Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lazy by the woodstove...all snowed in!

Hope that everyone had a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or other holiday of your choice! I spent so much time writing out Christmas cards, that I gave up blogging for the holidays...

We had about 4 inches of snow for Christmas day, just enough to make it pretty. And then we got socked with what is now about 2 feet, but it's hard to measure because the wind is so strong that there are drifts of 5 feet or more. As soon as the blessed Mr. Kelley snowblows the driveway, or as soon as the frigid farm folks blaze a path to the chicken coop, the wind pushes the snow right back in place.

I did a short weekend in NJ just before Christmas, and managed quite a few visits with friends and family. The Husband is on his way back today from an even shorter weekend down there. He left yesterday just as the second snow this week was starting, making for a slow trip. I hope his return trip goes a bit more smoothly—at least the sun is shining today.

The goats seem to enjoy the snow, or at least ignore it, unlike the pigs. Since I was on farm duty today while the Hub was away, I got to spend some quality time with all of the kids. The poor chickens are not happy "all cooped up", but their feathers do a good job of keeping them warm. Poor piggies on the other hand have virtually no hair, so they spend most of their time happily cooped up in the shed. They do like visits however—the second piggie pic is Steve and Eydie singing "Baby It's Cold Outside". Frank wasn't in the mood for singing today.

The goats are no different than any other day: Lucille, in heat, whining, Jack and Helen looking for more food to dump on the floor...

But the dogs are quite happy to sleep the day away right next to the woodstove, which pretty much describes my feelings as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The obedient Wood Man

The Wood Man came to us in August just months after graduating from "Obedience Class" in NJ. In the top photo he is looking very obedient, letting me take a nap with his butt as the pillow. The next photo, however, shows the true spirit of the hound boy—tail wagging a mile a minute, proud of the mess he just made of my "kindling" by the wood pile while I was talking on the phone.

The days of Woody running free have ended for now. A week ago he ignored The Husband's calls and ran across Rt. 28 to visit the horses again! The Hub got him out of there and back across the street, only to have him turn around and run right up the middle of the road while cars were doing their best to avoid him. Four kind people had to stop to help corral the bad boy and send him back home.

Then he ran off again the next night (while I was in work) and the following night when I came home from work at 7 pm and could not get him in until after 9. And only then after hunting him down, in the dark, and leashing him. At least both of these times he stayed away from the road...we think... As far as I can tell he spends his night romps chasing the night critters in the woods. Maybe he's trying to live up to his name, Wood Man.

I was sorely tempted to borrow a shock collar from Don on the Hill, one that beeps before it shocks, and starts with a shock I could barely feel, but after doing some research online, I ended up on, a site promoting positive reinforcement training. Most if not all positive trainers hate shock collars, so I was pretty easily convinced that was not the solution. Turns out the humans are the ones who need the training, the dogs learn pretty quickly once they are given clear direction.

Pam Dennison, who runs the website, called me the same night after I e-mailed her to ask a few questions. We don't really know each other, but both graduated from Rowan as art students in 1978. Rather than signing up for her online classes (and because I need more immediate help!) I am starting with her book—The Complete Idiot's Guide to Positive Dog Training—which I've had for years but never read all the way through.

Believe it or not, Woody has already made some progress, but it will take many more weeks of training before I can trust him off-leash again. In the meantime he is taking out his frustrations on the wood pile, Sophie, The Hub and me! I told Pam I would take some photos and videos of the Bad Wood, so we could have something to compare to the fully trained obedient Wood Man photos. Hopefully they won't be too far off in the future.

Take a few minutes and check out this video from Positive Dogs. This will be our goal, Wood Man. To get your perfectly trained self back off-leash again, some time soon!