The time was late afternoon. The dogs were standing by the pasture gate waiting to go for their run. Martin, however, was still roaming free in the fields and had no intention of coming back to his pen. While Charley is savvy enough to stay away from Martin (whose very deadly backwards kick can do more damage to the kneecap than a Mafia debt collector), Belle is neither savvy nor speedy and Sadie is too new to the farm for me to know how she might react face-to-face with an agile alpaca.
I can’t say I blame Martin for being reluctant to come in. When one has spent most of one’s 8-10 years living uncared for under a tree at the back of a field (he was abandoned by a former tenant here years ago), this domestication bit must seem very strange to him. He was happy enough to spend the winter nights, and often days, in the newly built shelter and pen behind the barn, with lots of hay and fresh water and grains. But now that the days are longer and there are tasty green shoots shoving their heads through last year’s yellowed grasses, I swear I can almost hear him humming “Give me land, lots of land under starry skies above ….Don’t fence me innnnnnnnn”
And so today was one of those days. The dogs kept running back and forth between barn and gate, whining and barking, yipping and yapping, while I was mucking out the stalls and scooping poop in the piggy yard and chatting with the piggies. The piggies gave me a tale of woe about the lack of grasses in their yard and asked WHEN I am going to finish the extension which will make their yard twice its current size . Oh piggies! I need dry weather, a back that doesn’t ache, at least one extra pair of hands, and a completely free day – getting all four necessities on the same day is nothing short of a miracle. Soon, piggies, soon.
Charley and Sadie chat with a piglet
I finished with the pigs, called Martin again to no avail, took the dogs in for their dinner, went back out and called again……nope, Martin wasn’t coming. He had moved closer, but his selective hearing was fully operational and I was being staunchly ignored.
Dusk was falling and so I decided to take the dogs out anyway, with Belle and Sadie on leash. We walked to the rise at the back of the fields, giving Martin a wide berth, Since Martin was now down below, I thought I would unleash the dogs so they could run around and play a bit.
It was a good thing I looked behind me before unclipping the leashes.....there, not ten feet behind me on the path, was Martin, trotting along with the rest of the procession....Charley, Sadie, Belle and me, followed by one mischievous alpaca with a twinkle in his eye and a toss of his head that said “you weren’t going to have a walk without me, were you?”
I sat down on the bench, dogs still on leash at my feet. As we stared out over the valley and over Martin’s head, Martin lay down in front of us and stared back. And so we had a nice little conversation in which I asked for his cooperation as the dogs really like to run off leash and after all, it’s only two or three times a day for maybe half an hour each time. Then the dogs and I got up, and giving him a wide berth once more, headed back to the house. We no sooner reached the pasture gate than….ta-dum ta-dum ta-dum …the sound of hoofbeats on the path as Martin comes galloping along at top speed and heads right into his pen!!! That cheeky brat!
So the dogs and I went back out for a while, off leash this time, but it was almost dark. Two black dogs and one deaf dog in the pitch-black pasture would not be a fun experience. But do you think they would HURRY???? No of course not.....they dawdled here and dawdled there, they checked the creek for fish, they examined the coyote poop, and they dug for field mice.
Then they roamed over to the pig pen, causing the piggies, who were in bed for the night, to stick their little snouties out of the piggy door and squeal “Who's there????? Who's there?????? Did you bring fooooooood?????” And the piggies squealing and squeaking started the dogs next door barking, which started my dogs barking, which got Martin back out of his shed once more.
Rickey checks who's there
But all is well that ends well. Martin is secured in his pen, the pigs are in the barn, the dogs are back in the house, and I have been suitably amused, entertained, and loved by 17 amazing critters.