Saturday, March 31, 2018

This Will Make You Happy!

For all my readers who have been with me from the start; through Ramsey's birth, his surgery and two week stay at Cornell.  Through all the looong months of rehab after.  Through two bouts of Lyme disease.  Through Ben's canker, Cushing's and his fight with tick borne disease and the laminitis it caused.  Through all of Ramsey's jealous sulks over having his world invaded by a new donkey....

I hope this little video makes you as happy as it makes me.  Thanks for sticking with us through all the tough times so we can enjoy the moment of pure fun.

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Painted Pony

I went down and had a nice visit with Tessa this afternoon and gave her and Hawkeye a pedicure.  No, I have not forgotten about her!

She is doing quite well.  We are all a bit disappointed (but I am not surprised) that she has NOT lost any weight.  There are those of us who are just doomed to pudge even when we stick to celery and carrots.

Tess is still rather obsessively in love with Hawkeye.  I have found that the donkeys spend more time outside, wandering around since Tessa left and I realized that it is because she used to bring them in the barn and then stand guard outside the barn.  She now does the same thing for Hawkeye.  She likes get him in a "safe" spot and watch over him. 

I'm not sure that Hawkeye actually needs a whole lot of protecting, but there is no convincing Tessa of that.  God help the boogey man who messes with Tessa's herd. 

It would be interesting to see how Tessa's attitude would change if she had a baby who actually needed all of her mothering.  If she had better conformation, I would be tempted to breed her to a nice jack and get myself a sweet mule baby. 

Instead, Tessa will have remain content mothering and guarding all of her friends - whether they want it or not. 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Every Move You Make...

Every breath you take...

I'll be watching you!

Especially if you are headed for the feed bin.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Extreme Cute

Just in case you need even MORE overwhelming puppy cuteness, I bring you a little visit with the incredibly sweet Afghan Hound puppy, Lulu, with one of her feline companions.

This puppy is sweet, sweet, sweet.

She is also very calm, cuddly and not at all shark-like.

Sooooo, sooooo different from my still crazy Border Collie.  At three years old, Connor still can't do this....

Those big, limpid brown eyes...very sweet puppy.  However, mud season is coming and I am still glad I won't be in charge of keeping this girl's hair clean.

Just in case an Afghan puppy isn't enough cuteness, there is also Lulu's canine companion, the smallest chihuahua I very ever seen.  Her teddy bear weighs more than she does and the cats are twice her size.  Personally, I think she might actually be a large guinea pig in disguise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Spreading Out

The little grubs got an expansion to their world yesterday.  At one week old, they are already in need of more space.

There is one pup who is a bit smaller than the others, so he got an smudge of orange crayon on his head to make him easy to find.  Elva makes sure he gets first crack at the milk bar.  It is likely that he is just a couple days younger than the others and he will catch up.

It is amazing how fast puppies grow at this age.  From one day to the next, there are noticeable changes.

They are already starting to spread out more in true independant Maremma style.

With more room, Bess is more comfortable and spends more time with the pups.  This lets them take turns nursing, which is much better for everyone.  It also gives Bess more room to enjoy one of her frequent gourmet meals which are delivered directly to her so that she can enjoy breakfast, 2nd breakfast, lunch, high tea and dinner in bed.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Puppy Dreams

One week old today and the little grubs are growing fast and fat.

They are crawling around more, trying to figure out how to make their legs work. 

Puppies at this age are still blind and mostly deaf.

Their limbs are weak and uncoordinated and they mostly sleep and eat, but they also start exploring the world.

Despite their lack of sight and sound, there is a lot going on the minds of tiny puppies. 

The first 12 weeks of life are the most critical for their development and a great deal happens before their eyes ever open. 

Their sense of smell works just fine and scent brings the world to them, even in their sleep.

Their minds are active, open and they dream often.

In their searches for food, warmth and comfort, their muscles develop and they learn how to interact with their siblings.

They bark, yip, growl and stretch themselves out into the world....

Until they all find a good spot.

What do puppies who have never seen the world dream about?

 What do any of us dream about?

Friday, March 16, 2018

A Highlight

Well, Elva here, I figured you might all like to know how it is going with Bess and her new family. It is going great! 

Bess and I both had a couple of sleepless nights at the beginning, as both of us jumped anytime we heard a squealing pup, but now we are used to their little puppy noises, which are frequent and loud, considering how little they are! Last night, I only woke up when Bess got up and changed position, which caused a mighty ruckus from her children…”Hey! What is going on? Where did the milk go! What’s happening!!” I quickly jumped up and repositioned all the puppies, and soon they were once again content.

Bess is a most excellent mother. She really would rather not leave her pups at all, so my strategy for getting her outside is to wait until all the pups are done nursing and are sleeping. Then I carefully transfer them to a box with a fleece blanket and the hot water bottle. Then I plead and cajole with Bess until she finally heaves herself out of the puppy pool. She then stops for a long drink before going outside. I tried keeping a water dish in with her and the pups, but that was a minor disaster.

Once Bess is outside, she is happy and rolls around in the snow. She is happy to go on a hike with the border collies up until she remembers her pups, and then she whines, spins around and runs back home. Before I let her inside, I wash her off carefully with warm water, as she still has a little bit of discharge from having the pups. She is very patient with me cleaning her off and brushing her. When I finally open the door, she runs to the box containing the pups, but I explain to her that she has to get in the proper spot first. She then jumps in the pool, and I get her properly positioned in the middle of the pool, so that all the pups have plenty of room. Then I carefully transfer each pup, who then remembers that they are suddenly starving.

The pups are unbelievably beautiful! They have these funny little tails and short legs. They like to sleep on their backs, and if you scratch their chests and bellies, their legs start moving, just like a real dog!! 

They appear to have a huge vocabulary, and make all sorts of interesting noises. It is very pleasant to listen to! It reminds me of when I have a raised some chicks in the house, and just before they fall asleep in the night, they make these sweet whistling noises. The pups make noises like that, but even better.

Bess is now eating everything I give her, which makes me happy. It is more fun to cook for someone who appreciates it! Just before she had the pups, she had no appetite, and I worked hard to get her to eat anything. Now she eats four meals a day, each consisting of kibble, one soft-boiled egg, a generous hunk of raw roast beef, lots of bone broth, some organ meat, and lavish splash of raw milk. All this stuff comes from my farm, except the kibble, so I know it is good for her. She eats all her meals in the puppy pool, and she is very neat about it!

Blog reader Ninergirl04 had the excellent suggestion that I put identifying rick rack collars on the pups and then track their weight. I know she is right, but I have this collar phobia, worrying that they could get their feet stuck in each other’s collars or something. I think I will do this when they get a little bit older. Right now, whenever I put the pups in the box when Bess goes out, I carefully examine each one and then also watch how they nurse when I put them back with Bess. I really feel that all of them are doing very, very well.

Another thing I agonized over was whether the pups were warm enough. It was suggested that I use a heat lamp, but I know that Bess would hate that, so I compromised with the hot water bottle. I change this about every two hours in the day, but then take it out at night, as I am afraid it would cool off too much before I woke up. Instead, I roll a fleece or wool blanket up and place it so that they can snuggle up to it. They sleep in between Bess and this rolled-up blanket. So far, this seems to be working well. Tonight I am going to put a hunk of unwashed fleece in the pool, so that they can get used to the smell of sheep.

Well that’s about all that is going on now, but I must say that having these pups is one of the highlights of my life! It is really a special event, and both Bess and I will never forget it!

One last thing…March 16th is RB’s birthday, so Happy Birthday from all of us. Her present from me will be that she gets to see the puppies! What more could a person want for their birthday?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Blood Does Tell

All the little grubs and their mom are doing great.

There are 5 boys, 3 girls and they are all fat as sausages.

These are healthy, vigorous little grubs.  They can manage to sound like a whole pack of coyotes singing when mom takes an occasional break.

Bess has always had an affinity for babies of all species.  She even loves playing with human babies, unlike the Border Collies who generally think little humans are space aliens that either need to be herded up or chased off. 

Bess is amazingly gentle with and protective of babies, all babies.  When there are baby lambs, she quietly worms her way in amongst them to keep them safe and happy.

By the time the calves are born, the lambs are racing around and Bess moves off to look after the baby calves.

The cows and the ewes are always on high alert when the Border Collies are around, but Bess moves in slow, eyes down and the moms welcome her help in looking after their babies.

After the newborn livestock are all on their feet, Bess divides her time between them.  She makes her rounds each day, checking on lambs, calves and chicks all while keeping her human in line.

No one has ever had to teach Bess how to be a great Livestock Guardian Dog, it is just her nature.  It's what countless generations before her have been bred to do.  A really good LGD is a friend and protector of everyone on her farm.  It is no wonder she is being such a good mom to her own puppies.