Miley is 13 and takes Maisey's lead. She's gentle but needs a lot of affirmation.
Spike is fourteen, his hearing is failing but his attitude is strong.
Eva is younger but she has a plate and rod in her front legs. She gets around fine, though.
They're all mentors. Their job is to teach Gus the rules of our farm.
When we move cattle they wait for the herd to walk past. They follow any stragglers pressuring them. They are Quiet and patient.
The ewes are protective of their lambs so the dogs keep a greater distance. They pressure the sheep without chasing or barking. When the sheep move in the right direction the dogs back-off. This rewards the flock. When the sheep stop, or deviate course, the dogs pressure them again.
On our daily walk up the lane there are no rules. It's a free-for-all. They wrestle, bark, and fight for the best stick, bone, or toy. They chase deer, flush pheasant or turkey and run wild. They bark, growl, and race ahead.
But, the dogs are always quiet when they're with the livestock. With great role models and consistent work the new guy, Gus is catching on.
Oh, and then there's Grant. He's teaching Gus how to nap. Grant's specialty is sleeping in the sun, or on the sofa, surrounded by the chew toys that he took from the puppy.
HUMOR: Proof of who's your best friend:
This will dispel all rumors…
If you don’t believe it, just try this experiment:
Put your dog and your wife in the trunk of the car for an hour.
When you open the trunk, see who's really happy to see you.
Keith got home from a soil building conference and pasture walk which featured a speaker who ranches in the Dakotas. Last winter they fed four hundred cattle on 300 acres of cover crops and stockpiled forage. They didn't feed a single bale of hay. They also run a lodge which is a hunting, fishing, and working cattle ranch for vacationers.
Keith and I looked through their vacation packages. We were getting excited about all the activities offered. This vacation would just be for the two of us, Cookie will be in Peru, Garrett in Germany. Part of the all-inclusive vacation package is allowing guests to choose their adventure and incorporate it into their stay. Keith loves to fish, I like working with horses and cattle. Keith could spend his day's fishing and I could ride, work cattle, and experience a REAL ranch. As we searched through the website we became even more enthusiastic; jeeps and ATV's are available for the guests to use as they explore the ranch.
We looked through the price guide for each vacation package and started setting a budget.
Then I looked out my window where three perfectly beautiful, well broke, horses were grazing. “You'd like to work with the horses and calves,” Keith said. I glanced out the window in the other direction and saw a few calves running together. A couple of days ago, when we moved the cattle, one calf ran in the wrong direction. After trying to get it headed in the right direction Keith decided to rope it so it would move along with the herd. Garrett was reaching for the calf at the same time Keith was casting the rope, he caught Garrett's arm along with the calf.
“The fishing would be great for you, you haven't gone fishing in a while. It would be relaxing,” I said. Again, from our window, I looked across the hills where the Turkey River winds through the valley. It has some great fishing spots. The Big Springs Trout Hatchery is just around the corner from our farm.
“We could go on daily hikes, or drive jeeps or ATV's. We could go exploring every afternoon and at night they have a great restaurant featuring grass-fed beef,” I let out an audible sigh, “although, no one produces better grass-fed beef than us.”
"That's true,” Keith nodded, “You know, we're surrounded by hiking trails. Pikes Peak State Park and the Effigy Mounds aren't far away. We could go boating on the Mississippi River anytime we choose, it's just a few miles away. There are tributary rivers to kayak or canoe or we could use the bicycle paths, ATV trails, or drive our old jeep on any adventure we'd like.”
Suddenly I had an epiphany, “Your right! People pay money, a lot of money, to go on a vacation to experience how we live our daily life. Our life is a vacation!” Some days it's no picnic, but, apparently it is a vacation!"
This is the cover of Successful Farming Magazine for May, 1952. Notice where the sows are? They're living outside. The tractor's moving the house to new ground. That's successful farming!
Here's how the caption describes the picture:
"It's pasture time on the Williamson farm in Indiana. The first to go are the sows and pigs. Right behind them are the houses, feeders and waterers. Willimson likes to have the farrowing houses close at hand for winter farrowing, but pasture gets the nod for late-spring and fall pigs. They're farrowed right out on the alfalfa-brome-Ladino pasture.
Pictured on this month's cover is one of Williamson's individual-type farrowing houses being moved from the winter location to pasture. The pigs seen in this picture were farrowed in early April. After weaning, the pigs are shifted to range houses, making the individual houses available for June-farrowed pigs.
The pastures are rotated each year as a precaution against disease. ...All equipment, including feeders, waterers, and houses, is on skids and can be easily moved."