Thursday, December 18, 2008

Picture game

Okay, I got tagged to do the 6th picture game. I won't go into all the details as I think everyone else that blogs has already been tagged and played the game.

This was my "6th picture" in my archives on my computer. It is Jag holding the replacement heifers up to the cake pickup. I think it was when he was 2 so about 4 years ago. We had weaned these heifers in the corral and dog broke them for about 4 days or so. Then moved them to a section pasture where we fed them all winter. We'd drive over and cake them every morning. It only takes about 2-3 times before they figure out what the pickup is about. The dogs gather the draws and such and we wait in the middle of the pasture. We're keeping some calves of our own again this winter so the dogs get extra work again. Yay!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Winter weather and Survival

Well, we're all battening down the hatches again. We're under a blizzard warning for tonight and all of tomorrow. No one seems to be taking it lightly after the last storm. We're all praying we're going to be terribly over prepared for what is supposed to be coming. They're not predicting a lot of snow (5 inches) but they were only predicting about 6-8 last time and we got 2 feet. The part that's bad about this one is how much colder it's supposed to be. We're supposed to maybe reach 3 degrees on Sunday with windchills down to -30. So we have all the livestock fed down in the draws and I'm going to move sheep close to the house before it gets dark tonight. They'll have the big, machine shop to get hunkered down next to and if it gets to bad they'll just have to go in it. Mike hates that thought! We have the generator close by in case we lose power and the garage is full of firewood. So, I think we're about as prepared as we can be anyway.

Now, for my survival story from the last blizzard in November. A friend of mine lives north of me about 2.5 hours. She got hit pretty hard as well but thankfully didn't lose a lot of sheep. Unfortunately 2 of them could never be found. She was out feeding shortly after Thanksgiving and noticed the top of a sheep's head where a snow drift was melting. She knew she was dead but glad to know for sure now. Except, the head moved a bit! She and her husband went to digging and sure enough she was alive. This was now 24 days after the storm. She was extremely thin and soaked because of the melting snow but was able to stand in there. So when they got her dug out she walked to the barn and went right to eating hay and drinking. She's needed a lot of TLC and is still pretty thin but looks like she's going to make. It's just another reminder of how strong the will to survive can be! Simply amazing to me.

Monday, December 1, 2008

My main "men"

Well it's official, Zac has been retired from cattlework and most of the hard work on the place. He hasn't done the bulk of it in over a year now but we've finally decided he just can't do the tough jobs anymore. He still gets to do plenty of work around the place and some of the smaller trials but his body just doesn't keep up with his heart anymore.
Heart. It is the one word that describes him the best. I have worked a number of dogs now and have had and still do have ones that are more talented but if I ever have one that has as much heart as Zac has I will truly be blessed. I have never "lacked for dog" in any situation I've put him in. It's not that he's always the toughest (although I'd put him up against most I've seen) it's simply that his heart will carry him through whatever is asked of him.

I made to many mistakes in his training to even know where to begin. I started using him on the place to moves cows and calves at 6 months old. I put him in way to many situations that have aged his body way to rapidly. If given the chance to go back and do it again I'm not sure if he or I would know how to do it any differently though. We've always just been a team and no matter what needed done we figured out a way to do it. Probably not always the correct way and darn sure not with a lot of finesse but we always managed to "get 'er done"!

One of my favorite memories of Zac is during a huge fire in a neighboring pasture in August of 2003. In the mayhem a bunch of lambs got pushed into a tank and couldn't reach the bottom. They couldn't get any footing to be able to get out. I grabbed the ones closest to the edge and started pulling them out. Zac watched me for a minute and I was just taking my boots off to go in after the others, he jumped in without me asking. He started grabbing them by the base of their tails and pushing them to the edge for me to grab. He would then let go and go after another one. You just can't train that in a dog!

Zac just turned 9 on Thanksgiving day and besides my family there isn't one thing I'm more thankful for than to have this dog in my life. He has officially moved into the house. Some days he acts older than his age. Other days you'd think he's a pup again. He loves to set out sheep for the young dogs and back them up if something challenges them. One of his other favorite pastimes is watching TV with us in the evenings. And I DO mean WATCH. Not just sit there, he totally gets in to it. His favorites are anything on Animal Planet and Football. I don't think he'll ever see another tough job or really hard trial course again but I plan on enjoying every day I get with him.

So this brings me to my other "man", Jag. He wasn't as fast maturing as Zac but I also had an old reliable to fall back on while training him so didn't put him in the situations I just threw Zac into either. He was a challenge to start as he pushed on me and when I pushed back we often met with an explosion.

I have been amazed at his natural talent. He's the best outrunning dog I've ever owned and stellar at reading stock. My hubby always says he's got more finesse than most but doesn't always choose to use it! His sheer determination is what kept me going with him when he was young and I was getting frustrated. Nothing was going to get by him. I'm pretty sure he would have died trying rather than not get it stopped. Didn't matter what species it was.

Jag is now the dog that does the bulk of the tough work around the place. Dustin's dog, Kat, helps quite a bit as well but she won't work for me anymore. During the blizzard he was the dog who helped us find all the weaned calves and move them out of the draws. He was the one who worked for 10 hours the one day helping move neighbors cows around. I'm not sure I've seen a dog lose weight as quickly as he did during that 2 week time span. I fed him like crazy but he just put in way to many miles. Always ready for more whenever I asked.

One of my favorite memories of him is when I sent him after the ewes and lambs right at dusk. The coyotes had been giving us trouble and I wanted to move them closer to the house. He's always great at gathering everthing so I just went about my business and figured he'd show up soon enough. Well the sheep quit trickling in but no Jag. So I went looking. I called but no Jag. It took me quite awhile but I finally spotted him on a side hill just laying there. I hollered but he wouldn't come. I was getting a bit torked then so ran up there to give him a piece of my mind. When I got there he was laying next to a big hole that was very deep. I really couldn't see anything down there but just then I heard a faint little bawl. It was a lamb and I had to reach in well up to my shoulder to reach the little bugger. His mom had left him but Jag wasn't about to!

Jag just turned 6 and I'm hopeful that he has many years left of ranch work as well as on the trial field. I hope to spread the work out to my younger dogs more quickly now so I don't age him as quickly as I did Zac. It really is nice to know I have an old reliable again though!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Snow pictures

It's hard to tell in this picture but there are 5 1/2 foot tall fences buried in there. The rams were in that pen and the snow banks were hard enough to walk them across it and put them in a different lot.

I'm standing on the snow bank taking this picture. That tree broke off onto the chicken house. The chicken house with all but one chicken it was completely buried. There wasn't anything but a bit of the roof showing.

The dogs could walk across the fence in the high spot there and it's over 6 foot high.

Once it settled down around here my boys had a blast digging a huge tunnel in this bank. They had a great time naming all the different "peaks", "mountain ranges" and "passes".

The barn towards the back is 14 foot tall at the back. The snow drift actually gets much higher to the left of the picture. That one went to almost 20 feet tall. The drift towards the front went into the building. To get in there I had to dig a little hole and then I could shimmy in on my stomach up against the ceiling. Thankfully the rams weren't in there. Just one stray chicken.


Well, the first weekend of November was almost summer like weather. Dustin and I spent it at a dog trial in t-shirts enjoying the 70 degree days. The second weekend was a totally different story.

It started to snow Wednesday afternoon (the 5th I believe) and we lost electricity by 3 pm. It snowed pretty good all night and woke up to close to 8 inches. Thursday the wind blew hard all day with gusts close to 80 mph. Add another 10-12 inches of snow coming with it all day and it made for a disastrous blizzard.

Not to be dramatic but everyone is pretty much in agreement that it's the worst one we've had here in at least 30 years. It's the worst one I can ever remember. The worst part was that it wasn't predicted to be even close to this bad so we didn't have time to put the sheep anywhere different. They were down in a good draw but after almost 2 days of the wind and snow blowing that hard, it blew them out of there and through the fences.

By the time we were able to see enough to get to them on Friday (we tried on Thursday but you literally couldn't see 2 feet in front of you) it was a horrid sight. The majority of the snow drifts were six feet tall but many were between 12 and 20 feet. The rams and feeder lambs had a barn but it had literally filled to the roof with snow in all but about a 2' x 10' area. Two of the feeder lambs had been trampled and died as a result.

We started finding the ewes scattered out all over the pasture. It was a pretty horrible sight honestly. It was hard to tell that they were even sheep. They looked more like snow drifts as they were SO covered in snow and ice. Mike started putting hay out for the ones that were fairly grouped up. Zac and I started gently easing the others up to the hay. We got a count and realized we were about 40 head short. So we went looking and found about 20 up against the fence in the pasture. There was a huge snow drift on the other side. Mike found a couple of air holes and we started digging. We found 20 head of ewes buried in there. It was amazing to me how many of those were still alive. It took us 4 hours to dig them all out but all but 6 of them survived. We never could find 4 of them and still don't have a clue as to where they might be but we're assuming they didn't make it. There are 3 that are still down that were buried in the snow bank but they seem to be getting stronger every day. Who is it that says sheep are weak? Ha!

We had just weaned calves about a week prior to the storm hitting. The snow buried a good portion of the fences around the country including the pasture our calves are in. We found all but 50 head on Friday. We found the remainder by Sunday. We lost 3 of them in the storm and we're dealing with a fair amount of sickness in them now. We had about 40 head of neighbor cows that had made it to our house on Friday so we finally got those all moved back to their rightful places on Tuesday. The boys and I have had our fill of riding in deep snow to last for awhile!

We still don't have electricity and they're telling us that it might be Thanksgiving before we have it. There are over 1000 poles down in our local area. The National Guard is in here now helping the Electric Company get through the snow and now mud to get to the poles. So, it looks like there may be light at the end of the tunnel!

We are very blessed and things like this have a way of reminding us of that. We know how much worse it could have been for our livestock. We know how many other people around the area only have electrical heat and have had to leave their homes until the power comes back. We know that all of our family and friends stayed in during the storm and weren't stranded in vehicles all over the state. We are so thankful for a great generator that we can run some of the household appliances on from time to time. Most of all we're so grateful to live in a "community" that all works together to help each other out whenever it's needed!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Out to pasture!

Well, the bunch of cows that we just weaned calves off of got moved out of the corrals today and to a new pasture. We didn't have any extra rider's come over today. It was Mike, Dustin, Brady, myself, Jag and Kat. Dustin hasn't taken Kat with us to move cattle very often lately. I forgot how nice she is for that kind of work! She has so much stamina and just does her job without a lot of commands needed. I think Dustin decided moving cows with her might even be better than trialing. We decided that we (people) were basically there to open/close gates and get the dogs started in the right direction with the bunch. Other than that we just rode along and visited. I love having neighbors over to help us but I can't help but think how much simpler it is with the dogs to do the work instead. They don't drink as much beer either!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Good horses and great dogs!

(I think he found a little mud!)

We've been pretty busy with fall cattle work lately. Helping neighbor's ship yearlings, preg checking cows and weaning calves. I really think fall and spring have to be my favorite times of year simply because of the loads of riding and helping neighbor's work cattle. It's a big part of what our area still takes great pride in, helping your neighbor's. It doesn't hurt that being horseback with a good dog and working cattle is right up there with heaven on earth for me!

I've been riding a young horse since last spring. We're still figuring each other out but I really like him. He's a typical young horse without a lot of miles under his saddle yet though. Every time I ride him he learns something new and advances in my opinion. Today was the first day though where I really felt like he went from a "young horse" to "I've got a horse now". He's always handled cattle work okay but the way he stepped up in every situation today was just great!

We gathered the cows and calves into a portable panel corral in the pasture. They were gathered about a month ago to precondition the calves and then again to preg check recently. They came to the corrals out in the pasture great. They sorted just fine. We left the calves in the corral and started to move the cows back to the house. This is never an easy job and it was pretty tricky for the first 5 minutes with cows breaking back to their calves like crazy.

We had Jag with us as he handles all the different rider's there whooping and hollering without letting it effect him at all. Zac had been officially retired from this type of work as well. When the cows started cutting back he was stopping them and riders would bring them back. One cow got back and got on the fight though. She tried her best to just rub him into the ground. He kept stopping her but she finally got him down pretty good. He never quit trying though. I was up there trying to help him at that point. The cow tried pushing over my horse. He laid his shoulder into her head and kept pushing. That must have done the trick as she just completely gave up and marched to the house like an old milk cow.

So the cows are all in the corral now and the bawling is already starting to quiet down a bit. Jag is a bit sore from the one cow rubbing him into the ground. Amigo, my horse, is back out to pasture grazing and enjoying the sunshine. The boys have still managed to get all their schoolwork done despite having to ride all morning. I'd say it was a GREAT day.

(Brady and his horse Spades)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Goat Trial

I've been meaning to post a write up about a goat trial we went to at the end of September for awhile now. I may get it done today!

The Griffith Ranch down in Nebraska hosted a field trial that was points and time working Boer/Spanish cross goats. JoEllen and John Wiese manage the goats for Griffith's and put together the trial. They're such great people and bend over backwards to make this an outstanding event.

I love doing things out of the norm with my dogs to see how we do and what we need to work on. This was a perfect opporunity and fun to boot! It was two days and the first day the goats were about like what I imagine antelope are like to work. Wild as the wind! The fetch was only about 200 yds but keeping them all on the field at any distance was a huge challenge! The goal was to get all 5 goats brought through the fetch panels, around you for a left hand drive and then once they cleared the drive panels you were free to help at the rest of the obstacles.

Well, these goats aren't to sure about people as they run in a group of about 1200 out in cedar filled draws all their life. So I'm not sure how much help the "people" were at most of the obstacles. We had a maltese cross, then a pen where you were supposed to have your dog hold them in the open pen while you went around the other side to let them out. Ha! That wasn't happening. Then on to a horse trailer where the goal was to load them, have the dog hold them in the trailer while you went around to open the side door to let them out. Again, that wasn't happening the first day. Then on to a Y chute which wasn't that difficult and a finish with a shed. If you could get that far (no one did that day) the goats were pretty darn easy to get apart. Holding them together had been the challenge! BTW, the second day the goats changed dramatically and they were all fresh again. Not sure what changed in them but the difference was HUGE!

Zac was 3rd the first day and Uno won the PN both days. (WTG Uno!) The first day Jag did setout to get us started for about 2 straight hours in the heat on goats that were hell to hold. I didn't have a dog left when it came time to run. I ended up retiring him that day. The second day we had a dream run going and had it won going into the shedding ring. One nanny tried to jump over Jag and that was all she wrote. Big fat DQ!

I also decided to give Cash a go since I figured it was a smaller course. So, I ran him in nursery. The first day he started to come in tight on his outrun but took his blowout really well. He handled the goats well but was getting in over his head before it was over so I retired. The second day was much better. He worked so well. We didn't place but I think I was more happy about his run that day than anyone of my other dogs! He handles stock so well and trys SO hard to please me. A great combination. I can't wait to see how he handles this next season. I really need to put the finer mechanics on him now. :-)

Thanks again to JoEllen, John, their whole family and the Griffith's for giving us handlers such a great opportunity!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Warmer pastures

Well, Uno has been sold and leaves tomorrow. She'll be going south and will get out of our cold winters. Lucky girl! She's going to a super home and will hopefully be hitting the trial scene with them soon. I'm going to miss her terribly though. She's always been a one person dog and enjoys being with me. Not to mention how much I respect this little dog's work ethic and drive. She would rather die than quit. My youngest son always says, "Dynamite comes in small packages" and I tell you that fits Uno to a T.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall work

Fall is a busy time at my house. There are lambs to sort and sell. Yearling steers and spade heifers to gather and ship to the feedlots. Calves to precondition (vaccinate) and cows to preg check. The cattle work goes on all over the county at our neighbors as well. Ranching communities such as ours still trade help for cattle work. So we go help them work their cows and they come help us. The spring cattle work is very similiar as well. I wouldn't trade it for anything!

One thing that we don't trade help on is anything to do with the sheep. Mainly because there isn't anyone else within a 100 mile radius that owns sheep besides us. Also, we can get everything done we need to do with the dogs.

We just shipped lambs out last week. I used several different dogs. We gathered them and counted the ewes out of the pasture to make sure we had everything. Uno and Cash did the bulk of that work as their young and need as much experience as they can get now. Once we got to the corrals the older dogs got me started as the young dog's rested. We hold the big bunch in a pen and then sort off 10 or so at a time with the dogs to put in a tub to run up the sorting alley. The dogs just love this work!

This was Cash's first time helping load the tub and alley. Wow, did he excel at it. He's a very level headed young dog with enough power and presence to move anything. I think I'm going to really enjoy him.

Uno loves this work as well but gets a bit more wound up. She thinks heeling sheep in tight quarters is what life is all about. She settled in after a bit though. I have to say that I have worked this dog pretty darn hard at times and have yet to find the limit of her stamina. She is such a great work dog!

Okay, I'll try to keep up with more of what's going on around here now.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The "Final" few days

We're on the final big push before the National Sheepdog Finals now. Wow, I've never done anything like this before in my whole life! I feel like my head's swimming with all of the information I've put through it in the last year but especially the last month. I'm so excited about how things are coming together though. It's such a super field, we have good sheep and great set out and pen help. So regardless of what else happens as to the "event" we WILL have a good dog trial. Oh, wait I forgot one of the other most important elements. We have plenty of portapotties! I never realized until now how important this element of a trial really is.

We have some really exciting things planned for this years finals. We'll be having all of our meetings early in the week. Then on the weekend lots of time to have some fun. Friday night there will be a bluegrass event at Roscoe's Bar and Grill. They're being so supportive of our event and we look forward to getting together with them on Friday night. Then Saturday is the Dog Classic with tons of "doggy fun". That evening we'll have some Cowboy Entertainment and refreshments before we hold the Calcutta of the top 17. (WARNING: shameless brag coming up next.) My younger brother has been doing some cowboy poetry for awhile now and writes mostly about his experiences guiding hunters up in the WY mountains in the fall. He'll be joining Bob O'Donnell this year at our Cowboy Poetry event and I'm SO proud!!

Sunday morning we'll start off with the double lift bright and early. Then we'll have ceremony mid morning to introduce the contestants and sing our National and Candian anthem's. Then my dad, mom and kids will be putting on a Cowboy Church service at 10 am. Brady (my youngest) is so excited to be playing the guitar for this! Yeah, I'm a proud mother. :-)

I'll be leaving for Sturgis on Friday morning, September 5th. I won't be home again until after the finals. If I get a chance to write about any of the finals from my hotel in the evenings I will really try. I just won't promise anything as I know how tired I am now and we haven't even started the event yet.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Workin' dogs!

What a great morning I had out working dogs. I have decided a big part of how any training/working session goes depends on my attitude. I was fired up and excited that Dustin was going to go set some sheep for me to work on a few double lifts with Jag and Zac. We set up a couple of fairly big ones. They could see them when they turned around but only for the first 50 yds or so and then not again for quite awhile.

Neither got out without a little help but actually I have to say that I'm really happy that they both let me help them so well. Zac has a tendency to just stop if he can't find them in the first minute or two. Because of where I ended up turning him back he couldn't see them at all for the first 200 yds or so but he let me guide him out well.


Jag on the other hand will always (well so far anyway) just take off running and just keep looking until he finds them. This time I asked him to stop and really look for a second and then take off. He was right on then. I did some international shedding with him after that and even Dustin commented on how nice of a job he did. You would know how big of a deal thiss if you knew how little Dustin actually watches me work my dogs! :-)


Dustin seemed to have a really good time working Kat as well. He worked on quite a bit of driving with her and his timing has improved so much! I wish there were more trials around here that he could run in before he moves up to Open.

(Nell, Jag, Kat and Zac waiting while Uno is bringing the bunch behind me)

I entered Uno in the finals but in all honesty have had my doubts on whether or not she'll really be ready to be competitive. I think the world of this little dog but she is a speed demon and has been really hard to hold on a drive. I have really been working on what Patrick told me with her and it's been paying off. She was AWESOME this morning!!! I was so happy with her. Now, I still don't know if she'll really be competitive at the final's or not but I'm starting to get a bit excited to find out.

(Uno waiting her turn)

I'm hoping to find time later this evening to work Cash and Tess as well. They're both at such fun stages right now as well. I'll try to write more about them another time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

New adventures

So I figured I needed one more thing to do in my days so I've started training for a 5K race. I figured I always take the dogs out for a good walk in the morning anyway so I might as well try to start kicking it up a notch. The dogs love it! Okay, they love the run/walks, I'm not so sure how they all feel about my "off days" though.

I have a hybrid bike that I take out across the pasture's with them the 3 days a week I don't run. It is pretty funny to me on how some of my dogs have figured this biking thing out. They don't have any trouble keeping up with me (or running out and back to me either) when I'm "running" as I'm not setting any world speed records. The bike is a little harder to stay out in front of though. Zac, Jag, Cash and Kat each have a certain distance they all go now and then just hang out there and wait for me to get back. Darn bums! Tess and Uno are my die hards. I haven't found a distance they won't go yet. Nell does her best to keep up but I usually end up meeting her coming on my way back. I don't take the two pups (Rock and Fly) on bike rides as I think it's to much for them at this age. They do enjoy the run days though.

Either way I figure we're all getting in a little better shape and I know for sure my stress level seems to have gone down since I've started making the time for this every day!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dog days of summer?

Well, summer is flying by at warp speed. I don't like it! I want to have a couple of just plain, lazy summer days. It's not happening.

I feel like a calendar is ticking of in my head right now with the final's coming up so quickly now. Rene and I talk daily about things that need done or are in the process of getting done. We both are sure every time we get all excited about checking something off our list that another 10 things get added to it! My husband is convinced I'm starting to lose it. I wake up in the middle of the night with something else I remembered needed done yesterday. My latest nightmare was that it was time for the National Anthem to be sung and I didn't have anyone lined up for it yet. So there I was running around like a crazy woman asking every handler at the final's "Can you sing?" Okay, I took care of that one the next morning so I can officially check that one off the list. :-)

Haying is also all consuming for my family. We just got another big job to do on a cash basis. It's a great one and we're so thankful for it. But, my hubby stresses over getting everything put up while the putting's good when it comes to this as well! The several days I've got him roped into helping fence at the final's sits real well with him right now too.

The sheep have also decided that the grass is much greener on the other side of the fence now. So, we have to gather them daily now. It's great work for the dog's but unfortunately the one big drawback to a wet summer in my area is the needle and thread grass! It's unbelieveable this year. I had to take Jag to the vet just the other day to get one removed out of his ear canal. It was lodged against the ear drum so we had to put him under for it. Miserable little weeds!!!

I guess there could be a lot worse things to deal with in life than be busy with things you enjoy though! Maybe I'll just go sit on the deck, drink a beer and watch the sun set now.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Clinic lessons

Dustin and I recently went to a Patrick Shannahan clinic that my friend Jamie Spring hosted. It was GREAT!! Dustin took Kat and I took Uno and Cash. It was a relaxed clinic and it kind of felt like just a bunch of friends getting together to work dogs. In my opinion, that's the way to go.

I realize everyone gets something different out of each new experience with a clinician. The two main thoughts I keep repeating to myself now are, "Responsibility" and "Energy".

I tend to be a person who is a bit "buzzed up" when it comes to the energy I put out there. I also seem to be drawn to dogs that may have a bit of that in them as well. We tend to become a pretty energetic partnership! :-) So, now my goal is to become very aware of when I'm throwing energy at an already energized situation and bring myself back down. I've been seeing such a big difference in my dog's when I can do that so I know what a big deal it is for me.

I also like to work/train/run dogs that are very natural and who can do a job without being told every step. On the other hand I want a dog that's flexible enough to let me take the reins when needed. I needed a reminder and got a good one at Patrick's clinic about letting the dog have some responsibility for themselves. I was really fighting with Uno lately because for some reason I was not letting her be responsibile for the line on a drive. I wanted total control (not sure why) over it and she was getting downright squirrely because of it. When I gave her the responsibility back she relaxed and was holding a line again like a champ. We still have work to do on it, for both her and myself, but it was nice to get a wake up call to remind me of what I'm aiming for here.

Dustin had a great time as well and takes instruction SO much better from someone else besides his mother. He really seems to take in what Patrick has to say and comes home recharged to do a better job with his dog.

If any of you ever get a chance to attend one of Patrick's clinic's, I highly recommend it.

Friday, June 20, 2008

It's a Love Thing

(Zac enjoying life!)

I probably haven't made it painfully obvious on here yet but I'm going to just come right out and admit it now. I LOVE dogs! They are the most amazing creature's and I'm still to this day continually impressed with their abilities. I grew up ranching and have been around working dogs in one form or another all of my life. So, I'm thankful the Lord has allowed me the capability to not take these great animals for granted so far.

I enjoy time on and off stock with them. They're my working partner's and I respect the heck out of them for the job's they do. I have to say though that I just enjoy hanging out with them also. There are very few places I go where I don't have a dog or two along with me. I'm not sure what people would think around here anymore if I didn't show up at the feed store, grocery store, baseball game's, etc. with a dog or two with me. They're simply part of my life.

(Kat enjoying the kids pool)

My dad is vet and when he was in general practice had 5 kids that lived right next door to the clinic. People would bring dogs in to be put down for various reasons while I was a kid. Of course very few of them ever did get euthanized as it was my sister's and I mission in life to give every one of them a home. I still have a soft spot in my life for the "underdog" and like to see the ones people have given up on, given a chance.

Well, it's just about time for another baseball game so I better decide who's going, husband or the dog!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Green grass, fat lambs and good dogs!

Is there anything better than green grass, fat lambs and good dogs? Well, I suppose it is in the eyes of the beholder, but THIS beholder thinks life doesn't get a whole lot better than that!

We have been truly blessed this spring with the right combination of moisture and sunshine to make it look like a garden of eden around here. I have heard that other parts of the country stay green all year so those of you who live with so much of it might not appreciate it as much as those of us who only get it 2-3 months out of the year.

The lambs, calves and colts are growing rapidly and seem to look healthier than ever. My husband keeps trying to convince me that a lot of it is in my attitude but I don't think so.

The dogs are all enjoying the sunny yet cool weather to work in as well. Above is Jag bringing some ewes and lambs back that had found a hole in my fence.
I'm going to try to post some picture's in the next few days of the just dog's working as well. Hope you enjoy them!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Haying season is upon us!

I suppose with any endeavor in life there are certain parts of the cycle that more exciting than others. The process of getting equipment ready for haying season is a big double edged sword in my household! The males in my house (hubby and two boys) thrive on working on machinery and getting geared up for putting hay up. I, on the hand, see it as a big red X on the calendar of the year. When I become an alien in my own land. Now don't get me wrong. I love the smell of fresh cut alfalfa and grass hay. I love how we all continue to work together as a family to accomplish a goal. What I'm not as fond of is my hubby haying until 2 in the morning, machinery breaking down and sending me after parts as soon as I get back from the last trip for parts!

The continual trips to the part store do provide great socialization outings for the pup's I raise though! Not to mention learning to ride in a tractor is an absolute necessity for any good ranch dog.

When the boys were younger Mike and I would each take one with us in whatever tractor we were using. My role has changed as my boys have grown though.

Now that they are a bit older (13 & 11) they think haying and running any kind of equipment is about as good as life gets right now. Okay, I'll admit we live way out in the sticks so they don't get to see many girls just yet. I'm sure their love for equipment will take a back seat as soon as they hit the public school doors of the high school. For now though, my hubby is absolutely thrilled with having such a full haying crew.

The weather has been good to us this spring and there is quite a little hay to put up as of now. So, I guess I'll just resign myself to the fact that I, once again, am I hay field gopher!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Here is a picture of Dustin penning at the Colorado trial. I'm still figuring this blog out so forgive me if it's too big or small. We got the results from the trial and he placed 10th in one go round and 7th in the other. Not to bad for his first time in Open Ranch. The red barns were at the Bed and Breakfast we stayed at. It's called H2 Stables and Ed and Arlene Housley have to be two of the nicest people I've ever met. They made us feel so at home. I've already called my room with them again next year! If anybody is ever traveling towards Monument, CO and are looking for a good place to rest, they're it. They have facilities for housing horses as well. You can find them at .

Monday, June 9, 2008

Tabletop Sheepdog Trial

Hello all. Just got back last night from a trip down near Colorado Springs, CO. We traveled to the dog's and my first field trial again since Kaycee and the National's last September. Lise Anderson hosted it and it was great!! This was the first year for the Tabletop SDT and I'm hopeful there will be many to follow. It was on a great field and the sheep were very even and tested us all well.

There were 3 open go round's starting on Thursday and going through Sunday. Each round featured a different judge with a little different course. I really enjoyed this aspect and it made the trial more challenging in my opinion. The judge for the first go was Don Helsley, then Stormy Winters and the third go was judged by Beverly Lambert. Herbert Holmes judged the Open Ranch and Nursery runs on Sunday.

The field was a bit hilly and had a small draw running up the right side. It seemed to me like the majority of the dog's really handled the outrun pretty well. The drive was a challenge every day but certainly doable.

As it seems to be the case everywhere this year, the weather was all over the board down there as well! Thursday it was cold, windy and rainy all day. Then warmer on Friday and Saturday with some wind both days. Sunday was colder again with periods of rain.

The L & M Crew ran pretty well for the most part. Zac brought home his fair share of money and just loved the cooler weather and tough sheep. He lead the first go round most of the day until Tommy and Sly came along and bumped us to second. He had a great running going in the second go and one ewe had been testing him the entire time. He'd had enough and gripped off. The third go he was on the money and ended up winning it! The thing I'm most pleased with though is how well he held up physically to three runs in a row. Yes, it was cooler weather but it was still a tough course and you'd never know he just worked that much.

Jag is getting more consistent and I'm thrilled to say didn't grip off or even consider it during any of his run's down there. Yay for Jag! He seemed to get harder to handle each run though so we certainly still have work to do. He did move those fiesty girls around like a champ though! He managed a fifth place finish in the first go so got a few more points toward National's.

Dustin and Kat ran their first Open Ranch course and the first go wasn't too shabby. Not in the money but got around the course. Just couldn't get the pen. The second go was pretty rough. Uno ran in her first ever field trial and we found out it was a bit over her head. She lost sight of them on the outrun and took my redirect's really well though!!

So, overall I'm quite pleased with the dog's and had a really great time! It was fun to get away for awhile again and it makes me appreciate home that much more.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Ah, the joys of weaning calves

So, you know that we just weaned the fall calves on Saturday. They're averaging about 600 pounds so certainly to the weaning point. I guess they didn't get the memo! We made it through the first night but the second night (Sunday) we got a pretty good thunderstorm. Hail, wind and heavy rain. They made it through the first round without to much stress but the second round early this Monday morning must have been the final straw for a good portion of them.

Anyway, at about 4 am I heard a loud crash and a couple of my dog's bark and knew something wasn't right. Fortunately for Mike I'm a very light sleeper and hear everything at night. I don't feel so fortunate with that "gift" though. I woke Mike up and sure enough they had torn part of the corral fence out. The biggest disappointed is WHERE they tore it out. Right through the one spot that leads to our garden! I was so proud of the fact that we got that bugger in early this year and it was doing so well despite the colder temps and recent hail. The hail did take several of the tomato plants but I still had plenty. Well, that was until these 600 lb tiller's tore them all up for me again! I guess we'll start over as soon as it dries up enough to get the seeds in again.

So, we've spent the morning getting the corral fence fixed and all but 10 head are back in the corral now. Those last 10 should be fun as they made it all the way back to their mama's. I'm sure they're SO proud of themselves. Should be fun bringing those cows back to the corral right after preg checking them.

I've been taught from the time I was little in this country that we're not allowed to curse any kind of moisture though as you never know when it will just shut off. We're SO dependent on it that we feel blessed every time we get any. Just makes things more interesting when you have to put corral fence back in in almost 2 foot of mud.

The sun is out now and you can almost see the grass growing in the pasture's again so all is still right with the world.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Working cattle

Okay, a little background info before I share my Saturday details with you. We run a split calving operation. We have spring calver's and fall calver's. Every year we're striving to go toward's more fall calver's and get away from the spring calving a bit. The banker balked in the beginning but is starting to come around to our way of thinking now.

Anyway, we preg checked the fall calving cows and worked and weaned their calves. My 5 year old nephew is here visiting us right now and has been such a trooper going to branding's, helping with chores and riding quite a little. When my boys were little they rode with me until they were old enough to sit up on a saddle on their own (around 3 years old as we had a great kids horse for them) so I've had plenty of experience riding with a little person in front of me. I've decided it's not liking riding a bike and you do forget how to do it. Thankfully it's a skill that can be picked up again when the chips are down.

Our fall calver's are not the gentlest bunch of cows either. We bought 300 head of open cows several years ago to put embryo's in for my dad's client's. A good portion of these are the "not so open" girls that people just really wanted to get rid of for one reason or another. We quickly found out that temprament was one of the main reason's!

My nephew did really well while we were moving them home and I was never short on conversation with him. By the time we got them here and started sorting cows from calves he thought he'd had enough though. He had to tough it out for awhile though as there's no safe place for a 5 year old while your sorting cow's other than on a horse. Once he was off though I switched horses and rode a young horse we just got back from some training.

It was SO much fun to ride a horse with some fire in his belly and tons of cow sense. He's off of our breeding and we're pretty proud of that line of horses. 4 of the horses being used yesterday were all by King (a linebred King P-234 stud) and the cow sense and level headedness shows through with all of them!

We vaccinated and poured the calves and it was obvious several of them are already picking up their mother's sour attitudes! My dad is a vet and does all of our herd work for us. So, when he got here we tested bulls and preg checked cows. The opens and broken mouthed cows got loaded in a trailer and headed for the salebarn. The bred cows got moved back to the pasture minus their calves who are standing in the corral still bawling.

It was past dark by the time we got done yesterday but overall a good day. The weather was absolutely beautiful all day, no bodily harm to human or critter and another day to spend doing what we love with people we love. I feel blessed!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Getting started

Okay, many of you may not know this about me but my hubby will attest to the fact that I can be a bit windy. So, I figured I'd give him a break and share some of my stories with people that might not have heard them 100 times already. I don't live life by a clock and my days are never the same. So, I can't promise there will be any kind of consistency to this thing but I'll do my best.

Pull up a chair and grab a cup of coffee and we'll get started.