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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....