Wednesday, August 12, 2015

San Quentin we're not

I've been without a computer for a few weeks due to my broken Mac but now I have a brand-spankin'-new MacBook Air so let's hope it inspires me to do some creative blogging.  Perhaps not tonight.  I need to ease back into it you know.

Our latest farm happenings are not good ones, though I've been feeling pretty great about things, strangely enough.  I guess it's a matter of perspective, hormones, frame of mind, etc.  My sweet previously-well-behaved-Rex (one year old guardian dog) has discovered what freedom feels like.  Roaming 20 acres of pasture, sharing space with good buddies, with food delivered every morning must not have been enough.  Yesterday some friends came over to make mozzarella with me.  In exchange for some cheese I asked them to help me move Jaz and Willo (mammoth donkeys) from the big field to our yard to hopefully prevent Jaz from foundering this fall.  After we closed the gate behind us Rex climbed right over and followed us across the road.  There he discovered delicious, feathery, flighty chickens, which he promptly attacked, leaving one of our roosters with only one tail feather.
Frustrated, I closed him in the basement with us until I came up with a solution to keep him where he belongs and till we were done making cheese.

My first attempt to dissuade him from escaping was to put barbed wire in the space at the top of the farm gates where he squeezed through.  James didn't think this was a good idea, for fear he'd get hurt trying to get through.  I knew anything less would be too simple a puzzle for Rex.  He's a very clever boy and it takes more than some twine filling space to keep him at bay.
Hoping I'd outsmarted my dog, James and I joined some friends in Roanoke for a relaxing outdoor Old Crow Medicine Show concert.  What could spoil a beautiful evening like this?  Um, maybe a text from Adam saying Rex showed up at the house and was again looking for a raw chicken dinner.  (It didn't really spoil the evening but it did create some worry).  He put him back in the fence, only to watch him escape again.  Ugh.  I told him to put him in our basement and I'd deal with him when we got home, which wasn't till 11:30.  Rex has never been a house dog so I expected him to have peed in the basement but I didn't see evidence of this on my inspection.  I took him for a walk on the leash, which he did amazingly well, not having been leash trained either.  Unfortunately he wouldn't pee whilst behaving beautifully on this leash.  After 20 or more minutes I gave up and put him back in the basement.

We went to bed and, unlike me, I slept very well, even knowing I had to deal with this in the morning.  I arose early with a plan.  I did another quick inspection of the basement, again, no pee that I could find.  I put Rex in the farm-mobile and headed to the field with a new determination and a little doubt of my competence as a farmer and guardian dog owner.

My idea was to cover all the exterior gates with tarps so his back feet couldn't climb the grates to lift himself over.  As I did this he watched me from the car.  I was sure he was studying how I tied the knots that held the tarps on.
I also electrified the top wire above the field fence in case he decided to climb it instead of the gates.  It's been 11 hours and still no escape.  I probably won't feel confident I've contained him for another few days.  Fingers crossed.

More proof that I'm not always the boss - I was feeding the pigs yesterday and Wendell got too excited and bit my forearm.  Luckily I withdrew my arm quickly.  So now I have bruises on my arm from boar teeth and other cuts from handling barbed wire.  Also of mention, last week Baxter killed a chicken after living amongst them for a year and a half.  Why would he decide to do this now?  I'm too weary to ponder this.

After a few glasses of wine and no dogs killing chickens or escapes today, I'm feeling quite chill.  Our farm may not run like a well-oiled machine but there's some satisfaction to be had from making it through another day with everyone where they belong and seemingly happy.

To be continued........

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