Good Bugs

The kids and I have been seeing these guys around since we moved in, but I was having trouble tracking down exactly what they are. After numerous yellow jacket stings on the farm, and a huge bald-faced hornets nest discovered/removed, we’re a little wary of flying creatures wielding stingers…

Turns out they’re not aggressive and are actually highly beneficial. The Digger Wasp flies low to the ground {we see them in greater numbers when the sky is overcast…?} and hunts for white grubs buried in the soil. The female Digger Wasp lays an egg inside the grub, and when it hatches, the new baby wasp eats the grub, reducing the numbers of Japanese Beetles. They also like nectar so they’re a native pollinator!

When not hunting white grubs, Scolia dubia is often found nectaring on flowers during August. Photo credit: Joann Pettinicchio

When not hunting white grubs, Scolia dubia is often found nectaring on flowers during August. Photo credit: Joann Pettinicchio

Puppy Update :: 10 weeks

McCaulay {Kep} and Findlay {Finn} came home Saturday September 13th. They were excited to be in a new place and exhausted by the end of the day. Mom slept on the couch with them in a kennel together, hoping to take them out as soon as they whined to use the potty. Unfortunately, they whined a lot that night. Luckily, no one peed in the kennel. Mom slept on the couch for night #2 as well, but that was the last time – mamas need more/better sleep than what can be had on our couch with two whiney puppies by your side… The pups spent the next few nights on the screen porch, and only had one or two accidents overnight. {The screen porch is directly below our bedroom window, so I could hear them and let them out as soon as they whimpered.}

A few nights ago Findlay had the hardest time falling asleep and it was 11:30 before he finally settled down. For a few nights, the pups had been sleeping in kennels in the playroom {it’s starting to cool off here at night}, and were doing really well from about 7pm to 6am. But that night, Finn just wouldn’t quiet down. I’d let him out of the kennel and he’d go outside and just lie down on the patio. I started to worry he was refusing to sleep indoors! I tried putting him on the screen porch but he just kept pushing on the door {bang…bang…bang…}. Even though I really really didn’t want to, I offered to let him sleep outside. He was barking {for the first time ever} within 10 minutes. Finally, I moved his kennel out to the screen porch, locked him in, shut the house door and hoped he’d be quiet. He was. But at their 2:30am potty try it was really chilly out there, so I brought his kennel back in, only this time I left the door from the playroom to the porch open. I’m thinking he was just getting hot because he’s at least twice as furry as Kep. Knock on wood – he’s been sleeping fine every night since then {in his kennel, in the playroom, with the house/porch door open}.

The pups don’t seem to enjoy their inside time very much – at least not when they are together. We can’t let them have free run of the house because they are chewing EVERYTHING. Kitchen towel, rugs, couches, table legs, EVERYTHING. So I put up a gate to confine them to the kitchen only {cookbooks, the island, the recyclables…} but they still don’t want to relax, so they often head back outside. Outside they wander around the yard, wrestling, digging for voles, chewing on tree roots… They stay very close to the house and as long as Hickory doesn’t take them on any adventures, they very rarely leave the yard without a person.

I take them for a walk every morning, to practice their leash manners. Even though they are primarily farm dogs, they will have to leave the farm from time to time, and I need them to be respectful even when restricted to a 6-foot leash. I usually take them one at a time, so they can focus on me, down to check on the “animals” {just chickens right now} in the field and in the pole barn. Right now they are walking “okay” on a leash, and prefer eating chicken poop to actually checking on the chickens, but they are getting much better. I have had puppies before, but never a pup that I expected to do any particular work, so I’m flying blind here – I think they’re doing great!

One last thing – I’m amazed at how different their personalities are. I have had dogs my whole life, and I know dogs are different, but there is something fascinating about seeing two litter mates behave so differently. Kep is needy, and affectionate, and very bidable. Findlay is incredibly smart, but a little stubborn and more independent. Just like with my human kids, I am trying not to “label” them, for fear of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy situation, but it’s hard not to. I am eager to see how their individual traits serve them as they move into their roles as working farm collies.

Food: They are eating Taste of the Wild Puppy. It’s available at Tractor supply and the price point is good – plus it’s grain free! They’re getting between 2 and 3 cups/day. I measure a cup in the morning, give “a little” at lunch time, and then measure a cup for dinner time. I feed them in their kennels 100% of the time.
Sleeping: Right now they are sleeping in separate kennels side by side. Of course I thought having them face each other would be “better” but it actually made them whine/bark more and more, as they fed off each other’s excitement. Placing them side by side means maybe 10 seconds of whining then quiet; when the sun goes down, these boys are hungry and ready for bed. Lesley {of Mountain Wave Farm} suggested keeping them indoors until about 6 months of age, while they get potty trained and learn their family, so I have a few more months before I have to come up with a plan for that…

A rare moment of kitchen peace...

A rare moment of kitchen peace…