's right up there with BCF's and chocolate. I can let go of the BCF's (the plan there is no more than once a month... the days of three a week are gone, and my behind is thanking me for it) and I'm pretty much going to nix chocolate - all but a small bit of the good stuff. Don't you worry Ben - I'm not completely dumping you, or Jerry either. We just can't spend as much time together. We needed a break anyway. We can see other people for a while, right?

Anyway, I've revamped my budget - cutting out a few things, and cutting WAY back on others. However, the place I have the biggest wiggle room is my grocery budget. My friend, Jen at always amazes me with her frugal ways - and I've gotten many ideas at her suggestion. I believe she has some great frugal living links on her blog - check it out. I'm going to try the coupon thing again (with more dedication this time) and I've also been reminded of shopping at Aldi - which generally will save me about 50% when compared to my usual grocery store.

I'm getting ready to plant my first ever (tiny little) garden here in a few days. Thanks be to Chuck Coble for making me two quite lovely garden boxes to go on my patio. I hope there will be enough to freeze or can some. This is assuming something actually grows. Hah!

I went through the house at lunch today and unplugged every appliance with a clock that wasn't in use (like my alarm clock) - along with my spare cordless phone charger. What does one human need with two phone chargers in a house as small as mine? I unplugged the microwave, two VCR's, and also turned off the clock on the stove. I'm setting the thermostat up at about 78 this summer again.

I'm cooking more, eating out (far) less, and the suggestion from my good friend Sandy has been that for Girls' Nights to covered dish to each others' houses. I'm game! I'm also open for any suggestions, so anyone who has any I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

True Confessions

I folded. Crushed, folded, succumbed, stumbled, sinned (greatly sinned), whatever you want to call it, I folded. Bacon Cheese Fries became my close companion yet again this week. It was sick. The carnage was unbelievable. I even tried praying that the calories wouldn't count. It seems like if I were God (and I'm glad I'm not) and some chick was praying to me that the calories in BCFs wouldn't count, I'd laugh and make them count double. He's God, he can do what he wants.

Maybe I should try making out an Ode to My Found Pounds, and they'll do the opposite and go away.

What, no? It doesn't work that way? I guess not - if I'm going to keep eating Bacon Cheese Fries. I really have to get serious and stay serious. It's a good thing I threw away all of my bigger jeans.

PS - Happy Easter

Busting at the Seems

Friday, April 10, 2009

Upset Tummy Relief

Julie and I were out shopping at my favorite small health food co-op, and I was telling her about Slippery Elm Bark powder, aka upset tummy relief in my house. It can be found in many different forms (from a coarse powder, to a find powder, to hunks of the actual bark) but my preference is the fine powder.

Slippery Elm Bark works to soothe the lining of the intestines. It is one of my go-to things, and I try to never be without it. Often I'll mix in some pro-biotics as well. Here's how you use it: 1/4 tsp per 10 lbs of dog, into a bowl. Stir in some water until it's a gooeygluey mucousy like substance, and then feed it to the dog. I generally give it on top of sticky white rice, but I have a few dogs that will eat it by itself.

According to Nick, however, it's "Not Food" when given by itself. It's sort of barely food when given with other things. In the above picture he was afraid I would make him eat some. So, try it next time YOU have an upset tummy, or one of your dogs does (the below linked article gives preparations for humans ). I'd be interested to hear the results. I know the results for MY dogs. To read up some on it go here:

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

AHA! Moments

It's interesting how the mind processes things. Robin is such a patient sort - and *finally* on Saturday she got through to me so I could help Nick better. I've been SO busy watching my dog that I often forget to watch the sheep. Sometimes I *feel* the sheep but same thing - forget to watch them. He doesn't always feel his sheep, so we've been a bit bumbling at times and often find ourselves frustrated with each other.

Robin and I were standing at the top of the hill, and Nick was bringing the sheep up the hill to us. At one spot I lost sight of my dog, but not the sheep. It was in that one AHA moment that I was able to focus on the sheep and help my dog be where he needed to be simply by watching my sheep. The next day I worked on putting him out to the side to hold the line by catching the eye of the lead sheep - as opposed to working the whole group from behind by his body position. To my surprise he decided to PUT himself out there, and I could just see his head coming down and the eye that I have always thought was in there was coming out.
So to a certain degree we BOTH had AHA moments.

It was a good weekend. And yes, that is a crouching Nick. He's so leggy that even when he crouches he looks tall. HAH!

We worked on getting Linc's flanks shaped more correctly. It's in there, but he sometimes can be resistant to input - and a lot of times he gets tense and whereas someone with experience can nip it in the bud often he's all ratcheted up by the time I realize I need to do something. Usually by that time we're butting heads. So we worked on getting him to bend out appropriately, and to keep his attitude right. To keep MY attitude right also.

We're probably going to stay relatively close to home this month, and I probably won't do any trials until Dr. Ben's at the end of May. I can't believe that just a year ago was mine & Nick's first pro-novice run at Dr. Ben's. In a few weeks I have a good friend from college coming up to visit, and Tom Forrester is coming down that same weekend to shear at Julie's. I never miss a chance to hang with Tom. I hope to get Linc out to Julie's a good bit over the next few weeks though - I think he's going to start coming along.

Photos by Robin French

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ode to My Love

O' my dearest love, how I've treasured thee in such sweet moments of gluttony
Thou hast given me great delight in thy goldeny goodness
The crisp, the salt, oh the gooey potatoey delight shall forever be with me
When we shall again meet I do not know
All I know is that in this parting sorrow I have truly loved thee with unwavering depths
Goodbye for now, my greatest love, as tonight will be our last commune for a while
My dreams will forever be filled with your crunchiness
My thighs will forever carry the marks of my devotion
I am bereft at our parting, but I know that we shall be together again
I cannot long be without you, but for now I must
My buttocks depend on it

** picture from

The Many Faces of June

June, Junie, Junia Petunia... my funny faced dog. Life dealt her some very bad hands early on, but she's been given a different life. She has a lot of fears, but she has a lot of joys too. We've come to an agreement that she can work on the days that she asks me to, but that I'll try not to ask her to give more than she really can. That's OK.

Photo by Robin French, by the way. At any rate, she'll never be much of a sheepdog, but I'm honored and blessed that she gives me what she can, particularly considering that when she came to live with me she wouldn't even give sheep a second look. She got me started with my passion for sheep, and for that I'm grateful. As far as sheepdogs go she is what she is. I love her.

She's coming up on her ninth birthday. It's hard to believe, though, because she's still quite the spunky gal. April the 2nd marked our fourth year together. She's all about some frisbees and balls, and anything that can be thrown.

One of the challenges she faces, though, is thunderphobia. Her blind panic has decreased, and overall she's doing quite a bit better, but early on it was bad... very bad. We had a consultation with Animal Communicator Coryelle Kramer last week (you can also find her blog via my blogroll), who is also certified as a Bach Flower Therapist. She gave me some Bach Flower suggestions for June, and June has surprised me with some new things. It was a very neat session. June generally runs blindly at the first sign of rain, thunder, or lightening. She initially ran harder, and more blindly, and AWAY from me. We've made progress in that department, and generally if something happens in the night to scare her she trots from my bedroom to the living room, and back (and the sound of her footfalls on the carpet wakes me). However, after one day on the Bach Flower that Coryelle suggested for us she did something different. The other night it started to lightening, and instead of trotting around the house she came and got in the bed with me and laid down. I woke to her licking my arm. That's pretty huge for June as she never sleeps with me.

Anyway, a dog working update will follow later, but I wanted to mention this while it was on my mind. Happy Fourth Year Junie.