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Farm Fresh Blog
Monday, 31 January 2011
Why I like Sheep better than Cattle -
As a rule, sheep don't try to kill you. The same cannot be said for cattle. Other Half is a cow man. Like most of his kind, he has an ingrained prejudice against sheep and sheep people. Cow people tend to hold themselves above sheep people. I haven't quite figured this out since my sheep have never tried to kill me and yet, cattle seem to do this on a semi-regular basis. Take Saturday night:
Come home from work to discover that despite the fact that Other Half had INSISTED he and Son would be working cattle EARLY in the day, he has STILL not done it. In fact, he has planned to wait until I get home. Now one would think that this meant he valued my in-put. Apparently such was not the case.
1) Separate new red calf with cough, shoot him up with antibiotics, tag his ear
Note that little red calf and his mama are already eating hay in the catch pen. Woo hoo! Half that battle is done! Cut out his mama and close pipe panel in his face. He is upset. His mother is enraged. Note that Big Red Mama Cow has plans on stomping us into mud if she can get back into the catch pen. Son catches calf. Calf bawls. Rodeo begins. Appreciate the fact that Son is Big & Strong as he flips calf on its side. Wham! Bam! Thank you! Ma'am! Calf is done. Turn him back with his Mama.
Now the real rodeo begins . . .
Note Black Mama has nasty stringy afterbirth hanging from her butt. Note that she is ignoring her baby. Looks like someone better shape up or she will find herself at the sale barn. Cut Mama out and put her in catch pen. She is still ignoring her baby. Baby walks up to catch pen to talk with her. She vaguely recalls that she had a baby several days ago. "Oh yeah, it's you again."
He toddles back to the herd.
Ask Other Half EXACTLY how he plans to get cow cleaned up. He informs me that he will simply rope her, put bull tongs in her nose, whereupon she will hold still while he works.
I argue that this is impossible. I point out that once he ropes this cow, she will go apeshit, he will be flipped around like a monkey on a string, AND the cow will end up kicking the shit out of him. It seemed to be a quite logical conclusion to me, but then, I'm a girl. . . and a sheep person. I pointed out that since we have no stocks or squeeze chute over here, we could MAKE one by undoing the pipe panel corral and "oooch" it toward the roped cow, thus pinning her against the board fence where we could safely work.
And there it was . . .
The dividing line between men and women. The point where the man decides that he knows it all and dismisses the woman.
And he so does.
He ropes Big Black Cow. She bawls and the rodeo commences. I stand on the fence and watch. It is midnight. I am calculating how long the wait at the Emergency Room will take. She finally calms down a bit but refuses to allow him to put bull tongs in her nose. (Sista ain't no fool!) But in time however, the two men get bull tongs on the enraged cow. She is snubbed to the fence and everyone re-groups. I point out that she is still VERY DANGEROUS because she can kick the snot out of anyone who plans on getting near her rear end. (and perhaps we should move the panels and pin her against the fence.)
In what universe? This bawling, slobbering, angry creature in no way resembles a show cow anymore. In fact, she looks very much like a wild animal plucked out of the swamps of the South Texas Lowlands. This is NOT A HAPPY ANIMAL.
He ignores my warning.
Cow is swishing her tail back and forth. Cow is VERY ANGRY.
He ignores her warning.
With Son holding tightly on the bull tong chain, Other Half scooches up to Angry Cow's Ass.
And she kicks the shit out of him.
The sound of ripping blue jeans tears through the night. Other Half bellows and limps away. I stand there in silence. Son and I exchange looks. He is putting weight on it, so it must not be broken. Maybe . . . hopefully. We examine the leg and it looks bad. Bad, but not broken. And in the world of working cattle, that means - get back to work.
But guess what!
He decides that perhaps, just perhaps, it might be easier to take panels apart and ooch them forward to press cow against board fence. (No sh*#, Sherlock!) I cannot stand it. I point out that WASN"T THAT WHAT "I" SAID?? He allows as how that's where he got the idea.
So we do that. And wonder of wonders - it works. Other Half pulls lots of stringy, rotten, afterbirth from cow's butt. I give her injection of antibiotics. We release Ungrateful Cow who scampers back to herd. She barely notices her calf. (This young lady may well find herself at the sale barn.)
As we walk back to the barn, I point out, rather loudly, that I deeply resent it when he blows me off and disregards my advice when working large animals. I further point out that Men do jobs with the BRAWN, but Women must do the same jobs using their BRAINS. Son finds this conversation vastly amusing. Other Half just nods and limps off.
But at least he said the words I needed to hear . . .
"Okay . . . you were right. And I was wrong."
Music to my ears. And that's why I like sheep better than cattle.
Saturday, 29 January 2011
I have absolutely nothing to say in my defense. I stand over dead people for a living. But still . . .
It was a typical winter morning in Texas. The temperatures were mild. There was standing water in the yard. And more rain is predicted for tonight. The morning was spent dealing with new lambs and moving hay, thus, it took me a while to notice. But there were signs . . .
There was this.
Each time I popped into the house I saw her. Secret is the house cat, so that shouldn't have been unusual. Thus, it didn't ring any bells.
There was this:
As I went about my business outside, she tagged along at a distance. But Faith is a barn cat, so that didn't ring any bells either.
But sometime during the day, I had a thought:
Why am I seeing Secret and Faith? They should be locked up in the Cat Room.
(fail to hear the ominous music playing in the background)
Secret, the house cat, rarely goes outside. Faith, the Barn Cat, loves to come inside, but because her bathroom habits aren't to be trusted, when I do give in she is relegated to a spare bedroom that hasn't been re-tiled yet - The Cat Room. If she happens to stand in the litter box, and poop OUTSIDE the litter box, it isn't a tragedy. Most of her life is spent outside, but when it is cold and wet, she begs to come inside. And last night, I gave in.
So I asked myself that little question, but shrugged it off. Perhaps "I" had opened the door and didn't remember it. I am often a victim of GHS - Gray Hair Syndrome.
But then . . . I passed the doorway and the door was closed. Hmmmm . . . a mystery.
So I opened the door. The sliding window above the daybed was wide open. The screen had been pulled aside. How odd . . . I walked across the room to investigate this further. The lock swung easily in place. Ahhh . . . Faith has been known to use her paws like fingers, thus, it wasn't a stretch to see that Faith jiggled the lock, slid open the window, popped the screen and let herself (and Secret) outside. Secret must have come back inside through the doggy door which is a task Faith has yet to master. Mystery solved. So I turned to leave the room. I still had a full day of farm work ahead of me before I actually went to the office. And that's when I glanced down. (and that's when the music from "Pyscho" started)
I screamed. I screamed like a little girl. I screamed and danced in place. I screamed and danced and pointed. Dogs came running. They observed this odd ritual with great interest. Why do I bother to scream? I see horrid stuff all the time. (Of course, it's not usually IN MY HOUSE!) When the screeching finally subsided, and I could catch my breath, I ran for the camera, because that's what I do. I take pictures of gross and disgusting things, and this certainly topped the chart.
. . .
. . .
. . .
. . .
Saturday, 29 January 2011
Remember this ewe?
- the ewe who held onto her babies so long
I was ready to take her to the mall for some mall-walking!
This Ewe has a public service announcement:
Good Morning, Bi-peds!
Everything in its own time . . .
Thursday, 27 January 2011
I spend a lot of time looking at sheep butts.
Now before you call the authorities and have me hauled off, let me explain. I like "tending" sheep. I enjoy walking out among my little charges, sipping my coffee, while I look for signs of impending births, impending problems, and anything else that happens to catch my eye.
Briar and I compare notes.
Take this ewe for instance.
Because I don't have an exact date on when she should be due, I've been waiting on Big Mamma here to deliver for a month. Thus, I spend a lot of time staring at her butt. She is the lead ewe. While she is not the exact picture of what I'd like to breed for, she has the right temperament, and she throws nice hulking babies. This ewe is the calm voice of reason among the flock. (if it can be said that sheep EVER possess a voice of reason) Because of this, I named her "Maa."
Not every sheep has a name. Some are just sheep - nameless, faceless butts, in a sea of black and white. But some are special.
I enjoy spending time walking among them with their Great White Dog. Time slows down as I listen to them graze, peace settles on the pasture . . . and in my soul.
Clouds pass overhead and I have romantic notions of what life must have been like for shepherds who spent most of their time alone, tending their flock. I swallow that last drop of coffee and walk back to the house, quite aware that if I were freezing my ass off in a Wyoming winter with those shepherds right now, the image would not be nearly as romantic.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Marshal is an Anatolian Shepherd. (Don't get excited, he's not mine!) Dear Friend just bought Baby Marshal. She and Vet Husband raise turkeys and chickens.
Last year they also had goats. Last year coyotes ate one of the goats.
Enter Marshal . . .
When Marshal grows up, that won't happen again. Marshal will be big. Big! BIG! (Bigger than Briar!) Since Marshal is a baby, he needs a livestock family now, so Briar loaned Marshal some of her goats and sheep.
Marshal knew what goats were because his breeder had goats.
But WHAT IS THAT??!!!!!
Sheep were definitely NOT in Marshal's databanks. At first he ran back to Mom . . .
. . . and they studied sheep together.
Sheep are definitely NOT goats.
But Marshal soon moved off to study sheep on his own.
Nope. I don't think that the coyotes will eat anything in Marshal's pasture when he grows up. Do you?
He kinda reminds me of someone else I used to know. Remember this little girl?
My! My! My! What a difference a year makes!
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
Forced bedrest gives you lots of time to think. Yesterday afternoon I had an epiphany as I stared at the cobwebs on the ceiling fan. This will not come as a surprise to fans of The Briar Patch, but believe it or not, this Big White Dog has quite a following. Other Half is still shaking his head in amazement. I told him that he won't think it's funny when that Big White Dog brings home a paycheck. I finally decided to follow the advice of so many of you and do a Children's book about Briar & Roanie.
Last night I waded through all the photos I've taken of Briar from the tiny puppy to the smiling mountain she has become. After I select the photos, then I'll write the picture book text around them. At that point, we'll begin the laborious task of finding an agent interested in the tale (tail!) of a Big White Dog and an Injured Sheep. Wish us luck!
Monday, 24 January 2011
. . . there are no sick days, there is simply a shifting of priorities. Normally you are concerned with feeding everyone, turning everyone out, making sure no one gets eaten by the coyotes, etc. When you are sick, you are doing good to get everyone fed. Here's how it works:
Thursday: wake up with wretched headache. Decide that it will go away. Pop some Advil and go to work. Buy Dayquil and Nyquil at convenience store on way home from work. Guzzle Nyquil and go to bed.
Friday: Wake up to head that feels like a football on Superbowl Sunday. Take Dayquil. Go to work. Warn co-workers to stay away. We are a small, specialized unit. Six people for the entire metroplex. With each cough I become more aware of the fact that I am infecting the entire unit. Assure myself that this is the worst day and tomorrow will be better.
Saturday: I lied. Tomorrow is not better. Tomorrow is now Today, and it sucks. Am coughing up a lung. Running a fever. There is a growing mountain of Kleenex on the night stand (dog kennel beside the bed) Accept the fact that I am sick. Realize there is NO WAY I can go to work without infecting EVERYONE. Call in sick. Feed livestock. No new lambs. Turn sheep out. Go back to bed. Send Other Half to store for Musinex. Other Half returns with Musinex , Kleenex, and a stuffed animal. (Awwwwwww . . . ) Then he goes to work.
Throw all dogs outside. Plan to sleep all day. Dogs are barking at everything that moves. Turn on television to drown out barking dogs. Dogs bark louder. Dogs are fence-fighting with Mother's dog next door. Finally drag out of bed, fling open patio door and scream at top of lungs "Shut up! Shut up! Shut the *#@! up, you stupid dogs!"
(This is how the people across the road learn new words.)
Dogs are momentarily silent. I slam patio door and go back to bed. Turn on heating pad. Go to sleep. Other Half calls to make sure I haven't died. Stumble to kitchen to make a bowl of cereal. Collapse in cushy chair in front of television. Stare at television in a stupor. Cough through two hours of Sex In The City. Bring dogs in house. Go back to bed while watching television. Listen to Livestock Guardian Dog bark for FOUR SOLID HOURS! If she is locked in barn, she cannot protect rams, but she will shut up. By the end of the fourth hour, decide that I do not care if the rams are eaten by coyotes. I HAVE GOT TO GET SOME SLEEP! Lock Briar in barn. Go back to bed. Forget to put Baby Border Collie Trace in his kennel. Wake up to discover that he has pooped all over the hallway and has fingerpainted in it. Clean up hallway. At least I cannot smell the poop that is smeared all over the tile.
While I am cleaning up hallway, he poops in living room. Want to sit down and cry, but because of constant running nose, am so dehydrated that there are no tears. Throw Trace outside into kennel on back porch. Go back to bed. Finally get to sleep. Other Half comes home from work and begins to gripe about poor little Trace, in the cold, on the back porch. I am not the picture of sympathy. He's not sick. He chose to poop in the house. I roll over and go back to sleep. Hear him yell at Trace for peeing in the living room. Get some morbid sense of satisfaction out of that. Go back to bed.
Sunday: Wake up and throw dogs outside. Stumble out to see if coyotes got rams. Nope. Good. Go back to bed. Wake up to phone ringing. Roll over to see who would call at this gawdawful early time in the morning. It is 11:30 am. Uh oh! Dear Friend has new Anatolian Shepherd puppy and wants to come get the Boer goat does that I promised to loan her for his socialization training. Stumble out of bed. Feed Very Hungry Very Indignant Farm. Put dog collars on confused goats. Let sheep out. Accidentally let Trace in with sheep while letting Briar in with sheep. Call puppy. He ignores me to go gather sheep. Consider shooting myself and going back to bed. People on Nyquil should not match wits with Border Collie Puppies. Finally get puppy captured and thrust him back through fence.
Dear Friend and Husband come for goats. Try not to cough on them. Put leashes on goats and lead them with a bucket of feed across pasture, down the fence line and into their new pasture. Baby Anatolian puppy says hello. Awwwww . . . They are not impressed. Watch long enough to determine that goats will not hurt puppy and puppy will not hurt goats. Go back to bed. Wake up hungry. Wake Other Half up and insist he make me pork chops. Wonder of wonders - he does.
Feel better with food in belly. Other Half demands to know why there are no vitamins in house. I argue that I do not like to take pills and would rather get my vitamins in my food. Other Half scoffs, "Chocolate?" (That was mean. You shouldn't be mean to sick people.)
Send Other Half to work. Water rams and ponies. Note that Little Red Monster Pony is down. Colic? Sleeping? Go check him out. Definitely colic. Severe abdominal pain. Call Other Half. Banamine is in the fridge. Call Dear Friend. Need help giving Beast injection because he is a Half-Pint Monster. No answer. Walk down road. She is gone but Vet Husband is home. Pennies from Heaven. Walk back down with vet. Try not to cough on him. He holds Ruffy while I give injection. No rodeo. (Monster does these things to make a liar out of me.) Put ear on his gut to listen for gut sounds. He tries to kick me in the face. Ahhh.... there's the Monster! In a feat of athletic prowess that surprises me, I catch his hoof in my hand as he attempts to smash my face. Wow! Listen again while I hold his hoof in the air. He tries to kick me again. Hear no gut sounds. Get turkey baster and pump Little Monster full of Pepto Bismal. Now he has a reason to be angry. His lips are pink.
Walk Devil Pony up and down roadway until banamine takes effect. When his gut finally relaxes, put him back out in paddock where he and other pony begin to play. O.K. Thank Vet profusely. Hope I have not infected him. Go back to bed. Phone Other Half for update. He agrees to call every two hours to wake me up to check on Devil Pony. True to his word, he does.
Ruffy is not happy to see me. He makes it clear that unless I come bearing cookies instead of Pepto Bismal, I can take a hike. I remind him that if his hoof had connected with my head earlier, Other Half would have let a Certain Red Monster die of colic. He is not impressed. But he is alive, and that's all I care about, so I go back to bed. This is repeated every two hours until Other Half comes home from work.
Have six (6!!!!) uninterrupted hours of sleep! Border Collie #1 (Lily) wakes me up to inform me that everyone with 4 legs has to pee and they would very much like me to drag my butt out of bed to open the patio door for them. Stumble to the door. It is pouring down raining. Why me, Lord? Dearly, dearly want to go back to bed, but must check on Monster Pony and Ewe-About-To-Pop. Ewe has no babies. Pony is standing in stall, forcing his companion to stand out in the rain. He is very much back to his normal self.
Stand in rain, looking at Grumpy Ungrateful Pony and wonder what people who live in subdivisions do when they get sick.
To read more about Ruffy:
Friday, 21 January 2011
Hyacinth bulbs in my kitchen window
They permeate the entire house with a sweet floral smell. (When you have a Bloodhound, every little bit helps!)
Unfortunately, I can't smell them. I have a head cold. There is never a convenient time for a head cold. Other Half is working overtime, the temperatures are freezing, we're already running short on hay, I have another pregnant ewe that simply refuses to drop her baby, and I've almost eaten an entire pound cake in three days. Calories don't count if you're blowing your nose every 2 minutes. Right? Besides, when you're sick you should eat fruit. Am I right? Since strawberries are a fruit, I choose to eat strawberry shortcake! Please don't remind me of this the next time I'm whining about how fat I'm getting . . . I put a half a stick of butter in that pound cake!
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
After everything this ewe has been through, it's hard not get sentimental about her, and in turn, it's hard not to get sentimental about her babies. Because they belong to Roanie, we decided to keep them as wethers and use them to work the dogs. They have been christened "Macaroni" and "Ricearoni" since their mother is "Roanie."
Not only did Roanie survive the dog attack, she gained the use of her leg again. She was Briar's friend in a pasture of sheep, who at best, ignored the puppy. And now, Roanie has twins. Today was their first day out with the rest of the flock and Roanie had definite hesitations about taking them out of the barn.
After a few false starts, where she teased them with glimpses of The Great Outdoors, only to return them to the sheep pen, she finally took a breath and headed through the alley to the Lamb Paddock.
They had to pass goats . . . and . . .
. . . navigate the giant mud puddle.
Once in the Lamb Paddock, although it was mild and sunny, there were still large patches of standing water. Poor Ricearoni hesitated as his mother and brother plowed across one.
"MOM! Come back!"
His cry called some of the other lambs, who hustled over to check out the new kid on the block.
But Roanie (with Macaroni in tow) splashed back through the water and informed the older lambs to "Get away from my baby!"
One little guy took repeated head butts before he got the message. (He's not the brightest crayon in the box.)
But eventually, they shuffled along their way.
Not only is she a survivor, Roanie is a very attentive mother. I wish we had a dozen more ewes like this mis-matched little sheep.
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
We have 9 dogs - old dogs, new dogs, working dogs, retired dogs. But just because we have bright-eyed promising pups, it doesn't mean that we don't love the retired dogs with cloudy eyes and gray muzzles. Alice the Bloodhound is my Gollum-Dog. Like Gollum in Lord Of The Rings, she skulks around in her world of darkness, a creature repulsive to others. Tumors are erupting over most of her body and the ordinary rank smell of Bloodhound is magnified by a nasty yeast smell. She is blind and her front teeth are worn down by bouts of near constant chewing. For years, she has lived on antibiotics and steroids. We have tried every dog food, shampoo and ear wash on the market to no avail. We have tried every home remedy on the internet. Things that used to work no longer control her skin problems, and now at her age, I'm leery of even putting anything new into her system.
I looked at her yesterday. I can smell Alice before I can even see her. She has raw red tumors popping through the skin like volcanoes. They don't appear to hurt. She has a hearty appetite and eats more than Briar, yet she's skin and bones. She lives in a world of darkness and cloudy shadows, but she's happy. Alice navigates the back yard like a bat in the night. The pack doesn't pick on her. In fact, they dote on her like a grumpy old grandmother. They clean her ears, clean her eyes, and clean the oozing tumors. (Eegaads! YUCK! GROSS!) No one dares to get close to her food bowl.
Yet I look at her condition and I cannot help but wonder if we should put her down. Her tumors have tumors. In the past, I've always said that if a dog is still happy and has a hearty appetite, then it's not time, but perhaps I was wrong about Alice. After looking at her volcano tumors again yesterday, I picked up the phone to call Dear-Friend-Married-To-Vet. They will honestly advise me so that I don't let sentiment lead to neglect. So I phoned Dear Friend, and as I walked into the kitchen, I saw The Most Amazing Thing . . .
That pretty much settled the issue on whether it was time to put her to sleep. The vet came and looked at her again last night. She is ugly, she is stinky, but she is happy. And that's the only thing that matters.
Monday, 17 January 2011
Roanie was part of a group of sheep that I purchased sight unseen. I hadn't planned on keeping her. Phenotypically she wasn't what I wanted to reproduce, so I had planned to get her back in good condition and then sell her. But . . . Someone got into the isolation pen and attacked sheep.
"I was never convicted of that!"
Roanie was seriously injured. The dog had mangled her back leg. Roanie had to endure the stitching and initial treatment, and then daily injections of penicillin. We discussed amputating the leg. We discussed euthanizing the ewe.
The ewe with less serious injuries later contracted tetanus (despite being vaccinated!) and had to be euthanized. We considered euthanizing Roanie, but she was such a trooper that I couldn't do it. If she wanted to live, I was willing to help her. After the other ewe died, the vet told us to just throw Roanie out with the rest of the flock and hope for the best. So we did. At that point, you could literally see daylight through her leg.
Briar was just a puppy then, but she immediately gravitated to the injured ewe. She became Roanie's Florence Nightingale. Roanie, the ewe who had every reason to be afraid of dogs, somehow knew this dog was different.
Their first meeting
At the time, we felt she was destined to live out her life with a permanent severe limp, but we decided to keep her. We figured that with her limp, she couldn't be used for breeding, but she could be an auntie for weanlings. Besides, I felt we owed her, since it was my mistake that allowed the dog to get to her. So Roanie and her Florence Nightingale puppy hung out in the pasture together, and over time though, her limp became less and less noticeable. Then there came a point where she was able to keep up with the flock with little or no limp.
As winter approached, it became apparent that like everyone else, Roanie was pregnant. She had no trouble carrying the extra weight. Her leg is a tiny bit shorter, but otherwise, she is fine. We decided to keep whatever baby she had. If it was a ewe lamb, I had already determined that it would stay simply because Roanie is such a fighter that I need genes like that in the flock. And if it was ram lamb, we would just neuter it and keep him as a wether to work the dogs and wean babies. Sunday morning, Roanie blessed us with twins. I checked her at 3 AM. No babies. By 8:30 AM she had two healthy, clean and dry little guys.
They are both rams, but we will be keeping them. Despite everything this ewe went through, she not only survived, but she thrived and reproduced. I try not to get sentimental about the livestock, but Roanie is special. We'll be keeping these little guys. As yet, Florence Nightingale hasn't been allowed around Roanie's new babies, but I imagine that everyone will be just fine.
Sunday, 16 January 2011
Remember Puss In Boots from Shrek?
I'd forgotten about Puss In Boots until I found that weepy little worried face staring at me at the herding clinic this weekend. Lily walked into the pen with the sheep on Saturday morning and said "I don't wanna be here! I wanna go home!" Eegaads!
Do WHAT!!!!??? She was in major shut-down. I was in complete shock. How could this weepy-eyed creature be the same dog that regularly takes on cattle trying to kick the crap out of her? I expected major handling errors on my part. I expected her to look at me too often. I expected her to slice in on her flanks and run sheep on top of me, but never in a million years did I expect her to stand there like Puss In Boots, staring at me, frozen in her tracks. Holy Crap!
And that's where I really came to appreciate Patrick Shannahan and the rest of the herding people at the clinic. He patiently worked through Lily's fear. Because Lily only had one training slot on Saturday, someone else graciously offered her afternoon slot so that we could work out Lily's problems then. Although still incredibly inhibited, Lily did loosen up and work enough in the afternoon for Patrick to see what our general problems were. And yes, we have many. I have worked too much on driving at the expense of her gathering skills. That needs to be remedied. We also need to work on having her respect my bubble and the sheep's bubble. And OBVIOUSLY she needs to go to NEW places to work so she doesn't freak out and shut down again.
While neither of these runs were typical of the way Lily regularly works, both runs took our faults, compounded them, and amplified them quite loudly. But the good thing was that we were in the perfect place for that to happen. I cannot say enough good things about the people at the clinic this weekend. They were so welcoming and supportive that I left the clinic, after not one, but TWO really poor showings, and yet I left eager to continue to learn and go to more clinics.
Unfortunately we couldn't stay for two days because we had farm work calling us. Ewes are lambing. Cows are calving, and naturally, it's cold and raining again. Of course . . . every cow wants to be born in the cold mud. Although I regretted only be able to train for one day, I was happy to have that day. And this morning Roanie, (remember Roanie, my favorite ewe that the police dog mauled) blessed us with twins!
Fortunately she popped both out with no trouble, but it still reconfirmed my decision to not leave our farm caretakers with the responsibilities of sheep lambing in the mud for three days. Thankfully, Roanie had enough sense to have both of these little fellows in a dry corner of the barn. (pictures tomorrow!)
Thursday, 13 January 2011
I'm supposed to go to a Patrick Shannahan clinic this weekend, and I'm really looking forward to it, but at the same time, I'm a little scared since I'm well aware that Lily and I are certainly not a textbook example of how to work stock. We suck. Our outruns suck. Our flanking commands suck. More often than not, at a critical moment I can't remember the correct word, and Lily just reads my body language. (Oh crap! I meant "A-Way," not "Come Bye!") While Lily appears to know her flanking commands when the sheep are between us, when she is driving stock and I'm behind her, she doesn't seem to understand the words, thus I end up reverting to commands I used in agility and SAR with other dogs, "Get out", "Come 'ere" and "go-on." At this moment, I hear a collective groan from the herding trial people. Yes, I've screwed my dog up. Yes, I know that. No, I'm not really ashamed of it. I suppose I'm not ashamed of it because despite the fact that our work looks like a train wreck on a Sunday afternoon, we still get it done. I can never be ashamed of Lily. She gives me 110% of everything she does. She may not be a trial dog, but she is a stock dog. All her faults are mine.
Today is a perfect example of why no matter how bad we look on the training field, I could never be ashamed of my little dog:
Wake up to sound of a cow bellowing and dogs barking. Livestock Guardian Dog is having a stroke because big Santa Gertrudis Heifer has climbed fence and is in the Sheep pen beside the house. Lock all dogs up except Lily (Top Hand Border Collie). Lock sheep up. Santa Gertrudis Heifer is in heat and doesn't understand that we do not wish to breed her to our Angus Bull but wish to breed her to Registered Santa Gertrudis Bull instead. She is not a fan of arranged marriages and wishes to pick her own suitor. She picks - the bull on the neighbor's pasture. This will require her to crawl in with sheep. Crawl out of sheep pasture. Go through yard. Cross canal. Climb into neighbor's pasture.
That is quite a journey, but Daisy Mae is not daunted. She is a Heifer On a Mission. And at the moment, nothing stands between her but an Irritated Human and a Little Black & White Dog. She vaguely recalls that she doesn't like Little Black & White Dog but in her Love Lust, has forgotten why. Oh Yes! That's it! Little Black & White Dog bites heels. Bitch! She then exits sheep pen the same way she got in. Human produces food products (hay) which entertain her for a short time until Love Calls and she climbs in with sheep again.
Freakin' Livestock Guardian Dog tattles and a short time later, Very Irritated Human and Little Black & White Dog reappear. Heifer discovers round bale of hay belonging to sheep and goats! Woo hoo! Pennies from Heaven! Dog bunches sheep up at end of pasture. Human locks alleyway gate to keep Heifer from sliding back out into pasture with sheep.
With a mouth full of hay, Heifer bellows to Boyfriend in another pasture to coax him into joining her and her newly discovered bounty. Boyfriend ignores her. (Men!) Little Black & White Dog with Freaky Eyes appears. Perhaps if Heifer continues eating hay and ignores her she will go away. Bitch! She bites! Heifer turns to leave. Little Black & White Bitch insists that Heifer walk to barn instead of joining sheep in pasture. Heifer ignores Black & White Mosquito. Bitch! She bites! Heifer turns back to barn. Heifer discovers sheep feeders. OOOOOHHH! Crumbs! Pennies from Heaven! Dog with Freaky Eyes waits. Human points. Dog insists Heifer enter barn. F**k barn! Heifer does not wish to leave feeders. Bitch! She bites! Heifer slings mud into Human's face as she tries to kick Black & White Mosquito Helldog but walks into barn.
Discovers square bales of hay. Pennies from Heaven!!!! Decides that if she squeezes her fat ass between bales and barn she will not have to leave Hay Heaven. Helldog goes all the way around the hay from other side. Squeezes her tiny self along wall and slithers up to Heifer's head. Ouch! Bitch bites noses too! Heifer backs down wall and out of hay. Dog reappears. Human opens stall door. Helldog insists Heifer leave Hay Heaven and walk through stall door. Heifer hesitates. Dog nips heel again. OKAY!!!!! (Spoken exactly like Alvin the Chipmunk!)
Heifer goes through stall and exits other side to wander back outside with horses. Immediately checks fence to find that Irritated Human has locked gate which allows Heifer to get near sheep fence again. Bellows to Boyfriend. He ignores her. (Men!) Black & White Mosquito With Freaky Eyes stares through fence. Heifer wanders off to eat hay and re-organize her thoughts. Little Black & White Dog high-fives Human.
Thus is a typical morning in the life of Lily. We have so much to learn. I have barely scratched the surface of what she is capable of doing and that's why I want to attend more clinics, meet more herding dog people and pick their brains. And even though we could never successfully compete in a sheepdog trial, I will always be proud of my Little Black & White Top Hand, for she is invaluable and I cannot imagine how we ever ran stock without her.
Wednesday, 12 January 2011
Guess who can climb this gate?
Guess who taught him?
Yes! It would appear that Trace has discovered the OTHER dimension - UP! He is now experimenting and has realized that he can climb like a little spider monkey. Mommy is not happy with a certain little spider monkey. She is also not happy with a Giant White Gorilla.
"Where's a gorilla?"
"There's a gorilla!"
"OH! A gorilla-tail!"
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
True to his word, before we could unload the calves, Other Half insisted that they be tagged and wormed. Oh joy.
Two tired Divas + Three Terrified Calves = Long Night
Other Half collects the necessary items: cydectin, ear tags, bands, band applicator
I examine banding doo-hickey and proclaim that roping calf's testicles are WAAY too big for banding. Other Half grunts and ignores me. I again protest that Roping Calf (let's call him "Willie") has testicles that are MUCH larger than the little fat green rubber band that Other Half is planning to use to castrate him. (a practice which I don't care for . . . I'm just saying . . . ) Other Half ignores me again. So I put it in words he can understand, "HEY! His balls are too big for this rubber band!"
"I'll look at 'em and see when we do him," he mutters.
Do what? Does he think I can't peek through the bars and mentally calculate that a rubber band smaller than a dime is not gonna stretch over balls the size of summer egg plants? Oh well. . . Since I am not in the mood to argue with him about it, I decide to let him figure it out on his own. He gives instructions on EXACTLY how he wants the cydectin measured and EXACTLY how he wants the new tag set up. Ok, I got it! I think. I hope. It's not as easy to do when holding a flashlight. Everything must be done with one hand because IT'S DARK!!!!
Other Half climbs into cattle trailer containing three snorting calves with a rope and a wooden crook. He attempts to get one of the beef cows to move into the back of the trailer where it can be isolated. The roping calf is happy to move back there, but NO! Other Half wants one of the little heifers first. Because . . . he wants to castrate the little roping calf. Now keep in mind, those balls haven't gotten any smaller since I announced that he was too big to be banded, but nevertheless, Other Half refuses to even address the issue until the heifers are done. Okie dokie Smokie!
He finally gets the little white calf in the back. Then things got interesting. This is how it was supposed to go:
1) Rope calf
1) Hand him bull chain/tongs which clip into calf's nostrils (and must hurt like hell) in order to control 230 lbs of bawling cow
This is how it actually happened:
1) rope calf
1) hand him bull chain/tongs
Re-group - set up another ear tag. Pour more cydectin. Separate another calf. Little roping bull (let's call him "Willie") still wants to go first, so this time Other Half let him. Get Willie into back of trailer. Shut gate so Willie and Other Half are alone. Convince Other Half that he needs my assistance INSIDE the trailer. He ropes Willie. Willie is okay with that. Examines Willie's testicles. Proclaims that they are too big to be banded. (wonder of wonders!) Other Half decides that he will cut him later. Clip tongs on Willie's nose. Willie says "Damn! That hurts!" So Willie doesn't move. He stares at his nose with crossed eyes. I pour on cydectin.
Other Half tags him. We unclip Willie's nose, and open the gate. Wham! Bam! Thank ya, Willie! Off he goes to join the white calf. Yessiree, we're in the groove now.
That's what we thought . . . until he roped the black calf . . .
Black calf was certain that she was gonna die. She was a kicking, bawling, bucking maniac. Other Half took that ride like a monkey on a border collie at the county fair. He had a tiger by the tail, afraid to let her go. I stood in the corner of the trailer and waited for the cyclone to quit spinning. They finally landed in a corner where he called for the tongs. Okay, I can do that! Clip! The bawling commenced in earnest now. He hooked the rope of the tongs over the top bar of the cattle trailer and pulled poor little black calf up by her nose. Lots more bawling, from the cow and me. Then he made a mistake. He handed me the end of the rope. . .
In my defense, a man should NEVER hand a woman the end of rope with a hurting, hysterical calf on the other end. Feeling sorry for said calf, the woman will immediately release some pressure on the cow's nose. Now two things happen when you do this:
1) The man will scream loudly in a high pitched voice, "NO! NO! NO! Don't let her GO!"
And the rodeo was on again. There was lots of screaming, cussing, and bawling (most of that was from Other Half). It took a while but we finally got her wrestled into the corner again. This time everyone (me!) followed instructions and the calf was wormed, tagged, and released without further incident. We thought . . .
Shortly after she bounced out of the trailer to find the other calves at the end of the arena, Other Half announced that one of the calves must have really been bleeding from that ear tag. Huh???
None of the cows were bleeding. That's when we discovered that Other Half was the one bleeding . . . a lot. The thumb of his glove was filled with blood. Blood had dripped all over the floor of the trailer. He gingerly pulled the glove off. It made the skin on my butt crawl.
Somehow . . . some way . . . after "Someone" let up the nose-pressure, thus releasing the cow, the lariat attached to a 270 lb bucking bawling baby had gotten wrapped across his thumb in such a way that it ripped his thumb and split it under the nail. (ouch!)
So Other Half stood there in the trailer, with blood running down his hand, and he asked me, "So what have you learned about cows today?"
I didn't even hesitate. With firm conviction I announced, "I learned that SHEEP are easier to handle!"
(He was not amused.)
Sidenote: We put food in a trough for the calves. It became apparent that the black and white calves had not seen a feed trough before. In fact, it appeared that they had not been properly weaned, just ripped off their mammas and taken to the sale. Thus, they spent a good bit of time bawling at the fence while our more maternal cows rushed over to comfort them. The little scrawny roping calf however, KNEW what a feed trough was. He KNEW what groceries were. Over the next day and half, he taught his companions how to eat from a trough. When we worked the dogs on them, he was calm and led the way to sanity (unlike the white calf!) so well that Other Half mentioned that if he remains so calm and well-behaved, he may be a good teaching steer for other additional dog training calves, and thus we might consider keeping him for said position. So I said to him, "Hey, if we keep him, I'm gonna name him 'Willie!'
He glanced at me, with his hand still dripping blood in the darkness. Something crossed his mind but he didn't say it out loud. Probably best . . .
Sunday, 09 January 2011
Remember when the Divas went shopping? The Divas Go Shopping
Lest anyone think our "diva-like" behavior is limited to Christmas shopping, let me share yesterday's adventure with you . . .
Other Half announces that on Saturday we will go to the cattle auction. Thinking this is a simple road trip for fun, I agree. Other Half then announces that we are taking the cattle trailer. "Why" I venture cautiously. It is winter. We have sold our spring calves. The cows are calving. I'm staring at another winter of cows calving in the cold rain and hauling hay in the mud. Why add more responsibilities?
"You never know what we might find."
Saturday arrives. A cattle auction is for Other Half, as Toys R Us is for your average 6 year old - an adventure. Give him a pocket full of money and you might as well have handed a 6 year old a credit card as he walks through the sliding glass doors.
We make decision to take only Trace, Kindergarten Cowdog. He is delighted - he is riding shotgun to the cow sale. Yee ha! Other Half has decided to buy Lily (Top Hand Border Collie) some baby calves to practice her cowdog skills on this winter. I argue that he would not have to do that if he had kept the 2010 calf crop instead of selling them. He argues that at the time, the money was more pressing than letting the dog play with calves valued at $700 each. Touche.
Two hours later we arrive at cattle auction with every other rancher in a four county area. By now, it is noon, my caffeine level has dropped dangerously low and Diva (Liza Minelli) emerges from my personality. Because of crowd, decide against taking Trace inside sale. Send Other Half inside to buy cattle. Trace and Liza Minelli stroll around outside and examine the LONG line of cattle trailers lined up to drop off cattle. Trace is quite interested. Liza and Trace watch as they slap stickers on cow butts.
Liza decides that this is a good place to actually do some re-con work because you can see the cattle better out here than when they are run through the sale. Decide that Trace and I can phone Other Half with tag numbers of good calves. Other Half used to be an assistant ranch manager on a 44,000 acre cattle ranch. Other Half has spent almost 50 years buying and selling cattle. Liza has spent . . . less . . . considerably less . . . time . . . (none!) buying cattle. But never mind THAT! Liza feels completely qualified to judge good cow flesh. So Liza and Trace walk the trailers looking for nice, clean, beefy calves that will put on weight quickly. There are too many to bother with. Liza becomes bored long before Trace does. Liza wants a frappuccino.
Other Half phones demanding location. He announces that he has just purchased a calf. Liza is expecting to hear that he has purchased a nice beefy red or black Angus-looking calf. He informs Liza that cattle prices are too high today and so instead of buying three, he just bought one. ???? Liza is annoyed. Why even bother to buy just one? You can't work dogs on just one calf! Wellll . . . perhaps the calf was of such exceptional quality that he decided to add it to his breeding herd. Liza inquires as to breed. Other Half describes a scrawny roping calf.
Roping calf in rain
Liza has a fit. Liza launches straight into Diva Domain. Liza is not happy. Why buy it then?!!!!
Other Half launches straight into Diva Domain himself. Enter Aretha Franklin. Aretha informs Liza that if she didn't like the calf he purchased, then she should have had her ass in there with him when he was bidding on it. Put Trace back in truck. Stomp into sale barn to show cow man (who has logged almost a half century in cattle) how to buy good calves.
See nice calves cross through. "Get any of those," Liza informs him. Other Half is not bidding. He is looking at numbers on tally board. The cattle are moving through quickly and Liza is having trouble caculating the price per pound weight with the actual weight of the calf who just left the area. It is all moving entirely too fast. Unlike the sheep and goats, which sell by the animal, cattle are sold by the pound, and then weighed as they step out of the arena. The weight then flashes on the screen. Liza wants little cows to train her dog on, but she also wants to re-sell the calves next summer at a major profit, thus, she does NOT want scrawny roping cows, she wants nice beefy BEEF calves. (Liza has gotten a bit spoiled when it comes to having nice cows.)
But Aretha is the COW person. Liza is the GOAT/SHEEP person. Liza has trouble remembering how big the animal which just left the arena was when comparing it to the number flashed on the screen. It is much easier to simply snap at Other Half and say, "Buy that one!" when a fat toddler animal crosses the arena.
And he does. He buys a little black angus thing.
He then informs Liza that the next calf will come out of HER money. Do what??!! Okay fine then. Liza watches numbers flash and becomes bored. Liza announces that Trace needs a break and informs Other Half to just buy another good beefy one as she starts to climb down stairs. Aretha Franklin informs Liza Minelli to get her ass back there and select the calf SHE wants. And so she does. Liza quickly finds a nice little Charolais-looking heifer and informs Aretha to get THAT ONE. He does. Liza now owns a cow.
Liza is bored and ready to go.
Aretha picks up the paper work. Liza's one cow cost almost as much as Aretha's two cows. Holy Crap! Is THAT what those numbers mean? Obviously Liza and the meat packers are buying the same type of calf. Oh well. The scrawny roping calf will probably eat just as much as Liza's white elephant and not gain as much weight. Liza is quite certain that she will double her money on this calf by next summer.
Aretha gives Liza the paper work and tells her to give it to the man at the loading dock while he gets the cattle trailer. Liza strides towards the man like she knows what she's doing, then hesitates. Pink or Yellow??? Which copy does he get? She doesn't want to look like she's never done this before. (She hasn't!) Notes that he has a pink paper in his hand. DUH! He must take the PINK copy! (Liza IS actually a Trained Investigator in her Other Life!) Give man pink copy like she's done it all her life. (Ah ha! Take THAT, ARETHA!) Aretha backs up trailer to loading dock like he's done it all his life, (which he has!). Liza peeks through the bars at HER calf. Do what??? She's the same size as Other Half's scrawny roping calf but she cost three times as much! OUCH!
Other Half then informs Liza that there are cows you train dogs and horses on (i.e. roping cows/longhorn crosses) and there are beef cattle. (Liza declined to remind him that there are dairy cattle too, because it just didn't seem like the time.) Instead, she argued that the beefy calf would gain weight faster than the roping calf and why put feed into something that wasn't going to double in value. Aretha agreed that Liza had a valid point. Since now Liza was not only suffering from LCL (low caffeine level) but also LCBL (low checkbook level), Aretha pulled out of the sale barn parking lot and headed out in search of caffeine. Then . . . he informed Liza that although it would be dark when they returned home, they would still need to tag and worm all the calves and castrate the roping calf before they ate dinner. Yeee . . . freakin' . . . ha!
Friday, 07 January 2011
"Any fool can count the seeds in an apple.
Only God can count all the apples in one seed."
Robert H. Schuller
My lemon tree failed to get the memo that not only is it January, but an Arctic blast is scheduled to blow in early next week. I sit here at the kitchen window, watching the bees and the butterflies dance around the blossoms, and like the tree, am lulled into the illusion that it is Spring.
Wednesday, 05 January 2011
The day started like every day. The sun was shining. The birds were singing. But somehow I managed to miss the ominous music playing in the background.
Stumble out of house with cup of coffee in hand. Stumble over dogs as they race to the barn. Feed sheep. Count sheep. Feed goats. Drag goat away from sheep pen and thrust her through gate and back on the "goat side" of the fence. Feed horses. Feed cows. Pick up cup of coffee and take dogs on a nice long walk. Daydream about new Boer goat sire and spring babies. Fail to hear the ominous soundtrack playing in the background.
Go back to barn to turn sheep out. Note that the annoying bleating of sheep has continued well past feeding time. Sight in on offender. Note: Offender is mother of newest baby. Look for baby. No baby. Walk around stall areas. No baby. Bleating continues. No answering baby bleating. Oh . . . Shit. Something took the baby. Begin to run around barn yard frantically searching for baby. No baby. Reality sets in. FINALLY hear the ominous music! Stumble in Crocs through mud and sheep shit desperately looking for baby with mother's frantic bleating echoing in my head.
Realize that Something must have waited until I fed the sheep, and took the dogs (ALL the dogs - including the LIVESTOCK GUARDIAN DOG!) on a walk. Then Something climbed over the cattle panel fence, grabbed the tiniest meal in the pen and climbed back over WITH MY BABY!!!!
Call Dear-Friend-On-Next-Farm-Over to report the incident while still frantically wandering around pasture in Crocs. She is on her way over. Call Other Half. He is at Cow Farm and is about to climb on tractor. He is now on his way. Call my mother. Turn Livestock GUARDIAN Dog back in with sheep.
Go back in house, change Crocs for rubber boots and set out to find CLUES to identity of Kidnapper/Murderer. Decide against taking gun because Kidnapper/Murderer is LONG GONE with his free meal by now. Have burning hatred for coyote/bobcat/Boogey Beast, but grudging admiration for that kind of intelligence. Bleating of mother sheep is deafening.
Decide to carry Blue Heeler along in search for CLUES. Blue Heeler immediately begins chasing cattle. Call him repeatedly. Watch him ignore multiple requests to cease his idiotic antics and return to the serious search for evidence. After cows are chased into another pasture, he returns. Regret not bringing gun. Throw Blue Heeler out of pasture. Walk around studying every muddy footprint behind barn. Walk into hot wire. Cuss.
Stop in center of pasture and stare back at sheep in paddock. Note Livestock Guardian Dog ambling around. Note that dog seems unconcerned. Note that sheep seem unconcerned. Note two tiny lambs racing through the paddock. TWO tiny lambs . . . TWO??? All other lambs are big. Note Hysterical Bleating Mother is silent. What tha? Walk fast toward paddock. Start to climb through fence. F**K! Hotwire. Find another spot to climb over fence. Definitely TWO tiny babies. Holly, the Chrstimas Day baby is bouncing across the paddock, stride for stride with a tiny running mate - a tiny little running mate that looks suspiciously like my Kidnapping/Murder victim. What tha???
Walk among sheep. Yep! Baby has returned. Where was he? Ponder possibilities:
1) Boogey Beast had a change of heart and returned Little Tyke (not bloody likely!)
We definitely need to come up with a name for this lucky little explorer.
Tuesday, 04 January 2011
Would you kill for this?
Apparently someone in this house would.
Last night I baked sugar cookies, and a certain muddy little puppy was drawn to The Food Room by the wonderous sugary smells. He appointed himself The Little Chef and sat beside the refrigerator to supervise the cookie baking. He carefully watched as each pan came out of the oven. He oversaw as each cookie was iced and sprinkled.
All was well until I ran out of cookies, and I still had PLENTY of icing left. That's when I reached into the glass cookie jar on the counter and pulled out the Milk Bones. Now in our home, cookie jars hold DOG cookies instead of PEOPLE cookies, and EVERYONE in this household knows the sound of The Cookie Jar opening.
So Lily rushed into The Food Room at the sound of the cookie jar. That's when The Little Chef mutated. Suddenly Emeril sprouted fangs. He watched as I iced the Milk Bones. Lily slid into position to receive the expected Milk Bone. Emeril then attempted to knife his best friend. She laughed at him and bounced away. Emeril followed her and attempted to drive her from the kitchen. Suddenly it wasn't funny to her.
"Stop it!" she ordered.
"LEAVE!!!!" the Soup Nazi screamed.
"Do not MAKE me hurt you!" she said.
"LEAVE!! LEAVE! LEAVE!" he screamed. Suddenly he became Achmed the Dead Terrorist, "I WILL KILL YOU!!!! I WILL KILL YOU!!!!"
Right there, in the kitchen, with flour and powdered sugar all over the counter, and me on the phone, a dog fight ensued. I let it go for an instant, thinking that surely the ADULT dog would put the smack-down on this snotty little brat, but Emeril continued his assault in his crazed attempt to drive Lily from the kitchen. I screamed at them. Lily quit fighting. Emeril continuted to knife his companion. (What a little beast!!) With hands full of cookie dough and powdered sugar, I yelled for Other Half to come and evict the Enraged Emeril from the kitchen.
With sanity and order restored, the Milk Bone decorating continued.
Emeril sneaked back in the kitchen but was a bit more subdued. Bones decorated, I passed out beaters.
Yes, that's all I needed - Emeril high on sugar frosting. But since he'd managed to behave himself, I felt that he deserved a reward for his improved kitchen manners.
And yes, Lily (and everyone else) got a Special Milk Bone. . .
. . . and Emeril put up his knives.
Monday, 03 January 2011
Would you kiss this face?
Look closely. Think again.
I may have to put some serious thought into it the next time he climbs in my lap. Then again . . .
If you live on a farm long enough, your standards of cleanliness change a bit. You actually consider things that never crossed your mind before you trudged through mud and cow poop each morning. (Read: Leopard Print Underwear Rules!)
Soooo . . . I'll let you be the judge.
Load up Blue Heeler (Ranger) and Border Collie (Lily) and drive out to feed cows. Note Worthless Barn Cat standing over Suspicious Something. Order dogs to stay in truck while I step out to investigate Suspicious Something. Blue Heeler ignores me and bounces out of truck. Break out in a string of cuss words. (Father, forgive me!) Border Collie stares in horror. The world has stopped spinning. Someone disobeyed Mom. She is aghast at Blue Heeler's behavior. (She is, however, used to my cussing.) Blue Heeler stops in his tracks. Stares. ("What? You got a problem?") Hops back in truck. Border Collie's world begins to spin again.
Leave dogs in truck while I investigate Suspicious Something. It is a scapula, a shoulder blade. Decide that it is a deer scapula. Son must have cleaned a deer over here. Mystery solved. Call dogs out of truck. Caution them to "Leave it!" Border Collie is still upset and thus she glances at me to make sure I see that she is ignoring the Nasty Object on the ground. I smile at her. She smiles back. She is assured, once again, that she is The Perfect Dog. Blue Heeler stops to sniff Nasty Object. I growl at him. He raises his eyebrow, informs me that I am a "Bitchy Bear", lifts his leg and pisses on Nasty Object.
Walk out to feed cowponies. Dogs are not allowed around cowponies because they will stomp dogs. Tell Border Collie to "DOWN" outside the gate. She does. Start to tell Blue Heeler . . . Oh never mind, forget it. He races around like an idiot. He was blessed with phenomenal athletic ability, but very few brains. Decide that there is no point in traumatizing Border Collie by having her witness Blue Heeler repeatedly leave his stay. Thus . . . let Little Blue Dog zoom-zoom and giggle while Border Collie holds her stay. Feed cowponies. Blue Dog dances and giggles while they try to run him down. Ignore him and feed cowponies. Call Border Collie. She zooms into pasture and bounces on me. She is delighted that she held her stay. I assure her that Yes, she is The Perfect Dog. She nods and runs to the mule.
Climb into mule beside Border Collie. Watch Blue Heeler roll in horse poop. Scream at him. He stands up, offended that I would speak to him in that manner. Drive to feed room. Load up cow feed. Drive to pasture. Border Collie grins broadly as we bounce through the mud. Scream at Blue Heeler for rolling in horse poop again. He stands up - offended.
Cows are crowding the gate. Remind Border Collie to stay in vehicle. Blue Heeler races through fence and into pasture. Big Red Cow chases him. Blue Heeler giggles and darts just out of reach. Drive mule through gate. Border Collie catches my eye to remind me that she has stayed in the vehicle. Assure her that yes, she is The Perfect Dog. She smiles at me and snaps at cows that get too close to the mule as we drive. Feed cows. Scream at Blue Heeler for rolling in cow poop. He stands up - offended.
Drive back out. Scream at Blue Heeler to keep him from jumping in the pond. Wish I had a dog crate bolted inside the bed of my pick-up. Step off mule and into deep mud puddle. Note that Border Collie leaps over mud puddle. She turns to smile at me. I smile back and assure her that, yes, she is The Perfect Dog. Call Blue Heeler. He is dancing around the heels of Annoyed Cowpony. Am reminded of M.C. Hammer song, "Can't touch this!"
Go to water faucet to hose mud off boots. Blast ice cold water on them. Turn to see Blue Heeler with Nasty Object. Scream at him. Forget what I am doing and blast ice cold water inside my boot. Cuss. Blue Heeler drops Nasty Object - offended.
Am forced to allow Blue Dog to sit on leather Lariat F250 seats. He smiles at me. There is cow poop between his teeth. Drive home. Sheep have already come in. Note sheep placenta in stall. Decide that Livestock Guardian Dog only ate part of it this morning when she cleaned up after sheep birth. Scoop Disgusting Stringy Object up with barn rake. Exit barn with Disgusting Stringy Object. Baby Border Collie runs right up to barn rake. With the kind of blinding speed that only a Baby Border Collie possesses, he grabs Disgusting Stringy Object off rake and runs like a Spotted Ape into the darkness. He is Gollum, galloping through the dark with a golden ring, mumbling something about "His Precious". I stand there, screaming like a Fishmonger's Wife with my empty barn rake. Call Baby Border Collie. (crickets chirping) Blue Heeler giggles. He is right. The clouds have parted and I see things clearly now. On the Cootie scale, suddenly a little cow poop doesn't seem as big a deal. Listen to the darkness. Crickets are still chirping.
Gollum does not come back until he has fully consumed "His Precious." He bounces up to Other Half. His feet are smeared with blood. Other Half gags. Blue Heeler giggles.
Sunday, 02 January 2011
Look what the New Year brought!
He was born shortly before 6 AM this morning.
The Christmas lamb is doing just fine.
We'll keep her, so we named her Holly.
(I know! I know! I know! Don't name your food! But since we're keeping her for breeding, not eating, she gets a name. )
Look how big these babies are! They are just two months old! I'm still amazed with how quickly these Dorper sheep gain weight. They really out-perform our Boer goats. I'll still keep goats, but this is our second crop of Dorper sheep and now I'm convinced that are a much better deal. They are easier on the fences, they handle the Texas heat, thus far, we haven't had to help with any deliveries, and they gain weight FAST!
As always, Briar continues to amaze me. This is her first crop of lambs, so we still don't trust her alone with them. (cuz she is big and they are small!) but she remains quiet and watchful around her flock. This is such a contrast to her normal behavior. Away from the sheep, Briar is a bull in a china shop.
With the sheep, she oozes between around them like warm butter.
Briar is really getting into watching the flock during this lambing season. Today she cleaned up the afterbirth, and then threw it up. (I'll spare you those pictures!) After I separated the momma and baby, I let Briar come inside with everyone else. She oozed around the paddock and settled down to watch the other lambs. Until . . .
This horse almost lost his nose.
Apparently "Oozey Briar" can mutate very quickly into "Cujo Briar" when she has lambs. (Point noted.)
But since this little guy is not much more than a "coyote sandwich" himself, I'm sure he really appreciates having Cujo Briar so close.