Wednesday, March 9, 2011
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
There is a saying, that if your fence won't hold water, it won't hold goats. There is a lot of truth to that.
The other morning, the ranch went into a cleaning frenzy. It seems some people from Texas were stopping by for the night along with a ranch relative who hasn't been here for several years. We were given no advance notice. Its been a rough winter here, and between illnesses, injuries, too much snow and too much ice, broken water lines and trying to keep the cows fed, the houses and cabins have been at the bottom of the priority list. Add to that, a 19 yr old bachelor cowboy who works from sunup to dark, and has to cook, clean and do his own housekeeping and you have a disaster in the making.
Two of the boys were sent to pick up broken limbs and branches in front of the original ranch house, where some of the guests would stay. As I headed down to talk to them, I heard the pups barking wildly, with an anxious tone I had not heard before. I looked over and saw all 4 remaining baby goats in our GARDEN, with the pups trying desperately to alert me, as they were not supposed to BE there. The boys and I headed over, captured them and put them back in the back pen where they belonged. The dogs, clearly upset by the delinquency of the goats, remained out by them the remainder of the morning.
I headed up to the young cowboy's house with the boss' wife and daughter to see what could be done about the lack of domestic skills he practiced (or not) in aforementioned house. Eight hours later, after employing everything but the use of a tractor, we had it sparkling. The ranch relative was going to be staying in the extra room there, so there was added pressure. During the exercise, I headed to our house for a couple of needed cleaning supplies, and caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. The dogs were both back in the forward corral clearly dismayed by what they were witnessing.
Four baby goats were on top of the makeshift cattle panel shelter, bouncing, turning said shelter into a makeshift trampoline, then one by one, using it as a launchpad to jump high in the air and land in the other corral, and freedom. So THIS was how they got out! For two days and nights now, the pups have been sleeping in the corral in the rain and snow, in an attempt to maintain some sort of order. It seems that the unseemly behavior of the goats has triggered the deep ingrained Guardian instincts of the pups and brought it to the forefront. At least one of them has been remaining with the naughty goats at all times, except in the event of what they deemed an emergency.
Cider was playing in the front yard, when one of the cowdogs came down and attacked him. For whatever reason, Cider seems to be the target of every dog on the ranch, with the exception of the Maremmas. The pups showed up and without any unnecessary force, an advancing 230 lb of "polar bears" convinced the instigator to return to the barn and leave Cider alone. They spent the next hour or so as active 'bodyguards' to him, until they were sure he was safe, then returned to the goat pasture. Bruno won't come in the house to visit me anymore. They have adopted a new routine. They patrol at sunup, returning a short time later to keep an eye on things here. Cletus guards the goats, while Bruno keeps an eye on things in the front yard...sometimes they switch places. But for the most part, Bruno has decided their territory and influence should extend to the front of the house from our lawn, to the barn.
As the new folks showed up, he merely laid watchfully observing, as they passed him by, never molesting them, or drawing attention to himself, until a couple of folks drove up and headed to my front door. He introduced himself politely, then set himself between them and the door until I opened it. When I greeted them, he acknowledged my judgment and quietly returned to his post on his own.
He's so professional.