Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sleep Sheep

Sheep ~ Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)

Thousands of sheep, soft-footed, black-nosed sheep — one by one going up the hill and over the fence — one by one four-footed pattering up and over— one by one wiggling their stub tails as they take the short jump and go over — one by one silently unless for the multitudinous drumming of their hoofs as they move on and go over — thousands and thousands of them in the grey haze of evening just after sundown — one by one slanting in a long line to pass over the hill —

I am the slow, long-legged Sleepyman and I love you sheep in Persia, California, Argentine, Australia, or Spain — you are the thoughts that help me when I, the Sleepyman, lay my hands on the eyelids of the children of the world at eight o’clock every night — you thousands and thousands of sheep in a procession of dusk making an endless multitudinous drumming on the hills with your hoofs.


Monday, January 30, 2012


My memory seems to have completely left the building.  Thanks to peri-menopause I vacillate between giddy happiness and tears.  Sleep is elusive. Irritation too easily found.  

I keep cutting my hands on something at the farm - I have taken to carrying superglue in my barn coat pocket.  Super glue hurts like hell when you squeeze it into your cut. 

The sheep completely destroyed a round bale in less than a week.  Why do they feel it needs to be spread everywhere? Is there a problem with hay being neat and tidy?  
I believe this is the major culprit.  Naomi AKA PigPen.  The other day I found her between the round bale and wall of the shelter.  Wedged in there like a sausage.  She looked like a grass porcupine when she emerged from her cave.  Her fleece is going to be a wreck to spin. 

I am tired of pine bows, pine needles, sticks, branches falling and tripping over things since the storm.  Beth is tired of them too. 

We spread most of the smaller branches out as mud control.  


The sheep enjoy eating them and it has helped with traction. 


Eventually it will all be broken up, but in the meantime it can be tricky to walk on.  


We are renting a chipper and will be taking care of the rest of the mess next weekend.  

Beth is a never ending source of amusement for Jim.  He does not pay a lick of attention to Brynn.  But Beth seems to fascinate him.  I think it is because she is oblivious to him.  He just watches her, has never done anything other than to sniff and watch her with a curious look on his face. He knows she will not hurt his sheep.  

I have Jim pretty much leash trained.  He will let me hook him up to the leash by his collar and lead him around.  I am working on picking up his feet so I can trim his hooves without tethering his legs.  It has been like taming a horse, slow and steady building the trust.  I enjoy that goofy animal.  Never thought I would appreciate a llama's sense of humor before, but he is special.  

The wether formerly named Toby has an appointment with the livestock broker on Wednesday.  That is what happens to naughty uncooperative wethers who do not earn their keep by being workable.  Baa'd lamb.  

Sorry fella, but you are eating too much, costing us money and not doing a darn thing to pay your way - you are a pain in the arse to work and do not play well with others.  

On the other hand his twin Tulip is expecting.  

Tulip is not a 'wool' sheep and does not fit in my breeding program, however she is too adorable to sell.

After the dog attack we had to combine the sheep together with the ram.  We were hoping in the short window they were together she would not be bred, but it seems she has been. 

Thankfully she is over a year old.  I am not happy about letting her breed so young, but it couldnt be helped.  She will be one of the last to lamb in late March.  

Tulip likes to have her nose scritched. 

Tulip's mother Daisy is also expecting.  From the size of her I would suspect she is carrying twins again.  She is no longer shy and comes right up to me to get her neck scratched. 

The other day when I was trying to take close up pictures of the ewes she decided to get up close and personal with me...and my whistle which I had to yank out of her mouth.  (please excuse the motion blur, I had no idea I was pressing the shutter button as I pulled this out of her mouth).  Oops. 

Happy sheep eating tree branches.  

Day's end in the pasture.  

All I need to do to improve my day is spend it in company of sheep.  They never fail to lower your blood pressure and make you giggle.  


Miss Mohawk at your service.  

Have a great day y'all! 

Friday, January 27, 2012

I Miss this Face

Just 12 more days till I get to see how far she has come with DD training. 

And most importantly squeeze her squirmy little body and kiss her on the head.

I have missed her sunshine & happiness.  Thinking about it makes me teary.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TMT 2012 #4

1. How do you search for and then choose a trainer?

We are fortunate to live in an area where many trainers visit frequently.  When I first started in this 'voyage' I made a common mistake and scheduled with every trainer that came through the area.  My brain was overwhelmed with an agglomeration of conflicting training methods.  My obvious lack of knowledge left me unable to differentiate which method would better serve me or my dogs.  The over kill of information left me dazed and confused. 

It all came to a head when I walked out on a clinic, drove home in tears and vowed to buy back yard agility equipment.

Later I attended a clinic with Patrick Shannahan and through him I met Dianne Deal who clicked for me...that was almost three years ago. 

When looking for a new trainer, pick one, work with them for a while - give it a few sessions.  Then ask yourself a few questions: 
  • Do you feel comfortable or intimidated? 
  • Are you able to learn from them or do they leave you confused? 
  • How does your dog work when with them?  Does your dog shut down?
  • Do you like the way they treat your dog and livestock?  
  • Do you feel listened to?  Are your concerns addressed?  
  • Do they help you focus on goals and give you homework?  
  • Are you moving forward? 

2. The dog world is small and... uh... talkative. After choosing a trainer how do you handle those people in your life who don't believe in that trainer/trainers methods and criticize them to you?

I will consider the input.  Take what I want and then dismiss the rest.  It is much easier said than done, but everyone has an opinion.  I am comfortable with the direction we are heading in right now, not much is going to sway me from that path other than my own experiences. 

3. Do you believe that a person's personal life should influence your choice of a trainer? (i.e do you believe a person's choice to be a party animal outside of work would affect your choice?)

Every person needs to work in their own comfort zone.  To each their own.  I do not judge or dismiss someone simply because their personal choices are out of alignment with my personal value system. 

Regarding the example of a possible trainer being a party animal:  I know if I drinking heavily I am not able to function well the next day.  If I am paying money at a clinic for someone's advice and then see them out drinking themselves blotto the night before, the next day they are hungover at the clinic, or they are actively drinking while teaching the clinic....I am going to have a wee bit of an issue with that. 

Bottom line, it is your money, you have the right to chose whomever you are comfortable with.  It is a personal decision, but if you do use information about a trainer's personal life in the decision making process consider it may be based on nasty gossip.  Go to the source and ask if you have any questions. 

4. When you have a break through moment with your dog, do you feel that moment makes your connection stronger with that dog and makes the next step in training easier?

I have a break-through moment almost daily, retaining them and building on them is the challenge.  I don't think a particular break-though 'moment' is going to make my connection to my dog any stronger.  It might aid in understanding - but won't change our connection.  

5. Do you stick with just one trainer, or do you go to multiple sources for help? 

I started with too many trainers.  Narrowed it down to one (Dianne Deal) and now that I am more grounded and understand things better I am able to take a lesson with Scott Glen when he is in town.  Instead of feeling confused, I am able to find the common ground and apply what will work best for me and my dog...then build on it.   The great thing is Dianne encourages me to work with him too. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Last week it was so cold we had dogs stuck to fire hydrants all over town.  

But not Ranger, he was out doing his duty, preventing jolly ball tyranny.

"Jolly Balls are nuttier than squirrel turds if allowed to run free."

"This darn ball is slicker than a harpooned hippo on a banana tree."

"I think I got it."

"Lemme hold it a bit till I get my teeth sunk in."

"Darn thing is slippery as snot on a door knob."

"Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit, I got it!"

"OOmph, tripped..."

"Yep, I am sharper than a cue ball." 

"Ball Mayhem has been averted." 

"I WIN! "

Monday, January 23, 2012

Snow Sucks

I have had my fill of this white crap.  

I certainly hope you do not expect me to work in this sh*it.  
It is not in my contract.  

You ask me to do a damn thing in this COLD there better be plenty of Bacon forthcoming.  

Get the white crap off my ball! 

This is some f'ed up sh*t.  (News Flash: Beth does not like the snow.)

Get off and STAY OFF my ball! 

My ball, no white crap allowed.  

Unless it is Bacon Flavored.  

(Beth has a potty mouth, sorry, she picked it up from Camera Face.)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cleaning Up

I am unsure if I will be able to lift my arms ever again.  My back hates me too. Picking up large limbs, hefting them over a fence reminds you of muscles you forgot and the vital importance of using proper body mechanics while lifting.  I imagine Monique & her husband are not faring much better.  

See that pile?  


Let me clarify, there is a pile in the front.  AND a large pile in the back.  


The piles are a big dent in the debris.  Just the big stuff we could easily grab for now.  The rest will take days.  


Much of it is still buried under 12-18 inches of ice that had fallen off the trees above - I believe we have just scratched the surface.  The ice is slow to melt and seems to be hiding a lot of large branches.  

Many of these branches are 20-30 feet long.  

It is overwhelming. All of the green on the ground is debris that fell off the trees.  The small sticks can be painful for the sheep to step on - a few of the ewes are foot sore from trudging through the mess.  Eventually it will all need to be raked up and removed. 

The sheep are helping out. 

They're doing their best to lighten our load, fill their stomachs & scratch their heads on branches.  

Smart sheep.  

Jim has settled down a bit.  He quit shaking and is dry. 

His sense of humor survived the storms intact. As you can tell from the next shot.  The stinker is shaking a pine branch at my iPhone as I try to take his picture. 

Enjoy the food girls, eat as much as you can stand.  I hear that pine needles are also a natural parasite repellent, eat up!

After this pasture is cleaned up, we need to head down to the lower pasture where actual trees have fallen.  But right now it is flooded and still a snowy slushy mess.  

One day at a time. 
Win/Win :  We wanted to bring in a couple loads of wood chips to help with mud control.  Now all we need to do is rent a chipper.  It is a nice way to get something good out of Mother Nature pressing the reset button. 

Disturbing news of the Day:  The property owner fired off a few shots at a sizable coyote on the other side of the fence today.  It was approaching from the side where the neighbor from hell was evicted.  

If these sheep survive at least we will know they are hearty.  New farmers, winter hell, rouge dogs, and now a coyote.  *sigh*