Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Christmas Cactus

I have a Christmas cactus at work that I ignore sometimes. One time it went a month without water and got quite droopy, but came back to life when I gave it water. Despite this treatment, it's full of flowers each November.
Just after it finished blooming last November, I realized that I'd never photographed it in bloom. This was probably because, until recently, I hadn't really brought my camera to work much. Last week I noticed it had a few buds and was going to have a second smaller bloom soon. If I'm lucky when I get to work tomorrow morning the buds will have opened and if I'm not totally brain dead, I will have remembered my camera and will photograph the flowers.
I've read that a Christmas cactus needs 13 hours of darkness to set buds and that they should not be kept in rooms that have evening lighting if you want them to bloom. I guess this little plant is evidence I'm not burning the midnight oil at work and that my office stays dark in the evenings.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Belmont Farmers' Market

I'm so happy that many people in my town are working together to organize a farmers' market here. I'm am really such an advocate of eating locally grown food. There are so many reasons why this make sense.
1. It's fresher and tastes better.
2. Locally grown fruits and vegetables have longer to ripen. They can be harvested when they are ripe, not ahead of time to ship long distances.
3. Varieties can be grown for taste, not for their ability to ship long distances.
4. Shipping of food less distances is better for air quality and pollution.
5. Regional varieties not available for mass markets may be available.
6. It supports local farmers and the local economy.
7. It supports sustainablilty in agriculture and helps maintain open space in the state.
8. It builds community

It will be great when Belmont has a farmers' market. Years ago the town had many market gardens that served the nearby city. Looking closely at the town seal you can see Pomona, the goddess of fruit. I guess you might say the town is looking back to its roots.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Weekend Dog Blogging

For more Weekend Dog Blogging head over to Sweetnicks later tonight.

This guilty pup, Kahlil, has his face is hidden, because close investigation of him and the scene below today proved him to be, as they say, 'the perp' .
That's the cyclamen, I bought last week. :(

Some days I wonder why I get so few things on my to-do list done. The end of the day comes and maybe only one or two of the things I've listed are checked off. If this happens to you, I suggest keeping track of the things that you actually do for one day. Then check those things off. You'll have lots of things checked off at the end of the day and feel like you have accomplished something. This works especially well if you have small children. So today I added to my list. "clean up plant and vacume rug". I also added "wash jacket". That got added after I put some eggs I collected from my chickens in my pockets and then forgot and kneeled down in the yard I managed to break one. I know it seems stupid to collect eggs in my pockets, but I've been doing it for years without an accident until today. I've often forgotten I had an egg in my pocket and only realized hours later when I've reached into my pocket. They are stronger than you think. What I didn't get to today was my fun project, the cold frame. There's not enough progress to post yet. Maybe in a few days...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Sesame Semolina Bread and Chickpea Soup

Yesterday a friend invited me to her place to taste a couple of bread recipes she was baking. I was especially looking forward to this because not only do I love fresh bread (who doesn't), but my oven is broken, and I've been baking deprived for a while. She made an excellent three seed bread, but the very best one, in my opinion, was her sesame semolina bread. She sent me home with a loaf. My daughter, Andrea, and I ate a good part of it that afternoon and when Andrea went home she took the rest. I'm sure it was gone before she went to bed. The recipe uses three different types of flour, one of which, the durum, had to be mail ordered from King Arthur Flour in Vermont. I didn't get the recipe, but decided that as soon as I get a new oven I will. If any of you want the recipe, I'll get it sooner and post it. The three types of flour are shown below.

It seem unfair to have a food post without a recipe so I'll also post the soup recipe that I made yesterday for a different friend who came by for lunch.
It's a chick pea carrot soup with tahini in it. It's a thick hearty soup and is rather easy to make. It's one of those soups that just doesn't look good in pictures though. I also just realized that the tahini in this recipe and the sesame seeds actually give this post a sesame theme. Funny how that happens. My friend is a vegetarian, so I substituted vegetable stock for the chicken stock and it still came out just as good. I usually make my own chicken stock, but when I don't, I use Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth or their Vegetable Broth. Next to homemade, it's my favorite stock.
Chickpea Soup with Carrots and Tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 lb. carrots, chopped
1 onion chopped fine
3 cloves garlic, chopped very fine or put through a press
1/2 cup tahini (this is sesame seed puree)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt (only if needed)
4 cups chicken stock

In a pan large enough to hold everything, add the oil and saute the onions, carrots and garlic until the onions are golden and the carrots have softened.

Put the chickpeas, tahini, lemon, juice and a cup or so of the broth in a blender and pulse it on and off a few times. You want to grind up the chickpeas, but not too smoothly. Add what's in the blender and all of the remaining ingredients to the pan. Cook for a few more minutes until the carrots are cooked through. Like some soups, this one seems better the next day.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


click to enlarge photo
This hawk showed up one day looking for a chicken dinner. Happily, for the chickens, he left hungry. I could not determine what type of hawk it is though. Anyone have any ideas? To give you an idea of scale ,the railing it is sitting on is 3ft. tall. The location is near Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More Wet Snow

Today we had more heavy wet snow. It stuck to all the trees and looked so nice. I'm glad I brought my camera to work with me because the snow had melted off of the trees by mid morning when the sun came out.

View from our window at work


Even the parking lot looked like a winter wonderland

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Holey Tomato

It's not a very good photo, but I really did manage to grow this tomato with a hole through it last summer.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Heavy Wet Snow

We had heavy wet snow today, the kind that sticks to the trees and makes for great photos that look like a winter wonderland. By the time I got home from work, it was dark though. I had completely missed shooting the winter wonderland. It never occurred to me to bring my camera to work, despite the fact that I work at a photogenic New England College campus. Next time.
Streetlights and car headlights had to be my lighting and after clearing the driveway I was too cold and tired to take more than a few photos. Inside it's a different story. My lettuce is up and portends of greener things to come.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Losing It

Yesterday I planned on cutting and bolting the bottom of the cold frame that I’m building. I cut the wood and went to get my drill. I looked all over the workshop. I ran upstairs. I ran outside. I went back to the cellar, out to the garage, back to the workshop. I even looked in the attic. All the time getting more annoyed. A drill does not just disappear! I ran up to the attic and back out to the garage. It’s a drill with a cord. All the extension cords I would use with it were accounted for. Could I have left it in Vermont when I went to Farmer Judy’s build a poultry pen? No, she would have called me. Maybe my daughter’s fiancé used it when he was here? I called my daughter to ask her if she knew where the drill was. The conversation went something like this. Me, “Hi. It’s Mom. I can’t find the drill. Do you have any idea where it is?”. Daughter, “No. You asked me last fall and I told you I hadn’t seen it.” Me, “I asked you this before?” Daughter, “Yes.” Me. “Oh.”

Great, I not only lost the drill. I’m losing my mind also. Scary.

I decided to sit down and think where the drill could be. The car came to mind. Ah ha! I looked in the car. I really thought the car would be it, but there was no drill in the car. I gave up. I was too worked up about it to continue. There would be no cold frame building today.

Later I went out to the garage to give the chickens some fresh water. I saw a dog tie-out chain hanging out of a bin. When I go to Vermont to visit Judy, I bring my dog tie-out chain. I sometimes bring my drill. That bin would have been in the garage all winter. It’s damp. Oh Oh. The drill was in the bin under other things. It was very damp when I took it out. It actually dripped water. I did not plug it in, but set it on the radiator for about 5 hours and them tried it. It worked, but it was dark, and far too late to drill the holes that I had intended to do hours and hours before.

Today, in 10 minutes, I drilled the 6 holes before I could loose the drill again or before I forgot that I even intended to drill the holes.

After this episode with the drill, which is sadly not unique for me, I had an idea. RFIDs are those little chips that are used for tracking inventory and other things. There are a lots and lots of very serious privacy issues surrounding their use. However my half tongue-in-cheek idea, which I’m sure is not new, is to market them to people like me, ageing baby boomers, who forget where they leave their stuff or even forget what stuff they own. I’d put them on all my things and when I lost something, I’d just get my scanner to help me find it. When I get old and forgot even what the name of my stuff is. I’d scan it to find out. I just need to figure out what I’d do if I loose my RFID scanner. Humm.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Wireless Thermometer

Wait, you're probably thinking that all thermometers are wireless. Most are but NOT my new wireless thermometer. Despite the fact that it does have a wire and looks more like I should use it to download music or communicate with the mothership, I think I like it. I need to try it for a few months though before I'd actually recommend it. It consists of the base unit that you see here and a remote unit. The remote unit isn't supposed to be put where it gets below 32F. (quite a joke here in winter) because the batteries will freeze. For remote monitoring below 32F. it has a probe with a 10 foot wire that can be optionally plugged into it. That's the wire I mentioned. So why did I spend probably double or triple what I would on a manual high/low thermometer? There were a number of features I liked. I can monitor the temperature inside the cold frame from any room in the house because the cold frame is within 10 feet of a window where I can locate the remote unit. I can use the probe to test soil temperatures in the cold frame or in the garden. It has an audible alarm that can be set for both high and low temperature warning. When gardening season is over I can use it in my freezer to detect any malfunction by setting the alarm to warn me in the kitchen if the temperature in my freezer in the cellar goes above a preset temperature. The only drawback I see so far is the short 10 foot length of the wire for the probe. There's no way I could put it in the chicken coop to warn of very low temperatures because any temperature I consider very low would be well below its 32F. and the coop is more than 10 feet from the house. For me that's not much of a drawback because I don't start to worry about the chickens until outside temps. are below 5F. and that doesn't happen more than a few times a year here. The price I paid was $29.99. One thing I did not mention is that the remote unit can be up 100 feet fron the base unit. In the photo above the temp. on the top (55F) is the remote temperature and the lower number (63F) t is the temperature at the base station. The photo was taken just after dark around 5pm. 55F really was the temperature outside in the yard today at that time. It was so wonderfully warm and springlike for January today. Currently, as I glance at the remote temp.on the base unit at about 11pm, it's reading a warm but more seasonal 37F.

Note: the answer to the question I posted yesterday is in the comments section of yesterday.

Friday, January 20, 2006

What is in the Box

If you saw the old version of this post you can't guess. In that version I named the photo to reveal the answer. Duh! I'm 99 percent sure I know both the purpose of these two little shanty type structures and also what's inside them. Can you guess? Hint. The photo was taken today about 7 miles west of Boston, Massachusetts USA. I'll post the answer tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Impulse Cyclamen

Today I went to that big box store that sells lumber and home fix-it things to buy lumber for the base of the cold frame that I hope to start this weekend. I also needed an L bracket. To get to the area that had the brackets I had to walk past the plant section. They had some nice plants, beautiful orchids. They are tempting but I don't think I have a suitable environment for them. Then I saw row after row of cyclamens. Last week in San Diego I saw lots of cyclamens. They seem to be a common outdoor winter landscaping plant there and seeing so many made me see that in addition to their beautiful flowers, they had nice foliage also. I've never had a cyclamen, but I know they like cool temperature. My house is cool. With the price of energy almost every house in Massachusetts is cool. Did I need one? Noooo. I have lots of plants. I'm not usually an impulse buyer, but..... The price wasn't marked on them. OK, I thought, if they were less than $4, I'd go for it. I brought it to the register for a price check. $3.98 Bingo I win! It's mine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Vegetarian Chicken Salad

It's not just the seed catalogs that arrive in January. The hatchery catalogs arrive also. It's still early here in Massachusetts for starting chicks, but here's a picture of one of the batches of chicks that I raised last year. During the first few weeks of their lives they need added heat to stay warm. They get this added heat from heat lamps or regular light bulbs. Once they can go outside they have lots of pasture to range on, but while they are in still the brooder, I dig them clumps of greens, chicken salad. This chicken salad has clover, grasses, and I'm sure many other nutrients and minerals in the soil that they devour along with the greens. The chickens love their salad and its good for them too.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Time to go Home

It's time to go home when you start taking pictures like this.

Farewell to paradise

Prickly Pear Cactus

click photo to enlarge

Soon I'll be heading home, but I'm still in San Diego. Above is a photo I took today of a prickly pear cactus. It's certainly not what grows in my backyard near Boston, MA USA. I found this picture interesting because it shows four different things. Near the top you can see that some of its flowers are starting to bloom and on the right you can see some fruit. Near the bottom left there's an interesting feature, graffiti. The thing I found the most interesting, though, are the white fuzzy things you see on the lower right on the cactus. They are cochineal insects. Inside the white waxy substance that the insect produces is the insect. If you pick it off and squeeze it, it produces a bright red liquid which looks a lot like blood. The cochineal insect itself produces this bright red. These insects have been used as a red dye for centuries. If you eat foods dyed red with natural red dye or carmine, guess what you may actually be eating. Hint, look up 'cochineal' on google and wikipedia.

Below is a picture I found interesting. I guess because I rarely see cactus outside of small potted plants. I just found cactus graffiti surpising, probably because I never thought about it until I saw it.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Orchid Day

I'm still away. Today I spent the day at Balboa Park, San Diego, CA , USA The botanical building there is full of orchids and bromeliads as well as many other plants. I couldn't resist the orchids. The last picture is a giant life size topiary in front of the zoo, just an idea of what to do with that very large bush in your yard.

This is Not New England

I'm on vacation in the opposite corner of the country, the San Diego area. I thought I'd post a few pictures while I'm gone.

Sunset Jan 14th , taken through the car windshield while driving from Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to San Diego, USA

California Fan Palms near the entrance to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California, USA
Unidentified flower near the entrance to my hotel San Diego CA, USA

Growing in downtown San Diego. I don't have my field guides, so I can't identify it.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

ARF/5-A-Day Blueberries

This is my post for ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays later tonight over at Sweetnicks. ARF stands for antioxidant rich food.
I'm getting ready to go on vacation and haven't been cooking much lately, and you can see that in the interest of having a post I've actually posted a 'recipe' for a bowl of oatmeal. Talk about scrapping the bottom of the blogging barrel. What's next, a recipe for ice water??
So here is my bowl of oatmeal dressed up to qualify as an ARF post. Despite the fact that it's so easy to prepare, otameal really does make a nice breakfast. After eating oatmeal for breakfast it's unlikely that you will be hungry anytime before lunch. It really is very satisfying, yummy and actually is good for you.

Oatmeal with Blueberries and Cream
1/2 cup oats
1 cup water
1/2 cup blueberries (fresh are the best, but I used frozen)
2 tbs. light cream.

Mix together oatmeal and water and cook about 5 minutes over medium heat.
If you are using frozen blueberries, Defrost them in the microwave while the oatmeal is cooking.
When the oatmeal is cooked, put it into a bowl, add the blueberries, and then pour on the cream. Optionally, add a teaspoon of sugar if you like.
265 calories, 9 grams fat, lots of antioxidants

Monday, January 09, 2006

Getting the Message Across

Today I diverge, no recipes, no gardening news, no tales of my chickens or dogs. I'm taking a vitual vacation and posting a photo I took a few years ago in Paris.
This is a sign on a Paris street. I like it because even if you don't read French, you can understand it. In fact, one doesn't have to be able to read at all to get the message. I also like it because it's in the first person. It tries to achieve a goal without sounding like an order. I'm not totally fluent in French, but I translate it as "I care about my neighborhood. I pick up".

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Watching at the Window

It's weekend dog blogging so head over to Sweetnick's later for the roundup.

Kahlil one of the resident dogs here doesn't miss much that happens. I know he can tell the sound of my car because he's at the window before I even pull into the driveway, but not if I'm driven home in another car.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Frozen Surfers

Photo courtesy of South Shore Surfing
Some of the activities that my nephew Michael, who is 14 years old, likes are skateboarding, snowboarding and surfing. When I saw Michael at Christmas and we were looking at blogs, I showed him a really nice picture that I liked of two boys from Sugar Mountain Farm snowboarding and asked him if been doing any snowboarding now that the surfing and skateboarding seasons were over. He told me that he was still surfing. What!!! I like winter, and I like the ocean, but the thought of going into the ocean when there is snow on the ground seems a little extreme to me, but not to Michael and his friends. So if you are like me and you think that boys in this area of the country spend their free time during winter, playing hockey, skiing, snowboarding and throwing snowballs at passing cars you would be right, but some boys are also surfing in the ocean. Brrrrrrrr.
These frozen surfers have set up a site with more photos of their winter surfing adventures at

Friday, January 06, 2006

Keeping Warm

This post is not about chickens, at least not directly. It’s about ideas on keeping the cold frame, that I plan on building, warm. I’ve already written about the site of the cold frame and about ventilation and today I’ll write about some of the ways I hope to keep it warm.

The Sun – This is the most obvious. The sun will provide heat and light for the plants. On sunny warm days it may actually provide too much heat. The challenge will be retaining and storing the heat that the sun provides.

Heat Stores – One heat store will be the masonry wall of the house that the cold frame is build against. I don’t think this will be a very good heat store, but the other side of the wall is the cellar and due to my inefficient furnace the temperature of the cellar in winter is probably in the upper 60Fs so there should be some heat leakage from the cellar into the cold frame. The second heat store will be water. This will be in the form of the one-gallon plastic milk containers that I’ve been saving. They will be filled with water and kept in the cold frame. The idea is that the heat stored in the water while it’s sunny will leak back into the cold frame when it’s not sunny.

Insulation – The plastic, covering the top of the cold frame, will have two layers with an air space between. This double ‘glazing’ will allow less heat to escape than one single layer. I also plan on insulating around the bottom wood frame of the cold frame, but am not sure what material I will use for this yet. I may also create a blanket type cover to put over the cold frame at night.

Composting – Here’s where the chickens come in, or at least the chicken litter, which is a mixture of pine shavings and chicken manure. I plan on having a compost pile of chicken litter in the cold frame. Because a compost pile heats up, it should be able to add some heat into the cold frame.

Add Heat – The possibility of many days in a row with no sun has me convinced I will probably need to add some extra heat into the cold frame at some time. One possibility is cracking opening the cellar window that the cold frame is built against. This window is in a separate room of the cellar and I don’t think this would affect the house temperature upstairs in the living area, but that’s an unknown. Another possibility is electrical heat tape. I would really like to minimize this, but will consider it for backup.

The challenge for me will be to see just how early in the season I can set up and use my cold frame while adding little or no external heat except the sun. I’ll be busy for the next two week and won’t be able to build the cold frame for a while, but I hope to get it built quite a while before I actually put plants in it, so I can see how all these ideas are working out.

I would love to hear from other gardeners who have tried similar ideas.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Coldframe Ventilation

I know I said yesterday I'd talk about my ideas for heating and ventilation for the coldframe I'm building. My laptop computer is in the process of dying and I spent most of the evening backing up files. I'm really lucky that my kids gave me a 5GB Seagate pocket drive for Christmas. The backing up process hasn't been too bad but I'm tired and decided to just write about my ideas on ventilation tonight and save heating for tomorrow.
One problem I've had with coldframes in the past is having the temperature get too hot inside. It may be cold and cloudy in the morning when I go off to work or somewhere else. Around noon the sun may come out and if I'm not home to prop open the cover of the coldframe the temperature inside can get too hot and cook the plants inside. Last year I did some research and for a little under $40 I bought an automatic window opener made for greenhouses. With some combination of springs and melting wax (I think) this device will open a window when it gets hot and close it when it gets cold. According to the directions the opening temperatures are adjustable between 59F - 77F.
Now the part I'm not sure about is should I have it open the cover of the coldframe which would be the traditional way or should I install it on the cellar window that will actually be inside the leanto coldframe so the cellar window will open when it's too hot in the coldframe. This would allow the waste heat to go into the cellar. One problem with the second idea is that I was possibly planning on opening the cellar window as an emergency heat source into the cold frame on very cold nights. I'm leaning toward the first idea of using the automatic opener on the coldframe cover and not the cellar window, but would really welcome any ideas anyone has.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Passive Solar Home Site

I wish I had a passive solar home, but for now, I'll have to be content to create one for my plants. This is an afternoon photo of the site where I plan to build a coldframe later this month. It is situated about latitude 42, longitude -71 and is in gardening zone 6. Although, I'm hoping that close to the house is actually a higher gardening zone micro-climate. It faces south, southeast and is in a sheltered L shaped area. I chose it because it gets the most sun of any area adjacent to the house. I plan on building the cold frame next to the house to take advantage of heat that leaks out through the walls, as well as using the masonry foundation of the house as one of the heat stores. This place seems warmer than other areas. I notice the snow always melts here first. The small tree in the photo is a Bartlett pear and won't leaf out early enough to cause shade too early in the season. The coldframe will be a lean-to design with the top meeting the house just above the cellar window. Two important things to consider for the coldframe will be heat and ventilation which I will discuss in my next post.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stuffed Artichoke

I know I said I'd post more on my cold frame plans today, but I forgot that today is ARF/5-a-Day Tuesday over at Sweetnicks . ARF stands for antioxidant rich food. I decided to choose artichokes as my first ARF food. I will be trying to grow artichokes this year and they will have to spend time in the cold frame so there is a connection to the cold frame.
Stuffed artichokes are one of the comfort foods of my childhood. Many people are put off by fresh artichokes because they've never cooked them before. The first picture shows my finished artichoke. It is WAY overstuffed. I'm not used to making one at a time and I got carried away with the amount of stuffing. The stuffing is seasoned breadcrumbs and some Parmesan cheese. Romano cheese works well also. The artichokes of my childhood used Progresso seasoned breadcrumbs and tasted great. For this one here, I started with plain white breadcrumbs and added some basil, oregano, thyme, Romano cheese and salt.

Start out by washing the artichoke. Cut the stem off and save it. Then, holding it by the bottom, turn it over and bang it on the top of counter or table. This will open it up a bit and make it easier to stuff. You can take a scissors and cut the points off of the leaves, but I only do this if I'm serving them to company. Hold out each leaf as you put stuffing in. After you've stuffed them, put them into a pot that they fit snugly in and add an inch of water. Pour some olive oil into them and throw in the stems that you cut off into the pot also. I love to eat the stems, so don't throw them away until you've tried them. You'll need to cook (actually steam) them covered at a low boil for about an hour or until a leaf that you remove is tender. Replenish the water as it boils away.

To eat the artichoke. Remove each leaf and scrape the breadcrumbs as well as the bit of artichoke with your teeth. No silverware is required. Use your hands. When you get to the point that the artichokes looks like this picture, you still have the best part left, the heart. Pull off what's left. It will look like the next picture.
Underneath it may look like the picture at the top of the post. Scoop out the choke that you see and discard the it leaving just the bottom, also called the heart. It tastes delicious and if you saved a little of the stuffing from the leaves as you ate them, you can put some stuffing in it and eat it. It's my favorite part. The heart is the reward you get for scraping all those leaves.
Finally, I have one last tip. When you finish eating an artichoke, you will have a pile of leaves. Do not put them down a garbage disposal. They are rather fibrous and may upset the disposal an/or plumbing. It's better, for environment to compost them anyway.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Lettuce Begin

Last Years Harvest

This Years Hope
Although January 2nd seems early to start lettuce in the northeastern part of the US, I have a plan. This year I'm building a cold frame attached to a southern wall of my brick house. I'm hoping that with a few tricks, I can keep it above freezing starting in February. Some of the ways I hope to achieve this will include, insulation, thermal mass, composting and of course, most importantly, the sun. It's in the planning stage now and I won't have time to build it until after mid January. Tomorrow I'll post a picture of the building site and some more of my ideas. In the mean time my first task is to buy a high/low thermometer. I'd love to hear from others who have used passive solar to get a jump start on the growing season.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Dog Play

Click on photo to enlarge
Remember more Weekend Dog Blogging at Sweetnicks
This is my dog, Kahlil on the bottom and my daughters dog, Bogie on the top. It's the type of picture you can't plan. It just happens. I press the shutter and a few second later when the camera actually takes the picture the dogs are frozen in a moment that without the camera I couldn't have even seen myself.
These two dogs are actually brothers but not littermate. They are sons of Kia and Cinnamon of Sugar Mountain Farm. Although this looks ferocious and makes some people nervous to watch, it isn't real fighting. It is play. Like children, dogs learn many things through play. For Bogie it is actually very valuable play because he's learning bite inhibition. Kahlil is re-enforcing the lessons Bogie learned from his mother and other dogs of his early puppyhood. If Bogie bites too hard Kahlil will let him know it and Bogie will learn to inhibit his bite. Dogs who never learn bite inhibition can be dangerous to humans or to other animals.
Like his littermate Baloo, Kahlil is good with puppies and children. It seems to be his nature. His is also a good watchdog and woke me up three nights ago to tell me something. I didn't know what that something was, but when I let him lead me to the door and opened it. I saw him look up at a tree and give a few deep barks. I knew then what he was trying to tell me. There was a raccoon sitting there in the tree. I checked that my flimsy chicken door was closed as tightly as possible and relunctantly brought him into the house. Leaving him out would have allowed me to sleep knowing the chickens were safe, but I knew 2am barking would not be appreciated by my neighbors. I slept restlessly that night and whenever I would wake up Kahlil was awake by the bedroom door. Very early next morning when I woke up Kahlil was asleep. When I let him out he paid no attention to the tree. I was now sure the raccoon was gone. This tree is on the opposite side of the house from the bedroom. I still wonder how he knew the raccoon was there and how he knew it was gone. Did he hear the raccoon? Did he hear some disturbed noises the chickens made? Did he hear a tree branch creak? Did he smell it? I'm not sure, but I know if I want to sleep better, I'd better tighten up the chicken door. The raccoon did not look like he was just passing through.