Sunday, July 5, 2015

Quiet Days

There is definitely an empty feel when we drive out to pasture and Lady is not there but I also feel a space of relief because upon the first few trips out to pasture since her death I still feel okay about the choice we made.   Thus far, I have shared my journey with a fair number of dogs and thus have experienced the loss of a fair number too.  How the death of dogs impacts me is perplexing.  Some turn me right upside down and some quietly seep out, just as they came in. The death of Lady is a quiet one.

Being down to four dogs out on pasture creates some incentive to get the woven wire perimeter fence finished.  A new and more secure perimeter fence will ease the job for the dogs.  I have not made any progress on convincing Zeus to be the fifth dog out there.  He returns to the rams every time. 

Diesel is one of the four dogs we have out on pasture which is still a bit of a concern since he tends to push other dogs around.  He has been wearing a drag object for the last while to prevent him causing too much trouble.  This morning I removed the drag, deciding to leave it off for the day, when life on pasture is low key and all the animals hunker down out of the summer heat.   I’ll put it back on for the night time as that’s typically when other animals are afoot and things get more exciting for the dogs.

Otherwise, the lambs are growing well and for the next while it looks like a pretty low key summer here with the usual routine of sheep and dogs.  I am not doing the usual moving of portable electranet fencing this summer which I'm thankful for (I don't miss that!).  I will be rolling out some wire fencing again, doing a lot of stock dog work and hopefully quite a bit of  work in the art studio as well. 

The little pups are becoming a handful, friends are visiting on an almost weekly basis to work stock dogs, and Allen and I have been convinced to host the fall sheep camp once more, so there is that too prepare for and look forward to. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

One Less Lady Among Us

Today was a tough but not unexpected day.  Lady seemed tired this past week; like she just wanted to rest.  The medications were not having much impact anymore and only serving to keep her here for our sake.  We knew it was time and made the appointment at the beginning of the week. 

Allen and I will certainly notice her absence and I am curious if and how the remaining guardian dogs will notice it.  Lily is the sole female now and seems poised to step into that role.  We are not in search of any replacement guardian dogs or pups just yet.   We have had a fair share of trauma's and tough losses this past year and a half and are not ready to add guardian dogs.  Besides that, the three Kelpie puppies and an unexpected adult stock dog, dropped here for training, have me swamped and feeling overwhelmed with dogs at the moment.  I can not add another new dog right now.   

We will sit tight and see how the five guardian dogs do.  Four are with the flock and we are trying to convince Zeus to join them, but so far he is still convinced he must be with the rams. 

Tomorrow morning's check of the flock will definitely have a spot of emptiness to it.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Solo Photo

It's all ears up around here!  Her worry lines are precious and fitting of her character.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

What Do They Know About It?

I almost forgot that I wanted to share these photos before lambing season was well and gone.  It’s a bit of a touchy topic to write about so it took me some time and edits to do so.

I see a side of sheep that is not often, nor properly, presented to the public.  I believe sharing these snippets is part of telling our agricultural story.  The picture on the billboards of the girl holding the cute white lamb is just a fraction of the story and a rose-coloured-glasses version at that.  

Lily drew my attention to this ewe and lamb when I saw the ewe chase her off.  Lily tried to retaliate and rushed the ewe but I intervened.   

This ewes lamb is dead, he died a natural death at birth or just shortly after.  Her too large teat on one side of the udder might be why.  While my practical brain tells me I need to pick up the dead body, my innate brain tells me that this ewe needs to be ready to leave the body first.

In this case the practical brain won out and I picked up the lamb.  The ewe became frantic, running around and hollering, even circling the Ranger, where the body was placed.  Didn’t she understand the lamb was dead?  Lily seemed to know that it was and wanted the prize.  I couldn’t drive away from the ewe.  I returned the body to the same spot and watched her.  She immediately returns to the body and sniffs it.

She tries to leave and calls the lamb to follow.  She does this numerous times and always comes back to the body.  She paces.  Her baa gets weaker and weaker.  I get tired of watching and consider taking the lamb away again.   Instead, I leave it there with her and decide to come back later. 

Within this natural style of farming I can do what I feel is within my means to respect the ewe and her sense of loss.  By doing so I honour my own relationship with the abundant life that is still going on all around me, and my relationship with the loss of life too.  This is one of many scenarios that cause me to love this natural style of farming, and why I think these parts of the story need to be told as much as the glossy ones do. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kelpie Pups

I took Cajun along to check the flock tonight.  The girls were split into two groups well apart from each other, so Cajun and I went to work moving one group of ewes and lambs to the next.  His work was beautiful and fluid and sure, and about the only thing I was needed for was to drive and shut the gate.

Cajun is at his best when he and I are out doing a job, I seldom see this style of work in him when I take him to the training sheep.  He is six years old and irreplaceable.  I wonder where in the world those six years went and think a lot about the new pups and what their future holds.