Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Devil Inside

Oregon Sunshine asked about the influence of Luna’s JRT half, and the answer deserves a whole post.  I’d describe Luna as a personality perfectly split by her genetics.  From the Aussie side she is smart, driven, clownish, sometimes moody and a little pig-headed.  From the JRT side she is tenacious, driven, agile, potentially dangerous and a little pig-headed. 

Potentially dangerous?!? Let me explain. I know lots of JRTs and mixes through flyball, and one trait that I consider to be typical of the breed is a no-shades-of-gray reactivity.  When something triggers this response the dog basically becomes possessed by their alter ego – a Mr. Hyde over which the dog’s normal Dr. Jeckyl simply has no control.  My friend Fiona has a border jack (border collie / JRT) who is an extreme example.  Tempus is a perfectly nice dog when his life is managed in such a way that his triggers are controlled, but he is downright scary when something gets the better of him.  Probably 99.9% of dog owners wouldn’t be able to cope with a challenge like Tempus, he was lucky enough to find Fiona through That’ll Do Border Collie Rescue.

Luna is not such an extreme case, but it is getting easier for me to understand how she originally ended up homeless.  In a recent post The Food Lady made a great comment about benign neglect – most dogs who end up in shelters or rescues haven’t been abused per se, but no one has invested anything in them.  That was not the case for Luna, who has all the hallmarks of a dog who was raised with care and purpose: she looks to humans for leadership and companionship; she offers behaviours with hope of reward; she knows all basic obedience commands and a few tricks; she wants to please and is mindful when you tell her that she’s displeasing.  My theory is that Luna has been the victim of inflexible good intentions.  Not abuse per se, but a failure to recognize a particular training doctrine (i.e. Cesar Millan’s) simply wasn’t going to work. The humans wouldn’t move on to something different, so they moved Luna on instead.

The thing about Luna is that she is quick to perceive a bodily threat from humans and quick to defend herself against it.  David gave her a playful tap with a shoe the other day, to which she raised her rough and gave him an distinctly unplayful growl*.  I grabbed both of her front paws too quickly when she was lying beside me this morning, and she told me in no uncertain terms that it wasn’t copacetic.  I have no doubt that anyone foolish enough to engage in a battle of wills would get themselves bitten, but anyone sensitive enough to back off and apologize for the misunderstanding will get themselves kisses.  We at Farcical Farm are quickly learning how to be the latter -- Luna is making us better dog handlers, better people. 


*Luna *did* bite David the other day when he tried to disentangle her from a mole she caught.  I blame this entirely on her JRT parent and not at all on followers of Cesar Millan.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Red Rober

Yesterday we got about 12cm of rain at Farcical Farm.  It poured for 24 hours straight, and I got to wear my new red robe for the first time this season.


When David’s folks were in Tasmania they sprung for a family speedboat tour of Bruny Island.  Everyone on the tour got a long, waterproof cape to wear as protection against soaking by sea water.  As we were zooming around I realized that such a cape would be perfect for rainy day farm chores, since my knees always get wet in my long jacket.  After the tour I asked the company’s owner if I could buy one, and he sold me this for $85.  It would have been a bargain at any price.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Switcheroo

Vehicles are an important part of life on a hobby farm.  For many of us they serve double-duty, doing farm chores and transporting us back and forth to our paying jobs.  Until recently David and I had a nice four-seater (marginally) pickup truck and a geriatric two-seater car.  The Tacoma used more gas than necessary (I don’t like to be a single person driving that much vehicle around – my own preference) and the Miata was ready for retirement to summer-only driving, so we pulled a switcheroo last week.  David and I are now the proud owners of a nice four-seater car and a geriatric two-seater pickup.  



Nothing gets away without a name around here, so please welcome Darth Ru and Darth Ranger to the Farcical Farm team.  David has the longer commute, and he’s enjoying the luxury of Darth Ru relative to that of the old Miata.  For my part, I am still adapting to life without power steering. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Zuke Nukem

If you’re a vegetable gardener chances are that you’ve got some zucchini on your hands right now.  We try to pick them small at Farcical Farm, but sometimes they get away from us.  On Saturday we found a giant lurking under the leaves, and tonight I decided to use it for something other than chocolate zucchini cake (that link is for the best. recipe. ever.).  Some Googling brought me to this zucchini and basil soup recipe, both of which are plentiful in our garden.  It’s delightful.


Monday, September 6, 2010

How Slow Can You Go?

Anyone who has been following FFF knows that I'm an advocate of slow feeding for horses. This means that long stem forage (i.e. hay) is offered by such means that it takes the horse a long time to get through a couple of flakes, thereby better simulating the act of natural grazing in semi-arid landscapes. Not only do I believe that it is healthier for the gut of the horse, but healthier for the mind as well. When a meal takes a couple of hours to eat the horses don't get bored and they don't start looking around for trouble.

We've been through several slow-feeding iterations over the past three years, and I've finally found the ultimate solution. Feeder 3.0 was a Behlan Country galvanized feeder lined with grid wire panels from an exercise pen.  I was pretty happy with it, but there was still more wastage than I wanted.  When we got back from Tasmania I pulled out the panels in both feeders and replaced them with hockey nets (how Canadian, eh?).  Bingo.  The 1.25" openings make the horses work hard for their hay, and also reduce wastage to a record minimum.  Without further ado, I present Feeder 4.0:

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Luna is Short for Lunatic

Tilley's space-occupying tumour left a space in need of occupation at Farcical Farm. I thought it would be months before I could consider the addition of another dog, but it turned out that I was wrong. Sometime at the beginning of August That'll Do Border Collie Rescue (an organization for which David and I have done a lot of volunteering) helped an Australian Shepherd / Jack Russell Terrier mix out of an unhappy situation. Not a border collie, to be sure, but just the dog for me. Reserved around strangers? Check.* Good with cats? Check. Protective of her place and people? Check. High toy drive? Check. Merley girlie? Check.

On top of all that Luna turns out to be incredibly smart and surprisingly eager-to-please, given that both Aussies and JRTs are known for their independent personalities. She has slipped into the routine of Farcical Farm with minimal difficulty, and she's totally captivated us with big personality. Welcome home, little one.



* I know it’s weird, but I prefer dogs who are reserved with strangers to those who are friendly with everyone.  I think it’s probably because I relate to them, being quite reserved with strangers myself.