Thursday, March 29, 2018

He is loved


With everything else going on I was surprised that I actually made Charlie's puppy appointment.
Dr. Grimm of Grimm's Tails had been one of the last vets to treat Mr. Morris.
She was curious and examined Charlie from head to toe. He got his shots and was still happy to be with Dr. Grimm.

The doc left the room and said she'd be back.
Soon she reappeared.

"There is only one problem that I can see with Charlie," she said. I held my breath.
She scooped Charlie up and held him.
"...the only problem? He isn't mine!" she quipped. "I really like him!"

The photo isn't great, but you get the idea.

Charlie is doing just fine. He has gained 3 lbs in 5 weeks and enjoys playing in the yard. Here he is playing and enjoying himself. Note the cord behind him. Sometimes Charlie doesn't always want to come when called.

I call him and when he decides to run and play 'catch me if you can', I simply step on the cord.

He is doing fine. He loves playing fetch and laying in the sun or sitting on the porch with me while I read a book.

I am really happy he came into our lives.

And...he is

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Meanwhile at the Farm

Here is hubby with his new spring haircut and beard trim visiting with his mom who is in rehab for a fall she had at the beginning of the month. The staff a Vernon Manor have been stellar. She's had intense Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy along with decent meals and her meds have been monitored.

The difference from before her fall to now is pretty amazing. Yet the woman of course is set in her ways. She is set to be released on Good Friday. I am of the opinion that she needs 24 hr supervision. Mostly because we've discovered that her mobility is still and issue [but good enough for Medicare standards] and her memory is a huge issue [but not 'bad' enough to warrant skilled care].
Medicare will only pay for up to 30 days in a Skilled Nursing Facility, thus the other reason for her release.

That is all on that front.

Hank is now a confirmed steer. He and his mom Stella will be moving to a larger pasture on Good Friday. They will share a fence line with Stella's old pasture mates. Hank will be 3 months old tomorrow. He and Charlie share a birthdate.

After a few weeks of being reacquainted with a fence in between them, they will go into the larger dry lot to await pasture rotation once the woods pastures begin to green up.

I've spent the past few days removing worn out soft braid wire and replacing it. All five of of pastures now that are in rotation have been 'Dexterized'. The Dexters clean the woods of berry briers and brambles along with eating ragweed and burdock.
The mules eat what the Dexters don't and we end up with a great way of keeping the woods and noxious weeds under control.

The 'other' usual suspects. The red headed sisters, the bay horse we call 15 and Fred hovering in back. Missing is the grey mule, Mica who was over eating hay in the feeder. I'd just finished up a session with the shedding blade and I am again their best-est ever friend.
Sundance is on the right, she is the younger mule who will get her education this year.

I worked with Charlie in the cold wind to string new wire and test the fence. I needed one lower line for the Dexter cattle.
Charlie is a very distracted helper. He was more interested in the mud he could get into and chewing on clumps of grass.

I had his new super-light weight cord on him so he couldn't just take off.
He made multiple trips with me to the large shed and back to the pasture. The cold wind didn't seem to bother him as he was 'busy' discovering the world.

The pastures had been set up for equine. I'd come up with a rotation plan and my husband actually agreed to it.
Since his stroke last May, I've been left to more and more of the decisions.

The remainder of the Dexter herd will be trucked out and sold at local auction. The two large bulls we have will be sent off for meat and sold.

I found a new cord for Charlie. It is super lightweight. However he doesn't seem to mind dragging it or allowing me to guide him with it as a leash. The new cord is a piece of my clothesline. It works very well.

However, Charlie is a master at getting into small places and thinking it is a game.
He is still very young so I don't get too upset with him. He is still a pup. The outdoor world is a huge adventure and his acute sense of smell leads him astray...well, astray in only human terms. If I had his sense of smell I'd probably have to investigate every mouse, deer, rabbit, and squirrel smell I came across too.

This weekend ought to be a wild one. My Kenosha Gang is coming up Thursday night to spend the weekend. We'll be coloring eggs and doing some farm work. I don't know what I'd do without these helping hands!

Charlie always seems to come up with a good solution for busy days. Cuddle up and take a nap!

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Spring and Kids...puppies and all that!

Kid goats that is!

Every play room needs kid goats right? Well, they were born early in the morning outside and were shivering. So they were brought in the house. Mom will be a milker.
These are LaManchas, those fun looking goats with 'no' ears.

The 'kids' will be bottle fed so my neighbors are learning a new skill. Goat milking and bottle feeding the kids. I know that bottle feeding kid goats makes them much easier to handle and they bond with the humans much easier.

I'd show you the human kids and the goat kids together, but I don't have any photos of that yet!

However, I can show you a photo from many years ago...
These are my sons who are grown now.

I can't wait to see more of Lily and Sophia. I have a soft spot for new born anything!

Yesterday was a busy day. Off to the nursing home with edema slippers for mom in law. Eeeks, they had triple wrapped her legs and feet so the slippers ... almost fit but not quite.

Early afternoon was farrier time. Sundance behaved like a charm. She has been a bit 'bouncy' in the past. I am hoping that all the extra footwork I did with her loose in the pasture has paid off.
Sundance will start her training as soon as the large square bales are out of the round pen.

Hank is now a steer. Next week he and Stella will move into a pasture next to the other Dexters so they can become re-acquainted through the fence before putting them back together.

The cattle and the equine are starting to shed. Who would have thought that Stella would love to be curried?

Charlie is doing great. He had no hikes yesterday but we did play fetch in the yard and he got to meet the farriers. They liked him.

Dixie and Charlie helped me on Friday afternoon while I cleaned up one of the pastures and had a very small brush fire to burn up burdock and branches.
Dixie showed her good temperament again by being docile and patient when Charlie annoyed her.

After our busy day Rich and I had waffles for supper and then relaxed and were in bed early.

The daffodils and hyacinths next to the east side of the house are starting to come up and open.
It is only March, but things feel like we are whirling towards spring at a high rate of speed.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Conversations with Charlie

The sun was coming up. Charlie was snoozing in my lap as I had my second cup of coffee.
I remembered that I was supposed to run to the local gas station and grab some milk for breakfast.

I grabbed a camera and tucked Charlie under one arm and his little bed under the other. I was going to test how well Charlie liked to ride in the car. I hadn't had him in a car since I'd brought him home.

I was rather surprised that he actually sat in his little bed and watched me drive. I only had to push him back once.
I pulled into the station and locked Charlie in the car telling him to 'stay'. Oh, I know he had no idea what I told him. But I was rather surprised that he in fact was still sitting in his bed when I returned.

On our way back across the bridge, I stopped. This was one of my favorite places to watch the sun come up. The trees reflected beautifully on Blackbottom Creek.
I parked and took Charlie on leash over to the bridge. Some Canada Geese flew in and landed. Charlie looked up at me. The scene was breathtaking.
I took some photos and then picked up Charlie. He looked up at me.
"Charlie, wasn't that the most amazing thing you've ever seen?"

Well, Charlie didn't really answer.

I talked to him as I drove home. I discussed the situation with Mom in Law and the Nursing Home, I told him about rehab and then I stopped on the ridge and told him about the Eagles soaring in the morning light. He was more impressed with the Eagles, I think.

I'd planned on going to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve in the afternoon. I couldn't leave Charlie at home. Rich was feeling tired and didn't want to deal with a puppy.

"Hey Charlie. Want to try another car ride? Want to go to the KVR ponds and watch waterfowl?"
I picked up his pet crate and Charlie suddenly took a keen interest in what I was doing.
"Is that a yes?"
Charlie trotted next to the crate.
He followed me along all the way to the Subaru. I gently picked him up and set him in the crate.

Rich had suggested that for a 20 minute drive, Charlie should be in the crate. What would happen if he suddenly jumped down by my feet while I was negotiating a nasty curve on 131. I hate to admit it, Rich was right.

Charlie was not happy with the arrangements. But he settled in after a few miles and was quiet until we reached KVR. I opened up the crate. Charlie wasn't sure of what to do.

I attached the cord and shouldered my back pack. I could hear more Canada Geese in the distance.

"Charlie. The guess are at the ponds. Let's go. Have you seen these guys? They are huge! I can't wait! How about you. I have treats and I brought water too for you.
Oops, there is a huge black mucky hole.
Let me grab you.
Hey, yup.

I prattled on and on as we walked up the partially paved old 131 Trail. Charlie trotted ahead. Ahead I saw a lady walking towards us. We stopped so Charlie could greet her. Puppies are always worth conversation with strangers.

Charlie greeted the woman with wiggles and wags. She knelt down and pet him. He wiggled harder.

On we traveled. I told Charlie about the sky and the colors and how the world would change in just a month or so. There would be the sound of green leaves blowing in the warm breezes. The grass would be green, wild flowers would blossom. I told him to listen to the geese, they were going crazy.

We got to the pond. The geese were making a lot of noise. I sat on the bench and Charlie asked to sit in my lap. The sun was warm.

I sat at the edge of the blind in the sunlight.

I whispered to Charlie. And we sat quietly watching the geese.

We eventually left and headed back towards where I'd parked. I knew Rich would be waiting for our return.

Charlie and I talked about things. Nothing in particular, just things.
I think he listened.
No matter.
He won't tell on me. He won't disclose my secrets. Charlie is a good guy.

On our way back to the car Charlie greeted another photographer and we gave him directions to the 'blind'. Just before we got to the parking lot a class of 4th graders swarmed us. They were out with their teacher to see the spring birds.

Charlie was a champ. He didn't get too excited over all of the kids mooning over him.

I knelt down next to him when we got to the car.
He wagged his tail.

He went back in his crate for the ride home.

He slept. I drove.

Conversations with Charlie are one sided, but at least I feel like he is listening to me.
And that makes me smile inside and out.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Whistling Dixie...

How do you teach a dog to come when called?

I really did know this answer when I'd gotten Charlie. I'd just forgotten that I did this. I mean, I'd been calling dogs with a whistle from my own lips for so many years I've never even thought about it.
The year I married my husband, he had hound puppies that he wanted me to train for handling. The pups didn't have names and I couldn't help but want to play with them.
I found that a whistle got their attention.

Years later with Morris and other hounds that I raised, I'd do the same.

Dixie excels at coming to a whistle. She has never ignored it. Not ever.

I left the cord at home, but took a rope anyway [in case I have to put one of the rascals on a leash].
I let Dixie loose and Charlie followed. The idea is to let the big dog help the little dog figure out how to come when I called or whistled. Unconsciously I used the whistle anyway. When Charlie isn't paying attention, a sharp whistle brings his head up to find the source.

Charlie was learning two things. Come on the whistle and pay attention to where Dixie was and what she was doing.

Charlie could learn by example. After all, Dixie learned by following my jack russell, Morris.

Rich had a huge concern about Charlie being so small and Dixie being so huge.
Dixie has a very gentle temperament. She is also good with commands and will 'leave it be' if I ask her to.

Here Dixie is with Charlie after he tumbled. He squeaked and she came over to investigate. Finding nothing wrong with the wee one, she trotted off and Charlie followed.

I spent most of my time letting the dogs explore. When they got so far away, I'd simply whistle.

Dixie would turn around and trot to me then sit. Charlie would come on the run. Dixie's 'treat' for this simple command is lots of petting and cooing about how good she is. Charlie got his 'loving up' too. He wagged and wiggled and tried to avoid getting stepped on by Dixie.

Charlie learned a bit more about the creek. He seems to be saying to Dixie, "It is so unfair for you to have such long legs! That water would be up to my chest!"

Here is an example of calling the dogs with a whistle. Both dogs had been sniffing the interesting leaves and rocks when I whistled.

Charlie has to run while Dixie only ambles. But it is a fine sight to see. Both dogs coming without hesitation.

We will have many more short hikes where Dixie teaches Charlie to come and follow. Charlie's confidence is growing like he is.

He is adventurous and has a huge heart.

The whistle really does work. It works so much better than shouting a name at a dog all of the time.
And Dixie is a good training tool to have. She enjoys the outings too. No one loses this way.

Big Dog
Little Dog

Monday, March 19, 2018

On the Ropes

So sorry to bore you all. But this is a way I can keep track of my 'tiny' dog training. I can see what I try and what may work for Charlie.
He can be a rascal.
Morris always without fail followed me like a lamb when he was a pup.
Charlie tends to decide that I am not worthy of following once in a while. I think he has an excellent nose and so many things are so new to him.

I am being super patient. Our walks are very short and in areas that he can safely be loose.
He still comes almost without fail when I call him in a large open area with no distractions.
Areas that are packed with deer smell, raccoon, and other wild critters are so distracting!

Rich said he'd make me a nice cord for Charlie.

Well when we got home from visiting his mom in the nursing home, Charlie was full of energy.
I needed to water the cattle, the bulls, and other creatures. And Charlie needed the exercise.

I grabbed my old training cord and hooked it to his collar. I tied the other end to my belt loop.

Now I had both hands free and could carry some water to Stella. Charlie would just have to follow. I walked slowly and asked him to come along. He trotted along side of me and would once in a while pick up the cord with his teeth.
Just one week ago he had a fit if a cord was on his collar and he came to the end of it.
We solved that by putting him out on a tie out under close supervision often on the nice days. Just time enough for him to figure out that he was yanking on himself.

Today he never let the cord get tight on him. I bumped him with a shift of my hip and called. He came running along.

Charlie was not bothered by the cord at all and enjoyed helping me with the chores. Cords and puppies along with hoses make for interesting entanglements.

And then there is the BIG Face Off with Black Bart.

Charlie decided that the big black thing that was huffing at him was not anything that he wanted to play with. After one good look, Charlie turned away and decided to enjoy himself by...

Rolling in the hay chaff that had gathered from where I'd cut bales all winter while feeding them out. He made quite the show of it and enjoyed himself immensely.

He never missed a beat when I called his name. He never got distracted while I was doing chores. He followed like an old pro. Though I am sure that would not have been the case without the cord today.
I would have been chasing him all around.

So I can establish a new routine with Charlie and the cord. Our 'walk' with the watering and the haying took around 45 minutes. Charlie ran or trotted to keep up with me.

We look forward to many great adventures together.

Off tomorrow to see Oncology at the VA for Rich's checkup. Hoping for continued good blood work and a doctor saying... 'It looks good, see you in four months.'

First Flower

Marsh Marigold found on March 17th.

I think this is the earliest I've found them.
This is a large spring that empties into the creek and always has the first Marsh Marigolds and the first Skunk Cabbage plants poke up. It is a warm spring and has never frozen over!

Larger view from 2016 on April 17th.

I take this as the first signs of the coming spring.
Yesterday I saw bluebirds!

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Hide n Go Seek?

When is the last time you played hide 'n go seek?
Well I will be 62 this year and it has been a while. When we were kids we played many versions of hide 'n go seek on my Aunt and Uncles' places. The woods were our playground in the summer.

One cousin would be it and the others would hide. One time we used the pony to ride through the woods and seek our hidden cousins.
As we were older we'd ride horses together and end up having to 'hide' from people. It was just a game.
I can recall once being with a cousin in his car and he said he had to hide from the local constable. We took dirt farm roads.

I shouldered my back pack and put on my .22 pistol which I always carry. I grabbed my camo jacket [Camo is the best color, when you get it dirty or muddy it isn't so obvious. Mud stains look natural on them.]

Dixie whined. I had taken Charlie in the morning to get hay from our farmer friend and he's spent an hour playing with the farmer's kids. He was one tuckered puppy.
Dixie came along. Big lumbering, gallumphing Dixie. She whined and ran ahead and then back to me to check on my well being.
I wanted to go to the far end of the valley in PeeWee's to see if the skunk cabbage was poking up yet.

We got to the east end of the valley and I was mildly surprised not to see any skunk cabbage poking up anywhere.
I was also slightly surprised to see all of the 4 Wheeler tracks. Thirteen years ago on Good Friday the man who owned this land died in a 4 wheeler accident. It wasn't actually a 4 wheeler but I think a 5 wheel utility type vehicle.
Anyway, aside from the influx of hunters each deer season, there hasn't been any human generated traffic other than myself for the last 13 years.

The land has grown up in berry briers, multi flora rose, and parsnip. I follow the creek and some of the old cattle trails that are now mostly deer trails.
I'd thought I'd heard 4 wheeler vehicles on the last few Saturdays, now I saw that indeed they had been driving around.
I patted Dixie on the head and told her that we had easier trails now.

We searched for Skunk Cabbage and didn't see any. In a few days I expect they will pop up. Hopefully the people with the 4 wheelers won't crush them on their next foray through.
Skunk Cabbage
We made it to the end of the valley and I paused long enough to take some shots of Awesome Creek running over the rocks.

As I started to walk up the creek with my camera in one hand, I heard the revving of engines somewhere on the ridge above me. 

I felt pretty irritated even though this is not my land [I have the owner's permission to wander wherever I want and whenever I want on this acreage...].
I felt a bit as if I'd been intruded upon. Someone had gotten permission to run their 4 wheelers here. I immediately put away my camera gear and 'tsked' to Dixie. We set off for trails where we wouldn't run into the new comers.

We crossed out of the valley and ducked onto a deer trail that led up the south hillside above the valley. From that vantage point I could see through the trees and a good portion of the valley floor.

Dixie ducked under some multi flora rose bushes. It was a thorny tunnel, I got down low and made it through. Some thorns grabbed my hat and pulled it off. We sat next to a huge old oak and relaxed while peering down the valley.
Two of the guys on 4 wheelers wore helmets. Somehow that made them seem more sinister.
I could hear their shouts as they stopped their machines in the swampy portion of the valley. They revved their engines and held them in the muck while their wheels dug holes and black sticky mud sprayed high into the sky. With shouts, they spun and made donuts and then took off to challenge the stream bed.
I heard one guy shout he'd gotten 'air' and the others followed him.

Soon they took off again, so Dixie and I headed down another trail alongside the valley towards home. I thought they'd gone up the snow mobile trail and towards the cropland.
Imagine my surprise when I heard the machines growling in front of us somewhere. Back into the brush I went, ducking thorns and briers. Dixie trotted behind me. I heard a loud shout and then the engines quit.
I stopped and sat down on a log, pulling Dixie next to me. I commanded her to sit and wrapped my arm around her. 

Just below us the guys were discussing something. Apparently one of them had broken his 4 wheeler. 'Good' I thought. And then I reminded myself that this was NOT my land.
They had a long discussion about tools, shocks, mud, trails, spare parts, damage to their machines...

I decided to move quietly up the hill to the ridge and cross over to my land. I let go of Dixie and started winding my way through the narrow trails. I have to admit it, I was enjoying myself. I felt like a kid in one of my childhood games of Hide 'n Go Seek. Where we would hunt each other as kids in my Uncle's woods. 

Dixie heard the voices below her and I don't know if she found a hot scent or what, but she started trotting down through the brush. I called her quietly, she didn't listen. I couldn't whistle or shout.
I went "tsk tsk tsk cha cha" loudly and started to pat the log next to me. I have no idea why it works, but Dixie turned around and came at her rambling trot to me.
I loved her up and we wound our way up to the wild berry patch.

I know this land like it is my yard. I've wandered on it for 22 years. I passed the patch and headed under the giant oak, through the fence and on to our land.
We made it home without incident.

I heard the 4 wheelers fire up in the valley and about an hour later I could see hear the diesel engine of the truck coming on the road above our house. I glanced up from my yard work and watched through the bare trees as the shape of a truck with 4 4 wheelers turned the corner and headed out.

Hide 'n Go Seek.
It still was a good game.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Big Creek

That was the title of one of the Morris books I'd done a few years ago.

However, I felt it appropriate for our Charlie Adventure yesterday. I'd call it more like The Big Creek Plunge.

Our creek is very small, sometimes it can be ankle deep with little pools that are up to knee deep. On my neighbor's land there are some nice pools with muck for bottoms.
On my land, the creek is mostly rock.

So I asked Charlie if he was up for an adventure. I swear he is already figuring out when I am going to go for a walk or hike. I used to have to put Morris in his crate because he'd run in circles and whine like crazy when I put together my camera bag.
I negotiated the electric fences and the cattle while holding onto Charlie, when we got to the edge of the summer pasture, I set him down and headed down the trail into the woods.
I had an enthusiastic pup on my tail.

The woods are so full of wonderful distractions. I found out that Charlie has a nose for deer tracks. As we went further into the woods, Charlie took off suddenly and went exploring around a big hollow log.
Charlie is tiny and critters could live in these logs, I snatched him by the tail and pulled him out.
He didn't appreciate it, but I was able to get him to come to me after I put him back down.
I picked him up again when we got close to the bank where the drop off to the creek is rather steep.
His first look at the water was pretty neat. He was cautious and curious.
The water was tasty and he kept licking at it.

The whole world of Awesome Creek was his to behold.
He was not too impressed.

We continued on and pretty soon he was climbing rocks and roots in order to follow me. We stopped at the little rock 'steps' to sit and enjoy some warm sunlight.
I set up the camera and tripod to take a few long exposures with the ND filter. Charlie took that moment to assist by climbing onto my legs.
Oh. Be still my little boney heart.
Charlie seemed quite content to warm his feet on my pants. When he got bored, he decided to walk off and explore the ice and water.
Soon, Charlie's confidence was soaring. He began running ahead of me and climbing rocks.
I felt like a new mother watching her child do daring things on the playground. I found myself talking to him just like a mom.
"Now be careful Charlie, don't fall off that rock! Oh! Hey, watch it! Now Charlie..."
I realized that my running comments had no affect on his curiosity and that I just needed to be quiet and watch him.

Charlie ran ahead of me and hit some slushy ice/snow mix. He lost his balance and plunged headfirst into one of those knee deep pools.

I reached down and scooped him out. He sputtered with water dripping off from his face, he gave me a look and didn't make a sound. I unzipped my jacket and stuffed Mr. Wet Pup into it,  settled my backpack onto my shoulders and used my sweatshirt sleeve to wipe off his face.

Charlie nestled in and didn't ask to get down.
We learned some important things on our adventure.
Charlie is scrappy and curious, just like most pups. He quickly figured out that the warm jacket was a fine place to warm up and view the world.
If something is big and frightening, then RUN to HER! She will save you!

By the time we got home, Charlie had recovered fully from his big plunge. He entertained my husband before passing out.

Charlie survived his first adventure in the Big Creek.

All is well.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Tough as Nails

The first time I took Charlie for a little walk just a week or so ago, I had my doubts that he would ever be able to go for hikes with me.
I mean, his legs are so short! He seems so tiny and well, frankly sort of fragile in a way.

However. I learned different on yesterday's morning walk.

Here is Charlie in the Merry Meadow. The world looks rather huge doesn't it?

Charlie's view...

The meadow's grasses and weeds are a tangled mess now that it isn't pastured any more. I followed some old beaten down trails through the weeds.
I was playing hide 'n go seek with Charlie.
He'd get distracted and I'd move forward and squat down. I'd whistle for him and call and then wait.

Pretty soon I could hear his little bell and he'd come charging through the weeds, leaping and dodging. When a weed knocked him over, he'd roll and get back up and charge again.

Charlie is no wuss. His short legs are powerful. He can make some incredible jumps for his size.

He is impressive to say the least.

Charlie doesn't seem to have that Little Dog attitude. He just is.
And that is good enough for us.