Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baldric the Bull. Part One.

It happened fast – they were still trying to figure out how it all went wrong. There was a skirmish, OFG chased the retreating foes, and then she pulled ahead of the battle line. Alone. An ambush. Fighting. Col Ti yelling for her as she was pulled from her mount. The great warhorse fought valiantly defending her but was overcome. OFG was taken. And now the armies squared off across a wide field.

“What now Ti?” Mocked Baldric the Bull. “I have your liege and you have nothing but your pitiful troops. You cannot defeat us or run us off these lands!”

Baldric stood in front of his troops – the filthy Cow Herds. Recently they had made their way into the Northern Fields. They were a pestilence on The Good Land and needed to be beaten back to their own territory. OFG and her fighting forces rode out that day to meet them. Then it all went terribly wrong. Baldric and his Cow Herds proved... troublesome.

“A stroke of luck – that was all.” Col Ti assured himself. But now here they were.

Col Ti held the battle line and they watched in horror as Baldric shook OFG like a rag doll. The Chieftain of the Cow Herds was mountainous. His size alone was Baldric's greatest strength. He was a brute. Dark. Ugly. A massive head. Not entirely smart. But he held OFG in front of himself, across his massive chest, like a short shield.

OFG had been beaten physically but she would not be defeated easily. She kicked, uselessly, and cursed Baldric as a fool. There would only be one way out of this and she knew it. She counted on the iron-strong discipline that she demanded of her troops. Mercifully, the last thing she did as she foolishly rode off that day was to give charge of the battle line to Col Ti. “You have command!” She yelled over her shoulder. Now Ti must hold them.

“This is an outrage!” She yelled. “Col Ti! Tell the war hens to loose their arrows. Shoot these Cow Herds where they stand! I have the best armor in all the Lands! I will not be harmed! Archers! Loose!”

The look between them – OFG and Col Ti – was so slight, so imperceivable that no one noticed. Save one.

“Oh no.” Said Little Mo in barely a whisper. “Oh no.... It can't be...”

Across the field Baldric roughly pulled off OFG's helmet and curaiss with one hand. He didn't even set her down but still held her aloft. He clutched her to his chest like a child's toy. He laughed and looked back to his men. They all hooted and jeered.

“There, OFG, no more armor. What say you now?” Baldric threw back his mighty head and laughed.

The tension was unbearable among the war hens. Would Col Ti actually command the archers to fire? On their Liege? They were already on edge but their mighty discipline held. They would take no action until commanded by Col Ti.

Commander Zander was in a rage and stalking the line like a caged tiger. Furious that his mother was being held by the Cow Herd he cursed and swore. He would have vengeance. He was The Black Death. The night feared him. These Cow Herds would pay. They would learn the full meaning of his name.

The young commander would have charged across the field in an attempt to single handedly rescue his mother had not Col Ti demanded obedience. “It would not work.” Snarled Col Ti. Zander knew it. He also knew that the line would fall if he did not hold his position. There would be chaos. So Zander paced, his fury growing louder and more apparent with each pacing step. He roared his discontent.

“No matter!” OFG spat, laughing. “I have the best mail. I shall feel no sting. Col Ti! Loose the first volley!”

“We can fix that too! What do you say, boys? Who wants this arrow stopping shirt of mail?” Baldric pulled OFG's light mail off her as well, gashing her shoulder badly. She winced but did not cry out. She was looking intently at her army. At someone.

“It's happening. Oh no! It's really happening!” Cried Little Mo. He turned and ran.

Cowardice was a grave offense in The Good Land. Some of the nearby troops knew he would be executed later for leaving the field of battle. None went after him.

Baldric and the Cow Herds jeered louder and mocked OFG's fighting men. Baldric rocked back a bit on his heels. He would win this battle and take the North Field for good. His glory and legacy would be assured. Baldric laughed. His victory was close but he was enjoying this too much. He shook OFG again, his men laughed, and she cursed them and commanded Ti to war.

Col Ti's chiseled face stared coldly across the field. He glanced back, gave a curt nod, and said flatly, “You must do this. It's what she would want.”

“I know what she would want.” Said the big man looking past him.

Baldric watched as a single figure emerged from the line. The man's size was impressive. But what good could a single archer do? Baldric was holding OFG in such a way that not even the best assassin could take him down. It was an impossible shot. He snorted. “Very well,” He thought, “Let them take aim at their own liege.” He laughed again thinking of his glory.

The big man walked purposefully, and unhurriedly, out to the halfway point between the battle lines. He all but ignored Baldric and his taunts. Somewhere behind OFG's line the Princess Kai was screaming. Baldric could not hear what she was saying but no matter. She and her brother, Commander Zander, would be fine trophies for his tribute. To see them in chains would be glorious.

Some of the Cow Herds stopped their mocking and watched as the big man carefully shrugged off his quiver and removed several arrows, inspecting them as if to select a specific one. He still had not even looked up at Baldric and was completely unmoved by the screams of his Princess daughter or the mocking of the Cow Herds. He was intensely examining the arrow, the wind, the distance.

At last the big man squared himself and firmly planted his feet. He held the arrow, nocked, and the bow against his leg. His head still down as if he was gravely in thought. All eyes were on him as if no one knew what would happen next. There was a long silence and even Baldric, once laughing, now uncomfortably shifted his stance. OFG had stopped taunting her captors and stared hard at the big man, the single assassin standing in the middle of the field.

“BELOVED!” She cried in a loud voice. “Do you not see me? This is my faith in you!” OFG tried to loosen the grip of Baldric but could only moved a bit, her body and unhelmted head still in the line of fire.

He did not look at her. The big man seemed to shake his head slightly and quietly said, “Don't.” As if he was pleading with her. But she would not relent.

“Do you not see that your strength is my courage?” She urged across the distance.

He stood alone in the middle of the field. Her army was behind him and the enemy line stretched out before him. He looked up, the arrow still nocked but not pulled.

“End this.” She said, “Now.”

Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Butterfly Effect

I used to think that these kind of butterfly pix were a one in a million shot.....

But finally I got one!

Happy Sunday everyone!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Just at the edge of seasons

We are just barely at the edge of seasons.....

You wouldn't know it with tomorrow's expected high of 90* but wow... the light has all changed, there is more darkness, and the mad scramble to get everything harvested and put up begins. I really love this time of year. I love the cool mornings, the humidity has lifted, and it just feels like something good is going to happen.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This changes how today went.....

I've been working on my clearing project and yesterday I kept hearing a buzzing noise while I was whacking my way thru the tall weeds. So I took the only sensible course of action which was to run away.  This morning while it was barely light and went out and checked.

Yep. This changes everything about how today went. 

Pretty much I'm hiding inside until we can kill it with fire. At dusk we attack. And by "we" I mean my husband is on his own. Me and the dogs will still be inside.

Wish me luck, people.... things could get very interesting around here...

Happy Wednesday! Did you find a huge and horrible wasp nest?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Team Hog!

I shared these pix on 'the facebook' last nite and just had to put them up here as well.  Dog#1 and Zander are the Team Hog.

Team Hog

Last nite my Dog#1 got body slammed by a muddy hog during chores. Don't worry he was just fine - just a little muddy. But good thing we had The Dread Commander Zander as back up.

A little muddy and all he wanted was for me to throw the stick. We did.

Zander and Ti worked together to get the pigz moved back into the woods so we could easily get into their pen, dump their feed into their bowl, and then clean out the waterer without being swarmed or pushed down by pesky pigz. Team Hog held the pigz back so it was extremely easy to get these chores done quickly.

"The Dread" Commander Zander. He will earn the name "Excellent" when we protects me from real danger.... like my Most Excellent Good Dog Titan has done many times.

Zander is doing great at his new job. He follows Ti's lead and he responds to some of our commands and is learning more.  The best thing is that his recall (when I call him back to me) is near perfect. Considering there is a lot of barking, running, and squealing pigz this is really amazing. He's also learning to watch me for instruction. I tell "Team Hog" where to move the pigz and also to come stop moving those pigz and come and get THIS pig. They both also immediately stop moving the pigz and come back to me or get out of the hog lot when instructed.

Someone asked me last nite if they really "herd" the pigz? Yep. This isn't two dogs just wildly running around barking and being out of control. They are intentionally working together to achieve a goal. Now, we probably couldn't take Zander to sheepdog trials or something like this..... but that's also not what we use our dogs for.

I also don't use standard sheep dog commands ("come by", "away") because I think there is some merit in using non-standard verbal commands. Some Military Working Dogs and police dogs are trained in Dutch or German so that their dogs are not distracted by other people goofing around when the dogs are working. I just use words that I normally use - but I use them consistently and in the same way to indicate what behaviors I want.

For instance, I needed a command to tell the dogs to move those pigz away from me and the gate. I couldn't use "move them back" because "back" is a specific command to tell the dogs to get behind me. We use this when I'm trying to work with the goats or the chickens. I might be moving the goats or chickens but I don't want them to run around wildly so the dogs are behind me and we move slowly. Or we use this if you show up unannounced. I will call the dogs to me and have them stand behind me while you get out of your car.

So now we use "move them out" to indicate the dogs should get all the pigz together and moving in one direction which is back towards the woods. The dogs stand in front of the pigz - between the pigz and me - and hold the pigz there. If the pigz make a run for it I say, "move them back" and the dogs lunge toward the pigz to hold them in place. Again, this isn't wildly running around and being out of control. This is specific targeted behaviors.

Hard workin' farm dogs.

Once the chores are done then I call them to me and say "let's go." Then we all go out of the hog yard. Titan only ever wants me to throw the stick for him and Zander gets a lot of "good dogs!" and body rubs. We don't reward our dogs with food or treats. They value the work itself and being part of a team. Zander loves the work and gets excited when I say "let's go feed the pigz!"  He paws around by the door, grumbling and shaking his big head,  then thunders down the hill directly toward the pigz. He knows exactly what we are doing and loves it.

Unfortunately Titan was pretty muddy so we had to get him cleaned up. Bath? We don't need no stinkin' bath! I just washed him off with the hose.

Then we ran around some more, got a drink, and then I told them to "go watch the house." Which means I wanted them to both go up on the deck. They did. I gated them in while we did the rest of the chores and they could cool down.

Could we use Zander to round up the goats or herd the ducks? I don't think so. Maybe one day.... but his prey drive is really strong so we will probably just use him to work livestock that he can't easily pick up and shake to death.

Happy Tuesday everyone! Are you working your dogs?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Life is Good.....but soon. Pigz, soon.

The heat dome is in full effect and we are all going to be sweating it out in the Fire Swamp as the Dog Days of summer rage on today....

Life is good.... for now.

But for now life is good for those pigz. It's too hot to butcher this week. But soon.

Happy Monday everyone! Isn't life good?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

My funny Kai photobombs Lucky...

I grabbed a quick happy snap of Lucky the other day - he was so cute and I wanted a good picture.

It wasn't until later that I saw the imp on the right had side of the shot. 

Look at that grin.


Our funny Kai may be 103 lbs of "hell yeah," a tenacious hunter, and no doubt she has a stout heart... but to us she's just our funny girl. We call her Wiggles because of the funny way she dances around when she is happy and swingin' her bonbon tail. Silly Kai!

Happy Sunday everyone!

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