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Farm Fresh Blog
Wednesday, September 28 2011
The Border Collies have decided there is just "somethin' odd" about Dillon.
While Lily adored Trace when he came to live with us . . .
. . . and let him sprawl all over her . . .
. . . after careful consideration . . .
. . . they have decided that Dillon is an N-BC, a Non-Border Collie,
a Gentile, not one of God's Chosen People.
Fortunately other members of the pack are not so judgemental.
In fact, for some of us, watching Dillon is better than having HBO.
The Border Collies tolerate him, and watch his antics with mild interest, but they have decided that for the most part, he is an ugly little kid with nothing in common, who is unlikely to amount to any kind of ranch dog.
Monday, September 26 2011
Meet Count Chocula. No seriously, we named him "Dillon." I just call him Count Chocula because he's a chocolate vampire - a Fudgy Fangster.
He looks so innocent, like a living Hershey's Kiss.
This is supposed to be an outside dog, you know, a manly hunting dog. Guess where he was last night?
Okay, he was in a crate beside the bed, but he still spent a goodly amount of time in the bed too.
The rest of the pack is absorbing him pretty easily. Trace (1 year old Border Collie) thinks he's a neat toy. Lily (3 year old Border Collie) thinks he's too little right now to be interesting. Talk to her when he gets big enough to play. Briar (Livestock Guardian Dog) thinks he's a neat toy. Ranger (Blue Heeler) thinks he's a darling baby who must be watched constantly. Ice (former Narcotics Dog) thinks he's an annoying brat who better quit checking her for the milk bar. Cowboy (antisocial Border Collie male who pees on everything) wishes the puppy would hold still so he can pee on him. Oli (present police dog) would like to check Dillon out closer because she believes he just "might" be an exotic squeaky toy.
At six weeks old, Dillon is already fetching. We will continue fetching games and will expand the games to include obedience and scent work. The Border Collies could always use some scent games too, since that's not exactly their forte. On the other hand, Dillon shows absolutely no interest in livestock. He can't understand why Trace is so fascinated by the hooved creatures and Trace doesn't understand why Dillon likes feathers. Different strokes for different folks.
One of us REALLY loves water!
Dillon is the only member of the canine family who ISN'T a livestock dog or a police dog. They are "work" dogs. Dillon is a "play-work" dog. I keep telling Other Half that he should train him to do Narcotics so Dillon can pick up birds and pay the bills too! He said he ain't gonna ruin a good Gun Dog. Hey! Who says the dog can't multi-task?!!
I'm just sayin'.
Sunday, September 25 2011
There has been a significant shift in the weather here - hell just froze over.
We got another dog.
I know! I know! We both swore there would be NO MORE DOGS until all but two of the current dogs died. Three is a good number. Yeah, three. The problem is that when you have working dogs, you become lazy. After all, why work when a dog will do it for you? And that brings us to this little guy . . .
Guess what his job is.
This is opening weekend of dove season. Oh wait! I typed that wrong. This is OPENING WEEKEND of DOVE SEASON. Let me just say, I'm not a hunter. I'm a dog person who can appreciate a good dog doing whatever it was bred to do. That said, even though I, myself, don't hunt, I love a good working retriever.
In case you haven't figured it out already, these aren't his birds. (but don't tell him) Son and Friend shot and recovered all these birds themselves, i.e. no dog. Son informed me that he and his father had not been hunting dove together since the death of Millie. (Lab who walked on water. Much like my Border Collie, Lily) For years Other Half has wanted another dog like Millie, so today, I broke down and bought him a Bird Dog. (before he brought home a stray that wasn't bred to hunt, and then we'd have another dog but it wouldn't WORK! At least this one will work.)
Next year, look for this pair to be wearing camouflage together. Puppy does not yet have a name. His Indian name is Sleeps-A-Lot-Pees-A-Lot. Tomorrow his Indian name will probably be Chews-A-Lot-Pees-A-Lot. He needs a REAL NAME. Any ideas?
Disclaimer: Puppy was NOT riding in the back of the pickup truck. Our dogs do not ride in the bed of trucks. They ride inside, on leather seats. And for the more sensitive among us, I apologize for photos of dead doves. It upsets me too. It's a guy thing. They see a successful hunt. I see thirty birds that should have gone to the veternarian.
Friday, September 23 2011
Dear Reader Diane sent an email that delighted me to the very core of my bones. I begged her to let me share it with you!
"I loved your story of the *hideously beautiful boots*. I can SO identify.......LOL....sometimes you see something and you can't figure out a way to NOT get it. Doesn't matter if it is the most wildly impractical thing, that it won't ever be used/worn enough to justify it's price......
But when you ask yourself......*Can I live without it????*.....and you truthfully answer *No*.......well, it must be meant to be.
So it is with my barn. After years of drooling over barns, I will finally be getting one. Nothing fancy, a 32 X 32' pole barn shed with a 12' lean to on one side for my 2 horses (and the evil goatie). It's as basic as I can make it, so when I am gone, someone else can use it for whatever they want. Sturdy, functional.......and a bit....um......boring.
Then I fell off my mind and spied THIS......and I knew, I just KNEW, it needed to be the main light in my little tack room/office.
Yes, it's about as impractical as you can get......I am sure it will be nothing more than a fancy spider condo........
But I simply couldn't NOT get it. I went into Sequin Queen mode, and happily handed over my credit card. The electrician is going to laugh his butt off when he installs it, but I don't care.
Even barns need bling.
. . . and because I can't afford the weathervane I REALLY want (I am NOT paying more for a weathervane than I did for my horses!!)
I went with a *barn guardian* instead.
His name is *Apex*."
This is a woman after my own heart! I love the way she thinks! And for those of you who missed her reference to my Hideously Beautiful Boots, here it is: Hideously Beautiful
Tuesday, September 20 2011
Crimson, the new dairy goat, is afraid of dogs.
"Wwwhere's a dddog?!!"
She is so afraid of dogs that for a week I kept the Livestock Guardian Dog away from the goats to give her time to settle in. This weekend I put Briar back in with the sheep and goats. Crimson ran.
"OOOOhhh! There's a dog!!!"
Clearly someone has failed to tutor Crimson regarding roles of dogs on this farm, so here is a quick tutorial:
If you don't believe me (since after all, I am a Two-Leg) take it from Roanie the ewe who survived the attack from Dangerous Police Dog:
"Big White Dog is our friend."
She protects us from dogs, coyotes, and bobcats.
And she gives kisses. But sometimes she licks my butt before she kisses my face. I could do without that.
"We are good friends."
After all, who couldn't trust this face?
To read more about Briar and Roanie: Blood Will Tell
Sunday, September 18 2011
I was awakened in the wee hours this morning by a large black dog clawing at my back. Assuming Ice had a CODE 1 potty issue, I bounced out of bed to escort her to the door . . . and that's when I heard it. Rain! Rain! Rain! (and thunder - thus leading to the claw marks on my back, but who cares! We got RAIN!)
So I gathered my crew and hustled outside to play in the rain. Some of us, however, were less than amused with a morning walk in the rain.
"Freakin' rain! Freakin' thunder! Freakin' Freaks who play in the freakin' rain!"
Others more than made up for this lack of enthusiasm. I apologize for the quality of the photos. It was dark, and it was raining, but Briar's exuberance was such a joy to behold that I simply had to share it with you.
Thank you for indulging us in our celebration of rain. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program. Oh! But wait! One more thing!
"Thank you, Lord, for sending us rain!"
Saturday, September 17 2011
The weekend has finally arrived and it couldn't come soon enough. Yesterday I looked out in the pasture and my boys had perfectly summed up exactly what I want to do this weekend . . .
ZZZZzzzz . . .
Yeah, that's it . . . and maybe lay in bed with a good book.
(Yawn . . . ) Bbbut I can't read . . . "
Wednesday, September 14 2011
This is the poster child for CONTRAST.
What is it?
This poster child for the concept of CONTRAST is a bowl of . . .
swimming in a bowl of . . .
Yes! Captain Crunch, the military genius of sugar, mixed with goat milk, the icon for healthy living. And yes, I eat it . . .
(I was a complicated child too.)
Monday, September 12 2011
Clover is my milk goat.
Her temperament is as sweet as her milk. Because of that, when her breeder culled Clover's twin because she had a seriously uneven udder, I told her that rather than send Crimson to the butcher, I'd be delighted to take her and try to correct the problem.
Seriously uneven udder. Oh yeah.
And she's scared of dogs . . .
. . . and we have 7 dogs.
"Dddid I hear a dog?"
"Ssseriously! I hear a dog!"
But despite her uneven udder, and her fear of dogs, Crimson gives LOTS of milk! (which the dogs drink. What sick irony.) On another note, today I took my first soapmaking class. I LOVE goat milk soap, and frankly, why should I buy goat milk soap when I have goat milk rapidly filling my refrigerator?
I thoroughly enjoyed my class. We made two batches of goat milk soap!
This is not one of them!
The soap we made is curing. These are soap samples my teacher sent home with me! Look at the one up front. It's loofa soap! I LOVE IT! You cram a wet loofa sponge into a pvc tube mold, and pour the soap into the loofa. The loofa absorbs the soap. When you cut the bars, you have a wonderful exfoliating scrubber inside your bar of soap. How cool it THAT?!! I can't wait to try this!
Thank you Vicki at Lonesome Doe Nubians! You opened up a whole new world for me!
Saturday, September 10 2011
"Whenever you fall, pick something up. "
One thing this life has taught me is that tragedy happens; it's what we make of it that has the greatest impact on our lives. At this moment wildfires continue to sweep across Texas. Homes and lives are being destroyed. Tragedy comes like dominoes falling across the state. And yet even as our world goes up in flames, the east coast is dealing with floods from record rains. While I am a "glass half full" kind of person, one may still wonder what good can come of such heartache.
As each passing day brings more tragedy, the sun also rises and sets on shining examples of neighbors helping neighbors, of strangers stepping up to lift up strangers. While we often complain of the internet and social media as a fanciful whimsy of youth or folks with too much time on their hands, Facebook, Twitter, yahoo groups, and other media are connecting people in need with people who can help. My Yahoo groups are normally filled with emails regarding farming and raising livestock, yet now they serve as a lifeline to save farms. People are connecting on the internet. Strangers open up their ranches and their homes to refugees simply because they understand the enormity of this threat.
I have been that refugee. I know what it's like to load all my animals and what precious few possessions I could carry and depend upon strangers. Years later, I am still moved to tears at the memory of their kindness. I bless them now, as I blessed them then. I shall never forget the young man, baked and parched himself, who gave his last bottle of water to save a dying horse. I shall never forget the old rancher who saw stock trailers and knew horse people needed help. And I shall never forget the family of strangers who took us in, fed us, and took care of our animals. May God bless them each morning the sun rises and every night that it sets.
And so this leads me to the key to unlock the secret to what is really important in this life - love your neighbor, even when he is a stranger.
In the immortal words of Bronco Billy,
"A hand-out is what you get from the government. A hand up is what you get from a friend."
Wednesday, September 07 2011
It is September in Texas and we are finally getting a break from the brutal heat. We had a record low temperature last night and I awoke to a gloriously cool morning. And thus begins my favorite time of year - fall!
Chores on a brisk cool morning seem less like chores. Come join us!
First we feed the horses.
Sweety Pie Horse greets us at the gate.
Evil Border Collie Puppy threatens him.
Every morning . . .
Sweety Pie Horse is really scared. Really. Muskett is terrified. Can't you tell?
Go feed horses.
Fairy Tale Horse comes trotting in. Always happy to see his momma. (especially when she is carrying a bucket of feed!)
Cowpony comes blasting in.
Note that Cowpony is evil to Fairy Tale Horse. Threaten to sell Cowpony to a hungry European diner with a taste for horsemeat.
Cattle begin wandering in. Note that no matter how many hay bales and syrup tubs they have, they will still insist on mooching grain.
Turn goats loose.
Remind sheep that they are fat and do not need to be fed. Turn them loose in the yard.
Take a walk with the dogs and remember to thank God for this glorious day.
And remember to say a prayer for all the victims of the fires that are sweeping across Texas, for as I enjoy a cool morning walk with a frappuccino, others are waking up in their cars after a frightful night spent watching flames destroy their homes.
Thank you, Liz in Australia, for thinking of us, and checking to make sure we were okay. I am truly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.
Thursday, September 01 2011
Since Trace just passed his first birthday, his breeder called for an update, so here it is for him and the rest of Trace's fans:
Trace has grown into a delightful young dog. Most of the time he is quite biddable EXCEPT when he's with livestock, then he goes off into "the zone" and you have to crack him on the head to get his attention. He tends to get sticky and wants to head off the stock to stop their movement, and refuse to call off. Because this resulted in lots of head cracking, I decided to put him up until he matured some more. I worked him on sheep early in the summer and when given a larger number of sheep and more room to work, I noted that he was relaxing and settling down some. Then the brutal summer heat came.
The drought brought gigantic cracks in the ground which endangered livestock and dogs, so I decided to quit working Trace until it cooled off and the rains came again to fill the cracks. It simply wasn't worth a broken leg on sheep or dogs.
From what I've seen thus far, Trace likes to go to the head. This is a nice complement to Lily, who likes to heel.
He also is bolder in his fetching and is willing to go much farther than Lily to pick up the sheep. I haven't worked him on cattle at all yet. Because of the drought, we sold all our calf crop from this year. When the rains return and he is biddable on sheep, then we'll pick up some calves for him to start.
His people skills are excellent, and he is very friendly with strangers. He gets along well within our pack, but he is a resource guarder, putting a great deal of unnecessary energy into guarding food and humans. It isn't a major problem though. Overall, Trace has been an excellent addition to the farm and I expect that when he matures, he will probably be a more skilled herding dog than my Lily. He just has to learn there is no "I" in the word "teamwork."
His littermate, Ruby, was quick to jump into the game and is already a big help on the farm. That may well be the difference between boys and girls, as I recall, we discussed how the boys tend to mature slower than the girls. Trace is very keen to work, so I don't doubt that with a little maturity, he'll get with the program too.