Boykin Fun Day

Last weekend we had the awesome opportunity to truck it down to Gainesville, Florida to visit my brother-in-law and his wonderful girlfriend as well as combine the trip with a Boykin Fun Day being sponsored at the wonderful Watermelon Pond Plantation in Archer, Florida—about 20 minutes west of Gainesville.

While Boykins are South Carolina’s state dog, they’re growing in popularity out of state with their ability to hunt both waterfowl (Samson’s job) and upland. So it was pleasantly odd to be outnumbered by Floridian Boykin owners! Kate Boulos, owner of Watermelon Pond Planatation and lifelong English Setter breeder/trainer, offered such a wonderful day and use of her land. Over 400 acres set aside just for hunting—it was the most beautiful quail hunting land I’ve seen. Being the granddaughter of a pointer/setter trainer and avid upland bird hunter, it was a wonderful place to draw on memories and scenes of my granddad growing up.

Samson hit so many milestones this day! We started the day’s events on his check cord because my little guy will NOT leave a body of water once he has entered. As witnessed when he ran straight for the pond and delayed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve event until we finally had to set out in a row boat to retreive my dog! However, the beauty of the day was it was for fun. So once we completed the clay shoot/bumber retrieve times, you could spend the rest of the day at that pond if desired—or continue on to time the other events. We opted to spend some decent time at the pond.

If I can backtrack a minute, Samson’s recent stubborness in training, mostly from  boredom because the breed is so smart, led me to regroup with clicker training and goldfish. However, we’d only just charged him on a clicker the day before we left. So intermittently we’d been using it as it made sense but we were also traveling and out of his routine so not too worried if he wasn’t responding.

Back to our pond training. He fell in love on his check cord with his water retreives. He’d get a slight tug at point of retrieval to prompt his turn back on the whistle blow and by 4 retreives in, no more tugs were needed. He’d spin around and start coming back, holding his bumper all the way in. Remembering I had extra goldfish in my pocket just incase, the next two retreives in—still on cord—I’d lure in his return and hold with a goldfish. Much interest gained. The next mark and retreive thereafter was succesfully completed with no check cord. Completely responded on whistle (and some goldfish).

And he stayed so hungry for more. All the light bulbs went off for my little Samson in Florida on Saturday. He finally understood what all those yard drills were about and how much fun the end product can be. I can’t wait to see his excitement when he’s pulling ducks in instead of bumpers.

With us both working dogs, very few pictures if any were taken Saturday by us—but we should be getting some soon from a photographer that was on hand that day to capture some great moments. I’ll post anymore if I get these. But here is Samson flat worn out after his big retreives.

Healthy Dog Treats

If you’re a dog owner and lover as we are, I know you’ve seen news reports such as these reporting on sickly and dying dogs from tainted dog treats. Mostly placing blame with Chinese manufacturers and imports of poorly made dog foods. And sure we can all sign petitions and shake our fists, but you can also take responsiblity for yourself and your pet.

With two working bird dogs in our family, we’ve not only invested our love and adoration for them, but have given uncountable hours to their training and development of their hunting skills. This makes it very easy and almost second nature to pay attention to anything that goes in our dogs mouths—as you would a child. So I’m not blind to the fact that many own dogs just to own dogs, nor am I blind to the fact that with our nation’s obesity ratings and health issues—if a person can’t even feed themselves nutritiously and responsibly, how can the give more care to an animal than themselves. So yes, we may be a small group but I refuse to turn the other cheek to how simple and much cheaper it is to forgo the pre-made junk treats in stores and think outside the box.

Regardless, dogs love food. Real food. Every dog I’ve owned has grown up eating natural wonderful dog treats. And no, not expensive fancy gourmet whatevers, but plain, healthy and all natural fruit and vegetables. I wonder if all the back years of vets trying to train owners not to feed dogs table scraps and “people food” has counter acted some people’s ability to think about what food is healthy.

Ideal fruit and vegetable treats we regularly feed our dogs:
• apple bits
• cored apple with peanut butter inside
• watermelon
• canteloupe
• carrot sticks (excellent for dental hygiene and cleaning plaque—much cheaper than dental bones)
• bananas (great hot weather nutrients if at the park or training in heat—just like for people after 5Ks and road races)
•cucumber slices

These are as simple and healthy as it gets and dogs love them for the same reasons we do—they are restorative and refreshing. And you know what’s going in their bodies. Here’s a great article that details some more fruit and vegetable ideas along with cautions to one’s you should not feed your pets.

If you like to take a more hands on approach and bake dog treats, I highly recommend  this awesome book of Country Wisdom and Know How.

It details wonderful, healthy, homemade dog treats you can bake at home with the simplest of ingredients. Another favorite it includes is a top 10 list of herbs that are safe and helpful to common digestive and breath issues with dogs.

Kitchen Cabinet Conclusion

I’m in love with my kitchen for the first time since we’ve lived in this house! I mean, I knew this couldn’t backfire or present any possibility of me not liking the outcome, but the level of happiness at the outcome is way more than I anticipated.

Even on a rainy, gloomy day, our kitchen is bright! And I love even more that the wood grain of our oak cabinets still shows through the paint. If you’re a close picture examiner, you will see some missing hardware. I flip flopped our order and ordered too many pulls and not enough knobs. So the remaining knobs we need should be in next Tuesday. You’ll also see my motivational projected outcome pic hanging on the fridge—looks pretty dang good!

All in all this was an awesome do-it-yourself renovation that I would highly recommend if you’re even halfway thinking of it. Total cost ran us around $300 (including all hardware, a new palm sander, and $50 paint).

HELPFUL TIPS?
Allow yourself time and space. And the biggest factor of your time, is how much space you have to lay everything out for priming and painting and drying and recoating. Without the space to keep working, you’re stuck waiting. We set up several 6′ long tables in our garage.

And when it comes to paint, it’s never too expensive. Splurge on your paint and you’ll save yourself tons of headaches as it just settles so beautifully. We used Benjamin Moore Advance and our color was from the Off White Collection named Dove Wing. The Advance line is technically a water base which helps with drying time and clean up compared to the typical cabinetry oil base paints. However it’s all fancy and engineered to self level and dry beautifully and cure hard. It ran us around $50/gallon and it was worth every penny. And after painting two coats on every cabinet surface we covered, we still only used half a gallon. Talk about lovely coverage.

Oh and we also salvaged our hinges instead of spending money to replace them. We simply scrubbed them clean with a hard brush and bleach and used Rustoleum Metallic Spray Paint in oil rubbed bronze color to coordinate with our oil rubbed bronze hardware. They turned out great and only cost us $6 in spray paint.

For a step by step guide of how we tackled our cabinets, I defer you to one of my favorite do-it-yourself blogs/family, Young House Love. Their recent step-by-step kitchen cabinet blog was basically what I followed to a T. So if my humble do-it-yourself projects are able to add any more credibility to everything they complete, then I hope it helps.

Stay tuned for true final pics soon. Our hardwood floors came early (Happy Valentines to me!) and started installing yesterday.

A Boykin’s Journey (and mine)

While we finish our kitchen cabinet project—final pictures coming very soon—we also recognized our big-hearted, little brown Boykin, Samson passed a new milestone this week seeing his 6 month birthday.

I know 6 months sounds silly but as a new Boykin owner, I’ve been just amazed at his personality and progress. Only being able to compare to Labs before this—and my Beaufort was even such a laid back Lab—but Samson’s ability to listen and roll with the punches at his early age impresses me. Maybe that’s just a common Boykin trait, and if so, I’m a fan.

I started his training Richard Wolters style at 7 weeks and he took to his obedience commands and whistle training like a champ. But as time came to start working on basic retrieve concepts, it coincided with his awful teething. I never noticed teething as much with my Lab—partly because I was younger, maybe even because they’re larger dogs, also I didn’t work my Lab like I am Samson. But his teeth were bad and really put a hold on his overall training. I opted to not push the issue and give a break on his training rather than risk bad training experiences for him—especially at the retrieving portion.

As we rounded out the duck season and have now begun a solid month of serious house renovations, this all kinda timed itself well. We have an official countdown for Samson—27 more days—and training will get ramped up for him. After a good week or so of confidence building and reminding him what he knows, I’m going to set him up a fetch table to work on his holds. He loves to retrieve and he’s birdy as all get out but needs to learn in the bigger picture, it’s not a game of keep away. He’ll only be retrieving what I grant him and must return it to me. So hopefully with some focused but simple work in this department, we can make that connection before going back to retrieving work.

Any other Boykin owners experience a similar reaction at this point?

Here are some pictures of him growing up since coming home last September.

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New Kitchen Cabinets

Since my husband is off on Mondays (I know, so annoying) he luckily is a super hard worker and got started early picking up last minute supplies and helping clear space for us to strip and repaint our kitchen cabinets beginning tonight!

Our entire garage had become one big camoflauge mess since Thanksgiving. So we speed cleaned it, grilled a mess of Carolina Treet barbeque chicken to make dinners easier throughout the week, properly cleaned decoys and put away all our hunting gear until next year—except those quick grab items you may need for other seasons. This allowed us to make  room for our work tables to go up in the garage so that we have painting surfaces ready and then we began emptying cabinets. The latter of which continues tonight with emptying the remainder of cabinets and removing all the doors, drawer fronts, and hinges. We are not painting the inside of our cabinets opting to leave the existing natural wood. Therefore, the actual cabinet boxes are staying on the walls—big relief right off the rip.

Anyhow, here’s our before picture joined by a projected finish picture. It doesn’t show our new hardware we ordered for the cabients, but there is a peep of our new hardwood floors at the bottom. So wish us luck and lots of marital patience! I’ll try to keep up with some pictures as we go but definitely looking forward to end result pics next week sometime.

End of Season

With this past weekend, our waterfowl season comes to a close. While we didn’t go out with a bang, literally, we did have some awesome hunts in some brand new spots that we will be sure to work on next year. From the open waters of Lake Moultrie to the flooded timber of the old Santee and back to cypress swamps, we definitely covered some ground. Here are some of my favorite pictures I was able to take throughout this season either from the boat or the blind.

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And with the end of that season comes the start of the next for our us—home renovations! We will be refinishing and painting our kitchen cabinets, freshly painting all our baseboards and all in preparation for our brand new, beautiful hardwood floors that will be installed toward the end of this month. Talk about spring cleaning fever! Stay tuned for update pictures on these projects.

Moultrie’s 3rd Birthday

We really can’t believe our Moultrie is turning three tomorrow. So just like last year, I’ll be making his Banana Birthday Cake for the boys as featured in last year’s post. Follow the link if you’d like the recipe.

This year should be a treat too for little Samson. This will be his first share of Banana Birthday Cake, but probably about his 47th banana—he’s really a monkey not a Boykin. Maybe this year I’ll be armed and ready with a camera for end result pics!

Meanwhile, here are some recent pictures  of Moultrie at his best.

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