Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oh, Mr. Bean....

(Photos by Dan King)

(Photos by me)
What is it about the fall and winter holidays? I think it was about this time last year that I started having problems with Elvis, and now JellyBean is sick. On Tuesday JellyBean didn't eat breakfast, and as with most of my crew, not eating is generally a sign that something's seriously not right. On Wednesday, he refused breakfast again and felt hot to me, and I knew a trip to the vet was in order. I already had an appointment for Ranger, so I took Mr. Bean along too, wondering if maybe he was having a bout of crystals in his urine (something we had dealt with maybe four or five years ago when I lived in Elizabeth City) or perhaps cystitis.

The vet couldn't find anything remarkable, other than a temperature of 103.7, and suggested that at this point we just treat his symptoms with some antibiotics. His thinking at the time was that sometimes cats who like to hunt will get bitten by their prey and will end up with cellulitis. So I took him home and started him on Clavamox, which he promptly threw up. In fact, he pretty much started drooling the second I got near him with the dropper of medicine and then threw it right back up once I squirted it down. Every time. Not good.

So this morning I took him back to the vet and with still nothing obvious on the physical exam (other than still having a temperature of 103), we ran some bloodwork. Interestingly, after taking his blood, the vet commented that he didn't look jaundiced. So, we get the bloodwork results, and only two things really stand out: high glucose and a very high bilirubin level. The former could be attributed to stress, but the latter indicates a liver problem. And yet the rest of his liver enzymes were well within normal range. His CBC was normal as well. So what to do?

Well, we got him some sub-Q fluids while there, and the vet gave him an injectable antibiotic as well as some anti-nausea meds. I came home with a second injectable antibiotic to give him tomorrow, more anti-nausea meds for tonight and tomorrow, and more fluids for tonight and tomorrow. We're hoping that the combination of fluids and anti-nausea meds will help him gain an appetite, and I can tempt him with whatever he'll eat. If he's not eating by tomorrow, then I guess it's back to the vet on Monday for more tests, possibly ultrasound. I've been exceedingly good about not using any credit cards for the past several years, but it's beginning to look like I'm going to have to go down that road now.

I keep thinking of Elvis at this time last year and on into Christmas. I truly hope this isn't deja vu. Say a prayer for JellyBean.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Twist!

(Photo by Barbara Shumannfang)

(Photo by Michelle Dobbs)

(Photos by me)

Twist is 8 today. It's hard to believe; it seems like just yesterday that I stopped by Kay's on my way home from Richard Rogers' trial in Luray, VA, and fell in love with a 12-hour-old guinea pig with what looked like barber pole stripes going around her.

She's taught me a great deal about working dogs and livestock; and she's been my "right hand man" on the farm. We've had a lot of success on the trial field, and some spectacular failures. But in general, I can count on her to be rock steady anywhere we go.

She can be a bit of a troll, but that's just part of her charm. She's the dog who I'd most want to have if stranded on a desert island, because if there's food to be found, she'll find it! I could say so much more, but the simplest thing to say is that she holds a huge piece of my heart. Happy Birthday Twist, and here's hoping that we can share many more!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Ranger's Fun Weekend

What do puppies do for fun? They tug old fleeces, of course! Robin was down for lesson day Saturday, so Ranger got to visit with Tug and Moon (that's Tug's backside you see passing through the photo), and also with Kelly's Dutch, who is doing the honor of tugging with Ranger.

(Photo by Becca Shouse)

Ranger also got to visit with his buddy Barbara. He's got a goofy look on his face either because he loves Barbara or because he's quite proud of himself for having just worked sheep in the round pen--or both!

Ranger and Tug moved their fleecy activities into the dogloo. Those are some happy faces!

And Ranger Danger showing his stuff, at 16 weeks, in the round pen.

The above photos were taken by Becca using Robin's camera.

I hoped to have some pictures of Simon working as well, but it had gotten late in the day and although Becca valiantly took photos while risking life and limb sitting out in the pasture, alas it was too dark and none of the photos was salvageable.

I spent a good part of the weekend working dogs, mine and other people's. I can't think of a much better way to spend a weekend.

Today, the karakul and dorset rams and the katahdin and tunis wethers were sent off for Eid al-Adha. The neat thing about the Festival of Sacrifice is that Muslim tradition insures that no one who is impoverished will be left without sacrificial food, so these sheep will be used to help feed the poor.

That leaves me with just GlenGrant. Since I didn't want him to be lonely, I asked Kelly if she could spare a wether to keep GG company until spring. So yesterday, Doughnut came for an extended visit. I was showing GG to Denise and Becca and without really trying hard they convinced me to go ahead and try him on the tunis ewes again. If he's successful, it means I'll be lambing in May, which is later than I like, but I would really like to get some tunis mules on the ground and see how they do. So once the other four sheep were loaded on the trailer, I let GG in with the tunis ewes, who promptly did everything they could to run away from him--this after clearly having been flirting with all the rams from their side of the fence for the past week or so, fickle girls. Poor little Doughnut looks like the odd man out (he'a a little hair sheep), but in another few weeks, GG will be grateful for his company.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I Am an Addict

I'm not much of a shopper. I have no patience for looking through stuff in stores, comparing things, trying on clothes, spending money on jewelry or other similar items. Most of my wardrobe is actually quite old. When I am forced to by clothes, I try to get things that will last. For example, I have a couple of sweatshirts from the American Chemical Society. I left that job in 1997, but those shirts are still going strong. My kind of clothing. But there is one type of store that can make me quite lose my mind and spend time and money as if both were endless: the bookstore.

Pam's birthday was this week and in celebration she wanted to have lunch, go see a matinee of Twilight: New Moon, and then finish off the afternoon with a visit to Cold Stone Creamery. Sounds good. As Laura drove us to lunch I realized we were going to be quite near a Barnes & Noble. I also knew that we were going to get to the theater early to make sure we could get decent seats. My addiction started nagging at me. There's a bookstore nearby and I'm going to need to kill time. I need a book. But alas there really wasn't time to go to the bookstore before the movie. Imagine my surprise when it turned out that Cold Stone Creamery was in the same shopping center as the bookstore. I told my companions that there was no way I could be this close and not go in. Yes, my addiction was speaking loud and clear.

So we took our ice cream and sat in the cafe at the bookstore, where we were serenaded by middle school kids singing Christmas carols. Laura, Pam, and Sandy savored their ice cream. I guess I pretty much inhaled mine. I couldn't waste time eating while in the presence of the siren song of so many books. I asked if they minded if I browsed while they finished eating, knowing they couldn't possibly deny me that.

I read dust jackets, ran my hands over covers, wandered around looking at titles and illustrations. I saw books that are dear old friends, like Paolo Coehlo's The Alchemist, Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which in DVD format sustained me across the country from Sturgis, SD, to Elizabeth City, NC, after the 2005 sheepdog finals, and many others, some of which I'd forgotten about but whose covers brought back memories of lovely reads. And of course I saw books that I wanted to read. Yes, I am an addict, and I have a hard time controlling myself in a bookstore. Today was no exception. I bought books. I have no business spending money on frivolous things right now, but there it is; when it comes to books I can't help myself.

After paying, I went back to find the girls still sitting in the cafe chatting. Their first comment on seeing the bag: "That looks like more than one book." Well, yeah, how do you buy just one? I could have bought many more. "What did you buy?" And Laura's priceless comment: "I hope you bought fluff--lots of fluff." Quite the opposite, I'm afraid. So I pulled out The Music Room, by William Fiennes. It's his memoir of growing up in a castle with an older brother who suffered from severe epilepsy; I don't know what drew me to the book, but it was the first one I picked from a shelf that I knew I had to have. Then I found The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein. Bobbi Washer had recommended this book to me when I saw her at Jan Thompson's trial. I also picked up The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger and South of Broad, by Pat Conroy. Someone asked about Pat Conroy, and I noted that even if they hadn't read his books, they might have seen the movies: The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline, The Prince of Tides, or The Water is Wide.

At the end of this brief discussion, Laura remarked: "Oh no, why did you get that book? His stuff is a recipe for Prozac!" Which comment actually caused all of us to laugh (I hope the children singing didn't think we were laughing at them!). Why did I get Pat Conroy, knowing that his books are generally sad? Because I love his writing. I love his descriptions of the south and southerners and southern life. And yes, I even love the sadness and heartbreak that always seem to be central themes.

My love affair with books started at an early age. One of my best memories is of Jean and I sitting on the hay in the old barn, sun streaming through multipaned windows that reached practically from floor to ceiling, both reading copies of Gulliver's Travels, though mine, a gift from Gran, had one extra story in it. I can still see the dust motes floating on the sun's rays, muted by the dirt on the windowpanes, and the old apple tree outside the window. And I remember the joy that sinking into such stories brought me. Reading more books than I can possibly remember is what made me a good writer and allowed me to pursue that alternative career when my original career dreams had to be set aside.

To this day, and no doubt on into the future, sinking into a good book is my escape from cares, sorrows. I guess it's better than sinking into a bottle or popping pills, and I can always rationalize that I am staving off dementia by keeping my mind working, exploring narrative and language.

Yes, I'm an addict. I'm addicted to books.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Willow Update and Other Stuff

(Photo by Dan King)

Willow had her one-month check up at VSH on Tuesday. Here's what Dr. Kozicki, her oncologist, had to say:

Willow looks great today! Her lesions are flatter and less inflamed and have decreased in size, which is really good news. Her bloodwork is also normal. Willow will need a complete blood count in one week with Dr. Scott. We would like to see her in two weeks for her six week Palladia recheck. If things are continuing to go well at that point we will extend her appointments to every 6-8 weeks.
So it's looking good for Willow at this point. Of course I was cautioned at the beginning of treatment that how she was doing at 6 weeks would not necessarily be predictive of how she will be doing at 6 months, but at least so far it seems there's cause for hope.

For her part, Willow is pretty much her same old self, doing all the stuff she loves to do. Her lesions truly have reduced, and some have even disappeared, though she still has one that's rather ugly looking. But given the way this cancer has behaved, I know that just because it's (partly) gone now doesn't mean it will stay gone. Here's hoping Palladia is a new wonder drug for dogs with mast cell tumors!

Mount Pleasant SDT
There was a lot of good, bad, and ugly at Mt. Pleasant last weekend. The drive was changed from the right hand drive of years past to a left hand drive, and that made a huge difference in the number of dogs who lost sheep to the exhaust on the drive. In fact, I don't think anyone lost sheep to the exhaust on the drive (in ranch and open) this year. Unfortunately, there were quite a few runs that never got started, thanks to the sheep bolting back to the setout. With fences, driveway, barn, and vehicles up there, there was just no way for a dog to catch the sheep and save the run (unless the dog was very fast and would slice its flanks). There didn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to which sets would bolt for the barn. On my two open runs on Sunday, I even tried stopping both dogs short and risked lifting the sheep sideways to try to circumvent the mad dash for the barn, but to no avail. By then the sheep weren't just running for the barn, they were also splitting one and two, so even though Pip looked like he could catch them, once they split, it was all over. Twist lost both her sets to the barn, though on Sunday she tried to catch them all, first covering the two that went to the set out pen, and then turning back for the one who was trying to circle the barn via the driveway (and again losing the first two in the process). I had sent Twist right and Saturday, which meant she was running opposite the pressure to the barn, but I figured she comes in deep enough at the top that it wouldn't matter, but the sheep were able to outrun her.

That said, I did have a few good runs. Pip placed second in open on Saturday with a score of 81. We timed out in the shedding ring and a hole opened just as the timer went off, so I called him through anyway and completed the shed just to help with his confidence since he's relatively new to running in open (his fourth open trial). I had fallen down the outside steps in the rain on Wednesday and wasn't moving very well, so I couldn't really help him much at the shed either. I was proud of him.

Lark did a great job on Saturday in the ranch class, ending with a score of 75 and first place. Phoebe had on her listening ears Saturday as well. Her run was a little less clean than Lark's, but I was pleased with the fact that she seemed less frantic and didn't mess up flanks by reacting before I got the flank out. She placed third with a 66, I think. On Sunday, Lark lost her sheep to the exhaust, one of the few dogs to do so all weekend (now there's something to celebrate!). The problem was the same one as for many of the other dogs--the intense draw to the barn. They pushed way offline to their right, and even though Lark was able to prevent them from going to the barn and brought them down the field offline, here's where her clappiness kills. She'd get to their heads to stop them, but wouldn't turn them back into the field, and each delay caused by me having to tell her to get up just let the sheep push that much further downfield. They finally got behind the hill that masks the exhaust and when sheep came back over the hill, there were just two, so we retired. Phoebe modified her listening ears on Sunday, and although she was still listening, she also decided she needed to push an awful lot more, making for an extremely ragged run. I don't think we hit a single panel, except the occasional sheep here or there by accident (okay, so we were close, but when Phoebe gets that pushy and the sheep are running, it's hard to make panels). We didn't get our pen either. And yet we still placed third. And were overall reserve champions for the weekend (hint: just two ranch dogs managed to get scores both days, so they ended up champion and reserve).

At least the sun came out on Sunday, making for a very picturesque view of yellows and reds on the mountains behind the farm.

A disappointment. All the hype had me believing I'd see a great show, and I dutifully set my alarm for 1:30 a.m. and went outside to view the night sky for about an hour. I saw maybe five meteors, only one of which could have been called spectacular. At least it wasn't freezing cold, but I sure would like to see a show like we had a few years ago when I still lived in Elizabeth City!

There are none! Okay, let me correct that. I've applied to lots of jobs, and I've gotten lots of rejections. The upside: at least I know I wasn't selected, which is better than wondering about the black hole into which most applications seem to disappear. The downside: I still don't have a job. I'm looking harder than ever though.

My Back
My back is a whole lot better. I stopped taking meds earlier this week, and although I still have pain if I do something foolish (setting up a round bale, for instance), I am well on the road to recovery. I'm guessing that the speed with which I have recovered means I didn't do any serious damage, though parts of my back are still extremely sore to the touch. (For those of you who don't know, I did the banana peel thing in the rain on the wet steps out front. My foot went out from under me and I fell backward, hitting my hip and back on the stairs on my way down. It was very painful.)

I've come to the conclusion that my tunis ewes did not get bred by the BFL ram last June. I have no lambs, nor any sign of impending lambs. I don't know what to blame it on, since the ewes are first timers as was the ram. I expect it was already too hot in June for his sperm to be viable, since he obviously bred the ewes (he was wearing a marking harness). I will try again this spring and put him in much earlier (I was late this year because I didn't get the ram till May and he had to be quarantined before going in with the ewes, hence it was June before I got them all together.)

Reading Corner
I don't think I've commented in a while on what I've been reading, probably because most of the books have just been fun/easy reads and mostly limited to what I can get from my local library. So I read Dan Brown's latest, and I rediscovered Rita Mae Brown's foxhunt mysteries (I've read a lot of her stuff, but don't always notice when new books come out). I also read and enjoyed Every Last Cuckoo, by Kate Maloy. Right now I am reading Rita Mae Brown's autobiography, Animal Magnetism, suggested to my by my sister Jean.

And I guess that's it for catching up here at Willow's Rest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Chicken Shows, the Rest of the Story

Well Laura threw down the gauntlet in her blog ( regarding the infamous chicken show, and since I'm sitting at the tire dealership awaiting work on the van, what better time to tell my side of the story?

My friend Heather and I were chatting on Facebook a couple of weeks ago when she mentioned that there was an Old English Game (OEG) bantam show being held in Salisbury. She wondered how far it was from her, and I told her that it was an hour from me, which would make it two hours from her. She decided that was too far for her to go, but since I have OEG bantams, I was curious about the show and decided to find out more about it. If you've ever tried to research chicken shows in the Web, you'll know that information is practicially non-existent. You'd think we were talking about cockfights for all the apparent secrecy surrounding times, locations, etc.

But Kelly lives down that way, so I e-mailed her and asked her if she could find out anything for me, since she is well connected in the area. And while I was at it, I asked her if she wanted to work dogs, since I was going to be in the area anyway. She thought dog working would be a good idea, and at that point, I decided to invite Laura. So you see, while the dog working may have looked like a bribe, it was really an afterthought, with the chicken show taking top billing for my weekend.

The intrepid Laura, always up for a good time, agreed to brave the chicken show in exchange for a chance to work her dogs on different sheep in a different location. So yeah, maybe there was a bit of bribery too.

On the way down, I explained chicken showing to her. They're in cages in rows and you just walk up and down the rows and see what's there. My main purpose for going was to see if there was anything I liked, figuring that I could then track down the owner/breeder and talk turkey, er, chicken, regarding buying some birds at a later date.

Imagine my surprise when we pulled into the fairgrounds to find cages of chickens and other critters lined up outside the arena. This was just a show; it was also a sale! Woohoo! I could see Laura visibly blanche at the idea that we would be strolling through all the outdoor "exhibits," but she gamely followed me up and down rows as I perused the stock for sale. Frankly, the cutest thing there was a crate full of rat terrier puppies, but we looked at the only briefly as I was on a bantam mission. Unfortunately, since I hadn't realized there was going to be a sale, I hadn't brought any of my small, chicken-sized crates with me, and as Laura and I were together, every available crate in the van had a dog in it. Laura's "gigantor" chickens were Jersey Giants, a breed I'd love to own, but realistically I don't have much money and I had absolutely no way to cram them into the van with seven dogs, an X-pen and various and sundry other stuff.

But don't think I was completely deterred. I dragged Laura into the arena so we could look at the show chickens. I was mainly looking for color varieties I don't own and just comparing sizes, since show chickens (like everything that's shown, it seems) are generally larger than the chickens I have at home. I got a good idea of the color variants I'd like to add to my flock and then hauled Laura back outside to do some shopping.

The chickens I really wanted were a pair of spangles (chocolate colored with white spots, sort of like a nonpareil candy), but the owner wasn't there and a neighboring seller told me that he thought all those birds were sold. I inquired about a blue hen from a different seller and was told she cost $25. What? Sorry, but I am not about to pay that for one little hen that, knowing my luck, would immediately be carried off by a Cooper's hawk. So I kept looking. At chicken shows, you're generally not going to be able to buy just a hen or two. Everyone always has extra roosters, and of course no one wants extra roosters. We all have extras hanging around. Most people will sell pairs, but if you're lucky, you can talk someone into selling a trio. And that's what I did. I got a trio of BB Reds. The rooster is a classic red with green/black tail feathers--nothing exotic. But the hens are a lovely grey/red, so I took the rooster to get the hens. And as Kelly pointed out, at least he's new genetics for my flock.

And with the purchase of that trio, the excitement began. Since I didn't have a crate, I asked the seller for a box. We caught the rooster and one hen. When we caught the last hen and he went to place her in the box, she squeezed back out of the top before he could tape it and took flight.

At which point a scream emanated from Laura's throat. I mean, she screamed like a girl. Over a little tiny chicken taking flight. I'm still chuckling over it. Laura claims the chicken flew at her face. Maybe. She also claims that the flight of the hen started up a cacophony of chicken and duck noise, and it's true that the entire area erupted in wild poultry sounds, but I have to wonder if the hen's escape, a la Chicken Run, or Laura's scream was the cause of the screeching and squawking that followed.

Some quick-witted fellow reached out as the hen circled near his truck and caught her in mid-flight and I went to gather her from him. Interestingly, the seller just sort of stood there while all this was going on. Perhaps Laura's scream paralyzed the poor chap.

We got the hen back in the box and the box taped safely up. I figured poor Laura had had enough excitement for one day (little did I know the additional excitement that awaited us in a cut over cornfield), and we headed for the exit. On the way out, I stopped at one more seller to ask about a trio of blues. The guy said he'd give me a deal, only $40. Needless to say, they stayed. Well, I might have been tempted, but really I already had one box of chickens that I was going to have to worry about hanging out while we worked dogs, so I really didn't need any more. There's always next year.

I wonder if Laura will want to go with me?

I'm sure the sheep work was a real let down after the excitement of the chicken show. Kelly had hauled her sheep from home to a cut over cornfield behind the feed store. It took us a few attempts to figure out the best way to work the sheep on the field, given the draw back to the trailer and to the pen with the extra sheep, and--in the case of the sheep called Doughnut--the draw to the pond. But once we worked out the best way to work them, all the young dogs (yep, we took sheep to a strange field and didn't have a single experienced older dog with us in case of emergencies--brilliant, huh?) got a chance and in general it went pretty well. The young dogs did typical young dog stuff--running tight, not covering as well as they might, pushing too hard on the fetch, but once they settled down, we also saw some very nice work.

So while I might not be able to convince Laura to attend a chicken show for the sake of the chickens again in the near future (I heard her on the phone with her mom at one point, and even though I couldn't hear the other side of the conversation, I could tell from Laura's comments that her mother must be just rolling her eyes!), I bet if I lure her with more sheep work, I can slip a show in here or there....

You're a good sport, Laura!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Rx Woes

I’m just doing some catching up and putting down some stuff that’s been on my mind. There’s no particular order to any of this, so just bear with me.

Pharmaceutical Madness
Who would have thought that getting a prescription filled could be so wrought with pitfalls, especially a prescription that is simply being renewed? Yes, you read that right—not a new prescription, just a continued one for a long-term medication because all the refills had run out on the old prescription. This is Phoebe’s fluoxetine (Prozac) prescription. She was getting one capsule a day and my vet told me to double her dose sometime after I refilled the prescription the first time. Doubling the dose meant I went through it twice as fast (duh!), so soon I needed a new prescription. My vet dutifully wrote one out, but horror of horrors, apparently he wrote it using common veterinary pharmaceutical abbreviations, which caused no end of problems at the human pharmacy. Last Wednesday, I tried to fill the Rx at the WalMart in Greensboro where I had filled the original prescription. I was meeting friends for dinner so just planned to drop it off and pick up the meds on my way home. But since I was at WalMart anyway, I decided to grab a few things, so I was still there when I heard my name called over the intercom to please come to the pharmacy. So off I went, only to be told by the girl behind the counter that they couldn’t fill the prescription because they couldn’t read the directions and they couldn’t call the vet’s office because it was after hours. Innocently, I asked “What can’t you read?” The girl held up the paper and pointed the abbreviation SID. I said, “That’s SID. It means ‘once a day.’” “Oh no,” said the girl behind the counter, “QD means once a day.” I tried to politely explain that in veterinary parlance, SID does indeed mean once a day, despite what people pharmacists might think. But the conversation was going nowhere. So I tried a different tack. “This is a renewed prescription,” I said. “Phoebe should be in your computer already with the original prescription information available there. This is the same prescription as before as far as dosing directions are concerned. The only thing that has changed is that we’ve increased the actual dosage amount.” She just looked at me blankly and said, “I’m sorry, but we can’t fill this without talking to the vet’s office.” Whatever. I just asked for the script back so I could try somewhere else. You see, part of the problem is that no WalMart is actually near where I live, so I go there only when I can combine the trip with something else so I can conserve gas. I wasn’t planning to come back up to Greensboro before Phoebe’s current meds ran out. And it’s not as if I have money dripping out of my pockets right now, and gas prices continue to rise.

On Thursday, I tried taking the prescription to my local CVS pharmacy. They told me that yes, fluoxetine is on the list of drugs for which you could get a 90-day supply for $9.99. Not as good as WalMart’s price, but I’d be saving time and miles, so I thought to go ahead. Only then, the girl behind the counter said to me, “Well, I don’t think we can use the prescription program for a dog.” Sigh. WalMart doesn’t care.

Act III: I was planning to go with Laura to Kelly’s in China Grove and work dogs on Saturday and figured I could go by the WalMart in Siler City (whose pharmacy has also filled this prescription before) on my way home. It’s not really on the way, but as I would already be out and driving a good distance, I figured I’d just suck it up and take the detour on the way home. At this point, I knew Phoebe doesn’t actually have enough meds to see her through the weekend, so I called my vet’s office and asked them if they could please call in my prescription to the WalMart in Siler City so I could pick it up Saturday evening. I explained the trouble I was having getting the script filled, and one of the techs said they’d be happy to call it in for me that day. She even said she’d call me back if there were any problems. I never got a call, so assumed everything was good to go (yeah, I know, that’s what I get for assuming).

Well, I’m sure you see where this is going. After dragging the intrepid Laura to a chicken show in Rowan county in the morning (more on that later) and then working wild sheep (I’ll tell the story about the sheep now called Michael Phelps in another post) in a corn field in China Grove all afternoon, we both just wanted to get home—and she had a dinner date with her dad to make. So we exited 85 at Lexington and headed east on 64, a nice leisurely little drive. It seemed to take forever to get from 85 to Asheboro, and then another forever to get from Asheboro to Siler City. All the time, the sun was setting and hopes were fading of getting home and still being able to do chores in some sort of daylight.

At the WalMart pharmacy in Siler City: When I finally get through the line to ask about my prescription—you guessed it—they had no record of any such thing. They even shunted me off to the side (you know, the black hole where you never speak to anyone again) while another pharmacy worker looked for any evidence that a prescription had been called in for me. Finally, in exasperation I pulled out the original prescription, which I still had in my purse (and which I was going to return to my vet at my next appointment, since the script should have been called in at that point). I said to the young man, as kindly as I could, “Here is the actual prescription. Can you fill it?” He goes off to talk to the pharmacist and doesn’t come back in, like, forever, so I meander over to the “drop off” area to see if he, too, has disappeared into a black hole. It turns out he’s in consultation with the pharmacist because they don’t know what SID means! Can I be forgiven if my head started to spin at about this point? Okay, I tried to control any external evidence of a spinning head, and instead I smiled politely and said, “SID is veterinary parlance for once a day. This is an existing prescription that should be on file on your computer. If you’d check it, you’d see the directions there, and you can just copy them.” Instead the pharmacist says to me, “I’ll just put ‘Take as directed.’” Gah! And double Gah!

I guess I should have been counting my lucky stars that they were at least going to fill the damn thing! But I had newly purchased chickens, who had been in the van all day without water or food, and Laura, who needed to meet her dad. So I thanked them for filling it and told them I wouldn’t be waiting (because you just know I wanted to wait another 45 minutes for an Rx that had already taken me to three pharmacies over four days to try to fill). So now I have a dilemma. Phoebe can take a half dose of her meds on Sunday, but I won’t have anything for her on Monday. I have an appointment to take Willow to the vet on Tuesday for bloodwork. I really don’t want to make the drive to Siler City three times in four days, so I plan to call my vet Monday morning and see if they won’t make up their fail on the prescription call-in by letting me bring Willow first thing Monday for the blood draw so I can make just one trip and get everything done. Wish me luck!

I’ll get to the chicken show and dog working later…. Here's a teaser on the chicken show: She screamed like a girl. Just writing those words makes me laugh all over again!

Monday, November 2, 2009


Something odd has happened recently. I've lost my craving for chocolate. Yep, it can be sitting right in front of me and I don't even care. That's not to say I won't eat it if someone offers it to me or I make a conscious decision to grab a piece of leftover Hallowe'en candy, but in the past just knowing the candy was there would have a certain part of my consciousness obsessing over it. Back then (not so very long ago, actually), I would have to put chocolate where I wouldn't think about it, and if it was sitting on the counter or some other equally obvious spot, I couldn't help but think about it--and eat it.

I was discussing this strange phenomenon with Laura on our way to Barbara's yesterday for lunch and a puppy play day.

Me: "I'm kind of freaked out by this. Do you suppose I have a brain tumor or something?"
Laura: " I don't know. Maybe." (Yes, Laura can be counted on for the most comforting answer when it comes to potential medical issues.)
Me: "Seriously, what could cause something like this? You don't just give up cravings like that. And especially not to chocolate. I've seriously craved chocolate for all of my adult life. Something must be wrong."
Laura: "Well, it could be a good thing. If it's a tumor, maybe it's okay as long as it's a small one. Think of how much easier it will be to lose weight now that you no longer crave chocolate. If it grows big and causes other problems, then you should worry."

See, that's what I like about friends like Laura. She found the positive spin to this conundrum.

Puppy play day was loads of fun. And the vegetarian chili and jalpeno cornbread that Dave and Barbara served was delicious. Dessert was chocolate cake with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream. The chocolate cake was wonderful, and I ate my entire serving, but I didn't crave it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Turning Leaves

Fall has always been my favorite time of year--the riot of color, the smell of leaves on the ground or raked into piles, the crispness in the air. Maybe I like fall so much because I've never seen it as a harbinger of winter, but rather as a time of beautiful changes. And speaking of beautiful things, the photo below of Willow was taken at my request by Dan King when I realized that I don't have many good recent photos of her. As the seasons turn and the year's end approaches I've been facing the fact that my dear, sweet Willow is perhaps racing toward her own end. I owe Willow so much in my life. It was she who got me started in sheepdog trialing, and it was she who led me to start raising sheep of my own. She taught me how to teach a dog to trust a human. In her younger years she was an amazing frisbee dog, and she was my jogging and rollerblading partner for years. As time as passed, she has slowed down in some ways, though not in others. She is still queen of the household and the fun police. She still works the chickens on occasion and enjoys watching the younger dogs work the sheep. Her greatest pleasure is to stand in the creek and wrestle with the roots of a tree that overhangs the bank. The only way to entice her from this endeavor is with a strategically aimed pinecone. She has mellowed to the point where I don't have to warn folks at the vet's office to be careful around her, and that's a good thing, since it seems we'll be spending a good deal of time at the vet's in at least the near future.

Her lovely russet points have all gone white, but she's still beautiful to behold.

Tuesday a week ago, I took Willow to the Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Cary, hoping to enroll her in a clinical trial for a new mast cell tumor medicine. Unfortunately, the trial was closed to new dogs the afternoon before our appointment. But there's another new drug available, called Palladia, and it's still in the post-clinical-trial stage of testing, so Willow is now being treated with it. She had her first CBC yesterday, and all looks well, which means so far she's tolerating the treatment. Next week, we'll go back to VSH for a more extensive work up, to also check kidney and liver function. As for her mast cell tumors, they have changed in appearance in the week she's been on the Palladia, but apparently the early changes aren't predictive of her long-term response to treatment. (As an aside, Willow's initial pathology report concluded that hers was a grade II tumor. Additional classification involves looking for cells undergoing mitosis, and there were none. However, Willow's tumor(s) have recurred twice now, which is rather bizarre, given the pathology report. Apparently Willow is one of the rare grade II tumors that acts more like a grade III, even though nothing in the pathological exam of the original tumor would have suggested this to be a possibility.)

The oncologist, Dr. Kozicki, did say that for having a murmur as bad as Willow's, that her heart looked amazingly good. So at this point it doesn't look like her heart failure is going to be what ultimately takes her, unless Palladia really is a wonder drug that can cure the mast cell cancer.

And while we're on the subject of medicine, I had what I thought might be a revelation about Phoebe's seizures. Last month I was five days late dosing the dogs with their ivermectin, and Phoebe was five days late with her seizure. I thought maybe I had my trigger (smoking gun?). This month I didn't give her any ivermectin. We made it to the 26th (a month and a day after the last seizure) and I started to breathe a small sigh of relief. Then on the afternoon of the 26th, I think she had a seizure. I don't know for sure because we were on our walk and the dogs run ahead, but there was something about the way she looked when I caught up to them that said to me that she had indeed suffered a seizure. Since I didn't see it with my own eyes, I will go another month without heartworm preventive and see what happens. After that, I'll discuss with my vet putting her on phenobarbital.

Photo by Dan King
This is Twist at Edgeworth, watching from the exhaust after her run. She reminds me very much of her sire Bud in this picture--it would be very easy to mistake one for the other. Twist didn't have great luck at either the Edgeworth or Lexington trials. On the marked shed at Edgeworth, the two sheep we needed to take were on the front, and I have never actually taken sheep off the front on a shed, so when I called Twist through this time, she turned onto the heads of the back sheep, and even though I got her turned on the correct sheep, the judge didn't call the shed and we timed out while trying to regather them.

Photo by Dan King
Here's Pip at Edgeworth. This was his second open trial and normally I wouldn't have thrown him in so way over his head as this trial, but Kat had injured her foot and couldn't run, so Pip was called off the bench. He pleasantly surprised me by making it all the way to the top (600 yards) the first go round. He got stuck on the set out, but I eventually got him back on his sheep and he brought them down the field. The turn was around a post about 100 yards down the field from the handler's post, and we negotiated that and the drive away, but on the cross drive he started looking hesitant, so I retired him. I've worked hard on his confidence driving and didn't need to blow it here, in his second open trial. On the second go, he took several redirects to get him to the top. He was never in danger of crossing over, but just seemed a little confused, even though he had just run up that same field the day before. This time around he did a beautiful job, and we even got our shed, but then timed out at the pen. I couldn't have been happier with him.

I was hired to set sheep for Jan Thompson's Watercress SDT in Limestone, TN, last weekend, so I didn't run any dogs. Pip and Twist were my set out dogs, and I must say they did a great job. At 3, Pip still needs to learn to conserve his energy, but it's nice to be able to seamlessly switch off dogs halfway through the day and not have anyone notice any difference in the quality of the set out.

Photo by Dan King

One thing I am blessed with is friends who will help out with Ranger and my other dogs at trials, especially when I'm busy setting sheep. It's tough keeping a puppy entertained sometimes, and so thanks to people like Dan (at Edgeworth below) and Christine Henry (the next two photos) at Watercress for keeping Ranger from going stir crazy. Robin also did some puppy sitting, with Ranger visiting his siblings, and Laura and Dan made sure the rest of my dogs got out for walks while I was setting sheep for two full days in Tennessee.

Photo by Sue Rayburn

Photos by Laurie Schultz

These are just gratuitous shots of Ranger-the-Pig at Edgeworth. We discovered he can swim (by accident) in the Edgeworth pond, though dabbling in the mud or chewing on bottles was really more to his liking. (For comparison, the photos below were taken when Ranger was 10 weeks old, and the photos with Christine, above, were taken at 12 weeks old.)

Photos by Dan King's a good thing I have friends who will take photos of my dogs; otherwise y'all would be out of luck!

Back here on the farm, I have pulled the tunis ewes up and am hoping they are bred. It was pretty warm this spring when I put GlenGrant in with them, so it's possible he didn't get them settled, though he definitely bred them. As they're mostly first timers, there aren't any obvious signs to go by, so I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for some tunis mule lambs to come along soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Time Flies

Wow, I can't believe I haven't managed to post on more than a month. I'll try to catch everyone up without going on forever (famous last words).

At Home

Lark still has a passion for working poultry and loves her new ducks. Sorry there's no pictures of the ducks, but here she is working a set of chicks back in early August.

My OEG hens keep pumping out chicks like this cute little specimen.

In other farm news, the dorset ram Archie has been in with the mule ewes all of September. I picked up three Scotch mules out of West Virginia at the end of August, so my mule flock is now up to seven ewes. I'm hoping for lambs starting the end of January. These will all be market lambs and should be ready to go in time for Easter. In the photo below the Scotch mules are the three on the left, the Clun Forest mules are the two in the middle (facing the camera) and the North Country Cheviot mules are the two on the right. By the way, the Clun I call Nosey Nellie healed completely from her accident with the cattle panel. It took a while, but she's fine now.

Additionally, the tunis ewes I bred to the BFL ram should be due at the end of this month. Their ewe lambs will go into my mule flock, and any ram lambs will be market lambs. I am really looking forward to seeing what my tunis mules look like!


This is a little out of order, but while at a trial in the middle of September, my dogs picked up kennel cough. Not a big deal really, other than the inconvenience. I don't vaccinate against it as a rule (and I've never had a problem in the 15 years I've had dogs), so of course it went through my entire pack. And that leads me to Willow. It hit Willow harder than the others. We automatically put her on antibiotics because of her heart, but still she coughed like a foghorn for nearly two weeks. When the torbutrol the vet gave me last week didn't seem to be helping, I took her in this past Monday for an exam. Dr. Scott was fairly certain the cough was indeed an artifact of the kennel cough and not due to her heart, but since it had been a little over a year since her last chest X-ray, we decided to do another. In the meantime, while Dr. Scott was checking Willow's pulse in various locations, we discovered that her mast cell tumor(s) was back. This time it had that same river delta pattern as before, but whereas before the tumor itself was a ropelike configuration, this time there are actual lumps. Sigh.

The side view radiograph showed no obvious additional enlargement of Willow's heart, and the heart did not appear to be impinging on her trachea, so definitely not contributing to her coughing. The ventral view did, however, show slight enlargement compared to 15 months ago. There still doesn't seem to be any fluid build-up around her heart, but Dr. Scott increased her furosemid dose slightly and suggested that we might add Vetmedin to see if we can reduce any strain on her heart a bit more and hopefully buy her even more time.

We discussed the recurrence of the mast cell tumor so soon after the high-dose prednisone we used just this summer to knock it back. I told Dr. Scott that I really didn't think I wanted to try the prednisone again because (a) it worked only briefly, (b) it made both Willow and me miserable (her more so than me, I'm sure) by seriously compounding her incontinence issues, and (c) the immunosuppressant effects over the long term would leave her susceptible to other illnesses. It turns out that Dr. Scott had just received some literature about a study being done on a potential drug treatment for mast cell tumors in dogs. She contacted the principle investigator, who said that Willow could be a candidate for the study, but they couldn't say for sure until they had given her an initial exam to be sure she didn't have any issues that might cause her death before the end of the study. That exam will cost me up front, but after that, all bloodwork, radiographs, meds, etc., are free. The downside is that this is being done at VSH in Cary, which is a good hour away, but if Willow is accepted, I intend to go ahead and have her participate. Given her heart condition and the mast cell tumor (which most certainly is also affecting her internally) I have to face the fact that she might not have very much longer with me. If before I have to let her go she can help advance knowledge of treatment for mast cell tumors, then I think it's a fair trade. Keep us in your prayers.


The fall trialing season is in full swing, though I haven't actually trialed my own dogs much. In the middle of September, we went to Donald McCaig's Yucatec Farm in Highland County, VA, where I had been hired to set sheep for the trial. I was hoping to have a picture of the trial, but didn't get one downloaded from a friend's website when I should have and now don't know how to find it. The field was a newly opened up area and the set out was 450-500 yards up the field. Debbie Crowder worked the pens, and I set the sheep, keeping a wary eye so as not to slip into any of the numerous groundhog holes at the top end of the field.

The sheep were very lightly dogged polypays and they proved a real challenge for all of us. I pretty much wore Twist out setting for the open class on Saturday. Kat was coming in heat, and I knew folks wouldn't appreciate me using her at the top, so I grabbed Pip out to set for nursery and ranch to give Twist a much-needed break. He did a wonderful job. He's very much like his mother Twist in the ways that are important, but he also isn't quite so wide flanking, which meant we were able to deal with the sets that wanted to bolt downfield much more quickly. This was a case of a young dog stepping up to the plate when asked and doing a masterful job.

For novice-novice and pro-novice, we had to ferry the sheep about 350+ yards down the field to where Donald was holding. I used Pip to do this until we got a third person to break up the ferrying into more manageable pieces. Pip was beginning to tire and his tiredness manifested itself in hesitation while driving over a long distance. This was a problem I worked hard to overcome with him last winter, so I was a bit worried that I had pushed him too far with all the set out work. Once we got an extra person up top to stand midway and ferry sheep, I put Pip up and pulled out Phoebe to drive the sheep from the set out pens to the ferry person midway down the field. Phoebe can be a freight train and she pushes my buttons to be sure, but no sheep challenged her, and she did her job admirably. On Sunday we had sent a lot out and I was talking to Debbie when Donald came on the radio talking about some unknown dog with"one giant ear on top of its head" that was trying to take the sheep. Debbie and I looked at each other and commented something like "What's he talking about now?" Then I looked around for Phoebe, who was nowhere to be seen. I'm a little slow, but it dawned on me that when Phoebe stands both ears up, she looks like she has one giant ear in the middle of her head. Oh no! Phoebe had run out 350 yards and was trying to bring back the sheep we had just sent down there. Fortunately she has a good recall and for once decided to listen....

Who me? (Notice that she's cleverly hiding the fact that she can make one big ear on top of her head.)

Last weekend was the Whistle for a Cure SDT at Robin French's Shoofly Farm in Oxford, NC. This was our second annual WFAC trial, held as a benefit for Joan Stout-Knight's team in the Gail Parkins Memorial Ovarian Cancer Research Walk/Run, to raise money for ovarian cancer research. Joan is a two-year survivor of ovarian cancer, and the trial is our way of doing what we love for someone we love with the ultimate goal of helping find earlier detection and better treatment for ovarian cancer.

Saturday was an open trial, and on Sunday we ran all classes. I had planned to run both Twist and Kat on Saturday, but since my friend Barbara has been taking lessons with Kat, she had planned to run her in P/N on Sunday, leaving me with just one open dog for that day. So, given how well Pip had handled the sheep at Don's trial, I decided to just go ahead and move him up to open as my third dog. We ended up retiring on Saturday as he left the post and went to the exhaust and I had to leave to help him find his sheep (actually, I really just needed to get him headed in the right direction, and he did the rest). Since we had plenty of time, Christine let me go ahead and finish our run unjudged. Once he got his sheep, Pip did a beautiful job with them around the course. It probably would have been a placing run if not for the whole outrun mishap!

Twist, old faithful (I can't believe she'll be 8 at the end of next month), went out and laid down a lovely run. We ended up tied for first with Denise Wall and her nice young dog May, and despite a very mediocre run for a tie breaker, I still managed to hold on to win by one point. I don't knwo why I seem to fall apart with respect to my handling when it comes to run offs, but it's definitely something I need to improve on.

Kat's run was a bit rough, and I'm not sure where we ended up, maybe 6th or 7th. I haven't been working Kat much and it showed, but overall it wasn't too bad.

On Sunday, I set sheep for the first part of open with Kat and then came down to run Twist and Pip. Twist went first and had a winning run going until I had a brain fart and allowed her to flank too far at the cross drive panels, causing a pull through. We were short on time by the time we got to the pen, and I could tell she was running out of steam, so I got the sheep out of the pen and called Twist through on the shed pretty much as soon as we got in the shedding ring, knowing that if we did much fiddling around in there she was going to slow way down on me and make things impossible. Even with the pull through, we were sitting in second behind Peggy Wilkinson and Sis when Pip and I went to the post as the last run of the class.

Pip laid down a beautiful run, but we were a bit slow. On the return leg of the drive we had about a minute and a half to get the sheep to the pen, penned, to the shedding ring, and split. We got the pen, and I pushed the sheep out and toward the shedding ring with just 10-15 seconds to go. As they entered the ring, they walked out in a line and I called Pip through. As he turned on the two sheep I indicated, the judge called "okay" at the same time the timer went off. Talk about a nail biter! The run was good enough for a score of 88 and a tie for first place.

After a lunch break, we had the run off. Peggy ran first and unfortunately ran out of time without getting her shed. Pip went out and laid down a nearly identical run to his first go, though we had a few extra seconds to spare in the shedding ring (not much though) to win the run off. I was mighty proud of Pip as this was his open debut.

Twist ended up overall open champion for the weekend with a first on Saturday and a third on Sunday. My big, goofy boy Pip has his first ever open qualifying points for the national finals.

Pip has a goofy grin here. This pretty much captures his personality to a tee. I think maybe Pip will end up doing his mama proud by the time all is said and done (i.e, when he finally matures).

I ran both Lark and Phoebe in ranch. Neither run was anything to write home about--they haven't been worked and it showed, glaringly. I think they ended up 4th and 5th in the class (or maybe 5th and 6th)--I didn't stick around to look at scores as I needed to head back up top and take over set out duties from Laura so she could come down and run Linc in P/N.

I toyed with the idea of adding Pip as my third dog at Edgeworth, but then decided that it may be expecting too much for him to do a 600-yard outrun in his second open trial, so instead I entered him at Lexington, where he ran well on the nursery course last year.

Of course I haven't forgotten Ranger. He turned 9 weeks old Friday and weighed in last week at a whopping 11.5 pounds. He's growing like a weed and is just way too fluffy. I was feeling the peer pressure from other folks with puppies around here and so spent five minutes yesterday teaching him to sit. I promised Laura a trick this afternoon so I better think something up and go out and teach it before she gets here this afternoon!

He's bold and fearless and gets into lots of stuff he shouldn't. He chases chickens for fun (need to put a stop to that), pesters the snot out of JellyBean, who is being amazingly tolerant, lucky for Ranger's eyes and nose, and is generally a little hell-raiser. Fortunately for me, Lark will play with him some, though I don't think she appreciates being the babysitter as often as I press her into service!

Ranger comes by his love of mud and water naturally. There's a reason his grandma is nicknamed Spottie-the-pig, and he was following in the footsteps of his mom Chris this morning by putting his head underwater all the way up to his ears! Fluffy and piggy--sure to be a very nice, clean combination.

I wish I could say I've found a job, but I haven't. I've been unemployed for nearly six months now and don't even have any good prospects. I'm applying to jobs, but it seems as if my resumes just disappear into a black hole somewhere. I did get a freelance project from my old employer, but the occasional freelance job isn't making a living.

Other than job hunting, I've been doing a lot of reading. Too many books to review here, but I will admit that I got sucked into Dan Brown's latest, The Lost Symbol and it was pretty entertaining. Two others I recently read and enjoyed were The Bride Will Keep Her Name, a cute mystery with a twist, and Home Safe, which was the story of a writer coming to terms with the death of her husband. Sorry I don't have authors for you--they were library books that have already been returned.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Puppies, Puppies, Puppies!

For those of you who don't check Facebook, here are some photos of the pups I took yesterday.

Moon sleeping with her ice water bottle.

Zac, Jr., using his Holee Roller ball as a pillow.

Ranger and ZJ doing the yin and yang thing.

Moon's cute face.

Ranger and ZJ: ZJ says "Stay away from my cat tree!"

Exploring: The stool is favored for crawling under.

Ranger killing the tablecloth that is supposed to be protecting the carpet.

The aftermath of a morning feeding frenzy. Poor Ranger is wearing the food dish, but he didn't seem to mind.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Old Songs

So last week I was pestering everybody I know with Cat Stevens' Moonshadow. I couldn't get it out of my mind, thanks to Robin calling the one puppy Moon, and was singing it everywhere I went and no matter what I was doing. But shortly thereafter, another song from that era wormed its way into my head. Sing it out, but you have to do the Peter, Paul, and Mary version!


Lemon Tree

When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me,
Come here and learn a lesson from the lovely lemon tree.
Dont put your faith in love, my boy, my father said to me,
I fear you'll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree.

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

Beneath the lemon tree one day, my love and I did a lie
A girl so sweet that when she smiled the sun rose in the sky.
We passed that summer lost in love beneath the lemon tree
The music of her laughter hid my father's words from me:

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

One day she left without a word. She took away the sun.
And in the dark she left behind, I knew what she had done.
She'd left me for another; it's a common tale, but true.
A sadder man but wiser now I sing these words to you:

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.

Someone save me from the songs of my childhood! ;-)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Meet the Newest Denizens of Willow's Rest

Because it's not enough of a circus around here, I gathered up my intrepid partner in crime, while also dropping Pip off for a week-long stay at Camp Crazy, and headed to Stokesdale to pick up a few ducks. I'll spare you the details of trying to find our way there--for some reason road signs are nearly non-existent in that part of the state, so we just guessed what roads we needed to turn on, but I'll say that Laura is a most excellent navigator, and even though we saw a good part of the local countryside in the process, we made it to our destination just a few minutes later than planned.

We went on our duck-gathering trip to pick up four ducklings that had hatched out last week. When Jill e-mailed to say she had ducklings if I wanted them, she also said she'd go through her adolescents and give me some of those as well. Because you know, I need ducks. The noise, the mud, the general mess that is ducks. But you gotta love 'em! And I know that Lark will love them. Her own personal ducks. Is she a spoiled dog or what?

So without further ado, meet the latest additions to Willow's Rest Farm.

Did I neglect to mention that Jill (the dog, not the person) also loves ducks? There's no prying Jill away from Duck TV. She literally spent hours with the ducks this afternoon. I had to force her to come back in the house and give the poor ducks a break. Apparently Duck TV is even better than Puppy TV....

Jill watching her ducks, who themselves are wondering why they are surrounded by "coyotes."

Lark: "Back off, Jill, those are my ducks!"

The stars of Duck TV. These are Ancona, Welsh Harlequin, and Indian Runner crosses. The smallest chocolate-colored duck is a runner drake. We're hoping the rest are females.

And in case you're wondering, yes, the dog lot is now a duck lot. It's a nice size for them, so hopefully they won't turn it into a mud pit. Once they are dog broke, it will be Lark's job to take them to the creek in the morning and bring them back to their pen at night. I'm hoping that if they will dabble in the creek on the sheep pasture side, Maia will keep them protected from predators during the day. And if they like the creek, then perhaps they won't trash the pen formerly known as the dog lot.

Jill just can't get enough.

But Lark isn't going to be outdone in the duck-viewing department.

But wait, there's more! The ducklings. These aren't great pictures, because this little pen is under the garage where a heat lamp can be safely used. They're still little enough to need to be kept warm at night, so they'll stay in this pen until they no longer need an artificial heat source. Yes, that's Lark staring at her very own personal baby ducks.

Sorry for the poor focus, but light was low, and this is the best I could do for a close up. Ducklings are some of the cutest babies on the planet. Oh my!

And we're still not done. Jill (the human) happened to mention in her e-mail that she also had wheaten OEG bantams. She said she had considered selling some, but had rethought the idea and was planning to keep them. Well, I managed to talk her out of two hens. I've put them in a little chick tractor, where they will stay for a couple of days until they are better acclimated to their new residence. The real clincher for me begging these hens off Jill is that they are small like mine, and such small OEG bantams are next to impossible to find anymore.

Yes, Lark managed to insinuate herself in just about every picture. She was going crazy trying to figure out which new group of feathered "friends" was the best one!

And of course my own OEG hens are still hatching out chicks. Here's the latest group, hatched a little over a week ago.

The puppies are growing like weeds; I think they all weigh over three pounds now. They're walking much more like actual dogs and less like drunken sailors. They should start playing and acting like real puppies soon. ;-)

If I'm slow to post updates to my blog, at least you'll have an inkling of what might be keeping me busy!