Monday, August 30, 2010

In which we add another new family member to Haiku Farm

The long-awaited has happened at last:
Willy's sister Lisa has come from Korea to live with us on Haiku Farm.
She's 15 years old. She's very interested in the chickens (especially Minerva Louise #12), and she's a little intimidated by the goats and horses. She brought 10 pairs of shoes with her to America, and her favorite color is pink.

Jim and I (with Willy's help) put Lisa into what we call "puppy boot camp."

So what is Puppy Boot Camp?

I've never raised a kid before (Madeline and Jill and Aimee and Alaina and Courtney don't count--they had parents nearby), but I've raised a ton of dogs and cats and a few horses, and most of them were animals that society had thrown away for a variety of reasons.

Over the years, I learned to take each and every foster-dog through a self-designed boot camp that meant that the dog would be near me during almost every waking hour, and would be exercised to the point of being really tired every single day. For the older, fatter dogs, this meant a brisk 20-minute walk 4 times a day. For the puppies, it meant running in sand for an hour several times a day, followed by a game of fetch, lots of work and lots of praise.

(I was much thinner when I was working with puppies...hmmm...)

Since "a tired dog is a good dog", I was able to successfully raise, re-train and re-home a few dozen thrown-away dogs over the course of a decade. The same basic training plan was used on Hana and Fiddle too, actually.

Lacking extensive experience with human children, Jim and I have designed a similar informal puppy boot camp for kids. We started this with Willy: Jim kept him nearby during the day, except when he was at school. There were daily "work breaks" which involved physical labor designed to make the kid (and Jim, and me too!) tired by bedtime.

Tonight, we all moved gravel. (Dobbie Goat Gruff wasn't much help, actually.)

Lather, rinse, repeat until the kid has absorbed a clear understanding of a Haiku Farm Work Ethic.

Finally, turn the kid loose with farm responsibilities and praise lavishly.
The girl appears to have some game. So far, so good!