Thursday 30 May 2013

So, whats been happening at the ranch?

The Big News this week is...

that the ewes went out to graze for the first time in 2013!

It was great to see them out on pasture again.

Not only were the sheep happy to be out, the collies enjoyed some real work again and the guardian dogs were so excited to be back out again.

The old news is...

Well, we had a nice BBQ and campfire to celebrate:
  Eric's 50th birthday and Jess's 17th birthday

4-H is winding down,
so the last few weeks has been focusing on the Achievement days.
Horse Achievement was last week.
Jess won the Barrel racing part, but kind of bummed out on some of the other categories...

Roy, did well, he won a third in Barrel racing.

As the 4-H Beef and Lamb Achievement is this Saturday,
Jess and Roy headed off to the local radio station to help promote this event.

While keeping with the horses,
I have borrowed a couple of horses from Corey to ride this summer.
We enjoyed out first ride out this week.

We have decided to breed my Ally this year,
She will be bred to a paint horse stud...
I am so looking forward to that baby next year!

The weekend will be filled with 4-H things..

Wishing you a great end of May!

Saturday 25 May 2013

Seventeen today..

Once upon a time,
seventeen years ago,
we had a baby girl,
then the evil nurse at the hospital switched her,
luckily for me,
my instincts knew better,
and after much complaint and convincing ( on my part)
we got her back.

We have had nothing but joy and happiness from her.
She is fun, sweet, kind, clever, empathetic and social,
she can be stubborn, prone to lazy moments, and a bit bossy.

We have seen her grow from a little girl terrified of sheep,

to a mature young lady showing sheep and steers now.

She  loves her horse,
she loves being a farm girl,
she is country to the bone.

She has always had dreams of being a Queen..

She has now set her sights on running for the
High Prairie Elks Pro Rodeo Queen.

Happy Birthday,
may all your dreams and wishes come true.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Busy busy...


It is busy and that is the reason why my blogging is rather sporadic at the moment.
Its not that I don't want to..
 I just do not have enough hours in my day
and my week is also a couple of days to short to get it all done.

The 4-H year for the kids is winding down.
This Saturday the kids have their horse achievement day.
That means washing the horses, cleaning tack, and then prepping them for show day.

Next Saturday is the Beef and Lamb Achievement day.
As I am the leader of the 4-H Sheep club,
I decided that it would be nice for the kids to learn some more grooming and showmanship skills.
I invited Heather to come over to give the kids a sheep grooming and showmanship clinic.
The kids looked like they had fun and I am sure they have learnt a lot from that.

After the sheep clinic,
Jess decided to rent the wash bays at our local Agriplex,
 in order to start prepping her steer for the show as well.
He was bathed, and scrubbed and had a full body massage.
He was then shaved, and trimmed.

Our kids came home and dutifully started prepping their lambs for show day.
it is always good to start right away, when the enthusiasm and motivation is still high!
Trimming hooves, clipping the wool, cleaning...

This is Roy's market lamb.

And this is Jess's ewe lamb project.

Ranch kids grow up and learn quickly about responsibility,
work ethic, chores and helping out.
Our kids get up at 6.30am and then head out to the barn to look after their steers, lambs and chickens.
Roy waters his garden before coming in to make breakfast for the family.
After school its back in the barn, helping out with general farm chores, feeding and watering.
Cleaning out the trailer is part and parcel of the deal.

Here is a great piece that I found over at the
Sagebushsea blog

I find it apt and true,
for kids and adults.

25 Things I Want My Ranch Kids to Know
MAY 24, 2012

1. You have chores, because we love you.

They seem tedious, but they are the building blocks for your future.  Responsibility, accountability, and basic life skills begin with sweeping the floor, scrubbing the toilet, and feeding pets and livestock.  We love you, we want you to find success in life.  Success comes from preparation, so we give you chores.

2. Boredom is a choice.

Don’t let me hear you say you are bored.  Boredom is a choice, when your backyard is the whole outdoors, there are chores to be done, and books to be read.  If you can’t entertain yourself with a stick and a bucket full of calf nuts, we’re doing something wrong.

3. There is magic in watching the sunrise.

Early mornings are hard,  we don’t rise as early and as easily as Dad.  Do it anyway.  The beauty you will witness with the awakening of the world is worth sleepy eyes and cold fingers.

4. A pet is more than a companion.

Your cats, dogs, calves, and ponies are more than friends and playmates.  They are lessons in empathy, responsibility, love, and letting go.

5. Grow your own food.

Our world is increasingly rife with poor food choices, the easiest response to unhealthy options is to grow your own food.  I don’t care it’s a single tomato plant or a garden large enough to feed 10 families, cultivate an appreciation for fresh, whole food.

6. Be open to learning.

In horsemanship and life, you will never know it all, never assume that you do.  A humble open, attitude towards learning will lead to new skills and experiences.

7. Dress appropriately for the occasion.

A cowboy’s uniform, hat, long-sleeved shirt, jeans, and boots, evolved out of necessity.  Protect yourself from the sun, wind and weather with the proper clothing.  I nag and question your clothing choices, because you are precious to me.

8. There is a time and a place for bad language.

Sometimes you just need to cuss; spew anger and frustration in one grand verbal barrage.  Smash your thumb with your shoeing hammer/fencing pliers, massive runback at the gate, ringy heifer won’t take her calf?  Yes.  At the dinner table,  the classroom, in front of your grandmother?  No.

9. Feed your help.

Neighbors, friends, or hired men?  It doesn’t matter, sometimes the best way to show your gratitude for a long day of hard work is a lovingly prepared hot meal and cold drink.

10.  Don’t judge, but if you do, judge them by their abilities, attitudes, actions not appearances.

Buckaroo or cowboy, flat or taco, slick or rubber? In some circles these comparisons can lead to heated debates, more often than not based strongly in personal opinion, rather than rooted in truth.  This is true outside of  the ranching world, as well.  Words have power to create divisiveness, do not use them to speak against yourself or gossip about others.

11. Stewardship.

Dad and I choose to be responsible for landscapes and livestock, this lifestyle defines who we are.  Sometimes that means ballgames are trumped by pasture rotations and dinner time is delayed by cesarean sections, it does not mean we love you any less.  I hope you approach the world with a sense of respect and connectedness.

12. Fake it till you make it.

You don’t have to be confident in everything you do, but taking a deep breath and acting like you are helps you get through it.  This can be applied in the arena, the sorting alley, to horses or people, and life as a whole.  Stand up straight and look the challenge in the eye, as you gain experience confidence will catch up with you.

13.  That said, don’t mistake arrogance for confidence.

No one likes a swaggering braggart, even if he is a competent swaggering braggart.  There is honor in being unheralded, if you enjoy your work.

14. Low-stress is best. . .

. . .for you and for livestock.   Don’t let it defeat your spirit and energy.  Don’t let it impact your livestock health.

15. The only dumb question is the unasked question.

Where is  the gate?  Which calf? Can you help me?  Ask questions, no one will think less of you.  Clear communication helps prevent misunderstandings.

16. Always do your best.

There are days when your best is better than others, recognize that.  Avoid self-judgement, abuse, and regret and enjoy the process.

17.    “There comes a time when you’re gonna get bucked and you’re gonna need to know what to do so you don’t get stepped on.“  -Betsy Swain, 1875

  Do not let fear of pain or disappointment stand in the way of new experiences.  What I regret most in my life are opportunities missed out of fear.  Pain and disappointment are a part of living, learn to take them in stride and keep moving forward.

18. Be polite and kind.

Enough said.

19.  But, don’t be a pushover.

Stand up for yourself.

20. Develop a sense of place.

Wherever you may live, learn the names of plants, rocks, and animals, visit old homesteads (or neighborhoods) and educate yourself about Indigenous cultures.  In doing so, you gain roots, a sense of belonging that will lend you stability in all that you do.

21. Break a sweat everyday.

Pound a steel post or take a jog, whatever you do, break a sweat daily.  Your mind and body will thank you for it.

22. Be present.

If you are mindful of the moment, it is easier to catch a mistake before it happens, redirect a broncy horse before wreck, and have better relationships.  It might surprise you, what you observe and what you achieve when you are fully in the moment.

23. Unplug.

Go to cow camp.  Leave the computer screen, TV, and cell phones behind.  Watch the chipmunks and rock dogs, read a book, or share a conversation with your family.

24. Sometimes the hard decisions are the right ones.

We cannot rationalize suffering and pain to animals.  Sometimes the best decision is the hardest one to make, know when to let them go.

25. You do not have to maintain this lifestyle, but please appreciate it.

I don’t expect you to grow up and follow in our footsteps, the long hours and low pay aren’t for everyone.  Carry these early horseback mornings in your heart.

Have a good day.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Sheepdog trialing

Corey Perry's Mirk at High Prairie Field trial.
My passion for sheepdog trialing began when I was a teenager and living in South Africa.
(I should one day elaborate on this story)
Here are some bare essentials for now..
Before my step into the sheep dog world,
 I was working and training a German Shepherd Dog in obedience, companion dog, tracking and some man work.
I was sweet 16 and  passionate about my dogs.
I  was finally allowed to get another pup from my parents and decided to get a border collie pup.
His name was Ace.
Little, did I know then where this would take me on my life's journey...

Now Ace was one of those dogs that was in for everything and anything.
I did everything I possible could with him, from obedience trials, to agility, to tracking, man-work, search and rescue and even showing...
He was  a show champion,
and a clown
and my best friend.
He was not equally good at everything,
 but we learnt a lot and had a good time doing it.

However, I felt I did not have a well rounded collie, as  he did not work sheep.
 So, after watching a demo, reading a book and finding some sheep,
 we started on our sheep-dogging adventures.
After fumbling along, Jill Rankin decided to take me under her wing to guide and coach me.
We became firm friends and most of what I learnt, was all due to her.
Every weekend was spent on their farm, learning to run dogs, learning to read sheep and helping out with chores.

I ran a number of trials in South Africa.
I did okay, and the pinnacle of my South African Sheep dog career was that I once won the Top Lady Handler at the South African Nationals.
Those where the days when people felt that ladies needed more encouragement to participate in trials and so had a special prize just for women handlers!!

In the mean time, in between my sheep-dogging, I completed my Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Natal.
I decided to spend a year and travel around Europe with my beloved collie Ace.

On my travels I met Eric and as you know, after 23 years, we still have border collies.
In the Netherlands, I was given another collie, and then bought a third and so got involved in sheep dog trials in Europe.
We traveled far and wide, did clinics, judging, training and trialing and made some lifelong friends.
We spent a lot of time travelling up and down to the UK looking at dogs.

Eric had been fairly successful with his dog Digo at the Continental Sheepdog Championships.
I started having some success with a collie called Djan.
When she was 18 months old we had qualified for the Continental ( this is the top trial on the European mainland, due to quarantine laws in  the UK). Young Djan, qualified for the finals, I went home and spent the evening teaching her a look back for the double gather the following day.
Djan ended up fouth and I won  the Top Lady handler award (again).

She was a good little bitch and a great work dog.
I won the the Dutch National Farm Dog Championship with her.
This is a practical working competition and not a traditional ISDS sheep dog trial.
And, then following this I again qualified with some of my dogs to run in the Continental Sheepdog Championships and,
 once again ended up fourth in the finals.
I never did better than this fourth place at the Continentals!

However, as the years went on and we became more involved with sheep farming, raising kids and not spending enough time trial training our work dogs.
The trailing started taking a second place.
We still had our regular Sunday morning training and we kept working our dogs,
 however the trialing became less of a priority.
I am sure, not having a top trial dog at that time, may have also contributed to  not having such a interest in the trails anymore.
Having a good trails dog does motivate you more, than taking  a rough work dog to a trial;
who then goes out onto the course and grips off because a ewe decided to be somewhat obstinate...

After we moved to Canada, I believe we have run one or two arena trials, two field trials and that is the sum total of our trialing here.
We have hosted a field trial 3 years ago and an arena trial.
So, after a late night beer,  Ken Price and Eric decided it was time to do another trial.
Now, we know that most people who trial do not want to make the long hike up to the north,
nor do they like running on our tough sheep..
but what the heck,
 we do need  a few more trials in the north so we decided to host this one on our ranch.

 We decided to keep things simple,
 have low entry fees, have fun and work dogs on some challenging sheep.
Corey Perry, Wayne Roberts and Ken Price discuss a run.
We had a good trail, 30 dogs ran.
The crowd ( all 6) enjoyed the friendly atmosphere.
 One competitor flew in from Ontario to run her dog ( fanatic?)
the others were all north country folks.
Yes, the sheep were tough,
"sort of like Meeker" some of the die hards suggested.

Your dog needed skill, balance, oversight, power and you needed to sharpen up on your handling skills.
Things looked a bit dismal at the start with a top score of 26,
 however the dogs and the handlers got their act together and had some good runs.
The top score over  the two days was a 90 by Ken Price and his Creed.
 However, Wayne Robert's pretty much cleaned up in most of the classes.

Sheila and I penning.
I ran Lad and failed dismally.
With Sheila I ended up somewhere in the middle.
Running my dogs again made me realize how rusty I had become.
I do not think I will have the same passion for trialing as I did years ago; but
I love watching a good dog work and love working my dogs in everyday ranching situations.

Eric was judge and we did not hear too many complaints,
so that is good!!

The plan is organize another one in the not so distant future.
For those people that intend going to Meeker,
you are welcome to come for some practice runs on our tough sheep.

Wayne Roberts pens sheep with Llangwm Rex (from Aled Owen)

Carl Sneddon working Meg  (she came from Kevin Evans)

Jess from Carl Sneddon marches an obstinate ewe away.
( She is a granddaughter of Serge van der Zweeps Glen)

Friday 10 May 2013

Friday Photo bombing

We went from a snow storm last week,
to plus 28C this week.
Never mind having spring!
So, it was a nice evening and I decided I needed to get some photo's of the two pups
Mali and Cindy.

These sarplaninac pups are now coming on 9 months old.
Mali ( the grey one) is a pup from Katcha and Vuk.
Cindy is one of the orphans from Snowy and Beli.

Cindy actually quite likes her photo taken:

Mali, on the other hand can be a little photo shy (just like her dad)
She  will try ( just like some people do) to  hide behind others,
 blend in,
try not to be noticed,
 pretend that her photo is not been taken
and that nothing is happening...

Sometimes, I can catch her without her looking away.

Sometimes, I need to take a phone photo of her while getting some loving..

Then, finally I take this picture of her,
which I totally love,
 due to her expression and the way she is watching me..

I needed to make a small adjustment to the camera, when
 my next frame,
is totally "photo-bombed" by dorky Cindy.
(Who feels she needs to be in the lime light.)
You can actually see Mali still laying in the same position,
before Cindy decided to be full frame!!

I managed later to get this one,
(which I also like).
without it being photo-bombed.

Finally, ended the evening with the sun setting and the two pups watching me leave them behind.
Both, by the way  are doing really great with the sheep, they are living full time with a group of about 150.

Have a great weekend!

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