First week home, January 2012
Rex is a Great Pyrenees/Pyr mix of some sort. His pink nose is the big giveaway that he's probably not a pure Pyr, but his personality and instincts are ALL PYR, for better or for worse. As you probably know, if you've read this blog much, Great Pyrenees are a breed of Livestock Guardian Dogs, or LGDs. LGD's are 99% instinct, having been bred for a thousand years for single purpose - to protect their charges. Noble though they are, this take-charge attitude also has a downside - intense pigheadedness. LGD's are notorious for disrespecting personal space and property lines, answering instead to their highly tuned senses and instincts about where their dominion begins and ends, and who/what poses a potential threat to their humans and critters.
Knowing this full well, we shored up our fencing before we even adopted Rex. Much like a toddler will gleefully hone in on the one thing that you missed in an otherwise airtight, baby-proofed room, Rex let us know pretty quickly that anything short of chain-link and barbed wire would not deter him from exploring the whole of North Olympia at his leisure. So we patched, and re-fenced and fortified until, at last, it seemed like we'd tightened up our borders sufficiently.
Every once in a while, the lines were still breached. Usually, a careless kid or a half-frozen gate latch was to blame, but lately, Rex was escaping like clockwork from parts unknown. We wouldn't realize that he'd even gotten out until he pranced his fluffy butt right past the front window, proud as could be, right down the middle of the road.
And of course, he does not come to his name once he has tasted sweet, sweet freedom. Instead, he looks at you over his shoulder, does a playful bounce, then takes the hell off, like it's a game. It is infuriating.
So after he'd demolished and weaseled out of the fence about a dozen times this week, we felt that we were out of options, and had to install a run. Today was his first day on the chain gang, and he was none too thrilled about it.
Who would think to take advantage of the fact that our guardian was tethered and effectively useless? Why Mr. Coyote, of course!
At a quarter after twelve this afternoon, just as I was getting ready to go and get my hair cut, I heard an almighty ruckus erupt in the chicken yard, followed by a trio of panicked hens running across the driveway. Uh-oh.
So I run to the chicken yard in time to see a young coyote hauling ass through our bog. $%@*!!!
The chickens are in the driveway, perched on top of the fence, and running around bocking like mad. I try to take a quick inventory of who's there. I'm not seeing Sir Peckins, Gracie or Cotton. After another minute of searching, I find poor Cotton, our only Cochin hen.
Cotton, in happier times.
Determined not to let the @$$hole coyote have what is left of her, I scoop up her still-warm, fluffy little body and bring her back to the driveway, where I stash her away in an unused trash bin until Bill and the girls can come home and bury her. I still can't find Gracie or Peck.
I attempted to round up the rest of the chickens, but even with the bribe of fresh bread, they won't come into the coop where I can lock them up safe. Then I think, my goats!
Kidding time is potentially close, so my does are extra fat and unwieldy, and at any given moment, there may be babies on the ground and the smells that accompany a birth that would serve as a powerful attractant to a carnivorous predator. Great.
So I fetch Rexy off of his run and onto a leash, and we slip and stumble our way through the mud, up to the goats' pasture. Nine out of nine. All present and accounted for. Whew.
I'm reluctant to go back inside while this jerk of a coyote still lurks around who knows where, but my knees are beyond trashed from the unexpected scrambling and trudging along side of and being pulled by 75 pounds of excited dog. I decide to check the chickens just one last time. As I try, once again, completely fruitlessly, to round up the chickens, from about 9 feet up in a cedar tree I hear a flutter and then see Miss Gracie descending. Oh thank you, patron saint of chickens, whoever you are.
And as I'm about to give up and head on in to ice down my knee and call my neighboring farmers with a warning about the coyote, a shrill and fervent bocking erupts from behind the coop. I check to see if the damn coyote is back, and instead I see an out-of-sorts Sir Peckins, frantically making his way back from the far end of the chicken yard. The bastard coyote only got the one hen then, and in the end, he won't really get her, as we'll bury her deep under the big alder tree.
It's slightly nuts how such a physically and emotionally exhausting half hour can run you through the entire spectrum of emotions - anger, fear, sadness, determination, relief, thankfulness - and, for all it takes from you, leaves you more certain than ever that you are in the very heartbeat of your calling. To know this property and my critters are the things that I know and that working with them gets my blood pumping with purpose gives me another level of peacefulness and determination in going into this surgery and following through with the rehab and PT that it is going to take to get me well and truly on my feet again and outside working my farm.
Bring it on. :)