Happy Birthday, Max!

February 1 marks the 11th birthday for Max, our senior Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD).  LGDs are a class of working dogs that have been bred for centuries to protect flocks and herds of livestock, most commonly goats, sheep, and poultry. Max is an Anatolian Shepherd,  an ancient breed originating from Turkey.  These magnificent dogs protect mostly by their mere presence and their loud, commanding barks, but if necessary, they will do what it takes to protect their changes.  Once, I was explaining their purpose to a friend.  She responded:  “So, they are livestock protection without guns?” Exactly!

While I cannot remember Max’s exact “gotcha” day, it is in the month of his birthday, so telling the story of how he joined our farm is appropriate on his birthday.   We had been on our property for several years and our goat-herd was growing.  In my continuing education about the goats, I kept reading about LGDs and was intrigued. We have a large coyote population in our area and cougar sightings are frequent.  We have never had any issues but what spurred me to get a LGD was numerous occurrences of people driving into farms and stealing goats! Not my babies!

I started combing Craigslist to see what I could come up with.  One day, I came across an ad for a free LGD.  In hindsight, I sure wish I would have kept a copy of it. An Anatolian Shepherd, male, about one year old.  Cannot keep him home.  So I contacted the poster and made an appointment to meet the dog. When I arrived at the farm, the man takes me in the barn. In the corner with the goats is this huge dog!  Being me, I walked up to him, knelt downside him and something in the line of:  “Hi Sweetheart!  How are you?” He sucked in next to me, as if to say “Hi.  I’m fine.”  I looked at the owner, who it a bit wide-eyed. He said:  “He has never done that to me. You can have him!”

I put this huge, scared dog in the back of my truck and took him home. It was only his second car ride. He was not impressed. By the time we got home, the back of the truck was wet from slobber and pee.  I was questioning what I had just gotten myself into.   Since he was young, new to us, with a history of wandering, I tied him on a long chain in with the goats so they could get used to each other. Several times a day, I would put him on a leash, and walk the perimeter of the property.  Within a few months time, he had settled in, the goats accepted him,  and he became a part of the family.

We went a little blind into this LGD thing but Max has been a wonderful teacher. It didn’t take long to figure out why Max wouldn’t stay home at the first farm.  While he had a job, he did not have a purpose.  His first owner never bonded with him or gave him value.  We did and he was become the best dog, so much more than we expected.

Happy Birthday, my dear friend!  Our farm is so much better under your watch.


Goodbye, Mr. Dude


Life on the farm is good and bad. Happy and sad.  The cycle of life. This weekend, we said goodbye to our farm cat, Mr. Dude.

A couple of years after we moved in, we were having issues with animals under the house. We hired someone to plug up the holes and set traps to make sure no creature was left under the house. One day while he was working, he called me over and pointed the flashlight under the house. There were two identical cat faces, one big and one small. Not long afterwards, in the live trap was the little one.  I put on leather gloves and was the first person to ever touch this hissing and spitting ball of fur. Those of you that know me realize I love reactions like that!  I put him in our shop to get used to us and starting calling him Little Dude.

With time, his name changed to Mr. Dude or just Dude. He was a good hunter but not too fond of people.  Even though he was neutered, he tended to get into fights and would lose. I cannot tell you how many times over the years we took him to the vet to get patched up, usually for abbesses. A  few years after joining our farm, he disappeared for a number of days. When he finally showed up, he was a mess!  His back right leg was pulled out of the socket and split open from thigh to heal.  A front foot had a mangled toe, that had to be amputated.    The vet was confident that he would heal well so we spent a lot of money to patch him up and put in a lot of effort to keep him quiet while he recovered

As he aged, he got into fewer fights and slowly became more friendly–to me.  He was one of those cats that craved attention, but only on his terms.  He loved to butt me with his head, almost knocking me over if I were bent down.  He also escorted me to the food dish a number of times a day, whenever he could see the bottom of the dish.

The past year or so he started to show his age and the wear and tear from all his fights. He stayed closer to home, most days greeting me at the garage and escorting me to the barn to the food dish.  As the weather cooled this winter, he spent a lot of time in the garage and often begged to come in the house, something he has never done in his nearly 12 years with us. I think it was because he was not well and had lost a lot of weight and was looking for some place warm.  So for the last few weeks of his life, I kept him in the heated greenhouse where is was above freezing and safe. The poor old guy stopped eating and faded away.

I will miss his quiet presence and my daily escorts to the barn.  I will miss you Mr. Dude.  Goodbye, sweetheart.

Goodbye, Mr. Dude

A New Beginning

I have been writing “this and that on the farm” posts via my personal Facebook page for a couple of years.  Numerous people have encouraged me to start a blog. So here it is. Please bear with me while I figure this new process all out.

I am the owner of Out in the Garden Nursery, a speciality nursery in Molalla Oregon. My nursery, my farm, and my home are an all in one situation.  It’s hard to separate them. My intent of this blog is to share the comings and goings on the farm.  Some are good. Some are funny. Some are sad.  It’s never boring on a farm, that’s for sure.

Overall, it’s pretty quiet on the farm lately. We are experiencing the first real winter we have had for many years.  Mostly cold, but some snow and ice, but nothing like other areas in the region, so I cannot complain. It takes a little more work to keep the animals watered and double checks that everyone is warm and cozy.  The best thing about snow is it’s great beauty.  The gardens and our majestic oaks are amazing!   This photo was taken by our neighbor Christine, looking into our property and our signature blue house.

As time allows, will start introducing you to the various players on the farm and in the nursery, as well as keeping you posted on this and that on the farm.

I hope you enjoyed my first attempt.  ~ Carol


A New Beginning