This week Cletus spent some time in ‘solitary confinement’. He KNEW it was wrong to chase the rooster, because I was running behind him TELLING HIM SO. Still, he could not help himself. Flipping him onto his back and pretending to choke the life out of him when I finally capture him doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, so he was locked away by himself, with no animals at all, while Bruno stayed with the lambs and also watched over the calves and goats alone. Hopefully it will shame Cletus into better behavior.
After a couple of hours, I caught one of the big chickens that Cletus likes to terrorize and brought her in the shed with us. I set her down and Cletus perked up…I could see his enthusiasm, as he thought I was giving her to him like a Happy Meal and prize all rolled up in one. He started to go after her and I grabbed him and hollered ‘NO!!!!” He sat sullenly but continued eyeballing her. I started to check him just for thinking 'it' and made him lay down. I then grabbed previously mentioned hen and set her on top of him. After a couple of minutes I lifted her off. I repeated this several times, even stuffing her up underneath his leg like it was a wing. Cletus was beyond mortified. I then put her in front of him, between his big old pie plate sized paws. He turned his head away, refusing to look at her. I could tell my point was starting to be made, hugged and freed Cletus and let the hen back in the yard.
This morning dawned bright and beautiful. There are very few puffy clouds in an otherwise clear blue sky and I can feel the warmth from the sun. Good thing, because the last few weeks have been pretty painful and this makes a welcome difference to this high mileage body. I was determined to have a cup of coffee for a change, before stepping out to feed the dreaded leppies and the lambs. Once all the bottles were loaded in the wagon I headed out back. The new “fix-it” guy who has been coming to do odd jobs, hollered and asked if I had fed the leppies yet. He had something for me. I jumped up and down, (as much as is possible, for one who can no longer jump) because that meant he finished my very wonderful and very beautiful, much appreciated and anticipated ‘bottle box’. It’s a heavy box large enough to hold 6 of the half gallon calf bottles so they cannot knock them over, knock them out, or otherwise misbehave while I am feeding, coming to butt, bump, suck on and stomp me. I was sooooooo excited. The first test drive was a COMPLETE success! I could tell it would be a VERY good day! A once dreaded chore was reduced to mundane again.
After feeding all the bottle babies, I invited Cletus and Bruno into the back yard, for another cup of coffee. They were evicted a month ago, when I decided they were mature enough to stay with the bummer lambs. They need to be more bonded to their stock than to me and I need a back yard with flowers, trees and vegetables instead of holes, bones, puppy treasures and doggy doo. Visitation isn’t out of the question however. The chicks are still ‘free ranging’ in the yard until I can get the coop cleaned out and disinfected. I hate putting a brand new chicken into an old dirty coop. It was time for a bit more ‘chicken training’.
I put the spray collar on Cletus and we went to sit with the chickens. The little guys are already kind of used to seeing him, so they don’t have a big reaction, but the 3 surviving older chickens have been terrorized by Cletus sufficiently that they are NOT going to relax. They took off running and squawking.
Cletus looked anxiously at me and I praised him…then I noticed a flash out of the corner of my eye. BRUNO was chasing the rooster! I commanded “NO!” and he immediately stopped. The rooster, however, in his panic, did NOT stop, and went racing past Cletus who then picked up the pursuit. I hit the spray button on his collar to no avail. The only thing that saved the rooster was doubling back past me so Cletus had to notice me standing there with murder in MY eyes. He stopped and became very cagey. I asked him nicely to come to me, but he turned to avoid me. I asked him to come again and hit a “no tone” and then the spray button. THIS time it registered and he didn’t like it one bit. He darted for the gate and I hit the tone again, then the spray. He headed in several directions to get away, including ducking around the house out of sight, but I continued to hit the tone and spray each time I asked him to come and he refused. Finally, as a last resort, he came crawling to me, tail tucked between his long legs, hoping there would be some sort of sanctuary there from the awful citronella scent that was ruthlessly targeting his nose. I praised him again, with big hugs and a ‘happy tone’. We spent a bit more time with the collar with food rewards and happy tones and a couple of corrections. He doesn’t TOTALLY get it, but he did figure out there is sanctuary by my legs. Now I can’t get rid of him.
I have 100 pounds of lanky dog leaning relentlessly into my leg every step I take, as happy chickens scratch around me. I guess that is the face of progress.
Good boy, Cletus.