Wednesday, 27 February 2013

For Ally and Barbara...

Photo Fail Moments

Just this week, two friends of mine, Ally and Barbara
were commenting on Facebook about my photo's.
They were saying things about talent and about their and my skills as photographers.

This made me smile...
As we all know, not every picture that gets taken,
can meet the scrutiny of social media!

In fact the largest part do not even get to being saved on my backup hard drive.
 Most end up here..

However, to give you an idea of some of my photo fail moments,
I have a small selection for you guys to:
giggle over,
make snide comments on Facebook over,
you can always say something nasty about the dog,
criticise my photography skills,
or simply LOL!

My chosen victim is Vuk..
I will not write down his kennel name just in case certain individuals want to reflect on his quality..
Now, Vuk is the hardest dog ever to make pictures of.
( It is ALWAYS good policy as a photographer, to start by making excuses;
blame the subject..
you know, things like too fat, too thin, wrong light, wrong camera etc..)
You see, Vuk
 never just poses.
Never, is the operative word here!
In fact, I always have to adjust the shutter speed to accommodate Vuk.
Most times I end up putting him on a chain,
so I know in which general direction to point my camera.
At least I can then find him in my view finder.

 Once I have him in view,
he usually will  present me his fluffy butt

or I get stress signals from him,

or he puts his ears flat and looks like a dork,

if that does not work,
 he will shut his eyes,

give sideways glances.

He never falls for the squeaky sounds trick,
to perk up his ears...

When I try to make great silhouettes with a setting sun,
this is what I get.

Or, he gets that total wind blown look, when making winter shots.

Sometimes things go haywire when I decide to edit..

No, ladies, sometimes you do need a thousand pictures,
rather than the proverbial  one to tell the story!

But, when you do,
you breath a sigh of relief
and know,
 that this one can safely be posted on Facebook!!
Sharmountain Vuk, breeder Ally Chapman.
By the way...
I am still attempting to make a full body,
 photo of this guy.
But, I believe my photographic skills will need a lot more tuning before I get that one...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Photo Friday: The cowboys of Shady Lane..

I have been plagued by a massively painful  throat for a few days now.
I was asked to come out and visit the Shady Lane Hutterite Colony
to take some pictures and write a little story about their calving.

And, this was
 just what I needed...
Nothing nicer than spending a day walking around in the sun,
admiring the cattle,
cuddling the cute calves,
hanging out with friends,
watching good horses work..
Here is a little photo impression..

With the start of calving,
they have had 11 sets of twins and 2 sets of triplets already.

The pick up service..



If you have any questions about what is happening on any of the pictures, feel free to ask..

 Have a great weekend.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Some reading, a movie and a conference...

Here is some interesting reading for about the importance of having predators in ecosystems
and the effect they lack of predators have on climate change..

This is research being done at the University of British Columbia, Canada

As predators decline, carbon emissions rise

University of British Columbia researchers have found that when the animals at the top of the food chain are removed, freshwater ecosystems emit a lot more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
“Predators are disappearing from our ecosystems at alarming rates because of hunting and fishing pressure and because of human induced changes to their habitats,” says Trisha Atwood, a PhD candidate in the Department of Forest and Conservation Sciences in the Faculty of Forestry at UBC.
For their study, published today in the journal Nature Geoscience, Atwood and her colleagues wanted to measure the role predators play in regulating carbon emissions to better understand the consequences of losing these animals.
Predators are bigger animals at the top of the food chain and their diets are comprised of all the smaller animals and plants in the ecosystem, either directly or indirectly. As a result, the number of predators in an ecosystem regulates the numbers of all the plants and animals lower in the food chain. It’s these smaller animals and plants that play a big role in sequestering or emitting carbon.
When Atwood and her colleagues removed all the predators from three controlled freshwater ecosystems, 93 per cent more carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere.
“People play a big role in predator decline and our study shows that this has significant, global implications for climate change and greenhouse gases,” says Atwood.
“We knew that predators shaped ecosystems by affecting the abundance of other plants and animals but now we know that their impact extends all the way down to the biogeochemical level.”

Thanks Sadie for this one!

And, then this is  the WILD THINGS movie trailer ,
this link was sent to me by Jenny.
Thanks Jenny!

And finally, I have been invited to speak in Vancouver  in  September at the
"Living with Wildlife 2013" conference
More about this later.

Friday, 15 February 2013

A little blizzard rolled in..

This week, a little blizzard rolled in and gave us more snow.
Enough to cancel all the school buses.

 The wind caused some major snowdrifts,
so much so, that even the snow grader got stuck.
(Who do you call when the big snow grader gets stuck?..
To the left you can see Roy cutting net wrap off the bales..

These snow drifts could at places, bog the tractor down.
Causing some major headaches getting to and from our hay.
The snow blew halfway into our barn.
The drifts in front of the barn were at places meters high.

Roy is digging out the corner of a fence so that I know where it is and do not drive over it with the tractor, the fence is 90cm high ( almost 28inches).
All the gate ways where drifted closed and Roy and I spent most of the morning
shovelling snow to be able to get into the pastures in order to be able to feed the critters.

Out in the pastures the wind was raging.
It was at times a white out.
 The block dot, is Lucy coming to see what we were doing.

The sheep where completely snowed under.
And, where all hunkered down in the corner of the pasture.

All this snow is giving me some concerns as the snow has now drifted right over parts of the fences.
The sheep and dogs could just walk out now.
I am hoping,
(but then again hope, is not a strategy for success!)
that the dogs and sheep are  not really looking for a way out...

Roy and I fed bales,
it was a challenge.

But, was very much appreciated by the sheep!
Here you can see the sheep heading out to the bales.

The storm started to die down by the time the bales where rolled out.
The skies turned blue and everything looked a lot better,
even the sheep looked less miserable.

Within, a few short hours.
The storm blew away,
 and the day ended with a bright afternoon sun and mild temperatures.

Wishing you all a calm and sunny weekend.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Part 2: feeding frenzy..

Ok, so the bull has now been reduced to slices, blocks and chunks.
These pieces are then piled up outside our barn,
patiently waiting to be fed.

 We never feed all the meat at once,
some days they have kibble,
and then I fast the dogs for a day or two.
I have seen our dogs getting tired of eating meat...
they actually look forward to a kibble day..
Some, of these chunks weigh as much as 10kgs and that is enough to feed a dog for almost a week.

When we load up the sled with meat and head out to the dogs,
they all seem to do a happy dance.
This is maybe the highlight of the day..
that is unless a coyotes decides to hop over the fence,
then the meat becomes a secondary interest,  the coyote has just provided a
"make my day" event.
Unfortunately for the dogs this rarely happens,
as the coyotes are very respectful of our fences and sheep pastures.
so they should be.

Anyway, I generally walk by each dog and hurl a lump of meat to each dog.
I usually say the dogs name and then throw so they know who that piece is intended for.

Each dogs has his own feeding strategy.
Cindy, likes to gnaw on a piece, turning her had sideways to chew on the meat.

Katcha stands with both paws on the meat and uses the rip, slash and tear approach.
She has no manners.

Fena, well she always takes her meat and heads off to the sheep.
She likes to eat her meat surrounded by the sheep.

She will take her time with the meat, look around, nibble a bit, take a nap.
She has never been the "ravenous wolf" kind of dog.
Perhaps, it has also to do with her status,
she is like the matriarch here.
She is mom and grandmother to quiet a few of the dogs here
and this gives her almost "top dog" status.

You see,  dogs who are at the top point of the hierarchy triangle
enjoy the most and best parts of meat,
they can, at any stage decided to take the meat from any of the dogs lower on the hierarchy.
They can eat without fear of having their meat stolen.
That is just how it works in dog society.
Now, when a pup is growing up, it is ingrained into him, very soon how these rules in society work.
The rowdy pup will and always does, attempt to take food from the top dog.
Usually, "the look" is enough to make a pup wither and wilt away.
Sometimes, a small growl
or swift reprimand is needed to back up "the look"
The pups soon learns to back off and be respectful.

Here is a great photo showing Fena giving young gun Vuk
"the look" when he tried to paw some food away from her a few years back.

Now, he is all grown up and is teaching young upstart Hank to be mindful.
Vuk, shares his pasture with Shadow and Hank,
both always defer to the wishes of Vuk.
Shadow, is also learning how to perfect this technique of "the look".
He is way to respectful to even contemplate using it on Vuk,
however he does use the same technique with this bull.

Hey, what you got?
Can I have some to?
"back off, its mine"

Lets just zoom in at this stare down..
Intention is clear...

The bull backs off slightly.
Do you see the minor relaxation in the intensity of the stare on Shadow's part?
 Ever so subtle, he is taking the pressure of the bull..

Watching and rewarding the bull for leaving
Good bull.
And, it worked!

Now, Lucy, she shares a pasture with Fena (top dog) and babe Cindy.
She, just like Shadow,  is kind of in the middle of the dog hierarchy.
 She, however, does not really have this stare down technique mastered.
Her approach  to warn Cindy off is;
not exactly what you would call subtle.

Nor is it polite or in any way diplomatic.
No, she is all for the clarity approach,
be clear, concise and leave no room for doubts.
It works, but is not quite as elegant as using the look.

Lucy, is also a hoarder.

She likes to gather up as many pieces of meat, bones and other edibles together.
Nobody is allowed to approach her stash.
She will spend the whole day chasing off the ravens from her little stockpile if needs be.
(I suppose it is all a bit like the Hunger Games..)

So, you see feeding time is one filled with moments of happiness, dominance, learning and respect.

Well, that kind of wraps up what happens to the dead bulls here.

Next week,
I believe the dogs will be eating moose.

Now, behind this moose is also a little story..
Our neighbours have also been having a "house" moose visiting this winter.
This winter has lots of snow so a lot of animals are battling to find food,
so they come to farms and acreages looking for food such as hay.
Now, "their" moose has been hanging around their place a while.
Sleeping close to the hay bales.
A few days ago she was eating there.
Then she lay down.
And, slept and slept.
Finally, Roeby (our neighbour) went and checked,
and this poor moose had just laid down and died.
After reporting the dead moose to Fish and Wildlife we got permission to butcher it for the dogs..
So, Eric headed over to their place to bring this dearly beloved moose back to us.
And, so the circle of life continues...

"Hey Hank, moose next week!"
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