Bad Kitty

by admin Email

My finger was on the trigger and I could hear my heart pounding. This was an intense moment....

One of the things that I have learned since I began raising goats is that there are a lot of predators that would love to eat them as much as people do, maybe more. If the coyotes aren't spending their time watching the herd and waiting for an opportunity then the bob cats, big hawks or the mountain lions probably are. And to top it off this year, we have a very large eagle hanging around.

We do what we can to protect the herd. Traps and snares are something that I set and check often, and I work at keeping the fences in good shape. One other thing I do on a consistent and regular basis is take my rifle and both of my livestock guardian dogs and go looking for trouble. I usually ride my quad and take it easy so the dogs don't have a hard time keeping up and they don't get worn out. When we happen upon a predator I want them to be fresh and able to answer any challenges.

Three days ago we went to check the herd because I had not seen them in two days. I have been busy building a larger chicken house and have missed going to the back of the ranch to check on them. We raise and sell 100% Heritage Spanish Goats. Our customers buy them to reduce fuel loads on their farms and ranches or forested areas. They also buy them to eat and as pets. They are well suited for all of those uses.

Our Spanish Goats always travel in a herd and are never more than a few yards from each other as they browse. They occasionally travel fairly far from their barn but always return at night. We have recorded the wettest April in the history of Oregon and the whole back of the ranch is super wet and all the dirt trails and roads are muddy as heck.

I took my Grizzly 650 quad up a grassy path behind the barn and traveled up to the top of a hill that we call "Cardiac Hill". We call it that for good reason. It is steep and hard to climb on foot and it is no easy task for the quad. I chose to go to the top because there is one place where you can see the biggest portion of the ranch. With binoculars I can usually spot our goat herd. This day I got to the top of Cardiac and drove over to the back edge. I got off the quad and noticed something shining in the grass a few feet away. I walked over and dropped down on one knee and picked it up. I was examining what seemed to be the crystal from someone's watch. Probably belonged to one of the fellows that hunted last deer or elk season. I slipped it into my shirt pocket and was about to stand up when Big Foot, my great Pyrenees growled.

He is a big dog weighing in at 115 lbs and he has a very deep voice. Jasper my half wolf, half border collie growled. I turned and found them side by side, hair on their necks standing up and fangs showing. These are intelligent dogs, they know when to warn and when to attack. Their warning growls are usually enough to send most predators in a different direction.

I looked to where they were staring expecting to see a coyote that had emerged from the brush but of course life couldn't be that simple. I have to admit I am a wimp and wanted very badly to begin running and screaming but managed to push my heart back up into my chest where it belongs and stay quiet. I quietly told the dogs to sit. They did with hair still up on their necks and fangs still showing.

I moved slowly and deliberately taking sidesteps back toward the quad. I never took my eyes off the biggest mountain lion that I have ever seen. It was sitting on its rear haunches starring at us from about thirty yards. A distance that it could travel so fast it would make my head swim. I am not a truly religious person but I mentally crossed myself just in case. I removed my rifle from the gun rack on the front of the quad and slowly brought it up. I trained the cross hairs on the big cats chest and waited. If that thing even twitched I was going to dump it.

The mountain lion stood up,turned to its left and started moving alongside the brush back toward the edge of the hill. I had a perfect shot. My cross hairs were trained on the heart, lung area just behind the right front shoulder. I knew that my 30-06 would end it's life instantly. My finger was on the trigger and I could hear my heart pounding. This was an intense moment!

A movement to my left in my peripheral vision made me stop. Slowly I moved my gaze back away from the cat and there hopping along was the cats five or six week old cub. The she-Mountain Lion went over the edge of the hill, cub right behind her. I relaxed, the dogs relaxed and I patted each one and told them how good they were. No one made any mistakes and everything worked out.

I put the gun away, climbed on the quad and drove back to the barn and sure enough there was our entire Spanish Goat herd in the large pen area leading to their barn. They had evidently been browsing in a different area and came back while I was on top of Cardiac. I counted heads and satisfied that they were all present and accounted for headed for home.

If you get a chance, come visit. We would love to have you. If you get a chance, look us up on the web: http://www.cozinespringsranch.com.

Until next time find something to laugh about. It's good for the spirit, soul and body!

This blog article is a reprint that I shared on another blog previously.

Harless

Learning To Live With Big Foot-Final Chapter

by admin Email

Big Foot has been quite an addition to the ranch culture. After introducing him to the goat herd. I had left him for the night in a barn next to the goats so he could see and hear them and they him. As I left the barn I thought all was quiet on the home front and we were actually doing pretty good considering he was brand new to the ranch, me and our livestock.

At 2:00 in the morning the peace and quiet of the ranch came to an end. At first I thought that a wolf howling had awakened me. There are no wolves in this part of Oregon and the voice was too deep. Big foot would make a wolf sound a little wimpy. I had to get out of bed and go to the barn. As soon as he saw me he sat down, started wagging his tail and had that big grin on his face.

I had to remove his leash and hope that he would stay inside the fence for the night which he did. To make a year and a half long story short, we have had to deal with Big Foot chasing down my wife's chickens, picking them up by the back and trying to shove them back through the fence. He thought they belonged on the other side. My ears still ring from the first time my wife saw him in the process of relocating her chickens. After all, she had warned me," He must not chase my chickens".

After scouting the back of the ranch with me he always climbs in the nearest water tank and cools his heals and rinses off the dust or mud depending on the time of the year. At least he manages to stay pretty clean and he doesn't stink. The fish that I keep in the stock tanks to keep them clear of mosquitos probably have a coronary every time he climbs in there.

I'm profoundly grateful that they cannot speak. When he decides to go check the livestock or patrol part of the ranch, he just plows and chews his way through fences. I now have holes in my fences between pastures. I gave up and just fixed them so he can come and go as he pleases.He has tunnel vision in that when something catches his attention he will go and investigate and you cannot stop him.

This last winter I had him with me as I hunted coyotes and it rained pretty hard. He and I were both soaked and freezing by the time we got back to the house. He laid down on the deck and when I checked on him half an hour later he was shivering. I had to plead with my wife on his behalf but she finally allowed me to let him in the utility room. I dried him off and he had a nice warm place for the night. My wife had originally told me that he couldn't come in the house. Big Foot is with me almost every minute. He won't let me out of his sight for more than a few minutes. I am always surprised when he gets up and takes off by himself to go check the barn and the livestock. He has come to be a close friend. A little hard headed maybe, but good friend anyway. By keeping him clean and dry I have managed slowly over time to have him watch television with me in the evenings. The first time he came into my den with me he saw himself in a huge mirror on the wall. It was apparently the first time he had ever seen himself and he jumped back from the mirror and growled and then barked at himself. It was really funny.I think he has finally figured out that there isn't another dog there.

At least he and I both take baths, don't stink and are good about not making messes around the house so my wife has kind of softened up about having him inside with me. I think she has decided that we're just a couple of guys hanging out. Guys will be guys.

At the end of the day, I am very glad that I found him and saved him from the pound. He has learned to listen better and is a good companion. Until next time find something to laugh about. It is good for the spirit, soul and body. If you would like to know more about us and the livestock that we raise check out our website: http://www.cozinespringsranch.com

 

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Learning To Live With Big Foot (continued)

by admin Email

The last time I sat at this keyboard we were visiting about the big Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees dog that I adopted from our local pound. It would be good to remember that my wife had placed three restrictions on my dog acquisition;" He can't stink, He must not chase my chickens and He cannot come into my house."

In addition to those rules I missed several red flags during the adoption process;

•"The dog had been picked up by animal control and no one called looking for him

•He came with lot's of extras and was cheap

•The tiny voice

• Dog was the wrong color

• He'll get bigger

•The tiny voice Hmmmmm."

When we got to the barn to introduce the dog to my Heritage Spanish Goat herd I placed a leash on his collar (just in case) and lead him toward a large pen in back . When we entered the gate to the pen, leash firmly in hand, the goat herd took one look and ran to the far side of the pen. Not the reaction that I was expecting. The four oldest and largest does in my herd came from a pure Spanish herd in Montana. They were used to having Great Pyrenees dogs around them all the time. My goats trust me because I am around them a lot. (and I give them treats)

I slowly walked the dog toward the herd and they didn't bolt away. The dog behaved himself beautifully. It was easy to see that he had spent time around livestock. He moved slowly, showed no signs of aggression and seemed in perfect control of himself. The goats didn't run as we moved through the middle of the herd and slowly walked back toward the gate. I was getting extremely pleased with my self for having the great wisdom to adopt such a fine animal while saving so much money.

I could just barely discern uproarious laughter, I think it was coming from that itsy-bitsy tiny voice that was getting louder. I reached the gate and started to open it when I got a sudden brainstorm. Let's see how he does with no leash. Oh, how I hate those moments when I realize there is no turning back.

The snap on the leash cleared the ring on the collar and the dog vanished in a golden blur. I swear to you, I had no idea a huge dog could move so fast. He shot toward the herd and the herd bolted. I was screaming NO, NO, STOP! He paid me absolutely no attention. (another red flag) Before I could fully grasp what was happening, the dog had actually stopped the goats in their tracks and caused them to bunch up in a small circle and he was slowly trotting around them to let them know that's where he expected them to stay. He stopped, sat down and looked at me, the goats looked at me. A sense of relief swept over me. My knees felt like Jello and I was trying desperately to get my heart to slow down. I managed to say "good dog" and told him to come. To my complete dismay he stood up, looked at the goats and trotted back over to my side. Someone had taught him to round up livestock and hold them.

The goats moved slowly away from the circle and started browsing. We left the pen and I took him back around the barn and inside. Everything that I had read about Livestock Guardians said that they stayed with or very near the herd at all times. I had an extra small stall that I decided would make him a great shelter from the weather and would have him very close to the goats. They have access through the back of the barn and would be just a few feet from him. They would be able to see and hear each other.

I decided to use a chain to keep him from wondering off until he could get used to being in a new place. I snapped the end of the chain into an eye bolt about a foot from the floor. I made sure that he had a large bowl of water, plenty of food and there was straw for him to use as a bed. He had it made. I went down the hill toward home.

I wanted to bring my wife up and introduce her to my new Livestock Guardian. That meeting will prove to be very interesting. I hope you will be there for it. Until next time, find something to laugh about. It's good for the spirit, soul and body. If you would like to learn more about us and the livestock that we raise visit us on the web at: http://www.cozinespringsranch.com

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Learning To Live With Big Foot

by admin Email

Raising livestock is a challenge. I realized soon after deciding to raise Heritage Spanish Goats here in Oregon that there are almost as many predators that like to eat goat as there are people that like to eat goat.

WE have coyotes, bob cats, mountain lions, very large hawks and if that weren't enough, this year we have an eagle hanging around.  To add insult to injury we have lot's of very large buzzards just waiting for any left overs. Oh, the joys of raising livestock!

I decided that I was going to need help keeping our goats safe. I spent time on the web, read all my back copies of Hobby Farms and a couple of copies of The Goat Rancher and came to the conclusion that what I needed was a Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dog. They are big, fast and have always been raised to guard livestock. They get their name from the Great Pyrenees Mountains in France. These dogs have been bred and raised there for hundreds of years.

Once I knew what I needed I had to find out where to get one so, back to the web, The Goat Rancher and Hobby farms. I looked through articles and classified ads and came up with a list of breeders to check out. That was an experience worth talking about, but we'll do that another day. I checked with six breeders in just as many states and found out that I was going to need to take out a second on my house in order to buy one and have it shipped to Oregon.

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth. After regaining my composure I decided to take the matter to the Chairman of the Board (my wife) and let her make the purchasing decision. After listening to me intently as I  rambled on about the necessity to invest in this new safety equipment, peace of mind issues, Etc, etc., my wife of 45 years stood up and said" Honey, you are not going to get me to choose one of these animals so you can blame me if it doesn't work out. Go ahead and get the one you want but there are three things to remember, He cannot stink, he must not chase my chickens and he WILL NOT come in my house."

Well, having gotten the board meeting over with I picked the phone up to dial a breeder in Georgia and at the last second, my life changed drastically. In my infinite wisdom it came to me that maybe, just maybe our local Animal Control might come across one of these dogs so I called them. I expected to hear laughter but instead the lady said," That's incredible, We picked up a Great Pyrenees two weeks ago and no one has called looking for him. He's neutered, had his shots, has an ID chip implanted and he can be adopted for $100.00.

Wow, I felt like the guy standing in the middle of a casino and hitting a huge jackpot. Man, this was going to solve my problems and save me big bucks. Whoopieee, trust me, I headed for the pound in a flash. As I look back on that moment now, I can just barely hear that nagging tiny, tiny, itsy-bitsy voice saying " You get what you pay for Harless, You get what you pay for Harless, You get what........ I have always had a very strong sense of highly trained selective hearing and at times like these, I manage to let it kick in! Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow.........

When I got to the pound I checked in at the desk and let them know that I had come to adopt my Great Pyrenees dog. The lady looked at me with a quizzical look and ask if I wanted to see him first. "Sure, lead me to him". When we walked into the caged building there were dogs in almost every cage barking, howling and some snarling. We stopped in front of a large cage and there he was. He was sitting there staring at me quietly. He was huge, and looked like a Golden Retriever on steroids. Great Pyrenees dogs are white. All white. I looked at the lady and she said" Mostly Great Pyrenees. He's a giant teddy bear. " I asked how much he weighed and she replied that he had just been weighed that morning and he weighed eighty pounds. " He'll get bigger".

I decided that even though he wasn't pure Great Pyrenees I would adopt him anyway. I could make it work. I mean after all he had the right blood pumping through his veins. It couldn't be that hard to get him trained. Remember that tiny little voice I talked about earlier. Hmmmm. I have never met such a friendly dog. He acted like I was his long lost friend. Of course part of that may have come from the doggie crackers I was slipping him.

In order to properly finish this story I should stop here for a moment and recap some very interesting points. From the title of this article to this spot, there are some red flags that should have been very evident to me.

•First red flag, the dog was picked up by animal control and no one had even called looking for him.

• Second red flag, he came with lot's of extras and was cheap.

•Third red flag, the tiny voice.

•Fourth red flag, dog was the wrong color.

•Fifth red flag, "He'll get bigger."

•Sixth red flag, that tiny voice. Hmmmmm.

Well, back at the ranch. I drove straight to the barn to introduce my wonderful Heritage Spanish Goats to their new guardian. I guess that I expected a welcoming committee, a sigh of relief or something . Well, I'll stop right there for now. I'll pick up with my story next time around. It's very, very interesting.

Until next time, find something to laugh about. It's good for the body, soul and spirit.

Harless

If you would like to know more about us, our ranch and the livestock that we raise visit us on the web at: http://www.cozinespringsranch.com We would love to have you visit.

 

 

 

 

 

Piece Of Cake

by admin Email

I remember that when I was a child all of my favorite stories began with "Once upon a time, long, long ago", so I am going to begin this with Once upon a time, not nearly long enough ago, I decided to be a cowboy.

This morning my wife reminded me that today is the day for the demise of Lucifer. That's right, Lucifer! Lucifer was born here on the ranch one year ago this month and from his first day on earth I realized that he had been sent by the evil one. His primary mission was to make my life as miserable as possible. Lucifer in earthly form was a half Spanish and half Boer goat. To look at, he was a very beautiful goat. His mother is truly a sweet thing and she was so upset over her kidding results that she tried to shove Lucifer off to another doe and adopt her kid instead. That should tell you something.

This animal for the last year has found more ways to go through fences, mess in the feed troughs, wade in the water tanks, get his horns stuck in fences, and I won't even mention right now what it took to get him wethered at 2 1/2 months of age.

Well, as this day approached, I managed to get Lucifer away from the herd and into our isolation pen. Of course I had to spend an entire day fortifying the pen first and then got him moved with a half dozen bruises and small lacerations. No, not on him, on Me! The isolation pen is inside a large barn at the top of a hill about 300 feet from the corrals where he would eventually have to be.

When my wife reminded me of today's event (the mobile butcher was coming) she asked how I was going to get him down to the corral. I looked at her and said "Piece of cake" hon, I'm from Texas, I'll just cowboy him. I'm pretty sure I heard her giggling under her breath as she walked away. I asked her where she was going and she just mumbled something about 911... ambulance or something like that. Hmmm, no faith I thought.

I walked up to the barn and peered over the gate into the isolation pen. There was Mr. hell on four legs standing in the middle of the pen staring at me like he was daring me come in there. I got my handy cowboy lasso and entered the pen. Hell hath no fury like a goat roped. Before I could take up the slack he charged the gate and with his full 95 pounds hit it so hard that the gate hinge broke and the gate fell flat. Lucifer lunged through the opening jerking me completely off my feet. I regained my footing and continued taking up slack when he lunged again. This time I went head first into a mud puddle and slid right through a very large cow pie. Oh, the joys of owning livestock.

I managed to get to my feet and get Lucifer wrestled up next to me so I could get semi-control of him. We made our way slowly down the hill. Lucifer planting all four hooves and leaning back away from me as I drug him a few feet and then wildly charging past me, reaching the end of the rope and jumping straight up into the air while doing a triple twist, hitting the ground hard and then we would repeat the show.

My wife was standing next to the corral with the gate open. I got Lucifer into a small pen at the end of a run and slammed the gate. I worked the rope off of him and he calmly began eating the seed heads off of the grass that had grown up there. My wife smiled and said "Come on inside, I want to patch up those bruises and cuts. I made you a nice fresh pot of coffee and ....I have you a nice piece of cake."

Until next time, Find something to laugh about. It's good for the body, soul and spirit.

Harless

If you want to know more about us and our naturally raised livestock visit us on the web at: http://www.cozinespringsranch.com

 

 

 

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