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Wednesday, March 28 2012


Terri's Pal asked if managing the dogs was more trouble than managing the livestock.  YES!  That's a BIG FAT YES!!

This morning:

Cowboy is shuffled inside and Ranger is shuffled outside. They cannot be together because they fight. (Grrrr. . . I WARNED Other Half about bringing home Cowboy, but he fell in love with the dog and still adores him. Ranger, however, does not. Cowboy taunts Ranger in an Eddie Haskell manner. It can get ugly, so we keep them apart.)

With Cowboy secure in the house, put Briar in cattle trailer so she doesn't eat Oli. She doesn't like Oli. Something in Briar's genes tell her that Oli is not to be trusted with sheep. Ya think?


Start Mule. Trace, Lily, and Ranger play Three Stooges to get in front seat. Lily wins. Ranger gets in back. Trace runs along beside. Dillon crams a tennis ball in his mouth and trots along. Ice maintains a heel position as she trots along. Oli madly circles while barking like a crazy person and occasionally darts in and attempts to bite tires.

I shout "Don't bite the tires!"

Lily shouts "Don't bite the tires!" 

Ranger falls out. He then circles with Oli and prevents her from biting the tires.

When Oli is about to pass out from heat stroke, put her in kennel run with water. Put Trace in another kennel run beside her. Put Dillon and Ranger in another run. Put Ice in house with Cowboy. Take Lily to go feed livestock.

     Feed horses and lock them in barn. Move sheep. Move goats. Feed cattle. Horse flooded the pasture with float valve again last night! (They say Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. Why, oh why did I turn the water back on to the pasture before I went to work yesterday?)

Vow to keep water turned off while horses are loose. Fill up tanks. Play fetch with Lily. Bring Ranger and Dillon into pasture. They all swim in pond while water tanks are filling. Pond is nasty. Dogs all smell like a swamp, but are happy.

Return to house, hose dogs down and stuff them in cattle trailer. 

    Take Briar and Ice for a walk in pasture to turn off water to tanks. Note that Lily has lost ALL 3 of her dog tags beside pond. Thank God they are on ground and not lost in water.

     Turn horses out to new pasture. Sheep are now in yard, happily mowing. Goats are trimming trees in pasture. Cows see horses in good-grass pasture and start to bellow. Promise them that I will move them in there this afternoon.  No more problems from livestock. All are happy.


     Ice comes in house. Briar joins her sheep. Dillon, Lily and Ranger scream in cattle trailer to remind me they are wet, covered in wood shavings, and now wish to come in the house. Oli is spinning circles in her kennel run again. She has gotten her second wind. Trace is racing back and forth in his kennel run while watching Sheep TV in the yard.

 God love him, but Trace is one step behind Oli in the "So-Obsessed-He's-Lost-His-Marbles" department.

     In 4 hours, this routine must be repeated before I leave for work. Return Sheep and Goats to their paddock. Move Horses. Move Cattle. Drive around in Mule to exercise dogs.  Bring dogs into air conditioning to cool off. Feed them. Put them in kennel runs/or cattle trailer/or yard. Leave for work. Do an 8-14 hour shift. Come home and repeat.

Other Half is sleeping a nice hotel room with no dog hair in the bed. Now I ask you - is this fair?




Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:55 am   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Friday, March 23 2012

Because of the hog problem on the ranch, it has become necessary to expose certain members of the family to gunfire lest I have to shoot at a hog and find myself with three scared dogs racing off into the forest.

So Other Half and I loaded up the mule with dogs and a couple of rifles and headed to the creek. The deep sandy banks provide a safe place to shoot.

Plan:  Shoot rifle. Observe dogs. Reinforce good behavior.

Execution of Plan:

Remind dogs they need to stay in mule. Walk to bank. Fire shot.


Lily starts wildly barking. 

Dillon is quietly stimulated but clearly thrilled.

Trace - "WTF!" 

It's hard to tell if Trace is frightened of gunfire, or Lily's psychotic behavior.

Observe dogs closely while Other Half shoots at a distance. Same result. Praise dogs for staying in mule. Shoot again. Same result. Praise dogs for staying in mule. Note Trace's growing anxiety. Stop exercise for a game of fetch.

See? Endure the couple of shots, and then we'll play a rompin' good game of fetch!

Lily is almost intoxicated. Gunfire has overstimulated her. Dillon is giddy. Something in his genes appears to have kicked in.  Trace is relieved.

Am somewhat assured that in Real Case Scenario the dogs won't bolt and run into the forest at the sound of gunfire.

Next Day: Real Case Scenario

Other Half escorts us on Morning Walk. He is concerned about hogs. He is armed. I am armed. Dogs are unarmed. (Except for Lily who is always armed with a quick wit.)  Because Other Half wishes to creep up on corn feeder, he splits from road and goes around pond to get to back side of feeder. Dogs and I continue our merry way. We are not quiet.  Other Half radios that turkeys are headed our way.  Sure enough, two nice fat turkeys pop out of forest, see us, and happily fly away. Cool.  We radio back. We are not quiet. Dogs are zoom zooming in pasture behind pond. Other Half exits forest and joins us. We chit chat. We are not quiet.

Happen to glance over shoulder and see eight large piglets crossing back of pasture - WHERE WE JUST CAME FROM! WTF!! 

I call dogs. Thankfully all three come bouncing over. Other Half takes the long shot.  BOOM!

Trace hits the deck.  "HOLY CRAP!" 

Trace zooms to my side. Lily begins to wildly bark. Dillon bounces TOWARD THE GUNFIRE!


He arrives at Other Half's side. Pigs are gone. Dillon stares with excitement. Something has awakened in his seven month old brain.

Pat Trace and quickly grab up a stick. (If you survive the Boom, we will play fetch.)  We play fetch while Other Half keeps an eye out for more hogs. Once more, Lily is intoxicated with power. Dillon is assured that gunfire equals the coolest game in the world, and Trace is satisfied that the world has not ended.

Walk to other end of field. No dead pig. We won't discuss who missed that shot. In his defense, it was a long shot and they were moving quickly. Son however, will not be as gracious as me. He will give his father much grief about missed shot.

I am just happy that our practice the day before paid off. Clearly Trace could become really gunshy if we don't play our cards right. Clearly Dillon is not. Clearly Lily is a psycho,

but then, we already knew that.  And we love her anyway!

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 21 2012



I'm not a Gun person. I have guns. I believe in having guns. I believe in the right to bear arms. I believe in the right to arm bears. (grin) I believe a gun is a tool, like a hammer or a pocket knife. It is neither inherently good or bad. It simply is. I believe in pot hunting. If you're hungry, it's hunting season. If you've got three kids to feed, it's hunting season. That said, I also believe if you kill it, you damned well better eat it. Unless it's a personal threat to you or your livestock (including dogs) I don't believe in shooting it.

I like small shotguns for snakes, and a small .22 rifle for varmits (coyotes), but I've never had much use for big rifles. The men in my life have them. They need to reach out and knock down big things, like hogs and deer, and in Other Half's case, man.  I don't really need that kind of fire power, and am not enamored with the idea of possessing that kind of fire power just to say I have it.

Some people love guns. Other Half loves gun. To him, guns are currency. He sells guns to buy more guns. Although he has a few personal favorites, most guns in his collection have a price. Son is the same way. When the Zombie Wars come, my warriors will be prepared.

For me, guns are a personal thing. My duty weapon is a Smith & Wesson 40 caliber. It's nothing fancy but I like it. Most folks have switched to Glocks or Sigs or anything but a Smith, but that gun has saved my butt countless times, and I appreciate that, so I won't switch to something else just because my gun is out of fashion now. It has never jammed on me. It has never had an accidental misfire. It's a steady and reliable gun. When my work mostly involved running felony warrants and narcotics, that gun was pointed in earnest at someone EVERY night. It was the reason I didn't leave work in a body bag. I greatly appreciate that.  I trust the gun. It may be just a tool, but I trust that it will work. I've handled it long enough that it's a part of my muscle memory. I don't have to think about how to use it.

Unlike Other Half, I don't buy and sell guns that I like. I feel that to be truly proficient with a gun, it should be an extension of your arm, and to have that, you've got to carry it a lot, and use it a lot. The gun must be a part of your muscle memory.

I tell you all this to answer the question as to why buy a gun I could borrow from my husband - because I want it to be MINE. I could have borrowed it, (I prefer the word "steal"), but I would rather own the gun outright.  After several hog sightings on the ranch, it's apparent that we have quite a bold wild hog population.

I've sighted two large sows with eight piglets twice, and we have numerous pictures of them on the game cameras. A sow with piglets is a dangerous creature.

My handguns cannot bring down one of these sows. I now need a rifle, and I want it to be MY rifle, not something he will sell with a promise to loan me something else. I want MY OWN GUN!

The AR-15 has a stock that adjusts for my arm length. It's light, accurate, and easy to carry. It doesn't have much kick. Once I decided I needed one, it was just a matter of getting it, but they aren't cheap, and I didn't want to plunk down the cash. He was gonna spend the $1300 on the blind and feeders anyway, and I was gonna spend the $1300 on a good AR-15. This was a solution we could both be happy with, and it saved us $1300.

Look closely at the tusks on this sow. That's why I need the AR-15.  Country men love to tell tales of how brave their dogs are when tackling hogs.  I listen politely as they recount the bravery of Brutus the Wonderdog, then I ask them what became of Wonder Brutus.

"Oh well, a hog finally got 'im. But we got that hog!"

Yeah. The long and short of the story is always, "Some hog killed the brave dog, but the dog didn't die of his injuries until after we killed the hog."

Alrightie then. I plan for my version of that story to go like this:

This little piggie went in the freezer.

And this little doggie rode home in the mule.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:48 am   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 20 2012


In any relationship, there must be give and take. Most of the time this is done to keep the peace and make life simpler . . . other times, it's a pure business transaction. Such was the case this weekend.

To get to the main gate of the new ranch, you must go through two gates and a cattle guard. People don't just casually show up there, so imagine our surprise when we return from a visit to the neighbor's place to find a pickup truck parked outside our main gate and the combination lock un-done.

Four-wheeler tracks lead from the truck into our property. Since I had locked the gate when we left, this does not bode well . . . for the person or persons poaching on our property.

The hinky part is the fact that they had the lock combination. How odd. Perhaps someone we know? But everyone we know with the combination ALSO has our cell phone number! And they know we carry guns and have a pack of hounds. Escape is futile. (grin)

On the off chance the trespassers were the deer hunters who had left feeders and a blind on the property, we drive to the blind. Voila! Friendly deerhunters are finally taking the stuff they left three months ago. They wish we had arrived an hour earlier before they disassembled feeder and blind. They had wanted to sell us the stuff to avoid the time and effort of recovering it, but didn't have our number. How odd. Other Half had wanted to buy it, but didn't have their number. What good fortune for both sets of men! They agree on a figure of $1300 for the purchase of feeders and blind.

Men began to set them up again.  I sit in the mule contemplating this business transaction. Realize that Other Half plans to use the RANCH account checkbook to purchase items for hunting when I, myself, don't really give a darn about hunting. $1300!  THIRTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS! WTF!!!

Very Astute Husband notes my change in mood. As he and men put up VERY EXPENSIVE ITEMS FOR MURDERING INNOCENT ANIMALS, I contemplate the purchase and decide then and there that at this point, if I wish to buy $1300 worth of lavender plants to dot the roadways of the ranch, Other Half has absolutely NO LEG to stand on in objection.

In fact, I could purchase $1300 worth of damned near anything that he didn't want, and he couldn't say anything about it. Mood is improving slightly. (Except for the fact that I cannot think of anything I want to spend that much money on.)

Decide that watching men work is not my idea of fun. Announce to Other Half that the dogs and I will drive up to Moss Bluff to check some rosemary I planted last month. He reminds me to take a rifle in case we run into wild hogs. (very dangerous creatures- especially to dogs) Offers to give me his bolt action something or other. I decline.

Unsaid:  I am a handgun person. In order to take a rifle to Moss Bluff I must go back to camp and get one of his precious AR-15s and load it. I have unloaded many AR-15s at murder scenes, but have never loaded one. He has never given me a lesson on how to use this beast, but I figure that loading one must be the same as unloading one - just backwards. 

Assure him that we will be fine. He gives me The Look.

The Look says, "I won't 'front' you in front of total strangers, but can you load a strange weapon and use it to protect yourself and the dogs from wild hogs?"

I assure him that Lily and I have it under control. He nods. Clearly he has his doubts. I drive off with renewed determination. Go back to camp. Find gun. That's a start. Find magazine. Halfway there. Pop magazine into gun. Almost done. Hmmmm. . . bullet should be in chamber. Check that safety is on. Point gun at mattress in case there is a boom! Rack gun. Hear bullet slide into place. Double-check that safety is on. Connect sling. Okay! Gun has bullets. Bullet in chamber. Safety on. We're in business! Head to Moss Bluff.

Woo hoo! Happy with gun. Bounce down path, happy that if we encounter hogs we now have the firepower to deal with them. Announce to Lily that we're stealing Daddy's gun. Lily allows as how that is a good idea.

Arrive at the Bluff and check rosemary. Lookin' good! (i.e. Not dead yet!) No hogs. Good. Didn't really want to deal with three dogs and a herd of Ole-Yeller-Killin' Wild Pigs. Want to shoot New-Gun-That-I-Have-Just-Decided-To-Steal-From-Husband. Opt against it since the sound of a rifle shot will cause him to worry. Instead the dogs and I return to Working Men. 

Men share a beer with Other Half and then leave with their money. I then inform Other Half of the current power shift. He reluctantly agrees. Clearly he has been ruminating on this fact too. He avoids subject by inquiring about any problems loading AR-15.

"Of course not! I've unloaded bunches of these things. Just do the same thing, but do it backwards!"

He nods. He hasn't thought of that.  Smile smugly. Chock one up for Girl Power! Inform him that now I wish to shoot gun and have decided to steal said weapon from him. His mind leaps to the obvious conclusion. I hear it clear into place like the bolt of a rifle.

"YES!!!  I will trade her my gun (that she would have taken anyway!) for the $1300 of hunting things she didn't want!"

He suggests trade of gun to balance purchase of hunting things. (that he would have purchased anyway!)

I make a show about weighing it. Reluctantly agree. He is happy and quite relieved that we didn't have to spend $1300 on some frivolous woman thing. I am happy that I got a gun I wanted. Decide now is a good time to press my luck. Tell him I will only agree to trade if he puts fancy laser sight (that Son told me about) on said gun. Where red dot is - bullet goes. Sounds like a nice toy to me. He agrees. What man wouldn't? In his mind he just saved himself $1300. In my mind, I get a tricked out gun in exchange for something he would have purchased anyway.

As we drive off to shoot my new gun, I ruffle Lily's ears. Soul Sister smiles and assures me that getting a rifle to protect her from hogs was a good trade.



Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  7 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 15 2012

   This creature has caused a great deal of trouble recently.  It would appear that Montoya has discovered the red bobber of the float valve in the pasture and has pulled the float valve off the trough. This has resulted in a flooded pasture, (not once, but TWICE), a dangerously overheated well motor, and an enraged husband.

Please keep in mind that all this water is in ADDITION to the 4 inches of rain we received last week.  Yeah, the calves are gonna need arm floaties if this continues.

I have had this horse since he was a baby. Montoya is easily bored and clever - a great combination in a trick horse, but a dangerous combination in the average pasture beast. When he was a weanling, I taught him quite a few tricks both as entertainment, and a way for us to bond before he was old enough to ride.  This begs a question. Which came first? A clever beast? Or teaching a clever beast problem-solving?

Montoya's favorite, his DEFAULT trick, is a modified bow. This is his "go-to" trick, the one he loves to perform and is his equine version of saying "please."  When he wants something, he bows. When he was little, I would bow to him, he would bow to me, and then I'd feed him. A monster is born.

Soon he was bowing whenever he wanted to ask me for a treat. He took this to an absurd extreme one day in the summer of 2008. I'll share this with you so you can understand why bobbing for apples with a float valve is simply par for the course with this animal:


Montoya has developed a nasty habit of raiding the feed bin.  Grain is stored in a chest freezer inside the feed room. Clever Beast has managed to cram his fat ass into the room and use his lips to open the chest freezer. Multiple attempts to block his entrance into the feed room have failed. A stall-barrier cable stretched across the doorway has proved futile. He merely bumped it gently long enough that he bent the bolts and worked them out, thus rewarding his belief that if one works at a puzzle long enough, the secret will be revealed. 

Since attempts to keep him out of the room have failed, I will try to keep him out of the
freezer by securing it with a bungie cord. The cord will stretch enough to barely allow the freezer to open, but will slam it back in place immediately.  Test run works perfectly.

Release Clever Beast. Go hide and observe Eistein at work.

Clever Beast makes a bee-line to feedroom and using a shoe horn, crams his ample backside into tiny room. Makes a three-point turn to set himself up in front of freezer feed bin. Reaches for freezer and opens lid with his lips. Bungee cord slams it back in place. Note confusion on Einstein's face.  Stifle Mad Scientist laugh and observe. Clever Beast lifts lid again. Lid slams back in place - again. Einstein is annoyed. Begins to lift lid in rhythm but cannot get his head underneath it before bungee cord slams it back into place.  Note that he has a greater attention span than the average 12 year old child as he tries repeated variations of the lift.  Resist urge to laugh like a Mad Scientist.

Clever Beast is clearly beside himself with frustration. Finally backs up and BOWS to the freezer. In mid-bow, he catches himself and bolts upright.  Yes, he is clever enough to realize he was about to bow to an inanimate object and abandoned it. Can no longer contain laughter.  He sees me outside feed room and after much manuevering on his part, exits room with outstretched lips, "Give us a kiss, Mommy!"

Such is life with a clever horse.  Other Half says he is Trouble and wants me to sell him. From his point of view the horse is a $7000 Pasture Flooder/Well-Breaker. From my point of view, the horse is an 1100 pound Border Collie. 


 A Border Collie . . .

. . . with big lips.


Update:  Other Half just received a call at work from the rancher next door. He has had to crawl over the fence and save us yet again, for while OH and I are at work, Montoya has just figured out how to turn on the water spigot.  Oh dear!  Other Half is beside himself with frustration. I am equally annoyed, but am also somewhat intrigued by his clever games. Apparently the Word For The Day is "WATER."


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 02:53 pm   |  Permalink   |  6 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 12 2012



"Stupid White Dawg is chasin' away the customers."


Lily is right. Briar is chasing away the customers.

     "Move along!

"Not for sale!" 


Unlike the other farm, the Cow House is not at the end of a dead-end street, thus the "public" has access to Briar's sheep.  Since the lambs have gotten big, there is a lot more interest in them. I often see pickup trucks pausing near the front to examine the sheep now. Unfortunately Briar missed the memo that lambs are for sale.

  "Go away! Not for sale!"


Yesterday she sat in the rain by the front gate after a blue truck perused her sheep for quite a while. I was just getting ready to walk out there when he slowly drove away. Briar spent the next half hour sitting in the rain, daring him to come back.

 This is Bronco Billy. At least that's what I'm calling him at the moment. He is a Boer/Spanish cross and is our ticket to milk from the dairy goats this season.  This is a popular cross around here and since I cannot keep the babies, I need to raise something that is popular for re-sale value.  I fear this will not sit well with Briar, since the trucks that linger near the front fence are not looking for pets.

 "Goats are not for sale either! And don't even CONSIDER coming back when the sun goes down!"


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 08:27 am   |  Permalink   |  10 Comments  |  Email
Sunday, March 11 2012


My yard is flooded again. This morning it has rained harder than a cow pissin' on a flat rock. The weatherman insists that we're still in a drought. He has clearly not talked to my goats. Goats don't like water. Few things are more pitiful than a goat standing on a bucket because she doesn't want to get her feet wet.

 "I need rubber boots!"

Even as the Powers That Be insist we are still in a drought, it continues to rain, and once again, the difference between city people and country folk emerges. City people arrive at the office in clean clothes, with clean shoes.

City people are inconvenienced by rain. They have to carry umbrellas. They have to drive a little slower on the freeway. They have to wait until it quits raining to get their cars detailed. For the most part though, their lives don't change much.

Now let's look at country people. Country people get wet on the way to their car because any building that 'might' be used as a garage is pressed into service as a barn for animals or hay, thus, they must park in their unpaved driveway. There is no sidewalk leading to the driveway since the yard is also used as a pasture. After all, why waste decent pasture with a sidewalk?

Thus, country people must walk in the rain to their cars. Rain equals mud, ergo, their shoes/boots get muddy on the way to the car.

City people climb in the car, drive out the garage and down the street toward their office. They "might" get their arms wet checking the mail in the mailbox.

Country people must open the main gate first. This means climbing out of the car, into the rain, sloshing through the mud, opening the gate, climbing back into the car, watching for sheep or goats who are attempting to make a jailbreak, then gunning the engine to drive through gate, hopping out of car and rushing to close gate before the livestock gets out.

This situation improves if your Livestock Guardian Dog moves stock away from the gate as mine has taught herself to do.  Woo hooooo! Good Dog, Briar!

Pet wet dog on the head to reward her for her efforts. She rewards you with a large muddy pawprint on your thigh and wet white hairs pressed into navy blue pants. Such is life.

Lock gate and drive to work. Arrive at office building with wet hair plastered to head. Pull it up in a pony tail and try to pass it off as that "just stepped out of the shower" look.

Ride elevator up with civilized people and note that city people are wearing pristine white tennis shoes, polished flats, silk, pressed, dryclean clothing, and have slightly frizzy hair. They politely move away from Wet Country Person who steps into elevator.

Stare at elevator lights pinging up floors while are painfully aware that you have wet hair, and are slightly dripping onto polished floor. Smell a wet dog. Wonder if anyone else in the elevator has a wet dog. Perhaps you can pretend it's someone else. Wonder if the dog hair on your pants gives you away. If they do not, the giant muddy pawprint on your thigh probably does. Stare down at muddy boots. Perhaps if you stare at the lighted buttons you can will the elevator to go faster. Wryly note that Civilized people are probably wishing the same thing.

Arrive at desk. Turn on television to hear WeatherMan call for yet more rain, and add that we are still in a drought.


 Really, People?

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 01:45 pm   |  Permalink   |  5 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 08 2012


I was so humbled by your sweet notes regarding Norman and wanted to take a moment to thank you all for just being the best!   It boggles my mind that over 1243 people even CARED about our sick calf.  Your kindness amazes me, and I want to thank you for the pick-me-ups you sent, both public and private.

"The shortest way to God is to bring comfort to the soul of your neighbor."      Abu Sa'id


Earlier this week I got a note from Anne in South Africa (Hi Anne!!!) and it completely flabberghasted me.  I knew we had readers in Canada and Australia, (which amazed me too!) but South Africa!  Wow!  Whodathunkit???  That's a looooong waaaay from Texas!

 "Where's South Africa?"

"I think it's somewhere past Galveston."

 "No Morons! It's south of Mexico!"


 "I'm surrounded by idiots."


Hmmmm. I may have to pull up a map for them, as they don't get out of Texas much.  Showing them a globe is out of the question.

   "Is that a ball?  A blue ball!"  


 "It's MINE!  My blue ball!"

 "Throwtheball!Throwtheball!Throw the BALL!"

 "Get AWAY! It's MY blue ball!"


Yeah . . . showing them a globe is out of the question. I'm just sayin'. A girl has GOT to know her limitations.



Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:16 pm   |  Permalink   |  2 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, March 07 2012


     I named the calf "Norman." Not exactly original, but I doubt he cares. Norman passed away last night. Other Half fed him around 7 pm and tucked him in. I came home from work at midnight to find him still warm, but gone. Norman was premature. His teeth were not fully developed but other than that, he looked like a full term calf.

     Other Half had planned to put him down yesterday afternoon because he wasn't making a marked improvement but after some more research on premature calves we decided to give him one more chance. The mortality rate is high, but some do pull out.

     So we continued to try. Unfortunately, I opened the bedroom door last night to find him motionless. Ranger rushed in and attempted a canine version of CPR.

   It was touching. The little blue dog was quite upset. I gave him all the time he wanted. He guarded Norman's body from the other dogs while I pulled Norman's pallet into the muck room. I left the calf there while Ranger valiantly continued to revive the little guy. It was sad, poignant - Hollywood's version of what a dog is, and most aren't. And yet, there it was in front of me.

     Briar was in the back yard and so she came into the muck room to check out Norman's body.  Ranger threatened her but she was politely persistent. I don't think Briar has ever seen Death claim someone, so I called Ranger away to let her carefully explore Norman's body. Then I went to phone Other Half.

     I was okay. Despite our best efforts, I knew saving Norman was a longshot. It is what it is. Nature can be cruel. While I chatted with Other Half, I was okay - until I walked back into the muck room and saw Briar. Then I burst into tears.

     Briar, who had never seen Norman alive, was lying beside his still body with her chin on her paws. Her expression was the saddest I've ever seen. Briar understood Norman was dead. She settled down beside him, and waited, her expressive eyebrows shifting but her head never moving from her paws. And then I cried.  Not for Norman, but for the sweet nature of a good dog. Briar and Ranger have a level of empathy not seen in the rest of the pack. 

Typical narcissist, my beloved Lily bounced around, "Can we play fetch now?"

Dillon, who had been frightened of Norman when he was alive, was not frightened, but now curious of the dead Norman. Trace was still slightly growly. To them, Norman was a Thing, never a Someone. But Ranger and Briar see suffering and death for what it is, and they respond with an uncanny sympathy. It touches me.

Sadly, Norman joins the ranks of my other failed attempts to save the longshots. For most of my life, God has sent helpless animals my way. I have killed more baby birds than I care to remember. At one point I recall upon finding yet another helpless bird, throwing my hands to Heaven and shouting,

"Why do you INSIST upon sending me these things?!! You KNOW that I can't keep them alive!"

(I have a long history of shouting at God. It gets me nowhere by the way.)

My baby bird dilemma has been solved by the wildlife rehab people. Now I can whisk a little bird up, drive an hour, and gratefully hand it and some money over to someone far more qualified than me. It may still die, but at least I feel I've done all I can do.

And such is the same with Norman. Other ranchers and the vet wouldn't have spent much energy or money on Norman, and yet for some reason, like Ranger and Briar, we felt 'something' and were compelled to try.

I am still tempted to throw up my hands and shout at God, "Why do you keep sending me hopeless cases? My faith does not grow each time I try and lose them anyway!"

It is tempting to carry them to the vet and let him deal with it, (translated: I don't have to watch them die and feel responsible for their death) but as Other Half has pointed out, "He'll do the same thing we're doing, and besides, he doesn't think you should even try." (Our vet went to high school with Other Half and doesn't sugarcoat things for us.)

But like Ranger, I have to try. And when the calf dies, like Briar, all I can do is mourn another failed attempt to cheat Death.

Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 10:57 am   |  Permalink   |  9 Comments  |  Email
Tuesday, March 06 2012

     Thus far the calf is still alive. No real improvement though. He is taking his milk, so he gets warm food in his belly.  I'm concerned that his brain may have been denied oxygen for too long during his birth which has resulted in brain damage.  He doesn't seem to be able to control his head much or make any attempt to stand.  He is taking his milk well though, so that's something.

 Ranger spent the night sleeping on the corner of the bed. He often jumped down to lick the calf and check on it before returning to his post on the corner of the bed where he had a birds-eye view of the calf.  Ranger is a regular Florence Nightingale.


Keep up the prayers. It ain't over till the fat lady sings. We'll give him every chance possible. At the very least, he's warm and dry, and as long as Ranger is there, he has a constant nursemaid.


Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 11:55 am   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  Email
Monday, March 05 2012


There is. There really is a cow in my bedroom. 

 "There IS!"

Here he is.

He is one sick little boy. He needs your prayers.  His mamma is Daisy Mae.

He is her first calf. We missed the birth and by the time we found him, the buzzards were already gathering. We thought he was dead, but because he was still breathing, we scooped him up and drove him back to the barn. He may have just had a difficult birth, or there may be something else working here. We got him revived, filled him with antibiotics and electrolytes, brought his mamma in, milked her, and fed him.

The plan was to leave him with her in a small pen. She licked him and seems concerned, but unfortunately the temps were dipping too low and she wasn't staying close enough to keep him warm.  Thus . . .

. . . he ended up in the bedroom.

I debated on whether or not to blog about him because I feared folks would get attached to him, and he'd die. On the other hand, this blog is about the ups and downs of life on a farm. This is one of the downs. Ranching isn't always about the cute and cuddly. Lots of times it's about the muddy and the bloody.

At this point, it's in God's hands. He is re-hydrated and has a full belly of his mother's milk. He's warm under a pile of old dog blankets with his head on a dog pillow. If he dies, at least the ants and the buzzards won't get him.

The assorted reactions from the dogs have been interesting.  Lily shows cautious concern. I doubt the concern is for his health. Most likely she's concerned that there's a cow in the bedroom. Dillon barked, growled, peed on himself, and had to be locked outside.  Trace is cautious and growls a bit. He's now staying with Dillon.  Ranger surprised me the most.  We had forgotten that Ranger loves baby animals. He set aside the fact that he is a Cattle Dog, and showed a great deal of concern for the little fellow. Ranger licked his butt and reminded me that there's a lot more to this little blue dog than a space cadet in spots.

Keep this little fella in your prayers.  He has a long road ahead of him.




Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 09:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  4 Comments  |  Email
Thursday, March 01 2012

This is another Tale Of Two Dogs . . . and some idiots

I was minding my own business, happily eating my breakfast, absorbed in my black & white world of Timmy & Lassie, when I heard the screams . . .

Hear hysterical barking of police dog in outside kennel. See sheep zoom past living room window at the speed of sound. Window is open. Lily-The Border Collie, and Ice-The Black Wolf, who have been watching Lassie with me, run to window as the last of the flock speeds past. Ice leaps through open window. Lily follows.

Leap off couch faster than I thought 48 year old body was capable and begin screaming at dogs. Ice has only run a few feet from the window. Call her back. Lily has kicked into warp drive and is heading off sheep.  Call her back. Sheep are  still screaming.

Is police dog loose?  Holy shit! That would be a bloodbath!

No, police dog is in her kennel, bouncing off the bars like a lunatic. She is high on "sheep crack." Running, screaming sheep have pushed her over her very low threshold. Wonder for a moment if her head will explode. Or perhaps she will have a sheep cocaine-induced heart attack.  Decide that is Other Half's problem. I must figure out why sheep are screaming and running around yard when all dogs are apparently confined.

Whistle Lily up and put her in the house.  She is most disappointed. Put on rubber boots. Yes, it's still muddy. Yes, the weather man says we're still in a drought. Rush through front door in time to see flock galloping past again.  Something is most definitely chasing them.


Nope. Briar is still in outside kennel where I locked her this morning so Lily could work sheep.  Briar has decided that Lily's uppity butt aggravates her and has several times attempted to rid this world of Lily's arrogance. Understandably, this doesn't go over well with management. Thus, when Lily is loose, Briar is not, and vice versa.

So back to the original problem:  What is chasing the sheep?

Hear lamb screaming and thumping through driveway.  ???

Yes, thumping.

Lamb finally thumps into view.  Oh dear . . .

Apparently said lamb has been climbing on flatbed trailer which contains junk destined for the dump. She is now adorned with a lovely broken flower pot.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!  The pot's got me!  The pot's got me!"

This has resulted in a race to the flock, which is horrified at her fashion choice and has run from her. Thus beginning the vicious cycle. Flower pot chases lamb. Lamb runs to flock. Flock runs from lamb. Lamb follows flock. Flower pot follows lamb.  It is a warm day and the entire flock is now in danger of overheating.

Need help. Do not DARE wake Other Half for this drama. He has been asleep for 3 hours.  Don't want a repeat of the Chuck Episode. Whistle for Lily.  She almost breaks screen door in her haste.

Lily rounds sheep up and holds them. I grab lamb and remove pot. Chaos stops. Just like that. Chaos simply stops.  Enter Border Collie. Exit Chaos.

Put Lily back in house. Let Briar out of kennel. She is ready to stroke with concern for her flock. First she checks out Roanie.

Yes, they are best friends, thus Roanie gets preferential police protection.  She then begins the cautious "I'm not looking at you" game to allow her to get close enough to lamb to check her out.

Lamb freaks.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! The dog's got me! The dog's got me!"

The rest of the flock is unimpressed. She runs to her father. He is the picture of sympathy.

"Shut up and graze, kid."

Briar is satisfied that lamb is fine. She meanders through the flock for a quick check of everyone else.

"Sheep need patience and gentle guidance."

"Sheep are stupid and must be dominated."

And so it goes. Two dogs. Two jobs. Too many idiots in one flock.  All that drama, but in the end, peace is restored, reminding me once again that if you have sheep, you need a Border Collie, and a Big White Dog . . . and caffeine, lots of caffeine.

Note:  This lamb will now be named: Flower Pot

Nuther Note: Police Dog's head did not explode.



Posted by: forensicfarmgirl AT 12:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  11 Comments  |  Email

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