Monday, September 8, 2008

Squish, squish, watch that green grass grow!

It's the follow up to splish, splash. We got just two inches of rain from Hanna, but we'll take whatever we can get. That's two inches closer to being out of the rain fall deficit range. The pastures are actually really green for the first time in ages. And that means the sheep have cut back on their hay consumption, which makes my pocketbook thankful. Even though the rain came Friday night and the wee hours of Saturday morning, the ground still squishes when I walk outside, which means that the ground has been saturated, a phenomenon that hasn't happened in probably a year or more. The downside: moisture brings a greater worm load and so now I'm having to deworm regularly, but that's a price worth paying for edible forage!

I was due to take Willow to her first physical therapy/rehab appointment (and holistic heart consult), but last week she managed to overdo it on her good leg and was barely able to even get herself up into a standing position. I feared that she had blown her other ACL, but a trip to the vet on Thursday confirmed a likely overuse strain. So she is on strict rest and Previcox until her next prolo therapy session, which is Wednesday. Previcox is a wonder drug for Willow. She's actually back to bearing some weight on the bad ACL leg as well. But she's not happy being left home when the rest of us take our daily constitutionals. So given that she's on rest, it didn't make sense to try to get therapy started, and we've rescheduled for next month.

The Saturday before last, Robin, Laura, Darci, and Mary came over and we made short work of trimming the hooves of and worming something like 50+ sheep. Robin is the speed trimming queen and put the rest of us to shame. Doing chores like that is always better when you've got good company (and good help) to speed things along. We even had some time for dog work, despite an afternoon shower that left us all a bit bedraggled. Oh, and how could I forget the best part of the day: lunch at the Backyard Grill. We were hungry enough to eat shoe leather by the time we got there, because after trimming hooves and before heading out for lunch, I also enlisted Darci's help in shaving some mats of Maia. Maia was not real happy about the clippers and wouldn't let Darci get her neck at all, but did tolerate the rest of the shaving quite well. It amazes me that a dog who was essentially feral (though doing guarding work) for nearly the first five years of her life tolerates all the experiences I have thrown at her without just losing it--and still coming up to me for petting at feeding time! Now my job is to keep combing her regularly so that I can prevent any new mats from forming (easier said than done, but I'm giving it the old college try!).

That Sunday, Mary and I got together at her place for a repeat of Saturday, only with Mary's sheep. Some of her hair sheep are wild as bucks, and poor Mary has the extensive bruises to prove it. I took Pip and Phoebe along and tied them near where we were working so they could get used to being in close proximity to sheep without having to do something. Pip turned out to be much more laid back about the whole thing, but Phoebe finally settled and quit acting like she was ready to jump out of her skin. Twist performed wth effiency her usual task of holding the sheep so we could catch them, albeit with breaks to go stare at the barn cat Buffy (aka the vampire, er, mouse slayer) hiding among the bales of hay and playing coy.

Labor Day was spent laboring at Shoofly Farm to get ready for the benefit trial on the 20th. Robin brought Kate's flock over and we pushed them through the set out system a few times and ran them in small groups to get them used to it. This flock is largely unworked by dogs, so they were a bit tricky at times, especially when in small groups of three or four. We had a couple who liked to swim (as in they would jump in the pond even if there wasn't an inexperienced dog pushing them in that direction), so Twist and Jet got to put on their versatility hats as water rescue dogs. Twist tickles me when she'll take her flank commands while swimming after swimming sheep--unfortunately it's a little harder to influence a critter who's standing in water that is deep enough to require the dog to swim!

Last week was a busy work week with a lot of articles that needed completing, and this week is shaping up to be no better. Several of us met at Robin's again yesterday to work her sheep through the set out chutes and try to determine what sheep would be best for what level of dog and in what numbers. Robin's sheep are lighter than Kate's, but weren't inclined to swim and were a bit easier to pen. Laura went to the top and held sheep while Robin and I ran through our dogs, and then Laura and I switched places and I set out while Laura, Chuck, and Robin worked dogs. I think we've at least figured out a course, and sheep numbers, that is workable for novice dogs and handlers. We've figured out which sheep need to be pulled out completely, and which ones need to be run separate from their family units.

We also did a little more clean up (the rain had brought down a tree that needed to be cut up and hauled to the burn pile, which is beginning to look more like a towering inferno pile). I think we're pretty much ready for the trial. Laura, Robin, and I plan to go out on the Friday before and do all the last-minute things that need to be done and then just be ready for a fun trial day!

My little Dominique chicks are growing by leaps and bounds. Starting tomorrow I will let them out of their chick tractor to free range. The Rhode Island Reds look like nearly full-grown hens now. It's a bad time of year to hope for eggs, with the days getting shorter and most of my OEG chickens molting, but surely by next spring I'll have lots of good brown eggs from my free-ranging hens!

And I think that pretty much catches me up here. I know this isn't a terribly exciting blog entry, but sometimes life just ain't that exciting!

1 comment:

~~Sittin.n.Spinnin said...

Lower consumtion of dry hay would be great! Wish I could manage it, we are going to plant some orchard type grasses this fall, maybe by next spring we can have some grazing going on. With the price of hay going into the stratosphere, it would definately be preferable. Glad you're seeing green :)