Pasture Zen

Pasture zen is highly recommended and needed in this line of work.
I believe many farmers miss these opportunities which are seated right in front of them and perhaps that small detail accounts for the attitude and shape of our industrial farming industry.

I absolutely love taking a few moments and sometimes longer to be in pasture spaces. To get down on the ground and feel the grass and bugs, or to sit on a rock and listen to them.  A dog nearby who leans on you momentarily.

This is where I live, this is what I see, this is what I appreciate. This is my sanity.

Sheep Show

Sheep shows are a bit surreal to me but it’s a chance to get photos of sheep that are not my own, in a setting that is far from everyday.

Black face beauties were plentiful.

 I love this girls look and am disappointed the photo is blurry. I saved it anyway.

 Nothing to do but wait, and maybe converse with the guy next door.

Show time.

 The view from above.

One of my favorite fellows at the show. Val, the lady I purchased the Corriedale sheep from last week, purchased this handsome Lincoln Longwool ram.  His curly locks look so silky rather than like wool.

 A common greeting as I walked the pens to see sheep.

I'm not all that into the showing of sheep or the auction sale of them afterward, but taking photos made for an interesting day.

And Just Like That Wishes Become Reality

About two weeks ago I felt the familiar pang that arises from the lack of human company and activity, outside of the regular routine of life. I told myself either company has to come this way or I have to go and find it.

Well, at the start of this week things of that very nature began to happen.

On Wednesday afternoon a trucker arrived with a delivery.

Shortly after that a friend and fellow dog man from Montana, USA arrived for a short visit with a few dogs of his own in tow. Bill and I immersed ourselves in talking Kelpies, working Kelpies, and discussing the breeding of Kelpies, and in between that, catching up on each others lives since we last had a visit.  My girl BJ is from Bill’s kennel at Burradoo Ranch.

Last night in an intense downpour of (more) rain some new woolies were delivered.

Today I’m busy preparing some artwork to display and sell at our provinces annual sheep show and sale. Tomorrow I’ll be at the show and be surrounded by sheep loving folks for the day.

Sunday is drop off day for artwork being submitted to the Saskatoon Showcase of the Arts held at the cities annual exhibition fair. I’ll be off to deliver a couple pieces there.

Life was a bee hive of activity this week and admittedly all thoughts about posting to the blog melted away.  Truthfully I didn’t think much about the blog until today.  I was temporarily living in another world. I had a wonderful few days of sheep, dogs and artwork shared from an entirely fresh set of eyes. Times like these are precious to me and essential to living a good life.

Oh, the trucker’s delivery....
I’m sad and glad about this one at the same time.

22 pallet loads, each pallet containing 6 rolls of wire, 330 feet per roll. One hell of a lot of fencing to look forward to.

And the new woolies are Corriedale ewes and lambs, plus one ram. I’m starting a tidy flock of Corries for the purpose of wool production. They’re beauties and I’m already in love with them.

Quiet Lull

Family Photo :-)
With the ram back in his place, the world at Dog Tale Ranch is righted once more.
The last few days have been quiet with no grazing moves of the flock since they are grazing on an entire quarter section of land.

The stock dogs and I are enjoying work time on the small band of training sheep held near the yard.

The guardian pups Lily and Pippa continue to hash out their disagreements on a regular basis. The tides have turned on their relationship and it appears that Pippa is now calling the shots.

New fencing material is on its way to us and once it arrives the days will be consumed with fencing. Until then I’m taking advantage of the quiet times to enjoy the dogs, do some writing and dive into some artwork.

Sweat, Shit and Tears, Solo Style

Some days managing this place on my own is wrought with adventure. Before I share what yesterday morning was all about, there’s a few background details to lay out, all which became grossly apparent in one morning.

I’m working solo, per usual, since Allen works away.

It’s about 30 degrees outside with high humidity. Walking makes me sweat.

Milk vetch pasture gives animals the runs and thus makes for very fresh mess on the hind end.

The Ranger is in the shop awaiting some TLC in the way of new bearings. In its place I have use of the truck.

With the rain subsided and the sun shining strong the last week, we can get our water bus around once more. So I set about filling it at the yard. I momentarily left to retrieve a pail of sheep mineral to take with me and overfilled the water tanks and flooded the interior of the bus.

With a plum full water bus, I headed to the field and set up. I watched the ewes gravitate to it immediately, investigating the tub trough they are so familiar with.

The water bus has to stay on pasture to be useful to the ewes, which means I don’t have a ride home and there is no one to follow me out and pick me up. I started the warm, walk home. That is when I noticed him.

Yep, him ... a ram. A lame, bummer ram I’d been looking for out in the ram pasture after he didn’t come in when I last moved the rams. Here he was with the girls. Shit - in a great big figurative way. Bringing the whole flock home to sort is a huge job. A job that looked particularly insurmountable only because I would be doing it by myself on a muggy, thirty degree day. I wanted to cry. My one saving grace in discovering him, is that he's lame on a rear leg, and judging from his demeanor he wasn't doing much breeding, if any ewes were even cycling.

If I could get that ram in with a smaller group of ewes and keep them near me, I’d have a chance at catching him. Then what, I didn’t know, but it seemed a better option than taking several hundred head home to remove one.

I hastened my walk home, grabbed leashes and a rope, popped two dogs in the truck and headed back out.

I found the ram again quickly enough. He was with a band of ewes hanging around the bus.  The rest of the flock was already settled in the shady tree belt. If I could keep this band from rejoining the nearby flock, I’d stand a better chance of keeping my eye on him and catching him. I parked and quickly let Cajun and Gibb out.  We pushed the band a little further off, then I sent them around to gather the group and hold to me while I waded through sheep to nab the ram. Within minutes I had my hands on him. Being lame and thin he was an easy catch.

But easy catch or not he was still a sizeable ram and I’m still a slight female. In my haste to be sure we kept this group from rejoining the others, I also jumped out of the truck with dogs and nothing else. No rope or leash to hog tie or lead this ram with. The truck has never been further away. Oh, how sweet an extra pair of hands and feet would be right now.

I held the ram by the head and the rear and lead him forward in a very awkward leap frog sort of fashion. If you’ve raised sheep you’re likely familiar with this maneuver. Sweat is beginning to trickle.

We made it to the truck. There was no hope of me hoisting the ram high enough to get him into the box of the three quarter tonne truck; something I might (maybe - just maybe) have managed with the Ranger. Nor did walking him all the way home seem feasible. My dogs are good but I didn’t have faith they’d be able to take a single all the way out of the field, across the yard and into the east paddock to rejoin the other rams. Especially when the single was a ram intent on a life or death struggle to stay with his band of ewes. Especially in high heat and humidity. I’d run out of dog. There’s shedding a single and then there is this situation I found myself in.

Maybe the cab of the truck??? I could hear Allen moan and begin to cry. But I caught this sucker and walked him this far, if I could get him out of here it was going to save a whole lot of work and time for me, the dogs and the sheep.   

I commanded the Kelpies to lie down and stay.

I opened the back door of the crew cab and with the seats folded up thought I might have a hope of getting this fellow in for the ride home. I faced him into the doorway at the hinge, bracing his rear with my legs and preventing escape, while trying to lift front feet onto the step. Completely befuddled by what was occurring in his life at this point in time, the ram made no attempts to assist in this directive. It took a few attempts and this is where detail number three became very evident. Shit - in a very literal sense; fresh as fresh could be.

In his entire life, Cajun has only ever held a stay for about two minutes and I'm not sure why I thought he'd do differently today. Right about the first mid lift to hoist the ram up, I spied a black shape running off to gather the flock resting in the trees. Gibson rose up, contemplated being obedient, decided the heck with it, and ran off to join his brother in working. It’s not a terrible thing that the dogs work the flock without constant direction from me; they work independent of me regularly and I knew they'd bring the flock as close to me as they could. My worry was that Diesel was resting with that flock.

No, no, and no. I scanned the flock and heaved the ram. I was oh so close to getting this ram out of here. He had to get into that truck, now or never. I heaved his front end up once more and pushed with my legs to help his back end follow. A final huge heave and somehow I had a ram in the cab. It never would have happened were he not lame and feeling off.

I cringed at the explaining I would have to do to Allen, moved off to catch up with the kelpies, and thanked my lucky stars and God above that Diesel had not attempted a take down. 

I was sweat and shit from head to toe but I was elated to see that ram rejoin his fellow male pasture mates. A miracle mission accomplished - solo style.

Allen fixed the Ranger that night.

Third Times A Charm

Just not in this case.

This is the third try with this piece. The other two attempts went into the trash.

Young and Dutiful

I’m struggling to get the right feel of depth and distance. What I do love about this piece though, is the scene. I remember that day, it was a long summer morning spent watching Whiskey and Diesel get aquatinted with the flock. The reference photo is back here at this blog post: Guardian Pups First Half Day on Pasture.  They were so young and almost uncertain then which is certainly not the case now. Now they are mature, solid, confident guardians. 

What Would You Think Of Us?

Can you see him?

Magpie’s are cool dude’s, studious looking in their own right.  They’re also a first sign of trouble. This pair was hanging out here and cawed away at my approach, rather than fly away as they would normally do.

Before spotting the Magpie’s I travelled around this bend because I could hear the laboured breathing of an animal. The birds presence assured me, my ears heard correct. Familiar with the laws of live and die, they were just waiting her out. 

She had crawled into the brush, got right into the edge of the water in fact, and laid down in the crook of branches. Her lambs had followed her and stood at her side, also waiting her out, although for a different reason.

Allen and I pulled her from the water, treated her for what we suspected, but by days end the birds got their wish. The lambs rejoined the flock and are old enough that they’re grazing and making do on grass.

In a manner as simple as that, that’s how things go sometimes. One day all your animals are alive and well and the next day, one of them isn’t. We care very deeply, we do what we can, yet we hesitate to speak or write of it because, well, what would you think of us?

Atta'Boy and That'll Do

Such a sweet, sweet morning. I took Gibson along for a flock move, a solo run. His look says it all. Mine probably matches it.

We're finished the job and enjoying the moment of work well done together, and surveying the flock as the ewes fan out into their new space.
You know those times when the whole world lines up and you get lost within in the melody of it. It was like that. Just moving sheep on a prairie hot, summer morning, with a young dog learning the ropes. No rush, no timeline, no worries, driving ewes and lambs forward. Simplicity and intention.

Sheep and Grass

I am on my way out to pasture, about a hundred feet from the entrance to the paddock where the ewes are. No one in sight.

Even though I’m now used to this hilly terrain it always makes my heart skip a beat when I’m this close and can’t see a single sheep in the spot where I last left them.

I travel another twenty feet - and there they are. I can understand losing fifty sheep but it's amazing that several hundred animals can be out of sight like that. Guess I think numbers equates to size.

The terrain makes for wonderful blind outruns with the stock dogs but with the crazy tall grass, the stock dogs are pretty much working blind every time out. Jayde was with me this morning and she lost contact with sheep every time she was on the ground. She’s slowed down considerably with age and aches, and showed reluctance to plow through grass at top speed on my beck and call, when she couldn’t even see sheep.

Under Stated

My last blog post was an under statement. An amazing volume of rain fell from the sky last weekend. Inches and inches of rain. We’re still in awe.

The ewes stayed on the hillsides and in the native prairie scrub brush. I love this land.  

They kept their backs to the wind and driving rain.

Lady was the only dog to take to the trees. She's thoroughly soaked and shivering.

Wetlands spilled over and continue to fill as the water sorts itself out.

We're finding new routes to the places we have to get to, one blessing of being in hill and hollow land is there is almost always a way there. The situation is more dire to the South and East of us, roads are washed out and communities have declared flood emergency.

The sun was out in full force for Canada Day though and is due to stick around for awhile. We're all cheering and enjoying the bright, dry heat of it, old dogs included.

Popular Posts