I thought I’d let you have something a little easier for your Macro Monday puzzle this week.

Of course, I don’t seem to be a very good judge of what’s easy and what’s not easy, because I always know what these things are. Ha!

Oh well. Just take a look at that picture up there and see if you can work out what it might be. Remember it is an extreme close-up.

This isn’t something you have in the house. However, most people do have one. Or Two. Maybe even more! And they take them out and about with them. They are so useful, you see!

Add your answer to the comments, and I’ll be back tomorrow evening with the answer in the form of a picture link. That’s Tuesday 21st January, probably about 10pm UK time.

Till then, have fun – and don’t forget to visit Lisa over at Lisa’s Chaos to see more Macro Monday contributions!

Well, well, well. A good many of you got the answer right this week, did you not?

Here’s the answer!!

First prize* goes to Herman Turnip of Terrible Analogies for being the first to guess correctly – well done, that blogger! Honourable mentions to Molly, Lea, Shooting Parrots, Shirley, The Chieftess, Wayne Woodruff, Katherine, Nick, and Liz.

Thanks for playing, everyone! Same time next week?

* That is to say, a big fat nothing, except my admiration and a little temporary fame.


We’ve been feeding the birds this winter. It costs a fortune in pelleted suet, bird seed, and niger seed. This last for the goldfinches, who are greedy little things and sit for ten or twenty minutes at a time on the feeder, immobile except for the bobbing of heads and filling of crops. The amount of niger seed they get through is quite phenomenal for such small birds! They’re messy, though, and the grass beneath the thistle feeder is always littered with the tiny black seeds. Impossible to sweep up.

On the pole feeder, we get a lot of starlings. We get sparrows, blue-tits, great-tits, greenfinches, wood pigeons and collared doves, a robin, and the occasional jackdaw. On the ground, we daily see dunnocks, and blackbirds and thrushes also visit. And now a bird of an entirely different feather has turned up. He is not particularly welcome.

Tell me. How does the little bugger get up there? And how can we stop him?

I’m thinking of slotting a three-foot section of plastic pipe over the pole, wide enough that he can’t get a grip, and smooth enough that he’d fall down. I suppose I could grease it – and maybe set up a candid camera for our amusement.

It’s bitterly cold weather, with snow falling and more due to come. At intervals the slush freezes and I feel sorry for any wild creature out in it. They all have to eat and do their best to survive. But the bottom line is that I don’t want him and his buddies in my garden.

We live next to farmland, and it’s inevitable that we will see rats from time to time, along with the usual mice. I take a ‘you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone’ attitude to wildlife, and as long as they stay out of the buildings and don’t set up home in my house, garage or garden, I tolerate most things. Trouble is, with a ready food supply, I don’t see this little guy wanted to leave, do you?

Rats are smart. They are intelligent, funny – and cute, in the right setting. Unfortunately, they also carry diseases transmissible to dogs and to man. And woman, come to that. My dogs are vaccinated against the common varieties of leptospirosis*, but we are not.

I won’t use poison – never have. I’ve seen too many cases of accidental poisoning, and the agony it causes is unacceptable to me. I won’t say I never will use it, because rather than being over-run with rats, I would probably resort to it if I couldn’t find another way to keep them out in the fields where they belong. In fact, by law, I would have to call in an exterminator if I couldn’t get rid of them myself.

So. Even if I wanted to use those hideously cruel snap-traps, they wouldn’t work for this one, because by the look of his nearly-skinned tail, he’s had a close call with one of those already, and as I’ve already said; rats are smart.

OK. We’ve installed new ultra-sonic deterrents in the garage, and it’s down to B&Q tomorrow for some plastic piping. Ooh, and I’ve ordered a squirrel baffle, but if anyone’s got any other ideas – I’m listening!


* Over 50% of rodents in the UK are infected with leptospirosis of one type or another. In dogs it is known as ‘infectious jaundice’ or ‘lepto’, and in man it’s known as ‘Weil’s Disease’.

Posted on January 20, 2013 in Funny, Hounds, The Home Front by Jay7 Comments »


See this? This is what happens when you take one dog swimming, leaving OH to walk the other at some later point in the morning.

These leads are normally kept in a drawer by the front door. Seems he couldn’t find just the one he wanted, huh?

Posted on January 18, 2013 in Hounds, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay4 Comments »


Now, I know there are dog owners out there who never walk their dogs. There can be all kinds of reasons, but I am not one of them. I’m not here to apportion blame or to judge, but personally, I don’t like it, unless you own a huge farm where they can have free run.

Even then, they’ll miss out on all kinds of things: meeting other dogs, checking out the ‘pee-mail’, meeting new people, and investigating new terrain, new sights and smells, etc.

One of the biggest and most important things they’ll miss out on is learning to keep up with the pack and take direction from the leaders: you and your family. This can, in fact, be key to training some dogs to be good family members. The ideal way to ‘migrate’ with your dogs is off-lead, because this way they learn to keep up. If they don’t, the pack (you) is going to move off without them.


To be fair, there are some dogs who are not good candidates for much off-lead work, because they have strong instincts which makes it unsafe. Many sighthounds fall into this group because they have such a strong chase instinct, or ‘prey drive’. However, more than half of the dogs I’ve owned have been off-leaders, most on a daily basis.

When I take on a new dog, after careful assessment, and some recall training, they get their chance to be one of them. The look of surprise and consternation on their faces when they fail to come when called and I disappear – hiding in the bushes in the next field, usually – is quite comical, but it quickly teaches them that if they don’t come, I won’t be waiting for them. In some situations, of course, you have to go get ‘em, but what you should never do is stand yelling yourself hoarse over and over, because that simply teaches them that they can safely ignore you and nothing happens. And you never, everevereverever, punish them for not coming the first time you call, or the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth time etc, because, guess what? That just teaches them that when they do come, Bad Things happen and it might be safer NOT to comply!

The two I have now don’t go off-lead very often. Sid can, and does occasionally, but these days I have to be super-careful where I let him run in case he injures that single back leg, and he can no longer get under some of the stiles. Jeffie is just a feather-brained oldie* who is slow to learn, still wants to chase things, and will snap at approaching dogs, so he’s not safe. Both get to run free at the greyhound kennels.

But walking out on lead? Yep, they get to do that every single day. The exercise is good for them and for us.


However … We have become lazy and often they get shorter walks than they should in winter, so that’s why I signed up for the 30/30 challenge. The aim is to walk the dogs for at least 30 minutes every day for the entire month of January. I take that to mean that at least one of their walks should be thirty minutes long and here’s how I’ve done this week:

Saturday: We took them out for a quick walk in the morning, but 40 minutes in the evening.

Sunday: We took them out only once. It was bitterly cold. We went to the town park and Sid managed to do three-quarters of the perimeter, taking between 30 and 40 minutes. Great progress for our convalescent!

Monday: A very quick morning walk (about 15 minutes) for Jeffie, and Sid went swimming. Thirty minutes for both in the evening.

Tuesday: Twenty minute village walk in the morning, and (failure!!) probably about the same in the evening. Well, it does add up to 40 minutes…

Wednesday: Again, very, very cold. We did a full circuit of the town park which is about 40-50 minutes! But it was so cold, and Sid is slow at the moment, so he’s having to put up with wearing a coat, which he hates.

Thursday: Twenty minutes in the morning, and another village walk in the evening of (hangs head in shame) about 25 minutes.

Friday (today): Sid went swimming again this morning, and this evening we took them out for another 25 minute walk.

In our defence, it has been difficult. The weather this week has been icy, and Sid needs extra care or he’ll re-injure his hind leg. I simply can’t take him for long walks every day, and OH is nervous about being responsible for him so I can’t just do 30 minutes with Jeffie. Today, because it’s snowing and already icy, and there’s about an inch of soft snow on top of that, I dug out his Voyager K9 boot for his hind leg to give him a bit more traction. They’re made for greyhounds, so they actually fit, and while he normally hates any form of clothing, he got used to this boot in about 10 yards. I think he realised it gave him extra traction!


* You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. It’s just a little more difficult and takes longer.