Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Mr. Duke's goat cheese dog bisuits and animal friends

I was making a batch of Mr. Duke's goat cheese dog biscuits tonight. They are all natural treats that our dogs prefer to any commercial dog cookie.

Of course, I was thinking of Mr. Duke, in who's honor the recipe was named. As I kneaded the soft, cold dough, I started thinking of other special animals who share their lives with me. My brain wandered as my hands squeezed and pushed.

We had the vet out to the farm yesterday morning to do health checks on everyone in preparation for the move to Arkansas. We've had to find new homes for many of our animals, there is just no way we could move the entire critter complement of the Laffing Horse Farm to Foxbriar. There are many wonderful stories of the animal's new homes and their adopted people, but those are for later posts.

Somewhat apologetically I said to our vet, as we crunched over the snow to the barn, "We went from ten horses to two - and they are both over twenty."
His reply was quick and understanding, "You'd be surprised at how often that happens."

He patted Fria and Nugget and told them how they deserved their retirement. Meanwhile, Rosemary, our mmama llama was humming with worry. What was that man doing in her barn!

Rosemary's humming didn't bother most of the animals, but Nilly, our little blind sheep is especially sensitive to tension. Nilly was born here on the Laffing Horse Farm. Her mum was one of our older ewes. She knew instantly that Nilly was special. She used her nose to teach Nilly to go up the step into the barn by bumping her. It took us humans longer to figure out what was going on. It was several months before we knew Nilly was blind.

Nilly danced her way into our hearts. Sometimes we sheepishly joke that we fuss more over the silly blind sheep than we do over the rest of the flock. But she is so special. Lambs are born to dance. The little ones bounce, bound, flip and twirl. It is pure joy to watch. But as they grow, they stop dancing. By the time they are six months old, they rarely dance. Grown sheep only dance on very rare occasions - for special food or when a storm is coming.

But Nilly dances all the time. I guess since she is blind, she never figured out that she was supposed to stop that silly behavior. She's five years old now, and it is a rare day that I am not gifted with a smile, courtesy of Nilly's dancing.

Well, Nilly was in the pen with Rosemary. She began bumping the llama on the legs, as Rosemary kept her eye on the vet. He smiled over at her and said, "Well, the llamas are plenty healthy."

Finally, Rosemary took her eyes off the strange man to look down at the silly sheep under her legs. She snuffled Nilly's ruff, reassuring herself and the blind sheep. As we walked out of the main barn, toward the dairy goat pen, I saw the blind sheep coax the mmama llama back to their flake of breakfast hay.

We are blessed that our days are filled with gifts and lessons from our animal friends. And they are blessed that our business allows us to keep them all well fed and cared for. I like to think that it all works out well for all of us.

And of course, the dogs think that humans do a pretty decent job of warming up the bed on these cold winter nights. The picture is Quigly-up-over, my Aussie, "straightening" the covers.

The dogs share our lives more directly than many of the other animals. Mr. Duke (remember the biscuits at the beginning of this post?) was one of the best of that noble species. His biscuits are available in our Common Threads fiber arts and more ebay store. The listing has the story of how these treats were created.

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