No, I havenít been having flashbacks from eating too much chocolate when I was
younger. The above title actually happened. You may not want to let young children
read this in case they start having mushroom nightmares. Then the sight of a
mushroom pizza, mushroom omelet, spaghetti sauce with mushrooms, etc. might
send them into hysteria.
The other day was a gorgeous fall day, sparkling sunlight, trees with vibrant autumn
colors, the kind of day that just made you glad you were outside. I turned the older
goat herd out of their night enclosure and they happily headed up the valley, their
livestock guard dog, Buck, marching along with them.
I turned and started back to the barn to do some chores. I heard a fierce growl and
stopped in my tracks and looked back at Buck. The large livestock guard dog was
standing on the bank of the creek that meandered up the valley. He was looking
intensely down into the creek, growling, and then would look at me as if to say,
"Better stick around. I may need back up."
The hair rose up on the back of my neck and I felt chill bumps run up and down my
arms. I cautiously started back to the dog, looking around for a stick or rock or
anything that might help me back the dog up if he had to get into a fight. I call my
livestock guard dogs my "lion-hearted dogs". They are bold and fear nothing, if they
think something is going to hurt their goats.
Buck was alone today. His sister was being kept in the buck pen close to the barn to
also help watch over some young replacement doe kids. So, right now it was just me
and Buck to defend the goats already on their way up the valley.
He kept looking back at me to make sure I was coming and then making little half
dives down the creek bank and quickly backing out, always keeping an eye on what
was down there. This worried me. Buck never backed away from anything. I looked
around and found a six inch long stick and bravely picked it up and cautiously, step
by careful step, walked up beside Buck and peeked over the creek bank to the water
below. My eyes focused. I blinked and focused again.
There bobbing in the water was a softball size puffball mushroom. I did a double take
and looked at Buck. Yep, that was what the dog was watching and swearing it would
eat us both up. He was so serious about this that I looked again. Maybe there was
something I was missing here and in a minute both the dog and I would be ate.
The puff ball mushroom continued bobbing gently in the water. I tossed my six-inch
stick at it and thunked it. It just bobbed some more and started floating down stream.
Buck watched it for a minute and acted satisfied that I had attacked it and it was
running away. It looked like he could trust me after all for a back up. He happily
turned and followed the goats.
These LGDs (livestock guard dogs) have been a fascinating study over the last two
years. Coyotes forced us into getting the two dogs, which are an Anatolian/Maremma
cross. Our goats were too terrified to go out and graze and for good reason, we were
surrounded by the Coyote Tabernacle Choir every afternoon and night. Since the
LGDs have been on the place the coyotes have backed off and donít bother to come
visiting the goat barns any more.
After the dogs had been on the place a while, I noticed Baby (Buckís sister) running
in big circle, loudly barking, looking up in the air. There circling up above was a
hawk. Her brother soon joined in running in circles and barking in his goat herd,
carefully watching the hawk. A couple of weeks later I heard a helicopter flying low
and basically buzzing the place. They were flying low over the area to make sure
none of us were growing any "weeds" that were illegal. All the farm animals high
tailed it to the barns, terrified of the helicopterís loud noise, except for the LGDs who
ignored the deafening roar of the copter and were giving chasing, barking, daring it to
land near their goats. The amazing dogs werenít fearful for themselves at all.
At 5:05 a.m. the other morning I went into the baby does pen, all of whom weighed at
least 85 lbs. and had just hit six months of age. It was dark and I was getting ready to
grain them. They happily ran ahead of me to their feeders, but suddenly a deer
appeared in the other field, right in their line of vision. It was like they all hollered
"Holy Moley" and turned tail and ran back to me. Only they forgot to stop. Whack,
crackle, pop went my right knee as the kids ran into it. I was barely able to hobble
that morning to finish the chores and then went back to the house to ice the knee a
while before I had to go back out again. The knee swelled up to more then double its
It wasnít too far along in the morning that it became time to go and turn the main
herd out to pasture with their LGD, Buck. I hobbled outside and inched myself along
to the main gates. What usually took ten minutes to reach the first gate took over a
half hour. I let the goats out and remembered that I still needed to go up a hill and
open another gate.
Buck had come up to me to get his morning petting and then had started out with the
goats. He suddenly stopped and headed back to me and went to my right side and
leaned. I dropped a hand down to his back and used him as a crutch to inch my way
up the hill to the gate.
He was so thrilled. His happy go lucky nature slowed down enough to let me lean on
him to hobble up the hill, while his tail was wagging a mile a minute, thumping me
solidly on the behind as we slowly made our way up the hill. He waited until I got the
gate open and then we started our slow trek down the hill. A couple of times he got
ahead of me and would stop and wait for me to catch up and for me to put my hand
on his back and lean to hobble on down the hill. Once he had helped me down the
hill, he gave me another be olí happy slobbery smile and charged out into the field to
catch up with his goats.
I found this a completely weird and amazing experience. It took four days for my
knee to go down and each day as I went limping out into the field Buck was there for
me to lean on and use as a crutch. Once I stopped limping he quit trying to help and
stayed with the goats.
When I told Lee about the attack of the floating mushroom and was laughing at the
LGD for being concerned about it, Lee wanted to know why the puff ball mushroom
was in the water. Theyíre not usually close to creeks. That stopped me cold. Now
that he mentioned it, the creek water hadnít been clear like it usually was, it was
muddied and stirred up. What had been down there in that murky water, something
that had been carrying a mushroom puff ball, staring up at me and the dog, waiting.