Well, I have written about my good working farm dogs for awhile on our FB Farm page. I figure that I should start giving these stories a better suited home. Forgive me for bringing you in not-from-the beginning. The beginning was a while ago and the now is fresh for writing. Here's to new beginnings! The story below is called "Sheep Monopoly."
Fall on the farm is busy! So many stories slip past never written, but they never seem to stop happening! Like the coon family that kept ripping open feed sacks that Benji and Lorna have been eradicating one at a time. Or the skunk that, thankfully, the dogs alerted us to without assuming the very likely consequences without a sound set of lay and stay skills!
Everyone gets excited on the farm in Fall. The dogs turn about barking and playing and chasing each other like a furry tornado of spinning leaves. They are exhilarated by the change in air and temperature and assume their new tempos in perfect time.
It’s not just the dogs though. It’s time to settle the ewes. Pens have been carefully planned and the rams introduced. The dogs routinely shadow us during chores in case any of the hormonal boys get any nasty ideas in their heads. My children can feel comfortable in the animal paddocks with such faithful friends watching their backs. Even so, sometimes a ram will lose its head and begin to be foolish. Today, one did.
Oh - the rams know better than to mess with the kids, but today one decided to continuously pummel an innocent ewe. Why? Who knows. Frustration at breeding season is an uncertain thing. My Finn rams are fairly predictable. This ram was not a Finn and was not in the mood to question his own drives. Perhaps he wanted the ewe’s share of food, or perhaps he was frustrated that she was already bred? All we knew is that his behavior had to stop right then! The other day when this happened, Benji stepped right up to the plate in no-nonsense fashion and drove this ram into a stall for safety’s sake. Today was Lorna’s turn. We knew that this ram would need to be put directly into the same stall - “Go directly to jail! Do not pass go. Do not collect $200 of grain.” type of deal! All went well. The other sheep were eating in peace while the ram was separated and we were able to care for them as they needed. Until… Offending Ram decided no gate was too strong for him! Apparently, his grain was not good enough for him. He wanted it all! Where was that $200 fodder?
Lorna typically lays while the sheep eat. They are accustomed to her presence and eat peacefully. Today was different. Today, Lorna pounced to action. The ram thought the gate would make a difference to their relationship. Even though Lorna was standing at the closed gate and barking, Offending Ram head-butted full force on our steel gate. Lorna was not deterred. Using that wonderfully problem solving brain of hers, she quickly amended her plan and decided to nip that great wooly head through the gate and demanded order! Offending Ram was stunned… then thought better of his blatant lack of respect and decided glowering in the back of the stall was a much better plan since that promise of stolen goods seemed impossible with such a furry dog wall in the way. Apparently “Dog-Wall” was stronger that the steel gate that he had quickly bent in 2-3 blows. How could that be? Lorna stood to hold the line while Offending Ram was considering his lack of options.
In the end, the ewes ate in peace and were happily released to pasture again. Offending Ram was released humbled, while our family walked back to the house in safety. Offending Ram will not be here much longer. Such is the way of things on the farm, but Benji and Lorna will stay. They will pass go and beyond, and we will never be able to compensate them for all that they give us. One could say that Sheep Monopoly is their game, but this is not exactly true. They only act with this force when needed. Just yesterday, Lorna was licking one of our ewe’s ears. Our collies want to be friends, but are not afraid to practice tough love. I feel, however, that the word “friend” is not strong enough.
This blog chronicles our very full life here on WoodSong Farm. We will share everything from dog to sheep stories, unique wooly works, to animal husbandry tips we pick up along the way. I hope this helps to give you an idea of what our extended farm family and wooly projects are like, and that we may somehow benefit everyone who reads about our journey.