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ejano

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  1. They can be just as friendly as dogs and I've found that each of mine has a quirky personality all their own. Lamb Chops thinks he's a dog, a risk with a bottle fed lamb nurse-maided by a Border Collie. Daffodil is so sweet and patient when training the dogs. Silver Belle is a little princess and Rose my shy girl. Snowdrop is the acknowledged leader and Tulip is a bit giddy. If, like me, you are interested in fiber, they'll be around for awhile. Excellent care pays off in terms of quality of the wool and longevity. I've had my little flock since May and have had the vet in three times for what I call "wellness visits." He administered the CDT vaccinations. Each visit was $42.oo, including the vaccination. It's helpful to have a vet in if, like me, you're just starting out with a new breed of animal. He helped me assess the condition of the animals - something you can't really learn from a book, gave a passing assessment of the quality of my hay and suggested the amount of grain my sheep really need (we tend to overfeed.) I also had the local NRCS rep come and do a pasture walk with me to assess the quality of my pasture and discuss a management plan. NRCS services are provided at no cost to the landowner. Feed is my biggest cost and one that needs to be budgeted. Two bags of grain a month (11.00 a bag) and now, a bale of hay per day for six sheep. (Edit) My hay comes off the farm - paid my cousin $2.00 a bale to harvest it. Oh, mineral blocks -- they love their mineral block! 2 a month @ 9.00 per ( think). In studying Storey's guide to sheep, I've speculated that the highest costs involve 1) worming and 2) lambing. I therefore am paying strict attention to the former and probably won't breed. If I want another sheep, I'd likely get different wool breed from what I all ready have, though the Shetlands really are nice.
  2. It's a good idea -- I had my back to the barn, an escape route that always has his zealous attention. So, in "collecting" me he may have been guarding the rear as well. I do let he and Brodie circle abreast or just ahead of me when we're headed back to the barn because the sheep will occasionally make a dash for it, and both dogs seem to need to do this for their own comfort level. He's also still lapping me when we work on inside flanks, though not as often. I'm a bit more fleet of foot these days and he's slowing down. He's also starting to pay more attention to where I'm at in his balance work and not just working the sheep for his own joy, which is what I need to accomplish as he's sometimes mistrustful of my requests, fearing the girls will escape. Yesterday was a transitional day to see how he would work out his challenges - me behind him, sending him on short outruns, having him wear/fetch the sheep from different directions. He's learned to send them through the south gate and bring them back through the north gate, so we switched it up and did the reverse. Sheep and dog were both confused. "We don't do this that way," Daffodil, my "puppy" sheep, trotted up to inform me. Robin sorted it all out eventually but it took him 3-4 tries to get it right, mainly I think because he just didn't believe that I wanted to do it that way and the sheep were balky because the north gate is a straight shot back to the barn. Sunny and warmish...we'll try again today!
  3. An interesting experience with Robin today. He's unfortunately learned a pattern which I'm attempting to break. Drive them through the first gate, then down the field to where I've set up pylons that approximate the gate ahead of them from which we will make our forays into the orchard next spring. He took them nicely down the field, through the gates but when I asked him for a "come bye" to bring the sheep back to me, he darted back to me, circled around me neatly in a Come Bye and then headed back to the sheep, going straight into them as they'd drifted toward us. His intention was to push them back through the "gate" (pylons). I quickly laid him down then set up a different "play", sending him around as I walked toward the sheep,then bringing him up behind them, which he did well, but his other behavior is a bit confusing. Does he think because I've mostly been with the sheep and he's circled around me for his flanks, that he must always include me in the flank? His flanks are still weak -- the away side is stronger. I want to work on short outruns with him. How do I set him up for a successful transition where I am not included? Liz
  4. ETA - Elaine, I see you clarified to ask if the dog noticed the camera when they were going about their tasks...I see Robin reacting - he'll spot the camera and get all perky. Brodie stays pretty much the same and Ladybug doesn't really like it. I can't say that Robin "loves" the camera, but he reacts to it -- I think I've trained him into reacting to it because I've been taking pictures of him since he was two days old. I didn't start taking portraits of Brodie until he was about 10 weeks old (we had not started out with the idea of bringing two pups home!) and he too is comfortable with the camera. I'm not sure what their thought processes are - I've never given them treats for posing but I do praise them, so perhaps they're just pleasing me. It's easy to take their pictures. Two words Robin does recognize (again having heard them almost since birth): "He's beautiful!" He'll sit right up and go into his glamor pose when someone says those words. First portrait 10 months old 1.5 years old (Some people think this was taken at a photographer's studio but he's actually sitting on a snowbank on the north side of the old horse barn. Brodie (also on the snowbank) 7 months 1 year old 1.3 years old It's difficult to get Ladybug to look at a camera (unless you're holding a ball.) My Shetlands both show reactions to the camera. I began taking pictures of them both at the same time. From the first time I saw her, Silver Belle was at ease with the camera and Rose avoids it. Interestingly, Silver Belle is far friendlier. Rose is rather flighty. She will eat out of your hand but it's difficult to touch her. Silver Belle will practically climb up on your lap!
  5. Some counties (i.e. Culpeper County, VA) have regulations that prevent reselling land within an allotted period of time.
  6. The local AKC club was downright snooty when I thought I might try agility and brought Robin to be measured. "He's not registered," they said. But they loved his striking red tri-color coat! I don't question the dedication of agility handlers or their devotion to their dogs. But, as has been pointed out several times on this thread, the traits that make a great agility dog all ready exist in the working Border Collie. Years ago we considered buying a Newfoundland pup for our son - it seemed like a good match. He loved the water, was a Red Cross swim assistant instructor, working toward Water Safety instructor - his summer job from the time he was 14 through his second year of college. The idea of training a lifesaving dog was an appealing outgrowth of his current interests. Then, our investigation revealed the breed's monumental health problems: short life span, orthopedic, eye, kidney, cancer - the list goes on. The local SPCA used to show pound puppy videos on the local access cable channel every Saturday morning. My husband spotted our Lucky Girl, a 6 month stray BC mix and an hour later we were at the SPCA, filling out papers. Aside from her annual health checkups, I can't recall a time when Lucky Girl needed vet care for a health problem until her final days - she lived to be nearly 14. To this day, Lucky Girl remains the smartest, cleverest dog we've ever owned (including the three BCs who currently reside with us ) -- the only thing she didn't like to do was, ironically, swim. Our son could never convince her to go into the water. We were the lucky ones to have her in our lives, as we are to have another SPCA adoptee - Ladybug who has been equally healthy - she's 12 now and the only necessary trips to the vet have been for her routine care - annual checkups and shots. Robin and Brodie now over two years old come from working lines and show no inclination to be anything other than healthy, active dogs who have the BC work ethic, interest and ability. It is a joy to see them develop their skills and to participate in working stock. Why would anyone deliberately seek to take a healthy breed into an organization whose culture deliberately encourages the breeding of unsound animals? Follow the money, a wise man once told me... Sometimes you just can't change an organization from within. Liz
  7. ejano

    Please know that you are in my prayers. I was diagnosed with Stage III lung cancer nearly 3 years ago and have been able to mount a full recovery (so far!). A good dog was very important to that process. I wish you all the very best.

  8. We had a Heinz 57 terrier cross - a midsized dog, about 35 pounds - who as he aged began to lick and worry his front paws. We started him on on Rimydil (sp?) and the behavior ceased. If one paw/leg hurts more, I might suspect that an old injury is just making it hurt more i.e. arthritis settling into a stressed joint or that she has somehow injured it.
  9. I am going to carry this with me when we go to the farm today. Robin really needs to have things make sense to him. I haven't quite dared let the sheep out again (DH is rather tired this week!) but we have been working inside the paddock, wearing the sheep in new directions, reinforcing lie down. Today I want to set Robin up for short distance outruns. He's good at picking up the sheep and bringing them out of the poplars at a slow pace, but that doesn't require an outrun as we're walking straight from the gate behind them. I really do wonder if I'm not trusting him enough as his instincts for the sheep are so sharp but with him, there's a very thin line between trust and taking over. He's still bullying the sheep, rushing at them just to see them pick up their heels when we are wearing -- not a good thing. I wonder if it's a combination of boredom with wearing the sheep, immaturity, and my own slow pace. Robin's last formal lesson focused on "take time" (because of his pushy habit) so we continue to work on that aspect. Yesterday we did a "lie down" seemingly about every 30 seconds, but it seemed to finally sink in that we don't behave like that (we'll see today!) He's responsive to my commands but is intensely concerned with pressure and nearly always seeks a position lying down between the sheep and the barn, even though Daffodil would never leave me and where she goes, the others go. He is very good at guarding the gate ways - sending them through one gate, leaving me "in charge" then hustling to the north gateway to prevent them from heading back to the barn, rejoining me on the other side. I never had the chance to tell him to do this -- he's reacting to the pressure. Does it matter that I haven't directed him to do this? He has finally starting to become comfortable enough to lie down at right angles to the barn with the sheep facing south, away from the gates. So, my dilemma is, do I let him react to the pressure, trusting his judgment or insist he do it "my way"? He doesn't seem to react to balance work in the same way Brodie does. He's good at keeping the sheep with me but tends to orbit at lightening speed to do so when I relinquish control for even 10 seconds. I wonder if he's developing a heading problem or simply again reacting to the pressure. Maybe he just likes to orbit in a flat out run. He will put on the brakes and lie down, but not always exactly where I want him. I'm searching for the words to describe the difference, but it seems that Robin isn't so interested in my contributions as he is in the game of keeping the sheep with me. Does that make sense? Maybe I'm being unfair to him because he is doing his job - he just does it so fast that I can't quite keep track of what he's doing and that's when he gets away and starts to orbit. Yesterday I positioned the sheep against the fence with me on the outside and when he started to kick in the afterburners and orbit around them he ran flat into the fence (not physically but as a barrier to prevent him from circling. I was able to catch him and turn him back. We had some small success so hoping this was the right thing to do, I'll try this again today. I also took the sheep out into the middle of the paddock and just kept turning them so that he had to stop and think about which way he was going but most of the time he was still lapping them at supersonic speed and I had to stop him with a lie down. We'll try this again too. If he's most comfortable with them pointing away from the barn, I'll try to keep that angle. He must have been thinking hard as when we left the field, he was really tired, though we hadn't worked any longer than we usually do. Brodie has seemingly grown a foot since his real world experience last weekend. I'm amazed at his progress this fall from a hard-eyed pup who insisted on always heading the sheep to a much more relaxed dog who is now quite comfortable wearing the sheep. His balance work has really improved now that he's gotten over this heading tendency. I can see that he's reading me and reacts to my position but he moves at a slower pace. He also works further out from the sheep and isn't as interested in excitement as he is concerned with them escaping. I want to start outruns again with him... but hesitate to put him back in when he had such a perfect day on Friday. Bad weather will be coming soon and I want him to end the season on a high note. Too many questions, but input is valued! Oh, I wish fall would last forever...snow, snow, stay away! Liz
  10. In watching our pups develop, it was very worthwhile for all the reasons you mention, to not take the boys until 10 weeks. Also, if the OP waits the additional three/four weeks, the holiday craziness will be over. Liz
  11. Good boy Gibbs! (This is something you could to train him to to do.) Liz
  12. The photos are awesome. You could hang a bell on the door and teach him to ring it to ask to be let out. It only took a few days for the boys to catch on but I did introduce it when the boys were older and ready to learn "touch". They were all ready housebroken at that point, but it does help when I'm focused on work and forget it's time to take a break.
  13. Yes, both lie down well - at home. At lessons, it's another thing, because we go infrequently and the excitement level is way high. At home, we've practiced a good deal of wearing both away from and toward the barn then making turns around the pasture. Starting a wee bit of driving and gradually increasing the distance for their outruns as well as the distance I am from them, giving commands. We've made a lot of progress in the past two months. Almost a baby step . We'll keep working in there as well.
  14. Sounds like a good plan -- and I really do think just two or three at first to keep the excitement level down for both animals and humans would work much better! I also have another gate on the back side of the paddock that will dump them out onto the slope leading down into the orchard. It's a slightly more controlled environment there. We'll try again later this week, if DH is up to it.... He's a good sport and I'd not have any of this - dogs or sheep - without him.
  15. This reminds me of the advice the person from whom we got the dogs from..."Trust your dogs...what could happen?" I would have liked the first test to be a bit more controlled...i.e. actually walk the sheep out onto the field with the dog, settle them in, then bring them back. If I were in control from the beginning, Brodie's tendency to head the sheep, which is why he barrels into them, would be checked from the start. They are past the point of lunging into the sheep and have a reasonable down in familiar situations. After that, you're right. I'll never forget the first time I sent Robin after the sheep, which were about half way back to the barn and on the south side of the pasture. He belted straight past them, a straight arrow for the barn and I shouted "Where are you going!" He was just starting his turn to lift the sheep when I shouted and he stopped, looked back at me with a withering look that clearly said, "You idiot." At our last lesson of the season, I was standing at the edge of the pasture, watching the trainer working him. On his first attempt, he collected the sheep and blazed past her, delivering them to my feet. (I left the field.) Brodie really wears the sheep well, nice and quiet without disturbing them in the slightest. Daffodil always immediately heads my way, one of the little Shetlands trailing behind her, the moment she sees the dogs so she is my safety net. Once she starts in, the others wonder what they are missing. It's time to test them all in new situations or they won't grow and neither will I. (Ring came to the farm trained -- Sheppie came from the farm over the hill and learned by osmosis.)
  16. An interesting exercise. I put in my gas mileage (poor) and an Ford SUV dropped into the driveway, which is what I drive! Perhaps the meat consumption is figured in the acreage need to support the person, whether their own or someone else's. There is a "green" option for housing that might be helpful. I require 18 acres, mostly I think because of the amount of beef we eat, but it is pasture raised in our area, so that offsets it a bit, I think. I "have" 45 acres on which to raise things to support me and we try to do a good job at that, at least vegetable and fruits. When I can, I preserve my own vegetables and fruits, mainly because it tastes better and I know what I'm eating. It's not significantly cheaper to do this by the time you amortize the cost of the land, tiller, fencing, time spent, and the cost of preserving the food. I think I broke even on jelly. Raising one's own beef is too big of an investment in time and money, so we buy locally "on the hoof" along with chicken and pork. Oddly, dairy products are probably my biggest consumers of carbon as the source of these is always the grocery store and these products travel quite a distance. Our heat is coal (local anthracite)and wood from the farm, supplemented by fuel oil -- in spite of starting to produce significant natural gas, we've got no access to it and likely won't in the near future. When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents raised nearly every bit of produce, meat, milk, eggs, that we had on the table. Their only purchases were "staples". I do know people who, except for a few significant items (fuel and some food), continue to support themselves mainly on what they grow. It is possible, but nearly a full time occupation. And in the end, especially depending on where you get animal grain and hay, it may well be as big a "footprint" as buying at the grocery. That would be interesting to try to calculate as this program takes into account only the distance food travels, not the investment in growing it. Edit -- a cool place in which to store root vegetables seems almost mandatory for this kind of lifestyle.
  17. I think we should bring a few home with us! We've got an acre fenced in here that needs mowing almost constantly in the summer. The Shetlands don't poop very much . At the farm, I have six sheep on slightly less than an acre but the two Shetlands probably count as one sheep. Up until the end of October, the pasture was holding, but it's been a good year for grass. It's picked clean now. I'm feeding hay and feel lucky to have such a generous supply, given the problems in other parts of the country. The paddock is divided in half and held them back from the far end for a few weeks to give it time to recover. Next spring, I'll frost seed it to enrich the grazing and hopefully keep them off it until mid-July and then use the entire paddock as a night lot and also for days when I'm not at the farm to let them out into the slope and orchard to graze. I hope by then to have electronetting by then so I can put them in different sections around the home place as well...eventually there should be no reason to start a lawn mower - except near the grape vines and flower beds. Liz
  18. Sunday afternoon -- usually warm and sunny for NE PA in November. Our paddock is pretty much picked clean and I've been feeding hay... but there's all this green grass in the near field so we took a deep breath, a bucket of grain and let the sheep out. Whoeee! Thanksgiving feast! They just scattered, fanning out from the gate at a fast clip, snatching at grass like day trippers at a $5.00 buffet. DH was fast on their heels - the wrong way to catch any kind of livestock - he'd forgotten the grain! He wasn't exactly listening to me as I was the one who supposedly got us in this predicament, though I clearly remember suggesting that perhaps we should let only two sheep out, one of which was Lamb Chops on a halter and line, and leave the rest in the paddock as a draw. It was DH who swung the gate wide - but perhaps "This is all your fault!" meant without those $#%^ sheep, he'd be home watching the football game. What fun would that be? In his defense, DH did a pretty good outrun and managed to slow them down at the furthest point from the barn they could get and still be in the field. I had both Brodie and Robin with me and quickly debated...Robin is more dependable in his commands but Brodie is less likely to spook them IF he doesn't bowl straight into them knocking sheep pins every which way for the hell of it... better not chance it as he was fairly twitching with excitement, having seen DH give chase. So, I left Robin to guard a flank to keep them from meandering away in another direction and kept Brodie on a line and walked him far around the sheep and brought him up behind them. Once we were in position, I dropped the line and kept him with me, giving walk up and lie down commands alternately as we headed back to the barn, DH leading the way, somewhat out of breath from from his outrun and subsequent struggle to turn them without a dog. If anyone should ever doubt the usefulness of the Border Collie even on the smallest operation with the tamest of sheep, I wish I had video of how quickly the little woolly beasts fell in line with utmost cooperation, though Snowdrop did kick up her heels a bit in annoyance, which was pretty impressive given her size -- have you ever seen an elephant fly? They meandered into the paddock; DH slammed the gate shut and I quickly busied myself settling the dogs lest DH wish to further discuss the matter of blame for this misadventure - once he got his wind back. My 87 year old mother asked me, tongue in cheek, when we started discussing getting sheep and having them graze down the orchard, "So the dogs will bring the sheep back, right?" Something she and I had done hundreds of times, when I was small -- Ring and Shep, fetching the dairy cows across the same pastures. It seemed easier when I was five, I thought - sitting on my bench underneath the pear tree just outside of the paddock, conveniently out of sight of DH, with Brodie and Robin by my side, both eager to try the whole operation again. This little misadventure did give me some (misplaced?)reason to hope. We let the sheep out to graze. We got them back with the help of the dogs. But I clearly have a ways to go in training. Our paddock is about 400 feet long and 200 feet wide, so the boys have limited opportunity to go wide around the sheep -- something they need to learn how to do. Brodie actually stays out a goodly distance, once he settles in to work -- it's those first few exciting minutes that are challenging. Robin does a good outrun, but gets a little tight on the turns - perhaps with more room, he'd stay back further as well. Winter is settling in, but with spring soon on its heels. I want to be able to send the sheep down into the orchard as soon the winter breaks to give the paddock grass time to recover. How do I improve their outruns and train them to stay further off the sheep, given the limited amount of space I have to work with at present? Liz
  19. Glad I'm not the only one .
  20. Very good points! What is happening here reminds me a bit of the coal rush in West Virginia in the late 19th and early 20th century, which I researched it extensively as background for a novel. Having started this "left turn," I'll send it back again, seconding Mark's suggestion to do extensive research of not only the property, but of the area you'd like to relocate to --research potential major infrastructure projects, the zoning protections in place and the level of community involvement in the government decision making process. Subscribe to the local paper -- what are the hot button issues? Does anyone seem to care? Liz
  21. And they say it will help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil (she says wryly). I'm all for that, but let's help the community impact as well. There are things you can do as a community to reduce the noise if your local planning commission will help. I can't find the resource at the moment, but Penn State has some good suggestions -- one presentation showed a compressor station disguised as a barn and heavily insulated to reduce the noise, plus it looks better on the landscape. (Slide 17 on this presentation...www.blm.gov/bmp/.../WO1_VRM_BMP_Part_4_Slideshow.pp. ) Liz
  22. Aside from the snow (which isn't all that bad, really ), we're under siege up here from the Marcellus Shale natural gas development boom, and the industry is heading north into central NY state just as soon as some environmentalist bumps in the road can be run -- err --smoothed over. In Susquehanna, Bradford and Tioga counties of PA, property sales are stalled as we are the epicenter of the industry at present and it's not pleasant what with gas well construction, pipeline construction and a housing shortage due to an influx of worked for the industry, not to mention a very high volume of very large trucks and wide load equipment constantly on the move on roads and bridges never built for that kind of equipment and the noise of the drilling when a well lands nearby (not that is always a bad thing, but the price we are paying sometimes goes beyond cash redemption.... If you do buy property on either side of the NY-Penn border, it may well have a mineral lease attached that the owner is not going to be willing to part with and depending on what rights the seller assigned, your surface rights may have been affected as well. If you are thinking about West Virginia, I understand the Marcellus shale reaches down through that state as well so my advice would be to do some careful research about the industry in the considered area. There's some big payoffs for some, but overall the community quality of life really suffers. North Carolina and Virginia seem like better choices...maybe go for more land and less house? Two acres isn't very much for what you would like to do... Liz
  23. Tea, so beautiful and funny! And Gloria, yup, that's Robin. Brodie needs a bit more reassurance sometimes that he's doing the right thing. Robin is often a little too sure he's right. . I've been working on this the last few weeks, really studying their personalities and how they are reacting to being worked. Robin is looking for some positive feedback, but he only needs a quick reassurance that he's on the right track and when he's taken off the sheep, I've been careful to be sure that he's satisfied that he's done well. It's made a difference. Liz
  24. It's possible the staff has you pegged as a potential buyer for this pup....he may never go "on sale" Liz
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