furtech: (apache-r0ndo)
The dogs and I got a precious, rare invite: to celebrate King Dog Tay's birthday up in Oakhurst!
Oakhurst Snow
There are more gorgeous images of the Ranch, dogs and snow here

The timing turned into the most perfect trip we've ever made up there: the day after we arrives it snowed. Just enough fell that the ranch and the mountain turned into a winter wonderland. This was *ideal*: the snow only lasted for about two days-- then it melted and allowed us to drive safely back down the hill and home.

The night we arrived there was also a bit of excitement: on the night walk Carol and I discovered a brush-burn that had gotten out of control (these are supposed to be watched by the burner until the fire dies down). Between the windy gusts and all of the pine needles that hadn't been cleared, the fire had spread well into the brush nearby. A fallen pine was in flames and embers were spreading under the pine needles. We went back to get Eric and shovels...Carol got all of the water jugs (they keep them for pump failures).

firefighter

With a lot of work we got the flames down and the embers mostly doused. The owners of the lot finally arrived with a tractor and used that to completely bury the rest of the fire. They were grateful that it had been discovered, so it was all good. Plus, bonus activity points for me.

new snow

We awoke the next day to a winter wonderland: several inches of snow fell during the night and it was cold enough to stick. Check out the link above to see how beautiful the area became. The dogs (all four border collies) and I took a number of hikes in the silent, white world. I love walking in fresh snow (especially when it's only a few inches deep) and watching four crazy border collies run around on Very Important Business.

There are few places that aren't improved by a fall of snow. Since Casa Coyote starts out quite lovely, the snow transformed it into a fantasyland. R0ndo and Apache loved it: they had experienced a dusting of snow in Seattle a few years ago and had a lot of fun...but this was like doggy-disneyland for them. They bounded through the small drifts and still managed to dig ghost varmints. They loved that it was nice and chill out and if they get hot or thirsty they can just eat the refreshing "white dirt".

Tay was showered with goodies and treats. He enjoyed the ribeye steak he got as a present. As any good tyrant, he tolerated the manic attention of all three of the other dogs. He's well-deserving of his Kingdog title!
furtech: (acorn)
...well, Chatsworth and Valencia, but close enough.

On a couple of recent hikes I have seen creatures (or creature-spoor) that I had not realized lived in this area or have only seen once before.

First up: Ring-tail cat track
[livejournal.com profile] martes and I were walking in one of the dry washes in Valencia when she spotted an odd track: her guess was a ring-tail cat and subsequent Googling seems to prove her right. I have never seen one of these creatures, but they are -very- elusive and nocturnal.

ringtailcattrack

Next up, on the same hike: horned toad!
I have seen one of these before, but not one that was so lightly colored-- almost an ivory hue. He patiently let me take several pictures and then proceeded to burrow into the sand.

horntoad

Last up: Long-tailed weasel!
I did not even consider that we had native weasels in this area. Escaped ferrets, maybe, but not a weasel! On the way to visit a friend in Chatsworth for a (hot) hike, I drove past what I initially thought was a dead ground squirrel. But something in my mind threw a flag out: the color was wrong. On an impulse I went back and checked more closely. I was glad I did: that wasn't a ground squirrel-- it was a small weasel! A bit of research tells me it was a long-tailed weasel, which apparently -can- be found in this area. I've certainly never seen them in the wild.

Not long after, on my way home, nature's garbageman was hard at work: a turkey vulture was making a meal of the unfortunate weasel.

Weasel pics under links: while the first isn't that graphic (small image), it -is- deceased.

weasel-deceased, small-image

Larger pics of weasel, somewhat more graphic

All in all an interesting week of wildlife!
furtech: (Default)
dogs 1112
Taiwanese Mountain Dog, center. Full Flickr set here!

At the last minute I shot up to NorCal to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. On TG day, I met some good friends and their new Corgi puppy. OMG. Cute! Typically Corgi, she was fearless (but not stupidly so). She will be a GREAT dog when she grows up-- M&K have done everything right: good puppy class, lots of exposure to kids, people and other dogs.

Adorable
corgi pup

I also saw a new life-book dog: a Taiwanese Mountain Dog (aka, Formosan Mountain Dog). Amazing! She was one of the dogs adopted from a group flying Taiwanese street dogs back to the US to be adopted (very hard life for a dog in Taiwan). She is probably a mix-- but look at that tiny, thin body on those legs! It's like they ran out of whippet body parts, so they stuck a spaniel body on those whippet legs. She is beautiful and sweet, but those proportions are startling! Also, notice the spaniel-like head and stop. Smart, sweet and agile. Really interesting!

The first thing we did when we got back to L.A. was take a hike up the Newhall Pass to work off some of the turkey. This is pretty much a straight-up hill climb, with the usual fantastic views. We started the hike at Golden Hour: the point around sunset when everything glows as the sun sets.

We discovered that the heart rocks circle had been greatly expanded since we last were here. I love seeing these informal rock groupings and stacking. Perfect place for pics of the dogs! Much love.

R0ndoheartrocks

I also found a cindar block at the turnaround of the hike. This is exactly what I'd been looking for as something for a project I'm trying, so I tried to lug it back the two miles to the car. Just when I thought I'd hide it in some bushes (about 200 yards later) and come back and move it a little at a time, I realized that this weighed about what I'd lost in weight-- so as an experiment I determined to lug it all the way back to remind myself of what it was like before. Success on several levels: I got the block back to the car and got a stark reminder of what that much weight does to you. It's amazing what a little OCD can accomplish!
furtech: (Default)
Images from the fall of 2012.
october2012
FLickr set here

The weather has finally turned autumnal and dog walks can again be taken at any hour of the day. We took a couple of hikes in the mountains above the Valley and enjoyed the sunset.

The first hike had us watched by an early-rising gibbous moon. We noticed a jet-- a very modern fighter jet-- circling the Valley. Very unusual for that time of the day since there is usually a lot of airline traffic. Then I remembered: President Obama was coming in to town to be on Leno-- and his helicopter was hopping from LAX to Burbank at about this time. I love my camera: P&S it may be, but you can actually see the armament even at this distance.

A friend's daughter broke the zipper on her halloween/cosplay costume and E and I offered to repair it. The most difficult part: the zipper itself. 56" long with double sliders. None of the regular stores in the Fashion District (forget JoAnnes!) had anything even close. Despairing, I wandered the area and, true to FD form: came across Zip Up Zipper! A zipper super-store! The have zippers that are literally floor-to-ceiling-- there was one hanging from the warehouse ceiling that had to be 25 feet long! I found a stainless steel, double-slider zipper that was about 20 inches too long...and the owner just cut it down, added some ends and voila! Perfect! The FD is certainly one reason to love Los Angeles.

Bonsai class was a huge surprise!: the teacher took one of my pot-bound (cup-bound, really) 7 year old oaks and used a technique that will create a plant that has a foot of bare root, terminating in the soil of the pot. I had no idea that I'd see this that day-- it's an advanced technique that I'd never have the nerve to try myself.

tigerx3

Lastly, we had some special guests at work the other week: four Bengal tigers! It turns out that the whole place needed to be on lock-down: tigers are so temperamental and sensitive that no extraneous visitors or pets (especially barky border collies) could be in the building. One of the tigers was charming: she was a 17 year old veteran who was so calm that the trainers let us get close and take pictures with her. I've seen many tigers at zoos...but it's not until you see them this close that your really get a sense of the immense size and power. I'm so glad I had the opportunity to meet them.

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