Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Blessed Shearing

It’s the end of a long day. I’ve just come in from taking the dogs for a short walk in the dark and then puttered around the kitchen tiding up from supper. While I’m exhausted I’m not ready to head to bed because it’s one of those days I have to savour for a moment more.

To reflect on how this all came together and turned into a day of beautifully blended people working harmoniously at a common task. And that that common task was helping Allen and I out during a long day of shearing.  By gosh we are so blessed.

Blessed to have first rate friends like Jill who come out year after year, even knowing what she’s in for. And that she brought along Judith who was eager to experience a day of shearing and soak it all up and who boldly jumped right in to help out.

Larry and Liezel who drove three hours one way to join us first thing this morning, stayed with us the entire day and brought fresh farm eggs.

Heath who took a day away from city life to see what shearing was about because Allen asked him if he would help.

Cynthia who made the trip out from the city to join us in the afternoon, and was a welcome relief person.

Rodney, a nearby neighbour, for coming by in exchange for some help on his shearing day and staying right to the end, which I don’t think he was expecting to be quite so far off  when he arrived.

And by gosh, Andrea. Andrea got in touch with me a short while ago via my website. Just a simple email that said she was interested in coming out for shearing day. Oh, and she said she has a love for fibre. We did not know each other before this morning. Last night when it looked like we would have enough extra hands to keep up, Allen and I sorted out how to add a skirting table so we could try our hand at skirting fleeces, something we have never done before.

Well, Andrea happened to be quite the expert on wool and skirting fleeces. What are the chances that just the person we needed was here today. A complete stranger to boot. The synchronicity of that is just glorious. Andrea and I hit it off right away, discussing a common fondness for good wool. Of course she is no longer a stranger and yes, she really does love fibre.

And also, Jared who came along mid morning, expecting only to stay a short while and staying much longer, engrossed as he was with putting his dogs to work moving the ewes.

Finally the shearers. Lorrie, Laverne and Dave. What a terrific crew of guys.  Per usual they put in a solid’s days work, shearing 400 head without complaint, when they (and I) were only expecting around 350. I’m still not sure how my count got so wrong but I'm chalking it up to those smaller lambs I decided to leave in the group to be shorn instead of sorting them out. 

The day flowed right on by, almost seamlessly. Tomorrow morning as I feed animals and slowly ease normalcy back into the farmyard I’ll still be counting the blessings of this day.

Thank You All.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Pre Shearing BeeHive

It’s a beehive here as we ready for shearing on Tuesday and deal with rain and snow.
Sheep were brought indoors this afternoon when the rain showed up and then let out when the sun came out and put then back in again when the sleet started in the evening. Tomorrow morning they will be back out. And tomorrow night back in again.

This is what wet weather before shearing means. We’re really hoping for the forecast sunny, dry day tomorrow and Tuesday.

I put BJ to work with Gibson for bringing the flock in the second go round. Her first go at flock work. What a treat it is to work that dog. I brought BJ along in work very differently than I did Cajun and Gibson. Recognizing how sensitive she is I just let her work, without demanding she show any one skill or another (a novice mistake I made with Cajun and Gibson). So far I like that approach very much. She’s tight and fast and she knows it’s okay to work how she needs to. I’ve learned that that last part is the most important.  All the other fancy stuff will come later - when she's ready for it.

It’s been a busy couple days. Our usual pace of life has sped up and the weather wishes to complete matters. Nonetheless there are plenty of moments that remind me how remarkable it is to live a prairie life with sheep and dogs.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cold Shower

Away and back again. My second presentation on livestock guardian dogs is over and done. Afterward I enjoyed a visit with my sister and family. Today I gingerly picked my way home again as our province is being swept with a springtime winter storm. A cold shower if you will.

When I left there was only a little bit of snow in the tree belts and valleys. Everything looked so hopeful for Spring. It felt like the shock of a cold shower to see the yard blanketed by snow once again.

I’ll enjoy this evening arrived fresh home and tucked indoors and then next up is earnest preparation for shearing on Tuesday.  Panels to move, building to ready, sheep to sort, meals to make. And prayers that the snow ceases and the sun shines to be said.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What Are LGD Puppies up to All Day Long?

They play, they catch lovely scents in the air, and they still sleep for long periods. 

In the morning they take walks around the sheep paddock with me, weaving in amongst the steer, the llama and the rams. They interact with Oakley and Zeus. Then it’s back to their own paddock and their own small band of older lambs that they hang out with. They get breakfast and then I leave them alone. I slip back out at noon to note where they are and feed them lunch. They explore and play some more.

I go back out again in the evening. We might do another walk around then. They might mingle with the stock dogs. Then I tuck puppies and sheep up indoors so they sleep near each other.

The pups can still slip through almost every fence, including the woven wire and sheep panel fencing. But if I set them with the sheep and leave out the reinforced front gate, they haven’t figured out to go around and get out the back fence. So they stay put, which works well for both of us.  I won’t hot wire the paddocks until the pups are a bit older... well, actually my reason is far more selfish, I don’t want to do it until it’s a bit nicer out.  :-)

Pippa scents the air, animals are downhill to the left

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On The Easel

Carving out little bits of time (usually early morning, before the sun is up time) to pick away at this piece. I know the photo looks fuzzy.  The un-worked parts are quite faded at this point. You can see that I’m working in more detail starting at the top left corner.

I delivered the male pup to his new home today and stayed to be a part of my friend Liezel’s shearing day work bee. There is something quite satisfying in seeing a flock of sheep sheared (and eating delicious homemade lunch and pie afterward).  I wonder if the shearers feel that way.

I still have board meeting homework to get to and another LGD presentation to get ready for, so just time for quick post tonight.  I’ll be doing an update on the pups soon.