Friday, March 23, 2012

Perfect Moments

Yesterday the sun was shining.  I have been suffering with the worst cold sores I have ever had.  I took the opportunity to sit with my face in the sun.  I sat my chair facing the sun and found myself looking at the hills of Kal Lake Park.  Suddenly I was longing to be walking up that hill in my bare feet on the warming spring ground with my dog.  So I just did.  I did take along some shoes just in case I found it unpleasant but it was even more wonderful that I imagined.  My feet felt so incredibly great on the earth.  I went the least trod path that didn't have gravel.  There was no one in the park - just me and Jodi and the birds.  It was so still and sweet and reverently quiet.  It was a series of perfect moment as I touched the rocks and the trees and just took it all in.  Breathed.  It was perfect.

Today was a busy day.  I had another 'Auntie Andrea' day with my nephews.  Only today, Adriel is having his first sleep over by himself.  After Sarah and Kyle left with Sloan, Andrew, Adriel and I headed out for a walk with the dogs - me on foot and them on bike.  Andrew, soft spoken with his 6'4" frame on his park bike and Adriel talking a mile a minute about everything - about what a great bike rider he is and about how amazing Andrew's tricks are.  Their voices drifting back to me  in the spring evening air as they ride ahead - Andrew's low dulcet murmurs and Adriel's excited, high voice.  Andrew doing tricks and Adriel showing him his tricks which mostly consisted of taking his feet off of his pedals and doing the 'bike splits'.  Adriel trying to copy some of Andrew's tricks.  3 dogs trotting by my side and the sun just above the hills sending long shadows.

When we got home, we did the chores before going out for ice cream.  Adriel loves doing the chores.  He and Andrew filled up the rabbit feeders as I filled the water bottles.  I am behind them as we walk into the house to get Rhiannon.  "You're a fun cousin, Andrew."  "You're a fun cousin, too, Adriel."


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Monday, March 12, 2012

Welcome Hugo

We have a new addition to our family.  This is Hugo.  After Iris' tragic and untimely death to Parvo, we had to wait at least 7 months before bringing another puppy into our home because the virus can live for 5 months.  I bleached the house and we cleaned up the yard as best we could.

Kaetlyn cuddling Hugo when we went to check him out
Then I was cruising puppy ads and found this guy in Penticton.  He was behind his much more outgoing sisters and you could hardly see him because he is black.  But his eyes pierced me and I knew he was our puppy.  He was born in Penticton so we drove out to check him out and we gave him his first parvo vaccination.  I know, I know... I don't generally believe in vaccinations.  However, given the stress of leaving his mother and grandmother and coming to a new home where there was a better than average chance of encountering the virus, we decided to go the vaccination route.  After we gave him his shot, we had to leave him for another 10 days.  Eryn, Kaetlyn and Rhiannon all came with me and it was unanimous.  We would take him.

Rhiannon made him this bed - recycled from a long dead but favourite cat, Sheeba
As much as he looks like Iris, he is not much like her.  We've had him for just over a week now.  Much better at house training but much more aggressive to other dogs.  Iris was a scaredy cat and would jump into our arms.  Hugo is up for taking them all on.

 He is a border collie/Australian Shepherd X blue heeler (Australian Cattle Dog) but when he is like this we call him the little black fox.

We are feeding him strictly on the Natural Rearing Method developed by veterinarian and herbalist, Juliette de Bairicli-Levy who pioneered the raw food diet for dogs.  Right now he eats 4 times a day.  He gets non-homogonized milk with honey at 8am, multigrain rolled grains with butter milk, seaweed powder, a tsp  of oil and nettle at noon, 2 oz of meat at 4pm and 4 - 8 oz of meat with bones at 8pm.  So far he is looking very healthy and he's everyone's darling.

For training, we are using Cesar Millan's methods which are so incredible.  Puppies learn so fast when you know how to speak to them in dog language.  We think he will turn out to be a very good dog!  And who knows, maybe this means that this summer we won't have to pretend to be sheep dogs when we round up the sheep.

And no, he's not named after the movie - we haven't seen it.  It just seemed to be his name.  Don't you agree?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Auntie Andrea Day 2

 It was my great good fortune this summer to have one of my youngest sisters move to Kelowna with her husband and 2 adorable boys.  I haven't got to spend a lot of time with just me and them but I managed it recently when I 'sent' Sarah on the homeschooling ski date to 'look after' my teenage children...  Knowing my nephews fairly well, I planned action packed days for them. This time our day started with a farm tour of recent additions.  Here they are with the wee brown ewe lamb.

Sloan with Rosemary
Adriel with Rosemary

 Next we checked out the new rabbits.  Mocha and Vivica recently had litters (more on that in an upcoming post)

Adriel also wanted to cuddle one of the older baby rabbits.  This one here is one of Marshmallow's.

Then we went downtown and checked in to say hello to their cousin, Kaetlyn at the bookstore and then it was to the Science Centre.  This is the second time taking both of them there and the third time for Sloan and they love it.  The theme right now is 'in space' and there are lots of space toys  and costumes and even a space station tent thingy.  We were there for more than 2 hours.

Adriel in the space station

They spent a lot of time playing with this thing.  It shoots out air so you can balance a ball on it.  Then it was off to the park for a picnic and then home again for a nap (because they were exhausted).  Then Sarah was back.  An all-round fun day.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Last year, Lifa who was not yet a year old herself was the first to lamb and she had twins completely unassisted.  Normal is for ewes to have a single the first time they lamb.  I wondered if it was a sign of greater multiples to come...  What was also unusual is that she was only a lamb yet was the first to have lambs.  She had them April 11 last year.  The earliest I have ever had lambs is April 1.

Until now.  I awoke this morning to a very dirty white lamb.  Although Lifa had 'bagged out' (shepherd talk meaning that her udder was full of milk), because of my previous experience, I was not expecting her to lamb for another week or two.  Two days ago, her udder became so huge, it looked like she had lambed already and they had been sucking on it.  Now I know...

The ground here is still mostly frozen with a thin layer of mud on top.  Normally I pitch fork all the winter's worth of dirty hay and manure out and lay down fresh straw just before lambing.  But that couldn't be done today.  And he was so filthy, I had to bring him in the house and give him a warm bath in the kitchen sink.  After a thorough towel and a nice warm blow dry he was ready to go back outside.  I came out to see this:

The next one on the way.  Here he is.  I had time to throw a bale of straw in there on top of the winter's worth of mess so he was much cleaner.  Still it was cold out there this morning - below zero.  I brought him in the house and towelled and blow dried (the only time I use my old blow dryer).  And yes, that is two white ram lambs like she had last year.  So, I assumed she was done.
The as yet unnamed second ram lamb.  He has a brown circlet that doesn't quite go all the way around.
The two brothers
I was watching out the window and saw something far too big to be a placenta fall out of her rear end.  I rushed out there.  When I first laid eyes on her, I thought she was a deformed blob of wool.  Then realized that she had been born with her head folded back (they're not supposed to be able to be born like that).  I unfolded her and scooped out the mucus from her mouth.  She looked dead and her head hung down limply like I have only seen on dead lambs.  But then there was a ferocious amount of kicking and thrashing.  She was alive!  I started rhythmically rubbing her and laid her down for Lifa to lick.  Soon she was holding up that limp head.  Now I have to say that she is the liveliest of the bunch.

I spent the next hour or so making sure they each got latched on.  The first little guy figured that out pretty quick and kept beating out the other two.  I put him in the house and put the teat right in the mouths of his younger siblings but before long they all had round full tummies. 

Little sister, the smallest and most spunky
Zeus doing his job
All of them
It's supposed to get down to -6 tonight and its already -3 at 11:45pm.  I will be checking on them again shortly.  So far they are all nestled deep in the straw and keeping warm.  Although, I must confess, I dug out the lamb fleece jackets I made many years ago when I used to get bummer lambs every spring.  Right now they are all in thick purple fleece.

And I gotta say that it is with a certain amount of pride that I watch Lifa with her triplets.  She is a product herself of this farm.  I pat myself on the back every year.  "Yup, I kept the right lamb... Look at her!  She had twins her first year; she lambs without assistance and now she has had the first successful triplets."  Good job, Lifa!