Saturday, 28 May 2011

Poppy dog - wonder dog

Pops walking through the park to the plot
As I walked into the allotments yesterday morning a small group of children from Fernhurst  first school were going to the Community Plots.  These plots are next to mine.  I gave Pops some water and biscuits and put the kettle on for a mug of tea.  Then I noticed that on the show field there were a huge number of young children playing.  Quiet  meditation was going to be out of the question!

I decided to get on with watering, and planting some squashed and chard plants.  One by one the classes came on to the Community plot and were given a talk about the plants.  The grape vine had clusters of small hard grapes - the children wanted to taste them but their teacher explained how plants need time to grow and ripen.  They then went into the poly tunnels and discovered the ripe strawberries and they were allowed to pick. a few each.  A few picked green ones and were disappointed, but were helped to find ripe fruit.  They tasted spinach, broad beans, saw the frogs in the pond and a variety of  flowers growing.  They saw bees and bugs including ladybirds, butterflies, spiders, and a male and female blackbird caring for their chick..  They then came back to the Geo Pod where there where pots of carrots one by one they came and pulled up a carrot.  Some  were plump some thin.  They all ate their carrots and wondered at the sweet fresh taste.  It was lovely to hear.  They went back onto the show field and then it was the turn of the  next class.

So where does the wonder dog come in.  Well Pops' first owner, loved her but could not cope with her, she is a fox terrier collie cross.  She took here out twice when she was a puppy and then stopped because she pulled.  She began tying her up in the kitchen at first just at night and then 24/7.  She was a wild, hectic and naughty dog when I got her.  Worst of all she had a very high pitched, distinctive bark.

When I first took her to the allotment she barked at birds, people, cars, helicopters, and just barked to be naughty and get attention.  Two "witches" complained about her - saying,

"Smack her on the nose when she barks."
"Hit her with a rolled up newspaper."
Hit her hard that will stop her!
"Control that dog!"

I pointed out the noise from the strimmers, rotivators, and the helicopters flying over head then  I decided to keep quiet.  Dogs have to be on the lead at the allotments, therefore, I put in posts around the plot so that Pops could be near me while I worked.  Which made her feel more secure. However,  even my friends on the allotment would come over to visit and say

" I knew you where here I could hear Poppy."

At home she was quiet with only occasional barking sprees.  I allowed her to bark at pigeons but disapproved of her barking at cats, small, birds, bikes, cars. She did not bark at dustcarts, lorries and buses as she is terrified of them  She was very frightened of  all traffic and scrabbled along the pavement  hugging the fence or wall. Or she would leap across me and howl like a Banshee at the cars.  She is more confident now but is still anxious on busy roads.

Gradually as she became happier and more secure the barking  when we were out has stopped.  When at the plot she still goes on a short barking spree, sometimes because that is what dog do, but often the attention of a nearby human who gives her a fuss and cuddle when they are by the plot.. She loves being tickled on the tummy and will roll over in sheer joy when someone offers to pet her.  She in return will try and place a lick on the persons nose. 

Poppy is very gentle with children and last week a little autistic child came to see her and give her a hug - she was so gentle, he sat down and she just snuggled into him and made him laugh by licking his tummy.  It was lovely to see his joy in her attention and closeness.  She is popular with children and many visit her with my permission to stroke and cuddle her.  Yesterday some of the children from the school also came over for the Poppy cuddle experience - she is so sweet gentle, and funny it  made  them laugh. Her first year was spent seeking approval so now she shows such joy as people take time out to give her a hug.  I heard the children  wondering what kind of dog she was they finally decided that she looks looked like a black fox - Their teacher told them a female fox is called a vixen.  I think that is how the children will remember her.  A black vixen!

 Oh dear I  have digressed - back to why is she a wonder dog?  She did not bark once all the time the scool children where on the next plots and when  86 children and 10 Teachers walked down the side of my plot and then across the front of it on the way back to school. Pops did not bark.  She just stood at the gate to our plot wagging her tail as they trooped past.  

I am very privileged to have her as my dog. She isn't perfect and does have a very naughty streak but she is so full of enthusiasm for life, playful and loyal. I am blessed.
Pops resting after play chasing  with other dogs.  

With blessings
Merry Rambler

Saturday, 14 May 2011

I need a golden reiki shower

The lack of rain is causing me hard work at my allotment as I am sowing seeds and putting in plantlets grown in my greenhouse and cold frame.  I do not water new crops every day as this causes them to develop shallow roots.  I have three water butts that I fill from the hose and then water with the watering can.  I try  to water early in the morning, many say that evening watering is better which allows water to be taken up overnight and then the plants are ready to face the and  sun and wind etc  the following day.  But as I garden organically I do not want to help the slugs and snails, which are active at night, to eat my crops.

When my plants are established I only water once a week giving those plants trees and bushes that need it a good soak.  My broad bean I have rarely watered and they have produced a lovely crop of beans.  I harvested the first ones last Tuesday and have picked some more for the weekend.  The key is that I have dug in organic matter over the winter and I hoe away weeds rather than dig them out during the summer.  Hoeing creates a dust mulch which conserves water.  I am also filling the planting hole or trench with water when transplanting plantlets.

My salad crops are growing really well, and following advice from gardening experts when I sowed my parsnips I sowed radishes in between this has been really successful.  The parsnip seedlings are now emerging underneath the shade of   the radish leaves.  We were enjoy delicious herb, lettuce, giant mustard, radish spring onion and rocket salads when to my horror I was told there was a possible water contamination of the water supply.   This in the worst case scenario could mean digging out plots and replacing the soil.

I phoned the council myself and got no information.  I also phoned the water board.   The community allotments manager informed his manger at the Council. She emailed a higher Manager and on Tuesday this week every tap on the allotment was tested and the water supply is OK. It seems to be a problem in the soil.  One  the cause of the contamination is possibly the mismanagement of the cesspit for the toilets which is only emptied when it is overflowing.  During the winter there was a water pipe burst and also six weeks ago in the gents toilet a pipe broke.  The people who mended the pipe that time reported,  I believe, high levels of E. Coli which may have sunk into the ground.  This information was ignored for weeks.  The water table is extremely low and I think the fear is that it E.Colo might flood onto the low lying plots as the water table rises to a higher level.

There has also been other contamination from the new sewage treatment plant.  There was a leak into the sea  lake that borders some of the plots.   Again it may be a problem because of the low water table.   I do not know the science of it all but I was worried these past two weeks.   But as there are four barrier between my plot and the contamination - a high concrete path which enables wheel chair user to access the community plot,  my lovely willows on the edge of my plot, a blackberry hedge, a stone path  which was to stop the blackberries spreading - they don't know this!  I then have four rows of raspberries.  So all this should prevent contamination and my plot is on higher ground than the contaminated ground.  So we have started eating the salad crops and herbs again - though they do get two or three extra washes just to make sure.

I must admit that I  needed a Reiki shower every day when I got home from my plot.  I have been sending Reiki to the earth and the sea  and for it and all the creatures that live in it to be safe and well.

Just to add to the worry of the week about contamination while I was walking home through the allotments I was swiped by a Car.  Andrew, the anti-social plot holder, was driving his car up the path I was on and rather than wait for me to move safely out of his way he swept by me and hit me with the back of his car.  I stumbled but my Tai Chi training stopped me from falling.  He did not stop.  When I spoke to him about this he said,

"It was your fault pedestrians have to get out of the way of cars."

Ooh did I see red!

Cherry Glow Poppies T&M
But a few more reiki showers sorted out the negative feelings he created in me.  And I am looking forward to a productive week at the plot. I have a packet of free seeds from the magazine Amateur Gardening and so I will be sowing Poppy Cherry Glow seeds  The Poppies grow to 2 to 3 foot high and they are similar to a field poppy but giant size.  I will grow them next to one of my water butts.  I love sowing seeds and get really excited when they start to grow.  I felt like singing and dancing when I saw how many parsnip seeds had come up -  OK I may have done an Irish jig.  Last year I was not very successful growing parsnips.  Any way Poppy dog needs a walk so I need to get ready to go out

With Reiki blessings
The Merry Rambler

Some Stats:

This has been the hottest Spring in the Uk since 1910
We have had,in Hampshire, only 10% of the usual rainfall this Spring