Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Esther was ignoring me as I tried to take pictures of the little pumpkin patch growing in the donkey pasture.  Zeke, in the background, was also pretending not to know that I know they have been eating blossoms off of the plants.
This is one of two volunteer pumpkin patches that sprung up on manure piles.  Usually the donkeys don't bother the pumpkins until they are fully ripe and in the past they have ignored the entire plants. This year, however, they've finally realized how tasty those pretty flowers can be.  They nibble them right off at the top of the stem.
They have missed a few.  This one might yet get a chance to fruit.  It makes no difference to me except for amusement - should the pumpkins mature I would let the donkeys eat them anyway or carry them over to the oxen yard.  It is just another fun thing to observe on my morning rounds.
And next time I'm out I'll flick the sleepy sand out of the corner of Esther's eyes.  Both donkeys stand quietly at the gate as I clean at their eyes each morning.  They love the attention, usually pushing each other around to see who can get their turn first.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


We ran by the farm of our sweet friends, Jeff & Kim, yesterday.  Jeff had a few bushel baskets of cull watermelons for us.  When we got back to the house I shared many of them with the oxen and donkeys but left two bushels next to my car.  This morning I discovered that Buddy & Bart, the two sheep who are currently in the front yard, had spent a little time working at the melons.  This is Buddy doing a bit more sampling.
I decided that rather than let the two sheep eat a bushel of melons a piece I'd share some with the Dexter cattle.  I flipped a few over the fence and walked to the stable to fish some newly dyed wool out of a pot.  When I returned I discovered that Ravi, one of our Anatolian Shepherds, had been disturbed by the melon and felt he had to protect his livestock from it.  He buried it.
I have no idea exactly what he was thinking but he looks very content with his work.  Perhaps he feared the "bloody" look of the inside of the melon would draw predators. Or perhaps I'm giving him too much credit for his reasoning skills and he was just being a stinker so that the cattle couldn't enjoy all of their treat.  Either way, he had carefully raked pine needles up and covered the melon pieces.  I sure wish I would have seen him doing it.  He's one interesting fellow!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Doing Their Job

Our Livestock Guardian Dogs are fascinating.  It is amazing to see how protective and perhaps even tender they are with the animals they are to protect.  The other morning I went out to do some chores and noticed the geese were distressed.  I could see the gander and one of his geese in the back yard but they were separated which is unusual.  I didn't see the other goose.  The ones I found were anxiously turning their heads and almost sneaking around the yard.  The two LGDs who happened to be in the yard with them at the time were acting like they usually do so I didn't think they had been chasing or misbehaving toward the geese.  I walked all around and finally came upon the other goose hiding in the grapevines.  Her feathers were ruffled and she seemed a little disoriented but when I walked her out she rejoined the other two.

As I walked the yard to figure out what had happened I found small piles of goose feathers in several spots.  The last spot was right against the woven wire fence that is part of the oxen pasture.  The neighbor's woods are on the other side of the oxen pasture.  It looked as if something had tried to drag the goose across the yard but left her behind at the fence.

We had heard a little commotion with the dogs in the night but it ended rather quickly so we didn't go out.  Sometimes they bark when they hear the hound up the hill baying so we don't always jump up at the first noise.

We watched the geese the rest of the day.  The goose who'd apparently been attacked showed no external signs of injury but continued to lag behind the other two geese and seemed disoriented.  That night we heard the dogs again so Al immediately went out.  All of the dogs were in their appropriate pastures.  The dog that had been in with the geese was right against the oxen fence barking towards the woods.  Every other dog on the property was up at the edge of its pasture also barking towards the woods.  We believe we had a fox visit.  That would also explain the goose incident from the day before as the fox would have dropped the goose and run once the dogs started after it.

The goose was dead the next morning.  We let her lay out for a bit so that her companions would realize that she had died and would not search for her.  Later in the day I walked out to discover that the dogs had done their very best to bury her body.  Although it is not a pretty picture, I am amazed at their desire to protect the rest of the animals in their pasture by hiding a dead body that might draw predators.  Years ago when one of the cows died of old age down in the woods we discovered Regina, our oldest LGD working hard to hide her in the pine needles.  God has certainly programmed them to do a remarkable job in trying to care for their charges.  And it looks like time to do a little fox hunting here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Well, There You Go.....

This is not where Ravi, our male Anatolian Shepherd, belongs.  He likes to take his supper in the old barn where no one can bother him and I usually leave him a bit to enjoy the peace and quiet.  He scaled the newly-loaded-in hay bales and managed to make it to the loft.  I rounded the corner from gathering eggs to be greeted with this picture.

I went inside and tried to coax him down the very narrow stairs that run up to the loft but he would have none of that.  I didn't think it would be wise to try to drag him down as he is one big fellow and I don't have time to recuperate from tumbling backwards down a set of stairs.  I went on with my chores.  A half of an hour later he was down at the main door waiting to be let out to resume his duties.  Although he ate in the old barn again yesterday I don't believe he went up to the loft again.  And if he did, he managed to find his way back down without my knowing about it and worrying.  That would, however, be a wonderful perch for him to survey part of his kingdom from.....