Angst And The Guardian Angel - Home on the Range Blog at - 314263

Home on the Range

Angst and the Guardian Angel 
Nov. 2, 2013 12:50 pm 
Updated: Nov. 9, 2013 4:27 pm

It was a fine day, so we saddled up and decided to go for a long ride. Heading across several large pastures (large being of a size in keeping with a 250,000 acre ranch) we picked our way through miles of grassland, past rock jacks, around sloughs, through willows and across fields then weaved our way back to one of my favorite places, an old willow corral. It has decayed to the point of being pretty much unusable now, but was one of the prettiest places on the ranch, in my opinion, with the willow reed fencing and the wild roses growing on it. My camera went dead which was pretty disappointing because I want to get some good pictures of what little is left of it, before it's too late. We rode on by and headed for the far side of the valley, determined to make a long, long ride today.We were several hours out and I happened to glance behind me and with mixed feelings I turned my horse around. 

Bruno, my self appointed body guard/Livestock Guardian/nursemaid/Maremma/100+ lb Guardian Angel, who is certain that I am not capable or safe anywhere on the ranch without his presence, was galloping towards us. He had apparently managed to scale the fence of the only 'dog-proof' pasture we have, in which I had contained him and he tracked us several miles across the ranch. He is built for speed and power, not for distance and his heavy coat made it even more challenging for him to and catch us in the warmth of a sunny winters day. He was obviously greatly relieved to have found me, clearly proud of himself and so strongly convinced in his own mind that he was doing a most excellent job, I couldn't reprimand him. He had a look on his face of absolute joy and accomplishment and looked at me as if to say “I am SO glad I finally found you! It’s not safe out here, there are ________ “(coyotes, cougars, field mice, strong winds)" fill in the blank.

 We turned and headed back home, Bruno happily riding drag and occasionally trotting alongside, ever watchful for predators.  He had overheated himself and I chuckled because he hates water but continued to immerse himself in every irrigation ditch we passed.

The thing about dogs...they can be trusted. They are never judgmental, or malicious. They are faithful, sincere, devoted. Honest. Loving. Dependable. Exasperating.

The fall calves have been weaned. These are smaller, younger calves and are much smaller and have a more difficult time adjusting. Most are currently 3 miles away below the processing corrals. Coyotes have been bad this year and killed a few so there are currently 3 trappers on the ranch trying to eliminate some before the cows start calving again. That puts my Maremmas at risk of being caught in a trap. I’ve had to lock Potamus in a small pen with sheep at night, and keep Bruno in the house. Potamus is the flock guardian and pretty much stays in the pen with the sheep. Bruno is a perimeter guardian and spends each night out patrolling and deterring or confronting predators. It's hard to confine them. They absolutely hate it. I’ve been letting them come in the house to eat because the ranch cats have been stealing their expensive dog food. I wish they would eat the ranch cats, but none the less, since the Maremmas haven’t been free to do their job, the ranch dogs have figured out they have free access to my chickens as well. In great frustration, I have all the chickens and guineas locked in their little henhouse for protection.

This morning in the wee hours, Bruno woke me up because he wanted out. It was all quiet so I figured he was just hot or needed a bathroom break. I opened the door and he quietly slipped through. 

This morning he was gone. He scaled the back fence again and didn’t come when I called. He could have either been guarding and disposing of a coyote kill, or he could have been caught in one of the $@!!*&# traps. I never know until he either shows up, or the trappers check their traps and find him there if he is okay or not.

It’s unbelievable how much damage anxiety can do to your body. He’s often been in the area the traps are set, and a couple of years ago was caught in one of them. I guess until the trappers are all gone, I will just have to deal with the anxiety and watch my hair turn a  lighter shade of gray day by day.

This morning Randyman told me that the cowboss complained Bruno was chasing the calves back from the fence. His sheep are on the other side of the fence so that is why he is doing what he is doing. Unfortunately, I didn't get to talk to the cowboss myself, but I do know he has disdain for LGD's as his only real experience with them was a friend who apparently got one and locked it in a barn with a bunch of lambs. It was, of course, a disaster. People seem to overlook the fact that these are still dogs and you can't just throw one out there and leave it and expect great results. It's not like putting an Alka Selter in your water. Anyway, I have moved all the sheep once again so there is no common fence between them and the calves and hope that solves the problem. I don't want any misunderstandings between my dogs and the new cowboss. When it comes to human vs dogs, dogs nearly always lose. Better to play it safe.

Nov. 2, 2013 1:27 pm
Bruno is definitely a force to be reckoned with where it comes to his charges or his territory - - if you cross that line in the sand, he's gunnin for ya - and he'll take no prisoners - - but that's his job - and he does it well. So ya can't fault a guy for being possessive of what belongs to him. You go Bruno!!
Nov. 2, 2013 2:15 pm
Bruno sounds like a terrific dog!
Nov. 2, 2013 4:47 pm
I count myself very privileged to have both of these Maremmas in our family. They are really special!
Nov. 2, 2013 5:56 pm
Bruno the Great!! Both of them are really. How have you been petey? Sure hope your having better days. You take care.
Nov. 2, 2013 6:42 pm
Been doing really well, Manella. The infusions have been helping a great deal and at least have me riding again, even if not everyday or working cows yet. Hope you are improving as well!
Nov. 2, 2013 7:07 pm
Hey again, I will be getting injections in my back on Monday, here's hoping they work.
Nov. 2, 2013 8:35 pm
I know you enjoy riding, petey, and I'm happy that you are able to do that. Your empathic understanding of animals puts you on a different level than most. I hope Bruno is OK. He is a magnificent animal, and a great help to you.
Nov. 3, 2013 3:48 pm
You have some loyal and trusty dogs at your place. Just tugs at your heart strings to see how much they value you. Makes me smile to remember my old dogs. I surely miss them . Good blog as usual.
Nov. 3, 2013 10:31 pm
Petey, Bruno is a dog who has many responsibilities that he does well. I always enjoy reading about your dogs. I also think dogs love routines and when you change their routine they usually figure a way to try to get back to their routine. My last dog Misha always knew the minute you let her in, there was a newspaper in the front yard to get. Next, breakfast. Then, after breakfast, there was the walk around the neighborhood. When something interrupted the routine, Misha would sit next to my husband or me following us around hoping the walk would begin. Usually she would get her way.
Nov. 4, 2013 8:10 am
Thanks Bibi. My animals mean a great deal to me, they have been my solace through so many things in my life. Bru and Potamus are especially special
Nov. 4, 2013 8:11 am
Thanks, Linnie. It's hard not to miss them. They can be so unforgettable!
Nov. 4, 2013 8:12 am
You are so right Lela. Misha sounds like she was a great one. Maremmas tend to be 'order freaks' to begin with, so yeah, this has really thrown him for a loop
Nov. 8, 2013 3:02 pm
I hope Bruno is alright!!!!! So glad to hear you are feeling up to riding again. How is you friend working out staying there to help you?
Nov. 9, 2013 4:27 pm
Hi Petey, I recently found your web site and am so happy I did. I'm trying to play catch up on your older posts but I had to comment now. I live on a whole 4 acres on the edge of a big city so I envy your lifestyle. Not thinking for a minute that I think it's easy. Your love of your dogs makes my heart swell. I have 2 Australian shepherds right now. They are both getting up in years, 12 & 13 but I tell you Petey they protect me like I was their mother. No one comes in my door without the older one's permission and if I'm laying down in the bedroom, even my husband can't come in without a growl to let him know she's there with me. I don't know what I will do when they are gone. Keep up with your beautiful posts and know you make us feel like we are right there with you. Has Bruno returned yet?
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About Me
Kids are raised, we are ranchhands on a 250,000 acre working cattle ranch 110 miles from the nearest small town, so we raise a lot of our own food, vegetables, fruits, milk,eggs and meat. Love riding and working cattle, but find myself spending a lot more time in the kitchen, and the garden.
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Having 2 Jersey cows as well as milk goats, playing with fresh milk is a hobby, making our own butter, yogurt, sour cream, cheeses, soap and all the other great stuff you can do with fresh raw milk.
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Homemade from scratch...anything! All traditions are sort of gone by the wayside, as we live so far from family now
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Most things from this site, this has been the best thing the internet has had to offer!
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A layered Jello dessert...the middle layer never set, so it did the 'ooze-wiggle'...and...well..I liquified a couple of chickens on 2 different occasions, turning them into a black gel. Moral of that story is, don't start cooking then go clean barns!...and there was the time that my kids were helping me make Thanksgiving dinner and SOMEbody (who resembled my youngest son) forgot to put the sugar in the pie!!!
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