Rhythms and disruptions - English Shepherd puppies at Small Acre Farm, Fort Collins, CO

The rhythms of the farm are everywhere. Starting the day with the early morning scolding of the magpie , the squirt, squirt of the milk in the pail, even the demanding "baa" of the sheep when breakfast is late seems to be in time to some internal ovine musical score.  The work has a rhythm as well.  Feed the chickens and gather the egg, feed the sheep, milk and feed the goats, feed the dogs, clean the milking equipment, breath a sigh. 

And then there are disruptions to the rhythm.  In the spring the birth of goat kids disrupts the rhythm with their noisy entrance to the world, their need for round the clock feeding and their joyful existence that demands participation.  I can't not stop to watch a group of lambs "sproinging" across the pasture or pet the soft new fur of the goat kids as I deliver their breakfast bottles to their wiggly, pushy selves.  

This is summer we had a group that brought total, blissful chaos to the predictable rhythm of the farm.  On May 26 Tilly, our English Shepherd female had 13 puppies.  Helpless at first, then swimming on their bellies around the plastic pool we use, first to contain them then later to give their mother respite from them.  Now, it's not like they were a surprise.  This litter was much anticipated.  This was Tilly and Tuck's (our ES male) first litter together, the first Small Acre Farm litter that was bred on our farm. The two are such different dogs and yet both an excellent representation of their breed.  Tuck is thoughtful to Tilly's bold, goofy to her intention and when visitors come to the farm, Tilly goes to check them out while Tuck comes to check on me.  Yin and Yang, the perfect match.

Back to the chaos on May 26 when at 4:00 pm after MUCH waiting and a whole night of panting, getting up, laying down, shredding my yoga mat and laying in true ES style, belly up on the bed (not allowed), the first puppy made an entrance.  Clear sable boy, followed by tri girl with tail tip, clear sable girl with aviator goggles, two tris in quick succession.  Then I lost track.  Somewhere in there Tilly got fastidious about biting off the umbilical cords and we had a gusher.  Pressure to what was left of the cord and a quick trip to town for styptic and all was right again.  At 11:00 p.m. there were 11 and we thought she was done so we headed into the house for a much needed shower and bed.  At midnight our daughter reported that there were 12 and by morning we had a bakers dozen. 

Tilly settled into a life of nursing, licking and quick potty break so hike we stood around in disbelief and awe at the miracle of life.  The rest of the summer is a big blur filled with wiggles, big slurpy kisses and a wonderful succession of puppy visitors.  Thirteen is a lot of dogs to place and we are committed to the breed and making sure the fit is good for the job and the family.   So many have asked how we can possibly let them go.  I can honestly say that I am just as excited about having them for the first several weeks of their life as I am to see them go on to happy families and farms.  It is such a joy to share these wonderful dogs with others.  There are still a few puppies left from this wonderful litter.  If you are interested you can send me an e-mail at tedi@smallacrefarm.com.