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Thursday, 29 March 2018


 

The Farm Fresh Forensics book was released this week and your support humbles me to the core. I have been moved to tears so many times this week by the outpouring of love sent by you, my dear readers who follow this blog. Some of you have been with us since the beginning and now you're part of the family. Some of you just joined recently and you've already become family. This first book is for you. It is for all of you who wrote to tell me how much a blog post gave you a much-needed laugh in the middle of a bad time. It is for the people who have written to say, "I'm going through a rough patch in life right now, can you tell me a funny story tomorrow?" This book is for all the first responders who have written to tell me how much they needed to hear that someone shares their gut-wrenching experiences and that if they just keep trudging forward, they will laugh again.

I wrote this book for all you readers who are also farmers and ranchers. You write to express how much you appreciate the fact that someone else shares your same experiences. We are not wallowing in blood and mud alone! We have each other. We share the same struggles, the same triumphs, the same laughs. We are the same tribe.

This book is also for all you who have written to say that you want to live on a farm but can't, so you enjoy mine. It is for all the fans of Lily, Ranger, Trace, Cowboy and Briar, people who follow the stories of simple ranch dogs. I am still flabberghasted that Briar has fans as far away as Australia and South Africa.

Your support both humbles and terrifies me. Within two days Farm Fresh Forensics was the #1 New Release in its category on Amazon. Truthfully, who knows how many books were actually released in the category recently? I'm sure Amazon markets to its advantage, but nevertheless, the sales are climbing and it's all because of you. You, my dear tribe of readers, humble me. And I'm terrified. I hope this is the book you've wanted. It does pull in some of the best blogs but is so much more. The Farm Fresh Forensics book gives you the backstory and ties things together. Because life doesn't have a beginning and an end, but a book does, I began the book at the start of my CSI career and the beginning of the farm. The book ends when we made the final move to the ranch in north Texas. The dogs are a big part of the Farm Fresh Forensics book. They became such a focus that I realized they needed their own book. Butterflies On A Turd, sequel to Farm Fresh Forensics, will also highlight ranch life, but will focus more on the dogs and their jobs here in north Texas.

The promotional materials for Farm Fresh Forensics should arrive in the mail tomorrow - bookmarks, bookplates, coffee mugs, and at least one canvas tote bag. As soon as they arrive I'll be able to start sending out your swag! If you take a "shelfie" (a photo of your print book or ebook) and send it to me via social media or email, I'll send you a bookmark and put you in the drawing for coffee mugs or a canvas tote bag. Not only does it get the word out on social media to people who have never heard of Farm Fresh Forensics, but it allows me the chance to give something back to you. Words cannot express how much I dearly appreciate all of you.

My wizard tells me that I need to include a link to Amazon. Below is the link to the ebook. The print book is also available through Amazon. I believe they have them linked on Matchbook so if you buy the print book you can get the ebook for $0.99. The print book is available now but the kindle book won't be released until April 6. I tried to move that forward but I can't. I ordered a copy of the ebook for myself so as soon as its downloaded onto my kindle then I'll let you know. It's possible that they may move up the release it to March 30th.  Thank you again for being part of my tribe.

https://www.amazon.com/Farm-Fresh-Forensics-Between-Barnyard-ebook/dp/B07BPBZWPT/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1522078084&sr=1

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:03 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 26 March 2018

(It's here! It's here! The first book is out! I'm so excited!)

CSI meets Green Acres in The Shack!

When a Crime Scene Investigator also takes up ranching, life lies somewhere between the barnyard and the Body Farm, where the death of a chicken can turn into a full scale murder investigation. Farm Fresh Forensics is the memoir of a Crime Scene Investigator juggling farm life at home with the bloody work of murder in a major metropolitan city at night.

With one foot in the trench of tragedy and the other in a corral of comedy Farm Fresh Forensics invites the reader to slip under the yellow crime scene tape and experience the real stories behind the 5 o'clock news.

Few places better illustrate the circle of life than a barnyard where a Border Collie is the professor and a goat can earn his degree in the field of forensics. This is a story of growth. It is the growth of a Crime Scene Investigator, the evolution of a rancher, and the awakening of faith.

Get your Farm Fresh Forensics SWAG!

Send out a "shelfie" on social media with the hashtags #farmfreshforensics #sheridanrowelangford, then in the feedback section here, or through private messaging on Facebook, send me your mailing address and we'll mail you a free bookmark. This will enter you in a drawing for a Farm Fresh Forensics coffee mug, and another drawing for a canvas tote bag!

What qualifies as a "shelfie?"  Darned near any photograph of you, or your dog, or your cat, or your bookshelf with a copy of Farm Fresh Forensics qualifies as a "shelfie."

What if you aren't on social media? No worries! Shoot me an email in the feedback section here and we'll make sure you get your bookmark and are entered in the drawings for the coffee mugs and tote bags.

Farm Fresh Forensics is available in both print and ebook on Amazon. It's also available in Kindle Matchbook, so if you purchase a print copy of the book, Amazon will give you the ebook copy for $0.99! The ebook is also set up to allow lending.

Farm Fresh Forensics is available on Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1985301830

If you have a moment, go check out my author website at www.sheridanrowelangford.com. I'll keep you posted there on the cool swag as it becomes available. I picked designs of both the front cover and of Briar. If you look at the Briar's eyes banner on the author website you can see the photo used for the front of the bookmarks. The two different designs were made in the coffee mugs available for the drawings. One is the front cover of Lily, the Border Collie, in the crime scene tape and the other is the Briar's eyes banner. The canvas tote bag in the drawing has the Briar's eyes banner logo. They may make one available later with the Border Collie in the crime scene tape logo.

There are also bookplates available. If you want a signed book but can't get to a booksigning, drop me a note and I'll pop a signed bookplate in the mail for you. The bookplate has the image of the front cover of the book.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:38 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 22 March 2018

The Mini-Me is settling into a routine. At night Bramble, the Livestock Guardian Dog puppy, still sleeps in a cage inside the sheep pens with a couple of dairy goats and Judge, the Anatolian Shepherd who guards the pens at night. During the day Judge is released to guard the sheep in the pasture and Bramble is left in the pen to watch the sheep maternity ward. Today this particular batch of lambs was released into the barnyard. Bramble got to spend a little time out with them under supervision.

She got too close to the lambs. She was sent packing.

Back at the barn she found her friend, Rosie the Dairy Goat.

And she found her roommate!

Judge has finally accepted her unabashed worship and genuinely enjoys her company. One day these two will be working partners. In the mean time he'll let her make her mistakes, then kiss her nose, and show her how to be a Livestock Guardian Dog.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:24 pm   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  Email
Friday, 16 March 2018

She was not the Chinese take-out that Judge was expecting. We arrived home late Sunday evening with the new Livestock Guardian Dog puppy. Briar and Judge eagerly escorted the truck down the driveway in hopes of getting first dibs on the expected doggy bag from whatever restaurant we'd stopped at for supper. They expected Chinese. They did not expect a little sister.

A veteran of new puppies, Briar greeted the pup with more enthusiasm than she normally musters up for Border Collie puppies. I suppose in her opinion the ragged ball of fluff was actually a real dog this time, and not some black & white weasel.

Judge was not nearly as open-minded. The puppy walked forward to greet him and he fell backward over himself lest it give him white dog cooties. I know for a fact that Judge eats decomposing forest animals. His standards aren't high, so his opinion of Bramble was pretty low.

But suck it up, Buttercup. We don't get to choose siblings or dorm roommates. I set Bramble up in a stout pen that was placed inside a stall with an attached run for livestock. Two dairy goats and Judge were elected to become the unwilling roommates. The goats are with her day and night, and the Anatolian is with the pup all night. The goats spent the first night staring at her in disapproval. Judge ignored her. He wouldn't even come into the stall. On the second night she recognized him as her bunkmate and greeted him enthusiastically. He growled at her and walked outside.

Not to be discouraged, she extended the olive branch the next night too. He walked into the stall, gave a weak wag of the tail and walked past her. On the fourth night she eagerly greeted him again when he walked in. Judge gave her a decent tail wag and plopped down beside her kennel to sleep.

This morning he assumed his dayshift responsibilities with Briar while the pup was on her morning break, cavorting with her new friends, the herding dogs.

They galloped past Judge and she screeched to a halt when she recognized her roommate.

He greeted her with all the enthusiasm of a soldier guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Then he cracked. The big dog sneaked in a tail wag and an ear kiss before sending the puppy off to play.

I think these two will pair well together in the future as guard dog partners. And in the mean time, she's safe at night with her dairy goats and her bodyguard.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:10 pm   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 12 March 2018


 

Except for the rustle of a bird here and there, the forest was quiet. I waited. And I waited. Then I did what everyone waiting alone in the woods does - I checked to see how many bars I had. One bar! Woo hoo! I hadn't found the Anatolians, but I had found the next best thing. A cell phone sweet spot. So I checked Facebook. Checked my email. Checked Twitter. Checked Facebook again. The forest was still quiet. Nothing. The Anatolians had already been gone for 30 hours. Even on a good day my mind jumps to catastrophic expectations. I had already mentally explored every possible way for them to get killed in a five mile radius. It's an astonishing large number. I played out the ramifications. Two buddies lost. Two and a half years wasted. One aging dog left to cover all the responsibilities. If I lost that dog none of my sheep or chickens would be able to safely leave the barnyard.

I checked again. Still one bar. I started scrolling ads for Pyrenees puppies in Texas. I did a search for Pyrenees/Komondor, like Briar. Nothing. Try Great Pyrenees. Jackpot. Any large generic white dog is tagged a Great Pyrenees. After I sorted those out I then sorted by purebred and crossbred. If I know the breeder I don't mind getting an LGD crossbred. Briar is an LGD mix. (Weeks earlier I had checked with Briar's breeder. She didn't have anything available yet. I assured her I was in no rush. One dead calf and two missing Anatolians later and I was in a rush.) So since I didn't know the breeders, the only assurance I had that the pup was an LGD breed, was for me to get a purebred Great Pyrenees. That sorted out a lot more ads. Then I had to sort by puppies from working parents that had been socialized to livestock. That knocked down the field considerably. I finally had a handful of advertisements for Great Pyrenees puppies that were clearly from a working background. The final search. Badger faces?

Briar has a little superhero mask. I've always liked that. I'm sure that if my first LGD had been solid white I would probably prefer all white, but as it was, the cherry on the sundae of my search was a badger face. A pure white pup was not a deal breaker. Obviously color means nothing, but if you're sorting, you may as well admit you like that super hero mask. A search on badger faced female Great Pyrenees pups across Texas produced two ads. I sat in the forest and debated. Did I really want to deal with getting another dog? Another freaking dog. Even I groaned. Then visions of the dead calf drifted into my head. I sent out two emails.

Here's the reality. The cold hard reality that most pet people don't understand is that these dogs are not pets. They're not. Yes, they're family members and we can make loving pets out of them, but if I just needed a pet, I'd go to an animal rescue and I'd only have three freaking dogs. That's it. No more. But I don't. I have a ranch. I have a ranch where cattle, sheep, goats and chickens spread out over a pretty broad wooded area. I must have the Border Collies to control the livestock and guardian dogs to patrol for predators. So why don't we just shoot all the coyotes? Son wanted to know that. He's a hunter and cannot understand why we don't just call, bait, trap, and shoot every coyote we find. I can argue with him until I'm blue in the face about the research which shows that it doesn't work but let's take another approach. Are you going to kill every predator that walks and flies?

After you shoot every coyote, cougar and bobcat, are you then going to kill every raccoon, oppossum and skunk? And then every vulture? I have a friend who loses newborn calves every year to vultures. Are you going to kill every vulture that circles above? When does it stop?

If my livestock were locked in a small area I'd be able to just have one Livestock Guardian Dog surrounded by hotwire. Briar grew up that way and it was very effective. But my livestock now have access to several hundred heavily wooded acres. I cannot put hotwire on the top and bottom of all that, and I will not sit out there with a rifle and kill every predator that moves. So Saturday I was reduced to sitting in the forest in an RTV waiting for my husband to clear an area on foot because it was too wild for a wheeled vehicle. I dropped him off at one point with plans to pick him up at another. He was looking for two missing Anatolians and a missing bull. (No, don't ask. They were not together.)

He met me at the creek, without dogs or bull. I told him about the ads. He grunted. He wanted an older, already working Pyrenees, but that won't fit into our household. We'd have to start with a puppy. That's another thing pet people don't understand. Why do you have so many dogs? Why don't you just re-home the old ones and the disabled ones? You could just keep the dogs that are currently working.

Seriously? That's like working for a company for 20 years and having them fire you with no retirement package. Except for two dogs that I re-homed WITH MY MOTHER because of bitch fights in the household, and one pyschotic police dog who actively hunted my sheep, we don't re-home retired dogs. They've earned that retirement. All our dogs get a nice retirement package where they get a comfortable life. Chores are modified so they still get to participate and feel like contributing members of the team. The half-blind, deaf double merle dog had extenuating circumstances and we took her on knowing that she would only be a pet. She and the Labrador are the only dogs here that could be considered pets-only. Everyone else either works, did work, or is training to work.

So let's circle to the other argument. Why don't you just trash both roaming Anatolians and get something that stays home? No. Just. No. First off, all LGD breeds roam. Some breeds may have a tendency to stay closer to the flock than others, but don't fool yourself. They all roam. People don't call them "Disa-Pyrs" for nothing. That said, I do admit I made the mistake of getting siblings. I should have gotten one brother, and then later gotten another. Separately the Anatolian brothers are great. They pair with the old Pyrenees cross and stay close to the flock. But when the brothers get together they cancel each other out. I no longer have three dogs, I only have one dog. The other two are frat boys on spring break. After the calf was killed and I actively needed them to be able to run and chase coyotes away from a broader area, they were able to handle only one day of being together. The second day they were gone for six hours, so I clipped their wings and separated them again. The next morning Jury went to great trouble to climb out of his prison and convince his brother to go walkabout. They were gone a day and a half.

No more chances. The little bastards will be separated and stay in their day shift/night shift routine which appears to work. The Anatolians left shortly before 8 am on Friday morning. We spent all day Saturday searching for them. It's physically impossible to hunt that area on a vehicle. It's even difficult on horseback because of the meandering creek. We have a drone to cover a lot of it. After covering as much on foot and ATV as possible, we drove around to surrounding ranches and talked to every neighbor, stranger, and oilfield worker we could find. One of the dogs was sighted almost 5 miles away. At 3:30 pm we went back home for lunch. At 4 pm Judge trotted up as if he hadn't been gone. By 5 pm Jury returned. They were both home safely but the their walkabout had shined a light on the chink in the armor. It was more than a chink. It was a big gaping hole. The boys just aren't ready to handle the job by themselves yet. If we lose Briar to accident or old age, we are shit out of luck. At 5:15 pm I checked my email. One 9 week old badger faced female Pyrenees pup was still available. Raised with goats and chickens. She sent me pictures.

I emailed back. Sold.  I arranged to pick her up in East Texas on Sunday afternoon. Meet Bramble. Or as my friend, Gina, has dubbed her: Briar 2.0


Briar now has a mini-me!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:26 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 07 March 2018


It's time for the gloves to come off. I accept that we live in a remote area and choose to raise livestock in a place that is thick with predators. I do not hunt them. It's tempting when coyotes surround the barnyard and sing as they gather up and point at my sheep like they're standing in line at a cafeteria. "I'll have an order of the sheep please, with a sidedish of goat." It's tempting to shoot at them but I don't. I let the Livestock Guardian Dogs do their jobs.

As long as the stock stays close to the dogs, and vice versa, they're safe. Because the sheep are lambing soon I have limited their grazing in the heavily wooded pastures and moved them to a small pasture below the barnyard where I can keep an eye on them and it's a short run to safety. I'm a 'live and let live' person but any predator caught in active pursuit of my sheep will be shot - if the Livestock Guardian Dogs don't get him first.

But what about the cattle?

A healthy adult cow can pretty much take care of itself but calves are defenseless. A mother cow is a force to be reckoned with and as long as the calves stay close to the herd they are safe. The entire herd will run to their defense. But when a cow leaves the group to sneak away and give birth, she and her baby are most vulnerable. Because of this we try to keep close tabs on imminent births, so yesterday when IB-1 didn't come up we loaded up in the RTV and went out in search of her. The buzzards led us to the crime scene.

Poor IB-1 had chosen to give birth on a sand bar in the creek. The creek is barely running now so the water wasn't a danger. The danger is the dry creek itself. It is a predator superhighway. The banks are very steep making it a veritable killing field because once inside the creek, the predators can swarm down and the prey cannot climb back up fast enough. From what we could piece together of the crime scene it appears that IB-1 had a successful birth and passed the afterbirth. This meant the baby probably nursed but it was highly unlikely the baby was able to climb the steep banks to leave the birth site. They were discovered by a pack of coyotes and the baby was killed. It appears that IB-1 attempted to protect her baby and smash the coyotes into the sand. I dearly hope she was successful. She was not able to save her calf though, and she appears to have injuries on her rear end. She would not let us catch her for a closer inspection. We attempted to drive her toward the barnyard but she circled back to stay with what remained of her dead calf. It broke my heart. It broke my heart to imagine what she went through. It broke my heart to know the mother stood by and waited while they ate her calf.

And we still have more cows calving. The coyotes were so successful so they will certainly double their efforts to take calves and/or birthing mothers. The knee-jerk reaction is to start killing coyotes but that isn't the answer. We can shoot one pack and another will move in. We must somehow convince the pack here that it isn't safe for them to hang around the livestock. To do this we moved the birthing cows into the sheep pasture and we unleashed the dogs. "Let slip the dogs of war."

Because the Anatolian Shepherds tend to roam and hunt varmits when they are together, we normally keep them separated, pairing one with Briar while we confine the other. Jury normally does night shift with Briar while Judge is locked in the pens with the sheep. Briar stays close to the barnyard. The boys are drawn to address a threat by galloping out and hunting it down. I discourage this behavior. You cannot protect the sheep if you are not WITH the sheep. But yesterday, as I stood over the remains of that poor little calf, it was time to pull the gloves off and give in to their natural tendency to pursue those damned coyotes. I haven't been able to stop it anyway so during calving and lambing I may as well use it to my advantage. We have no close neighbors and it isn't hunting season so if they do happen to get off the property they aren't likely to run into anyone.

So yesterday we took off the gloves, and we took off the bells. The Livestock Guardian Dogs wear bells on their collars. When we moved here we put bells on the dogs and the dairy goats so the predators didn't know whether the bell belonged to a meal or a marine. The bells clang as the dogs run. Yesterday we took off the bells so the dogs could run silently through the forest. We turned them together and the boys ambled off to the pasture side by side. Thirty minutes later Judge was lying with calves and Jury was lying with the horses. At dusk they were gone. I didn't hear any coyotes last night.

Unaware she's on the menu, a calf danced and played in the sunshine this morning.

I walked outside to watch her and saw that she wasn't alone - and she's no longer on the menu.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:44 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email

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