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West Coast Living in Ahousaht, BC

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Proud Momma

You know how Mommas get all chuffed about their children and brag about their accomplishments? I do that with my furbabies.

I joined a friend for a beach walk yesterday with our dogs. I brought Leia, but not Bruce or Yoda. I’m trying to work with Leia one on one more often and practice her recall and obedience skills. She still wouldn’t win any awards for her behavior but seeing her improvements makes me super proud!

Yesterday I recalled her back onto the leash twice. Once because there was another dog on the beach and I wanted her to stick closer to us and the second time because we were back in the village with cars and other dogs. I’ve never had an issue with her and other dogs but it’s just how I am working on training her when we walk in more populated areas.

The second recall took a bit longer, but it did work eventually.

I love how she always “checks in” with me as we come down the trail. She always pops back around the corner to wait for us to come into view and then takes off again.

Now what we really need to work on is her carsickness! I would love to take her on more adventures further afield but she can’t travel if there’s food or water in her tummy! The pills from the vet haven’t worked for us either.

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Orcas at Sunset

A couple weeks ago I got to spend some time with a large mixed pod of Transient orcas in the outer waters of Clayoquot Sound. The T109s and T11s were all present and slowly working their way up the coast. We joined up with them around Cox Point and left them at Wilf Rock as the sun slipped below the Pacific horizon. There was lots of action along the way. One youngster was constantly chasing birds across the water, surprising them by lunging up from the depths below them. Others gave a sneaky sea lion a heart attack as it held onto the rocks amidst oncoming swells with all of its might while their slick fins passed by just feet away.

 

Some of these photos are featured in my upcoming 2019 calendar which can be found here.

 

Halloween Horror

Halloween was always a fun time for me growing up. Living on a large rural property, we didn’t have to worry about fireworks spooking our animals. We were far enough away from other properties that the noise was minimal. We could focus on trick or treating and going to family bonfires. In university I didn’t trick or treat. Apparently it’s frowned upon once you reach a certain age. I guess people think you should be out drinking and partying instead?

But anyways, a couple years out of University, and I had met Lennie and we brought Lennie’s dog Yoda into our family. Let me tell you, that first Halloween was a learning experience! The fireworks went on and on and on all through the night. Poor Yoda trembled and raced back and forth, absolutely terrified out of his mind. We tried every trick in the book to soothe him or drown out the noise. None of it worked. I was terrified he was going to have a heart attack. And that was the end of us attending the community Halloween party or enjoying Halloween at all.

Every year for Halloween and New Years, the cycle repeats. We have invested in a thunder jacket. Bought fancy calming treats, lavender oil, you name it we have tried it.

It feels cruel to subject him to the same terror every year. Our other dogs don’t really care unless the noise is right over their heads. We bring them inside and have no issues. The bunnies come inside in a crate with a towel over it and seem not to mind the noise. I’ve been told chickens are pretty nonchalant with fireworks. I really hope that’s the case!

For Yoda this year we have gone to the extreme. We are boarding him with a friend in Tofino who won’t have the neighbours fireworks going off over her house. It will be much quieter and he will probably still get a bit worked up, but it won’t be anything like the trauma he endures at our home. It’s insane, I feel, that these are the lengths we have to go to protect our animals. Fireworks are pointless and they terrorize wildlife too.

Last year I ended up blocking a few people on social media (Friends and Family!) who thought Yoda’s terror was entertaining. I won’t tolerate that kind of ignorant and apathetic attitude in my life. It means you think animal cruelty is funny and that’s sick.

My hope for the future is that silent fireworks will become the norm, if we can’t have the noisy version eliminated. Cost comparable silent versions need to be available in Canada, and the “Thrill seekers” who insist on using the noisy ones need to have that option taken away. If people won’t do it for the animals, at least do it for their neighbours who have to get up and go to work in the morning!

Dog Training on the Go

Leia is my affectionate and loving husky/malamute cross. She is a “Hotsprings” Puppy, though is now close to 3 years old! I can’t believe how quickly she is growing up! Of our three dogs, she is the only one who is “mine”. Bruce and Yoda are Lennie’s.

Huskies are stubborn and determined to have their own way. They require large amounts of exercise and are not what I would describe as a “beginner” dog breed.

Lennie brought Leia home for me as a 4 month old pup, as a surprise! OMG. Don’t do this to your GF or Wife! I was having a mental breakdown that evening with the stress of running our house, working full time as a teacher, and Lennie’s long long hours on the boat every day. Then I was given a sopping wet, adorable puppy. Crap. I was in love!

But honestly, I don’t like the idea of surprising someone with a new pet. They take dedication and planning. A new dog is not a decision to be made on a whim.

That being said, Leia (And Bruce and Yoda and all the others in our home) are very valued members of our family. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Lately I have been working on Leia’s recall. It is horrible. She won’t come back at all! She turns capture into a game and I am left chasing her all over the beach. Trickery doesn’t work. She is far too smart. I’ve noticed a trend the last couple times she eventually gave in though. I had turned off my “nice” voice and was using a much more gruff and commanding tone. A signal that I was fed up.

Tonight I am going to switch straight to that, to let her know I mean business, instead of goofing around first. And lots of cookies once her leash is clipped on, of course! Fingers crossed that I have found they key to her recall. I can see many more off leash adventures in our future!

Becoming a Chicken Momma (or… How my Addiction to having Chickens Began)

Growing up, The first pets I had, after a dog, was a flock of barred rock hens. I remember my dad teaching me to hold them. I was so proud! Every day after school I would run out to the coop and collect eggs. I was noticeably less enthusiastic about it through middle and high school, but that goes with the teenage hormones most likely!

I had never really given having my own flock much thought, until Lennie and I were settled in our house and I started gardening away. “You know what would be nice? Chickens”.

I’m sure Lennie laughed at this. Two or three years later, there he is in the morning, talking away to them as he scatters their feed, chiding Louie, the rooster for not having his girls on a stricter egg-laying schedule, and just all around chuffed at his eclectic flock of birds.

We started with three hens, who were already of laying age, from a hobby farmer in Port Alberni. She graciously toured us around the property and Lennie met his first goats and mini-horses! We were enamored by the demanding ducks and geese and smitten with our three new girls. Our teeny tiny Toyota Paseo was CRAMMED with hay (A bale we split into 5 garbage bags to the amusement of the Shar-Kare staff), chicken scratch and pellets, feedbins and groceries. The crate with the hens *just* fit inside.

Our boat ride home was not one of those glassy calm, beautiful ones. It was sloppy and bumpy with a nasty outgoing tidal rip and strong winds coming up the Sound. Lennie was taking it easy but I could still feel the hens bouncing and smacking to top of the crate with each wave. So we crawled home at 10 knots or so. It took us ages, but was well worth the extra time.

The stress of that journey caused the hens, who were apparently happy layers before, to stop laying for several weeks. It was so exciting when we got our first egg! And then there were two. And three!

We had a goal of having enough eggs to be able to sell fresh local eggs in the community, but with what we were eating ourselves, there wasn’t too much left over. Especially if I went on a baking spree. We arranged for two more hens and a rooster from a local friend in Tofino who had raised a large batch of chicks. The rooster, Louie is a banty breed, meaning he will stay small. He is adorable! Lennie is particularly attached to him.

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Louie! Our adorable banty rooster

When Lennie left for a 5 week Indigenous treatment program in Northern BC, I spotted a post online for a chicken breeder who was reducing her flock size and had a large number of hens for sale. How could I say no? This would keep me occupied while Lennie was away. She had the coolest breeds and it was so hard to pick a manageable number to bring home with me. I settled on 4 – a bantam mottled black cochin ( I named her Suzy. Shes A-DOR-ABLE!), a black cochin (Betty after the song Black Betty because she looks like a hardcore rocker), a Rhode Island Red (Named Red), and a Buckeye ( a rare-ish breed, I named her Janet – Story of her name’s origin coming in a another post).

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Suzy – Isn’t she cute?

It was SO hot as I left Errington with them and began my drive back to Port Alberni and out to the coast. I was rather worried about them in the heat and I needed to stop to get something to drink. So I pulled into the Bosley’s parking lot in Port Alberni. These guys are famous for helping animals and their staff always go above and beyond at this location. I figured I could bring them into the air conditioning for a while, cool them down and maybe get them some water and snacks.

Let me tell you, the staff blew me away. I bought a water dish and they gave me two free bottles of water, an oat grass dish with sprouted grass, and dehydrated apple slice treats. They leNotifications

t me keep the chickens there while I ran to Starbucks for something to cool myself down with. My gals even made it onto the FB page of the store’s favourite pet visitors!

When I felt confident the hens would be ok, we set off again with a hearty thank you and made it back to the coolness of the salt air. They settled in without incident and I was now the proud owner of 10 chickens!

Now a month later, I have just added two more to the group – leghorn bufforpington crosses. They have the colouration of seagulls, so Lennie calls them “Qwinee”(sp??) which is Nuu-Chah-Nulth for… seagull!

They are so precious. I absolutely adore these two.

We are up to 4 hens laying out of 11. But have yet to have all of their schedules line up and actually get 4 eggs in one day! Soon. It will happen soon. As all the girls start to lay, we should be able to better meet our egg demand in Ahousaht.

And I really need to stop getting more hens. There’s a certain square footage calculation for space per hen, and we have reached it! And I have already done one expansion already!

Can you say #Addicted!

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