Reflection Encore

Since I’m thinking of reflection photos ….

I was hanging around this wetland waiting/hoping for photo opportunities of a particular bird and/or the muskrats who are pretty active right now.  Wren and Tex pestered me for a bit when I first sat down and then wandered off.  They showed up on the opposite bank some time later.  

I was back at this wetland yesterday morning, waiting for muskrats once again.  As the prairie land dries and the water level shrinks, wide earth banks are ringing each wetland.  It will take the grasses some time to catch up and fill in.  

A Photo Published

Another happy occurrence.  Very pleased to have this photo shared on the cover of Sheep Canada Magazine.  I'm slowly spreading my wings.

Does the photo look familiar? You may remember a couple of the other photos taken at the same moment and shared on this blog here: Reflections of Ewe.  This is the second photo of mine that Sheep Canada published on the cover.  The first photo of the flock of ewes coming toward the camera appeared in the winter 2016 issue.

Maybe the feeling wanes after awhile but I hope not.  It's very satisfying to pick up a magazine and see your photograph on the cover, doubly so when the subject is what you have wrapped your life around.

A Surprise Letter

A completely unexpected letter arrived in the mail today.  

It came from the Canadian Cooperative Wool Growers, the company we send our wool to for marketing (minus what I keep for felting :-) 

We are recipients of the Certificate of Merit Award for excellence in commercial wool production in Canada. This is for the 2016 wool harvest as the 2017 Canadian wool clip is still being graded.  I think sixteen merit awards are handed out each year.  

I am grinning.  This simple act of recognition is a big compliment to this flock and to the helpers who pitch in each year on shearing day so that we may skirt and properly prepare the wool for shipping. I extend this award to each of them. 

We are going through the preparations for selling lambs and deciding on next years flock and changes needed.  That means we’re looking at things we don’t like in our flock and management of the land and sheep.  Receiving this gesture of recognition shifts that focus to all that is good.  It is very timely.  I am proud of this award. 

Bringing Them Home

Bringing them across the pasture.

Turning them in the yards to head to the barn paddock where they’ll stay overnight.  There are two kelpies just outside the photo, bottom left.  I’m about to send them along the fence line while I head off to the right to lead the ewes along a narrow trail between trees and toward the next paddock.  For the stock dogs going along the fence there is a lot of sheep pressure to work through given the length of it and the number of sheep. With a few head of sheep the sheep quickly peel off a fence and the dog gets relief of pressure (the sheep move away) but in this case the sheep cannot move away quickly given the close proximity of their neighbour.  It’s a lot of pressure for a dog to handle. 

Between large flock work and three sheep work the basic principles of work are the same, which is why we can do well starting dogs on a few head of sheep.  Yet because of these common and tough scenarios throughout moving a large flock that you can never practice for on small groups, the two working scenarios are vastly different for the dogs.  Many dogs who shine on three sheep struggle working large flocks until they gain the same experience that dogs who work large flocks have. And vice versa, dogs who work large flocks all the time have adjustments to make for precision when only working a few head.  Neither one better or worse, both in their element.  

This third photo is only a few moments after the second.  Can you see the two guardian dogs? Wren is pretty easy to spot moving against the grain as she is, Zeus is a little harder to find but he’s right near Wren.  Look closely.  Flat lighting as it is, I love this photo. 

It was a lovely evening of bringing the flock home. This morning we rose and the dogs and I headed out to move the sheep into the handling area and Allen and I commenced with a full day of weighing lambs. Kelpies are good and tired as are we.  

Pulled Off Course

I was pulled away from home for a few days this week to attend industry meetings.  I came home in the wee hours of the morning this morning.  After a couple gruelling days of tension filled meetings with difficult road blocks to overcome I feel drained.  

The morning check of the flock was a blur but by evening I was feeling more secure in the knowledge that I’m back where I belong and it’s all good.  

If I gained anything through this process it is reaffirmation that my purpose is here and if I’m looking for something deeper and more challenging perhaps that can be found within avenues and offshoots from this place, such as, writing, photography and artwork, and not in meeting rooms with tyrants.

I will say I held myself in good, calm stead throughout the chaos and likely balanced some of the tension - no doubt on account of the fact that I live, breathe and reflect on scenes like the one below on a regular basis.

A connection to the land is good for the soul and sometimes it's good to more souls than your own. 

Sheep on a Hazy Day

It is dry this year, the grass is dwindling and the wetlands are shrinking rapidly.  This flock is accustomed to moving regularly for grass and so the ewes are constantly looking to go elsewhere these days.

There is smoke and harvest dust in the air the last couple days.  Smoke is from northern forest fires in the province which  are not nearly as dire as the fires burning in British Columbia and in Montana.  Harvest dust is from all around us as neighbours are in the midst of taking crop off.  Each year that I listen to the buzz of harvest around us I grow more and more sure our decision to return this land back to grass was very good for us.

Sunset Sheep, Sunrise House

Still here. So much has happened with the house build this past week but regardless of the goings on, each day begins and ends with a check of the sheep and a visit with the guardian dogs. 

Day to day it feels rather like a dull routine that needs to be gotten out of the way, but once out in this prairie space there are constant reminders that bring my head up and stir my soul.  As this house build happens there is an unfolding of feelings and an unreal realization of all the choices and actions that have led to this creation.  I keep wanting to write that we are lucky but that isn't it - this does not boil down to luck.  This land, this flock and now this home, is built on years of life choices and all the other roads not taken.  This home on the prairie is becoming an extension of us and our view on land and life. As we partake in the building of it the totality of the connection between earth, plant, animal (domestic and wild), and human potential is taking hold.  I hope that we do this house and home justice.

This photo is from yesterday morning as the eastern sunrise catches the house. The house is covered with a tarp in the centre and on the backside where we have put up ceiling boards. This is to prevent rain/water stain on the new ceiling boards until the roof panels go up. The timbers will be fine to repel rain water. There is a branch at the peak on the left hand side.  After the raising of a timber frame, there is a tradition whereby the homeowner places a branch at the peak and thanks the forest for the timbers.

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