Friday, December 31, 2010

Websites

While I sit here and wait for my farrier to show up, I thought I'd take the time to share some of my favorite websites. Some of these I use or watch for animal stuff, and some I use for work.

And my personal crack... Kijiji

The rest I've used for work, or come across while doing work related tech stuff.
http://befuddlr.com/ Befuddlr is a picture type site.
Animoto - another picture type site.
Xtranormal - kinda a movie making type site.
Glogster - like Blogger only different. :) For work there's an eduction version.
Wordle - creates art like word clouds.

As a teacher in a tech oriented world, I use many other sites to stay on top the latest and greatest. These are just some of the ones I thought might be fun for the "normal" world.

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Irony

Yesterday, Reba and I made the trek down to Calgary. My dearest friend lives there, and I'm blessed that she's the host-est with the most-est. Reba had an appointment with a specialist and I was getting some visiting in beforehand. I had had my vet look into finding me someone to do an eye exam on Reba after her DNA results. She referred me to C.A.R.E Centre. Once there Reba received her eye exam. We were looking for CEA/CH. I needed to know for my own peace of mind just how Affected she was.

Butterflies in my stomach, I patiently waited while the tests were done. And then the vet looked me in the eye and said, "Her eyes are normal." Say what???? Blinking, I looked at him confused, and pointed to the copy of the DNA test. So now I have a nice certificate saying my dog is Affected, and I have another one saying my dog is Normal. Just a bit confusing. He basically said that there are all kinds of variations and while my dog may have the DNA profile she clinically does not have the disease. The results will have no affect on her ability to see and work. And I should feel free to breed her if she has merit. (This one I didn't even ask to know.) Good to know. He did say because of the DNA results to make informed decisions around the breeding aspect (ie. breed Normal). He said a bunch of other things that made me go, "Hunh, really?? Who knew!" that I won't get into because I don't want to create a firestorm. It was a great learning experience for me.

I have to say that was the best and most worthwhile vet bill I've ever paid. Peace of mind - priceless!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Soft

Soft is normally a good thing, right? I've rode many horses that are "soft". Meaning, they are responsive to the aids. As a general rule I like soft. I like animals that look to me and respond to my subtle cue. I am for the most part a quiet, soft person myself. I'm good a reading people's body language and sensitive to those non-verbal cues. Likewise, I'm normally very good at picking up animal language cues. (I don't always like what they're telling me but I sure can recognize them.)

Today, I specifically went to Ken's to work Reba on the drive. (For the non-herders out there - a drive is where the dog moves the sheep away from the handler.) Deep in my heart, I knew I was messing up somehow. I just couldn't figure out how to surpass the plateau or standoff we had found ourselves on. With Ken's eyes, we worked on our sticky problem. The biggest problem is the Reba seems to be lacking some confidence and glues herself to my leg on the drive. Which for us is odd, because she's normally quite self-assured on stock. She's been a very natural little dog when working - until this. Because she's such a willing and obedient soul she was sticking by me. Imagine the dog - human conversation...

"Well, yes dog, I do want you to stay by me and not help yourself to the stock. But now, I also want you to walk away from me and move the stock away while I stay back here.

But, your tone of voice is getting strong mom, I'm not sure what you mean. Why do you keep calling my name? Don't you want me to circle the sheep? Oooh, you're tense. So I'm going to freeze right here and not move a muscle. That way I won't make a mistake. Uh oh, you're walking towards me. Do you want me to bring the sheep to you? Apparently not, since you're calling my name again. But I was just by you and you didn't want that. I'm so confused."

Poor dog. I figured out (with help) some things that I'm doing that are causing problems. Ken's sheep are also lighter than mine which helps, and she was chugging onto them like nobody's business which was sooooo nice.

My training goals are to keep a gentle, relaxed posture complimented by a quiet, relaxed tone. My biggest problem is I can be strident and can project. I rarely yell, but I can push my voice out of my tummy and really move it, especially when I'm excited. To not nit-pick on getting things perfect, especially when they confuse her. Things l normally would expect of her, such as staying by my side when we're heading out to the stock. Now, I'm going to relax and let her get ahead of me. To focus on what I'm asking her and to make sure I'm not inadvertently applying pressure that counters what I want. I also need to stay FOCUSED, so my timing doesn't get bunged up!

My biggest problem with this dog is that she's soft and responsive. She desperately wants to do the right thing and is sensitive to any negative pressure. Which will be positive down the road but is testing me right now because it magnifies any of my mistakes. But I can do it. Failure is not an option.

Heh, and I wanted a soft dog...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Looking Forward

It's the time of year that always brings reflection. Of the past, and dreams of the future. It's also a somewhat strange time of year for me. My "new" year begins in September. January has never really been a time of changes - mostly because I'm under contract and can't make major changes until the summer. This year I've decided to try something new.

I've decided that I'm going to start a gratitude journal. It's incredibly easy to get caught up in the day to day, and I want to have something to look back upon next December. Something positive. Something that will hopefully make me smile.

This week also starts my "Get Fit Action Plan". I like starting projects when I'm on holidays because I have more time to get things done. As part of my Get Fit plan I'll be keeping a food journal. Partly to help track what I eat, but mostly because I need to get a handle on what I can and cannot eat (for medical reasons - I know about all the delicious stuff I'm not supposed to eat). This way I can make good meal plans.

And as the last week of holidays I'm trying to squeeze everything in. My week at this point involves a puppy play date (today), a trip to Drayton Valley to work Reba (Tuesday), an appointment at the bank (Wednesday), a trip to a specialist in Calgary (Wednesday & Thursday), farrier (Friday). Somewhere in there I also need to fit in a vet appointment for Roxy to get her teeth done. As well, I want to finish working on my website - which has been on the back burner, and I need to get school work done. I also need to make a trip to town and do some errands I've been putting off because I didn't want to deal with the crowds and traffic. That'll probably happen Wednesday morning before I go to the bank. I also want to get the two pups out to the dog park. Luke I think'll be okay. But Diva acted like the sky was falling - in full panic, freak out mode - when I tried to get her to play with my brother's Wire Hair Pointer. Not good...

I also had a wicked brilliant idea yesterday. This time of year is hard to work dogs because of the deep snow. I've been working in a cramped corral which is not ideal. My older brother owns a skidoo or sled as they're known around here. I'm trying to coerce him into coming out and packing down the snow in my small field. With the snow packed down I'd have more space to work my dog! Brilliant isn't it? Now, if I can only get him to fall in with my plans...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Greetings

We shall find
peace.
We shall hear
angels.
We shall see the
sky
Sparkling with
diamonds!
(Chekhov)

May joy, love, and peace fill your homes.
May you and those you love be safe.
My most sincere wishes of a joyful holiday
season for all.
(Andrea)

Christmas Kitchen Time

I love to bake. To prepare for Christmas I've been spending a fair amount of time at my kitchen counter. And for those who also enjoy kitchen time, I thought I'd share some of my favorite recipes. Or at least some I've been working on the last few days.

I made about 12 dozen perogies. Mostly for my enjoyment - these won't hit the Christmas table tomorrow.

Perogy (Varenyky)
Dough:
3 cups flour
5 oz (about 3/4 cup) sour cream (the high fat kind)
4 tbsp butter
1 egg

Put flour in large bowl. Fold in sour cream and softened butter. Mix until even flakes. Whisk or blend in egg in measuring cup. Add enough water to reach 3/4 cup. Fold water mixture into dough. You may need to add more water or flour depending on consistency. Shape dough into a ball. Let rest for about 5-10 minutes. Roll out until fairly thin. Use glass or biscuit cutter to make dough rounds. Don't be afraid to manipulate or stretch dough. If it breaks open - just make it thicker. Fill with stuffing of your choice and pinch ends together. You may need to rub some water along edges if it's too dry to stick.

Filling:
Simple really - put what you want and season to your taste. If making a potato blend filling boil around 3-4 potatoes, let cool and add your cheese/mix/seasoning. Many people add dill (which I hate so don't). I generally make potato and cheddar cheese, as well as cottage cheese. When making cottage cheese use the dry curd type.

Freeze on cookie sheets and transfer into bags.

Recipe originally from www.allthingsukrainian.com.


Dinner Buns
Love, love making bread. This is an old recipe from neighbors of my now deceased grandparents. Delicious!!

1 pkg yeast (traditional)
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
Mix together and let sit for 10 minutes or until doubled. (10 min. is your max. time.)

In large bowl mix:
2 eggs
2 cups scalded milk (let this cool - can be warm but not hot unless you want to cook eggs.)
1/2 cup melted butter (don't use margarine)

Mix until well blended.

Next add yeast mixture. Gently mix.

In separate bowl:
Add together and mix with a fork.
3 cups of flour
1/2 cups sugar (less 1 teaspoon)
1 1/2 tsp salt

Add to liquid ingredients.

Carefully blending add the remaining 3 cups of flour to the mixture. Depending on the humidity levels you may need more or less flour. Your goal is to develop a smooth dough. You will need to use your hands at this time. Knead until a smooth, elastic round dough. This stage should take no longer than 10 minutes. Rub lard (or butter) around bowl and over dough. Cover with damp tea towel, and let rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours in a warm place. Oven under 200F or near oven if it's being used.

Punch down. (Literally just punch it.)

Form into buns. Pinch ends together and set with ends down on pan. You can grease your pan (if not no-stick) or use parchment paper. Cover with damp tea towel. Put in warm place and let rise until almost double. (Around an hour.)

Brush tops with melted butter. Bake at 425F for 10 minutes.

You'll know they're finished if you tap the top and it sounds hollow.


One of my absolutely favorite cookbooks is "Something Warm from the Oven" by Eileen Goudge. I also use a lot of recipes from this book. (With my adaptations of course!)

Happy baking!




And Then There Were Two

Somedays I blink in astonishment. I started with seven *seven!!* pups. Now there are two left. Yesterday, a couple took Ryder home. And I'm happy to say it's the perfect Ryder home. It's an experienced dog handler who wanted a higher energy dog. He wanted a dog that could keep up with the horse when out in the field doing work. He wanted a dog that would also be his companion, living in the house when not doing ranch work. Perfect! It made me even happier that he wanted to see Reba work - only people who know what they're doing ask this. He liked mom, and he liked the baby.

Now I just have Luke and Diva. And Diva's mine. Luke, I would be willing to sell only to his perfect home. Otherwise he stays with me. He would need a home with a family. One who will continue to play with him, as well as give him the opportunity to work. Both pups are registered and starting basic obedience classes on January 3rd. I can't wait to see how they develop.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Like A Heel

This morning I felt like a heel. A really mean, nasty and snotty heel. This morning I received a compliment at the same time I felt like a heel. While I was pounding out another batch of perogies the phone rang. It was a person calling to see if I had any pups left for sale.

It turns out they had seen Grace at her new home and were so impressed that they wanted one of her litter mates. Good news? Unfortunately, they wanted one of her litter mates to be a yard dog on a farm that had no stock. They wanted her sibling to be an outside companion for an older gentleman who just lost his wife. They wanted this pup to be a Christmas present.

And I had to be the jerk who had to nicely, kindly suggest that perhaps this type of dog wouldn't be happy just hanging out. That they like exercise and attention. They like to play. They want to work. That if they are left on their own for too long they will find their own entertainment.

I understand, all too well about the comforts of an animal. I understand what it's like to loose someone you loved. I understand lonely. And I understand that I can't sell one of my babies into a situation I'm not 110% certain will be good for them.

So as I stood at my kitchen counter, tears welled up in my eyes, and I felt like a heel. I felt like the ultimate jerk for saying no. Because I understand.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Attack of the Puppies!

The puppies think Bella's the coolest kid in school.  They love playing with her.  And I love watching how careful and gentle she is with them.  She bosses them when they need it, but is so kind the rest of the time.  How could you not love her?  She truly is a great doggy role model and aunty to these babies.


Cute Factor

As each day passes, I become more and more interested in learning about Photography.  I'd love to take a course and learn more.  However, I'm thinking I'll need to upgrade my camera.  My camera isn't a cheapo by any stretch of the imagination.  But it's certainly not a fancy pants model either.  Instead, it's a plain jane middle of the line model.  My shutter speed is s-l-o-w when trying to capture shots of the animals.  Which ramps up my frustration levels.  

Today I was caught up in the fun and cute factor of the dogs playing during our brisk SUNNY winter day.  And, brrrr was it brisk!


I love the freckles on Ryder's nose and legs.  



Ryder and Luke, waiting for the opportunity to get the squeaky football away from Reba.


My little Diva.  The Watcher.  I loved how the sun and snow made her face stand out.  With as much black as she has, she can be really tricky to get nice pictures of.  And she's really a very attractive girl in real life, with a dainty and pretty head.


This picture I thought was kinda neat.  I loved how Diva and Ryder were so alert.  Once on the computer, I could see how the sun had left streak through the middle.  Not sure if you count it as "arty" or just plain bad.  


This is one of my favorite pictures of the day!  I loved how Bella and Ryder are looking the same way.  Super cute!

Joyful

There is something so joyful about spending time outside with the puppies.  Even more so when the sun is shining!


Kisses for Bella.


Ryder and Reba making the snow fly!


Racing up the hill, for a recall.  Love the expression on Luke's face here.


Reba, having the time of her life running with her babies.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Rubbing Hands With Glee

Today I braved the terrifying city streets clogged with Christmas shoppers and bad, bad drivers!  I was attempting to hit the "north" side stores where I was power-shopping for the items on my list.  Because PetSmart is so near the store I was hitting up, I popped in.  I wanted to get a couple more dog beds.  (Tessa and Reba are not interested in sharing with each other.)  While I was there, I stumbled across the book section.  Browsing through I discovered this book, "101 Dog Tricks" by Kyra Sundance and Chalcy.  And I was hooked!

I can't wait to torment Reba with this stuff!  And the puppies!  And Tessa - well Tessa loves this stuff so it's not really torment.  I'm super pumped to get playing with my little dog family.  

I also took a leap of faith and registered the pups in a puppy class at See Spot Run.  I've heard very positive things about the classes and trainers.  It's important to me to get the little guys out as much as I can.  I think it'll make them better dogs down the road.

I've attached a YouTube made by the author of the book.  Happy watching!



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog World

Some days I feel slightly like a hoarder.  Or the crazy cat lady.  You know, the people you see on the news, in disgusting animal filled houses.  My horse numbers are reasonable, (shhh... I may have a secret...), but my dog numbers make people swivel their heads, and give me the look of aghast surprise.  

And to make me even crazier, I'm falling head over heels with the puppies.  Diva, as last girl standing gets an automatic in.  My plan had been to keep a female.  A, as in one.  But with Luke and Ryder being such cool little creatures, I quite tempted to keep them both.  Luke is fun.  He's bright and engaging to play with.  Ryder, is such an easy going relaxed fellow.  I can see him turning into an easy to train dog once he gets on stock.  He'll work, and I think he's going to turn into an honest dog.  It just fits with what I see now.  

So, here I am with six dogs which makes me think I'm verging on crazy.  However, in my explorations of blog world, there seems to be a number of people with a lot of furry little friends.  And this makes me soooooo happy!  

Isn't it great to know you're not alone in your animal obsession?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranky Pants

I've been inexplicably grumpy lately.  I'm sure the early dark and overcast days aren't helping.  But I'm normally pretty easy going.  (No, really, honest, I am!)  So it makes me grumpy to feel grumpy.  Makes sense, doesn't it?  I'm pretty sure the lack of exercise I'm getting may play a role.  But there is one thing, one easy, special thing that can bounce me out of my grump.  If this song comes on the radio I morph from road raging, fist shaking to bee bopping, head bouncing, finger tapping.  

This song, is my happy place song right now.  No idea why.  But I simply love it!  It makes me want to jump up and shake my booty.  To jump.  Bounce.  Throw my hands in the air.  To dance as poorly as only someone with no rhythm can.  It makes me want to run.  Head bob.  Gallop as fast as I can (or my horse can).  It makes me smile.  

Yes, I know it's corny.  I know it's filled with teen-aged innuendo.  But isn't that half it's fun?


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reba

I'm just laying here, minding my own business after a good game of tug.  


When she insists I sit up and look at her.  But I'm not allowed to come.  Just lie here.
Oh, man, what did I do to deserve this??
Mom, you still love me, right?  Because I'm awfully cute...  and I really, really love you...

Poor Reba is finally getting some hair back.  Her diet of fish dog food with a topping of Cod Liver Oil seems to be helping her out.  She's even put on some weight! 

Puppy Animoto

I was messing around with Animoto because I plan to teach my class how to use it on Monday.  It had been a while since I've used it and thought it'd be a good idea to refresh my memory.  Not that Animoto is difficult to use...

Here's the puppy "demo" video I created for them to watch.




Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ready to Run

It's been close to a full year since I've had to let my running fall out of my life.  And I miss it.  I miss it a lot.  Running has been one of the constants in my life for years.  Last February, two weeks out of a half marathon, I had to stop.  Cold turkey.  My tummy was incredibly angry and I had no idea why.  Tests, a variety of medications later, and a whole lotta poking and prodding, I know why now.  For the last two or three months I've been pretty stable.  And I'm ready to run.  

Or at least make a running attempt.  I'm at the heaviest I've ever been in my life.  But I don't want to run just for weight loss (mind you, fitting into all my clothes - not a bad thing), I want to run for how it makes me feel.  I want to run with my furry little friends.  I want my muscles to go POW! when I flex.  The worst part is I know what it's like to be a "runner", and I know just how badly the first 6 months are going to suck.  Mostly because I'm in the worst shape of my life right now.  

So I have a plan.

I plan to fit in 4-5 20 minute runs a week.  On the treadmill if I have to, or outside if I can get home early enough.  I plan to keep this up for 2 months (it'll take this long to get some minor condition back).  Then I plan to run 4-5 30 minute runs a week.  I plan to do this for another 2 months.  This puts me nice and close to summer.  Next, the plan is to bump it up to 5k (3 miles) if I'm not already there.  And do this for 2 months.  By September of 2011 I want to be running 10k (6 miles).  And that's the distance I'd like to stick with for next little while.  This should be slow enough it won't tick my guts off.  And give my body some time to adapt to an active lifestyle again.  My goal race is the Melissa's Road Race in Banff, Alberta.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Do People Do It?

Yesterday, with mixed feelings I let Grace move on to a new home.  I really, really liked this pup.  But I also really, really like Diva, and Luke.  And Ryder's just darn cute.  I'm a picky pants when it comes to deciding if people pass my quality control to take one of MY dogs.  This couple, and older, farm couple, did a good job during my interrogation.  Grace will be a working dog who is part of the family.  

Originally, I had planned to keep her.  But the past week I've been flip flopping between her and Diva.  Diva is a soft little dog and I think she'll be very easy to train.  Grace won't be as easy but is soooo neat!  I hate doing this.  I hate having to decide who stays and who has to go.  I hate how hard it's been on Reba.  I'll have to get some pictures of my bald and skinny little dog.  The vet says it'll take three months for her to completely recover.  

And I have to wonder.  How do people do this on a regular basis?  

Right now, my plan is to hold on to Diva and Luke.  Luke I'd be willing to rehome only to a very special home.  I'm just having too much fun working with him.  Ryder will need to have an active working home.  He just has too much energy and drive to be happy otherwise.  And if I have to hold on to him, and wait - I will.  

And the fun continues...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Play Me A Pup

In need of some peace, I made the obvious decision to play with the puppies.  I have a red squeaky football that's the perfect puppy size.  In the shed, sitting in my lawn chair I created some puppy mayhem.  And it was great!  

Luke is the clear leader when it comes to interactive play.  He's getting pretty consistent with fetching the ball and he just loves it when you madly squeak the ball at him before throwing it.  The funniest was when he would hold one end of the football, and Grace the other, and together they would walk in tandem around with it.  

Putting Luke back in jail, I gave Gracie some play time.  With Luke out of the picture she also became fairly consistent fetching the toy.  She wasn't as confident as he was doing it, but certainly was pretty good at it for her age.  Next, I tossed her back in the run with Luke.  I was curious to see if I could get the other two to interact more.

Ryder tends to want to run around and squeak the toy, but has no interest in bringing it to me.  And Diva likes to lay at my feet and watch.  With the other two removed this remained the same.  Ryder would chase it, play with it, but not retrieve it.  Leaving only Diva out, I tried to get her to engage more.  She was very interested and playful when I squeaked it around her, batting at it with her feet and mouthing it.  When I threw it, she'd run at it, but not want to touch it.  Each time she'd touch it I'd give her crazy praise.  I managed to get her to pick it up and bring it to me once.  But clearly she's not going to be much of a fetch dog.  

Tomorrow when I go to town for dog food, I think I'm going to look for one of those flat tug toys the agility people use.  I think she may like tug better.  Not sure what else to do, but definitely want her to play with me.

Grumpy Girl

I've had a strange day.  In some way's I've had a great, fun filled, but exhausting day.  But in other ways it's put me rather out of sorts.  And as I often do when somethings really bothering me - I'm going to write about it.  

Today was field trip day.  Today, I loaded up 42 kids, and 5 other adults and headed down the road to a local museum.  This museum is a really neat place to visit and the program we attended fits our curricular goals to a T.  It's a historic village, complete with costumed interpreters who pretend they're living in the past.  Ooodles of fun!

That was the fun part.  The part that's sticking in my craw happened when my group had their turn in the horse drawn wagon.  Last August I had popped over to the local horse auction.  As a general rule I avoid the auction as a depressing and demoralizing place for me to visit.  This time I had stopped to put up puppy posters and got sucked in.  Too curious for my own good.  And of course the visit still haunts me.

Back in August, I watched horse after horse sold to the meat buyers.  One of those horses had been sent to the auction by this organization I visited today.  I genuinely wondered what was wrong with the horse.  After all, why else would you send a horse through an auction of this sort?  Today I was horrified to discover there was nothing wrong with the creature.  This horse had been born and raised on this museum farm.  He was 10 years old, and well broke to pull a carriage.  This is a horse that was used to a lot of noise and people.  And he's now on somebody's plate.  Because this horse sold straight to the kill floor.  (I was paying attention.)  This really bothers me.  

If they had bothered to give the horse's story there's a pretty good likely-hood I would have bought him.  If even to just rehome him.  But they didn't.  He was sent in loose, with no information.  I just can't wrap my head around a nice, decent animal being condemned this way.  And yes, sending a horse to the meat factory is simply not a choice I'm willing to make.  If necessary I will have the animal put down.  Ethically, I just don't feel good about the meat solution.  I'm not saying that it shouldn't be an option, just that it's not one I'm willing to make.  (Have you ever gone on YouTube and watched any of those videos on it?  Eeek!)

Okay - back on track....

The bottom line is here we have a government run organization that seems to be randomly disposing of animals in the most convenient manner.  And this is what bothers me most of all.  In fact, it bothered me so much that I've sent an email to the director.  I'm curious to see if I get a response because I would love to hear their side of the story.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Crying Out Loud

Sometimes I swear I'm cursed.  I had done something to my upper back.  Now, I'm not entirely sure what but it felt like I was being attacked by sharp stabbing knives when I moved wrong.  Needless to say I was moving like I'd aged.  A lot.  

Next, likely because I wasn't sleeping, my body decided I needed the pleasure of a cold.  Seriously??  I was just sick!  Hadn't I paid my dues?  As I've panted and wheezed I started wondering just how much mucus and snot a body could produce.  I seemed to have a never ending supply.  When I would do my nasal lavage, the saline solution would literally go in - and not come out.  It seemed to disappear into the black hole that was masquerading as my sinus's.  

After a 12 hour sleep last night, and another trip to the chiropractor I'm once again starting to resemble a human.  Other than the weird snorting, snuffling sounds that passes for breathing right now.  At work when I have the FM system on (like a microphone) I'm pretty sure I can pull of Darth Vader.  I've also given the kids countless giggles by producing sounds no person should.

Here's to the countdown to normalcy.  Or what passes for it here anyway.