Thyme For Ewe Maggie
Thyme For Ewe Scooter
our American Farmcollies
What a Thyme For Ewe Farmcollie is: A working dog while also being the family pet. We breed for four qualities. First - temperment. Our farmcollies can jump down from a nap on the coach when hearing "Get the cows," get the cows (twice from the corn field a half mile up the road at 5 a.m. OUCH!), bring them home, put them back into the pasture, hold them there while the fence is fixed, and return to the couch to continue the nap. From work to rest to work again without missing a beat is our goal. Our dogs are raised as members of our family and as working dogs. Our dogs are happiest when they're pleasing us.
Second - guardian skills. We live in the forest with coyote, bobcat, bear, raccoon, raptors (hawks, eagles and owls) and unfortunately, the occasional misguided human. We have a young daughter who plays outside. She always takes Maggie or Scooter. Second to guarding our safety is the safety of our livestock and poultry. Our pups are raised with goats, cattle, a loveable old pony, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys and rabbits. They're exposed to all of them in some manner before leaving our farm. Chicks are held down for dogs and pups to become familiar with. New animals are introduced to give the dogs a chance to realize "this is my charge" before being turned out.
Third - herding skills. When those cows are up the road I need the dogs to bring them home. When the goats are in the garden they need to be removed and returned to the pasture. When the sun is going down and the last birds haven't put themselves in for the night Scooter's sure to nudge them in the right direction. In the spring when the livestock should have limited time on new grass I can send the dogs out to get them.
Fourth - hunting skills. No, you probably won't find a dog you can take ducking hunting here. The rule is "don't touch the duck!" We do hunt with our dogs. They're fantastic pest controllers. They'll hunt for squirrels, mice and other pests when they're not otherwise working. We haven't set traps for mice in the grain room in years. I don't miss reaching into a bin to get a can of grain only to have a mouse run up my arm. We do hunt birds with Maggie. She loves to flush partridge and isn't at all gun shy.
What a Thyme For Ewe Farmcollie isn't: A show dog. Of course they're gorgeous! I'm sure a judge in a dog show wouldn't think so though. We do aim for a particular look but it's not our first priority. They aren't dogs to be turned out on hundreds of acres and left for weeks at a time with a flock of sheep or herd of cattle. They are not loners. They want human companionship.
May 4, 2003
We spent the day outside. The dogs caught seven voles today, killing six of them. Sebastian (lab x g. shepherd) doesn't understand killing them. He plays with them which annoys Maggie. When she heard Seb's vole squeek she ran to him, took it away from him, killed it instantly and then to Seb's dismay, she didn't give it back. She ate his treat! You could see the suprise on his face when he realized she'd swallowed it.
If you look closely you can see the vole at the tip of Maggie's jaw, between her top and bottom teeth. She either decapitates or shakes her head to snap the neck quickly. Scooter, the black and white farmcollie pictured, is Maggie's son from her first litter (2001).
This is Maggie at nine months. She's always been able to be left untethered as she is now. She knows our property lines and doesn't leave them unless she's returning an animal from across the road. I walk her two miles a day without a leash. She's allowed to run 100' in front of me or to lag behind if she's found something interesting. If I need her to return to me a quick, "Come!" brings her to my feet instantly. We live in a rural area on a dead end road off a dead end road. Traffic is minimal. If a car is coming Maggie will return to me.
Maggie and Scooter are responsible for keeping the cattle, goats, pigs, turkeys, chickens and ducks in their appropriate places. They're both herders and guardians. They keep people and animals safe. They also hunt pests such as red squirrels and mice. They are aware of hawks and owls and keep them away from the poultry. They can be very busy at times!
Returning an escaped turkey to the tractor.August 19, 2000 19 months. She's a beauty! Of course, I'm partial but she really is a beautiful dog. She's dirty here. She works daily and doesn't have baths. She doesn't like to get wet so when the other dogs are swimming in our pond she's standing on the banks watching. If I could convince her swimming is a good thing she wouldn't be so dingy. Her coat is easy to brush out. In the spring I brush out the hair she's losing from her winter coat. That's about it. If she gets into burdock I pull them out by hand. Her coat is silky and slippery. She's never had a mat.
Bobcat Comes to Call
We NEVER like killing an animal. Steve often says "it's never a good day when you kill something." This includes the animals raised for our meat. This was a particularly hard winter. The snow came in November and was above the fenceline for months. Hunting was very hard and predators were starving to death by this time. This cat was thin and prepared to take anything it could to eat. We felt bad for him. We had kids (goats) born soon after this incident. We knew they were due and that the bobcat wouldn't have hesitated to kill them either inside or outside the barn. We also have poultry that needs to be protected. Most importantly, we have children. Please keep these things in mind as you read this story. It was a difficult thing to do.
We've had problems with bobcats. They're not far away when the kids are outside. We stopped letting them outside alone because of the cats. There were hunters here after them but they didn't have much success. Maggie has been restless and growling for two days. Last night she chased something off several times and it kept coming back. I knew it wasn't a coyote. When she runs them off they don't follow her back. She stayed with it for a little more than an hour while I worked in the rabbitry. When I finished with the rabbits I sat on the back porch with a shotgun but didn't see it. When it didn't come back within 10 minutes we came back in to warm up. She growled all night.
This morning she paced and growled. When I put her out she ran the yard and growled but couldn't find anything. I left the birds and livestock in since she'd let me know there was a problem. I stayed outside with Maggie until I got cold then came in for a cup of coffee. She'd settled down so I was sure the predator had moved on. It must have been making its rounds I kept watching out the window but didn't see anything. I took a phone call and wasn't hearing what was going on outside. When I hung up I headed for the door to check the yard out.. Maggie flew out past my legs and ran to the backyard. The free roosters were cackling up a storm and the locked up chickens and ducks were fussing loudly. I found a pile of feathers. Damn. I lost, it got a rooster. Maggie took off after something and I turned in time to see a bobcat running with the rooster. They went around the corner and out of my sight. By the time I reached the corner of the house the cat and rooster were gone. I called Maggie back so that she wouldn't chase it into the woods. Bobcats aren't usually in backyards unless they're very hungry. Hungry predators have no sense of humor.
I made a very stupid mistake. I assumed the cat was gone. I thought it must have run across the road. Maggie didn't want to come to me but she did as she was told. I walked to the pile of feathers by the woodpile, bent to pick some up and heard the cat growl. It was only five or six feet from me. It was in a 2' wide space between the woodpile and tarp that covers the back of it. Sure got my attention. You tend to get comfortable with your surroundings even when you know there are things in the woods that can hurt you. Maggie heard it and charged between it and me, barking like crazy. She held the bobcat in its place until I was able to stand up straight, get my wits about me for a second and move away from it. I called her off when I was closer to the house and we went in. The story doesn't end here. Things happened in between which resulted in a dead bobcat. You've come here to read about the abilities of a farmcollie so I'll spare the gory details. Maggie barked and growled visciously for several minutes until she was sure it wasn't going to get up. When she was satisfied she left and went back to the house.
Roosters In The Night
May 9. At the indecent hour of 2 a.m Maggie, started growling. I was half awake, half asleep and hadn't heard coyotes yipping so expected a raccoon. I dressed and let Maggie out. She ran to the back yard and barked, paced, and searched for but couldn't find the culprit. She knew something was out there but wasn't sure where. Maggie doesn't rest until her work is finished. She's determined to find the problem and tend to it. We searched for ten minutes. Ducks began to quack at the pond. We live in an isolated area in the woods. I was armed with just a 4" flashlight. Ehhh...she heard the ducks and started to work her way to the pond, nose to the ground and no longer barking. At least the moon was bright enough to see large moving objects if there were going to be any. Between the house and pond we found feathers about 10' off the path. I glanced quickly at them and assumed they were from a duck but didn't look closely. Nothing at the pond but ducks. I think Maggie's barking disturbed them. When we were sure there was nothing there Maggie turned back and went to the pile of feathers. I caught up to her and took a closer look. Chicken feathers. After a frightening incident with a bobcat in February I no longer bend over to pick up feathers until much later. Maggie found a carcass and sure enough, there was a headless rooster. Blasted raccoons again. I was sure at dusk that this rooster was up safely but was obviously wrong. When Maggie was satisfied this was the only casulty and that the coon was gone I brought him to the house and disposed of the body. Maggie went off to bed and slept while I stayed awake for another hour.
This is our newest farmcollie pup, Scooter. Scooter is from Maggie's September, 2001 litter. We hadn't intended to keep any of the pups. When Scoot was four weeks old he started bringing leaves and twigs to me. He'd pile several up then lay down at my feet for a nap. I couldn't resist. He's excellent with the poultry and has a route he follows every day to inspect. A few days before turning seven months he found the courage to work the goats. He followed Maggie's lead and did a good job.
Scooter moving a Bourbon Red tom. He's proven himself to be an invaluable dog. He's an avid pest hunter, herds both poultry and livestock and is an excellent guardian. At nine months old he thought he'd protect me from a rottie cross. "Have you NO concept of size, Scoot?" <g> He's ferocious with coyotes and wandering dogs but is satisfied with chasing them off as long as they'll stay away.