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Monday, November 27 2017

     Longtime reader, Jan, asked for an update on Lily since I haven't written much about her recently. Fear not, The Perfect Dog is doing just fine. While Lily may not be everyone's definition of The Perfect Dog, I'm a big believer in positive affirmations and I've always told Lily, and everyone else, that Lily is THE Perfect Dog, thus she has a pretty high opinion of herself.

Lily loves to herd, but she does not LIVE to herd. She LIVES to serve, or rather, be my minion in a shared quest for world domination. She is not pushy when it comes to herding. Mesa is pushy. Mesa insists that she be the dog you reach for when you need assistance with the stock. This is aided by the fact that she often leaps over the gate (yes, OVER the gate) to accompany you on whatever chore you set out to do. If you do not want or need her assistance, you must lock her up.

Lily is quite happy to let Mesa do all the hard work (i.e. running.) As long as she gets to sit in the RTV in a supervisory (front seat) position, Lily is content. Mesa is a doer. Lily is a supervisor. Mesa often has to be caged when you are doing something and you do not want her help (interference). Lily never needs to be caged, at any time, for any reason. It is beneath her dignity. She is a rule-follower. Lily understands the rules, follows them herself, and expects the world to do the same.

On the other hand, Mesa will scream, rage, and claw her way up the canine, or corporate ladder, because she firmly believes that while she is in charge of dishing out punishment for all other rule breakers, rules are meant for everyone else, lesser beings, and not her. Over time and with a determined campaign on her part, Mesa has slowly taken the reins as the Primary Herding Dog from Lily, who seems okay with letting it happen. As long as Lily gets the VIP treatment she is quite happy to let Mesa do all the hard work.

Unlike the other dogs, it's difficult to get a good photograph of Lily because she's always at my feet. She has three poses: at my feet, sitting in the front seat of the RTV, or hunched over a chased stick.

Lily is calm, cool, collected. Dignified. Royalty.

Mesa is an upwardly mobile Brutus, quick to shank Caesar with a knife if it would secure her a position up the ladder.

As long as Lily rides in the front seat, sleeps in the bed, and plays a game of fetch, she doesn't care what else goes on in the canine world. It takes entirely too much effort to climb the ladder, and if a girl is going to put forth that much effort, it may as well be in pursuit of a stick.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 03:19 pm   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Friday, November 24 2017

Liz asked for an update on Briar so this morning I took the camera with me as I did chores.  Our days begin shortly after sunrise.

I'm sure Briar greets the rising sun like a whistle blowing to signal the end of night shift. The Inside Dogs emerge from the house, rested, relaxed, and ready to party,

but Briar is tired from spending all night barking back the forest and the things in it.

For anyone who worries that Briar has been retired and put on a shelf, fear not! Yes, she is slowing down, but she's still in the game. Now she works smarter, not harder, preferring to let the Anatolians waste the energy running to check out random scents. If she finds the threat noteworthy, she catapults herself in action with amazing speed for a dog who can be half-cripple for a few days at a time. When she catches scent of something, I've seen her climb straight up an almost vertical creek bank like a giant white gorilla. She may pay for it later, but Sector 12 is clear for today.

Because the Anatolians are not mature enough (i.e. The little bastards won't stay home if they're together!) they have to be paired with Briar. Judge works dayshift and Jury works nightshift. Briar works both shifts, therefore it's in her best interest to let the Anatolian do most of the legwork while she supervises and provides backup if he really finds something important.

 Briar is the Queen Of All She Surveys, She Who Must Be Obeyed. All the dogs bow to her authority.

After the sheep are moved, the collies are free to bounce and play, Briar putts along, sniffing here and there, still doing random workplace inspections.

After the sheep are moved to pasture, then Darwin, The Chick Norris Chicken, is released from her dog kennel. Briar walks with Darwin back to the chicken coop.

The rest of the flock is released and Briar watches them waddle out,

and waddle back.

Then Briar settles down to sleep in the barnyard most of the day while Judge does most of the work. She snores from her cave under the horse trailer while he gives the impression that he's the dog in charge. But if something important happens, something worthy of her attention, she launches like the space shuttle (slightly slow to get started but building steam fast).

So I hope that answers your question, Liz. No, Briar hasn't been retired. The Anatolians are like teenage boys, they have the brawns, but someone still has to be in charge and make smart decisions. That someone is Briar.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:21 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Saturday, November 18 2017

Oh my! Where has the time gone? The holidays are here!

The leaves are dropping and winter is creeping up on us. Cattle have been moved and so the pasture south of the house is available for sheep now.  Because this isn't fenced for sheep it means I have to go with them to loosely keep track of their comings and goings lest they end up too far from home. Most of the time I take a few Border Collies. On this day I took a camera instead. And as always, a couple of Livestock Guardian Dogs.

The nice thing about tending sheep is that it gives me time to study them and find their personalities. The flock is now split in half because the ram is with the Navajo Churro and so the Dorper and Jacob ewes have been moved to another pasture. This gives me more time to photograph and study the churro alone. Without the Border Collies, the churro are more relaxed and I'm able to get better pictures.

The south pasture is much more wooded and some of the sheep have developed a taste for the acorns underneath the oak trees. Avis is normally an easy-going ewe but when her honey hole is threatened, I see another side of the unassuming little ewe.

She has discovered a stash of acorns. Judge, the Anatolian, is curious to see what has her attention so he horns in on her honey hole.  Her first reaction is to run.

Then she changes her mind,

and gets pissed. Judge notes the change in mood and hastens to assure her that he has no bad intentions.

She decides to leave anyway, and storms off, but then gets madder and decides to give the dog a piece of her mind.

She rushes forward and stamps her feet at him.

Then she marches right up front to take charge of her honey hole again.  The dog, who had no interest whatsoever in her acorns to begin with, backs down in the the face of her temper. (Yes, I know he's skinny. For the life of me I cannot tape weight onto this dog.  He gained a little bit after he was neutered but then lost it again when the temperatures dipped and he became more active. I really do feed him, he just has the metabolism of a hummingbird.)

Judge doesn't get upset at the sheep's display but still insists on holding his ground.

They reach a compromise. The dog settles down beside the fence to glare at cattle on the other side, and the ewe goes back to snarfing acorns like a toddler eating Cheerios.

Seriously. Who needs cable television when you have a farm? A farm is much more entertaining than any Reality T.V.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 06:37 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, November 07 2017

     You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw that chicken on the boat. I don't know why. If living in the middle of nowhere has taught me anything, it should be to expect the unexpected. This adventure started before the Daylight Savings time change. Two weeks earlier to be exact.

     I have seven chickens. Correction. I had seven chickens. Now I have six. They pretty much all look the same - Golden-Laced Wyandottes. With the exception of Bald Butt, and The Molter, everyone else looks the same. This makes it hard to differentiate which hen was Darwin, the escape artist. For almost a year, one goofy hen would hopscotch her way to the top of her pen and then leap down to freedom, thus allowing herself evening time free range. Each night I would have to return Darwin to the chicken pen so she could roost in the coop. If I was late, Darwin would simply climb onto the 4-Wheeler and wait for me. When I arrived, she'd hop down and talk to me as we walked back to the coop together. I honestly didn't think a bird who flew the coop each evening would survive, so I named her Darwin. But survive she did. And she pecked and scratched her way into my heart. Even though I was certain one day I'd find nothing left of her but a pile of feathers, against my better judgement, I grew fond of the silly bird.

     Her adventures gave me to the courage to let the rest of the flock out of the chicken yard and let them free range. The deal was simple. Stay in the yard. Stay close to the Livestock Guardian Dogs. Stay alive. If you leave the barnyard to explore beyond the fence, you are a Dead Chicken Walking.

     What did they do?

     Within three days they had discovered the field fencing had chicken-sized gaps in the woven wire which allowed the enterprising bird access to hidden truths and treasures on the other side. Five of them became regular morning visitors to the Forbidden Land. Fortunately for them, from time to time their Livestock Guardian Dog went along as a body guard. But nevertheless, the writing was on the wall.

     And one night, there were only six. Bird #7 did not come in to roost. Alas, we found a pile of scattered feathers not 50 feet from the fence, not 150 feet from my back door.

     The nice thing about all the birds looking the same is that I wasn't sure if Darwin was #7. Because the hens were now free-ranging, there was no need to fly to the top of the pen and hop down to freedom and that was the only way I had to identify Darwin. Although it was highly likely Darwin was #7, I held out hope.

     Saturday night I was losing hope. I went out after dark to shut up the chicken coop and noted the gate had swung shut, locking the hens outside the chicken yard. They had roosted outside the chicken yard, but where? I heard a soft cackle from the dog kennel. Sitting on top of a dog house were four hens. One by one I gently carried the girls to their coop. None of them acted like they'd ever been handled before. Damn. Perhaps Darwin was #7 after all.

     The remaining two birds had actually gone inside the dog kennel. One was sleeping inside the dog house in a pile of fresh shavings and the other was pacing back and forth outside the dog house. Since they were safe, I just closed the door on the dog kennel and left them there.

     The next morning I turned them out with everyone else and walked off to do chores. I was feeding the cats on top of the boat, when one of the hens flew onto the boat and helped herself to the bowl of catfood. Like me, the yard cats were stunned. Wow. Bold bird.

     Sunday night. Daylight Savings time. Move the clock back. Fall back. (Which I never quite understood, because I can fall forward too.) Anyway, it was dark an hour earlier. That evening I padded out into the night with my flashlight, and shut the chicken coop door, thus locking the inhabitants safely inside. Monday morning I walked out to feed the cats and lo and behold, there was a chicken waiting on the boat!

     You could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw that chicken on the boat. Because I didn't count chickens in the dark, I must have locked her out of the coop. Alone. In the dark. When the moon rises and the zombie apocalypse begins. Somehow she survived the night by herself.

Okay, she wasn't really by herself.

In all likelihood she had a friend nearby.

     Nevertheless, I stared at her with slack jaw. That's one lucky bad-ass bird. So I named her Chuck Norris. Then a friend on Facebook suggested we call her "Chick" Norris. Perfect!

     Monday evening The Ninja cat decided to come home. Ninja is a feral cat who moved with us from Houston. Shortly after we moved in, Ninja disappeared. She was gone for months. Then I saw her lurking around a nearby hunters' camp. Wild. Many months after that I saw her crossing a red dirt road. She disappeared into the forest. She was clearly hunting and living on her own. Just this year, The Ninja cat decided that regular meals were more important than her dislike of dogs, so she started coming in every week or so for meals on the boat. The yard cats always give the Ninja a wide berth. She is, after all, a bad-ass cat.

     So imagine the suspense when Chick Norris and The Ninja squared off on the bow of that boat.

      The Ninja Cat had already tied a napkin around her neck and was leaning in to dine on Little Friskies when the bird landed on the boat. I stood there in shock. This could be the fight of the century. Time to whip out the cell phone!

The cat hissed and backed up. The chicken eyed the cat. If she had an eyebrow I think she cocked it.

Then Chick Norris, bad-ass bird, leaned in to peck her share of Little Friskies. The Ninja glared.

I've seen that cat kill rabbits. A chicken was certainly not outside her range. But Chick Norris is such a bad-ass that even the Ninja cat had to pause.

After careful study, the cat backed down. And left. That's one bad-ass bird.

Chick Norris finished her Little Friskies, hopped off the boat, and waddled off into the sunset.

I'm seriously hoping that Chick Norris is actually Darwin, and the pile of feathers that is what is left of #7 actually belongs to a bird with less personality than Darwin and Chick Norris. Let's keep our fingers crossed, shall we?


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 07:35 am   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email

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