Farm Animals

On our farm, every day is an adventure, thanks to our delightful ensemble of ducks, chickens, and dogs. They remind us daily of the simple joys of farm life and the deep connections we share with all creatures, big and small.

Violet the Border Collie

When we purchased the farm in early 2020, we decided it would be important to have dogs with a purpose. We considered a Great Pyrenees or Bernese Mountain Dog. They are both known for being good farm or livestock guard dogs. With French and Swiss heritage, they were appealing as our permanent home at the time was on the French-Swiss border. However, in the end, we settled on a Border Collie. This breed is known for its intelligence, gentle nature and is also a good herder. We were not disappointed.

In the summer of 2020, we brought Violet, a mix of Border Collie and English Shepherd, into our home. She was adorably cute. And it did not take long for her to learn the boundaries of our property thanks to early morning and evening walks around the perimeter of our fenced two acres.

As she is a natural herder, we introduced Violet to herding the chickens out of the blueberry patch so that they wouldn’t eat the tender young leaves of the new plants. She loved this job but was a little too zealous, sending the girls fleeing to the safety of their coop. (It’s kind of funny to see chickens run.) We soon gave up on that career path and looked for another role more suitable.

The Chickens

On our farm, the free-range chickens enjoy the liberty of roaming every nook and cranny, basking in the sun and foraging at their leisure. However, this idyllic setting is occasionally interrupted by the shadows of predatory birds. Hawks, vultures, and the rare eagle often glide overhead, their keen eyes scouting for an opportunistic meal.

It was during one such moment that Craig, ever the innovator, decided to turn our dog Violet into the chickens’ airborne sentinel. With a vulture circling above, he took Violet out, looked skyward, and began imitating barking sounds, exclaiming, “bird, bird!” Violet, quick to learn, echoed his urgency, barking in tandem. Since that day, she’s been our vigilant guardian, chasing away any avian threats with fervor. Just the word “bird” sends her scanning the skies, ready to defend her feathered friends, while astutely distinguishing between predatory birds and harmless aircraft. This symbiotic relationship between Violet and the chickens is a testament to the unexpected, yet beautiful partnerships that farm life fosters.

Kitty Kitty the Barn Cat

Along with Violet, a stray calico cat decided to join us, whom we called Kitty Kitty (because the name BC, or Barn Cat, never really stuck). I can’t say that they became fast friends but there was a mutual respect or at least tolerance because they didn’t really have a choice. Hopefully, Kitty Kitty would be a mouser, keeping the farmyard clear of mice – a cat with a purpose. It’s been hit or miss on the mice catching job but she became an integral part of Russon Family Farms, nonetheless.

Kona the German Shepherd

A year after Violet came to the farm, we decided that she needed a companion. And that companion should be a guard dog – hence Kona the German Shepherd joined the squad. Her black and tan coat reminded us of a cute little coffee bean, and thus the reference to Kona coffee. She and Violet became immediate besties. They play together and keep an eye on what is happening on the farm. She has learned to leave the chickens alone. However, when Violet is busy racing across the farm, eyes on the skies, scaring away predatory birds, Kona thinks it’s a game of chase and runs up to her and bowls her over. We’re still working on that misconception. But Kona does have natural guard dog instincts and barks when a stranger comes to the farm. 

The goldfish

And then there are the goldfish – little guys with a purpose. The ferro-cement water tank that we built has a top with slats in it so that rain will enter to fill the tank. Mosquitos can also come in. Therefore, we purchased small goldfish to eat the mosquito larvae in the summer. However, when cold weather arrived, we hated to see the goldfish freeze. So we purchased a big fish tank and provided a pleasant winter home in the farm house for the fish until the weather warmed back up and they could get back to work.

The ducks

Our farm is a bustling hub of activity, home to chickens, dogs, and our ever-playful ducks. These ducks, often seen enjoying the mud, are a constant source of joy.

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