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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Very Very Very Cold you think it's cold? It's not cold here by Fairbanks (Alaska) standards. They are located 6 hours drive north of us. But we're still pretty bad right now. We're in a cold snap.......earlier than is usual for around these parts. The cold snap is expected to last a total of 2 weeks from beginning to end. We'll hope that's not true, but the forecast doesn't look promising.

Right now it's only 5:30pm on New Year's eve. Rick and I both just got in from an hour or two working outside.......Rick unwrapping round bales and feeding them out to the cattle and horses. Me feeding and watering the dogs and the goats and sheep. Face cheeks feel a little dry and achy, but that will go away. I even got a new pair of cheap snow bibs at the end of year sales and those have made a very nice difference in comfort. So anyways, it's cold out right now.... it's -20F already. It should go to around -25F by sunrise when it's coldest out. That's -31 Celsius for Jenny and friends in metric areas. Fairbanks on the other hand is supposed to go to -50F which is -45C. Friends want to have a bonfire at their firepit tonight along with a few fireworks perhaps. I'm not quite sure if we're going to go and enjoy or stay in and watch a good movie....hehehehe.....

funny, when the temperatures drop, you can hear the wood framing and siding creaking and cracking. Pouring warm water into ice cold dog buckets makes any ice in the pop loudly. Silly cattledogs tho, they love the cold and still venture out in it with great bravado. Starting last Saturday through Monday, we had lots of wind here.......gusts all the way up to 60mph. Tuesday morning we awoke to quiet - no wind - and instead of 5 above during the winds, the temperatures began dropping. So yesterday I was able to take my 90 year old mom to town so we could both do our grocery shopping. Today I made the big run for plastic wrapped compressed bales of pine shavings for dogs and goats, filling up my truck with shavings bales, alfalfa pellets, and cracked corn for the poultry. A few odds and ends and several stops later, I came home and unloaded it all where it was needed. It does feel good to know everything is topped off, all the animals nice and comfortable, the house bin filled with firewood, and plenty of phone calls coming and going as people hunker down to make it through the cold spell.

I hope you have a wonderful and safe Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Well good morning!

I promised I'd be back again! Here we are, waiting for the temperatures to fall through the floor. It snowed all day Christmas day, and as of Friday we were buried in it. Rick worked hard all day long with both snow plow then our big 4 wheel drive tractor to pile it up out of the way. Quite a huge snowfall for us too, although not the worst we've ever seen by far. Somewhere around 8 or 9 inches. We normally have had about 30 inches of snow by now - often we don't get much in January or February with most falling by December. According to the Anchorage NOAA website, we're 20 inches more than usual so far. That's allot! Yesterday morning it was fairly calm out, a little breeze here and there, as I went around doing chores. It was also nice out for winter, temperatures in the high teens. Then, out of nowhere, high winds hit us. We don't usually get winds here like they do in town. By 8am it was noisy. 45mph gusts. And that kept on all day long into the night. We still have some gusts coming through this morning, but it is also still 8 degrees above zero. There is a cold snap coming - a BAD one. I can't believe we didn't wake up to it already but that is great news, as I still have more hay and grain to haul and bedding to put into place. There have been plenty of weather warnings issued already......predictions are for a week to 10 days straight of daytime highs of zero, nighttime lows of -20 or worse. You HAVE to prepare for cold like that! Poor Fairbanks, they predicted their HIGH today is going to be -35! Ouch.

Guess what Santa brought me for my barn? A brand new big bullet space heater! YAY!!!!!!! Warm barn warm barn warm barn!!!!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! Just wanted to drop in and say hello. I have been amiss, not posting like I should......and thank you to those who emailed me asking where my typing fingers have been. Well, very busy! We had a guest arrive from Ireland...........that was great, more on that in my next post. We also had our guest bring a new puppy! YAY! Sired by my boy over there, Roisin, Gaelic for Rose, is a beautiful girl full of happy puppy love. More on her later too.

We're buried in snow, so far we're 15 inches over the norm in snow depth. Christmas day is never stopped snowing, and has snowed through the night and still spitting the last of it this morning as I type. We have allot of digging out today to do! Here's a photo taken early this morning.....

How was YOUR Christmas? Are you doing good?? Looking forward to hearing from you!!
Oh, and I should add - the building with the lights on 'in the distance' is our chicken coop with automatic lights already on for the day. The photo was taken about 8:30 this morning!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ireland! And more...

I'm back!!!

2 weeks in the UK, primarily in Shropshire near Whitchurch, also up to Edinburgh Scotland, over to Northern Ireland, and back to the UK before heading home. Wow. My first vacation off the farm in 3 years, and it was great! For now I'll just post a brief blog and show you a few pics from Ireland. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Sarah. Yes, she is Sarah to us. Can I say that Sarah has more common sense in her than all of Washington DC stuffed together in one room? She does. It's my blog so I just had to say I firmly believe everything she believes in? Perhaps not, but more so her beliefs than the rest of the folks that have been in politics toooooooooooooo many years and have special interest groups hanging out of their back pockets. I like Sarah, and yes, she is most certainly one to vote for. We need a strong woman in the Whitehouse, it's about time we had someone in there with some common sense rather than someone raised with a velvet hand, a slick byline, and years of sculpting by professional politicians. Good luck, Sarah!!

Did you vote yet? I already have voted! You can vote now you don't have to wait till the big day when you might be too busy or the roads too bad from the latest storm. You can even fax in your vote if you like! Just vote!

So where have I been?

I'm sorry, I didn't mean to vanish! There for a while I was having terrible problems with my computer......until I banged on the keyboard and it started working again. Seems that HP laptops are sensitive to being overly stuffed under the keys with dog hair..........hmmmmmm.....
I think I'll remember to take it out to the barn with me so that I can take the air compressor to it! HA! Cheaper than buying canned air, 'ya suppose?

So, the evil snow stayed. That lovely photo a few blogs below is what it's stayed at. Snow. Ok, so it's not bad. It's in the teens and twenties. A bit early this year but when it's frozen - tad-da! - then there's no mud - yay!

Captain has told me some of his girls are bred.......he whispered that bit of information to me the other day. What a wonderful ram that boy is, with the softest of fleeces...I can't wait for more of his lambs. Princess, his daughter from last year, is just stunning. Simply stunning. Who wouldn't love sheep with lots of white and then big black spots on them too? And Yuglet markings - for those not into Shetlands, that's the big black circles over each eye.

Topple, well, he's the quiet man. He's not telling nuthin' ! But his girls are happy to be with him. Peyton is next to him with his girls too. I don't know that Peyton has been up to any business yet but I'm sure he'll do fine. He has little round scurs so the polled gene is very evident in this boy, they're not getting any bigger.

On to other news, I'll be flying over to the UK to visit dog and sheep people. I have all my dog and sheep shirts picked out already to take along with - haha! I'll be there sometime next week and will have computer access so I'll be in touch. I should be doing some herding things with cattledog folks there. A scheduled Herding Instinct Testing that will benefit a rescue group, and a small clinic for another group. I'll be in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Life's short, go while you can, and do some service and good for others along the way....not a bad way to live life. Yes, of course I will post photos as soon as I can!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Moose Meadow At Dawn

Moose Meadow at Dawn this morning......we have a large picture window that looks out over our south (organic) hayfield. The field is fertilized with fish bone meal of various sources...... the bulk bags (about 1500 pounds a bag) are from wild caught Alaska Salmon or Pollock or Crab. We also foliar feed with water soluable kelp. I think that the moose KNOW this is the good stuff, tender natural grasses that also have plenty of calcium and other nutrients that will help them through the winter. So, as I looked out this morning while it was still dark out, I could make out a number of 'dark spots'......they've recently multiplied. We're used to a cow or two out there with their calves, but as winter sets in, they start arriving. This morning I took out my digital which has a wonderful night scene setting. Set it down on the deck railing, got everyone in the photo that I could make out, and clicked! This is the result..........not bad for an inexpensive digital camera! There are five cows out there - 2 with twins and 3 with single calves. A dozen moose for your morning coffee enjoyment!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Somebody's idea of a bad joke...

Before, just as the first flakes started...

Here's what happened later......

Somebody's idea of a bad joke I'd say! It probably won't stay for long, afterall there's still leaves on the trees....... but it sure does get you motivated to hurry up and put everything away for the winter quick!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

WAHOO!! GREAT test results!!!

WOOHOO! Doin' the happy dance here today!! I spent a bundle last Tuesday and had Dr. Kevin Wellington come out to do blood draws for testing. I am THRILLED to say everyone is negative!!!

I had Flower and Sunshine, my Nubians, tested for CAE, CL, and Johne's - all negatives!

Then I had a number of my older adult Shetland Sheep tested too. Some of my registered stock as well as the girls that many of which originate from my 4 originals from waaaaaay back in 1997. I had them tested for Johne's and OPP (similar to CAE in goats). ALL negatives too!

So that means our cattle, sheep, and goats are all negative for Johne's since they've all been tested now, the sheep for OPP and the goats for CL and CAE! The whole farm is negative!!!YAY!!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Organic Potatoes for sale....

Organically raised potatoes - we have harvested 2500 pounds and they are now available for pick up! They have been raised organically on virgin ground without any chemicals. We can't say they are certified organic because we don't have them inspected, but they are as natural as they come.

Varieties available until sold out:

Alaska Red Eye - a creamy white potato with pink eyes....$1 a pound

Red Russian Fingerlings
Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings
Red Dale

All $2 a pound, and in limited supply.

Email us to place your order! Minimum order is 10 pounds.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Our Barn

Our barn is a nice barn. I thought it was time to post a photo of it! Rick built it by himself except for when he had to set the roof rafters. The floor is concrete. The bottom half is board and batten spruce milled from the trees from our property. The big beams and metal cross plates that hold up the barn are also from our trees and Rick's welding talents. It's 36x48 overall. The dairy goats get the 3 big stalls in the barn. The sheep have different barns for them, 3 sided day sheds with gates across the front. The barn has wings on both sides that extend out 10 feet, offering the goats shelter from rain and snowfall.

New Residents Of The Goat Kind

Aren't they pretty? Nubian goats! They arrived here yesterday and now reside in the quarantine pen. These are the 'cheese goats'...we talked for years about getting a Mini Jersey for cheese making milk, but there is a certain instability in the Mini's right now.....some might/may/could have Dexter in them, there seems to be 2 registration bodies that don't like each other, there's infighting and also some questionable folks involved for money rather than milk production. We got tired of trying to figure it all out and who's going to spend $2,000 to $4,000 on a heifer calf with doubts like that. So we gave up. I told Rick we already have the setup for goats so might as well add some nice Nubians to our herd of Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats for his cheese making milk supply. That's fine with me, I have always loved the Nubians, I like goat hugs and slightly needy girls that can bellow a morning welcome and 'hum' their content when they're full and happy. So here they are! Sunshine on the left is 7 months old and Flower on the right is a year and a half and recently bred so we'll have milk and little Nubian kids in another 4 months.

First Frost - Organic Potatoes for sale

woohoo........and heeeeeeere we go! Woke up this morning to 32 degrees and our first frost. Very light frost, not bad at all, and it won't kill but the most tender of plants. But it's definately chill time here in South Central Alaska (you know, the place where Sarah was Mayor....hehehe......and yep, we call her Sarah!).

Yesterday we had plenty of help for the potato harvest. 2500 pounds of 6 different varieties are now dug up and in burlap bags and will wait till later this week for washing and sorting. So if you're needing to buy organic potatoes this fall, we've got your spuds!

Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings
Russian Red Fingerlings
Alaska Red Eye
Red Dales

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Can we gripe a bit?

How about a good gripe session. Is everyone ready for a good session?

How about those phone calls when you have your hands full, lovely automated calls that have to tell you what you already see too much of on TV, that their candidate is the perfect choice? If they don't have the courtesy to have a real human on the other end that you can ask questions to, then don't bother to call.

Let's see, what else.......

Oh yes! The person that emails to say they will be at your farm on said day at said time, to pick up said animal(s), and then they don't show up, didn't call, and didn't think to email that they had something come up and wouldn't make it. Well, we all have days like that, but for some reason there are many people out there that think farmers in particular sit on their chairs on the front porch all day with nothing better to do than to be waiting at the house for that person to show up. Hello? It's harvest time? Do they even realize how you carefully arranged your schedule for that day so that you'd be somewhere near the house and could have time to spend with this person? Nope, they email you the next day to say they got busy and that they'll just drop by sometime today - NOT! We're in the middle of harvest which can put me a quarter mile away and out of sight of the house, I have too many projects already planned for today, and I'm ticked that this person thinks my time isn't worth as much as theirs is.

What's your gripe today? Come on, I'm sure you'd like to get it off your chest....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Would you like a Gulmoget?

Would you like a Gulmoget? I have one that I like, and lucky me, he's a boy :-) So that means if all goes well, we'll have little Gulmogets in the spring. Would you like one? If so, I will be glad to put you on the list for one, just let me know!

How was your day? Ours turned very wet, and it's colder now too, down into the 30's tonight...fall is here and winter not far away. But it was a good day.

Friday, September 19, 2008

And I happen to love Violets!

I am a

What Flower
Are You?

Breeding Groups are set

Breeding groups are set for the season now.

Peyton, our young scurred Gulmoget:
Princess; Flutter; Caribbean; and our HST lamb

Topple, our gorgeous HST ram with the HUGE horns:
Fairy Slipper; Cheesecake; Blanche; Feather; and one spotted black lamb.

Captain - our softest fleeced boy:
Windsprite (Topple's mom); Sleeping Beauty; and our 6 Alaska-born ewes from Honey Hill Farm.

I still may switch Blanche and put her with Peyton for polled lambs, since they both carry the polled genes. To be decided this weekend...

How are your breeding plans coming along? Pulling out your hair too???

Well, what's new?

I know most folks in the lower-48 are enjoying the last of summer. Not to rain on your parade, but it's still raining here. Today is windy and showers, and the wind is chilly! A day of clouds then a day of rain or showers. Now we're making the big move into winter.....yes, already. The highs are only in the mid 50's at best. The clouds are keeping in what little warmth we have tho - if it clears off, we'll get a hard frost. People are cleaning out their gardens, I still have to clean up mine. The leaves on the trees are now mostly yellows and golds with some green trees still left here and there. The snows are working their way down the mountains. I took photos the other day of the last goodbye of our cranes sad. They made several fly overs and called out, then kept flying away. We haven't seen them since, and I will miss them. They were very entertaining, very elegant. We hope they don't get shot between now and next spring and return to our farm so that they are safe once again. The sheep are separated into their breeding groups, so once I get things together I'll post who's going to be bred to whom. Maybe you'll need a few Alaska lambs next's certainly getting cheaper to fly 2 lambs to you than for you to even drive to the next state for sheep with the gasoline prices the way they are! Peyton will have his girls so that we can have little Gulmogets here next spring! Topple has his group and so does Captain - who yes, has the softest fleece in my whole flock hands down, except for his daughter Princess, my special girl. Incredible Intermediate fleece with plenty of crimp and such a soft hand to the wool - wow. I hope you're doing good, I haven't had time this week to catch up on blogs but I will do so! Photos soon....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Rain, rain, and more rain....

After a long week of recuperation and catching up on farm life, I'm back! More of the 'catching up' part than the 'recuperation' part, it was still a good week.

Except for the rain....

it won't stop......

every day, clouds, showers, rain, clouds.

This has been going on since July. I haven't mowed the lawn in 2 weeks and frankly it doesn't need it. It's not growing. The hayfield isn't growing either - there's not been enough sun to get it going again.

So, with all this rain I think the sheep were starting to get crabby.

Yep, crabby sheep!

So today I put a full bale of fresh hay into their big shed, and today they spent their time in there, relaxing, eating, relaxing, eating some more. Every once in a while sticking their heads out to call out to me as I went by or worked near their big shed. I think they enjoyed staying out of the rain today.

Yesterday and today have been spent cleaning and picking up anything I don't want lost under snow or what I don't want to work on or repair when it's 10 degrees outdoors. I doubt we'll have early snows this year, but then again we don't ever bet on that so might as well start the cleanup for the winter. Replaced screws that were getting worn out, little doors that were worn or torn up, insulation missing or needing replacing....all that little stuff that is NOT interesting to do when it's too cold out! I stripped down goat stalls and carried water buckets outdoors to scrub them out good with the brush. Got all 3 birthing stalls cleaned to the concrete and rebedded for whenever things start to arrive again this winter. Pallets left behind were loaded up and hauled off to the main stack at the barn. Flakes of hay put on the side outdoors that were yucky, not VERY yucky from sitting there in the rain for weeks, loaded up and hauled to the dumpster. YOU KNOW - all that STUFF that needs to be done.

I started a long list of things to do, and am always grateful when I can start crossing them off! YAY!

I have one more winter sheep pen to strip down and get ready, then 3 of the boys will be going into their separate pens and their intended girlfriends will go in too. It's about that time, time to select who will go with whom for the breeding season. Topple the Magnificent will get a fair share of the girls; Captain will be used on girls that need better fleece quality on their lambs, as Captain's fleece is soft as a baby's behind. It's to die for! And Peyton, my new little Gulmoget guy from Garrett, will get an assortment of girls to keep him company too. Oh, and if you'd like a Gulmoget of your own next spring, just give me a holler and I'll be glad to put you on the list for one! I plan on keeping a girl or two but that's all next year! Remember, 2 lambs can fly in the same crate and it's usually cheaper flying than driving 6 hours to get one nowadays!

So, one more big project to do with the help of the tractor and it will be time for everyone to settle into their groups for the winter. YAY again!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Here's Lola

I just received Lola's win photo via email and had to share it here too. Lola of course is a Shetland Sheep Dog, who has earned two Reserve High in Trials and one High in Trial for her AKC HSAs herding title, all done on Shetland Sheep! Here's the beautiful girl!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Another great day and another trial

Well today was the last AKC herding trial for the year. I was already on cloud nine with my Anna taking HIT yesterday, I didn't think it could get any better. Well, today was certainly interesting!

Anna, Silveraurora's Silver Platinum STDs, PT took 4th place overall for the trial under Judge Janna Duncan, finishing her HSAs title! Anna's year and a half old son Silveraurora's Expected Outcome, HT, aka Russell, came up with a stunning run, beating his mom's score yesterday with a 91 (out of 100 points possible) and took today's High in Trial! WOW! I concentrated on keeping Russell calm through the course and oh he did a very nice job, with a split on the lift and a moment at the repen that cost him a few points. I was VERY proud of him. I have to thank Terri Jones for taking Russell to Nevada when he was a year old and putting some basics on him with exposure to types of stock that we don't have up here - you did a great job Terri! My first kid I've ever sent out for a few months too. :-) He loves his Terri no doubt. Russell is my 4th generation breeding.

I also handled Lola again this weekend, a lovely Sheltie who took time off to have a litter this summer. Lola finished her HSAs title today with a Reserve High in Trial, completing her title with 2 RHIT's and 1 HIT. She is a wonderful dog to work and I'm privileged to do so. There were a number of finished titles this weekend too so now we have lots of move-ups to the Intermediate level for next year to work on through the winter blizzards and -20F temperatures. EEEK!

It was a wonderful weekend and we managed to do it in fairly dry fall weather for once with yellow leaves floating down onto the arena. A colorful way to end the herding season here!
Doing the happy dance........

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Another herding trial weekend so the sheep are working!

Another herding weekend I've been missing in action since my last blog in August after the State Fair. Since then we've all been working hard to get ready for the herding trials....and in between also put up 37 round bales all wrapped and sealed for the winter needs. Today was the first day of trials, and I'm THRILLED to report that my Anna, who is my 3rd generation Australian Cattle Dog that I bred, took High in Trials in AKC HSAs.....Herding Started A course sheep! WOOHOO!! I also trialed her young son, Russell, who qualified for his first leg on HSAs too (it takes 3 'legs' to get your title). So it was a VERY good day indeed. Bidgee, another one of my puppies, was handled by her owner to a beautiful run in PT (Pre-Trial) and qualified easily.

So tomorrow we try again to qualify, and then Monday we have a herding clinic all day. So I'll be back.....


Monday, August 25, 2008

State Fairs and lots of stuff

Well, finally.....a moment to catch up briefly with my friends!

The State Fair started last Wednesday night with check in, vet check, and lots of fussing......loading the trailer, loading the gear, loading the goats and sheep and everything else but the kitchen sink because you might need it! Doing this all by one's self can get a bit exacerbating to say the least! Finally, 10 goats and 2 sheep were loaded...

I had intended to take 9 sheep.

I ran out of room!

So, Thursday and Friday were goat shows from 10am until 7 pm both days......2 ADGA shows, 1 AGS show, an NPGA show, a Wether show, and a dual buck show. Lots of shows. The Synopsis was that a junior doe I bred and sold a few weeks ago won Grand Champion Junior Doe then went on to go over the big breeds for Best Junior Doe in Show under a well-known ADGA judge! That was a huge win! The Reserve Champion to that doe is a doe I bred and still own and show. The next show my girl took the Grand Champion win and the other doe took the Reserve. So we were both thrilled with those huge wins! There were a number of other goats entered that I was the breeder of and I was VERY proud to see them lined up at or near the front of each class. Sort of an acknowledgement of a good breeding program, which to me is extremely important. I like to put my best out there in other herds, not just keep them all for myself. I want to see other people happy and winning too.

The sheep - well I took Fairy Slipper and Cheesecake. They like the crowds. Cheesy was there last year so she gave Slipper the low-down on what all was going on. The judge liked them. He gave Cheesey first place and Slipper 2nd for the Shetlands, so we are happy! That was on Saturday. After that, the Open Livestock show continued with another goat show and my girls took a 1st and a 3rd in that.

I was supposed to be there Sunday, but instead stayed home and had my goat friends put in the special hay I'd left there for all the girls, and keep an eye on them. Today I will go and watch over everyone for the day while the other gals head off to work for a while. Tonight, they all get to come home! YAY!!

How are you all doing?? What's new??? Did I miss anything??

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Shepherd is getting better

Sorry, long time no Blog!! Can you believe it? I STILL have part of this crud. Sheesh. I went to the doc, got some meds, and certainly feel allot better than I did a week ago but still have a bit to deal with. Seems the crud turned into bronchial pneumonia. Sigh. But not time to sit on one's butt on a farm, so, on to brighter things now.......

Peyton, the Gray Gulmoget, and Sheltering Pines Wind Sprite have arrived in Alaska from Garret at Ramsay Farms. They flew very well and arrived on time last night, and got tucked into their new quarters when I got home. Wind Sprite is my Topple's mom - I couldn't resist, although she's already 6, she has produced outstanding lambs so lets hope she's happy here and does the same for us next spring! Peyton, the very first Gulmoget in Alaska, will also have a full dance card this fall and winter. I just love the Gul pattern, and we'll see if this scurred wonder can pass a little of that on too.

The Alaska State Fair starts tomorrow. Tonight was check in, paperwork filing, and vet check on the animals. I' hoped to take my gorgeous rams but the pen setup wasn't safe enough to protect them as well as the public - all I could think of is if some little kid grabbed the front of the pen and one of the rams got fed up with inquiring hands, well, those horns would flatten little fingers. My boys stay back from humans but after days at the fair, who knows what they'd do so it's best to leave them home this year until there is a better, safer, pen set up for both humans and rams! The girls are there tho. I ran out of room in the big stock trailer after loading 10 goats and 2 ewes, so the lambs have to stay home this year too. I simply ran out of energy washing and loading all of them by myself today, I suppose I could have stuffed 2 more crates in the back of the truck and brought least we have a presence at the fair again this year!

Tomorrow and Friday are the goat shows - 3 of them, starting at 10am and ending around 8-9pm depending on how fast or slow we all are. 2 ADGA shows and 1 AGS show, there are lots of entries so it should be fun! Saturday is Open Livestock Show day, so the goats and the sheep get another showing all afternoon on Saturday. Sunday I'll be searching the ground in the livestock barn for my brains that will be scattered everywhere by then I'm sure! HAHA!

So if you're wanting to come out to the State Fair, please do so. We can always use an extra person or two to hold a goat or sheep or just visit with! Look for my signs, you'll find me there somewhere, but more than likely in a chair sound asleep! Wake me when you find me, ok??

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Out of Commission

The shepherd has been out of commission. First it was a headcold, that got worse, then a little better, and I thought it would finally go away. That was the first 5 days. By Friday night I wasn't feeling good at all and totally worn out. Returning from a necessary trip to the airport at 1am, I built a fire in the woodstove, wrapped myself in a blanket, and 'slept' sitting up with my head laying on the ottoman. At 3am or so I woke up panicked that I could barely breathe. That was pretty exciting. Thoughts of going to the ER flashed through my brain and I shook myself awake to get control of the hacking. It had gone to my chest. So for the following 3 days I barely did anything but was absolutely necessary and had help to even get that done, and slept an hour here and there, wrapped in a blanket in front of the woodstove. So far, 12 days and counting and not more than 4 or 5 hours of sleep at one time. Rick had it first, and in fact nearly 3 weeks later he still has some of it. It's been years since either of us have had a crud, I remember 2 weeks ago looking for cough syrup for Rick and finding some that expired back in 2005...then having to go to the store for fresh supplies for him. Little did I know then that I'd also get it just as bad. I still don't have my voice back. So, there's been no photo sessions and certainly not much outdoor activity beyond what was totally necessary. And the State Fair starts Wednesday night...eeek! I hope I get some sleep between now and then! One good thing tho has been that, since I'm up at 3am hacking my head off, I just turn on the computer and get to watch some live video on the Olympic Equestrian events while I sip on a hot cup of tea.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The summer we'll all try not to remember...

Yes, the summer we'll all try not to remember here. It's too cold and damp to be 'here'...2nd cutting hay isn't growing like it should because there are few warm days. If I close my eyes and just sniff, I would be positive that I am near the ocean somewhere on the Aleutian Chain (where it's always in the 50's for the highs and 40's for the lows). I can smell the ocean. Now, granted, we are only 3 airmiles or so from the ocean here, but it's the 'inlet' and mixed heavily with fresh water so that even if you are standing next to the inlet, you don't smell ocean smells. Where are these smells coming from??!! The air is heavy with humidity and salty's not been warm enough to warm up the earth so that the hay can grow well again. Instead, the grasses are limping along. In fact, it's been so wet that my rose buds are molding and falling off before they ever get a chance to bloom......

now, that is wet!!

Being a farmer isn't easy. Low hay yields mean worry. Especially here. It's not like we can drive 8 or 12 hours with trailer in tow to find a place that has good hay for sale...ha! Some years you can drive 6 hours north, into a totally different weather area and buy good hay. This year, our friends 6 hours north are experiencing record flooding! The whole town of Nenana is under water.

Hello? This is the first week of August??

I called a local farmer yesterday about his big rounds. I talked to a young person there who took my message. A few hours later while in the barn I heard someone drive up. The farmer had a bale of hay in the back of his truck - he found our address through the phone number and thought he'd stop by. That was interesting! I know him casually, he was taking a round bale home to feed out because it was higher in moisture than it should have been and would go off in a week or so. He offered to sell me the bale so we rolled it off his pickup into the yard. Today the sheep are feasting on a fesh bale of hay. It's ok, not great, a little stemmy, but not bad, and they can eat free choice till their eyes pop out.

So, right now it's early morning and only 50 degrees out. Damp, showered last night, and cloudy. July was one of the coldest on record, with 25 days of measurable precipitation. Outrageous!

Predators must be popping up all over. Scared dogs in Illinois and in Missouri. Too many people no longer hunt predators, thinking they need to increase in numbers and return back to 'normal numbers'. Ahh, save the wildlife! Hello?! Who's going to feed the American public if all of their lambs or ewes or rams get eaten by predators. How about the calves and cows and pigs and piglets too? Yes, predators have a place but they also need to have learned a fear of going to close to humans. They need to be reminded that wildlife is there for them to eat, not domesticated animals. When we protect predators too much, we have humans getting attacked and eaten too. A bear just attacked a young man on his way home last night. Another bear attacked a young woman up here for the summer to work at a Princess Tours lodge - and she was attacked right next to the lodge! Yet another was attacked while running on the paved city trails in the middle of the city of Anchorage. What is going wrong with our preservation of wildlife? Have we gone too far the other way now?? There must be balance...we created this situation, we need to manage it responsibly.

Last night we had an intruder at 3am. The dogs kennel next to the sheep pen did a great job - they went nuts, warning us of an intruder. Rifle in hand and jumping on the 4 wheeler, Rick chased it down and scared to bejeezus out of it. We think it was a big black dog as it sped away full speed since it's life depended on speed at that point. I have to do a lamb count later today when my herding students arrive and we can do sorting with the dogs, part lesson and part farm work. I'm not sure all of our lambs are still here, at least not in the unregistered sheep paddock. The registered ones are kept close to the house and they have remained safe.

And to close my thought pattern here this morning......
why bother to pasture sheep with predator numbers on the rise. I mean, really, that isn't free feed they are eating. What if you put them in smaller paddocks instead, mowing the grass into hay bales, kept them close to the barns or sheds, and save yourself from predator losses? Which costs more? Making hay or loosing sheep to predators? Only you can decide that, but I think us shepherds need to get as creative as possible in this recession/depression. I've been mowing the lawn and grounds and feeding it out to the sheep. Instead of mowing once a week and feeding them too much so that they waste it, I mow several times a week, as the weather allows, and feed them longer. You might even consider asking your neighbors for their grass clippings if they don't use nasty stuff on their lawns or feed. How about the yard grooming service companies in your area? Bet they would LOVE to have a free place to dump a days worth of lawn clippings. And that would save a bale of hay here, a bale of hay there...and still give your sheep fresh grass. Could be a win-win situation!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dogs... life would be incomplete without them. I have a near and dear affection for many dogs, both mine and others. Working with the herding breeds as I do, I also have great respect for their power and their individuality. A mutual shepherd was recently in terrible distress over her daughter being bitten badly by their LGD that protects their flock and goats. I feel so bad for her. It's a horrible thing when that happens, something you really don't know how it feels to have happen until you've been in those shoes. Scared to death is one emotion that comes to mind. We must always respect our dogs, they have far more power in their bodies than we usually ever get to see. Much like us humans when the adrenaline kicks in and you are able to do things that are almost super-human that you never dreamed you could do. Dogs are the same way, both in their need to protect and their need to control what is happening at that moment, whether it is moving stock from point a to point b or defending their ward from percieved threats. Dogs are always to be respected, they have been shaped by humans for many generations and were bred to serve us with their talents, but we also have to remember that their only ability to defend their space or their charges is by their mouths even tho we often wish they wouldn't - it is their only way to do their job sometimes. I have seen dogs going over the edge of being in control of their taught manners into acting solely on prey drive, and it is indeed scary, something, thankfully, most humans will never see. But because of what I have seen and experienced first hand, I can say that I try to never forget the powerful beings that dogs are and respect the potentials that they contain within. Afterall, a dog will also die trying to sava a human's life, and you can not ask for any greater gift from God - we must be responsible and grateful for what He has given us. Love your dog or dogs, protect them from harm, and understand and respect their great power and abilities.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Goose Goose

Well, we have a new member here tonight, a little girl goose. She's at an awkward stage, all down and little feathers starting to poke out. She's only 5 weeks old now but she is adorable and I hope, crossing fingers, that she finds a good and secure place here. She's too big for the chick pen, she's too little to be with the Muscovy ducks. So for now she's in the small coop - with the Muscovies locked out in the outdoor run. She'll do fine with the Banty hens in there for now. But she is adorable....she knows humans are a good thing. She comes to me when I talk to her, not quite nibbling my fingers yet but she will do so when I spend more time with her. We had the most wonderful pet goose here for many years...her name was Goose Goose. It seemed to fit her...she would always come for fresh greens and snacks and taaaaaaaaaaaalk to me so very much. One night a great horned owl got into the coop once again, and our Goose Goose was dead. So the doors are all locked tight and closed now at night. She was a great girl that lived a long life and protected her charges well. I hope this little treasure will grow up quickly! Pictures soon....

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Well, isn't that just peachy!

Just a little dribble on the news tonight, something we here locally have all suspected right along.....

it's official.....

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

Sheltering Pines Windsprite

We have a new Shaela lady arriving in the next few weeks if health testing goes well. Sheltering Pines Windsprite, originally from Stephen's flock, and who lived with Peeps for a while, producing beautiful lambs, went on to Garrett's farm. She's a traveling girl, isn't she?? LOL! Well, Windsprite also happens to be the mother to 2 of my favorite sheep here - Topple, the magnificent ram, and Flutter, dam to my #1 ewe lamb this year, Princess (yep, had to name one Princess - everyone needs a princess!!). When Windsprite went looking for a new home, I just couldn't resist. Her pedigree is

I'm looking forward to having her up here, provided she passes her blood test for Blue Tongue titers. Alaska requires that BT testing be done on all sheep and goats over the age of 6 months coming into the state, and that they test negative. So we are sitting and waiting for the test results to see if she will indeed be able to fly! Here's crossing fingers...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Breeding sheep

I have bred Shetlands for more than 11 years now. And a few other species of livestock, as well as my beloved and dear-to-me dogs. You learn things along the way, there is no doubt about that. A good thread recently is one that refers to keeping some of your 'produce' vs not keeping any, or somewhere in between. It's been a good and thoughtful discussion amongst Shetland breeders with many varied thoughts. Here's mine......

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

The mob and the birch branch

Bend it down and they will come...........

On to more cheerful things now........

Group, we have NOTHING left to eat..really mom!

Before the rains came Rick set up a run of electronetting, a car battery, and a 12 volt charger. Everyone in the sheep community was happy about that! So is Rick, who has an overgrown area now cleaned up. We'll move it again soon once they've chewed a little bit more of the saplings we don't need growing there....

Need I say more?

A picture is worth a thousand on it for a closeup....

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

new snow on the mountains

Oh brother......once the deluge stopped this evening, the clouds rose enough to see the mountains again. Fresh snow on the tops! AUGH!!! Too early......


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lousy weather

I'm seeing red.......lousy weather! Just look at today's graph for Anchorage (an hour and a half away)......
the dark gray is the annual averages....
the light gray above and below is just that - the record highs and lows.
See the red lines? We're not even getting warm enough to get to the AVERAGE temps.
My garden is chilled and limping along.
My greenhouses are ho-hum, but at least the tomatoes are turning red in there, the cucumbers are tasty, and the yellow squash is doing well. Even the sweet corn in the big greenhouse in pots is tasseling. But if it's OUTSIDE the greenhouse, it's.......ho-hum.
I know what my goats are them the cool weather signals breeding season. So that's what some of them are doing. I've never had successful breedings in July before, so IF we see kids in December, I won't be surprised at all. Don't worry, we have nice warm kidding stalls for birthing in the barn.
Now, the sheep......we'll see what September looks like. If it's still cold and gray out, bet we'll have February lambs again - eeek! That means by August I better have a line on some oat straw for deep bedding. But if it gets warm for some reason, then we'll have late lambs. Either way, good clean straw will be needed for comfort.
Because it's been so cool in the mornings, my thoughts have gone to heated water buckets and new electric cords for the winter. So I've begun looking at the different store's electric sections to see what they have to offer and at what prices. I also think I'll pick up a few cans of that spray foam insulation while I'm at can get a bigger bucket, fill it with foam then quickly insert a smaller bucket and let set to cure. Then you have an insulated bucket that won't freeze so fast. If you use a 5 gallon bucket for the base bucket, you can get really creative and cut a hole in the top of a bucket lid, then spray foam the underside of it. That helps a little bit too. Today at the store I even bought a covered outdoor timer to put in place for the stock tank heater. That way it can come on and go off for an hour at a time instead of being on 24/7 when the cold cold cold hits. They're so easy to use, you can always adjust it as the temps drop or come back up. I will NOT let my electric bill get any higher than it is...and everyone knows the electric companies are next in line to raise their rates too!
No, my sheep will still have their simple luxuries this winter to stay nice and cozy and's just going to take a little better preparation to keep the Shepherd's wallet from running dry!
At least I get to look forward to a few new sheep arriving in the next few weeks! There's a neat Sheltering Pines girl coming my way and then that rainbow boy below will also be flying in. They ought to help keep me busy this winter!

Monday, July 21, 2008


Look at that cute little Gulmoget....

I like rainbows. Rainbows of colors. Looking at a flock of Shetland sheep, I enjoy the rainbow of colors out there. I like spots and flecks and caps and socks and tails that flash a different color. Light colored bodies and dark faces and legs, or dark colored bodies and light colored faces and legs...

doesn't matter, give me a painter's pallet of colors and markings and spots and splashes....

my arm has been twisted.....we hope to be flying up an Ag Gulmoget.
Gray body, brown legs, belly, and up the chest under the chin.. colors fade on a gray or grey, but that's ok, he'll throw a few Gulmoget marked lambs someday. Bred to a Gul ewe someday will help solidify the pattern. Whenever we find one to bring up.

A rainbow of colors......who'd want just plain white sheep anyways? Especially in snow country - blech!

Oh, but Blanche, my white girl, is special so she doesn't count in the blech category, I just don't want a whole flock of white sheep. Hehehe.....

Oh, did I say the lamb is scurred? Carrying the poll gene. Maybe we'll get lucky and he'll have polled boys so that us herding folks don't have to have horns jabbing our legs out there when we're training! Scurred or hornless rams have a place here.....but back to the Rainbow thoughts, I'm a sucker for huge curling massive horns on my boys like Topple has. Just that I also accept there's room for one of every kind....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Some of the Dogs I've had the joy of training and trialing!

I am truly blessed.....I have had the pleasure and joy of training and handling the dogs below for qualifying scores and titles....this is just some of the photos I've come across in my files, and I'm sure there's others I have yet to find. Most of these are from the last 3 years...remember, this is only some of them and none are in any particular order. I'm not that good at uploading photos so it's a hit or miss process for me....enjoy!!

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.

Another of my favorite and well-loved dogs, Jake, finishing his PT first home bred conformation champion too.

Kissy, a GSD, finishing her AKC HSAs....
Caya, a Rottie, with my dear friend and her owner, Linda, getting her AKC PT title...

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.

Bear, finishing his PT title, even tho sheep are ho-hum compared to cattle.....
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....

I'll find more pics....

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Another herding photo

Another photo - here Anna and I are doing a parallel drive going into the Z chute...the Y chute from the photo on the posting below is just out of the picture to the left. The sheep have a harder time going into the Z chute as they see a panel directly in front of them and may think it's a closed pen rather than a place to walk through, so may decline entering. The dog must push them into and through this obstacle too.

Herding with dogs

Herding is an interesting leaning curve. Using a dog to take 3 head of Shetland sheep through various obstacles at different designated angles is always different each and every time. Here is a photo from our 4th of July AKC trials. This is Anna putting 3 head easily into the opening of the Y chute. She is allowed to follow/push them through the obstacle but me the handler is not allowed to go into the obstacle to lead the sheep through. This is a very nice clean entrance with no points lost.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Lovely flowers.......I grow a number of flowers in pots on my deck each summer...

the rose is Strike It Rich, from Jackson and Perkins, and is a sure to click on the photo for a close up!

This of course is on it for a close up!

Awt and whites....

I took a bunch of photos today...and it's raining out now and I have my chores done so I can sit and blog a bit...

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....

Now look at Blanche in these photos below - click on them to enlarge.....

Color genetics are very interesting. Look at Blanche's legs and she gets older, I'm seeing more 'color' showing up. Perhaps she carries a modifier...perhaps she's a brighter, whiter Musket....we'll know more this winter, stay tuned....hehehehehe.............

Next, Barbados's son out of Domonique

Domonique's ram lamb...sired by Barbados. Only 2 months old, we're seeing plenty of good things here so far....good wool on the poll, good direction of horn growth, and a gorgeous tail and wide leg stance. He has a white Krunet, and carries spots. Also, his fleece is a nice rich Moorit with even crimp distribution. Not bad for a young boy.....

The Rams - first, Topple

Pretty incredible yearling ram, Topple shows off his best qualities in the photos below!

Monday, July 14, 2008

What vacation?

Peeps has been talking working vacations again...and feeling the need for beach time.

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

Flowers, you say? And Hay hay hay..

The South field was harvested several weeks after the North field and the hay came off bright green and in beautiful shape - no shattered leaves. Here the John Deere 4010 is getting ready to pull the load up a very steep hill...our friend Cliff at the wheel with Rick making sure the load will stay put... the Case IH 4 wheel drive tractor is at the base of the hill to the left...the one I use around here, especially with the bucket on! I'm not so hot using the forks tho...

Someone loves his B Farmall. Same one he used to drive when he was a little kid - well, almost. As close as he could find in Iowa at the time anyways, and it had to make the long long trip to Alaska to soothe his soul....hehehe. Still works quite well, obviously. The north field of hay got rained on, but was cut early so it will probably test out around 14% protein still. Who knows, at this point who cares! It's dry and waaaaaaaaaay up in the barn loft now too.....

Trolius at the base of a flowering pink crabapple tree....Trolius form a beautiful mound, and my mounds have grown in diameter over the years from tiny little starts. They are cheerful little bloomers...I have both the early and late blooming types here.

One of my favorites to grow, Stock. Night scented stock is perfect for up here in the north country. I put 8 or 10 plants into a big bowl or planter and set them by the deck doors...we open the doors in the evening for fresh air and as the temps go down in to the 50's, their scent comes on super strong and fills the house with a perfume that reminds me of Hawaii or Tahiti......or Moorea or Huahine....heavenly!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shelties and Shetland Sheep

So here she is, Miss Lola, a lovely Shetland Sheep Dog, the judge Marie on the right and myself on the left, taking the High in Trial award for highest score in the AKC trial held July 6th!! How special that a Shetland Sheepdog trialed on Shetland Sheep won it too! What a wonderful accomplishment, and a joy to train and handle such a sweet and talented girl too!