Friday, April 29, 2011

Honey, I Blew Up the Dog

Spring must really be here, because the pups are shedding. There are chunks of Maremma all over the back corrals, and I think Cletus may turn out to be only half the dog he used to be.
He looks so different and kinda mangy. The sheep woke up one morning and didn't even seem recognize him.

The chicks that have been living in the house since March 1st finally feathered out. One of them escaped from the big metal feed trough we had dragged into the living room for them to grow in, so I figgered it was high time. They were kinda stinky anyway, and chickens make a fine sort of dust on everything that is annoying. They moved into the greenhouse with the door unzipped so they could go in and out. They are becoming VERY friendly. We have had a few training sessions with Cletus who is still having a difficult time conquering his chicken plucking urges. We got Buff Orpingtons and Black Australorps this time around. They are supposed to be good about going 'broody' so they will be self sustaining and we will continue to have eggs and meat for the table without buying more chickens.

We had visitors, in the form of family last week. They brought 3 of the kids, who were really cute and had a good time helping to feed the calves, the lambs and milk goats. It was nice to have the help and, was just nice having kids around. I miss my own kids and grandkids a LOT. Here's to hoping they make the trip up this summer, as they have another on the way!! Meantime, we had gone to the hot springs and one of the girls modeled the newest in ranchwear for  us.
How cute is a summer shift, stripped stockings with bows at the top and cowboy boots!?! I love kids. I wish I had this in my closet.

Once again, we ate like kings. They brought another prime rib, which I prepared while everyone was out pushing cows in from the desert. I had a panic attack, when I learned they were going to show up for dinner THREE HOURS LATE, but thanks to the recipe buzz on AR, (B'Nana in particular) it wound up cooked to perfection. The 'boule bucket bread' was also a major hit. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend the book, "Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day". I tossed all the flour, yeast, salt and water into a bucket the day before they showed up and we had lots of fresh baked loaves and pizza crusts. FABULOUS stuff!
This discovery is NOT going to be a good for my wardrobe.

It's snowing again. I hope Cletus didn't jump the gun taking off his winter coat.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Joy Comes in the Morning

Just as the most incredible and amazing Resurrection follows what I consider to be the most horrible day of the year actually the most awful day in history, Good Friday, today sorrow lent itself to comfort, if not joy.

Recently, my lambs and animals have been for me, an illustration of the things the Lord has said. They have become pictures that help bridge the gap between here and eternity. Tender and heart-gripping pictures of the way He cares, in the interaction between the lambs and myself, as well as between the pups and the lambs.

Today was a more difficult lesson.

I woke up this morning and dragged myself out to the corrals to feed leppies and lambs, but only 4 lambs came to me. Normy was missing. After the others had their fill of milk, I went to look for him. He was lying in their shelter, inside of the little kennel they like to sleep in. I knew something was very wrong, as Normy has always been the most active and the most hungry of the 5, in spite of his chronic sniffles and smaller size. I reached in to lift him out. His little body was very cold and he moaned. I knew it was too late for him, no matter what was wrong, so I took him into the milking shed and held him, trying to make him as warm and comfortable as I could. He nestled into my arms and moaned again. It was not many minutes before he was ‘gone’.

I laid him on one of the pups’ pillows in the shed and went about feeding the rest of the animals and completing my chores. The pups were already out on patrol. By the time I had finished milking, Cletus showed up. I took him to Normy and he looked him over. A week ago, I had banded two of the lambs’ tails and they were quite upset, both pups were clearly distressed and spent a great deal of time tending to them and trying to comfort them. This time Cletus seemed to accept that Normy was gone and without further ministration, he turned and went out to the other lambs. Bruno showed up and did the same, licking Normy a time or two, trying to rouse him, then quietly leaving and joining the remaining four.

I carried Normy to the porch and laid his little body down, until such time as Randyman could decide how to dispose of him.

As I thought about how very animated the dogs were when the lambs were in distress, I marveled at how quiet and dignified they accepted one’s death. They seemed to take it all in stride.

It is my own opinion, but I believe the animals, or at least most of them, possess a wisdom we lack. They rarely wallow in self-pity, or live their lives pining for more than they already have. They simply go about their purpose with as much satisfaction, or joy, as they can take from this life.

It says not one sparrow falls to the ground apart from the Father’s will. (Matt 10:29)

 It also says our days were written for us, before there even was one. (Ps 139:16)

The same surely holds true for one little lamb, and for us.

Everything living will someday die. Death is not something we welcome with great anticipation. Losing Normy leads me to the conclusion that we either trust Him with everything, both good and bad, or cannot trust Him at all. Trusting Him with Normy is a small comparison to trusting Him with my own life and death, but it is the most logical decision to me.

He was willing to sacrifice His life to restore relationship with me, so why should I not trust Him with all of mine? I know He can bring goodness out of tragedy, and beauty from ashes. He did it on “Easter”; I’ve seen Him do it in my own life as well.

Normy, if your short little life served no other purpose, you brought me a step closer to understanding my faith and my God and gave me tools and strength for the future. Thank you.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps 30:5)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Past the Walls

It is a beautiful day. The sun shines down through puffy clouds set against a blue backdrop. The first robins are hopping about, the chickens are scratching up all the dirt and leaves in the back yard and the rest of the animals are wandering around eating the lush spring grass that has come at last. I puttered around the large lower pasture for awhile because Cletus had come back up to the house alone.

It has been their habit throughout the winter to seek out a particular group of  yearling calves they had assigned themselves charge of. As the calves, like the rest of the cattle here, are frequently moved to different pastures across the thousands of acres of ranch, it sometimes takes awhile before the pups locate them and do their patrol through them. The calves have since been relocated to a ranch 2 hours away and it has been my concern the pups might just keep traveling, as they are very determined. I let them out on patrol for the first time since the calves have been gone and to my dismay, they didn’t come back that night. They weren’t in the corral by dinner. At midnite, I shone my flashlight out there and still no pups. My heart sank. Next morning, myself and visiting family members of the smaller persuasion, went out to feed lambs, calves and milk the goats. The pups came blasting up from the lower pasture and happily greeted us. Their faces were covered in blood, not their own. I assumed they had either gotten into a tangle with a coyote which was easily won, or found and stole a fresh kill. Usually, they drag their trophies home, but I didn’t see anything with them this time.

I allowed them their freedom to come and go, and they have remained close in and watchful over their lambs and goats. This morning Cletus came in alone and I began to worry about Bruno, as they are rarely far from one another. I asked Cletus to take me to him and he turned and walked back the direction from which he came, as if he understood me perfectly. After about ½ mile, with the lambs and goats following, I saw Bruno, struggling mightily to pull something through the fence. It was, indeed a stolen kill and the carcass was still quite large. It is the nature of Livestock Guardian Dogs to eat dead stock, even if it had previously been one of their charges, because failure to do so would attract predators. As their patrol a fairly large area, they tend to bring things closer to home, so they can keep an eye on the animals in their charge. They were both quite pleased to show me what they’d brought and I gave them the high praise they deserved for undertaking such a Herculean task as dragging this thing all the way home and through dense sagebrush and a wire fence.

I headed back to the house, the pups leading the lambs and goats along, as they clearly didn’t feel the low end of the pasture was the ideal place for little lambs. The lambs are becoming a bit more independent and courageously wander out through the gate to graze in the big pasture amongst the tall grass, cows and adult goats.

I came back out a couple of hours later and greeted Cletus and Bruno, who were sleeping by the pens. I heard the lambs start to cry at the sound of my voice, but couldn’t see them. They continued to cry out and even though I knew they were safe enough with the pups around, I went off in search of them. The pens behind our house are quite large, and one end  is solid fence, which dips back in an “L” shape. I could tell the lambs had wandered outside and behind there and did not know the way to find me, once they realized I was near. They had been feeling happy and self reliant, until they heard me and realized they had wandered far and in their minds, become irretrievably lost.

I went through the large corrals to the pasture gate and walked the 100 or so yards down the fence line. I stepped past the end of the fence and called to them and they responded by running to me, surrounding me and crowding one another, each trying to be the closest. 

We walked back a little ways, but I found the green grass and the warm sun too tempting, myself. So I eased myself down, Cletus came and offered himself as a pillow and the lambs went back to contentedly grazing, this time keeping their eyes fixed on me.

As I lay there, I thought about how He said,
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”. (John10:27)

Once again, He used an example of my own life that I could understand. I often wander off, consumed by the moment, or whatever is commanding my attention and lose sight of Him.. It is when He is able to help me “hear” His voice, or “see” His face, I come running back, knowing that HE is the one who cares for, and takes care of, me. He heard my cry and He came for me. HE is the one who leads me to the best places, guiding me to what really nourishes and brings me the abundant life. I gratefully rested in His shadow and contemplated all He has done to prove that to me.

“Good Friday” is more often than not, a gloomy day for me. The awareness and remembrance of the suffering He took on, in my behalf, tears at my heart and conscience. Regret for my part of His pain squeezes until its almost a physical ache sometimes. My actions, my falling short, were so serious, so costly, the punishment so severe, the pain of the penalty so indescribable, that they had to create a new word for it. “Excruciating”. It means, literally, “out of the Cross.”

“Good Friday” hardly seems  appropriate. But it is always followed by the best day ever, the anniversary of the empty tomb.
 Death didn’t win. The enemy didn’t win. My sin didn’t outweigh His power or compassion. He didn’t abandon me to myself. He knew I was lost and He came past my walls to show me the way Home.

Beyond Chicken

Very little makes my heart as glad as seeing Bruno and Cletus standing on their hind legs doing their “happy dance” when they see me in the morning. Cletus stands as tall as I am when in this position, and he wags his long tail, as he bunny hops on his hind legs and his long body bends and sways like a reed in the wind. He really should be a star.

We have been working on our ‘chicken etiquette”. Cletus and Bruno too, believe that all chickens are fun squeaky toys to be captured, pinned and 'undressed'. This results in my poor poultry being shocked beyond recovery, and either dying from the shock or perhaps dying from embarrassment at being naked before the world. Stern warnings and confiscation and humane dispatch of the victims have, up until now, failed to get my point across. If a loose chicken was anywhere he could see it, he would break all land speed records racing to capture and torture it, with me lagging far behind him, threatening and screaming epithets.

Cletus, normally a “soft dog” that wilts at the first harsh word, is the worst offender. Chickens are just a greater temptation than he seems able to overcome. We all have them, let's face it. I decided Cletus needed a little help with his.

I purchased a remote collar that, instead of delivering electric shock, sprays citronella at their face. Dogs HATE it, but it doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort. It is an annoyance for sure. I had used it once on each of the dogs last fall, with pretty good results. It was time to recharge it and let Cletus wear it again. He is maturing rapidly with the combined responsibility he and Bruno have of watching over all our calves, lambs, goats and sheep. It’s time to add the chickens to the mix, so they can free range and I can save some feed money.

I fastened and fitted the collar on him and armed with my remote, we headed to the greenhouse where the chicks reside. I pulled up a chair and remained at a distance while Cletus went to ‘cruise chicks’. I was fully prepared to hit the buttons at the first sign of aggression from him, hoping I would be quick enough and it would be sufficient to save my hapless test victims.

Cletus' ears perked up and I could see the glint in his eyes as he strolled up and towered over them. Then he stood a few feet off observing the chicks pecking through the grass. Then THEY noticed HIM and ran squeaking into the green house. He slowly walked over and stuck his head in the door. My hands tensed and I waited in anticipation. He looked in for a couple of minutes, then walked past and laid down in the corner. The chicks began to wander out again, one by one, past his nose and started scratching around on the lawn again. He stood up and walked among them. He noted me and came to see me. I hugged and praised him. I never had to hit the spray button. I removed his collar and we went back out with the bigger animals, as I don’t think he is yet trustworthy to be with the chicks unsupervised. He restrained himself, but he looked far too interested. As I removed his collar I hugged him again, then realized how very lucky we had all been that he’d found some self control.

I had forgotten to turn the collar on.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

For the Want of a Horse...

Animals have always been an important part of my life. Horses, especially, having been ‘horse crazy’ since I was a toddler. Consequently, I spent most of my life in or at the barn and more hours on horseback than on the ground, at least until the past few years.
Being both a klutz and a daredevil, I have had more than my fair share of injuries and surgeries, running the gamut from skull fractures, a coma, to multiple fractures in my back and a total knee replacement. No matter what the injury, or whatever warnings from the doctors ensued, I always went back to riding as soon as I possibly could. It was often difficult and sometimes painful at first, but the rewards were worth it. What I didn’t realize at the time is how many times I actually rehabilitated myself.

I spent over 30 years training show horses and giving riding instruction. Near the end of those 30 years, a friend brought a child with Downs Syndrome to visit. I led him around on a horse and he exhibited more pleasure and excitement than any of the kids I had ever worked with. I thought it sad that kids with special needs don’t get the opportunities to experience what other kids take for granted. Then another friend asked if she could bring a little girl with Cerebral Palsy over and if I would put her on a horse. Being totally unfamiliar with the nature of special needs, I began to worry something might go wrong. I had high anxiety about it and began to do some research. As fate would have it (that is, HE who is in charge of our fates), I found a series of articles on various handicaps on a N.A.R.H.A. website. I had never heard of NARHA before and I think it’s funny that it was the first site that came up. NARHA stands for North American Riding for the Handicapped Association. It is an entity based in Colorado, under which over 600 certified centers in the US and Canada work with special needs children and adults using the horse as a therapy platform.

The horse has a 3 dimensional gait, same as a human. The hips swing forward-back, up-down, and side to side as they walk. This movement cannot be duplicated in conventional therapy and the simple act of sitting on a moving animal strengthens and awakens the muscle, nerve, and skeletal structure of the human pelvis and in more than one case, has resulted in previously non-ambulatory people being able to walk. There are multiple ways to utilize the horse for maximum benefits for a myriad of issues. Fascinated by what I had read, I found a NARHA center an hour away and went to observe what they do. A short time later I volunteered and they encouraged me to go through Instructor Certification training and consider opening my own center.

At that time, NARHA was able to address some 66 different disabilities, among them CP, Autism and Spina Bifada. Many centers address mental and emotional disabilities as well. It was amazing to me to see the results.

All instructors must be NARHA trained and certified and medical professionals, such as Physical and Occupational Therapists and Psychiatrists are often available for consult and input. Riders have  volunteers who walk along on each side, to insure they remain seated and balanced and another leads the horse. Safety is always primary.

A little 4 year old girl who was severely affected with autism had spent her life non-communicative. She was very difficult to hang on to, or guide. There was a serious disconnect and it was impossible to get her attention. She just wanted to run, climb, move and seemed totally unaware of who or what was in her world. We got her mounted and I gave the horse leader some instructions, while I tried my best to get her to listen or look my way. Failing in the effort, I had them stop and gave some new directions. As always,as a cue to prepare horse, walkers and riders, I asked them to
“Walk On”

Again, no positive result from her, so I stopped them a second time, gave new directions and said

“Walk On”

A third time I had them stop and while I was giving instructions, the little girl began to rock back and forth and then loudly she proclaimed


I was surprised, as her mother had TOLD me she couldn’t speak. I looked across the arena as her mother rose to her feet, hanging onto the fence with tears streaming down her face. It was the first time she had heard her child’s voice.
Not only could she speak, but she could speak clearly. She, like many individuals with autism had a strong desire and need for movement, hence the frequent rocking and self stimulation one might observe. The horse was providing this motion. Her special needs teacher contacted and told me

“I have the know-how, you have the incentive. Let’s get together and teach her to talk”

Four months later, I was invited to watch this same little girl in speech therapy, identify flash cards of fruits, animals and colors and group them 100%.

An 11 yr old boy with moderate retardation was another client. His posture was typical of people with this diagnosis, stoop shouldered with eyes lowered. He took direction well and was able to ride an old mare of mine fairly independently, with just myself walking alongside as insurance. Being able to stop, turn and direct an 1100 lb. animal was a real coup for him. Several sessions into his riding, his mother told me his teacher had asked what they were doing differently.

“She said his posture has improved dramatically, which we of course have noticed, but now he is even participating in class and answering questions. His self esteem has sky rocketed!”

There are hours worth of personal stories I could relate to you, on how I saw this program miraculously change lives.

Riding strengthens muscles, improves coordination, improves posture, balance and breathing function, sharpens cognitive skills and promotes relationship. These are just a few of the benefits and only a couple of examples of the incredible differences equine therapy makes in the lives of these worthy but often forgotten and invisible people.

Maintaining a NARHA Center, like any non-profit organization, is costly. There is insurance, feed, veterinary needs, tack and special equipment, props and other needs. These centers are driven and exist mainly due to strong volunteer forces.

If you have a gift or passion, it has an outlet here. If you love to cook, cater, or entertain, help throw a fundraiser. If you love animals, volunteer to lead, walk alongside,or care for one of the specially trained horses (more often than not these are retired horses who have been given a second chance at life and service). If you are skilled at writing, or book keeping, volunteer to help in the office. If you are great with people skills, how about being an outreach person and managing volunteers? If you love children, you will REALLY love THESE children. They have much to teach you about overcoming challenges and how to grasp pure joy in the moment. Perhaps you can babysit siblings while the students ride, or set up a bible study for parents who, due to the nature of their child's disability, are unable to attend church or social events themselves.

If you are the parent of a special needs child, or caregiver of an adult, most State Regional centers cover your costs of this therapy.

NO matter what your abilities are there is a need for you. I recommend you look up and find the center nearest you. You won’t regret it!

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Horns Of A Dilemma

Before the goats freshened this year, I bought a ‘de-horning’ iron. I never dehorned goats as the horns weren’t much of a problem for me before. They were always in the same pen, in plain sight and unable to get their heads stuck. Now I have much larger, Nubian goats, who not only could have their heads stuck and be dispatched by predators in their unfortunate condition, but could easily use them to injure my pups, or worse, one of the visiting grandkids, so off they must come.

Randyman and I steeled ourselves for the pitiful crying and the guilt that comes with this dreaded job of burning the horn buds off the baby goats when they were a few days old. I shaved their little heads around the horn buds, and stuffed them in a little box to help keep them still. Randyman did the ‘iron work’ while I held their little heads still with gloved hands. There was almost no crying, in fact, they were more vocal about the shaving than the burning. The good news is, that much like when branding calves, after the initial burn, the area is deadened as the nerves in that area are destroyed, so the pain isn’t as brutal as one might surmise. I complained that we needed to keep the iron on for 10 seconds or so, but he insisted we had a good copper ring. The tops of the buds weren’t burned off either, in our inexperience and ignorance. Several weeks later, I noticed we had 5 horned baby goats…well…4 ½ actually. ONE out of 10 horns burned successfully.
I re-burned the horn of the one little doe we sold and I hope that was successful.

The little bucks I decided to just leave horned as they will probably be ‘party animals’…that is to say, they will likely be invited to a BBQ somewhere. The does, however, I have attempted banding. We put the same kind of bands at the base of their growing horns that we use on the buck goats and lambs to wether them. Again, this method doesn’t seem to be as uncomfortable as one would think. The bucks tend to walk funny for a few minutes until the area goes numb and then it is business as usual until the offending body parts just fall off a couple of weeks later. This also works great on lamb tails, which are quite long at birth, but pose a danger of fly strike and maggots as sheep get older. They have to be docked for health reasons. The bummer lambs will get banded soon, likely as not, next week. Samby’s tail already detached and it looks great! One day he was wagging a long tail, and the next he was waggin a short one! If only I could eliminate my own ‘excess’ so easily.

Anyway, the two girls have their horns banded and I am hoping that will get rid of the offending appendages. I will let you know how that works out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Good Shepherd

There is some sunshine out today, so I decided to put the lambs outside. Being locked in a dark barn doesn’t seem to be the healthiest place for them. The only boy among them, “Normy”, skinned his back somehow, so I put a little cape on him to protect him from sunburn.

I had to kick the big goats out of their pen, as it has the only shelter and the least amount of electric fence in it. The 5 little, bummer lambs followed me out of the barn, leaping off of the high stoop, (which always gives ME a problem) and we mobbed along, huddled close enough to keep tripping me, for their very first trip. All the while I was trying to recall that nursery rhyme about the lamb at school. I must have been a sight, traipsing along with 5 lambs weaving in and out my legs.

We made it through the back yard and into the corrals, where Bruno stepped up and took charge. He helped me guide them into the pen where he remained with them. Before long they were climbing all over Bruno and following him wherever he walked. Cletus was terribly excited to see them and begged to be let in. He greeted them all, then began horsing around with Bruno, so I had to remove him. He’s just too immature and klutzy, so his job is hanging out with the older critters.

Samby-the-lamby who is enormous compared to these guys at only 3 weeks older, introduced himself through the fence, while his mother ‘Tooney” wagged her head menacingly at them, being her over protective and motherly self, as she always is, unless, of course, food is involved…then Samby is on his own.

Shortly after, Bruno lay down and the lambs were all cuddled up with him.  It was such an illustration of love and faithfulness. There is just no reason for him to attend to these helpless and defenseless little critters and there is no benefit for him to do so. It is simply his nature to protect and nurture them, shepherd them, and do his best to keep them from harm. If it is necessary, he will lay down his life in their defense, as many of his kind before him have done.

It is like seeing a small piece of God placed in the heart of a canine. He said ‘a good shepherd lays down His life for His flock.’ I hope neither Bruno nor Cletus ever have to give their last measure of devotion in the performance of their duty. Like too many of us, the lambs will never fully appreciate what they do for them and I guess that is what separates us from the animals. We can choose to take our great Shepherd for granted, or we can return His love, flawed and fickle as ours may be. It is a beautiful thing to see the lambs run to Bruno for safety and helps me bear in mind where I too, must run when the enemy approaches. I hope I am at least as smart as these lambs and continue to draw near and bask in that warmth and devotion. Right now, one is curled between Bruno’s front paws, resting against his chest while the others are cuddled into his fur. I want to be like that one, resting peacefully in the arms of the Father.

I am so grateful for my own Good Shepherd for having dedicated and sacrificed His life to be my savior, sanctuary and my bridge to Home. It seems that everything I love, points there.

Thanks, Bruno, for the reminder.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Weather Or Not...

The welcome sunshine started the grass growing. The cows, sheep and goats were enjoying some grazing and playing, the pups soaked up sun and watched their charges. I got the portable greenhouse back up, started some tomato seeds (late) and looked forward to putting the bummer lambs outside to play. I brushed a ton of downy coat off of the pups, wondering just how much they will weigh once they completely shed out their heavy coats.

This morning was brighter than usual. That is due to the reflection from the 3 INCHES OF SNOW WE GOT LAST NIGHT!!!!
            (A picture of depression)
                            (cabin fever causes short tempers)
                                               ("say UNCLE!!!")
I vote that we “PHIRE PAXUTAWNY PHIL!!” That lying groundhog! What did we expect, after all, he is just a rodent. A glorified rat, if you will. I suspect he and Al Gore went to the same Meteorology School. They actually have quite a lot in common.

I don long underwear and heavy socks again, as I look out the window at the falling snow, wondering where and how, we will get more hay for the critters. Dolly and EmmaLou cow are hiding in their shelter, their pathetic winter coats having shed and left a mere Mohawk of soft fuzz down their top lines.
                              (Bruno consoling the kids)

                                ( a bummed out EmmaLou Mae Cow)

‘Tardy’, the leppy, and two of the goat-kids may have to go back inside the barn. Looks like I will have to clean stalls again. I’ll choke down a cup of coffee and prepare for a long day ahead.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

After a long, cold winter, we have a beautiful day.  It was snowing, with heavy winds last night, but didn’t stick, and this morning there is a blue sky and bright sunshine. I put all the little critters, except for the bummer lambs, out to absorb a little Vitamin A&D in the form of grass and liquid sunshine. Actually, technically it’s weeds but they are green and Tooney seems to enjoy it.

This week should wrap up Cow Camp, the cows should be off the desert and moving down the road to home and will receive a bit of a push now and then over the next month or so.

 Last year’s weanlings, which wintered here on feed and supplements, are being shipped to another ranch holding, two hours away and in another month, will be shipped from there, to the ranch in Cascade, Idaho. These are the same calves the pups took it upon themselves to seek out and patrol every morning. The pups are now confined to the corrals behind our house so they don’t get in the way or get upset during shipping. I just hope when they DO go looking for them, they don’t KEEP going.  They were gone 6 hours one day looking for them, before discovering the calves several miles on the other side of the ranch from the pasture they had previously been in. I’d much rather they just stick to watching over their OWN critters.

We hotwired the fence in a little area between the rock wall and horse corral which, for the past several years, has been a vacant area where mustard, tumbleweed and goat head thorns grow. Goats and sheep seem to like this stuff when it first comes up, so they are on ‘weed patrol’. It makes them happy, makes me happy, and puts the pups in an area where they can be confined with their primary charges and still see the barn where the lambs reside.

There are some introductions to be made, as well as some relationships to smooth out. The goats are scared to death of the leppy calf, who just wants a friend to hang out with, so they run from him. Cletus is trying his best to gain acceptance from the leppy, who is running from him and trying to catch up with the goats, Bruno is looking on and Tooney and Samby the lamby are just busy eating weeds like they are supposed to.

I strung a different kind of hotwire in the big corral behind our house, hoping to put the critters out there for awhile too. They like to crawl through the fence and get into Dolly and EmmaLou cow’s stuff and the pups melt through the wire and go on patrol. I need to be able to contain them when necessary, like during shipping or hunting season, but give them a bigger area. Cider and I worked hard all afternoon putting in our posts and stringing the wire.

I plugged it back in, but I don’t want to let any critters out there until I am sure that it works. I asked Randyman if he would please go grab it and tell me if it is working or not.

He said “No.”

I'm speechless.