Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Sisters Nellie Bird and Mini Mint

Nobody sings it better than Aretha, but what does in mean when we talk about "respecting the dogs?"

I know it has different meanings for us all, but the past month i have seen many things i respect about my two little rocket bitches...Nellie and Mint. Both of these girls have quirky personalities off of stock, and march to their own drummer. I kind of like that too.

These 1/2 sisters( same mother Loren Holmes Puzzle) are quite different in their style and approach to stock. Mint has more eye, and her come in balls to the wall style can make the stock afraid.  More so when the sheep are in small groups.  Mint carries more tension, and again stock sometimes want to turn and fight.  When i use Mint to hold or catch a ewe at lambing she needs to be well off, and hold her down.  I would call Mint biddable, she wants to please, but she can be difficult to get a hold of. 

Mint moving pg ewes

There are many things that Mint does very well. She can move most anything, and excels at moving larger mobs of sheep or cattle. When you watch her gather and push 600-1,000 head of sheep or cattle, you understand why she may scare 3-5 head of sheep at a dog trial. You would also understand why she is so valuable to me as a ranch dog. When the sheep are headed for the neighbors alfalfa field, you have to keep them off.  We don't do that kind of work every day,  but when you need that from a dog they have to do the job.

Nell marches to the tune of her own drummer :)
 Mint is also the best dog i have owned for loading a trailer, or a pen/chute, especially if the stock are not broke. Mint knows just where to be, and when to push, and when to let up. Somtimes i let down my end and fail to help her, we are still working on our partnership. Both dogs are good with lambs, thou Mint really excells with them. Watching Mint work a young lamb is a thing of wonder, like a beautiful dance.

This week i wanted to try and fish some of the ewes out of the flock( in the pasture so no use of fences or gates) that had not yet lambed. This is a delicate job with many ewes, and lambs of all ages.  When you call Mint into sheep she comes 100%, and she loves to hold off stock that want to break back. We sorted out several groups, and never really disturbed the ewes or lambs.  I admit it was as much fun as doing well at a dog trial, and i love to dog trial :)

 Nellie is much more kind to her stock. She has less eye and they are not afriad of her. She is not as easy to bend on her flanks as Mint is, but she also does not need to be bent out as much. She can not hold or push difficult stock as well as her sister can, but she does not make stock difficult with her method.

Nellie is a wonderful lambing dog. Nell has a gift for knowing just what ewe you want held and ignoring all the other sheep.  She can hold a single and they do not attack her in fear like they can to Mint. If they do attack she is very savy. She does not come in with the "move or i kill you" vibe.  When a ewe attacks she usually jukes one way and stops. This is sometimes enough to allow the ewe to calm down and go back to her lamb, or allow us to catch the ewe with a leg crook. If the ewe keeps coming Nellie will bite the head, and then pause and stay on her feet.

Mint training on the range
 Nellie like to bite the heel, and i need to keep an eye on her, or she will do it too much. A nice low heel bite is fine now and then, but if you heel a sheep or cow one too many times, they decided it is not safe to turn their back on the dog. Not good.

 Both of these dogs want to partner with me, but when Nell gets nervous she will tune me out. Even thou Mint has a warmer mind, she seems to be able to listen through the tension better than her sister can.

The one thing these two do have in common is a keep working through anything, die on their feet, work ethic. I just can't own a dog that will quit, or needs to be begged to work.  Mint and Nellie have work ethic in spades. I have seen them both work cattle on the range for 10 hours, on very little water, and pads that are torn bloody from the lava rocks.  My respect for the dogs is the strongest when they do a difficult job that could not have been done without them. I respect all animals that "work" for a living.

Mint wait to go to work

Nellie is mostly coming into her own on the trial field. She has done well at some trials, but she still wants to blow me off at the top of her fetch. I think she gets nervous and wants to get a hold of the sheep before she can take my direction. I am looking forward to the Kathy Knox clinic next month to get some ideas about how to better handle this. She does have over 20 points toward the USBCHA sheepdog finals this fall. That is a load off of my mind, as ranch and kids obligations don't have me in many sheepdog trials before the finals.

Nellie on the range
 Mint is 3 years old and still in Pro/Nov. I must have been asked 3 times this past weekend( at a sheepdog trial) when i will move to her to open. I guess i will move her up some time this summer, thou i have 2 open dogs in Kell and Nellie. With plans to attend only a handful of trials this summer, i want to keep my timming with the older dogs in tune for the finals. Mint is consistently doing well at trials, but she has been a lot of work, and i am not in a hurry to make the jump to open.

We don't all like or respect the same qualities in a dog, and i know my dogs are not many people's cup of tea. At the end of the day, be it on the ranch or the trial field, you have to respect the dogs you run. I find the balancing act difficult between what i need/like in a ranch dog, and what i want in a trial dog. If you add in the mix my limitations as a trainer and a handler, it is the humbling and challenging world of stockdogs.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

That Just Happens Sometimes..Enjoy The Rainbows

 Rain rain go away! I have that little ditty running through my head the past few days. I think it may mean your are obsessive if you check the weather 40 times a day, AND check several different sites looking for better news.

When i lived on the other side of the mountain and the weather man said "thunderstorms" i would know that usually meant.... cow pissing on a flat rock all out rain. On this side of the hill, it normally means a shower or two.

The past 2 nights right after the sun has gone done, the temp has plummeted to the high 30s and it has dumped a 1/2 inch of rain in 30 min.  To say the least this is not ideal newborn lamb weather.  It has produced some very pretty rainbows. Our kids loved the rainbows, but i admit i did not give them more than a passing glance.

There was some sun in the late afternoon, and i tried to soak it all in. We opened up some dry land for the ewes, and when i went to check on them i just sat and the hill and enjoyed the sun. Marty came up to see what i was doing and i made him sit with me too.

Earlier in the day Katy came to helped me check the back pasture.  When i left to get Katy at school I had seen a first time ewe who was having some trouble, and i wanted to see if she had lambed.  I decided to leg crook the ewe and pull the lamb.

Katy waited on the atv while my dog Nellie and i caught the ewe. Then Katy sprinted out to us with the gambrel. The grambrel is used to hold the ewe down so she can't get away.  If you lamb and don't have one... you need one!

After getting the gambrel on the ewe Katy took up postion at her head to help "hold" her.  While i worked in getting the lamb out, Katy had a running dialouge with the ewe " it is ok mommy we will help you, i know it hurts." After much work i got the monster lamb out, but sadly the lamb was dead.

I was cursing this and Katy was telling the ewe how sorry she was that her baby was dead, " you are a good mom your baby was just too big." I have noticed this year Katy is very into noting who is a "good mom" and who is a "bad mom."  Each time a lamb dies Katy will give her assessment on who was at fault in the lambs death. IE weather, bad mom, or "that just happens sometimes mom."  When the kids do something that is an accident like spill milk or pee the bed we always say..that just happens sometimes... As in nobody is at fault.

Well Katy this has been a "that just happens sometimes" kinda lambing and that is just ranching.... with more thunder showers in the forecast i guess i will  try and enjoy the rainbows.

Photo by Liz Hubbard 5/18/2011 Hubbard Ranch Bonanza Oregon

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Thanks Kids and Gpa

 We have been busy lambing and our kids have really stepped up to help. James is 7 and Katy is 5, and they have been helping around the ranch since they were able to walk.

Katy and Duster ready for work!

The pasture that we seeded several weeks ago is taking it's sweet time coming up( cold weather has played a part), so they ewes are lambing in an area much smaller than we would like. That is making some extra work.  We waited to plant this spring instead of last fall, as we were not sure if we would have irrigation water. We did not want to tear up the old field if we were not going to have water again this year.

Anticipation is making us wait!

The new seeding requires that the irrigation be moved every 3 hours. Just when you start doing something it is time to move water.  The subbing irrigation ditch is starting to rise, and the culverts need to be kept clear, or they will flood the field.  The ditches were not used last year due to no irrigation water, and this is causing much of the problem.

Marty supervises the Job

James works the shovel

With this extra work the past few days we often come in and get the kids up, then they are on their own to get breakfast and get their chores done.  Today James moved the wheel line, so his dad could re attach the sections of wheel that are dropped as it is moved across the irregular shaped field.  Katy drove the atv while i tagged lambs. James also helped his dad clear ditch culverts. The kids LOVE to help pull lambs. I will get the lamb most of the way out, and the let the kids finish it.

A few years ago i came home from town and James came running up to meet me as i got out of the truck. He had blood on one arm past his elbow. James could not wait to tell me how he held a prolapsed uterus in place while his dad fitted the prolapse harness. Happy to see not one prolapse yet this year, but it is good to have a 1st grader with skills!

Both kids found ways to entertain themselves for hours while we worked. My dad was here for a week from Montana and that was an Incerdible help to us. Gpa took the early shift to check for lambs, dug culverts, and chaffauerd kids to school and baseball.  He will be missed this week!

Marty and the kids wanted to keep some bummer lambs this year. Most years we sell bummer at a few days. In the rural area were we live there is not much of a market for selling bummer lambs, even with record high lamb prices. I have always thought that you can not make money on bummers with the price of milk replacer as high as it is, but this year may be the exception.

Please mom we will feed them!

We are over half through lambing, and as with each year i was happpy to see it come....and i will be happy to see it end!

Looking forward to having lambing BEHIND us :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Working Border Collie Pups For sale

My friend Eric Harlow has some pups for sale out of good working lines.

Eric runs several thousand ewes as well as thousands of feeder lambs. His dogs are ranch proven and well breed. His web site is

  • We have 4 puppies left from the Gale/Greg litter.  These are reg. ABCA Border Collie puppies.  Will be very strong but sensible.  Both parents are working on my ranch in Eastern Oregon.  Both parents are natural out-runners and work sheep or cattle as needed.  Both work the head and heel.  $250ea. includes reg. and first shots.  EMAIL ME or call Eric 541 215 9109
  • Sunday, May 8, 2011

    Happy Mothers Day #102

    This am i found one of my old Cheviot ewes with a dead lamb. The lamb was huge, and she she must have labored a long time, as the lambs head was very swollen.  The lamb had been dead a while, but the ewe was  still very dispondent.

    Old #102 is a familiar ewe to me as she is very tough on dogs, and will attack them if they get close to her. I have cussed her more than once. The only dog i have that she wont at least challenge, is Kell.

    We had an orphan lamb that i could not figure out who her mother was. She was surivng by stealing food here and there from several ewes.  It has been too busy the past few days to deal with her.

    Today Marty and my dad skinned #102's dead lamb and tied the skin to the orphan. #102 took to her right away without being put in a stanchion or tied.

    A happy mothers day for an old grizzled dog warrior.

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Little Shepherds and Big Shepherds

    Lambing has started. As usual a Cheviot ewe started things off, having her lambs a few days early.  We have had a trickle of lambs and yesterday, and on the first "official" day of lambing, we had 7 nice sets of twins. Lambing should peak in about 8-10 days, and most all ewes with be lambed out in 18 days. There will be a trickle of lambs after that.

    I was checking for lambs yesterday and saw that a ewe had just lambed. I figured she would have another so i went to the house to see if our daughter Katy wanted to see the other lamb born.  Katy is our animal lover and never gets tired of helping with the animals. Son James was already at school.

    We sat down on an irrigation pipe and waited. The sun was out and the irrigation sprinklers serenaded us with their "chchchcchshhhh."  Katy gave me a running commentary of the birth.  Katy is 5, but as a ranch kid she has a very specific knowledge of where lambs come from, and how the come out :) Katy explained to me how the lambs got into the ewe, and how, and where, they would come out. She may not have used all the correct words, but she had her facts down pat!

    It did not take long and the new lamb joined her twin.  I enjoy watching the lambs being born, and even more so when i can share that joy with my kids. This is  my 13th year( 10 with Marty) lambing, and i hope i never loose that feeling.  

    The young shepherd waits