Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 9-5-11 |

Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles 9-5-11

We haven’t had a dog for two years. It seems odd, almost un-American to not have a dog around a farmstead. But it is quieter at night. As a direct result of being dog-less we have more feral animals in the yard at all hours. The deer that roamed around when we had a dog and which caused him to bark so much, now have free rein to enter. There are generally three of them and in summer they behave. With winter coming we will need to carefully wrap out young trees or we’ll lose the bark to the deer.

For two days we had a striped ground squirrel which kept hiding in the lowest part of the downspout. That really got the 2-year-old interested in the animal’s “house.” But he went away and hasn’t come back.

The children’s favorite toys this summer have been toads – tiny ones, just right to hold in the hand and carry around as the kids go about their play. Toads have ridden in toy truck boxes just high enough that they couldn’t jump out. They’ve been hitchhikers on bicycles and toy riding cars. Once in a while the toads don’t survive the day as in one morning when the 2-year-old got excited about something and squeezed his hand too hard. He just dropped the dead toad on the shop floor, wiped his hands on his jeans and went on. Such is the life of a boy being a boy.

In early summer several toads lived on the edge of my flower bed, apparently moving out after the kids discovered their hidey hole. Traditionally they have summered in one of our window wells and they returned to that spot where the kids found them again. This time the toads seemed more tolerant as they didn’t move again.

The large toads are not nearly the fascination as the babies. For one thing they are ugly, their eyes bulge menacingly (to a small kid) and when they jump, it’s a lot further than the tiny toads, so they are not nearly as fun to chase. They are experts at getting away. What’s the fun in trying to catch something when you already know you are beat before you start?

I always bring my clothes in from the clothesline before we go to bed as we have skunks at night. Their odiferous residue lingers for hours after they walk by our open window and I surely don’t want to have to try and de-skunk “clean” clothes. Not having a dog also contains the skunk’s need for firing defensive weapons near the buildings, a fact we have remarked about over the past two years.

I haven’t given up the desire for a full blood standard Collie though, the type of dog we’ve had for most of my life. I just love them. They don’t seem to bark incessantly like Border Collies do and they are good with kids … and it seems to me every kid should have a dog, no matter the age of the kid.

Peggy writes from the family ranch in southwestern South Dakota. Her contact information is

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