It's a Topsy Turvey World

Myka, the youngest of our two dogs, came to live with us from an animal rescue centre as a 12 week old puppy who had clearly been removed from her mother too young, had by that point had two further addresses before ending up left at the centre and had clearly suffered some abuse. We wanted an older dog, something the same age as Bryn but the rescue centre simply took us "round the back" to introduce us to the pup they wanted us to have despite my protests of "But I never ever want a puppy again!". (This was because when Bryn ended up coming to live with us after being dumped in a bin at around 8 weeks old he was my first dog, I much preferred cats. I have never forgotten the 3 months of Post Natal Depression which I went through with Bryn).
Anyway, we ended up with this scraggy sorry looking little thing who's heritage was questionable. She's now 7 and turned out to be a natural born comic, completely unladylike and a totally stinky muck magnet. Good job we love her (so does Bryn by the way). When we first took her to our vet for her vaccinations, Louise looked at her trotting along at the side of us and said "Ooo. Designer shabby chique!"

We do know that she has an awful lot of terrier in her (bearded we think) and some border collie, a combination which makes her a feisty dog who is happy to take on much bigger dogs if they threaten her.

Bryn, who weighs in at 46Kg and certainly has Labrador, staffordshire bull terrier and rottweiller in him,
had always assumed he was a little dog and had never figured out that his teeth were for anything other than eating dinner and tearing chewy toys apart. This is the boy who was chased up the lane by a chauwawa (or however you spell it). The same boy who seemed to firmly believe that if he sat behind a Daffodil, you couldn't see him, the same boy who frequently had me chewing my knuckles in frustration whenever he decided to be an adolescent and the same boy who spends his evenings sat on the floor of the lounge staring at me......all evening...... .every evening!

It is Myka who finally, (and unfortunately) taught Bryn that a dog's job is to bark furiously if anyone dares to walk past the house or use the public pathway at the side of the house, or chat as they stroll along the Trans Pennine route running along the back of the garden or if any other dog is walked past our house. Bryn is nearly 12 but after all these years I still damn near have heart failure when he barks unexpectedly. As big as he is, his bark is even bigger.

It is because of Myka that Bryn discovered what his teeth can be used for. Despite both my dogs being on leads Myka was targeted and attacked by a (oh God, I wish I could spell) Wiemeraner (tall, good looking grey thing) and a collie when she was around 20 weeks old. Somehow and whilst still on the lead with me trying to get my dogs away and "politely" advising the other dogs' (male) owner to take control of his pair; Myka simply flipped the, by now astonished, Wiemerama straight onto it's back. I felt a tug, dropped Myka's lead and, very luckily, managed to grab Bryn's collar in one hand and use his lead in the other to haul Bryn's head back as he suddenly went full on for the attacking dog's throat. He missed by a hairsbreadth. Both the other dog's realised their mistake and ran whilst they could. From that point on Bryn seemed to realise that he wasn't actually a pint sized pup and that, if needs be, he didn't necessarily have to run away like he had before if another dog glared at him. Thanks a bundle Myka!

Anyway, the point of this day's ramble is that, due to Myka's terrier part and the potential for trouble, whenever we let the chickens out of their run and into the rest of the garden for an hour or so, we make certain Myka is kept indoors, (much to her disgust). This means that on those hot sunny days which happen so often in England, if the chickens are having a garden moment we still have to have all our doors closed.

Last weekend I decided enough is enough, Myka was just going to have to learn to behave, that chasing or attacking the chickens is not acceptable and that everyone can be in the garden together if she follows these rules. So I went for it. I was in the garden working & I had let the chicken out to wander free. I then took a deep breath and opened the French windows where Myka was, as usual, sat staring at the chickens like they were dog TV.  Luckily Myka is very responsive to commands and tone of voice, so I made sure that I knew, (and that Myka knew I knew), where she was in relation to the chickens. I kept saying things like "Steady Myka, leave it, good girl, settle, no etc etc. My Bantam Drew was a little uppity and avoided being in the same space as Myka (which obviously made Myka more interested in her than in Harmony). Harmony remained cool and casual, although she did get a tad "huffy" whenever Myka tried to sniff Harmony's bum.

I repeated the exercise the next day and we can now, finally, leave doors open on milder days (another joy with Myka is that she is a quick learner). Never forget however, this is my world we are dealing with here.................

Currently Harmony is sat asleep in the kitchen where she has discovered the central heating radiator and apparently it's just the best thing ever and it's lovely and warm and it's everything a chicken could desire and she's finally inside the place where the Big Chicken (me) goes.

Myka, meanwhile, is very happily sat in the chicken run. Ho hum.


Nobody Likes Change

Drucilla is my bantam Silky chiken. Anyone who knows chickens will know that Silky's hold the world record for broodiness. Drew can spend up to 6 weeks at a time sitting on an imaginary egg. These periods call for special attention, otherwise she would not move to eat or drink. I think we've been quite creative in our methods of shaking her out of it. For example, taking her for a run around the block in the car seems to work. Throwing her out of the hen house and shutting everything so she can't get back in has some effect, as does not letting her go to bed until after dark.

Last weekend we decided to have a move around in Drew and Harmony's enclosure, including changing the position of the chicken house. Harmony was truely facinated and extremely (un)helpful as ever. Drew though was in mid brood on her usual imaginary egg and had no intention of leaving the house.

We figured we might as well leave her in there whilst we spring cleaned, so we closed the chicken house door and carefully moved it with her still inside. Oops.

Now Drew does regularly feel it is her task to take on the role of cockeral on Sunday mornings. She climbs up onto a rock in the enclosure and starts to give it her best cockadoodledoo, (strange from a chicken but she's actually not bad at it). I know from this that little Drew can kick up a volume, but really.......who knew chickens could shriek their way through the sound barrier???

When we were done I encouraged to come out of the house. She got to the door way, slowley looked around and the shrieking began! All my attempts to get her to shut up failed. Harmony ran into a corner and there she stayed looking from Drew to me and back. The volume was enough to bring one of the neighbours across the road out to see what on earth was happening.

Drew by now had stomped down the new gangplank to her doorway and was inspecting every edge of the enclosure, checking where her rock was, having a quick peck in various bowls to check the whereabouts of her food, grit and water, staring into the dirt bath bowl and sharpening her beak on each of the logs that are around for them to climb up and perch on.

I always feel a little uncomfortable when either of the chickens pointedly sharpen their beaks at me!

Having shrieked continuously whilst carrying out her inspection, she finally stomped back up the gangplank, still shrieking until she dissapeared indoors and, at last, it went quiet.

Only then did Harmony shake her feathers and come out of her corner to stand by me and give me a long look that seemed to ask "What was all that about then Big Chicken?"

I guess the moral to this episode has to be, never change anything without asking Drew first.


Stopping drafts my Hubby's way.

My husband's favorite saying is "I'll promise not to try to fix my car if the mechanic promises not to do therapy." (After all, this is the man who couldn't get the car to start so called the AA who suggested that petrol might be helpful). Despite this I thought that even he could block out a draft coming from near the base of the kitchen sink unit.

 He set to work and pronounced the job completed and I admit I could no longer feel a floor level cold draft. The following day I was filling the washing machine and spotted an item of clothing I had missed. I reached to pick it up and found myself pulling a pair of hubby's jogging bottems out from under the sink unit! On closer inspection I could also see what looked like one of his jumpers and another unidentified item of his clothing.

He admitted that stuffing these under the sink unit was his answer to the draft. As I sat down laughing he protested "but it worked!"

And so it did... until he washed the pots and I noticed a speading patch of water from under the unit.

Yup, he's cured the draft in his own inventive way, but now we have a flood every time the sink is emptied because, I assume, he has knocked something loose. Trouble is, he can't figure out what.

Fortunately he is a good Therapist.