Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Snowy Thanksgiving

It has been a very busy week with work, weather and celebrations.  My parents came to celebrate Thanksgiving with us and got to experience our first big snowfall of the year.  It was a bit like a blizzard last Tuesday morning but cleared up by the afternoon.  The animals survived it well and Bea and Gretel discovered that they like to eat snow!  We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with lots of good food, good company and my parents were able to meet our muddy animals.

The other morning I went to feed the animals after work.  At the last minute, I decided to take them for a walk because the neighbor dog, Pepper, was at the fence, crying for a playdate with Bea and Gretel.  I opened the gate and off they ran.  They ran and ran and ran.  When it was time to have breakfast, they came back immediately (which is a big improvement as they had a period of major disobedience!).  Neighbor dog Pepper was sad to be left to play alone.

Suddenly, I noticed that Pepper seemed to be stalking something.  We have no shortage of random critters around here so I went to inspect her prey.  I was dismayed to find that Rambo was frozen in the middle of the road.  In an instand, Pepper was off and runnig after Rambo.  He ran straight up the telephone pole!  I spent half the morning trying to get Pepper out of our yard.  Unfortunately, I don't think this rivalry is over! Pepper certainly enjoys a good chase.  In other news, Rambo (now called Bo Bo) has warmed up enough (after indulging in large amounts of cap nip) to let Brian and I pet him. 

Bea and Gretel continue to grow (we think they are close to 75 lbs) and are sweet as ever! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's Cold Outside!

Since fixing the fence earlier in the week we have not had any more escape attempts. The girls have been behaving so well that I decided to take them for a walk this morning before breakfast. They ran like crazy in the back pasture and then took a minute to walk the perimeter (typical behavior of the breed who instinctually guard their property). A few minutes later, Gretel decided she was hungry and ran back up to the fence, wanting to go back in for breakfast. It was a good morning.

The weather has been getting colder every day. There is snow on the mountains around our house and the animals' water freezes in the morning. The water in the hose froze the other morning as well which was rather inconvenient. The goats and dogs seem to be tolerating the weather well, staying snuggled in the A-frame at night.

Arthur is doing just fine with the transition to winter, staying snuggled up inside the house.

Monday, November 15, 2010

BBB (Bad Bea and Betty)

Nearly every time I take care of a dying patient at work, a member of their family says to me "I don't know how you do this job". The truth is, I'm not sure how I do it either. All I know is, regardless of how hard my shift was and how many tears were shed, when I see our animals running to greet me in the morning, a smile comes to my face.

And I love our animals even though they are often naughty. A few days ago, a man was walking with his dog in our neighbors's pasture. Bea and Gretel were barking and barking. Finally, it was more than Bea could handle. The next things we know, Bea is on the other side of the fence. Luckily for us, Gretel (still being a nervous pup) could not figure out how to get out so Bea stayed close to the fence, waiting for her sister. We were able to lure her with a bone back into the fenced area.

We were not sure how Bea got out until yesterday. We saw her first standing up against the fence. Then her front paws went over. She hung on the fence for a few minutes (I was so afraid she was going to hurt herself!) and finally was able to scoot her hind legs over. Needless to say, we were outside until after dark making reparations to the fence. Our back yard is starting to look a bit like a military compound with its rough fencing but at least our dogs stay safely at home!

We have been working on transitioning the cats to live outside. Rambo has not slept inside for nearly a week. He has found a hidey-hole where he is safe and warm overnight. Betty has stayed outside a few nights and had done quite well. Until last night. Both cats were on the roof and all night we could hear the pitter patter of little feet and littler feet (cats and mice, ick). We imagine that Rambo enjoyed himself very much. Betty, we know for sure, did not. She sat outside our bedroom on the balcony and meowed. And meowed and meowed and meowed (much like Lily, the lovely cat I left with my parents). She must have sat there for a good four hours. At six in the morning, Brian couldn't stand it anymore and let her in downstairs. Our new plan is to build her a place in the garage so she can still have some indoor space without occupying Brian's 'man room' in the basement.

Aside from the above adventures, we have been enjoying Phillippe's daily visits. We have also been watching the Kites that hunt in the pastures around our house. Not the type of kite you would imagine, but a bird that hunts by hovering in one spot and then diving down to catch its prey. They are beautiful birds. We also have a pair of Red-tailed Hawks that live nearby. I am getting lots of use out of my binoculars....

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Feels like Winter!

The last few days have been fairly quiet. Brian has been home due to problems in the candy kitchen at work. We have been able to take the dogs for walks in the pasture. In light of our previous experience, we now leave the goats behind at the house. The girls have been behaving well except for a minor run-in that Gretel had with one of the neighbor's cows. She tried to chase it but it ran straight at her. She took off in the other direction with her tail between her legs, traumatized.

The coyotes were out and howling again last night. From our balcony I watched Bea and Gretel both bark ferociously. Bea stood up on her hind legs, her head now high above the top of the fence. She wanted to get to those coyotes so badly. Great Pyrenees are known to jump fences. Thankfully Bea isn't quite bold enough for that yet, but we may be needed some five or six foot fencing in the future!

It rained most of yesterday, with high winds and temperatures down to the 20's overnight. No snow this morning but the feel of winter is certainly in the air! The dogs fur was wet from rain and was stiff with cold last night. I worried they would be cold but all four animals snuggled together in the A-frame and all four seemed fine this morning. Hopefully it will keep them warm as the temperatures continue to drop!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Our First Weekend Away

Brian and I went to Portland for a quick trip this weekend. It was the first time that both of us had been gone for a whole weekend. We left our house and animals in the care of a co-worker. Although we completely trust her housesitting abilities, we worried about the animals the whole time we were gone!

Thankfully, all animals were accounted for when we returned. Nothing was obviously amiss. This morning, however, I noticed a few things. The dogs have always enjoyed digging holes in the backyard. It is characteristic of Great Pyrenees (and puppies!) to dig. Usually the holes are in the middle of the yard. We assume the are looking for grubs (when we had their poop tested for worms when they were babies, the vet told us it was full of bug parts - they really enjoy eating bugs!!). Two new holes appeared over the weekend and this time they were right next to the fence. Good thing the dogs are so big it would take them weeks to dig themselves under the fence!

I also noticed that most of the straw was missing from the goats hay feeder. My initial reaction was "Wow, those goats must have been hungry while we were gone!" Then, after giving the girls a treat this morning (I'm getting really bad about spoiling them...) I went back in inside and upstairs. When I glanced outside, Bea was sitting in the hay feeder! I'm still not entirely sure how she got in there but it must be a soft dry place for her to enjoy her treats.

The cats continue to become more comfortable with their new lives here. They have started spending the night outside. And we found another dead mouse! Never thought I'd be so excited about that...

Some of you may wonder about Arthur, as I haven't mentioned him very much in the blog. Arthur is doing very well and enjoys his life as the only real inside animal. As he doesn't realize he is a dog, he is just fine spending his days napping on the couch and cuddling. Arthur's life is good!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Bea's House

When Brian drove to Astoria to pick up the puppies, the breeder told him to bring a large carrier and to prepare for the dogs to get carsick on the drive down. Sure enough, Bea and Gretel threw up on eachother the entire seven hour drive home. Later, the girls used the house to hide during their first thunderstorm. After that it was Bea who we most frequently found sitting in the house. She would often kick Gretel out. So we called it Bea's house.

Yesterday Brian decided to move Bea's house across the pasture to see if the animals would like it better. Sure enough, within minutes, the goats were both inside the house. A minute later Bea joined them. I couldn't believe two goats and a 70lb dog would fit in that little house! It was pretty fun to watch. We are hoping to add a picnic bench next to their playground (goats love to climb!)

I am pleased to report that we finally have a mouser! Last night we found a dead mouse right in front of Rambo! This morning when I went to open the back door, both cats ran out and have been on the prowl ever since. They are finally getting used to our house and de-stressed from their lives in the shelter. Makes me pretty happy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Another Beautiful Day

One of my favorite parts of my new country life is feeding our animals. Since Brian has started working at the factory, I am on breakfast duty. We usually feed the animals together in the evening. When I come home from work in the morning, all the animals run up to the fence to greet me. No matter how difficult my night has been (and being an oncology nurse, things can get tough!) Gretel, Bea, Weekend and Maia always put a smile on my face.The dogs get to eat their kibble twice a day. Recently, I have been giving them lots of different chews to occupy their puppy mouths. They love to chew! Sometime they chew on sticks. The goats get clipping from various trees. They even eat pine needles! Amazing what their four stomachs can digest.
We have been very much enjoying the more frequent appearance of Phillippe the pheasant. We think he has been more adventurous in gathering food in light of the coming winter. He really is a beautiful bird! Hoping none of the neighbors decide to eat him for dinner!
We have been told there is a yearly elk run through our back pasture. They gorge themselves on the leftover pears in the orchard behind our house then come into our pasture to rest. Our neighbors have already gotten elk tags for this year. Will be interesting to see what happens!