Three dogs are on the wrong side of the glass sliding door. All want in. Bounce, bounce, bounce. Crazy dogs aren’t allowed into the house, they’re told. Demurely, and with the quiver of repressed energy, the dogs place their bottoms on the tiles. Tails are outstretched. All are attentive. The door is opened, and three happy canines burst into the house. Bark, bark, bark signals the excitement at the sudden change in fortunes.
In between the barking, Dame Plum slips in a sneaky bite of Ollie. That’s her way of saying: “I like you”. The much larger dog turns away from his general early morning foolishness, and reproaches his friend with a display of teeth and an inarticulate growling sound. After all it is difficult to bite and growl at the same time. Ruby on the other hand, taunts Ollie and encourages Dame Plum. Utter mayhem reigns.
Stored energy is quickly expended and the dogs quieten down. The three marshal in the kitchen where they mill around awaiting their breakfast. Handily it has already been prepared. Ollie drools over the thought of kibbles, home made dog food mix, yoghurt, milk and an egg. Each canine takes up their usual position, then assumes the sitting posture. Well behaved dogs are fed rapidly.
The bowls are lowered to the floor, in order. Ollie receives his first. Dame Plum second, and Ruby a distant third. It’s well known that the dog with the biggest mouth, finishes first. And yet, both Dame Plum and Ruby’s mouths are of a similar size, Ruby is the more rapid eater. Dame Plum picks at her food, but still consumes the lot.
After breakfast, the three know there’ll be a walk. Ollie goes first. Humans, are always first out the door, then a canine. Dogs don’t seek, or want equality. Ollie, come! is heard, and he’ll follow. Off the veranda, and down the steps. Through the courtyard we’ll walk with Ollie at my side. Along the path, past the firewood shed, and down a gentle ramp into the sunny orchard. The amble provides plenty of time to perform ablutions. And woe betide any deer foolish enough to be caught loitering when the big dog is on morning patrol. Ollie, go get ’em! he’s told, and he rounds them up, chases the deer to the forest edge, then promptly returns.
Morning patrol includes a brief stop to water the plants in the greenhouse. Ollie sit! Bum on ground, he waits patiently outside, sometimes in the sun, other times in the shade of the solar panels. He looks all about him, but won’t go anywhere. The dog doesn’t like the inside of the greenhouse, probably something to do with sensitive noses, and the coffee grounds used in the soil mix do smell strongly.
The door to the greenhouse is soon closed, and we continue the morning patrol. Past the long shed, and back uphill through the shady orchard. Occasionally we’ll mix it up and walk the forest boundary, but it’s all the same and we walk side by side. Around past the chicken enclosure, up the new path and the house is getting ever closer. We admire the tree fern, past the mound of crushed rock with lime, and soon we’re back where we started at the stairs leading up to the veranda with a door leading into the house. The door is opened and Ollie is let back in.
Dame Plum is then called for her morning patrol. Plum, Come! she’s called. Her and I walk a similar route, but this dog is of a different sort to Ollie. Clearly a past life involved scouting duties in an army of some sort, you’d hope that things didn’t end badly. This time around however, her skills have improved. Rabbits and rats are frightened by the dog, and well they should be. Ranging slightly ahead, then off to the side, running at high speed, crashing through the garden beds seeking prey and things of interest. I continue the walk, and regularly the dog will check back in with me, providing a status update. All clear (or all dead), Boss! she’ll say.
The regular stop on patrol is to set off the watering for the pumpkin enclosure. Rabbits are known to frequent the garden beds near to there, so there’ll be more crashing sounds as dog interacts with plants. If it goes quiet for any length of time, I’ll call Plum, Come! and that’s what she’ll do. As a special treat, we visit the chickens, and there’s a command for that too: Plum, Chickens! Birds are like television for dogs.
All good things come to an end, and as we pass the tree fern again admiring the developing fronds, the house gets closer. Ablutions are had, stairs are climbed, and Dame Plum is back inside the house. Unlike the other dogs, she’ll put her feet in the water to cool off whilst having a drink. The dog is easy to walk because she worries about where I am, you can tell.
Last to head out on morning patrol is Ruby. That dog has her own thoughts: Why are you getting involved in my canine business? It’s a fair question, if somewhat sulky. We walk a slightly shorter route, that’s the plan anyway. Ruby runs everywhere at high speed. Her report card in school would have read: Ruby is a good student, with potential. However, she is easily distracted and needs to fully apply herself to the work. And that would be a fair critique.
During the walk, my mind powers are exercised to their fullest potential. At all times I have to think about where the independently minded canine is. She’s a lot of work. If the attention wanders for even but the briefest moment, the dog will be 100m (300ft) away, having done the dash in world record beating time. Unfortunately for the dog, my attention refuses to wander, and she’ll be called back well prior to having gone too far. The disdain for reasonable boundaries is written on the face and in her posture. Frankly, the dog’s expectations of the world are unrealistic.
Monday night, we’d gone to the local pub for a pizza and a pint. Despite the pizza oven at the pub being out of order, we enjoyed a quiet drink, then went home and made dinner. Sandra took Ruby outside to accompany her whilst picking asparagus for dinner. Distracted by the plentiful asparagus, pint of the finest, and a lack of dinner, Ruby took advantage of the momentary lapse in concentration. The dog came back after a few minutes, and a lot of calling. She runs fast that dog, and the efforts that evening were at least consistent with previous behaviour. In the aftermath, discussions were had. Both Sandra and Ruby are now off to dog obedience school.
The weather has yet again been cool and dry this week. The clouds, humidity and smoke make for some excellent sunsets. And some mornings have been remarkably foggy.
Of notable interest during the week was that on Friday I spotted petrol (gas in the US) at the highest price I’d yet seen in this area. $2.219 per Litre (3.8 litres to the gallon or $8.43/gal). An impressive achievement.
All the same, work continues here. The steel rock gabion cage which was filled with rocks last week, was sewn shut.
And next to the cage in the above image, we excavated the site for another rock gabion cage. All the soil removed was used as fill on the low gradient path project. The cages are necessary to retain the soil on the very steep garden bed. The original rock wall was woefully inadequate for the task, and soil regularly washed over the top. Once the excavations were completed, an empty gabion cage was put in place.
It doesn’t look much, but we removed and relocated a lot of soil that day. The new low gradient path project is coming along well and getting ever closer to the chicken enclosure.
The low gradient path project has used up all of the easy to obtain larger rocks. Smaller rocks just won’t retain the soil on the slope as well as larger rocks do. One ready source of larger rocks is breaking apart some of the even bigger boulders. There was one boulder on the edge of the forest, and it was just asking to be split apart.
The only way a boulder could be leaning against a tree is that I believe the earthworks guy who made the house site, rolled it there. Lacking a 20 tonne excavator, I can only attempt to split the thing. The work is no different than what the Romans were doing two millennia ago, I just have access to better tools and harder drilling materials.
The boulder had a few fissures which made the job slightly easier, although the beast is still super hard granite. Fortunately, I was able to break off some thinner outer layers, and it was then I discovered the crack down the middle of the boulder. The rock split in half.
Sadly, there were no other fissures, and so half the rock was laboriously broken apart into eight large rocks. The remaining half of the boulder is a job for another day.
I worked the half of the boulder which was leaning against the tree trunk, and I bet the tree feels relief at not having to support the weight now! To get the thing off the tree, I had to lever it away, where it then rolled a small distance. Unfortunately I was then working directly under a truly massive tree. I kept one eye on drilling and splitting of the rock, and a close eye on the upper parts of the tree. Any one of its branches falling on me would have been fatal. Fortunately, that didn’t happen.
After five hours of that work, lunch was calling me. The rocks will be moved on another day. After lunch, I continued the work of maintaining the many machines we use here. The scary old wood chipper had it’s three cutting blades replaced. That work is not quick, mostly because the machine has to be disassembled to a large extent. However, I was impressed with the abilities of that machine beforehand, now with new cutting blades it is truly amazing.
The winter greens (Green Mustard) are nearing the end of their season, and we’re slowly pulling them out, feeding the plants to the chickens, and replanting with summer crops. The chickens are happy.
The last of those plants in greenhouse, are yet to be removed, but we’ve replenished the soil in the raised beds there, and planted out tomatoes and chilli’s.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 759.8mm (29.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 758.2mm (29.9 inches)