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Monday, May 14 2018

Just in case it comes up again, a Crime Scene Investigator can always tell the difference between the smell of decomposition and the overwhelming aroma of spring flowers. After all these years I'm not sure why he even bothers to question me, but nevertheless, he did. Seriously dude? Flowers?

Days like this really should come with a soundtrack so you get some warning. I opened up the wooden feed bin to feed the chickens. A mouse ran one direction. I ran the other. Screaming. There was much screaming. I don't do rodents. One would think my training as a Crime Scene Investigator would harden me for anything. Rotting bodies? Check. Rodents running near my fingers? Negative.

The mouse was trapped in the bin. A Rodent Removal Specialist was needed, because I wasn't getting it out. Senior Special Agent Lily heard my call for assistance. The Border Collie leaped into the feed bin and assaulted the mouse. When she peeked over the wall at me to confirm the assassination job was complete, I crept up and peeked over the side. Mangled rodent. My turn. Okay. Okay. Okay. I can do this. I took the feed scoop and slowly scooped the body up. The mouse regained consciousness and started a quick wobble up the scoop toward my wrist. The metal scoop clattered to the concrete along with the rodent. There was more screaming.

The Border Collie did a better job the second time. I sort of felt sorry for the little fellow. (Yes, I note my bipolar behavior too. "Eeek! Kill it!" "Awww... poor thing.") The Labrador raced up to inform everyone the mouse was his. Because Lily has high self-esteem, she was unconcerned by the Dillon's attempts to steal her work. He had his chance. Everyone saw it. He could have leaped into that feed bin too but he didn't. Like the guy at the office who takes credit for your work, he stole her mouse. She didn't give it a second thought. Nor did I. Problem solved. I thought.

Apparently my screams had sent out a 911 call across the sheep pasture too and the Big White Dawgs responded. The Livestock Guardian Dogs arrived in the barnyard to find me calmly filling chicken feeders. Judge noted Dillon had something interesting so he ambled up to the Labrador and said, "Hey Dude, whatcha got?"

The Labrador bit him on the ear.

Judge screamed and the reaction was much like an Avengers movie Hulk snatching up Loki. The giant Anatolian grabbed the Labrador by the head and flipped him over like a rag dog. There was no dog fight. It was like being bitch slapped by a gorilla. Over and done. I think I peed in my pants.  The Hulk glared at me as I took his collar and hauled him off Dillon. I beat him with an empty chicken feed sack. (Okay, I shouted and slapped him a couple of times with the sack to make my point. Thou shalt not eat the House Dogs.) Judge informed me that he was the victim here. The brown dog bit him first. His ear was bleeding. Well, okay. There's that. I locked Judge in a kennel and Dillon, hackles still up from ears to tail, bounced away like Tigger as if nothing happened. God protects drunks and fools.

Coffee. Coffee. Where did I set my coffee?

I located my coffee mug, took a moment to breathe, and reflected on my plans for the day. We were missing a bull. We'd been missing the fence-jumping bastard for months. Last week we located him two ranches away but he opted against coming home and we didn't have enough Border Collies with us to force the issue, so we chose to return when we were better prepared. Not a task I was eager to start. Any more coffee? There was not.

While I was nursing the last drop of caffeine, Jury, the other Anatolian, shot out from underneath the cattle trailer to chase buzzards in the sky above the barnyard. As he ran, more buzzards exploded from a tree on the other side of the fence. A clue. I grabbed a gun and walked that direction. Jury slid under the fence and flushed up another set of buzzards by the pond. Definitely a clue. As I creeped through the mesquite and thorny black locust brush, I regretted my lack of preparation for this adventure. Blue jeans and snake boots would have been a plus. As it was, shorts and my oversized Justin boots with the cracks at the seams were the uniform of the day. The thorns scratched my legs. Penalty for my poor choice of fashion.

As I made my way to the pond, the whiff of decomposition floated past like a feather in the wind. Where? What? Who? Thus began the questions? Did I count lambs last night? Had we lost a calf? Impossible. Nothing would be bold enough to take a calf this close to the barnyard and the guard dogs. The decomp smell in the air laughed at me.

I couldn't find it. The area near that pond was a thorny jungle. The rising sun, the wind, and the berms around the pond were doing crazy things with the scent. I found an area thick with blowflies and heavy with decomp scent but still couldn't locate the source. A large red cow pushed her way through the brush. Delta the Flying Cow studied and then dismissed me to continue her journey. She bellowed for her calf.

Well, shit.

I walked to a place I could get cell reception and phoned the Other Half. "I smell decomp and Delta is calling for her calf." That's not the wake-up call he wanted. He loaded up the ATV with cattle cubes and I met him in the pasture.  Good news. Delta had found her calf. Bad news. We were still missing a cow. Snickers was due to have a calf. She'd gone walkabout. Perhaps the decomp smell was afterbirth. Fingers crossed. Since Snickers is an experienced mother, an extensive search of the property was not launched. She normally comes up a few days after her calf is born. Another cow bawled in the forest.

Wait! Black cow. Pushing through the brush!

The black thing that stepped out of the forest into the open pasture was not Snickers with a calf. It was a bull. Our bull. Our fence-jumping bastard had leaped four good barbed wire fences to get into this pasture. The cows were delighted to see him. Most of them had calves on the ground and romance on their mind. "Set up your dates now, Ladies, cuz he's going to the sale barn next week." Cattle that jump fences get sold.

That problem solved itself. Now, the smell.

We drove back to the pond. The Other Half couldn't smell it. "All I smell is flowers. Are you sure you smell something dead?"

Seriously? Did he just ask a CSI and 20 buzzards that question?

I walked into the scent cone and made him stand in it. Okay. Maybe it wasn't flowers he smelled.

With a bit more poking around we located the source. Dead raccoon. A poor raccoon had come to drink and was discovered by a Livestock Guardian Dog. I regret that. I really do. I don't like the dogs to kill things. On the other hand, in the years BB (Before Briar) I experienced the results of raccoons in a chicken coop. Night after night. They put me out of business. Poor raccoon, my ass. Nope. Not going through that again. That's why I have these big white dogs.

And thus was a typical Saturday morning. I did the mental tally as I loaded up and drove back to the house. Still missing a cow. Lost a raccoon. Lost a mouse. Almost lost a Labrador. Found a bull. The ebb and flow of mystery and drama on a ranch. And all before noon.

Update: Snickers returned to the herd with a bull calf on Sunday.

 Click to find the Farm Fresh Forensics book!
Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:56 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Just a note to tell you I bought your book and read it in one evening I laughed and cried and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm technology impaired, don't know how to send you a photo, but the Terv's were all glad to see me get back on my feet when I finished the book. Thanks for a good read!
Posted by Sheila Retherford on 05/14/2018 - 05:36 PM
Awwww....thank you! I love to hear that!
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 05/15/2018 - 09:40 AM
We had a swimming bull once. Off to the market he went. Fence jumpers same fate. God protects drunks and fools. I am still laughing. It is so true. Totally can relate to the wrong choice of clothing. After wearing wide leg yoga pants and getting hung up on the barbed wire when speed was of the essence and getting scratched up chasing cows through the woods while wearing shorts, I decided only to wear my sturdiest cotton canvas pants and jeans. If I don't, I sit on the tailgate and observe.
Posted by Ashley on 05/15/2018 - 07:06 PM
Ashley, my poorest fashion choice is a toss-up. Either it's the yoga pants or the saggy blue jean that I have to hold up!
Posted by Forensicfarmgirl on 06/16/2018 - 04:48 PM

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