Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Day

Billy here. Mum usually writes to tell you all about the happenings here at Spring Rock, but I thought I'd put paw to keyboard and tell you about my day yesterday.

Wednesday afternoon Mum discovered something I'd been trying to keep secret - a big abscess on my right front foot. After a bit of prodding which I could have done without she surprised me by leaving it alone and just going inside and talking on the phone to someone.

I knew something was up yesterday morning. First up, no breakfast. I love my breakfast, but no amount of rattling my dish or looking hurt when Mum or Dad came out got them to fill the dish. Then Mum came into the laundry and gave me a bit of a wash. Not a whole wash, she just rubbed down my legs, head and chin with a cloth and soapy water. I helped by moving around a lot and the laundry ended up flooded. Mum wasn't so happy about that, but I thought at least I'll be allowed out now to go and roll in some dirt. Mum must have read my mind because she kept the laundry door tightly closed and cleaned up the floor. She left me in there and mumbled something about I'd never dry in time now. I decided to try to ignore my tummy rumblings and have a nap.

Later in the morning Dad came in and put a lead on me. Hmmm, I thought. I never have the lead put on. Something is definitely up. We walked to the back of his four wheel drive and he told me to get up in there. Well!!!! That just never happens unless there is a visit to the vet in the offing. That's OK with me. I love the vets'. Everyone there makes a big fuss of me and I feel like a king. But this hopping up bit was just asking too much. I put my chin on the floor of the car and swiveled my eyes around to Dad to show him I was willing but would need some help here. Mum was there too by now and told Dad I was never able to jump up that high. She made some unnecessary comments about my weight, but I'll just move on with the story here. Dad tried to lift my paws onto the the car's floor but that wasn't as successful as you might think. They just slid off. Dad then got a big tub and put it near my feet. I still had my chin on the floor to show willingness, so I couldn't get a good look at it. He then told Mum to lift my left paw again while he lifted the right paw. Then he put my back legs onto the tub. Well, I was now a lot closer to the car floor but I wasn't about to try to climb up myself. What if it didn't work. That would be just too embarrassing. Dad finally gave in and lifted my back end into the car, strapped me in and we headed off in the car.

I love car rides and enjoyed the trip. Mum put all the windows down and said something about wet dog smell and how she had to go shopping smelling like that. I can't see the problem. After I'd rubbed my wet fur all over her I thought she smelled rather good.

We got to the vets' ( I was right you see) and I walked in and waited for the attention to flow. There was only one girl in the room, but she was very nice and said complimentary things about me. Then she decided I needed to be weighed. She wasn't sure I'd fit on the scales and neither was I. I wasn't keen on letting everyone know my weight either, it could result in a nasty thing called a diet and I didn't want anything to do with one of those things. So every time Dad maneuvered me onto the scales I turned to the side and stepped off, usually before they had managed to get my back feet on. Mum tried to guard my exit but I just moved off and snuggled up to her. In the end they decided to estimate my weight at 70kgs. Dad is inclined to think I weigh more, but he'll never know.

We sat and waited in that room for a while and I started investigating all the treats and toys. Mum got a bit worried about this and moved me to a spot where there was absolutely nothing to investigate. I lay down and tried to get some sleep. Then this little lady come into the room and called my name. I sat up and looked at her and Mum and Dad took me into this room. We all looked at this little metal table and Mum said, "You don't want him up there do you?" The little vet agreed she'd rather look at me from the floor. The first thing she did was grab my sore foot and try to look at it. I politely withdrew it, but she grabbed it again and Mum moved to my front and told me to let her have my foot. I heaved a big sigh and dropped to the floor so the vet had to get right down there with me if she wanted that foot. She did!!!!! There was a lot of talk backwards and forwards between Mum, Dad and the vet, but I wasn't paying attention. I was smelling all the smells some interesting others very concerning. The vet stood up and took my lead from Mum's hand. Mum stepped back and the vet tried to lead me out of the room. Without Mum!!!!! No way. I just kept moving over to where Mum stood and dragging the little vet along with me. Mum asked the vet if she'd like her, Mum, to take me where I had to go. The vet said no, she could manage and tried to move me towards the door again. I didn't budge. Mum moved towards the door and said, "Come on Billy," so I followed her and walked through the door. The vet said she'd see Mum and Dad later and closed the door. Well, that was a nasty trick. I thought Mum was coming with me. I kept moving around the vet in circles, trying to get back to the door where I last saw Mum. The vet kept pulling for all she was worth trying to stop me heading for the door.  I was winning though. I saw another door open briefly and Mum and Dad were standing at the desk in the first room again. The vet tugged on my lead and told someone to close the door as I tried to reach Mum again.

Now things get a bit blurry. I was heaved and hauled onto a metal table by a great number of people all commenting on my weight. They then discovered their table was too small and someone had to stand by to make sure I didn't overflow and fall off. My leg was shaved in a little spot and I was given a needle!!! Another needle was put into my sore foot and very soon I couldn't feel a thing in my foot. Ahhh, the relief. I started to feel very pleased with the whole world. Then this little vet tried to hold my paw again. I withdrew it gently and told her we hadn't been formally introduced. She took hold of my paw again. Again, I withdrew it and told her I only hold paws with best friends and loved ones. She grabbed it again and tried to hold on tightly! I withdrew it and said I'd rather not. She grabbed it again, I withdrew it and said make me! I was polite the entire time, careful not to show my teeth (humans hate it when I get a bit mad and show my teeth so I haven't done it since I was a puppy) but there was no way she was going to hold my paw. I only let her hold it in that little room because Mum said I had to. She left me with my body guard (the one making sure I didn't fall off this tiny table) and rang someone. It turned out to be Dad. There was a bit of a conversation and I thought I heard Dad laugh a bit, but when it was over the vet returned, shaved a bit off my other leg and put another needle in.

Well, that's the last thing I remember for a while. When I woke up I wasn't on the table anymore but in a little cage. My foot felt a bit better and I noticed there was a big cut in the sorest part. I went back to sleep. After a while I heard Mum's voice out in the first room again. The girl at the desk was saying something about me being a big, gorgeous puppy. I liked her too - she didn't try to get too familiar with me while still being admiring and friendly. I forgave her for trying to reveal my weight to the world. After a short while she came to my cage, put my lead on and walked me to the door. Things were a bit strange and I couldn't figure out where Mum's voice had come from. I walked around the room with the girl attached. All the people in that room came over to say goodbye to me. I nodded to each of them and said I forgave them all. I also politely accepted good bye pats. The girl opened a door and I heard Mum call my name. I dashed off (well dashed as fast as my foggy head would allow) and headed for where I thought the voice had come from. The girl tried to pull me a different way, and then I saw Mum!!!! Everything was going to be fine. I walked over to her and we started to leave when a woman with a little dog spoke to me. She asked me if I'd like to go home with her instead. I walked over, taking Mum with me on the end of my lead, to say hello and explain that I was very happy living with Mum and Dad, even if Mum does love ferrets. I was patted and complimented yet again. I do love going to the vets'. Mum took me out to the car where Dad was waiting with the back door open. Now I had the best excuse there was. I couldn't see straight, so there was no way I'd get myself into that car!!! Dad heaved a big sigh and put my front leg into the back and quickly lifted my back legs in as well before my front legs could slide off. I settled down and we headed home.

When we got home, mum put me back in the laundry and gave me some of my favourite food. I went back to sleep. After a while I thought I'd go outside and make sure all was well and nothing drastic had happened while I was gone. Maybe Mum had seen the light and got rid of the ferrets!!!, but no, they were all still there making rude comments about the bald patches on my legs and toes. Then I saw it. The back door of the car was open. Dad said later that he was trying to get the wet dog smell out. I made the supreme effort and jumped into the back all by myself (if anyone asks I'm going to say the Kelpies helped me up there) and settled down for a nap. Maybe they'd take me for another drive. Maybe back to the vets' for some more love and adulation - but no paw holding though!!! When Dad found me in the car he seemed rather upset. Words were said about him having to lift me twice today and I could do it all by myself even when drugged to the eyeballs. I explained about the Kelpies but Dad didn't believe it. He pulled me out and closed the door almost shut. When he wasn't looking I tried to open the door to get back in, but I couldn't get it opened enough. I returned to the laundry and settled down for a big, well earned sleep.

So you see that was my day. I think I handled the whole thing rather well I thought. I was firm but kind with the vet and enjoyed meeting all the new people. I managed to keep my real weight a secret still and my foot even feels a lot better this morning. I think I'll just wander over and see if the back door of the car is open again.


Monday, November 01, 2010


Young rams on the move.  These boys behaved themselves today unlike the two mentioned below.

I've gone off rams a bit this morning.  We were out in the sheep yards at 6.30 drafting the ewe lambs and ram lambs for LambPlan scanning this morning.  LambPlan for the initiated is a system where lambs are weighed at different times in their development and scanned for eye muscle and fat depth when they are a few months old.  This allows them to be compared to all rams in the LambPlan system and rated according to breeding quality potential.  

When drafting ewes all I have to do is wave my arms gently while making a quiet shooshing noise to get them into the race yard and down the race where Graeme moves a drafting gate in one of three directions according to where he wants that particular ewe.  The rams are a bit more difficult.  I have to fill a race yard and then get in there with them and forcefully encourage them to move up to where Graeme is to be drafted.  Rams aren't as frightened of humans so it takes that bit more effort to draft them.

Farrer has rubbed off on a couple of the adult rams and they now want scratches and pats too.  (You can read Farrer's story here )  Farrer is getting old and slow so he doesn't tend to be rounded up with the rest of the rams if he's not actually needed these days so thankfully he wasn't present for today's fun and games. 
Today two rams gave me a lot of trouble.  Adult rams weight around 150+ kgs each and when they want a scratch they want a scratch.  The Ashmore Ram (we bought him from the Ashmore stud so we call him The Ashmore Ram) was very eager for scratches today.  In true Farrer fashion he planted himself in front of me at every opportunity and hinted that a scratch would be more than welcome.  His hints basically consisted of refusing to get out of my way until a scratch was administered.  I gave him a scratch in passing each time he stopped in front of me, more in self defence than because it was convenient.  More about him in a minute.

The other trouble maker was  ram lamb.  He is one of this year's bottle babies and had a vague notion that he knew us and we should be giving him something tasty.  He weighs in around 60+kgs.  He wasn't 100% sure what it was he wanted from me, or why he wasn't afraid of us, but this general lack of fear gave him quite a bit of bravado.  Now a young ram lamb in his teenage stage is a pain in the neck at the best of times.  They think they are good stuff and tend to take some convincing as to why they should do what you want them to do.  Add to this that this young ram knew he wanted something from me and wasn't getting it and things heated up a bit.  He got increasingly annoyed with me and began to pretend to butt me, lowering his head and jerking it at me.  I fended him off with a touch to the head each time and he backed off temporarily.  I don't think he was really going to butt me, but I had to let him know I wasn't going to just stand and let him either.  I had to find a happy medium between doing nothing and being too aggressive in my reaction thus egging him on, so just a touch to the head and a stern word seemed the best idea.  It worked well, but I had to keep doing it. 

Most of what I've described above took place in the sheep yard that leads into the race yard.  Of course the young ram and The Ashmore Ram were in the last lot to go into the race yard.  They hung back in the sheep yards until they were made to go into the race yard where they stood together and compared notes on how to make my life just that bit more difficult while I moved the other rams along.  They hit on the most effective strategy they could.  The Ashmore Ram wandered up and pushed me from behind at regular intervals,
asking for a scratch, while I was occupied moving the rest of the rams up the race.  He and the ram lamb kept to the back of the mob so that they weren't pushed through the race earlier.  While I was dealing with him the young ram would prance up, lower his head and jerk it at me while my hands were occupied with The Ashmore Ram.  Some times they co-ordinated themselves so well that while I was bent over fending off the ram lamb The Ashmore Ram pushed me from the back at the same time.  This sandwich effect is not something I'd recommend the faint of heart experience. It's a bit startling to find yourself squished between a huge, friendly ram's head and a much smaller, but far less friendly ram lamb's head while they both push towards each other.  Needless to say that my back has had it for the day.

And that's why I've gone off rams.