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Monday, June 28, 2010

Oh Deer ...

I was getting ready for work this morning when a loud noise came over the house.  I quickly figured out it was a cropduster!  Grabbed the camera -- grabbed the memory disk -- checked the battery -- and ran outside ... way too late.  The cropduster was gone, and they weren't dusting the mint field behind my house like I thought they were going to be (got a notice last Friday).  So ... while I had my camera in my hand, I figured I'd take some photos while I was standing on the ditchbank overlooking one of my pastures.

Here's the bank I am standing on.

My cute little house:

Part of my little black flock:

I've decided to start the sheep eating this pasture first.  We'll see how it goes.
That concrete slab was the back steps to the mobile home that was here.

While I was fartin' around with my camera, I see this:

So I continued snapping away ...

Gotta love it.


Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Quack Shack!

Ok ... can someone please turn down the heat?  I'm not sure who ordered summer, but it sure wasn't me.  Glad the wind stopped ... but yikes.  Tomorrow it's going to hit close to 100 degrees.  The dogs aren't going to like me ... they'll be crated in the house where it's nice and cool so I don't have to worry about them.

Glenda and Phyllis came over Saturday.  Wow!  Amazing what happens when those two get going.  Just to give you a point of reference ... here is the duck area last July when I was first trying to buy the house.

Ok ... so ... when Phyllis approached me about keeping her ducks at my place, I put the sheep in this area and closed them in and made them eat down most of the weeds.  They did a nice job cleaning it up for the most part.  In the photo above, what you can't see is the dead branches of the fruit tree hanging all over inside this pen, making it very difficult to do much of anything in here.  Well, I had the tree trimmer guy cut those down for me, and i've been dragging those branches out to the burn pile and burning them periodically.

Glenda showed up, and Phyllis was not far behind.  They got to work putting up some duck fencing on the inside of this pen as needed, making a gate for the area, and also building a front on this shelter so critters can't get in.  Once that was all done, I went in and mowed, and then raked out all of the sticks and fox tails and whatever other prizes were revealed.  And here's the transformation.

From the outside ...

From the inside ... looking at the fruit tree all nice and trimmed up:

The Quack Shack itself!

A little bit of paint, and this will be ready for some new residents!

(Hey ladies ... I thought of a great idea for a pond ... I'll need your input to see if it will actually work, so let's chat!)

Here's the backyard.  Glenda was a huge help in figuring out the flood irrigation and getting good coverage back here, so I am looking forward to greening this up this year.

We cleaned up some of the panels on the pig pen:

I finally got the head of the driveway cleaned out.

Glenda and Phyllis devised a gate system for the entrance to the canal.  The sheep have figure out this very easy escape route -- and now that problem is solved!!  Woo hoo!

The never-ending pile of crap to burn.

A bush ... just because.

My truck.  Isn't he gorgeous?

You want a closer shot?  Sure, here ya go!

This is the back of my storage building.

See the lowest hole where the wires are going in?

You know what that is?  An entrance to a bees' nest!  Rrrrugh!!!  I HATE bees!  Need to go spray it tonight.

Phyllis, Glenda ... you guys are great!  Thank you SO MUCH for your help!  

That's all folks!


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Double Taxation ...

Here is the latest article in the Canyon County Animal Shelter ridiculousness. Why the residents of the cities of Caldwell and Middleton aren't up in arms over this is beyond me.  I guess they like paying twice.

Can someone please tell me where the dog owner's responsibility comes in here?  When the owner comes to pick up the dog after it's been picked up and brought to the shelter, why does the owner get a discounted rabies vaccination so the rest of the county ... and apparently now the individual cities ... can foot the rest of the bill????  Where is the logic in all of this?  And why are we vetting strays instead of euthanizing them at the cost of ... oh ... a few cents for the drugs ... within 24 hours of being brought into the shelter -- unless they're licensed?  I'll bet that would encourage people to license their dogs, or microchip them, or something.  And then they can foot the bill themselves.

Sheriff addresses talk of shelter cuts

Posted: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 12:15 am
CANYON COUNTY — Canyon County Sheriff Chris Smith plans to hand a letter to commissioners this week enumerating the problems the sheriff’s office could face if county funding to the animal shelter goes away.

Commissioners plan to make deep cuts to the tax-supported shelter as part of their attempt to trim the budget for the coming fiscal year amid shrinking revenues. Commissioner Steve Rule told the Idaho Press-Tribune Monday that attorneys have been asked to prepare a request for proposals seeking an outside agency or private party to run the shelter.

That has shelter officials concerned about the kind of impact such an action would have on the community.

The sheriff’s letter raises concerns about how the county will continue to handle seizing and impounding stray and unlicensed dogs. If funding were cut or a private party took over management of the shelter, there are still animal control tasks that the state requires a county sheriff’s office to do.
Cities would be responsible for their own animal control.

The shelter costs about $1.2 million a year to run, but only generates about $300,000 in revenue, leaving the remaining $900,000 for the county to pay for.

The sheriff’s office and commissioners “took a hard look at it last year, and we invited the Idaho Humane Society to look at it — tried to negotiate a deal for them to take them over,” Rule said.
Now, Rule said, “If we’re serious about this, (we need to) put out a request for proposals and see who is willing to take it over and manage it.”

“What we’re really trying to do is match revenue with the costs,” Canyon County Commissioner David Ferdinand said Tuesday. “That’s why we’re looking for some private supplier. ... We really need to see what’s out there and see what’s available.”

Rule said he is serious about closing the shelter if private management efforts fall through.
“Somehow we’ve got to cut budget dollars,” Rule said. “This is an obvious way to get rid of several thousand dollars of tax burden for all of Canyon County.”

Commissioner Kathy Alder could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday.

Shelter seeks self-sufficiency

Sheltering the cats and dogs — providing them with housing, food and medical care — makes up the bulk of the time and expense of running the shelter, director Lt. Bill Adams said. That, along with animal control, is included in the services the shelter currently provides to cities.

With the exception of Nampa, cities contract with the county for the services, but those annual payments only cover a portion of operating costs —  $89,000 per year from Caldwell and $7,867 from Middleton, for example.

Nampa brings in approximately 43 percent of approximately 10,000 animals a year, Adams said. If Nampa contributed financially for its use of the shelter, that would help resolve the excess expense, Adams said. But Nampa officials contend that that is double taxation because county tax dollars already support the shelter.

The shelter will continue to look for support from the community to make the shelter “work on its own,” Adams said.

“I think we could get really close if we had every (city) contributing equally and made some more changes. It would take a huge burden off the taxpayer,” he said. “I would like to see the shelter have the opportunity to become self-sufficient and see that all who use the shelter contribute equally.”

Shelter has already taken cuts

The shelter has already increased its fees and taken cost-cutting measures in an attempt to become self-sufficient, director Lt. Bill Adams said.

“We’re under-budget, we’re not wasting the money we have,” Adams said.

Thousands of dollars have been saved already by operating with fewer staff members, changing dog food vendors and switching to different cleaning products, he said.

Low-cost spay and neuter reduce the intake population, which ultimately lowers costs, and aggressive enforcement of unsterilized dog impound fees and licensing fees has raised revenue by about $10,000 compared to the same six-month period last year, he added.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Whine of the Animal Shelter

Can you hear it?  Listen carefully.  Here ... let me help you.

Whine ...

Whine ...

Whine ...

The issue is getting ridiculous.  Close the shelter or hire people that are smart enough to figure out how to make it self-sustaining without unfairly taxing those who do not use the shelter ... for any reason.

Here's a particularly funny quote:  "County commissioners want those who use the shelter to pay for it instead of all county taxpayers."

So the rocket scientists at the shelter and with Animal Control decide that the best way to make that happen is to enforce the licensing of dogs (not cats, mind you ... just dogs) in the county, starting with people who have websites advertising dogs for sale.  I wonder if their legs hurt after that giant leap of logic.  Anyone who has a website must be an irresponsible breeder and their puppies must be ending up in the shelter, right?  Wrong.  Most breeders I know rescue more than they breed (not to mention that the breeders go to the expense of health testing their breeding adults, competing with their adults in one form or another, and requiring contracts on the puppies when they sell them).  That's right.  Rescue.  They rescue dogs before the dogs end up at the shelter.  But that doesn't matter to the shelter.  Or animal control.  As long as you have more than 5 dogs on your property, and heaven help you if those dogs aren't licensed with the county, regardless of who they belong to or whether or not they are rescues who you avoided from ending up at the shelter, you will be fined and the money is said to go back to the shelter. 

And that's just where the shelter started looking for people to go after!  That was their first move!  Isn't that embarrassing?

Here's another pretty comical quote:

"It costs the shelter $28.02 for a rabies vaccine, but the shelter only charges $6 to pet owners. That’s going to increase to $15."

Your rocket scientists hard at work again.  It costs THEM $28.02 per rabies vaccine, so they turn around and charge the public $6.  Sounds to me like someone can't add.  And the oh-so-brilliant commissioners come up with the novel idea of raising it to $15 ... still $13.02 short ... per dog!  WHY????  Why not charge $50 and make some money off the deal in order to be able to operate the shelter you're whining about not being able to run???  Oh, because dogs will be put down?  Darn.  Perhaps the owners should have thought of that before their dogs ended up in the shelter.

The SAME article goes on to say:

"Pet owners need to be responsible, and if they use the shelter’s services, they should be the ones who pay the bill. That’s just simple common sense."

WHAT???  Is that why the bill to a pet owner is $13.02 short each time they need a rabies vaccine???  WTF??? 

Watching the news tonight... the shelter is basically blaming Nampa City for all the dogs that get dropped off at the shelter and saying that they want Nampa City tax payers to foot the bill.  Nampa says no ... that tax payers already pay for the animal control thought their tax dollars and that Nampa couldn't afford that kind of bill.  The shelter says that only 3% of Nampa City dogs are licensed with the county, and more licensing would mean more revenue.  So let's look on the shelter's website to see what it says about WHY people should license their dogs.

"Benefits of Licensing
  • Tells everyone that your dog is not a homeless stray, but a loved pet.
  • Animal Control will call and/or send a letter if your lost dog comes to the shelter.
  • Enables Animal Control to protect your neighborhood from dangerous animals and investigate animal bites.
  • Helps pay for the care and adoption of homeless animals.
  • Supports investigations of animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment.
  • Supports educational programs covering humane ethics and animal safety."
A license tells everyone that you love your dog?  Who the hell cares?????

Animal Control will call or send me a letter if my LICENSED dog comes to the shelter, but wouldn't if it were just microchipped or had just an ID tag on its neck?  Really?

How on earth does my dog's license enable AC to protect my neighborhood from dangerous animals or investigate animal bites?  Oh, through the money it generates?  I thought that was going toward keeping the shelter open!  Where did my tax dollars get lost in all of this?

It helps pay for the care and adoption of homeless animals -- that are NOT MINE and that I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR!  Yippee.

Supports investigation of cruelty and neglect?  What about keeping the animal shelter open that's about to close?  Where did my tax dollars get lost in all of this?

And ... it covers programs I DON'T NEED, WANT or USE!  Woo hoo!

What a scam.

And here's the kicker ... ready?

"The animal shelter makes sense as a starting point for cuts because it’s not a service the county is mandated by state or federal law to provide, he said."

Yet ... as residents ... we are REQUIRED to license our dogs to support a shelter that is not state or federally mandated????????  If we fail to comply, we are then charged with MISDEMEANORS ... CRIMINAL charges!!!  What is wrong with this picture???

Steve Rule seems to be the only voice of reason in this entire debacle. 

"Officials plan to solicit proposals from private groups interested in operating an animal shelter, Commissioner Steve Rule said. If no viable proposals are returned, the fate of the shelter is uncertain."

If the people who run the shelter aren't smart enough to figure out the math in what to charge for fees in order to break even or profit from the shelter ... maybe hiring someone who made it through 2nd grade math would help.

I am not into breed bans by any stretch of the imagination, but it makes me wonder ... if "pibbles" (<--isn't that such a cutesy name for those muscle-bound brainless maniacs?) were banned, what condition would the shelter be in?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How about a little fire, Scarecrow?

I got sick of looking at it today.  I had to do something about it.  Besides, I needed to fence that area off for the sheep, anyway.  So here's what it looked like this morning.

Don't ya just love foxtails and cheat grass?  The pile of wood to the right was only 1/2 of it.  There was a pile that looked just like it on the left not in this photo.  The grass is so high, you can't see the pile of junk underneath it that came out of the house when Kirk replaced the countertop or when I stripped the front room.  Tons of just crap stuff that needed gone.

So I started burning ... mowing ... raking ... burning some more ... raking ... mowing ... and made some headway.  The lighting isn't right on these photos as a storm was rolling in just behind me, but I am too tired to do anything about it.  So here they are.

Zip kept bringing me sticks when I would take a break and drink a beer on my tailgate.  I kept telling him that the sticks go in the fire pile, and asking him what the problem was ... why didn't he want to put them there!

I walked into the backyard to bring the dogs in because of the storm that was brewing, and this is what I saw.

Look at those ears piled up on top of her head!  What the hell!?!?!?  They were sitting nicely at the sides of her head, and I thought we'd have some normal looking "down" ears.  Apparently, they are not sure what to do.  See?

(Does she look like an Aussie in this shot or what???)

And her so dainty, so lovely hairless mother.

Ouch.  You poor thing.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Freein' Up

Wow.  I haven't really posted in a while.  Sorry about that.

I've been busy taking care of business and trying to keep my head above water.  The furlough days are starting to scale back a bit for now, so that's good news for my paycheck.  I also made a huge leap in getting rid of my truck payments.  I used to have a 2004 F-150 with about 78K miles on it.  I traded it in for a 1997 Ford F-250 Super Duty with 71K miles on it.  The insurance on it is about 1/2 of what it was on my other truck.  And this one ... the parts are much easier to replace.  Yes, I lose a bit of luxury (electric windows), but it's well worth it.

I am sure I'll take more photos soon and will post them when I do.

The dogs are all doing well.  Echo broke a toenail very low on one of her dew claws, so we're futzing with that, but it'll be ok.  The sheep are just about done eating what I have to offer in the backyard, so they're managing the dog yard (when the dogs aren't around) and the "deck yard" (the little grass area by my deck) that I fenced off.  More fencing this weekend.

Yes, really.  Fencing.  I am done talking about it.  I'm actually going to do it.

If I get really motivated, perhaps I will even start working on my new and improved duck area so I can finally bring ducks back in. 

If all goes as planned, I have another pig coming in a couple of months.  I found someone breeding Durocs.  So I'll need another name for a new boy.  Wilbur, maybe?  I could build a web in the pig's shelter! 

Took Reese on her first off-leash canal walk.  She did great!  She even got her first swim in the canal, and it wasn't a "panic swim".  It was as if she knew what she was doing ... jumped in, swam around, and climbed back out and went about her business.  Cute girl.  Her recall is getting pretty solid.

Should be a nice weekend ... enjoy!


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Jill is sold!

Jill found a lovely home in Boise.  I am thrilled that all three found such great homes and am excited to see how they all the pups turn out!

Sorry the blog is a bit boring of late.  I haven't been doing much.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll get out and do some fencing and plant my new trees and stuff.  It was a lovely day today, but ... well ... the wind.  Ugh.  It makes me sleep.  :-)

Till later ...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A different kind of hawk ...



I mowed last night, and I have apparently mastered the fine art of leaving mohawks all over my yard.

I am not sure I care about the little mohawks everywhere.  At least the foxtails are knocked down for the most part. 

And here's an area that hasn't seen a lawnmower in a long time.  All between these trees was quite a mess and my lawnmower was screaming at me, but we got it done for the most part.  At least it's cleaned out enough so I can rake it out. 

One side is worked on, at least.

Here are the gates for the entrance to the pasture that DC put up.  The one at the end of the driveway is in the works, too.

Here is another one of my many projects:

That's my trailer that I have for sale, and the pile of sticks is some of the branches from the fruit trees Mr. Chainsaw guy cut down for me.  It's been raining too much to get that stuff burned.  Hopefully in the next week, I can have a bonfire and get it all done.

There's plenty to burn.

It's never-ending.

Hey mom, look!  No fences!


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Closer to normal ...

First, let me start by saying thank you to those that responded to my last very whiney -- now deleted -- post.  It felt good to write it, and it felt even better to delete it.  Picking my dumb ass up and moving on now.

Worked Echo Wednesday night over at Janie's.  Being that she's been so weird lately, I didn't know what to expect.  So after everyone was done, I took her out ... sent her on an outrun, and she went with more conviction than she has in a while.  She came in a bit flat at the top, but I didn't worry about that for right now.  I forgot my whistle at home, so I was using a plastic whistle, and none of my tones were right -- but she took them better than expected.  I kept the lesson short, worked a bit at the pen and then put all of the sheep away.  I considered it successful.  I'll work her again this weekend when I go to pick up some of my fencing at Janie's.

Fencing.  Rrrgh.

I let the sheep graze the area next to my deck today.  They were happy.  I think I am going to install a gate down there and make that area a grazing area of sorts.

This weekend, I am hoping put get the white vinyl fence lined with field fence so the sheep can be out there also.  We'll see.

The puppies are doing great.  Need to get pictures of them. 

Yes, it's almost 2:00 in the morning.  Slept way too late this morning, and drank way too much soda.

Hey Brian, how's that broken tomahawk workin' for ya?  Oh oh oh-oh-oh ... oh-woh-wooooh ... The sucky Dodgers broke your broom, didn't they?  Poor Braves.  Want relish AND mustard on that there Dodger dog, buddy?  Relish is an additional $7.50.  $9.00 for Atlanta fans.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

There's just no hope for me ...

Nice camera ... and borrowed a very nice lens ... and I still suck at this.

Anyway, just messing with the lens ... and I can see where this shot could have been way nicer. 

The bokeh was deliberate and I like how it came out.  Gonna play with that a bit more.  That's one of the slats to that awful plastic "Dallas" looking fence in my front pasture.  I guess it's good for something after all.

Tonight, I was talking to Mitch on the phone, but dropped him like a hot potato when I saw not one but both hawks hanging out in the trees across the street.  Ran in for my camera, and wished I could have found some actual talent along the way, but alas, I didn't.

Here's one of the hawks.  Not sure if this is the male or the female.

That tree is quite a distance from me, and I would never have gotten that shot with my own lens.  Thanks Kirk!

And this is the other ... much larger ... hawk.

As if you couldn't tell, I messed with the lighting a bit, so that messed with the color a bit.

And here is where my glaring lack of talent comes in.  I have no idea how to set the camera for when the sun is setting, but the sky is still pretty bright, yet still get detail.  So here's a couple of very cool looking silhouette shots. 

As you can see, this one is screaming, and it did quite a bit of that.  I'm not sure why.  I haven't seen the fledglings yet, but I am wondering if that had something to do with it.

Off to bed.