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Thursday, March 09 2017

I am not normally a screamer. After a career in law enforcement, it's hard to scare me, but this did it. I screamed like a Hollywood actress in a B-Movie Horror flick.

Days like today should start with an ominous musical soundtrack, but it didn't. I had absolutely no warning. My day began, like most every day, with a mug of coffee in hand and a trip to the hay barn for feed. I had just set my coffee down on the truck and opened the gate to the barn when I heard one of the Border Collies barking. Stroking was more like it.

Like me, Border Collies don't normally scream in fright. They tend to be masters in the art of controlling the order of their universe and thus the deep alarm bark coming from the back side of the hay barn galvanized me to action. Mesa had something. Something not in her databanks.

Something that scared her.

It is spring in Texas. The winter was mild anyway, so all manner of dangerous things could already be out. Freezing nightly temperatures had lulled me into a false sense of security. Certain that Mesa had a copperhead or a rattlesnake, I cursed myself for leaving the gun in the house, and so dropped my wagon to hustle toward the back side of the hay barn.

The odor hit me first. Mesa did not have a snake. Like a shark's fin coasting just underneath the edge of the water, a black and white tail eased behind a fuel tank propped against the barn. Mesa had a skunk.

Fortunately the skunk didn't know it yet.

And that's when I screamed. God help me, but I sounded like that blond chick in all the horror movies before she gets axed.

I had not one, but four Border Collies, and one deaf and partially blind Australian Shepherd puppy, all within twenty feet of a skunk at 7 AM. And I hadn't had my coffee.

So I screamed.

The good thing about skunks is that they don't see very well. The skunk was beebopping along, in his own skunk world, oblivious to the fact that he was surrounded by four confused Border Collies, one screaming B-Movie Chick, and a half-blind deaf dog who was wandering in his direction.

The barnyard became like Edvard Munch's famous paintings "The Scream." Everything just stopped as the shockwaves of something the Border Collies had never heard before echoed across the sand.

Shock waves.

Then silence.

And MoonPossum, the deaf Aussie, continued her blundering collision course with the skunk. Just like that, the echoing scream stopped. The deafening silence afterward ended. And the carousel music sped to a dizzy tempo.

"Must stop Possum!"

I leaped for the puppy just as she located the source of that unusual odor. My arms clasped around her middle and I whisked her 38 pound hiney into the air. And I ran.

I screamed for the Border Collies as I ran toward the house with a puppy wriggling like a greased pig.

I just want to take this moment to point out that in January I made no New Year's resolution to get fit. I'm about 40 pounds over what I consider my idea weight, but what the hell, I'm not chasing drug dealers over fences anymore, and I like bread. That said, 24 HOUR Fitness has no program like this. Even an overweight, over 50ish woman with gray hair can run with a 38 pound squirming puppy in her arms when faced with a skunk.

We arrived at the house and I counted to make sure I had four Border Collies and one Aussie puppy. Check. So I dropped the puppy in the breezeway and went inside to inform Other Half that we had a problem.

Morning chores could not be started until the skunk was removed from the area. The sleeping man underneath the comforter was less than sympathetic. I went back outside to do it myself.

Leaving the dogs locked in the breezeway, I crept to the backside of the hay barn to get a location on my suspect. The entire barnyard was still. Sheep and goats who would normally be screaming in protest were curiously silent. Horses gazed across the fence in quiet contemplation. What would the Primary Caretaker do next?

A large white dog bounced through the cattle and squirmed underneath the fence by the horses. My Missing-in-Action NightShift Livestock Guardian Dog had returned. Apparently he had been in the pasture with the cattle when he heard my screams. He emerged from a newly dug hole under the fence and wagged his way in my direction.

And that's when the skunk sashayed right out between us.

The blond chick from the horror movies screamed and pointed at the skunk.

The dog needed no warning. Jury snatched it up and shook the crap out of the poor thing. Right there. In front of me.

He shook it.

And he shook it.

And then he dropped the still figure in the sand, trotted over to me, and announced,

"Sector 12 is now clear."

Then he said, "Oh my, I can't breathe."

And it hit him as he staggered off into the brush.

"I can't breathe. I can't breathe."

He said it just like George Lopez. "I can't breaffff....."

Jury rolled around in the sand. This would have been a tad bit comical except for one thing -
the skunk got up.

The giant dog was rolling around in the sand, "I can't breathe. I can't seeee!" And the skunk got up and slowly wobbled off.

The B-Movie chick started screaming again. "Jury! Jury! The skunk! It's not dead!"

The only thing worse than a live skunk at your feet is a maimed skunk at your feet, so I peddled backward, still screaming for the dog while the skunk wobbled to the front of my hay barn.

Along his journey, the gyroscope in his head partially righted itself and he was able to walk a wee bit better. Instead of continuing south and exiting the barnyard, the skunk came to the gate at the front of the hay barn and squeezed his fat ass underneath it.

(Note to Self: stop leaving excess catfood in the hay barn for the cats.)

The skunk wobbled behind the Bobcat.

A large black barn cat came shooting out. He looked back in shock,

"What the *@$< was THAT?!"

Jury recovered his breath long enough to respond to my screams and came trotting around the corner. The big dog took one look at the black cat and questioned my vision.

"Bbbb..bbbutttttt.... It's just the cat...."

The cat assured the dog there was indeed, a suspect in the barn. I opened the gate to let the dog inside. He stood there, unsure what the cat and I were pointing at.

Not only could he barely breathe, he could barely see, and the whole barnyard smelled like skunk.

On the other hand, he was willing to take our word for it that something nefarious was in the back of the hay barn. His ears confirmed this.

And that's when I heard the votes being cast.

Standing in the pasture, on the other side of the fence, four horses voted not to let the dog kill the skunk in the hay barn with 1400 pounds of fresh alfalfa hay.

Hmmmmm... point well taken.

So I called the dog back. Breakfast would be delayed. I was able to sneak a third of a bale out before the skunk moved behind the stacked hay. This effectively ended the Cafeteria Lady's participation in serving breakfast. The partial bale of hay was evenly distributed to the stunned and curious onlookers.

The Dayshift Livestock Guardian Dogs were advised that their shift would be covered by the Nightshift Livestock Guardian Dog since he already smelled like a skunk.

I then stomped into the bedroom to give Husband an update. He informed me that Jury was not the only one who reeked of skunk. Crap on a cracker.

So there you have it. My farm is on lockdown. I cannot switch shifts of dogs. None of the house dogs has had outside playtime. The goats are having to eat calf creep feed because their unopened bag of grain is in the haybarn. And Jury and I both smell like a skunk.

All before coffee.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:00 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 07 2017

On every farm there are some animals that are different from the others, animals that just don't quite fit in. And the more soft-hearted the farmer, the more animals like this he or she has tucked away, animals that could live on the Island Of Misfit Toys.

There is nothing wrong with them. These animals are just different. Special.

If you recall, last spring we bought Liam, a young bottle-baby Pygora goat.

Shortly before we picked him up, some friends found a tiny white goat about Liam's age, wandering on a game ranch, living with Axis deer.

They scooped the little girl up, fed her a bottle, and brought her to us where she lived with Liam. For the longest time, Natty and Liam were inseparable.

And then something happened.

Natty grew up.

And she outgrew Liam. Natty developed a fondness for Older Men - Dangerous Men.

When Natty started coming into season, she made it her mission in life to get to these adult bucks. This was a problem because Natty was still tiny and would try to crawl under fences to get to the big bucks. The Nubian bucks are so large that if Natty were accidentally bred, she could never deliver the babies.

Natty had attached herself to a Nubian wether, Tim, who was happy to bask in the glow of Natty's crush.

Soon Natty, Tim, and Liam were a trio. Still, Natty wanted a real man. The reality of life on a farm is that if you can picture "worse case scenario," you'd better plan accordingly, because it's coming down the pipes. With that in mind, I started to consider re-homing Natty.

Dear Friend Claire, was happy to provide a safe haven for A Promiscuous Teenaged Girl and her Current Crush, but that left Liam. I didn't want to lose Liam. The whole point of having Liam was his fleece. On the other hand, Liam was attached to Natty and Claire promised to give me his fleece when she sheared her sheep, so I agreed to let the Three Musketeers stay together.

But I had to shear Liam before he left!

 Twenty minutes later he was bald and ready for travel. Like a Marine at bootcamp!

When she arrived to pick them up, Claire fell in love with Jerri Springer, the little black "Who's ya daddy?" lamb. Since she wasn't part of my breeding program, and it would be next spring before another lamb crop went to auction, I happily agreed to let Jerry Springer go with Claire too. AND . . . since Claire said she wanted anything not in my breeding program, I showed her Ewok, the half churro/half Southdown wether.

"Load him too!"

Claire and I were both pretty happy. She was getting some tame pets, I was getting a great home for animals I didn't want butchered, and Other Half was tickled because that was five more off the feed bill. Claire's poor husband did seem a bit green however. As she and I were happily negotiating who was headed south in the trailer, he looked like he'd been hit by a truck. I think he thought he was coming for one, maybe two, goats. I recognized that look because I've seen it on my husband many times.

Claire has a donkey and a llama, so my little citizens from the Island of Misfit Toys should be safe with Claire. I'll miss them, but they're better off with her. Natty is safe. Liam gets to stay with Natty. Tim gets to keep his girlfriend and can finally be Big Man On Campus, Jerry Springer won't make her date with the butcher next spring, and Ewok can be in a pet home where he won't have to fight as hard for attention and cookies.

I will still get to have Liam's fleece, and he will still get to stay with his beloved Natty.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:54 am   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email

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