Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday. June 30, 2013

Progress Report: - The first row of concrete blocks for the basement has been laid and pea gravel has been added around the base of the basement too. The building site was considerably drier today so I got a much better look-see. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)
After the concrete has been poured, it must set for three or four days to harden before any further construction can happen. The concrete blocks are on site now to build the basement walls and the walls for the crawl space. After those have set and hardened, three inches of concrete will be poured for the crawl space. 

The outside of the basement walls will be 'painted' to prevent water seeping into the basement when finished. That water-proofing coating is on site now too. Drain tiles, more pea gravel, and finally sand will be added around the basement walls. One or maybe two tile lines will be extended from the basement to the ravine to draw water away from the house using gravity; pumps will not be necessary.

Clair is going to have the grass over the septic field mowed; passing through that field to get forth and back from the pole barn to the building site has been problematic. He will also have an electrician run a line from the new circuit breaker box in the west half of the pole barn to the building site.

John and Ron, the men who dug the foundation, are going to remove more topsoil from the future driveway site and replace it with something that will provide more support for trucks arriving with building materials. They've been getting stuck in the soft soil - made softer still by all the rain we've been having this year - normal rainfall for June is about 2 - 2.5 inches. This year we've had close to 6 inches.

John and Ron are going to pull at least two more stumps from the east field abutting the ravine. I hope they remove the stumps from the site. They are also looking at how to reduce or prevent further erosion in the ravine; they are going to fix the septic field for the pole barn - eventually.

Last week I somehow threw out my lower back and was in a lot of pain; could hardly move. Fortunately I was well enough this morning to be able to drive up today to see progress. Funny- - - I don't remember it taking so long to heal when I was younger (ha!).

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Jennifer Sander's Icelandic Sheepdog Lee was shown today at the Lima Kennel Club show in Lima, Ohio by Nicki King and Kayla Bruner and took Best of Breed three days in a row and got a Group Three today under Judge Richard Lewis. Austin earned a Group Two.

Left to right: Nicki King, Lee, Austin, Kayla Bruner. Austin's tongue is visible; Austin - not so much!

This is from the earlier show under AKC Judge Jon Cole when Lee got a Group Three. 
Lee has been getting a lot of Group placements this spring and summer! Good job Nicki!! I may be slightly biased (wink, wink) but I think Lee is an excellent typey Icelandic Sheepdog.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Harbor Beach

Harbor Beach is a larger city further north from my place on Lake Huron in Michigan's Thumb. Christine Vowles visited me from Washington state recently and sent me this view of the Marina in Harbor Beach. What a neat way to see what the weather is like and what's happening dredging and boat-wise.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013 - "There's money in muck!" and I certainly have a lot of clay muck.
The outlines of the house are now etched in concrete. The photo above was taken looking roughly east north-east and shows the back porch closest to the camera, the bedroom on the left, the kitchen/gathering room, and furthest from the camera, - the front porch.
This photo was taken from the north woods and is looking south. Closest to the camera is the bedroom over a crawl space and to the left of that is the front porch.
 The garage looking east.
Looking north towards the woods, the garage is closest to the camera, the deeper hole is the partial basement, then the rest of the gathering room and the bedroom, and to the right is the front porch.
The basement looking from the west towards the east. The pile of dirt in the background is rich black topsoil that was removed before construction started and will be graded and spread around the house once construction is finished.
On the left where you see the sawhorse is the garage, then the partial basement, and on the right the front porch.

I don't know how they can work in this heavy, heavy yellow clay soil. We've had excessive rain this year which compounds the difficulty of working with clay.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yesterday, June 18, 2013

Yesterday, June 18, 2013 - - - - they started on the house. After all the delays the digging has started. 
                                              (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)
I met John today who drives the Komatsu and last week I met his brother Ron. I'm amazed at the job they're doing. Very impressive. 
A good thick layer of topsoil has been scraped away and saved to build up the soil level higher than it is currently. The house has to be raised higher than the septic tank field, which is about two feet higher than the original soil. That means more soil will have to be added around the house and graded or sloped to meet the existing, untouched soil. 
Under the topsoil there is a thick layer of clay in most places. You can see where some of it has collapsed above. That will be the basement. The house will have a small-ish basement ; the rest will be a crawlspace
There was an old electrical line wrapped around a tree and we always wondered if it was live and where it went. We suspected it was going to the pump in the well down on the shore - - and it is. Unfortunately it was severed during digging but they have spliced it back together and will 'fix' it permanently later; the pole barn still has well water. There is a new water line from the city which runs from M-25 to the edge of the property so the house will have city water. There is also a fireplug not far from where the house will be.
There's John near his Kamatsu. We know also now where the pipeline runs that brings water up from the well to the pole barn. It runs under where the house will be but it's deeper so it will remain untouched.
It looks like more of the trees, probably the birch trees and the big tooth aspen in the photo above, will have to be removed to accommodate the higher soil level when the house is built which bothers me not at all. The big tooth aspens are extremely brittle, break in storms and have short lives. There are also some birch bark trees that may have to come down but there will be many left near the bluff; they are also a short lived tree.
The yellow lady slippers are still flowering in the evergreen forest.

Some stumps have been pulled out of the ground to make room for the machines and the driveway; the man who was supposed to take the wood did not finish loading it and removing it. I hope that issue can be solved but at this point that's also NMP - not my problem.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Yellow Lady's Slipper - Cypripedium calceolus

As I was getting ready to leave SanS this morning, I walked into the pine forest west of the pole barn and found individual flowers and several clumps of the orchid Cypripedium calceolus, yellow lady's slipper.

I had been working in that area cutting down Russian Olives and thinning dogwoods and swamp willows earlier this week and noticed the stalks of several plants which I thought looked like they might be orchids. I'm so glad I took a short walk this morning before we left! It was drizzling and the grass was wet but I managed to take a few shots of some of them. The pine forest is quite wet early in the spring and that probably is what encourages them as they like their roots 'wettish". They are found in common in bogs and wet forests, which describes my land.

I'm awestruck!
                                                Clicking on photos enlarges them!

SanS Friday, June 7, 2013

SanS Friday, June 7, 2013
Clair Kramer is my builder and he's anxious to get started; unfortunately Sanilac County is slow processing applications. My "porch", for the present anyway, Clair's utility trailer and a daisy by the pole barn. SanS - pronounced like Kansas, is short for Sans Souci.


Lee (Vinlands Leifur) finished his Bronze Grand Championship yesterday.
                                                 (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)
Here's "Fluffy Butt" with his handler Nicki King in the Group Ring - photo taken by Cathi Winkles.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Resource Guarding - Saturday, June 1, 2013

Francis sent me the following message. I've edited it slightly.

Just received this message from one of my new puppy owners. I've never had a problem with resource guarding with my own two Icelandic sheepdogs. They've always been fine with other dogs eating next to them.

"The sweet little dog pictured here has begun to exhibit signs of resource guarding and I wondered if you had any advice for me. In the past, Pála would snap at the air every so often if I reached down to move her food dish or take away a kibble-stuffed Kong, but last weekend she turned into a snarling, biting little monster with my Mom’s dog. It happened when Pála was consuming the small poodle/terrier’s food (Willy is a notoriously slow eater, while Pála inhales her food). There was no injury, but other than avoiding the situation in the future by separating the dogs while eating, I wondered if we could try some training regimens. I’ve started following Pat Miller’s advice in The Power of Positive Dog Training, but wondered if you had any other tips.

Other than this episode, Pála has been wonderful—my new best friend."

First of all, everyone must find by experimenting, by trying different training methods, the one that works best for themselves. Dogs, like humans, are individuals and what works for one trainer/dog team may not work for another team.

I have several dogs and they all eat their dinners together in the confined space of my smallish kitchen-dining area - about 12' x 12'. They each have their own bowl to eat out of but all the bowls are the same. However, I put the bowls down one by one when feeding and I don't put the bowls of the dogs in the same places for every meal. In other words, no dog has his/her own bowl or feeding space. Does that make sense?

I do not disturb my dogs while they are eating. I am sure I could take their dishes away but why would I?

Please don't be aghast!  I give my dogs their breakfast by feeding them like chickens. Using my hands, I scatter their kibble in my family room. I try to make sure they all get their fair share. They do not fight over the scattered kibble - ever. I have to be fair. Tryggur eats lots so I make sure that there is more kibble near him; Kria is a very slow eater and I try and keep her slightly away from the others. Even when the other dogs stray into Tryggur's space or Kria's space, there are no incidents. I don't recommend that method of feeding to anyone else but it works for me to get the day started.

For lunch they get raw carrots cut into chunks, pieces, slices, strips. They sit and wait as I feed them one by one and each dog gets several pieces of carrot. (They eat lots of carrots!) I like feeding carrots, cabbage leaf ribs, broccoli and cauliflower stems, etc. because they don't add calories and they fill the dogs up. I make them sit before I give them each piece and they do it now without any command. They know they will not get their share without sitting first. They also trust me to portion the pieces out so that they all get their fair share.

A little history: - puppies nurse together; then, as they move on to semi-solid and solid food, they eat out of the same "hubcap" bowl. They get along fine. If there's any squabbling (and there usually isn't), they quickly seem to learn that the 'squabblers' will not get as much food as the puppies that get along well together.

However, when puppies leave their birth homes, they may move into a home with no other dogs and they may forget how to eat 'collectively' and peacefully. (I don't know if Pála lives alone or if she and the poodle/terrier live together.)

I never take food away from a dog - well, almost never. That would discourage trust. 

However, there may be times when you have to take something from your dog. It may pick up a piece of broken glass, or a bit of rusty or sharp metal, or some 'food' that could be harmful to it. So to prepare for that certainty - it will happen one day - I sometimes practice taking things away from my dogs.

You can start with a toy or a chewer or a kong or a bone. Start slowly and carefully. Always, ALWAYS, show them a more desirable treat than what they have and let them sniff it. Use the same command word so they learn it. It might be "Out!" or "Drop It!". That doesn't matter but always use the same word. When they drop the toy, treat, etc. quickly give them the 'better' treat. (It has to be a more desirable treat.) At the same time quickly and quietly remove the toy or treat they had and hide it behind your back or on top of the fridge, or kitchen counter, or a table. While you are doing that, repeat the praise for what you are teaching. That's important. Your dog has to know what has happened and that that is good. So repeat, "Good Out!" or "Good Drop It!" Your dog will quickly learn that when it gives something up to you, it will always get something better in exchange. Do not try to teach this UNLESS you have something better to give the dog in trade and you must give it immediately.

If the guarding extends to chewers, toys, kongs, bones, etc., then I would pick up those items and put them on top of the fridge. Anytime there is that misbehavior, if you cannot stop it by a command, take it away

That lesson (above) is a little off base for this issue/problem but the idea is similar. YOU are the boss. YOU are the alpha. And you are nice and reasonable.

When I feed my dogs their dinners, they must each sit before I put their dish down. This teaches them order and respect and also focuses their attention on me - the boss. I don't hesitate and make this a big deal. To begin with I use the command "Sit!" before I put the dish down. Because Icelandics are so smart, in two or three days' time they learn that they have to sit before I will put the dish down. Now they all sit automatically without commands when it is their turn to be fed. 

Tryggur is fed last but he always finishes first anyway. He will eventually visit all the other dishes when each dog is finished. Kria is fed first but finishes last. Indeed, all the dogs visit all the other dishes when the other dogs are done eating but not while they are still eating. I honestly don't know how that happened. I do not discourage visiting - after they are finished. I think it lets them know that they all got the same thing; there were no favorites. (There are actually differences in their diets - slight differences because of age, tendency to put on weight easily, etc.)

So a question might be, "How did they learn not to visit empty dishes until each dog has finished eating?" Maybe I discouraged them with an: -  Unh Unh! or a chin scratch or an attention grabber like, "Was that a good dinner?", "Did you enjoy that?". Regardless, they know not to visit any other dog's dish until that dog has finished. Even slow Kria gets her chance to finish before anyone can go visit her dish. They all visit all the other dishes. I think it's partly their way of checking up on me to see that I don't have favorites. Maybe. 

Related to these lessons is the "Leave It!" lesson from many blog entries ago. The point of all of them is that the food does not appear magically. It comes from me. I am the one they must listen to if they want their food, treat, toy, etc. That is not a mean thing to do. Dogs are pack animals. They are programmed genetically to follow the pack leader, the alpha dog (wolf). I just happen to be that alpha. 

In the case of Pála I might try feeding the poodle/terrier first and a few feet away from Pála and perhaps behind a barrier - an open cupboard door, around a corner, etc. Then I would hold Pála's dish up where she can see it and repeat stuff like, "Are you hungry?", "Do you want to eat?", "Are you the best dog ever?", "I've made the best dinner for you!", etc. with the idea of distracting her and making her feel really special. Before putting it down I would make her sit. When I put the dish down, I would continue to talk to her while she's eating repeating sentences similar to the above ones. (I would not ever pick her dish up until she is completely finished.) Talking to her would make her feel, perhaps, special. During this time I would be keeping track of the progress of the other dog's meal.

If the other dog is still eating when Pála is finished, I would make Pála the center of my attention maybe by having her do tricks, rewarded tricks, or talking with her. When the other dog has finished and has walked away from her dish, I would definitely let Pála visit the dish. 

It doesn't sound like this issue has developed into something extreme yet. If necessary, Pála might have to be fed in her crate, or perhaps both dogs will have to be crate fed but I would only do that if things get worse or are worse than they sound. I would avoid that for now.

Do they share a water bowl? Then this is not a biggie yet. Pála is still a very young puppy. I think she was born in January. It should be relatively easy to mold her behavior now while she is still young.