On the Home Front

On Sunday night we had a killing frost. It was the final twist of a week that had been cold, wet and just on the edge of depressing. That unhappy weather was followed by a warming trend a blissful little Indian Summer that let me outside in nothing more than a tee-shirt without getting terribly chilled.

So I turned down the garden today. The leaves of the tomato and pepper plants had all curled up dead. I managed to salvage a quart or two of jalapeno peppers, a half dozen or so bell peppers, and four fat green tomatoes. And I dug up my potato crop and was very pleased to have a nice bunch of white potatoes with pale thin skin. This was my first attempt at growing potatoes and wanted to see how they grew… so I didn’t plant so many. Next year I’m bound to plant a lot more.

I broke the soil up with a spade and a garden tiller. And I added a heap of compost. I’m intent on improving the soil every year as what passes for “topsoil” around here would make dandy potters clay.

Attack of the Japanese Beetle

About mid-day the Japanese beetles began to swarm up out of the woods. It made just being outside somewhat unpleasant. Marsha and I spent awhile vacuuming them out of our windows inside the house. We literally filled up a vacuum bag with them that in the evening we threw in the fire-pit outside.

This reminds me of the first day in New Hampshire last year at the 2008 Petit Prix. It was only the one day that they were so annoying outside. So I’m hopeful that the “swarming” event is pretty much over already.

I hate the Japanese Beetle and I figure we should find the guy that brought them over here (to control aphids?) and string him up. These are not the gentle lady bugs of my youth. And like so many things in today’s world they represent a world in which nature is out of balance.

That reminds me you know… I’ve had a tomato garden just about every year for like three decades or so. And you know this is the very first time my tomato garden was not ravaged by the rhinoceros caterpillar. In fact, I didn’t see a single caterpillar on my tomato plants all year long. Now, I’ve cursed these bugs for years. But something just doesn’t seem right about not having them. I can’t tell you what it means. I certainly don’t know.



The table is an obstacle that provides the opportunity for a lead-out from the dog. It’s a funny opportunity… somewhat unlike leaving the dog at the start line. At the start-line the judge doesn’t count. And, of course, the handler isn’t faced with table faults at the start line. These are curious pressures.

I’d like use this sequence, beginning on the table, to use a lateral path lead-out. You’ll have to humor me here for a moment.


The traditional lead-out has the handler moving forward on the dog’s line. Note that this gives the handler terrific advantage forward of the dog at jump #2; but in this illustration the advantage might have completely evaporated by the time dog and handler get to the landing side of jump #3. So the lead-out wasn’t all that effective.


In the lateral path lead-out the handler gets the advantage in real estate where it’s needed which is lateral to the dog’s opening path.

If you don’t practice it, you can’t own it.

Cartoon by Terrence Nowcki, Jr.



“The imagination is the greatest antidote to boredom,” R.A. Shoaf


Questions comments & impassioned speeches to Bud Houston: BudHouston@hughes.net. And Check out my latest publication the Just For Fun Agility Notebook #30 available at www.dogagility.org/store.

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