Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Remains of the Deer

Loving on Sparky
One of the joys of country life is the occasional encounter with wildlife. Much less joyful is the occasional encounter with a dead deer. Driving home the other day I noticed a group of buzzards working on a deer carcass along the road in front of the property adjacent to ours. Great, I thought, that's a dog magnet for sure. And sure enough, when Maya climbed the dog yard fence that evening, I spotted her next door checking out the dead deer. The next night she and Vince were both on it and both came home stinking of dead deer. Of course, they thought it was the best thing to happen on our road all year. I was just hoping that the buzzards would make quick work of it. They may be about the ugliest birds on earth, but I'd be hard pressed to name one that performs a more valuable service.
This is just the part(s) I found.

That evening, Charlie slipped away from me when I was bringing him back inside. He was gone for a while but I was pretty sure where he was. When Vince was out this morning he showed up chomping a big chunk of what was obviously dead deer. Vince had two episodes of pooping soft stool in the house between last night and today, and I'm expecting the same from Maya.

I was mowing part of the front yard this evening and I discovered part of the deer carcass that someone had apparently decided to bring home, probably concerned that other dogs in the neighborhood might steal the choice parts. I saw Vince rolling on it. I bagged it up and may need to make a trip to the dump in the next day or so. Country living with dogs-- it's not all pretty pastoral scenes of dogs romping through tall grass.

Max and the mower
Max, a/k/a Mad Max, is still much the same. He's good when he's on a leash and with me; he's a maniac when left to his own devices. Yesterday, I put him out in the pasture for some exercise while I was mowing the yard. He doesn't run and explore like a normal dog, he spins in circles, chasing his tail, and screams like he's possessed. I pulled him out of the pasture, put a leash on him, and tied it to the mower, not sure what he'd do. I thought the proximity to the mower noise might drive his anxiety sky high, but instead he just trotted along calmly, following the mower's lead. He walked better with the mower than he does with me on our hikes.

The video shows Max's behavior when he's on his own.  It is painful to watch.

I don't recommend this. He's on the opposite side from the discharge and the blades and forward motion stop immediately if I release the handgrips, but still, I don't think it's the best idea in terms of safety. But my options for dealing with this dog are pretty limited and this worked pretty well. I saw him later in the evening stretched out in the dog yard looking like a dead horse, obviously de-stressed and relaxed like I've never seen him. I was surprised because it wasn't strenuous walking, the grass is so tall I had to walk very slowly for the mower to be able to cut it-- much slower than our hiking pace and he wasn't pulling the mower the way he pulls me when we hike.  Maybe he bonded with the mower, I don't know. I just don't know what to do about that dog.

Gambit is settling in nicely. In spite of his gimpy rear leg(s), he manages the stairs in our house, both coming up and going down. He didn't the first day, but after that his desire with be with me overcame whatever reluctance he had. Gambit has discovered kongs and other rubber chew toys around the house, more than I even knew we had indoors. He likes to have one with him always. He also likes to fetch. He brings the toy to me to throw, runs after it, brings it back, and drops it! I've rarely had a dog that did all that. Obviously someone worked with him and he enjoys it. Nice dog, and he gets along with everyone here, except Ochie. He took a dislike to Ochie and I don't think it's going to change, so I'm keeping them apart.

Monday, May 19, 2014

No mow Sunday

Toquima went back home today.
He was happy to see his dad but we will miss him,
particularly Maya who loves to play with him.
He'll be back when his folks travel again.
My bad mower karma continued on Sunday; I had no luck getting either mower operational. The grass continued to grow and I couldn't do anything about it. I will call the mower man tomorrow. It's just grass. Since I couldn't mow, I spent most of the day on the container garden. I whacked back the garden-facing side of the boxwood hedge pretty severely and raked underneath the bushes to tidy things up. I then proceeded to rearrange a lot of the containers and garden elements to create some height and interest against the bare boxwoods. The entire hedge needs to be taken down like this and it will be when I get around to it. It had been cut back like that before we moved in and it grew back and it will again.

The butchered boxwoods look pretty bare.
I ran up to Lowe's for a few new pots and back to the nursery for some more sweet potato vine. I have now planted everything I've bought and it's really pretty much done.

I moved some heavy stone architectural elements that we had bought at an auction several years ago. There's a good chance I'll be regretting that tomorrow but I'm glad they are moved.

I took Sparky out for a walk early this evening, just four miles, but it was good for both of us.

The garden looks pretty busy and chaotic,
but I hope that a profusion of greenery and'
blossoms will bring it all together in a few weeks.
Gambit is making himself at home and he's generally fine although he has taken a dislike to Ochie. No one around here really blames him for that.

Sparky on our walk today.

We came across a patch of these blue flowers
along the trail today. Who knows what they are?
This is the bridge that had been moved
by a flood from a heavy rain a couple
weeks ago. The rain and floods we had
last week moved it a bit further downstream
but I was surprised it was still there at all.

This bench was pulled out of the ground by the
recent flooding.

We started today's hike very late so
we got to see the sun going down.

Sparky never misses the chance for
a good roll in the grass.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tag team hiking

After spending most of the day trying to get at least one mower operational (without success), I finally said to hell with it and went for a hike. Although it was cool enough today that I could have taken one dog for a long hike, I had several that needed to go so I did three walks, back to back, with three different dogs.

I started with Ochie, who really is pretty good to walk with anymore, it's the only time I don't find him to be really annoying. He got the lion's share of distance too, about 5.25 miles. I started at the dog park area at Pleasant Grove, which is just minutes from our house, so I drove back home and swapped out Ochie for Max.

There were a lot of signs of recent
flooding along the trails, including
this dislodged, but still usable, bridge.
Max and I did about three miles and then I drove home again, dropped off Max and picked up Charlie for the last stretch. I got over 10 miles of walking in today, and all three dogs had a good amount of exercise too. We had about 3.5" of rain the other day and the trails were muddy. You could see a mud line on trees and shrubs along the creeks and ravines that had obviously been flooding. The river is very high, muddy, and running very fast. Another of the bridges along the trail had been dislodged by a flood waters but it was still in place and usable. I have a feeling that the one that had been moved in the last rain, further down the trail, probably got moved downstream. I'll look for it tomorrow.

I'm thinking that this tag team approach, multiple dogs on shorter walks, may be the way to go for the summer.

I don't walk Charlie often and it
showed. He did a lot of pulling but by
that time I was happy to have the help.
I didn't get a great picture of Max today,
but he had a good time.
Both he and Ochie spotted deer.

The three walks totaled 10.36 miles.
I didn't take Maya hiking today but we took
her to James River Brewing in Scottsville
on Friday evening. She had a good time.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I received this pic as a text message on my phone yesterday.  He's a seven year old male shepherd named Gambit in my local county shelter.  Nice, friendly dog, came as a stray on April 30th and still unclaimed as of May 14th.

I promised to come meet him today, but an afternoon storm came through with a lot of rain so I didn't get there until about 4:30 p.m.  Gambit was still there and he was ready to go.

He had been neutered just a day or two before and he had current vaccines courtesy of the shelter.  The vet who did the neuter also pulled a couple teeth that needed to come out.  He had already been tested and was negative for heartworms.  They did another blood test on him while I waited and it showed a positive for Erlichia and a faint positive for Lyme.
Looking out the window at the shelter.
He was ready to get out of there.

The dog has obviously had some good social history and training.  He's very friendly, and will readily sit and stay.  He's very food motivated, very.  He could be wearing a sign that says "will work for food."

He was ready to go and so we did.

Gambit in between Toquima and Cabell
Toquima met us at the door when we arrived back home and he was a perfect candidate for a first introduction, followed immediately by Cabell, and shortly thereafter by Maya and Ochie.  He was fine with them all, just happy be here.  I settled him into a downstairs crate next to Ochie.
Meeting Maya

He's a shepherd so his back end isn't great.  Not sure if it's displasia or DM, or both.  I'll make an appointment for an exam and xrays with my vet in the near future.

He's not a young dog, but he's not ready for hospice either.  I suspect he'd be a great dog for an older person and I don't see anything to make me think he wouldn't be fine with visiting grandchildren.  The shelter called him Gambit and I think that's just fine.

Meeting Gigi

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Heating up

Ochie and I did an eight mile hike on Sunday. He was the best he's ever been, with very little jumping from side to side and only moderate pulling. The fact that it's getting warmer may be part of the explanation, plus the fact that I was going for speed that day, which fits his walking style very well. Sunday was still a pretty pleasant day, but the heat and humidity came in on Monday.

 I took Monday off from walking because I had more planting to do and a fairly intense thunderstorm roared through here late in the afternoon when I might have been out on the trails.

The container garden moved closer to completion, but true completion is an ever receding target as I find more pots to fill. I wonder if OCGD (obsessive/compulsive gardening disorder) is a recognized mental illness.

I managed a few pics of Gigi posing near the garden.

Tuesday was hot and humid. It was 90+ degrees in the afternoon and quite humid from the rain that came along with Monday's storm. Sparky and I set out for a hike in the afternoon. I was hoping to do at least five miles and we did six, but it was obvious from the start that we would be taking it slow and easy. I planned the route such that we did four stream crossings and each time we stopped and stood in the water to give Sparky plenty of opportunity to cool down. He's an older dog in the heat and I think that Sparky's summertime walks are going to be limited to cooler days, early mornings, and shorter distances.

He had a good time, but the heat and humidity were tough on him. I may be walking Ochie and/or Max more often in the summer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Thar she grows!

The first day's shopping trip,
from Plants N Things in Fluvanna
Second shopping trip,
from Strange's Nursery

My container garden usually gets planted when my mother comes to visit in April. She didn't come this year because we don't have a guest room currently and because we are all going to visit her in Kansas for Memorial Day and her birthday at the end of this month. I've been consumed with hiking and keeping the grass in check so the garden got off to slow start this year. I've been buying plants for the last few days, however, and finally started planting.
On the first planting day I concentrated
on the end nearest the house.
The planting itself wouldn't take so long, although there are a lot of pots to fill. I don't do any fall cleanup, however, so that slows things down. Plus, I dump the dirt from each pot and remix it with some fresh potting soil, vermiculite, and slow release fertilizer. 

I moved a few pots, even trashed a couple, but
most of the layout is consistent from year to year.
On the second day I worked on the
far end, but still on the outside edge.
It should look good when things grow.
I started with nine flats of plants and have probably planted about seven so far. I still need to cut back the boxwood and plant the containers that are set along the boxwood hedge, many of which are being overgrown by it. I think I have most all the plants I need, although I do see a trip to another nursery for more sweet potato vine and a maybe a few more things. Then it's just water, water, water.