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Posts posted by NorthfieldNick

  1. My young dog's first exposure to sheep was at about 6 months. He was more interested in the dog holding the sheep. At about 10 months, the lightbulb went on. He was formally started at 14 months, and at 3 yrs is still maturing.


    Pups can be exposed to sheep at any age, provided a safe environment, safe sheep, and a knowledgeable handler. Whether a pup can handle the pressure of actual training will vary. My Hoot wasn't mentally ready for anything besides basic redirecting (no verbal commands) until he was almost a year old, but he was very slow to mature in all ways.


    Good luck, have fun, and remember that low/no interest now doesn't necessarily mean your dog won't ever show interest. (a dog running local trials here was passed on by a top handler for no interest. Dog turned on at 3 yrs old!)

  2. Watch out for them in the rain because they're not great about taking shelter. Adult turkeys are pretty hardy- mine happily wandered around in the snow- but young ones need some help :) Luckily, the heritage breeds are far smarter than the Broad Breasted varieties. Turkeys can & will fly, and they like to roost up high. One year, mine slept in an old fir tree... Had to put them up in a kennel at night when butchering tine came around. Also, turkey turds are huge and have a way of ending up on your porch, so if your turkletts are free-roaming now, you might want to think about a pen later.


    I love turkeys. I miss not having them this year. The Reds are gorgeous when they grow up. (And tasty, if yours turn out to be butt heads. I've only ever had one turkey out of probably 200 that was aggressive to people.)

  3. Paula, my friends have a hen named Kevin :) After the giant bird in "Up", which, if you have not seen, you should. It's hilarious.


    This is the first year in quite a while that I don't have turkeys. I love them- so silly & really not bright. They make all sorts of cool noises. Beware that of they're both toms, they may get aggressive towards each other. BR will breed & set naturally, so if you have a pair, you might get more turkeys. Turkey eggs are huge. I don't care for their taste, but I have a friend who eats them.


    Working turkeys with dogs is fun. You have to dog-break them. Every. Single. Time!

  4. Kris, I probably shouldn't tell you this, but I have 17 days left as one of those "under 30" handlers being discussed in another thread...


    Also, Kristen, some of my best ewes have been NCC x Katahdin. Useless wool, but they raise awesome lambs! We called them "Lopez Mules." I've only got one left, and she's old, but I have a bunch of those ewe's 3/4 NCC daughters.

  5. Both of my full-time working dogs (stock work. I raise sheep) would never even THINK of nipping a person's heels. Stock and people are not the same, the dogs are smart enough to know the difference. My older dog came preprogrammed to love everybody, especially kids. My young dog needed some training to learn acceptable behavior around kids & non-dog people. Just as "herding" other dogs, cats, etc should never be tolerated, neither should "herding" or nipping people.


    I want to steal your pup... I have a thing for red dogs with pointy ears :)

  6. Smaller seep are harder to handle than mid-size sheep. Farther to bend down when shearing, doing feet, etc. I'm not big- 5'4", 135 Lbs- and I have an easier time with my NCC ewes (160-180 Lbs) than I do with the Icelandic cross ewes (100-120 lbs). My Cotswolds (ewes 180-210 lbs, my big ram 300+ lbs- yes, weighed on a livestock scale) were the easiest sheep I've ever dealt with. Think draft horses- gentle giants.


    I don't have much experience with Shetlands, but the few I "worked" were not fun. Escape artists, too. The Icelandics, while independent thinkers, stick with the flock & work just fine. Of course, everyone says NCC are light & crazy, and mine are very well-mannered & not at all prone to craziness.


    Talk to Tea. Her flock is a mix of mostly primitive breeds that should be hell on a dog, but they're anything but. They get worked every single day, which I'm sure helps.


    For training a young dog, get some older dog-broke sheep. My friend's Dorpers are about the heaviest sheep I've ever worked. Romneys & Coopworths were bred to be easy sheep. I started my young dog on old Coop ewes.

  7. I've tented both as a handler and a spectator. Check with the trial host, but generally offering to help out at the trial is a good way to get an "okay" (and a good way to meet people.)


    I have a confession: at Lacamas two years ago, my snarly dog got away from me when I got distracted. He disappeared, wouldn't come when called, etc. I found him rather comfortably hanging out with one Mr Patrick Shannahan. I thought very hard about just leaving Hoot there & asking for him back next year...

  8. My tent has been peed on enough at trials that I'm thinking of surrounding my camp with a piece of (not-hot) Electronet.


    As an owner of a dog who gets in other dog's faces, then snarls at them for being in his space, I resort to either a leash or a crate in the truck for the little ass.


    Elizabeth, I imagine we've been at the same trial more than once & probably have a similar list of repeat offenders...


    Kristi, is the duct tape for devorating the HKSS, or to fix the "Alta- Pete"? :) For the record, it is very difficult to lose a pink stock stick in the pasture. Which is why I have one.

  9. Listen carefully to the judge when a MC is involved! I got DQ'ed on a very nice run because I didn't follow directions & did the cross wrong. Judge wanted ALL the sheep to go through the correct first direction before you attempted the other side. I got two through, one turned. Put sheep through the other way, got a "Thank you!" and lost a spot in the placings (and oe of the cool prizes this s known for).


    The cross took the place of a shed in this trial. The flock used is notoriously impossible to shed. So much so that it's a waste of time to even include one in the course. (This was a trial associated with a fair, on a small field.)

  10. I might get blasted for this, but most 4H sheep aren't great choices for production or a small flock. They're often "club lamb" Suffolks selected to win in the ring & need a LOT of feed. Think AKC vs working dogs. It's not always the case (such as in our dinky county fair where a grass-fed Texel cross cleaned up), but generally speaking, unless you want a large grain bill, stay away from club lambs as breeding stock or a low-maintenance flock.


    Find someone raising sheep like you want to, and who has sherp you like, and go from there. I'm extraordinarily picky about what genetics make it into my flock. Grass-fed, but on irrigated pasture, might not work on my dry summer pastures, for example. Feed is expensive- it's not worth having sheep who need to have it poured down their throats.

  11. My old Lu never got over the shredding thing. Junk mail was her favorite. She'd tear it to bits & leave a mess all over the floor. I did mange to teach her that she could only shred things that I gave her, I think just by fluke, as Lu was not inclined to be taught things, just picked it up by association. It was easier to sweep up paper bits than try to stop her from shredding. Lu was part Heeler, and definitely had that stubborn streak!

  12. I found a hunk of tooth on the floor this morning, and matched it to the stump in Hoot's mouth. He's broken his incisor next to his right canine clean off at the gum line. I thought perhaps he did it on his kennel in the fireworks, but there's no damage to the kennel. I think he actually cracked the tooth crashing into a fence post on Monday, and it broke off today. He's eating normally fr him, which is infrequently and on his own schedule. Acting normally, doesn't seem to be bothering him at all. Soonest I can get him to the vet is Monday or Tuesday.


    I talked to the vet this morning, and they mentioned extraction. I've had two people (who use the same vet as I do) tell me that their dogs had broken teeth that did not have to come out. Apparently, they sort of heal over. Anyone have any experience with this? I could do without a huge vet bill right now, and having Hoot out of commission will delay a much-needed move for my market lambs.



  13. I had a list of puppy names, and Hoot was Rook for a day. I know another Rook who was a lovely, regal, composed dog. Hoot was (is!) a squarely goofball, and Rook did not fit him. I have this odd thing for owls, and my partner came up with Hoot, aka The Hootenanny. Fits my gangly, goofy, comedian pup perfectly.


    My next pup I'd like to name Tyto. Tyto alba is the Latin name for the Barn Owl, and I think it's a cool word.


    As far as horse names being bad: I knew a youth horse named ShezSoEZShezSleez. That was embarrassing to announce. Also, Bug Zapper bred to Eternal Glo produce Zapped By The Glo Bug.

  14. Just FTR, not all blue dogs have issues. It is a trait that requires two copies of a recessive gene, and it does crop up unexpectedly. I have a blue & white dog. When I bought him, I couldn't figure it out, because in his photos, he looked b & w, but dirty. Granted, he was absolutely not bred for color (although I get asked about breeding to him based on it all the time- impossible as he's castrated). Several members here can attest to the fact that he's a fantastic working dog, running semi-successfully in Open locally, but mostly an everyday farm dog. I wouldn't purchase a dog bred to be blue, but it's also not a disqualifier on a purpose-bred, nice working dog. Nick's sire is a tri, his mother a very black b & w. His paternal grandfather threw one other blue pup.


    ETA: Now that I think about it, I believe there was one other blue pup in Nick's litter of 7. I don't believe either of his parents ever threw another blue pup.

  15. You're way, way away from it, but the best thing I did for my young dog was to send him out to be started. I sent off a dog with stock sense, but no training, and 12 weeks later, had a dog who was able to step up to the lambing plate when my older dog was unexpectedly laid up. Just something to think about.


    In the meantime.... CUTE!!

  16. I direct-market every lamb I raise (120-200 per year), selling custom-cut by the whole or half, to restaurants whole & sometimes cuts, and through a farm stand and farmer's market. We could raise and sell twice as many lambs and not saturate the market. My customers are my best salesmen. They feed their friends, who feed their friends, etc. I have numerous customers who say they or their spouse "don't like lamb" but enjoy mine. I'm all grass-fed, lamb slaughtered right on the farm, cut & wrapped by a skilled crew one at a time. I grind my cull ewes and sell it with full disclosure. I'll even give it away for people to taste. My customers LOVE the ground ewes.


    I market lambs up to about 18 months old. Hot hanging weight of 45-55 lbs.


    The few restaurants I sell to use lamb as it's available, or buy whole lambs to break down themselves. One place buys ground in bulk.


    Marketing lamb to any but the smallest grocery stores isn't usually worth it for an individual small producer. You have to approach marketing differently- lamb, especially grass-fed, is a seasonal product. It needs to be seen as a specialty, like spring asparagus or rhubarb. Chefs, and individuals at home, need help sometimes to learn to cook cuts other than racks, chops, and whole legs. Sometimes that means providing recipes, or even demoing a cooking method. There's a big market for local lamb out there, it just takes a bit more effort to sell than a feed-lot cow.

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