We went razor clamming again last weekend, and the weather was amazing! Not a cloud in the sky, no wind, warm and sunny. The dogs were happy to get some long beach runs after a lot of winter cabin fever. When we go out of town, sometimes my parents farm sit for us. But sometimes they are also going clamming, or taking an RV trip somewhere else. I wasn’t sure if they were going to join us, so I had booked a farm sitter to feed the animals while we were gone. They ended up not going clamming, but I don’t like to cancel farm sitters after they’ve blocked out their schedule for me, so I kept the engagement.
February 28, 2015
February 15, 2015
Bronte is six. Where does time go? When I brought her home, it was in a hurry, to deal with immediate coyote-killing-sheep problems. She was a half-grown pup, who grew into her job, and maturity, very slowly. At the time, there was no time to think about spaying, I needed her out with the sheep yesterday. And, I think part of me thought I may have wanted to breed her someday. But part of me always thinks that, and thus far, has always been wrong. Even her breeder stopped breeding LGDs. The litters are huge, the pups grow fast and eat a lot, it’s tough to find suitable working homes for them, and sometimes you get them back later and have to re-home them.
Later, we got Moses, so I had a backup guardian dog. Moses was already neutered when he came. I started to think about spaying Bronte, but there still didn’t seem to be any urgency. Knock on wood, we just don’t have issues with loose or stray dogs here, so there was little concern she’d be accidentally bred. I considered whether maybe I’d never spay her. I waffled. This would be no ordinary spay, on many accounts.
February 8, 2015
I was tidying up some photo folders, and founds some shots from last summer, when I toured the US Meat Animal Research Center (MARC) in Nebraska. The tour was arranged as part of our annual Katahdin Hair Sheep International (KHSI) “Expo” conference. Our educational sessions were also held there, in the large auditorium they have. Timely, since last month, the New York Times published a very damning article about MARC. I’ll provide a link to that at the end, in case you haven’t seen it. But first, I’ll present my view and experience with MARC.
February 1, 2015
Yesterday was our big Country Living Expo event, where each year, one has the challenging dilemma of choosing just five classes to take out of a few hundred. We had the good luck of securing Temple Grandin as a presenter this year, and I was eager to see her speak in person. Her talk was good, though if you are already familiar with her work, it was kind of a “Temple Grandin 101” speech about cattle handling. But I think Dr. Grandin never fails to be an interesting and engaging speaker!
She spoke for just under an hour, then the whole second hour was left open for questions. I am not a good auditory leaner, so I often take notes during a lecture just so I pay attention and retain more, even if some of it is stuff I’ve already heard or read. Here are some randomized snippets of stuff I wrote down during her speech and question-answering. Plus, one boring photo of sheep and dogs in deadgrass winter, just because a post needs a photo, ya know? I wasn’t as clever as you-know-who-you-are who managed to have a photo taken with Temple Grandin so she could put it on Facebook!
January 25, 2015
It seems every few months, a new discussion about mean rams surfaces on Facebook. This seems to sum up the general rule repeated there by everyone, everywhere: “all rams are inherently mean, watch your back, or they will always try to kill you. Don’t ever pet them, hand feed them, or otherwise fraternize with them. It’s good to whack them hard with a pitchfork right at the outset, to show them who’s boss!” I would like to propose a modified version of this folklore, only for those who are interested in considering a different perspective.
January 19, 2015
A while back, I started noticing this dust layer beginning to accumulate around my grain bags in the barn. I walked by it for days, half-consciously noticing it; then becoming more conscious that the pile seemed to be sort of… expanding. I made a mental note to look at some under the microscope. I was worried that it could be some kind of mold dust. I happened to stick my hand into the middle of one of the grain bags, and felt heat in the middle: not good.
Finally, I remembered to investigate. I scooped up a bit of this fuzzy tan stuff in my hand to take a closer peek. It looked like it was moving, but I thought surely this was just a trick of my eyes. I slipped some onto a microscope slide, topped it with a coverslip, and brought it into the house. I flopped into my office chair, flipped on the scope light, and took a gander. And, holy bejeezus, what I saw just about make me fall outta my chair! Hundreds, literally layers upon layers of mites- yes, those hideous, prehistoric, hairs-sticking-out-of-corpulent-body-and-too-many-legs critters; all crawling over each other, and other debris, in a zombie jumble. The whole mass was in a mosh pit of motion, trying to spill off the slide. So, my eyes hadn’t lied: this wasn’t dust or mold, this was a freaking living carpet of grain mites on my barn floor! Gaaah!
January 11, 2015
I put this rooster in the barn months ago, maybe around lambing time. He had a wound on his foot, probably from fighting with other young roosters, and he was limping. The others were hassling him, so I stuck him in the barn for some respite. I sprayed some antibiotics on it a few times. It healed on the outside, but must have sequestered infection on the inside. This is apparently called bumblefoot.