Friday, February 29, 2008

Are You Scared Yet?

Meet Poe. As in Edgar Allan. (insert Jaws theme here) He'll be here in about a week. We had an opening for another "house mouser" position and we will be hiring Poe to do the job. As his team member, Salem will be training him in the art of catching a mouse and taking it into the bathroom (aka the torture chamber) and practicing the skill of "cat and mouse" before killing and eating the foe. Oh, yeah and the ever important gift to the gods: the head of your kill must be left outside of their bedroom. Since Salem has the mouse population living in fear, we rarely have a mouse enter the house but there are other skills to be learned. Laying around. Slapping dogs. Scratching on the walls. It can be alot of work but I think Poe will handle the job. In the mean time, we will leave him to his mommy and his nursing for one more week.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


He's coming in a few weeks.
Batten down the hatches...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On

Spring is just around the corner and we're all watching for it. It's been sunny and beautiful for over a week now and we can't help wishing for winter to be over. Even the duck has been waiting by the water trough, gazing out at his pond and willing it to thaw.Lambing has slowed down and we are met eagerly every morning by our two bottle fed babies. One baby was a triplet and her mother didn't have enough to feed her. The other baby was just plain old rejected by her mom who lambed in a back pasture and forgot all about her second baby by the time we got her into the barn. We tried to convince her that she had two but when the baby started to suffer we took her away and put her with the triplet. They now go everywhere together and have no problems getting their meals from a bottle.Skid is working on his behavior skills. He has some well behaved paw prints to fill since Chip is gone so we have begun with the simple basics. When we first started, Skid was a bit traumatized by being expected to obey, but his sit, down, and stay have improved enough for him to follow me around while I do the "non dog" chores.
Kit is also enjoying the warm weather while she is on watch. (she's just resting her eyes)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Goodnight Sweet Prince

I lost my best friend yesterday. I can't explain what Chip meant to me. My life had changed alot in his 10 short years and he was always by my side. As a young pup, he was troubled and needed alot of extra time. As is often the case, the ones that take the most work become your favorite and Chip grew up into a well behaved companion that I took everywhere. Rarely did he miss a day of coming to work with me no matter what I was doing. We had a good time together and I would dare say there isn't a dog on this earth who had a better life. It came quick. He was his usual self that morning but after eating dinner everything changed. He was clearly hurting. We rushed him to the emergency vet who did blood work and x-rays and gave him some medication but urged me to not make a decision until the morning. Chip and I spent every minute of that last night together. I was helpless to ease his pain and come morning there was no difficulty making a decision. He was ready to go. Our vet said it must be a tumor in his stomach. I held his face next to mine while the vet took him from his pain and this world. When I felt his last breath on my cheek, I kissed him one last time and left. Skid was waiting in the car with a little furry shoulder to cry on.

Good bye Chippy Chippy. You were a very good dog.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's New Pussycat?

Our house cat, Salem, is never satisfied. He doesn't know what he wants and complains about it very loudly. No, that's wrong. He knows exactly what he wants and he wants it right now! Unfortunately his wants change frequently. Most evenings, he wants to go outside - or comeback in - and then perhaps out again. I end up playing doorman or suffer the consequences. You say you wouldn't put up with that? Ha! You've never heard Salem holler. I guess if Salem was to pin down what he really wanted it would be a pair of thumbs.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Face Book

The lambs are coming fast and furious now. The dogs are quite willing to help and are often disappointed when they are left out of the pens. (pretend you don't see Laddie's tongue sticking out) There are times when they do get a chance to help. Sometimes it's just to be a cheering section for the lambs that end up needing to come into the kitchen for extra warmth or bottles. (yeah, his tongue is out again)Not all the work is being done by the humans and the dogs. We have voted this ewe as mother of the year. She's only a year old herself but needed no help with lambing and always knows where her lamb is. It only takes one call from her baby before she is by it's side.
Here are some of the new strong faces of the Alta-Pete lamb crop...
All Kit knows is that lambing is exhausting work.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Another Lamb Tail

As much fun as lambing is, it can be sad too. Some of the girls lose their babies but when all the pieces fall into place at the right time, we can give them a new one. Remember this ewe? She's been around a while and has always had an easy lambing. This time it didn't work out. She was expecting triplets. The first lamb born was a small one but the next two were large and stuck in the birth canal. Scott pulled them both out, but they were dead. Two days later the first born died too. She's a good mother and it wasn't her fault so when another set of triplets were born we decided to give her one. Triplets aren't exactly welcome by ranchers. Sheep can easily feed two lambs but if there is a third, it ends up not getting enough. They rarely do well unless someone (aka Jenny) walks out to the barn every couple of hours to feed it a bottle. So we took one new baby and left the new mom to bond with her twins. OK, here's where it gets a little tricky and well, quite a bit gross. You have to fool the faux-mom into believing this is her dead baby come back to life. (hey, it's sheep - they're not all that smart) In order to do that you gotta make it smell like her baby. You (aka Scott) have to skin the dead baby and wrap the new baby in the pelt. The new baby hasn't bonded with anyone and dosen't mind her new coat. She would be happy just to have breakfast so for her first meal we (aka Scott) roll the ewe on her back and make sure the lamb gets a belly full. The ewe doesn't know what to do with this lamb. It smells like hers but then again it doesn't. She keeps butting it trying to see if her lamb is under this impostor. The baby just wants to be loved but for the rest of the day we (aka Scott) will have to keep checking on her and make sure she's getting enough to eat until the ewe accepts her. Sometimes it can take a week. It's another "wait and see" situation. The next morning I snuck up to their stall to see what they were doing and I found this cozy and happy situation...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Happy Tail

Scott has declared Super Bowl Sunday an official holiday at our place. No phone calls, no visitors (unless they are there to watch the game) and certainly no work. But someone forgot to tell the sheep and they decided to drop a bunch of babies on us. During one of the pre-show breaks Scott found a baby that had been born outside of the barn in the snow and wind. It was only about an hour old and it was suffering from exposure. We decided to bring her inside to warm her up. If you haven't had sheep before then you will be unaware of what bad mothers they can be. If distracted, they can leave their babies and refuse to claim them afterward. Taking a lamb away this early can make them forget they even had one so it is a risk. We brought the little one in the house and wrapped her in heated towels and put her on the heating vent in our kitchen. (I know, I hate having them and all the straw in the kitchen but you do what you have to) We had to be careful not to rub her dry with the towels because it would rub all the mother's scent off of her and the mother would be sure to reject her later. We didn't hold out much hope that she would make it. The inside of her mouth was cold which is a sure sign that death is near. Scott milked the mother and brought in a bottle but this lamb didn't have the strength to swallow. All we could do was keep her warm and wait. By the first quarter of the game she could lift her head. I felt the inside of her mouth and it was warm!
She took the bottle and swallowed as much as her belly could hold. By half time, with her own cheering section rooting her on, she stood up and yelled, "Maaaa" (some people think lambs say Baa but if you listen close, you will hear that they are actually calling for their Ma) We rushed her out to the barn and her anxious Ma. Keeping our fingers crossed, we watched to see if she would accept the baby back but we had nothing to worry about as she contentedly nuzzled her lamb.