Chloe, our farm dog, is narrating her take on her job at our dairy for this month’s column. (My apologies to Spencer Quinn, author of the “Chet and Bernie Mystery Series” where the dog in the crime-solving duo, Chet, narrates the stories and where I found this idea.)
    It is 4:15 a.m., and Mike and I are walking through the pasture to the farm on this fine spring morning. Smells are great. Do I sniff some cats, rodents, other critters in the long grass? I hope I find out later today. Maybe someone will fire up a mower or an air compressor to make the critters run. I love when that happens. I can race around the windbreak or lie with my nose stuffed in the culvert under the driveway where a critter might be hiding.
    But right now, it is my time to check the perimeter of the farm and stay on alert for predators. I usually have to bark for an hour or two while I do this. They can hear me all of the way in the parlor and the house.
    Mike is busy in the barn, raking stalls, cleaning alleys, feeding, moving cows. It’s pretty routine. He doesn’t need me to supervise, usually. Although I do like to once in a while run through the barn, nipping at the cows’ noses and lapping up something yummy from the feed alley.
    I smell something pungent this morning. Is it coyotes? Another small animal? Extra barking and checking is needed. A lot. OK, I’m done.
    Next, I walk proudly down the cow lane, stopping to greet the heifers in their pen and arrive to stand at the end of the parlor pit. My tail goes back and forth. I am smiling. I can’t help it. My other people who live at the farmhouse are there. When will they quit doing stuff to the cows and come over to rub me? Jean says hello to me, but she isn’t coming over. Oh, well. I can catch up with her in the calf barn later. Here comes Rolf. He gives me a nice rub and talks to me. OK, now I go out to lie in the grass with my belly hair blowing in the nice breeze. Ah, feels great.
    A long wait. Some more people I love came out to help, and they stopped to rub my belly. Mike and Rolf’s brother, Eric, is here many days because he is planting corn and soybean. He is one of my favorites. Will is another, because he always take time to rub my belly. My tail wags when I see them. I just love how there are more people here now. I can get many belly rubs in every day.
    Here’s Jean, finally. Oh, boy. I have to make sure the cats know I am in charge. They come to drink milk and eat their food while she is pouring up the milk for the calves. I run through and make sure no unsavory cats are there. If there is an imposter, I chase them away.
    Why does Jean say, “No Chloe, cats are our friends.”? Certainly, we don’t need any more of them around, do we? Geez.
    Now to the calf barn. I hope it’s a mouse day. I can smell them under empty feed sacks. I patiently wait until she moves them. Then I pounce and get a mouse in my mouth, tossing it up in the air. It’s not moving. I get praised and rubbed. I know we don’t want the mice in the feed, and I am so proud to be the best mouser on the farm. (Not hard, those cats are a tad lazy.)
    My tail circles round and round. I am so happy. The only time I get happier is when the hoof trimmer comes. That is the best. I don’t have to explain it, do I?
    I help with almost all of the calf feeding just in case a calf gets out and chasing is needed. I am good at this job and know exactly which way the calf should go. I listen well. If I am not doing the right thing, I will hear, “Chloe, mom says, ‘No.’” Then I know I did the wrong thing. Oops.
    This warm spring day I have smells to investigate in the meadow between the calf barn and the road. I should not go across the road, but sometimes I go incognito to the culvert that goes under the road. It is wet there now with critters and really great smells. They won’t notice that two-thirds of my body is soaking wet, will they?
    Now morning chores are done. Mike says, “Chloe, time for breakfast. Come on.” I am ready. Lois will have food and fresh water dished up for me along with a nice soft rug to lie on right outside of the door so I won’t miss my chance to go back to the farm for more fun.
    May we all take in and savor the sights, smells and tasks on these fine spring days with a dog’s sensibility for pleasure in the little things.
    Jean dairy farms with her husband, Rolf, and brother-in-law, Mike, and children Emily, Matthias and Leif. They farm near St. Peter, Minnesota, in Norseland, where she is still trying to fit in with the Norwegians and Swedes. They milk 200 cows and farm 650 acres. She can be reached at jeanannexstad@gmail.com.