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Pear Rust & A ‘Judy’ Update

After reading last weeks comments, I realised that a few people out there also have a nice, old fashioned ‘English tea’ similar to the one we had last week, which is nice to know.

This got me thinking about other things I used eat when I was younger and I remembered that on a Sunday my dad would always make a cooked breakfast.  Now this isn’t too unusual, however while he cooked he would feed me and my sisters raw bits of sausage and we would suck on the raw rind of the bacon!!!!….I’m surprised we weren’t really, really poorly.

It’s funny but I can still taste the sausage now and I have to admit it was lovely!   I wonder if anyone else reading my blog today ate raw sausage and raw bacon rind too?….it’s not something that is advised nowadays!

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A ‘Judy’ Update:

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For those of you that don’t know, Judy is our lovely rescue dog that we have had for eleven months now…..unfortunately she came with a lot of problems and we recently found out that we were her fourth owners.  Our first behaviourist suggested we should give her up as she was untrainable and in the wrong environment, but thank goodness we didn’t.

We have been training since the beginning of May with Steven Havers (a different trainer) and the results have really been amazing!  Finally this last week I have started to walk to the park (instead of drive) as she can now tolerate the traffic well (except for the very large lorries).  This is something that used to really make her stressed.

She can also walk with other dogs on the park now and is fine if another dog runs up to her.  But the most amazing thing this week is….I have started to let go of her long training lead when I walk her on the park, so I am not holding her (this way I can pick it up if she strays too far, though her  ‘recall’ is much better now too).

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So things are going very well with Judy and other dog walkers are now commenting on how well she is doing……one particular lady who has seen me walking Judy from the beginning spoke to me this week and said how well she was doing and said to me that “I have given Judy her life back”…… and I couldn’t stop smiling for the rest of the day as it made me feel so proud!

She still gets anxious if there are lots of people around and dogs on leads are sometimes still a problem, but I will keep working on this.

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I am so glad we didn’t give Judy up as we all absolutely adore her.

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This week in the garden:

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This week I noticed that my Cosmos has finally started to flower properly and it looks beautiful together with the orange berries of the pyracantha that the birds love to eat:

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The grass on my newly laid lawn is rooting well and as it was growing well, I ran the lawn mower over it, on its highest blade setting.  I will leave the grass a couple more weeks before removing my ‘make shift’ fence from around it, so we can walk on it properly:

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This week I decided to cut back the Viburnum tinus that was casting far too much shade over my one raised bed.  I planted the Viburnum when we first moved into the house thirteen years ago and I didn’t really want to cut the whole plant down, so I took away some of it as a compromise….hopefully this will make a big difference to the light in this area:

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In the end I removed a ‘car load’ of branches (which we took to the tip the next morning), but by the time we had filled the car the moon was shinning!  This really made me realise that the nights are drawing in quickly now autumn is here:

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This week I planted some spring cabbages in my kitchen garden after raking some blood, fish and bone into the soil.  I made some cabbage collars to avoid the cabbage root fly, as the odd one may still be laying eggs at this time of year and I then used my usual method of using canes and bottles to support a net over the cabbages, so the birds don’t eat them:

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I also planted some more lettuces which will hopefully last until the really harsh weather of winter comes our way.  As the nights are getting colder, I decided to cover them with a cloche to give them a bit of protection:

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Unfortunately this week I noticed a problem with the pear trees that I planted this year… They have ‘Pear rust’ which is a fungus that unfortunately spreads long distances between pear trees and junipers, which I can’t do anything about.  Therefore all I can do is remove the infected leaves on my trees and hopefully, if it doesn’t become too bad, it won’t reduce future harvests too much.

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You can read all about pear rust on the RHS website here.

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This week I thinned out my tray of over wintering onions…..again I used scissors to cut off the ones I didn’t want, to stop any root damage to the remaining onions.  I will wait a couple of weeks now before I  plant them in the ground:

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This week I also dug up the last of my ‘Desiree’ potatoes.  I left them out to dry for a couple of hours and then placed them in a sack to store them in a cool, dark place until required.  It seemed strange only having one sack of potatoes as I usually have lots of them to store, but at least this year I only had a few to dig up:

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I have also put the garlic that I grew, in a cool dark place to store.  I didn’t think the garlic looked very big but when I separated a bulb the cloves seemed a decent size, so I was very pleased with it in the end:

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I am STILL waiting for the sweetcorn to ripen, however the ‘Moneymaker’ tomatoes that I planted outside are finally turning red…..I am praying that we don’t have an early frost….I am watching the weather forecast very, very closely.

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This week in the home:

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I am still picking autumn raspberries and a few blueberries from my kitchen garden and my daughter stuffed as many as possible (together with fruit from my freezer) into the pancake that I made her this week:

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Also this week I made a couple of plum cakes (one for us and one for my gardening forum):

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Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the cakes after I cooked them, but this is how they look when cooked:

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Unfortunately we have now finished eating my homegrown onions for this year, all except the last few really small ones……

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I hate using the really small ones when I cook dinner as they are so fiddly when I’m in a rush, so I decided to pickle the last few instead:

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And finally this week I topped my wine up with cooled, boiled water and it is bubbling away nicely…..I can’t wait to try some soon!

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So unfortunately that’s it for this week.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog today.

I will be back next week as usual.

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Have a good week!

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A Judy Update & A Kind Visit

I just wanted to say a big ‘thank you’ to an allotment friend that popped round last weekend with some of her produce.  I do miss my old allotment companions and so it was lovely to catch up with her and the goodies she left me were very welcome:

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Judy (our rescue dog) – an update:

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Judy is continuing to do well in her training classes and we are working hard on ‘recall’ with her at the moment.  At home she is lovely now and we all absolutely adore her cheeky ‘Jack Russell’ ways.

Last weekend we took Judy to the vets for her yearly vaccination and the vet was wonderful with Judy as he knew she was a nervous dog.  When he went to update the vaccination card that the RSPCA had given to us with all her previous vaccines on, he pointed out to us that the card shows that poor Judy had been in the RSPCA three times!  He showed us the three vaccinations they have given her and he explained that the RSPCA only give them when they enter their kennels.

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We hadn’t really studied the card before, but we realised that you can also see three different name and address stickers underneath ours……so we are the fourth owners!  From the dates on the card we can see that Judy was in the RSPCA at four months, again twelve months later and then again two and a half years later……thank goodness we found her when we did.

This explains everything to us, as she was bound to have lots of problems after the upbringing she has had.  I don’t know if the RSPCA have a policy of not telling people the dogs background or whether they hadn’t checked her history, but it would have been nice to know.

We will never know what our poor dog has been through but we do suspect that she was hit at some stage, as she used to cower if you went to stroke her unexpectly and she hated walking sticks, litter pickers etc. and she had nightmares over and over again where she would wimper and move her legs like she was trying to run.   This is improving as she is starting to trust us, especially with the training as well…..and she rarely has a bad dream now.

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  I know now that I certainly wasn’t experienced enough to deal with a dog with problems like Judy and I’m not sure if the RSPCA knew this or not…..She could quite easily have ended up back there if it wasn’t for the fact that I was so stubborn and determind to find a way to train her.

I have had to learn such a lot in a short period but I am glad to say Judy is now responding to the training and other dog walkers now comment on how much she has improved, which is wonderful.

The hard work is starting to pay off and I couldn’t imagine life without her now as she is always by my side.

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This week in my garden:

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This week I sowed some lettuce, summer radish and winter radish.

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I also planted some lettuce plants that I bought from a local nursery.  I may have to put a cloche over them if the nights turn cold in September, but they should be fine:

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In the meantime I needed to protect the lettuces from the birds so I used some enviromesh as my nets aren’t quite wide enough for this bed:

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I also sowed some carrots in my greenhouse (it says the latest sowing should be July on the packet, but as I think they will be fine as they are in the greenhouse)

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As it is now the middle of August, I decided to give my outdoor tomatoes a bit of help to ripen…..so I removed a few of the lower leaves so the sun can ripen the tomatoes easily:

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The outdoor tomatoes are doing really well this year, but unfortunately I can’t say the same for my greenhouse tomatoes.  I have been battling with whitefly in my greenhouse all summer and now four of my plants have finally started to die off, maybe from a virus transferred by the aphids?

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I picked the tomatoes and then I have removed the plants and destroyed them.  A lot of them were ripe and ready to eat, but I’m sure the green ones will still ripen (though some will be small), so I have put them in my mini greenhouse as I don’t want to waste anything:

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I noticed in my garden this week that the ’60 day’ raab and the phacelia (green manure) that I sowed last week has already germinated……I suspect that is because we have had quite a bit of rain this last week:

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This week I have had our first spinach harvest and it tasted lovely fried in a bit of butter…

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I dug up the last of my second early potatoes (marfona):

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And I have continued to harvest runnerbeans…..

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….and spring onions, lettuce, chives, kohl rabi, outdoor tomatoes and the odd cucumber.  We have had some lovely salads:

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At home this week:

I made some pickled red cabbage this week from some of the cabbage I picked last week:

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I made some pickled onions from the spring onions I picked last week that were going over slightly:

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And I have continued to freeze the runnerbeans that we haven’t cooked and eaten straight away:

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I also cooked the beetroot that my friend gave to me and sliced it and froze it.  This way I can take a few slices out of the freezer at a time, for my daughter who doesn’t like beetroot that has been pickled in vinegar.

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I also went blackberry picking this week and managed to find quite a few to freeze.  These will be used for pies and crumbles, but mostly for ‘smoothies’ which my daughters love:

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Finally this week I did my usual batch bread baking session.  I made white and wholemeal rolls and a loaf of bread to slice.  Most of these will be frozen to eat over the week as usual.

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So over all it has been a very productive week!

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Thank you for reading my blog today, I will be back next Friday as usual.

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

A Holiday, Mildew & Blackfly Results

Last week we went on holiday, however before we went I had a few jobs to do in the garden:

I started by tying up my tomatoes once again and ‘nipping’ off the side shoots and then I picked the rest of my climbing peas and froze them.  These are a variety called ‘Peashooter’ which I have been growing for years now.  I always grow them from seeds I have saved, but I still have hundreds of left over seeds from last year so I don’t need to save any this year.

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In the past when I had loads of room at my allotment, I would leave the climbing peas until I had time to remove them and then I would simply chop the stalks and leave the roots in the ground to rot over winter as the root nodules add nitrogen into the soil ready for the next crop.

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Unfortunately, space is an issue now and I needed to get another crop into the ground so I pulled up the peas and the broadbeans that were in front of them and added the whole plants (roots and all) into my compost bin.  This way the nitrogen will still be added to my soil when I spread the compost when it is ready:

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After adding some blood, fish and bone to the soil I then planted some lettuce and perpetual spinach that I had grown from seed.  I was worried that the slugs would eat them as they were so small, so I covered them with plastic bottles while we were away:

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I also set up my watering system so all the plants that I have in pots get a daily watering.  Unfortunately I don’t have anyone that I can ask to water my plants so this way I can go away without my plants dying.  I have been using this watering system for a few years now and it works well, though it does take quite some time to set up each year, as I have so many pots to water:

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Our Holiday:

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We went to Scarborough again for seven nights as we love it there.  We booked the holiday last year (before we decided to get a dog) and got a bargain family room with breakfast, in a Travelodge for just £363.65.  When we got there we paid an extra £20 for our dog too.

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I don’t know if you remember, we went to Scarborough in February as well for three nights and it was horrendous with Judy, (our rescue dog) as she was awful with other dogs and we were like ‘ninja’s’ running in and out of the travelodge trying to avoid dogs to stop her reacting.  Even on the beach she was a nightmare going mad, barking and lungeing even if she heard a dog barking at the other end of the beach!….I think this was our lowest moment with Judy.

So after just eleven weeks of training with ‘Havers Dog Behaviours’ we decided to go to Scarborough again on another prebooked holiday…..we felt it couldn’t possibly be any worse than our February holiday after all.

I am very happy to tell you that it was so very different and we had a fantastic time.  She still reacts to some dogs on leads, but she is fine with nearly all dogs that approach her off-lead now and I even had the confidence to take her muzzle off after the first day (which is something I have been doing in our training classes).  Judy even made friends with the local dogs on the beach which was amazing:

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She still gets a bit anxious when there are lots of people about, so we walked her when the sea was out so there was more space.

  One day we walked over a small hill right at the other end of the beach and found a beautiful area, that only the locals seemed to know about.  There were beautiful wild flowers growing on the hill:

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Over the other side of the hill we found a small bay with lots of rock pools too.  It really was beautiful:

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We met a man who was collecting crabs and he explained that he catches the ones that are just about to break out of their old shells and uses them for fishing (apparently they are easier to get out of their shells when they are at this stage):

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We also spent a couple of days visiting a beach in Fraisethorpe, near Bridlington.  It is a very large, quiet beach so we took our chairs and windbreak there and had a lovely time, paddling in the sea and walking with Judy:

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What was unusual about this beach was there were some concrete boxes in the sand that I understand were once millatary ‘look-out’ posts that stood on the cliff side…..as time has past the cliffs have erroded and the concrete boxes have fallen into the sea:

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I also noticed the small cliffs also had holes in them which apparently are used by Sand Martins to nest in:

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The beach was beautiful and what was even nicer was there were no amusemnets, fish and chips or ‘tack’ shops around…..It really was the Yorkshire coast at it’s best and I would love to go back there one day.

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Back home:

When we came home everything was ok in my garden, except my courgette plant had developed ‘mildew’ on it’s leaves:

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(Mildrew is a white powdery fungus that is found on the leaves.  You can read about it here on the RHS website).

I removed the affected leaves and gave the soil a really good watering.  I suspect my watering system should have been on a little bit longer each day, but I’m sure it will be ok (dry soil can cause mildrew).

The other courgette plant I had was fine and incidentally the black fly was nearly all gone after using the black fly brew a couple of times before we went on holiday.  So I think the black fly brew was a success!

(You can read about the black fly brew here).

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I then found that the cucumbers in my greenhouse had developed whitefly, so I decided to try the spray out on these too…..I have every faith that the spray will work, though it took my breath away spraying inside the greenhouse as it stinks!

I will let you know the results.

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I also came home to a few tomatoes, courgettes and a our first blueberries of the year:

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After a few days home I had a big sort out of my freezers to see what I food I have left in them and I found some sweetcorn that needed to be eaten:

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And believe it or not I found some grated courgette from last year, ready to make Cheesy, Courgette Scones….so I made a batch, much to Mr Thift’s delight:

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The scones are a great way of using up excess courgettes and as I have proved, the grated courgette lasts months in the freezer without even blanching it.

You can find the recipe here:

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Back home in our garden

Back home in our garden

Well that’s enough for now.  I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog this week.

I will be back again next Friday as usual.

A Tour Of My Kitchen Garden & A Bradgate Park Dog Walk

Last weekend we took part in a ‘Bradgate Park dog walk’ with Judy our rescue dog.  This is what their website says about the walk:

“A chance for you and your dog to get out for a walk at Bradgate Park in the company of one of our Rangers who will talk about the history and wildlife of the Park while dog behaviourist Steven Havers gives tips on how to ensure that a walk in the park is a positive experience for you, your dog and any other people and animals you may meet.”

I have got to be honest and say the only reason we went was because Steven Havers is our dog trainer and I feel confident when he is around.  The last time we attempted to walk Judy on our own in Bradgate Park a few months ago, we ended up hiding up a hill behind trees as Judy reacted so much to each and every dog, regardless of how far away they were!…….but not this time.

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At the start of the walk she barked a bit as there were lots of dogs, but after a few minutes she behaved really well and took time out to relax and have a lie down….I was so proud of her!

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Bradgate park is beautiful and the views from ‘Old John’ are spectacular as it stands on Bradgate’s tallest hill and Leicestershire’s second highest point – some 690 feet above sea level:

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Old John:

This Folly or Prospect Tower was built in 1784 by the 5th Earl of Stamford. The circular stone tower replaced a former wooden windmill (which had been made unsafe in an earlier storm).

On the 31st October 1786 a huge open-air fire was built on the Hill by the 5th Earl of Stamford to mark the coming of age of his son, George Harry.  Legend has it that a bonfire timber burnt through, falling amongst the guests and accidentally killing an old retainer of the Bradgate Estate called John.

After the accident, the 5th Earl is reputed to have decreed that the Tower be named in affectionate memory of “Old John”. It is said that the stonework at the side of the Tower was altered so it looked like a handle – perhaps knowing the old man’s liking of ale, it was deliberately modelled to give the Tower its familiar beer tankard shape of today”

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You can read more about Old John here if you are interested.

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This week in my kitchen garden:

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This week I planted some Cosmos just behind the new wire fence that I put up last week.  Hopefully they will grow and look pretty later in the season and because they are behind the wire fence my daft dog won’t be able to destroy them.  Again I planted them through the weed suppressant:

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I also had four spare tomato plants which I planted in this area as well.

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As I said last week, I’m not sure how well these plants will grow as I haven’t prepared the soil in this area at all….I just dug a small hole for each plant and used a small amount of blood, fish and bone and filled the hole with compost…..it will be interesting to see the results!

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I also decided to give my old garden chair a face lift by buying a new piece of wood for it and giving it a new coat of paint.  It does need a second coat but it certainly looks better already:

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My new kitchen garden:

Considering it is the first year of the garden, it is doing really well.  I thought today I would give you a tour:

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In the photo above you can see the whole kitchen garden with the new area in front that I created last week.

The new front area has mangetout, dwarf peas, a bag with potatoes growing in it, strawberries, sweetcorn and four tomato plants:

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In my onion and root beds I have onions, garlic, parsley, parsnips, spring onions, beetrrot, radish and lettuce.  The lettuce will shortly be replaced with leeks:

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I have two beds with potatoes in – ‘Marfona’ a second early and ‘Desiree’ a late main crop potato:

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In my legumes beds I have broad beans, french beans, runner beans, climbing peas and lolla rossa lettuces:

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And in my brassica beds I have cabbages, curly kale, swedes, kohl rabi, outdoor cucumbers and two butternut squashes that will hopefully grow up my washing line post:

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At the back of my plot I have herbs in pots and fruit trees (apple and pears) and I have autumn raspberries along the side fence:

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On the shady side of the garden I have rhubarb, comfrey and jerusalem artichokes.

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And at the front I have blueberries, red and black currants and a gooseberry bush too:

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In my greenhouse I have cucumbers, tomatoes, radish, peppers, basil and two melons:

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And elsewhere in the garden I have courgettes, patty pans, outdoor tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, corriander and two dwarf plum trees…..

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….and as usual I have squeezed as many flowers in as possible to attract bees and other beneficial insects to my plot:

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I’m sure I have missed one or two things, but never mind I’ll write about them another time when I remember them.

So I am hoping over the next few weeks I will get some lovely crops, but for the moment we are enjoying some delicious salads:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back on Friday at my usual time.

Have a good weekend!

Our Rescue Dog Judy & A Paint Job

My blog is a little bit longer than normal this week …. I hope this is ok with you.

A Bit Of Good News:

A lot of people have been asking about Judy, the rescue dog we brought home in October.

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Her first day home looking very thin!

I have written about her a few times, but for those who don’t know, it was clear from the start that she had a lot of problems and by December she had bitten a dog and we had to contact a behaviourist for help.  We tried training her with treats, clicker training etc. and she had a ‘kalm aid’ in her food and a pheromone diffuser plugged in the house all day long.

We were beginning to think we were getting somewhere and then the next day for no apparent reason she would go backwards again and we were no further forward.  I have shed a lot of tears over this dog and I have been shouted out so many times for not controlling her (even though she was always muzzled and on a lead).

By February our behaviourist suggested we should think about re-homing her as she felt she was in the wrong environment.  However, as a last attempt to help her we decided to take her to the vets for tablets to calm her down, which did help her a lot in the home, but outside she still couldn’t tolerate cars, lorries, bikes, dogs, birds, men in dark clothes or hats etc. etc.

I have got to admit at this stage we found ourselves thinking that we couldn’t do anything to help her and we were devastated.

A 'cheeky girl' found cuddling my daughters teddies

A ‘cheeky girl’ found cuddling my daughters teddies

Then six weeks ago, a wonderful person called ‘Michelle’ from my gardening forum, emailed me to say she had just listened to ‘Steven Havers’ on Radio Leicester and he was a dog trainer / behaviourist and sounded really good.  I rang him and he visited on the 27th April.

I have been taking Judy to his classes each week since and in just five weeks, Judy will now walk along side other dogs on her extendable lead without reacting.  Mr Thrift counted twenty two dogs surrounding her a couple of weeks ago in his class and she wasn’t barking, lunging or taking any notice of them!…It is absolutely incredible to watch.

Previously in the home we had also blocked all our windows with a plastic ‘film’ to give a frosted effect so she couldn’t see out and bark at everything she saw…..this week we have also managed to remove the film and she really doesn’t bark too much at all.

We still have a long way to go, as she isn’t so good on the short lead yet and though she is better with cars she still doesn’t like the lorries and motor bikes and next doors dog is still a big problem for Judy, but we have come an awful long way in a short time.

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 We are very pleased with her progress and I’ve got to say Steven Havers training is brilliant….it is obvious that he has so much experience with dogs and right from the start he said that Judy wanted to learn.  He concentrates on training the ‘owner’ rather than the dog and he uses praise to reward the dog and not food treats.

Hopefully very soon we can also try and wean her off the tablets that the vet gives her.

So thank you Steven for your continued training and advice and thank you ‘Michelle’ for emailing me with his details.

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A Walk In The Park:

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Last Sunday I woke early and took Judy for a walk in Western Park at 6.45am.

The sun was shinning, there was no one around and it was so peaceful.  I felt like I had discovered a place that no one else knew about, it was absolutely magical.  I have never heard the birds sing this beautifully before.

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“In the 19th Century ‘Leicester Corporation’ purchased the land for £30,000 to create a park for the people of the ‘West End’ of Leicester and it is one of the largest parks in the City covering 73 hectares.  The park was opened in 1899”.

Leicester City Council work hard maintaining this park and they have recently put lots of signs around giving interesting information about the wildlife here:

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I have lived in this area for nearly twenty years now and it is only since October (when I have been walking Judy) that I have realised how beautiful the park is and how lucky we are to have it on our door step.

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There is also a 400 year old Oak tree in the park, that is nick named the ‘Old Major’.  I have walked past this tree many times without really taking much notice…..but when I stopped and actually took the time to look at it, it is absolutely magnificient.  My photograph below doesn’t really do the tree justice:

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There are so many beautiful places around me that I have walked past without noticing or never bothered to go and see.  I feel it is time for me to take more notice of the things that are right under my nose and I will write about them as I do.

“What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare”.

William Henry Davis

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This week in my garden:

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I started by thinning out my kohl rabi and my beetroot.  I used a pair of scissors to just ‘snip off’ the unwanted plants:

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My wall flowers had finally finished flowering, so I dug them up and planted the dwarf peas I was growing in guttering.  They were a bit ‘leggy’ but I’m sure they will be fine.  I am trying to plant in every area possible, so I thought the peas would grow nicely using the chicken wire fence as a support.  All I need to do now is stop Judy from destroying them!

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This week I also planted my french beans and some more lettuces:

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….And gave the area under my bay tree a bit of a tiny up:

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In my home this week:

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At the beginning of the week Mr Thrift was poorly with a viral infection.  When he started to feel a little bit better, I made him a vegetable soup to get him to start eating again.

I had an ’emergency’ bag of mixed vegetables in my freezer that I used and I’m glad to say Mr Thrift enjoyed it.

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(You can find the recipe for the soup here.  I didn’t use all the vegetables in the recipe, I just used the pack of frozen vegetables together with potato and onions).

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In the home this week I also made a big batch of pasta sauce to freeze.  I love the days when I can take something out of my freezer, defrost it and then just reheat it in the microwave and add it to pasta.

This recipe also doubles up as a pizza sauce too.

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I had also ran out of my dishwasher liquid, so I made some more.  I make it with ‘soup nuts’ and it saves me a lot of money in the long run.

You can find the recipe here.

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As you have probably guessed, I struggle to sit still and I like to keep myself busy….On Sunday I mentioned to Mr Thrift that our bathroom looked awful.  I gave it a lick of paint when we first moved into our house thirteen years ago and it hasn’t really been touched since then. The plan has always been to have a new bathroom suit as the bath, sink and tiles are really old and have seen better days, but we certainly can’t afford this for a very long time.

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Over the years our window blind had also become discoloured in places too:

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…..So on Monday I decided to spruce it up a little by giving it a lick of paint….it actually took two coats in the end, but I was very pleased with the result.

I put up a new blind and changed the light and shower cords, so they looked fresh and new.

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After I put the shelves back up I gave all the families toiletries a good sort out and put them back neatly.

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I then put our shower curtains back up….unfortunately we have to use the curtains to stop any water from going down the side of the bath.  We have tried numerous times to seal between the tiles and the bath, but unfortunately it never works as the bath is slightly too far away from the wall!…so we have resorted in lining the shower area with two large shower curtains.  Unfortunately this area doesn’t look good, so I cover it with a ‘nicer’ shower curtain on the outside of the bath:

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Incidentally, you can see in the photo above my handwash.  This is a Marks and Spencer ‘luxury’ hand wash bottle that I refill each time with cheap ‘value’ bubblebath…..no one ever knows and it saves me buying expensive handwash.

So overall, I am very pleased with our bath room.  It still needs ‘gutting’ in the future, but until then it doesn’t look quite as bad:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

Have a good weekend!

My Problem Dog & My New Kitchen Garden….

Unfortunately things aren’t going too well with our lovely rescue dog, Judy.

For those that don’t know, we brought her home from the RSPCA in October and it was evident after a few weeks that she was a very anxious dog.  By December she was so frightened of other dogs sniffing around her that she actually bit a dog….I was mortified at the time.

We then contacted a behaviourist who has been working with me since December and after six weeks of training Judy, she was ‘tolerating’ other dogs a lot better…..until a couple of weeks ago two separate dogs within two days would not leave Judy alone and eventually she reacted badly to them (thank goodness she was wearing a muzzle).  On both occaisions their owners ‘ambled’ slowly across to me oblivious that their dogs were causing Judy a problem (even though I had shouted across to them to ask them to call their dogs away).

Judy on one of the rare occaisions she stands still in the garden

Judy on one of the rare occaisions she stands still in the garden

So we are now back to square one and Judy cannot tolerate any dogs again.  So I have been walking her at quiet times around the streets instead of the park to bring her stress levels down, however this has had a knock on effect….poor Judy has been getting more and more stressed with the buses, lorries, motorbikes, people with hats on, or people with walking sticks, prams, etc.

On Monday she even got upset at some new road works on a quiet side street and just would not walk past them and I nearly had to ring Mr Thrift to come out of work to pick us up in the car and take us home!

At home she is now continually pacing around our kitchen table during the day and running up and down the garden over and over again, without stopping.  In fact the only time she settles is when I hold her next to me, or in the evening when our curtains are tightly closed and everywhere is quiet.

So I emailed our behaviourist and she suggested we gave medication a try from the vets….so this is what we have done.

I feel that I have tried so hard to train her without success and I have used plug in diffusers, collars and things to calm her in her food and nothing is now working.  It really isn’t fair on her to live this way, so I feel this is now the only option.  I am hoping that the tablets are just for the short term and the vet hopes this too, but the vet also said that some dogs do need to take them long term….let’s hope not.

The medication can take upto two months to fully work, so I will let you know if things improve.

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In between my problems with Judy this week, I have been working hard to finish freezing the crops I brought home from my allotment before I gave the plots up.

I have now frozen my celeriac, brussells and some of my parsnips:

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I do still have quite a few parsnips left to freeze though, but I will do them in the next few days:

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My New Kitchen Garden

In my new kitchen garden I have been making a new path to follow my washing line.  I know some of you may think this is strange, but I do like to hang my washing out even in winter, as it saves money when I don’t use the tumble dryer and I think things seem so much fresher when they have dried in the wind.

I started by using a couple of the weed suppressant paths that I made for my allotment last year (you can read how I made them here).  I then used bundles of ‘hazel’ tied together with wire, to line the path.  This is hazel that I grew at my allotment and brought it home when I knew I was giving the allotment plots up.

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I then finished it with wood chip that I had also salvaged from my allotment, though I am yet to finish the end of the path nearest the fence, as I am not sure if I want to go all the way down to it yet as I haven’t finished planning the garden.

  I am pleased with how it looks so far:

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I have also been replanting the fruit bushes and autumn raspberries that I brought back from the allotment.  When I first brought them home I just ‘heeled’ them in as I hadn’t prepared the ground at that stage:

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I have now planted the fruit bushes and the raspberries, making sure I prepared the ground first by removing any weeds and adding a lot of compost to it.

I have lined our wire fence with the raspberries and our other ‘chicken wire’ fence with the two blackcurrant bushes, a white currant bush and a gooseberry plant.  These were fruit bushes that I only bought from a nursery in September, so I didn’t feel guilty about bringing them home from my allotment and I also have left plenty of autumn raspberries at my plot for whoever takes over.

I have also laid a couple more weed suppressant paths so I can get to pick the fruit (eventually) without treading on the soil:

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So my kitchen garden is beginning to take shape…..it looks a lot different from the ‘before’ photo on the left:

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I have also decided to put the big metal pots that I also brought back from the allotment, outside our back door.  I will fill them when I get around to it, though for the moment I have now stuffed them with some of the nets I also brought back.  I’m not sure what I will be planting in them yet….I must finish planning my new garden!

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Last weekend I managed to finally buy some seed potatoes.  It was very, very strange just buying a few instead of the big bag I usually buy each January for my allotment.

I chose a few ‘marfona’ seed potatoes (a 2nd early which I particularly like) and some ‘desiree’ potatoes (which are a reliable red skinned main crop variety).

They are all chitting nicely in our bedroom as this is the coolest room in the house, next to my remaining butternut squashes……how romantic we are!

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Yesterday I finally got around to sowing my leeks and broad beans.  I should really have done this last month, but I’m sure they will catch up.  The leeks are a variety called ‘Lyon 2’, which I haven’t tried before (I got the seeds cheap in the autumn) and the broad beans are an overwintering variety called ‘Aquadulce’ that should really be sown by the end of January.

I have sown plenty of seeds so I can take a few plants to my mother-in-law this year, for her garden.

The seed trays are sitting nicely in my cold greenhouse now:

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To finish off with, it was my eldest daughters seventeenth birthday yesterday (where does time go to).  She asked for a ‘chocolate indulgient cake’ i.e. a cake with her favourite chocolate sweets on.

I baked a three layer cake using my usual ‘throw it all in‘ recipe and covered it with a chocolate buttercream frosting and used kit kat sticks, maltesers and chocolate orange to decorate it.  I think a little imagination goes a long way….and she seemed to really like it:

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Anyway, that’s enough for this week.  Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back as normal next Friday.

Have a lovely weekend!

Problems With Our Rescue Dog Judy

It seems a long time since I last wrote my blog and I am glad to be back.

Unfortunately Christmas didn’t go as planned, as my daughters were both really poorly with a horrible sickness bug and we didn’t have our Christmas dinner until New Years day.  But I suppose this gave us the chance to rest and not rush around as we normally do over the Christmas period.

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Unfortunately 2014 wasn’t kind to us and it certainly had some very low moments, especially when my father-in-law passed away in July.  We also now have some family problems which I really cannot talk about on my blog at the moment, but we are a strong family and we are dealing with them.

The strain of the last two or three years has started to show on the ‘thrift’ household and myself and Mr Thrift have been forced into making some painful decisions, which I will talk about when the time is right.  For now, I will only say that we are in the planning stage, but however painful the changes are going to be for me, they are necessary and I know that as one door closes another one opens.  I also know that it is the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings….so whatever we decide, I will embrace it.

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(PLEASE NOTE THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE I WROTE THIS BLOG POST AND THE METHODS I WAS USING WITH THIS BEHAVIOURIST JUST DIDN’T WORK FOR JUDY).

Today I want to talk about one of the problems we have been having……Judy, our four year old rescue dog.

This is the photo that was displayed on the RSPCA website

This is the photo that was displayed on the RSPCA website before we brought her home.

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Some of you will remember I wrote about Judy in October when we first brought her home.  The RSPCA said she was a ‘little bit’ nervous and worried and could live with a male dog.

I grew up with a dog and looked after my sister’s dog on various occaisions over the years and I considered myself experienced around dogs…….I now know I knew nothing about dog behaviour and I have had to learn the hard way.

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Judy was very thin when she came to us and the RSPCA had said she had been quite sick when she first came to them.  I know now that this was due to anxiety, as she is far more than just a ‘little bit’ nervous and worried.  I also know that there is no way she could ever live with another dog, but the RSPCA had no way of knowing this.

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Judy is a very, very loving dog and everyone that meets her at home adores her.  However we noticed after the first week at home that she started to bark madly at the television if there was a dog on it and this got worse and worse until she would bark at dogs, cartoons, and even woman with ‘big’ hair.  She also barked madly at the washing machine, the hoover (even biting the attachment agressively) and then she began barking uncontrollably at every little sound she heard at home.

Training at home was good though, as very soon I had managed to get Judy to ‘sit’, ‘wait’ and even ‘roll over’, so I knew she could be trained.  From day one I discovered she didn’t know how to ‘play’ (which I found very sad) and I began trying to teach her.

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  But outside the home by week three or four she was barking at people with hats on and a poor man with a balaclava on got barked at everyday when he passed us.  She had also started to react badly to any dogs on leads when I walked her and then lunging and barking at any dogs that came near her to play on the park, until on the 6th of December she actually bit a dog and hurt it…..I was mortified.  The other dog owner was lovely about it, but I was so upset I raced upto the RSPCA to ask for advice.   Unfortunately they sold me a muzzle which I put on her straight away (which she hated) when I went out and they advised me to feed her treats when she reacted to dogs -but she wouldn’t take them at all.

I read whatever I could to help with Judy, but nothing seemed to work with her outside the house.

The final straw was a lady  (I use this term loosely) with a pram and the most perfect dog, shouting at me on two separate occaisions, saying that my dog was out of control (even though she was on a lead and muzzled both times).   I felt really upset as I knew that I was struggling with Judy, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give up on her, though I knew others would have in my situation.

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I contacted the RSPCA and the Dogs trust in desperation for help and the Dogs trust gave me a couple of associations that could point me in the right direction for a good dog behavourist.

The behaviourist spent two hours with me and explained to me that it was very likely that Judy had long standing issues with other dogs but her behaviour was inhibited at the beginning by her nervousness with the trauma of going into kennels and as she has become more settled she has become more confident in showing this behaviour.

She advised me to buy a plug in diffuser in the house (which gives out a mothers natural pheromone that helps to calm puppies and dogs) and she also advised me to buy a kalm aid to add to her food.  She advised me to buy a front harness and to remove the muzzle I had been using and buy a basket muzzle and get her used to it before putting it on.

So the next day I started to drive Judy to the top field of our park where less dogs go and started to train her.  I first had to learn how near to dogs she could get before she reacted and try to avoid this, as basically she wouldn’t take treats when she was scared.  When Judy first looked at a dog, the behaviourist had taught me to call Judy and give her a treat which I did and over the last month I have been managing to get nearer and nearer to off-lead dogs without her reacting.

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Unfortunately, last week I had a bump in our car and it’s been in the garage for repairs, so this has forced me into walking Judy to the park gates again and we sometimes see dogs on leads.  Also when we get to the park we now have to walk in an area where there are more dogs running around off lead.

By watching Judy’s body language when we have been walking to the park gates this week (just five minutes from my house), I have realised that Judy is also scared of motorbikes and buses as she walks along the road, so I have been giving out lots of treats whilst walking to the park gates, so she associates the walk with good things as advised by the behaviourist.

She is still sometimes reacting to dogs on leads, but I am managing to keep this under control with treats.

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December

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My ultimate aim is for Judy to walk calmly past ‘pram lady and perfect dog’ with a smug smile on my face.

Being realistic though, I know that Judy’s training will be on going and I will always need to be careful of her stress levels when she is outside. I know that my dream of chatting to other dog walkers while walking Judy will probably never happen.

I also know it’s not a good idea to have Judy with me at the allotment either as birds and squirrels stress her out too.  She also suffers from separation anxiety, so I don’t like to leave her on her own for too long (I am also working on this with the behaviourist at the moment).

So as I said at the beginning of my post, with everything else going on with our family at the moment, myself and Mr Thrift have some important decisions to be make.

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The one thing we do know though, is Judy is now part of our family and we love her to bits.  We certainly don’t want to give up on her.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.