Jasmine, our urban farm dog.



As you have seen from other posts, we have a terrier, an Airedale, “The King of the Terriers” to be specific.  I was recently reading dog book from the 1960’s that described the breed as hardy, tough as nails, loyal, goofy, and intelligent.  In a separate part of the book, the part that helps you decide what type of dog is a good fit for your family, it said something like, “if you live on a farm, just get a terrier because they were bred to catch vermin.”

Jasmine hunting in the ivy. (The ivy barely survived the winter.)

Jasmine is our resident Verminator.  Even in her senior years she’s still quick on her feet and we regularly find dead shrews, chippies, moles and mice in our yard (she’s also been known to catch birds in flight and feral cats).  I must admit, we help her.  She has a specific bark that both The Goat and I recognize as “Need a little help here!”  Usually it requires us lifting the rock or a brick under which a rodent has taken refuge.  And only once, when she has required our assistance, has she not caught the prey after we lifted the rock/brick.

It took me a while to get used to this job, as it can be disconcerting.  The first time it happened, I was yelling at her to stop barking, walked over to where she was frantically barking and digging and I said, “There’s nothing there!” very angrily, as I lifted the brick.  Much to my surprise, a very large chipmunk jumped out and Jasmine caught and killed it before I could blink.   That’s when I learned what the “Need a little help here!” bark sounds like.  (You can also tell how close she is to catching a small critter by the wag and position of her tail, this is especially helpful in winter when she’s hunting in the snow.)

Recently, Jasmine climbed over, and broke,  one of our compost bins while trying to get into the cole /cold weather crop garden.  She was chasing a chipmunk!  Now all my radishes and spinach have been trounced and trodden on.  The brussel sprouts, onions and cabbage seem to have survived the whirlwind of terrier limbs and tail.  I had already harvested some of the spinach, but was waiting on the radishes. I’m not sure I’ll be able to salvage many of the radishes, but we’ll see, as they are root crop, they may have survived.

My point is, each of us, when we plan our garden and start out each season, we guess what our challenges are going to be that season.  Each of us has a different yard, circumstances, micro-climates, and yes, even critters.  But for some reason, that doesn’t stop many of us from gardening.  Some of my biggest gardening failures have “Airedale Apocalypse” written all over them.  Some of them don’t.  Either way, the largest critter in my yard is an aging Airedale, which means I expect a lot of plant trouncing and hole digging.  I also expect NOT to have a rodent problem – unlike some of my friends who can’t keep the rabbits away.

This year I’m trying a few new to me crops, popcorn, Hubbard squash, storage tomatoes.  But I already feel like I’m fighting a cool damp summer, an overactive Airedale and an overly tired me.  I’ve been taking photos of my yard regularly, because I love the lush green of my yard.  But I already feel like it will grow out of control before July – and we only have a small city lot!  I really need to step up my urban gardening game.  But until then, I’ll let Jasmine do her job in the garden, while I try and keep up with mine.