Jackson the dog seems to have a hard time knowing just what his job is on this day.
I had the Gator sitting along side the log landing and Mike started to move up the hill with the bulldozer.
Jackson would walk behind the dozer for a short distance, come back down to the Gator then back up behind the dozer again.
Finally, I put him and his brother out of their misery and started up the Gator. It was game-on and the second that I put the rig into low gear both dogs knew we were heading up the logging road. Since I only carry essential items to keep the payload as light as possible, the dogs are on their own and they would not have it any other way.
Going into the woods means a day of freedom for the pair and they prefer as little intervention from us humans as possible, unless we stop the dozer, the Gator or the saw for a bit and sit down. That’s when they want to be as close as possible, snuggle up when we are looking for a little quiet time, and want to place themselves in exactly the spot where we are.
The dogs are sure that the Gator is home base. They know that if they are on the Gator they will not be left behind when we want to do some chores, go up the hill, or just travel the fence lines.
Since the hay was already loaded in the back, Butler (with his chin on the passenger seat) and Jackson (flattened on top of the bales) wait patiently for someone to come and do the evening chores.
This is a common sight at feeding time and the dogs are on their best behavior. They know that their feeding time comes right after the cows feeding and they are not going to mess up that plan.
Jackson is known for his quirky personality, from riding on top of stacks of hay to diving into the river from the cliff edge. A bit OCD/ADHD, any thought or notion distracts him from what his good intentions were, except when he is in the woods.
While logging is going on, he is mindful of the dozer and the chainsaw and stays well away as work is happening. Yet the minute a tree is felled, he hops on to to walk along its length, many times he walks the log even before the limbs are cut off, weaving back and forth through his own little forest. Seems like he would much rather walk logs than on the ground.
This is his comfort zone, his playground, his forte. He doesn’t mind getting pitch matting his fur or oil on his back as he sneaks under the dozer for a nap when it has been turned off.
On those really warm days, he follows behind the dozer and when a new path has been gouged out of the earth, he lays down in the cool dirt. He is a very contented logging dog.
Blackberries are ripe and the critters are enjoying the sweetness as much as we are. Blackbirds swoop in for the top berries poking out of the top of the hedge o’berries. Grey squirrels can be spotted running from the hedge to their den under the bridge. When I whack back some of the long, 8 ft. barbed vines and expose the hidden bounty, the cows nibble the tender tips and exposed fruit.
The dogs don’t wait for me to clip back the thorny vines, they just dig right in.
On this day, only the back end of the Jackson can be seen as he is heard snacking and smacking on the sweet berries.
The barn is neutral territory for the dogs and cats on the farm. It has become the understanding that no dog shall chase a cat while on the premises and no cat shall tear any dog a new one when miffed.
The barn is cat home base. They live here and are fed here (these are the cats that also go along the brushy fencelines for vermin), but there is an air on dominance in the barn and the dogs respect the feline area, usually.
Today the truce is holding while the dance and sniff preliminaries are started. Jackson the dog is particularly checking out the new smells of nursing and kittens on both cats, and the cats are allowing indiscriminate nosing while purring and rubbing on the dog.
No combat activities today, all is calm in the barn.
Mike and the dogs have been running a set of mole and gopher traps in an effort to stop the mound-makers from reproducing during this busy time of the year. Once or twice a day, the trio head out to check the traps and reset the ones that have been sprung.
Mike can only have one dog free at a time with the second one tethered to the Gator because two noses in his business at the same time makes it difficult to set the traps.
The dogs are alternated so they each get the same amount of gopher morsels to eat with gusto. They do not like the taste or smell of moles and will not eat them.
While the boys are trapping, I keep busy walking around the pasture with a shovel attacking bull thistles.
Although they are only a couple of inches tall right now they can get head high with barbs on all leaves and on the purple blossom. The cows eat around the thistles growing in the pasture and as the plant gets larger, more area is wasted for feed.
Trees needing planted along the riparian zone this day had only me to do the work because everyone else had other important stuff to do.
So I loaded the John Deere Gator with seedlings, a couple of shovels, and extra rain clothes to stave off the inclement weather. Then I had to load the dogs because they were begging.
During the wet, rainy and cold day, I paused and realized my day alone was not solitary. The dogs were guarding the trees and Gator, the herd cows were close by just in case I decided to feed them some hay, and a couple of bald eagles were cavorting around between the hillside and the river.
There may not be good conversation going on, but it was an enjoyable day out along the river.