Tag Archives: animals

Macadamia Castle & Ballina…Monday 7th January, 2019.

Well, our travels around Byron Bay continue today, as I explained, exactly a week behind the action in the interests of home security and also actually having a holiday while we were away. That didn’t mean I didn’t do any writing. This year, I’ve committed myself to writing more regularly in my journal (a page to a day diary) and would like to write every day but am not going to beat myself up if I miss a few days, especially atm when I’m trying to catch up on my travel writing here.

Naturally, we usually have the kids in tow when we come up to stay with Geoff’s sister at Newrybar just out of Byron Bay. However, the kids are currently away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree in Adelaide and  so our holiday was a little different. Geoff ended up staying at home and just sleeping trying to recover from the year at work and my in-law’s property is so green, lush and different to our own place, you don’t necessarily feel the need to go anywhere else. Well, unless you’re me and have to get out and immerse yourself in the incredibly rich, diverse and one-off cultural delights this region has to offer.

Above: These photos were taken at The Castle back in January 2009. They don’t have the piglets there anymore.

So, Monday afternoon saw us drive down the highway to the Macadamia Castle for afternoon tea. We usually take the kids there to see and interact with the animals. Although they’re now teens, they still love it and I find that it’s very much like visiting your grandparents’ farm. You never grow out of that. Geoff and I also love it there. However, we didn’t want to pay the entry fee for just ourselves and were more interested in our slice of Caramel Nut Tart. We have it every time we go there and it should come with plenty of caramel sauce, which it has ever other time we’ve been there and they were more than happy to bring more out. We bought a couple of postcards from the castle which we sent off to our kids at Jamboree but so far they haven’t arrived and they’re leaving today. Fingers crossed that that post office fairies can pull their fingers out and get them there in time.

Next, we were off to Ballina to get petrol and post the cards. Ballina is more of a business and practical shopping hub, although it is on the riverfront and quite pretty in its own right. Just not exciting and by and large, seems to lack the sense of creative overdrive you usually find in this region.

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Ballina Manor

However, we did see a sign to Ballina Manor and we went off to explore that. Unfortunately, we were too late for a tour but there’s always next time.

We also happened to park outside a discount book store and it won’t surprise you that that spelt TROUBLE!! I bought a few books as gifts but for myself, or to be more precise as educational material for my role as parent, I bought Maggie Dent’s  Mothering Our Boys. I managed to get about halfway through while we were away and had hoped to finish it by the time the kids returned from Jamboree, but there’s always going to be gaps and I’ve been busy trying to sort out our daughter’s room and somewhere stuck between a rock and a hard place, there’s my husband and I and within that, myself…me. Well, that’s why I’m sitting here with my cup of tea and am writing now. I needed a breather. Indeed, I needed to breathe full stop.

Well, this is a relatively quick stop off today. Tomorrow, we’ll be off to Bangalow.

Thank you for joining me!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I don’t know about you, but I often have difficulties finding photos to go with my blog posts, even for places like The Castle when we’ve been there something like 20 times over the years. I was looking for a photo of the front of the Castle, which really needs to be taken up by the road rather than where you park the car. I’m sure I’ve walked up the hill years ago to photograph the knight which stands guard out the front day and night. However, I couldn’t find it. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that I’ve often looking for that overall, big picture wide-angle shot for the featured image, while I most frequently take photos from a zoomed-in or close-up perspective. Indeed, working this out has been quite an insight into how I view and photograph the world and that I probably also need to zoom out more to make sure I take in the bigger picture as well as the minutiae.

Exhausting A Working Dog.

A working dog needs a job, a challenge and when none is provided, it will soon create a job of its own. Although Rosie and Zac, our year old Border Collie x Kelpie pups, love chasing balls and sticks right down to retrieving minute splinters and fragments, fetch becomes difficult when there’s no one home to throw. With no one to throw, somehow  being home alone translates into: “Let’s dig a hole.” Or even: “Let’s play wombats and dig a network of underground tunnels”. For all I know, they could even be digging an underground spy network, or even working on the great escape. No. They wouldn’t do that. They love us much too much. On the other hand, Lady, our Border Collie x Cavalier would be off in a flash. We’ve even had to install chicken wire along the fence line. Yes. She could well be called: “The Wanderer” :

“They call me the wanderer
Yeah, the wanderer
I roam around, around, around”

– Dion.

Humph…when you consider escape artists and the diggingest dogs, even I’m wondering why we’ve further complicated our already complex lives with three “unnecessary” dogs. However, love knows no bounds, no logic, no sense. We have four humans and only three dogs, not that we have room for anymore except on a temporary basis. After all, we’re not on a farm. Of course, this also means that when the dogs decide to dig large, wombat like burrows, our backyard becomes a safety hazard and it wouldn’t take much to break an ankle, let alone your neck.

This is when their excavating activities met their match. Deciding to distract them, Geoff built them the stick toy to end all stick toys…the Giant Stick Swing. He screwed a chain into a very big stick, which he suspended like a swing so the dogs could grip hold of the stick and wrestle with it for hours and hours while they keep trying to work out how to extricate the stick from its cage. Our daughter was given the task of getting them interested and then their new job began. Both of them were working flat out pulling at the stick trying to get it out, running round and round and back and forth. It was the perfect device for exhausting two very energetic working dogs. Happy Days.

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The Dog Proof Lawn Protector in situ.

By the way, the Giant Stick Swing is only Geoff’s latest invention. You might recall that I recently introduced you to the  Dog Proof Lawn Protector where Geoff attached a layer of protective chicken wire to a large wooden frame which he is moving around the backyard on the equivalent of a crop rotation system, where he’s sowing grass seed and installing new sprinkler heads as he goes. It’s a lot of hard work just to have a patch of green, especially when there are no guarantees. Growing grass seems to be as precarious as farming crops. There are no guarantees.

Yet, there are those green thumbed-freaks of humanity out there who somehow have a perfect lawn. Indeed, they have a manicured lawn, which looks like it’s been trimmed with a pair of nail scissors and is meticulously maintained. Lawn which is a show piece, a status symbol. However, the perfect green lawn is quite an indulgence when we’re in the midst of a severe drought. Yet, at the same time, we’re doing what we can to salvage our patch of green from three working dogs, the drought and sandy beach soil and we’re succeeding without too great a cost.

Do you have any dog posts to share? Or, perhaps you’re also struggling to nurture your own patch of green? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Road Kill Cafe…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’ve returned to Lower Crackpot, Tazmazia again and this week we’re off to the Road Kill Cafe. While this might appear to be in bad taste, it’s actually making an important environmental statement. On average, 32 animals are killed every hour on Tasmanian roads. Indeed, ‘More animals die per kilometre on Tasmanian Roads than anywhere else in the world,’ says Don Knowler, author of Riding the Devil’s Highway. ‘The scale of road kill in Tasmania is just colossal,’ he says, adding that almost 300,000 animals are killed a year, with some groups putting the figure as high as half a million. Another problem is secondary road kill. Animals like the very, endangered Tasmanian Devil, are run over while feeding on the road.

Road Kill Cookbook

We saw this for sale while we were in Tassie.

Addressing serious issues through humour is surprisingly effective, and much better than pointing the finger. Indeed, the message seems to filter in through the cracks, as humour allows us to approach threatening subjects in a non-threatening way and makes people more receptive to new ideas. Clearly, this is important when you’re trying to change someone else’s behavior or raise awareness of an issue which has previously passed under their radar.

Before I head off, I thought I’d leave you with one last comment from Lower Crackpot on global warming:

Global Warming

 

Thursday Doors is hosted by Norm 2.0 at Thursday Doors.  Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Our Son and the Rescue Pup.

This afternoon, I was tapping away on my laptop, when I glanced over and spotted a priceless moment. Our son was snuggled up on the couch with our Border Collie pup, Zac (ie Isaac Newton)  watching The Good Doctor. It’s Sunday afternoon, which quite frankly should be declared a “snooze zone” before having to return to the realities of “The Week” on Monday. Hence, I’d slept in, and was still in my PJs. That explains how I managed to capture the moment. I didn’t need to leave the house, or even my chair. My camera was sitting faithfully by my side, just waiting.

Zac is almost 4 months old, and we’ve had him since he was a little 6 week old pup, along with his sister Rosie. Rosie was meant to be a foster pup, and simply passing through. That was before she got caught in our heart strings. Zac and Rosie have also become inseperable. After all, they’re more than brother and sister. Now that the rest of their litter has dispersed, they’re “twins”.

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Rosie (left) Zac (right). Not quite identical twins.

Of course, with such young pups, you don’t know anything about their personalities, psychology or outlooks on life. You can only base your selection criterion on things like markings and which pup comes to you first. I was the one who chose Zac, because he had distinctive black and white markings, which I thought looked more like Bilbo. Our daughter chose Rosie as she has a broad, white stripe on her face, which she thought looked like Bilbo. Rosie also has black spots on her legs, which I wasn’t too sure about, but others loved. Both dogs were looking short-haired and Bilbo and every other dog I’ve ever had, has been long haired. However, I reasoned that short hair is better suited to our beach lifestyle. It was a tough choice.

Zac was instantly “my dog”, and he was also the pup most determined to turn a  recalitrant, growling Lady, into “Mum”. Rosie palled up with the rest of the family and was a little more cautious about turning to Lady for love. It soon became clear that Zac and Rosie were inseparable, and that having both dogs could be much less work than the one. They could occupy each other.

Back at the end of June before the pups came along, our beloved Border Collie Bilbo passed away. He was 11 years old and we’d had him since a pup. Back then, our son was 2 years old and our daughter was crawling. So, not only had Bilbo seen the kids go through the childhood years, he’d also been with us through each and every up and down with my severe health struggles. I don’t know whether all of that made him a sensitive soul, but he certainly was a very special dog.

And, Bilbo was also a survivor himself. Indeed, he was only a young pup when I was admitted to hospital for about eight weeks and he went from having the kids and I at home almost every day, to me being in hospital, the kids staying at my parents’ place and Geoff getting home super late from work after touring Sydney seeing the rest of us every day. On top of that, the pup also lived through the trauma. A stress beyond stress.

 

Above: RIP Bilbo.

At least, that’s how we explain Bilbo’s act of determined destruction, which could have killed the wee pup. Bilbo went exploring under the house chewing the the wifi and computer network cables. When an exhausted and irate Geoff retraced his paw prints under the house, he found that Bilbo had even started chewing on an electrical cable and must’ve received a slight zap, which made him stop.

Obviously, that wasn’t the best of times for us.

So, when Bilbo passed away, he took a lot more than memories along with him. There was also the deepest and most compassionate empathy, and an understanding of us which came with walking through the valleys and mountain tops with us and in our hearts.

Lady kids coffee

Lady.

While we have another dog, Lady, she doesn’t have that same sense of empathy or emotional depth…and isn’t quite so melancholy either. She’ll greet you with an uber-enthusiastic wag of the tail, which could almost take your leg off. She has different talents, but she also doesn’t fetch which was a rather difficult gap for us to ignore. We are a ball throwing family and that requires a dog to fetch, even if he was an annoying, obsessed maniac  more often than not.

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Zac & Rosie when they first arrived, aged 6 weeks.

Wanting to let our emotions heal before we adopted another dog, we were going to wait until next year and get another pure-bred Border Collie. However, I got word through the pet rescue group that some Border Collie x puppies were coming in. I could also see that our son could use another dog  now. At the time, this was more of a vague hunch than a neon sign.  although until Zac settled in, I had no idea that he had such a special capacity to heal. A capacity not unique to him, but not universal among dogs either. That he has a gift.

Reversing up a bit, not long after Bilbo died, I caught the flu and a nasty respiratory infection. With my underlying health issues, such infections become life threatening and I developed a powerful, incessant cough which was absolutely terrifying. After losing the dog, the kids were particularly concerned this year and didn’t have Bilbo for support.  After all, it was hard times like this, that Bilbo had always been there for every single one of us. Shaken by such fear on top of grief, our son in particular needed the love only a special dog can give.

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That’s why I was so stoked to see our son so snuggled up and entwined with the dog today. As a parent, we so often feel like we’re flying blind.Even when we know we’re doing our best, it’s all to easy to feel like we’re floundering. That despite our best efforts and utilizing every single resource we’ve got, that we’re still getting sucked into the vortex and drowning…along with our beloved child. Seeing our son so relaxed, content fused with the dog and knowing we’ve all made it through the storm, was such a relief. An answer to prayer in a way that made so much sense and yet seems hard to put into words on the weekly praise list…RESCUED DOG SAVES TRAMATISED CHILD.

And, so I’m happy.

In addition to sharing my joy, this photo marks Day 4 of the Seven Day Black Photo Challenge, which a friend roped me into on FB. The idea is that you post a B & W photo every day for seven days and you nominate someone new to take up the challenge every day. Today, I’d like to nominate Trent from Trent’s World.

Have you have a special dog or pet who has whispered magic into your life? Please share.

xx Rowena

Whoops! More Pups.

Yesterday afternoon, I received an urgent text. “My pups” were on the move, and ready for collection. These pups are two 5 week old kelpie pups,  and did I mention something  about being bottle fed? I didn’t think so. You know me. Blunder in where angels fear to tread only to find out about the details by default, when it’s all too late. Yet, it’s not everyday you have the chance to even see such young pups, let alone take them home. I don’t know about legislation where you live, but I think pups need to be 8 weeks old to be sold here. So, despite what should have been a healthy scepticism about taking on such a challenge, I jumped at the chance…the opportunity of a lifetime.

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Welcome to the dog house.

The pups are absolutely gorgeous and about the size of an adult guinea pig and have rolypoly tummies on stumpy legs. I don’t think they’ve been outside before and they wondered about a little like they’d just landed on a new planet. I’ll call that planet: “Do your business”. Although our house has literally gone to the dogs, I am TRYING to get them to do their business outside.

BTW, I know absolutely nothing about how to care for bottle-fed pups. Indeed, I didn’t even bottle feed my own kids until they were old enough that I didn’t have to be pedantic about cleaning all the bottles. By then, whatever was growing in those bottles was good for their immune systems…

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Mr and Yoda.

 

 

Just to fill in a few dots, I have volunteered as a foster carer for a local animal rescue group, Paws & Claws. I’m not sure how long “we” will be doing this. I am loving it and the pups are gorgeous, but we have our own pups to settle in and there will come a point where I’ll get the carpet cleaners in and at least have a break.

Or, more likely, I’ll be exercising the two pups we’ve adopted…Isaac and Rosie. I’m expecting lengthy daily exercise runs down at the beach. Actually, I’m hoping the pups will exercise themselves down at the beach while I bumble along at adult speed, instead of doing the “Flight of the Bumble Bee”. Of course, there’s also the possibility the kids might actually walk the dogs…

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Me and Our Pups.

Meanwhile, our pups went off to be desexed last week. This was done via key hole surgery. Zac was bounding around pretty quickly but Rosie also needed her dew claws clipped and so she returned with her back legs bandaged and a cone around her head. She finally got the cone and bandages off last night…happy days!

So, our house is currently a five dog household, which means us humans are outnumbered. However, before you start thinking we’re facing defeat, beings on bottles don’t have voting rights. So, humans still rule even if it is a case of only just.

Anyway, I’d better keep moving. I think I’m supposed to be sleeping when the pups are sleeping. Isn’t that how it goes?

Have you ever fostered humans or animals? How did it go? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

 

Puppies in a Carpark After Dark…

Last night, my daughter and I were recruited into a clandestine, underground movement, which rescues puppies and dogs from puppy farms and “bad homes”.

As you might have seen on the blog lately, my friend’s been fostering dogs and puppies. I never thought I’d be up for this, and thought I’d find it impossible to let them go. However, I was round at her place with the latest residents, and they were so cute and so much fun, that I thought we’d give puppy rescuing a go.

Then, like well-trained intelligence agent, my friend heard that a litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups was in the pipeline. Me being me with my usual levels of resistance, I put my hat in the ring for two pups with a view of keeping one. This would be like a test drive where we could try before we buy.

You might recall, that it’s only been two months since our much loved Border Collie, Bilbo passed away. We’re still heartbroken and missing him in all sorts of ways. A few years ago, we adopted Lady thinking that he wasn’t well. Then, he perked up after she arrived and lived another 3 years. As much as we love Lady’s exuberant friendliness, we’re used to Bilbo’s Border Collie sheepdog ways, and she’s a very different dog.  That’s fine but when you’ve been living with the ball chasing champion of the universe and you get a dog who doesn’t fetch, it’s hard to compute…even if Bilbo’s ball chasing obsession drove us mad! I guess it’s a reminder, that you can’t simply replace the one you’ve lost and each of us, is an individual.

During the week, my friend forwarded photos and we selected one pup we particularly liked. Then, we received further intelligence, that the pups were arriving last night.

The pups had been rescued from out near Lismore, 10 hours’ drive away. This meant it was hard for them to give an exact pick up time. It was simply “late” and there were phone calls going back and forth updating their ETA. All I knew, was that we were meeting up in a carpark at a nearby pet shop some time after dark. It started to feel like I’d joined a clandestine smuggling ring, and the whole experience felt like a grand adventure. Yet, at the same time, I was also being drawn out of my comfort zone. I don’t like driving at night, and felt a bit uncomfortable hanging around in the industrial area late at night.

However, soon the other voluneers started to arrive. The scene reminded me of waiting for a country train and watching the cars pull in. We picked up puppy food, leads, collars and chatted to other volunteers and waited… and waited. It was so exciting. The puppies were coming!

Then, suddenly a car towing a dog caravan appeared. It wasn’t quite your movie star camper, but precious cargo was definitely onboard. I’m not entirely sure which other dogs were there, but there was a litter of black labrador pups as well as part of the litter of Border Collie x Kelpie pups. I also saw what looked like a family of semi-grown Maltese Terriors.

Zac & Rosie

At this point, it was about 10.00PM. A floodlight breaks through only a fraction of the darkness, backlighting the puppies. So, we can hardly distinguish which pup is which, and they’re just a squirming, wriggling mass of black and white fur and paws. There was one boy in the litter, who just happened to be the one I’d picked out from the FB photo and my daughter picked out one with a white stripe on her head and “ears like Bilbo”. They had their shots, were wormed, paperwork was completed and they were in the car and on their way home.

Home meant introducing them to Lady. I was hoping Lady might feel somewhat maternal and welcome the new arrivals. On the other hand, not everyone’s excited when a strange, spaceship-like contraption lands in your territory. As for calling you “Mum” and YOUR dogbed “home”, Lady muttered something about having no say in it, and no idea what was coming! Lady wasn’t thrilled and had a few growls. The puppies were disturbing her peace, quiet, and new found stardome as the only dog. However, she did give them a good sniff, and I’m sure she’ll come round.

Pups

Meanwhile, the pups who’d been cooped up in transit all day, did what all kids do after they’re released. They went beserk!!! Indeed, our boy pup, Zac, went psycho jumping and leaping all over the lounge room like he’d just arrived at a theme park. Rosie, his canine companion, wasn’t far behind him. At one point,  they’d converted Lady’s bed into a wrestling ring and were growling like a pair of Tasmanian Devils and gnawing at each other, having so much fun.

We were besotted.

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As a parent myself, I was rather concerned by their wild behavior so late at night, wondering how they’d ever get to sleep. It’s been awhile, but I haven’t forgotten the difficulties of getting human babies to sleep. I even attended a week long sleep clinic with my son out at Karitane, after trying everything from singing Twinkle Twinkle, walking the streets with the pram, prayer and phoning my in-laws. In other words, we’re talking about reaching the end of the road and then some.

Clearly, it was starting to look like a sleepless night.

However, looking at the puppies bouncing off the walls exploring their new environment, I started developing grave concerns about how we were ever going to get them to sleep. Memories of frazzled sleepless nights trying to get our son to sleep, came back like a back case of reflux.

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A pair of rambunctious pups.

What have I got myself into?

By this stage, it was well after midnight and Miss was also still awake. We took the pups into the laundry, and tried closing the door. That’s when the howling began…and continued. These pups had no intention of going to sleep. Couldn’t slow themselves down to anything remotely resembling “tired”, and didn’t like being away from us either.

Although I remembered that you stick a ticking clock in with puppies to help them sleep, who has ticking clocks these days? Obviously, its digital descendants wouldn’t do the trick. Apparently, the radio’s the go these days. Oops! That reminds me, that I forgot to set up the music player for tonight.

Needless to say, just like a new Mum, I didn’t get a great night’s sleep.

The big difference was, however, that no one drops round with a meal when you have a new dog! The grandparents haven’t turned up either. Indeed, I haven’t quite mentioned the puppies to my parents…even though I’m obviously a grown up now and they’re in no position to say “no”. It’s just that given my health issues and a very busy family, adding a new pup to the mix and fosteringit’s sister, isn’t a logical decision. It doesn’t make sense, but the heart has its own way of thinking, which might not add up but usually makes sense.

Well, at least it makes sense to me.

Do you have a special dog and dog story to share? I’d love to hear it.

xx Rowena

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Let sleeping pups lie.

The Australian Magpie.

I photographed this magpie or “Maggie” at my friend’s place today. While they can become territorial and aggressive during Spring, they’re found  throughout most backyards, at least around here, and are mostly very tame. It’s quite clear that they’re worked out humans are a great source of food and they make themselves part of the family. Our elderly neighbours were being eaten out of house and home by their baby magpie who’d also make quite a lot of noise demanding to be fed. My friend volunteers for an animal rescue service and the magpie has discovered the puppies food bowl and helped itself. I guess you could call it “fast food”. Apparently, we have a family of maggies living in our jacaranda tree out the back. Geoff tells me that they’re “resprayed” our Morris Minor.

What types of birds do you have in your backyard? Please share in the comments below.

xx Rowena