Monthly Archives: October 2008

September and October

I can’t believe I haven’t updated in two months!

Remodel news

We finally got the new dry lot built. Finally, finally, finally the horses have a non-muddy place to spend the winter.

We saved money for the job, but when it came time to do it, what we had saved was nowhere near enough money. Who knew gravel was so expensive? But Todd, our contractor, is beyond wonderful, and he researched and crunched numbers until we were at least able to do part of the work.

In the end, Todd…

  • cleared all of the brush, fallen limbs, blackberries, and dead trees along the road,
  • cleared a new, small pasture area between the dry lot and pasture one that has been christened “pasture zero,”
  • dug cisterns and laid French drains,
  • put down gravel in an area somewhat larger than the old dry lot,
  • built a new wooden fence like the one around the house along the north edge of the dry lot, and
  • installed a couple of new gates.

Building the lot required taking down a lot of the existing fence. We have rebuilt some of it and moved the electric fence charger to the barn. We haven’t completely closed off the dry lot from the other pastures or fenced and gated pasture zero yet, but the horses are secure.

We also haven’t replaced the fence in the front part of the property that torn down when we did the clearing along the road. That means that no dogs or horses are allowed to go out and play in the front area right now.

Due to the economic changes, we tightened up our budget. Before we did that, we were going to have the dry lot paid off within a few months. I think now it might take well into next year. The next step of the remodel is on hold until we pay off the dry lot completely AND save money for the next step. Although it’s no less of a priority, we could probably say the remodel is on hold for a while, because I’m betting it will take a while before we’re ready for the next step.


The beasties are doing fine, but I wanted to share one story. While Todd was building the new dry lot, the horses were stuck in pasture one 24/7. This isn’t such a bad thing — it’s big, and there are both trees and grazing space. The fences are electric tape, but we weren’t able to turn it on, because Todd had torn down some of the connecting fence. That concerned us, because if they decided to go through the fence, there was nothing keeping them on the property.

Everything went fine while Todd was working. He finished on a Wednesday, but Jay and I still had a lot of replacement fencing and electrical work to do before we could move the horses. Then, as you can probably predict, the horses decided they’d had enough. Through the fence and off they went! Let’s run up and down the road! Let’s go visit Donna’s garden and orchard! Let’s run through the mud and play tag with mom!


So Jay — who was home sick with the tail end of the flu –- went down to Donna’s and herded them back to me. I blocked their way up the road, and miracle of miracles, they headed into our property and ran into pasture two. Pasture 2, however, had to have several posts removed and couldn’t be closed. So I stood with ropes and chased them away from the big hole -– slipping and sliding in the mud the whole time –- while Jay worked like the devil to drive the posts and run wire, so we could close them in there.

We managed to get them contained, but nothing had changed. It was clear that they were testing the fence and planning to go through again. So I tossed hay in there to distract them for a while. (Great! Run away and be a general nuisance, and get fed as a reward!) Jay and I realized we had no choice but to do a fast fencing job and get the pastures -– all of them –- hot.

We got started. I walked the perimeter and fixed any issues the deer had caused. Jay drove posts and did clips. We took turns driving the new ground poles he had to have to ground the new electric fence.

And then God shared His delightful sense of humor: It started raining. No, not raining. Pouring. With lightning.

Not like we could call the game on account of rain, so we kept working. I ran lines, and Jay did the electrical work. We started to put water in the pasture the horses were in, but I decided that rather than tempting fate that they would blow out of their perceived-jail again, we would just get everything hot, put the water at the barn, and give them access to the whole horse area. That required cleaning up of posts we had out but hadn’t driven yet and some other potential hazards, but finally, about 2.5 hours after the horses decided to go walk-about, we were done.

Soaked doesn’t begin to cover it. It was 40 degrees outside, and I was wearing a t-shirt, fleece, and sweats. Even my UNDERWEAR was soaked. (How does that happen, exactly?)

I’m able to laugh about it now. Mostly. But at the time I was ready to eat the bloody creatures.


I love my job. I always have to say that, because it just makes me so happy. I love my job, my team, my manager, my projects — everything.

I love what I do, and I love short deadlines, so I volunteered to do take on an extra project in September. Whoa!!! If I’d known what I was volunteering for, I might have rethought that. The overtime was what made the dry lot possible though, so I’m not complaining. My shortest week in September, I logged 60 hours. By the end of the month, I was more than ready for a break.

October has been blessedly low key. My manager has gone above and beyond to keep my workload light so I had a chance to recharge my batteries, and I sooooo much appreciate it. She is the best!!

We’ve brought on a lot of new people recently. That’s mostly good, though I worried about my job there for a while. See, I’m a vendor. I’m *intended* to be a temporary solution. The company has asked me to become a permanent employee, but I can’t do that right now, and that means that there will come a day when I don’t work at this fabulous, wonderful place. That time almost happened this fall, but someone they had intended to bring into our department had to decline at the last minute, leaving me as the only person with some specialized knowledge about one of our lines of business. Right now, unless the economy forces a change — which it could — I think I’m safe until mid 2009.

If it were up to me, I’d stay forever — at least as long as this team is stable. Nothing stays the same, though, so eventually managers will move on or we’ll get reorged, or the economy will change, and they won’t be able to keep me on. I’ll be sad, but I know it’s not personal. That’s just the way of life for a vendor.

The end of Q3 and the first 2/3 of Q4 are a less busy time for our department. This is good, because I’m planning to go down to half time for four weeks, beginning Nov. 15, because…


…I’m getting a puppy! Yayyyyy!!!!

I’d fallen in love with a Newfie bitch owned by Rain’s breeder. This bitch, Rowan, was bred in August, with pups ready to come home in January. Unfortunately, that litter was not to be. X-rays showed she was carrying only one pup — and there was a problem with the placenta.

At the same time we were finding this out, I attended Bob Bailey’s retirement party in Sequim. (Bob is my mentor in animal training.) At his party, I met a Newfie breeder based in the Portland area. Her name is Jenni Lott, and she just happened to have a five week old litter on the ground — her first litter in five years! Hmmm. A Newfie breeder AND a Bob-Bailey-style clicker trainer? What more could I want? Excellent dogs, of course. I checked with Rain’s breeder, and she gave Jenni two thumbs up.

So Jenni and I struck up an e-mail relationship and hit it off. I’ve since been down to her place to visit the pups — three gorgeous black girls. They’re seven weeks old now. Jenni is going to do her conformation evaluations next week and make her final determination on who goes where. Last hurdle is the heart checks at 10 weeks — Nov. 13. If everything is clear, then our new girl comes home Nov. 15. I can’t wait.

No name yet. Not a final one, anyway. Her great grandmother — affectionately called Squiddy — died a couple of days before the pups were born, so Jenni would like the pups named after her. She knows that not everyone will want to name their dog after a slimy sea creature, but I’m going to try. Right now I’m leaning toward “Socorro’s Black Sea Kracken” with a call name of Tennyson — Ten or Ten Ten, for short. But that could change half a dozen times between now and then.

I’ll be blogging alllll about her and her training on the Menagerie page. I’m going to buy a new video camera, so hopefully I’ll have lots to show you.

No curly puppy yet. I really like the litter Dawn Fleming has in whelp right now, but the timing is bad. Also, I’ve been in touch with Gill Wise in New Zealand, and I’m thinking I’d really like to wait until she has the right pup for me. We’ll have to see though. I’m not going to wait forever for a curly pup, even though Jay thinks that four dogs is way too many.

Pax and Aslan will have some adjusting to do when the new baby comes home. I expect I’ll need to carefully manage everyone for a while. I think they’ll both be besotted with her before long though!

I probably shouldn’t post these, since I’m not positive which puppy I’m getting, but I *think* this is Tennyson. If not, it’s one of her siblings. I took the picture last Sunday, when they were six and a half weeks old.

Other random newsy stuff

In general life is going well here at the Alexander household. Jay and I were both sick for much of October. I just had an annoying cold, and since I work from home, it wasn’t that much of a bother.

Life is harder for my dear, dear friend Joene. She lost the love of her life, her husband Garry, unexpectedly in September. They had, a few months before, opened a new salon in Seattle, and his death really throws the business and their finances into turmoil. Please, please include my friend Joene in your prayers. She’s a wonderful person, but she has a very tough road in front of her.

Everything else is, I think, going okay. We’re just working hard and getting ready for the puppy.

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