Animal Behavior

Bobtail2.JPGOh, wow, it has been a long time since I have blogged! In the blink of an eye, lambing season has come and gone, and I should write more about that! But today, here are some prized trail cam photos of a sneaky wildcat that lurks on a woodsy trail behind our barn. I’ve been getting blurry half-shots of him for some time, and keep thinking “is that a bobcat?”. But for some reason, the camera doesn’t catch him as easily as it does coyotes, which constantly come and go, and frequently pose for portrait-quality shots. I almost wonder if I’m placing it too high to catch this shorty kitteh?  (more…)


In contrast to the ease in which Quincy Dog has integrated into our household and farm, I submit to you, dear reader, this P.I.T.A. canine. She is coming up on her two-year-old birthday and is still quite juvenile. One day last fall, I was out doing chores, she had escaped again, and I heard a ruckus near the chickens. She’d caught one that had flown outside their pen. I started chasing her with the ATV and she bolted, chicken in mouth. I finally caught up with her in the tree farm next door. She was laying low, and looked like she was burying the victim. She bolted again and ran for home. I looked and looked for the chicken, but couldn’t find it. I retraced our steps, white feathers marking the trail. It wasn’t dropped anywhere. I drove back to the tree farm and walked the row where I saw her lying down. Only to find the chicken, stuffed head-first down an excavated tree hole. The chicken was relatively unharmed and wound up surviving the ordeal. But I had lost my patience. On a day that this crazy dog let me touch her, I nabbed her, and tied her up to a stake in the ground, like a dog in the seventies.  She was quite sad-faced about this new curtailment.Open-mouthed smile 


imageI’ve been stressing for a couple of years about a succession plan for our two remaining border collies, Maggie and Gene. They just turned thirteen and fourteen. Though they can still help with farm chores, their endurance is short, they aren’t fast enough to catch renegade sheep anymore, and they pay for it later- sore joints for a day or so. They love it and will want to do it til the day they die. But obviously that’s not practical. Yet, facing getting a replacement dog is also facing that they are getting old and we’ll someday lose them. That’s hard too.

I’d mentally waffled between replacement options. Getting a  young pup has the advantage that they usually bond best and make the best pets and companions. You can train them exactly how you want. Plus, you get the longest useful life out of them. But housebreaking a pup when working full time has its challenges. I didn’t think I’d have the time to put into that, plus also training the pup on sheep. Some border collies aren’t ready to even start working sheep until they are yearlings. I thought about whether I could send it out for training, but sending a housepet to a kennel situation for a month is a little cringe-worthy. Bottom line, a pup would be a big investment.


Lambs are arriving in a steady fashion, we’re up to 40 today. It’s mostly uneventful, but there are always some interesting developments. One situation surprised me.


EarlyLambsIs how long it takes for four rams to find five fertile ewes in a group of 120 ewes all circling in chaos. This happened last September, I was doing some chores in the field and driving back and forth between pastures. At one point, I only shut one of a double-gated passage, thinking I was going to go back through there in a few minutes. The mature rams are vigilant and watch my every move when I’m going through gates, and they don’t miss an opportunity. I must not have latched the gate securely, and they pushed it open while I was distracted doing something in the field. I figure they were in there for about twenty minutes before I was able to get a dog and wrangle them all back to where they belonged. Twenty minutes resulting in nine early-bird lambs born at the end of February. (more…)

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