Thursday, December 30, 2010

The other day I went to a place that I go once a week for lunch (I am friends with the waitress there) and just as I started to eat, my sister and her son showed up and we ate lunch together, that was really nice.

Yesterday after work, I went to the farm and stopped at my parents afterward (ostensibly, to eat more Norwegian cookies!) and I ended up getting Chinese food for my nephew and I to eat. I had a hankering for Chinese food... It was pretty good, albeit it EXPENSIVE.

The dogs are good. Danny and Lucy LOVE the snow, and today, I will take a walk around the pasture with them; I think it has melted enough for that... I need to get back to exercising. The dogs will have to get back to working too.

I am going to run Lucy and Danny in a trial this weekend. I have to get out of the house, I am just so bored! Should be fun, hopefully not too cold.

Well, that's it for now!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Lucy loves the snow!

This illustrates the amount of snow we got....

Here are the girls appearing from the barn

Here is every one waiting patiently for me to let them out....

The straggler lamb. Just after I took this pic, I with help of Lucy cornered her and carried her out the open fence...

Christmas eve and Christmas day were very nice. Excellent food, and a nice relaxing time. Church started later on Christmas eve than would have been nice, so I was out late, as we opened presents when we got home from Church.

We had a big storm last night into today. The wind was the worst, for me anyway. It was so windy, I didn't shovel any snow last night. This morning I was greeted by an approximately 3 foot snow drift at the sliding glass door on the deck, so the dogs had to go out the laundry room door.

I had put the sheep up in the corral by the barn yesterday (it was SO cold, that it was pretty uncomfortable working outside). I filled their buckets of water, threw in a couple bales of hay, and put a tarp across the top half of the door way. I wondered if the sheep would actually stay in the barn.

Oh, and yesterday, I treated everyone for Lice. Yes, Lice. One lamb has them, which means they all will, or if not, they all got treated. If I didn't have Lucy to help me (or Danny) I could never have gotten it done. One more treatment in two weeks, and then again at shearing. Gross. Disgusting. Will have to let the guy where I got my lambs from know....

So, when I got to the farm today after work, I was greeted with HUGE snow drifts. Half way up my thigh behind the barn. I had to clear out the gate area of the pasture. Once that was done, I went and checked on the sheep, and lo and behold they were in the barn. In fact, by the lack of tracks, they were in it all night. I cleared out the fence opening and got everyone out. All but one dumb lamb, who could not figure it out. After much work by Lucy and I, I finally had Lucy corner her and I picked her butt up, and then she ran to be with the rest of the flock that had already made tracks (literally) to the home pasture.

So, now I am caught up with everything and the rest of the day is spent doing domestic stuff. My how times have changed. The time I spent wondering when I could work my dogs is now spent on normal life :) Normal life IS working the dogs, at home, or close to home anyway :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A beautiful Christmas card!
Christmas is almost here.... I have a few more gifts to buy today, and then I am set! I have been staying pretty active lately, and thankfully, that has translated into losing just a tiny bit of weight. I need to lose like twenty more pounds, but I will get there.

Worked Danny yesterday, and he was great, but my Border Leicester sheep are not long for this world if they keep running around me. I may just bring Lucy in when I work Danny and keep her on a line to teach them a lesson or two about what NOT to do. I SHOULD have bred them this year, and then, once they lambed, moved them on. To tell you the truth, I may just do that anyway. Keep just the Cheviots, and find some new, heavier sheep for spring....

Danny did something so wonderful yesterday, even though it was really no big deal. I was bringing a bale of hay up to the pasture, and it was a slippery steep hill. Danny ran head, and I worried about him fetching the sheep, because I would definitely go flying/sliding down the hill.

Well, when I crested the hill, there was Danny. Sitting watching over the flock. Waiting for me. So calm, but focused. It was sort of breath taking. He then, on my direction, moved the sheep away, and held them on the fence. He didn't bust in, or mis-behave in any way. He just held them, with one paw in the air. Waiting for me. Once I had put out all the flakes, I said "that'll do" and Danny turned, gleefully, and ran to me, and we headed down the hill. He's one wonderful dog.

When we got home last night, I decided to bathe him. He was a bit stinky, and what a good boy. He stood in there and wagged his tail. Is there a sweeter boy? I don't think so.

Lucy is doing well too. I haven't been working her, but she's been hiking with Danny and I, and wrestling a lot with Danny. I may work her today.. Need to get back in the swing. I will use her to shed off those BL ewes so Danny can work just the Cheviot lambs. Oh, the lambs have definitely gained as of late- nice round bellies, just like I want them.

I am looking forward to Christmas eve and day food.....

Well, that's it for now!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter is not officially here until December 21. It would appear, however, that mother nature is not really interested calendars... So, we have moved on to winter mode.

This is my first winter with sheep, and all it entails. The sheep are doing well, and I have taken to bring their hay up in the field and have them eat up there. It keeps the area near the manger cleaner, insures that they actually get some exercise, and it keeps them cleaner. It is dangerous as all get out for me though, because it's a steep hill. I have been looking for a plastic toboggan, but I haven't found one yet (oh, the toboggan is for the hay, and maybe me sledding down the hills when done :).

The pictures you see are of my Danny boy watching his sheep, and of course, the sheep eating their daily ration of hay. The lambs have all, it appears, gained since I started doing this, so the added benefit is less competition and more food for the lambs.

Today was a nice day. I was really tired, as yesterday I ran around a lot, got good work with Danny in. Danny did some cool stuff. Then, I stopped at John's farm and we chatted a bit, it's basically our weekly pasture-side chats, and I really enjoy them. Going to make him a Cherry pie this week. After I left John's, I noticed it was later than I thought, and I ate dinner at normal time, and got into bed early.

This morning I was really beat when I woke up and let the dogs out, so I got back in bed. And stayed there for about another hour and half. I decided to make some pancakes (mmmm), and had some good coffee. Then, I headed up to the farm to work the dogs and feed the sheep. Chatted with my brother a bit, and then home. This afternoon has consisted of watching football and eating an early supper.

I am getting a delivery of hay either tomorrow or Tues, so that will get me in good shape for most of the rest of the winter. GOOD. BOY is hay expensive. Next year, I will have to go cheaper. Just have to. Oh, got a call today to put a bid in to the sheepdog demos at the Dutchess County fair. We shall see. If I don't get it, I will certainly survive!!!!!!!!

I am so happy that the days will get longer starting in a couple days. Thank the Lord.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you are all having very nice weekend!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I think I am doing all right

I think I mentioned that I was stressed, and anxious... Well, it's about gone. What did I do? Just let my concerns go, and slept later. Yes, slept later, even though I wanted to jump out of bed. This has helped me so much.

For instance, this morning, I awoke, saw it was 5:00, and just rolled over. Then, I got up about 6:00. I was calm in my morning chores, and just not worried about anything. That's how I need to try to stay.

I cleaned the house yesterday, which always puts me in a better state. A cleaner house, for me, is a happier house.

My sheep seem to be faring well, even with the cold weather. They love their hay, and I think for livestock, life revolves around hay. When they grab their hay (especially the lambs) and look at me, they must be wondering "How the heck did she do that?" LOL!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So, it's mid week, and every day this week something extra was scheduled in. So, now the rest of the week, I hope it's a bit quieter. Once it warms up a bit, I plan to work Danny a bit. It's been way too cold for me to be out there. Amazing, that. I used to work in a heck of a lot colder weather, but I think my missionary fervor has worn out....

I checked out all the sheep today- their body scores. Fat. They are fat. The lambs, it's hard to tell, because the nap of their fleece is so thick, whereas the Border Leicester ewes are long wooled, so I can get my fingers in there.

I gave them some grain today, but I don't think they really need it. So far, it would appear that sheep are pretty darn hardy, or at least mine are.

I need to get more hay delivered soon, as my hay guy is heading south for a bit in January. Lord, will it be nice to have warm weather back.

All the animals at home are fine; Danny and Lucy play a LOT together. That's a very good thing. Lucy seems very relaxed and happy lately.

I think I may have my sister do my Christmas shopping- I kid you not. She loves to do it, and this year, well, I could just skip it all. I just don't feel in the mood for Christmas. As in, I would like to just hop on a cruise for the day...

Well, that's it for now.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

End of an Era

You know, as life goes on, things change. It's inevitable. Comfortable things fade into the past, and new, and at first, scary things appear on the horizon. Change isn't my favorite thing, and it takes me a long time to accept it, but once I do, I am as they say "cool with it".

When I started herding with Lucy when she was just a pup, it was just amazing. I took to this activity like a fish to water. I would spend time chatting with others on discussion groups. I would think about the next time I could work my dog.

Lucy and I learned a lot, and one person comes to mind as a mentor who really stood out. I learned so much from them. I would go, work dogs, watch them work dogs, and generally I learned more than I ever thought I could.

As time wore on, I spent less time with my original mentor and branched out a bit. I went to clinics, and lessons and worked alone a lot more.

Soon the drives to lessons were becoming onerous. The whole day was shot. And, maybe I got a little bit less fun out of the sheep working time. I started to become a bit of a drain in my mentors. The term "wear out your welcome" came to my mind a lot. Nothing was said, but over time, it became clear, that I needed to grow my own gig. It had been several years, and now, I needed to go to the next level.

I had had sheep on rented property for just a few weeks when Lucy was not quite two, but the sheep were terrible, and the rent was too high, so I sold them.

I then acquired Danny. Danny, my first Border Collie. Boy, that was an eye opener. I thought a Border Collie would be so easy, compared to Lucy.. Wrong. Danny was extremely hard to start, and had a lot of tension. Still, I made the drive to work him and my mentors really really helped me a lot. But, the nagging feeling of being a pain in the butt to my mentors, really hung on.

So, knowing that I could not afford my own property (and I did not want to buy anything, being that my house is not far from being paid for), I brought up the notion of keeping sheep at my brother's place. To my surprise, he was all for it.

Still though, I had to make the big step of buying the fencing. That was NOT cheap. One day, I saw the fence I wanted on sale at Tractor Supply. That was the sign I needed.

And, so began the next chapter in my life. I got some nice Border Leicester ewes, and later this year added some Border Cheviot ewe lambs.

Life has pretty much been all about the sheep now. Not so much the dog training. I probably shouldn't put it like that, for I have worked my dogs, and Danny has come so far, it's pretty amazing. But, now that I have my own deal, there is no longer the concern about IF I can work my dogs, but rather, when I would like to. I no longer feel like I am pushing myself on others, and I am so much more relaxed working my dogs, because I have lots more time in the day to work dogs AND do other things.

It was time. Some people never really grow out of that neediness. They remain helpless, and never really progress to autonomy, and if you know me at all, you know that is my middle name.

Really good things are happening, and I have a plan for breeding my sheep, and producing some nice mule lines next fall. I have learned hard lessons, about hay for one (it is REALLY expensive, and my sheep don't eat the cheap stuff). And, I want to find someone to feed my sheep in the mornings, as I hate making them wait until afternoons, but other than that, it's all good.

Now, I can be of service to others. My mentors- maybe they can buy some sheep from me at a reduced rate, or maybe I can have them over to give lessons. I am definitely going to return the favor, as that is what life is all about.

There is no way on earth I can thank my mentors enough for what they have done. I will always be grateful.

So, one chapter has closed and another opened. It's good. It's ALL good.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sons of Norway dinner was great! Roast Pork, mashed potatoes and green beans, all followed by a Viennese table. MMMM. What was cool, was I felt right at home. Lots of men wearing some beautiful woolen Norwegian sweaters, and some women in traditional Norwegian Christmas dresses. You can see in the picture, what I am talking about :) The best part though, was meeting a woman who is the President of a Spinner's group, who said she, and the club members wanted my Border Leicester fleece in the spring. Would pay me whatever I wanted. Basically, as long as the shearer gets paid, that's all I would request.

Sheep continue to do well.

This is one of the lambs. They have all gained nicely. Body scores tell me that the ewes are the fattest they have been since I have had them, so this hay is settling nice with them. Unfortunately, some first cutting hay got into the delivery, and they will not eat it. I am surprised how picky they are.

Today, it was fore casted to be horrible. Downpours, and though not really cold, it was certainly horrible this morning. I went to the farm, and found a couple ewes comfy, under the trees, but the lambs and some other ewes out in the rain. I made the decision to bring everyone in.

Of course I had to re-work some of the panels, and then get some stuff set up (pails of water, hay, and grain to lead them in with). They readily followed me into their corral, and then into the barn. I then went through my hay, and found some bales had gotten/been wet and were ruined. At what I pay for hay, this is hugely bad. So, I moved the hay to drier ground and learned my freaking lesson.

I think the sheep were not happy, not being able to go to their field, but I think that when the wind picks up with the freezing rain tonight, they will appreciate being out of the weather.

It was funny, if I walked out of the barn, so did they, no matter where I went, they went too. #21, my favorite likes to stick next to me, I like her a lot.

I hope they are okay tonight. I didn't have a hay manger for the hay, so I put it on the floor, they will have a bit of bedding that way, and by tomorrow when I get there, the bad weather will have passed, and they will go back in the home field.

I was so tired today I sort of collapsed at around 2:00. I have since gotten up, cooked a meal, and am just sort of vegging. I will feed dogs soon, and then back in bed. I have needed rest like this forever.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I have been sort of out of sorts lately (how's that for word play?!). I have been very anxious, and I don't know why. It may be knowing there are Coyotes traipsing just outside my field (found evidence, or should I say, the dogs did). Could be just not having time to get things like cleaning done, or the like.... Whatever it is, I awake in the morning anxious, and feeling like I have to get running right away. It's tiring.

The fence got knocked down by a HUGE dead tree the other day- I found this the same day as I did the Coyote scat along the lane outside my field. My brother cut up the tree, and I fixed the fence. Sheep are nervous, but that may be due to us having had a lesson last weekend (my sheep freak at strange dogs, it would appear). I think that is probably a good thing, wrt Coyotes...

I moved the last panel over to the barnyard corral I made, and now, I can use that corral for when the really cruddy weather hits. And I know it will. It has been very cold lately (5 degrees yesterday morning). This weekend it will warm up, but then back to highs in the 20s.

I haven't worked the dogs at all, because of the cold, and being a bit tired. A break is a good thing.

Tonight I am going to a Sons of Norway dinner, Pork roast is on the menu, so that ought to be good. I hope...

I have to go pick up a book I have saved for me at Barnes and Noble today, after work, and then work on some needed stuff at the farm, and then home, and maybe clean, before we head out for dinner. Tomorrow is going to be a chill day for me. It simply has to.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Pics from Fun Trial

Here are some pics that Diane Thompson took of Danny at the fun trial last weekend. I can't get over how mature he looks.






Monday, December 6, 2010

Good weekend :) Bad Monday (again). I have no heat again. Isn't that special? No, no it isn't. I think we know what the problem is, but suffice to say, from now on, in the winter, I will either buy straight Kerosene to heat the house, or something they call winter blend. This is NOT for the birds (as in my poor birds cannot handle temps this cold).

Okay, onto better things. Saturday I worked, and later in the day, I had another lesson with a friend's BC. Things were a bit crazier, but, the dog is very soft, so it was sort of a mixed result session. The owner is very keen on keeping up with this, so I think what I really need to do is get more sheep, and a smaller pen to work sheep in. As my sheep get jiggered and then take off down the hill to the gate, and it becomes a real morass to get them sorted again.

I had to separate off the lambs for this lesson and got all but one out. The third lamb I picked up as it would not come away from the ewes. When I picked her up, I was pleasantly surprised at her heft. I guess the hay is just the ticket for these girls.

Sunday was the fun trial. I decided to run Danny twice. The first run was Lucy's spot in pro-novice. High headed sheep, probably helped to that state by Danny's lift. I sent him left, saw he was tight, stopped him, and gave him a re-direct. It was pretty good at the top. But, tight enough that the sheep were looking to escape the entire run. That is never good.... So, we made half hearted attempts at the post and panels, and then we just went to the pen. Danny did great at the pen. Sheep were several yards away and we were able to just get them in, so we ended on a good note!

The second run was novice novice, and I sent Danny right. Well, he was a bit tight and when he got up there he boomed the sheep (too close at fast). But, then after they exploded, he just hung back and was like... what did I do? I better stay back, and let them get together. Since I am an idiot I ignored lines on the fetch, and then we did a nice turn at the post, and then I wore the sheep- I should have driven, but things were going well... And, the sheep were sticking to me (unlike the other group I had earlier). I had the sheep following/pushing on me (even though Danny was far off), so I hit the ground to slow them, and got to the pen, and Danny got them in.

It was a much better run. Danny was very happy with himself afterward, and so I was I.

Score not so great due to tight outrun/lift and off line at fetch, but other than that great :)

Since I double baled the sheep on Saturday, as I didn't make it there Sunday, I was worried about them this morning, so I got up extra early, and have already fed them their hay today. Let's hope the heat gets fixed soon....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wow. What a night.... Sick as a dog. All night. Isn't that nice? I swear, I have done something to irritate the sleep Gods. I am getting up later in order to make up for lost middle of the night sleep.

When I got to the farm yesterday, the sheep were up in the field somewhere, no doubt under a cedar tree keeping out of the rain. I didn't bring a dog with me, because I just didn't want them covered in that mud. I took a good look at everyone, and it does appear that at least one ewe lamb is really packing it on. The littlest one I have dubbed "Tinkerbell" is still small, but not too small. I suspect she will always fall in at the low end of the measuring stick. What is good, is that this hay is clearly feeding my sheep well.

I have to make up some sort of wall hay feeder for my sheep. Something they can eat out of in the room that will be their winter quarters..... I think I will just go and get some wood at home depot, and start tinkering.

Dogs are good. Oh, and Ginger, my old kitty? She hasn't puked in several days (I am sure I just jinxed it). Boy do I really love my kitties. Both of them. So nice and calm, compared to my dogs....

This weekend (Sunday) is the fun trial.... I will be sure to stop and redirect him should he decide to be tight at the top.... Lucy is entered too...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The missing Michigan boys

I know it's probably too late, but please say a prayer for these boys. I don't believe I could take it, if they were killed....

A bit behind the eight ball today- tired. Been waking up at about 3 something in the morning lately. Weird. Well, so it goes. I figure one of these nights I will crash hard....

Monday morning I took Danny up for another lesson with our trainer. I decided not to bring Lucy, because she would be just too cold to sleep in the car. Danny has a nice long coat, so I didn't worry so much for him... But, before I left for the trip, I saw that my furnace was not working... Great. Not a good time for this. I called it in, and also called my oil supplier who told me that they did NOT put additive in (to prevent the diesel from freezing). I told them they needed to do that. Jeez. Why should I have to request this?

Anyway, it was frozen lines and they were blown out later in the day.

The lessons went very well. Well, not at first. We worked in the big field and Danny was again too tight at the top. It's an oddity, but by the end of the first lesson he was back to being a good dog. These sheep are extremely heavy, and I wondered how he would handle lifting them. They are not easy to move off people. Well, Danny had absolutely no problem. He's got a lot of come forward, I have been told, and I see it now. He's so much more confident.

The second day/lesson, we did a few more outruns, and I was able to instill a good stop and then re-direct out- calmly for me- so after I stopped him, I was calm in my re-direct and Danny flowed out nicely, instead of bursting out. Lots of little stuff to remember for me, but that is a biggy. I hope his outruns get better, I really do... He may never be a great top of the outrunner, but what can I say- I am working on it!

Then we worked on driving with more driveable sheep. Well, wow. He was such a good boy. I was told we pretty much have it! All that flank work puts us in good stead for this stuff.

Then, I asked if we could do a pen. We have never penned. Danny did pretty good. He was a bit worried by the sheep getting away, and me being a bit nervous, but he did very well, and again, those good flanks put us in a good place.

I left early, because I wanted to go home to sleep (didn't sleep much the night before) and also to feed my sheep. I gotta find someone to hay them for me in the mornings. It's stressing me out too much to think they might be hungry.

Got home, had a sandwich and read my book. Now, it's back to normal :) Danny was such a good boy to work.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tucker comes back... in my dreams

Last night I had a dream that Tucker, who I had put down early this year, did not die. That's what I said.. I guess I had left him to be put down, and he would not die, so they kept him at the clinic, until they had the courage to tell me. Magically, when I went to retrieve my boy, he was healed. His giant melon sized lump under his throat was gone and he looked pretty spry. I learned later that they tried like three times, but he just wouldn't die. I so regret putting Tucker down. I feel it was too soon. I am just torn up about it, and now, it appears it's really settling into my sub-conscious. I wonder would adopting another Boxer help? An older boy? I don't know. If you have never had a Boxer you would not understand just how special they are. They look in your eyes and understand you. So protective, but never looking for a fight. Tucker was beyond special to me. I wish that dream were true.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! Today the temperatures have gone down a bit from the past few days. Not really cold, but chilly. I work today, as I have done for the past three decades. That's okay. We eat out Thanksgiving fest at the normal dinner time.

Today, after work I am going to head up to the farm, do the usual, and I think I have figured out a solution to the last piece of the puzzle known as the sheep corral...

The sheep are good, and I have to think about the next delivery of hay...I think it will have to be MUCH cheaper, because I simply cannot afford what I spent this time. They eat too much of it! I am also thinking of getting some large square bales, and using the panels you can get from Premier, to save me having to keep feeding each day.

They won't be put in that corral until the weather really takes a bad turn for the worse, as I know they would rather be in their field.

I do have a lot to be thankful for this year. I suppose the thing I am most thankful for, is that I have my family with me, and that I made some good changes in my life. My sister reminded me of all that I have done and we talked about how it's more important to try for something you want, and perhaps fail, then not to try at all.

On a less insightful note, I cannot wait for the meal today :) I will eat light, and then tonight, no holds barred!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I stressed about my sheep until I finally got there yesterday, and guess what? There was hay still in the manger... Not a lot, but I suppose they were not dying of starvation ;)

I brought them to the other pasture, and for the first time, the lambs lolly gagged- grabbing some grass on the way. Was pretty funny when they realized that the ewes were gone and ran to catch up ;)

I worked Danny on them, and he did the neatest thing. My sheep are pretty fetchy, and when we work on driving, they will sometimes very toward me. I had to give Danny "here" commands, and flank him in, to cover this, and keep them going straight. Well, yesterday, Danny, on his own, kept that side covered. And, he did this on the other side of the "box" too. He stayed back and to the inside... WOW. That is very cool Danny!

When we were finished working, I ran Danny and Lucy up in the field, and then, with Danny's help, I put the sheep back. Then, I got them their hay. I used Danny to keep them away, until I was done doing what I needed to do.

You should have seen them eating that hay. The only thing I can liken it to, is watching someone who is *really* hungry, eating their favorite potato chips. Just crunch crunch crunch, grab more and so on... I watched them for a bit, reveled in the beautiful weather, and then headed home.

I think the good weather is supposed to hold for a few more days, so today, I am finishing the corral (just need a few more rocks/cement blocks) and then wire the panels together, and then done. If we get really bad weather, they will be put in there.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sunday. Went by fast.... Got up and had a bit of breakfast, and good coffee and then headed up to the farm. I really wanted to finish the corral. I spent several hours there, and well, I did not finish. See, I have to make rock walls to surround parts of it and that is very hard, time consuming and just not fun...

When I got home I picked up something from the Deli and just watched foot ball. Oh, I did work Danny at some point, but don't remember when.... Must be work induced amnesia... ;)

The sheep no longer want to stay in the steer pasture; I think they have eaten everything up in there, so I guess I will just work them in there, and put them back when done, instead of allowing them to graze. I did not give them another bale of hay yesterday, just to see if they would clean up what was left from the previous day, but I feel sort of guilty about that, so today, I will go there a bit earlier and give them their hay... Will put some flakes in other locations for the lambs, who never seem to want to eat at the manger with the ewes. Weight seems good on everyone.

Now that the corral is just about done, I will not worry when the really bad weather hits. I will have a nice dry place for the sheep to go to. That's a HUGE worry off my shoulders. Still about three hours of work until it's the way I want it, but we are just about there.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm on a roll ;)

Yesterday, I finished the leaves. God help me, I did it. Toward the end, I was muttering to myself "I HATE leaves, I HATE them so much". I didn't realize there was such a huge amount to be done. Big enough that I had to use a combination of the blower/rake/tarp. I could not just blow them....

When I got inside, I thought back to the phrase "a little work never hurt anyone" and I thought, "yeah, but a lot of work could kill you!". I was so freaking tired. I left dirty dishes in the sink, got some mint chocolate chip ice cream and vegged.

I watched a bit of TV, but fell asleep before Pit bulls and Parolees was on and then woke up at 3:30, and stayed awake for hours. Why I can't sleep, I don't know, but I do know that my eyes are looking decidedly puffy/blood shot and I look old and haggard.

Am having coffee now, and in just a bit, will head up to the farm and build the rest of the stone walls to raise the panels, and then, will attach the panels, and then, save for a gate, I will be done! I could have slapped it together yesterday, but I decided I wanted it to look good, and to last. Once this is done, I feel like I can take a wee break. I will be keeping the sheep in that corral during deep snow times and also, perhaps when I seed the home pasture. I may even seed the steer pasture, depending on whether or not I can get affordable seed.

Oh, in addition to the clothes I got at Macy's the other day- three nice mock turtle necks, my order from LL Bean came in. I now have decent tops to wear every day of the week! Imagine that!!!

Am doing one more lesson with Danny in a few weeks. Am looking forward to that. We need to work in a big field, so I can see if his outrun really is good, and also see how he lifts sheep and maybe start to learn how to shed. If the weather decides to take a turn for the worse, well, no go, but here's hoping!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

SHOCK! another post!!

Well, Saturdays usually mean over-achieving day for me. I am wiped, but still have to do my leaves in front. Anyway, I worked today, and then market. Then I headed up to the farm to work on the corral for the sheep. What a pain. No where near enough t-posts in, and since I have to put my T-posts on the outside and lower than a raised rock area (as there is no way to get posts in ON that area) I will now have to use lots of rock to raise the panels, because they are too short- those Cheviots would pop over them without blinking an eye. So, I have to move lots of rocks to raise the panels. That will be at least 6 hours for me to finish the corral.

I took a break from the corral work, and my sheep looked like they wanted back into their home pasture. I then worked Danny on them. He's doing good, except for sometimes taking way too big flanks at hand. His outrun- what can I say, it's there.

We did lots of driving and then I put the sheep back, threw them a bale of hay, and we headed out, because my brother and friends were going to do more target practice. Do not need my dogs hearing that so close.

I had to stop anyway, as I started getting a massive headache, and am beat - oh, before I even went to the farm, I vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom, and did laundry.

I just finished eating and now after a few minutes will get out there and finish the leaves. Joy.

Tomorrow, I plan to finish that corral!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Not much special this week. Looking forward to Thanksgiving next week, and the great great food...

So, this week, I worked Danny on some serious real work, as I tried to get my flock in the barn... He did so well. Danny needs just real work and I think he will be about set. Oh, we need to teach him shedding! He's getting his left whistle, and now time to introduce the right.

The sheep are well. Been letting them graze every day in the other pasture, and they are eating their Timothy hay well. I got them some mixed grass hay, and they appear to have wasted a lot of it. I hate wastage! The lambs seem to be gaining weight, and I am not graining anyone.

My brother graded the area I am fencing in outside the barn for the sheep, and yesterday we got the combo panels I will use as fencing. Finally, I will have protection from the weather, and coyotes, if necessary. This is a huge weight off my shoulders. The weather has been great lately, a real God send- warm enough that grass is still growing and I don't need a jacket on to work the dogs.

I bought some new clothes, and it feels so good not to look like a hobo- all my clothes were thread bare, and OLD.

I am missing Tucker a lot lately. Some day I will have another Boxer. No dog ever looked in my eyes as much as Tucker. He was beyond special to me.

Well, that's it for now. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lucy in action

Yesterday on the way home from the farm, I had toyed with the idea of stopping at John's place (where I got the Cheviot lambs) but decided not to- I had leaves to do. But, as I drove by, I saw that one of his ewes had escaped the field and was grazing on a neighbor's front yard. She had to cross a road to do that, and there was a very busy highway just past that yard, so I made a u-turn and went to tell John. Well, no one answered the door, but one of John's helpers was there, and I told him what I saw. Apparently, this ewe is a real pita and gets out with some regularity.

I happened to have my camera yesterday, so I gave the camera to Kevin, John's farm hand and said "just take pics, this might be interesting". So, he did. And here is what happened:

The offending ewe, clearly well fed. Why she felt she must escape her pasture, no one knows....

Here, I had sent Lucy to fetch her, and she zoomed past me and into the pasture, with Lucy hot on her heels. When you tell Lucy to fetch a sheep, she will fetch it, not just let it go!

In this picture, Lucy is cutting the ewe off.... The rest of the flock dropped her like a bad habit when they saw Lucy...

Here is a stand off, an impasse, a non-meeting of the minds....

Here the ewe stops for a little. Lucy has her beat.... So far....

The ewe zigs, Lucy covers.....

THEN.... the ewe gets closer to the barn, and all of a sudden she comes back to me. Followed closely by two Suffolk Punch horses. They were coming to protect their sheep and Lucy was very smart, and came back to me. We then stopped and chatted with John, who was just about to head out to go Beagling.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Hmmmm, I seem to be waning in my number of updates... I don't mean to be a slacker; I guess I just only want to post when something interesting happens....Well, I am here now, that's all that matters!

So, first, good news. Ginger started to get sick this morning, and instead of letting it go on my bed, or in my bedroom, she ran to the closet where her litter box was- GOOOOOOD kitty!!!!!!!!! Wow, I am pitiful- THAT is exciting.... But, seriously, trust me, it is very very good.

This week went by pretty fast. Worked the dogs, and then on Friday, I got a hay delivery, and later that day, my friend came by and we finished 2nd round of vax on the lambs. Then we worked Danny. My friend tried to hold the sheep, but they were ABSOLUTELY ATROCIOUS and would not settle. What a mess. Well, I got a couple outruns in, and was told that they were spot on... That's good.

After my friend left, I had to stack the hay that was delivered. I paid through the nose for it and won't be buying from there again- it's just too expensive. Oh, then, after my friend left, I brought Danny and the sheep into a small room in the barn and worked him a bit on packed pen theory. He did pretty well, but we will be going back to that, and I will be bringing a book- that boy needs to chill out.

I was beat after that, because the day previous I had shoveled almost a foot thick of cow flops out of that room.

Then, after work today, I met with some old agility friends at the farm, so they could get their dogs on sheep. One BC/Cattle dog (I think 99% BC) and two Aussies. The BC is apparently not a very happy dog, and last time on sheep she shut down. Well, this little girl was just such a natural and so keen, and calm, she was just a pleasure to work.

The next dog was a boy Aussie who I made the mistake of not being with my sheep. They like to be near me, but I let her owner just try to work the sheep and they bolted- GONE down to the gate, near the lambs. Wow. The BC who was shut down before? She did a wonderful job of covering.

I finally got everything settled, put the sheep back up on the hill, left Lucy to hold them there, and we chatted a bit. The red aussie's owner decided that was enough for the day, so next time, I will have a pen set up.

Then I worked a neat black/white Aussie. He showed some good stuff. A bit unsure of me, but he was going in both directions. Lucy helped keep the sheep to us, and he was definitely tractable, and if maintained on lessons, I believe he could definitely progress.

It was a really nice time, and it was great re-connecting with everyone again. We all went out to lunch in town. I had the best fish and chips I have ever had. The prices were very reasonable too.

It was just a wonderful day, and I look forward to doing it again some time.

I am about three sheets to the wind, and will go to bed early tonight. Tomorrow, not sure if I will work the dogs, but I should probably work Danny....

Well, that's the update :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Terrible dream

I have been stressing about animals lately. First, my sheep have no shelter, and today, it is sleeting. This is unacceptable. Then, the horse farm down the road which is the most disgusting place you could imagine, and they lost a mare, who had foaled a month earlier, to God knows what... Well, they now have a chestnut foal left, who I saw yesterday was dreadfully lame. What will it take to get that situation DEALT with?
To top it off, Ginger, my old kitty wakes me up ever night around three in the morning puking- on my bed. I now get her off the bed, but it just reminds me, that she is so old, and something is probably wrong, but I don't want to think of it...

Okay, so here's the dream: I get a call at home that one of the horses at work was put down, it was very sick (had Tetanus). I got very upset wanting to know why I wasn't called???? The security guard told me that they got advice from someone who was there, and that they had to put it down, and the others had to be put down too. Then I called my friend who's a vet, and told me, yes, they all had to be put down. I was sobbing, saying that they had been there since I started work there!!!!!!!! It was just terrible. I woke up crying.

What a terrible dream. My sheep are getting a shelter today.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

So, yesterday was a SNAFU all the way around... I was supposed to go to lunch with a friend, but she never called, and by the time I called her, well, I had to rush out, because it was the end of the day, and I had to get more hay. She was also going to bring me some hay... Anyway, I leave work, go get a couple bales of hay, head home. Walk in the door to.... that tell-tale smell of a sick dog. Oh God. It was Kylie. She had puked/diarrhea in her crate and was covered in it. Grrrreat! So, I carried her to the tub, bathed her, and put her outside.

I then set to cleaning the crate, a Vari kennel- making it so much more fun! So, I went to turn the hose on, and the new dial for the hose is not connected right, so hose will not turn on. Sooooo, I bring hose to back of house and commence cleaning the crate. After I got that done, I had to go to the farm.

I got to the farm, and it was un-eventful, thank goodness. I filled the manger with a bale, and then Danny and I worked just the lambs- on cover and hold. He is good with the cover thing, as long as he doesn't then bust in, and then does that senseless flank off thing. Hmmmm. Trick will be to teach him he cannot come in, he must just cover. He is slowly getting it, but it is NOT his forte ;)

Today, it was quite a day. I worked, went to the grocery store, pharmacy, feed store, and then the farm. I see the sheep ate 1/2 the bale so that's good to know how much they will eat. I let them into the other pasture and I worked Danny. He was very good. Deep enough on all outruns- he must have really gotten that correction the other day. Then we worked on inside flanks and small flanks (using my tiny voice). When all was said and done, I said to myself "he is a pleasure to work". He really is. He's like a gift.

When it was time to leave, I put the sheep back in their pasture with a bit of grain and headed home. I stopped at the farm to see the man who sold me the Cheviots. We chatted a bit, and I headed home.

When I got home, I mowed the back yard, and then came inside to make an early steak supper, which turned out- mmmmmmmmm... The baked potato was hands down the BEST I have ever had.

After I ate, I vacuumed the house and then dusted the bedroom. Then, washed dishes, isn't this fun!?! Well, now my house feels a lot cleaner, and I am free to work dogs again tomorrow! It was a good, productive day.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hay is a Hit

When I got the farm yesterday, all the sheep were laying near the gate. Apparently, they either wanted food, or to be let into the other pasture. I was a tad bit worried that the new hay was too rich- even though I only gave about three flakes.

When I got to the gate, they got up eventually, shook off, and I let them into the other pasture, and then looked to see if they ate the hay. They sure did. Not one shred of it was left. Wow. The difference hay makes. They were not eating the hay that we got earlier this summer, and truth be told, it never smelled very good to me, and I think we will just continue feeding it to the cows, but I will get this Timothy hay for my sheep.

When I went to feed the sheep, as usual, I put a few flakes down on the ground and then put some grain on the ground (for now, but will be using a trough soon), and they all go for the grain (it's only less than one scoop for all of them, so it's not a lot, but I really want the lambs to get some). The difference this time, is that pretty quick, they all went for the hay. This makes me feel good. Such a little thing makes me feel good....

I didn't work the sheep yesterday, owing to the fact that I was beat. I stopped and got cereal on the way home for dinner.

I was in bed rather early, and read my book. Slept MUCH better. This morning awoke to rain, and a kitty who wouldn't go out. Even though he wanted to ;)

Once the weather clears, time to finish the leaves. No plans this weekend, again!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

This picture was taken at the Cummington Mass sheepdog trial a couple of years ago, by Darlene Hutchins. Darlene passed away last year. She was always quick with a joke, and clearly, a talented photographer. This photo captures a moment between Lucy and I, where I needed her, and she was there for me. It's one of my most favorite pictures ever.

Life has been pretty busy. Been working the dogs, going to the farm every day, working a lot, and just basically keeping up. The baby parakeets went to their new homes earlier this week, so it is measurably quieter at my place (thank goodness).

The sheep have been getting grain ever day, so now they are looking for it, and also to be let into the other pasture, which is still growing but not much. The lambs look good too. I got a couple bales of *really* nice hay yesterday, and when I check today, I suspect that the sheep will have eaten all of what I gave them....

I am dead tired today; didn't sleep well, got up too early.

That's it for now.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chicken soup for the soul- working dogs

So, I am over the "want a farm" thing for now. Helping me to do that was to get out to my brother's farm, the farm where my sheep are, and to work the dogs :)

Yesterday was another unseasonably warm day. Not a lot of dog working done, but we did get in a little fence holding for Danny, and then some fence pulling and them some driving- ah, you get the picture :) Danny is so keen to work he can barely contain himself on the way to the field- he runs ahead and then back to me, and play bows, and scoots. He's just jubilant. Yesterday, as he was walking up to the sheep, he looked *just* like his father Glen. It was uncanny. Same stance, same everything.

Lucy got a little bit of work in, but not much. We just need to work on non-lazy outruns and stops ;)

I have been taking the sheep to the steer pasture, where the grass is much better. There *is* grass to speak of. They are loving it there. The lambs are very skittish in there, but are eating just as fast and hard as the ewes. I see that pasture rotation is very important for the grass and the sheep. When we clear out the other pasture area this fall, I believe I will keep it fenced separate.

The lambs have been growing. All but one digs into the grain that I put on hay flakes. One, is always on the look out. When she's hungry enough I suspect she will eat. These Cheviots are nice and hardy. I like this breed a lot. Border Leicesters are huge, and not so hardy.

The baby Parakeets are ready to go to their new homes. I am dreading this. I have a home for them, but they get along so well now. The whole lot of them. I know it's best, but this will be hard. They have a home where two will go to the mother's place, and the other will go to the daughter's place. It will be for the best, but I will have a hard time. I am sure.

Ginger, my kitty has been puking her dry food a lot. Wouldn't be so bad if it weren't on my pillow.... She seems to be doing well other than that.

All the dogs are good, and my house is pretty clean. That's a nice thing.

Well, that's it for now!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I tend to be a bit introspective when I have down time, and lately, no exception to the rule...

I wonder what makes people happy? Is it having money, is it being in a relationship, is it being successful in a hobby? What is it?

Sometimes I am downright unhappy, I guess that's pretty common. I have started to look for a pattern, for when that happens. It seems to be when things are drawing to a close- the trial season, or when I get back from being out of town. Or, when I think about what I *really* want. Basically, times when I am not busy, just busy thinking about the fact that what I have isn't what I *really* want.

I am so used to being independent, which has it's compensations, but one thing that is lacking, is having a second person to be supportive, understanding, and who can help pay the bills. It's just not feasible for a SINK (single income no kids) to be able to own a farm. It just ain't happening. I look, and inevitably realize that it will never happen. So, then I have to get back to what IS reality, and be happy with what I have.

So many people are much less fortunate that I. I work very hard for what I have, and I feel like I should have built up some credit in the good Karma column, but so far, I just run barely solvent. What to do? Nothing. I have to find the happy in me.

My blog is generally all about what I am doing, have done, will do. What about all the time in between? Maybe my blog has to change a bit. I mean, it's MY blog. There are oft times when I purposefully don't share my feelings, because there are folks who read my blog for, um, well, no reason other than to keep tabs on someone that they don't like ;) You know who you are.

Then, there are the good folks who have never met me, but I guess we sort of hit a mutual chord in each other, and we get each other. You folks, you make my day brighter. You know who you are :)

Anyway, I think I need to be less introspective, and realize that no one is perfectly happy at any time. Life is what happens when you are making other plans (thanks John Lennon).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Been a while

Been a bit since an update...

So, Lucy, Danny and I headed up for our two day training session. Poor Lucy didn't get to work sheep, but Danny had two lessons. He did very well. He's got issues on his lift still (not deep enough on come by side), but we are addressing it. He's such a nice dog on the fetch; if the sheep get rattled he just stays calm. That's a very nice feature in a dog. It was a very nice time, and we came home Tues, but not before stopping at another friend's place to work dogs. This time I worked Lucy and Danny :)

Danny got to learn to hold sheep on a fence calmly, and we were given home work for that.

Every day last week we worked on this at the farm. He's making progress. I believe it's a combination of growing up and experience, which is making him what he is, that is, it's not just my working with him, it's also his head engaging :)

Yesterday I went out to a friend's place and we worked dogs, and Lucy got some work on her outruns, that had gotten a bit cruddy, and also her stops. Forever her stops.

Danny, we worked on his lifts. It's really the ONLY thing I see an issue with, and it's on one side. We keep plugging away, with me sending him from a long way away, and me being near sheep. It's helping, but I am going to have to stop him on the lift more often than not, until he slows up, goes deep enough and chills on the lift. He doesn't buzz in, he just comes in too fast.

After working dogs yesterday, I stopped at the farm and fed the sheep. Yes, fed them. I have been graining everyone, due to the condition of the field. It wasn't great before I added four lambs, but now, it is just barely there. They have hay on offer, but don't really eat it, except for the leafy stuff, so that's my next plan, to buy hay that's nice and leafy and second cutting. The lambs are starting to really fight for their grain, and that's good, because THEY need it more than the ewes.

I awoke at 12:30 am this morning, thinking about what I wanted to do today- I HAVE to stop doing that. Today I plan to hit the market, Home Depot (to get wood to make a trough for the grain) and then clean. I did 1/3 of the fenced in back yard yesterday (leaves) and need to do more this week, but it rained this morning, so no more leaves today, so maybe tomorrow.

Not much going on this fall, probably like most people. It's a good time to button things up around the house, do some cleaning and maybe some baking and cooking. Still no barn yard fence. I have just about given up on it and may, instead just build a run in shed for them in their pasture.

Well, that's it for now boys and girls, have a great week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oriole Hill Farm CSA

We will soon be starting our very own CSA here at Oriole Hill Farm. Plans are to have on offer, veggies, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, fiber, you name it. This will allow us to be able to make the best use of this property, while encouraging others to "get into" farming.

I believe that this will be how most small farms will exist in the next 50 years, and it makes good sense to start now, while we are still small. Once we get a pool of folks signing up, we may add new "crops", but we will see how it goes.

My goal is to make the farm pay for itself, and in doing so, take a giant load of my brother and I, and keep the farm solvent for as long as we are still breathing.

I would be glad to hear suggestions on things to be careful of, and perhaps things that other people find helpful.

Thanks everyone, this will be good, I can feel it.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just got better, and gets better

So, Sunday arrived, and perhaps it did so a bit early... I didn't sleep very well. I got up at 5:00, and then got back in bed, but stayed awake. I felt like I was in over-draft in terms of sleep ;)

So, finally, my day started after an English muffin and some coffee. I had to first stop at my friend's place to drop off the t-shirt I got at the sheep and wool, for a larger size, and then to the farm.

So, when I got to my friend's place, I saw that they just picked up a load of hay, and I wanted to help them unload, but I knew I could not stay (they had more than enough people to help, but I believe fellow farmers should *always* lend a hand). Anyway, I got the t-shirt dropped off and headed to the farm.

I got the sheep/lambs all loaded into my combo/gate pen, and my friend showed up. We got all the vax drawn up, the chalk in my pocket and the wormer drawn up. I had decided to worm the ewes too, because the ticks are just so bad. I did the vaxing, while my friend held the "wild animals" as he termed them- the lambs. They are pretty nutty. But, once on their butts, no problem. I didn't get to check their condition, but they were not fat, so I am going to figure out a way to grain those girls- so the older girls don't get it all. Not much grass left at all now. We marked with pink chalk, so fitting for girls :)

I let every one out and my friend asked me if I would work Danny so he could see how he was doing. So, I got Danny and we worked. He made some suggestions, and then we brought the sheep to the fence, and we worked on Danny just covering- and not busting in, which he was doing. See, Danny doesn't get much chance just to work sheep, so he needs this. At first, he was being silly, as my friend put it, but then, after I made it clear that busting in at me and sheep was not allowed, he started to think. By the end of the session, he was starting to get it. This dog never wants to do wrong, so once he gets something, he GETS it. I have instructions to do this every day with him.
This work will also help him at the lift, I believe a lot.

So, today, after work I head up for the last two day lesson for the year with my trainer. Looking forward to it, except for Lucy freezing in the car. I will bring her a comforter to keep warm in the car.

On the way home, a lesson with another trainer and Danny. Boy, Danny gets lots of education!

So, yes, it will be good. Good to get away, and good to learn more about how to train my dog!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sheep and wool festival etc.

This was one of the three huge sheep handling equipment vendors. Such nice stuff. I wish I could afford it. Some day, we will be the real deal, and will need to have this stuff. Beautiful.

This is a Corriedale ram. That panel is 4 ft high. Do you SEE how large he is? He's just ginormous, and I cannot imagine wanting anything that big!!

Let's see. Yesterday was full indeed. I worked (as usual) and then went to the grocery store, and then picked up the dogs, and headed to the sheep and wool festival. It was huge. Bigger than ever before, and loaded with so many fiber vendors and buyers. I felt like odd man out being that I don't knit, or wear wool, or any natural fibers. The buyers were DEAD serious. Bringing small suitcases on wheels to haul their purchases. In the buildings, it was all I could do to get through. Some vendors were VERY popular. It was rather like being at a shoe sale at Bloomies. I just pretty much stayed out of the way...

I did find a VERY talented pen/ink artist and bought two items, one, a print of a BC herding sheep, and a T-shirt of the same scene for my friend, which, today, I need to have a friend of mine stop in there, and get a bigger size, as this is way to small!!! But, I love them.

They had a building for gourmet foods and wine, and jerky, and salsa, and honey, you name it.

There were sheep/alpaca/llama there, and a smattering of rabbits.

There was also a sheepdog demo, she worked sheep and ducks. No where near as cool as the trial, so I hope they bring the trial back next year, but not holding my breath.

After my afternoon at the sheep and wool, I stopped at the farm and worked the dogs a bit, and then home. Made a nice steak dinner, and then just relaxed, and read my book.

I got up way too early today, in anticipation, I guess of getting things done. Good weekend :)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Time flies

Been busy this week, and it's been good. Have gotten a lot of the jobs I wanted to get done- DONE. I cleaned the gutters, replaced the air filter of the furnace, took the a/c out of the window, put away the fan, and last night cleaned my kitchen- even the top of the fridge. My goal is to do just one job each night, so my weekends are free.

Blue baby Parakeet finally emerged from the box. He's chunky, but he's out, and he appears happy to be out. The two baby blue babies are just so extremely beautiful, I am not sure I will be able to part with them. They are also nice birds- calm, and sweet, but certainly not hand tame!

I worked Lucy and Danny on the lambs this week. Lucy was very good, she was born to cover. Danny was a bit different, but not too bad. He has a BAD habit, wherein, if things go kerfluey, and the sheep explode, he will just turn away, and run off for about 10 feet - and then come back. Not sure if it is fear, as much as he is afraid I will get after him. He had his tail up some of the time, and he also body blocked a few, as time wore on- these are not dog broke sheep, so it sort of through him for a loop. Which is sort of what he needs ;) Life isn't a bowl of dog broken sheep Danny.

Yesterday I worked the lambs with the ewes just to get them used to being worked a bit. Then, once they are not so crazy, I will work them without the adults.

We got some good rain last night, and it didn't get that cold, so I am hoping that my lambs got a good washing.

Tomorrow I plan to go to the sheep and wool festival after work, and then maybe work dogs. Then, Sunday, we vax the lambs and worm everyone.

That's it for now :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lucy new lambs.mpg

Here is Lucy working the lambs. She is a natural at this. No commands. Just a Kelpie doing what comes naturally.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Nice weekend

Sunday was an early rise day- even though I didn't want to! I had to get up to hit the bathroom, so then I also let the dogs out- around 5:00! YUCK. My one day to sleep in.
I had a headache, so I went back to bed, then had breakfast, and then considered my options for the day. Stay home and do the work I should, or go work dogs at my friend's place.. Hard decision....

So, on my way up to my friend's place, I stopped by to check my sheep. The lambs are staying right with the Border Leicesters, and seem happy. I tried to grain the lambs, but they are down right feral to people. So, they BL's got it all. It's cute, BL's follow me in a line, and then, behind them are the Chev lambs.

I got to my friend's place and we worked dogs for a long while, and then I headed home, and stopped at the farm again. All sheep peacefully grazing. Good. I brought a flake of hay up, but no one so much as glanced at it.

When I got home, I called the farmer I got the lambs from, and learned that they have not been vaxed or wormed, so I need to do that, which should be loads of fun, given that they won't let me near them, and are small, and wily, and well, let's just say, a barrel of laughs.....

May work the dogs today, may not. It depends. Need to get some work done at the house. Danny has a lesson on Thursday, where I hope to concentrate on learning exercises for finishing flanks right!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Meet the new girls

Well, the time was nigh. I just had to get more sheep, as my originals need to start being rotated off for work. Yesterday, as I walked Danny up on the group, one ewe in particular stood and stared, which Danny responded well- stayed calm and slowly walked up, but it got me thinking, that these girls will get sour, unless I can rotate them a bit. So.... I called my friend with the Cheviot flock who lives not far from the farm, and voila! Here they are. They are VERY small, they look like mini sheep, but they are late lambs. They are filthy, as he barns them up every night- but once we get a good rain, all should be good. I went back to check on them twice so far, and they are hanging around the other girls, and the other girls tolerate them fine. I thought one of my girls had an eye problem, as she was squinting it shut in the pics I took, so I got some triple antibiotic ointment from my vet friend, and went back to treat her- now no more squint. Figures. Well, at least I have it. I hope we don't have any illnesses crop up, but I did NOT want to barn anyone up, and there is enough space where everyone can spread out. If someone(s) get sick, I will deal with it when/if it happens... My vet friend is a great resource, and he knows I really care about my animals, so he is happy to help. I won't work these lambs for a while, I will let them settle in.

I am going to work Danny and Lucy elsewhere tomorrow, and then later this week a lesson at a new place, and THEN the week after, another two day lesson at another place. Makes for good new experiences for Danny, and me :)

So, that's it, next, the other Border Leicesters, if we can get them here!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

THIS is one thing I will do this weekend!

Time for an update

It's been a few days, with not a lot to report, but it's been a good week. The sheep have not arrived- I am working out transportation. The Border Leicesters should be coming next weekend. Now, I have to determine if I can afford to feed the Cheviots too... One thing you won't see me doing is jumping into things without a lot of forethought ;) Perhaps TOO much forethought sometimes!

I have been working the dogs in the bigger pasture and it has been great. We have done so many left sided outruns, that when I wanted to do a right sided one, Danny wasn't as good as he had been ;) Oh Lord, it's always something! Today, we will remedy that, and work on those right sides. He's coming along nicely, I think. We are working on the box driving (where the dog drives the sheep around you in the shape of a box, or rectangle). Danny busted through a couple times, but I am not worried too much, it's a factor of my rushing commands again. I really like to work him. I have to say, it's much nicer than working Lucy. Lucy does not really need drilling at this point, at all. And, to her, it's rather pointless. I get that Lucy. We need more sheep! We need a real job for you! We will get there my dear!

For a dog who has been characterized as not wanting/liking to walk up, I would hate to see it if he does... Yesterday, I walked him up no less than 150 yards, and he just kept right on, turned them and kept going. This dog loves to drive. I also love that he takes my stops so nice. I have to remember to give him quiet, small flank commands so it is easier for him to stop.

I managed to get a little cleaning done in the house this week, and this weekend, while, ahem EVERYONE is at the novice finals, I will be home, cleaning leaves out of gutters, raking leaves, and working dogs... The working dogs part is cool, but leaves? Has to be done, but I don't really enjoy it!

My baby Parakeets- two of the three have fledged for some time now. They are a stunning light blue colour. The blue baby still has not left the box. But, apparently, parents are not worried, as mom still feeds him. They can get so noisy in that room, that sometimes I have to leave it.

We have gotten a lot of rain of late, and the seed I put in seems to be sprouting up here and there- I should have put in a LOT more. The sheep seem happy with all this rain, and they are a good weight. Still no fencing near the barn, but I am told by end of this week the fence post holes should be in. I can do the rest :)

Well, that's it for now. Happy Thursday!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A calmness descends

Although I have my moments; when I am over worked, tired and crabby, generally, I have been finding myself oddly relaxed and that I believe, is due to heading to the farm just about every single day, working the dogs, doing various chores, and feeling all the better for it. Something about being where there is nothing but you and the animals, and quiet. No rushing. Even if you have a lot to do, you seem to be able to get it all in, in a workmanlike fashion, and then, when you head out, you are happy with getting your agenda settled and you are tired in a good way.

I suppose I could live at the farm, but for now, this works. I love my house; it's close to work, and it's really a home for me, and I have put a lot of work into it. Maybe some day I will move, but not just yet.

Today I had quite a busy day. I worked this morning, and then an oil change for my car. Then, grocery store, then work the dogs, and then hit a Church flea market and now home.

I worked the dogs in the steer's field and that was good. Danny still wants to revert to being tight on his left outruns, when he first starts, but we will if it KILLS me, get past that ;) The sheep were good in the new field and it was nice not having sheep that will freak out at a new place. While there, I let out the chickens, fed them and also fed the steers. The steers seem quite happy in the barn these days.

I bought a steak for dinner, and at the Church flea market, I bought an apple cake. That ought to be very good.

Parakeets- there are three babies total. Two are stunning dilute blue color. I cannot seem to get a good shot yet, but will try again. The two pretty dilutes have fledged, but there is one more hold out sitting in the box. I wish he would join his brothers and sisters. Would be easier for mom to take care of... maybe?

So, that's it for now. Pretty happy with my Saturday, and tomorrow heading to parents for dinner, and of course work dogs again. It doesn't really get any better than this.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


I stoppped by the farm where I will be getting the Cheviot ewe lambs, yes, I will. I spoke to the farmer, who I am quickly becoming friends with, and he made a good offer, as these are a bit small for meat purposes, but heck, they will be fine for me. So, God willing and the creek don't rise, they come home this weekend.

I worked Danny just a few minutes just on his left side, and we are almost consistently there- he is getting that he needs to relax and turn out before I will allow him to go. Lucy, I worked her for almost no time- wasn't really into it, PLUS it was quite warm for this time of year, and the sheep were getting hot. I took a few shots.

A very handsome Dan.

Look closely at that fleece, it's GORGEOUS.

Here is my brand spanking new custom made hay manger- nice eh? Holds two full bales of hay. Double sided.

Sleep, sheep

We got about an inch and a half of rain yesterday. That is more than greatly appreciated. I was ready to call it a day after work yesterday, because the night before I didn't sleep, but Heaven forbid Danny doesn't get his work in ;)

So, I headed up to the farm, and when I walked up to the pasture, I see my sheep spread out grazing, which is a great sight. I hope all this rain continues to help bring life out of the ashes, as it were. We are fore casted to get more rain tomorrow, so maybe the deficit will be made up :)

I worked Danny on his left flank/outrun, and I think we are getting it. He needs to be behind me, and I need to take pressure off him, these things are what I did with Lucy, and it worked. Why I never tried with Danny, is beyond me... Anyway, we never work for very long, but the work we do is high expectations, so we get something out of it each session.

Before I left, I dumped the water trough and refilled, and as I waited for it to refill, I noted that the sheep did not come down looking for grain. They prefer good grass to hay and grain. That's great. I have been calculating what it will cost me to keep these guys in hay over the winter, and it won't be cheap.

So, that leads me to my next topic. Sheep.

Basically, a big bale, 50 lbs, will feed one sheep a week. So, you figure between $3.00-$5.00 per bale, and then calculate, it is not chump change. I NEVER thought I would EVER be in the position to be turning down sheep!!! I will be going to look at Cheviots today, and then I have to make my decision. How many to over winter.

I have to be practical. PLUS I STILL need to get that fencing in near the barn....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sleep, glorious sleep

I get cranky when I don't get enough sleep. Friday night I had nightmares, and had to get up at 0-dark-thirty. Then, that night I didn't sleep well, so by Sunday, not so happy. I spent most of Sunday watching the Finals. I hope they never think of NOT web streaming them again! It's just too great!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I worked the dogs, and hit on something to help Danny's left flank outrun- he's fine if I face him (not the sheep), but if I try to set up normally, he's back to being tight. Well, it was all just rushing on my part, so now I set him up and make him lay there a while, and then, he seems to just set up right, and I wait until he turns his head and is calm, then send him. Seems to work. We will keep doing this, until his left flank/outrun is better all the time. Bought the sheep come Blue Seal Course 16 grain, and gave them just a little yesterday, as it's new, and I want them slowly transitioning to it. I also put a bale of hay in the manger yesterday, so they have that option too. We are supposed to get a fair amount of rain in the next few days, so today I may put more seed out in the pasture...

Still waiting to see if I will get the rest of the flock that these came from... I need to know soon, otherwise, I will be getting other sheep. Met a person at the trial who doesn't live far from me, and have invited her to come and work sheep, so more sheep are in order for general purposes!

Today I will be going home early to work on my house, do some errands and put that seed down. I plan to take time off for the next few weeks just to get my life back in order. I may even make a real meal today....

One of the baby Parakeets stuck his/her head out of the nest box yesterday.....

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Lucy excels, almost 100%....

I went to an AHBA trial with Lucy. I had considered running Danny, but opted out, because he is still so mentally young, and after I saw the size of the area we would work in, I was glad I decided against it. We entered the HTAD top level- not sure what that is called. It was an HTAD III course. It consisted of a gather, turn at the post, a y chute, a turn a drive up/through panels with a left turn, and then back across arena to pen, and then, once out of pen, a ribbon pull, and then a re-pen.

I was going to send Lucy away, because we were told there is a draw to the right of me, but Lucy set up left, so I sent her that way. She had a decent outrun, and a bit fast on her lift- like none- but the set out (grain) area was not very far from fence, so not much space to settle. Anyway, she got them to me, and was taking her stops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We turned the post, and got to the Y chute. I had to really handle her, to put enough pressure, and cover on the sheep, so they would take it. So, we did that. Then, a turn and have her drive them through the panels. Dang it if she didn't take every single flank and stop. Seriously? I was so happy...

Then, we head over to the pen, got them in nicely, and then the ribbon pull. The sheep were two ewes and three lambs. I pulled the ribbon and was just walking on air when I went to let them sheep into the re-pen and then, STUPIDLY (smacks forehead) let Lucy into the re-pen where she caused a ruckus, and well, we were unceremoniously dq'd. That hurt, just a little, because all of her work was just very good. It was a lot of listening for my wee girl, and she seemed pretty happy to do it.

We got another kick at the can in the afternoon. This time, the sheep were not so happy to cooperate. They had been run in the morning and were "running" now.... So, we had a good gather, and turn and then the Y chute. There was one wether in there who apparently took issue with another dog at one point and thinks he's all that. He was at the end of the group. He was not moving. He was grazing, daring Lucy to try anything. You know that look, oh, I don't see you, but I am not scared of you, so go away look. So, I KNEW I could not flank Lucy off. She stood there and locked onto him and we had a stalemate for a second. Finally, that spit head went for Lucy and she nailed him and then back to her spot. Then, he was a little more nervous, but still not wanting to go into that chute. So, I gave Lucy a come and they moved a foot toward the chute opening. Then, an away, and another, and so forth. Lucy was literally taking one step. She never busted in, she never lost it. I was rather amazed at my dog, and proud, if I do say so myself. We finally got them through the Y chute, and I flanked her to cover, and she did not slice- that would be a given on a younger Lucy, after such an exchange....

I get to the pen, and there is NO way they are penning. Just nuts these sheep were. So, We finally got the- you can move on direction from the judge, and gratefully, we did. Then, onto the ribbon pull. The sheep did not want to be near me, and the Barbado mix wether really did not trust me... he was also the one wearing the ribbon. So, I used all my guile and ignored him until I got the ribbon pulled! HA! Take that!

Lucy was so beat after her endeavors, that after the pull, when the judge said two mins to me, I looked at Lucy and she had plopped down and was rolling on her back. Oh Lord Lucy, have some couth!

We then set them up for the re-pen and got it, and Lucy did not go in :)

This was a qualifying run, and even though the score was lower than the first trial, she worked her butt of for me, and I am so proud of her.

It was a very long day, we got home late, and Lucy slept like a rock. Today, watching the finals, and then sheep stuff- going to get hay in the manger, grain from Agway, and general check of their health. I worry since we lost that steer. I need to clean, but I may have to take a day off of work to get that done!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Yes, they do

Besides your comment Carolyn, I was told the same thing; that cattle do mourn the loss of their own. This puts the whole idea of mass slaughtering in a new light to me. I will wrestle with this for a long time.

Worked the dogs yesterday, better than the day before Danny was well in the pressure where he was going to bust, but I gave him a down and he took it. That's very good Danny! Sheep are a bit spooked still. When I fetch them to me, with either Danny or Lucy tied on a post well behind me, they snort like Deer responding to a predator. This whole dead Steer thing sent them for a loop, OR, maybe they have spotted Coyotes... I don't know. But, I want to get the barn yard set up soon. I want to be able to bring them close to the barn before it gets cold, and when I am feeding hay. Right now they are still eating grass, and I give them some corn at night - spoiling them, I know, but I want my sheep a good weight going into winter.

Am running Lucy and maybe Danny at an AHBA trial this weekend. Should be interesting. I have never run a dog in one of these. Danny will do a baby class, and Lucy, probably advanced. We will see... I will save my nerves for when we get there!

Steers seem happy in the barn, although they did get out somewhere and plop their plops in my sheep area, so I shored up some spots where they might have gotten out. Now, I know the meaning of s*it kickers- you step in it, and then spend a lot of time trying to kick it off!

That's it for now.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mourning Steers?

After work yesterday, I went to the farm. It was a darn sight warmer than it has been, and our sheep work was shorter, and not as good... But, some days are good, some not. Today better be good :)

When I got to the farm, my brother was over helping his friend chain up the dead steer. The hole was already dug. My brother told me that the other steers stayed with this one all night/day...

So, as they drug the dead steer to it's grave site, the other's started getting very agitated. They were running forth and back to the place where he had died, and one got up close to the back hoe. We had to shoo them away. At one point, the Hereford/Angus cross got very upset, and came up to the dirt pile and started ramming his head into it, and striking- like a very angry bull. It was a sight.

Finally, the job was done, and those two steers lay down right next to the grave site. Admittedly, I don't know Bovines that well, but this really sort of amazed me.

After that was done, I got the water tank moved to the barn, went to Agway for another mineral lick and some molasses for the steers, and came back, and then we set up a pen for the steers.

They had a very stressful day, so I was not sure how successful my brother would be at getting them in the barn, but he did. So, that is where they will stay for now. Either until they are butchered, or until we get grass back, whichever comes first.

I have to do most of the work at the farm because my brother can't do any lifting, but I hope he CAN get the post holes dug for the barnyard fencing.....

Today, work sheep again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Finals, sheep, steers.....

I have been following the finals, and I have to say that the sheep are PRIMO for such an event. Nothing is given to the dogs (except the pen in some cases yesterday, from what Jenny Glen wrote). There is a lot of pressure, and the sheep scoff at wide flanking dogs. They just sit and watch them do their little soliloquy, and ignore them, until the dogs come right up and walk straight on. It's definitely a skill the winners will need. That, and very good handling- to cover pressures- in advance of the sheep getting there, because we all know, sheep that are galloping with the sight of relief in the horizon, aren't stopped all that easily, or cleanly....

I would like to have been able to go down, but I suppose I will have to wait for the web cast this weekend. Looking forward to that! I may even get some munchies, and invite some friends over to enjoy!

Was thinking of running Lucy in an AHBA trial, but I am going to sit it out. I am just sick of Lucy not listening to me. I have no doubt that since I have a dog that listens to me both at home and away now, that not having that makes it hard. Lucy has her own agenda a lot of the time, and it makes me tense. Other times, she is calm and listening well, so who the heck knows what goes on in her head.

Worked Danny on walk ups and his left flanks yesterday, we will keep working on those left flanks until the tension goes bye bye forever ;) My sheep are good for walk ups, flanks and driving, but outruns- fogetaboutit. Have to wait to get more sheep for that. They just come running too fast as soon as they know a dog is coming. Jerks.

I am hoping we can get the post holes dug this week/weekend for the barn yard... I want to get all that done asap. The sheep look good, but in time, they will need to start their hay eating and I also want them to be able to get in the barn when really bad weather hits, which it will. They are eating grass up there, though, I have no idea what kind...I don't think it's the fescue, but I see grass hanging out of their mouths.... I hear after the first frost, the fescue is okay to eat...

We are going to put the steers in the barn 24/7 now. The field is down to nothing, and it's time for them to gain weight. Also, there is something in that field that is poisonous, as we lost a steer the other day (found it dead). I was *really* upset.

So, today we put the steers in the barn, hopefully they will go willingly, or we may have to break out Lucy....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Wonderful weather, nursery finals, etc.

What wonderful weather we are having. Let's see, I worked the dogs with my friend on Friday. It was great. Danny did very nice outruns, and even self corrected when he was a few steps short on his come by side. I am now starting to work on flanks on the fetch, so we can have actual steering, should we need it ;)

Lucy was back to happy, normal girl- which makes me VERY happy. I had Danny do the sorting and he was very good.

I didn't work the dogs yesterday, wanted one day off, but I did get the hay manger (with the help of my nephew) into the general vicinity I wanted it. It's very heavy, so I am glad that job is done.

Yesterday was good for one big reason- I got my copy of Tony Parson's "The Kelpie" in the mail from Australia!!! Over 600 pages. It is GREAT, and it will take me quite a long time to get through it. It has everything from the history of the breed, to training, to comparing BC/Kelpie, trialing, you name it.

This morning I awoke with a headache AGAIN. I almost didn't go work the dogs, but after some coffee, I was able to get out there.

I only worked each dog for like 10 mins. Danny is getting very good on his walk up, and starting to show some eye, and force, and I am liking that a lot. Sheep are very settled when Danny works them.

The field is looking better- growth, I think from the seed I sewed (is that how you say it?!) a couple weeks ago. Sheep look a bit fat even!

Been watching the nursery finals. Seems like tough sheep, but I would expect that at a national level competition. This isn't just your average every day trial. The sheep will sort out the dogs. Dogs who may look very shiny and spectacular, may not, and dogs who you didn't think had much special, will stand out, because they have the grit and determination to get it done. There is no telling where any dog will fall, because when it comes down to dog versus sheep in a fortitude contest, there is nothing the handler can do. It's up to the dog. Being over faced for most of the dogs is pretty much expected. So far, it appears that Alasdair is in the lead with Coll, his Nap son.

I would love to see an upset tomorrow, but I doubt we will... Here's hoping though....

Well, that's it for now, going to watch the results....

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mid week update

So, back to work, and some what normal. Worked the dogs again yesterday. Mainly worked on driving for both. My sheep will not afford me the ability to do outruns/fetching, so it sort of stinks. Need to get those new sheep soon. Danny's downs need tuning up, which we addressed yesterday. Takes them, but gets up. I make lots of little mistakes, and I need to remember what I was taught....

Was a peaceful night in the house last night. The birds are good, momma comes out of the box occasionally, and just sits on the perch looking at the male. Still haven't peeked to see how many.... Soon....

Have a massive headache today. The kind that makes you want to go back to bed. My brother had abdominal surgery yesterday, and we were told that it went well, so that is good.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you all are having a good week :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thanks to good friends and family

It has been a very nice couple of days for me. I think I earned it with all the work I have been doing! I went up for another two day lesson at my trainer's place, and it was just great. She has tons of different sheep- some heavy, some light, some not dog broke, you name it. That makes for some great training opportunities for me and my dogs!

Danny did well, though his outrun needs to be deeper- his left flank seems to have gotten less good, so that translates into less than optimal outrun/lift. I am going to have to send him, and then run up to the sheep to make my presence known. I don't want to raise my voice at the lift, because he is finally getting confident doing it, but he is sensitive enough that my presence and a little get out" as he gets to about 9:00-10:00 should help.

We worked on driving and I am better at doing/going where I need to, and Danny actually did a box!!! He is very responsive to my stops and my flank commands, but we will need to work on inside flanks for a long time, I suspect. He is walking up nicely on sheep, and has lost a little of the stop/stay there, so I will have to be careful to give him a steady versus a stand. and Require absolute obedience when I ask for a lie down.

Lucy got to work a few big groups, and that's really her forte- no losing sheep on the sides for her. Lucy didn't get a lot to do, but what she did, she enjoyed!

On the way home, we picked up a hay manger, and while there, we were invited to try Danny in a packed pen with some well dog broke, and not mean sheep. I had wanted to do this, but I didn't know if he was ready.... This person knows their stuff, so when they invited, I was all for it.

So, he takes Danny in, and at first, Danny indiscriminately bites some sheep. But, then, Danny started taking the flanks around. At first, he would meet resistance in the form of sheep's butts, but then he would gently try to bite the hocks. Then, he started pushing past against the wall. Then, it was my turn. I got in there, and Danny did as I asked, and I got some reminders of what to do and not to do. Well, that boy was so good. At one point he was literally faced with a sheep who did could not move, and faced him. So, I encouraged him to bite her face, and he *almost* got the courage, he hung in there long enough that she turned, and then, a few times he got in the faces of some other sheep, you could see it was a different dog. We will do this again, but I am stoked for how well it went.

On the way home, that was interesting. The hay manger was too big to allow the door to shut, so we tied the door down and Lucy was in the front seat, and Danny on a ledge that we made out of plywood for the space between back seat and front seat. Danny slept and did not move, until we pulled into the farm. He was soooo tired.

Got the hay manger unloaded, chatted with my brother for a bit, and then home. I got home to see my momma Parakeet was all puffed up- not good. I looked and saw one feeder was just about out of seed, and the other was 1/2 full. Well, apparently, momma will only go to one feeder (the empty) and thusly went a bit hungry. So, I immediately refilled "her" feeder, and left them be.

Then, Danny, who had an eye irritation earlier, showed up with a very painful/squinty eye. Off to the vet we rush. No corneal scratch, and basically chalked up to an allergic/irritation reaction.

THEN, we finally get home. LONG day, but in general a great one!!!!!!!!!!!

PS: Momma Parakeet is back to normal this morning :)