Sunday, July 24, 2016

Touring and Talking

We did manage to arrange a sheep and pasture tour for a group of Australian visitors last evening.  We had a gorgeous prairie evening for it which was amazing given that throughout the day it poured buckets of rain at our place (our old farmhouse started to leak).  I took a few photos of the tour group, however, sadly did not take any at the sheep show.  We drove our guests out to one of our native prairie pastures, which is also high ground and a gorgeous place to have a look around at the landscape in this area.  

Allen and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with these fun and genuine individuals who, collectively, had such a depth of knowledge and experience of rangelands and sheep.  It was a great exchange of stories and laughter.  

Today it was back to the sheep show and small fibre show, making for a full weekend of sheep, dogs, and fibre, and way more talking than I am used to doing.  I realized that I talk very softly, perhaps a habit born out of talking to animals all the time.  I think tomorrow will be a day off so I may just chill out and work my stock dogs a bit, maybe tackle the next issue of the Crooked Fences newsletter or do a bit artwork.  

[These are two photos from my archives]

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wool Art, Familiar Tails

Today was another day of the international rangeland congress; tomorrow I'm off to help set up for our provincial sheep and fibre show, happening this weekend.  After that I shall return to the regularly scheduled program of ranch life, sheep and dogs.

One neat thing about the congress - there are a few Australian delegates there who are looking for a place they can visit and see sheep and grass.  Someone passed my name around; we're trying to organize a tour here on Saturday.  Such a lovely connection for Allen and I, given we have the obvious sheep side of things to share but also the Australian Kelpies.

I did use a day away from conferencing to get stuff together for the fibre portion of our small provincial show.  I'll be doing some needle felting while there, and think I'll enter a fleece or two for judging.  I put a few hours into this piece hoping to have it complete for the show, and while I did manage to finish the scene I won't get the edges done and have it ready to hang.  I'll show it anyway.  I couldn't decide to go with Familiar Trails or Familiar Tails but Facebook friends decided on Tails.

The picture is showing a tad darker than it is for real.  I think I'll gallery wrap it on a canvas so it will be without a frame.  The felted area is 12 x 28 inches.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Let's Take A Sidestep

I have a small involvement within the local sheep industry, which I don’t normally share news about on this blog.  But it is through this involvement that I landed at the 2016 International Rangeland Congress this week (I happen to be the one who lives closest to the 2016 host city, Saskatoon) and where I experienced one of those rare, gifted moments of discovering one of your passions directly overlaps another, causing that feeling of synergy and knowing that really gets your heart beating. 

The Rangeland Congress brings together all manner of individuals, from around the globe, who have a stake in rangeland survival and health.  As many large conferences tend to be, this one is chalk full of science, programs and data, which can only hold our attention for so long.  

Then ecologist and author, Don Gayton took the floor and used story to tell what many were trying to get to the heart of through fact and science.  

Somehow he managed to capture and to tell, just with his words, no photos, no data presentation, of the pristine strength, resilience and soulful necessity of grass and rangeland - for all of us, no matter if we are urban or rural, or what we do.  And how it will be story, as much or more than science, that will drive it home to the ranchers, and convey it to the public and society at large.  Don had the attention of everyone in the room and he ignited a bit of a spark, and a great conversation.  For me it re-ignited a sense of optimism that sharing stories of what I call the everyday-ness of this sheep full, grass based ranching life isn’t a lost cause.  And maybe, just maybe there is potential for a longer story yet to be told.

Tame Grass Pasture

Saturday, July 16, 2016

On Breeding Dogs

You know how you can go for years without doing a particular thing that you think of maybe doing one day, then at some point you look back and realize all those years of not doing it was exactly what you needed to shape your goal and reason for doing it.  That has kind of been my process around breeding dogs.  

My life has been chalk full of dogs.  Throughout the three decades this life with dogs spans across, I have tread through various facets of dogdom with various dogs of all types.  Devoted pet owner, agility, high level competition, and agility judging. Teaching classes, fostering dogs and litters of puppies, attending seminars, clinics, workshops, co-founding a dog rescue organization and now this very full life with working guardian dogs and stock dogs.  This journey has trailed me through the pet/sport dog world and the working dog world, and the vast array of the ideas and ideals surrounding dogs in each of those worlds.  

The one aspect I avoided getting too familiar with is breeding dogs and I am glad it went that way.  Today it is very likely I let what I know get in the way of doing, but I have honed some high ideals surrounding dogs and breeding them. 

Because of the dedication and time it entails I still don’t know if I will breed dogs in the future but I am considering it with the livestock guardian dogs.  Lily is intact and the two pups will be left intact until there is reason to desex them.  I am very interested to see how the pups develop and if one was good enough, then to consider a litter.  

Livestock guardian dogs have also diverged into two distinct types and I now have a sense of what type I would breed for and knowing that puts a definite purpose behind breeding them.    

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Solo Photo On The Move

The Kelpies and I have been doing a lot sheep work the last few days.  In this instance we are moving the ewes and lambs to the South pasture - heading toward all those trees in the distance.  Gibson and Coyote Mic are along for the work and are just outside the foreground of the photo.  

Tonight we brought the flock home, and tomorrow we will sort off any ewes without lambs.  These ewes will be used for an upcoming sheep herding camp.