Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Kill them all

There is a lot of information out there on pure bred dogs and closed registry systems. Terrierman writes about the evils of closed registry a lot. There has also been a lot in the news lately about dangerous breeds.

usually they mean pit bulls, rottweilers, and the like. I don't claim to be an expert on dog breeds and which are dangerous and which are not. there have been calls for "breed bans" to keep certian dogs out of the hands of people that want to own them.

There is also a lot out there about kill rates and dog shelters. PeTA is famous for the high percentages of animals that die in their shelters. Then there is the other side of the spectrum and the "no kill" shelter.

Denmark has a new idea.

Ban the pests and kill the rest. under consideration is the ban of some breeds and the disposal of the mongrels.

all cross-breeds should be killed. An estimated 40,000 mongrels are born in Denmark each year and a general cull would sentence to death hundreds of thousands of animals.

I suppose there is no hope for the personal responsibly of owners. I keep hoping that people will pop up and try to do the right thing for their charges - but maybe that is too much to ask.

Hat tip to Querencia for this article. Read it for yourself. Interesting stuff.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Life choices

I am definitely not anti-hunting. Talking about trying pig hunting here soon - as a matter of fact.

But that's not the point. I read a good article today from NorCal Cazadora. It was about change - no, not the Obama brand of change that has been circulating, but more about making informed choices.

She's decided to stop hunting with lead. A choice I fully support,

She says that she hasn't drunk the Kool-aid. Instead, she read, she informed herself.

To get back to the other question: I've stopped hunting with lead ammo; should you do the same? I'd say that's entirely up to you. I think the only thing I'd recommend is to research it yourself. Don't let the NRA tell you what to think. Don't let HSUS tell you what to think.

If you're reading this blog, you know how to use the Internet - do some searches. Read the studies. Decide whether the problem is serious or threatening enough to warrant a change in your lifestyle.

She decided that it was an important thing - something she needed to act on. Pop over and take a look. She maps out the choice pretty well. What about you?

Coat of Preference

When it comes to dogs - there is one thing that everyone can agree on.... that most of us won't agree.

I have some specific requirements when it comes to dogs coats. These requirements come to me as a compromise between myself and my wife, but they have worked for me thus far.

As most of my dogs are inside dogs - they sit on the couch and sleep on the bed - we don't want heavy shedders. There are a few ways to go about this, but when it comes to dogs that can get out into the elements to do a little work, the best way for me is to opt for the rough coated dog.

The mini schnauzer is supposed to have a wire coat, but here in the US, it is very difficult to find a decent coat. Here they tend to be too soft, and catch easily on briers, thorns, and sand spurs.

I can't even walk the dog off of the road, as her feet get to caught up in briers. I end up carrying her all the way home and waste a bunch of time.

The coat of the dog has to match the terrain that you hunt.

A long coat can catch like the schnauzers did. It catches and sheds, and is hard to groom.

The short coat is great. It doesn't shed much, but I worry that it doesn't protect enough against the elements. Patrick - over at Terrierman will disagree - but it is a concern of mine when we spend hours on end in the bottom lands, wet and cold. I would rather have a dog with fur.

So when looking for a hunting dog - I like a traditional wire coat. Wire coats are hard to find. My first terrier had a nice one - and I got really lucky with Gordon. His is perfect.

The hardest thing about a hard wire coat is keeping it up - it really needs to be stripped, or the dog needs to be hunted. That way he will be stripped naturally.

Over at Born to Track - he talks about his good wire coats often. Just recently he said:

With most wires, the best approach to grooming is by hand-stripping. This is the only way that will maintain a correct wiry and harsh texture of the coat. By pulling out old coat you will make room for a new and strong coat to grow in. If you clip your wire, you will just cut the hair tips, that's all. The old coat will not be removed, and in the long run the coat will lose its desirable harsh texture. I tried to find a good guide to stripping a wirehaired coat on the web, and the article I like very much (not too technical and lengthy) is at It deals with Border Terrier's coat but principles are exactly the same.

You can do the same with a rough coat in a jack russel too. But many people just choose to leave them alone - unless you are showing them, or you don't like the bit of hair that they will shed - just leave it.

But, as I said before - everyone will disagree. Boarder collies have their coats for a reason, as do labs, and pointers. Choose the one that is best for where you hunt and what you hunt.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rabbit stew

I haven't had a lot of experience cooking rabbit. Mostly I just fry it like chicken and gravy.

Here is Carl, teaching us to cook German Hossenfeffer.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The hat makes the difference

The bees have been busy and it was long over time to put a new super on. I had gotten my bee keepers coat and hat in the mail just the other day (thanks ebay) and was now ready to try it again. I have to say, I was much calmer wearing the right equipment.

My son manned the smoker.

We opened the hive and checked the combs.

To my untrained eye, everything looked good. The bees had been working hard and there was activity on every comb that I looked at.

I'm not sure if we will get honey this fall - but these bees are looking really good to me.

We added the new super and closed up the hive.

Mission accomplished. I stayed cool as a cucumber.

Luke says A- O.K.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Some dogs undesrtand better than others

Dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be companion animals for humans. More importantly, dogs have been bread to make the lives of people easier.

Historically, the dog that followed direction was desired over the dog that didn't. Now, I'm not talking about "pet dogs", I 'm talking about dogs with jobs.

Scientists have been finding that dogs that have historically work with people, understand better than dogs that work independently.

In other words - pointing dogs know our language better than terriers. Herding dogs - understand us the most.

Márta Gácsi, from Eötvös University, Hungary, worked with a team of researchers to examine the performance of different breeds of dogs in making sense of the human pointing gesture. ScienceDaily Gácsi said, "It has been suggested that the study of the domestic dog might help to explain the evolution of human communicative skills, because the dog has been selected for living in a human environment and engaging in communicative interactions with humans for more than 10,000 years. However, this study is the first to reveal striking difference in the performance of breed groups selected for different characteristics."

The researchers found that gun dogs and sheep dogs were better than hunting hounds, earth dogs (dogs used for underground hunting), livestock guard dogs and sled dogs at following a pointing finger. They also out-performed mongrels. Moreover, breeds with short noses and centrally placed eyes were better at interpreting the gesture than those with long noses and widely spaced eyes, which can probably be connected to a more optimal retinal location of greatest visual acuity, that might help focus their attention.
Does this make one dog any better than the other? No. Every dog has a purpose. Just be sure you know what you are getting.

Never thought about it

My parents live in upstate New York. Smack in the middle of their suburban neighborhood, with Starbucks, Applebees, the mall, and Walmart is a sheep farm.

When I was in high school, it was considered a "landmark". As in.... "Take a left at the smelly farm."

I appreciate the farm much more now than I used too. When we visit over Christmas and in the spring, it is a pleasure to see the ewes with their babies wandering the fields. Then, one day, they are miraculously all sheared (shorn?).

A few years back, they added some alpacas to the farm.... I never thought about the shearing process for those. I have some Alpaca clothing, but the process must be different for a bigger animal.

Over at the Beneficial Bee, she has done a great job of explaining the process. A few grown men, some shears, a grinder, and a tarp. It's an involved process.

It seems a lot more involved than I thought.

They even had to trim its teeth.

Check it out.

Something to think about before you go and buy yourself a couple.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Dog; or the Wine Man Cometh

The chickens were strangely silent.

It was early morning, 6:40, the time I normally go out to feed them and water them before work. I headed out towards the coop. I had a small flock of 7 chickens, mostly brown mixed breeds. And I have a great rooster. He is large and bold and struts like he owns the place.

But he was strangely silent this morning.

I wandered back to the coop, only to be met at the gate by the biggest black lab I'd ever seen his head up, saliva drooling from one corner of his mouth, and his tail waving furiously. At his heels was a smaller pit bull mix, a dead chicken in his mouth.

I yelled. The pit bull dropped the chicken and looked up at me like he was waiting for his treat.

I pushed past the lab and the coop was in ruins. The wire had been yanked free of the post in one corner and the door had literally been pulled off the hinges. Feathers carpeted the ground in and around the coop.

There were bodies tucked here and there.

The dogs just looked at me. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to scream, but.... But. The dogs just smiled up at me.

I grabbed their collars and pulled them into the yard, tying them up with a jump rope. The owners number was on the collar and I called on my cell phone. He lived across town and was frantic for his dogs.

I went back and surveyed the damage.

Three chicken carcasses limp in the dirt. There was no blood, so I assume they were shaken (not stirred) I fished them out and tossed them in the freezer for the hawks. The other bodies were missing. I had no idea how long the dogs had been harrying the chickens, so their bodies could be anywhere.

I heard the crunch of tires as the owner pulled up. It turned out he was a cyclist friend of mine. We ride together from time to time. His dogs had escaped the fence sometime last night and found their way across town in the darkness.

My friend was devastated that his dogs did this to my birds. "Can I replace the chickens? Can I pay you?"

How much is a flock of pet chickens worth?

I had chicks in the incubator - The flock would survive this, but it would be a while before it would be giving me eggs again.

I let him know that my wife and I prefer white wines - not too dry.

It was time for work, and as I pulled out of the driveway, I heard a cluck-clucking coming from the woods behind my neighbors house.

Two chickens survived. I found them wandering around the coop when I got home from work.

The rooster sauntered out of the woods later.

I patched up the coop. It wasn't pretty to begin with, and I was thinking of rebuilding - this has just advanced my time line.

The chicks are growing quickly.

And today - the wine man cometh. Two well chosen bottles.

It's going to be okay.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why do you hate snakes?

It got a call from a parent the other morning. "Can my daughter bring a snake into class?"

I love it when kids show interest in the outside world. I asked the mom what kind it was. they weren't sure, but someone had cut the head off of it. They thought it might be a copper head.

I wasn't thrilled about a dead snake in my room - it was gonna smell - but this might be a rare opportunity to educate the kids about what a real venomous snake looks like. It is one thing to see a picture, and totally another to see the real thing. This could be a good lesson.

When the little girl got to school, she was excited to show me her treasure.

It was gorgeous. It was an absolutely beautiful red rat snake. 3 feet long and beautiful - but it had no head.

The children and I discussed why we should not kill snakes. Identify them, respect them - don't kill them.

I don't understand the inherent hatred so many people have for snakes.

Here's one scientific theory: Humans and other primates are predisposed to acquire fears of critters that once threatened our ancestors' lives.

Psychologist Susan Mineka. of Northwestern University contends that we have a predisposition to such memories" because our ancestors once had to face snakes, certainly more so than, say, ovens. Because they survived, those who rapidly acquired the fear were most favored in natural

Mineka, along with University of Wisconsin psychologist Michael Cook, put the theory to a test in six rhesus monkeys. Reared in the lab, the animals had no prior exposure to snakes. The psychologists showed a videotape of wild-reared monkeys reacting with horror to snakes. Within 24 minutes, the lab monkeys acquired a fear of snakes.

The psychologists then edited fake flowers, a toy snake, a toy rabbit, and a toy crocodile into the video. Tests later showed that after 40 to 60 seconds of exposure to each object, the monkeys feared only the toy snakes and crocodiles. Of the four objects, only snakes and crocodiles preyed on our ancestors. Coincidence?

I can't explain it. Maybe the psychology is true. maybe people learn their fears. All I can ask is that people educate themselves. How can that be bad?

First sting

Well, it had to happen. I got stung for the first time. It wasn't as bad as I expected. I don't know if it is the strain of bees (Italian), or if the stings just aren't as bad as I remember, but it has happened.

A few days previous we had gone into the hive for the first time. They didn't seem at all happy when we did that, but they tolerated it. The real problem is that we only have one beekeepers hood and my son gets to wear it. First time violating hte hive went without incident.

We've been feeding the bees with a front feeder since they came in. I wanted to be sure they were getting plenty of food as they settled in. I went to change the feeder.

It was early in the morning, and the bees were slow and lethargic. I pulled the feeder out from the front of the hive, and the bees immediately began to swarm out of the hale recently vacated by the feeder. Up around my body and head.

I wasn't wearing gear. I was only changing the feeder.

I backed up, bu was too slow. One had landed high on my left cheek, and plunged its stinger into my face. I didn't feel it as first, as I brushed the bee off, but a warmth slowly spread across my face.

I backed up further and found my way inside. My cheek was hot to the touch, and I could feel the stinger under my eye, like an errant whisker.

Peering in the mirror, my face was starting to swell. I took a few Benedryl, squeezed out the stinger and that was it. No climax.

The swelling went down and I went to work. Nobody noticed.

I ordered a bee keepers hood and jacket, now my son and I can work together. I need to put a super on top of the hive. I'm going to wait until my new gear shows up.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

No Time

Ever have times in your life where everything happens all at once, and by the time you sit down - you are too mentally exhausted to even read or write? It's been like that. Travel, kids, soccer, work, and more work... It all all catches up.

But I'm here.

Just a short montage of whats going on here.

Kids find some vines.



Boy Scouts


And More.

I need to post about the dog caused decimation.