Apocalyptic Homesteading (Day 637)
Chicken thoughts, Bob Backwards, Wilderness work dogs explained, More packing progress & A little escapism!
I am up before the sun this morning and am still letting the espresso work its magic as my mind slowly wakes up all the way. Pieces of the dreams that I was having are still flitting through my mind's eye but whoa given how intense they were I would rather not dwell on them. I have been actively shying away from recalling more of them which yeah kind of speaks for itself as far as their intensity goes.
Sometimes I have to really avoid the inclination to spell some of those more intense dreams out in these entries because I know just how 'involving' of a process that can be and just how much writing is required to convey the full picture. Or at least as 'full of a picture' as my command of the English language allows for without spending hours and hours doing so. Heck, sometimes I wonder if it is 'I that the language commands' but lets not get going down that rabbit warren!
Bob Backwards (yeah his name is an intelligence test that most folks fail at) is doing his morning crowing and I gotta admit that at this point I seldom notice him (or his brother Bob for that matter) making such noises unless I am outdoors and in their direct vicinity. Mainly when I am close to them it is just hard to ignore given 'the set of pipes' they have on them! I guess that over time I have adjusted to them and find all the ruckus to be an oddly soothing background noise!
Overall, I have been really happy with the chickens, what they do as far as tick (and general pest) control, how low maintenance they are and of course how they tend to cohabitate well with the dogs. The only downside to them has been how hard they are on the vegetation. Especially so in regards to the ground cover (like grass) but I think given a large enough dog yard and a hardy enough grass that would be a non-issue or just less of an issue as it has been here.
Something that I have noticed with them is how actively they tend to turn over the topsoil caught in the topsoil trap when I begin running low on their feed and start rationing out the portions that I give them into smaller amounts. Do not worry I assuredly do not under-feed them and my 'rationing' is more that I do not 'over-feed' them! Of course they also eat bugs and even the pokeweed berries (and who knows what else) every day so if anything they have a smaller 'buffet' than usual!
In short I love the little critters, what they do and how they fit into my overall setup and lifestyle. I know that folks probably have a hard time wrapping their head around it all but much like the four dogs... the four chickens are in no way shape or form a hassle, a burden or something that I would ever want to go without having in my life again!
Well, maybe with the exception of Bob Backwards and his hostile disposition but hey even that is fine considering that I can get him from his pen and he will literally make one hell of a go at attacking any living thing he can! Not that I have ever done so with him (have him attack) but I do always keep it in the back of my mind that if I ever have a situation with say trespassers who may be violent appearing in the middle of the night... and I find myself wanting some hardcore backup... I know who to turn to!
I know it comes off sounding kind of messed up but I do think of him as my 'nuclear option' for dealing with troublesome things even if just for the distraction he would provide... and of course the general chaos he can create! Honestly, I think that if he had a few hens as ornery as he is I think that he would mellow out over time but for now I really like him just the way he is!
I am going to 'jump track' here and express some things about the dogs that keep running through my mind of late. Since I am having to find a new place I keep having to try to explain them, our relationship and more or less what they do as far as work dogs go. Believe me I find the topic incredibly challenging because I know how rare such a relationship is in this country and most folks experiences with dogs are centered around them being 'trained' as pets. Yeah, the disdain in that last bit is intentional!
First off, a good thing to point out would be that they assuredly operate in some capacity as 'service dogs' (or in my case a service pack) and the reasons for that should be rather obvious given how therapeutic having them in my life has been. But I do not want to focus too much on that outside of the fact that it should give you a good reference as far as what I mean (in part) by referring to them as work dogs.
Secondly, I will once again try to lay out what 'work' they actually do aside from the usual dog behaviors like being alert to changes in the world around them, barking at unfamiliar humans, protecting the chickens (or any critters that they see me feeding) and generally doing all the stuff 'normal' dogs do. Their main work revolves around pushing/herding (in other words not attacking) large predators and driving them away from a property they have been trained on.
The predator part amounts to things that they have been extensively familiarized with like coyote packs, bears and to some degree large cats. With the cats I think they just tend to naturally shy away from dogs and I have never seen them actually herd one or anything like that as I have seen them do with the coyotes and bears. Oddly enough they do a similar type of low engagement herding with problematic two-legged critters but that is a different 'ball of wax' entirely.
The other work that they do is alerting on snakes. Oddly enough they have begun to pretty much ignore Eastern King Snakes at this point mainly I think because they have a particular scent and the dogs have caught on that I actually like them and want them around. If you think I am giving them too much credit their... you obviously do not know these dogs, their level of intelligence and my distaste for giving things more credit than they deserve.
Mainly though as far as their work goes (and the only kind I am super comfortable having them do at their age) is controlling rodent populations. Now you can believe it or not because as with most things... folks 'belief' has zero impact upon the truth.... but they are highly trained at surrounding a pile of stuff (say some tarp covered building materials or a mound of brush or whatever) when I physically point them on it and then begin doing their best to flush the rodents from it and catching them.
It is worth noting that yeah they are pretty patient with my own involvement because most of the time I have to shuffle stuff around so they can actually get to where the rodents are but that is neither 'here nor there' as the saying goes. Once they do get a rodent (in this example rats or mice) they do a short bit of prancing around with it before dropping it (on command) so that I can fully dispatch the critter before burying it in a compost mound or garden bed.
The other rodents that they tend to get some especial glee from dealing with are voles (and their smaller cousins moles but mainly the voles) and the reason that I say the 'especial' part is because it is the one instance that I am okay with them digging. To be clear here, aside from the few out of the way dog wallows that they like making to lay in which is usually near or beneath a structure that creates ample shade... they are not big on digging... even when it comes to fences!
I always look at the vole thing as one of the best uses of their talents because of how destructive the little buggers tend to be to plants and trees. Again the dogs will manage the voles on their own (if they find them in the dog yard) but I can literally take them anywhere, point to where their are signs of voles (like mounded tunnels and such) and they will 'set to it' much like they do with the rats and/or mice.
Basically they will find the freshest scent and begin digging (sometimes taking turns) until they find where the vole is. Sometimes I help them with the aid of a trenching shovel if necessary but that is really off topic. They assuredly do not get all the voles in 'one fell swoop' but over time they will absolutely devastate a vole population which yeah is super handy in agricultural situations where they have an abundant food supply and have become over-populated.
Wow it took a lot of words to cover all that but in a nutshell that covers most of what I consider to be their jobs and the 'work' that they do. The last and final part that is worth mentioning (aside from how they leave horses and livestock alone) is something someone once said that keeps replaying in my mind lately.
I dunno how many years ago it was but at the time the dogs were still young and I was looking for a place to move to and someone I know (one of the few people that are keenly aware of me and the dogs relationship through firsthand experience) said something in response to a question they saw someone asking (on a public forum) about the dogs. I am unsure of how the initial question was phrased but I do recall it had an overtone of 'Four dogs! That seems like a hassle!' and this person's response (the one with firsthand experience) was: It is better to think of them as one dog.
Now on the surface that may seem like a very odd thing to say but what I think they meant and what most folks rapidly realize about the dogs... is that yeah although they are all very much their own 'characters' they all follow the same commands (as a unit/pack or individually) and more or less operate in such a way that they are never underfoot sans thunderstorms, explosions, fireworks or gunshots.
Nor do they make any undue ruckus (as packs tend to do) aside from getting into the occasional squabble which would probably happen less if the younger dogs were not all siblings and the older dog not their mom. I doubt that I need to point out that 'families tend to fight and squabble' and that just seems to be the case even when it comes to humans so go figure!
Back to what I was getting at there, the dogs have pretty much lived in small spaces with me their entire lives and while most folks (and maybe most dogs) would go absolutely bonkers in such close quarters... they do very well at it and stay out of each others (and my own) way when any of us are moving around. The only real 'problem' that I have encountered in that regard is that recently my eldest dog is slowing way down and the others can be a bit impatient on getting past her when they are all going inside or outside at one time but that is unrelated to the point I was trying to make there.
Okay, that pretty much covers it but anytime I talk about the dogs (and especially so with folks that do not know me, them, our close relationship and the role we play on a piece of land) I also have to explain some of the things that they are not. By no means are they attack dogs and even with a problematic human the worst they will do (to date) is surround them 'keep them in place' and effectively hold them their while circling them and barking at them. Oddly enough the majority of folks get a very different treatment (a very friendly one) but that is neither here nor there.
They are also by no means hunting dogs aside from the aforementioned rodent hunting and although they could do it... it is just not what I want them doing. There were several times when their mom was younger and I was going through much leaner times that she would fetch me a rabbit but at this point I tend to keep enough food around for myself that she never gets such an inclination to start with.
Do not get me wrong their because when I used to take them hiking with me (off the leash) if we stumbled upon something when walking (or they flushed something like a grouse) they would absolutely go for it but I think that is just something any dog would do in that sort of scenario. To be clear there I can generally call them off it in short order but if it is something they are 'right on top of' those natural instincts are hard to dissuade them (or most dogs) from.
I mean I have literally stood several times with them on one side of me (perhaps five meters away) with a herd of deer on my other side (maybe another five meters away) and neither them nor the deer have all that much (if any reaction) to each other. Of course that is given that they are deer that have been coming around often and are more or less grazing nearby on a routine basis but hopefully you understand what all that really means.
Well, there is probably much more that I could say about the entire dog topic but I think that covers the important stuff in regards to the questions folks tend to ask about them. For my part I have a very relaxed approach with them at this point aside from when I have to be 'stern' so they know I am serious. It is also worth mentioning that I am rather proud that they neither want to run off, be destructive of inanimate objects, get into the trash (or even my food that is well within reach of them) and generally speaking are (at this point) just as big of a 'homebody' (or homebodies) as their daddy is!
The only other thing that I can really think of in regards to them is something that I expressed several days ago in the entry from 'Day 632' where I explain the kind of human behaviors that the dogs (and myself) have very little (okay basically zero) tolerance for. I will not re-cap all that here and while I could do some quick copy and pasting to cover it (or word it out all over again) I am content that I expressed it well enough in that entry and will leave it at that aside from saying: Human strife in any form distresses them because yup it distresses the fuck out of me also!
Okay, the morning is dragging on here and the sun is up over the horizon and although I tend to only drink one cup of espresso in the morning... I am now halfway through my second cup and feeling a bit like I may have overdone it a bit! I am sure I will have no complaints once I get outdoors, start knocking out my morning chores and move on to doing some hiking afterwards... but whoa sitting here hyper-focusing on 'being clear' with what I am writing is making me feel more than a little squirrely!
Alright, it is now well into the afternoon and I just awoke from a much needed nap. During which I had an incredibly intense dream that is still running roughshod over all my other thoughts and I have been awake now a solid fifteen minutes or more! I think it best to avoid writing about it though because whoa I like keeping it in its 'pristine' form without the written word unintentionally degrading the quality or clarity of the memories.
Anyway, I spent a good portion of the afternoon sorting through stuff in the shop tent which basically means that I threw more ruined stuff away, separated out the burnables and repacked what can be salvaged into a temporary box so that I can wash it later. That is pretty much the treatment everything stored in there needs to get but I do not want to get fired up about that at the moment.
I probably could have gotten a lot more done in there today but with all the recent rain last night (and for the last few days actually) the tent was muggy which is not so bad by itself but it is also rank with the smells of rodent feces and urine. Which yeah combined with the muggy hot moldy/mildew smelling air inside the tent makes it completely gross as far as working environments go!
The best thing that I can do is use the next sunny day (when no rain is expected) to move as much stuff from the tent that I can, to in front of it where I can sort through everything and not be stuck doing so in its rank confines! I mean ugh its gross and yeah those losses (in regards to the ruined stuff) are still mounting and still getting to me in a way that I find incredibly annoying.
Aside from all that jazz, I also went hiking but honestly I was not all that much into it today and kind of did it in a mindless (almost robotic) way that gave me some exercise but not much else. All of which probably has more to do with my mood than anything else and my mood assuredly could be doing better... but it is not... because I keep finding myself preoccupied with thinking about all the moving stuff.
I guess that is part of why I started re-reading that book series recently because I really need a wee bit of escapism to help my mind at the moment. I guess that saying 'I am out of focus on purpose' would be an applicable one in that regard! Of course slipping off into the world of The Dark Tower sure does the trick rather well and yeah some of the main character's clarity (in the books) strikes at the heart of the kind of clarity my own mind needs at the moment.
Well, it is now that time of day when the sun is setting so I best wrap this entry up, get on with the editing and posting and call my day complete. I did write another article today called Homesteading Resources which can be found here: https://peakd.com/hive-114308/@jacobpeacock/homesteading-resources
I hope that everyone is doing well and has a nice day/night.
I absolutely loved this post, your words tell how much you love your animals, even Bob Backwards which I just love the name, and the other one is Bob, I love it. We had a dachshund that would dig a hole so deep that he would disappear and come out with a mole. I could never figure out how he knew where it was under there. Good nose, I guess.
I am glad you enjoyed it and that my love for the critters is evident. I almost included something like: If you cannot tell I love the dogs fiercely and obviously they love me just as much!
Yeah the Bobs are brothers and whoa do they look almost identical but have very opposite personalities! Bob is super chill but very protective of the hens.
Ha on the mole hunting! Yeah they just need a whiff of the scent to find them. I think it is because underground there are not many competing scents.
Great Crypto post. We've reshared it.