site map
Farm Fresh Blog
Friday, 29 May 2015

Several of you have asked about Mesa, so here's the update. She is approximately 6 months old now and so we've not done a lot of livestock work with her. I keep goats and sheep in the yard and she regularly sees them, and occasionally does drive-bys on them, but I don't encourage interaction because the sheep are heavily pregnant and the goats have tiny babies. She shows a lot of interest without being a rabid, out-of-control maniac.

Rather than isolating her from the livestock like we did with Trace as a toddler, we are more casual around the small stock with Mesa, much as I did with Lily. She is learning that while just running them is unacceptable, moving them off the porch is okay. From time to time I let her gather the goats who behave much like knee-knocker sheep, assembling around me in a bewildered group. Once she gathers them, I let her orbit a few times and then call her off. We really don't do much more than that. I'm waiting for her mind to catch up to her body.

Mesa is finally in control of her body, and is now able to beat Trace in a game of fetch. This is no small feat.  Even though she is physically able to control tame goats and sheep, I don't think she has enough self-control yet to do much serious work with livestock. At this age, I'm just trying to impress upon her that merely because the stock is there, it doesn't mean she needs to run off and do anything with them. She likes making the livestock move but another really important part of being a stockdog is leaving the stock alone when moving them isn't necessary.

Although it's tempting to let her play with the stock because she's cute and she enjoys it, doing so isn't good for my livestock, and their welfare is first and foremost. My sheep are very pregnant now and they don't need to provide amusement for a baby predator. I want her to understand that she doesn't move sheep because it's a fun game for her. She moves sheep because I need them moved.

I have noticed that like Lily, she is a micromanaging sergeant-at-arms who likes to tell everyone else what to do. Although it can be a pain in the butt when she tries this with the other dogs, the behavior is very handy in a stockdog because the dog looks for what she perceives as someone not following rules and attempts to establish order. There is a fine line between encouraging this for my use and creating an Alexander The Great, a puppy marching the continent, bent on world domination.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:13 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 27 May 2015

 Things have been pretty busy lately, but I want to pause and send out a big 'Thank you' to everyone who checked on us during the recent floods in Texas. We really appreciated your prayers. Thus far both our properties are doing well. The south Texas farm is underwater but the barn and house are dry so we're okay. The animals are not in any danger of drowning. I have sheep lambing soon so we're keeping them in the barn with the goats.

The cattle at both places are doing fine.

Our biggest worry now is helping the rancher next door move his cattle to higher ground. He has cattle in an area that will be flooding soon because the river is rising as we continue to get more rain and as water comes from upstream. We need to gather 189 cows and load them into 18-Wheelers to be moved to higher ground.

Our family has the luxury of a regular paycheck outside of the ranch, but our neighbor must depend upon those cattle because they are his only paycheck. If he lost 189 cows that average $1000-$3000 each, he would lose a small fortune. Think about that as you cut into your perfectly grilled juicy steak this weekend. An awful lot of work and worry went into putting that steak on your plate, so please take a moment to say a prayer for the Texas Rancher.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:51 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Monday, 25 May 2015

Read my lips: South Texas is NO LONGER in a drought.

North Texas is looking a lot better in the water department too. All our ponds are filled up again,and there is water running through the almost-always dry creek. Ahhh, the creek. It is a most interesting neighbor. This creek gives our property its wild beauty, but keeps it untamed.

There used to be a dirt road running along the west edge of our property. The county owned and maintained it at one time but finally gave up fighting that creek because it cannot be tamed.

We knew this when we bought our property. The creek criss-crosses and meanders all the way across our ranch. There is a main creek, but there are also several smaller "sub-creeks" which tie into the big one. We have at least four creek crossings on exterior fence lines. Twice the main creek crosses the exterior fence line. Well, not any more. The fence is gone now.

 There used to be a fence stretched underneath those guide wires. If you look closely behind the small tree on the right side of the picture you can see the cattle panels crumpled under there. This has just become a major highway for cattle on both sides. The cows can walk under this fence without even touching their ears. Now they can leave our ranch on the south side of the property. The rancher who has cattle on the south side will soon have his cows coming over to our place.

 This is the picture of a frustrated man. Do you see that mangled fence? It is supposed to stretch ACROSS the creek, but it has now been bent back against the east bank. This has also just become a major highway for cattle. Now they can leave on the north side of the property.

Because more rain is expected, there was little point in trying to fix the fences now. We might as well just gear up to retrieve cattle and fix the fences when the water goes down. We have giant boulders the size of Smart Cars in that creek. The force of the water MOVED one of those giant boulders. The debris line is pretty high, but the water didn't stay up long because the vegetation isn't dead.

 See that sandy bank? There used to be a really big tree trunk lying across it. I know this because for years I used to shoot at it. (Nice safe place for target practice) The tree is now GONE! Imagine the force it took to lift a heavy tree and take it down stream. That kind of force demands respect.

At the moment the creek is back to being our deceptively tame neighbor. The rains have brought lush spring grass, wildflowers, and water for the year.

For now, all the cattle are present and accounted for, and we had two brand new calves.

 That's not his momma.

 Her calf is peeking out from behind her. This is the first time he's seen humans.

 He has been born into a wet, wild, and dangerous world. His survival depends upon his mother's good sense and his father's protective instincts. His father is a young bull who shows a strong tendency to protect the calves. His mother, Dancing Cow, is the lead cow. She is the oldest and wisest, so this little guy stands a good chance of surviving, but not only must he contend with coyotes and cougars, he must also survive the creek.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:36 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

Failte Gate Farm

Copyright 2009-2014, Farm Fresh Forenics/forensicfarmgirl/Failte Gate Farm,  All Rights Reserved.