Sep 29, 2017
The morning routine on the ranch doesn’t change much. As I get my first cuppa, the 34 year old horse is yelling that he’s in imminent danger of dying from hunger. I wish. The 5 dogs are out the split screen door in the warm months, just as soon as the 3.5 who still have sharp ears hear the gurgle of the iCoffee finishing the cycle. The old man, 14 year old Hoke, watches the speedsters blow by him, followed by soon to be 12 year old Cricket, and struggles to his paws and follows. He’s pretty well deaf these days, but once he gets his pins under him, he can still pick ‘em up like a dog half his age. Just look at him go after one of the bold turkeys, below. That’s the turkey, just above the fence top.
Once the Hellhounds are fed, Cricket heads to the gate to start her job. As we head for the barn, the sheep melt away. If they try any funny stuff, like sneaking into the barn, she’s there to enforce the no-sheep-in-the-barn zone.
But before that, Roar the bull needs to be put in the pen.
It’s not that he fights it. I just need him in there, so I can feed him before the horse gets done gobbling down his chow and then coming over and screaming in frustration that he can’t get to Roar’s food. If I feed Roar first, same thing. I feed the horse first to buy us all some time.
But, sometimes, Roar’s a bit slow to get that 2200 pound bulk moving. That’s where 50 pound Cricket’s job begins.
She moved slightly outboard to turn his head towards the entrance in the above shot. The last shot for some reason wasn’t in focus, but you can see how she goes a bit farther out to finish the turn, below.
From there, it's on to the 7 Gangsta Girls. They really don’t need encouragement to exit Fort Hen, but Cricket enjoys shifting gears and urging them to start their day.
A good working dog is a priceless asset to a rancher. Some working dogs go for tens of thousands of dollars at sales like Red Bluff. This is because 1 outstanding dog can replace 3 or more hands and their horses. They won’t go into town and get drunk, get locked up, and leave you shorthanded for the next day's chores. They won’t sneak back and steal your cattle, or your truck. And, they love a good butt scratch at the end of the day.
I know her days as a workin' girl are surely on the wane. Her hearing is starting to go, and her lightning speed is slowing down. So long as her heart, mind and body will let her, she will do her job, and never complain.
It doesn’t hurt that her protege, the young pup Rosie, is even more talented than her. Below, at 7 months old, second time on weanlings that Cricket had just dog broke for her, Rosie shows a rowdy heifer that 22 pounds of tiny black dog was not going to put up with her nonsense.
I know that Cricket is pleased with her eventual replacement ranch manager. She knows that she has taught young Rosie well.
She’s satisfied but not yet ready to turn over the keys to the bunkhouse quite yet.