Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Helpers

guarding calves last October
Spring might actually show up one of these days, so I have been trying to turn my attention to the house, in my “spare time”.
Being on a ranch, the closest pavement is about 40 or so miles away, and the dust is pretty much constant here. Lack of humidity causes wood to dry out and crack. Once again, our distance from town necessitated a home remedy for furniture cleaner and conditioner, and once again, the internet came to the rescue.

I had some cheaper cooking oils that have been sitting in the pantry for quite some time now. Mixing a cup of that with ½ cup of bottled lemon juice in a spray bottle proved to be the answer. The lemon juice must have been the cleaning agent, because the rings and spots on our wooden dining table rubbed right off and the oil left it conditioned and beautifully burnished. I spent the rest of the afternoon going over all the wood in the house with very satisfying results.

So that is
1 spray bottle
1 cup cooking oil
½ cup lemon juice

Sounds a lot better than paying $5 a can of Pledge, to me.

The pups had not showed up the other day to help me with the morning feeding as they usually do. I was a little miffed, but assumed it might have been because Cletus had made such a serious 'faux pas' the night before.

The lambs are in a wooden stall with a large hinged wooden gate. The latch is merely a piece of wood that slides into a groove, and doesn’t hold very well. I tied a piece of rope around the gate and post to keep it shut, but didn’t get it very tight. Cletus gets so enthusiastic about seeing and touching the lambs he ran into the barn ahead of me, and with his big old dinner plate sized paws, he opened the gate, setting all 5 lambs loose. This caused me no end of trouble, as I have to separate them to bottle feed, or they steal bottles and jump all over me. After capturing and replacing them, I let them out one at a time to feed them and give the necessary shots, until all 5 were again in the aisleway. There is a gate at the end of the barn that only opens out. Cletus heard something outside, and promptly pushed the gate open to run out…followed by a lamb. The gate slammed shut behind them.

Suddenly, he realized what he had done and stood looking from me to the lamb with a most penitent expression on his face. I told him “Yes, Cletus. YOU did that!”

I let them back in and henceforth; he has waited until I give the okay to leave the barn.

Randyman was first up yesterday morning (as usual).
He said the pups were asleep on their beds when he got up, but when he went into the bathroom; he heard coyotes start to howl to the south of us. When he came back out, the pups were gone. He fed our big critters for me, and headed towards the old milk pasture to feed the horse and cows out there. He said the pups were cutting across the pasture on the way home. It’s south of us.

About 8 a.m. I went to feed the lambs and, as I said, the pups were not around. That evening, Randy related this tale.

“We had to move the calves out of the Lower Cottonwood (about 2 miles away) so I drove the feed truck out there and thru the gate so the calves would follow. All of them came except for 4 calves way down in the lower pasture that couldn’t see us. (the pasture is HUNDREDS of acres) I was trying to decide what to do about them when I saw two white calves bust out of the brush and go running TOWARDS them. They went past the group, then turned around and started walking behind them and all of them came to the gate. Turns out it wasn't two white calves, it was the pups! I was really surprised. They were all so far away, I couldn’t even tell they were dogs. They walked those 4 calves right up through the gate and then left, as quickly as they had showed up. The other thing that is so weird, is that these dogs can run right up to any calf in the herd and the calves don’t run. If I send my dog, Scottie, they all scatter.” (you think these calves might know them?)
There were 350 calves below our house last summer, which the pups adopted. When the calves got moved, the pups were confined to our yard. The next day, the irrigator laughed and said,

“The pups were down in the new field with the calves today, touching their noses”

This seems to be something important to these dogs, to touch noses with everything, including me.
The better part of this winter the pups have been confined to the yard. The calves have been moved a few times since, but clearly they went looking for them as soon as the opportunity presented itself, and took it upon themselves to keep an eye on them.

I figure they must have come straight back home, because they walked me back from the barn when I was done feeding. They checked out the lambs at the barn, then the goats and sheep behind the house. All was well, so they went back to their favored lookout posts.
 So far, they are doing a pretty darn good job.

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