Monday, October 12, 2009

Winifred Jones, Five pounds of Fearsome


Winnie...part beagle, part dauchsund. ALL Mighty.

Topping out at a beefy five pounds, she is not to be under-estimated. She is a sight AND scent hound. She can and has taken on a 25 pound raccoon, an 80 pound stray dog, several large black snakes, and she can track a mole for 10 feet and then unearth it with a flip of her snout, launching the mole in mid-air and catching it, then shake the dickens out of it until it is "deaded". She has a bay on her that would make any mountain hillbilly or European woodsman proud and send a prized purebred beagle under the table with its tail tucked, yet it grates up my spine to a spot right between my shoulder blades and I realize I'd rather be in a room full of nails-on-chalkboard. She is a snappy, stealthy, tireless and fierce hunter. And in an instant, with a single hand pat against my leg, she will positively melt into butter and slide her body towards me begging for a touch.

But..there are days when I want to take her for a nice drive to a cemetery, and come back..minus one.

Like yesterday for instance. I had Winnie and Truffle both on heightened security since there has been a duck egg thief on the loose. Something has been stealing the eggs, carrying them to higher places (found one ontop of the hay in the barn) and eating them, leaving behind only remnants of shell.

I don't take kindly to thieves on my farm.

It looked like the doin's of a masked bandit, but honestly, it baffled me as I couldn't imagine when or how a raccoon could slip past our four farm dogs to even step foot on this property. Zero and Polar, the two very large livestock dogs, patrol the henhouse and goat pen. When they start into their warning bark...the ducks, chickens, and goats know to be on alert. Truffle and Winnie are in charge of covering ground along the fenceline and all corners of the property. They will sit on high places and watch.

An intruder would have to be incredibly sneaky and ballsy to slide past such tight security, but something was obviously getting by. broad daylight....I caught the thief! I was walking in from the garden and saw Winnie doing a plucky, happy little trot towards the house...with a duck egg in her mouth!

"WINNIE!!!" I hollered, gathering up the hem of my skirt and taking off like lightning. "DROP IT"!!!

She startled and turned to face me, first shock then guilt, then panic...she saw me running at her full force and she lit out towards the porch! I was going to wring her little neck!! "DROP IT!!!"

She made a split second decision to drop the egg and save herself by darting underneath the porch through a hole in the trellis.

I caught up to the egg (Winnie was LONG gone) and let my skirt fall back down as I bent over to pick up the egg. It was in perfect unharmed condition other than dog drool..not even a hairline crack (duck egg shells are very thick, luckily for her).

So, Winnie is my duck egg thief, and I very much wanted to load her up for a long drive to a cemetery somewhere. Oooh that dog.

And then..there are days like today, when I realize what an asset to the farm Winnie is:

Something bad was hiding in the bean field this morning. The beans have not been harvested yet, so it is a perfect "blind" for any predators wanting to stalk my chickens. And something was out there.

Whatever it was attempted an attack on a hen and all four dogs sounded off. I came flying out of the house. Winnie and Truffle, screaming, charged out in the same direction towards the field. The rooster let out a squawk of "imminent danger" and the chickens and ducks scurried out from the garden, the farm fields, the pasture, the woods, and back to the safety of the henhouse under Zero's protective nose. The goats bunched up together in a tight bundle and layed low.

I don't know if whatever it was actually nabbed my hen succesfully, I didn't have time to stop and make a head count..but the dogs were on it, and Winnie was in a fury of attack mode. She became a ferocious wonder, hackles raised, baying and screaming, teeth bared and snappy. Truffle had her back, and I ran full speed to release Polar from her tether, then as she took out I shouted and hollered across the fields to the stalker "GET OUTTA HERE!!!!! HAAAAHH!!!! GET OUT!!!"

It was a crazy 3 minutes of shouting, hunting, baying, barking, confusion, which direction did it go? But among all, Winnie was intense in leading the hunt. Like my intolerance to an egg thief, she doesn't take well to anything stealing our hens or ducks, she just can't tolerate it. She takes it very personally.

Even an hour later, things are not quite settled down. The chickens are still a bit uneasy, using extreme caution to venture even a few feet from Zero and the henhouse. Winnie and Truffle are back at their command posts as is Polar, and they are keeping watch. I did take a head count and it 'seemed" all heads were accounted for, even my four banty hens.

So, as irritating as little five pound Winnie can be on some days, she has a job here, and she is worth every ounce of her kibble.

Truffle on the other hand...well...he'll be a whole 'nother blog someday. Oy.