Questions and Answers – October Edition

Let’s jump right in!

Cannot believe what happened to the lady in your memorandum. That is truly tragic. I know the ES (English Shepherd) families are in total shock. Huge loss…..Could you post for others what you know of this? Prayers to all connected…..  Judy

Judy, we don’t know much.  Marcia went on a walk on their property with her dog, Keeva, (Lucas’ sister) and a pup of Keeva’s that she had kept.  Somehow she and the pup ended up in a well tank (this is not a deep well!)  Speculation is the pup fell in, and Marcia leaned in too far, fell in, and hit her head.  It was a freak accident.  The English Shepherd community is *small* and we know most of each other by name.  We are all shocked and saddened at the loss.  I am full of tears when I think of her needless death… and another ES person mentioned “When you feel a breeze today, it is all those tails wagging as Marcia comes to meet them across the Rainbow Bridge.”  If you feel saddened, please join me and make a donation to the National English Shepherd Rescue in Marcia’s name.   You can use Paypal.  Keeva is sticking close to Marcia’s husband’s side.  The puppy, Sage, passed with Marcia.

How often does your family ever get out of town? Ever need a vacation, or do you just head over to the nearest grocery store for a vacation?   Grace

Grace, the one thing about ranching for us is most days off come because of the weather!  The guys work from 7 am – 6 pm.  No weekends off.  No holidays off unless there’s no work that needs to be finished.  I always hope it doesn’t get too cold before Christmas, so you don’t have to chop ice and/or feed cows before presents!  We did drive to Idaho last year to pick up a snowmobile after the big snowstorm… we spent the night in Jackson!  A few years ago, we actually *DID* take a vacation… Vernon wanted to take a cruise!  I didn’t want to, but my friends told me I was crazy!  I said yes, only after he agreed we could go take in some Mayan ruins in Mexico.  I actually cried as I saw my first ruins!  These were things I had studied in Anthropology, and I never, ever, thought I would get to see one in person!  It was great.  The cruise part was OK… and, Vernon, though swearing he just wanted to “sit there and watch the water go by”… was indeed, soon bored by just “sitting there”!  A day’s trip here and there is just about all we ever take as a couple.  I would take the kids places when they were young… but as they got older… and able to work… all that fell by the wayside!  I do need a vacation more than Vernon … and always managed trips to visit my mom… now that she’s gone… I don’t have any plans.

Question: have you been curious about the new dinosaur that was just found: Kosmoceratops? My students are fascinated by this find, and are sort of boggled by all of the horns it has!  Marilyn

Marilyn, as crazy as I am about Native American archaeology, and lately, fossils… I’ve never been overly dinosaur crazy.  I learned the basics for my boys as they went through that phase… and I’ve hunted dinosaur bones… the Big Horn Basin is a great place for them!  But, somehow, it’s the other items I get excited about!  Though, Kosmoceratops is a very distinctive and just cool looking critter!

BTW: I miss your OOPE photos.  Linda D.

Linda, thanks… I quit labeling them as OOPE… though I’ve used some lately!  The new (now dysfunctional) camera was easy enough to hold in one hand and hold relatively level, so you might not have recognized them… for example, The Best We Could  entry from just a few days ago qualifies as OOPE.  Since that camera no longer works, look for more OOPE photos from my old Olympus and the fanny pack!


Tell us how you and Vernon met and fell in loooooove!!!!!   xoxoxo S.

Shreve, you’re not the first to request this… and I haven’t forgotten… I’m working on it.  Don’t hold your breath, but it *IS* in the works!

Oh, (this) makes me miss my home state! My husband and I are currently living in Seoul, and your blog is my gateway back to Wyoming. I sit among the city’s towering concrete walls, and I’m suddenly transported back to the mountains I grew up in. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this.  Amber

Amber, you’re quite welcome!  I’ve taught Koreans and researched Seoul as part of that… I can’t imagine living there!  If there’s anything else I can do to ease that congestion in your heart, let me know!

I did follow some of your advice on teaching the dog to be in between the pens without getting spooked and it worked.  Anyway, I thought I’d ask you something about herding cattle (since Swedish vallhunds are supposed to be cattle herders but we only have goats and sheep available).

1. do you start your dogs on cattle or something smaller?

2. how old are they when you start them?

3. how different is herding cattle apart from the size? (do they move according to the same principles as smaller stock and are they more likely to take a stand against dogs)?  Annika

Annika, I’ve toyed with the idea of having some dog training tips on this blog… and I’m awfully tempted, though I’ll be the first to admit, I have tons to learn myself!  If anyone else is interested, I might start throwing some basic tips out there.  I’ll answer your questions quickly.  1. I only have cattle, so I don’t start them on anything else.  Common rule of thumb is to start them on sheep or goats and move them to cattle once the basics have been learned.  My problem with that is the dog will need to adapt to a totally different style… we don’t move cattle like sheep.  The dog will need to learn the difference!  2.  One of those questions that has no definite answer… When the dog is ready.  Hold off until at least 6 or 7 months if injury is a possibility.  Bones fuse right around then, but they can still be clumsy.  If they are going to be scared or beat up by the stock, wait until they are confident and secure which may be age 2 or 3.  Our best dog ever was worked his first time at 4 months when he outworked the other two adult dogs present.  I waited until Dally was one until she had her first very big day… Know your dog.  3.  Cattle are herd animals but do not pack tightly like sheep.  Every herd is different depending on the owners.  We like our cows to line out and trail because we travel large distances.  If you need to bring in five milk cows, that’s totally different.  The must be “dog broke” or they will take a dog.  Cows vary widely in temperament.  I think a mean ol’ nanny can be just as bad, but she only weighs 100 pounds versus 1200 in a big old cow!  Big difference!  These are short simple answers to complex questions… but all I can do right now!

I was wondering about your progress with finding a suitable stud for Dally. What are your requirements in a stud for her? Beverly

I am agonizing over this!  1. Unrelated, if possible.  You know ESs… it’s a small gene pool!  I wasn’t going to line breed, but I can see where you’d get to that point if you couldn’t find anything else!  2.  Working ability.  I’d like to be able to see the stud and how he handles livestock.  Quiet.  Slow.  Forcefulness and aggressiveness well balanced.  More aggressive is not a bad thing as Dally could use more!  3.  Good hips and well built.  60-75#  Manly.  Handsome.  4. Normal/normal MDR1 since Dally is Mutant/normal.  Not absolute, but preferred.  5. Sable.  So many potential mates are b/w or tri’s or b/t.  I really don’t want to add to the zillion b/w dogs in the state of Wyoming.  I love my sables!    But, I know, breed for working ability… sigh.  6.  Distance.  I’m not traveling to the coast to get her bred!  Vernon would have a cow!  7.  New blood?  I’m trying to find some ESs in Wyoming… I guess they’re out there, but they’re hard to find!  Just checking…

That is a gorgeous picture. Why don’t you sell copies on your site?  Judy


I just stopped into my local print shop to see what they could do for me.  I’m working on it!  Thanks!


As usual, you guys did great… I hope I caught them all… Ginny, you never wrote your questions down… send ’em in, girl!


This evening’s storm… that did nothing but blow leaves around…






October 8, 2009   Fairweather Cowboy… or not


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