Monday, October 17, 2016

The Two Birds

I am feeling torn about my two little birds, Wren and Crow. Both pups are showing guarding behaviour now, so the notion of what they are here for is definitely there. That’s good. Both are comfortable around sheep - another plus, however, Crow does not have a bond to the sheep. He will wander through and lie down next to sheep, but he could just as easily be without them (and the other dogs), and that makes all the difference.

The difficulty is watching Wren who knows to be with sheep but is pulled to following Crow. Wren likes sheep and her bond to them and his lack is very notable. Wren also cares to be with the other dogs; she is insecure and needs the backup that sheep and dogs give her. I’m not sure raising Crow as a singleton would have changed how he is, but it would have been better to have raised Wren without a pup like Crow.

They are expert at slipping through fences, although Wren dislikes it, she persists in order to follow Crow who has no trouble with it all. Little sweet Wren is easily put off if I’m not careful when I try to make a point with Crow and send him back to the sheep.

photo taken one month ago
The crux of Crow is that he is dearly devoted to doing what he thinks he should, and being where he thinks he should be, without sway. He would be a gorgeous and very purposeful dog on a small holding where the animals are situated around the yard or corrals, and the people.

I’m in serious contemplation of selling Crow. Allen thinks we should give him the winter and see what happens, before we decide.

It seems fairly certain he won’t make a flock dog who stays out with the flock on pasture. He’s largely driven by his stomach which leads him everywhere else. He is incredibly scent hound like, fiercely stubborn with a lovely laid back, hound like, personality and a deep booming bark.

He has taken a deep fondness for showing up at the yard and spending his nights here which is my main irritation. He has become the hound on the front porch step and come morning he knows to be back with the sheep before I get out there.

What makes the idea to sell him a tough one is that he is a good guardian dog and is patrolling and doing his small puppy part already. And perhaps his heart is big enough he feels he can cover sheep and us too. A very endearing quality, and yet the yard is not where I need him and the bigger risk is that he influences Wren.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

On Tex and Pups

The snow is melting slowly and grass is showing but more rain is expected.  The sun has made brief appearances, offering brilliant breaks from the grey.

I moved the ewes over to join the lambs last week, so we're all one big happy flock again. I'm trying to keep all guardian dogs, minus Zeus who won't leave his rams, with that flock. Arrangements are being made for the sale of lambs so we'll be sorting them out again soon enough, but predator pressure on the lamb flock dictated we get everybody together with maximum dog power.

For a long time we have heard coyotes but seen few. Lately we are seeing them criss-crossing the countryside. The pressure comes and goes and we have had several easy years. As we head into winter I do not regret buying more guardian dogs and feel deeply pleased we were able to add an adult.

Tex is doing well. After some time of staying in one place and letting things settle with the other dogs I moved him out to be with the lamb flock (when the lambs were still in a separate pasture). Soon Whiskey joined him on his own initiative, perhaps recognizing that is where the predators were, and Lily was coming and going between the main flock and being near the rams and Zeus. Oakley remained with the ewes, Zeus with the rams.

Now the ewes and lambs are joined again and four of the adults dogs are stationed together. So far so good and perhaps the increase in workload is keeping everyone on common ground and too busy to cause trouble with each other.

And the pups, oh I’ve got a small book worth to tell on those two...  We’ve had headaches and highlights.  These two are really making me question the choice to raise them together.  I'll write more in way of explanation and fill you in soon. 

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Solo Photo - Artwork

Thought I would share the finished piece.  I love all the color in the hair.  Looking at it now it needs more contrast and depth, especially on the muzzle, right around the nose.  Still no title and my feelings toward the piece are that it is very, very decent, however, not a great piece really.  That's fine, it feels good to be attempting artwork again and once I'm back at it day in and day out the improvement will come as will the creative ideas.

color pencil
11 x 14

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Good Weather or Poor

Good weather or poor, remaining indoors is not an option when one has livestock, and while one can pass their time in the coziness of indoors, the conditions outside will be what they will be for as long as Mother N needs it to be so.  We are into our seventh day of heavy, grey cloud, and the fifth day of snow or rain.   The whole place is a mucky, snowy mess. We just all want to feel dry again.

Looking out the window the morning did not appear to be much different from the last six mornings of grey and snow. Still, I heeded a small nudge to take the camera along during my morning walk. It did not disappoint. It was a noble, calm, flat grey morning with snow quietly falling. It felt as though we momentarily stepped into the monochrome world of photographer Ansel Adams. I was compelled to find something to photograph.

Snow cover and open water are contrasting features here on the Canadian prairie.

About an hour later, I was trudging out to feed guardian dogs. While there was no orb of sun to be  seen in the sky, it was shedding what light it could through the grey cover. The guardian dogs were beautifully poised and so colourful against the monochrome scene, no matter where they were situated on the snowy landscape.

Happy Thanksgiving indeed, good weather or poor. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Down Time Equals Art Time

We are hovering right around the zero mark, making for a very slow melt of the foot or more of snow that fell in the area. There are still spots that are impassable. There is some damage to trees but only minimal, they are beginning to right themselves again as the weight on their leaf covered branches lessens.

The ewes and lambs are venturing forth in search of edible greens once again.  The dogs are moving around again and either Whiskey or Tex killed a badger caught in the pasture with the lambs. The rams and dogging sheep were offered hay because they are in smaller paddocks with limited greens to find underneath the snow.

This dump of snow is early, wet and unexpected in many ways besides the struggle of dealing with it in every day existence. The crop harvest was in full swing in surrounding fields, our hay has yet to be brought home, we still have growing lambs at pasture, and we hoped to do some fencing yet plus prepare a site for a house build next year.

We typically see first snowfall right before Halloween, and by then the ground is well on the way to freezing. Then the first snow settles on an already frozen surface and we can continue with regular work well enough until the real cold hits.   That is how we hope to start our winter season because then we’re not dealing with ice underneath the snow for the next five months.

This wet snow is a good amount of moisture already in place for next year.  Our fingers are crossed in hope that we’ll have a warm spell and see it melt.  Meanwhile I took full advantage of a half day of down time to be indoors and begin this dearly missed activity once again.

Progress throughout the day... since it's been awhile I found myself flitting here and there rather than working one area and then moving on.  I have a few more layers, the eye and the detail in the fur to finish before it's anywhere near done, but I am starting to relax back into the process.  The dog is a Maremma I knew well, now deceased.  No title for it yet and photo color is a bit darker than real.