Living on the Edge
by Rae Jean
Living in Hawk Holler neighborhood presents its own set of challenges. With only one house and two people living here so far, the main inhabitants are the four-legged, winged ones, and creepy crawly varieties. What to do when these creatures begin to multiply and take over the gardens, threaten the chickens and ducks, leaving little to eat from our hard work?
My answer was to call on the first domesticated animal for help. Yep. The dog. A dog owner for most of my life and experienced with several working breeds, I chose the English Shepherd, also known as the Farm Collie. This breed, familiar from the 1800’s to the 1940’s, began to disappear along with small farms during the industrial farming revolution. Still a rare breed, and one that fortunately is not AKC registered, it is being re-established by some extremely savvy small farmers.
Aggie the farm dog at Hawk Holler has in her heritage hundreds of years of service including hunting, vermin eradicating, herding, and guarding the flock. A few of her chores are: keeping the deer and others out of the garden, rounding up chickens and ducks when needed, and helping with vole, mouse and rat control. She keeps critters out of the chicken house, sniffs out hidden eggs and brings them to me (yes in her mouth, whole), and brings in firewood. And her favorite: watching over the baby chicks and ducklings. She’s one smart dog who took a few years of commitment to train, but is so worth the effort.
Rae Jean has always lived on the edge one way or another. For the last seven years it has been at Earthaven. Along with raising heritage chickens, ducks, veggies and herbs she designs and creates knitting patterns.