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Farm Fresh Blog
Sunday, February 27 2011
I picked up the new ram this week. His name is "AL," and he's a registered white dorper. I LOVE the babies he puts on the ground.
While I was there, I couldn't resist this little girl, so she came home with me too.
I named her "Snip."
Briar met Snip yesterday. I was amazed at how quickly the dog singled out the one new sheep in her flock. She bounded through the pasture to introduce herself.
But she was just a wee too fast for young Snip.
Briar immediately checked herself, but first impressions are important and Snip had already decided this was one Big White Dawg that she didn't want to meet. Thus began the stalking. Like a stalker in the grocery store, Briar walked at a distance behind her new sheep.
Eventually she was satisfied that she'd gotten a good sniff of her new charge, so I put her in the ram pen to meet her other new responsibility.
Fortunately she had learned from her first experience and didn't barrel over there like a kindergartener at an ice cream party. Instead, she eased over to her new ram, like Joe Cool, and . . .
he ignored her.
So she was able to satisfy her curiosity pretty quickly, thus reinforcing the Prime Directive - "Thou shalt not scare the sheep."
Saturday, February 26 2011
tHiS wEEk wE weNt 2 tHa pAtRiK sHaNnaHan cLiniC.
wHiLe tHa bIg dAwGz werKd, i hAd 2 sIt oN tHa fEnce.
sOmeTImez iT wuz bOrIng bUt iT wuz beTTr thaN tHa crAte.
cEnts oTheR puPPees wEr werKing, mOm LeT mE werK 2!
mY pRaYerZ wEr fInaLLy aNsWrd!
pAtRiK dId tHa sTeeRin N mOm wAtcHd. hE tOLd mOm i wUz a nIcE pUp n sEd i wUz reDDy 4 LeSSoNz! tHe sHeeP gOddEz whO hAd tHa sHeeP sEd i coULd sTarT werKn 1 tIme a wEEk aFter LiLyz LeSSoNz!
tHanK eWe, LOrd!
Thursday, February 24 2011
They grow up so fast . . .
Lily has another herding clinic with Patrick Shannahan this week. Today I took Trace along with her JUST FOR SOCIALIZATION!
When Lily wasn't working Trace came out to watch the other dogs work. (as if he needed any help feeding his obsession.) This afternoon Patrick worked puppies.
"HEY! I'm a puppy!"
And as I watched him staring through the bars at puppies his age playing with sheep, I decided that maybe, just maybe, I could sacrifice one of Lily's spots tomorrow to let Trace work for the very first time in his little life. (Since Patrick will be at the helm, I can't screw him up!)
It should be an exciting day. . .
Wednesday, February 23 2011
Woman Logic 101 -
Woman sees hideously beautiful boots. (Ugly but beautiful in an Ed Hardy sort of way)
And THAT's how these Hideously Beautiful Boots (that will NEVER step in horse/cow/sheep poop) came to be in my closet!
Are they not delightfully ugly yet, adorable?
Other Half took one look at them and groaned. But since he's seen me linger over these boots MANY times before, he knew that he was powerless before the irresistible attraction of Hideously Beautiful Boots!
Monday, February 21 2011
After years of living together, Other Half and I finally decided to make it legal. (Now all the dogs will have the same last name!) This decision however, has spawned a great deal of controversy. We are, at heart, boring people. This is not the first time around for either of us, and well duh, we've been living together for years, so this isn't a big surprise to anyone either. Not much changes around here except a name tag on my work uniform.
We are quiet people. We are "just us and the preacher" kind of people. Our friends are not. Our friends are "rent a ballroom," "book the fairgrounds," "have a big shin-ding" kind of people. (some of them) And . . . we know A LOT of people.
So there's that - we're about to upset folks who're gearing up for a big party. Not only are we not real "party people," but do you know how many cattle panels and fence posts you could buy for the price of one hotel ballroom? (I'm just sayin'.)
Then there was the date - when do we both have a large block of time? We don't. We thought we'd found a week, but then we realized that I have a Death Investigators class, and Grandbaby #2 is due! Scratch going out of town then.
So I sat at work last week, pouring over the calendar, when it hit me. We aren't party people, but we are stock people. What's the one giant month-long party that hits this cow town every year? The Livestock Show & Rodeo!!! We generally take off a few days and spend marathon amounts of time up there anyway. In fact, it's one of our FAVORITE things to do!
So I got to figuring . . . Why, pray tell, do we have to go out of town when the fun is right here?!!
I found a weekend that we already had booked for the livestock show. Theoretically we could get hitched in a private morning ceremony, go to the sheepdog trial at noon, go home to feed the livestock, and return in the evening for the Cowboy Mounted Shooting! Our party-loving friends can meet us there at their convenience, and we can eat turkey legs, barbecue, and funnel cakes until we're all green! Sounded good to me! I whirled it past other Half and he allowed as how this was an EXCELLENT idea! (We did decide that we may have to bring our own wedding cake though!)
Yes, it's non-traditional, but so are we. It solves all the problems. We're never far from the farms. We can accomodate as many folks as the grandstand at the sheepdog trial will hold, the cost is minimal, and we're not far from the hospital if Daughter goes into labor!
Next problem - what to wear?
A wedding dress at a livestock show is out. Duh! Plus, I'm not paying that kind of money for a dress for one day. Been there, done that, and this time, I'm the one having to pay the bill . . . (I'm just sayin'.)
So I envisioned a really nice, long cowgirl skirt with a petticoat (that just so happens to be hanging in my closet right now.) Unfortunately Other Half nixed that.
"Do what? You want to get married in blue jeans?"
"Don't you want me to look nice?!!!!"
"You look fine in blue jeans." (Yeah, gotta love that man.)
So although it did not fit my mental picture of wedding attire, today we went shopping for the kind of outfit you could get hitched in, wear to a livestock show, go home and feed your own stock, and then return for evening festivities involving horses and handguns.
And he's right . . . somehow planning a wedding is a lot more fun when you cut out the expectations of others and just do what you want to do.
The Ring -
Note how it is flat so I can wear it at work under latex gloves and on the farm under leather gloves! Other Half takes ALL the credit for picking out this puppy!
And this country girl likes it a lot!
Friday, February 18 2011
Remember this set of twins?
For some reason, Briar is fascinated with them.
The blond girl . . .
. . . and the white boy
Maybe it's because they look different from the other lambs who are all black & white.
Or maybe . . . it's because
. . . they . . .
. . . bounce!
(scream at Briar)
And just like that - Bounce, Pounce, Scream! Back to Normal . . .
But that's why Briar isn't ready yet to stay with the lambs full time with no supervision. Some toys are just too tempting. And for Briar, it appears to be Malibu Barbie & Ken.
(I love the expression on that lamb's face as he looks at Briar. "What WAS your problem Big White Dog?")
Thursday, February 17 2011
Around this house, a stick is called a "Red Ryder BB gun." Now for those you, who like my mother, may not have seen the movie and are completely clueless as to why, let me hasten to explain. In the classic movie, "A Christmas Story," which plays 24 hours a day on Christmas Day, young Ralphie's heart's desire is a Red Ryder BB gun, but everyone is adamant that "you'll put your eye out with it," thus sparking his elaborate schemes to attain his cherished prize despite their warnings.
That's the way Lily is with sticks. She obsesses about sticks as Ralphie obsessed on that BB gun.
Any time we go for a walk, she scours the path, searching for a Red Ryder BB gun.
She has been known to bring me the withered stalks of sunflower plants, large pieces of hay, small boards, and anything else that remotely resembles a "stick" in her quest for the perfect Red Ryder BB gun and a game of fetch.
But I submit these photos:
State's Exhibit 1
State's Exhibit 2
State's Exhibit 3
Not only is young Ralphie in danger of putting her own eye out with the Red Ryder Rider BB gun, but she is also in danger of putting her brother's eye out too . . .
Thus, it is the finding of this court that there is still a "no sticks" rule to be employed when walking multiple dogs.
To those of you with dogs that don't fetch, I say, "take heart!" Lily had absolutely no interest in fetching either when she was Trace's age. I didn't make a big deal about. She watched other dogs play fetch and eventually, being the jealous little attention-hogging beast that she is, decided that she wanted to play too. Since then, it has become an obsession.
Wednesday, February 16 2011
While Cowboy did not sign up to fight little bears, (see: Goldilocks) there is someone in the family who did.
Ranger, the Blue Heeler, signed up to fight raccoons ("little bears"), opossums, coyotes, and stray dogs,
discourage burglars and truck thieves,
chase the mailman and the garbage man,
sneak behind friends and neighbors and bite them in the butt,
mindlessly bark at ponies, horses, and sheep,
run cattle past open gates,
snuggle in bed,
and smile all the way to his toes when you look at him . . .
"Now, where are those little bears?"
Tuesday, February 15 2011
We have two houses - the cow farm and the sheep farm. We generally stay at the sheep farm during the week and stay at the cow farm on the weekend. (Now this is important, so keep up here!)
The Master Bedroom at the Cow House opens up to a Sun Room/Game Room that has a sliding glass door which faces the cow pasture. We rarely use this door. In fact, we rarely use this room. It has become a junk room containing a game pool table, an old recliner, leather stuff, old boots, etc. It is, in essence, a Mud/Muck Room.
Monday Morning, around 4:30 AM, I woke up for a "call of nature" run. Lily, the Border Collie, follows me everywhere, so she went with me. We returned a minute later to find the door to the Muck Room standing wide open. ????
I had apparently just missed the excitement. It went something like this:
Other Half also feels the "call of nature." Since Lily and I are in the bathroom, he and Cowboy head for the Mens Room (the Great Outdoors). He opens the bedroom door to walk through the Muck Room. Naturally, he does not turn on the light. After all, if you plan on peeing off the porch, you don't want to illuminate yourself. (it's one of the things that separates men from beasts) Fortunately he put his glasses on first . . . because there he was . . .
. . .a naked man . . .
. . . staring . . .
. . . at a raccoon sleeping in the recliner.
Now being a Naked Man puts one at a distinct disadvantage. Like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, our raccoon realizes he is trespassing, so up in a flash, he races across the room, and slides through a hole beside the door.
And just like that, he is gone, leaving a Naked Man and a puzzled Border Collie in his wake.
Lily and I return to the bedroom to find the two of them, staring into the darkness.
"What are you doing?" I ask.
And so he relays this incredible tale of a rather brave Goldilocks Raccoon.
"So what did Cowboy do?"
"Nothing. He just stood behind me."
Cowboy said to me, "I didn't sign up to fight any little bears."
And there it was. With the police dog in her kennel beside the bed, and Blue Heeler at the other house, a raccoon had riggled into our home, walked across the room, climbed into the recliner, and fell asleep.
When we reported this to Son the next morning, he summed it up perfectly,
"Can you blame him?"
No, but I certainly admire his pluck.
"I didn't sign up to fight little bears!"
Monday, February 14 2011
It was a good day to die. The temperatures are mild again. The sun smiled on us. Alice started her day, like every day, with a morning walk in the pasture. She went over to Grandma's house for fresh eggs.
She shuffled around the sheep.
Then she ate a hearty breakfast and went back to sleep. She woke in the middle of the day and went outside to lay in the sun. Before I took Trace to his puppy agility class, I made sure she was back in the house. She was. She was sleeping in my bedroom. Farting. Bloodhound puppies smell like Fritos corn chips. On a good day, adult Bloodhounds have a rank, hound smell. Bathe them in rose water and they smell like wet Bloodhounds. An ancient Bloodhound with skin problems and oozing tumors smells like a decomposing body. That's what Alice smelled like as she happily lay holed up in the Blue Heeler's kennel . . . farting. I'm sure Blue Heeler didn't appreciate Alice stinking up his kennel, but he would never say anything to evict her. No one argued with Alice. She came. She went. She did her own thing. No one questioned it.
If she wanted your kennel, you left it. If you didn't, she would just walk in there with you. She was Pig Pen in the Charlie Brown cartoons - a funky haze followed her everywhere. Because no one wanted to be in a confined kennel with a Funky Bloodhound, the rightful owner never failed to vacate and let Alice have Squatter's Rights until she moved on someplace else. So I left her in Blue Heeler's Kennel.
I returned to find her in my office - on her own dog bed. She seemed fine. We left and went to dinner. When we got home I went to the barn and fed the livestock while Other Half and Son fed the dogs. When I returned from the barn, Other Half informed me that Alice was dying.
I was confused. I argued with him. No, Alice was fine. I just left her a couple of hours ago and she was fine. She ate her eggs. She putzed around the pasture. She had a good day. Alice was fine.
No. Alice is dying.
So I went to see for myself. He was right. He had found her on the couch, where she had thrown up watery foam. When he called her for dinner, she moved to her dog bed in my office. She had thrown up white foam all over the office and her bed. She wouldn't eat. I put a hand on her tummy. I could hear her gut. I could feel the motion of something, be it gas or blood, oozing through her. This was so very bad. She was in pain. It was time.
So Dear Friend and Vet Husband rushed over with drugs. He sedated Alice to help with the pain until he could get to the clinic and back with the drug he needed. While he was gone, Other Half and Son dug a hole. Dear Friend and I sat with Alice. And then the most amazing thing happened . . .
Dear Friend announced that she smelled lavender. I informed her that all I could smell was rank bloodhound funk. She insisted that she smelled lavender. I insisted that there was no lavender in the office or the bathroom across the hall.
And then . . . I smelled it . . .
She was right. I whiffed it too! Here and there, hints of lavender wafted through the room. How could that be? I looked down at the old dog, sedated and dying, and the most bizarre thought popped in my head. Perhaps, just perhaps, the angels that God sends for good little Bloodhound souls, smell of lavender. Lavender Bloodhound Angels.
I have no idea where the lavender came from. We both smelled it. I checked that room again this morning. There is no lavender potpourri, no lavender candles, nothing. Alice is gone now. And so are the whiffs of lavender. But wouldn't it be fitting? I know that I for one, will never think of lavender the same way again. And I'll plant some lavender on Alice's grave, and always remember the Lavender Bloodhound Angels that came for Alice last night.
Kona passed away June 2010.
Alice passed away February 2011.
May they run through the lavender fields of Heaven together today.
Sunday, February 13 2011
CeeCee asked for an update on little Trace, so here it is!
Trace is 100% Border Collie puppy!
Yes, he does still sneak out to get to livestock every chance he gets. (but I've plugged the holes now, so he only gets out when he slips through the gate with me. DUH!!!!) Yes, he is still adorable and thus forgiven when you finally get your hands on the little beast. He is scheduled for his first puppy class this afternoon so he'll get a chance to get out and be with other puppies. (I expect him to be a raging maniac . . .)
. . . but that's no big deal. He's clever and should soon settle down. It's a baby agility class. I won't be trialing him in agility, but he does need the socialization with strangers and strange dogs. (He should be used to dealing with "strange" dogs by now.)
Overall, Trace is shaping up to be a really nice dog. It looks like he will have Lily's talent (perhaps more) without being as handler-sensitive as she is. But he is a loooong way from doing any real work because at the moment, Trace is all about Trace.
And that's not a bad thing. He is still a baby. On the 12th he turned 6 months old. We're confident that he and Lily will grow to be a great working team.
Friday, February 11 2011
See this guy? He was just a few days old here.
Here he is at 5 days old.
Here he is at 5 months.
Can't beat growth like that! I show you these to explain my actions this morning. . .
Ya see . . . (Here's the story I told Other Half . . . )
Ya see . . . I was on the phone this morning, arranging details for a herding clinic, when the organizer just happened to drop the information that she was getting a new ram because she's had her other ram for 4 years already. (Time for new blood.) I just so happen to really like her former ram. He is the sire of the above young fella. Everything that he puts on the ground is, pardon my French, "built like a brick shithouse."
So I asked her how much she wanted for him. And just like that . . .
. . . I bought him. He's 4 years old and registered. He produces NICE babies. And as a plus, he isn't a butthead yet. So that's how things just happen. Sometimes, you just fall into buying another mouth to feed when you're calling about what kind of dish you can bring to a potluck . . .
Other Half took the news pretty well.
Saturday, February 05 2011
Guess who earned her Puppy Chow last night?
Briar works the Night Shift. When the rest of the dogs are snug and warm in the house, Polar Dog is at work. At 5:30 am this morning, Polar Dog announced there was an intruder in G'Ma's yard trying to get into the chicken coops. Her barking woke me and I let the rest of the pack out. With canine back-up, Briar climbed the fence and headed to the chicken coops. Blue Heeler, The Black Wolf, and Border Collie raced right behind her. The suspect (s) apparently ran underneath G'Ma's deck and got away. (short little buggers! probably raccoon or oppossum)
I returned to bed with the rest of the pack and Briar resumed her patrols in my yard. When the sun came up, I looked out to find that instead of sleeping on the hay in my barn, Briar had climbed the fence again and like a Sphinx on guard, was on the icy deck between the chicken coops.
The Boogey Beast did not come back for chicken dinner last night.
Good Dog, Briar!
Thursday, February 03 2011
I have a much better understanding of that phrase now. Guess what happens when you don't leave the faucets dripping . . .
. . . the well freezes. Pipes freeze. I get an education in plumbing.
Other Half and I did a great deal of shouting and pointing fingers at each other yesterday. A good bit of the morning was spent with a hair dryer under a horse blanket trying to thaw out the well. God smiled on our efforts (and probably laughed too.) and blessed us with running water once again. Mom's pier and beam house is still a problem because the pipes run underneath the house and APPARENTLY those suckers aren't insulated well enough for 24 degree temperatures. But eventually we got water running in her house again too. The Cow House is okay though. Evidently Son has a better understanding of "LEAVE THE FAUCETS DRIPPING" than I do.
The temperatures are a bit higher today, but they are calling for freezing rain and snow this afternoon. Eegaads! We need to shuffle animals. Haul more hay. Break the ice in the tanks. Haul water to the barn. Buy another ton of cow feed. (and unload it!)
It looks like it's going to be a long day.
Here is a list of things I'm thankful for:
Thank you, Lord, for running water.
"I might be late. I might not even make it in" and then says, "Take the day off and do what you need to do."
Now at this point, I know my Northern neighbors are laughing. But HEY! It doesn't get this cold in South Texas! We don't know how to handle it here! There are rolling blackouts over the whole state! Perhaps I should have noticed when the horses began to look like caterpillars . . .
Yep, maybe I should have noticed that,
. . . because this is probably what they will look like tomorrow. . .
Tuesday, February 01 2011
Briar's first lambing season . . .
She is fascinated by the "little people" in her flock.
She tries to convince the Christmas Day lamb (Holly) to play with her dead mole.
Briar is quite taken with this blond-headed lamb. When the lamb has had enough "love" she gets up and walks away. Fortunately Briar allows her to captive to leave, unlike her behavior with George the chicken.
Our Giant Puppy is finally growing up. I still don't trust her completely with the lambs because she is big and they are small. But next year . . . maybe . . .
To read more about Briar & George: "I will name him George"