Being close to the ground gives Toothy some serious strategic advantages in the rough and tumble world of being a dog here.
Remember that Toothy is an expert in scrapping. If Toothy decides to steal some of Poopy the Pomeranian’s breakfast (Poopy is actually a Swedish Lapphund), then that thought is quickly followed up by a bit of Toothy growling to announce his intentions. That Toothy growling then escalates to some close range threatening teeth action. Poopy starts looking quite nervous about the possibility of losing his breakfast.
In the days of myths and legends of the far past, Dragons were said to have a weak spot on their underbellies and the knights of yore who were stupid enough to even consider battling a dragon always attempted to attack that weak spot. Poopy the Pomeranian is sort of like a dragon as normally he would have no reason to fear the much smaller Toothy, but Poopy is unfortunately long of leg and even longer of tail and his underbelly bits are seriously exposed. Toothy knows that every dragon has a weak spot on their underbelly and he deals with Poopy on that basis. And Poopy lives in fear of losing his breakfast (and other bits) and has learned to eat very quickly indeed.
And that is how Toothy earned his name.
Dragons look like very large birds to me. Toothy the dachshund has an unhealthy obsession with all things bird, so he’d probably even try a bit of scrapping with a dragon – who knows? Fortunately, for all of us here at the farm, dragons seem to be a very unlikely problem! However, I do actually keep birds here (chickens) and Toothy would love nothing better than to take on the chickens with a bit of scrapping action and I wrote about his obsession in the previous blog entry: All day I dream about chickens.
Anyway, my tolerance for the obsessive Toothy has come to an end because I felt that sooner or later one of the chickens would accidentally be let out of the chicken enclosure whilst the dogs were roaming around and then we’d all find out who was tougher: Toothy, or the unfortunate chicken. I say unfortunate chicken, because I reckon Toothy would win that particular scrap.
|Construction on the new chicken vestibule commenced this week|
The idea behind the vestibule is if one of the chickens accidentally sneaks out of the open door to their enclosure, they are safely trapped within the steel lined vestibule and I can quickly herd that naughty chicken back into their enclosure without very real possibility of Toothy trying to eat them.
|The vestibule for the chicken enclosure is almost complete|
A brief and very heavy rain storm interrupted (it was a very welcome interruption!) construction on the vestibule. It is worthwhile mentioning that like a lot of projects here, the vestibule was constructed entirely of scrap materials that I had ready to hand. This may be another useful definition of the word scrapping?
|The vestibule for the chicken enclosure is now complete and more importantly Toothy proof|
With a little bit of extra work once the rain had ceased, the vestibule to the chicken enclosure was soon complete and I could breathe a big sigh of relief as there had been some very close encounters of the Toothy kind between the chickens and the dogs and this new vestibule will put an end to that.
Longer term I’m intending to construct a purpose built enclosure for the tomato plants (with mustard plants being grown in the off / winter season). The tomato plants are an important crop here because they are very prolific producers of fruit from about February until early June. I’ve been selecting the seeds from cherry tomato plants for the past four years now and with each passing year, the plants are producing fruit slightly earlier in the year and they seem much hardier to both the soil and climactic conditions. Anyway, such desires for a new tomato enclosure are good in theory, but difficult to achieve in practice because I have completely run out of time to construct the purpose built enclosure this year.
However, the new berry enclosure has only just been fenced off and partially planted out a week or two back, so I thought to myself, why not? I’ll simply plant the many cherry tomato seedlings into that berry enclosure.
Nothing is ever simple though. That newly constructed berry enclosure is too steep to be useful for tomatoes and I’d always intended to reduce the steepness by removing some of the soil at the higher end of that enclosure. So, I began digging and moving soil early in the cool of the morning.
|Digging soil to reduce the steepness of the new berry enclosure|
As the day wore on the sun rose higher and higher in the sky and despite the cool mountain air, that sun burned with the fierceness of a dragon’s breath. And I got hotter and hotter as the day wore on and by late afternoon, well early evening really, I was wishing that the digging would just be over. The excess soil was used to fill up a hole which had been left over when long ago a very large tree had fallen over taking its roots and all. It was a big hole and is now a reasonably flat surface.
Eventually the digging was complete and I’d dropped the soil level by about 0.5m (about a foot and a half) across the entire enclosure.
|The berry bed had now been excavated and was looking good|
The next day, I moved placed a couple of cubic metres (cubic yards) of mushroom compost into the berry beds.
|A couple of cubic metres of mushroom compost was brought into the new berry enclosure|
Hopefully, tomorrow evening – weather permitting, I’ll plant the many tomato seedlings which are growing strongly, into that berry enclosure. It is predicted to be too hot to plant them during that day.
The plants are thoroughly enjoying the recent warm to hot conditions and the strong UV (which is now rated as Very High) from the sun is simply making them grow faster. Many of the plants are producing flowers in abundance and you can smell the many different floral scents in the air when you move from one point on the farm to another.
|The strong sunlight and warm conditions are producing massive plant growth here|
|Some of the many flowering plants here at the farm|
Observant readers will note that in the very centre of the above photo is a dark blob which is a happy wallaby enjoying the lush plant growth of this time of the year.
Some of the showiest flowers here are the Rhododendrons. Many long years ago during an intense drought a local plant nursery had to sell off a huge variety of Rhododendron plants and out of respect for the poor and also very sunburnt plants, I took the trailer and bought all of them – every single one of those plants. The nursery owner was certainly happy to find a buyer for them during such a difficult year. I brought all of the Rhododendrons back to the farm here, planted them in cooling mulches and healthy composts, watered them and they have thrived. One of my favourites is this one:
|An almost iridescent red Rhododendron is flowering this week with more buds to come|
Other flowers are enjoying the sunlight too and this member of the borage family produces flowers for almost the entire year. There are tens of dozens of this borage family plant here and the chickens love the leaves, whilst the bees love the flowers:
|Anchusa Semperivens producing a reliable flower display which the bees adore|
Speaking of dragon’s, the local parrots (Crimson Rosella’s) have been hanging around recently because they can smell that the strawberry plants are producing some early (as yet unripe) berries. Everything here eats strawberries – even the dogs - and I have never seen a plant that suffers from so much predation as a strawberry plant. Next winter I’ll be constructing a purpose built anti-everything strawberry enclosure, but until then the parrots dream of strawberries.
|A local parrot – Crimson Rosella – is dreaming of consuming luscious and fresh strawberry fruit|
I’d like to see Toothy try a bit of scrapping action with one of the local wedge tail eagles. They are massive and the smart money in that fight would be on the wedge tail eagle (an adults wing span can be around 3 metres (10 feet) across). They are always soaring above the forest, but recently with the warmer to hot conditions they have been enjoying themselves soaring around on the thermals and unlike Toothy, they really are the King of the Forest.
|A wedge tail eagle confidently soars overhead in the strong thermal currents brought about by the warm to hot conditions over the farm|
The temperature outside here at about 8.30m is 16.7’C degrees Celsius (62.0’F). So far this year there has been 614.6mm (24.2 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 611.0mm (24.0 inches).