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Farm Fresh Blog
Sunday, March 28 2010
Advice For The Day (Learned the Hard Way!)
Do NOT, I repeat, DO NOT run over a pile of sheep's wool with a lawnmower!
On the other hand, if you do, you will become your Livestock Guardian Dog's new best friend!
I don't spend any money on toys for this dog. She is easily amused.
Saturday, March 27 2010
Staff? That's a laugh! She can't even take a vacation because she can't find competent help to "staff" the farm for a week while she's gone. I felt her pain. It reminded me to be ever-thankful for my Dear Friend and her Vet Husband who run a small farm down the road from us.
We switch off taking care of each other's animals so we can each get out of town from time to time. They raise heritage turkeys. I tried that. I sucked at it. After months of caring for them, when the turkeys finally got up to eating size, coyotes got into the flight pen and killed most of my flock in one night. (13 turkeys and 5 chickens!) That was the end of my turkey raising, but Dear Friend managed to successfully raise her flock and butcher them herself. More power to her. I'll stick with 4-legged animals for now. I live in fear that when I'm taking care of her turkeys, I'll bring my Bad-Turkey-Karma over and find that coyotes have massacred her entire flock on my shift. Eeeek!!!
Anyway, the point is that those of us who raise livestock have a hard time finding good help. You simply cannot do it by yourself, so sometimes you get a little creative when hiring "staff."
I can neither afford Round-Up, nor do I wish to poison my fence lines. So I got a Landscaping crew that cleared fence lines:
(These pioneers paved the way to GOATS on the farm. They were both a blessing and a curse.)
I was heartbroken. I swore to Other Half that I would not get any more geese because I loved these little guys so much. I broke the cardinal rule: Never Fall In Love With Something On The Bottom Of The Food Chain!
(Update on his renal faillure: He is still holding his own and refuses to "Go Gentle Into That Good Night." He is a fighter. )
So the moral of this story is: Good help IS hard to find, but a little creativity will save you a lot of work!
Friday, March 26 2010
This is why I drove across Texas to get this dog.
This sheep is Roanie, the other ewe that was attacked by New Police Dog. Because Jamaica died and left Roanie alone in the hospital stall, we took the vet's advice to just throw Roanie out with the rest of the sheep. She must fend for herself at meal time and the long walk out on three legs is tough, but she seems MUCH happier. Today she met Briar for the first time. It was magical. This is clearly what this dog was bred to do. The ewe came from a ranch with Livestock Guardian Dogs and was originally born on the ranch where Briar was born. Instead of playing bumbly puppy games with her new sheep, Briar greeted her slowly.
Then she checked out the mangled back leg.
Then she kissed her.
Then the sheep laid her head on Briar's shoulder.
And they just stood there.
It was so beautiful that I almost cried. (My mother stood beside me and whispered, "Are you getting pictures of this??!!") Briar is still a bouncey baby elephant of a dog, but even at her young age, she understands her job. It's in her genes. And that is why I drove across Texas to get this dog.
Briar in her Super Hero pose!
Thursday, March 25 2010
Believe it or not, this dog is working.
She sits in her chair and surveys her little kingdom. Not much goes on in the pasture that she doesn't know about. I am alerted every time a chicken walks near the sheep, or a robin lands near the water trough. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it.
This dog is also working.
Someone got the short end of the stick.
Wednesday, March 24 2010
While Jamaica won many battles, she lost the war. Early this morning we had to put her down. The tetanus was simply too much on top of the injury she already had and her immune system finally gave out. We learned a great deal from this experience and like my vet told me, "It's 30% medicine and 70% luck." I regret that I didn't recognize the signs of tetanus hours earlier and start the antitoxin then, but as one sheep rancher told me, "Most folks lose the first ones. You learn. And after that you're able to see the signs earlier."
On a happier note:
Lily the Border Collie has been weed-eating beside the porch. She loves to munch on a tall weed that grows against the house and always grabs a bite on each pass in and out the door. It has now been eaten down enough to reveal this little visitor poking its head out of the ground. I love Spring. Forgotten bulbs from discarded flower pots find a way of revealing themselves at just the right time. Now each Spring when these pop out of the ground, I'll remember Jamaica.
Tuesday, March 23 2010
It has been confirmed that Jamaica The Sheep has tetanus. Her chances of recovery are slim. This is an ugly disease. I first noticed she was a bit off on Saturday morning. Saturday night there was clearly a problem but I didn't recognize the classic signs of tetanus. She was standing like a sawhorse with white foarm around her mouth.
She looked like a Hollywood version of a rabid dog!
As is so often the case, we couldn't get a vet out on the weekend, so assuming it was an intestinal problem, we treated the symptoms. That didn't work.
Sunday morning there was still no vet available, but the next best thing WAS available: THE INTERNET!!!! No, despite our attempts at internet sleuthing, we were unable to google our way to a diagnosis. I'm on several yahoo sheep groups. I put the question to them and was quickly rewarded with multiple cries of "TETANUS!!!!" (thank God for the internet!)
We started her on the antitoxin and put her on fluids. By Sunday night she was paralyzed from the neck down. I decided to shoot her. Then . . . I got multiple notes telling me that these farmers had gone through this and HAD sheep RECOVER. Looking at Jamaica, I figured that it was impossible. I called Dear Friend for moral advice. I wanted to give this sheep every chance to live, but didn't want her to suffer. I have shot sheep who were in better shape than Jamaica is now.
Dear Friend and her Husband-The-Dog-Vet have a bottle-fed goat and are now looking into getting sheep and more goats. He wants to start working on sheep and they threw out the idea of bringing Jamaica to their garage and treating her in a more "sterile" environment" than the horse stall (where she obviously contracted the tetanus!)
We discussed the course of treatment with folks who had done this before (thank GOD for the internet!) and with my large animal vet. We had a game plan. The future still looks dismal, and I hate to prolong her suffering, but this particular sheep has shown a remarkable desire to live, and so as long as she wants to live, we will help her.
I have given her to them, and so if she makes it, they have told me they will change her name to Princess and pamper her like a pet. While it still doesn't look good, if any ewe can survive, it'll be this one. And if she doesn't, then we will have still learned valuable veterinary skills.
This has given me a greater respect for tetanus. It is an ugly death. While I don't know what shots she had prior to coming to my place, I know that we gave her the vaccine, and she still got tetanus. From what I understand this is a very common thing. Don't put too much faith in that vaccine. Know the early signs of the disease. Had we caught it early and started her on massive doses of antitoxin then, we may not be where we are now. Who knows?
I do know that I've had horses and goats for YEARS and never had a case of tetanus, but when it hits, it's a shocking eye-opener. I didn't have enough respect for this disease. Jamaica is like a cadaver in rigor mortis (she is THAT STIFF!) and yet, she is still breathing and she is still swallowing her smoothies. We will know something soon. Either she'll get better with the anti-toxin or she'll die. The farmer in me says, "put her down." The vet in me says "let's try to save her."
I can tell you this much - this disease is so bad that it's enough to make ME run out and get a tetanus booster!
On another note:
Border Collie was spayed today. While the vet was doing the procedure, he and I were talking to the tech about what a good dog she was and how much help she is to us on the farm. (Vet is my neighbor and knows first hand!) After listening to our stories about this dog, Vet Tech said, "Why are we spaying her? Put those back!!!" (her ovaries were already out)
I stood over her little prone body and worried the whole time. I hate putting a dog under for anything, but she made it through the surgery just fine. Phone is ringing. Vet. I can pick up my little Kung Fu Panda now.
And so begins the drama of trying to keep a Border Collie quiet . . .
Sunday, March 21 2010
Prepare yourselves . . .
Jamaica, the injured sheep who was doing so well, took a turn for the worse last night. It appears that she has tetanus. She was one of the new sheep and so I wasn't sure when her last tetanus shot was, so after the dog attack, I gave her another one. Unfortunately she STILL got tetanus. And folks, it ain't looking good. We gave her the antitoxin and the vet put her on fluids, but she may not survive the night. She is a fighter, and has won battle after battle, but it looks like she may lose the war.
On a happier note:
As if ONE drama was not enough in our lives, Other Half went looking for MORE drama today. We were driving down the highway (in the middle of freakin' NOWHERE!) when he said, "Did you see that cow stuck in the mud?"
No, I did not.
Here she is . . . (after about an hour of us trying to get her un-stuck, when I realized that I should be taking pictures!)
Girlfriend was stuck up to her belly in a muddy ditch, and she was all by herself. If we left her there, the coyotes would undoubtedly kill her tonight and it wouldn't be pretty. So, what did we do? We turned around and went to the nearest farmhouse.
She wasn't his cow. In fact, he had no idea who leased that property. BUT . . . he had a tractor and a brother-in-law, and we had a tow rope. An idea was born.
Other Half and Brother-in-Law of Tractor Man
This poor cow needs some groceries. They managed to get a tow rope around her middle but it kept slipping off over her head. After MANY attempts, they got her stretched out on her side.
It took quite a while, but they FINALLY got her out of that mud. She was exhausted, and not in the least bit appreciative. We still have no idea whose cow this is. The guys hosed each other off, drank some tea (Southern thing!) and we headed off to deal with our sick sheep. How do we manage to just hop from one drama to another?
And now . . . I have to go to the barn and check on our tetanus patient. Then I'll go to the goat barn and check on the goat who is so pregnant that she is literally wider than she is tall. She must be carrying some really big twins or maybe triplets. I don't care what she's carrying as long as it's an easy delivery and they're healthy. I don't think my heart can stand any more drama for a while!
Saturday, March 20 2010
When you live in the country, there is no shortage of excuses for why you're late. As I
left the house yesterday, I announced to Other Half that I was "ON SCHEDULE" and would
actually manage to make it work on time. (Why do I announce this to the Winds of Fate?
To do so is playing with disaster - or at the very least, spitting in the wind.)
So since I had properly alerted Fate, I left the house and headed to work. One mile down the
road I heard the laughter. It was Fate. There, by the highway, were two loose horses.
Great. Just great. If I called the Sheriff's office and then left, they'll get hit. Soooo,
with Fate laughing in my ear, I called Other Half and informed him that I needed his help. Then I
called the office and informed them that I would be, yet again, late. They didn't seem surprised.
Now I'm not the only person who drags in late, but I always, hands down, have the most bizarre excuses! People who live in suburbia just can't compete. (except for the guy who had a tree limb crash through his house and into his daughter's room. Apparently the limb contained several squirrels who then ran amuck in his house. That, Friends & Neighbors is MY KIND OF
My own excuses ALWAYS seem to involve the farm:
* "Sorry I'm late, the goats got out again!"
* "I'll be an hour late because the paint horse choked on his food and I had to take him to
* "No, I won't be able to come to work today. I fell out of the horse trailer and sprained
my ankle. Now I can't get my boot on."
* "Hello? Yes, it's me. I'll be late again. I have to bury the old barn cat."
* "Yes, I need to leave early. Apparently my dog is in heat."
* "I have to take tomorrow off. I need to pick up hay in the field."
* "I need to take tomorrow off. The weatherman says it'll be a good day for working on
* "My dog just swallowed an entire filet mignon - complete with the metal skewer. I'm gonna be
* "I'm running late. I have to take my Border Collie to the vet to get the cast off her broken
* "Yes! It's me! Late! Again! (huff puff huff puff) The ponies just got out and I had to run them down."
On the other hand, while the people at work have to deal with my farm excuses, my family has
to deal with my work excuses:
* "No, I won't be home on time. Some guy jumped off a building."
* "I KNOW you're cooking steak for Valentine's Day, but the Medical Examiner's office STILL
hasn't picked up my dead guy so I'm gonna be late."
* "Can you go by the house and feed the dogs? I caught a Drive-by Shooting and I'm gonna be
here another 3 hours."
* "Would you check on my pregnant goat? A dumptruck just squished some guy's head. I'm gonna be here a while."
And the list goes on . . .
Friday, March 19 2010
If your time hasn't come,
not even a doctor can kill you."
Meyer A. Perlstein
Since doctoring these sheep is a two-person job, I enlisted the aid of Dear-Friend-Who-Is-Vet's-Wife. Not only is she a reliable Helping Hand, but she has her husband on speed dial. Since she helped stitch them up after their attack, she has taken quite an interest in their recovery. In fact, we are ALL amazed that they are alive. (This is because they are cheap, mutt sheep that I hadn't planned to breed! I am certain that if the dog had attacked $450 registered ewes, they would have been belly-up as soon as the dog ran past them. Soooo . . . even though they are not "supposed" to be part of the breeding program, they may stay around just because they have managed not to die. Charles Darwin would love it.)
Neither Dear Friend, nor I, have a vet degree hanging on the wall, (Okay, she does, but it's not hers!) so we were really muddling through our Daily Doctoring Duties. (I'm sure the sheep will be REALLY happy when Other Half is giving the shots again.)
Our days went pretty much like this:
Pull penicillin out of refrigerator. Shake. Shake. Shake. Get into deep discussion about whether or not penicillin is too lumpy. Find clean syringe. Find clean needle. Draw up 9 cc of penicillin. Thump at bubbles in syringe. Cuss getting old. Put on glasses so we can see the bubbles. Thump syringe some more to remove bubbles. Shoot penicillin out end to remove bubbles. Shoot penicillin all over stall wall. (Farmer Graffiti) Draw up more penicillin to make up for what you painted all over the wall. Thump out bubbles.
Turn to look at sheep. Sheep stare in resigned terror. Put syringe in tray to free hands for sheep wrangling. While not the brightest crayons in the box, sheep will still figure out the game plan when you poke them every day for two weeks. Begin the chase around stall. Sheep are feeling better. Sheep can run now. Catch one ewe while other watches with growing dread. Dear Friend straddles ewe, using her legs as a squeeze chute around sheep's neck. I poke ewe with needle. Apologize to sheep again for putting the dog where she could eat them. (The sheep are somewhat reluctant to accept my apology. I don't know why.)
Stab thumb with needle while trying to put the cap back on. Cuss. Squeeze blood out of puncture. Discuss diseases that you can catch from being stabbed by sheep needle. Decide that life is too short to borrow trouble and opt not to worry about it. Because we ran out of aerosol pink topical spray, decide to use bright purple spray left over from a mangled chicken. (NOT my fault/chicken lived - until the bobcat ate her two months later!)
Spray sheep's leg. Manage to coat injured sheep's leg with purple topical spray.
Also manage to spray myself in the face. (yes, I actually had to go to work with purple dots all over my chin!)
Also manage to spray favorite sweatshirt.
Also manage to spray Dear Friend's boots.
No, the purple stains do NOT come out. Favorite Gray Sweatshirt will now be a constant reminder that some idiot hosed herself in the face with purple medicine. ("Who?") Dear Friend's boots are now farm boots. (I bought her a buffalo burger for lunch and gave her a lamb!)
Other Half should be home in 3 more hours. Hopefully I won't kill the sheep in that time. I really don't look forward to explaining that sweatshirt and why I still have purple stains on my chin.
Thursday, March 18 2010
This poor sheep was unfortunate enough to have ear tag #13. Don't blame me, I bought her that way. Dear-Friend-Who-Is-Vet's-Wife-And- Who-Is-Helping-Me-Keep-#13-Alive-Until-Other-Half-Comes-Home gave all sheep and goat breeders this advice:
"Ear Tags should be like elevator floors. You should just skip #13!"
She is one of the sheep that New Police Dog mauled.
So let's re-cap the events in her life over the last month. I bought her. She was already very, very thin. The dog mauled her. She has had to endure stitching, stapling, and daily penicillin injections. THEN . . . the poor thing had a miscarriage!
She is beginning to remind me of the one-eyed, three-legged, neutered dog named "Lucky."
So we cut off that darned ear tag today! Her name is "JAMAICA" ("cuz HomeGirl got dreadlocks!")
Wednesday, March 17 2010
The other day I mentioned to someone that except for the retired animals (several dogs and one old horse), everything on the farm had to earn its keep. The Golden Rule is "If you can't contribute something to the farm, you can't stay!"
She laughed and pointed out my miniature horses. Hmmmm . . . It didn't quite occur to me that they were useless in the eyes of most people. Most people think size matters. If it's too little to ride, then it's useless. Not so!
Meet Saint Napolean! He is worth is weight in gold.
Napolean was sainted when it became apparent that he possessed a "larger than life" heart for his size. Napolean is an angel with children. He is solid as a rock with the grandbaby and quite frankly, that makes him more valuable than any other horse we have. Saint Napolean was in the isolation pen with the new sheep when they were attacked by New Police Dog. When I found the most seriously injured sheep, Napolean was hiding her in the corner. He was shielding her with his body. As we moved her out of the pasture, he fussed and fretted over her the whole way. What a little trooper!
So to the naysayers who believe that a Miniature Horse is a useless luxury on the farm, I cry "FOUL!" Napolean is worth every bit of the space and food he takes up.
And Ruffy . . .
Well . . . Ruffy is Napolean's best friend. And that's enough.
Sunday, March 14 2010
Oh MY GOSH!
Other Half photographed Border Collie working calves today. YIKES! These pictures scare the crap out of me!
This heifer looks like a rodeo cow!
"DUCK, Lily DUCK!!!"
Please tell me she didn't get kicked in the face.
This little bull calf is quite the kicker.
"Duck Lily, DUCK!"
She finally got them to tow the line.
It was hard work though. Look at that tongue!
Okay, call me a chicken, but these pictures scared the crap outta me! I love this little dog and would be devastated if I lost her. On the other hand, she had the time of her life. This is clearly what she was bred to do. She obviously loves working the cows and with a little practice, she will be as much help with the cows as she is with the sheep and goats.
Still . . . I think I should get a Saint Francis tag for her collar!
Sunday, March 14 2010
This is the reason we have to have a cow dog:
Thus . . . we have to have a dog that works cows.
First String Cow Dog!
The problem with First String Cow Dog is that (bless his little pointy head) he cannot think outside the box, and he is also very sensitive to criticism (space cadet). If things are not going well in the pasture and Other Half yells at Blue Heeler (for not listening to him!) Blue Heeler will simply say "Well then pen 'em your own damned self!"
That has happened on several occasions and Other Half has repeatedly asked me when I was ready to put Border Collie on cows. Border Collie can think outside the box. Border Collie never quits. Border Collie was bred from cow working dogs. Border Collie has turned into a cracking good dog for working sheep and goats. "So WHEN" Other Half asks, "are you going to put her on COWS??"
"NEVER!" I exclaim. "I love her too much to have a cow kick her in the head." (my nightmare) And so the argument continues. He wants to use the dog. She's MY dog, so I win the argument. Border Collie doesn't have a vote. She is only one year old and thus is too young to vote.
So yesterday when Stupid-Yearling-Heifer-Who-Can-Do-The-Limbo-Under-Fences-Despite-Electricity-And-Barbed-Wire got out AGAIN, the old argument started AGAIN.
The Suspect (This calf is destined for the market instead of breeding because she is a direct descendant of Harry Houdini.)
Other Half walks (stalks) over with Blue Heeler to retrieve Heifer-Destined-To-Be-Hamburger. Blue Heeler has picked up Heifer but is now driving her too fast and goes past the hole that Other Half has cut in the fence to allow Idiot Heifer to come back home. Other Half has yelled at Blue Heeler to SLOW DOWN. Blue Heeler ignores him. Other Half has just worked a 12 hour shift and is a Cranky Person. He cusses out Blue Heeler. Blue Heeler turns around (in the picture) and informs Other Half that he can, "Just pen her yer own damned self then!"
Other Half is livid. (He is ready to put a bullet in Blue Heeler.) I argue that Blue Heeler is a sensitive soul (space cadet) and Other Half should not cuss at him no matter how angry he gets. (Translated: "You KNOW he's a spook. If you cuss at him and he quits it's your own damned fault!")
I encourage them to start again. Blue Heeler chases Heifer out of pasture and into ANOTHER pasture. Other Half throws his hands up and quits. He doesn't CARE if the neighbor gets another cow ("Good riddance!") and he doesn't care if Blue Heeler comes home. (which he does as soon as I call him in a sweet voice)
Other Half feeds the rest of the cows. Idiot Heifer climbs through two more fences (bitch!) to return to the feeder in the roping arena. We lock her in where she must remain until Market Day. Since there is no sense leaving the rest of the mommas and babies in the roping arena, Other Half wants to cut out Idiot Heifer and Bully (also going to Market) and run everyone else out of the arena. This should be easy.
Blue Heeler complicates things by chasing the wrong cows. Other Half is beside himself with anger (and no sleep) and throws crook at Blue Heeler. Blue Heeler says, and I quote, "Well just pen 'em up yer own damned self then!"
We get the cattle separated while Blue Heeler waits at the fence. He doesn't want to work anymore. Other Half is in a bad mood and Blue Heeler is sensitive. But there IS someone sitting on the bench (in the truck) who has been screaming her fool head off. She has been screaming, and I quote, "Put ME in, Coach! Put ME in, Coach!"
Other Half points out AGAIN, that we need a cow dog who can listen to instructions, think outside the box, and won't get her feelings hurt and quit when things get too exciting. I look at Border Collie who is begging me to let her work the cows.
"Please! Please! Pul-ease! Let me work the cows! I promise I'll be careful! PLEASE MOM!"
I take a deep breath. Border Collie is my baby. She sleeps on my bed. But then I remember that she has been bred to be a cow dog, not a lap dog. Every fiber in her body is telling her that she is supposed to work livestock. I worry about her. What if she gets hurt? Then I remember that I am a cop. Other Half is cop. We are the kind of people who run TOWARDS the shooting when the guns fire. It's who we are. Of course we can get hurt, but we accept that risk. I look at Border Collie as she begs me to let her do what she was bred to do. Then I gulp and say, "Okay, but only on the calves, not on the mommas and babies."
Other Half nods and Border Collie whoops with joy.
She hops out of the truck and heads for the arena. She was gonna be a COW DOG just like her parents, and her grandparents, and her great grandparents. I say a prayer and let her work the cows. (I didn't take any pictures because I was handling her as she worked the yearling calves. She did a FANTASTIC job and she clearly understood that unlike sheep and goats, cows kick. In less than three minutes she had the calves saluting and under control. (fast teeth)
"I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!"
And thus is the Birth of a Cow Dog. Keep my little Lily in your prayers. I will be hysterical if a cow kicks her in the head, but I also understand that working cows is what she was bred to do. It's in her genes. (I will probably still say a prayer and cross myself whenever she goes in with the cows.)
Friday, March 12 2010
This is what I want to breed. All my sheep should look like this.
Easy lambing with lambs that gain weight fast!
This is NOT what I wanted to breed . . .
But through a series of adventures, I ended up with these sheep (and another one!) that didn't exactly fit with the program. I figured that I would get them back in physical condition and then sell them. Less than a week after their arrival, disaster struck.
"I want my lawyer!"
I was sure they'd die of shock and so I didn't even bother to photograph the carnage. We stitched them up and shot them up with penicillin and banimine daily. I still didn't bother to photograph them because I fully expected them to die of infection. But it has now been over a week since the "alleged attack" and these two hardy ladies are still alive.
ICKKKK! Major muscle damage to both right hind legs. You could actually SEE through to the other side of the leg.
They are now beginning to put weight on the injured legs. Although they were wormed prior to their arrival, their fecals show that they need to be wormed again, so I'm going to have to risk adding a wormer to the chemical cocktail they are already having to endure. I fear that if I don't worm them, the worms will kill them faster than the infection from their injuries.
Nevertheless, their hardiness has amazed me and even though they don't "look" like the kind of sheep I want to breed, they most definitely possess the genes for survival that I want to pass on. If these ladies live, I certainly may add them to the breeding program. Keep them in your prayers. They're not out of the woods yet.
Other Half is going out of town next week (taking the Accused Sheep Killer with him!) and has really put the pressure on me when he said, "Please don't let the sheep die while I'm gone." (How's THAT for pressure?)
Thursday, March 11 2010
Other Half is not a morning person. He is so much NOT a morning person that if you told him the Hooter's Girls were serving coffee and bacon in his very own kitchen, he would tell them to hold on for just another hour and he'd fall back to sleep. Consequently, the goats, sheep, horses, and dogs are fed by moi, the morning person.
It takes me about an hour - 50 minutes if I cut out the dogs' walk. Other Half assures me that he can do this in 10 minutes. Unh huh. You get right on that, Mister. The past two days were perfect examples of how Men THINK they know better than Women and refuse to listen to said Women when they are given advice.
Day 1 - I am running late for work and Other Half is going to pen the sheep for the evening while I take a shower and get in my uniform. (Don't ask me why I feel the need to take a shower before I play Twister over dead people, but I do.) I instruct Other Half to remove Briar (Livestock Guardian Dog puppy who cannot be trusted not to play too rough with sheep when she is unattended) from the sheep pen BEFORE he attempts to put the sheep back in the pen. Otherwise Briar will greet the sheep as Border Collie tries to move them into the pen. Sheep do not appreciate a 5 month old puppy bouncing on their backs and licking their faces because she has not had nose-to-nose contact with them in the past 4 hours. Sheep will tolerate this for only a few seconds before they turn around and run back over the Border Collie. Thus, I give Other Half strict instructions to remove the puppy FIRST. He ignores me.
I watch from the window as he heads out to the pasture with Border Collie. Yep. He was gonna do it HIS WAY. Okie dokie, Smokie. Friends and Neighbors, I MUST be PSYCHIC because that puppy bounced all over her little sheepy family and they turned around and ran back over the Border Collie. I couldn't hear it from the house, but there appeared to be much cussing. I swear I could hear this though! I am certain that I heard Border Collie say, "But that's not the way MOMMY does it!" (said in the pleading tone of an elementary school child)
Day 2 - We attended a funeral in the morning, and thus, we were running very late that afternoon. Other Half and Son had to pen healthy sheep and doctor injured sheep while I got ready for work. I said, and I quote, "Take the injured sheep out of the alleyway pen and put them in their stall BEFORE you attempt to drive the healthy sheep through there OR the healthy sheep will just run over the injured sheep and there'll be a wreck."
They ignored me. Both of them. I didn't have time to watch the wreck. I saw two fairly intelligent men head out to the pasture with a Border Collie and so I climbed in the shower. Then I got dressed. Other Half came inside as I was about to leave.
"How'd it go?" I asked.
"It was a (delete word) train wreck! The healthy sheep ran into the alleyway and got mixed up with the injured sheep! It took forever to sort them out!" (There was more said, but I deleted that due to content of cussing and threats of barbecue.)
I then asked Son if I was invisible. I needed SOME explanation for why his father simply couldn't accept that "I" might actually KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! Son patiently explained that this was not a problem specific to his father. He further explained that HE also heard my instructions and ALSO chose to ignore them.
"It's a Guy Thing," he said.
I then looked down at my female Border Collie. She gave me a sad look and said, "I told them that's not the way Mommy does it."
Update on sheep mauled by New Police Dog - Wonder of wonders they are still alive! God must really be smiling on these two!
Monday, March 08 2010
Earlier this week I was talking with a friend of mine about the fact that I simply didn't have the time to keep up with Border Collie's herding lessons. It's almost two hours away and something always seems to gobble up whatever free time I have available. She suggested that I send Border Collie away for a month of training.
She assured me that this trainer was completely trustworthy and she'd feel confident sending one of her dogs to this woman. I was adamant. Sending Border Collie to "boarding school" wasn't gonna happen. Aside from the obvious fact that Border Collie is MY DOG and I cannot imagine sleeping at night without Border Collie at the foot of the bed, I also cannot imagine running the farm without Border Collie.
This morning was a perfect example of why I can't send Border Collie to school:
Border Collie and I are feeding the stock. I get absorbed in why Pregnant Goat About To Pop has not had her babies YET and leave the gate open. Both Porch Ponies sneak behind me and out of their paddock, through the goat paddock, and into the driveway paddock where they gallop around like mustangs, eat rye grass, and refuse to be coaxed back into their paddock.
After much cussing on my part, I order Border Collie to "Bring me those DAMNED HORSES!" Border Collie salutes and runs off. Evil Red Demon blows her off. Border Collie bites his heel and informs him that there is more to come if he does not get his little red arse in gear. He tries to kick her. She does Mohammed Ali "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee" move and he is greatly impressed. She then swings around and picks up St. Napolean who is easily impressed by a Border Collie who darts like a wasp. It takes her less than 60 seconds to intimidate and gather two evil ponies. I have been trying to catch them for ten minutes.
With ponies in their prison, Border Collie and I finish feeding the stock and then head to the vet's clinic. Phone rings. Look at number. That can't be good. "Your prize lamb is out and cannot figure out how to get back in the pasture."
My mind goes fuzzy. Goats get out. Sheep do NOT get out. How did this lamb get out? Good sense finally returns and reminds me that at the moment, the more serious problem is getting the lamb back into the pasture. I am twenty minutes away . . . and I have the Border Collie. Call Other Half and inform him that he needs to wake up, get some pants on, and go outside to get that lamb before some dog eats him. Other Half is a man of few words at that hour of the morning. He says a few choice cuss words and hangs up.
While paying bill at the vet clinic, phone rings again. Uh Oh! It is Other Half. He is screaming that ALL the sheep are out and he needs BORDER COLLIE NOW!!!! I assure him that I am on my way. While attempting to get one lamb back inside, ALL the sheep ran out. Apparently there was a great deal of cussing and the neighbors have learned some new words.
By the time Border Collie and I return home, Other Half has the sheep corralled in the Driveway paddock but they still need to be returned to their pasture. Border Collie hops out of the truck, neatly rounds up the sheep and marches them to their stall. It takes less than three minutes. Border Collie is quite delighted with herself . She has had a good day and it is only noon thirty.
Other Half and I eat dinner at a fancy steak restaurant before we head to the Livestock Show. (again . . . more cows . . . again) The Kids have given us a gift certificate to this restaurant. The food is fantastic, but so plentiful that I cannot possibly eat all of the 6 oz steak that I just purchased for $32. (egads!!!!) That's when I remember Top Hand. There is a bonus for being Top Hand at Failte Gate Farm. It's called filet mignon.
Can a farm run without a Border Collie?
I don't ever want to find out.
Saturday, March 06 2010
If you read yesterday's post LATE last night, you will certainly be wondering if our patients made it through the night. Yes, they did. These scraggly-looking, sorry purchases actually survived and bless their little sheepy hearts, if they make it through this ordeal, their hardiness alone is enough to keep them.
I'm not one to let an animal sufffer, but on the other hand, if you want to live, I will give you every opportunity to do so, and these two girls want to live. Thus, one of the stalls has been converted to a sheep hospital room. We are concerned that both are still dragging their right hind legs so we'll probably rig up some kind of cardboard/vet wrap splint today to keep them from walking on the top of their hooves. The vet suggested cardboard, so we'll give it a shot.
Speaking of vets, I met a writer that you simply HAVE to check out! His name is Dr. David Carlton and he is a large & small animal vet in the Dallas area. He has several books out about his adventures during a 20+ year career as a vet. His first book is already on CD and WE LOVE IT! We purchased the books and CDs on Tuesday and immediately popped a CD into the truck on the way home from the livestock show. The stories are riveting. They're short, read by the author, and will keep any animal lover enthralled. Check out his website at http://www.dallasdoc.net/ . I can attest to the fact that not only is his writing entertaining, he is as delightful in person as he appears in his books.
I found it ironic that just as we were gathering materials to stitch up sheep yesterday, the story on his CD was one where a pack of stray dogs raided the Ag-Barn sheep pasture and crying students were bringing him 26 bleeding sheep. While we were at the livestock show (again!) last night, we hunted him up to tell him how much we really enjoyed his books and CDs. Again, he was as polite and gracious a person as you'd ever want to meet. So I urge you, take a peek at his website. Order his books. (I believe Amazon.com carries them. ) You won't be disappointed.
And keeping with the spirit of sheep butchered by dogs, here is our baby Livestock Guardian Dog! One day she'll big enough to protect her little wooly buddies! Until then, it would behoove me to pay closer attention to where I put the New Police Dog!
Photographs: Yes, I did take some pictures of their injuries this morning. No, you don't want to see them. Ewwww . . . Gross!
Friday, March 05 2010
I've said it before and I'll say it again. A farm knows when you have some free time and will find some way to eat it up. Other Half and I are both on vacation. I actually had the gall last night to wonder out loud what our plans for today were. I will go on the record and say this was ALL MY FAULT. This morning New Police Dog got in the pasture with the new sheep. That was a Very Bad Thing. For all practical purposes, sheep are completely defenseless. Police dogs are not.
Other Half checked trailers in at the livestock show all last night. When he came home at 6:30 AM, I turned his police dog out in the yard with Blue Heeler and then we both went to bed. I woke up later to check on them. Police Dog was chewing on a deer antler outside the bedroom window. (I don't know where she found a deer antler, but it kept her happy and so I didn't question it.) I woke up later to Blue Heeler's furious barking. Police Dog was inside the isolation pasture with the three new sheep. It was ugly, Folks. It was ugly.
I spared you the photographs because frankly, I didn't think the sheep would survive. I was certain that two of them were goners. Large chunks of flesh were ripped from their hindquarters and both had right hind legs which just dangled. So with only three hours of sleep, Other Half helped me carry sheep back into the barn. The Porch Pony, St. Napolean, fussed and fretted over one of his sheep buddies who was gravely injured. When I found her, he had been hiding her behind him. Bless his little heart. He is only a Miniature Horse, but he has the heart of Clydesdale.
I was certain that two of the sheep would die of shock, (Thus, no pictures.) but our attempts to save them took up the better part of the day. First we gathered vet supplies. Then we called Friend who is Vet's Wife. Sewing up Sheep was definitely a Three Person Job. That's another thing about farms - they will suck up the free time of your friends too!
Good friends know this and so with good humor and a strong stomach, she joined us in Today's Farm Adventure. Other Half has stitched up cows, horses, and dogs, but he hadn't stitched up my sheep before and so there was a great deal of argument (discussion) about whether or not to use sutures or the new staple gun that he was just dying to try out. I voted for tried and true sutures. He wanted to play with his new staple gun. We called Vet for advice on the staple gun. Other Half was delighted to hear a vote for his new gun. (I was outvoted.) We reached a compromise though. He used sutures on part and stapled part. Vet's Wife and I held the sheep while he stitched and tried to repair the hamburger that used to be a hind leg. It was slow work. Soon we were all smeared with blood, betadine, and sheep poop.
I was still certain that the sheep would die. Other Half insisted that they would survive.
"They're tough," he said. (What Universe does he live in??)
"They're sheep," I pointed out. Sheep are born looking for a place to die. (Turning a police dog in with them tends to speed up the process though.)
So by the time Vet With Actual Diploma arrived, Cow Man with Vet Skills and Two Vet Wanna-Be Assistants had stitched up the two patients. Vet admired Other Half's work. Other Half preened. He was quite proud of his job and chided me for not taking pictures. (He was right! I should have taken pictures.) I explained that some Readers (most readers) probably didn't want to see photos of mangled sheep. He pointed out that he would liked to have had Before and After pictures of his handiwork. Touche. This was a good point.
Shortly after suturing up the sheep, Other Half informed me that we were going to the Livestock Show again this evening. Again??? OH Yess! The Kids were going and he had told them that we would be there. Again??? I hadn't done laundry. We had no clean jeans.
And that's how we both ended up at the Livestock show wearing jeans smeared with blood, betadine, and sheep shit. Par for the course when you have a farm. You know what? We fit in just fine.
When I returned home, I rushed to the barn to check on our patients. They are still alive. (So is the Police Dog.) Keep your fingers crossed and keep them in your prayers. (Police Dog too!)
Today I named her "Jamaica." (dreadlocks)
Today I named her "Roany."
Thursday, March 04 2010
Farms evolve. Sometimes it helps to look back from time to time to see how your farm evolved. Sometimes it doesn't. In fact, sometimes, it's downright scary. Those are the times when you calculate exactly how much money you shell out each month for feed, fencing, vet bills, and livestock. (Usually tax time!) After you have calculated the monetary expense, you then factor in the labor and time. Since most of us aren't full-time farmers (we would starve to death if we were!) you calculate your hourly wage at work versus how much your farm pays you. Eeek! At this point you wonder what people who live in subdivisions do with their time and money.
I mean really?!! Is there a reason to get up in the morning if you DON'T have screaming mouths to force you out of bed? What do they do with their money? I've calculated the figure, and if we didn't have goats, sheep, cattle, and the chickens we donate each year to coyotes, opossums, and raccoons, we'd be rich.
But lets get back to how farms evolve. First start with land. Land leads to horses. (naturally) Horses lead to fences. Fences lead to work. Clearing fence lines is hard work. Round-up is both bad for the environment and the pocketbook. That leads to goats. Goats are good for the environment, but bad for your mental health. Goats lead to muttering and cussing.
Enter man with cattle. Cow man understands ranching. Cow man leads to cattle, more dogs, more horses, and more land. Cow man leads to cow dogs. Goats lead to Border Collies. Border Collies lead to sheep. Sheep are much easier on fences. Sheep are as cute as goats but with less cussing. Dorper sheep do not have to be sheared and kinda look like goats at a distance.
Cow man actually gets use to sheep and no longer hides his head in shame when he has to admit that yes, he has sheep. Cow man has his first crop of lambs. Cow man announces (loudly) that he does NOT eat lamb. Cow man also refuses to allow the sale of lambs to anyone that he knows because he does not want to KNOW the person eating his cute little lambs. (As God is my witness, he said this!)
Cow man rules:
* It is NOT okay to serve goat on his plate in any form or fashion. The only creature God meant man to eat was the cow.
Sheep lead to Livestock Guardian Dog because sheep are helpless creatures who look cute and don't destroy fences. Because of this, you will throw all manner of money in their direction after the first lamb is born. Sheep lead to more sheep. You calculate that each ewe will have twins. You calculate that 50% of those will be female. Lambs are born. All are singles. All are male. THUS . . . you must BUY MORE SHEEP! You sell some goats. Instead of putting that money into savings or retirement, or whatever city people do with their money, you plan to BUY MORE SHEEP! You decide that your situation is hopeless because the man you plan to retire with also suggests that you use goat money to buy more sheep. (Unless one member of the family is of sound mind, there is no one actually piloting the ship, and you will both happily sail off the edge of the world together.)
And thus farms evolve. While city folk spend their free time going to dinner and the movies, hardworking country folk spend their time hauling hay, fixing fence, and admiring lambs built like brick shithouses that they will never eat.
Wednesday, March 03 2010
It's that time again! There are three major holiday seasons in Texas - Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Rodeo! Despite the fact that we will all whine and bemoan that each year the show gets more commercial and moves further away from its "Livestock show" roots, we'll all still knock the dust off the hats and head to town!
Since the Rodeo is ALL about education, pregnant farm animals are brought in from the local veterinary university. There, under the watchful eyes of their trained staff, and a half a million elementary school children, they will give birth. (Something tells me the cows would probably rather be outside in the cold pasture, but no one asked me!) Mothers and babies stay for the remainder of the livestock show in a "farm yard nursery." This popular exhibit hosts Jersey cows, sheep, and hogs.
I tell you all this to lead up to our Rodeo Quote of the Season:
As soon as we entered the exhibit hall last night, Other Half turned to me and said, (I kid you not!) "OH! Let's go see if any baby calves have been born yet!!!"
Note to new readers: This man has a whole damned pasture full of baby calves!!!! He DOES NOT need to drive to town to look at someone else's BABY COWS!!!!
But look he did. Like any city slicker, he oohed and ahhed over baby Jersey calves. Then he sat back and watched the yuppies ooh and ahh. He did resist the urge to point out that the little bull calf they were admiring was undoubtedly destined to be hamburger since it was a male. He also resisted the urge to point out that the birth weight of our lambs was much higher, but then our sheep are for meat and not wool, so I guess the skinny wool lamb has the last laugh.
There was so much more that I could have seen last night, but we got sidetracked. He heard an auctioneer.
To a rancher, the sound of an auctioneer is like announcing a shoe sale in a room full of women with new credit cards. With absolutely no warning, I found myself in the middle of a Simbrah auction. (But we don't raise Simbrah. Why are here?") But alas, he'd heard the call of the auctioneer. I knew that look on his face. He was on vacation. He was at the rodeo. He had Bonus Money in his pocket. That is a recipe for buying cattle. I looked at the bovine faces tied along the fence and tried to predict who was coming home with us. I know NOTHING about Simbrah cattle, but I KNOW how to pick a good cow. My criteria for cows goes like this - ARE THEY CALM?
That's about it. Does it look like something I want to live with? I don't care how pretty it is, if it leaps fences, tries to stomp dogs, or runs over people, then it needs to live in someone else's pasture. Other Half selects cows based on how much meat he thinks it will produce, ease of calving, whether or not she has nice teats, and . . . whether or not I declare she has a "sweet face."
A very nice looking heifer dragged a young man into the arena. ABSOLUTELY NOT! She was pretty, in a crazed Volkswagon kind of way. I watched her swish her tail and haul that big, corn-fed boy around. NO WAY, JOSE! Since her purchase price did not include Hank the Corn-Fed Cowboy to handle her big ass, I nixed her pretty quickly. Other Half wasn't discouraged. There were plenty of calm ones tied to the fence.
Finally I found one I liked. She was big. She was calm. She'd just had a baby two months ago. Hmmmmmm . . . Where was the baby? Other Half was so busy asking himself that question that a buyer from Mexico snapped up Big Mamma. That was okay with me. (He kicked himself the rest of the night.) I was getting bored quickly. Princess didn't come to the Rodeo to buy cows. Princess came to the Rodeo to shop! And look at GOATS! And look at SHEEP! And EAT!!! Princess did NOT WANT TO BUY MORE COWS!
So Princess and her camera wandered off in search of cuteness. Nothing quite screams "Yuppy Tourist" like a Canon hanging around your neck, but since I have nothing to prove to anyone, I happily embarked on my National Geographic tour of the Livestock Show. It didn't take me long to locate goats. Goats that belong to someone else are cute. Well, not this guy.
This moron kept backing up, charging his bucket, and backing up again, and charging his bucket again. While it was entertaining, it would definitely eliminate him from MY breeding program.
I kept searching. I was searching for cute, not stupid. Then I found it!
Look closely! Buried in that mound of cuteness is even more cuteness!!!
I think he might be a tiny Angora goat buried under those dairy goat kids. This little fellow is just Beyond Cute!
Other Half eventually caught up with me here. Most of the calves went to Mexico. None of the calves came to live with us. But the show is just getting geared up and Other Half will be there all week. There is no telling what he'll come home with. Last year we ended up with a Border Collie.
But this year . . . I got these really cool Border Collie socks!
(Almost, but not quite, as cute as an baby Angora goat!)
Tuesday, March 02 2010
Any idea what this is?
Briar stares at it suspiciously. She ain't sure what it is either.
Here's a better look.
A couple of months ago, I bought some new sheep. Through a set of unfortunate circumstances, my sheep died before their arrival and so we picked up these girls instead. Two of them have rugs - heavy rugs! The rugs are supposed to fall off this Spring. I sure hope so. If not, Other Half and I are going to learn to shear sheep.
At the moment, they're still in isolation. Thus far, they've been pretty easy to handle. That's a plus. Easy to handle is good.
Today is the first day of my wellness! Except for the fact that I still cough like a tuberculosis patient, I'm much, much better! I actually feel pretty good! Thank you for all the well wishes, e-hugs, and flu advice! The dogs are all kinds of excited. They got to go on a walk in the pasture for the first time in a LONG time!
Briar goes ZOOM ZOOM!
Zoom Briar ZOOM!
Briar goes SPLATT! (Blue Heelers are like that!)
Run Briar RUN!
Briar goes SPLATT!
Blue Heeler and Border Collie think this is a fun game. It won't be as much fun next year when Briar weighs 85 lbs and they're on the bottom!
Monday, March 01 2010
After the loss of Barn Cat this week, I was reminded to be thankful for all "the little people" around the barn. Several years ago I found myself with an abandoned litter of calico kittens. This evening I returned home to find the toilet paper shredded again.God Bless 'em! It reminded me of this essay which was written when they were kittens. It's been three years now, and someone is STILL "squeezing the Charmin!"
Okay... this could fit under the category of Too Much Information, but I imagine that anyone who has kittens in the house has experienced Kittens and The Bathroom!