May 9 2015

Thora’s New Bling

I don’t have a daughter to buy pretty clothes for, so I indulged myself by getting a sparkly new collar for my big girl:

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It’s by Paco Collars, a leatherworking studio in San Francisco, and although it was almost unjustifiably spendy, I think Thora carries it off majestically.

There’s not much new here to report: Davy’s surgery hasn’t been rescheduled yet since he’s still got a cough, but he hasn’t had any problems with the hernia. Everyone else is fine. And I’m very much looking forward to Mother’s Day tomorrow!


Oct 2 2013

Babies

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Jul 9 2013

One Year Old!

Happy birthday to our big girl!

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Feb 19 2013

Tragedy in the Henhouse

Thora killed one of our chickens. This happened a couple of weeks ago, but I didn’t have the heart to write about it until now. She came trotting into the house with a chicken wing in her mouth: I screamed, everyone came running, there was yelling, and Thora dropped the severed wing and went tearing all around the house peeing and defecating everywhere to signal her submission and distress. A few minutes later she puked up a belly full of chicken innards. As apologies go I must say it is the worst I have ever received.

Eventually we comforted the dog, Sam went outside to gather up the remains (it was not an open casket funeral), and we gave Penny a decent burial. I said a few words. Her sisters did not attend the ceremony: chickens are not sentimental creatures. Sam said they were busy cannibalizing the corpse when he arrived at the scene.

We have mostly processed the whole episode at this point. The boys wanted to talk a bit about death and what it means: for Robin, it seemed to bring up some dim memories of Marlis, because he began saying things like “We used to have a cat but we don’t have a cat now.” I reiterated some of the things that I told him when Marlis died. I told him that death means you aren’t in the world any more. I told him that everything that is alive dies eventually, but that he and we are young and won’t die for a long, long time. I told him that when someone dies you can be sad and cry because you miss them a lot, and also that sometimes you might not feel sad, even though you still miss them. I suppose this is one of the benefits of keeping livestock: kids grow up experiencing the natural cycles of life.

For a while Davy and Robin would say “Thora is a bad dog!” because one of the things I yelled over and over, when I was yelling, was “Bad dog! Bad dog!” So I also had to explain that actually Thora is a good dog who did a bad thing. And that it is not really her fault, she was just being a dog. (Although I have to admit that it changed the way I look at her a bit. “She’s a murderess,” I told Sam, who responded quite reasonably that her kill count is nowhere near the total that Marlis racked up. “Yes,” I said, “but Marlis never killed anything with a name!”)

The boys also seemed to just like to tell the story of what happened: “Thora killed our chicken and then you screamed,” one of the boys would say, out of the blue. And I would just say, “Yep, that is what happened.” “And then you cried.” “Yes, I cried because I was sad.” We must have had that conversation ten or fifteen times in the first few days after. At this point they don’t seem to need to go over it so much.

Robin is very keen on getting a new hen. “We need to get another girl chicken with a bow,” he says. I did try to explain to him that not all creatures that are girls wear bows on their head, but he is quite certain that the next hen ought to come beribboned.

In fact we probably will want to replace Penny at some point, but introducing a new hen to an established flock isn’t necessarily easy. The existing chickens will try to drive off any bird they perceive as an interloper, and can injure or even kill a new hen by relentlessly pecking her. One way to get around this is to wait until one of the hens goes broody and then to slip some fertilized eggs underneath her, letting nature take its course from there. So I’m inclined to give it some time and see if Henrietta or Genevieve show any signs of wanting to be a momma.

Meanwhile Thora and the chickens are no longer allowed to share the yard. Instead we keep the hens cooped up until late morning, giving Thora a chance to run around for a bit, and then the chickens are let out and Thora is kept inside until sundown. (She also gets a walk in the early afternoon.) Once the chickens have put themselves away, Thora gets free run of the yard again. In some ways it’s a better arrangement anyway, because I don’t have to worry about the dog finding eggs before I do.

Here is a picture of Thora looking angelic. (Murderess!)

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Dec 31 2012

Happy New Year!

We’re just back from a visit with Pappy and Nonna in Carson City—Robin and Thora had so much fun in the snow. (Davy, not so much. He took one step and immediately fell down on a slippery patch, and after that insisted on being carried over the treacherous white stuff. California boy!)

And I saw a tree full of quail, which was thrilling. Quail, with their funny bobbing head-tufts and their plump little bodies, are the most adorable birds ever—especially if you spot a momma with her little ones all trailing after. Sam, native son of the West, is thoroughly blasé about them and can’t understand why I get so excited every time. “They’re just like pigeons,” he says. “All over the place.” (They are not just like pigeons, they are wonderful and I will never get over them.)

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I hope all of you have a new year filled with warmth, love, and joy!


Nov 30 2012

Big Girl

thora, almost five months

Thora, a week shy of five months. She had a vet check today and weighed in at 55 pounds. Some people mistake her for a full-grown hound dog, but most can tell that she’s still just a puppy (and are able to conclude that she’s gonna be huge)!

We’ve started taking her to the dog park, where she behaves very nicely with the other dogs. She’s also fully house-trained, and she’s growing less “mouthy,” though she’s still teething and the inanimate world is pretty much her chew toy at this stage. We need to work on: the “down” command (she jumps up on people, especially on a first meeting), leash-training (she has a tendency to pull, which is not tolerable in a full-grown mastiff), and most especially her behavior towards my chickens, which is not exactly that of a loving big sister.

To us, though, she is unfailingly sweet. She has a big dog bed in my office, but it’s not quite close enough to my desk, so she dragged a blanket over on the floor right next to my feet so that she can curl up next to me in comfort. She asks for so little, really—just fresh water, kibble, a daily walk, and the company of her family. And in return she offers boundless love, loyalty, and vigilance. It’s a pretty excellent bargain.


Sep 29 2012

Puppy Education

Thora went to her first “puppy preschool” class today! She got to socialize with lots of other puppies and their owners, and she made good progress on learning the “sit” command. She’s always responded to “come,” because she’s such a lovebug and always wants attention, but we’re reinforcing that too. “Down” and “stay” will be next on the curriculum.

After class she relaxed with her bone:

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Sep 16 2012

Two Boys and a Puppy

I snapped this while the boys were watching television—an uncharacteristic moment of stillness. They always look so much older after a haircut!

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The show was “My Little Pony.” Robin is a brony now. He got some birthday money from his great-grandmother and he decided to spend it on a Rarity doll. Maybe it’s a Rarity “action figure”? Anyway, that choice came as a surprise to us, because he mostly talks about Rainbow Dash—but after Rarity arrived, he started saving up his allowance for Fluttershy. So I guess those are his favorites!

The allowance is a new thing too. We’ve started giving him $5 a week, which would basically allow him to get one new pony a month (although some of them are on sale sometimes). We keep track of his money on a notecard attached to the fridge. It’s the Bank of Mom and Dad. The advent of the allowance coincided with the arrival of a weekly chore schedule—he’s now expected to let the chickens out of their coop every morning, and to help set the table for dinner.

Davy’s hit some new milestones too. He’s successfully transitioned into his own bed, in Robin’s room: it’s awfully sweet to hear the two brothers chatting to each other in the mornings. The next big challenge will be potty training. I’m going to give him six weeks or so to settle into the school routine, and then start pushing to get him out of diapers.

Lastly, here’s our little girl, at almost ten weeks:

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Still a baby, but getting bigger!


Sep 2 2012

Thora At Home

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Aug 25 2012

Meet Thora

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Omigosh you guys! Do you know about puppies?

Thora is our puppy. She is made out of warm velvet and love. When you pick her up she snuggles into you, and when she snuggles into you, you feel nothing but happy.

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Also she very much enjoys taking naps.

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That’s all I know about Thora so far! More to come!