Sunday 31 January 2016

Heavy weights and teenage dogs

Most young guardian dogs go through a "pain in the butt" phase.
It often coincides with their notorious adolescent stage.
From baby pup to about the 8-9 month mark, they are mostly as good as gold.
For some, the most challenging time of raising up a young LGD starts at the "teenage stage". This is when they start to test their boundaries both in a physical way,
 and in their interactions with the livestock.

I like to change things around when I raise up young dogs, 
always the same routine and always the same patterns, makes things too predictable for a young dog.
They become bold and perhaps even a little obnoxious.
Change, really can put the young gun, down a notch or two.
Change will keep the young dog on its toes.

Changing the pasture they are in,
 changing the dogs they with,
 even the size pasture they are in
 or the type of livestock they are with,
 can really make a big difference in how the young dog behaves.

I believe these changes makes the dog more adaptable,
and willing to learn.
 As they need to adjust to new stock,
learn to work with different adult dogs,
and be flexible in a new setting.
I feel this makes for a well rounded LGD.

 Switching things up, ensures the dog does not only become protective of it territory,
but makes it understand that it is actually the stock, that is the constant factor.
Some dogs become highly territorial of their space,
we like our dogs to be territorial and protective of the bubble around the stock,
wherever the stock may be.

It is at this time, that working around various types of livestock becomes important.
They learn cattle behavior, they learn sheep behavior and they learn that horses are also part and parcel of their lives.

We always have a "boys pen", this is the pasture for the bulls, the rams and the stud horse and, 
a few mares.
This winter pen, it really a great place for a young LGD.
As this pen holds breeding males, the fencing is usually pretty secure and "hot", to prevent any bulls from pushing it over, or horses leaning on the fence.
It is a safe place to learn boundaries, and a safe place to learn all about livestock behavior.

Our livestock is well accustomed to the dogs,
they really are careful around the young dogs.
These mature, dominant and big animals certainly do not encourage ( or tolerate)
 any play-chase behavior from a dog.
 This is where the dog learns to be humble.
Being humble, whether you are a person or a dog, is always a good thing to be.

The lesson's learnt in the "boy's pen" include:
being appropriately submissive to the livestock,
being aware of how it moves around the stock,
confidence without being a bully,
treading lightly,
quiet posture,
reading the stock's behavior,
 and staying in the fences.

Sadie and Maddie, learning to stay behind electric sheep nets is a very important part of our young LGD education. Most of the summer, our sheep are fenced in using electric nets, so the young dogs need to learn to respect them as boundaries

I believe this is the time, that builds the  foundation for its future as a working dog.
It is a "make or break" stage.
If the young dog learns it can chase, and rough up the stock,
or forces the stock to engage it, or escape the field or pasture,
then these patterns become hard to break.
This is the age where most young LGD get re-homed,
or worse, shot.

It is at this time, where we pay extra attention to the young dog's behavior,
it is the time we change things up,
this adolescent stage is the stepping stone,
 to being a well adjusted and reliable adult or,
 one that fails at its job.

Sadie, ( our photo model) is a good pup, and has always been very quiet with the stock.
Even though she is a good pup,
she also gets her time in with the big boys.
Sadie is 8 months old, I love the way she walks unobtrusively around the stock.
Her movement is quite and calm.
She carries her head low, and does not stare at the stock.
She quietly walks around the animals, does not barge or bump through them.
She is attentive to them, respectful and mindful of her own behavior.

Just hanging out with the heavy weights.

Time spent  observing the livestock, is part and parcel of learning her job.

Our time spent  observing the adolescent guardian dog,
is time,  well spent,
and, rewarding,
and, fun.

Thursday 28 January 2016

Pups 2.5 weeks old

The pups are doing just great!
they are all perfectly inline with all their developmental milestones they should be reaching.
Their eyes are open, they lift themselves up to walk around now ( as opposed to just crawling around),
they sit up, move with direction and a purpose and the cutest of all, they now make little barky sounds.
They are growing well and are still all very consistent.
The fun stage is starting now, as they explore their world and interact more with us.

Plenty of time is spent in the lambing barn now, the pups are right next to the ewes who are lambing.
This gives us plenty of opportunity to take a nap with the pups and just spend some time hanging out together.

Saturday 23 January 2016

Feeding buddies

While the Eastern USA got slammed by a massive storm,
for us it was business as usual.
We can handle snow and lots of it.
It does slow us down somewhat,
 but thanks to some mechanization all the sheep and cows get fed.

While out on the tractor feeding; I often see an opportunity to open the door and snap some pictures with my cell phone of the  LGD doing their job.

Shara is my cattle feed buddy.
When she sees me heading out with the tractor to feed the cows she is always delighted to go ahead and clear the way of any potential problems.

(and, yes I know the window needs washing..)

While I am cutting twine off the bales, Shara takes the time to check every thing out. She is the speck at the back of the cows.

On the look out for whatever may be lurking out in the bush:

Then it was time to move on to the sheep for their feeding.
After, processing some bales,
and filling up the grain feeder,
the sheep were ready to settle in for some eating.
Vuk, heads back out to the ewes once I was done feeding.

The dogs know their job, and every single day we trust that they will do their best to ensure the livestock are safe.
They are dependable, they are hardworking and it is a great feeling to know that the stock are safe under the vigilant watch of the dogs.

Visiting with the dogs, while out doing chores is a highlight of my day,
every day.

Tuesday 19 January 2016

The boys are 1 week old

The pups celebrate their one week old milestone tonight.
They have just about doubled their birth weight,
they are strong, active and doing exceptionally well.
It is such fun to go and sit with them at 3 am when I go and check the ewes and lambs. they are highly active and love to crawl into my hand and up against me.

There is always an over achiever in the litter.
This is big gray boy.

Hope your week was as good,
 as it has been for these pups!

Wednesday 13 January 2016

It's a man's world...

We are so excited to announce that our Katcha and Vuk have had a litter of pups.
She started whelping at about 8 pm and the final pup was born at 7 am. on the night of January 12.
The pups came steadily, all  a good and sturdy weight.
There were no issues, and I can happily say the birth was "uneventful".
The biggest surprise,  is that this litter is an all boys litter.
8 big fat boys!
I have rarely seen a litter so nicely matched, all pretty much the same weight, all thriving and doing well.
The pups are very uniform, all very dark, with only the smallest white markings on some of their toe tips and chest.

Katcha is a laid back mom, and spent most of yesterday sleeping.

Here are the first puppy pictures of the brood:

 Not only whelping took place, but also some lambing.
(this was also a boy!!)

A puppy pile

Here some short clips, nothing like seeing them move and squeak,
and hear the roar of the heater.

I knwo my next few months is going to be filled with puppy love!

Sunday 10 January 2016

The first 10 days

We are now 10 days into the New Year and already a lot has happened!

First up:
We have revamped our website. The old one was getting really outdated (behind the scenes) and it was time to give it a fresh new look and layout.
Take the time to revisit our website.
Thank you to Rap Trading Webdesign for a great new look!

lambing had a really slow start, we are still only getting  one or two a day.
Sometime, things should start speeding up. It is nice to ease your way back into night shifts, but it is also nice to be rewarded for your efforts by at least having some lambs.

Jess and I went on our annual New Year"s day horse ride.
Always great to be out riding with Jess.

Meco is back on the job. He is recovered, his wounds are closed and healed, his short ear looks comical but he is happy and not perturbed by the ear.
Now it is waiting for his coat to grow back.
He was delighted to be back out with the crew.

The countdown has began.
Katcha is now down to the final few days of her pregnancy.
She will whelp her litter this week, and we are really excited about this.
She is in the heated shop part of the barn, in with the ewes who are lambing. We made her whelping pen and she is comfortable in her new spot.

The Lambo tractor is serving two purposes,
our daily work machine and
official cat warmer.

We had spent the Christmas break prepping for a Cattle Show.
We loaded up 2 heifers and a steer and took them to the Peace Country Beef Congress in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.
Jess drove all the way from College to the show,  to show her heifer. A 9 hour drive. Luckily she had good company.
Thank you Casey.

The show went well, Eric had a booth at the trade show part, for his insurance business.
Eric and Roy hauled the cattle and show supplies, Jess arrived late at night and I came the following day. Leaving the lambing and care of all the animals in Ramona, Brooke and Roeby's capable hands.
Thank you for doing chores!

The show was relatively successful.
Jess won her Open heifer class.
She was Reserve Champion in the Youth Show with this heifer.
Roy did not place with (my heifer, she was just too chunky) and his steer was not competitive with the steers at the show.
Roy did however win the senior Judging Class, much to our surprise!
Jess gave a judging clinic to about 40 4-H kids at the Congress.

A great weekend spent with the family and our livestock.
Here are some pictures of our weekend.

Always washing, blow dryiong, combing, clipping, washing, blow drying...

Roy with the read heifer, Jess with the black

Panel of 5 cattlemen judges.

Jess, giving a "Judging Seminar" to the 4-H kids

Eric talking about farm insurance.

Roy knows how to "bring it on show day".

Judges like to ask how old cattle are..

Reserve Champion Youth Heifer

All in all, a good start to 2016!

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