~~Shaking a grain bucket is enough for us to effectively move the sheep around the farm, or even to neighbors' properties for weed eating duties.
The saying 'White Sheep Follow, Black Sheep Think', is more analogous to people than sheep - although several of our sheep are smarter than the others. Regardless, all sheep are addicted followers, which works well for livestock management.
Grain is a "drug" that sheep cannot say no to. Since they only get grain when we need to move them around, we shamelessly deal it out and our QT "junkies" always come 'n get it.
Neville, our black-faced Welsh coal miner, is also a Pembroke. Our groomer rescued him from doggie death row in 2013. He's about five and was very overweight and still intact when we adopted him. He was marked for deletion because he was exhibiting the same traits we needed in a new alpha male - assertion of his dominance over the other corgis, but not us. Without an alpha male, the two females tend to argue over who is the bigger bitch. With Neville to defer the lead role to, over a short time, both females submitted to his pack-protector role. All have now settled into a happy and cohesive pack. I've had to alpha roll him a few times for challenging Nigel, but now he knows what's acceptable and what's not. He's incredibly good with the kids. We think he was fronting his bad-guy attitude before we adopted him so he could end up where he was meant to be - at QT Farm!
My favorite artist is Tasha Tudor. We are proud to be Charter Members of her Museum in Vermont. Tasha's depictions of corgis, nature, farm life and aspects of a simple lifestyle are comforting and grounding for me. Her clothes would be considered period, her homestead was hand-built by family, and she maintained a lifestyle on her own terms until she was 92. I mourned her passing in June 2008.
Although I never met her, she is a mentor of sorts. As she endeavored to do in her life, I too aspire to slow down to the pace of life dictated by the rhythms and cycles of people and animals interacting on a farm. But, alas, reality sucks us back to the myriad distractions of modern life. Demands of earning a living, raising a family and daily chores often trump pursuits of leisurely luxuries. When the chaos crescendos, Tasha's signature saying is one I find myself deploying = "Take Joy!" No matter what the day brings, if you find a way to take joy, it can't all be bad. Even if the silver-lining of a situation isn't readily apparent, something as simple as a nice cup of tea on the porch rarely fails to readjust my attitude. Take joy from simple pleasures - I dare you!
We were surprised and delighted that our wonderful vet, Dr. Betsy Gray from Slate Creek Animal Hospital, made a financial donation to the Companion Animal Memorial Fund in memory of Dutchess. We received a letter from the U.C. Davis Director for the Center for Companion Animal Health, offering condolences and letting us know about the donation. We are truly grateful to be part of such an incredible community of thoughtful and caring people. We couldn't keep the farm going without help from Drs. Gray and Vos - Thank You!
Darcy is a Blue Merle Cardigan Corgi. She is a former show dog with prospects of becoming a breeder, but fortunately she failed at that so were able to adopt her as our third "failed" show dog. We "rescued" her from a life in a kennel in Florida and we believe she is grateful to now live free on the farm. Although her breeder was very nice, knowledgeable and raised her very well, she now gets to be a lovable pet and is learning to give kisses. She is still standoffish and skittish around too much activity, but she's getting more outgoing everyday. She was born in Dec 2014 and Dutchess passed away in Feb 2014. It is interesting how Darcy sits and sleeps in the same places Dutchess did. We searched for a blue merle girl since Dutchess passed away, but it wasn't until Nigel crossed the Rainbow Bridge and sent her to us two weeks after his passing. We're happy to be reunited with our Darcy Dutch girl.
We all miss our beautiful brindle cardigan girl. She was the perfect Omega in the pack and kept the alphas from overstepping their boundaries - a true peacemaker and love sponge. Dutchess was "sent to us" the day after our wolf-hybrid Nikita died (another beautiful Omega I had for 13 years). It was a time of many changes as it was the same week I found out I was pregnant with twins. We adopted Dutchie as a "failed show dog" from the same breeder as Nigel.
When Dutchie was 12, she was diagnosed with a plasmacytoma tumor. Rather than paying several thousands for surgery and subjecting her to toxic drugs, we let nature take its course. She almost made it to 13 and we got nearly another year with her before the tumor started bleeding out. We are hoping her and Nikita's Omega spirit will be sent back to us in the form of a blue-merle cardi girl.
Corgis are not little dogs. They are medium-sized dogs with short legs. They are herding dogs bred short so they aren't easily kicked by cattle or other livestock when they are working. For our livestock, their herding instinct amounts to harassment through the fence since I haven't trained them to herd on command to help us move sheep around the pastures.
The corgis do herd the domestic ducks that live on the pond though. The ducks play along and even taunt them by getting out of the water, then going right back in just before being caught. It's good exercise for the corgis to run continual laps around the pond, particularly during the ducks' mating season when the corgis insist on breaking up the "fights."
This name suits our pretty blue & brown-eyed girl, who we got on mother's day as a puppy - now she's six. Her mom is a Blue-Merle Cardigan (the one with a tail) and her dad is a Fluffy Pembroke. She has a good mix of attributes from her Cardi & Pem parents. As alpha female, she has turned into a cheerleader/instigator for Neville's attempts to assert dominance over the livestock, from the safety of the opposite side of the fence. It amounts to noisy barking and fussing at the sheep, goats, or alpacas, who all just blankly stare back (the livestock are better than the dogs at 'doggin'). It's annoying to both sides but something to do while they're waiting to be fed. Princess is the only corgi who's ever been able to jump on the bed, so I usually share my pillow with her since she's my favorite. (Oops, did I say that out loud?)
Our corgis like to fetch the ball and (usually) bring it back, again, and again, and again please. The squeak of the ball brings instant attention to the game. Neville thinks he's above fetching, so he leaves that job to the others. Instead, he tries to keep the others from getting the ball or blocks their attempts to run full out in their chase. Princess ignores his abuse of power and manages to have fun despite his best efforts to control her. Here's the whole gang just playing around:
Nigel passed away peacefully on 5/23/16, shortly after he turned 16 years old. Nigel was a Pembroke Welsh Corgi (the dog on the right, without a tail, Dutchess is on the left). He was our original corgi and the retired alpha male of our pack. He was deaf and blind, but didn't stop our proper British gentleman from making his daily rounds about the farm. Nigel was a one-year old "failed show dog" when we adopted him from Faerie Glen in Hollister. We had a wolf-hybrid, named Nikita, at the time we got him and she showed him how to howl at sirens.
Corgis have cute covered - cute and corgi are synonymous in our opinion. I recently read a book called 'Not in Front of the Corgis' which was an upstairs/downstairs accounting of Royal life in England. The name was derived from the fact that whenever the corgis were around, the Queen was also present so everyone was on their best behavior around the corgis. At our place, you can find me wherever the corgis are, doing their job of constant QT companions. It requires maneuvering to keep from tripping over a corgi traffic jam around the door at feeding time or out to the front porch. They are also great companions anytime on a leash or while camping. They aren't too big and overpowering so you can walk four at a time. Although a family walk with a dog each is bliss.
The dogs are on constant patrol for anything to come to the farm. They do a good job sitting on the porch with a view to survey everything in the front yard. They are always on guard, searching for movement or anything to investigate. When something doesn't come by, they are known to make something up. One barks, which leads to alert attention from the others in response. In no time they're in a frothy frenzy to chase anything or nothing - it doesn't matter, they're on it!
We get many wild ducks, geese, blue herons and egrets that visit the quarter-acre pond. Before we had Princess, the Canadian Geese would nest high in an oak tree and once their eggs were hatched, they would raise their goslings on the pond. That was cute, but extremely messy. The driveway was always covered with goose poop and the geese ate all the domestic ducks' food. We liked watching the flying lessons in the field, but were happy when they finally left in the early summer. When we adopted Princess, we gave her the job of "go get the goose." Since then no more geese raise their young on our pond. When the geese stop by for a quick bite from the ducks' bowl, Neville now joins in the action, and they work opposite each other, harassing the geese until they fly away.
Of the birds who come to fish our pond for the bass or blue gill, the Kingfishers are the ones that get the most to eat. They fly in and out, undeterred by the corgi wardens, loudly squwaking of their successes. The herons or egrets that fish by stalking along the shallow shore, however, are promptly chased away by the corgi wardens. Checking birds for their fishing licenses is a bit more than we "hired" the corgis to do, but the "mission creep" allows the fish to grow bigger for us to eat.