Sunday, 24 May 2009

Going Down

Following the loss of one hen, we are now down to only 3 - 4 eggs a day. We still cannot work out where or whether there are eggs being laid in some hiddeen place!! It is such a shame because not only were we having fresh eggs every day but three of our neighbours were regularly buying them too, which more than paid for their keep. We are trying to think of a way to keep them in a small area for a few days a) to find out if they are all laying at the moment b) If so hoping we can encourage them to lay somewhere accessible for us to steal their eggs!!

The kittens (as they will probably always be known) have got used to Tia. They seem to sense where she is and as soon as she goes indoors or is put in the kennel they appear in the garden. otherwise they stay in the paddocks, farm yard or the barn out of her way. Whenever we have visitors to the shop or to see us, they appear like torpedos to check them out and a hoped for cuddle or stroke. They seem to be active at night, judging by the noise they make on our roof sometimes. The log cabin has a steel roof, although it looks like tiles. When the kittens gallop over it, it sounds like a stampede. In the daytime they spend a lot of time sleeping in the hay trailer or sunbathing in the yard, always waking up if food is on the agenda.

We are having trouble mating some of our females. Four females who should be ready to mate are rejecting all attentions from the males. It is not unusual for this to happen with the odd one and we usually just leave them alone for a while and keep trying until they seem receptive, but it is not working this time. We are always reluctant to allow the males to force the females down as we feel that there must be a reason why the mating is not welcome. For instance, if a female has recently given birth it is understandable that not every one will be ready for remating at the same time. Likewise we sometimes do not mate a female if it is too late in the year so she might be "empty" all winter. We would then expect it to take more than one attempt for her to become receptive again. We have tried swapping suitors in case it is just a dislike of one male and are running out of ideas. Our only option seems to keep repeating the process in the hope that the females will change their minds.

Tia is still a work in progress but apart from not being able to let her off leash on her walks because of the alpaca chasing, she has become fairly normal. I am usually very good at getting dogs in to me and Tia is in to me but not in the usual way. Instead of wanting to please me I think she looks on me as a possession. She does not like any of our other dogs coming to me for fuss, although she is happy to share Mike. She is gradually learning that she is just one of the pack with no special priveleges but I am wary in crowded doorways or in corners because she can be quite snappy. She had a fight with Romie yesterday, mainly because I was making a fuss of both of them. Neither was backing off but Mike put his foot in and neatly flipped Tia on her back and before she knew it she was in her crate. We think she did not know what happened and probably thought Romie had done it. Although you would have thought they were killing each other, neither dog was injured and the only casualties were my wheelbarrow full of grass cuttings which got tipped over and a container full of plants. Neither do they seem to bear a grudge towards each other, so in dog terms it was probably just a tiff, although as a spectating human it seemed like potential carnage, not helped by the fact that Millie and Maddy thought it might be a good idea to join in the bundle. Luckily they do have a good recall and came to me when called.

Later she upset Sandy, our old terrior. With Sandy it could have been that she looked at her in the wrong way. Anyway the fifteen year old put Tia in her place very quickly. Tia did not respond to Sandy's growls and slunk off without even thinking of a fight.

I once qualified as a masseuse and although I have never been involved in the treatment of animals with the Tellington Touch methods, I have an inkling of what it is about, so I have been giving Tia some gentle massage especially round the ears and along her back and this seems to have relaxed her a lot. She had some very solid tension areas behind her ears and they have gone.

Added to this I make sure I play games with her every day - usually throwing a ball - so she gets exercise without me having to exert myself too much. At first I had to use a second ball to make her drop the first one, but now she brings it back and gives it to me most of the time.

She also gets fed separately and I hand feed her meals in small increments and she has to lie down or come to me in order to get a portion of her dinner. Again, I do not usually have a problem teaching dogs to come when called, but Tia is not even rock solid around the house and garden yet. I think in the past she has learnt that being "naughty" is the best way to get attention. I am trying to react in the opposite way to what she expects/hopes. If she won't come indoors we just shut her out - instead of the hoped for chasing round the garden to catch her. Until she comes instantly when there are no distractions we will have no chance calling her off the alpacas or the cats.

Wool sales are going well. We have had quite a few hand spinners who have bought raw fleece and have also been selling the yarn well, even though it is summer.

I have sacks and sacks of fleeces to sort. I plan to do it next week as it is getting in the way. At least once it is sorted it can be stored in the loft even if we do not send it off for spinning straight away.

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