Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yesterday was AWESOME!

Yvette greets friends old and new

The Turtle Gardens Walk in the Park was an great success, with an incredible turnout of humans and dogs, perfect weather, a beautiful park, tasty treats, and lots of laughter. It was so great to meet Yvette in person after having known her only in cyberspace for the last three years. But what was the most touching part of all was watching her face as dogs who had once been in her care came running to greet her and as she saw all around her the proof that her incredibly hard work at socializing dogs and her careful matching of potential adopters to dogs had been worth every minute.

I could never have imagined so MANY dogs, some on leashes, some not, some big, some small, some young pups, some old, all spending a couple of hours milling around each other while their humans chatted without a single altercation. These are happy, well socialized dogs living with loving, dog-savvy owners and it sure shows! What a tribute to Turtle Gardens!

It was great fun for me to meet some of the readers of this blog, most of whom recognized me by Belle, ever the dainty little princess holding court among her subjects.

Sadie and Belle had a little walk when we got there, which was all they could manage - so we didn't go on the big group walk. But I did take a ton of photos which I'll be forwarding to Yvette to use as she pleases. However, as I know she won't be back home for a few days I thought I would post some of my favourites here - with a big apology to the dogs whose names I can't remember!

The Treat Man was a huge attraction:

Check out the tongue action on this one!:

Treatman always asked the two-legged guests before giving their dog a treat. This dog's human didn't hear him calling, and the drool got longer, and longer, and longer....

There were so many wonderful dogs! This one is Meesha, which means "beautiful eyes":

And this is Sage:

Here's Gray Ghost:

Look at this happy face!:

And so many others, enjoying their special day:

Belle gets some lovings from a new friend:

And so does Sadie:

A great day for all, a great success story for Turtle Gardens. I can't wait to hear Yvette tell of her experiences on the Turtle Gardens blog.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

It's a Walk in the Park with Turtle Gardens!

Today is the day of the big draw for the raffle prizes - I am rooting for all my blog readers who bought tickets from me. Thank you, thank you, thank you - I was delighted to be able to send in $825 and NO unsold tickets from those I had committed to sell. Winners will be contacted by phone and a list will be posted on the Turtle Gardens website within the next few days.

After the draw this morning, there is a "Walk in the Park" for Turtle Gardens supporters and alumni, both human and canine. It is at Everett Crowley Park in Vancouver from 2:00 - 4:00, and Yvette from Turtle Gardens has made the trip south to join in the fun. I hope to meet some of you there.

Sadie and Belle will be coming to the walk, even though they are not Turtle Gardens alumni; they are TG supporters because they know first hand what it feels like to be a homeless dog, and they know their mama is a huge fan of the hard, hard work Yvette and Dave and family do to meet the needs of dogs in the north. Charley would enjoy the walk too, but she doesn't like car travel that much so will probably stay home along with our bouncy lab houseguest, Tina.

Good luck on the raffle, everyone - I hope that one of you is about to head to Mexico or win another great prize in the draw!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mama, itz WET out here!

The rain continues, both inside and outside the barn. The dogs took one look at the weather this morning and refused to step outside; with coaxing I got them over to the pasture gate. I was only able to get them a third of the way up the pasture before they staged a mutiny and all headed back to the house without me. Some companions!

(Charley: Yeah, but SUMBODY had a great big umbrella, and us dogs didn’t!)

The pigs didn’t want to go outside either – as much as they love mud on a hot day, they avoid it like the plague on a rainy day. However, tummies won out over the need to stay dry - I put their fruits and veggies out in the pigyard as usual and all except Scotch, Soda and Lizzy tippy-toed over the mud to reach them.

(Fizzy: Ewwwww, it waz slippery!!!! We waz afwaid we wud slide right down the hill!)

Ever hopeful Scotch just gazed at me with his big brown eyes, checked his dish to see if he had missed a kernel of grain, and snuggled back into his straw and blankets.

The amount of rain pouring into the barn all over the carefully tarped straw and equipment prompted me to post on craigslist for a handyperson to repair or retarp the barn roof, so here’s hoping I get responses from some competent people.

Janice from Hearts on Noses, our friend Tracey from Katie’s Place, and I spent Tuesday and Wednesday evenings pulling together the last of the items needed for a gaming fund application and met on the lunch hour yesterday to package it all up. I must say it looks awesome, so fingers, toes, paws and trotters are crossed in the hopes that Hearts on Noses will get a much needed grant to help cover the ever increasing costs of feed and vet care for approximately 40 abandoned, abused, or neglected potbellied pigs. One more thing off the to-do list, and a great learning experience (Thanks, Tracey – we couldn’t have done it without you!!!). Now we also have a model to follow for future applications and a better understanding of the whole process.

After I dropped the package off at the post office (thank heavens for priority courier service), I checked out Cythera Thrift Store in Maple Ridge – a great little shop that is clean and nicely laid out, and which raises funds for Cythera Transition House for abused women – and I found a lovely, cheerful lightweight jacket in just my size and nearly-new condition for $4.50.

I ended the afternoon with my monthly visit with my dog Emma. Surprisingly, it was not raining on the other side of the river, so our thirty minutes of play outdoors was not the soaking wet experience I anticipated. Rain or no rain, spending time with Ems always puts a smile on my face – she is such a happy, happy, happy lab and always so glad to see me.

Charley and Sadie, however, are sulking. My doldrums of earlier this week seem to have been passed on to them.

Fortunately, they are just as easily won over with liver treats as I am with chocolate fudge brownies.

In the wee small hours of the morning, I noticed the flood lights on the barn come on. I couldn't see anything that might have triggered it and went back to sleep. But this morning I found a large pile of very black berry-rich bear scat (or blackberry-rich bear scat!), so we are now on high alert around here. Normally, bears don't come right onto my property as there are easier paths for them to follow without climbing my fences. However, neighbours have seen a mom and two cubs recently, as well as a large male bear frequenting the area. Between the blackberry bushes and the hazelnut and fruit trees in the area, it is a cornucopia of delight for bears trying to fatten up for winter. They better stay away from my critters!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Sick dogs, tired dogs, wet dogs, sad dogs,
Visiting dogs, my dogs, hairy dogs, old dogs,
Young dogs, lonely dogs, lost dogs, glad-to-see-you dogs.

My life has gone to the dogs.

Lily the houseguest went home today; Friday, Tina the lab puppy will return for a couple of days as there was a death in the family and they will be attending a funeral.

Classes start Tuesday and I’m nowhere near ready; a funding application for Hearts on Noses is due Friday and my creative juices aren’t flowing but my part of it has to be completed tonight for sure; the pigs haven’t been in the pasture all week as I’ve been at work so they are cranky as heck; the big Turtle Gardens raffle draw and walk in the park is this Saturday and I’m sure not missing that!

My hips hurt from too much sitting at a desk; I still need to go shopping for a couple of tops and jackets for work; I really should go visit my almost-90 year old mom; the grass badly needs cutting but it is too wet right now; the barn roof is leaking like crazy so I need to do something about that SOON or I’ll have wet, moldy, combustible straw in there, not to mention a ton of ruined tools; and the pig yard is six inches deep in mud and I have to correct that problem before it gets worse. I had to turn away a friend who wanted to visit for a few days, because I knew I had waaay too much on my plate.

I went for a walk in the field with my dogs to regain my sense of perspective, and saw a snake. Not a problem for me – I think they are quite beautiful and interesting. Unfortunately, the dogs thought it was interesting too. Snap, pounce, snap, chomp, YUCK!

Then I picked some blackberries – nice, plump, juicy, wild blackberries that have never been near any kind of pesticide. Yum. Ate a big handful. As I was savoring the last little bit, I felt something very un-blackberryish between my cheek and my gum. Fished it out, expecting a piece of straw or leaf. A WORM!!! YUCK, DOUBLE YUCK! PTOOOOIIIII! GAG!!!! I looked at the blackberries remaining on the bush and realized there were little itty bitty worms all over them. Gawd knows how many I ate. Sigh. There goes my favourite treat – last time I found worms in food (it was brussel sprouts) it took fifteen years before I could stand to eat them again.

And so I sat on the bench at the top of the rise, breathed deeply, hugged my dogs, relaxed my muscles, and suddenly – BANG!!! A shot rang out, loud and clear, from somewhere behind my land. A minute later, two more. It was probably someone chasing away the bears that have been frequenting the area, but with me sitting on just the other side of several hundred feet of trees, with two big black furry dogs at my side, I was outta there. So much for my moment of peace.

Okay, I’m whining. I’m looking for sympathy (hey, at least I’m up front about it). You see, I admit there IS a downside to animal care and life in the country. Bring out the violins.

But, the reality is that the wonderful, soft, mushy, beautiful, peaceful, serene, golden, funny, loving, amazing, wonderous, incredible, awe-inspiring, heart warming moments more than balance out the not-so-great, worrisome, harried ones. In fact, there’s no competition – which is why this blog usually focuses on the parts of my life with the critters that bring smiles to my face.

Except when it doesn’t.

Like today.

Stay tuned ---- I’ll get over it. I shall carve out a little space for me and the critters and a big hunk of chocolate fudge brownie and in no time at all I’ll be back to writing about the joys of living where I live with the animals who share my life.

Meanwhile, send cyberhugs, sympathy and chocolate. Just don't send any blackberries with worms.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Update on Sadie

Sadie's additional bloodwork came back, confirming a diagnosis of hypothyroid. Her TSH reading was not just slightly high but very significantly high, so she is now on Thyroxine for the rest of her life. It may be 4-6 weeks before there are observable changes such as more energy and loss of weight, and we will test again at that time to ensure we have her on the correct dose. We'll also check her ALT liver count again at that time, as it was slightly on the high side as well.

Sadie's very slow heart rate is also a symptom of hypothyroid, and when the heart rate drops too low and there is a lack of blood flow to the brain, an Ischemic stroke can occur - that may be what happened Thursday night.

Alternatively, an interesting aspect of hypothyroidism is that it can present as peripheral nerve damage, with a weakened back end or loss of limb control. Without subjecting Sadie to further tests such as CT scan or MRI, we shall likely never know if Sadie actually had a stroke the other day or if it was nerve problems. Either way, getting the hypothyroid under control should decrease the risk of another incidence.

And it will be nice to see Sadie get her energy back and resume her play activities with the other dogs. Who knows - there may be a monster-dog hiding inside that soft, sweet, quiet, calm furry coat!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Doggy Pals

I love watching my dogs wandering around side-by-side like two best friends out for a stroll. Today, as I sat at the top of the pasture, I looked back down the path to see that Charley and Belle had lagged behind to investigate an interesting smell. There they were, big dog and little dog, black dog and sable dog, nose-to-nose-to-ground, heads bobbing and tails wagging. If I could have heard them, I’m sure their conversation would have gone something like this:

B: This is interesting. What do you think it is?

C: It has that wild doggy odor to it. Male coyote, I think.

B: Hmmmm. Yes, I agree. I wonder if he is still around – I don’t wish to become his lunch.

C: Nah, mom wouldn’t have let us into the pasture if he was close by. Besides, she’s watchin’ out for us up there on the hill. In fact, I think I hear her calling us now. C’mon, let’s go!

A few minutes later, Charley came bounding up the hill, dainty Princess Belle doing the royal saunter close behind. We sat for a bit and then I took Lily, my shih tzu houseguest who was on the long training leash, for a walk around the top part of the field. I looked back and there were Charley and Sadie, standing side by side looking to the west.

S: See anything?

C: Nope. You?

S: Just the lonely llama in the fields to the north.

[Pause...silent contemplation...dogs continue to stare.]

S: I wonder where the mini horses are, the ones that usually live in that field over yonder?

C: It’s Saturday. The humans sleep in. They are probably still in their barn.

S: Hmmm. Yeah, that’s probably it.

[Long pause; more staring].

S: Well, time to go back to the house. You comin’?

C: Yep, right behind ya.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Scotch and Soda's former owner found guilty

While the penalty is nowhere near as severe as I would like to see, the person who kept Scotch and Soda in a 2 foot by 3 foot filthy pen (and 161 other animals in equally disgusting conditions) has been banned from owning animals for ten years with the exception of one pet for each of her two children. You can read the full story here in the SPCA newsletter.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sadie may have had a stroke

It is always scary when the senior animals we love exhibit symptoms that may herald the start of a new set of health challenges. As I sat watching the news on TV tonight, Sadie suddenly got up from her usual resting place near the patio window and started staggering around the livingroom.
I immediately noticed her back right foot dragging, toes under and pointing behind her. I knelt down beside her as she staggered and she collapsed onto her side, her head resting on my foot. However, she did not lose consciousness, her body did not twitch, her eyes did not roll back and she did not lose control of her bladder, symptoms I have observed in both dogs and humans having strokes or seizures.

She lay beside me for about 2-3 minutes, panting heavily. When her breathing became normal, I stood up to grab one of my animal health books and she slowly (but without staggering) walked over to her water dish and had a long drink.

I believe her behaviour likely was symptomatic of a mild stroke, though I suppose it is possible her leg had just gone to sleep. I will be watching her closely for the next few days, and will also call her vet in the morning.

My summer hiatus is over and I am now back at work; this was the first time in a couple of months that I’ve been away from the house from early morning until late afternoon. A friend came to let the dogs out for a while in the middle of the day, but no doubt Sadie felt a little stressed at the changed routine and my lengthy absence. There is some evidence that stress can help trigger a stroke.

It is worrisome - my sweet, gentle Sadie is the youngest of my seniors and has so much life left to live. Stay well, Sadie, please stay well.

One footnote: Lily, the little dog who is staying with us and whom Sadie befriended on her last visit, was tossing a toy around the room moments before all this happened. Just before Sadie collapsed, Lily stopped mid-toss and sat completely still right beside us staring at Sadie. I have read of "seizure alert" dogs who sense the change in "aura" around a person with epilepsy - I can't help but wonder if Lily sensed a change around Sadie. Even as I type this, Sadie is lying behind my chair and Lily is standing right beside her.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sumbody Chopped Down our Cherry Tree!!!

Story by Whisper

Sumbody chopped down our cherry tree, an’ Foster Mama sez it wasn’t George Washington. But it was sum guy with a big noisy machine that we didn’t like. Foster Mama stayed in our pen with us an' fed us slices of apple and rubbed our bellies and scooped our poop while the noise was going on. We stuck very close to her – so close she almost tripped over us! Tee hee!

We liked our cherry tree, which was right by the gate between the pasture and the back yard. In the spring, cherries fell on the ground and we got to eat them – Yum! Now we won’t get no cherries next year.

But Foster Mama sez the tree was rotten in the middle an’ it was leaning over towards the fences and might even go SMASH on top of the neighbour’s house in the middle of the night during a great big snow storm this winter. We thought that was pretty funny, but Foster Mama said the neighbours wouldn't think so.

We didn’t thinks the tree was dead because it had lotsa leaves, but we learned that trees often die from the inside out – specially fruit trees and maple trees and other delicious deciduous trees. An’ Foster Mama knew this one was dead cuz the wood peckers had drilled huge holes in it and also cuz one of the extra trunks had lost all its bark, an' the bottom couple of feet of the trunks were soft and rotten. So even though Mr. Tree could still make leaves and cherries, its roots and trunk were dead. Ya gotta have strong roots and trunk to weather a storm, my foster mama sez. She sez that applies to humans and piggies, too! Ha ha, that is funny - I don't got no roots on my trotters holding me to the ground! Silly Foster Mama!

When the man who chopped down the tree was gone, we gots to go out in the pasture and eat all the leaves. Well, not all of them ‘cuz we would get a tummy ache, but lots of them. That was fun.

Foster Mama thinks the wood is very booo-ti-ful.

We thinks it is bootiful too, but we can’t eat the wood so we will let Foster Mama have it. She sez we will have some nice campfires this fall in the campfire pit an' maybe we will even get some roasted marshy-mallows.

Now that sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

Luv, Whisper.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My laugh for the day:

Everyone needs at least one good laugh a day to stay healthy. Usually the animals provide my laughs (and no doubt I provide theirs), but tonight it was my friend Janice, owner of Hearts on Noses Potbellied Pig Sanctuary, who gave me my chuckle with the story she told me over the phone (posted here with her permission).

Last night she was lying awake listening to the rain on the roof. Rain on the roof can be very relaxing – but when, like Janice and like me, you own a barn loaded with hay or straw and you provide refuge to a number of animals, it can also sound very, very much like fire. I think both Janice and I fear fire more than any other crisis that might occur on our properties.

And so you get up and check, over and over and over again.

Last night, concerned over some damp hay which had been delivered and could easily ignite spontaneously, Janice lay awake hearing fire. And so, she got up and finally decided to ease her fears by going out to the barn to make absolutely sure all was safe.

And there she was, in the pouring rain, in her jammies, in the middle of the night, about to traverse the rather muddy pasture.......with the only flashlight she could lay her hands on: a flashlight shaped like a pig, with a mouth that opens and closes, and which emits a distinctive “oink, oink, oink, oink, oink” as it lights up the path.

Janice, of course, was concerned only that her novel but noisy form of illumination might wake the piggies. I think I might have been more concerned about neighbours phoning the people with the funny-looking white jackets.

Thanks for the laugh, Janice. Next time, call me so I can catch it on video!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Small Pleasures

As I bemoan the end of my summer vacation and madly scramble to get ready for yet another semester, I appreciate every pleasurable moment that comes my way. And today, there were many such moments to make me smile:

  • Opening the back door in the morning and having arthritic, funny-footed little Princess Belle RACE out the door and across the lawn to the pasture gate, hopping around and barking “let’s go, let’s go!”

  • Watching our neighbour’s dog, Lily, who is staying with us once again while her family is away, sticking close to Sadie’s side as we walk the path to the back of the property. She remembers from her last visit that Sadie is her friend.

  • Sitting on the bench on the rise of pasture, suddenly noticing how glossy Sadie’s fur has become and how she is finally losing some of the excess weight she was carrying. Although she was reasonably healthy (albeit 30 pounds overweight) when she arrived, her fur was dull and lifeless compared to Charley’s. Premium food, high quality fish oil, and regular grooming have changed all that. She is one black, sleek, furmonster now.

  • Seeing one lone piggy at the pasture gate, ever hopeful, watching to see if I am about to open the gate for him. His tail is wagging, his ears are straight up, and he squeals as I walk past.

  • Watching Charley tear out of the house to greet my sister and her partner, who have dropped by on their way back to the Okanagan. Even though we only see them a few times a year, Charley recognizes them immediately and gives them lots of lovings. (Side note: A few years ago, they lived in a house on the shore of Okanagan Lake. Charley loved to visit there, and would lie on the grass between the house and the beach staring out over the water for hours on end. If she couldn’t be a farm dog, I think she'd like to be a beach bum. So would I!)

  • Having Whisper lean against my legs while my sister and I chat, his snoutie raised, eyes watching me intensely like a little kid tugging at mom’s skirt waiting for his chance to speak. RobRoy and Fizzy hover near by, also watching and listening. (Another side note: I must get a piggy harness and see if Whisper will let me put it on him! He is soooo tame and so closely bonded to me. Some days I think I just may fail Fostering 101 and end up adopting those three.)

  • Looking out the kitchen window to see Martin the alpaca hanging his head over the gate and staring at the house, willing me to open the gate and let him into the backyard where he can munch on freshly-mowed green grass and the occasional late-flowering dandelion.

  • Wandering in the pasture and hearing a noise like dry leaves fluttering in a breeze. Finding its source – a flock of thirty or more teeny bushtits flittering from branch to branch as they converse in their light, gentle notes of tsits, tsits, tsits.

  • Suddenly spotting plump ripe blackberries in the field, where two days ago only hard red ones existed. I love blackberries. It is a comfort food to me, bringing back warm happy memories of childhood when my family picked them by the bucket, then ate them in cereal bowls with evaporated milk, or layered between two slices of soft white bread with a bit of butter and sugar. Blackberry pies, blackberry jam, blackberry crumble…..cooked, they are great, but fresh from the vine they are best of all. (Oh my sister is going to be so ticked off that I didn’t spot them while she was still here! ). Tomorrow morning I shall take a container with me on our morning walk, and then have fresh blackberries and vanilla yoghurt for breakfast ----Yum!

    Small pleasures and little surprises – the stuff that turns a hum-drum Monday into a warm and comfy memory.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Piggies are Country & Western fans!!!

My neighbours are hosting a wedding on their property, and the area where the live band is set up is just adjacent to the pig yard, seperated only by a panhandle driveway lined with several feet of broad leafed bamboo.

It is almost dark, so I went outside to shut the pigs in the barn as usual. By this time of night, they have customarily put themselves to bed in their straw-filled stalls and barely acknowledge my soft "goodnight".

But not tonight. As I approached the gate at the top of the pigyard, I saw not one, not two, but twelve pigs out in the yard, rockin' and rollin' and swaying' to the country and western music, twelve tails swinging high to the left and the right. I swear their wiggy-waggy tails were wagging in time to the music, like twelve skinny metronomes pinned onto twelve tubby bodies.

Piggy line dancing. All they need is cowboy hats, bandanas and boots.

I need a video camera that films in the dark.

Pigs, Pools and Precious Moments

Sadie and Lizzie at the pool

It is HOT, HOT, HOT here. For the second day in a row, my thermometer showed 37 degrees Celsius ( 99 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade at mid-afternoon yesterday. That type of heat is a terrible problem for piggies who have no built-in system to cool themselves, unlike humans who sweat or dogs who pant. The expression “sweating like a pig” is meaningless, as pigs do not have functional sweat glands. A hot day can mean heatstroke and death to a potbellied piggy, even one kept in the house or barn away from direct sun.

And that is exactly the reason why we see so many pictures of pigs wallowing in mud – it is their way to keep cool. In fact, water and mud are the ONLY ways they have to keep cool. Fans on a dry pig could potentially make the problem worse as they dry out what little moisture the pig has managed to get on its body (and without a mudhole or a pool, a pig will dump its water dish in order to try to get somewhere cool to lie) – and besides, piggies hate drafts. Fans AND water are sometimes used to cool a pig running a fever or suffering heat stroke, but this must be done with supervision to ensure there is constant moisture (through damp towels and spritzing) on the skin to create the cooling effect. Pigs need to cool from the feet up - turning a hose of cold water onto a piggy's head and back could cause shock and fright and even death. Hence the kid's wading pools and mud wallows.

Pigs love their mud wallows – they exhibit all the porcine signs of contentment as they roll in the mud, shove their snouties through it, lift mud-covered snouties high in the air, and wiggle their bodies from side to side. They also use mud as a form of sunscreen and to protect against flies and parasites. Mud ranks right up there with food and companionship on the list of a piggy’s greatest pleasures.

And so, yesterday, I was filling and re-filling five kiddie pools and two mudholes to keep my family of twelve piggies cool and happy. And happy they were! They always have two pools and a mud wallow in their regular pig yard, but in hot weather I set up three more pools and make another wallow in the pasture, where they also love to dig in the dirt and forage in the long grasses and generally have a great time.

And I always have a great time watching them. They race out of the pig yard and head straight for one of two areas of pasture: Martin’s feed pen where they check out his dishes and steal the last of his grain and alfalfa, and the pools and dirt where they dive right in, sucking in the cold clear water, blowing bubbles with their snouties like round grey little scuba divers, rolling and splashing and enjoying life to the fullest.

To make it even more fun and mentally stimulating, I sometimes toss carrot chunks or apples into the pool to give them something to dive for - in fact, that was how I taught the babies to climb in and out of the pool, as shown in this photo I took of them earlier this year:

Yesterday, I got to experience one of those precious moments that melt the heart, make one suck in one’s breath, and bring a smile to the face for the rest of the day. And it was all because of Soda – grumpy, bossy, grouchy, pushy, bitchy, loveable Mama Soda. Papa Scotch was hiding out in the barn stall; Soda and the pigs were lying in the mud wallow, the pools, and the shady broad-leafed bamboo in the pig yard. I filled the extra pools in the pasture and soaked down the dirt, then opened the gate that leads from the pigyard to the pasture and invited the piggies to “come on out – surf’s up!”

And out they came – ten pigsters and Mama Soda, barreling across the pigyard and into the pasture, heading straight for the freshly filled pools, tender grasses, and spilled grains. As Soda reached the pools she suddenly slowed down, looked behind her, stopped, turned around, turned back, looked at the pools, turned around again, and slowly headed back to the pigyard. For Soda, that was unusual behaviour and had me worried. So after checking all the pigsters were accounted for and the pasture was secured from dogs and alpaca, I turned to head back to the pigyard to check she was okay.

And that’s when I saw her….wandering back down the hill from the barn, with Scotch in tow. Together, like an old married couple, they strolled out the pigyard gate and into the pasture, side by side, occasionally stopping to knead the ground or have a nibble of grass. That grumpy Ms. Piggy had gone back to the barn for the sole purpose of telling her mate to get out of bed and come join them! If ever I doubted that animals could communicate or could care for one another (and I don’t doubt it!) that magical moment told me that they are as much a couple as any bonded human pair might be.

Scotch and Soda grazing together

I let Sadie join me in the pasture, and together we spent time watching the herd and their private pool party. Scotch, clever pig that he is, likes to put his front trotters on the edge of the flimsiest pool and make all the water run onto the dirt so he can add mudholes to those I have already created. Sometimes, however, Soda chases him away and takes over the premium spot in the wet dirt – even if it means shoving herself half under the pool!

Soda finds a cool, cool place

Pools, pigs, and precious moments…..there is no greater joy to a pig on a hot day than a pool and mud wallow. It creates a comfortable environment for the piggies and precious moments for their foster mama.

Video of Soda in her pool:

Boujie, find Jill!

Boujie, the little black lab that I wrote about the other day, is still missing. Jill of Chelco Farms posted this request on one of our rescue forums this morning:

PLEASE, EVERYONE .... PRAY that Boujie will hear our calls, TODAY. Please tell everyone you know to give Boujie the energy to listen for us calling her, and come when she hears. We can't tell you all how much myself, my hubby, and especially Abby appreciate the support you all have given to us over the last 40 days in our search for little Boujie. Having faith we will find her one day is the only hope we have, and we will not settle for anything less. Boujie was abandoned by her "so called" owner. She WON'T be by us.... Now, we will go with the hope of reporting to you all tonight that this little girl has been found. Jill

Jill, her husband Gary, and their dog Abby are once again out searching the area of southern Vancouver Island where Boujie was last seen. Whether you use prayer, visualization, positive thoughts, whatever your faith or beliefs, please find a moment today to help guide Boujie to Jill and safety.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Day in the Life......

...of the critters on the farm:

It started out as a beautiful morning, the rising sun casting its soft light through the trees :

The piggies yawned their greeting:

And enjoyed their morning veggies:

The piggies have all lost their winter coats finally - their lush black bristles have gone and they are left with smooth grey skin. Scotch was the first to go bald, and so is the first to be growing a new set of bristles. They are coming in shiny and black as before, but right now he looks like a little schoolboy with a short crew cut. He made a point of showing me his new look and waited for me to give him a little brush:

Once the pigs were taken care of, the dogs and I said good morning to Martin

Then headed up the path:

I wanted to get a picture of all three dogs in the early morning light. But first we had to wait for Belle:

And here she comes, daintily prancing up the path like a model on a runway, one foot in front of the other.

Charley and Sadie posed for the camera, but Belle had to do her own thing:

I turned Belle around, raised the camera, and then Charley decided to have a roll in the hay :

I got Charley to sit up again, turned back to take the shot.....
.....and now Sadie was missing.

Sadie had said "enough of this" and headed back for home. Abandoning the attempt at a group shot, we ran and played our way back down the hill.

The day got hotter and hotter - 37 degrees celsius in the shade at my place - possible the hottest day of the summer. I let the pigs into the pasture and filled several kiddie pools with water for them. There's nothing more entertaining than watching the piggies in their pools.

Lizzie sat down in the middle of one and proceeded to rock back and forth on her little butt, making waves like a kid in a bathtub. I raced to the house for the camera, but of course she climbed out as soon as she saw me coming.

Her gray skin was black where it had been in the water, and so I had a two-toned pig:

For the first time all summer, the heat was almost unbearable. Sadie got the right idea though - lie right in front of the fan, bare tummy exposed to catch the breeze:

But Belle was actually smarter - she knew that if she sat a little further away, she would catch more of the cool air than Sadie:

And so we spent a lazy day - checking on the pigs, trying to stay cool, drinking lots of water, and generally doing very little of anything. We went for another walk as the air cooled and dusk descended on the valley, and just as we returned from the pasture, I just caught the tail end of a beautiful sunset:

And so ends a hot summer day with the critters on the farm.