Once again, we were on horseback today. This time to gather the steers off our BLM lease ground. We will be selling them on Monday, so we have to gather, retag, and weigh them. Today was a big gather, though 2 weeks ago we also gathered this pasture and brought home our cows and calves. It went well. Elsa was dog of the day. This pasture is way too big for Lucas to handle! Lucas’ disappointment was as big as Elsa’s excitement. And Elsa pretty much had a perfect day. Heeling steers is an entirely different ballgame than heeling cows… and Elsa handled them expertly. She goes into a high bounce, comes down, tilts her head, and bites! Good girl! If she could move yearlings all the time, she’d improve her confidence immensely! The photograph above shows the early hour of the morning… and Elsa returning to me. She’s a difficult subject to photograph. She rarely gets in front of me unless she’s moving cattle! And here we’ve just begun our day, so as soon as I stopped to take the picture, she quickly turned and came back to get behind my horse. Pay no attention to my horse’s ear in the photo! I took many pictures today, most didn’t turn out as the delay on the camera often foils my perfect shot… but I’ll post some more tomorrow. After waking up at 4 am, I believe I’m ready for bed!
With all of the rain we’ve had, it has turned out to be a good grass year! The stock should all be fat and happy! Our haying season has begun as well, turning all this great green bounty into winter feed. Daniel is our mower man, happily cutting hay down all day long. As long as his music and air conditioner continue to work, Daniel remains a happy camper quite content to slice through anything green! Victoria is our hay raker. It is her job to turn the hay with the rake and speed along the drying process. It also throws together windrows so that Brandon, our baler extraordinaire, doesn’t have to make as many passes across the field to bale the hay. Vernon spells Brandon at times, and fills in on any other job necessary. John, my father-in-law, is amazing at stacking the hay into neat, orderly, and solid haystacks. Everyone irrigates, too. I’m the useless one in the process, seeing as how when I get close to hay, I have relatively impressive allergy attacks! With three places to hay, the new Mills place, our home place, and our Christopherson lease, from here on out it will be a circle of water hay, cut hay, rake hay, bale hay, stack hay, and repeat.
When the pups were small, we played a game I called “Puppy Soccer”. It encouraged their chasing skills and was extremely fun to watch. I videoed it once and put it on YouTube. You can find it there or search my blog for it. I wondered if D would remember it… Dally has played it on occasion, though it is not the same without 9 brothers and sisters! I sent the ball rolling and it took D a grand total of .5 second before he was on the chase! Dally saw the action and quickly joined in. They are captured above in the split second of pause before the ball rolled again and they were on the chase. Excitement was building and Dally went in for the kill… unfortunately, she did kill it! D was so excited for the game, he continued to try to play it with the flattened ball. Fetching and returning it to me to throw again… it just wasn’t the same… and 5 minutes later he lay down, defeated by the airless ball. Ok, D, next time I go to town, I’ll invest in a $2 ball for you again! Just don’t kill it!
I’ve only met my English Shepherds…well, I’ve met two 8 week old pups…but my pack are all I know personally. The internet has been an amazing resource for learning of other English Shepherds. And between the 12 I’ve met, their ability to take things in stride has been remarkable. D came to us at one of our busiest times of the year. We spent days cowboying in the badlands and bringing pairs home, sorting them, branding them, and relocating them. D had to be kennelled so we could leave safely without him following us. He took it without whining or barking. When our work was done, days after D arrived, he joined in our new daily routines. Since D belongs to Bryan, I felt he should be partnered with a male here as well, and asked Daniel to be his temporary owner. He now thinks he should be able to go with Daniel anywhere. They are a good team! He has been in the pickup, the tractor, and the excavator. A simple invitation and D is his partner! D dog and Daniel, a winning combination!
When Lucas and Elsa had their litter last November, one puppy stood out due to his coloring. Drifter, as I called him, had a drift of white snow on the right side of his face. Not simply a wide blaze, a bald face, atypical in English Shepherds. Among the four males in the litter, Drifter was the most agressive. Doux was clearly Alpha, but he was relaxed and led by stature after the others had first checked out the situation. Drifter on the other hand, was first on the scene, investigating every new situation. I had great hopes of him being a heck of a cowdog! I found him a great owner … Bryan Pickeral who lived just over the mountain. We made plans on meeting up on the mountain this summer where we both run cattle. Unfortunately, I found out a few weeks ago, that Bryan had been in a horrific car accident, rolling his pickup and being ejected through his windshield. A week after I found this out, Bryan called me. He had, of course, lost his job and therefore his home on the ranch on which he worked. He asked if I could take Drifter, now called “D”, for a while. He had just returned home after months in the hospital, and couldn’t take D into his apartment in town. Bryan was hoping to get a house and would take him back as soon as possible. So D has returned home. Scared at first that Lucas wouldn’t welcome his son back with open arms since both are intact, we controlled their first meeting. Lucas said, “I’m boss.” D said, “Fine by me.” And that was that. Elsa on the other hand enforced her feelings of superiority, which again was fine by D. Dally played boss #2, or is that 3??? but accepted him as well. It has been a fairly easy transition to accept him back. I asked my son Daniel to take D under his wing… hoping that bonding to a male here would help D retain his bond with Bryan when they are reunited. Watching D is fun… The left side of his face is uncannily like his father. His light coloring is very much Elsa. D is a “people person” in Bryan’s words, and sure enough, just like Lucas, D is thrilled to meet people. D took all the strangeness in stride. He sleeps in the kennel at night. He goes with Daniel everywhere he can. He has cowdog instinct, but calls off easily. He prefers to shadow me like Elsa over running ahead like Dally and Lucas. Never did he act nervous or shy or traumatized. He and Dally are now best friends (or brother and sister!). It has been a great experience meeting one of “our” pups again.