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Monday, December 12 2011

Even though we are still in the midst of a drought, the winter rains have returned. While this is wonderful news, it is still terribly annoying if you haven't built your sheep shed yet. On the farm that I just sold, the sheep had 2 large roomy stalls, a covered area, a paddock, and their pasture.


Now that they are squeezed in with the cattle, they have a paddock behind the barn. That's it. No stall with deep shavings. No eight acres to roam and run away from the Border Collie. Just a paddock and supervised access to pasture and the yard. Fortunately, they have a good lobbyist (ME!) and their living conditions are improving, but for the most part, this place is set up for cattle not sheep. BUT. . . they are still fat and happy girls.

However, anticipating the inevitable Sh*t Fit that would arrive along with the cold rain, Other Half took it upon himself to build a sheep shed one night when I was at work - by himself.  Good Boy!  (click & treat)  Imagine my delight when I arrived home to find that he had constructed a rather fine sheep shed to surprise me.  Other men bring roses, mine builds sheep sheds to show his love.

He was putting the finishing touches on the shed as I arrived, and so I chipped in to help. In order to have less help, we evicted the sheep. It was dark. I didn't figure they'd get too far from the barn.  The horses were in their stalls. The cattle were out in the pasture. The sheep could have some nice unsupervised grazing while we were working. (insert ominous music here)

It sounded good on paper.  What happened was that when it was time to come back in, everyone came in but 3 ewes who had hoofed it across the pasture, across the oat field, and onto the neighbor's farm.  The neighbor owns one horse, and 2 pitbulls. (who kill cats) Yeeeeahhhhhh . . . Since Briar was locked in the back yard, a certain trio of trespassing sheep would be defenseless against pitbulls.

Here's what happened:

Other Half informs me that he can shake a bucket and call them back. (not on a cold day in hell) I cannot even see their eyes with a flashlight. Rut ro!  We're screwed. He heads out in the mule toward the neighbor's place while calling Lily (Border Collie #1) to come with him.  Negative, Ghost Rider.  Lily is a titty-baby and will not go with him - not even to work sheep.

I dearly love my dog, but know her limitations.  In order to fetch these sheep, she must go a LONG way away from mom, into the dark, through three fences, and onto a strange farm.  It ain't happenin'.  I start walking to the kennels.

This is a job for Super Puppy!

      This is a job for a red & white heat-seeking missile.

This is a job for Trace!

What he lacks in control, he more than makes up for in confidence - confidence at a distance. And distance is what I need in the dark.

Trace is beyond delighted that he is The Chosen One and happily races out to the pasture to catch up with Other Half. Lily and I join them. We climb into the oat patch and still cannot see the sheep.  Other Half phones the neighbor before we slither through his fence. (WAIT!  Scratch that. Border Collies slither through barbed wire fences. People over the age of 45, painstakingly bend over, grunt, do the Pincushion Limbo, and cuss through barbed wire fences) 

Other Half calls him to:

 A) ask permission

 B) make sure the pitbulls are penned.

Once we secure permission, Other Half pushes the button on The Missile. 


I do not even bother to command Lily to run off into the darkness to locate the trespassers. (A girl's GOT to know her limitations.)  Trace races off into the night.  Even though I should concern myself with his education, and how this is probably not on the LESSON PLAN, I have a problem. Trace is a stock dog, ergo, Trace must handle problems. I am less concerned with his developing education as I am with coyotes and pitbulls eating 3 of my best ewes. And so, the missile is launched.

. . .

                      (crickets chirping)

Lily stares off into the night.

Moments tick by.

"Here they come!"

Sure enough, as Other Half flashlights (yes, that's a word. A verb. I just made it up.) the pasture, three idiots come at us at a breakneck speed.  They fly past us and Trace kicks into warp drive to get ahead and stop them. He turns the idiots around and heads them back to us. (I heard a sonic boom.) At this point we decide that trying to have Trace control 3 ewes who are higher than crackheads behind a convenience store, through 3 barbed wire fences is probably a lesson in futility.  He located them. He returned them to us. Let's quit while we're ahead. We call the dog off. They race toward home. Since they are stampeding in the direction of our barn like kindergarteners to the cafeteria we don't need Lily to drive them home.  She is disappointed. She is bummed.  This has not been her night.

While Trace and Other Half find the mule to ride back, Lily and I walk through fences and attempt to locate the ewes who should have arrived a few minutes earlier. Where are they?  I scan the barn yard.  Nothing.  The penned sheep and goats are calling, but there is no answer.  Crap!  Mother Hubbard!  Did the little bi-otches double back on us?

At this point I am so angry that I decide I will NOT call Heat-seeking Missle OFF them a second time!  I stalk around the barn yard in search of sheep. 

 And that's when Lily points and says, "There they are!"

Do what?  Where?

"In there!"

Huh?  Sure enough. The poor mustang cowpony has company in his stall.  At this point, I must clarify that STALL is a bit generous.  He is standing in a narrow addition to the barn that doubles as a place to eat his meal when he's in there, and a parking place for the mule machine when he's not. There is just enough room to park a wide ATV, or a mustang with a wide ass. The gate had been closed to lock him in the stall and thus keep him out of the way for a while. And there, hiding with a very confused mustang, are 3 sheep.  They stare at Lily like deer in the headlights. I put her on a down, and ease into the stall to attempt to push them out.  Negative, Ghost Rider.

They play ring-around-the-rosies under the horse's belly.  This game is not safe for me or them.  Within seconds, I am saying unladylike words.  (French) I'm not sure what part of that French translates to "LILY!  I need your help!" but a certain black & white snake slithers into the stall. At this point I am so terrified of the wreck that is about to occur that I am speechless with horror as the scene unfolds.

The dog locks eyes with the Home Invaders. Glaring, she oozes into the stall and hugs the wall. The sheep salute and begin to quietly melt around the horse and file out of the stall. The horse, no fan of dogs, lifts his back leg to allow one sheep access to leave the stall. And so, like well-oiled band, they march their little asses

        out of that stall . . .

                                 . . . 

                                         . . .  and straight into Trace . . .

                                                                  . . . who is just arriving into the barn yard. 

"GET BACK INTO THAT STALL!!!" His eyes shout as he moves to thwart another prison break.  They run over Lily and me to get back with the horse.  (Sigh)

However Lily's on top of things, and slithers in behind them.  The horse raises an eyebrow as the parade passes through his stall again. Other Half downs Trace at a distance and so while the Little Crackheads look longingly into the direction of the neighbor's farm, they file into their own paddock ahead of Lily, resigned to the fact that the prison guards can chase them down before they can scale the walls.

As the gate clangs shut, the Border Collies congratulate themselves for a job well done. They are tickled to death.  I am happy with them too, for no amount of shaking buckets and calling into the darkness would have accomplished this. Trace has now proven to us that while it might not be pretty, he can shoulder responsibility in a pinch.   And so although Lily lacks distance work, and Trace is rough, VERY ROUGH, around the edges, together they are a pretty good team, and that's what it's all about!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 02:42 pm   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
this is laugh out loud funny! all we need is a photo of the poor beast who suffered the home invasion. so glad it ended well and that all of the two leggeds and four leggeds ended up in the right beds for the night. i needed a laugh in the midst of the holiday nuttiness - thanks!
Posted by clairesmum on 12/12/2011 - 05:07 PM
I have just got home shopping with ex at a wholesale butcher to fill dog fridge up for the nutty season. Long ardious operation filled with a few aches as I hobbled along. Basicsly I have had it, tired worn out and I get home to this epistle of the Texas cow farm with goats and sheep. OH! I needed that. Still laughing. I have some goats in a big paddock just hope they don't find the loose fence down near road before I can get a few willing helpers
Posted by Liz (Vic Aust.) on 12/12/2011 - 10:05 PM
Way to go Team Border Collie!!!
Posted by WolfTexas on 12/13/2011 - 10:49 AM
thanks for giving the complainant equal time! went by a convenience store during my work day and had a nice chuckle at the image of three goats 'like crackheads behind the convenience store."
Posted by clairesmum on 12/13/2011 - 05:11 PM

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