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Farm Fresh Blog
Tuesday, August 28 2012
I believe we have already established the fact that I don't "DO" rodents. In short, they freak me out - not the helpless, screaming, refusing to get off a chair kind of freak me out, more like the dancing in place, screaming obscenities while shooting randomly at the disappearing rodent kind of freak out. Fortunately for those in my kitchen, I rarely have a handgun in my grasp when I see one of the little bastards.
I am completely flummoxed. I've lived in country houses for most of my life, and I have never, EVER had this kind of war with mice. I have 5 freakin' dogs in the house at any given time, sometimes 7 dogs! What mouse in his right mind would come in this house? Clearly quite a few.
Because I'm such a freakazoid about it, I have now moved my silverware out of the drawer and into a crock on my kitchen counter. I have moved my bread into a hanging basket over the kitchen sink. Now I have discovered the little bastards in the upper cabinet! The only sugar and flour not touched was that already in cannisters. Ewwww!!! Even Other Half was tripped out. My switch had been tripped a LONG time ago.
My switched has been tripped in such a manner that I have re-designed the kitchen in the new house at the ranch to eliminate the hiding places. I will have free-standing hutches that separate rooms so if those little rascals want to get in them, they have to go through a rather talented rodent control device.
You don't understand creepy until your Border Collie is scratching and barking at your cabinet doors. Eewwwww! But alas, she is unable to get to them and they know it. That will be remedied in the future. But for now, we are reduced to setting snap-traps (because I will not let Other Half put out poison or sticky traps). Unfortunately I am a wuss and can not empty them. Not only can I not empty a mouse trap, I don't even want to LOOK at a dead mouse in a trap.
But still, I'm a glutton for punishment. Take, for instance, my rude awakening this morning. Knowing that Other Half set a trap in a high cabinet, I still felt the need to greet the day by checking for results. This required pulling a step ladder over to the counter, climbing on the ladder, and opening the cabinet. I'm not quite sure what I expected to find, but I was clearly unprepared to see a mouse and trap dangling in front of my face when I opened the cabinet.
Apparently the entire combo-package had bounced across the cabinet and landed sideways against the cabinet door. I opened the door and a dead mouse was 8 inches from my nose. I almost fell off my ladder.
That is not a trip to the Emergency Room and the Animal Emergency Clinic that I want to explain.
"Yes, I said I was attacked by a dead mouse and fell off a ladder and landed on my Border Collie."
I know what would solve the problem, but I'm not there yet.
A girl has got to know her limitations.
In the mean time, I'm busy designing rodent-proof kitchens for the new house . . . and waiting for Other Half to wake up and remove the mouse from the kitchen. (HEY! Don't judge me . . . )
Thursday, August 23 2012
I'm not sure my horses are ready to move to North Texas with the rattlesnakes and copperheads.
I give you Exhibits A & B:
This is what I found on my morning walk with the dogs. The poor thing had dogs on one side of the fence and horses on the other. The horses were fascinated. The dogs had a more appropriate response.
Trace had the right idea. Stay VERY far away and growl and bark. Lily was the only idiot who wanted to attack the snake. That earned her a frappuccino bottle bounced off her head. She never saw it coming and now has much more respect for snakes. Everyone else seemed to have some respect and trust me when I shouted,
"No! It's a NASTY! Get away!"
Unfortunately, the horses have no understanding of the word "nasty" and thus had the poor thing cornered.
Barking dogs on one side
Horses on the other
What's a snake to do?
EEEKK! Get away you stupid horses! But do they listen?!! Nope. Right back for more. I wonder if they have de-snaking clinics for horses . . .
We eventually had to lure the horses away with the promise of a shower. Other Half squirted them with a water hose and while they were enjoying their fountain baths, the snake made his escape. I shudder to think how this would have turned out if these idiots had run across a rattlesnake.
So I ask you, do people in subdivision have to deal with this at 8 am?
Sunday, August 19 2012
Our adventure began Friday night. I fed the dogs lunch before I left for the office at 2 pm. At 2:30 pm, Other Half, who had worked the night before, awoke to find Dillon throwing up in bed. Isn't that the way most people wake up? He got up to find multiple piles of undigested food in the bedroom. So he called me at work.
"What did Dillon get into today?!!"
a lead rope
siding on the house
rocks in the driveway
a yuppy on a bicycle in neon colors and tight shorts
At some point he has attempted to put all of the above in his mouth. I know that while he was INSIDE the house, I personally witnessed him with these items in his mouth:
a lead rope
I distinctly recall pulling yellow and purple rope fibers from between his teeth, but what made him sick? That answer is a crap shoot.
He was alone outside approximately 20 minutes. Inside, he is a canine Dennis the Menace, so I keep a pretty close eye on him. But here's the rub:
He's a year old Labrador Retriever!
He could have anything in his stomach from a license plate to a piano! Labrador puppies are like sharks in cuddly packaging.
If it fits in their mouth, it goes down their throat. If it's something big, it can be "disassembled" so that it can fit in their mouth, and thus go down their throats.
So normally the report of a dog throwing up doesn't concern me too much, but a one year old Labrador throwing up immediately gives me pause.
I returned from work ten hours later and Dillon was offered his supper. He refused. Now this is a red neon flashing sign. This is the robot from "Lost In Space" swinging his arms wildly, chanting,
"Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"
It was 12:30 am on Saturday morning. We decided that Mr Dillon had an appointment with his vet as soon as the doors open. We tucked D-Man between us and went to sleep. At 5 am I was jolted out of bed by Other Half shouting,
"Dillon is throwing up!"
That's it. Off to the Animal Emergency Clinic we go . . . .
By 6 am we see the vet. It is $95 to walk in the door. They estimate the cost will start at $1200. Throw credit card at vet. By 6:30 am they are x-raying his tummy. The $1200 does not include any abdominal surgery, that's just to put him on fluids, hospitalize him, and start looking for the problem. We begin to look down the road at $3000 to $5000 surgery. Eegaads. We discuss it, but there is very little to discuss. This is Dillon. He is a young, vibrant, healthy, happy puppy with his entire future ahead of him. He has already shown that he has that spark of "something" that defines him as one of the "great" dogs in your life.
And so, the decision is made to juggle money, juggle ranching priorites, tighten the belt even more than it already is, and fix him.
We regretfully leave him at the hospital and try to return to life as "normal" while we wait. Other Half goes to work. I try to get some sleep. Sleep eludes me. End up making lots of deals with God to save my dog. Still cannot sleep. Get up to phone Dear Friend Who Is Married to Our Retired Vet. They have now moved to their retirement ranch.
Wonder of wonders, he answers her cell phone. I explain problem with Dillon and my concerns that I waited too late to take him to vet. By then I am sobbing.
Fortunately, being a vet, he is used to sobbing and can interpret "Hysterical Woman-Speak."
"No, you won't lose him. Yes, he'll recover. Yes, he'll be fine. Yes, you caught it early enough."
He patches my emotional wreckage back together and I feel better. Dillon will survive. (We may not be able to afford hay for the winter, but Dillon will survive!)
Other Half calls. He cannot wait for vet to call him back. He has phoned clinic and got results: no obstruction!
Do the Snoopy-Happy-Tushy-Dance in living room. Border Collies watch me in shock. Surely Mom has lost her mind.
Go to work. Deal with two rather disgusting issues, then meet Other Half at the vet clinic. Visit D-Man. He is wearing an apron around his neck to prevent him from pulling out his cathater. He looks like an idiot. We all three go for a walk. Ask vet if Other Half can take Dillon home with him after work. No.
Ask if I can take Dillon home after my shift. Maybe. If he eats at 9 pm and doesn't throw it up. Go back to work. Wonder again how normal people live.
Phone rings. Another dead man. Sigh . . . will this day ever end?
God smiles on me and this turns into a "hurry up and wait" call once I get to the scene, so night shift takes it from me when they come on duty. I am able to pick Dillon up and get him home.
A half-dressed Other Half greets
So 24 hours later, Dillon settles back into his memory foam mattress, with his favorite humans on either side, like book ends. He is happy and they are thankful to have him back.
The Border Collies have done the accounting and are questioning why you would spend that kind of money on someone who would eat the siding off the house . . .
. . . someone who could eat a block of wood next week . . .
I have only one answer to this:
because it's Dillon!
Thursday, August 16 2012
In addition to moving livestock from Point A to Point B, my dogs must also develop skills in "tending" stock. I think of tending as taking livestock to an area, and hanging out with them while they browse. Mostly this involves keeping them from leaning toward their own criminal tendencies to stray off the property or get into places they don't belong. (i.e. stacked hay)
This is tougher on the dogs because they want ACTION. Tending involves lots of INaction punctuated by occasional glares and a creep from time to time.
This is toughest for Trace. He practically "wills" them to misbehave. That doesn't take much. If the dogs were not there, the little beasts would scoot underneath a cow fence and be gone.
But under proper supervision, (read: prison guards) they are a decent landscaping crew for the cow pastures. Tallow trees are an invasive species prolific in South Texas. Cows don't eat it. Sheep and Goats mow it down like teenagers with a pizza.
For a few minutes . . .
After that, they begin to look for trouble.
"Ma! Get out of that hay!"
"Pardon me, were you addressing me?"
Then they drop their heads and ignore me.
I couldn't help but note this. Why, I ask you, would this goat spend any amount of time eating dead tallow branches when she is surrounded by LIVE tallow branches?
I finally got tired of watching them waste my time. They needed to get back where they belonged.
The dog has moved 12 feet beyond the mule. The stock take their collective asses back where they belong. Proof positive that they KNOW they don't belong there.
"Don't those dogs have a sense of humor?"
"None that I'm aware of."
Monday, August 13 2012
Today we rustled up the former show girls (and Bully) and moved them to another pasture. Even show cows go wild pretty quickly and so using a dog to move them is just easier for us. It's easy to get complacent when moving cattle, but a recent tragedy woke us all up. Some good friends of ours were moving cattle when she tripped and fell under the cows. One of them ran over her and used her back as a springboard.
Fortunately her husband is in the medical field and immediately recognized the signs of serious injury. She was lifeflighted to the nearest hospital where she stayed for a very long time. We almost lost her - because of something they'd done for years without incident.
It was a wake-up call for all us around here who work cows. They are still wild animals and accidents do happen. So I couldn't help but think of Cheryl as Other Half and Cowboy went to pen the cows.
The Job: Pen the cows. Run them through the chute. Load them in the trailer. Move them to thick, green pasture down the road.
Holler directions as he gathers cattle. He ignores most directions but appears to understand the job anyway.
Gather the cows.
Bring them down the alleyway.
Hold them while they settle down.
Push them into pen.
Close the gate.
No muss. No fuss. One man. One dog. Three minutes.
Push cattle onto trailer. Drive them down the road. Open door and dump them out.
Happy cows. Happy humans. Happy puppy.
Thank you, Cowdog!
Yet another service provided by Barbed Wire Border Collies, Inc. Thank you, thank you very much . . .
Wednesday, August 08 2012
Do you remember some time ago when a certain Someone was blamed for turning on water spigots and pulling the float valve out of the stock tank?
"ME! That's who! ME!"
Montoya went to summer camp (the trainer) for a month. He had been gone exactly 48 hours when I came home from work to find the well running like an exhausted triathlete. ???
I headed out to the pasture to find not one, but two water hoses turned on!
"I'm so busted!"
Now it might not be Musket. Chances are greater that it's Musket because he's the New Guy. We've had Scout for 5 years and never had this problem before.
"YEAH! What she said!"
In hindsight, Musket moved in the shortly before we moved Montoya over from my old farm. So when the Phantom Water Bandit struck, we just ASSumed that it was Montoya! (I have to admit, I did too . . . )
What's that? What'd you say, Montoya?