Farm and WinterThe weather still isn't letting up and I think it's here to stay! I have some more beautiful photos of the farm animals thanks to my wonderful student and her ability to stand in the cold and take some great photos!
" Mini is always looking for a handout!"
"The sheep, llamas, and cow don't come out often but if you call with a bucket of grain.."
"This little 4 month badgerface ewe lamb standing next to her mother will be getting a new home this weekend"
"My husband's 'Cowbella' never misses a meal"
The winter is taking a toll on everyone. Our animals are cold one day and comfortable the next. I've been washing horse blankets and sheep coats to keep any manure and wetness off the furry kids. We did loose one adolescent sheep. Not sure what happened, I think kicked or trauma internally of some kind and then the cold didn't help the situation. After two days of not eating and not showing any interest in food or water after all the usual help we can give, my compassionate husband took it upon himself to end his suffering. It's a hard part of farm life to choose to take a life. It seems especially hard while I'm growing life inside me right now but I know from many years of experience, he was not going to come out of this happy and healthy. I'm not sure I could make those decisions by myself so I am grateful for my husband although it really bothers him. I also think it's important to share that this does happen and it's not something to be hidden. I am very honest with anyone that asks about sickness, accidents, and just basic bad luck. It's unrealistic to think everything is always 'peachy keen' when raising animals.
Kids and Dogs
On a different subject, I'd like to write a little about Dogs and Kids. It's so common and I have many students that have dogs being introduced to babies or living with young children, I think it's something to discuss. Whether you are having children of your own or grandchildren now, I think this is a subject to always have in mind. I have the point of view from having only dogs for most of my late teens, 20's, and early 30's with no kids. These four leggeds were my kids and my life revolved around them. Now, with an almost 14 month old and 8 months pregnant, my perspective has changed. I still love and respect my dogs but they did take a back seat to raising a baby for a while. We are now coming to the challenges of a toddler and adult dogs. Gabby, our daughter, is walking, baby talking, chasing the dog, feeding the dog, hugging the dog, and loving the dog so it's very important to teach all parties involved how to properly exist with each other.
My husband and I agree that no matter what, the dogs are NEVER TRUSTED in regards to the human babies. Both are only predictable as long as your are supervising. What this means to us, is if we are not in the room, the dogs and baby are not left alone with each other. I don't care how great your dog is and how respectful your child is, never leave them unattended. It's as simple as bring the baby or the dog with you. We have a baby gate in our entrance and the dogs easily go in there when not being watched.
"All dogs will bite in the right situation"
This is my daughter, Gabby, and Tweed, our 8 year old border collie. Out of all our dogs, he was the most distant dog for young toddlers. He is now our best babysitter. I wanted to show this picture to tell what I see from his behavior. His ears are back and his body is a little tense. This tells me he is tolerating this behavior but not exactly happy about it at the same time. I'm carefully watching him and what he is trying to say through body language. (plus I know his history with Gabby)
Now in this photo, you can see some changes that made me think, I will let him choose to stay or not and let Gabby have a little fun. He stretched out his front leg, relaxed his torso, and you can't tell but wagged the tip of his tail in a gesture I know says, "I'm happy and calm" Some things you can't tell from a photo and if one of my dogs was uncomfortable with the situation, I wouldn't take the time to take a photo before showing Gabby that's not how we act around a dog, lol. So, you won't see any bad photos here for that reason. Tweed has an area to go to if he needs to get away from Gabby and has a signal he gives me to say, "I've had enough and I want a break". He simply leaves the room and I've worked with Gabby "leave the dog alone, he needs to go rest". I missed the shot of her getting off him and gently petting his neck before hugging with her head on his back. I still teach her not to play around his face and mouth, although, gentle, he still has those teeth and it only takes once.
If you have a nervous dog and exploring toddler, try letting the dog out around the baby when they are strapped to their high chair and eating. Food gets dropped, the dog eats it, a great association for the dog, and then put up the furry kid before letting down your baby. Always allow your dog to retreat without being followed by child. Behind a baby gate is a wonderful location. The dog can come up and sniff on their own terms or can sit back at a comfortable distance without being corner by a child.
Stay warm and settle in while trying to accept winter is here to stay...
Try trick training with your dogs, maybe my next blog will be out indoor training for cabin fever!