Farm Tales

The adventures of Sassafras

Sassy as we call her, can and is definitely Sassy most of the time, she is also the sweetest dog you will meet kind and gentle especially with kids except she has a slight flaw she is very willful, mind of her own.

Sassy came to us when she was 4mos old, from the local Animal Shelter.  Her mother and father and two other pups were found abandoned in a wooded area far from any humans, left to survive on what they could find.  When they were discovered  by accident the animal shelter rescued them from starvation, a life no dog should suffer.

The dogs and pups were so emaciated they were quarantined for weeks receiving special food, medical attention, and most of all socialization.  It’s believed the dogs were out there for some time, possibly even before the pups were born.

Sassy is a “Maremma” guardian dog, pronounced “Mare” “Emma” the breed originates from Central Italy.

Both parents were large dogs; they and one pup went to a rescue in Oregon, Sassy and one other pup were adopted. I’ve always thought she was mixed with something, Border Collie or Australian shepherd she’s built like a border, although she has the disposition of the Maremma .

Sassy did on occasion and still does have this one trait that was rather odd she would horde everything and anything she found, usually it was something you set down.  We could search for it knowing she took it, we would hardly ever find the things until they would appear again when she would one day just have them, actually we believe she’s a klepto, on accession she lets her obsession get the better of her. She has an old leather boot that our son gave her, the boot is sometimes seen in the oddest places then it’s gone for months at a time, and poof back again.

We wonder if being raised out in the woods that survival was to hide everything you found especially food which for her that means everything she can pilfer as well. The shelter told us she was food aggressive with her siblings; we haven’t had that issue here.  She is a garbage dog, not the get into the garbage kind of dog but she might if she could. Sassy will literally eat anything dead, a bird, mouse anything, nasty habit I’m sure she learned it as part of survival as well. Needless to say, the vet knows us well for deworming medication.

Even with her quirks she is a good guardian her specialty is birds, sounds a little odd? Well if you read about guardians most also guard the sky, funny to say that but the chickens are most great full that Sassy keeps the hawks away from their pen, “No Soaring Allowed” by the order of Sassy.  She will chase any flying (yes flying in the sky) any large birds away from the property crows and ravens are her worst enemies.  She also sees to it no species of large birds can land in the fields, geese, birds of prey, egrets and sometimes a heron or two, but what  she can’t see,  she can’t scare away.

One of her favorite most things to do is to climb up on the dirt pile with her two favorite farm friends, Teeny and Max and watch the world go by, literally every car, truck, and piece of farm equipment is under her watchful eyes.  The neighborhood is hers, it also gives her a much higher perch just incase a large bird would dare to fly over on her watch.

Farm Tales

Farm Felines, Responsibilities on the Farm

Cats in general have a notorious nature of being nothing but bird killers, yes they will kill birds any size shape and kind to endure the feral life that many have. Ahh, but farm cats or let’s say some farm cats have a much bigger position on the farm, Chief of Rodent Control. Myth # 1, Don’t feed your cats or feed them very little and they will hunt. Myth # 2, Don’t spay or neuter your cats or they’ll get lazy and won’t hunt.  I can argue both theses myths from the farm’s experiences, our farm feline’s are fed twice daily, they are given their annual vaccations and they are spayed and neutered. Our cat’s are healthy, friendly, and love their jobs because they belong to a family.  They don’t have to travel for food to eat so they stay on the farm, their not scared to be around humans so their taking care of rodents at their home, they’re spayed/neutered which keeps them home. They choose rodents over birds, easier prey for them being more abundant.

Little “Amiss”, was suppose to be a male named Amos then discovered as a female, rescued from a feral mother cat living on her own, she let humans touch her kitties but not her.  When she weaned them, she left never to return leaving her litter for the humans to deside their fate. “Amiss has been with us ever since, unfortuantely she has a handy cap for hunting her color stands out so she can’t sneak up on them to much, except when you roll in the dirt, or it’s winter time.

Nickadeums, all black with brillant green eyes that glow in the dark (which is all you can see at night).    He is the master rodent catcher, most every morning he has made it his job to catch a rodent and bring it to show us what a great job he’s doing. He was rescued from the animal shelter as a wee little kitten with lots of spunk. Unfortunaly he was not very adoptable because of his color, unlucky and spooky they say their loss our gain he is a great cat, on occasion he will vist us in the house and snooze for an hour or two and off he goes on his next adventure.

OC ” Orange Cat” is our oldest at 14 years, she has decided her hunting days outside is over, she is now chief in charge of keeping all insects at bay in the house, and opening the kitchen cupboard door when an occasional mouse gets in a trap. Punkin color and shaped like one, she sleep most of the day either in the sun outside on the deck or somewhere else she chooses. She was given to us by a friend a rescue of course, the best kind. When she was younger she would sleep in the weirdest places, she’s to old to jump up very high so a low seat works best.

Many years ago she would sleep in the boy’s bathroom sink, the only one she’d slept in, she liked buckets too, good curl up spots.

Our farm cats are well loved, each with their own personality and job we wouldn’t have it any other way on the farm, our fourth cat “Doc Holiday” has his own earlier post please visit “Farm Tales” I’m your HuckeBerry” If you haven’t already.

 

Farm Tales

This Rooster wears fur

Ranger is the rooster in the hen house, except he wears fur , has a short fluffy tail, stand up ears, yes you guessed it he’s a rabbit.  We have 8 hens and no rooster, so Ranger has decided it’s his job to be the boss of the chicken pen. Nothing gets past him, his favorite spot is to sit up on top of the rabbit hutches so he can see what’s going on at all times.

He also likes to keep those hens in line, he sits and waits for all those chickens to get in their little group scratching and pecking at the ground then he decides to run through them and scatter the flock and scare the hens so they run and squawk like there’s a skunk in the chicken yard. Sometimes when he feels really in charge he sits in the door way of the chicken house and won’t let the hen’s in or out.

Ranger really is a good rabbit, well he’s just in charge and he want’s everyone to know it especially those hens, he tries to boss our other rabbit but she isn’t going for it.  We got Ranger from the feed store when he was a little guy, he’s still not a very big rabbit but he’ll eat out of your hand and he’s gentle  but sometimes he doesn’t want to get locked up in his hutch for the night he’ll lead us on a chase around the chicken yard which he enjoys he thinks it’s all fun and games.

Poka Dot our other rabbit is the sweetest rabbit , we adopted her from the local Humane Society.  She had been there a long time, she’s all black with just a dot of white on her nose. They couldn’t get her adopted because she was blind in one eye, and black nothing fancy.  I asked to see the rabbit that had been there the longest, and that’s the one I adopted.  She loves to run and play when she is let out in the chicken yard, she will come to you for goodies and will follow you till she gets some.  She has a forever home so life is good for her.

We raised rabbits for many years, but having these rabbits is different they live a life of not being in a wire cage all the time, they can dig and run and be free in the large area.  I like to watch how they are just being rabbits, they have dug a hole in the ground so they go down there in the summer to keep cool.  I got these rabbits to give the grand daughter something small to take care of when she comes, sometimes I think I got them more for me.  I put a bench in the chicken yard and I like to sit and watch them in their natural state being free.  They do each have a hutch with an upstairs “loft” and the down stairs has a outdoor area, they are locked up at night to keep them safe from predators.

Most animals like being in their natural “state” this includes domestic ones, so all our rabbits will have that opportunity , If for nothing else it gives me great pleasure to watch them be free and just be a rabbit.

Farm Tales

Horse of Different Color

Meet Augustus McCray:

Gus’s story began for us in 2010 when I purchased him as a five year old, I looked at and rode a few  horses before him but I decided to purchase him and I will admit he was a sympathy buy. He was five and looked like a yearling narrow in the chest and hip, in fact when I got him home one of my neighbors said, “Looks like you got a project” well not exactly . Gus was broke to ride green but he had seen some things, water, cows, and trail rides.  The “horse trainer” I purchased him from kept him in with another horse and the other horse was the dominant one so she got most of the feed he was pretty slim I wouldn’t say starved I would say lacking of everything he needed to grow and fill out.  Standing just at 14.2 hands, and less than a thousand pounds he was a little guy but he had a good size frame and I figured with some TLC he’d grow and fill out.

I purchased him in June bringing him up from the valley, it was still cold in our country so the poor guy had to wear a blanket, because he had no body fat to keep him warm. That’s something else he had to endure at his old home, no shelter from down pouring rain storms, all that changed when we got him to his new home.

He started to gain weight and fill out some, but he didn’t grow much making us wonder If he had been stunted do to his lack of care. He’s attitude changed  as he started to feel better he became the dominant one, we rode him, he was gentle on the ground and in the saddle but he was a tester one day he decided when I went to put the halter on him he’d bite me, lucky for me I was paying attention otherwise he probably wouldn’t be with us today.

Natural Horsemanship helped Gus get over his “I’m the boss” issues, because he know’s I’m the boss lady now. Horse’s first beginnings in life sure make or break a horse so to speak, you see I had another encounter with that “Horse Trainer” when I was looking for a horse a year or so ago for my grand daughter to learn on.  I traveled down to the valley again to try out a certain breed of horse “Haflinger”.

I went to a farm that raised them, and I was very much interested in this one mare until I went with the owner to get the mare out of the pasture. Back bone showing, thin and she just looked wore out, I was a little confused because all the other horses on the place looked in really good shape. So I made a comment about her condition, and how I wasn’t going to ride her in that shape. I was informed she had just come back from the “trainer” who was giving her a tune up.  With a little more conversation, bingo I discovered yep the same “trainer” I purchased the Buckskin Horse from. Now with little to no knowledge of horses you can guess what kind of trainer she was, little feed and a whole lot of chasing them around with a buggy whip to wear them down before she “trained” them.  I didn’t buy a horse from that farm, I figured If they worked with someone like that, I didn’t want anything to do with them.  I bought another mare, I’ll save that story for another day.

When we made the move to Oregon, Gus and our other two horses at the time had to be turned out on dry land pasture until we could get them moved to the new place. A very good friend and neighbor watched out for them for about three months.  The day finally came when we could go get them, so I had my horse shoer meet us there to give them a trim before they embarked on the journey to their new home. The horse shoer had the horses caught and tied to the trailer when we arrived, except I didn’t see Gus until I walked around to the other side of the trailer. But that couldn’t be Gus, he was two inches taller and was broad through the hip and chest, he had grown in those three months. He turned a darker shade of buckskin and all his markings got darker, all four legs were striped like tiger stripes.  Today he stands at 15 hands and weighs over a thousand pounds. He truly was a horse of another color compared to the one I brought home in a sympathy buy.

 

Farm Tales

Old Dogs

One of my favorite country songs is Old dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine by Tom T. Hall, this song has some really good lyrics , “old dogs care about you even when you make mistakes”.  How true that is dogs don’t judge us no matter what. Sidney is our oldest dog, she belong’s to our youngest son, he rescued her when he was 15 and she was 4 months. Sidney lives with us on the farm along with the other dogs, she has a pretty easy life but something or someone is missing and she knows it.  Oh she follows me around outside and I feed her and she goes for walks with me, and I take her to the vet to make sure she’s updated on everything but her one true love is not me.

She remembers the day a young man opened the door to her wire cage where she was being housed waiting for her forever home, she remembers how he got down on one knee and talked to her in soft words so she would trust him enough to come out. She remembers how he picked her up and carried her to the truck because she was too frightened of the leash.  She remembers the countless hours he’d spend with her teaching her to be a confident dog that walked on a leash, rode in the truck and came when you called.

She remembers when he left for college, she remembers when he came home and left again to work as a Fire Fighter every summer and yet each time he comes back she greets him as he never left. The bond between the two is pretty incredible, when my son is home she only has eyes for him.  She’s getting older and she can’t do the things she’d like, keeping up with the younger dogs when they run and play, but something she loves to do is ride in the UTV, she has discovered riding is easier on her then following.

Life for her is just about making her comfortable for the rest of her life, she has been a great companion for a young boy, and continues to be for a grown man. A forever home, for when you rescue a dog or any animal for that matter it’s not just them that gets  rescued.

Farm Tales

A little girl in dog clothing

All dogs are created equal in our lives, but you get that one or two that just capture your heart and soul.   Teeny is just that , she is a pint size little girl with a big dog attitude which means she can run with the big dogs and does. Half Miniature Pinscher , half Toy Fox Terrier gives her  a tenacious attitude, loves all humans hatred for  all rodents.  Teeny came into our life via our son that raised her as a pup, so we saw her regularly , circumstances changed and she needed a new home. At the time I was living in Tulelake, for four days of the week and traveling back to Alturas for three days until we got the house sold,  well for me being away from home, and especially from the animals wasn’t fun. I lived on the refuge which was a great opportunity to see all the wildlife in the evenings, however it got lonely after awhile, before Teeny.

Teeny became my travel partner, my room mate and my best friend, she went to work with me every day. Having her with me made me walk several times a day, even in the winter which was good for both of us, she also has a keen sense of whats going on around her so she spotted wildlife before I did, like the family of otters. On Wednesday nights we would go down to the local hamburger place and get a burger and fries to share, Thursdays we traveled home. We created a pretty strong bond spending so much time together.

She’s getting older, arthritis is creeping up on her with daily medication, that doesn’t slow her down much, but some days she does over do it.  Life on the farm for her, is overseeing morning chores, checking for rodents and hob knobing  with the other dogs, sleeping most of the day in the house on the furniture of course. Overseeing evening chores , when I’m home she’s outside with me doing what ever I’m doing, over seeing every project and riding in the UTV in the middle seat!

My little girl in dog clothing heart and soul.

 

Farm Tales

Old Cow Pony

In his day he moved cows from here to there, traveled many a mile with his rider riding fences, checking water holes.  Never complaining of his chore going to where he was told high or low he traveled the miles always reaching his destination .  Again to return another day moving along at a steady pace for his rider through the vast open country with nothing around expect sage brush, desert winds , cattle and an occasional band of wild horses.

A true friend he is, up early and staying up late always looking after his rider, placing each hoof to safety return them both from a long and dusty day.  His days of riding are through, he grazes daily in his older years, put out to pasture they would say. He moves slower, older in appearance in his 29th year.

He has days of grazing and enjoying a slow life are his.  He can look out to the mountains not far away and still remember many a mile he traveled with a friend that now takes care of him.

A well-deserved end of life for a dear old friend,” Buzz” the cow pony.