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.