|Duchess, Dorothys dog, having a beer!|
The various Wwoofers (willing workers on organic farms) who have stayed and worked on the farm over the past 23 years have walked, played with, washed and loved the dogs.
Interestingly this farm seems to have attracted to it international visitors who are very tolerant of dogs although we have had a few with cat allergies who have not been able to stay for long due to their reaction to cat hairs in the wwoofer house.
Part of the farm daily routine when we had 6 dogs was to walk them a kilometer twice a day and for some wwoofers it was a delight and a chore. For example as the first job in the morning a long fresh walk on a sunny day was a lovely way to start the wwoofer work but if it was your turn to come back at 4pm it could be a dragging chore and might lead to complaints.
|Frodo being washed by two Polish Wwoofers|
|Jack, Lucy, Ruby and Gypsy|
are so precious).
I love the independent nature of a cat and the fact that a cat chooses to live with you or not. Dogs on the other hand, despite being clearly "mans" best friend, are much more dependent on humans and really seem to require a master/mistress who is the head of the pack. I have watched the dog whisperer and seen just how important this pack-leader role is when keeping a dog.
Further, dogs put up with some of the worst owners and continue to give that person their loyalty--allowing someone to torture you and going back for more-maybe they are masochists deep down.
|Annika walking all 6 dogs in 2011|
I wish my passing could be the same-a hole dug, my body put in and then a tree over me for my remains to fertilise--aahh if only human death was so uncomplicated.
The sad death of Frodo last week means for the first time since we came to the farm in 1990 we have no large dog to greet people who arrive at the gate. There is no warning bark, no dog to wag its tail at those visiting, to keep the fearful in their car and to thrill the doggie lovers. Rather you are more likely right now to be greeted by a little family of growing baby ducks and their mother who now the big dog has finally gone have taken over the front entrance area of Caretaker Farm
|5 dogs, wwoofers and Bryan 2014|
As part of an organic, natural agriculture and permaculture system that operates on the farm they have an extremely important function in helping keep the eco-balance. Unlike my tolerance for dogs I unreservedly love ducks because they are so interesting to watch and help keep the farm free of annoying bugs.
The ducks I introduced to the farm were Peking, Kayuga and Khaki Campbell's which then interbred to create the now 35 to 40 or so ducks that roam on this land and unfortunately on the neighbour's across the road. Why is the grass always greener on the other side of the fence I ask? Especially when its the same! Every so often this duck roaming results in me getting a complaining phone call from the neighbour and so have to go duck chasing-this involves carrying a long stick, climbing the neighbour's fence and then carefully walking over the paddock and through the river to push the ducks back up towards my gate and into my property. Luckily ducks can be herded, unlike chickens who will never go where you want without a fight or flight. I saw this herding of ducks in China when I was there in 1986 and was so impressed by the efficiency of the Chinese farmer with his long bamboo stick walking behind 20 or more ducks as he herded them up the road that I resolved one day to get some ducks of my own.
|7 baby ducks with their mother|
|the chicken ducklings|
Farm work every day involves feeding ducks. Wwoofers help mix feed for the ducks, chickens and turkeys who live here and provide the eggs and meat for the humans. At present just as we had too many dogs at one stage we have too many ducks so we will have to either sell or kill some if we are to control the numbers and keep the correct balance of animals and plants.
The Australian terriers hate the ducks and Jack in particular was a duck killer from hell. When he escaped from the house he would kill ducks one after another until he was caught-his record was 5 ducks at one time. This action would result in me screaming, cursing and crying like a demented harpie and poor Jack and my daughter Tamarah would get it in the ear. One week before he died he managed to escape for one last time and kill a duck who had strayed into the house area-his final act before death-hence leading to the inspiration for this story from Caretaker Farm entitled dogs, ducks and death.
|Duck sitting on eggs|
|3 ducklings in a cage|