Kodi the Cowdog stories are a monthly series based on a book titled, “Letters from Kodi, The Little Cowdog With The Wiggly Butt”. The book is written by Brangus producer and IBBA member Phyllis Clem, through the eyes of Kodi, a miniature Australian Shepherd.
Whew, but it’s been hot lately. I know after four years that this is the way Texas summers are, but I for one am glad that it’s the middle of August. That means fall is on the horizon. These hot days make me want to stay indoors and stretch my little belly out on the cool tile floor, but since I’m a cowdog I have to work out in the heat some. Thankfully at this time of the year there’s not much to do cattle wise. My girls are smart enough to stay in the cool shade during the heat of the day, so we check them early and late. It won’t be long before the fall calvers will start having babies though and I hope the weather will cool some by then.
And this time of summer usually means brown grass since we usually don’t get much rain in July, but this year is different. A few weeks back we had over seven inches of rain in just a few days and boy did the grass respond. It’s green everywhere you look and ‘my girls’ are sure enjoying it. Since I speak their language I overheard some of them commenting how good the fresh green grass tastes, especially now that it’s not covered with dust. It’s sure nice to ride along in the mule too and not see a dust trail behind us everywhere we go. My folks have a stone plaque that has some words on it that says, “A good rain and a new calf are always welcome at this ranch”. I think everyone in the cattle business can agree with that.
I got to noticing something the other day and that’s how many different kinds of ears there are. Have you noticed that? When I was a little pup one of mine would pop up when I got excited and my folks jokingly called me ‘Radar’. But now both of them lay down correctly. Mr. P’s ears stay up all the time even when he’s sleeping. He says that’s so he’ll always know when I’m going to pounce on him. Sug’s ears are always upright too. I guess that’s cause horses are flight animals and always have to be aware of approaching danger so they can run away. Hers do seem to stand up straighter though when Mama whistles and she knows it’s time for her apple treat. ‘My girls’ ears are pretty big and floppy, but that’s because of the breed of cattle they are, Brangus. You may remember a while back I mentioned a twin calf we named Itsy cause she and her twin sister were so little. Her ears were so big compared to the rest of her body that I thought she could have flown if she’d gotten those things flopping just right. Of course her body finally caught up to the size of her ears. Mr. Donkeyinthenextfield has huge ears that I thought might be useful in early alien detection, but so far that hasn’t been the case. Now on the human side of things most ears look about the same to me. Some have things dangling from them called jewelry, but not all. And some even have phones attached to them. Those look kind of goofy if you ask me. Surely they take those things off now and then. Anyway I just wondered if you had noticed ears lately?
Ever had one of those mornings when you just didn’t want to put one paw in front of the other? That’s how I felt a few days ago and don’t know why. When I awoke I really didn’t want to go for my run, so I walked most of the way. I wasn’t hungry or thirsty either and when I left my breakfast in my dish my folks knew I didn’t feel good. And my nose was warm too, when it’s supposed to be cool. They decided I better go and get checked out by my doctor. Usually I only go once a year for a well check and to get by booster shots. By the time we got there I was feeling perky again, but got the ‘once over’ anyway. My heart and lungs sounded ok and I had no fever. By the way, the thermometer they use on us canines doesn’t get put under the tongue either, just so you know. That’s not my favorite part of the check-up. All in all my doctor said I was fine so the visit was for nothing except for some hugs and head rubbings – they all love me at the clinic. Since then I’ve been my usual frisky self so who knows why I had that sinking spell
I’ve decided that our ranch name might need to be changed from Clem Brangus to Clem Bird Haven. There seems to be an extra ordinary amount of different kinds of feathered critters living here. Course it may have something to do with all the free food, since the young bulls have a self feeder so they can eat when the urge hits them. And all those birds seem to enjoy the free buffet. There are big, gray doves – their tune never changes -, sparrows, starlings, Martins, scissor tails, blue birds, mocking birds, crazy red birds – they’re still fighting their reflections in our windows too, and who knows what else. Sometimes when my folks are sitting on the deck late in the afternoon they’ll start counting all the different kinds they spot. Mama wishes they wouldn’t land on the pipe fence though cause their poop kind of makes a mess of things. And the sparrows who live in the shed where the truck is parked kind of keep it messed up too. One bird I haven’t noticed this summer is the hummer. There’s a feeder hanging from the deck full of high octane sugar water, but so far no takers. Usually 3 or 4 buzz around, but for some reason they’re not here at this time. Maybe they decided to go elsewhere and avoid the hot Texas summer.
You know from previous letters how much my folks enjoy the game of golf. From the time I was just a little tyke I’ve ridden along in the cart to keep them protected from unruly squirrels. Even though I enjoy those golf outings, I’ve decided it’s a funny game. Now I love games, especially when I get to chase something, but hitting a little ball over and over for 4 hours just seems strange to me. They do the same thing every time and when the ball goes where they want it to they get all excited giving high fives and all. But let that little thing go astray and you’ve never seen such sad looks. Wonder why that is? Just one of the many things my mind ponders on from time to time.
Now that all the spring calves are a few months old their mamas are not so protective when I’m around. In the mornings when we’re out getting our exercise on the pasture road sometimes those young’uns are close by. When they see me they’ll start jumping, kicking, bawling and chasing me. Of course I respond by circling around and joining in the fun. That’s when I hear, “KODI, BACK OFF,” and I do, though not always immediately. Now since I’m a little cowdog those herding skills just come naturally to me, but my folks want me to use a little restraint when we’re not actually moving them somewhere. It sure would be fun though to give them all a good chasing cause they are the ones who started the whole thing after all.
Since my last letter we’ve been on a few outings. One was to Alabama to a cattle event. The man who bought possession in our bull, Texas Star, had a field day at his ranch and my folks went with me in tow of course. It was fun to go to someone else’s place and see how things are done there. It sure was green there too, cause they’ve had lots of rain this summer. ‘Tex’ was on display for all to see and he sure looked like he was living the good life in his new home. I always enjoy these cattle outings cause I get to see folks that I don’t see very often and they always give me hugs and head pats. I make sure I give them my best Texas greeting by licking their hands or faces or whatever is close. And I love it when there’s a little kid around who I can give a good head washing to. And if that kid wants to share a snack with me, well that’s ok too. That’s just the kind of friendly pup I am. I got to see my Arkansas friends, Vegas and Edward. It would have been fun to have gotten in some play time, but it was quite hot so none of us wanted to do much running. The day before the event we went out to the ranch so my folks could see ‘Tex’ and Mama and I took a walk down by a pond. I ran and played and then decided that the water looked real inviting so I jumped in and had a swim. Course you know what happened when I got out, yes, I had to RUN. I made circles and figure 8’s until my tongue was waggin and my little wiggly butt was draggin. I was definitely ready for the AC after that.
Not along after that trip we headed out to New Mexcio for a few days in the mountains near Ruidoso. Course my folks got in some golf while there. They say it’s sure a lot more fun to play when the temperature is not nearing the century mark and I agree with that. Even though I’m just a spectator, riding along on a hot Texas day isn’t as much fun as riding along on a cool day. We took time to do some hiking as well up near the ski area. That was fun cause I got to run off leash and you know how I like to run. And when a cold mountain stream crosses the trail, well a dip in that chilly water is just what my paws like. On the way home we stopped off to visit with a Brangus breeder at what used to be a big sheep ranch. The manager said that when they bought the place there were sheep everywhere and the herders had lots of little dogs like me to help with the furry critters. I would have loved to have seen my kind out doing what comes natural. He said that those little dogs weren’t quiet as groomed as I usually am but then I am, “The Princess Kodi” and have an image to maintain.
Well I hear my name called and that means it’s time for our afternoon check of things. That also means a treat cause I saw Daddy get the treat box out and put one in his pocket. I love to go for rides in the mule so he doesn’t have to give me a treat, but if that makes him feel good then who am I to deny his happiness.
So long and happy trails to ya. Try to stay cool and think FALL.
About the Author:
Phyllis and her husband, Garry, are long time (40 plus years) Brangus breeders who live in East Texas near Jacksonville. Their herd consists of donor and donor type females and they strive to produce the highest quality of cattle that they can. When they have free time they enjoy playing golf, watching professional bull riding, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
The book is available by contacting Phyllis at 903-726-3463 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost is $10 plus $2 for shipping and handling.