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.
I am not wild about most bees. I am allergic to the stings, and while it’s not enough to put me in the hospital or have the need to carry epinephrine with me, I do swell up like a puffer fish and have discomfort for a full week after being stung. So usually I just try to avoid bees and their stings, with the exception of the honey bee.
I encourage the honey bees we have around here and regard them with respect for the valuable part they play in our ecosystem. Our tall fir trees that show signs of having bee colonies inhabiting old scars (referred to as ‘Cat Faces’) or forming mobile hives in the large leaf maples are marked and we refuse to cut them down for fear of chasing the honey bees away. Continue reading
Jackson, the wild and crazy, possibly OCD farm dog was in trouble again and was sent to LDP (Little Doggie Prison). His crime, sneaking out to the barn and eating the cat food. His punishment, tethered at his dog house while his brother, Butler, got to ride on the tractor to help feed the cows.
The tractor happens to have the rotary mower hooked to the power-take-off on the back end. The platform of the mower is the perfect spot for the dogs to ride when we take the tractor over the bridge or out into the fields. Usually both dogs are enjoying the ride.
Today it is just Butler and I sitting on the mower deck as Mike does the driving.
Butler knows when his brother is in time-out, he is in charge of the show.
He is very happy to be top dog on this day.
The other day, I was driving the Gator over to the outside feeders where Mike was smoothing the rock around the feeders. I had a rigid rake and was going to try to smooth some of the areas that he couldn’t reach with the bucket on the tractor.
It was my thought that I needed to park off the road as to be out of the way when he wanted to move the tractor back to the barn. I had Butler the dog in the front of the Gator with me and Jackson the other dog, tethered in the back. When I pulled off the road I didn’t realize that I had parked right on top of a ground nest of yellow jackets. As I shut off the motor, the swarm attacked poor Jackson and was buzzing the whole Gator.
I restarted the motor and slammed the Gator into reverse. Butler made a leaping to safety swan dive out during mid-reverse,. but Jackson couldn’t get away that easily. I reached over the seats and unhooked Jackson and he jumped over the side. He looked back only a moment to give me the stink-eye before running to the river to cool his bee stings. He spent most of the afternoon lounging in the water. Luckily he is not allergic and was back to his old self by dinner time.
Late summer and fall are busy times for bees and they are very active. This close run in with the bees has me more alert for wasps and yellow jackets.
These two nests were noticed as I was loading hay to feed the cows this morning. One nest was inside a pipe and the other one was directly outside the pipe.
Heading back to the house after a good session of fencing along the logging (skid road) on the top of the hill, I was noticing the dogs as they guided me across the top, around the backside of the hill, and down the winding roads out of the woods. The dogs would take turns in the lead while the other scouted off road for sniffs and wafts of creatures great and small.
As we broke out into the sunlight of the West side of the hill, the dogs started to kick up dust as they scooted in front of the Gator.
When we finally got to the final pitch that is the steep decline down to the hay field, the dogs picked up speed and the dust began a-flyin’. The dogs were making their way to the river for a quick dip and refreshing drink and their was no stopping them.
Their good-natured sense of guide dog disappeared quickly and we were left literally, in the dust.