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Monday, September 18 2017

     I trotted out today with my camera to take some updated pictures for Wyatt's breeder's, Scott & Teresa McDonald. (Names included because each time people see the little fart I get multiple requests of "WHERE did you get that pup?!" and they should get all the credit for the little beast.

Yes, this is the same little pup who took the adorable boot rack series of pictures.

He's roughly 6 months old now, so he's all legs and his ears haven't decided what they want to do yet. Normally I wouldn't do a whole blog documenting one photo shoot but as a dog handler, this series of photos was so priceless that I had to share them not only with his breeders, but with The Sheep Goddess, his herding dog trainer who will be meeting him in a few weeks.

So off to the garden I went with a camera and a puppy. I put him on a down stay and proceeded to snap away.  It didn't take long before he was bored with this new game.

Very bored.

Then through the lens, I saw a spark. Some new addition to the game was showing promise.

And just like that, a Photobomb walked right into my photo shoot.

Pavarotti strolled into the frame with practiced nonchalance.

I snapped away. As the cat left, the look Wyatt shot me was priceless.

"I'm still on my down. See?"

Yes, yes, he was still on his down. I laughed out loud at his expression and was glad the camera caught it because a few weeks from now, when I am walking through the pasture with knee-knocker sheep and a rambunctious 6 month old pup, Joy, the Sheep Goddess, will wonder if he has any obedience training at all. He does. Well, as much as any 6 month old  Border Collie can.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, September 07 2017

If this dog had thumbs I wouldn't even need to come outside in the morning. The chores would get done without me. She knows the routine and can pretty much do everything herself. She just needs you to shovel out the feed for the livestock, and open and close the gates.

Like a bee to morning glories, chores on the farm begin as soon as the sun rises.

     The first order of business, after pouring coffee, is to get the Nubian bucks out to pasture. They are pretty docile, but stinky so I don't like touching them. There is nothing like fresh buck urine on your arm to ruin the taste of coffee. The bucks are moved from their night pen behind the barn to a 150 acre pasture (of which they only utilize probably 3 acres, but it's there if they want it)  The trick to getting the bucks out without incident is to pour the feed into their bucket in the pasture first, then go get the bucks. Mesa then merely guides them to the pasture when they choose to stray from the intended route. This is 90% of the time during breeding season because instead of eating, they want to loop around and go see the girls.

Do not attempt to move the bucks without a Border Collie. It looks easy when the dog does it. It's a freaking trainwreck without the dog.

     The next order of business is to put the rams up for the day.

      The rams freely roam the barnyard pasture at night while the ewes are locked in pens behind the barn. In the morning they must be moved into a separate pen in the barn before the ewes can be turned out to pasture.  Because of their differing temperaments, moving the rams is a delicate dance. Mesa must put just enough pressure on Wilson, the yearling ram, to stir him out of his comfort zone, so he moseys toward breakfast, but not so much pressure on Chance, the weanling ram, that he freaks because he has a wider flight zone. Wilson doesn't get in a hurry to do much, so Mesa must gently annoy him to the point where he leaves the fence by the ewes and follows me to his day pen. Put too much pressure on Wilson and he will ram a dog with those horns. Mesa has figured this out, so instead of wading in (like Lily!) and causing a fight, she just flits around him like a butterfly, darting at his face and his heels to steer him. As Mesa does this, Chance zigzags back and forth wishing that Wilson would just come on so the dog would leave them alone.

     With the rams secure, Mesa then sorts the Angora goats from the Nubian goats.

The angoras eat with the rams because they don't need the high-octane diet the dairy goats eat. With the goats sorted, they are then fed, and the ewes are moved out to pasture.

After the goats finish eating, they will be pushed out to join the sheep.

Mesa goes through this routine every day, 7 days a week. In the evening, she does the same thing in reverse. Sometimes Lily helps, but her penchant for putting holes in anyone who doesn't immediately tow the line is annoying and unfair enough for me to keep her by my side and let Mesa do the job herself. Lily and I just supervise.

    Wyatt often bounces along beside Mesa. He's getting pretty good at putting the Nubian bucks out. He trots behind them and peels off himself when they arrive at their destination. I don't use him on the rams though because his bouncing would freak Chance out, and if he got too pushy, Wilson might slam him and damage his little psyche. It wouldn't be fair to Wyatt or Wilson. When he's older and more confident, then Wyatt can move the rams.

For now, he'll keep right on helping Mesa with her other chores, watching and learning. If I could ever figure out a way to have them sling feed and open gates, by next year I'd be able to just send Mesa and Wyatt outside while Lily and I eat bacon and eggs and sip coffee at the kitchen table.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:28 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Monday, September 04 2017

     Most of you know that I retired from the Houston Police Department and our farm was located south of Houston. And unless you've been living under a rock with no television coverage, you also know that this area was whacked hard by Hurricane Harvey. Because we moved to the ranch in North Texas, we are fine, but our family and friends still living in the south took it on the chin.

     Few people were left untouched as the hurricane raged through most of Southeast Texas before storming off to Louisiana. In the area where the storm made landfall, people lost their homes and businesses to wind damage and the storm surge. Deeper into the state, it was the massive rainfall that got us as this slow-moving storm rolled across Texas, angling back and forth through the state like an indecisive Ouija board. Yes, homes and businesses were destroyed, but not communities. The buildings are damaged but the sense of community is strong, and it extends across the state and the nation.

     Like the forest fires of Montana, this was a slow-rolling disaster. Rather than the 'hurricane makes landfall and fizzles out after it smacks the coast" story, Harvey moved as slowly as a toddler eating greenbeans. This dumped a record-setting amount of rain, resulting in a week-long disaster that still isn't finished. While some can begin the arduous clean-up,  others still watch the floodwaters creep closer to their homes. People who evacuated once must evacuate to another spot because the waters are reaching for them again.

     For many people evacuation isn't as simple as loading the kids and the dogs into the mini-van and heading for higher ground. In these rural areas evacuation means moving livestock. It means cattle drives through flood waters. It means leading swimming horses by boat. It means loading the family pig into a rescue boat.

     And by scores the boats came. Not only were highly trained swiftwater rescue teams from across the nation dispatched to the Houston area, but countless Bubbas in Bass Boats rose to the call. From Jim Bob, your neighbor down the street, to Boudreaux, a highly skilled member of Louisiana's illustrious Cajun Navy, they all motored through floodwaters to rescue a drowning state. Instead of waiting on the government, aided by social media, neighbors banded together to help neighbors. Texas and Lousiana are family, cousins who grew up hunting, fishing, and giving each other wedgies and noogies, but last week Louisiana heard the call of a drowning Texas. Even knowing full well the storm may rape Texas and then march into Lousianana, the Cajuns still came. And Texas will not forget it.

     For this week, the nation forgot about race, riots, statues, police brutality, and bigotry. The nation focused on Texas. They saw no racial divide, only neighbor helping neighbor. It was a brutal storm, and although it did tremendous damage, it also allowed us to see this nation at its finest.

  "Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness. People are just people, and all people have faults and shortcomings, but all of us are born with a basic goodness."  

Anne Frank

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:17 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email

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