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Archive for the ‘homesteading’ Category

How not to keep dogs

It’s been snowing since yesterday afternoon.  The yard is covered in a fluffy blanket perfect for revealing what tromps around the yard at night.  Aside from deer, turkeys, fox squirrels and the occasional rabbit we’ve got dogs- a big one.  As I went out to take care of the chickens this morning, I saw huge paw prints leading to and from the chicken house.  They circled around twice and even scratched at the gate.  The tracks were fresh.   It was still snowing and I could see each claw perfectly.  Definitely dog.  Too big for coyote and the claws are a dead giveaway.

It’s probably the dog we see running through the yard occasionally.  I’m quite sure it belongs to the neighbor down the road and I am not happy about it.  Not one bit.  I don’t know why people think living in the country gives them the right to let their animals run into other people’s yards.  Nothing will decimate your flock faster than your neighbor’s supposedly well behaved dog.

In Ohio, we lost thirty chickens over two weeks to our neighbor’s three labs.  They got them during the day- broke through split fence and chicken wire to get at them.  We saw caught one in the act and took it back to the neighbor and he said his dog couldn’t possibly kill chickens because he was too well trained- even though we caught him doing it!

So, as you can imagine, I don’t like seeing dog tracks around the chicken house.  I just really hope he doesn’t come back during the day.

If people would just keep their animals on their own land, life would be so much easier…

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Last week as Midori and I watch the chickens squabble over kitchen scraps, I heard footsteps up the drive behind me.   My parents were gone grocery shopping and my husband was at work, could they have come back already?  I whirled around to see a man walking around the driveway scoping out our outbuildings.  I hid Midori in her stroller in a clump of sassafras saplings, praying under my breath that she’d be content to watch the chickens and wouldn’t start to cry.  As I walked up the path from the chicken house I imagined all sorts of horrible things, why was this person here?  Was he going to try and rob me, rape me?  I could see the man more clearly now; he was tall and slightly overweight, middle aged and shabby looking.  I remembered the oak walking stick Stuart left by the Siberian Elm tree to dry.  I knew if he made a move I’d go for it.  I doubt I could fight him off, but I wouldn’t go down easy.

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The farmer that owns the plot across from us came and tilled it today. Even though we’ve never met, I can’t help weaving a him a complex life story. I know three things for certain about this person: he is a male, middle-aged, farmer with a really nice tractor. As he cuts through last years corn stalks, I imagine he is glowing with hope over ethanol and the recent increase in the price of corn. His daughter’s wedding is in a few months and he isn’t over fond of his son-in-law to be. Really, he liked the last boy she dated better, a recent graduate of Purdue’s Agronomy department, but there’s no accounting for taste these days. His sun dried skin wrinkles easily as he turns his thoughts to the forecast. Some gentle rain after the seeds are in would be best. With luck the three year drought will be banished this summer…

I could live inside this man’s head, but I doubt my romantic musings concerning his life and thoughts are anything close to what he’s really thinking. I’m not a farmer; I’m just another back-to-the-land wannabe.

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