Fridays on the Farm, February 12, 2016
Good afternoon all. My name is Fuzzy Bear (aka Fuzzy but please refrain from indulging in the “Fuzzy Wuzzy” babytalk that seems to take hold of you seemingly adult people the moment you lay eyes on me) and I have decided to take over the “Fridays on the Farm” publication. It was becoming increasingly obvious that the other animals on the farm could not be trusted to submit a byline in any sort of a timely manner. I shall be lead reporter, editor, and publicist. The people demand their news and I feel compelled to give it to them…straight, no chaser.
We shall go back to the roots for this column, really giving you a feel for who I am and my angle on the world. I came to The Shepherd Hobby Farm after a chance meeting with Mrs. Conway (aka “Farmer Lady”) at the store that claims to make pets smart. I can’t quite remember the name now but if I don’t think about it I’m sure I’ll think of it… and will be sure to let you know.
If any of you have met Mrs. Conway you know “shy” is NOT one of her leading personality traits. My original owner had gotten me as an eight week old pup to be a farm dog out in the country. He had fallen ill, became unable to care for me, so his niece took me in. She lived in a very small apartment and I was already growing into my massive paws at an alarming speed in the two weeks I had been with her. She took me to the store to pick up some food and a new kennel, apparently I was “eating her out of house and home”… wouldn’t take long for a Chihuahua to eat that home, it was tiny! Admittedly I am not a fan of confined spaces and I tried to explain this to her by eating my way out of three kennels, the bathroom (doors are notoriously flimsy these days), six baby gates, and one two-person pop-up tent (seriously woman, you thought that would hold me?). She was a little slow on the uptake and was looking at new fangled “escape proof” kennels made of iron (or something like that).
Mrs. Conway saw me at the store and struck up an immediate conversation with my caretaker. Apparently the Conways had recently acquired livestock (goats, chickens, etc.) and were in the market for a livestock guardian dog. She wanted to know what Great Pyrenees breeder my caretaker had gotten me from. Instead of explaining where she had gotten me and the troubles she had had with me this far she simply put the leash in Mrs. Conway’s hands and said, “She’s yours.” It felt much like a drug deal as my caretaker looked all around to be sure no one had seen that she just made a “transaction” in a place where transactions are only to be made by employees. She made Mrs. Conway agree to take me before she launched into the simple facts that I eat 40 pounds of dog food in a week, refuse to learn any obedience commands, am not potty trained, and cannot be contained by any human means.
I was three months old and about to launch into an adventure of a lifetime. Mrs. Conway purchased a bag of the food I was accustomed to as well as another bag of this stuff claiming to be made of or made by buffalos… not sure on that one. She loaded me and the bags of food up into the minivan and snapped a couple quick pictures of me in my adorable puppiness. I do believe one of the pictures were sent to her husband with the simple words, “This just happened.” If “Ask for forgiveness instead of permission” is not her motto then I don’t know what is. She’s gotten better about that over the years though, I must admit.
When we arrived at The Shepherd Hobby Farm there was an assault on every one of my senses. Chickens walking freely everywhere, goats making a ruckus, dogs barking, cats giving off an intoxicating bouquet of smells and sounds, guineas berating me for merely being alive, and country air, beautiful country air as farmers spread manure on the fields. I wasn’t sure what to think of it all and Mrs. Conway had to lift me out of the vehicle because I was not budging.
I thought we would head inside so I bolted towards the door and away from the intrusive sniffing of no less than four cats! Mrs. Conway calmly walked up to me, pet the top of my head, gave my ear one of those amazing rubs, and said, “No little one, not in there, we’re taking you up to the barn.” The what?
Up in the barn a new smell pummeled my nostrils. Hay…lots and lots of hay. Straw… lots and lots of wonderful straw. This was the first time I had ever seen hay and straw and I loved it. You can dig down into hay and straw and bury yourself with the light and yet oh so warm shafts of grass. It smells clean and yet earthy. So hard to describe… try sleeping on a bed of hay and you’ll totally get what I am saying. Mrs. Conway gathered up a water bowl, food bowl, and a blanket. She began grabbing pallets made of wood and bracing them together with 2x4s. She then lugged large bales of straw and began stacking them on the outsides of the pallets. In no time she had made a cozy den in the barn that was about the size of that entire apartment I had come from. Here’s the kicker though, she didn’t try to shut me in there all alone. She went in, situated my food and water bowl just so and then sat down like she was there to stay. I crawled into her lap and fell asleep instantly.
When I woke up I was on the blanket, sandwiched between two cats, and Mrs. Conway was nowhere to be seen. I could hear someone in the barn so I walked out of my little den and saw her stacking hay bales in the far corner of the barn. It all smelled SO GOOD!! I love hay! I ran up to her and she must not have seen or heard me because as she stepped back she tripped over me and came crashing down on her bottom with a fifty pound bale of hay landing squarely on top of her. She really ought to be more careful. I licked her face which seemed to make it all better. I then peed on her hair… that did not seem to make anything better but I really had to go, she wasn’t in any hurry to get up, and well…it just happened. I knew I had found the right home when the only scolding I got was “Ewwww Fuzz ball that’s kinda really gross.”
That night I had a new roommate in my den. I think it was punishment for peeing on Mrs. Conway because I got to room with a two week old baby goat kid that peed EVERYWHERE! You think dogs aren’t quick on the uptake about potty training… have you met a baby goat? Like a fire hose that never shuts off! His name was (and still is) Elliott and he was a twelfth year birthday present for the oldest son in the family, Jackson. He smelled kinda goofy, was an incessant snuggler, and LOVED to play. We got along beautifully. Our days were full of helping Mrs. Conway on the farm and exploring every nook and cranny we could find. We chased cats… until we were told to stop chasing cats. We chased chickens… until we were told to stop chasing chickens. We chased guineas… until the guineas chased us back! We chased Nala and Katja, the other two dogs on the farm… forever and ever until they told us enough was enough and went inside. We chased butterflies, grasshoppers, snails, and bugs… I ate whatever insect I caught which totally grossed Elliott out. Elliott drank milk out of a bottle and got the foam all over his mouth which really grossed me out. I liked being outside as long as I had company. I liked not being caged up in a kennel.
Before long (a couple of months) I was able to come and go out of the den as I saw fit and Elliott was always close behind me as I began to make “rounds” on the farm. My rounds haven’t changed much over the years… just more animals added to say good morning, good afternoon, and good evening to. I start each morning by heading over to the hen house. It’s still dark so I try to be quiet and not wake the ladies or the obnoxiously loud roosters.
Then it’s on to the goats. Elliott was put into “general population” behind a fence at about a year old and we both agreed it for thebest. Mrs. Conway and I had a long conversation about it… well, she talked and I just stood there waiting for a treat. She explained that he was eating her garden, pooping on the porch, and needed to be with other goats. I understood he needed to be with his own kind and he had a new BFF named Pedro that wasn’t grossed out by all the cud chewing and constant peeing… seriously bro, get that under control! After I say wake up to the goats every morning I head over to the sheep.
I use the word “sheep” loosely… they think they are goats. It’s kinda weird. I really wish Mrs. Conway would just keep them with the goats (would make my job easier) but there’s a whole copper issue that I know and care nothing about so they have to stay separate most of the time.
Sometimes Nala (long haired German Shepherd who flunked out of search and rescue school and therefore has become my helper) helps me with rounds but she tends to be a little hyperactive which can get annoying quickly. She’s a year older than me but will always be a puppy at heart when sticks, balls, or anything throwable is involved. Seriously, how many sticks are you going to retrieve when you know those people are just going to throw them again? Insanity at its finest. This is why I don’t retrieve.
As I walk up to the barn to check on baby goat kids and rabbits I begin to feel as though I am being watched… stalked. I look back, nothing. I walk a bit more and still can’t shake the feeling. I look back again but still nothing. I know they are out there… watching me… mocking my big hairy booty… laughing at the way my tail wags as I dutifully make my rounds. I keep walking, but slowly… they have no attention spans and sooner or later they will pounce… I’ll be ready for them this time. Just as I reach the thick cover of the black raspberries I am assaulted from all directions… a cat comes at me from the berry bushes, another from across the horse paddock, another from above (must have been perched there this WHOLE time), two flank me from down the driveway, and another shoots out of the barn straight towards me. I run straight at the one coming out of the barn and they all run after me. As soon as it began it is over and they all disappear just like the little kitty ninjas they are. Next time… I’ll get them next time. Later that afternoon they are all snuggling me in the sunshine. Silly ninja creatures.
I don’t usually need to do much with the horses… they just kinda do their own thing and really don’t need much guarding.
We free range rabbits but those guys and gals are so fast not much is ever gonna get them either! I’m mostly here for the chickens, goats, and sheep… oh and writing… gotta keep you guys updated! I’m good with that.
Have a great day,
Fuzzy out (wow, did I just say that? I’m full gangsta’ now… I guess)