My right hand.

As I headed out to milk the goats on Friday, with Gel right on my heels, I realized how much I depend on that dog.  I’ve been leaving the goats loose in the hitching area while I’ve got the two I’m milking inside.  There is sometimes a bit of fighting going on, but in general, they are pretty good about staying quiet and eating.  If a fight starts up and goats start to get slammed into the sides of the building, that’s when I ask Gel up to walk in and stop the fight.  Until he’s asked to do something, he lies in the doorway keeping the goats from leaving.  Until they are milked, there’s no way any of them would leave, but after they are milked, well, there has to be something better for them outside the hitching area.  With Gel as the “gate” they have to stay in.  Just walking in on them is enough to stop any fights so it’s a useful thing for him to do.

When I’m through, I’ve been doing a bit of packed stall work with him.  He still doesn’t like to work close and if I ask for a flank, he’ll go around the building, which sometimes works to push the goats out, but not always.  Now I make sure he actually comes in the building and flanks around.  Then they come out in a hurry, too fast sometimes.

We were going to get the opportunity to work different sheep today.  The ram we bought about a month ago is sold to a farm up above Statesville and we were going to take him today, but when we brought the flock up to sort him out, I saw that the fur had fallen off around his hock where Rose had chewed on him.  Shit!  I called and let the man know that we were going to hold on to him for a few more weeks for the hair to grow back.  He didn’t care too much about the hair, but given that we might get frost tonight, he’s working to get plants up so they won’t be damaged.  Two weeks from now will work better for him.  When we go, we’ll be able to work his flock of sheep which will be a good training opportunity for both dogs.

I used Fern to bring the sheep back down to the ElectroNet and she worked wonderfully.  On the way up, Gel was being overly pushy and I put him in the truck to ride down while Fern worked.  Ha!  The damned dog went from being my right hand to a hard-headed pushy beast.  It’s really quite alright, Fern needed to the work.

One of the Barb sheep that we got from South Carolina, the one I named Dreadlock isn’t doing so well.  I believe she’s quite old and I think we may come down to find her dead one day.  She’s been wormed so I don’t think it’s worms, she’s just an old ewe.  She can’t keep up well with the flock over long distances.  She was lagging behind on the way up and Gel was being overly pushy and was locked on her and wouldn’t let up.  Once we got to the ElectroNet, most of the flock went on their own.  Dreadlock and her daughter were left behind.  I told Fern to “look back” and darned if she didn’t look back and then go back and pick up the two Barbs.  She fell behind them and kept them going at a good pace without being up their butts.

Gel has good pace, but lately, I’ve been using him almost exclusively on the goats and the calf who really need a dog pushing them.  The goat that’s in for breeding and Fern and Fennel have been challenging him a lot, so he’s pretty ramped up right now.  Pace isn’t something he’s doing well at right now.  I’m glad to see that Fern has inherited his pace.

Petunia the pig has finished her work in the so-called winter garden.  I bought some Australian Peas that I’m going to sow in there to help improve the quality of the soil.  As I write this, she’s in the duck and chicken pasture rooting away.  I’m sure the chickens will be more than happy to scratch over what she’s dug up once we move her back down into the summer garden where she’ll likely stay until it’s time for her to be butchered.  Wally and I were discussing whether it was worth it to be raising a pig, but I think once we get the meat, we’ll be glad that we did.  I spoke to a processor about her on Friday and I believe we have a good idea of how we’ll have her processed when it comes time.

I am supposed to be in here cleaning the house, but not much has been done.  It is so dirty right now that it is a bit frustrating to clean it.  It’s cold cool and Wally is out mowing the lawn with a heavy sweatshirt, a ski hat and gloves.  Probably only one more mowing and that will be it for the year.  We went to two different Farmers Markets yesterday and got some vegetables and a box of scraps for Petunia.  Everything is winding down for the season.  It’s sad to see the summer growing season pass by, but I’m not so sorry to see the heat go.  I just wish it was warm for a while before it got cold cool.

Yesterday, Wally’s mother was moved to an assisted living facility and we went to visit her later in the day.  She was in this same facility when she has surgery earlier this year and this time, she’s in a much nicer room.  It might not be so depressing to visit her.  When she was there before, we brought Fern to visit and she enjoyed that.

I had better get back to cleaning …