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.