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Sunday, 30 August 2015

Whoever came up with the idea for a Zombie Apocalypse must have been raising goats. When the sun goes down around here, the only thing standing between slumbering livestock and The Walking Dead, is my favorite Nightwalker - Briar.

The coyotes begin to sing shortly before sundown and our sleeping giant awakes to begin her shift. All night long she barks and races off into the dark, the bell around her neck clanging loudly. It is the same bell the goats wear. In time perhaps the predators will come to associate the bell with the big white dog.

Sunup normally finds her lying behind the sheep pens looking up at the mountain. I release the pups from the goat pen, and we take a walk with the rest of the pack. Briar's shift is over, and she can relax. The cool mornings find her playful and sometimes she deigns to interact with her minions. They fall over themselves when she even notices them, so when she plays they are absolutely giddy. Her antics tend to be shortlived, perhaps she is burning off steam from the night before, but like the puppies, I enjoy watching her play.  She is an animated carpet, whirling in the red dust, chasing her tail, full of humor.

As quickly as it begins, it's over. Briar shakes the dust off along with all trappings of silliness, and as the sun climbs higher in the sky, she once more becomes the lazy white dog sleeping off the responsibilities of the night.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:39 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, 27 August 2015

The good thing about making a complete fool out of yourself around here is there is no one around to see you. That's not true - there's an entire forest watching me. In fact right now there's conversation going on between a coyote and a bobcat that goes something like this:

"Did you see her last night?"

"Oh yeah. I laughed so hard I fell out of the tree."

It started innocently enough. I had just returned from the laundromat with a truckload of clean blankets, sleeping bags, comforters, and clothes - six washer loads! I was walking back outside for the last load when I noticed Judge and Jury trotting across the yard, carrying something black. On closer inspection the object in question was my favorite black bra.

Each pup had an arm strap and they were spinning and slingshotting each other back and forth across the yard like a canine Tilt-A-Whirl. Here's my plug for Champion Sports Bras - it held up for a long time.

I started asking the pups to come show me what they had. Judge dropped his end and trotted up with a toothy grin. Jury ran like a spotted ape with the bra.

He dipped under the barbed wire fence and settled down about twenty feet on the other side to chew his new black slingshot.

So close, and yet, so far.

The fence was tightly strung and the closest gate was 300 yards away. Jury was 'just' on the other side, laughing at me. I called. I pleaded. I heard the sound of fabric tearing. I cussed. I cajoled. He was having a grand time, both enjoying his prize and watching my multiple personalities emerge.

Finally good sense settled in and I opted to call all dogs and take off running for the barn. This proved too enticing for the little beast and he came running in with everyone else - without the bra. No problem. I'd just send Lily to retrieve it.

Retrieving underwear out of the pasture is not exactly in Lily's databanks. (Other Half and I are pretty civilized by those standards.) When given orders to slip under the fence and "bring me that!" Lily shot under the wire and began to trot back and forth across the bra looking for something of greater importance. This gave Jury the time he needed to scoop up his prize and trot down the fence line. Judge joined him and another round of Anatolian Tilt-A-Whirl commenced.

I began to plead with Lily to just march right in there, pull rank, and take the damned bra. Apparently possession really is 9/10's of the law because Lily refused to steal their toy. In desperation I tried the Run-To-The-Barn routine again. It worked. Once more the whole crew ran to barn. This time I had the presence of mind to give the little snots an empty water bottle. I called for Dillon and ordered him to go retrieve the bra. He presented me, instead, with a black rubber feed tub.

"NO! Drop that and go get my bra!" I shouted.

"But wouldn't you rather have a bucket? Buckets are so much more fun. "You can run with them. And carry them on your face."

"And carry things inside them."

"NO!!!!!! Go get my bra!"

Slightly hurt at my tone, he dropped the bucket and stared at me.

Lily assessed the situation. Idiot. He's an idiot with a bucket. She slipped under the fence and searched the area for whatever 'something' was so important to me. As she crossed the bra, I yelled "YES!!"

The dog turned around, inspected the dirty, torn bra lying in the briars, raised an eyebrow and said, "This? Really? All that screaming was about this?"

I was just a little bit ashamed of myself. Yes, shamed by a Border Collie. Trust me. It happens more often than I'd like to admit.

So I got the bra back. Another plug for Champion Sports Bras: Despite rocketing Anatolian pups around the barnyard the only real damage was a few tooth holes, which is not too bad for the abuse it took. Dillon forgave me for screaming at me. Jury doesn't care. And Lily, she's staying close for whatever personality emerges when puppies steal mom's underwear.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:40 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Say goodbye to Orville.

We dropped him off at the sale barn yesterday. I would have preferred to butcher him for us or the dogs, but Other Half refused to eat him and didn't want to go to the trouble to butcher him for the dogs. We will butcher a calf soon and so freezer space will be limited. There was not enough room for a ram who had earned a spot in freezer camp.

The thing about rams and bucks is that they are basically all about sex, or in Orville's case, sex and killing rivals. Orville decided that my high dollar buck, Jethro, was a rival and thus, must be killed. I heard Jethro screaming and ran to help, certain I'd find one of the dogs had him by the ear. I rounded the corner to find Orville bouncing Jethro around the pen like a soccer ball. The buck is much larger than the ram, but Orville is all muscle with a low center of gravity. Poor Jethro wasn't fighting, he could barely defend himself against the attack.

I had my doubts about running into the pen but figured that if I didn't, he'd kill Jethro. Lily was in the house, so I took Briar with me. The presence of the dog temporarily shocked Orville out of his homicidal fog, and bought me the time to shuffle Jethro out of the pen. Then Briar and I beat a hasty retreat while Orville was trotting around with his head on a swivel like a Spanish bull.

I took one long look at that and said, "Orville's got to die."

Other Half was aghast at my decision. He had not seen Orville's assault and really didn't seem to believe I'd sentence him to death for just playing rough. Read my lips: Orville was not playing.

Orville's goal was to kill the ram. Rams who do that also attack people. Not all rams attack people, but all rams that attack people started attacking other animals first.

Had I not been home he would probably have succeeded in killing a Nubian buck twice his size. Orville had been getting cheeky since the girls came home. He had rammed Briar for no reason and threatened the other dogs through the fence. I wouldn't even let the puppies around him. The day before the attack Orville was attempting to rape one of my wethers (neuthered male goat) and I tossed the wethers out of the pen and left him alone with Jethro, naively believely the bigger buck would be safe.

After the attack I contacted a friend who is a longtime sheep breeder and asked for her advice, and recipes. She said she would have butchered him when he first started attacking the dogs. Alrightie then. I'm aware that people have been killed by aggressive rams, so once I decided that Orville had to die, it was just a matter of when and where. I'd have been happy to put him in the freezer for sausage but Other Half would have none of it. With ten dogs, the prospect of dog food also seemed promising. (and won't be ruled out in the future!)

In the end we took him to auction. Over 3000 sheep and goats ran through that sale yesterday. I said goodbye to Orville as he trotted off to the pens and all the other sheep. He didn't look back.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 03:12 pm   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email

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