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.