Sunday Wooly Workload

This was the workload in front of me the other day.

BJ and Cajun have just penned the flock and did a dandy job of it. Those two work well together.
I wasn’t able to get the whole flock in the photo and the first group have already filed through the bugle into the building.

I’m proud to say I got through all those sheep and weighed all the lambs (I collapsed into an easy sleep early in the evening afterward). I’m pretty pleased with the weights and the next step is tagging and to arrange for selling some lambs.

I’ll be selling a few extra than planned on it order to recoup Oakley’s vet bill. That’s okay, he’s worth it.  We culled heavily last year and just taking a quick gander at the ewes as they filed down the alleyway I don’t think I have many culls to sort out this year.

Allen’s work schedule has changed so he’s only gone three days a week now and home for four. This week we’re working on the fence and making good headway. We’ll take a day to tackle tagging lambs and it will be good to have the second pair of hands for that.

Sunrise Walks in The Fall

Stepping out; my view from the deck

Rain or shine, wind or calm, fog or clear, I take a morning walk with my dogs. It's a healthy taste of the prairie first thing in the morning. It's opportunity to connect with nature. It's a meditation of sorts.

The last week of mornings have been gorgeous, there is great color in the air due to all the harvest dust and the sunrises are vibrantly alive. On this morning a low layer of thick fog softened the earth.

In the East pasture; in the fog

Allen and I keep making attempts to get fencing done but keep getting halted. Today our delay was the tractor tire; we'll need a new one. So Allen went out to swath the millet instead and my work started in the evening.

The stock dogs and I gathered the flock and walked them home. We took the girls up to the barn paddock and penned them there for the night. I took four dogs and worked all four. It was a peaceful job done with zest and satisfaction on a cool prairie night. It was almost like there was a hint of our peace filled morning still with us. I love that. 

Watching the geese flying in the colors of the sun

Tomorrow I'll move the ewes and lambs through the alleyway so I can weigh lambs to find out how we're doing and what might be ready for sale. It will be a long day for me and the dogs will see a lot of work again.

Glorious - what else is there to say

Remembering That It Happened

Going through some photos I took notice of these for the first time. I saw them before but didn’t pay attention, I think because sheep camp was a bit of a blur.

These offer a peak at what our place looks like and where I do most of my dog training work. And proof that you were all here (for those that were); proof that we really do this each year and that’s kinda remarkable. I'd kinda like to have the week back.

The Working Areas (four arenas/fields and holding pens)

Some of the Company

Waiting in the wings with Cajun

LGD Sisters in the Fog

A couple mornings back it was real foggy and damp and I happened to think to take the camera out with me, hoping for some photos of the ewes in the fog. I got those but I also got several shots of the Sisters as they came up to greet me. 

Lily and Pippa were very playful and judging from Pippa's coat they found or created a good pile of dirt to play in earlier. 

In this photo Lily looks very much like Oakley

Pippa has definitely taken the role of boss between the two pups, and I suspect it won't be long before she rules the rest of the pack too. She's crazy and serious enough too. Since moving to pasture work their sibling fights have become minimal, almost nonexistent. It doesn't much matter to me which sister takes the role, as long as one does and the other accepts it.

On The Easel - LGD Art in Progress

Each time I begrudge an unscheduled life that is driven by the whim of nature I seem to be handed a day with some breathing space and time for artwork. Two things I cherish. 

It’s pretty remarkable to be able to do what I wish; I just have to be flexible enough to work artwork into the gaps of the day.

This piece in progress, is of a dog named Cricket. She does guardian duty for a large kennel of Siberian Husky sled dogs up in northern Alberta, Canada. I follow the North Wapiti Blog because I love working dogs in all there facets and am intrigued by the sled dog life. I fell in love with this photo of Cricket because her expression speaks volumes of the nature of these dogs.
(Thanks to Karen for the permission to use her photo as reference).

Putting down the eye and major darks and lights

Second eye, and continuing with darks and lights

Just starting the nose...

Oakley - A Different View

I’m relieved to report that Oakley is recovering well. The leg is healing quickly and he has already regrown an amazing amount of muscle and flesh. The wound is still large and open and keeping it clean is our main concern so returning him to pasture with the sheep is still not an option at this time, and may not be for awhile.

He is the first guardian dog we’ve had up to the house for an extended period. He has adjusted well to all the new changes in his life (he sleeps on the couch!) and he is amazingly tolerant of all the care that needs to be done every day. We do hydrotherapy (running cold water over the open wound) every night, allow it to dry, and then coat with honey and re-bandage. He allows all of this without fuss. He lives with a cone on his head whenever we can’t supervise him which has probably been the biggest adjustment for him as he can’t see his surroundings as he wishes or expects to.

He is well known at the veterinarian hospital because of the rare nature of his wound but also because the staff are in awe at how gracious and tolerant of handling he is. He’s even had a couple offers on a retirement home if he can’t return to work. The vet commented that not all the guardians dogs they see are as easy to handle and most times the staff are wary of these dogs for good reason. While I think Oak is a bit of a special case because his temperament is so solid and easy going, not all LGD’s share this quality. I'm so thankful I choose to handle our LGD’s rather than keep them half wild. This whole situation is without a doubt stressful to Oakley, but it’s also, without a doubt, far less stressful to him than it would be if he had no prior handling by us and pleasant experiences with others who have met him over the years.

Today we had a re-check at the vets and Allen also had an appointment afterward. While I waited for Allen, I took Oakley for a walk, making Oak the first guardian dog of mine to hit the city streets. We both felt a bit out of our element but took it all in stride. Oakley was a pleasure to walk and showed little concern over all the strangeness. The only thing he stopped to take notice of was good trees to pee on, and ambulance sirens sounding nearby.

It has occurred to us that Oakley may not want to return to pasture work after an extended stay at the house and yard with us. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, but regardless of what his choice is, he’ll be staying on with us (after this vet bill, we’ve got too much money into him!!!).

Listening to the sirens


The last company from herding camp departed this morning and afterward the dogs and I enjoyed a moment of sunshine as I contemplated this week gone by and missed the wonderful people who shared a week working dogs with us.

Unlike last week which was full of trips to the vet, prepping for this week long herding camp and a roller coaster ride of worry and angst about Oakley, the week ahead looks relatively empty, primarily because I haven’t given the week ahead much thought.

While out on the pasture looking at sheep and feeding dogs tonight it struck me how a place can be so full of animal life and yet upon the exit of a group of people an empty feeling always lingers. There is something very dualistic about prairie space and maybe about any vast space of landscape. The vastness can be peaceful, inspiring and eternal, or empty and almost ominous, depending on which voice of consciousness you bring to the scene and what you allow to sink in while you visit there. Tonight I let the feeling of missing people linger and tell me what it would.

All Too Soon

One more day of working dogs and our herding camp is wrapped up for another year.

I’d like to say I enjoyed this one as much as the last, however, I think my focus was off after the set back with Oakley and having such a suddenly emotional week.

I enjoyed, appreciated (and needed) the great moments working my dogs the last three days, but otherwise I’m really just floating through the innumerable tasks and challenges that are ongoing when you host large events. As this camp comes to a close, I’m not able to make sense of my feelings about it. I was already behind the eight ball on the first day and wanting to rest, and yet the days have flown by and I’m kind of wishing I could do them over again. It was another good camp, yet as a host, just not my best camp. I have a feeling I missed a lot of highlight moments because, even though I was there, I was not able to be present for them. Living the life I do am I aware of that disconnect and it pesters me that I can’t always snap myself out of it because all too soon this camp will be another memory.


As I sit down to write this blog post I wonder, ‘where did the week go’, but in truth I know exactly where it went.

Last weekend I was at the veterinarians, in the unenviable position of discussing options for saving Oakley’s life or euthanizing him. He underwent a two and half hour surgery and stayed at the clinic for the weekend to be on intensive antibiotics to help him recover from a rare case of a hidden infection gone terribly wrong. This week there was trips back and forth to the vets (a three hour round trip) to be sure Oakley was recovering well enough, and prepping for stock dog trials and sheep camp when I was at home.

Oakley needs specific care each day and is up at the house while he recovers. We have always told Oak that there is a spot on the couch for him when he retires and wouldn’t you know it, the morning after his first night in the house, we rose to find him sleeping on the couch.

I didn’t make any progress on the fence and the blog was forgotten for a few days, but a good dog is still here with us and I'm surrounded by dog loving folks who are gathering here once again, and that makes me feel very good. People began arriving on Friday for the herding trials, which took place Saturday and today. A few more people pulled in tonight and sheep camp begins tomorrow, so the place is abuzz with activity, which is a lovely distraction from the emergent interruption of last week. Now if the weather would hold...

photo taken in July

Kelpie Art

The first half mile of perimeter fence is stretched and tacked in place at key high and low spots. It will be my job this upcoming week to finish pounding in fence staples to secure it. The other job this week is prepping for our annual herding camp which starts next week.

I only have a little bit of time to squeeze in some artwork but a little time as often as I can is all that is needed to keep going.

This piece came together over the last couple weeks.

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