A Good Homestead Partner

Sili will follow my every command. She minds me without fail. I love her to death. She is and always will be my favorite animal in the world. She sleeps in my bed when its not tick and chigger season and she follows me everywhere. She will look long and soulfully into my eyes until i drift to sleep and she watches over me with great diligence when i am sick. She is a good dog. I find myself very bonded to her. Cashew and i’s relationship is a little different. She’s a bit more feral, wild and unruly. She’s harder to control. She does what she wants at times and frequently gives herself jobs i wouldn’t have picked for her, like relocating all of my extra metal fence poles from one side of the property to the other. However, Cashew is not a bad dog. Cashew is an aussie. She is a dog on a mission, a dog on the lookout for a job. If i am digging up tree stumps, so is she. If i am trimming cedar branches and throwing them in the wheelbarrow, she is going around collecting the branches i trimmed and tossing them in the wheelbarrow. If i am facing an intruder with a machete, she’s about to bite the seat of their pants as they flee through the hole in the fence. If i am chasing a fox, so is she. If i am gathering water from the well she stands guard, scanning the woods while i do so. Today i was trying to kill a fly in the house. I couldn’t get it for the longest time and it was driving me crazy because they’ve come into the house to light on your food after just leaving poop or roadkill. I turned to Cashew and said “get it.” She immediately stood up and started paying attention to where the fly was traveling in the room. Cashew stayed by the sink and i stayed at the back of the house. The fly flew back and forth in circles. When it would land at the back of the house i would swat quickly with my dish towel but i missed. When it landed at the front of the house i would be forced to cross the room and try to see if i could locate it before it took off again. Cashew noticed me looking for it. The next time it landed at the front of the house Cashew stood stalk still and pointed her nose directly at a plum sitting on top of the dog crates. I crossed the room quietly and there was the fly sitting directly atop the plum Cashew had pointed at. I swatted the plum with the towel but apparently missed him because he took off again. Once airborne i went back to my post at the back of the house. The fly landed again in the front of the house. Cashew pointed to the window with her nose. I quietly crossed the room and found the fly on the window. I swatted but missed. Then the fly did another lap and landed on the window unit. Cashew pointed with her nose. I could see it sitting on the window unit. This ends now. I whipped my kitchen towel at it and stunned it but didn’t kill it. While it struggled to take flight again i whipped and whipped and whipped at the fly with the kitchen towel. I got it. It was on its back, stunned on the window sill. I smashed it with my finger under the kitchen towel just to make certain it was deceased and then dropped it into the wolf spider web next to the window unit. It was my peace offering for destroying the webbing he made on the curtains daily. The wolf spider emerged to see what was in his web. I turned to Cashew and patted her head announcing, “we got it. He’s dead.” She and i made a very good working team. There wasn’t any job she didn’t want to be a part of. If i was a full time homesteader i would make such use of her and her willingness to participate. I felt guilty Cashew didn’t get more of a chance to use her talents. It was 100 degrees and sunny outside so the fact of the matter was the dogs would spend the rest of the day inside lying on the cool floor in the a/c in the tiny house. Cashew was remarkably well behaved for the fact that she was a working dog and i gave her very few jobs. In these moments it registered to me exactly how smart she was and what a gem i had in her. Nobody who hasn’t had an aussie can possibly fathom the depths of their intelligence. She is so smart and so willing to take a job; any job. Cashew; the fly hunting dog. I feel lucky as can be to have the both of them.

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