Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gates are fussy

Putting up gates is "fussy" work, as my friend calls it.  To do it right, you need the right tools, a little bit of thoughtfulness to figure out how to shift, adjust, lube, and pound things into place.  Luckily, Charlie and I work well together and want it done right.  Yesterday after work, I met Charlie at the farm, and we set forth finishing the two gates we hung.  Well, that's not quite right- we had to add another post to each, a dummy post as it were, to each gate opening, since my brother put the gate posts too far apart (DOY!)  Anyway, we went up to one gate and I had a couple extra 6" posts that I had leftover from doing the fields, and since we were not going to set them in the ground (ergo the dummy post designation) we needed to timber lock them to the set post.  See, we needed about another foot or more, I can't remember, so the gate would meet a post. So, we cut the dummy post height to be same as set post, and the left over post parts we lay horizontal like an H brace and used timber locks to attach them to the set post and dummy post.  Not that happy with it, but will be pounding in a T post to ensure things are set.  Pretty sturdy, but Charlie and I both know it isn't the best way.  However, if I wait for my brother to dig a hole, let's just say I could hire blind Chipmunks and they would get it done faster.... Anyway, we did the upper field gate and then the gate to the middle field.  Then, we stopped.  I was just beat yesterday.  All I really wanted to do was go to sleep.  It's so annoying, but this happens. So, we went through what still needed to be done and then called it a day.  Charlie offered to keep helping me in return for another lamb, so this is very very good news!
Having help is a God send.  Some things- fencing and gate work, you just can't do alone (at least I can't).

Sheep are good,  grass is still in really good shape, and the resting field looks good too- coming back nicely.  The ram has really filled out- he's downright chunky.  My lambs are still attached to their momma's- calling them when they wander too far, but mama's don't come running... 

Didn't sleep well last night- Ginger decided to start to puke right near my head, and then she was being bothered by boy kitty when she tried to come back to the bed, after I took her off.  Then, at some point Joe decided to chew his bone, and THEN at 4:45 am, Ginger decided to meow in my ear.  Good Lord animals.  Night time is for sleeping.  Today I have an appt for Kylie and Nikke- their yearly appointments. 

Well, that's it for now.
Good information- underscoring need for managed grazing for health of land and animals.

Episode 47 - Sustainable Beef from Kevin Kossowan on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Temple Grandin=CAF=JK ? FOR REAL?

Okay, have you ever secretly wondered if someone was so enamored of themselves that they began to get delusional about themselves?  Delude themselves into believing the BS they spew forth each day?  That their following of simpering sycophants some how validates their actual knowledge?  Well folks, I have heard it all- CAF compares themselves and JK to Temple Grandin?  FOR REAL???  Hmmm.  Now, I know when I go to the post in open this weekend, and have a real crook in my hand, I am the same as Alasdair MacRae- just so you know, k?
Not sure where I left off- oh yeah- whining about heat- it was really bad though.  I was a bit off for the next day or two.  Note to self: when it is difficult to just breathe outside, then it is probably not wise to do heavy labor out in it...

Saturday morning I woke up extremely dizzy.  So dizzy I was ill.  I actually got sick.  I have not puked in decades- I am healthy when it comes to that.  I must have gotten sick 5-6 times.  Later, I went to a walk in clinic and got some Meclazine, which is basically non drowsy Dramamine.  Worked well.  I knew I had to be in good form this week- very busy at work and the trial this weekend. 

Sunday I worked all day, and Monday was a long one too.  We are short handed.  After work yesterday, I went up to the farm and vaccinated the lambs I got from John (all ewes).  It was funny, I grabbed the first one and put it on it's hiney, and I see a little bump... hey, that's not a girl!  Finally it registered to me that this was my wether.  Ah, so he got to be free (he's done with his vaccinations).  Dan was extremely helpful and I learned if I am quiet with my commands he is much calmer.  I have a lot to remember.  The sheep are doing well, digging into their minerals as usual.  I want to buy a mineral feeder (one of those things that has something like a weather vane on it)- I may contact Sydell and see if they will be at the Mass Sheep and Wool festival (or if another vendor will) and get one from them at the festival.  Now that my numbers are up,  we go through a lot more of the minerals.

I got home last night and cleaned.  I swear, I spend more time procrastinating about cleaning than I do actually doing it.  Got the whole house vacuumed and folded and put away laundry.  Today I may dust.  The dust is incredible.  I would certainly like a maid...........

Later this week we have to finish hanging the gates and I want to make a smaller paddock for Joey to work in.  My fields are treacherous with all the trees.  Not sure how much we will get done, but will aim to finish it all.  I have to call the hay guy too.  Would like to get the hay in the barn soon.

Well, that's it for now.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Ain't cut out for this!

I made plans to meet Charlie at the farm to get some gates hung (as a barter for the lamb I sold him).  Of course I knew it was going to be hellishly hot, but I decided I had to make good use of help when it was available.  So, he came by the farm, we went and picked up the gates I had bought TWO years ago, and brought them to the places they were to be installed.  Then I took notes of materials we would need.  We then headed up to Tractor Supply.  Besides the pins I wanted to get some combo panels to make up the small paddock that I use for lambing.  The sheep scuttled out of it this year- I just used cheap welded wire.  But, the panels that I thought were on sale were not- only cattle panels and those will not work- the openings are too large and lambs could get out.  Crud.  So, I ended up buying another roll of sheep and goat.  It was on sale, but still $259.00.  More money.  I swear I need to buy stock in Tractor Supply. 

Anyway, when we got back to the farm we set forth hanging the first gate. The brackets on all these old gates were rusted, so to loosen them too a bit of WD-40 and elbow grease. Charlie and I worked well together and in a bit of time, we got a gate hung.  Then, we moved on to another.  We got one pin set and then we had to take a water break.  We were dripping with sweat seriously- it was akin to taking a shower with your own perspiration... After the break, we put the last pin in and finished for the day.  I was a bit dizzy and I could not go further.  I went home and had a sandwich for lunch/dinner, and then I just had to chill.  Dogs were out for a short time and then in, and they all just lay on their sides.  Even boy kitty was flat out.  The a/c in the bedroom was on and so was a fan, but still too warm.  Joey did not fuss at all being crated as he had played with Dan in the living room and got hot just doing that.

I had a fitful night of sleep, as I knew we would be busy at work the next day, and did not sleep great.  Still do not feel 100% owing to working in the heat.  We still have four more gates to hang.  I sure hope Charlie comes back, but if not, I feel like I could do it myself, if I had to- which I hope I don't have to.

One more day of this oppressive heat and then back to normal, thank goodness.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A word to the wise

Okay, it has come to my attention that there is some confusion about "grass fed" and what it means.  Well, it's a loose oft used term, that many people bandy about to show that they are keeping their animals in a way that the buyer would like them to be. Sheep are ruminants, that is, they have a multi-chambered stomach and it's evolved that way to eat grass.  Eat a bit, bring up some cud, chew it again.  It all makes for very good utilization of fodder.  But, the issue that has come up, is some folks are touting that their animals are grass fed  (like the picture at the top), but in reality, they are in a pasture that looks like the bottom picture year round and are fed hay 365 days a year.  Now, yes, you can get good hay (though with each day stored it loses just a tiny bit of nutrients- especially if sunlight hits it).  When I go to the farmer's market and ask to buy grass fed lamb, I do not picture a paddock eaten down to nothing with sheep standing at piles of hay in the spring/summer/fall (winter that's normal around here).  That's like me saying that I am a writer, when I put together a compendium of my blog posts and publish it.  Sort of, I guess, but not really.  Sheep LOVE grass and will do anything to get to it.  You will notice that sheep that have grass don't escape, or try to.  They are just happy in all that green stuff.  You hold back the green stuff and they will climb any fences- hot or not, to get to it.  To all my fellow good shepherd peeps, sorry about this little rant, but I hope you know I got your backs- and want to show the general public what is actual good shepherding is and is not-  a small field, add some sheep and instant expert.  Okay, done with my sermon for today :)


Here are some pics I took today.  The first pic is that of the ram lamb and, I think, his mother.  He's not quite three months yet, but he's really looking good.  The second pic is the only one I got of him alone- he tends to try and hide behind other sheep.  You can see the thickness of his neck/shoulders and his back legs.  Other than his ear set- they are turned a little back in the second pic, but they are not as erect as I would like, I like him a lot.  Too many Cheviots these days are built like tubes on legs.  It's really atrocious.  Border Cheviots are meat sheep.  When you have tall skinny sheep, you don't have meat sheep anymore! By the way, he and all the other lambs are grass fed- they got a little bit of grain when their mothers ate for the first two weeks, but since they have been out on pasture the last month and a half just plain grass.   The last pic is of my Joe.  His ears change every single day.  He was quite happy being tied up there...  Wonder why?  Oh, there is the little matter of leaving the hose in his reach... Let's hope he didn't poke holes in it!

A friend of mine responded to my lilty email today, writing that I was in a grand mood.  Boy, that's cool- I guess I am.  I was not feeling great a few days ago, some days I just get so tired/exhausted that well, thank goodness for the animals or I would never get out of bed!  I am pretty happy I guess.

I may or may not get those gates up tomorrow- gotta see if Charlie will come or not.  If we do do the work, then we have to start early, as it's going to be HOT.  Weds and Thurs heat indices in the 100s.  Yuck.

Joe is becoming a handful.  He wants to work the other dogs; especially Lucy.  That's a big no-no.  He's her size now, so I think she will have to end up telling him off.  I can't have her loose when I run Dan and Lucy because Dan and Joe tag team to work Lucy.  It's just bad behavior and someone will get hurt.  Joe really needs to start working now.  But, I do not have a pen and I need to rectify that.  I will see if Charlie and I can get one set up.  Not sure if my adult ewes can do the job (be worked by a pup), and if not, I am not sure I want to bring in new sheep with unknown health status.  So, we shall see....

I was driving in to work this morning, and that Lee Greenwood song "God Bless the USA" came on, and I got tears in my eyes.  It's almost a Pavlovian response.  Of course I think of 9/11, but more so as time wears on, I just think of how proud I am to be American.  Even though it's popular these days to avoid saying such things, I will stick to my guns on this.

Work, yes, do you all have day jobs?  I bet most of you (us) do.  It's a necessary evil, and for me, I do get a bit of reward out of what I do for a living (I work with animals) and well, I like to get up and out during the day.  I think if I worked from home, say, had a farm, I would be itching to go somewhere each day...... But, I don't know if that will ever happen.  I figure everything we do happens for a reason.  I have my father's work ethic (he still works full time and is in his 70s).  I have never not worked- since I can remember...  What's the point of saying this?  If you are happy doing what you are doing (whatever that is) go ahead and keep doing it.  Don't question "should I try and work from home?" unless you want to.   It reminds me of the Internet dating world- many singles join because they think they would/should be happier with another in their life, but many of us are dang happy alone....

The video I put up is just me trying to get some shots of my ram lamb.  He's pretty fabulous and he will be kept as a breeder, some where.  You just don't see that look anymore in Cheviots.

Well, that's it for now, hope you enjoy the video and are enjoying your week!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

On the run.....

Sorry I have been AWOL.  I have been really really busy, and I find that I am not all that fun/creative when I am running sun up to sun down...

Anyway, let's start with Thursday.  The day of the Cemetery tours.  Got there and another woman named Christine and I gave tours to six groups of 4th graders. It went well, but went on for three hours.  I was SPENT after that.  Right after that, I went to the farm to meet the guy who was buying my ram lamb- he had to go as he was mounting the girls.  He is not breeding quality, so he will end up on the family's plate this fall. He's going to that nice farm I mentioned, and has two other ram lambs to keep him company- all reports thus far tell me he is doing great.  In payment for the lamb, I took a check, and will hold it, until Mr G and I get some gates installed (we have like 10 to put up) and some other tasks.   I think this is how I would like to sell my sheep from now on!  My brother is too busy to help and this way, the work gets done!   After the lamb left, I went home had some lunch and then off to John's to help with shearing.

I had to use Lucy to funnel them into the area to be sheared, and then I waited as I was bringing three more ewe lambs home.  It took them about 2.5 hours to do all the sheep.  When we finished, John noticed that the adult excellent quality ram was missing.  This is not good.  So hard to come by decent Cheviot sheep, and he was a keeper.  John has no idea what happened- he's no where in the fields/barns.

I went to my friend's place and worked Dan, and I also gave Joe a shot at the sheep.  Still too young to train, but each time I get out there, he thinks more... He's certainly a confident bloke on them.

Today, Father's day, I will head up to see my dad, stop at the farm and then I think I am just going to chill.  I made a *really* nice steak with corn on the cob yesterday, and will have leftover steak today.  This summer is going to fly by, I just know it.  Which, is okay by me, because owing to my Norwegian blood- I hate the heat/humidity!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What's life without a little pleasure?

Yeah?  What is it?  If not now, when?  I have never been one to throw caution to the wind, but I have learned that you should not put off until tomorrow, what you can do today (unless it's laundry of course!).  For say, the last six years (I had an epiphany back then), I have always scheduled something fun each week.  As time goes on, I seem to schedule more and more.... Nothing big; perhaps dinner with my friends/sister, or working dogs with friends, or taking walks with friends- anything, just to get out the usual humdrum routine.  I love routine, don't get me wrong and I am not a big traveler, but I do like to change things up here and there.  Lately, my change up seems to be sheep related, and dog related.  It's cool.  At the end of the day, I still go home to my little house and look forward to a quiet night, reading a book.  Do yourselves a favor- when work becomes all you do, or are, run- don't walk to a hobby you like.  Work will not miss you when you leave it- you will miss the life you did not lead when you go....

Okay, on a different note.  Today is busy; I have to go to a Dr. appt this morning (they reminded me that if I do not show they will charge me- isn't that nice?).  Then, I have to meet my mother to go over what I have to say at a walking tour of my Church's Cemetery- a tour to like 140 elementary school kids. Can I say that this is sort of the *last* thing I would ever want to do? I can just see me saying "get off those headstones!"  "stop running around!"  Well, I guess we all have to get out of our comfort zones sometimes (let's pray for rain, so it's canceled!).  After the brush up, I have to go meet with the guy who is buying my ram lamb- he needs company for the other one he has.  Later, I will send the second ram lamb to him.  I don't want him going yet, as he is a bit too young.  THEN, I have to go help John with shearing- specifically, he asked for Lucy's help.  I think red tag ewe and Lucy will have to have a serious meeting of the minds.  THEN, after shearing we will load up the rest of the ewe lambs that are ready to go, and I will bring them to my place.  After all of that, I will go home and chill- and begin washing my filthy clothes.

Later this week is the Cemetery tour and then getting together with my friend to work dogs.  Phew.  Life sure is busy.  Yes, I do work full time, but I live full time too.

Well, that's all the news from Lake Wobegon!

Monday, June 11, 2012

This is how you do it

The lamb that was caught went to a small farm not too far from us.  They called me to ask how much they should feed it (grain) and other questions.  I told them what I would tell anyone- and that is what I learned- feed 1/4 lb for for days and then up it by 1/4 after 5-7 days.  Since the lamb is not on grain normally, a big load of feed could kill him, especially since he is not vaccinated.  They also asked if I would come over and look at their set up to see if it was good.  Wow, this is refreshing. I am no expert, but since they have not had sheep before (they have Goats) they are seeking information/help from someone who does.  Isn't that great? Instead of just winging it, they go forward thoughtfully.  Anyway, after spraying the White Snake Root with Roundup yesterday, I headed over there.  It was extremely warm and muggy yesterday, so I was a bit overdone when I got there. 

When I pulled in I saw a nice little farm.  They only have 7.5 acres, but they have everything put together well.  There was no smell, there was no piles of rotten hay, there was just a working farm.  Te husband is a retired P/O and the wife is a nurse.   You can tell that this place is a labor of love for them.

I opened the car up for the dogs and heard Mr. G call me over to behind the barn.  Mrs G and a friend were just finishing up processing some chickens. They had the whole deal- the cones set up on a wood frame, the wiz banger chicken plucker and a table, all very clean.  They were wearing aprons, but I saw nothing visceral.  Later, I checked out the ten chickens they had processed- they were cooling in a tank of water.  Clean, meaty and well, basically what you expect to see if you took your chicken out of the freezer and put it in water.  I made a mental note to buy chickens from them, or maybe even learn to process chickens from them.  They sell at farmers markets, and have a good steady stream of customers.

Then, we continued on the farm tour... The bigger paddock had one Angus heifer standing in a run in shed- she looked great.  Shed was clean and good grass available.  They told me about her, and some others they have had- she's actually an Angus cross.  They raise one or two a year.  I noticed that for fence posts, this guy used telephone poles!  Talk about sturdy, and each one was as plumb square and level as possible.  They had high tensile wire and it was also done well- six strands I believe. 

Then, I checked out the pigs, all heritage breeds- some Red Wattles, Tamworths, and I believe, a cross of the two.  The digs for the pigs were great.  They were on cement, and as was explained to me, they tried dirt, but it was impossible to keep clean.  They went to cement with sheds- one shed was a converted GIANT walk in fuel tank, that had been completely over-hauled and affixed to the ground.  In the other pens there were some nice sheds, for them.  They all had spigots of water going slow, so the pigs could cool off.  I suggested that if they wanted to, they could get short/low stock tanks for the pigs to mud in.  He made a mental note.  That way you can keep their housing clean, but allow them some good environmental enrichment and a more natural way of life.  I will say, I have never seen such nice looking, happy pigs.

Then, I checked out the horses.  One, named Beatrice is a twenty one year old Belgian, who hangs out with a little mini horse, who is identical to Beatrice in coloring, just a mini me of her. Cute as heck.  They also had a Thoroughbred that they were given.  The Thoroughbred had a foot injury that they were treating as I was there.   Then there were the four goats- two Nubians and two goat kids, kids from those- the Nubians had been bred to a Boer goat.  The kids were Boer goats in looks.  The Goats were allowed to walk around the place, and followed us back into their paddock when we went to see the lambikin (that's what I call lambs) you pronounce it "Lammiekin".  Anyway, there he was.  There was no more limp (that they had told me about the day before).  He looked good, albeit thin from his foray into the woods, and all that chasing.  The little paddock was more than sufficient, and I saw him eating some grass and wondering a little when I was there.  I suggested that they worm him, and was asked with what, how much, etc..  I told them that under stress lambs can die very quickly, and stress can cause the worm population in their bodies to explode.  Mr. G told his wife in front of me that they need to worm him asap.  I appreciated that he took it to heed.  Another good sign of good conscientious farmers.

Mr. G showed me the barn he built- top shelf again, and also the feed room. Neat and clean as can be.  They used screw top metal barrels for their feed, and he went through the line up of what food is in what.  He also showed me some meat chickens still in a brooder.  This was a man very proud of his place.  As I walked around with him I could see the pride of the work they do, the care of the animals and how they are always trying to improve things.  When Joel Salatin wrote the book "You Can Farm" this is what he was talking about.

As I was getting ready to leave, a farrier came in to work on the horse with the hurt foot.  I watched as she trimmed away they horn a bit to open up the abscess.  She had been there earlier, but this was a second call.  I recalled many hours holding horses for farriers for just such purposes, and suggested Icthamol which will draw out any infection.  The farrier suggested the same thing- that put cotton on the bottom of the foot and wrap with vet wrap.  Boy does all that bring back memories.

It was soon time for me to leave, and I bade them good bye, and told them I would be in touch (they will be getting a ram lamb from me).

I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see people taking such good care of their animals.  Animals that they will ultimately eat.   It makes sense to be that way, but I have seen just the opposite.  To some there is some sort of un-written rule that says- spend as little as possible because these animals owe it to us, or some such garbage.  I am going to try and get these folks to maybe put together a work shop on chicken processing, and a farm tour.  These are the people we need to learn from.  These are the people who are the real stewards of the land, and animals; the real farmers.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sell that dog

I haven't been doing this sheepdog thing very long.  I guess one would term me a neophyte in it. It's only been since 2006 that I started, and most of the first years doing that, I spent learning a lot, but thinking I knew a lot more than I did.  I suppose it's sort of expected in some ways; you start a dog who looks to learn fast and you immediately think it has something to do with you as a trainer.  In truth, it's more 80% the mentor/trainer, 19% the dog and 1% you.  But, in all endeavors relating to animals, it's variable- your reward and your punishments.

Lucy is a Kelpie who is 3/4 working bred and 1/4 show bred.  When I got her, I wanted a dog to do agility with, and I trusted her breeder, and the sire's breeder (one of the most well known members of the Working Kelpie Council in Australia- in fact, a charter member).  When I got Lucy it just so happened that agility had been falling out of favor with me.  My older Kelpie was doing well, but I began to lose my interest in agility when it became more about "criteria" and "yps" (yards per second), than a fun competitive sport with your dog.

So, I innocently started my time in sheep herding.  Lucy immediately amazed me at how she knew what to do with the sheep.  That was all that was needed to light the flame in my sheep herding interest.  As time wore on, I did what all other novices do in sheep herding- went to lessons, clinics, and I even sent Lucy to a trainer for three weeks.  That was the hardest part for me, for I was not a tough owner yet- one who would like to say good bye to her dog for a few weeks. After three weeks Lucy came back to me.  I will say that when I went to pick her up, she acted so oddly- she smelled me, but was not effusive and almost ignored me, but stayed extremely close.  I knew that from then on, I would have to keep her with me and muddle through any issues.  She learned a lot of good things while away, and I am grateful for that.

Lucy did okay in the novice novice classes.  We even won once at Fetch Gate.  I chuckled a little as the placements were read, starting at 10, and then, when we got to number one, the announcer said "And, first place goes to... hmmmm... Julie Williams and Lucy".  Wow.  That was big for me!  A memory I will not ever forget.

As life wore on, I ended up with a Border Collie pup, as I wanted another dog to train/work with. I really wanted another Kelpie, but I was extremely picky, and just did not see anything that I wanted.  There are a lot more Kelpies out west, and that would have helped my search a lot, I believe.  I then ended up leasing some land from my brother, and fenced a field and then another.  My BC was coming on nice, but I always used Lucy for the hard stuff- I even used her on my brothers full grown steers (1800 lbs each of them).  Anything I asked of her, she did, and never quit.  The loyalty and ability to think on their own is one of the best and worst attributes of the Kelpie.  I say worst, because when trialing, you need obedience as much as you need instinct and Lucy's instinct won over her obedience just about every time.  No more trialing for Lucy.  It just did not enhance anything for us, and it frustrated me.  I had an offer to buy her recently, and entertained it for a while, as Lucy also has taken a strict distaste to the other bitches in the house.  But, when it came right down to it, I knew I could not sell her.  I know that some probably thought me weak, but they have not seen Lucy throw it ALL down for me.  Take on the steers coming at her.  Take on sheep who came up behind her and pummeled her, the list goes on.  Recently, my ram who was not dog broke decided to give Lucy what for.  He went after her - which caught her by surprise, and then, when he tried it again, Lucy gave him an attitude adjustment that serves us to this day. No more trouble from that ram.  NONE.

Lucy doesn't get a lot of regular work, but I do pull her out when needed- like mustering the flock at my friend's place- an unbroke flock of Cheviots, who are basically feral- not handled, and not dog broke.  They will come at a dog and do what they can do remove it's presence permanently.  It takes a WHOLE lot of guts from a dog to come around the other side of 50 mean mothers and lambs and have them come at you and keep going on.  They will tag team and come from both sides.  Lucy always wins though, always.

So, this has been a long lead up to our most recent events.  Which go as follows:

I had met a guy who had a farm nearby who wanted to buy a couple of of ram lambs from me to raise for meat.  I lost his card, but wanted to try and look him up.  That day, I was driving home and saw the guy in his truck with a placard with the name of his farm!  What luck!!!!  So, I did an internet search, found their phone number, and called them.  The wife answered.  She told me her husband was out looking for three loose lambs in the town of Poughkeepsie.  They had been contacted by the animal control officer of the town, since the have a farm, and were helping her to try and catch the lambs.  The lambs were hanging out in someone's back yard near a swing set.  I offered to bring my dogs, thinking maybe Dan would be best (my 3 yr old BC), but I brought Luce, as I call her, just in case.  I get there, and after the farmers back the trailer up, we go into the back yard and no sheep.  No sign of them.  They had been chasing them all day.  Okay.  Well, let me get Lucy, and I will send her.  We walk into the woods, and I see it's FULL of excellent sheep food- Autumn Olive, Honeysuckle, you name it.  I shush her and no sign of them.  Mr G as I will call him (the farmer), and I walk and walk through the woods. No sign.  He suggest we drive the car down by the police dog training facility down the hill from the woods and check in there.  So, I put a hot Lucy in the car, give her water, turn up the a/c and we go.  No sign.  So, back to the place we started, and after Lucy was cooled off, we started looking again.  We walk a little further and I see a Coyote den.  Coyote den openings are quite large enough for a large dog to get in, and they also always have a back door.  This gives me pause.  Coyotes are extremely protective of their dens.  You get within 50 ft of their den, and the normally reclusive animal will turn just the opposite and will take on any canine.  We finally get back to the place we started (again) and I am telling  Mr. G, that he should give his information to the neighbors (Lucy is still working) when I see three lambs run by.   The elation I first felt was over come by the knowledge of knowing where these lambs came from.  They were from that feral flock my friend has.  These would NOT be easy to catch, if at all.

So, with that new information, we decide to move to the other side of the woods, where they were running to, and drove over there.  I cooled Lucy off again, and rested her.  Mr. G and I, started on one end, and his wife and the animal control officer on the other, so we could squeeze them, and Lucy could have a chance of  getting them. It was getting really humid by this time and I didn't really want to keep trying- sort of a lost cause.  Anyway as we started in, Lucy took off on a track near a house, and Mr G told me that that is exactly where the sheep had gone through.  Lucy was tracking these sheep like a scent dog, and I had never trained her to do that.  Simply "Look" and "ssshh" was all she was given as a command.  As we near the house, here comes Lucy fetching me three lambs who were running for all they were worth.  They split into three.  One ran back toward the woods, and two toward us.  One then split to the front of the house.  I watched and then I saw it.  This house was on a huge rock cliff.  Lucy took off after that lamb and was gone.  I honestly was afraid for my dog.  We see one lamb laying down and it took off before we could get to it.  Then, the two other women looking came up telling us they saw a Coyote. That was all I needed to end this search.  Lucy would be NO match for a Coyote.  So, I start calling her.  Lucy finally comes to me.  Exhausted.  It was bad.  She flop down at my side, and lay there.  I ring the bell of the owner of the house and ask if he has a hose so I can cool off my dog.  I pick Lucy up and she was limp- her head flopped upside down as I carried her.  I get the hose on her and cool her off at her femoral and radial arteries and then, I have Mr G get my car.  Lucy could not walk at this point.  She was so exhausted.  She had given all she had to get me those sheep.  ALL she had.  I put her in the car, and she lay down and when we got home she took a well deserved nap.

I wrote this story, because I think it needs to be read.  Too many of us who do this sheepdog trialing thing, believe that if the dog won't make it as a trialing dog, it could go on to be a "farm" dog, as a consolation some how.  A farm dog, big whoop.  A sheepdog is so much more than "farm" or "trial" dog, it's heart, loyalty, brains and companionship second to none.  You are nothing if you don't have at least one dog like this, and if you pass on dogs who have this, because they don't win, then you are the ones missing out.

Below is a map of the search area. You will see Ireland Drive- the wooded section to the right of that was where we searched.  To the right of the woods is the Police Dog training facility.

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

The other day I got an invitation to go work dogs with a well known handler.  At first, I was nervous, but that passed; I think I have finally gotten to a point where it isn't about how we do, it's about how I learn, and how my dogs learn.  We were immediately put through our paces, and I got some good suggestions on handling Dan, and Dan did well.  I think it is because I was *not* nervous.  This is big folks!  Dan even shed three sheep.  I was stoked!  I feel like I have come a long way, but now that we are going to run in open, that I just sort of stepped on a really really long escalator that will keep breaking down as we go.   That scares me, but I know in my heart of hearts, that I, and Dan need the challenge.  We need to go to the post and be a team and learn together.  Wow.  It's sort of amazing.  I got a taste of what it's like to run with the big boys at our last trial- and it was extremely humbling.  Wow.  It took me a day to recover... which isn't bad.  But, it's sort of like when you go to grab a lamb for processing (shots/worming) and it gets away- you are upset at first, but then, you go forward and vow to catch that little bugger better next time...  So, that's where were are. 

After I worked Dan, I put Joe on some sheep.  He's going around, covering, not afraid of going between fence and sheep and will walk straight into them with a strength of conviction I have not seen in such a young pup.  This last part drew some good compliments from the onlookers, and when we stopped, Joe was just as cool and collected as he normally is.   I cannot wait to be able to train him.  Going to give him another month or two to grow up, and then we will start in earnest.

The sheep are doing well.  My sister asked me how many I have, and I couldn't answer really fast, because I count in terms of adult ewes, my lambs, the new lambs and the ram.  Total for now is 16.  My oldest in tact ram lamb is starting to ride all the ewes, so he has to go soon.  He's slated to be a breeding ram (apparently he heard that) so, signs are there that he will be ready to do the job when it is given to him. 

Today I give my lambs their second set of Cd/T shots and then, in another few weeks, the new lambs get theirs, and then we are all done for shots  until the spring.  I don't mind giving shots anymore- I have a technique that seems to work.  You have to know your sheep- that's the big thing.

John called to let me know the shearer is coming next week.  Lucy will be pressed into service.  I am beginning to feel bad for her, because these sheep are nasty.  I would just prefer to use a bull whip (the sound would move them) and people.  There is one red tagged ewe that always tries for Lucy.  Lucy needs to give her the old college try, and teach her that there is no going after her.  I don't blame the sheep; as they come and go as they like and are not handled, and the only other canines they see are ones that want to eat them.

That's it for now everyone.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

After a serious low in energy yesterday, I plodded forward after work, and set to pulling that white snake root.  EGADS it got REALLY bad where I already pulled it.  I think for this plant, the secret is pulling it after the stems have turned red, so they are stronger.  You really need to get the plant out root and all, or thanks to it's long tap root,  twenty more pop up in it's place.... I may have to go with Round-Up on this stuff. It's that bad.  If it were not poisonous, I would not be worried about it, but it is.  If we get a drought and the sheep think about trying it, all it takes is 1% of their body weight to kill them, and it's a cumulative deal, in that they can eat tiny bits until it gets to lethal dose... What a pain.  I know more about this weed then I ever wanted to.  As I weeded yesterday, Joe kept me company in the field.  He's great company :)  Every time I walked to the pile, he ran ahead to show me where it was.

When I got home last night, I commenced vacuuming the house. I LOVE my new vacuum.  I cannot believe all it gets out of the carpets.  After that, I used the Furminator on the dogs.  Another awesome tool. Would not be without it.  I even went out to the yard where kitty was sitting, and used it on him- he LOVED it.  Gets down and basically massages them.  I don't it too long, as it's heavy duty grooming, but in a few days, all that undercoat is gone!

So, the house is clean(er) and dogs are good.  Today, I deal more with the snake root and I want to try and work Dan.  Separating all the sheep should be fun, since the meat chickens are now in my separating room.  Hope they go soon.  They smell, and well, I am just not a big chicken lover.

It was downright chilly last night.  Had to pull out the chenille robe and drape it over the bed for a little extra warmth. Kitty LOVES chenille- the minute he detected it, he got up and lay on it and purred.   It's the little things, don't you know?

Today, I do want to hit Barnes and Noble to stock up on some summer reading.  I love that store...........

Well, that's it for now!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Looks to be wet for most of the week.  This is getting rather annoying at this point.  I am planning to get Dan to several different places to work this week, but I may not be able to.  I suppose today, I will work on the snake root weed that is coming up AGAIN in the field.  I am not sure what to do.  Don't want to use chemicals, but want it gone- perhaps a flame thrower?  I only say that partially in jest....

I am still sore from the lamb lugging I did on Sat.  Surprisingly my neck isn't too bad, basically just mainly sore where my arms meet my torso- too much hugging I guess.

Joe is getting big.  I think he's officially larger than Dan at this point- not heavier, but taller.  He plays well with Dan now, and even gets Kylie to play a bit.  He's sure a nice dog.  Confident but biddable.  I do like him, and I love his eyes, such a nice look to him.

Gave minerals yesterday and the sheep dove in again.  They seem to really love these minerals.  I keep minerals out year round for them, but try not to put it out when it is raining, as these are loose minerals and will be ruined if wet- meaning, the sheep will not eat them.  Anyway, when I put them out my flock came up and started in on them, and the new lambs had to wait their turn.  Any time you put new sheep in a flock, they have to learn their place.  It's rather orderly, but there can be a little butting, if the new guys don't wait their turn.  That's why you *never* bring one sheep to your place, the more the better.

The new lambs look good, save for one who had a limp, which I believe is due to the vaccination (we give them sub-cutaneously behind the arm pit.  This can happen, and I will watch her carefully.  I am extremely happy with their health and size.  Now I've got 12 ewes.  That's a good place to be.  There's still a few more I could get from John, but this is good for now.

Not much going on right now.  Just the usual stuff.  Sort of nice.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The moving of the lambs

Yesterday morning was not very nice, it was steadily raining when I pulled into John's.  The sheep were in the barn yard, and I had to get them in a smaller area before I could start catching lambs.  I had to use Lucy for that, and being that some have young lambs, it was tough.  They were coming after her and it was not fun.  Lucy and I finally got them in there and I caught the lambs.  I caught 11 of the biggest, and then I rode with John to my place.  I had to carry them 100 ft each way, is my best guess.  Now, some of these are pushing 70 lbs.  I had to carry them in front of me.  It was extremely tiring.  I finally got it done.  And I was FILTHY to the BONE.  Wet, dirty sheep.  I went home to shower and get clean clothes on before my friend showed up to pick up her lambs.

When the three of them arrived, we went to lunch first, as I warned them that being in public would not be a good thing after smelling like wet sheep...

So, then we get back, and I drew up all the syringes, and we assigned jobs to everyone.  It went like a well oiled machine.  Then it was time to carry them to the trailer.  Only 7 were going but by the last one, well, I was done for the day.  I put my new lambs out with the rest of my sheep, and headed home.  I collapsed into bed and watched Die Hard 2, which I could relate to how Bruce felt being pummeled over and over....

The top shot here is my carrying a hefty lamb to the trailer.  I had gotten good at doing it by now, 11 lambs three trips later...

 Here are my friend and I carrying them out of the barn to the trailer.

Here is me holding sheep- I caught, sat, and wormed them, and my friend injected the CD/T.

This morning I am contemplating a trip to Barnes and Noble, and then head up to the farm.  Dogs got no exercise yesterday, so they really need it.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Brought the flock back to the big field on Weds.  It was time to give a rest to the hill pasture and put them in the big one.  Grass and browse looks good in there, and the lambs will do well.  There is also a lot of nice shade in there, and that keeps them comfortable.  On Saturday, I go and get a bunch of ewe lambs from John for a friend of mine and I.  I will get them un-loaded and put them in a pen in the barn where they will be vaccinated and wormed.  I would tag, but it's fly season and I am loathe to risk fly strike at this point.  New lambs will be allowed to be just lambs for the time being.  It's a big thing to move animals, and I want them to have as smooth a transition as possible.  After this group of lambs come, I should be in good shape for having the number of ewes I want. 

One of my home bred lambs will be going on to be a flock sire at a friend of mine.  I am happy to see one of these guys go to make more like him.  Nice substance on these guys, and well, it sort of swells my chest to see them go on and instill the good characteristics they have, into others.  The mothers of the lambs all still have good milk- even the twin mother who's lambs are almost 12 weeks.  At this point the lambs just sort of sneak up for a feed, but mother allows it here and there.  I am following the methods of my friend John when it comes to this, no real weaning, it makes for a nice transition to adulthood and much less stress.  This may change in the future, but for me, now, it works.

Had a very good day yesterday.  Joey got his first for reals! try on sheep.  For reals, I mean that he was brought into a smaller pen and I tried my best to help him do the right thing.  The look in his eyes when he was done- was utter bliss...  Here we go!  I also worked Dan and as we were working, right in front of my friend and I popped up a baby fawn!  It ran to the fence line, and thankfully no dogs tried to cover it, and no mad momma came out to cream us or our dogs.  Wish I had video!

I bought a Furminator for the dogs.  WOW.  Where have you been all my life!?!  What a great tool.  Started on Dan, and will keep going for a few days.

Today after work is mow the lawn and string trim day- certainly not high on my list of fun things to do, but this sort of stuff has to be kept up with. 

Well, that's it for now, I hope everyone has a great day!!!!