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.)
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.