Friday, December 9, 2011

I could If I wanted To!

Trailing sheep today i saw some funny things. No camera sorry.

If i know there will be a loose dog i try to contact the owner ahead of time, and ask that they put the dog up while we pass with the sheep.

This route was a road i drive most days and i did not think there were any loose dogs.

As we came off of the first turn from the graze i saw a Golden Retriever. The dog was loose and bouncing up and down like it had springs. I thought..ohh shit.

The dog's hackles were up and it was in the front yard of a house we were passing. It made a couple of lunges, but was still not that close to the sheep on the road. The Border Collies never even acknowledge it was there, head down working they were.

Then our livestock dog Ella came into sight and took one step onto the yard. I think she was just curious, but i bet the farm dog saw this in his eyes.

Whatever the farm dog thought of Ella i am pretty sure he said "I could go out and chase those sheep if i wanted to, but i am a bird dog and these sheep are not for me brother!" He then made a 180 deg turn and disappeared around the house. I kept looking back, but he was not to be seen.

Next stop was passing a friends sheep. I had called and ask if she could put her sheep in the corral while we passed. Last time we went by our sheep were fascinated with her sheep and it caused a log jam. She has her rams in now, and my ewes are so frisky the ewe lambs are chasing the ewes and mounting them. The sheep had been moved and we passed without the log jam, except for my friends llama who came down to the fence and reached over to kiss a few sheep.

One time we passed some mules on a fence and those bastards were reaching over trying to grab sheep!

We had a neighbor friend in the truck stopping cars in front as we came up the road. I like to have people wait and not drive through the sheep. I don't worry about sheep being run over as much as dog.

The last turn of the trail was a step blind hill down into our ranch. Marty was in front and he radioed that a neighbors Blue Heeler was out. The turn is always tricky as the sheep don't seem to like the change in up or down hill.

I kept looking for the dog and i finally saw him on the porch. He stood up and took a long look over the sheep. The house is up on the side of a hill so he was above them. I could see him thinking and i think he finally decided " I could run down there and move those sheep if i wanted to, but the sun just hit my porch so i shall leave the silly collies to their work." With that he laid back down.

Down the hill we all went and into the pasture. Another safe move.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Never Judge A Book By It's Cover

This is a picture of a new seeding alfalfa field. The field was seeded in August and the picture was taken today.

Ok... not very impressive looks like a field dead weeds.

Lets take a closer look.

Ok great now it looks like a mat of dead mustard.

Come on lets get a closer look...

That my friends is green, not yet dormant, alfalfa. As soon as the sheep touch the dead mustard it disintegrates and blows away. What is left is very rich graze.

This is the second new seeding we have grazed this fall. The field is like a mat of food and the sheep eat it in layers. The farmer who owns these fields watched the first graze closely, as new seeding is delicate. When we finished the first field he was very happy, and Monday we move to the next new seeding.

Today this farner told us that next year any graze they have in the fall, and we are welcome to it. That is music to the ears of any sheep rancher.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Climb N Run

I did not take a camera today and i should have.  We moved sheep about a 1/4 a mile to a new graze. We came out of the fields and the sheep stalled some getting on the dirt road that went around the farmers house and barn.

When grazing other farmers land you want to keep the sheep out of his yard, and also keep them from eating any high end hay from his hay barns.

I was keeping  my dog to the yard side while Marty started the sheep to turn into a hay field and keep them off of a newly planted grain field. Happy farmers keep calling back each year.

There was a very large pile of compost along the dirt road. The farmer was going to put in on the new seeding alfalfa pasture after we grazed it.

There was no reason for the sheep to go close to the dirt. I got distracted for a second and about 200 lambs( just some of the lambs i guess the ewes knew better) were ON the compost pile having some sort of lamb race! I actually screamed " GET OFF OF THERE!"  Crazy lady. Then i sent Mint up and off the came. It would have been a great picture.

The compost pile was OK, but i wonder if the farmer stopped and wondered what all the tracks all over it were :)

We got the the field and we had already set up most of the fence. I had to take Marty back to his truck so he could get the rest of the 4 wire set up.  This was an 40 acre field will all the same good food evenly throughout the field. Only 1/4 of the field was fenced, we will fence the  rest as they finish eating the first piece down.   In a new field sheep often go on a walk about to check it all out. No idea why, you would think they would just eat. 

Knowing this, i sat for a while and had the dog put the sheep in the closest fenced corner. They seemed to be eating so i took Marty to his truck. I was gone less than 5 min. When i got back the sheep were all at the far end of the field with about 1/4 of them in farm house yard.

I sent Mint and she went out to the end of the field. Thank goodness i have a good bend out. I stopped her and gave her a bend. I saw her look around and see that she had to go out and around the house to get the sheep. She did, and back they came.

This weekend we are bringing sheep home to pull lambs out and put the bucks in with the ewes. I will take a camera and nothing "fun" will happen.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Lamb

I took some pics of the lambs this week.  The first load of lambs will be trucked to slaughter in less than a month. I am looking forward to getting them home and feeling the finish on them.

. We are very happy with how the lambs look, and how they are growing on the alfalfa stubble. The stubble has wilted some and is started to dis color, but still looks good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alfalfa Stubble That Is, Green Gold, Oregon Tea

When i think of stubble i think of that old Beverly Hillbillies song "Oil that is, black gold, Texas tea."

It is that time of year in the Klamath Basin. The heavy frosts have come and the alfalfa stubble is ready to graze. The frost lessens the chance of bloat.

We never know what fields we will be grazing, that is one of the stressful parts about grazing other people's land. The graze depends on which field has the right amount of stubble, how long has it been since the last cutting was taken.  This is hay and  potato country. The spud farmers can't put spuds in the same field  two years in row, so their rotation crop is often hay.

Most of the hay sold here is high end, dairy quality hay. Most farmers figure to take 3 cuttings. If the weather holds some will take 4. If the stubble comes up to much after the last cutting then the rodents will really destroy a field.  Also, the more stubble left, the more area for weevils and aphids to lay their eggs. The weevils and the aphids eat the alfalfa.

In addition there are a fair number of farmers here who sell organic hay and potatoes. That means no chemicals to kill the rodents and bugs. 

All of this can be good news for sheep ranchers.  The stubble is a very high protein food for the sheep, and the sheep do an excellent job of evenly, and naturally taking the stubble down.

We like to graze stubble withing 1-5 miles from our ranch.  We save time and gas by trailing the sheep instead of trucking them. This requires good dogs and some good friends to help. The key to a good move is keeping the sheep moving, while keeping the pace fairly slow. If we have a lot of stubble to graze, we put the ewes back with the lambs. The ewes also keep the lambs moving along more smoothly.  These are lambs we are trying to finish and the more calm the move, the better for the sheep. This is one job we absolutely could not do without well trained, tough Border Collies.

Also a factor is keeping the farmers along the route happy. You never know from  whom your next grazing opportunity will come,  and good trailing makes good neighbors. This means keeping the sheep out of newly farmed fields, as well as yards and gardens. Along the way there all also all sorts of driveways and ditch access roads. The sheep seemed to love to cut down these.

The dogs work hard. One second they are pushing the sheep up a hill( sheep hate this) and the next they must sprint ahead to keep the sheep out of a farmed field. We also have a friend in a truck to warn traffic and ask that they stop and let the sheep go around them before they move on.

This last move was hectic and i wished we would have had more help. I did not get many pics, but here is one of the hill right up from our ranch. This was not an easy push. I wish i had more pictures, but it was to busy to get more.

Mint takes well deserved break and guards the lawn.

This is a photo of the field before sheep have grazed.

The sheep are grazed in electric net and electric 4 wire.  Here is a pic of section that has been grazed.

This shows a section the sheep have started to eat. As you can see lots of food left but not as lush.

Fat lambs make me happy.

These lambs were all produced by Janet McNally's Tamarack rams.  Our lamb buyer was here last week and took this picture of 3 of the rams we own from Janet. These rams are 2 years old and have never had grain. They will be joined by two new yearlings lambs we bought from Janet this fall.

Photo by Cody Heimke

It is stressful not having your sheep on your own ranch.  We use a combination of electric fence and livestock guard dogs to keep the sheep safe. This is Ella one of our LGD. It was taken during lambing and she was asleep when i snuck up and took her pic. She is very sweet to people, thou very aloof, but i feel better knowing this is the face a coyote will see.

On this years trailing we were stopped by one of the largest spud farmers in the area, he offered us 150 acres of graze. We had not asked this man for graze in the past as we figured being such a large farmer he would want to use machines to take care of the stubble. Just shows it never hurts to ask! While i was checking sheep the next day, another farmer stopped and offered several hundred acres of graze. The sheep advertise for themselves by doing such an excellent job. We keep sheep moved and water rotated so the field looks as pristine as we can leave them.

It also helps that is wide open farm ground ,so people can see if there is a problem with the sheep. Mostly we worry about loose farm dogs.

Sheep graze in background of the wide open spaces

This is my second blog about trailing and graze, i wrote one last year too. I do this to encourage and educate others to think about grazing opportunities in their area. Lamb prices are good, and more and more people seem to be interested in raising sheep.

When we moved to the Klamath Basin 4 years ago from our small farm in western Oregon, we knew nothing about electric fence, trailing sheep, or grazing stubble. We would not have taken it on had we not had good dogs, but we had to ask a LOT of questions to get to where we are today. It has not been easy(i call it the learning cliff) and there is still much to learn, but i encourage others to jump in there and find better and cheaper ways to graze their flocks.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cheap Sheep Gal

Several years ago i was giving a ride to our friend Dan Byrne(rest in peace Dan.) Dan was a cattle rancher friend of ours and the husband of my good friend Geri.  As we drove along a ditch bank i was quizzing Dan about the plants we saw and asking what was good feed, and what was not.

Dan answered several questions and then asked me why i was asking.  I told him i was thinking of grazing the ditch banks with our sheep. Dan said "well hell, you are finally thinking like a cheap sheep gal!" If you cant find free food you are not much of a sheep rancher!"

I took those words to heart and i have been looking for cheap or free food ever since.

This fall i was out looking for alfalfa stubble fields to graze my lambs on. The stubble fields are a very rich source of fall food, and using sheep to graze is also beneficial to the farmer, as it helps kill the weevil and aphid eggs. The weevil and aphids eat the alfalfa.

I pulled into a farm house and introduced myself to a neighbor i had meet once before. I asked about a stubble field and he had and he told me the man who was leasing the field was going to be taking a 4th cutting from that field, so there would be no graze.

We stood and talked a few minutes and the man said i could graze his other field if i wanted. He said he thought the spud farmers may want it for next year, but i could have it until then.   He said i would take a look, and went to walk to the field. The field is up against the hill and you can not see it from the road.

At first glance this is what i saw. A lot of dried up mustard. Mustard is good food, but this was too dry. This field was not farmed this year or last, but it has irrigation ditch on 2 sides and this year, after the water crisis of two years ago, the ditches subbed a lot.

Not to be discouraged i set to walk through the field, to see what else i could find. As i walked i started to see more of this. Good grass under that mess.

Still further i found a lot of this, coarse but green and lush.

The next week we trailed the ewes to this field which is about 2 miles from our house. As we set up net i lost sight of the ewes. I cold just see a few ears here and there so i sent Mint. Then i could just see a pair of Border Collie ears every now and then ,and she bounced up to look for sheep. It seemed like a very long time until Mint found the sheep and brought them to me.

Here i am mom!

Hay prices are high this year and any graze that you can find after irrigation season ends means less hay to feed, and more profit. The lambs are still grazing on our ranch, but a neighbor in the other direction stopped by this week and offered 40 acres of stubble to us. The man who cut the farmers field did not want the 4th cutting and this farmer did want that much stubble left for winter.  We will be trailing the lambs to this field next week and i will get some pics and a write up of that then. The lambs are not as easy to trail.

These are the days i am very grateful that we have good dogs( trucking these sheep and lambs would be much more time consuming and expensive) and the dogs can do the job in an hour or two. Also thankful we learned about and invested in, temp electric fence, as none of these fields have good fence. Also thankful for the livestock guard dogs that keep the sheep safe, when they are home and especially when they are on the road :)

We do worry about the sheep when they are not on the ranch, but it is part of the season for our ranch, and i try to turn the worry over to God when i can. I could not do that without the lessons of a cheap sheep gal, learned from the many sheep and cattle ranchers that have given us advise over the years. Also from the advice i have found from Bill Fosher's sheep forum, which is an amazing source of information.

I encourage other shepherds out there to ask for graze, learn new ideas about graze and fencing and  "think like a cheap sheep guy/gal!!"

Friday, October 28, 2011

Always Saddle Your Own Horse

American Cowgirl is the name of this clip. This made my day.
Connie is my hero..."always saddle your own horse" words to live by for the cowgirl in us all.

Here is the blog

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Eyes Have IT

They resonate with wisdom and strength.
Kell photo By Dawn Pucci

They crackle with intensity and intelligence.

Mint photo by Dawn Pucci

They express love, fear and fatigue.

Nellie photo by Dawn Pucci

All of this in an amazing little package that is the beloved Border Collie.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sheepdog Training Courses..The MacRae Way

My friends at Little Horse Mountain productions have a very exciting new opportunity for you to learn from some of the best clinicians in the world.

Sheepdog Training Courses provides online classes that will cover many aspects of training and handling sheepdogs. Weekly video instruction, question & answer sessions, and homework challenges will assist participants in reaching their personal goals.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dear Deer

Dear Deer, i run up through the alfalfa fields and onto the ditch road around the same time most every day. I am the rather slow moving gal with the pack of dogs.

 Each day we see you happily munching our fall sheep food.

Each time you see us you freeze.  You seem to hope we wont keep coming up the same path we always take. You wait until the pack of hounds is very close before you make a mad rush in front of us, over the fence, then into the ditch and up turkey hill.

I have a tip. If don't enjoy the crazed frenzy of dogs chasing your food stealing hineys up the hill..then take off when you first see us!!!! This will leave me to my peaceful run, without the screeching i must do to stop the pack from chasing you to the next county. OK mostly it is Nellie, but she really hates you.

Last year when you decided to play a game of chicken and come up out of the subbing ditch at the same time we ran down the ditch road was not cool! There were deer and dogs all over hell and gone.

Another is hunting season and you may want to not stand out in the middle of the hay fields for the next few weeks.


Lana and the pack

Friday, September 23, 2011

Just Add Water

This time of year we wean the lambs and we also try to get an average weight. The lambs are around 100 days old when we wean, and this year we got the weights 2 weeks post weaning. All our lambs are on a grass only system. This means our ewes and  lambs are never feed any grain or other food concentrates.

This is also our first year using Janet McNally's Tamarack bucks a Dorset and Ile de France cross.

Our ewes are from Richard Hamilton and Hamilton Brothers sheep. Hamilton brothers raises 3-4 thousand commercial white face sheep in CA. The Hamilton family has been engaged in agriculture, including sheep production, in California for more than 130 years.  Their sheep are a cross of Targhee/Rambouilett and Finn. We buy replacement lambs from Richard instead of breeding our own replacements.  We do this for two reasons.  We can buy fall ewe lambs from Richard and by the time we breed them in December,  they are much more able/fit to handle the stress of lambing  than if we breed our own spring ewe lambs.

Most winters we can still be on alfalfa stubble graze when we put the bucks in.  The stubble is usalluy  1-5 miles from our ranch, and we like to put all the bucks in with the flock and not have separate breeding groups.

This spring was cold and wet, and we had some new seeding that did not come up. This meant the ewes were pushed very hard the first 6 weeks after we lambed.  We got some triticale planted and once the warm weather came the food took off.

"Does this clover make our butt look big?"

The lambs weighed an average of 75-80 lbs and as can  you see by these pictures they are uniform and just..well...GORGEOUS! I feel like these weights would have been even better had the ewes not been pushed so hard that first 6 weeks.

I sent these pictures to Janet and i joked that all we did was add water.  Hamilton brothers and Janet McNally did all the work with their years of superior genetics.  We are very grateful to Richard Hamilton for allowing us to buy his ewe lambs and for sharing his knowledge with us. 

We are also grateful to Janet McNally for her 30 years of grass based gentics and the wisdom and advice she has generously shared with us over the past few years. Janet also delivered this rams to us, and walked us through how to read and and use Lambplan This allowed us to pick the best rams for our operation .

This is our fifth year on our new ranch and the learning "cliff" has been quite steep most of the time. Looking at these beautiful lambs grazing on the lush clover, makes it all seem worth the effort.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Soldier Hollow III...James

My 3rd showing at Soldier Hollow is now in the books. It was a grand adventure in many ways.

The trip was a long one for a very excited James, and he was less than impressed with the Nevada desert.

Soldier Hollow is about the sheep and the dogs, but there is also a lot of other fun. With James along this year,  I made it a point to stop and see the world outside of the trial field.

The rescued wild animal show was very fun, with big snakes, skunks and these "sugar babies" just to name a few.

What would a big show be with out somne face painting? James had a Border Collie one day and a VERY cool snake the next.

Lots of bike ridding with Kell and the beautiful Herber valley as a backdrop.

The best part of the trip was the new friends we made. Several other handlers also brought the kids, and being the only boy in the; Rowley Knox Basson Fogt pack, did not bother James in the least. The kids had a blast running all over Soldier Hollow. There are so many events for kids and these kids saw them ALL.

I admit i did not get any pictures of sheep or dogs. Many other people did, and they are better than any i would have taken. James took a pic of the field and it is an amazing course to run on.

Ok so how were my runs? I don't like to give a blow by blow of runs in my blog, i am more of a big picture gal.  Day 1 i think i was the only handler who sent left. Kell is a good outrunner so i was not worried. He started out nicely and then suddenly took a big flank/turn and ran up into the tall grass left of the cabin. I was surprised, but not worried.

I was not worried that is... until Kell came out of the tall grass. There was a road cut out of the hill and he free fell about 6 feet right on his side and back. Then he went end over end. In the many wrecks i have seen in ranch and trial work, this one may have been the worst.

I stood there in shock and before i could react Kell was up and running full out to finish his outrun. Heart i call that. I could tell when Kell came into his sheep at the top that he was off. We finished the run, but he came off the field and i could tell he was hurt.

Thank God Cheryl Williams had been to a local vet/chiropractor that week and she told me the vet was coming to the trial later in the day. Dick Williams came and got me when the vet got there and she did an amazing job getting kell adjusted and using the cold laser ( my good friend/vet has a cold laser and they are amazing.)

Kell was 100% better by Saturday and he was able to get one more treatment before his run on Sunday.

Speaking of heart.....i was in the on deck tent when Haley Howard ran Ross on Sunday. The sheep were tough all week, but i did not see any really attack a dog, until Haley and Ross made it to the pen.  Ross and Haley had a beautiful run to that point,  and he had done nothing to rattle this ewe. 

At the pen the ewe put her head down and made it clear she was going to attack the dog. Ross calmly stood his ground. The ewe attacked him, and he gave one nose bite and went right back down to hold the same ground. Many many dogs would have gripped and held on, bite a ewe in the group that was not the attack ewe, or simply turned off the ewe and gotten away.

The ewe attacked Ross several more times and each time Ross held his ground.  It was an absolutely beautiful display of a brave dog with a big heart. 

 The sheep won quite a few rounds this year, with many dq's and rt's due to dogs stalling or gripping. The one thing i love the most about Kell is he can move any sheep.  The one thing i hate about Kell is that he has too much eye, and sometimes he wont allow me to steer him.  Kell had a solid run on Sunday, but it was not quite good enough for the finals. We were just not in sync as a team, but I was still proud of him.

I would have loved to have run Nellie or Mint at this trail, and i hope i get the chance to soon.

Most of the handlers were off to the Meeker sheepdog trial after SH, but James and i need to get home. James was starting 2nd grade and had his first football game( pop warner) this week. Our daughter Katy was starting kindergarten and and has her first horse show(gymkhana) this week.  Lots of things i did not want to miss.

We planned to get home Monday evening, but the Gods had other plans. While driving down I-80( about 6 hours from home) at about 75 mph the serpentine belt on the truck broke. This belt controls eveything that spins under the you cant really steer and the brakes dont work well....kind of like Kell this weekend :)

Thank God this happened RIGHT at an exit that had a town. I am also thankful that we have AAA/plus so towing the rig and trailer was no charge.  Nothing was open on labor day BUT this town had a shop right next to the only hotel in town that took pets.

 The last 6 hours of our drive is full of 2 lane roads, with no cell coverage or towns. Not to mention the 8% grade with no guard rail that is a few hours from where we broke down...gulp.  James was upset at first, but i told him there must be a reason we got delayed, and i like to think God was saving us from some worse fate.

The hotel had HBO and James begged me to watch Avitar. I felt sorry for the boy at the point, so i agreed.  I had no intention of ever seeing that movie...not my cup of tea. We curled up with Kell and watched the movie that afternoon, and we both loved it.

The next day the shop opened and after waiting a few hours we were on the road home. We did see some real asses on the last leg home, but no more drama ensued.

I am home for a few days to enjoy some of our children's "firsts" and to help my beloved wean lambs and catch up on some ranch work. I will be headed out in a few days for the National Sheepdog Finals in Crabondale CO.  I hope Kell will be  feeling 100% and that  maybe his serpentine belt/power steering is also back in gear. I am also running my lil fireball Nellie.

 I am making this trip solo,( no kids) but i hope i can remember to stop and smell the roses, like i was able to at Soldier Hollow with the help of my son James.

I leave you with two picture that will make you smile. As the saying goes

 "You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching,
Love like you'll never be hurt,
Sing like there's nobody listening,
And live like it's heaven on earth."

I would add " you gotta work that hula hoop like you don't have on a broke up cowboy hat , a lobster shirt and a binky in your mouth"

As my friend Lora says in her blog "seize the day!"

Monday, August 22, 2011

That Hat

About 5 years ago my hubby and I got a rare out of town get away when my brother and sis in law so graciously watched our kids, who were then under 1, and 3 years old.  On the trip my man bought me that hat. I loved that hat the second i tried it on.

I was still a Portland Police Officer when i got that hat. Still living on a small farm. That hat has seen some big changes, seen some dreams come true.

I have worked many long hours in that hat,  most with my best friend and our kids.

I have a lot of memories in that hat. Won a big cattle trial in 2008 in that hat.

In 2009 i won an award in that hat. An award that i am the most proud of any in my trialing.

I have spilled some blood, and some tears in that hat.  Been soaked to the skin in that hat. Cried in that hat, and laughed a LOT in that hat.

Lots of good in that hat. Lots of dirt too. That hat has seen life begin and life end. That hat is an old friend. That hat could tell some storeis...some i don't want anybody to hear.
That is hat is looking pretty beat up these day,  it has earned every stain and scuff and dent.  My friends say i need a new hat for the big trials this fall. They say " what if you make the final day are you going to wear THAT HAT?!!" 

I love that hat, but i broke down and bought a new hat for the trials next month. It is a nice hat, the same style of hat as my old hat. It looks nice, but it doesnt have any "whiskers" yet. In police work when you work the street long enough, and have seen and done some things,you earn some whiskers.

Some day the new hat will have some whiskers, but it has to earn them the hard way, just like that hat did.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Wiley Wapati

I went out to irrigate this am and i noticed as i went by my sheep that they were all standing up, and my LGD was barking. My sheep are usually bedded down that time of the morning, and the dog seem upset. I thought maybe a coyote was out, so i started to look as i approached the end of the pasture.

Many morning i see bald eagles, hawks, and quail. Last week i was irrigating and saw a big buck deer in velvet, he walked out across the field in front of me, and he was in no hurry. We have lots of deer, but i do enjoy looking for the nice bucks.  The dogs some times see the coyotoes before i do, and i have to watch or they will chase both the deer and coyotes.

  At the end of our pasture land is some dry land that is at the base of tukey hill. It was no deer or yote that the LGD saw. This is what i saw runing around in the dry land. A wiley wapati( as my master elk hunter and old hunting guide dad would say) AKA an Elk! A 4 point point bull elk, to be exact. 

 We do not see elk down here in the farm land. You can find elk if you go 60 miles in most any direction as the crow flies, but to see them in the farm land is very rare.  The elk must have come through an open gate, as he was frantic, and could not figure out how to jump over the fence.  It was 645am, but i knew i HAD to call somebody and tell them.

Now most farmers and ranchers are awake at 645am, but this time of year many were up baling hay at 2am. I called four of my neighbors anyway :) I then drove the ATV back to the house as fast as could so i could get my camera. I just knew if i did not have a picture then some of these old boys would think maybe i did not know an elk when i saw one. I grew up in Montana and have shot elk, but they might not know that :)

I had Mint come up on the atv as soon as i saw the elk. When i went back with the camera the elk was still there pacing the fence line. As i got off the atv to get a better picture the elk finally went over the fence, and headed up and over turkey hill. It was a real treat seeing this majestic beast, and he was only about 50 yards away.

You know that you live in a rural area/small town when an hour after you make a few calls the road in front of your house looking up the hill looks like this.  The road has been full of trucks and farm equpiment driving by VERYYYYYYYYYYYYYY slowly all day :)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


 Growing up both Marty and I were raised in families where hard work was expected, praised and rewarded. Our parents worked hard their whole lives, and by doing so, showed their children by example. Our grandparents did the same.

Both of  my grandmothers had college degrees. My grandmother Williams/Murrry( full blood Irish) was born in the late 1800's, and my grandmother Mockler/Heney( full blood German) was not much younger. For a women to earn a college degree in those days required hard work, and more than a little determination.

My grandfather Mockler went to law school when he was in his early 40s and running a cattle ranch, while raising 4 children. My grandpa Williams did not have an education past grade school, as he had to quit to work and help his family. Grandpa Williams did have his own construction company, and built many of the finest houses in Sheridan WY, including the modest home my mother grew up in.

My mother always taught me that everything we have is a gift from God. We had no choosing/say in what family we were born into, what part of the world we live in, or our mental or physical gifts.  We do get to choose how we use those gifts.

I am very grateful to God for the gift of my loving, hard working family, and the fact that my brain and body work well. Our children have to be the very best blessing that we have.

One of the reasons we moved to this area is that we wanted our children to grow up in a rural/agrarian community. We wanted our children to grow up working hard, in a community where people worked hard. In our life experience we have both seen that work ethic and discipline can take you anywhere you want to go in life. Brains and opportunity are nice too, but hard work is the key.

Two weeks ago we my friend Geri Byrne and i put on a small sheepdog trial.  Geri and are i both very busy this summer and have had to miss many of the trials we like to attend. We wanted to keep our dogs in shape for the up coming national sheepdog finals, so we had a small trial.  Mike Hubbard generously donated his judging skills for 2 days, and Bill Swan and Justin Rodriguez did the set out, with help from Amy Coapman and Angie Untisz.  I donated the sheep, and we had the trial at Geri's ranch. The trial was a fund raiser for the 2012 sheepdog finals that will be in the Klamath basin.

The weather was hot at 90 deg plus, and the set out pens were dusty and dirty. My 7 year old son James wanted to help set sheep and so did a neighbor and friend, 8 year old Colten Wright. Coletn's parents are ranchers and i know they feel the same way we do about work. The kids were both there before the trial started. I was going to have James come later in the day, but he cried when he thought he might miss ANY of the trial. Colten's mom told me he had been asking her every day for weeks to make sure he could still work at the trial.

The boys worked all day both days. They had a great time and both asked when the next trial would be so they could work that one too. We managed to raise around $2,000 for the finals, pretty good for small local trial that was a lot of fun.

Working the pens, photo by Gloria Atwater

At the end of the day these boys had earned the respect and praise of all the handlers. These young men seem to have been soaking up the work ethic just fine. I was very proud of them both.

Tired young sheep wranglers, photo by Gloria Atwater