For the most part, the romance between EmmaLou and Bennie wasn’t one of those Harlequin Novel types, (which neither Emma nor I read) or even something suited for Hallmark Channel. They spent a couple of weeks in the pasture ignoring one another, tolerating each other over a meal, while Sushi made eyes at Bennie and flirted shamelessly, refusing to leave his side and preferring his company over that of her mother.
Finally, the day came when Emma made up her mind it was time. I caught her batting her eyes at him and showing off her ankles in the morning, so I kept close watch on the little couple to see when she would actually be in ‘standing heat’.
Later that afternoon, I went out to check on them and there were NO cows in the pasture! The Maremmas had followed and with deep, throaty growls, shot past me and disappeared into the willows in hot pursuit of something. These dogs are such order nerds, that someone being out of place is enough for them to get out of sorts. I hoped that it wasn’t the cows they were after, because they could, hypothetically chase the bull right through the fence and out of Emma’s life. I headed that way and as I passed the shed, I could see EmmaLou peeking out the door, which is uncommon modesty for a cow. At least she made him take her 'somewhere nice'. I suppose the old 'kill shed' could be mistaken as a bovine honeymoon cabin. I never did see any actual concrete matrimoninal type activity taking place, due to their insistence on privacy, but I assume it occurred that night because the next day, they were back to not speaking again.
I’ve been having problems with small ‘junk birds’ getting into the chicken pen and stealing my expensive feed. I kicked the chickens out so they could forage to avoid wasting money. They promptly went to the self dispensing dog feeder in Bruno and Cletus’ dining room, finding it tipped just enough to where they could see and steal the DOGFOOD. It dawned on me that if chickens could be trained to play the piano OURS could learn to eat out of a self dispensing dog feeder. So we purchased a small one on the last trip to town and it has been working out fabulously, right from the start. We must have MENSA chickens.
I’m sleepy today. The “polar bears” were in with the sheep last night. Around midnight I could hear Cletus barking his high pitched, half baying, hysterical bark which continued for a few minutes...then Bruno joined him. If Bruno is barking, it means things are serious. Cletus, like myself, can be a bit of a drama queen...or prince, as the case may be. Whatever it was they were challenging would just not go away. I was tired and didn’t want to get up, but I also didn’t want them waking Randy up. He gets a little grumpy at things that wake him...he probably wouldn’t be the best neighbor if you owned an LGD in town.
I’ve been sleeping in the chair because of my back lately. Wide awake, I listened a bit longer and the barking became more urgent. The dogs were both locked in the 1 acre pasture with the sheep, which is not far from our bedroom window. Because the object of their concern was clearly not leaving, I figured it was not a coyote, nor a bobcat, most likely not a raccoon, nor a deer. That deduction left me with one other likely thing, so I suspect it was another cougar.
I finally decided, since the intruder was obviously feeling pretty invincible with the dogs trapped behind a fence, the best way to change its thinking would be to turn them loose. I feel fairly confident doing this, because they prefer to use no more pressure than required to remove a threat. Physical engagement is their very last option. Once that they could confront the intruder with a little more authority, it quickly moved on. Tonight though, I will keep the dogs in. Chances are it won’t come back now that it knows the dogs might be more trouble than its worth to take one of my sheep, but there is also the possibility that if I locked the dogs OUTSIDE of the fence and it is, indeed, a cougar, it might realize it could handily jump the fence and slaughter my sheep, unmolested, while the dogs carry on, unable to stop it. The joys of ranch life! One more LGD would surely be nice, but with only 10 small animals, I think we need to make do with just the two polar bears.
Since I was already awake, I read on my kindle for awhile and had a hard time getting back to sleep. I was just about to nod off, when suddenly a large spider climbed up the back of it where I couldn’t see and popped up on the top of my kindle, right in my face. I screamed in terror, threw the kindle, which caused the light on it to disconnect and plunge me into darkness. Shaking and hyperventilating, I found the light cord hanging from the ceiling, pulled it and to my horror, saw the spider on the floor coming after me, making loud squeaky noises. I saw 2 pair of Randy’s boots...the ones I am always complaining about him leaving in the living room. I grabbed one and set to actively defend myself. I slammed it down on top of the intruder 10 or 20 times. With each slam of the boot it emitted another loud squeak. Finally, it was no longer moving...in fact it was no longer recognizable, at least not to anyone but me. I heard one more squeak. That’s when I realized I was the one making it. I shakily put my kindle back together as best I could and was pleased to see it all still worked. Tearfully, I shook out the blanket I’d been using, just in case he had been a scout and there was an ARMY of them waiting to come for me and satisfied there were no more, climbed back in my chair. Now I had the heebie jeebies and couldn’t sleep. I must have finally dozed off about 5 or 5:30.
I had been dreaming of enormous spiders and around 6:30 I awoke to something cold and heavy landing hard on my chest, pinning me to the chair. I awoke instantly to find Randyman had gone out to feed and decided to let the Maremmas come in for a little visit. My 120 lb.Cletus, happy to see me but finding me tipped back in a recliner, figured the best way to get his ritual hug was to rear up and flop his entire upper body ice and all, across my lap and chest. He even gave me his very affectionate, trademark cold nose to nose touch. As I was working on pulling some oxygen back into my lungs, Bruno came at me from the side. Being much more gentle and deliberate, he just repeatedly goosed me with his cold nose. Then, like the well disciplined fellow he is, he sat and stared me down. I peeled Cletus off of me, bent over and gave Bruno a hug and so began another day.
It wasn't long before I was reminded that I wasn't the only one who'd had a long, hard night.