Thursday, March 27, 2008

Farleigh's shave and some random photos

Will the real Farleigh please stand up?

Yep, that's the same dog! At 9 years old, Farleigh had his first shave, thanks to my friend Darci, who's a groomer. In case you're wondering why I had him shaved, you need to know a bit about Farleigh (aka Snarley Farleigh and Freaky Farleigh). Farleigh was a backyard bred dog bought by a family for a father who was dying of cancer. No, he didn't really need a border collie, but his family didn't want to deny him that wish either. When Farleigh was somewhere around a year old, his owner died. The owner's widow didn't really know what to do with Farleigh (then known as King Rae), so she left him out in the yard by himself. After I adopted Farleigh she told me that when she would take him his meals he would "show me how he loves to run and run." What she didn't recognize was that Farleigh had developed an extremely obsessive behavior (running in circles) as a result of boredom and loneliness.

This woman liked to travel to visit family, and consequently, Farleigh spent a lot of time boarding at the vet. His boredom and obsessiveness led to a licking problem as well, and he had to have surgery to remove a presistent lick granuloma on his front "wrist."

Farleigh's owner eventually realized she wasn't a good home for him (actually she probably realized that before the family ever got him, but you know how that goes). At the time, April 1999, I had just two dogs: Indy, a border collie x Australian shepherd whom I had gotten from an all-breed rescue, and Willow, a purebred border collie from Appalachian Mountain Border Collie Rescue. When Farleigh's owner finally decided he needed a new home, her vet, who was also my vet, contacted me and talked me into taking him. Well, actually what I told her was that I would take him home for a weekend and see how he did with my other dogs before making a decision. This was important because Farleigh, in addition to his OCD behaviors, had never been socialized around other dogs and consequently didn't (and still doesn't, really) know how to interact properly with them. Ha! My vet at the time had me pegged for a sucker, and she was right.

I thought that perhaps I would take Farleigh home, rehab him, and place him. But once I got him home and saw the extent of his issues (including fear aggression), I figured he'd be better off with me. And this is where he's been ever since.

So why has he finally gotten a new 'do? It's the obsessive running. I was never able to break him of the habit--not with distraction, redirecting, medications, anything. I finally decided I could live with the running in circles (not constant spinning, which is altogether different), although the barking that sometimes accompanies it is extremely annoying (I can't stand a barking dog!). When Farleigh runs, he gets hot, so he jumps in the kiddie pool, or a stock tank, or anything else that has cooling water. Then he hops out and runs some more. The end result: a wet and muddy dog with matted hair. That in itself maybe wouldn't be a big problem, but Farleigh is also funny about being brushed, and he especially doesn't like anyone trying to remove mats (yay for the unsocialized dogs of the world). So he'd get all matted, and I really think it has to be very uncomfortable for him. Not to mention that he would come in the house and lay down and then when he got up there'd a dog-shaped pile (and I mean pile) of dirt where he'd been.

So I asked Darci if she'd be willing to shave him. She wanted to come up anyway and work her dogs on my sheep, so it worked out that she could bring her grooming supplies and table and Farleigh would get his first buzz cut. Oh, I also told her to bring a muzzle. (Farleigh is automatically muzzled when he goes to the vet or if anyone other than me has to do anything that resembles manipulation of his body--no sense in setting someone up to get bit). And so you see the end result in the bottom photo. I don't normally shave dogs, not even my working dogs who must work in the North Carolina heat and humidty. If I shave anything, at most it would be belly fur so that the large veins on the abdomen and legs could exchange heat more readily, but never the whole dog. So this was first for all of us.

Jimmy hates the "lion's tail" Darci left on Farleigh. We would have left more of his tail feathers, but they were badly matted too. And to take it all off and leave a rat tail would have been far worse in our opinion. So a lion's tail it was! The funniest thing was the rest of my dogs' reaction to Farleigh when he walked up to the front door--the snarling and barking (they didn't recognize him) was rather astounding, although Farleigh didn't seem to notice.

Anyway, I do think he was prettier with a full red coat, and now his lavender looking body doesn't quite match his orangey-red head and tail tip, but I think ultimately he will be more comfortable not feeling the pull of mats and dirt! Now when he runs by I can't help but smile, because that tail looks like one of those orange flags on a whippy pole like you see on the backs of golf carts and similar things. This picture doesn't quite do it justice--you must picture his tail higher, and streaming out behind him as he races by like the wind to get the full humorous effect.

The photo above also illustrates how thin he is. He eats the most of any of my dogs, and yet he stays rail thin thanks to the near-constant running. The rough coat was good camouflage for that, but now the whole world will be able to see just how skinny my dog is!

My sister says I should tell everyone he's a new breed of dog: the Liberty Lavender Dog.

Some photos of the lambs, not the greatest because they were taken at a long distance at dusk. While their mamas graze the winter wheat in the unfenced pasture, they like to play on the cedar fence post logs (and graze as well, when not also partaking of lamb races):

Every lamb deserves a nice, soft bed upon which to rest.

And when all else fails, even overturned feed tubs can be used as resting spots.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Introducing Maia, the Roman Goddess of Spring

I am new to livestock guardian dogs (LGDs), so even little things surprise me. I met Becca yesterday to pick up Maia, a maremma with something of a sad recent past. The surprise to me was that when I walked Maia out into the pasture on a leash, the sheep immediately walked up to us. They didn't come within touching distance, but it was quite clear that they were curious about Maia, and not quite afraid of her. If she turned toward them, they'd move back, but if she looked the other way, they'd inch closer to give her the once over. If I had done the exact same thing with one of my border collies, those sheep would have headed for the back 40!

These photos were taken last night, which is why they are rather dark.

So here's Maia's story. As a youngster she was dropped off at a farm with her sister. They had apparently been unhandled as youngsters and then literally dropped out of cages into the new owner's field where they worked with the Great Pyrenees guard dogs already there. Later, the farmer sold his place and also all the livestock. The problem was that he couldn't catch Maia or her sister. So he told the folks on the neighboring farms that the new owners of his place had livestock and the two maremma would stay there. The thing is that the new owners didn't move in for three months, not to mention they had no livestock. Of course, the former owner was long gone by then. Maia and her sister eventually left the home pasture and began patrolling the perimeters of the neighboring farms, most of which had horses. Several people fed them, but no one handled them, and the dogs were pretty much on their own for six months. The neighboring farms didn't really mind the dogs being there--they had run off the coyotes and a pack of domestic dogs in an area of about a square mile. But at some point the husband of one of the people feeding the dogs called animal control. Animal control tried to get the land owners who were feeding the dogs to give them permission to set traps for them. These kindhearted souls feared what would happen to the dogs once they were captured, so they contacted someone they knew who did rescue work, and a notice about the dogs was posted on a border collie forum I'm a member of.

My friend Becca, who's also on that forum, contacted the folks who were feeding the dogs and made arrangements to go catch them. The capture was a success, and Becca took both dogs back to her place. The more stand-offish of the two is the one she decided to keep and work with. She named her Minerva, and Min is now working along with Becca's two other LGDs.

Maia had been called Gypsy, but when Becca told me she'd named the sister after a Roman goddess (maremmas are an Italian breed), I decided to give Gypsy a goddess name too, and Maia just appealed to me. Maia is the goddess of spring and of rebirth, and I saw this chance to have new homes as treasured working dogs a sort of rebirth for them as well, so I think the name fits. She's on the small side, just 75 pounds, likely the result of poor nutrition and multiple pregnancies in her earlier life. Given how she spent the past six months, she's in remarkably good shape.

Becca kept Maia for a couple of weeks, had her vetted (and spayed) and made sure she was okay with cats and with lambs. I brought her home yesterday. Jimmy is not real thrilled because he doesn't like the fact that the neighboring alpaca farm's two pyrenees bark all night long, but I'm hoping Maia will confine her barking to real threats. She has met Twist and Lark while they worked sheep, and JellyBean came by her tie out and while she acknowledged his presence, she basically ignored him, which is a good thing (I don't mind if she wants to chase stray cats out of the pasture, but she needs to know JellyBean is part of the farm and not to be bothered).

For now, she'll stay on a tie out. She has an appointment with my vet next Monday to have her spay sutures removed and just a general check. After that, I'll try her off the tie out and just with a long line (so I can catch her--although she's friendly enough, unlike her sister, that I don't think catching her will be an issue). The sheep have been spending some time hanging around with her, so I'm hoping the bonding is already in process.

This picture was taken around noon today, when Maia hasn't been here quite 24 hours. The sheep still move away if she moves toward them, but if she's just lying quietly, they'll come lie near her. Wish Maia luck that she makes a place for herself here at Willow's Rest.

The ewes were busy last night

We had something of a disaster last night when Basheer lay down on her newborn lamb and smothered it. Jimmy tried to revive the poor thing (a ewe lamb of ocurse) but it was too late. I wasn't looking forward to going out there this morning and seeing the end result, but bottle in hand (for little Freddy Freeloader aka "little boy") I walked out to the barn. And saw a brown "lump" next to the round pen fence. Apparently Rosie (daughter of Old Girl, and a first timer) had herself a little ewe lamb some time in the early morning hours. The lamb was cold (there was frost on the ground this morning), but otherwise in good shape. It took some time to get her and Rosie up to the jugs (first time mamas are so much fun!). Anyway, as I picked up Rosie's lamb and turned back toward the barn, I saw a tiny little white lamb in the mixing pen. Laura's Hester (so named because she's young--not quite a year--and wasn't meant to be bred, but squeezed through a gate and got herself knocked up by Laura's katahdin ram) had the cutest little ram lamb. She had lambed through the prolapse harness (homemade, following the directions in Ron Parker's The Sheep Book) without any problems. I removed the harness this afternoon after being sure the afterbirth had passed. She's being a great mom, even though she's just a baby herself. Her udder is small, but she's got milk and that little lamb of hers has already proven he's got a good set o' lungs on him.

Here's Rosie's little ewe lamb, still dressed in a sweater to ward of the chill morning:

And here's Hester's little ram lamb:

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yes, the folks and critters at Willow's Rest are still alive and kickin'!

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since my last entry. Work's been crazy and farm chores on top of that have kept me busy. We're up to 23 lambs now, with a few ewes still to go. Some that should be preggers don't look it, so it may be that we have fewer lambs left than we might have.

I spent Saturday clearing out the raised lettuce bed and planting lettuce and spinach (okay, it didn't take all day, but for the life of me I can't remember what I did in the morning--probably just took time feeding all the critters). I also put a partial fence around the flower bed next to the porch steps in an attempt to keep the dogs from tromping through. So far they're still tromping--they get to the fence, then figure out they need to go around and so go around inside the flowerbed instead of on the outside. Grrrrr.... I may have to fence the whole thing after all. I'm waiting to do more planting in that bed until I see if they figure out that cutting through gets them nowhere. They're border collies--they ought to be able to figure it out quickly. Ha!

My new LGD, a maremma named Maia (after the Roman goddess of spring, since coming here is something of a rebirth for Maia) arrived today. I will post her story and pictures tomorrow, along with some photos of Farleigh sporting his new 'do (or lack thereof!).

I've been letting the ewes and lambs graze the winter wheat in the unfenced pasture. The lambs of course have a blast running all over the place, climbing on the cedar logs Jimmy and Josh have cut for fenceposts, and just loving life!

That's all for now--I need to get my beauty sleep! (Especially since we have another karakul ewe who might lamb tonight. I plan to tell Jimmy that this would be a good night for him to fall asleep in his chair in front of the TV and wake up around 2:30 or 3, because then he can do the ewe check while I keep sleeping!).

Good night!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Farewell Si.

My dear sweet old Si is gone. Dr. Alexander this morning said that she thought what was affecting his throat (and his ability to swallow) was indeed a tumor--separate from the lymph node, which the tumor likely had just pushed over. There was really nothing we could do for him, and he was down to slightly more than 5 lbs because of his inability to eat properly. It was time to let him go. Good bye funny boy. You will be greatly missed. But I know you're in a better place, just waiting for the rest of us to join you.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Up to 18 (including Laura's lambs)

We had three more lambs on Monday night!

We had to pull Sesame's little ewe lamb; in fact, neither Mary nor I could actually pull her--we had to get Tony out there to finally get her out. Several hours later, she passed another little ewe lamb, dead.

Here she is (the photo quality isn't great, but those black lambs are hard to photograph well)!

Around 11, we decided to bring Kate in as well, since it seemed like she was looking for a place to lamb. Sometime between midnight and 3 a.m. she presented us with twin ewe lambs. I let them out of the jug today because it's so nice out.

Here's Kate trying to decide if she wants to head out.

And her twins on their first outing.

Here's some updated photos of Old Girl's lamb. His leg has straightened out and although he just wanted to hang out in the jug, I made him go out in the sun today.

Here's Old Girl, Kate, and two of their three lambs.

I also let Hazel and her two girls out. Here they are at two days old.

We're now in a lambing lull, but still have something like ten ewes to go.

On another note, Si goes back to the vet tomorrow morning. I'll update you on his situation after our vet visit.

That's all for now from Willow's Rest!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Comings and goings....

Whoever decided that weekends were a time of rest and relaxation never had a farm I guess. This past weekend was a mix of good and bad. Saturday morning Laura came down and we tagged and banded the latest batch of lambs (four for her and two for me). Laura's friend was planning to come by and see the lambs and work his dog in the round pen, so I used Twist to get the flock up and pull out to katahdin wethers and two karakul ewes, all last year's lambs. We then worked our youngsters in the round pen. It never hurts to go back to the basics on occasion, and the close quarters of a round pen can be a help in correcting or reinforcing certain behaviors. I even worked on shedding with Lark, but the space was a bit too tight to be able to really encourage her to come through fast and flank all the way behind me. Still, she did a good job.

Once Laura's friend arrived and had a lamb viewing (the lambs are very popular here--we have visitors we almost never otherwise see who are coming out of the woodwork for the lambs). He worked his dog in the round pen a couple of times. Then he asked if we wanted to come out to his place and work his calves.

It was cold and very windy and I had been out all day, so I almost declined the invitation because it would have been nice just to go inside and warm up. But I didn't, and I'm very glad I didn't. Twist (my open dog) worked the calves very nicely. She also worked the main cattle herd. Imagine my surprise when I walk out to those cattle and Twist and I find ourselves face-to-face with a very curly Hereford bull! Fortunately he wasn't inclined toward nastiness, so I didn't have to run for my life (I've done that before--NOT fun!). The older cattle were a lot more work. I think it would make sense to break them into smaller groups for dogbreaking just so the dog would stand a chance of getting them all to move in the same direction without constantly having to "put out individual fires."

The calves (500-800#) were a blast! They like to run and buck and were very easy to work with the dogs, even the youngsters, who tended to do some not so brilliant work. I was quite pleased with the way Lark worked them, and Pip was a bit of a star too (making up for his bad behavior in the round pen earlier in the day). Phoebe, on the other hand, who had looked positively brilliant in the round pen earlier in the day, apprarently decided that calves were a great source of fun. Who cares of five or six of them split off the sides? I still have three in front of me, and I'm bringing them at a good clip! Then there were the flyby grips and other "yeeha" behavior. She wasn't awful, but she was clearly out to have a bit of fun!

I was happy enough with Lark that I plan to enter her in an upcoming cattle trial. It will be a full open course, which is a bit much of a drive for her, but cattle don't require perfection of line the way a sheep trial course does, so I think she'll be able to manage.

Lamb Update
Last Wednesday, two of Laura's hair sheep lambed. Both had twins, one ram and one ewe each. The spottie ewe (who I call Spottie just for easy reference) had a little white ram lamb and a gorgeous grey-brown ewe lamb> Jimmy absolutely adores that little ewe lamb. I think he'd steal her from Laura if he could! Latifah had a little red ewe lamb with a white patch on each side and a little red and white ram lamb that is patterned almost exactly like a Boer goat. I'd have to call him Bo I think (short for Boer).

On Thursday, my Sarah had a little black ewe lamb. She's a pretty little thing, but she does sort of blend in with all the other little black karakul lambs out there.

We had a two-day respite, and then yesterday morning Old Girl went into labor. She was probably in labor longer than she should have been, and when the lamb finally presented, it was breech, with hind legs folded, coming out hocks first. The little lamb had a back pastern that was bent the wrong way, and the hock on that leg seemed to have stretched ligaments. Shortly after, Old Girl gave birth to a stillborn ewe lamb. We worked hard to revive her, but I suspect she was long dead before she was born. It's a shame, because I was really hoping for a ewe lamb out of Old Girl as this is the last year she'll be bred (she's 13). The other unfortunate thing was that we had several people visiting to see lambs, so they got an unexpected lesson in the down side of farming and raising livestock--loss of life. We were all so busy trying to revive the ewe lamb (Jimmy went to positively heroic measures) and help the little ram lamb that the visitors were somewhat neglected.

Here's Old Girl:

Back to the little ram lamb. His bum leg made it difficult for him to stand. Add to that the problem that Old Girl has milk only on one side, and we had a job on our hands (we think now it's possible that her hind-leg lameness was an indication of something going on with her udder on that side). I milked some colostrum out of her good side, and we got the lamb to nurse it. Then we spent the rest of yesterday alternating holding him up to her teat to nurse and feeding him "instant" colostrum I had on hand for emergencies. Jimmy was up with him a good part of the night and finally came to me at 4:20 a.m. to say he thought the lamb was a bit cold and should we bring him in? I told him that unless he wanted to raise a bottle lamb it was best if we left him with mama to make do as best he could. Jimmy replied "Well, you'll be up at 6 to check him anyway, right?" Um, sure, I didn't go to bed till midnight because Jimmy decided at the last minute that perhaps the splint we had put on the lamb to help steady the leg was actually interfering with his movement in the straw of the jug, and I had sat down for 10 minutes all weekend (literally), so of course I was going to crawl out of bed in the cold and dark to check that lamb!

I did go feed him at 8 and he was doing fine, despite Jimmy's fear that he was going to freeze to death. As of this morning, he is getting up on his own and moving around a bit better. He's standing normally on the turned-under foot, and if his hock can just get a bit stronger, I think he'll be able to walk normally. We're supplementing him with a bottle, and Jimmy is in charge of helping him nurse off his mama. Poor Old Girl has to be the most patient ewe in the world. She has put up with us poking and prodding her, milking her, pushing her around so we can get her in a good position to help the lamb nurse, bottle feeding the lamb, etc., and still she remains a good attentive mom. That's why she'll get to live out her life right here.

Here's the little fellow, sporting a dog sweater, at about 24 hours old.

When I went to feed the main flock this morning, I noted that Hazel (not wanting to miss a meal apparently) came up from the woods at the back of the pasture. As soon as she was done eating, she left everyone else and went back down to the woods. So I took Twist and headed her off (she decided to try to return to the flock when she saw us coming) and caught her. The nice thing about halter trained sheep is that if you can get a halter on them, you can easily lead them where you want them to go! So I brought her up and put her in the jug next to Old Girl. When I finished putting out hay, I checked her and she was down on her side straining and I thought it a bit odd since there was no evidence that her water had broke on anything. When next I checked her she was back up and just pretty much hanging out. About half an hour later I checked and she was pawing the ground. So I went to check on another ewe who's been hiding in the woods, but she had rejoined the flock. So I peeked back in on Hazel and her water had broken. I went back in the house and rechecked her in about 2o minutes to find two ewe lambs already cleaned of their sacks and standing! I got a couple of towels and helped dry them off since she had her work cut out trying to dry two off at once. She must have just popped them out practically together! One is a little red lamb (very similar in color to a tunis lamb) with a white face. The other is a very dark brown, almost black, but definitely not black when compared to the black lambs. I suspect she'll end up looking like Josias or Chocolate Chip.

So the tragedy of yesterday was somewhat mitigated by the appearance of two gorgeous little karakul ewe lambs today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

An unhappy weekend

This past weekend was not a good one. One of my favorite ewes aborted her lamb, a beautiful little silver ewe. On the way out in to the field to pick up the lamb for burial I found Moses, my four-year-old cat whom I had rescued at 4 weeks of age at a sheepdog trial after his mother had disappeared, dead apparently having been hit by a car. I always try to make sure the cats are in at night, but Moses didn't come when I called him the night before. Perhaps it was because he couldn't. Moses was a real PIA and harrassed the older cats, but this is not how I expected his life to end. I expected I'd have still a good decade or more of his orneriness. Life will certainly not be the same without him. He's buried on the hillside of the as-yet-unfenced pasture in the unoffical pet cemetery. I think this spring I'll plant a redbud there to shade the graves. I've picked out a stone marker for his grave, and Jimmy will carve his name on it before we place it there. Good bye Moses--I didn't know when I saved your life four years ago that you would be with me for such a short time. I won't wish for you to rest in peace, because that just wasn't your style, so instead I hope you're having a grand time stirring up trouble while you wait for the rest of us to join you in the great beyond. I'll miss you.

This is Moses posing on the newel post last summer at my old house.

And JellyBean and Moses hanging out on a dog bed together.

And while I'm talking about my cats, I should tell Si's story. Si was one of my mother's cats. He came from a feral cat population that she was taking care of--one of the kittens born during the period when she was trapping the females and having them spayed. When mom died on New Year's Day 1998, each of us kids took one of her house cats to live with us. I chose Si because he used to make me laugh whenever I went to visit mom. He'd come up to me and start rubbing against my legs. Then he'd look up, his eyes would get big as saucers, and he'd run away as if I were the Devil himself. He never failed to do this any time I went home. Maybe it was a game with him, but at any rate it earned him the name "Simple Simon" from me, and so I brought him home 10 years ago to join my other feline friends.

Recently Si has been ill. It started with him seeming to have difficulty eating. We made a trip to the vet where we discovered a large lump along his esophagus just below his jaw line. I had the vet draw blood and do a needle biopsy. Nothing really showed in any of the tests other than that the lump appeared to be a swollen lymph node. He was put on antibiotics, but a week later he was no better so we went back to the vet and this time I left him there so he could be sedated and have his mouth and upper throat examined. The vet could find no obvious cause for the swollen lymph node (though she could see the inflammation), and while he was sedated, we decided to go ahead and do a punch biopsy to make sure that no cancerous cells had been missed in the original aspiration. He was put on a stronger antibiotic and came back home. A week later the pathology report came back: no cancer. Still the only thing showing was inflammation of the lymph node: idiopathic (of unknown origin) hyperplasia (basically an enlargement). The pathologist did say that this is sometimes seen in cats of Si's age (14) and that it usually resolves on its own. In the meantime my cat is shrinking away to nothing. He weighed 7 pounds at his last vet visit. I feed him numerous times during the day, but the only thing that holds sustained interest for him is canned dog food mixed with water--not exactly packing the protein punch a cat needs. He has finished the second round of antibiotics, and I have removed the stitches from the second biopsy site. He's healed well there, but the lump doesn't seem any smaller. And he's still not eating well. My next plan of action is to get him some Pet-tinic (lixotinic) for cats and see if I can't at least get some vitamins and other nutrients in him on a daily basis. I need to talk to the vet again and see if "usually resolves on its own" means weeks or months.

Si still likes to go outside for an amble on nice days. Generally he goes out the front door and then shortly thereafter appears on the back deck expecting me to know he's there (I can see him from my office window) and let him back in.

I hope we aren't nearing the end for Si. He's too cool of a cat to leave me just yet, so I keep praying he'll get better and start eating again. If you're reading this, perhaps you can say a prayer for Si too.

Roaming Dogs

The other issue I had to deal with this past weekend was roaming dogs. A very long legged husky type dog has been coming around, along with two half-grown pups that look like white german shepherds with tipped ears. The adult has no collar, but the pups do. I mysteriously lost a hen back behind the pasture earlier in the week and the evidence made it clear that a hawk was not the killer. I now wonder if it was these dogs, since my chickens live with my dogs and so wouldn't necessarily think to escape if a dog came upon them.

When I first saw the three dogs, they were in the side pasture (the one not being used for sheep because it has only three strands of high-tensile. I ran out to chase them off, but they weren't exactly afraid of me. Later, I found that they had scared JellyBean up a wild pear tree and I had to take the stepladder out and wrestle through the thorns on the tree to set it up and coax JellyBean down to where I could grab him. They kept coming back down the driveway all day, but my dogs were out in the yard and ran them off each time. Finally they stayed up by the road and walked along the sheep pasture fence, crossing back and forth on the road and nearly being hit several times.

They have been back at least once a day since then. That first day, some folks stopped by looking for the alpaca farm next door and said they lived nearby. I asked if they had seen these dogs or knew who they belonged to. They said the dogs had been chasing their horses.

When I told Jimmy of the dogs, he decided it was time I went for target practice with the rifle and the .22 pistol. There is some sort of black humor in this because Jimmy stood there with a perfectly straight face and told me that if the dogs got in and were chasing the sheep I would need to shoot them. Okay, but did he really think I could shoot at the dogs and miss everything else (i.e., the sheep)? Not to be deterred, we went to Tony and Mary's house on Sunday for target practice. We were steadying the rifle on the back of Jimmy's pickup truck and I mentioned that I doubted I'd be able to hold it steady enough for good aim without the aid of the truck. Jimmy blithely said, "You can rest it on a fence post." To understand the humor in this you'd need to know that Jimmy is 6'5" and I am 5'4". Every fence post on the place is taller than I am! The solution? I can rest the rifle on the woven wire itself. Not nearly as solid, but certainly more appropriate for my height. I'm happy to say that although I haven't target shot in probably a decade, I still had good enough aim "to kill a dog" according to Jimmy. Let's hope I don't have to put that theory to the test.

When we had left for Mary and Tony's, we had a tunis ewe we were a bit suspicious of, and we expected we'd find her with a lamb or two when we got back. But we came home not to a tunis lamb, but to another karakul lamb instead. Another ram lamb, and nearly a carbon copy of the first little masked ram I posted a picture of several days ago. Since Claire looks nothing like Lacey (although they may share some genetics) , and I got two lambs that look nearly identical in their unusual markings, I'm guessing this is a color that Josias will tend to throw.

We're expecting nasty weather to come in tomorrow, and since we've had a break from new lambs today, no doubt some will come in time for the bad stuff. All the current lambs are out in the mixing pens and they've gotten big enough to do the lambie races and other crazy antics. It's so fun just to sit and watch their apparent joy at simply being lambs and being alive!