Check out the other pages!

Monday, September 29, 2008


Fatty was standing by herself in the pasture this morning. Doing nothing. Just standing there being fat.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Eight is Enough

Remember that show? I may be dating myself, but I remember it. And I'm here to tell you ... eight is way too many ... dogs, that is. I have six now, and I'm way overdogged. If anyone is looking for a dog, send them my way. I have a few for sale. Males, females, younger, older, started, not started. I'm sure I have something I can find for them. Catch me on the right day, and I might even have a 19 year old kid for sale. ;)

Took Rob over to Helsley's and worked him. He blew me off initially and did things his way. We finally got it together and worked it out. Helsley also worked him in the round pen and got to see what he's like. Hopefully, between the two of us, we can find Rob a good home where he'll be able to work some. I don't know if he'll ever be a trial dog, but he'll make someone a useful dog, that's for sure.

Speaking of useful dogs, for my birthday, my friends got me a copy of Donald McCaig's "A Useful Dog." I started reading it tonight. It's a quick read, but let me tell you, it's very enjoyable. I feel like I am standing next to him the entire time he's talking. I look forward to reading some more of his stuff. Thanks, girls!

Stopped by the ASCA trial after the trip to Helsley's. All looked the same as yesterday, and Janie said she didn't need any help, so I headed home.

Cleaned up the backyard and mowed the lawn. I love that it's starting to get cool out, and it should be freezing overnight any time soon. I actually saw something a little heavier than dew on the grass in the pasture this morning.

Speaking of the pasture, Fatty is still out there ... eating casually as if it's another day in the park. She seems to be oblivious to the fact that she's as wide as a bus and as swollen as a puffer fish on helium. I would be afraid to stick her with a pin, as she might take flight like a balloon with a hole in it. "pbpbpbpbpbpbllllbbbbbbbbbssssshhhhhhhhhh!!!" I don't envy her. I wonder how many brats, I mean, er, cute little lambies she's gonna drop. I hope they are not plain boring white ones. If they are, I'm putting them back.

Happy tails,

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fatty still hasn't popped.

Woke up early this morning, putzed around for a while, then got ready to head out to the ASCA trial to watch Jaenne and Colleen compete. Ellie was coming over at 10:00. I was ready about 9:15, so I went out and worked Echo for a while. We worked on several different things. She was lovely. We got most of the sheep penned (they are lambs for the most part). When we left a few of them out, I got a brilliant idea (yeah yeah ... no comments please!). I asked her to peel the few sheep off the pen. I didn't hold out much hope that she would understand what I meant ... and once again she blew my socks off. I backed up away from the pen, she swung around and boom! All of the loose sheep were being fetched to me, leaving the freestanding pen full of their buddies! Now we've got a strong, artifically created draw to work with. Woo hoo! So I set it up so that she would walk into my feet, and then we would both drive the sheep away from the pen for a short distance. When she gave it to me, I would let her go to head and fetch them to me before they got back to their buddies at the pen. Then I figured out that if I do that on her comebye side, she is forced to cover and not come up short. She quickly figured that out and did really well with it. This dog just blows my doors off.

Ellie showed up promptly at 10:00 ... so we loaded Cedar, Echo and Rio into the truck and headed out. By the time we had gotten to the trial, Jaenne and Kip had already done their duck run. We hung out and saw some of the regulars: Roy, Lindy, Bob and Francis, Lisa, etc. Always an interesting dynamic at the ASCA trial. Stayed and watched Colleen and Jaenne do their runs. I'll let you read their blogs to find out how they did.

Ellie and I bought the dogs home and went out and checked on fatty. She's still fat.

Ellie worked Cedar in the pasture on a few lambs and a few ewes. They are becoming a great team!

Worked Echo again. Have I told you lately how much I love that little dog? She fetches beautifully, we penned the sheep a couple of times, and we did the figure 8 around the panels. We also worked on a little bit of driving. I keep thinking that I am going over her head, but it seems it's the other way around.

Still keeping my fingers crossed that I'll be able to swing the Shannahan/Helsley clinic. The funds aren't panned out yet, but I'm working on it.

Tomorrow I'm off to take Rob over to see Helsley. If he has time, perhaps I'll take a lesson from him, and hopefully, he'll get to see how Echo really works, especially after that not-so-stellar display at the CC fair.

Happy tails,

Friday, September 26, 2008

Changing of the guard?

Well this is going to be weird for me, not to mention weird for Zip, too. Echo has been working very nicely ... to the point where she's quite effective for chores. So I've been using her. I don't automatically reach for her first -- it is still very much a conscious decision, and only if I feel like turning my chores into a training session -- but it is moving along very quickly that it won't be long before I will be just grabbing Echo to do stuff because she's closer, or out at the moment and available, etc. She's more freed up than Zip, and seems to have more presence and/or power at times that things just move a little faster. I need to do a bunch of pen work with her, but geez, is she nice to have around. She gets better and better every time I work her.

And then the guilt sets in as Zip lays at my feet. I haven't used him at all today. I had small chores to do twice today, and I used Echo both times. Poor Zip. it will be nice, though, to have two dogs I can really count on for chores, though.

Off to the ASCA trial tomorrow to watch Jaenne and Colleen compete. Colleen and Reena are running started sheep, and Jaenne and Kip are running started sheep and ducks. Good luck ladies!

Happy tails,

Lamb Pen

Well, fatty hasn't popped yet. No, not me! Ewe! Poor thing looks so uncomfortable.

I hung out with an old friend last night. Bacardi. He's still here this morning, hanging around.

Ann made dinner last night ... chicken, broccoli, baked potatoes ... yum! Then I realized (after reading Louanne's blog) that Survivor started last night. Woo hoo! So I went out to work Echo before it started. Ann came with me.

I didn't feel like shedding off a set of adults, so I decided to see how Echo did on all the lambs. They were very flightly, despite that there's almost 20 of them. Echo was her usual awesome self. Interesting thing, though ... she was covering them very well -- even on the come bye side! Did a couple of outruns with her and she got as deep and as wide as she could and came all the way around on the top. Very pretty. But I didn't want to continue drilling the outrun, so I thought we'd try to stick these flighty little things in the freestanding pen (that they've probably never been in before).

The lambs wanted nothing to do with it.

The would sneak past the opening, and Echo would cover.

She'd come in a little tight, I'd verbally kick her out and she took it beautifully. I think she figured out pretty quickly that she needed to be way off the sheep for this. After a couple of splits around the pen and a couple of times of pulling them away from the pen and "resetting" ourselves, we got them penned! I was able to give Echo short flanks. She'd flank, I'd say "there" and she's stop and turn in very slowly. When they were all pointed in the pen, I asked her to walk up, and she very carefully walked in on them, saw that a small "away" adjustment needed to be made or there was going to be a split, she made the adjustment all on her own, and in the pen they all went! Woo hoo! Good job, girly girl! A lamb pen!

Sounds like it's time to start doing some chores with her. Maybe this weekend I'll set up some pen work for her and start getting her comfortable pulling sheep out of the small pens, moving them around from pen to pen, etc. It will be interesting to see how she handles the newborn lambs when they arrive. C'mon preggo!

I am completely smitten with this little dog. Off stock, she's completely passive aggressive with other dogs, dominant but not really, has a bit of bitch to her, but is as sweet as pie to me. She's a nice mix of everything all wrapped up in one tiny adorable body. She's my little Echo Monster.

Happy tails,

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flying Colors!

I have a rant. But first, a few notes.

The ewe out in my pasture that looks like she's about to pop any minute ... hasn't popped yet! Poor girl is waddling around, swollen, with bags so big they are causing her to waddle. She's gotta be packin' twins. If not, it's a baby elephant.

Rob is for sale.

And leading into my rant ... for starters ... as many of you know, Rio is for sale. Spay contract only. That's where people lose interest. Why? Because those interested in her are taken with her color and want to breed her ... for her color. The minute I mention a spay contract, you never hear from these people again. Yet the people that inquire have never worked stock before, and half of them are lucky they know sheep still exist.

For the last couple of years, I've been working very closely with the two litters that Zip sired. Occasionally, one is for sale. It's amazing the color freaks merles attract. They don't care how the dogs work. They aren't concerned with temperament. They don't care about anything but which colors the dogs "carry." They generally own several other crayola colored collies and are looking to add a merle to the bunch -- a lot of times knowing nothing about merle-to-merle dangers, etc.

Most recently, I have been corresponding with a woman who writes to me occasionally, asking me questions, etc. She wrote to me to tell me about her most recent litter. She primarily breeds red Border Collies. Well, a while back, she was looking at breeding her red female to her friend's red merle male. I looked at the pedigree of the male, and told her everything I knew about the lines, and none of it is good. She took the information, threw it out the window and bred her female to him and had a litter. So now she was writing to me to tell me that the puppies were on the ground. I look at her website and find out that she had different prices for red males, red females, red merle males and red merle females. Yikes! Are you kidding me? So I wrote back to her with a bit of a sarcastic response asking why the different prices, and surmising that I could probably charge extra because some of my dogs have blue eyes and throw blue eyes into their puppies. She wrote back, and I quote:

"The stud fee for this litter was $500 UNLESS I got merles, then it was $250 per merle up to $1000."

What? Get outta here! $250 per merle??? I could have made a small fortune off Zip's two litters! There were 4 merles in each litter! What was I thinking???

She then continued in another email ...

"Their color value is relative to the percentage of that color in the total population. The rarer the color the higher the value. The listed pups are priced for those markets and the merles at a comparative price to other red merles advertised."

"As far as the males being cheaper, that's something I feel strongly about. I've raised arabian horses, sheep, cattle, rabbits, dogs etc. and have always felt that for a male to be a sire, he should be outstanding. Most males aren't going to rate that. Therefore most males should be neutered. That cuts your usability down to pet and/or working. The females aren't held to quite as demanding a standard as their genetic imprint is much smaller than for a popular stud. In the females herding instinct, good temperment and good form to function conformation are a requirement but not at the extreme level a stud should be held to. Therefore breeding stock adds an extra dimension and value potential to the female. That's why I priced the males cheaper or if you'd rather, the females higher."

"As a buyer, you choose what qualities and characteristics you want and what you are willing to pay for that combination. Whether it's a pure black Arabian horse, a super fine fleeced alpaca, or a flashy working red merle border collie it all depends on what the buyer desires. When you go buy a car there are price variations for style, features, options, etc. All the vehicles will carry you from point A to point B. You choose what you want and you expect to have to pay for anything that's not standard, like four wheel drive. If my pups were overpriced for what they are, they wouldn't sell at all. If you choose to value all your pups the same, that's your choice. I've chosen to value my dogs at midmarket price for what they are, and lower that price if when they get old enough to judge, they fail to have the herding or working instincts."

Folks, I couldn't make this stuff up. Seriously. Where does she come up with the notion that merles are "rare"? There's NOTHING rare about merles. They are being popped out by the dozen all over the country. What she's missing is that they are not often trialed, because most often they are bred like shit because normally, the primary reason for breeding merles is to make cute merle puppies -- not to make good working dogs.

Anyway, I wrote her back with as much information as I could, being as frank as I normally am. No big suprise there. She responded and told me how offensive I was, and mentioned nothing about the substance of the conversation. Imagine that. Gee, that's original.

It's not offensive. It's honest. Something the world doesn't have nearly enough of anymore. Pure, politically incorrect honesty. Get over it.

I couldn't help but feeling that I just, once again, wasted my time.

I am so burned out on the color thing. I once had some ridiculous thought that I was going to breed the best merles on the planet and kick some ass on the trial field with them. My goal has done a complete 180. I would like to just blend into the boring black and white background and let others juggle the color freaks. I just want to work my dogs.

Happy tails,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

With a little bit of luck ...

Patrick Shannahan and Don Helsley are holding a sheep camp November 6-9, 2008. I'm sure it's worth every dime. Limited to 20 people, broken into two groups. 2 days with Helsley, 2 days with Shannahan. In the spirit of wishful thinking, I've put in for vacation for the 6th and 7th!

Keeping my fingers crossed ...

Monday, September 22, 2008

More additions

I picked up the trailer from Janie on my way home from my lesson at Dianne's the other day. I needed to move sheep from Ann's place to mine. There's only 4: one pregnant ewe, one full grown ewe with a lamb at her side, and a lamb Ann bought from me a few months ago. So we pull up to Ann's with the trailer, but I decided to leave it in the street than try to back it up a loose gravel driveway. We go in and halter one ewe and drag her up the driveway and put her in the trailer. She was not happy about this at all. I know these sheep (other than the lamb she bought from me) have only seen a dog once, and that was when I worked them for a few minutes several weeks ago, and they were as wild as March hare. But ... I grab Zip. Ann and I decide that we will halter the large ewe, the lambs will follow, and Zip will help encourage momma ewe along. Well momma ewe still wasn't all too thrilled and wasn't up for cooperating, but all went well. Zip did a nice job of keeping his cool, knowing all the while all he had to do was flick an ear and the fun stuff would have happened in an instant! We got momma ewe and her lamb into the trailer without a problem. The jersey looking lamb, though, wanted to play hide and seek around the trailer, and Zip was all too happy to accomodate her. Again, he kept his cool, even when she took off down the street, he calmly fetched her back to us, convinced her one slow, small, calm step at a time to back ... herself ... up ... slowly ... and ... get ... in ... the .... trailer. Thank you, Mr. Zippy. Good job, dude.

Got them home, opened the pasture gates, opened the trailer doors and they quickly found their way to their buddies.

The pasture, however, is saturated! Between all the rain the other night, the lack of sunlight and heat to help evaporate the water, plus the scheduled flood irrigation on the already saturated ground ... and my pasture has tons of water on it. I'm thankful for the water because doG knows we need it, but I cancelled class for Tuesday night. I moved (well, I didn't do shit ... Zip did ... thank you, Zip ...) all the lambs to the front part of my pasture, all the ewes to the back part of my pasture, and kept Russ' pasture empty. His is properly graded, so the entire pasture is very well soaked. Both my front pasture and the back pasture are, of course, not properly graded and have high dry spots for the sheep to lay down, etc.

Speaking of which, I have a ewe that looks like she's about to pop! She's huge, she's bagged up, and she's swollen. So any day now. I'll post photos of the little ones (I'm guessing twins) when they arrive.

Happy tails!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Always catching up

Once again, I'm behind. Let me see if I can get caught up here.

First off, let me start by saying how incredible my friends are. Last weekend was my birthday, and everyone got together and threw me a bash I won't soon forget! Tons of yummy food, lots of Corona, mix in some Crown, work some dogs, hang out by the fire, and laugh till your sides hurt. Besides that, they gave me a bunch of very cool gifts and really made my day very special! I cannot thank you guys enough! You're the best!

I've been working Echo pretty intermittently, trying different things so I can understand why she's coming up short on the comebye side. Fixing it is really testing my timing, forcing me not to use my body pressure, and consuming my thoughts. In fact, I think I might be over-thinking it, I think. Whodathunkit?

Anyway, several of us went out to Dianne's today. She is just incredible. Listening to her and watching her work with the other students is really teaching me a lot of very subtle (and some not-so-subtle) things. What an experience!

Susan came out today to help set sheep for us. Thank you, Susan! You're awesome!

I took some photos, so let's see if I can make some sense of this. Rhonda (Belle's owner - 1/2 sister to Echo) and I traded outruns, so there are no photos of Echo or Belle working, but I did get a few still shots of "the sisters."

Here's Echo:




And Belle:




And our wonderful host and trainer, Dianne, with Rose:


And a couple of shots of Rose:



Here's is a shot of Susan and adorable little Vangie!


And a couple of Vangie doing a wonderful job helping us out.



Here's Colleen discussing strategy with Reena:


And she's off ...!




Jaenne and Mo are making great progress!





And finally, here's Rob. Rob is staying with Ellie, who is doing a great job handling him! Ok ... we'll start with the photo Rob probably doesn't want you to see.


Ok, now that that's out of the way ... let's get to the more serious stuff, shall we?







Not bad, eh?


And last but certainly not least ... Katy and Scout. I took a couple of short videos of Scout, and I left the audio in instead of putting music over it. Too lazy, I guess. But I thought the conversation in this first clip was ironic considering what happened.

And here is another clip of Scout having a much better go of it, all the while I'm chattering away, but promised I would update my blog! So here I sit at 11:22 p.m. on the eve of an icky Monday morning fulfilling my promise!

So as soon as I have a fresh head, I will see if I can put into words the progress I am making at understanding the issue of Echo coming up short on the comebye side, and the process we're using to fix it.

Thank you for everything, Dianne and Susan! A great day was had by all!

(And shhhhhh! Let's not mention that I do not have ONE photo of any of those adorable little puppies we were playing with. And we all made it out alive!)

Happy tails,


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Doing My Homework ...

The last time I was out at Dianne's, she was showing me how Echo is not covering on the come bye side, and how I was (unknowingly) balancing to her, thereby negating the need for her to come to balance to me. (At least I think this is what I think Dianne was trying to get through my thick skull.) So, I went out and practiced today. My first goal is trying to really see and understand what it is she's doing, all the while being very conscious of my handling. Therefore, I set up several different scenarios and tried to really clearly show the different results by the various handling techniques to see what works and what doesn't. Here goes.

From the triangle pattern: (For a lack of better description of what I call the "triangle pattern" ...) Dog at 12:00, sheep at 6:00, handler at 9:00. After handler sends the dog, handler moves to 12:00, dog should fall into balance at 6:00. Clear as mud?

I sent her ... and you can see she stopped at about 10:00 ... the sheep were getting away, so she covered, but still didn't cover all the way, so sheep continued on their escape, which forced her to cover fully.

Standing between her and the sheep: And I sent her. You can see she still came up short, I said nothing and didn't move. She saw the escape happening, so she covered tight, sort of broke a ewe off, and if it wasn't for the irrigation canal, she would have chased it, but her momentum forced her to cover.

From my side: Sent her from my side, and not surprisingly, she crossed over, and covered on the side that is more comfortable to her.

Triangle pattern with pressure: This time, I used the triangle pattern, but rather than walking from 9:00 to 12:00, I went from 9:00 to 4:00, putting pressure on her all the way through the top of the outrun and as soon as she came to balance, I backed up, releasing the pressure. Seemed to work very nicely. However, this is how I have been working with her, and I think this method is what caused the problem in the first place? I have no idea.

Verbal correction for coming up short: Here I stood directly between her and the sheep, and sent her. When she came up short, I gave her a small verbal correction and a re-direct, and she took it in stride, and I sent her all the way around. Will this fix it? I don't have a clue.

Away to me: This is what her away side looks like. Much more confident. She comes all the way around and covers nicely.

So ... we'll see. A work in progress, I guess.

Here are some photos of her from today.

Echo Fetch

Echo style

come bye side

Covering away

walk up ...

Tired, hot girl...

Let's go get some water!

Happy (& wet) tails!

Catching up ...

Sheesh! Time gets away from me!

Well, after much bitching and complaining (and I mean "MUCH"), I finally cleaned up the mess the Bosnians left me. It wasn't really "in" the bags. It was sort of flopped on top of the bags and then sort of covered up. There were feet and blood everywhere. The entrails were all bloated, and there was a flyfest on them by the time I got out there. I had to re-bag all of that incredibly nasty smelling crap. I am suprised i didn't hork. Katy, of course, was here to help me. Katy, you're incredible. Thank you! My trash didn't get picked up for a couple of days, so that lovely smell got to stick around while we waited to see if the trash guys would take it. They did. I owe them.

Tuesday night was different. The sheep were, understandably wigged out because they could smell the blood. So were the dogs. I probably was too. I threw my back out trying to get the sheep back into the round pen, where they really did NOT want to go and I don't blame them. (It was better the next morning, though, thank doG.) Colleen didn't make it out, however, Ellie and her husband Joe, and Ellie's dog Cedar came out and practiced. She is doing a very nice job with Cedar. Valerie and Bolt came also. They are looking quite nice. Jaenne came with Kip and Mo, but not before running to D&B and getting me some dog food when I came to the horrible realization that I was completely out. Thank you, Jaenne! They did a very nice job of putting the sheep away. This Tuesday, I hope to be able to give them the job of sorting the sheep. They are more than ready. Ann also came Tuesday night and worked Rio. They will be a great team!

Wednesday night, Katy, Colleen, Ellie and I took the dogs out to Dianne's for a lesson. I took Echo. Working her is like a kaleidoscope, it's constantly changing. I could not get her to come to the top of her outrun on the come bye side. The away was better, but not perfect. But she is definitely stopping short on the come bye side. Dianne tells me it's because she's manipulated me into coming to balance to her instead of making her come to balance to me. And then much to my horror, pointed it out the minute I did it. I have to plant my feet and make her do it. Then I asked Dianne to work her to see if she was getting the same result. She basically did, although it was easier for her to encourage Echo to go all the way around. She then backed up to the wall, and Echo wasn't all that crazy about going in, causing a mess and covering it. Her eye is starting to lock in and she was preferring to lie down and hold the sheep to Dianne, despite Dianne's encouragement. So she showed me what she wanted me to practice with Echo until our next lesson. I have homework. Woo hoo!

After our lesson, we all went out to eat. We wanted to go to Red Robin, but it was closed. So we ended up at Shari's or something. The food was ok, but we were all too busy laughing to notice. We made a ton of noise in there and I'm sure the staff was all ready to kick us out. Oh ... something I forgot to mention. (Ok, this blog is going to get really long.)

When we were leaving Dianne's house after our lesson, we all pile in the truck except for Colleen, who comes to tell me that my tailgate fell off. What? So I go out there, and sure enough, one side of the tailgate fell off. It's dark where we are parked and I can hardly see what I'm doing, so Ellie is holding my phone up so the other three of us can see what's happening. Someone said, "I wonder if Dianne has a flashlight we could borrow." So as I am holding the tailgate, I look around to where Dianne is standing (under some very nice bright lights) and I say, "Hey Dianne, you got a flashlight we can borrow?" So blonde Dianne says, "Why don't you just back your truck up over here under the lights?" Talk about feeling like an idiot! So we do. Then the 4 of us are still trying to figure out how the tailgate goes on and why it's not staying on when we try to close it. So we consult the blonde again who says, "Hmmm ... maybe this is blocking it" and reaches in and moves one of our chairs out of the way and ... shuts the tailgate. LMAO! Wow. Did I feel like a heel!?!?!

So I am sure that experience set us up for the giggles at the restaurant. So fun!

I got home that night, let the dogs out for a few minutes (it's now 11:30 p.m.), I let them back in ... and Rob is missing! Ugh! He jumped the fence. I hop in my truck and drive down the street. I can see which way he went initially because of the very wet pee spots, but I was ultimately not able to find him despite my best effort. About an hour and a half later, I come home, make up a flyer, email a few rescue contacts and go to bed. I slept like crap thinking about poor, scared Rob. I found him in my dog room the next day ... apparently he had come home at some point and my roommate let him into the dog room. Thank doG! Whew! It was breaking my heart to think of him out there by himself.

Ellie told me that she would like to babysit him for "the day," so I went and dropped him and his crate off at her house. Then she told me later that she was going to hang on to him until her lesson with Dianne on Saturday morning and see what Dianne thinks of her taking him. He's such a good boy. I kind of miss his face peeking at me from the side of the couch.

So, Saturday night, Katy comes over with Scout and some Coronas and we work dogs in Russ' pasture. (For some reason, my pasture was already flooding.) I worked Skar. She is still way eyed up, but I love her. She's got so many good qualities, but if there was one thing I could change, it would be how much eye she has on stock. Makes her pretty sticky. I need to work her more, continue keeping her on her feet, and I just now thought of something. I should try the wall trick with her and maybe that will help free her up.

Then I worked Echo. She was stopping short on the come bye side a little bit but it was much easier to get her to come completely around. I wonder if it has something to do with the arena v. the open space. I did the wall trick on my fence, and she had no problem coming in, making a mess, and covering her stock and staying on her feet, which I think is exactly what Dianne was trying to show me the other night. I hope at our next lesson that we are outside so Dianne can see the difference. Yes, I need to be able to have Echo work in small spaces, but I think the walls and the echo in the arena makes her uncomfortable.

Anyway, I heard from Ellie. She worked Rob at Dianne's on Saturday and said he did very well. Dianne recommended that she hang on to Rob until she gets back from the finals and they can work him out in the desert and see how he does for her. Ellie posted the video of her and Rob! Check it out!

Off to Art in the Park with Ann and Katy! Woo hoo!

Happy tails,

Monday, September 1, 2008

An Interesting Weekend

Well, I had my first experience with slaughtering and butchering a lamb this weekend. Well, I didn't do it, but I got to watch. A Bosnian gentleman named Safeco, his wife and their lovely, young daughter contacted me last week to see if they could come out, pick out a lamb and slaughter it on my property. They live in an apartment and have no place to dress it out. Not having any idea what it entailed, I said, "Sure, that would be fine." I immediately was asking my rancher friends what, if anything, I needed to know. A couple of tips and I was good to go. But not before calling Katy and begging her to be here with me! Such a sissy!

So the family comes out. What nice people! Zip and I held the lambs while they picked one out. I caught it and handed it over to him, and then moved all the rest of my lambs out of the round pen and set them out to pasture. He needed some twine to tie the legs together, so I gave him some and quickly skedaddled out of there. Not being able to stand not watching, and being the big weenie that I am, I watched the slaughter from the window. It was very unremarkable. He cut what I am guessing would be the jugular, and then quickly cut the twine and freed the legs. He'd obviously done this before. I helped him carry the lamb to the spot under the tree, and watched him peel back the skin off the hocks, and hang the lamb up by the "ankles." He allowed me to hang out and watch him and ask all kinds of questions. He explained himself as well as he could in his broken English, and his daughter would occasionally translate. He skinned it all out, took all the intestines out, showed me what's good and what isn't with the intestines, emptied the stomach, etc. Apparently they also use the head, so he cut the head off and then sawed the entire lamb right down the middle. Bagged it all up and put it in his truck.

When I gave him the lamb for free for allowing me to watch and learn, you could see that his wife was very touched by the gesture. The man offered to come back on Sunday morning and slaughter and butcher a lamb for a friend of mine who showed up right as he was finishing. I think it will take a few times of me watching to build up the hootzpah to try it myself. So on Sunday, now that I was more comfortable with him, I planned to stick right by him as he does the slaughter and have him show me how. Simply fascinating.

Why am I so interested in learning how to do this? I had one lamb break a leg last year, and I didn't know how to kill it, and no one that was at my house knew how to either. I felt awful watching it lay down and shiver in shock. We called a friend of mine who came over and picked it up, splinted the leg, only to have it die a month or so later because it was never one of the stronger lambs. I feel that as long as I am raising, breeding and using these sheep, that it's my responsibility to take care of them the best I can in any situation -- and that includes knowing when to end it, and more importantly, how.

So, Safeco came back on Sunday morning, slaughtered and butchered a lamb for Ann, and then decided to get another one for himself. I helped him catch one and I helped him hold her down while he slaughtered her. I don't know that I could watch that again, no less do it myself. That was tough. Anyway, once she was dead, we carried her over to the tree, hung her up and I again watched him work. He's very clean and meticulous. He then called some family, who wanted to come out and get some more sheep.

Turns out the guys who showed up later in the day were Safeco's brother-in-law and a couple of buddies of his. They had a much different method. I didn't watch the slaughter this time, but before I knew it, the head was off, and they were both standing at the picnic table (that someone's 4 year-old son was sitting on) cleaning the head. Just to show a difference in culture, the 4 year-old was sitting there happily playing with one of his "uncles" and laughing and stuff. When I went out to check to see if everything was ok, I hadn't even entered the pasture yet when the 4 year-old started screaming. The uncle tells me he's afraid of "the dog." Zip was at my side and totally focused on the sheep in the pasture, and was nowhere near the 4 year-old. But the 4 year-old could have reached out and touched the sheep head. Feeling burned out on the whole thing, I again called Katy who came running to my rescue. Thanks, Katy! You're awesome!

Anyway, the rest of the process wasn't as clean, neat and well thought out as Safeco's method from the morning. Safeco was friendly, respectful, and cleaned up everything when he was done. You didn't know he was even here. After the second group of guys left, I have 3 black bags of entrails, lots of feet strewn about (some hanging on a fence), the skin to the head over where the picnic table was, they'd moved the picnic table to use it as a cutting board, never put it back, never cleaned it off, etc. The area is a mess, and I'm not impressed. Safeco is welcome back. The second group will have to find somewhere else to get their sheep.

On a much better note, as I mentioned earlier, Safeco slaughtered and butchered a lamb for Ann Sunday morning. So Sunday night, Ann invited me, Nick and Katy over for BBQ lamb. To this point, the only time I'd eaten lamb was in a pita at a restaurant, and it was very tough and gamey. Not Sunday night. It was marinated in red wine, garlic and rosemary, grilled perfectly, served with yummy potatoes and a wonderful salad and crispy loaf of bread. It was probably one of the best meals I've ever eaten. I'll never look at my sheep the same again!

Happy tails,


Rob came to me from a ranch in Sweet, Idaho. He was professionally trained, and the worked on a ranch for a couple of years. I bought some sheep from the ranchers about a year ago, so when they decided to move and determined that they couldn't take their dogs with them, Rob was offered to me. I've had him for a couple of weeks now, he works wonderfully and he is a sweet guy.


Rob head shot

Sitting back and taking an objective look at this was not easy to do, but I have decided that it would be best for Rob to find him a home where he can work and be the primary (if not only) dog for someone. He's a really sweet dog, and he deserves it. If interested, please email me and I'll give you the details.

Happy tails,