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Farm Fresh Blog
Saturday, January 30 2010
My sheep can be very "assertive" in the pasture. The lambs have made it a great sport to chase chickens now. Yesterday I watched several ewes and a lamb chasing a cat. Briar seems to have elevated herself in the eyes of the ewes by joining in on these chases. I honestly believe it is a classic example of the philosophy that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."
"Sector 12 is clear!"
Does anyone else have sheep who chase cats and chickens, or are my sheep confused?
Saturday, January 30 2010
Janet asked who Briar gets to play with and so I took a few shots of Briar at play.
Border Collie has finally lowered herself to play with the puppy.
It's often a bit one-sided, but Briar has fun. And more importantly, I feel it's necessary to let her interact with Lily so that she doesn't eat my Border Collie later when she feels her sheep are threatened.
Here is Briar's other trusted playmate. I can totally trust Retired Police Dog not to hurt her. Zena has raised both Blue Heeler and Border Collie. She is very maternal and adores puppies.
The ewes seem to have finally accepted Briar as one of their own. Yesterday I witnessed one of the particularly nasty ewes ask Briar for ear-kisses. Briar groomed the sheep for a long time. When she was through with one ear, she nibbled the ewe's neck. Then Briar went back to scratching her own butt. Ironically, the ewe presented the OTHER ear for cleaning and Briar obliged. I was completely fascinated and wished I had my camera. That's when I made the decision to allow her free access without barriers. Last night was her first night to sleep with the sheep with no bars. Our little girl is growing up! :)
Thursday, January 28 2010
Trying to juggle farm-work and work-work is a constant struggle. Some days I'm better at it than others. My success is directly proportional to the amount of sleep I get. I accept the fact, and will readily admit, that I am a Bitchy Bear when I don't get at least 6 hours of sleep. That's the minimum. The problem with life on a farm is that if I get in from work at 4 AM, the farm still wakes up at 7 AM. Border Collie does her GI Joe crawl across the bed to kiss me and inform me that the sun is up and so is she. The goats begin to scream, and this invariably sets off the sheep. (Don't even get me started on the damned rooster.)
An end-of-the-shift murder call had me getting in late, and thus I'd only had about 4 hours of sleep when the farm got up yesterday. They were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I was not. I was not even close. I staggered to the refrigerator for a bottle of Starbuck's Mocha Frappuccino. It's my addiction. If they made frappuccinos illegal, I'm afraid you'd find me strung out in a crack motel somewhere, except they'd call them "frapp-motels," and dealers would smell of coffee and use code words like "grande" and "vente." But I digress.
I popped open a frapp and wobbled to the patio door to slide into rubber boots. It's hard to put on rubber boots while you're mainlining caffiene and as luck would have it, the cap of my frapp fell off and rolled under the couch. Oh dear! I don't know about the rest of you, but I have at least 5 dogs at any given time inside my home. That's a lot of dog hair. I try to keep it swept up pretty regularly, but nevertheless, it can accumulate under the couch. Generally by the time I move the couch to sweep, you could make a poodle out of the hair trapped under there. And friends and neighbors, that's exactly where my lid rolled! Yuck! Since I really needed the lid, I was forced to get down on my hands and knees and grope about in the darkness until I found it. I suppose I should thank the hairy poodle under the couch that it didn't roll any further. My lid had dog hair stuck to it. Grossssss . . . For a moment, I considered the germs. Then I decided that someone who steps in blood at night shouldn't be too picky about a little dog hair. So with that thought, I slammed the lid back on my frapp and stepped outside.
I locked the main pack of dogs in a paddock to keep them out of the mud, then I staggered to the barn to release Briar and the sheep. s the sheep filed behind us, Briar bounced up and down at my leg. She is now 13 weeks old, and is as solid as a cinder block with legs. I would say she is built like an "excrement domicile" but my grandmother would not have approved of that term and since we have younger readers (who are no doubt racing for their dictionaries as we speak), I have to keep it clean.
It made my head hurt just watching Briar as she danced along. Once in the pasture, I fed both the puppy and the sheep. She wagged her little tail and occasionally paused in her 'heifer-like snarfing" to smile at me. I took a long slow sip of frappuccino and decided it should be against the law to be that happy in the morning. (I told you I am Bitchy Bear without my sleep!)
Briar finished her breakfast and puttered off. The sheep happily hoovered down their food while I kept a watchful eye on Hulk lest he choke again. Several days ago, Hulk was bolting food down so fast that the little booger started to choke and I was forced to do the Heimlich maneuver on a lamb--a very fat lamb. Although I am considered a First Responder, I don't think the police department had lambs in mind when they taught that class. It must have worked though, because the little pig lived.
I stood in the pasture, letting the caffeine slowly drip into my veins, wishing I was still in bed, when a black and white bouncing blur crossed my field of vision. It took a little effort to focus on the Bounce. Tiny Tim was springbokking his way across the pasture. Like a little antelope, he leaped toward Briar. She was deep in thought with her nose crammed in a bush when he stopped in front of her. For a moment they stared at each other, then like a sewing machine, Tiny Tim started bouncing up and down in front of the dog. Her eyes lit up and the chase was on. The little cinder block managed to get up considerable speed, but Tim turned on the juice and kept just out of reach.
Tim was delighted. I was not. I didn't want Briar to discover that she was a foosa after all. While it seemed like innocent fun, I was reminded of that chase scene in the movie, "Madagascar", when the lion and his best friend, the zebra, discover that the lion is a foosa, after he becomes mesmerized by the zebra's butt running in front of him and takes a chomp out of his best friend. Briar and Tiny Tim are tight, but I was afraid that Briar would begin to see lamb chops instead of her little snuggle-buddy. I could almost hear the National Geographic theme song playing in the pasture.
So as the pair raced past me, I dropped a bucket on poor Briar's head. (I know. It was mean. I felt guilty for doing it, but she can't chase the lambs, even if they "started it.") Briar staggered a bit, but immediately spied my leather gloves that fell out of the bucket. Pennies from heaven!!!! Briar LOVES those gloves. She quickly abandoned Tiny Tim and snatched up a glove. Then she danced around to show me that although it was raining buckets, it was also raining leather gloves, and this was a Delightful Thing. Like Winnie-the-Pooh, Briar's world is pretty simple and it's easy to make her happy.
I took another sip of frappuccino and decided that Briar was probably right--when Life throws a Bucket at you, don't get discouraged, your favorite leather gloves just might fall out of it.
Wednesday, January 27 2010
Other Half set out a game camera the other night. After much cussing and taking pictures of our boots, we got the sucker set and attached to the base of a tree. Things have been very busy with murder scenes and murder trials and so on and so forth, that we just now got around to checking the camera. In two days there were over 155 shots! That's a lot of traffic for an abandoned bird pen. Barn cat set it off quite a bit, but that's no surprise. I'm sure rats are still cleaning up bird feed. But guess what! . . . The camera finally captured the BEAST!
Since I watched the animated movie Madagascar, all predators on the farm are now referred to as FOOSAS! (I recently learned that there is actually a critter called a foosa, but it's spelled fossa. It lives in Madagascar and eats lemurs--well duh! That makes sense if you've seen the movie.) Anyway, I digress--the point IS all predators on my farm are referred to as Foosas.
If you're not a vegetarian, you're a foosa. The sheep are not foosas, except when the lambs are chasing the rooster. Gerald the Rooster might argue that lambs are foosas.
The Boogey Beast is definitely a FOOSA! Anything that can disassemble chickens like that critter can do is most certainly a foosa. Our question was purely academic. "What kind of foosa?"
So with the help of a game camera that was set to flash whenever the beam was tripped, we now have a pretty good idea of who visits at night. Here is a our Foosa . . .
. . . .
. . .
But now I've got a foosa too! You just wait Mr. Raccoon! You just wait!
Monday, January 25 2010
We are giving Briar longer and longer periods of free time with the sheep - always under supervision. Today I was glad I had my camera. I'm still laughing. She is approximately 13 weeks old.
Briar with her sheep.
I was leaning on the fence, just supervising, when I noticed Briar alert on something. Three lambs were in hot pursuit of a chicken - YES! The lambs were chasing the Rooster!
Hulk, the testosterone-ridden baby, was in the lead and he wasn't letting up. Briar was fascinated.
Then she decided to join the game.
The lambs stopped as Briar chased the intruder.
Rooster doubled back.
As soon as he was away from the sheep, Briar stopped the chase. Now I ask you, how can I teach the dog that chasing chickens is wrong when the SHEEP are chasing the chickens??? I'll give her credit though. She didn't continue the chase once the rooster got away from the sheep. Good puppy. But all that running did work up a thirst.
"Sector 12 is clear!"
Sunday, January 24 2010
Today we decided to give Briar a little more freedom for a while. She has been spending about 22 hours a day, or more, with the sheep. For her protection, she has been separated by a pen from the ewes with lambs. The lambs like her; the ewes are more suspicious. I'm satisfied they won't kill her now, but I still don't want her to have a bad experience with them. (They obviously have overlooked the idea that it doesn't hurt to have big friends.)
She was delighted to be free with them. As soon as everyone fiinished breakfast, she settled down beside them while they grazed.
All went well until they decided to wander off and she got up to follow them.
As soon as she sat up, they decided she was no longer a sheep, but a FOOSA, a little predator.
"No, seriously, I'm a sheep. Listen. Baaaa!"
Mama Sheep is not fooled.
Briar slinks off.
"Nobody likes me . . . ."
She sees me standing on the fence.
"Ma, nobody likes me."
We discuss it.
And she is convinced to give it another shot.
Then we walked back out there together,
and she lay down with her sheep.
Saturday, January 23 2010
I have often said that what I like so much about living in the country is the comforting silence - no hum of the traffic, no sounds of the city. But if you take a moment to listen, life on a farm has its own sounds.
The sound of a sunrise and a silent moon . . .
The sound of Bloodhound shaking her long ears . . .
She is old and no longer works, but every morning, a shake of those ears starts the day.
The sound of goat feet rat-a-tatting across everything they climb over when I turn them loose . . .
The sound of screaming dogs who are locked up so they won't get muddy feet . . .
The sound of sheep hollering to be fed . . .
The sound of one of the two remaining roosters as he greets the day . . .
He celebrates another night that he escaped the Boogey Beast. This is Remus. His brother Romulus bit the dust.
The sound of animals eating hay . . .
This is the most comforting sound in the world. There would be no more war if everyone just listened to the sound of animals eating hay.
And the sound of silence . . . as Border Collie stares at me and wills me to put down the camera and get on with the serious business of feeding everyone on the farm.
Friday, January 22 2010
There will be no more talk of not bringing Briar in the house for a bath in the kitchen sink.
I give you Exhibit A:
What does this look like to you?
It looks to ME like Other Half has a Working Police Dog in our bed! Does it look that way to you? I protested that I didn't want her dirty feet on the bed and he said, "Her feet are not on the bed."
Right . . . .
Anyway Briar's getting another bath tomorrow -- in the kitchen sink!
Speaking of Briar, this is Briar in her little exercise pen in the sheep pasture. She sits on a bale of hay to oversee her kingdom.
She is content her until the sheep wander off and leave her. Then . . . she has a healthy set of lungs.
"Everybody LEFT me!!!!" Y'all come baaaaaaa- ck!"
Thursday, January 21 2010
I actually got home from work ON TIME last night, so after feeding the critters, I let Briar out of her protective pen for a little "unprotected" time with the lambs. I had to supervise closely as the ewes are fiercely protective and I didn't want Briar hurt. While the ewes munched their hay, the lambs cavorted about and Briar settled down to watch them.
The youngest one soon got tuckered.
They regarded each other.
One of the older lambs had to get involved.
This lamb is a bit pushy, so Briar was given a thorough examination . . .
and didn't measure up as "friend" material.
And typical of playground behavior, there was gossip. "HEY! I just wanted you to know - that kid wearing the funny "Super Hero's mask" is NOT one of us! Firecracker said she wasn't even a SHEEP! And my MOM said that she's REALLY a FOOSA like Border Collie! I mean, you can hang with her if you want - I'm just saying . . . ."
So Tiny Tim listened to their advice, and then made his own decision. Tiny Tim is smaller and not as fast as everyone else, but Tim does have brains. When you're little, it's wise to have big friends (or at least friends who WILL be big some day).
A sidenote: This is in response to all the readers who are ready to lynch the rancher who sold me Briar. The lady is not a monster. She is really a wonderfully sweet person who has a large sheep ranch. Briar's mother was given to her and is so wild that she cannot be caught. She is an excellent guardian dog, but the rancher has not been able to catch her to spay her. I'm sure she was unaware of Briar's hot spots until she captured the puppy. Briar really was a little Mowgli Jungle Book child.
Many large ranches have a "hands-off" approach to handling these livestock guardian dogs. The dogs live out with the stock and become "sheep" with the flock. This is a successful method for many people. My farm is just not set up that way. While I don't want to make "a pet" of this dog, I do need to have her more social. My animals are able to enjoy a higher level of care because I don't have hundreds of acres where I run several hundred head of sheep. If you run a large operation, it's easy for a little wild puppy to fall through the cracks. Briar is just lucky that her mama was protective and could take care of her so she could survive long enough for the rancher to notice her. She was then put in a home where she could live her life as a livestock guardian dog. Hopefully, she'll be like her parents and protect the stock. If she proves less than able to accomplish that feat, she'll still have a home with us - she just has to live in the barn and not the bedroom!
Wednesday, January 20 2010
Yes, I know . . . she's in the house. Don't tell Other Half! He made me write it down on paper that this dog was livestock and would not be in the house! On the other hand, he has also bottle-fed calves in the house!
I know she is a Livestock Guardian Dog and thus MUST be with the stock. BUT . . . she is also a 12-week old baby with horrendous hot spots under a matted coat. So . . . today we had our first bath (in the kitchen sink). Other Half would defecate the proverbial brick. After I turned the sheep out in the rain (more rain = more mud!!!), I gathered up Briar and we had a bath. Both of us had a bath. And the kitchen counter had a bath. And the kitchen floor had a bath.
When it was all over, I was better able to see all the oozing hot spots. I doctored them which burned like the dickens, and this very forgiving puppy didn't eat me. In fact, much to my surprise, the little beast played with my feet when I set her back down on the floor. She cannot go back outside until she dries and putting a hairdryer on that oozing skin is out of the question. Soooo . . . she will be placed in a kennel in the dog room until she is dry. Yes, it's in the HOUSE . . . .
. . . . but look at her little back!!!!
It's covered in raw places. I cannot throw a wet puppy out in a damp barn for those hot spots to fester. Since I have to go to work, my dear friend (who happens to be the vet's wife) will come and throw her little hiney back out with the sheep when she has dried! Problem solved. Other Half never has to know that LIVESTOCK was in the house and in fact, LIVESTOCK was in the kitchen sink! I know you won't tell. Right?
Tuesday, January 19 2010
Remember the Warner Brothers cartoon Ralph & Sam? It was the one with the sheepdog and the wolf (who always looked to me EXACTLY like Wile E. Coyote but with a different accent.) I googled them. Ralph was the wolf (coyote) and Sam was the sheepdog (Livestock Guardian Dog). They punched a time clock in the morning and then began their shift of either protecting sheep (Sam) or trying to eat the sheep (Ralph). At the end of the shift, they punched the time clock and then left "the office" together - to start again tomorrow in the endless game of predator & prey.
Border Collie and Livestock Guardian Dog remind me of Ralph and Sam. Border Collie is all about the hunt (minus the kill). Border Collies have been bred to be top-notch predators, minus the kill. All Border Collie thinks about is hunting livestock and making them submit to her will. There is not a loving, maternal, "look out for the stock" bone in her body. Lest I dare make the comparison, her attitude toward sheep is much like the dog in Babe. She believes sheep are stupid animals who must be forced to behave.
Briar, on the other hand, believes that sheep are her family, merely cousins with odd eating habits. (Every family has a few!) She is happy when she is with them and sad when they leave her to go to the pasture.
But she is too young to simply turn her loose with ewes and lambs. She may injure a lamb, or be attacked by a ewe. So for now, Briar is locked in an exercise pen inside the sheep area at night where they are all together, but no one can get hurt. During the day, I turn the sheep out and leave Briar in the barn where she can see the sheep and the other dogs. She is okay puttering around the barn, but would be happier with the sheep.
She needs to be cleaned up A LOT. Her puppy coat is matted. Today I began clipping. Despite the fact that yesterday the little Beast was snarling at me, today she is more submissive. I let her spend a bit of time with Zena, Retired Police Dog, who worships the ground I walk on. After a little bit of modeling, Briar was beginning to figure out that I was not the Evil Captor that she thought I was, and loosened up a bit. I left Police Dog (who is very maternal) in the barn while I popped Warrior Child on a stack of hay and started cutting. Police Dog climbed up on a bale of hay so she could supervise. Warrior Child chewed a straw of hay while I cut out mats. Yuck.
She doesn't have to be showdog clean, but the matts have GOT to GO! Her puppy coat will fall out in the spring, but in the mean time, her skin could use a break (and some air!)
We took a break and she met Border Collie.
Ralph & Sam
Remember this picture. When she grows up, I'll need it to remind me of how little she was at 12 weeks. Boogey Beasts Beware! Warrior Pup has arrived!
Monday, January 18 2010
Look closely. Yes, that IS what you think. Farming isn't for the squeamish. Despite my efforts to fortify the chicken coop, the damned Beast was back. Three dead. It looks like chickens exploded in there. Ten birds in one week. Six birds in two days . . . and I still don't know how it's getting in.
That is the most disheartening part about life on a farm. Despite your best efforts, you cannot save them. After the carnage, I had one laying hen left, a small banty hen, and two banty roosters. Four birds . . . out of a whole flock. The remaining red hen was stuffed in Other Half's patrol car and transported to join the cowponies, the cattle, Dora the Explorer, and Reggie. They aren't necessarily safe, but they are 7 miles from THIS Boogey Beast, who will most certainly be back.
The thing about being a crime scene investigator is that you tend to put a great deal of investigation into your own crime scenes. (I'll spare you the photos.) My two biggest issues are: 1) suspect, and 2) prevention.
Suspect: The Boogey Beast is small. BB is ferocious. BB is messy. BB may actually be several suspects. (a GANG!)
Because I had body parts all over the coop, I suspect a family of small predators, perhaps a mother with young that were squabbling over pieces. (Yes, I know it's gross, but unfortunately it is part of the Circle Of Life. It happens on a farm. Animal Planet just doesn't film it.)
Here is our suspect's pawprint:
I didn't have scale tape, so I stuck my fingers in there to give you an idea of size.
I'm thinking maybe a raccoon. I need to check out pawprints online and see about that. The Sheepgoddess has suggested a weasel. She may be right. I don't even know if we have those around here. I'll check that out too. (Isn't the internet wonderful?)
Now that we have done some research into the suspect, let's begin with prevention. First . . . remove the birds. Done. (Except for the banties who sought refuge high up in the trees.) Second . . . remove the predator. Impossible . . if I remove them, others will come to fill that niche. That leaves me only one option. I must bring in a warrior in my Battle Against the Boogey Beast.
For years I have resisted this, but if you start adding up how much money I have lost in livestock over the years, it doesn't make sense NOT to do it. Soooooo . . . . a 9-hour drive later . . . and there is a New Kid In Town!
Be careful. Those teeth are sharp. She's a killer. Boogey Beasts, BEWARE!
Briar is approximately 12 weeks old. She's a Great Pyrenees/Komondor cross. Her parents are working Livestock Guardian Dogs that have produced working Livestock Guardian Dogs. She has been raised with sheep and goats. In fact, she's a little wild thing. I should have named her Mowgli since she considers humans to be her captors, rather than her friends. We are slowly working on that. She needs some cleaning up, and some growing up, but Boogey Beasts beware! She will be the size of a Saint Bernard and she will eat Boogey Beasts for Breakfast!
You just wait! The Warrior has arrived!
Saturday, January 16 2010
Damn that Boogey Beast! It got into my chicken coop and killed three good laying hens last night! Earlier in the week I lost a rooster and a banty hen so I started locking the wooden door before I left for work in the afternoon. Normally the birds have a flight pen with a chicken coop inside the pen. The coop had a "doggy door" so they can come and go into the flight pen. The hole was small (6"x6") and so the chickens could put themselves up at night, but since the Boogey Beast had taken two birds this week, I decided that the birds were not putting themselves to bed earlier enough (either that, or they were getting up too early in the morning!). Either way, I thought I had solved the problem by shutting the doggy door and locking everyone in on my schedule.
Unfortunately the Boogey Beast (probably a raccoon) managed to force its way into the coop last night and the birds couldn't get out. The only consolation is that the 3 birds were eaten and not wasted. Now we must move the remaining birds out of this area TODAY and set them up with the cowponies and the cattle, until I can bring in something bigger and badder than the Boogey Beast.
Tomorrow I am going to pick up a new warrior in the battle against the Boogey Beast. Be forewarned, BEAST, just wait 'til she grows!
Wednesday, January 13 2010
He's tiny, but he is cute.
He's nursing, and his mom is attentive, so we'll hope for the best. The other lambs are gi-normous compared to little Tiny Tim, but he watches them.
He watches them bounce . . .
He watches them leap . . .
But Tiny Tim needs more groceries before he can get out from under the porch and play with the big lambs.
He doesn't seem to have a problem with that!
Tuesday, January 12 2010
This little dude has a smart mama! Unlike the other ewes, this one waited until the freezing weather had passed. When the pasture had warmed up, she had this little guy in the afternoon sun. Good thing she waited too, cuz he is a tiny little fart.
Compare Tiny Tim to Hulk . . .
That's Hulk scratching his chin. Granted, he has 12 days growth on this Tiny Tim, but the size difference is pretty apparent.
Today was a busy day. We took New Police Dog to the vet to be spayed. (I know! Can you believe she wasn't already spayed?) Anyway, my poor little Sweet Potato is sooooo miserable now. (Don't you think she is the color of a sweet potato? I'm sure Other Half is hoping I will find a better nickname for his little velociraptor.)
We lost a rooster to the Boogey Beast the night before last. The Beast visited again last night for the remains of the rooster, but didn't get into the coop. I think it's a raccoon. I'm giving serious thought to getting a Livestock Guardian Dog.
Sunday, January 10 2010
An old friend visited my farm this week. She raises sheep too. We talked at great length about what actually holds a farm together. This is what we came up with:
For those of you without farms, haystring is the string that holds a bale of hay together. Like duct tape, haystring makes the world go round. And on a farm, haystring makes the fences go round!
And the bird pens . . .
It ain't pretty, but it works!
In addition to haystring, we also use . . . .
and . . .
I'm a big fan of wire! If a board falls down and it can't be nailed back up, TIE that sucker back up!!! (and the wire doesn't stand out the way the haystring does!)
Not too bad, huh?
It made me feel a lot better to know that her farm was tacked together with haystring and baling wire too! That kinda goes back to the whole Romance vs Reality theme. Romance is a sunrise over a board fence. Reality is a fence held together with baling wire.
And now for an update on Baby Hulk:
He is continuing to thrive and is quite the chunky monkey. We like the way he is developing and are giving serious thought to keeping him as a breeding ram.
In addition to putting his "best foot forward" as he interviews for the role of flock ram, Hulk has now turned to Higher Source:
A little prayer never hurts!
Saturday, January 09 2010
Ok, I just have to get this off my chest. Readers with delicate sensibilities should scroll past this part:
. . . .
. . . . .
. . . .
HOLY CRAP IT"S COLD!!!!!! JIMININY CHRISTMAS, PEOPLE! CLOSE THE DAMNED DOOR!
Okay. That said, we can resume normal broadcasting . . . .
We got up yesterday and it was 26 degrees on the front porch. It was 30 degrees inside the barn. I was freezing my butt off! All you guys from Cananda, and Wyoming, and Montana, and Wisconsin, and New York can stop laughing at me now . . . . This chick was born and bred well below the Mason-Dixon line and SHE IS COLD!!!!
We had planned to take some time off to celebrate Other Half's birthday. You know, go somewhere, do something, see some things. Scrreech! In this weather, the only thing I want to see is the underside of my electric blanket! Fortunately, our vacation plans were interrupted by the arrival of New Police Dog. We can't gripe too much about ruined "time together" because the Arctic Air rolled in and we have spent a lot of time together - feeding livestock and keeping them alive in this bitter cold.
It all comes down to shelter and food - lots and lots of food! We also had to make sure everyone had water. Naturally all the tanks froze so we spent a good bit of yesterday busting ice so livestock could drink before the sun went down and froze their drinking water again. (sigh) I used a horse shoe to bust 1 inch thick ice out of a 400 gallon tank. My glove dipped into the water AND IT FROZE. HOLY SHIT, PEOPLE! FOLKS ACTUALLY LIVE LIKE THIS??!!! (Canadians, STOP laughing!)
After we got the animals reasonable well situated, we headed off to Tractor Supply for more tarps, animal food (since we were there!) and hoses (I kid you not, it was so cold, the damned water hose broke in two - and filled Other Half's boot full of water - I laughed. He was not amused.)
Now when people spend a lot of time together they tend to argue about the stupidest things. We managed to have TWO major arguments in Tractor Supply.
Argument #1 - He saw a cold little squirrel in the front yard and suggested feeding it. I immediately launched upon this and grabbed up a big bag of wild bird food with nuts and berries, and sunflower seeds. He mentioned a squirrel feeder but then choked at the price. I pointed out that the birds and the squirrels were God's little creatures and we should take care of them in this cold. He pointed out the price. I pointed out that God had blessed him with a GOOD SALARY so that HE could TAKE CARE of GOD's little creatures. He looked at me like I was THE craziest white woman he'd ever seen and then put the squirrel feeder in the cart. I smugly assumed I had won. Then . . . as he rolled the cart down the aisle, he announced . . . "this way I can lure the squirrels to the house so I can shoot 'em." I almost shot him in the store. (to my younger readers - HE WON'T! I promise!)
Argument #2 - Oli's dog toy: New Police Dog needs her own toys. So we went to the dog toy aisle to see what Tractor Supply offered in the line of fun toys for spastic maligators. I selected a really cool ball on a rope. The ball was cheetah-spotted!!!!! He wrinkled his lip at the ball and selected a tire. WHAT?!! I pointed out that the tire was boring. It didn't do anything. He pointed out that you could roll it. I pointed out that he wasn't secure enough in his manhood to let his dog have a girly-colored toy. He pointed out that the tire could roll. I called him cheap. He pointed out that the tire was the same price as the ball . . . and the tire could roll. So we got the darned tire . . . and she loved it.
And so did everyone else in the house . . .
Now I have to hear him say, "I told you so!"
Friday, January 08 2010
Yesterday was Other Half's birthday!!!!
We had planned to take some time off to celebrate. Plans were changed however when his agency informed him that he would be picking up his new dog on Jan 7. He told them, "But that's my birthday."
They informed him. "Happy Birthday, you're getting a new dog. Go get her on Jan 7."
Okay then . . .
She is a 23 month old Belgian Malinois. She was born in Czechoslovakia. She doesn't speak English. Other Half doesn't speak Czech. (He speaks some German.) Other Half has had 3 German Shepherds. To him, Oli looks like a pound puppy who should be in an SPCA commercial.
Other Half likes female dogs. He is secure enough in his masculinity to have an itty bitty female dog. (Many men are not! All I have to say about this is that THEY are missing out and it leaves more good female partners for Other Half to choose from!) Other Half is not too concerned about her size. He has seen her bite work. (I've seen it on video.) Oli is a teeny tiny dog, BUT . . . Oli is faster than a speeding bullet. Faster than a German Shepherd. (Faster than Other Half.)
Police Dogs are kennel dogs. They sleep outside. They don't eat people food. They are athletes. They go from the kennel to the vendor and if they are lucky, they end up in a home with a good handler who will welcome them into the family. Oli is a very lucky little Mighty Mouse.
Because they need time to bond, and an Arctic Blast was coming in, we juggled dogs and Oli was allowed in the house. Oli has NO house manners.
She LOVES trash cans!
and counter tops . . .
Oli explored her new home as only a Narcotics Dog could!
She was happy. She finally had a real DADDY!
and a dog couch!
. . . but we got excited and had an accident. I guess you can't call it AN ACCIDENT if you MEANT to do it. After all, no one has told Oli that you aren't SUPPOSED to poop in the house. (Border Collie was horrified. Then she peed on it herself!)
Oli most definitely hit the jackpot! She finally has a forever home.
(For those who may be concerned how Zena (Old Police Dog) feels about this, note that we are taking great pains to make sure that she does not meet New Police Dog except when Oli is in the outside kennel run. Zena is now a full-time house dog!)
Thursday, January 07 2010
I got into another major theological discussion with a friend at work tonight. We have stood over many dead men and it tends to color one's views. He firmly believes that Good doesn't prevail while I believe that eventually, Good will prevail. I respect his views, just as he respects mine. We are all coming from a different place. I have learned over the years however, that my job most certainly makes you think about these things. It makes you ask questions, and sometimes you find the answers in the strangest places.
I play Twister over dead men for a living. I'm a crime scene investigator. In my world, I see so much death and despair that my relationship with God was getting pretty unsteady. I had questions about suffering that couldn't be explained. So many things I'd seen and experienced just didn't make sense. I began shaking my fist at God and asking "WHY?" But I would get no answer. This left me angry and disillusioned. I saw only a distant and aloof God. I needed comfort and proof of God's love. Then He sent 4 kittens... and they are Innocence personified.
The calico runt was so little that we weren't sure she would survive, so I named her, Hope. I thought of 1 Corinthians 13. It can best be summed up in the Alan Jackson song "Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning."
"Now I know Jesus, and I talk to God,
So I named the girls Faith, Hope, and Love. I named the boy, Brother.
Saturday night I came home from work and opened the door to their room. Three kittens came bouncing out. Where was Hope? I called and called. No Hope. Since she's given me this scare before, I started to search for a sleeping Hope.. And I found her. She was hanging on the back side of a chair. She had hung herself on a chair that the dog had chewed on months earlier. While playing, she had apparently become tangled in the frayed upholstery fabric.
I've felt a lot of Death, and as I grabbed little Hope's body, she was already getting stiff. Sick, I began to unravel her. She was still warm; she hadn't been dead long. I worked to untangle the fabric around her neck and prayed for God not to take my little Hope. But as I held her lifeless body, I no longer had hope. I yanked the last of the fabric away and began blowing in her nose and rubbing her back vigorously. I continued my desperate attempt at CPR on a kitten that was small enough to fit in one hand.... and she began to breathe.... and then she opened her eyes and started paddling her little legs. I set her on the floor and without so much as a backward glance, she toddled off to play. Then I sat back in that chair and sobbed as I thanked God for saving my little Hope.
When I had first picked her little body up, I had no hope. I've seen Death. I've felt Death. But breathing Life back into something so small was the most remarkable miracle I'd ever seen. I learned an important lesson that night: When hope is gone, keep on trying anyway. God may just send you a miracle.
Hope is none the worse for her ordeal. While I watched in amazement, she spent the better part of that evening careening around my office and playing SpiderMan on the curtains. I am so thankful that God left her with me a little while longer. These kittens have been a precious gift. When I told a friend that this experience had brought me closer to God, she said, "That's good, but it's a shame that it took a cat to do it." The comment hurt at first, but after some thought, I realized that she just doesn't understand. I figure God knew what it took for someone like me, and so He sent 4 scrawny kittens.
He still hasn't answered my questions about Suffering, Life, and Death, but I'm satisfied now. Something special happened Saturday night, and I won't forget that.
"But ask the animals, and they will teach you." Job 12:7
That was two years ago. See how my blessings have grown . . . .
Faith then . . .
Hope then . .
Love then . . .
Brother then . . .
Tuesday, January 05 2010
Baby Hulk is a cheeky little dude. He pushes and shoves the adults on the way out to the pasture . . .
Today he squared off with one of the 2009 grown lambs . . .
Watch this little beast pick his battle!
He is 5 days old.
. . . but not a complete idiot. . . .
He chose a tactical retreat. Discretion is the better part of valor!
So he ran off to play with someone else . . .
Someone who DID want to play with him!
Monday, January 04 2010
Before we get started on this discussion, it has come to my attention (because I didn't post one this morning, and I HEARD about it!) that quite a few readers WANT an update on the Dynamic Duo. Here are their pictures for today:
New Year's Eve Lamb
New Year's Day Lamb (This little Hulk is auctioning for the position of herd ram. He does not want to go to market! I had planned to get a young ram by this little guy's sire, but Other Half wants to keep him instead. We'll see . . . His mama IS my favorite ewe. Good mother. Calm ewe. Boss ewe.)
Now . . . on to our discussion: In the immortal words of Shakespeare, "To Spay, Or Not To Spay"
Shakespeare didn't say that???? You're kidding! Well, he should have. It's an important discussion!
Border Collie is in heat. (sigh) Our little "Kung Fu Panda" is a big girl now. Look at her Big Girl Panties!
Look! Tiny Hiney!
"But she is such an awesome dog!"
Yep, she is an awesome dog. But . . . as much as it pains me to admit (and you never heard it from me!) I think Border Collie is probably just an average cow-bred Border Collie who simply landed in a working home. She is a great working dog, but HOPEFULLY there are lots more out there just like her. She isn't registered. Her parents work cows on a feed-lot. I doubt she is a fluke, because her breeder only breeds dogs that work cows. I imagine if they don't work cows, he probably culls them (and that does NOT mean place them in a pet home). He is not in the dog business, he's in the cow business. Dogs are tools that make his job easier. He clearly produces some nice dogs, but it doesn't mean I should breed Lily. I can't trace her lineage. Breeding her would be a crap shoot.
She's only 9 months old. That's a little early to decide that she doesn't have some underlying problem that hasn't come to the surface. Her parents had NO health checks. They worked. That's the way her breeder selected dogs. If a dog was too weak to work, it didn't stay.
"But she WORKS!"
Well, yeah. She works. She is probably the best farm dog I've ever had, (and perhaps ever will have) but that doesn't mean she should be bred. I greatly appreciate the generations of effort that went into producing this dog, and I hope that when I'm ready for another Border Collie, I can find one "just like her."
"Don't you want to let her have puppies? I'd take one."
Right, and I'd take one too, but what would happen to the other five puppies? I firmly believe that if you breed, you are responsible for those puppies FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. Rescue organizations are overflowing with good dogs. As much as I love this dog, and want another one "just like her," I don't want to contribute to the problem.
So . . . Border Collie will be spayed. She'll be happy. She lives to work . . . and chase cats. Besides, I don't think she'll miss having to wear her "Big Girl Panties.
Monday, January 04 2010
People who raise goats share one thing - loose goats. As you get more experience, (and better fences) the episodes are not as frequent, but nevertheless, every goat is a blood relative of Harry Houdini. Not only are they escape artists, they are also psychics. Goats KNOW when you are too busy to fiddle-fart around with them .
Goats. God sent goats to test me. God sent dogs to help me . . .
Tonight I found myself running late for church. I had exactly fifteen minutes to make it out the door and into the chapel. It's a ten minute drive. I didn't have time for a shower, so I put on a clean shirt and a spritz of perfume (just in case I smelled like a dog.) I grabbed my purse and headed for the door. That's when the phone rang. There are four words I do not want to hear at any time of day or night. They are fingernails on a blackboard: 1) Your 2) Goats 3) Are 4) Out
I glanced at the clock again. "Please, please, please Lord... can you just slow down Time a little so I won't be late for the service?"
And with that prayer, I grabbed up The Enforcer and headed for the front door. As soon as I hit the step, I pointed at the loose goats and said, "Fetch 'em up, Boy." A tawny streak raced across the front yard... until he saw the newspaper. I could read the indecision on his face.
"The paper. The paper. She always sends me out the front door for the newspaper. Maybe she wants the paper. Goats? Paper? Goats? Paper?"
I yelled at him. "Not the paper! Get the f#*kin' goats!"
Ah! A language he understood! But to err on the safe side, he grabbed up the newspaper as he raced across the yard toward the goats. By this time, the goats were already in a full-scale panic. The Enforcer, still carrying the newspaper, looped behind them and galloped them back toward me - at break-neck speed. They passed me so fast that I'm surprised there was no sonic boom. With a nimbleness that would make a gymnast pea-green with envy, they vaulted onto a stack of firewood and leaped back into the pasture. The Enforcer screeched to a halt and dropped his newspaper beside the fence. The goats huddled together like innocent choir boys and stared.
Then the dog turned to me, picked up the newspaper, and said, "Hey, you still want this?"
Saturday, January 02 2010
Sleep. I need some sleep. I haven't had more than 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep in a week. I am a Bitchy Bear! That's what happens when I don't get enough sleep. I grow horns. (like the Evil Goat, Evie) There is a multitude of reasons why I haven't gotten enough sleep.
Border Collie is in season (argh . . .). The Enforcer and Blue Heeler are intact (a constant source of argument between Other Half and myself). So . . . we must juggle dogs. We must juggle dogs in the #%!*^! mud! MUD! MUD! MUD! I hate MUD! (Breathe . . . breathe . . .)
Okay, there's the mud. Muddy boots. Muddy paws. Muddy floor. Muddy laundry. Need I go on?
House Goats. The young goats are near the house (so they don't get eaten by the Boogey Beast!) They begin to scream for me to let them out THE MOMENT the sun is peeking over the horizon. If they don't quit that I'm gonna LET the Boogey Beast EAT THEM!
Work (the job that actually pays the bills around here). Work is work. Well duh, that's why they call it WORK. 'Tis the season. I really, really, REALLY hate standing over dead people in the cold . . . 'nuff said.
In a nutshell, I haven't been getting enough sleep. Whining dogs, screaming goats, and worrying about ewes in labor and baby lambs are keeping me awake at night.
But then . . . the goats force me to finally drag my butt out of bed. And I see this . . .
and this . . .
and this . . .
and . . . . my heart smiles. And I'm not a Bitchy Bear any more.
Friday, January 01 2010
We noticed another ewe in labor just as we had finished up with the first birth. I checked her during the night and at 7 AM this little visitor greeted me!
This little guy is not as vigorous as the other lamb, but he has a good mama and so I still have high hopes.
The New Year's Eve lamb is doing just fine! He is eating well and quite inquisitive.
I think he is going to make it. (hopefully I don't jinx myself!) I'm hoping the lamb belonging to the other ewe will gain more strength and perk up some in a few hours. This little guy will want a playmate!
Friday, January 01 2010
Look what the New Year brought!
I came home from work to find this little lamb had joined our farm! What a cutie patootie! The first lamb of the season! Fireworks popped in the sky as this little beastie searched out that first meal. There are few things more satisfying than the sound of a baby finally figuring it out! Keep your fingers crossed that there are no complications. So far, so good!