Saturday, February 18, 2017

And Then There Were Three

The puppies have been trickling out since last Saturday.  With serious evaluation, I felt a few puppies might be ready to fly the coop at 7 weeks, so I offered this up to their potential owners. After a long visit, everyone agreed and Nymeria (now Kestrel) and BenJen (now Ryhs) left.  Oh My GOSH!!!!  Going from 9 puppies to 7 puppies was Heaven and Hell all in one!  I missed them so much....but the energy level drop was amazing.  It was square rooted power.......7 hellions just did not create the chaos 9 could!  The next day, Jamie (now Kash) went to his home living on a working sheep ranch.  He not only has hundreds of sheep in his future, he has grandchildren to play with.  His love of children made me proud of all the socialization work "we" did as well as the nice, sound genetic foundation that was planned.

Yes, the puppies trickled out...and now, 8 weeks later, I've got three left.....the two I am keeping and the runt puppy. Arya (now Bess) was the runt and was born a little premature.  She looks great now but I felt she could use a little more time...so she will stay another week. I'll get her through her next fear period and then she will go to her new home......another working sheep ranch owned by my good friend.

Now I work on adjusting back to "normal".  Although what is normal when keeping two puppies was the decision made....and one is a boy pup at that!!!  I was going to send the boy off to be raised by a friend.....but so much of this journey has been "punt" and things changed...so Jon Snow (yes he keeping his litter name!) is staying.  The art of letting go and trusting flow continues......I wonder what lessons I am to learn in what lies ahead.

I have closed my Facebook account....I'm not sure if it is for a while or forever but it was time for me to take a break.  I was listening to a pod cast where the topic was "more social, less media" and all that Facebook has represented for the past 4 months made me think it was time for a break.  On the one hand, I'm so sorry to be missing out on the puppies going home and what the owners are sharing. On the other hand....all are texting me and I feel blessed to be a part of each of their lives.  I can't believe the fabulous homes that each puppy picked!  I'm also looking at all the time I spent on Facebook......time I am now hoping to spend on relationships, dog training and the list of heart projects for spring.   I'm still on Instagram....pictures make me so happy and it feels like people share more "good thoughts" there!  If anyone "needs" me....which really makes me laugh because I feel sheep dog blogs are really a thing of the past......I still have messenger.

There is a bit of a heavy heart here as I close this chapter of my life.  I've learned over the years to Never say Never, but I am pretty darn certain I won't be having a litter of puppies again.  For me, personally, I feel so much responsibility in providing all the socialization and experiences that young puppies need to leave my home with resilience to stress.  The feed back from all the puppy owners makes me very proud that this litter was all that and more.  But 9 puppies was a lot.....and then the issues with Sis...it was a good way to know it's time to pass that baton to the younger generation!  And with that, I grieve a little.

My thoughts as I head off into the next chapter of "raise two puppies in the same household" is an idea that Patrick Shannahan gave me years ago.  He told me, "teach puppies to learn......that is your task!"  Tied with learning to learn, I am searching for ways to create independent thinkers.......my definition of which is exploring and self rewarding without me being the que or the reward giver (at least not every time).  In addition, I've got name recognition, recall, leash walking, manners, bonding, car riding....ALL THE THINGS!!!  :)

The journey continues......as always I'm reminded of my moto......

Seize the Day!!!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Life

In November, I fantasizes about blogging every few days.......documenting the birth and growing up of my Sis litter.  I've actually spent the past year planning this event.  Thinking of the qualities I love about Sis and how I would want to improve her.  Looking at males....how they work, what might compliment Sis, and what potential males have produced in their offspring.  I did all the genetic testing I knew I needed on both Sis and her potential husband and I had a peek at Sis' hips.  In October, the male of choice, Rob, came to me and spent a few weeks at Camp Rocking Dog......knitting and watching Game of Thrones with me...I think he enjoyed his spa stay.  With a bit of encouragement, I got Sis bred...and off Rob went...back to the Wyoming Ranch where he is the get-er-done dog.

I x-rayed Sis to see how many puppies I would be looking for when the big D day arrived.....looked like 7-8....nice sized litter really.....and so the wait began.  As the bets were placed, I picked Christmas Eve and so it was, 12:15 on Christmas eve morning, Sis and I began the process of puppy birthing.  I had a camera in the room and my friend, Monique, stayed up with me to coach me in all things puppies....thankfully.  My friend, Emily came to help but Sis would have none of it...Emily slept on the couch and provided moral support with a side of cheering when that fourth girl was born. At the end of the birth, Sis and I had 9 puppies.....one tiny runt of a pup that I was hoping we could save...and 5 really big pups.....4 girls and 5 boys.  I spent Christmas Eve with Sis and her new little family.




This is where my story goes South.....shortly after all was said and done Sis began to dig, pant and go off food.  I took her in to x-ray her again, checking to see if perhaps I had left a pup behind.  By the time the 9th pup was being born, Sis was out of gas and I had to help.  My vet felt this was normal post birth behavior so we went home and soldiered on.  A few days later, we ended up at the emergency vet and Sis had eclampsia.  She was spending everything she had on feeding that litter to the expense of her calcium.  It took a transfer to Oregon State University and many visits to find the real culprit which was low magnesium.  Once they got her magnesium within normal range, she could utilize her calcium and it was smoother sailing.  With the help of many friends, a team of doctors at OSU, and a bunch of me.....Sis has raised all 9 of her puppies and they look fantastic.  There is a reproduction group on Facebook that was pretty amazing in knowledge, advice and support.

The pups are all on solid food now; I started weaning them early to help take the pressure off Sis.  Today, after a quick top off at the milk bar, Sis gets a shirt on and the playing begins!  She is such a sweet mom and I love how she loves her puppies.  After such a rough start and all that Sis went through....she is finally having some fun with them....all 9!

Amidst all that.....I did not blog.  Thankfully friends took pictures and little videos as there are places that are a little fuzzy for me!  The pups will be six weeks on Saturday......two more weeks and they begin their journeys to their new homes.  They look great and are so social......I'm pretty proud of this litter....and it took a village to get here!  I've decided to keep two puppies.....

Josephine Florence 
Jon Snow
This is life.....all the amazing-ness of life!  I know that sometimes things just happen...and then I get to dig deep and find out what I am made of.  My friends and family really surrounded me with so much support and that made all the nights doable.

Perhaps now the blog can be amazing updates of puppy cuteness......

Time to seize this day!

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Good Stuff


October 2016 has been crazy....I think we've had more rain this month than we had all the previous months.  Just like Game of Thrones....I hear....Winter is Coming...and it's going to be a long one.  Most the tasks I saved for October will have to wait till spring sun now.  I had visions of spraying out more of the blackberries and burning and.....well, that long list of things to do.  Instead I hand hack the darn blackberries when I have time...and I look at the poison hemlock sprouting with the warm rain, all the while making a plan B.  I'll hand pull the bigger plants and then spray the heck out of the blankets that are trying to grow.  I wonder how many years I'll have to be vigilant to get that stuff gone?


I treated my bees for mites mid August.  I felt like I was behind schedule...the bee keepers in the know say we are a whole month ahead of schedule.  I was a few days late pulling my treatment because of the darn yellow jackets!  I talked a friend into coming out and lifting the honey/bee filled boxes so I could quickly get in and get it done.  This is the first time I've been in my bees since mid August and I was so surprised and happy.  My one smaller hive, that I split from my big honey producing hive, looks awesome!  My big hive that I bought in as a NUC looks amazing.....it has two deep boxes and a honey super that I contemplated pulling. But there were 4 frames of honey all capped and ready for winter bee meals...so I left it.  Then there was my Honey Sign hive.....the big established top bar hive a friend gave me. That hive swarmed, then I moved them into their new tidy boxes. Somehow they got into a pesticide and mid July I was down to three frames (maybe).  They are my meanest bees....very aggressive during the August dearth....and they tried to rob honey from my other hives.  As far as being a new bee keeper is concerned....there has not been much I've loved about these bees.....until now.  Going from three small frames of bees in late June.....to boxes of thick capped honey comb...well, these girls are amazing!

I also got excepted into the Oregon State bee mentorship program. I am so looking forward to learning more so I don't always feel like I am chasing my tail!


Then, of course, there is the dog work!  My bottom field is coming together nicely.  The people who lease it for grass seed are about the nicest people I know.  They let me work my dogs and graze the sheep but also don't mind my plans for improvement.  I think I have gotten all the blackberry sprayed out of the filed...and they disced my corner 8 acres, smooth enough that I hope to be able to work dogs down there in the spring after I get called off the main field.  I planted clover knowing the sheep will love that as well as the bees....now my fingers are crossed that it does not all wash away.

Life continues in the order Mother Nature rules.  I think the challenge is finding some order in the chaos of rain, yellow jackets, pink eye, hemlock and all the things that get that are thorn at me.  Every day I learn something new and interesting.  I had a sheep die a few days back and I drug her down to the bone pile under the big tree at the furthest end of my field.  I put up a game camera but have not seen anything....last night the coyotes were singing and backing down there....time to get the camera back up and sneak a peak.  Fall and weather means I'm seeing tracks in the barn....perhaps a raccoon or skunk is planning on winter in there. And big buck tracks in the front. The game camera is going to be busy capture all I miss in the darkness of night.

Yep, all this is the GOOD stuff.

Seize the day!


Friday, September 23, 2016

Seasons and Friends

I walked into the local knit shop, pants covered in blood and birthing fluid, hair in a messy pony tail, shirt smelling of all things lambing.  I wanted to slink in, grab the cream wool I needed to continue my hat knitting, and run back out to the car unnoticed.  I wondered in the back of my head if I would receive any help....I looked like a homeless bag lady and smelled much worse!  The lady behind the cash register seemed not to notice....wait, she must have because she asked me what I had been up to that day.  I told her I was helping a friend lamb and to please forgive my appearance...next time I would come in properly dressed and coiffured...well, okay, at least tidy and smelling clean!  Of course, lambing led to my own sheep and wool and spinning and yarn and....a field trip to Rocking Dog Ranch.

The lady behind the counter turned out to be Marie Greene, a knitwear designer here in the Pacific Northwest and owner of Olive Knits.  She has been knitting since she was a little girl.....and her designs are amazing!  I think we might be soul sisters really.....her heart belongs on a farm.  She did indeed come out for a visit and took the tour of this amazing place I call home.  When she saw my little apiary, she told me she's always wanted to work with bees.  That comment led to her coming to help harvest honey....and a friendship that was starting with the love of land and wool was sealed in propolis and beeswax.  She's stuck with me now.

She blogged about her visit here......Olive Knits: This is Not Yarn

Today, I received a little Truthbomb...it said, "Gratitude attracts more reasons to be grateful."  Isn't that the truth?  I'm aways a little amazed at how new friends come into my life when I least expect them.  To be honest, the decrease in my trialing has left me a little lonely.  Being home more means I am not spending as much time with my trialing friends and, of course, they continue to travel and experience the trial life on the road.  My good friends take me along vicariously through stories shared, runs watched, dogs, sheep and views.....thank God for cell phones, texting and Facebook messenger!  This summer has been filled with the challenge of this new life.......THIS is what I have been dreaming of for years!  Then BAM...in the moments of loneliness....I find new soul sister friends who grab hold of my dream, showing me with new eyes how freaking amazing that dream is!  The journey becomes a little sweeter.

Now fall officially here.....bringing with it a sense of digging deep to get all the "things" done before winter arrives.  The Farmer's Almanac says it is going to be a doozie of a winter......and perhaps arriving a little early.  I've got farming happening in the bottom pasture; the corner 8 acres that were let go to wetness have been tilled and I'm putting clover in as soon as I know what the tractor man is doing with that disc he left behind.  A big huge land improvement plan is in place and now I wait on my farmer friends.  The whole land affair seems a little chaotic from the outside...but for me, it brings such a sense of....I don't know exactly how to explain it.....I just know this place is amazing and it is going to be so beautiful as I soldier on.

Seasons and friends.....I'm embracing both!!!

Seize the Day

Friday, July 15, 2016

Time....

Relationships take time....friends, lovers, grandchildren, dogs.  In my heart, I've known this...although there were times when I did not listen; times where I jumped into a relationship without going through the steps of developing and learning and listening...all those tiny steps that make for strength, deepness and trusting.  I'm challenging myself to take time.....all the time it needs to nurture all that I am longing for in life.



I'm working a new-to-me little dog that has been here for three weeks.  She is all trained up and shiny in the right hands.  But for me, I have my own way of doing things; my own way of communicating......and she does not understand me, at least not at this point.  In three weeks, we have done a lot.....real work pushing to sort lambs for shipping, small field work to develop understanding and trust, and a little big field work.  Most days, in the familiar, she is coming along with me.

That old phrase "it takes a year to partner up with a dog" is such a great reminder when things go...well, really wrong!  At a recent trial, I thought perhaps...with all our "coming along" I could exhaust a little with her.  And with that....pretty much everything that could go wrong on an exhaust did.....well, we did not run sheep into the fence but we did everything else really wrong.  It was a good day for me to practice all the things a good developing relationship needs to continue to be deeper and filled with trust and understanding.  I went and helped her.......immediately..... I got what I could while whisking the sheep off the field..... then, we stopped.

This relationship needs more time!  We need to chat on the phone a little, go to lunch, laugh, share experiences, watch a few movies.....all the little things that happen as a friendship begins.  I can't expect her to go from "not knowing me" to " best friend" without the time and miles.  This dog brings such perspective and I'm grateful for the reminder!!

I'm working on three things...all of which I wrote on my hand at the recent trial.  I wrote it in ink on the back side of my hand so when I looked down I would see the words and remember:

CALM
QUIET
FAIR

Bella loves it when I run with those three qualities.  Our relationship has the time behind it, plus the miles...and when I am really calm, and very quiet, and honestly fair....she shines.  I stumbled a few times while I ran her this weekend...but, with my eyes wide open....she told me when I was off.  For me, that is exactly how relationships, the good ones anyway, work.  The give and take in communication, the adjustments made based on the feedback, that miraculous dance that occurs when the partnership is in sync.....yep, this is why I go back for more.

In talking with a friend about all the above, I came to the conclusion, yet again....changing myself, growing myself, developing myself is my highest calling.  I mean really, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, right?  I love it when my dogs give me their all......I owe it to them to keep to my task of giving them my all right back...calm, quiet, and fair.  And when "it" goes to crap...because there will be days it will.....the relationship will be the calm in the storm.....if the time was invested.

These are the things I need to remember......

Seize the Day!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Addiction

I journal....no surprise that I write out all my inner most over thinking.  Writing helps me sort me.....and I do go back and read what I have written.  They say the definition to insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result....so I read myself to see what insanity I have going on.  I could do a secret true confession here and tell you I am addicted to sugar.....yep.  But really my epiphany from reading myself is...I am addicted to STRIVING.

I wondered if my addiction is unique to me...or if it is a human nature issue....that striving for more/better/change; cleaner flanks, bigger outruns, more sheep.......the list goes on and on for the things I fall into striving for.  Perhaps I strive to keep myself from falling into "settling" which is a huge fear of mine.  Not giving my all and falling short to then feel the disappointment and excuse turning into "well that was the best I could do" knowing that I gave only half a heart.

If one edge of the knife is "settling" is the other "always striving?"  The idea really smacked me after I ran my half marathon last year......it took me a good year to train and fundraise. The whole trip was magical and the run itself was a dream come true experience. But after the race......there was this huge hole in me......I'd achieved my goal and then....now what?  A faster half marathon, a longer race, a race in Europe...all the possibilities and yet that feeling of "that was it?"

Having a bit of a critical nature, being a bit of a perfectionist...well those two traits really hold hands to create a purpose of never ending striving.  I look around and see that striving might be a human "issue" really.  All those striving for more...better dogs, bigger land, thinner bodies, more money.  Of course when you mix in some comparison with the striving...well, holy hell, Batman!

I'm off to a sheepdog trail this coming weekend.......I've trained a bit and worked a lot more.  We shipped lambs on Thursday and Sis got some hard pen work mixed with learning to work with me on a quad.  I love the days of work.....with or without the dogs.  I'll head to the trial; the little test to see what I have in my relationships with my girls...how far I've come with the work in me and my fairness and partnership.  And somehow, I hope to find the tip of my knife; that little place between 'settling' and 'striving'......that place where I know....life is good!

seize the day

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Beat Stress"

I just opened an email....the tag line was "Beat Stress".  It was a woo woo advert for a meditation program that touts, "Imagine achieving instant results -- LESS STRESS, more happiness, greater focus, improved creativity...immediately."  WOW!!!  IMMEDIATE results...all without effort.  As I read the ad...I thought "damn, too bad it wasn't weight removal!".  Right?

I thought about that ad all day long today....so much of what is wrong in me has to do with wanting results RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE!  Those 10+ pounds....I put on over months...yep I sure would like them gone NOW!  The zen of meditation that takes a life time to attain....sure would love that in less than 12 minutes a day with a miraculous audio program.  Or how about a "trained to open dog".....yes sirree...that can be done in a month.  

What if.....bear with me on this one....what if I took the time to enjoy the journey.  What if, I enjoy the food I eat and the runs of the day.....and instead of wanting anything other than what I have this very moment....I just am!  What if I take my time and allow my dog the privilege of sorting her outrun by providing opportunities to have big field gathers as well as set sheep for her. What if I take my time and enjoy her unfolding...knowing that any step of the way, I can be there to help her and  teach her; trusting myself to know when to do just that.  What if i don't make a big deal out of what happened yesterday....knowing today is a new day and it will never be yesterday again! What if, I took time to mediate instead of the time on social media?  

Perhaps....just perhaps....I can embrace what is and allow what will be....taking the time to do so.  And perhaps I will stop looking for short cuts or magic bullets!  

Yep, it's a good day to make extraordinary!  

Seize the day.