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Farm Fresh Blog
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
My Mom used to tell me "Give the hardest job to the laziest person, and he'll find the easiest way to do it!"
That . . . is the God's Honest Truth! I am lazy. That's why I like smart dogs. I'm a lazy dog trainer. Instead of pouring time into training dogs that I have to beg for attention, I prefer dogs that Live To Learn. The down side to this is that high-drive dogs are hard to live with if they don't have jobs. The upside is that you are only limited by your own imagination. Since I am a lazy person, and Border Collie is a high-drive dog, I can sit around and ruminate on ways that she can make my life easier.
For instance, when I let the sheep out or put them in, it's so nice to have someone close the gate behind them. (I'd prefer that Someone not be me.) This job actually began last winter when a certain lazy person (Me!) didn't want to slop through the mud to close the gate and decided that it was much easier to send a loyal servant (Border Collie!) through the mud to close the gate.
Sheep file through gate.
(This is a muddy mess in winter.)
"Lily, would you get the gate?"
Border Collie salutes and races off.
If a Lazy Person has a rope tied to the gate . . . and a magnet on the pole, said Lazy Person does not have to walk through the mud to close the gate.
If they have a willing farm hand . . .
. . . who enjoys closing the gate!
Disclaimer: this is a great way to reduce work for the Lazy Person, BUT . . . if you are doing a quick photo shot to demonstrate how a dog closing a gate can reduce your work, and IF that dog really gets into slamming the gate over and over and over, you MIGHT just pull the gate off the hinges and actually make more work for your Other Half . . . (I'm just saying . . .)
Sidenote: It helps sooth things over if the same dog is learning how to open the refrigerator and get your Other Half a beer. She has the refrigerator opening down pat, now we just have to put a can in a coozie and teach her to retrieve that can, then close the door to the fridge. It's coming along nicely and Other Half is happy with her progress. (Good thing, cuz I haven't told him about that gate yet.)
Monday, 30 August 2010
I'm genuinely perplexed. I have these signs posted by my driveway:
Our yard is gated. This one is on the driveway gate.
There is another fence around the house. This one is on the gate by the house.
This one is on the gate leading into the barn.
ALL of these signs can be seen from the driveway. So upon your initial approach into the yard, there should be NO doubt that we have dogs in this yard. And just in case you are a little slow . . . .
Other Half's patrol truck is parked not 6 feet from the main gate! And guess what it reads!
Now I tell you all this not to scare you away from visiting us. (Please do! After you help me fix fences, we can kick back and have a tall glass of sweet tea!) Nay, I tell you this because of the unbelievable incident that happened this morning!
The dogs and I were in the barn. Five (5!) dogs were with me. Other Half was asleep in the bedroom with 2 dogs and current police dog was in her outside kennel run that is behind the bedroom. Border Collie had just turned the sheep out and closed the gate when I heard the unmistakable sound of a human whistling for a dog. "Huh???"
Surely I didn't hear what I just heard. I listened. Yep, there it was again. Someone was calling my dogs. Uh oh. Then I heard it. The chain to the main gate was being opened. Holy shit! (Yes! I said it out loud!) Sure enough, there was a meter reader walking past three signs and a K9 police truck to read a meter that they ALWAYS read with binoculars. (They began this after my pet goose, Bling, flew over the main gate and attacked a Meter Reader.)
Armed with a small stick that had a tennis ball on the end, he was walking through the main gate. What was he thinking??? Signs don't apply to our intrepid young meter reader. . . I'm sure he's good with dogs. . . He probably has dogs of his own. . . Dogs like him . . . He feels he has a right to be on my property. The sign on his truck makes it official. And the list goes on.
This dog doesn't read.
Don't show him your credentials. He doesn't care. He will come. He will come fast . . . and he will bring 4 to 6 of his best friends.
What really bothers me is that despite ALL those signs, someone would still walk onto my property, and this poor dog (and probably the others) could get in trouble for DOING THEIR JOB!
Now I understand that this may not be intimidating to people:
But come ON, People! THIS SHOULD!
So I saved him before the dogs ate him. Then I thanked God that I was home when he tried this stunt.
This shook me. I haven't told Other Half yet. (He is still sleeping.) All I can do is post signs and say a little prayer that God will protect them and the fools that walk through those signs.
please protect my dogs, kind and gentle creatures that are only doing their jobs, from the arrogance and ignorance around them.
Friday, 27 August 2010
Every morning Border Collie starts the day bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I don't. I often suffer from LCL in the early morning (low caffeine level). Because of this syndrome Border Collie must work extra hard to get me to rise with the sun and begin her day. To accomplish this, she leaps on the bed and stuffs a dirty sock in my hand, or drags it repeatedly across my face. Last night while I was cruising the internet I find another Border Collie who has a much better idea of how to wake her mommy up in the morning. Perhaps my Border Collie needs to watch THIS video: Breakfast In Bed
"Com'on Mom! We're burnin' daylight!"
Thursday, 26 August 2010
In the evening the sheep & goats are penned up near the barn. Their "Bodyguard" is on-duty all night long. In the morning they are released out to the pasture with the horses and their Bodyguard is off-duty until the sun goes down and once again, we begin the cycle of the "Zombie Wars."
"Good Morning Briar!"
Briar gives me a debriefing of the night before, providing detailed descriptions of each coyote, bobcat, raccoon, skunk, oppossum, and zombie that she has sent packing overnight.
Ahh yes . . . dawn is here. The zombies have gone back to wherever zombies go when the sun comes up.
The sheep & goats file out. I count them. Briar counts them. We compare numbers. She is almost off-duty. Everyone is happy. Everyone except . . .
. . . BarnCat!
BarnCat is not happy to see Briar. See that look of joy on her face?
Briar, however, is delighted to see BarnCat!
"Run, Cat! Run!"
"Run Cat! Run so I can squish you!"
BarnCat is soooo not amused.
This was not how she wanted to start her day. But she finally sees an opening. Briar zigs when she should have zagged.
And . . . .
Briar is delighted! BarnCat is pissed. (Pissed off Puss!)
BarnCat finally scoots up a tree. From there she runs on top of the barn to groom herself and remove the dog spit while Briar hustles to the gate to commune with her doggy friends and enjoy a morning swim in the pond. Nope, being off-duty doesn't suck!
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Here in Texas we have a joke about students from Texas A&M University. They are nicknamed "Aggies."
The joke goes like this: "How do you drive an Aggie crazy?"
Answer: "Put him in a round room and tell him to pee in the corner."
Aggies analyze the world quite closely. In this way, they are much like Border Collies.
Case in point: "How do you drive a Border Collie crazy?"
Answer: "Put her in a pond and tell her to bring you the goldfish."
The Aggie salutes and begins her search!
This is serious business!
Ah ha! Spotted one!
"Wait! You were just kidding, right?"
Hats off to Aggies and Border Collies everywhere!!!
Monday, 23 August 2010
It's hot. It's really, really, REALLY hot! If you're gonna stay outside, you've gotta find a way to stay cool. Briar has that covered. When the temperatures soar, she slips into her "Super Suit" and transmongerates into "SPLASH the Streak!"
She stands at the edge of the pond, contemplating her transfiguration.
She slips into the Magic Depths . . .
And transmogrifies into . . .
SPLASH the STREAK!!!!
(Cue Ray Stevens' "The Streak" soundtrack.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtzoUu7w-YM
"Oh yes they call her The Streak!" (Boogity Boogity!)
"Fastest thing on four feet!"
"What?!! Is that you, Ethel?"
"GIT YER CLOTHES ON!!!"
(For those of you too young to know who Ray Stevens is, I strongly urge you to google him and listen to his music. Your life will never be the same. Parents with young children or bored teenagers: this will keep them entertained for weeks.)
Saturday, 21 August 2010
Exactly one hour before I was supposed to leave the office last night . . . the phone rang. It was a murder, a complicated, tear-jerker, stay-out-all-night-long murder. I called Other Half and informed him. He was supposed to get off early so I was satisfied that even though I'd be out all night, the dogs would be fed soon. He called me back a few minutes later to inform me that he and Oli just got a call. They were gonna be out all night too. In fact, we ended up meeting on the highway at the end of the night. It was almost sunrise when I finished chores and staggered in.
All I wanted was a bath and a bed. Unfortunately other members of the family had slept all day, and all night. I tossed breakfast at them, promised them some attention later, and crawled to under the covers. Bless her heart, Border Colle gave a heavy sigh, laid her head on my hip, and settled down, where she stayed until I dragged myself out this morning.
I woke up mid-morning and tripped my way to some caffeine. The dogs had emptied their toy box but they had let me sleep. Frankly, I don't think Border Collie ever got off the bed. Now she was ready to play and all I wanted to do was check the sheep, eat a bowl of cereal, and go back to bed. (a real Border Collie downer!)
The rest of the pack was disappointed too, but I have a perfect Puppy Pacifier for just this situation. So I reached in the cabinet and grabbed the bag.
Everyone filed up for their pig ear. Everyone except Bloodhound - she was sleeping. (Bloodhound is a bit senile and so we let her do her own thing.) Everyone settled down to chew their Puppy Pacifiers. Everyone . . . except Border Collie.
"Can we do something FUN now??!!"
Poor Border Collie! She wants to play. She wants to work. She wants to take a walk. She wants to do ANYTHING but hang out and chew a stupid pig ear!
The sounds of crunching pig ears finally woke Someone up.
Or maybe it wasn't the sound that woke her up. She does possess a Super-Sniffer!
So Bloodhound shuffled up for her pig ear too. Then everyone was happy . . . except Border Collie. She waited. And she waited. And finally she settled down under the kitchen table with a heavy sigh while I ate a bowl of cereal. I have promised her that as soon as I wake up properly, we would play fetch.
In the mean time, she should watch this video and get some ideas of ways to entertain herself . . .
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I go through life with complete confidence that no matter what happens, I can rest in the knowledge that it's "meant to be."
Get to the point! I'm getting there!
Okay, when we first started looking for a cowbred Border Collie, I told the breeder that I wanted a black and white male. He sent me pictures of the two males.
a red & white
and a black & white
I LOVE a split face, so I fell in love with the red & white. I told the breeder I wanted that one. He agreed, and a day later sent me another picture of the puppy. But . . . it wasn't the same puppy! No split face! So I questioned it and he apologized and explained that he accidentally had sent a picture of a female that he planned to keep. I assumed that he meant the most recent photo was a female. A day later he sent me more puppy pictures. Uh oh! I was wrong!
It turned out that the split face puppy was a girl!
The red & white male is actually this puppy:
No cute little split face???? Awwww . . .
At first I sent a note to the breeder and said that because of the misunderstanding, we'd take the black & white pup instead. But something just didn't feel right about it. I talked with Other Half. He was okay with either pup. So I sent the breeder back another note (I'm sure he's convinced I'm a total airhead now!) that I'd be happy to take the little red male instead of the black & white.
Ironically, it turned out that the black & white male sold on Sunday. When I read that, I was realized that this little red guy was meant to come to us. I wouldn't have considered a red if not for the split-face that I fell in love with. Now, the more I look at the reds, the more I like them. So through a series of divine misunderstandings I ended up with a completely different puppy. And I am certain that he will be the perfect puppy for our farm.
After going through all the wonderful suggestions for names of this little guy, I have finally decided on a name. I am a crime scene investigator. I work with trace evidence.
So Ladies & Gentlemen,
Monday, 16 August 2010
I ate one of my lambs this week.
Other Half refuses to eat the lambs or the goats.
While I see them like this:
He sees them like this:
This is an ongoing argument. I want to know where my food comes from. He counters that he does know where his food comes from. It comes from Kroger's!
I argue about the humane treatment of animals. He counters with this comeback which never fails to end the discussion, no matter how accurate my arguments . . .
"I don't want to KNOW my food!"
Sunday, 15 August 2010
Despite their appearance, these are not guinea pigs. They are baby Border Collies. By mid-October, one of them will probably be my baby Border Collie.
After the loss of Kona there was a large gaping hole in my heart. Actually, it was more like a canyon. I began to talk about getting another dog. I began to talk about getting another Belgian. Other Half begged me to get a Border Collie instead. Although the Belgians are wonderful dogs, we aren't doing search & rescue work any more and I'm not doing cadaver work anymore. They are great farm dogs, but what we really need is a bold, reliable cow dog.
Cowboy is fine on calves, but lacks the boldness for the nasty momma cows. He is also dealing with the back problem resulting from the donkey attack before we got him. I doubt his working career will be long. Lily is bred to work cows, LOVES to work cows, and is pretty darned good at working cows, but she is young, and she is little, and she is my best friend. Don't want a cow kicking her tiny hiney in the head. Then I'd lose my best goat dog, my best sheepdog, and my best friend. So as you can imagine, Other Half was all over the idea of getting a cowbred Border Collie.
So I have been researching . . . and guess what I found? Nice working lines. (Internet video is wonderful!)
I found this breeder in Oklahoma. They just happened to have a litter on the ground. Born August 11.
There are two males available . . .
a red & white . . .
and a black & white . . .
(I'm leaning toward the red & white.)
Lily has already given me a list of things she refuses to share with her baby brother:
1) Front seat of Monster Truck
2) The Crevice (area between Mom & Dad in the bed)
Everything else is optional, but she reserves the right at any time to add things to her list.
So now, it is your job to help me come up with puppy names!
* cannot sound like herding commands (come-bye, away, lie-down)
* short - one or two syllable
* cannot sound like: Lily, Briar, Ranger, Ali, or Ice (Zena doesn't care and is highly unlikely to respond anyway.)
Friday, 13 August 2010
Today's adventure is brought to you courtesy of a old "Belgian" friend of mine, Libbye Miller, who raises sheep in Kentucky. When she sent this to me I laughed so hard I almost peed in my pants. So I begged her to let me share it with you! She graciously obliged!
It's probably somewhat telling that for me, the Farm Fresh Blog reads like an episode of "This is Your Life". Because around here things like this happen...
I went down to the barn to feed much later than usual because shockingly, DearHubby and I had actually left the farm together for dinner. There was a lot of milling around and complaining from the flock as I filled the lambs' creep feeder. Toffee, who was particularly incensed about the lateness of service, managed to cram her head through the creep feeder bars and hoover up a bunch of pellets. Soon I heard that peculiar gagging/coughing sound that suggests someone is choking. I looked around and there's Toffee, staggering, foaming at the mouth and looking "not too shiny" (as we say in the south when someone doesn't look well).
Usually they get things unblocked on their own but Toffee was getting increasingly distressed so I grabbed the foal tube (a 7 foot long tube made for passing through the nose and into the stomach of horses) that hangs on the barn for just these occasions and went to work. Did I mention it was nearly dark? And the heat index was 110? And this greedy little pig of a ewe is one of Dear Hubby's favorites?
Toffee gagged and stagged around while I tried to hang onto to the incoherent, foamy slobbery slippery, 150 lb sheep and pass the tube. Sometime during the ensuing melee, she managed to suck the offending wad of pellets deep into her trachea at which time she proceeded to die. Like flat on her side, non responsive fully dilated pupils dead.
If I mention that I'm a vet will it make you feel any better about this next part? Let's hope so. As a totally last resort I ran in the barn and grabbed the scissors I use to cut hay strings. Available at your nearest "Anything for a Buck" store for ...$1. Then, in the dark, sitting in a patch of spiny pigweed in my shorts, I did an emergency tracheotomy. Lo and behold she sucked an explosive gasp of air and started coming around a little. So I'm sitting there with a large semiconscious sheep in my blood, sweat, and sheep spit covered lap. Oh, and I'm holding the hole in her trachea open with my finger and can't let go. Time passes. I sweat profusely and wonder why DearHubby hasn't noticed I haven't shown back up at house. There is cursing. Toffee remains semi-conscious. Finally I decide that she's brain dead from heat stroke and lack of oxygen and I'm just going to have to put her to sleep. Well CRAP.
On the way to the house for some drugs, I meet DearHubby coming to the rescue finally and blubber that I've killed his favorite sheep and he has to help me pick her up so I can take her to the back of the property to the "final resting place for sheep". In this weather, you uhmm, don't want to put this task off. I collect drugs and tell him to wait in front of the barn while I administer the coup de grace. Did I mention that DearHubby is not of the veterinary persuasion? I try to spare him the really gory stuff.
So I walk out to where I left what I assume to be the dead/near dead Toffee.......and she's gone. There's blood and tube and scissors but no sheep. How very odd. I finally spot her out GRAZING WITH THE OTHER SHEEP.This gives new meaning to "Rise and Walk". I figured I should give her some antibiotics and put some fly spy on her neck wound but she's RUNNING AWAY from me. Not that I blame her. I decided we've both had enough stress for one day and leave her to her EATING.
I did catch her up the next morning and treat her wounds. She was just mad that I'd interrupted her grazing. I'm happy to report that's she's made a full recovery. Other than her baa sounds a little raspy.
I put Libbye on the spot and asked her to write a short bio for you!
I married DearHubby in 1979, graduated from vet school in 1982, moved to the farm in Kentucky in 1985 and spent the intervening years getting horses, getting out of horses, and somehow accumulating a flock of around 70 Kathadin/Dorper/What'sMyMoodThisYear sheep. The flock is been ably attended by my beloved Belgian Tervuren Quazar (retired) and his grandson Buzz (current manager of all things ovine). DearHubby's sheltie Eli frequently adds his two cents because that's what shelties do.
In my spare time, I dabble in showing dogs, herding trials, running doggy email lists, and generally making a nuisance of myself around the internet.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Oh dear! The heavy rains this year brought heavy grass. In less than a month, Ona has gained back most of the weight she had lost since I brought her here in May. She and her little fat buddy, Ruffy, have fattened up dangerously on the bounty of pasture. I fear it is time for drastic measures. They have both been taken out of the pasture and placed in a paddock beside the house. Their paddock contains two pecan trees and very little grass. Together with two goats, they share one pat of hay each morning. That's it. They think they're dying.
Other Half calls them "Fat Arses." I prefer to think of them as having been "blessed with more than enough." But before they eat themselves to death, something has to be done. So until we see some changes in girth size, that paddock will contain: two goats, two pecan trees, and two little fat horses.
Postscript: Between the rains, the heat, the mosquitoes, and now her everwidening girth, Ona hasn't even had a chance to pull her new cart! Other Half measured the cart today and Ona's butt is almost bigger than the distance between the shafts! EEGaadds!
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Yesterday was a bad day. She no sooner got home from the vet's and settled in the house than she was viciously attacked by the bathroom cabinet door.
"When can I go back outside again?"
YES! I heard all manner of commotion coming from the bathroom. I scurried over there to find poor Baby Briar had got her collar caught on the cabinet door. Naturally she put it in reverse and then she was solidly stuck. (I would have taken pictures but even I am not that cruel. (and I didn't want her jerking my cabinet door off!)
Fortunately the story had a happy ending. BUT . . . had I not been home (I would have lost a cabinet door) or if she had been in a choke chain, or a collar that twists, Briar would have strangled herself. (shudder)
And THAT is why I spend a little more money and buy sturdy leather collars.
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
A freshly bathed, freshly fluffed Briar slept in the house last night. Early this morning I roused Other Half out of bed so we could load her up in my old Toyota 4Runner for her trip to the vet. It took two of us - and Lily. The air conditioner was already running, so once inside she looked to Border Collie as an example and consequently, settled right down. She rode like she'd been doing it all her life.
To get to the clinic, we must pass through YuppyLand. Briar saw things she'd never seen before - joggers, bicyclists, traffic, convenience stores! It was a whole new world and she gazed upon it with calm interest. Lily slept. She's been there, done that, didn't want the t-shirt.
Once at the vet's clinic, Lily escorted Briar inside.
"Who do we have today?" the receptionist asked.
"Briar, and Briar's Courage," I told her as Lily pranced her tiny hiney into the clinic beside her slinking, hulking companion.
The vet came out to welcome Briar to the clinic. Since she knows him as Uncle Steven, who comes to babysit her, doctor sheep, and milk goats, she wasn't afraid. She went into the kennel and settled down to observe this new world of stainless steel and disinfectant. As soon as the door was closed, her tiny companion forgot about her. We were at the VET'S! The Land Of Cookies & Cream Cheese! Forget Briar! She was on her own!
I signed the form and Lily and I headed home. Several hours later, Briar was ready. Getting her back into the car was another two-person adventure, but once inside, she settled down nicely and watched the world with a placid look on her face. She's really a pretty calm dog. (but then again, maybe that was the drugs!) My only experience with surgery showed me that the effects of anethesia could be worse than the surgery itself. I threw up my toenails. Mindful that Briar may be feeling the same way, I drove like a little old lady on my way back through YuppyLand. This proved a bit much for drivers used to the hustle and bustle of Life in the Fast Lane. YuppyLand is a world of jack rabbit starts where you zoom as fast as you can to reach the next red light. Turns are to be made sharply and a high speeds so as not to break the flow of traffic. Briar and I simply don't fit in. Briar threw up. I drove even more slowly. The trip home was an adventure.
Let me first explain that no one died. I am a cop in the 4th largest city in the country. I straddle dead men for a living. I carry a Smith & Wesson. I am NOT likely to be intimidated by a Little League Dad in a Lincoln Navigator.
Sooooo . . . Forget about the dog. Beware of the owner!
But I will leave you with this thought - before you get in such a hurry that you attempt to bully another driver on the road, be aware that the driver may be carrying a nauseous dog who just had surgery . . . and they may be armed . . . and they may not be scared of you.
Briar came home . . .
(I make no apologies for "Driving Miss Daisy.")
Monday, 09 August 2010
Tomorrow we have an appointment to get Briar spayed. I dread it. Perhaps that is why I've put it off for so long, thus allowing her to grow to the size of a St. Bernard before her first trip to the vet. YES! I said it! Her FIRST trip to the vet! Now before you string me up for being a bad Doggy Mommy, let me point out that our vet lives less than 500 yards from my front gate. He is married to one of my dearest friends. In short, Doc does house calls. He has seen Baby Briar since she was still wild enough that she had to be "captured" in the sheep stall. Now she is large enough to put muddy pawprints on his shoulders.
And it's time to get her spayed. In fact, it's well past time to get her spayed. They charge by the SIZE of the dog, ya know! You would think that I'd have spayed her when she was the size of a small brick shithouse, but no! I had to wait until she was the size of a Volkswagon bus. Also keep in mind, that unlike all the other dogs around here, except for the ride over here, Briar has NEVER been on a car ride! AND . . . to further complicate things, except for when she was small enough to manhandle onto the kitchen counter and put in the kitchen sinks (yes, it took two sinks to fit her!) she has never had a bath.
Again, before you lynch me, let me hasten to point out that Briar is a Livestock Guardian Dog. She is supposed to be with the sheep 24/7 with little or no contact with humans. Her parents were fed from a self-feeder. As a puppy, she had to be "kidnapped" and captured with leather gloves. Apparently many livestock guardian dogs work out quite well with this method. As we have already established however, "I" am a softie. I like to play with her. Plus, I need a dog that is a bit safer than a large, white, unsocialized mountain with teeth. My sheep are handled daily and other people are often over here. I cannot have Briar eating my mother, my friends, or my Border Collie. So Briar is fairly well-socialized as far as Livestock Guardian Dogs go.
As far as the average ranch dog goes, Briar is wilder than a March hare. All my dogs are obedience trained and happily fight to ride in the truck. Even Blue Heeler, who is crazier than a Mad Hatter, has logged many miles riding across Texas. A leash is their ticket to adventure. Unfortunately, because of my laziness, Briar doesn't know what a leash is. (I know! I'm a bad Doggy Mommy!)
The reason I kept putting off getting Briar spayed was because I really wanted to get Briar used to car rides and leashes BEFORE she went to the vet. But alas, that hasn't happened. And because she spends so much time in the nasty pond, she needed a bath.
I embarked on that little adventure this afternoon and dearly fear that our experience with the bath is setting the stage for my whole tomorrow . . .
Collect shampoo, leash and water hose. (Note Bloodhound observes this collection and run to the barn. The last I saw of her was floppy ears and skin waving goodbye.)
Blue Heeler and Border Collie see waterhose and begin to dance and scream for the much-loved Hose Battle.
Slip lead around Briar's neck. She is unconcerned. (Perhaps Momma wants to brush her and check for ticks. She LOVES to be checked for ticks!)
Lead White Mountain to water hose. The dust has barely settled from Bloodhound's blazing trip to the barn. Briar is still unconcerned.
Pick up hose. Briar is unconcerned. Border Collie and Blue Heeler are poised with anticipation. (I should have sold tickets.) Turn on water. For a moment, nothing happens. I actually allow myself to undulge in the pleasant surprise, but this little slice of nirvana is jerked away as I suddenly find myself propelled across the porch like a kite on a string. Briar is not quite as fast to process things as Border Collie and thus it took a moment for the experience to sink in.
Decide that perhaps flip-flops were not the best choice in footwear. Drop water hose. Border Collie and Blue Heeler are delighted. This has exceeded their expectations. They happily chase the water spray across the porch as I struggle to reel in Briar like a marlin on a line. Suddenly Briar drops like a sullen cow. ("Just kill me and get it over with!")
Since this New Briar is much easier to deal with than Marlin Briar, I hurry to grab water hose and start again. She is now completely passive - a giant beached Beluga whale. I soap her up and do the rub-a-dub-dub thing. She is unimpressed with my singing voice and is waiting to die. Border Collie and Blue Heeler wait patiently. They are certain that the rodeo will begin again and soon the water hose will be free for another battle. As Briar waits to die, I rinse her.
When I am satisfied that all the soap is out, I stretch my back and drop the leash. She takes the opportunity to dart through doggy door and into house. I follow the unique trail of wet pawprints and the wet leash she is still dragging. Thank God for tile flooring. Trail leads through kitchen into den into bedroom, through bathroom loop and back into den again. I follow this wet trail for a minute but am completely perplexed. No Briar? Where is Briar?
Follow trail through house again. No Briar? How does something the size of a Greyhound Bus hide in a 3 bedroom house?
Follow trail again. No Briar! German Shepherd is sprawled across my bed though. (make mental note to move the ottoman so Hairy Old Dog cannot climb onto clean bed.) Check house again. Still no Briar. Call her. (Duh! In what dream world was THAT gonna happen?) Check under bed. Nope.
Decide to use Crime Scene Investigator Skills and follow water trail through house AGAIN! This time note that on one pass through the den, tracks led into front foyer WHERE THERE IS ANOTHER DOGGY DOOR! This leads to front yard. Open front door.
Find Briar wallowing in the sand. Like Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, she stands up. Sand and shavings are now stuck to her coat. Pick up wet, yucky leash that is now coated in dirt. Pull Straining Heifer back through front door. Briar sees Back Door Doggy Door and lunges for the light. I drop leash before I am dragged through doggy door with her. Border Collie and Blue Heeler are delighted with this afternoon matinee showing of "When Good Dogs Go Bad.")
Meet Briar on back porch and drag her to hose again. Wonder how to explain back injury at the office. (No really, I was dragged through a doggy door.") Dog decides to become Sullen Cow again but sand is so thick in her coat that I make decision to let it dry and brush it out. Turn off hose. Sullen Cow perks up. Border Collie and Blue Heeler are disappointed that show is over.
But I am reminded that this is not the show, this is just the preview. The show is tomorrow when I try to stuff her into a car. Why, oh why, did I not spay this dog when she was big enough to fit in two kitchen sinks?
Sunday, 08 August 2010
"I hate Border Collies!"
"They are mean to cows."
"Border Collies suck!"
But today . . . I got revenge on the Border Collies!
"Look at this damn Border Collie! Hiding from cows like a snake in tha water."
"See tha innocent cow comin'."
"tha Border Collie, he jump outta da water!"
"freakin' Border Collie! I hate 'em!"
"I jus' snapped!"
"U gonna DIE Border COLLIE! You cain't git outta this pasture!"
"Run DOG! RUN!"
"If I ketch you, you stoopid DOG . . ."
"You better GIT back on dat damned 4-Wheeler!"
(This broadcast and the substandard photographs brought to you by the Chick-fil-A Cows, coming out in support of abused cattle in ranches everywhere.)
Friday, 06 August 2010
We weaned goats this week. Briar has been #1 Goat Babysitter. This morning Border Collie (and a bucket of grain) loaded them into the trailer for their journey to the sale barn. Even though I know they are raised for food, I still hate that part of raising goats.
Briar does too.
Border Collie doesn't care.
She is only concerned about getting the goats loaded and unloaded.
Life is much simpler for Border Collie than it is for Briar and me.
Thursday, 05 August 2010
Despite the fact that Other Half accuses me of turning every animal on the farm into a pet, there is someone who is a softer touch than me. (I KNOW! Can you even believe it?!!)
That someone regularly comes over to bring farm fresh eggs to the dogs . . .
My mother lives in a small house in my front pasture. There she raises a few chickens and keeps a watch on the farm while I'm at work. And from there . . . she spoils my critters even worse than I do. (The dogs already expect an egg EVERY day! But hey! With all those dogs around, she is the safest Grandma in the County!) Today it came to my attention that Ancient Arabian Stallion has the perfect gig worked out. He goes to the handicapped ramp of her back deck and paws the boards. She comes out and feeds him an apple. What a little beast!
Today I witnessed this exchange from my side of the fence. Stallion came to her back gate and announced that he wished to be allowed access to her back yard. And this is what I saw . . .
Now I ask you, "Who spoils the farm animals around here?"
"Don't forget ME, Grandma! Don't forget ME!!!"
(P.S. My mother will never forgive me for posting pictures of her in a nightgown on the internet!)
Wednesday, 04 August 2010
Kona's death and the subsequent packing away of his things (more tears . . .) had me exploring both his training log and the that of Bloodhound, who is also in poor health. Alice the Bloodhound has taught me humility. Before I got Alice I had trained all manner of working dogs, but I had never trained a Hound. My rationale was "I've trained dogs all my adult life, how hard can it be to train a Bloodhound?"
Oh dear . . . Pride goeth before the fall.
Alice's sole job in life was to be a mantrailing Bloodhound - she hunted people. She was bred to do that and it came as easy to her as waking up in the morning. But try to train her to do ANYTHING ELSE but mantrailing and you were setting yourself up for a humbling experience. She is HIGLY INTELLIGENT, but trainablility is another issue entirely. Simple obedience tasks were beyond her. I just "thought" I was a dog trainer until I met Alice. She humbled me, and she has taught me how to train the dogs that aren't "hardwired to please." So for two years I worked with her. She taught me to trail and I tried to teach her obedience and simple agility skills. I was astonished with how easily this puppy ran tracks. At 14 weeks old she was running 24 hour old 1/4 mile trails with crosstracks, but two years later she still had no reliable obedience skills. Then my Great Dog died. Navarre, The Great One, passed away and I was left to start over again with a new cadaver dog puppy. And THAT led me to my greatest breakthrough!
How To Teach a Belgian To Fetch:
1) Throw the ball
1) Throw the ball for 2 years and watch her look at it with no interest whatsoever.
There is a reason why Kona's nicknames were "Attila The Hun" and "The Enforcer." He was a ruthless little beast, even as a puppy. This same bold desire to get ahead in life is probably what kept him alive four months after the vet found he was in renal failure and only gave him a month to live.
Monday, 02 August 2010
Navarre passed away two weeks before Baby Kona stepped off the airplane. I had hoped that Navarre could help me train Kona, but alas, twas not to be . . .
When Baby Kona arrived, he had a very big Search & Rescue vest to fill, since he inherited Navarre's vest, and with it, the King's Crown.
And even though I horribly missed Navarre, Kona proved to be a delightfully charming and clever pup. Sometimes that's the only thing that kept me from killing him . . .
Come home from work after midnight in cold rain.
Note that Faithful Pup is at the back gate to greet you. Bend over wooden gate and allow Faithful Pup to give "puppy kisses." Kiss puppy back. Ruminate on how much you love puppy.
Note with pride that Clever Pup is learning to bring his toys as "presents" to welcome you home. Run through mental rolodex in head and try to classify the toy he is currently bringing you. Recoil in horror as toy turns out to be a very plump, very dead, rat.
Curse cat for leaving rat where Clever And Faithful Pup could get it. Realize that Hunting cat has been shut in spare bedroom and probably did not kill this rat. Note that there is the slight possibility that Clever And Faithful Pup killed Slow-Witted Fat Rat.
See how proud puppy is as he chomps rat with delight and prances around to show you his rat. Mentally race through options of how to remove rat from puppy's mouth. Quickly delete option of touching rat with hands.
Ponder how to get in door without puppy and rat. Realize that due to doggy door and relatively dry puppy, rat has probably already been inside kitchen. Sigh and open door to go inside. Watch in disgust as delighted Clever And Faithful Pup proudly chomps on rat and brings it to you. Realize that you are still clueless as to how to remove rat from pup without touching it. Weigh wisdom of giving pup a treat to trade for this prize, (since that is obviously what he is shooting for . . .) because you know that if pup drops rat to eat treat, you will still have a dead rat in the kitchen.
Walk dogs to barn where there are rakes and shovels. Note Clever And Faithful Pup happily chomping rat. Note Sullen Bloodhound who is wishing she had a dead rat to chomp on . . .
Spill cat food on barn floor and watch as Clever And Faithful Pup drops rat to vacuum up cat food. See Bloodhound scoop up dead rat. Mentally kick self for not adding that into equation. See rest of dog pack race in to vacuum up cat food. See Bloodhound drop rat in cold rain to get her share of cat food. Sigh with relief.
Quickly scoop up dead rat with barn rake and sling it into horse paddock. Feed horses who are now wide awake and demanding some retribution for this midnight intrusion.
Go back to house and give puppy and entire apple to rid him of "rat cooties" ("an apple a day chases the rat cooties away!") Give other three dogs an apple in case they have rat cooties too.
Walk into bedroom closet to get pajamas. Turn on light. Recoil several feet back upon seeing unidentified object on dog bed in closet. Kick self when you realize that purple felt bone in no way resembles a dead rat.
Take a shower and wash face. Wash face again. Contemplate scrubbing kitchen floor and brushing puppy's teeth. Realize that 1:00 AM is not a good time to introduce puppy to toothbrush.
Sit down at computer. Reluctantly welcome Clever And Faithful Pup as he crawls into your lap. Note that he now has "apple breath." Refuse to allow him to kiss you because you can still vividly recall him chomping on dead rat.
Realize how much you love Clever And Faithful Pup as he settles down beside desk and sighs with contentment. All is well in his little world. Decide that Cuteness is actually a Defense Mechanism to keep you from killing him.
Monday, 02 August 2010
The temperatures have climbed into the triple digits now and so yesterday we took a break from farm work to run the boat a little. Never one to overlook any opportunity to include my dog, I voted for bringing the Border Collies. They also voted to bring the Border Collies, so Other Half agreed. As is always the case whenever you deal with boats, there was a great deal involved with "getting ready." Part of this was an intensive search on my part for Lily's life jacket. (YES! My dog has her own life jacket! Don't laugh at me! Not only is it hard to replace a good ranch dog, but Other Half's life would be miserable if I lost this dog! Soooo . . . she wears a life jacket when she's in the boat. Nuff said!)
After much ado, the boat was in the water, the truck and trailer were parked and it was time to go! Thing 1 and Thing 2 were quite excited.
Cowboy loves to ride the 4wheeler around the pastures. He had been told about this Water-4wheeler and was particularly anxious to try it. Lily is always ready to try anything. Fun is her middle name.
But wait . . .
"Is there a problem with the Water-4Wheeler?"
(there was much cussing . . .)
"Uh oh . . ."
(Thing 1 and Thing 2 have heard these words before when Other Half talks to the broken lawnmower, and the tractor . . .)
The gravity of the situation begins to sink in for Cowboy.
"No Water-4Wheeler rides???"
"No Water-4Wheeler rides . . . "
Lily refused to allow the lack of Water-4Wheeler rides ruin her fun. Her world is always a happy place. As long as the sun comes up in the morning, it's a good day for Lily. She makes her own fun and takes it with her!
Lily has the World on a String!
Or at least . . .
She has Cowboy on a string!
So while Other Half fought with the boat motor and Lily entertained herself, Cowboy stared wistfully . . .
. . . and watched other dogs ride Water-4Wheelers.
Sunday, 01 August 2010
Forgive me Father, for I have sinned . . .
I caused Other Half to tell falsehoods on my behalf . . .
(And it all comes down to goats . . . again.)
It's time to wean some goats.
It's time to sell some goats.
After they completely stripped the bark off a lemon tree, Other Half persuaded me to sell ALL the goats and concentrate on the sheep. After all, pound for pound, the goats are more trouble and the sheep put on weight faster.
This hulking creature was born on January 1.
It's hard to beat the growth rate of these Dorpers.
Thus far, the Dorper sheep have outperformed the Boer goats. They are easier on the fences and not nearly as clever. But I've had a hard time biting the bullet and getting rid of ALL my goats. Despite their nature, I rather like the little beasts - they keep me humble and teach me new cuss words.
But nevertheless, I placed an ad for all the goats - as individuals or a package deal. There was an immediate response for the Package Deal. I made Other Half talk to him. He argued that they were MY goats, thus "I" should talk to the man. I've always done this in the past and I hate it. So I informed him that men deal better with men and HE should make the arrangements. (while I armchair quarterbacked . . .)
From my end of the room, it soon became clear that this was another "mini-van deal." (been there, done that, hated every minute of it) The man planned to pack all the goats in a vehicle together and drive them back to the city where I'm sure he would slit their throats that afternoon. SCREECH!!!!
I had no problem with the boys being eaten. They are males, that's what they're raised for. But the does are former show goats and proven producers. I didn't want them slaughtered and on a barbecue pit if I could avoid it. Thus . . . I nixed the whole deal . . . leaving poor Other Half to explain to the man that HE himself had made a mistake and since these were show goats his wife was now tripping out and refused to sell them. Sorry for the error. (He was not happy with me.)
Eegaads . . . I felt bad. But not bad enough to allow my girls to have their throats cut.
Soooo . . . I'm still weaning goats this afternoon anyway, but I've decided to keep the does and take the boys to the sale barn next week. Unless of course, the girls piss me off sometime between now and then. (If I'm not careful, Other Half may sell ME at the sale barn next week!)
"I wouldn't let that happen, Mom."