New beginnings

Marcus finally switched out the cattle for goats last night.  He’s a very busy man and it sometimes takes him days, weeks (months?) to get around to what he says he’s going to do.  It was fine because I was enjoying and still learning from the cattle.  I now have nine goats (four bucks, which are mine and five does) and four ewe lambs.  The five does will go back to Marcus as we get closer to the fall.  The bucks will stay with me until after Christmas as they’ll go up to my landlord’s Christmas tree farm to be part of the petting zoo.  Then they’ll go in my freezer.  I’ll get new calves from Marcus after the first of the year.

I said I wasn’t through learning from the cattle, and that is the truth.  Gel understands loading livestock.  He’s done it numerous times, but the only time he’s loaded cattle was using a chute.  I thought we had the cattle dog broke enough so that we could free load them into the trailer.  Nope.  So we put the cattle into the fenced in area and backed the trailer up to it.  While pushing the cattle up to the trailer, Gel got kicked.  Marcus said he got kicked in the shoulder, but when I examined him, Gel acted like it was the lower part of his right front leg that had been hit and wouldn’t put weight on it.  I took him out of the fenced in area (he didn’t want to go) and tried to get Marcus’  son to take him down to the pond so he could cool off and soak his injured leg.  Gel wouldn’t leave.  Marcus and I were trying to load the cattle on our own, but they kept breaking away.  I brought Fern in, but she could sense that the cattle were quite agitated and she wasn’t confident enough to work them.  Then Gel broke away from Marcus’ son and came back in.  We got them loaded.

I brought Gel into the house to give him some Arnica (a homeopathic remedy that is most often used for injuries from trauma).  I couldn’t find my 1M potency so I gave him a 30c.  Then I took him down to the pond and made him lie down in the water for about 15 minutes.  Marcus headed home and I brought both dogs into the house.  Gel would not settle.  He kept pacing and asking to go out.  At around 8:45 we went out and put up the ducks and checked on the sheep and goats.  All was well.  Eventually Gel settled down.

I wasn’t sure what this morning would bring, whether Gel would be lame or not.  I was very pleased to see that he was not.  I expect most people would have put him up in a crate to rest, but I think the constant motion helped him work through his injury.

Moving the goats and sheep down to the ElectroNet this morning was a trip!  I forgot how squirrelygoats can be.  Factor into that four lambs and you’ve got quite a difficult group to keep together.  Gel and Fern did a fine job until we got closer to the ElectroNet.  The sheep (and one goat kid) went one way and the rest of the goats and lambs went the other.  I sent Fern for the main group of sheep and Gel for the goats.  We got the sheep into the ElectroNet and I went to where Gel was holding the goats.  There’s a path cut through the fence that would have brought the goats over to where I wanted them to go, but they didn’t want to come through.  I went back with Gel and got the main group of sheep to merge them with the goats and then bring them back.  That worked.  After everyone was in the ElectroNet I did a head count.  Only seven goats!  Darned!  I told Gel to “find” and he started working.  We retraced our path back to the house.  We got back to where we started and I discovered one doe had her head stuck in fence and had been left behind!  The poor thing must have had her head stuck all night because I noticed she was in that area last night when I last checked on them, but I didn’t know her head was stuck.  When I got up to her, she struggled and got out on her own.  I had to carry water down to where the ElectoNet was set so I hooked up the wagon, filled the barrel with water and headed back down there, carrying the goat kid.  Gel was sill in “find” mode.  I saw him going into thick brush and not coming out, even when I called him.  I pulled up to where he was and called him out.  He came out, then went back in.  I let the goat kid I was carrying go (not a good move!) and she took off across the field in the direction of where the ElectroNet was set. 

I crawled into the brush, which was all but empassable, and dragged out the goat kid that was in there.  Good dog Gel!  I carried him down, emptied the water, unhooked the wagon and was heading up to look for the last lost goat.  Then I realized my camera, which was in my pocket, had fallen out.  Great!  Do I look for a $25 goat or a $250 camera?  I chose the camera.  Luckily I found it after looking for it for about 30 minutes.  We tried to find the goat kid, but were unsuccessful.  I knew I was already way late for work and needed to get my clothes off and into the shower.  I know there was poison oak in the brush that I had to crawl through to get that goat kid out (she was so tangled in vines that he likely couldn’t have got out on her own if she wanted to) and I wanted to wash up as soon as possible.  That the goat kid had headed in the general direction of where the rest of the stock was a good thing.  She’ll likely start bleating and find her way back to the rest of the goats.

I must add that the fog was incredibly thick this morning making keeping track of the animals extremely difficult.  I don’t think predators will be a problem during the day.  Hopefully the missing goat kid will be retrieved tonight.  If not, I’ll owe Marcus for her.  Maybe I should take the cattle back?  Then again, I was in constant fear of loosing the cattle and having to pay for them.  Goats are much cheaper! 

Marcus said that I could go over to his place and work the cattle whenever I want, but I think for the time being, I’m going to keep my dogs on goats and sheep and leave it at that.  Now that my panels are done, I’m going to work on a pen this weekend.  I was going to make it out of cattle panels, but I’ve decided to use lattice instead.  Most pens in competition are white in color, not that that makes a lot of difference, but the lattice will be lighter than cattle panels.  I’ll use 1 x 4 pressure treated lumber like I did with the panels to make frames for each side and hinge them together with hinges that have removable pins.  It should work okay.

I’m glad Gel was not badly injured by the kick.  I will not use him to load cattle in the future.  He isn’t strong enough on cattle to push them in tight places.  He has no problem working them in open areas, but in tight situations, you need a dog with a lot more push.  Fern may have it, but then again, I’m not so sure I want to put her in that position either.  Neither dog needs to work cattle on a daily basis.  Cattle can be extremely dangerous.