Tuesday, September 29, 2009


We are exhausted after spending last week in Klamath Falls, OR at 2009 National Sheepdog Finals.

There have been so many fantastic pictures on other blogs posted of the handlers with their dogs that I am not going to bore you with my terrible photos.

Diane Pagel kept a play by play report of the action throughout the week on her blog at

DeltaBluez Blogspot

Sunday's live action was also posted live by Pearse Ward on the National Finals Blog at

Comebye.net - A Home for Shepherds and Their Dogges

One thing we learned: Never, never, never go to Nationals without somewhere to keep your dogs. It was blazing hot during the day and I did not feel comfortable leaving my dogs in the car, or in crates near the car. So we ended up hauling them around with us on leash for five days. This proved to be difficult to manage and lessened our ability to watch and enjoy the runs.

Brynn may be a sweet loving dog to us, but in public she is difficult - regardless of all my efforts to socialize her. She is good meeting grown-up people but children are not her favorite and she barks at them when they move quickly. Other dogs are a challenge, she will growl, and snap if they get to close - many times we had to quickly remove her from the area. Over the days she did improve significantly. But I was constantly on guard to her barking or growling - so I was unable to relax.

Which meant John was unable to relax. The poor man. I ripped his head off more than once the past week. Actually, I am surprised I am still breathing, because if anyone had talked to me the way I talked to him...I would, simply kill them. But he patiently tolerates is. How? I don't know...

John was wonderful, many times he would take the dogs up to the pasture to run and potty just so I could catch a moment to watch some runs. On the last day he kept all three with him while standing in the sun so I could watch a few of the double lift runs. The seating was limited and I did not want to have any of my dogs near the fence or shedding ring on the off chance they would bark or lunge.

Perhaps it wasnt altruism rather self preservation that motivated his willingness to get away from me - but I am grateful all the same.

So many times we take our spouse for granted. Sure, they make you angry and there are times I have simply wished he would disappear (especially when he is snoring so loudly at night the walls rattle), but I love him and I appreciate how much he puts up with me, e.g., my snappy, sarcastic mouth. John found a friend in Jodi Darling. One afternoon I found him sitting with her at the "friendship mobile" in the parking lot...well on their way through a case of Corona's. He was in heaven with a beer in his hand and good conversation with a person who wasn't ripping his head off every other sentence.

John - Thank you for not killing me. Jodi - Thank you for keeping him inebriated & happy.

Watching nationals is a humbling experience. The oodles of talent and skill displayed on the field with each and every run is awe inspiring.

My favorite part was to sit in the tent and listen to the handlers discuss the runs, their training methods and their livestock - such a wealth of information.

We stayed in Tulelake, CA at Ellis Motel. It is a small family owned motel that is VERY 'retro' (another way of saying 1950's accouterments), but the beds are nice and the place is amazingly clean. The best part? It is DOG FRIENDLY! Directly next to the motel is a large field we were able to run our dogs off leash.

The dogs loved their morning and evening runs with their buddies. Vicki stayed at the same hotel with Blitz, Skye, Brandy, Doodle and Zoe. Our dogs were in heaven when their friends came out to play. Another new friend Patricia Pedersen (she ran a dog in Nursery) was also staying there. I will post those photos later.

One highlight of our trip was on the ride home. While driving through the mountains outside of Klamath Falls the traffic slowed. John shouted "Look at that!" when we saw a large black bear running hell bent for leather, like satan himself was chasing him out of the trees and right across the highway. Wow...those bears can seriously haul arse. What an amazing sight.

Now I am off to can more tomatoes, applesauce and pears. Later we are heading down to Fido's for some sheep time.

So glad to be home.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Floppy Frisbee

Since Beth got her stitches out it was time for some river fun.

We found a nice spot on the river that seems to be free of old fish and smelly fishermen. Or is that old fishermen and smelly fish...depends on the day I guess.

Ranger brought along his pride and joy, Floppy Frisbee.

Ranger would follow Floppy to the ends of the earth and bring him back.

But he forgets about Beth.

Beth covets Floppy too

She lets Ranger do all the swimming, then she makes her move.

It is a Floppy Threesome

Sometimes a Floppy Foursome

Occasionally we have a Floppy Quintet

Ranger is patient

Most of the time...

Sometimes he tries to assert himself.

"You cant have my Floppy"

"It is MINE"


When is Ranger going to learn that it is simply pointless to argue with a female?

No matter what, they will make your life a living hell until you just let it go...

Females stick together

Friends, defenders

Supporting & leading the way

Advocating against adversity

Standing behind you, no matter what...

The B - Girls. Sisters from a different mother

United in support

Each is beautiful

Quirky & charming

Even on a bad hair day

Ranger, face it... you are the only male in this equation.

Dude...Accept it, resistance is futile. Girls always win.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Peaches & Tomatoes

One of the wonderful things about Washington State is the abundant produce grown locally.

We have been trying to practice the 100 mile diet concept regarding eating locally whenever possible.

My trip to Moses Lake enabled me to purchase a large amount of produce that was grown locally. After visiting the pups at Pat's house I stopped by a local orchard and bought 75 lbs of peaches, 25 lbs of nectarines and 25 lbs of apples (I am going back in a month for more apples) for approximately $50.00.

Yummy fresh peaches...

Three boxes of yummy peaches ... crap 75 lbs of yummy peaches. That is alot of peaches.

When I was at Pat's house she gave us tons of melons, cabbage, squash and peppers from her garden.

Yummy, the dogs love squash! Which is cool, because my kids hate it. Nature has a way of balancing things out so nicely doesn't it?

Our garden has produced a huge bounty too. We have tomatoes, peppers, zucchini & cucumbers coming out of our ears. Which is why I love canning jars...

Friday night we started canning peaches. The process is easy, albeit time consuming.

First you need to blanche the peaches (drop them in boiling water for 30 seconds, then drop them in icewater - this makes them very easy to peel). Peel them...

Cut them up, making mess is a requisite part of the process

Don't wear nice clothes - because they look like this when you are done.

Make sure you drop some on the floor every now and then. Dogs love peaches too. Dogs are also handy to have around when a slippery peach shoots out of your hand and lands 15 feet away on the living room carpet. No problem, they clean it right up. Good dogs.

After cutting them up (peaches, not dogs), sprinkle on some Fruit Fresh to keep them from browning. Please note: I didnt put enough on this batch. oops.

Stuff the peaches in jars, then pour boiling syrup over the top. Wipe the rims, slap on a lid and screw down the band.

I love the color of peaches a jar. Makes me warm and happy inside.

The last step is to plunge those jars into boiling water for 35 minutes. I love my canners...more than my husband I think.

After they process, put them somewhere nearby to cool...so you can hear the glorious sound of lids popping and bask in the pleasure that you too can preserve food (and save oodles of money at Christmas giving local home canned preserves and fruit as gifts).

Of course you need to stop and eat along the way. Peaches and coffee...perfect combination.

Kids with full mouths are quiet kids which makes mom happy.

After the peaches...we embarked on the mountain of tomatoes from our back yard.

SALSA time. Here is a link to several excellent recipes we use SALSA FOR CANNING

Blanche, peel and chop up your tomatoes.

Chop up a mess of onions. Here is a tip, use a small desk top fan & blow it over your cutting board as you chop the onions. Viola...no more tears. The kids next to you will start crying though...oops.

Our garden produced a ton of peppers. Mild and Spicy...we made three types of salsa. One with extra garlic, one extra hot and one medium.

Dump it all together with garlic, spices, lime juice (for the correct pH) in a pot.

Mix it up

Bring it to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Pour it hot into jars & process it for 15 minutes.

While you are doing that...make your children grate up zucchini. At Chez Harwell we believe in Child Labor and enforce it often. If they want to eat, they work. Kinda like training dogs...they work for their food. Works on husbands too - effective tool to make them do the dishes.

Wait, where are the boys? Why do they always dissapear when we are cooking? Is it genetic?

Why is it when you kids get ahold of your camera do you always find these type of pictures? Someone please tell me WHY?

Grace will hate me for this someday. Oh well...she will remember the peaches forever.

So will I...

After canning all the salsa we whipped up several loaves of zucchini bread for the freezer. This is just the beginning...

Canning and baking is such exhausting work. Doing all the dishes just takes it right out of you...

Supervising all this work zaps all your strength. Just ask Ranger...

Peaches or Salsa anyone? We have plenty!

75 lbs of peaches = 40 quarts canned and a whole bunch still sitting in the fridge.

Moses Lake Pups

I am seriously behind in posting the happenings in our lives...because, you know, Life gets in the way sometimes.

Last Wednesday we hopped in the car and drove 388 miles round trip to Moses Lake to meet these two pups.

Emma and Caryl (pronounced Karl). Click on their names to see their Bio's on PNW Border Collie Rescue website.

Emma and Caryl are being fostered by Pat in Moses Lake. Pat fostered Brynn and countless other litters of puppies. Sadly this last litter all came to her house with parvo, one puppy died but the rest survived and have been adopted. Emma is a little fighter, she spent four days at the vet overcoming the infection. Caryl luckily never contracted it.

The differences between these two pups is like night and day. They are in that awkward stage between puppy and adult dog. They are lanky, goofy but oh so cuddly.

Emma is a tiny little thing. I doubt it if she will get above 25 lbs fully grown.

Emma's ears are almost as big as her head.

Can we say FAST? Wow...

Emma is confident, independent with a goofy sense of humor.

She is such an affectionate monkey.

To get an idea just how petite and tiny Emma is...here is a picture (badly lit, sorry) of Emma near Brynn. Look at the difference in the size of Emma's head compared to Brynn who weighs 28 lbs.

Caryl is much larger than Emma. Pat was told this litter came from working parents in southern Oregon. Uhhh, say what?

Perhaps Caryl is a throw back, but he sure looks like mom romanced a Sherman Tank along the way.

Caryl may look tough, but he is all love and affection. He likes to give hugs, kisses & snuggle in your lap.

But his moves are typical border collie puppy... herdy & intense.

Smart little fart

Caryl has an boo boo on his back, that required sutures but is healing nicely now.

He loves to watch the other dogs, race after them and bring them back.

I sure hope someone can see past the goofy ears, simple coloring, and awkward looks. Whoever does will get a wonderful little dog. Pat & her husband Bob do such an amazing job with their litters.

Both of these pups are beautifully socialized, have wonderful manners and are just plain fantastic little pups.

I wish I had 500 acres and the ability to care for more dogs than I have now.

I would be a weird dog lady. You know the one....the strange woman who smells funny, has oodles of dogs, doesn't speak to people but talks to her dogs all the time. Shoots at strangers who come onto her property...treats her dogs like children

Wait...that is me now - without the 500 acres of course.