During the summer time when daybreak begins before 5am, it is easy to get an hour or two of work in before its time for the morning chores. This time of year it is harder to get out real early because more time is spent fumbling around in the dark than getting any decent work accomplished. The dogs would much rather I stuck to the early morning schedule because they use this time away from the dangers of the county road as their personal fun time. Even with a later start time, the dogs are happy any time they get to run off leash. They watch the hillside for coyotes, they run hither and yon across the pastures, sniff for moles and gophers at every mound, and are basically on their own to keep busy. Continue reading
I have talked about the Gator being ‘home base’ for the two dogs that go with us during our daily farm chores, out into the woods, during the firewood project, when bundling in the barns and when working in the riparian. Both Jackson and Butler are eager to get into their regular positions with Butler riding on the front while Jackson prefers the back.
We can have chains, cables, sledge hammer with wedges, baling twine and various tools cluttering up the front yet Butler will still find a way to sneak into the conglomeration as he waits for his driver. Jackson doesn’t care if the bed is loaded with a stack of hay bales four high, chunks of firewood, buckets full of tools for repairing equipment, chainsaws or a baby calf, he finds a way to ride and really enjoys it when he is on top of however many bales of hay we have stacked. He prefers to doze while he waits, many times it looks very uncomfortable to be stretched out over bumpy chunks or resting on a chainsaw motor but that is how he rolls.
On this day we happened to have the front of the Gator fairly cleaned out so Butler had a good spot to wait. The bed had a tied, half-bale of hay that we were going to go feed. While Butler waited patiently with his chin resting on the bench seat, Jackson broke the string on the bale and snuffled around until he got a comfortable nest to rest in for the duration. Both dogs would have been happy to stay at home base for hours but we headed out to work shortly after the pictures were taken.
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It was a crisp autumn day, the sun was shining and the wind had finally stopped blowing. A perfect afternoon to split up a few chunks of wood to feed our outside wood-fired boiler. We have wood stacked in the woodshed and an extra supply outside the woodshed already, but I had a few big end pieces that had been sitting around by the log landing that needed to be cleaned up before winter.
The dogs, Jackson and Butler were busy with their own tasks of chasing a grey squirrel that had holed up in the limb pile and was chattering noisily. The sounds of squirrel chatter sends the dogs into a frenzy and the game is on.
While I attended to the wood, the dogs could be seen going round and round the limbs, twigs and rotten wood. They would stop and dig for a while then stick there nose in as far as it could go before moving to another spot to try it again. A couple of times the squirrel would pop out of the pile and scamper over to the trunk of the large maple tree at the other edge of the landing where he apparently has a vacation home set up. The dogs follow to try to extricate the squirrel, but the vacation home is as armored as the limb pile.
Between watching all the excitement I was able to get about a Gator load of wood chunks split small enough to fit the boiler and began loading the bed. Two pieces of wood were loaded before Jackson, all tuckered out from squirrelling, commandeered the bed space for a much needed rest. I could not get him to move so I stacked a few pieces around him and called it a day. I figured that wood will still be there tomorrow and maybe by that time the dog won’t be so tired.
Jackson and Butler, the two farm dogs, keep us company while we are working. They complain and pout if we go across the river for any reason and don’t take them along. The John Deere Gator is a sure fire clue to the dogs that someone is about to go somewhere. If we head toward the Gator, the dogs perk up and begin to anticipate the next adventure.
On this day, Mike had just completed another crib to hold firewood. This crib was fashioned with a regular sized pallet for the base and salvaged wood from the house that we tore down about 10 years ago.
It fits nicely into the bed of the Gator so it can be hauled across the river where a stack of wood is waiting to brought inside before the rains begin that are expected to last a week. Continue reading
This time of year, with the fresh fruit on the apple, pear and plum trees, we are not able to simple load the dogs on the Gator to begin work for the day. Both Butler and Jackson will forego the immediate loading procedure for a quick run into the garden to see what tree has dropped some fresh fruit during the night.
Jackson will grab a piece of fruit and run head-long and jump onto the Gator before he begins to eat. Butler will stay with his fruit until he has every last nibble cleaned up before he heads for the ride. He has figured out that we are willing to wait as long as needed before heading off to work for the day.
The John Deere Gator is home base for the two farm dogs, Jackson and Butler. They know that if the Gator is not parked in the shop, there is a good chance that a farm task will be worked on soon and the Gator will be part of that task. Neither dog wants to be the last one one the Gator.
On this day, the bed of the Gator was filled with large tubs of kindling for our firewood project.
Neither dog was able to get into the bed with it already being full, so they did the next best thing and made do with the smaller space on the front where the passenger legs area are supposed to go. Once on board, these two stood stock-still for about 10 minutes while patiently waiting for a driver, neither one attempted to sit on the seat because they know that the bench is off limits.
When the dogs were little they both would fit in this space easily with still enough room for a human. Now that they are full grown it is a little tougher, but they are not about to lose the chance to go to work. And just who needs another human passenger anyway?
Springtime is when the varmints become more active. Mounds from moles and gophers begin appearing out of nowhere. Aside from the critters disturbing the roots of the grass we are trying to grow, they create ankle-breaking depressions(dangerous for cattle and humans) in the grazing areas. Continue reading