Monthly Archives: November 2009

The last puzzle piece

During trench digging breaks this week, I finished up the last canine agility contact obstacle: the Pause Table. D’Argo, of course, loves it. He loves anything that makes him taller. Odo’s not so sure about it, but will get on it if D’Argo isn’t hogging it (as in photo). I’m not sure what they’re both looking at. They’re probably waiting for someone to walk out the front door to give them treats. Now that all the pieces are built, I can create all kinds of practice courses to hone my handling skills.

Odo’s lukewarm about the whole agility thing, but I’ve been getting him to do the weave poles, the jumps and the tunnel, to keep his muscles strong and his back limber. If the treat is in front of his nose, he’ll do almost anything. With D’Argo, we’ve been working on distance, getting him to take an obstacle with me further and further away. It requires a lot of practice to convey my message through body language, and to build the dog’s confidence, but he seems to be getting it. Most importantly though, it’s all about having fun!

Where did October go?

I can’t believe we’re into November already. October was a rainy, cool month. Good weather to gather more firewood. We had left a lot of the wood for the neighbors, but nobody bothered to gather all the firewood left in the right of way, so I set out and gathered a total of five truck loads, three loads in the foreground of the picture, plus a rick of seasoned oak from a local store (background on the left). I can’t quite fit a full rick in my truck bed because of the tonneau cover, so Peter picked up the remnants in the Subaru wagon.

D’Argo spent much of the month hunting and finally had a dead gopher to show for it. I think he cornered it up against the weed barrier surrounding my gardens. He was pretty proud of himself. I’m still not sure how he killed it, an examination of the body showed no wounds. D’Argo was obviously working obsessively to catch his prey because he was plastered with red dirt and sand burs, one of which was wedged into his skin just under his eye. It’s unfortunate that his reward for doing what he believes is his purpose in life, was a bath.

Because the weather turned quite cool and was hovering around freezing, I decided to harvest my sweet potatoes. What a strange bunch of roots. A lot of them are quite big and round. I haven’t tasted them yet, they’re still curing in the garage.
My potatoes in the back garden started resprouting but the deer have been careful to eat each shoot. Grrr. I’ll be glad when I finished the refurbishing of those gardens so they’ll have the same protection as the front gardens.

My biggest goal for the month of October was to finish processing and sorting all my salvaged wood and to store it properly, the secondary goal was to clean the garage and organize it enough so that Peter could bring the car inside during the winter. When I finished removing all the nails from the wood, the piles of material were a little daunting. The picture doesn’t even include all of D’Argo’s agility equipment!

The first thing I did was build a wood rack at the back of the garage. The plans called for a fifth shelf but I didn’t want to interfere with car parking and I wanted a wider gap for storing plywood pieces. It took most of a week to build but it’s definitely sturdy. The previous homeowner had kindly left nails sticking out of every stud (I don’t know why), so it made anchoring the frame considerably easier.

Once the wood rack was built and all the wood stacked I set about organizing the rest of the wall so that almost everything was off the floor. All the agility jumps, the ladders, the tunnel and chute, even my conduit bending jig, have hangers on the wall. The gap where the plywood is leaning is the space for the agility a-frame and pause table (which is what the piece of plywood is for). We even hung a rubber ball that drops down when the garage door opens so that Peter won’t accidentally bump any equipment or the table saw.

Towards the end of the month we had a really heavy rainfall, 2.5 inches in about an hour. The soil was already fairly moist from all the previous rain. Predictably, with such a heavy downpour, we had gopher fountains popping up in the back yard. The water had nowhere to go, so, yet again, it flooded our house. We were out in the storm at 7 AM, before dawn, trying to divert the flow, but it still managed to seep over the slab into Peter’s office, a little in the kitchen and a corner of my studio. Luckily, we had removed the carpeting in Peter’s office a couple of years ago and hadn’t gotten around to replacing it. Still, it took most of the day to clean up and the carpeting in my studio was still damp the next day. The swales in the front and east side of the house worked just as designed and kept water flowing away from the house, unfortunately the gophers had undermined the swales in the back and we ended up with five fountains. November will be dedicated to finishing the back garden refurbishing which will prevent gophers from tunneling close to the house and create a protective terrace to divert runoff. Eventually I’ll need to deal with the source of the runoff, but that’s for another season.

My last project of the month was to complete D’Ago’s agility a-frame. This has GOT to be his favorite agility obstacle, although the walkway comes very close. He loves to sit on top of it, the king of the hill. The last obstacle I need to build is the pause table, which I started today. Then we’ll have the complete set of standard agility obstacles to practice on.