Friday, December 14, 2007

More stuff, Lethal's eye, lazy me, etc

What is with the weather??? It’s supposed to be summer, the paddocks are dry and golden and the dams are emptying- but it’s freezing, an Antarctic wind is blowing across the hill and we’re all rugged up like Eskimo.

But just so we remember its summer, the flies are out in force, humming the kitchen, entertaining us all with the musical “tchzz” of their electrocution on the fly-zapper.

I didn’t run last night. Richard got home late (curse daylight saving), the kero hot water system had gone out so there was no hot water for him to shower or bath Jack, so we all ate dinner and went to bed at ten-ish. I’ll run tonight though- I’m already starting to make plans for the next year or so- City to Surf here we come.

Lethal went back to the vet yesterday, 3 days after they removed 3 huge grassseeds from under his third eyelid. Despite regular ointment, it wasn’t getting much better and yesterday he deteriorated rapidly, with the eye becoming markedly swollen and the anterior chamber clouded over a few hours. Vet Kate had a chat with a Perth specialist, and started Lethal on oral antibiotics, changed to a new topical antibiotic (Chlorsig) and added a topical steroid. Today it seems much less red and swollen (I guess we’d expect as much with the steroid), and Lethal is happier in himself, spending every crate-free moment persecuting the cat.

Sybil is booked for her ultrasound next Thursday, so I’ll head up to town Tuesday or Wednesday, try to squeeze in what Christmas shopping we can afford. Maybe I’ll take Bill +/or one of the younger beasties to agility training, catch up with Jules and the skankhouse crew, and torture Tom some more about his choice in dogs. Fingers crossed for Sybil- I think Kriszty is still hoping for a miracle, I’m hoping for a prognosis that allows us to enjoy her for a bit longer.

Plans for the rest of today:
Richard: messing about with tractors
Me: paperwork, paperwork, laundry, paperwork, cook some biscuits to replace the ones R will polish off today, and hopefully squeeze in some training with the youngsters (Ziggy says its her turn!)
Baby Jack: sleeping, banging things, overturning things, manoeuvring around the carpet, lots of titty and eating, bath and bed.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Just me thinking

Ran again last night- well, shuffled down to the road again. It was earlier, lighter (so I took Muddy instead of Sybil and the torch), and hurt more, but still felt good. And again I got to come home to a clean fresh little family, Richard and Jack sitting on the rug in front of our newly decorated Christmas tree, decorating butcher’s paper to wrap presents.

Jack is eagerly racing toward boyhood- nearly crawling, nearly toddling, feeding himself, looking outside our safe little partnership for entertainment. In one heartbeat I’m right behind him, cheering him on, helping him to his unsteady feet and urging him forward on his hands and knees. But in the next, I’m silently pleading with him not to rush, to stay a baby for a while longer, to let me carry him and protect him from all the hurt out there. Maybe its largely selfish- I want to keep him mine, to tuck those secret smiles and the warm nuzzlebreath away for just me. And I feel like I haven’t had time to savour him, I’m just marvelling at his first smile or his first clumsy grasp and suddenly he’s waving and talking and driving away in a P-plated ute… He’s like a beautiful sunset, my son. When I stop to look the sheer wonder of him takes my breath away and I have to show him to others, to try to capture him on film or in words- but in the moment it takes me to lift my camera, to gather more spectators, to put pen to paper, he changes, his colours shift and his light turns and he’s different- still marvellous, breathtaking, but different, and I know I’ll never see that earlier moment again.

I want to go back and hold him on my chest for the first time, concentrate on the delicate shape of his fingers and nose, watch him take his first breath and look into my eyes for the first time, and really capture him as he was, in some way that lets me feel it again and again. But all I can do is try to stop and taste each new coming moment for myself, know how precious it is, save it for now, and hope it lasts for ever in my heart.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Running again

I went for a run last night. Yes, I did it. One small step on the road back to fitness. I was only running down to the end of the drive, but it was a fair effort anyway, considering that it was half past nine, after dark, and I only had a brief window of opportunity while Richard and Jack were in the shower.

I ran with a torch to negotiate the savage camber of the gravel driveway, a sturdy (if somewhat decrepit and hearing impaired) cattledog to fend off any boogeymen, and a tiny black and white collie pup, for the heck of it. It turned out that bogeymen were a real concern for both Sybil and I. The night was so deep and black, with only a nervous sliver of a moon, and the cries of the mopoke and the squillion stars of the Milky Way were terribly bright in our eyes and ears.

Strange that I’d be more frightened on my own driveway in a quiet country district, homestead lights on both sides of me, than on the Perth riverside with its resident weirdos and drunks. Sybil had more reason to be skittish: as we reached the creek the scent of something dead wafted across the gully and a fox in the adjacent paddock began to cry out. Being not bigger than a rabbit herself, Sybil laid her ears back and darted across the roadway to duck between my shuffling feet, causing me to skip and hop to avoid tripping over her.

We were all bolder on the trip home. Jack had the scent of the feral hayshed cats in his nostrils, Sybil was eager for the lights of home, and I found the rhythm of my breathing and my feet starting to come together as I headed up the hill to my freshly washed man and boy.

I’m not too tired today, and the pleasure of my own time and space, cool air and sweat have me newly inspired to continue.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Royal Show Summary

The Royal Show is over for another year...

Richard had Fred and Charlie qualified for the yard section on the first weekend, and while it would have been nice for Fred to repeat last year's wins, it was a bit much to ask, especially running on the first day. He did pretty well, scored a 90 but lost too many points with some shabby racework. Charlie was a bit unlucky- the whips at the neighbouring horse demo started cracking just as he was getting started, and he lost a bit of concentration. But R thoroughly enjoyed himself anyway, and it was great to see another Boylee dog (Andrew Gorton's Ella) take it out with Tony and Pepper (Fred's dad) one point behind in second.

it was a great socialising experience for the pups- they must have been handled by 200 people of all shapes/sizes. And on the puppy front, Nigel Armstrong's 7 week old Yarralonga kelpies (Darky-Maggot pups) were awesome in their first time on sheep. Wish I'd had my camera.

I entered the agility mainly to give me something to do while R was busy, but we had an absolute ball. Our last agility trial was last year's Royal, and we've hardly trained in the last 6 months, so I wasn't expecting much. It was Jack's retirement trial, so I was thrilled with how much he enjoyed himself. Jules stepped in to handle him in Strat Pairs, which was a godsend because I had no idea what I was doing, and Jack + Muddy ended up with a win! Muddy was as half-arsed as ever, but actually ran one a few occasions (especially enjoyed Strat Pairs), and finished his AD title with a 2nd place, plus a SP win with Jack. Bill was a star- he learnt to weave straight poles the night before the trial, and performed like a pro on the day. He remembered how to do contacts, and if he jumped like a every jump was a sheepyard panel, who can blame him? He even started to go on ahead, but I do need to get faster to keep up with him. It's just fun to have a young dog that loves agility again.

It was also great to see Jules + FredxQueani daughter Diva running in their first Royal- it seems like yesterday that she was our wee Daisy, and now she's the ferally fast DiscoDiva, with an attitude as big as her name. She won Novice Jumping, had a very near miss in Novice Agility (flawless run, dropped last bar) and was generally pretty impressive. We'd like to take some credit for it, but I suspect it's mostly to do with Jules' training- after Samroc, I can't imagine her with a slow dog. She also looks like being one of the better dogs from that breeding on sheep, with Fred's stocksense and distance and maybe Queani's cast without the swipe. R is not a little peeved that we sold her... hopefully Jules will go on with the sheepdog training too.

From Tim Abidin's fantastic photo website (

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One little feral went a hunting...

Yes... this clump of grass will make a splendid hiding place, from which to pounce upon some unsuspecting bystander... and if anyone detects me, they'll have to catch me!

The Ferals- Diva-Jake pups

Here’s some pics of the farm-dog pups (as opposed to the spoilt PoshPups)…

Mum is Mac’s Diva (from the first Boylee Fred-Daheim Queani litter, not to be confused with her litter sister Mac’s DiscoDiva):

Diva is a lean, athletic bitch who seems to be a nice combination of her father’s (Fred) biddability + stock sense, and her mother’s (Queani) athleticism, working drive + easy-going nature- and hopefully the natural cast of both. Her siblings (from 2 litters) are working well across the state, with people wait-listed for another litter (maybe), and of course DiscoDiva and Maverick are doing agility in Perth.

Dad is Badgingarra Jake, Richard’s young kelpie dog. From Neil Kristiansen’s Northam stud, Jake has some of the most successful utility lines in WA behind him- his father is Badgingarra Jock, this year’s State Yard Champion, and his grandmother is 1998 National Kelpie Field trial Champion Badgingarra Bra (who went to sleep forever recently, aged 16). He’s full-on, has absolutely no respect for his own safety, attacks everything like a bull at a gate. A real working fool- but when he settles (usually with lots of work), he’s pretty impressive, strong but eager to please, natural backing dog. Plus he’s really good-looking!

The pups are all girls, 4 black, 2 black/tan, and they are pure feralness, in every sense of the word. They dig out from under their run, explode like fireworks across the ground, and don’t stop moving until they crash. A couple of them came along for a day trip to Tarwonga for the States (watching their 2 grandfathers battle it out for 1st + 2nd in the Yard final), and did their first leash walking. Looks like 3 of them are off to working homes soon, possibly 4, and one might stay. So there’s one or two still for sale, if anyone’s interested…

Sunday, September 16, 2007

State Yard/Utility Trial

Boring update here, since I didn't have a camera or a catalogue, so no results...

We all had awful colds this weekend (bar baby J, thankfully), so we nearly bailed on the whole weekend.

But I'm glad we didn't. The weather could have been worse (was lovely and sunny today), everyone was fairly relaxed and happy, and the sheep were challenging- DohneXs that had no respect for fences/gates and would leap off at the slightest provocation. It was a lovely yard course, nice circular wooden yards with a huge long race, and the courses involved a touch (dog has to bring sheep to handler, close enough that you can step out and touch one- not easy).

The sheep were just too hard for Muddy in the utility- he got too close trying to lift them, they pinged off like fireworks, he lay down and looked confused, and they took the chance to launch over the fence and away. Lost Sheep. I scratched him from the Open Utility, but he actually worked well in the Novice Yard- lost heaps of points with casual rubbish in the yards, but then did some spiffy confident backing. He didn't repeat this in the Open Yard, unfortunately, with a frustrating combination of over-excitement and lack of confidence, but I should be glad I found something to be pleased with.

Lethal... what will I do with Lethal? Because he hates the yards so much, I only entered him in the utility events. In the Novice we got into the yards OK, then he got slightly spooked by the flapping black plastic and just refused to work... So I got the sheep through the course myself, and by the time we headed out to the first obstacle I had a pounding headache and just couldn't face another minute, so we retired. He stopped to have a stress poo on the way off the course. In the Open utility he decided the course was a toilet, and after his usual lovely cast (looked like he was going to jump the fence + cross the highway looking for sheep) he totally overrode me, brought the sheep down at 100 mph, then stopped and pooed twice, peed twice, and refused to call off when I decided to retire once again. Everyone keeps telling me to sell him...

Bill... Bill made a final!!! We had a few successes, actually. His first run, in Novice Utility, was a bit average- he didn't see the sheep at first, and crossed, but went back out when he found them. We got into the yards, where he went OK until we reached the race, where his lack of backing or racework ability brought us down. I think I got as far as the gap before I gave up.

His Open utility effort was better initially- he actually cast OK, and I was thrilled that he settled himself behind them, realised that these sheep were light, and widened off himself. We again made it into the yards, and I think we ran out of time.

The Novice Yard event actually went OK- he pushed + barked in the big yard but settled + mostly listened for the rest. We just lost it at the race, again because of lack of any effective technique for racework. He jumped every freaking fence twice, smashed himself up a few times, these yards just did not lend themselves to working outside even if we could do that. Still, we qualified for the final!

The final run was fantastic- quiet, calm, going perfectly until the race... enough said, but if he'd friggin' barked on command, we'd have done much better. Anyway, we finished in the money, with 4th place! Richard + Queani were 5th!

By his Open Yard effort, Bill was a bit knackered, and again, we sucked at the race.

Richard had a mixed weekend- he had a raging cold which peaked today, so he almost didn't make any finals. Bella did OK in the Novice Yard but missed the final (out of time I think), Jake was a monster, Charlie lost his bottle in the Open utility + didn't pull his socks up for the Open Yard. Fred was a star again, despite having all his runs today with a half-dead handler- qualified pretty well for both Open Utility + Open Yard, had some bad luck with the Utility final (came 5th) and did well in the Yard final to come equal 2nd. So he finished in the money in both, and was 4th in the Yard Dog of the Year list.

Crutching this week- all week... and somehow I have to teach Bill to weave, or scratch us from the Royal.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Pups- video!

Clancy + Spotty are 2 of Tony's pups. We're looking after them (with their half-brother Bart) while he's in hospital, and hopefully selling them. On their 1st time near sheep, they had a bit of a look, so the other day I took them down to the training paddock to see what they'd do.

What they did was pull their leashes off the car towbar, and come over to "help" me get training mob in (I had to sort out some of the quieter ones for them to start on). Since I had a free hand and a camera, and it looked like they were switching on, I tried to get a bit of footage.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Trying again


What's been happening, you ask?

In a nutshell...
Moving house for good- I no longer have a "Perth residence"
Kendenup dog trial
It finally rained!!!
Came home to find the kitchen ceiling caved in
Emergency trip to Perth, dropped Sally off with Kriszty the lifesaver, who will supervise the whelping
Landlord informs us potential buyers are coming to look at the house- still sans kitchen ceiling
Sally has 6 pups- 3 boys, 3 girls
Still raining
I crash the car- into the landlord's gate
Return home from car-crashing outing to find the big white gum has split in half, crushed my dog-mobile and knocked the power line off the house, to dangle on the weld-mesh back gate
Still raining

And some extra good stuff:

Richard looking spunky in rubber and PVC:

Awww- now hold still while I cut your tail off!:


Computers and I- not a good mix. How on earth can I convert .MOV files from my digi camera to a format (AVI or whatever) that I can edit with Movie Maker and upload to YouTube so people can actually watch them?


Thursday, April 19, 2007


I think it suits me, after all. I'm discovering so much about myself, my family, life in general. Although I came to this with an open mind and no real plans about how I'd do things, it turns out that I'm an attachment parenter, a babywearer, a co-sleeper. It does open me up to the odd lecture on routines etc, but so far its working for us. I knew before Jack arrived that I was determined to breastfeed, and that became even more important after "failing" at childbirth, but happily Jack is a determined breastfeeder too, and we're doing fine. My nipples are a little chomped at times though- his unsettled days mean lots of comfort sucking.

There are downsides- the total lack of money, uncertainty about my career future, not being able to drive for 6 weeks, which worsens the social isolation. Also the worry- the physical pain I feel when I think about the potential hurt and harm awaiting my little boy in the big wide world, the agony of his little cries when his tummy hurts and I can't make it better, the remorse of knowing my parents have gone through all this for me and I've been so ungrateful.

But oh wow the good bits are good! Our early morning cuddle sessions, flying him Superman-style around the bedroom and watching his concentration and pride at his improving neck control, they're the highlight of my day. I watch him for hours as he sleeps, his eyes and limbs flickering in some babyREM world, rolling through his facial expressions as practice for later on. I smell his head hundreds of times a day- the most delicious thing ever, and even his bottom is kind of sweet and not at all repulsive.

Today he smiled at me purposefully for the first time, as I tickled his tummy, and it was like a hit of the best drug ever- I just dissolved.

Simultaneously he's so tiny and helpless, but growing his own personality- he knows what he wants, and how to get it. He pouts when he's grizzly, puckers and smooches when he's filling his nappy, and makes goldfish faces when he's hungry- when I'm nearby but slow to respond, he'll talk to me with a characteristic "Ah!" which is obvious babytalk for "Get your shirt off now, woman!" The appearance of a compliant nipple will be rewarded with a chortle of satisfaction, known as the "titty chuckle", and a crocodilian lunge and snap. And after a big feed he'll loll off the nipple with milk running out of his mouth, eyes glazed and limbs akimber, a little drunken man.

"How are the dogs coping?", everyone asks. Better than I expected. Some of them LOVE him- Muddy and Bill just want to love him, and either struggle to contain their effusive greetings (Muddy) or sneak opportunities to surreptitiously tongue-wash his feet, the girls (Ziggy, Pink and Queani) are obsessed and sit around watching him sleep and breathe, just like me. Ziggy has transferred the puppy-guarding behaviour she displayed with the last litter of pups, and stations herself beside the baby bouncer, keeping other dogs away with silent displays of toothiness. Jack-The-Dog has just taken him in stride, and treats him like part of me, respectfully cuddling up on the couch beside us. The only one who seems ticked off is Joy the cat- she's highly offended at being cast off the bed and out of the comfy cot and bassinet.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

More Baby Jack

Baby Jack- meeting his fans

My gorgeous boys- Jack and his Dad:

Jack meets his first Scot- Jules, Jack and me:

"Help! Mad Scottish woman!!!"

Uncle Mike:

Uncle Dave:

Proud grandparents- Pop and Nanna