Alex, dog training, greenhouse

Update on Alex, 9th May

Lessons in the orchard, 7th May 2016

Success! If I never teach Alex anything else, I won’t worry—he will now do the one thing that’s vital here, 365 days a year. He’ll stay quiet outside the greenhouses, while I’m working inside. That doesn’t sound like much, but his first “puppy frenzy” while he was inside a greenhouse with me sent pots, canes and labels everywhere. From that moment, he was banned until he’s old enough to be more sensible.

I shut him outside: he screamed the place down and battered at the door (a cacophony which echoed round the valley horribly at 5am!) until he managed to slide it open wide enough to get his nose in. After that, widening the gap was easy so it was no obstacle. He led down, and pushed his feet against the door to slide it sideways, so I now have to block it.

It took three more visits to the greenhouse for me to teach him that I only take any notice of him when he stays quiet. Feeling like the world’s most hard-hearted dog-owner, on the first occasion I ignored him completely while he howled and warbled.

That time, the racket went on for minutes. When he stopped, I went out and made a fuss of him, and handed over plenty of treats.

On our second visit, the noise only carried on for about thirty seconds.

The third time, he sat down outside the house and eventually fell asleep in the shade. That’s been the pattern ever since, thank goodness.


greenhouse, Winter

Writing From Life

I love this time of year. The weeds have stopped growing, so as long as it doesn’t rain I might stand a chance of making headway with the disaster area my garden has become. There doesn’t seem much hope of that.  After the long hard winter of 2011/2012 and the even longer and harder summer wet year we’ve just endured, the ground is saturated and impossible to work.
Despite the fact the days are short, it’s usually gloomy and all the trees apart from  sombre evergreens have been reduced to skeletons, there’s an air of expectance that I really enjoy.
Pruning the fig and grape vine in the greenhouse gives me a chance to anticipate next year’s fruit. The early strawberries need a period of cold weather to form their flower buds, but it won’t be long before I’m insulating the greenhouse and thinking about starting them and the first seeds into growth.
Fingers crossed I can get the greenhouse heater working again before then!