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Monday, August 16, 2010

30 days and counting...

And we're still going...30 days of rain showers non-stop. I used the tractor and put fresh sand in the sheep paddock, they are very appreciative of the drainage too! No more standing on any wet manure or dirt. I hope this ends soon tho........

Friday, August 13, 2010

We broke the record!

Oh just lovely! We broke an all-time record here -
27 days in a row that there has been measurable precipitation.

Yeah, it's rained 27 days in a row.


Highs in the upper 50's low 60's, low's in the lower50's and upper 40's.

Gee, isn't that exciting................ not..................HA!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Puppy pics of Anna's litter!

Puppy pics I took today! They were born starting Friday night, August 6th, 2010.
Below, the 2 girls - plain face top, eye spots below.

3 boys below - 2 are red with half masks! The blue is plain faced.

And here is the whole crew, all 5 taking a snooze!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ahhh, another day another thought...

It's good to have some time to think. Sometimes when you run a farm, and things go upside down, you don't have time to think - you just 'do'.

I get time to think when I milk my goats. It's a very special time, one that is all my own to spend with the girls and enjoy them. Why would anyone scream and yell and yank on dairy goats (except for when one kicks the bucket over, then of course there's a few minutes of choice words to be shared)? What good does it do? Why bother to own them and milk them if that's the norm in your barn?

Life is short, we have to enjoy the moments when we get them. My moments come during barn time. To that end, I decided that more than 10 years of a crappy radio with a tinnie sound was going to finally be retired. I bought a nice radio. With a big Sub Woofer. And big side speakers. An iPod dock. A CD player. And no one to tell me TURN IT DOWN!

I put it together and set it up where I could use the REMOTE (oh yes! It has a REMOTE! WOW!) from where I sit milking. I turned that puppy up full blast. The goats ran to their corners, and I walked around and told them it was OK. Then I started dancing in the barn aisle. They ran to their corners, sure their mom had gone daft. I called to them and told them they were fine. Flower looked at me with her head cocked sideways...she must have seen Carol dance in the milk room when she used to live with her! Eventually the girls all did their own little dances in the stalls, finally relieved that all was well, mom was just happy, and they too could enjoy themselves.

My thought today is that although things get a little wild and weird now and then, and sometimes downright depressing, we have to take the good moments when we can and truly appreciate them. I hope you had a good moment today too.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The puppies...

The puppies are doing very well as is momma Anna. We still have the little one that is hanging on, but she is so very small compared to the others and she was the one stuck in the birth canal a long time, so I am guarded as to her potential survival. This line is my best herding/working line, also incredible in structure and movement. That said, the girls always take their time having their puppies. Anna is my 3rd generation since 1997, so I know the line well! Never a problem with contractions, just how LONG they take to have their puppies. Anna has had one litter before -in November of 2006, a long time ago in dog years! In her first litter she had 10 puppies.....over a 24 hour period! UGH! Her mother's sister once had a litter of 3 puppies.....then TWO days later delivered the last 2 in the litter!

This time Anna took her time and drove me nuts. The first 2 puppies delivered within 1 hour of each other, but BOTH were feet-first breech births. Those are VERY hard presentations for the mom! Both were boys, born at 9 and 10 pm Friday night. Then nothing........she slept, cared for her 2 boys, slept more. I stayed up with her all night of course and got no sleep. At 4am she delivered a puppy with a disconnected umbilical, so probably got caught up with other puppies in there. Sadly, the little girl was DOA. I was so dismayed, and began to get worried. But, at 6am, contractions began again and a healthy screaming boy was born without incident!

Since Rick was home and is GREAT with birthing animals, and Anna was once again resting, I decided to take the girls to the last big dog show of the year only 30 minutes away as planned. I kept my cell phone on me, rushed to the show grounds, ran into the show ring, ran back out and drove home. I was gone for maybe an hour and a half! I kept in touch with Rick and Anna was still just resting and feeding her babies. So I unloaded the girls, changed clothes, and sat with Anna. By 1pm I was not only tired but telling Anna I was getting tired of waiting and starting to worry if the other 3 in there were alive. I now always take a pregnant mom in for an x-ray before birthing due date - it will help you make informed decisions! And worth every penny as these puppies are precious lives! I called the vet, told the details, and said I wanted to come in and check the heartbeats on the remaining 3. The ultrasound showed 3 heartbeats - 2 very strong and 1 a little weak as it was sitting in the birthing canal........not a good place to be waiting. We decided on going for the c-section, and I'm glad we did. 3 girls were waiting in there. The one in the birth canal was the very tiny girl - all the others weighed 350 - 400 grams but this girl was a tiny 250 grams. No wonder Anna was 'stalled' - it was so tiny it didn't stimulate the birth canal hardly at all!

She's a tiny girl and it took a very long time to revive her. Because of this, she may also not be a 100% baby either. Not all babies are perfect, and we are wrong to assume all will be! It's impossible to know at this time if she had any oxygen deprivation or if she was ever meant to be in the first place. She is often on her side as the others crawl on their bellies to eat, so it's possible she wasn't meant to be with us long. I am making sure she gets plenty to eat. So only time will tell. I hope she's going to make it, but I am not God nor do I play Him on any television shows. Only He knows if she is a temporary gift!

So you could say this weekend, along with the "Ram Lamb Affair", was a very loooooooooooong weekend! By yesterday I was exhausted with little sleep for days, but this is the life I chose and I am happiest here with my animals. There will be time later to catch up on sleep. I'll take photos of the new kids when I'm sure we've made it over the hump. They are all white teddy bears right now anyways, since ACD puppies are born white then color in weeks later. Off to check on the little one.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

What a week!

Well, if you're on the Shetland list, you know all about that! UGH! If not, go take a look at my post there. UGH UGH UGH.....

Today the sheep pen got a cleaning. We have been under siege with rains since the middle of June, in a place that only gets 32 inches of precip a year. 2 months straight, it's rained, showed, the sun peaks out, goes away, and rains again. Not even 3 dry days to cut and bale hay SINCE EARLY JUNE! My poor sheep have had 3 'hills' and one dry shed to go into, but they are muddy. All of them. We have been battling the rains with our soils that don't soak in rain here, it just runs off downhill. We're on Glacial Moraine, lots of the state is, and why there are so many tiny lakes too......the ground doesn't soak up much water. So my sheep pen is no different. THANKFULLY Rick decided to bring down some old trees with the big excavator, and I talked him into removing the overburden in the sheep pen down to the sand I had trucked in for them in years past. So I just let them out and they are running in the sand and feeding at their round bale, quite happy. I don't expect them to be any less muddy, well, ok, maybe a LITTLE less, but they will be happier. And now the hayfields and pastures are full of mushrooms - good and bad mushrooms. So no pasture for the sheep! At least we can walk around the herding arena and PICK all those mushrooms and get them out of there......sigh...and no change in the forecast either. Rain and mud until freeze up ........I hope not, but it isn't looking good! Pray that we get a week's break later this month to bale hay, there's a huge shortage of it here locally since very few fields ever could get baled.

Went to the dog shows this weekend, and my blue girl Mimi took 2 3-point majors so she did well! And Roisin took the Reserves, good girl.

And Anna had her litter of puppies - 3 boys and 3 girls - starting Friday evening into yesterday. Momma and babies are all doing fine so far! But I'm pooped having stayed up all Friday night with her...phew!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A prayer for lost airmen....

My heart goes out to the immediate families, friends, military families, and community surrounding the tragic loss of 4 Arctic Warriors airmen at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska when their C-17 crashed into a fireball while training Wednesday evening. May God give you the greatest wings ever earned so that you may forever fly high without the limitations known to man.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

7 is the magic number

Today's vet visit was to x-ray Anna to see how many puppies will arrive - there were 7 little ACD's in there! So now the mud room/dog room is being torn apart from wall to wall, disinfected, new whelping box being made, and all the important things being washed and gotten ready. How exciting!! Anna is the mother to be, Jake is the sire, both AKC Champions with OFA good hips, clear eyes, and bilateral hearing. Anna had her elbows done too and she's OFA Normal, Jake was never done way back then and will be 11 years old shortly. You can visit our puppy webpage for more info and links to the sire and dam by going to . I'm excited!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

More new ewe lambs for sale!

I just posted a bunch of new photos on the sheep's "for sale" blog - the link is on the right! Go take a look at the beautiful girls! More to come.......

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pictures! Sheep!

Princess's Ewe Lamb
Blanche and her gorgeous ewe lamb that's sold!
Cheesecake and her modified ewe lamb.

Cheesecake's stunning ram lamb.

Hope you enjoyed the quick pics - it wasn't raining for a change!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Wet sheep!

Yesterday evening was a bit wild. Around 5 or 6 it started raining. By 8 it was pouring and by 10pm it was still pounding down on the metal roof of our house. I wouldn't doubt if we didn't have a notable rainfall amount in a short period of time for the record books, water was streaming everywhere, rivers of it. The sheep of course wanted to eat more hay so would dash out of their shed for a bit, get soaked, and dash back in. You know how it is, sheep can't seem to stay away from the hay now can they?! HAHA! Normally fluffy sheep look so funny when they are sopping wet tho, sort of like a woman who's getting a perm and just had the rollers taken out - LOL!

Hay for most farmers is now rotting in the fields. Allot of money will be spent to bale rotten hay and dispose of it on the field edges, it has to be gotten off the fields so the new grass underneath can grow and you don't end up baling old junk in with the new later on. We were very lucky, we managed to bale 2 out of 3 fields, the 3rd has gone to waste. Very few farmers have gotten any hay put up at all, so there's no hay to be bought right now to speak of. Up north isn't any better. A few got in some during a few windows. Maybe there will be some 2nd cutting hay in squares or dry rounds, but most 2nd cutting hay here goes into sealed moist round bales because it's never warm enough in September to do dry squares. It has rained 1 out of 3 days since the middle of June......what a strange year for weather.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's another girl!

Today my Saanen Leesa gave birth to a beautiful little doe kid! Good girl Leesa! The goats are done kidding for a to enjoy all that beautiful milk!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rainy weather brings........

Rainy weather always brings with it complaints. But, fond memories of April in Alaska will make you grateful for what you have - here is what mid-April looked like this spring.......

...........I think the rain is just fine afterall!!!

Hay in the barn

It's nice to have more hay in the barn again! With the help of friends, we put up 520 square bales of hay and also got them into the barn loft safe from the rains that started on Sunday. We also put up 29 wrapped round bales of very lush green hay back in late June, and are waiting for the next break in the weather to bale another 50 or so rounds. Along with the hay left over from last year, everyone should be well-fed this winter here. PHEW!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Herding Trifecta

The ASCA herding trials were hosted here this weekend on our farm. I am quite pleased to report that Stockmaster's Red Roisin from Ireland has completed her ASCA STDs title with a 3rd and a 1st placement for her 2 runs! Roisin is sired by my boy Rocky, aka Ch Silveraurora's PW Tom Thumb, who lives and works cattle in Ireland with his owner Daryl. This completes her 'trifecta' in 2 weeks - her AHBA HTADs-I title, her AKC PT title, and now her ASCA STDs title. It's been a very busy 2 weeks and I've not been on the computer much at all. So perhaps this week I can finally catch up with emails, while Roisin gets extra special treats like fresh raw bones as my thank you to her for being such a good girl on stock!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Excited for puppies

We're expecting our litter of puppies in August! I have a litter only once a year, or once every year and a half, or even two years. So not many puppies to be had here. But this litter is terribly exciting, one that has produced some outstanding working Australian Cattle Dogs. I had the privilege of placing a number of them locally and later working with them in the herding arena, and they are enthusiastic, fast, confident workers that heel extremely low and have no fear of going to the head either. The mature pups, now 3 years old, are wonderful with people, not a usual cattledog trait, and have been very good with children. It's a very unique combination of Anna and Jake that has worked so well. My pic boy in the first litter ended up being a Uni - cattledogs are up there with Dalmatians for congenital deafness in one or both ears - so we have them tested by a professional BAER hearing tester around 7 weeks of age when their hearing is fully developed. The boy that I thought had the most talent ended up hearing in only one ear so was placed in a great home where he is now the center of attention and sleeps in their bed with them - where he belongs. He is very special. Anna had 10 puppies in her first litter over 3 years ago; I am hoping for 5 in this litter but the vet thinks possibly 7. I'll be taking Anna in the end of the month for an x-ray and we'll know then for sure how many to anticipate. I really hope there are a few people out there wanting a serious working pup as several that are in working/trialing homes have gone High in Trial or Reserve High in Trial. But they've also been great dogs with their families, as much as any cattledog can be. I'm really proud of them and really excited for this litter to arrive!

Today was work day here and with my helper Karen, not only did the stalls get their weekly stripped-bare cleaning and fresh bedding put in but we also trimmed hooves on more than 20 head of goats - including all the bucks. Pee ewww!!! We took our time and 3 hours later, beautiful feet everywhere. Moved some goats around too. Next, waiting for the tractor bucket to get fixed and strip the outdoors runs back down to nice gravel again!

Heard there's a heatwave in the lower-48 - it's been showers or light rain every other day or every 3rd day since the middle of June here; a few days into the high 60's and maybe a 70-ish, but plenty of weather in the 50's. Ok, tired of showers now!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Busy week!

It's time to tag lambs with their big tags.......ugh.......such a fun job but it needs to be done, -so does that mean we'll be playing "Tag! You're it!" around here??

Monday, July 12, 2010

New Saanen kid arrival

Today brought sunshine in the morning and with it, Entrepid decided it was time to kid! She gave me one huge buck kid.........she was quite large, and since she's the tallest of the girls I expected her to have twins in there but instead she grew one very big boy and presented him easily. Photos later............both are doing well.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Beautiful lambs for sale

The lambs are beautiful this year! I have some very flashy ewe lambs available and they are ready now to go to their new homes. I also have lots of colorful Muscovy ducklings ready to go - blues, light browns (fawn), black pieds, white, and everything in between. They are growing super well and I even have a small group of young Juveniles feathering out. Sold straight run only. Come visit the farm if you're looking to add lambs or ducks to yours!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

28 round bales of hay

Considering our constant weather pattern of showers at least every other day since early June without a break, we managed to squeek in baling 28 rounds tonight off the north field. If we'd of had one more full day of sun and wind, we could have had it all in squares but baled hay is baled hay and better than no hay, any day. The harvesting for winter feed has begun. Phew.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

New herding titles

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were the herding trials here. Friday was 2 AHBA HTAD sheep trials, with Roisin gaining her first official herding titles. Saturday and Sunday's AKC trials were just as productive, gaining her AKC PT title on sheep. Saturday was also a good day for one of my puppies, Tucker, owned by Doug - finishing his AKC HSAs title! Arra, a younger puppy from another litter qualified today with her dad and did a great job of getting it together. So the Silveraurora dog crew had a wonderful 3 days and I am beyond pooped doing the trials and all the other chores. To add the icing on the cake, one of our beautiful Saanens, Dearly, had a big single doe kid today with Rick watching over her while I was at the trials. PHEW! Oh, and of course the sheep all did good too....

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Busy dog show weekend

It was a busy dog show weekend. Saturday it had rained overnight but let up as the show started. Our friend and competitor from Kenai took the 5 point major in bitches with her 3 year old girl, so her long drive was not for nothing at least! I went home very early so I could teach herding lessons in the afternoon. Today it poured rain and didn't let up in the morning at all, and on the sparse grass and plenty of mud, one of my puppy owners put the 5 point major on her girl, named Arra, who just turned a year old! So it was a good weekend!!!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

And now dried off.......

A few pics dried off........

A Woodpecker Mother's Love

It's a really neat thing at this time of year to see the mother birds coming to our deck feeders only 12 feet from our livingroom and watch them feed their young. Here's one of our large woodpeckers feeding her fledgling.

Here she is....

Francie's doe kid, minutes after arrival into this world!

Saanen watch....

It's about that time .......
today we have begun Saanen kidding watch, the first for this year. Francie has been moved to the kidding stall, mucous string present, tail head high, and doing all sorts of talking including to me. Whenever I enter the barn in the morning it's a 21 gun salute - with all the heads and feet hanging over the stalls to greet me.
Francie was suspiciously missing from the lineup!
When I looked into her stall, there she was, looking at me but still laying comfortably on the floor. And then she started talking to me.
Any good goat mom knows what that's all about, so I did the barn chores, milking, and check the clean birthing stall to see what was needed like fresh warm water, minerals, and hay. Done with that, Francie said goodbye to her herdmates without so much as looking back and quietly walked into her new surroundings, checking the smells on everything. Yep, this will do nicely, it has distant smells of birthings past. She talked to me a bit and then settled in, milk bar already filled to the max, just waiting for the kid or kids to arrive.

And shortly after I posted, I heard Francie calling so went to the barn and things were underway. A lovely big healthy girl arrived into the world! Mom is doing a wonderful job, the little girl has already eaten a big meal, and I collected colostrum to put in the freezer without going to the milkstand - she just stood and let me do my job without moving or fussing. I also got my neck and face cleaned in the process, and didn't even loose an earing - haha! Everyone here about 1 year of age and older were tested negative for CAE and Johne's also, and no CL on the goats nor on the property ever, so no problems with letting the dams raise their kids for a few days. A beautiful girl - simply wonderful!

Proud dad is Des Ruhigestelle Elaradale, "Dale", a Winseeker - 2008 National Champion Senior Doe - grandson.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Time flies by

Time flies by but the events keep going! The sheep are doing really well. It's time for some of the registered spotted lambs to start leaving, so I hope people start coming for them soon. It helps their moms to put on lots of weight before our winters hit, and feeding those lambs takes allot of effort on their part now doubt.

Dog shows and dog herding events are at the forefront for the next few weeks. A big dog show in Anchorage next weekend, thankfully my breed, ACD's, goes in at 9am. Then I can rush home, let the dogs relax, while I go back to work and hold herding lessons in the afternoon instead of the morning like usual. The the follow Friday starts 5 days of herding trials and clinics and lessons - 2 AHBA trials and 2 AKC trials. Since I've been putting allot of time in on the dairy goats and the sheep, I haven't been training my own dogs like I should so will only be entering one of them, and handling a few clients dogs too. Maybe by September I can have a few more of mine ready for trials!

Chuckles is in the dog house today. Bad boy, he's decided he can rip chainlink fence to get to his girlfriends. So, we're working on a new fence panel for Mr. Romeo that has nothing to do with chainlink and will keep him safe and warm ALONE. Either that or he'll get to live in the big play yard for a while with his best (SPAYED) friend, Martha. HA!

Rick painted the front of the barn last week, and it is beeeeeeautiful! Above is a photo of what it looked like. The paint was a latex originally from Sherwin Williams that was supposed to hold up to the sun and cold in Alaska - painted twice, it never held up and in fact eventually turned an unsightly pink and peeled off. Disgusting. He bought a special and very expensive acrylic latex this time, and it's a beautiful dark red again. He worked hard! It's nice to have a red barn once again and hopefully the paint will last 5 years and not turn pink again. BLECH!

Friday, June 11, 2010

An Award!

Thank you Donna at
for sending on an award to me!

Hmmm, what to say that my intro doesn't cover! I came to Alaska in 1980 from Michigan with my first husband who was my college sweetheart at Michigan State. We permanently moved up here from mid-Michigan, packing whatever we could into an old but newly-painted 4 horse stock trailer and my pickup truck, and hauled it over 4000 miles over the Alaska Highway in 1981. I had studied Forestry and Animal Husbandry; and he had studied Forestry and something else (funny how those things now fade into the past!). We split a few years later as he went into the big world on the fast track and my interests were still the same - the land and the animals. Alaska has always been a place of magic to me, and the chance to move up was too enticing to refuse. Fast forward 30 years, I now have a registered herd of Nigerian Dwarves, Nubians, and Saanens and milk most days twice a day and have done so for more than 7 years non-stop. As a friend once said, I have 'great guns' - the arms of a farmer, ha! In the summer I'm busy also teaching herding to stockdogs and their owners. My favorite work is that which is training for farm and ranch work rather than arena trial work. There are a good 40 plus dogs that come here spring summer and fall to train on sheep and ducks, and a good number continue to practice through the winter months too. So I like Donna am middle aged, in my 50's, and enjoying the farming life on a 120 acre farm carved out of virgin forest near Wasilla, Alaska. Summers are crazy with long hours and tons of hard work, and by the first snowfall, we are ready to enjoy the quieter months of winter. It's a quarter to 11 at night and it's completely light out, the sun hasn't even set yet and it won't for a while. Room-darkening shades are a must if you ever want to sleep in the summer in Alaska!
I will have to figure out who to send this award on to, but I know Jenny in Scotland will be one of them! :-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Last lamb of the season arrived today!

We had a little guy born yesterday, all black with a white Krunet - our last of the year! YAY! No more registered ewes due to lamb for at least another 8 months. Kinda nice to just sit back and enjoy the ewes and lambs once again too!

Dog show weekend

This past weekend I attended the dog shows with the girls.
Stockmaster's Red Roisin,my Irish girl bred by Daryl Moffitt in Northern Ireland, sired by Ch Silveraurora's PW Tom Thumb out of Stockmaster Drover's Lady, took the 4 point major Saturday going Winners Bitch and Best Opposite at the Alaska Herding Group Club show. Sunday, Roisin not only took Winners Bitch for another 4 point major (her 3rd) but also went Best of Breed! Yay! Saturday, Silveraurora's Helen B took the Reserve with Auntie Linda at the lead and Sunday Silveraurora's Leah's Dream took the Reserve with her mom, Judy, for her first Reserve to a major! Both of those girls are puppies out of Ch Silveraurora's Watch Me Fly by our red boy here, Ch Quickheels Finishline Chuckle, PT. So we've been a little busy with the dogs lately!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Finally, RAIN

For almost 3 weeks, we've had no rain. Around us there have been showers and downpours, but right here, nothing. Drought. Dangerous drought. High temps, with days in the 70's and even hitting 80, when we're supposed to be in the low 60's. Today, the skies are finally letting loose and we're getting rain. There is no hay growing in the fields here without rain, and there will be no hay crop the end of the month unless this happens ever week at least. Today we can be thankful for the rain, and I hope it keeps falling all day long. The woods are too dry and the birds and animals need this too. Finally, rain!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Planting season and Summer is Here!

We've been lucky the past week or so, finally temp has hit 70 degrees and we've been enjoying copious amounts of sunshine. Those who haven't been outdoors much are now sporting sunburns around town. Me, I'm just dark tan already. Rick's planted a bunch of potatoes with a bunch more to go. Red Thumb fingerlings, French Fingerlings, LaRattes, Purples..........lots of specialty potatoes this year. I have some heritage beans I need to get into the ground too. Since it's so hot and dry - ok, the sun is up from 4:30 till 11ish now and it stays high above so it's intense - watering everything is taking allot of extra time. The livestock are drinking twice the amount of water right now. With lambs we're up to about 75 head of sheep, 45 head of goats and goat kids, a few Black Angus, and lots of poultry. That in and of itself is allot of watering. Add to that all the flowers, a bit of lawn, 2 small greenhouses (small for a farm anyways) and a big garden, allot of hoses and faucets all over the place getting turned on and off, moved around here and there, all day long, buckets and troughs to get filled daily. This really has been beautiful weather tho! The problem is you can only be out in it for so long before you get fried!

We had a guest herding instructor up for 4 days from Saturday through Tuesday so I tried to be down at the herding arena as much as possible to watch and learn. You can always learn something. Everyone had a great time and the sheep did really well. They are in good shape for the summer trial season. Right now I'm teaching lessons Tuesdays Wednesdays Fridays and Saturdays - it's great to see all the dogs and their owners coming out to enjoy it!

The dogs are all doing good too. Another dog show coming up soon, this one held by the Alaska Herding Group club, an AKC Conformation/obedience/herding approved Group 7 club. Since I'm Vice President I will be busy for that weekend at the shows, and entered some of my dogs too. Some of my grand older dogs are doing quite well. Martha and Ella are both 8 years old now and still as beautiful as they ever were, and still in working weight - nice and fit. Chuckles is as happy and affectionate as ever, soon to be 8 years old. Sarah will be 9 shortly, Xena 10 soon, Jake, my love, is 10 going on 11, Aggie is 11 going on 12, Spice will be 13 soon and Jessie 14 soon. So all of the older folks here are doing well all things considered. They are all still so much a part of my life with many good memories of Conformation championships, herding titles, and moments of joy and appreciation. The younger ones are up and coming and I can only hope they can fill the shoes of those who have made my life the joy it's been for years now. I could never live without a cattledog at my side!

Friday, May 21, 2010

BLANCHE!!! Finally lambed!!

It's true!! Blanche FINALLY lambed this afternoon!
You can see she's certainly well-fed.....ahem....

But Michelle, we didn't know Blanche carried spots, did we?? Look at this beautiful lamb!
Now those in the know - wouldn't you call this Bladget? The black and the white are ground into each other and this is not Flecket...looks like ground snow to me. What do you all think??

And oh yeah...........did I mention.............IT'S A GIRL!!!!

Michelle, this one might need to fly back to you! LOL! Minwawe Topple is the proud dad. And just look at those kiss-lips...too cute!

Ok, more flower pics...

It's officially spring and warm enough to plant the garden and put out the hanging baskets that were safe in the greenhouse for the last month or so. Also, I wintered over my roses in the potato cold storage van for the first time. Last year was our first for potato cold storage and I wanted to be sure things wouldn't freeze in it. Although the roses came out pale from the darkness and of course had many families of aphids to get rid of, they greened up and are already in full bloom! It's the first time in 10 years that I've had roses in bloom this early thanks for cold storage - I only used to be able to store them at my old place so this is a real treat!

Below is a J&P rose called Scentimental, a smaller-flowered Floribunda.

This lovely hanging basket will grow much bigger over the summer, right now it's fairly small. The dark purple is Verbenum, along with some Wave-type small yellow petunias and a few large burgundy petunias. These are hung under the front, north-side eaves as Petunias 'rot' in the July and August rainy season when exposed to constant rains.

This hanging basket is one of three that I purchased with my birthday money - thanks Mom!! White Bacopa, double pink striped Petunias that are very fragrant, and a dark pink Verbenum. A very large basket, they hang on the 'pink' side of the house facing east and the fragrance from the Petunias is heady and sweet - below them is seating on the porch that faces the barn and dog kennel.

Patio table umbrella planter for flowers

You know, I went to every store in town looking for one of those silly planters with a hole in the center that you put underneath your patio table umbrella and plant flowers in. Do you think I could find one? Nope! Now probably on the net there's a stash of them somewhere, plus shipping and handling, but they probably stopped making the neat little plastic things in China a couple of years ago. You know how that goes. So I decided to just make my own.

Go to your favorite store with all that outdoorsie stuff...plastic cups and bowls and trays and BBQ's. Look for a big thin plastic bowl - priced at $1 or $1.50 and often used for a bag of chips at a BBQ. In fact, buy 2 in case you screw up the first one and if not, you can take it to your next family gathering stuffed full of chips and leave it there when you head home - lol! Now go pull the top half of your patio umbrella off. Place the plastic bowl over the top of the bottom half of the pole and draw a ring around the pole onto the bottom of the plastic bowl. That part done, now you can have fun. Go get a nice butane lighter - do this near a hose in case you get out of control - and SLOWLY heat up the center of the circle on the plastic. Once there's a hole through it you keep circling the lighter slowly until the hole has melted big enough to meet the line you drew onto it. Put a pair of gloves on, if you're prone to accidents the hot plastic will probably drip onto your hand! Now here the good part - while it's still warm QUICKLY force it over the bottom pole onto the table top. You can see my table is glass. If you do it while it's warm, the plastic will be tight to the pole. If not, ok, it's not the end of the world! Either way you now have a cheap plastic bowl in your choice of colors sitting on your table with a patio umbrella stuck through the middle of it! If it's a sunny place, then buy some Moisture Control soil so that it retains water longer, and plant your favorites into your new planter. It will last the whole summer if you remember to water it, and lets face it, if you sit at the table a few ice cubes from your iced tea or favorite drink placed on the dirt will melt and help keep it from drying out. If you're even better, you'll remember to bring out a glass of water every now and then to keep the soil moist.

You too can have an Umbrella Planter for $1.50! HA!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

dogs dogs dogs... was suggested that I give an update on my dogs every once in a while. So, here goes......
today was a fun day for the dogs. Everyone got a big Milkbone dog biscuit which each took carefully and with tails wagging furiously. The other day they all got a fresh frozen meaty rib bone - the kind they cut off from the prime rib end, not that big flat meatless bones on the long end of the steer's ribcage. Oh they love those and work on them for days.
Roisin had a great evening. One of the herding students that normally takes the sheep down to the arena for class was a little behind, so I'd already loaded Roisin up to go down this time since she hasn't been out on stock for months (bad mom!). So I took her out and told her to get her sheep already set out in the arena up top, and away we went. She took them down to the arena with few problems other than to occasionally stop and sniff where the other working dogs are allowed to potty. Just too irresistible I guess! So we got them down to the arena and once the sheep saw the new green grass, they took off into the arena like bullets - with Roisin fast on their heels once she realized they were leaving her. Out and around she went and quickly fetched them all right back to me. I think there were only 10 or 12 head of sheep and a few lambs, but she sure had a blast keeping them gathered. Of course, her dad as well as her Grandma Spice were always good at gathering anyways, it comes naturally. Good girl Roisin! Roisin is from Northern Ireland and is sired by my champion over there, Rocky, and out of a lovely girl named Gem.

The spring rush is on!

Over the last week or so, spring is winning out over winter here. It's slow, but the leaves have finally popped out and the grass is growing once again - seems like it happened overnight! Along with spring means planting the garden, getting the organic potato field ready, the greenhouses are up and running, and no one's getting much sleep! The lambs are huge, they are growing like weeds themselves. Only Blanche is a trouble-maker, still holding on to her lamb or lambs! Everyone else has been done for a while now except a couple of unregistered yearling ewes that lambed over the last week.

My roses are beginning to bloom. Such a joy to have had them in cold storage this past winter for the first time in years - I just stuffed them into the cold potato storage unit for the winter and it worked! To have them blooming this early is simply amazing! I pulled them from storage in April and put them in Rick's heated greenhouse that he started up in April.... the heat in there is a central woodstove and he built a fire in it every night to help warm up the soil in the raised bed. We are already eating fresh lettuces and radishes from our greenhouse - and it's only May! The tomatoes are growing well too. Some of the hanging baskets I started are still in there so that they can get big and be in full bloom before putting them out; other hanging baskets that I had picked up over the last few weeks are now hanging outside, although we're still risking frost hitting them. Yesterday I planted broccoli, cabbage, and lettuce starts in the raised beds in the garden as well as the bush greenbeans.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Nubian Goat Kids

The new kids! At 3am Ms. Jewel woke me up and said she liked the wee hours of the morning. By 4:30am, I had a lovely set of twins to enjoy, and as of 5:30am, all the goats were milked including Jewel along with a pint of colostrum from her in the freezer, and kids well on their way with full stomachs. By 6:30 all the feeding and watering was done and coffee enjoyed, by 7:30 Queisha had given birth to an 8 pound 4 oz buck kid. Nothing like starting out the day with a bang and just running with it! HA! Above is a pic of the kids enjoying full stomachs and working legs about 6 hours after being born. Buck kid on left is wildly spotted including a big spot on his face - those brown spots will turn to a silver white in a few months! The doe kid is on the right and very very pretty!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Gulmolget ewe lamb!! Party at my house...

I have been waiting for 2 years since Peyton's arrival from Garrett's farm for him to sire a Gulmolget lamb.......well the wait is over and it's a GIRL TO BOOT!!!!!!!!! YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Isn't she beautiful? Born early this morning...and sporting a tiny Krunet.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


I had to share this one......this week was my birthday. At this morning's herding group down at the arena, one of my puppy owners and herders brought this fantastic cupcake birthday cake for me! Isn't it fantastic?!!! Sheep, a goose, a goat, and chickens, all on my cake! I loved it!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Dan and Judy - too fun!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Feather's ram lamb

Ok, here's a quick photo of Feather's ram lamb, black with a big Krunet.

It's a girl!

Silveraurora Iliamna gave birth to a lovely girl just a few hours ago! Mom is a Bersugget - black with areas of gray ground into the wool. I have always really liked Bersuggets! This ewe lamb is super flashy with all the whistles and bells, and may end up being Bersugget also - woohoo! Dad is Minwawe Topple. Enjoy the pics!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Peyton is a dad!

Congratulations go out to Peyton, who is indeed a first-time dad as of yesterday! One of my solid black yearlings gave birth to a nice solid black ram lamb. So the wait is FINALLY over with!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Feather has a boy

I had hoped that Feather would carry spotting - ok, express spotting in her lambs. I'm ho-hum about her first lamb, a simple black ram lamb with a big white Krunet (patch) on the top of his head. He's a healthy big boy tho!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Too busy!

We have more lambs!! The problem is I have to go get photos now - ha! Two more beautiful Yuglet/Sockett/Krunet girls were born (HST's), one was from Fairy Slipper, they are beautiful and yes, for sale! What a gorgeous group of lambs this year sired by Topple. Even the unregistered flock is about finished lambing. Feather and Blanche are holding out tho - ugh. And the 4 yearlings out back that were with Peyton for a while are still a ways from lambing - we're waiting to see by birth date if they are Peyton's or our young guy from last year's lambs. Crossing fingers for Gulmolgets!!

Otherwise we're a bit too busy with spring cleanup and birthings, caring for lambs and goat kids! It's a fabulous time to visit the farm if you're looking for either beautiful registered Spotted Shetland lambs or wonderful goat kids! I have a lovely Nubian doe kid ready for her new home, as well as 3 lovely ND doe kids old enough to leave now - very colorful!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Princess and her girl....

Just a beautiful moment.......Rick took this photo of Princess, newly sheared, with her beautiful ewe lamb. They are truly devoted to each other, and oh my is Princess such a wonderful first-time mom. We love our girl too!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Catching up to get behind...

HA! Gotta love spring......I'm catching up so that I can at least get behind!

Lots of goats kids have arrived.......and almost all at once. Twins this morning, triplets and twins yesterday. Lots of goat kids and milking to do. And lots of doe kids available for a change! The 2 Nubian girls are very very pregnant now and growing udders, so it won't be long before they kid. I'm guessing twins for both of them.

The registered sheep on the other hand are holding out........seems there was a lull in the breedings 5 months ago and I have 3 Goodyear blimps out there! I swear they're going to burst! And loooooooooooud!! They sure let me know when it's dinner time.

All else seems to be holding steady on the farm. The wintered-over roses have just come out to see their first daylight via the greenhouse which Rick has begun heating a few weeks ago with the woodstove in there. It's doing a fantastic job too. The roses have 4 to 12 inches of new growth on them, very pale in color and certainly not green. As they sit in there with the cloudy days, they'll start greening up again. Always take them out of winter storage when you're due to have mostly cloudy days for 3-5 days. They are very tender at this point, can break easily, and can burn up if exposed to strong full sun. Lots of water, a jolt of liquid fertilizer, and patience. I've transplanted the tomato starts into bigger containers so in a few days those will head out to the greenhouse too, along with the calendulas, gourds, cukes, a flat of 3 varieties of red lettuces, and other miscellaneous seeds I've started. A friend brought over a flat of pansy starts for me too. And in the dirt bed in the greenhouse, the soil temp is now up to 70 degrees again so I planted radishes and spring mix lettuces which have all popped up already. Hopefully in another month we'll have a fresh salad from the greenhouse. The woodstove in there is just a barrel stove, but we run hot water heated in a big pan on the top of the stove that circulated through hoses with a little electric water pump deep down in the dirt. So not only is the greenhouse warm, the soil is heated to prevent the cold from the frozen earth below from coming up into the beds. We had a similar system at the old place and it worked well. Here's to spring!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another set of twin goat kids...

Another lovely set of twin doe kids were born early this morning to Vanilla, a wonderful doe that I enjoy very much! Both girls are black with little splashes of white and are doing great! Nice to have another set of girls in the barn, and 1 will be available. Vanilla is the dam of Silveraurora's TH Xbean who as a first freshener was LA'd the highest score - 89 - and who also has an ADGA Best in Show as well as a Best in Breed at another show, as well as milking nearly 4 pounds on milktest. Beanie is a beautiful doe, and this is a repeat breeding. We're hoping to find a good home for this girl, she sure has big shoes to fill but she should do well! Oh, and Vanilla has a championship leg or two also! Her dam was ARMCH Twin Creek's Scarlet *D *M. A long line of lovely does no doubt. Photos as soon as they find their legs....

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter everyone! Sheep and goats...

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you're enjoying your day today! I'm sooooo happy my sheep are all sheared again for another year. I can also watch those udders on the ewes makes it SO much easier to tell who's going to lamb next. PHEW! Blanche was definately faking........her udder is so tiny I can easily say we have a ways to go now.

And for goats - my best milker and mother, Patience, who broke the one day test milk records twice producing over 6 pounds on test, has a lovely daughter sired by our dual champion Sebastian, named Yada. Yada decided today would be a good day to become a First Freshener! Sired by Jobi LA Thunder, our best 'milk' guy and my favorite buck, she gave birth easily on her own to triplets - 2 girls and a boy. Big udder on her but then you can't tell anything early on as they can have misleading edema. We'll see how she milks in a few weeks - yay! My Easter present no doubt!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Unregistered lamb count...

So far, 20 lambs have been born, of which 16 still reside here with their moms. Ok, I need to count moms, but I believe we're at 11 or 12 out of 23 ewes. All in 16 days. Now normally my crew lambs over at least a month and a half's time. Almost every one of the mature ewes has lambed, with a few more left who are very close and some 2 year olds quite close. Then we'll wait for the yearlings for a while, like usual...

And for the registered flock, we're half way there with some pretty big looking girls still hanging on, especially for as little as they are. Cheesecake's daughter, Princess, is doing very well with her little girl too. So what shall we name this girl?

Blanche was faking it

HAHA! In case you were wondering, Blanche was faking it! She's still running around like normal.

I *did* see 2 udders on the 4 girls that Peyton was in with. Now we'll have to wait to see just when they lamb. Just in case.......I pulled Peyton after the girls were in with him for months, gave it a few weeks break, then put my boy from last year in with them to be sure that they were bred this year. So, depending on when those 2 girls have lambs, we'll either have Little Peytons or not! Here's crossing fingers as Peyton is my only Gulmoget.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Sheep shearing..........lots of fleeces

Wonderful day, clear to hazy skies and a light breeze, a new sheep shearer and 34 head are done with the rest to be finished tomorrow. Lots of nice fleeces for sale, $15-$25 depending on quality. I hope to see folks from last year back out again tomorrow and Sunday. The ground is starting to thaw here with little rivulets of water running everywhere. Mud mud mud, and things blown by the wind showing up which means lots of little bits to pick up as you walk from one pen to another. The hoses thawed, the barrels cleaned out and now filled with water as are the sheep pen's big water containers, so it's nice to fill things up with something other than 5 gallon pails - woohoo!

Still no more lambs in the registered group, they are holding out, yes, including Blanche who is now very nude! I think the sheep are embarrassed when their first sheared - haha!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Tomorrow is Shearing Day

Want fleeces? Tomorrow is your day! We'll get started tomorow if it's not raining or snowing and see how many our new shearer can get done in a day. We have at least 40 head to do this time........stay tuned!

And we've had a plethora of unregistered lambs born, and another registered lamb born...........more later, and photos to come!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Want to lamb during the daylight hours?

Just a note........if you want to have your ewes lamb during the daytime so that you can keep an eye on them, feed them their grain first thing in the morning. If you want them to lamb late at night/super early am, feed them grain in the evenings. This came off another email list, but it's pretty darned reliable. All of my registered lambs have been born during the daylight so far, and they are grained in the early morning hours. My unregistered's are grained late evening and lamb during the night/wee hours of the morning. It works here and no guarantees it will work there, but certainly worth trying if you have a preference!


A pretty photo of Blanche today. She's walking around with her tail half cocked prat of the time, so we're getting close. I'll keep an eye on her for the rest of the week too.

Princess has a girl!

Princess gave birth to a very big ewe lamb after lunch today. This girl was ready to come out before mom was ready. I came back from teaching and there she was, calling out a very uncomfortable help me from the shed. I went and grabbed paper towels and my eye glasses to see what was going hoof out, one nose, the top of another hoof, and water all over the ground but nothing left on the lamb's nose. Ok, so we were now faced with a time factor....the lamb already breathing through the nose and not allot of progess. So I pushed one hoof back in and tried pulling on the other, but there was a need to stretch everything out so that this lamb could arrive. After working on that for while, I could get in a little more and started working on the head. Boy, was that head big! After quite a bit more work and of course what always seems like forever, out came the head and one leg and I could pull the rest out quickly. Princess started fussing over her easily while still in the prone position and it wasn't long before both were standing up. A little overdue from the looks of things, the sack was yellow brown and full of you know what. I'm glad I was here when they needed me, I don't suspect that this one would have come out well without my help. This is Princess's first lambing, she was in with Peyton last year but we ended up with no pregnancies from him.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ok, now the pics...

First, Princess......our pet ewe...never for sale!

Then we have Domonique and her black ram lamb....she scowls at the camera...but her boy is available.
Photo of Flutter and her ewe lamb.... the little girl is for sale!

And my Modified girl, Cheesecake, and her lovely twins...

Ram lamb below on the left, ewe lamb on the right -beauties aren't they??
Dad of all of the lambs in these pics is the magnificent Topple.
Cheesecake's ram lamb is for sale too.

New lambs!

Just home from the dog shows this weekend so will get pics shortly - but, we had more lambs! Minwawe Cheesecake had twins - a ewe lamb and a ram lamb, both very very colorful. And Windsprite's daughter, Flutter, had a beautiful ewe lamb, black with almost a complete Bielset and big Krunet with a white spot on the nose of her black face. Really pretty girl!
So, pics tomorrow when I recover from the dog shows.........Anna finished her conformation championship yesterday and our red Irish girl, Roisin, got her first major today - a 4 point-er no less!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The first non-registered ewe lambs!

The first non-registered 'working' ewe kidded early yesterday morning. Triplets! She did the same for me last year problems, an uneventful lambing. This year it's 2 boys and 1 girl, all of them solid white. And she's such a good momma to them too, keeping track of all three no matter where they wander off.

Now.............who's next?!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New ram lamb today...

Alaska Dominique decided today was her day to lamb. Bred to Topple, she gave birth to a big black ram lamb with a small white Krunet on his head. So yes indeed, he is carrying the spotted genetics even tho he himself is all black. He will be looking for a good home in a few months too!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

So much for in like a lamb...

In case you'd wondered where I've been lately, the past week was one of the worst set of back to back storms we've had in a looooooong time. High wind with snow out of the south, the next day out of the north, the following day out of the south again. There wasn't a day out of 7 that it didn't snow, and drifts appeared everywhere. We were inundated. The sheep and the goats spent so much time locked up inside their barns that they were MORE than happy to get out for an hour or two in between storms. I was one pooped puppy trying to keep up with it all too. Yesterday the skies opened and the sun came out, a much needed supply of sunshine was soaked up by all. Last night was one of our coldest this year, a mild winter for us, but this morning it was -5 and after all the nice warmth we've been having this winter, it sure felt cold! The tomato seeds are started in the livingroom tho as well as some Calendulas so at least I can think spring...even tho our ground won't be thawed until May!

How have you been doing lately? Please do type when you can!

WOOHOO! Finally, the first lamb!

Proud parents, this little girl arrived today in the nice sunshine - 4 white socks, white tail, and a very big dark mask to boot! Ram is Minwawe Topple and dam is Minwawe Caribean, still in full winter fleece. She is just beautiful, and our first registered lamb of the year. Welcome Spring! And, she's a Bielset too - that white ring goes all the way around her neck

Monday, March 1, 2010

Welcome March - Lions and Lambs

Welcome March! But unless something changes today, the weather is actually nice.....that's not good! Why you ask? Well, how about the old saying "In like a Lion, out like a Lamb" far, it's in like a lamb and, ewww, don't want it out like a lion!

I'm waiting for lambs now - how about you? No AI or flushing used here, so it's au natural for my ewes. We had a snowstorm this week with a fresh 7-8 inches of snow on the ground. It's warm out, in the 20's and expected to go into the low 30's today - great for the goat kids. Now where are those lambs tho when you want them?!

And it's time to pick a date for shearing. That's on my gotta do list!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Pictures of goat kids!

Zasia's Nubian doe kid just bookin' it! Bottle fed and ready for her new home, pending G6S testing as mom's a Carrier and dad's a Normal! She was born last Thursday and is a sweetheart too!

Zasia's other doe kid, a beautiful black and tan spotted Nubian. She will be retained if she comes back G6S normal!

This boy is simply stunning - long, very dairy, long rump, and as spectacular as his sire who ADGA youngstock appraised Excellent. He's covered in moonspots and will remain extremely colorful. He is G6S normal by parentage, and available also. His dam is Flower, multiple Best Udder in Breed winner.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

43 degrees at 11am


All week we've had temps in the 30's.....actually, most of last week too. On occasion we've been hitting 40. Hello? This Alaska? February?? EEEK! I even did chores in a sweatshirt this morning, no jacket! The deep snows are melting off slowly but surely. The sheep think they are in heaven...big hay bale in the feeder, fresh straw and hay in the shed for bedding, and snow melting away all around them. Of course we'll have more winter, we don't have thawed ground for spring planting until May and often get snows in April, but this is a very welcomed break! Even the goats are relishing the warmth, the ducks are finding puddles to bathe in today and the chickens are out exploring far away from the chicken coop, searching for anything edible to peck at. I'm even thinking we should shear sheep now instead of waiting for March like usual........hmmmmmm.....would be nice to see what's under all that thick wool!

Sunday, February 14, 2010


I'm sure others are going crazy at this time of year too. Waiting waiting waiting.......just when will the first lambs start showing up?! How about you? Are you waiting for lambs?? I'm hoping Garrett will have my BFL ram lamb for me this year, my unregistered flock will appreciate him greatly! My registered Shetlands are waiting for a Moorit Spotted ram lamb too - let me know if you have a bottle lamb fitting that description this year, I'll have plenty of goats milk to feed him if you'll let me fly him up this way!

On another front, my beautiful Muscovies are hatching! YES - IN FEBRUARY! Crazy. They normally have a very low hatch rate at this time of year, but our winter has been so mild and since I sold a very nice black and white Pied drake to a friend, my Blue and White Pied drake has been VERY busy. I will have some gorgeous rarer colors available in another week or so. Muscovies are unlike any other duck, and many are pets. They do NOT quack - so they make the perfect duck for families in suburban or city locations that allow quiet fowl. As part of their greetings they make a nice hiss hiss hiss sound and literally wag their tails. So my Valentines Day present is a bunch of hatching ducklings - yay! If you want any, just let me know!

And I'm on the "forever waiting for the goats to kid" syndrome. I have 7 Nigerian Dwarves and 4 Nubians due within the next 30 days. One of the Nubians is due any day, and she's definately letting me know about it too. She'd prefer that I just pull up a cot and stay with her 24/7 I'm afraid - ha ha! The Saanens aren't due until this summer, so they're outdoors enjoying themselves!

It's been beautiful weather for us. No terrible cold snaps lately, got a decent snow of 8 inches a little while ago promptly followed by days in the 30's to help melt some of it down. Of course there are still huge snowpiles around the farm and still a deep covering of snow, but these warm days have been fantastic! I even got a 'tan' yesterday while teaching herding lessons facing the sun for 4 hours straight - yay!

Hope you take the time to send a note - let me know what you're up to -

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And today's show results

Today was a different day! The judge was fairly new to cattledogs relatively speaking so we came out with different results indeed. Today my Anna took Winners Bitch, Best of Winners, and Best of Breed for the 5 point major - woohoo! Mimi, her daughter, took Reserve Winners Bitch! LOL! We had a great time and want to thank everyone who helped - we can't do it without you and you are GREATLY appreciated!!! I'll post photos when they come in a few weeks.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Today's dog show

Just a quick note - we went to the dog show in Anchorage today and will be doing so tomorrow. My puppy girl entered in the 6-9mos puppy class took Winners and Best Opposite Sex for the 'major' with Linda F handling her since she IS Helen's Auntie and special friend, and Anna, Helen's paternal , sister took Reserve Winners Bitch. Our boy Flyer, the lovely mottled boy, took Best of Breed for his first major at 9 months of age. Yay! We had a great time and big thanks to the friends who came to help today - they made it all possible!!!!! Even one of my puppy owners was entered and showed their own girl for the first time ever in the show ring - for both the puppy and for them! Congratulations!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Herding pics

I just got some photos given to me that were taken during one of this past summer's herding trials. I thought I'd share these two photos with you of my boy, Russell, working sheep. He was entered in AHBA Ranch Dog Level I, and did a fine job that weekend, handily finishing his title. Enjoy!

First photo - the ram who decided he didn't want to be part of the group....

And once again, the ram being told he WAS part of the group! Good boy, Russell!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ever get blamed?

Ever get blamed for something you didn't do right but thought you did do right?

If you have a large flock or farm, do you sometimes wish that you could just deal only with the animals instead of the people?

People are so rude some times, downright condescending too. I honestly think that some 'city folks' think all farmers are hicks, sit on the porch in a rocking chair with nothing better to do, and that the majority of them have a 5th grade education.

If you have a large flock, farm, ranch, or herd - you have a wealth of knowledge and experience that no newcomer could ever have no matter how much they've read.

That's just the way it is. The feel of something under your hands tells you that something specific is wrong. The walk, the eyes, how the head or tail is held, even how the animal chews it's food - they are all very important clues to each individual's health and well-being. The longer you have certain individuals, they become much more than a number, a score, a rating, an appraisal, a tag, a tattoo. They have personality quirks, likes and dislikes, and records behind them of birthings and sickness and health. They aren't always written records, but mental notes that we store and we see those notes when we see that animal each day.

And at certain times of the year, when the farm bursts at it seams with new borns everywhere and planting, or harvest is under way, the brain fails us. A momentary brain-fart. Or, like during the recent windstorm we had here, so violent for 3 days that when it was over all you could think of is how nice it would be to sleep for the whole day because you're exhausted, worrying about all that you take care of. Recently I thought I was doing someone a favor and thought I understood what they wanted. So I did what I thought was expected, only to get a plethora of nasty, mean-spirited words practically telling me I was an idiot for what I'd done. My feelings were very hurt, it was supposed to be a joyful thing and I had been happy to do the task. Instead, I got to see what 2 people are REALLY like when things don't go just the way they wanted them to, and I can tell you, I have little value left for those 2 humans. Condescending and rude, I had to read their notes twice to finally catch on to what I was being blamed for doing wrong.

Such is life I suppose. I understand the animals much better than I could ever understand most humans, and that is why I like the lifestyle that I have chosen. So if I misinterpret something you say or something you imply, forgive me for not understanding you and just make an attempt to explain it to me a different way. My job is working with animals. For many other people, their job is to work with people. Sometimes the two sets of humans don't understand each other very well in the end.

Do other shepherds, ranchers, and farmers often feel the same way?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Massaging of Messages

Amazing. I read an interesting article just a while ago about Google possibly pulling out of China, tired of extreme censorship that the Chinese government requires. In the article were the words "massaging of messages", meaning that people write/type/speak in such a way as to be PC.

Should we as farmers, ranchers, shepherds also massage our messages?

I don't think so.

We work with reality. Reality is high winds killing your livestock. Reality is if enough livestock are killed elsewhere too, mom and dad at the grocery store are going to pay more for their meal on the table.

Why bother to massage the message that if we don't take care of the soil, it will have nothing left to give us back. For 60 years the chemical companies have grown into huge conglomerates that make, for one thing, chemicals to put on the soil to MAKE it grow something, but only the thing you want to grow and kill the rest (GMO soy, corn, sugar beets, for example). And you put more chemicals on it to fertilize it. And in some cases, put chemicals on it to kill it (the tops of sugar beets for instance) so it can be harvested. And maybe even a chemical put on it to keep it from spoiling in storage. That's a heck of allot of chemicals.

Farmers, Ranchers, and Shepherds KNOW that all you need to do is to keep things in balance....the right number of sheep on a pasture will not only produce meat for the freezer but they will also feed the soil with their manures and urines, and help the grasses grown. That rotational grazing will keep down the weeds and promote the grass, so more grass means more feed for more sheep. It's a cycle as old as mankind...... manage your animals, your foodstuffs, and your lifestyle in a way that everything helps everything else.

I don't need to massage the message.

You don't need to either.

And, way to go Google.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Scary winds

Scary winds here today. The kind where you're afraid to go outside, but you know you have to go check on all of the livestock. The front that hit us was a line between a major high pressure front and a low pressure front, and it just didn't want to move either. It started yesterday with winds in the 40's to 50's. Last night it started to roar, and by today I was watching several weather station locations on Wunderground that were getting 60-70mph wind gusts. I'm sure we had that here too. The gusts were frequent and hit hard; there are so many things missing off the porch and around the farm right now, I'm sure once the winds stop we are going to have an awful lot of looking and picking up down the hill below us. All the doors on the house were dead bolted shut to keep the winds from working them open. The goats were locked in the barn and the big barn doors were all locked, leaving me the small man door on one side to go in and out of. And today was the annual blood draw day with 35 goats having their blood drawn by our vet and sent off to WADDL, as well as 5 Nubian blood vials sent off for preg checks. It took us 2 hours to get it all done, then I went around and filled everyone's water buckets with warm water and threw everyone their hay and grain, and fed the dogs. The winds were so relentless today that chips of ice, gravel, and sand were also pelting the house and me when I was outside working. It's blown so hard that the hardened snow was still sheared off and clouds of snow were whipping across the hayfields. Trees were bending so far over, it's amazing we didn't loose even more of them. Incredible wind storm, it's now settling down to 40-50mph gusts and it is predicted to let up after midnight some time. I sure hope so, and I know the sheep, goats, and dogs are hoping it does too!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A good winter so far, and goat and sheep uprisings!

It's been a good winter so far for us up here. The weather has been cooperating somewhat, but as long as it stays mostly above zero I am HAPPY!

A goat uprising occurred the other day.......the Saanens got out and greeted me when I entered the barn! YIPEEE! Mom's HERE! Boing boing boing they came to me....tossing heads and bouncing like rabbits. They hadn't done any damage and couldn't get into things like grain bins, so I just had goat pellets to sweep out of the aisleway. I opened up their stall door and went in and called......2 Saanens followed me in gladly, and I gave them a quick treat. I walked out the back doors and once the other 2 and their renegade Nubian doe friend saw me, they came running and into the stall together we went. OH they were SO proud of themselves. Saanens have an incredible sense of humor and are found most days bucking and kicking as they run around their yard.

The sheep uprising consists of one unregistered ram with a penchant for protecting his flock. He's fine with humans, but he's not been happy when we take some of his ewes down to the herding arena - eventually he'll jump the fence and twice he's come down to the arena to gather his girls back up to take them home, or so he thinks. It's given the herding students something to do tho as one will have to take their dog and 'escort him' back to the pen. So, he's now locked into the shed when we take some of his girls down there. Hopefully we'll be done with breeding season here shortly as the rams have been MORE than full of themselves. Sheesh.

If you had some of those bad winter snowstorms or cold fronts at your place, I'm sorry. It seems to have done allot of damage and people are having to protect their animals from the cold and winds too. It's windy here today, maybe 45mph gusts, and at noon the temps have gone from +7 this morning to +27 in just 4 hours - the winds are bringing in warmth but also gusts now hitting 55mph, and those are awful. Time to go out and put the goats back into their stalls regretfully, a little too windy for pregnant does to be out in.

Have a great Sunday!