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Life with the Mikatura gang!

Life here is never boring...below are a few stories of things the furbrats have done...hope you enjoy!

Joe & Molly’s Spring Adventure (March 28, 1999):

Well, it's been quite a day here in Alberta...this morning Joey and Molly took off across the field after a coyote and lead Foss a merry chase for about a mile...mostly uphill and mostly through heavily wooded areas till they finally decided the coyote was far enough from their property and they left him...on the way back Molly disappeared for a couple of minutes to rustle around in the bush...she ended up doing a very triumphant trek home firmly clutching a coyote leg in her mouth!!! We're guessing one of the local ranchers must have winged one of the coyotes and it went back to the pack and died...then became just another source of food for them. It's nearly whelping time for them and they are hungry...we see at least 8 or more every day in the fields behind the house...hunting gophers. Molly, Dani and Joey take great delight in running them off but never get close enough to them to worry us...we just keep a good close eye on them and call them back if they go out too far...well normally we do but they just wouldn't listen this morning! At any rate while they were having a lovely walk on the wild side, there was me driving like a mad woman to get up to the top of the hill and head them off at the oil lease road...I had a lovely drive, saw a dozen deer but never did see hide nor hair of Joey, Molly, Foss or any coyotes though I could hear them all and knew when the chase was over...the barking stopped!

New Herding Instinct Test Developed By Molly! (March 28, 1999):

Well as the title says the second adventure of the day (after Joe & Molly’s spring adventure) was a totally new and exciting herding instinct test developed and perfected by our own little Miss Molly. After a brief nap brought on by her adventure with Joey this morning, Molly was outside checking her sheep and doing what she does best, protecting "her" property from coyotes and those pesky gophers! She headed out back into the field where the horses are and a few minutes later we spotted her chasing a gopher. My sympathies were with him because there's still knee high snow in most of the field where they were (it's a hill where one side is bare now and the other is still snow covered). We watched Molly chase the gopher for a minute or so and he couldn't find his hole (or so we thought)...at any rate there is a capped oil pump on the hill and he headed for it and obviously found a spot to hide. Molly checked everything out and finally laid down about 5 feet away...well a few minutes later the gopher decided all was well and off he headed with Molly in hot pursuit! She chased, and caught him, four times in the next minute or so but he kept going so we figured she'd missed but then I saw her stop...I got out the binoculars and there was the gopher, sitting up starting at Molly and Molly laying down staring at the gopher! Once he caught his breath off they went again...watching with the binocs I could see much better and she wasn't trying to hurt him, she was trying to herd him back to the yard! Once I stopped laughing I called Foss and let him watch the newest in herding instinct tests...I've never seen one like this before! At any rate they continued for another half hour with frequent breaks for breath catching...Molly never got any farther than about 3 feet away from him and kept him moving steadily toward the yard. Most of the half hour there was a Swainson Hawk circling overhead and I'm sure if the gopher had got too far away from Molly he'd have been lunch for Mr. Hawk! Suddenly we saw the gopher disappear during a rest stop and Molly jumped up and started digging so we figured he'd found another hole to disappear into. We took a walk out in the field to get Molly, knowing she'd stay there forever if we didn't and Dani came along for the walk. When we got to them there was no hole, the gopher was down in a hole where the horses had stepped and the snow had melted. He was just sitting there and Molly was trying to dig him out. We left Dani and Molly watching him figuring they wouldn't get into any mischief that far out in the field and we walked back just enjoying the beautiful sunshine. 15 minutes later back came the girls, Dani in front with her "prize" (poor little booger was a goner), and Molly bringing up the rear looking totally ticked off that her herd had disappeared. Now the three dogs are all in the house and sound asleep...guess they figure they've had a hard day...seems to me like they've had fun and it was the poor gopher who had a hard day...especially now, Dani "buried" him in a snowbank! <VBG>

So, if anyone is interested in instinct testing their Aussies, send'em up here and Molly will show them how to do it and put them through their paces!

May 16, 1999

Well the "girls" did it again today...they proven once again that they truly are "herding" dogs! I let them out at 6 a.m. because they'd woken me up by barking, and they went hairing off down the back and chased off two coyotes! After about 10 minutes with me watching and letting out sheep etc. they all came back to the house and proceeded to nap...Joey in the crate and the girls on top...imagine a 40# and a 45# dog both on top of a 400 crate!  Anyhow about 7:30, I'm working away on the website I'm doing and the girls start going nuts. I went to see what "monsters" they were seeing and lo and behold the 3 mama's and 3 lambs were all wayyyy out in the back field with the two damn coyotes between them and the fence to the yard...I let the dogs out and they were like greased lightening...they all ran (Joey included) and the coyotes ran off past the sheep/lambs and stopped. I figured the dogs would go after them but Molly, and then Dani, turned back and herded the sheep and lambs back to the fence, along it and through the gate into the yard while Joey held the coyotes off by barking. Then the girls went back and joined Joey and the chase was on! They chased the coyotes clear across a quarter section of land and when the coyotes headed into the woods the dogs stopped and eventually came back to check the sheep. By that time I had a coat and boots on and was down making sure everything was accounted for and all right...I wish I'd had a camera to get a picture of the self satisfied looks on the faces of those three "killer" dogs of mine...they were oh so very pleased with themselves, as was I!

December 8, 1999

Well the girls proved their "worth" to the rest of the neighbourhood yesterday and I'm so darn proud of them I could just bust!

Rick, our friend and neighbour who lives across the valley 7 miles, decided to move some of his cows and calves home to wean them. None of these critters have ever been "driven", they've always been spoiled and rode in trailers. Well it was such a beautiful day, up to 40F at one point and brilliant sunshine, that they decided to do the last cattle drive of the year. I FINALLY got to go along on one! I always seem to have a show or something going on. Anyhow I was the rear guard, driving the truck behind the crew. B O R I N G !!! But I had Dani and Molly along for company...well at least I had both till 3 cows cut out from the herd and through a hole in a fence into another friends pasture. Molly was going nuts so I finally decided to let her loose (against Foss and Rick's orders <VBG>)...there were 4 riders trying to get the cows back through the hole in the fence but the cattle kept splitting. The rest of the crew finally brought the whole herd back and eventually they got them all together and started again just as I let Molly go.

All was well for a half mile, Molly visited with the other two farm dogs (not herding dog types) on the ride and the cows were moving along nicely till they saw the big, scary, cow-eating bridge! No way were they going across that thing, it would get them! The riders tried everything to get them going...nothing. I parked the truck and got out and walked up to see what was happening...no one knew what to do and wouldn't listen to Foss tell them to just get one or two started across and they'd all go. So everyone was sitting on their horses yattering about "how about if we do this", "how about if we do that", so I just walked back of the herd, called Molly and told her to walk up and when she did I told her quietly to git-em. She did so I told her again, three times in all and she nailed 3 different cows and got them moving, right across the bridge! Not a bark out of her just a good grab and away they went. Once the three started, the rest started so I yelled at everyone to get moving and I headed back to the truck. Adair is one of the big ranchers around here and he stopped me and said "that was a great idea, she's a super little cow dog, I didn't realize you had one trained!". When I told him how little training Molly really has on her he was really surprised and very impressed with her!

Anyhow we carried on several more miles and every time a cow cut out Molly was there before the riders could get after it, all in all she kept the cows bunched pretty much by herself! She was awesome! The only near bad thing was in one spot where there's lots of marshy ground, Molly went to go around a cow and had to cut into the field, well the fence was half down and buried in snow and she hit it...bounced back like she'd hit a rubber band and did a complete flip and landed on her feet! She must have thought the loose cow got her because she went after that poor thing like it was death on legs, barked once and when the cow didn't move, Molly showed her two good reasons why she should, nip one leg, duck and then right back in and nip the other. That old cow came up out of the ditch like she'd had a cattle prod on the butt! As soon as she started, Molly backed off and just walked along as cool as you please but I swear she was grinning!

I finally let Dani out for a while but we only let her walk about a mile, she too had a ball and once she was out she looked after one side of the herd and Molly took the other. It was wonderful to watch them meet at the rear every once in a while and I swear they were comparing notes on how things were going. Even with her bad leg good old Dani went after a few cows who wanted to stray and she put them right back in the herd. She isn't as fast or graceful as Molly when working because of her leg but she's every bit as good and gets the job done!

Top all that off with the fact that I got to ride a mule for the first time and it was great! Ben is our friend Jim's pride and joy and I now see why. I swear that mule can be directed solely with leg pressure and he spins on a dime (nearly lost me once he turned so fast!) and smooth! Well, I may just turn into a mule skinner...I never realized how smooth they are walking and trotting, never did get any faster than that but Jim say's it's the same no matter what speed! He and his 3 boys all ride mules and scoff at horses unless they are draft horses that they can use to pull sleighs and wagons and even do a little farm work with!  Anyhow getting on Ben was no problem, Jim knows I have bad knees so he gave me a boost...getting off, well that boy Ben is TALL! I did my normal lay over the saddle and flex the old knees so I think they'll work. When I let myself slide down I thought I was an energizer bunny, I kept going and going and going till I was finally hanging off the side fully stretched out and I still couldn't reach the ground! The guys all thought it was hilarious but man'o'man that is one tall animal!

So all in all it was a wonderful day. The dogs nearly fell asleep with their noses in their dinner and they slept an extra hour this morning. Then they went out for their morning run and only made it about 50 feet from the house, piddled and back in...they're both still sleeping and I think I detect a glimmer of a smile on both their sweet sleeping faces! Guess they must be dreaming about the King Cattle Drive of '99 when they got to prove, to at least a small part of the world, that they're not just "cute"!

May 11, 1999:

It's still snowing, weird thing is the stuff we got last night is melting at the same time! WEIRD!!!!

Anyhow, we'd just finished eating a late breakfast, after spending half an hour in the pig barn separating all the little boys from their family jewels...my job turned out to be making sure that Red (our girl who is due to farrow this Saturday) didn't come over the top of her pen (4 feet high) or break the damn thing down...man was she worked up hearing the little guys squeel! Weird thing is they only squeeled when picked up, didn't make a sound when the deed was being done! Anyhow that rotten job is done and I didn't have to really help thank goodness!

So we'd eaten breakfast and Foss headed out to the kitchen and all of a sudden I hear this little voice (like the guy in Twister when he says "we've got debris") tell me "we've got bulls"! I immediately thought, "but Jim sold the old Hereford who used to visit!" Anyhow I look out the window and here come not one, but SIX of Jim's bulls for a visit! YIKES! I'm talking six full grown 1500-2000 pound bulls, all in our yard! Someone call 911, we need help!

Anyhow Foss grabs a jacket and rubber boots and off he and Dani go...he says he can "work" Dani but Molly won't listen to him...truth is he confuses the hell out of her (me too for that matter)! Anyhow I grabbed a coat and boots and let Molly loose and headed out with Ceilidh on his leash, much to his disgust! (note, Ceilidh was only 6 months old and I was leery about what he'd do if turned loose!)

I went for the truck knowing that the bulls need to go to their "home" which right now is a huge pasture, 2.5 miles up our road! Foss beat me to the truck and had both the girls loaded so Ceilidh and I just jumped in and went for the ride. Molly and Dani already had the bulls headed up the road and by the time we caught up they were nearly at the corner... of course the bulls turned, heading in the wrong direction. I opened the truck door and let Molly out and Foss jumped out his door, he headed one way and I hollered at Molly to git around the other way. They got the bulls headed north and Foss climbed back in...Molly started to get in the truck but then changed her mind and headed off after the bulls so we let her go figuring if she tired we could call her in.

Well just over two miles later, I'm sure Molly had put on 4 miles. She followed those bulls, wove back and forth behind them to keep them moving and, at one point, even stopped them going in a driveway, all by herself with no commands whatsoever! When we got to where we knew the boys needed to go, they turned off down a drive but Molly stopped them about 100 feet down. Foss opened the gate and Molly (on a command from me) brought the bulls back and put them in through the gateway! WAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO what a wonderful thing it is to watch this little girl! I still don't know enough yet to work in close quarters with her and the critters but it's obvious to me that the instinct is there in mega-doses and she's got lots of try!

Dani and Ceilidh spent the trip wigglin' and jigglin' in the truck, shooting me looks that said "let me at'em" but with mud nearly a foot deep I figured one wet and muddy dog was going to be enough to contend with! Molly had the biggest grin on her face when the bulls were safely in their field and she spent the trip to Jim's (to tell him he needed a little fence fixin' done) and the trip home firmly settled on my lap! I'm not sure which of us needed a bath more!

May 16, 2000:

Finally!!! A Ceilidh story for you...the other day Foss finally decided it was time to do something about the 20 or so roosters we had running around here. They came in a box of chicks he bought last fall and we had to raise all the chicks to see which were boys and which were girls (laying hens)...anyhow taking the roosters to the auction was stupid (you get about 50 cents a bird and it's $20 in gas to take them there!!!) Anyhow the birds were everywhere and chickens and pigs don't mix, can cause TB so the birds had to go and they weren't the right kind to put in the deep freeze! Anyhow he went out behind the barn when they were there and did a little target practice. His aim has really improved, one shot each and the deed was done.

Anyhow he left them there figuring the coyotes would clean them up that night. Trouble is I forgot they were there and took the dogs down the barnyard to see Foss...Ceilidh disappeared! I called and called his name and finally did what always brings him running "puppy, puppy, puppy"...well here he came round the corner of the wind fence beside the barn...he had the biggest grin on his face though it was hard to tell because he had the biggest of the roosters firmly clenched in his mouth!

He strutted and wiggled his little butt and came right to the fence but couldn't figure out how to get through with his "prize"! Finally I grabbed the prize and pulled it through the fence for him and he followed along (never let go for an instant!). When I said "ta" he let me take the bird but was he proud of himself...maybe he thought he'd brought home his dinner! Anyhow he's also got the idea about what sheep are for! His favorite is a combination of trying to play with the little ewe lamb (she's about 1/3 of his size) and trying to keep all the big ewe's from getting out of the bunch he's rounded them into! So looks like we've got three LR dogs that love to herd things! YAHOOOOOO!!!!

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Mikatura Stockdogs®
Foss & Jeni Gallichan
RR #1, Eckville, Alberta, Canada TOM OXO
Jeni Cell ~ 403 - 877 - 4629
Foss Cell ~ 403 - 896 - 0724
Email ~ mikaturaaussies@gmail.com


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