Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Mullweiler Menagerie

We are acquiring quite the collection of pets!  Today marks 2 weeks having Uli at home. He is the current star of the show as we train and socialize him. Fanny is still trying to come to terms with Uli joining the family but is making great progress. The chickens are making it through their first winter and are all laying eggs regularly.  Things are going really well and we are so grateful and happy to care for this collection of creatures. They each contribute to our lives in their own wonderful ways.  On to the pictures!

Puppies need to chew and bite and chomp almost constantly. We have quite the collection of toys for Uli so that we can keep him engaged and chewing the right things instead of us or our things.

Even with nearly constant supervision and redirection to appropriate chew things, he still tries to sneak in bites on things he knows he shouldn't.  This fringed rug I knit is a very hard to ignore temptation.  It might have to go into storage until he gets a bit older and calmer.

In addition to exploring everything with his mouth, he also has a ton of energy for running and jumping, which also means lots of slipping and sliding on the wood floors.

We saw a lot of progress this second week when it comes to his comfort with being closed into his crate. The soft bed is a big draw!

Uli is also still taking visitors and was happy to snuggle up to Jason and Elise.

And to my mom, too! We really love that he can play hard and then settle down for some mellow, cuddling time.

He has also been going to puppy socialization classes and to puppy playtime sessions in order to make sure he remains friendly to other dogs. The first few minutes of his first class were kind of scary for him.  He moved around the perimeter of the room with his tail between his legs and seemed intimidated by all of the puppies and the new space.  And then, after he had taken it all in for a few minutes, he decided it was all right and he started wrestling and running with the other dogs.  Hooray for socialization!

All that play can make a puppy tired.  Uli's favorite napping spot is on top of this heating vent. This Minnesota dog is not a fan of the cold weather so far. I feel you, Uli.

For the first few days, Fanny hid upstairs.  We don't allow Uli on the 2nd floor yet, so she very much stuck to that safe zone for the first few days. She had her food, water, litterbox and plenty of places to sleep up there.   Even though her basic needs were met, she was peeking around the corner of the stairs and testing out the safety of the 1st floor before too long.  She doesn't like being left out of the action!

She has slowly started to lessen the distance from which she observes Uli and his shenanigans.

He can still be a bit overwhelming to her when he tries to elicit play.  Despite his comical attempts at engaging her through play bowing, growly flips and barking spins, she hasn't taken the bait.

We are optimistic that through a combination of our monitoring and calming of his behavior towards her and her growing confidence, we will be able to find a point where everyone has accepted each other.

And, the chickens!  Winter is boring for chickens. They have a pretty tricked out coop that keeps the temperature at 20 degrees F or warmer, a string of lights that supplements the darkness to provide about 14 hours of light and we open the door to their outside run whenever the temperature is 10 degree F or higher. When they are in the run, they have access to a dust (wood ash) bath, some things to perch on and we give them food scraps, grit and scratch.

They must be happy chickens because they all started laying eggs! And, as I was hoping, Petunia's eggs are blue!

The blue eggs are such a beautiful novelty.  The color of the shell makes no difference when it comes to the egg on the inside, but it makes me happy to have something so special looking.

Nellie and Camilla both lay brown eggs, but I have figured out how to tell them apart.  It helps to be able to know who is laying which egg so I can have a vague sense of the frequency each bird is laying at. Three egg days are not uncommon for us but not an everyday thing.

Nellie's eggs are a bit lighter in color than Camilla's and Camilla's are a bit pointier in shape. I have learned that each bird has a signature shape to their egg based on the shape of their body.  It makes total sense but I never knew that before!

We have been getting enough eggs that we have been able to start giving them away a half dozen at a time. It seems I am not the only one to be thrilled by the blue shells.  The recipients of our eggs have all remarked about the color.

We have also been receiving egg gifts from my Aunt Audrey. She has ducks and chickens and has been sharing her duck eggs with us.  Between her duck eggs and our chicken eggs, it is safe to say that we are rich in eggs!

It has been fun to make new recipes prompted by the need to use up some eggs.  For example, I have been making Mark Bittman's cornbread recipe.

Thus concludes the pet update! is one last puppy shot for the road:

PS "Mullweiler" in the title is a mashup of my last name and Paul's last name.  We decided not to pick which one to use for Uli but instead gave him this fun hybrid for his last name.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ramona Hat in Green

Apparently I like to make repeat projects right now! I guess if you find an awesome pattern, it makes sense that you want to make it more than once (see recent Lamb's Lace Cardi).  I made a Ramona hat two years ago and I love it except for the fact that it is super clashy with my winter coat.  The jewel purple of the hat looks horrible with the dark maroon of my coat.  Since I had another skein of Sheep Shop Yarn Company - Sheep 3 Yarn in my stash (it is sadly discontinued), I made the hat again in this more compatible green color.

I again made the hat a few repeats longer than the pattern calls for since I like it a bit slouchy. In my notes, I said I had done 3 extra repeats.  When I made it this time, I realized that it is only 2 extra repeats long.  I ended up having to rip back a repeat since I trusted my notes over what my eyes were seeing. Oops!

This mixup is a great argument for taking better notes in the future.  I haven't been diligent about recording adjustments I make to a pattern since I rarely repeat a pattern.  That seems to be changing, so maybe I should get in the habit of recording all of those penciled in notes I make as I work through a pattern.

Of course, there are things my notes can't fix, like a gauge that shifts slightly over 2 years.  This hat turned out a bit bigger than my purple one, despite using the same pattern, yarn and needles. Thankfully it still fits fine.

Since I was trying to make an exact replica of the purple version, I also used the channel island cast on again.  It makes for a really tidy and pretty edge.  I find it is well worth the small amount of extra fiddling.

Ravelry Project
Hat Pattern: Ramona Lace Helmet by Lorilee Beltman
Photo credits to Paul

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

He's here!

He's adorable. He's snuggly. He's a little tipsy on his feet and has loads of extra skin.  He's Uli!

The long awaited day finally came! We got to make that drive to Winona one last time to pick up our little pup.  We had been getting pictures from the breeder between when we met him, picked him and when we went to get him for real. With each new set of pictures, I was happy to see him again but was also worried he was getting too big too fast. When we got there on Saturday, we found out pictures are deceiving because he was way smaller than we expected! The collar and tag we brought for him were way too big! We were pleasantly surprised that we will still gets lots of itty, bitty puppy time to treasure before he grows up and is too big for the cradling kind of love.

When we got there to pick him up, we hung around for a while and watched him interact with his siblings and his environment. And, of course, we gawked and laughed at the cute trouble a pack of puppies can get into in a matter of a few seconds.

Like, this broom they dragged over to their pillow to gnaw on.

It seems Uli is not camera shy, nor are his siblings.

Our guy is in the front left of these photos.

Paul and I split the driving time on the way home so we could each have a turn holding our sleeping puppy. That was a great feeling. He wasn't keen on the cold bathroom breaks but gladly soaked up some sunshine for the first time.

After he got home and explored the smells in the house, he was tuckered out. It didn't take long until he figured out his favorite napping spot at home: Paul's lap. Fanny hasn't been too happy about the new addition, but is slowly acclimating to his presence.

Since Saturday, Uli has been busy cycling through a variety of activities.

A large part of his life right now is napping.  So. Many. Naps. It's awesome.

He has been learning how to have a "soft mouth" (not biting too hard).

He has been exploring the main floor of the house, including his crate. Since this photo, we have sweetened the deal with a soft bed and lots of toys to try to make it a more appealing place for him.

He has also had visitors and been on one adventure outside of the house.

His first visitors were our friends Cyrus and Meg, who were in town for a visit.

I took Monday off of work so I could spend time with him.  We went into work for a little bit to say hi to a few coworkers and try out the car without a lap to sit in.  The visit went well but the car ride did not.  We have some work to do there.  The only times we have heard his voice or any stress from him were this car ride and 1 other time when we closed him into his crate when he was awake. It is safe to say that Uli is not yet a fan of confinement.

My sister Jessy and her boyfriend Jeffrey also came over for some puppy playtime and snuggles.

We have also been teaching him his name and to come when called.  The "Uli! Come!" game is one everyone seems to enjoy, especially since it involves affection and food treats for Uli.

We chose Uli as his name because we liked the tie in with his breed (German Shorthaired Pointer) and because Paul and I both have German heritage in our family.  The internet tells us that Uli is a German name that means Noble Leader and we thought that was pretty cool, too.  Most of all we like the way it sounds and how it can be said short and clipped and serious or be drawn out for a playful recall.

Thanks for the picture, Jessy!
We are really excited for Uli's life. From the young, sleepy snuggly times to the athletic, adventurous years to the distinguished, elder dog. We are going to enjoy this ride together!
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