Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Marcella's new arrangements

I am thoroughly enjoying working with Marcella. I am also glad I waited 10 years to bring a guard dog on-as I don't think I would have had the right boundaries early on in farming. Many people ask how I can possibly leave that little sqooshy face out in the rainy, muddy barnyard at night. The fact is it is where she wants to be. She shows that in her willingness to leave me at the gate. When we walk about the barnyard, even in four days she has become independent of me and always returns to be around the animals. I am not one to call my animals "fur babies' - they are individual creatures with non human motives - and this dog was bred to have this job. It's incredibly clear even at this age. Fascinating to watch.

She seems to have found a spot on top of the compost bed, that sits up over the lower fields-at a glance she can see the pregnant ewes who are separated out from the rest of the flock. This of course makes sense-why wouldn't she pick such a vista for the view of the flock, and she can turn the other way and see the goats.

This morning I let her come with me to let the main non bred flock out, which involves walking them out of the barnyard, down the front road past the house, and up to Muddy Hill. Marcella will eventually be spending her time with the flock, in various fields, so she needs to start learning the lay of the land now. She came along willingly and it was just fun to watch her examine the flock up on the hill. The flock however is not quite ready to accept a moving fluff ball - perhaps a rabid bunny in their eyes- to come into the field. Today I had to get the flock to a certain point in the barnyard, while holding Marcella under my arm, so the flock wouldn't flee back to the barn like yesterday. But today we made progress, some of them came up for a sniff. Eventually, I'll pen her near some of the flock and they will learn and create the dynamic.

Today I let the chickens out. I think she's young enough not to be harmful. I am told later on it might be an issue, when she is bigger but still has puppy play in her. I've been leaving the clipped ducks in, as well as Priscilla, just to be on the safe side.

It was calmer all around today, a relief. I am still keeping the llama separate, but he seems ok around the pup, I just don't know him well enough. Yesterday I went for a ride so she met Boone and that was all fine and good.

The goats are not anxious around her now- although some of them still react when she comes bounding in the barn. She is so resilient. I'm afraid the one stinker of the group is Rosie. As I was writing this post I heard crying from Marcella, but it went on and on so I dashed outside. The pigs were coming from the stall area, then Marcella, so I assume it was Rosie. Rosie also bit Raggedy Man this morning and has been snappier around Ernest at times. It is usually around food issues, which is why separation is important. But my new thought is that her hearing or eyesight is failing. I noticed the other week she seemed a bit startled when I'd go to pet her and wondered if this was happening. Assuming this, I will watch things closely. In time, Marcella will just avoid contact with the pig-like all smart Misfits learn-stay away from the grumpy pig. I found no marks on her so all is well.