Friday, January 6, 2012

Waitin' on a Woman

Ellie Mae joined the farm team back in December of ’09. She came as part of a trade deal…to be a companion for Jed…to work as our “back-up” guardian dog. Despite the fact that I thought it was a good plan…I wasn’t real impressed…

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never seen myself as a dog person. I guess we all change over time. Today, I couldn’t imagine this place without the “bark-o-matics”, the “white wonders”, the “goober-dogs”, the “doofus twins”…whatever you want to call them. They definitely add to the “atmosphere” of the farm.

When Ellie first came, she was scared to death…of us…of the farm…of everything. We locked her in the barn to acclimate. Sometime in the night, she escaped. She had to “do her business” and dogs generally don’t do that where they are sleeping. I had anticipated this need and set out to the barn around midnight. No Ellie Mae! I panicked when I realized it was the middle of the night, I had no idea where this puppy was, and she certainly hadn’t “bonded” to the farm. I called her, knowing full well she didn’t know her name…she hadn’t even had a name before she came to the hill. But, amazingly, she came romping out of the darkness…looking like she was happy to see me.

It’s been over two years since that night. Now, I can hardly step out the door without hearing her tags jingling as she comes to greet me. She always looks happy…almost like she wants to laugh.

The primary job for the dogs is to guard the sheep…in theory anyway. They bark at a lot of things, they lick the sheeps’ ears, noses and tails…but, I have no idea if they actually PROTECT anything. We know if crows, dogs, deer and vehicles cross the property line. Sometimes we are warned of completely unseen dangers. But, mostly Ellie waits…

She waits when I work in the garden.

Since the dogs are the size of small ponies, with feet the size of Sasquatch, and an amazing propensity for digging, they are denied access to the part of the farm dedicated to crops. The eradication of groundhogs, rabbits and coons would be wonderful, but the potential loss the dogs would cause with their undeniable presence would overshadow any positive outcome. So she waits…

She waits when I take a walk. She accompanies me to the lane, lies down by the gate and waits until I come back to accompany me back to the house. She then trundles off to the barn to make her rounds.

She waits while I feed the sheep. She waits while I work in the hoophouse.

She waits and waits and waits. The time of day or type of weather doesn't matter...she just waits.

Sometimes she waits alone, sometimes Jed or Booooyyy will grant her a little company.

She’s perfectly happy with a pat on the head, most of the time. If the pat on the head is slow in coming, she will hold out a paw, or nose my hand. Then, she’s content to wait …and wait…and wait.

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