Saturday, July 11, 2009

Flies, Flies Everywhere, and Nary a Bite of Chicken to Eat

Our Suburban farm is growing. Our sunflowers are now towering over our heads, we've become zucchini and cucumber gluttons, and our corn is germinating even as I type. Our ducks and chickens now have free range of our backyard, meaning the garage door is always closed so they don't poop in there, and I am awakened each dawn to the sound of maniacal duck laughter. Ahhh. Farm life. There is a catch, though.

Flies! Agh! They are just terrible. I think that there is a colony of about 20,00 flies that has set up in our yard and that perhaps their collective intelligence is evolving. At first, I just sent Green Bottle Boy out there with a fly swatter. That entertained him for hours and killed hundreds of flies. Then he went to camp and all hell broke lose. Or should I say the flies began to multiple like rabbits? They were everywhere, especially in our duck pen. I cleaned out our duck pen, sprayed the entire area and hung fly strips around it like garlic hung to ward off vampires. So, did the flies die? No. They moved. I swear, they just up and moved their operation to my garden. Well, I can't spray there, so I hung up fly strips. They moved again. This time to my neighbor's garage. In response, we bought them a house warming gift: fly spray. I think they were appreciative. I'm trying to force the flies back to the woods, but haven't had much luck. They love poop, and, well, with 6 chickens, 7 ducks and 2 dogs, we have a lot of that around here.

Our dogs, though, have been an interesting problem. Last week we let them out, accidentally, while the ducks were out. Hydro ran down the steps and immediately began barking. My dog translator tells me he was saying, "Hey! Mom, Dad, the ducks are out! Hey! Mom! Dad! The ducks are out!" Sammy, our Border Collie, went into full sprint when she saw them out, and then stopped, only to bark at Hydro. I swear, she was barking, "Stupid! Shut your mouth and chase! Stupid! Shut your mouth and chase!" We brought the dogs inside and disaster was averted. Sammy looked at Hydro with great annoyance and disgust for the rest of the day. In dog world, Hydro became the equivalent of the child who raises their hand in class and says, "Teacher! You forgot to assign us homework!"

Earlier this week I decided that all the animals needed to live at peace with each other and the dogs would just have to learn to share the yard with the birds as the birds are simply too big to keep in a coop. We brought the dogs out on lead, so we could catch them and control them if need be.

Hydro's reaction was to pee on the duck pool. Of course.

Sammy, however, saw all the birds, whimpered and ran back up the deck to the door. She refused to come down.

"She knows she wants to eat them," My insightful husband noted, "So she won't come out."

Wow. Preemptive guilt. I wish I had that.

I dragged her down into the grass, and told her to 'hurry'. That works with Hydro as he was trained to pee on command. It doesn't work with Sammy. She just looks at you with a look that usually only a home schooled child could give. That look that says, "I just don't pee on command. I'm not like a school kid. There are no communal bathroom breaks in my day."

So we stood there, Sammy and I, in the grass, as Sammy cried. I dragged her deeper into the yard. She began to drool. I undid the leash and slowly she slunk back to the deck.

The next day, she was out and someone let out the chickens. Before we could stop her she chased them into the corner of the yard. Then a funny thing happened. She didn't take a bite. She simply chased them and jumped around, in a sort of primal chicken dance. It was at this point I realized that she didn't want to eat the chickens, she simply wanted to mess with their brains.

I love my dog.


MoonDog said...

if sammy is border collie isnt the instinct to heard? so maybe she was just trying to fight her instinct to please you. dogs are funny animals. I always wanted a border collie. does Sammy ever heard your children? I have heard they do that.

Deb said...

Sammy does have a herding instinct, in fact when she was young she did herd my boys out of rooms and other places when they would be really loud. It was very funny. She's always been gentle, but we did have to train the herding out of her to a degree because she nipped as part of the way to do it. She'll also herd me (bumping and pulling my pants leg) to the food dish if I forget to feed her.

I think she was trying to fight her instinct to herd, but was greatly tempted. After a while, she didn't want to do out in the backyard if the birds were out. It was like she, my 45 lb baby, was afraid of a 7 lb chicken. She's glad they are now gone!