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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!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

How was your Christmas and New Year?? I hope you had a good one - do you do anything special, or get something that is particularly interesting? If so, you can share it here, I don't mind!!

I got some particularly nice bath salts that someone made. Just right, when it's so terribly cold out there is nothing better than a hot woodstove or a hot bath.

Speaking of which.......the week of Christmas we had a heat wave. Known as the Pineapple Express, it's a warm front that comes up the ocean from Hawaii directly up to Alaska. It has to be a big storm to make it this far, and have plenty of strength to it. It made it! We were above freezing most of the week. That's quite a long heatwave for us for winter time. Then, after last weekend, the temperatures began to drop back to normal, and then kept going. As of last night, we had -5. Right now as I type, it's -7 at 7pm. Ok, that's kinda cold but not TOO cold. -15 is when I begin to think it's too cold, and at -20, everyone thinks it's too cold and they begin to get witchy about it too. I think the new shopping malls are lovely, a string of stores on a plot of land with trees and parking lots, all with their own store fronts and pretty sidewalks........but they aren't friendly to Alaskans. Why would you want to be in a nice comfy store, shopping away, and then remember you need to go to a store 3 stores down from where you're at. You're warm. It's cold out there. If the wind is blowing, as it does allot in Wasilla, then the thought of walking to your truck, putting in your shopping, going back out to the sidewalk and walking down to another store all the while freezing your butt off - now, if the store you're already IN might have the same thing, why bother to walk down to the next store in the cold in the least that's what most people think. Now the old fashioned shopping mall with all the stores under one roof - THAT is what we love in Alaska! And there is one, but sadly it's in Anchorage. Oh well.......

So back to the cold. Tonight when doing chores, I brought the goats into the barn and turned on the blast heater. While it was going, I went outside and did the rest of feeding and watering. Then I can go back into the barn and it's 20 degrees warmer in there - just enough to make things feel comfortable, get the milking done, and turn out the lights for the night. Bedding is deep for everyone; extra hay put out so that if they think they are getting chilled they can get up and eat more hay for more instant energy. The sheep are free-choicing hay right now and getting some grain morning and night also. The sheep also got a fresh batch of trace mineral salt in their bins and in the cold weather, they eat allot more of it than usual in the warmer weather. So don't forget to give your livestock extra free choice salts and mineral/vitamin mixes too!

Hope your new year is a good one!!