Sunday, October 19, 2008

i get by with a little help from my friends

Here's Jazz and Annie helping with firewood duty today. Ah, the benefits of working housedogs...what could have been a horrid job was made easy by my canine work force. Together we brought in three sledges of fire wood. Not too shabby! We did it while the Vermont sun gave us a warm (well, warm for New England) afternoon, and now we'll have a fireplace going every night this week without having to buy any extra quick-burning pine that costs a jillion dollars and armload at stores. Now, the cabin doesn't depend on wood for heat alone, but a roaring fire means I can have the thermostat down to 50 degrees and the house can be warmed up to a toasty nest the rest of the way. Plus, who doesn't love a fireplace?

The work went like this. First I'd take the empty sledge (a kids snow sled, but sledge sounds more badass so let's go with sledge) and my trusty hand saw and spend about thirty minutes sawing up the fallen trees in woods near the farm. When the logs were loaded and tied down, I'd harness the dogs to the gangline and give them the ever familiar "Hike Hike!" and they'd lunge forward and drag the sledge back to the cabin (about 100 yards or so) with ease. The sheep seemed to think this made for very entertainng goings-on and watched from the edge of the electric fencing with intense interest while the sibes worked past them. (In that photo above, if you click it for the larger version you can see the wethers watching in the background.) Usually the sled dogs would do anything to get a bit of wool in their teeth, but in harness they are all business and ignored the flock. I'm certain Maude would have mocked them if she had the ability. But regardless of possibly jeering sheep, they got the wood in like rural superheros. Jazz and Annie may be useless at herding, but they sure know how to work as a team.


Blogger Carrie and Justin said...

Yay for Jazz & Annie!! And for you for being so self-sufficient!! Or is that dog-sufficient?? ha ha
You're inspiring me to try and turn our dogs into more of work dogs. Right now the only time the concepts of "work" and our dogs comes together is the extra work they cause us!

October 19, 2008 at 4:35 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

what kinds of dogs do you have? If they are larger they can certainly help out by packing! Check out and they'll have a sizing guide.

October 19, 2008 at 5:54 PM  
Blogger Carrie and Justin said...

We have Jomo & Whiskey. Whiskey is an 8 1/2 year old Chocolate Lab weighing in about 55 pounds; Jomo is a 7 1/2 month American Bulldog/Bandogge Mastiff mix, weighing in at 65+ pounds! I'm sure they could help, we just need to get them (and us!) there.
Last night though we put some new chickens, who are in their own little "crate", into the larger chicken tractor. Justin and his brother lifted the tractor while I slid the new biddies on in. Jomo was a very big help here. To make sure none of the established flock decided to make a break for it (I'm sure) he kept running into the lifted up tractor and then back out. He also likes to stand on top of the nest box after I get the eggs out. Not sure exactly how that helps, but he tries. ;P

October 19, 2008 at 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of your furry and feathered friends at the farmette are very photogenic.

October 19, 2008 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Darx said...

Sledge definitely sounds more badass. Good dogs!

October 19, 2008 at 7:32 PM  
Blogger Thistledog said...

That's a real interesting twist on draft animal power - perfect use of resources! Dogs must have been uber happy to be back in harness and actually pulling something, and the work they saved you was substantial. Kudos, team CAF!

October 19, 2008 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger Peacemom said...

Saw this on craigslist this morning, thought you'd enjoy it. Maybe it's a new idea for your "mini draft animals"!

October 20, 2008 at 8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's awesome, Jenna!!! What a great idea. I'm really inspired - I have a Sibe/Shepherd mix who would positively love to do stuff like that. :)

A question though, that I've been wondering ever since I started reading your blog - Siberians are notoriously unreliable off-leash (or so I'm told). How do you deal with this on your farm? Do they have a good recall or are they always leashed when outside?

Thanks for the insights, Jenna. Love your blog!!

October 21, 2008 at 8:27 PM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

My sibes are NEVER off leash outside. I wouldn't have farm animals, or my dogs if I let them go. Jazz and Annie are amazing but they'd kill every bunny, chicken and lamb they could get their wolfy teeth on, given the chance.

Vermont also has this nasty law that if a dog chases a deer a hunter can shoot it. If Jazz or Annie got loose they were certainly be brought down by a hunter or get lost, or go after someone elses livestock and get shot.... So no, they are never outside unless they are with me on lead.

But that makes me be outside a lot. We walk everyday, play in off leash fenced dog parks, and work as hiking/sleddogs.

Maybe your shepherd cross will be better! I think with enough work I could trust them with me outdoors off leash, but even the best trained sibe wants to run, and will. So I'm getting a border collie for outside farm work like herding.

October 22, 2008 at 6:23 AM  

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