Feed bags for Soay guardian dogs revisited

Loyal readers may recall an earlier time in my life as a Soay shepherd when I went through a frenzy of making feed bags for our four livestock guardian dogs and for Steve to hand out occasional treats to the ewes and lambs. Believe it or not, one of the bags already wore a hole through the bottom, probably because over the winter our tool shed, where we load the bags for our dogs’ twice-daily ration, becomes home to the occasional mouse. It appears one of them (the mice) decided it was more fun to gnaw through the bottom of Isaac’s feedbag than to go around to the front entrance and just walk in.

What with lambing preparation and lambing itself, we’ve had to make do with a piece of sisal rope to bind poor Isaac’s feedbag together for the last several weeks. I’m here to tell you that the resulting knob makes resting the feedbag upright impossible; it tips over all the time. Nothing like a graphic reminder of why the flat-bottomed feedbags work so well — as long as they haven’t been used as teething toys by the local rodent population.

Issac's feedbags - new and old

Isaac's feedbags - new and old

No sooner did I have Isaac re-outfitted than Steve started whining about how Shawn and I had commandeered Steve’s grain-feeding bag for our LGD puppy, Khloe, and wouldn’t I pretty-please make Khloe her own bag so Steve can continue currying favor with the ewes by hand-feeding them treats. Back to the sewing machine, rummage around for another old jeans leg, whip up a bag for Khloe.

But wait, Khloe’s our first female LGD, living here with four stinky older brothers (TJ, Chuy, Isaac, and Jacob). She is living proof that the playing field, although it still has a few potholes in it, for professional women is finally leveling out. Khloe is only eight months old, but within the last few weeks she has turned an important guardian dog corner in her maturity and is now on full duty every night in the pastures nearest the river where the coyotes like to hang out. Although she is still growing and has a voice somewhat less basso profundo than her brothers, she is already an important member of the security force here at Saltmarsh Ranch and she has taken her place in the line of succession as our older dogs eventually must retire from active duty.

What a dilemma. I didn’t want to do anything to suggest that Khloe is somehow an inferior guardian just because she’s a girl, nor did I want to raise Title IX issues by providing her with a lesser level of equipment, but still, it seemed she should be able to have a lady’s handbag without undue damage to her stature as a tough guy. As luck would have it, right then I stumbled over a box of sewing “notions” that I’ve never taken time to unpack since we moved out here from Chicago. There amidst the ziploc bags of mismatched buttons, partial cards of hem tape, unraveling spools of thread, and the usual assortment of stuff a would-be home seamstress collects “just in case” was my collection of laces and edgings and ric-rac saved from the dismantling of my great grandfather’s general store in Pomeroy, Iowa decades ago. One spool of lace in particular fairly cried out to be used on Khloe’s feedbag. Here’s one of the laces from the Williams General Store, probably approaching 100 years old, and Khloe’s Pravda knockoff:

Khloe's feedbag

Khloe's feedbag

Steve can barely hide his disdain for Khloe’s bag, and Shawn refuses to comment, but what do you expect? The collective “boys” have been sore ever since we got the vote, after all. I say it adds a sorely-needed touch of elegance to our pastures, especially now that it’s spring and everything is clean and fresh and green.

I will close this frivolous interlude with a couple of my favorite pictures of Khloe, first on the day she arrived last fall at the age of six weeks and needed to use Steve and Shawn’s legs to hide under,

Khloe at six weeks

Khloe at six weeks

and a couple of weeks ago when she was hanging out in the shade

Khloe at 8 months

Khloe at 8 months

while Steve read a book with Isaac, and occasionally Khloe, at his feet:

Isaac & Khloe keep Steve company

Isaac & Khloe keep Steve company

For now …

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  1. robson says:

    Well, isn’t *she* pretty? Love the bag. Hi to Isaac!