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Saturday, January 26 2019

At some time or another most adults have stared in confusion at a child's homework. For every generation there is now a new and improved method for extracting the same answer you got when you were a kid. (And show your work, please.) Although in the classroom we must all agree to accept that there is more than one way to skin a cat, on a farm, math always stays the same. For example, 

1 Anatolian + 1 Old Pyrenees cross = 2 Livestock Guardian Dogs 

or stack it

      

 = 2 Livestock Guardian Dogs

Here are other equations:


1 Old Pyrenees cross + 1 Pyreness puppy = 2 Livestock Guardian Dogs

  

+

= 2 Livestock Guardian Dogs 

1 Anatolian + 1 Anatolian = 0 Livestock Guardian Dogs 

   

= Zero Livestock Guardian Dogs


 A few weeks ago a raccoon was bold enough to come into the chicken yard at a time when the dogs were under lockdown. No loose dogs to guard the farm resulted in a headless chicken and an enraged farmer. Score one for the Boogey Beast. This also resulted in more farm math. Let us set up the equation. And show our work.


 

10 chickens + 1 raccoon = 9 chickens

This leads to another equation:

9 chickens + 1 raccoon + 1 Anatolian = 9 chickens + 1 Anatolian + 1 dead raccoon

therefore,

1 dead chicken = 1 dead raccoon 

Are you beginning to see how this works? Let's try another one.


10 chickens + 3 guineas + 1 fox = 10 chickens + 2 guineas 

Our next equation is: 

10 chickens + 2 guineas + 1 Anatolian + 1 fox = 10 chickens + 2 guineas + 1 Anatolian + 1 dead fox

thus, 

1 dead guinea = 1 dead fox


I see you're getting the hang of it, so let's set the next one up as a word problem. 

A farmer has 20 chickens, 2 guineas and 7 dogs. If that farmer feeds and releases 17 chickens and 2 guineas to free range in the barnyard, and then takes 7 dogs for a walk, how many birds will the farmer have when she returns from a 20 minute walk? 

(The answer is actually in the form of a fraction.) 

The farmer will have 2 guineas and 16.2 chickens. 

A wing. (We will estimate that a wing is .2 percent of a chicken.)


We need to show our work, so let's set it up. 

17 chickens + 2 guineas = 19 loose birds
 
19 loose birds + 7 dogs + X 
X = Boogey Beast

subtract 7 dogs

that leaves .......   19 loose birds + BoogeyBeast X 

This results in 18 loose birds and a fraction of the 19th bird

What is missing from this equation? 

Yes, the rest of the chicken.

Who can project the next equation? 

Correct. 

The next equation is set up as follows:

18 loose birds + 1 Anatolian + 2 Pyrenees + BoogeyBeast X = ?
 

Undoubtedly this will be the result 


1 dead chicken = 1 dead Boogey Beast

It is quite clear from our mathmatics equations that at no point can free range poultry be without Livestock Guardian Dogs for even the shortest amount of time. To hijack the quote by R.J. Childerhose, "There are old Boogey Beasts and there are bold Boogey Beasts. There are no old bold Boogey Beasts."

 Click to find the Farm Fresh Forensics book!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:28 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, January 12 2019


Anyone who lives on a farm is familiar with the emotion. You have lovingly raised something. Poured your heart, your soul,
your time and your money into it. And then you stand in the barnyard and wish it dead. 

Rubber boots aren't made for running, but I still managed to kick him in the ass like a soccer ball. Roosters. I hate
them. If you only want eggs then you don't even need them. I started with seven Golden-Laced Wyandotte hens. No rooster.
Didn't want one. Didn't need one. 

Then my hens started free ranging. They soon left the barnyard area for excursions into the Land Of The Boogey Beast.
That's when I decided I needed a rooster. They do more than just procreate. Roosters are really good at watching for
predators and protecting the hens. Let me be a cautionary tale for you. Don't do this!

Because I'd been wanting to add Blue-Laced Wyandottes, this was the perfect excuse. I
got two beautiful blue roosters and eight lovely blue hens - who unfortunately were all infected with Marek's disease and
were not vacccinated. One by one I lost all but two hens to Marek's. The remaining two hens died of heat stroke last
summer, but not before I was able to save their genes. 

They had proven resistant to Marek's disease thus it was really important to me to save those genes. When the first blue
flock started falling dead of Marek's disease I had acquired two more blue roosters and two more blue hens that had been
vaccinated for Marek's. I pulled one blue rooster (Russell Crowe) and bred him to the last Marek's blue hens. The other
blue rooster (Egger Allan Poe) stayed with the new blue hens. Egger appears to be infertile but by all other counts he's
an excellent rooster (if there is such a thing) and thus he gets to stay. 

We marked and incubated the fertilized eggs last spring. None of Egger's eggs hatched.  Four of Russell's eggs hatched. We
were able to vaccinate three of the four chicks for Marek's disease. This was an unfortunate mix-up with the vaccine. Who
knew you had to use ALL the vaccine within a few hours once the vials had been mixed? Now we know. One chick was well
behind the others in hatching and didn't get his shot, thus this bird will be the experimental bird to see if the Marek's
resistent genes pulled through. It sounds good in theory. The reality is that I may put the little bastard in a stew pot
first. 

Three of the four hatched eggs turned out to be roosters. The single hen looks exactly like my favorite hen who died of heat
stroke - Margaret Thatcher, thus I have named her Maggie.

She is an angel. Her brothers are assholes. Well, not really. One
brother is okay. The ugliest one. The brother with no neck. He has a nice temperament. Beautiful plummage. But no neck.
His head kinda sprouts from his shoulders. Thus I named him No Neck. 

The other brothers are exquiste. They were exactly what I wanted to reproduce. They were so beautiful I even forgave them
for being roosters, until . . . 

Let's do some math. I started out with 7 Golden-Laced Wyandotte hens. I lost one to a predator when she left the barnyard and another got sick and died a few weeks ago. Let's ommit all the Marek's blue hens since they died. I can count the 2 new blue hens, and the one blue hen that I hatched. That's 8 hens. That's really all the chickens I wanted or needed, but then my mom ended up giving
me most of her Speckled Sussex hens - 10 more hens. One hen crawled into a spot to lay an egg and couldn't get out. She died there.
Another was killed by a raccoon. That left me 8 Speckled Sussex hens, 3 Blue-Laced Wyandotte hens, 5 Golden-Laced
Wyandotte hens and 5 Blue-Laced Wyandotte roosters. That's 4 more roosters than any sane person needs. BUT - 

My chickens do not stay together. They split themselves into four different flocks, each with its own coop and its own yard which opens into the main barnyard which they all share. (Think of it as apartment complexes which open into the same city.)

 

Egger Allan Poe has 2 Blue hens, and 5 Sussex hens. Russell Crowe has 5 Golden Girls. Three Sussex hens have opted to roost in a coop
by themselves with no rooster. No surprise there. And until this morning the 3 young roosters, and their sister, had a coop that they share with what guineas remain from Other Half's failed experiment with guineas. I had pulled the young hen, Maggie, out and placed her with another flock but she immediately escaped and joined her brothers again, and since I haven't noticed them harrassing her, I let her
stay. Until yesterday they didn't have real names. Now their names are: Colonel Sanders & Soup Pot.

Russell Crowe and Egger Allan Poe are excellent roosters. They take good care of their tiny flocks, but are being run
ragged by a pair of thugs bent of raping their hens. This recently came to my attention and bothered me greatly. The
little thugs lie in wait for the hens around the feeders and the coops, thus the hens cannot eat and they cannot return to
their coops without fear of being raped.

Their own roosters cannot fight off two thugs because while the rightful husband is busy chasing one
thug, the other thug is free to assault his hens. I complained to Other Half who dismissed it as the natural goings on in
a barnyard. This pissed me off further.  Other Half has not counted on a few things. 

1) This is NOT the natural order of things because in nature that many birds are not forced by food, fencing, and housing
to co-mingle in the same area. (That is what we call city life.)

2) I am the God governing this little planet that is my barnyard and if I say the behavior pisses me off, then God has
spoken and the roosters are either to be incarcerated, sold, or end up in a soup pot. 'Nuff said. 

3) The first little snot who attacks me will be beaten to death with a t-post. He might have Marek's resistant genes but
he doesn't have t-post resistant genes. 

And so this morning the sun rose on a new chicken yard - Alcatraz.

It's a 12 x 12 chain-link cell with a dog house in it. If a
raccoon gets past the Livestock Guardian Dogs and climbs inside Alcatraz then hopefully the dog will kill the raccoon on his way out. I'm not
concerned with the safety of prisoners. This pen is kinda like the goat in Jurassic Park. Actually, I did parole No Neck
since his only crime was being a rooster. No Neck was released into the custody of his sister and the guineas while the
Rapist Thugs will remain behind bars until they either go live somewhere else, get eaten by a raccoon, or end up in a stew
pot. The weather is getting colder. And I do love chicken and dumplings. 

 Click to find the Farm Fresh Forensics book!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:05 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, January 10 2019

Look at this face. 

Part Snidley Whiplash, part Eddie Haskell, this dog is Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa."  An old geezer now, Cowboy is
probably a fugitive from some Old Folk's home. Scratch that, he's not a fugitive - they threw him out. With his sweet face
and lopsided grin, it's tempting to think of him as an old grandpa, but only if your granddad pees on the couch and
exposes himself. He's crude. He's crass. He doesn't even warn you with a "Pull my finger." This dog swigs whiskey with a
cigar hanging out one side of his mouth. He poops in the other dogs' toy box. If someone else is taking a leak, he sidles up and pisses on them. Cowboy is Bad Santa.

Each year we tell ourselves that this may be his last winter. Son jokes that we've said that for five years now and the
immortal foul-mouthed, cigar-smoking, drunkard is still putzing along. Seniority has its privileges - softer beds, more
unsupervised time out. Unfortunately Bad Santa has burned his bridges where that's concerned. His time must be supervised
or you'll find him outside another male dog's kennel, flashing gang signs in an attempt to start a fight through the
fence. If he's loose with a female dog he's trying to molest her. If he's by himself, he marks the recliner. 

His longstanding feud with Ranger, the Blue Heeler, seems to have settled into "Grumpy Old Men" status. One is Jack
Lemmon and the other is Walter Matthau. They despise each other but neither has the energy to do much about it now. Cowboy has
long since retired from actual cow work but still insists on sneaking into the game, hoping to die in a blaze of glory.
More than a few cows around here would happily oblige him. And if it came to pass, I'm not sure if Ranger would cheer, or
silently salute his longtime rival as a worthy adversary who had a good death in battle.

Time has not been kind to him. Years of pulling on the bars of kennels have broken his canine teeth. He had three more
teeth pulled this summer. He lives on pain meds for his bad back, courtesy of a run-in with a donkey - a poor decision
that he lives with daily now. But Bad Santa keeps plugging along. Every day that the sun comes up, Cowboy rises to meet it
like Tim Conway's shuffling old man, waiting for his rimadyl to kick in. He shuffles to the fence where he rallies forth
to charge cows or horses who push too close as they wait for their breakfast. Cowboy stays there as I do chores,
marching along the fence, a grizzled, unshaven soldier, cigar still hanging out, and hung over from the night
before. This old dog does not "go gentle into that good night." He spits a wad of tobacco in Death's eye, and keeps
moving onward. And if Death lingers too closely, that old dog may just hump his leg or pee on his robe. But in the mean
time, Cowboy sleeps in the sun and dreams of working cows and pissing in someone's coffee. 

 Click to find the Farm Fresh Forensics book!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:50 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, January 09 2019

 I measure the success of the Livestock Guardian Dogs not by the body count of dead predators, but by the body count of live
livestock. It's easy to get lulled into a sense of complacency when all your numbers add up each night. It's easy to start
thinking that Livestock Guardian Dogs aren't as necessary. It's easy to start feeling bad when the Big White Dogs leave
raccoon bodies in their wake like tourists leave litter. Or perhaps feeling that escaping Anatolians aren't worth the trouble of
juggling them daily. But then . . .

Most of the year we live in relative solitude, but Deer Season in Texas is by all measure, the shotgun start of weekends
of activity as city dwellers swarm to the country in search of peace, quiet, beer and Bambi. Because one camp of hunters
is close to our sheep pasture and another group of hunters has a deer blind close to our fence, we try to lock up the
Livestock Guardian Dogs when the hunters are down for the weekend. Just as most hunters don't appreciate a dog barking at
them when they're trying to be stealthy, people seeking peace and solitude also do not appreciate a dog the size of a
small pony wandering into the camp with a curious, "Howdy Neighbor!"

This past weekend was the last weekend of Buck Season and so hunters were down trying to get their last shot at a big
buck. Starting Wednesday night, Judge and Jury, the Anatolians, went on lock-down. They cannot be trusted not to visit the
neighbors. The Pyrenees-bred fluffy, white dogs, Briar and Bramble normally stay closer to home. Bramble will stay with
Briar but can be coaxed to join Judge in a Welcome Wagon expedition to the hunter's camp, so in an effort to nip that
foolishness in the bud, Bramble's new working partner is the tried, true, and trustworthy Briar.

Briar and Bramble are normally loose all day long. In the evening Bramble is locked in the barn with the sheep. Jury
normally is loose all night to guard the barnyard. The chickens free range all day long and return to four
separate coops at night. They are locked safely in these coops when the sun sets. After dark Briar is locked in one pen with chickens and Judge is locked in the chicken pen farthest from the house. This system works
pretty well, but hinges on the fact that one or two Livestock Guardian Dogs are loose in the barnyard at dusk when the
chickens are returning to their coops. And therein lies the problem. The chink in the armor. 

Dogs MUST be loose in the barnyard at all times. It's easy to get complacent. Easy to assume. Surely the Boogey Beast
would not be so bold as to launch an attack so close to the house. And "bold" is the word of the day. Read my lips. 

We have 12 dogs. Twelve. Two more than ten. Except at night, half of those dogs are either running loose or locked in
outside kennels in a rather large barnyard. Thursday night was The Perfect Storm. 

We decided to go out for a pizza. For two days we'd had rain and sleet, thus the outside kennels were a muddy mess. All
non-Livestock Guardian Dogs were either locked in the house or in the barn. Because the hunters were in blinds close to
the fence, we discussed whether or not to lock up Briar and Bramble. They'd been loose all day, but hunters would be more
active now, so we decided the neighborly thing to do would be to lock up the Livestock Guardian Dogs. Because the chickens
were not yet in their coop for the night, I didn't lock Judge in the chicken pen. I normally feed him in there and if
chickens are not locked in the coop they will foolishly try to steal from his bowl. So I opted to wait and lock Judge in
there when I got back. This proved to be more than a small chink in the armor. 

We returned home exactly 1 1/2 hours later and as is my habit, I immediately went to lock coops and move Livestock
Guardian Dogs. I was greeted by bloody feathers, a headless chicken, and shellshocked survivors. Rage. Rage doesn't even
begin to describe it. It's bad enough to lose a chicken, but when something just eats the head and nothing else, that adds
insult to injury. We had not interrupted the Boogey Beast's meal. The bird was stone cold. Apparently the Beast struck
shortly after we left. 

There are several guarantees in this world - death, taxes, and the return of the Boogey Beast. It is likely this
particularly Beast is a raccoon because they are quite numerous here and are notorius for beheading chickens. I stared down at my headless chicken and thought about the number of times I have stared regretfully at a raccoon carcass baking in the sun after a close encounter with a white dog the night before. I will no longer feel sorry for Rocky Raccoon who cannot outrun an Anatolian. No sympathy whatsoever. 

The life span of a chicken is from birth until its first encounter with a raccoon. The life span of a raccoon is from birth until its first encounter with a Big White Dawg. And there you have it. An hour and a half. That's the measure of your security system. It's easy to believe the dogs aren't worth the trouble when they're working and your nightly numbers add up, but how long can you go without the dogs? I cannot go even an hour and a half.  

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:01 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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