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Tuesday, August 12 2014

     By the light of the smuggler's moon I listened. Yep. There it was. The sound of trouble. I padded back into the house, locked up the rest of the dogs, and flicked a finger to confirm to Lily, that yes, once again, she was the "chosen one."  The little dog raced to the front door and waited while I put on my boots.

    I stood on the front porch and listened again. The water well was still running. Since I'd done a livestock check before the storm swept through that night, I knew no water spigots had been left on by humans. That meant a cow had rubbed her head on a spigot and turned on the water. It was now 1:30 am. The water could have been running since 8:30 pm.

     And it was. By the light of the full moon I could see that the damned calves had flooded the barnyard again. This was what had gotten them locked into the back pasture in the first place. They had only been up in the front pasture for two days, and on Day Two they flooded the pasture. Clearly it was time to lock them in the back again. But first, they must be sorted.

     Just this week Other Half bought a few more little heifers to add to the gene pool. They are considerably younger than the other calves and I'd noticed that they weren't getting their fair share of groceries. Thus they'd been separated from the big calves.

But Other Half had just decided to turn everyone together in the front pasture to enjoy the lush grass that was growing so fast that even the sheep couldn't keep ahead of it. Well, scratch that little experiment. I turned off the water spigot and glanced at the Border Collie beside me. Her eyes bore into me, blazing as bright as the full moon over our heads.

     No rancher wants to sort cattle at 1:30 in the morning. No Border Collie doesn't want to sort cattle at 1:30 in the morning. So with a sigh, I turned toward the pasture. She gave a happy bark and off we went. I trudged through the high grass while she bounced along. No one should be that happy in the middle of the night without loads and loads of caffeine. But despite my bad humor, her happy bounce tugged a smile out of me.

     Ready. These dogs are always ready. And with a quick salute, she raced out and brought the calves up. The youngest calves had never been worked by a dog, but this actually made it easier to sort them from the rest of the crew who wanted no part of that little black & white face with the crazed eyes which glowed in the moonlight.

     The younger calves were a bit bewildered by their nighttime visitor who momentarily stared at them like a serial killer, but then moved on to other victims. She selected the big calves and pushed these troublemakers into the arena, where they could be released into the back pastures.

     It took me longer to walk out there than it took the Border Collie to separate the cattle and push the offenders back into jail. And by the light of the smuggler's moon, we walked back to the house. She had that jaunty little trot with her gay tail waving in the air like a flag raised to the world. It was a good night to be a farm collie.

     I couldn't help but smile as the moonlight shone off her bright eyes. She searched my face, hoping for more chores ahead. I listened in the silence. The water well was quiet once more. It was a good night to be a farm collie. It was a good night to have a farm collie.

"Closing the gate on one more chore!"

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:33 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Having a CB myself, I know how smart these dogs are. I, or better said my dog, have never worked with sheep or herding, though. I have to ask, how does this genius dog know exactly which calves to separate, that is, which calves go where? Nice writing again :)
Posted by Mirja on 08/12/2014 - 02:41 PM
My sister had a wonderful Belgian Tervuren who's eternal expression said, "Oh Boy!". Whether it was working sheep, training a new puppy, or playing with the nieces, he was always up for any activity, excited about it, ready for anything. What a treat to share you life with someone like that. :)
Posted by donna black on 08/12/2014 - 02:45 PM
LOL! She doesn't know by herself. You still have to tell her. When she glares at one I want her to leave, I just say, "Ah, leave that one." She figures it out. We'd still be a train wreck in any real sheepdog trial, but she's my 'go-to' dog for chores.
Posted by forensicfarmgirl on 08/12/2014 - 02:52 PM

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