Friday, 28 March 2014

Under the weather

I have been a little sick this last week.
I am a firm believer,
 that when you are sick the best way to get better sooner,
is to go out into the fresh air.

You breath germ free air,
stretch your muscles,
feel the rays of sun on your skin
stroll along and get some of nature's medicine.

Nothing is nicer than walking with your 13 year old son,
and a bunch of over enthusiastic border collies,
visiting with the various animals along the way,
walking a dead end gravel road in the evening sun,
in northern Alberta.

So, here are pictures from my; "get better quick walk":

The chickens are also venturing further a field now that things are a touch warmer.

Don

Puppy love

Roy






Dexter





The fun part, is that the border collies have unbridled energy, they play, and herd and jump up and down the snow banks.

The best part is catching up with Roy,
we chat about all kind of things.

We talk about school, and his friends,
what he is learning, and every now and then he calls to me to take a picture of him.
He runs around on the snow banks, he makes snow angels, he plays with the dogs, and thinks I should join him while laying on our backs in the snow so that the collies can come and swamp us with attention.

He has profound insight into himself,
he says to me:

"Mom, did you know that boys of 13 are either 3 years ahead in their age, 
or 3 years behind?"


So, I asked him which one he was,
"oh 10" he says, while laughing at that.

Aah, the innocence!

Anyway, not quite better yet,
so will need a few more of these heart warming walks.

Have a great weekend!


Friday, 21 March 2014

Synchronized swimming

In Shadow's former life, he must have been in a team of synchronized swimmers.
The team may have  consisted of a bunch of sheep.

So, to give you an idea how it goes, watch this:

Okay, let us get going now with the partner event.

First, let us start lining up,
no pushing and shoving please




Good, find your partner:


Ready?
Ready.





Start with a slight right leg lift:


Then, a glans to the right:



Great! Now look straight ahead again:



Now, a complete head turn to the right

Perfect!

Uhmm Sheep!
You need to stay in line and pay attention, please.


Shadow, stop giving your sheep the stink eye for not being totally in sync.



No, don't look the other way now..
C'mon



Gee-sh, just stop pouting, okay?



Well, let us try the group event then.

See, that is going well!



The end!

PS:
For those who don't follow the trials and tribulations via Facebook,
I have made the decision to breed
Luscious Lucy to Valiant Vuk.
If all goes well, the breeding should take place any day now.
If successful, towards then end of May, we should have pups again.
Lucy

Vuk
I will blog a more detailed personality description of these two, another day.
You can also check out our website at
www.grazerie.com/sarplaninac


Hope you have a great weekend, and remember to stay in sync!

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A glorious day


Sometimes all the daily chores just flow,
the work,
 does not even feel like work.
Today, was one of those days.

A day filled with sorting lambs,
vaccinating lambs with Roy ( he is an awesome lamb catcher),
feeding sheep,
filling the grain silos with barley,
feeding dogs,
working collies,
taking pictures,
watching the fences reappear out of the snow,
seeing water in its fluid state outside,
walking in soft snow
 and best of all,
 the warmth of the sun ( plus 4C or 34F) on your bare arms.

Aah, the lovely start of spring.
Here are some pictures from today:

Shadow man

Katcha

Lucy


Friday, 14 March 2014

Musings on LGD

I have been musing a little about LGDs...

All of the recognized Livestock Guardian Dog breeds originate from Eurasia. These dogs that protect livestock have a long history, their use being recorded as far back as 150 BC.
Aristotle, in his "History of Animals," mentions the use of these large sheep dogs by the ancient Greeks.
 The history of LGD is, of course, mingled with the sheep, silk road, and transhumance.





Scott, The Shepherd's Dog, engraving after the painting by Reinagle.
The history of Europe and its shepherds are intertwined,
 and logically, that would also apply to the shepherd’s dogs.

Historically, sheep have been very important to many cultures.
It is an animal that provides meat, milk, hides and wool, and it is a relatively easy keeper.
The fact that sheep could graze marginal areas, that were not suitable for either cropping or even cattle was very important.
The biggest problem for shepherds was keeping their small stock from being predated on and stolen, hence the need for large, powerful dogs to look after and protect the sheep.

Wolves, thieves, and bears probably caused the most concern.
The livelihood,
and probably the survival of many of these shepherds,
really depended on these dogs.


Wolf dogs of the Abruzzi (wikipedia.org)
Just about every country or region has a sheep dog that would protect the flocks from harm.

Afghanistan: Sage Koochie
Armenia: Armenian Gampr
Bulgaria: Karakatchan
Czechoslovakia: Slovak Cuvac
Greece: Greek Sheepdog
Poland: Owczarek Podhalanski (tatra)
Portugal: Cao de Castro Laboreiro, Estrela Mountain Dog, and Rafeiro do Alentejo
Romania: Mioritic and Carpathian
Russia: Caucasian Owtcharka, (Central) Middle Asian Owtcharka, Mid and South Russian Owtcharka
Spain: Pyrenean Mastiff and Spanish Mastiff
Tibet: Tibetan Mastiff and Kyi-Apso
Former Yugoslavia: Sarplaninac
Slovenia: Karst Shepherd
Croatia: Tornjak
Italy: Maremma
France: Great Pyrenees
Turkey: Kangal

The list goes on and is by no means complete!

Now, I wonder:

Why was the development of these LGDs only found in this part of the world?

Why did other cultures,
who raised small livestock in countries such as Africa and the Americas,
not develop their own breeds of LGD?




I am aware that these countries do not have as long a history as Europe does with its sheep domestication;
however, even when these countries were settled,
even then, there was little or no dog breed development to aid in flock protection.

Was the idea so alien
(to place a large predatory animal to look after sheep),
that it was simply inconceivable?

I know that Coppinger writes about the African village dogs that would never harm the chickens and stock living in these villages, and I know he talks about Navajo Native American people using dogs to protect stock.
However, no real "breed" or even a land race type of dog evolved from these areas as livestock protection dogs.

Why did the immigrants to America not bring their "Old World" breeds with them?

Why not in Africa,
where goat herding is a very traditional and predators are fierce,
why did the villagers  not create a dog breed, that would help them keep predators at bay?

I am aware that "breeds" are a relatively new concept.
However, nowhere else,
other than in the "Old World,"
do you find breeds specifically bred to guard livestock from predators.

And, I wonder why?



So, please feel free to leave a comment,
or your thoughts on this matter.
I would love to hear why you think this may be the case!



Monday, 10 March 2014

To breed or not to breed?

As it is "that" time of the year where all our females collectively decide to come into season..
the "bitch-in-season" season,
the question arises whether to breed for a summer litter of pups 
or, wait for a fall/winter litter.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

I have decide that 2014 will be Lucy's year.
Lucy is now 3 years old and this will be her first litter.
She is one of the best guardians we have, daughter of our Fena and Beli.
She is steady tempered,
a solid guardian,
protective,
balanced,
friendly,
calm.





She will be bred to either;
 Vuk

or
Medo,

I suppose the biggest deciding factor as to whether
 I will breed her now or later,
is interest.
I have a few serious inquiries for pups,
however will  not breed her unless I have a few more "spoken" for.

If you are interested in a pup,
let me know.

For more information on how we do things with our pups,
or
to read more about our dogs,
please visit our webpage at:
www.grazerie.com/sarplaninac

You can also always phone and we can chat more about our dogs.



Friday, 7 March 2014

Just another day

Sunrise was spectacular


Feeding with Lad


The fresh dusting of snow tells its own story of events..

Coyote tracks leading towards the sheep pasture.


Coyote decides to do some mouse hunting at an old hay pile.


The guardian dogs, reminds the coyote to stay on that side of the fence.


Coyote leaves,
and goes mousing in the straw pile.

After about 10 days of brutal coldness, it
warmed up a bit today.
 As soon as the weather warms  up the sheep like to go on a walk about,
rather than just huddle around the bales.
During this gallivanting they:
 like to see if the cows have been receiving better bales than what they have been getting,
they like to check out the cattle mineral and salt,
and generally just  hang out in another area  and do some cross species socializing.


The cows do not mind the company.


 When I send Lad to gather up the sheep,
 he really insists on bringing the cows as well.
Oh well, no problem, it is good for the cows to be gathered again.

My filming is not quite yet up to standard as you will see at the end...

video


We then do a little shedding,
cows from sheep.


Lad encourages the sheep to move along,
 back to where they came from.


Squeeze past the cattle chute


Head down the snow road



Slowly, they follow along,
back to their own pasture
 to bed down for the night.


Have a good weekend.

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