Lambs & More

The current Covid situation means I’m home full-time for lambing for the first time ever. That’s one of a couple silver linings. There are also many depressing aspects to the stay-at-home quarantine. I try to keep from thinking too much about those. Dwelling on what we can’t control isn’t very good for the soul. Most days I can keep from succumbing. Cloudy, wet, cool days when I can be too much in my head… maybe not so much. We’ve already determined ‘in my head’ is not a good place for me to hang out.

Which is why it’s a good thing I have the dogs and livestock to occupy me even in those moments when I don’t feel up to being occupied.

This little guy was one of a pair born to a first time mom. She’s being really good with his brother but, as sometimes happens with first timers, she didn’t realize they were both hers to raise. I’m calling him Pita, even though he’s really not. He took to the bottle straight away and is doing really well with a minimal amount of fuss.
And even though I don’t often name lambs, though other people have been known to name them for me, this duo were the first to arrive and demanded to be called Salt & Pepper. If any lamb is going to cause problems, it is one of them. They’ve already caused me to put up additional fencing to keep them in the maternity ward.
This is the second year I’ve used Cello, a Barbados ram, and I love not only the personality of the lambs, but the coloring — getting both brown and white Barb marked lambs.

Then we have a bunch of red babies, with or without white, and two solid browns courtesy of our solid brown ewe.

We’re down to just two more ewes left to lamb. Despite the issues that can crop up, lambing is one of my favorite times of the year. Mainly because there is no greater stress reliever than watching a bunch of lambs playing. The next nice day we get, I’m going to plant myself in a chair to just sit and watch their antics. I plan on taking Finn with me so he can learn how to relax a bit around livestock.

Finn gives ‘intensity’ a whole new definition. Let’s see, there are the sheep, of course, the chickens, Rebel Kitten, and, apparently, trimming trees. Something we discovered the day we took the clipper along on our daily walk-about to trim some of the branches hanging in the trail.

Finn was quite obsessed with the whole routine and would happily gather up all the branches, no matter their size.

He also attempted to bite off some of the tiny saplings we were thinning out. I’m not sure he believed Dave was doing it correctly.

I have to say, Finn is a pretty cool dog and I can’t thank Becky enough for giving me this opportunity. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of pushing a young dog as driven and as mentally strong as Finn is. Thankfully I have a friend and mentor whose opinion I value greatly to remind me how young Finn is and how unwise that would be. Finn has shown me what he has to offer, it’s up to me to take the time to develop that potential. Taking time means putting in the time on the groundwork. You can’t build a very good house on a shaky foundation. A lesson you think I would have learned by now.

As far as Jig and Dillon, we haven’t gotten in too much training over the past week, mainly due to a strong, cold wind off the lake. Makes being out in the field just this side of miserable even when the sun is shining. Hopefully Spring settles in soon. If I have to be home 24/7 I’d like to be able to work my dogs, even if I can’t be doing it in the company of the folks I most enjoy.

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Out of Hibernation… Sort Of

Usually around this time of year I’m starting up the blog after the winter hiatus, bombarding you with pictures of lambs cavorting, and laying out my training/trialing plans for the year. Unfortunately, the weather is not cooperating. With any of it. I know other areas of the country are worse off. It’s hard to take solace from that, however, when, as I write this, it’s snowing. Again.

Lounging on the couch is all well and good when we’re under-the-weather,
pun intended, but we’ve had enough downtime.

We do have lambs on the ground, but there is very little cavorting taking place. Except inside, around the feed bunk and the other sheep, and occasionally around the hay bales when the little reprobates sneak out during feeding. Some of the lambs have taken to cozying up to the trough when mom is otherwise occupied, probably because we still have the tank heater in.

I warned Rebel to watch his balance. Just because the tank heater is in,
doesn’t mean the trough is a hot tub.


The chickens, on the other hand, have decided their warm, cozy coop
isn’t near as nice a roosting spot as the bottom barn rail.


Not only do the chickens not roost in their coop, they don’t lay their eggs in the nest boxes. Currently they have a spot behind the bales which makes me glad I’m still somewhat flexible and provides motivation to continue practicing yoga. They’ve also made a few nests on top of the hay, and in a corner behind a feed bin. It wouldn’t be as bad if they all picked the same nest. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. It’s like a never-ending egg hunt. Rather like our never-ending winter and only slightly less annoying.

I wish I would have had my phone on me the day I found Rebel Kitten on one of the bales with an egg nestled between his paws. I’m not certain what he was going to do with it, but he looked a bit put out when I confiscated it.

Speaking of Rebel, he isn’t such a kitten any more and really turned out to be quite a nice cat. I say it like that because that outcome was questionable when he was younger. There were times the only way I could catch him was to put on a thick leather glove and show him my hand. He’d latch on like a tiger on the haunch of its prey, all fangs and claws, and I’d lift him off the ground. Now he only uses his claws when he wants to be on my shoulder, and then its just a gentle request to be hoisted up. The cat loves to be up high.


Rebel doing his impersonation of
Snoopy impersonating a vulture.


On the training and trialing front… not much going on. There were a few days we were able to work, but not with any consistency. I can only hope we get a day or two in before our first trial which just happens to be in Iowa at the end of the month. They’ve been getting more snow than us. I’m thinking I may have to pack snowshoes.

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Photo Friday

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done one of these. Sometimes you just have to spend the day doing something that makes your soul happy. So, I dusted off the camera and headed outside to see what I would find.

The first thing I found was Her Royal Highness who always looks stunning in black & white.

Shortly thereafter, some the girls decided they wanted in on the action.

Chickens always look so fierce.

Even when they decide to perform synchronized wall dancing.

It’s good to have friends.

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Dillon’s Day

Yes, for once, a post about a dog other than Jig. Hard to believe, right? Well, up until now, Dillon hasn’t done much training besides dry foundation work, a few twirls in the round pen, and one time in the small arena. Other than that, he’s just been hanging out, going lots of places, socializing, and learning how to be a good puppy.

He did get to go along  to my friend Diana’s farm last week, where he met cattle for the very first time–on line, of course. Once Jig explained the proper procedures to the heifers, such as, ‘if you put your head down and come toward me, you’re going to get bit’ and ‘when I say move, I mean get to hoofing’, I introduced Dillon to them. He wasn’t the least bit intimidated by their size, and even brought out his big dog growl and held his ground when one forgot Jig’s rule and dropped its head to take a look at him. I have no doubt, if I had let him off that line, he would have been trying to make them move. That day will come, but for now, it’s enough that he gets some up-close-and-personal exposure.

This morning, I found myself needing to move the sheep out of their pasture and into the alleyway. I happened to have Dillon with me, and was feeling adventurous, so… why the heck not? I even videoed it for your… er… entertainment. He circled a few too many times when I was in the wrong place to kick him back, had some episodes of Puppy ADD, but overall, not too shabby for a not-quite-eight-month old with limited training. (The camera work isn’t the best. Hard to operate that, gates, and puppy, all at the same time.)



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It’s That Time of Year

Yup. Now’s the time I bore delight you with far too many numerous adorkable lamb pics. So far we have 4 sets of twins, with ram lambs outnumbering ewes at 5-3. I’m hoping that turns around and we don’t have Year of the Ram. Pretty pleased so far with the size and coloring. The Captain has done well.

Ram lamb #1. Wasn't sure if he would make it, because his mother kept pushing him away. But looks like he's doing fine, even if she does like his sister better.

Ram lamb #1. Wasn’t sure if he would make it, because his mother kept pushing him away. But looks like he’s doing fine, even if she does like his sister better.


Mom, with his sister.

Mom, with his sister. For  awhile the ram lamb had to use his sister as a shield any time he wanted to nurse.


Our second set of twins. The larger one is the ram, the smaller one is the ewe.


The ram lamb making kissy face with one of the yearlings.

The ram lamb making kissy face with one of the yearlings.


Speed's twin boys, grandsons to Mother. Some of you know her story, and how she got her name. Still, she turned out to be an excellent ewe.

Speed’s twin boys, grandsons to Mother. Some of you know Mother’s story, and how she got her name. Still, she turned out to be an excellent ewe.


I just love the expression on this lamb's face. Not sure if this is the ram or the ewe, these two are pretty similarly marked.

I just love the expression on this lamb’s face. Not sure if this is the ram or the ewe, these two are pretty similarly marked.


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Out Like a Lamb…

I go into lambing each year with a mix of anticipation and dread. Lambs, like puppies, are adorable. I can watch their antics for hours. Once they start to discover their legs and each other, they begin hopping about like popcorn and organizing lamb races while the adults eat. Such displays can pull a smile and laugh out of me even on my most frustrating day.

It’s tempered by the complications and unknowns that can arise. Some years are worse than others in that department, but a big part of the reason I chose Katahdins was their ability to pasture lamb with little to no interference from me, and without the need for lambing jugs. Yes, I’ve had to step in from time-to-time and, yes, the occasional ewe will find herself confined for a bit if I think she needs help or her lambs don’t appear as thrifty as I like. Overall, however, they need to be able to handle things because I can’t be there 24/7.

We’re lambing later than usual this year. Normally, I’m about done by now. Yesterday we had our first lambs. A set of nice twins, one ram, one ewe. This is the ewe lamb…


…all legs and a healthy set of lungs anytime mom strays too far.

I’m fairly certain when I get home today there will be others. Several of my ewes are looking quite wide. This is the first group of lambs from Captain Jack, and I’m anxious to see what he produces.

Yesterday, I also decided it was time to let Grady and Dillon have a bit more play time. Dillon’s been a holy terror to poor Rowan. He really needs to expend some energy with someone who can take his brand of rough-housing. He’s finally big enough that I feel safer allowing him and Grady to engage in a more lively manner, and Grady, for all his size, really is a gentle soul.

Grady also thinks the boy might be a bit odd. After all, who fights with a weed?

He does, however, think the boy might be a bit odd. After all, who fights with a weed?



It took Dillon a while to find his courage, and he spent some time stalking Grady before launching the attack.


And Grady 'falls down' so Dillon can have a bit of fun pouncing on him.

Grady crumpled under the vicious assault, and Dillon took advantage of it by pouncing on his fierce foe.

It was a short play session, but it certainly helped get some of the piss and vinegar out of the pup. Now, if only I could convince Jig he’s not for eating…


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Jig’s Journey ~ A Good String of Days

All things considered, this week has been pretty good. The weathermen have consistently gotten it wrong (again), so, instead of three days of rain, we got three pretty decent days with mostly sun. That is, in no way, a complaint, because it meant three consistent days of working Jig. She hasn’t gotten to do anything beyond chores for the last… too long. Even when the weather started to get decent, the ground was boot-sucking soup. It felt good to be able to do something with her other than feed, when the entirety of her job is just to keep the sheep off me and the wheelbarrow.

I expected to see more of ‘Crack Dog’ once we started training again. Although CD thought about making an appearance yesterday, for the most part I still have the thoughtful, respectful dog I had after working with Deb the last time. Even Tuesday, when we moved the rams to the hill between working sessions, Jig was pretty much right on.

You need to understand what a crapshoot having her help with that job used to be. See, Jig loves her some rams, because Jig loves a good fight, and the rams are at least willing to consider giving it to her. Well, they used to be willing. Even our new ram, Captain Jack, figured it might be best just to ignore the girls on the other side of the fence and move along. Especially since I could finally keep Jig behind them, instead of having her consistently looking for their noses. It was a momentous occasion. For me, at least. Not sure Jig saw it the same way.

Yesterday was the highlight of the week in several ways. Not only was it the third nice day in a row, but it started off with the news that we are getting a four-footed addition to the family. A lot of you already saw the announcement on Facebook, but for those who didn’t…

Dillon ~ Rex's Strike of Lightning

Meet Dillon ~ Rex’s Strike of Lightning (pending)

Thank you, Carey and Leslie Rechtzigel. I can’t wait to pick him up this weekend and welcome him to the family. Not sure what Jig will think of him, but I know Grady will adore him, and Row will probably be quite indifferent.

After work, I had Grady sort for me. He’s starting to enjoy the job, and it gives him something to do. He barks. A lot. Those of you who know me, know how annoying I find that. However, in Grady’s case, I make an exception. He’s a big dog, but never had much power, or confidence in the power he did have. When challenged, he’s more likely to turn tail than stand his ground. Barking is how he feels he can get the job done. So, in Grady’s case, I try my best to ignore the noise, albeit, with teeth gritted and the fervent hope that, some day, he won’t feel the need to be so vocal.

In any case, as Jig and I headed out to work, a sedge of cranes flew over. Yes, according to the www, a group of cranes is called a sedge. Bob, if you’re reading this, feel free to correct me if the internet has led me astray. I’m going to guess they were Sandhills??? I’m used to one or two cranes calling out as they circle overhead, but there were at least eleven in tight, occasionally wobbly, formation. I watched them for a while, finding it amazing that, 1) they didn’t collide with one another, and 2) they could fly so achingly slow and still remain airborne.

Anyhow, as icing on the cake of my day, Jig and I ended our training session with this:


That’s a roughly 300′ outrun. For Jig, that’s pretty damn impressive. The sheep were keen on getting to the gate on the far right, but she handled it wonderfully.

More pics and updates on the pup once he arrives.

As always…


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A Passal of Warm Fuzzies

As usual, it’s been a while since my last post. But as I mentioned before, not a whole lot goes on around here during the winter. With spring comes lambing season, although mine began as somewhat of a surprise a couple weeks ago. No one looked even close and I wasn’t expecting lambs until… well, now. It hasn’t been the best. In fact, it goes down in my books as the worst. But, on the bright side… there’s these…

"We can dance if we want to! We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don't dance, and if they don't dance, they're no friends of mine."

“We can dance if we want to! We can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, well they’re no friends of mine.”


When mom’s busy, your sister’s ear apparently acts as a fine pacifier.


Lamb levitation.


Puppy? Lamb?


I have some lambs with attitude this year. I call her Queen of All I See.


And this is Mr. I Think My Shit Don’t Stink. (But he is quite handsome. Just don’t tell him I said so.)


“Look, I can touch my ear with my toe and not tip over!”


“Who wants a ride in the rocking tub?”


My photographic efforts were being met with a bit of suspicion.


“Why is she laying on the ground with that thing stuck on her face?” “I don’t know, but I suggest we back away slowly… “


Trouble in the making.


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