Friday, December 31, 2010

The Start Of A New Year!

Liffey Falls
We had a quiet new year's eve with a friend and her kids here. We all drank home brewed beer (lime and chili for me) and had cheese and biscuits. Then this morning we had honey toast on home made bread.

We went up to Deloraine for a few days after xmas, and spent time enjoying ourselves with A's brother and new baby and the whole family. We went to the honey farm, and Ashgrove cheese farm and came home with an awful lot of both! We got a kilo of bush pepper cooking cheese for $10, a big chunk of cheddar off cut that's a very odd shape, wasabi, more bush pepper (a different type) and tasty cheese. We also got honey lollies which are all gone now and I need more, they were so delicious! Then the next day we went to the honey farm and bought them out of honey. Our honey collection is verging on the ridiculous! We have medicinal honey, lime honey (my personal favourite) blue gum honey, strawberry honey, cajun honey, and leather wood too.

We went for a drive up to Launceston and then Davenport, and we went for a bush walk at Liffey falls. It was a gorgeous day, but when we were at the falls, an hour from the car, there was a mini hail storm that had us a bit worried. The stones were so tiny they were melting on impact. We also went to the Gorge for a short walk and had coffee and an ice block - or booby depending on your demographic. It was so stunningly beautiful there, I hope we get back there again some time soon when the weather is more Summery and we can have a paddle in the lagoon.

We came home with a bread maker! A's father gave us their old one and it works prefectly so we've had lovely fresh home baked wholemeal bread today and plan on getting a sour dough starter on the go in the next few days.

The things we planted in the hothouse are really starting to take off, we're getting a few strawberries a day and there are two black russian tomatoes starting to grow. While we were away we learnt lots about gardening in Antarctica from A's mother. She gave us a big bag of seeds that she's been saving out of her garden and we have sprinkled them in planter boxes in the hothouse. I have to learn more about seeds I think.

Us at The Gorge

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Merry Giftmas To All!

Today is our first christmas in our new house, and Angus' first giftmas! We decided to spend the day at home with just us because we'd never done that before. We had a bbq with free range pork, lamb, sweet chili prawns, potato salad (with home laid egg mayo), green salad, and corn cobs and baby carrots. All served with home brewed lime and chili beer - oh so good! - or ginger beer depending on the age that appears on your license.

After lunch we had to get busy cleaning up and getting organised for our trip up to visit A's parents. We have a friend coming to water the veg and throw food at the cat and the LOTL. We are taking Vinnie with us. Stylish washed the dog, and Spikee picked up his toys, under duress.

This morning's present opening was exciting for some members of the household, and the bounty included such highlights as a remote control car, frog trinkets, and bright and colourful things that rattle.

For dinner we're having ham sandwiches on sour dough rye bread with home made tomato relish and we'll take our giftmas lunch left overs for a picnic on the drive up North. Right now the kids are in the front garden playing with the remote control car and the baby is enjoying things that rattle and a cuddle with Daddy.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Saving Strawberries

We saved the strawberries today. We bought four coconut husk hanging baskets and repotted them, now they're hanging in the hothouse, safely out of reach of the emus and the phantoms. We stopped in at the tip shop on the way home and rifled through the piles of discarded wood where we found heaps of stakes for tomatoes and some fencing which may be used for staking or even a dog and emu for a guard gate for the hothouse.

This evening we wrapped the kid's giftmas presents, so now they're falling apart with excitement. The tree looks so colourful with decorations, rainbow candy canes, tinsel and presents underneath.

We took Vinnie walking tonight and he has transformed into a runaway steam train! He's either dragging me or tripping me up because he's running in circles around my feet. I've got to look into a few ways to curb his enthusiasm because it's not much fun walking a dog who is tying me in knots!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Emus and The Humble Pie

We have to transplant all our strawberries into the hot house ASAP because the chickens are enjoying them. I kept accusing the kids of eating them but then I caught a chook half way up the bar stool near them and I worked it out. Looks like I'll be having humble pie instead of strawberry tart if I'm not quick! T-Rex family is still alive but she is too scaredy to come out of her house now, which is sad. She's not laying anymore, but now Klukkie is laying up a small storm, and the others are too. Today we got an egg from all the Larger Ladies and one small one. Four eggs in one day is perfect! We might have to try egg nog this year for giftmas.

We have really started using the hot house now. We've planted our tomatoes in a bed prepared by Spikee and me. First we lay down a layer of newspaper (that we got free at the local supermarket, because they keep old news papers for gardeners!) then a thick layer of mulch straight from our lawn mower, then another layer of newspaper, then A lay a top layer of soil. Then we planted our rock melon and watermelon seedlings, and broad beans, zucchini, and parsley. We also have a hanging pot with three strawberry plants in it.

Vinnie's training is coming along well, he's walking well on a lead, sitting as soon as he sees his bowl being handled, he's stopped eating the cat food ... when we're watching him at least *snigger* and the toilet training hasn't faltered for two days now. The food aggression is really good too. He lets me play with his food, and hasn't snapped for a week or more. He's really quite relaxed around food these days. He had his first bath three days ago, and it was the most humiliating experience of his short life. he looked so pathetic and sad in there as we shampood him all over. He best get used to it, he's in for a life time of baths because of his unfortunate genetic canine disposition.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Hot House in Summer!

This is the candle christmas tree I got at the tip shop for a pittance. Everyone laughed at me, but now we all think it's really pretty! I was right, I told you so ner n'ner n'ner ner!

It's freezing here, despite being more than a week into Summer. We've had the fire burning tonight and last night despite it being out for over a week now. I lit it tonight, I think I did a rather deft job of it for an L plater! Stylish did it last night and I was really impressed with how well she did it too. With the fire burning it's lovely and toasty warm in here, but I'm not looking forward to winter.

The dog was caught "playing chicken" today. He was only being friendly but that's too rough for teeny tiny little T-Rex Family, we're concerned she'll die of shock over night. The LOTL (Ladies Of The Lawn) have been keeping us beautifully supplied with lovely home laid eggs. The little ones started laying after a few days with the emus, and since then they've really started acting like chooks, they come out of the shed by themselves and peck around on the lawn eating bugs. Send well wishes to T-Rex Family. I'll keep you posted on her status.

This afternoon I finally managed to put Angus and his reflux down for long enough to do some gardening in the hot house. I really enjoy gardening. We filled up the raised beds in the hot house with potting mix, then planted out the rocket seedlings, and pak choy, and put the newly planted peat seedling starter pots with mesculin straight in. Then we planted more lettuce, spinach, rocket, and pak choy in seedling starter pots. We also replanted some of the seeds that never sprouted properly in the first planting. I'm not sure why they didn't come up because I've never had that problem before. Hopefully we'll have better luck this time round.

Beer making is going well, and A has just bottled about 50 bottles of chili and lime draught. We cracked a bottle of the raspberry and one of the blueberry to taste it. The raspberry tastes amazing! The blueberry is nice but not as flavoured. The ginger beer has become a bit of a habit now, A feeds it every day and bottles it every week.

Tomorrow is meant to be the family xmas lunch but it looks like it'll be raining all day. What a shame. Oh well, there's always next year!?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vinnie -walking. And hot housing.

Vinnie's training is progressing remarkably fast! He's a smart, eager to please little puppy, although it's fair to say that I haven't had a dog for 14 years now, only a cat, and they aren't exactly obedient. This evening after dinner it was a beautiful balmy evening so the kids took their scooters and I took the baby in his pram and Vinnie on a lead and we went off to do some exploring in our new surroundings. The dog just walked tonight, instead of stopping and having to be dragged, he eagerly trotted along and only sometimes had to be dragged away from the most interesting of smells. We had our first encounter with other dogs and Vinnie behaved like a perfect gentledog whilst the other ones were being rather naughty, barking and whatnot. Then he came across something delicious, and didn't growl or protest at all when I opened his mouth and took it out. Then when we were nearly home, about four houses down the street I took him off his lead to see what he'd do and he trotted along contentedly, smelt a few things, and then ambled amicably into the front yard!

He's also doing "sit" now. Every time we feed him he sits. He's not quite up to waiting yet but that's going to be our next training command. He is doing brilliantly with the food aggression and eats out of my hand or with someone's hand in his bowl every feed. This evening I took him into the y ard to do a wee and he knew I had a treat so he was doing "sit" right in front of me all exaggerated, so that he could have his treat. The toilet training is coming along ok ... could be better, but given hos fast he's done everything else it's not going to be too much of an issue.

I bought some pet mince for Vinnie today and he refuses to eat it. So does the cat. But you'll be pleased to know that the Ladies of the Lawn loved it. The cat remains firmly in charge of the dog, but we've seen Vinnie taking more of an interest in The Ladies and rounding them up into their shed. They are still laying so we've decided to monitor the situation closely for now but take no action other than disallowing the dog in their shed.

We're hoping to find the time to get out in the green house tomorrow and plant some seedlings, I'm also hoping to plant more seeds so our bok choy and lettuce crops are aplenty through the summer. We also need to plant the fruit trees but we're not sure where we're going to put them, Possibly in the unused front garden, rather than in the back garden where the Ladies of the Lawn will possibly eat the fruit, and where the kids play.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Table manners 101 - for Vinnie, and other miscellaneous happenings

Today we implemented Vinnie's 'food friendly' programme. I was feeding Angus at breakfast time so A and Stylish fed him his bikkies by hand. A held him firmly and made him sit before each mouthful and Stylish fed him from the palm of her hand. Spikee helped as well and gave him a few handfuls, and both kids put their hands and faces in his bowl while he sat and watched. He doesn't really do calm eating but he is certainly getting better, he is calm while we eat and doesn't beg which is positive. For lunch he had left over porridge. I made him sit down and I patted him enthusiastically while he gobbled it down. At dinner time Stylish and I fed him. She held him and made him sit and I let him eat his foul and disgusting kangaroo mince out of my hand. He did quite well and there was no growling or snapping. I suspect that this all stems from his lack of socialisation and the fact that they were giving him the tiniest amount of food at the pound. They were feeding him half a cup of biscuits three times a day and that's roughly half what he should be eating according to several sources. According to common sense and other more reliable sources he could have developed this nasty habit due to hunger and socialisation. So I believe we're on the right track!

Today we did a tip shop run and got a door for Spikee's room. We were looking for one for the back door but we'll have to keep looking. We took our door off the hinges and put the new one there instead, then our door went on Spikee's room. For some reason that fits much more geometrically there than it did on our door frame - go figure!? While we were there we also got a heap of bottles out of the recycling crates and A has been sterilising them, scrubbing labels off and prepping them for the next beer brew (chili and lime - due for bottling in a day or so) for hours. We got a complete fish tank, a book for Stylish, a bag of toy animals and a wind up dinosaur skeleton ... all for $20! We love tip shops!!!

We cracked open our first ginger beer brew yesterday and have nearly finished it already, it's too good to leave sitting around. We have another lot fermenting and still another batch of starter on the go. I think the next lot will have lime in it instead of lemon, just to see how it tastes. It's safe to say that home made ginger beer is one of the finer things in life!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More on Vinnie 2

This evening Vinnie was a bit aggressive with the kids because he wanted to eat their toast so I've been googling food aggression to find a solution. This is a bad habit we simply won't tolerate because it's dangerous, especially with kids in the house. So far I've found the following pages with useful advice:
I think we'll implement a practical combination of all three, first with A and I only, and then when he is better, letting the kids take over. It's important to let the kids be a part of the training so that when Vinnie learns not to be growly with me and A, because we're Top Dog's, he won't transfer his own Top Dog behaviour onto the kids. Stay tuned!

The toilet training has progressed well today, over the whole day we've only had four indoor wees, compared to the copious indor wees of yesterday! We've rolled up the rug in front of the fire because he seemed to like weeing there for some reason. We didn't like him weeing there because (well ... why would you like that!?) we just steam cleaned it with a special shampooing vacuum cleaner!

Food issues aside, he is a very well behaved little dog when it comes to other animals. he met and happily greeted a large staffie at the park today, and he is completely ignoring the cat and the chooks now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vinnie Settles In

This morning when Stylish let him out the cat attacked him. He ate his breakfast with his usual lack of table manners (forgetting to chew) then went outside and did doggy things for the morning. After lunch we decided to take him for a walk and see how he went on a lead. It was slow going at first with us having to use lots of little dried fishies and drag him along gently. By the time we came home he was walking a bit better on the lead, still having moments of stopping and having to be encouraged though. While we were out we stopped at the cafe in the village and had a coffee, Vinnie curled up contentedly under the table and had a micro sleep.

We're using the RSPCA recommended method of toilet training, combined with the method Cesar Millan suggests on his website. Basically when he wees in the house we take him outside and just let him have a sniff, but we dont' shout at him or any of that nasty punishing crap. We also take him outside every half hour (we're all sharing the task) and when he wees we give him a dried fishy and make a big deal of him.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More on Vinnie ...

We've had him since about midday now and he's really taken to the whole family. We've discovered (although we already suspected) that he's not toilet trained, so we're running mad wiping up wee and taking him outside a fair bit!

We fed him and he ate without swallowing, so we fed him more and he did the same thing, and since then he's eaten two lots of the cat's food ... we might have to move that. We've also learnt that he's never walked on a lead before so as soon as you put it on him he stops still and refuses to move, I'm sure we can fix that with a few little fishy treats though.

He and the kids spent ages running around playing chasings in the yard, then the kids were worn out and Vinnie was only just warmed up! So they had a rest then went and played more and he was tired so he crashed out on the ugly fold out sofa in the ugly room. The blue healer in him is rather dominant I'd say.

The cat isn't terribly impressed but he hasn't tried to decapitate Vinnie just yet, and Vinnie has taken a liking to the chickens, so we have to keep a close eye on him. He means no harm, but the chooks aren't keen on playing with him - funny uptight things they are!

Meet Vinnie!

Vinnie is our new second hand puppy, he's 3.5 months, just like Angus! We brought him home from the Hobart Pound this morning. On Tuesday we drove in and selected him, and then we had to wait while they desexed him. It's been a long week! Stay tuned for more Vinnie updates as he settles in and we train him.

Please excuse the dreadful photo! it captures him doing what he does best ... WRIGGLING!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Screw you FACEBOOK!

Here are three profile photos of me breast feeding my children that facebook has removed. Apparently they are unsuitable for a family friendly site.

Please enjoy them, and don't forget to link to this blog post so they stay on facebook - a family friendly, pron loving website!

Rainbow Jumper

Here is a photo of Angus in the jumper his Aunty gave him.

Thanks AJ!