Monday, April 30, 2012

Alyssa Plays with Brynn - video

I dare you to watch this video and not giggle. Alyssa enjoyed picking up the ball and throwing it for Brynn.

Note: All interaction between Alyssa and the dogs is strictly supervised.  

NEVER leave a baby alone with a dog.

Especially not with a ball and a border collie. NEVER!

Brynn is a good choice for Alyssa to do this with because she avoids touching the baby, and will nicely put the ball down so Alyssa can pick it up.  

When allowing a baby to play with a dog it must be supervised, and you must know the dogs and their reactions to sudden erratic movement, loud noises, and stress.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Morning Graze

Our new morning routine is to move the sheep out of the upper pasture, into an unfenced area, through the side yard of the house and down into the very back reaches of the property.  It is still too wet to safely get the tractor down there to mow and I would much prefer to have the sheep be full of grass as opposed to cutting it.  

It is a win/win.  They stuff their faces.  I don't have to mow & my boss does not have to pay me for the hours I would be sitting on the tractor.  

The grass is fertilized and dandelions are delicately extracted from the lawn, with precision accuracy.  

Behold, the Dandelion Destroyer weed eradication system.  

She spots her victim. 

Whoosh it is gone.  Just like that, naturally, without the use of chemicals. 
After you move the sheep once, they get the routine down.  The trick is to get them through the yard without taking bites off the rhododendrons, which are highly toxic and can cause a painful death by poisoning.  

Brynn's job is to move the sheep quickly through the yard, then keep them off the back of the house and in the lower pasture which we are clearing.  

Her favorite thing is to sit high up on this log and view her domain.  

For the most part the sheep are well behaved and stay in the back.  They have plenty of forage to keep them busy.  


In addition to the Dandelion Destroyer, I have put a stump removal crew to work.  

Stump removal is hard work, requiring frequent naps.  

This ewe has an opinion about making her lambs perform farm chores. 

"I oppose lamb farm labor."

After the flock is stuffed, they ruminate and chew their cud.  

Napping lambs are fun to sneak up on & tickle.  Try it some day, it will make you giggle.  

Like people, they are rarely satisfied, and the grass is always greener in the forbidden zone.  

They wouldn't be sheep if they passed an opportunity to plot their escape.  For the most part sheep are predictable creatures.  They telegraph their intentions clearly if you know what to look for.  

Here you can see them looking at the area of the yard they are NOT allowed into.  

That would be due to this brat.  

"Hey Girls! Yummy poisonous plants this way! Whoever wants horrible stomach cramps, projectile vomiting and a painful death follow me!"

Why are they drawn to things that will kill them?  Some of the sheep seem smart enough to NOT eat this damn plant.  

Some, obviously, are not.  

"Ooooh look, I haven't tasted that yet.  I bet those shiny leaves are gonna taste good."

Brynn says "Step away from the Rhododendron idiots!"


Other than keeping them from killing themselves it is a pretty quiet morning.  

I can enjoy the sounds of the birds, the occasional eagle flying over head (watching the sheep scatter) and relax before I have to start busting my butt on the landscaping or clearing.  Brynn enjoys her morning on patrol & naps the afternoon away while I work. 

 Full and contented sheep make me smile.  More than anything they make my wallet happy - all the less money I have to spend on alfalfa.  

 This weekend we shear, finally.  The sheep will be so happy. 

Time to head back to the pasture for afternoon cud chewing.  

Till tomorrow...

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Worker Bea

Miss Bea has been doing chores.  Nothing too demanding.  I am not expecting perfection.  But what she does needs to be correct, but if it isn't I am not going to get bent out of shape about it.  I just want to give her exposure and build up some confidence and experience.  More than anything I want the chores to make sense to her so she can really get her feet under her - and grow. 

Today she helped me move the ewes & lambs from the upper pasture, through the night pen, down the alley then across the lower pasture to the pen in the front by the road.  The whole time I stayed close to her, gave her confidence and backed her up if the ewes were bitchy trying to protect their lambs. 

First we gathered the flock from the far reaches of the upper pasture.  That is a chore because they spread out under the trees.  Bea has to hit the fence-line then push them down to the gate.

You can barely see her little head way in the back (to the left of the tree in the center), a good girl, laying down as I asked.  

She moved them nicely across the pasture toward me.  (Please pardon the icky iPhone pictures)

The black and white ewe, Daisy, likes to pick fights with the dogs.  She decided this day to challenge Bea.  You can see her turning, for no reason what so ever.  Bea is not too close to her lambs, she is just being a biatch. 

When I stepped over to help Bea, Daisy darted off with her lambs.  She was not happy about leaving this pasture. 

Bea was up for the challenge.  She ever so politely walked into her.

Daisy stomped her feet.  

Bea kept moving forward.  When Daisy started to charge....

Bea met her face with some teeth.   I did not get a shot of that because I was egging Bea on and had to concentrate.  Daisy turned and ran back to the rest of the flock. 

Bea got the rest through the gate ever so politely. 

I love the way she works.  She feels everything.  Every little nuance or turn of the sheep, Bea will compensate.  She errs on the side of safety and will opt to put less pressure on that more.  As she gains confidence that will change.  

With the exception of Daisy, the ewes seemed to like her a great deal.  The work was calm, orderly and quiet. 

Into the night pen...around the lamb pen.  When I blew a lie down, she would drop.  Such a unique & wonderful thing.  

Into the alley...

Around the corner and out to the lower pasture they go...

I stopped taking pictures here because I wanted to be able to help her, the sheep were not thrilled to be pushed out in the front pasture & things got a bit tricky. 

Dianne did an amazing job with her so far.  I am tickled pink.  Not sure I will be able to let her go back to Idaho for more training in October. 

Now if I can just start calling her by the right name.  What possessed me to name all my dogs "B" names? 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Echo & Brynn

This last weekend we had a visitor come by the farm.  Brynn's littermate Echo stopped by to hang out and meet the sheep with her family. 


Brynn has not seen Echo since she was a wee puppy at their foster home in Moses Lake, WA, three years ago this month.  

Brynn & Echo were good friends way back then. Below they are playing with the nanny dog Cassie at the foster home. 

Brynn and Echo today

Echo was blessed with awesome ears.  

And the cutest head tilt ever.  

The resemblance is striking, except for the ears.

Brynn has the air-plane ears

Echo has flying-nun ears

They stand the same, they drool the same. 

They both love to play ball.  Intense hard working dogs.  They even have the same tongue and love for the water. 

While Brynn is an working sheepdog, Echo is not sure what to do with sheep.  

She was not impressed by all.   We let Echo watch Brynn work, you could see a little glimmer, but then she would turn to her mom and look away. 

Echo made it clear that is not what trips her trigger. 

Where Brynn would curl up in a corner and die without sheep...Echo didn't care one iota for them. 

Brynn was just fine with that.  She tried to share, but was happy to keep them for herself. 

Brynn showed off her sheepdog moves, trying to get Echo interested. 

Alas it was for naught.  All Echo wanted was to be with Holly and her boy Nick.  That is what rocks Echo's world.  Her family. 

While sheep may not be her forte, Echo and her handler Holly are kicking butt and setting records in Noseworks competitions. In her first trial Echo won first place overall in addition to receiving the Noseworks One title. She also placed in 3 out of 4 elements: 2nd in interior & vehicle searches and 1st in exterior.  Her overall time for all 4 elements was 57 seconds, the only dog to do it in under a minute total. 

Who needs sheep when you have an kick-ass nose?