Abbey Leads Ewe-A Home
Robert Denlinger - Sept 29, 2000
I pulled her from the market lamb group and put her in a nice cozy sheep stall back at the lambing shed. At the time, I really doubted she'd live. She was curved in a "Right" direction and had little or no control of her limbs. BUT, she "Baaa'd" alot, had a great appetite, and nuzzled me when I held her up and massaged her limbs trying to get her to regain control in them. I fed her by bringing in fresh grasses and clovers, plus a lot of grain, mineral salts and water.
Well, she recovered nicely. BUT, the little Ewe was given the romp of the place around the horse barn, lambing shed and house. Soon she to on a Princess attitude. She'd follow me around. Then she'd follow Abbey around. Not long after that, I'd see her resting somewhere directly aside Bear or Abbey. If the LGD would move, Ewe-A would get up and dutifully follow. ---Everywhere -- Like a mile down the pasture even!
This afternoon, I was doing the usual feed-routine. Nets here, Nets there, this mob and that. When I'd finished dodging the Ram in where Tess' (Kuv rescue) DoglLoo was, I fed and groomed her. The BC's were carrying on and finally jumped into the bed of the truck. "Let's see", I mused. "Bear has jumped inside and has his mouth open in front of the air condition vent. Typical!".
"Abbey is under a tree". She was outside the net, roaming of sorts. Actually, Ewe-A had followed her down here. "Ewe-A!!!" ---followed by "@#$-!!!@#%^ --EWE-A !!!" -- no where to be seen. Tough luck. And I left. Headed through that gate and then through the calves field.
Now this one is dicey at best. Two of he heifers like me and gallop to see if I brought grain. EVEN THOUGH I JUST GAVE THEM some. I needed to get through the next gate without them dashing through. Worse yet, Rosie was on the other side "thinking" she remembers the alfalfa field is "Just through the next gate if I remember from last Fall ...hummm should be easy enough ..."
So I get out of the truck, leave the door open for, uh, safety reasons (mine) and think about opening the gate. The calves sprinted at me, loving little creatures they are. (SO, OK, I have been scratching their withers and rubbing their necks. So What? ) Bear sees me try and wave them off. So I looked silly? Bear, always looking for sport, charged them in grand Kuvasz style. "I'm mean! I'm bigger than you .."
They didn't buy the story and the one-and-a-half horn heifer dropped her head at both Bear and me. Callisto sprung from the back of the truck and read chapters from her Esterhase "True-Grit" manual. Well, she looked fierce. Bear looked realistic. To me but not the calves I guess cuz they charged. mock-war style. Playing I think, but not fashionable at this moment.
I ran. Bear saw me and ran. Callisto took two or three more hops and a lunge at legs ...then ran. They gained ... Oddly, Bear and Callie turned around and were then between me and "them". They stood some ground, perhaps playing a clever LGD bluff. But it worked. The young calves skidded to a stop ---young? well I'd say they're at 800 pounds by now.
I got the gate open, Rosie read my agitated mind and departed. Fast! She didn't like the action anyway. The calves went into "Graze" mode like the game had ended. I closed the gate.
I looked back and saw two white figures trotting along the nicely mowed pathway. They were just entering the middle-field from the alfalfa field where Tess and Badger are. It was Abbey in the front and Ewe-A right on her trail at a slow trot. Her ears were waggling back and forth and she seemed at ease with everything. Abbey led her over to that shallow runoff trench that goes under the 6 wire electric fence. That's the fence that is along Ox-Trench if you forgot.
Well, what do you think happened next? Abbey has been using that path to get through into the field. She easily ducks under the wire. I should have thought of that and repaired it. Didn't though. I didn't see how Ewe-A could get under that. But, sure enough, she went to her knees for one stride and was still on the tail of Abbey. Guess they've done that one before??
Abbey took the formerly Lost Ewe-A all the way back to the main horse gate and waited for me to arrive and open it. Once Abbey saw Ewe-A through to, what she imagined as "Her normal place", she went and laid down in the shade of a tree by the pond. Tell ya, that little GP gets into and out of the darndest places and sure covers a lot of ground in one day. I keep seeing her checking on me (or just what the heck I am doing). She'll just "Appear" then I'll turn back and she's gone from sight for another long while.
Anyway, thought some of you would appreciate the fact that Abbey knew that Ewe-A certainly shouldn't stay down in the alfalfa field alone. Especially since the coyote-probes have been increasing these past few nights. How she found Ewe-A I can't guess. In fact, how'd Abbey even know to go and look down there for her?
Subject: Stockguard: Abbey's Lunchbox
Hey, before it's too late, I need to write this down ---data for my book. (What book? True, no time and I can't write)
Do you have an assortment of dog-food-bowl/containers ??? I use a common sorta-plastic round thing that's about two-quarts worth. They're three, or so, inches high and, maybe, eight or ten inches across. Good for giving Ewes some grain at lambing --whatever. They're cheap and can, kinda, withstand Rosie playing fussball with them.
So I go around, every day, and try and collect them so I can feed everyone. The BC's are easy --they're in the X-Pens. The LGD's are another story. This story, in fact.
Callisto will usually grip hers and take it to the stoop in the front. From there she can see up towards the lambing/foaling paddocks. She can see the main gate. She can see down there towards Ox-Trench.
Bear puts giant paws around his and watches the Triangle to make certain the Dog-Food Police don't make a waterborne assault and get it. Worse yet, the Beavers!
Well, Abbey .....Abbey's something between a Princess and a pain in the after section when it comes to trying to feed Her Highness. I've tried two gallon buckets --like a human nutcase that I am, I assumed she'd carry it by the handle. Heck, I DO!! Abbey picks up her food bowl, lets it dangle down, and walks off to eat in private!! PRIVATE ---good grief Abbey, we're alone in a forty acre field!!
So, the next afternoon, I have to search around and find it. Well, yesterday, I put it near Tess' sheep mob and that netted area. It was a pleasing little place, in the cool shade of a cedar thingy. Nice grass bedding of laid over Fescue. There was even a nice breeze. No matter where I am currently feeding the LGD's out there, Abbey always knows when and where. She'll appear out of no where, bounce over in a timid fashion seeking, I guess, my tacit approval to approach. When I give it she seems so very pleased with herself.
Abbey followed a few feet to where I set it down and said "Abbey's Food!". She waited for me to back away then started to eat. This is normal. She then looks at me to signal that it's "OKAY to groom me now!" --So I do. Then I depart after a short few minutes. Now, I've seen her trailing along, on the sidelines, in the past. I've thought that she likely didn't eat it all and will return after dark. I'm pretty sure this is right based on some other observations.
This morning I was driving the team out. We went down the sort incline of the gravel ramp and into the field. Going down, no matter how slightly, the "Girls" will always speed up and bunch up too. I used to "check" them but now just let them run out. They eventually decide a trot pulling a big disc is tiring and settle down.
Well, this morning, Cassiopeia hunkered sideways and into Rosie, near the bottom of the approximately thirty foot slight incline. Well, hey, I don't know about your driving, but it's hard enough to see the forward track when they are "Spread". I mean, hey, the "Girls" are over two thousand pounds. Not fat --but big broad rear-ends leading to heavily muscled legs. I sit rather low and behind and need to see between them. Or it would be nice if I could anyway.
Well, Cassiopeia scrunched into Rosie and cut the view off. Rosie, being the mother of and dominant over, Cassie, got perturbed. I was wondering why Cassie went "away" from something and made a mental note to search that side, on the ground. Alas, I had my hands full soothing Rosie with some soft words she likes. But I did notice an oval black thingy fly past as we were moving out. Didn't give it another thought and we went off to do field work.
This evening, I was out there to feed Tess, Badger ---and, of course, Abbey. Also I have to recover yesterday's feed bowls. (Black Thingy's if you're slow tonight) The pasture is green --the bowls are black. The pasture is chaotic --the bowls are nicely geometric. Easy to find therefore ... Yeah Right!! I looked high and low --NaDa !! Zip!!
But I fed Abbey anyway with the Black Thingy I had for her. Some nice bones from the butcher. Some nice kibble with my secret brew on it. (Past season's extra Lamb-Milk-Replacer powder --they all seem to love it) After I convinced the Calf pasture gargoyles that I had an offering for their "gods", I was able to get back into the horse pasture. I'm getting to where I can see the "T-Bone Steak" clearly outlined on these highway bandits --and I reminded them of that today too!!
Approached the ramp and Voila!! The missing Abbey Lunchbox!! On the Ramp!! That little twit carried that bowl about eight-tenths of a mile, under three gates, back here!! Did she mean to say "Hey Master, it's empty whatcha gonna do??" Or was she doing "Carry Out"? I'm dead bang certain that since Abbey DID do this, there is some real life logic in it or she wouldn't have wasted the time. Really! Some sort of GP logic. I can't figure it out yet. But I see it as a form of communication and I MUST figure it out! That's the kind of thing I do with my horses and it has paid off over the years. Figure out their communications and use it --not make them learn mine. "So, uh Abbey, Your Royal Highness .... were the bones with meat satisfactory Mum?”