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Farm Dogs

August 31, 2016
Shan 9/23/01 - 8/31-16

Shan 9/23/01 – 8/31-16

Long time no post for sure.  While it has seemed like for a long time writing about the day to day, year to year farm stuff here is pretty boring, once in a while milestones are passed.  We made the decision this past week to put down our faithful Mel before life for him became undignified.  It’s awful hard to let go of a pet, especially a velcro dog like my Shan.  He absolutely could not relax unless he knew where all of his humans were.  He definitely was no cattle dog, not in any sense.  But we didn’t buy him to be a cattle dog.  Our cows are pretty much confined, never need herding or chasing, but having a dog that has a smidgen of cow sense can be helpful.  House calf un-tethered or out of bounds?  Shan would bark, not just any a bark, a bark that told you to listen, something is awry in the barnyard.  Our dogs are companion dogs plain and simple with a little garden guard dogging on the side.  Cheaper than a tall deer fence and much easier to look at.

We will miss our old boy terribly, but he really resented old-age and having to be helped to get up every single time he needed to go outside, or up and down the stairs.  A few months ago Bill at Practicing Resurrection wrote an obituary for one of his goats, Penny Lane Guerrant and I thought that was a nice touch, I wish I had thought of the idea myself.  Thanks Bill, for writing that. Here is Mel’s obituary.

Trapper Creek Blue Moon Mel

9/23/01 – 8/31/16

Blue Moon Mel (Shan) was born in Gresham, Oregon and moved to a farm in the Egypt area of Larch Mountain at age 7 weeks. Mel is survived by his human parents and sister, and his adopted brothers Tracey Darryl and Grady Badger. His wife Belle preceded him in death, they had no children.

Mel’s first job on the farm was to plant garlic and he continued to do so each year until this year. One of his favorite pastimes was gardening, but his true calling was farm security and half-hearted barn cat chasing. He was a natural at knowing just where to stand to get an errant cow to go the absolute wrong way… however; he made up for that by barking when the milk cow was headed for the corn patch each time the milkmaid forgot to secure the gate. Mel never met a foe he couldn’t keep at bay, and notches in his collar included bobcat, bear, raccoon, numerous skunks, countless deer and elk, and possibly a cougar or two steered clear because Mel was on duty. Mel worked full time in farm security until the age of 6 when he began splitting his time between guard dog duties and teaching his younger brother Trace to be his replacement in the garden and orchard.

At his request there will be no service, and he will be buried in the orchard near the deer trail where he can keep guard.

45 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane permalink
    August 31, 2016 11:39 am

    His obituary tells of a life well lived and that he was well loved. Condolences for your loss

    • August 31, 2016 12:46 pm

      Jane, thanks so much. He was a great dog!

    • August 31, 2016 10:34 pm

      A two generation perspective: Merlin was rescued – a sheepdog, lived on the farm – got all but killed by an American Bulldog/Pitbull cross – 28 puncture wounds, lived on weakened but always dutiful. New dog 4 years ago a Beagle – taught the Beagle which chickens to herd and to leave (brooders/chicks etc) – today lost the beagle in suburbs when out rescuing bees… he came back! Such emotion and trauma because they give so much value to us.

  2. Ali permalink
    August 31, 2016 12:08 pm

    Funny, I was just on your blog about an hour ago thinking its been a long time since you posted! I am so sorry for your loss. He was a beautiful dog. What a hard thing it is to do to say goodbye to a faithful friend and companion. We have one Aussie named Emmet. He is a good boy, going on two, but still acts like a spring loaded puppy! I hope he turns into as good a farm dog as your Mel and lives to a ripe old age. By the ways, how did you get to calling him Shan?

    • August 31, 2016 12:40 pm

      Ali, we started calling him Tooktian (took-shun) for some unknown reason and pretty soon the shun became shan. Oh my gosh, they don’t settle down until they turn 4 and then you think something is wrong with them! Now I have a 9 year old and a 2.5 year old, so we’re getting both ends of the spectrum.

  3. Bee permalink
    August 31, 2016 12:10 pm

    Oh, Nita, I’m sorry to hear that. I had a feeling from looking at his last picture that it wouldn’t be long. He had a great life and I know you’ll miss him. Always sad to lose a faithful friend…

  4. August 31, 2016 12:22 pm

    Such a beautiful boy. And the obituary has me in tears. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. arte white permalink
    August 31, 2016 12:47 pm

    That is a great tribute to a family member who lived well and fully.

  6. Fidelia Sherman permalink
    August 31, 2016 12:50 pm

    I am so terribly sorry for your loss. It’s so odd: when I saw the picture, I knew it was Mel. I didn’t know what the post was going to be about, but I was glad to hear from you. While my heart aches for you and yours, I’m glad he didn’t suffer too much and his obituary is touching. Take care. Have Trace give you some love from me.

  7. August 31, 2016 1:07 pm

    Oh MOH – so very sorry to hear about Shan. He sure was a handsome boy and from the lovingly written obit – he had a wonderful life.
    I confess I was thrilled to see a post from you in my in-box – been missing the matron wisdom, then saddened to hear of your loss – but there is still wisdom in there – knowing when to make the compassionate decision to put an animal down. It is a heart-wrenching decision to make for sure, and my heart goes out to you.

  8. August 31, 2016 1:08 pm

    I’m very sorry! Boy, he was brave – keeping ferocious intruders away. God bless him.

  9. Elva permalink
    August 31, 2016 1:19 pm

    I am very sorry to hear about your dog’s passing. It is evident that he had the best of lives with you every day that he was with you. My old border collie is just one year younger than yours, and I treasure every day that I still have with him. Your blog posting is a beautiful tribute to your friend.

  10. Rita permalink
    August 31, 2016 2:11 pm

    So sorry Nita.

  11. efrompdx permalink
    August 31, 2016 3:17 pm

    It’s so hard to say goodbye. I kept my shaggy black mutt going long past when she should have gone to dog heaven. Eventually, though, carrying an 80 lb dog up and down the stairs became too much. I figured that if she struggled at all she could kill us both! When the house call vet came to do the deed she had just finished a turkey and cheese sandwich in the kitchen and was happy as could be. Even wagged her tail at him.

    Pet the other two and remind yourself how wonderful old companion dogs are…

  12. August 31, 2016 4:38 pm

    It’s sad news, Nita. He was such a striking dog. RIP Mel. I’ll miss seeing him on your blog. xx

  13. stumplifter permalink
    August 31, 2016 6:35 pm

    I am at a loss for words. You have been a great teacher for me in so many ways, and it hurts me to know that you have lost a dear member of your pack. Our old boy, Jaco Diogi, is nearing the end of his trail, and we are listening closely for his wisdom in letting go. Until then, daily hammock time with us and a mothers’ crooning will sustain. I hope the transition from emptiness and loss to memories and solace will greet your family in the near future. Rest in peace, Mel.

  14. Sandy and Ron permalink
    August 31, 2016 7:38 pm

    Your memories of Mel will always be with you, and he is waiting patiently at Rainbow Bridge, to greet you.

  15. August 31, 2016 8:18 pm

    So sorry Nita-they leave a big hole! Hope we get to see you at Harvest Party this year. take care.

  16. August 31, 2016 9:10 pm

    So sorry to read this, but so glad we who have owned such great dogs have the chance to go out on a good note. Your Mel graced the pages of the blog for many a year, always with character. The obituary was a fine tribute.

  17. August 31, 2016 9:55 pm

    Aww, I’m so sorry, he was a beautiful dog and worked hard for those he loved. I so enjoyed the obituary! We had to put our old girl down June 20, she was just short of 16 years and 5 months. She was badly injured 10 years ago, but lived a full and fun life despite that. She is buried close to the pear tree, oh how she loved those pears!

  18. scottishsoapmaker permalink
    August 31, 2016 11:25 pm

    I was so sorry to read of your loss. He would be glad that you did not let him loose his dignity. What a wonderful life he had with you.
    Your posts are always welcome.
    With thanks.

  19. September 1, 2016 2:56 am

    I’m so sorry for your loss. He lived to a ripe old age and I’m sure he had a grand and happy life. And I know he will be greatly missed. Rest in peace Mel.

  20. September 1, 2016 3:18 am

    Aw, Nita, I am so sorry to read this. They leave such a hole in your heart no matter how long and happy a life they have had….and i was noticing the lack of posts. Your day to day is never boring to me and your photos are stunning.

  21. PennyAshevilleNC permalink
    September 1, 2016 4:25 am

    Oh my, I am sorry for the loss, but I love his obituary. What a special friend to have on the team. I am enjoying the instagrams though I don’t use an account, so know I am out there enjoying and learning from you still. 🙂

  22. September 1, 2016 5:31 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have missed your posts. I went looking now on Instagram and I think I found you. I miss seeing Jane and her babies.

  23. thecrazysheeplady permalink
    September 1, 2016 7:57 am

    Just about nothing harder than losing a good farm dog :’-(.

  24. bunkie permalink
    September 1, 2016 8:02 am

    Happy Trails Shan! Hugs to all those left behind!

  25. CarolG. permalink
    September 2, 2016 2:18 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. It is always hard to loose a well-loved friend and companion. May the memory of him bring you joy for many years.

  26. Lisa permalink
    September 3, 2016 1:29 pm

    Oh dear… I am getting myself prepared for this sad journey as well. I am so sorry for your loss. This is just devastating; losing any pet—but especially our aussies.
    It’ll sure be tough when we have to say goodbye to our Flip.

  27. September 4, 2016 4:10 am

    Your post brought to mind an odd looking very mixed breed dog I picked up years ago from a breeder on the side of the highway. Instincts like no other dog I’ve owned. Anything (geese, chickens, goats, whatever) that wasn’t where it belonged, he would ‘herd’ to the back door of the house and keep guard until we came out. If we weren’t out in a few minutes, he’d throw his entire bulk at the door to get our attention. Once he had our attention, he’d help herd back to where they belonged, then promptly show us where they had gotten out (gap under fence, broken wire etc).
    I sometimes wish our dogs would outlive us – so hard to lose them.

  28. September 8, 2016 4:44 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. It’s hard to let them go even when we know it’s the only right way to care for them. A good dog is a treasure. Thanks for sharing yours with us.

  29. permalink
    September 18, 2016 7:11 pm

    A sad post, but so nice to hear from you again.

  30. Patti permalink
    September 23, 2016 11:33 am

    So sorry for the loss of your beautiful farm dog. I have been missing your posts as you are always an inspiration for me. Your blogs are deeply appreciated.

  31. October 2, 2016 11:18 am

    Dear Matron- please forgive the out of sync post. I have a garden question that is too long for the instagram format 🙂 We have been experiencing an impressive decrease in our potato production these last few years. So I’m considering purchasing new seed and changing our varieties. That said: if you had to chose only one of each: red, blue/ purple, white and yellow which potato variety would you choose? And like you, I need something that stores well. Thoughts?

    • October 2, 2016 9:21 pm

      Elizabeth, I buy new seed every year, except the few I plant early in the greenhouse from stored potatoes. My current favorites (flavor and production) 1) Dark Red Norland, red with white flesh, early but doesn’t store well but fills the early gap.
      2) Viking Purple, purple/pink skin, white flesh, and excellent storage, excellent flavor and production if you like big potatoes.
      3) Desiree, red skin, creamy yellow flesh, very productive, excellent storage and nice big smooth potatoes. Starting to edge out my old favorite Viking Purple.
      4) AmaRosa fingerling, new to us this year, but good sized beautiful red skin and red flesh, delicious, and excellent for roasting.

      • October 3, 2016 8:47 pm

        Thanks for the info! The description of Desiree caught me eye too but the “late” tag on the maturity worries me. (We have trouble getting German Butterball to bulk up due to it’s late maturity). Would you really consider Desiree a late season variety or maybe a mid?

        • October 4, 2016 8:08 pm

          Elizabeth, I would almost think mid. I planted it in the greenhouse early this year with the Dark Red Norland and it did really well. Outside it was a little later than the others but not too much. With Desiree I think you could probably harvest a little on the early side and just have smaller potatoes. I had some that weighed two pounds because we got some doozy rainstorms. I first read about Desiree on Musings of a Stonehead, it was a survivor in a year of blight in Scotland, he sure liked his tatties. I’ve grown it ever since, and it is delicious!

        • October 8, 2016 10:26 am

          Well, that sells me! Desiree for us next year!!!

  32. Heather permalink
    January 9, 2017 5:06 pm

    And where do you buy potatoes from?

    Are you not blogging anymore? My long winters were made shorter and brighter with your posts!

    • January 16, 2017 8:39 pm

      Heather, I usually use fedco, shipping is killer but the customer service and the potatoes are spot on.

      Ugh, my husband had major back surgery in October so I have been a one woman show, and with a winter like we used to have I have been under the gun and just too tired to write much. I want to, but by the end of the day, I am shot. My cow is dry though so it is like a mini vacation 🙂 I barely have time to peruse the forum 😦 I am hoping to blog sometime soon…

      • January 16, 2017 9:44 pm

        Soory to hear that. Had been thinking of you

      • Heather permalink
        February 12, 2017 10:03 am

        I get from Fedco also so that will not be hard to continue.
        Sorry to hear about the back surgery – I hope it will improve his back though! I knwo abot blogging . . I started up a “new” blog a while back to encourage myself to have a better garden and farm diary and there a year later I have 6 posts LOL As long as you are well, that is all that matters and we will think of you!

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