Tag Archives: young

Premature vocalization

THIS little guy was crowing today.

Is he an Oscar, or an Orlando?

It sounded like someone stepped on a squeaky toy.   I think he was appropriately embarrassed and  didn’t do it again.  Hope he puts that project on the back burner for a few months. I wouldn’t have thought it possible if I weren’t looking right at him.

Exactly two months old today

I’m like, You!  You are barely 12 inches tall at your full stretch.  You have nothing to crow about yet!

The teens are so cute!! Bright yellow, big feet, that they have yet to grow into, like puppies.  The teens have a set of baby sibling tag-alongs- the four young chicks of Ursa’s, and they (teens) tag along on the Family (Philippe and the Cheeks etc).  Galahad escorted them down the path to the house the other day (And here, at times, there are snacks), and now they show up daily, but they feel better if the Family is already there.  Moochers of the future.

But which is which?

That would be Oscar and Orlando up front.  I don’t care how tall you stand, you’ve got no business crowing about it.  Clearly, Toffee’s offspring. Philippe was finding it warm today.  Another record setting hot one, and most of the chickens were adopting Airplane Pose.Ursa Minor’s four chicks have been on their own for a week.  Surprisingly early!  I haven’t looked if they’re still cuddling in the coop, but during the day, there seems to be no further attachment, except to each other.  They’re a little peeping squad.  They seem to be role-modeling on the teens these days.

It’s really something: now I’ve got chicks that were born here, that were born to chickens that were born here, and their behaviour is remarkably different from the first gens.  They’re so confident. So early – still tiny, miniature chickens still fuzzy around the neck- and they project Yeah, I got this, world!  No questions or hesitancy.  I’m a chicken!  Hear me r–!   Oh, wait…”

Picky picky piglets

No pigs are alike.  These pigs have distinguished themselves by being extraordinary rooters -powerful and efficient, although they’re still just little (uhoh when they grow)- and being picky eaters.

They’ll eat apples.  They’ll eat peaches.  But a vegetable?

Eggplant.  No way.

Green pepper.  Mmm, nope.

Mustard greens.  Nope.

Cucumber.  They gummed it.  I broke it in half, the better to learn what was inside.  They tasted the inside, made expressive Ew faces, and nosed them out of the bowl.  Come on!  A cucumber?!   I get it, with the eggplant, ok, I don’t like them unless they’re grilled either, but a juicy green pepper?  A delicious cucumber?  My hens can’t eat all the cukes I have.

These pigs are here in prime harvest time to be plied with as much as they can eat in windfall apples and surplus veggies.  All vegetables pigs past have quite enjoyed, mind you. And these two turn out to be picky eaters?

I look at them.  You’re pigs.  How can you be picky?  That’s against your definition.  They look down their snouts.  We’ll have the peaches, s’il vous plait.

Pigs spit out the pits just like we do

I’m baking eggplant in the sun oven.  See if they’ll eat them cooked, even if I have to drizzle with olive oil.  If they approve, I’m cooking two every sunny day until the eggplant glut is over.

Standing in the food bowl asserts dominance and ownership of the food bowl. No one is fooled.

Ok. I guess it’s time to move the pig house. I did four days ago, but ok…

Growing piglets and oinker games

The oinkers are growing!  They still have long legs, and act like dogs in ways. They stretch first thing out of bed, they jump around when they’re excited, and they love to run.

Seeing how much they love to run makes me sad about all the pigs that are confined in quarters barely large enough for them to turn around, where their only function is to eat and grow fat.  Clearly lethargy is not their natural state.

They love a good sprint.  They celebrate the coming of food by an exuberant oinking lap around their enclosure, usually with a figure eight through and around their house.  They’re very athletic pigs.

HW loves the pigs (he doesn’t seem to have any conflict with adoring them and having to kill them later).  He’s disappointed when he comes home from work and I’ve already fed them (so I tend to wait).  Either way, he visits them while he’s still in his work clothes, and then he comes in saying something like “Those oinkers are funny!  I was sitting in their house with them and…”

You were what?

He’s been actively trying to tame them.  We can do anything to them while they’re eating;  Spots tolerates HW petting her at other times, but A.P. won’t stand for it.  He also snorts at them, although I’ve told him he’s probably saying something insulting in their language.  They love it though, they immediately get louder and oink back when HW comes down the trail, snorting.  He’s kind of good at it.

Yesterday his story was:  “I was out there chasing those oinkers around… ” (You were what?!) “They love it!  They know that it´s play, because as soon as I stop, they run up to me.  But they LOVE to run.  Then when I left I looked back and one pig was flopped out on the ground, legs out – no, not in their house, just in the mud – then she got up, walked in a circle, and flopped down again – she was all tuckered out!”

So HW plays games with the pigs too.  I haven’t even witnessed him sitting in their house or playing chase, let alone when I had a camera.  But I can hope.

The introduction of two bowls (recycling the dog bowls):


It worked perfectly, exactly like I expected.

Oh, you’ve got something good over there?  I wants it.

One pig gets jealous and pushes the other off her bowl.

Displaced pig coolly walks around to the vacant bowl.


Repeat.  Repeat.

Both are eating constantly, but quite sure the other bowl is better.

Look up, look way up, it’s the new guinea coop

I’m starting to worry about the guineas sleeping out “loose” in the greenhouse.  The hens are all secured at night in their respective coops, but the guineas are not safe, should a weasel come in, and now the GH is breached with multiple tunnels, one easily could.

@#$% squirrel


The guineas have a collective mind of their own though, choosing different places to sleep every night.  They used to like snuggling between the hay bales and the plastic, or perching on the top of the open screen door, which is funny.  They’ve just moved up one better though, and are roosting on the top of the door header.

img_4661It’s funny, approaching the GH and seeing their little shadowy silhouettes above the door in the dusk.  There were only four the first night!  I went in to shut the coops wondering if one was lost (a constant fear).  She was fine.  She was pacing along the roof’s edge of the layers’ coop, the nearest high point, trying and failing to muster up the bird courage to flap up and join the others.

I waited awhile, as it got darker, before I intervened.  I walked right up to her, smoothly reached out and grabbed her by the legs.  How well this went surprised both of us.  She eep-ed once and wobbled a little to get her balance as I readjusted her to stand on my palm, and I lifted her up almost level with the others (I’m a bird elevator).  She stood there for many seconds before she took the 6 inch hop.  After that night she’s made it up on her own.  We take the opportunity to pet them at night, which they do not love, shuffling nervously and squeezing together.  But I think it’s good for them.

So I built them a house.


Hardware cloth floor
Hardware cloth floor

I put it on top of the straw bales for their examination (the layer hens are the most curious and adventurous of the bunch).

And then I put it on legs.

img_4646Knowing they want to be at the highest point in the room, it’s up in the air.  In fact, I won’t be able to take it out of the GH without taking the legs off, so…it’s either going to stay in the GH forever, or dismantling it is, to move their coop outside.

My big idea is to get them to roost IN the coop every night, and then in the summer they will continue to sleep in the coop, instead of the trees, where I can shut the door and they will be safe.

That’s my big idea.  Chances are good that the guineas have other ideas.

The first night, HW moved them from the header to the coop.  They were unimpressed and jumped up to perch on the top edge.  That’s ok with me.  Sleeping on their coop is a good start.  Maybe when it gets colder they’ll have more interest in huddling.

It has a protruding stick so that they can fly to it and then shuffle inside.  The roof is partial because I don’t have a piece of plywood the right size handy, so I set some scrap on it.  No door yet either.  That can come after they sleep in it.


It’s been one year of dog.

He’s alright.

One year ago we collected a fur bag of problems.  How many problems cannot be overstated.

However, under the heavy guilt trip/awareness that we would be the last chance for this challenging, thrice-rescued dog, and with the help of Cesar Millan (dog god) and his sage advice (Exercise first, then discipline, then affection), we managed to keep him.  Cesar’s insistence that any dog can be reformed (it’s just a lot of work), didn’t hurt either.  He wasn’t kidding about the work.

He took up so much time, he set back some of our projects.  Exercise, for a husky in young adult prime, is daunting.  We tried an hour a day (Cesar’s minimum).  It wasn’t enough.  A 20km trail run, 3x a week, is enough.  Just.  And that’s a run, pacing with a bicycle at trail speed.  Not walk, not jog.  It’s a ride that wipes me out, and I’m on a bike (I don’t look forward to when I have to do the dog run).  It tuckers him out until he’s content to lounge around for a day, and then he’ll be full of dog beans, ready to go again.

Post run smile
Post run smile

Thankfully, he has grasped from day 1 how to run with a bicycle, always attentive and respectful.  It has made it possible to exercise him adequately.

Somewhere along the way he became a reasonably good dog.

He’s not as embarrassing as he used to be.

One example of a lot of other charming traits he exhibited at the beginning: he had some phobia of the leash around his legs.  The lead simply getting looped under his “arm” would inspire him to suddenly hurl his body in all directions at once, thrashing and flailing around on the ground while shrieking insanely about it; on the whole, behavior appropriate to being attacked by a swarm of hornets.  This was a mesmerizing spectacle, especially because it often wasn’t clear what provoked the scene.

It was effective, to a point.  Usually he came untangled out of all that thrashing.

Now, he gets a foot tangled and he hops along on three legs, waving the hooked paw around to free it with a resigned look on his face.  Again?  Like a normal dog.

When I see him running around smiling, and greeting me, and wagging, and running to me when I whistle, I found you! and otherwise being a “normal dog”, I remember the contrast.  We did not take receipt of a normal dog.   It was months before we saw flat ears (a relaxed submissive indication).

I think he gets satisfaction now out of being obedient, and having a job to do (stick around, smell things, run with the bicycle, occasionally chase or herd things).

2015-09-28 17.44.14
There must be a cucumber in there.

He definitely knows the meaning of several commands and phrases: Where’s the dog?  Get out of there!  Get over here!  Is it time for a dog’s breakfast?  What do good boys get?  Come, let’s go, eat it, ok, sit, stay, down, drop it, bring it, get’em, high five, heel.  Heel was a real game changer.  I think it may be the most important thing to teach a dog.  To switch from a dog yanking up ahead or just being too rambunctious to quietly walking behind you, wow! Sometimes he takes it too literally and walks on the heels of my shoes, like we’re in elementary school.  That’s super annoying, but I don’t think it’s deliberate.  And the occasional damp nose or furry head bump on the back of a bare leg is kind of nice.

I am glad that he is totally unfazed by thunderstorms.  He talks about everything else; I’m glad he doesn’t freak out during storms.

I am not glad that he has not learned from the first 11 porcupines. *However, we have had some dead porcupines around these days, and although he is fascinated and compelled to investigate them, he approaches a porc corpse like it’s a bomb.  Tiptoes, neck stretched out to maximum length, inquisitively twitching nose at a careful inch and a half remove.  His last encounter was a tail slap, not a mouthful, so perhaps this is progress??

I am glad he’s a brown-eyed husky.

I am glad he grasps the concept of leashes, and trees.  I’ve known many dogs who completely fail to grasp leashes in conjunction with trees, stop signs, etc.  He very quickly sorts himself out when he wraps around trees, unless he happens to get double wrapped, which seems to be too much to deal with.  This reminds me of the classic intelligence test for animals with the tether and two poles.  Will the animal walk around the pole to reach the food?

I’m glad he hardly ever barks.  Almost never.   He barks at bears in the night, which is handy.  And oh, does he bark at porcupines.  More than once, I’ve heard “that tone” in his bark and set out at a dead run towards it, hollering in vain hopes of interceding.  This always ends with meeting him running towards me, as fast as he can with tail tucked and almost crouching,  yelping and crying and writhing in pain.

I’m not glad he’s the world’s lousiest guard dog.  Anyone can walk right up to him and he’ll jump.  Whoa!  Didn’t see you there.  You really snuck up on me.  He sleeps like a log through the night.  He’s not terribly useful yet.

I’m glad he is a vegetable dog.  Such a vegetable dog.  Crazy about vegetables, from the first time he started whining when I was feeding the hens lettuce, and I realized he was not salivating for a chicken, but eager to eat the lettuce.  Tomatoes are his number one, ranking on par with dog biscuits.  Carrots are dearly beloved.  He’s crazy about cukes.  Snap peas are an unconquerable temptation.  He has a spot he is allowed to lie just inside the garden gate, which he loves to do (he catches beans I toss to him).  I’ll park him there and be absorbed working, and every time I glance up at him, he’ll be still lying peacefully gazing at me, but he’ll be a few inches nearer to the bed with sugar snap peas in it.  Lettuce, kale, beans, squash…I haven’t fed him a vegetable yet he hasn’t eaten.

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I was going to give these carrot thinnings to the pigs, but another pet got to them first
2015-09-29 16.07.04
He sifted through the whole bucket one baby carrot at a time, leaving the carrot tops strewn about

I’m glad he’s come to terms with the chickens and now knows he may not put them in his mouth.  He’s actually not bad at responding to their alarm cries and even herding them.  The Silkies are another story.  He wants them in his mouth, bad.  But I’ll give him a pass on that.  They just too much resemble wind-up stuffed toys, and don’t resemble the contraband chickens at all.  It would be hard to associate.

I’m glad he talks.  So strange, how really only huskies and Malamutes vocalize like that, and it can only be called talking.  He’s conversing; there’s an exchange.  It’s just like talking to someone with another language. Neither of you understand a single word, but the meaning can be communicated.

He’s been encouraged to talk (we talk back to him), and I think I’m coming to understand some of his “speech”.  He’s got an awful lot to say, and it’s just wild how he will make a particular (complex!) set of sounds exactly over again, sometimes louder, or slightly faster or more intense.  He’s clearly saying the same thing again, deliberately.  Like, are you hard of hearing?  How many times do I need to repeat this?

Never a dull moment.