My new handpan is here

My new handpan is here

It has finally arrived. My new handpan is here. Just in time for Charlie to hear it before he has to go offshore. It is Easter and I am off outside to play in the goat pen. The Oberhasli Dairy goats and Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) seem to be fascinated by the music.

Josh the maker playing it before shipping

I took this out of the box and started playing like we were old friends. This pan was made for me and both of us know that. This is such fun. The sustain and tone of this pan is beautiful. So ethereal and light and pure tones.

I have a few short clips of me playing that day in the barnyard. The Easter barnyard concert.

Caprica getting into the music

I have another clip where even the LGD dogs came to visit.

the LGD dogs are interested

I really did enjoy playing for them that day and found it so easy of an instrument to play. The sounds and notes were beautiful and the resonance very nicely balanaced.

My handpan

I have a few new photos of it. The hard case is a lovely sage green. I just love them both!

D Minor Celtic 13
Ike, an Anatolian Shepherd. Livestock Guardian Dog

Ike, an Anatolian Shepherd. Livestock Guardian Dog

October 2014 – October 19, 2018

Ike, a Livestock Guarduan Dog
Ike, a Livestock Guarduan Dog

Ike is an Anatolian Shepherd dog born in with his goat herd. He has guarded goats his entire life. He came to live with us when he was almost 2 years old. He had next to no socialization or training but had been a working livestock guardian dog.

When he came to live with us and guard our goats, we had to neuter him a few months after joining our ranch. His testosterone was raging and he was bark rather aggressively at people who did not live here. Some aggressive barking and intense protective demeanor is necessary and required, but there is also a limit to what is appropriate. After neutering, I started to see a different Ike with people. He was no longer overly intense in his interactions with visitors because he would stand down when I told him to. However, no visitor ever doubted Ike would guard those goats with his life.

Ike, a Livestock Guarduan Dog
Ike, a Livestock Guarduan Dog

Ike was also gentle with his goats and let kid goats climb on him. We had lost our previous head male guard and felt Ike was on his way to being our new “Larick”.

We had some recurring health issues with him that seemed to never fully heal. In 2017, we had a predator attack on the ranch that resulted in my main female Askbash being killed. No goats or llamas were harmed, but we lost our Willow.

I noticed in the year after the attack that Ike seemed unwell. He seemed depressed and out of sorts and was just plain grumpy. He was snarling and snapping at baby goats. He never let them climb on him any more and was getting testy with the other dogs. Ike visited the vet several times and a few health issues kept coming up which we kept treating but he never seemed to feel well. We coukdn’t find anything obvious to explain how he had seemed to age….grow old almost overnight …. and his personality change. I still believe he was ornery because of pain even if we could not find it. The change of how he was with his goats was too much to just be an off day.

We made the decision to let Ike go and rest in peace. His body no longer hurts, he no longer has to work and guard, and he no longer needs to fight with the other dogs or predators in the woods. I really still miss him greatly and the security for protection I always felt he provided. I know he was in pain and was not happy, but now he can rest.

Rick and Rachel

Rick and Rachel

We lost a couple more dogs here at Alba Ranch as well.  This has been a difficult time for us.  I thought I had better get caught up a bit with what has been going on…but for a while I just wanted to take a moment.

 

 

Rick

Rick

(Feb 2016-March 21, 2018)

 

Rick we had to let go just two days after Cinnamon and Nutmeg passed over.  He came to use at about 10-11 months old and where he had been before was not good for him.  He had been abused so much by a family and returned to the breeder after extreme damage had been done to him….both mentally and physically.

He was the sweetest boy and had such a sweet loving heart but he could not trust humans and had anxiety that was off the charts.  We worked with him for almost 1.5 years but he was having so many physical issues as well as mental issues that it was just better for him and for all the dogs in the house that we let him go.  His pain had to be ended.

Whatcha sayin?

 

on the move

It was one of the hardest ones I have ever had to let go…and trust me none are easy ….but this one was super hard.  85% of the time he was our loving boy Rick and would sit for hours letting you pet him or just lie near you.  The other 15% he was unpredictable, dangerous and in so much mental anguish and pain.  That anguish and pain was coming out against the other dogs, against me and against any person that might be here.  Rick did not want to be that way but he could not control it.

I truly hope that those people that had him will never have another dog or animal in their entire life as what was done to him was unthinkable and certainly unforgivable.

He is free now and no longer in pain of any kind, nor can he harm any other person or dog which was one of his fears as well.

 

Rachel

(October 2014-June 4, 2018)

Rachel guarding

 

Rachel came to us from Ohio with two of her brothers, Ike and Toobies.  She has been one of our Livestock Guardian Dogs  (LGD) ever since.  I really did like Rachel and she loved to be petted.  She also tried to lick me to death and would dig some pretty intensive holes everywhere.  She was also the one that told us about any coyotes, or any other predators about and would not stop telling us until they left…which could be all night. ha!

She was with Willow when we had the predator attack last year.  The attack that killed Willow and really injured Rachel but no goats were harmed or lost.  They both did their jobs protecting.  Rachel has been struggling every since that time.  She was in pain, and seemed to be having some mobility issues….she was very grumpy with her goaties which I don’t recall being normal for her before this time.  Baby goaties jumping on her was very painful when normally the LGD would lie still and let the kids climb on them.

Rachel and the kid

 

She also was much more anxious and fearful than before the attack.  I think that attack forever changed Rachel and she was just not up to things anymore.  It was with a heavy heart that we said good bye to her a few weeks ago….it was hard but I know that she is no longer in pain, either physically or mentally.

 

Willow the Akbash, A Livestock Guardian Dog

Willow the Akbash, A Livestock Guardian Dog

Willow the Akbash, a Livestock Guardian Dog

(March 2013 – August 17, 2017)

 

It is with heavy heart that I tell you that my darling Willow, my Willowmina, has passed away.  She was 4 years old and a stunning Akbash.  Akbash are a breed of Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) from Turkey.  Willow guarded her goats and was always in the middle of a pile of them.

Willow, the Akbash Dog

I said good night to her and told her to guard mama’s goaties around 11 pm on August 16th.  By the time I went back out about 14 hours later, she was dead.  We appeared to have had a predator attack during the night.  Willow was fluffy and lovely clean white when I last saw her but when I found her in the barn she was covered in dirt and filthy.  She had been in a hell of a fight thrashing around in the dirt.  We had about 1 inch of rain in the wee hours of that morning and she was completely dry so I know that it happened between 11 pm and about 2 am before the rain started.

Her guarding partner, Rachel, was injured.  Rachel is a 2.5 year old Anatolian female.  Anatolian is another breed of Livestock Guardian dog from Turkey as well.  Ike was in the pen next to the girls with about 5 goats and the girls were guarding my milkers and a few kids, about 14 does in total in the other pen.  We did not have a scratch on any of the goats.  All were accounted for and on all four legs still.  Willow died protecting her goats.

Charlie and Willow in the Barnyard for Morning Coffee

That is a Livestock Guardian dogs job but to be honest I didn’t ever think we would have it happen.  I always thought their presence and barking would be enough to deter predators.  We had 9 LGD that we had combined in with the goats and retired into the house.  However the giant breeds have a shorter lifespan and we lost 6 of them last year.  I did not replace any of those dogs, so we were down to 3 Livestock Guardian dogs out in the pens with the goats and none in the house with us.  That lower number has made their collective “voice” quieter and smaller.  We had noticed that the coyotes and other predators have been coming much closer in the woods this last year since the passing of our main guard and his brother, both of which were 10.5 year old.

 

There was no broken fences, no holes in the fences, no holes dug under the fences in or out, none of the gates disturbed, no chains or locks moved, no fur on the fencing anywhere.  No evidence of anything wrong except my dead Willow and the corner of the tarp that had been attached to the top corner of the barn had been torn down.  There was no blood.  No fur except Willows everywhere but I didn’t think that odd at first as she was blowing her coat.  There had been so much rain there was also no tracks.

 

I took Willow to the vet and had a simple autopsy performed.  The left side of her body was covered in canine puncture wounds like she had been in a fight with another canine which I think was one or two coyotes or wolves.  The Right side of her body seemed OK except for a hole tear in her hip.  Well it seemed small but once the vet moved all the hair aside, she was able to see it was much worse.  And there was a tear in her shoulder on that side as well that I missed entirely with all her fur.  Both locations had the muscles torn to shreds and the vet used words like “hamburger” and “eviscerated” and a “vicious attack”.  All of that was not visible to the eye on the outside as all that damage was under the fur and skin and inside.  This attack had fractured her shoulder but it had not broken her hip.  The vet said that this trauma of those injuries on the Right side was what killed her.

Willow saying Hello to a newly born kid goat

The injuries on one side of her body did not match what I saw on the other side of her body which is why I think it was two different types of predators. I think a coyote or two got in and got into a fight with her and Rachel.  (Rachel’s injuries were all puncture wounds on her face and head and all swollen up and got infected.  She did not have any wounds visible anywhere else but walked as if she has been battered and had sore muscles everywhere on her body.)  They were scared away by a cougar.  I think the cougar was drawn in by the smell of the blood and it could hot foot jump up onto the roof of the barn as the ground is high behind the barn and there were a few stumps there that gave a leg up.  It was a simple walk across the roofs of the barns to the one in the pen, and in the dark the blue tarp might have seemed like another roof which is why the corner was torn down if the cougar tried to jump on it.  I think the cougar either hit her and slammed her on the barn or bit down on her, either way it would have taken more force to fracture a shoulder of a 90 lb Akbash fighting for her life than a 30-50 coyote or 20-30 bobcat could have managed.  I know that bears can do damage but they are inherently lazy when it comes to livestock attacks and attacking a pen with two livestock guards in it as well as having to swat down 5 foot fences would have been more work than it would have cared to exert.  Never mind the fact that bears are NOT graceful and would have done some damage to the fence as they would have torn it down and not bothered to enter the pen any other way.  That doesn’t really leave much else.

I know that a Livestock Guardian Dog’s job is to protect their stock with their lives if necessary.  But if you want my honest opinion, I would have given half the goat herd for Willow to be back with me.  Willow is family.  The goats are stock.  I begrudged every day she was in the barn yard guarding goats and not in the house guarding me.  She was my baby and I miss her terribly.  I am devastated to think her final time was so filled with pain and terror and that we have lost her so violently and so young.

Willow on Patrol in the Orchard

I did call the DNR, which told me that there are no cougars in the state of MI.  ~BULL!!~  Our neighbors have been watching a pair with two kits all summer.  Others have photos of them.  Our woods and his woods back up on each other.  Cougars have a 100 mile range of territory.  He isn’t even half a mile from me.  The cougar has been spotted south of Shelby, MI which is about 5 miles from us.  I told the DNR he didn’t know what was under his nose.  He tells me they are protected.  Hmmmmm…why is something that does not exist protected?  Like I said before ~BULL~.  If I ever see the cougar, it or I will not survive the encounter.  I follow the rule that the old Colorado mountain man told me….if you SEE a cougar, it is TOO LATE!!  They only show themselves when they are going to attack you.

 

I have seen two cougars in the wild in my entire life.  One in the mountains of Colorado at 10 am bright and sunshine day when I almost ran it over at the end of my driveway.  I think we were both stunned to see each other that morning.  And my other encounter was when one darted across the road and I almost ran over it one dark stormy night when I was out driving the back roads in Scotland.  I have heard cougars late at night when I was outside with the stock on my Colorado Ranch in the mountains…..it had a fresh kill and the screams were some of the most horrifying sounds I have ever heard in my life.  I have no desire to repeat any of that.

Rest in Peace, my Willow.

Willow, ever watchful