Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Little Education and A Phone Call

I am going to break tradition a little bit here to ask those of you out there to help, by making some phone calls...well, actually just ONE phone call.

My youngest son is a hunting guide by profession and several times has been asked by Wildlife Management to assist in what is known as a 'depradation hunt'. That means that an animal which is endangering folk has to be trapped or harvested. This more often than not, has to be done using dogs. Dogs are an essential element in safely and humanely researching and managing wildlife.

California, which often leads the rest of the nation, is trying to pass a bill to ban ALL hunting with dogs. People who have not participated in this have a very wrong idea of what this is all about. It is not a cruel or inhumane blood sport.
Following is a letter I think will help better than anything else to help you understand better. This has been taken from

What􏰀s Right About Hunting With Hounds:
By Josh Brones, President of California Houndsmen for Conservation
Senate Bill 1221 would ban the use of hounds to hunt bobcats and bears in California. The sponsors of SB 1221 allege that the use of hounds is inhumane, unsporting and unfair. Unfortunately, the information they use to support this bill comes from anti-hunting organizations that have no motivation to be truthful about the practice.
I have raised, trained, and hunted with hounds since 1986, and I believe it is critically important for legislators, the media, and the public to hear from people who actually hunt with hounds in order to truly understand and appreciate the many aspects of this time-honored tradition.
Here are 10 facts about hound hunting:
1. Hound hunting has been legal since the inception of the California Department of Fish and Game, and is relied upon to help meet management goals. The Department􏰀s own environmental impact documents consistently indicate that the use of dogs and radio telemetry collars does not threaten the survival or prosperity of our bear population. In fact, California􏰀s bear population has nearly quadrupled over the past thirty years...all while the use of hounds has been permitted.
2. Hound hunting is virtually the only form of non-consumptive hunting, and is very similar to catch-and-release fishing. The ultimate goal of using hounds is not the harvest of wildlife, but the enjoyment gained in training, listening to, and interacting with the dogs during the pursuit. As such, hound hunters often take fewer animals than is prescribed by the Department on an annual basis.
3. Hound hunting is a highly effective form of wildlife management. It allows an animal􏰀s age and sex to be determined before any attempt to harvest is made. It also allows a houndsman to determine if a female is pregnant, nursing, or has offspring so that they can be left alive and well in the tree.
4. If a hunter would like to take the animal for food, the close range of the treed bear allows the hunter to ensure that the harvest of the animal is very quick and humane.
5. Radio telemetry equipment is used to promote the welfare of the hound and does so primarily when the dog is no longer pursuing the bear. The equipment does not enhance the hound􏰀s ability to catch up to the bear, nor does it hinder the bear􏰀s ability to evade the simply allows the hunter to find his hound in deep canyons or mountainous terrain, or prevent the hound from entering into private property or upon highways. The use of radio telemetry would only be unfair if the radio telemetry collar was put on the bear, but clearly, that is not the case.
6. The use of hounds is a primary means of facilitating wildlife research. In fact, hounds are used in every one of the mountain lion studies currently being conducted in California. This is due to the fact that the use of hounds is an effective, stress-free, and minimally invasive way of capturing mountain lions so as to collect samples and fit them with radio telemetry and GPS collars.
7. The use of hounds is one of the most fundamental forms of hunting and can be boiled down to the houndsman, the dog, and the animal they are pursuing. The relationship between bears and hounds can be traced back to the origins of both species. The bear may decide to climb a tree, but it does so only because the instincts and physiology developed from its ancestors' interaction with the hound's ancestor motivates it to; this interaction is not stressful or harmful to the bear, and many bears fall asleep in the tree while they wait for the houndsman to come get their dogs so that the bear can go about its business.
8. The use of hounds for the hunting of bear and bobcat requires specially bred dogs, a tremendous amount of time and training for the hound and hunter, and an extensive amount of dedication and sacrifice on the part of the hunter. It is not a lifestyle to be entered into without an abundance of deliberation, nor is it an activity that is easy or without challenge. Any success with hounds must come as the result of countless generations of careful breeding of the hound and a lifetime spent learning about hounds and wildlife on the part of the hunter.
9. Our hounds are very much like family. In addition to the culmination of effort and money that they represent, the time we spend with them and the memories we share forge a bond that is very difficult to describe. The relationship between hounds and their hunters is similar to that of a parent and their child because we are often there when they are born, we name them, we raise them, we remember all of their milestones during their growth, we beam with pride when they have done well, we worry about them if they are lost, and we cry like babies when they pass on.
10. The use of hounds allows for the timely and accurate resolution of incidents involving threats to public safety or livestock by identifying, locating, and taking only the offending animal. 

You do not have to be a California resident to make this call, as it will affect all of us.
Please take the time to call (916) 445-2841 and Press 1 for english, then press 6 to talk to a rep. Very easy and just takes a second. Ask to Veto SB1221.

Let our grandkids grow up enjoying the same experiences we and our famiies got to, and help Game management do their job efficiently, for the sake of the wildlife.

I have disabled comments on this blog, as I am not looking for feedback, this is merely a request for action.
Thanks for reading and thank you personally, from my family and I to those who take the time to make the necessary call.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tastes Like Chicken-Raising our CornishX

Every year now, we raise ‘meatie’ chickens. These are CornishX  like you see in the grocery store, only they are NOTHING like the ones you buy. They are the same hybrid birds, but must be purchased as chicks, as they have been over 50 years in development and the big companies, such as Tyson’s, have a patent on them. But we can order day old chicks from hatcheries so that is what we do. These birds grow AMAZINGLY fast, from day old to table in 8 weeks.

They eat an inordinate amount of food and are known to have many problems due to their rapid growth and weight gain. Often they will, quite literally, eat themselves to death. They often suffer from heart problems and leg problems. They rarely survive over 12 weeks of age, many dying younger. A lot of people don’t like raising them because of their health problems and because...well, anything that eats constantly also poops constantly and they are a bit stinky, when cooped up.

Knowing they will not normally survive beyond 8-12 weeks makes processing them a  whole lot easier for me, of course, as I am not actually hastening their demise.  Our technique in raising them is a bit different than most, because of the Maremma Guardian Dogs we have. The first 3 weeks, the chicks stay in a brooder outside, under heat lamps. We started with 34 this spring.

 They have their food taken away at night and are checked daily for ‘pasty butt’ or other problems. They get ACV (apple cider vinegar) in their water and occasionally some hard boiled egg or other stuff which seems to help them out. Their brooder is cleaned daily with fresh shavings added back. Once they are 3 weeks old, they have feathered out enough and gotten big enough to move to their next quarters.

Assuming all the lambs have arrived and goats have finished kidding, we catch the meaties a few at a time and put them in a  big wheelbarrow for transport to the lambing shed. They get to spend a few days in there until they accept it as their ‘safe place’. After that, the gate is left open and they have access to the back yard. They do all their eating and drinking outside and the Maremma’s protect them from raptors and other predators. We used to have Great Horned Owls landing on top of the chicken coop at night, terrorizing and stalking the poultry, but since Bruno and Cletus came, they don’t  anymore, even though we can see the owls staring at us from in the barn. The dogs have been amazingly effective. 

This allows the meaties to free range at will, coming and going as they please, a much better option for us, than putting them in a ‘chicken tractor’. They are cleaner and get more exercise. With fresh grass and bugs to eat, the meaties are rationed only enough food to get them out of our way when we go to feed calves in the morning, and again at night. They learn pretty quickly that seeing me go outside usually means treats. They pretty much mob anyone daring to enter the back yard, waddling at high speeds to weave and bob between our legs as we walk. The free ranging made it a lot more economical to raise them, as well as healthier for them. The food they do get, is a high protein grower ration, to make sure their needs are met, but the bulk of their diet they forage for.

This year, we started with 34 meaties and ended up with 32. Not a bad record. 

The favorite meatie hangout this year was under the raspberry bushes by the rock wall. There was ample shade and moisture there to help them keep cool in the hottest part of the day. 

They ventured into the flower and veggie gardens when it cooled off and did a great job of keeping bugs away from the plants. This year there were 0 tomato hornworms and until the meaties were gone, there were no squash bugs. They were either not interested, or unable to keep up with the massive infestationof box elder bugs we get every year, but those didn’t attack my plants.

They spent their spare time begging for handouts from whomever dared venture into their territory.

Abby found it all highly amusing!

They had a great life, with all the room to roam they could want, protection, food and comfort. In the end, they were dispatched with respect and compassion in our efforts to make it as humane and easy as possible.

Sometimes folks ask me how we have the heart to raise our own meat. The chickens purchased in commercial stores have been raised in crowded conditions, usually in filth and without fresh air or sunshine.

photo from internet

 It wouldn’t take long to do a study on that to find how horrible the conditions are that most of these animals are raised in. Their end is no better. Our animals live a healthy, happy life, in as natural an environment as possible. Their needs are all taken care of and they are treated well and appreciated. The end of their life is well considered. Instead of dying a painful death of illness or old age, or the more common death  being torn apart by a predator, they are given a quick and nearly painless end, with purpose. I would much rather be one of my own chickens or sheep than a wild animal, or much, much worse, one raised in captivity by commercial farms. We know how they were raised, treated, fed and processed, all with the highest quality of care. We appreciate our meals more also, knowing where it came from and the cost to the animal. You just can't take that for granted like you can when you buy it at the store.

This year we invested in a WhizBang Chicken plucker. The hardest part of processing chickens is the plucking. It would take forever for me to get all the feathers out and with some of the older birds, I would get so discouraged, I would give up and donate it to the dogs, who would take it out to the pasture and guard it for a few days, as if holding a little wake, before they finally, with clean consciences, consumed it. Being able to process our own chickens gives  us the flexibility to decide WHEN is the best time, plus it saves us over $3 per bird plus the fuel it takes to drive over 200 miles to have it done. 

As we had 30 birds to do, we broke it down into 2 days. I put the first 15 in the shed for the night and locked them in, so we didn’t have to chase them around the next day and also so their crops would be empty. It’s a lot more sanitary and easier to do if they haven’t eaten for 8-12 hours. They do get all the water they want though. The first day took us a few hours as we were still getting the hang of things. The second day went much smoother and faster.

We used a traffic cone to put the birds in to dispatch them and bleed them out. They then went into a scalder, which was a turkey fryer full of water kept at about 145-150 degrees. Once the feathers came off the wing easily, two at a time were put in the plucker and about 45 seconds later they were completely clean. They then went to the table where we cleaned out the insides and finished them and put them into a large cooler full of ice water, to quickly chill.

Keeping the water cold, we let them sit overnight, the next morning we bag them and put them in the fridge for a day or so until the rigor mortis is gone and the joints move freely. If you don’t, the meat will be inedible. 

At that point we will freeze them. All the feet go in the freezer until I have time to ‘take their socks off’ and use them to make stock along with left over  vegetables and carcasses from meals.

All our birds this year weighed over 5 lbs and a few over 6. The meat is incredible.

I cut up one chicken into parts. The legs, thighs and wings went in the frying pan for one meal as fried chicken . One breast I cut up  for chicken strips for another meal a couple nights later. The other breast I cooked up to use in a chicken divan casserole and the back was put back into the freezer to use in stock. That’s a lot of mileage out of one chicken! The flavor and texture of these birds is also superior to anything you can buy, and there are no additives or preservatives put in them. They were healthier than commercial birds and we will have healthier benefits from eating them!

Now THAT is something to crow about.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Sushi, The Petulant Pet

Sushi has a new green halter

Does this halter make my butt look big??

"I'm bored..."

Let's PLAY, Mom!!!

Hey look, I'm a dog!

Whoopee!! Can't catch me!!

Round and around I go...

Oops! This halter is heavy!

Cletus, will you play with me??


Fine! I'll go play with Bruno!

Bruno, will YOU play with me???

Aww shucks. You guys are no fun.

I'm gonna go play with MOM!

Hey MOM!! Here I COME!!!

Let's play BUTT-HEAD!

...and now...

we'll play AIRBAG!!!

Mom won't play with me anymore...all I did was play airbag and she had a COW!

Doesn't SOMEBODY wanna play??

C'mon Bruno..puh-leeez??? 

Hey! I'll play!! Pick me! Pick me!!

I'm just gonna sit here and wear my new halter. I don't NEED any there!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Critter Sitter

I can make the most simple things complicated. It’s my own fault because of the life I choose to lead. Not having my milk cow, garden, critters, raising our own meat and making all my own bread, etc. or any of those other things I do, would make my life easier, but not very tolerable. My house would be cleaner and easier to take care of, but would not be home. 
As a friend recently said to me, “You are awfully high maintenance for a  low maintenance person.”

In order to get an injection I need badly, to combat pain, I have to have someone drive me 4 hours into town. That means someone else has to be here at the ranch to take care of my horse, sheep, goats, calves, milk cow, companion dogs and guardian dogs. No small feat.

The boss’ youngest daughter, now 17,  agreed to take care of my stock. This is a girl who can ride and rope with the fact she DOES ride and rope with the best and shoot a gun, skin a deer, doctor calves, stack feed, endear herself to both children and adults, clean houses as well as cook for a crowd and she has been driving a pick-up truck and trailer full of horses since she was 10 years old and operates a tractor, backhoe, semi-truck and excavator with competency. Basically there isn’t much she cannot do and do well.
All the boss’ kids learned to ride not long after they could walk and to drive as soon as their feet could reach the floorboards, since the ranch itself is 400 sq. miles and it is just a good thing for them to be able to do, in the event of an emergency.

Home-schooled like her 4 siblings,( the nearest school, 80 miles away, is a co-ed boarding school for high school age ranch kids) she now goes to the public high school, where they live in dorms Mon-Thurs, then come home to help with the ranch work on weekends. This, by the way, is a school where, in addition to attending classes, doing homework and competing in sports, the kids also do the cooking, dishes, cleaning, their own laundry, maintaining clean rooms and beds that are made and all the other normal things they would do at home and will do throughout their lives. They aren’t pampered, babied or mollycoddled, but treated with reasonable expectations and respect. They are hard working, hard playing, appreciate their family and live with integrity, compassion, a solid moral compass and powerful sense of humor. You don’t see much of this in our culture today, much to the detriment of our youth.

At  high-school dances, this girl kicks off her cowboy boots, hangs up her leather riata and steps into high heels. Her waist length hair comes out from under her Stetson and is loosed from its braid, long, loose curls cascading down her back. With an ultra feminine dress hugging her athletic frame, she leaves a memorable impression on everyone who sees her. She carries herself with class and has maturity, poise and discretion and has a dazzling smile. Rarely at a loss for dance partners, she does not compromise her standards. She is open to friendship but any young cowboy who tries to cross beyond that threshold would be wise to climb in his pick up and leave. The youngest of 5 kids, with 3 older brothers in wrestling, she joined the wrestling team as a freshman and was the only one to make it to the state championships...she didn’t wrestle on the girls team and the boys didn’t cut her any slack. She’s just that good. 
I heard she deflated one presumptuous and formerly pompous young man in front of his senior classmates by flipping and pinning a social event. 
She’s little but mighty and still quite a lady. She’s a unique kind of girl who is popular, but also respected, much as are her sister and brothers. They are the youngest generation of the family that we work for and have so enjoyed getting to know and admire. This country seems to breed this kind of individual. One of the close-by neighbors, who only lives 35 to 40 miles away, is purported to have been the Prom Queen some years back. She had to borrow someone's duster to protect her dress so she could quickly show her date how to properly skin a bobcat. Acrylic nails, dyed hair and jewelry aren't near as popular here as a good rope and a better horse. Teenage pregnancy isn't epidemic here, nor are STD's, but most kids know how to work a cow and drive a hay baler. (although our government is now denying them these opportunities, through the Dept of Labor, as they seem to feel it would better for our kids to spend their time playing video games and having sex.)

 The kids around here get along with their friends and thier friends' FAMILIES. 
What city people might call a common small town characteristic  "knowing everyone's business", we call it "accountability" and it's a great and much appreciated way to keep all of us on the straight and narrow, by people who know and usually care about us.
 This is still the real west and I am grateful for that.

I was happy and relieved that she offered to take care of my animals for the day, so I could get my much needed extra injection.

She came down the morning before we left so I could show her what to feed the milk-cow, horse and calves and who to turn-out-where, for the day, then in the evening, which calves get bottles, which goats get milked, how to set up the milker, milk the Jersey cow and all the rest that goes along with that, as well as how to clean the equipment.

At the last minute, most everyone from the ranch, including her dad, brothers and sister and Randyman were all called out to fight fire. Being shy of 18, she can’t go, so she was still able to feed for me.
I was a little anxious as I no longer drive if I can avoid it and it’s 250 miles to the doctor. It’s asking a LOT for someone to just ‘run you into town’.
Her mom volunteered to get up at 5 a.m. to come get me and take me into town. I was a little worried about going with anyone other than Randyman. Being in a vehicle for any length of time causes me a great deal of discomfort, as it usually ends up being about a 20 hour day, most of it spent in a vehicle. More than once I’ve employed the use of a wheelchair to make it through errands and I really didn’t want to do that, especially with someone else.

We had a great time, we went to a fabric store to pick out stuff to make dresses and rompers for my grandbabies. We kept finding more and more cute fabrics that I couldn’t make a decision on, so I bought them all. We laughed a lot, got our shopping done, neither of us was rushed out of the stores by exasperated husbands and I actually saved $500 at the grocery store, not having Randyman there throwing stuff in the basket, so I figure we are still ahead of the game, in spite of my indecision at the fabric store.

We made it back to the ranch around 2 a.m. We could see flames across the valley which looked to be on the winter pasture. It seemed as though it was traveling towards ranch headquarters, lighting up the skyline. We found out that the guys were all home from fighting the fire down south, so she woke them up to  have them check on the flames we saw. It was still about 30 miles away, so all the kids got up, helped unpack the vehicle and the guys went to bed, as they had to return to fire camp at 5 in the morning. 

I found a note from my ‘critter sitter’. It said things went well in the morning, but  in the evening things went a little differently. She had a hard time getting the milker working right, I guess the goats were mean and ornery like usual and refused to give her milk, but the cow was ok. The lid got stuck on the grain can and she apparently ripped the handle off trying to pull it open. I laughed when I saw that. She said she spilled enough water on the kitchen floor cleaning bottles and milkers that she should probably have whipped off her shirt and mopped it up. Everything was fed and alive so it was a success. She and her sister packed the big bags of dogfood into the house for  me and the following day she packed all the huge heavy bags of livestock feed to the milkroom.

It’s the first time I’ve left home in 2 months but it felt good to be back. EmmaLou and Mister were happy to see me. Cider and the Maremmas were beside themselves.
Too bad I can’t order groceries and give this particular shot to myself so I never had to leave, but at least it got done and we had a good time. Doc says I should notice an improvement by Wednesday. I think it started working sooner than that, because I was able to walk thru all the stores on my own power...maybe laughter really IS the best medicine.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Stirred Up

Every now and then God stirs things up in my life, reminding me to be grateful. Today was one such day.
Due to my Ra, I have not been able to lay down for several weeks so have had to sleep sitting in a chair. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, THAT became so uncomfortable I couldn’t stand it, so I headed to the bedroom and was actually able to sleep an hour or so laying down! Mostly because of fatigue, but the pain wasn’t nearly as severe as it has been, so that was the first thing on my thankful list.
Randyman got up at 5 a.m., to load 300 bales of hay on a truck to bring home for the critters this winter. It’s been very hot lately and there was no one to help him. He did it anyway, then came home and unloaded it. It took him 13 hours. He did it because that’s the kind of guy he is. So I also have him to be thankful for...which I am everyday, because it is a total blessing to be married to him.
Around noon today, I ventured out to the corral for no particular reason. I saw Sushi trotting down the alleyway toward the dry corrals by herself. I thought that was really odd and couldn’t think of any reason Emma wouldn’t be with her. I hollered at Randyman who was unloading hay and he just shrugged his shoulders. I figured, well, she will come looking for her around feeding time, surely. She’s been really good about coming home at night.
The boss had headed to town and his truck broke down about 2 hours away. He called Randyman to come and help him, as Randy is the ranch mechanic and jack of all trades. I was home alone to feed the calves, goats, sheep and horses and milk again knowing Randyman wouldn’t make it home for hours and hours, likely after 10 at night.
I went out to feed early as I was concerned about EmmaLouMoo. She still wasn’t there. I decided to go find her in the big pasture she is in, which has some pretty rough terrain. I drove the 4 wheeler all over, through ditches and dry streams full of big rocks, and over hill and dale. I spent over an hour, with no Emma to be seen or heard. I went back and decided to take Cletus with me. He went sniffing and searching and we looked through all the willows and places that had not been accessible on a 4-wheeler. NO Emma. I got back on my quad and headed towards the old abandoned milkbarn. The field is level there and you could easily see a cow if she was out there. The grass on that side is about 3 1/2 ft tall, and not very edible, plus the ground is real boggy. I headed up there anyway, but I was worried about getting mired down in the mud and just as I was about to turn around and head back, I saw her...
Her little face was peeking up  just below ground level. Her eyes were wide and expressive with both hope and terror. There is a long, deep trench, only the width of a back hoe bucket. It had been dug down deep until it seeped water, with some poplar tree branches set in last winter, in hopes they would root. They didn’t. But the trench filled with sucky mud. She was mired down almost to the top of her back. Her bag, her hips, her brisket were all sunk deep and she was unable to get out. I grabbed my lead-rope that I had brought with me and attached it to her halter. I thanked God I had left her halter on her. I hitched the rope around my hips and leaned into it, pulling and screaming for Emma to try and get out. It took awhile but with a lot of my pulling and her struggling she managed to get  traction from the steady pressure on her head and she got out. She staggered forward and I watched with trepidation to see how serious her injuries were. Her entire bag, belly, hips, tail and brisket were black with mud. She was weak and it looked like she hadn’t eaten or taken water all day, so she must have fallen in early that morning. That would explain why Sushi looked like she had not eaten by noon. Had Sushi fallen in with her, she would have drowned as the mud was much deeper than she is tall.
I unhooked Em and went back to check on Sushi, knowing Emma would be worried about her. Sushi had left the corrals again to look for her mama. Unusual, but she was clearly hungry and afraid. Cletus and I went all around the pasture and the willows again looking for her, while Em made her way to the dry corral. I hoped they had met up and would be there so I could tend to Emma’s needs. As I drove up the lane, Em was heading back, in a panic. Sushi was not there. Emma was frantic and panting hard, moving as fast as she was able, in her weakened condition, out to the pasture to look for her lost baby. I followed her and watched sadly, as she croaked out her call. She had lost her voice. I assume she’d been crying for help most of the day and I had not heard her. She looked so pitiful. She stood in the midst of short grass under a tree because she couldn’t make it any further and her mournful cry was repeated over and over. I had turned off the quad and sat on it in the upper alley, waiting to see what would happen.My heart was breaking for her as the prayers of my heart continued winging their way to heaven. 
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something red off to the left where the alley turned and went down the hill. I glimpsed Sushi as she dove into the weeds. She had gone down there and hidden herself in the deep brush and grass. Emma was so weak, her voice couldn’t carry far enough for Sushi to hear her. I ran and grabbed Emma and had to DRAG her back towards the alley and corral. 
My poor little cow acted heartbroken believing we had given up the search. I could only imagine how she felt. I sent Cletus down the alley and he found Sushi and followed her back up in the manner of a good LGD, without coercion, just encouragement. Em was still distraught, but Cletus and Sushi followed us all the way to Em’s corral. I tied Em up, washed the worst of the mud off with a hose and Sushi went to nursing, making up for the many meals she had missed throughout the day. When her belly was full and round and her little face was black and muddy from bumping the bag where I had not been able to get Em completely clean, I took Em to her hay feeder and left her there to fill up on the good alfalfa which Randyman had just brought home that day.
I took care of the other animals, fed leppies, locked the sheep in and got the goats milked and as I was bringing the last goat out, I could see Em’s sweet little muddy face looking through the window. I let her in and she quietly took her place in the stanchion. She didn’t seem much the worse for wear. I used up rag after rag cleaning her bag, and milked her out. 
I thought about all the ways it could have been a different ending.
If Em had rolled over when she fell into the ditch, she would have drowned before we even knew she was missing. If she had been facing the opposite direction, I would never have been able to help her get out, plus it would have put her front end lower than her hips and she would have suffocated.  If Sushi had fallen in, she would not have survived. If Sushi had stayed with Em, I would not have gone looking, assuming she just didn’t feel full enough to come in for milking and she would have likely died in the night. Em could easily have been seriously injured, breaking her pelvis, or a hip, or leg, or even her back. Actually, the chances were greater for her to not have survived, than to have turned out the way it did.
My nephew lost his dog to parvo this week. I have been keeping the Maremmas in until I could booster them, to give them an extra measure of safety. With them being absent on patrol the past few nights, the coyotes have moved in close again.I could hear them right by the barbed wire pasture fence. If Sushi had remained out in the pasture alone at night, she would probably not have survived the night. I'd have found her ravaged and destroyed by predators instead.
I looked at  Em. She was happily lovin’ on Sushi. She seemed peaceful, content and grateful, perhaps even thanking her Creator and counting her blessings.
I know I sure am. 

Sometimes we have to be reminded of how things really could be, to maintain a grateful heart.