Saturday, May 21, 2016

The training of Cyrus

In case you don't make it through the whole story below, let me explain that the crate training is supposed to be for Cyrus. First, the Monkey Cat was in there investigating. Then, Woody decided he would take a nap in there. Cyrus was in there for all of about 2 minutes. It's a gradual learning process...for both of us...

In an effort to control the use of the house as his bathroom, I took Cyrus to a trainer on Thursday. I have always believed that I could do without a trainer. I have read way too many training books, and gleaned all I need to know from them, or thought I did. I learned the most from the book The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training by my former Rowan classmate, Pam Dennison. But all of the books that I have are focused on training a dog, not untraining a dog. None of them had a solution for adult dog messing in the house that did not involve the use of a crate.

So I knew going into this that the trainer, Teresa, was going to suggest a crate. A conversation with Pam on the phone also had that as the solution. But I have been avoiding bringing the crate back in the house for lots of reasons. It takes up too much room. There's no good place for it that isn't by a window. After the first few weeks of messes, Cyrus behaved himself for the next 3 months. The crate was full of young chickens out by the coop. Then Cyrus made several messes again, I retrieved the crate, cleaned off all the chicken mess only to have him behave again for 3 or 4 more weeks. I thought the ducks right outside the window were causing him to get excited and that was causing the problem. We got rid of the ducks and he was good again for several more weeks. More messes...

Anyway, I have been fighting this losing battle for too long. I did not have much hope that I would learn anything useful besides being convinced to use the crate, but Teresa had some good advice that I am going to record here for my benefit. I expect I will forget too much if I don't write it down.

So here's what I learned.

Don't make a fuss when leaving or coming back in the house. This is probably my #1 mistake. I always tell pooches I am "going to work" and give them cookies when I am leaving. I make just as big a fuss when coming in (minus the cookies). If Cyrus left any messes, I scold him for the mess and make both dogs go outside, presumably to make a mess out there. If there is no mess I praise him and tell him what a good boy he was.

Teresa says do nothing/say nothing on leaving or re-entering. Just act as if they are not even there. This solves one of the mysteries: why is The Husband allowed in and out without any complaints from the pooches? Because he does it exactly right and makes no fuss at all (on any of the 100 times a day he goes in and out the door).

Give Cyrus more boundaries. Sounds like what you would say to the parents of a 3YO child. Makes perfect sense. Perhaps I took the positive training a bit to the extreme. Always praising him when he was being good, but not really defining what the "being good" part was.

Teresa says even if he always behaves when I am with him in the house, give him a certain spot where he should go lie down when told. Leave the crate door open and have him go in there sometimes for no good reason other than I said so. Take him for "power walks" instead of allowing him to sniff and pee on everything out there. Pee when we go out the door, then no sniffing, no peeing for the rest of the walk.

Give Cyrus more exercise—mental and physical. This is the most time-consuming and definitely the most obvious solution. I knew this. I will just have to try harder. Apparently once-a-week runs up at Don's house are not enough.

Are ya ready for more pooch visits, Don? Put some more beer in the fridge.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Watching it snow on my baby trees

Snow in the middle of May—really?

What happened to global warming?

Woody was puzzled as well.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Friday the 13th Rainbow

My last post was Friday the 13th and I had photos on there from Wednesday. Now I am posting the photos I took on Friday... At least I have had 4 posts in the last week—that might be a record for me since back when we were building the house.

We have had many rainbows over Lester's Flat since we bought the property up here, but not so many recently. They are almost always in the early evening, which places the rainbow in the eastern sky over Panther Mountain on the other side of Route 28. Friday evening, around 7:30, it started raining (again) and then the sun came back through the clouds. This one was not a double rainbow, but one of the largest ones I have seen. (I wonder what determines the size of the rainbow?) I wish I could have captured all of it in one photo, but that didn't happen.

The rain was good for all the new trees, but bad for the weekend's weather. Today we have a cloudy day, lots of wind, and a high of 48°. It's going down to 32° tonight. In May. I might even start up the woodstove again. I thought we were done with all that!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Sun setting, dogs surveying

The tree planting was a blast, and extremely exhausting for the 2 old farts who live here. My muscles are still in recovery. These photos are from the day of planting. The boys and I were resting our weary bones in the backyard, watching the sun go down.

As partners with the Trees for Tribs folks, we are supposed to water the plants weekly throughout the summer and fall. Not so easily done when the longest hose we have will probably only reach about 5 of the blueberry bushes closest to the house. So we are thankful for the grey rainy day today.

It gave our painter a holiday from painting the trim on the house (you can see the evidence of his power-washing the porch in the photos) but it is also giving us a nice break from our tree maintenance duties. From what I know of gardening, the most important time to give new plants a good soak is right after planting.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Verizon fails me again

Bad day all around for customer service... The only ones who came through for me were Marie at the Richfield Springs Post Office, and Rachel here in Schuyler Lake. Thank you ladies for saving my totally destroyed package of Coffee House t-shirts from being shipped back to California. I will have my battle with tomorrow, if they ever get back to me.

And my internet was out for most of the day (thanks a lot, Verizon!).

But I can supply you with 2 photos of yesterday's successful tree-planting here at Lester's Flat. It was great weather and great fun. All that plastic gleaming in the sun doesn't really look so spectacular until you imagine it all greened up and pretty. Of course, that might not be until next year, but that's OK. You get what you pay for. We "paid" one box of granola bars and some bananas and oranges. Pretty good deal, I think.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Watching the painter, week of changes

First pic: we are all watching the painter on the front porch. Second and third: we got over the painter on the porch and went back to being our goofy selves. Last pic: WoodMan, always the poser.

We really should not need the trim painted on the house and garage after 6 years, but we do. Lots of peeling paint, some rotting wood. We are also having the much-abused porches resealed. The siding is cement-based, and came pre-painted. No problems with the siding.

Our favorite builder is coming out this week to inspect the problem parts. All of this trim work was done while Mr. Builder was on another job and not here to supervise The Guys. I expect he will make good on what he can.

It is good practice leaving all of the boys home alone while the painter is out there power-washing, sanding, painting right outside the windows... Good practice right before the big day of tree planting here at Lester's Flat (which, BTW, is the official name of our conservation easement). Trees for Tribs and the Otsego Land Trust are showing up with as many volunteers as they can rally for planting day tomorrow. If that doesn't send the dogs into a frenzy, I don't know what will!

The weather is supposed to be a perfect 70° and partly sunny. Can't wait to see the finished project!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

And the fog is rolling in

Not especially typical weather for up here—a cold start to spring after a mild muddy winter. Yesterday it was raining and chilly, until I left for work when the sun came out and the fog rolled in.

The fog probably came from that bit of sun and warmth hitting the cold water in the lake and creek. The lake is off to the right, and the creek runs left to right through this photo. The construction equipment (middle right) is stored in the Firemen's Field while they are replacing the bridge over the creek on Rte 28.

I also updated the header photo at the top of the page. You can see the new red goat shed in front of the old one. The goats are so far enjoying their new digs. They will be until David Bowie gets old enough to have his way with the girls, and then we will have an all-girl goat shed (the new one) and the smaller buck shed for Bowie, Jack and Rico.

This same day I was out at the chicken coop filling their water and giving them some cracked corn (or is it corn crack?). I took advantage of these few minutes of sun (with fog in the background) to snap some pics of the 6 new girls we got from our Greek friend Joseph. There are 2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes (black and white—only 1 in the photo, the other not feeling photogenic), 1 Golden Laced Wyandotte (black and gold), and 1 Black Australorp. The other light colored hen in the 2 photos is one of our blue eggers.

I am still missing the ducks. So is Cyrus.

And this photo is from the little Civic that could. Just coming home from work in Cooperstown, it hit 200,000 miles. Go Civic!

Monday, April 25, 2016

And then there were none

A Duck Story

We were down to 3 remaining ducks, all drakes. I was thinking about finding them some girls this spring, but Cyrus was just so crazy over the ducks, and making me crazy, that I put them on Craig's List for sale. There was someone interested, but he could not pick them up until May.

Right about this time, the 3 boys decided they wanted to be free. They stopped coming back to the duck house at night. The first or second night they were out, something got the grey boy. A few weeks later, this past Friday night, something got the black one (the Cayuga). Only the Mallard-looking one was left. He allowed me to capture him yesterday morning. In the same crate that all of our ducks and chickens and even pigs have been transported in, we carted him off to a "farm in the country". I know someone who has a 300-acre farm, with ducks, right on the Susquehanna River.

We were both sorry to see him go, our last duck, but it was only a matter of time before he met the same fate as all of the others.

A Duck History in Photos
April 2013: Purchased the first 8 mystery brown ducks that were supposed to be Cayugas.
October 2013: Not Cayugas, the first 8 were 5 males and 3 females, and the poor girls were getting beat up by the boys.
July 2014: Purchased 2 female mystery grey ducks to even out the numbers.
August 2014: One of the original brown girls disappears and comes back with 8 adorable babies. You can see the back of her neck is all scarred from being one of too few females.

April 2015: Somewhere in between the last photo and this one, we sold the original 7, keeping the 2 greys and the female with her babies. Everybody was happy until something killed all but 2 of them. The remaining 2 were a drake from the babies, and one of the grey girls. They were a good pair, but decided about this time that they didn't want to live with us anymore. They came back for food during the day, for awhile, and eventually stopped coming back altogether.
May 2015: I took some of the eggs from the pair as soon as I realized they were not coming back. A neighbor hatched 3 of them in his incubator. One died right after hatching, and the 2 remaining were both drakes. These pics are from hatch day and 10 days after.
July 2015: We purchased a pair of (filthy, smelly) pretty Cayugas—the kind of ducks I always wanted. They are native to NY State, mostly black with an iridescent beetle green/blue hue to their feathers. Somewhere a few months after we got them, Cyrus killed the female (and 4 chickens) and that brings us back to the beginning of the story with the 3 boy ducks.
So goodbye for now my ducks. We hope to get more some day, but not until the big black dog gets over himself, and I can finally catch up on my sleep...

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A funny story and a funny egg

It's just a coincidence that Woody is the star of this and the last post. The other animals are equally interesting, he is just more available, and he does enjoy posing for me.

The funny story: At the end of March I was on eBay selling a rifle bayonet that used to be my grandfather's. While I was checking on the auction, I also decided to look for a piece of fabric to replace the cushion on the chair in the living room. The dogs, with their big long toenails, sit there more than we humans with our cushy butts. The material was wearing thin. I found a perfect color and nice strong material to match the pillow that is on the back of the chair. This was a chair that I trash-picked from my neighbor in NJ. He had put it out to the curb because there was a problem with it (tiny worm holes in the wood) and the place he had ordered it from just sent him a new one. He kept the removable back cushion just in case he ever needed a replacement.

So the funny part (at least I think it's funny) is that I reupholstered the seat cushion with the new fabric just about 10 days before Jim decided to send me the back cushion with the old fabric on it. I have had this chair about 10 years and he mails me the big cushion all the way from Virginia just after I change the fabric. Luckily the pillow cover I had on there pretty easily fit the new/old cushion. Conveniently, the old pillow that was inside was pretty much near death, having been a present from Mom when I went off to college... No need to tell you how long ago that was!

So Jim, this post is for you. Thanks for reuniting the chair with its cushion. As you can see, Woody is quite pleased.

The funny egg is just a mystery. How does a blue egg shell completely wrap itself around a brown egg laid by a different chicken? Some crafty hen with a glue gun?