Thursday, July 31, 2008
This has been the coldest summer on record.
We knew that. The garden knows that. Even the animals know it. My goodness have they been consuming the groceries around here!
So now that July is over with, the skies have parted and the sun is shining and temps are hitting in the upper 60's and low 70's for a few days anyways....
it's about time!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Murphy's Law prevails when you run a farm and try to derive some, not much, income from raising livestock for others as well as yourself. Hobby breeding of livestock is something else entirely. What I consider 'hobby' is when, if all your sheep died one week from some horrible poisoning, you would just take part of your off-farm paycheck and go out and buy some more. A serious breeder of livestock can't afford to do that unless of course you are very well insured as a commercial producer. Proving tho the actual value of the stock, above and beyond market meat prices, is impossible. You can't replace years of hard work in a breeding program...there is no replication of 5 year old ewes that produce triplets of show quality year after year after year and that represent 5, 10, or 15 years or more of a careful breeding program for certain traits. Nope, that ewe can never be replaced.
A few years back I had a couple of dogs come through during a few hours trip to town. They slaughtered all of our rabbits used for meat production, but worse, they killed all but one of my ducks. Ok, so we caught the dogs, animal control came out, and we settled with the owner of the dogs for the value of the livestock - but that was actual meat value, not what they represented ...........those were my HERDING ducks. From which I earn a little income. For which there were NO replacements available.....afterall, ducks used to dogs working them are not found at the local feed store or hatchery. Especially not a meat breed of ducks. No, I lost money, and training time and ability.
Now let's look at your sheep.........or mine so it makes it easier. I have 2 very special rams - the cornerstone to my breeding program. If something got into the ram paddock and killed them, where would I be come breeding season? Oh, you say go out and buy two more. Where? Where can *I* go to get them? Fly them up? Nope, I'm sorry, the airlines won't ship animals with nice big horns unless they are in a specially fabricated wooden crate with all the whistles and bells, and you can bet your bottom dollar it would cost $400-$500 or more to ship up one. Do you have $400 plus the cost of a ram in it's prime in your back pocket you'd like to just give me? I don't think you do, but if so I'll give you my mailing address! HA!
So, I've kept a son of the ram that I needed to sell...I didn't really need him but actually I do for his genetics. I would have kept Captain Hook's ram lamb too had he survived. Did I need to keep them -no, but DO I need to keep them - YES! They are the survival of my breeding program. Same for my ewes....I will not sell all of my ewe lambs. I must keep some - again, if anything happens to one of their mothers, I have my genetics still intact in my own yard.
Of course, if you have little space, then you may want to sell all of your lambs. But what if your favorite ewe dies? Do you have a lovely daughter to hug or gaze upon to remember her fondly by?? I have a few ewes in my unregistered flock that are 9 generations removed from the original ewe from which they descend. Yes, I remember my first 4 ewes fondly. I also know that I eliminated one of the lines of descendants after it was pretty clear that they were subject to bloat - the only sheep I have ever had bloat here. Any major stress and I'd be running with the bloat med to save them. It can be inherited, and when you use sheep for herding you need hardy sheep. In all fairness, it was a line descended from a ewe that was half Shetland and half Alaskan Mutt of unknown variety. Whatever was in there was not hardy, and one of the best things about Shetlands is that they are indeed very hardy. So they were sold off slowly but surely.
I know which of my registered foundation ewes I like better than others. I know that my criteria is pretty straightforward and defined. Do you know what your criteria is? What you will, and better yet, will not accept in your breeding stock? I hope that you do. Do you like the lambs from a particular ewe? If you don't but others do, then maybe that ewe is best in someone else's flock. You must be happy with the individuals you have, if not, why are you wasting your time? I had a great working wether here, but he liked to jump fences. I hate fence jumping. I put up with him for a while, but enough was enough. Do you have a mean ewe that bullies others in your flock but has beautiful lambs? Why are you keeping her? Why not keep one of her lambs and say good riddance! She may do much better elsewhere, she may behave better elsewhere and they will be happy to have her for her beautiful lambs.
I keep some lambs for their genetics, for their beautiful, and for their personalities. Afterall, I must care for them several times a day and it's just easier to care for the individuals you like and enjoy. And isn't it nice to have a son or daughter from your favorite ewe too? Hopefully your favorites are also some of your best. It makes for a good foundation for your breeding program!
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Aggie, my beloved shadow - ASCA High In Trial , one of at last count 13 HIT's she's earned. An amazing girl and the foundation to my kennel.
Dusty, Anna at Emberglo's Belgian Tervuren boy, finishing his AKC title.....
Shadow, owned by Julie, taking Reserve High in Trial and her HSAs title.....
Tango, owned by Sharon, and her AKC High in Trial winnings...this dog was amazing and fun!! Yeah, ok Sharon, she was brilliant and also full of herself too....a great dog.
Another Dusty photo, he is an awesome dog to work with a real stockdog brain that I love...and here he's taking High in Trial in AKC HSAs work....
One of my favorite dogs to work, my Betty who has incredible natural talent, taking Reserve High in Trial for her HSAs....
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
the rose is Strike It Rich, from Jackson and Perkins, and is a Grandiflora...be sure to click on the photo for a close up!
Awt is interesting....genetically it can enhance other colors. Now, Blanche is out of an Awt ewe by a Musket ram. As Blanche gets older, she's expressing more of her "Musket" side....
the first photo below is a group of lambs and one ewe. At the bottom right is Princess...flecket, yuglet...but look how white and bright her fleece is compared to Blanche's creamy colored fleece... click on the photo and you'll see it in a larger version....
Monday, July 14, 2008
Silly me, the only time I like the beach is when there's something worth watching in the water. Like whales. Maui in February, as the mother whales teach their babies to spy-hop. Popping up out of the water with their heads for a good look-see. Or, myself with a snorkle mask on looking down at the fish swimming around you...preferably in shallow water.
I liked walking the Michigan shoreline and looking for Petosky stones. That was always fun. But I was always lured inland to look at old farms and old houses and lovely fruit trees and perrenials that grew around the old farms.
I'm afraid I'm not much of a water lover, unless it's in a small boat and with a good fishing pole and good bait. I can sit out there all day fishing.
For whatever reason I prefer forests and alpine country and rivers and big creeks for fishing. I love to fly fish for Grayling. I think that is one of my most favorite pastimes that I miss doing. There is nothing like a big Grayling hitting your fly either dry and floating down a river or sinking deep into a hole, just right. And the taste of fresh Grayling skinned, rolled in flour, and fried in butter. Absolutely divine!
Salmon fishing is fun. I have a 58# female 1st run King I had professionally mounted years ago on my livingroom wall. 48 inches long. That was a great day...caught on 20 pound test too. And I've fished and caught many red salmon through the years, a great fighting fish when fresh to the rivers.
Camping out with a good mattress and sleeping bag and plenty of dry firewood in the middle of nowhere is a good thing. Even if it's in the back of the truck in nasty weather. Because I usually camped out next to a creek or river with good fishing to be had if the stars were all lined up right.
I think I need a vacation too! LOL!!
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
And the girls are working now for their living too.... this Friday, the 4th of July, starts 4 days of ASCA and AKC herding trials held here at our place followed by 2 days of herding clinics. So I'm getting the farm ready, the house set, and all the animals squared away because I'm going to be one very very busy person for the next 2 weeks! The sheep are sorted into groups of three that work well together, and are marked - color coded - so that the stock handlers know which 3 go out each time for a herding trial 'run'. The sheep are kept in 14 pens down at the arena in their respective groups of 3, fed and watered together, then at the end of the day all let loose into the big arena to graze and relax. It's a big management job to ensure they are happy and comfortable and handled easily. The grounds are about ready and all the facilities are almost ready for the 50 to 60 people that will be here each day. Yes, let's just do all this AND haying at the same time - EEEEEEEEK! But we'll get 'er done, we always do...and the girls earn some money to pay for their upkeep too! So if you don't 'see' me for a while, you'll know where I'm at, and it won't be inside the house! HA!