The Last Homestead: Sept. 9

Fri, September 9, 2016 at 6:38 PM,

Hello, hello,

I’m sitting in the Howe’s back yard with my laptop, commiserating with Bella, who is locked behind a gate in the dog run/dog house. She is not in the dog house, metaphorically speaking, but the Howes thought she would do better in her house and dog run while they are at the swap meet.  I feel sorry for her — she’s a very friendly sort and is sticking her nose out and scrabbling around in the hole where the gate closes, hoping to talk me into letting her out. Alas (or perhaps luckily) the gate hole is too small for her to wiggle through.

belladoghouse

Bella, fenced in

Brandy got almost put in the dog house this morning when she didn’t listen to Rose ordering “GO HOME.” We were outside the butcher shop, next to the meat smoking structure. Rose had to speak twice; then Brandy slunk off home, chastened. “Home” is just down the hill, at the woods edge, and is where the dogs are sent if they have gotten out of line. A worse punishment is to have to go into the dog house, (although Bella is there this evening for safety, not punishment.)

Brandy was being sent home because a bull (elk) and a buck (deer), killed by a bow hunter, were being delivered to Rose at the butcher shop. I got to watch the unloading of the meat in the space between the smoke house and the butcher shop, by invitation from Rose, and then also saw the interior of the butcher shop, by invitation of Darrell. (He’s very quiet but is the same with everyone, so I’m comfortable with him — and I think he’s OK with me too). A fellow from Oklahoma shot the two critters; he was a bit more like a Texan than an Oregonian – talkative. The young guy who delivered the carcasses is an assistant to the owner of the hunting guide service; the owner is a friend of the Howes.

The owner and his assistant take the hunters out, help them find their targets, and then skin and gut the animals, and rough cut them. The guide hangs the carcasses in his walk-in cooler until he (or his assistant) delivers them to Rose, who does the final processing of the meat into the raw cuts — like the things that we might buy in wraps at Whole Foods. Her space is soundproofed, well insulated, has its own walk-in cooler, etc. She FedExes the meat, turned into steaks, roasts, stew meat, and sausage, properly packaged, to its owner after she’s done her work.

roseinbutchershop

Rose’s butcher shop — the walk-in-cooler is to her right: more on this later

Back to my daily report: Brandy was sent home because she really really wanted a taste of the discarded raw meat at the butcher shop. As Darrell explained to the Oklahoman and me, you can’t let dogs get a taste for game, or they will never stop chasing it.

After securing the meat in the cooler and cleaning up around the butcher shop, the Howes went off to the (automobile) swap meet. While they are gone, the property and I am being guarded by the dogs. Brandy, the older, more responsible dog, has stopped hanging around me while I write this, having decided I’m OK. Earlier, she had come by when I was talking to Rose and got a good sniff and leaned up against me. Then, after they left, when I was out walking, I sat down beside her on their deck and we had a good chat.  She did bark once when I came to the house to use the internet this evening, but then she wagged her hind end (where her tail would be if she had one) and came up and gave me another good sniff and a lean. So we are friends.

Bella doesn’t know enough not to be friends; she barks at various imagined things — not much but enough to let whatever it is that pokes its head up that she’s on the job — or she’s happy to see them.

bellaalert

Brandy, the noble alert caretaker.

I’m glad Rose let Brandy roam. It does seem like I’m on the edge of nowhere, even though there are ranches half a mile or so away. This appears to be the last ranch on Top Road, and the lane is a long way from the road itself. Interestingly (!) enough, I had a visitor in the middle of last night. I woke up at about 3 AM and was sure someone was rattling the door, trying to get in. I had locked it, but there was a distinct noise of someone trying the door again and again. I didn’t know what to do, but grabbed the flashlight, figuring that when he came through, I could shine the light in his eyes and maybe escape. But the noise went on and on, no entry succeeding, and I finally drifted back to sleep.

I woke up sometime later to a different noise, this one distinctly a chewing animal. I realized my earlier “intruder” was actually an animal in the stable, trying to make its way into the bunk house. As intruders of the dangerous sort don’t normally chew their way into bedrooms, I rolled over and slept soundly. Rose told me this morning that there was a pack rat in the barn, and she was making arrangements for its demise. The barn cat had evidently fallen down on the job. And Rose’s catch and release cage had been released without catching.

dsc02502

This may be the calico cat or it may be Lefty, the friendly oldster

Oh,  the big excitement of the day – after Rose and Darrell had left for the swap meet, I was painting in the back yard (yup, did another painting today) when I heard an unlikely noise. I’m getting pretty good at deciphering the usual sounds from the unusual ones. I looked around and there was a red cow who had come home to visit. Rose told me Red Cow had been sold to neighbors down the road because she knew all about the secrets of the Howe fences, getting out of the meadows far too often. Nowadays, she seems to like leaving her new people to come back and visit her comrades at the Howes. Rose disapproves of such unorthodox behavior, particularly as Red Cow eats the hay in the barn when she can, and sometimes releases the whole herd of her erstwhile friends, showing them the way through the fences.

Red Cow investigated the premises rather thoroughly, although she didn’t come too close to me. Rose had shown me how she has had to keep the gate to the stables closed because Red Cow loves the hay inside. After Red Cow realized she had exhausted most of the interesting items in the bunk house yard, she joined the rest of the Howe herd in their fenced-in enclosure.

Alas, I didn’t get a single photo of Red Cow, probably because I was too amused by her antics to remember my camera. But here are her friends, safely ensconced behind their fences.

cowspasture

I just saw a bunch of deer running up from the ravine near the barnyard. They are leaping all the fences as if they weren’t there. Last evening, I sighted a big herd, about twenty of them, on both sides of the lane that goes to Top Road. I kept walking toward them and the ones on the right moved leisurely into the woods. However, the ones on the left had to cross the lane, which has fences running alongside it, to escape me. Everyone leapt the fences, except for one little one, older than a fawn but not by much. He couldn’t figure out how to get over the fence and watched me and looked at the fence and watched me and so forth, until all at once, he hunkered down and slipped under it, escaping the danger.

Among that herd were two big bucks. They and a couple large others (does, presumably) stayed behind while the babes and moms went into the woods. Then they turned and bounded away too.

deerbuckdoeherd

The trees behind this deer herd is where they hide when I came up the lane. The buck to the right is clearly in charge of protecting his herd.

So Brandy will be watching over me tonight. The Howes will be back tomorrow night late. Maybe someone will come looking for Red Cow. I’m hoping to paint the far hills tomorrow. Or maybe sketch some cows. The big pig said hello.  The piglets were nowhere to be seen today.  Life on the farm.

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