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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Oh hello hello hello!

I'm back.... I went away for a little while. Not away from the farm of course, just away from the computer. Hello!!! What did I do wth nearly a month? Ahhhhh, that's easy...

500 square bales of hay and 19 round bales of haylage. I have personally picked up, at least once if not twice, every one of those 50#square bales. I am 50 year olds. Hmmm.... I see allot of 5's and 0's there - HAHA!

Also, there was a 2 day ADGA goat show nearby. I show my dairy goats, Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats. I took one of my girls - my breeding - and one of my boys - a yearling buck purchased from another herd. My girl took Sr. Grand Champion Doe the first day, Reserve Grand Champion the 2nd day. The next day was ADGA Linear Appraisals on 20+ goats... I'd never done it before, boy did I learn a few things.

Let's see what else - oh, last weekend we had another herding trial here again. ASCA herding venue, just one day one trial, got a good run and ualified with one of my girls, took 2nd place with another, and failed by making a bad handler mistake with my third dog. Got to love learning tho, we learn from mistakes very well!

Right now Rick's making raw goats milk cheddar cheese with 2 gallons of fresh goats milk... it will be ready for eating late in the fall when we crave eating cheese near the woodstove on a cold evening.

The sheep - well, as the herding season goes on, we find a few ewes that need to go bye bye. They are too sweet, too slow, too easy. They would be WONDERFUL for someone who wanted to start out a dog on calm sheep. They would be great for someone wanting a few sheep to keep their grass mowed. They don't cause any trouble, but they also don't move with the rest of the sheep any more. Nothing bothers them, they don't run, they just stop and graze and pretend the dog can't see them. That's ok...they will be happy in someone else's home. :-) The sheep are having a good summer. The sun has come back out, the mornings are cool, and now they can get more hay, more calories, and more interior body fat for the upcoming winter. Winter is never far away in the far north, just like way up in the mountains. Today is 78 degrees outside with the sun beating down - take away the sun and give us clouds instead, it would have only been 64 degrees. 64 is nice and warm still, but think of it as only 32 degrees above it's time to put their winter fat on, slowly but surely. Now it's time to go mow the lawn around the house, and give the sheep some nice fresh grass with a little clover in it. They will be happy with me in a little while when I arrive with their evening treat!

Friday, July 6, 2007

I'm back and the sheep did well!

Oh my I feel human again! My sheep are happy. They've been up at their shed for 2 days now. Lots of rest, lots of food, more rest, more food. Funny thing tho, after 5 days of working hard down at the herding arena, you'd think they'd never want to go back there.


Every morning I'd look out and there they were....standing by the gate that leads down to the arena. At first I thought maybe there was something that caught their eye down in the south hayfield...then in the late morning, same thing. Afternoon, a group would be at the gate. Evening again.

You know what? I think they wanted to go down to the arena! They like it down there. The dogs don't bother them much, they get to eat grass and a little bit of clover, they get to lay down in a new place.

They are happy being 'herded sheep'.

Good sheep.

I'm happy with them too!

Above is Anna with her ribbons and her judges and myself. I am very wet and very muddy, but very happy...see the wet pants from where the sheep would walk with me while they too were sopping wet?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm still here and sheep compliments

Yeppers, I'm still here! This past weekend was our first set of AKC herding trials this year, held here at our Sunset Acres farm. It keeps raining...someone kind must have sent it our way tho, breaking many weeks of drought. After the trials this weekend we are holding 2 days of herding clinics - the judges are teaching us better ways to efficiently move sheep and how to get ready for the next level up of competition since almost everyone did a bang-up job of getting new herding titles! So today we are working in the rain and showers again, tomorrow we are doing instinct testing for those wanting to get started. Yes, the dogs I handled and trained did well too, and so did all of my students, I am very proud of them!!

I have a huge brag...... one that I am very proud of actually. The judges have greatly complimented my sheep. They are excellent sheep. No, not pretty sheep, not cute sheep, but sheep that every herding trainer and livestock provider would die to own as trial sheep. I've heard that comment before from other judges that have been here, but each time it reassures me that I'm doing a good job with my sheep. No sheep running into fences in a panic from a strange or powerful dog, no sheep that faint or fake dead. No, my sheep are very very well dog broke. They don't stay with the handler/shepherd unless the dog keeps them there (or is carrying a 50# sack of barley, which is not allowed in a trial of course). They are honest sheep, capable of working for both starting dogs and advanced dogs. They are wonderful. And do you know what the secret is? You start them as baby lambs right alongside their mother. And you keep only good mothers with good brains in their heads, no wild rebels allowed to teach bad habits to their young.

I once had a judge several years ago that was soooo impressed with this breed of sheep that she went out and bought some. And friends who taught lessons and took lessons also went out to buy some. Funny thing, one of the judges commented to me that she, too, bought and owned some thanks to that one judge's high reccomendations after seeing and working with mine.

That's a huge compliment. And a huge plus for the breed. If you sell Shetlands to someone wanting to work them and traing their dog with them, sell them calm, very young sheep, preferably lambs. Give them your good stock, not your culls. No, they won't be shredded by mean dogs, and most have the life of Riley, very well fed and cared for. Afterall, you can't work sick or weak sheep, only the best are good enough for trials, that is, if you want people to come back and pay you to use them again and again. Shetlands make WONDERFUL herding stock, remember that when you sell your lambs, or someone comes looking for wethers to work with their dogs.