Sunday, June 22, 2014

My New BFF - Hurley the Sheep

Shepherdess.  What do you think of when you hear that word?  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be tending sheep.   My daughter, Rochelle, hubby Thomas and little guy, William, live in a remote area on a large acreage.  They recently got some sheep.  They went to Hawaii.  The family....not the sheep.

"Mom, would you be able to take care of the animals while we are gone?"

"Of course, Honey.  You know I will."

"Mom......we got sheep."

"You got WHAT?"

Apparently, sheep fertilize the fields very well -- a requirement to grow the hay for the soon coming horse and cows. Hence, organic fertilizer - sheep poop. If I am asked to care for the animals next year, will that make me a farmer instead of a shepherdess?

This trip to Hawaii is their first vacation in years.  Off I go, to tend the sheep and care for my four-legged buddies -- they have six dogs and a cat as well.

At this posting, I've only been on the job a couple days but would like to introduce you to my crew and the sheep.  I am sure many funny stories will be forthcoming.

Do you have any idea how much poop there is with six dogs running around the yard?  A LOT! Every day I am on Poop Patrol.  I walk around the yard and shovel up the poop.  When I am here visiting my grandson, he rides around on his bike to point out the piles to me and gets very bossy if I don't get there fast enough.

"Here, Marma, HERE.  Here is more poop, Marma.  Hurry Marma, there's poop here."  He is on a mission and there is a lot of poop to find and clean up.  Gramma isn't as quick as she used to be.

Allow me to introduce you to the 'kids.'  Many of you will remember some of these critters and their exploits in my 26 posts on funny dog stories I shared in April.

The Background Crew
First is Louie Vuitton.  Louie was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, as his name indicates.  I wonder what he thinks about walking through the poop fields helping Gramma bring home the sheep.

Next is Lola,  the offspring of Louie and Lily.  Lola is the most obedient of the bunch but she is definitely challenged - mentally and physically.

Lily the Intimidator, wife of Louie.  I bet Lily could take care of the sheep all by herself.  She is DEFINITELY the Pack Leader.

The Foreground Crew
Please remember that most of the dogs who lived with us or my daughter and her family, are rescue dogs. Many of them have/had problems but all are loyal to the core.  This is Dakota.  He is a large 120 pound gentle giant German Shepherd. The kindest and smartest dog you could ever meet. He patrols the property and no predator has a chance with this guy.  He may be very old but he is very strong.  When the new addition to the family gets out of hand, Dakota 'gently' swats her and the message is clear.

The new addition.  Definitely my biggest challenge.   Her name is Charlie.  When I did the blogging challenge in April of 26 dog stories, Rochelle had just rescued Charlie within 24 hours of her permanent doom.  She was a six-month old neglected Bernese Mountain Dog that lived in a small cage. She adores people and loves her new home.  When she sees you she leaps with joy, usually knocking you off your feet.  Did I mention, she was in heat?  Try to imagine what it is like putting a doggie diaper on a 110 pound dog who thinks this is a new game.

I straddle her and try to hold her tight between my legs.  That lasts about 10 seconds.  Try again. This time I am able to get one side of the diaper on her and she turns into a noodle.  Flat on her back, wiggling with anticipation of a belly rub.  Now the tape has torn from all her activity.  Diaper number two.  Same scenario.  I shout her name and she stops for two seconds.  Diaper number three.  These diapers aren't cheap.  You may be thinking "Why doesn't she just use some new tape?"  Surely you jest!  You try holding a large squiggly beast between your legs while putting on a diaper and cutting tape from a dispenser.  Thank goodness she only has to wear her diapers when she is in the house at nighttime.

And precious Willow.  Thomas found Willow tied to a dumpster when it was 24 degrees below zero outside.  She had been shot and left to die.

At first light, usually around 4:45 A.M. it is time to tend the sheep.  Tomorrow morning, when you wake up and have your coffee in the comfort of your kitchen or bedroom, please remember where I will be - in a poopy field.   My audience of five dogs watch while I clean out the shelter.  Louie is with me -- he likes to rub noses with Hurley, the male.

Hurley is six months old and has a harem of two older females.  The girls had been neglected and possibly abused.  They are terrified of people but I hold the hay in my hand for them to eat, rather than put it in their stall.  They are starting to trust me.  Did I mention how much SHEEP SMELL?

I bring the hay into the field, the sheep follow me to a 'clean' spot, eating en route.  Hurley, my BFF, stays close to me, rubbing himself against my leg and begging for some love.  Now, Louie takes over. He watches them with his keen eye while Gramma cleans out the sheep stall.  This is the fun part. Suffice it to say, I will not describe the various types of poop -- let's leave that to your imagination.

Did I mention that SHEEP POOP SMELLS?  Did I mention that SHEEP POOP A LOT?   I swear my trusty crew of five dogs are laughing at me.  They would probably love to help, if I permitted them to come through the gate.

Now, my day can start.  Walking back home with 6 dogs beside me, I am thankful for the fresh morning air, the sun peeking over the mountain tops and for my daughter and her husband who go to great lengths to save wounded or discarded animals.  A cup of java sounds really good!    

Stay tuned -- I am here for another week!

I almost forgot -- do you like my shepherding outfit?

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