Tess Rescues Bear!

Robert Denlinger Jan 2, 2001

So how's your farm weather been these past few weeks? If you're like me, you noted when your horses coated up early and right thick, that it might be abnormally cold. Well, that's turned out true enough.

One additional problem created by the sub-freezing weather, now going on six weeks, is that Tygart's froze plumb across! Wellll, that's my southern "fence", if you please. Except in the lambing paddock. I did put five-wire high tensile there, but that's another problem. Since the new "Interstate Tygart", ALL of my LGD's are exploring. I can't stop it and I can't stop the repeated attempts by the coyotes to get to the ewes. We've just started lambing here.

This morning, I herded the ewes down to the far-end, about a mile away ... maybe a little less. Bear went. Callisto went. Tess, too. Three BC's did the work when allowed by Tess and Callisto ...and THAT's another problem too

It was about 20 degrees and some light snow was falling. That's trailing off and we've a warming trend at last (so I am told). I closed the ewes in but did not see Bear. He'd run to the far end of that paddock expecting to find the usual escape place --joke's on him though, because two days ago I blocked it off with woven-wire --mind you, with the frozen river/creek one just has to jump down onto the ice for escape right now. Anyway, Tess, Callisto and the BC's followed me back to the barn.

I'd intended to return shortly and start taking up the cross fence in anticipation of potential spring flood season. It may, or may not, flood - I hope it doesn't in light of last years tragedy - but if the cross fence is rolled back, at least I don't have all the branches and leaves to remove from it. And that's a very, very tedious chore, believe me.

So, one thing led to another, I got hay for this group of ewes who are about to lamb. I got water for the ewe that just lambed. I noted that butthead Pegasus was grazing on the other side of the horse-tape I use to keep them off the river banks (and out of trouble therefore) --the young Percheron colt is impervious to electric I guess. He's huge at only a year and a half old.

Next I gathered some fencing tools, tossed them in the 4x4 truck and headed back down there, driving this time, not walking. Callisto and Einstein went along. Once at work, Callisto and Tess made sure that various Gargoyles did not make their way to attack me. I never saw them, Callie did though. It was cold, in part due to wind chill. I'd stop and adjust my bandana over my nose and lower face. Breathing warmed air was decidedly nicer.

At one point I heard a Kuvasz barking. The sound was from over there by the "Straight" , a place where Tygart makes a straight line once past what I call the Triangle. I asked Callie, "What's that girl? What is it?", trying to get her interested. She alerted and answered it. I assumed Tess was onto a scent of a lost Beaver.

So I went on working, maybe ten more minutes, and again adjusted the bandana and stuck my numbed fingers in some pockets. Again the rather insistent barking. "What's that Callie?", I asked again. Same responses. I chilled as if someone walked over my grave as it dawned on me something was wrong. So I tossed the tools in the truck. Callie and Einstein jumped in ahead of me. Off we went careening over frozen ground and a few snow drifts. Along the way, I saw some "Pointers" in the form of two mustangs standing at alert and facing the Straights, albeit a hundred yards perpendicular. I aimed for what they were looking towards and began the slowing-down process to make sure I didn't become an amphibious 4x4.

Tess was screaming down there but I hadn't reached the edge where I could look down. When I did, I nearly died! There was poor Bear, slightly the other side of mid-stream. He's fallen through the now-thawing, ice! Oh Lord! The terrible look on his face as he was desperately trying to scramble up towards me. He wasn't moving that fast either. Hypothermia, I'd assume was setting in. Lord knows how long he'd been at it too.

I grabbed my lariat (always have that) ...tried a few times, but he was out of reach. I sat on the bank and tried the ice - and fell through myself. Callisto saw him and ran down the bank to help. I grabbed her and had to physically drag her to where I could tie her up. She was insistent on going to help him. I didn't need another rescue to try.

Einstein said he didn't "Do" water and remained in the truck anyway. That left Tess, on the ice, and Bear, in the freezing water struggling to get out. And me trying to think of what I had that would float me out there. I kept telling Bear soothing words --kinda trying to let him know to hang on and I'd figure something out ---didn't want him to give up staying alive -- But what the heck could I do except just jump in and wade/swim out there?

About that time, Tess made her way to the far side. She barked at Bear a lot. And somehow- Lord I don't understand how - somehow he focused on her and moved that way. He was much nearer the far bank -- that's a steep hill that's about 400 feet of a steep incline seen in some of my pictures when I am looking towards the Triangle –

Anyway, the ice was thin enough that he pawed through it and somehow got a paw-hold --- And climbed out!!!! He staggered a lot --shook off a bit -- then followed Tess along the bank-ice to a spot where she ran across to me. Bear seemed very reluctant but tried it anyway. He's heavier than her by twenty pounds. I gave him words of encouragement to come to me. As he walked though, you could hear the ice snapping, as it does when it's getting thin. Yet he moved, and moved, and made it to the bank on my side.

Bear was too weak to make the climb it seemed. He stood there, ice snapping and me fretting. So I laid down and asked him to reach to me. I made a hold on his scruff and offered support for him to use as he tried to climb up. And he did!

Once back here, I toweled him off and gave him some warm food. He's shivering and a little dazed. The funny thing was that Tess licked him and cried a whole lot as I was soothing Bear while toweling him off a bit. She seemed to realize he was distressed.

Well, I'm warm now, Bear's on the rug with Tess. And I have to finish that darned fence business before herding the ewes back here. Going to be a problem till the ice is all gone because Badger and Abbey keep escaping at night to chase off coyotes. Burns Allen has seen them, twice, running a pack of coyotes off ---down the river ice, up river!!

Temporary Duty Sets 'Em Howlin'

Robert Denlinger Jan 4 2001

This is. sort of, an extension of the Bear-On-Ice game. So now, every time I hear barking, AND I can't count *Five*, I speed to the river and spend time convincing myself that none are flailing for their lives. Did that three times today.

The *expected* thaw ---didn't. Parts of the river are solid, while parts are treacherous. Instead, we got some freezing drizzle.

I'd *Like* to put Badger, the fledgling GP, back into the lambing paddock, with Abbey, at night. Well, I'd *LIKE* to allow him to free-roam with the foraging flock during the day ---BUT, he follows Abbey --Abbey takes a swing here, a swing there and returns. Unless, that is, Badger exacerbates her *Swing* and adds to it --Lord only knows what trouble they'd get into, given the state of the, now passable, river barrier (ex-barrier).

And Bear, well forget it. He usually follows me all through the days work, adding a small detour here and there as LGD's seem to do. So now I tether him with me.

Callisto and Tess have been allowed to sleep and warm up in the house, of all things! This keeps them from organizing a five-LGD recon mission to cross the ice. Which I bloody well know all of them would do.

SO, this afternoon, I sleuthed the entire perimeter of the lambing paddock. Let's call it somewhere a little over four acres. The only place I *think* Badger can escape from was along the river fence. That is, there are, or were, three possible *slink-under* places. So I took some T-Poles and drove them in appropriately. Then I lowered the lowest Hot-Wire a tad. He simply cannot make it under without getting about 5000 pulsed volts. Period!¡ Nor through it either.

Then, nearing late afternoon and darkness, I decided to return to the old schedule. Abbey and Badger in there. Tess and Callisto doing whatever. And Bear to make sure no one even thinks about coming near the horse barn or the house while I am sleeping. In that routine, Callisto will run out, as much as a half mile, and take on things trying to cross the Ox-Trench path that the coyotes use. Then she returns to the horse barn area. Tess usually follows her. If I hear Bear barking AND I can hear Callie or Tess in the distance, then I get up and get dressed.

So, with that in mind, I set Badger and Abbey out. Boy, Badger sure was happy. Abbey and Badger went into their LGD-Only eating area and chowed down. Abbey checked on the newborn lamb. Badger wondered what it was but lost interest. The ewe-mom noted Badger's clam, nonchalant attitude and allowed the nursing to continue. I was happy --and left.

Passed by Thomas who was looking at me like I was in trouble. Well, I was, it was past the time I give him a couple gallons of Oats and let him into his Stallion stall. The guy's always right. He's fourteen. He knows the drill. I should learn it I guess. Finished that task and Sheir-Kahn reminded me about putting her up too. Geeze .

Out of the horse barn , walking south and looking in horse pasture - WHAT??? BADGER???? WTF!! (I wasn't a happy camper ...) He greeted me happily. He's a nice fellow. He stands up, nice and tall and now can look down and lick my face. Seems yesterday it was just straight into my face. Such a nice little chap. I'm six-foot BTW.

So I had to put him back into *Jail* for his safety. Went to the house and fed the Evil Witches. Then they gleefully followed me to the lambing pasture. Abbey took the chance of the open gate to excuse herself. This pleased the witches since Abbey is decidedly the Alpha here. Abbey laid down by the horse trailer and surveyed the horses awaiting their chance to come in. I tried, in vain, to remove some more cockle burrs from her coat. You know, I busted several grooming rakes trying to do this. Danged things are ALL made in that place across the pond without any form of quality control --China. All break. What do you people use that doesn't break on tough jobs??

So, here it is night time. It's cold, there's a pale moon reflecting off snow --eerie. I hear Abbey barking rather *too much*. Sometimes she just does that, you know. Must be a GP thing. She'll sit around and offer a bark here, a bark there, then pipe down a while. But then, we have the Bear-On-Ice thing to remember. So I grab a flashlight, jump in the 4x4 and head to the river - the direction the echoes are coming from. (My Lit. Prof. in college would have had me write "from which the echoes originate" but you won't mind the transgression will you?) Landsakes --there she lays, curled up in the shallow snow out in the middle of the big field, happy as a pig in a mud bath --offering barks here and there, listening to her echoes. Go figure!

Badger is in the X-Pen wailing and whining something terrible because he's alone. Well, he's not alone. In fact, he's two feet from several expecting ewes on one side. On the other side are two more X-Pens with the BC's. But that's a problem too. Cae likes it when he howls so she howls. Patches, Mister Hyper (but VERY good at herding) bounces back and forth and YIPS at Cae in the adjoining X-Pen. Tess and Callisto, are at this moment, along the bottom end of the lambing paddock complaining to the river, I guess. They are very loud, very insistent. Very annoying!! Bear is on the rug by the TV. He had chicken as we ate it --giving him pieces. He's by the heater outlet now and asleep. Could care less

Can't figure how Badger got out again. Really. I suppose he is actually able to LEAP the darned fence. A Jumper ---just what the heck I needed --a Jumper!! Hope you all sleep well tonight. Sure won't be any here. LGD's are very annoyed when you change their personal routines around without asking them. I'm hearing Kuvasz barking through the window now --that shouldn't be --can't be! Tess and Callisto are on the other side of a berm, the other side of the house and the other side of the garage --from this room I simply can't hear them here ... But I am ....

Abbey on Point. Callisto joins attack

Robert Denlinger Jan 5, 2001

As I mentioned last night, I was thinking that Callisto had removed herself from duties with Tess in the Lamb Paddock. I was right, but, as usual, she had *just cause* to do so.

When I went outside, Callisto approached rather sheepishly. I guess she knew I'd be upset she wasn't where I put her. Yeah, that's right, I was.

However, as I was reaching down to greet her, I heard the, not too distant, roar of Abbey. Oh that quiet and timid Abbey! She was across the river on Allen's broad bottom-land (again!). Judging by the tone of her voice, she was quite upset with things. But at that moment, I counted four or five coyote *voices*. They'd be just west of Allen's barn over there, maybe ¾ mile from me, direct. And she'd be, oh, somewhat this side of Allen's cow barn, maybe a half mile, or less. Those critters were really going at something!

Well, she *was* just laying in the middle of our field. I assume now that she was facing the hollow that the Allen-Side Coyote-Pack uses to egress their lair. Yup, that'd be right! Little devil must have known they'd be up to something. And I guess that explains why all the rest of the LGD's were unsettled too, earlier that is. I hugged Callisto, who was whining at me as she does when she believes something's amiss. I thought it over. Couldn't decide what to do. Should she go back into the paddock with Tess? How'd she get out? So I took her back into the place with the ewes and Tess.

I walked the perimeter, flashlight in hand, looking for escapes. There is a four foot seven-bar I have in the river-line, useful if I want to take a water pump to the river in the summer. Callie was staring at it as was Tess. That gave it away! See, Callie squeezes through gates quite easily by going sideways through the bar openings. Silly me! should have remembered that. May also be how Badger gets out. So I went back to the barn and got my handy-dandy clip-wire gadget I made. Once back to the gate, I clipped the hot wire to the gate - you get the idea - the trick does work.

I've caught her , and others, several times in the past, as well as horses who like to lean on gates in the cross-fences out there (won't work at the barn for a number of reasons I won't list) Still, should I leave her *In* or turn her out to go over and help Abbey? I could still hear the fracas. I could also tell that Abbey was getting closer to them. They clearly were not heading her warnings to stay away ---Her idea of *Stay Away* is "In another State!"

Geeze, I could loose both to the ice or to the road, later in the night if they didn't come back on the farm ...what to do? Couldn't rightly let Abbey take on a multitude of coyote's alone either. And she clearly seemed to be heading that way --and they were clearly going at something or other ... Bit my lip several times musing the tactical situation. Callie was whining ....and barking towards Abbey ... I decided to loose my proven battleship and set Callisto out. She barked-hopped-curled tail ---and ran down the river slope, crossed the ice and ran towards Abbey's voice. I lost sight of Callisto in 50 yards due to brush and leafless trees in the path of visibility, on the other side. But I could hear Callie's "I'm coming" bark. I could hear Abbey's deep warnings. Soon, the two voices were apparently together. The game was afoot!!! I stood there, getting colder, listening --waiting for the inevitable clash --but got too cold and tired to continue. Off to bed I went, hoping they'd both get back safely.

This morning I noticed Abbey resting on the horse ramp. Callie, I could hear on the deck, warning gossamer bandits over there. Checked both girls and saw no blood. No wounds. No limping --nor torn coats --so I assume the two at least scared the coyotes away since they both have proven track records of refusing to allow coyotes near them. Consider that last thought. *You can't be near me!* Abbey shouts. Yet Abbey continues to run towards the coyotes!! It's just a funny picture in my mind. I'm running at you and you'd better be running away from me or you’re history --and I'm a faster and more powerful runner!!! If they're not dead, there must have been a lot of diarrhea in the coyote pack as they scrambled for their lives ....