I’m Not Gonna Hurt You, I Only Want to Chew On Your Neck.

 

The J&A Chicken Ranch, the place I call home, is stocked with 2 dogs and 14 chickens. 

Natural enemies, they are. 

The dogs live in the fenced backyard and the chickens live in a chicken pen and garden shed close to the backyard.  Somedays I like to let the dogs out, and somedays I like to let the chickens out, which leaves a logical deduction that someday they’re going to be out at the same time.  I would hate to raise my chicks to survive the  bitter cold, dangerous chicken hawks, and an owner that leaves them crushed under the water tub all day, only to be massacred by tame dogs.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to introduce the dogs to the 9 week old chickens.

My practical approach has been taking the dogs to the chicken pen, shaking my finger, and yelling “NO, NO, NO!” for at least 3 hours at a time.

My husband thinks no matter how many times I do that, if they are ever left alone, Drew Miller will kill them. 

Drew Miller is my killer hound, my head of ranch security, notorious ’round these parts for polishing off possums, slaughtering skunks, and going a couple rounds with any porcupine dumb enough to stick a bunch of quills in his face.

When Drew Miller sees the chickens, he tenses, his ears go up, drool runs from his massive jowls, but  when I give him the finger shake and the NO, NO, NO technique, he becomes disinterested, wags his long, powerful tail, and meanders off. 

Grace, on the other hand, stares them down.  She is on point, which doesn’t make any sense to me since she is a Heeler. 

She won’t break eye contact with the chickens.  She watches their every move.  I think if given the opportunity, she might kill my chickens.  J-Dub says she will only chase them.

I must make the dogs understand that I love these chickens.  I’m trying to train them by going into the chicken pen and holding the chickens, talking to them, and petting them.  The dogs just watch.  I’m not sure they understand.   I think they’re jealous.

They’re certainly curious of them.  They haven’t acted aggressively toward the chickens yet, but I don’t trust them.  No siree Bob.  I’ve got some more work to do on training my dogs to love my chickens as much as I do.  Or rather, less than I do.  I’d be content if they’d just leave them be.

Teaching old dogs new tricks has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

Copper the Bassett Hound

If I had my ‘druthers, I’d want a lazy, blue tick hound dog. I’d liketo sit in an old rocker on a wooden porch, shotgun over my knees, spitting tobacco juice off the porch without even turning my head with the old coon dog laying up beside me, swatting flies with his tail, twitching his ears when they bother him too much.   If an old truck rumbles up wanting to trade possum skins, my old hound will sit up, lean his head back and let out a bay heard in the next county.

Yep, that’s what I’d wanted until I researched hound dogs and learned that with one shake of their heads they can sling slobber 20 to 30 feet.  It was then I decided I didn’t have any use for a hound dog.  I don’t even have a porch.  Or tobacco.

I figured the next best thing to a coon dog was a Bassett Hound.  I had my heart set on one of those.  One day my niece and I went to the mall in the next big town.  I parked at a store I never park near to enter.  And lo and behold, just like it was meant to be, there was the Animal Rescue Society trying to adopt out their orphans.  And just as if heaven arranged it, there was a Bassett Hound.  The sweetest looking dog with the droopiest ears and the saddest eyes, and the waggiest tail, with the friendliest disposition.  He pulled the person holding his leash towards us.  It was destiny.  The stars had aligned, the angels were singing, everything was perfect.

But I had my wits about me.  The voice of my conscience told me I didn’t need another dog.  I had Drew Miller.  What if they didn’t get along?  What if there was something bad wrong with this one? 

While the voice of my niece begged, please, please auntie, please.

So I did what all great aunts do, I made a deal.  Let’s go take care of our business, and if he’s still there when we leave, we’ll get him. 

Normally Ashy is a shopaholic.  Not this day.  She was in the biggest dang hurry to get out of there.  We walked to the exit, and as fate would have it, there was Copper the Bassett Hound still waiting on us.

I adopted the dog and he pulled me to the car, tail wagging.  During the  hour car ride home, he managed to get in the front seat and then he crawled in my lap.  Aw, how sweet, I thought, until I couldn’t steer due to his enormous girth pressing against my belly and the steering wheel.  I had to pull over to push him out of my lap.  Ashy giggled from the backseat.

Copper turned out to be one of the worst dogs I have ever known.  The most stubborn, bull-headed, tenacious, ill-mannered canine that has certainly ever crossed my threshold.  If he could get out of the fence, he would.  And he never looked back.  The dog had no loyalty to me at all. 

I found myself losing my temper more with this dog than I care to admit.  I do not like to give dogs away, I believe if you have a dog, it is for  better or worse.  But Copper had to go.   It was for his own good.  After about a year, I found Copper a new home.

I gave Copper to a co-worker on a Friday.  By Monday he had disappeared from there. 

He was a dog of the open road.  A Gypsy soul.  A rambler.  No strings to tie him down.  No fences could cage him in.

Even though I hated his guts and lives, I hope wherever he is, he’s okay.   Maybe he’s in Paris by now.  Wearing French sunglasses and drinking vino at a bistro, ordering a’ la carte’ and eating a’ la’ mode, reading the paper wearing a beret.  Perhaps someday I’ll receive a postcard, signed only with a paw print.  I’ll consider it as a small thank you for rescuing him from a deadly fate.  

C’est la vie!

Ranch Security

 I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Hank the Cowdog books by author John Erickson.   Good ol’ Hank, Head of Ranch Security, can usually be found protecting the ranch from varmints and keeping everyone safe with his side-kick Drover.

Well here at the J & A Chicken Ranch we have our own head of ranch security by the name of Drew Miller.



Drew Miller was rescued by the animal shelter as a pup.  My mom and niece Ashy picked out this little, cute ball of black and white fur.  They were told by the shelter that he was probably a Border Collie.  Well, he ain’t no Border Collie. 

We don’t really know what he is.  

Drew ended up at our house at about 6 or 7 months of age.

 

 He’s a good, gentle boy most of the time.  Except when there’s a varmint on the loose.  I’ve seen a side of Drew on the attack that I don’t like seeing.   He killed a mama possum once that I witnessed and am still having night sweats over.  You can read about that murder here.



But that was a possum.  They play dead.  I mean, how hard is it to kill something that’s playing dead?  Even Hank and Drover could do that. 

 

Then there was the porcupine.  You know those fights where one says, “You should see the other guy?”  That’s what the porcupine was telling his friends back at the Prickly Pub.

Either last night or this morning, we had a very close call.  After church I went out to tend to all the animals and there lying dead in the back yard about 3 feet from the house was a  black and white animal.

Yep, you guessed it.  A skunk. 

My mama used to sing a little song to me when I was a little girl.

Black and white kitty, sitting in the woods.  Isn’t that little kitty pretty? 

 I went right over to pick it up, but shooooo weeeeee, (pinch your nose here) it wasn’t that kind of a kitty.

I’ve never seen a skunk up close.  For obvious reasons.  I thought he would look more like Flower in the movie Bambi.  Uh, No.  Skunks are uuugggllly.

Drew  killed that poor rascal in our backyard.  And miracle of all miracles, it did not let off its stench.  Had this been a Hank the Cowdog story, Hank would’ve  gotten sprayed, tried to go home for supper, got run off from the house ’cause of his stink, and sent to live with the barbaric coyotes for a month till the smell finally wore off.

Which makes me envision Drew Miller, stealth-like, stalking that skunk, then pouncing before the poor fella could even defend himself.

Either that, or these 50 mph winds we’ve been having for 2 days are tricking us.   Only time will tell.

 Drew Miller, a.k.a. Killer, serving and protecting. 

I think I’m going to get him a badge.

Pets

 

This cat belongs to my niece Ashlynn.

He goes by the name of Biggie.

It’s short, or maybe it’s long, for Big Cat, his real name.

One might think him to be gigantic with a name like Biggie or Big Cat.  To the contrary.  It’s that Ashlynn had two identical cats.  One was bigger than the other, so naturally they got penned Big Cat and Little Cat. 

Little Cat pooped all over the house and something very mysterious happened to him.  He just vanished one day.  Up in smoke.  He should have been named Houdini the way he magically disappeared.  It was during a time when my sister was in town visiting.  I do believe she was the last one to see him, but oh nevermind about that story.  Perhaps you’ve had a pet Houdini in your life as well.

Yesterday I received a phone call from my mother.  She was moping about.  Biggie was gone. 

Then later I received a text from my niece.  It read:

ATTENTION:  yellow tiger cat, named and listens to Biggie.  If found plz call.  THANK YOU!!!

This isn’t the first time Biggie has run off.  One other time my mom needed to leave town for about a week, so Ashlynn came to stay with me and brought Biggie with her.  He was in the yard 12 seconds before he promptly disappeared.  The next day, he still hadn’t surfaced.  We checked the pound and made posters to hang on the the lamp posts.  My sweet niece was beside herself with grief.  Did he get lost?   Could he not find his way home in this strange neighborhood?  Had he been picked up?  After 3 days, we put an ad in the paper.  No one called.  Then one night my husband popped in the door late after work and announced to Ashlynn, “I just saw your cat running across the street.”  We were then able to breathe easier knowing that he was simply out tomcatting in a new neighborhood and would return when he was through prowling.  And he did.  Three or four days later, he came back and infested us with the worst case of fleas I do believe I have ever witnessed.  Needless to say, that was the last time I kept Biggie when my mom went out-of-town.

Yesterday when my mom phoned, I reminded her of that story.  Remember mom?  Remember?  Oh yeah, she remembered.  She felt better and relaxed with the faith he would return.  And he did.  Today he is back home sleeping off his wild adventure.

 To many, one of the worst experiences in their young life is when their beloved pet goes missing.  My childhood pet, the one I dearly loved, was a cowdog named Fancy.  Loyalty was to her as orange is to the sunset.  I remember losing her one Saturday.  My friend Misti and I had been hanging out at my house early that day.  We decided to walk around the block to Misti’s house and of course Fancy followed, her little stub tail wagging.  We played a while inside Misti’s house, then ventured out to her back yard.  After a time on the trampoline, boredom set in, so we opened the back gate, went down the alley and back to my house to engage in something more exciting.  After a day full of play, dusk came, and we couldn’t find Fancy.  We looked and called and called and looked.  Finally, we discovered her lying on Misti’s front porch, waiting.  Waiting on us to come back out of the house we had entered hours earlier.  That was the last place she had seen us, and she would not abandon us.  No matter how strong her hunger.  Or her thirst.  She had followed us to Misti’s house and when we went inside, she stayed on the porch. Unaware that we had gone out the back door and down the alley back home, she faithfully remained on the porch.  

For the entire day. 

I do believe she would have waited there all night.  I’m just glad she didn’t have to.

February 16, 2004

Today is February 16.  Today is the day.  I don’t think of it every year, the day usually passes without a thought, but today I have remembered.  Seven years ago today, my 4 1/2-year-old  niece was holding a puppy, singing it a song, when she was suddenly attacked by two Rottweilers.  I was at work, just finishing up tutorials when I was paged to the office for a phone call.  My sister-in-law told me that Ashlynn had been bitten by her dog and they were in the emergency room.  Her voice was calm, and I imagined she had been bitten by a dog, needed a couple of stitches, and would go home later that night. 

When I walked into the emergency room and met my sister-in-law, saw her face, and heard her words, I knew then that it wasn’t just a bite.  The emergency room personnel let me go back and I entered and saw the doctors, the nurses, and my brother all around her bed.  Steve, her dad, was holding her hand.  Then someone moved back and I saw Ashlynn with her skinny little naked body laying on the table.  She was alert.  She turned her head and the first words to me were, “I’ve been dog bit.” 

The Lord was in that room.  I could feel him everywhere.  Although the situation was very serious, the bleeding had stopped, Ashlynn was extremely calm, and a peace was upon me that I cannot explain.  The nurses started pointing out the wounds to me, only when they rolled her to her side and I saw very deep bites on her lower back with tissue protruding that I felt my stomach go queasy.  They were preparing her to be transported to Amarillo for surgery.  The room was quiet.  Suddenly a doctor grabbed my hand forcing into Ashlynn’s and urged me to talk to her and tell her she was going to be okay. 

 I began to get a little panicky realizing the seriousness of it all, knowing that my mother needed to be there.  And as much as I should have stayed there with my niece and my brother, I needed to get out of there.  So I left.  I went to try to find my mom.  This was before she carried a cell phone.  She worked for a home health agency.  I knew about 3 of her clients and where they lived, so I got in my car and drove by all their houses looking for her car.  I couldn’t find her.  I called my friend, asking her to pray, I called my aunt, my grannie, everyone I knew, pleading them to begin to pray.  Someone found my mom and by the time I returned to the hospital, she was there and they were loading into the ambulance. 

They gave Ashlynn morphine and she never slept.  It had an adverse reaction and was as if she was coming out of her skin, reaching for things that weren’t there, saying bizarre hallucinating statements.  Then she went into surgery.  After a while, the doctor came into the waiting room and informed us that he had sewn up her front, and when he rolled her over to sew up her back, the bites were much deeper than surface level, so they needed to open her up in the front to clean and stitch the interior wounds.  The dogs had nearly bitten through her.  She had cuts on her intestines, kidneys, stomach, and liver.  Stitching the intestines was time consuming because the doctors had to literally pull them out and unwind them to search each and every inch for wounds.  

Four hours later the surgery was over and she was placed in ICU.  By this time, the word had reached all four corners of our small town.  When she awoke she was greeted with visitors, flowers, cards, phone calls, stuffed animals, more than anything I’ve ever seen.  The nurses began to turn the visitors away.  During the next 10 days of recovery, our family was showered with love.  Prayer chains were active, a fund and donations were given, strangers who saw it on the news or read about it in the paper came to visit, sent her cards, gave her toys.  People came daily from surrounding churches to pray for her without fail.  Mankind is truly generous and good.

She’s had two other surgeries since to undo scar tissue that formed adhesions and caused unbelievable pain in her intestines. 

I hate to think about what she endured.  I remember her words that day in the hospital, “I need a drink.  I got dirt in my mouth.”  And I can’t help but picture her being dragged around the backyard by those dogs whose animal instincts were to kill.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”  Genesis 5o:20

The greatest act of love I’ve ever witnessed came during that time.  One stranger who came to pray told me he was praying for healing of the memories.  I had never heard that expression before.  So much of our focus was on her body, and not her mind.  Our God is so good.  That prayer was answered and although she has scars to remind her, Ashlynn has no fear of dogs to this day. 

Today she’s an outstanding eleven year old girl.  I talked to her on the phone a while ago.  She was going to jazz class and then to church, two things she loves.  She was talking with her mouth full and I scolded her.  She made all A’s and B’s on her report card.  I think she deserves a little money for that. 

I couldn’t imagine my life without her.  She is a little bundle of energy, a friend to all, a hater of broth, an amazing artist, a survivor for sure. 

And a testimony to our God, who is with us  in the valley of the shadow of death, who brings us through trials, who saves our souls, and heals our wounds, and our memories.

To God be the glory.

Soap #2–The Old and Curmudgeonly: Sleeping Through the Storm

My little town got 8.5 inches of snow Tuesday night, and they cancelled school.  And as an added bonus, we don’t have to start school until 10:00 this morning.  Yippee Skippee!! 

Snow days don’t come around often, and I try to enjoy them.  I spend my day in  lazy gear, reading, writing, facebooking, napping.   My husband on the other hand, is like a fish out of water.  He turns the TV on, then turns the TV off.  He sits in the recliner, then sits on the couch.  He lets the dogs out and lets the dogs in.

Finally, he got still long enough to sleep a little.  I decided a picture of these three old dogs was in order.

He didn’t work because he took care of everything the day before. 

He double-fed the cattle and put out hay, but I’m sure those cattle will be glad to see him and the cake wagon (aka the feed truck) today.

[feed+wagon.jpg]

He was prepared for the approaching storm. 

It reminds me of a story I once read by an anonymous author:

 Years ago a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. “Are you a good farmhand?” the farmer asked him. “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows,” answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him. The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man’s work.

Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand’s sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, “Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!” The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”

Enraged by the old man’s response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, and he returned to bed to also sleep while the wind blew.

So it is with life.  Can we sleep while the wind blows?  Are we prepared when the storms of life arise? 

There’s marital troubles, financial troubles, job troubles, relationship troubles, health troubles.

There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich.

Sorry.   Bubba came to mind.  It happens.

Here’s my SOAP for the week. It’s my new way of Bible Study.   S stands for scripture, O for observation, A for application, P for prayer.

Scripture:  In Luke Chapter 4, Jesus was sleeping during the windstorm.

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Observation:  Even the disciples who had seen Jesus do miracle after miracle were afraid during the storm.  Their faith was tested, they didn’t feel prepared.  They didn’t think Jesus cared about them.

Application:  During storms in my own life I have cried out that same lament, “Do you not even care?”  But he does.  I know he cares for me.  He had told the disciples to get in the boat, we’re going to the other side.  He’s with us every step of our journey.   Side by side, through all kinds of weather.  Through the sunshine and the rain.  When we give our lives to Him, ask Him to direct our steps, strive to follow Him, read His word, and pray, then we can be prepared for the storms of life.  Knowing he’s in the boat with us, taking us to the other side, through the storm and all will help us feel peace.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, I love you and I thank you.  I thank you for my good times, and I thank you for the storms that you have seen me through.  I thank you because I know that you will be with me in the storms that are inevitable.  I pray that through You, I will always be prepared when the winds toss my little boat.  Hide your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Guide me on my journey.  Keep me safe. 

In Jesus’ name, 

Amen.

Prosperity and pee-pee

Have you seen the new movie Lottery Ticket?

I haven’t.  And don’t laugh, but I want to.  I’m sure it will be dumb, dumb, dumb, and I will be filled with movie remorse like I always am when I pick out bad movies, which I always do.   It’s a gift of mine.

In case you haven’t heard of the movie, here’s the trailer for it.

 I’d like to think that if I won the lottery I would have a tad bit of self-restraint and not go spending my money like a wild boar hog. 

A few days back,  it was flying around the rumor mill here in my little town that someone won a million dollar scratch-off from the gas station at the Walmarts.  Then lo and behold, it was confirmed on the news.  The fellow chose not to have his name released.  Which makes him a pretty fart smeller. 

I remember watching a documentary of lotto winners and what happened to them after the madness of the moment.  The ones on this documentary are all dirt broke today.  Poor people just don’t know what to do when handed a wind-fall like a lottery win.  They start  buying boats, houses, cars, jets, taking trips, drinking fancy wines.  And then they must deal with all the people who come out of the woodwork with their hands out.  Before they know it, they’re back to being broke and often times in more debt than before they won. 

Which reminds me of my dogs. 

This is Drew Miller on the left, named by my niece after one of her pre-school friends.

The one on the right  is Grace.

I like this picture because it just shows the guilt on their faces.  They’re always guilty of something.

They are probably the two stupidest animals on the planet.  They are “outside” dogs, and for good reason.  They’re  hairy and hyper.  I would like to think they’re house-broke, but last night they proved me wrong.  When the weather gets downright brutal, we let them come in.  Drew cannot really be trusted, (he’s a chewer) so we shut him up in the bathroom.  Grace is more trustworthy and obedient, so she sleeps in the closet, by choice.  The last time they came in, my husband, J-Dub found dog dookey in the living room the next morning.  It belonged to Grace we know, since Drew was locked up in the bathroom.

Last night, we let them in again, and Grace went and peed right behind Jason’s chair where she had laid claim as her potty spot from the last cold snap.  As soon as Drew got a whiff of that, he hiked his leg and peed right on my husband’s recliner.  He didn’t even try to sneak.  He just out and out peed on the chair.  Right before his eyes.

Needless to say, I figure they got pretty chilly last night.

My husband’s famous words, “They can’t handle prosperity.”

Just like a poor boy with a winning lotto ticket.

The Joy of Pets

I have these two dogs.

A couple of maniacs, they are.

Between the two of them, I think they share one brain.

They live outside and that’s good.

But lately we’ve had a cold snap, and that’s putting it lightly.

Our current conditions are 18*F + 30 mph winds = 1* wind chill. 

A great blue northern has settled on these golden plains, dusting a fine white frosting on the grasses, blowing anything that isn’t tied down, and turning the most good-natured among us into down-right grouches.

So, the maniacs get to come inside for the night.

It’s a simple case of cause and effect. 
The temp goes down  —–>  the dogs come in ——–>  my blood pressure goes up.

They run.
They roll.
They sniff.
They fart.
They slobber.
They wrestle.
They fart.
They dribble.
They lick
They chew.
They fart.

And finally……..

they lay down……

and they fart.

And fart.

And fart.