Majestic mountains

Our garden is doing awesome this year!  And our fruit trees are just fantastic (although apple tree still has yet to bear fruit.

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grapes

grapes

peach tree

peach tree

peaches

peaches

pear tree

pear tree

grapes

grapes

blackberries

blackberries

We had our last puppy class on Wednesday.  We found it to be helpful, mostly in the sense of the hands-on corrections the instructors were able to give us.  The content itself was very similar to what you can learn on YouTube.

Benny

Benny

soulful Luca

soulful Luca

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tuckered out pups

tuckered out pups

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Mister-kitty

Mister-kitty

Jojo-kitty

Jojo-kitty

I had some time off work, so we were planning to go camping and take the dogs up.  Well, that didn’t quite pan out, but we were able to go up to Strawberry Reservoir and do some target practice with our new (to us) rifle, and then we did some fishing.

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our zombie killer

our zombie killer

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The puppies did quite well, if you discount the fact that Luca threw up twice in his kennel on the way there.  He seems to do ok with they are not kenneled for a drive, but when he’s by himself and can’t be with Benny I think he gets stressed out and then pukes.  Almost every time.  Definitely need to work on that.  On the way home he was fine; most likely too tired to get sick.

I love the interwebs

Why is calling someone a chicken synonymous for calling them a coward?  Or for that matter, why does being chickenhearted mean you are fearful or not brave?  Chickens get a bad rap, I tell you.  Our chickens are pretty fierce when they need to be.

According to this article, barnyard animals had a reputation for being easily scared, and probably because chickens are so small their name was attached instead of something like goats ( I mean come on, they have fainting goats; you’d think if any animal was used as the poster child for fear or cowardice it would be an animal that literally faints when startled).  Anyway, I was thinking of that question when I drove in to work, and I was able to find the answer on the internet.

Also, I am about in love with the author of this article.  My Plantronics headset at work had not been working for the past couple days so I’ve had to use my tethered headset.  While I did not get one complaint about not being able to hear me (which I get somewhat frequently while wearing my cordless headset), I felt like I was being strangled by the phone cord.  My desk also looked like it was the place cords went to die since cords were frickin’ everywhere, getting tangled up in each other.  I followed the first step of the article and BAM!  Blue light at the top of the charging base once again.  No tethered headset for me again, no way!  Again, the answer was found by a basic internet search.

Having grown up in the age of computers and online activity, I feel very lucky.  Having so much information at my fingertips is amazing.  I mean, back in the day it would have meant the library or word of mouth if I wanted to research the raw food model for feeding our dogs, although to be honest I probably wouldn’t have even heard about raw/prey model and would have been content just feeding kibble (more on that later).  And I probably never would have learned to make soap, or become interested in fermenting food or canning our garden items.

I’ve been watching a ton of training videos for the dogs.  As much as I had grand ideas that I was going to spend so much time training them, I have come to the realization that I am a very slack-ass trainer.  Still, they are both doing pretty well with the “sit” command, and Luca has “down” pretty well, though Benny still resists almost every time.  You can tell he knows what it means, he just doesn’t like to do it.

Last night I brought out Ezra’s nylon tunnel and threw cooked rabbit pieces in there so the dogs would go through the tunnel.  That was a pretty fun game.  I’m trying to get the pups to go through unusual situations so stuff doesn’t freak them out later (note to self: wear big floppy hats while training and have Jesse wear hats, too).  We also put them in the bathtub again with water up to their ankles and fed them treats in the tub to get them used to the bathtub but also to get used to baths.  Jesse turned on the faucets which freaked them out at first, and he was splashing water around but I kept feeding bits of rabbit and they calmed down pretty quick.  Ezra was sitting on Jesse’s lap and getting fractious so I started feeding him bits of cooked rabbit and he calmed down as well!  Luca was sitting in the water by the end, but Benny still wasn’t feeling it.  That just means we need to do more training.

Getting back to raw food for dogs…  I’d looked into this before, but the more research I do, the more it just makes sense.  There is so much crap in dog and cat food kibble.  Did you know that something like 90%+ dog food recalls are due to HUMAN health hazards, not hazards for the animals themselves?  I was shocked when I learned that.  Have you taken a look at the ingredient list of your pet food lately?  It’s all corn, soy, wheat, then maybe some protein meal, and crapload of other stuff your animals really don’t need.  We try to get a mid-grade dog food that has the protein as the first ingredient, but even then it’s most likely just the scraps that fell on the floor that were then washed in a bleach/ammonia mix.  So anyway, we’ve decided go to raw for the puppies.

We bought a case of chicken thighs and a case of chicken legs at Costco.  It’s looking a bit more pricey than kibble at the moment, but it sounds like once we get it down it could actually be less expensive.  I need to contact some butcher shops in the area and some local grocery stores that do their own butchering and see what kind of deals I can get on meaty bones and scraps and such.  Some folks even go on Craigslist and ask for freezer-burned meat, because dogs don’t care about that.  I’ll need to actually start reading the circulars that appear in our mailbox and check for meat sales instead of just dumping them straight in the recycling bin.  The only thing about raw feeding is that it’s so flexible that’s it’s hard to know where to start.

For example, most people use an 80/10/10 model of muscle meat/meaty bones/offal, organs.  My problem is figuring out the math, because if I’m giving a chicken thigh, let’s say, how do I determine how much is the muscle meat and how much is the bone?  It probably all evens out and they say that it’s not necessarily the food over the course of a day but the average over the course of a month that matters, but still.  And then some people give their dogs a little bit of fruit and veg, and others are straight meat.  I have a feeling we’ll probably be tweaking it a bit over the next couple months, but the benefits are such that it just makes sense (shinier coats, no plaque on teeth, no gas, smaller and less frequent poops, better-smelling breath, etc.).  We won’t switch them over for a couple weeks yet; as much as I want to start them on this way of eating, the frugal person in me cannot bear to throw away half a bag of dog food.

Speaking of dog food, we still have the three rabbits (white mama rabbit, younger doe, chocolate buck) but no babies are happening.  Riccochet is doing his best but just not…connecting, if you will.  I’m not sure if he’s out of shape or if mama rabbit has too much internal fat, or what the deal is.  I put the younger doe in with him the other day and she was not having any of it, which didn’t surprise me.  She’s still rather young.  I am contemplating just letting the rabbits loose within the chicken pen.  They should have exercise and maybe would feel more free to breed if they had room to run around.  Our chicken pen is very loosely netted with chicken wire, though, so the rabbits may be able to burrow out pretty easily.  Still mulling over that decision.

Our peach trees have gone crazy this year and I am super excited about it!  I’m pretty sure we won’t be able to eat all the peaches while they are fresh, and I’m eager to try out different preserving methods.  I’m sure we will can some, but I’ve also read about making peach butter, and it sounds delicious!  We will definitely be trying our hand at that.  Our apple tree is still barren.  It’s taking forever to fruit up!  Maybe next year.  In the meantime, the strawberries have been doing well and our lettuce is growing like crazy.  We’ve decided to let it bolt and seed again.  Eventually we may have an entire garden area of self-seeded lettuce, like a green carpet.  Won’t that be nice?