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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lessons Learned

Yesterday was a learning day for me. Well… every day is a learning day, but some days you learn more stuff than on other days.

Lesson #1

I learned that most garden hoses contain lead. Other folks may have known this, but it was news to me. I was watering in the greenhouse with the ancient hose that’s been patched and mended once too often, when it suddenly decided it had had enough and decided to split right at the end. So there I was, holding a watering wand with no hose attached as the force of the water popped the coupling completely off. And there was the hose, writhing on the ground, spewing water all over me and everything else.

Once into dry clothes, I trotted off to the store, bought a hose, and took off the packaging. There, on the underside of the packaging ,in small print, was a warning: "This product contains lead, a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. Do not place your hands in your mouth after handling the product. Do not place the product in your mouth. Wash your hands after touching this product."

Now that is scary! I figure some of that lead has to leach into whatever I'm watering-so much for organic gardening! Since I use the hose to water the greenhouse and garden, fill the little water garden on the deck (which the dog sometimes drinks from), and fill the chickens' water
trough, I don't feel like using a lead-heavy hose. Come to find out, hoses that are made from PVC have lead in them as a stabilizer. But some hoses, according to Consumer's Report, contain lead levels far in excess of EPA standards. This is very disturbing-
and to make matters worse, I might have been leaching lead for years
and not known it! No wonder Sam is so darn ornery- he’s probably gotten more than the recommended amount of lead in his diet/

Lesson #2
The reason some dogs have green eyes instead of red eyes in photos is that the flash brings out all their green-eyed, jealous monsteriness.
Case in point: Jack

Jack is the latest addition to our dysfunctional menagerie. He wandered into our household unexpectedly a year ago. I put his photo up on the Jack Russell Rescue site, but nobody claimed him. Despite some pretty rough going in the early months when we discovered he had severe separation anxiety, could chew his way out of a crate, and would destroy anything within reach when left alone, he’s grown on us and is now a part of our lives.

He and Patches can’t stand each other. We have to take special pains to insure they aren’t both in the same place at the same time- which takes some juggling, believe me. But our efforts have worked so far and Patches is smart enough to avoid being anywhere near Jack.

I was very concerned about what Jack might try with Sam and the girls since Jack Russells view most anything that moves as prey, and are so good at digging under, jumping over and gnawing through, any barrier between them and their goal, whatever that might be at the moment.

Turns out that Jack doesn’t mess with the chickens- he can be in the back yard and not pay any attention to them. He’s even been back there with them a few times when they’ve been out for their evening walk-about and they just avoid each other. There is one caveat though. Jack and I cannot both be out in the back yard with the chickens at the same time. If I’m out there, it’s a whole different situation-- as I learned yesterday.

I let Jack out with me when I went to work in the greenhouse. Now something about the sight of me and Jack together must have gotten Sam upset, because he started crowing. Jack, thinking who knows what, saw that as a threat or a challenge, or something and decided he should take action. He flew off toward the chicken run, barking and yapping, ran around and around it, flung himself against the wire, tried to dig under it. The whole time, Sam was crowing and carrying on, rushing about with his hackles out, making the most god-awful noise. Then the girls got in the act making high-pitched clucking sounds and running around like crazy, too. The more noise they made, the more determined Jack was to get in there with them, barking, yapping, digging. I finally had to turn the hose on Jack and give him a good soaking to get him to stop. Finally got Jack back in the house and Sam and the girls all quieted down. I think Sam and Jack are jealous of each otherand don't like to see me with any other critters. Next time I take a pic of Sam, he’ll probably have green eyes, too!

Here's Jack sans the green eyes- He isn't always a green-eyed monster. Most of the time, he's a pretty smart, playful and lovable little rascal.

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