My humble apologies for everyone waiting to see their dogs online here. Will be up early next week. I've been having problems with memory capacity on my computer. Off to purchase a modum to hold photos and solve the problem. Thanks for your patience!
The Ballarat Renewable Energy and Zero Emmissions group, BREAZE, is again organising home owners around Ballarat, who are changing their lives and homes to live as sustainably as possible, to throw open their doors and garden gates to the public on Sunday 14th September.
Amongst them is my own home in Lake Street Wendouree.
I purchased my well insulated 1960s home, as much for its wonderful north-east orientation and potential for sustainable retrofitting, as I did for its convenient location, close to two shopping centres, the Wendouree station, with rail link to Melbourne and a bus route in Howittt Street. Proximity to a local park, schools and Lake Wendouree are also an advantage, as the home is easy walking or cycling distance to absolutely everything I need.
Another bonus is the house is situated on about a third of an acre, in an urban setting. This gives me scope to establish an orchard and vegetables for pesonal use and surplus to give away or take to food swaps, as well as planting native plants to attract local wildlife and favourite exotic ornamentals. Most plants on site are edible, including my beloved roses and the variety of canna lillies I grow!
The benefits of north-eastern orientation of any home ensures significant passive solar gain can be made, with the sun playing a major role in providing heat and light, reducing reliance on electricity and gas.
Hot water comes via an evacuated tube solar system with an instanteaneous gas booster, necessary in the colder months. About a third of my annual power load is provided by grid connected, photo-voltaic panels and an inverter system, that not only reduces my energy bills significantly, but, more importatntly, reduces my own reliance on coal fuelled power sources and greenhous gases that contribute to climate change.
I am currently in the process of preparing for Robson Glass to install double glazing, to further insulate my home against winter's chill and summer's heat. Retractable awnings and ceiling fans, in combination with natural cross ventilation via windows and doors are all that are necessary to keep my home comfortably cool in summer.
My north facing patio provides a valuable heat sink to capture the sun's warmth in winter and create a suitable micro-climate to grow plants that would not otherwise survive Ballarat's winter chill.
My permaculture garden is a work in progress. So far there is a citrus grove, a fig, two olives, a number of apple varieties, as well as fejoas, pomegranites, a medlar, quinces and cherries, a multi-graft apricot, almond and hazlenuts. I have established a permanent potato patch and small vegetable plot. Sadly, it seems I have lost my avocado to the recent "black frost", along with some damage to the tahitian lime!
In the future, my garage and shed is to be transformed into a greenhouse, using recycled glass doors and windows for year round vegetable production and more pv panels for power. Meanwhile I am saving for the asbestos removal, a new roof and cladding..
I currently harvest some rainwater from the shed, but an extensive rainwater tank system is planned once the shed has been modified, to serve also as insulation on its southern side, as well as storing water to irrigate my garden in summer.
Chickens turn my 3 bay composting system, as well as providing eggs and manure for my garden. A second composting system, my aerobin was given to me by friends who were downsizing from a large backyard. This takes additional prunings and lawn clippings as well as kitchen scraps, such as potato peel, not favoured by the chickens. It has a tap at base level to harvest "worm juice", as well as several compost access points.
I also get as many autumn leaves as I can from friends and relatives to add to my compost. Nitrogen high peastraw and manure sourced from Skipton are also utilized in my garden, as well as oaten straw used for dog and chicken bedding are also recycled into mulch and compost.I mulch vegetables with lucern hay, even higher in nitrogen than peastraw. I like to turn all my garden beds into worm havens and encourage micro organisms below the soil to feed my plants, as well as encourage wild birds to aerate the soil.
My home is situated on reactive clay soil, so the addition of humous helps break down the clay particles. The wonderful thing about clay soils, is that with the addition of organic matter, they hold water beautifully. Rock dust is an excellent clay breaker and I use this when planting fruit trees. Contrary to popular belief, with highly acidic reactive clay soil, gypsum does nothing to break down the clay particles to repell, rather than attract each other. The addition of rockdust and organic matter truly works miracles. The soil, like most in Australia is deficient in magnesium. About once a year I give my vegetables and fruit a mild dose of diluted epsom salts (pure magnesium) to increase magnesium levels of food I eat and benefit the health of the plants!
Learning to do simple soil tests are but one benefit of undertaking a permaculture design course. So too is the knowledge you gain regarding heat sinks, frost pockets, designing for microclimates to grow plants as close to their possible optimum requirements, retaining water within your site, using a slope to your advantage, along with additional knowledge of designing or retrofitting your home to minimise energy use. I highly recommend undertaking a permaculture design course for anyone intersted in sustainable living. Both The Ballarat Permaculture Guild and Tread Lightly Permaculture offer excellent courses for Ballarat residents, with Tread Lightly soon to offer Certificate iii. Permaculture Design courses are recognised accreditted professional development by the Victorian Institute of Teaching!
I continue to plant bee attracting plants to encourage bees for plant pollination, though with both myself and my dog suffering from allergies to beestings I am reluctant to place a hive within my garden. Some nectar rich plants are pollinated by the honey eaters that frequent my garden, including a camelia, which fruits mid summer and a mandevilla, which annually bares the very rare seed pods. I have set a native stingless bee attracting home within my chicken run.
Examples of recycling can be seen in my kitchen, bathroom and laundry renovations. Blackwood cabinetry was reconfigured and added to, with what was not re-used in the kitchen making its way into the laundry, whilst a new blackwood pantry and appliance cupboard were made and installed to match by Ace Kitchens and Cabinetry. In the bathroom, the old bath stayed, but new minmal water usage toilets were installed, and lamipanel replaced tiles for easy cleaning and maintainance.
The only items of furniture I have ever purchased new are my lounge suite and flip out sofa in the sunroom, my bed and a television stand. All else is recycled; give aways from friends and family or op shop finds!
I do things as I can afford and my own energy allows. My place should be seen as a work in progress, not a purpose built ideal, but one that may be an example for other people with older homes, that aspire to minimise their carbon foot print as far as possible.
Also on display, will be my permaculture garden plan!
Come along on Sunday 14th September and learn about my experience of progressively retrofitting a 1960s brick veneer home for sustainable living!
Plan your day on 14th September visiting homes geared for sustainable living through the BREAZE website. All will be open between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm!
Do you have a whippet or other breed that has the wrong body shape for many off the peg items?
With their long slender bodies and necks, standard off the peg dog coats and collars often don't fit whippets particularly well. Of all dog breeds, whippets, with their fine coats and thin skins really need protection from the ravages of winter cold!
As a whippet mum, I have become something of a wizz at sourcing cool, practical and occasionally fun dog gear from a range of sources.
If your dog is a hard to fit breed, or you want something really special for them, it is worth contacting these businesses!
I have sourced Whippet Boy's collars and coats from various places, including Petstock, for standard items. Some Wagwear coats fit him well. These are available at Petstock and the staff are always more than happy to help with fittings for the harder to fit breeds like whippets
He has a lovely whippet fleecy and waterproof coat for Ballarat's cold winter days made to measure by a lady I got on to via Count Dogula's in Mount Alexander Road, Moonee Ponds. There too, I purchased "the world's most comfortable" dog leash, that has a padded handle, adjustable in its length and ideal for agility training. Count Dogula's stocks some really cool items for your pets, such as dish-washer safe, designer pet bowls and a huge array of beds and coats. It is a small, boutique dog store, that offers exceptional service and high quality products. I love going there with Whippet Boy, when we visit Melbourne!
Another source of affordably priced, quality dog coats that can be fitted to your dog's needs is Australia's online, family owned, Tuff Dog, coats and beds. They offer a refund or exchange should the coat not fit your dog to your satisfaction. They give clear instructions on how to measure your dog and offer a fabulous range of coats to meet the specific requirements of your climatic conditions and fashion sense!
Whippet Boy generally wears a stock item, hand-made, soft, wide leather collar from London's Verve Pet Boutique and cafe. I searched in vain locally for such a collar and hope this will last him the rest of his life. I was overjoyed when I finally found the sort of very basic old fashioned collar that my previous dogs have worn, but have thesedays been superceded by synthetic webbing ones, with plastic fittings. These lovely traditional leather collars are available online and are very reasonably priced. There is a limited range of colours to choose from, but Andre is always happy to make one to order in other colours for a few extra pounds!
Our special occasion's collar and lead was indeed made to order by Andre at Verve. If you really want to splurge on your dog, Andre can even do diamond encrusted collars on kid leather, in colours of your choice. I admit Whippet Boy's flash collar and lead is studded with Swarovski crystals, as my budget wouldn't stretch to diamonds, but please don't tell Whippet Boy, because he thinks his lime green with purple crystals and gold fittings collar and lead is very special!
One of Whippet Boy's favourite fashion items is a blue rhinestone studded whippet collar and lead, that was a special present from his Nan and breeder, complete with matching blue tassles!
Whippet Boy also has a red whippet collar and halter from Blackdog, Australia.
I know Whippet Boy is a dog, but he and I both enjoy looking our best when we go out and meet other dogs and their parents and promote my Pets and Plants business. Mainly he wears his practical every day gear, but once in a while, it sure is fun to dress for the occasion!
Pets and Plants, Beta Dogs and The Canine Kitchen, along with our pack of lovely dogs are howling with joy!
Already we have raised just over $100 for Ballarat's RSPCA Shelter Animals, and it is not even Cup Cake Day yet!
Our Cup Cake Day event is taking place this Monday, 18th August, between 3.00-5.00 pm.
Come and join us!
We have cup cakes to enjoy, dogs to pat and items Ballarat businesses have generously donated to raffle, auction and give away!
You are welcome to bring along your family and well socialised dogs to join the festivities!
A gold coin donation is appreciated, anything more is a bonus.
We hope to raise at least $500.00, but are reliant on the generosity of fellow animal lovers to reach this target!
Thanks to the generosity of our donors so far we are now on the way to reaching that target!
If you can't make it, but want to leave a donation for Ballarat's shelter animals, please check out the RSPCA's Cup Cake Day link to our fundraising page!
Whippet Boy and I joined in the long queue and festivities during Dr Harry's visit to the Purina Supercoat pet food promotion, last Saturday, celebrating the new Petstock store, in Mair St Ballarat.
Between 500 -1000 Dr Harry fans and their pets flocked to the store and queued patiently, sometimes for well over 2 hours, in hope of meeting their favourite TV celebrity.
I gave up on meeting Dr Harry. Instead, with the kind agreement and support of both Petstock Mair St and Purina Supercoat pet food, photographed many of the dogs in attendence for my petsandplants.com.au Dogs About Town Series, celebrating local dogs and responsible pet ownership in Ballarat.
For me, meeting all these wonderful dogs and a rabbit was as much a joy as the prospect of meeting Dr Harry.
Personally, as an adult, I thought the children waiting so patiently in line should have priority over Whippet Boy and I to meet with Dr Harry, even though Whippet Boy was wearing his special collar I bought him at 'Verve' pet cafe and shop, in London, for the occasion!
Both the dogs and the children were models of good behaviour and excellent manners, given the long wait to meet Dr Harry. The adults and Petstock staff, were exceptional too, given the crowd exceeded the expectations even of Petstock.
The new Petstock store was so full, it was impossible to check out much of their fabulous stock, but I did meet some lucky pets who enjoyed hydro baths and got fitted with new collars and coats while they waited to meet Dr Harry and sample some yummy, Supercoat food, prepared from "natural ingredients", especially prepared to make dogs shine!
If you are one of the many pet owners waiting to see your dog's photo here at petsandplands.com.au please be patient. I am hoping to finish loading up the first installment of photographs by this weekend.
It was such a joy to meet you all and I thoroughly enjoyed photographing so many Ballarat dogs. Thankyou all so much for the privilege, your cooperation and just as on Saturday, your patience!
Pets and Plants Ballarat, along with The Canine Kitchen and Beta Dogs, invites you to help us raise money for the shelter animals of Ballarat's RSPCA.
All of us love our pets and hate to think of shelter animals not being given the best possible second chance in life. But this takes money.
Shelter animals need food, housing veterinary care, vaccinations and sometimes, desexing and rehabilitation to become faithful pets ready for adoption. All of this work requires more than just the goodwill of shelter staff.
The reality is cold, hard cash, can help give so many animals that second chance in life.
If you have been regularly enjoying my blogs about pets, plants and animal welfare, I would truly appreciate even the smallest of donations to this worthy cause.
Through our Cupcake Day Fundraiser, we aim to raise $500 for the local RSPCA, but we have barely started.
Please help us make that start by donating to our fundraising efforts via the following link https://rspcacupcakeday-vic2014.everydayhero.com/au/pets.
If you have ever loved a pet, recued an animal and called upon a shelter to rehome it, or made room in your life to give for a shelter pet their second chance in life, then I call upon your goodwill and sympathy to support this very worthy cause!
Just a few dollars will help feed these animals. $30 will help keep them in warm beds and $60 will cover vaccination and microchipping costs.
Every little bit helps and we do truly appreciate even the smallest donations.
We invite you to join us on Monday 18th of August between 3 and 5 pm, to enjoy cupcakes, pat our dogs and meet other people who enjoy animals as much as we all do.
Gold coin donations will be appreciated, more than that and our dogs will be howling with joy!
You can further help us by tweeting your friends or linking our fundraising site to your facebook page.
Alone we may reach that target.... together we may even surpass it!
Thank you most sincerly for your support!
Meet celebrity vet Dr Harry Cooper, of Channel 7's Better Homes and Gardens, at Petstock's new Mair St store today between 10 and 2pm!
I for one, along with Whippet Boy will be lining up to meet this wonderful man who has devoted his life to animal care and welfare.
For those of you who don't know, Petstock is a Ballarat based success story, with its national head office located near Stockland in Wendouree.
Petstock, not only offers many fabulous products for your pets. Their friendly staff are devoted to animal care and welfare and their service is invariably helpful, friendly and obliging. They even carry heavy and bulky items to my car and load it into the boot for me.
Some remember Whippet Boy on his very first visit.
I love Petstock's devotion to employing both senior and junior pet lovers amongst its staff. It is great to see young employees being mentored and guided by staff skilled in genuine customer service. I have witnessed them growing in skills, confidence and a high level of knowledge of stock, on the job. Nothing is too much trouble and they genuinely enjoy my being accompanied by Whippet Boy. I only wish thier model of staff training, professional development and retention, was replicated in more stores in Ballarat. The community would enjoy plain old fashioned exemplary customer service as the norm!
I would personally say that the Petstock team are second to none in Ballarat. They have fitted Whippet Boy with doggie essentiials, such as coats, seat belts, trimmed his nails from time to time, got products in especially for my chickens and supported my care of my aging and very arthritic Moggy, up until his recent death, aged 19!
I just wish Petstock had a coffee shop, so Whippet Boy and I could indulge in an indoor coffee and treat together, instead of always having to freeze outside in the cold at non pet accessible indoor venues. We'd be regulars for sure, as would other people who enjoy dining out and meeting other pets and their humans in comfort!
I frequented a boutique pet store and cafe in London and it was one of the coolest spots to hang out and meet interesting local people and lovely dogs. If only we had more receptive health regulations that made allowances for well socialised pets to dine with us, as more flexible regulations permit in Europe and America!
At least side walk cafes give us a little more leeway to enjoy our pets these days in Australia. I guess that is a start!
Petstock does host excellent web pages on pet care!
Information here is clear and ideal for children wanting to know more about care of their pets!
Come along and meet Dr Harry today, you may even meet Whippet Boy, wearing his special London dog collar, purchased for VERY special occasions.
Maybe he will help Whippet Boy and I lobby for cafe's within their stores that are pet friendly!
Watch this blog to see if Dr Harry meets Whippet Boy!
Pet vaccinations are vital in the prevention of contagious life threatening diseases.
Dog and cat vaccinations begin early in a puppy or kitten's life and reputable, registered breeders and animal shelters will have already commenced your new pet's vaccinations, veterinary checks and identity microchip implants and provide you with relevant certificates at the point of purchase. The breeder or animal shelter will let you know when your pet is due for its next shot.
According to the Ballarat and Wendouree Veterinary Practice:
"The recommended vaccine for dogs is known as the C5. This vaccine protects against
-Canine infectious hepatitis
The first three viruses are contained in one vaccine and is available as an annual and a triennial (3 year) vaccine. The canine cough component is an annual vaccine. The C5 is recommended for all dogs and is compulsory for dogs going into boarding kennels."
"The recommended vaccine for cats is the combination F4/FIV. This vaccination protects against
-Feline Immunodeficiency Virus which cause feline AIDS
FIV is considered the most important of these as it is very common, once infected your cat is infected for life, and the disease is eventually fatal. FIV is caught from a bite from another cat. ie during a fight (another good reason to have your cat desexed and locked in at night as these are the most prominent reasons that cats will fight)
The 2 vaccines are given at the same time and boosted annually."
Horses can now be vaccinated against equine flu, thus be protected against the disease that caused havoc to equine sports, competitions and pony club meets when the first outbreak occured in Australia some years ago!
I only wish it were possible to have my backyard chickens vaccinated against preventable chicken diseases, like the poultry industry. Sadly the Department of Environment and Agriculture will only release huge batches of the stuff. For this reason it incenses me when the poultry industry blames the keepers of small backyard poultry flocks for outbreaks of chicken diseases within their industry. So long as small flocks of backyard birds are unable to access the vaccines, is it any wonder we do lose chickens to the very diseases they fear?
Further information can be found on the Ballarat/ Wendouree Veterinary Practice website, or speak to your own vet.
Do not neglect to have your animals vaccinated and ensure they receive their boosters when they are due. You owe it to both your own pets and those of others in the prevention of contagious diseases that threaten the precious lives of our pets.
By law in Victoria dogs and cats must be restrained when travelling in a car.
This means your dog needs to be fitted with a harness with a seatbelt strap, only sufficiently long to allow the animal to stand, that connects to the seat belt housing in the vehicle, or restricted to a crate. Cats need to travel in their cat carrier.
This prevents pets flying through windscreens if you are involved in an accident or need to break suddenly. Either of these misfortunes can propell your pet through a window by sheer velocity, just as it does for humans, not restrained by a seatbelt
Unrestrained pets can also dangerously distract a driver's attention from the road if they become restless or misbehave whilst the vehicle is in motion.
Front airbags can kill a small dog, either through sheer force, or suffocation when they burst out of their holders in the event of a collision. For this reason, small to middle sized dogs should always travel in the back seat.
It is illegal to carry a dog or cat in the boot of a car.
Drivers failing to restrain their pets can now be fined if stopped by police and penaltys for travelling with an animal in the boot are even more severe
My dog loves car journeys and likes to accompany me to exciting places, such as markets, parks and sometimes even Lygon Street in Carlton or Moonee Ponds. He will happily sit and look at the scenery we pass or simply sleep through longer journeys. My cat was different. He dreaded car trips and I found the only way to ease his apprehension was to sing to him. I made up songs accordingly. One was "we're going to the vets, we're going to the vets, meow meow meow" or Moggy Boy, Moggy Boy, he's a lovely little boy, Moggy Boy, Moggy Boy, he's his mother's pride and joy". I would repeat these tunes until we arrived at our destination.
That was all very well if the destination was close. Once Moggy Boy drove with me between Melbourne and Ballarat. Just because I sang to my cat, doesn't mean I am much of a singer. My point is, I did my best to distract and reassure my darling cat, that all was well and he would be fine. It was a case of me singing , or him caterwailing all the way.
According to Dr Hugh Wirth on Radio 774's Saturday morning pet segment, cats fare best in carriers where they can only see ahead and not above them. It makes them feel way more secure, than in one with wire over the top. If your cat carrier is of the top opening cage variety, pop a towel over the carrier while driving to minimise travel stress!
Whatever it takes to console a reluctant four legged passenger is worth doing, if it prevents high stress situations for either your animal or you.
In the event your pet gets highly agitated and stressed when travelling in a car, your vet can help with sedatives for a long journey, but ideally, travel training should start from when your pet is young. Short journeys to pleasant, non threatening locations are ideal. Take them on school pick ups, for short trips to a park where they can enjoy time on a leash and train them to relax and travel quietly.
Whether you choose a car harness or crate for your dog's safety when travelling get them used to it from the time they first enter your life. Don't leave it until the emergency trip to the vets as your will be placing your pet under additional stress, at a point where keeping them calm and relaxed is a real advantage!
If you are travelling with your pet in the heat of summer, try to make your journey early in the day or in the evening when the temperature is lowest. Stop for drinks a leg stretch and toilet breaks every two to three hours. Avoid travelling in the middle of the day, as heat stress for your animal can be life threatening, and at best distressing. They cannot tell you they are overheating.
Never leave your pet locked unattended in a car on a warm day. As soon as there is some sun cars heat up to three times the outside temperature, turning your car into an oven. Pets left in parked cars in the sun in summer have been known to be dead in well under 15 minutes. If it is not safe for a small child, it is not safe for your animal. To live with the knowledge that through your own negligence you cooked a loyal and devoted animal alive is not something most people would choose to have on their conscience for the rest of their lives!
Even on cool days, if leaving your pet in the car unattended, you should leave windows down a little when the vehicle is parked, to ensure your pet has some air circulation in case the car warms up to an uncomfortable extent.
Many dogs enjoy a chew toy whilst travelling. Way better to chew on something you have provided, than the upholstery of interior of your car.
If your pet travels regularly with you in the car, excellent pet car seat covers can be purchased to protect your upholstery from muddy paws and pet hair. You can find them at auto stores and even bargain style shops.
If I am taking my dog to places where I expect him to maintain an extended drop at a table whilst I enjoy a meal, I take a mat, so he has somethig way more comfortable than cold paving to lie on for an hour or more. So too a portable water container. He really seems to enjoy checking out the action and being on his best behaviour!
He is rewarded with a walk for his patience!
As for my moggy, he was a home body, though I have known a couple of cats, who loved car rides and would accompany their owners for holidays and regular weekends away.
Many people assume that because whippets are amongst the speedsters of the dog world they require huge yards, or country estates to run.
The reality is far from this. In fact the most important space for a whippet to be truly happy is indoors with its human family, with a comfy bed of its own. There they can indulge in their favourite activity of all. Sleeping!
You could even say whippets require "heart space", as they are dogs that bond closely with their humans and like to be in close proximity to them. They are a bit like a cat, in that they choose their time for cuddles and affection. They are not overly demanding of attention, like some terriers, nor are they lap dogs. Their loyalty and gentle affection is exceptional and they are especially good around children and the elderly.
For that reason whippets needs can even be met within an apartment, so long as their human is commited to walking them at least once, preferably twice daily, along with ensuring outings to places where they can run off leash regularly.
My own whippet is happy choosing between indoors and access to a large backyard. We also walk at least once a day for a minimum of half an hour.
Whippets bodies are streamlined and designed for speed, with enormous heart lung capacity, tiny waists, long legs and very fine tails. Whippets can accelerate to reach speeds of around 60km per hour over short distances. They are the sprinters of the canine world and can even beat greyhounds over short distances!
Whippets also excell at agility and obedience training. They are a breed that enjoys challenge and stimulation, but are not generally high energy dogs, when not "working" or sprinting.
One aspect prospective whippet owners need be aware of is that whippets feel the cold. They have a very fine coat and thin skin, along with minimal body fat for insulation. Being left outside in frosty, cold climates in winter will lead to problems. It also means they can be injured through penetration by objects they bump into running at speed, and that their skin can be easily penetrated or scratched during rough play with other dogs.
My whippet wears a coat when out walking on cold and wet days. He does not wear a coat at home as he can come indoors when he wants to be warm.
The benefit of their fine coat and skin is that they are very low maintainance as far as grooming goes. They rarely exude a "doggy smell", so need bathing only for aesthetics or after a roll in mud or anything putrid. However, they will appreciate a good doggy massage and rub over with a fine brush. It is especially important to make sure their claws do not grow to the point they send their legs out of allignment by forcing their weight onto their heels. This can lead to injury, that could be avoided by a simple claw trim.
Whippets enjoy canine companionship and will bond closely with a companion dog. They generally enjoy socialising with other dogs, especially enjoying games of chasey when they get a chance. They were bred do run and hunt down rabbits and small animals and those who get the opportunity to indulge in these pursuits delight in it!
Fiona Ludbrook is the Client Services Director of Pets and Plants Ballarat. Now, entrepreneur and blogger, she was born and bred in Ballarat, but spent many years as a teacher in Melbourne’s