Anchorage Chicken News

via Julia O’Malley : Urban chickens come out of the shadows | adn.com.

If this prophecy comes to pass, I just might get chickens and rabbits and keep them at my dad’s house, which is right down the road.

Seed starting

I’m eager to find out what will grow here and how to do it. I’ve not been sure how I was going to start seeds, but I think I’ve found my impetus from this article:  Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op: Indoor Seed Starting doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive!.

I think that seems pretty doable here.

The Dogs

Banjo is quite a crackerjack of a pup, which is to be expected for a Jack Russell. I’ve never had a dog with such confidence and determination before, and I am constantly amazed at how brash and dominant he acts. It hit me last night that I’ve never seen a submissive gesture from him. I’ve seen relaxed, I’ve seen happy, I’ve seen tired, but not submissive. I mean, he’s three months old, sure, but unless he’s screaming because he’s been nipped by Penny or yelping in surprise if I have to emergency scruff him to keep him out of harm’s way, there’s nothing that even slightly smacks of submission, and definitely not to the older dog. He’ll sometimes respect her angryface and leave her alone, but the rest of the time he completely disregards her.

Perhaps my perception is a little skewed because Penny is so excruciatingly submissive and that’s all I’ve lived with in recent years. She pees, she slinks, she licks, she averts her face, she yawns, she rolls her eyes, she flattens her ears, she tucks her tail… and on the other end, she’s aggressively submissive for the things she wants: food, treats, pets, to get up on the furniture, to get me to ignore the cat.

It’s taken a lot of work to get her to act mostly like a normal dog and I’ve learned to be extremely soft, firm, and clear when I’m giving directions or corrections. These days she’s mostly relaxed, happy, and responsive, and she even roughhouses with Banjo, which is something I hoped for but never thought I’d see! But her world is carefully controlled, and she falls to pieces if some little thing goes wrong. Her ability to control herself and to listen goes out the window and she usually dissolves into a barking fit if the stimulus comes from outside the house, or slinking if it comes from something in the house.

Back to Banjo: he’s actually a very easy puppy. He loves his toys, he chews on bones and chewies, and as long as we stay on the ball house training is going swimmingly. He travels well, he loves other dogs and people, and is generally delightful, as puppies should be.

But he’s starting to develop some habits that I’m not precisely sure how to curtail. I noticed he was getting impatient with being handled, so I jumped all over that and started to interrupt him and pet him and generally make a nuisance of myself. He struggled mightily in the beginning, but as I release him when he relaxes, he’s learning to go limp fairly quickly.  I hope that’s the long and short of that one.

Another related thing is evasive behavior. He dances just out of reach most of the time we go to pick him up, so we have to resort to having a drag lead on him most of the time. I don’t like this solution very much as he’s starting to chew on the lead during playtime, and I don’t want that to become a habit. I’ve been reinforcing the sit command greatly this weekend and that seems to make catching him much easier. I remember reading a fix for this in one of my training books, but I’m still looking for the specific reference.

The worst offender is his behavior in the crate. We crate him for quiet down times, for times when we can’t supervise him, as well as for short trips out of the house, and at night. He’s mostly resigned to this as long as we are in the room, but if we walk out of the room he absolutely screams with anger. It’s not fright as he’s gotten over that little routine, he just absolutely does not want to be away from us. His squalling has the same timber and quality that an angry baby has when it is frustrated, and I find this to be the only amusing thing about the situation.

I’ve been inclined to ignore these temper tantrums and just let him get the hell over it, except he’s starting to develop some other behaviors such as obsessive digging in the crate that are starting to carry over to his time outside the crate. I’m fine with him digging at plastic, he isn’t going to go anywhere, but when it starts happening on the carpet or at closed doors, I’m a little less understanding.

An interruption and redirect works 100% of the time outside of the crate, but what do I do about the same behavior when I’m trying to ignore his tantrums inside the crate? What if he does it when we are not there to make the correction? I think this might be a wait and see thing, but it’s still frustrating not knowing.

I’ve signed Banjo up for puppy classes at Alaska Dog Sports. I am greatly looking forward to the first class. He’s an eager student for the micro training sessions we have here at home, and I am looking for the insights that a trainer can give to me to become a better trainer on my own.

I had planned to take Penny there before we moved out to the valley, but that didn’t quite work as planned. After I get done with Banjo’s Puppy classes I’ll be taking her for Basic Obedience I and II. She’s extremely obedient, but needs proofing around other dogs. That’s something that has needed to happen for some time, and I’m excited to finally have the opportunity.

If everything goes well, I’m interested in exploring Agility and Rally-O with these little white dogs!

Who needs furniture?

Apparently we don’t, but damn if it isn’t nice!

The move is going well, but there’s not a lot of moving going on yet. Because of the hour and a half commute time we brought only the pets, some clothes and other essentials and started sleeping into the new condo the day after my mother got the keys. This has made for a very furnitureless existence!

On day two we bought a new mattress and soon after I bought two new computer desks. Due to the small size of our sedan, we have only managed to bring two kitchen chairs, a folding table, two bar stools, my computer chair, and a tiny bedside table. Add in an antique secretary desk that we are using for a dresser, and that does not equal very much furniture for a three bedroom place.

Our old couches are either so damaged or so uncomfortable that they must be given away or thrown out. I would even pay people to take them away, they are that bad.

The new living room is an awkward shape. I thought my last living room was bad, very narrow and long. This one is even narrower and longer, but is compounded by the fact that you need to be able to walk through it into the kitchen, and the bar is turned at a 45 degree angle into the room rather than squared off.  Hard to picture, I know.

It’s even worse in person.

For now I’ve decided that the only solution to the space is one or two small love seats and many comfy and fun chairs. I’m looking for mostly used furniture, as the plan is that my mother and I will be recovering most everything to unify what is bound to be an eclectic set of furniture.

I’ve been scouring thrift stores and craigslist , and I finally found an amazing little loveseat for $30 at a local store. It’s dingier than all get out but it’s a substantial piece for its size, and is extremely comfy. It had been sitting under a wide shelf and when I slid it out and sat down in it, I immediately got up and bought it, trusting that I’d come up with some way to get it home.

I was fairly certain that I could squeeze it into the back of my sister’s jeep but it turned out to be about ten inches too long. I was not to be deterred. After lots of giggling and a little bit of magic, we got it inside the jeep with the rear door shut and took it home.

Ahhh… it’s all I’ve wanted for a week just to curl up with a good book on a comfy couch!

Here’s to the Future!

We’re moving back into Anchorage to take advantage of my mother’s extreme generosity. She’s buying a condo as an investment property and wants us to live there. The situation will be rent free, but we will be covering utilities and the condo dues. She’s also sending me back to school on her dime, where I might finally (finally) get everything sorted out with my degree. For a number of reasons, I opted out of a job, so I’ve been home cleaning and sorting and generally getting our life ready for this transition.

That’s not the only new development. With all of the recent changes it feels like we’ve gotten a new public life to match our very happy one at home. My husband got a different position within his company that suits him much better, and his job satisfaction has gone way up. We’ve cultivated some new friends that fit our interests and lifestyle. We’ve finally admitted to ourselves that we’re full on D&D hobbyists rather than just casual players, and are no longer guilty about the time or money we spend on this endeavor. And we finally got rid of that cat that annoyed the piss out of everyone in our house, human and animal alike.

More changes are on the horizon: We’re making plans for a second dog; we’re finally getting on the ball in terms of financial organization; I’m going to the doctor for the first time in eight years (scary!); we’re starting to plan for children; and I am getting my etsy store up and running again with a wider scope that will allow me to have an outlet for all my creative endeavors.

This past year has been awesome, and as I look to the months ahead it seems to only be getting better. What’s been going on in your life?

First Snowfall

Time to get nesting again.

Yogurt: Glass vs Plastic and New Brown Cow as Starter

I have a yogurt maker I picked up on the cheap off of craigslist. It’s the simple kind where the inner container sits inside of a heated bath of water. It’s perfect for times when I’m not sure the temperature of the house is warm enough for the oven method, and it’s less work than the water cooler method.

I have noticed some problems with my yogurt lately that seemed to point to either overheating or cleanliness. The inner container is probably two quarts, and it is made of plastic that is very hard to clean. I’ve been wanting to try a glass container for a while, and last night I bit the bullet and made yogurt in a wide-mouth quart mason jar.

Admittedly, I tend to scrape together ingredients for my yogurt, and I’m pretty casual about heating in the microwave (with frequent mixing to avoid hot spots) so there could be other problems, but I figured if it came out with the same problems, it would be a heat issue, and if it didn’t–well, let’s just say the plastic container would get the old heave-ho and I’d go from there.

I had half a container of the new Brown Cow Greek yogurt in my fridge, so I figured I’d try it out. I know, I know, empirically all my conclusions would be bust for being too muddled.

…Except the tasty ones!

I ended up with hands down the best tasting yogurt I’ve ever made. The consistency is somewhere between a custard and a chocolate mousse, the mouth feel is incredibly silky, and the flavor is so mild that it tastes almost like fresh milk. This is the closest to my beloved french yogurts that I’ve ever gotten, and I broke out the really special Hawaiian honey in celebration.

I’ve always had a problem with making really tangy yogurt, even when I cut the time down to six hours or less. This went for seven hours and was so mild that I will let it go for eight next time. I am looking forward to repeating this recipe to see if the results are repeatable and where the best methods lie.