Who's a Good Dog?


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Dear B&A

arlo

Dear B&A,

I see you’ve bought us a new quilt.  I’m not sure why we needed one–to be honest, it seems like I only just got the old one broken in the way I like it.  You know, with the right blend of dog hair, muddy paw prints and holes.  But you have your reasons, I’m sure.  Just wanted you to know that I’ll get to work asap breaking this one in too.  Should only take a few weeks.

Sincerely,

Arlo


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Inside Games for Bad Weather Days

The dogs and I are taking a great online class through Fenzi Dog Sports Academy called Stir Crazy.  It’s taught by Donna Hill and focuses on games you can play in small spaces–like in your living room when it’s raining outside.  Here’s a clip of Arlo, Katie and me playing one of the body awareness games.  I thought it would be a good post for Force-Free Friday.  The idea is for the dog to go around and through the cones without touching them.  At nearly 4 years old, Arlo is still wiggly enough that this game is a bit of a challenge.  But Katie is older, calmer, and more experienced, and she had no trouble at all.  I cleared out most of the furniture in the living room and used ring gates to create an “audience” area for the non-working dog.  (I had to revise that plan a bit after Arlo figured out how to get around the gate and ask whether it was his turn again.) One of the really nice features of the course is that the games are suitable for dogs with a range of abilities.  My senior girl Katie who has some mobility issues has been able to do everything so far.  You can see from the dogs’ body language on the video that they’re both having a really good time.  Ditto for me.


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August Garden Notes

Earlier this week I ordered oat and winter rye seeds for fall cover crops.  It’s been a really good garden year, and I’ll be sorry to see it end.  But I’m already making notes for next year.  For instance, adding more raised beds was definitely a good move. 

tomatoesThey make everything easier for me–including watering and weeding, the two most time consuming summer garden chores.  The community garden has water, but in order to conserve our supply, which depends on rainfall, doesn’t allow hoses.  And watering by hand takes a l-o-n-g time.  We also had good success growing potatoes in raised beds this year.  The plants were huge and healthy and it was really easy to keep the beds free of weeds.

photo 1This is half of our crop–harvested yesterday and currently curing in the basement.

photo 2Another big discovery this year was that when it comes to weed control on paths between the beds, I much prefer newspaper to weed block and straw to mulch.  Last year I tried a few different methods, and I was pretty sure weed block plus straw or mulch would be most effective.  But I discovered this year that some weeds grew on top of whatever I used, especially when topped with mulch.  Rather than pull weeds from the weed block (which kinda defeats the whole purpose of weed block) it’s much easier to just put down more newspaper and straw.  No weed pulling required, maybe just a little trimming if the weeds are high.  It’s also more environmentally friendly–weed block eventually gets holes in it and has to be tossed out.  Newspaper and straw decompose.

Two other things I will definitely do again next year:  plant a buckwheat cover crop and grow lettuce under shade fabric.  I’m weirdly proud of my buckwheat cover crop, which I planted in June in the recently harvested garlic beds.

photo 3This was my first attempt at a summer cover crop, and it was really successful.  The buckwheat sprouted in about 10 days, and has done a fabulous job of blocking out weeds.  Not only will it eventually serve as green manure, but in the meantime, it’s attracting lots and lots of pollinators.

And then there’s my summer lettuce–heat tolerant, heirloom varieties grown under shade netting.  photo 5It’s way too hot here in the summer to grow lettuce in the open.  This shade netting (from Gardener’s Supply) worked great  and enabled us to have lettuce during the hottest months of the summer.  I’m trying to decide whether I even need to plant fall lettuce, because the summer crop is still going strong.

lettuceAlso thriving in the garden this week are Dragon’s Tongue Beans and basil (that’s my mom in the photo, helping me pick basil for pesto).

photo 4

basil

And last but maybe my most favorite–I spotted this guy yesterday hanging out on the milkweed I planted at the beginning of the summer.  He spent a long time there and didn’t seem to mind me taking photos.

 

monarch

 

 


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Saturday activities

I had a long to-do list yesterday which included a bath for Arlo.  Fortunately, he’s a dog who enjoys his bath.  I say fortunately because he can be sensitive to some kinds of handling (nail trims, for example).  But baths–no problem.  Not sure whether that’s luck or because before there were baths, there was his pool, which he loves.  I.e., when we set up for a bath and he sees us fill the pool (maybe) he doesn’t think, ugh a bath, but yay! I get to play in my pool!

My favorite part of that clip might actually be Katie (who does not enjoy baths) quietly slinking away.  If there were a thought bubble above her head, it might say Don’t mind me.  I’ll just sit over here in the shade while you wash that other dog.  He really needs it.

Hard to argue with Katie.  I wouldn’t want to get that heavy coat wet either.  Although she did give me a heart attack once when we were walking on the beach by rushing headlong into the ocean and dropping out of site.  At that point, I had no idea whether she could swim, so of course I followed her in (wearing all of my clothes).  As it turned out, she was a great swimmer, and after a few seconds her little head popped up and there she was doggy paddling like a pro.  So for Katie, swimming in the ocean–yes, please.  But baths–no thanks. I honestly don’t know whether Arlo enjoys a bath, or doesn’t notice he’s getting one because he’s focused on splashing around in his pool.  But, here he is post bath looking pretty pleased with himself. bath2 Meanwhile in the garden:  it was a stormy week, and I appreciated the break from watering.  Two weekends ago, I did a major clean-out of the strawberry bed, which is now prepped for next year.  strawberries I actually hadn’t realized you can’t just let strawberries be.  At the end of each season, they need to be “mowed” (cut back) and thinned out.  I’m guessing my failure to do that was one reason why this year’s harvest was lighter than in previous years.  And since my clean-out I’m seeing lots of new growth.  Go strawberries! Except for peppers, which were a bust, this year’s garden has so far been really productive.  We were eating peas and snow peas until this week.  And kale and lettuce have been producing like crazy.  And raspberries.  Garlic is looking ready–maybe this week.  After that beans and potatoes.  And then tomatoes. photo 4